Netflix has unveiled a free tool for measuring Internet speed — no subscription needed.All you have to do is go to Fast.com, and the tool will measure your Internet speed at that particular moment, whether you re on mobile or broadband.We all want a faster, better Internet, yet Internet speeds vary greatly and can be affected by other users on your network or congestion with your Internet service provider, David Fullagar, Netflix s vice president of content delivery architecture, wrote in the post.When you re experiencing streaming issues, fast.com allows you to check the download speeds you re getting from your Internet service provider.Fast.com works like similar tools out there, and Netflix s site even provides a link so you can compare its results with speedtest.net.But Netflix points out that its tool has no ads.This rollout comes a couple of weeks after the company launched a way for its subscribers to control their data use when they watch Netflix.That move came in response to complaints over Netflix throttling video streams to mobile users.In addition, Netflix has an ISP Speed Index that measures average monthly speeds of actual Netflix streams during prime time hours.
Chinese and US producers are making an $80 million £55.5m live-action sci-fi thriller based on popular 1980s building block computer game Tetris.The movie, which will begin shooting next year, is the first project from the newly-formed Threshold Global Studios, a joint venture between Chinese entertainment investor Bruno Wu s Seven Star Works and producer Larry Kasanoff s California-based Threshold Entertainment Group.The pair said the joint venture will make cross-cultural movies for the global market and Kasanoff added that the 32-year-old video game is a perfect first project for this strategy .The movie, whose name was not mentioned in the release, follows in the mould of such computer game-inspired film productions as Resident Evil, Tomb Raider and Mortal Kombat.View photosMore Mark Lennihan/AP/PA The announcement said financing for the co-production was complete and there were plans to film the movie in China, featuring Chinese actors.Kasanoff has previously produced two Mortal Kombat movies and Wu is founder and CEO of Sun Seven Stars Media Group, a private media and entertainment investment company in China.
One might think that Jaron Lanier would be elated right now.More than 30 years after his pioneering work in virtual reality, VR finally appears to be on the verge of becoming a mass market phenomenon.In particular he s concerned about how virtual reality technology will put even more power in the hands of a very small number of already powerful companies.And whenever one side of a relationship has far more information than the other side, there s the potential for abuse, he said.Each of the major VR systems is relying on or developing some kind of pointing device or game controller to allow users to manipulate things in their world.Those types of interfaces may be appropriate for some games and simulations, but they run the risk of limiting what people will be able to experience in VR, Lanier warned.Users might want to be able to sculpt virtual clay and feel its texture as they squish it.A simple button-based controller can t really offer those experiences, but that s what virtual reality should strive for, he said.VPL Research, which was one of the first VR companies and was founded by Lanier in the 1980s, developed a glove filled with sensors that could track movements and could be used to navigate virtual worlds.While it s still early days in VR, the danger is that design choices or moves to standardize the technology today will limit the technology for years to come, both in how people experience it and in how designers envision how it will work.
Late Monday, Ted Sarandos, Netflix s chief content officer, touted some of what the online video-streaming giant has in store for the upcoming summer months.In a blog post, Sarandos suggested the company is doubling down on some of its big-name releases, with the first three of the original Jurassic Park movies coming to Netflix on June 1.For those looking for a hit of 80s-era nostalgia, Back to the Future and Lethal Weapon will arrive on Netflix in July, too.Sarandos also highlighted some new original movies and shows from Netflix that will make their debut in the summer months, including the movies The Fundamentals of Caring and Tallulah, which arrive in July, and the animated film The Little Prince, which comes online in August.All of this leads up to one of the biggest gets in Netflix s history: The previously announced Disney deal.Beginning in September, Netflix will be the exclusive U.S. pay TV site for the movies of Disney, Pixar, Lucasfilm and Marvel.Theoretically, because Sarandos didn t give much in the way of details about what Disney-related titles will hit the Netflix servers in September.The deal with Disney is pretty wide-ranging, but Netflix appears to be playing it close to the vest on the debut dates for any films that are part of the arrangement with Disney.In other words: Don t hold your breath for Star Wars, but do keep your fingers crossed.And if you can t wait until June for Netflix s summer slate to arrive, there is some good news.The second season of the Netflix drama Bloodline, starring Kyle Chandler aka Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights , premieres on Friday.There is some, well, bad news, too, depending on your perspective.Sarandos said we all will be able to, ahem, enjoy The Do Over, the newest movie under Netflix s deal with Adam Sandler, beginning this Friday, too.Photo: Netflix Apple TV app.
Apple considered buying media and entertainment company Time Warner Group as part of its move into producing its own content.Eddy Cue, who oversees the iTunes store, Apple Music and iCloud discussed the idea while meeting Olaf Olafsson, the head of corporate strategy at Time Warner, according to sources reported in the Financial Times.The revelation follows news that Apple would develop its own television show that emerged earlier this year.According to the Wall Street Journal, it will be loosely based on the life story of Dr. Dre, who grew up in the Los Angeles suburb Compton before catapulting to success as the producer of the rap group N.W.A.Spotify recently added a "Shows" tab to its long-existing music streaming service, offering content from outlets including the BBC."Apple's cash flow would also allow it to easily purchase the rights to major sporting events or other hot content areas," he said.
Such a new ecosystem would be necessary to develop the sector, the 5G is not interested in our leading operators. Latva-aho believes that the internal-5G networks will revolutionize the whole operator business. It is the first EU-funded pilot study 5G, which is a nice number of research institutions. These attach to the wall or ceiling 5G-small base stations are installed in department stores and shopping centers an average of two per floor, says head of the research team Jyrki Huusko VTT. Latva-aho Oulu, Finland, for example, the white owner of the property, belonging to the Cooperative Society Arina S-group could act as a micro-operator, who rakennuttaisi network and manage it. New opportunities to offer media and entertainment services in addition to various digital infrastructure-such as factories of the future, hospitals, energy distribution and intelligent transport.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is putting the social network s live video tool to the test in space.On Wednesday, the 32-year-old tech mogul will be live video chatting with three astronauts who are living and working aboard the International Space Station, asking them questions submitted by users on the social media site.The 20-minute call using Facebook Live is scheduled at 9:55 a.m. PT on Wednesday and can be viewed on NASA s Facebook page.Zuckerberg will be chatting with NASA astronauts Tim Kopra and Jeff Williams and Tim Peake from the European Space Agency.The International Space Station, which serves as a laboratory for microgravity research, is the largest artificial body in orbit and can often be seen from the Earth with the naked eye.People from throughout the world have already started posting questions online and as of Tuesday morning there were more than 131 posts in the event s page.More than 3,900 people are interesting in attending the event.So far, questions submitted include What happens if you sneeze in a helmet in space?, How is fuel supplied to the space station to orbit around the earth?and What is the protocol should someone on the station become sick or develop a contagious illness?Competing with Twitter s Periscope, Facebook expanded its live video tool to all users in April.Photo Credit: The International Space Station photographed from the space shuttle Atlantis NASA Tags: facebook, live video, nasa
Perhaps Amazon.com Chief Executive Jeff Bezos should add the title of Champion of the Media to his business card?That s because late Tuesday, Bezos threw down on the side of Gawker Media and the ongoing drama that company is going through in the wake of a $140 million judgment handed down against it in a lawsuit brought by pro wrestler Hulk Hogan, and financed by billionaire Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel.By now, you probably know the nuts and bolts of what s going on in the Thiel vs. Gawker saga, but to recap things: Thiel came forward last week to say he has been paying the bills for Hogan s legal case, and has been doing so as part of what may be called a revenge campaign against Gawker, and its founder, Nick Denton, after Gawker s former Silicon Valley blog, Valleywag, outed Gawker as gay in a 2007 article.On Tuesday, Bezos appeared at the Recode Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes and the owner of the Washington Post newspaper didn t hold back when asked what he thought about Thiel s bankrolling of the Hogan case, and others that are aimed at potentially destroying Gawker.What s that saying?The best defense against speech that you don t like about yourself as a public figure is to develop a thick skin, Bezos said in an interview with Recode co-founder Walt Mossberg.Things at the conference stand to remain interesting this week.Recode has said that it reached out to Thiel about appearing at the conference, but hasn t heard back from the co-founder of PayPal yet.Thiel might just have too much on his plate right now to call the Recode folks back.After all, he could be busy shopping around for the perfect batch of skin thickener, or adding Bezos name to his enemies list.Photo: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos walks onstage for the launch of the new Amazon Fire Phone on June 16, 2014, in Seattle.Ted S. Warren/AP Tags: amazon, gawker, Gawker Media, Hulk Hogan, Jeff Bezos, Nick Denton, Peter Thiel, Re/Code, washington post
Among the services affected by the outage were reportedly the iOS, Apple TV and Mac app stores; iCloud Photos; and iCloud backup.Apple reportedly offered no explanation for the outage.While the downtime appeared to be a short-term problem, the company is also dealing with a longer-term thorn, its Maps app.But it still lacks features compared to other navigation apps and devices and its reputation remains tarnished in users minds by its initial rollout.Potentially to help with its Maps effort, Apple has hired Sinisa Durekovic, who helped develop the satellite navigation systems used BMW and Mercedes Benz, Bloomberg reported.Durekovic joined Apple in October and has relocated from his native Germany to San Francisco.News of Durekovic s hiring comes some two weeks after Apple announced that it was setting up a software development office in Hyderabad, India, that would focus on the Maps application.Apple said it would hire up to 4,000 people for that office.The Hyderabad office opening and the Durekovic hire could also potentially be related to Apple s not-so-secret effort to develop a car, dubbed Project Titan.As part of that effort, Apple is reportedly developing autonomous car technologies, which often rely on well-developed digital maps.Apple s service business was one of the few bright spots in the company s last earnings report.In the quarter, services accounted for more revenue than either Apple s Mac or iPad business lines, the first time that ever happened, and the growth in services came as Apple s overall sales fell 13 percent.Photo: Screen shot from the website for Apple s iCloud service.Tags: Apple, apple maps, iCloud, maps, outage, Project Titan
More than 1 billion new Internet users and 10 billion new devices and connections will more than triple global IP traffic in the next five years, according to Cisco s latest annual visual networking index.The causes of the ever-growing numbers as measured in petabytes, exabytes, etc.It would take more than 5 million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP networks each month in 2020, Cisco s report says.Video will account for 82 percent of all IP traffic in five years, up from 70 percent in 2015, and internet gaming video will grow sevenfold, according to the VNI.More about video, so you get the picture: In 2015, internet video surveillance nearly doubled; virtual-reality traffic nearly quadrupled, and internet video to TV rose 50 percent.All these numbers are expected to continue to go nowhere but up — including a tenfold increase in video surveillance by 2020.All this growth comes with consequences, including security concerns.The frequency of distributed denial of service DDoS attacks has increased more than 2.5 times in the past three years, and they are projected to climb from 6.6 million attacks to 17 million attacks in the next five years, according to the VNI, which is including these numbers for the first time in conjunction with Arbor Networks.Some other notable tidbits from the report:Cisco s VNI draws from myriad sources including analyst projections, plus its own estimates and forecasts and direct data collection.Photo: A couple watches Netflix.Internet video traffic will grow fourfold from 2015 to 2020, according to Cisco s VNI.
There s binge-watching, and there s binge-watching.Netflix knows that sometimes you plop down on the couch for hours at a time with a glass — make that a bottle — of wine, and periodically it ll even ask you whether you re still paying attention or have passed out.On Netflix s new binge scale, that would be considered devour, or watching a show for more than two hours at a time.On the other side of the scale is savor, which means you don t actually start to lose feeling in your legs because you watch for less than two hours at a time.The Los Gatos entertainment company is notoriously stingy about sharing viewership numbers, but it s allowing a glimpse at viewership habits via its binge scale.On average, Netflix said in a press release Wednesday, subscribers finish an entire season in one week.The Walking Dead joins Orange is the New Black on the devour side of the scale.Series like Sense8, Orphan Black and The 100 grab you, assault your senses, and as The Binge Scale shows, make it hard to pull away, Netflix said.On the other side of the scale, viewers tend to savor complex narratives such as House of Cards, Bloodline and Mad Men, the company said.Maybe those shows just aren t that good?Other shows on the devour side:Other shows on the savor side:Here s the scale, which is based on Netflix s analysis of more than 100 serialized shows in 190 countries, in all its glory.Photo: Left to right: Daryl Dixon Norman Reedus , T-Dog Robert IronE Singleton , Rick Grimes Andrew Lincoln , Maggie Greene Lauren Cohan and Glenn Steven Yeun in first episode of Season 3 of The Walking Dead, which Netflix says is on the devour side of its binge scale.
We re little more than two years into the current generation of game consoles, but Sony and Microsoft already readying faster, better machines for the market.But neither company appears ready to call this a new generation of consoles.Code-named Neo, the updated machine will have a much faster processor and support 4K video resolution.The Neo is intended to sit alongside and complement the standard PS4, House told the Financial Times.Sony s machine debuted seven years and Microsoft s device eight years after their predecessors, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, respectively.The gap between console generations was one of the longest ever.Game company executives have indicated that they would like to move to a more evolutionary model of hardware improvements, one where the companies upgrade their machines more frequently, but without as much disruption.Typically when consoles move from one generation to the next they offer limited support at best for games designed for older machines.File photo: A shopper walks on the logo of Sony s PlayStation 4 at an electronics store in Tokyo in December 2014.AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi Tags: 4k, game consoles, Microsoft, playstation 3, playstation 4, playstation neo, sony, ultra-high definition, video games, xbox 360, xbox one, xbox scorpio
According to CB Insights, VR and AR augmented reality startups raised $658 million in 2015, and Pitchbook estimates the industry has raised $4 billion since 2010.With growing investments and technology enhancements in the VR ecosystem, the real question is what are the best investments?Let s look at the key components of the VR ecosystem and the attractiveness of each:Assessment: Most existing production companies both live action and computer generated will be able to develop VR content.Note, I consider this space to also include player SDKs/PDKs.Assessment: It s best to wait and see how headset companies will make their approach.Oculus and HTC are already likely planning version 2 of their headsets and, like the camera market, I believe the dedicated headset market will only sustain a limited number of manufacturers, unless they re niche products for example medical or industrial applications .My suggestion is for companies to focus on their strengths and not try to do both.Prior to joining Verizon Ventures, he managed the launch of live streaming services for Verizon Digital Media Services and Verizon FiOS and was the lead negotiator on partner deals for major media and entertainment companies, including ESPN, Citigroup, Ernst & Young, and IBM Global Services.
Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the biggest — and most controversial — move the Federal Communications Commission has made under Wheeler s tenure as chairman when it gave a stamp of approval to the agency s net neutrality rules.I mean, it was fascinating that the court decision came down at the exact moment when there was a hearing being held in the House in which one of the themes was that the FCC had illegally overstepped its authority with the Open Internet order, and it was that alleged overstepping of its authority that cast the whole proposal that we have about privacy into a cocked hat.Congress said two years ago, We want you to bring together a group called DSTAC — the Downloadable Security Technology Advisory Committee — to advise on how to make this transition.How do you respond to that?A: Well, I think that a well-tried lobbying strategy is that when you don t have the facts on your side, invent a boogeyman.So you guys set up a scheme where you have some information that you are considering — you think ought to be considered — that people should assume that this information is being collected and there s no — they have implied consent.One of your fellow agencies, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is taking a step against this, where they re saying financial companies are not going to be able to do this anymore, that consumers can t waive their rights to class-action suits.
Even more significant is the fact that it was adding these millions of new users in the face of growing competition from Apple Music and YouTube, the latter of which also finds itself in the news on this first day of summer.As Recode reports, superstar Taylor Swift has joined the music industry s charge against the service Google bought in 2006 for $1.65 billion and now claims more than 1 billion video views per month as it also expands big time into streaming music.So what s their beef with YouTube?As Recode explains, musicians and companies that own music are complaining that Google s video site doesn t give them enough money for the use of their music, and that YouTube doesn t give them a real choice about whether and how their music is used.YouTube defends itself by arguing that it makes a ton of money for the music industry and that its proprietary tools help music owners to control their works.The battle is expected to drag on like one of those slow-playing LP albums your grandpa used to spin for hours.In the meantime, here s a bit of the letter the coalition sent to lawmakers:Issuing a sharp criticism of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the musicians claim the law was written and passed in an era that is technologically out-of-date compared to the era in which we live.It has allowed major tech companies to grow and generate huge profits by creating ease of use for consumers to carry almost every recorded song in history in their pocket via a smartphone, while songwriters and artists earnings continue to diminish.Apple Music, among others, poses a huge threat, already claiming 13 million paid users in the short 12 months since it was launched.Photo credits: Spotify and Taylor SwiftTags: Apple Music, DMCA, spotify, streaming, youtube
Last week, Tom Wheeler and the Federal Communications Commission got a measure of vindication.The commission has been trying for the better part of a decade to put in place rules that would guarantee net neutrality.Last year, the agency, which Wheeler has chaired since 2013, put in place strong new rules that were immediately attacked by broadband providers, members of Congress and even two of Wheeler s colleagues on the commission who charged that the agency had overstepped its bounds and the rules were a solution in search of a problem.But on Tuesday, the same federal appeals court that had overturned the FCC s two prior efforts upheld the new net neutrality rules.The court s ruling was not only a rejoinder to Wheeler s critics, it helped clear the way for the agency s new efforts to regulate telecommunications companies.In Palo Alto on Wednesday visiting Stanford s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Wheeler spoke with Tech Files columnist Troy Wolverton about the court decision, the FCC s agenda for the rest of the year and his legacy.Photo: Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, outside the Blue Bottle cafe in Palo Alto on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.Wheeler had just gotten a virtual reality demonstration at Stanford s Virtual Human Interaction Lab.Troy Wolverton/Mercury News .Tags: broadband, fcc, Federal Communications Commission, net neutrality, open internet, Privacy, set-top boxes, Tom Wheeler, virtual human interaction lab, virtual reality
Twitter is making another play for more video views.The San Francisco tech firm said Tuesday that it s expanding videos tweeted on the site from 30 seconds to 140 seconds.Select publishers will be able to post videos up to 10 minutes long.Video is becoming increasingly central to the real-time conversations happening on Twitter, wrote Jeremy Rishel, the company s head of product development for creators in a blog post.Since early 2016, videos tweeted on the site have jumped by more than 50 percent, he wrote.While Twitter has also been making a push into live video, it s competing with other social media sites such as Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube for ad dollars where billions of videos are viewed daily.Twitter-owned Vine, which is known for its 6-second videos, is also experimenting with longer videos and ways for people who produce these videos to make money.A watch more button in the lower right hand corner of Vine videos will allow people to view 140-second videos.Twitter is also introducing a new mobile app called Engage that provides real-time data to help people track how their videos, images, tweets and other content are performing on the site.Photo by LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty ImagesTags: facebook, instagram, Jack Dorsey, Snapchat, twitter, video
Thanks to live video from Facebook and Twitter s Periscope, those interested in watching the gun-control drama unfold in the House today can tune in, even though the Republican majority turned off C-SPAN cameras when the Democrats began a sit-in Wednesday morning.Three dozen Democrats led by Rep. John Lewis of Georgia are demanding a vote on measures to expand background checks and block some gun purchases, according to the Associated Press.Other lawmakers, including the Bay Area s Mike Honda and Barbara Lee, also streamed video from the scene on Facebook Live.The broadcasts have adopted the hashtag NoBillNoBreak, after the Democrats urged House Speaker Paul Ryan, R- Wisconsin, to keep the House in session next week despite a scheduled break.Facebook and Twitter have ramped up their live-video efforts lately, and there are reports that Google is looking to get into the action, too.The rise of live broadcasting has raised questions galore, including because events such as rapes and deaths have been live-streamed.Most recently, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg conducted his first live Q, and interviewed astronauts on the International Space Station.Photo: Screen shot from Rep. Mike Honda s Facebook Live broadcast.Tags: C-SPAN, Democrats, Facebook Live, gun control, live video, Persicope, Protest, Republicans
When drivers launch their Uber app, they are now able to touch an icon that goes directly to their Pandora account and bring up any stations they have already created.This integration, which will allow drivers to play music on Pandora from directly within the Uber app, and will make it easier for drivers and riders to listen to the music they love, said Bob Cowherd, senior product manager for music and media, Uber, in a statement announcing the deal.Financial terms weren t disclosed.The move comes as Uber is spending more on expanding into new markets and trying to entice riders away from other ride-hailing rivals such as Lyft.Uber currently has a partnership with Spotify that let s riders access their accounts with the music-streaming provider during their rides, and will soon offer a similar music-listening option from Pandora.For Pandora, getting in front of as many potential listeners remains key to its business strategy.Pandora s own Music Genome Project then identifies similar characteristics of songs in order to determine what music to play.But even though it has about 80 million subscribers, the majority of those choose to listen for free, with a few ads thrown in every hour.The company is facing growing competition from the likes of Spotify and Apple Music, with their monthly on-demand subscription fees, and as such, Pandora is pouring money into creating its own subscription service that will launch later this year.It s easy to see why Pandora would seek out deals with the likes of Uber.Swinburne said Pandora is in a position to negotiate favorable deals with music labels for the on-demand rights to songs that will both leave its core business economics largely unchanged, and enable it to make money in on-demand music streaming over the next few years.
The company has just received a patent for technology that would allow cell phones to be temporarily blocked from shooting photos or videos, after receiving infrared transmissions from a broadcasting device.A transmitter can be located in areas where capturing pictures and videos is prohibited e.g., a concert or a classified facility and the transmitters can generate infrared signals with encoded data that includes commands temporarily disabling recording functions, said the patent, granted Tuesday.The invention would present a far easier solution than that offered by San Francisco s Yondr, which involves concert-goers being forced to put their devices in cases that lock when they enter the photo-free zone.Pop superstar Adele would also be pleased.News of the patent will no doubt set recently departed music legend Prince dancing in his grave.In 2014, the Purple People Pleaser sued 22 anonymous people for posting links on the internet to bootleg videos of his concerts; Prince dropped the suits only when the offending links were removed.The jamming technology could also be deployed to prevent people from taking photos and videos of museum exhibits, the patent said.However, many museums are moving away from photo prohibitions, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.D. Ross Cameron/Bay Area News Group Tags: Adele, Apple, cell phones, concerts, infrared, jamming, museums, patent, Prince