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Who Will Be The Online Music King?

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musicIf free music online is dying, which in some ways it seems to be, with the death of Grooveshark and continual offensives against pirates. There are still some other methods, such as YouTube or Spotify, but both involve more advertising than Grooveshark ever did.

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So, in this atmosphere, the musical arms of a lot of technological companies want to win. Apple has launched a streaming music service, and Microsoft is rebranding its Xbox Music service into something new. Google’s Play Music has occasionally inserted itself into important events, such as giving away an album by Lorde.

With that in mind, it always seem that one service or another winds up winning in these races. It’s never a very split contest. Someone comes out way ahead, and the others fade away. Microsoft, after all, used to have its Zune service. It may still have it, for those that still own Zunes. But the Zune never posed a serious threat to Apple’s iPod, and maybe was never actually intended to do so. Regardless, the iPod has become the dominant music device. As time has gone on, though, and phone storage has greatly increased, regular smart phones have more often become the musical device of choice.

Also read: The World No Longer Needs The Pirate Bay to Return: We Can Do it Ourselves

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This creates a choice for the user. If they’re using an Android phone, they’ll most likely end up using Google Music or Spotify, although there are still other options. These are highly visible music options, and often they end up being the choice. In this way, Google’s Music Store could wind up the most successful in terms of sales and usage, since Android phones are much more prevalent than iPhones.

Amazon Music also has a stake in all this, but in the end what will matter is what is easiest, and probably cheapest, for the user. Whichever service can offer the most music for the lowest price will ultimately win the first round, though higher quality services that come up, which cost a bit more, may stand a chance as well. What is clear is that iTunes and similar early kings of the online music industry have lost some of their dominance, and other services have cropped up to take online music sales away from them.

Ultimately, fierce competition is good for the end user, and the companies will have to compete on price as well as everything else. The real winner will be the one that can negotiate the best contracts with the music industry while also extracting the fairest rates from the customers. For some, this will simply mean running advertisements that pay more than they would make from charging customers for use.

This is the age of the Internet, and anyone can just pirate the music if they want. By signing up for a service, they aim for convenience and legitimacy at the same time. This has been the case as long as paid music services have existed. This being the case, one service will eventually dominate. In the meantime, it’s interesting to watch the race.

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Artificial Intelligence

Beware Uber Drivers! The Robot Cars Are Coming

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Uber Self-Driving Car

Uber announced that that the world’s first self-driving Uber cars are on the road in Pittsburgh, the Steel City. The road ahead is still long, but the implications are staggering.

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Lifestyle

GPU-Maker Nvidia Moving into Autonomous Vehicles with Chinese Search Giant Baidu

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Nvidia and Baidu, which is basically the Chinese version of Google, are teaming up to create a “cloud-to-car” autonomous car platform for auto manufacturers worldwide.

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Communication

The DEA Digs Your Instagram Bong Selfies

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It will come as no surprise to the average Hacked reader that the government is interested in their social media activity. People talk, and a lot of times, give themselves away, even when doing things which can get them in lots of trouble. Thus the DEA, FBI & Secret Service, all of course with some help from the NSA, are quite keen to know what’s going on with social media.

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Specifically the DEA revealed as much in their 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment, an annual report the agency publishes. On page 80, they write:

Social media reflects how younger people perceive marijuana use as evidenced by various Internet searches that demonstrate minors using marijuana publicly and with impunity. Social media users of all ages, but primarily younger individuals, have posted hundreds of thousands of photos of themselves with marijuana products on various social media sites; these photos are associated with hashtags that represent marijuana (e.g. #420, #710, #BHO, #dabs). In 2014, approximately 1,200 new photos and videos were posted to Instagram® each day associated with the hashtag #BHO, a slang term for marijuana concentrates.

In November 2014, after the success of a popular online challenge, another social media challenge was issued for people to post photos and videos of themselves using marijuana in public places with the corresponding hashtag #loudchallenge. In response to the challenge, people have posted videos of themselves using marijuana in restaurants, in airports, on public transportation, and in classrooms.

The report also discusses the up-tick in explosions caused by butane extraction of THC, which then yields a form of hash popular nowadays known as “dabs.” While it’s technically never been illegal to take or post a photo of drug activity, it is not always advisable in states where the prohibition of the plant is still a reality.

Also read: Don’t Worry #EDM Fans – You Can Still Search Your Favorite Instagram Hashtag

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But even in legal states, it can be a bad idea to post pictures of grow operations that have not followed the letter of the law, as Susan Squibb of the Cannabist cautioned Coloradans earlier this year:

So, it’s O.K. by state law to post online photos of your home grow, but [Colorado Attorney Lauren] Davis mentions there may be other risks. One factor to consider is whether the photos show off a garden compliant with local laws. Davis says, “If you are not within your legal limits (e.g. your town has a plant cap), you could be facing law enforcement scrutiny for the posting.” So make sure your garden is compliant before posting photos.

Big Brother is watching, and he’d rather you punish your liver than light up that bong. So take all the pictures of kegs and booze you want, those are considered past times. But take the wrong picture of yourself doing something with marijuana and you might find yourself in trouble, as Jeremy Clayton found out last year.

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