Google are shutting down Google Reader on July 1, which is causing users to flock to other services, with over 500,000 users jumping over to Feedly. I'm a big user of Feedly, and noticed it was going up and down with the Google Reader shutdown news, which now makes sense - hundreds of thousands of new users were jumping onto the service.
Feedly have noticed this growth obviously, and are said to be increasing their bandwidth by 10 times, as well as adding additional servers. The developers have also said that their main goals going into the next 30 days is to keep the service running, to take in suggestions from new users, as well as to continue adding new features on a weekly basis.
I know many of us are saddened by Google's choice to close down the Google Reader product. Many of the TweakTown staff use it daily. However, some good news has come out of the decision: new competitors are stepping up and developing new products or improving existing ones.
A petition was started on Change.org that asks Google to rethink its plans regarding shutting down Google Reader. Impressively, the petition has already surpassed 100,000 signatures. The Google Reader closure was announced just two days ago. For comparison, it took nearly 30 days for the White House petition regarding cell phone unlocking to gain a similar count.
We're not sure that this petition will have any effect on Google's stance. A Google spokesperson said in a statement, "We've given an overview of our reasoning and plans on our blog posts on the Official Google Blog and the Google Reader blog, and we'll be communicating directly with our users as we make these changes."
That doesn't mean that you shouldn't sign the petition, available here. The more signatures that are put on the list, the better the chances of Google Reader sticking around, at least for a year or two. My name's on the list. Is yours?
Google Reader will soon go out to pasture, but there are multiple replacements either ready to go, or being made right now. Digg have announced their replacement, where they're building their own rich site summary (RSS) reader.
Digg's new product will offer the best parts of Google Reader, and advance them to meet the needs of readers of today. Digg notes that networks and communities like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and more are great places to find information on the web, but they can be overwhelming, too.
Digg had reportedly been working on their new site, and were going to unveil it later in the year but with Google announcing the axing of Reader, they decided to bring their announcement date forward to now. Digg are asking readers what they want to see in their new reader, what was useful and what wasn't in Reader that you'd like to see Digg's new service include, or exclude.
Microsoft has said that the 14-hour Outlook.com and Hotmail outage was the result of overheating at one of the company's datacenters. The heat apparently resulted during a regular firmware update that ended up functioning in an "unexpected way." The outage was limited to just Hotmail and Outlook.com thanks to Microsoft's automatic safeguards that kicked in.
The outage started at 3:35p.m. PDT on March 12 and lasted until 5:43a.m. PDT on March 13. The outage was unusually long because the fix required both software updates and "human intervention." Microsoft says that the latter requirement made the outage last longer than usual.
Microsoft issued an apology for the extended outage and added that they take outages "very seriously." After all, outages are the last thing Microsoft needs as people continue to flock to competing services like Gmail.
Netflix announced today that it is starting a new contest in which $100,000 in prizes will be given away. The number one web based video rental service is calling the contest the Netflix Cloud Prize. The contest is centered around ten categories that each carry a $10k prize to those who can best "improve the features, usability, quality, reliability and security of computing resources" as part of the internet cloud.
The contest can be entered by individuals or teams. This is not Nexflix's first foray into crowd sourcing innovation. Back in 2009 Netflix paid $1 million to BellKor's Pragmatic Chaos, the winners of the Netflix Prize, who created an algorithm that was superior at guessing which movies Netflix users would enjoy.
The Netflix Cloud Prize begins March 13th 2013 and ends September 15th 2013. Winners will be announced in October and prizes paid out in November at the Amazon Web Services Invent conference.
Google are closing another service, this time its Google Reader RSS aggregator. Google will close the Reader service on July 1st, after being open for over eight years.
Reader hasn't seen many updates in the last few months, with the last update involving integration into Google+, removing Reader's own native sharing service. Google will also end support for the Google Voice app for BlackBerry smartphones, pushing users toward the HTML5-based webapp.
Last week, Facebook announced a new News Feed design that will be rolling out slowly over the coming weeks and months. A relatively unannounced change is also coming. We all know that people don't like it when Facebook changes, so we're warning you about an upcoming Timeline change that will probably have people posting.
As you can see in the picture above, the whole Timeline design has been retooled to have a cleaner look. Major changes include a new box for the About section on the left side. Facebook is looking to introduce some more customization into the profile page by allowing users to adjust the About page.
The new design will be rolling out to users over the coming weeks. After you've checked it out in-depth, feel free to leave comments here, rather than through a Facebook status.
Google doesn't like labeling sites hacked. And, as they say, "friends help friends recover their hacked sites." That's why Google has launched a series of articles and videos to help compromised websites recover from the hack, protect from future hacks, and get their website off of Google's blacklist.
The first video in the series, seen above, answers some of the more common and simple questions: Why would someone ever want to hack my site?; How was someone able to hack my site?; What's the process for fixing it and how long will it take?.
Google has also provided this website which offers more detailed information on various topics. Google offers up the following tips to keep your site safe and secure:
- Be vigilant about keeping software updated.
- Understand the security practices of all applications, plug-ins, third-party software, and so on, before you install them on your server. A security vulnerability in one software application can affect the safety of your entire site.
- Remove unnecessary or unused software.
- Enforce creation of strong passwords.
- Keep all devices used to log in to your servers secure (updated operating system and browser).
- Make regular, automated site backups.
A new infographic by FranchiseGator shows just how long it took Bing to copy a feature invented by Google. The infographic is the result of the FTC investigation into allegations that Google was a monopoly. As you can see, it took an average of 825 days for Bing to copy one of Google's new features:
Of course, some of the bigger features, such as mapping, were copied much quicker than others. However, some features, such as news searching, took over 2000 days for Bing to add after Google introduced it. This means it took Bing over five years to introduce a feature that Google debuted.
It's an interesting look into how the market leader is followed by others in the market. In order for Bing to become a big threat to Google, they will need to start innovating faster than Google can. Only time will tell if Microsoft is up to this monumental task.
This morning at the South by South West festival, Vimeo revealed a new feature that will let content creators monetize their videos by charging viewers to watch. Dubbed Vimeo On Demand, the new service is only available to Vimeo Pro members and will let them charge a fee of their choosing to view their content.
At $199 a year Vimeo Pro is far from cheap, but the new On Demand service will most certainly help offset that by letting content creators keep 90% of the revenue generated from video sales. This service is expected to boost the Independent Film rental industry, something Vimeo has been experimenting with for over a year now.
Vimeo is kicking things off with the independent film "It's a Beautiful Day", which will cost viewers $2 a day or $6 to purchase the movie. "What used to be a confusing and labor-intensive process is now open and simple with Vimeo On Demand," Blake Whitman, Vimeo's vice president of creative development said in a statement. "We always strive to provide our community and visitors with the best experience possible, and this opens up a new world of viewable content and support for creators."
Google have just announced a new deal with Netflix and Microsoft, where HTML5 video streaming is now supported by Samsung's ARM-based Chromebook. Google had previously talked about Netflix support, but never went into any detail, but here we are.
This is the first time Netflix has used HTML5 for streaming instead of Silverlight, but there's no news on whether we'll see this support jump over to other devices just yet.
Netflix has launched a new tool to show what ISPs are best for streaming. Using data collected from its global userbase, Netflix is in a unique position to show which ISPs offer the best streaming speeds...and which offer the worst. The tool shows the data in many different formats, including the chart seen below:
The default tool page shows a quick overview of numerous different countries. The fastest, slowest, and average streaming speed are displayed. Users can then dive into individual country's results and graph how they change over a period of time. The data currently only goes back to November of last year, but the data will be updated each month.
If you want to check out the index for yourself, head on over to Netflix's ISP Speed Index. Currently Google Fiber is the fastest for the United States and has only gotten faster during the time Netflix has data for. Clearwire is the slowest at just under half the average speed.
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is currently up on stage talking about how they want to turn the News Feed into the best newspaper in the world. He has pulled up a picture of what the News Feed looked like in 2007. Zuckerberg notes that the News Feed has shifted towards visual content:
Zuckerberg has just debuted the new look:
They are looking to feature the same design across the desktop and mobile environment. The new design will make use of more of the available screen real estate. The current design uses only about 40 percent of available space. The new design features larger pictures that will be the focus of the updated design.
Back in 2010, the Internet Movie Database or IMDb.com was banned from access from within China's borders because of a documentary on Tibet that was prominently displayed on its homepage. The ban was not a popular one among Chinese citizens, but remained in effect until today.
The Chinese government has unexpectedly lifted the ban on the encyclopedic movie website, making it fully available in both Chinese and English. The South China Morning Post is reporting that the removal of the ban is being met with great fanfare with many people thanking China's new leaders.
No official explanation on why the ban was lifted has been released by the Chinese government yet, but in my opinion, that does not really matter. The important story here is that China has removed one of its long standing website bans, and hopefully we will see similar action taken to other internet bans being currently enforced.
A new report by Fortune says that YouTube is working on a music streaming service that will compete directly with competitors such as Spotify. YouTube has long been a source of music, both legally and illegally, so a streaming service is not too far out of the norm for the site.
The current model relies on advertising revenue generated from showing ads during music videos. A portion of this ad revenue is shared with the label or content owner. A new service would likely continue to rely on these advertisements to offer a free service, though a premium service would likely be offered with an ad-free experience.
Fortune cites sources in both the record industry and Google. YouTube's spokesperson said:
While we don't comment on rumor or speculation, there are some content creators that think they would benefit from a subscription revenue stream in addition to ads, so we're looking at that.
It's not clear what YouTube's service will offer over competing services. It's important that they come up with a unique feature, whether that be price, availability, or something else, that will set them apart from the competition. We'll see where this goes, though you might remain a bit skeptical until more information is known.
Google is looking to push users of Picasa Web Albums over to Google+ Photos. The URL that used to take users to Picasa now redirects users to Google+ Photos. Clicking http://picasaweb.google.com will take you to Google+ Photos. However, not all hope is lost as there is a back door to get into Picasa.
Heading over to this Google page will take you to Picasa and will set a cookie that allows you to return to using the URL listed above. Eventually, Google may shut down the Picasa product for good as they continue to shuffle users over to the Google+ product, much like they did with the Google Docs product.
I'll give Picasa a year before it is completely shut down. If you still use Picasa, what are your thoughts? Is Google+ Photos a good replacement for Picasa?
North Korea has accepted The Pirate Bay onto their networks after offering the site virtual asylum. This network switch comes on the heels of the Norwegian Pirate Party being forced to stop routing traffic for The Pirate Bay. "We can reveal that we have been invited by the leader of the republic of Korea, to fight our battles from their network."
When I run a traceroute, I don't seem to be bounced through North Korea, though TorrentFreak posted an image of their traceroute being sent through North Korea, seen above. The Pirate Bay says that they will work to influence the leader of North Korea to allow citizens to access the site.
We believe that being offered our virtual asylum in Korea is a first step of this country's changing view of access to information. It's a country opening up and one thing is sure, they do not care about threats like others do. In that way, TPB and Korea might have a special bond.
We will do our best to influence the Korean leaders to also let their own population use our service, and to make sure that we can help improve the situation in any way we can. When someone is reaching out to make things better, it's also ones duty to grab their hand.
If The Pirate Bay continues to be routed through North Korea, it's likely that that node won't be shut down by media companies looking to protect their copyrights.
Google have introduced a new feature into Hangouts for the hearing impaired, where the Mountain View-based search giant have added in a Sign Language Interpreter app for Google+ Hangouts. This web component allows users to invite an interpreter in who stays in the background while they verbalize hand gestures.
Google didn't stop there, either, as they've also started helping reduce dependancies on the mouse for those who don't want to, or can't use one during chat. There are now keyboard shortcuts which can start or stop chats, disable the camera and other basic tasks that you'd otherwise need a mouse action.
Facebook has announced that they will be unveiling a News Feed redesign on March 7 at their Menlo Park, California headquarters. At 10 a.m. PST, the event will start and this time we know what they plan to unveil: "Come see a new look for News Feed," the invite reads.
The last major change to Facebook that received a press event was the slightly underwhelming Graph Search. We're not exactly sure what Facebook is planning to do to the News Feed, but we can take a stab that it might have something to do with a change in the way it displays. It will likely take a more mobile look.
Stay tuned to TweakTown next Thursday to read all about it.
Last week I wrote about a copyright activist group called The Rights Alliance who planned on suing the Swedish Pirate Party for its role in hosting the infamous torrent search site The Pirate Bay. All initial indications alluded to the Pirate Party standing its ground, but I guess the old saying "when the going gets tough, the tough get going", is true.
Rights Alliance Group is backed by all the major Hollywood studios, and therefore has virtually unlimited monetary resources and an entire army of lawyers who are just itching to rack up thousands of billable hours. The Swedish Pirate Party knows this and they did what they had to do to survive.
The Pirate Bay has been handed off to not one, but two Pirate Parties in separate countries: Norway and Catalonia, a small country within the borders of Spain. Swedish Pirate Party officials said that they knew that the resources backing Rights Alliance were simply too massive for them to go head to head with, and that they did what they deemed necessary to ensure that The Pirate Bay lives on.
The OverClocker has seen its first release of the year, with issue 23 now available to all. Issue 23 sees KINGPIN sealing a motherboard permanently for some LN2 fun, as well as a talk with veteran overclocker "Chispy" and his thoughts on the hardware industry.
There's the usual reviews, which include ASUS' Rampage IV Gene, OCZ's Vertex 4 512GB SSD, Corsair's H100i cooler, ASRock's 990FX Extreme9 motherboard, Cooler Master's Seidon 240M, Intel's 335 240GB SSD and finally, MSI's GeForce GTX 660 HAWK GPU.
You can read the latest issue right here.