Poll Will you take advantage of the home improvement tax break

first_img Yes. I’ve been meaning to, and this decides it. (517) Yes. I’ve been meaning to, and this decides it.No. I’ll still get a better deal ‘off the books’.No. I simply can’t afford it.It doesn’t really apply to me.Vote No. I simply can’t afford it. (1293) It doesn’t really apply to me. (1210) No. I’ll still get a better deal ‘off the books’. (1074) A NEW PROGRAMME announced by Michael Noonan as part of Budget 2014 will give a tax incentive to householders having work done on their home.Aimed at getting people to spend money and discouraging cowboy builders, it will allow a tax credit of 13.5 per cent for money spent on renovations priced between €5,000 and €30,000.Minister Noonan said work like window-fitting, plumbing, tiling and plastering would all qualify under the scheme.Today we ask: Will the scheme encourage you to invest in your home? Poll Results:last_img read more

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Adams calls for information in response to documentary on The Disappeared

first_imgSINN FÉIN LEADER Gerry Adams said he took part in last night’s documentary on ‘The Disappeared’ to focus attention on the efforts to recover the bodies of those killed by the IRA and never found.Adams said that he has “worked very closely” with Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains and will continue to do so. “The key to resolving this terrible wrong for the families is information, ” he said.In a hushed exchanged between the leaders of Sinn Féin, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in the Dáil, Adams said:I think  that the programme last night should be a huge motivation to anyone with any information whatsoever to bring it forward.He also asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny to “join with me in assisting very actively the work of the commission that was set up by the last Government.”Kenny said that he accepts that Adams had a genuine interest in encouraging those with information to come forward:It may well be that there are some people out there who know what happened and it may well be that your own appeal to this house has some effect. I hope that the programme stimulates some active minds in regard to what happened.An Taoiseach addressed the claims in last night’s programme that Gerry Adams ordered the killing of Jean McConville by saying that “the fact of the matter is that somebody ordered that Jean McConville be murdererd”.Adressing Adams later he said that: “There were some very direct comments made indeed about your presence on the programme yesterday evening.”Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said that last night’s programme was “very harrowing to watch” and said that the families involved in the programme deserve great credit for their bravery. He asked that “every effort is made to pursue the case of the murder of Jean McConville”.Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ RemainsJustice Minister Alan Shatter said those responsible for “The Disappeared”, “have no moral compass and no justification for their actions”. Too many families have had their “hopes dashed” he said:The Commission needs further information to be able to progress its investigations – this is the only resource that is missing. obody has anything to fear by providing information. Information provided to the Commission is guaranteed the strictest confidence and can only be used for the purpose of locating and recovering the victims’ remains.Read: Jean McConville family launch civil action against PSNI & MoD >Read: I played no part in the abduction and killing of Jean McConville – Adamslast_img read more

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He taught us how to come together and believe in ourselves The

first_img— Former British Prime Minister Tony BlairToday the world has lost one of its most important leaders and one of its finest human beings— Former US President Bill Clinton[Chris Young/PA Wire/Press Association Images]Barbara and I mourn the passing of one of the greatest believers in freedom we have had the privilege to know. As president, I watched in wonder as Nelson Mandela had the remarkable capacity to forgive his jailers.— Former US President George H.W. BushA hero. He was a friend and a companion in the popular fight and the fight for world peace.— Brazilian football legend PeléEvery time Melinda and I met Nelson Mandela, we left more inspired than ever. His grace and courage changed the world. This is a sad day.— Microsoft founder Bill GatesWhat an honour it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights.— Actor Idris Elba (The British actor portrays the leader in a new movie based on Mandela’s autobiography ‘A Long Walk to Freedom’)We were just reminded of what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was and my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family right now— Britain’s Prince William(Speaking at a London screening of the Mandela biopic)It was as if he was born to teach the age a lesson in humility, in humour and above all else in patience.— BonoAdditional reporting, AFPRead: President Higgins: ‘A tower of inspiration for all those struggling for justice’Obituary: Nelson Mandela: Prisoner, president and father of ‘Rainbow Nation’Also: Nelson Mandela: A life in pictures THE DEATH OF South Africa’s anti-apartheid leader and first democratic president Nelson Mandela has triggered an unprecedented worldwide chorus of respect and admiration.Foreshadowing the guest list of what will likely be the most important funeral of recent decades, world leaders, campaigners, musicians, athletes, and others queued up to issue solemn tributes to the 95-year-old icon.President Micheal D Higgins led the Irish tributes, saying that lives around the world had been changed by the leader’s “transformational life and enduring legacy”.Here’s what else is being said about ‘Madiba’ around the world…Mandela and his wife Winnie, following the leader’s 1990 release from prison in Cape Town [Greg English/AP/Press Association Images]A unifier from the moment he walked out of prison. He taught us how to come together and believe in ourselves.— Archbishop Desmond TutuHe was a great unifier and a very, very special man in this regard beyond everything else he did. This emphasis on reconciliation was his biggest legacy.Former South African President F.W. De ClerkThrough his fierce dignity and unbending will to sacrifice his own freedom for the freedom of others, Madiba transformed South Africa – and moved all of us. His journey from a prisoner to a president embodied the promise that human beings – and countries – can change for the better.— US President Barack ObamaMany around the world were influenced by his selfless struggle for human dignity, equality and freedom. He touched our lives in deeply personal ways.— United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moonNelson Mandela was a towering figure in our time; a legend in life and now in death — a true global hero.— British Prime Minister David CameronThrough his dignity, grace and the quality of his forgiveness, he made racism everywhere not just immoral but stupid.last_img read more

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Poll Is 8 December the start of Christmas

first_img Poll Results: It’s never Christmas in my heart (500) YesNo – I’ve been shopping for agesI’ll put the tree up on Christmas EveIt’s never Christmas in my heartVote No – I’ve been shopping for ages (2176) I’ll put the tree up on Christmas Eve (837) Yes (1453) THIS WEEKEND WILL see the 8 December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.A national holiday in many countries, in Ireland it is the traditional start of Christmas in Ireland, a day that the Christmas shopping begins in earnest.But with decorations going up sooner and sooner these days, does the day hold any relevance outside of the church celebration?We’re asking: Is 8 December the beginning of Christmas?last_img read more

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Connacht shock Toulouse to record their greatest ever Heineken Cup win

first_imgUpdated 16:55CONNACHT HAVE BEATEN Toulouse 16-14 at the Stade Ernest Wallon thanks to an assured Dan Parks kicking performance and a superb try from Kieran Marmion.The Irish side shocked the four-time Heineken Cup champions to snap their eight-game losing streak and give themselves a chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals. The final five minutes were tense as Parks hit the bar with a 55 metre penalty attempt.The visitors were 60 seconds away from a remarkable half-time lead before a late Jean Pascal Barraque try. Pat Lam’s side began the game on the back foot and needed some committed defence to survive the opening 10 minutes. Connacht fought back after turning over Toulouse ball and gradually made headway into the French half.The frustration of the home side was evident as they went offside soon after knocking forward in midfield. Parks sized up the posts from halfway and scored with a sweet connection.The visitors grew in confidence after the early score and left French territory with another three points, on 15 minutes, after Parks slotted over a drop goal inside their 22.Jake Heenan and John Muldoon were outstanding for the Irish side in the first-half, with Robbie Henshaw the attacking spark in the backline.French pressure looked to have paid off in the final 10 minutes of the half as Barraque lined up a penalty. He missed and Connacht needed Parks’ superb tap tackle to deny Florian Fritz a try moments later.Toulouse were rewarded for their relentless attacking surges as Barraque got over for a try in the 39th minute. As the clock ticked red, Barraque converted his try and the French side led for the first time in the game.Kieran Marmion was superb for Connacht. INPHO/Billy SticklandParks put Connacht ahead with a penalty after the break and Henshaw showed great strength and awareness to set up Carr, who dived over in the corner. It looked like a core but he had been held up. Luckily, Marmion was on hand to burrow over and get the ball down at the next ruck.Henshaw was denied a score of his own when the video referee harshly called back play and the scene was set for a tense finish when Toulouse captain Thierry Dusautoir got over for a try and Lionel Beauxis converted it.Marmion was named man-of-the-match with a minute of play left but greater news was to follow. Connacht held on and recorded the greatest win in the province’s history.– First posted at 15:50Like rugby? Follow TheScore.ie’s dedicated Twitter account @rugby_ie >VIDEO: Watch Brian O’Driscoll’s magical between the legs passAs it happened: Munster v Perpignan, Heineken Cuplast_img read more

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Column Yes State legal spending is significant – but its an investment

first_imgFIGURES REVEALED YESTERDAY show that about €40 million has been paid out to barristers in private practice by the Attorney General’s office in order to ensure that the State is properly defended in proceedings issued against it.Ensuing comment has inevitably been about the small number of barristers who have profited with very substantial fees. But the figures are also noteworthy for indicating the price that we pay for a system that upholds the rule of law. We should remember that in addition to the fees mentioned, the State also pays staff in its Attorney General’s office and the office of its Chief State Solicitor to instruct those barristers.As the Irish Times article points out, the State also pays substantial sums to the Director of Public Prosecutions and her staff and to the barristers appointed by them. In addition, the HSE also instructs solicitors and barristers and pays money to them. Added to that, Gardaí are paid for prosecuting in court.Maintaining our democratic legal systemAll of this money, paid out year after year, is the cost to the State of maintaining a legal system where it can prosecute wrongdoing and defend itself where it is accused of wrongdoing. Even though legal fees to solicitors and barristers have shrunk since the economic crisis started, the amount paid by the State for the protection of its citizens and for its own protection is very substantial indeed.This is the case in every state all over the world. Each state pays for a defence of its system and the enforcement of its laws. What distinguishes a democracy from other systems is whether there is a fair balance between the might of the state – which has very substantial legal resources at its disposal – and the capacity of citizens of that state to defend prosecutions against them or to challenge the state where wrongs have been done to them. It is important – even for well-protected and law abiding citizens, who hope never to interact with the state as prosecutor or defendant – that a system exists to ensure that their voices are capable of being heard if the need ever arises to raise them. The absence of such a system gives rise to fears of abuse of power by the powerful in the state.Legal aidThis, then, is at the heart of our legal aid system. Legal aid exists to give a voice to those who need help to mount a proper defence against serious charges by the state or other individuals, or to try to right a wrong. As a non-governmental organisation which seeks to promote the equal right of access to justice of all people, FLAC has repeatedly raised the alarm when we have seen our system failing, particularly in areas of legal aid outside of the criminal courts. FLAC’s own legal assistance system – in which volunteer lawyers run legal clinics in partnership with Citizens Information Centres or other resource centres – allows people to get basic first-stop legal advice quickly and for free. However it is not, and was never meant to be, a substitute for a properly resourced legal aid system where people can get the advice and assistance they need to have their voices heard and get legal redress.The state system which does provide such legal aid for non-criminal matters, principally through the Legal Aid Board, depends on a network of small legal offices, one per county at most outside Dublin and Cork, with some counties having no office at all. In recognition of its importance, the budget of the Legal Aid Board has been maintained over the past four years; however, it did take a serious cut at the start of the recession, and the fact is that a lot more people need help on that unchanging budget.The Board is therefore extremely stretched despite the best efforts of its staff and long waiting lists have developed leading to frustration, court delays and genuine suffering. The delays and limitations of that system also risk undermining the basic rationale for legal aid – that access to justice be available on an equal basis to those who need it.Accessing the law more fairlyRumour has it that the Legal Services Regulation Bill is due back for further discussion by the Oireachtas shortly. The last incarnation had much to say about how to calculate legal costs and regulate the legal profession. It introduced the problematic concept of cross-profession partnerships which seems to have given rise to heated Cabinet discussions. It had little to say, however, about reform of access to legal services to advance the human right and democratic principle of access to justice.Any reform that fails to address how people lacking sufficient financial or other resources can access the law more fairly would be a great shame and a wasted opportunity. In times when the national agenda is dominated by harsh macro-economic policies, those in power need to remember and cherish the democratic principles that permit them to be there. Let democracy underpin the reform of legal services – and the provision of legal aid too.Noeline Blackwell is Director General of FLAC. Prior to this role, she worked in general practice as a solicitor, with a particular interest in family law and in human rights law in general, refugee law in particular. She is a former chairperson of the Law Society’s Human Rights Committee and of the Irish section of Amnesty International. Noeline is a trustee of Front Line, the Dublin-based international foundation for human rights defenders at risk, and sits on the boards of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, the Irish Refugee Council and the Citizens Information Board.Read: NAMA paid out over €143m in consultant fees since 2009Read: €17.7m paid out to victims of rogue solicitors in 5 yearslast_img read more

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Family law and child care court cases can now be reported but

first_imgIt will be strictly prohibited to report any information likely to identify the parties to the proceedings or any child to whom the proceedings relate.Reporting of cases will still be restricted in certain circumstances.In 2012: Reporting to be allowed on family law and child care court cases >Read: Conversation between two judges on family law case had ‘no effect’ on ruling > THE MEDIA CAN now report on proceedings in family law and child care court cases from today after two Acts were signed into law.The changes to the in camera rule came into effect ahead of the start of the new legal term today, and mean that cases can be covered in the media as long as it is not “likely to lead members of the public to identify a party to the proceedings or a child to whom the proceedings relate.”Breaching this rule will result in a fine of as much as €50,000, or up to 3 years imprisonment.Previously, these cases were held in private, with no members of the public allowed to enter the courtroom.Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said that these changes are “in the public interest”, and will allow a greater insight into the workings of the court. He said that it will also be of benefit to judiciary and legal professionals.“However, the public’s right to know has to be balanced with a family’s right to privacy,” he said.last_img read more

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Man arrested in €200000 Clare drug raid

first_imgGARDA IN CLARE have arrested a man in his 30s in connection with a €200,000 drugs seizure.In a planned operation, gardaí from Ennis searched a house at Kilvoyden, Spancill Hill at about 10pm last night. During the course of the search, cannabis herb with a street value of €200,00 was discovered.A man in his 30s was arrested at the scene and is currently detained at Ennis Garda Station where he can be held for up to seven days.The scene remains preserved and a technical examination of the area will take place later today.Read: Woman due in court over €150,000 drug seizure>Read: Four arrested in €360,000 Donegal drug bust>last_img read more

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New database will reveal exactly how much rent your neighbours pay

first_imgTHE PRIVATE RESIDENTIAL Tenancies Board has launched a national rent index that reveals the actual rents being paid for houses and apartments across the country as opposed to the amount of rent being asked.The Economic and Social Research Institute has compiled the database based on the PRTB’s own register of over 277,000 tenancies throughout the country.It will provide real rent details for five different categories of dwellings with a micro level breakdown by county, postcode and townsland and by the number of bedrooms for each dwelling types.The director of the PRTB, Anne Marie Caulfield, said it would take “the speculation and surmise out of renting”.Rents riseThe PRTB also found there was an increase in rents nationally but a fall in Dublin rents.Compared with Q1 2012, there has been a 2 per cent increase in national rents – a 2.3 per cent increase in Dublin rents and a 0.8 per cent increase in rents for outside Dublin. However, rents in Dublin fell in the first quarter of 2013, down by 1.9 per cent, when compared with the final quarter of 2012. Outside Dublin rents grew by 1.7 per cent, having fallen in the fourth quarter of 2012.The index was officially launched today by the Minister for Housing and Planning, Jan O’Sullivan, who welcomed it pointing out that 20 per cent of households now live in the private rented sector.People can log on free of charge to check rent levels for different locations, and dwelling types.Read: Revenue “happy” with property tax payments after deadline passes>More: This map shows you why rent is rising in Dublin more than anywhere else>last_img read more

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Students protest over delayed opening of €27m Kildare school

first_imgUP TO 200 students and parents are expected to gather outside a €2.7 million Kildare school this morning to protest against the delay of its opening – 18 months after it was completed.St Anne’s national school in Ardclough, Kildare was “completed” in December 2011 but remains vacant. Meanwhile, 250 pupils and 18 staff are continuing to use “overcrowded prefabs clustered around a 1949 building”, protest organisers say.After the announced completion of the school in December 2011, the facility failed a health and safety inspection by the authorities. The Department of Education subsequently identified the problems, which did not involve a major infrastructure investment, and announced that it would appoint a builder to rectify them. The school is otherwise complete but, as of April 2013, remains empty.Meanwhile, the building is reportedly running up heat, lighting, maintenance and security bills.Protesting students and parents have created their own ‘whiteboards’ bearing the sentence “I want my school to open because…”, with 384 reasons cited so far. Mary, 7, says she wants the new school to open because she is “tired of sharing my classroom with furry friends (mice) (another one)”. Tom, 8, wants the new school because he doesn’t like “having a puddle in my class every time it rains”.Parent Leeann Matthews, commented: “It is appalling that this facility remains closed. If a builder doesn’t commence work on the new school within weeks it will not be ready for the new school term in September 2013”.It is hoped that the protest, due to take place this morning at 9am, will encourage the Department of Education to expedite the final step of completion of the facility.last_img read more

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Open thread What are you doing instead of going to the Garth

first_imgGARTH BROOKS WAS supposed to be playing five dates in Dublin’s Croke Park this week.We all know that that didn’t go to plan…But hey. Chin up. There are LOTS of things happening this weekend.You might even be arranging your own shindig.Holding a Garth tribute? Heading to Dublin anyway to have a bit of craic? Or trying to forget about it all?Let us know what you’re doing in the comments below.last_img

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Facebook Bug Deletes Accounts Zuckerberg Apologizes

first_imgFacebook chief Mark Zuckerberg apologized this week at theWeb 2.0 conference in San Franciscofor a bug that deleted an undisclosed number of accounts over false allegationsof terms of service violations.“I apologize to those users for that bug,” Zuckerbergtold the crowd. “It was not related to [Facebook’s new Messages service].I think we were able to get them back on the site.” The social network’sfounder didn’t disclose the number of accounts that were affected.For Zuckerberg, the apology was merely footnote to adiscussion about the new messaging service Facebook hopes will take the placeof Webmail services like Gmail and Yahoo Mail for the social network’s youngerdemographic.last_img read more

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Man flies with loaded gun in carryon laptop bag airport security missed

first_imgIn order to prevent further events such as 9/11, someone walking on to a plane with bombs in their shoes, or smuggling weapons on to an aircraft, stringent airport security checks have been imposed across the U.S. and at many international airports. One of the most controversial checks recently introduced is the full-body scanner, meant to identify any weapons or bomb parts hidden under clothing.While these checks are meant to identify any threats, as well as making us feel safer, it has been shown that they aren’t working.Farid Seif, a businessman from Houston, regularly carries around a loaded .40 caliber glock with him for protection. But when he was set to travel from Bush Intercontinental Airport last Christmas he forgot to remove the gun from his carry-on laptop bag. You’d expect the airport security screeners to pick this up, but they didn’t, and Farid flew with the loaded gun in his bag at his feet.When he got to his destination Farid realized the gun was in his bag and reported it to the airport. He couldn’t believe it was missed as it was the only thing in the bag. Federal authorities have also stated that this is quite a common occurrence, and that the main cause seems to be human error with screeners simply missing the weapon as it slides by on their display. In fact, up to 70% of tests done at certain airports failed to identify such items.Read more at ABC13.comMatthew’s OpinionYou have to wonder what the point of all these checks are when a security operative not paying attention can miss something so obvious as a gun in a laptop bag. What this screams to me is that the screeners are either not being trained correctly, or the way in which they work is not effective.Staring at a display for a few hours is going to become tedious and you will miss things. I don’t know how the TSA manages switching staff, but hopefully you have a number of screeners that switch every 30 minutes or hourly to stop fatigue setting in. There may also be a need for a second screener watching the work of the first as an added backup.This also highlights a need for more advanced scanning equipment which allows a system to identify suspect shapes and alert the operative to them. An alarm or flashing on-screen highlight would surely wake a person up and get them to check more thoroughly.last_img read more

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Pelican tech might give future iPhones slimmer better 3D cameras

first_imgWould you like a better camera in your smartphone? With existing technology, there’s not a lot that can be done: a postage stamp sized sensor just isn’t going to be very sensitive to light, especially without a decent, high-quality lens. But California startup Pelican Imagining has an innovative idea on how they can change all of that: instead of using just a single lens and a sensor, their camera uses an array of smaller modules united with a computational algorithm to combine those sensors’ data into a single image.AdChoices广告The Pelican array camera uses a process called light-field photography to achieve its effect while maintaining an extremely thin sensor, but there’s more to light-field photography than just stitching a bunch of smaller images together. Some of this functionality is terribly neat. For example, you could take a photo of a tree and then, after the photo was taken, you could change the image’s depth of field, blurring a background or putting a subject into sharp focus. This might be the first type of camera where you can adjust lens settings after you snap the shot.In addition, Pelican’s camera tech is promising to give high resolution images with low ISO results even in low-light situations. Pelican also says that thanks to the way the Pelican array can be used to measure 3D motions, the tech could also be used to enable gesture-controls on tablets.This is very neat stuff, but it won’t matter unless a handset maker puts it into an actual product. We’re hopeful that they will, sooner rather than later, because this is terribly neat and could finally save us from the hegemony of crappy cameraphone pics.Read more at Pelican (Via Gadget Lab]last_img read more

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DoubleTwist adds AirPlay support beats Google to NFC sharing

first_imgWhile the new Google Music app for Android is a nice enough upgrade, it still lacks some of the cool features competing apps like Winamp and DoubleTwist offer. Probably not too coincidentally, the crew at DoubleTwist has just released an update for its Android app and two very cool new features have been baked in.No, they’re not anything cloud-related like the Google Music update. Instead, DoubleTwist has introduced AirPlay support and wicked-cool NFC file sharing. TwistTo expands on the app’s existing ability to push content to Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles by adding support for DLNA-ready TVs and Apple TV.AdChoices广告Streaming content from your Android device is certainly a good thing to be able to do, but DoubleTap (not to be confused with one of the tenets of zombie apocalypse survival) is the super-geeky icing on the cake. If you own a Samsung Galaxy S or another Android device with NFC hardware under the hood, you can now place your device within range of a friend’s to share songs via Bluetooth. Those of you who, like me, aren’t using a cutting-edge handset will have to satisfy your curiosity with the demo video below for now.NFC sharing obviously raises some piracy concerns, though it’s really no different than functionality provided by dozens of other Android apps. Still, music industry suits don’t generally approve of anything which makes passing content from one user to another any easier than it already is.It’s also worth noting that Google did announce that NFC sharing would be coming in Android 3.1, but why wait? For five bucks you can DoubleTap right now, and you’ll get all of DoubleTwist’s other slick features as a bonus.You can find the new DoubleTwist app in the Android Marketlast_img read more

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30 years of the music industry in 30 seconds

first_imgThe music industry has changed drastically over the past 30 years. The various music formats–from vinyl records, to 8-track, to cassette, to CD, and then to digital downloads–show a number of transitions over the past three decades. The wax and wane of these formats is shown in a rather interesting pie chart from Digital Music News. The animated pie chart maps each format between the years of 1980 to 2010 based on RIAA revenue figures. The chart is perhaps the best way possible to represent what’s going on in the music industry in 30 seconds or less.As you can see, the LP/EP held almost 60 percent of sales in 1980 with cassette at 19 percent and 8-track at 14 percent. It wasn’t until 1983 when the cassette surpassed vinyl with a 48 percent share compared to viynl’s 45 percent. The CD made its first appearance in 1984 with 2.4 percent of revenue, while cassettes kept on the rise with 55 percent.It wasn’t until 1990 that the CD (shown in red on the graph) came close to eclipsing sales of cassettes. CDs in 1990 held 45.8 percent of the revenue whereas cassettes had dropped to 46 percent. Of course, from there on out, CDs reigned supreme taking 49.1 percent of the market in 2010. The biggest chunk of the other near-51 percent came from downloads. As downloading music becomes more and more common, we’re sure 2011’s numbers will be even more drastic than that of 2010’s.That said, you have to take this graph with a grain of salt since it does misrepresent the role of digital music. The graph is based on revenue and a large amount of music downloads are done illegally. BitTorrent sites are very popular, and it’s not unusual for people to just download an entire album without paying. Listeners claim they’re doing the “try before you buy” thing, but many never end up buying the album.Though it may be a bit skewed, it’s definitely interesting to see the way CDs build up over the years and then begin to die back down starting in 2002 when digital music started becoming more popular. Also, as the 1980 to 2010 comparison pictured above shows, the LP/EP makes up almost 60 percent in 1980 but only a sliver at 1.3 percent in 2010. Is the CD destined for the same fate? Right now it’s still at 49 percent, but will the CD be at 1 percent within the next 10 or 20 years?In a few years, we’ll most likely need a similar graph for publishing, since books, magazines, and newspapers are increasingly going online. With everyone carrying around Kindles or iPads these days, people are reading their news on the go and consuming those bestsellers in purely digital form.via Digital Music Newslast_img read more

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You can rent a RED Epic camera for 1600 a day

first_imgIf you’ve been following the video camera market for the past few years then you’ve almost certainly heard of the RED Epic camera. The Epic handles both digital video and still images and is one of the most respected cameras in the business. Unfortunately this kind of quality costs a pretty penny, or, more accurately, 5.8 million pretty pennies. Yep, the RED Epic-M package — complete with the Epic-M brain, Bomb EVF, 5-inch LCD, and more — sells for $58,000.Of course, you don’t necessarily need to buy the RED Epic to get your hands on it, you can always rent. Borrow Lenses, purveyors of all sorts of fine camera equipment, are offering up the Epic-M kit at $1600 a day. Or you can rent it out for up to a month for $17500, if you have an extended project that needs to be tackled.Speaking of projects, check out the video below. That’s the sort of thing the Epic is capable of, which is to say “extremely impressive”. Of course you won’t be able to shoot video just because you laid out the cash to rent the kit, but you can’t exactly shoot video like that without it either.The Epic-M shoots video at up to 5K resolution, with high speeds shooting ranging up to 200 fps at 2K or 150 fps at 5K. The rental package for this impressive rig doesn’t just include the camera body and the odd lens, you also get gear like a 1.8-inch 128GB SSD storage device and a proprietary camera remote, plus you get a case to put it all in. Ultimately it’s a lot of money, but you get some very cool toys to play with.Borrow Lenses also has a number of compatible lenses you can rent to use with the Epic kit. Any of the PL mount Zeiss lenses they have in stock should work, such as the Zeiss Compact Prime CP.2 25mm cinema lens. And some good news: these go for only $99 a day.More at Borrow Lenseslast_img read more

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Jury says Googles Android does not infringe Oracle patents

first_imgThe Oracle v. Google trial has come to an abrupt end with the jury finding that Google did not infringe on Oracle’s Java patents when it developed Android’s Dalvik virtual machine. Because the majority of the copyright phase of the case also went to Google, the jury won’t even have to stick around to decide on damages. Google is the big winner today, but Oracle is still pledging to “defend and uphold” Java.The final decision in the case was unanimous. The jury found that Google did not infringe on either of Oracle’s Java patents, essentially letting Google off the hook. In a patent case, the party claiming infringement has to prove that the defendant copied the technology or method described in the filing. In this instance, the jury was not convinced that Google’s Java implementation was sufficiently similar to be infringing. In fact, there was only one person on the jury that initially sided with Oracle.The last phase ended with perfunctory reports that Google had lost in some significant way, or that Android was doomed. But when the smoke cleared, everyone realized how lucky Google had gotten. The judge still needs to decide if APIs can be copyrighted, which is the only count Google lost in phase one. If the judge decides they are not, then it becomes much harder for Oracle to continue on.We have also learned that the jury responded very favorably to the fair use argument that saved Google from most of the claims in the copyright phase. The split in that round was 9 to 3 in Google’s favor. Oracle is likely to seek an appeal, but even if it gets another shot, the information coming from jurors makes it clear that Oracle’s arguments were not even close to convincing.Oracle might still end up with some kind of payout in the future, depending on how judge Aslup decides on the remaining issues. There might even need to be another jury to decide on damages later, but right now, Oracle has won essentially nothing.via Groklawlast_img read more

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The agony and the ecstasy of New Super Mario Bros 2

first_imgNew Super Mario Bros. 2, which was recently released for the Nintendo 3DS, is a brief, but inescapably accurate portrayal of everything that works and does not work with the 3DS. On the surface it’s YAMG (yet another Mario game) and it stays remarkably true to the formula.Since the 1988 release Super Mario Bros. 3, Nintendo has known exactly what gamers want from a 2D Mario game — the raccoon suit, the fire flower, bricks you smash by jumping, and a few swimming levels. The company has done an incredible job at keeping this formula interesting through many different iterations and platforms, but ultimately they know what people expect, and just how far things should be pushed before the natives get restless. The team also knows just what concoction brews up the secret sauce: that perfect Mario jump, the ideal degree of difficulty for all members of the family, and exactly how to introduce players to new perks and mechanics.Depending on your perspective this can be a good or bad thing. After all, Nintendo has managed to innovate without reinventing, to modernize without displacing our nostalgia, and to attract new players without losing the long-time fans. Depending on your perspective, this could be the sign of a company that doesn’t want to kill the golden goose or one that’s too complacent to survive in an ever-changing industry that thrives on creative destruction.One of the important aspects of a franchise that holds so many things constant is that the smallest changes can feel ever so important. While playing New Super Mario Bros. 2 I’ve been downright gleeful every time I get the gold flower, which turns Mario into a veritable King Midas. I’ve also been suspiciously eying the persistent coin counter, which gives me a virtual pat on the back every time I collect 1,000 new coins, reminding me both of the hard work I’ve done collecting them and the additional hours of my life that I’ve invested in jumping Mario into the same bricks and over the same koopa troopas.One of the most lackluster aspects of the otherwise extremely polished game is the 3D. This isn’t anything new for 3DS owners: the 3D perspective is unnecessary, uncomfortable and, unlike Super Mario 3D LandC$27.99 at Amazon, there are no times when 3D viewing is required to unlock a puzzle. I was able to play through long stretches of the game just as if I was still on my trusty DS Lite, having totally forgotten that 3D was even available.Not surprisingly, New Super Mario Bros. 2 is another fine addition to the franchise. The game has a new gold-obsessed Coin Rush mode, Mega (think 50-foot-tall) Mario is shockingly amusing the first time you get the power-up, and the game is still perfectly balanced. Like the other recent games, coins and lives are thrown at you with such reckless abandon that they lose all meaning. The stages are all ones we’ve seen before, and the game will not hesitate to pat you on the head and hold your hand if you have problems. Perhaps this biggest change with this release was that this game was not delivered to me as a cartridge, but as a download through the 3DS eShop.So yes, New Super Mario Bros. 2 is exactly what it sounds like, and the problems with both Nintendo and the 3DS remain unaddressed.last_img read more

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Microsoft and publishers will take a cut of every Xbox One used

first_imgMicrosoft has decided that with the launch of the Xbox One it is going to take control of the used game market and have it generate revenue for itself and publishers. And in the process it’s going to upset gamers and severely limit the amount of money retailers can make on a used game sale.Until now, a consumer could take a game they owned into a store and the retailer would buy it at a price they determined. The retailer could then resell the game at a price they also determined and any profit made would stay with the retailer.Microsoft is thought to be modifying that process for Xbox One games to ensure it also generates cash from every used game sale. Here’s how the new system will work:If a retailer wants to handle used Xbox One games they must install and use Microsoft’s own Azure-based used game retail system.A consumer can bring their Xbox One game in store and sell it to a retailer and receive cash or credit in return.That sold game is then wiped from the seller’s Xbox One Live profile and can be resold, with the retailer deciding on what price to resell it at (within limits, which are discussed below).The money generated from that used game sale will then be split between the retailer, the publisher of the game, and Microsoft itself. The percentage split will be determined by Microsoft.The used game trading system effectively stays exactly the same for the consumer. They can continue to sell their games and buy new used games as they always have. The biggest change is for the retailer, who will now earn significantly less from every used game sale.There are two bits of very bad news for Xbox One owners in all of this, though. First of all, this pretty much confirms that your Xbox One will need to connect to the Internet regularly, and probably once every 24 hours as has already been suggested. The second bit of bad news is about used game pricing.As Microsoft will be in control of used games for its console, it will also have control over what retailers can do with pricing. Apparently, Microsoft wants used games to sell at no lower than 90% of the new game price. So the new copy will be $60 and the used copy $56.One of the major reasons used games have become so popular is because they allow you to pick up games at a significantly lower price point. If Microsoft do impose the 90% price rule, they could effectively kill the used game market while claiming they support it.The only winners in this are the publishers and Microsoft. Used games will now generate revenue for them, while retailers are the biggest losers. I’d actually be more accepting of this system if it meant new Xbox One games were $30 instead of $60, but you can guarantee that isn’t going to happen and we’ll all be forced to pay full, or near full price for our games.Sony is also potentially a big winner from this move if it has chosen to allow the used games market to carry on in its current form for the PS4. If that’s the case, you’ll see many more retailers stocking PS4 games than Xbox One later this year.We won’t know for sure if this is exactly how Microsoft’s used game system will work until they decide to tell us officially. As usual, Microsoft isn’t commenting on rumors and we may be left waiting until E3, or even closer to launch to know the state of used games on Xbox One.last_img read more

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