After months of complaints by Netflix, the Federal Communications Commission is beginning to look into the streaming quality issues that Netflix subscribers have been seeing on Comcast and Verizon. Netflix has been in a heated and public battle with internet providers over network congestion that's supposedly slowing its service down, with both sides pinning responsibility on the other. "Consumers pay their ISP and they pay content providers like Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon. Then when they don’t get good service they wonder what is going on," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says in a statement. "I have experienced these problems myself and know how exasperating it can be."
The FCC has obtained the terms of the agreements that Netflix made with both Comcast and Verizon earlier this year that have it paying them both in order to resolve these issues. The FCC says that it doesn't yet have a full understanding of what's occurring between the companies, and it's continuing to evaluate to see who's at fault for the connection problems. "Consumers must get what they pay for," Wheeler says. "As the consumer’s representative we need to know what is going on." Wheeler says that the FCC is continuing to request information from internet and content providers.
Netflix is now paying Comcast for a direct connection to the internet service provider, as it seeks to ensure that Comcast customers experience fewer hiccups when using its video streaming service. And it’s doing much the same with Verizon, another major internet provider. But Google believes this kind of arrangement shouldn’t involve money. The tech giant lets Netflix inside its ISP, Google Fiber, and it doesn’t charge a penny.
“We give companies like Netflix and Akamai free access to space and power in our facilities, and they provide their own content servers,” Google Fiber director of engineering Jeffrey Burgan wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. “Since people usually only stream one video at a time, video traffic doesn’t bog down or change the way we manage our network in any meaningful way–so why not help enable it?”
The post is yet another salvo in the ongoing battle over the economics at the heart of the internet. As Comcast and Verizon begin charging companies like Netflix for access to their networks, many are worried that the big name ISPs will gain too much control over which technologies succeed on the net or which don’t, and companies like Google are pushing back, hoping to prevent a future where Comcast is a de facto gatekeeper for the internet.
It may not come as much of a surprise, but the major US telecom companies have significantly outspent supporters of net neutrality when it comes to lobbying on Capitol Hill. And they seem far more intent on getting their way. Between 2005 and 2013, Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast all mentioned the issue of net neutrality in more lobbying reports than any pro-neutrality companies. The trend is particularly unsettling as debate around net neutrality and the "open internet" rages on during the FCC's comment period on Chairman Tom Wheeler's latest proposal. But the biggest surprise may be the top spender on the list in support of net neutrality.
Despite Google having the biggest tech lobby in Washington aside from the big internet service providers, AOL — the company best known for giving the world dial-up internet in the '90s and being one of the country's largest ISPs — has outspent Google on net neutrality issues. That's one of the main takeaways from data collected by Sunlight Foundation and reported on by The Daily Dot.
When Vic Gundotra, the head of Google+, suddenly announced his departure from Google today, many were left wondering "why" and what it meant for the future of Google+. He didn't give a reason for leaving, but according to a report from TechCrunch, the likely reason is a major shakeup for Google's social network.
In short, Google seems to be backing away from the original Google+ strategy. The report states that Google+ will no longer be considered a product that competes with Facebook and Twitter, and that Google's mission to force Google+ into every product will end. With this downgrade in importance comes a downgrade in resources. TechCrunch claims that 1000-1200 employees—many of which formed the core of Google+—will be moved to other divisions. Google Hangouts will supposedly be moved to Android, and the Google+ photos team is "likely" to follow. "Basically, talent will be shifting away from the Google+ kingdom and towards Android as a platform," the report said. The strange part is that both of these teams create cross-platform products. So if the report is true, there will be a group inside the Android team making iOS and Web apps, which doesn't seem like the best fit.
Microsoft really wants people to stop using Windows XP.
The company launched a new promotion that offers XP users $100 off the purchase of a new PC that costs more than $599 through the Microsoft Store from now until June 15. Buyers will also get 90 days of free support and free data transfer from their old XP-powered PC.
Microsoft is ending support for XP, which has been around for more than a decade, in April. That means any security flaws found by attackers after that point won’t be patched, leaving users who are still clinging to their old computers open to attack.
While self-learning and real-world experience are both great types of education, there is still something to be said for a quality, structured classroom lesson. College is a great place for structured learning, but the costs can be overwhelming. Even though education and self improvement are great investments, no one wants to be buried in student loan debt.
If you are interested in learning, the subject of Linux is a great choice. After all, more and more businesses are utilizing Linux-based operating systems, while Android and Chrome OS are increasing in popularity. Luckily, the Linux Foundation has partnered with edX to bring free Linux courses to the masses.
"The Linux Foundation and edX are partnering to develop a MOOC program that will help address this issue by making basic Linux training materials available to all for free. Previously a $2,400 course, Introduction to Linux will be the first class available as a MOOC and will be free to anyone, anywhere. The Linux Foundation is among a new group of member organizations edX announced today who will contribute courses to the platform.", says the foundation.
Independent testing group AV-Comparatives has released its 2014 Internet Security Survey.
The survey asked 5,845 users from around the world their views on security and reveals that when it comes to antivirus protection Americans like to get it for free whilst Europeans prefer to pay.
The four regions covered in the results are Europe, North America, Central/South America, and Asia. Worldwide just over half of users pay for a security solution but only in Europe are paid security products more popular. Free solutions win in North America and Asia and -- by a narrow margin -- in Central/South America. Avast is the product of choice for both mobiles and PCs in most regions, but with Asia preferring Quihoo 360.
We reported earlier this week on how financial organizations are at risk from third parties with compromised security.
It seems that the same thing applies to software. The latest review by IT security specialist Secunia shows that third-party programs are responsible for 76 percent of the vulnerabilities discovered in the 50 most popular programs in 2013.
Secunia's review looks at the top 50 programs found on private PCs including those approved and maintained by IT departments and on those BYOD devices used with or without permission. Unsurprisingly 66 percent of the top 50 are Microsoft programs, however, they only accounted for 24 percent of the vulnerabilities in 2013.