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Microsoft Enters the Documentary Business on Xbox Video

posted Friday Dec 20, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Microsoft Enters the Documentary Business on Xbox Video

When Microsoft made clear its intentions for original programming in 2014, everyone knew it would not be long before we would hear details about some of this programming. This week, Microsoft made good on those desires, announcing a new original documentary series exclusive to the Xbox platform.

The series will be produced by two-time Academy Award-winning producer Simon Chinn and Emmy-winning producer Jonathan Chinn. Simon Chinn described the project saying,

Our collaboration with Xbox offers an unparalleled opportunity to make a unique series of films around the extraordinary events and characters that have given rise to the digital age.

Jonathan Chinn added,

Our goal is to produce a series of compelling and entertaining docs which will deploy all the narrative techniques of Simon's and my previous work. It's particularly exciting to be partnering with filmmakers like Zak Penn who come to this process from other filmmaking disciplines and who will bring their own distinctive creative vision to this.

To ensure the gaming community will buy into the series, the first documentary in the line will be about the spectacular failure that was Atari and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, the game that ended it all. If this premise sounds familiar, you're right - this is the documentary of the excavation I wrote about in June, which will unearth what some believe is millions of copies of the disaster game.

In addition to the excavation, the film will feature all of the urban legends that have sprung up about the sudden and silent shutdown of the videogame company, along with the path that led up to the middle of the night burial of whatever is in the cement-covered Atari landfill. It will also highlight the ups and downs of the company that brought videogames into the modern common culture and the events that ultimately closed the doors.

In addition to this announced film, the series will feature many other films documenting the early days of our modern digital culture. What stories do you hope the Chinns will tell? Post your hopes in the comments section.

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BitTorrent Attempts to Hide You From NSA With New Chat

posted Friday Dec 20, 2013 by Scott Ertz

BitTorrent Attempts to Hide You From NSA With New Chat

Since Snowden originally revealed that, through PRISM and other programs, the US government has been spying on, well, everything that everyone does, security has become a hot topic. From encrypted email services to on-site cloud platforms, the fear of government snooping on the Internet has never been higher, and never before have so many people been trying to solve said problem.

One entry into the "Obama can't know what I'm thinking" line of products is from an organization known for wanting to keep their goings-on private: BitTorrent. The company has been working on a chat program which, rather than having a centralized chat relay server, BitTorrent Chat will use a peer-to-peer method. BitTorrent's Christian Averill explains,

With other chat tools, messages are sent through a central server, unencrypted as it passes through and stored before being re-encrypted and sent to it's final destination. Our key innovation is to build a tool for communications that does not need servers. A way for two people to connect directly with the threat of their privacy being violated.

Obviously he meant without the threat of their privacy being violated, but we will ignore that slight oversight. This will actually not be the first messenger to allow encrypted, peer-to-peer messaging, as Averill suggests; AOL Instant Messenger has allowed this for years. This will be the first time that accounts and initial contact will not be initiated through a centralized server, however.

According to the developer blog,

With BitTorrent Chat, there aren't any "usernames" per se. You don't login in the classic sense. Instead, your identity is a cryptographic key pair. To everyone on the BitTorrent Chat network at large, you ARE your public key. This means that, if you want, you can use Chat without telling anyone who you are. Two users only need to exchange each other's public keys to be able to chat.

Using public key encryption provides us with a number of benefits. The most obvious is the ability to encrypt messages to your sender using your private key and their public key. But in public key encryption, if someone gains access to your private key, all of your past (and future) messages could be decrypted and read. In Chat, we are implementing forward secrecy. Every time you begin a conversation with one of your contacts, a temporary encryption key will be generated. Using each of your keypairs, this key will be generated for this one conversation and that conversation only, and then deleted forever.

This means that, even if every chat is cached locally, each individual conversation would have to be decrypted uniquely. Since the chats will not be cached locally, the NSA or hackers would have to collect the conversations live, as they happen, and decrypt them with a unique key for each conversation. This is a great idea that leapfrogs the concept of Snapchat, which still stores all of the content that is transmitted, only hidden from the user, not the server.

Is a technology that is constantly changing to protect your data something you want or need? Is this a service you would start using if made widely available today? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

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YouTube Addresses Gameplay Issues, But Not Well

posted Friday Dec 20, 2013 by Scott Ertz

YouTube Addresses Gameplay Issues, But Not Well

After last week's ContentID disaster, it was expected that we would hear from YouTube regarding the issue. We expected that we would hear an apology for over-regulating content, though a strong protection statement for their process. We also expected to have a bit of an explanation about the nature of the sweeping flags.

What we got was different, however. There is no apology, there is no direct explanation about the higher-than-average flag rate for gaming content, nor the odd nature of the seemingly unrelated content ownership claims. What we got, instead, was a detailed explanation of what ContentID is, which we already knew, and a few possible suggestions on who might own the content you are being flagged for, even though the content owners have already given full privileges for monetized videos.

For example, did you know you might have music on in the room in the background? Or that, possibly, the music which is licensed for the game might be your problem? You might want to turn off your game soundtrack to make the gameplay videos, because that will be natural, organic content that people will want to watch.

How to explain a video with only original music created by the same person who uploaded the video being flagged for copyright violation is still at question, even after reading YouTube's message, which is available for you right here.

Hi from YouTube,

You might have heard about, or been impacted by an increase in copyright claims made on videos over the past week. We're getting in touch to explain what's happening and how you can get back to creating and monetizing great videos.

What's happening

Content ID is YouTube's system for scanning videos for copyrighted content and giving content owners choices on what they want us to do with them. Last week, we expanded the system to scan more channels, including those affiliated with a multi-channel network ("MCN"). As a result, some channels, including many gaming channels, saw claims appear against their videos from audio or video copyright holders.

Understanding Content ID claims

Keep in mind one video may contain multiple copyrighted works, any of which could potentially result in a claim. For example a record label may own music playing in the video (even in the background), a music distributor may own a game's soundtrack, or a game publisher may own in-game cinematic content.

Also, online rights are often resold to companies like music labels and aggregators. While you might not recognize the owner, this doesn't necessarily mean their claims are invalid.

Deciding what to do

When a claim is made, you'll see what's been claimed, who's claimed it, what type of claim it is (audio or video), and you can play back the part of your video that it matched. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to act on Content ID claims, and you can find out all your next steps, dispute options, and other troubleshooting resources here.

It's also important to know that most claims won't impact your account standing.

Tips for new videos

If you're creating videos with content from other people, remember that rights ownership can be complicated and different owners have different policies. Be aware of music. Many games allow you to turn off background music, while leaving sound effects enabled. And if you're looking for music you can freely use (and monetize!), check out our Audio Library.

Whether gaming, music or comedy is your passion, know that we love what you do. We've worked hard to design Content ID and other tools to give everyone - from individual creators to media companies - the opportunity to make great videos and earn money. As YouTube grows, we want to make sure we're providing the right product features to ensure that everyone continues to thrive.

Sincerely,

The YouTube team

So, is this a confused company making excuses about a huge mistake, or does Google truly believe that a person creating a video about their own videogame doesn't have the right to monetize said video? Let us know in the comments below.

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LG to Debut Open webOS TV at CES 2013 2014 [Rumor]

posted Friday Dec 20, 2013 by Scott Ertz

LG to Debut Open webOS TV at CES <strike>2013</strike> 2014 [Rumor]

I can't quite believe I am writing this article again, but here it is. After last year's rumors of an LG webOS Smart TV at CES 2013 didn't pan out exactly as expected, LG decided to one-up the rumors. Rather than licensing webOS for their Smart TV line, they decided to buy the former mobile operating system outright.

Obviously, the belief was always that LG would use webOS to power their TVs, but little has been heard about the project since the purchase in February. All of that changed this week, however, with a few comments from LG researcher Hong Sung-pyo. We now know, unofficially, that LG has a webOS television that will be unveiled at CES 2014.

In addition to resurrecting the Palm project, the television will have a 2.2GHz dual-core processor and sport 1.5GB of memory. Other than that, we have no clear information, though it is easy to speculate that LG will try and make webOS's entry into televisions an inexpensive one, seeing as the TouchPad sold best on clearance.

To accomplish this, I expect an LCD display, as opposed to the more expensive OLED, though I would suspect that we will see the television premier larger, so as to gain attention on the CES show floor. It won't quite be the 105-inch 4K television LG has already confirmed will be on display in their booth, but it should be large enough to make its mark.

As a webOS fan from the beginning myself (sitting at my desk at this moment I can see 3 phones and a tablet) I really look forward to seeing how LG has taken the OS to the larger screen and how much of the original application catalog will be available on the revamped platform. For example, will owners be able to download the PLuGHiTz Live app, or will we have to recreate it for the newer platform? I suppose we will have to wait a few more weeks to find out.

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Non-Human Internet Traffic Up 20 Percent in Past Year

posted Sunday Dec 15, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Non-Human Internet Traffic Up 20 Percent in Past Year

If 95 percent of the Internet is pornography, you'd assume that at least half of the traffic on the 'Net would be humans. Sadly, that is just not the case. A new report from security content delivery network Incapsula has informed us that robots rule the tubes, by a lot.

According to the new report, of all the website traffic across the Internet, 61.5 percent of it is made up by non-human entities. This leaves 38.5 percent of the traffic to the robot's carbon-based counterparts. A similar study was done in March and since that time, the amount of non-human traffic has gone up by 10 percent and is up over 20 percent year-over-year.

Now, Incapsula breaks down all of this "non-human" activity. 31 percent of the traffic is from search engines and "other good bots." This of course leaves 5 percent to scrapers, 4.5 percent to hacking tools - down 10 percent YOY, .5 percent to spammers - down 75% YOY and 20.5 percent to "other impersonators" - up 8 percent YOY. Incapsula described other impersonators as marketing intelligence gathering and things like DDoS and other Internet attacks.

Incapsula also warns that (by no surprise) 31 percent of bots are still malicious and that people need to take precautions when surfing the Internet.

While the relative percentage of malicious bots remains unchanged, there is a noticeable reduction in Spam Bot activity, which decreased from 2% in 2012 to 0.5% in 2013. The most plausible explanation for this steep decrease is Google's anti-spam campaign, which includes the recent Penguin 2.0 and 2.1 updates.

SEO link building was always a major motivation for automated link spamming. With its latest Penguin updates Google managed to increase the perceivable risk for comment spamming SEO techniques, while also driving down their actual effectiveness.

Based on our figures, it looks like Google was able to discourage link spamming practices, causing a 75% decrease in automated link spamming activity.

DDoS attacks were on the rise and Incapsula also warns about users ending up on impersonation search engines, downloading malicious toolbars and other activity you usually yell at your grandparents for doing. New to the list however was the introduction to Bitcoin botnets. These are sites that end up installing programs on your computer than run in the background, causing your electric bill to skyrocket, your PC performance to drop and the creator of the program to profit off of it all. I, for one, do not welcome that type of Internet overlord.

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VR Goggle Oculus Rift Picks Up $75 Million in Round of Funding

posted Sunday Dec 15, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

VR Goggle Oculus Rift Picks Up $75 Million in Round of Funding

I know we haven't really talked about the Oculus Rift much, but better late than never, right? Oculus VR, the virtual-reality goggle maker, has raised another $75 million of funding for their gadget that was announced at CES 2012, Oculus Rift. Netscape founder Marc Andreessen's investment group was the majority backer in the round. Other players in the funding were Spark Capital, Matrix Partners and Formation 8, who were all in on the $16 million fundraising session in June.

Sources are reporting valuation of Oculus VR at $250 million so far, with this last influx of cash being the largest in the history of the company. For those unaware, Oculus Rift is a pair of goggles that links up with your controller or mouse and keyboard to truly enhance your gaming experience. In a first-person shooter, it gives you an ability to move your head and look around, while keeping your weapon pointed in a completely different direction. Some who have tried it say that it really immerses you in the experience, to the point where a roller coaster simulator program on Oculus Rift actually got one tester sick.

Originally on Kickstarter, with sets of the goggles being sent out to developers for around $300, the buzz has become pretty intense for the virtual reality gadget. And the amount of success that Oculus has experienced is something that 19-year-old founder Palmer Luckey couldn't have predicted when he presented the Rift as a duct-tape prototype.

On the $75 million of investment capital to the company, CEO of Oculus, Brendan Iribe, said that Andreessen Horowitz, Marc Andreessen's firm, is a perfect partner in a situation like this, especially when you have so many demands to meet.

The challenge of hardware companies is you have to be able to buy the goods. And to be able to float tens of millions of dollars when you're a startup is virtually impossible. You cant go from zero to organic launch without tens of millions of preorders, and you have to take them years ahead, so we're trying to balance that. Andreessen Horowitz has a significant staff that really engages with you and helps you solve those kinds of problems.

This will be the last round of funding for quite some time. Iribe added that, "We're certainly planning for this to be it as far as funding until the consumer version launches."

As a person who has played a round of Team Fortress 2 in a custom lobby optimized for Oculus Rift, I'm really excited to see the product progress so quickly and head to production beyond just dev kits. There's still a few details to iron out before it hits the manufacturing plant but Oculus is looking to launch the Rift by holiday of 2014. Check out the link below for a full interview with Brendan Iribe.

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