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‘Contre Jour’ is now playable in the browser, one third of the levels require IE 10

October 15th, 2012

'Contre Jour' is now playable in the browser, one third of the levels require IE 10

Say it with us: Developers! Developers! Developers! That’s Steve Ballmer’s mantra and indeed, it says a lot about the way Microsoft has gone about promoting Internet Explorer. In addition to a series of prime-time ads, the company has been using certain HTML 5 apps to show devs what they can do using IE 10′s deep multitouch support. Now the outfit’s back, this time with a game: Contre Jour is coming to the web, and while it runs in any modern browser, you’ll need IE 10 and a Windows 8 machine to play a third of the levels (it shouldn’t make a difference if you have a touchscreen or a multitouch trackpad). That’s because in some parts of the game, you’ll be required to use as many as three fingers at once to pull off certain maneuvers. In IE 10 you can do this, so you get access to all 30 levels; if you’re using a different browser that doesn’t support these gestures, the levels will remain locked. Hit up the source link to play the game for free, and if a game based on “The Little Prince” doesn’t do much for you, at least check out the Behind the Scenes section — coding geeks should appreciate the deeper explanation as to how the web app was built.

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BBC announces YouTube original content channels for science, nature

October 10th, 2012

BBC announces YouTube original content channels for science, nature

Hot on the heels of YouTube’s launch of 60 new original content channels, the BBC has announced that it will be partnering with Google’s video service to present two of those. The UK broadcaster said it will introduce a nature channel, with content coming from its BBC Earth Productions unit, and a science channel featuring Top Gear presenter James May “and his crack team of scientists.” The new portals will come online in 2013, and “Auntie Beeb” has also redesigned its six current YouTube stations and added new clips from Top Gear (season 18) and other original programs, too. All that comes along at the same time as the refreshed iPlayer — another way the company’s been creative with technology, lately.

SOURCE via BBC

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Myspace teases slick new revamp with minimalist flair

September 25th, 2012

Myspace teases slick new revamp with minimalist flair

When it rebranded as My[___], the social network innovator was met with much deserved derision. It was widely perceived as a desperate attempt to recapture the interest of the hipster class that once propelled it into the mainstream, before being overshadowed by the creeping empire of Facebook. The spectacular crash of the brand eventually led to News Corp. to sell it to Specific Media and Justin Timberlake. Since then, the partnership has been quietly working behind the scenes to rebuild the site and return it to its former glory. Like most of the tech media we’re understandably skeptical of any attempt to relaunch the flagging social service, but after getting a peak at the redesign we’ve gotta say we’re rooting for it.

Myspace (notice, no camel case) has be rebuilt from the ground up and bears almost no resemblance to its previous incarnations. There’s still a heavy focus on music and an integrated playlist creator. Visually everything has been stripped down, with thin clean sans-serif fonts, large images and lots of soft grays. Instead of a vertically aligned wall of posts, profile pages are dominated by a large image that fills the window completely — like Facebook’s cover photos taken to their logical extreme. Images and status updates are arranged in a side-scrolling grid that clearly takes inspiration from some of Tumblr’s flashier templates. It’s all quite beautiful and even integrates with its popular competitors.

SOURCE via MySpace

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Facebook shutting down facial recognition in the EU, gets stamp of approval from Ireland DPC

September 24th, 2012

Facebook shutting down facial recognition in the EU, gets stamp of approval from Ireland DPC

Earlier this year, Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner, a body whose decisions impact Facebook’s policies in Europe at large, made several recommendations to bring the website in line with regional privacy laws, calling for greater transparency on how users’ data is handled and more user control over settings, among other things.

The DPC just officially announced that Zuckerberg et al. have for the most part adjusted its policies accordingly. The biggest change involves the facial recognition feature, which attempts to identify Facebook friends in photos and suggest their names for tagging.

The social network turned off this functionality for new users in the EU — and it will be shutting it down entirely by October 15th. It’s not like Ireland, home to Facebook’s European HQ, is the first to give the site flack about such features: Germany was having none of it when the site introduced facial recognition last summer.

Here’s Facebook’s response to the DPC’s announcement, reinforcing the image of one big, happy, privacy regulations-compliant family:

    As our regulator in Europe, the Irish Office of the Data Protection Commissioner is constantly working with us to ensure that we keep improving on the high standards of control that we have built into our existing tools.

This audit is part of an ongoing process of oversight, and we are pleased that, as the Data Protection Commissioner said, the latest announcement is confirmation that we are not only compliant with European data protection law but we have gone beyond some of their initial recommendations and are fully committed to best practice in data protection compliance.

SOURCE via TechCrunch

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Vic Gundotra says Nik’s ‘high-end tools and plugins’ will survive. Snapseed? Maybe not.

September 24th, 2012

Vic Gundotra says Nik's 'high-end tools and plugins' will survive. Snapseed? Maybe not.

After Google effectively killed Sparrow’s apps when it purchased the company (they’re still available and supported, but don’t expect much future development) there was some worry about the future of Nik Software. Well, Vic Gundotra took to Google+ to salve some of those fears.

Earlier this week I proudly welcomed +Nik Software to Google. They’ve been making pictures more awesome for 17 years, and we’re excited to bring Nik’s expertise to the entire Google+ community!

I also want to make something clear: we’re going to continue offering and improving Nik’s high-end tools and plug-ins.

Professionals across the globe use Nik to create the perfect moment in their photographs (e.g., http://goo.gl/aDtkO), and we care deeply about their artistry.

There is one bothersome caveat in that quote: “high-end.” Gundotra may be promising a future for Capture NX and Efex Pro, but it’s clear that the popular Snapseed doesn’t fit that description. Now, he has not expressly announced the death of the Instagram competitor, but it seems to us that the writing is on the wall. The Android camera app may already have a set of friendly filters, but it lacks the simplified sharing and marketing buzz of Facebook’s recent acquisition. Don’t be surprised if the Snapseed team simply gets folded into Google+ or Android while its creation slowly withers and dies.

SOURCE via TheNextWeb

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Facebook brings search history to Activity Log, keeps queries private

September 24th, 2012

Facebook brings search history to Activity Log, keeps queries private

Last week at TechCrunch Disrupt, Mark Zuckerberg let loose that Facebook would create a search engine “at some point,” and today the firm snuck in a smidgen of emphasis on queries into the Activity Log. Over the coming weeks, your searches on the social network will appear alongside the links, comments and other actions that are normally aggregated in the feature. Worried that friends will learn of your quest to find My Little Pony pages? There’s nothing to fear as the log is for your eyes only. However, if a particular search blemish needs to be scrubbed from the list, each entry can be individually nixed like posts on a Timeline.

SOURCE via Facebook

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Twitter CEO reveals plans for interactive tweets, content curation, reinforces belief in syndication

September 24th, 2012

Twitter CEO reveals plans for interactive tweets, content curation, reinforces belief in syndication

Twitter has ruffled a few feathers recently, so when CEO Dick Costolo took the stage at the Online News Association conference in San Francisco, he took the opportunity to put some minds at rest. First he dismissed the idea that the service would become a media company by forcing users to the site or official app for content, before reasserting his belief in syndication. Costolo then went on to imply that the reason behind the tighter (and unpopular) API controls was ensuring quality — stating that Twitter would reach its full potential now there’s more control over how tweets are delivered. With boots strapped, we can look forward to some new features, such as the option to curate messages that are published (such as during live events) plus tweets with interactive features like polls during live sports games. The famous 140 character limit is to remain, but will also serve as a “caption for additional functionality.” Perhaps of most interest to disenfranchised developers, however, was the mention of application functionality in tweets, where short messages could contain small interactive apps. Something for devs to get potentially get back on board with? We hope so.

SOURCE via Reuters

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W3C says HTML 5 will be finalized in 2014, HTML 5.1 to follow in 2016

September 24th, 2012

W3C says HTML 5 will be finalized in 2014, HTML 5.1 to follow in 2016

HTML 5 has been a buzz word around the interwebs for so long you’d be forgiven if you thought it was a well-established standard looking for a successor. In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which helps establish the primary standards used online, didn’t actually intend to complete HTML 5 until 2022. Thankfully, the group has reconsidered that seemingly absurd timeline and now plans to have this whole mess wrapped up by the end of 2014. The revised plan calls for an HTML 5 Candidate Recommendation (sort of like a feature-frozen beta) to be submitted by the end of 2012, before being finalized in 2014. All existing bits of the standard that are unstable or that suffer interoperability problems will be pulled from that candidate and pushed to a draft version of HTML 5.1. While HTML 5 is being completed, its evolutionary successor will begin the process of marching towards standardization, with a target completion date of 2016. For a more detailed exploration of the future of HTML hit up the source link.

SOURCE via W3

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Asia is now Facebook’s largest continent after hitting 242 million users

September 22nd, 2012

Asia is now Facebook’s largest continent after hitting 242 million users

Technology companies worldwide are increasingly realising the potential of Asia and, in a clear sign of the size of that addressable market, Asia has surpassed Europe as Facebook’s largest continent, based on member numbers.

Facebook’s latest statistics, via Socialbakers, show that the continent (which includes Middle Eastern countries) now has more than 242 million registered users, putting it ahead of Europe by nearly 1 million, with North America’s figure some 6.5 million users lower.

This handover was always likely to happen — given the sheer size of Asia’s population — and what’s most interesting to note is that the social network has signed-up just 6.26 percent of people in Asia, that’s some way below its rate in Europe (29.72 percent) and North America (44.63 percent).

There are a number of reasons for the low penetration rate in Asia — language, varying levels of access to technology, awareness and more — but it’s clear that, if Facebook is to connect the world as CEO Mark Zuckerberg aspires to, growing its presence in Asia (and Africa) is among its biggest challenges.

Asia itself is a hugely diverse continent and Facebook is the dominant social network in most countries, bar a few well known exceptions (such as China). That indicates that, to grow its numbers, the service needs to do more than raise its (already high) profile among existing Internet users; targeting mobile and basic devices is key.

In India, where social networks account for 25 percent of time spent online via PCs, Internet penetration is less than 10 percent. While that has seen mobile Web usage overtake that of PCs, the lack of Internet access means that Facebook (and any other Internet service) will struggle to gain the kind of traction that it enjoys in Western markets.

Economic factors are outside of Facebook’s control but the company has signalled its intention to help improve technology in Asia, and the US firm invested in a project to build an undersea Internet access cable for the region. That’s in addition to more standard projects, which include a focus on feature phones, which account for more than 70 percent of mobile handsets worldwide, and deals with operators.

The company regularly updates its Facebook for Every Phone app, and it sharpened its emerging market focus when it bought feature phone specialist Snaptu last year.

Facebook isn’t alone in facing the challenge of growing in emerging markets but, as the preeminent global Internet service, it is better placed than most to reach new demographics.

Note that we haven’t discussed Facebook’s dilemma with China as yet. The social network remains blocked in the country, where Twitter-like services Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo have both amassed userbases in excess of 300 million, showing a large potential market for Facebook.

That issue — which tangles politics and nationalism, among others — isn’t about to be addressed by Facebook, and a company executive recently confirmed that the social network has no plans to enter China.

Facebook recently overtook Mixi in Japan, which ranks fifth in Asia; here’s the rest of the continent’s top ten, via Socialbakers:

Asia is now Facebook’s largest continent after hitting 242 million users

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Facebook launches Shared Activity plugin to make controlling privacy in web apps easier

September 22nd, 2012

Facebook launches Shared Activity plugin to make controlling privacy in web apps easier

Facebook has just rolled out what it’s calling the Shared Activity plugin, a tool that will permit users to control privacy settings directly from within all Facebook-connected web apps. “People can set the default Facebook audience for activity shared from your app, or manage the settings for stories previously published to Facebook, including selecting an audience or removing it altogether,” writes Andrew Chen on the company’s developer blog. He cites Airbnb as a popular example, but the plugin can be applied to virtually any site that takes advantage of Facebook’s Open Graph, Like button, or comment system.

Shared Activity joins the existing trio of privacy resources available to Facebook’s massive community; similar options can be found within App Settings, directly on your timeline, and through Activity Log. Privacy has become a paramount issue for the social network, so it’s nice to see Facebook making new strides to provide more granular and easily accessible control to its users. We expect most developers to embrace the added feature quickly.

SOURCE via Facebook

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