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Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles Chart Starts Tracking Online Listening

Billboard magazine is changing the way it ranks songs on its Hot 100 singles chart to take into account online music-streaming services like Spotify and Rhapsody, responding to a major shift in how people are consuming music.

“It’s so important that we are vigilant in recognizing a changing marketplace almost constantly these days,” Bill Werde, Billboard’s editorial director, said on Wednesday. “When you look at these streaming subscription services, even in the last year, you really see how they have come of age and I just think the time is now to do this.”

The chart’s methodology has been changed several times since it was established in the late 1950s. In those days hits were determined by counting jukebox plays, spins by radio disc jockeys and sales at record stores. Since the late 1990s the chart has been based mostly on airplay and digital sales.

But streaming services have been growing rapidly in recent years, and have surged even more in the last few months. The number of streams on six of the biggest services rose to 494 million in the week ending March 4, from 300 million a week at the start of the year, according to Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems.

“The growth we are seeing this year is pretty tremendous,” said Chris Muratore, a vice president in Nielsen’s entertainment division. “The consumption is just enormous.”

On Thursday Billboard will begin to publish a new chart — On-Demand Songs — that ranks singles according to the number of times they were listened to on those six Internet services — Spotify, Rhapsody, MOG, Slacker, Muve Music and Rdio. That data will then be folded into the Hot 100 chart, along with tallies of streams from sites like Yahoo, Myspace, Guvera and Akoo. The chart’s new methodology, first reported in The Wall Street Journal, still gives the greatest weight to sales, followed by radio play, and then online streaming.

Mr. Werde said that on first glance the difference in the new chart would seem subtle, with songs rising and falling a few notches, depending on the listening habits of fans. That is because most online listeners still tend to stream radio hits or top-selling singles.

Still, the new formula will reshuffle the order of most of the Top 10 when it is introduced with Thursday’s chart, he said.

The new system gives more prominence to electronic dance music composers, like Skrillex, Avicii and M-83, whose online fame has yet to translate into airplay.

“There is definitely a class of stars in the on-demand space that are driven more by buzz and word of mouth than radio,” Mr. Werde said. “Skrillex would be the king of this.”

Some hits may stick around longer, too, Mr. Werde added.

“Radio gets the big hit, then winds it down and moves on,” he said. “But if these songs are really beloved in the on-demand streaming space, they continue to have a longer shelf life.”

ooohhhh yeah. much better than those awful traditional chandeliers all over the Vegas Casinos

ooohhhh yeah. much better than those awful traditional chandeliers all over the Vegas Casinos

American designer Stuart Fingerhut has created the Kinema Pendant Luminaire. This 10″ x 12″ x 14″ lighting object uses a combination of different layers in order to create a specific effect and appearance. The luminaire is unique in its ability to give the user control of the light’s character to match the mood of the environment. Each of the pendant’s rings can be individually flipped to create dramatic light and shadow effects, as a single object or in multiples. The designer states he was inspired by the movement of crustaceans; a wide variety of forms can be created by arranging the pendant’s rings in alternating open and closed positions.

The Kinema light can be used commercially or in residential project too. It is available brushed brass and black, brushed aluminum and black, white and black or blue and white.

NASA: The World Isn’t Going to End in 2012

NASA: The World Isn’t Going to End in 2012

Remember the Y2K scare? It came and went without much of a whimper because of adequate planning and analysis of the situation. Impressive movie special effects aside, Dec. 21, 2012, won’t be the end of the world as we know. It will, however, be another winter solstice.

Much like Y2K, 2012 has been analyzed and the science of the end of the Earth thoroughly studied. Contrary to some of the common beliefs out there, the science behind the end of the world quickly unravels when pinned down to the 2012 timeline. Below, NASA Scientists answer several questions that we’re frequently asked regarding 2012.

Question (Q): Are there any threats to the Earth in 2012? Many Internet websites say the world will end in December 2012.
Answer (A): Nothing bad will happen to the Earth in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.

Q: What is the origin of the prediction that the world will end in 2012?
A: The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012. Then these two fables were linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice in 2012 — hence the predicted doomsday date of December 21, 2012.

Q: Does the Mayan calendar end in December 2012?
A: Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after December 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on December 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then — just as your calendar begins again on January 1 — another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar.

Q: Could phenomena occur where planets align in a way that impacts Earth?
A: There are no planetary alignments in the next few decades, Earth will not cross the galactic plane in 2012, and even if these alignments were to occur, their effects on the Earth would be negligible. Each December the Earth and sun align with the approximate center of the Milky Way Galaxy but that is an annual event of no consequence.
› More about alignment

Q: Is there a planet or brown dwarf called Nibiru or Planet X or Eris that is approaching the Earth and threatening our planet with widespread destruction?
A: Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an Internet hoax. There is no factual basis for these claims. If Nibiru or Planet X were real and headed for an encounter with the Earth in 2012, astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be visible by now to the naked eye. Obviously, it does not exist. Eris is real, but it is a dwarf planet similar to Pluto that will remain in the outer solar system; the closest it can come to Earth is about 4 billion miles.

Q: What is the polar shift theory? Is it true that the earth’s crust does a 180-degree rotation around the core in a matter of days if not hours?
A: A reversal in the rotation of Earth is impossible. There are slow movements of the continents (for example Antarctica was near the equator hundreds of millions of years ago), but that is irrelevant to claims of reversal of the rotational poles. However, many of the disaster websites pull a bait-and-switch to fool people. They claim a relationship between the rotation and the magnetic polarity of Earth, which does change irregularly, with a magnetic reversal taking place every 400,000 years on average. As far as we know, such a magnetic reversal doesn’t cause any harm to life on Earth. A magnetic reversal is very unlikely to happen in the next few millennia, anyway.

Q: Is the Earth in danger of being hit by a meteor in 2012?
A: The Earth has always been subject to impacts by comets and asteroids, although big hits are very rare. The last big impact was 65 million years ago, and that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Today NASA astronomers are carrying out a survey called the Spaceguard Survey to find any large near-Earth asteroids long before they hit. We have already determined that there are no threatening asteroids as large as the one that killed the dinosaurs. All this work is done openly with the discoveries posted every day on the NASA NEO Program Office website, so you can see for yourself that nothing is predicted to hit in 2012.

Q: How do NASA scientists feel about claims of pending doomsday?
A: For any claims of disaster or dramatic changes in 2012, where is the science? Where is the evidence? There is none, and for all the fictional assertions, whether they are made in books, movies, documentaries or over the Internet, we cannot change that simple fact. There is no credible evidence for any of the assertions made in support of unusual events taking place in December 2012.
› Why you need not fear a supernova
› About super volcanoes

Q: Is there a danger from giant solar storms predicted for 2012?
A: Solar activity has a regular cycle, with peaks approximately every 11 years. Near these activity peaks, solar flares can cause some interruption of satellite communications, although engineers are learning how to build electronics that are protected against most solar storms. But there is no special risk associated with 2012. The next solar maximum will occur in the 2012-2014 time frame and is predicted to be an average solar cycle, no different than previous cycles throughout history.

Apple’s takeover of the world continues: Siri will command the new Mercedes A Class

Apple’s takeover of the world continues: Siri will command the new Mercedes A Class

Mercedes-Benz has announced its plans to fully integrate the the driver’s iPhone as well as Siri assistant into future A-Class models. It’ll be like having your own personal, mildly-incompetent HAL.

Mercedes announced the plans today. A-Class owners will first load the Drive Kit Plus app onto their phones. They’ll be able to access content—including Facebook and Twitter (both of which you totally need while driving)—through the in-vehicle display and navigate using a controller situated in the center armrest. Drivers will also be able to command the car’s built-in Garmin GPS—which should come in handy when entering destination addresses. The DKP app also includes a “Car Finder” feature for locating a misplaced vehicle.

This marks the first time Apple’s allowed Siri “off the leash,” so to speak, and appear on a device that doesn’t end in 4S. The voice-activated assistant will feature the same level of functionality as on the iPhone. Drivers will be able to access the calendar, change appointments, dictate texts and emails or have them read back, change radio channels, access music stored on the phone, or place calls—all verbally.

A-Classes with these new features are expected to debut March 8th at the 82nd International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland. [Daimler via iPodNN – IBTimes]

The system will be controlled via the built-in display. You can see the connected iPhone in the background.

The Economics behind The Death Star

The Economics behind The Death Star

[SitM; they should be building it out of Buckminster Fullerines. Steel is too heavy. Nerd out.]

Given the current rate of innovation and progress in construction (and design) technologies, we tend to assume that anything can be built. Think up any ridiculous shape or size you’d like for a building, and if there is a rising economy of plutocrats willing to pay for it, a totalitarian state to muscle it past any potential construction hiccups, and plenty of marginalized laborers to be exploited to build it, there’s a good chance it will be realized. Well, you decide you want to go the post-modern route, in particular, millennial OMA, say a perfect sphere, monstrous in size–140km (87 miles) in diameter–and which doubles as the most destructive weapon in the universe, with enough firepower to vaporize entire planets at will? How much would it cost to build this megastructure-to-end-all-megastructures? And, more importantly, how much steel would be required to construct your very own Death Star?

Those are the questions that economics students at Lehigh University wanted answered. Posting their findings on their blog Centives, the students began by estimating the colossal mass of the Death Star and the amount of steel that would go into its construction. Comparing the density of steel in the Death Star to that of a modern warship (“After all, they’re both essentially floating weapons platforms so that seems reasonable”), they calculated that the amount would hover around 1.08×1015 tonnes of steel, the production of which would take 833,315 years to accomplish. At today’s steel prices, the endeavor would cost $852,000,000,000,000,000, or “roughly 13,000 times the world’s GDP.”

Still undeterred? While the iron in the Earth could easily provide the raw material needed for one of the upwards two billion Death Stars the students claim could be assembled from terrestrial resources, the recovery of that material would necessitate extent mining excursions to the planet’s core, something “we would all really rather you didn’t remove.” Then there’s the off-chance that your fellow mortals or even alien species eventually takes notice of what you’re up to and actually tries to stop (or assume control of) the enterprise, in which case you’d have a hard time perpetually fighting them off for 800 millenia.

The Joy of Facebook

The Joy of Facebook

[SitM: lol!]

Apple patent application points to DJ-like beat matching, pairs iTunes with fist pumps

Apple patent application points to DJ-like beat matching, pairs iTunes with fist pumps

Once upon a less digital time, there existed the art of the mixtape: a tedious labor of love that required timing, taste and a penchant for musical progression. No longer in this iTunes-era, where personally curated song collections that once served as the background to our lives can now be automated by our dear friends in Cupertino. And, based on a patent application filed back in August of 2010, those Apple-made robo-playlists could get even smarter and slicker, with your perennially hip, millennial compadres being none the wiser. According to the claims covered, “an electronic device” (insert Mac or iOS product here) would be able to locate and interpret beats from a preceding AAC, MP3 or WMA file and crossfade them into those of the following track. In other words, it’s a virtual disc jockey built into your machine; one that would supercede the currently available DJ feature. Whether or not this Sven Väth-like software will pan out in the company’s favor remains to be seen. So, until that fateful day arrives, the creation of those fist-pumping, house mixes is better left to the few, the proud, the orange-skinned.

“Acrobat” Photog Defies Death To Capture View At The Top Of The World

“Acrobat” Photog Defies Death To Capture View At The Top Of The World

[SitM: more creative use of everyday tech]

“Wouter van Buuren is not only a photographer, he is also an acrobat.” That’s how one art gallery describes, perhaps too mildly, the 39-year-old Dutch photographer who scales utility poles, tip-toes across bridges, and climbs out the windows of skyscrapers to capture breathtaking vistas of cities and rural landscapes from the top of the man-made world.

Van Buuren then takes the photographs and stitches them together to create dizzying “total landscapes”–sphere-shaped panoramas that imitate a satellite’s view of the earth. He doesn’t use Photoshop. Instead, for each landscape, he painstakingly lays out 100 photos or more, trusting to his own patience and steady hands (traits you’d hope for in a guy who defies death for a living).

“I started to make the total landscapes in the Netherlands when I was climbing electricity pylons,” he tells Co.Design. “I was stunned by the beauty of the landscape I thought I knew so well. From above the mundane seemed more divine. So I continued to do this and extended this to cranes, bridges and buildings and other countries all over the world.”

To date, van Buuren has snapped pictures on everything from a construction crane in Rotterdam to a skyscraper in Shanghai to a famous bridge in New York. The most dangerous place he’s ever shot? “A ladder outside a high-rise building on the 55th floor,” he says. “Because I didn’t bring a security belt, I had to tightly grip my hands on the small roof platform. …It’s funny how you can get used to heights. After a while I have no problem walking over the edge without any security, as long as there’s no wind.”

Our favorite photographs are the ones where he puts himself in the composition. We catch a glimpse of his foot dangling out over here or his hand gripping the crane for dear life over there–evidence of the acrobat hard at work.

[Images courtesy of Wouter van Buuren; hat tip to Notcot]

Long-Exposure Pics Make Trains Look Like Laser Beams

Long-Exposure Pics Make Trains Look Like Laser Beams

[SitM: very nice results using everyday tech]

We love pictures of trains. We also love plays on light. So we reaaaally love the long-exposure shots of San Francisco photographer Aaron Durand, who manages to make the city’s commuter trains look like a phaser shootout in Star Trek.

The impressive part: He does it without any fancy equipment or Photoshop trickery. He just hangs around Caltrain tracks (places he knows well from his salad days photographing graffiti art), aims his camera at an oncoming train, then pops open the shutter, letting light pour in for seconds on end as the train hurtles past. The slow shutter speed is what produces those ghostly streaks of light.

Durand shoots almost exclusively at night, which is the best time of day for snapping long exposures; the darker your background, the more dramatic your light trails. It also heightens the sense that you’re not looking at San Francisco at all, but rather some sort of dystopian industrial wasteland, stardate 5920.

Etiquette Lessons in the Digital Age

Etiquette Lessons in the Digital Age

So, you dropped food on the floor—to eat or not to eat, that is the question?

Audrey Fukuman and Andy Wright of SFoodie created a flowchart—“The 30-Second Rule, A Decision Tree”—to guide you on whether or not you should eat what you dropped in 30-seconds, because sometimes the 5-second rule doesn’t apply.

First things first, did anyone see you drop the food you want to eat on the floor?