CBS acquires Last.fm for $280 million

Oh this is probably not going to be good:

CBS Corp said on Wednesday it had paid $280 million in cash for the popular music social network service Last.fm.

CBS said in a statement the online service had more than 15 million active users in more than 200 countries and would fit well with its plans to attract younger viewers and transform it from a content company to an audience company.

I love Last.fm (aka Audioscrobbler), it’s one of the rare examples of a community site that found a niche and filled it well.  They’ve recently started expanding their feature set into events listsing and they’re providing a bunch of widgets for other sites.  They’ve also always had an extensive list of data feeds that could be consumed (and which I use for the latest album shown on my sidebar). 

I may be concerned for no reason, the article does say that

The Last.fm team will continue to run the online network under the terms of the deal and work with CBS to apply their community-building and technology expertise to extend CBS businesses online

And CBS has certainly seemed to embrace the new media: they show full episodes online, they have wikis, blogs & podcasts on their site

I just hope that the RIAA doesn’t use this as an opportunity to try an squeeze more money out of the site, like what they’ve done to Pandora. And I hope CBS is smart enough to not wreck a great site.

[tags]Last.fm, Music, CBS[/tags]

Sci-fi starships comparison chart

Very impressive image, showing the relative sizes of starships in Starwars, Star Trek, Farscape, Babylon 5 & a few others. It even has the mothership from V.  But seriously, where’s the Ha’tak or the Al’kesh, or even the Prometheus?  Come on, how can you include the NSEA Protector and not include anything from Stargate!

Very cool none the less, it must have taken ages to work out.  It shows just how crazy big the Super Star Destroyer was meant to be.

[via rebecca's pocket]

Update: Via reddit I found the original maker of the image, and he’s got a second one showing some larger ships too. Still no Stargate though!

Technorati tags: , ,

Crikey! Steve Irwin dead?

Television personality and environmentalist Steve Irwin has died in a marine accident in north Queensland, state government sources say.

The 44-year-old is believed to have been killed by a stingray barb that went through his chest, the sources said.

He was filming an underwater documentary off Port Douglas when the accident occurred.

Mr Irwin’s body was being flown to Cairns by helicopter.

News.com.au: Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin dead

Condolences to his family, this will be hard for them, especially with how the media will swoop on them.  You can leave a tribute on the ABC ForumsGoogle Maps image of where he was.

Other reports:

tags: , ,

Has someone hacked amandacongdon.com?

Update: Well whatever happened it’s now been fixed up, the site is back the same as before, no mention of the Rocketboom departure.

With all the talk about what’s happened on Rocketboom with Amanda Congdon, I tried to open her domain site and all I got was this:


<html><body bgcolor="#FFFFFF"><font color="#FFFFFF">
<?php
if(strstr($HTTP_HOST,"ixwebhosting.com")){echo "<META HTTP-EQUIV=\"Refresh\" CONTENT=\"0;url=http://email.ixwebhosting.com/horde/imp/\">";}
if(strstr($HTTP_HOST,"hostexcellence.com")){echo "<META HTTP-EQUIV=\"Refresh\" CONTENT=\"0;url=http://email.hostexcellence.com/horde/imp\">";}
?>
</font></body></html>

If that is someone trying to hack it, it’s a really lame attempt. php code displaying to the browser? It looks more like something has been removed. ixwebhosting.com is the company that hosts the domain. I was wondering if it might be hosted by the owner of rocketboom.com, but the whois records show them to be on completely different hosting companies (amandacongdon.com, rocketboom.com) & Amanda is listed as all the contacts for her domain.

It’s happened very recently, I loaded that site up yesterday & it was working fine. For a more complete list of all the discussions surrounding this, see this Megite listing.

[tags]rocketboom,amandacongdon,videoblog[/tags]

Oprah's million little complaints

After the revelations published by The Smoking Gun about A Million Little Pieces, James Frey has remained on the defensive, continuing to claim that his book is factual, despite it seeming that every week brings news that a new piece of information in it was a lie.

When he went on the Larry King show, Oprah Winfrey called up to defend him, say effectively that the truth didn’t matter, it was the ‘overall reading experience’ that mattered. Sort of another fake but accurate defence. It would seem that since then quite a number of people have called her on the logical, if not moral, inconsistency of her defence of James Frey. The Stephen Dubner, of Freakanomics fame, put up the idea that she was just trying to defend her next, possibly fantastical biographical book. It would seem though that she has actually listened to the criticisms and has realised that the guy is a liar and she said so in her most recent show.

Oprah: You went to the dentist. What’s true about the dentist?

James: I mean, I went to the dentist. I had my front four teeth repaired …as I remember it.

Oprah: With Novocain?

James: I honestly have no idea.

Oprah: Well then why did you say you didn’t have Novocain? Because, you know, the last time I went to the dentist, my dentist said that could not have happened. And I said, ‘Oh no. It happened. He told me it happened.’ …So, why did you do that?

James: I mean, once I talked to the person at the facility about it, you know, the book had been out for nine months. We’d already done a lot of interviews about it. … Since that time I’ve struggled with the idea of it…”

Oprah: No, the lie of it. That’s a lie. It’s not an idea, James. That’s a lie.

As Steven Levitt on the Freakanomics blog said:

She more than redeemed herself on her show today with James Frey as her guest. Unlike Larry King, who tossed softball after softball to Frey, she repeatedly asked the hard questions. And it became increasingly clear that just about everything interesting in his memoirs is made up.

I admire someone who can change their mind and admit a mistake like Oprah did today. It is even harder to do so in front of millions of people.

Meanwhile it’s good to see that James Frey’s creativity has inspired a new generation of writers.

Particle Man

Whenever I listen to the They Might Be Giants song Particle Man, I always got this image of a Tiny Toons cartoon. I thought it was just my brain mashing up a couple of different memories, but it turns out I’m not going mad, they actually did a Tiny Toons cartoon to particle man

Easily one of TMBG’s most popular songs, this song was used in a musical episode of the cartoon Tiny Toon Adventures titled “Tiny Toon Music Television”. Plucky Duck was a professional wrestler version of Particle Man who was clobbered by Triangle Man, Universe Man, and so forth.

Watch the episode here. Found on the brilliant This Might Be A Wiki

Oh and TMBG have a podcast too!

Finally an MP3 player I want

Creative have had an MP3 player on the market for pretty much the same amount of time as Apple has, but the Zen has always been the bridesmaid to the iPod, they’ve just never quite been able to crack it. I’ve always thought this was a pity, as the Zens have had some features that the iPod could not, or more specifically, would not have. Ben Mansill at AtomicMPC seems to think that the Zen Vision: M may just do it this time:

All that has been turned upside-down now. Within just a minute of playing with the new Zen Vision: M you know that this is the player to own all players. It is clear that Creative invested heavily in making the Vision: M the very best possible player. This is not a rebadged Chinese clone, it is not a hobbled together gadget from off the shelf parts. It is an exquisitely designed and engineered product that, finally, towers over every portable media player currently available.

The one feature that’s always attracted me is that you don’t need to use iTunes, and you don’t need to let it mangle your filenames & directory structure. The Creative Zens have always just mapped themselves as another haddrive when you plug them in, so you can do whatever you want with the files. They have provided the ‘Zen Explorer’ to manage the files if you want, but it’s always been a bit redundant seeing as you can just copy the files yourself. As Ben Mansill in the review says There’s no iTunes nonsense, you manage your files the way you want to, not how someone else tells you to.

Other coolness:

The Zen also functions as a picture viewer, and again, every format under the sun is supported. There’s an FM radio receiver and recorder and a built-in microphone, too. It will also output to TV via a sold separately cable. It will output either PAL or NTSC, selectable from the menu.

Like I said, I want one. It hasn’t been released in Australia yet, apparently it’s due around March/April 2006, but ebay seems to be having them for around AU$450. Still a wee bit beyond my price range at the moment, but my birthday’s in 3 days so… :)

Red Vs Blue – Season 4

Rooster Teeth have just released the first episode of the fourth season of Red Vs Blue: Familiar Surroundings.

Griff: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
Sarge: Go up there and get him Simmons
Donut: If he keeps screaming like that, he’s gonna pass out and fall off the cliff
Sarge: Cancel that order Simmons!
Griff: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
Sarge: Donut, get me a sniper rifle.
Donut: Yet sir!

Go download now.