Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Netflix Rolls Out 4K TV Support, for the Extreme Minority that Have It

Netflix Rolls Out 4K TV Support, for the Extreme Minority that Have It

Netflix Rolls Out 4K TV Support, for the Extreme Minority that Have It

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 10:30 AM PDT

Oh 4K TV, you tempt me…actually no, you don’t. Who has $2,500 — or upwards of $17,000 for some of these monsters — to spend on another new TV nowadays? Didn’t we just upgrade from the old NTSC standard? Are 1280-by-720 or 1920-by-1080 pixels so visually impoverished? Have Blu-ray’s days come and gone?

If you’re either (a) a videophile who scrimps every last penny to keep up with bleeding edge visual gear, or (b) very, very wealthy, this may be of interest to you: Netflix is now test-streaming 4K video content.

UK-based HDTVtest reported this weekend (and Multichannel News says it confirmed as much with Netflix) that 4K streaming has officially gone live. Multichannel News notes that the initial beneficiaries will be House of Cards (season two) as well as “some nature documentaries.”

You’ll need a set that supports the just-completed HEVC/H.265 video compression standard. That’s short for High Efficiency Video Coding, a standard that supposedly doubles the compression rate of video data without compromising its quality, all the way up to so-called 8K resolutions (8192 by 4320 pixels, if you can wrap your noggin around that). HDTVtest says the streaming bitrate is 15.6 Mbps, which for a two hour movie would come out to roughly 14GB of data (7,200 seconds * 15.6 megabits per second = 112,320, multiplied by 0.125 megabytes in a megabit takes us to 14,040MB, divided by 1,024MB in a gigabyte). If you’re running a residential account and your monthly data cap is 250GB, say, that means you’d be able to watch roughly 18 two-hour shows (or just call it 36 hours, total) of 4K content before spilling over into throttles-ville (or additional-charges-ville, your ISP’s policies depending).

According to a Netflix spokesperson in an email to Multichannel News: “[4K streaming is] available everywhere Netflix is available and the first TV sets are hitting reviewer’s desks and store shelves now.”

Holy Guacamole: You’ve Never Seen Avocados Like This

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 10:30 AM PDT

For a certain subset of the Reddit population, Tuesday is better known as Topless Tuesday, which is exactly as NSFW as it sounds.

But the parody Reddit thread Avocados Gone Wild epitomizes the phrase “food porn” and gives Topless Tuesday a new, much more innocent meaning. While browsing photos of these delicious-looking meals that have raunchy titles like “lubricant” and “messy” and “jailbait”, your imagination is your own worst enemy. A plate with a whole avocado next to a chicken illustrates “spreading with a hot chick”, while an open-faced sandwich topped with avocado slices illustrates “being on top.”

Below are a few recent examples:

“I know the guys in this band, so I modeled for their (a)lbumcover. I like showing off my body ;)”:

“I know you want me.. ;)”

“Open and ready to be take in the kitchen”

MORE: The Six Most Important Moments in Reddit History

MORE: Canadians Will Get a Taco Bell Breakfast Menu If and Only If They Take Justin Bieber Back

Obama Eyes Equal Pay For Women Amid Election-Year Push

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 10:25 AM PDT

President Barack Obama moved Tuesday to close the pay gap between male and female federal contract employees who do the same job, his latest play on the issue ahead of the midterm elections.

Obama signed two executive orders amid the Democrats’ focus on income inequality and specifically pay inequity for women in 2014. The new orders—which coincided with a fresh push to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act that has foundered twice in Congress but is set for another vote this week—forbid federal contractors from punishing workers who discuss salaries, and also require contractors to disclose more data about their wages.

“Pay secrecy fosters discrimination, and we should not tolerate it, in federal contracting or anywhere else,” Obama said at the White House, on a day activists have dubbed Equal Pay Day. Obama said the orders are designed to increase transparency in the workplace, but Republican critics are dismissing them as political pandering aimed at galvanizing female support for the midterm elections.

“Even though we know that when economists control for any number of important factors—such as college major, work experience, time spent out of the workplace—the pay gap shrinks to almost nothing, the president, Democratic lawmakers, and progressive activists continue to use this faulty statistic—and this faux holiday—to justify growing government in the name of protecting women,” Sabrina Schaeffer, who heads the Independent Women’s Forum, said in a statement. "That’s why it’s fitting that Senate Democrats have chosen this occasion to push the ‘Paycheck Fairness Act,; which is also misleadingly named, since it will do nothing to promote fairness and certainly won’t help more women get a paycheck."

Obama was introduced by Lilly Ledbetter, the worker who sued for back wages after she found out her employer had paid her male colleagues more for doing the same job. Ledbetter, the namesake of a 2009 pay equity law, only found out about the wage disparity because of an anonymous note, and only after the statute of limitations for her to sue for backpay had lapsed. Obama said there needs to be more transparency so that women know whether or not they’re getting a fair deal.

“Some commentators are out there saying the pay gap doesn’t exist,” he said. “They say it’s a myth. But it’s not a myth, it’s math. I mean, Lily Ledbetter didn’t just make this up.”

Republicans say the wage gap is a trumped-up issue Democrats are using to bolster female support for the midterm elections. Some have criticized Obama as hypocritical after a conservative think tank study found that female White House staffers make 12% less than their male colleagues—a figure better than 77% national average but still one being seized upon.

“What I can tell you is that we have as an institution here have aggressively addressed this challenge, and obviously, though, at the 88 cents that you cite, that is not a hundred, but it is better than the national average,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday.

Ex-Taco Bell Interns: We Invented Doritos Tacos in 1995

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 10:19 AM PDT

Doritos Locos Taco might have premiered in 2012, but ex-Taco Bell interns have told the Huffington Post that they are the ones who first pitched the billion dollar idea way back in 1995 as a part of an internship competition. And they lost.

While the ex-interns don’t expect any compensation—”I'm sure I signed away that anything I pitched to them was their property anyway,” Andrea Watt said—they do want some recognition.

“I remember being mad we didn't win because I thought we had the best product,” fellow ex-intern Roy Brown told HuffPost. Although the team did make the fatal error of calling the product “Dorito” instead of “Doritos” tacos, $1 billion in sales after the similar product’s launch shows that it was a pretty winning idea.

“Good ideas can come from anywhere, but an idea without execution does not make a successful product,” Taco Bell director of public affairs and engagement Rob Poetsch told HuffPost. “The concept of making a taco shell out of Doritos may have come to people's minds which is why we've had no shortage of those who have claimed it was their idea."

[Huffington Post]

Watch Joy Behar Tell Chris Christie: ‘You’re Toast’

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 10:11 AM PDT

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appeared to lose his cool somewhat during a celebrity roast last week, as former The View host Joy Behar tossed zingers in his direction and not at the honoree.

The April 1 roast was for the 90th birthday celebration of former New Jersey governor, Brendan Byrne. Christie hosted the celebrity roast for Byrne, and he became the butt of many jokes about the George Washington Bridge scandal.

But Behar’s remarks seemed to hit home. In a video that surfaced Tuesday, Behar said that when she heard Christie had caused traffic jams, she thought: 'What the hell is he doing, standing in the middle of the bridge?"

Christie eventually interrupted her, according to The New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza, who attended the event. “This is a Byrne roast,” he said, before standing and attempting to steal her notes.

The exchange ended, Lizza reports, with a “rattled” Behar telling Christie: "I really don't know about the Presidency. Let me put it to you this way, in a way that you'd appreciate: You're toast."

Kerry Defends Obama’s Syria Policy

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 10:00 AM PDT

Secretary of State John Kerry beat back Republican charges Tuesday that the Obama Administration has not done enough to end the three-year Syrian civil war that has now killed 150,000 people.

"I know there are a lot of concerns about our Syrian policy," Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said during a congressional hearing on Capitol Hill. "We have no policy from what I can tell, other than again, allowing people to kill each other off. And us making commitments to the opposition that we do not honor, and leaving them in refugee camps and basically stranded without the support we committed to them on the front end."

Kerry defended the current strategy as "better" than the solution endorsed by both Kerry and Corker last year to engage in a targeted strike against President Bashar Assad's regime, saying diplomatic progress has removed "54%" of the chemical weapons from the conflict.

"What's your take," challenged Kerry. "Would you rather drop a few bombs, send a message, and then have him [Assad] still with the [chemical] weapons and the capacity to deliver them, or would you rather get all of them out?"

But according to the Wall Street Journal, Kerry and United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power have pushed the Pentagon and White House to adopt a much stronger stance, advocating for American military intervention and using special operations forces to train and equip opposition fighters.

"I think there is a capacity to change Assad's calculation," said Kerry on Tuesday, when pressed by Corker if he supports military intervention, adding that he would talk about specifics in a classified setting. He said a limited strike "would have had some effect… but it would not have had a devastating impact by which he would have had to recalculate because it wasn't going to last that long."

"If Syria is ever going to be resolved, it is going to be through a political process," Kerry added. “And that political process is now in place, though the moment is not right because we still have to change Assad’s calculation.”

This App Could Let You Count Calories By Taking a Picture Of Your Food

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 10:00 AM PDT

What if taking photos of your food could serve a real purpose besides helping you brag on Instagram and Facebook?

SRI International, the lab responsible for the technology behind Siri, is developing an app that would let you snap a picture of your food to get an approximate calorie count, Gigaom reports. It would use image recognition to scan the photo and analyze the different components of your meal.

One of the major challenges here is hidden fats like oil and butter, SRI Ventures executive director Dror Oren tells Gigaom. So while you probably can’t get an exact count, you can still get a fairly accurate range. The team is aware, for example, that some of the best (and most caloric) foods — like burritos — have hidden components, so they’re taking that into account as they continue to develop the app.

SRI expects the technology to become mainstream in about a year, which gives us all plenty of time to perfect our food photography skills.


Mozilla’s Culture War Is a Bad Model for Business

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 09:56 AM PDT

Last week's forced resignation of Mozilla CEO Brandon Eich should have sent a shudder through gatherings all over the country. This shudder was felt, it's true, in gatherings of evangelical churches, Roman Catholic parishes, Orthodox Jewish synagogues. But this shudder should also have gone through corporate boardrooms, because it signals a dangerous trend of forced political uniformity, rather than tolerance, in corporate America. That's not good for anyone, on any side of the culture war.

At issue, of course, is Brandon Eich's 2008 donation of $1,000 to a campaign in support of Proposition 8, a California ballot measure to retain the definition of marriage in that state to the union of one man and one woman. Eich was hounded out of his job by activists who didn't simply disagree with Eich's view but who wouldn't tolerate any dissenting view in the company at all. The goal, it seems, wasn't dignity or justice, but enforced equality of thought.

As social conservatives, we, of course, were shocked by this development. Columnist Rod Dreher spoke of it as Portlandia's form of Sharia Law. But those on the traditional marriage side of the cultural divide weren't alone. Some pro-same-sex marriage thinkers, such as Jonathan Rauch and Andrew Sullivan, also dissented from this sort of Inquisition. "The whole episode disgusts me," Sullivan wrote. "If this is the gay rights movement today—hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else, then count me out."

Make no mistake, we support the rights of corporations to live up to their corporate values, even when we disagree with those values. We don't want the government interfering with Mozilla's right to make this decision. But we think the decision was a poor one, one that seeks to wield a nuclear option of silencing all dissent through endless campaigns of forced silence. We believe it's important for all of us to ask, how did Mozilla get to this point? And is this really where we want to go?

Mozilla executive chair Mitchell Baker wrote, in explaining the board's decision, "We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right." Baker uses "people" here in an abstract and almost universalizing way. Who are these "people"? It's obviously not LGBT people in general because many of them, like Sullivan and Rauch, don't agree with these tactics.

And "people" here cannot refer to the overwhelming consensus of the American population because every poll indicates that, whatever cultural changes have happened, the population is still divided on the question of whether the definition of marriage should be revised to include same-sex couples.

The "people," it appears, who sparked this controversy, are critics on Twitter and a dating site, OKCupid, which recommended its users find another browser than Mozilla's Firefox. And Mozilla has received more backlash for removing Eich than for hiring him. The company tracks positive and negative comments, and the negative reaction to this is unprecedented.

We've seen this before in recent days, in the kerfuffle over A&E's suspension of Duck Dynasty reality show star Phil Robertson for quoting a Bible passage about sexual morality. The backlash to the suspension was so overwhelming that A&E rescinded it within days.

So how does this happen? How does a company get to the point where its first reaction to an unpopular opinion is to punish diversity of thought? We think it happens because the company becomes so culturally isolated that they no longer know that there, in fact, is diversity of thought on a given issue. The Twitter and Facebook outrage against Eich can seem to be the uniform "voice of the people," rather than one more debate in an ongoing controversy.

As evangelical Christians, we've heard, all our lives, our churches and ministries warn against a "Christian bubble," where we can be around fellow believers all the time to the point that we lose touch with what our unbelieving neighbors think, to the point that we lose any point of connection with them. That's easy to do, and not just in church circles.

There can be a "boardroom bubble," where belonging to a particular cultural group can give the blindness of thinking that "everyone" believes the way that you do. This can happen in Hollywood studios or in New York media empires or in Washington DC think tanks—and it can also happen in Silicon Valley tech companies.

Have American boardrooms become so insulated in their secularity, that they cannot even imagine why, for instance, Roman Catholics and evangelical Protestants and Orthodox Jews and Muslims and Latter-day Saints might hold sincere differences from the accepted wisdom of the corporate cocktail parties about what marriage is? If so, these companies will be out of touch with a significant segment of the population. But, more importantly, these companies can find themselves, as Mozilla did, turning their corporate mission into a scorched-earth culture war battlefield that will be good neither for business nor for civil society.

The answer, we believe, is to break out of the bubble. Don't silence disagreement, but see more conversation, not less, as a means of engagement. The Bible tells us that "in the multitude of counselors," there is wisdom (Prov. 11:14). We would think that successful business leaders—even those who wouldn't know how to find that passage in the Bible—would know that intuitively. But that multitude of counselors means engagement, not silencing. And it means real diversity, not just whatever makes sense to the diversity officer. If companies were to seek this sort of engagement, we might see fewer embarrassing episodes like Mozilla's in the years to come.

Dr. Russell Moore is President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Penny Nance is CEO and President of Concerned Women for America.

VIDEO: Jillian Michaels Wants Out of The Biggest Loser

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 09:52 AM PDT

The Biggest Loser is about to lose more than just unwanted pounds — the show will be losing trainer Jillian Michaels as well, according to PEOPLE.

“She is deeply concerned about the direction the show has been taking,” said the source. Michaels is reportedly unhappy with multiple aspects of the show, ranging from how she herself has been portrayed to the controversial weight loss of winner Rachel Frederickson from last season’s finale.

This wouldn’t be the first time Michaels has left the show; the trainer opted out after season 11 but was back again by season 14.

Watch New Yorkers Completely Lose It Over a Rat

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 09:30 AM PDT

When you live in New York City, you grow accustomed to rats. You kind of just accept that they’re everywhere and don’t let them bother you too much. But apparently, when you’re sharing a subway car with one, all hell breaks loose and everyone just completely loses it.

So when a rat made his way onto an A train yesterday, one New Yorker decided to record a video of the madness — and we really mean madness. He posted the video on YouTube, with the following explanation:

A usually boring Monday morning commute to work at Brooklyn was stirred up by this little guy.He joined us at the Fulton street station on the A train going downtown. Someone getting off the train was screaming “RAT on the train!”. But by the time everyone realized what was happening, the doors closed and the train entered the tunnel. We were stuck with him till the other end.

Watch above as a group of New Yorkers — usually so stoic and unfazed by pretty much everything — scream bloody murder over a rat.


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