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German Court Rules Wikipedia is Responsible for Content

posted Saturday Nov 30, 2013 by Scott Ertz

German Court Rules Wikipedia is Responsible for Content

Here in the US we have a law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. One of the many things this law brings about is a protection for a website against content provided by its users, so long as the site complies with takedown notices in a timely manner. This law is what makes it possible for sites like YouTube to allow users to upload content without checking it before publishing it.

Unfortunately, this law and its effects do not extend beyond our borders; a fact that Wikimedia, the organization that owns Wikipedia, found out the hard way. In October, Wikimedia lost a libel case against a person identified as "H," who is the owner of a German television station. On his Wikipedia page, it was listed that he used a Nazi salute on television, downplayed the effects of having sex with children, as well as a slew of employment issues, including producing a "cult-like" environment.

This week, the court posted the full verdict on its website, which states that Wikimedia has responsibilities to its users and the content targets. The court does not claim that Wikimedia needs to fact check before publishing, but does need to look into content when a claim is received.

Now, this sounds a lot like the DMCA clause, with one important caveat: DMCA covers copyright infringement, this covers objective and subjective content written by the site's contributors. So long as the content is not ripped off from another source, Wikipedia is not required to interact with its content within the US, but will need to censor its content if it is not popular or is contested.

We know that Rick Santorum would have liked the ability to have Internet content censored in the US, but what about you? Do you think it is positive or negative for the German government to force Wikipedia to control content on their website? Let us know in the comments.

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Twitch Disables PS4 Playroom Streaming

posted Saturday Nov 30, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Twitch Disables PS4 Playroom Streaming

While the premise of The Playroom on the PlayStation 4 seems innocuous, it is officially the first title in the next generation console world to be banned from Twitch. The ban comes from a series of incidents that somehow Sony and Twitch were not prepared for, but anyone who has ever spent more than 5 minutes on the Internet knew was coming: porn.

All you need to do is give people access to the Internet, a camera and the ability to broadcast their living room and the end result is always porn. Unfortunately, those are the ingredients that came together through the PlayStation 4 and The Playroom. Within moments of launch, the game was used exactly for this purpose, followed almost immediately by a reminder from Twitch what the purpose of the streaming service was.

Now, you know as well as I do that the type of people who would get naked on PlayStation on launch day are not exactly the type of people to read legal notices. As such, the problem persisted and Twitch felt the need to remove access to the game.

We removed Playroom content from the directory because a majority of it was non-gaming related. We will look into adding it back as PS4 owners become more familiar with the games-only focus of Twitch content. In the meantime, you can view all of the amazing gameplay from PS4 broadcasters in this directory page on Twitch.

The good news is that, if you are interested in viewing The Playroom streams, you will still have that ability through Ustream, though we all know you won't be able to tell what is happening and when things get good it will cut to a commercial.

Twitch has left the door open for the return of The Playroom streaming on their service. My guess is, however, with such a strict code of content for the site, we will not see this title return.

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Xbox Video Web Launches, Still Waiting for Windows Phone

posted Saturday Nov 30, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Xbox Video Web Launches, Still Waiting for Windows Phone

Currently available through Xbox 360, Xbox One and Windows Store, Microsoft has added Web to the places you can access their Xbox Video service. For those who have not used the service, it is similar in concept to iTunes Video, but with a significantly more customized content discovery system.

The new web version of Xbox Video looks very much like the Windows 8.1 version of Xbox Music, Microsoft's companion product in the entertainment space. Ironically, it looks very little like the Windows 8.1 version of Xbox Video, which is not necessarily a negative, as Xbox Music is designed significantly better than Xbox Video on the PC.

While the full content catalog is supported, along with personal collection availability, there are some issues. First and foremost,

Quality playback is not currently supported on the Web and Windows Phone. Your purchase will play in SD quality. Xbox Video on Windows 8.1 and Xbox One supports HD quality playback.

With Nokia recently launching a Full-HD Windows Phone, it is definitely a surprise that Microsoft would not enable HD streaming to the device. Users can hopefully take solace in the word currently, indicating that Microsoft is working to bring this feature in the near future.

We will only know in time, as Xbox Video is still not available on Windows Phone, and the web version is still incredibly new.

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Flash On Nexus Causes Denial of Service

posted Saturday Nov 30, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Flash On Nexus Causes Denial of Service

This is a nice change of pace - for once, I get to write about a Flash exploit that is not related to Adobe screwing something up. Instead, this Flash vulnerability doesn't even have anything to do with Adobe's product, but instead a version of SMS called Flash SMS.

For those who are unaware, Flash SMS, or Class 0 SMS, is a standard that allows for displaying a message directly on a device's screen without being stored in the device's permanent memory. The message is then dismissible or savable. What the original intent for this type of messaging might have been is unclear, but its current usage is far from.

As it turns out, on the Nexus series of devices, a fairly small collection of these messages, 30 or so, can cause the phone to act erratically. This behavior is probably caused by the way the OS handles displaying them: semi-transparent black background with the text in the middle. When many of these semi-transparent boxes stack up, the phone could get overwhelmed in calculating display depth.

So, what do these devices do when they panic? In general, they reboot without warning. If the phone has a SIM card lock, then these phones will sit idle, waiting for user input on a screen that they do not know is waiting for them. This, of course, prevents the phone from receiving phone calls, texts or emails while waiting for the input, making the device fairly useless.

If you are completely unlucky, though, you might experience a different issue. On some occasions, instead of rebooting, the phone will just disconnect from the network. Of course this has the same effect as the previous, not receiving phone calls, texts or emails, but with the added bonus of not requiring a SIM lock.

This exploit exists on all versions of Android 4.x residing on Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 devices. Hopefully Google will figure out how to fix this as it could pose a fairly big issue considering it only requires a few special texts to sink the device. Not what I would want advertised as part of the "pure Google experience."

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Total Corporate Restructuring at BlackBerry Leads to Departure of Several Key Execs

posted Monday Nov 25, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Total Corporate Restructuring at BlackBerry Leads to Departure of Several Key Execs

When RIM changed its name to BlackBerry, you would have assumed that would be the time when the company would start from scratch with everything. But BlackBerry is a different type of company, one that operates in a quirky way and marches to the beat of its own drum. The transition began with the name, continued on months later with the new BlackBerry OS and has now come to the end of the turnover with the almost-entire replacement of the executive board. Oh, and throw in a failed buyout and BlackBerry's primary manufacturing facility cutting ties with the company.

In the announcement, BlackBerry said it is changing out many management and board positions. Seemingly starting over, COO Kristian Tear and CMO Frank Boulben have both left the company. James Yersh, who's served the company since 2008, will be replacing Brian Bidulka as Blackberry's CFO and Bidlulka will stay on board as a special advisor to the CEO for the rest of the fiscal year to help with the change. Other notables of the total shift in direction for the company is the resignation of board member Roger Martin, who has been with the company formerly known as RIM since 2007.

On these decisions, interim BlackBerry CEO John Chen said,

I thank Kristian and Frank for their efforts on behalf of BlackBerry. I look forward to working more directly with the talented teams of engineers, and the sales and marketing teams around the world to facilitate the BlackBerry turn-around and to drive innovation. I also thank Brian for his eight years of dedicated service to BlackBerry. I look forward to working with James and his Finance team as we move forward, execute on our plans and deliver long-term value for our shareholders.

This shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone following the story of BlackBerry, as many people predicted a reshuffling like that was in the cards for a while now. Chen also made it known a month ago that this was going to happen before the year was out and that we'd see "new faces" in executive positions. Chen also predicts a turnaround for the company by June 2015, so we'll have to see if these moves will either help or hurt him reach that goal.

The good news is that if he does manage to right the ship according to his plan, his role as interim CEO at BlackBerry just might move into a permanent one, complete with a desk placard, assistant and the removal of the position over at jobs.rim.com.

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Xbox One Experiencing Disc Drive Issues

posted Sunday Nov 24, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Xbox One Experiencing Disc Drive Issues

It is not unexpected, but it is disappointing: Microsoft's Xbox One consoles seem to be experiencing a disc drive issue. Following last week's PlayStation 4 launch hardware issues, a small number of Xbox One owners are claiming to be experiencing a loud grinding noise when inserting discs into their new consoles.

The noise, described by many as sounding like a chain saw, causes the console to be completely unresponsive to discs. Luckily, the expected way to play games on either of the next generation consoles is through digital distribution, rendering the disc drive issue mostly null.

Now, none of this is unexpected. Launch day consoles have been known for hardware issues for ages. The PS4 has the blue light of death, the original Wii had a series of hardware failures, plus we all know about the extended red ring issue on the Xbox 360. Microsoft has clarified their policy on this console,

Customers have the option for us to send a replacement console right away without waiting until they have returned their old one. This means a customer only has to wait a matter of days, rather than weeks to get back up and running.

At least this is better than the 360 launch, where buyers experiencing the issue were required to send the original console back before receiving a new one. Also, this time around, there are more consoles being produced, allowing many people to return their defective units to the retailer.

Have you experienced problems with either console? Let us know in the comments.

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