Posts Tagged ‘internet’

Vietnamese Government Passes Law to Fine Social Media Critics

November 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

In the latest of a series of severe crackdowns against online speech, Vietnamese officials announced a new law that could give the government the power to jail or issue steep fines to citizens who criticize the state via social media outlets. The law, known as Decree 72, is a vaguely worded dictum that allows the government to issue fines of up to 100 million dong (about $5,000 USD) to citizens who are “abusing the provision and use of the Internet and information on the web,” or those who “oppose the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” and “undermining the fine customs and traditions of the nation,” according to language from the bill. Some comments could also warrant imprisonment if considered “criminal,” though the distinction between comments worthy of fines and those worth jail time was unclear. Vietnam has had a history of censoring sites on the Internet to its citizens, intermittently blocking Facebook since 2009. In September, the government banned bloggers and online commentators from discussing news and current affairs on their websites, keeping that news restricted to state-owned press outlets and operations. Another stipulation of Decree 72 requires foreign companies that work in Vietnam to host at least one server inside the country. The Vietnamese government has arrested and jailed record numbers of dissident bloggers and activists in 2013 alone, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Activist groups including the EFF, the Asian Internet Coalition, Human Rights Watch and members of European Parliament have widely condemned the country’s crackdown against online speech. In August, 11 human rights and activist organizations sent a joint letter to the Vietnamese government, condemning the state and requesting that a number of detained writers be released. “We believe Vietnam as a country would benefit from greater respect for the civil liberties of its citizens and Vietnamese society would be richer with the contributions of all its citizens,” the letter said.

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Twitch Takes Up Cat Herding With Ban on PlayStation 4′s Playroom

November 27, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

How did no one see this coming? The PlayStation 4 has an optional camera accessory, games that use that camera, and the option to stream any game live to the Internet via the popular gaming-video service Twitch . Put those three ingredients together, let simmer for a week, and boom: Naked people , among other things. First, Twitch was banning individual users for inappropriate video content and comments in their livestreams. Now it has removed The Playroom , the fun PlayStation Camera demo game bundled with every PS4, from its directory. Twitch’s terms of service explicitly say that it’s only for game content, and I can’t think of a less-bad option for dealing with users who ignore that. But what happens when games that aren’t just hardware demos come along and are similarly abused? A Twitch spokesperson said content is “always gauged on a case by case basis” according to those terms. A “majority” of users streaming The Playroom were using it for “non-gaming related” content, according to a company statement. But, even if one person using a console has read ( hah! ) and agreed to the terms of service, one of the differences between consoles and personal computers — Twitch’s longtime stomping ground — is that they’re designed to be used by many people in various combinations at different times. Entering the living room and expecting everyone to pretend they’re alone at a desk is not a sound strategy as social gamecasting matures. Although initially planned for launch, as it was on the PS4, Microsoft delayed Twitch streaming on its competing next-gen console, the Xbox One, until Q1 2014.

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While Yahoo Gave Few Details About Couric’s New Role, Here’s What a Previous Deal With Her Wanted (Memo)

November 27, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

In her flashy announcement about the hiring of television news star Katie Couric as the global anchor and “face of Yahoo News,” CEO Marissa Mayer gave the very barest of details. According to her blog post, there will be an unspecified “growing team of correspondents.” And Couric will be “shooting features for our homepage.” And she will start in early 2014. For such a big move in news, there was an amazing lack of news about exactly what Couric would do — from the what to the when to the where to the how much. Thank goodness for sources close to the situation, who note that the lack of specificity was due to the still largely undetermined solid specifics about what Couric is going to do for the millions of dollars she will be paid by Yahoo. That’s due to a lot of reasons, including the fact that Couric still has another big job. While she will no longer be a special correspondent for ABC News, which did not work out as planned on either side, that has not actually taken up a lot of her bandwidth of late. Instead, she has been working on her five-day-a-week syndicated daytime talk show, called “Katie.” While its future is unclear, it still needs to complete its second season, and that will take up a lot of Couric’s time, according to numerous sources, which Mayer was aware of. In addition, according to Yahoo sources, Couric can also do other projects, including on television, as part of the deal.

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I Shot the Serif — Why Didn’t Anyone Notice the Tumblr Logo Change?

November 26, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

While everyone was riveted to the change in Yahoo’s logo earlier this fall — mostly due to a monthlong Cecil B. DeMille rollout of the logos not used, followed by the I-made-it-myself grand unveiling by CEO Marissa Mayer — no one seems to have noticed a subtle but significant change to the look of the logo of another of the Silicon Valley Internet giant’s properties. That would be Tumblr, the high-profile New York-based blogging network that Yahoo bought for more than $1 billion in late May . And though it was not touted, the logo changed in mid-October, during an update of Tumblr’s dashboard. Along with making it more clean, several of the logo’s letters had their serifs squared up, in a move not dissimilar to the Yahoo logo change. In other words, some new sharp and straight lines, versus softer ones — mostly all-serif, but some sans-serif thrown in at the same time. Here’s the old Tumblr logo: And here’s the new one: I like this change a lot, almost as much as I did not like the new Yahoo logo. Then again, I am no font expert, and there’s no accounting for taste.

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Wearable Sensors Could Be an Antidote to Football’s Concussion Problem

November 25, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

It’s become clear that the biggest risk to the future of the multibillion-dollar football industry is the high-impact sport’s propensity for giving its athletes concussions. There have already been 29 football-related deaths in 2013, 16 of them attributed to brain injuries. After being blamed for years of denial , the National Football League has agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to compensate former players with brain injuries and to fund research, and it’s also working to change the rules of the game. And at the other end of the spectrum, American youth football enrollment is dropping , with parents citing the risk of concussions as the reason they aren’t signing up their kids. So why is this a tech story? One way to manage risks and concerns is to get better data about them, and some companies are producing wearable devices that measure players’ brain activity during games. The leader seems to be a Seattle-based startup named X2 Biosystems , which just reached a deal to make its systems mandatory for all 32 NFL teams, after a pilot test. X2 benchmarks athlete’s brains so coaches and staff can better determine when they are ready to re-enter the game after a concussion. At the most basic level, X2 offers an iOS app for tracking measurements of brain activity, coordination and balance throughout the season. And some pro teams are already using X2′s stick-on patch, which measures six different axes of acceleration and communicates the data wirelessly while an athlete is playing. After head impact, players are retested and monitored until they have met a standard safe for them to return to the sport. What with wearable, connected sensors being just about the hottest thing in tech right now, X2 has attracted some crossover investors from the Internet sphere. MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe is part of a group of angel investors who have put $9 million into the company, and he recently joined its board amid further fundraising efforts. DeWolfe is now CEO of Social Gaming Networks, and said his fellow MySpace co-founder and SGN COO Colin Digiaro has also invested in X2. “This is one of the world’s big problems,” DeWolfe said in an interview last week, noting that everyone he talks to can think of an example of a kid who got a concussion playing sports

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‘Ray Donovan’ Producer Bryan Zuriff Sentenced to Six Months of Home Confinement

November 25, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Bryan Zuriff, former executive producer of Showtime’s “Ray Donovan,” has been sentenced to six months home confinement and two years of probation for illegal Internet gambling, as he was arrested earlier this year along with dozens of others as part of an FBI bust of an international gambling ring. He’s also been sentenced to perform... Read more

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AllThingsD Week In Review: AppSung 2, Internet Funneling and Inside Microsoft’s CEO Search

November 25, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

In case you missed anything, here’s a quick roundup of some of the news that powered AllThingsD this week: This week, Apple and Samsung were back in black … suits, for a partial retrial of last year’s patent infringement lawsuit. This time, though, the only thing that mattered this week was money , and how much of last year’s $1 billion verdict was improperly calculated. Apple said Samsung should pay $379 million in addition to an undisputed $640 million, while Samsung argued that $52 million was plenty . Ultimately, the jury decided Samsung owed $290 million for its patent infringement adding up to a total of $929.83 million between the two trials. The battle between the two companies, however, is far from over . Internet research firm Renesys disclosed this week that earlier this year, an unknown party targeted Internet carriers in major cities worldwide and performed what’s called a “Man-In-The-Middle attack,” funneling Internet traffic bound for those cities through Belarus and Iceland. Arik Hesseldahl explained the reported attack in detail here. Ding! Southwest Airlines is upping the ante in the electronics-on-planes game, tapping its satellite internet infrastructure to offer gate-to-gate Wi-Fi Internet . The ever-falling cost and size of computing power caused Intel to get beaten at its own game , chairman Andy Bryant said on Thursday. Bryant said the company “lost [its] way” but that there’s still reason to be hopeful looking forward. Who will take over the reins at Microsoft once its current CEO Steve Ballmer departs? High-ranking insiders say it might be Ford CEO Alan Mulally , to be a “caretaker” of the job while training others who might eventually take his place. There’s still time, though, for a dark horse to emerge. Sony’s last gaming console, the PlayStation 3, was sold at a loss, but its new PlayStation 4 is being built for $381, or $18 under its retail price, according to research firm IHS. Here are the details from IHS’ teardown. Apple is trying to acquire 3-D sensing company PrimeSense , but as of Sunday, talks were “close” but not yet done. Sources said its reported valuation of $345 million would would not represent a huge win for investors. ( Update : Oh look — sold! ) Amazon is in the process of creating its own brand for supermarket goods , according to several job listings the company has posted over the last few months.

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We Still Don’t Know Snapchat’s Magic User Numbers (But Here’s a Bunch of Other Interesting New Stats, Including About Norway!)

November 24, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Asa Mathat / AllThingsD.com Evan Spiegel is certainly enjoying his time in the limelight. The 23-year-old CEO of Snapchat is happy to talk about the success of his ephemeral messaging app, which he said last week at a private investment conference now has more than 400 million messages received every day. But despite all the buzz around Snapchat, we still don’t have a clue about the company’s most important statistic: Just how many people are regularly using the app? That’s one of the deets he did not share at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference earlier this week. It was closed to press, but a few insiders slipped us some more info from Spiegel’s talk, to add to some that had been previously reported. Here are a few new tidbits of info from the talk: Monetization is certainly on the near-term horizon, although Spiegel said the startup plans to start “modestly.” First on the list, a number of “value-added services.” Ideally, he said, those could be a subscription service, instead of a la carte, one-off purchases. After that, he said Snapchat could look at how best to insert advertising into the service. As has been reported, in part, the app’s core audience is the age group from 13 to 25 years old, with 70 percent of those members being women . Half of Snapchat’s daily active users are using his new Stories product, which was unveiled last month . About 25 percent of smartphone users in the United Kingdom use Snapchat monthly, he said, although it’s unclear how this number was measured. He also said 50 percent of Norway smartphone owners actively used the app. Go Norway! Snapchat now has 30 employees. Half of those are engineers, 25 percent are dedicated to product and the remaining 25 percent are in other various positions, said Spiegel. Spiegel said he isn’t interested in leveraging his emerging social graph. In that vein, he downplayed the importance of network effects, or the value derived from the number of people using the service — something Facebook cares about and regularly uses to its advantage. Instead, he said, the power is “all about product leadership.” Snap that, Mark Zuckerberg. Spiegel very much admires China’s Tencent , which has seen tremendous success in its WeChat mobile application. (TenCent, by the way, is also a big fan of Snapchat.) Interesting stuff, for sure, but all this should come with one giant caveat: Without an exact active user count, we have zero perspective on how much any of these numbers mean in terms of company scale.

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Pandora Media Posts Q3 Loss

November 22, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Pandora Media Inc. swung to a fiscal third-quarter loss as the Internet-radio provider spent more on content and sales and marketing, masking a jump in revenue as users listened to more music. For the fourth quarter, Pandora projected adjusted earnings between two cents to four cents a share, compared with the four-cent estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. The company also forecast adjusted fourth-quarter revenue of $185 million to $190 million. Read the rest of this post on the original site »

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5 Digital Shows Created by Grown-Ups

November 21, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Silicon Valley has a lot of things going for it: advancing technology, an attractive environment for whiz kids, a (weak) stab at meritocracy among its residents, gobs and gobs of cash. But as anybody who's ever worked in the arts will tell you, money cannot buy taste. Frequently it buys whatever the opposite of taste is . Thus, the learning curve has been incredibly steep for video companies desperate to produce the elusive "premium content" that will command the kind of money that TV advertising moves every season, or, in the case of subscriber-only services, the kind of buzz that generates subscribers to pay-TV networks. At first, video services seemed to believe that "premium" meant "not cat videos," but after wave after wave of unbearable vanity projects

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