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Google self-driving car hits a bus

One of Google’s self driving test cars has hit a bus, in what is probably the first collision caused by the search giant’s test cars. To date all collisions so far have either been caused by other vehicles or by people driving the cars. The party to blame has still not been determined and Google will meet with the California DMV.

In a statement, Google said:

“We clearly bear some responsibility, because if our car hadn’t moved, there wouldn’t have been a collision. That said, our test driver believed the bus was going to slow or stop to allow us to merge into the traffic, and that there would be sufficient space to do that.”

Google releases a report with details of its self driving car tests every month. The report read:

“The Google AV [autonomous vehicle] test driver saw the bus approaching in the left side mirror but believed the bus would stop or slow to allow the Google AV to continue,” the report read.

“Approximately three seconds later, as the Google AV was re-entering the centre of the lane it made contact with the side of the bus.

“The Google AV was operating in autonomous mode and travelling at less than two mph, and the bus was travelling at about 15mph at the time of contact.”

Google has also refined its algorithm after the incident:

“From now on, our cars will more deeply understand that buses (and other large vehicles) are less likely to yield to us than other types of vehicles, and we hope to handle situations like this more gracefully in the future.”

Were the DMV to find the self driving car at fault for the collision, it would be a massive setback for the program just after the NTSB ruled that it would consider the self driving computer the same as a human driver.

3 Ways to Keep Your Outlook Email Account Clean

Almost ten years have passed since Gmail overtook Hotmail in the email with a number of users now switching back to the polished Outlook that is, for all practical purposes, Hotmail’s successor.

This trend is for the simple reason that Outlook has a number of features that make it so much better than its competitors.

That said, here are 3 tips that will help you manage your Outlook email account better:

#1: Schedule a sweep

Not only will this feature allow you to sending certain messages to certain folders but it will also

help you to clean out messages from certain senders. In fact, you can even regularly schedule a cleanup of old messages or even newsletters that you receive on a regular basis. It’s easier to use than you think and can keep your inbox clutter-free.

#2: OneDrive Integration

Similar to Gmail’s integration with Google drive, Outlook has also done the same with OneDrive. Instead of sending large files to people, you can upload the file to OneDrive and send them a link. All you have to do is select the Insert from the blue options bar at the top of the compose Windows as well as select Share from OneDrive in the drop-down menu. In doing this, a link will be added to the bottom of the email and will allow viewers to see or even download the file.

#3: The ‘View’ menu

The ‘View’ menu comes with a number of features that allows you to see messages based on pre-determined types. From the view menu, you can see unread messages, only messages from contacts, newsletters, social updates or even groups. The View option is located just above your messages in the main inbox.

Google Reveals Increase In Government Requests For User Information, US And India Lead

With the latest Google Transparency Report released, it is clear that there is an increase in government requests to access user data as well as take down controversial content from Google.

Explaining the rise in government surveillance, Google made a statement at their official blog, writing, “This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise. As you can see from the graph below, government demands for user data have increased steadily since we first launched the Transparency Report. In the first half of 2012, there were 20,938 inquiries from government entities around the world. Those requests were for information about 34,614 accounts.”

When broken down by individual country, the United States made the most user requests at 7969 requests while India was a distant second by making 2319 user requests. Google complied with 90 percent US government requests but only 64 percent when it came to requests from the Indian government.

Brazil, United Kingdom and Germany followed with 1625, 1455 and 1426 requests with Google complying with their requests by 90, 64 and 45 percent.

As for information takedown requests, defamation, privacy and security and government criticism were the main reasons for Google to receive these requests. Yet despite the rise of these requests, Google’s compliance has been decreasing ever since this report was first released in 2010.

While Google did partially comply with information takedown requests consisting of 160 videos made by Russia, there were other requests, in particular in Australia, where comments were made against law enforcement that they didn’t comply with.

Compared to the last report released at the end of 2011, requests from the Turkish and United Kingdom government rose by 1013 and 98 percent.

Demands made to block Anti-Islam Movie on YouTube by King Abdullah

Following demands made by the Saudi ruler, King Abdullah, YouTube has blocked access to the anti-Islam movie titled ‘The Innocence of Muslims’. The Saudi government has also revealed that if Google do not comply, they will block access to the entire site.

In explaining YouTube’s precarious position [and actions] to the demands made from several quarters, a YouTube official said, “We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions. This can be a challenge because what’s OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere. This video – which is widely available on the web – is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube.”

Apart from blocking the video, which is considered blasphemous, in Saudi Arabia, it has also been blocked in other countries such as India, Indonesia, Libya and Egypt where the video is considered illegal by its governments.

However, the video cannot be removed from YouTube entirely as it meets the guidelines for posting video content set by the firm itself, and which has been why the company has rejected requests from the White House to remove the film completely from their site.

A spokesperson for Google explains how difficult it is to deal with controversial content as a company due to a variety of needs and cultures that they have to cater to but also said that their approach to keeping this video online is consistent with policies and principles that were first laid in 2007.

Microsoft Says “Quality Over Quantity” in The Mobile Apps Race

They call it the mobile-apps race, and despite the fact that Microsoft has recently joined in the race – with the release of the Windows Phone 7 operating system, though still behind Google and Apple, there is no doubt that there is progress when it comes to the developments that Microsoft is spearheading.

According to the latest updates, the Windows Marketplace has about 11500 applications out of which 7500 of them have to be paid for, while about 1110 apps generate ad revenue without charging anything to the customers.

While an average of these users download about 12 apps a month from the store, these figures pale in comparison to the industry leaders like Apple that has about 350,000 apps, while Google comes in second with about 150,000 apps.

Apple recently announced that ten billion apps had been downloaded so far from the iTunes store, while the number of Android apps have increased by 127 percent between August and February last year. One of Google’s top officials recently stated that by the middle of next year, the Android Market will become the market leader based on the number of apps available to its users.

However, Microsoft clearly states that it is not concerned about the meager number of apps that are already available because its focus is on quality more than quantity.  And with about 36000 developers working to develop apps for this Windows product, they are looking to create more possibilities and bring more functionality to new markets.

A Note of Customizable MySpace Backgrounds

Having your own page over the internet is one of the coolest things to do these days, and while there are several cool sites at which you can own a bit of internet property, one among them that allows you to customize your profile to a greater extent than most other sites is MySpace.

In particular, using the graphics that MySpace offers all its users can not only allow you to build a profile that is to your liking but which is like no other profile.

All you have to do is to sign up with MySpace, and one of the very first few things that one will be options for is to select a MySpace background. But that’s not all, as one can delve deeper by using the graphics editors to make further changes that will appear unique only to your profile.

Perhaps you would understand it better if one were to use the analogy of a room to the background while the minor changes that you would like to make will compare to the small ways in which you can decorate the room.

In being able to find something that you like (themes such as flowers, cars, rock stars and so on and so forth), you will be able to build a background that will not only add character to your profile but will be of increased interest to your friends who visit it.

And the best part of it all: It’s so easy to design your own page that almost anyone who knows how to use a computer can do this.

Media Streaming and The Internet

With the growing availability of high speed internet, media streaming is becoming more and more popular. Companies like Netflix and Hulu are leading the way by providing customers with on demand streaming services that don’t require the use of physical media. The internet and streaming media are allowing people to view content whenever they want and are leaving cable television service providers worried about losing their customers. More people are using the internet and streaming media as their entertainment source and canceling their cable subscriptions. Media streaming via the internet seems to be the future of how people will get their entertainment.

Streaming of media via the internet doesn’t have to be limited to computers. There are set top boxes that can easily hook up to a television and stream the media directly to the TV. Gaming systems such as the Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and the Playstation 3 also allow people to stream media via the internet directly to their television. There are people that don’t realize how easy it is to stream content to their television, but once many of these people find out how easy it is, they never look back.

The price of streaming media via the internet can range from free to under $20 a month. It is really a cheap entertainment alternative when compared to cable television. Some networks offer free streaming of their shows on their websites. It appears that streaming media over the internet is going to keep growing and will definitely affect how entertainment is distributed in the future.


What is WiMax?

Currently the majority of internet access takes place in three ways:

Broadband – This is in widespread use in homes and offices. Usually home users have DSL or cable modem and offices go in for T1 or T3 lines depending on the amount of bandwidth they need for operations.

WiFi – This technology brought the internet to users almost everywhere. These days you can access the internet while you are at a coffee shop, hotel or even restaurants without having to fix a physical cable into your laptop. The freedom of wireless connectivity has almost created a mobile society.

Dial-up – The technology that brought a multitude of people into the world of the internet is almost dead. The lack of bandwidth in dealing with today’s web requirements is the chief cause.

If you look at all these technologies, they have their advantages and disadvantages. Broadband is fast but expensive and sometimes requires a physical line to be laid from the exchange. Dial-up is inexpensive but slow. WiFi is extremely convenient but WiFi hotspots are not to be found everywhere.

But what if you could have WiFi everywhere you go; for example, while you are travelling in the train, in another part of the country, etc. This is what WiMax aims to achieve.

Using widespread coverage similar to cell phones, the technology will bring the internet to everyone, everywhere. This will bring about a truly mobile society where people can stay plugged in 24/7 no matter where they go. The best part is that it will be cheaper than a DSL connection and as convenient as using WiFi in that you only have to switch on your computer to find a connection. WiMAX is abbreviated from the term ‘Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access’.

Internet Censorship Gathers Momentum

Once upon a time, the world was outraged by Iran and China filtering and blocking access to content on the internet. Then Australia got into the game which started people scratching their heads, and now with France being the latest entrant into the censorship arena it appears that this is going to be the norm from now on.
The initial argument for censorship is blocking child pornography. This is something no one can argue against and is an absolute necessity.

However, once that is in place it is only a few policies away from an Orwellian “1984” scenario. If you think that this is an excessive statement, consider the policies France expects to implement if the security bill named “LOPPSI2” is passed.

– State sanctioned computer Trojans
– A new database of citizen data, named Pericles
– Requiring ISPs to censor websites that are blacklisted by the government

Now these are only a few of the policies within the bill but the right to free speech, information and privacy are all being infringed upon here, in one way or another. President Sarkozy sees it as solving the problem at its roots. He maintains the view that if you do not allow access to the offending content then people cannot commit the crime; of course he was referring to child pornography and file sharing.

German and British newspapers have already started citing Orwellian examples. The main worry for now is about the rights of the people of France, but in the long term the worry is that the French bill might set a precedent that would be followed by other European countries.

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