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Amazon Music Unlimited Rolls Gently Down the Stream
October 13, 2016
Amazon on Wednesday rolled out its Music Unlimited cut-rate subscription streaming service, available on its Echo, Echo Dot and Amazon Tap devices for as little as $4 a month for a single device. Setting a low-entry price point "is a logical move, given that the company has invested heavily into the AI and voice recognition powering Alexa," said IHS Markit analyst Paul Erickson.
Amazon Throws the Books at Prime Subscribers
October 13, 2016
Amazon last week launched Prime Reading -- a new benefit for subscribers to its US$100-a-year Amazon Prime service that lets them access content for free. That content will come from more than 1,000 top Kindle books, Kindle Singles, magazines, comic books, children's books, and classic works from writers such as Kurt Vonnegut, Norman Mailer and Gloria Steinem.
Gadget Ogling: Google Embraces a Hardware Future
October 12, 2016
The first smartphones Google has made by itself, Pixel and Pixel XL, are the first to bear Android 7.1 and the first to have the impressive Google Assistant built in. The Pixel has a 5-inch HD screen, while the Pixel XL offers a 5.5-inch QHD display. The phones have a quad-core processor and 4 GB of RAM. I like that the fingerprint sensor is on the back.
Gadget Ogling: Streaming Merrily, Snapping Happily, and Listening My Way
October 1, 2016
Roku has refreshed its lineup of media players with lower prices, so bringing streaming video to every screen in your home just got a little more accessible. At the lower end, the Roku Express costs $30. The lineup includes $40, $50, $80 and $100 models with a variety of feature combinations. At $130, the Roku Ultra, pictured here, is the feature-loaded top-of-the-line option.
Music Industry Rebounds on Streaming Subscription Surge
September 23, 2016
The music industry is showing its best surge in revenue in nearly two decades, led by a major shift toward streaming subscription services by Apple, Spotify and others firms, according to a new mid-year report the RIAA released this week. The report shows an 8.1 percent gain in retail revenue to $3.4 billion during the first half of 2016, the strongest growth since the late 1990s.
Pandora Plus Trades Ad Views for Extra Features
September 16, 2016
Pandora on Thursday launched Pandora Plus, a replacement for its $5-a-month Pandora One streaming music service. The 4 million Pandora One subscribers will be switched over to Plus, which will continue to offer ad-free listening at the same price. However, Pandora Plus also offers an opt-in video advertising feature that lets users skip or replay songs. Plus also has an offline mode.
Echo Owners May Get Their Own Kind of Music
September 1, 2016
Amazon is planning two music subscription services, according to rumors that began circulating last week. One is a $10 a month offering that is similar to Spotify and Apple Music, and the other is a $4-$5 a month cut-rate service available only on Amazon's Echo device. Amazon reportedly wants to launch both in September, but it has yet to finalize deals with major music labels and publishers.
Intel's Kaby Lake Chip Promises Deeper Internet Immersion
August 31, 2016
Facing a shrinking market for personal computers and a stalled market for tablets, Intel on Tuesday unveiled its 7th-generation processors, code-named "Kaby Lake," which deliver more speed and power than its 6th-generation chipsets, while improving battery efficiency. Intel has positioned the new Kaby Lake chipsets as ideal for the immersive Internet.
Intel's Project Alloy Tosses Reality Into a Blender
August 17, 2016
Intel on Tuesday presented its virtual reality vision -- a vision that mixes virtual and real worlds into a kind of merged reality -- to developers attending a conference in San Francisco. Mixing reality and unreality sometimes can be a recipe for disaster, but Intel thinks it will be a formula for success. At the center of Intel's vision is its Project Alloy mobile headset and its cutting edge RealSense software.
Microsoft to Add Beam's Live-Streaming Skills to Xbox
August 16, 2016
Microsoft last week announced a deal to acquire live-streaming startup Beam. It plans to use Beam's interactive technology to enhance the Xbox Live experience. Beam, which was the winner of Techcrunch Disrupt earlier this year, has attracted a number of top investors, including Techstars, Courtside Ventures and Ore Ventures. The deal is designed to help make Xbox Live more social and fun.
No Man's Sky: The Universe So Far Feels Good
August 10, 2016
One of the most highly anticipated gaming titles ever, No Man's Sky from indie developer Hello Games, has arrived -- and it could have a major impact on the resurgent gaming world this season. The title made its PS4 debut on Tuesday in North America. It will be available for the PC on Friday. The long-awaited game takes players on a mind-bending journey of space exploration.
Time Warner Cable Really Doesn't Like Me
August 9, 2016
After surviving well over a year as a cord-cutter, I recently returned to the cable fold -- and after less than a month, I'm having major regrets. The problem isn't with the service itself or even with the pricing. The problem is with the lies. I wasn't entirely happy with my cord-cutting solution, but I wasn't eager to go back to a high-priced cable service either.
Apple Might Need to Think Different About TV
August 5, 2016
Apple's tough negotiating stance apparently has hobbled its efforts to bring entertainment industry companies on board with its planned streaming TV service. Talks with Disney, 21st Century Fox and CBS reportedly have fallen through. Had the entertainment and cable TV industry given in, Apple's demands would have turned current practices topsy-turvy.
Time Warner Bets Heavily on Hulu
August 4, 2016
Time Warner on Wednesday announced it has entered an agreement to buy a 10 percent stake in online-streaming service Hulu, in a bid to leverage its lineup of television and film content on multiple viewing platforms. With the new investment, Time Warner will join a joint venture that includes some of the nation's largest media companies, including The Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox and Comcast.
KickassTorrents Owner Faces 20-Plus Years in Stir
July 26, 2016
Polish authorities last week arrested the alleged owner of pirate website KickassTorrents, or KAT, 30-year-old Artem Vauln of Kharkiv, Ukraine. Vaulin faces charges in the United States of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, criminal copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Conspiracy to commit money laundering is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Netflix Shares Fall as Subscriber Growth Hits a Wall
July 20, 2016
Shares of Netflix fell sharply Tuesday after it reported lower-than-expected second quarter earnings, which the company blamed on subscriber growth that fell short of forecasts. Netflix added 1.7 million subscribers in the quarter, pushing its total membership to more than 83 million, the company told shareholders. However, that growth was far less than the 2.5 million it had projected.
Hackers Claim Credit for Pokemon Go No-Go
July 19, 2016
Pokemon Go, the augmented reality overnight sensation, experienced sluggish performance over the weekend, possibly from a hacker attack on its login servers. Shortly after Pokemon Go devs tweeted that the game was rolling out to 26 additional countries, this tweet appeared: "Trainers! We have been working to fix the server issues. ... We'll post an update soon."
Nintendo's NES Classic Targets Gaming Geezers
July 15, 2016
Nintendo on Thursday unveiled its latest gaming console: the NES Classic Edition, a mini replica of the original home console that can connect directly to a TV via an HDMI cable. The system features 30 built-in games from the 8-bit era, including fan favorites such as Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Donkey Kong, PAC-MAN and Kirby's Adventure.
BitTorrent Dips Toes Into Ad Stream
June 24, 2016
BitTorrent on Thursday announced a revamp of its Bundle offering as a pilot project, giving it a new name, "BitTorrent Now." Heavily used by independent musicians and filmmakers, as well as the BBC and other organizations, the service now accepts ads. BitTorrent Now's first streaming app is available for Android. Apps for iOS and Apple TV are in the works.
Twitter Applies '140' Rule to Video Seconds
June 22, 2016
Twitter on Tuesday launched enhanced video services that will allow users to post longer videos -- up to 140 seconds. It also announced a new platform for celebrities and public figures to share their stories. Because sports, news, music and other videos increasingly are the type of content that goes viral on Twitter, the company decided to expand content parameters.
Sony Unveils Slew of New PlayStation Titles
June 15, 2016
Sony on Monday announced its new game lineup for the year at the Electronic Entertainment Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center. "We have just concluded the PlayStation E3 Press Conference for 2016 and if ever there was a year dedicated to thrilling entertainment experiences, this is it," noted Shawn Layden, president of Sony Interactive Entertainment.
No Man's Sky: Life After Launch
June 2, 2016
Persistence. It's what permeates the fabric of upcoming sci-fi odyssey No Man's Sky, and it's what will see the game well past its launch this summer. While eager to set out into a digital space that's populated with 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 unique planets, most gamers have expressed patience as developers march toward the release.
Coalition Wants FCC to Look Into Data Cap Exemptions
May 27, 2016
A coalition of technology companies and advocacy groups earlier this week wrote to the Federal Communications Commission, urging it to open a public investigation into zero-rating practices, in which mobile providers allow some video or music providers to be excluded from data caps. The group called on the FCC to examine the zero-rating practices to determine whether they harm competition.
Tiny HopperGo Neatly Stashes Loads of Mobile Entertainment
May 26, 2016
Dish Network continues to change the way we view recorded TV. It made location-shifting as easy as time-shifting via its Sling technology, and its Hopper let users transfer recordings to a mobile device. Now it has introduced another option for taking recorded content anywhere: the HopperGO, a compact DVR hard disk drive that lets users transfer content from a set-top box to the portable unit.
Twitter Loosens Tweet's Leash
May 25, 2016
Twitter on Tuesday announced a number of changes to tweets, including what will be included in a message's 140-character count. The changes will be rolled out in the coming months. When replying to a tweet, tagged @names at the beginning of the reply no longer will be included in the character count. Photos, GIFs, videos, polls and quote tweets won't be counted against the character limit.
OnePlus Offers Free Headsets to Lure Crowd to VR Smartphone Launch
May 25, 2016
The 30,000 virtual reality headsets OnePlus announced it would give away as part the unveiling of its OnePlus 3 smartphone were snapped up Monday, the day they became available. OnePlus has set up a VR space called "The Loop" in which it will unveil the OnePlus 3. The Loop can be accessed only by users of the OnePlus Loop VR headsets, made by AntVR.
Oculus Riles Users Over Piracy Block That Fails Anyway
May 25, 2016
It took a hacker just a day to come up with a workaround for the platform update Oculus released last week, which blocked users from running the company's games on rival virtual reality systems. Version 1.4 of the Oculus App blocked a hack from LibreVR called "Revive" that allowed users to play Oculus games on rival systems, including the HTC Vive and Valve.
Yahoo Bids Could Seriously Underwhelm
May 24, 2016
Bids for Yahoo's core assets were expected to come in at between $2 billion and $3 billion, far below prior estimates that it could fetch $4 billion to $8 billion at auction, according to a news report published last week. Verizon, which remains the leading candidate for Yahoo's assets, and other contenders met with CEO Marissa Mayer at the company's Sunnyvale, California, headquarters
Google Plots Home Invasion
May 19, 2016
Google CEO Sundar Pichai kicked off the company's annual I/O developers conference on Wednesday with a keynote address that included previews of a batch of new products. Among those showcased were Google Assistant, a tool that can understand and respond to complex questions in real time; and Home, Google's highly anticipated response to Amazon's Echo speaker.
BitTorrent Live Aims to Iron Out Live-Streaming Kinks
May 19, 2016
BitTorrent on Tuesday announced at the Internet & Television Expo an application called "BitTorrent Live" that applies its distributed file-sharing technology to video streaming. BitTorrent is able to speed up file downloads by storing pieces of a file on computers throughout the Net and reassembling them when a request is made for the file. BitTorrent Live does the same for streaming live video.
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What's your alarm level over cyberattacks on the Internet's infrastructure?
Red: A deadly cyberwar will occur -- It's when, not if.
Orange: A big one could be costly and threaten public safety.
Yellow: We need to improve cybersecurity at a faster pace.
Blue: Regional outages will become more frequent and more annoying.
Green: There's no way anyone could take out the entire Internet.