Ello is Now a Public Benefit Corporation

Ello logoThere have been some concerns about Ello and its ability to stay ad-free. Ello has made an announcement that may calm those fears. It is now a Public Benefit Company (PBC).

Many were skeptical of Ello’s promise to remain ad-free because that goal was seen as a nearly impossible one to achieve. Once a social media website starts including ads, it becomes beholden to the advertisers. The changes that are made would then benefit the companies who bought ads and not the users. This is how many social media websites work and where they get the funding to keep going.

Ello released information that should help ease people’s minds about things. It has now become a PBC. What does that mean for users of Ello? The company describes it this way:

A PBC is a special for-profit company in the USA that operates to produce a benefit for society as a whole. As a PBC, Ello is legally obligated to take its impact on society into account in every decision it makes.

Ello’s PBC charter states that Ello shall not do the following things for pecuniary gain. It shall not sell user-specific data to a third party. It shall not enter into an agreement to display paid advertising on behalf of a third party. The third one is key. In the event of an acquisition or asset transfer, the Company shall require any acquiring entity to adopt these requirements with respect to the operation of Ello or its assets.

It is possible that this change might be in response to what Aral Balkan wrote in a post called Ello, goodbye. In it, he said that Ello had taken venture capital from a Vermont venture capital firm. In short, that meant that Ello would have to adhere to an “exit plan” and essentially end up “selling” its users information later on.

But now, Ello is a PBC. If it, someday, becomes acquired by another company, that other company will have to follow the requirements that Ello set up in its charter. Does this make you more interested in joining Ello (if you haven’t already done so)? What do you think Ello will do to make money since it is not going to have ads?

GNC #989 It Lives

The Saga of my Mac Pro continues in a word it lives. More info in the show tonight. I know one thing they should have put wheels on this thing its as heavy as a tank.

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World of Warcraft Servers Coming to Australia

Blizzard GoldBlizzard Entertainment has announced an upcoming deployment of infrastructure that will support World of Warcraft players in Australia and New Zealand. These new servers are going to be hosted in Australia and will support the Oceanic realms.

This is huge news for people who live in Australia or New Zealand and who play World of Warcraft (WoW). The more localized servers will reduce the latency that many have experienced when they had to play WoW on the servers that were located in North America. In other words, this change should reduce the lag. Nobody likes lag, so this change should make a lot of people happy.

The only thing that people might not be so happy about is that the maintenance period for World of Warcraft will very likely be at the same time. It takes place on Tuesday in the wee hours of the morning when most players who live in North America are asleep. That same maintenance period falls into a part of the day in which many AU players would like to be able to get into the game.

I like that Blizzard Entertainment is starting to make an effort to reach out to players who are outside of North America. This week, they did a Launch Event for their upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion in Australia. Previous to this, Blizzard had local game servers for Diablo III. They also have local game servers for the players who are in the Technical Alpha of their upcoming Heroes of the Storm game.

New Linux Releases from Ubuntu and SuSE

Ubuntu LogoIn the same way as you wait ages for a bus only for two to come along at once, it’s the season for new Linux releases. Today Canonical released Ubuntu 14.10, aka Utopic Unicorn, and in less than two weeks OpenSuSE will push out 13.2. I’m a SuSE user so I’ll be downloading that over the weekend and getting stuck in.

openSUSEIt’s good to see such a flurry of activity. The new releases all have a plethora of new features. Interestingly, Ubuntu is going after the Android developers with the new Ubuntu Developer Tools Centre which helps coders develop apps. The new Centre downloads the Android toolkits along with libraries and dependencies, bringing them into the launcher. Although first available for Android, the plan is to extend this to other platforms such as Go and Dart. A big win too is that Netflix now plays in Chrome without any trickery!

From OpenSuSE, the new release focuses on the much-improved Gnome desktop (3.14), though KDE users aren’t forgotten either with plenty of improvements there too. I think it would be fair to say that it’s an incremental release but there’s still plenty to look forward to – more will be revealed as the release gets closer.

Reflecting on recent use, I don’t get to use my desktop as much as I used to. Like many other people have found, tablets have taken over for day-to-day computing and the desktop has been relegated to occasional use. Between a Nexus 7, a Chromebook, a local NAS and the cloud, my big box is heading for extinction. Much as I love tinkering with Linux and RAID, I really don’t know if I’ll replace the PC when the time comes. It is undoubtedly a post-PC era.

Robot Underpants: 10.22.14 (174) “Hoverboards”

Baron Mat “Langley” Luschek and “Starman” Michael Gaines bring you this week’s riveting topics including: Avengers news, Apple Pay, Leeching Jewelry, Hoverboard news, Banksy and more!

* Apple Pay
* Avengers Age of Ultron Trailer
* Banksy Arrested or not Arrested
* Renee Zellweger’s Face!
* Goodfella’s Actor Suing Simpsons
* Hoverboards!
* Ocean Sex Almost Kills Couple
* Primus Golden Tickets
* Jewelry That Sucks Your Energy

Google Makes Changes in Effort to Fight Piracy

GoogleGoogle has made some changes recently in an effort to fight piracy. They have released a 26 page PDF titled How Google Fights Piracy that you can read if you want to know all the details. The key point seems to be an effort to highlight legitimate resources where people can legally purchase (or rent) music, movies, and other digital content. Google says “The right combination of price, convenience, and inventory will do far more to reduce piracy than enforcement can.”

The PDF (or “white pages” as some have termed it) mentions Google Play and points that Android users can visit Google Play and legally purchase music, movies, TV shows, ebooks, apps, and games. The implication is that Google Play is an example of “the right combination of price, convenience, and inventory”.

Google also gives details regarding copyright removal notices and ranking. Websites that have had a high number of removal notices may appear lower in search engine results. In other words, a new algorithm will push websites that have had a lot of valid copyright removal requests lower in the search rankings. I think the idea is to make it easier for people to find legitimate sources of content by making those websites appear higher in the ranking.

There has also been a change to Google’s autocomplete. Google has taken steps to prevent “terms closely associated with piracy” from appearing an the autocomplete. At the same time, they are putting links to legitimate sources of copyrighted content that match your search into the right hand panel (where the ads appear).

This change also goes along with one of Google’s anti-piracy principles, specifically the one that can be summarized as “follow the money”. Part of that principle states: “Rogue sites that specialize in online piracy are commercial ventures, which means the most effective way to combat them is to cut off their money supply”.

GNC #988 Device Cycle Burnout

Are you getting sick of the Device Cycle were you feel the constant pressure to upgrade devices, machines and the like. It has been bugging me for a while, that we are in this constant upgrade cycle. I talk about that and all of the days news.

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Olloclip 4-in-1 Lens for Samsung Galaxy Review

Olloclip LogoFor the “point’n’shoot” photographer, smartphones and their built-in cameras have almost completely replaced the compact camera which has seen a huge drop in sales over the past few years. Despite the handiness of the smartphone camera and the myriad of post-processing effects beloved by Instagram, there are times where the problem is getting the right image in the first place. Smartphones with macro or wide-angle lenses aren’t common.

This is where Olloclip saw a gap in the market and via a Kickstarter campaign back in 2011, developed a selection of clip-on lenses for the iPhone and iPad, including macro, fisheye and wide-angle lenses. These have become fairly well-known and I’ve even seen a few people using Olloclips on their iPhone in real life. Not content with Apple owners having all the fun, Olloclip have launched a version of the 4-in-1 lens for the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5. Let’s take a look.

The 4-in-1 lens system for the Galaxy S4 consists of a mounting bracket that holds two macro lenses and two additional feature lenses that screw in on top of the macro lenses. One of the lenses is a fisheye and the other wide-angle. The bracket is well-made, with metal inserts to hold the screw-in lenses and the lenses are glass; by using different threads on the bracket, it’s not possible screw in the wrong lens. The bracket can be attached from the left or the right to get the correct lens in front of the phones camera. Take a look at the pictures of the Olloclip below to see how it all works.

Olloclip with Lenses

Olloclip with Lenses Removed

Samsung with Olloclip

In use, the Olloclip is straightforward – clip on the bracket with the lens you want to use in front of the camera and then start taking pictures using your favourite camera app. Simples!

To test out the Olloclip 4-in-1, I used a Samsung Galaxy S4 borrowed from a colleague and got snapping. Here are a few macro pictures that I took of a coin and the detail is impressive.

Olloclip Macro

Olloclip Macro

Olloclip Macro

And here are a few photos of a local landmark using the normal S4 camera, the wide-angle lens and the fisheye lens. I’m no Ansel Adams, that’s for sure.

Native S4 Camera

Olloclip Wide-Angle

Olloclip Fisheye

I was impressed with the Olloclip and with more interesting subject matter, I could have a lot of fun. I particularly liked the macro capabilities and the fisheye was fun too; I was quite surprised at the width of the field of view. Overall, the 4-in-1 was easy to use, clipping on and off in seconds, and significantly increased the photographic possibilities of the Galaxy S4. . On the downside, you do have to remember to bring the Olloclip with you, and the on/off and volume buttons are obstructed by the bracket when in use. The other problem can be with Samsung cases, which often replace the smartphone’s back. If you have one of these cases, you’ll find that the Olloclip won’t clip on and you’ll need to revert to the original case.

The Olloclip 4-in-1 for the Samsung Galaxy S4 or S5 is available direct from the website or through other on-line retailers. Priced at a penny under US$70 or GB£60, it’s more than an impulse purchase but if you are photographer or want to get more from your camera, it’s worth forking out for. Hopefully enough Galaxy owners will purchase to persuade Olloclip to look at other popular Android smartphones as well.

Thanks to Olloclip for the review 4-in-1 lens and to Jacinta for the loan of the Galaxy S4.

Twitpic is Shutting Down

Twitpic LogoIt turns out that Twitpic really is shutting down. You may have heard this before, but that time it was a “false alarm”. This time, it seems certain that Twitpic will soon be gone.

Not long ago, Twitpic posted on its own blog that it would be shutting down by September 25, 2014. Obviously, that didn’t end up happening. When that blog was posted, Twitpic pointed a finger at Twitter as the reason why. That blog stated:

A few weeks ago, Twitter contacted our legal demanding that we abandon our trademark application or risk losing access to their API. This came as a shock to us since Twitpic has been around since early 2008, and our trademark application has been in the USPTO since 2009.

This was later followed by: Unfortunately we do not have the resources to fend off a large company like Twitter to maintain our mark which we believe whole heartedly is rightfully ours. Therefore, we have decided to shut down Twitpic.

However, Twitpic did not shut down at that time. Today, the original blog has been updated. It states that Twitpic will be shutting down on October 25, 2014. From the Twitpic blog update:

It is with heavy heart that I announce that Twitpic will be shutting down on October 25th. We worked through a handful of potential acquirers and exhausted all potential options. We were almost certain we had found a new home for Twitpic (hence our previous tweet), but agreeable terms could not be met.

Those of you who want to can export your data, photos, and videos from Twitpic before it shuts down. Visit the Twitpic blog for a link that will get you started. Yes, this time, it certainly appears that Twitpic really is shutting down.

GNC #987 Fussion Potential

Nothing like getting used to the wet dreary weather of fall. My trip has been a very busy one, but the weather has simply sucked. Ready to head back to Honolulu on Saturday weather willing as we have a tropical storm / possible hurricane headed that way… Short show tonight as the news cycle was slow, back in the studio on Monday.

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