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Microsoft are set to roll some changes into their Xbox.com site over the next few days in anticipation for the upcoming Xbox 360 dashboard update. "My Xbox" will be replaced by a forward-thinking "Social" area, which will feature Metro UI styling. This new Social section will also give Xbox.com users the ability to be the first to try the new Beacons feature, which lets you mark games you want to play with others, making it easier to find friends who want to play the same game.
Microsoft have baked in a bunch of other extras such as the ability to search the Zune video catalog and buy movies and TV shows directly from your browser. At the top of the replacement of 'My Xbox', which is now "Social", will be the ability to be taken directly to the Social page when visiting Xbox.com.
At the top of the Social page, there will be a group of tiles that you might find familiar, this is the new Metro UI. This is where Microsoft will have Xbox LIVE events, preview articles with all of the latest details on the hottest new items on the Marketplace, new video and game releases, Gamer Spotlight, and more. To the left of these are quick links which display how many friends are online, and how many messages you currently have.
Steam's official forums are currently offline with a message reading "The Steam forums are temporarily offline for maintenance. Your patience is appreciated." Is maintenance the actual issue, though? It is believed that the site's vBulletin forum software may have been hacked, with Valve not yet to comment on the issue, with some gamers noticing a suspicious message on the forum last night that leads most to believe it was a security breach.
Eurogamer was contacted by a Steam user who said a group known as fkn0wned changed the text on the forum and spammed some user's e-mail addresses. Below is what was said:
Ever wanted to dominate the servers you play on with guaranteed results, but you were too afraid to cheat because of ban risks? Visit Fkn0wned.com. It's safe, secure and undetected. Along with hacks, we've also got some general discussion sections, hacking tutorials and tools, porn, free giveaways and much more. This site has been conditioned to meet all of your needs in terms of resources so be sure to take a look and tell us what you think. Thanks again, the fkn0wned team.
Google completed their Caffeine web indexing system last year, which allows them to crawl and index the web from fresh content quickly on an enormous scale. Google have just announced that they're making quite a significant change to their ranking algorithm that impacts roughly 35-percent of searches and better determines when to give you more up-to-date relevant results for these varying degrees of freshness.
Obviously, in today's world, information is power. But information can be from today, last week, the last minute, or thirty years ago depending on the search terms. Google's algorithm needs to be able to work out if a result from a week ago about a TV show is recent, or if a result from a week ago about breaking news is too old.
Google have rolled out their new Reader design over the last few days and it now sports the Google+ features that were mentioned a week ago. Reader now features a new look that is cleaner, faster and nicer to look at. It also includes the ability to +1 a feed item (which replaces "Like"), with an option to then share it with your circles on Google+ (this replaces "Share" and "Share with Note").
Google say that integrating Reader with Google+ helps them streamline Reader overall, so with the rollout, Google have cut away friending, following, shared items and comments and replaced them with similar Google+ functionality. Google are loving the new layout and have also rolled the layout onto GMail also. Personally, I use Reader every single day for my news here at TweakTown and I really don't like the new layout.
Naughty, iiNet! iiNet's recent ad on TV has been taken down after it was found it breached the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice as it included a subliminal message. The message in the ad read:
Wow. Impressive. You not only spotted this in our TV ad, you found a way to read it. That can't have been easy. This whole page only lasted two frames. That's less than one tenth of a second. Well done, sir or madam. We're going to reward your awesome pausing powers with a little gift. Type this link into your browser: iinet.net.au/2framefreebie. And yes, you can tell your friends. But let's keep it to a minimum of a hundred, OK? And hey, watch for more two-frame freebies in our next TV campaign.
The link sends you here, but the limit of 100 entries has already been met. You can however, still enter your details for the chance to win one of five iPads. The message itself is fine, it won't make you a zombie for iiNet products, but it was enough of a breach to enable Free TV Australia to take it down. The Code of Practice states that information conveyed in a manner that is "below or near the threshold of normal awareness" is unacceptable.
Google and their "Broadcasting Ourselves ;)" slogan are going hard this weekend, with the announcement that Google will have even more talented creators and original entertainment will soon join YouTube's existing channel lineup. This includes channels created by well-known personalities and content producers from the TV, film, music, news and sports fields, as well as some of the most innovative up-and-coming media companies in the world and some of YouTube's own existing partners.
These channels are set to include something for everyone, no matter what style of media you're after. Google's goal with the channel's expansion is to bring users an even broader range of entertainment to YouTube, giving you more reasons to keep coming back again and again. Advertisers also benefit, with new ways to engage and reach their global consumers.
Chinese search engine Baidu posted their earnings today, and they've got some very impressive results. Total revenue in Q3 rocks along at $654.7 million, an 85.1-percent increase from the same period last year, net income was up 80-percent to $295 million. Diluted earnings for Q3 were $0.84; non-GAAP earnings were for the $0.86. Robin Li, chairman and chief executive officer of Baidu says:
Baidu recorded stellar results in the third quarter driven by rapid growth in customer spending and user traffic. In particular, spending by large customers significantly outperformed our expectations as we continued to build strong relationships with high quality companies. China's search industry is still in its early stages, and as the clear industry leader we see enormous room for continuing growth as users and online marketing customers become increasingly sophisticated.
YouTube, if you didn't already know, is seeing 3 billion videos viewed, per day. But, its also seeing 800 million people per month visiting the site, Google revealed in their third-quarter earnings report. Today, YouTube is announcing the ability to sell merchandise, tickets and more via the site. The new feature is called Merch Store, where YouTube partners will be able to sell artist merchandise, digital downloads, concert tickets and other experiences to fans and visitors.
YouTube has partnered up with a number of companies to launch these stores. Topspin is helping power merchandise sales, concert tickets and experiences; SongKick will dabble in selling tickets for concerts; and iTunes and Amazon will power transactions for music downloads. YouTube says the Merch Store will rock out to music partners globally over the coming weeks. YouTube remained silent on what the financial split will be for these sales, but did say that it takes a small percentage of sales just to cover costs.
However, the artist gets the same revenue no matter if they go through the Merch Store or through the affiliate on other channels. The new feature of the merchandise sales, ticket sales, digital downloads and more, really adds a few angle for artists with their fans. YouTube has now transformed from a place where people would visit just to watch music videos, to something that could really change up the industry for both fans and artists alike.
Google have just recently launched Google MapsGL. Google MapsGL takes the normal Google Maps and uses the power of Web Graphics Library (WebGL) to create far richer visuals and animations. WebGL is a new technology that uses hardware-accelerated 3D graphics and brings them into the browser without the need for additional installed software. With WebGL your maps experience is much better with 3D buildings, smoother transitions between imagery and the ability to instantly "swoop" into Street View, all without a plugin.
Google Maps with WebGL is currently working on just supported browsers (Chrome 14+ or Firefox Beta) with compatible video cards, you'll have to opt in to the early beta release, though. Visit maps.google.com and click "Try it now," or visit maps.google.com/gl to learn more. WebGL has been used to create experiences like their Chrome experiment "3 Dreams of Black" and "All is Not Lost", which is all happening within the browser.
Google are shutting down Google Buzz, its non-started Gmail-based social network that paved the way for such things as Google+. Google VP Product Bradley Horowitz wrote today in an announcement post on the Google Blog:
We learned a lot from products like Buzz, and are putting that learning to work every day in our vision for products like Google+.
Old Buzz content is still ok, and will be visible on users' Google profiles, users will also have the ability to export their data from Buzz before it becomes unavailable. This should be in a few weeks. Google is also shutting down some other social products such as Jaiku and iGoogle social features, not only that, but Code Search and a program that gives academic researchers API access to Google Search results.