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Xbox 360's Netflix App Introduces a Section Just for Kids

posted Sunday Aug 12, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Xbox 360's Netflix App Introduces a Section Just for Kids

For those of you with children who have a Netflix account and have been keeping up with how well the company's been doing lately, if you own an Xbox 360, you're going to be enjoying this piece of news from Major Nelson this week. All of my Xbox Live Gold subscribers with active Netflix subscriptions should have received an update if you've accessed the app sometime during the week. The update contains a recent update to the streaming service called "Just for Kids."

Children 12 and under now have a menu option just for them. This helps parents to choose kid-friendly programming with ease as the entire interface is done up specifically for children, complete with pictures of their favorite characters from the various kid networks. On his blog, Major Nelson said,

"Just for Kids" consists of titles organized by easy-to-understand genres such as superheroes, princesses, dinosaurs and girl power, featuring clear and simple descriptions of the plot of each title. And with Kinect for Xbox 360, all of your favorite entertainment on Netflix can be found by simply using your voice.

If you haven't updated your Netflix yet and want to see how this new channel will work, click after the break and check out the video.

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About.com to Find a New Home

posted Sunday Aug 12, 2012 by Scott Ertz

About.com to Find a New Home

News Corp has had some trouble as of late. In fact, it took $2.8 billion in charges in its quarterly earnings report. The company described their write-downs,

The charge consisted of a write-down of $1.5 billion of goodwill and a $1.3 billion write-down of the Company's indefinite-lived intangibles, principally related to the Company's publishing businesses, most significantly the Australian operations.

The important part of this announcement is the publishing businesses. One of the most notable publishing businesses that News Corp owns is The New York Times. The NYT owns a well-known but struggling website, About.com. One way NYT and News Corp plan on helping fix their costs is to sell-off About to Answers.com, the Q&A website for $270 million. While this isn't quite $2.8 billion, it could represent a change in business model, which is something NYT needs.

The problem here is that About is incredibly inexpensive to produce content for and has a lot of traffic. It would seem that the change that needs to happen is figuring out how to monetize the site, not sell it off. This isn't the first time News Corp has failed to monetize a popular website, however. Most notably, Myspace cost News Corp millions after failing to figure out how to compete with Facebook. A turnaround plan has been in place to get About back on track, but maybe News Corp just isn't cut out for the new media world. The company said about profitability,

While About is gaining momentum in its turnaround efforts, and we expect to build on that progress in the second half of the year, we have reduced our long-term display growth and profitability assumptions for the group.

It is a little close to home for us to see About have problems. The host of The Piltch Point on F5 Live, Avram Piltch, spent time at About in his editorial past, and it is always hard to see a company you put time into in trouble. Hopefully, under Answers.com's guidance, the site can regain its former glory.

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Crowdsourcing: Why It Doesn't Work

posted Sunday Aug 12, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Crowdsourcing: Why It Doesn't Work

When you source a project on Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, or one of 450 other international crowdsourcing websites, how do you know that anything the person is saying is possible? Sure, most of these sites provide certain securities to protect the funders from being tricked, but it doesn't protect against everything. For example, take a man who knows no practical skills about what might work on Kickstarter and have him offer to write a book about what might work on Kickstarter and launch a project to fund it on Kickstarter. That seems to be exactly what happened.

Glenn Fleishman, a freelance tech writer, decided he had covered crowdsourcing enough in his articles to write a book, so he launched Crowdfunding: a Guide to What Works and Why, a project for him to write a book about the topic he thought he knew. He produced his sales pitch video where he came across like he had just enough information to make the video and not quite write a book and put the project up on July 6th. On July 23rd, he canceled the project with no warning. He wrote on his blog,

I've opted today to suspend my book's crowdfunding campaign at Kickstarter. The project is only a bit over 10% funded and unlikely to succeed. But I'm happy about it. Why? Have I gone crazy? No. I learned an enormous amount through this effort.

You certainly read that right. There's a lot more to read after the break, and I'm not asking for $25 to continue.

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Valve to Bring Non-game Apps to Steam Starting September 5th

posted Saturday Aug 11, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Valve to Bring Non-game Apps to Steam Starting September 5th

Game company Valve has always been known to do things a little differently. With innovations like Steam and amazing FPS titles like Counter-Strike and Half-Life, it seems as if everything they do turns into something great. Since earlier this year, we were curious as to what was up the company's sleeve to be the next big thing. Fans worldwide were let down when told that there would be no Steam Box or other announcement at E3, even though we found out more details about Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Where's Valve going and is it a smart move for them? Our take is after the break.

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Data Breach at Blizzard Comprises Emails and Security Questions but not Passwords

posted Saturday Aug 11, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Data Breach at Blizzard Comprises Emails and Security Questions but not Passwords

This week we have news of another breach in the gaming world, however it is not in any way, shape or form related to Sony and their handicapping outage last year. Instead, the victim is Blizzard Entertainment and their Battle.net online gaming network. Blizzard, makers of StarCraft, World of Warcraft and Diablo, has had their internal network security compromised and the company has issued emails to customers today. Blizzard has said the email went out to all customers who have used Battle.net, however at the time of this writing, my inbox has not received any such notification. Perhaps I wasn't affected?

The good news is that Blizzard is also saying no financial information has been breached to their knowledge, so you're safe in that regard. Also, while email addresses to lots of non-Chinese users of Battle.net were snatched along with passwords, those passwords were scrambled, which cannot be said for Yahoo! and other companies' breaches as of late. Scrambling or "hashing" passwords, is a common practice in development and has become the accepted, secure way to handle all customer login activity.

Who is responsible for this and what steps is Blizzard taking to ensure this won't happen again? The path to the answers resides safely and securely after the break.

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Google Censors Search Results Again, Now Worldwide

posted Saturday Aug 11, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Google Censors Search Results Again, Now Worldwide

Google has, once again, changed their search algorithm, but it's not for the normal reasons. Normally when these changes happen it is to enhance their search result relevancy; this time it is to reduce their search result relevancy. In response to pressure from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Google will now suppress relevant search results from websites which have had copyright claims against them.

Amit Singhal, Google Engineering SVP, wrote,

This ranking change should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily - whether it's a song previewed on NPR's music website, a TV show on Hulu or new music streamed from Spotify.

While this may be good for Hulu and Spotify, what does this mean for legitimate websites who have received false claims? Hit the break for those answers and responses from affected parties, both for and against.

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