Les Paul Special guitar

Pandora can't catch a break, it seems. Just weeks after the streaming radio service escaped paying higher royalties to songwriters, record companies and musicians have sued it in a New York court for allegedly violating state copyright laws by refusing to pay for older song recordings. The labels argue that Pandora is subject to state rules on compensation whenever it streams tunes recorded before February 15th, 1972, when federal law took over; right now, it's only paying for those newer works. The suing parties claim that Pandora is both depriving artists of income and wielding an "unfair advantage" over on-demand competitors like Rdio and Spotify, which have no choice but to negotiate royalties for classic tracks.

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Like any responsible New Yorker, I've entrusted a copy of my apartment keys to a close friend. This is done mostly to ensure that, should I die home alone, my body won't be left to rot undiscovered for days. It's also primarily done so that my mail is collected and my "children" (what you would call plants) are watered and sung to every other day when I'm travelling for work. And I travel often.

My apartment is also wired to the gills with SmartThings. These little, white, swappable sensors monitor temperature, motion, moisture, power and presence, and relay that data to me via an app -- a crucial fact I'd neglected to tell my house-sitting friend many months ago. A small, yet ultimately fortunate, oversight that led me to uncover my house sitter's true comings and goings. Or, should I say, the lack thereof.

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"I'm terrified I might not actually be all that smart."

"Made a batch of Jello just to stick my dick in it. No regrets."

"I like taking the ferry because I get to drink in public legally."

This is just a small sampling of posts I've recently seen on Secret, an anonymous-sharing app that's part of a new trend in Silicon Valley. It's a little like Whisper, a competing app that's been around since 2012, except that instead of letting you broadcast your anonymous missives to the world, posts on Secret are limited to a network of friends based on your phone's address book.

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Welcome to IRL, an ongoing feature where we talk about the gadgets, apps and toys we're using in real life and take a second look at products that already got the formal review treatment.

IRL: A rant about Nintendo's Virtual Console service

Before you send in your angry emails, comments and tweets that decry me as a hatchet-wielding antichrist, let's begin by saying that I'm not a gamer. I do play games, but I have no specific allegiance to a console or manufacturer -- I simply go where the fun is. My console history, for editorial balance, includes the VIC 20, Commodore 64, NES, Mega Drive (Genesis), PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Xbox 360 and the Wii. That means that I'm about as much of a dilettante as you can be, and there's no bias or malice in the following. Just disappointment.

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Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.

Airplanes are major CO2 emitters, but it doesn't need to be that way. For the past several years, two Swiss innovators, André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, have been flying around the world in a sun-powered plane, spreading the word about solar power. Last week, the duo announced the debut of the new and improved Solar Impulse 2 aircraft, which they'll use to attempt a flight around the globe. While the Solar Impulse is charting new territory in the skies, Tesla is changing the game on the roads. Last month Tesla sold 1,493 Model S sedans in Norway, breaking a 28-year-old monthly sales record and outselling every other vehicle in the country. Thanks in part to Tesla's success, electric cars are selling at a furious pace: A recent report shows that EV sales are currently growing by more than 100 percent per year. Smaller is better when it comes to urban cars -- especially for parking -- but there are drawbacks to owning a pint-size car. In San Francisco, vandals recently went on a Smart Car-tipping spree, flipping the tiny cars upside down in the middle of the night. A bicycle is still best way to get around the city, both for your health and the health of the planet. In Boston, doctors are now prescribing bike share memberships to obese patients, encouraging exercise instead of medication.

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If you're an IT professional, gadget blogger or token geek in your circle of friends, chances are, you've been hounded relentlessly over the past couple of days about "this Heartbleed thing."

"Do I need to update my antivirus?"

"Can I login to my bank account now?"

"Google already fixed it, right?"

We've heard them all, but the answers aren't all that clear or simple. In an attempt to take the pressure off -- it is the weekend after all -- we've put together a primer that should answer all of those questions and a few more. Next time someone asks you about that "Heartbleed thing," just shoot them in our direction.

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It's our 10th birthday, and to celebrate we'll be revisiting some of the key devices of the last decade. So please be kind, rewind.

Before the Rio Carbon arrived to take on Apple's iPod juggernaut in 2004, there was Diamond Multimedia's first stab at the digital music market: the Rio PMP300, a portable music player released in 1998. Since it was one of the first portable MP3 players ever to be sold, Diamond ended up embroiled in a fight for the future of the format. The PMP300's ability to play digital music files downloaded from a computer led to a groundbreaking legal battle with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The RIAA challenged the company in court, claiming that its use of digital music files was copyright infringement, but Diamond won out and cleared the way for a new wave of portable music players (PMPs) to hit the market.

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The three weeks out of every month that Shuhei Yoshida's in Japan, he has the same routine every day. He wakes up, opens a tablet, and gets back to work on PlayStation consumer feedback via his favorite interaction tool: Twitter. The man who heads Sony's PlayStation group is incredibly, perhaps detrimentally, accessible on social media. It's not his job, but a role he's taken on. "It's my personal time, but since lots of people tweet to me, I'm doing this almost official customer service," he says.

After 20-plus years working on PlayStation, Yoshida's beyond overqualified for customer service. He's been with Sony's PlayStation arm from its creation, and helped shepherd franchises from idea to mainstream norms: Gran Turismo, Crash Bandicoot, Uncharted. The list goes on.

Yoshida spoke with PlayStation 4 lead architect (and other game industry legend) Mark Cerny last evening in California, where he detailed his storied history in the game industry.

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Whether you call it 4K or Ultra HD, next-gen television sets are on their way to your living room. Some experts expect sales in the US alone to approach 1 million this year, with early adopters opening their wallets at an even greater rate overseas. But while many of us still get by with 1080p, content producers are adopting Ultra HD as the norm on set, with manufacturers focusing almost exclusively on next-gen hardware here at the National Association of Broadcasters' annual trade show in Las Vegas.

Ultra HD cameras take every shape and size, from Sony's just-announced Alpha A7s mirrorless camera to Blackmagic's giant URSA, with its foldout 10-inch screen. Even drones are snapping 4K footage, including JVC's new gimbal-mounted Super 35mm cam. Some models, such as Red's $14,500 Dragon cam, can capture even higher-res video -- in this case, that means 6K footage from a camera you can hold in your hand.

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The World Wide Web. It sounds like such a silly thing when you actually spell out those consecutive W's. Nowadays, we just say "the internet," but once upon a time the web was a new and exciting thing. It was a massive communications breakthrough that captivated minds both young and old with the promise of an "information superhighway," and forced us to endure achingly slow dial-up connections.

Last month, the web turned 25 years old. Yes, Tim Berners-Lee's simple creation has gone on to spawn this digitally connected world we live in: the social networks, mega e-tailers and search engines we all know and depend on today. Things were simpler when the web started out, but we assure you, our early experiences were no less weird.

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