The UpStream (Page 27)

FIFA pro gamer is "done" after odd rule called into tournament play

posted Sunday Mar 8, 2020 by Scott Ertz

FIFA pro gamer is

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.

Philips to end support for original Hue Bridge in April 2020

posted Sunday Mar 8, 2020 by Scott Ertz

Philips to end support for original Hue Bridge in April 2020

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.

PragerU loses important lawsuit against YouTube's content policies

posted Saturday Feb 29, 2020 by Scott Ertz

PragerU loses important lawsuit against YouTube's content policies

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.

Firefox angers ISPs by turning on DNS over HTTPS, encrypting traffic

posted Saturday Feb 29, 2020 by Scott Ertz

Firefox angers ISPs by turning on DNS over HTTPS, encrypting traffic

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.

Fuser combines DropMix with a music festival in new music game

posted Saturday Feb 29, 2020 by Scott Ertz

Fuser combines DropMix with a music festival in new music game

Harmonix has long been a top name in music and rhythm games. With console titles like Rock Band, and tabletop titles like DropMix, they have continued to innovate in the space. This innovation has come during a time when most thought that the rhythm genre had returned to a small, niche market. But, with DropMix, the company proved that there was still a wider interest in music titles. But, with custom hardware needed and perishable components, the reach of the game was still limited. With the newest title Fuser, they may have found a happy medium.

Rather than requiring a special gameboard and NFC-powered playing cards, Fuser has taken a more traditional rhythm game approach. The game is played on a console or PC using entirely digital assets. Like with its predecessor, the songs are broken into the musical components of keyboard, percussion, guitar, and vocals. Those components can be combined in various ways to create a custom mix.

In addition to Freestyle mode, Fuser also includes proper challenge modes, such as Drop a Beat, and Crowd Requests. These modes seem to be similar to the modes offered by DropMix, but with a music festival theme. If the game is anywhere near as much fun as DropMix, this will be a winner.

The most interesting aspect of the game is that Harmonix truly believes that rhythm games are not dead and are about to see a second life. To prove this theory, they have enlisted the help of yet another company. While DropMix was built in partnership with NXP, Fuser is a partnership with developer NCSOFT. This is following the partnership with Twitch on Twitch Sings, a live-streamed karaoke title.

Our team and the team at DDRLover are certainly excited about the resurgence of rhythm games. What about you? Is this a game you need in your collection?

Clearview AI has customer data stolen and app removed by Apple

posted Saturday Feb 29, 2020 by Scott Ertz

Clearview AI has customer data stolen and app removed by Apple

Since the company accidentally came out of stealth mode, Clearview AI has had continuing trouble. While law enforcement loves the ability to identify people with their phones, public perception and the reception by privacy advocates have been incredibly negative. To add insult to injury, the company has refused to discuss or disclose exactly who they have been working with.

Some seemed determined to make sure that the list was made public. Someone accessed the company's computers, either internally or externally, and leaked the list. In addition, the person accessed several of the accounts created by these customers and the number of searches performed by each. The company seems very careful in its wording, never describing the data access as a hack.

If you are a law enforcement agency using Clearview's technology, the release of your participation might be a problem. Not only do criminals within your jurisdiction know that you're using it, but so does everyone else. When it was revealed that a jurisdiction in New Jersey had accessed Clearview's app, the state banned its use entirely. When using controversial technology and techniques, secrecy is key.

Also, being able to access the technology at all becomes important, as well. That has also become difficult, as this week Apple removed the Clearview AI app from its platform. While Apple removes apps every day, this one was more difficult than usual. That's because the app is not distributed through the App Store, but instead by using an enterprise distribution method. This process is designed to allow corporations to distribute apps to their employees without making them publicly accessible. Clearview violated Apple's developer agreement by using the process to distribute the app outside of the company, so Apple disabled the developer account. This move not only disables the future distribution of the app but uninstalls it from current iPhones and iPads.

Clearview AI is just seeing the beginning of its problems, however. As states like New Jersey ban the technology and lawsuits are filed against the company, keeping the lights on is going to be a difficult task.

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