Apple Pay is coming to Starbucks, Apple exec says
HALF MOON BAY, California — You'll soon be able to buy your Starbucks latte with your Apple Watch, as well as your KFC chicken and Chili's Southwestern egg rolls. Apple Pay, Apple's mobile payments service, will be coming to Starbucks over the next …
Apple Pay to Expand to Starbucks Stores, KFC and Chili's
Apple Pay coming to Starbucks, KFC, Chili's in 2016
Apple Pay Coming to Starbucks, KFC, and Chili's in 2016
A rep for LCD Soundsystem‘s label wrote a series of scathing tweets refuting rumors that the group was eyeing a 2016 reunion, after reports surfaced online suggesting it was a possibility. “Hey idiots, LCD Soundsystem isn’t reuniting,” DFA Records label manager Kris Petersen wrote. “They’re dead, along with your good looks and cultural relevance.” DFA cofounder Jonathan Galkin also denied the rumors to Pitchfork.
The source of the rumors was music website Consequence of Sound, citing anonymous “multiple sources” as confirming that the group intended to perform “at least three high-profile music festivals” in the U.S. and U.K. Billboard subsequently published its own article with confirmation coming from another anonymous “well-placed source.”
In his Twitter tirade, Petersen called Consequence of Sound’s “multiple sources” “some fucking knobs on the Coachella message board.” He also submitted a statement to Vulture. “LCD Soundsystem is not reuniting at Coachella next year,” he wrote. “I’m sure some festivals have offered the group a giant tempting pile of money, but there is no truth to this. Can we all just move on with our fucking lives?”
While a rep for the band declined to comment, a rep for DFA Records tells Rolling Stone, “‘This office has no knowledge at all of any reunion.” A rep for Monotone, Murphy’s management company also tells Rolling Stone, “We have no knowledge of any reunion.”
LCD Soundsystem played their final concert in April 2011 at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Last spring, they put out a five-LP box set of the entire, nearly four-hour concert titled The Long Goodbye. The band also set up a “Long Goodbye” exhibit at Brooklyn record store Rough Trade, which included the album playing in full and photographs of the group.
Since the group disbanded, main man James Murphy has found many interesting ways to keep busy. He remixed computer-generated music made from tennis matches, recorded a chill song for a Noah Baumbach movie, covered David Bowie, opened a wine bar and began campaigning for a chance to refigure the way the New York City subway system sounds.
When Rolling Stone asked Murphy in June 2014 if he ever wondered whether or not it was a mistake to end LCD Soundsystem, he said no. “It felt pretty good,” he said of bidding farewell to the band. “But that doesn’t mean that I don’t miss it. There are times when I miss it a lot.”
Eminem continued Paper magazine’s three-part tribute to late hip-hop greats with an ode to the musical versatility and emotional depth of Tupac: “He was taking things further than a lot of rappers at the time — pushing it to the next level as far as giving feeling to his words and his music,” said Eminem. “A lot of people say, ‘You feel Pac,’ and it’s absolutely true.”
Eminem writes he was 18 or 19 when he first heard Tupac rapping on Digital Underground’s “I Get Around.” He picked up a copy of Tupac’s first LP, 2Pacalypse Now, soon after and years later, he said he would still pit 1995’s Me Against the World against any other classic hip-hop record.
The rapper goes on to praise Tupac’s intricate understanding not just of his own lyrics, but where to place them in the context of a beat or a chord change, “to make them jump off track and make you feel what he was saying.” His ability to do this while tapping into such a wide array of emotions was especially important to Eminem as a budding MC.
“He covered such a broad perspective and there were so many different sides to him, but the best part about him overall was that he was a human being,” Eminem added. “He would let you see that. I used to be fascinated with his interviews like, ‘Yo, what he’s saying is so true.’ He would also be able to trump people who were interviewing him when they would hit him with hard questions — it was incredible. He was a superstar in every aspect of the word.”
Eminem’s relationship with Tupac’s music grew even more personal when the late rapper’s mother, Afeni Shakur, granted him permission to produce Pac’s fifth posthumous album, Loyal to the Game.
“You wouldn’t be able to tell the 18/19-year-old Marshall that he would ever be able to get his hands on some Tupac vocals and have that opportunity,” Eminem said. “It was such a significant piece of history for me and so much fun. I’m like a kid in a candy store; going nuts with the fact that I’m putting beats under his rhymes. Regardless of how good a rapper someone is, it’s easy for things to eventually get dated. But when you make songs like Tupac did, songs that feel like something, that feeling never goes away.”
Eminem’s Tupac tribute follows Kendrick Lamar’s paean to Eazy-E. Swizz Beatz will close out the series with a piece about Notorious B.I.G.
Read the whole tribute at Paper.
Utah doctor, using blood from local pachyderms, discovers why elephants rarely …
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Apple Says Battery Performance Of New iPhones' A9 Chips Vary Only 2-3%
Apple has addressed the spate of chatter about differences in performance between A9 chips used in its new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. We've known for a while that some A9 chips were produced by TSMC and others by Samsung, a longtime Apple silicon …
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DJI launches Osmo, an iPhone-connected 4K steadicam for $650
DJI on Thursday unveiled the Osmo, an integrated 4K camera and handheld three-axis stabilizer that connects to Apple's iPhone for even greater control and capabilities. The DJI Osmo uses the company's three-axis gimbal stabilization technology found on …
DJI Osmo helps you get a grip on shaky video (hands-on)
The company behind the world's most popular drone just built the ultimate …
The DJI Osmo is a Handheld 12MP/4K Camera with a Brushless Gimbal
Wall Street Journal
Netflix Raises Price for New Users by $1 a Month
Wall Street Journal
Netflix Inc. NFLX 5.74 % raised the price of its most popular streaming plan in the U.S. by $1 for new customers as it ramps up investment in original shows and movies. Netflix said its “standard” plan that allows for two simultaneous streams will now …
Netflix Raises Subscription Price
Netflix shares up on subscription price hike
Netflix hikes price of its most popular service by $1
New York Times
Scientists Sequence First Ancient Human Genome From Africa
New York Times
A team of scientists reported on Thursday that they had recovered the genome from a 4,500-year-old human skeleton in Ethiopia — the first time a complete assemblage of DNA has been retrieved from an ancient human in Africa. The DNA of the Ethiopian …
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Ancient genome from Africa sequenced for the first time
In a recent dig at Apple Music, Google’s Eric Schmidt spoke out against human curated playlists, instead praising the idea of an artificially intelligent “tastemaker” service, designed to find the “next next big thing.” But can A.I. truly hope to compete with the personalized touch of human curation?
Guest Post by Jim McDermott on Medium
“In the next generation of software, machine learning won’t just be an add-on that improves performance a few percentage points; it will really replace traditional approaches. To give just one example: a decade ago, to launch a digital music service, you probably would have enlisted a handful of elite tastemakers to pick the hottest new music.
Today, you’re much better off building a smart system that can learn from the real world — what actual listeners are most likely to like next — and help you predict who and where the next Adele might be. As a bonus, it’s a much less elitist taste-making process — much more democratic — allowing everyone to discover the next big star through our own collective tastes and not through the individual preferences of a select few.”
I was a bit surprised to read him gobbing off about the future of online music services, seeing how Google’s own entry in the space, Google Play, is devoid of personality and not exactly setting the world on fire. And YouTube, a Google subsidiary, is rife with music illegally uploaded by users, while Google profits from ads served to the eyeballs viewing this infringing content. People in glass houses…..
Is there anything more elitist than saying humanity isn’t as good as an artificial construct? My dystopian nightmare is not one where androids dream of electric sheep, it’s one where people like Eric Schmidt create a machine to tell me what music I will listen to.
Schmidt’s comments are disturbing to me because streaming music is the present and future of music consumption. We’ve got 20 years of history with digital music behind us, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard some tech company CEO talk about how data systems were going to obsolesce human components in the music value chain. And usually the first people they suggest getting rid of is anyone who actually knows anything about music. “We’ve got a database that can do that!” they say. So no change here then.
Sure, there’s a place for recommendation engines and database driven playlists in music. Not everyone likes French Press, that’s why there’s drip coffee. I personally prefer a richer taste in my music, which is why I’ve never been satisfied by streaming music services. Until recently.
In contrast to Schmidt’s comments, I think Apple Music is delivering a better listening experience because they have focused on human curation. While the interface of Apple Music is ponderous and unwieldy, the human-curated playlists are clever and entertaining. The song selections are often obscure, clearly chosen for narrative flow, not by play count or ranking. I was told (by someone who’d know) that Apple spent a lot of time on their curated playlists, considering curation one of the keys to their success. They’ve had music “elitists” on staff since the beginning of the iTunes Music Store.
It takes a true fan of an artist or genre to “curate” well, to bring the listener on a voyage of discovery. Someone who truly lives the music can create a richer listening experience than a playlist created via data points. There is an emotional component in music and the arts in general that a database doesn’t get. Of course Schmidt’s point is that A.I. will eventually develop this emotional understanding, and data systems will save us from the scourge of elitists like John Peel or Alan Lomax.
How do these “elite tastemakers” Schmidt slights develop their emotional understanding, their connection to this music? Usually, via a lifetime of individual musical moments, imprinted directly on the soul. Afternoons spent lying on the carpet listening to haunted, crackling voices on a blues LP; or Saturday nights standing spot-faced in basement clubs watching dangerous punks play angry music to lost youths. Maybe it was after school, digging through indie record shop bins for rare dubplates, or DJing a 2am college radio show. They got close to the music, felt it, lived it. Very few of us do that and make a life of it. Fewer still are able to turn that experience into a commodity.
Beats 1’s Zane Lowe, Julie Adenuga and Ebro Darden [photo: Apple/Instagram]
Curation is, in a sense, a form of teaching. In my musical life, I’ve met many special people who have a deep understanding of the music they love. Their empathy goes beyond the songs, into the history, the influences and connections between artists and genres, the visual components and the craft. They are musicians, artist managers, radio programmers, DJ’s, A&R people, record store employees, venue managers, writers, directors, instrument makers. I always come away from interactions with these people with hastily scrawled lists of records and books I need to buy, films I need to see. Even though I myself know much about music, they provide illumination and enrichment. They are all curators, and time spent with any of them makes it clear they cannot be replaced by any artificial construct.
Another important point is this: great music pushes and challenges the status quo. New genres often appear as a reaction to social conditions (think punk and rap) and often are initially disparaged by the mainstream. This music is born like a virus and spread by small groups of passionate people until it is popularized. Everything about these genres contradicts the concept of “what actual listeners are most likely to like next.” And this is true not just in music, but in many other forms of art (for example, the public’s initially hostile reactions to Impressionism, Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, etc). Mainstream society has shown throughout history that although they think they know what they’ll like, they really don’t. They need people at the bleeding edges of creativity to show the way. Would Schmidt’s democratic taste-making process have chosen to elevate the Sex Pistols? Not likely.
The most meaningful art has NEVER been created via a democratic process or a popularity contest. It is created via the obsessive creative vision of individuals who often are seeking to destroy the commonplace, the mainstream, the popular. In the music business you learn quickly that if you only give the people what they want when they want it, you will always be behind and eventually become extinct. The most successful people in the music industry don’t ask people what they want now, they give them what they’ll want next. A machine can’t stomp on concrete floors splashed with beer, sweat and blood to figure out what that’s next. A machine has no soul, and that is the essential ingredient of great art.
And you know, I doubt Eric Schmidt’s end game is simply using artificial intelligence to predict who the next Adele will be. I’ll bet he’s longing for an A.I. Adele — music created by the machine itself, using millions of data points and customized to be the exact version of Adele the machine thinks a listener wants. She’ll be synthesized on a data farm with a thousand solar powered servers with zero downtime — no more worries about Adele needing time off for voice polyps, or to have children, or for the dreaded writers block. She’ll always be on, continuously upgraded and producing for the investors, without a drop of soul to pollute her system. Her IPO will be huge.
Again, I’m no luddite, there is value in programming content based on trends in data. But it’s the height of elitism for a billionaire technologist to dismiss wholesale the value of curation by people who know something about music. Our obsession with disruptive technology and the individuals who become ultra-rich because of it isn’t going to end anytime soon. But I believe the pendulum will swing back towards more harmony between humanity and technology. Music isn’t going to get better by taking passion out of the equation.
One last thought for Mr. Schmidt: Before Google goes to work removing human curation from digital music services, perhaps you should instead use AI to remove infringing content from YouTube. If Google’s artificial intelligence can predict who the next Adele will be, it surely should be wise enough to remove illegal uploads of Adele’s music, instead of making copyright owners play an endless game of DMCA Whack-A-Mole.
Netflix raises its price for the second time in 18 months
Netflix has raised the prices of its standard service to $9.99, a one dollar increase from its previous rate. The move comes about a year and a half after a similar hike that increased the fee from $7.99 to $8.99. Netflix had said that current …