Category Archives: Wine

Buy tickets for concerts on TV with the new Comcast and Ticketmaster feature

Comcast and Ticketmaster are rolling out a feature to let Xfinity X1 customers search tour dates and begin the ticket buying process directly through their televisions — using voice search on their remotes.

The feature’s launch coincides with the first tickets going on sale for Kelly Clarkson’s new tour.

If users speak “Kelly Clarkson tour” into their voice remote, they’re sent to a dedicated Kelly Clarkson destination (which, surprisingly, isn’t a purgatory of bland pop power ballads).

To be clear, customers can’t actually complete an order using the voice tool. Instead they can get set to this destination where they will receive a prompt to buy tickets and then opt in to receive a text with a code that will enable them to buy tickets online.

If that sounds like an incredibly circuitous and unwieldy process to find tickets to concerts nearby for artists someone likes, that’s because it is.

Customers will see a promotional tile with an option to “get tickets” which will let them find a list of performances and corresponding dates at venues — powered by Ticketmaster’s API. Those customers can then opt to receive a text message with a code that they can use to complete the purchase online.

“Our team is always thinking of new ways to reach more fans by extending Ticketmaster’s open platform,” said Dan Armstrong, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Distributed Commerce for Ticketmaster in a statement. “This partnership with Comcast is a groundbreaking way to discover events and buy tickets.”

The new feature is certainly groundbreaking. It also seems extremely unnecessary.

For the Kelly Clarkson superfan, the X1 “experience” also includes the ability to stream her music through Pandora, watch music videos, and the singer’s appearances on The Voice — as well as watching clips from previous tours and see her web series A Glass of Wine.

“Fans can now go to Kelly Clarkson’s dedicated destination on X1 to enjoy her music and shop for tickets to her much-anticipated tour right on the TV via this seamless integration with Ticketmaster,” said Nancy Spears,  Vice President, Strategy & Execution at Comcast Cable, in a statement. “X1 enables us to unveil new and innovative experiences that complement and elevate content across the plaform and to add more value for customers by giving them more ways to interact with the events, entertainment, performers and brands they love.”

Valve’s “Steam Play” uses Vulkan to bring more Windows games to Linux

Valve announced today a beta of Steam Play, a new compatibility layer for Linux to provide compatibility with a wide range of Windows-only games.

We’ve been tracking Valve’s efforts to boost Linux gaming for a number of years. As of a few months ago, things seemed to have gone very quiet, with Valve removing SteamOS systems from its store. Last week, however, it became clear that something was afoot for Linux gaming.

The announcement today spells out in full what the company has developed. At its heart is a customized, modified version of the WINE Windows-on-Linux compatibility layer named Proton. Compatibility with Direct3D graphics is provided by vkd3d, an implementation of Direct3D 12 that uses Vulkan for high performance, and DXVK, a Vulkan implementation of Direct3D 11.

To improve the broader gaming experience, Valve says that fullscreen graphics, multithreading, and gamepad support have all received attention.

Once Steam Play is out of beta, developers of Windows games will be able to mark their games as being Steam Play compatible and hence offered for sale to Linux users. Valve has already tested and validated over two dozen traditional and VR games, including Doom (the original, 2016, and 2017-in-VR flavors), NieR: Automata, and Quake. While support for other games is being worked on (which users can vote for here), Steam Play testers can toggle an override switch to test any games that Valve has not internally whitelisted thus far.

GeekWire Calendar Picks: Underwater robotics contest; The future of wine; and more

Underwater robot. (MATE Photo)

How do you build an underwater robot that can locate an airplane wreckage and deliver its engine to the surface?

Some students, making up more than 70 teams, will have to answer that question at the MATE International Underwater Robotics Competition, taking place June 21 to 23 in Federal Way, Wash.

The competition challenges students from K-12 schools, community colleges and universities to build and test remotely operated vehicles — the underwater robots — in simulated real-world missions. The students must also work to manufacture, market, and sell the products.

Students qualified for the international competition by either competing in one of 30 regional competitions or by submitting video demonstrations.

This year’s competition is themed around its location: Washington. The theme, “Jet City: Aircraft, Earthquakes and Energy,” references Seattle’s reputation as an aerospace hub as well as the region’s hydroelectric power and risk of strong earthquakes.

The competition will take place at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way from June 21 to 23. It’s also being livestreamed on the MATE website. Find out more about the competition and how to watch it here.

That’s one of the highlights from our GeekWire community calendar, the spot for geek and tech events in Seattle and the greater Pacific Northwest. See the full calendar here, submit your event here and keep reading for more suggested events over the next few weeks.

Rising Stars: Fresh Faces

What: “Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center and the World Trade Center Seattle are proud to present “Rising Stars: Fresh Faces.” The future of wine is now with these young (aged 45 years and younger), but proven, winemakers in Washington state. Meet these winemakers, sample their wines, and purchase to support their endeavors of producing top-quality wine. Winemakers and wineries include: Jeremy Santo of Mercer Wine Estates, Jessica Munnell of Wautoma Springs, Chris Sherry of Elentone (bubbles!), Victor Palencia of la Monarcha/Palencia Wines, and more.”

When: June 18, 4:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Where: World Trade Center Seattle

Get involved!

Cryptocurrency, Blockchain & Initial Coin Offering Expert Fireside Chat 

What: “Curious to learn more about the real story behind so-called “Initial Coin Offerings” (ICOs) or just interested in blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies generally?

Join us for a friendly fireside chat at Summit Law Group PLLC with Lewis Cohen and Angela Angelovska-Wilson, two of our nation’s leading cryptotechnology attorneys. Lewis and Angela, who recently came together to form DLx Law, have experience in the space dating back to 2008 and have worked on numerous token sales and other blockchain projects.”

When: June 21, 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Where: Summit Law Group

Get involved!

What: “The CleanTech Innovation Showcase is the Northwest’s premier full day event focused on the latest cleantech innovations, ideas and initiatives. The event attracts 400+ industry leaders, investors, researchers and policymakers from across the U.S. and Canada. Throughout the day there are opportunities to hear from keynote speakers and panels on the future of the industry, tips to attracting investors, the latest technology trends and more. Twenty-four presenting companies and organizations will also share their latest technology developments, sustainability efforts and other opportunities for partnership. The 2018 Cascadia CleanTech Accelerator cohort, comprised of early-stage startups, will also share their work and opportunities for investment.”

When: June 25, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Where: Bell Harbor International Conference Center

Get involved!

What: “The Washington State Toy and Geek Fest is a fan celebration of all things toy, pop culture, and fun under one roof. It will be a weekend of family-friendly entertainment, vendors, costumes, Star Wars, gaming competitions, cosplay contests, Transformers, comic books, artists, authors, dinosaurs, military displays, robots, anime, superheroes, and lots of entertainment for kids. Over 16 celebrities have signed to appear at the event of the Summer.

An event to bring new and vintage toys, comic books, video games, movies, relevant celebrities, and anything pop culture together under one roof for a fun weekend in Pierce County.”

When: June 30, 8 a.m. – July 1, 5 p.m.

Where: Washington State Fair Events Center

Get involved!

What: “To support continued skill development, portfolio project enhancements, and networking for the greater Seattle development community, we are launching a weekly Programming Night at Code Fellows in collaboration with JS Hack Night and PuPPY. This event will be open to the following audiences: Current Code Fellows students, seeking graduates (Career Accelerator Participants), and alumni; PuPPY Group Members; JS Hack Night Members; Individuals interested in getting into coding; and Experienced developers who want to mentor and give back to the community.”

When: July 10, 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Where: Code Fellows Seattle

Get involved!

How can you drink Champagne in zero-G? Winemaker builds a bottle to find out

Champagne in zero-G
A team sponsored by the Mumm Grand Cordon Stellar Project samples sparkling wine poured from a specially designed bottle aboard a zero-gravity airplane flight. (Maison Mumm Champagne via YouTube)

Will future spacefliers be able to drink a bit of celebratory bubbly in zero gravity? Leave it to a French winemaker to find out, using some out-of-the-box engineering.

Past studies have shown that carbonated beverages, ranging from soda pop to beer and wine, can turn into a sticky, gassy mess in microgravity. In a Quora Q&A, NASA engineer Robert Frost described the problems that were encountered when astronauts tried to quaff carbonated cola drinks aboard the space shuttle in the 1980s and 1990s:

“Soda in space is a bit problematic.  In microgravity, the light gas bubbles won’t rush to the top of the liquid and escape. They will stay within the liquid. This means the astronaut will consume significantly more gas drinking a soda in space than one would drinking a soda on the ground.  Drinking a carbonated beverage could be like drinking a foamy slurp.”

NASA did figure out how to design a relatively mess-free Coke dispenser, which pumped fluid into a collapsible bag under conditions that were precisely controlled for pressure and temperature.

More recently, Australia’s 4 Pines Brewing Company and Saber Astronautics set up an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to support the development of a beer brewed specifically for guzzling in zero-G, plus a custom-designed beer bottle and drinking vessel.

France’s Maison Mumm Champagne is taking a similarly ambitious route. It’s been working with Octave de Gaulle and his Spade space design agency to build a zero-G wine-drinking system from the ground up.

“For the last 40 years, space travel has been shaped by engineers rather than designers. Instead of seeing zero gravity as a problem to be solved, we look at it as a design possibility,” de Gaulle explained today in a news release. “The big design challenge for Mumm Grand Cordon Stellar was actually getting the liquid out of the bottle.”

The bottle is fitted with some internal plumbing as well as a ring-shaped frame around the lip. The design channels the pressurized fluid to create white, foamy balls of wine. As shown in a YouTube video, those globs can be flipped off the mouth of the bottle — then caught in the bowl of a shallow glass, thanks to surface tension.

Weightlessness brings a whole new dimension to the wine — as Didier Mariotti, Mumm’s cellar master, discovered when the team conducted taste tests during a parabolic airplane flight on Air Zero G.

“It’s a very surprising feeling,” Mariotti said. “Because of zero gravity, the liquid instantly coats the entire inside of the mouth, magnifying the taste sensations. There’s less fizziness and more roundness and generosity, enabling the wine to express itself fully.”

Mumm’s plan is to supply the Champagne package as an option for Air Zero G’s flights starting in September, and discuss future opportunities with commercial spaceship operators such as Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic.

Neither of those companies has talked about breaking out the champagne during spaceflight — but it’s hard to imagine Virgin Galactic’s flamboyant billionaire founder, Richard Branson, not wanting to.