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Volkswagen Passes Toyota as World's Number One Automaker
Germany's Volkswagen achieved a long-held goal in the first half of the year, surpassing Japan's Toyota as the world's largest automaker. According to figures released Tuesday, Volkswagen delivered a total of 5.04 million vehicles from January to June, edging out the 5.02 million vehicles Toyota sold in that time. Both companies are believed to be firmly ahead of General Motors, whose days atop the world carmaker list are far behind. Volkswagen, meanwhile, declined to brag about the achievement, choosing instead to focus on staying on top. The company's stated goal of being number one by 2018 is in reach, but it remains to be seen if it can avoid being passed by Toyota by the time the year ends.
Search for YouTube Videos on... Bing?
A common complaint among YouTube's most active users is that Google's search makes it annoying to search for musicians and their music. That's a pretty significant gripe when you consider that YouTube is now the Web's number one source for new music discovery. You would think that with all its knowledge and experience in searching the web, Google could find a better way to allow fans to find music, but the famed Google algorithm is designed to search the web for sources of information about a queried topic, not scour through videos for titles associated with a particular band. Turns out, however, that somebody else has been working on this problem, and appears to have a solution, though it's hard to believe who it is.
Internet Speeds Dropping, But Net Neutrality Won't Help
A set of FCC imposed net neutrality rules went into effect last month, aimed primarily at protecting Internet speeds across broadband and mobile networks. The Internet is slowing, however, yet it's not because mobile carriers are throttling customers with no-limit plans or broadband providers are selling preferred space for data hog companies that pay for the privilege. According to Web data tracker HTTP Archive, websites are growing in size, thus taking longer to load, all across the World Wide Web. The HTTP Archive report said that the average size for websites has increased 40 percent over the last two years, from 1.5 megabytes (MB) to 2.1 MB. The reasons for websites growing at this pace vary, but the impact is perpetual because when one website adds a specific type of content, rivals eventually follow suit and websites expand for companies in that entire industry.
Net Neutrality Rules Enacted as ISPs Fight to Overturn Them
The Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules officially went into effect on Friday, though there si still quite a bit of confusion as to what the rules actually do. The rules were published back on April 13th, but a two-month waiting period was observed before they went into effect. Several internet Service providers, including Verizon and AT&T, have filed an appeal, though it could take years before that action is eventually decided by the Supreme Court. The ISPs asked a judge to halt several sections of the rules until their appeal is resolved, but a court denied the request last week, on the same day the net neutrality rules were enacted.
Apple Goes Social to Differentiate New Streaming Service
Apple finally unveiled its new streaming service on Monday at its Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco. Dubbed Apple Music, the service will be available on multiple platforms on June 30th for a monthly subscription fee of $9.99 per month. In an effort to differentiate their product from rivals like Spotify and Rdio, Apple execs said that the service will be an all-in-one destination for music fans. In addition to providing instant access to all of the millions of titles on iTunes, the service also features a 24/7 radio broadcast and a platform for artists to communicate with fans. Called “Connect”, the communication feature excited some artists and music managers, who complain that there has not been a good social platform for music since the early days of MySpace. Within the Connect feature, artists will be able to have their own hubs featuring bios, pictures and videos of the artist, in addition to links to all of their songs and albums on iTunes. The pages appear pretty similar to profiles on Facebook or other social media outlets, except fans won't have to leave Apple Music to find out more about their favorite artists.
Dept. of Justice Sides with Oracle in Lawsuit Versus Google
Oracle scored a huge victory last week in its ongoing lawsuit against Google over the company's Android operating system. The Department of Justice filed an amicus brief in the case last week which essentially confirms a lower court's ruling siding with Oracle. The brief also recommended that the Supreme Court not take up the case, effectively putting an end to the matter if the Supreme Court follows the DOJ recommendation. The nation's highest court had asked to take a look at the matter after a pair of lower courts issued opposing rulings, but the US Solicitor General is now asking the Supreme Court to hold off until the lower courts rule on Google's Fair Use argument.
Another Court Rules that Eyeo's Adblock Software is Legal
The makers of AdBlock plus scored a key victory in court this week when a judge ruled in their favor in Germany. Marketed as the world's most popular ad blocking tool, AdBlock Plus allows users to block display ads when browsing the Internet. RTL Interactive and ProSiebenSat1, a pair of German broadcasters, filed a lawsuit claiming that blocking ads was illegal. The companies also took issue with Eyeo, the company that makes AdBlock, and its white-listing service for ads. Under Eyeo's Acceptable Ads policy, publishers are required to follow certain guidelines and often pay pricey fees in order to have their ads white-listed, meaning they wouldn't be blocked under normal use of the AdBlock product. Of course, AdBlock users can still opt to block all ads, meaning white-listed ads wouldn't even appear for those users.
Bing No Longer the Forgotten Step Child of Web Search
Microsoft's Bing search engine has come a long way since it debuted in 2009, according to the latest figures from online research specialist Gartner. Back then, Bing accounted for just 8.4 percent of Internet searches, compared to more than 65 percent for global search leader Google. According to the latest report, Bing's share of US searches has surpassed 20 percent for the first time. That puts Bing in second behind Google, whose share has basically held steady for over a decade. Bing has managed to increase its share without impacting Google thanks to the declining popularity of Yahoo, Aol and Ask.com. While Bing is still well behind Google, many insiders believe there's room to grow as Google continues to battle antitrust allegations and other Public Affairs issues.
Nebraska Becomes 1st Red State in 40 Years to Abolish Death Penalty
Despite staunch opposition from Republican Governor Pete Ricketts, the Legislature made Nebraska the 18th US state (plus Washington, D.C.) to do away with the death penalty, and the first historically conservative state to do it in over 40 years. Rickets vetoed the measure on Tuesday, only to watch helplessly as legislators overrode his veto by a 30 to 19 vote. The bill repealing the death penalty has been the subject of heated debate for months; and Rickets has been the most vocal opponent with dozens of tv appearances to urge citizens to pressure their senators to vote no on the measure. The measure has also been vigorously opposed by relatives of murder victims whose convicted killers are awaiting execution and numerous law enforcement officials. Six states have outlawed capital punishment in the last eight years, but no conservative states have since North Dakota in 1973.
Houston Texans to Appear on 10th Season of Hard Knocks
The National Football League's Houston Texans announced Wednesday that they will be featured in the upcoming tenth season of HBO's acclaimed documentary series Hard knocks. The Texans are the fifth AFC team in the last six years to be featured and the first team from their division, the AFC South. A league rule provided that the league could require teams to do the show, but it is believed that Houston will participate voluntarily, despite being one of nine teams the league could elect for the honor this year. The Atlanta Falcons were featured on Hard Knocks last season, following the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013 and the Miami Dolphins in 2012. The impact of the distraction caused by being filmed for the Hard Knocks series is a topic of much debate. The last five teams that did it fared well, however, improving on their previous year's record after appearing on the show.