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Chinese video mocking Kim Jong Un upsets North Korean officials

The North Korean government is upset about a video that shows Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un's face Photoshopped onto people acting ridiculously. Kim's face is cleverly placed on scenes from TV shows, movies and other popular viral dance videos - and garnered the type of response its video creator expected. Music used in the video originates from the Chopstick Brothers, a popular Chinese group.

 

 

Chinese citizen Zhang made the video, living in the southeastern city of Suzhou, who studied in South Korea at Kyonggi University.

 

The North Korean government has asked China to prevent the video from being shared, worried the short clip "seriously compromises Kim's dignity and authority." However, Beijing will not adhere to the request, as the video becomes even more popular.

Continue reading 'Chinese video mocking Kim Jong Un upsets North Korean officials' (full post)

Google now promotes legal links if you search for TV torrents

Users who now enter piracy related keywords into Google will see legal content promoted above anything that's against the law.

 

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If users type in keywords like torrent, Putlocker or DVDrip, they will be shown what they are looking for - but Google will prioritize results like Netflix and Hulu above the search results. And Google Play, its own content selling service, is one of these that it promotes. It's an interesting premise that operates on the good faith assumption of people looking for these terms will be interested in their legal alternatives. For some Googlers this will be the case, but we strongly suspect it won't be for all or even most of them. However, this does not seem to have reached the UK just yet, so it's possible Google is running a trial in selected markets.

 

This rollout appears to have been done on the quiet but is rather all-encompassing - high-risk pirate search terms like a TV title followed by 'watch' will lead to a similar set of results, as well as keywords like 'view' or 'download'. "These ads will appear after various searches that include specific movie, TV, and music titles," a spokesperson for Google told TorrentFreak.

Britain's BBC hit by mysterious technical glitches all weekend

In a strangely self-referential post, Britain's public broadcasting network, the BBC, has outlined the technical issues that have been plaguing, well, the BBC.

 

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Although issues continued throughout the weekend, BBC News has now published a post that speaks about the problems. Its iPlayer service - the flagship streaming website that allows Brits to watch TV live, on demand, or listen to the radio for free provided they pay a licence fee - was struggling for unspecified reasons. Some users were unable to access the service at all, while the BBC website was forced to display a basic version. It led to speculation from some online users the network was victim of a Denial of Service attack. The iPlayer is critically acclaimed for its service and pioneering of official on-demand streaming.

 

The corporation put out tweets saying it hoped the service would be back up and running soon, as well as issuing an official apology. UK internet providers also noticed something was wrong. "The final fixes for the problems were expected to be applied on 21 July when the vast majority of people should be able reach the web-based video services as normal," the BBC News website says. "The BBC said it would issue a statement when it knew more about the cause of the glitches."

Internet adoption in China declines to lowest point in 8 years

China has an economy that is booming and as more and more Chinese citizens increase their spending power, adoption of smartphones, internet access, and other items is growing significantly. Over the last several years internet adoption in China has been growing like crazy.

 

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However, a new report has found that internet adoption in China has declined to levels not seen in the last eight years. China added 14.4 million new internet users in the first half of 2014 making the slowest growth rate recorded in the last eight years.

 

China is the world's largest internet using population. It appears that usage in major cities and urban areas is becoming saturated and rollout of internet in rural areas is struggling. In those rural areas, about 450 million people never get online. Internet penetration in China is currently at 46.9% compared to the 87% penetration rate in America.

Google denies report ultra-fast Google Fiber is heading to the UK soon

It doesn't look like Google will be bringing its super-fast web service, Fiber, to the United Kingdom just yet - or have plans for anywhere outside the US.

 

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Although a report in Britain's Telegraph talked of the possibility of Fiber heading to the UK in partnership with local provider CityFibre, a spokesperson told Engadget that it's probably best not to read too much into it. "We have informal conversations with other telecom companies all the time," the spokesperson said. "But we've never had any serious planning discussions about bringing Google Fiber to Britain." It's not exactly surprising that Google was keen to quash the rumor - it is stepping on enough toes in the United States with its immensely anticipated rollout of Fiber. That said, it's also a limited rollout, available only in a handful of cities thus far.

 

Google Fiber promises as much as 1 gigabit per second download and upload speeds, which is a veritable triumph over many of even the most comprehensive and speedy packages available from other providers in the United States and further afield. So it's not something to be ruled out from happening completely, but there will likely be a lot of groundwork to do closer to home before Google gets more ambitious abroad.

The Pirate Bay's traffic doubled despite international censorship

No matter what it tries the content industry can't seem to stem the popularity of public enemy number one, The Pirate Bay, and now new figures show the torrent indexer's traffic has doubled since the first wave of blocks came into place.

 

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Despite many wings of the content industry claiming each countrywide block on The Pirate Bay a victory, actually its traffic is doing better than ever. The first really high profile blockades began in Denmark, the UK and Holland, but the website's visitor numbers have doubled since then. Actual visitor numbers were not revealed but TorrentFreak puts them in hundreds of millions per month.

 

Nearly 10 percent of all visitors to The Pirate Bay access the website through proxies or proxy services, meaning that even in countries where it's officially banned, users are finding ways to access it anyway. The most visitors were from the United States, where many of the more vocal voices from the content lobby reside.

Netflix tests incognito mode to keep your guilty pleasures secret

Want to use Netflix on social but scared your friends will see just how much you've watched those embarrassing guilty pleasures? Fear not - the TV and movie streaming service could be planning its very own incognito mode.

 

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Right now the company is in the process of testing the option in all of its market over the next few months, but it's not available to every or even most users. But if it is set to be integrated in Netflix, it'll appear as part of the multiple user profile feature. Not only would the option keep your guilty pleasures safe, but it would also scrub these from contributing towards user recommendations.

 

It's not guaranteed that the feature will become widespread - with new corporate comms and tech director Cliff Edwards saying this depends on the reactions from users. "We may not ever offer it generally," he said, according to GigaOm. "At Netflix we continuously test new things. In this case, we are testing a feature in which a user watching a movie or TV show can choose to view in "Privacy Mode." Choosing that option means the program will not appear in your viewing activity log, nor will it be used to determine recommendations about what you should watch in the future."

British content pirates to receive warnings but no further action

Next year, frequent content pirates in Britain are to be sent official warning emails reminding them that downloading copyrighted content on P2P networks is against the law. However, if they're ignored, absolutely nothing will happen.

 

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As part of a new initiative, which was agreed upon by the content industry and all major internet providers in the UK, frequent offenders will be monitored by a third party. Those found to be downloading copyrighted content will receive an educational email, reminding them that their actions are illegal, and providing options for legal alternatives - such as Netflix, Spotify, and Google Music. The process is heavily amended from the initial proposal, listed in 2010's Digital Economy Act, which demanded content pirates had their internet access stripped away. Its new iteration is called the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme and is considerably less stern.

 

The British Phonographic Industry, a lobby group which has been a key player in brokering the deal, said that this initiative is more about realigning people's habits rather than punishment alone - the latter being something the content industry is widely known for pursuing. "It's about persuading the persuadable, such as parents who do not know what is going on with their net connection," the BPI's chief exec George Taylor told the BBC. "Vcap is not about denying access to the internet, it's about changing attitudes and raising awareness so people can make the right choice."

Coffee shops, cafes struggle to provide free Wi-Fi with guidance

Coffee shops, restaurants and other locations invite customers to use Wi-Fi, but many small businesses are struggling to handle some visitors leeching free Web access without being paying customers. It's not uncommon to see visitors purchase one item and occupy a table during peak customer times for long durations without making any additional purchases.

 

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Time Warner Cable and other Internet service providers are working with businesses to create methods to ensure customers can access Wi-Fi, but don't try to abuse free Internet access. Many locations still rely on customers to use their best judgment and be courteous to their fellow visitors.

 

"For a large retailer, information is as valuable as anything else," said Thad Nation, Wired Wisconsin Executive Director, in a statement to local media. "Businesses wouldn't offer free Wi-Fi if people didn't spend money there and keep coming back. They make sure you're comfortable and have electrical outlets because a happy customer is a repeat customer."

Continue reading 'Coffee shops, cafes struggle to provide free Wi-Fi with guidance' (full post)

Economist takes a close look at impact of file sharing on Hollywood

An economist, Koleman Strumpf, has published an academic paper that thoroughly examines just what effect file sharing can have on profits for the movie industry - and it turns out the answer's not a great deal.

 

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In Using Markets to Measure the Impact of File Sharing on Movie Revenues, Strumpf tracks statistics from both the Hollywood Stock Exchange and Bittorrent, and ultimately, BoingBoing reports, file sharing is not the monster it's made out to be. In fact, sometimes it even helps at the box office, in particular when leaks help to generate pre-release hype.

 

"Using movie-level tracking stocks in conjunction with the arrival date of illicit copies," the paper reads, "I find that file sharing has only a modest impact on box office revenue." That's not exactly nothing - but it's not quite the song and dance Hollywood made it out to be either. The full paper is available here (PDF).

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