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Bytes: What’s new in tech

Netflix’s slow-streaming problem; Blocking on LinkedIn; A recall for Fitbit Force

Netflix’s slow-streaming problemIf you’re having trouble streaming House of Cards, your local cable company may be to blame, said Jon Brodkin in ArsTechnica.com. Dave Schaeffer, the chief executive at Cogent Communications—which delivers Netflix traffic to Internet service providers—blamed Verizon for slow streaming speeds, saying the firm refuses to upgrade its infrastructure “unless outrageous demands for payment are met.” Internet congestion “is particularly bad with streaming video because it requires so much bandwidth, with Netflix alone accounting for more than 30 percent of downstream Internet traffic at peak usage times.” Verizon, in turn, has blamed Cogent for the cyber traffic jam, “saying that Cogent is unique in taking such an inflexible stance in negotiations” and denying charges that it sabotages Netflix traffic to benefit Redbox Instant, Verizon’s own streaming-video service.

Blocking on LinkedInYou no longer have to put up with stalkers on LinkedIn, said Richard Nieva in CNET.com. The site last week rolled out a new member-blocking feature that will be “welcome news for anyone who’s ever been spammed on the social networking site.” LinkedIn users can now block any member by visiting that person’s profile and choosing “Block or report” from the drop-down menu next to the “Connect” and “Send InMail” buttons. “Blocking a member will disallow both of you from seeing each other’s profile, and if you’re connected, that connection automatically breaks.” You also won’t be able to send or receive messages to or from blocked users, “and all endorsements and recommendations will be removed.” But some information—such as any comments you’ve made in public groups—will still be viewable.

A recall for Fitbit ForceIf you’re having trouble with your Fitbit Force, send it back, said Darrell Etherington in TechCrunch.com. The fitness device’s manufacturer, Fitbit, “has just issued a recall (and stopped sales)” of the “wrist-borne activity tracker,” which includes advanced features for athletes, after users complained about skin rashes. In a statement, the company said that “users are likely experiencing an allergic reaction” to materials used in manufacturing the Force, offering a refund to customers and promising a new and improved version soon. Affected Force owners can visit the company’s website to request a return kit.

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