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The new Google Maps has been in beta form for quite some time now, and today the company made the move to take the refreshed maps public. The new Google Maps is now live for everyone, and the service is better than ever. As with all Google products, search functionality is better than ever, as well as being more intuitive. Lets say you needed a computer repair shop, all you need to do now is type Computer Repair in the search box, and Maps will find the best options for you.
The new maps also allows users to easily flip from 2D maps to 3D Google Earth maps as well as displaying handy information such as bike routes, traffic information, and even terrain maps. Street view has also been updated, and there are even overlays similar to how Google Glass projects augmented reality onto maps. Overall the new Google Maps feels like a fresh look at an old friend, and the changes definitely make it much easier to use from the browser.
Crowdsourcing website Kickstarter was recently hacked and members are urged to change their passwords as soon as possible. Cyber criminals were unable to access credit card data, and there have been no reports of fraudulent activity following the data breach.
Last Wednesday, Kickstarter officials were alerted to a the data breach by law enforcement officials - and some customer data was accessed by unauthorized sources. Usernames, e-mail addresses, physical mailing addresses, encrypted passwords and user phone numbers were taken, however, which prompted Kickstarter officials to recommend changing account passwords.
"We're incredibly sorry that this happened," Kickstarter wrote in a blog post. "We set a very high bar for how we serve our community, and this incident is frustrating and upsetting. We have since improved our security procedures and systems in numerous ways, and we will continue to do so in the weeks and months to come. We are working closely with law enforcement, and we are doing everything in our power to prevent this from happening again."
Around 70 percent of European citizens stream or download movies online, though some of them are legal, according to a recent European Commission study. Filmmakers need to appreciate the intricacies of filming and distributing content in Europe, with most films staying in their host nation.
Sixty-eight percent of survey respondents say they pirate films for free, with more than half watching on a smartphone or PC.
"The study confirms that the European film industry is not making the most of its potential to reach new audiences or capitalizing on cross-border partnerships," the European Commission press release states. "We encourage filmmakers to make the most of the funding provided through Creative Europe, the EU's new program for the cultural and creative sectors, and its media subprogram in particular."
There is a global fight against Internet piracy, with copyright groups on the offensive to shut down piracy websites - and sometimes target users directly.
The underground Silk Road 2.0 website was reportedly hacked and those responsible ran off with an estimated $2.6 million for their efforts.
"I am sweating as I write this... I must utter words all too familiar to this scared community: We have been hacked," Silk Road 2.0 administrators posted on a forum. "Our initial investigations indicate that a vendor exploited a recently discovered vulnerability in the bitcoin protocol known as 'transaction malleability' to repeatedly withdraw coins from our system until it was completely empty."
Although Defcon, the admin who posted a message on the Silk Road 2.0 forums didn't post an exact figure taken, security experts believe 4,400 coins - the equivalent of close to $2.6 million - was taken.
The original Silk Road successfully operated in the shadows before drawing federal attention, though Silk Road 2.0 never had the same luxury. However, the bitcoin exploit also recently ravaged several bitcoin exchanges, showing the digital currency has significant security issues.
Facebook is being applauded for its decision to expand gender identification from male or female to include bi-gender, androgynous and other identifiers, much to the delight of the LGBTQ community. Early reports indicate there are at least 56 different options, which users can customize so only select friends can see.
"When you come to Facebook to connect with the people, causes, and organizations you care about, we want you to feel comfortable being your true, authentic self," the company said on the Facebook Diversity page. "An important part of this is the expression of gender, especially when it extends beyond the definitions of just 'male or female.'"
The new Facebook custom gender option is currently available to U.S. Facebook users only, but is expected to roll out internationally in the future.
This makes sense for Facebook, a San Francisco Bay Area-based company, as the No. 1 social networking site aims to appeal to everyone as individuals.
Humans are no longer the dominant source of internet traffic if a new report from Incapsula is correct. According to the report, humans only account for about 38.5-percent of all internet traffic while search engines, and robots of a good nature accounts for about 31-percent. The other 30.5-percent are made up of malicious, nefarious, and unsavory robots. Incapsula generated the chart below based on a survey of more than 1.45 billion visits on 20,000 websites from 249 countries around the world.
Content scrapers account for about 5-percent of internet traffic, while hacking tools make up 4.5-percent. Spam bots and other bad robot-originated traffic combine to make up about 21-percent of global internet traffic. That means that in total Robots make up about 61.5-percent of all the internet traffic in the world. This number seems staggering when you consider that good bot-based traffic is almost eclipsed by the so-called bad-bot traffic, a trend that is expected to increase over the next decade.
Microsoft is censoring its Bing search engine results for Chinese-language searches, with politically sensitive topics registering different results than if searched in English, according to the cyber monitoring group Greatfire.org.
FreeWeibo found that uncensored Chinese blog searchers were drastically different in English for U.S. residents searching for controversial Chinese topics. For example, results for the Dalai Lama, Tiananmen Square, and other political incidents were changed for Bing visitors, even if residing outside the "Great Firewall of China."
"We are 100% sure our findings indicate that Microsoft is cleansing search results in the United States to remove negative news and information about China," the group noted. "And they are doing this in every market in which they operate in the world."
Of course, Microsoft denied the accusations, though if this is true, expect a government investigation - and severe penalties levied against the search company. As Microsoft begins working under just its third CEO in company history, accusations of censorship and NSA-related spying habits along with Bing censorship will give Satya Nadella fits.
The No. 1 MMA promotion in the world, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), recently shut down Cagewatcher.eu, which illegally streamed two UFC pay-per-view events. The site has been shut down and the UFC now has possession of the site's users, including their IP addresses, user names and e-mail addresses - which will be handed over to the law office tasked with targeting users.
Attempting to go after individual users of streaming piracy sites tends to be unsuccessful, and earn the copyright holders negative backlash. Similar to other attempts by the RIAA, MPAA and other copyright groups, the UFC will likely look to quickly - and quietly - punish viewers by offering them out-of-court settlements.
The UFC's rather Draconian efforts against Internet piracy lead to a number of YouTube videos pulled - and the No. 1 MMA promotion also has its Fight Pass to show live events, event replays, television shows, original content, and videos from the fight library.
Ice hockey, maple syrup, Bieber and... Internet piracy? The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) recently recommended Canada's addition to the Special 301 "watch list." There is special interest in the number of torrent sites and online piracy groups that are based in Canada, including a wide collection of smaller torrent sites.
"Even after the shuttering of Isohunt, Canada is still the home to some of the world's most popular Internet sites dedicated to piracy, including Torrentz.eu and Kickass.to, which garnered rankings of third and second place, respectively, on one of the most widely accessed listings on the world's most popular illicit BitTorrent sites," the IIPA claims.
The IIPA is made up of the RIAA, MPAA, ESA, BSA, and other copyright groups that share information, effective anti-piracy measures, and current legal efforts. IIPA officials would like to see U.S. lawmakers influence Canadian peers to crack down more harshly on piracy.
The casino industry in the United States understands the great potential for online gambling, though underage gambling, money laundering, and increasingly difficult national legislation makes it a rather confusing battle.
The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling recently launched an ad effort to warn against Internet gambling, with an emphasis on criminals and terrorists potentially using the online service to commit money laundering. Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson, who supports the coalition's effort, said he's ready to spend "whatever it takes" to keep online gambling out of the limelight in the United States.
"The coalition will operate exclusively at the federal level - encouraging Congress to embrace regulation as the best means to protect minors, detect money launders and eliminate a dangerous black market," Geoff Freeman, American Gaming Association President, recently noted.
Casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City aren't as keen on Internet gambling, as they are concerned that online sites will keep people from visiting casinos. However, the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection, with support from Caesar's and MGM, for example, want to throw their weight into the potential market.