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  1. A new study has revealed the current appetite for 'pirate' content in Sweden. With 29% of adults viewing an estimated 280 million movies and TV shows illegally each year, people are now more likely to stream than download. However, legal services are doing even better, with 71% using Netflix and similar services. As the spiritual home of The Pirate Bay and the birthplace of some of the world’s most hardcore file-sharers, Sweden has definitely earned its place in the history books. If Swedes can be converted to legal offerings, just about anyone can, one might argue. A new study just published by the Film and TV Industry Cooperation Committee (FTVS) in collaboration with research company Novus reveals some interesting trends on local media consumption habits. Covering both legal and illegal services, the survey is based on 1,003 interviews carried out between Feb 27 and March 9 2015 among citizens aged 16 to 79-years-old. Legal and illegal consumption On the legal TV and movie consumption front, Sweden appears to be doing well. A decent 71% of respondents said they buy services such as Netflix and HBO, with a quarter using such services every day and 35% watching several times each week. In comparison, 29% of all respondents admitted to using illegal services to watch film and television. Perhaps unsurprisingly the activity is most prevalent among the young, with 60% of 16 to 29-year-olds confessing to using pirate sites. The survey found that around 280 million movies and TV shows are watched illegally in Sweden each year, with respondents indicating they would have paid for around a third of those if illegal services weren’t available. With torrents extremely popular around Europe, it’s interesting to note that downloading of content is now taking second place to online streaming. The survey found that 19% of respondents stream content illegally, while 17% download. When users engage in both streaming and downloading, streaming is the more popular activity. The study notes that dual users (those that use both legal and illegal services) watch every third movie or TV show illegally, an average of four films and seven TV shows every month. Attitudes The survey also polled respondents on their attitudes to piracy. Six out of ten respondents said they think that using ‘pirate’ sites to watch movies and TV shows is “wrongâ€. Four out of ten agreed, but previously used these services anyway. On the thorny question of what to do about piracy, respondents were asked what they thought would be the best solution. Somewhat conveniently for an anti-piracy focused report, 43% of respondents indicated that ISPs should play a part in reducing the numbers of user visiting illegal services, with 24% opting for site blocking measures and 19% suggesting a warning notice scheme. However, when it comes to the heavy hand of the law, a minority of respondents show an interest. Just 10% believe that boosting law enforcement and judicial resources will solve the problem while a tiny 4% think that harsher punishments will bring results. Commenting on the report, Per Strömbäck of FTVS says that the situation in Sweden is far from satisfactory. “There is a common misconception that piracy is less of a problem today because we have a wide range of legal options. On the contrary, the problem of illegal services is greater than ever,†Strömbäck says. “The situation is not sustainable. For us to be able to continue to produce, distribute and show films and TV audiences want to see and pay for, we need a functioning digital market and measures to stop the illegal competition.†With site blocking firmly on the agenda in Sweden, entertainment industry groups will be pinning their hopes on success in the courts since there is clearly no appetite for punishing the public. https://torrentfreak.com/study-swedes-view-280m-pirate-movies-tv-shows-annually-150606/
  2. An enterprising New England-based physics professor is studying black holes using video game hardware. Dr. Gaurav Khanna, a black hole physicist at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, has strapped together PlayStation 3s, around 200 of them, to build a "supercomputer" that he's using to research and study vibrations in space-time called gravitational waves. His work at the university's Center for Scientific Computing and Visualization Research began in 2007 when he linked 16 PS3 systems to model black hole collisions. Now, he's going further, using the 200 PS3s to build a supercomputer capable of handing large numbers of processes. Khanna explained in an interview with The New York Times that "science has become expensive," and building a supercomputer out of PS3s made sense due to the console's technical capabilities (they can also run custom operating systems) and low cost relative to more traditional options. Sony Computer Entertainment America is a supporter of Khanna's enterprising research methods, even donating four PS3s to aid in his research. Khanna's PS3-powered supercomputer network uses the Linux operating system. The consoles he's using must be early models, as Sony disabled the PS3's "Install Other OS" feature in May 2013, citing security concerns. This isn't the first instance of a PS3 supercomputer. In 2011, scientists at the Air Force Research Labnetworked 1,716 systems to create what they at the time called one of the world's largest, fastest, and least expensive supercomputers. We may not see as many PS3-powered supercomputers in the future, however. Due to the system's memory limitations, future supercomputers are likely to be powered by PCs with beefy graphics cards, Khanna explained. "The next supercomputer we're going to build will probably be made entirely of these cards," he explained. "It won't work for everything, but it will certainly cover a large set of scientific and engineering applications, especially if we keep improving on it." The author of The New York Times story, Laura Parker, is a former GameSpot editor.
  3. Pew study says online gaming is less welcoming to women than online dating sites, social networking channels, and comments sections. The Pew Research Center has released a new study about online harassment, and among the findings is that, of major online environments, gaming is the least welcoming for women. The study surveyed around 3,000 Internet users (both male and female), and only 3 percent of respondents said that online gaming was more welcoming toward women, compared to 44 percent who felt it was more welcoming toward men. "Most online environments are seen as equally welcoming toward men and women; the exception is online gaming," Pew wrote. Other online environments featured in the study included online dating sites/apps, social networking sites/apps, comments sections, and online discussion sites. You can see how the online gaming category compares to the others in the chart below. Pew also shared some of the responses that participants provided in the open-ended question section of the survey. Harassment through online gaming mostly was attributed to "sore losers" and name-calling, the research group said, adding that "many" respondents "easily brushed off the negativity." Below are some of the responses that Pew shared: "Someone was a sore loser in an online game and hurled threats and insults." "Nothing bad just someone didn't like how I was playing a game. The good thing is, on the computer, you can just leave!" "When someone is losing a game, the opponent will abruptly leave but not without calling me or others a vulgar name or comment." "A standard bully-type came into a video game broadcast that a friend of mine and I run and made offensive comments at the two of us, mostly referring to our breasts." "This happens too regularly in online games to remember a specific occurrence." This study comes as the topic of women in gaming has made headlines of late. Over the summer,Assassin's Creed publisher Ubisoft caught flak for its explanation as to why Assassin's Creed Unity has no playable female characters, while Magicka publisher Paradox said the industry should not shy away from talking about the topic. On top of that, another new study showed that the percentage of female game developers has more than doubled since 2009 to 22 percent, according to the latest data. In terms of the bigger picture, the Pew study found that 73 percent of adult Internet users have witnessed someone being harassed in some way, while 40 percent have personally experienced harassment. You can read the full report at Pew's website here. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  4. It’s true: people spend more time looking at their smartphone screens nowadays than the world around them, but there’s an interesting world behind touch screens that consumes users too easily these days. A new study says that we should thank Facebook, Google, Pandora, Apple, and Yahoo for our touch screen addictions. Really. In that order. The new addicting mobile apps study, conducted by user survey company ComScore, says that Yahoo’s Finance app and Apple’s 3D Maps app place in the top 10 most-used mobile apps, but rank at the bottom of the top 10. Internet radio service Pandora, Facebook’s Instagram, and Google’s Play Store and Gmail stand in the middle. At the top of the most-used mobile apps chain stands Google’s YouTube (second place), used by 84 million users monthly, and social networking site Facebook (first place), with 115 million users monthly. Google’s search app also ranks in the most-used mobile apps list with 70 million users monthly. ComScore’s study shows that, indeed, there are five Google apps that make the most-used mobile apps list (YouTube, Gmail, Google search, Google Play, Google Maps), while Facebook has two that make the list (Facebook app, Instagram). Apple, Pandora, and Yahoo do not compete in the most-used mobile apps contest, though they provide respectable contributions in the world of tech that can’t (and shouldn’t) be overlooked. At the same time, however, some explanation should be given for these results. Google Maps, Gmail, YouTube and Google search are popular apps on both Android and iOS, but this is because Google’s search engine has been around for as long as many twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings can remember. Apple’s made Bing its default search engine in iOS 7, but a number of iOS users can’t escape the search engine dependence they’ve had with Google for many years. Google Maps is one of the best (if not the best) maps applications in the world, and Apple Maps, as improved as they may be, will need a few years (if not longer) to get where Google Maps is in its current state. Apple drummed up its own Maps app to “wean†iOS users off Google Maps, but eventually had to recommend Google Maps as an alternative maps solution after the Apple Maps Fiasco with a few “disappearing†streets and landmarks. At the same time, however, Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Gmail are utility apps – mobile apps that users need on a daily basis for directions and email. On Android, Gmail is the current default email app (compliments of Android owner Google). The same can be said for Google’s Play Store. The reason why the Play Store is so popular is because 1) there are far more Android users worldwide than iOS users, and 2) Google won’t allow other app stores onto Android. The whole reason behind why Google and Samsung arrived at a cross-licensing agreement back in February after Mobile World Congress 2014 pertains to Samsung’s Magazine UX and Google’s belief that Samsung’s Magazine UI was “hiding†Google services. In other words, there’s not much room in Android for anyone but Google. This is not to downplay the results given regarding the Play Store, but the presence of the Play Store in the top 10 apps should be put into perspective. If the iOS App Store made it into the top ten most-used mobile apps, for example, we wouldn’t be surprised. Where do users go in the mobile world to find, purchase, and download new apps, anyway? There are two confirmations that stand out in ComScore’s study. First, YouTube stands second in the most-used mobile apps on mobile – a trend that Google is looking to continue with its new YouTube Music Key and Play Music Key service that will grant users access to both Google Play’s unlimited music as well as YouTube’s offline and audio playback services (along with the original video-viewing experience) for $9.99 monthly (total). This study should prove encouraging to Google, although it’s not surprising to Android users who can’t think of any other online service that can rival YouTube. Last but never least stands Pandora as the undisputed top Internet radio service on the Web – meaning that the company’s Internet radio service has proven to be more of a hit than Spotify (its closest competitor) and iTunes Radio. Google seems interested in tackling the Internet radio arena and has acquired Songza (from what we know), but we’ve heard nothing about Songza recently. Samsung’s Milk Music Internet radio service is an excellent one, but Samsung never intended for it to be a top contender (after all, the company only allows its own smartphones and tablets to access the service). With Google taking five of the top ten slots, what’re the rest of Mountain View’s competitors to do? With Google owning Android, the most popular OS worldwide, we don’t see Google’s sweeping mobile campaign coming to an end anytime soon.
  5. Commentary: Even the journal that published the results of Facebook's manipulation of news feeds has expressed concern. But Facebook seems to be saying "Come on, stop complaining." Not everyone can laugh off Facebook's psych study.By now, you'll have been rigorously checking your moods every day and comparing them to the content of your Facebook News Feed. You'll have been purchasing the most sophisticated wearable tech you can find, so that it can help you monitor the every beat of your pulse and, hopefully, mental rhythms. Once it emerged that Facebook had messed with 689.003 news feeds to see how that would play with the moods and minds of Facebook users, a certain amount of human discomfort was expressed. And earlier this week, even the journal that published the results -- the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences -- expressed its misgivings. As the Guardian reports, the journal admitted that Facebook doesn't have to adhere to scientific principles. It's merely a private company. Moreover, it's a private company to which billions of people have freely -- and for free -- given their private information. However, the PNAS' editor in chief, Inder Verma, said: "It is nevertheless a matter of concern that the collection of the data by Facebook may have involved practices that were not fully consistent with the principles of obtaining informed consent and allowing participants to opt out." Oh, but tech companies have never been keen on anyone opting out. This concept would allow people to have free will, as opposed to being sitting ducks for whatever purpose the likes of Facebook and Google might have in mind. In their own expressions of concern, Facebook has seemed not to understand that the revelation of its research methods is a revelation of how the company thinks about its users. "We never meant to upset you," uttered by COO Sheryl Sandberg, seems a curiously inadequate reaction to the news that Facebook believes there is nothing fundamentally wrong with mind-messing for unexplained purposes and entirely in secret. There's something oddly myopic about a company complaining that government does things in secret, while itself considering it is perfectly at will to do the same. Worse, a former Facebook data scientist, Andrew Ledvina, revealed that this research project was similar to many undertaken by the company. You wonder, therefore, whether it's appropriate for the company to muse along the likes of: "Oh, come on, this was nothing. Stop complaining." At heart, Facebook is its own sort of monopoly. It's those who use it who have created that. The natural laziness and sheeplike quality of humans -- and the lack of any realistic competition -- has meant that Facebook has become the world's marketplace, where everyone meets and chats, while buying their vegetables and video games. Now that Facebook is less a commercial service and more a public utility, perhaps this is a good time to consider government regulation. There's always a great keenness on the part of both Google and Facebook to insist that they are trustworthy. Sadly, their behavior suggests that perhaps that trust hasn't been earned. Too often, these companies prefer blind eyes and deaf ears. After all, the 689,003 people whose minds were manipulated still don't know it happened. http://www.cnet.com/news/after-psych-study-facebooks-mood-shows-disconnect/