Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for July 17th, 2017

Netflix blows past 100 million subscriber mark

Posted by kenmay on July - 17 - 2017

A year after subscriber growth slowed due to price hikes, Netflix says ( PDF ) it added more US customers in the last quarter than it has since 2011. The company is now up to 103.95 million subscribers worldwide, up 5.2 million from last count . The company also unveiled a new strategy ( PDF ) for explaining its spending on content, that’s presumably more appropriate for its abundance of award-nominated shows . In the letter to investors, execs also discussed recent series cancellations , saying “As much as we dislike ending a series early, it consoles us that it frees up investment for another new show, or two.” The company has also topped 50 million paying customers in the US alone, and anticipates “the first ever annual contribution profit from our international segment” in Q3. Overall it’s rosy news for the streaming service, which plans to debut 40 movies this year. We’ll find out more during its tape-delayed investors call at 6PM ET, if there are any substantial updates (what’s bigger than the Stranger Things season two release date? ) we will add them to this post. Source: Netflix Q2 2017 Investor Letter (PDF)

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Popular open-source media player for Windows, Media Player Classic Home Cinema — or MPC-HC, has issued what it says could be the last update the app ever receives. The team writes: v1.7.13, the latest, and probably the last release of our project… For quite a few months now, or even years, the number of active developers has been decreasing and has inevitably reached zero. This, unfortunately, means that the project is officially dead and this release would be the last one. … Unless some people step up that is. So, if someone’s willing to really contribute and has C/C++ experience, let me know on IRC or via e-mail. Otherwise, all things come to an end and life goes on. It’s been a nice journey and I’m personally pretty overwhelmed having to write this post. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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As part of the Nicer Tuesdays series, Designer Weirdcore treats viewers to a rare historical overview of his concert visuals for Aphex Twin . (more…)

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More than $1 million in marijuana was found hidden inside brand new Ford Fusions at dealerships in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The automobiles were manufactured at plants in Mexico and somewhere along the way, the spare tire wheel wells were packed with pot. Talk about a dealer incentive! “We’re aware of the situation and are taking it very seriously,” a Ford Motor Company spokesman said Saturday. “We are working with the FBI and Customs on an extensive investigation. We have confirmed that this is not happening at our plant or at our internal shipping yards.” ( CNN )

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Rio Celeste is a gorgeous Costa Rican river with a length that’s famous for its unusual turquoise waters . After decades of guessing, scientists finally determined the cause was aluminosilicate: (more…)

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US Cyber Command may be splitting off from the NSA

Posted by kenmay on July - 17 - 2017

It sounds as though the United States’ Cyber Command will break off from the National Security Agency and be more aligned with the military in the future. The move would “eventually” cleave Cyber Command from the intelligence-focused NSA and instead align it more with the military, according to the Associated Press . “The goal is to give Cyber Command more autonomy, freeing it from any constraints that stem from working alongside the NSA, ” AP reports. The NSA’s core task of intelligence gathering sometimes is at odds with military cyber warfare operations, hence the proposed separation. Prior to this, the two had clashed on getting intel from Islamic State networks (the NSA’s task) and attacking (Cyber Command’s). But there are concerns that splitting off from the NSA could come at a cost. Specifically, Cyber Command’s access to the intelligence agency’s resources including some of the top mathematicians in the country and a “gigantic” super computer, according to AP ‘s sources. The moves to start the separation had begun under President Obama, and now the nitty gritty of how the “divorce” (our word) will proceed is up in the air. The result of that is uncertainty over staffing, resources and leadership. Currently both groups are led by the same person, Admiral Mike Rogers , but the shift could see new leadership for the NSA transfer to a civilian. Cyber Command may remain under military leadership under the Army’s Lieutenant General William Mayville. Mayville served as director of operations for the Joint Staff. This comes after the Cyber Command has gained a bigger seat at the table during military operations and an increased focus on using cyber warfare in places like Russia and the Middle East. Source: Associated Press

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One of the more tedious tasks of playing in a cover band is managing lyric and chord sheets. When you play a typical four-hour gig in a local bar, memorizing all that music is not always going to happen. You’ve got to study each song and learn your particular parts, sure, but having a cheat sheet with the verses and the chords on an iPad can really help keep you on track while you also manage your guitar, pedal effects and vocal performance. Gathering all this song data from the internet (or writing it out yourself) can take time. For me, the process usually involves finding the right transcription of the chords in the correct key online, copying the relevant bits from the web page and then creating a PDF on my computer for upload to Dropbox and my iPad so everyone can access it. An upcoming app called TabBank, currently in beta and set to release on July 27th, aims to simplify this process quite a bit, with a simple way to create and import chord sheets and tab right on an iPad or iPhone. Launching the app, you’ll see a fairly basic interface without any clutter to get in the way. You’ll get the option to create a new chart or read through the Getting Started guide, which explains that TabBank uses its own version of the ChordPro standard file type to edit your sheets. If you’re typing out your own music, you simply enter the chord name in brackets in front of the word you want it to appear over on the final product. You can even define new chords the app doesn’t already know with a line in the file that tells the app what strings and frets to use when previewing, like Cm7b5: x3434x. Tabs can be created with rows of dashes that represent the guitar strings; they will be formatted a bit more nicely when you’re done, and you can add hammer-on and pull-off notes as well. You can also format the font size into small, medium or large styles, and choose the from three different styles used for chords and lyrics. What makes TabBank extremely useful for me, however, is the way it pulls in tab and chord sheets from the internet. You’ll need to install a mobile Safari extension, and then navigate to any of your favorite portals, like Ultimate Guitar or E Chords . Once you find the version of the song you want to import, you hit the Share button in Safari and TabBank will pull in just the relevant portion of the music, ignoring all the ads and other cruft usually found on such sites. The song will then appear below the Create New Chart section in the main screen. You can tap the title and get a nicely formatted tab or chord chart in seconds, and you can edit it right in TabBank, as well. You can tap on any chord or tablature and TabBank will play it back with a basic MIDI guitar sound paired with a visual of the notes on a guitar neck. It might be helpful for newbies who need to know how to play a given chord, but it’s fairly bland when you’re trying to figure out a solo or rock riff. I pulled up AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” and, while accurate, the playback only sort of sounded like it should. This is more a limitation of MIDI and written tablature, though, and not a problem with the app itself. Once you’ve written out your chord sheet or imported one from your favorite website, you can export either a PDF or ChordPro file, which you can then share out to any other apps you like. It was incredibly easy to send a PDF to the app I use to manage lyric sheets and set lists on stage, Deep Dish’s GigBook . So far, TabBank seems like a great tool to use if you want to manage your guitar tab and chord sheets on your iPhone or iPad. Being able to get music from the web, edit it on my device and then send it to the setlist app I use saved me quite a bit of time; I look forward to using the app from here on out. The app should be out on the App Store July 27th, where it will be a free download with some in-app purchases to add printing and exporting PDFs and saving tabs from the web.

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An anonymous reader quotes ComputerWorld’s Woody Leonhard: I just received word from Gunter Born that Microsoft has pulled three of its Outlook patches… There’s no specific recommendation that you uninstall the yanked patches — indeed, there’s no description of the problems caused by the latest round — but earlier versions of the bad patches-of-patches had a nasty habit of crashing Outlook… Microsoft still hasn’t fixed any of the Office 2007 bugs it introduced in the June security patches. If you’re keeping score at home, the yanked patches are: KB 4011042 – July 5, 2017, update for Outlook 2010 KB 3191849 – June 27, 2017, update for Outlook 2013 KB 3213654 – June 30, 2017, update for Outlook 2016 Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Atari, in the hope of emulating the success of Nintendo’s Mini NES  and  Mini SNES , has unveiled the Ataribox—a modern console inspired by the legendary Atari 2600, which was first released in 1977. While technical details on the Ataribox are slim, Atari—or at least, the company that now goes by the Atari name after the original Atari went bankrupt in 2013—has revealed that the console will come in both red/black and wood editions, the latter paying homage to the 1977 original. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Play ‘Runescape’ seamlessly between your PC and phone

Posted by kenmay on July - 17 - 2017

If you’re an avid player of MMORPG RuneScape , then you should be paying attention to publisher Jagex’s announcement today. The UK-based game developer revealed that RuneScape and Old School RuneScape will be coming to both mobile and tablet devices. The games will feature fully interoperable play between PC and mobile devices; you can start your game on your computer and pick up seamlessly on your phone or tablet when you have to step away from your desk. Or you can play entirely on your mobile device; if you previously had a saved PC game, but now prefer mobile, you can pick up that computer game and play entirely on your tablet or phone going forward. Jagex’ Chief Operating Officer Phil Mansell says, “We believe in taking our games to wherever our players want them; recent player surveys showed an overwhelming 90% of active players and 64% of former players telling us of their very high intent to play on mobile.” That’s a high volume of players, especially considering that the ability to play on a phone or tablet might draw former players back to RuneScape . It’s nice to see game developers listening to their audiences and adding features that players will really use.

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