Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Turntable.fm is Shutting Down

Posted by JenThorpe at 10:49 PM on November 26, 2013

turntable logoSay goodbye to turntable.fm. Their official blog states that, “as much as we love turntable.fm”, they have decided to shut it down for good. Instead, they are going to focus their efforts on Turntable Live.

Turntable.fm has been around for about 2 years. According to the official blog, the community has played over 400 million songs in about a million rooms in two years time. In other words, it isn’t going to be shut down due to lack of use. From their blog:

“As much as we all love turntable.fm, we have decided to shut it down to fully concentrate on the Live experience. It was a tough decision to make because we love this community so much, but the cost of running a music service has been too expensive and we can’t outpace it with our efforts to monetize it and cut costs. If we also want to give Turntable Live a real shot, we need to fully focus on it.”

Visit the Turntable official blog to find a link that will let you export your turntable.fm playlists and songs to Spotify or CSV. They are making all the avatars they designed accessible. There is a last day party planned that will happen on turntable.fm on December 2, 2013. Those who are extremely attached to the service may be excited to learn that there will be a special t-shirt available for purchase.

Melody by Soundcast Named CES Honoree

Posted by JenThorpe at 6:13 PM on November 13, 2013

soundcastmelodySoundcast Systems has announced that it has been named as an International CES Innovations 2014 Design and Engineering Awards Honoree for its Melody by Soundcast portable Bluetooth speaker system. It is in two product categories: Portable Media Players and Accessories.

Melody by Soundcast has an omni-directional 360° 8-speaker design. It offers high-quality sound with a deep bass. You can get 20+ hours of uninterrupted use with its internal rechargeable battery system. It has the latest v3.0 Bluetooth and AAC/ Apt-X codecs. Use it to stream music from your own library or from Pandora, Spotify, Rhapsody, iTunes, TuneIn and other apps from both Apple and PC devices.

Melody by Soundcast has a weather resistance case. It also has a built in handle that makes it easy to carry to wherever you want to listen to music at. I can see where it would be really useful at an outdoor or backyard party.

Mike Weaver, president of Soundcast, stated: “The entire Soundcast team is honored beyond measure to receive the prestigious 2014 Innovations Honoree Award for our new Melody portable Bluetooth speaker system.”

The 2014 International CES will run from January 7, 2014 through January 10, 2014. It takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada. Those of you who are attending can check out Soundcast’s Melody in The Venetian Innovations 2014 Design and Engineering Pavilion, where it will be on display.

Moxytronix CordCruncher Earbuds Review

Posted by Andrew at 3:50 PM on October 22, 2013

Moxytronix‘s CordCruncher earbud headphones are the latest attempt to defeat that bane of modern life, knotted and twisted audio cords. These tangle-free headphones solve the problem by using a secondary rubber tube to retract and hold the cords when not in use. Cunning.

image

The headphones come in a small pack, with three pairs of different-sized interchangeable earbuds. I would imagine that anyone who is used to wearing earbuds will have no problems here. The CordCrunchers are available in a range of colours, included a very hot pink which the photos below completely fail to reproduce – it’s a gamut thing.

image

The picture above shows the CordCruncher in the retracted state with all the cord inside the rubber tube – it’s only about 18″ long. To use the headphones, hold the jack end and pull on the earbud cords, drawing the leads out of the tube to a full length of over 3 feet. The picture below shows the Crunchers with the cords extracted. The zigzag gives a clue as to how the cord “crunches” up inside the tube.

Headphones extracted

To pack the earbuds away, hold the jack in one hand and then pull the black collar away from the jack. The rubber tube is latex and stretches enormously until the cables are back inside. Gently relax and everything concertinas back up to the original length, tucking all the cables away. It’s not that easy to explain, so here’s a video.

After using the CordCrunchers for a week or two, I can confirm that they actually work and tangled cords are a thing of the past. I carried these round in my sports bag during testing and I never had a single tangle. Yank them out, stick them in your ears and get to work.

Sonically they’re not the greatest earbuds ever and in comparison with Sennheiser CX-300s, the sound is muddy and poorly defined. To be fair, the CX-300s cost about twice the price and audio fidelity isn’t the main reason for buying the CordCrunchers. However, I hope that Moxytronic do consider a higher end model in the future for those who demand more.

Pricewise, they’re around US$25 and here in the UK, they’re being sold by Advanced MP3 Players for a £19.99 in a range of four colours (pink, green, black and blue).

Finally, my six year-old daughter thought they were cool, which is probably more to do with the pinkness than anything else.

Thanks to DAD and Advanced MP3 Players for providing the CordCrunchers for review.

Google Play celebrates The Clash

Posted by Alan at 9:14 AM on September 10, 2013

The Clash did not start the Punk music movement, but the band helped define it in conjunction with others such as The Jam, Sex Pistols and The Damned. More than 30 years later, much of this music has survived the test of time and today Google Play is commemorating one of the most popular bands of the era.

the clash

As Google points out, “from the reggae-inspired social commentary of tracks like “White Man in Hammersmith Palais,” to hip-hop infused cuts like “Magnificent Seven” and even Top 40 hits such as “Rock the Casbah,” their songs gave a generation a lifelong connection not just to the Clash, but to music in general”.

In celebration of the re-release of some of The Clash’s most popular work, Google Play has teamed with the surviving members (Joe Strummer passed away in 2002) to produce a series titled Audio Ammunition and featuring unseen footage of the late Joe Strummer discussing the arc of the band’s career.

Part one of this five-part series can been seen on Google Play, and you can check out the other four parts on Play YouTube channel at youtube.com/googleplay. Digging out your London Calling album is optional.

Torch launches Android Music app

Posted by Alan at 4:12 AM on August 29, 2013

torch musicTorch, an increasingly popular web browser based on Chrome, is known for some of the built-in features it brings to users. One of those is its music discovery and playback. The Music feature has now struck out on its own.

Torch Music is now available from Google Play Store. The app is free and offers millions of songs and videos straight to your phone. That means that you can get the amazing experience of Torch Music anywhere you go. The app runs in the background so you don’t have to stop listening to your music.

You will be able to listen to playlists that you have saved while using Torch Music on your computer, or you can make a playlist and listen to it straight from your phone.

Torch Music for Android offers you music from thousands of artists. There is also a Suggested feature, which offers personalized song suggestions. You can even check out which songs are most played using the Popular feature.

Rdio introduces Pandora-like channels

Posted by Alan at 2:46 PM on August 8, 2013

rdio stations

The digital music market continues to heat up with a growing amount of competitors, such as Pandora, Spotify, Google Music All Access, Xbox Music and others. Now Rdio today announces that it will try to stay competitive by introducing customized, personal channels for your music.

“We’re thrilled to reveal the new and improved Stations today. We’ve made stations smarter and custom-tailored to you, creating an effortless listening experience that highlights the best of Rdio: elegant design and social discovery”.

The new enhancement gets top-billing in the left column. You can click Stations to find new station types like popular genre stations and You FM — a station comprised of artists and songs inspired by your taste in music.

The new feature includes You FM, which is a brand new, personalized, adjustable station that leverages Taste Profiling technology from The Echo Nest and incorporates all your listening history, track voting, Facebook likes, Twitter follows, and more to create a truly unique and individualized listening experience. As your tastes grow and evolve, so does You FM.

Print Magazine Sales Plunge

Posted by tomwiles at 10:24 AM on August 7, 2013

Single-copy print magazine sales plunged by another 10% in the first half of 2013 according to the AAM’s (Alliance for Audited Media) 2013 half-year report. Extensive details can be found on their website here at this link to their report.

I remember back in the 1980′s subscribing to print magazines such as Stereo Review, Digital Audio & Compact Disc Review, Popular Photography, Videomaker Magazine, PC World, PC Computing, Hot CoCo, etc. I originally came into contact with most of the magazines I ended up subscribing to via magazine news stands.

Somewhere along the way my interest seemed to wain and I allowed those magazine subscriptions to drop. Looking back, it’s probable that the Internet itself via desktop computers started consuming the time that would otherwise default to reading magazines, which in turn caused me to lose interest and allow those magazine subscriptions to drop.

Today, I subscribe to the digital version of Mac Life via the Barnes & Noble Nook app. I might subscribe to more digital versions of magazines if I could find some I really liked on a consistent basis. Though many magazines offer digital 30 day trials, I’m not easily enticed to take the plunge.

With movies and TV shows Netflix offers unlimited streaming for thousands of movies and TV shows, akin to renting unlimited access to their giant ever-changing movie and TV catalog . Services such as Google Music are offering unlimited streaming and downloading of millions of MP3 files for a monthly fee, sort of akin to renting unlimited access to a huge chunk of all available music, including most of the latest stuff. Stop paying the subscription and the movies and music immediately go away.

If someone were to offer a monthly subscription to a large catalog of digital versions of magazines, I would probably bite if they were an appealing collection of magazines. I don’t know if the print magazine business is desperate enough yet to move to this sort of digital magazine stand subscription model, but looking at the successful trends set by Netflix, Amazon Prime Videos, and services such as Google Music, it seems to me the handwriting is on the wall for the magazine business.

Smartphone and tablet time are encroaching heavily on time that used to be spent with desktop and laptop computers, and that encroachment continues to accelerate. We are therefore turning into tablet and smartphone consumers. Apps with good content are what generate much of the appeal of tablets and smartphones. Tablets in particular can offer a good, clean digital magazine experience via apps. I believe there is an opportunity for the print business to close the circle and reinvent themselves as the right digital magazine news stand apps, offering all-you-can-eat subscription access to the right racks of digital versions of magazines. It will happen sooner or later. The process can be more or less painful for the magazine industry depending on how long they are able to remain in denial, and how much they drag their feet.

We are now tablet consumers. The new name of the game is going after my tablet time as that tablet consumer. Content creators and sellers are now competing with things like Angry Birds, Netflix, Amazon, various music services, etc.

Offer me a clean, all-you-can-eat, easy-to-use package to a large digital magazine stand where I can browse through and skim through articles and adds just like I can in the real world at a physical magazine stand, and I will subscribe.

Blizzard’s Music Now on Pandora

Posted by JenThorpe at 5:25 PM on August 4, 2013

pandora-logoPandora recently added music from video games by Blizzard Entertainment to its Video Game Music Station. You can now listen to music from World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Star Craft through Pandora for free. You can stream it through a browser or through a mobile Pandora client. It looks like this is available to people who are inside the United States only.

The music in video games has improved greatly since the early days. It started with catchy little tunes that you cannot get out of your head. How many of you can “sing” the Mario Bros. theme song, or the melody from Tetris? Today, video games have added epic soundtracks that can include full orchestras, ethereal vocals, and a moody soundscape. It has become complex, and rich, and something you can enjoy even if you don’t happen to play a particular video game.

In addition to music from World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Starcraft, the Pandora Video Games Music Station also includes music from games made by companies other than Blizzard. There are tracks from Gears of War, Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, Silent Hill, and more. When I went to check this out, the Station selected music from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for me to listen to.

Lollapalooza comes to YouTube live this weekend

Posted by Alan at 10:20 AM on August 2, 2013

The Lollapalooza music festival has been around for quite some time, originating with Perry Ferrell and Jane’s Addiction. The concert series persists, and will take place this weekend in Chicago — in fact, starting today at 2:30pm CST, taking place from Grant Park and featuring more than 20 artists.

The entire festival will be broadcast live on YouTube. The Google-owned video site announces “From Friday’s kickoff with Icona Pop (we love it), to Nine Inch Nails’ first U.S. performance since 2009, to Steve Aoki and The Cure closing out the weekend on Sunday, it’s all on YouTube”.

Best of all, those who didn’t, or couldn’t get tickets or travel to the Windy City need not worry. because sitting on the sofa will yield the same live action as the expensive tickets and trip to the city. Now the difficult part is up to you — spending your weekend being lazy! Personally, I plan to utilize my Google TV for the big screen experience.

SoundCloud Gives You More Control

Posted by JenThorpe at 10:28 PM on July 27, 2013

SoundCloudSoundCloud just got a little bit easier to navigate. They have added some new features that people have been asking them for. It’s always nice when a company not only listens to feedback from its users but also makes changes in response to requests.

SoundCloud released their brand new play controls earlier this week. To use them, you need to begin by selecting a song to listen to. Any piece of music will do.

In the upper right hand corner of the screen on your browser, you will find the new controls that were released. You can now hit pause, an incredibly convenient button to have if you need to get up from your computer for a moment. You can now pick up exactly where you left off in listening to a song.

You can also skip to the next sound, or go back to a previous one. In short, you now have the control to pick out the exact portion of any song on SoundCloud, and begin listening to it from that point. I can see where this would be handy if you were trying to catch lyrics or to discern what type of instrument was playing in the background of a song you were listening to.

SoundCloud users can also make use of the “previous” feature to return to a song that they were listening to before the one they are currently enjoying. All of these new features make it easier to navigate through SoundCloud in a way that is tailor made for your personalized listening preferences.