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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.