Posts tagged actually
In spite of the many people that might state otherwise, SEO and content can actually be best friends – here’s a look at why.
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When you can’t win over the courts, extortion can come in pretty handy—so says a broadcast industry that once again strong-armed Dish into watering down the Auto Hop commercial-skipping feature in its digital video recorders.
CBS, which temporarily pulled its programming off Dish, agreed to come back to the satellite TV provider if it instituted a seven-day waiting period for Auto Hop on its channel. (Previously, subscribers could use it the day after a program first aired.) Dish agreed, making for an apparent win for CBS. In fact, the company made off better than Disney, whose Dish deal yielded a three-day Auto Hop delay for ABC shows.
In both cases, the Dish contracts were up for renewal, backing the TV service into a corner. It had no choice but to hold up Auto Hop, if it wanted to continue carrying those channels. It did, but it also got something else: the rights to carry their programming online.
The Art Of Negotiation
CBS has a history of trying to force partners’ hands to get what it wants, though this time, the contract renegotiations may have worked somewhat in Dish’s favor.
Because of the demands of CBS, and Disney before it, the satellite service had the opportunity to work in “over-the-top” or online rights to carry their TV programming.
With that clause sealed into the deals, Dish has a stronger basis now for launching an Internet TV service. The Disney deal, in particular, could be valuable in that case. Not only do the terms bring ABC to the table, but ESPN as well.
For CBS, it’s a somewhat surprising move. The broadcaster apparently finds its programming so valuable, it charges people $6 per month for its own standalone Internet subscription service.
Streaming’s importance in living rooms and mobiles has grown quite a bit—so much so that Nielsen will start tracking Netflix’s online viewership. In that light, Dish’s side benefit seems significant—even if it came at the price of waylaying Auto Hop.
The Long Hop
It’s worth noting that, so far, Dish delayed Auto Hop on those select channels. It’s not hobbled everywhere, and the company didn’t completely kill it off. Plus, it’s not the only way to skip commercials. Manual fast-forwarding through them still works fine.
Nonetheless, Auto Hop has been the contentious point for broadcasters, including CBS, Disney (ABC/ESPN), Comcast (NBC) and Fox, all of whom have tried (and failed at) suing Dish over it. The reason: advertising metrics. Broadcasters base ad rates on estimated viewership. If they can’t prove people watch the commercials, especially during the highly prized first-run programming, their ability to sell air time significantly weakens.
CBS and Disney have managed to beat back the Auto Hop threat, so they dropped their lawsuits. Expectations are high that Comcast and Fox will do the same. And if they do, Dish may get the full house of major broadcasting channels necessary for an upcoming Internet streaming TV service.
By that point, the traditional set-top DVR and individual features may not mean all that much anymore.
Photo by 360b, courtesy of Shutterstock
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Many agencies and Internet marketers deliver a summary of performance for PPC and SEO on a weekly or monthly basis, but who decides what data goes into these reports, what metrics to include, and which graph to use to visualize the data?
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Starbucks has become practically synonymous with mobile payments, thanks to its innovative app which lets you buy coffee with money stored on a prepaid card.
So people got excited when Apple CEO Tim Cook flashed the Starbucks logo on the screen while talking about Apple Pay at a product-launch event Thursday.
In fact, Apple had previously announced Starbucks as an Apple Pay partner in September. But the details, now that we know more of them, are a little disappointing.
You can’t buy a latte with your iPhone 6. Starbucks is only supporting the in-app version of Apple Pay. It will be “primarily for loading and reloading” your Starbucks Card, says Maggie Jantzen, a Starbucks spokesperson. Starbucks stores don’t currently have the NFC technology needed to make use of Apple’s tap-to-pay feature.
Starbucks is not actually a launch partner for Apple Pay. Apple Pay is launching Monday, October 20. But Jantzen says the reloading feature will be available “in the coming months.”
Using Apple Pay this way is actually kind of stupid. Consider these two options:
- Launch Starbucks app. Go to account settings. Tap to reload card. Select Apple Pay as a payment option. Authenticate with your fingerprint. Tap to verify the transaction. Pay at the register with the Starbucks app.
- Set your Starbucks Card up for automatic reload. Pay at the register with Starbucks app.
Why would anyone pick the first one?
The bottom line: Apple Pay will save you from having to enter in your credit- or debit-card number if you need to reload your Starbucks Card. But you’re far better off just using the Starbucks app and keeping your card on file for automatic reloads. And it changes nothing about how you actually pay for your latte.
Photo by Kayla Kandzorra
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NoSQL, the newish alternative to traditional relational databases, is a big deal, but it can also be a big mess: there are more than 100 different NoSQL databases, and several different kinds ranging from document to key-value to columnar to graph databases. Even more confusingly, relational databases are now cross-dressing as NoSQL databases, adding support for JSON, among other things.
And yet enterprises are navigating the potential pitfalls and embracing NoSQL in droves. Today Redis Labs, the company behind the popular in-memory, key-value NoSQL database Redis, announced that it has hit 3,000 paying customers.
This number would be impressive for any company, but it’s particularly noteworthy for a company that has to compete with rivals who are also selling Redis.
The Redis Phenomenon
Most people tend to think of Redis as a close cousin to Memcached, an open-source memory-caching system often used to speed up data-intensive websites by limiting the number of database calls. That’s true up to a point, although it doesn’t do Redis justice.
Redis also offers “built-in persistence (snapshotting or journaling to disk) and more datatypes,” which, among other things, means “you can use Redis as a real database instead of just a volatile cache,” as Carl Zulauf described on Stack Overflow.
I interviewed Redis Labs co-founder and CEO Ofer Bengal this week, and he stressed that while Redis Labs is still early in its market adoption, “we are starting to also see enterprises adopt us.” That’s in addition to the early adopter Web companies and startups that have been its staple to date.
Based on Leo Polovets’ analysis of AngelList data, Redis is one of the hottest database technologies around:
It is not, however, always easy to use—or, rather, to overcome the operational limitations Redis presents to those trying to run it in the cloud. Redis Labs built a proxy-based architecture that overcomes Redis limitations and makes it easier for companies to have a good experience running Redis at scale.
Redis Finds Its Customer Niche
Regardless, Redis isn’t growing at the expense of relational database systems, Bengal told me. Instead, it’s enabling a whole new class of high-performance applications:
Redis is a bit different from other NoSQL systems in that it is served from RAM. RAM is much more expensive than disk, so Redis isn’t used as a replacement for other databases but people instead use it for net new use cases, architected for Redis. We have users that base their entire application on Redis.
Early on, Bengal said, the company saw Redis used side-by-side with Cassandra and other databases. “But now we’re seeing entire applications built on Redis,” he said. “Not the majority, but it’s a nice trend.”
So far, that trend is mostly playing out in a few particularly industries. Bengal said Redis Labs’ 3,000 customers are largely concentrated in gaming, online advertising and financial services. The common thread connecting them? Speed. As he noted, “Most use cases have to do with high performance, given that Redis is the fastest database today.”
Unlike most open source companies, Redis Labs doesn’t provide consulting services. Frankly, it hasn’t needed to, given the active Redis community.
Nor has it needed to roll out training, though Bengal told me that the company expects to do this soon. As he says:
Redis has very attractive data types and commands that are very useful in almost any application. So developers really love Redis. It’s not very complex so people are doing OK with it without formal training.
Fortunately for Bengal, however, 3,000 companies feel the need to make Redis even easier by running Redis Labs’ cloud services.
Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock
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Maybe you told Facebook why you hid an ad in the past, but the social network didn’t really use that information to change the ads it showed you. That’s changed.
On Thursday, Facebook announced two new updates that are meant to help show people “better,” ads—as in, advertisements you might actually click on, thus providing better service to Facebook advertisers.
Facebook has provided the option to hide ads by clicking, “I don’t want to see this,” just like any other post, for years. But the company is now using information gathered by that feature to ask you why you’re hiding a particular ad in an effort to get a more comprehensive understanding as to why people hide ads. (Beyond the obvious “No one likes ads.”)
It’s unclear what Facebook was doing with the information you provided before this update, and the company declined to disclose what that data was used for. But now the social network is using it to determine which ads to display in your timeline.
After hiding an ad, Facebook will ask you why, and if you decide to provide feedback, you’ll see something that looks like this:
Feedback like, “It’s not relevant to me,” and “It’s spam,” can help Facebook better understand what you want to see. If the ads just aren’t interesting to you, Facebook will show you different ones. But if it’s offensive or spammy, the company might not display it on other users’ newsfeeds.
“When testing this update, we looked at when people told us that ads were offensive or inappropriate and stopped showing those ads,” product manager Max Eulenstein said in a blog post. “As a result, we saw a significant decrease in the number of ads people reported as offensive or inappropriate.”
Additionally the company will start paying more attention to users who only occasionally hide posts from their newsfeed. According to the company, if someone hides advertisements rarely, that will factor in what ads they show them, and if there’s even a small chance someone will hide a particular ad, it won’t appear in the newsfeed.
“When testing this update, we saw that people who rarely hide ads ended up hiding 30 percent fewer ads with this change,” the company said.
This won’t really affect the majority of advertisers, Facebook said. Only the ones that have terrible ads people tend to not want to see pop up in their feed. Of course, with extra data provided by users, advertisers will be able to target ads even more effectively.
Lead image by Doug Hay
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There’s no cellphone owner who doesn’t understand intimately the special agony of watching their device drain and then … die. It’s a universal. Most people have a plan B: Use a Mophie juice pack, bring along a charger and pray for an outlet—or this reporter’s favorite, hang out in a bar for an hour and use the bartender’s charger. There’s always one behind the counter.
A new startup called Q Designs is hoping to make juicing on the go a bit more convenient. The company just launched pre-orders for its first product, a sleek bracelet that conceals enough rechargeable lithium-ion battery to give your phone a 60% charge. The bangle, available for both Android and iOS devices, unhooks to reveal the connector.
We took a look at one of the prototypes a few weeks ago, and it’s really, truly not bad-looking. It comes in black, silver and gold, the last of which co-founders James Kernan and Alessandro Libani say they spent a lot of time getting exactly right. The bracelet is still fairly thick—according to Kernan, making it any thinner would reduce the charging potential significantly —so it’s a statement, but a clean one.
It’s also not terribly expensive. Pre-orders run at $79, and the bracelet will eventually retail for $99, hopefully in time for the holiday season. Although frankly it’s the type of thing we’d like to have for September’s various fashion weeks, a.k.a. the month of dead phones.
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After much hype over YouTube’s rumored music service and delays in its launch, big changes are finally coming to the video site and Google Play Music All Access.
On Monday, Android Police reported that Google-owned YouTube is launching YouTube Music Key, a paid streaming music service that will offer ad-free, audio-only and offline playback for $9.99 per month. What’s more, Google Play All Access will be rebranded as Google Play Music Key. YouTube may actually have a winner on its hands with this new service if it stays close to its video streaming roots.
Google has already added 20 million tracks and complete albums to Youtube Music Key, and has also acquired the domain YouTubeMusicKey.com.
In addition, YouTube’s new streaming site will offer concert footage, remixes, and cover songs. This may be the key to making the service take off. Music is a huge and integral part of YouTube’s ecosystem, a place where video streaming fans can access and discover music videos, concert clips, radio performances, fan covers, and more.
YouTube has long been instrumental in music discovery. In 2013, Billboard included the number of YouTube plays into determining its Hot 100 Singles Chart. Many YouTube users, like myself, use the video site to play songs through a single video or a playlist. I’ll use YouTube not only to watch Sam Smith’s music video, but also to see a video of him singing the same song live, or to watch a fan-made cover of the song.
YouTube is making a smart move by replicating the accessibility and range of its video site on YouTube Music Key. Fans who flock to YouTube to see the full range of possibility for a song or artist will be able to do the same with the paid streaming service.
One question remains: Will users fork over the $9.99 per month for this YouTube-curated streaming service, or will they continue to go the free route on the already established video streaming site? We’ll have to wait and see. Google has not commented on when YouTube Music Key is set to launch.
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Ben Balter wants to get all up in the U.S. government’s code, and he thinks you should be able to as well. Balter, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer, is GitHub’s official Government Evangelist. His purpose: to educate government agencies about adopting open-source software.
Balter’s battle is an uphill one, but it’s finally beginning to pay off. GitHub, the nation’s most popular Web-based hosting service for mostly open-source coding projects, has just surpassed 10,000 active users within federal, state, and local governments—a number that’s roughly two and a half times larger than it was at this time last year.
GitHub revolves around the repository—basically, a directory where users store the underlying code for computer programs. In exchange for free hosting, GitHub requires repositories are open source; that means anyone can copy or suggest edits to software hosted there. That includes major open source projects like Ruby On Rails and some projects by companies like Facebook and Twitter.
The United States Of GitHub
GitHub began training its sights on government last fall with the launch of GitHub and Government, a portal designed to help government workers take advantage of open source software and tools so they can reuse pieces of code that are known to work—and so don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel.
Balter’s job is to be GitHub’s eyes and ears in Washington by meeting with agencies and educating them about the basics of open source software. The biggest problem is the culture, he says.
For instance, when Balter sends government agencies links to GitHub repositories, they frequently ask him to resend PDFs or PowerPoint slideshows instead. Such “closed data” formats—meaning there’s no way to extract data and do something (anything!) with it—are anathema to the freewheeling, flexible GitHub culture.
As Balter told me:
You’ve got government contractors that only know legacy languages. You’ve got administrators within government that don’t know whether open source can be trusted. So there’s a lot of education that needs to happen. Plus, there’s an entire industry dedicated to selling closed solutions to the government, and open source has to compete with that.
But the government is more open to modernization than it once was. HealthCare.gov, the Obama administration’s initially disastrous website for Affordable Care Act signups, was a wake-up call regarding the atrocious interfaces and outdated technology of some government Web pages and their underlying services.
When The Feds Go Digital
Now, the White House has taken a page from San Francisco. Earlier this week it established a new U.S. Digital Service that, among other things, will set out technology best practices for the federal government. Running it will be Mikey Dickerson, the former Google employee who led a team credited with fixing the problems at HealthCare.gov.
It’s one small step for a government mainly stuck in the dark ages of technology. Balter told me that while he was on the White House SWAT (Software Automation and Technology) team, he wrote a script that cut the time one White House lawyer had previously spent messing around with spreadsheets from 45 minutes—to one:
As a taxpayer, we want these people working on law stuff, not busywork. And they would collect FOIA requests in spreadsheets and they would spend 45 minutes a day merging those spreadsheets. So we coded a script in 30 minutes so they can press a button and do that 45 minutes of work in one click. And if we share this script with other agencies, that’s the value of open source. We can free up government employees’ time to work smarter.
When usability and modernization are still major problems with some government websites, it’s a little early to be thinking about citizen participation. However, Balter is optimistic. He wants to have all 50 state governments using GitHub in some capacity by year’s end.
“I want your average 18-year-old to have the same facts and figures as a K Street lobbyist,” he said. “Where he or she can walk into a congressional office and point out a discrepancy with the open data he or she found in the government’s GitHub repository. And in my dream, the congressperson says, ‘You can submit a pull request to fix it.’ All of a sudden everyone’s on equal footing and we have participatory democracy.”
Local Government Wins, Too
One of GitHub and Government’s major success stories is the city of Chicago, where government employees and citizens are working side-by-side to map the city’s bike routes. Meanwhile, the city of Philadelphia’s proposed data specifications for flu shot locations was so successful, Chicago and San Francisco later borrowed the code.
When GitHub says that it has 10,000 “active” government users, it really means government users who have “done something on GitHub other than signing up.” So while it’s unrealistic to assume 10,000 government employees are regularly using open source technology, it’s still possible that 10,000 of them think open source is a very good idea.
“There’s nothing preventing the government from modernizing,” he said. “If we hit the reset button, I think more people would envision a more open government that ‘shows its work’.”
Lead photo courtesy of GitHub; photo of Ben Balter courtesy of Ben Balter
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