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12
Feb

Dr. Dre to Star in Apple’s First Original Television Series


Following rumors Apple is planning to create original television content like Netflix and Amazon, news has leaked about the company’s first prospective TV show courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter. The series, called Vital Signs, is described as a dark semi-autobiographical drama that stars Beats co-founder and Apple executive Dr. Dre.

Sources who have seen scripts and descriptions of the show have described it as being very dark, reflecting at least in part on the life of Dr. Dre. Each episode is said to focus on a “different emotion” and the way Dre’s character handles it.

drdre

While technically a half-hour, the show is not a comedy. Instead, it is described as a dark drama with no shortage of violence and sex. In fact, an episode filming Monday and Tuesday this week featured an extended orgy scene. Sources tell THR naked extras simulated sex in a mansion in the Bird Streets neighborhood of Los Angeles’ Hollywood Hills. (Dre’s wife Nicole Threatt Young was on set to witness the shenanigans, one insider says.)

News that Apple was exploring the possibility of original television programming first surfaced last summer, ahead of when it shelved its streaming television plans. At the time, it was speculated the content could be provided through a rumored streaming service, but with Apple having ended development on that project at the current time, distribution will come through more traditional means.

The Hollywood Reporter believes the series is likely to be distributed through Apple Music, which was born out of the Beats Music service created by Dre. It may also be available through iTunes or distributed through other channels, but the details on that are not yet clear. As with Netflix shows, all episodes of the series will be released at once.

Dr. Dre is the executive producer on the series, and it’s being funded by Apple. The series will also star Sam Rockwell, known for movies like Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Galaxy Quest, and Moon, along with Mo McRae, known for his role in Sons of Anarchy. It will be directed by Paul Hunter.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Tags: Apple Music, Dr. Dre
Buyer’s Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)

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12
Feb

uTorrent offers ad-free option for $5 a year


uTorrent recently opted to monetize with ads, but it turns out that pirates hate those as much as paying for content. Now, parent BitTorrent is trying something else — offering a subscription to eliminate ads for $5 per year. That may not seem like much, but uTorrent has over 150 million users, so even if a small chunk of them opted to pay, it could generate millions in cash. (To be fair, torrents can be used for legal purposes, like streaming US election coverage.)

There are now three tiers: a free app with ads, the new $5 ad-free version and uTorrent Pro, which also gives you virus protection, support and instant streaming for $20 per year. It’s normally possible to disable ads in the free version, though we’re not sure if uTorrent has closed that loophole with the new paid version. Last year, uTorrent tried to milk its huge user base by forcing them to mine bitcoins, but it quickly discontinued the practice and apologized to users.

Via: Venture Beat

Source: uTorrent

12
Feb

We finally found out the reason why Samsung didn’t launch the Note 5 in Europe


Note5-S6EdgePLus

After the success of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, Samsung launched two new phones that were equally as impressive. The Note 5 and S6 Edge+, however, the Note 5 didn’t quite make it to Europe and no one knew why?

However, we now have the exact reason from Rory O’Neill, Samsung’s European Vice President of Brand and Marketing:

“We studied that the user patterns for large-screen devices in Europe were much more entertainment-centric, viewing-centric, than while the Note proposition is really good, is more on the productivity side and personal organisation side.”

Basically, people in Europe don’t care as much about using their phones for work and would rather have the larger screen for media consumption. This is why the S6 Edge+ was launched there, but not the more productivity focused Note 5.

However, the big question is will Samsung do the same thing with the Note 6 and S7 Edge+? We have heard some rumours that while the Note 5 was left out of European markets, the Note 6 will definitely be coming there (at least in the UK). Although, this time around the S7 Edge+ might not. Pretty much a complete reverse of last year.

Source: Techradar

Come comment on this article: We finally found out the reason why Samsung didn’t launch the Note 5 in Europe

12
Feb

RIP: Adblock Plus


I got a little too excited when the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) chief called Adblock Plus (ABP) “an unethical, immoral, mendacious coven of techie wannabes.” I immediately wanted to know when the next coven meeting was and how many stars to sew onto my witch cape.

The chief’s accusations of heresy came after ABP was disinvited from the bureau’s Leadership Summit. IAB’s chief further twisted the ceremonial dagger by saying they weren’t invited “in the first place.”

After that splendid outburst of public bitchiness, finding and joining the ad-blocking coven was my destiny. But little did I know that any ad-free witchery Adblock Plus might’ve been storing up for future spell-casting was getting less ad-free by the minute.

Disappointingly, Adblock Plus didn’t respond to IAB’s dramatic snub by holding a recruitment open house for its mendacious coven.

Instead Adblock Plus held a summit earlier this week in London to hash out a new treaty with ad publishers, so even more of them can be white-listed to bypass the popular tool’s advertising filters.

The superstar ad-blocking tool has already taken a lot of heat for having that white list in the first place — called an “acceptable ads” policy — as well as the way it’s executed.

Not all of its 144 million or so users know this, but Adblock Plus comes preloaded with a filter that allows some ads to be shown. That white list is turned on by default when someone installs Adblock Plus, so users must manually opt out if they don’t want to see any ads. Those ads that don’t get blocked come from companies and organizations that Adblock Plus calls “strategic partners.” They are all manually approved by ABP and must meet ABP’s acceptable ads criteria.

Large companies pay Adblock Plus’ parent company, Eyeo, for this white-listing, though it’s offered free for small and medium-size websites. Even after it started rolling out in 2011, Eyeo would not name its white-listed “strategic partners.” But when information was leaked, the ad blocker confirmed to Financial Times that it was giving a pass to more than 300 businesses. It was reported that “one digital media company (which asked not to be named) was told that it would cost 30 percent of its advertising revenue to be whitelisted by Eyeo and Adblock Plus.”

Its pay-for-play deals with Google, Microsoft, Amazon and multi-billion dollar “native content” ad company Taboola were also confirmed.

Do you recognize that last one? If not, you surely know Taboola’s trademark “Around The Web” paid-content links — as in, those clickbait redirect articles sometimes called “You May Also Like,” confusingly displayed alongside actual articles on news sites. Right now on The Atlantic you can see Taboola’s “25 Stars Who Are Literally Unrecognizable Without Makeup,” and on Daily Mail, “Get Paid $150 For Using This Credit Card.”

This is the same Taboola that was smacked down by the Better Business Bureau not too long ago for blurring the line between so-called “native advertising” and real editorial content. Taboola’s unsuccessful argument against the agency’s charges was that it isn’t an advertiser and therefore isn’t subject to the Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division rules.

Maybe a scornful rival coven cursed Adblock Plus to have bad taste in strategic partners. But bad taste can’t hurt you, right? In our brave new world of skyrocketing malvertising infections, it can.

While Adblock Plus appears to be careful about documenting the screening of its white list, the security of ads served through ABP’s white list is the elephant in the room. That’s because ads that get a pass on ABP’s white list are only going to be as secure as the sources serving them to viewers. For an example, look no further than the June 2014 Syrian Electronic Army hack on Reuters — which was done through compromising Taboola’s ad slots.

Adblock Plus says its white list program is designed to make the internet better through encouraging unintrusive ads … though I think it’s important to note that the “Acceptable Ads” anchor tag (its midpage URL) is #monetization. The program is framed as a practical compromise between the conflicts of ads and ad blocking. On top of all of this philosophy, ABP claims its white list is something its users want (citing this survey, which doesn’t actually say that).

Some advertisers resent the program almost as much as they hate the fact that ad blockers even exist. In recent lawsuits against the company, some ad publishers have called ABP’s white list program “extortion,” “racketeering” and a “shakedown.”

I’m guessing those advertisers are the ones who’ve been left off the white list — for now, anyway.

12
Feb

Samsung Galaxy Note 6 may come with 6GB of RAM


samsung_galaxy_note_5_s_pen_ejected_TA

It is that time of the year again where all the new phones start coming out. One of the biggest phones to launch this year will definitely be the Samsung Galaxy Note 6, and the rumours are already starting to fly.

The new rumour is all about the internal specs of the Note 6. It is said that the Note 6 will feature a 5.8″ Slim RGB AMOLED display with 1440 x 2560 resolution and 1024 pressure points. Note quite sure what “Slim RGB AMOLED” means, but improved screen is definitely plausible. However, the rumour is also saying that the Note 6 will come with 6GB of RAM. That is a lot of RAM to have in a phone, and 2GB more than last year’s Note 5. As for the chip it will be running, it will come with “two SoC solutions”. I would assume a Snapdragon and Exynos processor like we have heard Samsung will be doing with the S7 and S7 Edge. Other specs include the usual S Pen, 12MP camera, like we heard used in the S7, and 64 GB/128 GB of storage, possibly meaning no microSD card slot.

Overall, the specs seem possible, but 6GB of RAM seems like a lot. Also, too bad we didn’t hear anything about the size of the battery. High quality screen, 6GB of RAM, high-end processor, it is gonna need a pretty big battery to power all of that.

Source: HQ Vision (Weibo)
Via: Phonearena

Come comment on this article: Samsung Galaxy Note 6 may come with 6GB of RAM

12
Feb

Dr. Dre will reportedly star in Apple’s first original TV series


Rumors have swirled about Apple building its own TV service for untold months now — and the company has also been rumored to be creating its own original content, ala Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and basically every other streaming service worth its salt. Now, The Hollywood Reporter says it has details about the first Apple original series. Vital Signs is reportedly a six-episode series starring Apple employee Dr. Dre in a dark, “semi-autobiographical” role.

As for the show’s distribution, it sounds like Apple isn’t waiting to have its TV service off the ground — instead, the series will debut on Apple Music as an exclusive for subscribers. Just as the exclusive Taylor Swift concert Apple Music hosted was available to watch on the company’s Apple TV device, it makes sense that Dre’s show would be similarly available. But it’s not clear if the show will also be available to purchase through iTunes for those who don’t subscribe to Apple’s streaming music service.

The show is being headed up by Paul Hunter, a longtime music video director, and will also star Sam Rockwell and Mo McCrae, says The Hollywood Reporter. And the subject matter sounds a bit risqué for Apple — apparently one episode features a full-on orgy scene. The six half-hour episodes are expected to debut simultaneously, though there’s no word on the release timeframe yet. It would be a bold move for the company, but not entirely unexpected given Dre’s close ties to Apple. We’ve reached out for comment and will update this post if we learn anything else.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

12
Feb

ASICS buying Runkeeper


runkeeper_app_icon_fall_2015

Citing the fact that data indicates more Runkeeper users wear ASICS shoes than any other brand, Runkeeper founder Jason Jacobs announced recently that the shoe company would be purchasing Runkeeper.

From Jacobs’ announcement:

“Partnering with ASICS to fulfill this vision together makes a ton of sense. We both have deep roots in and focus on running as a core component of the fitness experience. There is strong alignment between our brands and core values. And from people using our Shoe Tracker feature in the app, we know that ASICS shoes are by far the ones that Runkeeper users run in the most.”

Jacobs said that the user experience of Runkeeper will not change as a result of the purchase, but said ASICS will be able to “bring many resources to bear that we couldn’t fathom having access to on our own.” Jacobs did not specify what those resources were.

ASICS is not the first shoe/apparel company to partner with a fitness tracker of some sort; last year, Under Armour bought MyFitnessPal (and now has its own fitness wearables, as well) and Adidas bought Runtastic. Nike, on the other hand, developed its own line of fitness tracking technology with the Fuel Band lineup.

While Jacobs says nothing will change in terms of Runkeeper’s user experience, only time will tell if that’s true.

Source: Medium

Come comment on this article: ASICS buying Runkeeper

12
Feb

Philae mission team says goodbye to the comet lander


The mostly quiet Philae comet lander appears to be silent for good. German space agency DLR announced today that it would no longer attempt to send commands to the unit. “Unfortunately, the probability of Philae re-establishing contact with our team at the DLR Lander Control Center is almost zero… it would be very surprising if we received a signal now,” said project manager Stephan Ulamec. The news isn’t too unexpected as the German Aerospace Center revealed last month that the latest attempts to revive the lander had been unsuccessful.

Most likely, Philae is covered with dust in a shaded location. Due to low temperatures, the lander is unable to restart its on-board systems. However, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe will continue to orbit comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko can collect data through September. It will also continue to monitor for any signal from Philae, though the chances of it picking up anything are close to zero. A closeup flyby is planned for this summer, during which Rosetta is expected to capture the last images of Philae. Based on those photos, researchers will be able to better understand some of the collected data.

Philae is the first spacecraft to land on a comet, doing so in November 2014 after a 10-year trek through space onboard Rosetta. Despite a rough landing, the lander was able to collect information on the comet’s environment, including temperature data, its internal structure and dust and gas samples. The crew here on Earth has had trouble communicating with Philae at times when it ventured into the shade as it required solar power to function properly. While its mission had its fair share of troubles, the lander had its achievements too, and even snapped a selfie along the way.

Via: Washington Post

Source: DLR

12
Feb

The best open-back headphones under $500


By Brent Butterworth

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. Read the full article here.

If a serious music lover who wanted to spend less than $500 were to ask us what open-back audiophile headphones to buy, we’d recommend the HiFiMan HE400S. This pair isn’t cheap, yet it emerged as the favorite after our panel of audio professionals spent 60 hours evaluating 29 open-back and semi-open-back headphones—nearly every model available for less than $500. Among those, the HE400S headphones were the only ones that we all agreed deserved a high ranking.

Who this is for

While most headphones have closed backs that trap the sound coming from the back of the headphone driver and block most outside noise, open-back headphones have an open grille on the back so the sound from the backs of the headphone drivers can escape into the air (and some of what’s in the air can make its way into the headphones). The sound is much more like what you hear in a nightclub or concert hall, though you get little isolation from the world around you. If you’re a serious music lover who likes to sit for hours at home listening to music, a pair of open-back headphones is a great investment.

How we tested

Some of the open-back and semi-open-back headphones we tested.

We gave each set of headphones 24 hours of break-in time, playing music from a Los Angeles rock radio station at a fairly loud volume. After breaking them in, we separated them loosely into two groups, the under-$100 models and the over-$100 models. The panelists all provided their own music for testing and used separate amplifiers to drive the headphones. They were free to listen to any headphones for as long as they wished, in any order, and to compare any pair against any other pair before choosing their favorites.

Our pick

Our panel picked the HiFiMan HE400S as our top recommendation based on their sound quality, comfort, and low price.

The HiFiMan HE400S was the only model of all those we tested that every panelist agreed was worthy of our recommendation. It matched or exceeded the performance of any under-$500 competitor we tested, and it’s relatively affordable at about $300.

The HE400S has a decent amount of bass compared with most other open-back models. Unlike the competition, the HE400S headphones also play at a fairly loud volume when connected straight to a smartphone; it’s nice to be able to plug your headphones directly into your phone or computer when you just want to give something a quick listen. This pair is also one of the more comfortable models we tested, and since the earpieces fold flat, you can quickly slip the HE400S between a couple of shirts in your suitcase. The cable is easily detachable and replaceable in case you damage it, too.

Another great choice, with a different sound

The Sennheiser HD 600 headphones are superb for jazz, classical, and folk music, in particular.

If our top pick is out of stock, or if your taste runs more mellow, give the Sennheiser HD 600 a spin. The HD 600 headphones have a classic sound that fans of jazz and classical music are likely to love; this model is also a nice choice if you value a full, rich, and relaxing sound but don’t lust after every last detail.

A lower-priced choice for audiophiles

Fostex’s T20RP mk3 is billed as “open for deep bass,” while the T50RP mk3 is billed as “semi-open for flat and clear sound.”

If you want the magic of big audiophile headphones but need to keep your budget below $200, Fostex has two models worthy of recommendation. The company markets the T50RP mk3 and the T20RP mk3 as pro models, but they work well for music listening at home. Both are sensitive enough to deliver plenty of volume from a smartphone, and both are extremely comfortable.

Audiophile sound for less than $100

The Grado SR80e delivers the big, open-back sound audiophiles love at a bargain price.

If you want the full-on audiophile experience but have only $100 to spend, get the Grado SR80e. These headphones produce much of the same big, spacious sound as we heard from the HE400S. Grado headphones all sound treble-heavy, emphasizing instruments such as cymbals and acoustic guitar, and bringing out the breathiness in woodwinds and the upper notes of a piano, but you’ll get a reasonable amount of groove, too.

The ultra-low-budget choice

The Fostex TH-7BB doesn’t deliver as spacious a sound as big open-back models, but it does a really good job for its price.

Fostex’s TH-7BB is technically a semi-open-back model, and it might be the least open-sounding of all the sets we tested. Still, the fact that three of our four panelists really liked it, and that you can pick it up for less than $80, makes this recommendation an easy one. In fact, panelist Geoff Morrison thought the TH-7BB sounded better than most of the other open-back and semi-open-back headphones we tested, regardless of price.

Wrapping up

If you want to get in on the big, spacious, natural sound of open-back headphones, we think the best way to start is to choose the HiFiMan HE400S. If you want a mellower sound, go for the Sennheiser HD 600. If you want something for about half the price, try the Fostex T50RP mk3 (or the T20RP mk3 if you like a little more bass). And if you want open-back sound for less than $100, try the Grado SR80e or the Fostex TH-7BB.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

12
Feb

Google gives My Maps for Android a much-needed revamp


Google’s My Maps for Android hasn’t received a lot of affection lately, but the company is making up for that in style. It quietly released a big upgrade to the custom mapping app that, on top of a “new look and feel,” throws in features that arguably should have been there ages ago. You can see Street View imagery for all your map points, to start with — you’ll know what your destinations look like on the ground without having to jump to Google Maps. You can also see photos and videos that were added on the web, and the app should be much faster as a whole. Give it a spin if you’re planning a big trip, or just want to document your favorite haunts.

Source: Google Play

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