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December 21, 2014

Dish Network’s latest squabble turns off Fox News, Business channels

March Madness Streaming

Stop us if you've heard this one before: Dish Network is without a couple of channels tonight because it couldn't reach a deal with major media company. After Turner and CBS, this time it's Fox. The dispute between the two is only affecting the Fox News and Fox Business channels, although Dish Network says the problem is that Fox wanted to bring some of its other channels into renewal negotiations, and blames the broadcaster for the blackout. Specifically called out are sports and entertainment channels (Fox Sports, FX, FXX?) Dish claims Fox wanted to triple its rates on. Of course, Fox has its own version of the events, claiming Dish is the one doing the blocking, and lauding the news channel's "nearly two decades without a blackout. For now, we'll just call this one a weekend break from the drone of cable news (the truly concerned can check out each side's propaganda websites -- Fox, Dish) and will let you know if anything changes.

Fox:

It is disappointing that, after nearly two decades without a blackout, FOX News Channel has been blocked by DISH Network. We care deeply about our viewers and hope that they will regain access to the number one cable news channel soon. We will continue to work around the clock to reach an agreement with DISH, as we have done with every other pay-TV provider for 18 years. This is the third time in as many months that DISH customers have suffered through a blackout due to DISH's intransigence. DISH's record speaks for itself, and makes its rhetoric about 'reasonable' agreements ring hollow

Dish Network:

"It's like we're about to close on a house and the realtor is trying to make us buy a new car as well," said Warren Schlichting, DISH senior vice president of programming. "Fox blacked out two of its news channels, using them as leverage to triple rates on sports and entertainment channels that are not in this contract."

This service disruption comes despite DISH's offer of a short-term contract extension that would preserve the channels as the two parties continue to negotiate.

"DISH has had a productive relationship with Fox for many years," added Schlichting. "We regret the service disruption to our customers, and remain committed to reaching an agreement that promptly returns this content to DISH's programming lineup."

[Image credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS]

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Source: Dish Stands For You, Keep Fox News, Dish

December 21, 2014

Judge says police can create fake Instagram accounts to see photos

Instagram on Android

Many would argue that cops cross the line when they impersonate people on social networks to catch suspects, but that doesn't mean that fake accounts are always off the table. In a recent opinion, New Jersey district judge William Martini contends that police don't need search warrants to create bogus Instagram accounts for the sake of seeing a suspect's photos. As Martini explains, it's "consensual sharing" -- the perpetrator is both making these pictures public and willingly providing access to others. That's bad news for Daniel Gatson, an alleged burglar who insisted that law enforcement needed probable cause (that is, reasonable belief that there's evidence of a crime) to peek at an Instagram feed laden with shots of cash and jewelery.

The fake is still bound to raise eyebrows, but it's on safer ground than previous attempts at creating undercover social accounts. Impersonation isn't an issue here, so the police aren't misrepresenting someone else. And unlike Facebook, Instagram doesn't require that you use your real identity -- an imaginary persona is fine according to the terms of service. This opinion doesn't guarantee that other courts will rule the same way, but it could influence their decisions the next time officers use internet services to gather evidence.

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Source: Ars Technica

December 21, 2014

The future of VR, how the NFL uses the Surface Pro 2 and other stories you might’ve missed this week

It's been a busy week, folks: We spoke with Seahawks quarterback Russel Wilson about how the NFL uses the Surface Pro 2, interviewed RuPaul about "gaymers," learned that North Korea was the source of the Sony Pictures hack, and more. So sit back, relax and click on the gallery below. You know you want to.

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December 21, 2014

The US wants China’s help blocking North Korean hackers

A banner advertising 'The Interview' goes down

Apparently, the US is willing to recruit any ally it can get in its digital battles -- including countries that are frequently its adversaries. Sources for both the Associated Press and the New York Times claim that American officials have asked China to implement a block that would "cripple" North Korea's ability to launch cyberattacks like the one that hobbled Sony Pictures. Unfortunately, this request may be more than a little optimistic. China reportedly agrees that the attacks aren't cool, but it hasn't promised help. It doesn't exactly have much of an incentive to lend a hand when it's frequently engaged in cyberwarfare with the US.

Barring a change of heart, the US will likely have to resort to that proportional response it threatened against North Korea -- and details are emerging about that, too. Reportedly, the government is considering sanctions that would cut off North Korean leaders' access to cash, as well as internet attacks against their country's communications and military networks. The challenge is launching a digital assault that's damaging to the North's limited online infrastructure, but not so devastating that the nation retaliates in order to salvage its pride. As it is, the US may take its time developing any online attack strategy. Sabotage-oriented malware like Stuxnet (which many believe is a US creation) took years to develop, and even a relatively speedy campaign might take months.

[Image credit: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images]

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Source: New York Times, AP (Yahoo)

December 21, 2014

Google+ can automatically ‘enhance’ your mobile video recordings

Google's no stranger to tweaking your photos automagically, and now it's extending that expertise to video. By using Google+ and its auto-backup system for your media, Mountain View says it can adjust the lighting, color, stability and, soon enough, speech in any video you shoot. Just be sure to have Auto Enhance activated on your device and, well, that's the only thing you have to worry about actually. It's a bit different than what the search giant did with Auto Awesome videos, actually, and if you want to see an admittedly low quality sample, pop beyond the break.

The differences aren't jaw-dropping by any means, but the 240p video clip's color does look more saturated on the side-by-side comparison's right half. Of course, we'd like to see a better looking clip before making a judgment one way or another, however, the results are noticeable if a bit compressed and fugly. But hey -- at least it was shot in landscape view.

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Source: Tim St Clair (Google+)

December 21, 2014

Evernote now adds context to your memos on Android and Windows

Evernote's bringing Context, one of its more interesting announcements during its fourth conference in October, to Android and Windows. This feature, which was first made available to iOS and Mac users in November, pulls content (based on what you're typing, hence its name) from various sources and displays them on screen. By "various sources," we mean your old notes, your co-workers' notes and a handful of websites, which includes The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company and TechCrunch -- just click on an entry inside the Context panel to read it.

Some people expressed concerns about Evernote being able to "see" what you type the first time this feature went out. But like before, the company has assured users in its announcement post that it does "not share any information about you or your account with any publisher." Also, you can switch off all online sources via the Settings page. It's still only available for Premium and Business subscribers, though, so those who'd rather not pay for the service will have to Google terms the "old-fashioned" way.

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Source: Evernote, Google Play, Windows Phone

December 21, 2014

Here’s what astronauts aboard Orion will see during re-entry

Most of us will never be astronauts -- sorry to break it to ya -- but we can at least pretend to be aboard the Orion capsule with this video (below the fold), courtesy of NASA. Orion's camera captured 10 minutes of footage from the time it started blazing through Earth's atmosphere until it deployed its parachutes to slow down its descent into the ocean. You'll even see the plasma (created by friction between the atmosphere and the heat shield) change colors as the capsule speeds up and temperature increases. NASA launched a test flight of the Lockheed-made spacecraft in early December to test its components, especially its heat shield.

The agency needed to ensure it can survive reentry before it's used for manned missions, since the farther a spacecraft goes, the faster it hurtles through the atmosphere. Thus, Orion, which was always meant to be used for deep space exploration, will have to endure higher temperatures than a Soyuz spacecraft coming home from the ISS.

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Source: NASA, Twitter

December 21, 2014

Chromebooks are getting always-on ‘OK, Google’ voice search

Google is ready to up the level of Chromebook voice control, judging by a new, experimental release. According to François Beaufort, you can now say "OK, Google" to activate voice search on your Chrome OS notebook anytime the screen is on and unlocked. That always-on functionality has been available for a while now on Android phones and tablets, but until now, Chromebook users had to first open the app launcher or a new tab in Chrome. As it's still in the experimental stages, you must be running on the dev channel and enable the relevant flags, as shown in the source. Following a short voice training session, you'll be ready to start barking commands.

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Source: François Beaufort (G+)

December 21, 2014

Recommended Reading: The life and death of ‘The Colbert Report’

Recommended Reading highlights the best long-form writing on technology and more in print and on the web. Some weeks, you'll also find short reviews of books that we think are worth your time. We hope you enjoy the read.

President Obama Tapes An Interview For The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert Is Dead. Long Live Stephen Colbert
by Will Leitch, Bloomberg

Thursday night's episode marked the end of a nine-year run for the The Colbert Report. Don't worry though, the show's namesake is taking over for David Letterman in 2015, but until then, take a look back at what made Stephen Colbert's overly conservative hijinks so darn compelling. As Bloomberg's Will Leitch puts it, "The politics were (sometimes, though less and less as the show aged) the canvas, but the comedy was always the paint."

The Ultimate 'Serial' Think Piece, Written by Someone Who Has Never Listened to 'Serial'
by Brian Phillips, Grantland

What's that? You haven't listened to a single episode of that popular Serial podcast? Neither has Grantland's Brian Phillips, but that didn't stop him from penning a reaction to each installment.

Pocket

Why Wearables Should Be Free
by Hans Neubert, Fast Company

Frog's creative chief makes a case not only for companies giving away their wearable devices, but also for paying users for the data they collect. A failure to do so, he argues, could prevent widespread adoption from ever taking root.

Pocket

Exclusive Q&A: Deezer's New Chief Marketing Officer Aims for U.S. Market
by
Glenn Peoples, Billboard

Deezer arrived stateside recently, but competing against the likes of Spotify, Rdio and Pandora will be an uphill climb. Here's a glimpse at how the company plans to do it.

Pocket

The Business Insider Interview: Jeff Bezos
by Henry Blodget, Business Insider

Amazon's CEO opens up about the "millions of failures" he's made at the company, and how both successes and stumbles have turned the online retailer into the juggernaut it is today.

Pocket

[Photo credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

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December 21, 2014

Google lawsuit forces MPAA-backed attorney general to retreat

Tech Activists Protest SOPA And PIPA Bills

Remember that post Google put up this week that accused the MPAA of trying to resurrect the spirit of SOPA with the help of state prosecutors (that included evidence based on some of Sony Pictures' leaked emails)? It just turned into a lawsuit -- and it's already having an affect. The search giant has updated the page to explain that it's asking federal courts to dismiss a subpoena Attorney General Jim Hood sent to Google back in October. That 72-page document asserted that he believed that Google has violated the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act, and had failed to take actions to prevent crimes committed by using its services. Now that Google is suing, Hood made a statement via the New York Times, calling for a "time out" and saying he will call the company to "negotiate a peaceful resolution of the issues affecting consumers."

In its lawsuit, Google argues that Hood's subpoena is an affront to the company's constitutional rights (citing protections from both the First and Fourth Amendment) and, even if it wasn't, that issues of copyright fall exclusively under federal law. It goes on to say that the accusations made are damaging and false, and they contradict Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects web-services from taking the blame for the illegal acts of their users. Google is now asking federal courts to issue a temporary restraining order on the Attorney General and a preliminary injunction to protect it from potential injury. It's not an ideal situation, Google explained in its announcement post, but the company believes it's become necessary. "We regret having to take this matter to court," the company wrote. "We are doing so only after years of efforts to explain both the merits of our position and the extensive steps we've taken on our platforms."

[Image credit: Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]

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Via: Huffington Post

Source: Google (1), (2) (PDF), New York Times