Category Archives: Interesting Items

Things SWCP staff members found interesting, or fun.

Internet Is Still Not TV – But It’s Getting There

This Sunday’s showing of the much-awaited 5th season premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones grimdark fantasy drama was anxiously watched, and not just by avid fans. The wildly-popular series also provided an excellent real-life test case of just how good Internet streaming could be in the wake of the FCC’s historic decision to support Net Neutrality. The results were highly encouraging. The episode topped cable charts for the week, hauling in an estimated 7,997,000 viewers. Only pro wrestling came near. And despite rampant piracy, including the first four episodes of the new season leaking on the Internet, Game of Thrones broke its own audience record. The event was also a test case for HBO’s brand-new standalone streaming service, HBO Now, aimed only at Apple users, which survived without crashing. However, Dish TV’s Sling streaming service was not so lucky, with users citing delays signing in, not being able to get the show or even any other Sling channels on various platforms, including Roku and Xbox. Sling is Dish TV’s service for those unwilling to subscribe to cable, but this is not the first time it has had problems. March Madness basketball’s semi-final game also caused the service to falter. The basic reason is the hidden difference between TV and the Internet. As we’ve written before, TV and the Internet work by completely different and opposite models. TV, even cable and satellite, is a broadcast medium – content is sent out … Continue reading

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Is Google Getting Too Big?

Google, the most widely-used search engine on Earth, is involved in much more than noting LOLcat links. It has both gobbled up products and services and come up with its own, ranging from a host of online tools to physical products like Android smartphones and even driverless cars. Their product list features no less than 47 categories of online services, 7 just under “Specialized Search”. Despite the occasional misstep like Google Glass, it’s been an amazing success story. However, recent developments may cause some wondering at the extent of the company’s influence and ambition. In Europe, for instance, Google has been under investigation for 4 years for antitrust violations. Complaints have come from publishers in Germany and in Spain, as well as Microsoft Europe and travel sites, including Expedia and TripAdvisor in the US. CEO Eric Schmidt is set to visit next week to work things out. The stakes are quite high; the company could be fined billions of dollars. He also needs to address the raft of complaints on privacy violations. Europe’s “digital czar”, Günther Oettinger, recently fired off a blast at Google and Facebook, warning of the US giants’ exploiting Europeans by harvesting and selling their personal data. He called for a single European-wide law to protect their data privacy, and has spoken ominously of taxing American companies operating there. Investigation into antitrust charges has also begun in Russia after a complaint from a native search engine company. … Continue reading

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Crunch Time for Net Neutrality

On February 26th, the entire fate of the Internet and the future of all humanity will be decided. Or at least, that’s the impression one could get from the wild rhetoric swirling around the upcoming possibly-historic decision by the FCC on Net Neutrality. This is the principle that all data packets on the Internet should be treated the same way, without preferential treatment regarding speed, content, or destination, as they proceed across the Internet. The Commissioners are finally putting the whole contentious issue to an actual vote, but despite the clarions of doom blasting on all sides, the issues are not quite as good v. evil as either side one makes out, whichever side one chooses. The debate has greatly muddled everything, even within the FCC. There are dire warnings of government Internet regulation and worse, taxation, up against fragmenting of the Internet into superhighways with all the goodies for the rich and dirt trails and dustbins for everybody else. The battle will be fought until the very last minute. At issue is whether the Internet should be regulated as an utility instead of as an “information service”. It’s not that simple, of course. But despite all the sound and the fury, the battle lines are clear enough. On the pro-Net Neutrality side are the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Freedom Foundation. On the other are the big broadband carriers – Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T in particular – … Continue reading

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