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Netflix to Raise Prices as Subscriber Base Grows
Netflix Price Hike Coming – Despite Big Profits
A police raid to learn who was behind a Twitter account that mocked an Illinois mayor has so far resulted in one arrest, but officials said Monday the investigation continues, as free speech advocates express concern.
The account -- @Peoriamayor -- was created about nine weeks ago and had about 50 parody tweets, mostly about Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis supposedly using illegal drugs and associating with prostitutes, before Twitter suspended it in mid-March.
The account, which had only about 50 followers, was marked as a parody roughly a week before being suspended. But Peoria police took matters a step further on April 15 by executing a search warrant at the home of a suspect, whom they believed was unlawfully trying to impersonate a public official.
The Star Journal of Peoria reports the warrant and raid were ordered by Ardis, who is now facing a public backlash, largely on social media and in editorial pages where he is being accused of trying to step on First Amendment rights.
A resident of the home told the newspaper that police seized computers and smart phones in the raid, in an apparent attempt to learn who was behind the Twitter account.
The crime is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $2,500 fine and one year in jail.
Three people at the home during the raid were taken to a police station for questioning. Two other occupants were visited at their workplace, then taken in for questioning.
A Peoria Police Department spokesman confirmed to FoxNews.com that one resident was charged in connection with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. However, the investigation is ongoing, which prevents officials from discussing whether police will make additional arrests, he said.
“I find it very troubling,” said Angela Campbell, a professor at Georgetown University Law School. “It chills people’s First Amendment rights to criticize officials … whether it’s through parody or just calling somebody a jerk.”
Campbell, a First Amendment specialist, also questioned whether the charge of unlawfully impersonating a public official applies, since its intent is stop somebody from, for example, posing as a police officer to extract money or sex in exchange for ignoring a traffic violation.
Aaron Caplan, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, raised similar concernsabout free speech and the impersonation issue.
“This absolutely raises concerns for me,” he said. “Under the Constitution, you can criticize people in power. It’s how you can tell the difference between a democracy and a police state. And you can do it through humor.”
However, he also has concerns about First Amendment retaliation and Fourth Amendment issues regarding the search warrant.
Caplan says executing a search warrant is unusual in the case of a misdemeanor, although he is not an expert on Illinois state law.
“I need more facts, but it smells a little like retaliation,” he said.
Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard told the newspaper the intent of the account, which also included tweets about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, was not clearly identified as satire.
“In fact it appears that someone went to great lengths to make it appear it was actually from the mayor,” he said.
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Can this controversial startup convince you to pay for over-the-air television?
More than 5 million Americans have already cut the cord on cable, and continued improvements in video streaming tech have made the prospect of permanently ditching an expensive cable subscription more enticing than ever.
Many cord-cutters watch live TV via old-fashioned, over-the-air (OTA) broadcasts from local stations—and these days they're even in HD. Aereo wants to bring that OTA content into the streaming fold. Its concept is genius, ridiculous, and/or patently illegal, depending on whom you ask: The company uses huge arrays of tiny digital antennas to record the local broadcasts, then charges a fee to stream that content directly to your PC, iPhone, iPad, Android device (4.1+), or Roku box.
If you're like us, you might have a hard time getting over the psychological barrier of paying for free content ($8 or $12, depending on the plan). But really, that's a straw-man dilemma. With Aereo, you're not paying for the content; you're really paying for a DVR and mobile access to that content.
For the moment, the service is only available in 11 markets: New York City, Boston, Detroit, Baltimore, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Miami. (The company lists another 16 cities as "coming soon.")
When Aereo flipped the switch in Beantown last June, we signed up for a trial account to see what all the fuss was about.
A SEAMLESS EXPERIENCE
Aereo's web-based interface is simple and easy to use. Signup is a familiar three-step process—choose your plan, choose your username, provide payment info. The programming guide is just like what you're used to from recent cable and satellite boxes, but vastly improved due to its mouse and touch-driven interface.
Jumping into a live broadcast from the guide is quick—on our speedy broadband connection it took about 10 seconds on average—and you get HD (720p) video right away. You can manually choose between three quality levels or leave it to Aereo to figure out what your connection can handle.
The video itself is perfectly acceptable, though a little less smooth and slightly mushier than an identical cable broadcast. The only time we noticed any significant pixilation was when there were a ton of details on screen—explosions, fast-moving action sequences, and the like. Sound quality is similarly solid, though those with expensive surround-sound setups might be disappointed that it's limited to stereo output.
We tested the service on a Windows desktop PC, Apple MacBook Pro, iPhone 5, and Roku 2 XS. Basic video playback worked splendidly on each and every one of them.
INTUITIVE DVR OPTIONS
The baseline entry fee of $8 per month gets you 20 hours of DVR space, though you can record only one show at a time and can't watch one show while recording another.
If you need a bit more room, you can opt for a $12 per month plan that gets you 60 hours of storage and the ability to record two shows at once. With this plan, you can also watch and record different shows at the same time.
Aereo's DVR implementation has a lot in common with modern cable DVRs: You can change starting and ending times, record shows on a recurring basis, assign priorities in the recording queue, and choose how many episodes of each show you want to keep before the oldest is deleted.
Navigating through a recording is simple. When using the web-based player you can click and drag on a timeline slider at the bottom of the video window. You can also skip back and forward in 30-second increments using your arrow keys. As with most other streaming services, there are no traditional fast-forward and rewind controls—only the slider and arrow keys.
JUST A FEW EXTRAS
Beyond live and recorded TV viewing, there isn't much else to Aereo.
The built-in search function mostly does what you want it to do. On the plus side, it searches both show titles and descriptions for your search term, maximizing possible results. On the downside, multi-word searches bring up results for one word or the other; in just one example, searching for "Formula One" brings up all kinds of results that happen to have "one" in their title or description. Aereo tries to sort by relevance, but the signal-to-noise ratio can be an issue.
The channel guide can be customized, hiding stations you're not so interested in. (Don't speak Spanish? You can hide Univision!) You can also select optional, non-broadcast channels, though so far the only one available is Bloomberg TV.
CAN'T I DO THIS MYSELF FOR LESS MONEY?
Well, maybe. Parts of it. But whether you want to go to the trouble is another question.
You could write a book on the dozens of devices that can either provide local DVR service or send live TV to your phone and tablet. If you have a cheap HD antenna, you can hook it up to a TV tuner card on your PC, or plug the cable into a device like the $80 SiliconDust HDHomeRun. Then there's the granddaddy of time-shifted video, TiVo, which asks $150 for the device itself and another $15 in monthly fees. All of these provide DVR functionality of some sort, but don't re-transmit video to your mobile devices.
The real wildcard is Slingbox. Unlike the other options, it doesn't provide DVR functionality (though you can hook it up to a DVR device). Instead, it can broadcast live TV (either OTA or cable/satellite) to your mobile devices. Equally important, it lets you control your digital antenna or cable box remotely when you're away from home.
The Slingbox is a really versatile and powerful device, but its cost of entry is significantly higher than Aereo's: $180 for the cheapest Slingbox and then $15 for the mobile app. And there's a different app for phones and tablets, so if you want to use both an iPhone and an iPad, that'll be $30. (Got Android devices, too? Get ready to spend more.)
You could eventually save a bit of money with most of these solutions (TiVo excepted), but it would take at least a year of Aereo service to cover the up-front cost of even the cheapest option. Then there are the inevitable headaches involved in getting them up and running; if you're not technologically inclined, the alternatives may be more trouble than they're worth.
That's where Aereo really shines—it's simple enough for anyone to use.
A COUPLE OF GLITCHES
Though Aereo's web-based interface is truly gorgeous, there a few bugs that wriggle to the surface when you shrink it down to smartphone size. Play, stop, and record buttons on the phone are quite small and difficult to hit on the first try. We also found we were unable to get back to the main menu from the program guide; we'd have to select a channel to get the menu button to appear again.
But those are minor quirks that Aereo can easily patch. The only significant letdown—and one that will be harder to fix—was the Roku app, which simply isn't as beautiful or intuitive as the website. The channel guide is particularly annoying on the Roku. Instead of the intuitive grid layout, you're stuck with either a side-scrolling list of channels or a list of currently airing shows. It's a pain to navigate, and ugly as well.
There's one last hiccup to consider: If you leave your local broadcast area, Aereo stops working. That's by design, probably a safeguard against legal action from the networks. So if you go on vacation or travel for work, you won't be able to access live broadcasts or DVR recordings. (Slingbox, it should be mentioned, has no such limitations.) If you're particularly internet-skilled, you can probably set up a proxy network to skirt the issue, but most users will simply be out of luck until they get back home.
WORTH A TRY?
There's no question that Aereo has put together a beautiful and supremely functional service. It does what it says—no muss, no fuss.
Frankly, the chances that Aereo will be right for the average TV-watcher are pretty slim.Whether it's right for you is another, very personal question. There are many potential use-cases, each presenting a slightly different value proposition. But frankly, the chances that Aereo will be right for the average TV-watcher are pretty slim.
Who would it work for? We can think of three major possibilities. First, there are those who are already on an OTA-only diet and want inexpensive DVR functionality, a more convenient interface, and an easy way to watch TV on their mobile devices. Second, there are those already interested in cutting the cord, looking for any excuse to pull the trigger. And then there are those who have already made the move to a streaming-only setup—for them, it's just icing on the cake.
While we'd wager that plenty of curiosity-seekers will sign up just to see what the fuss is about, we just can't imagine too many of them will stick around for the long haul. Not many of the United States' 116 million TV-viewing households have a genuine need for the service that Aereo provides.
By Mike Snider / USA TODAY
As consumers stream more music, device makers have tuned in with new ways to stream tunes at home.
Spending on streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora surged to $1.4 billion in 2013, up 39%, the Recording Industry of America says. Digital download sales remained stable at about $2.8 billion, the largest spending category.
As consumers embrace digital sound, they are looking for ways to fill their homes with it. Sales of Bluetooth-enabled speakers rose 46% to $385 million, the Consumer Electronics Association says. Rising even more: sales of multiroom audio and video components, which nearly doubled in 2013, to $586 million.
Interest in streaming music will likely drive healthy increases in both categories this year, says Steve Koenig, CEA's director of industry analysis. "These streaming services and streaming your own music is the big thing right now," he says. "It's liberating because you don't need to dock anything. It's all wirelessly transmitted."
With interest in digital music turned up, companies such as Beats Electronics have expanded their speaker repertoire.
Launched late in 2013, the 13.3-inch Beats Pill XL ($300) is a larger version of the Pill portable Bluetooth speaker ($200), brought to market in 2012. This helps Beats keep pace with competitor Jawbone, which most recently has added the slimmer pocket-fitting Mini Jambox ($150) to its lineup. Both speaker lines connect wirelessly to Bluetooth-enabled smartphones and tablets and have input jacks.
Samsung has incorporated Wi-Fi and streaming video apps into its smart TVs for several years. It recently debuted its first wireless speaker, the Shape M7 ($350). The wedge-shaped M7 has five individual speakers built-in — two tweeters, two midrange drivers and a woofer — along with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and near-field communications (NFC) compatibility.
The speaker can be used individually, in pairs for enhanced stereo sound and used to create a surround sound system. You can connect via Bluetooth to play stored music or a streaming service from a smartphone or tablet stream stored.
A Samsung Shape Wireless Audio Hub ($50) connects to your home Wi-Fi network and lets you add more speakers into other rooms — all connected and controlled with a free Samsung Multiroom App on your Samsung Galaxy or Note device. And networked speakers can deliver better-sounding music than that of Bluetooth-connected devices.
"It's phenomenal from a consumer standpoint because it's all about building blocks. I can choose to buy one of these speakers now, and then later on when I want to expand from my living room to bedroom sound, I can buy another speaker," says Dave Das, vice president of home entertainment marketing at Samsung. "All of it connects seamlessly and wirelessly, so it's really easy and clutter-free."
Even more focused on multiroom audio is custom electronics company NuVo Technologies. After providing hardwired multiroom audio systems for more than 20 years, NuVo began offering wireless systems in 2012.
Its research and development paralleled the advent of Apple's iPod and arrival of streaming services such as Pandora. "The rise of the Internet of Things has led us, as a consumer buying group in the U.S., to also have the idea that you can have anything and it should be able to be wireless," says Desiree Webster, NuVo's marketing communications manager.
This system is ideal if you have a pair or two of stereo speakers sitting around the home collecting dust. NuVo's system can be easily set up with a $199 Gateway that connects to your wireless router and a Player (either the P100, priced at $479, or Bluetooth-supporting P200 at $599, available at www.smarthome.com or www.partsexpress.com; find a local dealer on the company website).
You connect a pair of speakers to a player in whatever room or rooms you want music in. NuVo's Android and iOS apps for phones and tablets walk you through the setup.
Once you are operational, the system will find and play music on any devices connected to your home network — computers, phones, tablets and hard drives — as well as USB drives plugged into the NuVo players. And you can stream audio from Net radio services, too. NuVo players also support playback of high-resolution tracks, including FLAC files, maintaining the CD-like quality.
"You can do up to 16 zones, and it can be in combination of any of the players we offer," Webster says. The room that most people want to add music to is the kitchen, she says. Next, they want music in the living room, the master bedroom-bathroom and on the patio.
"This isn't a one-to-one music relationship where you have one song somewhere and just send it to this one set of speakers. This is a whole-house system that accesses your music anywhere you have it, and you can control it and play it anywhere in your home. Even outside for that matter."
Market leader Sonos continues to add to wireless music system options. Its most recent speaker, the Play1 ($199) is smaller and works as an individual speaker or in pairs as stereo or surround speakers.
Sonos saw its wireless speaker sales nearly double in 2013 to $535 million, says senior public relations manager Eric Nielsen. "Streaming is finally going mainstream," he says.
At market tracking firm The NPD Group, analyst Ben Arnold expects the nearly $1 billion streaming speaker market to continue to grow, though consumers are just starting to become educated on the subject. "I think this is where home music listening is going," he says.
Join @mikesnider on April 8 at noon ET for a Twitter chat about high-tech music. #usatodaytech
By Mike Snider, USA TODAY
The home movie-watching experience continues its technological evolution.
The combination of an HDTV and a Blu-ray Disc player delivers a cinematic experience rivaling that of the multiplex. And thanks to the ever-improving caliber of streaming video, massive movie libraries are just a few clicks away.
Just when you think you are straddling the cutting edge of home cinema, a new standard emerges: Prima Cinema.
The wealthy few who have a $35,000 Prima system can watch first-run movies in the comfort of their own home on the same day many films debut in theaters.
That's a pretty penny to pay, but for some it is money well-spent. Busy business executives, celebrities and professional athletes alike can find themselves with little time for family night at the movies or may prefer home viewing rather than a harried night out.
"What we saw was a sleeper market," says Prima CEO Jason Pang. "Right now, the person who spends $1 million on their custom home theater is watching the same $20 disc as the kid that works at McDonald's."
During the analog decades, studio VIPs and A-list celebrities had movie reels delivered at their residences for special viewings. As the home video market has declined — from $24.5 billion in the DVD boom year of 2004 to about $18.2 billion in 2013 — Hollywood studios have become more willing to discuss a digital system for high rollers.
So far, Pang and Prima have convinced Paramount and Universal to make its films available on the system. Recent releases that Prima customers could watch at home on opening weekend included Dallas Buyers Club, Despicable Me 2 and Rush. Upcoming releases include Neighbors and Draft Day. Prima recently announced a partnership with IMAX to provide opening day availability for IMAX films, too.
"Our goal is to get everything that is in the box office into your home," Pang says. "There are a lot of people out there who are law-abiding citizens who will pay top dollar for the privilege."
Hollywood and tech companies are catering to high-end movie lovers in other ways, too. New Ultra HD TVs that offer four times the resolution of today's HDTVs have been in stores since late 2012, and prices have dropped to $3,000 for 55-inch displays.
Since there's little Ultra HD content available, Sony has been selling a $669 Ultra HD Movie Player, a 2-Terabyte hard drive loaded with 10 films in the higher resolution format, often referred to as "4K" quality. The player, which comes free with some newer Sony 4K Ultra HD TVs, connects to Sony's Video Unlimited service which has more than 200 UHD titles including Captain Phillips, American Hustle and The Monuments Men, as well as hit shows like The Blacklist.
Similarly, Samsung this month begins making available a $299.99 1-Terabyte Video Pack loaded with UHD movies including Night at the Museum, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and World War Z. And Ultra HD TVs from Samsung and LG will be the first to be able to display 4K streaming video from Netflix, which has begun its higher-res delivery of House of Cards.
Other providers planning to stream Ultra HD 4K content include Amazon, Comcast, DirecTV and M-Go.
Even though home theater owners are getting closer to bypassing the theater altogether and watching movies at home, "Hollywood is still incredibly sensitive about their rights and intellectual property," says John Sciacca of Custom Theater and Audio in Murrells Inlet, S.C., and a columnist for Sound and Vision magazine. Studios are "just very slowly dipping their toes into this water," he says.
So for now, Prima is in a league of its own. Films are not streamed as with Netflix; instead you order movies ahead of time, from the constantly updated roster, and they are delivered over broadband. Dual copies are stored on a secure RAID (redundant array of independent disks), so that even if one disk drive goes bad, the specially mirrored hard drives keep playing the movie.
Each movie costs $500, and to prevent unauthorized rentals, the Prima has a built-in fingerprint scanner. Once installed by an approved local firm, Prima provides 24-7 monitoring of the system.
Prima's initial target audience is the 2 million or so homes with home theaters that have cost $500,000 or more. "What we are hearing from our dealers and our own technicians is that initially it seems like an incredibly expensive item," Pang says, "but it's usually the cheapest item in the rack" of home theater components.
"We look at it as a way to entertain. We like to make it into an event," says Karen Freedman, a Prima owner in the Los Angeles area. She and her husband, an entertainment industry executive, will build dinner parties and children's gatherings around a film showing.
"And the cost, relative to taking 10 kids out to the movies is pretty comparable," Freedman says, "and we get to do it in the privacy of our own home. We get to start at whatever time is convenient, and we don't have to worry about driving and parking and all those other logistics. It's really about spending quality time with our family and our friends."
Pang says he hears that a lot. "We thought if you are a person that can have everything, this is the one thing you can't have, a first-run film delivered to your home," he says. "That is really exciting even for billionaires."
David Kender, Reviewed.com / USA TODAY
The light bulb, the very icon of a good idea, is itself getting smarter thanks to a surge of interest from major brands. Simply illuminating a room may someday become an afterthought as new bulbs add entertainment and notification to their list of attributes.
The current movement toward a connected home coincides with new government regulations attempting to abolish most incandescent light bulbs in favor of more energy-efficient bulbs. LED lights appear to be the preferred replacement. They fit into nearly any existing socket, and because most have a 10-year-plus lifespan, investing a few extra dollars for high-tech features begins to make sense.
Philips Leads the Pack
Philips retains its spot as the front-runner in smart lighting with new expansions to its Hue lighting system. The first generation Hue, released in 2012, uses LED bulbs that produce almost any color of your choice. Each bulb talks to a "bridge" device that plugs into your wireless router, all of which is controlled from a smartphone.
Philips has also encouraged the development of third-party apps that interface with the Hue platform, adding features like music responsiveness or blinking alerts when you've received a new e-mail. Hue is definitely fun, but the $199 buy-in for the starter pack — three bulbs plus the bridge — and $60 for additional bulbs might be a bit steep for some.
The new Hue Lux bulbs aim for a lower price by dropping the multiple-color feature in favor of a warm, white light. However, Lux still connects to the same bridge, should you already own one, and can take advantage of the many available apps. The Lux starter kit — two bulbs and a bridge — is $99, with additional bulbs for $39.
The Dutch giant has also turned its attention toward the humble light switch, announcing the wireless Tap. And when Philips says wireless, it means completely wireless, because the Tap does not require any external power source. Instead, each tap from your finger adds just enough kinetic charge to operate the device. Each of the three buttons on the Tap can be programmed to control specific lights or groups of lights. It's also likely to be a more convenient lighting control than a smartphone.
Samsung and LG Join the Party
Though Philips was the first big name to capitalize on smart bulbs, others are quickly following. Samsung and LG announced their competing products within a week of each other. With these two electronics titans entering the field, it's evident that smart lighting is headed beyond the gimmick phase and into an integral part of the smart home arms race.
The Samsung Smart Bulb uses Bluetooth wireless, rather than the Philips Hue's Wi-Fi. This eliminates the need for a bridge device and allows up to 64 bulbs to be controlled directly from a smartphone. The bulbs are also tunable from 2700K (warm) to 6500K (cool) hues of white light. LG unveiled a very similar device, the Smart Lamp, that also connects via Bluetooth. While it's possible that some may prefer the large, gray ridges under the glass (required to cool the bulb), Philips and other LED bulb manufacturers have expressed that removing these elements from the design was important to increasing consumer acceptance of LED.
Far more futuristic looking is LG's OLED Table Lamp, assembled with a curved OLED as the light source. Again, it may not be to everyone's taste, but the technology opens a number of possibilities for designers. Just keep in mind that the OLED Table Lamp may still be in the proof-of-concept, as no pricing or availability has been announced.
Content provided by Lennox
Introducing the most advanced, most efficient, most capable heating and air conditioning system ever created. It’s a triumph of Lennox innovation, comprised of the most advanced technology we’ve ever assembled into one system. Led by the brilliant iComfort Wi-Fi touchscreen thermostat, the Ultimate Comfort System includes:
The precision and efficiency of the XC25/XP25 air conditioner or heat pump.
The continuous warmth and quiet, comfortable airflow of the SLP98V furnace or the cool, blissful comfort of the CBX40UHV air handler.
The consistent, even temperatures of iHarmony zoning system.
The pure, fresh air that comes from the three-way cleaning of PureAir™ whole-home filtration.
It’s the system against which every other will be measured. One that redefines precision, consistency and comfort. It’s quite a story. Because it’s quite a system.
Exactly Right, Every Time
Set a temperature, and the system complies without delay. Your home is filled with precisely heated or cooled air, and the temperature you specify is maintained with an accuracy of 0.5 degree or less. Lennox Precise Comfort™ technology means perfection.
Perfect Comfort With Peace and Quiet
To preserve your flawless indoor environment, the Ultimate Comfort System features variable speed airflow that allows the system to start up and shut down in almost complete silence and create more even, steady temperatures. No whooshing, no pinging, just gentle, consistent comfort every day of the year. In fact, the Ultimate Comfort System operates with such low noise levels you may not even be able to tell it’s on. Except, of course, for the incredibly comfortable air filling every corner of your home.
Comfort Customized for Your Exact Climate
The Ultimate Comfort System doesn’t just adapt to your needs, it even adapts to your part of the country. Simply tell it where you live during setup and Climate IQ™ technology goes to work. In warmer climates, it adjusts airspeed to allow greater humidity control. In cooler climates, the system starts up more slowly to allow the air to absorb more heat before circulation.
Cleaner, Fresher Air With Every Breath
Perfectly heated, cooled and humidified air feels great. But to make it feel even better, and to make it healthier for your family, it must be clean. The Ultimate Comfort System is not only comfortable, but it also features the PureAir™ air purification system. It’s the most effective single air quality solution you can buy, on par with that found in general surgery rooms in hospitals.
Comfortable, Responsible and Renewable
A truly revolutionary system offers more than better air—it offers brilliant new solutions to energy use. The Ultimate Comfort System is so innovative, it can use the SunSource solar modules to power heating and cooling, routing any surplus energy it generates into your home to run small appliances and electronics.
An Exacting Standard of Efficiency
The Ultimate Comfort System is as smart with your energy use as it is with your comfort. Since Precise Comfort technology can modify the intensity of the system’s heating or cooling in increments of 1%, your home stays exactly the way you want it using the least amount of energy possible.
Air Delivered When and Where It’s Needed
Lennox is raising the bar on comfort and control with iHarmony zoning, which allows the Ultimate Comfort System to direct air to specific areas in your home and reduce the airflow to other areas. Your comfort is now customized from room to room and from floor to floor.
Advanced Comfort and Control to Match
At first glance, a system this sophisticated might seem like it would be hard to use. But it isn’t because it’s under the control of the iComfort Wi-Fi touchscreen thermostat, the most advanced thermostat Lennox has ever created. Monitor and adjust your temperature from anywhere in the world. Save energy with just a touch. Get five-day weather forecasts and live weather alerts. It’s all at your fingertips.
Groundbreaking Innovation, Game-changing ComfortSince 1895, Lennox has been on a continuous quest to reinvent home comfort. Perfect air is our purpose and our obsession. Today, we are proud to introduce our newest advancement in that pursuit, one that sacrifices nothing and truly provides comfort without limits. A system that can adapt, anticipate and respond to your demands with unprecedented immediacy and precision. The Lennox Ultimate Comfort System finally achieves what no other manufacturer can: perfection.
NEW YORK — The very first Lytro Light Field camera was novel for a number of reasons, and not just because it looked like an oversized tube of lipstick. It boasted innovative technology that let you shoot a picture first and focus it after the fact.
But Lytro was also a flawed version 1.0 product that initially provided no flash or removable storage, that required a considerable learning curve, and that at $399 or $499 struck me as pricey given such limitations.
On Tuesday, Lytro announces its second coming, the Lytro Illum. The new camera, which is due out in July, is still based on the pioneering light field technology that Lytro's founder Ren Ng did his seminal Ph.D work in at Stanford University. So again you can focus long after capturing an image. But you can also press a button to gauge the relative focus of all the objects in the frame as you're contemplating a shot.
Indeed, this latest model promises photographers and viewers a lot more versatility than the first Lytro, though it will cost considerably more too — $1,599, or $100 less for early adopters who pre-order between now and July 15.
Made of magnesium and aluminum, Illum is a much larger camera than the original Lytro--closer in size to a DSLR--and targeted at creative professionals. It has an 8x optical zoom, 30-250mm equivalent focal lens with a constant f/2.0 aperture and 1:3 macro. The design is still somewhat unique but there's no mistaking it for a camera, something you couldn't necessarily say about its predecessor.
The max shutter speed on Illum is 1/4000th of second. Also on board is a 4-inch glass touchscreen with a backlit LCD. The battery on the camera is removable, and yes there's an SD memory card slot. It's wireless too. Inside is the kind of Qualcomm chip you'd find on a tablet computer, along with what Lytro describes as more powerful in-camera software.
With light field technology the talk is not of megapixels but of "megarays," and the Illum has a 40 megaray sensor. That's a measure of the number of light rays captured by the light field sensor. The company says you'll be able to view the living pictures inside the camera or on supported computers, smartphones and tablets.
The new camera may not be any more mainstream than the first model. I'll have to judge ease of use later. But Lytro does again appear to break new ground and I look forward to testing one out when review units are made available.
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I should have been excited for my upcoming trip to Fiji—and I was—but as a chronic insomniac, I was worried about not getting any shut-eye while I was there. I was especially nervous about the long flight, so I packed some sleeping pills.
When the pilot dimmed the cabin lights, I reached into my backpack for one of my little helpers—but I couldn't find the pill vial. Without my crutch, I fretted and sweat for the entire 10-hour flight, anxious that my insomnia would ruin my vacation. There was no corner Rite Aid in the South Pacific.
Much to my shock and relief, though, I slept well while away. The first night was touch and go. But by the third, I floated off to dreamland on a coconut cloud and woke up as refreshed as the smiling, white-camisole-clad ladies in the mattress ads on TV.
RELATED: Best & Worst Foods for Sleep
I credited the healthy Fijian diet of fish and fruit with my new talent for nodding off. But a friend told me she'd experienced a similar phenomenon while in Paris eating foie gras and cheese.
"Apart from caffeine and alcohol, diet doesn't strongly influence sleep," says Kelly Glazer Baron, PhD, assistant professor of neurology and director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at Northwestern University.
I hadn't given up coffee, so how to explain my miracle transformation? According to experts I quizzed afterward, several things I did on my trip likely improved my sleep—and they're habits you can steal to snooze more soundly in your own room.
How to Sleep Like You’re On Vacation
Unfamiliar beds can give good sleepers a bad night, but for insomniacs, they can blunt the worry that contributes to sleeplessness.
"The mattress and sheets are different from what you're used to, so you don't associate them with staying awake like you might at home," says Robert Oexman, a chiropractor and director of the Sleep to Live Institute in Joplin, Mo.
In Fiji, I also enjoyed silence—a pleasure lacking amid the sirens in my Brooklyn neighborhood. (Another thing I didn't hear? My snoring husband, who stayed in New York.)
Pitch-black darkness is just as foreign to me. A study in the Journal of Environmental Management found that people who lived in areas with a lot of artificial light outside—from lampposts, bright signs—reported a decreased quality of sleep compared with those in less-lit areas. The reason: Light lowers our body's production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle and makes us drowsy. On the island, the only evening light in view was the moon.
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Change your sheets a little more often. "New" bedding, even if it's your own, can defuse the fear of another sleepless night. And invest in a white-noise machine (or download the SimplyNoise app for a buck) and hotel-style blackout shades.
How to Sleep Like You’re On Vacation
Most hotel rooms are icy cold, and that's optimal, Baron says: "We sleep best when our body temperature is declining." It's especially true for insomniacs, who tend to have a higher core body temperature at bedtime, according to a study in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews.
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Set the thermostat between 60 and 68 degrees, Baron advises. "Another trick is to take a bath an hour before you go to bed," she says. "When you get out, your core temperature will drop."
How to Sleep Like You’re On Vacation
Time for a technical term: Scientists refer to anything that keeps your circadian rhythms in sync as a zeitgeber. A powerful one is sunlight, which is usually in abundant supply on vacation—whether you're in a sunny locale or exploring a city. When researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder monitored a group of campers who were outside all day, they found that the vacationers awoke and drifted off at the same time every day by the end of the trip, no matter when they normally did at home.
Another vacation-friendly zeitgeber is exercise. In a Stanford University School of Medicine study, working out for 20 to 30 minutes every other day reduced the time needed to fall asleep by half. (One caveat: No vigorous exercise within three hours of bedtime or you might jack yourself up instead of knocking yourself out.)
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Exercise outdoors, ideally early. Most of us spend our days inside; that throws off our sleep-wake cycle. "Morning sunlight helps you feel more alert," Baron says.
How to Sleep Like You’re On Vacation
"When you go on vacation, you're removed from the pressures of normal life," says Michael Breus, PhD, author of The Sleep Doctor's Diet Plan: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep. And when stress levels drop, he says, "we see a reduction in insomnia, too."
Ditching your tech addiction also helps. The wireless in Fiji was patchy, so I shut down my laptop. "Checking e-mail puts you back into your stressful life," Breus notes. "And the screen's light disrupts circadian rhythms."
Try this at home
An hour before you go to bed, turn off all screens (TV included). "Watching shows before bedtime, even uninteresting ones, can be mentally stimulating," Baron points out.
How to Sleep Like You’re On Vacation
As a working mom, I don't go to dinner parties much. But my fellow travelers and I laughed through every meal together. "Vacation conversation is light," Breus says. "At home, you discuss problems, which you can't stop thinking about once you're in bed."
Try this at home
Yes, we're all crazy busy, but scheduling time with your friends and your man may improve your sleep. (No talk about refinancing your mortgage, though.) Of course, you can't always avoid serious topics with your partner. "Hash things out early in the evening," Breus says. "You'll get along better when you're rested."
Which I was, by the time I returned from Fiji. The mystery of the missing pill vial was soon solved—I found it in a bag I'd ditched at the last minute—but I haven't needed it. To keep that going, I've been making a serious effort to boost my zeitgebers. That includes taking a 15-minute walk each morning and not blowing off girl time. The most effective change, however, has been turning off the TV an hour before bed. My husband and I use the extra time for bedroom activities that also happen to be sleep-inducing. Good night, indeed.
This article originally appeared on Health.com.
Los Angeles Clippers star, DeAndre Jordan can't go anywhere without his technology, he has multiple devices to keep him busy during 4-hour flights. USA TODAY's Jefferson Graham sits down with the basketball player. VPC
LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Clipper DeAndre Jordan has game play on his mind even when he's not running up and down a basketball court.
He's a massive video gamer — both of old-school games and new ones for his PlayStation 4 console — Jordan told us in an interview at the Clippers training facility here. The team, 1-1 vs. the Golden State Warriors in the NBA playoffs, has its next playoff matchup Thursday in Oakland.
Jordan boards the airplane or team bus with a MacBook Air, iPod, Samsung Galaxy Note phone, iPad and a portable PlayStation Vita. But he spends most of his time on the MacBook, which is rigged up to play old Nintendo and Sega Genesis games, featuring the likes of Super Mario Bros. and Sonic, the Hedgehog.
"I have 500 games…all the old-school games. I have my headphones on, get locked in and just play. These are the games I grew up on, the ones I used to play with my younger brothers."
The games "remind me of home, and when I was younger, the fights we used to get into."
He also reaches for the Vita during travels to play NBA Jam and NFL Blitz, Dominoes and Blackjack. "Any type of competition will keep me locked in."
FLYING WITHOUT TECH?
He couldn't go unwired cold turkey. "I have to have it. You never know what will happen. A flight may be delayed, we may have to sit on a plane or bus." He needs "something to keep me occupied and having fun."
He leaves the console unit at home, because otherwise "I'd have to bring three boxes with me on the plane." He plays games with his brothers and friends from high school. His favorite right now: FIFA 14, the soccer game from Electronic Arts.
He lives on Uber, the smartphone taxi alternative app, and uses Waze to maneuver around traffic in Los Angeles. But his latest app is — natch — a game: Unroll Me, a free pinball game for Apple and Android from developer Turbo Chill.
"It's a a mind teaser type of game. It doesn't give you much time to think about what you're doing, so you go. It makes me think fast, move my fingers fast, keeps me in tune and tempo."
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- Tens of thousands turn out for first 420 celebration since Colorado began legal pot sales
- "420 Rally," Cannabis Cup competition, Snoop Dogg concert among highlights
- Many traveled from out of state, even abroad, to buy and smoke marijuana legally
- CannaBUS takes hundreds to dispensaries; expo puts weed business on display
Denver, Colorado (CNN) -- Coming to the Mile High City this weekend was the perfect 65th birthday present for Karen Stevenson. She and her husband drove out of the Bible Belt to experience, for the first time, what it's like to buy and smoke weed legally.
She wore a T-shirt featuring an image of María Sabina, a late-Mexican shaman, puffing on a joint -- a shirt that, until this day, she never dared to wear outside her Cape Girardeau, Missouri, home.
"It's kind of like being a part of history," she said Saturday, while waiting for a bus in front of a marijuana-themed sandwich shop. "I used to want to go to Amsterdam. Now I don't have to."
The Stevensons are among the tens of thousands of visitors -- by some estimates 80,000 -- who've come to Denver to mark 420 (April 20), a date that's emerged as a holiday among those steeped in cannabis culture.
Though the date has long been observed in Colorado, this is the first celebration since recreational sales of marijuana became legal here on New Year's Day. (Recreational use became legal in late 2012.)
Replete with the Denver "420 Rally" in Civic Center Park, the High Times Cannabis Cup -- an expo and a competition sponsored by the magazine -- and a 420 concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre headlined by Snoop Dogg, the weekend has drawn the trappings one might expect. Dreadlocks. Tie-dye. T-shirts brandishing phrases like "Cheech & Chong for President."
Those predictable, or stereotypical, images, however, only tell part of the story.
They don't speak for the white-haired Mississippi man who looked like he'd walked out of a law firm on casual Friday. They don't reflect what drew a Crohn's disease patient from Missouri. Nor do they represent three older Texas women, one with her nails perfectly manicured in hot pink and her hair done just so, who advocate on behalf of seniors and are working to reform marijuana laws.
"We're not trying to force people to smoke pot," said Dawn Brooks, 62, of Austin, the one with the bright nails. "Cannabis is merely a plant. That's all it is. And more and more seniors are coming out of the closet."
This is a weekend that draws people of various backgrounds and with different needs and desires.
That said, for many of those who turned out Saturday, the vast majority it seemed from out-of-state, it was all about the smoking. And for some of them, it was in a frenzied way -- a mad rush to try everything because they couldn't take any of it home.
Kate, a 30-year-old from Kansas City, Missouri, was waiting with her boyfriend, Scott, for a free bus ride to the Cannabis Cup expo at Denver Mart.
"It's like his Super Bowl," said Kate, who, like many people we spoke to, didn't want her last name used. "He's been giddy about it for weeks. ... Super stoked is an understatement."
Bus to Show, a nonprofit that works to reduce intoxicated driving, partnered with High Times to offer transportation this weekend. It set up a downtown location for pickups and drop-offs outside Cheba Hut, a marijuana-themed sub shop.
Besides the free shuttles to and from the expo, the organization sold out a $20-a-day hop-on, hop-off shuttle tour of what it called The Cannabis Freedom Trail. The CannaBUS, as the tour shuttles are called, have been shepherding as many as 200 people a day to various cannabis dispensaries around town.
On one tour we joined, smoke wafted out windows. Strangers shared pipes and exchanged samples of weed and wax, a concentrated form of marijuana. Canisters of buds bearing names like "tangerine haze" and "strawberry cough," were passed around to smell. Nutella pancakes came up in conversations at least three times.
Wearing a neon green wig and green Power Ranger mini-dress, Teri Starbird, 50, who lives outside Wichita, Kansas, lit up some "Bruce Banner." It is one of the contenders in this year's Cannabis Cup competition.
"Oh, that's very smooth," she said, passing the pipe to her friend. "But I'll tell you what, there are some mad scientists in this town. Some of this stuff makes you plain stupid."
While other groups actually visited dispensaries on the tour, no one in this crew bothered to get off the bus. Two guys from South Jersey sat dazed, staring out their windows.
"I'm too f**king stoned to get out," said a 22-year-old from New Mexico, who donned a Captain America baseball cap and heroically bounded over bus seats to take a hit of what others were smoking.
Back at the sandwich shop, the final stop on the tour, he and the others had no choice but to stumble off the bus.
Inside Cheba Hut, where 12-inch subs are called "blunts," drinks are listed as "cotton mouth cures" and desserts and chips fall under "munchies," a woman from Brooklyn, New York, stared up at the menu board -- her eyes as wide as her smile.
"Oh, my God, that bread's crazy," she said loudly to no one. "Oh, my God, they have Kool-Aid here! What?"
Outside, bus driver Jody Stonebraker called us on board for the free ride to the expo. She offered lighters and bottles of water to her passengers as she drove them to Denver Mart, where tens of thousands gathered for the High Times Cannabis Cup. With bus windows open to keep her sober, she moved us on.
A guy from San Francisco struggled to roll a joint; when the bus stopped short, his weed went flying. A man from Florida looked around at the peaceful, smiling faces of his fellow passengers and wanted to know where else people were this happy. And a conversation across the aisle between two people began and ended like this:
"What was your favorite?"
Stonebraker, 54, said she's met people this weekend from all over the country, even the world -- including Germany, Japan and Mexico. She can't stop singing the praises of her cannabis-loving passengers.
"It's been so fun, and I'm getting paid for this," she said. "I tended bar for 16 years, and they were all jerks. Every other person, you wanted to shoot. You guys are awesome!"
That sort of comparison to drinkers came up time and again. People who waited three hours to get into Denver Mart boasted that there were no fights, screaming or pushing.
A couple from Kansas City, Missouri, was among those who waited for hours to get in, but Sam, 58, and Joyce, 53, couldn't have looked less put out. They were draped in Mardi Gras beads. He wore a jester's hat; she a crown made of plastic marijuana leaves. They were simply thrilled.
"Nobody's tripping. Nobody's acting like you're from Mars," Joyce said. "There's freedom to smoke. You don't have to hide in a basement or under a blanket."
The couple, married for 32 years, raised children successfully. Sam spent 35 years working his tail off in the commercial roofing business.
"So don't tell me it makes me lazy," he said.
In hallways outside the exhibition hall, people sat on the floor, tossing back small bags of Cheetos and Doritos. A man was hunched over in a corner, taking a nap. Another guy greeted people just inside, offering patriotic-looking stickers that resembled those handed out on Election Day -- except these said "I Smoked."
A stroll past the booths in the packed hall offered a head-spinning glimpse into the big business that is cannabis.
There were hydrocarbon extraction machines, easy at-home growing systems, and high-powered leaf trimmers. There were academies offering certification courses, products to detoxify the body, and tips and tools to make edibles. There were cannabis-themed clothing companies, glass pipes available in all shapes -- including that of Mr. Potato Head -- and people sitting beneath lights and in front of cameras for a segment of The Plant Channel.
There was even an agency called Hemp Temps, to meet the staffing needs of the growing industry.
Behind the building, in a fenced-in outdoor area where 21-and-over wristbands were checked before entry, the smoke was thick.
Attendees crowded couches beneath tents, sampling wares. A grown man, dressed as an Oompa-Loompa, walked by as another guy inhaled smoke from a three-foot-long bong. An emergency medical team tended to an older man who passed out, his head bleeding from when it hit the pavement after he smoked a dab, or high-grade hash oil.
The young woman who gave it to him cried, her hand trembling as she held a cigarette.
While some pulled out cell phones to take pictures of the man on the ground, others flocked to the shaken woman.
"It's not your fault. It's not your fault," they said. "He chose to take a dab."
Amid this scare, and across town, there were reminders of the good that many say cannabis does when people are educated and use it responsibly.
At The Giving Tree of Denver, a dispensary, one of the managers prepared to close for the day. Dina Compassion marveled about the people she'd met so far this weekend.
They'd come from all over the United States. They were people suffering from PTSD, seizures and arthritis. They were cancer survivors. They were parents worried about their sick children. They were residents of other states who are thinking of moving to Colorado so they can "manage pain in a safe way and not be carted off to jail," she said.
Compassion, 29, understands the benefits as much as anyone. After a serious car accident left her with nerve damage along the entire right side of her body, nothing seemed to help her regain feeling and movement -- until she tried cannabis.
"It was a huge game changer," she said. "I'm now planning a rock climbing trip for this summer."
What she sees in her dispensary, what she sees in the crowds of people who've descended upon Denver this weekend, is a growing sense of community, a feeling that's expanding nationwide.
So even though some might think the 420 fight is over in Colorado, now that it's legal, Compassion says rallying behind the cause is as important as ever.
"It's now a statement to other states, to the United States, a way to support the community," she said. "This isn't going away."
While medical marijuana use is legal in 21 states and the District of Columbia, Washington is the only other state that has legalized recreational use.
For those afraid to speak out themselves, she said, what happens in Denver "gives them a voice."
The trend is not a friend to the cable television industry. And soon the phrase "cable television industry" is likely to be more or less a synonym for Comcast, which is in the process of a proposed merger with Time Warner Cable that would give it a combined reach across 30% of America. The company will have about 35 million subscribers compared to fewer than 5 million for its nearest competitor, Cox Communications.
So what are the trends Comcast should be worried about?
A new report from Experian Marketing Services, a consumer data services firm, says that about 6.5% of American households have cut the cable cord, meaning they've canceled their cable or satellite television subscriptions while keeping high-speed Internet services. That's about 7.6 million homes that are doing without cable television service, up from 4.5%, or 5.1 million homes back in 2010.
If that television subscriber loss doesn't sound dire enough, given the reputation of big cable, consider these factors:
In any household that includes at least one member of the millennial generation, the 18 to 34 age group, the figure rises to 12.4%, from 4.5% in 2010.
In any household that has a subscription to Netflix or Hulu, the figure rises to 18.1%, from 12.7% in 2010.
In any household that has a smart phone or a tablet, the likelihood that they have cut the cord increases substantially. Owners of Apple devices are most likely of all to cut the cord.
The survey counts only households that had subscribed to cable television in the past and canceled it, and young people now on their own who never had cable television.
The key, not surprisingly, is streaming video. Those who watch video on any device -- phone, tablet, or television -- are much more likely than others to eliminate cable television service.
But interestingly, the final deciding factor in cutting off cable television service is getting that big screen in the living room hooked up to the Internet.
The decision to go cable television-free is most likely to come only with the acquisition of a device that makes it easy to stream or download video to the big screen.
There are many contenders in this area, including gaming consoles as well as Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and, most recently, Amazon's Fire TV. Owners of any of those devices or gadgets are three times more likely than others to cut the cord.
As these devices become more common, along with televisions with built-in Internet connectivity, "we should expect to see the number of cord-cutters grow," the report concludes. About one-third of all households are already equipped.
In other words, television is not dead, but the cable companies are looking quite poorly. At least, as they now operate their cable television services.
But here's the rub: Big cable is also the dominant provider of Internet service, again with Comcast on top. That is increasingly an "unassailable" market position, according to the latest report from IHS Technology, because cable is relatively cheap to upgrade or expand and since half of all Americans who have broadband service are using cable connections.
Cable's nearest competitors currently are DSL services, whose share is shrinking.
But one alternative is growing fast, according to IHS, and that is fiber access to broadband through Verizon's FiOS service. As of last year, fiber access is growing even faster than cable, though it still has only about 8% of the market.
This story originally appeared on Minyanville.
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