This could be very cool!!

ABBA members to launch ‘new digital experience’ next year

NEW YORK — The members of ABBA are reuniting for a “new digital experience” next year.

The iconic Swedish pop band made the announcement Wednesday, but didn’t offer much detail. They said they are teaming up with Universal Music Group and entertainment mogul Simon Fuller (“American Idol,” Spice Girls) to “create an original entertainment experience … that will enable a new generation of fans to see, hear, and feel ABBA in a way previously unimagined.”

ABBA includes Benny Andersson, Agnetha Faltskog, Bjoern Ulvaeus and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. They formed in Stockholm in 1972 and last performed together 35 years ago. The four members made a rare joint appearance in January for the opening of a Stockholm restaurant inspired by the “Mamma Mia!” musical.

ABBA’s hits include “Dancing Queen” and “Take a Chance on Me.”


I Almost Bought Into It, But Was Too Late.

Neil Young’s Pono player soars past $800K Kickstarter goal

Just one day after its launch, Neil Young’s Pono digital music player has soared past its $800,000 US crowdfunding goal and well on its way to production.

A longtime critic of the highly compressed and less dynamic audio quality of most digital music, Young has been working with audio engineers for several years on a high-fidelity alternative that is as portable and convenient as an iPod or other .mp3 player.

On Tuesday, the San Francisco-based PonoMusic Team launched its $800,000 US fundraising campaign on the popular website Kickstarter.

By noon ET on Wednesday, pledges surpassed $1.5 million US.

Meanwhile the 68-year-old music legend pitched Pono — derived from a Hawaiian term denoting “righteous,” according to Young — in Austin, Texas, at the South by Southwest Festival Tuesday evening. He discussed the prism-shaped music player and its eventual music sales website before a packed audience at the Austin Convention Centre.

“Pono is about the music, it’s about the people who make the music and the way it sounds to us when we’re in the studio making it,” Young says in a video on the Kickstarter site.

“It’s about you hearing what we hear, and that hasn’t happened in a long time.”

The fledgling player — slated for an October 2014 release at an expected retail price of $399 US — uses the FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) audio format and can play other high-resolution music formats.

The device features a touchscreen, basic button navigation and two outputs: one for headphones/personal listening and another for plugging into a home or car audio system.

The eventual online store will charge between $14.99 to $24.99 US per album. Prices for individual songs weren’t disclosed.

Young has already garnered a bevy of famous converts for Pono’s apparently warm, vinyl-quality sound. Appearing in a video to praise the sound and/or the player are such luminaries as Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Jack White, Norah Jones, Charlie Musselwhite, Arcade Fire, Patti Smith and super producers Rick Rubin and T-Bone Burnett.

“Just so I can sleep at night … I want to bring back real music,” Young says.

“I want everybody to hear music that way. That’s why we’re on Kickstarter, and we can share it with everyone.”


Awesome idea, Neil!!

Neil Young Trademarks New Audio Format

They might sound like great song titles, but “21st Century Record Player,” “Earth Storage” and “Thanks for Listening” aren’t new Neil Young tunes. They’re trademarks that the rocker recently filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Rolling Stone has found, and they indicate that Young is developing a high-resolution audio alternative to the MP3 format.

According to the filed documents, Young applied for six trademarks last June: Ivanhoe, 21st Century Record Player, Earth Storage, Storage Shed, Thanks for Listening and SQS (Studio Quality Sound). Included in the filing is a description of the trademarks: “Online and retail store services featuring music and artistic performances; high resolution music downloadable from the internet; high resolutions discs featuring music and video; audio and video recording storage and playback.” The address on file corresponds to that of Vapor Records, Young’s label.

Young faces about a year of paperwork before the government will register his trademarks. Last week, they were approved for publication in a public journal for 30 days, a step that allows competitors to challenge Young if they find his registration harmful. The journal is set to be published later this month; if the trademarks face no opposition or snags, Young must then file documents detailing how he intends to use the trademarks, which the government could register as early as the holidays, according to the filing schedule.

A press release issued last September by Penguin Group imprint Blue Rider Press, which is publishing Young’s upcoming memoir, may have revealed the working title of Young’s entire project. In addition to the memoir, says the release, “Young is also personally spearheading the development of Pono, a revolutionary new audio music system presenting the highest digital resolution possible, the studio quality sound that artists and producers heard when they created their original recordings. Young wants consumers to be able to take full advantage of Pono’s cloud-based libraries of recordings by their favorite artists and, with Pono, enjoy a convenient music listening experience that is superior in sound quality to anything ever presented.”

Such a service would allow music fans to download audio files that sound like the studio recordings of the past, as opposed to the über-compressed song files that are currently available at MP3 stores like iTunes and Amazon. (When reached for comment, a Penguin Group representative directed Rolling Stone back to Young’s publicist.)

Young has a history of paying close attention to audio quality. His 1968 debut LP was one of the first albums to be mixed with the short-lived Haeco-CSG technology, which improved the sound of stereo albums played on mono equipment. Young has also been heavily involved with the remixing and remastering of his catalog for years.

In the last year, the rocker has also been increasingly vocal about his frustration with the sound quality of digital music. On January 31st, during an appearance at the D: Dive into Media conference in California, Young proposed that “some rich guy” should create “a modern-day iPod for the 21st Century” featuring studio-quality resolution. “When I started making records, we had a hundred percent of the sound,” said Young. “And then you listen to it as an MP3 at the same volume – people leave the room. It hurts…It’s not that digital is bad or inferior. It’s that the way it’s being used is not sufficient to transfer the depth of the art.” According to Young, a typical download contains only five percent of the data that an original analog recording master offers, and the average studio-quality audio file requires roughly 30 minutes to download because of its uncompressed size.

Young also said that he met with Apple CEO Steve Jobs before his death last fall, and that the two discussed the possibility of developing a device similar to an iPod that could store roughly 30 studio-quality albums. “We were working on it,” said Young. “Steve Jobs was a pioneer of digital music. But when he went home, he listened to vinyl. And you’ve gotta believe that if he’d lived long enough, he would eventually have done what I’m trying to do.”


Noooooooo!!!! not more changes!!!

Facebook’s new facelift plays up photos, friends
NEW YORK ñ Facebook is redesigning the profile pages of its 500 million-plus users to make it more of a reflection of their real lives and emphasize one of the site’s most popular features, photos.
Facebook said in a blog post Sunday the changes are meant to make it easier for users to tell their story ó who they are, where they work, their life philosophy and the most important people in their lives. The changes place a bigger emphasis on visuals, from photos to images of users’ interests.
A new biography section includes not just who you are and where you live but a set of the most recent photos that your friends have “tagged” you in. Previously users had to click on a tab to see the latest photos on a profile. Users can also feature important friends in their profile, while previously only random selection appeared. And in addition to listing their job, users can now add the projects they worked on. It’s all a move toward curating a more complete picture of a person, something that will likely appeal to Facebook’s advertisers. The company did not make any changes to its privacy policy as part of the redesign.
Facebook unveiled the changes ahead of an appearance on 60 Minutes by CEO Mark Zuckerberg Sunday evening. Zuckerberg, 26, talked about the profile page redesign, Facebook’s hard-working culture of all-night coding sessions, as well as his take on “The Social Network,” the movie about Facebook’s beginning that doesn’t cast him in a very flattering light.
“I think that they got every single T-shirt that they had the Mark Zuckerberg character wearing right. I think I actually own those T-shirts,” Zuckerberg told 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl in the interview.
“But I mean, there are hugely basic things that they got wrong, too,” he added. “(They) made it seem like my whole motivation for building Facebook was so I could get girls, right? And they completely left out the fact that my girlfriend, I’ve been dating since before I started Facebook.”
Asked about a Facebook IPO, Zuckerberg said “You know, maybe.”
“A lot of people who I think build start-ups or companies think that selling the company or going public is this endpoint,” he said. “Right, it’s like you win when you go public. And that’s just not how I see it.”
On Facebook, even small changes to users’ home pages tend to meet with protests from a small but vocal fraction of users who want things to stay the way they are. In an attempt to pre-empt this, Facebook is rolling out the changes slowly, letting users ó for the time being ó decide whether they want to display the new profile layout or the old one. The new layout will be available to all users by early next year, the company said.
The latest changes come as Facebook intensifies its competition with online search leader Google Inc. as the primary destination for anyone using the Internet. The changes streamline users profile pages so it’s easier to see the things that matter the most, rather than a chronological stream of the latest wall posts, links and photos they posted. Users can also see how their Facebook lives intertwine with their friends by clicking on a “See Friendship” link on the top right hand page of their friends’ profiles.
“You can see all the things that you have in common with that person,” Zuckerberg said. “And it’s just like, it gives you this amazing connection with that person in a way that the current version of the profile that we have today just doesn’t do.”


May it rest in peace!!!

Sony Retires the Cassette Walkman After 30 Years
After retiring the floppy disk in March, Sony has halted the manufacture and distribution of another now-obsolete technology: the cassette Walkman, the first low-cost, portable music player.
The final batch was shipped to Japanese retailers in April, according to IT Media. Once these units are sold, new cassette Walkmans will no longer be available through the manufacturer.
The first generation Walkman (which was called the Soundabout in the U.S., and the Stowaway in the UK) was released on July 1, 1979 in Japan. Although it later became a huge success, it only sold 3,000 units in its first month. Sony managed to sell some 200 million iterations of the cassette Walkman during the product lineís 30-year career.
Somewhat ironically, the announcement was delivered the same week as the iPodís ninth anniversary (which is on October 23rd), although the decline of the cassette Walkman is attributed primarily to the explosive popularity of CD players in the í90s, not the iPod.


Is this the future?!?

Netflix launches service in Canada
TORONTO – Netflix, the popular online movie and TV rental company, has launched its all-you-can-watch entertainment service in Canada.
The service went live Wednesday morning, offering Canadians with broadband Internet connections unlimited access to a catalogue of thousands of mostly second-run movies and TV shows for $7.99 a month.
It’s the first time Netflix has been offered outside of the U.S.
The on-demand films and TV episodes can be streamed directly to computer screens, iPhones and iPads, or viewed on TVs connected to certain models of Blu-ray disc players and home video game consoles.
The $7.99 monthly fee covers an unlimited amount of viewing, restricted only by customers’ Internet data transfer allowances.
At a press conference in Toronto Wednesday, California-based Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings said his company’s service isn’t a direct competitor to broadcast television or cable services, as most of the content on Netflix is not brand new.
And unlike the U.S., Netflix will not offer DVD rental by mail in Canada.
“We don’t have sports, we don’t have the vast majority of programming they have,” Hastings said when comparing Netflix to traditional TV.
The service will offer seasons one through three of the popular drama Mad Men, for example, but not the current season. HBO shows are not available on Netflix, and movies in the service’s easy-to-browse online listings are for the most part several months or years old.
But Hastings said Netflix’s strengths are its low cost and the variety of content available, ranging from The Trailer Park Boys to SpongeBob SquarePants to Oscar-winning flicks such as Slumdog Millionaire and A Beautiful Mind.
Hastings said the resolution of the streaming video image will depend on the device it’s being viewed on and the speed of the connection, with high-definition video available for some programming.
The launch was dealt a public relations black eye when reporters discovered that extras had been hired to pose as members of the public, and were instructed to appear excited while checking out street displays demonstrating the Netflix service.
Word of the ruse lit up social media sites, leading Netflix to issue apologies and clarifications. “Some extras were hired for a corporate video shoot earlier in the day, taking advantage of the launch event to tape some promotional footage for our own use,” Ken Ross, Netflix’s vice president of corporate communications, told QMI Agency. “Some of the extras were still around when the press briefing let out across the street.”
The extras had been told to appear enthusiastic about Netflix if interviewed by the media, which Netflix admits was a mistake. “At the time, I wasn’t aware that such instructions had been handed out to the extras, and that should not have happened,” Ross said.
“There were two separate events – the press briefing and the video shoot – and it seems things got a bit mixed up.”
When Netflix announced in July its plans to expand into Canada, Rogers reduced download data caps on some of the company’s Internet packages, seen by some as a move to thwart Netflix as a potential competitor its cable TV and movie rental services.
Watching Netflix consumes roughly one gigabyte of Internet data per hour of content, meaning a home with a $36-per-month Rogers Lite Internet package would max out its monthly data transfer allowance after only 15 hours of viewing, not including any other Internet use.
Internet providers like Rogers, Bell and Telus “need to establish more realistic rate structures that anticipate the kinds of services, like video on demand, that consumers will increasingly use in years to come,” said independent technology analyst Carmi Levy.
“As it stands, it’s a recipe for disgruntled consumers and stunted-at-birth services.”
A full listing of the devices that Netflix can be viewed on is available at
The company is currently offering Canadians a one-month free trial of the service.


12996 – Find a way, and we will pay!!

Bono calls for internet controls
Irish rocker Bono is calling for better restrictions on the internet to protect artists and their work.
In his regular column for the New York Times, which the U2 frontman began a year ago, Bono says downloading is becoming all-encompassing.
“The only thing protecting the movie and TV industries from the fate that has befallen music and indeed the newspaper business is the size of the files,” he wrote.
Bono predicts people are only a few years away from downloading movies in a few seconds.
“A decade’s worth of music file-sharing and swiping has made clear that the people it hurts are the creators ó in this case, the young, fledgling songwriters who can’t live off ticket and T-shirt sales like the least sympathetic among us.” And he alleges that “rich service providers” are reaping “the lost receipts of the music business.”
The musician claims the technology is available to track and prevent illegal downloading, noting efforts in China which limit its populace from freely accessing the internet.
“Perhaps movie moguls will succeed where musicians and their moguls have failed so far, and rally America to defend the most creative economy in the world, where music, film, TV and video games help to account for nearly four per cent of gross domestic product,” he concludes.
Meanwhile, Bono’s band is doing well on its own, though not through record sales.
The Irish rockers had the most popular tour on the North American concert circuit in 2009, according to data from Pollstar.
The band sold $123 million US in tickets, making it the fifth largest concert tour in history, the trade publication reported.


HMV still sells music!??! I usually get my Blu-rays, DVDs and books there…but music!?!?

HMV launches digital store
With CD sales dwindling, Canada’s largest traditional retailer of music, HMV, is launching a digital store.
The new site at will offer millions of tracks in MP3 format, without digital rights management software, the retailer said in a release.
It is inviting consumer input on the site beginning Wednesday.
Among the features are personal accounts that record what consumers have bought through the site, so they can download the same tracks later if they have lost them or want to listen from a different computer or player.
HMV, which has 131 Canadian stores, is racing to claim a share in the digital realm from iTunes, Amazon and 7Digital.
The store is being launched in French and in English.


The extra ingredient is salt!

Colonel’s secret recipe in new, safer vault at KFC
LOUISVILLE, Ky. ñ Col. Sanders’ handwritten recipe for fried chicken was back in its Kentucky home Tuesday after five months in hiding while KFC upgraded security around its top corporate secret.
Nothing went afoul when the recipe was returned from an undisclosed location to KFC’s headquarters late Monday in a lockbox handcuffed to the wrist of a security consultant.
KFC President Roger Eaton was visibly relieved when the door to a new electronic safe was shut with the single sheet of yellowing paper stashed inside. “Mission accomplished,” he said.
“It was very nerve wracking,” Eaton said later of the recipe’s hiatus from a vault where it had been kept for decades. “I don’t want to be the only president who’s lost the recipe.”
KFC is a subsidiary of Louisville-based Yum Brands Inc., which also owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver’s and A&W All-American Food.
The recipe lays out a mix of 11 herbs and spices that coat the chain’s Original Recipe chicken, including exact amounts for each ingredient. It is written in pencil and signed by Harland Sanders.
The iconic recipe is now protected by an array of high-tech security gadgets, including motion detectors and cameras allowing guards to monitor the vault around the clock.
“It’s like an onion of security ó many layers,” said security expert Bo Dietl, who brought the recipe back to the building.
Thick concrete blocks encapsulate a vault, situated near office cubicles, that is connected to a backup generator to keep the security system operating in times of power outages.
“I can guarantee you, once it’s in there, it will be safe,” Dietl assured Eaton.
Just how valuable is the recipe?
Thomas P. Hustad, professor of marketing at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, said the recipe “goes to the core of the identity of the brand.” The recipe, along with the man who created it, conjure images for the chain that help set it apart in the minds of customers, he said.
“I would say that the heritage value is just as high for this secret recipe as the stories around the Coke formula,” Hustad said by phone Tuesday. “I guess I’d put the two of those at the top of the pyramid.”
Dietl said the security measures he installed replaced an “antiquated” system. For years, the recipe was kept in a filing cabinet equipped with two combination locks in the vault.
“The colonel could have used a pry bar to open that thing up,” Dietl said.


Love those electric cars!!

Neil Young feels driven to work on electric car
WICHITA, Kan. – Neil Young, the rocker who provided some of the soundtrack to Vietnam-era protests, is trying to change the world again ó with his car.
Young has teamed up with Johnathan Goodwin, a Wichita mechanic who has developed a national reputation for re-engineering the power units of big cars to get more horsepower but use less fuel.
The two are looking to convert Young’s 1959 Lincoln Continental convertible to operate on an electric battery. Ultimately, they said, they want the Continental to provide a model for the world’s first affordable mass-produced electric-powered automobile.
“Johnathan and this car are going to make history,” Young told The Wichita Eagle. “We’re going to change the world; we’re going to create a car that will allow us to stop giving our wealth to other countries for petroleum.”
Young has poured about $120,000 so far into the project, Goodwin said.
What’s more, the prototype power system worked during a 12-mile test drive of the car last week ó albeit with a few glitches.
“She was awesome,” Young said of the battery-operated car. “Her acceleration was incredible, she moved with hardly a sound; it was so quiet we could hear the wind through the tags of other cars.”
The drive almost ended in disaster when Goodwin, who controls acceleration with a knob in the back seat, twisted it the wrong way while approaching an entrance ramp and the vehicle lurched toward the rear of another car. Young, in the passenger seat, was able to hit the brakes in time.
“Still needs work,” said Goodwin, 37.
Young, 62, said he came across taped interviews of Goodwin eight months ago on the Internet, including a segment for the MTV show “Pimp My Ride.” Goodwin’s clientele includes California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had Goodwin work on his Hummer.
Young said he set out wanting his car to be able to use biodiesel, but later asked Goodwin whether they could instead power it with batteries and use it as a template to make electric cars more mainstream.
“The technology to make a practical and affordable electric car has been around for a long time,” Goodwin said. “There are all sorts of ways of doing it and all sorts of ways to work out how to make it work on a national scale.”
For Young, the project may finally complete a mission he set for himself with his music.
“You know, I thought long ago you could change the world by writing songs,” he said. “But you can’t change the world by writing songs. Oh, you can inspire a few people, get some of them to change their thinking about something. But you can’t change the world by writing songs.
“But we could change it with this car.”