Rodney Orpheus' pandemic oasis, Desert Island Nerds

My friend Rodney Orpheus (he of the legendary darkwave electronica band, The Cassandra Complex) has been doing a terrific weekly streaming show, called Desert Island Nerds. The premise is that we're all on our own little desert islands in isolation now, so we might as well play the Desert Island game.

Each week, Rodney has on a "nerd hero" and asks them random questions from a list of 20 (chosen, natch, by rolling a d20). Questions are the typical (what album would you take to a desert island? what book? movie?), but also unusual things like companion animal? luxury item? Outfit?

The show, done from Rodney's own little nerd island in the UK, is surprisingly well-produced and great fun to watch. He's done three episodes so far and each one has been tasty nerd candy. The first episode was with Brian Freisinger, visual FX guy who worked on The Matrix Reloaded, Constantine, and Serenity, Antony Johnston, the man behind the video game Dead Space and writer of the movie Atomic Blonde, and Christina Z, the most successful female comic book writer of all time, creator of Witchblade and Tigra and writer for the Powerpuff Girls comic. The Desert Island conceit is really just an excuse for two uber nerds to enthusiastically yammer on about the novels, comic books, RPGs, video games, music, movies, etc. that they adore.

Next week, Rodney's guest is [reads cue card] Holy shit... ME! We'll be talking about some of my desert island picks and some of the high weirdness and nerd-worthy things I've gotten myself up to over the decades, including writing for this Directory of Wonderful Things. Read the rest

Vudu, Walmart's streaming service, to be bought by Comcast-owned Fandango

Fandango dang sure isn't selling movie theater tickets anymore. And Walmart appears to be easing out of the video-on-demand business, and into... something else. Read the rest

Hollow Earth Radio: "local music, found sound, paranormal encounters, crank calls, dreams, etc"

Last week David posted about the Aquarium Drunkard music stream and I quickly signed up on Patreon. I also listen to Chilled Cow, a streaming lofi hip hop radio show on YouTube. Those two streams are enough to keep me happy throughout the day, but I just came across another awesome stream: Hollow Earth Radio. Based in Seattle, it's a Low Power FM (LPFM) non-commercial DIY radio station featuring "local music, found sound, paranormal encounters, crank calls, dreams, etc! 24 hours a day!" I need three brains so I can listen to all three at once.

Image: Twitter/Hollow Earth Radio Read the rest

Outstanding, free, and far-out music stream from Aquarium Drunkard

Aquarium Drunkard is an incredible audio hub of reviews, podcasts, features, interviews, and sessions sure to please all crate diggers, outré musicologists, fringe culture fanatics, and deep music geeks. Their genre-bending curation spans jazz, folk, garage, psych, experimental, and every other niche of music to present oft-unheard gems from across time. As the creators say, Aquarium Drunkard is "for heads, by heads." In author Erik Davis's own excellent newsletter, he shares word that Aquarium Drunkard has now launched a free online radio stream, Radio Free Aquarium Drunkard. Tune in and turn on. Erik writes:

I have been in love with Aquarium Drunkard’s mailing list, streams, and musical curation chops since I stumbled across a three-part collection of rare 70s Jesus Freak music they posted years ago. Given that millions of us are now stuck at home, addictively trawling newsfeeds while trying to stay sane, the AQ kids just launched Radio Free Aquarium Drunkard, a wonderful 24/7 radio stream of joy, verve, and reflection. Admittedly, I find my own sensibility uncannily mirrored in RFAQ’s mix of scruffy indy, ladyfolk, 90s basement tapes, spiritual jazz, weird country, and deep deep 70s. But I am particularly enjoying the intimacy, wit, and kindness of the selections, segues, and overall vibe. These days we should all be paying close attention to the collective process of meaning-making. This means ignoring the algos and opening up to playlists, personal recommendations, and DJs. Tune in!

Read the rest

RFID implicated in live-streamed poker cheating scandal

Seems a pro-poker player, Mike Postle, has achieved impossible-seeming results. Other players have put hours upon hours upon hours into analyzing his baffling play. It is like watching someone play with perfect information, they claim!

While nothing definitive has been found, Stones Gambling Hall, a live poker site where the questionable Postle has spent a lot of time live streaming, has stopped using RFID chipped playing cards and hired an investigator.

Spying isn't just for governments!

CNBC:

It’s not just that Postle is winning, it’s how he’s winning, that is drawing suspicion. Ingram, Berkey and others have spent hours reviewing hands Postle played and found several times where Postle made a fold or a call that wouldn’t seem “right” but happened to work out in his favor.

Berkey said Postle made plays no pro would ever make, and he did them often, and they worked. Poker is a game of incomplete information. Berkey said Postle played “as if he had perfect information.”

Stones Gambling Hall said it has hired an independent investigator to look into the accusations.

In a statement Stones Gambling Hall said: “We temporarily halted all broadcasts from Stones. We have also, as a result, halted the use of RFID playing cards.”

Read the rest

Spotify's antitrust complaint against Apple is a neat parable about Big Tech's monopoly

Spotify has asked the EU Commission to intervene in its business relationship with Apple, citing the fact that Apple takes a 30% vig on all customer revenues from people who join the service or buy songs through an Iphone app, while Apple's own competing Itunes store does not have to pay this commission. Read the rest

Omniverse CEO rejects piracy accusations, claims that he has a legit, "mind-blowing" 100-year license to stream TV on the internet

Mitch Wagner writes, "Omniverse CEO Jason DeMeo says a piracy lawsuit against his streaming TV service is full of crap. Omniverse faces piracy litigation from an alliance of content companies. But DeMeo says his company has a mind-blowing 100-year deal that allows it to stream TV channels over the Internet. Looks like somebody more than 25 years ago may have traded the crown jewels for a handful of beans, and Omniverse is enjoying the benefit today." Read the rest

Relax with this wintry real-time stream from a Norwegian train

Having a great time, wish I was there!

This video produced the NRK TV-program "Nordlandsbanen Minutt for Minutt", which shows ride on the train cabin driver's view through beautiful Norwegian landscape.

(via Kottke) Read the rest

A Twitch subsidiary has created an official D&D digital toolset

Dungeons and Dragons Beyond is an official digital companion to D&D, with a free character-generator and a bunch of paid additions, from access to hyperlinked editions of the rulebooks ($30/each), and a $3/player, $6/DM subscription service that lets DMs share their books with players. Read the rest

How badly do streaming services rip off musicians? A chart, updated

Information is Beautiful has updated their comparison of artist payments on streaming services, estimating that 2.4 million plays on YouTube will net a whopping $1,472 for an unsigned artist. That's $0.0006 per play! Read the rest

Babylon 5 now available to stream for free in the US

Babylon 5, even during its original run, was never particularly easy to watch when it first aired. The changing TV landscape of the time, as well as the failure of B5's original network PTEN and subsequent re-emergence on the TNT network, meant that timeslots and airdates shifted several times during the show's original five-year run.

Show creator Joe Michael Sraczynski's "B5 books" site is reporting that Go90.com now has the entire show available to stream for free for the first time, along with several other recent series.

I've always believed that B5 represented one of the better Sci-Fi "space opera" TV shows in history, and one that many people were never able to watch during its run on television. The story and effects hold up extremely well for a show that recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Now's your chance to see it in its entirety, for free, on your own terms.

Unfortunately, the site is US-only. Read the rest

The Netflix library has half the titles it did four years ago

Consumer site Extreamist confirms what many suspected: Netflix has sharply reduced its streaming library titles by over 50% from an estimated 11,000 in 2012 to about 5,300 today. Read the rest

For disabled players, Twitch offers community and a second income

A new profile in The Guardian gets to know young women with ability challenges who are earning money and raising charitable funds via online streaming service Twitch.

Apple announces Apple Music and native Watch apps

Its own News app and updates to OS X and iOS filled an unusually-packed lineup of new software

What Sony and Spotify's secret deal really looks like

The nitty-gritty details of Sony's deal with Spotify paint a picture of a very lopsided negotiation indeed, with Sony commanding an unbelievable "most favored nation" status from the streaming music provider that entitles it to top-up payments to match other labels whose music is more popular on the service. Read the rest

Roku R3500R streaming stick: Roku gets even better

I've replaced the playback devices on every TV in my home with a Roku 3. The Roku R3500R is even better! Smaller, but with the same access to the immense catalog of content and ability to feed it anything I like. This streaming stick is the way to go! Read the rest

Now a Roku 3 has replaced my AppleTv

Back in April I cancelled DirecTv and started using a Roku 3 as the main entertainment device in my living room. This week I got sick of my bedroom AppleTv and decided it was time to go all Roku.

In a side-by-side comparison of the two units I sadly found the AppleTV to just be frustrating, while the Roku is a pleasure. Read the rest

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