Ebay has issued its category changes and updates for fall and if you like buying hexes on other people from the auction giant, you're going to have to head somewhere else. On the chopping block are Tarot readings, potions, and spells. Not only are the categories going away, but they will join hexing, curses, conjuring, blessings, psychic readings, and "magic services" on the prohibited list.
Ebay claims that these changes are due to the fact that "transactions in these categories often result in issues between the buyer and seller that are difficult to resolve." It's pretty hard to decide whether or not a magic spell or hex has worked and it's unlikely that a seller is offering any sort of guarantee.
So, if you have magic spells, potions, hexes, curses, readings, or other magic services to sell, you best get on it before Ebay institutes these changes.
This time last month, gaming webcomic Penny Arcade launched an interesting experiment on Kickstarter. The experiment involves raising funds to replace the sites advertising income with funding from you, and I, the fans.
Well, they succeeded. Kickstarter's crowdfunding campaign ended today and Penny Arcade didn't just manage to meet their initial goal of $250,000, they surpassed it and met their bigger goal of $525,000. This means that Penny Arcade will not be featuring ads on their homepage for twelve months. This goal was achieved with just six minutes left on the clock, so it was touch and go there for a while!
The campaign did have some cool donations and gifts, with one high-end donation of $9,999 which granted the donor the chance to have lunch with creators Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik. Another two donors spent $7,500 so that they could become Penny Arcade interns for one day. I think we're going to see much more of this type of crowdfunding for sites in the future. Awesome work, Penny Arcade!
Google's Android team have updated the Android Developers site, which keeps everyone updated with what's going on about the company's latest mobile OS, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The team have talked about it, too, where they said:
A new revision of the Android Design site has been launched!
It contains lots of new in-depth content, including exciting new features from Android 4.1, Jelly Bean.
New patterns cover widgets, confirming and acknowledging, help, andaccessibility. You'll find links to design sessions presented at Google I/O 2012, plus updated information on notifications and progress and activity. Our downloadable stencils and sources have been expanded to include Nexus 7 frames, and we now offer Adobe® Illustrator® Vector files for your mocks.
Retina MacBook Pro owners might not be enjoying that high-res display as much as they could. This is because if apps don't support the native 2880x1800 resolution, the apps are displayed as a blurry, pixel-doubled app. But, there are plenty of Retina-made apps right now, but they're not easy to find.
Even with Apple's Mac App Store, the apps aren't easy to find, which is why RetinaMacApps.com has stepped in, bringing a list of Retina-compatible apps. The website looks quite simple, lacking any form of search function, as it just sports a drop-down menu on the left that lets you look through the most recent submissions, category or name.
If you don't want to check through the whole site, you can just hook yourself up to a weekly e-mail that will be sent out to you with a list of submitted apps from the week just gone. Retina-powered apps won't automatically appear in this listing, though, as developers will need to submit their apps manually, which means there'll only be a few apps out there that meet these requirements, but won't jump up onto the listing.
Microsoft's new Outlook.com looks to be a success. In the first 24 hours of it being live, Outlook.com saw 1 million users sign up for the newest webmail service on the block. Now, Microsoft is reporting that the service has seen 10 million users sign up and starting using Outlook.com since its launch just two weeks ago.
This stat was released alongside an announcement about the updated SkyDrive updates. The number could be slightly inflated by users grabbing vanity e-mails, but even still it is an impressive feat. In other news, SkyDrive has been revamped by Microsoft to feature a new, modern design and will soon be getting an Android app:
Since we launched the Outlook.com preview two weeks ago, we have been truly humbled by the reception. We've received hundreds of great comments, participated in thousands of threads on @reddit, @gizmodo, @neowin and are excited to share that, as of today, more than 10 million people have signed up and started using Outlook.com.
Today, we're updating SkyDrive with a new, more modern web design, refined SkyDrive apps for PCs and Macs, a new SkyDrive app for Android devices, and improved developer offerings. While there's always more to do to improve our products, these updates bring SkyDrive out of preview and ready for a billion users - in time for the upcoming releases of Windows 8, the new Outlook.com, and the new Office.
Google introduces new text input tool for Google Docs, allows you to type Russian, Chinese and Hindi
Multi-lingual users will like this news, with Google announcing that they've introduced a new text input tool that lets you type in Russian, Chinese and Hindi within their Google Docs product.
Normally other languages require special characters which aren't available on US keyboard configurations, but here is what the Google Drive team had to say about it:
Depending on the language you're typing in, the tool will allow you to input text using the phonetic spelling of a word or using a virtual keyboard that mirrors your physical keyboard.
Learn more about the new text input tool here: http://support.google.com/docs/bin/answer.py?answer=2720937
Try it now: To get started, change your document's language setting to the language you'd like to type in by going to File > Language...Then click the text input tool icon in your document toolbar or use a keyboard shortcut (Cmd + Shift + K on a Mac or Ctrl + Shift + K on a PC)
Google has been extremely active over the past few weeks launching update after update. Today, the latest update is for Google+, more specifically Google+ Hangouts On Air. Since its inception, bands have used Google+ Hangouts On Air to "perform live for global audiences, and jam with fans face-to-face."
Right now, Hangouts On Air has pretty bad sound quality that is optimized for speed and voice, not high-quality live music. However, Studio Mode aims to turn the sound feed into a seemingly CD-quality stream that has full stereo and a higher bit-rate. As of right now, the update has only been pushed out to 25% of users.
Google has produced a YouTube video demonstrating the difference between the audio. Take a listen for yourself, using a pair of high quality headphones for the best effect. With the new audio quality, it's hard to go back to the original. But don't take my word for it--watch the video below:
Google's search results now take into account the number of valid copyright removal notices received
It would appear that Google has partially caved to the music and movie industry. An update to the way search results are ranked will see pirate sites and other illegitimate content sources showing up lower in the results. As you may or may not know, Google looks at around 200 different signals to rank pages and the newest one is directly tied to piracy.
The latest signal to be used in ranking pages will be directly related to "the number of valid copyright removal notices" received for a given site. This means that sites which receive a large number of valid removal notices may appear lower in Google's search results. Google explains why this is a good thing:
This ranking change should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily-whether it's a song previewed on NPR's music website, a TV show on Hulu or new music streamed from Spotify.
As Google points out, only copyright holders know whether or not something is authorized and only the courts are capable of deciding whether it infringes a copyright. This means that they will not be removing links unless a valid removal notice is received; instead, they will just appear lower in the results.
Google has promised to continue to be transparent about removal requests and to provide "counter-notice" tools that will aid people to reinstate their content if it has been wrongly removed.
Facebook is trying out a new feature that allows users to send a postcard with one of your pictures on it to a friend. The new feature is powered by Sincerely and allows you to mail a physical postcard to a friend. You can even add a message that will be sent to the friend with the card or send prints of their pictures.
Of course, Facebook isn't doing this for free. The sender is charged a fee, right now at varying price points for the people who have access to the trial, and the card goes out in the mail through Sincerely's service. Sincerely is the company behind Postagram, the service that does basically the same thing for Instagram pictures.
This feature came about from a Hackathon project. If successful, and instituted, the new service could garner Facebook some more earnings through increased interaction with pictures (higher advertising value) and through a possible small profit from the selling of the postcards and prints.
If you're in the limited group trial, under the photo you are viewing you will see a "Mail Postcard" button. Clicking this opens a screen, seen above, that you can enter your message and the recipient's address on. Click send and off the order goes to production and mailing. Simple, and likely effective.
Google needs your help so that they can better help you. Earlier this year, Google launched a stock image library as part of its Google Drive product. Thanks to lots of positive feedback, they are now planning on expanding that library with images that are selected by the people who use the product. That's why they've enlisted your help.
Want to help decide what goes in? It's a simple task, really. Just head over to ThinkStock.com, select up to 10 images to nominate, and fill out Google's nomination form with the information they require. Easy, and you have helped make Google, and the Internet, a better place. Not to mention you should then be able to use these photos in your Google Drive docs.
Google explains the process in a bit more detail:
Go to http://www.thinkstock.com and search for images, or browse through them by category. Using the form below, submit the item numbers (linked underneath each image) for up to 10 images you'd like to nominate for use in your documents, presentations, spreadsheets. We'll use your ideas to create and curate the next generation of our stock image library.
Head on over to Google's nomination site to fill out the form.
Today, Google has been doing a lot of talking. They debuted their exclusive field trial of integrating Gmail emails with searches and they've been talking about the future of search. But, how can you look towards the future without knowing the present? You can't and that's why Google has provided us with some incredible numbers about the current state of search.
To make an average day, Google crawls an incredible 20 billion pages. However, to put that number in perspective, there are about 30 trillion URLs on the Internet. An average month is made up of serving 100 billion searches. Google's current Knowledge Graph is composed of 500 million items and that is just a baby step towards the future of search.
Google's vision of the future of search:
Everyone who asks that question, knows the answer deep inside their heart. They've actually dreamt the search engine of the future already.
Or, in other words, search will be an "assistant", somewhat similar to Siri. There are many large hurdles, none insurmountable, that stand in the way of this vision. "If we are going to build the search of the future, we will have to solve difficult technology issues like speech recognition and natural language."
The future of search will be context based rather than query based and this is where the natural language processing comes in, along with the Knowledge Graph product.
Google is continuing to push the search engine forward and, as a result, the unification of its products. The latest mating sees Google searches including results from a user's Gmail e-mail. However, not everyone will get these results right now as it is only being offered as an exclusive "field trial."
Users can request to be in the field trial on Google's website, although participation is not guaranteed. This change is almost a natural extension for Google. "Gmail is almost larger than our web corpus and it continues to grow." says Kamdar. The change is part of Google's on-going mission to build the search engine of the future.
The Gmail results won't be listed like the rest of the results. Instead, they will appear on the right-hand side like the new knowledge graph results do. Google will be able to parse out what an e-mail is, be it a shipping order, flight confirmation, or something else altogether, and this will help it provide better results.
Google is incredible in the wide array of services that it offers for free. Google has just increased the number of cities where real-time traffic data is provided by adding Bogotá, Panama City and San Jose (Costa Rica) to the list. They have also included 130 new United States cities in this increased offering.
The cool part about how all this works is that it relies on people using Google Maps. Google Maps then reports back anonymous speed and location data to Google where it is combined into traffic data and sent back for free. The issue is that this crowdsourcing needs lots of users to provide reliable data. Thanks to the widespread adoption of Android, this has become easier and Google can provide information for more locations.
Google Maps will now be able to show data for side roads and arterial roads that don't get as much traffic as the main highways. In addition to the 130 new US cities that Google has added, they have also added support around the world in countries including "Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom."
Microsoft have announced their proposal to bring realtime communication in browsers, all without plug-ins. The W3C WebRTC working group received "Customizable, Ubiquitous Real Time Communications over the Web" (CU-RTC-Web) proposal from Microsoft, which is the first step toward creating a standard that would be key in creating a browser-based version of Microsoft's expensive acquisition, Skype.
Other companies have already laid out their plans for HTML5-based communications, with Google and Mozilla already doing so. Microsoft, on the other hand, are waiting to make it publicly available until it's a fully formalized standard. Stopping the software giant right now is the choice of codecs being used, with Google and Mozilla wanting to use the open sources VP8 as default, with Microsoft wanting to be more flexible.
Outlook.com is getting eyed at by Microsoft to get some Skype integration, which is something the company has been planning for quite a while now. This would require a plug-in and would not use WebRTC, but it could change somewhere down the line when the standard is complete. The WebRTC standard would allow cross-platform audio- and video-based communications, potentially allowing services such as Google Talk and Skype to work together.
The outage you may have seen on Wikipedia earlier this morning was not another SOPA-style blackout, nor was it any sort of foul play by upset teachers. The cause was a simple networking glitch with servers in Tampa. As of now, the site should be back up to its fully functioning and fully informative state.
The outage started around 6:30 a.m. PT with a simple error message that the "servers are currently experiencing a technical problem." The site was somewhat navigable, with pages only partly loading and much of the content style and layout being stripped out. Just about an hour later, the site was back to normal.
The Wikipedia status page was aglow with orange and red which notated warnings and service disruptions. As of now, almost every single one is back to green or orange, showing that the site has recovered. The outage is said to be "due to networking issues with servers in Tampa, Florida," but no further information is available.
"We certainly haven't been hit by a denial of service attack." Further contributing to the story of networking issues rather than a bunch of angry teachers teaming up.
Google launched their PageSpeed Service last year with the aim of improving the experience of web surfing, without making them a dime. The idea sounded great, as it worked like similar services such as Akamai, where it would boost web browsing speeds by caching pages in the same way, but as always, there's always improvements that can be made.
Also, for pages that include HTML that isn't cacheable, such as personalized info, is returned, standard portions of the side and cache are displayed immediately, whilst other content loads in its normal fashion. This new tool isn't the best for every website on the web, but it's great to see these changes, all for free.
Issue 20 of The OverClocker is now out, for your viewing pleasure. This month's issue has a great 8-page feature covering Computex 2012, and much, much more. Another stand-out feature of the issue is Kingpin's Z77 LN2 guide.
There's also a one-on-one with overclocker Hondacity. There's also a bunch of reviews, with Issue 20 of The OverClocker covering ASUS' Maximus V Extreme, Plextor M3 Pro 256GB SSD, GIGABYTE's Z77X-UD3H, and MSI's R7970 Lightning card.
There's plenty more, as well as a review of slow-mo third-person shooter Max Payne 3, Corsair's Vengeance 2000 and more. Be sure to check it out right here.
Start cleaning your Facebook profile in preparation for this fall. Facebook has said that they will be moving everyone to a Timeline this "fall" much to the dismay of almost the entire user base. For those of you who have managed not to get a Timeline for this long, you won't have much of a choice after this move.
Timeline, originally introduced at Facebook's f8 developer conference last September, breaks away from the traditional and instead puts all content branching off a single trunk, which happens to be a timeline. This has the unfortunate consequence of allowing easier access to your virtual past, allowing content you previously thought deleted to be easily viewed.
Once the time has come for Timeline, Facebook will give you a mere 7 days to review it, and clean it in many cases, before it goes live to all of your friends. Facebook has refused to give a specific time frame for the transition other than "fall." A recent survey shows a large amount of users don't like Timeline with as many as 17% of users actively deleting previous posts.
Google have updated the developer program policy page, which has now made the platform more secure and easier to navigate for users. Google had sent out an e-mail to its developer community with the news that Google Play would be undergoing some changes to clamp down on suspect behavior in the Android market.
Google outlined the types of apps that aren't allowed on the platform, with apps that disclose personal information like credit card and social security numbers without authorization are now, not allowed. Google are also restricting developers from using names, or icons that are similar to existing apps, which should cut down on piracy and dodgy apps that look the same as real apps, but aren't.
Google have said on their policy page:
Don't pretend to be someone else, and don't represent that your app is authorized by or produced by another company or organization if that is not the case. Products or the ads they contain also must not mimic functionality or warnings from the operating system or other applications.
Google have finally opened up an official Android blog, as up until now, all of the Android-based news had to find its home in the Google Mobile blog. Now, it has its own home, its own man cave, dungeon and experimental lab. Call it what you will, but Android has its own home within a blog.
The Google Mobile team had some words to express for the new home for Android:
A few months ago, we asked what content you wanted to see more of on the Google Mobile Blog, and the answer was quite clear: more Android! We launched +Android on Google+ and now we've launched the Official Android Blog, a new place for you to find all the latest news from the Android team.
Going forward, the new Android Blog will be a must-read for anyone interested in the latest news like today's Google Wallet announcement. Thanks for being such a great audience over the years.
Microsoft must have done something right with the launch of Outlook.com, their new e-mail service designed to replace Hotmail and lure users away from Gmail. In a mere six hours, Microsoft has said that Outlook.com saw 1 million users sign up. These sign-up numbers were Tweeted by @Outlook six hours after the service was first announced.
Users of the new service will receive a new domain for their e-mail address--"@outlook.com"--which replaces the older "@hotmail.com." Users can, however, upgrade now and keep their current e-mail address. Eventually, the service will feature Skype integration, something designed to rival Google's Gmail and Talk integration.
All that remains to be seen is how many users will change from Hotmail over to the new service. Microsoft needs to create enough buzz around the new service in order to keep users from jumping over to Gmail. Google has the lead with 425 million users, while Microsoft has just 350 million at last count.