Google Testing Domain Name Services

Google Testing  Domain Name Services
Google has unveiled plans for its own domain name registration service.  The company are “testing” a service that will allow consumers “to search, find, purchase and transfer” domain names for their business.

An increasing number of businesses are looking to set up their online presence, boosting demand for domain names.

Google’s move comes just as GoDaddy filed papers to raise $100m (£59m) via a share sale. GoDaddy is one of the world’s biggest domain name registration firms. This puts them in direct competition with GoDaddy,” said Keith Timimi, chairman of VML Qais, a digital marketing service agency.  According to its filing with the US authorities, GoDaddy had 57 million domains under management at the end of last year and generated revenues of $1.1bn.

Google is also one of world’s most popular online search engines.

Mr Timimi said there have “always been rumours within the industry that Google was a domain name registrar”. However, he said that Google had mostly used that service internally “to fight web spam and to help provide cleaner search results”. “Now it is leveraging that ability to offer this as a commercial service.”

Google said it has tied up with four firms that specialise in building websites – Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and Shopify – to help businesses create one of their own.  The firm said it was also working at providing “hosting services from a range of providers, as well as domain management support” to customers.

Mr Timimi explained that Google’s latest venture could also help it better market its other services such as AdWords to businesses keen on boosting their online presence. “The logic is pretty obvious – they can up sell their existing services,” said Mr Timimi. But he cautioned: “With their dominance in search, this may get some to worry if Google would use that data to help promote their services more than others”.

George Osborne – High Speed Rail Link Needed to Boost North

George Osborne  – High Speed Rail Link Needed to Boost North
A so-called HS3 high-speed rail link between Manchester and Leeds could help to create a “northern global powerhouse”, George Osborne has said. He told the BBC better road and rail links would allow cities across northern England from Liverpool to Hull “to take on the world”, as London did.
The chancellor said the plan could cost up to £7bn – but could be cheaper if existing rail lines were updated.

Labour said “nobody” believed the Tories could deliver jobs in the north.

Mr Osborne told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme – before a speech in Manchester – that the cities in the North of England were individually strong but were “collectively not strong enough”.  He said that in the past few decades giant global cities, such as London, had emerged – and that the string of northern cities, with better transport links and careful planning, could take them on and be “greater than the sum of their parts”.

Mr Osborne said the building of the east-west link should be considered as part of a review into the second phase of the £50bn HS2 high-speed rail project.

The current plan for the first phase of the project between London and Birmingham has proved controversial. Some residents are set to be disrupted and there is criticism of its price tag.

The government’s preferred route for the second phase involves extensions linking Birmingham with Manchester and Leeds – with the final route expected to be chosen by the end of this year.

Mr Osborne said in his speech that it was not “healthy for our economy, not good for our country” if “the powerhouse of London dominates more and more”.

Along with improving roads – the M62 already links Liverpool on the west coast with Hull on the east coast, via Manchester and Leeds – Mr Osborne says a new high-speed rail link should be considered, based on the existing rail route but with new tunnels and infrastructure. The fastest rail services between Leeds and Manchester currently take about 50 minutes – already quicker than many journeys across London.

“We need an ambitious plan to make the cities and towns here in this northern belt radically more connected from east to west – to create the equivalent of travelling around a single global city.
“I want us to start thinking about whether to build a new high-speed rail connection east-west from Manchester to Leeds.”

BBC political correspondent Vicki Young says Conservative support in the North of England has been declining and Mr Osborne’s statement will be seen as an attempt to show the party is keen to increase prosperity beyond its traditional strongholds in the south.  There is, however, little detail about how these plans would be funded, and Mr Osborne said he did not yet have timescales – but he wanted “to start a conversation”.

Mr Osborne also told the BBC he wanted to see new positions of elected mayoralties being created – including one for Greater Manchester along the lines of London’s – to help drive forward economic growth in the north.

For Labour, shadow chancellor Mr Balls said regional growth divides had “widened markedly since 2010”, when the coalition government was formed.  “On high-speed rail, we said months ago that we need value for money for the taxpayer and to improve the existing plans to maximise the benefits for the whole country, and strengthen the links between northern cities. Ministers need finally to start listening.”

Expedia to Accept Bitcoin Payments for Hotel Bookings

Expedia to Accept Bitcoin Payments for Hotel Bookings
One of the world’s largest online travel agencies, Expedia, has become the latest company to accept Bitcoin transactions as a form of payment. The firm will initially accept the virtual currency for hotel bookings only, and is currently restricting the trial to its US site.

But one Bitcoin watcher told the BBC this was “a big move” for the currency.

Expedia’s announcement comes after a turbulent few months for Bitcoin, which has been plagued by security concerns.

A number of smaller online travel sites already accept virtual currencies, including Travel Keys and CheapAir, but Expedia is the first company of its size to adopt Bitcoin.

Emily Spaven, managing editor of Bitcoin news site CoinDesk, told the BBC the move was “brilliant news” and it “brings digital currency further into the consciousness of the mainstream”.

In a statement, Expedia’s global vice-president, Michael Gulmann, said the company was “in a unique position” to “solve travel planning and booking for our customers and partners alike by adopting the latest payment technologies”. Expedia will use Bitcoin exchange Coinbase for processing transactions, but Mr Gulmann told the Wall Street Journal that the firm would not hold the currency, but would convert its Bitcoin deposits back into US dollars every 24 hours. However, as Ms Spaven points out, “that’s what most of the big companies are doing, because [the price of] Bitcoin is still massively volatile”.

Bitcoin, which is the world’s most prominent crypto-currency, has been the subject of much controversy in recent months.

The collapse of Japanese Bitcoin exchange MtGox, following a number of security breaches, harmed the currency’s reputation, and there have been several controversies surrounding taxation of transactions made with Bitcoin.

Bank of England Governor: Interest Rates will Rise…

Bank of England Governor: Interest Rates will rise ‘Sooner than Markets Expect’
The Governor of the Bank of England has signalled tonight that the era of record low interest rates is soon to end. Borrowing money has never been cheaper in Britain. The Bank cut rates through 2008 and 2009 to 0.5% and kept them there in an effort to stimulate an economy which had been knocked sideways by the global financial crisis.

But that emergency treatment could be needed no longer.

Speaking at the annual Mansion House dinner in the City of London, Mark Carney is about to say: “There’s already great speculation about the exact timing of the first rate hike and the decision is becoming more balanced. “It could happen sooner than markets currently expect.”

Based on his previous warnings that raising rates too soon could kill off the recovery, most economists in the City expect the first rate rise in April next year.

Those forecasts are now wrong. That first move – likely to be a quarter percentage point rise, is now likely to happen sooner.

The Governor was at pains to repeat his message that whenever the Bank starts to put up rates they will do it in a gradual and limited way but he is preparing borrowers for an important fact: you’ve never had it so cheap and you won’t again for some time.

Welcome to Bitcoin – An Explanation

Welcome to Bitcoin – An Explanation
Bitcoin is a form of digital currency, created and held electronically. No one controls it. Bitcoins aren’t printed, like pounds, dollars or euros,

they are produced by lots of people running computers all around the world, using software that solves mathematical problems.

Bitcoins are the first example of a growing category of money known as cryptocurrency. It is often referred to as a new kind of currency but it may be best to think of its units being virtual tokens rather than physical coins or notes. However, like all currencies its value is determined by how much people are willing to exchange it for.

Nobody owns the Bitcoin network much like no one owns the technology behind email. Bitcoin is controlled by all Bitcoin users around the world. While developers are improving the software, they can’t force a change in the Bitcoin protocol because all users are free to choose what software and version they use. In order to stay compatible with each other, all users need to use software complying with the same rules. Bitcoin can only work correctly with a complete consensus among all users. Therefore, all users and developers have a strong incentive to protect this consensus.

To process Bitcoin transactions, a procedure called “mining” must take place, which involves a computer solving a difficult mathematical problem with a 64-digit solution.

For each problem solved, one block of bitcoins is processed. In addition the miner is rewarded with new bitcoins. This provides an incentive for people to provide computer processing power to solve the problems.

To compensate for the growing power of computer chips, the difficulty of the puzzles is adjusted to ensure a steady stream of about 3,600 new bitcoins a day.

There are currently about 11 million bitcoins in existence.

To receive a bitcoin a user must have a Bitcoin address – a string of 27-34 letters and numbers – which acts as a kind of virtual post-box to and from which the bitcoins are sent. Since there is no registry of these addresses, people can use them to protect their anonymity when making a transaction.

These addresses are in turn stored in Bitcoin wallets which are used to manage savings.

They operate like privately run bank accounts – with the proviso that if the data is lost, so are the bitcoins owned.

Internet Marketing & the Benefit to your Business

Internet Marketing & the Benefit to your Business
Internet Marketing is the process required to establish and maintain consistently high rankings on major search engines for targeted keywords or phrases. Internet Marketing is important for many reasons including increased sales opportunities, achieved by attracting quality traffic to your website. Increased branding opportunities for your product or service and a higher market profile for your business.

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Growth Funders. Offering Online Investment Opportunities

Growth Funders Online Investment Project
Last night on the BBC Look North programme highlighted a new online investment and capital introduction platform. Growth Funders as they are known, help develop and operate online investment and capital introduction platforms. Technology, implemented in the right way, can open doors.

As an online equity-based crowd funding and co-investment platform, they look to match entrepreneurs, who have great ideas and potential, with investors who are looking to build strong investment portfolios. They also have professional partners who work alongside entrepreneurs to ensure that their businesses are investor-ready.

Raising capital is notoriously challenging, and can be time-consuming for everyone involved. Taking the process online can speed up investment. For the entrepreneur, it means not having to conduct numerous face-to-face pitches. Instead, it’s one pitch to a worldwide audience. For the investor, it means not having to sift through hundreds of investments, trying to sort the wheat from the chaff. We screen beforehand, only taking the businesses with high-growth potential, thereby increasing quality deal flow.

The aim of Growth Funders, to facilitate growth in start-up, early stage, and established businesses.

To find out more visit their website at https://www.growthfunders.com/

Apple Warms to Apps using Virtual Currencies

Apple Warms to Apps using Virtual Currencies
Apps accepting payments made with virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, could soon appear in Apple’s app store. The firm has changed its policy for apps to allow software developers to use “approved virtual currencies”.

Apple has yet to publish a list of which virtual currencies it considers to be “approved”.

Many have taken this to mean that the Bitcoin cyber-cash system will soon be included in Apple apps as it is the most widely used virtual currency. The policy change marks a significant shift for Apple, which before now has been aggressive in its policing of apps that use virtual currencies.

In late 2013 and early 2014 Apple took action against apps that used virtual cash even though many of the programs had been available on the store for months. Some apps removed virtual currency code from their program so they could stay on the store but others were forced out altogether.

Gliph, CoinJar, Coinbase, Blockchain and other apps were all affected by the action.  By contrast, Google has had a much more open policy, and there are now many Android apps that support different virtual currencies. Gliph developer Rob Banagale told the Bloomberg news service that he was now planning to submit a new version of his app to Apple that restored its ability to send and receive payments in bitcoins.

Virtual currencies are built around shared software that generates or “mines” coins by getting lots of computers to carry out complicated mathematical operations.

Apple’s decision comes as satellite TV firm Dish says it will accept payments made in bitcoins. In addition, the value of one bitcoin has been steadily rising in recent weeks. In late November 2013 each bitcoin was briefly worth about $1,000 (£596) but the value collapsed soon after. Current exchange rates suggest each one is now worth about $650.

Get Safe Online Anti-hack Site Crashes!

Apology for Crashed Get Safe Online Anti-hack Site
The head of a government-funded cyber-security advice website has apologised and said he was “not sleeping” after the site collapsed under heavy traffic.

Get Safe Online was publicised as being the place to go for advice to protect computers against a high-profile hack. But within moments of an announcement on Monday, the website collapsed under a deluge of visitors. Despite extra capacity being added, problems continued well into Wednesday morning.

The incident has called into question the UK’s ability to handle a more serious cyber-security crisis.

“It’s important for people to realise that this has been a learning curve for us,” said Tony Neate, Get Safe Online’s chief executive. “We’re looking at what we can do to make sure this won’t happen again. We’re sorry. I’ve had no sleep for two days.”

Security expert Graham Cluley said the incident “should have been much better handled”. He told the BBC: “Get Safe Online massively dropped the ball.

“If the government is going to rely upon Get Safe Online to distribute internet security advice, the site needs to invest in the infrastructure required to remain accessible at all times, every day of the year, because you never know when the next big security issue will crop up – and when the public will need advice urgently.”

Mr Neate said he did not believe the site was itself the victim of a hack attack, as some had speculated. “There is no reason to say this is a DDoS [distributed denial of service] attack. I’d love to say it was an attack – but it’s just the total amount of traffic that’s coming in.” He said the site had “quadrupled” its capacity, but access was intermittent on Wednesday, although at the time of writing appeared to have stabilised.

The announcement warning of the Gameover Zeus threat was made by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) just before 1400 BST on Monday.

A spokesman for the NCA said Get Safe Online’s down time was “disappointing”, but noted that the safety information was eventually also copied to the UK’s newly established Cyber Emergency Readiness Team (Cert) website.

Get Safe Online is funded by the government as well as the private sector. Its website lists an extensive number of partners and supporters, including PayPal, Barclays and Microsoft.

“The site is backed by the government and industry players,” said Mr Cluley. “The resources should be available to keep the site running even in times of high activity. “I hope they’ve learnt their lesson, and that it won’t happen again.”

Small Businesses – Bank Lending Falls by £700m

Small Businesses Feel the Squeeze as Bank Lending Falls by £700m
The UK’s “broken” business finance system came under fire yesterday as Bank of England pundits showed that loans to smaller firms slumped by more than £700m in the first three months of the year, despite efforts to boost credit.

Threadneedle Street’s latest snapshot of its flagship Funding for Lending scheme (FLS) – refocused to encourage small business lending – fell £723m among the 36 bank and building society participants in the first quarter. Overall business lending fell an even greater £2.7bn between January and March, although this is partly due to some of those banks caught by the crisis shying away from commercial property lending.

The fresh blow for smaller firms comes as the Government prepares to announce plans for legislation in next week’s Queen’s Speech to force banks who turn down credit to small companies to refer them to alternative lenders. The Treasury wants to encourage alternative sources of finance to SMEs to prevent a lack of credit choking off any recovery.

John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “It is concerning that lending to firms across the country has continued to contract even though the Funding for Lending scheme has been refocused towards business lending. This provides further evidence that Britain’s business finance system remains broken.

“Although more established firms have little difficulty in accessing the finance they need, the litmus test for the Funding for Lending scheme has always been whether young and fast-growing businesses are able to get the finance they need to expand and drive the recovery – and unfortunately many of these firms remain frozen out of the market.”

Phil Orford, chief executive of the Forum for Private Business, said the lending drop could have been even worse if not for the extension of the FLS, but added: “At a time when the economy is picking up there is no doubt the figures remain slightly disappointing.”
The Bank launched the FLS in August 2012 to allow banks to access cheap funding, as costs soared amid turmoil following fears of a break-up of the eurozone. The scheme has fallen far short of ambitions to grow net lending by £80bn, although lower funding costs have since reduced the incentive to tap the scheme. Banks and building societies have drawn down £43.3bn in total.

Participants are allowed to draw down £5 of funding from the FLS for every £1 of net lending to smaller businesses until January next year.  But the detailed data revealed taxpayer-backed Royal Bank of Scotland growing lending to larger companies by £774m at the expense of small businesses, where its lending sank £737m. Lloyds was the biggest lender to smaller firms, expanding loans by £536m, followed by Santander, up £179m.

John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Business, said: “There needs to be a greater focus by government and financial providers on making it easier for small businesses to access finance. We have been calling for the banks to open up lending to small firms and for the Government to break up the financial market to generate more competition among high-street banks and alternative lenders.  However, today’s figures show that, in spite of credit being cheaper now, small firms are still coming up against invisible barriers to accessing finance.”