Monthly Archives: January 2016

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Netflix and Amazon Offer Indie Filmmakers Hope (And Lots of Money) The Egyptian Theater marquee during the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. The biggest players at the Sundance Film Festival are Hollywood outsiders. Amazon and Netflix, with their deep pockets and big ambitions, have picked up several films and have driven up the bidding for others. Backed by the might of their massive audiences, superior technology, and business models unfettered by the typical constraints of Hollywood, these tech giants provide a new hope for independent filmmakers. Amazon’s bought five independent films so far, including the well-received Manchester by the Sea for a reported $10 million. Netflix, meanwhile, has picked up streaming rights for three films, including Tallulah starring Ellen Page, and announced it will produce a slate of indie features. And the film festival isn’t over until the end of this week. This isn’t the first year Netflix and Amazon have come to Sundance. But their presence […]

Buckle Up: The Car as You Know It Will Soon Go Extinct TAVIS COBURN My first car was a 1983 Toyota Corolla hatchback, its color best described as sort of white. The cassette deck bolted under its faded blue dashboard worked about a third of the time. Its 70-some horsepower would strain mightily to achieve speed sufficient to climb a highway on-ramp. The 0-to-60 time hovered around 38 seconds. The window in the driver’s side door had the unsettling habit of falling out of place and sliding into the door’s cavity, which was fine during the West Texas summer but a profound bummer in the winter, when howling winds sent temperatures into the single digits. Podcast But I loved that car. It got me to class and to the two—sometimes three—part-time jobs that made my education possible. Without that car, I couldn’t have baked bagels on the graveyard shift, waited […]

The White House Is Joining With Genius to Annotate History President Barack Obama waves at the conclusion of his State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2015. President Obama still has a year left in his presidency, but it seems members of his administration, past and present, already are getting a bit nostalgic. In honor of the president’s final State of the Union address on Tuesday, the White House has asked President Obama’s former staffers to add context to past speeches using the online annotation platform Genius. The notes, on the White House’s website now, feature anecdotes such as what it was like for Jon Favreau to stare down a blank computer screen before writing the president’s first State of the Union address. While the contributions will be heavily curated, members of the public are encouraged to […]

ProPublica Launches the Dark Web’s First Major News Site The so-called dark web, for all its notoriety as a haven for criminals and drug dealers, is slowly starting to look more and more like a more privacy-preserving mirror of the web as a whole. Now it’s gained one more upstanding member: the non-profit news organization ProPublica.On Wednesday, ProPublica became the first known major media outlet to launch a version of its site that runs as a “hidden service” on the Tor network, the anonymity system that powers the thousands of untraceable websites that are sometimes known as the darknet or dark web. The move, ProPublica says, is designed to offer the best possible privacy protections for its visitors seeking to read the site’s news with their anonymity fully intact. Unlike mere SSL encryption, which hides the content of the site a web visitor is accessing, the Tor hidden service would […]

New Wireless Tech Will Free Us From the Tyranny of Carriers Cell coverage can be fickle. You might get great reception at home but spotty coverage at work or at the gym even though other carriers work fine. And even if your carrier has your entire city pretty well covered, all bets are off when you travel. Sure you can roam on other networks, but your carrier will prioritize its own cell towers, even if there are better ones nearby. And those roaming fees can sure add up quick. It would be nice to be able to switch carriers on the fly, picking whichever one happens to have the best service in your exact location at any given time. Today that would mean carrying around multiple SIM cards, each with a different phone number. But in the near future, your phone may be able to switch between carriers without you […]