Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Apple: iCloud Announcement Coming At WWDC 2011

Apple announced in a press release that it will be taking the wraps off of a new offering, iCloud, at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on Monday, June 6.
Apple will also be showing off new software for its Mac computers and iOS devices. Apple wrote the company will "unveil its next generation software - Lion, the eighth major release of Mac OS X; iOS 5, the next version of Apple’s advanced mobile operating system which powers the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch; and iCloud, Apple’s upcoming cloud services offering."
The company also confirmed that Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who has been on medical leave, will be among the "team of Apple executives" that will "kick off" WWDC.
Apple offered few details on what iCloud will look like, though there have been plenty of rumors. The company has reportedly finalized licensing deals with the music industry's top record labels, including EMI Music, Warner Music, Sony Music and Universal Music.
The music service could enable users to store their music in the "cloud," on remote servers, rather than by downloading tracks and storing them on separate devices.
BusinessWeek offers more information on the features iCloud could offer:
Armed with licenses from the music labels and publishers, Apple will be able to scan customers' digital music libraries in iTunes and quickly mirror their collections on its own servers, say three people briefed on the talks. If the sound quality of a particular song on a user's hard drive isn't good enough, Apple will be able to replace it with a higher-quality version. Users of the service will then be able to stream, whenever they want, their songs and albums directly to PCs, iPhones, iPads, and perhaps one day even cars. And the music industry gets a chance at the next best thing after selling shrink-wrapped CDs: monthly subscription fees, à la Netflix (NFLX) and the cable companies.

Peter Jackson's Hobbit Films Get Names

After years of speculation, health delays and a recent slew of Facebook updates and casting news, Peter Jackson's next foray into Middle Earth was finally made official over the weekend, as the official names of his two-part big screen adaptation of "The Hobbit" were announced to the world.
With Orlando Bloom returning as Legolas and joining, amongst others, Elijah Wood as Frodo and Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, New Line and its litany of producing partners felt it safe to unveil to the world the titles that will each, more than likely, be whispered at box stands in billion dollar increments.
Here's the official press release from New Line, Warner Brothers and MGM; for more information,click over to Jackson's Facebook page, where he will work to answer fans questions in between shoots.Click here to see some of his first updates, including a video that takes fans behind the scenes of his costume factory.
New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures and MGM have announced the titles and release dates for filmmaker Peter Jackson's two-film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's enduringly popular masterpiece "The Hobbit." The first film, titled The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, will be released on December 14, 2012. The second film, titled The Hobbit: There and Back Again, is slated for release the following year, on December 13, 2013.
Both films are set in Middle-earth 60 years before Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," which Jackson and his filmmaking team brought to the big screen in the blockbuster trilogy that culminated with the Oscar®-winning The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The adventure of "The Hobbit" follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug.
Under Jackson's direction, both movies are being shot consecutively in digital 3D using the latest camera and stereo technology. Filming is taking place at Stone Street Studios, Wellington, and on location around New Zealand.
Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, the character he played in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and Martin Freeman, who just won a BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the BBC series "Sherlock," takes on the central role of Bilbo Baggins. Also reprising their roles from "The Lord of the Rings" movies are: Cate Blanchett as Galadriel; Orlando Bloom as Legolas; Ian Holm as the elder Bilbo; Christopher Lee as Saruman; Hugo Weaving as Elrond; Elijah Wood as Frodo; and Andy Serkis as Gollum. The ensemble cast also includes (in alphabetical order) Richard Armitage, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage, Mark Hadlow, Peter Hambleton, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher, Sylvester McCoy, Bret McKenzie, Graham McTavish, Mike Mizrahi, James Nesbitt, Dean O’Gorman, Lee Pace, Mikael Persbrandt, Conan Stevens, Ken Stott, Jeffrey Thomas and Aidan Turner.
The screenplays for "The Hobbit" films are by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson. Jackson is also producing the films, together with Fran Walsh and Carolynne Cunningham. The executive producers are Ken Kamins and Zane Weiner, with Philippa Boyens serving as co-producer.

She's Back ! Looks like Roseanne Barr is headed back to network TV.

Since ending her groundbreaking sitcom, Roseanne Barr has largely traded in multi-cam formacadamia. And while her Hawaiian farm will continue to grow, it looks like the straight-talking populist star is headed back to network TV.
Barr is in talks to join the NBC midseason-scheduled first season of "Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea," series creator and executive producer Chelsea Handler told The Hollywood Reporter.
"I'm talking to Roseanne Barr to do some guest episodes as my aunt," Handler said. "She's interested in doing it, so it should be fun."
Barr would play Handler's aunt -- and also fake Handler's aunt. That's because Handler will star on the show not as herself, but as her sister; Laura Prepon, best known as Donna in "That 70's Show," will play the fictionalized Handler lead.
In a long recent guest article for New York Magazine, Barr ripped the television and Hollywood establishment as heartless and selfish, saying that she was abused by network higher ups as she began to do her show, "Roseanne." She called out their superficiality and the slavishness to fame, detailing her rise and fall from grace.
Largely, she said, nothing has changed in the industry, but perhaps with Handler, most obviously a woman, serving as EP and creative voice for the show, Barr feels more comfortable participating in a network sitcom once again. It would be the first time since a brief guest appearance in "My Name Is Earl," in which she played herself; before that, she hadn't been on a network sitcom since guesting on "The Nanny" and "Third Rock From The Sun," in 1997.

Ellen DeGeneres on 'Bridesmaids' and Women in Comedy (VIDEO)

If you're looking for an amazingly good time this summer that'll have you dancing up the aisles and laughing like you've never laughed before, I have one word for you: Tequila. Or you can go see, 'Bridesmaids.'

I loved it. There are so many hilarious moments in it, like when Kristen Wiig is on the plane. I don't know how any of the actors were able to keep a straight face.

Everyone in this film was fantastic. I loved Chris O'Dowd as the police officer. Maya Rudolph was on my show and called him a "hunky Irish morsel," and I agree. She also thought I should be in the sequel, so clearly she's smart and her opinion is to be valued. 

Some people are saying that this film proves that women are funny. Finally! I had been wondering about that for years.

Of course women are funny. It doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman -- funny is funny. When I saw this movie, I looked around the theater and there were men and women all having a good time. There were couples and people dressed up like crazy bridesmaids. There was even a man wearing nothing but kitchen utensils. Looking back, I may have been at a Lady Gaga concert.

Point is, I loved this movie and so will you. I'm very much looking forward to being in the sequel.

By Ellen DeGeneres

PBS Website was Hacked, News Story Claims 'Tupac is Alive' In New Zealand

A report is spreading quickly on Facebook and Twitter that famed rapper Tupac Shakur is shockingly "alive and well" in New Zealand, 15 years after he died.
The fake story reads:
Prominent rapper Tupac has been found alive and well in a small resort in New Zealand, locals report. The small town - unnamed due to security risks - allegedly housed Tupac and Biggie Smalls (another rapper) for several years. One local, David File, recently passed away, leaving evidence and reports of Tupac's visit in a diary, which he requested be shipped to his family in the United States.
"We were amazed to see what David left behind," said one of sisters, Jasmine, aged 31. "We thought it best to let the world know as we feel this doesn't deserve to be kept secret."

This is of course false. Tupac died in Las Vegas in 1996. But the link that is circulating, a PBS Web story, looks entirely legitimate, fueling the rumor.
PBS has been hacked. (Scroll down for screenshot.)
PBS NewsHour online engagement staffer Teresa Gorman has spent much of her holiday Sunday night replying to folks on Twitter, telling them the report is false and PBS has been hacked.
The Lulz Boat has claimed responsibility. Not only has it posted the "Tupac Alive" Web update to the PBS site, but on Twitter it posted information for staffers, the PBS network, and password info for PBS stations.
According to Secure Business Intelligence, LulzSec has attacked several high-profile organizations in the last month, although it is known to hack for "entertainment and infamy," rather than financial gain.
The report on PBS NewsHour "The Rundown" carries the headline "Tupac still alive in New Zealand" with a timestamp of May 29, 2011 at 11:30 PM EDT. It includes a picture of Tupac and as of 1 a.m. Monday morning, it was still live on the PBS site.

The Huffington Post  Craig Kanalley

Space Shuttle Endeavour Gone Forever From Space Station

Endeavour and its crew of six left the International Space Station and headed home to close out NASA's next-to-last shuttle flight, pausing just long enough Monday to perform a victory lap and test equipment for a future interplanetary ship.
"Endeavour looks real nice out there," space station resident Ronald Garan Jr. called out.
The space station crew beamed down video of the departing shuttle, the last ever shot of Endeavour in orbit. It was a dark, solitary image against the blue, cloud-covered Earth and grew increasingly smaller.
NASA's youngest shuttle – the baby of the fleet with just 25 space voyages – is due back in Florida early Wednesday. Its next stop after that will be a museum in Los Angeles for what some consider to be an early retirement.
Endeavour undocked close to midnight Sunday, ending 11 1/2 days of joint flight. The two spacecraft were soaring more than 200 miles above Bolivia when they parted.
By the time they were over eastern Europe, the shuttle astronauts could see the $2 billion cosmic ray detector they installed on the space station, as well as the new platform holding spare parts.
"We're the ones that get to see this incredible view, but you're all with us in spirit, and this is really a new day for science aboard the space station," shuttle commander Mark Kelly told Mission Control.
Endeavour and its crew left behind a space station that now has a mass of 905,000 pounds and is 100 percent complete, at least as far as NASA's share of the 12-year project. On the fourth and final spacewalk of the mission Friday, the astronauts attached an extension pole and declared the construction effort over.
The Russian Space Agency still intends to add another compartment or two. But the other partners have all the major items they need already up there for the decade ahead.
Atlantis will make one last supply run to the space station this summer to close out the 30-year shuttle program.
Endeavour's final job in orbit was to provide a platform for a navigation experiment, designed to assist future spacecraft that may fly to an asteroid or Mars one day. The shuttle and its astronauts hung around a few extra hours to accomplish the task, after photographing the station from all sides.
"We're closing another chapter on the flight," astronaut Andrew Feustel radioed when the experiment ended. He asked if flight controllers got enough data. "We've got a roomful of happy people down here," replied Mission Control.
The lead shuttle flight director, Gary Horlacher, praised Kelly and his crew for their "absolutely flawless" 16-day mission. He wished them "a safe voyage" and said he'd meet them on the runway at Kennedy Space Center.
Kelly promised to see him there, although he noted that stiff crosswind might postpone the touchdown.
Endeavour will aim for a rare middle-of-the-night touchdown. Landing time is 2:35 a.m. Wednesday.
Just four hours beforehand, Atlantis will begin the three-mile trek from the hangar to the launch pad one last time. Hundreds if not thousands of Kennedy Space Center employees will be on hand for the double-header events.
Built to replace the lost Challenger, Endeavour will have racked up 123 million miles by flight's end, beginning with its first journey in 1992, and have circled Earth more than 4,670 times. NASA's launch director has mentioned on more than one occasion that Endeavour still looks new.
"It's kind of sad to see it ending, but it's time to move on to the next chapter," Horlacher told reporters Monday morning.
One person missing all the fanfare in Florida will be Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the wife of Endeavour's commander. She attended the May 16 launch, but underwent skull reconstruction two days later in Houston. She's recuperating but Kelly said the landing will occur at an inconvenient hour and the nighttime views will be limited.
Kelly got a special musical send-off Sunday from Giffords.
The wakeup call was a song by a Tucson, Ariz., band. Kelly said the song, "Slowness" by Calexico, is about two people reaching across a distance, and references places in Tucson, his wife's hometown.
"I know she really, really wants to get back there," Kelly said. "It's an appropriate song because that's coming soon."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Oprah Finale Gets Huge Ratings

Oprah got huge ratings for the final episode of her talk show.
The preliminary numbers for the episode--in which Oprah shared some of the lessons she learned from her show's 25-year run--showed a 13.3 household rating. That's the highest-rated episode of the show since an edition called "People Shed Their Disguises" in 1994. That episode was the 18th most highly rated show in the history of the program.
The numbers capped off a stellar ratings week for Oprah. The two "Farewell Surprise Spectacular" episodes that preceded the finale also got big audience numbers.

Rich People Use The Internet For Food, News and Sex

Wealthy people like food, news and sex--at least online.
According to the Wall Street Journal, a new report by the Affluence Collaborative has tracked some differences between the web habits of the rich and the general population.
When it comes to food, the wealthy--defined as people earning $500,000 or more each year--are far more connected to the web. Sixty-one percent of affluent web users use the Internet to make reservations at restaurants or to check-in to locations, as with location-based social networking services like Foursquare. In the rest of the population, 13 percent make online reservations, and 23 percent use check-in sites.
Seventy percent of affluent consumers read news online. Only 44 percent of general consumers do the same.
And the wealthy have a healthy appetite for online sex, as well. Thirty-eight percent spend time visiting adult websites, compared to 23 percent in the rest of the population. Still, the Wall Street Journal notes that wealthy users spend less time casually surfing the web to entertain themselves.
The rich spend about as much time as average users banking online: 86 percent affluent respondents said they bank online, and a similar proportion of the rest of the country do so as well.
Another recent study showed that the affluent are spending more time than ever online, that time has also stressed them out at newly high levels.

The Huffington Post  Amy Lee

She's Back ! ! Palin Bus Tour Launching This Weekend On East Coast

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is beginning a bus tour of the eastern United States in the nation's capital over Memorial Day weekend, the latest in a string of moves that indicate she may be moving closer to running for the Republican presidential nomination.
"Starting this weekend, Sarah Palin will embark on a One Nation tour of historical sites that were key to the formation, survival, and growth of the United States of America," said Tim Crawford, treasurer of Palin's fundraising group, SarahPAC, in a statement provided to The Huffington Post. "The tour will originate in Washington DC and will proceed north up the east coast. More information will follow."
Palin will kick things off Sunday by taking part in the "Rolling Thunder" motorcycle ride -- comprised mainly of U.S. veterans of the Vietnam War -- that begins at the Pentagon and concludes at the Vietnam Memorial on the National Mall.
Pictures of the bus were released on the website for SarahPAC, Palin's political action committee. Emblazoned in red, white and blue, the bus bears a large painting of the U.S. Constitution, with the words "One Nation" in large font. Underneath that is the rest of the closing line to the Pledge of Allegiance: "Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All." The back of the bus has a small banner that says, "Join the 'Fundamental Restoration of America.'"
More than an hour after The Huffington Post and other outlets first reported the news of the tour, Palin added a short description of what she plans to do to her PAC website. Palin said that "through visits to historical sites and patriotic events, we'll share the importance of America's foundation." There is no mention of politics.
Planning for the trip kicked into high gear only a short while ago. Palin has rehired two former advance aides to President George W. Bush, Doug McMarlin and Jason Recher, to plan the trip and execute logistics. The details of where the 2008 vice presidential nominee will go remain fluid, and have been closely held within Palin's small world of trusted advisers. 
Palin has remained inscrutable about her political intentions to all but those who know her best, such as her husband, Todd. And while the external indicators suggest that Palin is increasingly serious about running for president, her aides caution privately against jumping to any conclusions.
But the evidence is beginning to stack up. Foremost is the news, first reported late Tuesday by Real Clear Politics, that Palin has authorized a full-length, two-hour film focusing largely on her record as governor of Alaska. The movie, produced by conservative filmmaker Stephen Bannon, will premiere in Iowa about a month from now, and then will be shown in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina -- the first four states to vote in the GOP primary.
And Palin is also reported to have bought a $1.7 million home in Scottsdale, Arizona, which would give her a base of operations much more conducive to domestic travel than her current home in Alaska.
If Palin were to announce a run in the near future, it could create chaos in a GOP primary that has just begun to take shape in the last few weeks.
Palin is in a category all by herself.

She has the name recognition of putative front-runner Mitt Romney: A Gallup poll Thursday showedher running second behind the former Massachusetts governor.
But where Romney is the archetype of the conventional politician, Palin is anything but. Since the 2008 campaign ended and she has been on her own, Palin's path has often been to do the opposite of what political prognosticators and even friendly advisers have expected her to do. Case in point: Her decision to give a public statement after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz) despite the advice of Fox News President Roger Ailes not to do so.
The ex-Alaskan governor appeals to the same values voters and Tea Party activists that are attracted to Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and ex-Godfathers Pizza CEO Herman Cain, but she has a celebrity status that would likely overwhelm those lesser known conservatives.
However, Palin also has extremely high negative approval ratings, and has lately begun to see her influence slip. If the former VP candidate does not decide to run, the bus tour and the film could be seen as an attempt to hang on to relevance.
Republican Party strategists and campaign operatives downplayed the impact of a Palin candidacy.
"A Palin entry this summer will have less impact than it would have had if she entered a few months ago because her stock with rank and file Republicans has fallen this year," said an influential GOP strategist. "But she'd still shake things up."
The GOP official portrayed Palin's impact as mostly negative for the GOP.
"The mainstream media hate her but love covering her, and everyone in the field would find themselves constantly being asked if they agree with what Palin just said," he said. "On top of that, her supporters are intensely loyal and teeming in the blogosphere, which can be a source of distraction in the debate."
A Republican source in Iowa -- where former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will need to perform well, if not win, the first in the national caucus to remain a viable presidential candidate -- said a Palin run would probably have the most impact on between 35 percent and 45 percent of the primary electorate: the Tea Party and evangelical voters that went largely for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2008. She would siphon support in that space from Bachmann in particular, but also Cain and Santorum.
If Texas Rep. Ron Paul gets around 8 - 10 percent again, the Iowa Republican said, that leaves between 45 and 55 percent for Romney and Pawlenty to fight over. That could tip in Pawlenty's favor if Romney does not work hard for votes in the Hawkeye State.
"The one other issue is what her entry would do to the tone and message of the GOP campaign," the Iowa source said. "Based on her history, one would expect a very confrontational posture toward the news media, the political 'establishment' and Obama. Does this force rest of field to follow in kind with their rhetoric? Does this further crowd out a guy like T-Paw who isn't known for fiery speeches and a confrontational tone?"
A top official with one GOP candidate's campaign said Palin's impact would be felt most heavily in Iowa, but that it would be "not so big a deal in New Hampshire."
In fact, the negative impact could be greatest for Pawlenty, who might see his plan to emerge as the top alternative to Romney complicated. And Romney would likely prefer to have Palin emerge as his top rival in the primary as opposed to someone like Pawlenty or former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman. 

 By    jon.ward@huffingtonpost.com