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Reactive Programming is the New OOP
04/18/2014
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Michaels Confirms Security Breach Affected 3 Million Debit, Credit Cards
04/18/2014
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Michaels Stores, largest arts and crafts chain in the United States, has acknowledged that a security breach first reported in January affected up to 3 million customer credit and debit card accounts.

The security breach occurred as a result of an attack using malware that the company says had not been previously encountered by security firms. The breach has been identified and contained, Michaels said in a press release on Thursday.

See also: How to Check If Hackers Stole Your Data in Massive Target Breach

Brian Krebs originally reported the breach on his Krebs on Security blog.

There were some reports of fraudulent charges on cards that had potential connections to Michaels or Aaron Brothers, a subsidiary of the company, the company added. It said it has worked with debit and credit card companies to limit the damage and is offering 12 months of identity protection, credit monitoring and fraud assistance to any customers affected by the breach. Read more...

More about Online Security, Security Breach, and Business




'Earth cousin' discovery a milestone in search for alien life - Mother Nature Network
04/18/2014

'Earth cousin' discovery a milestone in search for alien life

Mother Nature Network

The exoplanet Kepler-186f indicates that life could be sustainable around M dwarf stars, despite their dimness. By: Mike Wall, SPACE.com. Fri, Apr 18, 2014 at 10:43 AM. 0Facebook 0Twitter 0Pinterest 0Google+. 0. This artist's illustration shows what the view ...
Researchers Spot Earth's 'Cousin' In Milky Way Counsel & Heal
The First Earth-Sized, Habitable Zone Exoplanet Has Been Found. Dibs. Uproxx
Oregon weather and science watch: Tank towns, earth-like planets and star parties The Oregonian
The Australian  - CNN  - Latino Post
all 603 news articles »




Brain-Eye Coordination Defies Expectations
04/18/2014
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Pop-up shops are becoming more permanent
04/18/2014
In brand strategy, short-term retail may not be so temporary after all.




Sinking ferry, traffic control transcript
04/18/2014
The following is a transcript of communication between the sinking South Korean ferry Sewol and the local maritime traffic control, Jeju Vessel Traffic Services Center.




AP PHOTOS: Stratocaster still a favorite at 60
04/18/2014

An original 1954 Fender Stratocaster head stock, left, is shown next to a 2014 model, Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 at a studio in Scottsdale, Ariz. April 2014 marks the 60th anniversary of the very first Stratocaster ever sold. (AP Photo/Matt York)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Jimi Hendrix made it shriek. Buddy Holly made it swing. Stevie Ray Vaughn made it snarl.






7.5 magnitude quake hits Mexico
04/18/2014
A 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck Friday morning in southern Mexico's Guerrero state, the U.S. Geological Survey said.




You Can Now Try Google Glass at Home Before You Buy It
04/18/2014
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For those curious about trying Google Glass before shelling out $1,500, Google is launching a free try-it-at-home pilot for the high-tech specs.

First spotted by 9to5Mac, the Reddit user clide posted an email and various photos of the kit he received in the mail from Glass as part of a new trial the company is offering.

SEE ALSO: 10 Places You're Not Allowed to See on Google Maps

Hello Potential Explorer!

You told us you’re interested in purchasing Glass, but wanted to wait until we had frames for Glass. We have some good news for you. We recently introduced the Titanium Collection — four feather-light titanium frames that are designed to fit with your prescription and personal style. And even more good news — you’ve been selected to participate in a free home try-on pilot, to help you find the frame style and Glass color that fits you best before you purchase Read more...

More about Google, Tech, Apps Software, Gadgets, and Mobile




Remembering an officer slain after bombs went off
04/18/2014

FILE - In this November 2012 file photo provided by Nicole Lynch, her brother, Sean Collier, stands in his driveway in Someville, Mass., frying a turkey for his annual kickball Thanksgiving gathering. Investigators said Collier, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer, was shot to death Thursday, April 18, 2013 on the school campus in Cambridge, Mass., by Boston Marathon bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in a botched attempt to obtain his gun several days after the twin explosions. Collier will be remembered on the first anniversary of his death in a ceremony at MIT Friday morning, April 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Nicole Lynch)

BOSTON (AP) — Like many other youngsters, Sean Collier wanted to be a police officer. Unlike most, he brought that dream to life — and then died doing it, becoming a central character in one of the most gripping manhunts the nation has ever seen.






The 15 Retailers That Offer the Most Coupons
04/18/2014

While a coupon can save extra cash while shopping, some people skip the due diligence of searching for one before checking out. Perhaps they think it takes too much time, or, more likely, that there just won't be one available that makes it worth it. That's why we dove deep into our coupon database to find out which stores are the best.

Read more...












Weight loss not just shedding pounds
04/18/2014
Sure, Mike Wilber had pounds to lose. But he also had some heavy emotions weighing him down.




SpaceX Aims to Blaze New Trail for Rocket Technology - NBCNews.com
04/18/2014

SpaceX Aims to Blaze New Trail for Rocket Technology

NBCNews.com
SpaceX's cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station is due to send a host of innovations into orbit on Friday — ranging from a laser communicator to cracker-sized satellites to a pair of claw-footed legs for the station's android robot. But the ...
SpaceX launch to International Space Station threatened by storms Fox News
Storms threaten 2nd launch try to space station Daily American Online
NASA Supply Mission Could Be Delayed Again Due to Storms Auto World News

all 59 news articles »




Global Warming Had Key Role in California Drought, Eastern Cold: Study
04/18/2014
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A new study has found that manmade global warming likely intensified an unusual weather pattern that led to both the California drought and the cold and snowy winter in the eastern U.S

The study, accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, is the first peer reviewed research to examine the reasons behind a strong and stubborn area of high pressure, or a "ridge" in the upper atmosphere, across the Gulf of Alaska since November, and a sharp dip in the jet stream, or "trough," across the East

In finding a tie to manmade climate change, the study is likely to spark further research and debate on this topic Read more...

More about Climate Change, Global Warming, Snow, Us World, and Us




Princess Leia and Indiana Jones: A Princess and a Guy Like Me? [Geek Art]
04/18/2014
James Hance is among my favorite artists I discovered through the Internet. I’ve been following him since 2010 and the man never ceases to delight me with his artwork. Just check out his latest piece, how can you NOT love something like this? [Source: James Hance | Via GT]




Microsoft: Xbox One Sales Top 5M - Fox Business
04/18/2014

Microsoft: Xbox One Sales Top 5M

Fox Business

Microsoft (MSFT) has sold more than five million Xbox One gaming consoles to retailers, trailing rival Sony (SNE). When it reported sales of 3.9 million in January, Microsoft said it would begin disclosing only the number of Xbox One units that were sold to ...
Xbox One Shipments Top 5 Million PC Magazine
PS4 Soars Ahead In Xbox One Sales Battle Sky News
5 Reasons the Latest PlayStation 4 and Xbox One Sales Figures Don't Mean ... TIME (blog)
Irish Times  - Wired  - Business Standard
all 693 news articles »




Technical Debt, a case study: tags
04/18/2014
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The quickest way to double your wardrobe
04/18/2014
BOYFRIEND TWIN - a tumblr documenting the curious pattern of gay men dating themselves.




Ads pushing app downloads are coming to Twitter
04/18/2014

Twitter’s new mobile advertising suite lets companies pitch their mobile apps in promoted tweets or place ads inside other apps.

The suite combines Twitter Cards, a feature that automatically adds Google Play and App Store links to tweets, and Promoted Tweets, sponsored tweets that appear in people’s timelines. Users will be able to download apps directly from their timelines, Twitter said Thursday.

Read: Meet the new Twitter, same as the old Facebook

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here





Windows 8.1 Update: 8 Tips To Avoid Headaches - InformationWeek
04/18/2014

Windows 8.1 Update: 8 Tips To Avoid Headaches

InformationWeek
Windows 8.1 Update offers the best blend of legacy and Modern apps yet -- but only if your device is properly configured. As its bland name might suggest, the newly-released Windows 8.1 Update offers fewer new features than Windows 8.1 did when it ...
Pro tip: Completing the Windows 8.1 Update procedure TechRepublic
How to prevent Windows 8.1's desktop taskbar from showing in Metro apps PCWorld (blog)
Windows XP: How end of support sparked one organisation's shift from Microsoft ZDNet
NDTV  - InfoWorld  - Daniel Rubino
all 249 news articles »




Misinformation fuels frustration
04/18/2014
First they said all passengers from the sunken South Korean ferry were rescued. Then they backtracked.




With $4.6M In New Funding, Preact Helps Software Companies Keep Customers Happy
04/18/2014
 Startup Preact is officially launching today with a product that it says can help companies increase customer spending and reduce churn. It's also announcing that it has raised a $4.6 million Series A led by Trinity Ventures. CEO Michael Geller said the Preact system looks at a variety of signals and uses data science to help subscription software companies identify when their customers are… Read More




Why Snowden Pushed Putin on the Spying Question
04/18/2014
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It seems Edward Snowden had an ulterior motive when he appeared on live TV to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin whether he spied on millions of Russians.

Snowden's questions gave Putin a chance to claim that his country is not as evil as its historic enemy, the United States, but also forced Putin to go on the record in front of millions of Russians. And that's exactly what Snowden wanted, he wrote in a Guardian op-ed on Friday.

See also: This Is How the NSA Is Trying to Win Over the Media

"If we are to test the truth of officials' claims, we must first give them an opportunity to make those claims," Snowden wrote in the op-ed. Read more...

More about Russia, Surveillance, Vladimir Putin, Us World, and Us




HTC taps Samsung’s former marketing head, who helped build the Galaxy brand
04/18/2014

What do you do when you’re being outmarketed by a giant rival? In HTC’s case, you hire the person who helped build your rival’s brand. HTC confirmed today that it has brought on former Samsung U.S. marketing head Paul Golden …












Samsung Milk Music soon to feature ads, $4 ad-free option - CNET
04/18/2014

Samsung Milk Music soon to feature ads, $4 ad-free option

CNET
milkmusicfreeradioservicebysamsung3thingsyouneedtoknowsamsungelectronicsofficialblogsamsungtomorrow.jpg Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET Samsung's Milk Music streaming service will soon feature ads, according to a new infographic posted to ...
Samsung's Milk Music will soon cost $4 per month to listen ad-free Engadget
Samsung's Milk Service to Feature Premium Subscription Model, Ads in the ... Android Headlines - Android News
Samsung hints at ads and premium subscriptions for Galaxy-centric Milk Music TechHive
PhoneDog  - Android Community
all 10 news articles »




Can we talk? Internet of things vendors face a communications 'mess'
04/18/2014
Vendors will tell you that the Internet of Things (IoT) is here today. We're here to tell you that it isn't. This is your warning label. It's the small print on the prescription that outlines all the nasty complications.The first thing to realize is that many wireless communications protocols that allow home devices to exchange information aren't interoperable.




You Need a Budget (YNAB) Is Now Free for College Students
04/18/2014

You Need a Budget, one of your five favorite personal finance tools , is now free for college students. All you need to do is send in proof of registration and they'll give you a special license for the year.

Read more...












Soon you’ll be able to drive in and out of a paid parking garage without paying
04/18/2014

QuickPay has acquired license plate recognition technology company Nautical Technologies to make paying for a parking garage a seamless experience.












48 killed in attack on U.N. base
04/18/2014
Heavily armed militants on Thursday attacked a U.N. peacekeepers' base that was sheltering civilians in South Sudan, killing at least 48 people and seriously injuring dozens of others, a U.N. spokesman in the country said Friday.




The week in 33 photos
04/18/2014




Samsung's Milk Music will soon cost $4 per month to listen ad-free
04/18/2014
You know what they say about all good things in life. Samsung has been offering an ad-free version of its Milk Music service for no charge since launch, but the company has posted a new infographic revealing that Americans will soon have to pay $4...




LinkedIn reaches 300M members, chases the next 3B
04/18/2014

LinkedIn, the ubiquitous social network for professionals, has crossed the 300 million member mark, the company announced today. Around 100 million of those folks live in the U.S., with the other 200 million coming from the rest of the world. …












The Future of Social Media Is Mobile Tribes
04/18/2014

The next big thing is getting smaller and smaller.

Historically, our social media experience been chained to the first-screen browser and the one News Feed to rule them all. We've seen saturated with bloated content from overpopulated streams. We've been bombarded with updates and notifications from friends and family we love, pages we Like, accounts we follow, colleagues we connect with, and acquaintances that can't even remember where we knew them from—we just couldn't keep up. We felt an impulsive urge to clean house, to make our feeds less cluttered and more manageable.

But as our daily Internet consumption moves away from the desktop (and even the laptop), the landscape of social media is seeing a dramatic shift in native platforms and user behaviors. Smartphone hardware has matured. Wireless data networks have advanced. Mobile-first design has gone mainstream. But content oversaturation and deterioration of meaningful interactions is still a concern. That problematic intersection has birthed a new zeitgeist: Mobile tribes.

We crave interpersonal interaction, the basic human need to connect and communicate with each other. The basal layer of social media has remained unchanged, but the chief characteristic of tribes is the tendency to categorize membership in distinct groups, movements, cultures and ideologies—to band together in subpopulations of shared interests, tastes, demographics and marketplaces. Yet, within tribes is the free will to exercise personal choice over who we connect and communicate with. That's where mobile comes in.

The Age Of The Mega Platform Is Over

In the post-PC era, we're increasingly finding content and connections exclusively on our phones.

The first generation of social media touted "networking", but the next generation, raised in always-on connectivity, will embrace ephemerality and digital tribalism. Those users will abandon the major social networks and migrate to more granular mobile villages with simpler ecosystems. They will follow a small circle of close friends on Instagram, pin with a small handful of followers on Pinterest, message with a girlfriend or schoolmate on WhatsApp or Snapchat, or follow a co-worker's check-ins on Foursquare. Or, they will build the next platforms and apps that don't exist yet.

Every platform will be socialized, but every user base will be judged on quality of life, not sheer numbers. Big data will not matter as much as small relationships. Media and content will become less fragmented and centralized, more native and branded to the single-channel niche apps they appear in and the mobile tribes they appeal to.

Even Facebook, the big-box chain of social networking, realizes its problem of content oversaturation and the trend towards granularity and mobile tribes. The company has doubled down on developing its mobile suite (where most of the company’s active power users live, and where the ad dollars are most brisk) and "unbundling the big blue app," according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

"I think on mobile, people want different things," Zuckerberg told The New York Times. "Ease of access is so important. So is having the ability to control which things you can get notifications for. And the real estate is so small. In mobile, there's a big premium on creating single-purpose first-class experiences."

Brands, companies and startups that build social products, services and devices must build for app-only tribes in the future. They must think like the end user, one that has always grown up with a smartphone and a few favorite apps. These new platforms will be connected for (and by) app-only mobile natives—carefully curated and tightly managed for the community, but also streamlined for productivity and responsiveness. They must know and respect the user, and his or her mobile tribe.

Because on the Internet, there's just too much stuff to see, people to meet, food to Instagram, and not nearly enough time for it all.





How it Sometimes Feels to Change Passwords [Pic]
04/18/2014
Yep, that pretty much sums it up. They also forgot: Must not be similar or identical to the 10 previous passwords. [Via]




Shopping: Is there an app for that?
04/18/2014

Sponsored Post: Our fascination with the smartphone is in full swing. We now live in a world where more phones are activated daily than there are babies born, and they seem to be just as demanding.












Fight guns as a nation
04/18/2014
Jill Koyama says Michael Bloomberg is right to tackle gun violence, but we need to go beyond piecemeal state legislation.




How to Integrate Consumer, Business Apps in the Workplace
04/18/2014
Consumer apps are making their way into the workplace. eWEEK offers best practices on integrating them into the enterprise.




Pixel art editor built on Clojurescript + Om
04/18/2014
submitted by yogthos
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Uber Adds $1 'Safe Rides Fee'
04/18/2014
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UberX rides will now be subject to an additional $1 "Safe Rides Fee" as the company looks to offset rising insurance costs.

UberX is the cheaper arm of Uber, the much-hyped transportation startup that lets users easily call for car pickups. Uber tends to call for luxury vehicles, while the low-end UberX is meant to compete with regular taxis as well as other taxi startups like Lyft and Sidecar.

See also: Uber Rolls Out 'Surge Drop' Feature for Cheaper Rides

"This Safe Rides Fee supports our continued efforts to ensure the safest possible platform for Uber riders and drivers, including an industry-leading background check process, regular motor vehicle checks, driver safety education, development of safety features in the app, and insurance," the company wrote in a new "What Is The Safe Rides Fee" section of its "Fares & Fees" FAQ on its site. Read more...

More about Uber, Business, Startups, Lyft, and Uberx




Google’s 3D-mapping phones are headed to space: Watch this zero-gravity test
04/18/2014

You can’t criticize Google for thinking small. Long before it revealed Project Tango, its ambitious 3D-mapping initiative, to the public, Google was working with NASA to bring the technology to the International Space Station, the company’s Advanced Technology group announced …












HTC hires former Samsung marketing chief Paul Golden, who helped create the Galaxy brand (Eva Dou/Wall Street Journal)
04/18/2014

Eva Dou / Wall Street Journal:
HTC hires former Samsung marketing chief Paul Golden, who helped create the Galaxy brand  —  HTC Hires Former Samsung Marketing Chief  —  Paul Golden Helped Create Galaxy Brand at South Korean Company  —  HTC Corp. is hoping to nab a bit of that Samsung shine, as it has hired …





Wildfires really are on the rise in West, Utah researchers say. Geographers link climate change to more, bigger fires in the West. These findings don’t support the popular notion that the federal government has done a poor job managing national forests in the past two decades.
04/18/2014
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Google Street View tech can solve CAPTCHA puzzles
04/18/2014

Google reCAPTCHA helps to verify humans on the Web and digitize old texts

Do you get frustrated filling out those online forms with jumbled letters to prove that you're human, only to get them wrong? They're called CAPTCHA puzzles and are designed to be difficult for computers to crack. Google's Street View technology, however, can decipher them with 99 percent accuracy... Continue Reading Google Street View tech can solve CAPTCHA puzzles

Section: Computers

Tags: CAPTCHA, Google, Research, Security

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31-Day Underwater Mission Splashes Down This Summer
04/18/2014
A monthlong underwater research mission led by the grandson of famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau will begin on June 1. The so-called aquanauts will spend 30 days living and working in an underwater laboratory off the coast of Florida.




Chrome OS may kill the password with Easy Unlock smartphone option
04/18/2014

Google may be opening a new front on the war against the password with a smartphone-enabled unlock option for Chrome OS PCs. Dubbed Easy Unlock, the new test feature would "instantly unlock your Chromebook when you and your phone are nearby, no password necessary."

Easy Unlock is currently available in the dev channel of Chrome OS, but it isn't fully baked yet so it's not possible to try it out, according to Android Police, which first spotted the new feature.

Nevertheless, Chrome OS dev users can enable Easy Unlock under "chrome://flags/#enable-easy-unlock." Right now, all you get to see is some introductory material on how to enable the feature, but not the actual feature itself. 

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here





How Technology Is Making It Great To Be A Music Fan
04/18/2014

I’m a music junkie. Like many of you, my life is often accompanied by a soundtrack. I’ve got playlists for working out, and just plain working. Music for when I’m feeling on top of the world, and music for when I'm down in the gutter. Songs that make me think, and songs that bring back memories. Music is important to me—and probably to you as well.

But despite the importance of music, technology is really what allows it to be such a huge part of our lives. So how is tech going to shape the future for music fans like me and you? I needed to find out.

I connected with the band Switchfoot—known for the songs "Meant To Live" and "Dare You To Move"—to see if and how they are embracing technology to make their music more enjoyable to fans. What I found is that they're using tech to give their fans more: More access, more content and more control.

This isn’t a story about artists making more money. It’s a glimpse into what the future has in store for people who love music. People like you and me.

Why Switchfoot?

There’s no scientific reason for the choice. I wanted to pick an artist, so I picked one I was a fan of. As it turned out, the way these guys use technology to connect with their followers probably represents a decent cross-section of how artists in general are using tech to engage with fans. Switchfoot has a wide range of experiences that makes it a worthy envoy: The band has been independent, it's been signed to a major label and it's won a Grammy.

Within minutes of our first conversation, I could tell this band was using technology in innovative ways—especially to create closer connections with fans. According to Switchfoot’s bass player Tim Foreman (who majored in computer science and handled the band’s early Web development) the band’s music—and it’s use of technology—is all about connectivity.

“We’re part of this greater creative community that includes our fans," Foreman said. "We want to make them co-conspirators with us. They’re just as much a part of this as we are. For us as a band, it’s all about the conversation, and to that end we’re always looking to eliminate barriers between us and the people that listen to our music.”

Building Bridges

RebelMouse is a tool Switchfoot uses to simultaneously break down barriers and fuel the conversation. Implemented on one of the band’s websites, FadingWest.tv, RebelMouse pulls together tweets, Instagram photos and videos into a single unified hub. As social as social media is, not every fan has an account on every platform. With RebelMouse, fans on one network but not another—Twitter, but not Instagram, or vise-versa—suddenly have access to a treasure trove of content.

As empowering as the band’s social media strategy is, Switchfoot has gone even further to include fans in its journey—literally. Switchfoot has used services like WeDemand! to give fans a chance to help shape the touring schedule.

WeDemand! works by allowing fans to raise social support for bringing their favorite artists to areas that may normally be overlooked. Aside from demanding a show, fans can also leave comments for the band on the site. A glance at the band’s WeDemand! page shows a large group of commenters requesting a show in Omaha.

See also: Can Technology Predict The Grammys?

Band-to-fan communication is commonplace in the music industry, but fan-to-band communication is finally becoming more common. Switchfoot has also tried to encourage and enable fan-to-fan communication as well: When group messaging service GroupMe was brand new, the band encouraged fans that purchased tickets to download the app in order to communicate with each other while attending concerts and festivals.

A messaging app may not sound like the type of tech a band would be on the lookout for—and in truth, it isn’t always a natural fit—but Switchfoot is always looking for benefits that aren’t necessarily obvious.

“One of the interesting things I’ve discovered is that many times the primary use of technologies or services is not actually the primary benefit for us," Foreman said. "For instance, we’ve used LivingSocial to promote some of our album and tour stuff. Most people are just focused on the sales numbers, but for us, that’s not really the main equation there. What’s often overlooked is the fact that they have this huge mailing list. So whether you sell 100 or 10,000 tickets, you’re reaching millions of eyeballs. I think a lot of technology and services out there have a second layer that is beneficial but often overlooked.”

Some services do offer obvious benefits, and the band has those covered, too. Will Call is an app that offers fans a better concert experience by helping them coordinate with other friends at the show, buy merch from their phones without having to face frenzied crowds, and even discover more concerts to attend. Switchfoot has been an early adopter of the Will Call service, which is currently only available in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles.

An Organized Strategy

Switchfoot doesn’t just stumble across new technology and decide to use it willy-nilly. Bruce Flohr, the band’s manager and an executive at Red Light Management, is dedicated to finding new tech that fits with the band’s desires to connect with fans.

So what’s his strategy? Flohr says he’s not just looking for the next Snapchat or Twitter.

“We’re trying to find things that make sense for our fans," he said. "We look at things that fit into our fan’s lifestyle and try to work with technologies in that space.”

Flohr said it all comes down to one simple test: “The first question I ask is, ‘Would I use this?’ Because if it’s too complicated, then it’s very hard to get the early adopters on board.”

One piece of technology that passed Bruce’s test was Square, the payment platform led by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. At Switchfoot’s latest BroAm charity surf event in San Diego, volunteers were sent out with Square-equipped iPads to collect donations from the crowd of 11,000 people.

Though Square made it easy to collect donations for the band, the iPad has become instrumental for Switchfoot in other ways, including the way the band records.

“The iPad has become this incredible multi-instrument that let’s you do things that aren’t possible any other way,” Foreman said. “It’s exciting. Just the tactile nature of the iPad allows you to play certain instruments that don’t exist. You can sample things and manipulate them in ways you couldn’t otherwise and we did a lot of that on the new record.”

Foreman said many musicians tend to favor old gear like amps and guitars, but the bassist insisted Switchfoot enjoys exploring new tech.

“I think it’s exciting to kind of let go of that for a second and be freed of those constraints and look at everything as an instrument and a possibility,” Foreman said.

The Internet Isn't Always Friendly

There have been times when technology has gotten in the way of the band’s connectivity to its fans.

About 10 years ago when the band was signed with Columbia Records, the label was experimenting with copy protection. One of the band’s albums—Nothing Is Sound, which debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 albums chart—was included in the experiment… without the guys' prior knowledge. Foreman explains:

See also: 10 Music Services You May Not Know About—But Should

“We got our copy of the album a couple of days before it was released to the public and saw this big disclaimer on the back and found out that it had this protection that didn’t allow you to put it on your iPod (which at the time was already a huge deal). And we were just so offended that they would put out this message that basically tells our fans that we don’t trust them. We felt it was the most disingenuous thing that could possibly be put on our album.”

At that point, Foreman's background in computer science kicked in and he posted a hack on the band’s message boards to let fans circumvent the copy protection to “use the music they purchased and owned how they wanted.” According to Wikipedia, the workaround was quickly deleted by Sony.

Giving Fans What They Want

By now you’ve probably picked up on an emerging theme. We’ve already seen how the band has used services like RebelMouse to surface and amplify fan-generated content, but technology is also allowing the band to produce more content themselves.

In the future, harnessing, organizing and interpreting community information will help the band determine what kind of content to produce.

See also: How To Stream Music With Google Chromecast

“Data can help the band give the consumer what they want," Flohr said. "More and more we’re finding they might not want an entire album’s worth of material once every two years. They may want more material sooner and better experiences on the live side.”

Did you glaze over that last statement or did it sink all the way in? Because it’s important.

You, me, us, as music fans—we may be literally shaping what our favorite artists will produce in the future. We, the consumers, are really the ones being empowered, thanks to all of this technology.

The future of being a music fan is sounding pretty good right now, but it’s also looking better visually thanks to the welcome onslaught of quality video content heading our way. It’s only natural: As the makers of our devices and the networks that connect them build their pipes to be larger and more connected, there will only be more demand for water ("content").

Water, Water, Everywhere

There are plenty of ways fans can get extra content these days, especially with all the "behind-the-scenes" goodies out there.

Flohr told me how music fans can use services like SoundHound to ID songs and unlock second-screen experiences with exclusive video content from the band. There's GoPro footage taken on-stage, brief five-minute video podcasts with tour updates, and even webcam setups in recording studios—Switchfoot has kept busy producing this video content, and last year, it even made a feature-length film to accompany the band's latest album. The two projects share the same name: Fading West.

The Fading West movie is a chance for fans to further immerse in the band’s story. “The smart artists realize that they are storytellers and Switchfoot is a perfect example of that,” Flohr said. “Fading West is not a music documentary, it’s not a concert film. It’s a story of the band’s passion of both music and surfing and how they’ve been able to incorporate both into their lives and how both have influenced their career.”

The film adds new depth to the group’s music and history, but after I watched it, I also felt like I’d gotten to know new friends. The film made me laugh, it made me sad, and it showed me things I didn’t expect to see. In short, it was great content. Content that my device—and inner fan—both craved. Content I’d like more of. (Fortunately for me, the YouTube lifestyle network focused on extreme sports called "Network A" partnered with Switchfoot to release some exclusive behind-the-scenes footage.)

Switchfoot's movie—and the pipes that allow it to be delivered to new and existing fans around the world—have gone a long way toward helping the band’s fans feel more connected to the group.

“I feel like the sense of community at our shows has never been greater because of the film,” Foreman said. “I feel like we were really vulnerable and honest in it and showed a different side of ourselves that people hadn’t seen. And I think letting people in on that just kind of furthers that sense of community. It adds to the intrigue and brings people along with us.”

The Great Frontier

I was a bit surprised to discover Switchfoot isn’t just using technology; the band is helping drive its development, too. While the band hasn’t built any tech tools from scratch yet and probably won’t fund any new products angel investor-style, Flohr said he “could see the band developing new technology in partnership with a tech company where they help as early adopters and by doing R&D... And it would not surprise me if what they helped develop was not necessarily IP but maybe hardware.”

There’s a good chance your favorite artists will use some of these same tools and community-building techniques to engage fans as well, if they aren’t already.

“It’s like anything,” Flohr said. “Good ideas get repeated over and over again. Even though you might be first to market with technology, if it works you open the floodgates.”

So what kind of technology is the band looking into adopting next?

“We’re looking into [Bitcoin]," Foreman said. "I like the idea of straight peer-to-peer interaction. I think that’s something we’ve tried to do whether it’s online or offline—you know, like hanging out with kids after the show. It’s kind of the same concept of trying to eliminate barriers.”

Music will always be about bringing people together, but it's clear that technology’s role will only help to amplify these community conversations to drive more—and better—content. And that's something anyone can nod their head to.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock; Switchfoot images by Chris Burkhard





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