California Senate Passes Amended Smartphone Kill-Switch Bill

Weeks after the California Senate voted down legislation that would require anti-theft tech in all new smartphones, it has now passed a revised version of the bill after Apple and Microsoft withdrew their opposition. While the legislation is applauded by law enforcement groups, it is still opposed by some wireless carriers, and could face an uphill battle in the state Assembly. If passed, kill-switch technology would be required for phones sold in California that are manufactured after July 1, 2015. Continue reading California Senate Passes Amended Smartphone Kill-Switch Bill

Netflix Raises Monthly Subscription Rate for New Customers

Netflix has raised its monthly price for new subscribers by $1 to $8.99, marking its first price increase in three years. CEO Reed Hastings recently announced that a price increase would likely be necessary to meet the rising costs of movies and TV shows. The video streaming service introduced a new $7.99 plan for subscribers not concerned with high-definition or the ability to stream programs on multiple devices, while a $11.99 premium plan lets users stream shows to four devices at once. Continue reading Netflix Raises Monthly Subscription Rate for New Customers

Los Angeles Mayor Launches Entrepreneur in Residence Program

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently announced the city’s Entrepreneur In Residence Program, an initiative sponsored by Ernst & Young. Garcetti has appointed two notable entrepreneurs — Krisztina “Z” Holly and Amir Tehrani — to help create jobs and develop ideas for boosting L.A.’s economy. In addition to developing new business policies, Holly and Tehrani will coordinate with non-profits, educational institutions and businesses to foster entrepreneurship. Continue reading Los Angeles Mayor Launches Entrepreneur in Residence Program

F8: Consumers Can Purchase Oculus Rift VR Headset in 2015

During Facebook’s F8 developer conference this week, an Oculus VR spokesperson said the company would likely release its Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets commercially next year. While there is no official word yet on a price tag or release date for the consumer version of Oculus Rift, the headset will require an ecosystem of games and entertainment. The Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 is presently on sale for $350, and is scheduled to begin shipping in July. Continue reading F8: Consumers Can Purchase Oculus Rift VR Headset in 2015

Pinterest Touts 30 Billion Pins, Sees Big Hit in Related Pins

Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann announced during an event in San Francisco last week that users of the social visual discovery tool have created more than 750 million boards and contributed more than 30 billion Pins since Pinterest was founded in 2010. Acording to Silbermann, the number of Pins has grown by nearly 50 percent during the past six months, due in part to the introduction of Related Pins about a year ago. More than 90 percent of current Pins are connected to Related Pins. Continue reading Pinterest Touts 30 Billion Pins, Sees Big Hit in Related Pins

Media Execs Gather at HITS 2014: Hollywood’s Digital Makeover

The Hollywood IT Society (HITS) — a community of IT professionals representing the studios of the MPAA and supporting information tech partners — hosted its annual day-long Hollywood IT Summit at the Hyatt Regency in Century City this week. Adapting to rapidly changing expectations for IT-related content production and distribution was the running theme at the April 22 event, where execs and creatives gathered to discuss network connectivity, cloud resources, big data, analytics, content management and more. Continue reading Media Execs Gather at HITS 2014: Hollywood’s Digital Makeover

Facebook Plans to Launch its Long-Awaited Mobile Ad Network

Facebook is expected to launch its mobile advertising network during the F8 developer conference in San Francisco at the end of this month. Facebook plans to leverage its massive user information database for better ad targeting, and will pitch the ads to publishers and developers. The social giant will also benefit from expanding its ad reach, and will allow the company to profit from its over 1 billion users even when they are not on the site itself. Continue reading Facebook Plans to Launch its Long-Awaited Mobile Ad Network

Carriers and Smartphone Makers Commit to Anti-Theft Tech

Last week, the five largest U.S. cellular carriers and leading smartphone makers announced a voluntary commitment to add new anti-theft tech to devices being released next year. Supporting companies include Apple, Google, HTC, Huawei, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia and Samsung. The commitment means that devices sold after July 2015 will have the ability to allow users to wipe data remotely, and prevent the device from being reactivated without permission from the owner. Continue reading Carriers and Smartphone Makers Commit to Anti-Theft Tech

Maker Studios Says Disney Offer Approved by Shareholders

Maker Studios announced that Disney’s offer to acquire the YouTube multichannel network (MCN) has been approved by a majority of its shareholders, despite Relativity Media throwing its hat in the ring with a surprise bid of $1.1 billion (mostly stock) on Sunday. Also, the Superior Court for the State of California in L.A. yesterday rejected a request by former Maker executives, including former CEO Danny Zappin, seeking to block the shareholder vote on the proposed Disney acquisition. Continue reading Maker Studios Says Disney Offer Approved by Shareholders

Microsoft Announces Studio-Grade Skype TX for Broadcasters

Microsoft’s latest messaging tech, Skype TX, integrates high-quality Skype calls into broadcasting. The new product, which bypasses ads and notifications, is studio-grade software that offers improved video and audio quality. It features HD-SDI video output and input, balanced audio output and input, auto aspect ratio conversion, support for multiple calls and API integration. Microsoft envisions TV shows, news programs and live events using Skype TX to connect with people outside of the studio. Continue reading Microsoft Announces Studio-Grade Skype TX for Broadcasters

In 2013, 71 Million People Watched Online Computer Gameplay

Last year, more than 71 million people worldwide watched other people play computer games, according to a report from games research company SuperData. More than half of those people were in the United States and one in five American gamers either watch or participate in eSports, or organized video game competitions. At the League of Legends Season 3 World Championship last year, 32 million people watched the professional gamers battle it out. Continue reading In 2013, 71 Million People Watched Online Computer Gameplay

USC Planning to Offer Journalism Course Using Google Glass

While developers consider a number of industries for which Google Glass may have useful applications, some are considering the headset’s potential use in the news business. Professor Robert Hernandez of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is offering a course this fall on Glass Journalism. “The class will consist of teams (Journalist, Designer, Developer) working together to research and develop different types of news apps designed specifically for the Glass platform,” reads a Tumblr post about the course. Continue reading USC Planning to Offer Journalism Course Using Google Glass

Warner Bros. Exec Discusses Moving Studio Archive to the Cloud

As part of the “Media Management in the Cloud” conference running at the NAB Show in Las Vegas this week, Brian McKay, executive vice president of production operations at Warner Bros., discussed the challenges and opportunities of moving the studio’s archive into the cloud. In one of the final sessions of the conference, which concluded late Wednesday, McKay appeared onstage with David Cohen, senior editor at Variety, for a one-on-one conversation. Continue reading Warner Bros. Exec Discusses Moving Studio Archive to the Cloud

Universal Studios Hollywood to Receive a $1.6 Billion Makeover

Comcast plans to renovate 70 percent of the California theme park, Universal Studios Hollywood, with thousands of parking spaces, improved transit, two 500-room hotels, and most importantly, new attractions designed to broaden their fan base. Several “Despicable Me” inspired attractions will open for young riders on Saturday. Other updates, including the highly anticipated “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” attraction, will be completed by 2016. Continue reading Universal Studios Hollywood to Receive a $1.6 Billion Makeover

NAB: DataFission Platform Aims to Search the Unsearchable

DataFission has developed generally applicable technology that can index, search and report on all forms of unstructured, metadata-free digital data. With deep roots in military research, this San Jose company has developed algorithms that can index files and streams of data, without human interaction, in one sweep. The system can index any type of data, including video, still images, music, audio tracks, text, software and metadata. According to its brochure, DataFission is “Solving the world’s problem of searching the unsearchable.” Continue reading NAB: DataFission Platform Aims to Search the Unsearchable

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