TechMan Texts: Prime price raise easy to swallow

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Amazon has announced an increase for its Prime service from $79 a year to $99 a year, the first increase since 2005 when the service began.

Of course, the announcement set off a chorus of whining and threats to cancel. But TechMan begs to differ.

I have always thought that the $79 Prime membership was one of the best deals around. Not only do you get free two-day shipping on many items, but also over 40,000 movies and television episodes accessible for streaming through Amazon's Prime Instant online video and access to over 500,000 Kindle titles available at the Kindle Owners' lending library.

At $99 it is still a good deal. What else can you name that has not gone up in price in eight years? Several weeks ago Amazon said that it was considering a price rise of $20 to $40. The actual 25 percent increase was at the low end of that range.

Snipe away: The war between Netflix and the big Internet service providers goes on, according to CNNMoney.

CNNMoney reports that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings sounded off last week against the big ISPs like Verizon and Comcast, accusing them of compromising Internet freedom and degrading the experience of consumers. At issue is net neutrality — whether all Internet users should be treated the same or whether big bandwidth users like Netflix should pay more.

CNNMoney reports that the issue came to a head this year following news that Netflix streaming speeds for customers of ISPs including Verizon and Comcast were slowing, as these firms attempted to force Netflix to pay a fee to keep the speed up. Netflix struck a deal with Comcast recently and Mr. Hastings said it is "reluctantly" engaging with talks with Verizon.

Earlier this year, Verizon won a court case to strike down the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality regulations. The FCC is crafting new ones.

Tin TED talks: The newest task for winning the X-Prize had been announced and it is far-reaching — make a robot that can take the stage and give an 18-minute TED speech. The TED (Technology, Education and Design) Conference invites intellectual leaders to give speeches on a topic of their choosing. They face a tough audience because many of the leaders in technology and other fields attend the conference. The first $10 million prize was offered to the private team that could build and fly a three-passenger vehicle 100 kilometers into space twice within two weeks, according to Wikipedia. It was won by Mojave Aerospace Ventures.

Happy not to see you: Cloak is a new app that wants to keep other people from being able to find you, according to Brian Moore kept running into an ex-girlfriend and so decided to create an "antisocial" app that used GPS to send you an alert to duck or cover when someone you don't want to see is in your area.

Hitting the books: The University System of Maryland is experimenting with "open-source" electronic textbooks to spare students the outrageous cost of some books for class.

Unlike electronic versions of textbooks sold by publishers, open-source textbooks are made up of materials gathered from various sources and are not protected by copyright, according to The Baltimore Sun. They are often designed to be interactive, with links to source material and multimedia elements. The materials are licensed openly, so anyone with an Internet connection can access them. 

Eleven professors are either writing or assembling the textbooks, according to the Sun.

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