3/24/2008

YouTube unblocked in China–but could Google have cooperated?

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

William Long at Moonlight Blog reports that YouTube is again accessible from his connection in China. I’m in Osaka, but a friend in Beijing, who prefers to be identified as “Hot Mama in Beijing,” confirms.

Hot Mama adds an anecdote: Last Friday, YouTube was accessible but anything related to what we called T%%% to avoid filters would return a message to the effect of, “This content is not available in your country.” Though it would be relatively easy for Chinese filters to replicate this result, this may indicate some effort on YouTube/Google’s part. Mama reports that YouTube soon went completely dark, until just now.

Another glitch that emerged, which may suggest some sort of Google involvement, is that when Mama was sending Gmail messages, anything containing the non-redacted T%%%, or even its first three letters, would return an error message she’d never seen, saying that there was an error while sending.

This is by no means certain to be Google involvement. Transmitting sensitive keywords may have triggered a stall that Google recognized as trouble–something Hot Mama would not have usually seen in Beijing or New England. Similarly, YouTube may have correctly interpreted the block and redirected to a human readable error page rather than the usual “reset connection.”

Can Microsoft make Silverlight shine?

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

When Microsoft’s Brian Goldfarb talks about Silverlight, he is usually having one of two types of conversations.

One is centered on market share and the fact that Adobe Systems’ Flash is nearly ubiquitous on Internet-connected PCs, while Microsoft’s rival technology is still on only a minority of devices.

That conversation typically starts out something like this: “You’re not on 98 percent of machines like Adobe, so why should we care?”

The other is a debate on Silverlight’s technical merits vis-a-vis Flash. “Obviously the second conversation is the one I really want to have–why Silverlight is better,” said Goldfarb, a group product manager in Microsoft’s developer division.
Silverlight’s Deep Zoom feature

Goldfarb, like Microsoft, is keenly aware though, that until Silverlight fares better on the first front, many Web developers won’t spend much time worrying about the second question.

Web site for anti-Quran film blocked By U.S. hosting service

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A Web site where a Dutch lawmaker was promoting an upcoming film that criticizes the Quran has been suspended by its U.S. hosting service.

The site had shown Geert Wilders’ film’s title, “Fitna,” the words “Coming Soon” and an image of a gilded Quran. Now it shows a note that the company is investigating whether the site violates the firm’s terms of service.

Wilders has not described the 15-minute movie, due to be released by March 31, in detail but has said it will underscore his view that Islam’s holy book is “fascist.”

Dutch officials fear the movie could spark violent protests in Muslim countries, similar to those two years ago after the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper.

Wilders said he would release his movie on the Internet after television stations refused to air it.

“In this situation with the dialogue that’s happening throughout the world we’ve made the choice to suspend the site as of last night,” said Susan Wade, spokeswoman for Network Solutions. “This site is suspended so people can’t see the content right now but the customer still has access to their site. They can make whatever changes are necessary as we complete our investigation.”

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