Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Google shuts down Cyfswatch website

Google has shut down the controversial Cyfswatch website because of threats posted on the blog site yesterday against Green MP Sue Bradford.

Google spokeswoman Victoria Grand said the US-based giant had previously censored postings that breached its terms of service but had now closed the site permanently because of "repeat violations".

She said Google investigated the site when the New Zealand Ministry of Social Development first complained about it last month, and again after the ministry lodged a new complaint about the postings threatening Ms Bradford yesterday.

Cyfswatch said yesterday that it had details of Ms Bradford's home address and would post them unless she withdrew her "anti-smacking" bill. The bill, removing a defence for parents against assault charges if they used reasonable force to "correct" their children, passed its second reading in Parliament by 70 votes to 51 last night.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Social Development said the ministry would not comment on the site's shutdown.

Cyfswatch, whose authors have always remained anonymous, issued a statement today saying Google's action was "a breathtaking display of socialist censorship".

It said a mirror site was now available.

Google's terms of service prohibit the posting of content that is "unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortious, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libellous, invasive of another's privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable".

The New Zealand Herald

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Monday, October 12, 2009

The Next MySpace Killer

A new upstart in online social networking, Ning, launched Tuesday, saying it plans to leapfrog social networking powerhouses MySpace Latest News about MySpace and Facebook.

Cofounded by Marc Andreessen, who also cofounded Netscape, Ning is a platform that lets people create their own social networks. The next generation of social networks, Ning says, will be many focused niche networks rather than a single large network like MySpace.
Niches, Niches Everywhere

By using Ning's free tools, users can create public or private networks for anything, from whitewater kayaking to quilting, or design the network to more specific focus, like whitewater kayaking on the Payette River in Idaho or a quilting club in Omaha, Neb.

"Our goal has been to give anyone with an idea the opportunity to create their own social network for anything," Gina Bianchini, Ning cofounder and CEO, told TechNewsWorld. "More specifically, we've seen people like Dustin Thacker, a 28-year-old artist in North Carolina, create a social network because he and the other artists in his community were frustrated with the limitations of MySpace groups and the fact that other options cost a lot of money. So they used Ning to create a social network."

Currently, Ning boasts more than 30,000 social networks, nearly all of which were created prior to the company's official launch.

"These have taken off completely through word of mouth and blogs. Until yesterday, we did no marketing Email Marketing Software - Free Demo or PR," Bianchini said. "Interestingly, 50 percent of our traffic is outside the U.S. and we have registered users in over 176 countries, so viral growth on the Internet is truly global today."

Ning's current claim to fame is flexibility Get the Facts on BlackBerry Business Solutions and a broad array of tools that let users immediately build networking sites. With Ning, users can add videos, blogs, photos and discussion forums, customize the look and feel of the network, open it to the public or make it private for a select group of members. Users can add their own brands, as well as remove the Ning logo.

In addition, Ning gives users the option of using their own domain name, which costs US$4.95 a month.
Ning's Revenue Play

Ning currently runs ads along the right side of each page, which the company says represents its primary source of income. If users don't want to see ads, they can pay $19.95 a month to remove the advertisements -- or run their own.

Traditional media companies have been using MySpace as a marketing tool, creating sites for Hollywood summer blockbuster movies and television shows like Fox's immensely popular "24" and "American Idol." Many musicians -- popular and not-so-popular alike -- have MySpace pages, as well.

Earlier this year, CBS launched a Web site based on Ning. Keppler is a mysterious character who joined the network's "CSI" series mid-season. The Ning site provided details into Keppler's troubled past and generally worked to amp up interest in the CSI show.

CBS used the same basic tools that are available free to anyone, Ning noted on its company blog, but it did add domain name masking and ad-running features -- which are also available to anyone.
Challenges Ahead

Despite Ning's long list of launch features, it faces challenges, including the ability to massively scale its services as millions of people visit Ning sites, join and create their own social networks.

The day before launch, for instance, Ning accidentally introduced a database Make sense of your IT infrastructure - Click Here. bug that slowed Ning's sites to a crawl. The company managed to get it fixed before 9 a.m.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

US gaming console ownership rising rapidly

The Nielsen Company released a study revealing the number of homes with TV's and video game consoles has increased by 18.5 percent in the past three years.

The number of video game consoles in U.S. television households has expanded by 18.5% since the fourth quarter of 2004, according to a new report released by Nielsen Wireless and Interactive Services.

In the fourth quarter of 2006 there were 45.7 million homes with video game consoles, representing 41.1% of all TV households, compared to 39.1% (43 million) in 2005, and 35.2% (38.6 million) the previous year. The increase in both the number and the percentage of U.S. TV households with video game consoles is significant given that the number of total television households has risen 1.6% during the same period.

The report, "The State of the Console," incorporates extensive data on video game console usage from Nielsen's National People Meter (NPM) sample of television households as well as its quarterly Home Technology Report.

The study found that the number of connected console households (those subscribing to a service that links their consoles to the Internet) has grown to more than 4.4 million, even before accounting for the connectivity of the Playstation 3 and Wii platforms. During the fourth quarter of 2006, gamers in the top quintile (the top 20% of users based on average use over the quarter) accounted for 74.4% of total console usage.

According to Nielsen, by the close of 2006, approximately 148.4 million persons had access to at least one video game console system in their home. That represented more than half (52.4%) of the total U.S. television population. Two-thirds of all men between 18 to 34 living in homes with TV's also have gaming consoles. Not surprisingly, that number rises to 80 percent when surveying males ages 12 to 17.

According to the Nielsen Company, about 1.6 million people in the U.S. are using a video game console in any given minute of the day.