When I open my mailbox, I often find Amazon packages that I don’t remember ordering. But today’s surprise was a DVD of Sharknado, a movie I absolutely did not purchase. My first instinct was to contact Amazon and change my password, but then I found a note inside: “For you to test out the new Syfy Sync app with your Philips Hue lights.” Wait, what? A quick web search cleared things up pretty quickly — the latest Syfy Sync app enables full control of a Hue bridge (and connected lights) on the same network. The movie, app and lights work together, in theory, to bring you a more immersive entertainment experience.
So I began a desperate search for a laptop with a DVD drive. I found a decade-old Dell in my closet, but once it finally booted up, I discovered that it couldn’t read the movie. Fortunately, the app works with any version of the film, so I started streaming it from Netflix on my MacBook. After a few iPad reboots and some more fidgeting with the app, it started to change the color of my lights every few seconds. Some pairings made sense, like bright red to match an exploding shark, but there were plenty of missed opportunities, like flashing my lights when an ambulance came on screen. The experience is as cheesy as the film itself — there’s plenty of room for improvement, but if you have Hue and the latest version of Syfy Sync, it’s worth trying once.
Well, it seems like the US cellphone unlocking bill didn’t get held up legislation after all: the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act just passed through the House of Representatives with unanimous support. The measure reverses the 2012 decision that made phone unlocking a violation of copyright law and frees consumers from the mercy of their cellular provider, but it’s not law yet — the bill still needs the signature of President Obama. Still, that’s almost a formality: the “bulk unlock” measure portion of the legislation that caused waves in the Senate has since been removed from the bill. Its text is clean and simple: unlocks can be “initiated by the owner” of any device or “by another person at the direction of the owner” with the express purpose of connecting to the wireless network of their choice. Sounds good here.
As someone who lives in a household with multiple smartphones and tablets I find myself often fighting over a well-placed wall outlet. We’re often unplugging each other’s devices because the other person’s battery level is higher than ours. And when we have guests over? Forget about it. The RAVPower Bolt 4-Port Rapid Charging Station alleviates the problem… Read more »
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The site has been tracking the usage of OS X Yosemite in real time since its initial developer launch on June 2. Yesterday, ahead of the beta launch, Yosemite accounted for 0.26 percent of all Mac traffic globally and as of today, that number has crept up to 0.49 percent.
In just over 24 hours, the number of Yosemite users has doubled, and those numbers will likely grow even further today and over the weekend as additional testers download the beta OS. Many users are still having issues downloading the software, which is preventing Yosemite from reaching all prospective beta testers.
Earlier this month, analytics from Chitika suggested developer interest in Yosemite was higher than usual, with early adoption rates outpacing Mavericks adoption rates by a significant margin. High interest in OS X Yosemite can be attributed to both the operating system’s redesign with a focus on simplicity and translucency and its new features that offer deep integration with iOS 8, including Continuity.
Last year, OS X Mavericks was adopted at a rapid pace, seeing 7 percent installation in under 24 hours after its public launch. Based on the public beta numbers and the high developer interest, Yosemite adoption may be even more rapid when the software is released to the public this fall.
OS X Yosemite is currently available to registered developers and those who signed up to beta test the software. Beta users who are new to the operating system can check out our first impressions post and get troubleshooting tips and information on Yosemite’s new features in our Yosemite forums.
GoSquared’s Yosemite numbers are gathered from the percentage of page views across all sites using GoSquared’s analytics and updated on a minute-by-minute basis.
Bose today filed a lawsuit against Beats Electronics, accusing Beats of infringing on a number of patents related to noise cancellation and other audio technologies (via TechCrunch). The lawsuit accuses Beats Studio and Studio Wireless branded headphones, which advertise “Adaptive Noise Cancellation,” of violating five separate Bose patents in the United States.
In the filing, Bose points towards the 50 years of research, engineering, and development of noise cancellation techniques that went into the creation of its QuietComfort line of noise-cancelling headphones, which use the technology Beats has allegedly stolen.
Beats has been accused of infringing on the following five U.S. patents, which pertain to various noice-cancelling techniques:
No. 6,717,537 – “Method and apparatus for minimizing latency in digital signal processing systems”
No. 8,073,150 – “Dynamically configurable ANR signal processing topology”
No. 8,073,151 – “Dynamically configurable ANR filter block topology”
No. 8,054,992 – “High frequency compensating”
No. 8,345,888 – “Digital high frequency phase compensation”
The lawsuit asks for an injunction that prevents Beats from continuing to produce products that infringe on Bose patents and it requests a damages award for using the company’s technology. Bose has also filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission, seeking a sales ban on the Beats products that violate its patents.
Bose’s infringement lawsuit against Beats is set to become Apple’s problem as the company’s purchase of Beats is expected to close this quarter. Apple initially announced its $3 billion acquisition of the headphone manufacturer in May. Apple is currently embroiled in a number of lawsuits, including an ongoing dispute with Samsung Electronics and several class action suits brought against it by former employees.
Following a report by Droid Life yesterday, Verizon has now confirmed to Gigaom that starting October 1 the carrier will begin spot throttling of certain high-usage customers connecting to carrier’s LTE network. The policy affects users on grandfathered unlimited data plans that are no longer offered and who rank in the top five percent of data users at Verizon.
While Verizon has had a similar policy in place for its 3G network for several years, the extension of it to the LTE network that now handles 76 percent of the carrier’s data traffic will be noticeable for a number of users.
On October 1, Verizon will start throttling back LTE speeds on its heaviest unlimited-plan subscribers when they move into congested cells on its networks. What that means is that when the network gets crowded, Verizon will prioritize 4G customers who buy their data by the gigabyte over unlimited plan customers who fall into the top fifth percentile of monthly data usage.
As of today, the top five percent consists of customers who use 4.7GB or more of data each month, though that number will fluctuate month-to-month as traffic patterns change.
Rather than blanket throttling of users speeds when they hit certain thresholds, Verizon will be weighing demand on individual cell sites and assigning these unlimited users lower priority and thus slower speeds than other customers during periods of high demand.
Verizon said that its new policy will only apply to customers who have fulfilled their contract terms (so if you renewed your data plan under contract in the last two years, you’re safe). The policy remains in effect for a subscriber for the entirety of a billing period. If you’re still in the top 5 percentile of users at the end of that month, then the throttling policy continues for another billing period. But if you’re not, then all restrictions are lifted – at least until your next bill.
With the explosion in smartphone usage in recent years, carriers have been turning to throttling to help manage demand on their networks. The policies are also being used to encourage users to move away from the unlimited data plans that were popular in the early smartphone days but which have been phased out by carriers in a shift to tiered data plans in which the amount users pay is tied to their data usage.
The United States space shuttle program no longer exists, which leaves NASA’s astronauts with few options for hitching a ride to the International Space Station. One option, Russia’s space program, is currently roadblocked by politics. Another other option is thankfully here in the US, with Elon Musk’s SpaceX offering rides to and from the ISS; Musk says that his company will transport human beings between Earth and the ISS “in about two to three years” with the second version of his company’s Dragon spacecraft. But the long game isn’t the ISS: it’s Mars.
“We’re aspiring to send people to Mars,” Musk told Stephen Colbert on last night’s episode of The Colbert Report. “It would be the greatest adventure ever.” He sees colonization of Mars in humanity’s future, for both the survival of the species (diversifying humanity’s physical portfolio, if you will) and for the sheer enormity of the endeavor. “My term for Mars is that it’s a ‘fixer-upper of a planet.’ It’s gonna take some work, but it’s possible to transform Mars ultimately into an Earth-like planet.”
On the less insane side of the interview, Musk spoke to his role as Tesla Motors CEO. The next firmware update for the Model S apparently enables car naming. And what did Musk name his car? The answer might shock you. Find out below!
(Okay, it’s just “Old Faithful.” Sorry! But still watch the hilarious interview below.)
Source: The Colbert Report
We’ve heard your complaint: you can’t find anything to watch on Netflix. Despite all the A/B testing, app updates and data Netflix is measuring behind the scenes, the way it presents the library makes it nearly impossible to see everything that’s available to watch, and sometimes you want to do the choosing instead of letting an algorithm or hired gun do the work. The good news is there are a ton of different ways to sort through the pile — or ditch sorting for the bliss of random selection — but the bad news is that some of them will be going away soon (more on that in a minute). If you’re not already taking advantage of third party tools like InstantWatcher to dive deep into the catalog, we’re here to explain why you should be.
If you’re the very selective type of person, this is the best way to browse Netflix — although maybe not the prettiest. Want to dive into a specific genre (or sub genre), sort by year, view only highly-rated movies (Rotten Tomatoes & New York Times), see what’s new or what’s popular, see what’s new and popular — Instantwatcher can bring all of that, and it’s available on the web or in your palm via apps for Android and iOS.
What if you still can’t decide? That’s fine, there’s a constantly refreshed list at the top right showing what other people have just queued using the site — yes, if you’re logged in to Netflix.com, you can queue or play with just a single click — and a random button just for kicks.
Can I Stream It?
You know what you want to watch — but you don’t know if you can, or where. Can I Stream It? solves that problem by tapping into the databases for not just Netflix, but also almost everywhere else. That includes other all-you-can-eat services like Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus, rental/purchase sources like iTunes, Google Play, Redbox and Amazon VOD, discs from Netflix, Redbox and Amazon, and even cable TV streaming sources from Comcast. If what you’re looking for isn’t available yet, (or isn’t on the service you have) just set up a reminder, and the website will let you know when it’s ready for viewing in the right place.
New On Netflix
New On Netflix is pretty self-explanatory. Especially useful now that Netflix has cut off the RSS feed for new additions, it’s more focused than the two entries above by just feeding you new additions to the streaming catalog, every day. Contrary to what many users think, the “new releases” category in the usual Netflix queue isn’t consistently refreshed with the latest bits. It also features specific lists for different regions, so if you travel a lot — or your VPN does — you can keep an eye on what’s coming in around the world. The Twitter feed currently only works for Canada, but there’s an Android app too. The free (ad-supported) version will show information for your region, searchable by movie/show/person, genre with ratings from Rotten Tomatoes. A $4 upgrade lets you search worldwide and drops the advertisements. The same developer has also launched a website called Netflix Notifier — just add a movie to your queue there, and they’ll let you know when Netflix has it to watch.
This website blends the strengths of Can I Stream It? with the international reach of New On Netflix. It searches not only Netflix*, but also Vudu, Hulu, iTunes*, Fox and Crackle*, plus BBC iPlayer (on Netflix, iTunes and Crackle it can search the libraries for different countries individually.) Most Popular, New Arrivals, Expiring Soon, Oscar Winners — MoreFlicks has a number of ways to drill down to the content you want.
Ways to use it: Web
This Netflix helper has been around for a while, and it’s all about making sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Changes to the movie service’s API have hamstrung some of its cooler features, but if what you need is an all-in-one service to let you know when new movies arrive or how long you’ve had that DVD — FeedFliks has your back. There’s also a premium service available for $10 per year that makes the whole process nearly automatic, it will automatically add favorite movies to your queue when they’re available, remind you to send back DVDs after a while, let you see when movies from your disc queue are ready to stream and sort your queue by which movies are expiring first.
Ways to use it: Web
For Flix Roulette, it can offer random selections from the full pool of streaming movies, or some combination of category, actor, director and star rating. That way while it’s random, it’s more likely to pull something you’re actually interested in watching, without the pressure of choosing. While AllFlicks (below) has a similar feature, this site says it won’t be affected by the API closing. That’s because it relies on its own crawler, and the developer has already crowdfunded the creation of an API for other services to access the data. If Netflix goes forward with its shutdown — and the project works — this could power more alternative UIs in the future, so take a peek.
Ways to use it: Web
The Walking Dead
These next couple of helpers are ready for you to use now and even add some cool features, but they may be on their way out. Netflix announced it’s shutting off its public API on November 14th. That means only sites that don’t use the API, or ones that have been granted special access, will keep working. After that, you’ll be restricted to a shorter list of third parties, or those that rely on scrapers for data that can sometimes be out of date, to fill in the sort of features Netflix hasn’t added yet.
AllFlicks has been around since late last year, and developer Ville Salminen says it’s been averaging around 15,000 users per day. Like some of the others, it gives a few different ways to browse or filter through Netflix’s US & Canada catalog, but feature we like the most is that you can create custom queues, and then share them with others. Netflix’s own social efforts tied to Facebook haven’t quite caught on so far, and aren’t nearly as customizable. AllFlicks is asking for your help in getting Netflix to reconsider — check here for more information.
Ways to use it: Web
Mimmsy is another Netflix frontend that’s facing shutdown, and like some of the others, it’s all about giving you more ways to search. It puts filters ahead of box art when it comes to browsing, and should let you narrow down to exactly the type of movie or TV show you want to see. The developer has even put together a quick demo video to show you how to use it — it’s free and ad-supported, but if you create an account you can add movies directly to your Netflix queue without leaving the site.
Ways to use it: Web
Those are our favorite ways to make sense out of Netflix, with our thanks to the folks at AllFlicks and the r/Netflix discussion on Reddit for suggestions. If we missed any — or if you just have a great idea that someone should build into one of these platforms — let us know about it in the comments below.
[Image credit: Netflix (TV / remote), Paul Sakuma/AP]
The ink is likely dry on the Apple/Beats deal, but it has yet to be officially stamped with regulatory approval. Bose is now going after Cupertino’s big purchase though, as the audio outfit is suing over alleged patent infringement. The suit takes aim at Beats’ noise-cancelling tech in its $300 Studio line of wireless cans, claiming that the company swiped items from five of Bose’s patents. As you may recall, Dr. Dre’s outfit is also facing legal proceedings from MOG founder David Hyman who’s looking to recoup over $20 million in compensation. We’ve reached out to both sides and we’ll update this post when we hear back, but until then, the full complaint is accessible below.
[Photo credit: Glenn Asakawa/The Denver Post via Getty Images]
Via: CNBC (Twitter)