Yelp’s extortionist tactics? — A restaurant owner in SF complains that Yelp pitched him an unfair way to respond to negative reviews: By paying Yelp to run an ad responding to them. See story here. More remarkable, we find, is the SF Chron story itself, which claims that mainstream restaurant critics — presumably including the SF Chron’s own — have traditionally given restaurants a 30 day-notice to iron out any wrinkles before reviewing them. That’s an unfortunate practice of whitewashing, and another reason why a no-holds-barred Yelp style is needed in the first place.

NASA’s venture operation already killed? — NASA announced a $55 million venture capital fund in October, but the Bush Admin is already chopping it. Here is a column we ran several months ago.

Google offers simpler mobile search results — Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Yahoo offered this a few months ago. But now Google is cleaning up, by signing deals with everyone from LG Electronics (just announced) to Motorola., Samsung, and Sony/Ericsson. Will the smaller players focused on mobile search for more than a year — Jumptap, Media and 4Info — become the latest road-kill?

Another Stanford start-up snapped up by Google? — Sebastian Thrun, director of the Stanford AI Lab, apparently led a team of Stanford students to travel around the U.S. taking pictures of cities at ground level, with six degrees of rotation, possibly making for a nice street-level addition to Google Earth. His company was called Vutool (no link). Now the rumor is that Google has bought it. Amazon and Microsoft have done similar things, by the way, though Amazon’s have since come down. Microsoft’s is less ambitious).

Smartsheet buzz — The Kirland, Wash. company is getting raves and awards for its simple application to manage things like events, new hires and tasks. It has angel backing, and is raising around of venture capital.

Timesearch — See what was happening in a given year, with the new “time” search engine. Here’s a search of “technology” for the year 1402, showing glass windows hadn’t yet arrived. (Review here).

Panama really to boost Yahoo search results by 20 percent? — That would, if true, remarkable, and shows how sensible, seemingly minor tweaks can make major differences. Panama is a technology Yahoo introduced recently to make the bidding for, and placing of search ads more efficient. It is like Google’s method.

Yahoo provides unlimited email storage — Email is now completely free. Microsoft has a 2-gigabyte free storage limit for email, while Google’s limit is 2.8 gigabytes.

Germany video site gets biggest Web 2.0 investment — German site Sevenload has received an undisclosed amount of funding from large German publisher, Burda. The release claims this is the country’s largest Web 2.0 investment.

sheep.bmpWhat will they do next? — Scientists have made sheep that are 15 percent human. See image. Aunt Wooly, is that you?

BusinessWeek’s best young entrepreneurs — You can scroll through the list using the arrows on the top right hand corner.

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