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Scott Ertz Amazon survived its first NFL game stream, a win for streaming tech
(2022-09-18)
Amazon survived its first NFL game stream, a win for streaming tech This week, Amazon streamed its first NFL game on its platform, officially launching Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime Video. From a broadcast perspective, it wasn't anything special or spectacular. However, there is one aspect of the stream that stands out in a crowded streaming market: it worked. And that is good news, and a big accomplishment, for the streaming industry.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">Congrats to Amazon[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
While it may not seem like a giant feat, it really is. Amazon managed to stream an entire NFL football game without the entire infrastructure of Amazon Prime Video collapsing. This is because we've legitimately never seen anything of this scale not fall apart before our eyes. CBS All Access (now Paramount+) collapsed under the weight of the Super Bowl in 2021. HBO Max failed completely during the premiere of House of The Dragons premiere. Even The Daily Wire failed during the premiere of the documentary What is a Woman?, though that one seemed to be caused by a DDoS attack.

Amazon might have faced some buffering issues, and the occasional pixelation, but the stream never actually failed. That is a huge accomplishment for the streaming market, which has regularly failed during major events. Most importantly, it shows that it is possible to hold a large online stream without completely losing control over the technology.

As streaming becomes a bigger part of our lives, more events, such as NFT Thursday Night Football, are going to move from over-the-air broadcast or even cable to these streaming platforms. Being able to deploy the infrastructure needed to make these events work is the only way that customers are going to trust the platforms enough to want to watch, and for the content producers to trust them enough to sign a contract.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">Why it worked this time[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
The likelihood of why it worked for Amazon while everyone else has seemingly failed is because they control the entire backend system for their streaming platform. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a primary product of the company, meaning they had the ability to scale up the infrastructure as needed on demand without any external forces.

However, whether you're Netflix or The Daily Wire and rely on AWS for your infrastructure, you're a whole level of abstraction away from the physical hardware. This means that it will likely require manual intervention to scale up in the middle of a broadcast, and will have a slight delay before it takes effect. Therefore, you're more likely to drop streamers or collapse entirely before the cloud system catches up.

Does this mean that competitors should build their own cloud infrastructure? Not necessarily. But, they will need to be more thoughtful about the way in which they use the cloud and how and when they are able to scale up and down their operations in response to immediate market needs. It won't be easy, but for the next generation of live streaming to be a success, it's going to need to happen.
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Scott Ertz Uber hacked by 18-year-old using standard phishing techniques
(2022-09-18)
Uber hacked by 18-year-old using standard phishing techniques It seems like every company is constantly under attack from the outside world. Unfortunately, no amount of "IT responsibility training" can protect them from a phishing attack, no matter how many times the company forces employees to watch these videos. This week, Uber was the recipient of one of these social engineering attacks, which apparently allowed an 18-year-old to access the inner workings of the company and its computer systems.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">What happened?[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
Currently, what we know is based on a lot of public boasting. However, the initial research suggests that the information is correct. So, what happened and how did one of the biggest tech companies in the world get so easily hacked?

It started out with the discovery of an employee's WhatsApp number. Using that, our intrepid hacker set up a fake Uber page that looked real and sent the link to the employee. The employee then tried to log into the fake portal using their credentials, which were then stored by the teen. Using those credentials, the hacker logged into the real Uber system.

Of course, Uber uses MFA (or multi-factor authentication) for its systems, meaning there was still another step to overcome. In an effort to confuse the employee, the hacker continuously sent MFA notifications to the employee's phone, which finally led to the employee approving one of these requests, either out of confusion or exhaustion or possibly even simply by accident (we've all hit a notification when we were trying to hit the back button on our phones).

With this, the hacker was in the system and had a look around. This led to the discovery of a network share drive containing PowerShell scripts, including admin username and password, giving access to resources such as Amazon Web Services and G Suite accounts.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">How do we know what went down?[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
This is the most interesting part of the whole story. The hacker announced their presence on the network by sending messages on the company's Slack channels. In fact, the messages were not covert in any way, with one literally saying,

I announce I am a hacker and Uber has suffered a data breach

Because of the openness of the hacker, it is believed that financial and malicious intents were not the goal. Instead, it appears that it might have all been part of some sort of protest. The individual posted several messages across Slack saying that drivers are not paid enough, indicating strongly that this was the goal.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">How has Uber responded?[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
First and foremost, the company has admitted the hack, saying,

We are currently responding to a cybersecurity incident. We are in touch with law enforcement and will post additional updates here as they become available.

The company currently does not believe that any sensitive data was accessed, such as user location or route data, but has begun an exhaustive investigation to verify. If it turns out to be a political action, less will need to be done. However, if personal data was accessed, Uber might have to follow the lead of other companies and offer identity protection and more. Either way, though, I suspect employees will all have to watch those useless videos again on how to prevent social engineering.
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Scott Ertz Next Nintendo 64 games announced for Switch Online, including GoldenEye
(2022-09-18)
Next Nintendo 64 games announced for Switch Online, including GoldenEye One of the best parts of the Switch Online and Switch Online + Expansion Pack is the games that are available. For those who do not have the original classic hardware and games, it's a great way to easily play some of the top games of the past. For those of us who do have the classic hardware and games, it still brings new capabilities to those older games, like online multiplayer. That's why it's always exciting when Nintendo announces new games coming to the platform, and this batch is no different.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">What's coming next?[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
The first batch of games, arriving later this year, come directly from the best parts of the Nintendo 64 vault. First is Pilotwings 64, which is always a good time. However, the real excitement comes from the release of Mario Party and Mario Party 2. For many in the Nintendo 64 generation, the beginning of the Mario Party franchise was among the best of the best. Over the years, the games have lost a lot of their charm (until the most recent entry in the series), but the original few games were really fantastic.

However, the game coming after that one is the most important on the list: GoldenEye 007. This is, without question, the pinnacle of the Nintendo 64 console. Whether you liked Bond stories or not, even if you never saw the accompanying movie, nearly everyone who ever touched an N64 played and loved GoldenEye 007. And, as is common with these Switch Online releases, we're getting a new capability: an online multiplayer.

The original title was all about multiplayer with a limitation of the era - you had to be in the same room to play. Of course, this can also be seen as a benefit, as it required people to spend time together in order to play. The new version with online multiplayer brings the game into the modern era, while also losing just a little bit of its charm. Nintendo says GoldenEye 007 is "coming soon."

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">Games coming later[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
Following the initial batch of titles comes Mario Party 3 and the first and second Pokemon Stadium titles. The Pokemon franchise has seen a resurgence in recent years with new styles of play being introduced, such as with Pokemon GO bringing the franchise into the real world, and Pokemon Unite introducing 5 versus 5 competitions. As such, bringing back some of the earlier games makes a lot of sense.

In the sports game category, Nintendo will also be bringing titles like 1080 Snowboarding and Excitebike 64 to subscribers. Both of these games were more niche than their Mario Party and Pokemon counterparts, but were still incredibly popular. We've also seen a return to game styles like 1080 Snowboarding, which was an offshoot of the skateboarding games, in recent years. These games will be coming in 2023.

Of course, all of this requires the Expansion Pack, which costs $50 per years for individuals and $80 per year for families. Which title are you most excited to see added to the Switch Online lineup?
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Scott Ertz EVGA exiting videocard business despite large part of company revenue
(2022-09-18)
EVGA exiting videocard business despite large part of company revenue When it comes to videocards, one of the top brands for years is EVGA. The company makes a solid product and often does it at a more affordable price than many of its competitors. Despite the company offering a full range of computer components, most of its revenue comes from these video cards. Despite all of this, a recent report suggests that EVGA may be getting out of the video card business entirely.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">What's going on with EVGA?[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
Originally coming from a report from GamersNexus and later confirmed by EVGA, the company will be completely exiting the video card business going forward. The company will not produce cards for Nvidia's next generation series, expected to be announced and shown off in the very near future. They will, however, continue selling the current generation of cards and supporting any products that are in the wild today.

This announcement comes following rumors that there have been issues between Nvisia and EVGA. The original GamersNexus video expands on these rumors and features quotes from EVGA's founder and CEO Andrew Han and chief branding officer Joe Darwin. They claim that the relationship has been strained for several years because of the behavior of Nvidia's leadership. In particular, they take issue with Nvidia's lack of clarity over specs unit llate in the production cycle, along with no pricing information over the chips until after the company announced the hardware and the MSRP for each model.

The real issue, however, comes down to the company's ability to compete fairly in the market because of restrictions placed on them by Nvidia. For example, Nvidia creates floors for some cards and ceilings for others, that partners like EVGA are prohibited from pricing outside of. So, lower end cards are not allowed to be priced outside of a particular window, preventing manufacturers from creating prices to compete strongly with the other Nvidia partners.

They also take issue with Nvidia's Founders Edition cards - cards released by Nvidia, priced below the competition, and competing directly with those partners. It's similar to what happened when Microsoft entered the computer market, selling the original Surface. However, while the Surface line served to inspire the other manufacturers, they never tried to sell their own line beneath the price of their Windows partners. Nvidia, however, seems to be aimed directly at the partners.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">What comes next?[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
We're not entirely sure what's next for either Nvidia or EVGA. Certainly, their brand name no longer makes sense, if they exit the video card business entirely. However, what could be coming is a new partnership with AMD. They have had such a strong relationship with Nvidia that they have never seemed interested in engaging AMD, but they could easily transition from GeForce to Radeon in the next generation of cards.

For Nvidia, it seems like the company is trying to dev=cide what its own future looks like. If the comments are true, they don't seem focused on supporting partners. Does that mean that Founders Edition cards will be the company's new focus? Do they want to eliminate partners in the future, or is it possible the partners will all follow EVGA? Unfortunately, there is no way to know until we get to the future.

How is this move making you feel? Are you worried about the future of video cards, or has EVGA never been your go-to brand? Let us know in the coments.
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Scott Ertz Warner Bros. Discovery might have a new head of DC to take on Marvel
(2022-08-28)
Warner Bros. Discovery might have a new head of DC to take on Marvel Over the past few years, the direction of the DC Comics universes has been confusing at best and chaotic at worst. Some films have been fantastic while others have been major misses. And, when the franchises crossover, the results are unimpressive. Then, add in the unrelated television versions of these characters and you have an inconsistent approach to media. Now, with DC's newest owners, the newly merged Warner Bros. Discovery, the brand has a renewed focus and a potentially focused future under a single leader.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">The Marvel Approach[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
Marvel, in opposition to DC, has had great success with its media offerings. From movies to TV and even some external content, Marvel has had a singular vision for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The company gave each individual franchise a leader with the ability to drive the direction of the franchise. Then, when the characters came together in Avengers adventures, that leader would still maintain control over the writing and direction of their own character.

Meanwhile, Disney put Kevin Feige in charge of all MCU projects. All of the franchise directors report to him, and all decisions regarding the overall direction of the greater universe are made by him. This is how Marvel and Disney have managed to maintain consistency between films, between franchises, and even through crossovers.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">The DC Approach[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
DC has taken a different approach toward film and television. In TV, the company created a single universe in which most, if not all, modern shows take place. The characters regularly cross over between shows and manually would be featured in a single story which took place across all of the shows and different nights. The Arrowverse, as it was commonly known, was incredibly popular and the highlight of the DC offerings.

On the other hand, the company's film offerings were chaos. Different directors with different visions, each producing stories set outside of a single universe. That's fine, except they tried to bring them together in Justice League, only to make it feel like the same actors were playing different roles. Then, some films came out without fitting into any of these boxes - completely separate.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">The New Approach[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
Now that WarnerMedia is part of Discovery, forming Warner Bros. Discovery, the company wants to approach DC in the same way Disney approaches Marvel. In fact, it appears that they have found their version of Feige: producer Dan Lin.

Lin, according to reports, report directly to WBD CEO David Zaslav, skipping right past several levels of executives. This shows a focus on DC in the eyes of Zaslav that former versions of Warner seem to have lacked. His role is being championed by Alan Horn, the former Disney chair who was responsible for the restructuring that led to Feige overseeing Marvel.

For now, this is still a project in the works. This is because Lin has current projects with Disney, who would never let him work on their major franchises, such as Lilo & Stitch, while also taking over a division of a competitor. If the deal works out, hopefully he will help DC get its sealegs and walk a straight line to a consistent experience.
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