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Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same

timothy posted 8 hours ago | from the rising-overhead dept.

Movies 273

Nom du Keyboard writes: After seeing a drop in my DVD service from Netflix I got a customer service representative tonight to confirm that Netflix has ceased processing DVD returns on Saturdays nationwide. And that they did this without notifying their customers, or reducing prices to compensate for the reduced service. Given that the DVD selection still far outstrips their streaming selection, this may be news to others like myself who don't find streaming an adequate replacement for plastic discs. My experience up until recently, unlike Netflix's promise of a 1-3 day turnaround at their end which gives them lots of wiggle room to degrade service even further, had been of mailing in a DVD on day one, having them receive it and mail out my next selection on day two, and receiving it on day three. Now with them only working 5 days and many U.S. Post Office holidays, they're still getting the same money for significantly less. The Netflix shipping FAQ confirms the change, and a spokesperson said, "Saturdays have been low volume ship days for us."

Rupert Murdoch's Quest To Buy Time Warner: Not Done Yet

Unknown Lamer posted yesterday | from the please-give-up dept.

The Media 60

Presto Vivace (882157) writes It seems that Murdoch's desire to acquire Time Warner predates his acquisition of Fox, and continues in spite of Time Warner's recent refusal. The possible deal is important in and of itself, but it also affects the future leadership of Fox. From the article: "Murdoch's skill is not just hiring the right people; he has been able to maintain control over them. They have his support as long as they produce results. His executives are the hired help. There is never any threat to his control. When a Murdoch favourite begins to get more headlines than the chairman, the clock begins ticking for their departure. But with the Time Warner bid, that balance may change. Chase Carey has put together a deal that, because of Murdoch's history, is almost irresistible to him. But it's a deal only Carey can put together. If he succeeds, the $US160 billion company that will emerge will be an ungainly beast that will depend on Carey making the merger work. He's indispensable." Clearly we have not heard the last of this.

Marvel's New Thor Will Be a Woman

Soulskill posted about a week ago | from the time-to-test-hemsworth's-acting-chops dept.

Entertainment 588

An anonymous reader writes: Marvel Comics has announced that Thor, the thunder god whose story has been told in comic books, movies, and TV shows since the 1960s, will fall from grace, and no longer be able to wield his hammer Mjolnir. A brand new female character will take up the name Thor and continue the series. Jason Aaron, the series writer, said, "This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it's unlike any Thor we've ever seen before." Marvel's Wil Moss added, "The new Thor continues Marvel's proud tradition of strong female characters like Captain Marvel, Storm, Black Widow and more. And this new Thor isn't a temporary female substitute — she's now the one and only Thor, and she is worthy!"

Court Rejects Fox's Attempt to Use Aereo Ruling Against Dish's Hopper

Unknown Lamer posted about a week ago | from the spacetime-shifting-is-not-a-crime dept.

Television 67

Fox and Dish have been locking horns over Dish over its streaming and PVR services for a while now, and immediately after the Aereo ruling Fox sought an injunction against Dish's services. The court rejected the request. From the article: Fox pointed out the Supremes had reflected Aereo's argument (which it said was Dish's as well) that a performance was not public under the Copyright Act if each sub watches a unique stream. Fox's lawyer, Richard Stone, argued that Aereo was also essentially about attaching a Slingbox to a DVR. But that got some pushback. One judge countered that it was "completely different technology" and said that while that was the argument, "the Supreme court has all sorts of caveats in the opinion about how this was about Aereo and nothing else and a lot of the 'nothing elses' seem to be pretty similar to Slingbox." The underlying case will continue moving forward (going to trial in early 2015).

Three-Year Deal Nets Hulu Exclusive Rights To South Park

samzenpus posted about a week ago | from the you've-sold-Kenny! dept.

Entertainment 138

First time accepted submitter gunner_von_diamond writes with news about a deal between the creators of South Park and Hulu. If you're a fan of South Park, you better be a fan of Hulu as well. Specifically, Hulu Plus. The creators of the funny, foul-mouthed animated TV show have signed a deal with the online streaming service. Valued at more than $80 million, the three-year deal grants Hulu exclusive rights to stream the 240+ episode back catalog of South Park in addition to all new episodes (as soon as they've aired on Comedy Central). "This is a natural partnership for us. We are excited that the entire library will be available on Hulu and that the best technology around will power South Park Digital Studios," said creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, in a statement.

Economist: File Sharing's Impact On Movies Is Modest At Most

samzenpus posted about a week ago | from the boosting-sales dept.

Movies 214

First time accepted submitter SillyBoy123 writes What is the impact of file sharing releases on the movie industry? Ask the studios and they will say billions. An economist named Koleman Strumph is presenting a paper at the National Bureau of Economics this week that tries to estimate the crowd out from these releases. His conclusion: "I find that file sharing has only a modest impact on box office revenue." In fact, Strumph finds that file sharing before the official release of a movie can actually be beneficial to revenues: "One consistent result is that file sharing arrivals shortly before the theatrical opening have a modest positive effect on box office revenue. One explanation is that such releases create greater awareness of the film. This is also the period of heaviest advertising. In conjunction with the main estimates, this suggests that free and potentially degraded goods such as the lower quality movies available on file sharing networks can have some beneficial effects on intellectual property."

"Internet's Own Boy" Briefly Knocked Off YouTube With Bogus DMCA Claim

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the until-proven-innocent dept.

Movies 157

An anonymous reader writes "In a bitter irony, a documentary celebrating Aaron Swartz, the late Internet activist who helped create the Creative Commons, has been taken down from YouTube by a misguided copyright claim." From the article: [O]ne of the dark sides of how copyright is enforced on the Internet is that sites that don't actually infringe are sometimes mistakenly swept up in rightsholders' takedown notices, which are frequently automated. Visitors who tried to watch The Internet's Own Boy on YouTube Friday were greeted by the message, "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Remove Your Media LLC," a reference to a company that specializes in sending copyright takedowns in accordance with the law that governs them, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). It's not clear who made the claim, but that's not the point—as activists are all too aware, false copyright claims can can knock legitimate content offline.

Aereo Embraces Ruling, Tries To Re-Classify Itself As Cable Company

samzenpus posted about two weeks ago | from the bend-like-the-broadcast-reed dept.

Television 147

An anonymous reader writes Rather than completely shuttering its TV-over-the-internet business, Aereo has decided to embrace the Supreme Court's recent decision against it. In a letter to the lower court overseeing the litigation between the company and network broadcasters, Aereo asks to be considered a cable company and to be allowed to pay royalties as such. Cable companies pay royalties to obtain a copyright statutory license under the Copyright Act to retransmit over-the-air programming, and the royalties are set by the government, not the broadcasters. The broadcasters are not happy with this move, of course, claiming that Aereo should not be allowed to flip-flop on how it defines itself.

Senator Al Franken Accuses AT&T of "Skirting" Net Neutrality Rules

samzenpus posted about two weeks ago | from the no-sir-I-don't-like-it dept.

AT&T 81

McGruber writes In a letter to the U.S. Federal Communication Commission and the Department of Justice, Senator Al Franken warned that letting AT&T acquire Direct TV could turn AT&T into a gatekeeper to the mobile Internet. Franken also complained that AT&T took inappropriate steps to block Internet applications like Google Voice and Skype: "AT&T has a history of skirting the spirit, and perhaps the letter' of the government's rules on net neutrality, Franken wrote."

Ode To Sound Blaster: Are Discrete Audio Cards Still Worth the Investment?

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the won't-fit-in-my-phone dept.

Music 499

MojoKid (1002251) writes "Back in the day (which is a scientific measurement for anyone who used to walk to school during snowstorms, uphill, both ways), integrated audio solutions had trouble earning respect. Many enthusiasts considered a sound card an essential piece to the PC building puzzle. It's been 25 years since the first Sound Blaster card was introduced, a pretty remarkable feat considering the diminished reliance on discrete audio in PCs, in general. These days, the Sound Blaster ZxR is Creative's flagship audio solution for PC power users. It boasts a signal-to-noise (SNR) of 124dB that Creative claims is 89.1 times better than your motherboard's integrated audio solution. It also features a built-in headphone amplifier, beamforming microphone, a multi-core Sound Core3D audio processor, and various proprietary audio technologies. While gaming there is no significant performance impact or benefit when going from onboard audio to the Sound Blaster ZxR. However, the Sound Blaster ZxR produced higher-quality in-game sound effects and it also produces noticeably superior audio in music and movies, provided your speakers can keep up."

Homestar Runner To Return Soon

samzenpus posted about two weeks ago | from the back-soon dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 57

An anonymous reader writes with good news for everyone who loves Strong Bad.Back in April, Homestar Runner got its first content update in over four years. It was the tiniest of updates and the site went quiet again shortly thereafter, but the Internet's collective 90s kid heart still jumped for joy...The site's co-creator, Matt Chapman, popped into an episode of The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show to chat about the history of Homestar — but in the last 15 minutes or so, they get to talking about its future. The too-long-didn't-listen version: both of the brothers behind the show really really want to bring it back. The traffic they saw from their itty-bitty April update suggests people want it — but they know that may very well be a fluke. So they're taking it slow.

Netflix Is Looking To Pay Someone To Watch Netflix All Day

samzenpus posted about two weeks ago | from the how-do-you-hire-that-which-has-no-life dept.

Movies 86

An anonymous reader writes with news about a dream job for binge-watching couch potatoes in the UK. Ploughing through your new favourite series on Netflix is something you probably enjoy doing after a working day, but what if it was your working day? You see, Netflix has a fancy recommendation engine that suggests movies and shows you might like based on your prior viewing habits. To do that successfully, it needs information from a special group of humans that goes beyond the basics like genre and user rating. "Taggers," as they're known, analyse Netflix content and feed the recommendation engine with more specific descriptors if, for example, a film is set in space or a cult classic. In short, these people get paid to watch TV all day, and Netflix is currently hiring a new tagger in the UK.

Google Acquires Curated Music Service Songza

Unknown Lamer posted about three weeks ago | from the all-manowar-all-the-time dept.

Music 45

mpicpp (3454017) writes with news that Google is expanding its online music services through acquisition. From the article: Songza focuses on playlists curated by music experts that are designed for specific activities or occasions and then suggested to specific listeners based on seven points of context: day of week, time of day, the device used being used, weather, location, what the particular listener has done before with the service considering those previous five points, and then what all other Songza listeners have done before given the first five context points.

The Internet's Own Boy

timothy posted about three weeks ago | from the add-your-review-below dept.

Movies 194

theodp (442580) writes "The Internet's Own Boy, the documentary about the life and death of Aaron Swartz, was appropriately released on the net as well as in theaters this weekend, and is getting good reviews from critics and audiences. Which is kind of remarkable, since the Achilles' heel of this documentary, as critic Matt Pais notes in his review, is that "everyone on the other side of this story, from the government officials who advocated for Swartz's prosecution to Swartz's former Reddit colleagues to folks at MIT, declined participation in the film." Still, writer/director Brian Knappenberger manages to deliver a compelling story, combining interesting footage with interviews from Swartz's parents, brothers, girlfriends, and others from his Internet projects/activism who go through the stages of joy, grief, anger, and hope that one sees from loved ones at a wake. "This remains an important David vs. Goliath story," concludes Pais, "of a remarkable brain years ahead of his age with the courage and will to fight Congress-and a system built to impede, rather than encourage, progress and common sense. The Internet's Own Boy will upset you. As it should." And Quinn Norton, who inadvertently gave the film its title ("He was the Internet's own boy," Quinn said after Swartz's death, "and the old world killed him."), offers some words of advice for documentary viewers: "Your ass will be in a seat watching a movie. When it is done, get up, and do something.""

Fox Moves To Use Aereo Ruling Against Dish Streaming Service

timothy posted about three weeks ago | from the crossing-the-streams dept.

Television 210

An anonymous reader writes A day after a surprise U.S. Supreme Court decision to outlaw streaming TV service Aereo, U.S. broadcaster Fox has moved to use the ruling to clamp down on another internet TV service. Fox has cited Wednesday's ruling – which found Aereo to be operating illegally – to bolster its claim against a service offered by Dish, America's third largest pay TV service, which streams live TV programming over the internet to its subscribers and allows them to copy programmes onto tablet computers for viewing outside the home.

How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level

timothy posted about three weeks ago | from the if-only-earbuds-would-stick-in-my-ears dept.

Music 196

redletterdave (2493036) writes "Apple is one of the biggest headphone makers in the world thanks to those signature white earbuds that have shipped with every iPod, iPhone, and iPad since 2001. But even two years after earbuds became 'EarPods,' the design could still be improved — and competitors are taking notice. Amazon recently unveiled a new pair of in-ear headphones that are magnetic, tangle-free and $5 cheaper than Apple's $30 EarPods, while smaller startups are promoting their own wireless and customizable 3D-printed earbuds. But Apple has an ace up its sleeve, in the form of patents for a set of headphones with 'one or more integrated physiological sensors' designed to help users keep track of their body stats."

Secret of the Banjo's Unique Sound Discovered By Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist

timothy posted about three weeks ago | from the ok-now-tell-us-why-people-like-it dept.

Music 101

KentuckyFC (1144503) writes The banjo is a stringed instrument that produces a distinctive metallic sound often associated with country, folk and bluegrass music. It is essentially a drum with a long neck. Strings are fixed at the end of the neck, stretched across the drum and fixed on the other side. They are supported by a bridge that sits on the drum membrane. While the instrument is straightforward in design and the metallic timbre easy to reproduce, acoustics experts have long puzzled over exactly how the instrument produces its characteristic tones. Now David Politzer, who won the Nobel prize for physics in 2004, has worked out the answer. He says the noise is the result of two different kinds of vibrations. First there is the vibration of the string, producing a certain note. However, the drum also vibrates and this pushes the bridge back and forth causing the string to stretch and relax. This modulates the frequency of the note. When frequency of this modulation is below about 20 hertz, it creates a warbling effect. Guitar players can do the same thing by pushing a string back and forth after it is plucked. But when the modulating frequency is higher, the ear experiences it as a kind of metallic crash. And it is this that gives the banjo its characteristic twang. If you're in any doubt, try replacing the drum membrane with a piece of wood and the twang goes away. That's because the wood is stiffer and so does not vibrate to the same extent. Interesting what Nobel prize-winning physicists do in their spare time.

Bye Bye Aereo, For Now

timothy posted about three weeks ago | from the boston-strangler-argument-sometimes-wins dept.

Television 93

An anonymous reader writes It didn't take long for Aereo to deal with the realities of the U.S. Supreme Court decision. As of 11:30am EDT today Aereo is suspending operations while they go back to U.S. District Court. In order to keep good will with customers during this time, they are refunding the last month's payment for service. curtwoodward (2147628) writes to point out that the decision which has shut down Aereo for now doesn't mean doom for other cloud services: Don't listen to the trolls---the Supremes were very clear that their ruling only applied to Aereo's livestream and things that look just like it. iCloud, Dropbox and friends are fine.

That Toy Is Now a Drone

timothy posted about three weeks ago | from the arbitrary-power dept.

Toys 268

fluxgate (2851685) writes "A notice from the FAA announced earlier this week just turned a bunch of kids' toys into drones. In the past, the FAA had made the distinction between model aircraft (allowed) and drones (prohibited without special permission) according to whether they were used for recreation (okay) or commercial purposes (verboten). Now they have further narrowed the definition of model aircraft: If you fly it through video goggles, it no longer qualifies. This move eliminates First Person View (FPV) radio control flying. I'm an editor at IEEE Spectrum with a special interest and blogged about this disturbing development as soon as I heard the news."

Supreme Court Rules Against Aereo Streaming Service

Unknown Lamer posted about a month ago | from the tiny-antennas-not-tiny-enough dept.

The Courts 484

New submitter Last_Available_Usern (756093) writes that the Aereo saga is likely over. "The U.S. Supreme Court today dealt a potentially fatal blow to Aereo, an Internet service that allows customers to watch broadcast TV programs on mobile devices by renting a small DVR and antennas (in supported cities) to record and then retransmit local programming on-demand over the internet." Ruling (PDF). Aereo was found to be publicly transmitting, according to SCOTUSBlog "The essence of the Aereo ruling is that Aereo is equivalent to a cable company, not merely an equipment provider."

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