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The Most Famous Voice in the World

Fenby Miskin

Software created by Intel was instrumental in giving Stephen Hawking a voice. Now, the company has released this same software under a free software license.

The development of the platform, called ACAT for “assistive context-aware toolkit,” was detailed in a WIRED story earlier this year. It’s a system that makes computers more accessible to people with disabilities. And now that the source code for this toolkit is open, it means you can build a system very similar to the one Professor Hawking uses to input text, send commands to applications, and communicate with the world.

So why aren’t you? Well, there are a few things you should be aware of before you go ahead and download ACAT. For starters, it’s PC-only. You will need a PC running at least Windows XP—and there are no plans to bring ACAT to Macs. Sorry, Apple users everywhere.

If you have a PC, though, the rest of the hardware requirements are pretty easy to meet. ACAT uses visual cues in the user’s face to understand commands—in the case of Professor Hawking, who has ALS, it tracks the movements of his cheek muscle. To use it, your computer simply needs to have a webcam. However, for users who might want or need more from ACAT, there are possibilities for other types of input down the road.

“We have been busy building different sensors and trying this out with patients,” says Intel principal engineer Lama Nachman, who leads the Anticipatory Computer Lab at the company. Nachman says this experimenting includes proximity sensors, accelerometer-based sensors, and Intel’s RealSense 3D camera. So if you have any of those things, then ACAT could become vastly more interesting in the future.

Of course, ACAT isn’t really meant for the average user to download and play with—at least, not yet.

“The goal of open sourcing this is to enable developers to create solutions in the assistive space with ease, and have them leverage what we have invested years of effort in,” says Nachman. “Our vision is to enable any developer or researcher who can bring in value in sensing, UI, word prediction, context awareness, etc. to build on top of this, and not have to reinvent the wheel since it is a large effort to do this.”

Nachman says Intel has sent some end users detailed instructions on setting up ACAT as well as how to use it, and the team is also working with some patients on testing it out. Soon, they’ll be partnering with universities on experimenting with the system. It’s clear that ACAT is for developers and the academic community, at least for now. While you certainly can go to Github and download it, Intel isn’t catering to everyone here. However, early accountsmake it seem as if it’s fairly easy to install ACAT. You’ll want to check out the user guide, of course, but then you’re free to install, boot it up, and start letting your computer read your face and type for you.

Article for Wired Magazine by Molly McHugh

Kodak Prints Local

Fenby Miskin

Paul Carter, managing director of the Jersey Evening Post (left), with Jack Knadjian, managing director of Kodak Print Services

Paul Carter, managing director of the Jersey Evening Post (left), with Jack Knadjian, managing director of Kodak Print Services

National newspapers for the Channel Islands are to be printed in Jersey from the new year.

A new digital printing operation will create 24 new jobs and will print all of the national newspapers, with the exception of the Financial Times, for both Jersey and Guernsey, from January.

It will mean that the delivery of daily and weekend national newspapers will no longer be flown into islands or be delayed due to bad weather.

Guernsey’s national newspapers will be shipped from Jersey early every morning.

KP Services (Jersey) Ltd, the new company behind the venture, has been formed by Kodak Ltd and the Guiton Group, publishers of the Jersey Evening Post.

It will also be responsible for printing newspaper supplements, personalised mailers, other commercial printing material and, more significantly, the Jersey Evening Post.

The new press means that the JEP can be printed in full colour, throughout, for the first time in its 125-year history.

The company, in partnership with Kodak, is investing in the new-generation digital printing press, and its operation at Rue des Prés Trading Estate will put Jersey at the global forefront of this type of technology.

Jack Knadjian, managing director for KP Services (Jersey) Ltd, said: ‘In today’s printing environment, businesses are investing in technologies that are complementing long-established production methods, which will enable them to lead newspaper printing into the future.

‘We have pioneered inkjet printing for newspapers and are ready to show the world the next generation of our inkjet presses with Kodak Stream Inkjet Technology, which provides both speed and quality.

RGB Atlas

Fenby Miskin

Tauba Auerbach’s RGB Colorspace Atlas Depicts Every Color Imaginable

Digital offset print on paper, case bound book, airbrushed cloth cover and page edges
8 x 8 x 8 inches (20.3 x 20.3 x 20.3 cm.) Binding co-designed by Daniel E. Kelm and Tauba Auerbach. The books were bound by Daniel E. Kelm assisted by Leah Hughes at the Wide Awake Garage.

Top 50 Inde Films

Fenby Miskin

1. Reservoir Dogs

Some will bleat that this is an easy, obvious choice, while others will say, well, pretty much the same, but nominate differently. Our criteria for deciding the films were: firstly, the circumstances and spirit in which they were made, second, the quality of the result and, finally, its mark on the movie world. This is how Reservoir Dogs gained consensus as the winner. Consider firstly the film's creation: script written in two weeks while the author was in a dead-end day job, it barely changed from first draft to shooting script, and attracted attention by word of mouth. It garnered rave reviews, but Dogs' box office performance wasn't great - again, it had to wait for word of mouth. Most importantly, the magnitude of effect this one film has had on indie culture in the last 13 years is, to say the least, overwhelming. The fact is that more than one generation has had their eyes opened to the long-snubbed world of movie-making's outsiders, be it American mavericks, foreign actioners, or just plain old B-pictures. If it wasn't for Dogs, Hong Kong action cinema would still be a lot more marginal than it is today, and nobody would likely have got around to transferring blaxploitation titles onto DVD yet. You only have to look through the homages and ripoffs that have abounded - how many more films have suited gunmen, feature heists gone wrong, have people talking about pop culture, or 'boast' a fractured narrative? Love or hate it, Reservoir Dogs is the greatest independent movie ever made.

2. Donnie Darko

Was Donnie schizophrenic? Is he, in fact, a supernaturally empowered avatar chosen by unknown forces? Did any of the film's events even happen? Such are the questions that sent people running to the pub to debate just what the hell Kelly had in mind when he wrote this story. That of a teenager who's warned about the end of the world by a six foot, talking rabbit after a jet engine falls on his house. Part supernatural chiller, part '80s teen drama and part philosophical musing on wormhole theory and the transience of human existence.

Donnie Darko is not a film that lends itself to easy categorisation and, unwilling to compromise his convoluted vision for studio palates, 27-year-old writer/director Richard Kelly almost had to launch his debut on cable television. Luckily, though, this exquisite slice of sci-fi surrealism was rescued from the precipice of DTV and went on to become a cult hit while simultaneously placing Jake Gyllenhaal on the road to stardom.

A bizarre concoction it undoubtedly is but Donnie Darko raised the bar for independent thinking and reinvented the teen genre for the new Millennium. Utter genius.

 

3. The Terminator

Its studio-friendly sequels and slick '80s action sequences may make this appear part of the Hollywood establishment, but look a little more closely. Behind the impressive effects you'll see an untried director, an obscure leading man and a (relatively) shoestring budget - in fact, all the hallmarks of an indie movie.

If you want an example of independent spirit, there's no finer example than the man behind The Terminator's apocalyptic vision. A nobody on the verge of being fired from his job on a silly horror flick about piranhas, James Cameron was fired up by a vivid nightmare he had one night about an unstoppable metal assassin. Hastily scribbling a screenplay and assembling a crew, he threw himself body and soul into the shoot, creating a whole new genre of techno-noir along the way. That the Terminator spawned one of the biggest sequels ever is testament to what a high concept and assured execution can do. Of course, it helps to have a healthy dose of iconic lines and, in Arnold Schwarzenegger, an unstoppable machine from the future - sorry, Austria - poised on the very brink of superstardom.

To view remaining films visit Empire's ultimate Inde Lineup

Periscope and Meerkat

Fenby Miskin

What do Periscope and Meerkat mean for broadcasting copyright?

The Premier League is joined by other sports leagues such as the NBA, MLB and NFL in being wary of the march of the live-streaming apps.

Watching the footie via a stranger Periscoping their telly might well be the future. Photograph: Alamy

Watching the footie via a stranger Periscoping their telly might well be the future. Photograph: Alamy

Anyone with a smartphone, the internet and an app can now broadcast live video to the world. But, while great for users is it a nightmare for content rights holders?

Live video streaming is nothing new – services have been around since the early 2000s – but Meerkat and Periscope have made it easier to broadcast our lives on the go and shifted the appeal near to the mainstream. Ever since they launched, however, speculation has followed over the potential legal liability for content delivered on their platforms.

These live streaming apps let users simply point their smartphones at whatever is happening in front of them, whether they own the rights or not, and broadcast it to a potential audience of hundreds of thousands now, millions in the future.

Users Periscoping the royal birth. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Users Periscoping the royal birth. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Concern has been raised, in particular, over large right holders such as sports broadcasters and Hollywood studios suing Periscope for users who film content direct from TV or events via their smartphone.

Periscope was bought by Twitter in January this year for an undisclosed sum thought to be slightly less than $100m. Given Twitter has a market cap of over $24bn, and most of Periscope’s competitors are not much more than startups, it is Periscope that makes the most potentially lucrative target.

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The key difference between services such as Google’s YouTube and the newer live-streaming apps is the live element. YouTube, for instance, automatically scans for copyrighted content in new uploads using Google’s “Content ID” system, while providing notification and takedown schemes under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Twitter has had practice with similar issues with Vine. The looping video service drew the attention of the Premier League in the UK, which worked with the social network to develop an effective notification of infringement and takedown system. That same system could insulate Periscope.

“Twitter, Meerkat or any other company hosting live streams from users [are] not in breach of copyright in the UK or US just because a user starts streaming copyrighted content such as a football match [by] pointing their phone at a TV broadcast,” explained Julian Moore, a head of broadcast and media rights with Pinsent Masons global sport practice. “They are only in breach if they effectively turn a blind eye to the stream, if they are made aware of it and don’t take measures to remove it.”

Periscope’s terms of service specifically prohibit the broadcasting of copyrighted content without permission.

A Periscope spokesperson told the Guardian: “Periscope operates in compliance with the DMCA, we respect intellectual property rights and are working to ensure there are robust tools in place to respond expeditiously.”

Due to its live nature, it is unlikely to attract the ire of Hollywood – more concerned will be broadcasters of live events such as sports where their value is inherent to their timeliness.

TV companies the world over pay exorbitant amounts for the rights to broadcast sporting events. Any attempt to circumvent of those rights is seen in a very dim light.

The National Hockey League, which governs ice hockey in the US, has already specifically banned both Meerkat and Periscope including any live streaming up to 30 minutes before face off. The US Open golf tournament has taken similar steps.

The MLB, however, has said it won’t stop fans using Periscope and Meerkat at games.

Meanwhile the NBA and NFL have policies that restrict both reporters and fans live broadcasting footage of the game, the players or backstage action stamped on the back of press passes and tickets. Given broadcasters pay $4.95bn a year for the rights to the NFL alone there is certainly an emphasis from the sports leagues to protect that lucrative revenue stream.

One place leagues and sports can’t stop users directly is in the home.

The Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was one of the biggest pay-per-view events in history. Photograph: UPI /Landov / Barcroft Media/UPI /Landov / Barcroft Media

The Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was one of the biggest pay-per-view events in history. Photograph: UPI /Landov / Barcroft Media/UPI /Landov / Barcroft Media

After seeing Periscope users broadcast the Game of Thrones season five premiere from their screens, HBO then saw an estimated 10,000 people watching the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight via Periscope without paying.

People who had paid their $100 for the pay-per-view event were streaming it straight from their TVs for others to watch. And while Twitter took down streams within minutes of being notified – it received 66 takedown requests and removed 30 streams, the company said – others cropped up in their stead.

“Piracy does not excite us. Trust me, we respect intellectual property rights and had many people working hard to be responsive last night, including myself,” Periscope’s chief executive Kayvon Beykpour said after the fight.

Sports leagues across America are watching the evolution of Periscope and its ilk closely, but seemingly no one wants to be the first to either ink deals with the new service or take action.

“Besides protecting the broadcasting rights, most sports leagues want to make sure a service like Periscope isn’t building up its business on the back of their content,” said a national American sports league executive with direct knowledge of the matter. “Once they become established, who knows, maybe we’ll do a deal with them. Everybody’s waiting to see how everybody else reacts.”

In the UK, any big rights battle is expected to be over Premier League football. Sky and BT paid £3bn between 2013 and 2016 for the rights to live games and have forked out a further £5.1bn for live games between 2016 and 2017. News International also owns the rights for clips of key moments worth £20m for three years, while the BBC owns the rights to highlights costing £180m until 2016 and a further £204m until 2019.

However, the Premier League is purposefully quiet on copyright infringement, taking the view that they don’t want to treat fans like pirate enemies (something they have been accused of in the past), and have been working with third-parties including Net Result, Irdeto and ID Inquiries to shut down persistent and commercial copyright offenders.

“The Premier League already works with Twitter over Vines, which are frequently used by users to show goals and key moments from games without permission. We work closely with Twitter and ISPs to take down pirated content as well as advising users that it is illegal to post such content,” said a Premier League spokesman. “Last season we successfully blocked 45,000 streams that were illegally showing Premier League footage, and successfully took legal action against certain websites, both in the English and overseas courts.”

For now Periscope – and Meerkat – is in the clear. Whether that changes when the next NFL and Premier League seasons kick off remains to be seen.

Original article appeared in The Guardian by Samuel Gibbs , Julia Powles and Sam Thielman

Lynda

Fenby Miskin

Teaching isn’t traditionally viewed as a high-paying career choice. But building software for teaching? That appears to be a little more lucrative. 

At least it was today, when LinkedIn announced the $1.5 billion acquisition of online education company Lynda.com. It’s the online business network’s largest acquisition ever by a wide margin. The company paid around $175 million for Bizo last summer, the closest LinkedIn’s ever been to a billion-dollar acquisition until now. 

Lynda.com provides video courses to paying subscribers hoping to learn online, with tutorials on a wide range of business subjects from Web design to 3-D animation. It’s one of a number of companies working in this space, including well-known startups like Coursera and Codecademy that were both founded in the past five years. 

Unlike these newer companies, though, Lynda.com is a veteran. The company has been around for nearly 20 years. In other words, LinkedIn is bringing on a partner with the longest, most-established resume.

In 2013, Lynda.com raised $103 million in a funding round that helped put the site on the map even though it was already 18 years old. It is also profitable, and has been since its first year of existence because unlike a lot of consumer tech companies these days, it actually charges for its content.

But there are many questions still unanswered. Will LinkedIn and Lynda.com fuse their membership businesses? Will Lynda.com operate independently in the long term? (For now, it will, said LinkedIn.) How soon will we see Lynda courses promoted or suggested within LinkedIn?

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and Head of Content Ryan Roslansky flew to Lynda.com headquarters in Carpinteria, Calif., to begin talking about these kinds of integration issues Thursday morning. 

In the meantime, there are many reasons LinkedIn broke the bank for an ed-tech company. Here are a few of them:

The Missions Align

This is the element of the acquisition that executives from both companies are touting, and it makes sense. LinkedIn aims to connect people with job opportunities. Lynda.com aims to connect people with an education about those jobs. The premise: In the current market, you really won’t have the opportunity if you don’t have the education needed to go along with it. 

Weiner often refers to this as the Economic Graph, which is a fancy way of describing the connection of people with job opportunities — all through LinkedIn, of course. As Weiner described it to Re/code last year: “That’s the way we envision ourselves creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.”

LinkedIn is painting a scenario in which you search for a job, see the skills required for that job, and then are directed to a course from Lynda.com that will train you in those skills. Alternatively, a recruiter could search for available candidates based on the courses they’ve taken. You can already add courses to your profile, but courses endorsed by LinkedIn may carry more clout.

Students

LinkedIn is keen on getting college students onto its platform, especially college seniors about to enter the job market. Roslansky said the Lynda.com acquisition further promotes this focus, and could help get LinkedIn’s foot in the door of some of these classrooms. 

Lynda already works with 40 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities, including all of the Ivy League schools. 

“Colleges are [using] this platform to help students learn skills they need before they take a class or during a class or to augment some of the materials these institutions are using in their day-to-day,” Roslansky explained. “This platform reaches students.”

Weiner foreshadowed this concept with Re/code in an earlier interview: “The biggest focus area for students is going to be helping them to get their first job.” 

Of course, LinkedIn can’t help students who aren’t using LinkedIn, and Lynda.com could presumably help with that. (After shelling out $1.5 billion, LinkedIn better hope so.) There are plenty of competitors, such as Chegg, trying to grab the college market to offer all kinds of services. 

A Reason to Come Back

Weiner told Re/code last year that a very small minority of people on LinkedIn are looking for a job. That means they’re coming to LinkedIn for other reasons, such as to read or create content. The company has made a big push in the last year to encourage that by expanding its publishing tool and redesigning its homepage to ensure you see more stories and news. 

Adding Lynda.com — which is another kind of content — to the mix gives people yet another reason to spend time on LinkedIn. It’s probably safe to assume that you’ll be able to share and watch Lynda.com videos in your LinkedIn stream; perhaps you’ll even be able to create your own. 

And, as Facebook is proving, video content is very important to the future of all Internet companies. More video typically means more money from video advertisers. Obviously, LinkedIn wouldn’t mind that. 
 

Article by Kurt Wagner appeared on re/code