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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.