Technology notebook

YouTube will streamline Web site’s look

One of the most popular sites on the Web — YouTube — is getting a new look.

The video-sharing site owned by Google Inc. is trying to de-clutter its video playback page in an effort to drive people to watch more of its massive archive, which includes such offerings as the latest Lady Gaga music video and a report on narcoleptic dogs.

Changes being unveiled this week include reducing the number of links that pepper playback pages, and moving the name of the video’s submitter to just below the video’s title. There will also be a collapsible link to the submitter’s other YouTube videos and a button that lets viewers subscribe to these clips, making it easier to see what else that submitter has shared without bombarding viewers with links.

The site is also replacing its five-star video-rating system with a simpler option to “like” or “dislike” a video.

YouTube senior product manager Shiva Rajaraman said YouTube released more site features in 2009 than in the previous two years combined, resulting in playback pages that looked very busy.

Beyond making the site more user-friendly, the changes are meant to get users to engage more with videos on the site — such as by commenting on videos and sharing clips on Twitter and Facebook.

Universities offer iPads to students

A western Pennsylvania university is offering free iPads to all full-time students starting this fall.

Seton Hill University in suburban Pittsburgh says about 1,500 students are eligible for the Apple tablet computers. The highly anticipated product goes on sale today.

University officials say the iPad will make electronic textbooks easier to download and use. They also say it will let students create and share work instantly with peers and faculty.

George Fox University in Oregon will offer incoming freshmen the choice between an iPad or an Apple MacBook, depending on whether they want something more mobile or something with more computing capabilities.

Cisco make routers easier to use

Cisco Systems Inc. is trying to remove the techspeak from home Wi-Fi routers and make the equipment easier to install and set up.

On Wednesday, it’s introducing a new brand in consumer routers: “Cisco Valet.” It will be the first time it sells consumer routers without the Linksys brand, which it acquired in 2003. However, it’s keeping the Linksys brand for more techie-oriented routers.

“This is very much a reflection of Cisco’s goal of becoming a household brand,” said Scott Kabat, director of marketing at Cisco Consumer Products.

The focus on ease of setup is intended to address common frustrations about Wi-Fi routers. Some retailers report that one in four routers are returned because buyers can’t set them up, Kabat said.

“It’s not a good consumer experience today,” he said.

Valet will come in two versions, one for $100 and another, with longer wireless range, for $150. That’s more than the equivalent new Linksys routers, which start at $79.

The Associated Press