Major YouTube Upgrade

I cannot recall when YouTube was as much unavailable for as long as it is today. Something major is cooking.

There cannot be any other reason for this significant outage. You can see the following message on all pages on the YouTube website at this moment.

“We are currently performing site maintenance. Be cool – we’ll be back 100% in a bit.”

The user profile pages are not accessible. You can log-in and log-out and see a bit about your subscriptions, but that is pretty much all that you can do at your account area. You cannot access your videos (for updates), upload new videos, access ratings, messages or account settings.

You can access videos via direct URL and play them, but there is no interactivity possible, such as video ratings, adding comments or adding a video to your favorites or a play list.

It also seems that videos embedded in other websites are not working. I noticed problem with that already last night, which means that this update is going on for way over 16-17 hours already. Again, the same video on the YouTube site itself still works.

Image caption: screen shot of video embed in this blog when I tried to play it.

Comments on YouTube Site
Okay, I admit, the user interface of YouTube sucked. They tried to improve things here and there, but it kept on sucking. A major overhaul of it would be great.
Google Video seems to be up, no sign of any upgrades there, although I had some issues with Google Video during the past days. So it seems that Google Video is not going to be merged into YouTube with this upgrade.

Thoughts on Google Video
Google Video seems to have more focused on the search aspect of things and tries to become something like a major Video Search Engine. They do a better job at embedding videos from 3rd party video sharing sites as well as videos that were posted on individual websites, not using a video sharing site for video hosting and distribution.

The “social” aspect of Google Video sucks as always, no improvement there. You don’t even have a “user homepage” or anything like that. I figured out a way to create one for my account though. It was tricky, but at the end possible. Comments are buried and not really used (if you can find them). You cannot tell if your videos got comments, which is really “helpful”. I wouldn’t be able to know about them, if it weren’t for a service like TubeMogul, but then again, nobody uses it anyway.

No Restriction of Video Resolution and Length (on my Wish List)
I have tons of videos on YouTube and Google Video and the main reasons for me to continue to use Google Video is the non-existing video length and video file size restriction. You can upload whatever you want and I have several videos that are longer than 10 minutes or exceed the 100 MB limit if you want to keep the video quality decent. The video resolution at Google Video is also higher than on YouTube, even the fairly new and mostly unknown High Definition option at YouTube is a joke. The video resolution might gets up to 480×360, if you are lucky, but that is again related to the size limit of the videos. I did it myself that I scaled a video down to reduce the file size, because YouTube does not play the higher resolution video anyway. I got told though that YouTube keeps the original uploaded video, along side with the encoded one for the use on their website.

It would be nice to see a change in that respect with this upgrade. No limits and higher resolution play back option, 640×480 pixels would be nice, but at least SVCD resolution (480×576 in PAL and 480×480 in NTSC) should become available.

YouTube Messaging Interface Comments
The last upgrade of YouTube, where they introduced a new messaging interface and the annotation and video overlay feature were also not ready for prime time yet. The new messaging interface solved some problems, but at the same time introduced new ones, specifically problems with navigating between comments and messages and content they refer to (comments, videos, user accounts etc.). The annotation feature was also still very buggy. I had to contact YouTube support because it did not work at all for a video when I actually needed it.

Video Update Feature (on my Wish List)
Another thing that bugs me a lot at YouTube and other video sharing sites is the lack of ability to replace a video with an updated version of it. You have to upload the almost identical video again, which many would see as a duplicate and you have to decide, if you keep the old video up (because of comments, favorites, video responses etc.) or if you take it down, delete it or at least set it to private (also something new).

Now people who argue that this would allow all kinds of abuse, like using deceptive switch and bait tactics are to some degree right, but there are options to a solution to this problem. Because there are bad people in the world, is it wrong to assume that everybody is bad until proven otherwise (an impossibility to do btw.). Previous versions of a video could be kept as reference and version history, unless very good reasons were provided for a total removal without a trace.

The option between the two cases would be to only keep as reference the date and time when the video was replaced to indicate that all comments etc. that were made before that date and time, referred to the previous version of the video and not the current one.

Pessimistic Options
Maybe it’s all about infringing video content detection and making it harder for people to upload their videos and to give traditional commercial publishers more power to control distribution of “their” content (claiming a bit of content here and there along the way, where they actually own shit). I hope that this is not the case. I am fed up with this crap.

DailyMotion Incident
My YouTube issues from June are still very much in my memory, as well as all the pain it has caused. I just posted in the night from last Thursday to Friday about my updated video version about the Berlin Wall and how I was taking special care about the legal things of it.

Well, I got an email from during the weekend that one of the four parts of my video (I had to slice it down for all video sharing sites, except Google Video), were taken down, because of possible copyright infringement… I went… WHAT??? and are in email communication with DailyMotion since then. It’s not up again as of now.

I added in my initial response among the requested information about the video content that “I hope that they are better than YouTube, where a large music publisher claimed to own the copyright on another video of mine, where they did not own anything (That’s also called theft IMO). I stated in detail that this company can not own any copyright on anything in this video and provided names, emails and mailing addresses of the content creators and a reference to their copyright license, which permits the creation and publication of my video. YouTube did not bother and did not put it back up again. I had to re-upload it and loose all comments, stats and favorites for the original video.

They responded to that email and asked for the URL of the video (which is kind of stupid, since they should know what they did and include a key in the email notification that is being sent as a result of it to the user who uploaded it.), so my comment was not making them upset a la “Of course we are not YouTube!” mentality. Let’s see how that one goes.

Well, enough speculating and hoping. It won’t be for long anymore (I hope) and we will see what they came up with. Let’s hope for the best.

Carsten aka Roy/SAC

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Categories: Tools Video
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Published on: September 9, 2008

 Comments (1) 

  1. Weird… is up again and I cannot notice any changes at all.. did they revert the upgrade? Or what else did they do that made it necessary to virtually take the whole website down for such a long period of time.

    There is no mention of anything related to the downtime at the official blog.

    I have to look, if somebody else wrote something about this thing.

    Mhhhh… as I said… weird.

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