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The Almighty Buck

Amazon Debuts a Dedicated Shop For Kickstarter Products (techcrunch.com) 3

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Today, Amazon announced it's teaming up with Kickstarter to offer those successful Kickstarter products a way to reach more customers through a dedicated section on Amazon's website. Via www.amazon.com/launchpad/kickstarter, the online retailer is now featuring a group of over 300 Kickstarter products across a variety of categories, like electronics, books, home and kitchen, movies and tv, and more. The products can also be browsed by theme, like STEM products, "Always be Learning," "Exquisite Objects," "Inventing the Future," and "Public Benefit," for example. The new Kickstarter section is actually an expansion on Amazon's Launchpad platform, launched a year ago. In July 2015, the retailer debuted a dedicated portal that offered both marketing and sales for hardware and physical goods from younger tech companies. Today, Amazon says it has now worked with over 100 VCs, accelerators and crowdfunders and has helped more than 1,000 launch products across the U.S., the U.K., China, Germany, and France. All startups who participate in Launchpad receive custom product pages, a comprehensive marketing package, and access to Amazon's global fulfillment network, the retailer notes.
Businesses

Comcast Excited To Have Lost 4,000 TV Subscribers This Spring (consumerist.com) 28

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Consumerist: Comcast has released their second quarter results and they are happy to announce that they lost 4,000 TV subscribers in the last three months. Why are they so happy to announce such a loss? Because, compared to the same time last year where they lost 69,000 TV subscribers, the loss this year is much better for them. Comcast said in a statement to investors that "video customers net losses improved to 4,000, the best second quarter result in over 10 years." That Consumerist reports: "That means that for the most than a decade, the best Comcast can do in April to June of every year is to lose only 4,000 TV subscribers. At this time last year, Comcast reported 22.3 million TV subscribers, and at the same time this year, they report roughly 22.3 million TV subscribers. The major driver of increased subscriptions comes, as you'd guess, from broadband. Comcast reports an increase of 220,000 broadband customers in the second quarter which, in the overall growth of the company, entirely offsets a lost of 4,000 TV viewers."
Piracy

James Cameron: Theater Experience Key To Containing Piracy (torrentfreak.com) 222

Director James Cameron says that the key to containing movie piracy is preserving the theater experience as something special. He made the remarks when reporters asked him about his views on Sean Parker's upcoming streaming service Screening Room which will reportedly allow users to watch a new movie on the same day as its theatre release. From a TorrentFreak article: Cameron believes that having first-run movies in the home will stop people heading off to the cinema, the place where filmmakers can really showcase their art and take the fight to piracy. "The biggest hedge against piracy is still the sanctity of the viewing experience in a movie theater -- when it comes to movies," he says. "With The Walking Dead or something like that, that's not what you're selling, but if we're talking about movies and theatrical exhibition, keeping it great, making it a special experience, is still the biggest hedge against [piracy]." Interestingly, Cameron also says that even if piracy somehow became legal and download speeds were drastically improved, viewing content outside the theatrical setting would still come up short. "You're still watching [movies] on a small platform, and it's not that social experience," he explains.
Google

Google Play Rolls Out Family Sharing (usatoday.com) 34

Google on Wednesday announced a new Google Play feature dubbed Family Library that allows up to 6 people to share apps, movies, books purchases. It will roll out to people in the next 48 hours in 12 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the U.K., and the United States) and requires people to sign up and add family members (you can add your friends as family member). The announcement is mostly in line with a CNET report from earlier this month. USA Today reports: The feature will allow users to share apps, games, movies, TV shows or books from Google Play on Android devices. Movies, TV shows and books can be shared on iOS platforms and the Web. After a user signs up for the Family Library, the person adds up to five family members and decides on the credit card that will be used for the families purchases. Eunice Kim, head of families for Google Play said a unique feature of Google Play compared to other family sharing initiatives is that family members can also choose to pay with their personal credit card or with gift cards. The same user who organized the family can control who below the age of 18 needs permission to purchase content.The feature is strikingly similar to an option in Apple's App Store that does the same thing.
Nintendo

Nintendo NX Is a Portable Console With Detachable Controllers, Says Report (eurogamer.net) 132

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Eurogamer.net: We now have a good idea as to what the Nintendo NX will consist of thanks to a new report from Eurogamer. According to a number of sources, Nintendo's upcoming NX will be a portable, handheld console with detachable controllers. Eurogamer.net reports: "On the move, NX will function as a high-powered handheld console with its own display. So far so normal -- but here's the twist: we've heard the screen is bookended by two controller sections on either side, which can be attached or detached as required. Then, when you get home, the system can connect to your TV for gaming on the big screen. A base unit, or dock station, is used to connect the brain of the NX -- within the controller -- to display on your TV. NX will use game cartridges as its choice of physical media, multiple sources have also told [Eurogamer]. Another source said the system would run on a new operating system from Nintendo. It won't, contrary to some earlier rumors, simply run on Android. [...] The system will harness Nvidia's powerful mobile processor Tegra. Graphical comparisons with current consoles are difficult due to the vastly different nature of the device -- but once again we've heard Nintendo is not chasing graphical parity. Quite the opposite, it is sacrificing power to ensure it can squeeze all of this technology into a handheld, something which also tallies with earlier reports. Finally, we've heard from one source that NX planning has recently moved up a gear within Nintendo ahead of the console's unveiling, which is currently slated for September. After the confused PR fiasco of the Wii U launch, the company is already settling on a simple marketing message for NX -- of being able to take your games with you on the go."
Television

Subscribers Pay 61 Cents Per Hour of Cable, But Only 20 Cents Per Hour of Netflix (allflicks.net) 169

An anonymous reader writes from a math-heavy report via AllFlicks: The folks at AllFlicks decided to crunch some numbers to determine just how much more expensive cable is than Netflix. They answered the question: how much does Netflix cost per hour of content viewed, and how does that compare with cable's figures? AllFlicks reports: "We know from Netflix's own numbers that Netflix's more than 75 million users stream 125 million hours of content every day. So that's (roughly) 100 minutes per user, per day. Using the price of Netflix's most popular plan ($9.99) and a 30-day month, we can say that the average user is paying about 0.33 cents per minute of content, or 20 cents an hour. Not bad! But what about cable? Well, Nielsen tells us that the average American adult cable subscriber watches 2,260 minutes of TV per week (including timeshifted TV). That's equivalent to 5.38 hours per day, or 161.43 hours per 30-day month. Thanks to Leichtman Research, we know that the average American pays $99.10 per month for cable TV. That means that subscribers are paying a whopping 61.4 cents per hour to watch cable TV -- more than three times as much as users pay per hour of Netflix!"
China

Chinese Giant LeEco Buys Vizio For $2 Billion, Gets Instant Foothold In US Market (phonedog.com) 55

Chinese electronics conglomerate LeEco is purchasing American TV manufacturer Vizio for $2 billion, the company announced at a press conference in China on Tuesday. The announcement effectively gives LeEco, formerly known as LeTV, an instant foothold in the U.S. television market. For a refresh, for those who haven't heard much about LeEco, it's one of China's biggest electronics companies. Founded in 2004, it offers a range of services including live-streaming, e-commerce, cloud, smartphones, TV set-top boxes, and smart TVs among many other products and services. One of the recent areas where it has invested its time on is an electric car, which we talked about here a few weeks ago. From a report: Vizio is primarily known for its televisions, like the P-Series sets that we recently unboxed, but they've also dipped their toes into Android. For example, Vizio released a 10-inch tablet a few years ago, and the aforementioned P-Series TV set ships with a 6-inch Android tablet that you use as a remote. Once Vizio is acquired by LeEco, it'll be operated as an independent subsidiary and the current management will remain in California. LeEco CEO Jia Yueting commented on the deal, saying, "We hope that we can use the ecosystem model and create a great integration between Vizio and LeEco and create new values for U.S. users."Having talked to the executives of LeEco in the past few months, I understand that the company intends to bring its products to the American market before its rival Xiaomi does. Xiaomi also intends to bring its smartphones and TVs to the U.S. and European market, but is currently dealing with different regulations.
Movies

Slashdot Asks: What's Next For Netflix? (500ish.com) 187

What does the future hold for Netflix? The company first earned a name for itself over a decade ago renting DVDs via mails in an era when Blockbuster used to laugh at the mere idea of DVDs-by-mail. It then moved to offering online streaming service way before most of the companies. As VC and former journalist MG Siegler writes, Netflix was always ahead of the curve. But the market -- and the demand from the market is changing, again. To address that, the on-demand streaming service has over the past three-four years started to invest heavily in getting exclusive rights for movies and TV shows, as well as make its own original content. But this time, Netflix is facing immense competition from its rivals -- and its moves aren't that unpredictable. It's also worth pointing out just recently, the company's decision to hike prices led its stocks to tank. Siegler writes: The streaming content game is now hyper competitive. And even the streaming original content game has gotten extremely competitive. And this means it has gotten extremely expensive. The result has been great for us, the users, as we do seem to be in a golden age of television-like content, even if it's being delivered via streaming "channels" like Netflix. With 54 Emmy nominations this year, second to only HBO, Netflix is seemingly closing in on what they set out to do once again. They've become HBO faster than HBO has been able to become Netflix. Of course, HBO still has the warm blanket of cable operator fees to keep them cozy; Netflix's model has them a bit out in the cold in that regard. So, again, what's next? Is it VR? Something else? Don't tell me it's 4k. Worldwide expansion is huge, but that's really just growing into the last business. What's the next business pivot?What you, Slashdot readers, think Netflix's next move will be? Or do you think the company will soon become just another name in its respective category?
Sci-Fi

Star Trek's 50th Anniversary Celebrated at Comic-Con (deadline.com) 106

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Leonard Nimoy's 59-year-old son released a trailer for his upcoming documentary, For The Love Of Spock. CBS released a video teaser for their upcoming Star Trek: Discovery series. And Schmaltz brewery released a "Trouble With Tribbles" beer.

It was all part of the festivities celebrating the 50th anniversary of CBS's original Star Trek series at this year's Comic-Con festival in San Diego, which culminated with an all-star panel of actors from previous Star Trek TV series. William Shatner, Michael Dorn, Brent Spiner, Jeri Ryan, and Scott Bakula all reminisced on the phenomenon of the show's fan culture, with Dorn telling the audience that Apple's iPad was inspired by Star Trek technology. And Brent Spiner told the audience, "We're in a time now where identity is under attack... Politicians could learn from Star Trek."

Businesses

Comcast To Offer Pay-As-You-Go TV, Broadband Service (dslreports.com) 43

An anonymous reader quotes a report from DSLReports: Comcast plans to roll-out prepaid cable TV and internet services later this year in portions of Illinois and four other states. According to a company announcement, Comcast's Xfinity Prepaid Services lets users sign up for TV or internet services and renew service for seven or 30 days at a time -- instead of paying by the month. A one-time setup fee of $80 includes equipment and 30 days of service, with users paying $15 for an additional seven days and $45 for an additional 30 days. "We want to create an easy, pay-as-you-go option for people who want more flexibility and predictability when buying our services," said Marcien Jenckes, Executive Vice President, Consumer Services, Comcast Cable. "And our partnership with Boost Mobile will give Xfinity Prepaid customers even more places where they can conveniently sign-up and pay-as-they-go."
Movies

Man Builds $1.5 Million Star Trek-Themed Home Theater (cepro.com) 161

CIStud writes: This $1.5 million "Star Trek" home theater is the envy of every geek on the planet. The theater is a reconstruction of the bridge of the Starship Enterprise from "Star Trek: Next Generation" and also includes $1 million worth of memorabilia from the classic sci-fi TV show. The home theater was created by financier Marc Bell with the help from Jay Miller of Boca Raton-based Acoustic Innovations. The two started working on the home cinema in 2002 -- before construction of Bell's house even began -- and it took them four years to complete. CEPro reports: "A D-Box controller manipulates hydraulics installed beneath the floorboards, meaning the entire room shakes when anything loud happens on screen. The room also includes a JBL Synthesis sound system, which at the time of installation was only used in commercial theaters. The audio system is currently being upgraded to Dolby Atmos specifications and Bell plans to install a 4K projector. A big movie fan, Bell has had over 3,500 films digitized, which are stored and streamed through a Kaleidescape server. He also spent approximately $35,000 on a Prima Cinema system, allowing him and his family to watch films at home the day they are released in commercial cinemas. A wraparound control center surrounds the 11 custom leather chairs in the theater, eight of which recline into beds, while the doors that open into the theater are exact replicas of the Turbolift doors as seen on the TV show. When someone steps on the circular "transporter," the doors open with that familiar "whoosh" sound." Bell apparently likes to spend his money on others too. He has rented a local movie theater for every Star Trek film released in the past 25 years and has taken all of his employees, friends and their children along on opening night. The Wall Street Journal posted a video on YouTube of the home theater.
Movies

'The Wolf of Wall Street' Movie Was Financed With Stolen Money, Says DOJ (nydailynews.com) 160

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NY Daily News: Federal officials charged a $3.5 billion Malaysian money-laundering scheme helped finance the Leonardo DiCaprio movie "Wolf of Wall Street" -- the Hollywood tale that parallels the corruption charges. U.S. officials seek to recover $1.3 billion of the missing funds, including profits from the Martin Scorsese-directed movie that earned five Oscar nominations. The conspirators used some of their illicit cash to fund Scorsese's tale of "a corrupt stockbroker who tried to hide his own illicit profits in a perceived foreign safe haven," said U.S. Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell. DiCaprio famously played the lead role of convicted fraudster Jordan Belfort, who was ordered to repay $110 million to 1,500 victims of his scam. The identified conspirators included movie producer Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, the prime minister's stepson, and businessman Low Taek John, a friend of Najib's family. A third scammer identified only as "Malaysian Official 1" was widely believed to be Najib. Court papers indicated that $681 million from a 2013 bond sale went directly into the official's private account. The nation's attorney-general, Mohamed Apandi, came to Najib's defense Thursday, expressing his "strong concerns at the insinuations and allegations" brought against the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Apandi's office, after investigating the $681 million bank deposit, announced in January that the funds were a donation from the Saudi royal family. The prime minister wound up returning most of the cash. Federal officials, in their California court filing, indicated they were hoping to seize proceeds from the 2013 movie, along with luxury properties in New York and California, artwork by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, and a $35 million private jet. Investigations of 1MDB are already underway in Switzerland and Singapore, with officials in the latter announcing Thursday that they had seized assets worth $176 million. This is shaping up to be the largest U.S. Justice Department asset recovery action in history.
Crime

Feds Seize KickassTorrents Domains and Arrest Owner In Poland (arstechnica.com) 300

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Federal authorities announced on Wednesday the arrest of the alleged mastermind of KickassTorrents (KAT), the world's largest BitTorrent distribution site. As of this writing, the site is still up. Prosecutors have formally charged Artem Vaulin, 30, of Ukraine, with one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of criminal copyright infringement. Like The Pirate Bay, KAT does not host individual infringing files but rather provides links to .torrent and .magnet files so that users can download unauthorized copies of TV shows, movies, and more from various BitTorrent users. According to a Department of Justice press release sent to Ars Technica, Vaulin was arrested on Wednesday in Poland. The DOJ will shortly seek his extradition to the United States. "Vaulin is charged with running today's most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials," Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said in the statement. "In an effort to evade law enforcement, Vaulin allegedly relied on servers located in countries around the world and moved his domains due to repeated seizures and civil lawsuits. His arrest in Poland, however, demonstrates again that cybercriminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice." KickassTorrents added a dark web address last month to make it easier for users to bypass blockades installed by ISPs.
Businesses

Verizon Begins Charging a Fee Just to Use an Older Router (dslreports.com) 180

Karl Bode, reporting for DSLReports: Several users have written in to note that Verizon has informed them the company will begin charging FiOS customers with an older router a new "Router Maintenance Charge." An e-mail being sent to many Verizon FiOS customers says that the fee of $2.80 will soon be charged every month -- unless users pay Verizon to get a more recent iteration of its FiOS gateway and router. Since Verizon FiOS often uses a MOCA coax connection and the gateway is needed for Verizon TV, many FiOS users don't have the ability to swap out gear as easily as with other ISPs. "Our records indicate that you have an older model router that is being discontinued," states the e-mail. "If you do plan to keep using your current router, we will begin billing, on 9.29.16, a monthly Router Maintenance Charge of $2.80 (plus taxes), to ensure we deliver the best support."
Movies

Pixels Are Driving Out Reality (vice.com) 302

An article on Motherboard today investigates the reasons why people didn't go "oh-my-god, that was awesome" looking at the CGI-based scenes in the recent movies such as Independence Day: Resurgence, Batman v Superman and X-Men: Apocalypse. Though the article acknowledges that this could be the result of some poor-acting, spotty storyline, or bad editing, it also underscores the possibility that this could be the aftermath of a "deeper mechanism that is draining all substance from our cinematic imaginary worlds?" The author of the article, Riccardo Manzotti to make his case stronger adds that the original Alien movie was able to impress us because what we saw was strongly linked to actual life. From the article: The humongous spaceship Nostromo -- a miniature model -- provoked awe and respect. When the creature erupted from Kane's abdomen -- a plaster model encased in fake blood and animal entrails -- people were horrified. The shock was registered on the faces of the actors, who, per Ridley Scott's direction, weren't told ahead of time that the moment would include a giant splatter of blood. "That's why their looks of disgust and horror are so real," producer and co-writer David Giler said. Manzotti further argues that some of the modern movies haven't left us awe-inspired because there is just too much CGI content. Compared to 430 computerized shots in the original Independence Day movie, for instance, the new one has 1,750 digitized shots. "People have been looking at pixels for much too long," the author argues, adding: Our imaginary world has been diluted and diluted to the point that, so to speak, there is no longer even a stain of real blood, love, and pain. Nowadays, when spectators see blood, they see pixels. [...] VR and augmented reality and the steady pace of CGI have pushed the process of substitution of reality to a higher level. At least, movies were once made using real stunts and real objects. Now, the actual world is no longer needed. The actual world, which is the good money, is no longer required. The virtual world, the bad money, is taking over. Yet, it lacks substance. The author makes several more compelling arguments, that are worth mulling.
Television

Star Trek CBS Series To Be Streamed Internationally On Netflix (variety.com) 161

An anonymous reader writes: Netflix has announced that it has secured a deal to stream every episode of the new Star Trek TV series within 24 hours of its original network broadcast. However, neither the U.S. nor Canadian subscribers are included in the deal, which otherwise covers every territory that Netflix operates in worldwide. Stateside viewers will be able to stream the new show via CBS's own All Access digital subscription video-on-demand and live streaming service, with Canadian streaming provisions yet to be announced. The deal represents a potential major step forward in the company's determination to bypass regional licensing, and at one stroke eliminates the typical years of delay that occur when a U.S. program seeks foreign audiences.
Opera

Chinese Consortium's $1.24B Bid To Acquire Opera Software Fails, $600M Deal Agreed Instead (tech.eu) 85

The $1.24 billion takeover of Opera Software by a Chinese consortium of internet firms has failed, Opera said on Monday. The deal did not receive the required regulatory approval in time of a final deadline. But they will be doing some business. The consortium will now acquire only certain parts of Opera's consumer business, including its mobile and desktop browsers, for $600 million on an enterprise value basis. Tech.eu reports: What will not be acquired by the consortium is: Opera Mediaworks, Apps & Games and Opera TV. In 2015, Opera says these business units combined delivered revenues of $467 million. The company will report second-quarter results on August 31, 2016.
Government

Patriot Act Expansion Fails In The House (thehill.com) 93

An anonymous reader write: The "Anti-terrorism Information Sharing Is Strength Act" failed in the U.S. Congress on a vote held earlier this week. "Many libertarians warned of potential privacy violations if the measure went into effect," reported The Hill, "which helped prevent it from reaching the necessary two-thirds majority to pass through the fast-track process under which it was considered." The bill would've expanded the number of crimes which would trigger the expanded investigation powers, including crimes covered by the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. "The Patriot Act should not be casually expanded," warned the House Liberty in a statement, arguing the bill would "permit the government to demand information on any American from any financial institution merely upon reasonable suspicion."
In a related story, a new campaign ad is criticizing Senator Russ Feingold for being the only Senator to vote against the original Patriot Act in October of 2001. Shipped to TV stations Thursday night, its narration begins "Islamic terrorists slaughtering innocents. And when Congress gave law enforcement the tools to keep Americans safe from international terror, only one senator voted no: Russ Feingold." After Friday's attack in Nice, Feingold's opponent attempted to reschedule the ads until a later date, but was unable to stop them from airing on at least three stations.
Businesses

Theresa May Reshuffles Cabinet, Warns Amazon and Google of Power Shift (arstechnica.co.uk) 227

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Ars Technica: British Prime Minister Theresa May has given a stern warning to big business, telling the public to "think not of the powerful, but you." Specifically, she singled out Google and Amazon for dodging taxes and creating a lot of parliamentary scrutiny. Ars Technica reports: "May has been quick to stamp her brand of conservatism on her party by letting go of key members of Cameron's cabinet. She has so far sacked big hitters such as chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne, justice secretary Michael Gove, and culture secretary John Whittingdale. Philip Hammond now has the keys to Number 11, but we're still waiting to hear who will replace Whittingdale, whose remit included the rollout of super fast broadband in the UK. He's also the man behind the White Paper on the future of the BBC, which sought radical changes at the public service broadcaster. So far, 10 cabinet positions have been announced by May. They include Justine Greening as secretary of state for education, and Liz Truss becomes justice secretary, while former London mayor and key Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson -- to the surprise of many -- now heads up the foreign office. May has handed her home secretary job to Amber Rudd -- who will now be responsible for the government's push for greater online surveillance laws. Rudd was previously the minister for energy and climate change." David Davis is now in charge of withdrawing the UK from the European Union. David has for many years "opposed the government's attempts to bring in a so-called Snoopers' Charter." Ars Technica writes, "He's also currently suing the UK government over DRIPA -- legislation that was rushed through by the Tories after the European Court of Justice had ruled that the Data Retention Directive was invalid for failing to have adequate privacy safeguards in place."
Television

Apple Launching Reality TV Show Called 'Planet of the Apps' (venturebeat.com) 62

theodp writes: The Verge reports Apple is making good on an earlier threat to create a reality TV show about app developers. An open casting call has been issued for "Planet of the Apps," with the goal of finding "100 of the world's most talented app creators" -- news which VentureBeat suggests must be making Steve Jobs' ghost weep. Apple has teamed up with Propagate, a new production company created by the producer of "The Biggest Loser." The description of the show says: "Join us on the search for the next great app in a new original series. Those selected will have the chance to receive hands-on guidance from some of the most influential experts in the tech community, featured placement on the App Store, and funding from top-tier VCs." The show is expected to be released in 2017.

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