Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Very, Very Impressive

If you haven't already, check out:


It's part of the music genome project, a streaming radio station where you control the content.

Trust me on this one.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Google Dream Phone from TMobile

It may just spank Apple's iPhone... out this week for $179 at TMobile with a plan.

Biometric eye scanning, estimating your carbon output, way better GPS with daily planning...


Monday, September 22, 2008

RIAA Wants $750 per Downloaded Track


The record industry has unsuccessfully attempted to stamp out piracy by litigating against individuals for five years now. In that time, the RIAA has threatened more than 30,000 people with litigation, racking up millions in legal fees in the process, but without appearing to make any dent in copyright infringement.

In casting a wide net for non-commercial file-sharers, the RIAA has also disrupted the lives of innocent Web users and is now itself facing a class-action lawsuit brought by an exonerated defendant.

But none of that is slowing down the RIAA. On the contrary, the group is growing even more aggressive in its litigation efforts.

The latest news is that the group has rejected a judge's suggestion that the organization allow Whitney Harper to pay $7,400, or $200 a song, to settle allegations that she shared 37 tracks on Kazaa four years ago, when she was just 16. The judge previously ruled that Harper was an "innocent infringer" because she didn't realize she was doing anything illegal, and because Kazaa didn't warn users that music available on its network was pirated. While those facts might not be enough to exonerate her, they can reduce damages to something less than the usual $750 minimum.

But the RIAA is determined to extract at least $750 per track from her and has requested a trial on the issue of damages.

And that's not the extent of the RIAA's militancy. The group is now going after the defense attorney Ray Beckerman, asking that a federal district court judge impose sanctions for his "vexatious" conduct.

The RIAA appears especially aggrieved by Beckerman's blog, The Recording Industry vs. The People, where he posts publicly available motions in lawsuits involving the organization.

"Defendant's counsel has maintained an anti-recording industry blog during the course of this case and has consistently posted virtually every one of his baseless motions on his blog seeking to bolster his public relations campaign and embarrass plaintiffs," the group wrote in its motion for sanctions.

That motion, like others filed by the RIAA, remains available on Beckerman's blog.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cool Ferrofluid Video

The stuff some manufacturers use in speakers....


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Wilmington TV Switch Discovers Flaw

Seems those pesky analog signals were reaching more customers than the broadcasters thought... Viewers are losing channels.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

LP's Making a Comeback

Metallica's new release, "Death Magnetic," went on sale on Sept. 12, but fans who want the vinyl version may have to wait. Even when it was available for pre-order, the two-LP set was one of the fastest-selling music items on Amazon.com recently and is temporarily out of stock.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Next Generation Aircraft Carrier Contracted

Northrop Grumman Wins $5.1 Billion Navy Contract
Los Angeles Business Journal Staff

Northrop Grumman Corp. has received good news in the wake of the Pentagon’s decision to delay a lucrative Air Force tanker contract.
The U.S. Navy said it awarded the Los Angeles defense contractor a $5.1 billion contract to build its first next-generation aircraft carrier.

The USS Gerald R. Ford, named after the late president, will be the first of a new class of aircraft carrier in more than 40 years, and replace nuclear-powered Nimitz-class carriers that have been in service since the early 1970s. The new carrier is expected to launch in 2015.

The Navy said Ford-class carriers eventually will replace 11 carriers currently in service. Final cost estimate for the first new carrier is expected to be about $8.3 billion, which includes non-recurring costs associated with design and start-up.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Live Nation Signs Deal with SMG

Los Angeles Business Journal Staff

Ticketmaster shares plunged 18 percent on Thursday after Live Nation Inc. said it signed a seven-year deal to sell tickets at North American venues managed by SMG, one of the nation’s largest operators of arenas, stadiums and theaters.

SMG, which is owned by private equity fund American Capital LTD, is considered to be West Hollywood-based Ticketmaster's second largest customer. It manages such facilities as San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, Chicago's Soldier Field, and New Orleans' Superdome.

Live Nation is launching its own ticketing service to compete with its current vendor Ticketmaster once their contract expires at the end of the year. The agreement with the Philadelphia-based SMG helps move the Los Angeles concert promoter into the ticketing business beyond its own venues.

The deal, which will start in late 2009, should result in a 25 percent annual increase in the 13 million tickets the company expects to sell over the next seven years, Live Nation said.
Ticketmaster shares closed down $3.32 to $15.45 on the Nasday. Live Nation shares closed up $1.03, or 6.5 percent, to $16.90 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Sony Introduces 240Hz LCD HDTV Line

Will motion artifacts being a thing of the past?


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Licensing an IEEE Standard?

Network-1 (a bunch of lawyers that buy patents) is trying to get a fee from every Power Over Ethernet manufacturer....

Read: http://www.network-1.com/news/PR_063008.htm

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Megawatt Laser on a 747

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Boeing Co., and industry partners including Northrop Grumman Corp., recently fired a high-energy, chemical laser equipped on modified commercial aircraft that can shoot down ballistic missiles.

On Sunday, prime contractor Boeing and its partner Northrop Grumman, which designed and built the megawatt laser for the airborne laser aircraft, successfully fired the laser during a ground testing at Edwards Air Force Base in California -- proving that the laser will be capable of destroying a missile in flight.

Both companies, along with Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin Corp., are expected to provide further details on the ground testing during a conference call Tuesday.
The Missile Defense Agency's airborne laser aircraft is a modified 747-400F freighter, whose back half carries the high-enery laser.

Disney Uses Siemens for Ride Safety Systems

In an indication of just how seriously North American engineers are taking integrated safety in applications where life and limb are on the line, Walt Disney Imagineering and Siemens Energy & Automation have together been working on a PLC-based safety system for busbar powered rides.


Friday, September 5, 2008

iPhone Sound Level Meter

Not that didn't take too long, did it?


OK, it only goes up to 105 dB, it ain't ANSI, but it's in your pocket and it's $20. Another $25 adds a spectrum analyzer.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wilmington Goes Digital Early

The FCC has swarmed Wilmington to prepare it for next week's roll-out, but February's nationwide changeover looms as a much larger task.

By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer September 3, 2008

WILMINGTON, N.C. -- The future of broadcast television is set to premiere in this quaint seaside city next week. And the federal government is working hard -- too hard, some say -- to make sure it's a hit here.At noon on Monday, Wilmington's five commercial broadcast stations are scheduled to become the nation's first to permanently switch to all-digital signals, serving as a test of the government-mandated transition that other stations across the country will make in February.

Getting ready for the digital TV switch
Articles, links and info on the digital TV shift

"It's like landing on the moon," said Constance Henley Knox, general manager of CBS affiliate WILM. "We're making history."The change is the biggest for over-the-air television since the advent of color 50 years ago. The more efficient signals, which many stations already are transmitting, provide a much clearer picture and allow broadcasters to offer four or more programs at the same time on new sub-channels.But the end of analog broadcasts could leave many viewers who depend on rabbit ears and other antennas seeing nothing but static unless they upgrade their equipment. That's because older sets can't pick up the digital signals.

Although most people who get TV from cable, satellite or phone companies will be unaffected, viewers who rely on antennas need a digital TV or a special converter box.

So for the last four months, the Federal Communications Commission has lavished disproportionate attention on Wilmington, the nation's 135th-largest media market with 180,000 TV-watching households, to eliminate any chance the test run will flop.

A dozen FCC staffers have spent the summer crisscrossing the region like tourists to raise public awareness. They've visited the Poplar Grove Plantation farmers market and the Pender County Blueberry Festival. They've been to the 30th anniversary party for the public library in Elizabethtown and made friends at the Mae Coffee Shop in Whiteville. FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin has visited five times to spread the word.

By all accounts the region is ready after the unprecedented FCC effort, which supplemented an aggressive publicity campaign by broadcasters. In a recent survey of Wilmington-area residents by the National Assn. of Broadcasters, 77% of respondents knew when the switch was occurring."I don't think I've run into anybody who doesn't know about it," Louis Pillarella, a 68-year-old engineer from Wilmington, said last week during a digital TV expo where Martin and three FCC staffers answered questions.

But the all-out federal effort is a major reason a successful test of what one Wilmington station has dubbed "the big switch" could turn out to be a big illusion."It's great Wilmington has come forward and offered to be the canary in the coal mine," said Joel Kelsey, a policy analyst with Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine. "But we have several concerns about just how good a canary Wilmington is going to be."One is that no other place will get the type of personal oversight that the FCC has showered on Wilmington. Other media markets will be visited by only a single FCC commissioner, accompanied by a few staffers, for a couple of days.Another reason a successful test in Wilmington may not be indicative of success in the rest of the country: Only about 8% of the area's homes rely on antennas, compared with 12% nationwide, according to Nielsen Co.

What's more, its flat topography eliminates the problems some viewers in Los Angeles and other hilly areas could face trying to tune in to digital signals. Poor reception leads to frozen pictures or blank screens.FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps said he hoped a smooth transition in Wilmington wouldn't trigger complacency in Washington."

The worst thing would be if we all get in the airplane Sept. 8 and come home and say, 'That's that,' " said Copps, who proposed the test-market idea. "It's still such a huge leap that we're making. Even though we have this one little test, it still boggles my mind we're going to pull the lever on everyone else in February."

To free up more airwaves for public safety communications and wireless devices, the federal government mandated that all full-power TV stations permanently turn off their analog transmitters and broadcast only in digital by the end of the day Feb. 17. The millions of people with older TV sets who receive signals via antennas will need converter boxes, which typically cost $40 to $70. The government is subsidizing them through $40 coupons.Last year, a coalition made up of broadcasters and consumer and civil rights groups launched a nationwide public awareness effort. But some groups and members of Congress have criticized the federal government for not doing enough to assure an easy transition. The FCC sought a test market, and Wilmington's broadcasters volunteered.

Martin said Wilmington needed extra resources because it was making the transition early, and he declared that the test was already paying dividends. After seeing the benefits of having staffers on the ground there, Martin announced last month that FCC commissioners would fan out to the 80 markets with the most over-the-air-only households, including Los Angeles, between now and February. They plan to hold town hall meetings and other events to raise awareness and answer questions about the transition.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Don LaFontaine Dies

A short tribute video:

Don LaFontaine, the voice behind thousands of Hollywood movie trailers, many beginning with his trademark phrase "in a world where," has died. He was 68.LaFontaine died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center from complications in the treatment of an ongoing illness, said Vanessa Gilbert, his agent.

As the originator of the movie trailer catch-phrase, "In a world where," LaFontaine dominated the voiceover industry. He made more than 5,000 trailers in his 33-year career while working for the top studios and television networks.In a rare on-screen appearance in 2006, he parodied himself on a series of national television commercials for a car insurance company where he played himself telling a customer, "In a world where both of our cars were totally under water..."LaFontaine explained the strategy behind the phrase during an interview last year with The Associated Press.

"We have to very rapidly establish the world we are transporting them to," he said. "That's very easily done by saying, 'In a world where ... violence rules.' 'In a world where ... men are slaves and women are the conquerors.' You very rapidly set the scene."LaFontaine insisted he never cared that no one knew his name or his face, though everyone knew his voice.The voice that America came to know in movie houses and on television developed at age 13, when LaFontaine's prepubescent squeak began to grow deeper.

He went on to work in the promo industry during its infancy in the early 1960s. As an audio engineer, he produced radio spots for movies with producer Floyd Peterson.

When an announcer didn't show up for a recording session in 1965, LaFontaine voiced his first narration, a promo for the film, "Gunfighters of Casa Grande." The client, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, liked his performance.LaFontaine remained active until recently, averaging seven to 10 voiceover sessions a day. He worked from a home studio his wife nicknamed "The Hole," where his fax machine delivered scripts.LaFontaine is survived by his wife, the singer and actress Nita Whitaker, and three daughters.

His funeral arrangements were pending.