The UpStream (Page 120)

Original Star Wars Films Tipped for Re-Release

posted Saturday Sep 19, 2015 by Scott Ertz

Original Star Wars Films Tipped for Re-Release

It has been a long time since the original Star Wars films were available to the public. Because Lucas cannot leave a good thing alone, it seems like every few years he releases another special edition, with changes to the graphics, the characters, the environments and, in one annoying case, the story of the film. Well, it appears that Lucas, or possibly Disney, in their infinite wisdom, are considering re-releasing the original theatrical cuts of the films.

Director John Landis, a friend of George Lucas, has apparently suggested the importance of re-releasing the films before the next film releases. This would give a new generation of fans the ability to experience the films the way they were originally intended to be seen, not in their remastered, or bastardized depending on your views, versions.

Let's be clear - there is no official confirmation from either company about this topic. There is, however, a Q&A with Landis himself, speaking at the opening night of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort. Oblivious of the importance of the words being spoken, Landis discusses his conversation with George Lucas, documented on Twitter by Empire Magazine.

There will be issues before this potential becomes reality. First, George Lucas no longer owns Lucasfilm, the company that is responsible for the franchise. Disney would be responsible for approving the rerelease. However, Disney isn't the only company involved. Like with several portions of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, 20th Century Fox would have to be involved as well, as they have the distribution rights to Episode IV: A New Hope. Unfortunately, the two companies have not been working well together, with Fox preventing the inclusion of the X-Men and Fantastic Four from joining the primary storyline, so it is a longshot to get them onboard, assuming Disney is event interested.

As this rumor is beyond shaky, it is completely probable that absolutely nothing will come of this. However, the possibility of seeing Han shoot first on Blu-Ray is enough to get the Star Wars fans excited.

Google Adds Another Country to Those Asserting Anti-Trust

posted Saturday Sep 19, 2015 by Scott Ertz

Google Adds Another Country to Those Asserting Anti-Trust

In the technology world, it sucks to be on top. In the late 90s, when the Internet was just becoming popular with average consumers, Microsoft saw that the Internet was the part of computers people understood how to use, and decided to make Windows more Internet-y. Rather than writing new software for this task, they included Internet Explorer as part of the operating system. What would become the EU wasn't happy, and they sued Microsoft for the convenience.

Today, Google is at the top of the Internet pile, and some of their decisions have brought upon them the same response that Microsoft received in the 90s. Country after country has started investigations of filed antitrust suits against Google for a variety of reasons. From the US FTC to France, the European Union and beyond, everyone seems to want a piece of Google. Some of the topics have been ridiculous, but others have some merit.

Russia believes they have enough of merit at this point, having ruled that Google has violated antitrust laws in the country. Their point of contention with the company is that Google requires hardware manufacturers to include certain Google apps and branding in their phones and tablets if they want to access Google Play.

Interestingly, Russia did not get involved in the Microsoft situation in the 90s. This varies from Microsoft in one really important way - the Google apps are not essential to the operation of Android, but instead are supplementary, and are included as a matter of forced policy as opposed to necessity. On the other hand, Internet Explorer was included as a matter of inclusion in the operating system and computer manufactures were free to install additional browsers and set them as default.

Under law, Google could face fines of up to 15 percent of revenue generated within the Russian Federation as a result of the deceit. It is not certain what the exact details of the ruling will be, but it is likely that the clause requiring Google services will be removed for the market, and a steep financial penalty. The full draft of the ruling, and its result, will be available within 2 weeks.

Siri Remote: The Biggest Limiting Factor for Gaming on Apple TV

posted Saturday Sep 19, 2015 by Scott Ertz

Siri Remote: The Biggest Limiting Factor for Gaming on Apple TV

When Apple announced its intentions for gaming on the new Apple TV, the thing that made for the biggest excitement was the usage of MFi controllers. The Siri remote might be okay for general navigation on the system, but it is definitely not the best input for gaming, and it was clear that Apple knew this. That meant that if you wanted to actually build a real game instead of just a casual nonsense game, you could.

Unfortunately, Apple has let the wind out of developers sails with a single clause in the tvOS developer guide:

Your game must support the Apple TV remote. Your game may not require the use of a controller.

That kind of rule might be a good way to ensure inclusion into your game store, but it doesn't encourage developers to build games that really rock. There was little hope that the Apple TV would see hardware sales because of its gaming capabilities at first, but there was some hope for them with full controller capabilities. Unfortunately, no full-scale games can be built to be playable with the equivalent of a single D-Pad and 2 buttons. That kind of input can only support small, casual-style games, and those games cannot sell hardware.

This rule is a change from the initial manual, which stated clearly,

Unlike iOS apps, Apple TV apps can require the user to own a full game controller that supports the extended gamepad profile, but requiring a full game controller is highly discouraged. When you restrict an app, only users who already have a full game controller will see your game.

It is always possible that Apple will reverse course on this decision if enough gamers and developers complain about the limitation, but the company is not known for bowing to customer demand. Maybe this will be the exception to the rule.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of iOS 9

posted Saturday Sep 19, 2015 by Scott Ertz

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of iOS 9

This week, the newest update to Apple's mobile operating system was released to the public, bringing iOS 9 to existing devices (iPhone 4S and higher). The update, which Apple says is mostly centered around stability and bug fixes, does have a number of enhancements that make it a good install, but it has not been all roses for Apple and its users. Let's cover the different aspects so you can make an informed decision.

The Good

One of the main complaints we hear about iPhones, regardless of the generation, is the battery life. With the new battery management software built into iOS 9, Apple promises to add an additional hour of life to the same device versus iOS 8. This could be a big benefit for heavy users who have to carry additional batteries on a daily basis. Apple also claims that the crash rate is lower on the new platform versus older versions.

Because of the way Siri is implemented into iOS, adding new features requires profound work, and updates on the server as well as the client. This update brings new features to Siri, including new questions that can be asked and new capabilities. Apple has implemented one of Cortana's best features: location-based notifications. All of this and it takes up less space on your device than iOS 8. It seems like it could be a no-brainer to upgrade.

The Bad

While Apple claims lower app crashes, users seem to be reporting a different experience. Users are reporting on social media issues ranging from single apps not launching to all apps failing after the upgrade from iOS 8 to iOS 9. This is not a new occurrence, as aspects of an operating system are subject to change in updates, and apps taking advantage of those features can see app crashes.

Under normal circumstances, however, professional developers will have tested their apps on a new platform before it launches to the public. This is why Microsoft, Apple and Google release developer builds well ahead of their public launch. The fact that these issues still exist can indicate one of a few things: lazy developers, a slow app release process from Apple or new bugs added after the developer preview. Hopefully these issues will be resolved quickly, no matter whose fault they are.

The Ugly

The of the things Apple customers were most excited about were the security enhancements. One security patch in particular has been around for a while and was expected to be solved in iOS 9. The problem surrounds a feature of AirDrop which allows enterprise customers to remotely install applications onto iPhones and iPads in their control. As it turns out, the feature was poorly implemented, allowing anyone with access to a publisher certificate to easily push malware to phones.

In iOS 9, Apple didn't exactly fix the problem so much as patch around it. Now, instead of AirDrop running at the system level, it runs sandboxed. This prevents anything AirDrop-related from access system-related data. Now, these surprise apps cannot steal data on their own. However, if they mimic other apps, or you open them for other reasons, they will still have access to your contacts, locations, etc.

AT&T and Verizon Ordered to Improve Network Quality in California

posted Sunday Sep 13, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo

Fines have been coming down upon telecom companies over the past year. Most notably, T-Mobile got hit by the FTC a few months ago over 911 outages. Now, the California Public Utilities Commission has gone after both AT&T and Verizon, saying that the two companies have not has a consistent and quality service in the state. The CPUC is seeking damages unless the two cell phone providers fix their infrastructure.

The CPUC will now be conducting an investigation into AT&T and Verizon over the next six months to "report on progress towards completion" of significant network improvements. In the first three months of the case, the Commission will also have to present updates on whether or not AT&T and Verizon have paid for the study. The two companies are both going to be responsible for providing the necessary financial support to a third party contractor who is working for the CPUC.

This isn't the beginning of the saga, however. Since December of 2010, the CPUC has been investigating and researching the details of every outage AT&T and Verizon have had in the state. This came about after a winter storm that had caused a widespread outage that wasn't fixed for a substantial amount of time. This led to a filing of a suit in February of 2013 that said that both companies took way too long to fix problems when they happened, and that improvements must be made on response and deployment times during network outages.

The recent court decision about this case finally puts a timeline on AT&T and Verizon to actually begin work on their respective networks and fix the problems in the complaint. AT&T has responded by saying the Commission's metrics they use to measure response time and time-until-fix are "inherently flawed" and that the metrics should be eliminated. Verizon has gone on record to say that both networks are "healthy and reliable", citing a completely different set of metrics that prove this.

Either way, both companies' hands have been forced and hopefully the State of California will see a noticeable improvement to the quality of the network. That is, unless the improvements are known to the State of California to cause birth defects.

Epic Games Released Over $3 Million in Assets from Infinity Blade Franchise

posted Sunday Sep 13, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo

Do you like Epic Games? Do you like the Infinity Blade series? Do you like that Infinity Blade III is now free? Of course you do! And since you do, you will probably also love that over $3 million in art and sound design have now been released for free to the public for us to play around with!

Dubbed the Infinity Blade Collection, it is a compilation of assets from many of the franchise's games. More importantly, most of it is from Infinity Blade: Dungeons, which was a game that never saw the light of day and was cancelled in 2013. Luckily for die hard fans, we can now experience the game, or at least what the game would've looked and felt like.

Inside the collection is the following:

  • Infinity Blade: Grass Lands is the earthy citadel adorned with stone set pieces and beautiful props.
  • Infinity Blade: Ice Lands is the wintery fort set deep within a glacial enclave.
  • Infinity Blade: Fire Lands is the radiant castle interior laced with unforgiving paths, dramatic props and flowing lava.
  • Infinity Blade: Warriors includes loads of assets for crafting fierce heroes.
  • Infinity Blade: Adversaries has even more content for a making wide variety of rivals.
  • Infinity Blade: Effects gives you visual effects ranging from fire and smoke to lightning and magical reactions.
  • Infinity Blade: Sounds includes thousands of raw audio files and sound cues.
  • Infinity Blade: Weapons presents a vast array of melee weaponry, including never-before-seen swords and axes and also a few Infinity Blade fan favorites.
On top of all of that, there is also an added rubber chickens pack and the epic (no pun intended) Cardboard Hero armor set. All of this content will work within Unreal Engine 4, which was released for free to developers earlier this year. Epic Games you can "Use it (the content) in any Unreal Engine 4 project, no strings attached (it just needs to be in UE4, see info below). We succeed when you succeed." There is no word yet on if you can customize the assets or create your own based off of their content.

And while the content is free, there is an important note for developers of games using the Unreal Engine. Epic Games still expects those devs to kick over 5% of total gross revenue after the game amasses $3,000. That fee is per product, per quarter.

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