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    October 29, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Tetrisween!

    Via: Reddit

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    October 26, 2014
    Apple To Rebrand Beats Music As iTunes Feature

    Every year, it seems that music sales decrease.  Once upon a time, digital sales were supposed to keep the vultures at bay and prop up the music industry, but it seems that as prices rise on music–from 99 cents to $2.99 a track–consumer interest decreases similarly.  iTunes sales have dropped 14% since the beginning of the year, and while download sales are flat, physical media continues to disappear from sales sheets and streaming services appear to be on the rise.  Hence, Apple’s going to do something to the Beats Music streaming service they acquired in the purchase of the Beats franchise from Dr. Dre and company.  Apple is going to convert Beats Radio into an iTunes paid streaming service.

    For $10 a month, consumers can stream music from the Beats library, and before long, that same offer will be dangled out for iTunes users.  However, will users actually pay for streaming when there are so many free streaming options out there?  Color me doubtful.  Why pay for something when other people are giving it to you for free?  Or, perhaps, for the price of an Amazon Prime subscription that comes with a whole lot more fringe benefits than Apple typically offers.

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    October 22, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: iBend

    Via:  Macworld

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    October 20, 2014
    Google Tests Anti-Piracy Ads

    One of the easiest things to do online is to find sketchy content.  From movies to music, if you really want it, you can find it.  However, it might take more than a simple Google search in the future.  Google will be testing out anti-piracy search results, in which searchers are redirected (by ads) to legal ways to listen to their illegal music.  Provided those legal ways are free, I can see that initiative being very successful, like via Pandora or VEVO or whatever sort of ad-supported network you may choose.

    The new method is part of Google’s continuing fight against piracy, as first detailed in the 2013 report “How Google Fights Piracy.”  First they began to delist websites hosting stolen content.  Now they are turning your web searches against you, with terms like free and download and whatnot triggering the ad displays (and potentially skewing search results).

    “For example, the query ‘expendables download’ returns an ad format at the top of the page advertising Google Play, Vudu, and Amazon,” said the piracy report.  ”The same ad format triggers on queries for queries like ‘expendables torrent.’  While relatively few users search in this way compared to root queries like ‘expendables,’ we are happy that these new ad formats are driving traffic to legitimate sources of media.”

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    October 15, 2014
    It’s Rifftrax, Charlie Brown

    Tonight is a great night for television watching, because one of the most popular Halloween specials in the history of television will be airing.  That special is the classic It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and it’s a wonderful piece of entertaining nostalgia.  However, that can be improved upon, if you’re one of the witty minds behind Rifftrax.  Rifftrax makes comedy commentary tracks to be played along with whatever DVD you’re watching (or bought already synced up to the movie in question) and enjoyed for the laughs they provide.  The Rifftrax guys don’t shy away from classics like Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz, and now, this particular TV special.  Mashable has a sneak preview of Rifftrax’s take on Charlie Brown.

    YouTube Preview Image

    It’s not the full special, and it won’t happen during tonight’s special airing of the Charlie Brown Halloween special, but the whole short and commentary will be screened on 10/30 as Rifftrax Live takes on Anaconda in a nationwide (and Canadawide) simulcast event at selected theaters.  For more information and tickets, visit Fathom Events’ Rifftrax Live page.


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    October 10, 2014
    Teens Fleeing Facebook

    The Facebook boom is busting.  Once upon a time, Facebook was driven by teenagers and 20-somethings, but now it appears that the bloom is off the rose and the teens are leaving Facebook.  Between spring 2014 and fall 2014, Facebook use among teens dropped from 79 percent to 45 percent, which is a staggering collapse for the world’s only real social networking platform of note.  Increasingly, teens are finding their way to Twitter, Instagram, and other social networking services, or none at all from the looks of the survey conducted by Piper Jaffray.

    Even accounting for gender and household income, the 7200 students surveyed seem to have decided to take a break from Facebook.  Of course, these kinds of dips and dives are common among teens, particularly given their responsiveness to trends and their ability to move back and forth between social networks as they feel like.  I think that Twitter and Instagram are the more… cool social services, but Facebook is just too omnipresent–for the moments–for teens to give up on completely.

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    October 3, 2014
    Turning British Pay Phones Into Solar Chargers

    Once upon a time, Britain was known for its bright red telephone boxes, the UK equivalent of the pay phones we know and love here in the United States.  However, these days, the pay phone on both sides of the Atlantic is a reminder of a time before constant communication, and increasingly phone booths are being removed, abandoned, or destroyed.  However, one company has a good idea of what to do with all those telephone booths and call boxes:  turn them into cellphone chargers.  Solarbox equips a phone booth with solar power, batteries, and four chargers, then opens it up to the public as a free charge point for travelers on the go.

    “The energy is stored in a battery, so you can even charge your mobile phone during the night or when there is no sun,” said Harold Craston, the co-founder of solarbox.  ”We wanted to show that we could use public spaces in a positive way, and that London should try to become more green.”

    The first Solarbox is already up outside the entrance of the Tottenham Court Road tube station in London.  Located near London’s shopping district, it’s one of the busiest places I’ve ever been in the world, so that’s going to be a great test of Solarbox’s ability to handle a high amount of traffic.  Fingers crossed it works, because there’s nothing worse than having to look for an outlet when your phone is dying.

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    September 25, 2014
    Drones Make It To Hollywood

    One of the coolest shots in any movie is a helicopter shot.  You put a camera on a helicopter, and you go flying around, or you chase down a fleeing car, or you just… well, do anything, really, provided it’s from the air.  However, every time you have to go up in a helicopter, there’s an element of danger.  Lots of things can go wrong, and people have died in helicopter crashes in making movies since helicopters became a part of the film language.  But there’s a better solution, and it’s unmanned.  Hollywood aerial photography companies will now be allowed to use drones to capture all those cool visuals movies depend on.

    “Today’s announcement is a significant milestone in broadening commercial UAS use while ensuring we maintain our world-class safety record in all forms of flight.  These companies are blazing a trail that others are already following, offering the promise of new advances in agriculture and utility safety and maintenance,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

    Really, it’s probably the safest of all options, both for the FAA and for the people making films.  Nobody has to get up and fly around in a helicopter, dodging and weaving through power lines, when a comparatively tiny drone lugging a camera around can do the same job much safer.  I doubt any drones will be going high enough to cause problems with existing flight plans (also unlike a helicopter), so this seems like a win all the way around.

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    September 15, 2014
    Chinese City’s Cell Phone Walker Lane

    It seems that no matter where you go, you can’t get people off their cell phones.  From London to Hong Kong, people have their nose in their phone and never pay attention to where they’re actually going.  Well one Chinese city has decided to raise a little awareness of that issue.  Chongqing, China has a cell-phone walking lane, separating walkers from talkers.  Apparently, the city of 28 million people in southwest China has a real problem with folks not paying attention.

    “There are lots of elderly people and children in our street, and walking with your cell phone may cause unnecessary collisions here,” said Nong Cheng, a spokeswoman for the district’s property manager.

    Of course, the effort isn’t a real law, just a satirical way to create a little situational awareness, as well as get some attention for the city.  Here’s hoping all the cell phone photos will convince some of those users to pay more attention to the world around them and less attention to their Facebook and Twitter and Instagram accounts while walking around.  And if not, at least they’ll be a lot of funny pictures added to those things.

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    September 10, 2014
    Internet Slowdown Day

    If your connection seems a little slow today, it’s not you and it’s not your Internet provider, it’s the sites themselves.  This morning, hundreds of websites displayed animations showing just how slow the online experience could be if America’s ISPs get their way.  The protest is dubbed Internet Slowdown Day, and it pits Google, Facebook, and other huge online companies against the Internet Service Providers who run the Internet into homes around the country.  Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner, Comcast, AT&T, and others are trying to separate the Internet into paying ‘first priority’ websites and secondary websites, and the FCC is listening to their arguments as we speak.  Basically, your Internet provider is trying to pay the government to earn the right to charge companies to be put into an online “fast lane” while those that won’t, or can’t, get pushed to the side.

    “The ISPs have invested tens of millions of dollars in their effort to undermine Net Neutrality,” said a press release from Demand Progress executive director David Segal, “but we still have a chance of defeating them — because the overwhelming majority of Americans stand with the Open Internet. September 10th represents a chance for us to make that fact impossible to ignore.”

    Comcast has already forced Netflix to pay them what amounts to a bribe to allow Netflix’s customers to continue to receive service as fast as they’re paying for, and now they’re looking to expand that reach.  Turns out ISPs are some of the highest-paying lobbyist groups in Washington, which means they’ll get to buy a lot of Congressional support (and the head of the FCC is a former cable company lobbyist, and cable companies are the new ISPs).  Turns out it’s not extortion if you can pay off enough people to get your way!

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