Category Archives: Tech News

YouTube Stats Show Huge Gap in Video View Counts

A few days ago, YouTube released statistics for its biggest channels and it was seen that over two billion video views were missing from them. The worst hit group was Universal, which lost around 1 billion views, followed by Sony losing over 850 million views. However, the lost views were not all fake video views. This YouTube stats of two billion lost views included views from videos that were deleted over a year ago and moved to the Vevo channel instead.

vevoSome people speculated that the real reason for these lost views was the Black Hat SEO that these music labels used to project a higher view count. However, the lost views from these channels must have appeared on Vevo, which was hosting most of these videos now. The matter was later explained by Alex Ham from Billboard, who reported,

For Universal and Sony, that meant thousands of music videos that over the past three years slowly have migrated to the VEVO channel, which is jointly owned by the two companies.

Vevo collaborated with YouTube back in 2009, and has been a major revenue generator for YouTube. However, it also caused a major change in the number of views of videos from major record labels. As the web is moving towards richer forms of media, videos have an important role to play and video views are an important factor in search ranking of videos.

Join this discussion on Reddit for some speculation on this matter.

BLAKE2: Bid Farewell to MD5

Over the last two years, a number of hacker collectives have successfully ridiculed existing cyber-security measures and this has brought up the need for a major overhaul in security. MD5, which is the most abused hashing technique, is over two decades old now, but it is still in use at many places, mostly because it is part of some legacy code that was never changed. The world of cryptography has taken the next step to security as BLAKE2 is here.

BLAKE2 is the advanced version of the BLAKE algorithm, which was a finalist in SHA3. The official page for BLAKE describes it as,

The cryptographic hash function BLAKE2 is an improved version of the SHA-3 finalist BLAKE. Like BLAKE or SHA-3, BLAKE2 offers the highest security, yet is fast as MD5 on 64-bit platforms and requires at least 33% less RAM than SHA-2 or SHA-3 on low-end systems.

While BLAKE2 is advocated as being a secure hashing function, it is also as fast as MD5, which might be a reason for concern, but the developers of BLAKE2 have said on their mailing list that BLAKE2 has better security and at-par performance with MD5. From what it seems, they are proposing BLAKE2 as a viable alternative to MD5. The use-case for BLAKE2 is not replacing the existing Keccak algorithm for SHA3.

Many a times, people stick to MD5 for a performance benefit. With its superior performance and better security, BLAKE2 will be a nail in MD5’s coffin.

Get 3 Months of Flickr Pro For Free!

Marissa Mayer has just made Flickr “awesome” again! Yahoo is giving away three months of pro services to all its current users for free. With just a few clicks, you get all the benefits of a Flickr Pro account! This is good news to all those Flickr users who have always imagined of having a pro account.

Current Flickr pro users also get the holiday season offer, with an option to extend the validity of their pro account for extra three months for free.

According to a Flickr staff who made the announcement on the site’s forum saying, “As our way to saying thanks this holiday season. We’ve got a gift for all our Flickr friends, old and new! 3 months of Free Pro!”

Free Flickr Pro - 3 Months

The free three months pro account comes with unlimited uploading, unlimited viewing of entire photo library, and also capability to post photos in up to 60 groups. This is a reward from Flickr for sticking to the service all these years.

Here’s what you get for the next 3 months with the Flickr Pro for Free offer:

  • Unlimited* uploads (up to 50MB per photo)
  • Unlimited viewing of your entire photo library
  • Post photos in up to 60 groups
  • Download your original, high-resolution photos – whenever you need them
  • Upload and play unlimited HD videos

To get the offer, login to your Flickr account and you will notice a banner right below the photo navigation links on top. Otherwise, you can simply go to — http://www.flickr.com/holidaygift — and avail the offer.

In comparison that to what you get with a free Flickr account (non-pro):

  • 300 MB monthly photo upload limit (30MB per photo)
  • 2 video uploads each month (90 seconds max, 150MB per video)
  • Photostream views limited to the 200 most recent images
  • Post any of your photos in up to 10 group pools
  • Only smaller (resized) images accessible (though the originals are saved in case you upgrade later)

Best Travel Apps

Here is a list of vacation apps that allow you make the best use of your smart phone from boarding the flight, to finding your way around town. These apps will help you on almost every leg of your journey. This comes after you plan your trip of course.

Know your phone costs

If you plan to make a fair number of calls, it is best to purchase a local sim from the airport. A data plan should ideally be avoided if you can locate free or cheap WiFi spots with the Free Wi-Fi Finder.

Note: Available for Apple, Android for free

Another option is to rent from XComGlobal.com for a flat rate of $15 per day. Do check with your carrier for international roaming plans and compare rates.

 

Book your flight

Use  Matrix Airfare Search to find the best flight deal.

Note: Available for Apple, Android for free

Find your best seat on the flight using Seat-Guru.

Note: Available for Apple for free

 

Know your flight

In case of flight delays, use FlightTrack Pro to provide you with quick updates.

Note: Available for Apple, Android for $9.99

If you are in the US, you can check what the carrier legally owes you for any inconvenience using FlyersRights.

Note: Available for Apple for $0.99

 

Know the airport

Use GateGuru to identify eateries, services, and stores near your terminal and how travelers rate them. It also provides airport maps and airport security wait times.

Note: Available for Apple, Android for free

If you are unavoidably late and miss your connecting flight, use Next Flight to list of all available flights up till the next two days. If there really are no suitable options, it allows you to look for cabs, hotels and car rentals.

Note: Available for Apple, Android for $2.99

To keep up with changing rules on baggage and identification, use My TSA to check what items you can carry and more.

Note: Available for Apple for free

 

Know your time killers

If you have an extremely long layover, use Priority Pass to find and check prices of airport lounges.

Note: Available for Apple, Android, Blackberry for free

The first thing I normally do when I have some time to kill is open Kindle.

Note: Available for Apple, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone for free

You can also use the Pocket app to save articles, videos, or web pages to read offline at your leisure.

Note: Available for Apple, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone for free

If reading is not your thing, then the next fascinating thing is to play games, there are plenty of games to choose from the Techie-Buzz archives (Techie-Buzz:Top 8 Pub Game iPhone Apps).

Know your itinerary

Instead of having multiple print outs, use TripIt to organize all your trip reservations like you would in your own pocket diary.

Note: Available for Apple, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone  for free

Know your weather

Plan for any weather contingency using the reliable Weather Channel.

Note: Available for Apple, Android, BlackBerry,Windows Phone for free

Know your budget

The most stressful thing about trips is keeping track of where your money has gone. Keep track of bills and your current cash reserve using Virtual Wallet.

Note: Available for Apple, Android for free

 

Know your transport

The best way to explore a city is by foot or using public transportation. The MetrO app has details on public transportation systems in more than 400 cities across the world.

Note: Available for Apple, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone  for free

If you are on a road trip in the US, use RoadNinja to find stops for the local attractions in addition to food, medicine, gas, and lodging along the way.

Note: Available for Apple, Android for free

 

Know your city

Plan your local sightseeing tours with Viator that sells tours in many major destinations around the world.

Note: Available for Apple, Android for free

In addition to the much loved Google Maps, use Yelp to get the local’s recommendation for the best places to be at, no matter what time it is.

Note: Both available for Apple, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Palm  for free

The local newspapers often have details on activities and discounts available for the day. Use City Papers to find where the local’s are heading. It has access to 3,000 English-language ­newspapers worldwide.

Note: Available for Apple for $0.99

Get the details of the sights and sounds in the city using Wikihood that pulls details from Wikipedia entries.

Note: Available for Apple  for free

If you are in a city where you do not speak the language, use Google Translate for easier communication.

Note: Available for Apple, Android for free

Top Tips to Plan Your Vacation

As the holiday season nears its peak, we take a look at some of the most important travel-planning tips. Also, check some of our tricks to help you get the best deal for airline and accommodation booking with minimal effort.

Step 1: Fix the Location

This should be one of the easiest things to do. I am sure as you read this, you already have quite a few options in your mind on where your next trip will be.

Step 2: Time It

Plan the timing of your visit with care. For example, if you plan a trip to Goa ( a tropical get-away in India), you will be faced with exorbitant rates around Christmas time up till new year. However, if you check the prices during the monsoons, you will find that you can arrange steals from some of the best hotels there.

Check for free days for your trip too. For example, many cities have free museum visits on certain days of the year.

Step 3: Look for Flight Fares

Social media is a beautiful thing when it comes to arranging fares. With Twitter and Facebook, you can find many deals if you spend some time looking. 

Flight booking tip: There is no point making your booking extremely early on. Ideally, you will plan your trip, but only book your flight around 3 to 6 weeks in advance for local trips, and about 3 to 4 months in advance for international tips. At this stage use Bing.com/travel, it is one of the best fare predictors that I have come across.

Confirm that you are getting the best deal for your flight by comparing prices with global aggregators like MobissimoSkyscanner or Momondo.

Currency conversion tip: It is good to remember the importance of currency conversion for international trips. For example, as the US Dollar is far stronger than the Indian Rupee it makes sense to look for tickets on kayak.co.in rather than kayak.com. However, if you plan a trip to the UK, because of the Pound’s higher value, stick to looking at the US site.

Alternate travel means tip: When you are travelling locally to multiple destinations, look for alternative transport means, if you have the time. For example, in some countries exchanging your two-hour flight for an overnight trip by bus or train will save you a lot more money.

Step 4: Look for Accommodation

If you are not averse to couch surfing or doing the odd home-sitting job, check some sites like House CarersCouchSurfing, Mind My House and  Home Exchange. There are plenty of interesting options other than the hotel+flight deals you may get on sites like Kayak (that searches through Orbitz, Priceline, and many more), Makemytrip, ChepoairGoogle and Travelocity to name a few. Accommodation at hostels and Bed-and-Breakfasts in many locations is far less expensive than hotels.

If you plan to travel during the non-peak season though, checking hotel prices is a good option.

 Step 5: Book your Fares

I recommend doing the actual booking of the flight on the airline site itself. You may find that the prices are slightly lower, plus in case of any last-minute changes it is easier to deal with an airline if you say that you booked from their website itself. Remember to use the currency conversion tip here as well.

Based on reports, it is best to make your booking on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening, as that is when tickets are supposedly priced at their lowest for the week. Remember the flight booking tip here as well.

According to the WSJ,

Rick Seaney, chief executive of FareCompare.com, studied three years worth of airline prices and concluded that 3 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday was the best time to buy.

If you are a student, you may have special concessions. This varies from airline-to-airline. Also, there is a lot said about airline miles. Though I am a novice, I can still say that it works. You have to remember that there are multiple ways of collecting miles in addition to actually travelling.

If you are staying at a hotel, don’t forget to check if you can avail a free upgrade. At worst they will say no, so there is no loss. This applies to anything, You Don’t Know Until You Ask.

Google Music Introduces Free Song Matching Feature in the US

Google-MusicGoogle Music hasn’t exactly set the world on fire as Google was hoping it would. However, there is no denying that it is a pretty neat service. It’s biggest selling point is perhaps the free digital locker that could store up to 20,000 songs in the cloud. Unfortunately, before you could use the digital locker, you had to manually upload your media library. Even with a conservative estimate of 5 MB per song, we are looking at 100 gigs of data transfer for 20,000 songs. Obviously, this could take a while.

The good news is that starting today, users won’t have to upload their library before being able to access it through the cloud. Thanks to the newly introduced song matching feature, Google will simply cross-reference song signatures before unlocking access to that song in the cloud. Google’s desktop app called Music Manager will take care of syncing songs from your PC to the cloud. This feature was available for European users for over a month, but was enabled for US users only a few hours back.

Google’s competition also boasts of a similar feature; however, Google is the only one to offer it for free. Apple charges $24.99 for iTunes Match services and stores up to 25,000 songs. Amazon’s Cloud Player Premium also charges the same amount, but it can store up to 250,000 songs. Amazon also offers a free version, which is limited to 250 songs.

The Scan and Match service has long been dubbed as a sin tax. Since none of the service providers attempt to validate the source of the music file, it’s assumed that a lot of the tracks in the users library are illegally sourced. Apple and Amazon pay out most of its subscription fee to publishers as a compensation. AllThingsD is reporting that Google also has a deal in place with record labels. However, instead of paying them on a per-user basis, it’s offering a hefty upfront payment.

HTC One X Successor Specs Leak; Includes 4.7-inch 1080p Display, 13MP Camera And More!

With Mobile World Congress just a few months away, rumors and news about HTC’s One X successor have started making an appearance on the Internet. @evleaks who is known for leaking information about unreleased devices has posted on UnwiredView, some of the specs about the One X’s successor, codename M7.

The M7 will sport a 4.7-inch display but with a whopping 1080p HD resolution. The display will be better than the SLCD2 display on the One X with better viewing angles, outdoor visibility and color accuracy. Internally, the M7 will be packing in a powerful 1.7GHz quad-core processor from Qualcomm, along with 2GB of RAM.

 

Like the One X, HTC will be marketing the M7 with the same tagline “Amazing Camera, Authentic Sound”. On the camera side, HTC will be using a 13MP sensor with F/2.0 and capable of recording videos in 1080p full HD. The camera on the front will be a 2MP wide-angle view like on the 8X. HTC will be retaining the Beats Audio branding on the M7, and will be using a dedicated Beats amplifier as featured on the HTC 8X.

The M7 will have the One X downsides – a sealed 2300mAh battery and “only” 32GB of internal storage. Apart from all the other usual features such as GPS, LTE, the M7 is also expected to boast support for the next-generation Wi-Fi standard – 802.11 ac. Considering that 802.11ac based Wi-Fi routers are not yet a commonplace, I doubt that the inclusion of a 802.11ac Wi-Fi chip on the M7 is true.

HTC is expected to unveil the successor to the One X at MWC in Barcelona next year.

Psy-Droid Easter Egg on Google Zeitgeist 2012 Page

2012 is coming to an end and it is time we look back and see what were the most happening events that took place around the word. Google’s 12th annual Year-End Zeitgeist gives an in-depth look at the “spirit of times” revealing some interesting facts, events, people, and media of 2012.

Here are some of the top trending searches of 2012:

  • Whitney Houston
  • Gangnam Style
  • Hurricane Sandy
  • iPad 3
  • Diablo 3
  • Kate Middleton
  • Olympics 2012
  • Amanda Todd
  • Michael Clarke Duncan
  • BBB12

Yet another interesting thing to notice is Psy-Droid Easter Egg on the Zeitgeist page. PSY’s “Gangnam Style” is currently the most viewed video (over 939 million times as of December 2012) on YouTube, surpassing Justin Bieber’s song “Baby.”

For this, Google has created a Psy-Droid animation, which does the Gangnam Style. To view it, go the Zeitgeist page and hover over the colored bars at the bottom-right of the page. You should see this:

Psy-Droid Google Zeitgeist 2012 Easter Egg

You can also see it in action here.

Zeitgeist 2012

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Uses of Gaming in the Contemporary World

Gaming is a phenomenon which is scoring big in the media industry. A lot of effort is being put into it with respect to design, development and time. It has become an area that is circulating a lot of money and more and more people are getting hooked on to playing games. Conventional wisdom tells us that gaming is fun. True that! However, gaming has moved beyond that and it is starting to have other uses than just entertaining people. For example, businesses are incorporating games into their marketing activities as a means to connect with consumers and potential consumers.

A recent example that backs up the former claim is a company that operates in the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) sector – Reckitt Benckiser (RB). It is a company which has traditionally dedicated its efforts to develop products for daily use. However, as part of its awareness drive, the company has sought refuge in gaming. The latest game it has incorporated in its awareness campaign is called Profile DeRBy. Essentially, it is a psychometric test based on statistical probability which aims to provide an understanding to people regarding what careers choices they should make. This includes students, university graduates and people who are seeking jobs in today’s fierce job market. The company’s blog states the game is “fun, a bit cheeky and creative. It is a profiling tool disguised as a game to provide practical feedback to such people” about their respective professional personalities. Check out this video:

The example above is clear substantiation of the fact that gaming is increasingly getting involved into more practical uses. It is turning into a critical marketing tool and an important consumer engagement driver. The dilemma that remains is what fate traditional marketing would adopt given the technological development.

If you are a hardcore gamer, you think you need to know your professional traits, Profile DeRBy is a good place to start.

Do let us know you results and overall thoughts in the comments section below!

How to Continue Using Google Apps for Free and Add New Domains

In an unexpected move, Google has stopped offering its Google Apps for Business for free as the Web giant is says that it is now ‘focusing on the quality of the business user’s experience.’ Although the move was unexpected, it wasn’t really shocking news for businesses at least as they are used to paying for services, and generally don’t go for free services.  Well, making Google Apps completely a premium service now makes sense.

For new users, individuals, small businesses, and entrepreneurs, Google Apps was certainly the first and default service for configuring email and other services, but they will lose the advantage of using the services for free now. However, existing users still have an opportunity to use Google Apps for free for new domains.

Google Apps for Free

This feature has been there for quite some time and continues to exist even after Google has made the Google Apps services completely premium. To create or add a new domain to your existing Google Apps account, follow the steps mentioned below:

Step 1: Sign in to your Google Apps account and navigate to the “Domain settings” option.
Step 2: Now, click on “Domain names” tab, and then “Add a domain or a domain alias” button.
Step 3: A pop-up box should open up. Select the “Add another domain” option and enter the new domain in the box provided. Click on the “Continue and verify domain ownership,” verify the domain (via META tag or file upload) and you are all set to use the new domain.

Google Apps for Free

The only thing that you need to keep in mind is that you can access the new domain’s Google Apps service settings from your existing (primary) account. Also, additional domains are subject to certain limitations:

You cannot set different policies or configuration settings for different domains. All settings in the Google Apps administrator control panel apply equally to all domains that are part of your account.

You can specify only one custom logo for your account. The same logo appears for users in all domains that are part of your account.

You can read all the limitations for multiple domains here.

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