Browsing articles in "Miscellaneous"
Jan 18, 2011
Anand Srinivasan

Netflix ‘Add To DVD Queue’ Feature Removed

Popular DVD rental and movie streaming service Netflix today announced that they were removing the ability to let users add movies to DVD queue from their streaming devices. In a blog post on the company website, Jamie Odell, director of Product Management at Netflix wrote,

“We’re removing the “Add to DVD Queue” option from streaming devices. We’re doing this so we can concentrate on offering you the titles that are available to watch instantly. Further, providing the option to add a DVD to your Queue from a streaming device complicates the instant watching experience and ties up resources that are better used to improve the overall streaming functionality.”

The move marks another significant step for Netflix to transform into a purely movie streaming service. However, the removal of this feature has got a number of users unhappy who point out that it will be making it difficult for users to add movies – those that are not available for instant viewing – to their queue.

In any case, it doesn’t look like Netflix will be reverting the change anytime soon. If you were a fan of that feature, it looks like you must learn to live without it.

Jan 17, 2011
Anand Srinivasan

Is iPhone Jailbreak Legal? Apple Doesn’t Think So

Technically, it is not illegal to jailbreak the software of any device that you “own“. The Digital Copyright Millennium Act had stated last year that jailbreaking an iPhone or any other device for that matter was not illegal. Apple had stated back then that though the process itself might be legal, the company would still stick to its policy of voiding the warranty of devices that indulge in jailbreaking since such hacks were the primary cause of iOS crashes and malfunction.

Now, with the cat and mouse game between Apple and jailbreakers still on, it looks like Apple may be seeking legal counsel on this subject one more time. The company is learned to have to have approached the Copyrights Office of the Federal Government seeking a “crack down” on hackers who offer jailbreak software. In their proposal, Apple has said,

“Current jailbreak technologies now in widespread use utilize unauthorized modifications to the copyrighted bootloader and operating system, resulting in the infringement of the copyrights in those programs”

Specifically, Apple has pointed out that such jailbroken devices are a way for users to pirate copyrighted software and hence the company wants a ban on such processes. The response from the Copyrights office is not known yet.

What is your stand on this issue?

Dec 31, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Freelancer.com Acquires Webmaster Talk Forums

Freelancer.com, one of the biggest online platforms that lets developers connect with companies to build web based projects has announced that they are acquiring Webmaster Talk, a popular discussion board for webmasters.

In an email sent to Webmaster Talk members, Matt Barie, the founder and CEO of Freelancer has said,

“It’s never been an easier time to start a business. We want this to be the
go-to site for people looking to build successful things on the Internet, with
an active community of experts and seasoned entrepreneurs.

To reflect this, we are renaming Webmaster-talk to Tycoon Talk.

Above all, this is your community and we’re honored to be a part of it.
Most, if not all, of the existing forums will continue, albeit with some
rearrangement. We will also be extending the focus with some new
cutting-edge boards.”

The past year and a half has been pretty eventful year for Freelancer.com as the company rebranded itself from GetAFreelancer to Freelancer. The company recently announced the acquisition of LimeExchange that saw its overall membership grow to 2 million users.

It will be interesting to see how this new acquisition shapes the freelancer community that Matt Barie has built with his website.

Dec 29, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Can Amazon Bestsellers List Be Gamed? New Kindle Book Tells How

Amazon’s proprietary algorithm that ranks and offers recommendation to book readers has always been a matter of debate. While there has been several accusations in the past about the company turning a blind eye to authors gaming the system to reach the bestsellers’ list, nothing much has come out of it until now. However, a recent book – ironically available for purchase on Amazon Kindle – tells us the exact methodology that one needs to pursue to ensure that their books top the bestsellers chart on Amazon.

In the book, author Thomas Hertog claims to have successfully got his previous book – “Wealth Hazards” – to reach the #1 on the bestsellers’ list in the personal finance category although he barely sold 32 copies in 45 days of launch. Hertog points out that his gaming technique helped him overtake genuine bestselling authors like Robert Kiyosaki, Andrew Tobias and Dave Ramsey who have sold more than 50 million books. How did he do it? Hertog explains,

“I discovered how Amazon ranks book sales, customer reviews, comments on reviews, books that other buyers bought, and creates Amazon recommendations. Then I bought and downloaded to my Kindle one hundred and seventy-three times my own book Wealth Hazards, wrote numerous five-star customer reviews, and voted on how helpful or unhelpful reviews were in making a purchasing decision. I did this everyday on Amazon for nearly five months.”

Hertog has summarized his experiences on his book, “The Day the Kindle Died“, that can be purchased on Amazon by clicking here. It is a real eye-opener to the way Amazon ranks books besides letting us rethink the way Amazon could be violating the users’ privacy to mine valuable data using simple bookmarking tools like WhisperSync.

Did you read the book? Tell us your views on this debate in the comments below.

Dec 29, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

iPod Nano Jailbreak Imminent With New Hack

Those of you wanting to put your iPod nano to better use can get hopeful. Developer James Whelton has revealed that he has taken the first step towards enabling a possible jailbreak of the sixth generation iPod nano. In all fairness, Whelton’s hack at present is pretty simplistic and all that it does is to remove one of the default apps from the iPod nano. But Whelton has said that hackers can now build upon this to develop a more sophisticated jailbreaking solution for iPod nano in the future. He says,

“The hack and things I’ve been playing around with and have done use the already available ‘disk use’ of the device. The hack is simple, like Forrest Gump simple, the importance is that it got the Nano hack got attention and thankfully attracted some kickass hackers and developers who wish to work on it with me, I’m gonna be doing all I can to facilitate this. iPod Nano hacking is nothing new (http://ipodlinuxinstl.sourceforge.net/).”

Meanwhile, if you own a iPod nano 6th gen device, you can check out the tutorial for the current hack by clicking here.

Dec 29, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

iPhone Is Most Popular Product On eBay 2010

eBay, the world’s largest online auction website, has published its annual list of the most popular items on their online stores for the year nearly gone by. Like many of the previous years, electronic gadgets continue to be one of the most popularly selling items. According to the latest listing, iPhone related items and accessories were the most searched for and purchased item on eBay in 2010. The etailer has revealed that close to 1,634,674 iPhone 4 related items were sold this year.

Apple also scores on another front – the iPad. The eBay study has shown that over 621,399 iPad related products were sold during this period. It is interesting to note that the iPad was launched only in April while iPhone 4 was launched in June of this year – which means these products did not sell all through the year and still managed the top slots. iPad, for the record, was eBay’s fifth most popular item.

Here are the top ten item categories that found popularity on eBay this year

1. iPhone
2. Barbie
3. Military jackets
4. Hot Wheels
5. iPad
6. World cup
7. The Beatles
8. Silly Bandz
9. Alice in Wonderland
10. New Orleans Saints

Dec 3, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Wikileaks.Org Down – How To Access WikiLeaks Website & Documents?

A day after Amazon shut down its servers to Wikileaks.org – the non-profit whistleblower website, the website’s DNS management provider EveryDNS.net has announced that they are terminating their service as well. While Amazon cited breach of terms for terminating their contract, EveryDNS has stated that other partner websites are facing increasing risks due to the heavy number of DDoS attacks on Wikileaks that has prompted the company’s decision.

While the website itself is down, the group’s Dutch mirror site, Wikileaks.nl appears to be active at the moment. Other websites hosted in .fi, .org.uk and .se domains do not seem to be resolving at the moment. Folks at SkepticGeek note that Wikileaks.ch too is functional but I am not able to open the site from where I am.

So if you are looking for a way to reach out to the Wikileaks documents, you may visit this alternate website.

Dec 2, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Preventing US Government Website Seizures With New BitTorrent-Based DNS System

The US Government has been cracking down on a number of websites that it claims contain “misbehaving” content including offering ways to access pirated content. This has been primarily done with the help of ICANN – the organization that is responsible for handling domain names. Thanks to the control that ICANN holds over individual domain names, the US government is noted to be easily able to shut off websites that it deems are unlawful.

Now, a number of internet enthusiasts – including the founders of the popular pro-piracy website, PirateBay are mulling over alternatives that will help website owners host such content deemed unlawful without having to worry about being hassled by government agencies. The group has proposed a new BitTorrent-like DNS system that will decentralize the DNS system over multiple computers that install an application and thereby make it impossible for ICANN to block content. The new system could run on a .p2p domain suffix instead of conventional TLDs like .com or .net.

The proposal is still in the development stages and it will be interesting to see how this moves forward.

Nov 17, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Want To Make A Movie? Amazon Enters Movie Production Business

Amazon is looking to venture into movie production. The company is now calling upon aspiring movie writers to submit their scripts on a new website called Amazon Studios. The most promising work stands a chance to be made into a movie that will be made by Amazon in partnership with Warner Bros. Participants with better resources could even submit a “test movie” that shall have good acting and screening for the selection process.

The possible rewards to the winner are huge. Filmmakers stand to earn $200,000 if their story gets made into a movie and an additional $400,000 if the movie grosses over $60 million at the box office.

This is an interesting use of the crowdsourcing model and  will help Amazon, who have until now been a leader in the movie streaming and DVD sale business take a new direction. What do you think of this exciting venture?

Oct 27, 2010
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160by2 iPhone App To Send Free SMS Launches

India’s leading online free SMS service, 160by2, has launched a new iOS app that will let registered users send free text messages from their iDevice to their friends and family in India and Singapore. The app works on iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad from close to nine countries including India, Kuwait, Malaysia, Philippines, Saudi, Singapore, UAE, United Kingdom and the United States. If you are in the US, you need to be subscribed to AT&T. If you have already unlocked your device, then you are unfortunately out of service.

The service already enjoys popularity in India with close to 9.2 million registered users in the country. With the iPhone app, 160by2 will find appeal among expat Indian users who can save quite a lot of money by texting their messages to friends and family in India for free.

160by2 iPhone app

The 160by2 iPhone app can be downloaded from the App Store by clicking here. Do let us know how you find the app in the comments below.

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