The U.S. launch of Spotify has been much awaited, and we talk with Chief Content Officer Ken Parks. Fans rage over Netflix price hikes of as much as 60 percent, and a woman sues a man for ending Facebook relationship.Subscribe: iTunes (MP3) | iTunes (320x180) | iTunes (640x360) | RSS (MP3) | RSS (320x180) | RSS (640x360)… Read more
BLETCHLEY, England--The list of important sites is endless: Omaha Beach, Dunkirk, London, Paris, Toulon. But if you're a real World War II aficionado, you may think of Bletchley Park with special fondness.
This nondescript town about 45 minutes outside London is where famed mathematician Alan Turing led a group of master code breakers in a successful battle against Germany and its once-unbreakable cipher codes.
Over the course of several years, the British government assembled a team and sequestered it here, working on various devices intended to break the codes. In the days prior to the war, the Germans rarely … Read more
Looking for a little adventure without getting arrested, getting lost, or upsetting the locals? Try the Cannonball Run Rat Race.
Based on the 1981 movie Cannonball Run, drivers and their co-pilots search for six sequential clues that will lead the winner to a locker full of cash.
According to Cannonball World Event's managing director, Tim Porter, the race is like: "'The Cannonball Run' meets 'Raiders of the Lost Ark."' A 21st century spin might be "Cannonball Run" meets "The Amazing Race." In the "Cannonball Run" movie, Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, and … Read more
Links from Friday's episode of Loaded:
Apple and Google will testify before Congress next month regarding smartphone privacy
Best Buy is giving away free phones until tomorrow
Research In Motion acquires a calendaring company called Tungle
The Jurassic Park video game will come out this fall on Xbox and PlayStation
Pepsi announces social vending-machines that let you gift sodas to your friends
Is Cartman's iPad for real? Is iPhone tracking a real problem?
No and yes. At least, according to "South Park."
That is until some dark-suited men from Apple accost him. They want to take blood from him.
Apparently, when Kyle downloaded the last iTunes update, he clicked "agree" to the latest terms and conditions. Fatally. This allowed Apple's trackers to take him to the water tank.
Kyle … Read more
Television shows have a way of escaping from the small screen into the real world. Now you can share your devotion to the foul-mouthed young residents of South Park, Colo., on your smartphone, laptop, iPod, or tablet with MusicSkins' new line of "South Park" images.
There is a reason for this special skinning occasion. "South Park" just arrived for its 15th season (that's a long time to be stuck in fourth grade). Choose from character portraits or memorable scenes such as the "Last Pizza Party." Am I the only one wishing Mecha-Streisand and the Loch Ness Monster were options?
MusicSkins are made from glossy 3M ControlTac vinyl for a tight, but removable, fit. Expect to pay around $15 to $20 per skin.… Read more
CARBONDALE, Ill.--It has been many years since I have worn armor, grabbed a battle axe, stormed a castle, and watched my hit points drain away. My childhood came rushing back as I stood just inside the gates of the Jeremy "Boo" Rochman Memorial Park in Carbondale, Ill. I strapped on my breast plate, loosed my broadsword from its hilt, and let out a mighty battle cry... in my mind.
I'm on a detour from the Geek's Guide to Route 66. I veered off the path somewhere around St. Louis and wandered into the welcome arms of Carbondale, where weathered farmers surreptitiously check their iPhones at the local bar. That's my kind of town.
This park on the outskirts along Giant City Road is one of those places you hear called a best-kept secret. It wasn't secret to the dozen kids climbing over the head of a dragon and romping through the castle walls. Wizards battle on green grass, Pegasus rears up from the brush, and gargoyles guard the ramparts. This is Dungeons & Dragons come to life.
There is a sad story behind the magical kingdom, though. Local investment mogul Barrett Rochman built the park as a memorial to his teenage son. Jeremy "Boo" Rochman, an avid Dungeons & Dragons fan, died more than a decade ago in a car accident nearby. According to an article in the Southern Illinoisan, some of the statues in the park are based on painted figures found among Boo's possessions.… Read more
There are dozens of products and apps that can route you from one place to another by car. Many of these apps will even take real-time traffic into account and adapt directions to avoid congestion. What none of them can do is tell you where you're most likely to actually find a parking place once you're at your destination. That's what Parking In Motion is for.
This mobile app, in its early stages now, is mostly a directory of parking lots and garages. Like GasBag, a database of gas stations and the prices they charge, Parking In Motion shows you how much you're going to pay for parking at various lots. Users can update the data if it's inaccurate. Great feature: the app has arrows to show where garage entrances are.
Ultimately, the app will do much more, according to co-founder Sam Friedman. First of all, it will show which lots or garages are full. This information can't come from users--it'd be too late to be useful. Parking In Motion is instead working with garage operators to collect this data on a broader scale. But first it might have to help operators actually get that data themselves.
Tighter integration with parking structure operators will eventually allow drivers to reserve spots and to pre-pay for them--possibly with a discount. This is where Parking In Motion will make its money, taking a percentage of those transactions.
The app will also, eventually, offer advice on street parking. It won't be able to direct you to a specific spot, unfortunately. Even though many cities are installing smart parking meters, the data collection is too slow to direct drivers to open spaces. Rather, Parking In Motion will collect data from users and meters and tell them which streets or areas are most likely to have open spots, and how long it will likely take to find them.
Down the line even further, Friedman has this vision: "Five years from now, you'll be able to get in your car, find parking on the street, and pay for it from within your car. And then if you're in a meeting and it's running over, you'll be able to re-up your meter from the conference table."
The company's flagship cities are Philadelphia and Santa Monica, Calif., where it has reservations and street parking data coming online. But it has garage data in about 300 cities, and the iPhone app is free and available in the App Store today.
It's a relationship business Building the consumer-facing services are almost trivial for this company. The real challenge is getting good data. To get information from parking lots and garages, Parking In Motion will need to establish relationships with owners--and possibly help them upgrade their IT so they can report open spot numbers in real time. To get street parking information, Parking In Motion will have to either get the parking meter companies (there are a half-dozen of them) to provide data after winning approval from cities, or it will have to file Freedom Of Information requests to get the public-owned data. And it will have to do this hundreds of times. … Read more
Are viciously negative Yelp reviews putting an unfair stigma on small businesses? Today's two-part episode of The 404 Podcast weighs the effect of crowd-sourced review sites like Yelp and Zagat on independently owned establishments, and asks the question: will future generations understand topical shows like "The Simpsons" and "30 Rock?"
Part one: this insightful article in The Atlantic magazine questions the legitimacy of online reviews and the misplaced responsibility that Yelp bestows on citizen journalists with little or no training in voicing their opinions.
The piece calls out six distinct types of crowd-sourced reviewers who make us all look bad. Our least favorite is the "Hater's Ball," but we prefer to call them trolls--people who make scathing, borderline vindictive criticisms online about the most minor offenses at restaurants that they would never voice in person.
How many negative Yelpers do you think actually call the manager over after a meal to politely voice concerns? Most of the time, Yelpers don't think about how a single bad review can springboard a series of negative press that could potentially shut down an independent business, so make sure your complaints are legit before you post!
Don't forget that there are always real people behind the keyboard...and sometimes they have access to weapons.
Part two: This Salon.com article raises an interesting question about future generations understanding the pop culture references in topical television shows like "The Simpsons" and "Glee."… Read more
A few lucky members of the international automotive press in January got a chance to test-drive the MP4-12C supercar. The folks at McLaren Automotive just posted this video on YouTube.
The Surrey, U.K.-based automaker chose Algarve Motor Park in Portugal to give members of the media a chance to evaluate the car for themselves.
Formula One driver Jenson Button also gave journalists a thrill by lapping the track at speeds of more than 200 mph.
The MP4-12C sports a carbon fiber chassis and runs on a twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-8 generating 592 horsepower. McLaren plans a limited number … Read more