The UpStream

Facebook May Be Deemed Illegal in Scandinavia

posted Saturday Nov 24, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Facebook May Be Deemed Illegal in Scandinavia

We are all annoyed by Facebook's constant privacy policy changes and advertising schemes, but apparently not as much as the governments of the Scandinavian countries, who believe that Facebook's recent changes to their news feed advertisements go against the European Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications. The directive was created as a way to prevent email spam by requiring a user to have opted-in to receive solicitations, unlike the US requirement to be able to opt-out of solicitations.

Obviously the "Sponsored Stores" aren't exactly opt-in, and they aren't exactly not. Until recently, the Sponsored Stories would only show up for companies you or your friends had liked, but now that isn't exactly the case. When it was, it was easy to justify opt-in status - you friended a person who liked the page voluntarily, you can always remove them from your friends list if you don't like the things they do. In the new world, it is a little harder to justify to the Scandinavian governments.

It is not impossible, however. This is not email where, without it life on the Internet is impossible. This is a free, opt-in social networking site who needs to make money somehow to keep providing their free service to consumers. If you are not happy with the service you are receiving, or you believe the ads are too hard for you to live with, you are always able to opt-out of receiving them by deleting your Facebook account. I hear Myspace is looking for users again.

In reality, advertising on a social networking site is no different that advertising on any other free site. Why would Facebook's Sponsored Stores be any different than the SMS Audio and Microsoft Store ads on this site? Is it because the news on Facebook belongs to the user? No, that can't be it because anything that is posted on Facebook becomes the property of Facebook, they merely give you easy access to it. So what if they want to add a little more data in there between the other content?

Everyone is coming to the realization that Facebook advertising doesn't work, so why not let them burn out this business model while they look for the next one? No, that isn't how it is going to work - instead there will be a lawsuit filed and, once again, we will be forced to follow a suit between one group that doesn't understand technology and one that is trying to stay afloat. Hopefully either the governments will back off and let Facebook try and make money in one of the last ways they know how or Facebook can pull a Google and shut its service down in those countries. It seemed to work for Google, except for those 2 times this month.

What do you think? Should Facebook be forced to stop showing Sponsored Stories because they make some government officials uncomfortable or should they back off and leave things as they are? Let us know in the comments.

Psy Takes Number 1 Spot on YouTube

posted Saturday Nov 24, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Psy Takes Number 1 Spot on YouTube

It's official - Korean pop sensation Psy has taken the top watched video spot from Justin Bieber this week. We kind of all knew this was coming - when Gangnam Style hit 800 million views it was clear that it would not be long before it overtook "Baby", which has held the top spot for a very long time. The difference here is that Bieber has had since 2010 to reach the 806 million views he has, while Psy has managed to accomplish the same goal in only five months.

YouTube trends manager, Kevin Allocca, said,

The velocity of popularity for Psy's outlandish video is unprecedented. Each day, 'Gangnam Style' is still being watched between 7 and 10 million times.

Coverage, like ours, in addition to Psy's official tweet and YouTube's blog post about the topic certainly won't slow down that trend. In fact, ChannelMeter, a video data tracker, believes that not only will Psy own this title for a while to come, he will blow past Bieber like he was standing still. At his current rate, increased by the news of his record breaking week, they believe Gangnam Style will become the virst ever YouTube video to receive 1 billion views.

Yes, the very catchy galloping song will become the first ever 1 billion view video on YouTube. Congratulations, Internet, you win. You have officially unified the world under one song that most of the world cannot understand but a few words of.

Rumor Mill Says an Xbox TV Set-Top Box May Be On Its Way By Next Holiday Season

posted Friday Nov 23, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Rumor Mill Says an Xbox TV Set-Top Box May Be On Its Way By Next Holiday Season

Following last week's news that Xbox Live members broke the record of hours logged for a week, with 442 million from November 6th through 13th, some rumors leave the Redmond office this week. If the rumors are true, it would surely put any doubt to rest that Xbox really is synonymous with entertainment. Word on the street is that there is an Xbox TV coming, that would directly compete with traditional set-top boxes, as well as the Apple TV, Roku, Boxee Box and others. Sources say that it will be a watered-down iteration of the existing Xbox 360 that would be completely designed with a focus to play all types of media using the same frame that Windows 8 operates on. If all goes according to plan, reports are saying we should see the Xbox TV hit stores right before holiday 2013, along with the Xbox 3, or whatever you'd like to call it.

Putting aside if a year from now is too little, too late for Microsoft, moving into this space makes sense. Xbox Live already delivers a ton of content, and now with the addition of Windows 8/Windows Phone 8, your Windows experience is able to be carried from your PC, to your gaming console, to your smartphone. While SmartGlass may enhance the second-screen experience for movies and TV shows on the 360, it doesn't really replace your existing cable or satellite subscription. Xbox TV could be the thing that allows consumers to finally have their entire digital life revolve around Microsoft manufactured-products.

I'd also like to point out a rather interesting thing we're expecting to see in the next family of Xbox's. It appears that the next-gen Microsoft systems will be "always on," in that the company will be including a chipset that will allow fast startup times, as well as the ability to come out of sleep mode in an instant to allow users to access their TV and other media content as quick as possible.

Microsoft was asked to comment on plans for an Xbox TV or set-top box, to which they replied,

Xbox 360 has found new ways to extend the console lifecycle by introducing controller-free experiences with Kinect and re-inventing the console with a new dashboard and new entertainment content partnerships. We are always thinking about what is next for our platform and how to continue to defy the lifecycle convention.

So now with that question not answered and out of the way, the only question is how much would Microsoft charge for Xbox TV? Google and Apple have both priced their boxes at $99, while Roku and Boxee play around in the $79 to $129 range depending on the day. Because of this, it would be natural for Microsoft to not overprice their product, especially against Apple. All I know for now is that the rumor mill is spinning and if this comes true, I'd love to cut my cord and go the way of Xbox TV, as Xbox Live already lets FiOS, Comcast and U-Verse customers connect to their entertainment without the need for another box in the living room.

After Facebook Comes Steve Jobs for Sorkin

posted Thursday Nov 22, 2012 by Scott Ertz

After Facebook Comes Steve Jobs for Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin, creator of The West Wing and The Newsroom and writer of The Social Network has a new project underway and it will probably be his most controversial topic to date - Steve Jobs. He has the task of turning Walter Isaacson's biography of the co-founder of Apple Inc into a motion picture, which is not an easy task. From random bouts of crying to calls with the President of The United States, there is a lot of content to bring to life on the screen.

Sorkin, however, does not like a project that is not a challenge. With The Social Network he made it clear that Zuckerberg was a creative guy but a real jerk. With this film, however, there is a lot more jerk than there is creativity. So, how does Sorkin plan to bring the man's story to life for those who didn't know him personally? Sorkin explained at The Daily Beast's Hero Summit,

This entire movie is going to be three scenes, and three scenes only, that all take place in real time. Each of these scenes is going to take place backstage before a product launch-the first one being the Mac, the second one being NeXT, and the third one being the iPod.

So, we will completely blow off the original success of Apple, jump right to one of the failures of the company, jump to the company he founded after being fired from Apple and the come back to the product that brought Apple out of bankruptcy in 2001. Each of the 3 scenes will take place in 30-minute segments highlighting the behind-the-scenes prep for the individual product launches. If there is something Sorkin knows how to write, it's "behind-the-scenes" stories (a sports show, the White House, a sketch comedy show and a cable news network, plus Facebook so far in his career).

His biggest problem here will be his unusual focus on realism and comedy. If he shows Jobs to be the person he really was, who would throw engineers out of his office for bringing him the wrong shade of white for the iPhone or crying because Woz's father believed he wasn't doing enough work in the company, it could possibly alienate Apple customers who, through some sort of Apple-delusion, have come to believe that he was a kind genius, neither term really describes him.

I don't know about you, but I am looking forward to seeing Sorkin's take on Jobs. Are you excited to see what others really saw of the Apple co-founder? Let us know in the comments.

Disney Teams Up with Chevrolet for a New Concept at the Test Track

posted Sunday Nov 18, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Disney Teams Up with Chevrolet for a New Concept at the Test Track

If you've been to Disney World lately and have ventured to Epcot to check out the infamous Test Track, you were probably greeted with some signage that said this,

Test Track is temporarily closed for refurbishment-with the Grand Re-Opening scheduled for December 6, 2012.

Doing some research would lead you to Disney's site, telling you about a new partnership with Chevrolet that would revamp the Test Track, but the details behind the transformation were few and far between. That is, until this week, where GM let us in on what Chevrolet designers and Walt Disney Imagineers have teamed up to create.

Just over 18 months ago, the two companies had a meeting of the minds in a design session that left the two wanting to create a brand new ride experience with Test Track that brought back the "future-focused" and "optimistic" feelings that were once associated with TomorrowLand and Disney as a whole. The two teams have met over the past year-and-a-half numerous times, at both the GM Design studio in Warren, Michigan, as well as the Test Track in Epcot to bring people the "greatest level of innovation yet" from Disney with a "first of its kind" multi-sensory virtual experience in what goes on during the design process of vehicles. GM Design manager, Jeff Mylenek said,

At Chevrolet, the diversity of talent on our team allows us to consistently produce sophisticated, refined and detailed design - but we don't typically design through the eyes of a 12-year-old. Working with Walt Disney Imagineering, we were inspired to see our brand story from a more youthful perspective and really opened the parameters on how to approach this design challenge.

So what will we see in the updated Test Track? GM broke down the details for us.

  • Visual cues inspired by Chevrolet's expressive vehicle design language throughout the architectural elements in the space as well as in the interactive displays; speed forms and concept vehicle displays, like EN-V and Miray, provide a glimpse into the future of Chevrolet design.
  • Advanced computer technology - similar to that used by Chevrolet designers every day - powers the guest design experience, while radio frequency technology allows them to take their unique vehicle design with them through the entire ride.
  • A thrill-ride that provides the test experience where each guest's vehicle design is evaluated.
  • Social media sharing extends the experience beyond the day at the park.
  • Test Track Presented by Chevrolet offers Disney guests a three-part experience:
  • First, guests will have the opportunity to design their own vehicle - car, truck or crossover - with some helpful hints from the Chevrolet designers built into the process.
  • Next, they will have the chance to test drive their vehicle design, through the ride, on track surfaces that simulate the actual vehicle validation process that Chevrolet engineers use to ensure every new vehicle meets the highest performance standards.  Each guest's vehicle design will be evaluated and scored based on how well their design balanced the core attributes. 
  • Finally, guests have the opportunity to race their vehicle over changing terrain and extreme conditions on a digital driving table, produce and share a TV commercial starring their custom vehicle and pose for action shots in front of their design.

On December 6th, we will see all of this happen at the brand new Test Track. From a concept standpoint, I think this could be something that brings a new group of guests to the attraction, especially the younger ones who would like to design, build and then test and race their creations with others. Would you give the new Test Track a spin? Let us know in the comments. And if you get out there before I do, let me know how the experience was for you? Perhaps even the older generation would enjoy the experience as well.

In Android, December Forget You: Month of December Missing in Jelly Bean 4.2

posted Sunday Nov 18, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

In Android, December Forget You: Month of December Missing in Jelly Bean 4.2

This was just too crazy not to mention. Those of you lucky enough to be running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, with all of its cool new features and all, may not be so lucky for now. Things like Photo Sphere, gesture typing, the new "Daydream" screensaver (does it really save your screen?), WiDi technology and other enhancements may seem nice, however some essential things don't seem to exist in the new version of Android. You know, like the month of December.

Those with the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4 or Nexus 7 first reported that the month of December is actually missing from the People app, and now the problem has been recognized to exist on Android 4.2 as a whole. It appears that some savvy tech heads have been able to pinpoint the problem, which doesn't appear in the Google Calendar app, only in the People app. One user said that there is a "problem with the API (particularly android.widget.NumberPicker) rather than the DatePicker widget being used in the contacts app."

So what happens now? Until Google pushes out a 4.2.1 update or even a minor refresh fix to address the issue, your year, according to Google, only has eleven months. This is perfect for those thinking the world would end in December, as you need not even worry about the month as a whole. Do you think maybe Google decided that the only important date in December was Christmas? All you need to do is go buy more Android devices for you and your friends, and don't concern yourself with the other thirty days in the month. They're simply not important.

I'd like to know how this got missed in testing, when previous versions, like 4.1 and 4.0 seem to have no issues. We'll keep you posted if we see or hear of any other strange quirks with this somewhat salty version of Jelly Bean.

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