Twitch: A Big, Juicy Target

February 16, 2020

Videogame streamers are some of the Internet’s most popular celebrities and most people have never heard about them. PewDiePie is the reigning streaming king and YouTube is his domain, but dozens of other gamers vie for his throne from the land of Twitch. The San Francisco Gate examines the streaming craze and how tech corporations are trying to hone in on the profits, “Game On: Tech Giants Vs. The Kind Of Streaming.”

Both Facebook and Microsoft have attempted to snag a piece of the streaming profit pie, but nothing rivals Twitch. Twitch started as a startup in San Francisco that Amazon purchased for $1 billion in 2014. Twitch now controls 76% of video game streaming on Europe, North America, and South America. While most people are not aware of the popularity of video game streaming, it is an importance facet in the $180 billion gaming industry and it makes more money than movies and music.

Microsoft is eager to take on Twitch and the company hired one of Twitch’s biggest streamers, Tyler Blevins aka Ninja for an undisclosed amount of amount. Microsoft wants Blevins to promote its streaming service Mixer, but he did little to raise Mixer’s users in 2019. Mixer only accounts for 3.2% of the streaming market, while Twitch continues to grow. Hiring Blevins was not enough for Microsoft, although it was a good move:

“Mixer has been growing steadily since it started, said Ben Decker, head of gaming services at Microsoft, and now has more than 30 million monthly active users. But to really compete with Twitch, which has reported that it has 140 million monthly users, Microsoft needs to do more than spend a few million dollars on a star streamer, said Doron Nir, chief executive of StreamElements. When it comes to having a streaming platform, this is a billion-dollar game,” he said. “It’s going to take a lot more from Mixer to really take away from the enormous audience that Twitch has.”

Nir said he didn’t believe the deal for Blevins was bad for Mixer. It still brought widespread media attention and put it in the conversation. And Microsoft was not discouraged, bringing over Michael Grzesiek, a professional gamer known as Shroud, and Cory Michael, a streamer who goes by King Gothalion, from Twitch.”

Other tech giants are attempting to steal some of Twitch’s success, but Twitch remains strong and will continue to dominant for the time being. There is room for streaming platforms like Mixer and other emerging rivals to join the market, but they will need to bring something new and unique like Twitch did.

Whitney Grace, February 16, 2020

Google Podcasts: How Much Will One Pay to Be a Top Podcast?

February 14, 2020

Podcasts are the talk radio for the mobile thumb adept. Finding podcasts has been a matter of hit and miss. Apple displays some podcasts on topic pages. Then the iPhone outfit provides “see all”, and one gets another subset of available content organized by Apple categories. Just try to locate a Spanish language technology podcast from the US. Interesting exercise. The optimal results are obtained by finding one Spanish podcast and then browsing the other podcasts displayed by the system. My approach is to locate the name of a specific podcast and using Apple’s quite limited “search box” to find the program. Either way, hassle after hassle. Other services offer podcasts. These are variants of the Apple approach. Hassle after hassle.

Now there is an alternative for those who embrace the Google with the intensity of deceased Googler Forrest Timothy Hayes. Late in 2019 Google provided some information about its podcast service which would be available on:

Google Search on all browsers
Google Search App for Android (requires v6.5 or higher of the Google Search App)
Google Podcasts app
Chrome for Android
Google Home
An Action on the Google Assistant
Android Auto

The Google Android podcast app became available in January 2020. Not perfect. One user pointed out that there is no way to search within a podcast episode list and there is no bookmark function. Google responded in a Googley way of course:

We’re always working to improve Google Podcasts, and we’ll take these suggestions into account as we design our upcoming roadmap.

DarkCyber noted a dedicated podcast Web page called Google Podcasts. It looked like this on Thursday, February 13, 2020:

image

Among our test queries was a search for “cyber law.” The results included a pointer to the Steptoe & Johnson cyber law podcast. After a listing of some random Steptoe & Johnson programs, these suggestions were presented:

image

Okay, a work in progress as long as the Googlers who worked on this project remain interested or fail to get transferred to a “hot” project within the online ad company. Google’s high school science club management approach does produce some high school science fair type projects. (Observation: There may be more winners at a Santa Clara high school science fair than among the Google “projects.”

Let’s shift gears.

Good, bad, or indifferent, consider this question:

What will a podcaster or a firm funding a podcast play pay to appear on the Google Podcast search splash page?

Or

How much will a podcaster in search of visibility and clicks pay to be in one of the limited “results” displays?

Or

How many ads can Google display when a person uses Google Podcasts search to look for a category like “travel” or “flight”?

For now, Google Podcast search results appear to be without overt advertising. In the future, this may be another monetization play created by segmenting Google’s index.

That’s okay as long as the results are useful. For now, DarkCyber will stick to its old fashioned methods.

Stephen E Arnold, February 14, 2020

Old Book Illustrations

February 14, 2020

A useful collection of illustrations from “old books” is now available at this link. The service says:

Old Book Illustrations was born of the desire to share illustrations from a modest collection of books, which we set out to scan and publish. With the wealth of resources available online, it became increasingly difficult to resist the temptation to explore other collections and include these images along with our own. Although it would have been possible to considerably broaden the time-frame of our pursuit, we chose to keep our focus on the original period in which we started for reasons pertaining to taste, consistency, and practicality: due to obvious legal restrictions, we had to stay within the limits of the public domain. This explains why there won’t be on this site illustrations first published prior to the 18th century or later than the first quarter of the 20th century.

Like many other collections of images, locating an image can be an interesting exercise. DarkCyber entered a query for the word “factory.” The system respond with two pages of thumbnails. One of the “factory” items as this image:

image

Old Book Illustrations provides documentation for use of the retrieval system. The Navigation How To includes diagrams and explanations for the user.

DarkCyber points out that locating images by key words or concepts makes clear the limitations of today’s information retrieval technology. This is not a criticism of Old Book Illustrations. Our observation is intended to make sure that the tens of millions of “search experts” recognize the limitations of finding technology and perhaps their own understanding of the issues involved when looking for digital information in services that cannot pay for subject matter experts to index using controlled vocabularies and well crafted classification systems.

How advanced is a more mature system like Google’s, for instance? Go to Google Images and try to locate a specific image in the Time Life images stored on Google. How’s that working out?

Image recognition is at the heart of facial recognition systems. There are worries about facial recognition, but image recognition and meaningful mapping to terms remains a very difficult task. Many problems must be solved before image recognition’s accuracy eliminates most of the manual work still required even with today’s most sophisticated systems.

Kudos for those who try. However, the journey is a long one. Travelers will have manual scanning of images in a database to occupy their idle hours.

Stephen E Arnold, February 13, 2020

Map Economics: Useful Content and One Major Omission

February 13, 2020

DarkCyber spotted a paper called “The Economics of Maps.” The authors have presented some extremely useful and interesting information about depicting the real world.

One of the most useful aspects of the article is the list of companies providing different types of mapping services and data. The list of firms in this business includes such providers, vendors, and technology companies as:

Airbus

Farmers Edge

Mapbox

Pitney Bowes

There are some significant omissions; for example, the category for geo-analytics for law enforcement and intelligence applications; for example, the low profile Geogence and investigative tools like those available from Verint.

Worth reading and tucking into one’s intelligence folder in our opinion.

Stephen E Arnold, February 13, 2020

Paris Museums: More Art Online. Search Means Old Fashioned Hunting Around

February 5, 2020

Oh, boy—it is a collection of art from the many Paris Museums available online at Paris Musées Collections. This artist’s daughter is delighted!

Unfortunately, the site’s search functionality disappoints. Unless your goal is either to find a specific work or to aimlessly browse the 150,213 public domain images, it is another almost unusable collection. I suppose trusting to serendipity has its place, but most of us are looking for something a bit more specific, even if we don’t have a particular title or artist in mind.

There is a section titled “Thematic Discovering,” which might be useful to some. They have put together 11 preconfigured themes that span museums, like “Sport, Jeux Olympiqes et Paris” (Sports, Olympic Games, and Paris) or “Elements: Air, Terre, Feu, Eau” (Elements: Air, Earth, Fire, Water). They do make for interesting guided tours. There are also a highlighted Virtual Exhibition and a few suggested works at the bottom of the page.

I was excited to find this resource—it really is a valuable collection to have at our fingertips. If only it were easier to navigate. Check it out if you feel persistent.

And for those who think search is really great. None of the visual art collections feature a search which delivers what most users seek.

Cynthia Murrell, February 5, 2020

Amazon and New, Quite Real Twitch Opportunity

January 14, 2020

In my lectures, I discuss Twitch. I won’t go into the examples of Twitch content in this blog. You can look for me at one of my law enforcement lectures this year.

I do want to call attention to “Twitch’s Non Gamers Are Finally Having Their Moment.” The write up includes an interesting factoid, which – like most Wired information – is super credible. Here’s the statement:

A new report from stream management site StreamElements indicates that in December, Twitch viewers watched 81 million hours of “Just Chatting,” Twitch’s category for streamers who do exactly that, plus any number of other grab-bag activities. That was a solid 7 million hours more than the first game listed, League of Legends, and 23 million more than the second, Fortnite. The popularity of “Just Chatting” is bleeding into January, too, and according to StreamElements, nongaming may be Twitch’s number two category in 2020.

Several observations:

  1. Microsoft and the GOOG are working hard to poach gamers from Twitch. This seems like a contentious issue for Amazon, and it will be interesting to see how the Bezos legal eagles respond to the talent drain. Maybe terminate their Prime accounts?
  2. The surge in Just Chatting viewing points to Twitch becoming the go to source for in real life streaming programs. Most programs are experimental, but a few of them – for example, BadBunny and the Raj thing – are starting to develop into a shotgun marriage of radio talk, live listener feedback, and visual content.
  3. Traditional content producers like the people who create TV game shows and wanna bes like Apple and Netflix, look a bit old fashioned when compared to content generated by Awkwards_Travel, who may be the future of travel information.

There are downsides. If you are interested in our Amazon briefing which expands on the Twitch innovations and their downside, write darkcyber333 at yandex dot com.

Net net: Twitch started with egames, but it is now on a path to create something which complements games and creates a fresh approach to video.

Stephen E Arnold, January 14, 2020

Free and Legal Movies Online

January 9, 2020

We have found a handy resource—Fossbytes lists “20 Free Movie Download Sites for 2020 [Legal Streaming].” It can be difficult to pick out the legit sites from the illegal sources in search results, and I’m sure all our gentle readers prefer to be on the up-and-up. While he is at it, writer Adarsh Verma links to his publication’s lists of free and legal music downloads and sports streaming, as well.

Verma provides a screenshot from each site and a paragraph or two describing its content. You may want to bookmark it so you can take your time exploring all 20 options. Some entries, like Netflix and Hulu, are only free for the extent of their trial periods. Still, one could get some mileage out of that. Several fill very specific niches, like the Korean Film Archive (classic Korean films), Le CiNéMa Club (Indie films), and Open Culture (international films). Others are more general-purpose, like The Internet Archive, Pluto TV, and Vimeo.

Here is what the write-up says about one of our favorite Googley properties, YouTube:

“In an earlier version of this article, YouTube was listed a lot lower in this list. However, thanks to some recent changes and the company’s growing inclination towards free, ad-supported content, I’ve decided to list it as the #1 source of free movies on the web. Now, YouTube offers more than 100 complete feature-length films on its platform. It’s also mentioned on our latest list of best movie streaming sites. This makes YouTube a perfectly free movie website for those who can’t afford to spend a premium for accessing Netflix and Hulu content. You can simply visit this link and watch movies like Zookeeper, Legally Blonde, The Terminator, Flawless, Kung Fu Killer, IP Man, and more. Moreover, YouTube also has plans to make its original shows and movies free from 2020. It’s worth noting that these movies for streaming are currently only available in the USA.”

Some options, like YouTube, are supported by interruptive ads. Most of the sites are available anywhere in the world, though several are only available in the U.S. Check out the article for the rest of the list.

Cynthia Murrell, January 9, 2020

Trouble Ahead for Deep Fakes and Fancy Technology?

January 3, 2020

At a New Year’s get together, a person mentioned a review of the film “Cats.” I don’t go to movies, but the person’s comments intrigued me. I returned home and tracked down “How Cats Became a Box Office Catastrophe.”

I noted one sentence in the write which was:

We probably don’t need to remind you of the backlash the internet unleashed upon Cats the moment the Cats trailer dropped. Viewers gasped in horror as Universal’s vision of adding cat fur and features to the proportions of a human body was finally revealed. It was uncomfortable to look at, a clear example of the uncanny valley, where viewers are unsettled by artificially constructed beings that are just shy of realism.

The write then added:

Beyond subjective opinions, critics highlighted several issues including glitchy and unpolished CGI that could have been a result of its rushed production, that took place within a single year. In contrast, this year’s photo-realistic Lion King movie began work in 2016.

Two points: Backlash for the context and the “unpolished CGI.”

What happens when the rough hewn nature of other fantastical technology, swathed in investor hype and marketers’ misrepresentations, is understood?

Exciting for some in 2020.

Stephen E Arnold, January 3, 2020

Another Google Gaffe?

December 30, 2019

Censorship is an intriguing job. A human — chock full of failings — has to figure out if an object is offensive, defensive, or maybe-sive.

If true, the BBC story “YouTube Admits Error over Bitcoin Video Purge” documents a misstep. DarkCyber loves the GOOG, and the research team doubts any anecdote suggesting a Google gaffe took place. For example:

Many video-makers have complained that YouTube’s current systems let so-called “copyright trolls” make false claims on their videos, while its automated detection tools often fail to understand when material has been legally used.

The BBC reports:

YouTube said in a statement that it had “made the wrong call” and confirmed that any content mistakenly removed would be restored. “With the massive volume of videos on our site, sometimes we make the wrong call,” it said.”When it’s brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it.” It said there had been no changes to its polices, and insisted there would be “no penalty” to any channels that were affected by the incident.

I liked the idea that Googzilla is an it, very 2020. And the individuals who depend on YouTube for some money.

Yeah, well, you know, err.

Stephen E Arnold, December 30, 2019

YouTube Supplied Music Leads To Massive Video Demonetization

December 10, 2019

YouTube cheats its content creators. The video sharing platform is constantly changing its rules, demonetizing videos without notice, and deleting videos for “offensive” content. YouTube claims it loves its creators and offers tools and services for assistance. One of these services is offering royalty free music for videos, but content creators beware of video platforms offering free music. Torrent Freak reports on how, “‘Royalty Free’ Music Supplied By YouTube Results In Mass Video Demonetization.”

Matt Lowne is a popular game streaming YouTuber, think Pewdiepie except he only has 56 million views. To avoid copyright strikes which lead to demonetization, YouTubers avoid copyrighted content such as music and video clips. Lowne used a track called “Dreams” by Joakim Kraud from YouTube’s audio library for his video introductions. Lowne posted a video, then he was barraged with emails stating that he used SonyATV, PeerMusic, Warner Chappell, LatinAutor, and Audiam material.

Now all of Lowne’s profit from ads are split between the claimant companies and he gets the crumbs. Composer Joakim Karud allows anyone to use his music royalty free which makes him a popular artist on YouTube. Lowne filed a claim to contest the copyright violation, but he only did it for one of his videos. If he filed a claim on every one of his videos, he could get three strikes and be suspended indefinitely from YouTube. Lowne is not the only YouTuber with this problem and the companies filing the copyright claim may have legitimate grounds:

“Sure enough, if one turns to the WhoSampled archive, Dreams is listed as having sampled Weaver of Dreams, a track from 1956 to which Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC and Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. own the copyrights. If the trend of claims against ‘Dreams’ continues, there is potential for huge upheaval on YouTube and elsewhere. Countless thousands of videos use the track and as a result it has become very well-known.”

To make matters even worse, YouTube issued an authorized statement that said “Dreams” was never listed in its official audio library. “Dreams” was listed as a royalty free music on an unofficial channel that claimed to be the YouTube audio library. Oh boy! It is even more important to double check if music is royalty free. Maybe it would be better to use music in the public domain or hire someone to compose original music?

Whitney Grace, December 10, 2019

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