The UpStream

Aereo Changes Focus, Tries to Become a Cable Operator

posted Sunday Jul 13, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Aereo Changes Focus, Tries to Become a Cable Operator

Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court essentially killed Aereo, at least in its current business state. CEO Chet Kanojia said that the company was going to find a way to continue to operate and it appears Aereo has found that way. Now, Aereo is going to try to become a cable operator.

It started with a letter sent to US District Judge Alison Nathan on Wednesday, which explained Aereo's new path and focus.

Under the Second Circuit's precedents, Aereo was a provider of technology and equipment with respect to the near-live transmissions at issue in the preliminary injunction appeal. After the Supreme Court's decision, Aereo is a cable system with respect to those transmissions. If Aereo is a 'cable system' as that term is defined in the Copyright Act, it is eligible for a statutory license, and its transmissions may not be enjoined (preliminarily or otherwise).

So, Aereo now looks to become a cable company and is going to try and pay the necessary fees and licenses to do so. The entire letter basically outlined that new plan and that it would operate in "accordance with the terms of the Supreme Court's decision," which makes all of this very interesting. Obviously the broadcasters have already spoken up and said that this is only happening because of the ruling. CBS wrote on Wednesday that, upon hearing the news about Aereo's major business model shift, the Aereo case that's made its way back to a Manhattan federal court should be dismissed.

Aereo's refusal to clearly specify whether, when and in what fashion it intends to continue operating. Aereo never before pled (much less litigated) Section 111 as an affirmative defense. Whatever Aereo may say about its rationale for raising it now, it is astonishing for Aereo to contend the Supreme Court's decision automatically transformed Aereo into a 'cable system' under Section 111 given its prior statements to this Court and the Supreme Court.

Many analysts predicted this case was far from over, and they were completely right. Several people, including myself, predicted that Aereo would try and claim a different stance and go the cable operator route, and it appears all of that has come to fruition. Now, whether or not that actually happens is a whole other thing to deal with. Naturally, we'll have the updates as they occur but for now, you can read the joint letter that was filed to the courts in the source link below.

Oculus Announced Dev Conference and Acquisition of RakNet

posted Sunday Jul 13, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Oculus Announced Dev Conference and Acquisition of RakNet

Oculus, following a $2 billion acquisition by Facebook, made a handful of announcements this week about the progression of the company. The company proudly said it has acquired a game-network company and will also be launching a developer conference in September.

On September 19th and 20th, Oculus will be hosting Oculus Connect at the Loew's Hotel in Hollywood, California. The developer conference will be geared towards devs in the VR, gaming, entertainment and cinematic spaces. Oculus said the conference will also feature sessions for people that surround the development community. Not much else was disclosed about the event but that information will be coming in the next couple of weeks. The event will include keynotes from Brendan Iribe, Palmer Luckey, John Carmack and Michael Abrash.

Oculus also announced that it has acquired RakNet, which some may recognize as being the platform Oculus has been using for some time now. RakNet is a middleware tech company which essentially provides Internet support and transport for video games. From the statement,

For those unfamiliar with RakNet, it is a comprehensive C++ game networking engine designed for ease of use and performance. The tech is tuned for cross-platform, high-performance applications that operate across a wide variety of network types. Key features include object replication, remote procedure calls, patching, secure connections, voice chat, and real-time SQL logging. The technology has been licensed by thousands of indie developers, as well as companies like Unity, Havok, Mojang, Maxis and Sony Online Entertainment.

As you can see, some pretty big names use the technology already. In the past, games that made under $100,000 gross revenue were able to access the C++ libraries for free, but after the acquisition, Oculus has decided to open-source the entire project. The feeling of a service for UDP and TCP being open-source is a scary one, but perhaps some really cool tools can be built for the Oculus and VR platforms moving forward.

Last but not least, in case you missed it, the Oculus Rift won Best Hardware at E3 2014 for the second year in a row. Obviously the company was excited about that as well. But are you excited about any of the other two announcements? Will you be going to Oculus Connect? Let us know in the comments.

Feds Prosecute Man Who Allegedly Tried to Scam Facebook CEO for Billions

posted Sunday Jul 6, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Feds Prosecute Man Who Allegedly Tried to Scam Facebook CEO for Billions

Since 2010, Mark Zuckerberg has been fighting allegations that he owes half of Facebook's worth to a guy named Paul Ceglia. Ceglia claims that the contract he presented police officers and judges is in fact real. The man is being prosecuted by New York federal attorneys on allegations that the contract is forged. And in November, Ceglia will be defending himself as the case will be making its way to trial.

A federal judge actually called the contract a "fabrication" and this ruling has been the firepower needed for the prosecution to go after this alleged scammer. Ceglia has countered saying that Zuckerberg has actually framed and hacked him, and that the contract is indeed the real deal.

The prosecution had this to say in a court filing this week.

The Government believes that Ceglia's theory, as he has argued in the Civil Case-with no basis for this argument-is that Zuckerberg somehow 'hacked' in to Ceglia's computer to plant a copy of what the Government alleges is the legitimate contract. At best, Ceglia will only be able to present this baseless argument through cross examination of Zuckerberg.

Here's where Ceglia takes it a step further. He is insisting that the courts force Zuckerberg to surrender all phones, hard drives, email accounts and computers that were used back in 2003 and 2004, as he says they will have the evidence needed to prove that he's not crazy. Prosecuters disagree and say that hsi is a "fishing expedition" and have requested the courts to reject the notion.

The contract in question, Ceglia says, was created in 2003 when young Harvard Zuckerberg went to work for Ceglia's online company StreetFax. He claims that the two drew up a Work for Hire agreement but a forensics report states that while examiners found a Work for Hire contract on Ceglia's computer, there is no mention of Facebook in it at all. The feds say that Ceglia simply removed the first page of a 2003 contract and made a new one with mentions of Facebook in it. There's spacing and margin errors, and other anomalies that would suggest that it wasn't created at the same time. What's more is that the first page also mentions StreetFax LLC, but Ceglia has said that the company wasn't incorporated until four months after the second page of the contract was allegedly signed by Zuckerberg.

All of this is definitely crazy and we'll have to follow what happens to this guy. If he does happen to win, which is probably a long shot, he would be exonerated of all charges and could go after the Facebook CEO for half of the $170 billion market cap that is the social network giant.

Cliff Bleszinski Launches New Startup Boss Key Productions with Former EA Exec

posted Sunday Jul 6, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Cliff Bleszinski Launches New Startup Boss Key Productions with Former EA Exec

Have you wondered what Cliff Bleszinski has been up to lately? So has the rest of the gaming world. The man who spent 20 years working at Epic Games as a director and designer has been exploring the world since his departure back in 2012. However when pressed, he never really got into detail on what the future held for him. That is until June 30th, when he said on Twitter, "I'm officially coming out of retirement to make video games again." Well, the Internet got busy like it usually does and found out within days what he was up to.

It was discovered on the 4th of July that Bleszinski has formed a new game studio, Boss Key Productions, and he's brought along a pretty good partner. Former EA producer and co-founder of Guerilla Games, Arjan Brussee, is joining in on the venture. The two filed documents with the State of North Carolina to incorporate the business back in April. It's surprising that it took the Internet this long to find out about the new company, considering Epic Games is also based in NC.

At any rate, of course Bleszinski was asked about this new discovery, but he only responded with a pretty general statement.

I find it promising and exciting that there's such interest in what I do next that people are willing to look up from their Bud Lite and hot dogs and fireworks and continue to talk about what I may be doing next in my professional career.

It should also be noted that on top of the Boss Key website launching on Friday, the company filed documents with the US Patent and Trademark Office on May 30th that details Boss Key producing goods and services that indicate the studio would be making online games, naturally. To be specific, the document says things about "downloadable multi-player interactive computer game programs; computer and video game software; downloadable computer and video game software; downloadable electronic games via the Internet and wireless devices; downloadable computer application software in the field of games; interactive computer and video game programs."

What would be the first game to come out of the studio? Well, it might be Project Bluestreak, which has a website that has a countdown timer leading us to July 8th, when Cliff might make the announcement. But he won't speak further on the matter.

I do not comment on rumors and speculation on the birthday of the nation that could allow a game designer to have a fantastic 20 year run at his first studio and then take nearly two years off only to seek out funding and start his new lean, agile, fun startup in Raleigh, N.C.

So for now, we'll have to wait and see, however Tuesday isn't far away. Hopefully we'll see some of those lean, agile and fun things Bleszinski mentioned in the coming months. I can't wait to see what will come out of Boss Key Productions.

Antennas Direct Offers Free Antenna Package to Former Aereo Subscribers

posted Saturday Jul 5, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Antennas Direct Offers Free Antenna Package to Former Aereo Subscribers

It only took a week for Aereo's demise to turn into treasure for some other company. At least it benefits Aereo's former customers in this case. Antennas Direct, an antenna company based out of Missouri, has offered free, high-quality outdoor antennas to 1,000 Aereo customers.

In a blog post on the announcement, the company said,

Aereo Customers

We have a solution to the Supreme Court ruling that resulted in the loss of your local broadcast television: A FREE antenna from Antennas Direct.

We are giving away 1,000 antennas to Aereo subscribers! You must hurry; offer is good while supplies last.

We will ship you a FREE ClearStream™ 2 Complete antenna (50+ Mile Range), 30 ft. of coaxial cable, and 20" J-Mount (MSRP $129.99).

To receive your free antenna, simply upload your Aereo billing statement and pay $10.00 for shipping.

Shipping takes 7 to 10 business days to the lower 48 states.

Upon clicking on the link to get more info on the bundle, it's pretty simply to get a ClearStream 2 Complete package. There's a spot for you to upload your form and essentially you're done. I also looked up the regular price of the bundle and it normally costs $234.96. So for Antennas Direct to offer this, for free, to 1,000 customers, it's definitely not a bad deal and is a great way for the company to get some positive publicity. I also like that the company isn't giving away a cheap indoor antenna but instead is providing something of very high quality that can attach nicely to a residence.

At the time of this writing, there are still antennas left to be given out. And for just $10, there's no reason that any former Aereo subscriber shouldn't get take advantage of this deal.

Are you interested in this? Do you think it's right or wrong for Antennas Direct to take advantage of the misfortune of a company? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

FTC Accuses T-Mobile of Fake Charges on Customer Bills, Files Lawsuit

posted Saturday Jul 5, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

FTC Accuses T-Mobile of Fake Charges on Customer Bills, Files Lawsuit

Last week, T-Mobile's CEO John Legere brought some negative attention to the company when he went on one of his typical profanity-filled tirades, except he went a little too far. This week, more bad attention comes to the "uncarrier" as the Federal Trade Commission has accused T-Mobile of issuing false charges on their customers' monthly bills, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Because of this, the FTC has filed a lawsuit against the pink telecom company.

You know those weird and odd phone bill charges you sometimes get and don't know where they came from? Back in the day, perhaps your phone number was sold to some third-party who would, in turn, send you your daily horoscope, ringtones, wallpapers or other silly things. In today's age, those charges unknowingly showing up on your bill are becoming harder and harder to come by and usually you have to authorize them by replying with "yes" on your device. However the FTC claims that T-Mobile is actually hiding these charges on your monthly bill.

The FTC says T-Mobile has charged customers for their phone usage as usual, but have also lumped these other monthly subscriptions charges into that same line item without the customers knowing or agreeing to it. This "Phone Usage" item would usually be reserved for things like texting and maybe going over on your minutes. Then, in the expanded billing charges, there would be some vague and non-descriptive explanation of the charge, like "8888906150 BmStorm23918" from "Shaboom Media" for a $9.99 subscription. Nobody except T-Mobile would know what that is. Even worse, T-Mobile has been keeping up to 40 percent of these amounts for themselves, and this is after customers have called in and complained about unauthorized charges.

FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement,

It's wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent. The FTC's goal is to ensure that T-Mobile repays all its customers for these crammed charges.

Obviously if you are one of T-Mobile's customers you need to go look at your expanded and detailed bill and make sure you're not victim to this as well. Then, call T-Mobile and demand your money back for each and every month you have these charges. The FTC is working on getting you your money back as well, but there's no guaranteed as of yet. This is because our very good friend, CEO John Legere, has responded to the lawsuit and says it was "unfounded and without merit." Here's the full statement:

We have seen the complaint filed today by the FTC and find it to be unfounded and without merit. In fact, T-Mobile stopped billing for these Premium SMS services last year and launched a proactive program to provide full refunds for any customer that feels that they were charged for something they did not want. T-Mobile is fighting harder than any of the carriers to change the way the wireless industry operates, and we are disappointed that the FTC has chosen to file this action against the most pro-consumer company in the industry-rather than the real bad actors.

As the Un-carrier, we believe that customers should only pay for what they want and what they sign up for. We exited this business late last year and announced an aggressive program to take care of customers, and we are disappointed that the FTC has instead chosen to file this sensationalized legal action. We are the first to take action for the consumer, and I am calling for the entire industry to do the same.

This is about doing what is right for consumers, and we put in place procedures to protect our customers from unauthorized charges. Unfortunately, not all of these third party providers acted responsibly-an issue the entire industry faced. We believe those providers should be held accountable and that the FTC's lawsuit seeking to hold T-Mobile responsible for their acts is not only factually and legally unfounded but also misdirected.

Now, I'd believe Legere if customers haven't complained to the FTC and T-Mobile as late as last month about these exact things the FTC is going after the carrier for. However I am surprised he was able to restrain himself or his handler from including expletives in his statement. Impressive.

I should also note that the FTC has not denied that any other carrier is doing this, too, so it would be advised that everyone who has a monthly bill with a cell provider (so, everyone) look over their recent bills with excruciating detail and report any erroneous charges to their carrier. We will keep you up-to-date with this lawsuit as in progresses.

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