This Week in Tech 653: X Stands for Nothing

HomePod should have been delayed longer. Elon Musk’s rollercoaster week: Falcon Heavy sends a Tesla to Mars just as Tesla has its worst quarter ever. iPhone boot code leaked online. Chrome will shame insecure websites. YouTube suspends Logan Paul for generally being a horrible human being. Rethinking Facebook and Google. T-Mobile warns of phone hacking scam. Uber settles with Waymo. ESPN’s new streaming service will not show ESPN.


This Week in Tech 644: This Is Fine

Bitcoin hits $20,000, then drops back to $15,000. San Francisco to ban robots. DeepMindAI teaches itself to be a chess grandmaster in 4 hours. Net Neutrality dies in 4 days. Qualcomm and Microsoft announce Windows on ARM computers. Facebook Messenger for Kids targets 6-year-olds. 2017’s top 10 YouTube videos and earners. Jony Ive is back in charge at Apple design.

This Week in Tech 609: Strippers, JFK and Stalin

Apple issues a mea culpa for the Mac Pro and promises a new model is on the way – just not this year. YouTube TV launches – it isn’t perfect, but it may be the most promosing over-the-top TV solution. Facebook launches a fund to fight fake news. Jeff Bezos is spending $1 billion a year of his own money on Blue Origin. XBox’s Project Scorpio specs revealed. Is the Twitter outrage over Pepsi’s new ad justified?

• Harry McCracken loves the serial comma.
• Iain Thomson insists that it should properly be called the Oxford comma.
• Christina Warren is more annoyed by people who mix up “your” and “you’re”.

Host: Leo Laporte
Guests: Harry McCracken, Christina Warren, and Iain Thomson

Microsoft, global law enforcement agencies disrupt Dorkbot botnet

By | Techspot

Microsoft, in cooperation with a number of law enforcement agencies around the world, managed to disrupt a botnet that’s infected over a million PCs across more than 190 countries.

First discovered in April 2011, Dorkbot is an IRC-based botnet that has been commercialized by its creator and is readily available for purchase on underground online forums as NgrBot. The malware relies on USB drives, social networks, IM clients, spam and drive-by downloads for distribution.

It’s most often used to steal login credentials for many of today’s top sites and services including AOL, eBay, Facebook, Gmail, Godaddy, Netflix, PayPal, Steam, Twitter, Yahoo and YouTube.

Over the past six months, Microsoft said it detected Dorkbot on roughly 100,000 systems each month with the majority of infections spotted internationally.

Microsoft said it worked with CERT Polska, ESET, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the Department of Homeland Security’s United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, Europol, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Interpol and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to disrupt the botnet.

Details on exactly what actions were taken to disrupt Dorkbot weren’t mentioned.

The US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) advises those that have been infected to use and maintain anti-virus software, change passwords, keep operating system and application software up-to-date, use anti-malware tools and disable Windows Autorun.

YouTube player ditches Flash, defaults to HTML5

YouTube videos on the web now default to using the HTML5 player which should mean better performance, stability, battery life and even security for users.

The decline of Adobe Flash Player seems to be slow but irreversible as the biggest video service online has taken another step in making it irrelevant. YouTube started offering an experimental HTML5 player years ago, but only through the advancement of the standard and by working with browser creators was the service able to fully switch to HTML5.

The new player takes advantage of Adaptive Bitrate streaming (ABR) which allows YouTube to seamlessly switch between higher and lower quality streams for continuous playback regardless of network conditions. It also allows for live-streaming of content on consoles, devices like the Chromecast and regular browsers.

Of course this also means that watching video on mobile devices got better, especially if you were doing that through a web browser.

This change was a long time coming, so we’re glad it’s finally here, especially if YouTube delivers on all its promises. Now if only the company could make a decent player for consoles…

via YouTube player ditches Flash, defaults to HTML5 – Neowin.

YouTube opens up 60 FPS support for all, game clips look incredible

YouTube officially added support for 60 frames per second videos back in June yet up to this point, the option was limited to select video partners. The world’s most popular video sharing website recently enabled 60 FPS support for all but there are a few caveats you’ll need to be aware if you want to view buttery smooth content.

For starters, you’ll need to be running Google’s Chrome browser to view 60 FPS clips. When watching with Firefox, Internet Explorer or Opera, the option for 60 FPS simply doesn’t show up on the desktop. This appears to simply be a glitch as we’re hearing reports that 60 FPS does work in Safari.


As PCWorld points out, 60 FPS likely won’t mean much for most of the clips you watch on YouTube. Where it does make a difference, however, is with video game footage. As you’ve no doubt noticed in the past, clips that don’t run at the native frame rate of the game in question show noticeable distortion and generally don’t look too great.

What’s more, 60 FPS for game clips will no doubt give YouTube a boost among gamers looking to host their clips. That’s even truer considering Google lost out on its bid for live game streaming service Twitch to Amazon in August. Reports at the time claimed Google was in late discussions to buy the service for $1 billion.


via YouTube opens up 60 FPS support for all, game clips look incredible – TechSpot.

YouTube served users malicious advertisements, Trend Micro says

Malicious advertisements, some of which were displayed on YouTube, redirected more than 113,000 people in the U.S. to harmful websites in just a month, Trend Micro said Tuesday.

Although online advertising companies try to detect and block such ads from being circulated on their networks, bad ones sometimes get through. Such ads can be very productive for hackers. It can mean a large pool of victims if shown on a high-traffic website.

“This was a worrying development: Not only were malicious ads showing up on YouTube, they were on videos with more than 11 million views—in particular, a music video uploaded by a high-profile record label,” wrote Joseph Chen, a fraud researcher, on Trend Micro’s blog.

Google, which owns YouTube, did not have an immediate comment.

Chen wrote that users viewing the ads were bounced through two servers in the Netherlands before landing on the malicious server, which is located in the U.S.

That server had the Sweet Orange exploit kit installed. Sweet Orange checks if the computer has one of four vulnerabilities affecting Internet Explorer, Java or Adobe Systems’ Flash application.

If the attack is successful, the kit delivers malware from the KOVTER family, which has been used in the past for ransomware, Chen wrote. Those attacks try to extort a victim by either encrypting their files or tricking them into paying a fine.

The KOVTER malware is hosted on a subdomain of a Polish government site that has been hacked, Chen wrote. The attackers had also modified DNS (Domain Name System) information on that site by adding subdomains that led to their own servers, but the method used to accomplish that was unclear, Chen wrote.

via YouTube served users malicious advertisements, Trend Micro says | PCWorld.

Yahoo planning to launch YouTube rival this summer

Yahoo is planning to lock horns with Google in the online video space. The Internet pioneer is hosting discussions with video producers with intentions of launching a YouTube competitor later this summer according to people briefed on the matter as reported by Ad Age.

The company had hoped to unveil the service during a presentation for advertisers last month but contract issues reportedly held the project back.

Yahoo’s service, much like YouTube, will offer content creators their own channels to host videos. And again, like YouTube, Yahoo’s video player will be embeddable on other sites. In this example, that means Yahoo’s own homepage as well as on Tumblr. There’s also a network for non-Yahoo sites, we’re told.

YouTube already has a massive user base so why would Yahoo even dare to compete against a giant? Because they think they can lure some of its users away through the use of more generous revenue sharing offers and fixed ad rates that pay significantly more than YouTube currently does.

If you aren’t familiar, Google takes a 45 percent cut of ad revenue from its YouTube partners. Yahoo will offer a split that is more in favor of content creators although the exact number isn’t known just yet.

Yahoo has been interested in getting into the digital video market for quite some time. Under the tutelage of Marissa Mayer, the Internet pioneer attempted to acquire online video website Dailymotion but ultimately backed out following resistance from the French government. Shortly after, Yahoo’s name was tossed around as a potential suitor for Hulu.

via Yahoo planning to launch YouTube rival this summer – TechSpot.

Google taps YouTube to rate ISP video quality performance

Google taps YouTube to rate ISP video quality performance

A new Google service uses YouTube to shed some light on the bandwidth delivered by ISPs.

The Video Quality Report website will first be available in Canada, where users will be able to see how an ISP’s network performs in a specific region. Unlike many other performance tests, the Video Quality Report doesn’t spit out a number of megabits per second, but one of three ratings.

The top one is “HD Verified,” which means users should be able to watch videos in HD (at least 720p) with fast load times most of the time. To get the rating the operator’s network has to perform at that level 90 percent of the time. The sustained speed needed to qualify is over 2.5M bps.

“Google’s goal was to present a rating that “is meaningful, easy to understand and one that closely reflects the real world Internet experience.””

The other two ratings are “Standard Definition” and “Lower Definition”. They mean users can watch videos in standard definition (at least 360p) with moderate load times or with a resolution lower than 360p. Videos will also load slowly and may stop to re-buffer over networks that have the lowest rating.

The rating for an ISP can be split into various time slices—for example, hour, day or week—as well as different geographical levels. Google’s goal was to present a rating that “is meaningful, easy to understand and one that closely reflects the real world Internet experience,” the company said.

The ratings take into account many users in a given area, rather than measure just one household’s connection. Google said it will only show the results for a geographic area big enough to have a lot of users, and emphasized that all samples are anonymized and no personal information is stored or used.

The timing of the announcement is interesting, since it was only last week that a U.S. appeals court struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules. Even though the Video Quality Report isn’t yet available in the U.S., the service could eventually work as a deterrent to ISPs that are tempted to prioritize their own video offerings over Internet-based ones like YouTube.

The company didn’t give any details on when the report will become available to users outside of Canada. For now, the site just says “results from your location are not yet available” if you try to use it in other countries.

via Google taps YouTube to rate ISP video quality performance | PCWorld.

YouTube puts in new “2160p 4K” option for video settings

Remember when owning an HDTV was a big thing? Well, that’s well in the past now. The new trend among big screen televisions and PC monitors is going up to 4K resolution. This week, YouTube quietly put in some new video options that allow users to watch some clips in 2160p.

Viewing videos in 4K is nothing new for YouTube; as HDTVtest points out, the website has supported uploads of such clips since 2010. However, in order to set the video up for 4K viewing, the options menu had to be set to “Original” so that the clip could run past the 1080p setting. That’s not the case anymore. If a video that’s been uploaded to the site supports either 4096×2160 or 3840×2160, the menu now shows the new 2160p 4K setting at the very top.

There’s also a 1440p setting that\’s been added as a menu option, perhaps to give users a way to go beyond the typical 1080p display.

YouTube and its parent company Google are clearly preparing the site for what is expected to be an explosion of 4K video content in 2014. More and more televisions are coming out that support the higher resolution. The new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One console both support 4K videos, although 4K games are still a ways away. Microsoft built a 120 inch 4K TV as part of its Envisioning Center technology demo showcase in Seattle. Then there’s Panasonic’s long awaited 4K 20 inch Windows 8.1 tablet, which should be released in February. Add it all up and it looks like 4K will be everywhere in the next 12 months.

via YouTube puts in new “2160p 4K” option for video settings – Neowin.