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Chris Walker, Chicago Tribune
United Airlines Adds Wi-Fi and Streaming Content
United Airlines plans to add Wi-Fi Internet access and personal-device entertainment to over 200 of the company’s United Express regional jets by summer 2015. The technology will allow passengers to stream video to computers, smartphones and tablets.
“These new elements will enhance the entire in-flight experience for our customers,” claimed Jeff Foland, United’s executive vice president of marketing, technology and strategy.
United confirmed passengers will have the ability to select movies and television content to stream on demand via a new mobile app.
eBay Launches Art Auction Portal
eBay’s art auction service is now live, giving users the ability to bid on fine art and collectibles online at 150 auction houses in North America, including Doyle New York, Freeman’s, Garth’s Auction and Swann Auction Galleries.
“We’re opening up the world of traditional auction houses,” exclaimed Gene Cook, general manager of emerging verticals for eBay Marketplaces.
Visitors can see available items in advance through online lists that are embedded in eBay’s searchable database.
The first auction is scheduled for Thursday with fine art at Swann Auction Galleries in New York.
eBay also has a separate site exclusively for Sotheby’s auction house that will begin by the end of 2014.
While the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack is available on CD and vinyl, a special edition cassette tape version will release on Nov. 17.
The official track listing is:
The soundtrack, containing only songs recorded in the 70s, reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 over the summer. The film recently released in China and has earned over $687 million since its debut in July.
BEN PRUCHNIE/GETTY IMAGES
JK Rowling will publish a new Harry Potter story online as a special treat for fans on Halloween.
The story depicts Hogwarts professor Doleres Umbridge as the Minister for Magic’s Senior Undersecretary.
According to Pottermore.com, the tale will feature a “rich, 1700-word back story about Umbridge’s life, filled with many new details, as well as Rowling’s revealing first-person thoughts and reflections about the character.”
The story will publish on Friday, Oct. 31.
MIT Conducts Twitter Research
Twitter awarded $10 million to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for research exploring the ways people collaborate through social networks.
University researchers will conduct a five year study on content present primarily on Twitter and build communication tools for efficient retrieval of the most viral information.
The new Laboratory of Social Machines will access data from Gnip, the company’s storage portal for historic tweets.
“Twitter is seizing the opportunity to go deeper into research to understand the role Twitter and other platforms play in the way people communicate, the effect that rapid and fluid communication can have and apply those findings to complex societal issues,” said chief executive Dick Costolo in a statement.
Company representatives confirmed investment into academic research would be a priority going forward.
The Art Institute of Chicago. Credit: Shutterstock.com/MaxyM
TripAdvisor Ranks Top 10 Museums
TripAdvisor recently compiled a list of popular museum destinations travelled by its users. The Art Institute of Chicago received the highest rating among any other
The company used an algorithm to track the quantity and quality of reviews for museums across the world over a 12-month period. Art Institute of Chicago ranked the most popular with a five out of five bubble rating among more than 6,510 reviews.
The top 10 destinations are:
1. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
2. National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropologia), Mexico City, Mexico
3. State Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia
4. The Getty Center, Los Angeles, California, USA
5. Galleria dell’Accademia/Statue of David, Florence, Italy
6. Musee d’Orsay, Paris, France
7. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, New York, USA
8. The Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece
9. Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain
10. Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, Jerusalem, Israel
Angelina Jolie to Direct New Drama
Hollywood superstar Angelina Jolie is set to direct the original drama Africa. Eric Roth, Oscar-winning actor for Forrest Gump, adapted the screenplay from real life accounts.
Jolie is also the producer for the movie with Skydance Productions.
The story centers on Kenyan conservationist Richard Leaky’s battle with ivory poachers in the ‘80s.
“I’ve felt a deep connection to Africa and its culture for much of my life,” Jolie commented to Deadline Hollywood and Variety.
Jolie and husband Brad Pitt are also filming the project By The Sea, which marks the couples’ first onscreen collaboration since Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Jolie recently directed the drama Unbroken about athlete and World War II vet Louis Zamperini, which is set to hit US theaters before the new year.
Google Acquires Firebase
Google confirmed the acquisition of Firebase, a company specializing in synchronized mobile and web-based apps.
Firebase employees will join Google’s cloud-computing team. They will continue to offer a service for apps running on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile operating systems.
“Over the past three years, we’ve gone from a crazy idea that ‘just might work’ to a proven product used by 110,000 developers. Today, I couldn’t be happier to announce that we’ve joined Google,” expressed Firebase co-founder and Chief Executive James Tamplin in a blog post.
The acquisition is part of Google’s strategy to promote services to independent developers. Google seeks to maintain the widest selection of programmers for developing apps on its mobile devices.
Buy Art with Bitcoin on Cointemporary
Painters Valentin Ruhry and Andy Boot launched Cointemporary in May, an online marketplace for purchasing creations using Bitcoin. The company features a new piece of art each week, and once it’s sold the artist has the option of receiving pay through traditional currency or Bitcoin. However, since the company wants to push the trend of digital currency, it gives the artists a larger percentage of the sale if they select Bitcoin as their payment option.
Purchased art gets shipped to buyers through Viennese company Kunsttrans-which also accepts Bitcoin.
The digital currency is starting to appear in a variety of styles in art. For example, the popular works of San Francisco-based artist Tom Loughlin and New York’s Jenna Lash often include Bitcoin as a creative theme. French artist Youl recently sold a painting entitled “The Last Bitcoin Supper” on eBay for $2,900.
Companies Art4Bit, BitPremier, and Silicon Valley Contemporary also use Bitcoin as a payment method. Paddle8 is considering using it as an option as well.
Cointemporary’s goal is to provide a “broader global visual context free from the hegemonic monetary system in which contemporary art is embedded.” The platform offers a “new form of autonomy in the global monetary system.”…Continue
Facebook Launches ‘Rooms’ App
Facebook announced ‘Rooms’, a new mobile-based app that creates a classic chat room environment in which users can create private chat boards for sharing messages, photos, important links and more.
The app will not require users to disclose any private, personal information about themselves like real names and geographic location; Facebook aims to let users “break away from the constraints of our everyday selves” and connect with uses with similar interests.
“One of the magical things about the early days of the web was connecting to people who you would never encounter otherwise in your daily life,” reads an official Facebook blog post. “Forums, message boards and chartrooms were meeting places for people who didn’t necessarily share geographies or social connections, but had something in common.”
“One of the things our team loves most about the internet is its potential to let us be whoever we want to be. It doesn’t matter where you live, what you like or how old you are-all of us are the same size and shape online,” the post reads. “That’s why in Rooms you can be ‘Wonder Woman’-or whatever name makes you feel most comfortable and proud.”
The New York Times first reported on the new app on Oct. 7. The source confirmed project development would be led by Josh Miller-founder of the recently acquired start-up, Branch.
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