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Internet & Websites Posts - Page 72

Google sees 'alarming' level of government censorship

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.

 

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"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."

Continue reading 'Google sees 'alarming' level of government censorship' (full post)

YouTube adds Spanish to the automatic captioning system

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.

 

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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.

Continue reading 'YouTube adds Spanish to the automatic captioning system' (full post)

Online retailer charges tax for using Internet Explorer 7

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.

 

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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 bans multiple domains in an effort to curb spam

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.

 

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The list of banned domains contains some major sites and is as follows:

 

  • Phys.org
  • TheAtlantic.com
  • BusinessWeek.com
  • ScienceDaily.com
  • GlobalPost.com
  • TheAtlanticWire.com
  • Funny-On-YouTube.com
  • TheAtlanticCities.com
  • Echomon.com
  • MedicalXPress.com

 

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.

Continue reading 'Reddit bans multiple domains in an effort to curb spam' (full post)

ICANN releases list of applicants for TLDs and which TLDs were applied for

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."

 

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"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.

Continue reading 'ICANN releases list of applicants for TLDs and which TLDs were applied for' (full post)

Facebook looks to cut down on spam by implementing '10 second rule'

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.

 

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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.

Continue reading 'Facebook looks to cut down on spam by implementing '10 second rule'' (full post)

German ISP manages incredible new speed over cable

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.

 

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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.

Continue reading 'German ISP manages incredible new speed over cable' (full post)

Google promises to unveil "next dimension of Google Maps" next week

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.

 

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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.

Verizon ups FiOS speeds, top tier now hits 300Mb/s

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.

 

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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.

Twitter improves performance, lowers page load times to 20% of what they were before

Twitter has announced updates to its website which they claim has decreased page load times down to 20% of what they were previously. The old system used the browser to render JavaScript which was groundbreaking at the time. It does have a disadvantage, however, in that it misses out on optimizations only available to the server.

 

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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.

 

Another update is to decrease the "time to first Tweet." This is where Twitter has managed to decrease page load times to 1/5 of what they were previously. The general, watered down version of how this works is to take the JavaScript out of the equation and render the content on the server. This removes the slowdown from old browsers or slow machines.

 

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.

Continue reading 'Twitter improves performance, lowers page load times to 20% of what they were before' (full post)

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