Roundup: Bob Ross

Everyone loves Bob Ross! PBSDigitalStudios is back with another remix of your childhood. Remember, every title is a link!

Not necessarily tech, but cool anyway.

Cloud Atlas, the 2004 novel by David Mitchell, is being converted into a movie by none other than the Wachowskis, of Matrix fame. The movie deals with reincarnation, and seems to have a pretty solid cast: Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant, Halley Berry, Hugo Weaving, and Susan Sarandon all make appearances. The trailer is 5 minutes long and looks amazing, but it still hooks you into the story. Be sure to give it your full attention.

Mountain Lion will help you cut the cord.

The release of Mountain Lion, the newest upgrade to OSX, was talked about yesterday, with some brief “buy” and “don’t buy” sentiments. Today, however, Mountain Lion will really help you cut the cord. With AirPlay Mirroring, Mac users can easily share their screen with their connected AppleTV (or actual TV with Apple inside). This works for anything on your screen: Hulu, games (on a Mac? Sure. How’s Portal 2?), iTunes, Amazon video, all without paying the “app tax” that Xbox or PS3 charge for using the otherwise free services on your television set. Of course, Microsoft is playing this game too, with SmartGlass, but there’s a few things that they should mirror from Mountain Lion should they want the ultimate modern OS.

Google Fiber is 7 years of free awesome.

Google’s plan to give fiber optic based internet to Kansas City, Missouri is pretty cool. What’s even cooler is that they give it to you for almost free. I say ‘almost’ because you still need to pay the initial $300 installation fee, but you get the standard package of 5MB down and 1MB upload speed, as well as a free modem. There are no data caps, and it will remain free for at least 7 years. Other plans include Gigabit internet for $70 per month, or Gigabit + TV for $120. The TV will come through a separate box, but that package also includes a Nexus 7 tablet, a storage box and 1TB of storage on Google’s Cloud service, with the option of a Chromebook. That’s not a bad price for BLAZING FAST INTERNET, but remember that Google will probably be tracking habits, so use it wisely.

Foursquare adds ads. 

As if the service wasn’t already a giant advertising platform, social media platform Foursquare plans to roll out “promoted updates,” which update you on users check-ins to businesses – like the Gap, who is already in talks for the service – that pay to have their locations promoted. The business wants to earn money, and it doesn’t appear that they are trying to be intrusive, so this may work just fine.

Web lobbying group expands to include Facebook, Google.

There’s a new political lobbying group in Washington, D.C. and it has the backing of the beefiest names on the internet. Google and Facebook have teamed up with Amazon and eBay on the Internet Association (the article links this page, but it’s quite broken right now.) The Association seems intent on fighting bills like SOPA/PIPA that cropped up last year, and possibly to get some decent Internet equality laws in place. The group will have a lot of money behind it, as well as some of the companies that know the most about us, so it’s important that we remain vigilant while applauding them for standing tall.

Buckyballs banned?

Buckyballs, the fun magnetic toy balls that you can stack and craft shapes out of, are coming off the shelves. A lawsuit between the tits good people folks at the Consumer Product Safety Commission are suing the manufacturers of the product over 20 cases of children swallowing them over the past 4 years. That’s much less than the number of children who are hit or killed by people backing their cars up. Even though the packaging says they’re not for children under 13, the CPSC is pointing out that they aren’t fit for children under 14. I think, perhaps, that people should keep unsafe objects away from children, like a good parent does. I also think that taking away a toy isn’t going to save the lives of children who are unlucky enough to go unattended near dangerous objects.

Facebook partnering with HTC for exclusive FacePhoneBook.

Yes, I invented the name. No, I didn’t invent the story. After the brilliant success of the HTC Status, it appears that the handset maker has partnered directly with Facebook to create a phone based solely around the social network. Finally, a decent Facebook app! However, my Windows Phone does nearly everything I need to do without an app (with the exception of groups). It has a notification area that includes Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, I can directly upload photos and videos to Facebook (photos only to Twitter – for now), and check on my friends statuses and pictures, as well as get notifications from my calendar when a birthday approaches.  Yes, this is baked into the OS, no app needed. So don’t buy a Facebook phone, buy Windows Phone.

Bill Gates is better than Batman.

It’s no secret that Bill Gates uses his vast power and money to do good things. It’s estimated that he’s saved over 5,000,000 lives with his vaccination programs and fight against malaria. Check out the linked infographic for some amazing stats on the man behind Microsoft and mosquito killing lasers.

RIM is staging a comeback.

We all know RIM, maker of the Blackberry phones, has issues. From losing manufacturers to sliding sales, the once-king of smartphones looks doomed. Their current CEO, Thorsten Heins, has a positive outlook, saying that people will be surprised with the upcoming transformation. He cites their hardcore fans, similar to the ones that made the iPhone so successful initially, even more so during the second and third iteration of the device. That’s not all he’s comparing to Apple: they plan to cut the number of models currently for sale down, as well as focus on new markets instead of trying to wedge into existing ones, as they did with the hilarious failure called the Playbook. I don’t want to count anyone out before the fat lady sings, but I think it’s a long shot for RIM. I’d love to see an upset, but I also have my feet planted on the ground.

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