Popcorn Time Shuts Down. Just Kidding!

Popcorn Time, a project that completely cuts out all the tech mumbo jumbo between the uninitiated and a seemingly infinite supply of pirated movies, made a stir at it’s launch. Soon after, it shut down after fearing vengeance from the movie industry. The good folks at YTS (YIFY) have decided to take over the project, fearing no repercussions. Apparently, they ain’t neva scared.

“The YTS team will now be picking up the Popcorn Time project and continuing on like previously. We are in a better position copyright wise as for us, because it’s build on our API, it’s as if we have built another interface to our website. We are no worse off managing the project than we would be just supplying the movies,” the dev explains with an interview with ShowerHacks.com.“

It’s our vision at YTS that we see through projects like these and that just because they create a little stir in the public, it doesn’t mean they are shut down. That stir is exactly what the public needs and it’s already evident that people are becoming more aware of copyright-related issues.”

via Popcorn Time Shuts Down, Then Gets Resurrected by YTS YIFY | TorrentFreak.

Doddlr Unifies Social Networks and Emails

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Doddlr for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

An idea hatched by two 16 year old students, Doddlr is a new service that wants to help unite your online social networks and email all in one place. The 2 young co-founders want to show the world that UK entrepreneurs can still compete with Silicon Valley. 

Anyone even remotely into social media and technology knows that it can quickly become a pain to deal with all your different social inboxes, alerts, and messages. Doddlr lets you connect accounts from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, and email accounts with other services coming soon. This means all your social activity can be taken care of in one place.

The philosophy behind Doddlr is to avoid re-inventing the wheel, while providing the user with the most up-to-date information from their various social networks and mail accounts. The focus is on what's happening now and possibly in the future, without influence from past events.

Doddlr provides a clean and simple user interface and connects securely to your various social networks, requiring no direct usernames and passwords. Their is no primary newsfeed or timeline, but you are able to see multiple updates from your social accouts in one place and also share updates to multiple networks at once. Each update can be manipulated directly for likes, comments, retweets, etc..

Doddlr is a free app, so check it out and let us know what you think. 

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The Kia Rio Scavenger Hunt

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Kia Rio for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

The Kia Rio Scavenger Hunt is an interesting event involving 2 stars: Christina Milan and the Kia Rio. Two pairs of best friends are sent on a scavenger hunt through L.A. to find Christina Milan. Each pair is equipped with their very own Kia Rio, giving them the power of navigation and bluetooth to find their target.

The Kia Rio Scavenger hunt was pretty cool to watch. The competitors were able to use the various techy features built into the Kia Rio to solve the clues and eventually reach Christina herself.  They took advantage of features like the USB jack to load up an audio clip and the rear camera display to get a shot of one of the clues.The Kia Rio also features navigation and Bluetooth, two of the coolest features in my opinion. Definitley a plus for safe and hands-free calling while driving.

They first had to use a cube to answer trivia question about LA. The next challeng was to find a hidden Christina CD at Amoeba Records. Using the USB jack, they were directed to find the exact number of palm trees near Rodeo Drive. Next, probably the hardest challeng, was basically a hotdog eating contest at one of the most popular hotdog stands in LA, where they were directed to their next clue tucked into the roomy trunk of the Kia. This final clue led the teams directly to Christina in her hotel.

Overall, I'd say the UVO Technology is the coolest feature of the Kia Rio. This allows you to basically control the car with your voice and keep your eyes on the road. For more info on the Kia Rio, check out the Rio Explorer Page.

 

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Straight Talk Cuts Your Phone Bill in Half and Offers Android Smartphone

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Straight Talk for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

The average cell phone bill is about $80/month. With Straight Talk, you’re looking at $30/month for 1000 minutes, 1000 texts, and 30MB of data. Add $15 dollars to that, $45 dollars, and you get unlimited minutes, texts, and data. That’s only $499 for an entire year of unlimited mobile service. With numbers like that, many are going for Straight Talk, Hook, line and sinker.

If you take a look at commentary from a real Straight Talk customer, you find that the service is not only affordable, but also reliable. With no contracts, no credit checks, and no surprises. Think of how much richer you’ll feel while cutting your cell phone bill in half. Think of the money you could save. Everything you need in an affordable, no-hassle package.

Straight Talk gives you everything you need with no hassle. They use nothing but the best phones from manufacturers like LG, Kyocera, Samsung, Motorola, and Nokia. 411 calls are included at no charge and Straight Talk International Long Distance Service offers competitive prepaid rates from your home phone and cell phone. Call a friend whenever you want, no matter where they are.

You can get a reconditioned phone for just $10 which includes a camera, mp3 player, bluetooth, and mobile web access. Straight Talk also offers advanced smart phones, touch screen phones, app-capable phones and just about any phone you might be looking for. Looking for Android on Straight Talk? They’ve got it. Check out the video for more details.

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Playing in Traffic: Speed Demons

Anyone who has driven a vehicle has encountered a driver who has a touch of road rage or is just highly impatient. These are the people who change lanes repeatedly and for no apparent reason. They try to blow through every yellow light they can. They follow dangerously close, hoping you’ll move out of their way. They seem to have no earthly idea that there are actual legal speed limits posted along the side of the road.

You, on the other hand, cruise along patiently (unless you are the speed demon). You may exceed the speed limit, but only by a bit and you don’t swerve in and out of traffic like a maniac. You know your destination isn’t going anywhere. So, in all that dodging, speeding, switching, changing, and endangering that these speed demons are doing, what always happens? When you pull up to the next red light, or the one after that, guess who is sitting right next to you?

You don’t have to always be doing something to get what you want out of life. You don’t have to always be rushing around like a chicken with your head cut off tweeting, Facebooking, blogging, developing, marketing, vlogging, parenting, downloading, uploading, meeting, greeting, and checking in so that you can reach your goals. Notice, I’m not saying you never have to do things, but most of us are just doing too much to actually be productive.

Your creative mind, that magic piece of genius where the good ideas come from, cannot operate if you are never idle. John Cleese, Brian Eno, and others agree that being idle is essential. Most people might be paying the bills and probably feel like they are getting the job done, but they are merely running in place. While you are actively doing things, your genius is on hold.

So, go sit your ass down somewhere and chill out. Let your mind be at ease. While you relax, that spark of genius grows, new ideas form, the things you really want move closer to you. Stop speeding, kick back, and enjoy the scenery.

I leave you with a quote from The Matrix:

Neo: What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge bullets?

Morpheus: No, Neo. I’m trying to tell you that when you’re ready, you won’t have to.

Gingerbread a Double-Edged Sword for HTC Evo. No More Netflix.

Excited about Gingerbread?! Loving the fact that you can stream Netflix?! Well, too bad you can’t have both on your Evo. The latest update to the Evo, which includes Gingerbread, apparently renders the device incompatible with the Netflix service. Netflix has even removed the device from its supported list. But you can get netflix in other countries just click here to see how to get american netflix.

Having this service available on Android is great, but it has also been a great disappointment for Android users. The fact that it is only compatible with a few devices is definitely a big issue in and of itself, but it seems like OS updates might be bringing issues as well. One does wonder if this problem will rise up every time a device receives an update. What do you guys think? EVO users, are you upset about this?

Am I upset? Nope. I’ve been running Gingerbread for quite a while using CyanogenMod 7. Rooting was painless and CyanogenMod with Gingerbread is a beautiful thing. Reminds me why I love using Android: Control. Not being controlled by a wireless carrier or a hardware manufacturer, but the ability to control my device and do whatever-the-hell I want with it.

via Android and Me

Is The Relevant Web Really Nameless?

Holden Page at Pages Are Social recently wrote a piece about the relevant web being nameless. I can’t say that I really disagree, but it got me thinking about a few things. It’s true, services like my6Sense take the focus away from the authors/brands and place it on the actual content.

So what are bloggers and blog owners to do? While My6Sense is on the small scale of things, and the few who support My6Sense have come to love it, there is no doubt in my mind that a backlash will occur.

A number of things came to mind here. I remember not so long ago, when bloggers lamented the loss and fragmentation of blog comments. Services like Disqus came out of nowhere, giving ownership of comments to the commentators rather than the bloggers. I don’t see many blogs these days that don’t use Disqus or something similar. The blogosphere changes, content creators change with it.

I view an experience like my6sense as something like the radio for the written word. Of course, my6sense is not a corrupt industry where content creators pay the stations to play their junk, tricking the listener into thinking what’s popular. Rather, you have a channel of content customized by the reader. What they see is exactly what they are looking for.

The similarity with the radio is that, once you come across awesome content, you will want to know who wrote it in the same way that you would want to know who sings your favorite song on the radio. You will probably go further than just waiting for the radio to play that song and go buy the album. Just on the strength of that one piece, you are motivated to own tho whole shebang.

My6Sense and future technologies like it are fundamentally changing how we consume news, and its a benefit is purely for the consumers, not the producers.

Uhm….kinda. There is a saying that any blogger worth his salt has heard. Many have taken it to heart and many others write it off as bull: “Content is King.” As it stands now, you can pretty much write crap as long as you market it well. If you are awesome and networking and connecting with people, your writing skills don’t have to be that strong. I won’t point out any artist in particular, but how many have you hear don the radio or seen on stage at an awards show and wondered how the hell they got there?

Now, take the front man away. Ditch the artist and the blogger. All you have left is their content and, if it can’t stand on its own, that creator fails. This is where my6sense and the few other services like it are taking us. You won’t choose your favorite sites by how awesome you think the author is, but by how great their content is.

Great for the consumer, but all you bloggers half-assing it better get back to basics before it’s too late.

Amazon Giving Away Lady Gaga’s New Album to Promote Cloud Player

Well, it’s not actually free, but you probably have 99 cents knocking around under your couch cushions. Why so cheap? To get more users for their shiny new Cloud Player storage locker.

Lady Gaga Fan? Cop the album here and store it for free in the cloud. Play it on your mobile device or from your browser without ever having to actually download it.

Check out the details at AllThingsD, where they Peter Kafka goes into detail about the love-hate relationship between Amazon’s Cloud Player and the music industry.

Amazing Danger Mouse, Jack White, Norah Jones HTML5 Experience

If a web page calls itself an “experience” and requires Chrome Canary, the “cutting-edge experimental version of Google Chrome,” it’s gotta be awesome…RIGHT?! Check out the behind-the-scenes video below, download Canary, and check out the experiment.

“3 Dreams of Black” is Chris Milk’s new interactive film, created in WebGL with Google for Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi’s ROME, featuring Jack White & Norah Jones. The project is a Chrome Experiment which pushes the boundaries of HTML5 and showcases the potential of video on on modern browsers. Watch the “Creation Of” video:

via hypebot.

Google’s Movie Rentals for Android Blocked for Rooted Devices

That fancy new movie rental section on the Android Market? You can’t use it if you have rooted your device. Kinda sucks and I can understand why many rooters would be upset, but I think Android Central goes a bit overboard here:

So now people who root their phones, whether to get rid of the crap “open” that’s forced down their throats, or to have a current version of Android, are punished and lumped in with folks who steal movies. Nice move, Google. That makes me want to buy more of your products and use more of your services, so I can be treated like a criminal just because I’m smart enough to get rid of CityID, or want a safe version of Android on my phone.

There is one important point we have to remember here: Google did not create these movies. In order for Google to distribute them, they need permission from the movie industry. We’ve already learned from the Netflix launch on Android that this industry forces those distributing their content to be very careful. This is one of the reasons Netflix isn’t available on all handsets yet.

Let’s also take a peak at the new Google Music and Amazon Cloud Player services. Both operate as simple cloud storage lockers which just so happen to be geared towards playing music. Without the music industry behind it, you are forced to simply upload all your junk instead of having these services recognize and match your library as Lala has done in the past. More than likely, Apple’s cloud-based music service will have this ability. Remember? Apple bought Lala and later shut it down.

Let’s not go blaming Google and try to realize that, without these restrictions, there probably wouldn’t be any movies at all for any Androids.

How to Import Foursquare Check-ins Into Google Places

If you’re reading this, I must assume you’re some type of techy. Who else would bother with Google Places? Facebook and Foursquare have that location check-in thing on lock. At any rate, Google just announced the ability to import any RSS feed that includes location data and I’m going to show you how to do so with Foursquare.

Google Places just announced a new feature that lets you import the places you’ve checked-in to on Foursquare into Google to rate and review. It’s as simple as finding the feed from your Foursquare profile, copying its link and pasting it into the search box in Places. It’s really easy! via ReadWriteWeb

Well, it’s not that hard, but if you haven’t a clue about RSS and all that jazz, I don’t think “really easy” covers it. Especially not with an exclamation point (Marshall, you’re still my dude).

The first thing you want to do is grab your Foursquare RSS feed. For your privacy, these feeds are available using private token URLs. This means you have to be logged into Foursquare to even see them.

  1. Login to Foursquare.
  2. Go to Foursquare.com/feeds.
  3. Copy the link to the RSS feed for your check-in history (right-click on PC, control-click on Mac).
  4. Fire up Google Places.
  5. Paste the URL you just grabbed from Foursquare into the search box and hit Search button.

Now, this will pull in some of your recent check-ins and give you the option to rate them. Here is where things get a little funky. You’re only going to get the last 10 or 20 check-ins, not much if you actually use Foursquare.

To increase the number of results you see, you have to add a parameter to the end of the URL. Try adding “?count=1000” to the end (no spaces) before you hit Search and you should see more results as you hit Load More at the bottom of the page.

The other thing to keep in mind is that Google Places is all about Ratings. If you don’t actually go through and rate the places that show up from Foursquare, you haven’t actually imported them into Google Places.

Again, if all you do is paste the feed from Foursquare and hit Search, you haven’t imported any info into Google Places. You must go through and rate the places you’ve been.

via Google Places Now Imports Your Foursquare Check-Ins.

Are Google And Amazon’s Cloud Music Services Dead in the Water?

 

Google Music

 

As you may have noticed, Amazon and Google have both launched cloud music services. These work as storage lockers, where you can upload music from your computer and play that music, streamed directly from the cloud, to just about any computer or mobile device.

iTunes Dominates

Apple’s iTunes, the king when it comes to buying music online, has been rumored to be launching a similar service. The main difference being that Apple will launch with support from record labels while Amazon and Google are going it alone.

Why is this important?

It all comes down to how you get started on these services. With Amazon and Google, you have to upload all of your music to the cloud. As I can personally attest, this takes for-freaking-ever even for a modest amount of music.

It’s hard to overstate how critical this is. Right now, Amazon makes you upload your own library for any song you haven’t purchased from them since their service launched those you purchase from them can automatically be added to your locker. Google doesn’t even have a music purchase option at all yet, so you have to upload music.

As Jason and I talked about on OMG/JK this week, that means hours or days of uploading — that’s what he had to go through. How many people are realistically going to do that? Not a lot.

via TechCrunch

Look Mom! No Uploading!

You see, Apple could get around the uploading by scanning your music library and simply unlocking those tracks for you in their online library. You won’t have to upload, but you’ll still have access to your music in the cloud. This is exactly what LaLa used to do.

Why This is Dangerous

We have to remember that the gate keepers are gone. The music industry is desperately trying to hold onto a revenue model that consumers and artists are just not feeling anymore. They tried to lock us down with DRM, which failed miserably, so how else could they possibly limit our music?

Oh! I know. Get direct access to all the music on your local drive. Scan it and compare it with watermarks (yes, they can do that), hashes, or whatever from “official” services like iTunes and Amazon. Maybe they even compare your library to an extensive library of pirated music they snagged from torrents.

Bottom line for me is that I don’t think I want a cloud music service that has anything to do with the record labels. A dying beast is always the most dangerous. Of course, I’ve never bought anything from iTunes anyway and never plan to start.

Back to the Technical Side

You only have to upload your music once. After that, uploading an album here and there isn’t going to be a big deal. With Amazon, you don’t even have to upload anything because they’ll automatically dump your purchases into your cloud storage. Purchases made in their store don’t count against your storage limit.

What Do You Think?

I’m not down for an industry-backed cloud player, but what about you? Why? Which company will you roll with?

Did You Get Your 20GB of Free Music Storage on Amazon Yet?

As you may know, Amazon has introduced a new service called Amazon Cloud Player. This lets you upload and play your personal music collection from any supported web browser or on your Android mobile device. You can also purchase your MP3’s from Amazon and store them in your Cloud Player and it doesn’t count against your allowed storage.

Right now, you can sign up for CloudPlayer and get 5GB of online storage for free. Not much for you extreme collectors out there, but quite a bit for the average person. No worries, though. Amazon is running a promotion that will give you an additional 15GB of storage just by purchasing an MP3 album from the MP3 Store. Any old album will do and you end up with 20GB of cloud storage for your music.

I got mine by purchasing The 99 Most Essential Relaxing Classics [Amazon Exclusive]. At the time, it was $0.99. Lucky me, right? Anyway, there are still some great deals in the store that will qualify you for your own 20GB of cloud storage. Here are a few areas to check out:

Yes. I Really Do Get Paid To Tweet and Blog.

This post started off as an email to a few family and friends, but I figured I might as well share with the world.

I’ll start with a clarification: If your only goal in using social media is money, you will probably fail miserably. A passion for writing and engaging with others is a requirement for success. I don’t care what your marketing gurus, experts, and alleged social media strategists have told you. They are wrong. You have to like this stuff to succeed in it.

Now, there are a bazillion ways to make money for tweeting and blogging. They all require that you have some type of following and that you are active. This may leave you with a chicken-and-egg problem if you’re just getting started, but this will be easily overcome if you refer to the first paragraph of this post.

Without further ado, here are a few of the ways I’ve made money from tweeting and blogging. I’ll spare you all the descriptions and details. Just go sign up and hit me back if you have questions:

Twitter

Blogging

I’m probably forgetting some, but how many do you really need? What you will find is that these services require you to create original content (besides whatever they’ll pay you to write) and build a community. If you don’t have any followers or traffic to your blog, why would they want to pay you?

Don’t just randomly flip all this crap on and spam your followers to death or you will end up alone. Try to be selective and stay focused on your brand/topic. It’s a fine line to walk and stepping off the path will leave you broke.

Of course, there are more advanced ways to earn money from your online activities, but we’ll save those for another day. With gas running at about a million dollars per gallon, it wouldn’t hurt to earn a little extra on the side.