It was a long time coming: Netflix users in the U.S. can now reveal their viewing habits and tastes to their Facebook friends.
Netflix announced today that its U.S. members will be able to connect to Facebook and agree to share favorite TV shows and movies on Netflix. The company will be turning on the feature “over the coming days” and expects that all U.S. members will have access to the social feature by the end of the week.
“By default, sharing will only happen on Netflix,” Cameron Johnson, director of product innovation at Netflix, wrote in a blog post. “You’ll see what titles your friends have watched in a new ‘Watched by your friends’ row and what they have rated four or five stars in a new ‘Friends’ Favorites’ row. Your friends will also be able to see what you watch.”
Worried that your friends will now know you’ve got a thing for the lesser works of Sylvester Stallone or the outre offspring of the racy Russ Meyer? Netflix wants to reassure you that that doesn’t have to happen.
AUSTIN — Some of the best transportation thinkers in Texas and across the United States are being upstaged this week by a car that drives itself.
About 1,400 people are attending the eighth annual Texas Transportation Forum through Tuesday in Austin. But while those experts meet in Hilton conference rooms and grapple with tough issues such as how to handle an increase in freight-hauling trucks on the roads, or how to pay for highways under a tightened state budget, it’s the Google “self-driving car” parked outside the downtown Austin hotel’s entrance that’s getting the most hubbub.
“It would probably do a better job driving than we do,” quipped Linda Thomas of Longview, who on Monday afternoon took turns shooting snapshots of the Google car with her husband, Charles.
The car is among a fleet of about 10 vehicles developed during the past eight years by researchers at Google and Stanford University. Google representatives said that on Tuesday they plan to take the car, a Lexus hybrid, for a spin on Austin-area roads, including infamously congested Interstate 35.
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Theodore Dalrymple: Should Doctors Lie to Their Patients About Their Survival Chances?
Glenn Reynolds talks to Professor James D. Miller of Smith College. Miller is the author of Singularity Rising. Will there come a time when technology becomes so smart that it will alter human civilization? Can you survive what Miller calls the singularity? Find out why this is not science fiction, on this InstaVision.
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In March, just after Apple announced what many people called a slight upgrade of its tablet—adding a high-definition screen and faster cellular networking—I called the iPad “unbeatable.” I argued that, in the same way that it had dominated the market for music players with the iPod, Apple was improving its product, lowering its prices, and broadening its lineup just fast enough to keep its rivals in the dust.
Then, in the fall, Apple strengthened my argument. Not only did it launch a fantastic, smaller, cheaper iPad—the Mini—to capture the low end of the market, it also put out a new, faster, regular-size iPad. In a year of intense competition in tablets, with better devices from Google, Samsung, Amazon, and Microsoft, the iPad remains by far the best on the market, especially if you take into account its dominant App Store. If Apple keeps doing what it’s doing, it’s hard to see how anyone can catch up to the iPad now.
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Google Fiber will soon be a viable cable alternative in many neighborhoods in Kansas City.
Hopefully it will also soon become an alternative in every city.
For $120 a month, Google Fiber brings you normal cable TV, a massive digital video recorder, and broadband Internet access that is 100-times as fast as your cable company’s.
For $70 a month, you can get just the Internet access.
In addition to the unprecedented connection speed, Google is hoping to attract customers by touting its television service, which allows users to access multiple content providers – such as Netflix, broadcast TV and a DVR – at once.
While many people may be reluctant to hand control over yet more aspects of their onine life to the search behemoth, most will surely be unable to resist the lure of an internet speeds so much greater than they are used to, at a comparable price to the current average.
And cable companies will presumably be terrified at the prospect of facing down such a fierce competitor – with the very real prospect that if providers do not start to offer a similar service, they could quickly be crushed by Google.
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A mysterious hacktivist group called The Protectors says it is responsible for Project ORCA’s technical failures on Election Day, even though it has offered no proof to support the claim.
Velvet Revolution and Justice Through Music, both activist organizations founded by convicted terrorist Brett Kimberlin, had offered a million dollar bounty to tech savvy people prior to Election Day to prove instances of tampering with voting machines.
Kimberlin, who has been extensively profiled by The Blaze and Time, made his foray into election-reform politics in order to prove that Republicans stole the 2004 presidential election.
The Protectors are attempting to claim that reward, stating in a letter to Velvet Revolution — dated Nov. 8, and allegedly received by Velvet Revolution on Nov. 12 — that the group sabotaged the Romney campaign’s efforts to win the presidency.
The timeline The Protectors offered in the letter to Velvet Revolution, however, contradicts accounts from both the Romney campaign and ORCA volunteers.
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In Program or Be Programmed, his compelling short guide to seizing control of your life back from the seductive embrace of technology, Douglas Rushkoff describes the oddly detached lifestyle of a young trendsetter named Gina who has an “always on” relationship to her social media. She hops from one hip party to another, but is never truly present:
Instead of turning the phone off and enjoying herself, however, she turns her phone around, activates the camera, and proceeds to take pictures of herself and her friends – instantly uploading them to her Facebook page for the world to see . . .
She relates to her friends through the network, while practically ignoring whomever she is with at the moment. She relates to the places and people she is actually with only insofar as they are suitable for transmission to others in remote locations. The most social girl in her class doesn’t really socialize in the real world at all. [Emphasis added]
In this era of easy worldwide connectedness, our youth are suffering an unprecedented degree of emotional detachment, depression and loneliness. “The more connected we become, the lonelier we are,” argues Atlantic writer Stephen Marche in “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” MIT’s Sherry Turkle, in her book Alone Together, concurs that our relentless online connection ironically leads to alienation and solitude. Marche nails it: “A connection is not the same thing as a bond.”
Andy Braner, author of the new book Alone: Finding Connection in a Lonely World, views the social media sites themselves as the biggest cause of loneliness among young people today. “We’ve created this illusion of friendship with a click and a ‘like,’ especially in this young generation of students who don’t know life without social media,” he says. These kids have grown up barely experiencing friendship without an online component, and that element actually detracts from rather than supplements their real human interaction. “It’s hard to know how to act around people now,” says Phil Gibson, a sophomore at University of San Francisco, “because the only thing kids know is how to act on Facebook.”
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Dear Apple Public Relations,
I hope this note finds you well. My name is Jeanette and I would like to take one minute of your time to tell a story about the way Mr. Jobs changed my life and why my first contact with Apple this morning was so sad.
When I was 13, my family became affiliated with a religious organization that we later came to realize was a cult. I spent ten years in two convents, first in France and then in the US. When I left the convent, I taught in a small school, spent some time in college and started a family. Eight years ago, my husband, five children and I began the long and arduous process of leaving the cult and trying to construct new lives. Imagine being a 13 year-old in a 30 year-old body with all the responsibilities of a wife and mother and so little knowledge of who I really was and how to live in the world.
I finished college at night and, after 12 years, walked across the stage and proudly accepted my diploma. Profoundly passionate about public speaking and helping people to overcome the fear of addressing large audiences, I want to start a small business teaching the ideas and techniques that helped me to rebuild my identity after the destruction of nearly three decades in a cult.
I was scared to try to present my workshops until I found Steven Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Address. It changed my life because it inspired me to get serious about launching a communications service that specifically targets fear of public speaking.
This morning I found a You Tube of Mr. Jobs telling the story of when, at the age of twelve, he called Mr. Hewlett of HP and asked for spare parts to build an electrical device. Mr. Hewlett gave Steve the parts and a job in his factory during the summer. Would Apple be here today were it not for those acts of vision, creativity and belief in the dreams of a little boy? Steve told us all to pick up the phone, dare to fail, reach out for help because, if we have the courage and the determination, good people will always offer to help.
So I did it! I called Apple to talk with Mr. Schiller, director of Marketing, about fear of speaking and employee training. This is the number one fear in America and seventy-five percent of those polled by the World Health Organization listed this as the greatest terror in their lives.
What if Apple used innovative approaches to help their own employees overcome this fear and unlock the power of identity as Mr. Jobs inspired me to do in a very real way? The phone rang and Mr. Schiller’s administrative assistant answered. It was a special moment for me. My little voice reached across a thousand miles to my beloved former home of California, to the very temple of entrepreneurial essence. I knew that the Ghost of Mr. Jobs must walk those halls, perpetuating the belief that when a company helps new talent, amazing world-changing things can happen. Okay, so I’m an incurable romantic, but that’s what created Apple in the first place, wasn’t it?
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While powerful transcanial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the frontal lobe of the brain can alleviate symptoms of depression, those receiving the treatment did not report effects on sleep or arousal commonly seen with antidepressant medications, researchers have found.
“People’s sleep gets better as their depression improves, but the treatment doesn’t itself cause sedation or insomnia.” said Dr. Peter B. Rosenquist, Vice Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Health Sciences University.
The finding resulted from a secondary analysis of a study of 301 patients at 23 sites comparing the anti-depressive effects of the Neuronetics Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy System to placebo treatment in patients resistant to antidepressant medications. These initial findings, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry in 2007, were the primary evidence in the FDA’s approval of TMS for depression.
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Prescient philosopher of the media Marshall McLuhan once famously remarked that “the future of the book is the blurb.” Had he lived long enough to witness the ubiquity of the personal computer and social media, he might have said that “the future of the book is the tweet.”
As both a longtime James Bond fan and a contributor to Acculturated’s symposium on “Language in the Digital Age,” I was amused to read about how author and comedian Charlie Higson recently reduced twelve of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels into 140-character tweets, just in time for the release of the new 007 movie Skyfall.
Here is Higson’s take on Dr. No, for example, the first Bond book to be made into a film, the one in which original Bond girl Ursula “Honey Rider” Andress made her iconic appearance in a white bikini: “Jamaica? Yes. Dead agent? Yes. Honeychile Rider like a naked Venus from the sea? Yes. Steel hands? Yes. Radioactive pool? No. Death by guano”
This is not the first time compressing novels into a single tweet has been undertaken on Twitter. Writers like Tim Collins have boiled down the classics at least as far back as 2009. Here is his summary of The Catcher in the Rye: “jdsalinger: Rich kid thinks everyone is fake except for his little sister. Has breakdown. @markchapman is now following @johnlennon”
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Izhar Gafni, 50, is an expert in designing automated mass-production lines. He is an amateur cycling enthusiast who for years toyed with an idea of making a bicycle from cardboard.
He told Reuters during a recent demonstration that after much trial and error, his latest prototype has now proven itself and mass production will begin in a few months.
“I was always fascinated by applying unconventional technologies to materials and I did this on several occasions. But this was the culmination of a few things that came together. I worked for four years to cancel out the corrugated cardboard’s weak structural points,” Gafni said.
“Making a cardboard box is easy and it can be very strong and durable, but to make a bicycle was extremely difficult and I had to find the right way to fold the cardboard in several different directions. It took a year and a half, with lots of testing and failure until I got it right,” he said.
Cardboard, made of wood pulp, was invented in the 19th century as sturdy packaging for carrying other more valuable objects, it has rarely been considered as raw material for things usually made of much stronger materials, such as metal.
Hat tip: Kurzweil AI
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Designers have come up with a jacket that actively gives you a cuddle when someone says they like you on the social network site.
The “Like-A-Hug” jacket inflates when someone clicks on the “Like” button putting a little more reality into virtual reality.
Designed by MIT student Melissa Chow, who said it “allows us to feel the warmth, encouragement, support, or love that we feel when we receive hugs”.
Hugs can also be sent back to the original sender by squeezing the vest and deflating it.
Hat tip: Jon Bishop
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The promise of home 3-D printing is that you can construct anything you want from the comfort and convenience of your own living room. For a group whose mission is to 3-D print a working pistol from scratch, however, that promise has been revoked.
Defense Distributed, a collective led by UT-Austin law student Cody Wilson, has raised $20,000 online in a bid to design and develop the world’s first entirely 3-D printed gun, which it calls the Wiki Weapon. If it succeeds, not only will it build its own prototype, it will share the design publicly, so that anyone around the world with a 3-D printer can print his own pistol. It’s sort of the opposite of “Don’t try this at home.”
In a promotional video, Wilson waxes philosophical about the project. “The Defense Distributed goal isn’t really personal armament,” he says. “It’s more the liberation of information. It’s about living in a world where you can just download the file for the thing you want to make in this life. As the printing press revolutionized literacy, 3-D printing is in its moment.”
Turns out the company that leased Defense Distributed its 3-D printer doesn’t see it that way. In a letter to Wilson dated Sept. 26, the legal counsel for Stratasys Inc. informed Wilson that it was cancelling his lease of the company’s uPrint SE printer. “It is the policy of Stratasys not to knowingly allow its printers to be used for illegal purposes,” the company wrote, noting that Wilson lacked a federal license for manufacturing firearms.
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(Reuters) – Wal-Mart Stores Inc will no longer sell Amazon.com Inc’s Kindle eReaders and tablets, severing its relationship with a major competitor and placing a bet that consumers are more interested in Apple’s iPad and other gadgets.
The world’s largest retailer, which has been trying to catch up to Amazon in online sales, said the decision was consistent with its overall merchandising strategy.
Owners of Kindle tablets such as the new Kindle Fire HD can shop on the devices for millions of items beyond digital books. This allows Amazon to compete with stores on more lines of merchandise. This spring, Target Corp stopped selling the products.
Amazon has already tested physical stores for other goods. Now, with two large chains no longer selling Kindle, speculation has grown that the dominant online retailer could open its stores where shoppers could try out and buy Kindles.
Amazon “is a little bit of a Trojan horse” when the Kindle is sold in other stores, said Sucharita Mulpuru, retail analyst at Forrester Research. “They should have made this decision to not carry the Kindle a long time ago.”
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Apple’s Web store went offline early Wednesday morning, only hours before the company is set to kick off a media presentation at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Calif. The company is widely expected to unveil the iPhone 5, a device with a larger 4-inch display and a redesigned exterior.
In New York City, Apple’s flagship Fifth Avenue store has already become a gathering place for media looking to report on the buzz surrounding today’s event. Inside the Fifth Avenue store, it’s business as usual thus far, with no signs yet of any new products potentially going on sale immediately.
Beyond the next iPhone, Apple is believed to be prepared to introduce a number of new products this fall. Perhaps the most anticipated among them, a new 7.85-inch tablet known colloquially as the “iPad mini,” is not expected to debut today. Instead, Apple is rumored to hold another media event in October to expand the iPad lineup.
Price: The iPhone 5 will start at $199 for a model with 16GB of storage and a two-year contract, the same starting price as its predecessor. The price on the iPhone 4S will drop to $99, with a contract. The new phone will be available starting Sept. 21 in the U.S.
Measurements: The new phone is thinner and longer than the iPhone 4S but weighs less. It weighs 112 grams, compared with 140 grams.
Screen: The new iPhone has a 4-inch screen, measured diagonally, compared with 3.5 inches for the 4S. That’s smaller than some of Samsung’s and Motorola MSI +0.78%’s newest Android phones. The screen has 326 pixels per inch, the same as the iPhone 4S, but because it is longer has 1136 by 640 resolution.
Imagine we were just developing spoken language for the first time. And someone came up with a new word to describe an action, thought, or feeling – like “magnify” or “dreadful.” But in this strange world, the person who came up with the word demanded anyone else who used it to pay him a dollar every time the word was uttered. That would make it pretty difficult for us to negotiate our way to a society that communicated through speech.
That’s the way the patent wars on smartphone and tablet advances are beginning to feel to me.
As a human being, I do not particularly care about Apple’s recent victory in the US version of its patent lawsuit against Samsung for copying its iPhone and iPad’s form and features. Now that Apple is demanding that Samsung pull eight of its products off the shelf, my only personal interest is whether the Samsung products, once banned, will become collectors’ items. Will I one day want to show my grandchild the phone that dared to mimic the iPhone?
But while the details of legalities and impact to share prices and even consumer choice don’t keep me or any of my friends up at night, there is nonetheless something creepy about Apple’s suit. It’s not so much that Apple – the biggest company in the world – has turned into a competitive monster; it’s the territory that Apple’s fighting over. It feels as if the technology innovation wars are no longer over one piece of technology or another, but over us humans.
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Ready for some mind blowing statistics?
A World Bank report says there are now 6 billion phones in use around the world, and an estimated 70 percent of the world’s poorest people (and who also, not coincidentally, work in agriculture) have access to them. The developing world is now using mobile phones at higher rates than those in developed nations – 96 percent of people in Indonesia and 89 percent of those in Kenya text.
To me, there is perhaps no trend more interesting and yet continuously ignored by the vast majority of western techies than this. The amount of information shared, not via Facebook, Pinterest or on ipads, but using simple SMS messaging is staggering. And the amount of opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to help those in need is enormous.
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For most of us, there’s a world of difference between the written word and the spoken word. Where the written word is formal, the spoken word is colloquial; and this as it ought to be–audience matters. Of course, the spoken word isn’t merely word. It’s also facial expression, physical gesticulation, intonation, and apparent emotion. If I want to use sarcasm, it’s indicated by my tone of voice. If I want to playfully tease a friend, my eyes give away the fact that I’m not a mean-hearted jerk. And if I need to ask a subordinate to work on a given task, I can sweetly and gently ask if she wouldn’t mind getting started on her project. Attempts at writing the very same thing out have the annoying habit of coming across as accusatorial, bossy, or otherwise catty.
That’s where emoticons come in. While I certainly do not consider myself an emoticon apologist, I concede that there’s a time and a place.
That time and place? Any time when it would be far preferable to communicate via the spoken word, but when, due to circumstances (including laziness), speaking face to face is not feasible. E-mail communication, web forums, texts, and facebook messages are all examples of less-than-stellar substitutes for speaking in person.
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How should our defense strategy evolve in a world of easily accessible mini-drones, lethal nanobots, and DIY warfare?
You walk into your shower and find a spider.
You are not an arachnologist. You do, however, know that one of the following options is possible: The spider is real and harmless. The spider is real and venomous.
Your next-door neighbor, who dislikes your noisy dog, has turned her personal surveillance spider purchased from “Drones ‘R Us” for $49.95 loose and is monitoring it on her iPhone from her seat at a sports bar downtown. The pictures of you, undressed, are now being relayed on several screens during the break of an NFL game, to the mirth of the entire neighborhood.
Your business competitor has sent his drone assassin spider, which he purchased from a bankrupt military contractor, to take you out. Upon spotting you with its sensors, and before you have any time to weigh your options, the spider shoots an infinitesimal needle into a vein in your left leg and takes a blood sample. As you beat a retreat out of the shower, your blood sample is being run on your competitor’s smartphone for a DNA match. The match is made against a DNA sample of you that is already on file at EVER.com Everything about Everybody, an international DNA database with access available for $179.99.
Once the match is confirmed a matter of seconds, the assassin spider outruns you with incredible speed into your bedroom, pausing only long enough to dart another needle, this time containing a lethal dose of a synthetically produced, undetectable poison, into your bloodstream. Your assassin, who is on a summer vacation in Provence, then withdraws his spider under the crack of your bedroom door and out of the house, and presses its self-destruct button. No trace of the spider or the poison it carried will ever be found by law enforcement authorities.Smaller, Cheaper Weapons & DIY Drones
This is the future. According to some uncertain estimates, insect-sized drones will become operational by 2030. These drones will be able to not only conduct surveillance, but to act on it with lethal effect. Over time, it is likely that miniaturized weapons platforms will evolve to be able to carry not merely the quantum of lethal material needed to execute individuals, but also weapons of mass destruction sufficient to kill thousands. Political scientist James Fearon has even speculated that at some more distant point in time, individuals will be able to carry something akin to a nuclear device in their pockets.
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One striking and humbling thing about Curiosity is that this is nothing compared to what will be required if our civilization-scale dreams of human exploration or even settlement of Mars are to come to fruition. Set aside for now all the questions of how humans would live on Mars: even the landing itself has to be figured out. It was a huge achievement to get a one-ton rover onto Mars today. To get humans and all the gear necessary to support them will require a lander that weighs 10 or 20 times as much. NASA says the sky crane won’t work for that.
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NEW YORK, Aug 2 (Reuters) – Stubbornly high U.S. unemployment, a weak housing market combined with a mature business prone to regular programming blackouts has seen more than 400,000 American homes drop their pay-TV service since the start of the year.
DirecTV Group, the No.1 U.S. satellite TV provider, revealed its first ever quarterly customer losses on Thursday, with some 52,000 homes dropping the service in the second quarter. That was more than analysts expected from a company long seen as the best run video provider in the industry.
Also on Thursday, Time Warner Cable Inc, the No.2 cable provider said it lost more subscribers than analysts expected with 169,000 customers leaving the service. While a small per centage of Time Warner Cable company’s 12.3 million total customers, this is a 10th straight quarter of customer losses.
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