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Microsoft Pulls the Plug on Zune
November 16, 2015
Microsoft on Sunday announced that it would retire the service for its Zune digital media players beginning immediately, and users will no longer able to stream or download content to the device from the Zune music service. The device will continue to function as a music player, and any downloaded content will remain on the device. Users can transfer music to and from the device.
Valve's Steam Gaming Hardware Hits Home
November 13, 2015
Valve this week rolled out the hardware phase of its road map from bedrooms and basements to living rooms and lounge areas with its long-awaited video game controller, PC link box and Steam boxes. Valve's road map to the living room began with Big Picture mode in 2011, continued with in-home streaming in 2014, and now includes the new Steam hardware.
T-Mobile Opens Streaming-Video Buffet
November 12, 2015
T-Mobile on Wednesday announced Binge On, a plan that lets qualified customers Netflix and chill as much as they want. It's the type of move meant to shake up the wireless industry and to cultivate more T-Mobile loyalists. Beginning this Sunday, certain customers can consume streaming content from several popular services without having it count against their data plans.
Cisco and Ericsson Hook Up for IoT Network
November 10, 2015
Cisco and Ericsson on Monday announced a partnership to build out a next-generation network for smart things and the carriers and enterprises that want to support such devices. The deal plays to the companies' strengths in cloud, data center, mobility, management, networking, routing and global services, they said. Each company expects to earn about US$1 billion in revenue by 2018 from the deal.
Gadget Ogling: An Emotional Keyboard, a Puzzling Phone, and Exquisite Headphones
November 7, 2015
To communicate online in 2015 is to have at least a passing awareness of emoji -- the colorful symbols that are endemic in social media and text messages. Inputting emoji into a post or message from a computer is often awkward, though this item might help. EmojiWorks has a physical keyboard which, at the touch of a modifier -- think ctrl, alt or command -- you can use to type emoji.
Now Facebook Users Can Tell Their Music Stories
November 6, 2015
Facebook on Thursday announced Music Stories, a feature in its iPhone app that lets users post links to music they like with comments. Clicking the link will launch a 30-second preview of the music, which is streamed from either Apple Music or Spotify. Listeners then can purchase the music from the service or save it to their account there.
For Tech-Savvy Teens and Tweens, TV and Music Still Rule
November 6, 2015
Although teens and tweens have more choices than ever when it comes to media activities, watching television and listening to music are their top preferences, according to a report Common Sense Media released this week. Among tweens, ages 8 to 12, watching TV was the top media activity, with nearly 62 percent saying they did it every day. For teens, ages 13 to 18, listening to music was the top media activity.
Circle With Disney Lets Parents Unglue Kids From Media
November 5, 2015
Circle Media and Disney Interactive on Wednesday launched Circle With Disney, a device that gives parents greater control over the management of their children's online activities. Circle With Disney provides curated Disney content through a licensing agreement. Paired with a companion iOS app, it allows users to limit and filter content streaming to a variety of devices.
Live-Action Trailer Hypes Fallout 4 Release
November 5, 2015
Bethesda on Thursday released a preview trailer for its postapocalyptic video game Fallout 4. The game will be released worldwide next week for Microsoft Windows and Xbox One as well as the Sony PlayStation 4. Despite the title, it's actually the fifth major installment in the series. Bethesda has pulled out all the stops, including cross promotions, to build excitement for the release.
Instagram Shows Off Collections in New Curated Video Channel
November 5, 2015
Instagram last week began offering packaged videos tied to topical events, starting with a stream of video content to celebrate Halloween. In launching a curated content initiative, Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, is following in the steps of Snapchat and Twitter. Snapchat launched Live Stories in June, and Twitter introduced a feature called Moments last month.
Film Industry Claims Victory in Shutdown of Major Piracy Sites
November 4, 2015
The Motion Picture Association of America ran a victory lap after announcing the shutdown of movie and television torrent sites Popcorn Time and YTS. The shutdowns resulted from major legal wins in Canada and New Zealand. The MPAA last month obtained injunctions against the sites in those countries, effectively blocking them from further operation.
OpenWorld's Substance Feast
November 4, 2015
For once, Oracle OpenWorld went long on substance. That's hard to do when you have so many products to discuss and Larry Ellison pontificating, but he was both under control and substantive -- though he couldn't resist taking a few shots at competitors. Oracle's team hardly ever sees SAP and IBM in deals these days, he announced, and he gave due praise to cloud pioneers NetSuite and Salesforce.
Is Apple TV a Worthy Upgrade? Sort Of
November 3, 2015
For Apple TV fans, the new Apple TV is the long-awaited upgrade we've been pining for, but I'm only half as impressed as I thought I would be. It comes down to this: The new Apple TV is an excellent set-top box, and it provides a foundation for the app-centric living room TV experience of the future... but damn, Apple, you spent how many years not getting this thing polished?
The New York Times May Get Technical With Ad Blockers
November 2, 2015
The New York Times Company last week indicated would take steps to circumvent ad-blocking tools. "As you know, the Times' digital subscription revenue stream means that we are less exposed than most publishers to the impact of ad-blockers," said NYT Company CEO Mark Thompson during an earnings call. "Nonetheless, let me make it clear that we oppose ad blocking."
Using Tech to Fix the Horrid US Political Debates
November 2, 2015
I watched with interest last week's Republican debate and realized very quickly that whatever that was on my TV, it sure as hell wasn't an actual debate. The idea is for us to be able to compare the qualifications and positions of a variety of candidates and then make a more informed choice -- but if every candidate is asked a different question, then how do we compare the answers?
T-Mobile Rumored to Roll Out Unlimited Video
October 30, 2015
Rumors that T-Mobile plans to introduce an unlimited data plan for streaming video services circulated Thursday following a Twitter post from journalist Evan Blass, who tweets under the handle @evleaks. The company would allow unlimited high-speed data to be used to watch select streaming from services such as Netflix and HBO under its "Uncarrier 10" campaign, he suggested.
Google Migrates Project Loon to Indonesia
October 30, 2015
Project Loon, part of Google's parent company, Alphabet, on Wednesday announced that it has signed agreements with three mobile network operators in Indonesia -- Indosat, Telkomse, and XL Axiata -- to begin tests of its balloon-powered Internet service in 2016. Only about one in three of Indonesia's 250 million residents is connected to the Internet, according to Project Loon.
Apple TV Reviews: Kinda Buggy, Kinda Great
October 29, 2015
The latest version of Apple's streaming media set-top box has gathered a bundle of mixed early reviews. Some reviewers saw great potential in the $149 diminutive black box designed to pump movies, TV shows, games and apps from the Internet to a television set. Others found plenty to criticize. "I was a little shocked to see how buggy it was," wrote David Pogue.
Nintendo's Miitomo Smartphone 'Game' Fails to Charm Investors
October 29, 2015
Nintendo shares dropped 9 percent on Thursday, and partner DeNA's stock dropped 15 percent after Nintendo announced that it would wade into the mobile waters next year with social mobile app Miitomo. Based on the Mii digital avatars made popular by the Wii, Miitomo will seek to connect players through trivia, Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima reportedly said.
Element 14 to Bake Custom Raspberry Pi's
October 29, 2015
Element14 on Tuesday revealed an exclusive agreement to offer OEM customers bespoke designs based on the Raspberry Pi platform. Raspberry Pi -- which has seen success in the educational and maker fields -- is targeting commercial manufacturers and the Internet of Things, signing up Premier Farnell through the latter's element14 brand to customize its boards.
Sony Talks VR and 2016 Games in Paris
October 29, 2015
While Microsoft has been driving home the potential hits it has for the holidays, Sony has sat silent. That changed this week at Paris Games Week, when Sony set the tone for the next year or so by touting 21 games poised to redefine the PlayStation 4 experience. It put on a console-selling show that evidenced the potential of the latest PlayStation and the upcoming PlayStation VR headset.
SXSW May Put Online Harassment in the Spotlight
October 28, 2015
SXSW Interactive reportedly might include a daylong event on combating online harassment. The news followed SXSW's cancellation of two planned panels that were expected to focus on opposite ends of the Gamergate debate. Threats of on-site violence spurred the decision to cancel both panels, according to SXSW officials. However, that decision immediately drew fire.
Qualcomm Unveils Muscle Camera for Surveillance Systems
October 28, 2015
Qualcomm on Tuesday announced a muscle video camera for surveillance systems. Part of the company's Snapdragon 618 IP camera platform, it combines a six-core, 64-bit processor; next-generation graphics crunching; and embedded digital signal processing. The unit can perform advanced video analytics, which can reduce cloud processing and storage costs provide more reliable analytics, Qualcomm said.
Russian Sub Activity Near Internet Cables Worries US
October 27, 2015
Russian spy ships and subs reportedly are hovering close to the routes of undersea communications cables. Military and intelligence officials apparently have observed increased Russian sub activity near cables located from the North Sea to Northeast Asia, as well as in waters close to American shores. The movements suggest Russia might decide to attack those cables in times of tension or conflict.
Apple Fans to Get Their Hands on New Apple TV This Week
October 27, 2015
Apple on Monday opened up advanced orders for the next generation of Apple TV. The set-top boxes are expected to hit homes between Oct. 30 and Nov. 3. It's offering two versions: A 32-GB version is priced at $149 and a 64-GB model is $50 more. With Apple TV losing ground to newcomers to the streaming hardware market, the company has given its set-top box a booster shot: a syringe containing Siri.
NY AG Could Be Broadband-Speed Mythbuster
October 26, 2015
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has launched an investigation into Verizon, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable. The purpose of the probe is to determine whether three of the state's top telecom companies are providing high-speed broadband Internet as advertised to consumers and businesses. The probe was launched in response to consumer complaints on the issue.
Google Views Itself Through Machine Learning Lens
October 26, 2015
Google CEO Sundar Pichai last week lit up his first earnings call with accounts of a solid third quarter and machine learning dreams that could permeate all the company's products. As the call drew to a close, investors asked about the vision for machine learning. Google has been rethinking everything it has been doing, and doing so through the transformative field of machine learning, he said.
Twitter Talks Up New Storytelling Tools
October 22, 2015
Twitter announced two tools, a Collections API, and an ecosystem of partners designed to let publishers organize tweets to better tell a tale. The API creates a single Collection ID that can be used to edit, update and publish a story from any tool in the Twitter ecosystem. Publishers can find tweets and organize them into a single story, then display them on their own websites or in their apps.
YouTube Red Offers Paying Customers Ad-Free PewDiePie
October 22, 2015
YouTube on Wednesday introduced YouTube Red, a $10 a month ad-free channel. Membership extends across devices, and consumers can access the service from other YouTube channels or apps, including YouTube Gaming. Subscribers to YouTube Red will get a twofer -- it automatically provides access to Google Play Music, which also carries a $10 subscription tag.
Apple Music Converts 6.5 Million to Paid Subscribers
October 20, 2015
CEO Tim Cook has revealed that Apple had signed up 6.5 million customers willing to pay for its Apple Music streaming service. Another 8.5 million users currently are giving the service a look-see during a free three-month trial period. Cook unveiled the hard numbers of paid subscribers for the first time, as the industry waited to hear whether Apple would be able to make inroads against Spotify.
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I plan to do my holiday shopping…
Online only -- I like the convenience and comfort.
Online only -- I'd shop in stores if their stock weren't so limited.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I like to see what I'm getting.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I enjoy the holiday shopping atmosphere.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I want to support local merchants.
Online and in stores -- I want the best of both worlds.
I'm not planning on doing any holiday shopping.