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Facebook Launches a Slingshot to Fight Snapchat

posted Sunday Jun 22, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Facebook Launches a Slingshot to Fight Snapchat

Somewhere between oddball projects and dropping billions on somewhat unrelated tech, Facebook is always in the mood to launch products to compete with what's in the market. And apparently its purchase of WhatsApp for $16 billion wasn't enough, so why not launch another messaging app?

Because the world needs another psuedo-disappearing picture app, Facebook has launched Slingshot, a similar app for iPhone and Android that won't require a Facebook account to use. The one caveat here, though, is the "take a penny, leave a penny" motive behind the app. If you want to view a photo, one must share a photo as well. So if a user has a photo in their inbox, they must reply first in order to view it. It's been reported that the users of Snapchat actually send more pictures per day than WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook put together. If that's the case, I suppose it would make sense for Facebook to strike while the iron is hot.

But Facebook has already attempted this a while ago, with Poke, and I'm not talking about the feature that your grandmother keeps clicking on and asking you what it does. Facebook killed the Snapchat lookalike back in May before dropping serious cash on both Instagram and WhatsApp.

And with brands, sports teams and events all taking to Snapchat in order to take advantage of new features the product has each day, the popularity is increasing at a rapid rate. Now if Facebook can incorporate its already massive data bank into the app, and allow existing brands to tie the two together, perhaps we'll see the app take off. However with the raising concerns of privacy, along with the feeling of Snapchat being just another fad app, I can't see Slingshot working out either.

It should also be noted that, as mentioned, it's only available for iOS and Android, so that leaves Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Tizen and a bunch of up-and-coming platforms in the dust. While those two systems are the biggest right now, their marketshare is quickly dwindling and new app developers need to start considering the rest of the platforms in order to really become successful rather than just a flash in the pan.

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E3 Does Well for Twitch, Company Awarded Two World Records During Week

posted Saturday Jun 21, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

E3 Does Well for Twitch, Company Awarded Two World Records During Week

E3 is an expo that can either go really well or really badly for a company. In the case of Twitch, the show was an outstanding success. People who couldn't or didn't want to attend the event could watch it from the comfort of their own home and could enjoy multiple streams of dozens of game developers and hundreds of games. E3 week was so great for Twitch that it even saw the company receive two world records.

For the first day of E3 coverage, which technically wasn't the first day of E3, Twitch saw 5.9 million unique viewers tune into the broadcasts. For the entire broadcast week, Twitch hit a staggering 12 million unique viewers checking out their gaming content. Plus, over 405,000 people watched the E3 livestream on the first day at the same time. These numbers alone shows how gamers and the industry as a whole are altering their ways to consume their content. In total Twitch sees around 45 million unique viewers each month to the website to watch over 1 million people broadcast their gameplay.

Game companies and manufacturers both took notice to Twitch's up-and-coming success and Nintendo even hosted content all week on its own channel on the streaming service. Dubbed the Treehouse, fans logged on for the four days to watch game devs, execs and others all try out new games on the Nintendo hardware.

Twitch's VP of marketing, Matthew DiPietro said this about its E3 efforts.

By helping our partners get the most value out of their E3 presence with our centralized platform and our partnership with the ESA, the numbers illustrated it was a resounding success. As a result, we were able to offer our global community a front row seat to all of the best content from the show.

Not only did E3 bring in huge numbers for Twitch, but the week brought two world records to the company. From February 12th to March 1st, 2014, you might have remembered a little thing called "Twitch Plays Pokemon." Well, that saga was so well-loved by gamers and fans everywhere that on June 12th the Guinness World Record for most participants on a single-player online video game was awarded to Twitch with a total of 1,165,140 gamers. Guinness also presented the World Record for most concurrent viewers for a video game livestreaming service with 826,778. And while that latter record seems a little specific, it's still pretty impressive. The company is so proud about the records that it is selling a T-shirt to commemorate the occasion, with all proceeds going to ExtraLife and St. Jude PLAY LIVE charities.

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T-Mobile CEO John Legere Drops F-Bombs, Says AT&T and Verizon are Raping You

posted Saturday Jun 21, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

T-Mobile CEO John Legere Drops F-Bombs, Says AT&T and Verizon are Raping You

T-Mobile is on a rampage lately. CEO John Legere, known for his very "out there" personality and as someone who isn't afraid to just say what's on his mind, has taken things to a whole new level at the recent T-Mobile press conference. In what was a direct attack at the competition during the announcement of T-Mobile's new Music Freedom program, Legere went on record to drop more than a few F-bombs and even say the other carriers are "raping you" with their policies.

While some profanity and jaw-dropping remarks are not a surprise coming from the almost-hipster CEO, the length he went to that night seems a bit extreme. Since taking over the CEO position in 2012, he definitely has changed the company from lying about its 4G networks to something that is causing Verizon, Sprint and AT&T to actually adapt to the announcements T-Mobile is putting out. And with that, he's changed the company's image to something more edgy, albeit it occasionally over the line. In the Music Freedom press conference, he said this about Verizon Wireless and AT&T.

These high and mighty duopolists that are raping you for every penny you have...they f****** hate you.

Like I said, while I am no longer shocked by his persona of "coolness" to appeal and attract a young, new crowd, perhaps one that is the chief executive of a top company shouldn't be throwing out the "rape" word to a group of people in the media. And I'd be right in that thought process too, if it wasn't for the fact Legere realized he went too far and actually apologized on Twitter for his remark. I think it might be his first public apology ever.

The drawback to having no filter when I speakā€¦ sometimes I need a filter. Genuinely apologize to those offended last night

Am I getting too old to appreciate the rough-edged comments from a guy that I believe should always be wearing a leather jacket? Or did he really cross a line? I know he doesn't care, but do you? Courtesy of The Verge, there's a video clip of the highlights from the evening. I encourage you all to check it out and let me know what you think.

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Star Wars Parts Ways with JJ Abrams for Future Projects

posted Saturday Jun 21, 2014 by Scott Ertz

<i>Star Wars</i> Parts Ways with JJ Abrams for Future Projects

When Disney purchased Lucasfilm, it was announced that another trilogy was coming. Shortly after, it was announced that Star Trek reboot director JJ Abrams would run the show. Well, this week that has changed some, with Abrams out after Episode VII, in production now.

In his place will be Looper writer-director Rian Johnson. While his major film debut was well-received, jumping from Looper to Star Wars is a pretty major leap for anyone, despite their talent. In fact, it is hard to imagine a higher point in any director or writer's career, so I guess it's good to get that out of the way almost immediately.

Johnson will be joined by Producer Ram Bergman, who produced both of Johnson's previous films. It is unclear why Abrams is leaving the franchise, but it could have to do with his work on future Star Trek films, another upcoming project, or possibly something else entirely. It would be pretty unexpected for Abrams to be removed against his will, though, as he has had numerous successes in the science fiction realm, such as Cloverfield, Revolution, Lost and, of course, Star Trek. With a successful track record like that, it would almost have to have been his choice.

Do you think this will affect quality on Episodes VIII and IX for the better or worse? Sound off in the comments.

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EFF Encourages People to Allow Strangers on Their Internet

posted Saturday Jun 21, 2014 by Scott Ertz

EFF Encourages People to Allow Strangers on Their Internet

Over the past few months, there has been a conversation online about the value of open source software, especially security software. This, this course, was spawned by the disaster caused by OpenSSL and their two security issues over just a few weeks, followed by the troubles of an open source hard drive encryption program.

Companies and individuals have, understandably, become more weary of using open source products because of the ease of access to discover security vulnerabilities. Despite this trend, the Electronic Freedom Foundation has released an open source firmware for Internet routers that allows you to give complete strangers access to your Internet connection without asking permission.

Clearly, there are a number of security concerns with this concept, but let's talk about the goal of this move first. The idea is that, with an open Internet connection, people will be less likely to try and hack your router. On their website, OpenWireless, they said,

We are aiming to build technologies that would make it easy for Internet subscribers to portion off their wireless networks for guests and the public while maintaining security, protecting privacy, and preserving quality of access. And we are working to debunk myths (and confront truths) about open wireless while creating technologies and legal precedent to ensure it is safe, private, and legal to open your network.

With the ability to connect to just about any router wherever you are, your mobile data usage could shrink significantly. While AT&T and Verizon might not like to see data usage drop, your wallet almost certainly would.

Now, on the other hand, there is the security and legal issues to overcome. First, it is currently not legal in most places to connect to a private router without the owner's permission. That would definitely make opening up your router to the public a bit of a problem. Luckily for supporters, as the EFF says, they are working to legalize the practice.

Personal security is the chief concern with this technology, however. By giving access to your connection, you are exposing yourself to a number of legal and privacy issues. For example, someone on your connection, reporting as your IP address, could download a movie and get caught for it. Your IP address is tied to your personal identity, though, so as far as the law is concerned, the offense originated in your home, making you personally responsible.

More importantly, though, is the overall protection of your data. With an open source firmware, you are leaving your router more susceptible to attack from people who might want to steal data from you. What data might you have that someone could steal? You probably bank online, you have tax return information, possibly documents with personal identification - all stuff that could fetch a high price online from people who would steal your identity. Definitely not a great place to allow for easy access.

I totally understand the idea and the desire for open Internet access; the price of mobile data is insane on the top two carriers. However, creating it at the detriment of your privacy or security seems not to be a great idea.

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Nintendo Loses Patent Case to Philips in UK

posted Saturday Jun 21, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Nintendo Loses Patent Case to Philips in UK

Philips and Nintendo have had an interesting relationship for more than 2 decades. In the early 90s, Philips released a computer system that was mostly marketed as a videogame console. As part of a development agreement between the two companies, the CD-i featured 4 games which were based on Nintendo franchises: 1 Mario and 3 Zelda games. The device was a massive commercial failure.

Skip ahead to 2006 and Philips has completely gotten out of the industry and Nintendo has a unique new console which will go on to sell over 100 million units: the Wii. Its motion-based controller attracted the attention of all sorts of people, including Philips executives.

As it turns out, Philips has a trio of patents that cover the paired use of a camera and motion sensor in a single device. This pairing is exactly how the Wii's motion controllers work. The end of the controller is an infrared camera that tracks the position of two infrared lights in the sensor bar.

Philips filed a patent infringement suit against Nintendo in several markets, including the UK and the US. This week a verdict was handed down in the UK case, and Nintendo did not come out as the winner, at least in two of the three patents.

The damages will be decided next month, but it is possible that Nintendo will have to pay a licensing fee for each console sold. Most likely the damages will be limited to UK consoles, but could be global. That would certainly not make Nintendo's current financial situation any better. In the US case, which is still ongoing, Philips is looking to block sales entirely, so at least a licensing fee is a little better.

It is unlikely that Nintendo will be barred from selling its hardware in the US, but this is a nasty precedent that could influence the decision here. This is the world's worst time for Nintendo to have a situation like this, what with having trouble selling their new console and losing money for the first time ever in the past few quarters.

Will Nintendo be able to recover from this loss, or will this be the move required for them to sell out? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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