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    November 27, 2014
    Happy Thanksgiving From Shaktronics

    Here in the United States, it’s Thanksgiving Day.  That’s a time for gathering together with family and friends, eating too much, watching too much television, and generally just enjoying the most wonderful sort of relaxing sloth between now and the beginning of the frantic holiday shopping season tomorrow.  So, if you’re celebrating, have a happy Thanksgiving!  If you’re not celebrating, or you’re not from the United States, then happy Thursday just the same.

    As always, I am thankful most of all to you guys, the readers, for checking the site out and being a part of things.  I’m also thankful for the rest of the Shak family for their support and assistance with this project.  Year after year, we keep it going, and if you haven’t checked out the other parts of the Shakadoo family, please do so.  They’re all great sites with great writers.

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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 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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    October 31, 2014
    Terrifying Geeky Jack-O-Lanterns

    There are few things more terrifying than having a bunch of fun things scheduled to record only to discover that your capacity to record is rapidly ticking away.  My DVR seems camped between 30 and 40 percent remaining, no matter what I do.  However, when it gets further and further from 0 percent capacity and closer and closer to 100 percent capacity, that means it’s time to start worrying.  That’s one of the many fun, geeky jack-o-lantern cards at Some E-Cards.

    There are a lot of fun options for cards, including some personal horrors like the scale, the check engine light, no internet, and more.  Truly, it’s all the banes of modern existence given life in pumpkin form.  There is true terror in those funny little cards, you just have to look for it.  Or wait until it starts looking for you…

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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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