Category Archives: video

facebook embed video

Facebook Launches New, Cleaner Video Embedding Tool

facebookFacebook has long offered the option of embedding videos on other sites, but it used to be a messy process with a sub-optimal result. Rather than let you embed just the video, FB handed you the video plus a caption which linked to the site and offered more info.

This often wasted space and didn't always format well on the destination site, snd today Facebook fixed the problem. The social network announced a new video embedding option today at its F8 developer's conference.

Now you have the option to embed only the video from FB on just about any site. Here's a before and after:

This is a small  change, but it's a welcome one. Speaking as a blogger and web user, I've long been frustrated by Facebook's embedded videos. They looked cluttered and regularly failed to load.

Now the videos will be shown as cleanly as videos embedded Youtube or Vimeo, which I would think is the point. For years now Facebook has been trying to catch and keep as much attention as possible. First they tried to attract news sites to post directly on Facebook, and now they're going after Youtube and Vimeo.

When it comes to the idea of the attention economy, Facebook is trying to bankrupt everyone else on the web.

apple store troling

Pranksters Impersonate Apple Store Employees, Recommend Microsoft Products

Making fun of Apple is one of the perks of being a tech blogger, but I have nothing on these next guys.

A quartet of pranksters going by the name NelkFilmz infiltrated an Apple store in NYC last week and proceeded to troll its customers. They recommend Samsung and Microsoft products, make up bogus defects and technical issues, and generally cause mischief.

The best part is when the pranksters almost managed to convince the real Apple employees that the pranksters are real, and when that fails they dramatically quit.

This is not the first time someone has pranked Apple's retail stores. Past attempts range from the obscene to the overbearing.

My favorite would have to be one which wasn't a prank. In 2011 an artist installed spyware on the display computers in an Apple store, and proceeded to use the webcams to take photos of anyone browsing on the store. His study of people's expressions eventually drew the wrath of Apple, resulting in a scary visit from the Secret Service. Luckily it all worked out in the end, otherwise a novel art project would have been accentuated by a criminal prosecution.


apple pocketwatch

The Apple Pocketwatch Is a Budget-Friendly Alternative (video)

apple pocketwatchLast night's Conan show paid tribute to those of us who find the smartwatch craze a little silly.

While Apple wants you to pay $349 for an Apple Watch, there is a cheaper option: the Apple Pocketwatch. This $259 contraption brings back all of the wonders of early 20th-century pocketwatches, and it updates the idea with modern smartphone tech.

As a result, the Apple Pocketwatch is much more useful than a mere smartwatch, and it's also a lot cheaper. Of course, a few corners had to be cut in the name of profit, but that's a price many will be willing to pay just for the privilege of owning an Apple product.

The Apple Pocketwatch is available direct from Apple. All you have to do to get one is send in your iPhone, along with $259, and Apple will send you a brand new Apple Pocketwatch.




Apple’s Web TV Service to Launch in the Fall

image4-e1375880809172[1]Those month-old rumors about Apple launching a subscription movie service suddenly become that much more real today. The WSJ reports that Apple plans to launch a limited streaming service this fall:

The technology giant is in talks with programmers to offer a slimmed-down bundle of TV networks this fall, according to people familiar with the matter. The service would have about 25 channels, anchored by broadcasters such as ABC, CBS and Fox and would be available on Apple devices such as the Apple TV, they said.

For now, the talks don’t involve NBCUniversal, owner of the NBC broadcast network and cable channels like USA and Bravo, because of a falling-out between Apple and NBCUniversal parent company Comcast Corp., the people familiar with the matter said.

I don't know about you, but to me that sounds a lot like a basic cable service, only streamed over the web.

This deal is most notably lacking NBC Universal, perhaps because of bad blood with NBC's owner, Comcast. There are reports that Apple and Comcast were in talks last year to combine Comcast’s strength in broadband delivery with Apple's online expertise. That reportedly fell through after Comcast strung Apple along, but what with the games Comcast is playing with other services (HBO Go, for example) it's really not clear what went wrong in the Apple-Comcast deal.

6860486028_b2acbb1201_n[1]Apple's service is expected to be announced in June and launch in September, and will likely be limited to Apple hardware (iDevices, Apple TV, etc). The rumored price is $30 to $40 a month, which strikes me as awfully high. You can get basic cable for less than that as part of a bundle.

Given that I have long since stopped watching live TV (whether broadcast or cable), I frankly don't see the appeal. Why pay $30, just to be subjected to adverts? There isn't enough worth watching to justify the price.

And what with live TV watching down 12.7% last year as viewers switched to streaming single episodes, I don't think there is a viable long term market. But Apple is less interested in content sales than in how those sales support its hardware sales, so I don't think a declining market would bother them.

images by A Fresh Bunch, blakespot


YouTube Rumored to be Working on a Paid Streaming Video Service

488412425_ed0832a628There's a story going around today that Youtube is working on a paid video on demand service.

I read about it in Slashgear, which sourced it from The Verge, which was all in a tizzy over an article in Variety. That industry rag posted a long piece on YouTube last week which is well worth your time to read, and includes this little part that has certain bloggers all excited:

On a separate track, YouTube is exploring the prospect of launching its own subscription VOD service, modeled on YouTube Music Key. Launched last fall in a closed beta test, Music Key provides unlimited, ad-free access to music videos and some 30 million songs on Google Play Music, for a six-month introductory price of $7.99 per month.

An exec at one YouTube partner says reps from the vidsite reached out late last year about an SVOD licensing deal. But the offer came with a warning: If the partner didn’t agree to the terms of the subscription service, it would be excluded from any future ad revenue — a tactic YouTube has used in dealing with independent music companies that refused to get onboard with Music Key. YouTube declined to comment on its SVOD plans.

That sounds an awful lot like the reports which came out last summer about YouTube pressuring musicians into signing up for a paid music service. YouTube used similar threats to encourage participation, but just to be clear, what first appeared to be blackmail or bullying turned out to be far less evil once the details were parsed out and explained.

Rather than expelling artists from YouTube, the hosting service was merely insisting on an all or nothing monetization decision. Artists who earned money from ads on their videos had to agree to joining the subscription service or they couldn't keep using the ads.

And as we all know, the drive to sign artists to the streaming music service lead to the launch of YouTube Music Pass last November. That service launched into a limited beta close to a year after the first leaks said it was on the way.

I think it's safe to conclude that YouTube is planning to expand or compliment Music Pass with a similar video service.

YouTube already sells and rents movies (making it an iTunes competitor) and it would make sense for YouTube to also build a streaming service based on the videos it hosts.

The only remaining question is when will the service launch. I'd bet that we'll see the beta release some time this year.

image by jonsson


The Improbable Copyright Case of “It’s A Wonderful Life” (video)

itsawonderfullife[1]It's A Wonderful Life holds a special place in American culture, and as I'm sure you know it also holds  a special place in US copyright law. But did you know that the latter lead to the former?

FilmMaker IQ posted a video in December which lays out the circuitous route which this movie took over the past 70 years, and its unique place in US copyright law. The tale starts with a short story called The Greatest Gift (on which It's A Wonderful Life is based)and it ends with the copyright for the story trumping the copyright for the movie.

Originally released in 1946, It's A Wonderful Life was a marginally successful movie which passed into the public domain in the early 1970s following a snafu with its renewal paperwork. Under the US's old copyright law, a work had to be renewed for a second 28 year term or it fell into the public domain.

Someone forgot to renew the copyright on It's A Wonderful Life, and as a result this classic movie was free for any TV channel to broadcast - which they did, time after time after time after time, right up until 1993. That's when someone laid claim to the copyright again, arguing that because they owned the copyright to the story which It's A Wonderful Life is based on, they also controlled the movie as well.

Those are the broad strokes of this movies history, which can be found in Techdirt, Wikipedia, and elsewhere.

For the nitty gritty detail, watch this movie.

I don't know about you, but I remain unconvinced that one can lay claim to the copyright of a derivative work after that work has lapsed into the public domain. There are no rights to lay claim to at that point, given that the work now belongs to everyone and no one (that's the point of the public domain).

But since I don't have the millions it would cost to argue this in court, it's a moot point.

Digitization 101

Open This Book and Unlock a Planetarium (video)

this-book-is-a-planetarium-02[1] The wrong pop-up book can give you nightmares, but the right one can entertain and enlighten.

A designer by the name of Kelli Andeson is working on a pop-up book which pushes the boundaries of the genre. Due out in October, This Book Is a Planetarium: And Other Extraordinary Pop-Up Contraptions turns a book into things which you wouldn't believe possible, including a planetarium, a musical instrument, a speaker for your smartphone, and more.

The book is still under development, but you can get a look at an early prototype in the first few minutes of this profile video:

Just about all of the ideas in that book can and have already been done with apps, but there's something to be said for manipulating the physical object and watching the planetarium, for example, fill an entire room. It expands beyond the square foot or so taken up by the open book in a way that no app can, and I like how that adds to the experience.

You can pre-order the book on Amazon.

Kottke via Boing Boing

The Absolutely True Story of the Design of the New Macbook (video)

Apple-logo[1]When the new Macbook was announced earlier this week, many pundits were amazed that Apple had chosen such an extreme design.  The new Macbook has but a single USB-C port for power and all of its accessories. It was implied that this was a necessary step to get the weight down to 2 pounds and to make the laptop only half an inch thick, but a newly leaked video reveals that this isn't necessary the case. Continue reading The Absolutely True Story of the Design of the New Macbook (video)

New Guinness World Record Set for Longest Book Domino Chain – 5, 318 Books (video)

United-Biscuits-main_tcm25-371042[1]Back in January, employees of the UK-based United Biscuits lined up 5,500 books in a chain and knocked them down, domino-style, setting a new world record.

The attempt was made at a sales conference in Old Windsor, England. it was developed in partnership with Guinness and sprung on United Biscuit's salespersons that morning as a team building exercise.

it was a less than perfect effort; around a couple hundred of the 5,500 books didn't topple, but enough did fall that a new record of 5,318 books was set. The previous Guinness World Record of 4,988 books was set in March of last year in Cz?stochowa, Poland.

Guinness via eBookFriendly