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Media

Redbox Plans To Launch New Streaming Service 'Redbox Digital' (consumerreports.org) 62

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Consumer Reports: Redbox, the movie and game-rental kiosk service, might be getting back into the streaming game a few years after its digital streaming service, Redbox Instant, failed. The new Redbox streaming service could be a pay-per-view option for rentals and purchases like Apple iTunes or Vudu. The trade publication Variety -- which broke the story, citing "multiple sources" familiar with the company -- said that the new service will be called Redbox Digital and that Redbox is close to launching a beta of the service. Compared to a subscription service, negotiating the rights to pay-per-view titles should be easier for Redbox. And since many Redbox streaming customers already use their site to search for and reserve titles, it would be much more convenient for them to be able to immediately order a digital version. Another potential benefit would be the price of the rentals. The reason why physical Redbox kiosks are popular is because the $1.50 rental price for DVDs, and $2 rental price for Blu-ray discs are relatively cheap. Redbox Digital may gain some attraction if, and only if, there are considerable savings for users, otherwise there would be little reason to choose Redbox over a more established pay-per-view service, such as Amazon Instant, Google Play, or Vudu.
Google

Chromium Being Ported To VC++, Scrubbed of Compiler Bugs 93

jones_supa writes: Moving a big software project to a new compiler can be a lot of work, and few projects are bigger than the Chromium web browser. In addition to the main Chromium repository, which includes all of WebKit, there are over a hundred other open-source projects which Chromium incorporates by reference, totaling more than 48,000 C/C++ files and 40,000 header files. As of March 11th, Chromium has switched to Visual C++ 2015, and it doesn't look like it's looking back. The tracking bug for this effort currently has over 330 comments on it, with contributions from dozens of developers. Bruce Dawson has written an interesting showcase of some VC++ compiler bugs that the process has uncovered. His job was to investigate them, come up with a minimal reproduce case, and report them to Microsoft. The Google and Microsoft teams get praise for an excellent symbiotic relationship, and the compiler bugs have been fixed quickly by the Visual Studio team.
Cloud

Google Opens Access To Its Speech Recognition API, Going Head To Head With Nuance (techcrunch.com) 46

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Google is planning to compete with Nuance and other voice recognition companies head on by opening up its speech recognition API to third-party developers. To attract developers, the app will be free at launch with pricing to be introduced at a later date. The company formally announced the service today during its NEXT cloud user conference, where it also unveiled a raft of other machine learning developments and updates, most significantly a new machine learning platform. The Google Cloud Speech API, which will cover over 80 languages and will work with any application in real-time streaming or batch mode, will offer full set of APIs for applications to "see, hear and translate," Google says. It is based on the same neural network tech that powers Google's voice search in the Google app and voice typing in Google's Keyboard. Google's move will have a large impact on the industry as a whole -- and particularly on Nuance, the company long thought of as offering the best voice recognition capabilities in the business, and most certainly the biggest offering such services.
Google

Unofficial Answers: Why Does YouTube Seem So Biased? (vortex.com) 178

Lauren Weinstein writes with some insight on an frustrating aspect of YouTube's video hosting service: "Why does Google's YouTube seem so biased against ordinary users who upload videos? I've unfairly had my videos blocked, received copyright strikes for my own materials, and even had my account suspended — and it's impossible to reach anyone at YouTube to complain!" No, YouTube isn't biased against you — not voluntarily, anyway. But it could definitely be argued that the copyright legal landscape — particularly in the mainstream entertainment industry — is indeed biased against the "little guys," and Google's YouTube must obey the laws as written. What's more, YouTube exists at the "bleeding edge" of the intersection of technology and law, where there's oh so much that goes bump in the night ...
Cloud

In Major Cloud Expansion, Google To Open 12 More Data Centers 42

Mickeycaskill writes: Google is to open 12 new data centers in the latest stage of a bitter war with rivals Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. The first two facilities to open will be in Oregon and Tokyo, both of which will open next year. The rest will follow in 2017. Google says the new locations will allow customers to run applications closer to home, boosting latency, and of course benefiting from any local data protection laws. At present, Google has just four cloud regions, meaning this expansion will quadruple its sphere of influence. "With these new regions, even more applications become candidates to run on Cloud Platform, and get the benefits of Google-level scale and industry leading price/performance," said Varun Sakalkar, Google Cloud's product manager. Two bits says those were not his exact words.
Chrome

Google Will Kill Its Chrome App Launcher For Windows, Mac, and Linux In July 77

An anonymous reader writes: Google today announced plans to kill off the Chrome app launcher for Windows, Mac, and Linux in July. The tool, which lets users launch Chrome apps even if the browser is not running, will continue to live on in Chrome OS. So why is Google removing the Chrome app launcher from Chrome? Well, it turns out Google has finally figured out what everyone all already knew: "we've found that users on Windows, Mac, and Linux prefer to launch their apps from within Chrome."
Advertising

FTC Warns Android App Developers About Use of Audio-Tracking Code 81

Reader Trailrunner7 writes: The Federal Trade Commission is warning dozens of developers about some code they've included in their apps that can surreptitiously listen to unique audio signals from TVs in the background and build detailed profiles of what consumers are watching. The technology, produced by a company called SilverPush, is used to track users across devices and the FTC warned the developers that if they don't disclose the use of the code to consumers, they could be violating the FTC Act. The commission sent the letter to 12 app developers whose apps are in the Google Play Store, and warned them that not disclosing the use of SilverPush's Unique Audio Beacon could be a problem. "For example, the code is configured to access the device's microphone to collect audio information even when the application is not in use. Moreover, your application requires permission to access the mobile device's microphone prior to install, despite no evident functionality in the application that would require such access," the letter says.
Google

Tavis Ormandy Criticizes Meaningless Antivirus Excellence Awards (softpedia.com) 72

An anonymous reader writes: A Google security expert (Tavis Ormandy) has become annoyed with antivirus products receiving awards a week after he finds huge security holes in their software. He's talking about Comodo who received an "excellence" award from Verizon, after the researcher discovered 4 security issues in the past four months, and is in the process of submitting a fifth. His criticism of Comodo and Verizon's silly awards is also validated by the fact that during the past year, he discovered security flaws in numerous antivirus and security software such as Avast, Malwarebytes, Trend Micro, AVG, FireEye, Kaspersky, and ESET.
Google

Hack Chromebook In Guest Mode, Win $100,000 45

An anonymous reader writes: Google has once again upped the ante for bug hunters concentrating on Chrome, and is now offering $100,000 to anyone capable of achieving a compromise of a Chromebook or Chromebox (the desktop variant of the Chromebook laptop) with device persistence in guest mode (i.e. guest to guest persistence with interim reboot, delivered via a web page). From Google's Monday announcement: Last year we introduced a $50,000 reward for the persistent compromise of a Chromebook in guest mode. Since we introduced the $50,000 reward, we haven't had a successful submission. That said, great research deserves great awards, so we're putting up a standing six-figure sum, available all year round with no quotas and no maximum reward pool.
AI

Alpha Go Takes the Match, 3-0 (i-programmer.info) 117

mikejuk writes: Google's AlphaGo has won the Deep Mind Challenge, by winning the third match in a row of five against the 18-time world champion Lee Se-dol. AlphaGo is now the number three Go player in the world and this is an event that will be remembered for a long time. Most AI experts thought that it would take decades to achieve but now we know that we have been on the right track since the 1980s or earlier. AlphaGo makes use of nothing dramatically new — it learned to play Go using a deep neural network and reinforcement learning, both developments on classical AI techniques. We know now that we don't need any big new breakthroughs to get to true AI. The results of the final two games are going to be interesting but as far as AI is concerned the match really is all over.
Privacy

Federal Judge Admits Existence Of NSA's PRISM Program (vocativ.com) 82

An anonymous reader writes: A U.S. judge has just admitted the existence of the NSA's infamous PRISM program by name, apparently the first time any federal judge has done so. PRISM has been an open secret since June 2013, when documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden were first made public. An ominous NSA PowerPoint training slide claimed that PRISM allowed "collection [of user data] directly from the servers" of major American tech companies like Yahoo, Google, and Apple, though those tech companies immediately and fiercely protested that no, to their knowledge, they didn't give the NSA such access. It's since been generally accepted that the NSA wasn't physically accessing those companies' servers with PRISM, but instead creating a streamlined legal process to compel those companies, via orders processed in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, to turn over users' data. Since the program's disclosure, most government reports and redacted FISA court orders have referred to PRISM by the legal authority the NSA claims authorizes it, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But that's confusing, because 702 also authorizes what's called Upstream collection, which gives the NSA access to raw internet data -- not the same thing as PRISM, which is more specifically targeted.
Google

No More Public Access To Google PageRank Scores 43

campuscodi writes: Google has confirmed with Search Engine Land that it is removing PageRank scores from the Google toolbar, which was the last place where someone could check their site's PageRank status. Many SEO experts are extremely happy at this point, since it seems that PageRank is responsible for all the SEO spam we see today.
AI

Google's AlphaGo Beats Lee Se-dol In the First Match (theverge.com) 119

New submitter Fref writes with news from The Verge that "A huge milestone has just been reached in the field of artificial intelligence: AlphaGo, the program developed by Google's DeepMind unit, has defeated legendary Go player Lee Se-dol in the first of five historic matches being held in Seoul, South Korea. Lee resigned after about three and a half hours, with 28 minutes and 28 seconds remaining on his clock. "
Lee will face off against AlphaGo again tomorrow and on Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday.
Also at the New York Times. Science magazine says the loss may be less significant than it seems at first.
Books

Google Docs Can Now Export EPUB (thestack.com) 39

An anonymous reader writes: The EPUB format is now available as an export option from Google Docs. Tests show that the feature can very accurately translate Word-style hyperlinked indexes into EPUB sidebar indices, offering the possibility of updating legacy documents to a more portable and open format. However, despite the completely open XML-based nature of the format, and how much better it handles text-reflow than PDF can, the paucity of easy-to-use editors — particularly in the mobile space — may mean that EPUB continues to be seen as a 'baked' format.
Power

Google Challenge Results In Astoundingly Efficient Inverters 245

AmiMoJo writes: A few summers ago, Google and IEEE announced a one million dollar prize to build the most efficient and compact DC to AC inverter. It was called the Little Box Challenge, with the goal of a 2kW inverter with a power density greater than 50 Watts per cubic inch. Typical solar inverters have a density of about 5 W/cubic inch. Now the results are in, with the winners hitting 143 W/cubic inch using GaN transistors, and two other teams meeting Google's goal.

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