The UpStream

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.

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.

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.

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.

Redbox Instant to Beta Test on Xbox 360

posted Sunday Feb 10, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Redbox Instant to Beta Test on Xbox 360

The beta period for Redbox Instant has been underway, in a closed state, for a little while now. As we've discussed in the past, people have been clamoring about the new instant streaming service from Redbox, who has decided to partner with Verizon, and have been chomping at the bit to get new information. As luck would have it, we've been gifted another tidbit that leads us to believe we'll see this thing launch real soon.

Major Nelson confirmed that Redbox Instant by Verizon is heading to the 360 and beta users will be the first to get a chance at streaming from the console that is the center of family entertainment. Emails have gone out to those users who have been selected already, but if you still want a shot, you can sign up on the site and could be selected for a one-month trial.

Obviously, as goes the trend, another video streaming service adds to the pile of new offerings we've seen as of late, but Redbox still has a chance to make an impact. What's really exclusive about their deal with Xbox Live is that the app on the 360 will allow one-time digital purchases or rentals without having to actually subscribe to Redbox Instant. As far as expanding it to other platforms, Redbox rep Jennifer St. Clair said,

We are talking to a lot of companies and intend to bring the (app) to more platforms which we hope include additional gaming consoles. Our goal is to be on the devices that consumers use to access entertainment. During beta and at our launch, Xbox will be the only gaming console with Redbox Instant.

On top of the Xbox, Redbox Instant will also be available on PCs, iOS, Android, Samsung Blu-ray Players and Samsung Internet-connected TVs. So, the question is, are you going to try out Redbox Instant? Will you make the switch from whatever other service you're using? What would it take? Okay, so those are three questions, but I'd still like you to chime in below in the comments section.

Former Atari CEO Bids to Save Company

posted Sunday Feb 10, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Former Atari CEO Bids to Save Company

Several weeks ago, we reported that Atari U.S. was filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy and was looking for buyers, in order to distance itself from the struggling French parent company. Well, former Atari Interactive CEO, Frédéric Chesnais has placed a bid in order to rescue his old stomping grounds from an unfortunate demise or dismemberment.

He's offered to take a 25.23% stake in Atari U.S. and said he would pay the current lead investor and shareholder, BlueBay, for over 7 million Atari shares, as well as pay for the required convertible bonds that would let him have another 5.5 million. Chesnais' investment group, Ker Ventures, has also granted a very large short term cash loan to the parent company, Atari SA, even before the transaction has completed, and has chose not to pile on the interested until September.

Atari US has also had investments from Alden Fund, which is a company whose expertise is in fixing slumping companies. Alden will actually pick up the loan that Atari owes to BlueBay, plus, the company is financing $5 million to Atari's subsidiaries, Atari Inc, Atari Interactive, California US Holding and Humongous Inc. $2 million has already been sent over, with another $3 million becoming available upon the court's approval.

A company spokesperson said on the news,

It's quite good news for Atari that new shareholders can be found. But the situation remains very difficult for the company because of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing in the U.S. The judge in the U.S. will play a very important role in the future of the company.

If a former Atari CEO wants to save the company, along with some other investors, I can only see good things coming out of this. If everything goes through as it should, this transaction should keep the integrity of Atari intact and the company won't be chopped to pieces and sold to several competitors.

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