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Movies

Adam Nimoy "For the Love of Spock" Documentary On KickStarter 43 43

New submitter Yohannon writes: In November of 2014, Adam Nimoy, son of Leonard, began talking with his father about creating a documentary regarding the late actor's most iconic role for potential release on the 50th anniversary of the premier of Star Trek. With the actor sadly passing in late February, the project has become more of a celebration of Leonard Nimoy's life as a whole. To fund the project, Adam has turned to KickStarter to raise the relatively modest 600 thousand dollars (US) to complete the documentary.

[Full disclosure: I am the husband of one of the models Nimoy used for his "Full Body Project", and she might be interviewed as a part of the documentary; However, cutting room floors being what they are, even virtually, that's not a guarantee she would actually be IN the doc.]
Music

Spotify Raises $526 Million As Apple Charges Into Streaming 72 72

An anonymous reader writes: Spotify has raised an enormous $526 million in funding to fight off Apple's new Apple Music subscription service. As part of the funding round, European carrier TeliaSonera is responsible for $115 million. The music service now has 20 million paying subscribers and 75 million monthly active users, doubling the subscriber base since May of 2014. The LA Times reports: "U.S. companies participating in the Spotify funding include Halcyon Asset Management, GSV Capital, D.E. Shaw & Co., Technology Crossover Ventures, Northzone and P. Schoenfeld Asset Management, said the person familiar with the matter, who was not authorized to comment publicly. British investment firms Baillie Gifford, Lansdowne Partners and Rinkelberg Capital, along with Canadian hedge funds Senvest Capital and Discovery Capital Management also took part. In a statement disclosing its investment, TeliaSonera said it would work with Spotify to come up with innovations in media distribution, customer insights, data analytics and advertising."
Sci-Fi

2014 Nebula Award Winners Announced 52 52

Dave Knott writes: The winners of the 2014 Nebula awards (presented 2015) have been announced. The awards are voted on by members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and (along with the Hugos) are considered to be one of the two most prestigious awards in science fiction. This year's winners are:

Best Novel: Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer
Best Novella: Yesterday's Kin, Nancy Kress
Best Novelette: "A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai'i", Alaya Dawn Johnson
Best Short Story: "Jackalope Wives", Ursula Vernon
Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation: Guardians of the Galaxy, directed by James Gunn
Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy: Love Is the Drug, Alaya Dawn Johnson
2015 Damon Knight Grand Master Award: Larry Niven
Solstice Award: Joanna Russ (posthumous), Stanley Schmidt
Kevin O'Donnell Jr. Service Award: Jeffry Dwight
Music

A Music-Sharing Network For the Unconnected 66 66

An anonymous reader writes: Operating as personal offline versions of iTunes and Spotify, the téléchargeurs, or downloaders, of Mali are filling the online music void for many in the country. For less than a dime a song, a téléchargeur will transfer playlists to memory cards or directly onto cellphones. Even though there are 120,000 landlines for 15 million people in Mali, there are enough cellphones in service for every person in the country. The spread of cell phones and the music-sharing network that has followed is the subject of this New York Times piece. From the article: "They know what their regulars might like, from the latest Jay Z album to the obscurest songs of Malian music pioneers like Ali Farka Touré. Savvy musicians take their new material to Fankélé Diarra Street and press the téléchargeurs to give it a listen and recommend it to their customers....This was the scene Christopher Kirkley found in 2009. A musicologist, he traveled to Mali hoping to record the haunting desert blues he loved. But every time he asked people to perform a favorite folk song or ballad, they pulled out their cellphones to play it for him; every time he set up his gear to capture a live performance, he says, 'five other kids will be holding their cellphones recording the same thing — as an archivist, it kind of takes you down a couple of notches.'”
Sony

Sony Music CEO Confirms Launch of Apple's Music Streaming Service 86 86

An anonymous reader writes: Sony Music CEO Doug Morris said in an interview that Apple will announce a new music streaming service tomorrow at its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC). The new Apple Music service will include subscription streaming music features as well as a revamped iTunes Radio service. "What does Apple bring to this?" Morris said. "Well, they've got $178 billion in the bank. And they have 800 million credit cards in iTunes. Spotify has never really advertised because it's never been profitable. My guess is that Apple will promote this like crazy and I think that will have a halo effect on the streaming business. A rising tide will lift all boats," he added. "It's the beginning of an amazing moment for our industry."
DRM

Apple Music and the Terrible Return of DRM 260 260

An anonymous reader writes: Apple's rumored music streaming service looks set to materialize soon, and a lot of people are talking about how good it might be. But Nilay Patel is looking at the other side — if the service fits with Apple's typical mode of operation, it'll only work with other Apple products. "That means I'll have yet a fourth music service in my life (Spotify, Google Play Music, Prime, and Apple Music) and a fourth set of content exclusives and pricing windows to think about instead of just listening to music." He points out Steve Jobs's 2007 essay on the state of digital music and notes that Jobs seemed to feel DRM was a waste of time — something forced on Apple by the labels. "But it's no longer the labels pushing DRM on the music services; it's the services themselves, because locking you into a single ecosystem guarantees you'll keep paying their monthly subscription fees and hopefully buy into the rest of their ecosystem. ... Apple Music might be available on Android, but it probably won't be as good, because Apple wants you to buy an iPhone.... There's just lock-in, endless lock-in. Is this what we wanted?"
Sci-Fi

Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols Hospitalised In LA After Stroke 40 40

WheezyJoe writes: The Register tells us that Nichelle Nichols, who played the lovely Lt. Uhura, communications officer of the original starship Enterprise (original series and animated series), has been hospitalized after a mild stroke. She is reported to have undergone a CAT scan and MRI, and was awake and eating as of Thursday evening. Nichols has shown minor signs of loss of mobility but otherwise no signs of paralysis.
Star Wars Prequels

Stormtrooper Arrested 535 535

Kexel writes: Nope, not an April Fools joke. A forty-year-old man in Massachusetts bought a Stormtrooper outfit, and then walked through a neighborhood near a school to show his friends. The principal saw his fake blaster and called 911. The man was then arrested and charged with disturbing a school and loitering. A police spokesman said the man "used bad judgment." I guess this shows you what not to do when geeking out on Star Wars.
The Internet

Why Americans Loathe Cable Companies 229 229

HughPickens.com writes: Vikas Bajaj writes in the NYT that the results are in and the American Customer Satisfaction Index shows that customer satisfaction with cable TV, Internet and phone service providers have declined to a seven-year low. Of the 43 industries on which the survey solicits opinions, TV and Internet companies tied for last place in customer satisfaction. "Internet and TV have always been among the lowest scoring," says David VanAmburg, director of the Index. "But this year they're at the very bottom." The study, which is based on more than 14,000 consumer surveys, gives companies a rating from 0 to 100. The ACSI reports huge drops in customer satisfaction for Comcast and Time Warner Cable, following their failed merger. Already one of the lowest-scoring companies in the ACSI, Comcast sheds 10 percent to a customer satisfaction score of 54. Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable earns the distinction as least-satisfying company in the Index after falling 9 percent to 51. Joining Time Warner Cable in the basement is ACSI newcomer Mediacom Communications (51), which serves smaller markets in the Midwest and South. "Customer service in these industries has long been bad," says VanAmburg of Internet and TV providers. "They don't have a good business model for handling inquiries with efficiency and respect. It goes back a decade plus."

Even though those complaints are longstanding, customer frustration has risen along with the ever-rising prices. "You compound all that with the prices customers are paying, and that's the final straw," says VanAmburg. "They're opening bills each month and saying 'I'm paying how much?'" In an age of over-the-top viewing options like Hulu and Netflix, customer dissatisfaction may increasingly translate to companies' bottom lines. "There was a time when pay TV could get away with discontented users without being penalized by revenue losses from defecting customers," says Claes Fornell, chairman and founder of the Index. "But those days are over."
Businesses

Bell Media President Says Canadians Are 'Stealing' US Netflix Content 408 408

iONiUM writes: Today the Bell Media president claimed that Canadians are "stealing" U.S. Netflix, saying the practice is "stealing just like stealing anything else." She went on to say that it is socially unacceptable behavior, and "It has to become socially unacceptable to admit to another human being that you are VPNing into U.S. Netflix. Like throwing garbage out of your car window, you just don't do it. We have to get engaged and tell people they're stealing." Of course, I'm sure the fact that Bell Media profits from Canadian content has nothing to do with these remarks.
Television

Showtime Announces Subscription-Free Streaming Plan 84 84

An anonymous reader writes: Following in HBO's footsteps, Showtime has announced that it is launching a stand-alone streaming service in mid-July. Simply called "Showtime," the service will launch through a partnership with Apple and costs $10.99 a month. "Going over-the-top means Showtime will be much more accessible to tens of millions of potential new subscribers," said CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves in a statement about the deal. "Across CBS, we are constantly finding new ways to monetize our programming by capitalizing on opportunities presented by technology. This works best when you have outstanding premium content – like we do at Showtime – and when you have a terrific partner like Apple – which continues to innovate and build upon its loyal customer base," he added.
Music

Apple Recalls Beats Pill XL Speakers As Fire Risk 104 104

An anonymous reader writes: Apple has released a voluntary recall announcement for the Beats Pill XL range of speakers, advising customers that the rechargeable device is a fire risk, and advising them to stop using the devices immediately. Apple bought the manufacturers out in 2014 after the successful release of the XL speaker range in November 2013. The announcement reads in part: "Because customer safety is the company’s top priority, Apple is asking customers to stop using their Beats Pill XL speakers. Customers who purchased a Beats Pill XL speaker should visit www.apple.com/support/beats-pillxl-recall for details about how to return their product to Apple, and how to receive an Apple Store credit or electronic payment of $325."
Media

Cable Companies Hate Cord-Cutting, but It's Not Going Away (Video) 160 160

On May 29, Steven J. Vaughan Nichols (known far and wide as SJVN) wrote an article for ZDNet headlined, Now more than ever, the Internet belongs to cord-cutters. A few days before that, he wrote another one headlined, Mary Meeker's Internet report: User growth slowing, but disruption full speed ahead. And last December he wrote one titled, Reports show it's becoming a cord cutter's world. SJVN obviously sees a trend here. So do a lot of other people, including cable TV and local TV executives who are biting their nails and asking themselves, "Whatever shall we do?" So far, says SJVN, the answers they've come up with are not encouraging.

NOTE from Roblimo: We're trying something different with this video, namely keeping it down to about 4 minutes but running a text transcript that covers our 20+ minute conversation with SJVN. Is this is a good idea? Please let us know.
Advertising

Netflix Is Experimenting With Advertising 318 318

derekmead writes: Netflix is experimenting with pre-roll and post-roll advertisements for some of its users. For now, it's just pitching it's own original programming. However, many are concerned that they plan to serve third-party ads, but the company says they have no plans to do so. They told Mashable in a statement: "We are not planning to test or implement third-party advertising on the Netflix service. For some time, we've teased Netflix originals with short trailers after a member finishes watching a show. Some members in a limited test now are seeing teases before a show begins. We test hundreds of potential improvements to the service every year. Many never extend beyond that."
Movies

Tron 3 Is Cancelled 205 205

Dave Knott writes: Tron 3 won't be coming to a theater near you. Disney had been developing a sequel to Tron:Legacy since the movie, made for $170 million, grossed $400 million worldwide. But now they have chosen not to move forward with a third installment in the sci-fi series, sources say. "Disney has had strong success with its live-action properties recently, including Maleficent and this year's Cinderella, which earned $527.4 million worldwide. But it recently had a stumble with the $180 million live-action film Tomorrowland, which underperformed at the box office this past weekend with a $33 million U.S. debut."