28th > July > 2007 Archive

1

YouTube rival inks TV production deal

You see, some parts of the TV and movie industry are beginning to like this online video-sharing thing. Earlier this month, several French film producers successfully sued video-sharing site Dailymotion for copyright infringement, but now the Paris-based YouTube rival has teamed up with a high-profile TV production company, looking to augment its massive collection of user-uploaded videos with some slick, new, professional content. Though Dailymotion has yet to make an official announcement, Reuters reports that the video site has inked a deal with RDF USA, best known for an American reality series featuring basketball star Shaquille O'Neal. When contacted, both companies confirmed the "non-exclusive, first-look" deal, which commits RDF to providing Dailymotion with eight brand new program concepts over the next year. The two companies will share ad revenue generated by these short-form video shows, and in some cases, the shows will be tailored to particular ad campaigns. "We're going to be very advertiser-friendly," Max Benator, head of RDF’s digital media group, told The Reg. "We're going to be doing a lot of integration, so the content will be geared toward particular brands." Dailymotion is interested in providing compelling content without running afoul of the law, while RDF has its sights set on becoming "a major media player in the digital space." "We are creating original content for the online space and the mobile space," Benator said. "Technology is changing and the media world is changing with it. Online and television are beginning to merge." The non-exclusive tag means that RDF can use the web as a springboard for big-time TV deals. "If a web series we create becomes a huge viral success, we can turn it into a TV property." And Dailymotion would get a cut. There's little doubt a trend is developing. NBC Universal Digital Studios recently signed a deal with Break.com. Mega-producer Steven Bochco has his own channel on MetaCafe. And Sony Pictures went ahead and paid $65m for Grouper, before re-branding the video-sharer as a studio-backed site called Crackle. Dailymotion calls itself "the largest independent online video entertainment company." This means that research firm comScore ranks it as the most-visited video site not controlled by big corporate names like Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Fox, and Viacom. According to comScore's latest online video study, Dailymotion reaches about 4.7m unique users a month here in the States. That's nowhere near the popularity of the Google-owned YouTube, but it's pretty healthy traffic for a site that only launched stateside two and a half weeks ago. Alexa.com ranks the site as the 54th most popular on the web, although Alexa's rankings mean so very litte. With RDF on its side, Dailymotion is doing its best to show that it's working with the TV and movie industry, not against it. A Dailymotion spokesperson told us that the company has set up a system to manually remove copyrighted content when copyright holders complain and that it's in the process of rolling out a video fingerprint system that automatically identifies infringing content.®
Cade Metz, 28 Jul 2007
1

Startup brings free Wi-Fi to the streets of San Francisco

A California startup is relying on civic-minded volunteers in San Francisco to accomplish a goal that so far has eluded the city's government leaders: provide residents with wireless internet access that's free and dependable. Over the past few weeks, Meraki Networks has launched a grass roots "Free the Net" campaign that encourages residents to install a simple repeater in their windows that beams Wi-Fi signals to their neighbors. In less than a month, more than 1,000 people have answered the call, creating a network that extends several square miles and has about 5,500 users. The network, one of about 1,000 around the world set up by Meraki, is being erected as San Francisco leaders continue to bicker over a proposed city-wide Wi-Fi network designed to bridge the so-called digital divide. It turns out blanketing the city with free coverage isn't as easy as many thought. Critics have pilloried the proposal, citing a host of concerns, the most compelling of which include the loss of privacy and significant limitations in getting the darn thing to actually work as advertised. In its current form, Mayor Gavin Newsom's proposal with Google and Earthlink allows the companies to track who users are, where they are geographically located and what sites they browse and to store that information for an indefinite period of time. That's not necessarily a good thing for someone researching HIV treatment, or frequenting a support group for child abuse survivors. There's also ample reason to doubt the proposed network, which is based on the primitive 802.11b standard, will connect many of people who attempt to use it. Due to the limitations of that technology, those who live in tall buildings, in apartments far from the street, or in abodes surrounded by lots of vegetation may be out of luck. Equipment for amplifying the signal may help, but there's no guarantee. Meraki thinks there are other ways to connect. "What we're hoping is other people will see Free the Net and be inspired by it to set up other networks in their communities," said Sanjit Biswas, CEO and co-founder of Meraki. Meraki is the result of the Roofnet Project, a 2002 research project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that provided free Wi-Fi to about 600 students in Cambridge. The research team specialized in creating repeaters that were easy to set up, recognizing that many volunteers had few if any IT skills. The company provides both the repeaters and the internet connection gratis. All that's needed is for enough volunteers to ensure the signal is ubiquitous. The company makes money by selling its plug-and-play hardware to property managers and other groups that want an easy way to network large areas. Meraki does collect some information about users of the San Francisco network, so we're not sure the service is going to make the civil libertarians among us any more comfortable. After all, if AOL could compromise the privacy of countless users by releasing the queries of 650,000 users, then anyone can. But unlike San Francisco's planned system, the company's daisy-chain hardware setup can easily scale tall buildings and hard-to-reach cul de sacs that would likely be cut off from the network Newsom wants to build. "It is basically an adequate assumption that this indeed can be an alternative to that kind of network, or it can be a complement to that kind of network," said Craig Settles, a business consultant who advises cities on municipal wireless. In other words, Meraki's San Francisco experiment is by no means a panacea for the problems that are likely to plague the city's proposed network. But the network comes free of charge and just may prove that there are other ways to blanket a city in Wi-Fi. And for that, it's worth watching. ®
Dan Goodin, 28 Jul 2007
ABC childrens blocks
7

One programmer's unit test is another's integration test

The question of what units you are working with is one that will at one time or other have plagued anyone who studied a science or a branch of physical engineering. Teachers go to great lengths to make sure students remember to specify their units. It is not enough to say that the answer is 42. Forty-two what? 42 metres? 42 electronvolts? 42 furlongs per fortnight? Without a clear understanding of what units are involved, certain results and claims can be meaningless, misleading or simply expensive. And so it is with software testing.
Kevlin Henney, 28 Jul 2007
6

Laser iPhones shrink your brains

CommentsComments It's been a fairly average week, with the normal crop of lasers, abnormal cranial conditions and massively overpriced drinks. We'll start with an iPhone article. Don't worry, it's the only one. A vulnerability has been discovered in the iPhone, and an exploit devised. There's been less of a row than usual, but it's still there:
Robin Lettice, 28 Jul 2007
channel
5

Cries for help go out as open source mogul's radar breaks

OSCONOSCON How appropriate that we caught Chairman Tim O'Reilly ogling Portland's tram schedule just a few minutes before the Pirate Party's founder Rickard Falkvinge took the stage at O'Reilly's own conference. Chairman Tim plotted his escape from OSCON, as Falkvinge prepared to talk to the people about things that matter. O'Reilly seemed to miss the crucial issues of the day at every turn, during OSCON.
Ashlee Vance, 28 Jul 2007