Best Desktop iTunes Controller: iTunes

There are many Mac applications which will sit on your desktop and display cover art as well as give some controls such as play/pause, next, etc. But since the recent release of iTunes 10, one application does this better than any other, and that’s iTunes itself.

Tiny New Apple TV Costs $99, 99-Cent TV Rentals Confirmed

At this morning’s Apple press event, CEO Steve Jobs announced a new Apple TV that’s a quarter of the size of the original box, with all-HD content, cloud storage and Netflix and YouTube access. The $229 price is dropping to $99, with pre-orders available today.

Veoh Assets Sold to Qlipso

Los Angeles-based social video start-up Qlipso has bought the assets of San Diego-based video sharing site Veoh, according to a report from Socaltech.com. Veoh’s web site already reflects the change of ownership, stating: “Now part of qlipso, so you can share the fun!” Details of the transaction have not been revealed, and Qlipso didn’t return a request for comment.
Veoh filed for bankruptcy in February. The site competed with YouTube (s GOOG) early on and raised more than $70 million in funding, but suffered from a number of strategic missteps along the way, including the focus on a desktop player and exorbitant spending of up to $4 million per month on staff and infrastructure. A copyright infringement lawsuit brought against it by the Universal Music Group didn’t really help to turn things around, either.
Qlipso offers users the ability to combine web videos and other media assets to playlists, personalize these playlists with 3-D avatars and share them in a live web chat. The company has apparently gone through a number of iterations and was previously also know as Icontaqt, 2Peer and Playr. It is backed by Jerusalem Venture Partners and led by CEO Jon Goldman, who previously co-founded the video game developer Foundation 9 Entertainment.
Related content on GigaOm Pro: Viacom v. YouTube: All Over But the Shouting (subscription required)

Scion Invites Car N00bs to Reinvent the Wheels

[show=reinventwheels size=large]There are people who will stop and stare at a beautifully made car the same way that dog people fawn over a passing puppy and jerks pause at the sight of a young lady in Spandex. I am not any of those people. I am, however, one of those people who notices when posters and billboards for a web series start popping up around town, which lead me in this case to Reinvent the Wheels. Sponsored by Scion, this six-episode series follows three contestants (referred to as “creatives”) who are partnered with auto shops to help them create their dream cars.

Conceptually, there’s a lot that doesn’t really work here. After all, the joy of a show like Project Runway (to which Reinvent the Wheels compares itself) is that those competing have trained hard in their chosen professions, and you know that each week, you’ll get a glimpse into talented people executing their craft under extreme circumstances.

However, the “creatives” who pitched their ideas in the hopes of winning $30,000 and a brand-new car were comprised of two DJs, two filmmakers, a make-up artist and a pastry chef. Read More about Scion Invites Car N00bs to Reinvent the Wheels

Vid-Biz: HBO, Blockbuster, Lady Gaga

HBO In Discussions For ‘TV Everywhere’ Deals; Eric Kessler, co-president of HBO, said that the programmer is engaged in conversations with a number of different distributors to enable authenticated subscribers to access content from multiple touch points. (Multichannel News)

Blockbuster Dips a Toe in the Mobile Stream; the company released an application that allows users to watch any of the 10,000 titles of its digital catalog on mobile devices. (NY Times Bits Blog)

Lady Gaga First to Hit 1B Video Views; Visible Measures reports that Lady Gaga’s music videos have cumulatively carried her beyond the 1 billion online-views threshold, becoming the first performer to do so. (CNET)

Blip.tv Doubles Video Views, Scores with New Ad Formats; the online video network for independent producers generated 85 million video views in February 2010, double the amount from a year ago. (VideoNuze)

Sky Player Extends Connected TV Options; Sky will launch its online TV service on a new range of connected TVs and set-top boxes after striking agreements with Cello and 3 View. (Broadband TV News)

Turner Sports Goes Interactive for NBA game; Turner Sports will offer a package of technologies during an NBA game on Thursday, including Twitter, multi-camera coverage online and a live chat in a move to attract fans watching on TV, the Internet and cellphones. (Reuters)

The Guild Gets Melancholy in Comic Book Form

Looks like in the case of The Guild, the gestation of a comic book project is about the same as a human pregnancy. Nine months after announcing that she’d be writing a Guild comic book for Dark Horse Comics, Felicia Day’s first foray into the world of panels and talk bubbles has hit comic store shelves.

While there’s no denying that the crossover between web video watchers and comic book readers exists — if it didn’t, there wouldn’t be much point at all to the comics review/interview series A Comicbook Orange — there’s also no denying that this is a new medium and thus a new audience to engage. Fortunately for newcomers to the world of The Guild, the series isn’t a continuation of the web series’s third season; instead, it’s an origin story exploring just how all the members of the series’ eclectic gang came together.

Reading it this morning, the most surprising thing I found about the first issue is that for a comic inspired by an multi-award-winning comedy, it’s actually pretty sad. The reason is that right away, we’re thrust head-first into the head of Cyd, not quite yet known as Codex (who Day plays in the series), and it’s not a happy place. Cyd, as we meet her, is struggling with an insensitive boyfriend, an unfulfilling job and the intense need to escape — problems her therapist is useless at solving, leaving her to find her own solution. Read More about The Guild Gets Melancholy in Comic Book Form

“Building Star” Proposed in Senate: $6B for Retrofits of Larger Building

Home Star, the White House-backed plan to provide billions of dollars in incentives for home energy retrofits, now has a sibling — this one focused on larger buildings. Two U.S. senators introduced a bill yesterday that would provide up to $6 billion in rebates and tax incentives for a broad range of energy-saving features added to existing commercial and multi-family buildings.
The bill, dubbed “Building Star” and  playing off the name of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, would cover about 30 percent of the cost of energy-related equipment and services including energy audits, building envelope insulation, mechanical equipment upgrades, lighting and energy management and monitoring equipment. If passed, the program is expected to save building owners more than $3 billion on their energy bills annually by reducing enough peak electricity demand to avoid the need for nearly three dozen 300 MW power plants, according to a statement by Sen. Jeff Merkley, a cosponsor of the bill.
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Building Green Homes Breaks Into the Mainstream in Northern Cali

Green buildings are still far from typical across the U.S., but signs are mounting that mainstream homebuilders are starting to take energy efficiency and other green features a lot more seriously. The latest evidence came earlier this week when KB Home (s KBH), one of the top five U.S. homebuilders, announced that all of its new developments in Northern California would be built to GreenPoint Rated standards, a green building rating system developed by Berkeley, Calif.-based Build It Green that grades homes based on energy efficiency, water and resource conservation, indoor air quality and more. “The early adopters were custom builders who championed the [GreenPoint Rated] standard,” David Myers, Build It Green’s communications and development manager, told us. “Now we’re seeing it move into the mainstream.”
The announcement marks the first commitment by a major homebuilder to construct all its homes in a region to the GreenPoint Rated standard, an important validation for the nonprofit that was established in 2004 (so far more than 10,000 single- and multi-family homes in California and Nevada have been or are being built to meet Build It Green’s green building criteria). But more importantly, the move shows that giant homebuilders are beginning to believe that there are enough mainstream buyers interested in green to warrant a shift toward building homes with features like highly insulated windows and walls and the use of recycled materials.
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EV Charging In China: ECOtality Secures $300M Credit Line From Chinese Partner

ECOtality’s executives better start practicing their Mandarin — China is fast becoming a major focus for the company. The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based charging infrastructure company, which says it was mentioned in Obama’s State of the Union address, announced Monday that its Chinese partner, Shenzhen Goch Investment, has just landed a $1.5 billion credit line, and that Shenzen Goch has committed $300 million of that credit line to finance sales of ECOtality’s electric vehicle (EV) charging systems to utilities, governments, and commercial and retail clients around the world.   
The credit line, offered by the China Construction Bank, will allow ECOtality to finance vehicle charging projects for its customers and reduce the upfront capital they otherwise would have needed to invest to get the projects moving. That, in turn, “will accelerate EV adoption worldwide,” CEO Jonathan Read said in a statement. Read said the deal would provide ECOtality with the capital needed “to become the dominant player in the EV marketplace with no current dilution to our shareholders.”
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