HughPickens.com writes: Lex Berko reports in The Atlantic that although webcasting has been around since the mid-1990s, livestreamed funerals have only begun to go mainstream in the last few years. The National Funeral Directors Association has only this year introduced a new funeral webcasting license that permits funeral homes to legally webcast funerals that include copyrighted music. The webcast service’s growing appeal is, by all accounts, a result of the increasing mobility of modern society. Remote participation is often the only option for those who live far away or have other barriers — financial, temporal, health-related — barring them from attending a funeral. “It’s not designed to replace folks attending funerals,” says Walker Posey. “A lot of folks just don’t live where their family grew up and it’s difficult to get back and forth.” But some funeral directors question if online funerals are helpful to the grieving process and eschew streaming funerals live because they do not want to replace a communal human experience with a solitary digital one. What happens if there’s a technical problem with the webcast — will we grieve even more knowing we missed the service in person and online? Does webcasting bode well for the future of death acceptance, or does it only promote of our further alienation from that inevitable moment? “The physical dead body is proof of death, tangible evidence that the person we love is gone, and that we will someday be gone as well,” says Caitlin Doughty, a death theorist and mortician. “To have death and mourning transferred online takes away that tangible proof. What is there to show us that death is real?”

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An anonymous reader writes The WSJ reports that the revival of vinyl records, a several-year trend that many figured was a passing fad, has accelerated during 2014 with an astounding 49 percent sales increase over 2013 (line chart here). Some listeners think that vinyl reproduces sound better than digital, and some youngsters like the social experience of gathering around a turntable. The records are pressed at a handful of decades-old, labor-intensive factories that can’t keep up with the demand; but since the increased sales still represent only about 2 percent of US music sales, there hasn’t been a rush of capital investment to open new plants. Raw vinyl must now be imported to America from countries such as Thailand, since the last US supplier closed shop years ago. Meanwhile, an industry pro offers his take on the endless debate of audio differences between analog records and digital formats; it turns out there were reasons for limiting playing time on each side back in the day, apart from bands not having enough decent material.

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An anonymous reader writes: Streaming live video game footage has become increasingly popular over the past several years — popular enough that Amazon was willing to shell out $970 million for Twitch.tv. Now, Valve has announced a rival: Steam Broadcasting. Users signing up for the beta test have the option to broadcast the game they’re playing. They have several options about who can see their stream: invite-only, friends only, and publicly visible. Viewing a stream is currently supported by the Steam client itself, Google Chrome, and Apple Safari. It only works on Windows 7 and 8 at this point, but Valve promises support on Linux, OS X, and Windows Vista in the future.

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jones_supa writes Windows Media Player is going to become a more useful media player for those who want to play geeky file formats. Microsoft has earlier confirmed that Windows 10 will come with native support for Matroska Video, but the company now talks about also adding FLAC support. Microsoft’s Gabriel Aul posted a teaser screenshot in Twitter showing support for this particular format. It can be expected to arrive in a future update for people running the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Not many GUI changes seem to be happening around Media Player, but work is done under the hood.

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An anonymous reader writes: Verizon now joins AT&T and Time Warner Cable in the list of ISPs on which Netflix streaming has significantly improved after Netflix paid for access to their networks. Ars Technica notes that “[t]he interconnection deals give Netflix a direct connection to the edge of the Internet providers’ networks, bypassing congested links, but without receiving priority treatment after entering the networks.” The success of these deals, however, gives the ISPs no incentive whatsoever to fix their congested links. Toll roads have, in essence, been created for the internet.

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An anonymous reader writes: Redbox, the company behind the giant red boxes at malls and grocery stores that dispense DVD and game rentals, partnered with Verizon in 2013 to launch a video streaming service to compete with Netflix. This naturally led to accusations that Verizon was throttling Netflix to tilt the scales in favor of Redbox. Well, as of Tuesday, they’re packing it in. Redbox’s streaming service will shut down at the end of the day on October 7th. They’ll be refunding all current customers, though that number took a hit over the past several months as a credit card fraud problem caused Redbox to shut down their billing servers. This meant no new customers could sign up, and existing customers couldn’t renew their subscriptions.

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An anonymous reader writes Matchstick and Mozilla today announced their open-source take on the Chromecast: a $25 Firefox OS-powered HDMI dongle. The streaming Internet and media stick will be available first through Kickstarter, in the hopes to drive down the price tag. Jack Chang, Matchstick General Manager in the US, described the device to me as “essentially an open Chromecast.” He explained that while the MSRP is $25 (Google’s Chromecast retails for $35), the Kickstarter campaign is offering a regular price of $18, and an early bird price of $12.

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An anonymous reader writes It seems that switching between laptop, smart phone and tablet may be shrinking our brains and leaving us prone to higher levels of anxiety and stress reports new research from the University of Sussex in the UK. The researchers point out that the link is currently a correlation rather than a proof of causation, but they do suggest that people who used a higher number of media devices concurrently also had smaller grey matter density — in other words they have smaller brains.

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sfcrazy writes: Native support for Netflix is coming to Linux, thanks to their move from Silverlight to HTML5, Mozilla and Google Chrome. Paul Adolph from Netflix proposed a solution to Ubuntu developers: “Netflix will play with Chrome stable in 14.02 if NSS version 3.16.2 or greater is installed. If this version is generally installed across 14.02, Netflix would be able to make a change so users would no longer have to hack their User-Agent to play.” The newer version of NSS is set to go out with the next security update.

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An anonymous reader writes Now that I’ve spent close to a month digitizing a desk drawer’s worth of VHS tapes, deinterlacing and postprocessing the originals to minimize years of tape decay, and compressing everything down to H.264, I’ve found myself with a hard drive full of loosely organized videos. They’ll get picked up by my existing monthly backup, but I feel like I haven’t gained much in the way of redundancy, as I thought I would. Instead of having tapes slowly degrade, I’m now open to losing entire movies at once, should both of my drives go bad. Does anyone maintain a library, and if so, what would they recommend? Is having them duplicated on two drives (one of which is spun down for all but one day of the month) a good-enough long term strategy? Should I look into additionally backing up to optical discs or flash drives, building out a better (RAIDed) backup machine, or even keeping the original tapes around despite them having been digitized?

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An anonymous reader writes Could someone recommend a service to convert old VHS home movies to a lossless archival format such as FFV1? The file format needs to be lossless so I can edit and convert the files with less generation loss, it needs 4:1:1 or better chroma subsampling in order to get the full color resolution from the source tapes, and preferably it should have more than 8 bits per channel of color in order to avoid banding while correcting things like color, brightness, and contrast. So far, the best VHS archival services I’ve found use either the DV codec or QuickTime Pro-Res, both of which are lossy.

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New submitter DoILookAmused writes A few years ago, the Argentinean government implemented a 35% tax on all offshore buys using a credit card. In yesterday’s press release, the city of Buenos Aires announced it will charge a 3% gross income tax for all streaming or media purchase abroad allegedly to bring it to “competitive prices with local media companies”. This tax doesn’t supersede the national 35% tax, which has sparked several reactions.

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New submitter bziolko writes: RAYA is a realtime game audio engine that utilizes beamtracing to provide user with realistic audio auralization. All audio effects are computed based on the actual geometry of a given game level (video) as well as its acoustic properties (acoustic materials, air attenuation). The sound changes dynamically along with movement of the game character and sound sources, so the listener can feel as if they were right there — in the game.

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schwit1 writes: Using restored images taken by Voyager 2 when it flew past Neptune’s moon Triton 25 years ago, scientists have produced a new map and flyby movie of the moon. “The new Triton map has a resolution of 1,970 feet (600 meters) per pixel. The colors have been enhanced to bring out contrast but are a close approximation to Triton’s natural colors. Voyager’s “eyes” saw in colors slightly different from human eyes, and this map was produced using orange, green and blue filter images. … Although Triton is a moon of a planet and Pluto is a dwarf planet, Triton serves as a preview of sorts for the upcoming Pluto encounter. Although both bodies originated in the outer solar system, Triton was captured by Neptune and has undergone a radically different thermal history than Pluto. Tidal heating has likely melted the interior of Triton, producing the volcanoes, fractures and other geological features that Voyager saw on that bitterly cold, icy surface. Pluto is unlikely to be a copy of Triton, but some of the same types of features may be present.” Dr. Paul Schenk provides provides further information on his blog, and the movie can be viewed here.

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An anonymous reader writes: Object-based audio is supposed to be the future of surround sound. The ability to pan sound around the room in 3D space as opposed to fixed channel assignments of yesterday’s decoders. While this makes a lot of sense at the cinema, it’s less likely consumers rush to mount speakers on their ceilings or put little speaker modules on top of their existing ones to bounce sound around the room. “>Leading experts think this will be just a fad like 3DTV was. What do you think?

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New submitter JonnyCalcutta writes: The football Premier League in England is warning about posting clips of goals on online services such as Vine and Twitter. The claim is that posting these clips is “illegal under copyright laws.” I’m naturally dubious about blanket statements from rightsholders already known to push the truth, especially concerning such short clips, but I don’t know enough about copyright law to understand the implications fully. Is it illegal? What can they actually do about it? Does adding commentary give the uploader any rights to post?

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New submitter Mauro sends word that Microsoft has announced upcoming Xbox One support for streaming media both from attached USB devices, such as flash drives, and DLNA media servers. Compatibility with a broad list of media formats will be added by the end of the year, including .MKV files. They also followed up last week’s announcement of a digital TV tuner with an interesting twist: it will be able to stream broadcasts over a local network to devices running the Smartglass app, which is available on Windows, Android, and iOS.

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An anonymous reader writes: Citing the problems caused by the lack of legal control over the current name and its long outdated origins as the reasons for the change, The Xbox Media Center team announced that they will switch the project’s name to Kodi when version 14 is released later this year. If you’re wondering how they picked the name Kodi, here’s what they said: “We considered a TON of names. We had a number of requirements for the new name, such as being reasonably pronounceable in various languages and not be a mouthful to say, not be used as a trademark for someone else’s media-related product, be easy to remember, etc. The group came up with a list of names and had our lawyer go over them. We then got back a smaller list that had been checked for various legal issues, and then we voted on the final name.”

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MojoKid (1002251) writes The ongoing battle between Netflix and ISPs that can’t seem to handle the streaming video service’s traffic, boiled over to an infuriating level for Colin Nederkoon, a startup CEO who resides in New York City. Rather than accept excuses and finger pointing from either side, Nederkoon did a little investigating into why he was receiving such slow Netflix streams on his Verizon FiOS connection. What he discovered is that there appears to be a clear culprit. Nederkoon pays for Internet service that promises 75Mbps downstream and 35Mbps upstream through his FiOS connection. However, his Netflix video streams were limping along at just 375kbps (0.375mbps), equivalent to 0.5 percent of the speed he’s paying for. On a hunch, he decided to connect to a VPN service, which in theory should actually make things slower since it’s adding extra hops. Speeds didn’t get slower, they got much faster. After connecting to VyprVPN, his Netflix connection suddenly jumped to 3000kbps, the fastest the streaming service allows and around 10 times faster than when connecting directly with Verizon. Verizon may have a different explanation as to why Nederkoon’s Netflix streams suddenly sped up, but in the meantime, it would appear that throttling shenanigans are taking place. It seems that by using a VPN, Verizon simply doesn’t know which packets to throttle, hence the gross disparity in speed.

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An anonymous reader writes: Updates to the open-source libbluray, libaacs, and libbdplus libraries have improved the open-source Blu-ray disc support to now enable the Blu-ray Java interactivity layer (BD-J). The Blu-ray Java code is in turn executed by OpenJDK or the Oracle JDK and is working well enough to play a Blu-ray disc on the Raspberry Pi when paired with the VLC media player.”

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