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BlackBerry’s Late, Great Hope

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 - by Stephen Green

PASSPORT

Longer version…

It’s big. Really big. CrackBerry got their hands on a preview copy, and it weighs almost twice as much as an iPhone 5S. The reviewer, who seems to love it, says ” it fits in your pocket… it fits and it’s snug.” This reminds me of when Ford bragged about the “road-hugging weight” of the Pinto, because that was the best thing they could think to say about their new pony car. The camera is nice, but takes three whole seconds to take a single HDR picture. My son’s hand-me-down iPhone 4S from 2011 does it in about one second, and my 2013-vintage 5S takes them nearly-instantaneously. The keyboard is excellent, and the predictive typing might just be the best in the business, but it’s impossible — even for CB’s large-handed review — to type with one hand. His thumb couldn’t even reach the entire screen.

Did I mention it weighs just shy of seven ounces? A full-size, 10-inch iPad Air only weighs 16 ounces; an iPad Mini just 11.

There’s probably a niche left for this monster, but it certainly isn’t going to win back any Android or iPhone users.

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cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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65 Movies & Shows Come to Netflix in July. Here Are 10 You Should Watch

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

10. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

I suppose in one sense, Netflix serves the same purpose as Facebook: perpetual high school reunion and never-ending nostalgia fests, reminders of a time before adulthood and the weight of responsibilities.

Nowadays when I go back and watch some film that was fun or memorable from childhood or adolescence I tend to see it more from the parents’ perspective, relating to those characters, rather than the kids. I wonder how Honey, I Shrunk the Kids will hold up when rewatching it. Rather than experiencing it as a child wandering through the grass and inner-tubing in a cheerio, I’ll consider it as the father searching for his lost children…

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What Not to Wear

Monday, June 30th, 2014 - by Stephen Green
Not an actual smartwatch.

Not an actual smartwatch.

Who wears Android Wear? Not Steve Kovach:

I used one of the new Android Wear smartwatches, Samsung’s Gear Live, for several hours Thursday, and my wrist hasn’t stopped buzzing since I synced the device with my phone.

New email? Buzz. New text? Buzz. The thing won’t shut up. I’m one of those guys who obsessively checks his phone, but this is too much for me. Plus Android Wear ties in with Google’s digital assistant service Google Now, which attempts to help you out by notifying you about stuff it thinks you want to know about like upcoming flights or package deliveries.

So there are even more things to look at.

This isn’t the answer. Instead of solving the problem of whipping my phone out several times a day, Android Wear makes me nervous and anxious from all this hyper-connectivity. If I’m to ever go all in on a smartwatch it needs to be simpler than this.

The problem is that Gear Live is too simple — that is, nobody at Samsung put any effort into what a smartwatch should actually do, and what it shouldn’t. So instead of being a smart watch, it chirps at you with absolutely every little detail, like when my older son is showing off his latest LEGO scorpion creation.

That’s cute in an eight-year-old kid; less so in something you wear on your wrist during, say, a business meeting. Or when driving your car.

A smartwatch should be simpler, yes — but creating simplicity requires sweating out every detail and a lot of hard design choices by the manufacturer. So when Kovach says that the copycats at Samsung did neither of those things in their rush to bring a craptaculent product to market, I’m not at all surprised.

Supposedly Apple will introduce an iWatch this fall. Maybe once Samsung has somebody to crib off of, they’ll do a better job.

(H/T, Gruber.)

*****

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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The 10 Most Terrible, Overrated Shows on Netflix Streaming You Must Avoid

Saturday, June 28th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

10. Amish Mafia

I think it’s with Amish Mafia that the “reality TV” trend jumped the shark. It was at this point that premises for shows had to start becoming so outlandish and ridiculous that viewers could no longer be expected to put up with the charade that they’re watching something “real.” With Amish Mafia the show has to be upfront about the fact that the footage is all actually “reenactments.” It’s the TV version of non-alcoholic beer.

The show’s amusing novelty — hearing the Pennsylvania Dutch spoken by some Amish subtitled and saying thuggish things — wears off quick.

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This Is Not the Mac You’re Looking For

Thursday, June 26th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

iMac

Apple announced a new “budget” iMac last week, starting at $1099 for an Intel i5 machine with Apple’s gorgeous 21.5″ IPS display. But there’s a catch:

As you can read in our full benchmark report, there is now a wide performance gap between the low-end iMac and the next step up the product line. The new $1099 iMac was slower across the board, and 54 percent slower overall, than the $1299 21.5-inch system. One thing to note: We weren’t crazy about the $1299 model when it shipped. It offered just modest speed improvements over the October 2012 system and most of that was due to the $1299 iMac’s use of Iris Pro graphics—which are not included in the new $1099 system.

Back when I was buying bleeding-edge Windows machines from various vendors, the sweet spot on the price/performance curve was to buy Intel’s second-fastest CPU and match it with the second-fastest GPU from whoever was the hot name at the time. I always aimed above the sweet spot, which is how I ended up with a 200mhz Pentium Pro with a Number Nine video card (remember them?), which at the time was the absolute fastest all-SCSI beast you could buy.

Within months, Intel debuted MMX multimedia instructions on their regular Pentium chips, and GFX put Number Nine on the curb with affordable 3D graphics. Sometimes, top-end buyers get burned.

But bottom-end buyers always get burned, if they’re looking for any kind of performance. For about 17% more money, you can buy yourself more than 50% more performance. Maybe you don’t need a screaming gaming rig, but even just a little future-proofing can go a long way.

*****

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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The 7 Revolutionary Silly Symphony Cartoons That Won Oscars In the 1930s

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

From 1929 through 1939 the Walt Disney studio released 75 short cartoons in the Silly Symphony series. Starting in March I began watching and featuring them all at PJ Lifestyle to learn more about the culture, history, and technology of the period. It’s really neat to see how the series evolved from beginning to end as Disney utilized it as a kind of experimental laboratory for testing new ideas that would later make it into the feature films. Fantasia – which has become one of my absolute favorite films in recent years, I’ll often have it on in the background while writing — can be understood as the ultimate Silly Symphony. So many of the themes and techniques developed over the decade would find their greatest expression there (a subject that I’ll write about more soon.)

I’ve scheduled the last two Silly Symphony cartoons for tomorrow and Friday. Now that I’ve seen them all I’ll be organizing them into a few lists and collections to highlight the good, the bad, the ugly, and the fascinating. And starting on Monday the PJ Lifestyle Cartoon at Noon feature will take a break from Disney and turn to another company and its standard bearer: Fleischer studios and Betty Boop.

But to start, so others can start to see the fascinating pattern of advancement over the decade, here’s a collection of the 7 Silly Symphony cartoons that won Oscars, along with some remarks on each. 

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Dr. Dre: The Next Steve Jobs?

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

The Wall Street Journal’s Apple reporting is generally so bad that I rarely bother reading their stories. The widely and thoroughly discredited book, Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs, was written by WSJ’s own Yukari Iwatani Kane, which was really the pinnacle of the kind of story WSJ routinely published about the company. So it was a bit of a shock over the weekend when just about every tech blog I read linked to this story comparing Steve Jobs with brand-new Apple employee Dr. Dre.

But there’s good stuff in there, including this:

Behind the scenes, Dr. Dre—whose real name is Andre Young —has quietly played an equally powerful role developing and protecting the Beats brand, eschewing market research for gut instinct at every turn. Though his main obsession is perfecting the sound of the company’s signature high-end headphones, the 49-year-old fitness-obsessed music producer weighs in decisively on everything from TV ads and font styles to the wordiness of descriptions on the Beats Music streaming service.

As one colleague says, Dr. Dre serves as Beats’ “cultural barometer” of what is cool.

But Dr. Dre’s process is mysterious, colleagues say: His assessments are usually immediate, personal and articulated sparely. He often dismisses ideas such as posing for clichéd photos in a recording studio as too “corny” or “cheesy.” Or he’ll wave them off with a terse “I’m not feeling that.”

The Beats acquisition is starting to make more and more sense.

It might still prove to be misguided or unprofitable, but I’m finally “feeling” what Tim Cook must have been when he decided to plunk down $3 billion for the company.

But then there’s another bit slightly further down:

Dr. Dre’s perfectionist impulse, coupled with his disregard for artificial deadlines, have meant that “he doesn’t put out a lot of material,” despite being a workaholic, said Paul Rosenberg, a lawyer and manager of one of Dr. Dre’s protégés, rapper Eminem.

That could portend friction at his new employer, Apple, which agreed to buy Beats for $3 billion last month. [Emphasis added]

Putting in tons of work on very few highly profitable products? Why, Dre sounds nothing at all like Apple, whose entire product line could fit comfortably on your kitchen table.

Isn’t there one damn reporter at that paper who understands Apple?

*****

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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Apple Going After Search?

Thursday, June 5th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

Well:

While users will still look to Google when searching in their web browser, the role of search in the modern operating system is more than the browser. It can be evoked in almost any application, and global search is generally a key-press or a touch gesture away.

For Apple this means Spotlight. In the new versions of their operating systems, Google results will be removed from Spotlight and replaced with Microsoft’s Bing. Of course Apple is going to offer searches through iTunes, the App Store, Apple Maps, iBooks, and more, but the prize of web searches in Spotlight now goes to Redmond.

One of the features of OS X Yosemite due out this fall is how much Spotlight has been moved front and center — literally — and how much more power it’s been given. I’ll likely be opening up far fewer search tabs in Safari, and I suspect that’s exactly the point.

*****

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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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

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Censoring Google?

Monday, June 2nd, 2014 - by Stephen Green

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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?

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Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

image via shutterstock / Lightspring

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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

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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.

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Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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9 Fascinating Facts about Senior Citizens and Technology

Friday, May 16th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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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

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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)

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How Porn Sites Hold Android Phones for Ransom

Monday, May 12th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

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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

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

Thursday, May 8th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

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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

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

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

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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

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

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

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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.

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