TiVo will Add Pre-Roll Ads

TiVo is rolling out a product that will insert pre-roll ads in DVR recordings. It is being tested now, but is going to become part of TiVo’s retail platform. Obviously, this move is a way for TiVo to make additional revenue.

According to Light Reading, TiVo confirmed that the pre-roll ads are skippable, in the same way that customers can skip commercials inserted in TV shows and movies recorded to the DVR. TiVo expects this to be fully rolled-out to all eligible retail devices within 90 days.

The Verge reported that the pre-roll video advertisements before DVR recordings will be for all customers. That includes those who have a lifetime subscription plan. Eligible retail include Tivo Experience 4 (which is the latest software version). The Verge stated that TiVo might extend the advertisements to products on TE3.

It appears that some TiVo customers are displeased by this change, and have taken to the TiVo forums to express themselves. Some are upset that they are paying for a TiVo subscription and will also be having to put up with ads.

My best guess is that there is a possibility for TiVo to lose customers as a result of their decision to insert pre-roll adds. The TiVo Support Twitter account has been responding to plenty of customers who are letting the company know that they dislike the pre-roll ads and do not want them. At a glance, it looks like TiVo is giving a copy-pasted response to everyone.

Personally, I do not own a TiVo. But, I am aware that one of TiVo’s selling points is the ability to watch TV shows without having to sit through the ads. I think TiVo would do better if they did not serve ads to their paying customers. Perhaps TiVo could raise revenue by offering a free version of their service and put the ads there instead.

YouTube Apologized for Changing Their Verification Program

CEO of YouTube Susan Wojcicki apologized to YouTube creators after the company received negative responses to YouTube’s new verification program. As a result, the new look for the verification badge will be delayed and will roll out next year. It is unclear exactly when that will happen. “Next year” could mean a few months from now.

CEO Susan Wojciki tweeted: “To our creators & users – I’m sorry for the frustration & hurt that we caused with our new approach to verification. While trying to make improvements, we missed the mark. As I write this, we’re working to address your concerns & we’ll have more updates soon.”

The updates were added that same day, on the YouTube’s Creator Blog titled: “Updates to YouTube’s verification program”. It is an attempt to clarify the changes to the verification badge. YouTube says the idea behind the update was to protect creators from impersonation and address user confusion. What were users confused about?

Also, nearly a third of YouTube users told us that they misunderstood the badge’s meaning, associating it with endorsement of content, and not an indicator of identity. While rolling out improvements to this program, we completely missed the mark. We’re sorry for the frustration that this caused and have a few updates to share.

Here are some things to know:

  • Channels that already have the verification badge will keep it and do not have to appeal.
  • All channels that have over 100,000 subscribers will still be eligible to apply for the verification badge. YouTube will reopen the application process by the end of October.
  • YouTube will verify channels that have over 100,000 subscribers The channel must also be authentic – meaning the channel represents the real creator, brand, or entity it is claiming to be. The channel must also be complete, meaning that it is public and has a description, channel icon, and content, and be active on YouTube.

To me, it seems like YouTube is very concerned about inauthentic channels that attempt to impersonate YouTube creators. That’s a good thing for YouTube to take action on.

The clarification that the badge means “an indicator of identity”, and not a sign that YouTube endorses the content on that channel, is sketchy. It feels like a loophole to allow YouTube to avoid taking responsibility for the worst content that appears on their platform.

Facebook Removed Tens of Thousands of Apps

Facebook announced an update on their ongoing App Developer Investigation. It began in March of 2018, in response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Our App Developer Investigation is by no means finished. But there is meaningful progress to report so far. To date, this investigation has addressed millions of apps. Of those, tens of thousands have been suspended for a variety of reasons while we continue to investigate.

Facebook points out that the apps that were suspended are associated with about 400 developers. Many were still in the testing phase when Facebook suspended them. In many cases, the developers of the apps that were suspended did not respond to Facebook’s request for information.

In addition, Facebook banned some apps. The reasons for doing so include inappropriately sharing data obtained from Facebook, “or something else that was in clear violation of” Facebook’s policies.

Facebook banned an app called myPersonality because it shared information with researchers and companies with only limited protections in place, and because it refused Facebook’s request to participate in an audit.

I’ve long been suspicious of personality apps that entice people to give up a lot information in order to supposedly learn more about themselves. What is the app developer doing with all that data? I also stay away from the things that go around on social media that ask people to answer questions about themselves. To me, it feels like whomever started it is hoping to harvest data for unknown purposes.

Facebook has also some lawsuits. One is against Rankwave, a South Korean data analytics company that failed to cooperate with Facebook’s investigation. Another is an action against LionMobi and JediMobi, whom Facebook says “used their apps to infect users’ phones with malware in a profit-generating scheme.” A third case is against two Ukrainian men who used quiz apps to scrape users’ data off of Facebook’s platform.

Apple iOS 13 is Here! #1396

Apple iOS 13 is here and many are recommending to wait until 13.1 is released due to it’s unstable nature and some bugs. So buyer beware. I am down in Columbus for this show and will be in and out of here a lot over the next month. So hopefully I will get the video studio up and running in short order as well.

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Roku Boosts UK Presence with New Models

UK-based Roku fans will be pleased to hear that the streaming company is launching two new models into the country; the Roku Express and the Roku Premiere. The Express is a refresh of the entry-level model but the Premiere is a brand-new mid-range device offering 4K streaming with HDR. The existing Roku Streaming Stick+ will remain in the product line-up.

This year’s Roku Express is a much softer version of its predecessor and I’d be tempted to say looks a bit like a fig roll – see right. I’m sure the PR people would prefer something like sleek and curvaceous. It’s perfect for your standard HD TV and comes with a simple remote control with popular streaming channel shortcut buttons, an HDMI cable and a power cord.

The mid-range Roku Premiere is a good way to start streaming in HD, 4K Ultra HD or 4K HDR. It actually looks very like the previous generation Express (see left) but nevertheless features a powerful quad-core processor. As before, in the box, there’s the remote control, HDMI cable and a power cord.

I much prefer the Roku interface over other competitive products and in the UK, all the terrestrial broadcasters offer their catch-up services – BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5 –  and then you’ve also got Netflix, Spotify, Google Play Movies, NowTV and Amazon Prime Video. Roku’s are ideal if you don’t want to get trapped in a particular ecosystem.

We are delivering more value and improved picture quality across the new 2019 streaming player line up for the United Kingdom. The Roku Premiere delivers 4K HDR for a more immersive TV experience,” said Lloyd Klarke, Director Product Management at Roku. “Whether you are new to streaming or demand more advanced features such as better Wi-Fi, 4K HDR and voice search, we have the right streaming player for everyone.

The 2019 Roku streaming players will be available in the UK from early October from all the usual suspects – Argos, Currys, ASDA, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Amazon and other fine retailers. Pricing is below.

  • Roku Express GB£29.99
  • Roku Premiere: GB£39.99
  • Roku Streaming Stick+: GB£49.99

Don’t forget the UK will be seeing Roku TVs for the first time from Hisense shortly.

GitHub Acquires Semmle

GitHub announced (in a blog post written by Nat Friedman) that is is “welcoming Semmle to GitHub”. The acquisition is seen by GitHub as a big step in securing the open source supply chain. Semmle sees it as “a fabulous milestone in a 13-year journey.”

Semmle’s revolutionary semantic code analysis engine allows developers to write queries that identify code patterns in large codebases and search for vulnerabilities and their variants. Semmle is trusted by security teams at Uber, NASA, Microsoft, Google, and has helped thousands of vulnerabilities in some of the largest codebases in the world, as well as over 100 CVEs in open source projects to date.

According to TechCrunch, GitHub did not disclose the price of the acquisition of Semmle. What is known is that Semmle launched yeast year with a $21 million Series B round led by Accel. In total, the company raised $31 million before this acquisition.

Oege de Moor from Semmle wrote: “By joining GitHub we are taking the next step in changing how software is developed, allowing every developer to benefit from the expertise of the top security researchers in the world. I can’t imagine a more fitting recognition of our team’s hard work, or a better opportunity to realize the full potential of the vision and technology.”

According to Semmle, there will be no disruption to existing users of Semmle products. GitHub and Semmle are deeply committed to securing the open source ecosystem, and as part of that commitment, LGTM.com will continue to be available for free for public repositories and open source. Semmle is also going to continue their open source security research. Existing Semmle products will integrate with GitHub’s existing product range.

It seems to me that this is one acquisition situation were nothing will be lost. Semmle’s products, and GitHubs products, are going to be integrated together.

broski lety Noise Canceling Headphones

broski has introduced an Indiegogo for a new set of headphones. broski lety Noise Canceling Headphones are in a price class that blows the competition away. Nearly $150.00 cheaper than a comparable product. I have been testing these headphones for over a week and I am impressed. I have used a variety of noise-canceling headphone over the past few years and I can say the Broski noise-canceling headphones list of features is impressive.

Priced just at $149.00 you cannot go wrong.

  • 20 Hours Play Time
  • Built-in Microphone
  • Foldable and Adjustable
  • Charging Cable
  • Audio Cable
  • Superb Noise Canceling

I am impressed with the fit, the sound and the quality of the onboard microphone. The team at broski have provided me with an extra pair and I will be giving these away to a random reader of this blog post or anyone that watches the video. Send an email to geeknews@gmail.com with broski in the subject line to enter to win. We will award the headphones a week from today.