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Would you pay for ad-free YouTube?

Would you pay to avoid watching advertisements on YouTube?

The Google-owned video sharing service based in California has announced it is "fine-tuning" an ad-free experience aimed at competing with streaming services such as Netflix. The announcement was made at the Code/Media conference held this week in San Francisco by YouTube's Director of Content and Business Operations, Robert Kyncl, according to an article in The Guardian.

YouTube already hosts dozens of paid channels on its website, including content from PBS' Sesame Street and National Geographic. The new ad-free experience would likely work like those channels, with users paying an upfront cost then being able to watch whatever videos they choose without ads.

YouTube was launched in 2005 by three former employees of online payment service PayPal. The service began running ads on videos shortly thereafter, much to the consternation of outlets like Gizmodo. Google purchased the video-sharing service in 2006 for $1.65 billion.

Would you pay an upfront fee to get around those annoying YouTube ads? Or are you like me, patiently awaiting the "skip ad" button (or repeatedly tapping the mouse where the button will show up) on videos? Let us know in the comments below.

Here's some Nyan Cat to get you thinking. Ads included.


Google stops shipping security fixes for Android < 4.3

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google has stopped shipping security fixes for Android devices that operate on Android versions 4.3 and earlier.

Dubbed Jelly Bean, version 4.3 was released on July, 2013, updating phones that had originally shipped with 4.1 and 4.2. Devices with Android versions 4.4 (KitKat) and newer are not affected by this policy.  

According to the WSJ, about two-thirds of all Android phones currently active in the world are now potentially susceptible to security vulnerabilities that can compromise the device owners privacy and potentially lead to viruses and malware being installed on the device.

What this means in the real world is that anyone using an older Android device needs to get a new phone (the carriers and Google LOVE this option) or attempt to update their phone to the newest OS (the carriers HATE this option), because the out of date phone poses a privacy and security threat not only to the owner of the phone, but also to everyone around that person, potentially even compromising the security of their employer.

When Google stops shipping security and bug fixes for these devices, this means that known vulnerabilities can be exploited by hackers and others with ill intent, stealing personal, private data and/or turning the phone into a node for a giant botnet.

Many carriers and manufacturers exacerbate the problem by not shipping or even allowing system updates to their phones, so it is incumbent upon each individual Android user to investigate their phone to ascertain the vulnerabilities it may contain and take appropriate steps to mitigate the potential risks involved.

Google doesn't provide update instructions directly, but you can check your device on your cell phone carrier's website:

Verizon Wireless



What has Idaho Googled the most?

SPOKANE, Wash. - Some states are more curious about certain topics or trends than others.

Estately, an online company specializing in home search tools, decided to see what people in different states were Googling, besides homes. In 2014, Texas Googled Ebola, Californians wanted to know more about Bitcoin and New York was trying to figure out what exactly is a selfie.

Some other head scratchers, why were so many people in Maryland Googling Pharell Williams' hat or why were people in South Dakota so curious about the Dr. Oz Show? So what topped Washington's list? Seahawks? Starbucks?

It was Gamergate.

If you do not know what that is, you were clearly not alone.

As for Idaho, the most Googled topic: "How to craft?" To read the entire list, visit Estately Blog at http://bit.ly/1y1TDPU. KREM.com

How often do you Google?

Google launches ‘River View’ virtual tour of Grand Canyon

Google Maps is making a splash today with another innovation in the way the service continues to revolutionize the way we see the world.

Google's pioneering Street View cameras have taken users to narrow cobblestone alleys in Spain using a tricycle, inside the Smithsonian with a push cart and to British Columbia’s snow-covered slopes by snowmobile.

In 2012, they put the technology in a backpack to showcase through the Internet the most popular hiking trails in Grand Canyon National Park.

Today, Google Maps has launched a new "river view" version of Street View that takes viewers through 286 miles of the Colorado River, including stunning views of the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, as seen from aboard a raft.

American Rivers staff joined Google Maps on an eight-day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon last August to take photos of the river. The Street View camera, on a special mount built for the raft, captured a full 360-degree photo sphere every few seconds.

The project was launched in partnership with American Rivers, a Washington D.C.-based environmental group. This marks the first time Google Maps has used its street view technology on a major whitewater river in the USA, but the cameras already have been mounted on jet boats for use on other rivers.

"Making Street View imagery available of the Colorado River is a tremendous opportunity for us to drive interest for this historical and natural landmark," said Google's Karin Tuxen-Bettman. "We hope this inspires viewers to take an active interest in preserving it."

The 1,450-mile Colorado River, which passes through seven states, is the main river of the Southwest.

American Rivers named the Colorado River America’s Most Endangered River in 2013 because of the threat of outdated water management, over-allocation and persistent drought.

Google already knows you want this mug

In a bit of tongue-in-cheek jesting, Microsoft is selling a coffee mug that takes a jab at Google's propensity for "data aggregation," AKA, "Do no evil.*"

I think it's a jab at Gmail, since I know that's one of their selling points for their email products.

I was going to buy one, had it in my cart and hit "submit," but apparently between first seeing the mug and trying to check out, it sold out. Either that or their ecommerce system is a piece of junk. But I would never accu$e M$ of using broken $oftware, so it mu$t have been $old out.



* Googlespeak for "collect all your data and sell it to the highest bidder."

Google Web Designer - Should you or shouldn’t you?

Google released a new app called, imaginatively, Google Web Designer. Being a web designer myself, I thought I'd take it for a spin and give you my thoughts.

(Before we start, I should let you know of my pre-exisiting biases. As someone forced to use Adobe's GoLive and Macromedia/Adobes's Dreamweaver in college, I hate WYSIWYG development environments. They're a crutch and a nuisance in my opinion.)

On to the show!

Google’s payout to states includes $135,604 for Washington state as part of settlement

Google is coughing up a fairly piddling $7 million to divide among 38 states including Washington, as part of a settlement it's agreed to, to resolve privacy concerns over data collected by the company's Street View units.

The company acknowledges gathering passwords and other personal informaiton over local Wi-Fi networks with its Street View roving vehicles.  It denies wrongdoing, however.

The settlement includes an agreement by Google to pay the 38 states and the District of Columbia a total of $7 million to be used for, among other things, civil penalties, attorneys' fees and other costs of investigation and litigation, future consumer protection enforcement and education.

Washington's share of the money is $135,604, the state Attorney General's office reported.

Schweitzer ski area among first to be Google-mapped

MAPPING — Google Maps, which changed the world of giving directions with it's online map selections, has stretched its street view capability to the ski slopes.  

Schweitzer Mountain Resort is represented among  38 new maps generated by Google featuring "slope views" of every run and lift.

Power up Google Maps on your Android device or iPhone, and the mountain information you need is right there. Blue, green and black runs are shown as solid colored lines and ski lifts are red dotted lines. 

The tech innovator recently made digital waves in the outdoors with their “street view” take on Grand Canyon hiking trails by offering 9,500 panoramic images to armchair hikers.

Spokane’s Keyboard Cat gets top billing in Google Chrome app’s promo

Charlie Schmidt, one of Spokane's most viral artists, got a nice little early present from Google this year.

The search giant and software company used Schmidt's legendary web-craze Keyboard Cat in an online promo for the JAM app used with the Google Chrome browser.  See that promo at the link here. The app lets people from different computers play music together.

We didn't ask how much Google paid him to use the cat and cat tune in the promo. It's probably a decent figure.

Spokesman.com reporter Tom Sowa wrote about Charlie Schmidt's continuing effort to patrol the web and find offenders who use Keyboard Cat without compensation to him. Here's that story.

Google mobilizes Street View to map, photograph backcountry trails

TRAIL MAPPING — Soon you'll be able to look intimately at a trail on your computer or smartphone before launching out to hike, bike or ride a horse on it.

Google has begun applying it's Street View technology to the backcountry.

In its first official outing, the Street View team is using the Trekker—a wearable backpack with a camera system on top (see video above)—to traverse the Grand Canyon and capture 360-degree images of the breathtaking natural landscapes.

Google staffers have been hiking with the Trekker to capture portions of the South Rim at Grand Canyon National Park, as well as the famous Bright Angel Trail, and South Kaibab Trail.”

Google said the new imagery would soon be making its way to Google Maps.

See details on the project in this report from the Associated Press. 

Schweitzer Engineering starts relay production at its Lewiston site

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. announced on Thursday its new Lewiston manufactuing plan is producing digital relays that are being shipped globally.

Since 1982 privately owned SEL has operated out of a growing Pullman, Wash., campus. Thispast January it opened a 100,000-square foot Lewiston production center.
The company employs about 120 people at that location, producing the relays that are used to control the flow of electricity on electric power utility networkes.
SEL Lewiston operates two production shifts. For now relays are only being manufactured during the morning shift. The second shift will start relay production later this year,  to a company release.

IPhone and Android still gaining smartphone share, Microsoft and RIM dropping

Net traffic tracker comScore today released new numbers on the smartphone market in the United States.

The numbers show both Android and Apple are making strong gains in one of the strongest sectors of the country's tech industry.

The graphic here gives the counts and shows a contrast between the most recent, Jan. 2012 and Oct. 2011 numbers.

Source: comScore Mobilens.

Schweitzer lands at No. 97 on Fortune’s list of 100 best companies to work for

Ok, you're not working for Google and you're probably not upper management at Starbucks. But if you work for Pullman-based Schweitzer Engineering Labs, you have something to be proud of; the privately held firm is ranked No. 97 among Fortune's Best Companies to Work For.

The list has just been released.  Google ranks No. 1. REI Equipment ranks No. 8; Nordstrom scores the No. 61 ranking. And Starbucks comes in at No. 73.

The other impressive piece of information: Schweitzer, which makes relay devices and networking components for the electrical generation and distribution industry, is among the fastest-growing firms on the basis of jobs added.

SEL has a 27 percent job growth. Only four companies on the top 100 list have a faster job-growth rate, based on the numbers used by Fortune.

Notably, the biggest job-gainer is Zappos, reporting a 70 percent job gain since last year.

GU professor will read from his book on notable entrepreneurs

A new book on entrepreneurs by Gonzaga University's Todd Finkle includes lessons drawn from Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin and Warren Buffett.

Finkle is GU's Pigott Professor in Entrepreneurship. He recently arranged a trip by GU business and Hogan Program students to meet with Buffeet in Omaha.

Finkle's new book is "Lessons Learned from Leading Entrepreneurs: Case Studies in Business and Entrepreneurship."

He'll read from the book on Saturday Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. at Auntie's Bookstore, in downtown Spokane.


“I’m older than Google!”

My great-nephew, Matthew, will turn 16 in two weeks. On his Facebook page, he wrote: "I'm older than Google!"

A friend of his same age wrote back: "Tell your grandkids that one day. They won't believe it!"

Matt was born in 1995. Google, according to its company history, filed for incorporation in California on September 4, 1998.

Wow. It goes so fast! I first met Matt when he was 3 months old and somedays, it seems like yesterday. And I can't imagine a world now without Google.

What historical milestone do you track the years with?

(AP archive photo)

Tuesday graphic: looking at social sites through the eyes of SuperHero Comics

We are dedicated to collecting and posting interesting, odd or slightly useful graphics and charts, wherever they may be. All we ask for is clean and fun infotainment.

Today's offering is a cool find, a superhero treatment of popular social media sites. We found it at the uber-social site FreestyleInteractive.co.uk. The infographic is from the Freestyle Interactive digital agency.

We dig the cool and clever takes on sites like Flickr. and Google+. 

Hope you all like it…

Search warrant hunt ends for cartoonist

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — The city of Renton is halting any further search warrant efforts to force Google to reveal the real name of the person who created animated Internet videos that mocked Renton police and some city employees.

Renton Chief Administrative Officer Jay Covington said Thursday that police so far have uncovered no relevant information to further a criminal investigation of what they had called a cyberstalking case. Police recently obtained a search warrant that sought to force Google to turn over the filmmaker's real name. The videos were posted on YouTube. A judge issued a stay of the search warrant this week.

Covington says police believe the filmmaker is a current police officer. He says an internal investigation will continue.

The cartoons parody everything from officers of an unidentified law enforcement agency having sex on duty to certain employees getting promoted without necessary qualifications. Renton Police Chief Kevin Milosevich says his officers and several city employees are the targets.

Naomi Shah, Google science fair winner, takes on clean air

Naomi Shah was the winner of the Google science fair in the 15-16 age group. Her project focuses on the effects of air quality triggers on asthma sufferers and highlights why other people should be environmentalists too.


Her report and speech is amazing. Shah observed that medical practitioners immediately prescribe steroids and inhalers, rather than addressing the quality of the air asthma sufferers are breathing. Why? Nobody knows exactly how much air pollution affects lung function. But she tried to find out. .

Why do people pick one smartphone over another: A graphic with some answers

Trying as hard as we can to offer the occasional useful chart or graphic. Today's offering:  a recently published graphic on what matters to people when buying a smartphone.

Definition first: A smartphone is: a mobile phone that offers more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary feature phone. Smartphones and feature phones may be thought of as handheld computers that use applications similar to those you would use on a computer. (Definition from Wikipedia).

The graphic comes by way of Businessinsider.com.  The big determining factor, the survey shows, was "platform." which means: Is this running on Apple software, Microsoft or Google Android software?

The second leading factor in smartphone selection appears to be features (the kind of buttons, the presence of a video recorder, etc.)  The third main factor are apps.

Is Trump 1st Google Trends Hopeful?

Item: Is Donald Trump the first Google trends candidate?/Catalina Camia, OnTrends

More Info: Donald Trump is many things: a real estate mogul, a celebrity with a hit reality TV show and, possibly, a Republican presidential candidate. In a media world driven by clicks and search engines, is Trump also the first presidential hopeful egged on by Google trends? The answer: Maybe.

Question: What role will the social media play in the 2012 presidential election?

Kansas City the first city to earn Google’s high-speed Internet network

A whole bunch of cities including Spokane applied to be selected for Google's much-anticipated rollout of fiber (high-speed Internet) service.

The winning city is Kansas City, Kansas.  

A story on Mashable notes that depending on how that first city rollout proceeds, other cities may also be selected.

The stakes are fairly high for the metros blessed by the search company. Google will install a fiber network that provides 100 times faster data speeds than the typical U.S. Internet connection.

Spokane Transit and Google partnership to launch during First Night at The Plaza

In August I opined for the need to get Spokane on board with Transit Score which functions similarily to Walk Score but looks how well-served you are by buses and rail lines in your location on a 100-point scale. Not only has Spokane Transit Authority made changes to their transit data that allows compatability with Transit Score but they've made changes to trip planner as well.

Check the press release below from Molly Myers and check out the launch event of their new partnership with Google at The STA Plaza:

Spokane Transit customers will soon have access to the latest and greatest in high-tech, online trip planning when STA’s long anticipated partnership with Google Transit officially launches at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, December 31st, during First Night activities at The STA Plaza.
Easily accessible at www.spokanetransit.com or on Google Maps, Google Transit’s rich data integration seamlessly puts Spokane’s transit data in the context of other useful information, such as aerial imagery, business listings and street-level views – giving users a thorough understanding of a neighborhood before they ever set foot in it.
Spokane Transit’s participation in Google Transit is provided at no charge to the agency.

Facebook Revamps Online Messaging

Facebook unveiled a new messaging platform today that takes aim at one of the Internet’s first applications, e-mail. Although blogs had been speculating that Facebook would announce an e-mail service to rival Google Inc.’s Gmail and others, Facebook said e-mail was just one component of its plans. Declaring e-mail past its prime in the age of texts and instant messages, CEO Mark Zuckerberg (shown, left, in AP photo making announcement this AM in San Francisco) said the company doesn’t believe e-mail is going to be a modern messaging system/Associated Press. More here.

Question: Which do you use more for Internet messaging — e-mail or Facebook messaging?

Google moving closer to its fiber network announcements

Did Spokane get anywhere near being chosen by Google in its much-publicized plan to deploy fiber networks in some lucky metros?

We wondered about that, so we contacted the Mountain View company and asked about Spokane’s chances of being one of the locations chosen. (Photo shows a rally organized by the Spokane Association of Pro-Fiberians.)

The short answer:  the decision hasn’t been made yet and Google intends to make the choice by the end of 2010. More than 1,100 cities made appeals — some silly, some highly sophisticated — to be part of the company’s plan to roll out the first phase of an ultra-high speed network across parts of the country.

As Google spokesman Dan Martin noted, the company will offer the option for one or a number of sites, with a population target of between 50,000 and 500,000.

That means it could be in just one city. Or in several cities. If it does involve several cities, it might be just a portion. In an email, Martin wrote: “… We might select a large city, but only build in a small neighborhood.”

He also said  the company so far has identified several communities “that we think might be a good fit for our project. But we’re not yet prepared to announce anything more at this time.”

The benefit, for Google, is learning how to best deploy the fiber network on a broader scale; the first locations will be beta sites, in effect. The service will not be free, Martin noted. Customers will be facing a pricing system more or less competitive with other providers.

For more Google explanations on the criteria, Martin sent along this link: http://www.google.com/appserve/fiberrfi

The Apture Bar gives you plenty of extra options, including rich media results

Office Hours readers may have noticed the pull-down Apture Bar that floats just below your browser header. if you don’t see it, scroll your mouse toward the edge of the page and it should show up at the top of the page.

This gives a number of options we didn’t have before. It allows quick sharing with Twitter, Facebook and by e-mail. To the right side of the bar is the mojo, the Apture media search option.

One can search a term, like “data center,” and you’ll find sets of results that show up in a window right there in the results box. You don’t need to leave the blog page to search the results.

Results will include A) all of the Office Hours blog; B) All of Spokesman.com; and C) All of Google results for the search terms. Not too shabby.


More than 600 cities beg Google for high-speed fiber service

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_7ZYqYi4xigk/S6zjSk9zVVI/AAAAAAAAFwE/-RwSA5rEYC0/s1600/fiber_house.gifSpokane is among 600-plus communities and cities who are begging (shamelessly in some cases) that Google provide their burg with an experimental, ultra high-speed broadband network.

Google announced the idea back in February and set a deadline for this week for cities wanting to be among the undefined number of U.S. metros to be included in the beta launch of the new fiber-based service. The deadline for submissions was Friday. Google is posting, on its blog.Google.com, a summary of the applications.

The original Google request for information (RFI) also produced about 190,000 responses from individuals, clamoring on the behalf of their locations.

Spokane’s true believers held a park rally this past week to catch the attention of the Google decision-makers.


Hey Google, Spokane has a trash-eating goat statue

Spokane hasn’t gone to the extremes of some other places competing in the Google Fiber for Communities contest.

Mayor Mary Verner hasn’t jumped in an icy lake, for instance. Nor has she followed Topeka’s lead in changing the city’s name. (Apparently Spogoogle isn’t catchy enough.) But that doesn’t mean city leaders are gimmick-free in their effort to woo Google. Verner showed off this video at Monday’s City Council meeting, during which the council voted unanimously to support the city’s effort to win the contest. Officials are asking residents to send e-mails in support of the project and to become Facebook friends with the city’s Google Fiber Facebook page. It’s also organizing a “flash mob” to meet for a photo in Riverfront Park on Wednesday.

CO2 emissions from the internet - A guest column

*Moderator’s note* - The following post is a guest column written by one of our colleagues, and a fellow blogger, Brandon Hansen.  Brandon is a journalism graduate of Eastern Washington University, where he served as the editor-in-chief (DTE’s editor-in-chief) of the student newspaper, The Easterner.  Currently a web consultant for a Spokane-based company, he also blogs in his free time at www.justsouthofnorth.com.

CO2 emissions from the internet
by Brandon Hansen

You’re polluting the air right now.
If you got to this article through a Google Search than you emitted as much as seven grams of CO2.
And that’s just one search, imagine all the times you were searching for wet t-shirt contests (Might want to do a better job of refining your keywords).
Internet servers, which contain all that wonderful information that is the World Wide Web, are all over the place and they kick out plenty of heat and CO2.co2_emissions_main_small Think about that cranky five-year old computer that you have that has a fan louder than a 747 Jumbo Jet. Yeah… that’s basically what internet servers do since they’re constantly on, processing 24/7, and need to be cooled properly.
  Because really, when’s the last time the internet took a break? World of Warcraft players would be up in arms.
Now, I’m not one to point fingers at who’s kicking out all this pollution, because if they shut off the internet, I’d probably be huddled in a corner somewhere mumbling “lol, rotf and brb”.
The Internet Industry, if that’s what you want to call it, puts out about as much CO2 as aviations industry. That’s the guys with the birds that run off of jet fuel. And YouTube doesn’t serve peanuts.
What a drag.
And studies have shown that web servers in the United States account for 1.2 percent of the country’s electrical consumption, more than all our TV sets combined. However there has been a push to make more power efficient servers by companies.

Fear the Goog

Ah bloody hell – say it aint so. The Times of London recently reported that Alex Wissner-Gross, a Harvard University physicist has concluded that, “performing two Google searches from a desktop computer can generate about the same amount of carbon dioxide as boiling a kettle for a cup of tea.” Wissner-Gross, whose research on the environmental impact of computing is due out soon, concluded that performing a Google search generates about 7g of CO2 while boiling a kettle generates about 15g. We’d tell you try and contradict this evidence but unfortunately all we can tell you is to Google it.

On a brighter Google note - the Sierra Club recently announced that - you can now add a Sierra Club iGoogle “theme” to your Google search page. Besides putting lots of customizable features and widgets at your fingertips, the Sierra Club iGoogle theme features a dynamic banner photo that highlights some of the places and creatures that the Sierra Club works to protect.  To choose the Sierra Club iGoogle theme, click HERE.

Photo of the day

Google is now hosting millions of photographs from LIFE magazine, stretching from the 1750s to today. Warning: If you geek out on pictures like we do, then this should keep you busy. The majority were never published before and are seeing the light of day because of this joint venture between LIFE and Google. Photobucket Biologist/author Rachel Carson reading in the woods near her home, September 1962. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt On our old, now defunct site, we had a post about Carson, reminding our generation of her significance. To wit: Way before “green” entered the lexicon and became a cultural phenomenon, there was one modest writer who stood up against injustice and inspired the modern environmental movement. This icon was once described as a “small, solemn-looking woman with the steady forthright gaze of a type that is sometimes common to thoughtful children who prefer to listen rather than to talk.”