Yahoo! Video now features full-length movies, TV shows, and more

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Yahoo India has launched Yahoo! Video, or Yahoo! India Video Beta, now featuring a variety of original movies, news and TV shows, accessible for free online. Tying up with content providers and channels such as Star Entertainment, Shemaroo, Ultra, NDTV, Headlines Today, Reuters, AP, Aaj Tak, and others, Yahoo India hopes to leverage its reach amongst online users in India.

The launch of the new Yahoo! Video platform also comes with the HQ video experience, and apart from news, TV shows, and movies, features other “Strictly Original” content from various genres like entertainment and lifestyle. Presumably more partners will follow soon. Check Yahoo! India Video out for yourself at in.video.yahoo.com.

Yahoo is hoping to keep the platform absolutely free, offering advertisers “innovative and interactive ad formats” at Yahoo! India Video Beta with which they can engage their audience. They also get the ‘Yahoo! Video advantage,’ capitalizing on Yahoo! India’s “reach of 81% among online users.”

What do you think of Yahoo! India Video? How does it compare with YouTube, and its Youtube BoxOffice channel? Do let us know in the comments section below:

Google introduces YouTube Slam, pits videos against each other

YOUTUBE has come up with a new way to engage its users by pitting two videos against each other, asking you to rate the better one. The new feature is called YouTube Slam. The Slam features head-to-head video bouts, which can be viewed in different categories ranging from comedy to dance. The videos with most ratings are featured on the category’s leaderboard. Viewers can also subscribe to Slam channels to see the most viewed/rated videos.

Viewers will also earn points for predicting the crowd favourites, and can compete against other players at the end of each week. The YouTube Slam will help viewers uncover the next big thing on the social video networking site.

YouTube Slam is a brainchild of Google Research, which was working on the project since this fall. The research team focussed on ’singing at home’ videos and then used software methods to analyse audio and visual features. Later, the research team incorporated a ‘voting’ feature to identify and motivate deserving talents through YouTube Slam.

“…come play YouTube Slam—a video discovery experiment we cooked up with folks from Google Research. Each week a new crop of videos battles head-to-head in Comedy, Cute, Music, Bizarre and Dance Slams, where your votes determine who wins the Slam and gets featured on the leaderboard,” says YouTube in its blog post.

The new YouTube Slam feature is likely to help the site increase its value and interaction levels. Moreover, it may help reduce search efforts and ultimately boost channel subscriber numbers.

FIR lodged against Facebook, user over anti-Gita rant

An FIR has been lodged against social networking site Facebook and one of its users for allegedly posting offensive comments about the Hindu holy scripture Bhagvad Gita. Nutan Thakur, a social activist from Lucknow, has lodged an FIR against Chandigarh-based editor of daily under the section 53, 153 A, 153-B, 290, 504, 505, 506 IPC and section 66 A Information Technology Act 2000.

In her FIR, Nutan has accused the Facebook user, who calls himself as Editor-in-Chief of a Punjabi daily, of provoking people to burn the Bhagvat Gita. Nutan said that the comments on Facebook could trigger communal violence. She also added that the social networking site was equally responsible for denting the image of the Gita. Nutan also points out that the scripture is already in news for facing a ban in Russia and such comments could enrage others people.

The police case against the social networking site come in the backdrop of the recent governmentattempts to monitor the online content. Indian telecom minister Kapil Sibal in a meeting with the representatives of Internet companies including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, called for a monitoring mechanism. However, the government faced flak from all corners as the move was seen as an attempt to censor the freedom of expression on Internet.

Facebook, however, had then said it would remove any content that is offensive and could hurt the religious sentiments. “We will remove any content that violates our terms, which are designed to keep material that is hateful, threatening, incites violence or contains nudity off the service,”said Facebook.

Google in response to the government appeal to monitor online content said that it would not remove content that are controversial but legal. “We work really hard to make sure that people have as much access to information as possible, while also following the law. This means that when content is illegal, we abide by local law and take it down,” said Google in a statement. “When content is legal but controversial we don’t remove it because people’s differing views should be respected, so long as they are legal.”

India named top source of global spam in Q3 2011

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India has been named the largest source of spam messages in the world for the third quarter of 2011. According to Kaspersky Lab’s spam report, more than 50 per cent of all spam messages came from only six countries, with India topping the list at 14.8 per cent of such messages. Indonesia was on the second spot at 10.6 per cent, while Brazil remained at the third position 9.65 per cent. Peru (6.65 per cent), South Korea (5.85 per cent) and Ukraine (3.7 per cent) also made to the top six list.

The report also says that the top 10 sources of spam messages were situated in South America, Asia and Eastern Europe. “This is due to the fact that there are numerous users in these countries and they are, for the most part, not very experienced when it comes to IT security. This makes them a soft target for cybercriminals spreading spam-bots,” the report points out.

The Kaspersky report also highlighted that all GCC countries accounted for only 1.33 per cent of the spam messaging. According to the report, the low numbers are due to the less number of users and stringent vigilance of IT in these nations.

Most Pirated Movies of 2011

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There’s just no accounting for taste among illegal downloaders—Vin Diesel vehicle Fast Five earned top “honors” with more FBI warnings ignored than any other film this year, according to TorrentFreak’s annual roundup of the Top 10 Pirated Movies of 2011.

TorrentFreak’s list of most-pirated television shows was published earlier this month, with Showtime’s Dextertopping the rankings.

Fast Five, the fifth (natch) installment of the Fast and Furious franchise, was illegally downloaded more than nine million times, according to TorrentFreak’s roundup of BitTorrent tracker reports and other sources (see full list below). That’s quite a ways off the pace set by the 2010 leader, Avatar, which was downloaded more than 16 million times.

Why the steep decline in illegal downloads throughout the Top 10?

“In part this drop might be explained by the increase in legal alternatives, although upcoming alternative piracy sources (such as cyberlockers and steaming sites) may have also had an effect,” TorrentFreak noted. “However, since the total number of active BitTorrent users isn’t shrinking, the downloads may simply be spread out over more titles in 2011.”

This year was also notable for the emergence of a visible deterrent to piracy—a consortium of entertainment industry interests spearheaded a sweeping crackdown on people who use torrents to swap pirated content in 2011.

TorrentFreak’s Top 10 List, which counts downloads of illegally cammed versions of films, was a mixed bag of movies that did very well at the box office and those that, well, not so much. While Fast Fivegrossed $626 million legally worldwide, and The Hangover II, No. 2 on the list with some 8.8 million illegal downloads, grossed $581 million, Sucker Punch (7.2 million downloads) and 127 Hours (6.9 million) were comfortably in the Top 10 despite neither film grossing $100 million at the box office.

And some of the most successful movies of 2011 didn’t even make the Top 10 list, TorrentFreak noted.Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Transformers: Dark of the Moon apparently didn’t appeal to torrent users despite boffo box office, though Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which hauled in a whopping $1.33 billion in legal tender, did squeeze on to the list in tenth place with a little more than 6 million illegal downloads.

Cloud May Put Operating Systems Out of Their Misery

Think back to 1995, to one of the biggest events of that year — Microsoft’s launch of Windows 95. Lines formed at computer stores. Mick Jagger performed the OS’s adopted theme song “Start Me Up.” Jay Leno emceed the launch event. Graphics! Icons! Toolbars! Everyone was excited.

 

Nowadays, outside of developers, does anybody really get excited about new OS launches anymore? Now the excitement is on the services that reside out on the Web — be it social networks or cloud-based services. Often anymore, the OS just seems like something that gets in the way.

That’s why Mat Honan’s latest poston Gizmodo was so intriguing — suggesting that Apple’s now-available iCloud represents the beginning of an era of computing without computers:

“For some of us, iCloud means we’re never buying another computer, and for the rest of us, iCloud will be the end of computing as we have always known it…. In the past ten years, [computers have] lept forward again and become easier than ever, but have still remained folder and hierarchy based. You have to have at least some basic understanding of how information is organized on them…. There are no more file systems and folders to manage. It doesn’t matter where you save something, you just start an app and there’s your data. Here are your pictures, your music, your documents and movies. Here are your apps and maps and all the things you care about. You don’t need to look for them, or move them from place to place. There’s no more manual syncing. No more worrying about backups. No more dragging and dropping one thing from one place to another. All you have to do now is hit the power button. That’s it.”

iCloud enables people to simply turn their screens on and there are their apps, services and data, all ready to go, Honan says, adding that “the logical end goal of iCloud is, of course, replacing the operating system itself. No more iOS, no more OS X, no more Windows. There are just the devices you turn on or off, and the data they store. iCloud is computing without the computing.”

iCloud, which went live on October 12th, is a synchronizing service for Apple devices, an online storage service, a photo-sharing service, and an online backup service, among other things.

I don’t know if iCloud will end computing as we know it, but it’s certainly part of a trend that’s been accelerating since the iPhone was first introduced a few years ago.  The appeal of smartphones and tablets, along with their form factor, is the fact that you can turn them on, and they just work. No long boots, no visible patch downloads, no wondering about drivers, no fussing with settings.

The industry has long flirted with the vision of low-end computers that act as relatively simple interfaces to the wider network. In the late 1990s, IBM, Oracle and Sun Microsystems floated the idea of a diskless “network computer,” mainly for users within enterprises, that connected to the Internet for everything from browsing to word processing. But PC prices dropped, and the economics of network computing collapsed. In some ways, smartphones and tablet computers are picking up where network computers left off.

The operating system will never entirely go away, of course. It will just be less obvious. Even with iCloud and all the other cloud services that are available, we still need something to keep our client devices running as they should, while supporting resident browsers or apps. But with the combination of mobile devices and the cloud, the momentum is clearly going in the direction of computing without the computer.

UPDATE: A reader suggests a greater clarification — that the trends discussed in this article address the graphical user interface (GUI) and window manager function of the operating system, and not the core OS itself . As stated above, OSes themselves will not go away any time in the foreseeable future — every device or platform needs them for basic functions. In fact, even if a user turns on his or screen to access cloud (or iCloud) apps, there is still a full OS running behind that screen in the device. Increasingly, GUIs are shielding users from the behind-the-scenes “plumbing” and complexities of OSes, making them appear to be invisible.

Source: Forbes.

Fujitsu Will Be Offering Commercial Supercomputers

Fujitsu has partnered with RIKEN to build the “K Computer” – which is currently the world’s fastest supercomputer. Now Fujitsu has taken that expertise and applied it to a new enterprise – they’re offering a new commercial supercomputer.

 

 

The supercomputer, named PRIMEHPC FX10, will be available as of January, and its specifications are impressive. It’s theoretically scalable up to 23.2 petaflops, which is more than double the current performance of the K computer and ten times faster than the second fastest supercomputer in the world. The supercomputers is comprised of 1,024 racks, and each individual CPU in the supercomputer is comprised of a 16 cores. By themselves, each indivdual CPU is capable of processing 236.5 gigaflops.

The supercomputer’s applications include drug development, disaster planning and application, and other types of research that involve processing and analyzing huge quantities of data. I’d expect that it would be particularly productive when geared towards simulations, and the company mentions the possibility of using it to simulate a new device without the need to build a prototype.

Fujitsu expects to sell about 50 supercomputers over the course of the next three years.

iPhone 4S launch for India ‘soon’

In what only seems to be a carbon copy of the iPhone 4’s launch in India earlier this year, both Aircel and Airtel have announced they will be launching the iPhone 4S in India “soon.” Unlike the iPhone 4’s launch that was nearly a year late however, we are quite sure Apple and its India partners will not delay the iPhone 4S’ launch by quite as much – some reports even indicate as soon as November 25.

The two telecom operators announced their iPhone 4S launch plans on their Facebook pages, urging fans to await further launch details soon. It has nearly been a month since the Apple iPhone 4S’ U.S. launch on October 14, and in the intervening period, there’s been some controversies surrounding the refreshed product, apart from mostly positive expert reviews.

iPhone 4S owners have had some problems with battery life, with many users still facing difficulties despite the release of an iOS 5.0.1 update that should have fixed the issue. The update also brought other improvements and bug fixes to the platform however, across devices. Refer to our previous coverage of iOS 5.0.1 for more details.

Despite being nearly identical in terms of looks (and bearing the same Retina Display), iPhone 4S is quite different from the iPhone 4 on the inside, featuring a 1GHz dual-core processor with a better GPU, an 8MP f/2.4 camera with 1080p HD video recording, and improved battery life, apart from operating system and interface updates, and of course, Siri – the personal assistant. Siri for now though, is something few iPhone 4S users will be able to enjoy globally until Q2 2012, with services limited to the U.S. for now.

Expect pricing to be fair bit higher than the iPhone 4, at roughly Rs. 38k for the base model.

Facebook ‘close to settlement’ with FTC over privacy failings

Facebook is finalising a settlement with US federal regulators over“deceptive” changes it made to its privacy policies in 2009, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday night.

The proposed settlement, with the US Federal Trade Commission, would resolve the accusations by privacy advocates that Facebook engaged in deceptive behaviour with a number of changes it made in 2009 to privacy settings.

The New York Times reported that the terms would mean that Facebook would have to agree to privacy audits for the next 20 years, but that it would not be required to ask users if they wanted to take part in any future in sharing features.

The 2009 changes required that certain personal profile information, such as a person’s gender and the city they reside in, be viewable to everyone. Previously, Facebook users could limit the people to which that information was visible.

The changes caused an outcry from groups including the American Civil Liberties Union which called the changes flawed and worrisome.

Kevin Bankston, a senior lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation at the time, said: “These new ‘privacy’ changes are clearly intended to push Facebook users to publicly share even more information than before.”

Speaking to the New York Times, Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, expressed doubts that the settlement would appease critics of Facebook’s data-collection practices.

”The real test of the FTC’s Facebook deal will be whether a user actually has control over their own information, or will this be a tiny digital bump on the road that does nothing to derail Mark Zuckerberg’s voracious appetite to swallow up our data,” he said.

The settlement, which is awaiting final approval by commissioners, would require Facebook to obtain consent from its users for “material retroactive changes”, according to the WSJ report, which cited anonymous sources.

Completing the settlement would ease Facebook’s path to a stock market flotation next year by reducing the amount of uncertainty over unresolved legal issues.

Facebook and the FTC declined to comment.

The settlement would follow a similar agreement between the FTC and search leader Google in March over the latter’s Google Buzz network. In 2010 the FTC settled charges with Twitter, which alleged that the social networking service had failed to safeguard its users’ personal information.

Facebook, the world’s biggest social network with more than 800 million users, has often been criticised for its privacy practices.

The FTC complaints against Facebook were brought by a group of privacy advocacy organisations after the social network introduced new privacy settings in 2009.

Chrome books to News once again

Acer’s founder has given a sharp warning to Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt that the benefits from Android‘s success need to be shared throughout the “value chain” of its suppliers, after complaining that Microsoft and Intel have gathered too much of the profit from the success of Windows.

There are also question marks over the future of Google’s “Chromebooks” – laptops which run its limited ChromeOS operating system, essentially providing access to Google Apps through theChrome browser – due to limited sales.

But Schmidt, who is on a tour of the Far East, insisted that “resources will be shared” among the members of the Android ecosystem – though he declined to say whether Google would launch own-branded handsets using its acquisition of Motorola, which is due to complete early in the year.

The remarks from Shih and Schmidt appeared in Digitimes, the Taiwanese online business paper which follows the workings of the Far Eastern system builders.

Shih’s remarks indicate that companies making Android systems are wary of being cornered in the way that businesses making Windows hardware have been, where operating margins on commodity PC hardware can be less than 5% while Microsoft and Intel enjoy monopoly profits on the software and processor.

Digitimes says that

Shih noted that an enterprise’s operating strategy should focus on allowing all its partners to enjoy profits and reach a balance, but some US enterprises value too much their own interests, ignoring the profitability of their upstream suppliers, channel retail partners and consumers, causing their operations to be unable to last long.

The warning to Schmidt – that Acer might opt out of the Google’s ecosystems if it feels that the rewards are not sufficient or if Google favours one company over another – may seem trivial, given that Acer is not a major player in the Android smartphone market, and has made little impact in the Android tablet market.

But Shih is almost certainly reflecting the sentiments of a number of Android systems builders who have so far failed to benefit from Google’s efforts outside the smartphone business, where Google faces an uphill struggle to persuade system builders to back it.

Digitimes reports that Schmidt’s attempts to persuade them to build “Chromebooks’ using Google’s Chrome OS have fallen flat:

due to demand for Chrome OS-based devices (Chromebooks) being lower than expected, PC players are taking a passive attitude toward opening projects. In June 2011, Acer and Samsung launched their Chromebooks ahead of other PC brand vendors, but by the end of July, Acer had reportedly only sold 5,000 units and Samsung was said to have had even lower sales than Acer, according to sources from the PC industry. However, Acer has declined to comment.

Google has not provided any figures for sales of “Chromebooks”; Larry Page, the chief executive, made only a passing mention to them in his rundown of Google’s third quarter results discussion:

Finally, Chromebooks have been available for purchase since mid-June, and we’re beginning to see lots of interest and good uptake, both from the businesses and educational institutions.

It is not clear whether the slow sales of computers generally in the US and western Europe have put large organisations off acquiring Chromebooks, or whether the fact that the machines require connection to the internet to function effectively – because they use a minimal OS and do everything else through the browser – has put organisations off deploying them in favour of full-function laptops as well as tablets such as Apple’s iPad, which has sold tens of millions of devices.

But the tensions between Google, Motorola and the Far Eastern system builders on whom Google relies have been made clear by Shih’s words.Chrome books into NEWS oncw