Oh boy. TC Sottek just published an editorial on the failure of the FCC. Earlier today the WSJ reported that the FCC is planning on proposing new ‘net neutrality’ laws that fly in the face of everything that net neutrality is.
Political cowardice caused the FCC to lose its first battle for net neutrality regulation: the rules that keep the internet as you know it free and open. The idea of net neutrality is that all traffic is created equal — whether you’re a movie streaming from Netflix, or a WhatsApp message, or a Tweet, or a bulletin board message. But according to a report from the Wall Street Journal, instead of trying to correct the errors it made in open internet rules the first time around, the FCC will consider enacting new rules that directly destroy the principles of net neutrality. The proposal would allow profit hungry behemoths like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon to become gatekeepers that give preferential treatment to companies that pay the most for special access to customers.
I know I freaked out when Netflix decided to pay Comcast to ensure it’s customers could stream movies, but it was for good reason. With this new agreement corporations can pay to get preferential treatment. It’s basically the worst idea ever. Read TC’s editorial.
Like most Xbox One owners I’ve been playing a good amount of Titanfall. But something I’ve noticed more and more is silence. No one is using their headsets to talk to each other. The only audio I get during the game is the crackling of the NPC commander yelling at me. This is true in every game type I’ve played, including Hardpoint, an objective based game type.
It’s just insane to me that no one uses their headset. Especially when playing games where tactics are a huge part, you have to use your mic. With a microphone included with every Xbox One and Xbox 360 there is no excuse.
I’ve noticed this trend in the last few years on Xbox. When I was started playing games on Xbox Live (Crimson Skies and then Halo 2) people wouldn’t shut up. You always knew exactly where everyone was, who was going to take the flag and who was staying behind to defend.
It actually got to the point where there was too much conversation. Sure you’d get people would singing, and there was a ton of trash talk (I produced twovideos at CollegeHumor exploring just that) but those were fringe cases and overall it was better that people were talking.
There was so much talking during Xbox games that Bungie made a point to show how easy it was to mute people in Halo 3. That’s what I want to get back to. Making shooters social again. I would much rather mute a few people talking too much (or breathing heavily into their mic) than have complete silence during the game.
I first noticed the decline of conversation playing Halo Reach Multiplayer and it was very apparent in Halo 4 (ok, look I don’t play that many online multiplayer games, but Halo is a big enough series that I think it makes for an adequate sample size). Since roughly 2010 I’ve noticed a decline in talking during multiplayer games.
Now, I’m not saying we should all immediately become best friends with everyone who we play Xbox Live with. But letting your teammates know that you’re going to attack or defend goes a long way. Me and the small group of friends who play Halo together are not, by any means, great at Halo (well Justin is, but he’s an anomaly). But because we’re talking we win far more matches than we lose.
And I think everyone can agree that it’s way more fun to win a multiplayer game than to lose.
If you’d like to play Titanfall with me my Gamer Tag is Ice Jedi. But please, wear a headset.
Earlier this month Xbox partner development lead Frank Savage let it slip that there are some plans for the Xbox One to get some backwards compatability. From Joystiq:
"There are [plans], but we’re not done thinking them through yet, unfortunately," said Savage, as reported by Kotaku Australia. “It turns out to be hard to emulate the PowerPC stuff on the X86 stuff. So there’s nothing to announce, but I would love to see it myself.”
So here’s the thing. I don’t really want (or expect) 60 dollar retail Xbox 360 games playable on my Xbox One. As… fanboy(?) as it sounds, I do have a perfectly good Xbox 360 sitting right next to my Xbox One, and if I really have the need to play Halo 4 or The Club I can very easily turn it on. Actually, I was playing the BioShock Infinite DLC over the weekend.
What I DO want, and what I think would be really important to people, is if XBLA games were backwards compatible. XBLA games are a great way to augment the library on new hardware. I (like many people I know) purchased a lot of XBLA games. Most of which are highly repayable, and really helped define the last console generation.
I’ve actually been putting some really solid time into Geometry Wars 2 (it’s basically a perfect game. The game modes, the music, and the visual aesthetic compliment each other so well, no other game I’ve played is this well put together). It’s a great way to wind down after a 14 hour day on set (as my day job I’m a commercial producer) or after a couple of really intense games of Titanfall.
I guess what I’m saying is even if it’s “hard to emulate the PowerPC stuff” and doing so uses a lot of computing power, it shouldn’t affect most XBLA titles. So I hope we see some backwards compatibility on Xbox One and I hope I can migrate some of those titles over.
I usually write this post closer toWWDC, but iOS 7 is in need of a lot of work so I’m posting early. I’m not even going to request defaults for email, browser, and maps. There’s no point dwelling on things that are never, ever going to happen. Let’s jump in.
- Shake to Undo Really? You’re still here? My iOS 5 request list asked if there was a better, cleaner way to handle undo and yet, it’s still hanging around. There HAS to be a better way than shaking the phone to deal with undo. But maybe not? It’s been in iOS for so long I’m almost convinced there’s no better way. Almost.
- Smarter About Pausing Music Sometimes the volume should be just lowered not totally stop. If I’m listening to music and then I quickly want to record a video of something. My music doesn’t need to turn completely off and remain off until I launch into the Music App again and hit play. Apple can be smarter about that.
- Folders Folders have become abysmal in iOS 7. Only 9 items on screen at a time? And you can actually trap apps on their own page without knowing it. I never particularly liked the old folders, but some kind of hybrid of old folders with pages is a great place to start.
- Lock Screen We should be interacting more with the lock screen. The lock screen as it is now seems too much like it’s been hacked together from what the original lock screen was and made to work as notifications became more important. It needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.
I should be able to reply to a text message from the lock screen.
I should be able to launch into the dock apps from the lock screen (much the way TouchWiz and Sense work). That way from lock screen and from multitasking you can always get to your most important apps.
We don’t need a clock to take up 1/3 of the lock screen.
Notifications that are outdated should go away. My transit app displays that there were delays on the 6 train this morning, even after it’s been corrected.
- Touch ID Open up Touch ID so it can manage passwords on websites or within apps. I have to type in a ridiculous password every time I need to go into my banks app. Would love to bypass that with my fingerprint.
I would bet 1000 dollars that this is coming in IOS 8. It’s the natural iteration of Touch ID and a way for people to get excited about it. Especially since it’s very likely that more devices are going to get Touch ID this year. Expect it in all new iPhones and iPads in the fall.
From YouTube, to Pandora, to Spotify, streaming music is piloting our listening habits in fascinating new ways that both upend old hierarchies and recall innovations of previous eras. Eric Harvey explores how these developments are affecting ideas of taste, access, and ownership in the 21st century, and what this shift means for fans and artists alike.
This Pitchfork cover story is wonderful, beautiful, and exactly in line with how I’ve been thinking recently. Go read it if only to see the great design.
Kyle Orland just dropped a bomb revealing two month look at Steam sales and games played. It’s incredible. Go read the whole thing. Here’s just a sample.
As you can see, just because a game is registered to a lot of Steam accounts doesn’t mean it’s popular. Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, for instance, is the third-most popular game on the service by ownership, registered to about 12.8 million Steam accounts by our count. But the tech demo, which shows off some deleted content from Half-Life 2, has only been actively loaded up by about 2.1 million of those owners, placing it behind 35 other Steam games by that metric.
According to documents obtained exclusively by The Verge, Google is about to launch a renewed assault on your television set called Android TV. Major video app providers are building for the platform right now. Android TV may sound like a semantic difference — after all, Google TV was based on Android — but it’s something very different. Android TV is no longer a crazy attempt to turn your TV into a bigger, more powerful smartphone. “Android TV is an entertainment interface, not a computing platform,” writes Google. “It’s all about finding and enjoying content with the least amount of friction.” It will be “cinematic, fun, fluid, and fast.”
Some quick thoughts:
The inclusion of Hangouts is really interesting. Does that mean a supported camera? Keyboard?
If this is running Android, what is Chrome OS for? Ok maybe that’s an unfair jab at Chrome OS, but if the Chromecast was built on Chrome OS, why is this new thing built on Android? It’s just another item on the, “why does chrome OS exist” list.
sigh to the optional game controller.
Back to the Hangouts thing, can you snap Hangouts off to the side, like on Xbox? Because that would be kind of awesome.
Ok, those are my quick thoughts. Hopefully all will be revealed soon.
When Apple released iOS 6 it was very much the same OS it had previously. The features it showed off were more refined but there was nothing groundbreaking, nothing that screamed “I have to download this right now!” By the time iOS 6 was announced we already had multitasking, Siri, copy/paste, FaceTime, Folders, and Notification Center.
By this point Apple had been known for showing of “tent pole features” on stage. The things that re really going to wow everyone, and get developers and consumers excited. The features shown off for iOS 6 were: - Apple maps - Siri enhancements - Facebook integration - Shared Photo Streams - Passbook - FaceTime over cellular - Phone enhancements - Mail enhancements - Safari enhancements - Accessibility enhancements
Looking at that list, it doesn’t really seem like an update worth a point zero. I was underwhelmed, and the more I thought about it, the more I directly related feeling to the fact that they called it iOS 6 and not iOS 5.5. It just felt like a refresh, a spring cleaning, and not a renovation.
iOS 7 still feels a little rough around the edges. 7.1 improves some things and slightly redesigns some others, but my phone still crashes for no reason, and folders are still a mess. What Apple really needs is to release a Snow Leopard for iOS. They don’t need to release a ton of forward facing features for users, they just need to clean everything up and make it all work nicely together. A faster, lighter, OS that doesn’t crash.
Don’t get me wrong here, there is a 0% chance that Apple calls whatever ships on the next iPhone 7.5. I have no doubt they’re going to call it iOS 8. They need to for marketing reasons. I’m just trying to apply logic where I shouldn’t. I’m just writing this for my own sanity.
You should read Dan Seifert’s look at the just announced HTC One M8.
Now the company is launching its next big effort at a comeback. The new One, also known as the M8, is better than last year’s already impressive model in almost every respect: the design has been refined, it has a bigger battery, the processor is faster, the camera has new tricks, and the software has been made friendlier. It is without a doubt a stunning device and it demonstrates that HTC put a lot of effort into making the best smartphone it could.
To hear Microsoft user researcher Deborah Hendersen tell it, players genuinely do love game stories. We just can’t remember them, have trouble describing them, and usually never find out how they end. Hendersen spoke at GDC about user-testing game narratives: finding out whether early scripts are clear to and resonate with players. The answers, to anyone who hopes players pore over their stories, were probably disappointing. In an attempt to figure out what was important to players, Henderson interviewed hundreds of study participants about their favorite games. The participants took fewer words to describe the stories of games they liked than they did those of their favorite movies. Many could barely describe the plots at all, forgetting major beats and long middle sections. One participant, asked to talk about his favorite Call of Duty character, instead described the sort of person he liked to kill in multiplayer.
Amazon is about to raise the price of its Prime membership service for the first time ever in the US, bringing the cost up to $99 per year, $20 above where it’s been for nearly a decade. The price change goes into effect on April 17th, and those signing up or renewing their service before then will still be able to pay the original, less-expensive price for a final year.
I suspect, that this has everything to do with streaming and nothing to do with shipping. I just worry that soon we’ll hear that Amazon is paying Comcast and AT&T so their streaming goes uninterrupted, just like Netflix. And we all made that possible.
Nilay Patel explains why Netflix paying Comcast and Verizon is bad for the internet, why they feel they had to do it, and (more importantly) how we’ve gotten to this place.
Here’s a simple truth: the internet has radically changed the world. Over the course of the past 20 years, the idea of networking all the world’s computers has gone from a research science pipe dream to a necessary condition of economic and social development, from government and university labs to kitchen tables and city streets. We are all travelers now, desperate souls searching for a signal to connect us all. It is awesome.
And we’re fucking everything up.
In the meantime, the companies that control the internet have continued down a dark path, free of any oversight or meaningful competition to check their behavior. In January, AT&T announced a new “sponsored data” plan that would dramatically alter the fierce one-click-away competition that’s thus far characterized the internet. Earlier this month,Comcast announced plans to merge with Time Warner Cable, creating an internet service behemoth that will serve 40 percent of Americans in 19 of the 20 biggest markets with virtually no rivals.
And after months of declining Netflix performance on Comcast’s network, the two companies announced a new “paid peering” arrangement on Sunday, which will see Netflix pay Comcast for better access to its customers, a capitulation Netflix has been trying to avoid for years. Paid peering arrangements are common among the network companies that connect the backbones of the internet, but consumer companies like Netflix have traditionally remained out of the fray — and since there’s no oversight or transparency into the terms of the deal, it’s impossible to know what kind of precedent it sets. …
If you read one article today, it should be this one.
Verizon’s CEO wasted no time in announcing that the company expected to strike a similar bargain [to the one Netflix has with Comacst]. On CNBC this morning Verizon’s chief Lowell McAdams revealed that Netflix and Verizon have been in talks for almost a year now, and that he expects to finalize a deal soon. “If you see someone come in with a lot of load on the internet, [with] video, you’ve got to get that in an efficient place. So making the connection far out on the network is a good thing, and frankly, paying for it,” said McAdams. “To me this shows you don’t necessarily need a lot of regulation in a dynamic market here. By doing these commercial deals we’ll get good investments and good returns for both parties.”
These deals have proponents of net neutrality up in arms, and seem like a stark contrast to Netflix’s stated position from last month, when it threatened to provoke customer outrage if it had to pay to stop the degradation of its traffic. The recent Comcast announcement that it would purchase Time Warner Cable, along with expectations of further consolidation in the cable industry, may have been a tipping point in the ongoing negotiations between Netflix and the companies that carry its video traffic.
Netflix is really screwing over consumers here. This is exactly the reason why we need net neutrality. Hulu, Amazon and anyone trying to start a new streaming service is now going to be forced into making similar deals or face bullying from the carriers / ISPs. You can basically say goodbye to innovation, and count out any new companies from entering the streaming game.
Netflix, for the love of the Internet, please stop this.
Netflix Inc. has agreed to pay Comcast Corp. to ensure Netflix movies and TV shows stream smoothly to Comcast customers, a landmark agreement that could set a precedent for Netflix’s dealings with other broadband providers, people familiar with the situation said.
In exchange for payment, Netflix will get direct access to Comcast’s broadband network, the people said. The multiyear deal comes just 10 days after Comcast agreed to buy Time Warner Cable Inc., which if approved would establish Comcast as by far the dominant provider of broadband in the U.S., serving 30 million households.
No. No, no, no, no. This is not how it is supposed to work. How can anyone expect to innovate and compete when giant companies are paying for access. Netflix is just as wrong as Comcast is in this case. They’re setting a terrible precedent.
[edit 1: thanks to makesu1der for the grammar check]
[edit 2: so, this article is completely readable in my twitter app (Tweetbot) but it’s behind a paywall on an actual computer. I can’t figure out why. I can only point you to my pervious article.]
Ryan Letourneau writes a great article about people and the internet.
Although the immediate impetus for this post is Flappy Bird developer Dong Nguyen announcing that he’ll be pulling the game from the App Store due to intense media and public scrutiny, I’ve wanted to make a post about the toxic nature of online interactions for a long time. The fucked up thing is that what’s held me back is the belief that by making a post decrying the ridiculous nature and amount of abuse that people get and give online on a daily basis, I would make myself a target for the same kind of bullshit I’m advocating against. At the very least, I hated the idea that the feedback I’d hear back on this post is the same old chorus of, “people are mean to one another online, get over it” that some people are happy to trot out any time someone expresses unhappiness about the awful way people treat each other over the internet. What I really hate about it is that it somehow implies that it’s okay to be disproportionally terrible to one another online because somehow interactions over the internet are less “real” than those in real life. I don’t know if many people actually believe that deep down, but I know for sure that I disagree.
He also sums it up nicely with that old internet adage, “Don’t be a dick.”
Casey Johnston wrote an incredibly long article about Facebook. She profiles the service as it has affected her life and evolved from the .edu exclusive it was to a place where people are actually scared of posting because of how popular a place it’s become. She kills it, as usual.
Some romantic pixels have been spilled about the way no one is ever lost to anyone anymore; most people, including ex-lovers, estranged family members, or missed connections are only a Wi-Fi signal away.
Even if you had your own great stuff to tell Facebook about, someone out there is always doing better. And Facebook won’t let you forget. The brewing feeling of inferiority means users don’t post about stuff that might be too lame. They might start to self-censor, and then the bar for what is worth the “risk” of posting rises higher and higher. As people stop posting, there is less to see, less reason to come back and interact, like, or comment on other people’s material. Ultimately, people, in turn, have less reason to post.
Facebook, like every other Internet profile, gave yet another opportunity to curate an identity. But ultimately we run back into ourselves, one way or another. People simply aren’t reliable curators; there isn’t enough good stuff going on. We can’t stay interesting long enough, especially with an unreliable audience. Hence why Facebook’s gaps are now filled by brands.