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    November 22, 2014
    Google To Offer Paid Ad-Block Service

    It’s hard for me, as someone who writes for and maintains websites, to advocate for people not to use ad blockers.  For every blocked ad, I lose a little potential financial reward for the hard work I put in working on the Internet.  Still, as an internet user, I tend to use ad blockers myself, like the browser-based app AdBlock.  However, I’d love to support the websites I visit while still avoiding the inconvenience of pop-ups and other malicious adverts.  Google hears, and Google has a solution.  Google is testing a subscription service that allows users to block ads while not pulling money from the pockets of hard-working website owners.

    The subscription service is called Google Contributor.  There’s a thank-you note that appears in place of the ads, and there are 10 websites signed up for the test service, including IMGUR, The Onion, Urban Dictionary, and Mashable.  It’s both a way to protect users from ads, and to protect users from targeted ads, making it both a convenience issue and a privacy issue.

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    November 21, 2014
    Amazon Preparing Free Ad-Supported Video Service

    I willingly pay the $99 a year to subscribe to Amazon Prime.  Since I have a Kindle Fire, it’s a great deal for me.  Free streaming movies, television episodes, a free book a month, free music, and the wonderful two-day shipping that comes along with the subscription.  I can do all of this stuff from the great Kindle interface, on that great screen, and anywhere I have access to wireless Internet.  Given the growing popularity of Amazon as video retailer, it’s only natural to expand that offering.  Amazon may be offering free streaming video.

    The key is advertisements.  Amazon Prime members won’t have them; the free streaming video service will.  Amazon already has a pretty big business in ad sales, pushing ads onto Kindles, their subsidiary websites (like the IMDb), and other services.  Amazon’s advertising business is already pretty close to $1 billion dollars, and giving their rising share of the video market, the natural cross-sales ability of advertising stuff for sale at Amazon in Amazon’s videos, and the potential to sell more people on Prime memberships, it’s a no-brainer to give it a shot.

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    November 19, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Lansbury

    Via Mike Sacco on Twitter.

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    November 17, 2014
    Sweden Takes On Sexism In Games

    I haven’t been following the Gamergate situation at all, mostly because I’m not much of a gamer these days and I generally don’t pay attention to a lot of current events outside of my interests.  However, it’s set off discussions around the world regarding sexism and sexist content in video games and the video game industry as a whole.  While gamers and journalists debate, it looks like one country is going to do something about it.  Sweden may be cracking down on sexism in video games via a rating system.

    Dataspelsbranchen, Sweden’s game industry trade group, is behind the possible change.  Interestingly, the gaming industry group will look both at how women are treated within the game industry and how women are being treated within video games themselves.  Games are already rated for content, perhaps a sexism rating might help games turn around the industry’s sexism issues?  Or at least raise awareness of them.  I’m sure awareness of the issue is at an all-time high, but any time is a good time to do something about the issue.

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    November 15, 2014
    Sony Launches Internet TV Service

    The PlayStation 4 is a pretty expensive piece of entertainment, but it’s also a very versatile creation.  Not only does it play games and movies and music, it looks like Sony is also turning your PS4 into a cable box.  Granted, it’s a product test right now, but it looks like the Japanese conglomerate is opening up a new front in the war for control of your entertainment dollar.  Sony has announced the Playstation Vue, a TV alternative streaming video package.  It offers a range of channels, plus on-demand content.  All told, Vue is expected to have 75 channels, which is a pretty great deal for cord-cutters.

    Of course, there’s a little catch to a service that sounds so good.  It’s pretty expensive.  Not by cable television standards, but definitely in comparison to other things like Netflix.  However, like Netflix, it’s also free from contracts, so when you’re done with it, you can just cut the service.  It even comes with cloud storage (though it only stores stuff for 28 days before deleting it).

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    November 12, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: New Computer, Circa 1950

    Via Reddit’s Old School Cool

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    November 11, 2014
    A Dyslexia-Friendly Font

    I don’t have dyslexia, which is fortunate for me since my main leisure and employment activities involve writing, reading, or otherwise using letters on pages.  I do routinely get numbers muddled up, turned around, or otherwise out of order, but that’s probably just my cluttered brain and not a real medical condition.  For those that suffer from dyslexia, there may be something to help you on the horizon.  A font called Dyslexie Regular is helping folks with dyslexia improve their reading and comprehension.

    “Traditional fonts are designed solely from an aesthetic point of view, which means they often have characteristics that make characters difficult to recognize for people with dyslexia,” writes font creator Christian Boer on his website. “Oftentimes, the letters of a word are confused, turned around or jumbled up because they look too similar.”

    Studies conducted by the University of Twente and the University of Amsterdam have verified claims that Dyslexie helps those with reading issues improve their comprehension and retention.  Even more worthy, the font itself is free to download for home use at DyslexieFont.com.

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    November 7, 2014
    Fun Friday Videos: Eye Of The Printer

    There’s any number of good reasons why the dot matrix printer has gone the way of dodo.  Sure, modern printers are faster, easier to maintain, less noisy, use higher-quality paper, and don’t tear when you try to pull the pages off the printer or remove the guiding strips on the sides (because it’s standard paper, and it doesn’t have those little wheel strips on the side).  But there’s one thing modern printers can’t do that the good old dot matrix printer can.  For example:  can your printer sing?  More importantly, can it perform Survivor’s classic 80′s hit “Eye Of The Tiger”?

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    Here’s a dot matrix printer playing “Eye of the Tiger,” like the perfect blend of everything 80′s that it is.  A dot matrix printer, a song from a Rocky movie… all we need are some VHS tapes and a Commodore 64 and we’re in business!

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    November 5, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Meet The Commodore

    Via Reddit’s Retro Battlestations.

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    November 3, 2014
    Time To Buy: 8 Awesome Shopping Apps

    I saw my first Christmas commercial on October 26 during AMC’s Sunday night airing of The Walking Dead.  A week before Halloween, on a show about zombies eating people, I saw a commercial warning me to prepare for Christmas.  Well, it wasn’t a warning, more like a threat.  Either way, the holiday shopping season is approaching, and if you haven’t started spending your money on gifts quite yet,  you need to get yourself prepared for the inevitable.  Fortunately, technology is here to help.  Here are 8 great apps to make the shopping season a little less crazy.

    I rarely wait until the last minute to buy gifts, when I know what I’m going to get.  If I have an idea, I pounce on it.  If I don’t have an idea, well… then I end up dragging my feet and buying whatever comes to mind at the last minute.  I’m going to make an attempt this year to both buy my presents early and not give them early, but I can’t make any promises, no matter how many apps I might download onto my tablet.

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