Weekly News Roundup (October 23, 2016)

October 23rd, 2016

Welcome to this almost all gaming edition of the WNR. I didn’t plan for it to happen, but sometimes that’s just what happens. Just like how moments after I had uploaded the Star Wars Rogue One trailer last week, the second trailer dropped, which I have since uploaded too (H.264 and HEVC versions as per usual).

Anyway, here are all the (gaming related) news stories for this week, two with a copyright flavour, and one kinda big one from a gaming point of view.



Denuvo is engaged in a game of “cat and mouse” with crackers

Denuvo, the gaming DRM that isn’t a DRM (it’s an anti-tampering solution, you see, to stop pirates from tampering with the game’s existing copy protection – kind of like a DRM for DRM), has been tough to break, even the most ardent pirate has to admit. But cracks (if you’ll pardon the pun) have started to appear in Denuvo’s reputation as being unbreakable, with some recent high profile cracks for games like ‘Inside’, ‘Doom’ and ‘Mirror’s Edge Catalyst’.

But according to Denuvo, the recent setbacks will only make the anti-tampering solution stronger in the future. While acknowledging the recent cracks, Denuvo says their crack team (pun again unintended) of  engineers are standing by to analyse how the crack occurred, and to patch and improve the protection solution. The company admits it will be a game of cat and mouse, but they’re confident they’ll win out in the end.

For game publishers, as long as Denuvo remain uncracked for the first months or so, then that’s usually long enough for most of the pirates to give up and buy the game, or to move on to another pirated game. For gamers though, DRM is DRM, even if you call it an anti-tampering solution, and it has all the usual problems that come with it (mandatory Internet connection even for single player games with no online content, beholden to the status of Denuvo’s DRM servers to ensure game can be played, performance issues due to extra resources used by Denuvo, etc…).

Not all game publishers feel that what Denuvo has to offer is in their own best interest and in the best interest of their customers though. Take game studio Flying Wild Hog, makers of ‘Shadow Warrior 2’. The game, which has received a “very positive” rating on Steam, has been released without any other DRM included (Steam kind of counts as a DRM). A user on Steam specifically asked why Denuvo wasn’t used, and the answer was pretty straight forward: DRM simply doesn’t work. Other developers from the studio chimed in as well, and all of them agreed that there’s just no point making a game worse by adding DRM. For them, it’s makes much more sense to not waste resources on DRM, and instead, focus on making the game better.

I know some of this is just a bit of good PR, but really, with so many good games on offer these days, it pays (literally) to befriend gamers, and many gamers simply don’t want DRM.


Bad PR is what Samsung tried to do this week, which was to remove a parody video about its exploding Samsung Note7 phones. The videos shows a GTA V mod that turns the Note7 into a deadly weapon within the game, where the player can use it in lieu of grenades. Samsung tried to use a YouTube copyright take-down to get the video removed for some reason. The video is now back up after YouTube intervened in the matter. If it was a genuine mistake, and these happen all the time with copyright take-downs, then that’s fine. If it was Samsung PR’s attempt at damage control, then as expected, it backfired in the typical Streisand effect.

Moral of the story is, don’t use copyright take-downs to take down content that has nothing to do with copyright infringement.


Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch can be placed inside the dock to play games on your TV

Now onto this week’s big news: the Nintendo Switch. Previously known as the Nintendo NX, Nintendo finally provided the first bits of official information about their new console (including finally giving it a name), and things look very interesting. You’ll want to watch the video that I’ve included with my write-up on the new console, but suffice to say, it’s a pretty neat concept. It’s hard to describe in words (which is why you should watch the video), but basically, it’s a tablet first and foremost. There is also a modular controller called the Joy-Con, and that be disassembled into two separate pieces – these two pieces go on either side of the tablet to make it into a proper gaming table, or can be used by two different players for multiplayer on the go.

And I guess that last part is how Nintendo wants the Switch to stand apart from the other consoles, and to be fair, it may be something they have to get right in order to have any success. If they were just going to come out with another PS4/Xbox One look-a-like (but perhaps with slightly better graphics), it’s not going to win them any market share, not when the other two are already so dominant. But if they can get the novelty/fun/freshness factor right, and judging by the responses so far to the Switch, things are looking good, then the Switch may very well carve out its own market share (as a device that sits somewhere between your iPad and the PS4/XB1).

Nintendo Switch

Or it can be played on the go by attaching the Joy-Con controllers

But it’s not just portable gaming that the Nintendo Switch will be offering – there’s dock like device that you can plug the tablet into, and the dock connects to your TV. With both Joy-Con controllers connected to the Joy-Con grip, it will act as the main controller for when you play on your TV. There’s also a separate available Pro controller that looks a lot more ergonomic than the Joy-Con-Grip thingy. No real information on how powerful the Switch will be, and whether the dock will give the Switch some extra graphical power to make the graphics prettier on your big screen TV (a Nintendo rep has already suggested the dock may be just a dock, providing power and TV output and nothing else), but Nintendo has never been about having the best graphics (well, not since the SNES vs Genesis days, and even that is debatable, even to this day).

There’s still a lot of information that Nintendo has chosen not to release about the Switch (including the very basic “does it have a touchscreen”), so keep a lookout for more information as we get closer to the March 2017 launch.


That’s all we have for this week. Have a pleasant week ahead, and see you back here next Sunday!

Weekly News Roundup (October 16, 2016)

October 16th, 2016
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Poster

Download the H.264, HEVC trailer converted from a high bitrate ProRes source

Welcome to another edition of the WNR. Hope you’ve been well, but I’ve been suffering. Some of you that are reading this will be well aware of an affliction innocuously known as “hay fever”. A more descriptive name for the condition may not be appropriate for publishing here due to the number of four letter swear words present, but suffice to say, it sucks balls. When you actually get dehydrated from a runny nose, and when your eyes are so itchy that rubbing them for 5 minutes straight does nothing to alleviate the suffering, then you know why it sucks balls.

Before we get to the news, I’ve been busy this week uploading a few trailers. First up was the ‘Rogue One’ trailer, available in both H.264 and H.265/HEVC. The next trailers, for ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ are a bit unique, in that these were sourced from a ProRes trailer (3.1GB!), and so their quality is very nice. Again, these are available in H.264 and HEVC, at much smaller file sizes for your convenience.

Anyway, on to the news for the week …



The RIAA probably won’t apologise for seizing the wrong domain name

This week I learned that it’s not a good idea use a domain name that’s way too similar to that of another popular piracy site. Case in point, MP3Skull.onl, who have nothing to do with the more well known MP3Skull site, just had their domain name seized by the RIAA, quite illegally I might add, just because of its familiar domain name. The RIAA may have won a court case against MP3Skull, but I don’t think it gave them the right to just grab any old domain name just because it looks similar.

To be fair to the RIAA, the people that ran the MP3Skull website did contribute to this case of mistaken identity by redirecting their previous domain name to the, completely unrelated, MP3Skull.onl site – this might have given the RIAA the impression that both sites are the same, even though they’re not.

Now, I’m not saying that MP3Skull.onl was whiter than white and did not engage in activities that the RIAA might have found objectionable too, but there’s a reason why things like injunctions and court orders have to be granted before one is able to take action. The owners of MP3Skull.onl have never had any dealings with the RIAA in the courts, and so the RIAA had no right to use an unrelated court ruling to do what they did.

But don’t expect the RIAA to apologise and return the domain name any time soon – history has shown that these kind of “errors” are usually never rectified, or by the time they are, there’s usually no point in getting the domain name back.


It can’t be long now before Nintendo officially launches the Nintendo NX, considering that it’s set to launch early next year. And as expected, the rumour mills have been working overtime and there’s more information than ever about what the NX will be like. Past experiences tell me that rumours so close to the official unveil tend to be closer to the truth than what you might expect, and the cynical side of me is convinced that some of the so called leaks are completely intentional, and used to build up hype leading up to the launch.

Wii U

The NX may take the Wii U’s “portable hybrid” concept a step further

The latest round of rumours says the NX will be 3-4 times more powerful than the Wii U, making it about as powerful as the Xbox One. More on that later. The same source also says building games on the NX will be a lot easier than before, which might be a good thing from a third party game point of view. Another source, and this one seems to be more legit, suggests that the NX will have a launch price of $299.99, and comes with the promotional slogan “Interact with your game on the go”. This would definitely line up with earlier rumours about the console being a “hybrid”, that bridges the gap between portable and home based gaming. Four (I assume, first party Nintendo) games are set to be available at launch, with at least one Mario title, another is probably ‘The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild’. The console is also set to support 4K video streaming, but not 4K gaming as the console is probably only powerful enough for 1080p gaming (and 900p for the “hybrid part of the device”).

Which brings us back to the expected processing power of the console. If the NX could be as powerful as the Xbox One, and add on top of that Nintendo’s advantages in terms of their first party franchises and their knack for bringing the fun into game, then this could be a very good combo. Or at least this was the case before both Sony and Microsoft decided to up the ante and release a mid-generation upgrade to their flagship consoles. This could make Nintendo’s console the least powerful console again, when before these moves, it could have been on par at the very least with the other two. That’s life for ya, I guess.

Xbox One S

Xbox One S helping Microsoft beat Sony in the US at least, thanks to Ultra HD Blu-ray drive?

Speaking of the updated Xbox One, it may very well be a game-changer for Microsoft, with Xbox One sales beating that of the PS4 for three months in a row now. It still has a long way to go before it can even think about catching up to the PS4, but it’s been a well made update that addresses some of the problems with the original Xbox One, and alsop gave buyers something new to think about. Even better is the fact that Sony released the PS4 Slim in September, and yet the Xbox One still managed to come out on top. This may change next month when the PS4 Slim has a whole month to sell, or if it doesn’t, then the November release of the PS4 Pro could also change things again, but I’m sure it feels nice for Microsoft to be on top, even if only temporarily.

If the Xbox One S does continue to sell well, then the inclusion of Ultra HD Blu-ray playback may be a decisive factor. The Xbox One S is great value for those already on the market for a UHD Blu-ray player, and it makes the console stand out against the competition.


And with that, we come to the end of another WNR. Hope you’ve enjoyed this one, see you next week.

Weekly News Roundup (October 9, 2016)

October 9th, 2016
The Donald

Vote for your favourite catdidate in the Meowware Presidential Elections

The News Gods did not bless us with vast amounts of interesting news this week, which is just as well since it gave me more time to work on my latest insane creation: The Meowware 2016 Presidential Elections. Yes, you now now vote for the feline version of your favourite US Presidential candidates, or catdidates. Why? No, the question should be “why not”!

So when you’re finished deciding between cat Trump, cat Hillary, cat Jill and cat Gary, come back and we’ll go through the news stories this week, which as I’ve mentioned earlier, isn’t the most exciting collection I’ve ever seen.


Finally, a judge has started asking questions about just how valid IP addresses are in BitTorrent court cases. Many judges are now wise to the fact that IP addresses are often dynamically assigned to users, and so extra care is needed when linking an IP address to an actual person. But in the legal arena, it’s important to establish jurisdiction, and with IP addresses, some kind of geolocation search is usually needed in order to establish this. Most lawsuits, however, use geolocation data from a timeframe that could be months after the IP address was recorded as being involved in a swarm.

This is the issue that came up in this particular news story, and the judge eventually rejected the plaintiff’s request for a subpoena. The problem now for those engaged in copyright lawsuits is to be able to quickly tie an IP address to location using geolocation data, but it’s often not possible because geolocation databases usually aren’t updated as regularly as the courts may like.

So it seems courts are finally wising up to these kind of lawsuits, and are no longer willing to rubber stamp lawsuits unless they’re backed up by good evidence.

Google DMCA Stats

More DMCA takedowns does not equal less pirated downloads

Not backed up by any evidence that it’s doing a damn thing are Google’s DMCA takedowns, which is breaking records every week it seems. I normally don’t even bother writing stories about this anymore, because I would end up writing one every week, but this past week being as slow as it is, I just had to. So basically, Google are doing 24 million link removals every week now, which means they may break the “billion links per year” at some point over the next year. Google are now processing more DMCA notices every 3 days as they did in the first year of their DMCA regime.

And yet, rights-holders are not happy because apparently none of this actually helps to reduce piracy. Of course, this is what Google and those in the know has been saying all along, that one, pirate sites don’t rely on Google and other search engines for traffic, and even if they did, it would be too easy to create new links for ones that have been removed. So rights-holders then ask for “take down, stay down”, but I’m sure there are easy ways for sites go get around this even if it’s implemented.

Rights-holders are only blaming Google because it’s a nice and big target for them, but the reality is that Google and other search engines are not fueling the piracy craze. People will find a way to locate pirated content even without search engines, and so if you want to stop piracy, you have to stop the people who pirate, and the only sane way to do this would be to take away the reasons why people choose to pirate. Everything else is just a waste of time.


So that’s it for the news this week, and I had to really stretch the definition of “news” to just come up with these. Will now pray even harder to the News Gods!


Weekly News Roundup (October 2, 2016)

October 2nd, 2016

How are you doing on this fine Sunday. It’s windy here. Very windy. So windy that I’m actually glad I’m stuck indoors on this rather sunny day, sitting in front of my computer typing this WNR. Going outside is very overrated sometimes.

A few news stories to go through, but before that, please let me plug my new website/Facebook page, Meowware, once more. If you’re looking for funny cat pics with a technology twist, then maybe give Meowware a go. It’s a little bare in terms of content at the moment, but I plan to have something very interesting up soon, so keep an eye out!

Oh yes, the news …


YouTube, not targeted this time, but a YouTube ripping site is now facing a massive lawsuit

YouTube, not targeted this time, but a YouTube ripping site is now facing a massive lawsuit

The music industry has finally decided the time is right to do something about YouTube ripping. Several major labels and music groups have banded together to launch a massive lawsuit against YouTube MP3 ripping site, YouTube-mp3.org (YTMP3). And I mean massive! The music groups want the maximum allowable $150,000 for each act of infringement that YTMP3 is said to be responsible for, and considering the site gets 60 million visitors monthly, you can do the maths! Actually I did, and if each visitor only rips one YouTube video (likely to be more than that), that’s $9 billion worth of infringement every month.

The plaintiffs also claim that YTMP3 is profiting hugely from their activities, and while I’m sure the site turns a profit, I’m just not sure if it’s as profitable as the RIAA and others think. There are a couple of banner ads, but that seems to be it. Given the going advertising rate these days, I wouldn’t expect the millions in profits, like what the RIAA seems to be claiming.

Regardless, YTMP3 and its German operator does seem to be in a fair bit of trouble. The site doesn’t just extract the links from YouTube, it also processes the raw stream, extracts the audio, converts the audio and, worse of all (from a legal perspective), it seems to store the finished product on its own servers. The site even proudly boasts about this on the front page, a message there reads “Different from other services the whole conversion process will be perfomed [sic] by our infrastructure and you only have to download the audio file from our servers” – this is not something you want to have on your homepage if you want to avoid a lawsuit.

It’s important to note that the site has no association with Google/YouTube, and that it’s actually an abuse of YouTube’s TOS for the site to be operating in this way. So the music industry isn’t going after Google/YouTube in this case, at least not yet.


Street Fighter V

Street Fighter V gamers end up fighting with their anti-virus software over latest game patch

After last week’s DRM story, we have another one this week, although according to gaming company Capcom, it isn’t a DRM at all. Instead, it’s an anti-cracking patch for Street Fighter V, something that prevents unauthorised use and modification of the game (so basically a way to enforce digital rights – but obviously not a DRM. It isn’t a DRM in the sense that it was made to prevent piracy, but nobody ever said that DRM’s only role is to prevent piracy).

The problem though is that, in order to do it’s job, the new security measures had to dig deep into the system, and this is what caused all sorts of problems. First of all, Windows started warning users that the new patch appears to want to do more to system files than a normal patch might do, and to make it worse, anti-virus tools started to flag the patch as suspicious. The problem became so widespread that Capcom was forced to pull the patch shortly after, but not before a public backlash from paying customers.

I know companies want to protect their products, from pirates, or cheaters or hackers alike, but too often, they feel justified in doing “everything they can” to rectify a situation, often with complete disregard to the people that actually pay their salary and the bills, the customers. So the moral of the story is that companies should think of the consequences before they act (and also consulting with security firms and giving them a heads up before doing anything as major as this).


uTorrent has introduced a new feature that may mean you will never be able to finish downloading a torrent. While that seems rather counter-intuitive, the behaviour is actually expected and is part of the new “Altruistic” mode. It’s a new mode for users who wishes to always upload more than they download, and when enabled, it ensures a 2:1 upload to download ratio, even if there aren’t enough people in the swarm to upload to (which is why some downloads may never complete). This will allow users to be “altruistic” when it comes to their torrent sharing, and they no longer need to completely download something and seed for some time in order to ensure their ratio looks right. This should help to improve the quality of swarms, especially at the start of sharing.


So that’s it for news this week. I know it’s not the most interesting collection (and you can probably see I was stretching to find something, anything to write about), but I can only make do with what is available to me. Hopefully, the News Gods will make avail more interesting stories this coming week. Until then, have a good one!

Weekly News Roundup (September 25, 2016)

September 25th, 2016

Finally getting back into the swing of things, and also the right time zone. Luckily for me, it wasn’t one of those hectic news weeks where news stories just oozes out of every crevice. Nope, it was one of those nice and quiet ones where just the right amount of ooze is present, and I can write this WNR without feeling like I’m writing a novel.

So on to the news!


DRM Doesn't Work T-Shirt

Coffee pods, light bulbs, and now printers – all with DRM that won’t work

Who doesn’t love a DRM news story? It’s always interesting to see which industry, and which company has come up with a new way to screw their own customers, and then wait and see how long it takes before the DRM is inevitably broken anyway (broken in the sense that it no longer protects the content or product, and also broken in the sense that it doesn’t work and causes legitimate users to suffer). This time, it’s the printer industry, HP, and not very long before their latest attempt to curb competition will fail. HP has sneakily added in a new DRM to their printers that prevents them from using third-party ink, giving users an misleading “damaged ink cartridge” message.

I say sneaky because the new protection scheme was added in via a firmware update more than half a year ago, but was set to activate only this week. I guess HP wanted to give their customer service department more time to prepare for the barrage of complaint calls.

And as with most DRM implementations, it was buggy. Some users have reported that their HP branded cartridges are being labeled as “damaged” as well, and one user reported the printer refused to let him exchange the cartridge at all.

Worst of all, but totally expected, this new anti-competitive measure may end up being broken sooner rather than later. Third party ink manufacturers are already promising new updated cartridges that will be able to bypass the new DRM scheme.

So lots of bad publicity, user complaints, lost customers and in the end, all probably for nothing. Yep, that’s DRM for ya! Why won’t they ever learn?

Dr. Downloadlove or: How I Learned To Love Piracy. Having finally realised that constantly complaining about piracy is not a cool things to do anymore, more and more industry peeps are now learning to embrace it. Or rather, they’re finally admitting that piracy isn’t always the Big Bad Wolf that they’ve been telling us all this time.

The latest declaration of adoration occurred at the All That Matters content conference in Singapore, when former Sony India exec Samir Bangara declared his unending love for piracy in front of unimpressed movie studio execs. So okay, it wasn’t as controversial as I’ve made it sound, but Bangara did state that piracy may be the solution to one of the biggest problems facing media companies at the moment: discoverability. Bangara also pointed to the value of piracy data in determining what users wanted to watch, data that companies like Netflix and Warner Bros. have also admitted to using in the past.

Or to sum up, piracy rocks!


PS4 Pro

PS4 Pro can do 4K gaming, kind of

More fallout from the PS4 Pro launch, and the subsequent rubbing-it-in-ness that Microsoft have been engaged in ever since. It’s not helped by the fact that Sony promoted the PS4 Pro as a 4K console, but possibly due to legal reasons and more prodding by tech journalists, they’ve had to clarify their statement quite a bit. Most people who had a detailed look at the PS4 Pro specs realised that this thing was not going to do native 4K. Sony has also said that the majority of of PS4 Pro enabled games will be upscaled to 4K.

So instead of being pedantic about this many pixels or whatever, Sony says it’s all about whether gamers are able to see a difference and how close to a real 4K gaming experience it will be. To be fair, it would take an enormously powerful machine to do native 4K without compromises (think PCs with $1000+ GPUs), and not even Microsoft’s Xbox One Scorpio, coming a year later, will be able to do 4K without taking a few shortcuts.

Microsoft has been keen to point out they their effort, with 6 teraflops of power, will get gamers much closer to true native 4K than the Pro’s 4.2 teraflops (which was never really going to be good enough for 4K). But even Microsoft has admitted that there will be “asterisks” when it comes to the Scorpio claiming to do 4K gaming, but just fewer of them than Sony’s effort.


So that’s another week done and dusted. Hoping for more and more interesting stories to update you on next week. Until then, have a great week!

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