Monday, July 28, 2014

Ten images of Yosemite National Park


Ten images of Yosemite National Park


The Yosemite National Park is a 750,000 acre testament to the beauty of nature. The granite cliffs, raging waterfalls, and groves of giant sequoias come together to form a landscape that looks like it was hand crafted by God himself. Abraham Lincoln himself set the land aside for preservation in what was the first such act in American history. Check out these pictures and see what I’m talking about.


Ten images of Yosemite National Park


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Sunday, July 27, 2014

State district judge strikes down a Colorado city’s fracking ban


State district judge strikes down a Colorado city’s fracking ban


In an effort to protect the “state’s interest” in oil and natural gas, a Colorado state district judge struck down the city of Longmont’s voter-approved ban on hydraulic fracturing last Thursday.


Boulder County District Court Judge D.D. Mallard ruled that the city’s ban interfered with the state’s interests and the concerns over health risks were insufficient to warrant banning fracking.


“While the Court appreciates the Longmont citizens’ sincerely-held beliefs about risks to their health and safety, the Court does not find this is sufficient to completely devalue the State’s interest,” Mallard wrote.


Longmont voters approved the ban back in November 2012, but the Colorado Oil and Gas Association fought tooth and nail to have it overturned, and now they’ve succeeded.


Earthworks, the Sierra Club, Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont, and the other environmental groups listed as defendants plan on appealing the decision. Fortunately, Judge Mallard ruled that the ban will be kept in place while an appeal is considered.


“While we respectfully disagree with the court’s final decision, [Mallard] was correct that we were asking this Court, in part, to place protection from the health, safety and environmental risks from fracking over the development of mineral resources,” Kaye Fissinger, president of Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont, said in a statement on Earthworks’ website.


“It’s tragic that the judge views the current law in Colorado is one in which fracking is more important than public health; reversing that backwards priority is a long-term battle that we’re determined to continue.”


The city of Longmont has already spent $116,324 defending the ban as of the end of June. The environmental groups have argued that the language the industry relied on to get the ban overturned was written far before modern practices like fracking, Mallard said the issue should be taken up with a higher court or state legislators.


“This decision means two things: The judge has invited us to seek the change we need either through the higher courts or the legislature,” said Bruce Baizel, Earthworks Energy Program director. “We fully intend to pursue the former on appeal, while the latter underscores the need for the citizens of Colorado to get out and support the Environmental Bill of Rights ballot measure this Fall.”


Read more about the story at The Huffington Post.


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Buzz Aldrin’s Reddit AMA Experience for #Apollo45


Buzz Aldrin


Social news site Reddit has always had some pretty amazing AMAs (Ask Me Anything) with celebrities ranging from movie stars and music composers to world leaders, including President Barack Obama. One of their most recent ones with astronaut Buzz Aldrin made from some pretty amazing conversations.


Fox News jumped on the information quickly and came up with a list of the top 10 things they learned from Aldrin’s AMA. There are some interesting things in here, but we thought it was especially cool that his mother’s maiden name is “Moon.”


It was meant to be. Here’s the video:



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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lyft finally has approval to continue with its New York City launch


Lyft finally has approval to continue with its New York City launch


Lyft is finally launching in New York City, but it’s making some concessions to do so. After a back-and-forth battle between Lyft and the city, the two have finally struck a deal that will allow Lyft to begin offering service throughout the city’s five boroughs, but only so long as Lyft drivers register with the city’s Taxi & Limousine Commission.


That makes Lyft’s operation in New York distinctly different from its modus operandi: Lyft’s fleet is usually composed of anyone who has a car and some free time, but in the city they’ll all have to be registered cab drivers. Recode reports that Uber’s UberX service, which usually operates like Lyft, follows these same rules in New York.


Yesterday’s agreement suggests that the commission might be accepting technology with the potential to upend how it does business. As part of the new agreement, Lyft drivers will meet a host of requirements. They’ll submit to annual drug testing, attend a state-certified driving course every three years and get fingerprinted.


Lyft said it would continue to work with the TLC on new rules for peer-to-peer transportation in New York. As part of its agreement with the city, Lyft will pause operations in Buffalo and Rochester by Aug. 1 while it works with the Attorney General’s office to “align New York State’s insurance laws and regulations with emerging technologies of the 21st century.”


Lyft initially attempted to launch in New York City earlier this month, quite blatantly skirting the local taxi laws, perhaps in an attempt to force a regulatory showdown. Certainly, it got just that. Regulators jumped on Lyft before a single one of its cabs hit the road, stopping its launch because of its failure to follow the laws in place governing taxi services.


The two sides had something of a public war of pointed fingers over the launch holdup, but ultimately it appears that Lyft has just agreed to follow the law. It’s apparently legal issues that are holding up Lyft’s operations in Buffalo and Rochester too, and Lyft makes it sound as though some regulations will need to change around insurance before it can start up again in those locations. Read more about the story here.


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Dipping cookies like a boss.



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Bose is suing Beats of noise-cancelling headphones


Bose is suing Beats of noise-cancelling headphones


The Bose Corporation has filed a legal complaint against Beats Electronics for allegedly infringing patents related to its noise-canceling headphones. Bose claims that Beats is infringing upon 50 years of research and development of noise cancellation technology that is protected by 36 U.S. patents and applications.


In a statement from Bose public relations director Carolyn Cinotti, she said that the company doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation. “We can share that for over 30 years, Bose has made significant investments in the research, development, engineering and design of the proprietary technologies found in our headphones. Bose’s patented technologies enable the exclusive performance found in our QuietComfort Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones. We are committed to protecting our investment, protecting our customers, and defending the patents we own.”


“To protect its investments, Bose has sought patent protection, and owns many patents and patent applications. Because Bose invests heavily in research and development, and because Bose has built its reputation on producing superior products through innovative technology, Bose’s continued success depends in substantial part on its ability to establish, maintain, and protect its proprietary technology through enforcement of its patent rights,” said Bose in its complaint.


In May, Apple announced that it was paying $3 billion to acquire Beats Electronics and Beats Music, the streaming music service that launched in January. It hopes to gain approval for the deal in September, CEO Tim Cook said earlier this week.


In the legal complaint, Bose specifically accused the Beats Studio and Beats Studio Wireless headphones for infringing patents embodied within its latest noise-canceling headphone models. Beats sells its Studio headphones with “Adaptive Noise Cancellation” features through its website BeatsByDre.com and retailers with locations throughout the country, including Best Buy, Staples, Target, and Radio Shack.


Bose is asking the court for a declaration that Beats infringed the aforementioned patents, an injunction from “continued infringement,” an award for damages, an order that finds Beats’ infringement is willful and relief that the court deems as just. Read more about the story here.


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Friday, July 25, 2014

Twitch.tv is becoming more and more like regular television


Twitch.tv is becoming more and more like regular television


Gameplay streaming service Twitch has announced a new feature which brings it closer to broadcast TV. Twitch users will be able to promote streams from other users during their downtime. They will essentially be able to host another user’s gameplay stream even when they’ve stopped broadcasting themselves. It’s like embedding somebody else’s video on your website.


Any viewers who are in your channel while you’re playing a hosted stream will be attributed to that stream, and will be given the option to subscribe to it from your page. Your stream will not be listed in the active channel directory while it’s playing a hosted stream, either. The original broadcaster will get the views, follows, and (if signed up for the program) ad impressions during Host Mode.


The service believes that this feature is beneficial for both. The host is able to keep viewers engaged to their channel even when they’re offline and they can use the feature to point out interesting streams or promote streams from friends or family.


This seems to open up interesting cross-promotional possibilities: If you’re done streaming development of your game, you could turn your channel over to other games’ devs at off-hours. It also seems likely that popular streamers may open up opportunities to get your content into their channels.


Channels using Host Mode won’t appear in Twitch’s live directory, meaning viewers won’t be able to find the channel until the mode is turned off. Host Mode is only available on the Twitch website for now, with mobile support yet to be announced. On other platforms, the host channel will appear offline, but chat will continue to work.


“At our core, Twitch is a live video destination, so we’re very interested in increasing the social connectivity between users,” said Yoh Suzuki, senior product engineer at Twitch. “We want to help our community discover new broadcasters and give users new and better ways of communicating with each other. Host Mode is a significant step in this direction with other new social features just around the corner.” Read more about the story here.


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Name that ride.



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Google celebrates the Chromecast’s first birthday with free music


Google celebrates the Chromecast’s first birthday with free music


Google launched the Chromecast exactly one year ago yesterday, and the $35 streaming stick has made some impressive progress in the intervening 365 days. The media player has added a ton of features, but Google also revealed that it has powered over 400 million Casts thus far, which involve users running software on their Android, iOS or PC device to displays connected to the Chromecast.


Chromecast is Google’s stripped down strategy for taking over your living room with a low-cost ($35) streaming HDMI stick that will ‘cast’ things from your mobile devices (and desktop) to your TV screen. It launched a year ago without much notice and more or less resurrected Google’s media platform ambitions.


The device is also now more international than ever, with sales extending across 20 countries including the latest addition, Ireland, as of this writing. 30,000 stores now stock the Chromecast, too, in addition to its online availability through Google Play devices store. The app now has support for scores more apps than it did at launch, can mirror the screens of select Android devices, and has sold “millions” of units according to Google.


As for Chromecast apps, Google revealed that more than 6,000 developers have produced over 10,000 apps. However, the company only launched its Chromecast SDK back in February, so that number should continue to increase. And since no birthday would be complete without presents, Google is giving Chromecast owners a free 90-day trial subscription to its streaming music service Google Play Music All Access. That offer is redeemable through September.


Chromecast is becoming more and more of true streaming over-the-top device replacement thanks to lots of iteration and feature additions, but its special power of Casting from Android devices is being baked into Android TV means that the Chromecast could become a transition device as its features are rolled into third-party settop boxes, TV sets and other devices. If Android TV succeeds, users should be able to get their casting elsewhere. In the meantime, however, $35 remains an amazing price to pay for an accessory that does what Chromecast can do, especially given how keen Google seems to be on continuous improvement for the gadget. Read more about the story here.


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