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Loyal YouTube users get to upload longer videos

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Agence France-Presse 

SAN FRANCISCO--Filmmakers who have played by the rules on YouTube can now post works longer than 15 minutes at the world's leading video-sharing website.

Google-owned YouTube in July raised the video-length limit to 15 minutes for all users but has sent out word that filmmakers who haven't abused copyright and other rules will be exempted from that time cap.

"Our creativity isn't bound by a time limit, so why should our video uploads be?" Google product manager Joshua Siegel and company software engineer Doug Mayle asked rhetorically in a blog post Friday.

"As long as it's your original content, it's fair game regardless of length."

The move was made possible in part by better tools for identifying copyrighted material posted on YouTube without permission from content owners, according to Siegel and Mayle.

Major US movie and music studios are among the more than 1,000 "global partners" that use a Content ID system to manage their digitized material on YouTube.

Videomakers can click an "upload" icon on YouTube to learn whether their accounts qualify to post longer works.


Wi-Fi lifeline reaches remote Himalayas

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Agence France-Presse

NAGI--It used to take teacher Mahabir Pun more than two days to check his email from his home in the remote Himalayan village of Nagi in western Nepal.

The 55-year-old would walk for seven hours to the nearest road before taking a three-hour bus ride along precarious mountain tracks to the only town in the area with an Internet connection.

Today, all Pun has to do is log on to the wireless network he has set up over the past few years, catapulting more than 100 impoverished villages in Nepal into the 21st century.

The technology has transformed lives in some of the most inhospitable places on earth, where there are no roads or hospitals and where most people scratch out a meagre living as subsistence farmers.

It allows communities to access vital medical expertise via videolink, stay in touch with loved-ones abroad, and even sell their yaks, goats and chickens online on www.nepalwireless.com -- a sort of e-Bay for local farmers.

"We chose areas where no commercial Internet service provider would ever go," says Pun, who estimates that around 70,000 people can access the network.

"When we started, almost no one in rural Nepal was using the Internet. Now we have connected more than 100 villages. But that is nothing, there are thousands more villages like these in Nepal."

It all started when Pun travelled to the United States in the 1990s to study for a masters degree. The Internet was just becoming popular, and one of his professors suggested they set up a web site for his home village.

It was one of the first Internet sites to mention Nepal, and by the time he returned home, Pun was being bombarded by messages from people around the world who wanted to visit the 800-strong mountain community.

"At that time, not even businesses in (the capital) Kathmandu had websites, but Nagi did," he told AFP in his native village, 2,200 metres (7,200 feet) up in the Himalayas.

"I was getting emails from all sorts of people including doctors and college professors, and they all wanted to know what they could do to help our village. So I invited them to come and volunteer."

Pun decided his students should learn about this emerging new technology, but the school could not afford to buy a computer. So he asked everyone who came to bring a component, and set about teaching himself to build one.

He organised a collection centre in the backpacker district of Kathmandu, and managed to put together around a dozen makeshift computers, building them in wooden crates and distributing them to schools in the area.

But it was not until 2002 that, with the help of volunteer students, a plan was formed to hook up the village to the Internet using a wi-fi connection from the nearest major town, Pokhara.

There were myriad challenges. No one had ever tried to build a wi-fi network at such a high altitude before, and a series of relay towers had to be built to beam the signal through the narrow valleys.

All the construction materials had to be carried up the mountain by hand along with the solar panels needed for power. The highest stands at 3,600 metres, and is manned by a yak farmer who has to check the connections daily.

Mains electricity had still not reached any of the villages, and to make things even more difficult, Nepal was in the grip of a bloody Maoist insurgency and Nagi had fallen completely under the control of the leftist guerrillas.

"The Maoists had eyes everywhere. They used to come and ask lots of questions, but they didn't know much about the Internet," says Pun.

"All the parts we used were totally illegal. If the army had come here more frequently, they would have put a stop to it."

Once again, Pun asked his foreign volunteers to bring what they could to help -- customs officials, he reasoned, would be unlikely to suspect Western backpackers of smuggling in contraband communications equipment.

Nagi was the first village to be connected, and by September 2003, five villages in Myagdi district, around 200 miles (300 kilometres) north-west of Kathmandu, were accessing the network.

Now, Pun operates two networks that connect more than 100 villages to the Internet -- a significant achievement in a country where just 6.3 percent of people have online access.

In 2007 he was awarded the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay prize -- widely viewed as the Asian equivalent of the Nobel -- for community leadership.

But he is determined to avoid the world of "conferences, resolutions and commitments," and has said he only accepted because the $50,000 prize could help put more villages online.

To keep costs down, Pun travels around the country by public bus and works from a tiny office in his family home.

The local Internet service provider charges a discounted rate of 45,000 rupees ($640) a month for the connection, with the cost shared between dozens of villages in the area.

In Nagi, they have set up a paper-making business to raise funds, and Pun is working with the government to create a new trekking route he hopes will bring much-needed tourist dollars to the villages.

In the packed computer room at Nagi school, the impact on the community is clear.

At one terminal sits 63-year-old Amar Pun whose three children, like many Nepalese, have moved abroad, unable to find work in their home country.

"They send news of their lives by email and I send back news of the village. It feels great to be in touch, I love hearing from them," he says.

Teenagers chat on Facebook to friends in neighbouring villages, watch Nepalese pop music on YouTube and look up the latest gossip on their favourite football players.

In the village clinic, health worker Rupa Pun connects every morning to a Kathmandu hospital using a webcam, allowing patients to be seen by doctors hundreds of miles away.

"It used to take sick patients two days to get down into the valley for treatment. They had to be carried in a basket or on a makeshift stretcher," she says.

"Before, we could only treat minor illnesses here. Now the doctor can give his diagnosis and send the right drugs up here if we don't already have them. It has made a huge difference to our lives."

Britain's royals join Facebook, but poking not allowed

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 Agence France-Pressse

 

LONDON--They are already regular users of Twitter and YouTube -- but now Britain's royal family is setting up its own page on Internet social networking site Facebook.

 

The British Monarchy page features pictures, videos, news and speeches from Queen Elizabeth II and heir to the throne Prince Charles, plus his two sons Princes William and Harry, among others.

 

But Facebook users hoping to "poke" the queen, become her Facebook friend or post comments on her status updates will be left disappointed.

 

The monarchy has created a page on the hugely popular site, rather than a personal profile, meaning that its Facebook followers will merely receive updates on new postings through their news feed.

 

Buckingham Palace has frequently emphasised the queen's desire to embrace new media.

 

She has a BlackBerry and an iPod and sent her first email from a military base as long ago as 1976, royal officials have said.

 

Buckingham Palace set up a royal channel on YouTube in 2007 and signed up for micro-blogging site Twitter in 2009. The monarchy also has its own photostream on picture-sharing site Flickr.


INTERNET giant Yahoo! has invaded more mobile devices, including RIMâs Blackber ry and the Apple iPhone. The mobile portal of the Internet giant is now be available in over 300 mobile devices. The company now allows users to download the mobile application in 8 countries, including the Philippines. Once installed in a mobile device that has HTML-capable browsing features, the Internet giant's mobile portal activates several services that are commonly acc essed from its main site, including search, email, messenger, and news updates. A separate installation version is available for iPhone users, the company said . A version for Windows-based smartphones would be made available by the end of M ay, it added. Yahoo! Mobile Senior Vice President David Ko said the mobile application target s users wanting personalized web services on their mobile devices. "It is a dynamic starting point enabling consumers to discover the world around them, stay connected through a variety of communication services, and customiz e content to define their Internet experience on mobile devices," Ko said.
Agence France-Presse WASHINGTON--Better think twice before choosing a password for emails, online ba nk accounts and airline tickets. Passwords that show no imagination or distinctiveness are easy prey for informa tion pirates, a new US study says. A statistical analysis of 28,000 passwords recently stolen from a popular US we bsite and posted on the Internet reveals that people often do the easy thing. It found that 16 percent took a first name as a password, often their own or on e of their children, according to the study published by Information Week. Another 14 percent relied on the easiest keyboard combinations to re member such as "1234" or "12345678." For those using English keyboards, "QWERTY ", was popular. Likewise, "AZERTY" scored with people with European keyboards. Five percent of the stolen passwords were names of television shows or stars po pular with young people like "hannah," inspired by singer Hannah Montana. "Poke mon," "Matrix," and "Ironman" were others. The word "password" or easy to guess variations like "password1" accounted for four percent. Three percent of the passwords expressed attitudes like "I don't care," "Whatev er," "Yes" or "No." There were sentimental choices -- "Iloveyou" -- and their opposite -- "Ihateyou ." Robert Graham, of the company Errata Security, which did the analysis and publi shed the conclusions, advises that to better protect against cyber intrusions: "choose a password that is longer than eight characters with one capital letter and one symbol."
By Anna Valmero INQUIRER.net Search engine giant Google has rolled another experiment through its web-based email service Gmail. It's called "Gmail offline." While the announcement comes after Zimbra's own offline email offering, Gmail u sers were excited (myself included) with the launch of this offline feature. It means I could read my messages even if I don't have an Internet connection. To set up Gmail offline on your PC, follow these steps: 1. Open Gmail account online. Set Language to English. 2. On the upper right hand corner of the account page, click Settings, then cli ck Labs Tab. 3. Tick Enable next to Offline Gmail. 4. Click Save Changes. 5. After reloading the browser, "Offline0.1" link appears next to the user name (username@gmail.com). Click the new link to start the setup of Gmail offline. (Setup time depends on the number and size of your emails.) (Reminder: Before starting the setup, make sure to use a browser supported by G mail Labs and Gears--IE 7, Firefox 2.0 up, Safari 3.0 up or Google Chrome--and have Google Gears, free software, installed in your PC). As the name suggests, Gmail offline allows users to access messages on Gmail even without connecting to the Internet. The feature was tested for over a year at Google Labs division before it was la unched and is still in the experimental stage, according to Gmail engineer Andy Palay at the Google blog site. So how does it work? When online, Gmail uses Google Gears technology to download a local cache of yo ur mail. An algorithm determines the "latest and most important" messages for d ownload and syncs a maximum of 10,000 messages in your local disk. The time needed for synchronizing messages depends on the number and size of th e attachments to be downloaded. Using wireless connection, it took me two hours to sync while I was continuousl y reading and replying to messages. A friendly note: Do not to enable this feature when using public computers to p rotect your account. Gmail offline only requires you to enter your log in name. So after almost a week of trial, here's my verdict: The downside: Adding attachments in reply messages while in Offline or Flaky mo de is currently not supported. But Google Labs is now working on it (according to the message prompt that appe ars when you click "Attach File"). The Calendar and Contacts manager features are also inaccessible. And since not all messages will be synced to your hard disk, email search results are limite d to those that are downloaded in your local cache. The feature is only availab le in English as of this writing. The upside: Since the messages are stored in your hard disk, it is faster to se arch, read and label messages. You can reply to messages, which are then stored in the Outbox folder. Reply messages will be sent once you connect to Gmail. A ttachments such as images, PDF files and text documents can be viewed and downl oaded or saved to your PC. Setting up Gmail offline for multiple computers is also possible. So you can ha ve this on both your home or mobile PC (separate syncing is required). Users ca n opt to use the âFlaky connection modeâ if you have a really poor Internet con nection. So have you tried Gmail offline? What's your take?
Agence France-Presse WASHINGTON--Microsoft plunged into the crowded field of online entertainment and celebrity news on Thursday, taking the wraps off a new website known as Wonderwall. Wonderwall.com is a joint venture between MSN, the Internet arm of the US softw are giant, and BermanBraun Interactive, a media company based in Santa Monica, California. "Wonderwall offers people an engaging and visually dynamic perspective on the d ay's hottest pop culture stories, personalities and trends," MSN and BermanBrau n said in a statement. The main feature of Wonderwall.com is a nearly full-screen wall of p ictures with links to stories, photo galleries and video. The wall can be scrolled horizontally, an experience MSN and BermanBraun likene d to "flipping through a favorite magazine." The site features a feed of the latest celebrity news and categories such as "T op Celebs" and "LOL Pics," the "funniest photos of celebs from around the Web." "Wonderwall offers a clever, thought-provoking and amusing voice to fans of cel ebrity and is a great addition to MSN's portfolio of entertainment content," sa id Rob Bennett, general manager of network programming for MSN. Entertainment and celebrity news are among the most popular subjects for Web su rfers and Wonderwall will be competing for audience with sites such as TMZ.com, people.com and perezhilton.com, to name just a few.
INTER NET services giant Google Inc. has launched the Google Earth 5.0 with an update called Ocean. The new feature allows users to look at 3D images of the underwa ter terrain and view the world's large bodies of water. Two additional features were also added to Google Earth 5.0. They include the H istorical Imagery and Touring. The former is a virtual time travel to areas usi ng archived satellite imagery. The latter is a feature that allows users to exp erience a voice-over tour of Google Earth. Users can view photos and videos embedded n Google Earth 5.0. There are also ad ditional materials from about 80 oceanographic organizations and a National Geo graphic Magazine quiz feature. There are also archival videos from the famous o ceanographer Jacques Cousteau. There is also a new Google Earth "GSP tracking" feature, which was initially av ailable on the paid versions of Google Earth. Incidentally, Google added these features to highlight environmental issues. Go ogle has already invited to the launch of Google Earth 5.0 former vice presiden t and environment advocate Al Gore who spoke of the new Historical Imagery feat ure, which also shows the drastic environmental changes happening to the planet . In light of these new Google Earth features, Google CEO Eric Schmidt talked abo ut the biodiversity loss in the world's oceans and said that the Internet compa ny can help change people's perception of the environment. Some Philippine oceanographic landmarks are also highlighted in Google Earth 5. 0. Among these are Apo Coral Reef and dive spots in the island resort of Boraca y and Siargao. The Google Earth 5.0 software can be downloaded for free. Watch this video:
By Marjorie Gorospe INQUIRER.net IMAGINE talking to someone in a con ference room, but that person is in a different country, in a different time zo ne. Sounds familiar? Well, if youâre used to online chats and web cameras, this technology might not be that impressive until you see it âlive.â Telepresence combines several technologi es that allow you and remote participants to conduct virtual conference as if y ouâre in one room. Sounds like science fiction? It is a virtual âin-person experience,â and aims to be life-like because it use s high-definition streaming video, high-quality audio that creates a more inter active environment. Ciscoâs telepresence is designed to let people use other non-verbal means to co mmunicate, such as gestures. A telepresence setup includes purpose-built office furniture, which incorporates cameras and displays, lighting, speakers, microphones and projecto rs. In a recent briefing, I saw this setup in Ciscoâs office in Makati. During a demonstration, Ciscoâs Managing Director for Emerging Countries Christ ian Hentschel and Peter Bocquet who were both in Singapore engaged us about thi s technology. Telepresence aims to simulate a natural office environment, where people can st ill talk face to face even though theyâre oceans apart. Cisco says telePresence is now being used by multinational companies, such as P rocter and Gamble. Hentschel says that telepresence is attracting global businesses since it is a more convenient and cost-effective means to hold meetings without the need to t ravel. âIt cannot replace personal relationships but when it comes to businesses, tele presence is the best platform,â the Cisco executive says. Currently, telepresence technology is mainly used by businesses. It would be good if this technology would soon become accessible to everyone. I was thinking that the overseas Filipino workers would stand to benefit from th is in the future.
By Glenn Chapman AFP SAN FRANCISCO--The first US Internet president is an online sensation, triggeri ng a tidal wave of Web traffic as he officially seized the nation's reins on Tu esday. Millions around the world commented, Twittered, posted and prayed as they watch ed Barack Obama's inauguration live on the Internet, pinning their hopes on a n ew world order and era in American politics. Akamai Technologies, which specializes in assuring that websites don't crash un der the weight of heavy online traffic, saw digital content streaming surge to record levels -- more than two terabytes of data per second. "Take a busy day for Akamai and double it, that is where you are," said Akamai corporate communications director Jeff Young. "It was an immense online streami ng day." Akamai said its EdgePlatform was streaming more than seven million v ideo feeds, most of them live, at points during Obama's acceptance speech. "In addition to the historic nature of the Inauguration, it is now clear that t his event has driven unprecedented demand from a global online audience," said Akamai marketing vice president Robert Hughes. During the inauguration, the number of Haiku-style updates fired off by users o f Twitter leapt fivefold, the micro-blogging service said. "Overall, Twitter sailed smoothly through the inauguration but at the peak, som e folks did experience a 2-5 minute delay receiving updates," a Twitter blog en try said. "We'll be analyzing this later today so that during the next massively shared g lobal event there is no appreciable delay. Exciting!" Hot social-networking website Facebook said the rate of profile page updates su rged, peaking at an unprecedented 8,500 per minute during Obama's speech. Facebook and CNN had teamed together to let viewers post comments or other upda tes to their social network pages while watching the news organization's online broadcast of the inauguration. A contributing factor to the online popularity of the inauguration was likely t hat the swearing-in of Obama took place when many people in the United States w ere at work with computers and high-speed Internet. "The Internet is more mature; broadband adoption has grown, and the galvanizing nature of the inauguration all played a part," Young said. "Combined with it being 11:00 am on a Tuesday, when the East Coast is in the of fice, the West Coast is getting to work and Europe is home online." Millions scrambled to sign in, watch the trailblazing proceedings live from hom es or offices... and air their views for the entire world. One US blogger said the National Mall, where the ceremony was held, was once a slave market and that the White House was built by black slaves. Others feted the entry of the first black man in the White House. "You stand today as a beacon of hope for the world," wrote Farayi Makwanya from Britain. "Change has come to the US and indeed to the whole world. People of a ll races are smiling..." Unflattering references to Obama's predecessor George W. Bush quickly clogged u p the blog sites. A post on the New York Times site said the "brass band picks up as if to drown the boos" accompanying Bush and outgoing Vice President Dick Cheney. The frenzy was not without dangers. Hackers were using dozens of fake websites linked to Obama's inauguration to sp read a virus on the Internet, Panda Security warned. More than 70 websites are running a bogus news story titled "Barack Obama has r efused to be a president," aimed at tricking Internet users into downloading th e computer virus, according to Panda. It said the cyber-attack appeared to have originated in China, based on analysi s of the website domain names, which were all bought by a Chinese company linke d to previous cyber-attacks. In India, the world's largest democracy, messages of hope flooded the website o f NTDV, one of the country's top television channels airing the proceedings liv e on the Internet. "Eight years of seeing things as black or white have resulted in two possibly f ailed wars and a tarnished reputation the world over," wrote a man who identifi ed himself as Siddharth. NDTV said Obama would have a "clearer shot at greatness than any of his recent predecessors," precisely due to the burdensome legacy he was inheriting from Bu sh. Obama is saddled with recession and has to deal with wars in Iraq and Afghanist an and the threat of terrorism amid a historic transfer of power. "But in great crisis lies great opportunity," it said. A viewer wrote in the New York Times that while the hope invested in Obama was a "little unrealistic," sometimes "people need a hero and a little blind faith. "Obama is the man! The worst president ever will be followed by the best," he w rote.

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