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AT&T

Senator Al Franken Accuses AT&T of "Skirting" Net Neutrality Rules 81

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-sir-I-don't-like-it dept.
McGruber writes In a letter to the U.S. Federal Communication Commission and the Department of Justice, Senator Al Franken warned that letting AT&T acquire Direct TV could turn AT&T into a gatekeeper to the mobile Internet. Franken also complained that AT&T took inappropriate steps to block Internet applications like Google Voice and Skype: "AT&T has a history of skirting the spirit, and perhaps the letter' of the government's rules on net neutrality, Franken wrote."
Music

Ode To Sound Blaster: Are Discrete Audio Cards Still Worth the Investment? 502

Posted by timothy
from the won't-fit-in-my-phone dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Back in the day (which is a scientific measurement for anyone who used to walk to school during snowstorms, uphill, both ways), integrated audio solutions had trouble earning respect. Many enthusiasts considered a sound card an essential piece to the PC building puzzle. It's been 25 years since the first Sound Blaster card was introduced, a pretty remarkable feat considering the diminished reliance on discrete audio in PCs, in general. These days, the Sound Blaster ZxR is Creative's flagship audio solution for PC power users. It boasts a signal-to-noise (SNR) of 124dB that Creative claims is 89.1 times better than your motherboard's integrated audio solution. It also features a built-in headphone amplifier, beamforming microphone, a multi-core Sound Core3D audio processor, and various proprietary audio technologies. While gaming there is no significant performance impact or benefit when going from onboard audio to the Sound Blaster ZxR. However, the Sound Blaster ZxR produced higher-quality in-game sound effects and it also produces noticeably superior audio in music and movies, provided your speakers can keep up."
It's funny.  Laugh.

Homestar Runner To Return Soon 57

Posted by samzenpus
from the back-soon dept.
An anonymous reader writes with good news for everyone who loves Strong Bad.Back in April, Homestar Runner got its first content update in over four years. It was the tiniest of updates and the site went quiet again shortly thereafter, but the Internet's collective 90s kid heart still jumped for joy...The site's co-creator, Matt Chapman, popped into an episode of The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show to chat about the history of Homestar — but in the last 15 minutes or so, they get to talking about its future. The too-long-didn't-listen version: both of the brothers behind the show really really want to bring it back. The traffic they saw from their itty-bitty April update suggests people want it — but they know that may very well be a fluke. So they're taking it slow.
Movies

Netflix Is Looking To Pay Someone To Watch Netflix All Day 86

Posted by samzenpus
from the how-do-you-hire-that-which-has-no-life dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news about a dream job for binge-watching couch potatoes in the UK. Ploughing through your new favourite series on Netflix is something you probably enjoy doing after a working day, but what if it was your working day? You see, Netflix has a fancy recommendation engine that suggests movies and shows you might like based on your prior viewing habits. To do that successfully, it needs information from a special group of humans that goes beyond the basics like genre and user rating. "Taggers," as they're known, analyse Netflix content and feed the recommendation engine with more specific descriptors if, for example, a film is set in space or a cult classic. In short, these people get paid to watch TV all day, and Netflix is currently hiring a new tagger in the UK.
Music

Google Acquires Curated Music Service Songza 45

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the all-manowar-all-the-time dept.
mpicpp (3454017) writes with news that Google is expanding its online music services through acquisition. From the article: Songza focuses on playlists curated by music experts that are designed for specific activities or occasions and then suggested to specific listeners based on seven points of context: day of week, time of day, the device used being used, weather, location, what the particular listener has done before with the service considering those previous five points, and then what all other Songza listeners have done before given the first five context points.
Movies

The Internet's Own Boy 194

Posted by timothy
from the add-your-review-below dept.
theodp (442580) writes "The Internet's Own Boy, the documentary about the life and death of Aaron Swartz, was appropriately released on the net as well as in theaters this weekend, and is getting good reviews from critics and audiences. Which is kind of remarkable, since the Achilles' heel of this documentary, as critic Matt Pais notes in his review, is that "everyone on the other side of this story, from the government officials who advocated for Swartz's prosecution to Swartz's former Reddit colleagues to folks at MIT, declined participation in the film." Still, writer/director Brian Knappenberger manages to deliver a compelling story, combining interesting footage with interviews from Swartz's parents, brothers, girlfriends, and others from his Internet projects/activism who go through the stages of joy, grief, anger, and hope that one sees from loved ones at a wake. "This remains an important David vs. Goliath story," concludes Pais, "of a remarkable brain years ahead of his age with the courage and will to fight Congress-and a system built to impede, rather than encourage, progress and common sense. The Internet's Own Boy will upset you. As it should." And Quinn Norton, who inadvertently gave the film its title ("He was the Internet's own boy," Quinn said after Swartz's death, "and the old world killed him."), offers some words of advice for documentary viewers: "Your ass will be in a seat watching a movie. When it is done, get up, and do something.""
Television

Fox Moves To Use Aereo Ruling Against Dish Streaming Service 210

Posted by timothy
from the crossing-the-streams dept.
An anonymous reader writes A day after a surprise U.S. Supreme Court decision to outlaw streaming TV service Aereo, U.S. broadcaster Fox has moved to use the ruling to clamp down on another internet TV service. Fox has cited Wednesday's ruling – which found Aereo to be operating illegally – to bolster its claim against a service offered by Dish, America's third largest pay TV service, which streams live TV programming over the internet to its subscribers and allows them to copy programmes onto tablet computers for viewing outside the home.
Music

How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level 196

Posted by timothy
from the if-only-earbuds-would-stick-in-my-ears dept.
redletterdave (2493036) writes "Apple is one of the biggest headphone makers in the world thanks to those signature white earbuds that have shipped with every iPod, iPhone, and iPad since 2001. But even two years after earbuds became 'EarPods,' the design could still be improved — and competitors are taking notice. Amazon recently unveiled a new pair of in-ear headphones that are magnetic, tangle-free and $5 cheaper than Apple's $30 EarPods, while smaller startups are promoting their own wireless and customizable 3D-printed earbuds. But Apple has an ace up its sleeve, in the form of patents for a set of headphones with 'one or more integrated physiological sensors' designed to help users keep track of their body stats."
Music

Secret of the Banjo's Unique Sound Discovered By Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist 101

Posted by timothy
from the ok-now-tell-us-why-people-like-it dept.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes The banjo is a stringed instrument that produces a distinctive metallic sound often associated with country, folk and bluegrass music. It is essentially a drum with a long neck. Strings are fixed at the end of the neck, stretched across the drum and fixed on the other side. They are supported by a bridge that sits on the drum membrane. While the instrument is straightforward in design and the metallic timbre easy to reproduce, acoustics experts have long puzzled over exactly how the instrument produces its characteristic tones. Now David Politzer, who won the Nobel prize for physics in 2004, has worked out the answer. He says the noise is the result of two different kinds of vibrations. First there is the vibration of the string, producing a certain note. However, the drum also vibrates and this pushes the bridge back and forth causing the string to stretch and relax. This modulates the frequency of the note. When frequency of this modulation is below about 20 hertz, it creates a warbling effect. Guitar players can do the same thing by pushing a string back and forth after it is plucked. But when the modulating frequency is higher, the ear experiences it as a kind of metallic crash. And it is this that gives the banjo its characteristic twang. If you're in any doubt, try replacing the drum membrane with a piece of wood and the twang goes away. That's because the wood is stiffer and so does not vibrate to the same extent. Interesting what Nobel prize-winning physicists do in their spare time.
Television

Bye Bye Aereo, For Now 93

Posted by timothy
from the boston-strangler-argument-sometimes-wins dept.
An anonymous reader writes It didn't take long for Aereo to deal with the realities of the U.S. Supreme Court decision. As of 11:30am EDT today Aereo is suspending operations while they go back to U.S. District Court. In order to keep good will with customers during this time, they are refunding the last month's payment for service. curtwoodward (2147628) writes to point out that the decision which has shut down Aereo for now doesn't mean doom for other cloud services: Don't listen to the trolls---the Supremes were very clear that their ruling only applied to Aereo's livestream and things that look just like it. iCloud, Dropbox and friends are fine.
Toys

That Toy Is Now a Drone 268

Posted by timothy
from the arbitrary-power dept.
fluxgate (2851685) writes "A notice from the FAA announced earlier this week just turned a bunch of kids' toys into drones. In the past, the FAA had made the distinction between model aircraft (allowed) and drones (prohibited without special permission) according to whether they were used for recreation (okay) or commercial purposes (verboten). Now they have further narrowed the definition of model aircraft: If you fly it through video goggles, it no longer qualifies. This move eliminates First Person View (FPV) radio control flying. I'm an editor at IEEE Spectrum with a special interest and blogged about this disturbing development as soon as I heard the news."
The Courts

Supreme Court Rules Against Aereo Streaming Service 484

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the tiny-antennas-not-tiny-enough dept.
New submitter Last_Available_Usern (756093) writes that the Aereo saga is likely over. "The U.S. Supreme Court today dealt a potentially fatal blow to Aereo, an Internet service that allows customers to watch broadcast TV programs on mobile devices by renting a small DVR and antennas (in supported cities) to record and then retransmit local programming on-demand over the internet." Ruling (PDF). Aereo was found to be publicly transmitting, according to SCOTUSBlog "The essence of the Aereo ruling is that Aereo is equivalent to a cable company, not merely an equipment provider."
Star Wars Prequels

George Lucas Selects Chicago For the Star Wars Museum 98

Posted by Soulskill
from the put-it-in-millenium-falcon-park dept.
netringer writes: George Lucas has selected Chicago over Los Angeles and San Francisco as the future home of The Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts, housing his collection of Star Wars art and movie memorabilia along with exhibits of the technology of Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). Where else but on the Chicago Lakefront will be it easy to recreate the ice planet of Hoth?
Robotics

How Disney Built and Programmed an Animatronic President 97

Posted by samzenpus
from the clockwork-people dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this interesting look at how Disney created realistic animatronic figures in a time before programming languages and systems on a chip. Animatronics have powered some of sci-fi and fantasy cinema's most imposing creatures and characters: The alien queen in Aliens, the Terminator in The Terminator, and Jaws of Jaws (the key to getting top billing in Hollywood: be a robot). Even beloved little E.T.—of E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial—was a pile of aluminum, steel, and foam rubber capable of 150 robotic actions, including wrinkling its nose. But although animatronics is a treasured component of some of culture's farthest-reaching movies, it originated in much more mundane circumstances. According to the Disney archives, it began with a bird.

Among the things Walt Disney was renowned for was bringing animatronics (or what he termed at the time Audio-Animatronics) to big stages at his company and elsewhere. But Disney didn't discover or invent animatronics for entertainment use; rather, he found it in a store. In a video on Disney's site, Disney archivist Dave Smith tells a story of how one day in the early 1950s, while out shopping in New Orleans antique shop, Disney took note of a tiny cage with a tinier mechanical bird, bobbing its tail and wings while tweeting tunelessly. He bought the trinket and brought it back to his studio, where his technicians took the bird apart to see how it worked.
Media

Mozilla Is Working On a Firefox OS-powered Streaming Stick 89

Posted by Soulskill
from the casting-video-is-finally-arriving dept.
SmartAboutThings writes: Mozilla took the world by surprise when it announced that it was developing a Firefox operating system that would be used for mobile phones, particularly in developing markets. Such devices have already arrived, but they aren't the only targets for the new operating. According to a report from GigaOM, Mozilla is currently working on a secretive project to develop a Chromecast-like media streaming stick powered by Firefox-OS. Mozilla's Christian Heilmann shared a picture of a prototype.

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