UN Human Rights Council Calls for an End to Internet Blocking

The 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council “passed a resolution condemning countries that prevent or disrupt access to the Internet,” according to The Hill. The nonbinding resolution, likely most useful for public pressure, calls on nations to address security and privacy concerns while securing freedom of expression. It also “condemns violence or intimidation against people for ‘exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms on the Internet.’” Digital rights group Access Now cited at least 15 Internet shutdowns around the world last year, and 20 so far this year. Continue reading UN Human Rights Council Calls for an End to Internet Blocking

Google Debuts Features to Enable Browsing the Internet in VR

Google has been a significant player in defining and deploying what’s called WebVR, which enables VR websites to provide content directly to virtual reality headsets via standard capabilities. But Google has a much broader vision: it would like users to be able to access all websites in VR including those not created with virtual reality in mind. Currently, a user would have to take the VR headset off and on as she jumped from site to site. Google thinks it’s a better idea to let the user remain in an entirely VR environment. Continue reading Google Debuts Features to Enable Browsing the Internet in VR

Live Streaming Will Get its Own Upfronts in NYC This October

“Today” show host Al Roker’s newly-formed Roker Media is teaming up with Brave Ventures to launch the “Live Fronts.” The NewFronts-style event, which will provide live-video companies with the chance to pitch to advertisers, will be held in New York City in October. Attendance will be open to “anyone in the business of live-streaming,” said Brave Ventures co-founder Jesse Rednis. Advertising Age describes the event “as a way to showcase the opportunities for marketers and content producers on platforms like Facebook Live, Periscope and YouNow, while at the same time hanging the open-for-business sign.” Continue reading Live Streaming Will Get its Own Upfronts in NYC This October

Dish Unveils New Sling TV Packages and Adds More Channels

Dish announced it is updating its Sling TV streaming service to include popular channels such as Bravo, BBC America, NBC, Syfy and USA. Sling TV will also offer new price packages intended to attract those without pay TV service. “Dish has named its basic $20 single-screen package Sling Orange, and added Sling Blue, a $25 multiscreen package, which will feature local NBC broadcasts in 10 cities,” reports Bloomberg. “Customers can buy a combination of Blue and Orange for $40 a month.” Sling currently has more than 700,000 subscribers. Continue reading Dish Unveils New Sling TV Packages and Adds More Channels

Pinterest Unveils Visual Search Tools to Enable E-Commerce

In the next few months, Pinterest will unveil a way to use the smartphone as a visual search tool. The user goes to search, taps the visual search button, points the camera and Pinterest will “recognize” objects in the camera’s view. The user can then tap any recognized object to get a recommendation for similar ones, and resize the image box to refine the search. Pinterest has always placed a major focus on visual search, and the most recent update now connects that visual search with e-commerce. Continue reading Pinterest Unveils Visual Search Tools to Enable E-Commerce

Apple Patents Technology to Disable Cellphone Photos/Video

A new Apple patent, spotted on Patently Apple, will enable venues from museums to concert arenas to enforce their often-flouted rules against photography. The patent describes a system whereby a venue can use an infrared emitter to remotely block the camera function on smartphones. The smartphone interprets the infrared beams as a command to block photos and videos. Musicians who routinely — and fruitlessly — ban cellphone photography at their concerts will likely welcome the technology. Continue reading Apple Patents Technology to Disable Cellphone Photos/Video

Internet Allies Unite to Create More Secure, Future-Proof Web

Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, most recently Google’s chief Internet evangelist, co-created Internet server protocols in 1973. Since then, he’s helped the Internet to mature, but one problem he didn’t foresee was the ephemeral nature of storage media, from floppy disks to Zip drives. Tomorrow’s browsers may be incompatible with today’s webpages. Worried about what he calls “a coming digital dark ages,” Cerf has now turned his attention to making the Internet more secure and future-proof. Continue reading Internet Allies Unite to Create More Secure, Future-Proof Web

PlayStation Vue on Roku Devices Offers Alternative to Cable

Sony’s PlayStation Vue streaming TV service is now available on Roku’s set-top boxes, media sticks and television sets. The Vue service enables users to stream dozens of cable channels such as CNN, Comedy Central, ESPN, Fox News and MTV over the Internet. Vue can be accessed as a Roku app in addition to apps for iPhones, iPads and Amazon’s Fire TV. Next week Vue will be offered for Android users. “Now that Vue is available nationwide and on many streaming-video devices, it’s truly a viable alternative to a traditional cable-TV service,” suggests The Wall Street Journal. Continue reading PlayStation Vue on Roku Devices Offers Alternative to Cable

Facebook Inks Video Deals with Media Brands and Celebrities

In a bid to fill the Facebook Live pipeline with high quality video, Facebook has inked deals with almost 140 media companies including CNN, The New York Times, Vox Media, Tastemade, Mashable and The Huffington Post, and celebrities including Kevin Hart, Gordon Ramsay, Deepak Chopra and NFL quarterback Russell Wilson. With these high-profile media contracts, Facebook plans to tap into a potentially lucrative advertising market, as well as more deeply engage its 1.65 billion monthly users. Continue reading Facebook Inks Video Deals with Media Brands and Celebrities

BitTorrent Launches Ad-Supported Music and Video Platform

BitTorrent has launched its open, ad-supported music and video platform that allows consumers to access media content via apps for Android, iOS and Apple TV. BitTorrent Now is the latest effort to shed the piracy stigma of the popular peer-to-peer technology for more legitimate uses. Up until now, BitTorrent offered free and paywall versions for artists to get their content to people. With the new ad-supported service, artists have an alternative for generating revenue while users can stream their content through an Android app launched yesterday, and iOS and Apple TV apps to follow. Continue reading BitTorrent Launches Ad-Supported Music and Video Platform

Netflix Updates Video Encoding, Aims to Use Less Bandwidth

According to a Sandvine study, Netflix has re-encoded some of its video library in order to make the streaming service more efficient and reduce its bandwidth demands. Netflix accounted for 37.1 percent of Internet traffic on fixed broadband networks during primetime hours six months ago in North America. Sandvine notes that Netflix represented 35.2 percent of downstream traffic under the same criteria during March of this year. “Last December, Netflix detailed changes in its video-encoding schemes, which the company said could reduce bit rates by up to 20 percent while delivering equivalent quality,” reports Variety. Meanwhile, “Amazon Video now represents 4.3 percent of peak-period traffic, up from 2 percent a year ago.” Continue reading Netflix Updates Video Encoding, Aims to Use Less Bandwidth

With FCC Approval, U.S. Could Be First to Open 5G Networks

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler will distribute a proposal tomorrow to launch 5G wireless proceedings, and if the plan is passed, the FCC will then identify and open up high-band spectrum capable of sending data at ultra high speeds. The FCC is not defining 5G, and a 5G standard has yet to be established. “Wheeler basically wants to leave it up to the market, as the commission did for 4G before it,” The Verge reports. “The commission will open up a bunch of new wireless spectrum — which is what companies like AT&T and Verizon use to beam data from their towers to your cellphones — and then leave phone companies and other competitors to do what they’d like with it.” Continue reading With FCC Approval, U.S. Could Be First to Open 5G Networks

Mashable Buys YouTube Channel for Filmmakers, Movie Fans

In another sign that New York-based Mashable is heading toward video, the digital media company has acquired YouTube channel CineFix from Lloyd Braun’s media and tech company, Whalerock Industries. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The channel, which is geared toward filmmakers and movie fans, has produced more than 1,200 videos and attracted over 1.6 million YouTube subscribers. The site is “a natural fit with Mashable’s focus on entertainment, technology, and influential geek culture,” said Mashable chief content officer Gregory Gittrich. Continue reading Mashable Buys YouTube Channel for Filmmakers, Movie Fans

Tablo Premieres Live TV and DVR App for 4th Gen Apple TV

Canadian-based Tablo has launched an app for Apple TV 4th generation devices that, with the company’s $200 Tablo DVR, will allow users to stream live TV and watch recorded programs. The Tablo DVR, seen as an alternative to TiVo, includes an over-the-air broadcast antenna, and two tuners for the $200 price. A $300 version offers four tuners; TV Guide data is an add-on at $5 a month. Tablo’s only downside may be that it requires some technical know-how to attach the user’s external drive to store the recordings. Continue reading Tablo Premieres Live TV and DVR App for 4th Gen Apple TV

Chips From Barefoot to Offer Blazing Speed, Programmability

A new series of high performance chips, dubbed Tofino, run at a rate of 6.5 terabits per second, twice as fast as any other on the market, and can be programmed to change functionality. Developed by Palo Alto-based computer networking company Barefoot Networks, they are designed so that it won’t take a hardware specialist to code the chips. Due out later this year, the chips will reside inside networking switches, which direct traffic across the Internet. For companies such as Google and Facebook, the ability to program a chip opens up tremendous opportunities.

Continue reading Chips From Barefoot to Offer Blazing Speed, Programmability

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