In many markets, there is only a single internet service provider and, even if you have a choice, it's traditionally only a pair. Even then, many people lose options based on where they live. If you're in an apartment or a condo, it's not unusual for the complex to have an exclusivity deal with one service provider. It's also the case with malls, shopping centers, and business parks. One of the big promises of 5G technology has been its speed. A big benefit of the speed is the ability to break up the local monopolies that are the internet service providers.
However, with all new technologies can come hiccups. The first big deployment of 5G as a home internet service is from T-Mobile in a test market of about 50,000 homes. Unfortunately, the service does not support some of the most important internet technologies. In particular, the T-Mobile Home service does not support Hulu + Live TV. This appears to be because of a limitation with Hulu's service. Hulu detects the T-Mobile Home service as a cellular hotspot and disables access to live TV.
This will not be the only time that this problem will be encountered. A variety of services have limitations against hotspots because of licensing deals, overhead, etc. As more home-based 5G services roll out across the country, more customers are going to encounter services that detect the internet service as exactly what it is. And it will be a challenge for the internet service providers to solve, as adding something into the protocol to report as a stationary connection could easily be exploited. Then, with some simple alterations, an Android device could easily be set to report as stationary, as well.
Of course, the reality of a proper 5G-based home internet service is still a way off for most people. The implementation of 5G is slow going, and the number of devices available is still small, and even lower when it comes to home hardware. However, this will be an issue that the internet providers and services will need to solve sooner rather than later.
As the panic over COVID-19, commonly being referred to as the coronavirus, people have been looking for ways to exploit that fear and panic. Fortunately, online platforms of all stripes are actively dealing with the problem. Whether it is online stores, app stores, or even social networks, companies are working to prevent you from getting harmed.
Amazon and eBay
Two of the big online user-driven stores, Amazon and eBay, have put rules into place to prevent coronavirus exploitation. Almost as soon as the panic began, Amazon started closing accounts for sellers with false cures on their platform. Following the cures, the company then began terminating accounts for price gouging. eBay has followed suit, going so far as to completely ban the sale of hand sanitizer and face masks from the site entirely.
Amazon has decided to step up their actions, planning to prosecute the sellers who were actively engaged in price gouging on their platform. The company is already working directly with various state attorneys general to deal with the worst offenders first.
As one would expect, the company's App Store has seen an influx in COVID-19 related apps. The most common type has been trackers, produced and published by various individuals and organizations. These trackers have provided various levels of correct and incorrect information. Because of this, Apple has decided to remove all COVID-tracing apps that do not come from official sources. The intent is to prevent misinformation or politically-motived propaganda.
While the company doesn't directly sell anything themselves, they do provide a lot of advertising for those who do. An
update to the company's advertising policies has temporarily banned the advertising of medical masks. This move is intended to prevent advertisers from adding to the fear-induced purchasing of face masks (which has little to no effect in preventing the spread). It also prevents these companies from directing Facebook users to sites with inflated prices.
eSports is growing quickly in popularity, sometimes faster than the industry seems to be able to keep up. The industry has special circumstances that set it apart from more traditional sports. The primary issue is that eSports often requires access to external resources, such as matchmaking servers. Because of this, companies have to put rules into place to deal with the possibility of server failures to prevent gamers from using "connectivity issues" as an excuse to delay gameplay. Unfortunately, those rules can be bizarre and can anger professionals.
One of those pros who is upset because of an odd rule is Shaun "Brandsha56" Galea. During a
FIFA 2020 qualification competition, he and his competitor were unable to find one another through EA's matchmaking server. The rules state that, if the competitors are unable to connect and begin a match within a 20-minute window, both players will receive a loss for the match. There is a way to avoid the loss, for one player, and that is where the problem comes in. According to Brandsha56, I cannot believe it !! @EASPORTSFIFA @EAFIFADirect We literally had to play a rock paper scissors becauce we couldn't find each other to invite in an EA LICENSED QUALIFIER . WTF !!... I am done
So, as it turns out, the process for avoiding a loss is to play Roshambo, also known as rock paper scissors. This would be the equivalent of two NFL teams in a playoff game having to decide the game through a coin toss because the broadcaster can't get one of their cameras to turn on. Leaving something that could directly affect someone's income up to chance because of an issue caused by something outside of their control is nothing short of frustrating.
Whether or not Brandsha56 truly intends to give up on the game is still to be seen, but the anger in the moment of being eliminated from a gaming tournament because of a problem with EA is completely warranted.
Connected and smart home technology is one of the fastest-growing markets in consumer electronics. From connected LED bulbs and locks to thermostats and smoke detectors, the home is getting smarter. One of the biggest issues that smarthome owners face is the compatibility, or more often, the lack thereof, between products. But, if you stay within an ecosystem, there is another problem that pops up: quickly changing technology.
This week, Philips brought that problem back to the forefront with the announcement that the first generation Philips Hue Bridge is about to lose support. That means that many of the features that people purchased the product for are about to go away. In the case of the Philips Hue Bridge, the loss comes because of the disconnection from the Philips Hue cloud services.
According to the company, After April 2020 no software updates will be made available for the Hue Bridge v1 and compatibility with our online services will be terminated at that time. The Hue Bridge v1 can still be controlled locally via the dedicated Philips Hue Bridge v1 app.
Those cloud services are what make things like remote access possible. Without the Bridge working fully, owners will no longer have access to their home devices when out of range of the Bridge itself. Thanks to the fact that the original Philips Hue mobile app is still in the store, at least owners will have the ability to control their devices from inside their home. This is an important distinction because the original Philips Hue devices communicated with Zigbee, meaning that you can't connect directly with your phone.
This isn't the first time that relying on cloud services for a smarthome product has ended in disappointment. Last year, Johnson Controls discontinued a large collection of features for their GLAS smart thermostat. The removed Cortana from the device, which took with her the ability to use voice commands directly on the device. It also ended with the integrations with Google Home and Alexa not working well anymore.
In 2017, PragerU filed suit against Google and YouTube over the company's content policies. The educational organization made the same claims that many content creators have made over the past few years - that YouTube's policies are inconsistent and applied more often against publishers that disagree with the company's political stance. While a private organization generally has the ability to determine what happens attached to its name, PragerU argued that YouTube's position in the industry made it more like a public space. Because of that position, the company's content policies are tantamount to censorship.
Unfortunately for PragerU, the
lawsuit was dismissed this week by a panel of three judges for a US appeals court. This was an upholding of a lower court's ruling. The judges wrote, PragerU's claim that YouTube censored PragerU's speech faces a formidable threshold hurdle: YouTube is a private entity. The Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government-not a private party-from abridging speech.
The judges pointed to a
Surpreme Court case which was similar and ended similarly. According to that ruling, merely hosting speech by others is not a traditional, exclusive public function and does not alone transform private entities into state actors subject to First Amendment constraints. If the rule were otherwise, all private property owners and private lessees who open their property for speech would be subject to First Amendment constraints and would lose the ability to exercise what they deem to be appropriate editorial discretion within that open forum.
PragerU had argued that it wasn't the company's hosting of speech that made them subject to scrutiny, but the fact that the site claimed itself to be a public forum for free speech in front of Congress. By making that claim, they opened themselves up to legal scrutiny for infringing on the free speech of content creators. While the argument didn't ultimately work in the courts, it did bring the issue into the light. The organization is hoping that more people will look into what YouTube is up to with its content policies.
The past few years have seen the transition of much of the internet from transferring data over HTTP to HTTPS. While the distinction seems small, the end behavior has been huge. ISP and internet relays can no longer see the data being transferred between you and the websites you visit, so long as they are using HTTPS. While the data itself is encrypted, the requests are not. That means that these same organizations have the ability to see the sites and pages you visit, if not the data, because the DNS lookups themselves are not encrypted. That is until now.
Cloudflare offers an encrypted DNS lookup service using the DNS over HTTPS, or DoH, protocol. This service protects even your browsing history from the prying eyes of the ISPs and relays, as well as anyone snooping on your wireless connections. Firefox has offered an integration with the DoH protocol for a while now but is stepping up that relationship. This week, the
company announced that, in the coming weeks, it would be turning this behavior on for all US users by default. In the announcement, the company said, Today, we know that unencrypted DNS is not only vulnerable to spying but is being exploited, and so we are helping the Internet to make the shift to more secure alternatives. We do this by performing DNS lookups in an encrypted HTTPS connection. This helps hide your browsing history from attackers on the network, (and) helps prevent data collection by third parties on the network that ties your computer to websites you visit.
Mozilla, who makes Firefox, has said that they are open to adding additional encrypted DNS providers with time, so long as they conform to the company's
requirements. They have also said that they are not turning the setting on by default outside of the US. However, if you want to use the feature, you can turn it on in the settings.
Hopefully, we will see more browsers, particularly Chrome and the new Edge, will implement this feature. Both companies have it in their pipelines, though neither has announced timelines for public release.