Google celebrates Chromecast anniversary with 90 days of free music

Derek Walter Contributor, Greenbot Follow me on Google+

Derek Walter is a freelance technology writer based in Northern California. He is the author of "Learning MIT App Inventor," a hands-on guide to building your own Android apps.
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Google is using the one-year anniversary of its Chromecast to lure more customers to its Play Music All Access streaming service.

Current and new Chromecast owners can get 90 days free and then continue at $10 per month thereafter. The promotion is available only in the U.S. If you are a current Chromecast owner, head the Chromecast offers page. It will then find your Chromecast if it is connected to your WiFi network and generate an offer for you to claim. Unfortunately, the offer does not apply to those who are currently Play Music All Access subscribers.

chromecast dongle Derek Walter

The Chromecast plugs into a TV’s HDMI port and casts content from the Chrome browser or variety of Android and iOS apps.

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How a Netflix subscriber used VPN to thwart Verizon's streaming slowdown

James Careless , TechHive

James Careless has been covering the Internet since the days of 1200 baud modems. His credits include Business Week, KM World, Network World, PCWorld, and Streaming Media.
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It is an accepted network truism that the more hops you add to a signal path, the slower your traffic will be. This should apply to everything, including streaming Netflix over Verizon.

Customer.io CEO and co-founder Colin Nederkoorn certainly thought this was the case. However, when Nederkoorn compared the performance of Netflix streamed directly over Verizon Fios to that same stream over VPN—an experiment he documented on his personal blog to much social media fanfare—he got a shock. The directly-streamed Netflix was far slower than the VPN-connected download, defying that extra hop truism. It’s as if someone revoked Moore’s Law.

The nitty-gritty: Using widely-available free tools, Nederkoorn first measured the download speed of Netflix coming in directly through Verizon Fios, and then through VyprVPN over Verizon.

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Don't panic! Microsoft isn't killing its Video and Music stores

Brad Chacos Senior Writer, PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Brad Chacos spends the days jamming to Spotify, digging through desktop PCs and covering everything from BYOD tablets to DIY tesla coils.
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First, Microsoft axed its video-producing Xbox Entertainment Studios and spun off Nokia's MixRadio streaming radio service as part of its devastating round of layoffs, which will see 18,000 jobs cut over the next year. Then, during Tuesday night's portentous quarterly earnings call with analysts and investors, CEO Satya Nadella dropped this little bomb:

"With our decision to specifically focus on gaming, we expect to close Xbox entertainment studios and streamline our investments in music and video. We will invest in our core console gaming in Xbox live with a view towards the broader PC and mobile opportunity."

The ominous questions started immediately. Is Microsoft going to put its Xbox Video and Xbox Music services out to pasture, too?

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Why Simpsons World will destroy the U.S. but not Canada

Philip Michaels Editor, TechHive Follow me on Google+

Philip has covered the Mac market since 1999, with a focus on the iPhone, iPad and iOS in recent years. In all that time, he has never tested a fart app.
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Earlier this week, we brought you word of Simpsons World, the forthcoming app and website that promises to bring humanity to a standstill with on-demand access to every episodes of The Simpsons along with extensive search and supplemental features.

Think I’m exaggerating about that? Then behold this chilling promo from FXX, the cable channel ushering in our doom, which imagines a world in which we can watch 552 Simpsons episodes whenever we darn well feel like it.

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Amazon adds more free music for Prime subscribers

Jared Newman , TechHive Follow me on Google+

Jared writes for PCWorld and TechHive from his remote outpost in Cincinnati.
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If you felt that Amazon Prime’s free music selection didn’t have enough Skrillex before, your prayers have been answered.

Amazon says it’s adding “hundreds of thousands of songs” to Prime Music, including selections from David Guetta, Kendrick Lamar, Linkin Park, Shakira, Deadmau5 and—for better or worse—Skrillex. The company’s also digging into back catalogs with music from Ella Fitzgerald, Al Green and Miles, among others.

Along with the extra tunes, Amazon’s adding hundreds of playlists such as “Rainy Day Jazz” and “Bass Drops and Fist-Pumps.”

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Netflix raises fees, watches membership rise in second quarter

James Careless , TechHive

James Careless has been covering the Internet since the days of 1200 baud modems. His credits include Business Week, KM World, Network World, PCWorld, and Streaming Media.
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Netflix’s quarterly numbers are in, and they’re looking good. The streaming video service’s paid subscriber base grew to a shade under 48 million users during the second quarter. And Netflix says it’s topped the 50 million mark for total membership.

And Netflix hit that milestone despite its decision to boost fees for new members starting in May. New subscribers now pay $9 a month for a Netflix membership; previously the fee was $8. Either the extra dollar didn’t dissuade people from signing up with Netflix, or it encouraged them to join before the rate hike went into effect. Whatever the reason, paid global membership rose to 47.99 million in the second quarter, up 4 percent from the first three months of 2014. And Netflix projects it to rise another 6 percent during the third quarter.

In its letter to shareholders, though, Netflix touted a different number—that its total subscriber base now tops 50 million when you count free memberships. Total quarterly revenue jumped 25.3 percent during the second quarter to $1.34 billion.

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Simpsons World to provide every Simpsons episode without costing you any d'oh!

Philip Michaels Editor, TechHive Follow me on Google+

Philip has covered the Mac market since 1999, with a focus on the iPhone, iPad and iOS in recent years. In all that time, he has never tested a fart app.
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An episode of South Park from a dozen years ago posits that no matter what plotline or joke or cultural reference you can conceive of, chances are that The Simpsons has already done it. Starting in October, you’ll be able to verify that for yourself any time you want to.

The long-running animated series, which begins its 26th season next fall, is getting its very own app and website where you will be able to watch every Simpsons episode ever created. Simpsons World launches in October and was unveiled Monday by FXX, the cable channel that has bought the rights to reruns of the TV series.

Any time you want to watch any one of The Simpsons’ 552 episodes, just fire up Simpsons World. Episodes will be available to stream on demand, with Simpsons World creators promising that it will be easy sort through the hundreds upon hundreds that make up the show’s back catalog. In fact, according to TV critic Alan Sepinwall’s account of the Simpsons World presentation, search capabilities will be so refined, you’ll be able pinpoint favorite jokes or scenes and share them across social media. If that’s the case, my friends and loved ones should brace themselves for a barrage of quotes from the “Last Exit to Springfield” episode.

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