netbuzz writes "It's been a year since the FCC implemented the CALM Act, a law that prohibits broadcasters from blasting TV commercials at volumes louder than the programming. Whether the ban has worked or not depends on who you ask. The FCC notes that formal complaints about overly loud commercials are on the decline in recent months, but those complaints have totaled more than 20,000 over the past year."
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doom writes "Charles Stross has announced that there won't be a third book in the Halting State trilogy because reality (in a manner of speaking) has caught up to him too fast The last straw was apparently the news that the NSA planted spies in networked games like WoW. Stross comments: 'At this point, I'm clutching my head. Halting State wasn't intended to be predictive when I started writing it in 2006. Trouble is, about the only parts that haven't happened yet are Scottish Independence and the use of actual quantum computers for cracking public key encryption (and there's a big fat question mark over the latter-- what else are the NSA up to?).'"
DeviceGuru writes "AirTame has developed an AirPlay-like protocol and HDMI dongle for 1080p video streaming and screen mirroring from PCs to PCs and TVs, and has substantially exceeded its $160,000 Indiegogo funding goal. AirTame streams from Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs to other PCs via apps at both ends, and to TVs via the HDMI dongle, and also offers a multicast mode for broadcasting to multiple PCs and TVs for use in classrooms or conferences. But at least initially, there won't be support for Android or iOS devices in the mix, due OS restrictions. The company says it plans to release AirTame's software, API, and protocol source code under a dual-license enabling free use with GPL-like restrictions, and paid use for commercial applications requiring proprietary modifications."
Bennettt Haselton has a gift idea for this year that needn't necessarily cost you any money (if you have a color printer available), though as he points out there are ways to invest in a higher-quality result. The gift? A unique picture created with a few pieces of free software and a bit of your time. Bennett writes: "You can use these little-known free programs to create a photomosaic of a friend's wedding photo or other favorite photograph, for a uniquely personal gift that doesn't cost much but can still delight. Follow these steps to use the programs most effectively and get the best results." Read on for the rest.
sciencehabit writes "One does not simply model the climate of Mordor; unless, of course, you are the University of Bristol's Dan Lunt, who has created a climate simulation of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Using supercomputers and a model originally developed by the U.K. Met Office, his study compares Middle-earth's climate with those of our (modern) and the dinosaur's (Late Cretaceous) worlds. The Middle-earth model reveals that the Shire — home to the Hobbits — would enjoy weather much like England's East Midlands, with an average temperature of 7C and about 61 cm of rainfall each year. An epic journey to Mount Doom, however, would see a shift in climate, with the subtropical Mordor region being more like Los Angeles or western Texas." The full academic paper is available in English, Elvish, and Dwarfish.
First time accepted submitter cs80 writes "I've been looking high and low for a decent, open-source, cross-platform audio player that can import an existing iTunes library and sort my files based on their ID3 tags. Nightingale, with its iTunes-like interface, would have been the obvious answer, but its file organization feature was pulled for being too buggy. What open-source audio player did you migrate to after dumping iTunes?"
Jah-Wren Ryel writes "What do you get when you train a Markov chain on the King James Bible and a copy of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs? King James Programming — a tumblr of auto-generated pseudo-scripture (or pseudo-compsci lessons). Some examples: -- 'The LORD is the beginning (or prefix) of the code for the body of the procedure.' -- 'More precisely, if P and Q are polynomials, let O1 be the order of blessed.' -- ''In APL all data are represented as arrays, and there shall they see the Son of man, in whose sight I brought them out.'"
walterbyrd writes "Streaming services are ailing. Pandora, the giant of its class and the survivor at 13 years old, is waging an ugly war to pay artists and labels less in order to stay afloat. Spotify, in spite of 6 million paid users and 18 million subscribers who humor some ads in their stream, has yet to turn a profit. Rhapsody axed 15% of its workforce right as Apple's iTunes Radio hit the scene. On-demand competitor Rdio just opted for layoffs too, in order to move into a 'scalable business model.' Did no one wonder about that business-model bit in the beginning? Meanwhile, Turntable.fm, a comparatively tiny competitor with what should have been viral DNA, just pulled the plug on its virtual jam sessions this week—and it just might be the canary in the coal mine."
Daniel_Stuckey writes "German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that the country's interior ministers will meet this week to discuss use of an app developed by local police in Saxony that has attracted the unofficial name of 'Nazi Shazam.' Just like Shazam works out what song you're hearing from just a few bars, the system picks up audio fingerprints of neo-Nazi rock so police can intervene when it's being played. The whole situation sounds pretty insane to an outsider, but apparently far-right music is a big problem in Germany, where it's considered a 'gateway drug' into the neo-Nazi scene. The Guardian reported that in 2004, far-right groups even tried to recruit young members by handing out CD compilations in schools. That sort of action is illegal in Germany, where neo-Nazi groups are outlawed and the Federal Review Board for Media Harmful to Minors is tasked with examining and indexing media — including films, games, music, and websites — that may be harmful to young people."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Spotify wants to change the perception that it's killing artists' ability to make a living off music. In a new posting on its Website, the streaming-music hub suggests that songs' rights-holders earn between $0.006 and $0.0084 per stream, on average, and that a niche indie album on the service could earn an artist roughly $3,300 per month (a global hit album, on the other hand, would rack up $425,000 per month). 'We have succeeded in growing revenues for artists and labels in every country where we operate, and have now paid out over $1 billion USD in royalties to-date ($500 million of which we paid in 2013 alone),' the company wrote. 'We have proudly achieved these payouts despite having relatively few users compared to radio, iTunes or Pandora, and as we continue to grow we expect that we will generate many billions more in royalties.' But does that really counter all those artists (including Grizzly Bear and Damon Krukowski of Galaxie 500) who are on the record as saying that Spotify streaming only earns them a handful of dollars for tens of thousands of streaming plays? Let's say an artist earns $0.0084 per stream; it would still take 400,000 'plays' per month in order to reach that indie-album threshold of approximately $3,300. (At $0.006 per stream, it would take 550,000 streams to reach that baseline.) If Spotify's 'specific payment figures' with regard to albums are correct, that means its subscribers are listening to a lot of music on repeat. And granted, those calculations are rough, but even if they're relatively ballpark, they end up supporting artists' grousing that streaming music doesn't pay them nearly enough. But squeezed between labels and publishers that demand lots of money for licensing rights, and in-house expenses such as salaries and infrastructure, companies such as Spotify may have little choice but to keep the current payment model for the time being."
jones_supa writes "The switch to digital TV broadcasts in Australia has entered its final few days, with Sydney's analog signals being fully switched off today, 3 December. That just leaves Melbourne plus remote central and eastern Australia — and those areas will be switched over on 10 December, completing the country's transition to digital TV. The government runs an information site to assist the remaining crusty luddites with the switch-over."
hessian writes "Despite being extensively pirated worldwide, Iron Maiden have managed to put themselves in the £10-20m for 2012. This means that despite the growing popularity of the band on social media, and the extensive and pervasive torrent downloading of the band's music, books and movies, the band is turning a profit. This is in defiance of the past business model, and the idea that piracy is killing music. In fact, piracy seems to be saving music in Iron Maiden's case. One reason for this may be metal itself. It has a fiercely loyal fanbase and a clear brand and identity. The audience identifies with the genre, which stands in contrast to genericized genres. It doggedly maintains its own identity and shuns outsiders. As a result, fans tend to identify more with their music, and place a higher value on purchasing it."
Freshly Exhumed writes "Looking a lot like the venerable Wolfenstein 3D or similar Id action games of the DOS days, the new online game Waiting in Line 3D was released Monday by developer Rajeev Basu, and was played 50,000 times in its first 24 hours of activity... er... inactivity. Is the complete lack of any action a brilliant satire of computer gaming? Is it software-based performance art? Is it silly? Judge for yourself, if you can meet the challenge!" Now's a good time to confess if you spent a major portion of your post-Thanksgiving dinner recovery time camped out in line for some of those Black Friday come-ons.
An anonymous reader writes "On Cyber Monday, millions of Americans will take to the Internet in search of the newest gadgets to bestow upon their loved ones. Most of these 'gifts' are trojan horses that will spy on their recipients, prevent them from doing what they want with their device, or maybe even block access to their favorite books or music. The Free Software Foundation is proud to introduce a map through this minefield: our 2013 Giving Guide. The Giving Guide features gifts that will not only make your recipients jump for joy; these gifts will also protect their freedom."
Lucas123 writes "While it's tempting to upgrade your flatscreen to the latest technology, industry analysts say UHD TVs are still no bargain, with top brand names selling 65-in models for $5,000 or more. And, even though 4K TVs offer four times the resolution of today's 1080p HDTVs, there are no standards today for how many frames per second should be used in broadcasting media. Additionally, while there's plenty of content being produced for UHDs, little has been made available."