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DISH Network Challenges Sprint on Two Fronts

posted Saturday Jun 1, 2013 by Scott Ertz

DISH Network Challenges Sprint on Two Fronts

It has only been 2 years since DISH Network bought Blockbuster and did absolutely nothing with it. Now, DISH is interested in picking up two more distressed companies, hopefully with a different fate. Even though Sprint has entered into a tentative deal with Softbank, DISH has offered $25.5 billion, as opposed to Softbank's $20.1 billion.

This week, as the Softbank deal gets initial government approval, DISH made a bold move, taking out a full-page ad in The Washington Post, questioning the security issues with a Japanese company having majority control of a US wireless carrier. Of course, we know that T-Mobile International AG owns T-Mobile US, but that one is alright. He does have a point, however, as foreign interests might want in on our wireless carriers for nefarious reasons.

Immediately following the ad, DISH Network also upped the ante on their bid to purchase Clearwire. Sprint had originally offered $2.97 per share to take compete ownership of the company, which DISH countered with $3.30 per share less than a month later. This week they offered $4.40 per share, countering Sprint's own increased offer of $3.40 per share. After the Sprint increase, the Clearwire board of directors recommended to the shareholders to accept the offer.

DISH Chairman Charles Ergen said,

The Clearwire spectrum portfolio has always been a key component to implementing our wireless plans on delivering a superior product and service offering to customers.

So, does that mean they will continue to compete, possibly with themselves, to own the company? Is DISH so focused on competing in the incredibly rough wireless industry that they will cost themselves extra to purchase a company that could be owned by a company they also want to purchase? Only time can tell, but Ergen is playing an interesting game of poker against a competitor who doesn't know they are playing.

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Atari Landfill to be Excavated by Film Crew

posted Saturday Jun 1, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Atari Landfill to be Excavated by Film Crew

It has been 20 years since Geraldo Rivera found a stop sign on live TV, opening a vault he believed belonged to Al Capone. In the spirit of tradition, a film crew from Canada has gained approval to dig up a landfill where they believe they will uncover millions of unsold copies of the disaster known to the world as Atari's E.T..

In 1983, Atari released a game so bad it affected the industry by almost ending videogames forever. Legend has it that the company dumped the remaining cartridges, along with extra consoles and additional items in a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico. While the landfill and Atari dumping are entirely confirmed, the contents still remain a mystery... kind of.

Last year a book entitled Atari Inc.: Business is Fun was released covering this exact topic. The author, Marty Goldberg, spoke to employees of the company, dump truck drivers, city employees as well as local press from the time, all confirming that the myth of 3.5 million copies of E.T. being dumped is nonsense. In fact, everyone involved claims that the content dumped was related to manufacturing being moved from the US to China, requiring cartridge parts, console parts and other equipment to be disposed of.

Of course, the fact that the landfill was sealed and later covered with concrete is a bit odd and certainly suspicious. Suspicious, however, does not equate to interesting. My guess is, when this site is dug up, all that will be found is exactly what everyone involved has claimed for years is contained there: garbage. That does not prevent me from feeling a little excitement about the possibility of artifacts of the beginning of the videogame industry being uncovered, terrible game cartridges or not.

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Google Ordered to Turn Over Warrantless Data Requests

posted Saturday Jun 1, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Google Ordered to Turn Over Warrantless Data Requests

In the time after the Sept. 11 attacks, a hasty bill was passed, known as the USA Patriot Act, which opened all kinds of capabilities for the government to spy on its citizens without having to worry about that pesky Constitution. One of the easy ways of collecting information about people is with national security letters. These letters come from the FBI, asking for certain information with a few caveats: they require no judicial review and the recipients are not allowed to talk about the request.

Google has received 19 of these letters and refused to respond positively to any of the requests. In fact, Google filed suit against the federal government, claiming that the requests are unnecessary and unconstitutional. Last week U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston ordered Google to comply unless it can prove that the letters were sent without proper process. Google can still appeal the ruling, but has had no comment on the matter.

Illston currently believes that 2 of the letters could have been processed incorrectly, but currently believes that the other 17 are proper. Unfortunately the ruling and suit did not indicate what kinds of information the government was seeking, but with services like Google Search and Gmail being a big part of many people's lives, there is a lot of information about a lot of people that could be at jeopardy here.

This ruling comes as a bit of a surprise based on a previous ruling from Illston in March. In a case between the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the FBI, Illston ruled that the demand that recipients cannot speak of the request was unconstitutional, violating free speech rights. Kurt Opsah, counsel for the EFF, said of the ruling,

We are disappointed that the same judge who declared these letters unconstitutional is now requiring compliance with them.

This trend of the government asking for information without judicial involvement is a frightening one, but it is nice to see someone fighting against it, even if it is surprisingly from Google.

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Amazon Chooses 5 of 14 Shows to Produce

posted Saturday Jun 1, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Amazon Chooses 5 of 14 Shows to Produce

Six weeks ago, Amazon decided to compete with Netflix and Hulu by entering into the custom content business. Amazon decided to do it a little differently, though, allowing you to choose which shows it produced. Well, the votes are in, and the decision has been made: five shows will be produced.

The original lineup contained 6 comedies and 8 kids' shows; the final decision kept 2 of those comedies and 3 of the kids' shows. Alpha House, a political comedy about 4 Republican senators living together in a house, plus Betas, a series about the ridiculous environment that is the Silicon Valley start-up environment beat out series like Onion News Network, a parody of Aaron Sorkin's Newsroom for HBO from The Onion.

The children's shows that made the cut were Annebots, a live-action series about a kid scientist and her robot, Creative Galaxy, an animated series about an alien artist and Tumbleaf, a 3D animated series about an adventurous fox. Obviously these series beat out 5 others, rounding out Amazon's new lineup.

I am personally excited about the 2 comedies that made the cut, though I am a little disappointed about Onion News Network getting cut, as it was my personal favorite in the original collection. Did your favorites make the cut or were they lost to the Internet? Let us know in the comments.

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Yahoo Might Make Another Attempt at Buying Hulu

posted Sunday May 26, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Yahoo Might Make Another Attempt at Buying Hulu

Between the Flickr and Tumblr announcements, Yahoo was able to find a way to stay in the news during Microsoft's Xbox week. Now, Yahoo is being mentioned along with some big media names, outside of bringing SNL to their platform.

In a move that is reminiscent of 2010, Yahoo has been said to be "seriously interested" in Hulu and has put in another bid. This happened before, except Yahoo backed out after Hulu backed out because of Disney not agreeing with some of the processes. In this rendition of their dance together, this now puts Yahoo in the running along with DirecTV and Chernin Group who are all considering buying Hulu at this point.

AllThingsD is reporting that Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer met with Hulu to continue their talks from several years ago. Yahoo and Hulu have both declined to comment on the matter but this latest push to buy up the Internet might actually work in Yahoo's favor.

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Apple Bans ComiXology Content for Guidelines Violations

posted Sunday May 26, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Apple Bans ComiXology Content for Guidelines Violations

ComiXology, the digital location for comic books, ended up getting a disappointing message from Apple this week. 56 new release titles were being banned from the iOS version of app for content violations. While this is not the first time ComiXology has received a takedown notice from Apple, some of the reasoning this time around was surprising.

Some comics were banned for sexual content, which is expected from Apple, a company who once censored the dictionary for sexual content. What was surprising, however, was the request to remove content that featured Satan and homosexuality. Yes, that's right; Apple, the hipster brand, seems to have banned comic books that contain gay characters because they are gay characters.

The most interesting thing about all of this is that several of the removed titles are available in Apple's own iBookstore. This leaves us to question whether or not Apple gave a list of titles or merely said something like "You have titles that don't meet these guidelines: sex, gay, Satan," leaving ComiXology to interpret. This wouldn't be the first time this has happened, as last month they removed a title they thought Apple had a problem with.

What this all means is that Apple's content guidelines are still a moving target, which is impossible to hit as a content provider. People ask us all the time why PLuGHiTz live content is not immediately available through an app on iOS. We have a Palm/HP app in the marketplace now and a Windows Phone/Windows 8 app in the works, but we do not directly provide content to iOS. The answer to that question is this article right here. If we cannot control our own content, we will not provide it to your platform.

If you would like to see the titles that were removed, check them out here.

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