Pandora’s Cool Hack of the System!

This week in the news it was announced that the Internet radio service, Pandora, had purchased a terrestrial radio station. Now, some of you may know that I’ve been in radio for a lot of years. As my gray hair might attest! In fact, I started on radio in 1976. And, I enjoy keeping up with the radio industry and the “ins and outs” of the introduction of new technologies into radio. One of the things that radio stations have to deal with is the licensing of music that they play. Most stations pay a BMI license which covers the songs that they air. This license is a business expense, but it’s not unreasonable. However, the structuring of this license is outrageous for online, or Internet-based, radio stations. So, Pandora has had to pay extravagant fees for the music that they air, unlike regular, terrestrial, radio stations. Is this fair? No, I don’t think so!

Which is why this week Pandora bought a terrestrial radio station! Clear Channel Communications owns a lot of terrestrial radio stations and they only have to pay the regular BMI license fees, even though they also do Internet broadcasting. So, in what could be considered a great “hack of the system,” Pandora bought a terrestrial radio station in order to pay terrestrial radio licensing fees for their music! How cool is that? Now, will they get away with it? I’m not sure. But while some are complaining, I say they’re working within the system! And at the same time alleviating and injustice to Internet radio stations. Or, at least making a statement about it. Because other Internet radio stations will continue to have to pay the exorbitant fees that are being charged for no other reason than that they are stations that air music on the Internet!

So if it works, I say, more power to them! And if it doesn’t, then I say, good try, Pandora! Either way this inequity of fees needs to be addressed… Just my two cents.

A “Pre-Review” of “The Man of Steel!”

Man of SteelSo, I plan to see Superman, or technically, “The Man of Steel” later today. So consider this a pre-review of the movie. Now, you might ask, “Dr. Bill, why would you review a movie before you see it?” The answer is, of course, because I’m ticked off at all the critics that are reviewing this movie! Why you ask? Because most critics are idiots. Here’s why I think so:..

A lot of the reviews that I’ve read are saying that the new Superman movie isn’t as good as past movies because it doesn’t have Clark Kent being an idiot, or as I’ve heard some say, “a likable buffoon.” First of all, Clark Kent was never “a likable buffoon,” he was portrayed that way in past movies and TV shows, when in fact he wasn’t. In fact, one of the best portrayals that I’ve seen of Clark Kent was in the TV series “Lois and Clark – the New Adventures of Superman.” There, Clark was an ordinary guy except that he was smart, he was resourceful, he was caring, and you found yourself believing that he and Lois could have a reasonable relationship. Now, obviously this series “jumped the shark” later in the series’ run when Lois started eating frogs. But I digress. The point is that Clark was portrayed as a reporter for the Daily Planet that had ability in and of himself, but was actually humble about it.

Now, obviously, if you ever saw Superman standing beside of Clark Kent you could easily tell they were the same person… but we have to make a bit of a leap to believe that Clark Kent could be a secret identity, emphasis on “secret,” for Superman. That said, as I understand it, the new movie in theaters now (which as I said, I plan to see later today;) I have heard, is very serious in its approach to the story of Superman. Critics that want to see a silly, campy, over the top, Superman are disappointed. To which I say, “Awesome!” I don’t want to see a silly, campy Superman. I want to see a Superman that is an alien from the planet Krypton trying to come to terms with his super abilities here on earth. Which, as I understand it, is what this movie is about! So phooey on you, critics. You are obviously crazy. Now go watch old 1960s Batman episodes and leave us alone!

Your Genes are Your Own

So, genes can’t be patented. I am good with that. I don’t want a corporation or the gub’ment owning my genes! Or, for that matter, my jeans. Just sayin’. OK, all kidding aside, this looks like it could open up a market for inexpensive tools to discover predisposition to various conditions. Maybe even bring the price down into the reasonable range, over time.

Justices rule human genes cannot be patented

Supreme Court decision is a win for women with genetic risk of breast and ovarian cancers, as well as geneticists and researchers who had criticized a Utah company’s exclusive patent.

WASHINGTON – USA Today – “The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that human genes cannot be patented, a decision with both immediate benefits for some breast and ovarian cancer patients and long-lasting repercussions for biotechnology research.

The decision represents a victory for cancer patients, researchers and geneticists who claimed that a single company’s patent raised costs, restricted research and sometimes forced women to have breasts or ovaries removed without sufficient facts or second opinions.

But the court held out a lifeline to Myriad Genetics, the company with an exclusive patent on the isolated form of genes that can foretell an increased genetic risk of cancer. The justices said it can patent a type of DNA that goes beyond extracting the genes from the body.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the decision for a unanimous court. ‘Myriad did not create anything,’ Thomas said. ‘To be sure, it found an important and useful gene, but separating that gene from its surrounding genetic material is not an act of invention.’

The compromise will not stop other scientists from providing genetic diagnostic testing now that the patent on the two genes themselves has been lifted. That should lead to lower costs and greater access.

‘It is splendid news for patients, for physicians, for scientists and for common sense,’ Mary-Claire King, the geneticist who in 1990 discovered the abnormality on chromosome 17 that proved to be the breast cancer gene (BRCA), told USA TODAY. ‘The marketplace will now be open.’

Myriad emphasized the bright side of the decision for the company — that cDNA, which is not naturally occurring, remains patentable. As a result, it said, 24 patents containing more than 500 valid claims remain in effect.

‘More than 250,000 patients rely upon our BRACAnalysis test annually, and we remain focused on saving and improving peoples’ lives and lowering overall health care costs,’ said Peter Meldrum, the company’s president and CEO.

The complex scientific case was perhaps the most important on the high court’s calendar other than its more celebrated cases involving same-sex marriage, voting rights and affirmative action.

And unlike those cases, which are expected to divide the court sharply along ideological lines, the controversial concept of gene patenting gave all nine justices something to agree on.

The decision was based on past patent cases before the high court in which the justices ruled that forces of nature, as opposed to products of invention, are not patent-eligible.

Since 1984, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted more than 40,000 patents tied to genetic material. Armed with those patents, Myriad has tested more than 1 million women since the late 1990s for mutations that often lead to breast and ovarian cancer.

Most women who want testing must pay its price — $3,340 for the breast cancer analysis and $700 for an additional test that picks up a genetic link in about 10% of women who test negative the first time. Myriad officials say about 95% of its patients receive insurance coverage, often without co-payments, so that most patients pay only about $100.

Myriad and a broad array of industry trade groups argued that without patent protection, research and development would dry up. Doctors, geneticists, women’s health groups and cancer patients contended that competition would lower prices, improve outcomes and lead to more discoveries.

‘The court struck down a major barrier to patient care and medical innovation,’ said Sandra Park, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. ‘Myriad did not invent the BRCA genes and should not control them.

‘Because of this ruling, patients will have greater access to genetic testing, and scientists can engage in research on these genes without fear of being sued,’ Park said.

Harry Ostrer, a medical geneticist who became the last remaining plaintiff in the case, heralded the decision as ‘thrilling’ and said it would slash costs dramatically for breast and ovarian cancer testing for women with a genetic risk, thereby making it more available to lower-income women and those without quality health insurance.

‘Ensuring equal access to genetic testing is one of the key aspects to this ruling,’ Ostrer said.

Karuna Jaggar, executive director of Breast Cancer Action, hailed the decision as one that put ‘patients’ health before corporate profits.’

‘This ruling makes a huge and immediate difference for women with a known or suspected inherited risk of breast cancer,’ Jaggar said. ‘And it is a tremendous victory for all people everywhere. The Supreme Court has taken a significant stand to limit the rights of companies to own human genes by striking down Myriad’s monopoly.’

The two sides had battled to a draw in lower courts: A federal district court in New York sided with the patent’s challengers, while a divided court of appeals that handles patent cases ruled for the company.

During oral argument in April, the court was presented with opposite interpretations of Myriad’s contribution to genetic research. Christopher Hansen, the lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union representing the patent’s challengers, said Myriad had invented ‘nothing.’ Myriad’s attorney, Gregory Castanias, said the company created ‘a new molecule that had never been known to the world.’

The justices generally agreed that Myriad deserved credit for its process of isolating the gene and its use — but not for the gene itself. ‘In isolation, it has no value,’ Justice Sonia Sotomayor said. ‘It’s just nature sitting there.’

Thomas’ decision was slightly more diplomatic. ‘We merely hold that genes and the information they encode are not patent-eligible … simply because they have been isolated from the surrounding genetic material,’ he said.

But the compromise that emerged Thursday was evident during that 65-minute debate. Several of the more conservative justices said a complete denial of patent rights could jeopardize investments by other biotechnology companies — and that could limit progress on a range of research, from agriculture to the environment.”

Microsoft Will Have “Windows Stores” in Best Buys

To which I say, “Big whoop.”

Microsoft to Open Dedicated “Windows Stores” in Best Buy

“Microsoft is expanding its retail footprint – deep into Best Buy.

The two companies on Thursday announced a strategic partnership that will see Microsoft creating Windows Stores inside more than 600 Best Buy locations in North America.

These stores-within-a-store will occupy between 1,500 square feet and 2,200 square feet of floor space inside the Best Buy locations in which they’re built, and will showcase a broad range of Microsoft products — software like Windows and Office, and hardware like Surface, Xbox, and the Windows Phone portfolio. Essentially, these Windows Stores are replacing the retailer’s existing PC departments. To support them, Best Buy is staffing some 1,200 Microsoft-trained sales associates, and it’s adding an online version of the Windows store-within-a-store to its website. The new stores will begin opening this month.

Microsoft is touting these new Windows Stores as massive ‘department-level takeovers,’ and says they’re key to its retail efforts.

‘We’ve heard a lot from customers over the last year,’ Microsoft CMO Chris Capossela explained. ‘They’re buying tablets and other devices to complement their PCs. They’re using technology both at work and at play, and it’s blurring how they think of using tech in their lives. At the same time, they’ve asked us to showcase touch-first devices in a compelling retail environment. We’ve listened, and the story of the Windows Store is that we’ve delivered what customers want: More touch, more hands-on experiences and more opportunities to see Microsoft technologies and how they work together.’

Hardly an original idea; Apple and Samsung both have mini-stores in Best Buy locations. And Best Buy’s big-box-store business isn’t in the greatest shape these days.

But for Microsoft, which has been struggling in its standalone store efforts, this is a savvy move — an easy way to dramatically increase its retail footprint via an established big-box player.

Through its partnership with Best Buy, Microsoft gets a significantly larger, more meaningful retail presence without having to roll out hundreds of standalone locations that would have been infinitely more costly.”

Dr. Bill.TV #294 – Video – “The Slice of Raspberry Pie Edition”

Raspberry Pi offers free software for NOOBS, a new version of Handbrake video converter, the Government is scanning our email and Internet postings, GamePop Android-based gaming console for free (with a subscription,) GSotW: FeedReader, The Woz and HPU!

Links that pertain to this Netcast:

TechPodcasts Network

Blubrry Network

Geek Software of the Week: FeedReader

Start the Video Netcast in the Blubrry Video Player above by
clicking on the “Play” Button in the center of the screen.

(Click on the buttons below to Stream the Netcast in your “format of choice”)
Streaming M4V Audio

Streaming MP3 Audio

Streaming Ogg Audio

Download M4V Download WebM Download MP3 Download Ogg
(Right-Click on any link above, and select “Save As…” to save the Netcast on your PC.)

Available on YouTube at:

Available on Vimeo at:

Dr. Bill.TV #294 – Audio – “The Slice of Raspberry Pie Edition”

Raspberry Pi offers free software for NOOBS, a new version of Handbrake video converter, the Government is scanning our email and Internet postings, GamePop Android-based gaming console for free (with a subscription,) GSotW: FeedReader, The Woz and HPU!

Links that pertain to this Netcast:

TechPodcasts Network

Blubrry Network

Geek Software of the Week: FeedReader

Start the Video Netcast in the Blubrry Video Player above by
clicking on the “Play” Button in the center of the screen.

(Click on the buttons below to Stream the Netcast in your “format of choice”)
Streaming M4V Audio

Streaming MP3 Audio

Streaming Ogg Audio

Download M4V Download WebM Download MP3 Download Ogg
(Right-Click on any link above, and select “Save As…” to save the Netcast on your PC.)

Available on YouTube at:

Available on Vimeo at:

The Woz and HPU!

“The Woz” AKA Steve Wozniak, spoke as commencement speaker recently at High Point University, our local, high-end, private college. (Full disclosure, my son, Ben AKA “The GameMaster,” attends HPU, and is on the Dean’s List every semester… and, yes, I am VERY proud!!! Ben is in the Communications Department, majoring in Electronic Gaming… of course!)

Well, now, “The Woz” is taking on even more at HPU!

“HIGH POINT, N.C., June 4, 2013 – Steve Wozniak, Apple Co-Founder and creator of the first personal computer, has joined the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication Advisory Board at High Point University.”

Awesome! “The Woz” and HPU… a great team!

Geek Software of the Week: FeedReader


Google Reader is dying. So, alternatives are being explored. And, this is a GREAT option! FeedReader!

Geek Software of the Week: FeedReader

Feedreader Online – Everywhere you go
Feedreader Online is one of the best Google Reader alternatives allowing you to view all of your feeds any way you want: in any browser, on any device, without installing a single application. Just sign in and enjoy your feeds!

Feedreader Lookup – All feeds in one place
Feedreader Lookup is a unique search engine for Internet feeds. Now you don’t need to tediously google them up from across the Web. Type in a few keywords in the Lookup search box, find the feed you need, and subscribe to it in one place!

Feedreader Browser – All your feeds within reach
Feedreader Browser lets you quickly find news and feeds related to any topic. What’s more, it allows you to view these feeds right in your browser, subscribe to them, and aggregate them in one feed on Feedreader Online!

GamePop: Android Gaming Hardware For Free!

This is a challenger to the Ouya Open Source Gaming Console! Hardware is free, with a monthly gaming subscription.

BlueStacks’ GamePop Android Game Console Adds $50 of Free Games as Kicker

“BlueStacks already has a pretty intriguing deal for people interested in its GamePop Android game console — sign up for a monthly subscription by the end of June and you’ll receive the console and a controller for free — and it just got a little sweeter. In addition to giving the hardware away from free for a limited time (you do have to pay shipping), BlueStacks announced that it will also include a collection of games from three AAA developers that would normally cost $50 on Google Play.

There’s quite a bit to cover here, so let’s start with the console itself. If you haven’t heard of GamePop before, it’s essentially an alternative to Ouya, but rather than buy games outright, BlueStacks is promoting a Netflix-like subscription model that runs $6.99 per month. In return, you get access to over 500 paid games worth over $200 that you can play on your TV via the console. You control the games using the gamepad that comes with it, or you can use motion control from your iPhone or Android device.

The Hardware is Really Free?

GamePopFor a limited time, BlueStacks is offering its GamePop console and controller for free, though there are some caveats. The first is that you have to pre-order by the end of June (the promotion was originally scheduled to end in May, but due to the ‘high demand of pre-orders,’ the company decided to extend the offer). When it ships, you’ll be billed $6.99 for the first month of service plus $9.95 for shipping in the U.S. ($19.90 for international shipping).

The other caveat is that you have to remain a subscriber for 12 months. If you cancel your subscription before then, you either have to send the console and controller back to BlueStacks ‘in working order within 30 days of cancelling’ and pay a $25 restocking fee, or keep the hardware and pay a $100 early termination charge.

After June, BlueStacks will sell the console and controller for $129 outright. You’ll still have to subscribe at $6.99/month to play games, but you’ll be able to cancel at any time with any fees.

What’s Inside?

BlueStacks hasn’t yet revealed the hardware inside its GamePop console, though it did promise that games will run just as fast or faster than they do on the top mobile phones. The company also claims the controller is ‘like none seen before,’ though isn’t saying exactly how or why.

What do you think, will Android consoles find a place in our living rooms, or will they get trampled by the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Wii U?”

The Government is Scanning our Email and Internet Postings

This is huge in the news right now, and kinda scary. For the full story, follow the link to the full Washington Post article.

U.S., British intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program

The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.

The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes, and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley.

Equally unusual is the way the NSA extracts what it wants, according to the document: ‘Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.’

London’s Guardian newspaper reported Friday that GCHQ, Britain’s equivalent of the NSA, also has been secretly gathering intelligence from the same internet companies through an operation set up by the NSA.

According to documents obtained by The Guardian, PRISM would appear to allow GCHQ to circumvent the formal legal process required in Britain to seek personal material such as emails, photos and videos from an internet company based outside of the country.

PRISM was launched from the ashes of President George W. Bush’s secret program of warrantless domestic surveillance in 2007, after news media disclosures, lawsuits and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court forced the president to look for new authority.

Congress obliged with the Protect America Act in 2007 and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which immunized private companies that cooperated voluntarily with U.S. intelligence collection. PRISM recruited its first partner, Microsoft, and began six years of rapidly growing data collection beneath the surface of a roiling national debate on surveillance and privacy. Late last year, when critics in Congress sought changes in the FISA Amendments Act, the only lawmakers who knew about PRISM were bound by oaths of office to hold their tongues.

The court-approved program is focused on foreign communications traffic, which often flows through U.S. servers even when sent from one overseas location to another. Between 2004 and 2007, Bush administration lawyers persuaded federal FISA judges to issue surveillance orders in a fundamentally new form. Until then the government had to show probable cause that a particular ‘target’ and ‘facility’ were both connected to terrorism or espionage.

In four new orders, which remain classified, the court defined massive data sets as ‘facilities’ and agreed to certify periodically that the government had reasonable procedures in place to minimize collection of ‘U.S. persons’ data without a warrant.

In a statement issue late Thursday, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper said ‘information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats. The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.'”

1 2 3 4