Earlier today, we brought you the story about how Twitter is experiencing an outage. At that time, some of the details were unknown, such as the cause. Twitter has updated us with a little more information that we can now share. The outage is an ongoing outage, but engineers are working on fixing it.
They do not have a set time for when it will be fixed or how long it is going to take. All they are saying is that they are working on it and that it is on going. It's likely they will have it resolved by tomorrow, if not sooner, but there is no guarantee of that. We will keep you up-to-date with the latest in the Twitter outage.
"Today's outage is due to a cascaded bug in one of our infrastructure components," the company's communications folks tweeted at 12:17 p.m. "We'll provide updated information soon."
Twitter's service has been down since about 9am PT for all users. As of about 10am PT, some users, including myself, have been able to access the site, although inconsistently. Twitter has not said when the service will be back or what the cause of the outage is.
"Users may be experiencing issues accessing Twitter. Our engineers are currently working to resolve the issue," the Twitter's status blog said. As of about 10:15am PT, Twitter is still experiencing a service outage for at least some users. Looking at Pingdom, this appears to be Twitter's worst crash in months.
Facebook is adding subscription billing which should allow app developers to make even more money from their most loyal users. Starting next month, app developers will be able to create special plans or content that is available with a monthly fee. The lowest monthly fee that can be offered by a developer is a mere $1.
Kixeye is a perfect example of how developers can take advantage of the new system. Kixeye is planning on having a $9.95 per month subscription plan that will give subscribers access to exclusive in-game items. They are focusing on a smaller subset of players that are more inclined to pay which should yield an interesting revenue stream.
In other news, Facebook is backing away from Facebook Credits as the main currency. Just a few years ago, Facebook was pushing Credits so that Facebook and online shopping would become linked in people's minds. This, unfortunately, prevented developers from using their in-game currency for purchases.
"Most games on Facebook have implemented their own virtual currencies, reducing the need for a platform-wide virtual currency," the company said in a blog post. Facebook has said that they will convert any user's remaining credits into the currency of whatever game the user would like.
If you thought Verizon's FiOS internet was fast, then brace yourself for Verizon FiOS Quantum. Verizon has announced today the pricing and new name for their updated FiOS internet service. The speeds, as we previously reported, have effectively doubled or tripled across the board, but at the time we didn't know the pricing.
We can now officially report the pricing and tell you that the cost will be about $10-15 higher a month for at least double the speed. That is, unless you are on the bottom tier. The Lowest 15/5 tier sees a $10 price increase without any increase in speed. Prices range from $65-210 a month for speeds ranging from 15/5 all the way up to 300/65.
Existing customers won't have to fork over an upgrade fee, but will see their bill go up, depending on bundles and such. If you are willing to sign a two-year contract, prices will drop by about $5 a month, something that's probably not worth being locked into a two-year contract for. Most people probably can't even utilize their current FiOS connection, let alone these massive new speeds.
Google continues to be an open company when it comes to censorship and the like and has released its biannual Global Transparency Report which details take-down requests by people. In the past six months, Google said it saw an "alarming" number of Government requests, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000 for the period.
"Unfortunately, what we've seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different," Dorothy Chou, Google's senior policy analyst, said in a blog post. "When we started releasing this data, in 2010, we noticed that government agencies from different countries would sometimes ask us to remove political content that our users had posted on our services. We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it's not."
Google said that they received 461 court orders for the removal of 6,989 items, of which they agreed to 68% of those orders. They also received 546 informal requests and agreed to remove content from 46% of those. The study leaves out Iran and China who block Google content without notification to the search giant.
"Just like every other time, we've been asked to take down political speech," Chou wrote. "It's alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect -- western democracies not typically associated with censorship."
YouTube will automatically caption certain videos. Announced today, those certain videos can also be in Spanish. This feature is great for Spanish students as well as the general public. On videos were it is available, there will be a little CC button that you can press to turn it on. This starts outputting text in Spanish.
Click the next option down, the "Translate" option, select a language, and you are on your way to reading what the person is saying in your own language. The feature isn't added to every video currently, and is likely coming in a rollout fashion. Additionally, Google's speech recognition software have to be able to understand the video.
This is the first time that automatic captioning has been on YouTube. Since its original release in 2009, it has been added to more and more videos. Google claims this number is around 157 million. The service isn't perfect, but it is a bit better than most people's Spanish. This should allow for Spanish speakers to gain a wider audience around the world.
In a hope to "make the internet a better place," an online retailer in Australia has decided that they have had enough developing for Internet Explorer 7. Hence, they are now charging a fee to users who insist on using the old, out-of-date browser which is extremely hard to make webpages look correct in.
Ruslan Kogan is now charging a 6.8% fee on any purchase made using the old browser in order to offset the cost of maintaining the site to be compatible with Internet Explorer 7. Dubbed "Internet Explorer 7 Tax," users are made aware of the issue via a popup. However, it's not clear just how much of an issue it is.
Internet Explorer 7 makes up only 2.99% of internet traffic, so it wouldn't kill their business not to support it if it did cost this much. It would appear that this is more of a publicity stunt than an actual business need. Kogan insists that Internet Explorer 7 use is a problem in an interview:
Internet Explorer 7 has long since passed its use-by date. It's a constant source of frustration for our web guys and we're sick of burning cash on a browser that hit the market nearly six years ago. It's not only costing us a huge amount, it's affecting any business with an online presence, and costing the internet economy millions of dollars.
Reddit has found that certain websites or their operators spam links on Reddit and has banned these domains from being posted on the site. The newly created /r/BannedDomains subreddit details the sites whose links are banned from being posted. Users who try to post a message containing a link to a banned site will be denied with an informative message.
The list of banned domains contains some major sites and is as follows:
The reason behind blocking these sites? It turns out editors from the sites, some of which are highly influential, have been posting links to their site on Reddit in a rather spamming fashion. A link on Reddit can often garner the site many extra hits or views that would otherwise not have come in. These hits are monetized by advertising making the site more money.
Reddit explains the ban in a short post:
Some domains are not allowed on any part of reddit because they are spammy, malicious, or involved in cheating shenanigans. Attempting to submit a link to one of these domains will now fail with an informative error message.
The internet is about to get even more confusing for old people. ICANN has been working on offering generic top-level-domains for about six years now, and today sees another step in that direction. Top-level-domains (TLD) are the endings on domains such as ".com" or ".org" and generic TLDs will come in the form of brands, ".samsung," or topics, ".lol."
"It's a historic day for the Internet," said ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom. "The internet is about to change forever." Notice that he doesn't specify that it is changing for the better as no one truly knows the full impact that these domains will have. It has the possibility to create widespread confusion, or easy ways to find topic-specific sites.
Brands had to pay a whopping $185,000 just to apply for a TLD; some brands applied for multiple. Applicants also had to prove their ability to pay to run a registry by putting up additional money. The application period has ended and ICANN has finally released a listing of applicants and the TLDs that they applied for.
Google was the heaviest hitter and applied for .Google, .android, .chrome, .cloud, .lol, .vip, and .wow. Amazon wasn't left out of the party and applied for .amazon, .book, .fire., .music, and .free. A few interesting TLDs were applied for such as .sex and .porn, as well as .sucks. ICANN has reiterated that they have the ability to take back a domain if the owner is abusing it.
I imagine most of you are sick of the spam floating around on Facebook; I know I am. Part of the problem is due to OpenGraph and the ability to auto-share. This auto-sharing is the source of many of the annoying, spammy posts that keep showing up in my already crowded news feed. And they crowd out the really important things, such as TweakTown posts.
Facebook has come up with a solution to this problem: the "10 second rule." What this rule does is require a user to read a post or watch a video for at least 10 seconds before it can auto-share it out with the rest of your friends. According to a developer blog post, "Built-in watch and read actions can only be published after someone engages with the content for 10 or more seconds. If a video is shorter than 10 seconds, the viewer must watch the entire video."
The frictionless sharing that Facebook introduced a year ago was helpful in gaining views for integrated services, but it has been taken advantage of since then. Thankfully, Facebook has decided to try curbing it with this new rule. Facebook is also requiring developers to access app content without auto-sharing it. It will be interesting to see if the amount of spam is cut down due to these new changes.
Think your home internet connection is fast? How about your work connection? How about you try 4700Mbps on for size. That's the new speed that has been reached by a German ISP using existing cable network infrastructure. This speed is incredible considering that most PCs only feature Gigabit Ethernet and this would manage to flood that.
Kabel Deutschland, a German cable operator, is claiming to have created a real-world download speed of 4,700Mbps. This ins't theoretical either as they are claiming this speed in a real-world test. Let's see just how fast that is. Four Gigabit connected computers would be unable to max the bandwidth available.
More incredibly, a connection of that speed, if you were able to use it all, could download a full 4.7GB DVD in just a mere 8 seconds. This title isn't the fastest real-world connection, as someone already provided a 40Gbps fiber connection to a residence, but this does use the existing cable networks. The test was carried out to test an upgraded network using the 862MHz spectrum, channel bonding, and the EuroDocsis 3.0 standard.
Not only are the browser wars heating up again, but apparently a new mapping war is heating up. The mapping world used to be just a few key players: Microsoft, Google, and a few other smaller ones. But with Apple now rumored to release its own solution at WWDC, the market is about to become a lot more complex.
It would appear that Google would like to steal some of Apple's thunder before its rumored release of a new mapping service. Google is hosting an invite-only press event in San Francisco to unveil "the next dimension of Google Maps." Considering Apple's new mapping service is expected to be 3D, does the mention of "dimension" in the invitation indicate Google is going to be adding more 3D features?
Google will also offer attendees "a behind-the-scenes look at Google Maps and share our vision. We'll also demo some of the newest technology and provide a sneak peek at upcoming features that will help people get where they want to go - both physically and virtually." Of course, Google already has the 3D Earth, but it requires a plug-in. Could this event be releasing one that runs without a plug-in?
We're not sure, and we haven't received an invitation yet, but we will be sure to find out everything that we can to report to you, our reader.
Thought your FiOS fiber connection wasn't fast enough? Well, you won't have to worry any more as Verizon has just announced speed upgrades to all of the FiOS tiers except for the base 15Mb/s connection. The increase in speed across the board is at least double, and in some cases triple, so there will be no more waiting for downloads.
Even the uploads have seen a boost in speed, though not quite as much as the downloads. Verizon is touting that both a 2-hour HD movie download and a 10GB backup will finish in 22 minutes or less on the faster connection. Verizon is saying that they are increasing the speed because of people needing it for uses like previously described.
There is no announcement regarding pricing. It's possible that there could be a price drop, although I don't see that in the cards. There also could be a price increase, although I don't see that as very likely either. We'll just have to wait until the speed rolls out this coming June. Verizon just needs to get the availability increased as I would love to get this to my house.
As such, Twitter is bringing some of the front-end grunt work back onto the servers in order to speed up load times. As Twitter says, "To connect you to information in real time, it's important for Twitter to be fast." Part of the change is not using # (hashbang) in the permalink URLs to improve initial load times.
There are many other improvements discussed in the post on Twitter's engineering blog, so I encourage you to check it out for yourself if you are interested. The Twitter blog post can be found on Twitter's engineering blog here.
With the SOPA and PIPA protests becoming distant memories, the attacks on internet freedoms have been renewed by Congress in the form of CISPA. There have been no protests like there were against PIPA and SOPA and that has Reddit's Alexis Ohanian concerned. An entrepreneurial group now wants to create the internet equivalent of the Bat-Signal.
The idea is that SOPA-like mass protests could be started at the push of a button when internet freedoms were deemed in danger. Website owners can sign up on the group's website and add a piece of code to their website that can be activated when a political crisis like SOPA rears its ugly head. Owners can also receive the code by e-mail when the signal is turned on.
"People who wish to be tapped can see, oh look, the Bat-Signal is up. Time to do something," says Ohanian. "Whatever website you own, this is a way for you to be notified if something comes up and take some basic actions…If we aggregate everyone that's doing it, the numbers start exploding."
The code can do more than just display a banner. Tiffiny Cheng, co-director of Internet-focused political advocacy group Fight for the Future, explains how it could implement a SOPA-style blackout: "We'll invent something at the time, and it will be some really unified and shocking action. We're creating the tools and the forms of protest that allow for viral organizing. That's how the SOPA protests were able to get started and grow to the level they did."
Ever see a game on Facebook that looks interesting but you don't want to play it because of all the hassle of installing and uninstalling if it's bad? Facebook is looking to change that with a new feature which will allow game developers to demo their wares in the news feed. Developers won't be given any information about the users.
If players like the game then they are able to click through onto the full version. This new feature is great, although I'm not sure that the news feed is a proper location for it. Personally, my news feed is already overflowing with the posts of my friend and the posts of quality content here on TweakTown, so I don't think I want more posts, especially ones that take up a lot of room.
Facebook has provided some examples of games already using the new feature. These games include: Idle Worship, Angry Birds, and Bubble Witch Saga. Developers of these games receive statistics about impressions of the story and how many people use the game contained within. Facebook has provided examples of how current games are using the new feature:
- Angry Birds lets users challenge friends to beat your score on a level.
- Bubble Witch Saga enables sharing coins with friends, they can earn a multiplier for a high score.
- Idle Worship lets users share a mini-game which gives friends a glimpse of the full game.
- Tetris Battle allows publishing a replay of a two-player battle.
Google has given us a bit more insight into the links that are removed from search results as a result of copyright and piracy complaints. The details include which organizations make the request, who actually owns the content, and the top targeted domains. The numbers are actually pretty shocking, so let's just start with one. 250,000. That's the average number of links taken down per week.
That 250,000 number is more than the total number of links removed for all of 2009. Even more incredible is the fact that Google's senior copyright counsel Fred von Lohmann says that the majority of requests are legitimate. Most of the requests are for sites that are offering unauthorized copies of software, entertainment or pornography.
Now, another number: 22,923. That's the number of sites that were targeted last month. Those sites generated over 1.1 million take-down requests. The illicit content was owned by just 1,190 people. This means, on average, each copyright owner had roughly 1,000 links removed over the past month. But, the numbers show that the average is extremely skewed.
What I mean by that is just over 520,000 URLs hosted Microsoft-owned content. Just under half of the removed links were due to Microsoft. This data should be extremely useful in the continuing debate regarding online piracy. The numbers should help Google and others fight off another SOPA should one be introduced as legislation.
Yahoo is working hard to turn themselves around from the brink of ruin, and this new Axis search that they have released could just manage to do that. Axis is a new way of searching the web and focuses on getting rid of the search results page. Interested yet? I certainly was, so I investigated the story a bit further.
TechCrunch spoke with Yahoo's Director of Product Management Ethan Batraski: "No one's innovated on 'How do I get rid of the search results page altogether'", Batraski said. "That is what we want to do." And so that's what they did. The new way to search is via a plug in to Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Firefox. There is also an iOS app for this new search.
Once you type in your Yahoo credentials, a small black bar gets added to the bottom left of your browser window. Click inside the search bar and it expands to about 1/3 of your page. No longer do you have to leave the page you are on to do a search. It will probably take a bit of getting used to as I know I am in the habit of quickly Ctrl + T'ing a new window and punching in my query.
The now expanded window fills with thumbnails of the search results as opposed to the traditional links. Users can scroll through the results by dragging the mouse or by clicking on the arrows. The desktop is only half of the new product. The iOS is a browser itself along with being a new search engine.
President Obama is embracing technology. On Wednesday, he ordered major governmental agencies to create mobile-optimized websites. The agencies have to provide two key services to mobile users within a year. The directive also ordered agencies to create websites to report on their mobile websites progress. These sites have to be completed in just 90 days.
I've had to go onto government sites from my phone before and it's near impossible to gather anything as the site is designed for desktops, and not even designed that well for those. Obama has recognized this fact and realized the importance of mobile phones and data access. By 2015, it's likely more web traffic will come from mobile devices than desktops.
"Americans deserve a government that works for them anytime, anywhere, and on any device," Obama said in a statement. "By making important services accessible from your phone and sharing government data with entrepreneurs, we are giving hard-working families and businesses tools that will help them succeed."
Dear Facebook and Mr. Mark Zuckerberg, you're a publicly listed company now. Don't you think it's high time you fixed these things? I'm pretty positive your near enough to 1,000,000,000 users are sick and tired of the issues.
Invest your cash injection in more staff, perhaps? Your users aren't going to stick around with poor quality aspects to some areas of your site and apps.
- Video Uploading: It seems when you upload a video of anything over roughly 50MB, the video uploader page just errors out and doesn't give any error at all. It just diverts the URL to a prefix containing "uhoh". Really, Facebook? Make it clear if there is a file size limit and don't accept the file for uploading to begin with.
- Give Users Choice: For people with an addictive personality (me), it drives me up the wall not being able to remove the suggestion boxes on the right side of your site. I don't think I'm ever going to get through all of your subscriber suggestions and it drives me mad that I don't have the choice to disable this box and others.
- Events: At this the last time I checked, there is no option to cancel an event. Sure, you can delete an event, but then it just disappears and users are left wondering what happened. Instead create a new status update of cancelled or postponed.
- Pokes: Isn't it about time this annoying feature was removed? Enough said.
A while back we brought you the story about users being infected with the DNS Changer malware and how, come July, they were going to lose their ability to connect to the internet. We also told you about how a collection of websites were running a piece of code to alert users to the fact their computers may be compromised.
Now Google has joined the group of websites offering up the warning to users. They are expecting to alert around half a million users in the first week alone. Without Google, it was going to take the other sites quite a bit of time to reach everyone. Who doesn't use Google? It's important that these messages reach users as the system will be shutdown July 9, 2012.
"In general we want to notify users [of malware infections] anytime we are capable of doing so, but the fact that we don't do this more often is really just because it's hard to come across cases where we can do it this accurately," Google security engineer Damian Menscher said. "In many cases we only have maybe a 90 percent confidence that someone is infected, and the false positive rate of 10 percent is simply too high to be feasible. But in this case we can be essentially certain that someone is infected."