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Anyone who knows me knows that I am a major fan of all things outdoors. From kayaking to camping, I stay pretty active in nature, and this week's Google doodle really makes me smile. Google decided to commemorate Yosemite National Park, one of our nation's national treasures, on its 123rd anniversary.
Unfortunately, if you are planning a visit to the park, you will find it closed upon arrival because as of last night the park was shut down along with a fair portion of the US Government. While I would imagine that the park rangers are sticking around to prevent looting and damage, all of the national parks ran by the federal government have been closed until Congress sorts a budget out.
Up until just recently, Netflix required ISPs to join its Open Connect Content Delivery Network if they wanted to offer their customers "Super HD" and 3D video streams, but not anymore!
Netflix has announced back in January that it would begin offering Super HD and 3D streams, but if customers wanted to access it, it would only be if their ISP used Netflix's CDN. The content streaming giant is now untethering the Super HD option from its CDN, opening it up to all ISPs. Netflix's Joris Evers says: "Based on the performance data we've seen, and in response to member requests, we are now expanding availability to give all our members the ability to enjoy Netflix in the best possible quality."
Google's deprecated messaging service, Talk, appears to be experiencing some major issues as of late. The service has been erroneously sending messages to the wrong recipient, and many times to Talk users who are not on your contact list. The cause of the issue is not very clear at the moment, but thankfully there is a fix that is easily deployable.
Anyone using Google Talk can bypass these errors by simply downloading and installing Google Hangouts, the messaging service that has replaced Google Talk for several months now. When Google first began receiving reports about the error, it said that it immediately dispatched a team to investigate and as of this writing, things appear to be back to normal. I suggest installing Hangouts anyway. I have used the service for months and like it much better than the antiquated feeling Talk messenger.
YouTube has just announced the launch of a new audio library that will allow content creators to use more than 150 royalty-free instrumental tracks as the background music to their videos. This new library is available in the video manager and allows users to select background music based on mood, genre, instrument, and duration.
The tracks are downloadable at a quality of 320kbps in MP3 format so that they can then be added to your video in post processing. Additionally, the tracks can be used for any creative purpose you desire as they are 100 percent royalty-free and not limited to use on YouTube.
"We searched far and wide for musicians to create tracks for us and ended up finding co-conspirators in multiple places: an acquaintance down in L.A., music houses across the country and a well-known music producer in Brooklyn," YouTube wrote on its official blog. "And it turns out the latter produced albums for Phish and Sean Lennon."
Over the past few years, comments on YouTube have degraded into something akin to a cesspool. Derogatory statements, racism, and trolls have grown to dominate the comments of even the best quality videos. YouTube has teamed up with parent company Google to rollout a completely new commenting system that is said to take care of these issues.
The new system is deeply integrated with Google+ and will allow comments to be sorted based on relevance instead of the order in which they were posted. Positively rated comments will quickly move to the top of the comment list, and individual comments can be threaded themselves. Additionally, if you share your video on Google+, comments from the YouTube page will appear in the Google+ comments.
For even more commenting control, content creators can choose to share their comments with the public or specific circles from their Google+ account. This allows for private conversations within video comments as well. The new system will also allow content creators to build user whitelists while at the same blacklisting words and phrases they do not wish to appear in the comments. For the full rundown of features, check out the source below.
Yesterday was not a good day for Google's usually reliable Gmail service. Google says that due to a dual network failure, some users experienced partial service interruptions, slow performance, or total outages for up to 11 hours.
The company says that almost one-third of all emails routed through it servers were affected and that about 1.5 percent of all emails sent or received through the service were delayed by as much as two hours. Google has apologized via an official statement, and says that it will be implementing steps over the next few weeks to make sure these issues do not happen again.
Google plans to beef up its network and its backup capacity for Gmail, and says that it will make email delivery more resilient even in the event of a dual network failure. For many of us who use Gmail as our exclusive email provider, yesterday's issues were a little more serious. However, I am sure that the service will not see a loss of users over the recent issues. Google's complete statement can be found after the jump.
Google has just announced the launch of a new project it calls Constitute, a website that organizes all of the world's constitutions in one easily searchable and user-friendly interface. The website allows users to filter charters by the date that they were created and indexes both basic details and policies.
This new service offered by Google is a very important service just for the fact that it makes every constitution in the world easily readable, something that many countries make very hard to find. I am sure that there are more than a few political science majors out there who are viewing this new website as a true godsend and thanking Google for making their research much easier.
Throughout the day, Gmail users have been experiencing spotty performance issues as well as downtime when trying to access their email. Sluggish load times and delayed receipt of emails are the major nuisances, while some users, including myself, were unable to access the service altogether several times throughout the day.
Google has confirmed that as many as 50 percent of users may have been affected by the performance issues and service disruptions, which appeared to start around 2:05PM Eastern Time. Google says that they are working diligently to return things to normal and as of this posting, all of my issues seem to have been resolved.
Netflix's Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos has some harsh words about Canada's big ISPs, where he said that: "it's almost a human rights violation what they're charging for internet access in Canada."
Sarandos' harsh words were said during the Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment conference in Los Angeles Wednesday. Sarandos was referring to the low broadband caps in Canadian ISPs like Bell and Shaw, which force their customers to pay more if they exceed their 15GB monthly cap. Netflix's CEO, Reed Hastings, has called caps and overage feeds like the aforementioned ones above are "grossly overpriced."
Sarandos was asked if business for Netflix would grow in Canada if consumers' Internet caps were increased, where he said: "The problem in Canada is... they have almost third-world access to the internet."
Today, Google unveiled a new logo and a completely redesigned navigation bar that effectively removes the black bar that resides at the top of the screen when visiting any of Google's online services. The new logo is much flatter and removes the glossy embossing that it featured for so long. Additionally, the font is a little bit different and the colors are a little more subdued.
The other major change is the removal of the black navigation bar we first hated but quickly grew to love. It has been replaced by an icon that opens up to reveal a Chrome Launcher-style window that lets you choose which service you would like to navigate to. I don't know how I feel about this yet as it seems to add an additional click into my workflow. I'm sure that as time progresses I will learn to love it just like I did the black bar.
The new logo and navigation bar will roll out to all users in the coming weeks and will be featured on mobile devices as well. Google says that these changes have been made to help streamline user workflow and to bring the company's UI up to date with current trends.