The UpStream

Newer
Older

A Petition Surprisingly Accomplishes Something, Gives Sense8 a Finale

posted Sunday Jul 2, 2017 by Scott Ertz

A Petition Surprisingly Accomplishes Something, Gives <i>Sense8</i> a Finale

Since its release, Netflix Original Sense8 has been polarizingly successful. Some people who have seen it absolutely love it, while others simply cannot understand what the others see in the series. Either way a lot of people have watched the visually spectacular series. After waiting for over a year, the second season was finally released recently, along with an announcement from Netflix: there would be no further episodes coming.

As it turns out, Sense8 is incredibly expensive to produce, costing double per episode what HBO pays to produce an episode of Game of Thrones. Netflix decided that the ratings did not justify the cost of the series, and canceled it after season 2. Unfortunately, as traditional television networks do, the decision was made after the season was produced, meaning that the creators could not put an end to the story. This did not sit well with producers or with fans.

As with anything that even slightly inconveniences the internet, an online petition was created. But, unlike normally, this petition accomplished something, in the form of a special episode. The 2 hour episode, which will premiere in 2018, does not have an official release date or story determined, but that is to be expected. It is likely that more information will be released as the time gets closer, and as decisions are made. Those decisions will include what to do with the series following the special, which, according to the Twitter post (linked below), suggests that maybe something additional can be accomplished, but don't hold your breath.

I would expect that this 2-hour special will serve as a series finale to wrap up the loose strings and bring closure to fans. This kind of treatment from Netflix is something that network television has never been interested in doing, because appointment television has always been thought of as watch and move on. Streaming has created a permanent nature to programs like Sense8, and a story closure brings additional value to the series for Netflix, who will keep the series on their service in perpetuity. New viewers who know the story is left hanging may be reluctant to give it a shot, while having an ending is likely to make people consider watching.

read more...

New Governments Join the Internet Consorship Bandwagon

posted Sunday Jul 2, 2017 by Scott Ertz

New Governments Join the Internet Consorship Bandwagon

Since the beginning of the internet, governments all over the world have tried to filter the content that is shown. Traditionally, Communist countries have required censoring of content on a large scale, something Google and Yahoo refused, ending their relationships with China. Other, more religiously controlled countries, have also made content filtering, or in some cases full domain filtering, a priority. Now, a few new countries have decided to join the ranks of China, Russia, North Korea and Syria in their disdain for public discord on the internet: Germany and Canada.

Germany

The German government passed a law requiring social media companies, like Facebook and Twitter, to actively remove "unlawful content" (read hate speech) within 24 hours of posting. Failing to act within the given timeline can cost the company up to $5.7 million US. Many countries, including the Unites States, require that companies respond to reports of unlawful or harmful content within a reasonable timeframe, but Germany has taken it farther. They have redefined unlawful and have required active participation in the process, as opposed to passive response.

Interestingly, Heiko Maas, minister of justice and consumer protection, tried to put this internet censorship in terms of free speech, saying,

In an open society, in a democracy, disputes and debate are indispensable. Freedom of expression also includes sharp and ugly expression... But freedom of expression ends where criminal law begins.

Of course, free speech requires that there be no legal bounds created around speech. There can be no words spoken or written that can cross into the bounds of criminality that are not threats of violence, if you want to have a democracy or free speech. A Facebook spokesperson responded to the law, saying,

We believe the best solutions will be found when government, civil society and industry work together and that this law as it stands now will not improve efforts to tackle this important societal problem. We feel that the lack of scrutiny and consultation do not do justice to the importance of the subject. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure safety for the people on our platform.

It is unclear right now how these takedowns would work, and whether they must reside within Germany, or what posts must be removed.

Canada

Canada, seemingly taking its ideas from internet memes, decided to one-up Germany in its censorship of the internet. Rather than leaving the full details of a new law in question, Canada's Supreme Court ruled that they can control the internet as a whole. The court ruled that Google must remove a collection of search results from their system in its entirety, as opposed to only within Canada. The links in question are links that contain pirated content. The Canadian government wants any reference to this content to be hidden globally.

The problem with this ruling, of course, is that Canada cannot make laws that apply outside of their borders, though that is exactly what they are trying to do. Google is a US company, operating in countries across the world, but Canada believes that they have the ability to censor Google's content for the globe. This is even above what China asked Google to do that caused the company to ultimately leave the country entirely.

If Canada is allowed to censor the internet on a global scale, it could create a precedent that the country, or others, could use to censor any content on the web. If North Korea gets tired of Kim Jong Il memes, they could require Facebook to remove them. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, who tries to prevent overreach, either by corporations or governments, said in a blog post,

The Equustek decision is part of a troubling trend around the world of courts and other governmental bodies ordering that content be removed from the entirety of the Internet, not just in that country's locale... This framing results in Google being ordered to remove speech under Canadian law even if no court in the United States could issue a similar order.

Conclusion

This will not be the end of either of these stories. Social media companies are likely to fight Germany over the details of this new law. At the very least, more details on implementation and rules will be necessary for both the companies and the users of those services. Google will likely find a way to fight Canada's ruling over their right to control their own content, without interference from overreaching governments. The EFF will likely get involved, and Google may be forced to exit the country, or at least make the threat, in an attempt to undo this incredibly harmful ruling.

read more...

Microsoft and 343 Industries to Allow Halo Fan Game to Continue

posted Sunday Jul 2, 2017 by Scott Ertz

Microsoft and 343 Industries to Allow <i>Halo</i> Fan Game to Continue

It is unusual these days for a story about a fan-made project to have a happy ending, but that is exactly what has happened this week. While companies like Square Enix and Nintendo quickly end non-commercial fan-games and CBS and Paramount have gone on a spree ending Star Trek fan-films, Microsoft has taken a different approach. A Halo-inspired game, Installation 01, has received approval from both Microsoft and current Halo studio 343 Industries to continue developing their game.

A recently blog post from the game makers, following a call with company representatives, stated,

We are happy to announce that the outcome of the call was both incredibly informational and very positive! Through these interactions we have been ensured that Installation 01 is not under imminent legal threat, provided we remain non-commercial in nature and scope, and continue to follow Microsoft's Game Content Usage Rules to the letter. We are now able to say with certainty that Installation 01 will never be accepting donations. We also will not be selling i01 or Halo related merchandise. This is to keep a respectful distance between us and Microsoft's intellectual property. It is also important to note that these rules and assurances from 343 are specific to Installation 01 as a project, and should not be interpreted to apply elsewhere. Through ongoing communication with 343 Industries we hope that we, as a fan project, can continue to be a positive driving force within the Halo community.

This is an approach that most studios and publishers would not be interested in attempting, but Microsoft seems perfectly willing to accept the reality that dedicated fans, who feel a connection to a franchise, might want to produce their own art that takes place in that world. Perhaps, if Microsoft is able to show either a lack of harm to the sales of future games, or even an increase, because of this project, then perhaps other companies will follow suit and leave fan-made projects alone.

Outside influences can expands the ideas of a universe in a way that the creators, or the people currently involved, never imaged. Seth MacFarlane says that he never imagined Brian and Stewie being friends, but now, because of the writer's room, it seems so obvious. This doesn't just happen in television, but videogames as well. It is possible that this fan-made game could influence the creativity of 343 Industries in a positive way. Let's hope that this is a happy ending for fandoms everywhere.

read more...

10 Things People Erroneously Believe iPhone Created

posted Sunday Jul 2, 2017 by Scott Ertz

10 Things People Erroneously Believe iPhone Created

This week, iPhone turned 10 years old. In that time, communications have changed a lot, with this device being one of the major catalysts. iPhone brought a number of technologies that already existed, and made them known to the general public. However, many consumers, Apple fans and not, have a belief that many of these technologies were new when Apple announced their integration into iPhone. Here are some of the more common misconceptions.

Smartphone

Many people believe that the first iPhone created the smartphone market, though that is far from the truth, for several reasons. First, the original iPhone was not a smartphone, according to industry standards. Instead, it was classified officially as a multimedia phone, as it was missing many key features of a smartphone. In fact, it was missing many features of all other phones on the market, including cheap prepaid phones.

Even if we were to assume the original iPhone as a smartphone, it was far from the first to get there. In fact, there was already a vibrant smartphone community, far more so than today. BlackBerry had a slew of devices over a long period of time running BlackBerry OS, Nokia made a number of devices running Symbian, Palm had its devices running Palm OS (Garnet), and later partnered with Microsoft to add Windows Mobile to their lineup as well. That partnership brought Windows Mobile to the top of the smartphone stack, with other devices from Motorola, UTStarcom/HTC and more rounding out the market.

Before iPhone, smartphones were as varied as their operating systems. BlackBerry had physical keyboards that stayed in place, HTC manufactured a number of phones with hidden keyboards, and Nokia made a phone that slid two directions for two separate focuses. After iPhone, smartphones all look alike, to the point where Apple sued Samsung for stealing their design, which they stole from HTC.

Tablets

While it's true that the iPad came about as a larger iPhone or iPod Touch well after iPhone launched, it was actually the product that iPhone was supposed to be. During initial designs, the "Purple Room" developed a tablet, but it was converted into a phone well before announcement. However, the iPad, even if it had launched instead of iPhone, would still have been incredibly late to the party.

Bill Gates showed off a prototype Windows tablet in 2000, coining the term "tablet PC." But, in our office, we have a very old, entirely touchscreen tablet from Toshiba running Windows 95. That puts this tablet about 15 years before iPad's release in 2010. But even this tablet was not a new concept. In fact, the first known handwriting-recognizing tablet computer was the Linus Write-Top, released in 1987.

Apps and Stores

The Apple app market is a big part of what people think about when they think about iPhone. To our surprise, we discovered that there are people that believe that "app" is short for Apple, but of course that is not true. The abbreviation for application has existed for decades, but was mostly used among software developers and IT professionals, as it was a term that simply didn't need to exist among normal users.

Among mobile devices, such as smartphones and PDAs, applications were not new with the original iPhone. This fact is not just because the original iPhone did not have any apps or the App Store. That feature would come with a later device and a later version of the iPhone's OS. Windows Mobile, Palm OS and Symbian all supported third-party applications on their platforms.

One of the things that was interesting about these platforms is the way application deployment worked. Because they were open systems, compared to iPhone's very closed system, there were allowed to be more than one app store. On Palm, for example, there were several diverse application ecosystems that each had its purpose and intended market. Today, all platforms have their official stores, though the remaining operating systems all allow external application installation, except for iPhone.

Touchscreen Phones

As mentioned above, Apple's design was definitely inspired by HTC devices. The only way that could have been possible is if touchscreen phones had existed previously. In fact, Palm and Windows Mobile both had many devices with touchscreens, long before iPhone's launch. HTC had Windows Mobile devices without keyboards, like the HTC Touch, Palm had keyboard-less devices dating back to the 90s.

What iPhone's legacy in touchscreen phones truly is, is a forced usage of touch. Other companies offered devices with and without physical keyboards, but Apple decided that a physical keyboard was not a requirement. Personally, I miss the days of a physical keyboard on the HTC Apache, HTC Mogul, HTC Arrive and Palm Pre devices.

Phone-Based GPS

Many people, including some tech sites, credit iPhone with bringing GPS navigation to mobile phones. This, however, is not true. In fact, many flip phones before iPhone offered this feature, and smartphones either came with, or offered as an add-on, GPS capabilities. I personally used GPS on the Sanyo MM-8300 (2005), and other popular phones, such as the Motorola Razr (2004) and Motorola Rokr (2006), offered it as well.

iMessage

The most popular and most touted feature of iMessage is the delivery and read receipts. This is a great feature that is definitely not built into the SMS standard, meaning that no text messaging applications can make it happen. So, what Apple did was created a different messaging platform that did not use SMS, but instead used data, to add the feature. Of course, it only works if you are talking to someone else on the same platform. This is the same way that BlackBerry Messenger worked on their phones, and is now available on other platforms as well. There are a number of other platforms that offer the same features, including Facebook Messenger, which is also device agnostic.

Mobile Video Streaming

Dedicated mobile apps have certainly made mobile streaming far easier, but they did not make it possible. Before iPhone, some mobile browsers were capable of supporting Adobe Flash, which meant that you could easily watch online content without a dedicated application from the provider. On two separate occasions, our team attended a Halloween event here in Florida, and while in line for a haunted house, watched streaming content on different devices. In 2007 we watched an episode of Family Guy on Hulu, and in 2008 we watched the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series, to the astonishment of those around us. At that time, Neither Hulu nor MLB had streaming applications on any platforms.

Mobile Web Browsing

When I got my first phone in 2000, the Samsung SCH-8500, one of the features I used quite often was the web browser. Sure, it was black-and-white and textual, but it allowed for things like AOL Instant Messenger. Upon upgrading to the Samsung SPH-A500, the phone added color and the browser added images. BlackBerry, Palm, Windows Mobile and more all supported web browsers, with varying degrees of effectiveness.

When iPhone launched with mobile Safari, it brought the idea of mobile browsing to consumers. It also caused the other smartphone platforms to work on making their browsers better. Mobile IE on Windows Mobile 6, Windows Phone 7 and 8, and Edge on Windows 10 mobile, Chrome on Android, and Opera across many platforms, all began to work more like their desktop counterparts, and less like the browsers on older flip phones.

FaceTime (Mobile Video Chatting)

When FaceTime launched, there was much excitement among those in the Apple world, because it was a feature that hadn't existed previously. That is because Apple was just coming around to the idea of a front-facing camera with iPhone 4 in 2010. Without this hardware, video chatting on iPhone would have required a mirror behind the phone - certainly not ideal for a portable device.

However, front-facing cameras, for selfies and video chatting on other platforms, have existed on phones since 2003. Platforms like Skype, and home-grown services, had been available on mobile platforms and smartphones since before the initial iPhone launch, not to mention iPhone 4.

Good Camera

To this day, iPhone is synonymous with a "good camera" for many people. However, there have been many phones with far better cameras, some with better cameras than are even in phones today. The Nokia 808 PureView (2012) and the Nokia Lumia 1020 (2013) both offered 41 megapixel cameras, far above iPhone 7 Plus's 12 megapixel camera.

Summary

All of this is not to dismiss the effect that iPhone has had on the telecommunications industry. Because of Apple's marketing capabilities, iPhone turned smartphones from an enterprise tool for productivity to a consumption device and toy for consumers. At only a decade into a change in the industry, it is unknown whether this is a good thing or bad, but it has definitely made changes to our daily lives.

read more...

Amazing Gift Ideas for Dad That He'll Love

posted Tuesday Jun 13, 2017 by Michele Mendez

Looking for something perfect to get Dad for Father's Day but just not sure what to get? We've got you covered no matter what the budget. Check out these great ideas for a unique gift that Dad will love.

It's always 1st and Goal

Home Football BBQ SteelGrill with Wood Handle. This portable 18" charcoal grill is perfect for tailgating or bringing along to the field for the kid's games to fire up some burgers and dogs. And you can't go wrong at just $28.74.

Time for PAC-MAN

If Dad is always talking about the good ole days, give him the best of function and throw back with this PAC-MAN Premium LED Desk Clock. There are 512 vibrant, full color LED's that perfectly display fun animations of PAC-MAN and the Ghosts. Order yours for only $49.99.

Speaking of Retro

This Qwerkywriter Typewriter Wireless Mechanical Keyboard is beyond cool. Mixing the best of both worlds, it has chromed vintage inspired typewriter round keycaps along with a rechargeable battery and micro programmable all metal return bar. Right now you can get it for $289, a $60 savings.

Fold It and Go

Of course if the mechanical keyboard isn't quite his style, this Foldable Bluetooth Keyboard might be a better choice. It works with iOS, Android, Windows, PC, Tablets and Smartphones. And folds down to a compact design that will fit into a jacket pocket or slip right in to a briefcase. It's perfect for the dad that works on the go. Order now for just $26.99.

Work and Play Anywhere

If a new keyboard isn't quite enough, the Surface Laptop is a great option to replace his existing computer. Light enough for travel but power enough for work or play, the Surface Laptop will definitely match his style. Pre-order yours now to your specifications.

read more...

YouTube Gives Themselves an Out in Video Monitization

posted Saturday Jun 3, 2017 by Scott Ertz

YouTube Gives Themselves an Out in Video Monitization

While Facebook might be adding ways to engage with an audience, YouTube is focusing down on what content that creators can share. The company's new monetization guidelines have been released, and they have definitely left a wide definition for what is considered acceptable to the platform.

The three main types of content that are now considered non-monitizable are: inappropriate use of family entertainment characters, hateful content and incendiary and demeaning content. The first is pretty clear - don't use kids cartoons in suggestive scenarios. If you do, such as in parody content, you will be able to keep it online, but will not be able to run any advertising alongside.

The second, hateful content, is defined by YouTube as content that

promotes discrimination or disparages or humiliates an individual or group of people on the basis of the individual's or group's race, ethnicity, or ethnic origin, nationality, religion, disability, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other characteristic associated with systematic discrimination or marginalization.

The last, however, is very open to interpretation, in a way that seems incredibly purposeful. This gives YouTube content monitors the ability to pull advertising from nearly any video that it needs to in order to preserve the relationship with an advertiser. Google recently hit a snag with its previous rules, regulations and content processes, which resulted in major advertisers pulling their campaigns from all non-search platforms.

With the help of these new guidelines, and their purposeful vagueness, Google hopes to bring those advertisers back to YouTube.

read more...
Newer
Older
We're live now - Join us!
PLuGHiTZ Keyz

Email

Password

Forgot password? Recover here.
Not a member? Register now.
Blog Meets Brand Stats