Sunday, September 12, 2010

Censorship in the US

What do Rackspace and Medal of Honor have in common?

These are big enough stories that you probably do know what they have in common. While this topic is a bit more political than I like to get, they're probably the biggest things to get noticed last week.

Medal of Honor, which I played at PAX and was quite fun, has been getting a lot of attention for the ability to play as the Taliban. This is only in multiplayer so it's not like you play a single player campaign trying to bomb an American landmark or something, but has ruffled quite a few feathers. It's been banned from American military bases, in fact. This strikes me as especially ironic because these guys go out and fight to preserve our freedom and for the freedom of others - whether you politically agree with what they've been sent to do or not, they serve their country with honor and believe in this freedom. Yet, they don't get the freedom to play this game. I know you give up some rights when you're on a military base, I totally understand that, but they might as well start outlawing war movies, right? How is that different from a game? An immersive movie can be just as powerful as a video game. Video games are an artform and should not be considered a second class citizen in today's media, it's not fair. I applaud EA for sticking to their guns. You can play as the Axis Powers in World War 2 games and you see things from Hitler's side in the movie Downfall, so why is it so wrong to play a game with the Taliban? It's not my cup of tea, but this clamoring for stores to not sell it is effectively censoring freedom of speech for EA, and it's not right.

In a totally different arena, Rackspace has denied service to a church that was planning to burn copies for the Koran. At first reaction, I'm totally with you: burning Korans is hateful and terrible. And yet, the right to peacefully assembly is what America is all about. Who is Rackspace to judge this church? I can appreciate the right of a business to refuse service to anyone, but being a service provider as Rackspace is, they're in a unique position. They may not be the only game in town, but they shut off this church's primary voice to the world. Imagine if Wal-marts started refusing service to Catholics because they don't believe in the death penalty. How different is that from this situation? In some places, Wal-mart is the primary source of a lot of random stuff, much like service providers like Rackspace. Their power is larger than that of a lot of companies because of this.

Maybe I've opened up a can of worms here, but I just believe in freedom of speech. Call me a wide-eyed optimist if you want, but I love this country and stories like this kind of suck.

G2 and Milestone 2 Announced

The cell phone is taking a cue from the movie industry with all these sequels they're coming out with. Motorola's Milestone 2 is a slick-looking slider phone that looks to be targeted more towards Europe and will be released there this fall. Of more interest to us is probably the T-Mobile G2, which is the first HSPA+ (basically, T-Mobile's 4G). Apparently, it has an unusual flip keyboard of sorts. The hardware under the hood sounds pretty similar to the Milestone 2. Aren't there processors other than the Snapdragon?

In more interesting mobile news, Nokia has replaced their CEO with a Microsoft exec. I do not know why they think he'll do any better, but I guess anyone else is better with the rut that Nokia has been in. To be honest though, Nokia needs something pretty drastic to get back in the game, at this point they need to take some pretty large risks. To go from having more than half the market cornered to 34% in 4 years is pretty bleak.

Apple Changes App Store Rules

I don't fully understand this, but Apple has decided to lax their app store rules a bit by not restricting the development tools used to create iPhone apps. This has prompted Adobe to go back to work on Flash for the iPhone. This doesn't mean the browser will display Flash, only that Flash-based applications will start appearing in the app store. There's speculation that the about face was from the antitrust investigation that Adobe is said to have instigated, but the investigation hasn't stopped as a result. I'm really curious to see if this will really create many more quality iPhone apps - Flash just doesn't seem as big of a development tool as it did even 5 years ago, but it's hard to predict where developers will hang their hat. It's a very fast-changing industry.

The Rest

Alright, I have to work on a speech so it's time to wind down.

Kevin Rose spoke a bit about the Digg issues on Diggnation and it didn't help their case tremendously because it made their engineers look like they didn't prep well for the v4 upgrade. If Digg were to add a tab to also show the old Digg they'd be doing just fine right now with their users.

If you're confused between Apple TV and Google TV, this is a pretty good article breaking down how they're conceptually different products altogether. Personally, I pictured what Google TV is purported to be to be where TV was going, but I like the idea of renting shows (especially if there are marathon sales).

This seems like old news now, but GMail released Priority Inbox to all users last week (not just Google Apps users as the week before) and it's pretty sweet. I've been using it and it's the biggest improvement GMail has had probably since Google Chat.

Google also released Google Scribe to help auto-complete everything.

This is old but I forgot to cover it last week: Google posted resources online to help with teaching computer science. Very cool stuff.

Have a great week, everyone!

1 comment:


I'm glad to see someone is talking about Google TV. I work for DISH Network and subscribe to their services as well; it seems that no one really knows that we now offer Google TV through the Logitech Revue. So, if you're looking for more info or want to get Google TV for yourself you can find info on DISH's website. I have it and think it's pretty awesome. As the article you have a link to states, Google TV has apps (like Pandora and Netflix) and can be used as a web browser.