Web

Public webcam helps Indian government office stay honest

kerala-webcam-transparency

Words like “transparency” and “accountability” get thrown around far too often in American politics — too often because they mean next to nothing. If the average citizen wants to check in on what a particular politician, official or government office is doing, they are at the mercy of those in power to open the doors.

Faced with a similar problem — as well as rampant kickbacks and other such corruption — Oommen Chandy, a top governmental official in India, decided to take drastic action: he installed webcams in his office and chamber, and posted the live feeds online for everyone to see.

“Instead of taking action against corruption, I believe that we have to create an atmosphere where everything should be in a transparent way,” said Chandy in an interview with The New York Times. “The people must know everything.”

Mr. Chandy currently works as the chief minister of Kerala state, which holds similar duties to that of an American governor.

The video is viewable right on the homepage of the official Kerla stat chief executive website. According to the Times, the video had been viewed a total of about 300,000 times, as of Friday. For comparison, Kerla has a total population of more than 33.3 million people.

Alas, it’s doubtful that the presence of the webcam itself will prevent any corruption — at least not in the same way a security camera at a retail store might prevent shoplifting. Instead, the act of installing the webcam serves as a political gesture, which can, in turn, promote an atmosphere of honesty and transparency in government.

US President Barack Obama has also made attempts to add transparency to the federal government — though he hasn’t yet go so far as to install a live feed in the Oval Office. The Recovery.gov website, for example, allows citizens to see how the recovery dollars are spent, and also to report any potential fraud, waste or abuse of the funds.

Something tells us this won’t easily catch on in the US. But thanks to Mr. Chandy, the idea’s out there, and it’s only a matter of time before the American public begins to demand the true transparency our current technology allows.

Movies & TV

Marvel’s streaming Loki series gets a plot summary and a showrunner

A Rick & Morty writer will oversee Marvel's Loki series for Disney Plus. Tom Hiddleston is expected to reprise his role for the show, while the series' premise offers a few hints as to how Loki might return from the dead.
Movies & TV

The Obi-Wan Kenobi Star Wars spinoff might be a TV show, not a movie

After years of reports that Obi-Wan Kenobi would get his own Star Wars movie, rumors indicate that the fan-favorite Jedi Master might star in his own streaming television miniseries instead.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Home Theater

Hi-res streaming audio service Qobuz arrives in U.S., threatens Tidal’s monopoly

For several years, Tidal enjoyed a monopoly on hi-res music streaming in the U.S. Now, French company Qobuz is here to offer some competition with a variety of monthly plans starting at $10 a month.
Computing

New Chrome feature aimed at preventing websites from blocking Incognito Mode

A new Chrome feature will prevent websites from blocking Chrome users as they browse using Incognito Mode. The feature is supposed to fix a known loophole that allows websites to detect and block those using Incognito Mode.
Computing

Reluctant to give your email address away? Here's how to make a disposable one

Want to sign up for a service without the risk of flooding your inbox with copious amounts of spam and unwanted email? You might want to consider using disposable email addresses via one of these handy services.
Computing

Microsoft extension adds Google Chrome support for Windows Timeline

The Windows Timeline feature is now much more versatile thanks to the added support for Google's Chrome browser. All you need to do to increase its functionality is to download the official Chrome extension.
Computing

Chrome is a fantastic browser, but is is still the best among new competitors?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.
Movies & TV

Here’s how to watch the 2019 Oscars livestream online

The 91st Academy Awards will air live on ABC, but there are also a number of ways to watch Hollywood's biggest night online using your mobile device, desktop, or set-top streamer. Here's how to catch the Oscars livestream.
Computing

YouTube changes its strikes system, offers softer first-offense penalty

YouTube announced changes to its strikes system for its content creators. The changes include a softer first-offense penalty for creators who violate YouTube's guidelines and more consistent penalties for further violations.
Computing

An experimental feature could help reduce memory usage in Google Chrome

Google Chrome might be the most popular web browser, but it also is a resource hog. Google is currently working on an experimental feature for Chrome which sets out to reduce its overall memory usage. 
Computing

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. The best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.
Computing

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

Though there are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, finding a solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here are the best PDF editors for your editing needs, no matter your budget or OS.
Web

Rid yourself of website notification requests in just a few easy steps

Wish you knew how to block browser and website notifications? You can do it on a case by case basis, but that can become dull after the 10th site has asked for your approval. Here's how to block them outright.