Get PJ Media on your Apple

PJM Lifestyle

Is Amazon’s New Music Streaming Scheme Aiming at the Fogies?

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014 - by Stephen Green

shutterstock_118151752

Amazon bringing free music streaming to Prime customers, but there is a catch:

The company will expand its Prime membership offerings by adding a stockpile of old and newish music for subscribers to stream on demand. The Prime music service, which is scheduled to launch this June or July, will not include recent releases but instead restrict its catalog to songs and albums that are 6 months old and older, five music industry sources familiar with the company’s plans confirmed to BuzzFeed.

Fogies like myself are Amazon’s most-likely Prime customers, and also the customers least interested in the latest music — so the catch is far from a deal-breaker. But when you consider that Prime customers already pony up $99 a year (up from $79), Amazon’s new service makes it harder to justify the $500 million Apple paid for Beats Music as part of the Beats acquisition.

*****

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

image via shutterstock / Alexander Raths

Read bullet |

Censoring Google?

Monday, June 2nd, 2014 - by Stephen Green

shutterstock_143231788

Here’s the first result of that recent EU court decision on search engines:

Google is starting to accept requests from Europeans who want to erase unflattering information from the results produced by the world’s dominant search engine.

The demands can be submitted on a Web page that Google opened late Thursday in response to a landmark ruling issued two weeks ago by Europe’s highest court.

The decision gives Europeans the means to polish their online reputations by petitioning Google and other search engines to remove potentially damaging links to newspaper articles and other websites with embarrassing information about their past activities.

I’m not being facetious when I ask, “What’s a search engine for?” Embarrassing or not, we expect to get our search results, all the search results, and nothing but the search results. We don’t expect Google to deliver instead what amounts to hagiography of some politician best known for graft or having his pants around his ankles.

Government should have no authority over the web.

Zero.

None.

But that wouldn’t suit our betters now, would it?

****

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

image via shutterstock / Lightspring

Read bullet |

Haunting Melissa Wins Appy

Monday, June 2nd, 2014 - by Andrew Klavan

Oh hey, this is really nice. Haunting Melissa, the unique serial ghost story movie told through an iOS app, has won the 2014 Appy Award for best entertainment app of last year. I wrote the script to the film based on a story by me and Neal Edelstein. Neal designed the app and directed the film. It’s extremely cool stuff, very spooky. New installments pop up on your iOS device when the spirit moves them, so to speak, and you’re alerted by creepy whispers. Watch the film with a headset to get the full effect.

Here’s a trailer:

YouTube Preview Image

Got an iPhone or iPad? You can download the app here. It’s free, though there’s a cost for content as you go along. Not much though compared to a movie — and you get a lot more hours of entertainment.

*****

Cross-posted from Klavan on the Culture

Read bullet |

Reports of the Death of the Tablet Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Friday, May 30th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

Galen Gruman has a good Infoworld column on why Windows tablets aren’t selling, and why the new Surface Pro 3 is unlikely to do much better — although there’s nothing there that Longtime Sharp VodkaPundit Readers™ haven’t known since the first model was introduced two years ago. But something still stood out:

The iPad is four years old this year, and in its short life it has taken the world by storm, creating a new class of computing device that has sold well over 200 million units. Everyone is trying to copy it, with many Android tablets and a bunch of Windows tablets all trying to ride the iPad’s coattails. Never mind that the iPad itself seems to be running out of gas, and it’s unclear whether Apple can refill the tank.

A big part of last quarter’s decline in iPad sales was nothing more than adjustment, not in sales, but in the sales channel. Tim Cook had overshot the year before, making the same quarter this year look worse than it actually was. But overall, sales were down slightly after a phenomenal Christmas quarter.

What it looks like from here is that the tablet market is already a mature one, after just three years. And just like the smartphone market, you have Apple sucking up most of the profits, Android generating tons of sales to people who don’t much use the things, and Windows in a distant third place wondering what the heck just happened.

****

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

Read bullet |

Seeking Relevance, Networks Broadcast Live

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

David Bauder at the AP reports:

Networks are adjusting to the changed world of how people watch their programs: hours or weeks later on DVR, online or on-demand. But the industry’s financial structure hasn’t caught up yet, so viewers who watch when a program is first aired – once the only way to watch – are considered more valuable.

That’s why Fox is putting on a live production of “Grease” and NBC is remaking “The Music Man.” Fox is recreating an Evel Knievel motorcycle jump. ABC touts its Oscars telecast and other awards shows. NBC locked up Olympics rights through 2032, and CBS won a bidding war to show NFL football on Thursday night.

Sports usually gets little or no attention in network sales pitches to advertisers. Not this year. ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox all gave sports a starring role. Why? Very few people DVR sports events.

ABC made the point explicit with a message on a wide video screen: “Your DVR can’t handle live.”

“We’re obsessed with trying to eventize everything we can – even episodes of our scripted shows,” said Robert Greenblatt, NBC’s entertainment chief.

“It’s about the urgency to view,” said Fox’s Kevin Reilly.

When Lucy and Desi went live to tape in the 1950s, the audience revolved around the celebrity’s schedule. Now, with the power of recording in the hands of the viewers, the networks are scrambling to get their celebrities ready for something TV actors haven’t needed to do in a long time: Go live.

Reality TV changed the way networks styled television in the early 2000s. Now, social media is changing the way networks market their product. Being a part of the “cultural conversation” is paramount; unfortunately, it also means a steady diet of imitation and near-naked chicks, as Bauder’s quick quiz illustrates:

QUICK QUIZ

Which of the following lines was NOT uttered at a network presentation last week:

A) “A lot of people called `Battlestar Galactica’ one of the best shows ever.”

B) “This series is `Game of Thrones’ meets `The Borgias’ meets `The Bible.’”

C) “We have two hours of bloody, sexy drama.”

D) “Some of our new shows will disappear before you even realize they’re on the air.”

If you answered anything other than D, then you have something to learn about the atmosphere of hype and hope that accompanies this week every year.

Can the Big Three really compete with streaming services like Netflix who are willing to invest in original programming and dish it out in an a la carte fashion? Or, will the thrill and nostalgia of live television force even the most radical of new service providers to push the Internet to its streaming capacity?

Read bullet |

What Is ‘The Apple Experience’?

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

The first Apple Store opened 13 years ago yesterday in McLean, Virginia. What’s remarkable is how little Apple had to sell at first.

There was no iPad until 2010, no iPhone until 2007, and even the iPod didn’t debut until months later in October of 2001. Pretty much all Apple had at the time was the four Mac product lines — iMac, iBook, Power Mac and PowerBook. None sold in any great numbers.

Watch the video and you’ll see what Apple did have to sell — “the Apple experience,” for lack of a better phrase. Buy a Mac and you enter the world of the Mac as your digital hub, and the Apple Store was the place where they’d teach you how to put it all together. The hub is now cloud-based, but the experience customers buy into is the same — great gear which comes with well-trained “geniuses” to help you get the most out of it.

Other companies make great product — maybe not insanely great, but still — but they can’t duplicate Apple’s experience from purchase, through training, and, yes, through the inevitable problems and eventual upgrades.

Tech geeks who look at price and specs without ever actually shopping at an Apple Store, or talking to people about why they do, suffer from a very bad case of Just Not Getting It. And that’s OK, because price & specs is all that many people need when making a buying decision. But for millions more, there are now 424 stores in 16 countries — and they generate more profit per square foot than any other retail store anywhere, ever.

Not bad for a company which had no prior retail experience and had been weeks away from bankruptcy just four years before opening its first store.

******

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

Read bullet |

You Would Never Guess Which Ancient Word Processor George R.R. Martin Uses To Write Game of Thrones

Monday, May 19th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

WORDSTAR 4.0

Old school:

The next time someone makes fun of you for never updating Microsoft Word or for still typing on an old iMac, consider yourself on the cutting edge compared to George R.R. Martin.

The “Game of Thrones” author confessed to late-night talk-show host Conan O’Brien that he prefers to write his popular books on a DOS word processor instead of the latest laptop.

“I actually have two computers,” Martin told Conan. “I have a computer I browse the Internet with and I get my email on, and I do my taxes on. And then I have my writing computer, which is a DOS machine, not connected to the Internet. I use WordStar 4.0 as my word processing system.”

Respect.

The last word processor I really loved was Word 95, which IIRC was just a 32-but recompile of the previous version to run on Windows 95. It was fast, stable, not wired into the internet in any way, and it didn’t try to do anything “for” me except to format my text the way I told it to.

But WordStar? Niiiiiiiiiiiice.

*****

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

Read bullet |

A Hoverbike Built for Two

Sunday, May 18th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

AERO-X HOVERBIKE

I’ll wait for a heavier-duty version capable of hauling my camping equipment.

*****

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

Read bullet |

Paul McCartney’s New Video Aims at #GenerationHashtag

Saturday, May 17th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

You don’t normally think “cultural commentary” when you watch a Paul McCartney video. But, with his latest video release for the song Appreciate, the septuagenarian King of Rock continues to pull new tricks from up his sleeve. This time, a catchy song and dance number transcends the usual McCartney fantasyland, providing some smart commentary on human culture in an increasingly technological environment. In McCartney’s museum, the humans doing everyday things are the displays to be studied by a robot known as “Newman”. An artistic interpretation of left and right brain segments is displayed as McCartney walks this New Man (get it?)  through the exhibit, counselling him on human behavior and how to groove. By the end of the video, even the humans are getting into the act, dropping their technological fancies in favor of dancing to the beat.

The robot itself shouldn’t come as a surprise to hardcore McCartney fans. Back in October, when he graced the cover of Rolling Stone McCartney commented on visions of a robot, possibly influenced by one of his favorite stories shared with his 10 year old daughter, Beatrice, is The Iron Giant. In press for the video’s release, McCartney commented:

“I woke up one morning with an image in my head of me standing with a large robot. I thought it might be something that could be used for the cover of my album ‘NEW,’ but instead the idea turned out to be for my music video for ‘Appreciate’. Together with the people who had done the puppetry for the worldwide hit ‘War Horse,’ we developed the robot who became Newman.”

Having developed a keen interest in filmmaking when he was still one of the Beatles, McCartney has come a long way with his films from his first directorial foray, 1967′s Magical Mystery Tour. Far from the acid-induced country bus tour, Appreciate provides an up-tempo perspective on the 21st century from the guy who, not long ago, was singing about his Ever Present Past.

Yet it isn’t Microsoft that’s keeping Macca relevant among Generation Hashtag; cultural commentary aside, McCartney still knows how to rock a beat. Dubbed a “remarkable album” by POPMatters, NEW was ranked the 4th best album of 2013 by Rolling Stone. Transcending the pop fluff that perpetuated so many of his hits in the 70′s and 80′s, McCartney has entered a new era as much motivated by experimentation as reflection.

McCartney is set to tour with Newman in Japan. Perhaps a Godzilla mashup is already in the works.

Read bullet |

9 Fascinating Facts about Senior Citizens and Technology

Friday, May 16th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

62909-Seniors-Texting-Code

Recent surveys highlight the fact that seniors lag behind the younger generation in the adoption and usage of technology. Based on interviews with more than 1500 adults age 65 and over, Pew researchers found they could roughly divide senior citizens into two groups. The first group is “younger, more highly educated, or more affluent.” They are far more technologically connected and demonstrate more positive attitudes toward the benefits of the modern digital world. In fact, this group uses the internet at rates approaching — or even exceeding — the general population. The second group is “older, less affluent, often with significant challenges with health or disability.” They are less connected and more wary of the Brave New World of digital platforms. Internet use drops off dramatically after age 75.

Here are some other facts about seniors and technology use:

1. 59% of Seniors Use the Internet

In 2012, 59% of seniors were internet users, up six percentage points from the previous year. In 2014, 47% of seniors have a high-speed broadband connection at home and 77% have a cell phone (up from 69% in 2012). According to the Brookings Institute, seniors spend most of their time online communicating with friends, shopping, and searching for health information.

Senior Broadband Figure 1

Read bullet |

The #1 Worst New Sitcom for Fall

Thursday, May 15th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Or, as Anthony Ha says, “There’s An Upcoming TV Show Called Selfie And I Hate Everything About It“:

Executive: God, I hate millennials.
Showrunner: Yeah, but they’d totally watch a show called Selfie.
Executive: A show … about taking photos?
Showrunner: No no no, that’s just hook, see? It’s really a way to talk about our modern condition as a technological society.
Executive: Forget millennials, I hate you.
Showrunner: (quickly) Not as a serious drama. As a comedy.
Executive: Really? How many jokes can you tell about … whatever the hell they’re called?
Showrunner: That’s the beauty of it. You don’t need jokes, because technology is inherently funny. We’ll just throw in lots of smartphone screenshots and random buzzwords like “Insta-famous” and “oh-em-gee” and the kids will laugh and laugh. You won’t have to hire any actual writers!

One of the funniest (fictional) prospective pitch dialogues I’ve read in a while, Ha’s attack on ABC’s horrible (and horribly over-promoted) new sitcom for the fall is only one of the many signs that Selfie promises to be about as big of a hit as Viva Laughlin, the CBS non-starter based on a BBC series titled Blackpool. But hey, two episodes is better than nothing, right? And in the words of The Soup‘s Joel McHale, “Why would you cancel that? We need that.” After all, a millennial non-starter pilot that rips off one of the most popular classic movies of all time does make great material for those of us who prefer to MST our TV shows.

The real loser in this is Karen Gillan, formerly of Doctor Who, now the “Eliza Doolittle” of Selfie, who will be yet another reminder to British actors (alongside Downton‘s Dan Stevens and Call the Midwife‘s Jessica Raine) that Hollywood plays a totally different game than does the BBC. I doubt that even the Doctor could save this network bomb.

Joel Hodgson, on the other hand….(watch video on next page)

Read bullet |

How Porn Sites Hold Android Phones for Ransom

Monday, May 12th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

 shutterstock_153754553

This sounds fun:

Researchers have uncovered Android-based malware that disables infected handsets until end users pay a hefty cash payment to settle trumped-up criminal charges involving the viewing of illegal pornography.

To stoke maximum fear, Android-Trojan.Koler.A uses geolocation functions to tailor the warnings to whatever country a victim happens to reside in. The screenshot to the right invoking the FBI, for instance, is the notice that’s displayed on infected phones connecting from a US-based IP address. People in Romania and other countries will see slightly different warnings. The malware prevents users from accessing the home screen of their phones, making it impossible to use most other apps installed on the phone. The normal phone functions in some cases can be restored only when the user pays a “fine” of about $300, using untraceable payment mechanisms such as Paysafecard or uKash.

Here’s how the malware takes over:

“The ransomware’s main component is a browser view that stays on top of all other applications, Bitdefender Senior E-Threat Analyst Bogdan Botezatu wrote in an e-mail. “You can press Home and go to the homescreen, but a timer would bring it back on top in about 5 seconds. I managed to uninstall it manually by swiftly going to applications and dragging the icon on the Uninstall control, but it only works if the application icon is on the first row. Otherwise, one wouldn’t have the necessary time to drag it to the top, where the uninstall control is located.”

Users must first choose to allow out-of-market apps permission to install, and then install a porn “player” which is actually the malware. But it’s certainly easy to imagine scenarios not involving shady porn sites tricking the unwary into having to ransom their own phones.

*****
Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

image via shutterstock / Olena Zaskochenko

Read bullet |

Why Would Anyone Connect 36 External Hard Drives to a New Mac Pro?

Thursday, May 8th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

daisy-chain-challenge-100262576-large

MacWorld connected and daisy chained 36 external hard drives to a new Mac Pro. Why? Because they had 36 external hard drives and a Mac Pro — I know I’d do it if I could. More:

While a dozen or so of these drives were bus-powered, most required external power. We plugged 24 power cords into three power strips and plugged each of those strips into a Watts Up power meter. When running a script that copied data from the Mac Pro’s internal PCIe connected flash storage to each of the drives, the combine power draw peaked at a whopping 865 Watts.

The script also tracked the amount of time it took each drive to write 6GB of data. The fastest was OWC’s Mercury Helios, which was able to write at an average of 271 MBps with all other drives running.

That’s an impressive write speed even without competing for CPU time with 35 other drives. 36 others if you count the boot SSD inside the Mac.

My needs are slightly more modest. I picked up a stock six-core Pro a couple weeks ago, with two external drives. The first is a 4TB LaCie d2 Thunderbolt drive for my Time Machine backup. Its only job is to stay out of my way until I mess something up. Or until we get an evacuation order some summer due to wildfires — it’s nice to be able to grab just one drive and then scoot. The second is a 4TB LaCie 2big, also Thunderbolt, in a striped 2TB RAID 0 config.

I dunno how fast that thing is, but I honestly can’t tell a difference between the LaCie RAID and the PCIe SSD boot drive. The new setup is so fast that I’m considering merging my year-by-year Aperture photo libraries into one big-ass 250GB library.

Because like the MacWorld guys — why not?

******

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

Read bullet |

Hate Blu-Ray? Here’s A Solution To Enjoy Your Movies Your Way

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

shutterstock_53166979

As Longtime Sharp VodkaPundit Readers™ are aware, I hate Blu-Ray. Love the picture, love the sound, hate what the studios have done to the disks. “Coming Soon” previews you can’t skip, even years after the “new” movies have come and gone. Stupid menus. Ridiculous load times. Anyone with small children knows just how exasperating Blu-Ray can be. So when I still buy physical media, I rip the movies or shows to un-copy-protected M4V files and stick them in my iTunes library.

The problem with ripping is unpredictable file sizes. Some movies just don’t compress well, usually ones with lots of camera movement, or random detail like fog or mist. The first time I tried to rip Aliens, the resulting file was actually bigger than the Blu-Ray. Insane.

But then a few days ago I thought of something. The iTunes Store always has excellent digital copies, virtually indistinguishable from Blu-Ray discs despite having enviably tiny file sizes.

NOTE: I don’t expect the phrase “enviably tiny” to catch on.

How do they do it? I dunno. But I know now how I get the same results.

Find a nice online bitrate calculator like this one. Plug in the movie running length and the file size of the iTunes Store movie — which Apple handily provides. Plug the result into Handbrake under “Average Bitrate,” and then set it to Two-Pass Encoding to make sure those bits are averaged as well as they can be.

I got Aliens — previously a network- and hard drive-hogging 16 gigabyte file — down to 5.49GB. That’s actually a little smaller than the iTunes version, and the picture looks great.

You don’t have to go through all this for every movie or show you rip — but for the ones you just can’t seem to compress, this method is flawless.

*****

cross-posted from Vodkapundit

image illustration via shutterstock /  nikkytok

Read bullet |

How Can You Tell If You’re Addicted To Social Media?

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Daily Question

Read bullet |

10 Modern Technologies We Lived Without in Primitive, Pre-Millennial America

Monday, May 5th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

While the 1970s are known for some terrifying fashions and the human indignity of the Disco Era, the decade (with some assists from the previous generation) also gave us some amazing technological advancements that many of us take for granted today. Here are ten that changed the world:

1. Microwave Ovens

1970 microwave

Before the 1970s, our only option for heating up leftover pizza was the conventional oven and we didn’t have the luxury of 4-minute microwave popcorn (gross as it is). Though the “Radarange” was first sold in the United States in 1947, it wasn’t until the ovens became affordable for the average family that “microwaves” became common in American homes (even if they didn’t live up to their promises of delicious layer cakes and scrumptious roasts in 30 minutes). In addition to the high prices, many Americans were afraid of radiation associated with microwave ovens. I remember my dad refusing to purchase what he called a “radar burger” at a concession stand in the early ’70s. In 1971, only 1% of households in the U.S. owned a microwave. By 1986, roughly 25% of households in the U.S. owned a microwave oven, with the number soaring to 90% of American households by 1997.

B00CH3A86O_main

Read bullet |

The Worst Software Company on the Planet

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

Flash users, beware:

Adobe on Monday disclosed a new vulnerability in its Flash platform that may allow attackers to remotely take over and control Macs, PCs, and Linux machines and advised users to update their system as quickly as possible.

The bug affects Flash Player 13.0.0.201 and earlier on the Mac, Flash Player 13.0.0.182 and earlier on Windows, and Flash Player 11.2.202.350 and earlier on Linux. Adobe says that attacks exploiting this flaw have been discovered “in the wild,” so users are strongly urged to apply the latest updates sooner than later.

I uninstalled Flash from my desktop and laptop years ago and never looked back. My computers run faster and my browsers crash almost never — down from almost once a day, almost entirely due to Flash. Also, uninstalling Flash removed a major security weakness. There is no good reason to have it on any of your computers, especially with browser plugins available like FlashToHMLT5.

But it gets worse.

A few months ago I “subscribed” to Photoshop, because I thought I needed it again for a little something I was working on. The experience with Adobe’s cloud services was horrible, their front end was an intrusive nightmare, and it would never leave me alone to actually get anything done with it. So I eagerly paid the early cancellation penalty and then used CleanMyMac to make sure I’d removed every little last bit of Adobe from my system.

I remember when Adobe made the software that professionals couldn’t live without. Now they make the crap you can barely tolerate to live with.

****
Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

Read bullet |

iPad Sales Already Peaked?

Monday, April 28th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

iPadMini-Press-02-380-75

Question: Will PC-like upgrade cycles keep iPad sales flat? I can tell you that here at Casa Verde, the answer is an unequivocal Yes.

Four years ago, Melissa and I bought two of the first-generation iPads. I upgraded mine to the original Retina Display model in 2012, because I do a lot of photo editing on the thing. Melissa finally upgraded to the new iPad Air late last year, but only because two of her favorite apps would no longer upgrade on a 2010 model. But that’s not to say we threw the old ones away. Mine is now armored in a very strong Fisher-Price kid case and is one of my three-year-old’s favorite toys. The other is mounted on a fold-away arm under a kitchen cabinet, where it runs our favorite recipe app, Paprika. Our older son has a first-generation iPad mini from 2012 which has taken all the abuse an eight-year-old can dish out, and then some.

Of the five iPads purchased by the Greens over the last four years, all five are still being used. I don’t have any reason to upgrade, since the A5X chip in the 2012 Retina model can still handle anything I throw at it. Melissa got three years out of her iPad 1, which was a slow beast even when new. She should get five years out of her Air. Preston’s mini has essentially the same CPU as my Retina, so he should be good for as long as I am.

So after an initial burst of purchases, we’re covered for a few more years — just like the broader market.

This might be a good time to mention that PC upgrade cycles aren’t what they once were, either. Before I switched to Mac, I’d buy a new top-of-the-line-everything Windows PC about every 30 months. And in between, I’d upgrade pretty much anything upgradeable. But my first iMac lasted more than four years, and is still in service for the kids. My first Mac Pro lasted five years, upgraded just this month to a new Mac Pro I expect will stick around even longer. (Damn fool trashcan-looking thing has no moving parts; it had better last longer!)

Thirty months became four years became five years will become six years? Seven?

I dunno, but if my buying habits are any indication, then the slump in the PC and tablet markets* might be a long-lasting trend.

*Don’t talk to me about explosive growth in Android tablet sales, because those are almost entirely Crackerjack models people don’t actually use for anything, as usage statistics bear out. Even Samsung got caught lying about its Galaxy Tab sales figures.
*****

cross-posted from Vodkapundit

Read bullet |

Get Your Butt Away from My Butts

Saturday, April 26th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

BLU

Oh fer cryin’ out loud:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is proposing long-awaited regulations governing the fast-growing electronic cigarette industry.

The new rules, to be made public Thursday, are expected to regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products, placing them under the same requirements as cigarettes. That would likely include a ban on the sale to minors.

“That would be a little less stringent than if they were regulated as medicinal products used in smoking cessation,” said Dr. Hilary Tindle, assistant professor of medicine and director of the tobacco treatment service at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The FDA said the public, the electronic cigarette industry and others will have 75 days to comment on the proposed regulations.

I’ll go ahead and add my comment before the 75-day period even begins.

Back off, bub.

I don’t smoke e-cigarettes, but a close friend of mine used them to quit smoking the real thing after years and years of failed attempts. He’d tried patches, gum, cold turkey, only smoking when his wife was at work — everything.

I’ve thought about buying one, just because I still sometimes miss that feeling of well-being you get from a rush of nicotine with that first cup of coffee in the morning, or right after a big meal. And why not? Nicotine inhaled via vapor isn’t going to give anybody any cancer. The only reason I don’t do it is I’m afraid the busybodies will take them away, leaving me craving a real smoke for the first time in a long time.

That’s not a risk I’m willing to take, not after it took me years of failed attempts to quit, just like my close friend.

But that’s what busybodies do: Restrict pleasure for the sake of restricting pleasure.

*****
crossposted from Vodkapundit

Read bullet |

VIDEO: What Do Today’s Kids Think Of…The Walkman?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

this-is-how-little-kids-react-these-days-when-you-show-them-a-walkman

We’ve seen to many changes in technology over the last generation or so that some of the greatest innovations from the childhood of a Generation X-er (like me) are completely obsolete today. For example, my nieces have been aware of what “listening to records” is for a long time because I have a record player at my house. But a couple of years ago, when the oldest of the girls, now 9, saw a record outside the sleeve for the first time, she said, “Wow! That’s a big CD!”

It’s fascinating to see kids react to older technology. The Fine Bros., who have created some of the funniest videos anywhere with the React Series on YouTube, have tackled that topic with their latest video, “Kids React To Walkmans.”

Of course the kids’ reactions are priceless. One girl immediately thinks she’s looking at a phone, while another, when she can’t figure out how to use it, exclaims, “I feel so judged right now!” The kids “ooh” and “ah” at the cassettes and laugh at the headphones — “My grandpa has some of these!” To a man – er, to a child – all of them prefer today’s digital technology to the old school cassette player. Then again, who wouldn’t? Check it out for yourself:

YouTube Preview Image

Read bullet |

5 Secrets For Thriving In A World When Everything Happens NOW

Sunday, April 13th, 2014 - by Chris Yogerst

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in two parts in September and October of 2013  as “Beating Present Shock: 5 Secrets To Survive 21st Century Technology Overdose“ It is being reprinted as part of a weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. 

PresentShockcover

Do you understand how media works? If not, it might control you. Media theorist Douglas Rushkoff’s last book, Program or Be Programmed, took on this question about media and our comprehension of it. Without a working knowledge of how information systems work, Rushkoff argues, we run the risk of being easily duped. This is a common problem and one that is easily battled with a drive towards media literacy, something I teach my students about in undergraduate mass communication courses. The battle does not end here, however, because even if we have a strong grasp of media systems we are not immune to yet another pitfall.

Present Shock.

Just about everyone has come across it, even if you don’t quite know what it is. That feeling you get when you sense there is never enough time and obligations are coming at you from every direction… that’s a piece of it. The good thing is we can fight back and Rushkoff has the tools we need to take control of our lives. In his latest book, Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now, Rushkoff addresses the problem with our “always-on” digital universe. Without a doubt, technology can lead to intellectual and psychological illness, usually in terms of addiction that can ultimately become destructive to every aspect of our life.

Read bullet |

Which Style of iPhone Cover Best Fits Your Lifestyle?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

Upcoming product review - iPhone 5s case by Mujjo. Comparing to the Otter Box I already have.

When it comes to cases for one’s phones the differences available range widely in both function and style. As one who has developed the, some would say, obnoxious habit of using the cell phone to film the Siberian Husky running around the neighborhood, I prefer phone cases that offer protection.

Thus, I’m not all that impressed with the Mujjo iPhone 5s case that I received last week to review. The black leather case slips on and leaves the phone’s screen exposed. It offers limited protection for liquid or direct hits onto the screen. But I understand that perhaps those living less active lifestyles might not need as much protection and prefer the Mujjo’s beneficial feature, a space on the back to hold a few credit cards or hotel room keys:

Mujjo iPhone 5s case has a slot on back for cards - the redeeming feature from an otherwise so-so product.

This could work as a vacation case but generally I’m more inclined to lean toward protection over fashion. What do you prefer with your phone case? Is there a sturdier choice than the Otterbox?

Read bullet |

The Rise of the Robot Employee

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

104163

President Obama’s new initiative is a higher minimum wage, and if he is successful the result will not be higher-paid employees heading off to work every day. Instead their jobs will be filled by an entirely new sort of worker: Robots.

Robots, unlike humans, don’t require pay or sick time or vacations. If they break they’re thrown out and recycled. Robots are expensive, but the threat of a higher minimum wage is now making a robotic worker more cost-effective than hiring a real person.

Across Japan the noodle-making chefs are now made of metal, and when you order a Big Mac at a MacDonald’s in Europe you do it by touch screen. A company called Momentum Machines in southern California has developed a robot that cranks out 400 perfectly-prepared burgers every hour. (Note: Robots do not sneeze. Ever. Think about that for a bit.)

Where is this going? Are we heading for a future where slinky femme fatale robots plot the destruction of mankind while wearing the perfect red dress?

tumblr_meoasoftn81rw2uyvo1_500

Read bullet |

Mozilla CEO Out After Pressure from LBGT Supporters

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

brendan-eich

From the Mozilla Blog:

Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.

We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.

Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.

Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard…

…We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public. This is meant to distinguish Mozilla from most organizations and hold us to a higher standard. But this time we failed to listen, to engage, and to be guided by our community.

Apparently, the “wide diversity of views” doesn’t include support for traditional marriage. Eich, who helped found mozilla.org in 1988 and was appointed CEO last month, donated $1000 to California’s Prop 8 marriage ban in 2008. It should be noted until he evolved in 2012, President Obama also supported a ban on gay marriage, so Eich’s support for Prop 8 was not considered extreme, out-of-the mainstream, or bigoted by most Americans at the time he made his contribution.

Even Eich’s blog post vowing to embrace inclusiveness at Mozilla could not save his job:

You will see exemplary behavior from me toward everyone in our community, no matter who they are; and the same toward all those whom we hope will join, and for those who use our products. Mozilla’s inclusive health benefits policies will not regress in any way. And I will not tolerate behavior among community members that violates our Community Participation Guidelines or (for employees) our inclusive and non-discriminatory employment policies.

One commenter on a tech blog expressed the sentiments of many in the mob screaming for Eich’s head on a pike:

When a person progresses from talking about how gays are horrible and moves to working to actively take rights away or make them second class citizens in some legal sense then it ceases to become a freedom of speech issue.

A better way to express this sentiment is to say that free speech ends where the mob says it does. If you like your free speech you can keep it as long as you agree with the Dictators of Acceptable Speech. Allegiance to LGBT rights is quickly becoming a bona fide occupational qualification. It seems we are heading to a place where those with traditional views of marriage (still nearly half of Americans) will be relegated to the proverbial jobs no one else will do.

For now, we still have a First Amendment that (at least on paper) says the government shall make no law abridging free speech, though arguably, laws requiring disclosure of political contributions has that very effect. Going forward, many will be reluctant to support unpopular causes due to a fear of retribution by the de facto Ochlocracy now dictating what constitutes acceptable viewpoints.

One significant consequence of this and other high-tech lynchings is that we now know the marketplace is willing to sacrifice innovators like tech genius Eich on the altar of political correctness. Progress is now defined as agreement with an approved orthodoxy rather than the meritocracy of real, tangible innovation, invention, and technological advancement. That should concern all of us, regardless of our views on marriage or other contentious issues.

Read bullet |