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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

The STM Myth backpack got us stopped by airport security — for compliments

Backpacks are usually selected for the storage capacity or protective capability. The STM Myth does all that, but manages to do so with a style that few others can match. Here’s what it’s like.

The post The STM Myth backpack got us stopped by airport security — for compliments appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

Gillmor Gang: Next

The Gillmor Gang — Keith Teare, Esteban Kolsky, Frank Radice, Michael Markman and Steve Gillmor . Recorded live Saturday December 22, 2018. 2019 — the year to come in review. Tech, Trump, Connected TV: products, services and streams that could make a difference.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@kteare, @ekolsky, @fradice, @mickeleh, @stevegillmor

Liner Notes

Live chat stream

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook


Source: TechCrunch

The New Horizons probe buzzes the most distant object ever encountered first thing tomorrow

Four billion miles from Earth, the New Horizons probe that recently sent such lovely pictures of Pluto is drawing near to the most distant object mankind has ever come close to: Ultima Thule, a mysterious rock deep in the Kuiper belt. The historic rendezvous takes place early tomorrow morning.

This is an encounter nearly 30 years in the making, if you count back to the mission’s beginnings in 1989, but it’s also been some 13 years since launch — the timing and nature of which was calculated to give the probe this opportunity after it had completed its primary mission.

New Horizons arrived at Pluto in the summer of 2015, and in its fleeting passage took thousands of photos and readings that scientists are still poring over. It taught us many things about the distant dwarf planet, but by the time it took its extraordinary parting shots of Pluto’s atmosphere, the team was already thinking about its next destination.

Given the craft’s extreme speed and the incredibly distant setting for its first mission, the options for what to investigate were limited — if you can call the billions of objects floating in the Kuiper Belt “limited.”

In fact the next destination had been chosen during a search undertaken in concert with the Hubble Space Telescope team back in 2014. Ground-based reconnaissance wasn’t exact enough, and the New Horizons had to convince Hubble’s operators basically to dedicate to their cause two weeks of the satellite’s time on short notice. After an initial rejection and “some high-stakes backroom maneuvering,” as Principal Investigator Alan Stern describes it in his book about the mission, the team made it happen, and Hubble data identified several potential targets.

Ultima Thule as first detected by New Horizons’ LORRI imager.

2014 MU69 is a rock of unknown (but probably weird) shape about 20 miles across, floating in the belt about a billion miles from Pluto. But soon it would be known by another name.

“Ultima Thule,” Stern told me in an interview onstage at Disrupt SF in September. “This is an ancient building block of planets like Pluto, formed 4 billion years ago; it’s been out there in this deep freeze, almost in absolute zero the whole time. It’s a time capsule.”

At the time, he and the team had just gotten visual confirmation of the target, though nothing more than a twinkle in the distance. He was leaving immediately after our talk to go run flyby simulations with the team.

“I’m super excited,” he told me. “That will be the most distant exploration of any world in the history of not just spaceflight, but in the history of human exploration. I don’t think anybody will top that for a long time.”

The Voyagers are the farthest human-made objects, sure, but they’ve been flying through empty space for decades. New Horizons is out here meeting strange objects in an asteroid belt. Good luck putting together another mission like that in less than a few decades.

In the time I’ve taken to write this post, New Horizons has gone from almost exactly 600,000 kilometers away from Ultima Thule to less than 538,000 (and by this you shall know my velocity) — so it’ll be there quite soon. Just about 10 hours out, making it very early morning Eastern time on New Year’s Day.

Even then, however, that’s just when New Horizons will actually encounter the object — we won’t know until the signal it sends at the speed of light arrives here on Earth 12 hours later. Pluto is far!

The first data back will confirm the telemetry and basic success of the flyby. It will also begin sending images back as soon as possible, and while it’s possible that we’ll have fabulous pictures of the object by the afternoon, it depends a great deal on how things go during the encounter. At the latest we’ll see some by the next day; media briefings are planned for January 2 and 3 for this purpose.

Once those images start flowing in, though, they may be even better in a way than those we got of Pluto. If all goes well, they’ll be capturing photos at a resolution of 35 meters per pixel, more than twice as good as the 70-80 m/px we got of Pluto. Note that these will only come later, after some basic shots confirming the flyby went as planned and allowing the team to better sort through the raw data coming in.

“You should know that that these stretch-goal observations are risky,” wrote Stern in a post on the mission’s page, “requiring us to know exactly where both Ultima and New Horizons are as they pass one another at over 32,000 mph in the darkness of the Kuiper Belt… But with risk comes reward, and we would rather try than not try to get these, and that is what we will do.”

NASA public relations and other staff are still affected by the federal shutdown, but the New Horizons team will be covering the signal acquisition and first data live anyway; follow the mission on Twitter or check in to the NASA Live stream tomorrow morning at 7 AM Pacific time for the whole program. The schedule and lots of links can be found here.


Source: TechCrunch

NYSE operator’s crypto project Bakkt brings in $182M

The Intercontinental Exchange’s (ICE) cryptocurrency project Bakkt celebrated New Year’s Eve with the announcement of a $182.5 million equity round from a slew of notable institutional investors. ICE, the operator of several global exchanges, including the New York Stock Exchange, established Bakkt to build a trading platform that enables consumers and institutions to buy, sell, store and spend digital assets.

This is Bakkt’s first institutional funding round; it was not a token sale. Participating in the round are Horizons Ventures, Microsoft’s venture capital arm (M12), Pantera Capital, Naspers’ fintech arm (PayU), Protocol Ventures, Boston Consulting Group, CMT Digital, Eagle Seven, Galaxy Digital, Goldfinch Partners and more.

Bakkt is currently seeking regulatory approval to launch a one-day physically delivered Bitcoin futures contract along with physical warehousing. The startup initially planned for a November 2018 launch, but confirmed this morning an earlier CoinDesk report that it was delaying the launch to “early 2019” as it awaits permission from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Along with the funding, crypto news blog The Block Crypto also reports Bakkt has hired Balaji Devarasetty, a former vice president at Vantiv, as its head technology.

ICE’s crypto project was first announced in August and is led by chief executive officer Kelly Loeffler, ICE’s long-time chief communications and marketing officer. Bakkt quickly inked partnerships with Microsoft, which provides cloud infrastructure to the service, and Starbucks, to develop “practical, trusted and regulated applications for consumers to convert their digital assets into U.S. dollars for use at Starbucks,” Starbucks vice president of payments Maria Smith said in a statement at the time.

Many Bitcoin startups floundered in 2018, despite record amounts of venture capital invested in the industry. This was as a result of failed initial coin offerings, an inability to scale following periods of rapid growth and the falling price of Bitcoin. Still, VCs remained bullish on Bitcoin and blockchain technology in 2018, funneling a total of $2.2 billion in U.S.-based crypto projects — a nearly 4x increase year-over-year. Around the globe, investment hit a high of $4.6 billion — a more than 4x increase from last year, according to PitchBook.

“Notably, 2018 was the most active year for crypto in its brief ten-year history,” Loeffler wrote. “This was evidenced by rising investment in distributed ledger technology and digital assets, as well as by blockchain network metrics such as daily bitcoin transaction value and active addresses. Yet, these milestones tend to be overshadowed by the more narrow focus on bitcoin’s price, which has been seen by some, as a proxy for the potential of the technology.”

Today, the price of Bitcoin is hovering around $3,700 one year after a historic run valued the cryptocurrency at roughly $20,000. The crash caused many to dismiss Bitcoin and its underlying technology, while others remained committed to the tech and its potential for complete financial disruption. A project like Bakkt, created in-house at a respected financial institution with support from noteworthy businesses, is a logical bet for crypto and traditional private investors alike.

“The path to developing new markets is rarely linear: progress tends to modulate between innovation, dismissal, reinvention, and, finally, acceptance,” Loeffler added. “Each step, whether part of discovery or adversity, ultimately strengthens the product. Twenty years ago, it was controversial to suggest that commodities or bonds could trade electronically on a screen, and many steps were required for that evolution to play out.”


Source: TechCrunch

Steam to drop support for Windows XP and Vista on January 1

Windows XP and Windows Vista will no longer be supported by Steam starting January 1. Although you might be able to run an offline machine for XP gaming, Valve is keen to push everyone to upgrade.

The post Steam to drop support for Windows XP and Vista on January 1 appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

The future of the media industry in the new year

2018 was a year of massive mergers and acquisitions, with AT&T/Time Warner, Disney/Fox and Comcast/Sky. The #MeToo movement made headlines, and the dominant emotion in boardroom discussions around Hollywood and beyond was fear … lots of fear in the ranks of our tech-infused world of media and entertainment (as well as in the world itself).

So what does the crystal ball predict for 2019?

Here are some of the narratives that will shape the world of entertainment next year and set the stage for the roaring 20s of the media industry.

PREDICTION #1 – Blood continues to spill in the relentless battle amongst premium OTT video giants, as Apple and Disney join the subscription video fray and add to the epic collective assault on Netflix. In the midst of it all, smaller “niche” players either find their singular voices that attract “fandom” and broader monetization, or risk being marginalized and swallowed up by their strategic investors (for a fraction of what they would have commanded a couple years back). 

Originals continue to be the primary weapon used in the premium subscription streaming video battlefront, extending media’s new “Golden Age” for creators and further skyrocketing content-related development and production costs (including the price tags for A-list marquee talent). Fierce premium OTT video competitors increasingly use content both offensively and defensively, like Disney withholding its crown jewels from Netflix (Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, Princesses, X-Men, Avatar). Netflix feels the heat, as will its investors, as the collective crew of “Netflix-Killers” put increasing pressure on its pure-play business model.

Meanwhile, the newly expanded list of virtual MVPDs (multi-channel video program distributors) fix their initial flaws, offer consumers real competitive choice, and hasten consumer cord-cutting even further.  Whereas we started 2016 with 2-3 real, viable mainstream choices in the U.S. for live television, as of 2019, consumers now can access nearly 10 (cable, satellite, Hulu Live, YouTube TV, DirecTV Now, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, fuboTV, etc.). And, even in these nationalistic times, let’s not forget about massive international players like Tencent, Alibaba or Baidu’s iQIYI, which went public in the U.S. markets this past year.

Amidst this battle of video giants, several smaller so-called “niche” or segment-focused video players either expeditiously find their uniquely compelling voice and build a fandom-fueled multi-pronged monetizing brand around it, or simply get lost in the noise.

FILE – This June 27, 2015, file photo, shows the Hulu logo on a window at the Milk Studios space in New York. Hulu said Monday, Aug. 8, 2016, that the company is dropping the free TV episodes that it was initially known for as it works on launching a skinny bundle of streaming TV. (AP Photo/Dan Goodman, File)

PREDICTION #2 – Media-Tech driven M&A continues to rule the day in all segments. On the video side, both traditional media companies and undercapitalized and underperforming privately-held new media companies languish in this beyond-crowded OTT video space and become logical M&A targets.

M&A is a hallmark of the overall digital, multi-platform tech-infused transformation of the media and entertainment business. Just like AT&T closed its acquisition of storied traditional (yet slow-moving) Time Warner ($85 billion), Disney beat back Comcast to acquire Fox’s entertainment assets in 2018 ($71.3 billion), Comcast struck back and acquired Sky ($39 billion), and SiriusXM acquired the remaining 81% of Pandora it didn’t already own ($3.5 billion), expect more massive deals in 2019, together with a number of smaller, yet still significant ones. Viacom/CBS is one likely candidate.

And don’t just look within U.S. borders. No virtual wall exists in our borderless new media world, which means that M&A’s pace will accelerate internationally as well. Remember, the Comcast/Sky deal represents a U.S. behemoth’s ambitions to significantly expand its footprint into multiple European territories. Lots of mega-companies around the globe desperately hope to expand their footprints to places where, up to now, they have never been.

To be clear, not all M&A will flow from weakness. Sometimes the numbers offered simply will be too high to reject. But make no mistake. Weakness will abound amidst hyper-competition, and winners will swallow up losers in an environment of accelerating M&A. Many of the so-called niche-focused OTT video services still primarily rely upon ad dollars (especially the younger ones), but remember, Google and Facebook already own about 2/3 of that global digital advertising market. That means that most pure-play OTT video players simply cannot succeed on ad dollars alone. And, for most, other means of monetization will be beyond their reach, as they fail to deliver a sufficiently compelling, differentiated and emotionally connected media experience. So, much like Uproxx did this past year when Warner Music Group acquired it (likely for a song), expect several of the new media players to lose their Indie status.

PREDICTION #3 – The music industry’s streaming-driven turnaround continues and streaming revenues accelerate, but pure-play music services led by Spotify continue to hemorrhage money as losses mount. Meanwhile, the giant “big box” retailers of the day — Apple, Amazon and YouTube (particularly YouTube) — brazenly march on, indifferent to that suffering with their fundamentally different underlying marketing-driven business models. 

Yes, Spotify boasts massive scale. Yet, scale alone does not financial success make. In fact, pure-play growth success leads to higher and higher losses due to sobering industry economics these pure-plays can’t stomach, but the behemoths can due to their multi-pronged business models. These harsh realities mean that investors of many pure-play streaming music services will take a hard look at themselves in 2019 as they contemplate their next strategic next steps. Many will realize that they can’t go it alone. And that leads to more M&A, much like we saw this past year with SiriusXM buying Pandora and LiveXLive buying Slacker. Spotify is not immune here. Unless it successfully expands its business model and drives major new revenue streams, it too could be bought. Facebook anyone?

 

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 03: The Spotify banner hangs from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on the morning that the music streaming service begins trading shares at the NYSE on April 3, 2018 in New York City. Trading under the symbol SPOT, the Swedish company’s losses grew to 1.235 billion euros ($1.507 billion) last year, its largest ever. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

PREDICTION #4 – Tech-driven media companies thrive and increasingly dominate the entertainment world by using data to their advantage. They use AI, voice and machine learning to dominate further and even more broadly infiltrate our lives and impact our media and entertainment experiences.

Netflix, Amazon and Facebook increasingly mine their deep data about all of our hopes and dreams to maximize “hits” and minimize “misses” as compared to traditional media companies. In many respects, the studios simply can’t compete. Faced with that reality, the quest for data — and the services that provide, analyze and inform – takes on new urgency. Further, the Hollywood establishment and creative community still have yet to understand – at least in large numbers — the power of new cost-effective tech-driven ways to test and measure new characters, stories and engagement in order to more smartly and efficiently place their big expensive bets.

Meanwhile, the new tech-driven media giants hope to increase their overall Media 2.0 dominance through the soothing voices of Alexa and Siri (sorry Google, yours is a little less so) and the overall AI/machine learning revolution. “Virtual assistants,” “smart speakers” (or whatever you want to call them) increasingly dominate our home conversations, improve significantly over time, and serve up our favorite content via “intelligent” recommendations (as well as increasingly targeted and smarter incentives, promotions, ads and goods). 71% of us already use voice assistants at least once per day (most frequently for selecting the music we like to hear), so voice most definitely is here to stay.

More exotically, and perhaps somewhat alarmingly, AI also increasingly drives so-called “intelligent” creation. AI already develops movie trailers that some believe approach the impact of their human-generated counterparts. You be the judge — check out the first AI-produced movie trailer, care of IBM’s Watson, for the fittingly AI-themed 2016 motion picture thriller Morgan. And, just imagine how much AI has advanced in just these past two years since then. Can AI screenwriters be far behind?  Gong Yu, founder and CEO of China’s leading streaming platform iQIYI certainly doesn’t think so. In his words, AI “will reshape the entertainment industry over the next 10-15 years, much more so than the Internet did over the past three decades.”  Just chew on that for a bit.

So, AI may become a real threat even to creative pursuits that, up to this point, most in Hollywood believe are untouchable by computers, bots, and robots. Tesla maven and global futurist Elon Musk is downright dystopian and takes things even further, warning that AI may be an ultimate global threat to us all. Musk tweeted in 2017 that “competition for AI superiority at national level most likely cause of WW3.”   Those were his precise words, so that was either Musk’s particular form of Twitter-speak, or his mind had become a bit hazy during one of his notorious cannabis-fueled interviews!

Amazon is releasing a software development kit that will let developers integrate Alexa into smart screen devices.

PREDICTION #5 – Behemoths Apple, Google and Facebook, together with other tech-driven media giants and deep-pocketed financiers from around the world, increase their already-massive investments in immersive technologies and accelerate mainstream adoption of AR.

AR’s gold rush means continued growth in the related wearables market and consumer adoption of AR-driven eyewear. Investors of all stripes also continue to throw boatloads of cash into the overall immersive space to fuel the development of experiences (including real world live entertainment and storytelling, not only games) to feed these new platforms. Expect significant investment in content. The immersive market opportunity is still so nascent, yet its ultimate promise is so great, that the money working to capture it in 2019 and beyond will seem endless. And, when so much money chases a market, that market becomes our consumer reality.

The onset of 5G wireless networks will only hasten the growth of extended reality (XR) in all its forms. Speaking of 5G …

Attendees look at 5G mobile phones at the Qualcomm stand during China Mobile Global Partner Conference 2018 at Poly World Trade Center Exhibition Hall on December 6, 2018 in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province of China.

GUANGZHOU, CHINA – DECEMBER 06: Attendees look at 5G mobile phones at the Qualcomm stand during China Mobile Global Partner Conference 2018 at Poly World Trade Center Exhibition Hall on December 6, 2018 in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province of China. The three-day conference opened on Thursday, with the theme of 5G network. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

PREDICTION #6 – 5G Networks launch, reveal their early media and tech promise and possibilities, and begin to transform our media and entertainment experiences (as well as the overall ecosystem that supports them). 

5G networks are critical for media experiences that require low latency, including AR, VR, and eSports. For AR, 5G reduces the size of consumer headsets, because processing is now done on the network itself rather than on the device. That makes wearables increasingly user-friendly and fuels further innovation and adoption. 5G also accelerates more high quality video consumption on our mobile phones, thereby pushing purveyors of premium OTT video like Netflix to increasingly focus on mobile-first content experiences.

Jeffrey Katzenberg’s and Meg Whitman’s new mobile-driven Netflix-like premium video service Quibi (formerly NewTV) certainly saw this train coming, and jumped on first.

PREDICTION #7 – The oft-overlooked, yet potentially game-changing, live entertainment and event plank increasingly finds itself in multi-platform Media 2.0 strategies, deepening overall brand engagement and monetization possibilities. Expect more significant “offline”-related experiments, initiatives and M&A by both traditional and new tech-driven media companies.

Call this the “Amazon Effect,” as players across the Media 2.0 ecosystem stop scratching their heads about Amazon’s direct-to-theater film releases, brick and mortar retail expansion, and Whole Foods superstore operations – and, instead, increasingly study, respect and emulate them. Netflix certainly did in 2018. After trashing Amazon one year earlier for releasing its features first in theaters, Netflix announced it would begin to do the same.

Amazon understands what most still haven’t even considered – that direct, non-virtual offline consumer engagement may be the most impactful plank of them all, driving online engagement into the real world (and then back again) to create a virtual cycle of daily brand engagement and consumer monetization every step of the way. Even traditional media company Viacom now shows signs of understanding these online/offline brand synergies. It bought both youth-focused video industry conference VidCon and music festival SnowGlobe in 2018.

So, while MoviePass may go the way of the Dodo bird in 2019, movie theaters themselves will not die. They simply will be re-imagined. We humans, after all, are social creatures. We like to get out, and we won’t be satisfied binging on Netflix alone. Movie theater subscription services most definitely are here to stay, and Amazon will offer one soon for Prime members. After all, in a fun fact that may surprise you, more museums populate the planet – significantly more – than McDonald’s. See, there is hope!

ANAHEIM, CA – JUNE 23: General view of panelists at the 7th Annual VidCon at Anaheim Convention Center on June 22, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Tara Ziemba/WireImage)

PREDICTION #8 – The #MeToo Movement continues to transform the face (and faces) of both old and new media. And, new faces will invest new industry dollars in new (and frequently very different) content choices, bringing us new (and frequently different) stories and transforming our media and entertainment experiences.

Revelations aren’t over. Abuse was simply far too pervasive. Old players are gone. New, frequently younger, tech-driven media savvy faces get a seat at the decision-making table. They change the game of “what” and “how” we experience content.

Ultimately, #MeToo both cleanses the overall new media industry, and fills our plates with very different media and entertainment choices.

(Staff photo by Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

PREDICTION #9 – Fake news, fraud and breaches of privacy continue unabated and accelerate, as does marketing concern for “brand safety.”  These seemingly unstoppable negative forces continue to place downward pressure on ad-dependent open platforms. 

Make no mistake, we are in the midst of hacking wars, the likes of which we’ve never seen. This “good versus evil” reality is here to stay, and players across the tech-driven media and entertainment ecosystem either significantly increase their investments in counter-measures and related PR, or risk the wrath of consumers and the overall ad market (much like Facebook did this past year).

Twitter cleaned 70 million fake and automated accounts in a two month span last year (and 1 million more daily), Instagram conceded that over 50% of engagements on its posts tagged as #sponsored are fake, Spotify similarly conceded prevalent ad fraud and decreased its total reported content hours streamed by hundreds of millions of hours, and competing music service Tidal faced accusations that it had falsified tens of millions of streams. Just a few examples of how pervasive fraud and audience manipulation has become in our Media 2.0 world. These fake accounts create, in the words of Variety“a shadow army of followers that has comparatively little monetary effect. But perform the same manipulation with music streams, and it constitutes fraud.” 

Image: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

PREDICTION #10 – Blockchain technology and crypto-currency-fueled investment and experimentation, already over-hyped and under-performing, continues apace. Yet, once again, there will be little to show for it in the world of media and entertainment. At least for now.

Early blockchain leaders continue to be irrationally overvalued, which is always the case with any nascent market. But, on a happier note, the voice of blockchain technology – heard thus far mostly in investment circles with promises of “instant millions” (or even billions) – becomes increasingly heard for its more positive potential for the world of media and entertainment. Blockchain technology conceptually holds revolutionary industry-transforming new offensive and defensive power. On the offensive front, blockchain enables new ways to monetize content via micropayments and direct creator-to-consumer distribution sans today’s leading middlemen. These possibilities begin to reveal themselves in 2019. On the defensive front, blockchain promises to eradicate piracy, but that happens in years, not this coming year.

The bottom line

2019 certainly will push 2018’s Media 2.0 boundaries noticeably further, driven by these and other industry meta-forces. But, these changes will be barely noticeable compared to the seismic shifts to follow in the next ten years.

I close with Paramount futurist Ted Schilowitz’s perspective on all of this. In our conversation, Ted points to two phenomena — the first of which he calls “the known unknown,” and the second he calls “the ten year curve.”  “The known unknown” refers to what he calls the “scary” fact that we all know that massive tech-driven change is coming, but we don’t know the “twists and turns that get us there.”  Meanwhile, “the ten year curve” refers to “big dynamic change waves” that follow ten-year cycles. In Ted’s view, we just recently finished the YouTube and iPhone 10-year cycles, and now essentially everyone around the globe participates in those dual phenomena.

So, what’s “the next big thing?”  Ted calls it the “the evolution of the screen” – so-called “visual computing” via new forms of eyewear (wearables) that replace our smartphones. Think Minority Report-like data and content interaction, and you get the general idea. “Surprisingly little has changed with human/screen interaction in the past 30 years,” Ted points out. He reminds me that while user interfaces have become more sophisticated, actual screen interaction is not massively different — comparing interaction on Mac screens 30 years ago and on iPhones today.

That is all changing right now — as you sit, read and soak in Ted’s thoughts either in print, or more likely on your own v.2019 screen. According to Ted, we are only about 3.5 years into this 10-year visual computing cycle. “In 2013-2014, we saw the first idea of commercializing a track-able screen, a spatial screen. That is a massive change. We will fundamentally change how we use our screens. I see a very distinct future where these things will emerge from their cocoon and replace the iPhone, laptop, etc. You will notice an evolution of 30 minutes per day, then one hour, then two hours, etc.” 

Think that overstates things a bit?  Well, Ted cautions you this way. “It’s the exact same paradigm shift we saw with mobile phones decades ago. Just imagine back then that you would – decades later (i.e. today) — carry a device with you almost every waking moment of your waking life. Even Bill Gates would have said that is ridiculous.”

Yet, here we are. Today. In that “unimaginable” world. That’s how fast it goes.

Ted is adamant about this inevitable “evolution of the screen” reality, and he is convincing. “I know the next evolution is coming. All of these experiments today are on their way to something really, really significant. 2019 will be very subtle in this revolution. Still for the early adopter, because none of these head mounted immersive devices today will replace our smart phones. But the constant and continuous evolution of this tech is happening.


Source: TechCrunch

A future Surface could have a nifty magnetic USB-C connector

Microsoft has been ambivalent about adopting USB-C connectivity, but there now is a reason to believe that future versions of its Surface devices might as well have a nifty magnetic USB-C mechanism.

The post A future Surface could have a nifty magnetic USB-C connector appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

Are rightsholders ready for public domain day?

On January 1, 2019, the New Year will ring in untold numbers of additions to the public domain in the U.S., including hundreds and maybe thousands of works with at least a small public reputation. This, of course, is due to the expiration of the terms of their copyrights, some of which have been extended multiple times since the 1960s. 

This is a good thing from many perspectives, including that of authors, publishers, museum curators, teachers, old-book readers and music and film buffs. It possibly may be a slightly bad thing for a few people — primarily certain estates representing long-dead authors and other creators.

What’s a “term” in the context of copyright?

The duration, or term, of U.S. copyright is set by Congress, and has gradually crept up over time from the original 14 years (plus 14 more if the author was still alive and renewed the copyright) — in Thomas Jefferson’s time — to a whopping “life of the author plus 70 years,” as set by the 1998 “Copyright Term Extension Act” (CTEA, which extended it from life plus 50).

For works first published between 1909 and 1978, the maximum term was finally set by Congress at 95 years (assuming the author complied with a whole lot of rules, alluded to below).  And for post-1978 works, in instances where the author/creator is not a human being (such as a business commissioning a “work made for hire” under rules developed in the case-law) or the work was published under a pseudonym for an unknown person, the term can be as long as 120 years! The copyright in a work, duly registered at the time that registration was required (pre-1978), may never have been renewed, and so its protection may have quietly lapsed some time ago; for many more obscure works, it’s hard to know.

Fun fact: This Copyright Term Extension Act is also known as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. Congress named it in memory of the composer of “I’ve Got You, Babe,” who, as a member of Congress from Southern California, was among the authors of the bill; he unfortunately happened to die while it was being worked on in committee. Prior to 1978, the term of U.S. copyrights was determined by fixed terms of years, subject to publication, registration and notice requirements. Here are more details on that.

How do works pass into the public domain?

Currently, works pass into the public domain according to a complex schedule, combining (sometimes awkwardly) the rules of various laws implemented over the past century.

Bear in mind, however, that many works have passed (or “fallen” or “lapsed,” as the older phrases had it) into the public domain in the U.S. for reasons other than term expiry, even during the 20 years of the CTEA extension. According to the law in effect prior to 1978, if the work was published but never registered in the U.S. Copyright Office, it did not receive protection under copyright law; a work might also not be protected by U.S. copyright law if it lacked proper notice — the © symbol and the proper wording — or if the work’s registration was not renewed after its first 28-year term expired. Or if, as a work of the federal government, it never enjoyed copyright protection in the first place.

Qui Bono? (get it?)

As it turns out, it is not just re-publishers of “classic” texts, such as Dover Thrift Editions, which benefit when new works become available. Textbook and educational publishers frequently re-use old short stories and essays in larger collections, and a work of marginal utility might become more attractive as a potential addition to these collections once the cost of clearing the rights is reduced.

For example, a few years ago a 1922 story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” (whose U.S. copyright had lapsed) was adapted into a feature film. To me, the lesson to be gleaned is that many works of the early 20th century still appear to bear some cultural cachet (or at least continuing value to society) — such that more no-cost access to these works (by their passing from copyright protection to the public domain) should have the overall effect of helping them find new audiences.

Note: Bear in mind, all of these examples are simply illustrative — without a full and careful copyright search, it is difficult to be certain of the copyright status of almost any work. On that, more below.

New works coming into the U.S. public domain also will have the effect of giving researchers new texts to run Text and Data Mining (TDM) algorithms across. It also may add to the richness of film and cultural studies.

Mark Twain proves this isn’t so easy

Unfortunately, determining when a work has in fact “fallen” into the public domain due to the term of its copyright having expired is not always as simple as one might hope.

For example, one might think that everything ever laid down by the pen of Mark Twain (S.L. Clemens, d. 1910) would be in the public domain by now. But, since he left a treasure trove of unpublished works, their copyright protection has extended for many years after his death, because, under pre-1978 law, those works’ copyright protection would not start until the works were published. The distinction between published and unpublished works has been discarded under post-1978 law, but won’t be fully effective for another 30 years. So, some items in the microfilm edition of Twain’s letters and manuscripts (their first publication) are still considered to be under copyright. He’s also enjoyed considerable success recently with the full and final publication of his autobiography.

Twain, a student of intellectual property, steadfastly argued for a perpetual copyright, but he came to realize that this was not permitted under the copyright clause of the U.S. Constitution, which refers to “securing [protection] for limited times.” But, in an age when copyright only protected works for which registrations had been obtained, he did point out that most books wouldn’t be affected by a longer term at all — for the vast bulk of them had no commercial life remaining to them a very few years after their initial publication:

One author per year produces a book which can outlive the forty-two-year limit; that’s all. This nation can’t produce two authors a year that can do it; the thing is demonstrably impossible. All that the limited copyright can do is to take the bread out of the mouths of the children of that one author per year.

I made an estimate some years ago, when I appeared before a committee of the House of Lords, that we had published in this country since the Declaration of Independence 220,000 books. They have all gone. They had all perished before they were ten years old. It is only one book in 1000 that can outlive the forty-two-year limit. Therefore, why put a limit at all? You might as well limit the family to twenty-two children.

– S.L. Clemens, in testimony to Congress, concerning proposed copyright legislation (1906)

“Forever minus a day,” another idea which has been occasionally bruited about (particularly by Congressman Bono and his widow, who was later elected seven times in her own right to Congress), would not constitute much of an effective limit, and so would, I believe, violate the Constitutional limitation; 95 years (an estimated average of the “Life plus 70” term) seems closer to a natural lifespan for a copyright — to me at least. If you and your heirs somehow can’t get the commercial value out of your work before nearly a century is out, I think there’s a takeaway lesson there.

On the other hand…

… some works do have cultural lifespans exceeding the term of copyright. The estates of certain literary, film and musical creators may stand to lose when the copyright in some of the works in their respective repertories lose copyright protection due to the lapse of their terms. For some examples of works entering the public domain on January 1, 2019, that may still have financial value to the author/creator’s heirs: Hemingway’s “Three Stories and 10 Poems” was first published in 1923; it was also the year of release for “Safety Last!” a silent film from Hal Roach Studios, starring Harold Lloyd, which many people remember. The same year saw the first publication (of the sheet music) for “Who’s Sorry Now?” which was a hit recording for Connie Francis in 1958.

But, on balance, “Nothing gold can stay,” as Robert Frost observed in a poem slated — I’m pretty sure — to enter the public domain on January 1st.* The reading, listening, and viewing public should expect to be the main beneficiary of these works entering the public domain. Indeed, 95 years is a good run for the commercial exploitation of a work. Now it’s everybody else’s turn to benefit.

*If it hasn’t already. Copyright searches, on the detail level, can be quite difficult and time-consuming. See: https://www.copyright.gov/rrc/. For any proposed commercial republication, it is certainly the course of wisdom to consult with an attorney and have a full copyright search done.


Source: TechCrunch

Experiencing some lag on your Chrome OS tablet? A fix is on the way

Some consumers are reporting plenty of lag with Chrome OS devices when they drag down from the top of the screen to look at all their open apps in overview mode. Google has been working on a fix since the middle of November

The post Experiencing some lag on your Chrome OS tablet? A fix is on the way appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

Ryan Reynolds shares a behind-the-scenes peek at Detective Pikachu – CNET

Get a closer look at the main character in the upcoming live-action Pokemon movie.
Source: CNET

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