The March of Time

China Daily. There was a time when the newsweeklies set the agenda for the nation’s conversation – when Time and Newsweek would digest the events of the week and US readers would wait by their mailboxes to see what was on the covers.

Those days have passed, and come the end of the year, the print edition of Newsweek will pass, too. Cause of death: The march of time.

“The tempo of the news and the Web have completely overtaken the news magazines,” said Stephen G. Smith, editor of the Washington Examiner and the holder of an unprecedented newsweekly triple crown – nation editor at Time, editor of US News and World Report, and executive editor of Newsweek from 1986 to 1991.

Where once readers were content to sit back and wait for tempered accounts of domestic and foreign events, they now can find much of what they need almost instantaneously on their smartphones and tablet computers. Where once advertisers had limited places to spend their dollars to reach national audiences, they now have seemingly unlimited alternatives.

So on Thursday, when Newsweek’s current owners announced they intended to halt print publication and expand the magazine’s Web presence, there was little surprise. But there was a good deal of nostalgia for what Smith called “the shared conversation that the nation used to have”, when the networks, the newsweeklies and a few national newspapers reigned.

Geek is New Hip

Cartoon via Webdesignerdepot.com

MarketWatch. With geeks and their lifestyles emerging as the new totems of coolness, marketers from a wide swath of companies are jumping on the trend for marketing opportunities, and there is perhaps no better target audience than the attendees at New York Comic Con.

The people drawn to New York Comic Con because of their fascination for Avengers, Spider-Man characters, and countless other creations “are people who are setting trends,” said Dan Buckley, president and publisher of print, digital and TV at Marvel, in an interview. “They are the early adopters of technology. These are the people who start things and make them hot.”

Getting the attention of trendsetters is crucial for these companies particularly in today’s digital world, where a tweet or a Facebook post can generate broad levels of interest. Companies are seeking to build loyalty with consumers who have myriad choices and have changed the way they purchase and spend their leisure time with smartphones and other mobile devices, analysts said.

Solomonic: Who owns the word ‘catholic’, ‘islam’, ‘bible’ online

Centuries-old theological disputes have broken out in cyberspace as religions aim to influence the future presentation of faith on the Internet.

The forum for the rivalry is not the pulpit or church bulletin, but the website of ICANN, the corporation that oversees the Internet address system and now wants to expand it beyond the usual .com, .org or .net domains.

When ICANN began accepting applications for new names early this year, bids came for extensions such as .catholic, .islam and .bible. Not far behind were critics who challenged many applicants’ right to monopolize those and other religious terms.

“I respectfully ask you not to award .bible to a bunch of hardcore Bible-thumpers,” wrote one critic of an application by the American Bible Society to manage that extension.

Questioning a Turkish IT company’s bid for the .islam domain, Fahd Batayneh of Jordan’s National Information Technology Centre asked how it could ensure no pornographers or Muslim extremists would use names with this ending?

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is accepting comments on these and other applications for another month and will then evaluate the bids for new extensions, known as top level domains (TLDs).

First results are due next summer. A group awarded a TLD can manage that domain exclusively, renting out addresses that use its extension and rejecting bids it considers unsuitable. Via Stuff NZ

“It’s absolutely the worst scenario for us”: Samsung

$1 billion judgment levied against Samsung for infringing on Apple’s patents reportedly has the South Korea company reeling. While Samsung executives weren’t optimistic about an overwhelming victory in a Silicon Valley courtroom last week, the one-sided decision loss apparently caught them by surprise.

It’s absolutely the worst scenario for us,” a senior Samsung executive told the Korea Times as he rushed into the company’s Seoul headquarters.

Since a jury in a San Jose, Calif., courtroom on Friday decided overwhelmingly in favor of Apple’s patent claims against Samsung, the Korea electronics giant has focused on the verdict’s effect on the smartphone market. The company called the awarding of $1.05 billion in damages to Apple “a loss for the American consumer” and promised that “this is not the final word in this case.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a companywide e-mail that the case was about “values.”

“For us this lawsuit has always been about something much more important than patents or money. It’s about values,”

From TechT@lk Read More Here

Access Blocked

A US State Department report notes how the revolutions of the Middle East have been aided by the Internet, but points to another trend occurring simultaneously: governments fighting the power of the Internet.

The department’s annual human rights report says governments around the world are “spending more time, money and attention in efforts to curtail access to these new communications outlets.”

It says more than 40 governments are blocking their citizens’ access to the Internet through regulatory restrictions and technologies “designed to repress speech and infringe on the personal privacy of those who use these rapidly evolving technologies.”

The report released Friday singles out countries such as Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Vietnam and China as egregious examples.

 

Via AP

Pentagon-Hearts-Twitter

Pentagon looks to make friends on Facebook

The importance and relevance of an effective social media presence has been highlighted by the Pentagon’s decision to re-evaluate their online strategy.

Douglas Wilson, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, has told Wired that while the military has ceased operations of the institution’s social media office, it views the platform as something that should be embraced by all Pentagon employees.

Former social networking experts hired by the Pentagon – Price Floyd and Sumit Agarwal – have left or been redeployed to another department respectively. Wilson commented that he views social media as an area that encompasses all aspects of the military.

He said: “It’s important for people in press operations, community and public outreach and communications and planning to be able to know how to use and access Facebook, Twitter and the other social media tools, rather than just have a single unit or single person do nothing but social media.”

Via E Word

Online games’ market set to explode

The gaming market is set to explode with Nintendo driving the other players. With its latest Nintendo 3DS, it is forcing the creators and publishers to up the ante. Four years ago, Nintendo did the same with the motion controlled Wii console. Sony followed with Playstation Move and Microsoft with Kinect. Going by the motion madness one would believe that it was these games that were exciting the players.

It is not so. The best games of 2010 are the ones you play the old fashioned way – on your controller in a chair. Reason is simple enough; the graphics, story lines and excitement offered by them are not matched by the Kinect games.

According to data compiled by NPD, a global research agency, and released by the Entertainment Software Association, about 20 million players have spent 17 billion hours on Xbox Live, which is more than 2 hours for every person on the planet.

Surprisingly, online gaming is somewhat equally divided between genders, at 58 percent male players and 42 percent female players. Some people are bold enough to predict that online gaming may just be the future.

The online gaming market is worth more than $15 billion, with a total of 40 million users who have registered PlayStation Network accounts. This is excluding XBox 360 and PC platform multiplayer games which would increase the numbers a lot.

Via International Business Times

PC World: Top 10 Stories 2010

Microsoft plays catch-up with Windows Phone 7

By November, when it started selling Windows Phone 7, Microsoft’s share of the booming smartphone market had shrunk to 2.8 percent. The company is not hurting for cash, but to keep up its current growth rate it badly needs a hit in the mobile phone market. Global mobile phone sales in the third quarter alone totaled 417 million, compared to a forecast 352 million for PC sales for the entire year, according to Gartner. The rapidly growing smartphone category accounts for about 20 percent of all mobile phone sales and in emerging markets more than 90 percent of 18- to 27-year-olds use mobile phones as their primary access to the Internet. WP7 differentiates itself from rival OS by categorizing applications, services and Web content under hubs, and Office integration will be important for professionals. But with sales of iPhones and Android devices booming, and RIM’s BlackBerry a favorite for corporate users, Microsoft has an uphill battle.

Verizon launches LTE network — 4G or not, it’s next generation

Verizon Wireless’s launch this month of its high-speed LTE (Long Term Evolution) network in 38 U.S. cities capped a year in which long-planned, next-generation wireless networks around the world became a reality. Verizon laid claim to offering the first significant nationwide LTE network but was beaten to market by regional provider MetroPCS in the U.S., where it also battles Wi-Max and HSPA+ networks. Globally, in the last month alone Vodafone in Germany, Telenor and Tele2 in Sweden and NTT DoCoMo in Japan announced pricing for LTE services. Meanwhile, the ITU declared that the only technologies that qualify as 4G are an upcoming version of LTE called LTE-Advanced, and the next generation of WiMax known as IEEE 802.16m or WirelessMAN-Advanced. But both LTE and WiMax, unlike current cellular networks, are end-to-end IP networks. LTE, Wi-Max and HSPA networks advertise download speeds starting at 3M bps (bits per second) to 5M bps, further fueling the global mobile revolution.

HP ousts Hurd as boardroom soap opera continues

HP shocked the IT world at the beginning of August by announcing that CEO and Chairman Mark Hurd had resigned, following an investigation into claims that he sexually harassed a former contractor to the company. Hurd did not break HP’s sexual harassment policy but he did violate standards of conduct in his expense report filings (reportedly for charges incurred while working with the female contractor in question). Hurd took the helm at HP after the board fired Carly Fiorina in 2005 for failing to capitalize on her acquisition of Compaq. Hurd led HP to edge out IBM as the world’ largest IT company. Hurd had been delivering great results but apparently his slash-and burn methods of curbing costs made enemies. To replace Hurd, HP named Leo Apotheker, who had been forced out SAP in February after the ERP maker stumbled during its move to cloud technology. But supporters say Apotheker is a good choice to lead HP as it beefs up its software offerings in order to provide the one-stop-shop sort of services necessary to stay on top of competitors like IBM, Oracle and Dell.

Google in China: A geopolitical thriller

The saga of Google in China this year shows what can happen when the irresistible force of the Internet meets the immovable object of a paranoid state bureaucracy. Google in January declared that a “highly sophisticated and targeted attack” on its infrastructure, coming from China and possibly involving employees, had resulted in some of its intellectual property being stolen. Google, which decided to stop censoring search results in China, said the December attack on its servers had targeted the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. In March, Google began automatically redirecting Internet traffic from its Chinese site to its site in Hong Kong, which provides uncensored search results. The move angered Chinese officials and threatened to derail the renewal of the company’s operating license. To win over Chinese officials, rather than redirecting traffic automatically, Google decided to send visitors to a “landing page” with limited services, from where they can choose to click on a link leading to the Hong Kong site. The compromise resulted in the renewal of Google’s license. Intellectual property rights and the battle over access to data, however, are issues that will no doubt continue to shade relations between Western companies and the Chinese government.

Stuxnet: Industrial systems under attack

Security experts have been warning for years that industrial systems could be hit hard by a cyberattack. This year it finally happened, with the discovery of the first worm written specifically to disrupt large-scale industrial systems. Stuxnet first looked like it was created to steal industrial secrets. But in September researchers said the worm was probably built to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program. One expert, noting that Stuxnet looks for specific Siemens settings on Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) devices, said it was probably targeting the Bushehr nuclear reactor. At the end of November, Iranian President  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad acknowledged that Stuxnet had created problems for some of the country’s nuclear centrifuges. The success of Stuxnet  helps insure that the first worm that targeted industrial systems is not the last.

International teamwork breaks up Zeus botnet crime ring

Over the course of several days starting at the end of September, authorities in the U.K., the U.S. and the Ukraine arrested more than 100 people involved in a criminal ring that exploited the Zeus botnet. The Zeus Trojan horse program uses keystroke logging to steal online banking information. The crime ring utilized the Trojan to rake in more than US$200 million, police say. Those arrested in the Ukraine were supposedly the technical brains behind the gang. Those in the U.S. and U.K. were charged with creating bank accounts with fake passports and false names as well as receiving money transfers from victims’ accounts. The Zeus arrests show that international cooperation will be needed to fight international gangs of online scammers. Later in October a take-down operation conducted by Dutch police, security experts and Armenian authorities resulted in arrests to break up a gang running the Bredolab botnet, a massive generator of spam.

Google Street View feeds privacy debate

In May, Google acknowledged that it had inadvertently recorded Web traffic data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks. The data had been transmitted by Google’s Street View cars as they prowled cities and towns, taking pictures used by services such as Google Maps. The Street View cars were supposed to record SSIDs, or Wi-Fi network names, as well unique MAC addresses but also ended up logging email and Web sites users were visiting. The admission sparked outrage in the U.S , Europe and Asia. Private lawsuits were filed in jurisdictions in California, Washington, D.C., Oregon, Illinois, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Investigations were also launched by government authorities in the U.S., France, Germany, the U.K., Italy and France. The brouhaha caused Google to delay the launch of Street View services in some cities. With the privacy and online data security practices of other online giants, such as Facebook, also coming under public scrutiny, regulatory authorities are bound to keep a watchful eye on their next steps.

China claims supercomputer crown

China unveiled at the end of October a supercomputer incorporating thousands of graphics chips and capable of achieving a sustained performance of 2.5 petaflops. In mid-November, the Top500 list of supercomputers made it official: China’s Tianhe-1A topped the list. Placing second was the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility’s Jaguar system, reported to run at 1.75 petaflops. The race to the next level of supercomputing is on, with China declaring it will build by 2015 at least one system capable of 50 to 100 petaflops, and between 2016 and 2020 will build an exascale system (an exaflop is thousands times faster than a petaflop). The U.S. has made initial steps in exascale funding but has not reserved funds specifically for work to begin.

The tech sector bounces back

After getting off to a good start for the year, tech stocks slumped for most of the third quarter as fears of a double-dip recession dampened investor confidence. But IT companies, reporting strong sales especially to businesses, started to lead markets after the U.S. Labor Day holiday at the beginning of September. Apple and Intel, for example, reported record revenue and profit, while Microsoft announced it had the most sales ever for its first fiscal quarter. By November tech shares were back up to where they were two years ago when Wall Street crashed in the wake of Lehman Brother’ collapse. Acquisitions highlighted a dynamic market in which cash-rich vendors are willing to spend top dollar to broaden their portfolio of services. Multibillion dollar deals included: Intel’s purchase of McAfee for $7.68 billion; HP’s $1.5 billion purchase of security vendor ArcSight and its $2.35 deal for 3Par; and IBM’s $1.7 billion acquisition of Netezza. Now the question is whether the job market will improve enough to spur consumer IT spending back to pre-recession levels.

List from PC World

Asia Surpasses Western Europe’s Adspend, Online Spending Set To Grow 37%

The medium with the best prospects remains the internet, which is expected to grow 48% to $91.5bn in 2013.

Asia-Pacific will overtake Western Europe in advertising expenditure this year, while China is soon to leapfrog Germany, according to the latest global forecast from ZenithOptimedia.

Zenith estimates $104.2bn will have been spent in Western Europe over 2010, compared to $106bn in Asia-Pacific (which includes Japan).

It estimates Western Europe will grow by 10% between 2010 and 2013, while Asia Pacific will grow 23%.

At a global level, adspend will grow 15.8% over the same period, from $450bn to $520.8bn.

China’s continuing ascendancy will result in more than 50% growth from $22.6bn in 2010, to $34.2bn in 2013.

Having already overtaken the UK, it will leapfrog the $24.6bn German market in 2011, taking third place after Japan and the US.

The UK is forecast to hold on to its position as the fifth-largest market until 2013, but will be challenged by Brazil.

Brazil will grow to $18.7bn in 2013 from $14.2bn in 2010, while the UK will grow to $19.7bn from $18bn.

Via Campaign

Online Spending

Online is set to deliver 37% of growth next year as revenues hit $82bn, compared with newspapers’ $90bn, supplanting press in second position behind television in 2012.

“Internet spending may indeed already have eclipsed newspapers if one allows that measured internet ad investment does not include substantial advertiser investment in content creation, search-engine optimisation and analysis,” said Adam Smith, GroupM’s futures director.

Via Warc.com

UK Online Shops Worth £408bn

The value of UK ecommerce transactions hit £408bn in 2009, excluding non-financial transactions, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed on Friday.

This was almost 25% up on 2008, and represented 16.7% of all sales outside the financial sector, the ONS said.

Sales from websites rose 23.6% to £115bn, while the value of non-web online transactions (eg EDI) hit £293bn, 12% of all non-financial sales, it said.

The ONS, which compiled the figures from companies with more than 10 staff, said 76% had a website, but only 14.9% sold goods through it.

However, almost 52% (2008: 33%) used online networks to buy goods and services worth a total £466.3bn.

The ONS said just over 91% of businesses had internet access, and 87.4% connected using a broadband link. More than one-third (36.8%) used a 3G mobile connection. Some 6.8 million workers have internet access at work.

Via Computer Weekly (UK)

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New research has shown that one in six online retail visits in the UK results in a purchase.

The study, conducted by Nielsen, reveals that some 16 per cent of all visits to a retail site ended in a purchase in August of this year – which totals 89 million transactions.

Conducting the research on the UK’s top 200 ecommerce sites, Nielsen’s study showed that the UK’s main reason for shopping online rather than on the high street was saving money.

However, other highly-rated reasons were being able to avoid dealing with sales staff, cited by 29 per cent of respondents, as well as 32 per cent favouring being able to shop without being restricted by opening hours.

Meanwhile, electronic goods were found to be “the most lucrative ecommerce category”.

Via Direct News

Europe’s Three Monkeys

"I used to think that there was no net neutrality problem in Europe until at every meeting I went to on the subject I heard people saying there was no problem, which always makes me suspicious."

A UK academic has called on the European Commission and regulators to apply closer scrutiny before accepting industry points of view in the net neutrality debate.

The Open Internet and Net Neutrality in Europe summit taking place in Brussels today follows the closure of the EU consultation on net neutrality.

The consensus of the consultation was that net neutrality was important, but that it didn’t necessarily need regulating as current rules were effective enough to keep the internet an open environment.

However, the vast majority of the responses to the consultation came from businesses and trade bodies, leading to scepticism from Dr Chris Marsden from the Essex University School of Law.

Marsden was the only speaker at the summit that didn’t represent a regulator, a communications company – such as Cisco, AT&T or Skype, who were all present – or a trade body.

“There are three wise monkeys on net neutrality that are seeing no evil, hearing no evil and speaking no evil – and I think you might have heard from many of them today,” Marsden said.

“I used to think that there was no net neutrality problem in Europe until at every meeting I went to on the subject I heard people saying there was no problem, which always makes me suspicious.”

Via PC Pro

UK Loves e-Commerce

Growth in the UK 'faster than expected', whilst in the Eurozone online Christmas shopping sales look set to rise by 25.1 per cent.

An estimate that the British ecommerce sector will grow by ten per cent a year is a low one, according to one expert.

Commenting on a recent Boston Consulting Group report suggesting that the UK’s online economy was worth £100 billion last year, IMRG managing director David Smith said actual ecommerce activity indicates the sector could grow to be worth much more.

“If you look at the ecommerce market and the way in which various government organisations are moving towards doing transactions online, ten per cent growth will be a conservative estimate,” he remarked.

Mr Smith said that half of Britons book their holidays online, while over 60 per cent conduct online banking activities – and so when these figures are added to the internet economy’s value, growth is likely to be much higher than Boston Consulting Group’s prediction.

Via myHermes Newsletter

UK Gov Mulls Copyright Relaxation

The UK Government will update copyright laws to make them suitable for the internet age, Prime Minister David Cameron announced.

Proposed changes will bring relaxations in the copyright laws to allow wider use of copyright material without the need to seek prior permission of the copyright owner.

During his speech at an event in the East End of London, Mr. Cameron said that copyright system in the UK is not as friendly to innovation as it is in the US.

Speaking on the topic, he said, “Over there, they have what are called ‘fair-use’ provisions, which some people believe gives companies more breathing space to create new products and services.”

Internet-based businesses will be able to avoid costs associated with obtaining a copyright owner’s permission to use material.

 

Via Top News

WTH: UK Ecommerce ‘Bigger Than Transportation or Construction’ Industries

Britain has become a “nation of digital shopkeepers”, with the internet industry as a whole now the fifth-largest contributor to gross domestic product, according to a report.

The Boston Consulting Group, commissioned by Google, found that domestic online shopping, broadband access and net exports of digital goods and services made up 7.2 per cent of UK GDP – ahead of the construction, education and transport industries.

About half of that sum is generated by e-commerce activity. While the UK lacks a homegrown online retail giant on the scale of Amazon or Ebay, BCG found that a multitude of small and medium-sized businesses are taking advantage of online distribution.

Examples cited by the report include UK Tights, which sells 23,000 varieties of hosiery; Wiggly Wigglers, a Herefordshire retailer of composting worms; and Mind Candy, creators of the Moshi Monsters online game, played by almost 30m children in 150 countries.

BCG found that companies making the greatest use of the web for sales and marketing grew at an average of 4.1 per cent annually over the last three years. Lower web users grew 0.6 per cent a year.

“Many SMEs report that they would not exist without the internet,” said Paul Zwillenberg, partner at BCG and one of the report’s authors. “You might expect a lot of Silicon Valley-type venture capital backing to be driving some of these businesses, but it’s absolutely not the case.”

It is these small companies that are the engine of the UK’s digital economy, which BCG expects to grow at 10 per cent a year for the next five years – reaching 10 per cent of GDP by 2015.

Via FT

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We already know that the UK is a world leader when it comes to buying things with their phones, but a new study points to the connection between spending and digital communications being indicative of consumer habits in the UK as a whole. The study, commissioned by Google and undertaken by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), shows that the UK has the world’s highest online spending per capita, totalling up to a value of 100 billion British pounds or 7.2% of Britains GDP. According to the Guadian, this makes ecommerce a bigger part of their economy than utilities, transportation, or construction. Online advertising is also extremely lucrative and far-reaching, with the U.K.’s online advertising market being second only to the United States’.

Via Zippycart

Warcraft, The Chinese Metaphor?

(For the original article, please check the China Law Blog. The link is here.)

When I served on a China panel at Berkeley last month, I met Dan Maas, who asked me for my thoughts on what had been happening to the World of Warcraft online game in China. It took me about fifteen seconds to figure out Dan knew far more about what was happening on that front than I did. I was fascinated by what he was telling me and I asked him to write a post on it. What so interested me was that what was happening to World of Warcraft was what so often happens to smaller foreign companies in China that operate in industries in which the Chinese government would prefer not to see foreign companies. It also nicely encapsulates how China’s government (or at least some of its agencies) will employ the law to provide cover/favor to foreign companies. Lastly, it illustrates something we are always saying here and that is that securing approval of one governmental entity in China to do something does not necessarily mean you are free and clear. For more on that, check out “Floating Houses, Conflicting Laws, And Really Nice Governmental Officials. China Law Practice Writ Large.”

China generally considers online gaming to constitute publishing and foreign companies are not allowed to go into China publishing solo. This means foreign companies wanting to engage in publishing in China must partner with a Chinese entity, which as the following so nicely points out, can itself create issues.

First, a bit about Dan Maas: Dan founded an Emmy Award-winning special effects company, Maas Digital, whose projects have included creating photorealistic 3D animation for the Disney IMAX documentary “Roving Mars,” and developing production technology for the upcoming 3D adventure film “Quantum Quest,” starring Samuel Jackson and William Shatner. Dan speaks and writes fluent Mandarin and spent two years consulting for an animation studio in Taipei, Taiwan. He is currently pursuing an MBA at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and he seeks “to continue pushing the envelope of film and interactive gaming technology, particularly in Asia, after graduation”

Second, here’s Dan’s Post:

China has become a major battleground in the online gaming market. Chinese players make up over half the customer base of the world’s most successful subscription-based online game, World of Warcraft (WoW) by US developer Blizzard Entertainment, which alone pulls in over $1 billion in annual revenue. WoW faces fierce competition in China from locally-developed games such as Kingsoft’s JX Online series and other imported titles like Aion Online from Korean developer NCSoft.

China is a uniquely challenging market for foreign online game companies because government regulations require foreign games to be licensed through local Chinese operators, rather than offered directly by the developer. Friction between government regulators, overseas developers, and Chinese licensees can have a huge impact on the competitive landscape. For example, Blizzard suffered a harsh setback last year when WoW was knocked off-line for several months amidst a license dispute and unexpected regulatory shifts.

Blizzard had successfully brought WoW into the Chinese market in 2005 through a license agreement with local game developer The9. The relationship turned sour last summer when negotiations to renew the license bogged down in a dispute over division of profits. Blizzard ultimately decided to terminate The9’s license and shift WoW’s China operations to another local company, NetEase. (The9 responded acrimoniously, filing suit against Blizzard and announcing development of its own sword-and-sorcery game called “World of Fight”). WoW was knocked off-line for over three months during the transition, leaving a gigantic vacuum in the market which competitors rushed to fill. Kingsoft, Shanda, and other gaming companies stepped up promotional efforts to lure former WoW players to their own games. Blizzard previously had the upper hand in China thanks to its comparatively ample resources and high production values — but for the moment, it was knocked out of contention.

Related: WoTLK Receives China Approval, China Tightens Rule On Net Gaming, BC Comes To China

Aussies Flood Online Stores As Dollar Close To Parity

 

Online shoppers take advantage of Aussie dollar's 28-year high

 

Online retailers say they have been inundated since the Australian dollar surpassed the US99c mark, at 99.2c, on Thursday night.

eBay Australia spokeswoman Jenny Thomas said almost half of the products bought from the website are from other countries.

“There’s been a steady rise in buys from overseas in the past 18 months and in the last week alone there’s been a surge of hits,” she said.

University of New South Wales consumer expert Frank Zumbo said retailers would feel pressure from their online counterparts offering cheaper products from other shores.

“People recognise that buying directly over the internet means you get the immed- iate benefit, you’re paying with your credit card and getting those instant savings,” he said.

“The pressure will be on local retailers to pass on the savings sooner, rather than later. If not they’ll miss out on sales.”

While banks charge fees for foreign currency transactions, credit card purchases are exchanged at the interbank exchange rate.

Thursday’s Aussie dollar level was the strongest since the August 3, 1982, high of US99.53c and economists predict this rate could rise even further.

Via Adelaide Now

Canada’s $15 Bil e-Shopping Market

 

In 2009, Canadians bought more than $15 billion worth of goods and services online.

 

Roughly 39% of Canadians aged 16 and older shopped online in 2009, buying more than $15 billion worth of goods and services, Statistics Canada found. That’s up from the 32% who spent $12.8 billion in 2007.

But in a sign that Canadians are becoming more cost-conscious, average transaction prices actually fell to $158 in 2009 from $183 in 2007, the last time the study was conducted.

“We suspect there’s a few factors involved in that. One is the economic downturn,” StatsCan’s Larry McKeown told QMI Agency Monday.

In 2009, overall retail sales fell 2.5% and most the decline was in discretionary items.

McKeown also said young people who have grown up with the Internet are just entering their income earning years and are more comfortable using the web to purchase inexpensive everyday items.

Ninety-nine cent music sales on iTunes is a good example, he said. Roughly 26% of online shoppers reported buying music online last year, up from 22% in 2007, and that number is likely higher among younger shoppers

In general, younger people are more inclined to shop online. The percentage of people between the ages of 16 and 34 who shop online jumped from 39% to 51%.

In a bonus for retailers, though, online shopping doesn’t seem to be coming entirely at the expense of bricks and mortar outlets.

“The Internet complements traditional retail for certain categories such as consumer electronics, appliances and furniture, as well as clothing, jewellery and accessories,” StatsCan said.

Via Toronto Sun

Online Gamers In China Up 41.5 Percent

According to China newspaper Xinhua, a report by a publication of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences says that, “Chinese are living a lifestyle in which the Internet has become a preferred channel for them to purchase goods, seek entertainment and acquire information.”

The numbers that the report provides certainly support this. The report says that China had 265 million online game users (or at least registered accounts) by the end of 2009, up 41.5% year-on-year from 2008, and had 108 million online shoppers by the end of last year, up 45.9% from 2008.

China had 420 million online users overall as of June 30, and had 384 million at the end of 2009, which would mean that 69% of China’s Internet users at the end of 2009 were playing games online and 28% of the online population in China made online purchases.

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The world internet users barrier broke the two billion user setpoint in 2010 but the Chinese market represents over 20% of the total global internet users.

The online connections on the mainland are north of 420 million users. But what is exceptional is that the mainland online users represent  31% of the population are connected to the world wide web. Apart from the exceptional number of users the Chinese authorities have implemented a very advanced internet service and over 98% of users are serviced with broadband, but the width is a problem and connection speeds average 857kbps much slower than in the USA, South  Korea and Japan. Also in need of further development are IP addresses as China has only 250 million IPv4 connections. China has the ongoing problem of installing the network infrastructure digital backbone that can support and keep up with the supply demand

Via TNW Asia, Shutter Voice

Twitter Nations And The Social Media Phenomena

In days of yore when it was believed the Earth was the center of the Universe, it was a harsh reality when we learned we were only one of many planets that circled the sun. Today, the same could be said for the U.S. and Americans’ belief that we generate more interaction on social media channels than the rest of the world.

Fact is, while the U.S. is one of the world’s top Twitter nations garnering 25 percent of the world’s tweets, it falls significantly below Asia as a region. According to a recent Semiocast study, users in Asia, mainly located in Japan, Indonesia and South Korea account for 37 percent of all tweets out of 2.9 million messages tracked.  And while Asia is showing growth from March to June in 2010, North America as an aggregate is declining.

The figures broken down by regions are: Asia 37% up from 31.5% three months ago, North America 31% down from 36%, South America stable at 15%, Europe 14% down from 15%, Africa 1.5% up from 1%, Oceania stable at 1.5%. This study follows the United Nations statistic division’s classification, and therefore Indonesia is counted in Asia.

Channelnewsasia.com supported these stats by reporting that “Asians are muscling their way into traditionally Western-dominated social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Internet blogs, prompting major players to sit up and take notice.”

Not one to not take advantage of a burgeoning market, Mark Zuckerberg has launched a Facebook Blake ChandleeBlake ChandleeAsian sales office in Singapore this month in order to capitalize on selling ads to companies in the region. “The Asian market’s a very, very big market for us,” said Blake Chandlee, Facebook’s commercial director for regions outside North America and western Europe. “It’s an enormous opportunity for us.”

With China’s censorship restrictions of Facebook and Twitter it seems odd that Asia would be the fastest-growing region among the network’s geographical demographics. Yet a report in July from the Nielsen research firm noted that “while the U.S. pioneered much of the early Web 2.0 and social media innovation, Asia is playing no small role in shaping – and in some cases – leading – the new social media landscape.”

However, the increase in usage by Asian netizens is due in large part to the populations of these countries. China alone at 1.35 billion people has produced 221 million bloggers or more than twice the number in the United States.

Global Web Traffic Up

More people are going online every year. TeleGeography’s Internet Geography study shows that international Web traffic increased by 62 percent in 2010. Although less than the 74 percent spike in activity seen in 2009, it’s consistent with the positive growth the past few years have seen.

Traffic grew the fastest in developing markets like Eastern Europe, India, and South Asia. Traffic increased in these regions by more than 100 percent, while growth in the Middle East was just under that rate.

Growth, however, is not limited to newer markets. The U.S. and Canada had 54 percent growth. But a disparity in the amount of available bandwidth exists between these mature markets and the countries where the Internet is a newer frontier. According to the study, international carriers added 13.2 terabytes per second of capacity in 2010, compared to 9.4 Tbps in 2009.

Via PC Mag

Nationwide WiMax Coverage By 2011 In South Korea

SEOUL — South Korea will be the first country with nationwide WiMax coverage.

Intel and Korea Telecom have already teamed to roll out WiMax-based high-speed Internet service in Seoul, Inchon and Suwon.

But beginning tomorrow, five more cities will be added to their initiative — Busan, Daegu, Gwangju, Daejeon and Ulsan, as well as the expressways of Gyeongbu, Jungbu, Honam and Yeongdong. And more are on the way.

With its initiative completed in March, WiMax service in Korea, all told, will cover 82 cities, or 85 percent of the total population.

“Just like a seamless transportation network requiring expressways, railroads, and aviation, Korea Telecom will develop a 3W network with Wibro, Wi-Fi, and WCDMA technologies complementing each other to make Korea the world’s best mobile wonderland,” Korea Telecom CEO Suk-chae Lee said in a statement.

Via XBiz

CRIME: Fake Phone Scams Targeting PC Users

"This is all just a scam. Microsoft has confirmed they are not cold-calling members of the community regarding viruses, computer problems or any other issue."

Lancashire County Council’s trading standards department has warned around 80 homes in the north of the county have received phone calls from someone claiming to have spotted a computer virus.

The caller claims to be from Microsoft and takes them through a variety of instructions before tricking them into giving their bank details.

———————————

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs advises people to be wary of a phone scam in which people are tricked into giving strangers access to their home computers.

The ministry says it has received numerous reports from people who have had cold calls from companies claiming to be able to clear their computer of a virus.

It says those who have been a victim of the scam report that the companies get remote access to the computer, and convince them there are costly problems that need to be fixed.

Consumer Affairs says while there are some legitimate companies who specialise in fixing computers, people should always be wary of giving their PC details over the phone.

———————————

Queensland Police has warned of a surge in fake Microsoft phone scams targeting home computer users in the state.

The scam occurs via a phone call from a person claiming to represent a well-known computer company, commonly associated with Microsoft, who claims the victim’s computer is infected by a virus and offers a fix.

The victim is then directed to a website that enables the scammer to control the victim’s computer and cause fake problems to appear, which can be rectified for a fee, or with a software purchase.

Fraud and corporate crime group detective superintendent Brian Hay said attackers will also load malware or trojans onto the victim’s computer.

“This is all just a scam. Microsoft has confirmed they are not cold-calling members of the community regarding viruses, computer problems or any other issue,” Hay said.

Via Lancashire Evening Post, Radio NZ, ZDNet

Net Neutrality By Demand?

 

 

Does net neutrality prevent ISPs from managing their networks? Does it mean that an ISP cannot favor some traffic over other traffic? Does it mean that some towns or homes, perhaps in rural areas, are guaranteed equal access to networks available in more heavily populated or wealthy areas?

 

The term network neutrality has been used lately to refer to a number of different ideas. One is that networks should be operated without any protocol filtering. Another is that the one and only business model for an ISP is one in which there is a flat fee for unlimited access at the specified line rate. And still another is that networks should be available to all, equally, regardless of their geographic location. There may even be more ideas wedged uncomfortably into this single term’s common use.

The term network neutrality has been used lately to refer to a number of different ideas. One is that networks should be operated without any protocol filtering. Another is that the one and only business model for an ISP is one in which there is a flat fee for unlimited access at the specified line rate. And still another is that networks should be available to all, equally, regardless of their geographic location. There may even be more ideas wedged uncomfortably into this single term’s common use.

No wonder we’re fighting!

So, does net neutrality prevent ISPs from managing their networks? Does it mean that an ISP cannot favor some traffic over other traffic? Does it mean that some towns or homes, perhaps in rural areas, are guaranteed equal access to networks available in more heavily populated or wealthy areas?

First, I don’t know anybody who argues that an ISP cannot manage its network. Monitoring for things such as link utilization and how heavily taxed packet forwarding components (routers) are over time is a normal part of operating any large network. Responding to problems found in such monitoring by adding capacity, upgrading software, or even re-designing networks, all are normal parts of network management.

The real touchy point, when it comes to network management, is whether an ISP can decide that some application traffic does not get the ‘hands-off’ treatment that the user expects — that the ISP can instead slow some traffic down or stealthily terminate some sessions based on the application protocol or the user involved, in the interest of keeping resources more available to all. If the ISP does this without transparency to its users, that isn’t network management. It’s false advertising.

Congress punts net neutrality back to FCC

Then there’s the subject of whether net neutrality allows for a business model in which some traffic is expedited. Those who oppose net neutrality because it would appear to preclude differentiated services are combining two issues in an odd way. Though I think the dishonest favoring described in the previous paragraph is ultimately a problem for users and for the development of new network services, I believe that expedited network traffic handling as a business arrangement, articulated in a service offering and an SLA and available to anyone willing to pay for it, can be a reasonable and fair business model.

Bandwidth and the consumer

The ISPs have traditionally operated more as bandwidth providers than as content providers (though some clearly want to play in both spaces going forward). The business model of being a bandwidth provider has its real challenges. There are ISP costs that really do scale with user load, but also a user community that much prefers flat-rate pricing to usage-based pricing. And as these users become consumers and producers of more rich media, global IP traffic is growing rapidly while ISPs revenue, linked more closely with the number of users, is now growing much more slowly.

ISPs naturally want their network investments to serve large communities in a cost effective way, and so count on significant statistical multiplexing. Many ISPs become concerned, quite reasonably, when network use by small numbers of resource-hungry users account for more than their ‘share’ of the finite resource, while the users maintain the reasonable belief that they paid for a certain amount of access bandwidth and just want to make full use of it some of the time.

In their bandwidth-provider role, ISPs have paid much attention in recent years to “file sharing” applications and users, and the response has sometimes been to manage their network to limit such use, despite not being crystal clear to their users that this is what they do. This part of the argument often gets emotional, probably in part because of the perception of illegal or immoral use of the network, and also because there are third parties who have financial interests in some of the content being shared and they are motivated to apply legal pressures. But from a strict capacity standpoint, it’s still really just a matter of finite resources and significant diversity in demand.

Can’t the users just select the ISP who will treat their traffic as they expect? Unfortunately, time has shown that the market is not organically providing this solution, at least in the consumer area.

Many neighborhoods and regions cannot support two or more bandwidth providers competing on the strength of service and price, given the investments required to operate. Providers recognize this and either select their areas of operation accordingly or “compete” only half-heartedly in some spaces. Perhaps this situation will improve over time when high bandwidth wireless options become more available as an alternative, but I’m not holding my breath.

Bandwidth and the content providers

In other cases, bandwidth providers are looking closely at legitimate content providers — businesses whose services have become popular enough to account for larger percentages of traffic on a network. These might be media companies streaming television or movie content, or gaming services supporting Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG).  In these cases, we are seeing increased interest in additional charges on the content providers — but these content providers also have the reasonable belief that they paid for a certain amount of access bandwidth and just want to make full use of it (but perhaps more than “some of the time”).

It’s important to recognize that while the content provider’s network access will be provided by one set of ISPs, those accessing the service are likely using many other ISPs. The content, though, will travel over both networks (and likely some others in between). All of those ISP networks feel that strain. And all want to know whether there isn’t some new arrangement that can help them to cover their costs.

The response to these problems so far has been wars of words, clumsy technical responses, and poorly informed false starts in regulatory bodies. But there are real issues and they deserve serious handling.

A service I would pay for

To the ISPs, my input is please don’t “manage” your network by trying to decide which application protocols are good and which are bad, or under what conditions I can no longer use the bandwidth I think I paid to have available. If your network needs that kind of management, that should be a very clearly articulated part of the service offering. Tell users, in the form of an SLA, what the expected use is in straightforward terms. Perhaps that would involve not only access bandwidth numbers, but also permitted frequency of heavier use or even which specific protocols you will not always tolerate. Better yet, respond to conditions of congestion as a capacity problem, and in a protocol neutral way if possible.

I think I can describe what I personally want as a consumer. I don’t think I need full line rate 24/7. But when I want major bandwidth infrequently, I want to know that the bandwidth is there without limitations not previously expressed to me. I want to know that the application protocols I use are up to the end stations that make up the connection, not the hops in between. I want to know that there are no artificial barriers to my using that bandwidth, artificially ‘smoothing’ my packet rates, re- setting TCP sessions, or changing IP addresses through NAT that might break some application protocols.

If I’m unlucky enough to be asking for network resources when others have already grabbed it, I lose at that moment — and I’m OK with that. To me, this is a lot like when I try for city street parking. If I get there and there are no available spaces, I understand. But I don’t want to drive down the street and see dozens of empty parking spaces that I cannot use because I’ve already parked a few times earlier this month or because my car is the wrong color.

Here are a few options for network service level agreements that I think many of us, whether individuals or businesses, could understand and live with:

* Bandwidth is bandwidth is bandwidth. An access bandwidth is provided, and best effort service is provided. Any minimal filtering that’s done is described in plain English. Example: 10Mbps service, best effort, all protocols and ports permitted except port 25 is blocked in an effort to reduce spam.

* Managed bandwidth. An access bandwidth is provided, but the consumer or corporation can expect some bandwidth limits to be imposed. Example: 100Mbps service, best effort, all protocols and ports permitted except port 25 is blocked in an effort to reduce spam. No more than 2GB per calendar week, Sunday through Saturday. Charges beyond 2GB may apply.

* Differentiated/expedited services. This one is more complex. It’s like “bandwidth is bandwidth”, but you can mark some small percentage of your traffic as priority, and the ISP will expedite handling at congested points in its own network. No guarantee beyond the ISP network. Example: 100Mbps service, best effort, all protocols and ports permitted except port 25 is blocked in an effort to reduce spam. Up to 10% of all packets offered per hour can be marked for expedited handling. Beyond 10%, charges may apply or markings may be ignored.

In that last case, a clear concern is that special handling probably ends when the traffic leaves the ISP network with which the user has the business arrangement. When these ideas were first seriously considered about a decade ago some of us imagined that initially the service would only apply in that limited scope. Later there could be ISP alliances in which their service models and terminology matched, and still later, there might be more complex peering arrangements, with or without settlements, that would allow expedited handling to be preserved as traffic crossed network boundaries. None of this materialized at the time, which I’ve taken to mean that adequate demand from the businesses of the time did not exist. Perhaps it exists now as more voice and video and online game services have come to the network.

Many additional SLAs, clear and simple and able to meet real user goals, are possible.

My preference is to solve most of these resource scarcity problems with big bandwidth when possible. If it isn’t always possible, some network complexity is a necessity, but I think it should be accompanied by clear and understandable terms of service. If I have to “pick sides”, I’m in favor of net neutrality. But unlike some zealots, there’s room in my understanding to allow for tiered services and expedited services if done in a fair, approachable, clear way, available to all.

Via Computerworld (Norway)

Childish Prank Is Now DoJ’s Nightmare

The U.S. Department of Justice said it may have been the most sophisticated computer fraud ever. For Viktor Pleshchuk, it was the chance to buy a brand new BMW and an apartment in his hometown of St. Petersburg.

The 29-year-old last month pleaded guilty to participating in a worldwide hacking scheme that led to the illegal withdrawal of more than $9 million from cash machines worldwide operated by RBS WorldPay Inc., the U.S. payment-processing division of Britain’s Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc.

The conviction shed light on a growing trend from Russia. Just as President Dmitry Medvedev seeks to persuade investors his country is a safe place, more technology graduates are turning to cybercrime. The FBI last week charged 37 suspects from Russia, Ukraine and other eastern European countries of using a computer virus to hack into U.S. bank accounts.

“The number of hackers reflects how many good engineers we potentially have in this country,” Vladimir Dolgov, the president of Google Inc. in Russia, said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Moscow.

Russians committed more than 17,500 computer-related crimes last year, or 25 percent more than in 2008, according to the Interior Ministry’s latest statistics.

‘Childish Prank’

While cybercrime is proliferating, Russian laws against it were written in 1998, when hacking was often perceived as a “childish prank,” Boris Miroshnikov, the head of the ministry’s anti-cybercrime department, said in a report posted on the agency’s website.

A ministry spokeswoman said the department has advised Russian lawmakers to impose stiffer penalties on hackers. She declined to be identified, citing department policy.

“We are working on that, but so far we haven’t moved beyond discussions,” she said.

Businesses around the world lose more than $1 trillion in intellectual property due to data theft and cybercrime annually, according to a report in January 2009 by McAfee Inc., the technology security company based in Santa Clara, California.

Seeking to thwart the attacks, U.S. legislators in March proposed to use trade restrictions to penalize countries that provide safe haven to hackers.

Via Bloomberg

FT Interview With Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia Founder

"I’m such an internet addict, I would go to the public library and get online."

What was your earliest ambition?

When I was growing up in Huntsville, Alabama, we lived so close to the space centre that the windows would rattle when they were testing rockets. We were all really into space, technology, science and astronauts.

Independent or state school? University or straight into work?

I went to Randolph [independent] School, which was a fabulous experience. I did my bachelor’s at Auburn University and my master’s at the University of Alabama. University very much depends on the individual person, their preferences and needs in life, but for me it was absolutely worthwhile.

Who is your mentor?

There are a lot of people that I look up to. One is Larry Lessig, the law professor and founder of Creative Commons. He was one of the first people who realised what I was doing at Wikipedia.

How physically fit are you?

I travel too much, so it’s difficult to keep up with anything organised. When I’m here in Florida I go rollerblading and take my daughter on her bike.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

Persistence. It’s really about keeping on.

Have you ever taken an IQ test?

When I was a child, but nobody ever told me the result.

Do you have more than one home?

Just my apartment in Florida, though I spend half my time in London.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

An iPad; I’m going to go and buy one later today.

What’s your big extravagance?

My Tumi luggage. It’s a bit pricy but I love the brand, it’s indestructible and thoughtfully designed.

Whereabouts in the world are you happiest?

In Florida spending time with my daughter, going for bike rides or spending time together on our computers.

What ambitions do you still have?

My goal for the next 10 to 20 years is to build Wikipedia in the languages of the developing world.

What drives you on?

What I do has to be intellectually interesting and fun. It’s very rewarding to see people beginning to access knowledge for the first time in parts of the world – and making it super-easy for them to access it.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

Wikipedia.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

I’m a pathologically optimistic person, so I find it hard to think of bad things.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?

He would probably tell me to go and take a closer look at that question on fitness and get on to it.

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

I’m such an internet addict, I would go to the public library and get online.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

No, I don’t. Which gives you a perspective.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

9.5. Things are good.

Via Financial Times

The Prize Goes To….

This year, world wide web might be the popular choice for the Nobel.

Time magazine has already named “using the Internet” as person of the year. Now this amazing series of tubes has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Riccardo Luna, the director of Wired Italia.

You. Time's Person of the Year 2006

“Its not just a network of computers, it’s a network of lives,” Luna said to a crowd of about 70 in the Paley Center for Media yesterday “We need to shine the spotlight on the powerful impact of the Internet now.”

Techno-utopian Nicholas Negroponte spoke of the net’s ability to connect us. “Isolation plus poverty is a deadly cocktail,” he said. Indeed. If Chat Roulette has taught us anything, it’s that the web is a powerful force for connecting random strangers. If the Internet won the Nobel Peace Prize, the next step in the initiative for peace would be to get everyone connected. “We need to protect the Internet’s freedom and create a bill of rights,” Luna said. “That will protect the truths.”

No word yet on where the $1.4 million prize will go if the Internet becomes the first non-human to win.

The Prize will be announced on Friday, 8th of October.

Via Daily Transom

Related Net Nominated For Nobel

Texas State To Investigate Google Search

Google Inc.’s methods for recommending websites are being reviewed by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott in an investigation spurred by complaints that the company has abused its power as the Internet’s dominant search engine.

The antitrust inquiry, disclosed by Google late Friday, is the latest sign of the intensifying scrutiny facing the company as its enters adolescence. Since its inception in a Silicon Valley garage 12 years ago, Google has gone from a quirky startup to one of the world’s most influential businesses, with annual revenue approaching $30 billion.

A spokesman for Abbott confirmed the investigation but declined to comment further.

Via Star-Telegram

Top 10: YouTube ‘Indie Act’ Earners

A young Californian Christian, a Vietnamese-Australian comic who parodies the online obsession with body image and a 16-year old who makes programmes for other children are among the top earners, according to analysis by TubeMogul.

Although these acts are unfamiliar to many web users, they represent a growing number of independent contributors to the video-sharing site turning a bedroom hobby into serious money through millions of hits.

The research, reported in The Independent, found at least 10 performers, writers and producers have accrued more than $100,000 (£65,000) each over the last 12 months from their short films which have achieved popularity largely through word of mouth.

Although YouTube traffic is largely driven by demand for professional music acts, the site receives 60,000 video clips a week of varying quality.

The site, owned by Google, allows creators of original content to generate advertising revenues from their work in the same way as mainstream entertain firms.

Nine of those that appeared in TubeMogul’s top 10 are comics, and almost all are in the United States.

However, Greg Benson of Mediocre Films, which came in at number seven in the survey, dismissed the figures, telling the newspaper: “I would be thrilled if I actually had any business being on that list or if I actually made that much money or had that many viewers that they say I have.”

TubeMogul’s top 10 independent YouTube acts

(estimated earnings and number of views in past 12 months)

1. Shane Dawson ($315,000/£200,000) 431,787,450 views

Clean-living, wholesome 22-year-old Californian comic actor producing home-made sketches.

2. The Annoying Orange ($288,000/£185,504) 349,753,047 views

Animated fruit created by Dane Boedigheimer that could soon appear on television.

3. Philip DeFranco ($181,000/£117,000) 248,735,032 views

Video blogger (vlogger) who began uploading clips while at university.

4. Ryan Higa ($151,000/£97,200) 206,979,909 views

Also known as Nigahiga, the Hawaiian-born Japanese-American evolved from lip-synching to original comedy and has had more than 150 million hits. Videos How to be Gangster and How to be Ninja went viral for him and his Yabo Crew.

5. Fred Figglehorn ($146,000/£94,000) 200,656,150 views

Lucas Cruikshank, 16, whose videos aimed at children are soon to appear on Nickelodeon.

6. Shay Carl ($140,000/£90,000) 192,309,247 views

An Idaho radio DJ and comic

7. Mediocre Films ($116,000/£74,600) 159,030,703 views

Comedy clips created by Greg Benson.

8. Smosh ($113,000/£72,700) 154,936,876 views

Comedy duo Anthony Padilla & Ian Hecox

9. The Young Turks ($112,000/£72,000) 153,807,362 views

Current affairs discussions and satire

10. Natalie Tran ($101,000/£65,000) 138,871,829 views

24-year-old Vietnamese-Australian comic with popular vlogs. is the No 1 Down Under.

Via Telegraph.co.uk

UPDATE: SCOTUS To Hear Arguments For CA Violent Videogame Law

Five years after California passed its controversial violent videogame law, the United States Supreme Court will finally determine if restricting the sale of games to minors is legal. The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in Schwarzenegger vs. Entertainment Merchants Association on November 2.

The rundown for anyone that hasn’t been following the long, drawn-out case: California passed a law in 2005 that made it a crime to sell “excessively violent” videogames to anyone under the age of 18. Exactly what constitutes “excessive” would be determined by the State Attorney General. The ESRB ratings would be considered, but would not be used as the official guidelines.

The Entertainment Merchants Association deemed the law unconstitutional and sued the state. The U.S. District Court agreed and struck down the law in 2006. California appealed, pointing to a previous Supreme Court ruling that allowed the restriction of sexually explicit materials to minors. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals didn’t see the link between violent videogames and pornography and once again ruled the law was unconstitutional. Now, as a last ditch effort, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken the state’s case to the Supreme Court, whose ruling will finally decide the matter once and for all.

The case marks the first time the Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments regarding state laws that seek to restrict or ban the sale of certain videogames. Numerous states have attempted to pass legislation similar to California’s violent videogame law, and all such laws have been deemed unconstitutional restrictions of free speech by lower federal courts.

Via Gamespy

How To Speed Up Your Net Connection

If your speed has been dipping a lot, and if you've also been getting drop-outs in your connection, pick up the phone and call your ISP provider.

How can you make the connection you’ve got right now work that little bit faster? We can’t provide a magic bullet, either software or hardware to make everyone’s connections quicker, but we can provide some tips that may help speed up individual connections.

1. Test your actual speed regularly

Part of the problem with broadband is that its uses are so wide, and our perception of its speed are often flawed. Just like waiting for the kettle to boil, waiting for a file to download, mail to finish processing or video to stream always seems to take absolutely ages, even if “absolutely ages” can vary from micro-seconds to minutes. The best way to get an actual handle on your real speeds is to monitor them from time to time. Our broadband speed test will give you a real-world speedometer reading for your current connection, and running it over a period of time will give you a good gut feel for how fast your connection actually is.

2. Replace your modem/router

If your ISP provided a modem/router when you signed up, chances are it’s getting long in the tooth. Chances are also quite high that it’s locked to that provider, and you may have little or no ability to get into its interface and tweak it as you might want to. Consider a new or replacement router, especially if you’ve noticed your internet connection speeds dropping recently. It may also be worth considering fully wired or HomePlug Ethernet over wireless, as sometimes the speed bottleneck is more local than you may wish to think.

For 3G Broadband users, newer modems offer higher potential speeds, with some older models capped compared to newer units. It’s also worth considering an extension antenna if your 3G reception is particularly poor, although you’ll need to ensure you pick an antenna model that’s compatible with your 3G hardware.

3. Replace your filter

If you’re on ADSL/ADSL2+, you’re relying on the crumbly old copper lines outside your home, about which you can’t do much but complain to your ISP. Inside your home, however, you do have a measure of control via your filter. Like any other electronic part, filters wear out over time, and that can lead to additional signal noise leaking through and affecting your ADSL synchronisation speed.

4. Check your plan

If you’re on a lower-cost plan, there’s a high likelihood that you’re speed limited in some way. ISPs typically state this in terms of a download speed followed by an upload speed, and always state the highest possible speed available, because it makes them look better that way. That’s why most ADSL2+ plans list themselves at 24,000/1024 (or similar), even though for practical purposes nobody actually hits that 24,000Kbps mark. At the lower end, though, if you’re on an ADSL1 connection (typically topped out at 1500Kbps) or a slower 512Kbps or even 256Kbps connection, consider switching to a faster plan. With broadband prices consistently toppling you may even find it’s cheaper to go faster, and often with more download quota thrown in as well.

5. Kill broadband sucking applications

Installed lots of interesting broadband-aware applications such as torrent clients, Skype, live desktop widgets and automatically updating AV software?

Good for you — this is what broadband’s meant to be used for.

There’s just one little problem. All of those applications — and anything that needs it that loads in the background when you start up your computer use incremental parts of your broadband connection when they’re keeping themselves running. Check what’s loading on start up and eliminate any online services you only need intermittently, and you’ll free up more of your raw speed for your own use.

6. Schedule your heavy network usage

Kill broadband sucking apps: Applications use incremental parts of your broadband connection when they're keeping themselves running.

You’ll feel the broadband pinch most when you’re trying to do particularly heavy lifting, such as downloading large files or uploading large backups, for example. Where possible, try to schedule these activities overnight, so that your connection is otherwise smooth when you’re actually awake and using your connection.

7. Keep your AV software up-to-date

Malware loves an open connection, because there’s so much it can do with one, whether it’s using your PC as a zombie in a botnet, or sending out your personal details to identity thieves. Not only is that worrying in and of itself, it’s also a huge waste of your broadband resources. A machine that’s free of spyware and malware is one that’s not only running at peak efficiency, it’s also one that doesn’t waste your broadband.

8. Set up your router for your activities

Most routers will allow you to set Quality Of Service (QoS) profiles to give bandwidth priority to specific applications, which can make those applications really fly, albeit at the cost of other apps running more slowly. Depending on the application — most notably games — it may also be worth opening ports on your router to allow specific traffic types through. Proceed with caution, however, as an open port is an open way into your home network.

9. Set up your router with proper security

Which brings us nicely on to security. Enable it. Preferably WPA2, which most new routers and devices support too. Don’t choose an obvious password, and change the SSID (Service Set Identifier, the default “name” of your wireless network) away from the default. A default name is a rather obvious sign that you’re perhaps not as fussy about network security as you might otherwise be. The more people who leech onto your broadband connection, the slower it will go for every single user.

10. Don’t be afraid to call your ISP!

As noted above, there’s not much point in calling to complain that you’re only getting a 22MBps sync on your “up to” 24MBps ADSL2+ plan, because there’s only so much that you can reasonably expect from any ADSL2+ connection.

But if your speed has dipped a lot recently, and especially if you’ve also been getting drop-outs of your connection, pick up a phone and call your ISP. There may be service works causing it, and it may be time to get a technician to actually check the outside lines. Be wary, though, as most ISPs will charge a fee if no fault is found on the street lines.

Via CNet