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EA Lays Off Employees, Transitions its Focus, Drops Suit with Zynga

posted Sunday Feb 24, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

EA Lays Off Employees, Transitions its Focus, Drops Suit with Zynga

Electronic Arts is slowly transitioning to a more digital and social development studio, as we suspected. This week, EA has laid off a bunch of employees in their Los Angeles and Montreal studios as the company makes the shift to mobile gaming and next-gen. Frank Gibeau, president of EA Labels, said in this blog post that it is because EA has made strong investments and moves towards mobile and new console technology. He also added that thousands of current EA employees, instead of being let go, were reassigned work that was in line with their new visions. He said,

Console transitions are a complex and challenging experience. I've helped navigate several and agree with an old saying we have at EA: Transition is our friend.

No word yet on how many employees were terminated or what positions they were holding. We wish the best for the laid off employees' future endeavors.

In other EA news, does anyone remember when Zynga launched The Ville and made it look exactly like Sims Social? EA sued the company, claiming copyright infringements, employee poaching and just sheer laziness (off the record). It appears that after months of squabbling, EA has dropped the legal suit against Zynga and all claims and counterclaims regarding the case have been dismissed.

We have not received comment from Zynga nor EA about the suit, but instead discovered this information via a filing with the US District Court for the Northern District of California. This suit drop comes at a very interesting time for Zynga, as the company has recently undergone a drastic cut of properties that were bleeding money, largely in part due to the work from COO David Ko at the helm. Earlier this month, Zynga even posted a small profit because of the cuts. Perhaps this might be a small turnaround point for them, as EA looks to restructure as well.

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FilmOn and Aero Sue Aereo for Copyright Infringement, Calls Kettle Black

posted Sunday Feb 24, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

FilmOn and Aero Sue Aereo for Copyright Infringement, Calls Kettle Black

Remember Aereo, the rebel company that chose to go the route of streaming over-the-air broadcasts to out-of-market customers for a monthly rate? Yes, we appreciate the gusto and courage it takes to go head-to-head against all of the broadcast companies at once. So when we heard that Aereo was in another lawsuit, we asked, "who is it now?" Needless to say we were surprised to find out that it actually wasn't a broadcast company trying to sue them this week.

Instead, FilmOn, a company who does the exact same thing as Aereo, is suing the company for copyright infringement. FilmOn says that Aereo allegedly violated FilmOn trademarks and has taken on a style that is too similar to that of FilmOn, who claims rights to "Aero," which is the name of their service. You may know of a device called the WinTV-Aero-m, which is made by Hauppauge Computer Works, but the difference is that device has permission to use the "Aero" phrase from FilmOn. The lawsuit says that Aereo was "seeking to unfairly capitalize on the success of WinTV-Aero-m and the name 'Aero,' Defendant Aereo devised a scheme to start a competing business."

You can hit the source link below to check out the full complaint. For now, it just seems like this is simply a bitter, back-and-forth type of lawsuit. In the end, it may be found that both of these companies are doing illegal things in the eyes of the courts, so why go at each other? Doesn't all of this seem a bit strange? If two companies, who do the same thing, and are being sued by the same broadcast companies, would work together instead of sue each other, perhaps we'd have a stronger rebel force to go against the Empire.*

*"Empire" and "Rebel" are trademarks or registered trademarks of Lucas Arts/Disney in the United States and other countries. Lucas Arts/Disney and other parties may also have trademark rights in other terms used herein.

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Oracle Gets High-Power Assistance in Android Case [Editorial]

posted Saturday Feb 23, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Oracle Gets High-Power Assistance in Android Case [Editorial]

The battle between Oracle and Google is becoming legendary. When the suit first started, I predicted this could become a rallying cry for the software industry. While I hate to get behind Oracle and Java, I seem to have picked the right side.

While Oracle lost the case, the appeal is becoming the symbol of developer intellectual property versus open development. Obviously Oracle is on the side of developer rights, while Google is on the side of "we want other people's code." On the side of Oracle are Microsoft, EMC, NetApp, the Business Software Alliance and many others. These companies and groups all filed amicus curiae briefs in support of Oracle, suggesting that the industry disagrees with the court's initial decision.

While not on the record, as the deadline expired February 19th, I count myself as a supporter of Oracle here. As a developer myself, I find it personally offensive that Google feels they can use code written by Oracle's brand Sun Microsystems without so much as a hat tip, let alone royalties for the usage. This court case has been a turning point for me as a developer and a person. I have always known that Google was an evil company, but I still used some of their services, sporadically. After this case, I started walking away from Google's services one at a time.

At this time, I have eliminated Google from my life, with the exception of a Gmail account that I use for receiving spam garbage, as many of us used to use Yahoo in the past. My real email is through the company, of course, but I do also have a personal account that I access through Windows Mail or Outlook. My instant messaging is all done through Skype, on the computer and phones. I use a Palm Pre 2 (syncing with my Live account) and an HTC 8X Windows Phone (obviously syncing with the Live account). I do all of my development through Visual Studio and Web Matrix using Internet Explorer to test. My search engine of choice is Bing, both because of the case and Google's lack of relevant results. I have even abandoned Google Reader for an RSS reader on my Windows 8 machines.

I have actively done all of this, spurred on by this case over the last few years. I hate the idea that Google feels that, if my software is what they are looking for, they are willing to steal it from me. I put a lot of time and energy into my software and I would never give it to anyone without a license, let alone one of the most over-valued Ponzi schemes ever conceived. If you are a developer as well, I urge you to take the same stand I have and tell Google that you don't like their theft of code. If you are not, you too should abandon Google merely because of their lack of respect for privacy.

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Facebook Reports Inaccurate Numbers for Insights

posted Saturday Feb 23, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Facebook Reports Inaccurate Numbers for Insights

One of the things that Facebook does very well for brands and companies is gather and present data about the people who are affected by the Facebook page. From finding out how many total friends your fans have to how many people saw your individual posts, there is a lot of information that can be learned about who is interested in your product or service. This week, however, the site admitted that the information they have been reporting has had incorrect numbers for some of their metrics.

Fortunately the data is not affected, but merely the reporting, for impressions (how many times the post has been loaded, regardless of duplicates) and audience reach (unique number of people who have seen the post). Since the data is intact, that means Facebook can patch the system to restore proper data. They are in the process of rolling out the new code, with completion hoped for the end of the weekend. As of writing, the numbers for our fan pages have not been changed.

So, how did Facebook discover the issue? It happened during a comprehensive audit of their system and its data. They noticed a discrepancy in reported versus stored data and set off to work looking for the issue. Luckily they seem to have found and fixed the issue (or so they have reported).

If you are a brand manager, you should start looking at your data on Monday to see if your numbers have changed. My guess is that everyone will see some fluctuations, but larger pages are much more likely to see bigger swings. At least this means you could be doing better than you thought! This goes to show that even with thousands of developers, you can still make a mistake.

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FOX Sues Dish Network Again Over Hopper

posted Saturday Feb 23, 2013 by Scott Ertz

FOX Sues Dish Network Again Over Hopper

It has not been easy for Dish Network and their Hopper DVR. When the original device was launched, everyone sued them over copyright infringement. Now, while it is surely a unique device in modern times, it is not the first DVR to skip commercials. Does anyone remember the original TiVo DVRs? Why else would people have paid that much per month for a DVR when the cable companies were giving them away free?

Their new model has had no less controversy. Announced at CES this year, it was initially awarded Best in Show for the Best of CES Awards, presented by Cnet. Because of the before mentioned lawsuit and Cnet's parent company, CBS, and their rule about being objective about companies they are actively in legal action with, Cnet was forced to drop the award. When CEA, who runs the International CES, found out about this, they removed Cnet as the official partner for the awards going forward and reinstated Dish as a co-winner of the award.

Now, FOX has decided to one-up their media conspirators and has filed a new suit against Dish and the Hopper with Sling. The newest complaint is about the Sling feature, which allows users to transfer content from the DVR to other devices, like tablets, for watching both online and offline. While it seems no different from recording a show on a videocassette and playing it at someone else's house, FOX claims that it is piracy. They have asked a federal judge to prevent Dish from allowing customers to transfer FOX content to their smartphones and tablets.

My guess is this will go about as well as the last time FOX asked for an injunction against the Hopper: not well. Last November they lost their attempt to prevent AutoHop, the commercial skipping feature, on FOX programs, and is currently sitting in appeals. This will probably go the same way, with a loss and an unending appeal. This request is a little closer to realistic, it still seems like it stands no chance in the courts. Thankfully.

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PlayStation 4 Revealed

posted Saturday Feb 23, 2013 by Scott Ertz

PlayStation 4 Revealed

Sony shocked absolutely no one this week by announcing the PlayStation 4 at their PlayStation Meeting 2013 event, announced late last month. There were a couple of oddball theories about the meeting's purpose, but everyone with a brain knew we would see the announcement of the next member of the PS family. So, what do we know? We know one of the first terms used on stage was "prototype hardware" while showing off the garbage-collecting robot game, Knack. At that point we knew we wouldn't see the hardware, but that's okay: we also didn't see the Wii U hardware at announcement. Larry Hyrb, Xbox's Major Nelson, was apparently surprised, tweeting,

As with the Wii U announcement, we did get to see the controller. Similar to the PSVita, the PS4 controller will incorporate a multi-touch pad on the front, plus a light bar used for physical tracking in a room. Of course, motion controls and rumble have been enhanced, but it isn't a PlayStation console without that.

Knowing we wouldn't see any more hardware, it was all about the software. We saw title after title shown off and, while Media Molecule might have flopped pretty hard, everyone else shined. Hit the break for a rundown of some of the most talked about titles.

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