Thieves Using Google to Empty ATM Machines

Is your checking account running a little low? You need not worry, simply conduct a search for the operating manual to one of 7,000 ATM machines located around the country and use the default passwords to hack into the machine.

Think I’m joking? eWeek explains that if the owners of Tranax ATM machines – found in gas stations among other places – do not change the default password to the machine, they can be compromised quite easily.

In the operator manual freely available on the Web site of a Canadian reseller, a section titled “Programming” provides the specific key sequence that will pop up a screen on the ATM that asks for the master password…the manual also contains instructions on how to enter the diagnostic mode, how to program the ATM’s number keys to spit out cash withdrawals and how to change the passwords to take future ownership of the machine.

Google Listens to Users, Adds Spreadsheets Features

Fuzzy “Wuzzy” Khosrowshahi stops by the official Google blog to let us know about some new features in Google Spreadsheets.

It appears he’s been keeping a close eye on users feedback and Google has added some new features to the tool, which include:

* support for Open Document Format (handy for those who use linux-based machines and Open Office products)
* a way to force multiple line text in a single cell (like a street address in, say, a spreadsheet for planning a wedding)
* currency symbols in addition to $
* an option to create PDF files that will print nicely
* the ability to share a spreadsheet with anyone who receives the URL (without having to specify their email address).

Channel Sponsors

Advertise on Marketing Pilgrim

Why haven’t you signed-up to sponsor Marketing Pilgrim yet? If you’re looking for some encouragement, here’s what Jarrod Hunt, CEO of TextLinkBrokers.com, has to say about his ad…

“I wanted to thank you Andy for being so considerate towards our needs, the new combination of banner and text link placements as well as the “sponsored posts” has increased the click-troughs to our site substantially!”

When you sponsor MP, you get the banner, the text ad above each post and a few “shout-outs”. So what are you waiting for? More details here.

Moviegoers Research First on Google

Google has just released a joint study with MarketCast that looks at the role of the internet in helping moviegoers decide where to spend their $10-15.

MarketCast found that 49% of moviegoers surveyed actively research a movie after first hearing about it; and of these, seven in ten go the Internet, typically using search engines like Google. MarketCast calls this influential segment “Moviegoing Infoseekers,” and found they account for about a third of respondents. “These are activist consumers, for whom the decision to see a movie is not made in a snap,” noted MarketCast’s Shapiro.

Clearly Google commissioned the study to prove to the film industry the importance of internet AdWords marketing.

Strategic Consulting with Converseon

One of the most exciting consulting partnerships I’ve forged over the last couple of months is with a company called Converseon. If you’re not familiar with Converseon, they are the leaders in what is fast becoming known as “Social Media Optimization” or what they call “Search 2.0″. They offer online reputation management solutions, which includes their proprietary SERMA platform; conversation mining; and search engine marketing.

In essence, they are the leaders in helping companies understand what is being said about their company, how to engage the conversation and then manage the results. They tying in “old-school” search engine optimization with fresh ideas and strategies.

ChaCha Starts Hiring Guides

ChaCha hopes to build a name for itself by offering human assistance with your next search query – think Yahoo Answers meets Wikipedia.

When it launched a couple of weeks ago, SEW reported that not just anyone could become a guide.

…you have to be “sponsored” (invited by an existing guide) and work your way up a hierarchy consisting of four levels.

Well, it looks like they scrapped that model already. Here’s a job listing I spotted today on Raleigh’s Craigslist…

Avoiding Google Analytics Snow Blindness

The Unofficial Google Analytics blog offers up a quick guide to getting precisely what you need out of your Google Analytics account and avoiding what can be compared to snow blindness.

The best way to prevent this is to sit down with the appropriate people in your company and figure out what you really want to get out of Google Analytics.