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Tech Industry

Week in review: Google steals the Buzz

Search giant unveils new social-networking tool, as well as a plan to help create ultra-fast broadband access. Also: The birth of a gaming start-up.

Now playing: Watch this: CNET First Look at Google Buzz
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As if seeking new worlds to conquer, Google announced forays into new territories this week.

In an attempt to convince the social media addicts of the world to spend more time on Google's sites than on competitors like Facebook or Twitter, the search giant unveiled Google Buzz--an ambitious attempt at organizing Web content by relevancy and applying it to social media. Google Buzz marries the Gmail Web interface with status updates and media-sharing technology, all while generating valuable data in the process.

An astounding amount of social-media content is produced every day, across Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and personal blogs, and Google's faith that it could one day index and organize the entire Internet has been shaken by this explosion in Web content.
•  Rafe and Josh debate Google's Buzz
•  Google co-founder Sergey Brin on Buzz
•  Google acquires social search engine Aardvark

Some see Google's new social-networking tool as a privacy nightmare. To others, Buzz is at its root an unwanted, unrequested pest. If you don't particularly want to see updates from contacts you never asked to follow, here's a handy guide for silencing Buzz from the desktop.
•  Google tweaks Buzz privacy settings

In other Google news, the company--never satisfied with the pace of change--plans a test that will give 50,000 to 500,000 people fiber-optic broadband Internet access with a network speed of a gigabit per second, starting as soon as this year. The company plans to use the experiment to test new ways to build fiber networks and to see what applications programmers can write.
•  Is Google a wolf in sheep's clothing to ISPs?

More headlines

New Office for Mac still coming this year

Microsoft says Office for Mac 2011 will include a ribbon user interface, as well as support for the browser-based Office Web Apps. Also, Outlook returns to the Mac.
•  Images: New Mac Office
•  Is Apple the new Microsoft?

Antipiracy update due for Windows 7

An optional update closes more than 70 "activation hacks" used to thwart the product's software protection mechanisms.
•  Windows update causing 'blue screens of death'

Feds push for tracking cell phones

Justice Department is expected to tell federal appeals court, in first case of its kind, that no warrant is required to obtain previous location data.

Gmail blocked in Iran ahead of protests?

Gmail users in Iran report problems as The Wall Street Journal notes that Iranian government says it will shut down Gmail. Text messages and Internet speeds appear affected too.

Netflix says ISPs could threaten Web video

Some bandwidth providers sell access to film and TV shows. Will that prompt them to relegate competitors to the Web's "slow lane?" Netflix recently outlined its concerns to the FCC.
•  Netflix has Blockbuster on the ropes

IBM boosts solar cell made of abundant materials

Researchers achieve efficiency gains with cell that uses "earth-abundant" materials. Cheaper thin-film cells rely on comparatively rare or costly metals.
•  SunPower to acquire SunRay for $277 million
•  One Block Off the Grid: Bulk solar, tell your friends

Watching the birth of Flickr co-founder's gaming start-up

Stewart Butterfield and friends are back at it with a new company. CNET's Daniel Terdiman was given exclusive, behind-the-scenes access as they built it from scratch.
•  Stewart Butterfield's Tiny Speck team
•  The tech and platforms of Tiny Speck's Glitch
•  In depth with Tiny Speck's Glitch
•  The back story on Glitch's back stories

Also of note

•  Video game sales tumble 13 percent in January
•  eBay loses another suit over Louis Vuitton brand
•  Intel taps student's robot for processor demo