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Instagram Still Gaining Users, Surpassed Twitter

December 12, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Photo-sharing site Instagram is reporting  that its active monthly user base reached 300 million, a dramatic 50% increase in the past nine months.

Instagram, which launched in 2010, edged past 8-year-old Twitter and its reported 284 million monthly active users.

Facebook, which bought Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion, has nothing to worry about. In September, the social network reported that its own active monthly user base had hit 1.35 billion.

“Over the past four years, what began as two friends with a dream has grown into a global community that shares more than 70 million photos and videos each day,” wrote Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom in a blog post. “We’re thrilled to watch this community thrive and witness the amazing connections people make over shared passions and journeys.”

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said Instagram’s impressive growth stems from its popularity with millennials, who have a strong connection with social networking, selfies and images.

“The younger generation, in particular, is a very visually oriented group that loves selfies,” Kerravala said. “Pictures just say more — they’re fast and easy. Instead of saying, ‘What a great view of the Grand Canyon,’ snap a photo and upload it.”

He noted that Twitter users can upload photos and short videos to the micro-blogging site, but the site is mainly used for its 140-character or less messages.

“I think Twitter is more for information dissemination, where Instagram is more about sharing content,” Kerravala said.

 

 

Startup Trustev Thinks It Has A Solution For Internet Commenters

December 10, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Internet startup Trustev is expanding its digital fingerprinting business beyond e-commerce by launching Trustev for Publishers aiming to help publishers ban toxic Internet commenters completely from their websites, providing no leeway for even setting up a second account. Trustev thinks this can raise the level of online discourse and help stop harassment campaigns the likes of #GamerGate before they even begin.

Trustev CEO Pat Phelan said this solution came about after his own experiences on Twitter: He describes his online persona as “pretty outspoken,” but still finds himself in a perpetual state of shock at the vitriol he sometimes gets about even mundane things.

“Jesus, the language used there is incredible,” Phelan said.

There’s a cycle to online harassment. You block the offender. The offender sets up a second Twitter/Wordpress/Yahoo/whatever account. You block that one, too. So they set up a third. And so on. Phelan calls it “whack-a-mole.”

The best case scenario is that the harasser on the other end gives up before you do. The worst case is that your choices become put up with abuse forever or just stop trying.  That doesn’t really make for healthy online discussion, especially when it comes to controversial subjects.

“The whole story is destroyed,” Phelan said.

There are good comments sections out there, to be sure:the AV Club, among others, stands out, largely because of the strong hand it takes to moderating a discussion and kicking out bad seeds as they sprout. But keeping up with the aforementioned cycle  takes a tremendous investment of time and talent, which isn’t for everybody. Our colleagues at Re/code, for instance, recently made thecontroversial decision to shut down comments entirelyand urged readers to take any discussion to social media.

Trustev sees a better way. With Trustev for Publishers, blocking a person once means they’re gone. That “digital fingerprint” takes everything into account when banning a user — not just the IP address, which is easy to spoof, but everything from browser configuration and extensions down to operating system version and amount of RAM installed.

Phelan said that digital fingerprinting has a 99.93% positive rate (which sucks for the other 0.07%).

You can’t even get around a Trustev ban with a virtual machine running on your desktop. The only way to beat it, Phelan says, is to get a new computer entirely. And if you mess up again, it’s back to the blacklist.

 

 

Twitter Announces New Tools For Reporting Online Harassment

December 4, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter unveiled improvements to simplify the way users report abuse and harassment on the social media platform.

The company said it will now require less information from users flagging inappropriate content and that it will be easier to submit tweets and accounts for review, even when wrongful behavior is simply observed and not received directly.

“We are nowhere near being done making changes in this area,” Shreyas Doshi, director of product management and user safety said in a message posted on Twitter’s website.

“In the coming months, you can expect to see additional user controls, further improvements to reporting and new enforcement procedures for abusive accounts.”

Users also will be able to view all the accounts they have blocked in a new blocked accounts page accessible from the settings menu on Twitter.

The changes, which will be rolled out to all users in the next few weeks, include modifications designed to speed up Twitter’s response by better streamlining and prioritizing reports of abusive content, technology news website The Verge reported.

A way to block multiple accounts at once also appears to be in the works, according to The Verge.

Twitter has faced criticism in the past over a response to harassment and abuse deemed too lax by many of its users.

In December last year, the company was forced to nix a change to its “block” feature under criticism that the new policy still allowed blocked users to interact with those who had blocked them.

Earlier this year, a survey by online advocacy groups found that nearly half of Americans under the age of 35 have been bullied, harassed or threatened online.

Twenty-four percent of the people surveyed said the harassment happened on Twitter.

 

Sony Hires FireEye To Assist With Data Breach

December 2, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Sony Pictures Entertainment has hired FireEye’s Mandiant forensics unit to clean up a cyber attack that knocked out the studio’s computer network nearly a week ago, and resulted in three movies ending up online.

The FBI is also investigating the incident. Sony went down last Monday after displaying a red skull and the phrase “Hacked By #GOP,” which reportedly stands for Guardians of Peace. Emails to Sony have been bouncing back with messages asking senders to call employees because the system was “experiencing a disruption.”

Mandiant is an incident response firm that helps victims of breaches identify the extent of attacks, clean up networks and restore systems. The firm has handled some of the largest breaches uncovered to date, including the 2013 holiday attack on Target. Sony is investigating to determine whether hackers working on behalf of North Korea have launched the attack in retribution for the studio’s backing of the film “The Interview” which is to be released on Dec. 25 in the United States and Canada.

The movie is a comedy about a CIA attempt to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who is such a funny guy. The Pyongyang government denounced the film as “undisguised sponsoring of terrorism, as well as an act of war” in a letter to UN. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Twitter To Track User’s Mobile Apps

December 1, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Twitter Inc has plans to start tracking what third-party apps are installed on users’ mobile devices so the social media company can deliver more tailored content, including ads, the company has revealed.

The feature, called “app graph,” will allow the company to see what other applications users may have installed on phones or other devices.

“To help build a more personal Twitter experience for you, we are collecting and occasionally updating the list of apps installed on your mobile device so we can deliver tailored content that you might be interested in,” the company said on its site.

The posting also included instructions on how to turn the feature off. Twitter is not collecting data from within the applications, the posting noted.

Twitter, whose main service allows users to broadcast 140-character messages, has been searching for ways to re-invigorate user engagement and drive growth. As part of that effort, the company is considering creating additional mobile applications beyond its core messaging service.

 

 

 

Was Sony’s Playstation Network Hacked Again?

November 25, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Sony has denied the claims of DerpTrolling, a hacker group which claimed it had raided the databases of the PSN, along with a number of other online services.

The group had published a list of emails and passwords for PSN, Windows Live Mail and 2K Games accounts online, and claimed to be prepared to release more, but Sony says that they’ve come from other sources than hacking.

“We have investigated the claims that our network was breached and have found no evidence that there was any intrusion into our network,” the company wrote in a declaration to Joystiq. “Unfortunately, Internet fraud including phishing and password matching are realities that consumers and online networks face on a regular basis. We take these reports very seriously and will continue to monitor our network closely.”

 

 

Courtesy-GI.biz

Snapchat To Offer Mobile Payments Service

November 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Mobile messaging company Snapchat is rolling out a new service that wil allow users to send money to each other, in a partnership with online payments company Square.

The service, dubbed Snapcash, allows Snapchat users to link their debit cards to their account and quickly send money to a contact by starting a chat on a smartphone, typing in a dollar sign and an amount and hitting a green button, Snapchat explained in a post on its official blog.

The move marks the latest sign of expansion plans for Los Angeles-based Snapchat, which lets users exchange photos that automatically disappear after a few seconds. The company has been valued at $10 billion in its most recent fundraising effort, according to media reports, and is considered a growing threat to Web companies including Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc.

“We set out to make payments faster and more fun, but we also know that security is essential when you’re dealing with money,” Snapchat said in the post.

The company said that debit card information will be stored by Square and that Square will process the payments, transferring money between bank accounts. Snapchat said that Snapcash is available in the United States for users aged 18 and above.

 

 

Has Google Glass Reached The End Of The Line?

November 18, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

After two years of showing up at high-profile events wearing Google Glass, the gadget that transforms eyeglasses into spy-movie worthy technology, Google co-founder Sergey Brin arrived recently to a Silicon Valley event noticeably bare-faced. He’d left his pair in the car, Brin told a reporter. The Googler, who heads up the top-secret lab which developed Glass, has hardly given up on the product — he recently wore his pair to the beach.

But Brin’s timing is not propitious, coming as many developers and early Glass users are losing interest in the much-hyped, $1,500 test version of the product: a camera, processor and stamp-sized computer screen mounted to the edge of eyeglass frames. Google Inc itself has pushed back the Glass roll out to the mass market.

While Glass may find some specialized, even lucrative, uses in the workplace, its prospects of becoming a consumer hit in the near future are slim, many developers say.

Of 16 Glass app makers contacted by Reuters, nine said that they had stopped work on their projects or abandoned them, mostly because of the lack of customers or limitations of the device. Three more have switched to developing for business, leaving behind consumer projects.

Plenty of larger developers remain with Glass. The nearly 100 apps on the official web site include Facebook and OpenTable, although one major player recently defected: Twitter.

“If there was 200 million Google Glasses sold, it would be a different perspective. There’s no market at this point,” said Tom Frencel, the Chief Executive of Little Guy Games, which put development of a Glass game on hold this year and is looking at other platforms, including the Facebook Inc-owned virtual-reality goggles Oculus Rift.

Several key Google employees instrumental to developing Glass have left the company in the last six months, including lead developer Babak Parviz, electrical engineering chief Adrian Wong, and Ossama Alami, director of developer relations.

 

 

 

Twitter Exploring Creation Of Additional Mobile Apps To Drive Growth

November 14, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc is exploring the creation of additional mobile applications beyond its core messaging service and ways of making it easier for newbies to use its service, as it competes with Facebook Inc and other social media for smartphone users.

Chief Executive Dick Costolo said Twitter also planned to speed up the pace of changes to its product and to add more functions to its private messaging service.

“I strongly believe private messaging virality is important to our long term growth,” Costolo said, a reference to when online content goes viral or is popularly shared. He noted that some of the new private messaging features would be introduced in the current quarter.

Executives said the company needed to do a better job helping new users understand how to use the service. An upcoming “instant timeline” will quickly provide new users with content without requiring them to search Twitter for individual users to follow.

Twitter, whose main service allows users to broadcast 140-character messages, appeared to be taking a page from rival Facebook, which in recent years has taken the approach of creating individual apps centered on news, for instance, and also recently beefed up its private messaging.

Twitter has been searching for ways to arrest dwindling user engagement and drive growth. It currently counts 284 million users, compared with Facebook’s 1.3 billion.

In October, Twitter reported that timeline views per user, a key measure of engagement, slid 7 percent globally in the third quarter.

 

 

 

Is Another Tony Hawk Video Game Coming In 2015?

November 12, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Sources are telling us that we should expect new skateboarding titles from both Electronic Arts and Activision in 2015. Word is that Activision is preparing a new Tony Hawk title and Electronic Arts will be bring out a new Skate title as well.

While Activision and Electronic Arts have not made the announcements yet, our sources tell us that we should expect both titles to be announced in the near future for a likely late 2015 release. It is unknown who might be handling the development on both titles, but word is that both titles are already deep in development.

With the release of a new Tony Hawk and Skate titles, it will revive the Skateboarding segment that has been dormant for quite some time. EA has not produced a new title in the Skate franchise since Skate 3 and the late couple of Tony Hawk titles didn’t do so well, but the re-issue of original Pro Skater for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 with DLC made up of levels from 2 & 3 have shown that interest does still exist for this segment.

Our hope is that it will be less like what we saw with the SSX revival that EA tried and then realized that it was not really want the people wanted and more like a new next-generation skateboarding title that puts the fun back into skating. We will have to wait and see.

Courtesy-Fud

Will Google’s Smartglasses Be A Hit?

November 7, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

A new report by Juniper Research found that shipments and adoption of smart glasses were slower than expected due to fewer ending up in the market.

The report, Smart Glasses: Consumer, Enterprise and Healthcare Strategies and Forecasts 2014-2019, estimated that shipments were unlikely to exceed 10 million per annum until 2018.

Juniper Research expects sales to be buoyed slightly by fresh releases by several key players in 2015-2016, including Samsung, Recon Instruments and the Microsoft-owned Osterhout Design Group.

The report thinks that greater utility within the enterprise and healthcare segments is likely to spur development until the devices catch on outside these markets.

Smart glasses continue to raise privacy and safety concerns from many consumers and government bodies. It argued that these need to be addressed or assuaged before the devices become accepted, although prices and their status as supplementary devices mean that smart glasses will remain niche for the medium-term.

According to the report, smart glasses development is at a comparable stage to smartphones in the early 2000s, primarily focused on the enterprise sector. As workplaces are likely to share devices between users, rather than purchase devices in bulk for all their employees, this will result in high investment but low shipment volumes to the enterprise for the next five years.

Courtesy-Fud

IBM, Twitter Teaming Up On Data Analytics

October 30, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

International Business Machines Corp (IBM) on Wednesday announced a collaboration with Twitter to aid in business decisions using data collected from tweets worldwide.

IBM will help businesses predict trends in the marketplace and consumer sentiment about products and brands and will train 10,000 employees to consult businesses on the best use of Twitter data.

IBM chief executive Ginni Rometty has been trying to shift the 100-year-old company’s focus away from commoditized hardware to higher-value cloud and data analytics products.

In July, IBM announced a partnership with Apple Inc to offer iPads and iPhones loaded with applications geared toward enterprise clients.

“Here we are seeing an alignment of old tech and new tech companies. It is the second such deal that IBM has announced in the last couple months. They realize they don’t have all the answers and a lot of other companies have asset offerings that can be matched well,” said Scott Kessler, analyst at S&P Capital IQ in New York.

In April, Twitter acquired social data provider Gnip to burrow into the 500 million tweets sent daily on its network.

Enterprise clients will now be able to filter the data based on geography, public biographical information and the emotion expressed in the tweet.

The company previously allowed third-party companies such as Gnip, Datasift and Dataminr to buy access to tweets and re-sell that data to corporate clients.

 

Is Microsoft Games Studio Developing A New IP?

October 28, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

In an interview that Xbox head Phil Spencer gave to IGN, he says that a new IP is in development at one of Microsoft’s development studios. It apparently isn’t a new racing or military space marine title.

Spencer says that the Xbox brand needs “new stories and new characters” which provide a “canvas to try new things.” He went on to add that “Sunset Overdrive is a great example of a game that isn’t like anything else in our portfolio, and he thinks that is great. I want to continue to invest in things which push the boundaries.”

Spencer believes that it has to be a commitment from the first-party publisher to try things that are new and unique. While he would not offer a clue as to which studio might be working on this new IP or what the new IP might be, he does seem to imply that there is at least more than one internal/external studio that is working on unannounced games for Microsoft studios.

In the interview he again says that he wants RARE to be more than the Kinect Sports developer and he is in fact heading out to see them soon to look at a new pitch from the studio.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Twitter Launches Fabric SDK

October 24, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Twitter has introduced Fabric, a modular mobile platform that the firm claims will make it easier for developers to build great apps.

Twitter is looking to embrace the developer community after having alienated it in 2012 when it tightened API rules governing third-party app developers.

The company said during its first developer conference that Fabric is a ‘modular mobile platform’, or developer toolkit, which brings together tools and services from a mixture of outfits already under the Twitter wing.

This will make it easier to build, integrate and monetise applications, according to the firm.

“Fabric was built with ease of use in mind. Installation takes just minutes, and most features only require a few lines of code – so you spend less time managing SDKs and more time building the best experience for your users,” Twitter said.

“It combines the services of Crashlytics, MoPub, Twitter and others to help you build more stable apps, generate revenue through the world’s largest mobile ad exchange, and tap into Twitter’s sign-in systems and rich streams of real-time content for greater distribution and simpler identity.”

The Introducing Fabric blog post leans heavily on the system’s ease of use, claiming that the modular kits can be installed and set up in minutes.

Developers can choose from a range of modular kits depending on how they want to use them. They do not need to have an obvious benefit to Twitter, it seems, and the MoPub kit offers tools for ad placement in apps.

The Crashlytics Kit is designed to help developers strip bugs out of applications and limit the number of times they crash. It should also help improve usability.

“In just the past 30 days, Crashlytics identified over 5.5 billion crashes. And beyond just identifying them, Crashlytics is able to isolate the root cause down to the exact line of code, reducing the time it takes for you to fix the bug and submit an update,” said Twitter.

“The Fabric Crashlytics Kit – Crashlytics, Beta and Answers – helps you ship high-quality, stable apps and gives you a 360-degree, always-on picture of the health of your app.”

The move is a real change for Twitter which traditionally had a hands-off relationship with third parties and would cut off their access to its APIs.

When Twitpic closed down in September the firm blamed Twitter for its demise.

“Twitter contacted our legal [department] demanding that we abandon our trademark application or risk losing access to their API,” said Twitpic founder Noah Everett at the time.

“This came as a shock to us since Twitpic has been around since early 2008, and our trademark application has been in the USPTO since 2009.

“Unfortunately we do not have the resources to fend off a large company like Twitter to maintain our mark which we believe whole heartedly is rightfully ours. Therefore, we have decided to shut down Twitpic.”

Courtesy-TheInq

Twitter To Allow Users To Stream Music

October 21, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc  will allow users to play podcasts, music and other audio clips direct from their timelines, or message feeds, by using a  new feature designed in partnership with Berlin-based audio-streaming service SoundCloud.

The online messaging service introduced what it dubbed “Audio Card,” through which users can listen to a variety of content whilst browsing their timelines.

For starters, Twitter has promised audio from SoundCloud’s partners, which include such diverse sources as NASA, the Washington Post, CNN, David Guetta, Coldplay and Warner Music.

But it’s trying to snag more content partners in future, Twitter said in a recent blog posting.

Twitter didn’t say how Audio Card might evolve, except to stress that it offers musicians a chance to post exclusive clips.

“Many more musical artists and creators will be able to share exclusive, in-the-moment audio to millions of listeners on Twitter,” the company added.

Twitter’s new feature comes after rivals from Apple Inc to Google Inc have jumped into the business of music-streaming, considered the fastest-growing segment of a music market dominated by iTunes.

Twitter had reportedly been in discussions to acquire audio-sharing website SoundCloud, which has been called the Youtube of music, as far back as June.