technews

Ads on Tumblr: Is Nowhere Safe?
November 17, 2016 1:18 pm

Earlier this summer, Tumblr, the common blog of choice for painfully hip and melancholy teens, decided to dip their toes into the realm of commercializing their user base by enabling the option of slathering ads site wide. The move allows for Tumblr users themselves to monetize their blogging hobby by running their own personal ads and allows sites like Yahoo to run advertisements. The decision came on the heels of Verizon purchasing Yahoo earlier this summer, with Yahoo itself having purchased Tumblr in the summer of 2013.

The practical decision was at first met with the usual reaction from those who are used to being provided a service with little to no catch: derision. But it hasn’t been all bad; Tumblr allows users to switch off the ads in their settings menu, a step that is more about maintaining good will with their user base than becoming money hungry. The ability to switch off ads usually comes at a price to the everyday consumer, most commonly in the form of a premium account.

The decision came shortly after one of the largest internet mergers in its history. Verizon added the social media website to their ever growing list of content sites that it has steadily consumed over the years. As Tumblr has been traditionally regarded as a bastion for those who feel cast aside or otherwise different than mainstream internet consumers, the strategy from Verizon, as harmless as it may seem, opens the door for future changes in a capitalistic direction. Hence the reason why internet activists fight so hard to keep what privacy rights they are given; once begun, it’s a slippery slope.

Monetizing previously free service websites has always been a compulsory first step after a previously agreed amount of time. Popular sites like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit made the jump long ago, sacrificing a small piece of community goodwill in order to serve the very concrete problems and issues that face internet companies. With the ease and familiarity that users navigate the web, it can often come as a shock to find things not only different, but to be thought of as the product instead of the consumer. It’s within that discomfort where a company can move in one of two different directions: to either appeases the users or appease the board and/or the stockholders. It takes a brave spirit to attempt both and time will tell whether Tumblr can keep its outsider shine amongst the gold.

I SEE STARS: TREE HOUSES
July 1, 2016 11:31 am

Metalcore, electronicore and post-hardcore had a baby. Its name is I See Stars and was born in 2005. Michigan natives Devin Oliver (vocalist), Brent Allen (guitarist), Andrew Oliver (vocalist), Jeffrey Valentine (bass guitarist) and Dakota Sammons (drums) all comprise the electronicore band and have been blazing the trail for this genre.

In 2006, they released their E.P Green Light Go before signing with Sumerian Records in 2008. They made the Billboard 200 list with their first full length album 3- D in 2009 in collaboration with producers Paul Wisner and Cameron Mizzell. Two years later they released The End of the World Party, thus beginning the integration of electronic music into their screamo-esque music.

They went mainstream after appearing on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”, being featured on Substream Magazine and Alternative Press and touring with Black Veil Brides. A year later in 2012, they released Digital Renegade with the addition of Danny Worshop (Asking Alexandria) and Cassadee Pope (ex-Hey Monday). New Demons, released in 2013, incorporated more electronic and trap elements and made it to number 28 on the Billboard 200. In 2015 they released a pair of remix albums reinterpreting past albums and reimagined favorites as acoustic/orchestral songs with a combination of covers of Daughter, Disclosure and Hozier. Some bands have that special drive, passion and charisma, I See Stars is one of them.

TreeHouse is their newest album just released on June 17th. If you have’t got a listen in yet, click here! In addition to their new release, I See Stars is on the roster for Warper Tour 2016. Click here to find tour dates near you!

THE NEW HOME FOR GAME MUSIC ENTHUSIASTS
June 14, 2016 12:23 am

Do you listen to soundtracks? Are John Williams and Marty O’Donnell your idols? Do you have epic scores constantly forming in your head? ThinkSpace Education is starting three different video game audio Masters programs that you can do from the comfort of your own bed.

These programs will be starting in September and so if you want in, better start looking into it. This will be the first ever Masters Degree(s) based in video game music and sound design. A number of people who teach are those who have worked on various famous scores, for example: Assassin’s Creed, Dragon Age, Bioshock 2 and Mass Effect. These are some of the biggest names in the industry and they would be your tutors and mentors. Pretty amazing right? Well, it gets better. 

Your job as a student would involve testing games, creating scores and sounds for those games while familiarizing yourself with a vast amount of software and hardware, most of which is used by professionals every day. The games you work on are not only trials created for virtual classroom learning, but are also part of the formation of a commercial game. That means some of your own work, or the work of your fellow students at this school, may be present in some of the games you and your friends play in the future. 

I could go on about the possibilities. ThinkSpace’s site is filled with so much stuff I have no shortage of topics to discuss about music and the games they accompany. But to wrap up, they have three specific areas to dive into. The first is in music and audio, a focus on how the music and audio interacts and portrays the game. The second is in composing, taking musical genius to the max with scores that grab the player and can even be interactive and ever changing. The third is sound design; every gunshot, animal growl and transforming robot has a unique sound, and you would be the one creating it.

If I was more involved or passionate about sound design and score developing, I would’ve applied when I first learned of it days ago. I’m not trying to sell you on this place or anything, it just seems like an awesome opportunity to expand your knowledge on something so simultaneously creative and technical. If this sounds like you, ThinkSpace is the perfect place.

CUBA FINALLY UPDATING ITS DATA PLAN
May 18, 2016 2:51 pm

You are most likely reading this on your computer or possibly your phone thanks to the magical powers of the Internet. My wife talked me into upgrading my old 2G Samsung to a 4G iPhone last summer and around the same time, Cuba has made a data plan upgrade.

For roughly the past 20 years, the Internet in Cuba has been limited to very few families (less than 5% of households in 2013 according to The Verge). But as time changes and needs and wants progress, demand for Internet access for public use grew immensely. As of now, there are a few dozen new wireless hot-spots that will allow the general public access to the Internet for the first time in Cuban history, all in and around the city of Havana.

But this access doesn’t come without limits. The public hot-spots run about $2 an hour, which is insanely expensive when a normal Cuban household earns about $20 a month (converted to American dollars). Could you imagine spending %10 of your income on 1 hour of Internet? In a park? With slow, limited access? It is quite the cost for something we use constantly, especially since the few sites that are allowed access in Cuba are filtered and regulated by the government.

Could you go with only a hour of Internet a month? Or no Internet at all? Rooster Teeth, the online film and entertainment company, produced a documentary last year called “Connected,” which was about living sans Internet or modern technology for a week, could you do that?

Even with these tall-order terms to get onto the Internet, the population will still benefit. It’s great that the power of information will start to seep into Cuban life and hopefully become more easily accessible (and affordable) once people get a grasp of how valuable these hot-spots are.

As much as society, cultures and countries fight the need for the Internet, the world is becoming totally dependent on it. Let’s just hope this dependence doesn’t go all Matrix on us.