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From a NASA press release published Friday: “For the past 8 years, NASA astronomers have been monitoring the Moon for signs of explosions caused by meteoroids hitting the lunar surface. ‘Lunar meteor showers’ have turned out to be more common than anyone expected, with hundreds of detectable impacts occurring every year. They’ve just seen the biggest explosion in the history of the program.” Watch the flash for yourself.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
While Rovio still leans very heavily on one game franchise for its success, there’s no question that it’s a big company these days — big enough, in fact, that it’s venturing into publishing for the first time. Its new Rovio Stars division will look for a handful of promising third-party games to support, giving them both the resources and exposure needed to shine. The first titles to make the cut are Nitrome’s upcoming puzzler Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage and 5 Ants’ Tiny Thief. We don’t know if Rovio’s guiding hand will be enough to give these games a major boost, but we can get a taste of what’s to come through the Icebreaker trailer after the break.
Source: Rovio Stars
Quidsi, the Amazon-owned parent company to a collection of single word e-commerce domains including Diapers.com, Soap.com, Wag.com, Yoyo.com, and more, is today launching a new membership program called Familyhood Plus. The program offers consumers free two-day shipping with no minimum purchases, and other exclusive deals. Prior to today, Quidsi sites would only promise free two-day shipping for orders of $ 35 dollars or more, but these could include a cart filled with items from across all the Quidsi-owned sites. In addition, the company notes that many orders are now being delivered in a day or sooner, and in New York and San Francisco, Quidsi has been experimenting with same day delivery for orders placed before 9 AM. That makes the need for an exclusive shipping program negligible, perhaps. The new Familyhood Plus program is similar to Amazon’s own Prime membership program, which provides Amazon.com shoppers with free two-day shipping with no minimum order size. Amazon Prime is $ 79 per year, in part due to its other features including unlimited access to Prime Instant Video, and the Kindle Lending Library. Meanwhile, Quidsi’s Familyhood Plus program doesn’t have annual membership pricing set yet, the company notes. Instead, the program, which offers support across all ten of the Quidsi-run sites selling items for home, kids, babies, and pets, will be available only as a pilot trial for now. Using the coupon code “GOCRAZY,” consumers can try the program for free during the first three months, with annual pricing likely offered when the trial completes. The free shipping will apply to over 90 percent of the products on Quidsi sites, except for the “Add One” items which like Amazon.com add-on items, are products offered at a discount when tacked onto larger orders. When ordered alone, these “Add One” items will not qualify for free shipping. However, AutoShip orders and those placed via mobile devices and native apps will receive the free shipping benefit. Familyhood Plus members are also agreeing to receive promotional emails which offer exclusive deals, but there’s an opt-out process for those not interested in that aspect of the new service. Amazon has been ramping up its Quidsi properties this year, bringing Diapers.com to the iPad in February, adding pet medications to Wag.com in March, and debuting children’s fashion site Look.com just last month. More details on the new membership program are here.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) has launched a Global Certification Program, which will allow solutions architects, systems operations administrators, and developers to get proof of their cloud know-how.
Twitter’s advertisement program was only available for several businesses in the past, but in order to generate more ad revenue this year, Twitter has decided to make its advertisement program available to anyone and everyone. The ads program allows users and small businesses to promote their brand and their products through promoted tweets and accounts.
LocalSqr is an app that aims to encourage healthy eating by promoting locally grown food. The app locates farmers markets and other organic produce suppliers in your vicinity, and if you end up shopping at one of these locations often, it rewards you with a special discount you can redeem from the vendors there. It’s a little like an app we reviewed today called Mango Health that rewards people who take their prescriptions meds on time with coupons and gift cards to popular retailers like Gap and Target. It’s strange to think that people will refuse to eat healthier foods or take their meds on time unless an app rewards them for doing so. That’s just the gamification of life in full effect, and if MOGL and Badgeville’s recent succeses are any indication, it’s something that appears to work pretty well. LocalSpr is also launching a dedicated effort for companies to adopt the app in their corporate wellbeing programs. They’re calling this the Go Local initiative, a wellness program that is designed to educate employees on how to eat healthier. LocalSpr recently partnered with Saks Fifth Avenue and conducted a eight week pilot program using a test group of 165 employees. Each Saks employee received a weekly email that gave them nutrition advice and healthy recipes. They were given challenges as well, like one that asked employees to eat a different meal everyday for breakfast. Employees were also asked to keep a dedicated food dairy, and of course, encouraged to use the LocalSpr app whenever possible. When the test group was surveyed at the end of the program, 52 percent were found to have cooked at home more and 57 percent purchased food from local markets. Of course, it’s not certain if that was largely an effect of the program or the LocalSpr app, but Saks is pleased with the result and has plans to expand the Go Local program nationwide this year to its 11,000 employees spread over 115 locations. There’s just a part of me that feels a little sad that we’ve come to the point where the only way some of us will eat healthier, organic foods is if there’s an app for that. In any case, LocalSqr is a free download at the iOS App Store.
Larky, an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based startup focused on helping users take better advantage of discounts and benefits from various clubs or members-only organizations like AAA, AARP, as well as health insurance providers, credit card companies, and more, is today announcing a seed round of $ 650,000. The round, which officially closed in late 2012, was led by North Coast Technology Investors, and included participation from First Step Fund and the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund, which gives the state of Michigan an equity stake in the new company.
X Prize is known for doling out big bucks for tech leaps like Spaceship One and now the foundation is teaming with Singularity University and Deloitte Consulting to try to bring more cash-bearing companies on board. To that end, they created the Innovation Partnership Program (IPP) to get industry together with inventors, scientists and other developers twice a year with the goal of funding new competitions. The first meeting took place last week and included heavyweights like Google, Sprint Nextel and Qualcomm, who tossed around ideas like crowdsourcing, sensor tech and 3D printing. In exchange for their largess — a seat at the table starts at $ 250,000 — businesses get in on the ground floor to breakthrough tech and the fortunes it can bring. IPP cautioned that the four day event “is not a volleyball picnic or a plush retreat,” so if you had visions of shirtless CEOs, Top Gun-style, you can breathe a sigh of relief.
As a federal agency, NASA can’t run commercials — a problem both for rallying broader public support and fostering the next generation of astronauts. The Aerospace Industries Association has both cultural and very practical reasons for improving that public awareness, so it’s taking the unusual step of crowdfunding an ad purchase to get the American space program in front of as many eyes as possible. The project would cut a 30-second version of NASA’s We Are the Explorers promo (after the break), minus the administration’s official endorsement, and run it in at least 50 major movie theaters for eight weeks following the launch of Star Trek Into Darkness on May 17th. The crowdfunding is ostensibly to demonstrate our collective love of space, and would directly translate any money raised beyond the $ 33,000 goal into ads for more theaters. A cynical industry move? Maybe — but we won’t build starships without a public that’s interested in seeing them beyond movie screens, which makes the ad a noble enough cause in our minds.
An anonymous reader writes “According to a report at The Daily Beast, the Obama administration has decided to give the drone program to the Pentagon, taking it away from the CIA. This could lead to increased transparency for the program and stricter requirements for drone strikes. From the article: ‘Officials anticipate a phased-in transition in which the CIA’s drone operations would be gradually shifted over to the military, a process that could take as little as a year. Others say it might take longer but would occur during President Obama’s second term. “You can’t just flip a switch, but it’s on a reasonably fast track,” says one U.S. official. During that time, CIA and DOD operators would begin to work more closely together to ensure a smooth hand-off. The CIA would remain involved in lethal targeting, at least on the intelligence side, but would not actually control the unmanned aerial vehicles. Officials told The Daily Beast that a potential downside of the agency’s relinquishing control of the program was the loss of a decade of expertise that the CIA has developed since it has been prosecuting its war in Pakistan and beyond. At least for a period of transition, CIA operators would likely work alongside their military counterparts to target suspected terrorists.’”
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Netflix just used the quiet Friday afternoon to announce that it is effectively ending its public developer program. Netflix will stop issuing API keys immediately and will not accept new API affiliates. The company will no longer offer a test environment for developer and its developer portal is already set to be read-only. Netflix’s OData catalog, which was never updated all that regularly in the first place, will be retired a month from now on April 8. The only good news for developers here is that applications that are currently actively calling the API will remain active, so services like instantwatcher.com, Goodfilms and CanIStream.itm which all either use data from Netflix or offer integration with the service, will likely remain online for the time being. Netflix did not say for how long it plans to support its current public API. The company says these ‘changes,’ as the company calls them, “are designed to allow us to focus our API efforts on supporting the products and features used most by our members.” Its API program, Netflix argues, has “shifted over the past few years” and is now more about supporting all of the devices that are used by its 33 million members to stream shows and movies. Here is a list of all the changes the company announced today: We will no longer issue new public API developer keys. All existing keys that are actively calling the API will remain active. We will no longer accept new API affiliates. There will be no impact to existing and active affiliates. We will no longer offer test environments. The test tools have been unavailable for a while and we won’t bring them back. We will set the forums in the developer portal to read-only. We encourage developers to continue their conversations at StackOverflow with the tag “netflixapi”. The existing forum posts will remain on the site for now in the form of an archive. We will retire the OData catalog, effective on April 8, 2013.
Once upon a time, Netflix was proud enough of its API which enabled third-party services and apps to serve up its data and content in different ways that it opened a gallery to display them — but times have changed since 2009. The old App Gallery is gone and now, so is API access for new developers. A blog post indicates the API is now mostly focused on supporting Netflix’s official clients on the many devices its customers use to stream movies, not hobbyist projects for managing ones queue or finding new movies to watch. While those should still work since “existing keys will remain active” the developer forums are being set to read-only, no new keys are being issued and new partners are no longer being accepted, effective immediately.
The move is reminiscent of recent changes by Twitter, where as each company has grown it’s decided having control over the user experience through its own official apps outweighs allowing the community to build and extend access as it sees fit. We’re sad to see the program go, as many of these tools assisted Netflix members in ways the official website and apps either never did, or no longer do after changes. Even though Netflix relies on its own secret sauce for recommendations, we’ve always found it hard to beat InstantWatcher’s curated lists (by year, Rotten Tomatoes rating, critic’s picks and more) to find a video, and FeedFliks has been indispensable for monitoring exactly how valuable the service is. They provided an edge the competition like Amazon Prime and Redbox couldn’t match, but we’ll have to wait and see if this change upsets subscribers — we’ve seen how that one goes before.
Source: Netflix Developer Blog
Facebook has no doubt been focusing more and more on mobile platforms. Granted, it took them a while to come around to the idea of a native iPad app, but the social network has apps on all the major mobile platforms now, and the company is constantly adding and updating mobile features. Where’s all this
Automaker Ford has announced that it has launched a new Ford2Go car sharing program with its German dealer network. Ford is working with its German dealers Association and DB Rent GmbH, which is the company behind the Flinkster car sharing platform. Ford2Go will be the first automotive manufacturer backed nationwide car sharing program incorporating dealerships.
Surgeon Simulator 2013 passes through Steam’s Greenlight program, shouldn’t have passed med school (video)
One of ten new additions to come from Valve’s Greenlight community platform, Surgeon Simulator 2013 was crafted in a mere 48 hours at Global Game Jam and puts you in the role of a clumsy surgeon, responsible for a patient who’s unlikely to last the night. You should consult the video after the break to get an idea of the level of incompetence here, but let’s just say your efforts are measured by Blood Level. You’ll get access to scalpels, hammers and bone saws as you perform heart surgery and brain transplants — in short, it’s going to get messy. Other new additions include Anodyne, Distance, Receiver, and Huntsman: The Orphanage and all of ‘em can be downloaded from Steam starting today.
Filed under: Gaming
With the latest computer tools, biologists can write their own genetic code and turn it into life.
Lax self-certification rules and poor record keeping have seen the Lifeline program – the subsidized cellphone scheme aiming to give low-income Americans access to a mobile phone – taken advantage of, according to new research. The program – which spent roughly $ 2.2bn on subsidized phones in 2012 – has seen rules tightened by the FCC
An anonymous reader writes “If you’re a hacker or a security researcher, this is a reminder that you don’t have to take on Google’s or Mozilla’s software to get paid for finding a bug. In its first week, the Mega vulnerability reward program has already confirmed and fixed seven bugs, showing that Dotcom really does put his money where his mouth is. Although Mega hasn’t shared how much money it paid out in the first week, how many bug submissions were made, or even who found which bugs, the company did briefly detail the discovered security holes. It also confirmed that the program is here to stay and urged those participating to find more severe bugs.”
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
JFDI.Asia, the incubator program that seeks to “innovate in Asia, for Asia,” just announced the eight startups that will be part of its accelerator program. The competition, which pushes teams to take an idea to investment in 100 days, begins on Feb. 21 at JFDI.Asia’s new purpose-built facility in Singapore.
The Mega file-sharing service has launched a vulnerability reward program that will pay up to a!10,000 (around US$ 13,600) for every serious security flaw found in the platform and reported responsibly. The rules of the program were laid out in a blog post published Saturday.
If you’re anxious for all this talk about graphene to materialize into products that can be tucked away in your shoulder bag, you’re certainly not alone. A consortium dubbed the Graphene Flagship, which includes heavyweights such as Nokia and the University of Cambridge, has been selected by the European Union to participate in a program that’ll endow it with 1 billion euros over 10 years to make that happen. The hope is that pairing up researchers and businesses will hasten the development of material and component manufacturing processes for the carbon-based substance, and make it possible for graphene to find its way into products such as flexible electronics, batteries and faster processors. During the first 30 months of the program, 126 academic and industrial research groups spread throughout 17 European countries will have their collective pockets filled with an initial 54 million euro budget to kick things off. It’s a long haul, but here’s hoping Espoo’s Morph concept inches a little closer to reality.
[Image credit: Nokia]
Via: Nokia Conversations
Source: Graphene Flagship (PDF)
Life in a zoo has its perks, but a multitude of ways to keep entertained probably isn’t one of them. To ensure that its apes have enough “variety and enrichment” in their lives as possible, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo turned to Orangutan Outreach and Apps for Apes, bringing iPads to the primates. You can check
According to a beta tester listing on OnlineBeta.com, Logitech is finally preparing to support OS X gamers, with plans to release a new Gaming Software for Mac OS X that lets users configure their Logitech gaming mice and keyboards to optimize performance and play.
It’s unclear what this type of software will do specifically, as it hasn’t been announced yet, but the most obvious conclusion is that the OS X software will configure the lights and controls of various gaming mice and keyboards sold by Logitech.
The idea of private space tourism is certainly taking off, but at such high costs, only 1 percent of the 1 percent will be able to afford it. But, what if you could just do it all yourself? You’re going to need some infrastructure to get you started, and luckily, NASA is reportedly looking to lease or sell off some Kennedy Space Center assets it no longer needs. While that list has not been made public, it apparently includes Launch Pad 39A, a landing strip, the Launch Control Center, and various other high-tech equipment and buildings from its late shuttle program. NASA also wants some quick deals before anything falls into disrepair, so if you’re serious about your new space venture, you might be able to snag a bargain or two with some strategic low offers. Now you’ve just gotta wait for a cheap rocket deal to pop up on eBay and you’re good to go.
Via: The Loop
Source: Orlando Sentinel
One interesting development of the UltraViolet program has been Walmart / Vudu’s in-store disc-to-digital program, and now Best Buy is apparently ready to offer similar functionality, but within the comfort of one’s own home. The Best Buy-owned CinemaNow is flashing a Disc to Digital beta page that offers downloads of a player for Windows or Mac PCs that not only allows access to one’s UltraViolet library both online or offline, but also insert any DVD (no word on Blu-ray support yet) and convert it to an SD or HD UltraViolet copy. Forum posters report the pricing is equivalent to Walmart’s, although the list of supported titles is not exactly identical. Ultraviolet’s morass of logins and passwords hasn’t gotten any less complicated for digital copies from different studios yet, but in this case linking your account should be relatively simple. Hit the source links to download the apps and check out a list of movies available for conversion, assuming a cloud HDX copy of 2 Fast 2 Furious for $ 5 is something you find appealing.
Following the controversy over recently-unveiled changes to its terms of service, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom just announced via blog post that the advertising-related section of the TOS has reverted to “the original version that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010.”
The Facebook-owned photo service had already hinted that this was coming, with Systrom saying that the team was listening to user concerns and that there would be changes to the TOS to make it clear that “it is not our intention to sell your photos.”
An anonymous reader writes in with a story about speculation that Japan might restart its nuclear power program. “Japan’s newly-elected Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), a strong supporter of atomic energy use in the past, should restart plants shut after the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, said the CEO of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd . The LDP, headed by Japan’s next prime minister Shinzo Abe, won a landslide victory on Sunday, fueling speculation that the new coalition government would take a softer stance on nuclear power. Public opinion remains divided on the role of atomic energy after natural disasters last year triggered a radiation crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.”
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Seoul-based accelerator Kstartup just announced that it’s partnering with the Google for Entrepreneurs program. In fact, according to Kstartup co-founder and partner David Lee, this is Google’s first such partnership in Asia.
Lee was an early Googler (one of the first 200 employees), as well as a partner at SK Telecom Ventures and co-founder of XG Ventures. (He’s not the David Lee at SV Angel.) Through the partnership, he said Google will provide an undisclosed amount of funding to help with Kstartup’s operations. It’s a three-month program, providing free office space in the Gangnam district (“Psy not included“), as well as business and technical mentorship. Lee said he’s also raising a fund to make seed investments in the Kstartup companies, but that’s separate from the Google partnership.
YouTube is launching the next round of its YouTube NextUp program with collaboration in mind. YouTube will choose 30 creators who have decided to partner up and create videos together, and will provide them with funding, equipment, and some classes to help jump start their work together.
RIM has announced new updates to its developer program today that it hopes will drive enthusiasm for its BlackBerry 10 platform. One of the big changes to the developer program is that the BlackBerry Dev Alpha program has been expanded to include a new BlackBerry Dev Alpha C test device for developers. The interesting aspect
David Hume writes “The Los Angeles Times has a story about the two-year University of Tulsa Cyber Corps Program. About ’85% of the 260 graduates since 2003 have gone to the NSA, which students call “the fraternity,” or the CIA, which they call “the sorority.”‘ ‘Other graduates have taken positions with the FBI, NASA and the Department of Homeland Security.’ According to the University of Tulsa website, two programs — the National Science Foundation’s Federal Cyber Service: Scholarship for Service and the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) Information Assurance Scholarship Program — provide scholarships to Cyber Corps students.”
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Sony has announced the launch of the PlayStation Mobile Developer Program, allowing developers to create content for PlayStation Mobile. This comes after the PlayStation Mobile launch back in October, a platform where users can play games on PlayStation Certified devices, including the Vita and certain Android smartphones. With the launch of the Developer Program, users
LeWeb Paris is less than a month away and conference organizers Loic and Geraldine Le Meur just posted this year’s schedule. The theme of the event, which is scheduled to run from December 4th to 6th, is “The Internet of Things.” There is a clear focus on connected hardware, with speakers like Nest‘s Tony Fadell and Fitbit‘s James Park, as well as representatives from companies like Lifx Lightbulbs and Lockitron.
jbernardo writes “Nokia has put in deep freeze its free developer program, the launchpad. Now, in the Developer Programs page, one can only see a pitch for a paid ‘Nokia Premium Developer Program,’ and below, in the Nokia Developer Pro and Developer Launchpad box, there is a text merely stating that Nokia are not currently accepting new applications for Nokia Developer Launchpad and Nokia Developer Pro programs. With most (if not all) Launchpad memberships already expired, seems like Nokia no longer is interested in the developer community, which once was one of the mainstays of its domination of the smartphone market. Of course, that domination was destroyed by Elop and its ‘burning platforms’ memo, together with the failed bet on Windows Phone 7, so maybe giving up on developers would also be expectable.”
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The University of Michigan is establishing a research program designed to make sure the federal government bases decisions in its billion-dollar battle to clean up the Great Lakes on solid scien…
It’ll soon be possible to hack Baxter—a new kind of industrial robot—to do just about anything. Let the mayhem commence.
Robotics pioneer Rodney Brooks believes his super-smart industrial robot, Baxter, could have a big impact on academic research. Speaking on stage at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference yesterday, Brooks said his company, Rethink Robotics, plans to release a software development kit (SDK) for Baxter in January.
Japan’s NTT Docomo Launches $125M Incubator Fund And Program To Accelerate Homegrown Mobile Innovation
Good news for Japanese startups: Japan’s largest mobile carrier, NTT Docomo, has announced a $ 125 million investment fund and incubator program for smartphone and tablet related startups — to be called the Docomo Innovation Fund and the Docomo Innovation Village — both due to kick off at the end of March 2013.
How bad is the fight to get more users in mobile apps? Tough enough that TinyCo, an Andreessen Horowitz-backed mobile gaming company, is doing a revenue share with developers that successfully drive them traffic.
Okay, this definitely won’t be the first time HTC’s own Nexus handset will be experiencing a trip that most of us won’t ever have the chance to replicate. But in 2013 the Nexus One will travel deeper into the void than it’s ever been before. As it was in 2010, the upcoming Nexus One launch plan is also part of NASA’s nano-satellite-building program (aka PhoneSat) and, according to HTC, this will mark the culmination of years of intensive testing — which consisted of putting the former Android flagship through thermal-vacuum chambers, extreme vibration tests and high-altitude balloon flights. The Taiwanese phone maker didn’t specify when exactly the Nexus One’s out-of-this-world adventure will take place, but we do know the newfangled One X+ is already being touted as a potential candidate to climb aboard a Jupiter-bound spaceship in the coming future.
While Boxee’s oddly shaped set-top box is still its main claim to fame, it’s been testing a cloud-based video hosting / sharing service for several months in closed beta. We got a peek at Cloudee, which could evolve into additional features for the Boxee Box some day, back then but you could get your own peek as Boxee is recruiting new (US-based only, for now) blood for its Early Access program. According to the Facebook posting you could get to test some new things for the Boxee and Cloudee projects, so if you’re a fan in need of storage and like living on the cutting edge, hit the source link for a shot at joining in.
MarkWhittington writes “A recent story in The Atlantic reminds us that the Apollo program, so fondly remembered in the 21st Century, was opposed by a great many people while it was ongoing, on the theory that the money spent going to the moon would have been better spent on poverty programs. The problem with this view was that spending for Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society dwarfed the Apollo program, that the programs in the Great Society largely failed to address poverty and other social ills, and that the Apollo program actually had a stimulative effect on the economy that fostered economic growth and created jobs by driving the development of technology,”
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Apple has launched a program on their own website called Reuse and Recycling in which they’re more than willing to take your iPhone 4S for a gift certificate in their store. Of course the main reason a lot of people will be doing this is that once the iPhone 5 (or whatever it’ll be called)
coondoggie writes “Scientists at DARPA say there are some 1,300 satellites worth over $ 300B sitting out in Earth’s geostationary orbit (GEO) that could be retrofitted or harvested for new communications roles and it designed a program called Phoenix which it says would use a squadron ‘satlets’ and a larger tender craft to grab out-of-commission satellites and retrofit or retrieve them for parts or reuse.” This program incorporates a design challenge aspect, in which various teams compete to design systems to effect the actual capture. From the article: “In the Zero Robotics challenge, three finalist teams emerged from a series of four, one-week qualifying rounds: “y0b0tics!” (Montclair, NJ); “The Catcher in the Skye” (Sparta, NJ); and “Nitro” (Eagleville, PA). Then in June the teams gathered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to watch via video link as their algorithms were tested on board the ISS, DARPA said. The algorithms were applied across three situations in which the SPHERES satellite simulated an active spacecraft approaching an object tumbling through space. In each scenario, at least one of the teams was able to approach the tumbling target and remain synchronized within the predefined capture region, DARPA said.”
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
One of the main surprises of Google’s Fiber announcement in Kansas City last week was that the company also plans to provide its own TV service to the residents of its ‘fiberhoods.’ There are some issues with Google’s Fiber TV service, including the fact that it seems to be missing quite a bit of content, but it’s definitely looking to be a very competitive offering. To make all of this work, however, Google apparently needed to license a number of patents. As digital entertainment technology provider Rovi announced today, Google has signed a multi-year licensing agreement with the company that provides Google with a license to Rovi’s “interactive program guide patent portfolio for set-top boxes, as well as online and mobile platforms.”