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While Roku doesn’t offer an officially sanctioned YouTube channel, many of us have been enjoying that content through a “private” offering created by The Nowhereman. In fact, he’s such an exceptional developer, Roku brought him on as an employee (where he’s known as Chris). Yet that puts them in an even more awkward position now that Google has taken issue with the unlicensed YouTube channel.

A blog comment tipped me off to the situation, that I confirmed on the forum… The YouTube channel remains functional for the folks who’ve previously activated it, yet no new subscribers are permitted. I reached out to Roku who also corroborated the situation, saying “we received a takedown notice from YouTube’s legal team and are in the midst of negotiations with them.” They’re hopeful of having more information to share with the community next week. Continue Reading…

FiOS streaming live TV tablet

Slowly but surely we’re getting more access to TV on our PCs, iPads, and smartphones. But a comment on Dave’s post about the IMG 1.9 release reminded me that for some folks, the fact that FiOS TV service doesn’t let you move content around easily today is still a deal-breaker.

Until Verizon has a way for me to get TV off their box and onto my PC/ pad/ phone- the same way that Tivo does, I will continue to be a Tivo customer.

What most folks don’t know is that Verizon has done an astounding amount of work on its infrastructure in order to enable services that make content more flexible and accessible on different devices. We learned in January that the telecom had overhauled its hybrid QAM/IP system, making it possible to switch over to all-IP broadcasting for live television in addition to VOD and widget services. More recently, however, the company announced its new Verizon Digital Media Services platform, which both transcodes and formats TV for different devices, and handles session management so you can start watching a show in one place, and finish up somewhere else. (See Light Reading’s stellar coverage here and here)

Verizon claims that VDMS is a one-of-a-kind digital delivery utility, and it’s aiming to sell the technology as a service to cable companies for their TV Everywhere services. I have serious doubts about the potential success of that plan, but for Verizon’s own purposes, VDMS appears to give the company everything it needs to take FiOS TV to the next level. You know how the new WatchESPN service lets you watch live ESPN broadcasts on the go? I’m betting Verizon will offer more linear content the same way in the near future to FiOS TV users, along with the option to transition viewing sessions of VOD and recorded content to various gadgets for mobile viewing. This could be a good year to be a FiOS subscriber.  Continue Reading…

The New York Times is starting to roll out digital subscription plans in Canada this week, with US and international subscriptions set to take effect on march 28th. Readers will be able to view the paper’s home page for free, and read up to 20 articles per month at no cost. You’ll also be able to access the “Top News” section of the company’s mobile apps for Android, BlackBerry, and iOS for free. For anything else, you’ll need to pay up.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • If you want full access to the web site and smartphone apps, you’ll need to pay $15 every four weeks.
  • For full access to the web site and the tablet app for the iPad you’ll need to find $20 in the couch cushions.
  • Full access to the tablet and smartphone apps plus the web site will run you $35 every four weeks.

Existing newspaper subscribers will be able to continue accessing all of the digital content for no additional charge. That includes customers who sign up for weekday only, or Weekender Friday-Sunday only service. Because the New York Times is currently offering a 50% discount for up to 12 weeks on some print subscriptions, I can actually sign up for the weekday print edition and digital editions for $3.70 per week, compared with $3.75 per week for the web and smartphone plan. But after a few months that price would double.

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A few weeks back, Google flipped the switch on two-factor authentication for the masses. While folks traditionally sign into online properties and computing devices using merely a password, two factor authentication adds another layer of defense. The password is something you know (and set), whereas a second factor is typically something only you possess. In this case, it’s rotating numeric codes provided by Google. And many may be familiar with this sort authentication procedure via work (or through E*Trade) using RSA SecurID tokens.

To enable Google’s “2-step verification” you’d hit the relevant link from your Account Settings. As part of the registration process, you identify what sort of mobile device you intend to receive your code on. In my case, it’s the iPhone – and Google kindly provides an Authentication app to handle these duties (see pics, below). So when I sign into Google, I provide my password and now, additionally, whatever current code is displayed.


Thus far, I’m impressed. As someone on Twitter quipped, my Gmail is now more secure than my online banking.

Yet I seem to have hit a snag. Some third party applications just aren’t designed to handle two factor authentication. Google attempts to overcome this by providing unique “Application-specific passwords.” I utilize Google Sync (powered by Microsoft Exchange  ActiveSync) to not only receive Gmail via my iPhone’s native mail client, but also to keep contacts and calendar events current. In theory, I should be able to authenticate using an application-specific password. And, indeed I can. But only for a short period of time… before Google no longer recognizes it as valid. I’m not sure if this has been a temporary glitch on Google’s end or if it’s an issue triggered by signing in from different networks (Verizon vs. various WiFi access points). But I’m hopeful this can be resolved. Because, as much as I support additional security, if even I can’t get to my data it’s of limited value.

Eye-Fi is out with an API update this week that enables personal web publishing. Their clever WiFi-endowed SD card lineup has traditionally beamed one’s digital photos from the camera to a personal computer or photo sharing services in the cloud (Flickr, Picasa, etc). Now, the more technically savvy amongst us, have the opportunity to transmit photographs to their own Gallery 3 powered web site via Eye-Fi. From the email blast:

Eye-Fi has just made available a document that shows you how to use simple APIs to have the Eye-Fi card send photos & videos to your own site. This has been one of the most requested features.

Head on over to Eye-Fi’s Developer page or grab the PDF integration doc for inetegration details. Continue Reading…


So I’m about two years late on this bit of “news” … but if I’m just discovering it, there could be others in a similar boat. You see, I’m such an early adopter that I’ve largely missed out on the text messaging phenomenom. I picked up the original Sidekick in 2002 and have been emailing and IMing via cellphone ever since. I only grudgingly enabled a basic text messaging plan within the last few months as folks in my circle (and inappropriate marketing personel) have cost me money (with every incoming SMS). But now that I’m retro modern, I’ve been keeping my eye open for texting opportunities. And it turns out Amazon offers “Text Trace” – a service to provide package tracking/shipment updates. Pretty cool, and much more efficient than babying the UPS site for status. In fact, beyond just ‘out for delivery’ and ‘delivery’ notifications, I’d be OK with even more info. Like when a product leaves the warehouse and later lands in my region. Although I’d prefer to see more real-time alerts. If you’re as behind the times as I, check out Text Trace at the bottom of your Amazon Order Summary, Shipment Tracking status page.

AOL, Google, The News, & I

Dave Zatz —  February 21, 2011

In the last couple of days, two respected Engadget editors have resigned (details here & here). Amongst their publicly disclosed grievances, both cited the AOL Way – which appears to favor assembly line content. Quantity over quality, current, and search engine optimized. While Engadget hasn’t yet been subjected to the AOL Way, these defections make many wonder if the writing’s on the wall. Instead of continuing to evolve as a largely independent (and loved) entity, will Engadget be consumed Borg-like into newly appointed Huffington’s AOL media empire?

Along with this discussion is a renewed debate over ‘blogs as journalism’ and eHow Google might deemphasize the likes of low quality content farms. From a blogger with stints at Mashable and Engadget:

Almost everyone uses Google to find out more about news that’s happening right now, whether it’s tech industry stuff, celebrity breakups, or political revolutions. Unfortunately, the rules Google uses to determine which websites gain strong rankings — and thus frequent traffic, high impressions and strong ad revenues — betray journalists and the people who need them at every turn. Google’s algorithms and the blog linking customs built around them favor those who write first, not those who write accurately. I have no qualms about producing entertainment and other products to meet demand. But journalism must not function this way if it is to remain useful.

And it certainly seems like many pander to Google. For example, TechCrunch (another AOL property) was once a blog purely dedicated to Web 2.0. They were extremely successful and I was a regular. But I suspect it’s been even better for business to expand their reach by covering Apple’s every move.

Yet, building a business around Google’s indexing and oversized influence shouldn’t necessarily be burdened with negative connotation Continue Reading…