Turntable.fm: The cool kids' Pandora?

The new music site Turntable.fm lets users DJ songs for their friends -- in real-time.The new music site Turntable.fm lets users DJ songs for their friends -- in real-time.Turntable.fm lets users DJ for their friends, choosing for a big library of songs
Users enter "rooms" where they can hear various kinds of music
Human pick music on Turntable.fm; computers do so on Pandora
The site gets lots of buzz on tech blogs; but there are questions about legality

Everyone knows Pandora -- that popular music-streaming site where robots pick songs for you based on equations.

Well there's a new kid in town: Turntable.fm. And its philosophy is almost perfectly anti-Pandora.

Instead of computers, real people pick the songs, in real-time.

The site turns this process into a concert-like game.

Here's how it works: When you show up, you see a list of all of the "rooms" where DJs are currently playing. You can see what type of music these small online venues typically play, and what song is currently on.

When you click on a room, your avatar -- the people in Turntable.fm are cartoon mice, kids and aliens, which is weird, but go with it for a second -- enters and finds itself standing in a crowd of other people who are in that room at that very moment.

From one to five DJs are standing at a table in front of you, and they take turns picking the songs that will be played in that venue.

If you like their choices, click the "awesome" button. If you're sick of all the Coldplay remixes, there's another button: "lame."

Of course, you can also become a DJ, which is part of the power of the site, writes Peter Kafka on All Things Digital:

"Turntable.fm is a little miracle that does something simple and essential: It lets you play your favorite songs for your friends and strangers on the Web, in real time, for free."

TechCrunch called the site the "new early-adopter addiction."

"The early adopting tech elites are eating this site up, just as they did Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, and others," Steve Poland wrote on that influential blog. "Barring some awful interference, this app is going to break big and change things."

The site's co-founder, Seth Goldstein, told CNN he would not respond to questions about the service until Turntable.fm opens fully to the public.

For now, one of your Facebook friends has to be on the site already in order for you to get access.

The blog BetaBeat says the site has 140,000 users.

There are questions about Turntable.fm's legality, too.

Turntable.fm DJ's can choose from songs in the site's library, which is hosted by MediaNet, an online platform with millions of songs.

Or you can also upload mp3 files to the site and play those, too.

That part seems questionably legal to some.

Again, from Kafka at All Things Digital:

"The risk for Turntable is the same one every music start-up without label deals faces: Not that a court will find them guilty of something, but that they'll have to spend a lot of time and money on lawyers.

"And while it seems blindingly obvious that Turntable.fm is a great thing for the music business -- it lets music fans tell other music fans about music they like, the best possible advertising -- I wouldn't put it past a label or two to gripe about the service. Particularly if it makes the leap from the digerati into the mainstream."

Give the site a try and let us know what you think in the comments. Does Turntable.fm live up to all the buzz? Or is it just hype?


Hacker group targets Arizona law enforcement

The hacker group Lulzsec recently hacked into PBS' website, leaving this message to visitors.The hacker group Lulzsec recently hacked into PBS' website, leaving this message to visitors.The group says they released the documents in response to Arizona immigration lawThe group releases numerous documents on ThursdayA law enforcement official says the release put officers and their families in harm's way

(CNN) -- The hacker group LulzSec has alarmed police in Arizona this week after releasing sensitive information about officers.

The group said they posted the information in response to Arizona's controversial immigration law.

"We are releasing hundreds of private intelligence bulletins, training manuals, personal email correspondence, names, phone numbers, addresses and passwords belonging to Arizona law enforcement," the group said in a statement. "We are targeting AZDPS (Arizona Department of Public Safety) specifically because we are against SB 1070 and the racial profiling anti-immigrant police state that is Arizona."

The Arizona Highway Patrol Association said the release of the documents is unsafe for officers.

"Law enforcement officials go to many lengths to protect their identities," states Jimmy Chavez, president of the organization "These individuals maliciously released confidential information knowing the safety of DPS employees, and their families, would be compromised."

The controversial bill, Arizona Senate Bill 1070, passed last year but was quickly challenged in court by the Justice Department. The measure would have required local police, while enforcing other laws, to question the immigration status of anyone they suspected of being undocumented.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit placed an injunction on parts of the measure in April saying that those parts overstepped Arizona's authority.

In its lawsuit, the Justice Department challenged only six of the Arizona law's provisions, meaning others went into effect in July.

Among the provisions given the go-ahead were a ban on "sanctuary cities," or municipalities with laws or policies that render them relatively safe for undocumented immigrants. A provision making it illegal to hire day laborers if doing so impedes traffic and a provision dealing with sanctions for employers who hire illegal immigrants also went into effect.


Critics: Google hides Gay Pride 'doodle'

If you Google terms like "gay" or "homosexuality" this month, a rainbow pops up by the search bar. If you Google terms like "gay" or "homosexuality" this month, a rainbow pops up by the search bar.Google creates Gay Pride feature, which critics say is hidden away
Users who search "lesbian," "gay" and other "pride-related" terms see a tiny rainbow
Some criticize the company for not doing a Gay Pride doodle on Google.com

(CNN) -- Google creates "doodles" for all kinds of random occasions.

The search engine changed -- or doodled -- the logo on its home page in celebration of the painter Paul Cezanne's 172nd birthday; Robert Louis Stevenson's 160th birthday; the first day of school in Poland; and Pac-Man's 30th anniversary. All of these, with the exception of Poland, which appeared only in that country, were automatically visible to everyone who visited Google.com.

But for Gay Pride Month -- which, in case you didn't notice the parade in the city center, is happening now -- the company took a much less visible approach.

It's one that's stirred up criticism from the gay community.

There's never been an actual Google Doodle in honor of Gay Pride. Instead, during June, a little rainbow pops up next to Google's search bar only when users search for certain "pride-related" terms, including, "gay," "lesbian," "homosexuality," "LGBT," "marriage equality," "bisexual" and "transgender."

"During the month of June, Google is celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride," the company said in an e-mail. "For some Pride-related search queries, we are showing a rainbow at the end of the search bar."

So why hide this feature beneath specific searches?

A company spokeswoman did not provide specifics.

"We enjoy celebrating holidays and special events at Google. As you may imagine, it's difficult for us to choose which events to celebrate on our site, and have a long list of those we'd like to celebrate in the future," a statement said.

Critics say Google is hiding the feature to avoid criticism from anti-gay groups, whose members may be less likely to search "pride-related" terms.

The hidden doodle "should keep the six-color rainbow, a symbol universally associated with gay pride ever since San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker created it 33 years ago, from appearing on the pages of those who are still opposed to gay rights. And keep Google from having to deal with any backlash," writes Nicholas Jackson on The Atlantic's tech site.

Jackson, who is gay, calls the fact that Google hasn't created a full-blown doodle in honor of Gay Pride "disappointing."

"Instead of boldly declaring its support of Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, Google added a tiny rainbow to the end of its search bar," he writes.

Instinct Magazine says Google "should be commended" for doing anything:

"Google has lead the tech industry in supporting our community, and the latest addition to its arsenal of inclusion is a welcome boost in the right direction."

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.


Google investors fear long battle against Feds

Google Inc's logo is seen at an office in Seoul in this May 3, 2011 file photograph. REUTERS/Truth Leem/Files

Google Inc's logo is seen at an office in Seoul in this May 3, 2011 file photograph.

Microsoft Corp's famous founder may know better than anyone else what the Google Inc chief executive would face if he engages in a protracted legal battle against U.S. antitrust regulators.

Google said on Friday that the Federal Trade Commission has started a formal investigation into its business, raising concerns among investors about a lengthy, distracting probe and potential legal action.

Microsoft suffered that fate in its two-decade fight with the U.S. Department of Justice and state attorneys over charges that it abused its monopoly in operating systems to crush competition in other areas.

After a high-profile trial, Microsoft finally settled the matter in 2002, and only last month emerged from government oversight.

"Bill Gates felt like he was being punished for being successful, and he never really recovered from the antitrust trial," said Michael Cusumano, Professor at MIT Sloan School of Management, who was involved in the trial. "Microsoft has suffered as a result. They're not as aggressive. They definitely lost their edge."

Whether Google's Page will handle the review of his company more dispassionately than Gates remains to be seen. The 38-year-old son of academics is known for a stubborn streak, championing ambitious technology and products whose near-term financial payoffs are not always clear.

Page, along with Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, have resisted calls to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee hearing on competition in the Internet search industry.

Some are concerned that Google's desire to stand firm against government intrusion -- as in its protests against censorship of search results in China -- will lead the company into a long battle that ultimately will do more damage than a quick settlement.

"The amount of time involved is almost beyond human calculation," says Bob Lande, an FTC veteran who now teaches at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

The weight of these legal battles, and uncertain investigations, could tell on the company over time. Google's shares are already under pressure as investors worry about the increasing competition it faces from Facebook and others.

Shares of Google began the year a touch above $600. The shares ended down 1.11 percent at $474.88 on Nasdaq.

"The longer the specter of an investigation hangs over any major company's head, the more it has a negative impact on everything from its ability to do business to its stock price," said Melissa Maxman, co-chair of the antitrust department at law firm Cozen O'Connor.


The company said on Friday that it will work with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in a review of its business practices, but made clear it did not think it had done anything wrong.

"It's still unclear exactly what the FTC's concerns are, but we're clear about where we stand," Google executive Amit Singhal wrote on a blog post on Google's website.

The FTC is expected to address complaints from Google's rivals that its search results favor the company's own services. Google, which runs an estimated 69 percent of Web searches worldwide, can make or break a company depending on its search ranking.

The European Commission, and the attorney general in Texas launched investigations into similar issues last year, following complaints from companies specializing in market-specific searches, such as price comparison websites for electronics, travel or mortgages.

"This is just the beginning. You've got the EU investigating Google, you've got the Feds investigating Google. The state AGs have Google in the crosshairs. It's not a great position to be in," said Colin Gillis, technology analyst at BGC Partners. "You start having regulators tamper with your core business, that's something to be concerned about."

It is not certain that the FTC's investigation will lead to legal action.

"Typically less than one out of every 10 investigations lead to enforcement. This investigation faces daunting odds," said David Balto, a former FTC policy director.

"The complaints presented to the FTC are from disgruntled advertisers, not consumers. That is not a strong foundation to an antitrust case."

(Additional reporting by Alexei Oreskovic in San Francisco and Bill Rigby in Seattle; editing by Carol Bishopric)


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