First time accepted submitter Lordfly writes "The wife and I have started looking to buy a house. In the spirit of that, I've been giving away books, CDs, and DVDs to 'downsize' the pile of crap I'll have to lug around when we do find the right place. That got me thinking about digital files. I'm perfectly okay with giving up (most) books, CDs, and DVD cases. The only music I buy are MP3s anyway, and we stream most everything else if we wanted to watch a show or movie. That being said, I have a desktop, my wife has an old Macbook, we both have tablets, and I also have an Android smartphone. I'd like to set up something on an extra Windows box shoved in a closet that lets me dump every digital file we have (photos, music, ebooks, movies) and then doles it out as necessary to all of our devices. Unfortunately my best computer geek days are likely behind me (photography and cooking have consumed me since), so while I CAN schlep around a command line, I've lost most of my knowledge, so go easy on the 'just apt-get FubarPackageInstaller.gzip and rd -m Arglebargle' stuff. Something easy enough for my wife to use would be a major plus. So: What's the best way to make your own personal 'cloud'?"
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First time accepted submitter theideabulb writes "Just as stock investors have portfolios of all different sorts of stocks, Lego investors hold massive collections of Lego sets and can make annual profits that beat stocks. This article is a looking into the world of the little plastic brick that makes money for LEGO fans and a website that helps track peoples' collections to help them track their profits."
An anonymous reader writes "Congratulatory tweets and missives pour in to honor @theRealStanLee (nee Stanley Lieber), the Romanian immigrant who created or co-created most of Marvel Comics' memorable heroes. Lee celebrated his 90th birthday on Friday. Earlier this year, someone posted a collection of Lee's cameo appearances in Marvel Comics movies, often playing an older gentleman in the crowd ('Superheroes in New York? Give me a break!'), but watch for the time he plays himself, trying to get past a club bouncer ('I'm Stan Lee. I should be on that list!')."
New submitter titanium93 writes "For months, dozens of people could not use their keyless entry systems to unlock or start their cars when parked in the vicinity of the eight-story Regents bank building in Hollywood, FL. Once the cars were towed to the dealership for repair, the problem went away. The problem resolved itself when police found equipment on the bank's roof that was broadcasting a bootleg radio station. A detective and an FCC agent found the equipment hidden underneath an air conditioning chiller. The man who set up the station has not been found, but he faces felony charges and fines of at least $10,000 if he is caught. The radio station was broadcasting Caribbean music around the clock on 104.7 FM."
coop0030 writes "Wired has an article up about how Adafruit, the kit-based electronics retailer and promoter of hobbyist engineering, is aiming to teach electronics to a younger demographic. So young that they're enlisting the help of puppets. Their new online show, titled Circuit Playground, will teach the essentials of electronics and circuitry to children through kid-friendly dolls with names like Cappy the Capacitor and Hans the 555 Timer Chip. Limor 'Ladyada' Fried, Adafruit's founder and chief engineer (and 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year), will host the episodes, with her team assisting with onscreen and puppeteering duties. Episodes will premiere this March, and Fried holds hope for them to help inspire the next generation of designers and builders."
antdude writes "The National Purchase Diary (NPD) Group Blog reports that 'Internet Connected TVs Are Used To Watch TV, And That's About All — The Internet connected high definition television (HDTV) screen has so far failed to break beyond the bounds of its TV-centric heritage, with little use for the big screen beyond the obligatory video services. But the connection is being used to provide access to a far wider variety of alternative sources for video content. The latest NPD Connected Intelligence Application & Convergence report highlights that nearly six out of ten consumers who own a connected HDTV are accessing Over-the-Top video services through the device.' (Seen on DSL reports.)" Wired's headline on a story based on the same information puts things more bluntly: "No One Uses Smart TV Internet Because It Sucks."
skade88 writes "It's time to do another year-end best-of roundup! Today's topic is web comics. What was your favorite web comic of 2012? Feel free to use the following categories, or make up your own. 1) Best overall web comic series of 2012. (Any web comic that produced content in 2012). 2) Funniest web comic of 2012. (This one represents the single funniest comic of any web comic series. Provide links!) 3) Best art in a web comic of 2012. (Web comic from 2012 with the most amazing art ever). 4) Web comic that was most relevant to you in 2012. (This one is even more subjective than the others)."
jamstar7 writes "According to the BBC, 'Gerry Anderson, the creator of hit TV shows including Thunderbirds, Stingray and Joe 90, has died at the age of 83. He also created Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and his puppet superheroes fired the imaginations of millions of young viewers in the 1960s and '70s. Thunderbirds, a science-fiction fantasy about a daring rescue squad, ran from 1965 and was his most famous show.' In my opinion, his greatest creation was Space: 1999, an ITV production with practically no budget, which had great shows in the first season. Unfortunately, like so many other Gerry & Sylvia Anderson projects, it ran out of gas in the second season. They did some great stuff." Anderson's son Jamie also has a post in remembrance of his father.
dryriver sends this hopeful note from the BBC: "'It's three years since audiences around the world swarmed into cinemas to see James Cameron's Avatar. It rapidly became the biggest grossing film of all time, in part because of its ground-breaking digital 3D technology. But, in retrospect, Avatar now seems the high-point of 3D movie-making, with little since 2009 to challenge its achievement. Three years on, has the appeal of 3D gone flat? Nic Knowland has been a respected director of photography in Britain for 30 years. He's seen cinema trends and fads come and go, but never one for which he's had so little enthusiasm as 3D. 'From the cinematographer's perspective it may offer production value and scale to certain kinds of film. But for many movies it offers only distraction and some fairly uncomfortable viewing experiences for the audience. I haven't yet encountered a director of photography who's genuinely enthusiastic about it.'"
theodp writes "With all of the content that can be delivered electronically — e-books, music, apps, movies, e-gift cards, tickets — the percentage of Christmas gift giving that's digital is growing each year. However, the e-gift unwrapping user experience on Christmas morning leaves much to be desired. In addition to providing old-school mail delivery of gift cards, Amazon offers a variety of other options, including e-mailing a gift card on a specific day with or without a suggested gift, posting it on someone's Facebook Wall, or allowing you to print one for personal delivery. Another suggestion — using USB drives — harkens back to the days of burning CDs with custom playlists for last-minute gifts, but you'll be thwarted by DRM issues for lots of content. So, until Facebook introduces The Tree to save our e-gifts under until they're 'unwrapped' on Christmas morning with the other physical gifts, how do you plan on handling e-gift giving and getting?"
Hugh Pickens writes writes "If you still have some last minute Christmas shopping to do and are looking for cool gifts for the tech nuts in your life David Pogue has put together a list of twelve cheap tech gifts and gadgets that real-world people can give to real-world friends, bosses, employees and family members — nothing over $100. How about a Zapped edition of Monopoly for $25 where there is no paper money in the game. You put your iPhone or iPad in the middle of the Monopoly board — and each player gets a fake credit card. You pay or collect money from the bank electronically, just by placing your card briefly on the touch screen. Or how about a Sound Oasis Sound Therapy Pillow for $38? The speakers are in the pillow, you don't feel them, and you can drift to sleep with music playing without disturbing whoever is trying to sleep next to you. Then there's the Tagg Pet Tracker ($100, plus $8 a month after three months) that snaps onto your dog or cat's existing collar. You can use the pettracker.com Web site to find your pet on a map, using your phone or computer. Our favorite is the Cirago iAlert Tag for $50. If you walk away from your smartphone (iPhone, Android phone or BlackBerry), your key chain beeps to alert you and it works the other way, too. If you leave your keys somewhere, the phone beeps to alert you as you walk away! But the weirdest and most memorable of the suggestions are the Necomimi Brain-Powered Cat Ears for $100. It's a headband with fluffy white cat ears attached that perk up, flop down and otherwise turn, cutely and catlike, in sync with your brainwaves. There's a good deal of debate online about just how much the ears' motion is, in fact, governed by your brainwaves but one thing the Necomimis do extremely well is get attention, start conversations and make your holiday gift memorable. Now go start wrapping."
The Internet Archive curates an astounding collection (actually, a collection of collections) of online resources, from historically significant to modern but obscure. Storing, serving and organizing more than 10 petabytes isn't cheap, despite their ongoing efforts to innovate on that front. An anonymous reader writes "An anonymous donor is matching $3 for every $1 given (up to $450,000) until December 31. One petabyte has been paid for so far and the archive is looking at getting three more. 'These massive servers are the backbone of the Archive, and critical to our continued growth. To all of you who've contributed to our fundraising drive, thanks from all of us here at the Internet Archive. '"
Hugh Pickens writes "Matt Richtel and Jesse McKinley write in the NY Times that for generations of American children, Legos were the ultimate do-it-yourself plaything. Little plastic bricks, with scant instructions, just add imagination. But today's construction sets are often tied to billion-dollar franchises like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and invite users to follow detailed directions, not construct their own creations from whole brick. It's less open-ended, some parents and researchers say, and more like paint-by-numbers. 'When I was a kid, you got a big box of bricks and that was it,' says Tracy Bagatelle-Black. 'What stinks about Lego sets now is that they're not imaginative at all.' Lego loyalists are quick to defend the company. Josh Wedin, the managing editor of the Brothers Brick, a Lego blog, called complaints that they are less creative 'simply ridiculous,' adding that Legos always included some instructions, though he says he misses the alternative designs that used to be on the back of the box. But Clifford Nass, a sociology professor at Stanford University who studies how people relate to the physical world versus the virtual world, says some essential qualities were lost when Lego became more like other toys. 'The genius of Lego was, you had to do the work.' Learning about frustration, Nass says, 'is a hugely important thing.'" (And watch soon for a review of The Unofficial Lego Builder's Guide, a book intended to help Lego users escape the tyranny of block-by-number instructions.)
An anonymous reader writes "2 Player Productions, the producers of Minecraft: The Story of Mojang, on Saturday uploaded the documentary to The Pirate Bay. The news comes as a surprise move after an announcement earlier this week that the film is premiering today for free on Xbox Live to Gold subscribers. You can download it here."