Young professionals online in Havana

I've come across a video and a short post that give a sense of what it is like to get Internet access in Cuba.

The short post describes a frustrating session at an Internet access centers. It reminded me immediately of a time I tried to exchange currency in Moscow during the Soviet Union days. I stood in line for about half an hour, and when I finally got to the front of the line, the woman behind the counter placed a "gone for lunch" sign in front of her window and walked away without a word.

The video,, shows three Internet users. The woman shown below is a blogger at a university and has Internet access as part of her job. The two men have a hard time getting online. In all three cases, we hear the alternating static/squeal sound of a dial-up modem handshake when they connect.

I've included screen shots of their working environments below. Note that the blogger has a laptop, which is docked to a computer display. It seems that she works from home. In another shot, we see that she also has a large, SLR camera for taking pictures.

The men are also working at home, and have large monitors. The one with the guitar on the wall is driving his with a laptop that seems to be running Excel. I suspect the monitors are TV sets with low resolution connections, since what looks like a spreadsheet with only about 6 columns fills the screen, but that is speculation. Note that it looks like there is a phone and tablet on the table behind him.

The other man repairs iPhones and it looks like his monitor may be connected to an iPhone in front of it. He also has what seems to be an Apple keyboard and a tablet. He speaks of jail-breaking and spoofing Apple -- I suspect one might find novel applications running on Cuban smart phones. Again, I am reminded of the past -- of riding in old cars, kept running by innovative part repair and fabrication. (Here is an example).

What could these people be doing if they had high speed access to the Internet?

Increasing Online Awareness of Mental Health Services

Posted by Susan Molinari, Vice President, Public Policy and Government Relations

Nearly 45 million Americans are affected by illnesses like depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Every day, thousands of nonprofit organizations across the country are providing critical life-saving assistance for people who increasingly turn to online communities for help.

On Wednesday, Google, Twitter and Facebook are joining the national conversation about mental health in the United States and will host a training session for mental health organizations - both large and small - about how to use social media platforms to raise awareness and create new avenues for public discussion. The presentations will include best practices for setting up organizational accounts, building communities of followers, conducting outreach, integrating multimedia, and measuring success.

The training session will be hosted in Google’s Washington DC office from 1:30 - 3:30 pm. Attendees can register to join the event or watch the livestream on YouTube.

Ad Networks Agree on Industry Best Practices to Combat Piracy and Counterfeiting

Posted by Susan Molinari, Vice President, Public Policy and Government Relations

With more than 30 trillion individual pages on the web, online piracy and counterfeit remains a challenge. Google takes that challenge seriously. Using cutting-edge technology like YouTube’s Content ID and innovative copyright removal tools for Web Search, we develop and deploy antipiracy solutions with the support of hundreds of Google employees.  In addition to developing legitimate, innovative, and convenient content offerings (such as Google Play and YouTube, through which our partners together generate hundreds of millions of dollars), we continue to develop solutions to help fight piracy and counterfeit online. We think one of the most effective ways to do this is to cut off the money supply to rogue sites that specialize in piracy or counterfeiting. To that end, in 2012 we disabled ad serving to 46,000 sites for violating our policies on copyright infringing content and shut down more than 82,000 accounts for attempting to advertise counterfeit goods. Nearly 99% of our account suspensions were discovered through our own detection efforts and risk models.  

There's always more that can be done by the industry to starve these infringing sites of advertising revenues. Today, working with the White House’s Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC), the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), and other leading ad networks, we are pleased to participate in a set of voluntary Best Practices and Guidelines for Ad Networks to Address Piracy and Counterfeiting.  Under these best practices, Ad Networks will maintain and post policies prohibiting websites that are principally dedicated to selling counterfeit goods or engaging in copyright piracy from participating in the Ad Network’s advertising programs. By working across the industry, these best practices should help reduce the financial incentives for pirate sites by cutting off their revenue supply while maintaining a healthy Internet and promoting innovation.  

Cuba publishes 2012 ICT indicators

The National Office of Statistics and Information has published their annual report on information and communication technology.  (We have summarized the 2010 and 2011 reports in earlier posts).

The current report presents telephone, postal, telegraph and computer data from 2008-12. Here are the computer and networking statistics:

Bear in mind that these statistics, like those of other nations, are self-reported to the International Telecommunication Union.

I assume that the numbers of networked computers and number of Internet users refer to the Cuban intranet and the Internet combined.  (While most of the other indicators are defined in the report, these are not).

The number of .cu domain registrations grew by only 2.6%, which is a bit surprising given the recent emphasis on private business.

Mobile coverage is the "star" statistic, but, as far as I know, it is all 2G at this time and the growth in infrastructure (coverage) was considerably slower than subscriber growth. The same domestic infrastructure problems that have plagued the Internet and access to the undersea cable restricts back-haul from cell towers.

A few easy tools the whole family will love

This summer we’re posting regularly with privacy and security tips. Knowing how to stay safe and secure online is important, which is why we created our Good to Know site with advice and tips for safe and savvy Internet use. -Ed.

Summer is here, and with kids out of school it is a great time for families to explore the web together—from learning what makes fireflies glow to playing online games together. But while there is a lot of entertaining, educational content online, there are also materials I’d rather not see when I’m surfing the web with my family. Google has built a number of tools that parents can use to help keep content they would rather not see from popping up on the family computer. It takes less than five minutes to turn them on, so follow the steps below to help make your search results more family-friendly this summer.

1. Turn on SafeSearch in Google Search
Turning on SafeSearch is an easy way to help you hide images, search results and videos intended just for adults. It’s especially helpful if you’re concerned about the content that might pop up on your family computer, and it’s easy to turn on. Just visit the Google Search Settings page, go to the "SafeSearch filters" section, and check the box to filter mature content from Google Search result pages. These preferences will apply for any searches done using that browser on your computer. If you have multiple browsers on your family computer, you might want to turn SafeSearch on for each one.

You can turn SafeSearch on or off from the Search Settings page

2. Save and lock your preferences
Once you’ve set your preferences, make sure to click the Save button at the bottom of the page. And if you're signed in to your Google Account, you can also lock the SafeSearch filter so others can’t change your preferences—just click “Lock SafeSearch.” Now the setting is protected with your Google Account password. While no filter is 100 percent perfect, with SafeSearch on you can feel more confident browsing the web with your family.

3. Turn on YouTube Safety Mode
YouTube Safety Mode helps you and your family avoid videos that might be OK with our Community Guidelines, but you might not want popping up on your family computer. Turning on Safety Mode in YouTube takes just one step. Scroll down to the bottom of any YouTube page and click on the button that says “Safety” at the bottom of the page—now you can choose your preferences for Safety Mode.

Click the button that says “Safety” at the bottom of any YouTube page, and then choose your preferences

4. Lock your Safety Mode preferences
Just like with Safe Search, you can also log in with your Google Account and lock YouTube Safety Mode on each one of your computer’s browsers. It will filter videos with mature content, so they won’t show up in video search results, related videos, playlists, shows or films. YouTube Safety Mode will also help hide objectionable comments.

5. Turn on SafeSearch on mobile
SafeSearch is available on your phone or other mobile device, as well as the web. You can turn on SafeSearch for Google on your mobile device by opening your phone’s browser and visiting Scroll to the SafeSearch Filters section to select what level of filtering you would like to enable. Be sure to tap “Save Preferences” after you’ve made your selection.

To enable SafeSearch on YouTube’s mobile app, first open your settings, then press “Search.” From there, select “SafeSearch Filtering” and select moderate or strict filtering.

Helping your family have a positive and safe experience with Google is important to you, and it’s important to us, too. That’s why we’ve partnered with parents and experts on free and easy to use tools and resources to help your family stay safe and secure when browsing online. If you’re interested in even more of our tools and tips, please see our Good to Know site, and stay tuned for more security tips throughout the summer.

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)

Anne Nelson's visit to Havana

Anne Nelson, who teaches New Media and Development Communication at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs has described her experience with the Internet during a trip to Havana.

The post is quite interesting. She talks with a lot of young people about the Internet, accessing the Internet from hotels, Cuban policy and more. Her post also includes pictures she took, like this one of the Youth Computer Club headquarters building.

I was struck by the contrast between her visit there and mine nearly twenty years ago, when the Internet was fresh and the networking community optimistic. She was turned away at the door -- no foreigners were allowed in and no photographs. When I visited one evening, I was welcomed. I spent a couple hours hanging out and had a long meeting with the director. I also recall watching US satellite TV on one of those old RGB TV projectors and snapped this photo of a framed note from Fidel, written when he dedicated the Youth Computer Clubs in 1991.

I came back later during the day and watched kids -- mostly playing computer games -- and computer classes in progress. I also recall a warm reception at the Youth Computer Club booth at the Informatica conference and exposition:

Times have changed :-(. Check out Anne's post -- you'll like it.