Google dominates so many services it's not funny, but Microsoft isn't going down without a fight when it comes to search engine wars. The Redmond-based software giant is very much committed to Bing, and it seems like that is a relationship that will keep on keeping on.
Since 2005, Bing has cost Microsoft's Online Services Division a hefty $11 billion, but the company are still continuing to maintain it, and pump money into the search engine. AllThingsD's Kara Swisher says that all of Microsoft's board members, including recently appointed activist shareholder firm ValueAct, think that Bing is a key part of Microsoft's future in online revenues.
I guess we'll see going into the future, but Microsoft's recently acquisition of Nokia's Devices and Services division might just have a helping hand in the future of Bing, or vica versa.
Have you ever ordered a paperback or hardcover book from Amazon and wished that you could get the digital copy for your Kindle in the same purchase at a discounted price? If so, an announcement today is sure to make you quite happy. Amazon today announced a new initiative called Kindle Matchbook that will allow customers to include the Kindle edition of physical books in with their order at a highly discounted price.
Customers will now be able to pick up the Kindle edition of their book for $2.99, $1.99, $0.99, or for free anytime they purchase the physical copy of the book. Amazon has made this feature retroactive as well, and any books you have purchased since Amazon first opened its online bookstore now qualify for this deal. This means that you can go back through your Amazon purchase history and pick up the Kindle edition of your favorite books at a highly discounted price.
"If you logged onto your CompuServe account during the Clinton administration and bought a book like Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus from Amazon, Kindle MatchBook now makes it possible for that purchase-18 years later-to be added to your Kindle library at a very low cost," said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content. "In addition to being a great new benefit for customers, this is an easy choice for publishers and authors who will now be able to earn more from each book they publish."
It appears that YouTube has been quietly changing its logo across the various social networking platforms it uses to promote its content. Additionally both the Android and iOS apps now feature the new logo. We're still not sure though, if this is an official permanent logo update as YouTube.com still features the old bubbly style logo.
The new logo as seen above appears to be more Windows 8 friendly and looks like it would fit in perfectly with the live tiles on any Windows 8 home screen. Additionally the logo does appear to more closely align with other Google-owned services such as Chrome and Drive, which both are quite minimalist and features double drop shadows. I have sent a request to YouTube for more information and will update this post as soon as I know more.
Finally! Google is switching Google+ Hangouts to HD video, which should result in a large increase in quality. The news comes from Google's Senior VP, Engineering for Google, Vic Gundotra, reports GigaOM.
Google is switching from H.264 to VP8, which should result in better quality video, with Google's VP of Engineering, Chee Chew, stating "it will be cleaner, better video." One of the main benefits of VP8 within Hangouts in HD is it is capable of doing more, at better quality, with less horsepower. H.264 would not be capable of handling HD streams from 10 users, as it would require too much processing power.
Everyone's favorite crowdfunding website Kickstarter will be heading to the land down under in the coming weeks! That's right, Kickstarter is coming to Australia and New Zealand and is expected to be ready for Aussie and Kiwi campaigns by the end of September.
Kickstarter is preparing some training events in Sydney and Melbourne on the first and second of September. The crowdfunding website extended an open invitation to all Aussies and New Zealanders wishing to use the service in a post on the website that read: "We'll be in Australia the next few weeks hosting Kickstarter Schools with Australia-based creators interested in Kickstarter. If you have a project in mind and want to run it by us, or if you just want to learn more about Kickstarter, we hope you'll join us!" Those looking to attend these events can head over to the Kickstarter source listed below.
I'm a daily user of feedly, and by daily, I mean that I have a tab with feedly open in it on my desktop as much as I do Gmail and Facebook. Feedly has just unveiled a new feedly Pro service, which has some cool features and a new $5 per month fee.
What do you get for $5 per month? You get Article Search, which lets you search within your feedly feeds, Evernote capabilities built into feedly Pro, which let you one-click save to any of your Evernote notebooks. Premium Pocket lets you one-click save to a pocket and Premium Support, which is quite self-explanatory: you get 'bumped to the front of the support line.'
If you want to pay yearly, you'll get it discounted to $45 per year which gives you three months for free.
Yahoo began doling out good news (or bad) today to its users who applied for a recycled username back in July. The company began firing off emails today notifying users if a username they wished to recycle has been reserved for them are not. Today also marks the beginning of the new policy in which Yahoo will begin recycling user accounts if they go dormant for more than 90 days, so remember to keep logging into your account even if you're not using it if you wish to keep your name.
If you did not receive an email today, do not worry as it is expected to take several days for Yahoo to completely notify everyone who signed up. Additionally, if you did not have the chance to sign up for the original wish list of names, Yahoo will now allow you to do so at the cost of just $1.99. Fortunately, I was one of the lucky few who received my very first request, but apparently was denied for my other four. We want to know how many of you received your requested username, so drop us a line in the comments below!
Early this morning, Apple customers around the world began experiencing outages to several of Apple's services including iTunes, iMessage, and iCloud. The outages started around 12:30 AM EST on August 22 and persisted for some users throughout most of the day.
According to Apple, the outages were only experienced by 1 percent of its user base, but other reports suggest that as many as 16.6 percent of users were unable to reach services such as iTunes. As of this writing, it appears that full functionality has been restored to all affected services. I have reached out to Apple for a comment but have yet to receive a reply. Did any of you experience an outage this morning? Let us know in the comments!
A new report out from comScore says that last month for the first time in more than two years, Yahoo managed to best Google in terms of overall monthly traffic. Yahoo was able to coax in 196.6 million unique monthly visitors during the month of July, while Google only managed to attract 192.3 million unique visitors.
Interestingly enough, these numbers did not include traffic from Yahoo's newly acquired social network Tumblr, which sees more than 38 million unique visitors every month. If these numbers were included, it would put Yahoo far ahead of Google in overall web traffic. However, the report did not include mobile traffic either, and with Google's Android being the dominant mobile OS, we're sure that Google would have topped Yahoo if the mobile numbers were included.
It looks like Google pressed a wrong button on Friday, most likely in the TGIF celebrations, taking down every single service that the Mountain View-based giant has to offer. This obviously includes Google Search, Gmail, YouTube, and every service in between.
According to analytics firm GoSquared, worldwide Internet traffic dropped by a whopping 40% during those hectic 120 seconds, as you can see in the graph, above. Most companies and website owners were scratching their heads for a few minutes, because when Google goes down, it would be like not being able to breathe oxygen for those two minutes - sheer panic. Google came back online two minutes later, to the relief of, well, everyone.
Google should hopefully come out with a report next week, which should stun, and scare thousands across the world.
YouTube appears to be experiencing issues today after a site-wide global outage this afternoon. We were first alerted to the issues while trying to upload a video to the TweakTown channel about 45 minutes ago. At first, the videos manager page was down and a few minutes later the entire site was unreachable.
When visiting the site, users were prompted with a 502 error which translates into "the server is broken". The full error reads "502. That's an error. The server encountered a temporary error and could not complete your request. Please try again in 30 seconds. That's all we know". We have confirmed that YouTube was not displaying in the US nor in Taipei, Taiwan. As of this posting, YouTube appears to be back up, but issues could still arise throughout the day.
Google has really been stepping up their game when it comes to what they capture using their Street View cameras. With recent treks to the top of mount Fuji, the tallest building in the world, and even the Eiffel tower, the company has taking thousands of photos that were never used or were shots of behind-the-scenes activities.
Instead of letting these images go to waste, Google has put together a behind-the-scenes site that offers a plethora of extra information about the shoots which include photos, videos, audio tours and actual accounts of how the imagery was gathered by those who put in the footwork.
"Our first two multimedia adventures enable you to experience the Canadian Arctic in Iqaluit, Canada, and the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE," Street View program manager Deanna Yick says in a post introducing the new material. "We also invite you to enjoy photos and videos from our past journeys to the Grand Canyon, the base camp of Mount Everest, the Amazon Basin, the Great Barrier Reef and the NASA Kennedy Space Center - minus the extreme temperatures and long plane rides!"
The way Microsoft's Bing search engine displays results may be changing soon. A recent report over at Search Engine Land confirmed that Bing is testing displaying website favicons to the left of search results.
I tried to duplicate the results pictured above in every web browser I have installed and was unable to get any favicons to display, which is consistent with the results that Search Engine Land got. They were, however, able to obtain confirmation from Microsoft that Bing is indeed testing out this new feature.
In a statement to Search Engine Land, Microsoft had the following to say.
We're constantly updating and refining the Bing search experience, and before any changes are implemented they undergo intensive testing and experimentation to ensure the best possible user experience. We have nothing further to share at this time.
It looks like Edward Snowden might have another e-mail service to use in a little while, as Kim Dotcom is working on a secure, encrypted e-mail service that will launch under his Mega service.
The new Mega e-mail service will include most of the luxuries of modern cloud-based e-mail services, all while your data and e-mails are kept safe. Mega's CEO, Vikram Kumar, has confirmed rumors that Mega is working on an encrypted e-mail service, where he told ZDNet that the service is still a work-in-progress, and that it's difficult to provide the same functionalities of something like Gmail, but keep it encrypted.
He continued: "The biggest tech hurdle is providing email functionality that people expect, such as searching emails, that are trivial to provide if emails are stored in plain text (or available in plain text) on the server side. If all the server can see is encrypted text, as is the case with true end-to-end encryption, then all the functionality has to be built client side. [That's] not quite impossible, but very, very hard. That's why even Silent Circle didn't go there."
For many of our readers, Google Drive is a staple in their daily productivity workflow. Some use it for keeping notes in meetings, some use it as a drop box of sorts, while still others use it for collaborative efforts which require real-time editing. Google has decided to make using Drive easier than ever and has decided to implement updates requested by users for sometime now.
The first major update involves the service's spell checking feature. Users can now spell check the entire document or presentation all at once instead of having to individually resolve each error. Additionally, Google has added new presets for numbered and bullet lists. Users can now change the color, size, and style of individual bullets and even create their own.
Today, Google launched a digital textbook section in Google Play Books. The new section is only available in the US and is available through the Google Play website, Android, and iOS apps. Many of the textbooks are available for rental, but most must be purchased outright.
Website GigaOM is advising returning students to be cautious and still shop around as both Amazon and Barnes & Noble also rent digital textbooks and prices varied across the stores on the same books. They found that a psychology textbook rented for $66 for 180 days, while a print version from Amazon can be rented for $25.23 per semester with the option to extend the rental period by 15 days for $5.
Until just recently, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden used the e-mail services of Lavabit. But now Lavabit has shut its doors, with the owner of Lavabit, Ladar Levison, leaving a very cryptic and scary message stating he walked away from his business as he has "become complicit in crimes against the American public."
It gets a little scarier, with the Lavabit owner saying that until real reform happens, he "would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States." This includes most e-mail services, like GMail, Hotmail, and more.
The full message reads:
Today, Amazon launched a new online fine art store named Amazon Art. This new marketplace will give customers direct access to more than 40,000 works of fine art from over 150 galleries around the world. Amazon says that the new store will showcase artwork from more than 4500 artists and is one of the largest online marketplace collections of original and limited-edition artwork in the world.
"We are excited to bring one of the largest selections of fine art direct from galleries to our customers. Amazon Art gives galleries a way to bring their passion and expertise about the artists they represent to our millions of customers," said Peter Faricy, vice president for the Amazon Marketplace. "We're thrilled to bring the excitement and emotional connection of art to our customers."
Amazon says that the new store provides easy searching discoverability that enables smaller art galleries to get their collection seen by millions of people, which in turn will lead to higher sales numbers and will allow the small galleries to grow. Head over to Source #2 to visit the online art store for yourself and let us know if you pick up something such as a work from one the old Masters.
And it's about time: Google have just allowed YouTube to live stream to anyone with 100 or more subscribers. This is a great step, as it puts the smaller creators on nearly the same playing field as the big boys on YouTube.
YouTube previously reduced the number of subscribers required to 1,000 just three months ago, and have now reduced it to just 100. YouTube says that this feature is rolling out gradually, so don't feel bad if you don't see an "Enable" button for YouTube Live any time soon. Smaller creators are also getting some more benefits, with the ability to add custom thumbnail images to video, link out to online stores or other sites in their videos' annotations, and place viewers inside video playlists.
Crytek's official website is down right now, with the German developer stating they were hit with "suspicious activity" which means hackers have most likely infiltrated the site. A bunch of Crytek's websites are down right now, including:
But, some of their sites are ok, such as:
We should expect the sites to be back up shortly, with an explanation from Crytek.
This morning, many webmasters awoke to emails and phone calls from clients and users informing them that their website was not reachable. Unfortunately, I was on both sides of the story. Shared hosting giant BlueHost announced this morning that they were experiencing "networking issues" that were affecting a good portion of their client base.
Sometime around 9AM EST, websites hosted with BlueHost began dropping offline, while others continued to function periodically. An hour later, BlueHost officially addressed the issue via Twitter and said that the company ran into networking issues during an upgrade the night before and the issues were still persisting into the morning. The latest tweet from the company says that the networking issues are still popping up, but most sites should be back online. It appears that my personal sites fall into the niche that remains offline and a call to BlueHost support resulted in a busy signal. You can follow updates on the outage by visiting the company's support Twitter account at Source #1 below.