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Illustration by Chris Gash

One attorney says cleaning the internet of negative content for highly influential executives is a huge business.

Gawker may be gone, but Michael Lynton hasn’t forgotten about a story that ran on the now-bankrupt news site following the 2014 hack at Sony Pictures.

In fact, Sony's outgoing chairman has in recent weeks taken advantage of the troubles that have befallen Gawker in the wake of Hulk Hogan’s stunning $140 million judgment to have an unflattering story about his family quietly wiped from the site’s archives. Not only has the post vanished from the Gawker archive, its administrators have attempted to “de-index” it using special metacode to ensure it isn't cached by search engines nor captured by other digital preservationists.


The story in question was written by Sam Biddle and published on April 21, 2015. The article quoted heavily from Lynton's emails, which became public thanks to a massive intrusion that the Obama administration attributed to the North Koreans in advance of the release of the Seth Rogen film The Interview.

When the hack happened three years ago, Sony begged journalists to exercise care with leaked information and even threatened the media with legal action for exposing secrets, though the studio never did go to court to challenge what news outlets published. Had that happened, it would have surely invited a huge First Amendment battle. Nevertheless, after the Gawker Media Group declared bankruptcy and sold most of its assets to Univision’s Fusion Media Group for $135 million last August — with the notable exception of the Gawker.com trademark and archives — Lynton saw an opportunity. In order to clean up its legal liabilities in advance of the sale, Gawker reached several settlements in which it agreed to take down a few of its other controversial stories, including the one about Hogan’s sex tape that brought on its demise. These removals happened thanks to claims officially lodged in court against the debtor. It's unclear how Lynton effectuated a removal. Nothing publicly was filed, although it's possible there were claims filed under seal.


The story came down after the argument came that Biddle’s piece was defamatory and an invasion of privacy, though Andrew Celli, the Lynton family attorney, declines to discuss the particulars of who he contacted or how he succeeded in getting the story taken down. According to Gawker bankruptcy records, Celli did file proof of claims on behalf of two anonymous individuals under seal in September. (A lawyer for Gawker’s administrator didn’t respond to a request for comment.) Judging by what’s been captured at Archive.org, the removal seems to have occurred in April. Even though the story was based on communications between Lynton, now chairman at Snap, Inc. (which built its brand off of the appeal of messages that won't remain on the internet forever), and others, Lynton's family asserted the story carried the untrue assertion that he unduly influenced an elite academic institution. 

Celli made contact with The Hollywood Reporter's general counsel to express concern after I made inquiries about the vanished article with Gawker. He later suggested that to even repeat the gist of the original Gawker story would be damaging. He threatened a lawsuit and, referring to the Sony hack, told me, “There is a sin at the bottom of this. It’s wrong. The source for information is the result of a crime.”


The attorney has a point, but there are also some deeper issues at stake. Last month, UCLA Law professor Eugene Volokh wrote a column for The Washington Post about an actor who had been indicted on sex crime charges only to later be cleared. Volokh discovered how the actor (or someone working for him) had demanded Google de-index news coverage of his case. Volokh wrote, “What should our view be when someone tries to get the stories about them to vanish from search results this way? Should it matter that there is real evidence that he was innocent?”

Around this time, I was in communications with a reputation specialist who had been hired by an entertainment professional who had been sued a few years back in a case I had covered. The client was dismayed to see my article atop the results of a Google search for her name. This was causing her problems getting employment, the specialist said: Would I kindly remove the story?


This is altogether very common.

“Cleaning the internet of negative content by highly influential executives is a huge business,” says Bryan Freedman, a Hollywood attorney who represents talent agencies and many stars. “I spend a great portion of every day for high-level clients analyzing the approach to be taken and then creating a plan and executing it usually on various platforms. There are other tricks that are not commonly known but incredibly effective.”

As to Volokh’s questions, I see value to news archives and believe removing articles sets a dangerous precedent, but I can at least understand in certain situations the attempts to make information harder to find. Is manipulating search engines really so troubling?

In Europe, authorities have given private citizens a “right to be forgotten,” or more precisely, the ability to demand search engines like Google eradicate information that is no longer newsworthy. Here in America, there isn’t this right. Journalists don’t even have an onus to update — and unfortunately, many don’t.


As for the Lynton situation, I asked Volokh about it.

“Normally, I think that asking Gawker to take down material that’s allegedly defamatory and privacy-invading would be the right approach,” he responded. “The problem here is that it sounds like Lynton approached the [Gawker] administrator, which does raise the problem of material being squelched without the exercise of real editorial judgment. Yet I take it we wouldn’t want a rule that, once a media site goes bankrupt, people who have legit defamation/privacy claims about stories on the site would have no one to turn to. So maybe this comes down to the merits of his objection.”

Gawker founder Nick Denton didn’t respond to a request for comment, but last July, he spoke to The New York Times about how the Lynton article, along with one about Bill O’Reilly’s temper and Hillary Clinton’s secret kitchen cabinet, were ones he was proud of. “In all those examples, there was a point, and a public interest in the truth getting wider circulation," said Denton at the time.


Celli makes his own points how even painting the Gawker story in broad brush strokes creates a false portrait for Lynton’s family. I could have also written this story without detailing what exactly Gawker had reported. That’s something that Buzzfeed did when it rushed its own version of this story on Thursday.

But as Volokh said, it's important to understand the merits of Lynton's objection. And it could also be argued that writing about any defamation claim constitutes some echo of information damaging to someone’s reputation. Ultimately, I decided that moves made by public figures to take down information — including by way of robots.txt files — are, well, newsworthy regardless of the origins and that it was important enough to provide at least some detail.

Source: This article was published on hollywoodreporter.com by Eriq Gardner

Categorized in Science & Tech

Despite the reach of the Internet and its growing complexity, no physical map of the Internet had been produced, until now. The outcome highlights the Internet-dependent nature of our world.

To understand the depth of the project it is important to appreciate what the Internet is. The Internet should not be thought of as synonymous with World Wide Web. The Internet is a physical entity, a massive network of networks made up of cables, servers and computers. The networking infrastructure connects millions of computers together globally. This creates a network in which any computer can communicate with any other computer.


The end-product is an Internet Atlas, which is the first detailed map of the Internet's structure worldwide. The map resembles, at first glance, a conventional map of a geographical territory; however the series of lines represent crucial pieces of the physical infrastructure of the Internet rather than geographical features or political boundaries. For most people these interactions are out-of-sight yet they are critical items of physical infrastructure ad without them the Internet as we understand it would not exist.

The map has been developed by a team put together by Professor Paul Barford and Ramakrishnan Durairajan. The scale of the project reveals the complexity of the connected world, showing aspects like submarine cables buried beneath the ocean floor, which are necessary to allow continents to communicate with each other. On land, the map reveals how buildings packed with servers engage in communications traffic exchange with different service providers, across Internet exchange points.


To construct the map millions of data items were inputted. One complexity was the lack of data about where most of the Internet is. While the researchers received some information from Internet providers they had to resort to cumulating local permits in various countries for works like laying cables.

There’s a point to it which goes beyond a mere intellectual exercise. The Internet remains under threat from low-grade hackers to major terrorist groups. Beyond this the Internet is under threat from natural forces, such as freak weather or extreme weather, as with hurricanes. Add to this other accidental events such as problems with rail tracks; this matters because considerable stretches of cabling runs under the rail network in many countries, including the U.S.

The map has recently been presented to the RSA Conference in San Francisco, which is a major cyber security conference. Commenting on this, Ramakrishnan Durairajan explains: "The question of 'how does mapping contribute to security?' is one of our fundamental concerns” By taking the map to the conference, the issue of Internet security received wider appreciation and coverage. These issues are global and require world governments to work together since Internet security is something of shared risk. In all likelihood to damage to one area impacts upon more than one entity, be that a networking hub or even multiple countries.


With the static map of the Internet produced, the researchers want to turn it into something interactive, to show how the Internet is functioning and evolving in real-time.

Source: This article was published on digitaljournal.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

Net neutrality, the idea that internet service providers must treat everything equally, has been described as ‘the first amendment of the internet’. Photograph: Juice/REX/Shutterstock

US campaigners rejoiced in 2015 when ‘net neutrality’ enshrined the internet as a free and level playing field. A vote on 18 May could take it all back

Thursday 26 February 2015 was a good day for internet freedom campaigners. On that day the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to more strictly regulate internet service providers (ISPs) and to enshrine the principles of “net neutrality” as law.


The vote reclassified wireless and fixed-line broadband service providers as Title II “common carriers”, a public utility-type designation that gives the FCC the ability to set rates, open up access to competitors and more closely regulate the industry.

“The internet is the most powerful and pervasive platform on the planet,” said FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. “It’s simply too important to be left without rules and without a referee on the field.”

Two years on and Trump’s new FCC chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, has announced plans to overturn the 2015 order, in turn gutting net neutrality. A vote on this proposal is due to take place on 18 May. Here’s why it matters.

What is net neutrality?

Net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers (ISPs) treat everyone’s data equally, whether that’s an email from your mom, a bank transfer, or a streamed episode of The Handmaid’s Tale. It means that ISPs don’t get to choose which data is sent more quickly and which sites get blocked or throttled (for example slowing the delivery of a TV show because it’s streamed by a video company that competes with a subsidiary of the ISP) and who has to pay extra. For this reason some have described net neutrality as the “first amendment of the internet”.


Protesters hold a rally at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Washington in 2015, several weeks before net neutrality was made law. Photograph: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Imag

What is the difference between an ISP and a content provider?

ISPs provide you with access to the internet and include companies such as Verizon, Comcast, Charter, Verizon, CenturyLink and Cox. Content companies include Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. In some cases ISPs are also content providers, for example Comcast owns NBCUniversal and delivers TV shows through its Xfinity internet service.


Who supports net neutrality?

Content providers including Netflix, Apple and Google. They argue that people are already paying for connectivity and so deserve access to a quality experience. Mozilla, the non-profit company behind the Firefox web browser, is a vocal supporter, and argues that it allows for creativity, innovation and economic growth.

More than 800 startups, investors and other people and organizations sent a letterto Pai stating that “without net neutrality the incumbents who provide access to the internet would be able to pick winners or losers in the market. They could impede traffic from our services in order to favor their own services or established competitors. Or they could impose new tolls on us, inhibiting consumer choice.”

Many consumers support the rules to protect the openness of the internet. Some of them may have been swayed by Last Week Tonight host John Oliver, who pointed out that “there are multiple examples of ISP fuckery over the years” so restrictions are important.


Who doesn’t support the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules?

Big broadband companies including AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and Cox. They argue that the rules are too heavy-handed and will stifle innovation and investment in infrastructure and have filed a series of lawsuits challenging the FCC’s authority to impose net neutrality rules.

Publicly, however, the message is different. Verizon released an odd video on the topic insisting that they were not trying to kill net neutrality rules and that pro-net neutrality groups are using the issue to fundraise.

Verizon’s PR campaign insists that the company supports net neutrality, despite a history of fighting against legislation that would enshrine it.

Comcast also launched a Twitter campaign insisting it supports net neutrality.


Are there other reasons why people don’t like the 2015 rules?

Yes. Opponents don’t like the idea of putting the federal government at the center of the internet when, as Pai has said, “nothing is broken”.

The new FCC chairman argues that the 2015 rules were established on “hypothetical harms and hysterical prophecies of doom” and that they are generally bad for business.

“It’s basic economics. The more heavily you regulate something, the less of it you’re likely to get,” he said.

The big broadband companies publicly state they are quibbling the Title II “common carrier” designation rather than net neutrality per se. They believe they shouldn’t be regulated in the same way that telecommunications services are and prefer the light touch regulation they would otherwise be subject to under their previous Title I designation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The FCC lacks the direct authority to regulate Title I “information services”.

How does this tie in to Trump’s approach to the internet?

Trump’s Republican party is showing its colors as friendly to big corporations even if it leads to the unfettered accumulation of corporate power.


It’s the second major roll-back of Obama-era internet protections. In March, Congress voted to allow ISPs to sell the browsing habits of their customers to advertisers. The move, which critics charge will fundamentally undermineconsumer privacy in the US, overturned rules drawn up by the FCC that would have given people more control over their personal data. Without the rules, ISPs don’t have to get people’s consent before selling their data – including their browsing histories – to advertisers and others.

What can people do?

There are 10 days to protest the roll-back of the FCC’s net neutrality rules. You can use this website to write to the FCC and Congress or leave a voice message for Mozilla, which will collect them all together as an audio file and send them to the FCC.

Source: This article was published on theguardian.com

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Women and children queue up under the scorching heat of the midday sun, distaste and frustration piling up around them as they hope to replenish those empty buckets with proper drinking water at the local handpump. The village is not without its own water supply, mind you, but the muddy, polluted water is scarcely enough to saturate the thirst of an honest worker. Therefore they stand, for hours and hours under the searing heat of the midday sun, keen to help their husbands and fathers to a glass of cold drinking water as they come home from a hard day’s work. As we sit on fluffy couches in our air-conditioned rooms in the urban upstate, it is easy to take for granted the lives we live, the gifts we have. But if there’s one thing my time in India has taught me, it’s how small and inconsequential the life of a humble private citizen can be in the wake of overwhelming corporate and political interests.


It is hard to think about internet access when the very question of healthy drinking water is at stake, after all, we need to get our priorities straight. But if there is one thing the internet does really well, it is to open up opportunities for the rural and urban poor struggling to make a living in a difficult economy. Teach a man to fish, and all that. Either that, or plain old urban glamor, is what motivates the likes of Facebook and SpaceX in their quest to make the internet universally accessible, and they are not unwilling to push the boundaries of conventional wisdom when it comes to making good on their plans.

“The internet is a vast pool of opportunities. Tapping into it can help find employment and a source of earning for many people across the world. It can also foster the cause of globalization and help the international economy prosper as a whole.” - Alex Jasin, X3 Digital

We got a good glimpse of how crucial connectivity is going to be for company’s plans in the next coming years over at Facebook’s F8. Mark Zuckerberg acquainted us with his ambitious plans to roll connectivity solutions to the far and distant corners of the earth that still don’t have internet access, and in doing so, bring the 3 billion people of the world who are yet to have an internet connection, into the mainstream. These plans come in three segments. The first is Project Acquila, that aims to make use of solar-powered drones to beam the internet on to rural and urban areas from the stratosphere. With Aquila, Facebook has already managed to set a record with its millimeter-wave radio technology, which can beam down 36 Gbps of internet connections from a distance of up to ten kilometers. Acquila still has ways to go, however, as its massive unmanned aircraft crashed into a pile of dust and hubris in the Arizona desert, shortly after setting aforementioned record.

While the Aquila drones project is aimed at assuring connectivity to far-off rural areas, Facebook’s Terragraph initiative aims at supplying decent internet connections in dense urban areas. The problems suffered in these two scenarios are very different, as the severe lags suffered in urban area internet connections are mostly due to huge amounts of traffic and so-called dead zones. Terragraph aims at solving these problems by using better quality fibres to eliminate dead zones and improve internet capacity, using the same millimeter radio wave technology that fuels Aquila.


“There are just so many people out there in the real world that deserve mainstream attention and real recognizance for their work. Universalizing the internet can help bring these people into the spotlight.” - Jeff Smith, Infuence.co

The third and final of Facebook’s connectivity initiatives is tether-tenna, which is supposed to help provide temporary internet connectivity during emergency situations. The tether-tenna is a miniature helicopter drone that can be connected to a fibre line and then launched up to a few hundred feet above ground to work as a temporary tower. It will be particularly useful in case of an emergency situation or catastrophe, when immediate access to the internet is required.

While Facebook goes all in on its effort to globalize the internet, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has his own plans of propagating the world wide web. In November 2016, Elon Musk filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission, asking for permission to launch 4,425 satellites that would help beam high-speed internet facilities onto various parts of the world from space. The initiative, which Musk says may cost around $10bn, is said to begin launching its satellites in 2019, with at least one prototype sent into space later this year, according to Patricia Cooper, Vice President of Satellite Government Affairs for SpaceX.

“As a great equalizer, the Internet provide access to communications, information and opportunity. A lot of businesses in the outsourcing sector would not be possible without Internet technologies such as VoIP and eCommerce.” - William Emmanuel Yu, Quora

Elon Musk isn’t the first person on the planet to take a gander at such a satellite internet programs, similar initiatives by the likes of HughesNet and Exede have since long been in play, but he is the first person to be doing it at this scale. As of this moment, there are 4,256 satellites orbiting the earth, only 1,419 of which remain functional. Musk’s plans involve not only setting a record in satellite launches to space, they also aim to wrap the whole world in a mesh of internet connectivity in the process.

While Musk’s plans may seem outlandish, and Zuckerberg’s at least ambitious, we cannot really expect to bring the internet to the whole world without setting some records and breaking some existing ones. The internet opens up a web of opportunities for the rural and urban dwellers of underdeveloped and developing countries, giving them a chance at improving a stagnant economy and raising their own living standards in the process. While the projects are massive and nothing is certain, there is one thing I am confident about. To delegate this much of responsibility on to the hands of corporate giants we know little about, we must really trust Musk and Zuckerberg to keep true to their promises.


Source: This article was published forbes.com By Harold Stark

Categorized in Social

According to BetaNews, the United States continues to lag behind many other nations when it comes to broadband penetration and access speeds. To make matters worse, Americans pay more for Internet than many countries with faster speeds.

BroadbandNow.com, which has helped over 1M people search for Internet, takes your zip code and helps you find the best Internet providers in your area, analyzing their plans, prices and rating for all available providers.

It’s a Texas based startup, and provides all relevant broadband information, from provider footprints to local pricing statistics, on what kind of coverage is available for your current or prospective address. The company was founded by Duane Anderson and Nick Reese, who after founding a successful email marketing company Gwun, which later served over 400 realtors and marketed thousands of luxury properties, decided that he wanted to make a larger impact.


“We still have over 800,000 Americans without access to any broadband connection of 3mbps or higher, even wireless. One of our primary goals is to bring attention to under-served areas to help raise awareness and foster competition,” says Nick Reese.

broadbandCo-Founder Nick Reese

To solve this challenge, BroadbandNow spends countless hours crunching relevant governmental data, over one billion rows of data to be exact, to help customers make an informed decision of what is available in their area. Instead of contacting 30 different providers yourself to analyze which coverage is best for your needs, BroadbandNow gives you an analysis of different plans, prices and ratings for all available providers.


BroadbandNow is also the only company that provides an API to access broadband availability data at an address level and gives access to an ever-growing amount of provided proprietary data including: More than 486,212 On-Net and Near-Net addresses; over 2,569 provider footprints; and Information on 1,200+ datacenters. The startup also creates a host of resources that have been sourced by the US House of Representatives to local state offices.

“Whether you’re looking for service at new location or you’re shopping for alternative providers at an existing location, finding which providers have network near you is key to expanding your Internet options,” Reese continues. “ With our “Calculated Near Net” results, we’ve streamlined this process to show you a rough estimate of how far away a provider’s network is from your location.”

broadbandFounders (L) Nick Reese and (R) Duane Anderson

Founders Nick Reese and Duane Anderson tend to lean away from the cameras, however they’ve long been recognized as leaders within the entrepreneurial community. Nick earlier spoke at the White House about what it takes to build a business in a tough economy, and in a prior life also co-authored a book with New York Times best selling author Chris Brogan. He’s also the CEO of Microband Media, a company that builds profitable web assets, and has mentored over 100 entrepreneurs who have built businesses with with more than $100K in revenue.


Source : This article was published in Sociable.co By CONRAD EGUSA

Categorized in Science & Tech

A version of this essay was originally published at Tech.pinions, a website dedicated to informed opinions, insight and perspective on the tech industry.

This week saw the launch of yet another streaming pay TV service, this time from Hulu, which is offering around 50 channels, including live TV and the four major broadcast networks, for $40 a month. Hulu is the fifth major company to enter this market over the last couple of years, following Sling, Sony, DirecTV and YouTube. Each offering has its strengths and weaknesses, and each makes different trade-offs in trying to achieve the mythical sweet spot for the cord-cutter. Local channels continue to be the biggest challenge, but another is trying to create bundles consumers will go for, and each company has taken a different approach.

The mythical $35 price point

I’ve noted before that these over-the-top pay TV providers seem to believe there’s a mythical price point around $35 at which cord-cutters will leap to buy their service. Each provider seems to aim at that target with at least one of its offerings, though we’ve seen those strategies evolve over time. Hulu is the only provider not to offer at least one package at or below $35, and that’s at least in part because it packages its $8 or $12 video-on-demand service into its $40 standard package.

But to hit that $35 price point, these companies have to ditch many of the channels that have driven the average traditional pay TV spend per month to around $100. Which ones to ditch? The sports channels are among the most expensive, so that seems an obvious place to start, but they’re also one of the few things keeping live TV alive and a key requirement for many cord cutters.

Only one company — Sling — has kept ESPN out of any of its base channel lineups, while all the others include at least one ESPN channel in every package, and several in the more expensive ones. YouTube solved the problem by dealing almost exclusively with the owners of the four major broadcast networks, so it includes their channels but excludes Turner, Viacom, Scripps and a number of other key channels. Given how much sports is either on regional sports networks or Turner channels (particularly basketball), they’re not offering a comprehensive lineup. Viacom has been hardest hit by these OTT packages, with only DirecTV and Sling carrying their channels and the others taking a pass.

Even though these companies, for the most part, seem to be aiming at that sweet spot of $35 or under, it’s quite possible to spend an amount monthly that’s much closer to the traditional TV package. PlayStation Vue’s top package costs $65 before add-ons, while Hulu’s offering can get up to $65 with extra features and channels. DirecTV’s base packages top out at $70 before add-ons. Consumers have to be really committed to ditching the cable company to go for these packages that offer few savings at these higher price points, especially given the holes in some of the lineups.


One of the great possibilities that should come with OTT pay TV services is flexibility. After all, people don’t just want to pay less; they also want to have more control over which channels they get and pay for, ideally moving toward an a la carte approach. And yet Hulu and YouTube TV offer minimal flexibility at this point, with a single base package with the option to add Showtime. The other three, however, offer more choices, with two to four base packages each and, in Sling’s case, a great number of add-on channel packages to suit topical interests or even channels from other countries. It has gone so far as to call what it’s offering today “a la carte TV.” Even though that’s a bit of a stretch, it’s certainly closer to realizing that ambition than any of the others. Meanwhile, the standard packages often bundle channels in a way that makes little sense to the consumer, mixing sports and news, lifestyle and movies in seemingly random ways that likely reflect deals with content owners far more than true consumer interests.


Some of these players have piled on features in the hopes these will entice customers looking for more than just a screaming deal on a smaller set of channels. DVR functionality is deemed to be a major draw. Most of the offerings have a DVR component, though it’s often a poor substitute for a real DVR, with limitations on skipping ads being the biggest bugbear. Some make up for it with VoD services, but those also often show ads, reflecting just how much power the traditional content owners still have and how much TV business models still need ads to survive.

User interfaces are another potential differentiator, with each company having its own take on how to reinvent the electronic programming guide. Some favor familiarity and a more traditional approach while others, including Hulu, focus on recommendations and a completely new (and unfamiliar) user interface. None of those I’ve tried (and I’ve tried all but PlayStation Vue) have cracked it, and several have either awful user interfaces altogether or significant issues.

Device support

Part of the promise of future TV services is the ability to watch what you want, when you want, where you want, including on the device of your choosing. With that in mind, these services certainly give you options that go far beyond a traditional set-top box, but they don’t all do equally well in supporting a wide range of devices. Interestingly, PlayStation Vue, which was very limited in its device support at first, now leads in this department, but new offerings like YouTube and Hulu are still lacking. Not all offer web interfaces, either, requiring users to either download native apps on their computers or stick to other devices.

Local channels are still the biggest issue

As I wrote several years ago, local channels were always likely to be the biggest challenge facing streaming pay TV providers because of the structure of the U.S. market and its affiliate system for TV stations. Because many local stations aren’t owned by the broadcasters, the latter have little control over getting those stations on board as part of a national rollout. As such, each of the services has made its own decision about how to roll out local channels, in some cases, offering all the major channels in theory but in practice only in limited geographic areas, while YouTube TV is only available at all in the areas where it has good local channel support, as befits its strong ties to the broadcasters. PlayStation seems to be doing better on the CBS side, leveraging the work CBS has done for its own All Access service, and it’s the only one of these services to offer any local channels (and even then only one) where I live in Utah.

A growing but frustrating set of options

What we’re left with, then, is a growing but ultimately frustrating set of options for those wanting to ditch their traditional pay TV provider and find a cheaper, more flexible, more modern alternative. Each of these services has its pros and cons, with some leading on content flexibility but lacking on the user interface, while others major in features but force users into narrow channel packages.

The table below summarizes the current situation as well as I can — one other thing I’ve found in researching these services is how hard they make it to easily see the channel lineups, pricing and features. None of them is great at this.

For now, would-be cord-cutters are often left choosing the best of a set of bad options, or even combining several of these to get what they really want. What I was most struck by with Hulu’s launch this week is how it has become my go-to for video on demand but adding live to the experience — especially missing local channels — adds far less than $30 of additional value.

What I want is a service that combines Hulu-like breadth of on-demand content with a live option for the major sports I watch and I guess I’m not alone in that. If I could combine Netflix, Hulu and an on-demand sports service that carried all the games I care about, that would serve me well but it doesn’t exist today. We can only hope that someday it will.

Jan Dawson is founder and chief analyst at Jackdaw, a technology research and consulting firm focused on the confluence of consumer devices, software, services and connectivity. During his 13 years as a technology analyst, Dawson has covered everything from DSL to LTE, and from policy and regulation to smartphones and tablets. Prior to founding Jackdaw, Dawson worked at Ovum for a number of years, most recently as chief telecoms analyst, responsible for Ovum’s telecoms research agenda globally. Reach him @jandawson.

Source: This article was published on recode.net

Categorized in Others

A digital platform economy is developing as a result of the rise of the Internet of Things. This removes the middleman and creates a more efficient economic market.


An emergence of digital platform economy is driving fundamental changes in our societies. But there is nothing new about platforms. Platform refers to a product, technology, or organization that enable direct interactions between two (or more) distinct actors. For example, most General Motors cars were already years ago built on a shared product platform. So, no matter if you bought an Opel or a Cadillac, the underlying structure of the car was actually similar. It makes sense, of course, to standardize production like this for economies of scale.


Platforms are a way to save costs, as they were for GM, but they also create flexibility and competitive advantage. Flexibility comes from the ability to customize the offering on top of the platform, as GM did for different cars in different price ranges. Microsoft Windows 95 might be the best example of competitive advantage created via platform.

A typical approach to monopolies is that they hinder innovation and development. However, this isn’t always the case. A dominant software platform such as Windows 95 allowed a sort of an ad hoc standardization that allowed smaller companies to create software that previously demanded immense resources. The dominant platform also made it possible for developers to create software only for this one platform, significantly reducing development costs. Clearly the platform position of Microsoft Windows 95 made the development of information technology faster. These assets also provided Microsoft with a long-lasting competitive advantage in the market.


Another great example of platform utilization is Apple App Store. Apple earns much more from its App Store than Google does from Google Play, even though Google has many times more downloads. Apple also gave developers much higher returns.


Internet of things (IoT), the next step in digitalization, is colliding digital and physical worlds. IoT will become part for our everyday life especially through platforms. There is a natural link between digitalization and platforms.

Uber, Lyft, AirBnB, and others have demonstrated that improving sensors and digital tools in physical environment makes it possible to scale up products and services almost like they are digital. These companies have emerged really fast, but are already as big as or bigger than the old players in their markets. They are often related to eating, living, and transportation, where the big money is and where people also really realize that things change. This is why there is so much talk about platforms and platform economy right now.


To be more precise about why platforms have a natural link to digitalisation, the following must be emphasized: standardization helps also in production of physical goods such as the GM cars where the old chassis of the vehicle could be, if desired, used in a new car. But when data, algorithms and apps are reused, it does not require deconstruction of the original goods. The optimal use of information, including data, databases, information, metadata, algorithms, codecs, learning algorithms, apps, programs, and scripts is much more efficient when the platform is digital, even though the product or service is physical.

Why IoT leads to the platform economy? [NT Kelsey]

So, when digitalization moves onward, service providers see it first in contexts that are easy to digitalize with the highest profits. Obviously, these contexts are houses and cars. Nevertheless, because recycling information is free, it makes sense to digitalize in smaller and smaller contexts. The more there are digital networks, the more it is economically reasonable to digitalize things. This means next we can see digitalization of clothes, household items, tools, and so on until everything is digitalized.


Digitalizing of all the things happens through combinatorial innovations, which means combining or recombining different component parts to create new inventions. This needs huge number of data points and thus they will become relevant for digitalization only after a long time. After that, there might be immense benefits from combinations. For example, combining mobility data with eating data would enable very detailed health profiling.

When everything becomes digitalized, the role of platforms and platform standards becomes more and more significant. Within platforms we are able to control interfaces, APIs (application programming interface, which enable communication between different programs), programs, information, and sensors of digital services. This is due to the fact that there are no other mechanisms that allow for 1) cost savings, 2) protection of business models, 3) third party innovations, or 4) aggressive scaling.


Then, platforms remove friction between people, creating more efficient markets, especially by decreasing the transaction costs. For example, Uber has decreased the transaction costs of finding someone willing to offer a low-cost ride below the opportunity cost of standing on a street corner trying to hail a cab. They also reduce investment costs, as in the case of Apple promising “no advertising fees” for companies that want to advertise in the App Store.

But these platforms also reduce the freedom of choice both from the buyer and the seller. The seller gets an advantage by not having to configurate offerings from the start. On the other hand s/he can only build the offering inside the service standardization of the platform. For example, Uber drivers can give you free snacks, but cannot drive you to random locations for fun. Apple’s App Store is known to be really strict on what is allowed and what is not. For example, application developers find it problematic that the App Store gives some apps and publishers, such as Apple, an advantage in the marketplace.

As digitalization becomes a more and more integral part of the physical world, the role of platforms becomes more important. As an increasing number of our interactions happen in digital platforms, it is important to develop the ways people can influence platforms and their rules. That’s why platform governance is one of the biggest societal questions of our era.

Source: This article was published on futurism.com 

Categorized in Science & Tech

Researchers in Singapore have developed a way to teleport a drink over the internet — sort of.

Categorized in Online Research

Time to face the facts. We haven’t yet reached the point where universal internet access is always available, no matter where we go. That can be frustrating, especially for busy Chromebook users who have projects to tackle, assignments to turn in, tasks to complete, and teams to work with.

Fortunately, just because your internet connection drops doesn’t mean you have to sit back and give up. Google has implemented several ways to use Chrome OS features offline, whether you need to read emails, work on documents, or carry out another task. Here’s how to do it!



The bad news is that there’s no permanent offline email solution for Gmail — at least, not yet. The good news is that Google is working on one, and, in the meantime, you can try out the beta. The problem with betas, of course, is that they tend to have flaws or bugs that still need to be fixed, so this option may not work perfectly for you. However, if you are stuck without email and desperately need to check for any previous updates, it may be more than enough.

Add to ChromeStart by enabling the feature. By far the easiest way is to use the Gmail Offline option available in the Chrome Web Store. This provides you with an option to “Add to Chrome” or “Visit Website.” Choose Add to Chrome to download the app, and restart Chrome.


If your Chrome browser isn’t currently open, open it and create a new tab. Look for the new Gmail Offline icon next to the taskbar and click it. This will load the offline syncing option, though you may have to go through a brief confirmation window first.Add Gmail Offline

It’s important to know what this app does. It will automatically sync all your messages and queued actions whenever Chrome is running and your internet connection is good. This allows you to see any of the latest emails or responses that you may have missed while your computer was online. It cannot magically send or receive emails that were created after you went offline unless you connect again. Not even Google is that good.


Google Docs I

For working on offline documents, we turn to Google Drive. Perhaps realizing just how many Chromebooks are used for schoolwork and on-the-go jobs, Google has worked to make all Drive documents accessible even when you aren’t connected to the internet… as long as you have the right setup.Settings Snapshot

First, make sure that Google Drive is fully updated — this isn’t usually a problem on Chromebooks, but double checking never hurts. You need a recent version of Drive to access offline features. Then, head over to your Chrome browser, log into Drive, and visit Settings, which is the first option housed beneath the gear icon in the upper-right corner of the window. Once there, look for the heading that says Offline next to a description that says, Sync Google Docs, Sheets, Slides & Drawings files to this computer so that you can edit offline. That’s pretty self-explanatory!


Make sure the box next to the Offline description is checked. Keep in mind that this solution has its limitations, however, especially when it comes to collaboration. Drive will save a state of the Drive document from the last time you connected to the internet, but it can’t do more than that. Say that your team is all working online at the office with a Google Doc, and you’re working offline in your car. Your team will be able to see and interact with each other’s changes in real time, but you will be working on your own version of the document. This can cause some issues when syncing up changes, so it’s a good idea to use this primarily for your solo work. Also, know that there are a few things that won’t work offline, including the online collection of Drive images, Google Forms, and web-based PDFs.

Web pages


As long as you have a little time to prepare, you can also use Chrome OS to view webpages offline. There are a couple different options here, but we prefer the ease of use and features that come with downloading the Pocket extension. Pocket is a simple Chrome program that allows you to save articles, videos, and other types of content for later viewing, even when you are offline.

This is nice for long road trips when you want a bit of entertainment, but it can also prove valuable when working on work or school projects where you need access to information but an internet connection isn’t available in your work spot. Remember, however, that Chromebooks are light when it comes to storage and RAM, so trying to store too much content may lead to sluggish performance or crashes.


Calendar Offline

Google has extended its offline abilities to Google Calendar as well, which means that you can take a look at all your meetings, appointments, and reminders kept in Calendar whenever you want — even without internet service. It’s very easy to set up, too. As with Drive, open Calendar, click the gear icon in the top-right corner, and select Settings. At the top of the page, select the Offline option. If you have more than one Calendar, you can choose which you want to access offline.


There are some caveats, however. The version of your Calendar that you can view offline is read-only, meaning you won’t be able to make any changes to it. It also cannot sync with your other devices and import changes made elsewhere until you’re connected to the internet again. So make sure your calendar is set for the day before you go offline!


Google Keep

If you want to use your note application offline, you probably can — and this isn’t limited to just a single app. Evernote, for example, allows you to choose Offline Notebooks and select certain notebooks for offline viewing. Google Keep offers a similar feature, one that will save offline notes and automatically upload them later.


What else can you do offline?

Quite a lot, actually! Google allows third-party developers to offer offline features for their apps and extensions as well, and many have utilized the feature. There are at least a couple hundred apps in the Chrome Web Store that work offline. These include games like Angry Birds, productivity apps, publications like the New York Times, and apps that span nearly every other category you can think of. If you didn’t find your solution in our guide, peruse the Chrome Web Store for any apps you might want.

This article was published in digitaltrends by Tyler Lacoma

Categorized in Science & Tech

Watch out, Hollywood has found the "Deep" and "Dark Web." In Netflix's "House of Cards," a reporter uses it to hire a hacker to learn more about Vice President Frank Underwood's past. "CSI: Cyber" says that their team works on the edges of the darknet, the anonymous side of the Internet. "Deep Web" is new documentary about Ross Ulbricht, the convicted creator and operator of Silk Road, an online black market known best for selling illegal drugs.

There is the Internet that you and I use. Then, there is the other Internet that we don't.

The "Surface Web" is Google, Facebook, Amazon, Komando.com, eBay, and everything else a search site typically shows. Depending on the survey, Google only catalogs and searches anywhere from 4 percent to 16 percent of the Surface Web.


Below the Surface Web is the Deep Web. There, you'll find abandoned websites, paywalled sites, research firm databases, government databases and other things that aren't meant to be public. In the Deep Web, there is a place called the Dark Web.

The Dark Web is where the Internet's illicit activities reside. If you want to buy illegal drugs, guns, counterfeit money, stolen items, fake degrees or passports, cloned debit cards, hacking tools, weapons and more, you can. Dark Web sites also let you hire a hit man or escort, buy someone's identity or swap child pornography.

Finding sites on the Dark Web isn't easy and I am not going to give you the steps how to do it. Suffice to say, you need to visit the right online directory or hidden search site first to even find it. However, that doesn't mean Dark Web sites aren't popular or get mainstream attention.

Let me tell more about Silk Road. 

The FBI took the site down in 2013, but its name and legend still live on. When the FBI raided the home of Silk Road's creator, Ross Ulbricht, it seized $28.5 million in untraceable digital currency that was sitting on Ulbricht's computer. That was just Ulbricht's cut of the Silk Road transactions. Black market sites are doing hundreds of millions, potentially billions, of dollars in illicit business.

Even with Silk Road gone, there are still numerous sites selling illegal goods, services and the unconscionable. However, the Dark Web might not be dark for much longer.

DARPA, the research arm of the Defense Department that also works on projects like flying aircraft carriers, is making key parts of its Memex search system available as open-source software. That means anyone can download and adapt Memex in new ways.

Unlike other popular search systems, Memex can search the Dark Web, and it's already being used to hunt down human traffickers. Other research organizations, including NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, and Stanford University are working on their own software built on Memex technology.

Some of these programs are going to help law enforcement track down criminals, while others could give Google a run for its money. Stanford's DeepDive figures out connections between groups of data. So you can search for a person and an organization and the system will figure out how they're related. Carnegie Mellon's TJBatchExtractor creates personal and company profiles from advertisements, which is useful for tracking down criminals offering illegal activities on Dark Web forums.


A company named Diffeo has a system that learns what kind of answers you're looking for so it can exclude irrelevant information. Hyperion Gray is working on a Web crawler that doesn't rely on links for connecting websites. It can find similar information on sites that are completely unrelated.

Most of these applications are geared toward law enforcement, researchers and scholars, but so was the original Internet. You never know what new super-powered search system is going to come out of it that changes the way we find information.

In the meantime, you're going to be hearing more about the Dark Web from both Hollywood and in the news. In fact, you might even have your kids or grandkids asking about it. Click here to find out what I said to my son about the Dark Web when he asked, and what you need your kids to know. After you're done watching that video, be sure to check out more exclusive clips from my weekly national talk radio show.


On the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com. Kim also posts breaking tech news 24/7 at News.Komando.com.

This article was published in foxnews.com

Categorized in Deep Web

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