Tech Report Blog - Trending
Google to make pirates walk the plankThe “plank” in this case means search ranking on Google. The Googs announced a new policy on Friday that aims to penalize sites which continually post copyrighted material. Google isn’t actively searching for copyrights, but it is receiving over one million requests each week, mostly from recording industry folks and big media companies like NBCUniversal, asking to have sites blocked. So if a recidivist site doesn’t comply, its Google search ranking will go down, eventually pushing it into the nether-world of page three and beyond - face it, you rarely look past page one right? From the Wall Street Journal:
The move comes as Google itself is attempting to become a major seller and distributor of professional video and music content through a variety of services, from its YouTube video site to the Google Play online-media store to its pay-TV service in Kansas City, which required deals with cable-channel networks. It is pursuing such initiatives partly in a bid to compete with Apple Inc. and Amazon Inc., among other tech companies that distribute media.One big exception: YouTube, Google’s own service that sees users upload something like a half a ba-million videos that might could come into question. From Search Engine Land:
YouTube will let those who want to do a removal do so, but it also pitches a way to submit multiple notices more easily through a special Content Verification Program (a sign that YouTube gets lots of takedown requests), as well as the pretty cool Content ID system, which lets those who have infringement allegations decide to be mellow, let those videos stay up with ads and collect some income off of it.
App.net: a paid Twitter gets a lot of interestTwitter has caught on. It’s no longer the wave of the future, it’s the wave of the present. And since this is technology we’re talking about, everyone is actively looking for the next big wave so that they can surf it or something. Maybe that’s why App.net did so well in Kickstarter funding. Web developer Dalton Caldwell raised half a million dollars from 10,000 investors for a Twitter-like operation that people would pay to join. Caldwell’s pitch involves the complaint that Twitter was blocking access to its API (application programming interface) which blocked people from building on that platform. From The Guardian:
As Twitter tries to generate revenues from its fast-growing user base, it has been putting more restrictions on what developers can do - leading to restlessness among those who have built apps for it. "We believe that advertising-supported social services are so consistently and inextricably at odds with the interests of users and developers that something must be done," Caldwell wrote on the App.net signup page. Speaking to Technology Review, he said that "Twitter created as fundamental a technical innovation as e-mail and HTML itself, and they totally blew it."Yeah, but email and HTML tend to be free and a big part of the fun of Twitter is the critical mass of people using it. As annoying as ad-supported platforms are (Facebook is one), the price literally cannot be beat. Then again, I would put a dollar value on not seeing the Fail Whale again.
B&N slashes price of NooksMore rumblings on the ground in the gadget space, which means one thing: there’s an Apple storm coming. It’ll get here next month. Barnes & Noble has cut prices on the Nook Tablet and the Nook Color, the Tablet dropping to $179 and the Color going for $149. Those are both $20 drops. Meanwhile the 16gb Nook Tablet drops from $249 all the way down to $199. These prices undercut some of the prices for Amazon’s Kindle Fire mini-tablet, maxi-reader. The Nook family has done pretty well in terms of sales, better than expected really, but when prices are similar to Kindle’s. a lot of people go with Amazon’s bigger name. The real story here, however, is the guidance that this suggests for the price tag on the impending iPad Mini. Apple isn’t necessarily hung up on being the cheapest device in any market although with the volume Apple does, it can pay less from places like Foxconn for the assembled product because the components can be ordered in bulk. So this action by B&N could be seen as undercutting Apple in advance or matching what the company expects the iPad Mini to be.
Google cuts 4000 MotorolansPink slips and severance packages are going around for 20% of Motorola’s work force, says parent company Google in a new filing. Two-thirds of those layoffs will be outside the United States. While a lot of these eliminations are likely aimed at redundancies in Google and its fairly new acquisition, there is also a notion of forming a leaner Motorola that could potentially serve as the main hardware operation for Google. Google exes have already said that Motorola was making way too many different kinds of smartphones and tablets. Google has had mixed success with its own branded hardware but people probably feel better buying an Android tablet or phone from a company that has been making them for a while. That way the rest of the company could focus on driverless cars, freaky glasses, and, oh yeah, search engines. Bloomberg quotes Google:
“These changes are designed to return Motorola’s mobile devices unit to profitability,” Google said in the filing. “Investors should expect to see significant revenue variability for Motorola for several quarters. While lower expenses are likely to lag the immediate negative impact to revenue, Google sees these actions as a key step for Motorola to achieve sustainable profitability.”
An app for hailing cabs“You using an app to be talking to ME?” - Travis Bickle New York just got a little less New Yorky as people hit a Hail button on an app instead of yelling, “TAXI!” and stepping into traffic in that certain way. An app called ZabKab (why do so many app names have to be so ridiculous?) is now live and being used by passengers and cabbies alike in New York City. It’s a GPS beacon that can be used by people needing a ride to essentially broadcast their location, then cab drivers can spot passengers nearby and drive over for the pickup. Passengers can also provide additional information in advance like where they’re going and how many passengers they have. From USA Today:
Developing an application for NYC yellow taxi cabs is a little bit tricky because of Taxi & Limousine Commission regulations (TLC). The TLC requires Medallion taxi drivers to only pick up hailing passengers. The drivers cannot be a part of a dispatch system or pre-arrange taxi services. So naturally, this presents a little bit of a challenge when trying to create an app that is supposed to make it easier to find a cab. ZabKab, however, does not offer a pre-arranged service, but rather allows taxis to see where customers are. The TLC also prohibits the Medallion taxi drivers from using a mobile device while they are driving a passenger, but the new application addresses this by only allowing the driver to view the app display when the car is at a standstill. When the cab starts to move the app display fades away.
Airport security thwarted by Jet Ski guyHere’s the upshot: security at JFK airport in New York was no match for a dude who got stranded on a jet ski. Daniel Casillo, 31, swam to shore near the airport, climbed a fence, and strolled right into the terminal. Wasn’t even trying to be sneaky, just wanted to get some help and hey, there’s the airport. He was kind of drunk, you see. From the New York Post:
After a night of partying with pals, sinking his jet ski and swimming to shore, Daniel Casillo, 31, of Howard Beach strolled undetected across two runways and into a terminal. Neither motion sensors nor closed-circuit cameras of the Perimeter Intrusion Detection System, or PIDS, detected Casillo, who was only busted when he approached a startled Delta Airlines worker near Gate 10. Earlier that night, Casillo had been drinking at a Rosedale watering hole with his buds when they decided to go out racing their personal watercraft. Casillo got separated from his partners as darkness fell, and then his jet ski conked out -- so he swam 3 miles to a runway at the airport.Kennedy Airport’s $100 million security system has been criticized as overpriced and ineffective in the past. Raytheon, which built the system, says its working with the Port Authority of New York to determine what went wrong. I mean, I’m sure they know that one of the things that went wrong was a dude just walking right in, but they’re probably looking for more information. For his part, Casillo was charged with criminal trespass. Pretty impressive to swim three miles in those waters even if you are wearing a life jacket.
Birds love spider web glass!Reflections off this new, arachnid-inspired glass are pretty much invisible to humans, but our feathered friends can spot it with no problem and avoid windows coated in the stuff. The coating, a product of German company Arnold Glas, is called Mikado, the German name for Pick-Up Sticks, because it kind of looks like a bunch of breadsticks flattened and strewn over a window. The pattern is based on webs made by Orb Weaver spiders, which use a similar UV coating so that birds don’t fly into and wreck all their webs. The BBC reports that the company tested the glass in a tunnel on a U.S. nature preserve:
Birds were encouraged to fly to the end of the facility which was covered with two types of glass - one containing the Mikado coating, the other without. A net was used and the firm says no birds were injured.Birds at the nature preserve were heard chirping: “Hey, mom! Look at me - I’m flyi..... OOF!” Fun fact: when birds get a knock on the noggin’, the cartoon figures that circle their head are human babies. Ask any bird, it’s true.
The sound of Beck’s new record: crinkly paperBitTorrents be damned! Nobody is going to be leaking the new Beck record. That’s because he’s releasing the whole thing as sheet music. That’s right, you’re a loser baby, especially since you can’t read sheet music and therefore will never be able to listen to the new Beck record. The “album” is called “Beck Hansen’s Reader” and will be out in December. Beck’s site has the details:
… twenty songs existing only as individual pieces of sheet music, never before released or recorded. Complete with full-color, heyday-of- home-play-inspired art for each song and a lavishly produced hardcover carrying case (and, when necessary, ukelele notation), the Song Reader is an experiment in what an album can be at the end of 2012—an alternative that enlists the listener in the tone of every track, and that’s as visually absorbing as a dozen gatefold LPs put together.If you’re ukulele notation, and sheet music reading, skills aren’t up to snuff, a group of select artists will be working up renditions of the songs and posting them on McSweeney’s, which happens to be publishing the throwback. Of course, if you do read music, you’re invited to join the party - record and upload your own versions. Now, you too can record your own Beck album.
New virus does just about everything except steal the lint from your pocketsIf Gauss, the virus Russian security firm Kaspersky Lab has just discovered, was a person, you probably would have to guard your pockets to protect your lint. The virus follows the path of Stuxnet Flame, and Duqu, and it’s thought to be government sponsored due to its complexity. Reuters reports:
The Moscow-based firm said it found Gauss had infected more than 2,500 personal computers, the bulk of them in Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Targets included Lebanon's BlomBank, ByblosBank and Credit Libanais, as well as Citigroup Inc's Citibank and eBay's PayPal online payment system.Got that? It goes after bank accounts. But there’s more - lots more. Gauss can also snoop and steal passwords for social networks, email, and chat services. Maybe it’s time to start building that bunker in the back yard. Why banks? Why Lebanon? Again from Reuters:
Jeffrey Carr, an expert on cyber warfare who runs a small security firm known as Taia Global, said the U.S. government has long monitored Lebanese banks for clues about the activities of militant groups and drug cartels. He said Gauss was likely built by adapting technology deployed in Flame.Kaspersky researchers say the virus has traits of other complex pieces of malware in that it is capable of corrupting large, industrial infrastructure, like the Iranian nuclear facility Stuxnet took down in 2010.
Aug 10, 2012
Blizzard is latest to be hacked to bitsI’m so glad my 11-year-old son signed up for the incredibly popular online game World of Warcraft recently because now he can potentially be part of this worldwide hacking movement that all the cool kids are talking about! Hooray! (sigh). Blizzard, which runs several well known online games, says it has been breached but that no credit card information seems to have been taken. At least not as far as they know. Yet. Still, the company is telling users to change their passwords. Blizzard announced this on the Battle.net site and said the hack seems to have occurred on August 4th. Geez, great job waiting a week on telling people about it, Blizzard. From the BBC:
Battle.net is the overarching account management and login service gamers use to play Blizzard games including World of Warcraft, StarCraft 2 and Diablo 3. Also accessed was information about the security questions and account authenticators used by players on North American servers. As well as players in the US and Canada this includes people in Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia. The attackers also stole a cryptographically scrambled list of the passwords used on North American Battle.net accounts. The technique Blizzard used to conceal these passwords, said Mr Morhaime, made it hard to unscramble them.
Aug 10, 2012