The UpStream

After Leaked Emails Suggest Otherwise, Sony Entertainment CEO Says Business Not for Sale

posted Sunday Jan 18, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo

After Leaked Emails Suggest Otherwise, Sony Entertainment CEO Says Business Not for Sale

After Sony's rejection of spinning off the media division in order to possibly save the company, CEO Kaz Hirai then had to cut $250 million from the media budget, which meant a reduction in movie releases for the year. Now, the company has to fight off rumors that it will be spinning off its music publishing business.

One could imagine that after having to deal with the gigantic data breach by the hands of the Guardians of Peace, Sony might have to make some drastic changes to its company structure. However, in the middle of the aftermath, and after several shareholders begging for it to happen, Sony Entertainment's CEO Michael Lynton said there are no current plans to sell off the division.

This comes after several of the leaked emails by the GOP had indicated that Lynton was considering offers as recent as November. For Sony Entertainment, its catalog contains over 2 million songs, which is currently the biggest collection in the world. This includes EMI, formerly the largest independent recording distribution label that was purchased by Sony for over $2 billion in 2012. A sell-off of this nature would surely inject much needed cash into Sony proper, allowing the company to invest more in its security measures to prevent another massive breach in the wall.

So now that Lynton has pretty much dissolved the rumors that came out of the email leak, what can Sony do to save itself? We've talked in the past that the PlayStation brand seems to be Sony's saving grace up until now, but how long can they rely on that small portion of their business in order to sustain the entire company? At what point does that water-tight compartment eventually get ripped open by an iceberg? Who, for that matter, might step in and pick up the profitable pieces after the ship sinks?

Of course, all of this is speculation right now, but considering the company's current state, none of it is too far from a possible reality. What do you think is going to happen? What parts of Sony stick around? Let us know in the comments section below.

Fox Might Be Bringing X-Files Back to Television

posted Sunday Jan 18, 2015 by Scott Ertz

Fox Might Be Bringing X-Files Back to Television

Last week on the Nerdist podcast with Chris Hardwick, Gillian Anderson was asked if she would be interested in returning to the X-Files universe in her acting career, and she said she would be overjoyed. Apparently she misses the series so much that she has been working to gather a loud enough fanbase on social media to bring the show back. For most of us, this seemed like a longshot, but Fox recently brought 24 back with a miniseries, so nothing is impossible, right?

Correct. In fact, Fox has spoken with creator Chris Carter, and they are in talks to revive the long-dead franchise, probably in miniseries form. Here's the thing about miniseries that many people may not know: they are actually an active pilot program to see if a program could survive on its own. That means, should the proposed miniseries succeed, the series could return full time to the network.

There is a catch, though: both Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny would have to agree to come back as a pair. Obviously Anderson is interested, but her time may not be available. She is currently starring on Hannibal on NBC and The Fall on Netflix, which leaves little time for a 3rd full-time series. Duchovny, after the end of Californication last year has signed on to headline Aquarius on NBC.

All of this does not mean that the series return is impossible. In fact, if Anderson is interested enough to be actively recruiting fans to demand its return, that means she believes there is enough room in her schedule to make it work, at least at a miniseries level. If Fox is able to revive the series, even for a short run, it would mark a good year for Sci-Fi fans, with NBC set to revive Heroes, also in miniseries form, as early as this year.

Google's Schoolyard Antics Continue, Reveal New Windows Vulnerabilities [Editorial]

posted Sunday Jan 18, 2015 by Scott Ertz

Google's Schoolyard Antics Continue, Reveal New Windows Vulnerabilities [Editorial]

In the software world, there has been a longstanding gentleman's agreement between developers and security professionals. The agreement has always been that if a security flaw is found in a major piece of software, the flaw will be revealed only to the development team of the product. The flaw will not be revealed to the public until the developers have had ample time to research the problem and decide how to handle it, plus time to release a patch.

Unfortunately, in recent years, the software industry has changed; it is no longer populated by professionals, but instead by children who have no frame of reference for how actions affect others. Google has been the poster child for unprofessional behavior dressed up as cute, with no regard for the impact of their actions. A great example of this corporate culture issue is Google Project Zero.

The concept of the program is sound: a security research firm within a software company ensuring consumer safety. That is not how they treat the program, however. Instead of researching their own software, or the software that affects their platforms, of which there would be plenty to research (tablets, Chrome, Android), but that isn't their main goal. Instead, they spend their time researching the competitors: Microsoft and Apple.

Even that concept is not bad - a external source of security information can be essential. The problem with Project Zero is the way Google handles data: incredibly unprofessionally. They start the way a sane, rational adult would handle it: they release the information to the development firm. That is where the rational ends, though. The information has a set 90 day shelf life, which Google does not feel it important to amend, no matter the severity of the issue in question. That means, if there is a flaw in Windows that could take 4 months to fix and patch, Google will release how to exploit the issue to the public at least a month before a patch can be issued.

If your goal is to be a professional member of the community, that is unacceptable behavior. Google, however, has never had any interest in being a professional, valuable member of the software community, or the global community as a whole. Instead, their goal is to be the "popular kids." If you remember the "popular kids" from school, they were the ones that no one actually liked - they just had the ability to convince people they were popular by being mean to everyone that isn't them.

Based on their recent behavior, I can only assume that this is the mentality they are going for, either consciously or subconsciously. Luckily, their mean girls routine hasn't caused any real damage yet, but it will. At some point they will uncover something major and release it to the public causing massive consumer damage. Hopefully, with information in the public, Google will feel pressure to stop acting out and treat the industry with respect. If not, the only solution will be for consumers to make their voice heard and tell Google their behavior is not acceptable.

Hatred Receives AO Rating, Future Unclear

posted Sunday Jan 18, 2015 by Scott Ertz

Hatred Receives AO Rating, Future Unclear

Hatred, a third person killing simulator, has received an Adult Only rating from the ESRB. The information comes to us via a developer on the game's forum, whose post said,

Well, I'm not quite convinced why Hatred got AO rating while it lacks any sexual content, but it's still some kind of achievement to have the second game in history getting AO rating for violence and harsh language only.

The title is actually the third game to receive the AO rating for only violence, but that statistic aside, it does not spell success for the title. One of the previous titles, Thrill Kill, was canceled before release by Electronic Arts after purchasing the publisher and objecting to the content. The other game, Manhunt 2, was edited to allow its release at all, before being patched by gamers.

The AO rating is important for a number of reasons, but foremost is that Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony all have policies of not allowing games with AO ratings on their platforms. Even Value has a policy against AO titles on Steam, which is why Manhunt is available on the platform, but the sequel is not. Even retail sales are troubled for PC, as Gamestop, Target and Walmart will not carry the title for PC, either, if it retains the AO rating.

So, this leaves a difficult decision for the company: either alter the game to drop the rating or try to release the game for PC only without the support of anyone. Manhunt decided to go for a hybrid approach: they released a version of the game with everything intact for the PC, but released an altered version of the game for consoles. The future of the game is unclear at this point, but a comment on the forum says,

I would prefer to get a standard M+ rating, because with AO we will have problems to get to consoles in the future, but on the other hand I think you guys (our fans) would be disappointed with it.

So, the developers, or at least one, would prefer to keep the game intact, but a decision like this often comes down to money. While it is a different world 7 years later, and the game could be successful because of press received from the issue, it is more likely that the publisher will decide to alter the game to allow for mass release.

The Rapid Up and Out of an Online Startup

posted Saturday Jan 17, 2015 by Scott Ertz

The Rapid Up and Out of an Online Startup

Earlier this week, the world was introduced to a new website which promised to ship your enemies glitter. The site describes its process as,

We've had enough so here's the deal: there's someone in your life right now who you ******* hate. Whether it be your ****** neighbour, a family member or that ***** Amy down the road who thinks it's cool to invite you to High Tea but not provide any weed.

So pay us money, provide an address anywhere in the world & we'll send them so much glitter in an envelope that they'll be finding that **** everywhere for weeks. We'll also include a note telling the person exactly why they're receiving this terrible gift. Hint: the glitter will be mixed in with the note thus increasing maximum spillage.

The story was picked up by all kinds of sites, such as FastCompany, Mashable, USA Today, Yahoo and more. After all of the publicity, it turns out that this literally days-old website had so many orders that they were unable or unwilling to keep up with it. In fact, before shutting down new orders, he had racked up over $20,000 worth of sales and over 2.5 million page views.

Those numbers were too much for the owner, though, as new orders were shut down and the site has been put up for auction. At the time of writing, the auction has reached over $70,000 with over 330 bids. Included in the auction is the domain, the software and all emails received about orders and interviews.

If you are an entrepreneur type or just plain sick, this might just be the business for you.

YouTube Tries to Lock Up Top Creators, Offers Incentives for Exclusive Content Amidst Heavy Competition

posted Sunday Dec 14, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

YouTube Tries to Lock Up Top Creators, Offers Incentives for Exclusive Content Amidst Heavy Competition

YouTube has been having some stiff competition lately. Between up-and-comers like Vessel and Hitbox, Amazon picking up Twitch for just under $1 billion and Vimeo locking in some content deals, YouTube has merely been able to ride out the storm. That's been the case for a while, with many YouTube stars leaving the site for greener pastures, in both viewers and money. Now, the video-streaming site is fighting back with Google's really big wallet.

In a move that should've happened a few months ago, Google is targeting its biggest and most popular content creators, in hopes that with enough cash, the talent will stay on the platform. Specifics of the deals differ from person to person, but in General, YouTube has been asking each channel to post exclusively to YouTube for a period of time before putting the video on other sites. Some top channels have even been offered cash incentives to create additional content for YouTube only.

Oddly enough, YouTube seems to be most concerned with Vessel, a video start-up that hasn't launched yet but is backed by former Hulu CEO Jasaon Kilar. Vessel has been one of the more active companies gunning for the giant's top tier talent. Vessel currently has $75 million in venture capital and should be finalizing its program lineup before the year it out.

One YouTuber who has requested to remain anonymous has said that, "I would like to remain on YouTube. But some of the competing offers are incredibly attractive."

CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojciki, recently spoke at a Recode event and openly admitted to incentives being offered to popular channels but declined to provide details. All of the conversation, however, was surrounded by the idea that YouTube would launch a paid subscription. With Vimeo already offering that and Vessel getting ready to launch, a YouTube spokesperson added to that point by saying that the company has been supporting its content creators from the beginning, and it has ""been increasing that support through a broad range of activities including marketing and content funding."

It's hard to say what will happen at this point, but with as much competition that's been circling the YouTube ship for a while, this was bound to happen sooner or later. If enough offers are thrown around and enough talent leaves, YouTube may lose its top spot as the go-to place for video in the very near future.

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