The UpStream

TiVo to Shift from Hardware to Platform Under New Ownership

posted Saturday Jun 11, 2016 by Scott Ertz

TiVo to Shift from Hardware to Platform Under New Ownership

For many of our readers, it's probably impossible to think back to a time when you didn't have a DVR in your living room. It's equally difficult to imagine the concept of having to pay a third party company for the ability to record your programs. That however has always been the business model of TiVo.

That might explain why TiVo is now under new ownership. The new owners, Rovi, have decided to reconsider TiVo's business model. In fact they seem to be throwing out the entire playbook.

Going forward, the company no longer wants to produce dedicated hardware. Instead the goal is to take the TiVo platform and license it to existing set-top box manufacturers. TiVo has had success with this in the past, having paired up with satellite and cable providers.

This does however mark a major departure for the company. It could potentially mean that if your cable or satellite provider does not offer a TiVo box you may not be able to use the service. That means that if you've been a loyal TiVo subscriber you may lose your capabilities at some point in the future.

While the idea of moving from dedicated hardware to partnerships with set-top box manufacturers makes sense, the company will need to be careful not to drive away existing customers. Either way the idea of having a Best of CES technology built right into your cable box is definitely a positive. It might even help to encourage regulation to allow any set-top box on any provider.

In Wake of Hulk Hogan Lawsuit, Gawker Media Files Bankruptcy

posted Saturday Jun 11, 2016 by Scott Ertz

The culture of the Internet is not one of respect or concern for outcome, only for statistics. Because of that, publications like the National Enquirer have been usurped by websites like Gawker. The belief is that you can say or do anything on the web without any repercussions.

Recently, Gawker found out that is not the case. After publishing part of a Hulk Hogan sex tape online, the wrestler sued. After a contentious legal battle, the verdict was in Hogan's favor, with damages of $140 million against Gawker Media.

The company itself is not worth that much and therefore has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company asked for a stay on paying the penalty in hopes of being able to continue to operate. This week the judge declined their request. As a result the company has put themselves on the auction block.

Almost immediately, publisher Ziff Davis swept in and made an offer which the company has tentatively accepted. Under the agreement, Gawker Media will continue to operate independently while they appeal the court decision. Ziff Davis will pay court fees, which Gawker was no longer capable of paying.

The purchase is not finalized, however. As the company is in bankruptcy, the sale must go through an auction process. Purchasing a company with a major legal loss over their heads is not something that most other companies will consider, so it is likely that this will be the final outcome. If the purchase is finalized, Ziff Davis will add several high profile publications to their already large collection.

The important thing here is that through this case the Internet is beginning to learn a lesson. You can't say or do anything you want and expect no repercussions just because you're online. The legal system is aware of the Internet and will punish companies and individuals who break the law.

Updated PlayStation 4 Neo Coming Post-E3, Sony Confirms

posted Saturday Jun 11, 2016 by Scott Ertz

Updated PlayStation 4 Neo Coming Post-E3, Sony Confirms

2016 is certainly shaping up to be the year of augmented and virtual reality. With products like Microsoft HoloLens, HTC's Vive and the Oculus Rift, it's almost impossible to avoid the topic. But along with that technology comes increased processing requirements.

It is no secret that virtual reality is coming to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The question we have all have is, "Can the consoles support the hardware?" For months it has been theorized that an updated version of the consoles would have to be released to support virtual reality. That update has been expected to be announced at E3.

While we have no confirmed news on what Microsoft is working on, we do know that Sony is working on an updated version of the PlayStation 4. Named Neo, this new hardware is expected to enhance the capabilities for virtual reality.

Sony President and CEO Andrew House said,

It is intended to sit alongside and complement the standard PS4. We will be selling both (versions) through the life cycle... All games will support the standard PS4 and we anticipate all or a very large majority of games will also support the high-end PS4.

So all games should be playable on both versions of the console. That's not to say all capabilities will be available on all hardware. It's possible that virtual reality will only be available on the new hardware. Unfortunately we won't get all of the details at E3. We will have to wait until a future announcement.

If virtual reality on the PlayStation 4 requires dedicated hardware, would you be willing to purchase a new console to use it? Let us know in the comments.

Next Bluetooth Version, Bluetooth 5, to Debut Next Week

posted Friday Jun 10, 2016 by Scott Ertz

Next Bluetooth Version, Bluetooth 5, to Debut Next Week

It was well into the second version of the standard before most people had ever heard the term Bluetooth, but today the wireless standard is becoming harder and harder to live without. Bluetooth headphones have become a norm; you can't go to the gym without seeing several pairs. Many people have their phone paired to their car for voice and data. Then of course there's the Internet of Things and connected homes, both of which rely on Bluetooth connectivity.

Next week the next major version of the Bluetooth standard will be revealed. Dubbed "Bluetooth 5," it is focusing on Internet of Things and location-based devices, and a technology needed to make those better. We will see range double and speed quadruple, as well as adding new capabilities for beacons and other non-pairing devices.

This is an important time for the technology. Smarthome and Internet of Things have never been more interesting than it is today, and as consumer demand grows so will the capabilities. Greater capabilities will mean more demand on connectivity.

Obviously there will be a lot more information available when the standard is revealed next week. But based on the tease we got this week, there is certainly a lot to be excited about.

Google Magenta Creates Blah Music But Proves Technology

posted Sunday Jun 5, 2016 by Scott Ertz

Google Magenta Creates Blah Music But Proves Technology

Artificial Intelligence is a computing concept that has been an obsession for many for decades. Science fiction stories are littered with AI, both positive and negative. In the real world, however, AI and neural networks have only recently become a big topic of research because of the power of cloud computing. Distributed computing has been used for long-running computing cycles for years, but now, thanks to the cloud, it can be used for large, short-term processes.

Different companies with distributed computing platforms and neural networks have used it for distinctly different purposes. While Microsoft is using Azure technology to build Cortana, Microsoft Health and the like, IBM has used Watson to design a barbeque sauce. Both have their purposes - Microsoft is building products to show what Azure can do, while IBM is showing the breadth of capabilities of Watson.

Google seems to be following in IBM's footsteps, allowing Magenta to play board games and, as of this week, compose music. The music, available here, isn't very good, but that isn't the point. The point is that the music, minus the drums, was written by first listening to other music, discovering patterns, and then creating something based on it. The music itself will never win an award, but it could help inspire others, like in the linked MP3. The drums were added later, making the music itself sound more engaging.

Douglas Eck, a Google research scientist, said,

Magenta has two goals. First, it's a research project to advance the state of the art in machine intelligence for music and art generation. Machine learning has already been used extensively to understand content, as in speech recognition or translation. With Magenta, we want to explore the other side - developing algorithms that can learn how to generate art and music, potentially creating compelling and artistic content on their own.

As research projects like this increase, the overall knowledge about how neural networks learn the best, and the best ways to build them. Over time, these networks can be used to increase medical knowledge and much more. This is simply the first step of many, but at the current rate of development, those steps will continue to get faster and we can begin to use the technology to accomplish real good.

Twitter Considered Purchasing Yahoo

posted Sunday Jun 5, 2016 by Scott Ertz

Twitter Considered Purchasing Yahoo

In the tech industry, the billion dollar question is, "What is the future of Yahoo?" A decade ago, the brand was one of the most visited sites on the Internet. Today, however, the company is in disarray and its CEO, Marissa Mayer, has done everything that she can think of to keep the sinking ship afloat. While she has helped the bottom line significantly, she has not been able to patch the hole in the boat.

At first, Mayer fought the idea of selling the company in parts, but eventually agreed to sell it as a whole. Since then, many people and companies have considered adding Yahoo to their portfolios, including Warren Buffet, AT&T and even The Daily Mail. AT&T makes sense with Verizon's purchase of AOL. The Daily Mail makes sense with Tumblr being part of the asset collection. As of today, however, no one has written a check.

This week, according to a New York Post article, Twitter also considered getting into the fray. In fact, Twitter executives minus CEO Jack Dorsey met with Mayer a few weeks back to discuss the possibility of bringing Twitter and Yahoo together. The meetings must not have been successful, however, as they ended unsuccessfully, with no further talks expected.

Can Mayer find a buyer for the company, or is Yahoo destined to continue shrining its relevance until its value is completely lost? Hopefully for the company they find a buyer soon.

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