Friday Tech Roundup (02 August 2013): Commercial drones cleared for US flight, and Facebook to implement video ads


By on August 2, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Welcome to the Friday Tech Roundup! Contained herein is your weekly dose of some of the best tech news from across the Internet, rounded up for your edification and entertainment. Read on for all the details of dodgy backroom HD video streaming deals, Facebook video ads, and the life of a Google Glass Explorer.

Jetman straps a wing to his back, flies in formation with a B15 bomber

Yves Rossy, sometimes referred to by the moniker Jetman, has taken his newly improved jet suit up for a flight in formation with a B15 bomber over Wisconsin. In an interview with The Guardian, Rossy said “It’s total freedom, you have almost no limits in the third dimension.” This isn’t Rossy’s first flight over US soil, he previously strapped himself into the suit for a flight over the Grand Canyon in 2011. Rossy and his team have been working to improve his jet suit, significantly improving the total flight time from the original 10 minutes, and are currently seeking to allow for takeoff from the ground, rather than airdrop. “This is why we are living,” asserts Rossy of his flight over Wisconsin, “to have these kinds of emotions, these moments of joy.”

Anonymous sources confirm 15 second Facebook video ads

According to a report from Bloomberg, anonymous sources at Facebook have confirmed that the social networking behemoth plans to insert 15 second video ads into users’ News Feeds. The valuable 15 second slots are the standard minimum length for television commercials, and are clearly designed to ease the transition for advertisers shifting money from TV to the Internet. The report claims that users should see no more than three video spots in their feed per day, and that Facebook ad campaigns could cost anywhere from $1 million to $2.5 million a day, depending on the size of the targeted audience.

Slow HD video buffering is likely a product of secret backroom deals

Ars Technica’s Jon Brodkin has produced a detailed exploration into the conspiracy theories and facts surrounding the shady negotiations that govern our ability to reliably stream video to our homes. Brodkin’s fellow Ars writer, Lee Hutchinson posits that “for at least the past year, I’ve suffered from ridiculously awful YouTube speeds. Ads load quickly—there’s never anything wrong with the ads!—but during peak times, HD videos have been almost universally unwatchable.”

Is Hutchinson’s 16Mbps business-class cable connection insufficient for HD video? Unlikely. During his investigation, Brodkin deep-dives into the infrastructure and business machinations that occur behind the scenes which simultaneously make video streaming possible, and problematic. His findings, while inconclusive, do cast a cold light on the larger US ISPs that choose not to implement the local caches and peering services offered for free from content providers, which would significantly improve end-users’ access to their HD streams of choice.

“’Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto,’ my wife says.” Gary Shteyngart on being a Google Glass Explorer

Gary Shteyngart, writer for the New Yorker, has produced a lengthy account of his experience as one of the few Google Glass Explorers in New York. “I hear that in San Francisco, where these devices are far more in evidence, the term “Glassholes” is already current, but in New York I am a conquering hero,” writes Shteyngart, recounting examples of strangers on the street approaching him with questions and admiration. “We’re all squealing, full of childish zeal. We are rubbing up to the future, hearing the first gramophone playing scratchily in the distance.”

Shteyngart’s account is a thoroughly personal exploration of the daily use of Google Glass, and what it might mean for the future. Well worth a read.

Commercial drones have been cleared for flight in the US

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced that, for the first time, businesses will be allowed to operate drones over American soil. According to the FAA July 26 news update, “a major energy company” will deploy a ScanEagle drone off the coast of Alaska in order to “survey ocean ice floes and migrating whales in Artic oil exploration areas,” and a PUMA drone to “support emergency response crews for oil spill monitoring and wildlife surveillance over the Beaufort Sea.” Before now, launching drones over US soil required an experimental airworthiness certificate, which specifically prohibited commercial operations.

The FAA’s statement claims that “issuing the type certificates is an important step toward the FAA’s goal of integrating [unmanned aircraft systems] into the nation’s airspace.

8 comments (Leave your own)

I remember years ago (pre Youtube) reading about how the sheer bandwidth requirements for streaming videos (compared to what else the internet was used for) were going to have consequences in the future.

Sure did take a while for things to come about, but it was always going to happen.


i really hate ppl that correct errors in articles and im kicking myself for being one, but, thats a b-17 not 15

other than that, i saw that video the other day, awesome to think the 2 flying are pinnicles of technology, just 70 years apart


Video ads in my Facebook news feed? DO NOT WANT!

Lucky I have AdBlock Plus.



Bye bye facebook.


Video ads in my Facebook news feed? DO NOT WANT!

Lucky I have AdBlock Plus.

Not if what I heard last week about AdBlock Plus accepting money to allow certain ads. Hopefully they will only accept legitimate ads for sites that actually benefit from this such as community run sites.


InAUGral:Hopefully they will only accept legitimate ads for sites that actually benefit from this such as community run sites.

I’m pretty sure AdBlock already has this feature.


matty: I’m pretty sure AdBlock already has this feature.

You can opt to let some non-intrusive ads through if you want to.

If they ever remove the optional aspect of this, someone will just make a new adblock.

Re Google Glass, it should be legal to knock these off the head of anyone rude enough to wear them within 5 metres of another human without asking permission.


There are various commercial ads ways that actually don’t need expensive drones to create advertisement like this. In fact the power of voice over alone for commercial purposes is better and convincing. Just as the provides to their clients.

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