GNC #1179 Calling ET a Good Idea?



So we discuss the merits of Calling ET versus trying to find them first. The ramifications will likely never be known by all of us.. But who knows 300 years from now someone might show up. I also talk a bit about the MSM and the power they have over New Media creators.

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Play Heroes of the Storm and Get a World of Warcraft Mount



Blizzard Entertainment announced that the Primal Flamesaber Mount is now available. It is a mount that can only be used in World of Warcraft. In order to get this new mount, a player must play Heroes of the Storm (another one of Blizzard’s games).

Mounts are very useful in World of Warcraft because they can help your character get from one place to another very quickly. It is possible for players to earn several mounts just by playing World of Warcraft. Other mounts can be purchased from the Blizzard Store. Once in a while, Blizzard offers a World of Warcraft mount that players cannot get unless they play a different Blizzard game.

Such is the case with the Primal Flamesaber mount.  To get this mount, players need to leave Azeroth and venture into the Nexus. Play 15 Heroes of the Storm matches with a friend from your Battle.net friends list between now and March 13, 2017. Both you, and your friend, have to play Heroes that originated in World of Warcraft.

In addition, players who complete that goal will also get a Judgment Charger mount, and a 10-day Stimpack, that they can use in Heroes of the Storm.

This offer is great for players who already play both of those Blizzard games and who have at least one friend on their Battle.net friends list who plays Heroes of the Storm.

This is not the first time that Blizzard has offered a special mount to World of Warcraft players who spend some time playing one of Blizzard’s other games. In 2014, players who won three games in Hearthstone earned themselves a Hearthsteed to use in World of Warcraft.


Over 80 More Pokémon are Coming to Pokémon GO



Pokemon Go logoThose of you who have been getting bored with Pokémon GO might want to give it another try. Niantic, creator of Pokémon GO, announced that they are adding new features and over 80 more Pokémon to the game.

Starting later this week, players will have the opportunity to catch more than 80 Pokémon that are brand new to Pokémon GO. These new Pokémon are ones that were originally discovered in the Johto region in the Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver games. In addition, Niantic will start rolling out Pokémon with gender-specific variations.

There will also be more opportunities to evolve your Pokémon in Pokémon GO. Some Pokémon that were originally discovered in the Kanto region will soon evolve into Pokémon that inhabit the Johto region. PokéStops will now offer new Evolution items that players will need to use in order to evolve some Pokémon.

Players may notice changes to the behavior of the Pokémon they see in the wild. Some may react in new ways as you try to catch them. Another new change allows players to easily select Berries and Poké Balls right from the encounter screen.

PokéStops will start offering two new kinds of Berries. Give a Nanab Berry to a Pokémon – and it will slow the Pokémon’s movements (making it easier for you to catch it.) Give a Pinap Berry to a Pokémon. If you successfully catch that Pokémon on your next attempt – you will get double the Candy.


Twitter has Started Giving Abusive Users a Time Out



Twitter has announced some updates that are designed to make Twitter a safer place. These improvements build upon the work that Twitter began in November of 2016. One of the most interesting updates involves a “time out” for abusive users. Twitter explained their motivations this way:

Making Twitter a safer place is our primary focus. We stand for freedom of expression and people being able to see all sides of any topic. That’s put in jeopardy when abuse and harassment stifle and silence those voices. We won’t tolerate it and we’re launching new efforts to stop it.

Twitter announced three changes. One was to stop the creation of new abusive accounts. Twitter is now taking steps to identify people who have been permanently suspended and will stop them from creating new accounts.

Another change is a “safer search”, which “removes Tweets that contain potentially sensitive content and Tweets from blocked and muted accounts from search results.” Twitter says that content will still be discoverable – if you want to find it. Tweets from people you blocked or muted will not automatically appear when you search for something on Twitter.

Personally, I’m a big fan of that new update. It takes away the instant gratification that some people appear to get by flooding a hashtag on a topic they disagree with with incoherent rage and images that Twitter would describe as “sensitive content”. At least, that’s what I hope the “safer search” will do.

The third change involves abusive or low-quality Tweets. Twitter has been working on identifying those kinds of Tweets and collapsing them. The result is that you will only see the most relevant replies and Tweets. Again, you can go dig up the Tweets you missed if you want to.

The most interesting update, in my opinion, involves an actual “time out” for people who break Twitter’s terms of service. Mashable reported that some users are receiving notices that Twitter temporarily limited their account features. The full features will be restored after 12 hours, and that countdown does not start until the user clicks a button. In the meantime, only that user’s followers will be able to see his or her Twitter activity.


YouTube is Adding Four Original Series for Kids



YouTube announced that their Original Content team, under Susan Daniels, is adding four new Original series to YouTube Red. The new series are created with the YouTube Kids app in mind. These four new series will debut in the spring. Additional shows are in development and will premier throughout 2017.

The new series will feature DanTDM, Joe and Cody of TheAtlanticCraft, popular tween music act L2M, and Fruit Ninja. This is the first time YouTube Red has invested in creators who are producing original programming for family audiences.

Hyperlinked – This series is inspired by a true story. It stars music sensation L2M. It follows five girls as they come together to create their own website by girls for girls. They also have to navigate everyday tween issues involving friends and relationships.

DanTDM Creates A Big Scene – DanTDM and his lively group of animated friends battle mayhem and misadventure to keep their brand new live show on the road. Each episode follows their behind-the-scenes exploits as they learn new skills, overcome challenges, and find that putting on an epic show isn’t as easy as it looks.

The Kings of Atlantis – This is an epic animated series that follows two young monarchs – Cody and Joe- in the vast underwater city of Atlantis as they seek to overthrow the brutal usurper of their kingdom, reclaim their birthright, and protect their people from his cruel reign.

Fruit Ninja: Frenzy Force – Four Fruit Ninjas set up a juice stand as a front for the messiest secret service in the world. The new Fruit Ninja characters – Seb, Niya, Peng, and Ralph – come together to fight the evil forces of Durian Grey and Deep Fried Samauri.

YouTube Kids is also coming soon to Smart TVs. The YouTube Kids app will be available soon for download on a number of internet-connected LG and Samsung Smart TVs.


Facebook Announced New Ways to Watch Facebook Video



Facebook announced some updates that will give Facebook users new ways to watch Facebook video. It appears that the idea is to give users more flexibility on how and when they watch videos on Facebook.

Previously, Facebook users would have videos in their News Feed that silently played. Those that wanted to hear the sound had to click on an individual video. The new update, which is slowly being brought to users, will have sound automatically start playing on the videos in your News Feed. The sound will fade in and out as you scroll through videos in your News Feed.

If you don’t like that idea, there is a way to disable it. Go into your Facebook Settings and switch off “Videos in News Feed Start With Sound.” If you view Facebook on your phone, and your phone is set to silent, the videos will not play with sound.

Facebook is now offering a larger preview of vertical videos in News Feed on mobile. The larger format is now available on both iOS and Android.

It is now possible to watch a Facebook video and scroll through your News Feed at the same time. Users can minimize the video that they want to watch to a picture-in-picture view that plays in the corner of the screen. Users can drag the video to any corner of the screen they want to. People who view Facebook on an Android device can keep the video playing as they exit the Facebook app to do something else on their phones.

The biggest part of the update is the announcement of a Facebook video app for TV, which will roll out soon to app stores for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Samsung Smart TV (with more platforms to come.) This is an expansion upon an existing ability to stream videos from Facebook to your TV.

The Facebook video app for TV will let you watch videos shared by friends or Pages you follow. It will show you top live videos from around the world, and will recommend videos based on your interest. You can also catch up on videos that you’ve saved to watch later, or to revisit videos you already watched, shared, or uploaded.


GNC #1178 Verizon Unlimited – Limited



Verizon should be ashamed of themselves, after going through and purging as many of their truly Unlimited customers as possible has introduced a Verizon Unlimited – Limited data plan with data caps of 22GB before throttling the connection. I really wish all mobile companies could not use the word Unlimited unless they really meant it. In my opinion it’s very unfair to those that do not read the fine print.

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Valve will Replace Greenlight with Steam Direct



Valve announced that they will replace Steam Greenlight with Steam Direct. The reason for the change is to better serve their goal of making customers happy. Steam decided it needed to move away from a small group of people at Valve trying to predict which games would appeal to different groups of customers.

Steam Greenlight was launched because Valve felt it was a useful stepping stone for moving to a more direct distribution system. Greenlight is a community-focused program that uses a voting system to determine which games are published on Steam. Games that got enough community support are “greenlit”.

Valve is replacing Greenlight with a new direct sign-up system for developers to put their games on Steam. It is called Steam Direct.

This new path, which we’re calling “Steam Direct”, is targeted for Spring 2017 and will replace Steam Greenlight. We will ask new developers to complete a set of digital paperwork, personal or company verification, and tax documents similar to the process of applying for a bank account. Once set up, developers will pay a recoupable application fee for each new title they wish to distribute, which is intended to decrease the noise in the submission pipeline.”

At the moment, Valve is still debating what that application fee should be. They talked to several developers and studios about an appropriate fee, and they got a range of responses from $100 to $5,000. Valve wants more feedback before it settles on what the fee will be.

The existence of a fee might dissuade people from trying to get low-quality games onto Steam. That being said, if the fee is too high, it might make it difficult or impossible for small companies, or independent game creators, from being able to afford to get their game on Steam.


Instapaper Restored After Extended Outage



If you use Instapaper, you may have noticed that it recently experienced an extended outage.  The outage began on February 8, at 12:30 PM PT. Instapaper announced the outage in a blog post on February 9, 2017.

After spending multiple hours on the phone with our cloud service provider, it appears we hit a system limit for our hosted database that’s preventing new articles from being saved. At this time, our only option is to export all data from our old database and import it into a new one.

Instapaper expected that their service would be fully recovered on February 9. In the meantime, Instapaper assured its users “we haven’t lost any data.” It let people know that “anything you’ve already saved to Instapaper is safe.”

In a follow-up post on February 9, Instapaper reported that, after 31 hours of downtime, they were able to rebuild a database instance and get Instapaper back online. That being said, the full recovery would take time.

Users need to know that anything you’ve saved since December 30, 2016, is accessible. Instapaper is working on getting the rest of your articles restored. Again, Instapaper reassures people that there hasn’t been any data loss. The full database exports were taking longer than expected. They are aiming to have the full archives back up by February 17, 2017, at the latest.


GNC #1177 Net Neutrality Battle Ahead



I talk at length about the upcoming Net Neutrality battle. I also talk about why spending more than 10 minutes on Facebook may be hazardous to your health and why it and the news in general has me stressed out.. Time to take a media break.. Plus all the tech news you can handle. Are you a gamer? Time sensitive information in this show for you.

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