Retro living room - isolated

Today, the United States Supreme Court will spend one hour hearing the latest arguments in an old, important debate that affects everyone watching television in the US: who owns the airwaves?

ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and others use the broadcast frequencies our TV antennas pick up, the government regulates those frequencies, and cable companies pay broadcasters to re-broadcast those frequencies, but the answer to who owns them remains nebulous. That is at the heart of today's case -- "American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., et al. v. Aereo, Inc." -- being decided by the highest court in the United States. And the decision stands to leave a massive impact on how Americans consume television, regardless of which side wins.

Read the Full Story 0 Comments

Welcome to IRL, an ongoing feature where we talk about the gadgets, apps and toys we're using in real life and take a second look at products that already got the formal review treatment.

IRL: Kogan's Agora HD, a $189 smartphone made obsolete by the Moto G

When I first came across Kogan at last year's CES, it was for the launch of the Aussie company's very first Agora smartphone. It was a modestly specced handset with some performance issues, but that was understandable: the going price was just $149, a sign that affordability was considered above all else. Then just nine months later, a follow-up smartphone, the Agora HD, was announced. A new 720p, 5-inch display and quad-core 1.2GHz processor were the headline features, but really there were improvements across the board. It was inevitable the price had to go up, too, but even then $189 felt like a small hop compared with the leap in hardware.

Read the Full Story 0 Comments

It's our 10th birthday, and to celebrate we'll be revisiting some of the key devices of the last decade. So please be kind, rewind.

Lego, the popular toy brick maker, graduated from simple plastic playthings in 1998 when it released its Mindstorms Robotics Invention System (RIS). Born of a collaboration between Lego and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), these "toys" let users build a variety of interactive humanoid, animal and vehicular robots. Although the product underwent iterative revisions over the years, it wasn't until 2006 that the company decided to introduce its true next generation of Mindstorms kits, appropriately dubbed NXT.

Read the Full Story 0 Comments

Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.

When you think about transportation innovations, highways probably aren't the first things that come to mind. But Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde recently rolled out the first "smart" highway in the Netherlands -- and it utilizes glow-in-the-dark lane lines, interactive lights and smart road signs to make roadways safer and more sustainable. The skincare company Foreo has come up with a far less practical plan to lessen our need for streetlights: Increase the moon's reflectivity to make the night sky brighter. The bizarre idea calls for coating part of the moon in a reflective surface in order to increase the amount of light it reflects back to the Earth at night.

Read the Full Story 0 Comments

Les Paul Special guitar

Pandora can't catch a break, it seems. Just weeks after the streaming radio service escaped paying higher royalties to songwriters, record companies and musicians have sued it in a New York court for allegedly violating state copyright laws by refusing to pay for older song recordings. The labels argue that Pandora is subject to state rules on compensation whenever it streams tunes recorded before February 15th, 1972, when federal law took over; right now, it's only paying for those newer works. The suing parties claim that Pandora is both depriving artists of income and wielding an "unfair advantage" over on-demand competitors like Rdio and Spotify, which have no choice but to negotiate royalties for classic tracks.

Read the Full Story 0 Comments

Like any responsible New Yorker, I've entrusted a copy of my apartment keys to a close friend. This is done mostly to ensure that, should I die home alone, my body won't be left to rot undiscovered for days. It's also primarily done so that my mail is collected and my "children" (what you would call plants) are watered and sung to every other day when I'm travelling for work. And I travel often.

My apartment is also wired to the gills with SmartThings. These little, white, swappable sensors monitor temperature, motion, moisture, power and presence, and relay that data to me via an app -- a crucial fact I'd neglected to tell my house-sitting friend many months ago. A small, yet ultimately fortunate, oversight that led me to uncover my house sitter's true comings and goings. Or, should I say, the lack thereof.

Read the Full Story 0 Comments

"I'm terrified I might not actually be all that smart."

"Made a batch of Jello just to stick my dick in it. No regrets."

"I like taking the ferry because I get to drink in public legally."

This is just a small sampling of posts I've recently seen on Secret, an anonymous-sharing app that's part of a new trend in Silicon Valley. It's a little like Whisper, a competing app that's been around since 2012, except that instead of letting you broadcast your anonymous missives to the world, posts on Secret are limited to a network of friends based on your phone's address book.

Read the Full Story 0 Comments

Welcome to IRL, an ongoing feature where we talk about the gadgets, apps and toys we're using in real life and take a second look at products that already got the formal review treatment.

IRL: A rant about Nintendo's Virtual Console service

Before you send in your angry emails, comments and tweets that decry me as a hatchet-wielding antichrist, let's begin by saying that I'm not a gamer. I do play games, but I have no specific allegiance to a console or manufacturer -- I simply go where the fun is. My console history, for editorial balance, includes the VIC 20, Commodore 64, NES, Mega Drive (Genesis), PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Xbox 360 and the Wii. That means that I'm about as much of a dilettante as you can be, and there's no bias or malice in the following. Just disappointment.

Read the Full Story 0 Comments

Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.

Airplanes are major CO2 emitters, but it doesn't need to be that way. For the past several years, two Swiss innovators, André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, have been flying around the world in a sun-powered plane, spreading the word about solar power. Last week, the duo announced the debut of the new and improved Solar Impulse 2 aircraft, which they'll use to attempt a flight around the globe. While the Solar Impulse is charting new territory in the skies, Tesla is changing the game on the roads. Last month Tesla sold 1,493 Model S sedans in Norway, breaking a 28-year-old monthly sales record and outselling every other vehicle in the country. Thanks in part to Tesla's success, electric cars are selling at a furious pace: A recent report shows that EV sales are currently growing by more than 100 percent per year. Smaller is better when it comes to urban cars -- especially for parking -- but there are drawbacks to owning a pint-size car. In San Francisco, vandals recently went on a Smart Car-tipping spree, flipping the tiny cars upside down in the middle of the night. A bicycle is still best way to get around the city, both for your health and the health of the planet. In Boston, doctors are now prescribing bike share memberships to obese patients, encouraging exercise instead of medication.

Read the Full Story 0 Comments

If you're an IT professional, gadget blogger or token geek in your circle of friends, chances are, you've been hounded relentlessly over the past couple of days about "this Heartbleed thing."

"Do I need to update my antivirus?"

"Can I login to my bank account now?"

"Google already fixed it, right?"

We've heard them all, but the answers aren't all that clear or simple. In an attempt to take the pressure off -- it is the weekend after all -- we've put together a primer that should answer all of those questions and a few more. Next time someone asks you about that "Heartbleed thing," just shoot them in our direction.

Read the Full Story 0 Comments