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Xiph resumes work on Ghost audio codec

The Xiph.Org Foundation, creator of the royalty-free Vorbis audio encoding technology made suddenly relevant by Google's WebM project, is nearing completion of a next-generation codec called CELT and has resumed development of one due after that called Ghost.

"Ghost research was postponed until recently to devote more resources to improving video," said Monty Montgomery, who worked on Vorbis and CELT, in a blog post last week. "Ghost development now resumes where it left off in 2007."

Vorbis, CELT (Constrained Energy Lapped Transform), and Ghost all are audio codecs, meaning that they're designed to … Read more

Boxee Box firmware updated sans Netflix

Boxee has added another streaming service to its set-top box, but it isn't Netflix.

After updating their Boxee Box with new firmware, customers will find movie-streaming service Vudu. To entice folks to try it out, Wal-Mart-owned Vudu is offering a $5.99 credit toward the first rental or purchase of any title to new users.

In addition to tucking in Vudu, Boxee said in a blog post yesterday, the updated firmware delivers better browser performance, improved subtitles, and a slew of other bug fixes to increase the set-top box's stability.

On the Netflix front, Boxee said it's &… Read more

Nudity: There's not an app for that

Links from Thursday's episode of Loaded:

Amazon acquires LoveFilm, the European equivalent of Netflix

Nintendo announces pricing, release date, and game lineup of the upcoming 3DS

Google Voice now allows you to port over your own phone number

Facebook announces an optimized version of the site for non-smartphones

Verizon offers a $200 gift card to customers who have recently purchased a new phone but want to switch to the upcoming Verizon iPhone

T-Mobile launches an app that will prevent you from texting while driving

The Playboy app for iPad is not an app after all. It is Playboy optimized … Read more

Amazon to acquire European equivalent of Netflix

Amazon.com has signed an agreement to acquire Lovefilm, a U.K.-based company that's considered a European equivalent to Netflix.

The online retail giant had owned a minority stake in Lovefilm since 2008 when the latter bought Amazon's DVD rental business, which covered the U.K. and Germany.

Fully acquiring Lovefilm is an interesting move for Amazon. The rental company is essentially Europe's answer to Netflix, offering DVD-by-mail rentals, as well as a streaming service available on PCs, the PlayStation 3, and some HDTVs. Lovefilm, which was founded in 2004, currently operates in the U.K., … Read more

HBO: Netflix must charge more to use our content

Don't hold your breath for the arrival of "The Sopranos" or "Entourage" on Netflix's streaming service.

Citing a "high-placed Time Warner executive," The Hollywood Reporter reported late last week that the only way for Time Warner-owned HBO to offer its content on Netflix's service is if the rental company charges customers $20 per month, rather than the $7.99 it currently charges streaming-only users. At such a price, The Hollywood Reporter's source claims, Netflix would get a "meaningful amount of HBO content."

Jeff Cusson, HBO senior vice president … Read more

Netflix nixes DVD choice from streaming gear, vexes users

Netflix has triggered a slew of customer complaints after revealing that it's taking away the ability to add titles to the DVD queue from streaming devices.

Announced in a blog post yesterday by Jamie Odell, director of product management, the move would mean that people will no longer be able to use the "Add to DVD Queue" feature from their smartphones, set-top boxes, game consoles, and other devices that stream Netflix content. Users will be able to add physical discs to their queue only by going directly to the Netflix Web site on a PC or presumably … Read more

PBS for iPhone streams public-TV shows for free

Last October, PBS took the wraps off an eponymous iPad app, allowing tablet users to stream full episodes of public-television favorites like "American Masters," "Nova," and "MotorWeek." iPhone and iPod users were promised their own version in November, but it never materialized.

Thankfully, PBS for iPhone is finally here. It's missing a few key elements, but it's still a great way to watch great shows on the go--free of charge.

The app is divided into four sections: Previews, Spotlight, Schedules, and Programs. Most of these are self-explanatory; as with the iPad version, the Schedules section provides you with a calendar of current and upcoming programming from your local PBS station.

However, unlike the iPad version, this one lacks both search and bookmark features, which is puzzling.… Read more

CES: Looxcie adds live video streaming from headset to smartphones

LAS VEGAS--When Looxcie, the wearable video recorder, came out last year, we thought it was a bit over the top: "The completely awkward-looking earpiece/camcorder fits the bill for William Gibson-style folk who fear ever missing a moment of reality that can't be recorded."

Now, at CES this week, the folks behind Looxcie say that they will take things even further when, in the first half of 2011, they release LooxcieLive, the first wearable live video streaming from Looxcie headsets to iPhones and Android phones.

Yes, it is now so easy to share our lives with those … Read more

CES: BitTorrent plans torrenting ecosystem, hardware partnerships

LAS VEGAS--The grandpappy of the torrenting world, BitTorrent, announced yesterday at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show that it will bolster its torrent-managing software later this year with search and playback features. Similar to competitors such as Vuze and Miro, the ecosystem comes as part of the development of Project Chrysalis, an effort to give BitTorrent a more robust feature set and give consumers a seamless workflow from finding content to playing it back. BitTorrent recently announced that it had reached more than 100 million active monthly users.

The new version of BitTorrent is due in a public beta near the … Read more

CES: Slingbox functionality comes to Google TV

Slingbox functionality is on its way to Google TV, according to a new report.

Technology blog ZatzNotFunny is reporting that Sling Media has developed a Web-based application for Google TV that allows users to control their DVR and access programming from the site.

Sling, which is currently showing off the product at the Consumer Electronics Show, reportedly told ZatzNotFunny that the Google TV option features the same interface available on the company's SlingPlayer Mobile Android app, which launched in June.

ZatzNotFunny says the Google TV-optimized site streams content at 1080i and should launch "sometime this year."

Further … Read more