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If you bought an original PlayStation 3, you could be $65 richer

Early adopters who bought a PlayStation 3 when it first came out, only to be dismayed by the lack of support for an actual computer operating system, have had their day in court at last. The final settlement may not be a million bucks, but it’s probably enough to buy a new PlayStation 4 game.

Back when PlayStation 3 debuted, Sony marketed it as a “computer” that would run Linux as well as play games. The Air Force even bought 1,700 of them to make their own supercomputer. The Linux thing never really panned out, so Sony quietly dumped the computer OS feature with a firmware update in 2010.

A class-action lawsuit ensued, and the case has dragged on for years. In 2016, Digital Trends reported on an agreement that would pay most purchasers $9, with some people receiving payments as high as $55.

A judge rejected that agreement, saying the settlement didn’t compensate PlayStation owners enough. More legal wrangling ensued, and now a final agreement has been reached that could get you as much as $65 if you purchased an original PlayStation 3.

CNET has a detailed summary of the settlement, where Sony has agreed to pay $3.75 million to settle the lawsuit. If you bought a “fat” PS3 between November 1, 2006 and April 1, 2010, you’re eligible for your part of the claim. The purchase had to be from an actual retailer, not some guy on eBay.

You need to submit your application by April 15, 2018. You can fill out the online claim form here. If you previously submitted a claim, you’ll be automatically included in this one as well.

You’ll need the serial number from your PS3, along with your PlayStation Network Online ID. You also have to complete an affidavit swearing that you knew about the Linux feature, and that your PS3 lost value when support was discontinued. You may need to include the retailer where you purchased the console as well.

The settlement only promises up to $65, as it depends on how many people submit the correct paperwork. Sony claims to have sold 10 million original PS3s, but only a fraction of them will go through the necessary steps to claim their payout.

As with most settlements of this type, by agreeing to accept payment you’re giving up your right to sue Sony in the future over this issue or negotiate your own settlement. You can find out more at the FAQ section of the settlement page.

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Should Spotify launch a record label?

Despite having more than 70 million subscribers and at least 140 million active users, Spotify isn’t profitable. During its IPO, the streaming service said it generated $4.99 billion in revenue in 2017, but still posted a loss of $1.5 billion. This is mostly due to the high licensing fees charged by the music industry. But one insider suggests that Spotify may be able to earn a profit by entering the record label business in the same way that Netflix starting producing original shows and movies.

Duncan Davidson, a general partner at Bullpen Capital, suggests that Spotify could break free from the music industry by operating its own record label. This could allow Spotify to reduce its dependence on the music industry by finding new artists, or striking up deals with existing ones. It would cost Spotify a lot of money, but Davidson believes Netflix has shown that such a model is workable.

“Netflix is now creating more content than all of Hollywood,” Davidson told Business Insider. “So if Spotify can end up finding more artists than the whole of the music industry, that would be quite amazing.”

Despite the fact that major media companies, most prominently Disney, are abandoning Netflix’s platform to start their own, the company has seen better-than-expected subscriber growth in both the U.S. and international markets. A big part of this growth can be attributed to the popularity of its original programming, such as Stranger Things

The television streaming service shows no signs of slowing down either. The company recently revealed a plan to spend $8 billion on 700 new forms of content this year. This has done well not only for Netflix’s subscriber numbers but its stock as well. The company’s stock is currently worth $318 a share.

Whether Spotify can create a similar model remains to be seen. If it were to succeed, however, it could greatly reduce the company’s licensing fees and bring in new subscribers on top of that. It might even give the music streamer more negotiating power with the established labels, allowing it to get a discount on licensing fees.

“It’s like a new way of doing what a music label does,” Davidson said. “If they can figure that out, they would be an extremely powerful company.”

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Amazon might offer a pickup service for Whole Foods and other retailers

Amazon-owned Whole Foods

Amazon has wasted no time in making the most out of its acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017. From slashing grocery prices to offering grocery delivery services, it would appear that the organic food store has had a full Amazon makeover. And now, we may have clues as to what is next for Whole Foods. Per a job posting first spotted by Puget Sound Business Journal, it would appear that the online retail giant is looking to offer a pickup service for both Whole Foods and a “marquee” of other stores.

While a pickup service in and of itself isn’t particularly novel (both Walmart and Kroger offer the same option for its customers), the move would continue to make Whole Foods more accessible to shoppers who might otherwise opt to shop at less expensive and more convenient grocery stores. More importantly, it seems that Amazon’s pickup service might also allow customers to order goods from third-party retailers, and simply use Whole Foods as a pickup spot for a wide variety of items.

The telltale job posting was for a finance manager, who would be tasked with building up the business “from scratch.” But perhaps after realizing that this may have given too much information away to folks like us, the job posting was deleted. The description previously noted that this individual would help to kick off  “the Whole Foods delivery and pick-up service on the ultra-fast Prime Now app and enable our Prime customers to shop from a set of marquee third-party retailers.”

Of course, Amazon has been historically tight-lipped on its business plans, and this situation is no different. The ecommerce giant has not yet responded to a request for comment. All the same, it certainly looks as though a pickup option is a logical next step. After all, it’s only been a few weeks since Amazon began offering two-hour grocery delivery from Whole Foods, a service which the company has quickly expanded to reach more areas of the U.S. So if you’re constantly on the lookout for ways to make your grocery runs more efficient, Whole Foods and Amazon may just have your back.

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A New York city becomes first in the U.S. to temporarily ban Bitcoin mining

The Plattsburgh, New York city council voted unanimously to introduce an 18-month ban on commercial Bitcoin mining operations within the city. The move comes after city residents complained of wildly inflated electricity bills caused by commercial Bitcoin mining operations taking advantage of the city’s low-cost power.

As Motherboard reports, the moratorium is aimed at new commercial Bitcoin-mining operations, so businesses already operating cryptocurrency mines in Plattsburgh will be able to continue doing business. It’s a stopgap designed to keep power bills for ordinary residents from continuing to grow.

“I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints that electric bills have gone up by $100 or $200,” Plattsburgh mayor Colin Read told Motherboard.

The moratorium is only for 18 months and it remains to be seen what will happen once it expires, but local Bitcoin-mining operations are watching these developments carefully. Some even agree that commercial operations should be charged more for using up the city’s cheap, plentiful hydroelectric power.

“I think it’s better to charge the miners more so that people in the city aren’t negatively impacted, than an outright ban. But still reasonably so, or companies won’t want to set up shop here,” said Dan Bowman, a bitcoin entrepreneur, told Motherboard. “I think middle ground should be sought so peoples electric rates don’t go up.”

The main thing that has drawn so many Bitcoin-mining operations to Plattsburgh has been the city’s proximity to a hydroelectric power plant. It’s the reason the city has some of the lowest power costs in the U.S. But those low prices only go so far. The city has an allotment of 104 megawatt-hours of electricity per month, and if it consumes more than that, the city has to buy power on the open market, at much higher rates. That is why notoriously power-hungry Bitcoin operations have inadvertently caused ordinary citizens’ power bills to skyrocket.

The largest mining operation in the city, Coinmint, reportedly used nearly 10 percent of the city’s power budget in January and February. To compensate without scaring off Bitcoin operations, Read suggested a number of potential solutions, including charging local commercial Bitcoin operations for any overages the cause the city to incur. Regardless of how the city ends up deciding to handle the problem of commercial Bitcoin operations sucking up power, looks like it has 18 months to do it.

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Power-gulping cryptocurrency miners now charged higher fees in New York

The New York State Public Service Commission said on Thursday, March 15 that upstate municipal power providers are now allowed to charge higher rates to cryptocurrency miners. The reason should be obvious: Companies and individuals digging for digital gold are consuming large amounts of power, which takes a toll on local power companies distributing electricity to residential homes and businesses. Thus, instead of raising everyone’s rates to fight the surge, companies can now single out miners. 

The New York Municipal Power Agency previously urged the Commission to crack down on “high-load” customers. The Agency serves as a voice for 36 municipal power companies across New York, some of which provide low-cost power via hydropower plants to customers without making a profit. It’s through these hydro-based channels where the impact is felt the most because miners are taking advantage of the low-cost energy. 

According to the commission, companies and individuals mining for digital coins are using “thousands of times” more electricity than the average customer. This may go unnoticed in large metropolitan areas, but small communities now face higher monthly payments because power companies need more funds to keep all customers illuminated while also compensating for the miners. 

“Cryptocurrency companies generally seek to occupy existing commercial or industrial facilities where they can gain access to the large amounts of power required for their operations,” the Commission states. “As some of these customers have come online, it has become clear that the type of electricity load demand was of a different character than load characteristics typically seen by NYMPA members.” 

Cryptocurrency miners, at least the large ones, can’t depend on a single PC. Instead, they build monstrosities with numerous graphics cards stringed to one machine. These machines consume large amounts of power to create digital money and maintain the currency’s platform. Throw numerous mining machines into a building and you have a cryptocurrency mining farm gobbling power each second. 

The commission notes that a single cryptocurrency mining “customer” can consume 33 percent of the local power company’s total load. Meanwhile, the agency points out that cryptocurrency companies and individuals don’t provide “capital investment” in the local community as seen with other customers that consume the same power load. They can also pack their bags and move to another area, causing “unpredictable electrical use” and “fluctuations” across the state. 

The agency’s current biggest beef appears to target at least three cryptocurrency companies residing in upstate New York. The large power consumption requires supplemental power for residents and other companies, thus driving up cost. This is where the demand comes in to create a new tariff targeting digital coin miners. 

“A new tariff focusing on high-density load customers that do not qualify for economic development assistance and have a maximum demand exceeding 300 kW and a load density that exceeds 250 kWh per square foot per year, a usage amount far higher than traditional commercial customers,” the commission explains. 

The price increase for these customers began this month while costs for everyone else will return to normal. The move arrives after one upstate New York city actually banned Bitcoin mining for 18 months over excessive use of the city’s low-cost power.

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