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Is This VR's Mainstream Moment?
November 24, 2015
Samsung last week began fulfilling orders for its Oculus-power Gear VR headset, giving U.S. consumers their first taste of Oculus VR's brand of virtual reality. International preorders have opened as well. It won't be until early next year that Oculus VR begins shipping its full-featured Oculus Rift headset, but as a Gear VR collaborator, it has been touting Samsung's mobile-driven headset.
NY AG Subpoenas Yahoo in Daily Fantasy Sports Battle
November 21, 2015
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman this week sought an injunction to keep DraftKings and FanDuel from operating in the state, according to press reports. He also subpoenaed Yahoo as part of his effort to end the operation of daily fantasy sports platforms in New York, press reports said. If he's successful, it could tip the dominoes in other states.
Nvidia Updates Shield Tablet, Shaves $100 Off Price
November 20, 2015
Nvidia this week revealed a refreshed Shield Tablet K1 and indicated that it isn't done updating the gaming slate. One of the biggest parts of the refresh is a cut of $100 off the price of the 16-GB tablet. The original Shield Tablet was available in a $299 16-GB version and a $399 32-GB variant. A new battery replaces the fire-prone cells that caused a recall of the original Shield Tablets.
Halo Makes Month for Xbox One
November 18, 2015
The NPD Group last week announced that Halo 5: Guardians set atop the gaming charts for October, despite its Xbox One exclusivity. The latest installment of the long-standing sci-fi shooter has given the Xbox One a much-needed boost, but Microsoft's latest console is still well behind rival Sony's PlayStation 4. Overall, the console market saw marginal gains in October.
Microsoft Gives Gamers a New Xbox One Experience
November 16, 2015
Microsoft on Thursday began rolling out the New Xbox One Experience, delivering backward compatibility for Xbox 360 games and updating the user interface to a Windows 10 foundation. Support for legacy Xbox games is the headliner, but the roughly 1.15-GB update includes new social elements baked into a reworked interface. The refreshed interface is faster and more social, the company said.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ingress Maker Niantic Scores $20 Million for AR Gaming
October 16, 2015
Niantic on Thursday announced that it was the beneficiary of a big bet pooled together by benefactors Google, Nintendo and The Pokémon Co. Niantic, which develops augmented reality games, will receive $20 million in the Series A funding round and could receive another $10 million if it realizes certain undisclosed goals. The company was founded by Google Earth cocreator John Hanke.
Fantasy Sports: Socializing Betting
October 16, 2015
It passes through the channels of federal laws, spills across state lines and even bleeds into the protected realm of college sports. The multibillion-dollar industry that is fantasy sports has stood up to legal challenges so far, but the surging sector still battles problems with perception and faces questions about its future. Allegations of insider trading recently aren't the only issue.
Facebook Sets New Lures for Video Viewers
October 15, 2015
Facebook on Tuesday revealed it's experimenting with making video clips easier for users to find in its mobile and desktop applications. In coming days, a limited number of users will see the new format. "We look forward to seeing how people use it to discover, watch and share videos with their friends," said Will Cathcart, vice president of product management at Facebook.
Will Insider Trading Sideline Fantasy Sports?
October 8, 2015
The field of fantasy sports is faced with a fresh set of legal questions, following this week's allegations of insider trading on DraftKings and FanDuel. Having been validated by their skill component, fantasy sports have spilled across state lines and even into the world of collegiate athletics, a realm that has been closed to other forms of gambling.
Amazon Banishes Apple and Google Streamers
October 5, 2015
Amazon last week said it planned to stop selling streaming devices from rivals Apple and Google. A pillar of its Prime ecosystem, Prime Video, was incompatible with Apple TV and Google's Chromecast, the company suggested. It made the decision to "avoid customer confusion," according to a company statement. Other devices with streaming capabilities would continue to be available, the company said.
Gadget Ogling: Eyes on Google
October 3, 2015
Chromecast helps people easily stream whatever they want through their TV via a simple dongle. Now Google's adding a splash of color to the device, along with a string of new features. Instead of resembling a USB stick, Chromecast 2 is more like a colorful button, and Google says it is easier to plug into an HDMI slot. Also, it apparently can stream videos faster and with less buffering.
TiVo Bolt Zaps Ads
October 1, 2015
TiVo on Wednesday urged users to give commercials the finger with its Bolt set-top box, which allows ad-skipping on some shows. The Bolt is available immediately online, and it will show up on store shelves this weekend. It comes in 500-GB and 1-TB versions, priced at $300 and $400, respectively, inclusive of one year of service. After that, users will pay $150 a year for the service.
New Sonos Speaker Costs $500 but New Smart Tuner Is Free
September 30, 2015
Sonos has unveiled a new version of its top-of-the-line Play:5 speaker, which includes three mid-woofers and three tweeters. It can be set up in three orientations: by itself, or paired with another speaker -- either vertically for tight sound, or horizontally for a more immersive experience. Sonos also introduced Trueplay, an iOS app for tuning its wireless speakers to a room's acoustic profile.
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Should social media sites be held accountable for terrorists' communications?
Yes -- They are providing a platform to facilitate murder and mayhem.
Yes -- Everything must be done to protect society from danger.
Maybe -- I'm not sure they have the technological capability to stop them.
Maybe -- I'm not convinced terrorists are using them for serious plotting.
No -- Authorities should monitor social networks to gather intelligence.
No -- Social networks are no different than phone carriers or mail services.