PTJ 101 News: Song of Dice and Ire

openThis past Tuesday was supposed to be the end of the first-round public comment period for the proposed Net Neutrality (or Open Internet) rules but forth by the Federal Communications Commission. Due to an overwhelming volume of people trying to deposit their $0.2, however, the FCC has now extended the initial round of comments until Friday, July 18th, at midnight. [Quick! To the Rantmobile!] The FCC’s website even has a chart showing the huge flurry of messages coming in through the site’s Electronic Comment Filing System on this particular topic. In addition to mere mortals, several large tech companies  have stated their support for an open internet and thirteen US senators also called on the FCC to support net neutrality. A decision could come in September, after the next round of comments.

The FCC is also hearing it from the DISH network, which has formally asked the agency to block the pending Comcast-Time Warner merger due to serious competitive concerns. (By the way, the FCC just picked its panel last week to review that looming deal.) DISH also doesn’t like the proposed AT&T and DirecTV merger, but the company should be celebrating the recent court ruling in favor of its Hopper DVRs.

Adding to the alphabet soup: the FAA and the FTC: A few weeks ago, the Federal Aviation Administration said it wasn’t authorizing drones for commercial use, but Amazon is persisting. Last week, the megamoo überstore filed an official request to the administrator of the FAA to ask for an official exemption from the No Commercial Drones rule.  In other Amazon news, the battle with publishers over ebook pricing drags on and oh, by the way, the Federal Trade Commission just sued the company for improperly billing parents for in-app purchases made by their children.

drones

If the rumors are to be believed, the iPhone 6 will come on two sizes, (a 4.7-inch and a 5.5-inch screen model) but are whispers from analysts that the 5.5-phablet-size version will be delayed due to complications with components and the manufacturing process.  So if you want to buy the thing that doesn’t offically exist yet, you may have to wait a little longer.

Microsoft, which is starting to but cloud and mobile moves of its own, has plans for a $199 Windows laptop from HP in time for the holiday season, as well as similar low-cost laptops from Acer and Toshiba for about $249. Take that, Google Chromebooks.

After a month of drama, diving and oh, fútbol, the 2014 World Cup wrapped up in Brazil this past weekend as Germany won the large gold trophy. Along with setting new records for global television viewership, the tournament was also the biggest streaming multimedia video event in history. The Spanish-language channel Univision Deportes got 81 million total viewers for the tournament and was up 34% in viewership from the 2010 World Cup.

Also up in recent numbers — album sales on vinyl. Nielsen Soundscan’s mid-year report shows the once-dominate format for audio recordings has clawed its way back to 4 million units from near-extinction at the hand of CDs and digital downloads .

In robot news, the folks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are working on phase-changing material made from wax and foam that could allow robots to become “squishy” or shift between hard and soft states. These robots are intended for good works.

supermoonNow, if you missed the supermoon on July 12th, there’s another one on August 10th, and some are calling it the superdupermoon because it will be even brighter and larger than the previous mere supermoon. August 10th will see the moon’s perigree coincide with the hour that the moon itself is most full. There will also be a supermoon hat-trick this year, with another (but dimmer) one occurring on September 9th.
Mark your calendars.

The frostiness between Samsung and Google is probably going to get a little more polar vortex-y as Samsung has opened its own Android app store that its users can shop instead of Google Play. The new store is called Galaxy Apps and claims hundreds of exclusive programs just for Samsung shoppers.

Samsung is also working with Google’s Nest division on their own Internet of Things standards club called Thread Group.  They are not alone.

And finally, Dungeons & Dragons is not just a role-playing game, it’s a skill-builder for writers and programmers. As The New York Times reported earlier this week, several renowned authors like Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Junot Díaz, Sherman Alexie, Sharyn McCrumb and yes, George R.R. Martin were all influenced by the game and said it helped with their development as writers. D&D’s ability to teach players creativity, narrative and problem-solving skills is nothing new. In his 1998 Gen X memoir, Extra Life: Coming of Age in Cyberspace, author Davis S. Bennahum said the complexity of the game even got him into computer programming. Perhaps there’s hope for the younger generation today, who have grown bored with repetitive casual games. Wizards of the Coast just released a Dungeons & Dragons Starter Kit for $20 this week.  Get rolling!

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