Breakfast Briefing: Google Analytics flaw, Windows Phone 8 reboot bug, Intel killing CPU upgrades?

28 Nov 2012
Breakfast Briefing

Today's top tech stories feature Google, Microsoft and Intel

Today's top stories include a trio of Google snippets, including a major security hole. Plus, Microsoft promises to fix a random reboot glitch in Windows Phone 8 and Intel is rumoured to be banning processor upgrades.

Google security hole leaves websites at risk

UK blogger David Naylor has details of a major Google security flaw which means anyone with previous access to a website's WebMaster Tools (WMT) and other tools can regain access to the account. The situation is worrying as it means any former employees or contractor can regain access even if the have been blocked previously. Naylor reports that the issue also affects Google Analytics.

"From initial glance at our WMT accounts, we now have regained access to every old account we have previously been given access to, whether that is a previous client or maybe a site that came to us for some short term consultancy. What is also quite amusing (if you look on the funny side) is that you can see who won the client or who you won the client from," Naylor said.

"On a more serious note though, now that WMT is so much more powerful than it ever was there is a serious risk that damage could be caused to sites by people who no longer have permission to make changes. Things like disavow link lists, deindex urls or the entire site, redirect urls, geolocation alterations - a whole world of pain."

Microsoft identifies Windows Phone 8 reboot issue

Microsoft believes it has identified the mysterious glitch that was causing Windows Phone 8 handsets to reboot at random. The problem emerged last week, with various handsets affected at during different functions.

"We’re continuing to investigate some reports of phones rebooting and have identified a cause with our partners," Microsoft told AllThingsDigital, without explaining the problem or detailing whether all or only select handsets were affected. "We are working to get an over-the-air update out in December."

Could Intel really kill off CPU upgrades?

Rumours are doing the rounds that Intel may make a drastic change when it launches its Broadwell family of CPUs in 2014. The 14nm die-shrink of next year’s Haswell architecture could do away with its faithful LGA socket packaging in favour of BGA - "a dramatically different system which requires that processors are soldered directly to the system board," says our sister site Bit-tech.

Other rumours suggest its 2015 successor, Sky Lake, may still use the LGA socket, so this move is by no means permanent - or confirmed by Intel, we should add. There is also some logic to a pattern that would see the performance improvements of a new architecture (the tick) use a socket, and the more energy-focused die-shrink (the tock) be intended more for locked down systems. Still, it doesn’t look the most promising decision for the ongoing upgradeability of the desktop PC. Unfortunately we’ll be waiting quite a long time to find out.

How PR pollutes Google News

Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan cleverly illustrates how press releases are appearing as legitimate news stories on Google News, Bing and other reputable news outlets.

PRWeb, a service used to distribute press releases, was earlier this week blamed for false reports that Google had bought Wi-Fi provider IOCA. It seems someone used the service to send out a false press release with the express aim of pumping up IOCA’s share price.

PRWeb claims someone had managed to steal an IOCA employee’s identity to plant the false release, but Sullivan reveals how other dubious stories have made it past PRWeb’s verification and straight onto the search engines, where they are legitimised as news. It’s a shot in the arm for human editors, at the very least.

Google's human web raters exposed

Google has previously joked that it trains pigeons to help it rate the web, but The Register has taken possession of a copy of a manual for the home workers that help the search giant rate web pages. According to the manual, raters could be asked to rank the relevance of web pages as well as judge what is and isn't spam and porn. They also need to make judgements on the intention of a search and a site's reputation.

"Reputation research in Page Quality rating is very important," the manual explains. "A positive reputation from a consensus of experts is often what distinguishes an overall Highest quality page from a High quality page. A negative reputation should not be ignored and is a reason to give an overall Page Quality rating of Low or Lowest." It rather flies in the face of the common assertion that Google is purely driven by algorithm.

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