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VOLUME 14 NO. 4

EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE

NOVEMBER, 2014

 

MORE B.O.

WHETHER REPORT

THE GAME OF SNAPS

SELFIE ABUSE

BARFETTES

iTOONS

SIMPSONS FIXX

NEW REAL NEWS KOMIX! SHOW HACK!

 

 

Cal Paprika, from Show Hack!, here for the web overlords of this site, to remind all our reader minions that the greatest holiday, Halloween is not just one night of creepy fun. How can anyone go wrong with dressing up as weird or bizarre cultural characters in order to get sick on an overload of free candy from strangers?! You may spend the next month gorging on your sweet stash, but take it easy kids. Playing video games does not burn the calories.

Since this is supposed to be a Public Service Announcement (PSA), go easy on the root canal tasty treats. Here is an old school idea: share some of the haul with your needy friends. Or give some away to the homeless shelter, since missions normally don't give dental benefits. And remember, the
December holidays will be another round of FRESH sweets and candy. There is no need to hoard. Share people, share!

 

 

©2014 Ski

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MORE BO . . . THE FUTURE OF THE PAST

Home Box Office (HBO) has been a staple of the premium cable plans since the beginning of the urbanization of cable systems. If you wanted to get HBO's movies, you had to pay a top tier price on a monthly basis. When HBO became its own network-production company of original programs, viewers were attracted to paying for quality entertainment. Cable systems like the high tier platform because it offsets the costs of lesser viewed channels.

But the American consumer has reached its break point. Operators have been forcing $4 per month sports channels on all their subscribers even though many don't care to watch FoxSports or ESPN. The Los Angeles Dodgers created their own baseball network with Time Warner. Time Warner gave the Dodgers a billion dollar deal, but then found that the channel was not going to be carried by other cable and satellite companies (due to the high per scriber license fee). As a result, most Dodger fans in LA spent the season without access to their home team. This sports-cable business model suddenly hit a consumer brick wall.

At the same time, distribution of programs is now in flux. The popularity of Netflix and universal internet access has allowed consumers the freedom to choose their entertainment options without being tethered to their living room couch and held hostage by a cable box. There is very few destination television programs where the nation sets down together in front of their sets to watch the show (live sports is still the exception).

As lobbyists tried to kill Congressional inquiries on cable business aversion to a la carte pricing, HBO flexes its muscle by announcing it will start its own streaming service. When a major content producer decides to bypass its normal distribution channel, it becomes instant major news. HBO becomes a player in direct competition with Netflix, the cable operators and dish-TV companies.

The burial of the cable giants like AT&T and Comcast is premature, because in order for HBO to make its mark in streaming, it still needs consumers have a broadband Internet connection. The cable titans have moved more of their business toward providing broadband services such as VoIP, hosting and high speed digital connections. Those cable giants are the self-appointed traffic cops and now toll booths for Internet distribution. The owners of the cable lines want to have the heavy users, such as a data hog of streaming entertainment in HD, to pay for access to the web; the idea of having paid “fast lanes” is controversial since the Internet was dreamed to be free, nondiscriminatory access for all.

This may not be a great boom for consumer choice. If cable operators begin to lose their premium star channels like HBO to the net, those cable companies who provide high speed Internet will begin to increase data charges to users. The day of unlimited data is gone in the smart phone space. The same will be true for home consumers.

If a consumer has to pay by the GB for streaming programs, this could add up quickly beyond their current monthly telecom bills. For example, weekly streaming movie night could cost as much as one's current monthly cable bill. Even though people love their smartphones and tablets, HBO programs are meant to be viewed on the big screen so despite the freedom of streaming options, one still will need a box next to the TV to connect to that service. Most likely it will be the same provider as your cable (since very few communities allow cable company competition). It may turn out like the electricity deregulation where homeowners got two bills: one from the power generator and one from the distribution company. It turned out the deregulation savings were illusory as after a few years, municipalities began dropping the plans as being too expensive.

HBO is trying to tap the 80 million people who do not have HBO-cable access. The youth market is more tied to their electronic devices than a cable box. This is a big enough pie to extract $10 to $20 per month per person to make some real revenue. The value of streaming is that it is on-demand, anywhere, on any device. Many people will pay for that convenience. But the vast majority of television programming are merely shifting their current costs to different programs and not increasing their spending. So some analysts believe that the poker chips on the table are not going to increase between the players, but merely shift from hand to hand (month to month) as consumers wander from service to service.

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THE WHETHER REPORT

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STATUS

Question: Whether Apple's iPad2 event was underwhelming as Wall Street analysts claim?

* Educated Guess

* Possible

* Probable

* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

* Doubtful

* Vapor Dream

Question: Whether sports leagues will continue in the future to receive multi-billion television contracts?

* Educated Guess

* Possible

* Probable

* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

* Doubtful

* Vapor Dream

Question: Whether the government will try to ban deep encryption programs like Apple's?

* Educated Guess

* Possible

* Probable

* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

* Doubtful

* Vapor Dream

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THE GAME OF SNAPS. . . CYBERCULTURE

Celebrity hunting is now a digital sport. After an iCloud breach of private photographs, Snapchat was hacked and another 100,000 images were released to the public. Apple said that its servers were not breached, but individual accounts may have been phished or passwords guessed (through the use of public information like birthdays, likes, pet names, and custom algorithm programs). It is ironic that law enforcement/security firms and the underground photo hackers use basically the same techniques to get to hidden information and bypass security features. There is a digital game of cat and mouse with personal data as the cheese.

 

The concept of an underground economy is not new. The underworld works in the shadows. The same type of people and behavior in the real world live in the digital world. Anonymous posters in sub Reddits and boards trade dark code for money or other currency, like nude celebrity photographs. In their own circle, these individuals had been operating in secret and quite successfully. A person may never know their account had been breached and files copied without their permission. It was only when someone released the treasure trove of stolen pics into a public forum did the world realize the nature and extent of the problem. These secret exchanges quickly disappeared, and former users were quite upset that someone had ruined their fun.

One person's fun is another person's violation.

Under the Digital Copyright Act, IP hosts have safe harbor immunity from any third party posts. However, officials are seeking exceptions beyond take down notices - - - trying to hold anyone with access or copies of stolen photographs criminally liable. The night stick is that many of the photographs stolen were of underaged teens sexting pictures. Since the Internet is vast and complex and difficult to police, the shadows of criminal behavior are long and deep.

As in the digital watercolor of actress Jennifer Lawrence (above) shows the Catch 22. Young actresses are tuned into the social media as a means of keeping their careers in high gear. The smartphone with its camera is the unfiltered portal to their fans and their private lives. Some people say that celebrities should not in the first place take compromising photographs, let alone send them over the insecure Internet But even famous people are entitled to a private life. Many actors say that during their long work schedules, including months on film sets, it is difficult to maintain a long distance relationship. The use of email and photo attachments is one way to keep in touch - - - and it is a matter of personal privacy. Since most of a celebrity's life is an open book (whether true or gossip), they are public figures subject to admiration and exploitation. But these latest hacks also include non-public figure files and photographs. Life intimidates art.

Any picture taken on a phone can be diverted; any picture sent over your phone or computer has to travel through public servers; any picture stored on an Internet connected computer is subject to intrusions; and anything stored in the cloud is a third party holding your valuables with open nodes to their servers. Security is only as good as the software and hardware protections. Every system that allows files to leave your physical possession through the communications systems is a target for hackers. And the general public learned this year that there is a sophisticated underground culture preying on security lapses to take copies of personal data and photographs.

The scandals will force corporate security measures to increase, but no system in the wild is 100 percent secure. The cultural question is whether people and celebrities will change their behavior to protect their own privacy from invasions.

 

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SELFIE ABUSE ARTICLE

Today's youth often tune out their parents advice on how they should behave in public. Act responsible. Be modest. Don't do anything you will regret later.

It is so easy to tweet, post, comment or send a nasty pic out into the public domain because people don't filter themselves. Their internal gatekeeper (conscious, sobriety, morality) are often in sleep mode. If you think only your close friends will find you posts you are too naive to save. Employers, potential employers, schools and other authority figures can Google, search and check your social media as part of any due diligence. What you post on-line does have tangible effects, including among your own peers.

There is a recent study published in the Journal of Psychology of Popular Media Culture that concludes that women who post provocative pictures of themselves on Facebook and Instagram are viewed as less intelligent and less friendly. As stated in a July, 2014 Yahoo Tech article, researchers surveyed the reactions of over one hundred teenage girls and young women (ages 13-25) to two versions of a Facebook page for a girl named “Amanda.” In the study, researchers showed participants two Facebook profiles of Amanda that were identical EXCEPT for the profile pictures.

One version that the survey-takers viewed featured Amanda in a conservative jeans and shirt outfit, with her chest covered by a scarf. The other portion of the study participants saw the sexy profile, featuring a picture of Amanda wearing a revealing red dress and a thigh-high slit that exposed a garter.

Each study participant was then asked to rate Amanda on her competence, friendliness, and attractiveness, based upon what she had seen and read on the particular profile. The results confirm a parent's worst fear. The scantily-clad clad Amanda was given lower marks in all three areas, competence, friendliness, and attractiveness.

“This is one of the first studies to show that not only do other women and girls perceive the women in non-sexualized photographs as more competent, they’re also seen as prettier and more desirable as a friend,” the researchers said. This is part of a growing mountain of clear evidence of what one posts on-line is an important factor in the digital social relations but the consequences need to be shown to educate young men and women about the new online trail that follows each user.

According to this research, understanding the way in which users are perceiving each other online can be even be impacts to foundational areas of life, like friendship and employability. And coincidentally, as it’s becoming more common for our social media portraits to impact how others see us in real life, it may also be the case that social media is influencing narcissism, causing us not to give a damn about what others think. A separate study claimed as much, reporting that 89.5-percent of those surveyed had pictures of themselves as his or her profile picture. Correlated narcissism tests found links to self-centered Facebook behaviors for men and women, with narcissism for the latter gender being linked to frequency of updates, as well as frequency of replacing profile pictures. If one cannot control their internal filter of the kind of wild sexuality and debauchery one can post effortlessly on the social media sites will have a direct effect on your job status, employability, and relationships with even your friends.

People are getting conditioned to live their life is the digital space instead of “old fashion” interpersonal gatherings. And even if people go to events like concerts, bashes and raves, the posts and Instagram selfies from the venue will hit their home page before the encore. Some think their social media presence is a digital scrapbook. Which is fine, except when it gets too diary personal. For what you may think is acceptable, some one else viewing it may get a totally different reaction.

A type of parental advice is making its rounds. If you would not want your elderly grandmother to see or read your post, then don't post it.

 

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barfette

The Daily Mail (UK) reports that a recent study monitoring the behavior of mobile phone owners shows that the average smartphone owner picks up his device a staggering 1,500 times in a week and spends more than three hours a day staring into its screen. The numbers come from a survey of 2,000 smartphone owners, conducted by the Tecmark marketing agency. Tecmark says its findings show that there are, on average, 221 tasks in a typical day that people now turn to smartphones for, cutting into time that used to be spent at desktops or laptops. The decline in PC web hits tracks with the decrease in PC sales. It seems that web traffic is moving away from the desktop to mobile platforms.

barfette

People think they can do two or more things at a time. Some people like to study while listening to music. Some people think they can drive and phone at the same time. But a recent Stanford University study shows that multitasking is problematic: it kills your performance and may even damage your brain. The researchers found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers also found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.

The Stanford researchers compared groups of people based on their tendency to multitask and their personal belief that it helps their performance. They found that heavy 1 of 5 multitaskers—those who multitask a lot and feel that it boosts their performance—were actually worse at multitasking than those who like to do a single thing at a time. The frequent multitaskers performed worse because they had more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, and they were slower at switching from one task to another. Scientists conclude that multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.

barfette

When you want to find out the current national or local weather forecast, one could turn to the Weather Channel, the topic specific 365 day/24 hour weather geekfest. However, the lack of major weather stories (tornadoes, hurricanes, major storms) does not draw the viewership that management wants for its cable channel. So, editors are now pushing more non-weather programs to fill airtime. The idea of weather documentaries to the slippery slope towards nature/reality shows does not register for long time Weather Channel viewers.

There is a push for diversification. Even specialty web sites try to spread out their coverage to include gossip and celebrity stories in order for those topics to bump up search results and web page hits. So many web sites are expanding feature stories, but at the same time cutting back on actual hard news content. This is appeasement to the web “skimmers” who read only the headline or first sentence of story before moving on to the next link.

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SIMPSONS FIXX BINGE PROGRAMMING

The Simpsons is arching through its 26th season because Fox TV has nothing to replace its Sunday night star. Critics have found that recent seasons are not up to par, but after 500 episodes how much creative blood can anyone squeeze out a one franchise?

Late this summer, Fox's FXX channel decided to try to move the ratings needle off zero at this outpost in the high triple digit cable number system. Fox decided to run a non-stop marathon of Simpsons episodes, beginning at No. 1 through the current season. 552 half hours; about 2.5 weeks of nonstop yellow face slapstick comedy.

In one way, this was a parody of Fox itself that the Simpsons would mock. Fox had run out of any new content ideas, so they came to the conclusion to re-run its best franchise.

The problem solving worked: FXX ratings went up 400 percent. Viewers reached out and went to look for a Simpsons marathon.

It worked so well that Fox has decided to keep massive Simpsons' program blocks on FXX five nights a week.

Which is basically spinning new gold from the old paid for straw.

It hit a cord that many viewers now seem as an acceptable digestion of entertainment: binge viewing. Usually, that is paying for a netflix account or buy a Blue ray box set of one's favorite show, and go hard core couch potato for a weekend or two. By putting a binge (free) viewing experience on one of its less successful channels, Fox found a new purpose for old content.

The success of the Simpsons channel may get copycats from the NBC Universal Comcast conglomerate, which has vast content libraries that could be used to launch a binge channel. Except, most cable operators have limited space in the trunks to add new networks. But with more fights over re-transmission fees to broadcast current network programming, some cable operators may look to cheaper channels.

The Simpsons works in binge mode because each episode is a self-contained plot. One cannot loop a drama show like six seasons of LOST for 24 hour cycles and have any audience really follow what is going on. The Simpsons also had such a deep fan base, generations of fans, that it is a cultural icon series that anyone can pick up without much effort. It is the easily chewed candy corn in the bottom of the Halloween treat bucket.

Fox also announced the Simpsons mobile app, where anyone can watch any episode. However, the one restriction is that you need to have a valid cable account in order to access the shows. This is probably an appeasement to the cable operators, who in retransmission agreements allow viewer time shifting with on-demand features. So, even if you are on the road, the Simpsons are going to stalk you like a villain in the Treehouse of Horror episode.

 

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THE STEAM PUNK SPECIAL EDITION featured new Music from Chicago Ski & the (audio) Real News:

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