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    November 19, 2015
    Write And Pitch To Amazon Studios

    Amazon has become one of the biggest players in the entertainment industry over the years.  First they worked as the best way to sell stuff online.  Now, they’re not just selling the movies and TV shows made by others and are just making themselves.  Every six months or so Amazon does what they call a pilot season, when new shows are trotted out for the public to vote on.  Now, to expand the pipeline and get content even more efficiently, Amazon is going into the writing business.  Amazon has free scriptwriting software that submits your ideas directly to Amazon Studios!

    The program is called Amazon Storywriter, and it’s basically your standard screenwriting program, but with the added carrot of being able to turn your script in for submission when you’re done.  There are categories; TV Comedy, TV Drama, Feature Film, and while there’s a lot of legalese to protect both sides from any bright ideas occurring for multiple people at the same time, it’s also a pretty fun idea to get your script out there in the world.  There’s even a Chrome extension for Storywriter for writing on the go and writing in offline mode.

    Will anyone ever wade through the slush pile?  Who knows!  But that’s part of the fun, right?

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    October 28, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday

    Via USA Today

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    October 20, 2015
    New York Times Is Going Virtual Reality

    Subscribers to the New York Times are still around, but they’re becoming more and more rare.  News media in general is struggling, because print is slowing down and they’re not well placed to take on the Internet while still making money.  However, when you’re a company with hundreds of thousands of subscribers and millions of dollars at your disposal, you can afford to try something different.  The New York Times is going to give Google Cardboard to every subscriber.

    If you’re one of the million or so people who gets the Times delivered to your home, you’ve got Google Cardboard coming!  Google Cardboard is coming for a reason.  That reason is The Displaced, an immersive film experience from the New York Times and Vrse, a virtual reality from Chris Milk.  It offers a full-spectrum view of the current problems in Sudan, Ukraine, and Syria through the eyes of three children struggling in the conflicts.  It’s all part of Google and the New York Times’ new project, NYT VR.

    If you don’t have a smartphone to use with Google Cardboard, don’t worry.  The Displaced and its content will be on the New York Times’ website in 2D.  NYT VR will be available to download on Google Play and Apple iTunes store.

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    October 17, 2015
    Not OK: Voice Stripped From Desktop Chrome

    One of the big features of Chrome is the ability to control it with your voice.  You see this most often with your smartphone.  You hold your Android up and you say “OK Google” and your browser springs to life to search for whatever’s on your mind.  It’s really handy when it comes to settling family arguments about who that guy is in that thing and the like.  The feature has also been found in Google Chrome’s desktop version, but I’m sure you didn’t know that because I’m not sure anyone ever used it.  Unsurprisingly, Google is going to remove voice commands from the desktop version of Chrome.

    I would assume, perhaps wrongly, but probably not, that it takes a lot of resources to have your browser constantly listening for a voice cue.  The fact that a lot of people play on the computer in front of the television means that every “OK Google” commercial might just wake up your browser and have you surfing.  Ditto friends cueing smartphones with the same command.  The technology is nice, and I’m sure it can be useful, but maybe it’s something that should be installed as an option, not as a feature.

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    October 16, 2015
    Google Play Adds “Series” Lists

    I have made a concerted effort in the last few months to read.  I used to read books by the stack, ten or twelve at a time from the library, but since the Internet became a thing and I got a real job, it’s been difficult to read and keep up with reading, particularly with more prolific authors of interest.  However, recently I followed some recommendations and started reading books by John Ringo and Hugh Howey, and I’ve really enjoyed both authors.  There’s only one problem.  Both authors work in series, and I have a lot of trouble making sure I read the books in the right order.  A big contributor to the problem is buying e-books.  I never know the order without looking it up, and most stores aren’t any help.

    Fortunately, Google Play is changing things a little.  Google Play is going to start grouping books together by series, and in proper series order.  The update to the Google Play store isn’t pushed out yet, but it’s available for download if you can’t wait.  As for me, I can wait.  After all, I wrote a reading order for a book series down on a notebook and have been checking off what I read to make sure I follow the alignment properly, so clearly I’m working around the problems others are having.

    Still, the ability to keep a list of books I own and buy the next book in the list without any special effort would be awesome.  Maybe I’ll have to use Google Play as my bookstore of choice once this update goes through.

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    October 10, 2015
    Leave It To Japan To Make A Smartphone Robot

    The Japanese love gadgets.  More than that, they LOVE robots, to an insane degree almost.  It’s only natural that Japan would put both those things together, in smartphone format.  Meet Robohon, an Android smartphone that’s built inside an adorable little robot.

    Of course, it’s not the most useful smartphone on the market, but it may be the most interesting.  Running a custom Android shell, Robohon is not meant to be touched (though he has a small touchscreen in his back).  He’s meant to be talked to.  You run Robohon with your voice.

    He’s got big soft buttons and big icons on his small screen, and you still need to use the screen if it’s too loud or if you need to confirm certain orders, but for the most part, he’s mostly meant to be cute and helpful without a lot of poking at icons.  He’s got articulated joints and is capable of moving–RoboHon will dance if you ask nicely–with a body that feels like a toy.  He’s even got a little projector in his forehead, for seeing pictures and texts and the like.  So not only is he adorable, he’s also surprisingly functional.

    For now, he’s only for Japan, and Sharp hasn’t yet announced just when he’ll be made available outside the country.  I doubt he ever will.  Still, isn’t he the cutest thing?!

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    October 7, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: LED Roomba

    via Reddit

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    October 4, 2015
    Apple Watch Coming To Target

    Apple has a great idea with its Apple Stores.  You get people in, they get to play with your products, and when they have a problem, they bring it right to you for repairs and the wonderful extra income that comes with that.  However, that’s a pretty limited distribution network, and even the best set of stores (and online sales) doesn’t reach everyone.  Hence, corporate partners who specalize in retail.  Like, for instance, Target?  The Apple Watch is going to be sold at your local Target.

    Get ready.  The Apple Watch hits Target’s website on October 18; all stores should have the watch in stock by October 25.  Here’s a press release from Target raising awareness and interest in their new product.  It looks like it’s going to have a good array of options at the price most people can afford.  Behold!

    “Guests can choose from 20 models—in both 38mm and 42mm sizes—including beautiful space gray and rose gold colors.  Select models and bands will be available at all Target stores, and an expanded assortment of Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch will be available on  Prices range from $349 to $599.”

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    September 17, 2015
    Microsoft Eliminates The Last Zune Reminder

    It seems like the Zune has been gone forever, resigned to the mists of history like the Apple Newton and other failed products that were good ideas that didn’t quite take off.  The Zune was only taken off the market in 2012, but it’s as if Microsoft was in a hurry to wipe it all out, renaming their music product to Xbox Music (and again to Groove).  There was one thing still around, though; Zune Music Pass.  The physical players themselves are still around too, but all support for them is now officially unofficial.  Microsoft is finally ending the Zune Music Pass.

    The Zune services will be shutting down November 15, thereby ending one of the weirdest periods in music.  Big companies were fighting left and right to make music players and provide interfaces for said music, and in the end, Apple won but that victory is going to be short-lived thanks to the rise of streaming services and always-on Internet in everyone’s pocket.

    The very smartphones that drive the company’s profits have killed their former golden goose, but I doubt they’re complaining.  Phones need upgrading more frequently than music players ever did.

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    September 9, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: They’re Serious

    Via ABC News

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