News Of The Day 2/18/2011

Wisconsin and Apple in battle (separately) – along with Thor. Gawker redesign creates angst. Lots of conflicts these days in geek news!

Are we headed to a Subscription-based economy? Some interesting thoughts here to help you think – and with some ideas on what a subscription could be (namely a spur to innovation).

All eyes are on Wisconsin which is the site of a growing backlash against some austerity programs, most involving state unions. The latest blog-roundup is here. This is going to have a lot of effects, from how states handle budget crises real and imagined, to the economic impacts of those decisions, to studies of the sociology and technology (of course Egypt is being brought up during all of this). I myself haven't seen anything like this since the whole Tea Party thing got kicked off.

Geek Law:
Did you know about Google's legal battle with Rosetta Stone? Or the documents it doesn't want unsealed? I didn't. Very interesting.

People want to have a statue of Robocop in downtown Detroit. Obviously there is mixed feeling on this, but I say it's very geeky. In fact, despite its gore and mayhem, I thought the first two Robocop films were actually positive in a twisted way – about teamwork, law, what being human means, and about courage. You could do a lot worse – and maybe a reminder of badass courage would be a boost.

Net Neutrality:
The crazy continues. The US House of Representatives passed an amendment to prevent the FCC from using its funding to enforce net neutrality rules from last year. I expect it to get rejected in Senate, but it's a reminder of how wacky politics can get – and wacky is a bad thing when it comes to issues of technology and communication. Keep this in mind job-wise; the Net Neutrality issue is going to get punted around for a few years, and what happens with it can affect your job and career (disclaimer; I'm very pro Net Neutrality as I want as few restrictions on communication as possible).

Interesting news in the ever-failing world of anime adatons: Steve Kloves is helping polish the 'Akira' script. As he had the impossible job of script work in the fifth Harry Potter film, he's probably up for the challenge. Still waiting for that big adaption hit . . .

Well it seems Apple is in the news enough lately that they need their own section now and then.

The Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission are looking at Apple's new content subscription policies. Remember this is happening in the EU as well, so that's attention on both sides of the pond for the Big Ecosystem Company. I expect Apple will back down at some point – they have before – but the issues on how to handle subscriptions will linger for all App Stores. You're in the spotlight Apple, as you've never been before . . .

On the other side, Apple wants to change the purchasing window to reduce abuse of virtual good purchases. A thought-provoker here about how the convenience of app stores an online purchases can be too easy. Expect issues of ease-of-purchase to pop up now that App Stores are everywhere.

Confessions of an Apple Store Employee is making the rounds, and I wanted to share it. It's actually pretty interesting and there's some things I didn't expect – it's really not a typical retail environment – I can see why some people would hate it, and some thrive in it.

For me, the second 'Thor' trailer pushes ALL the right buttons that make me think we've got a big success. Humor? Check. Over-the-top Thor? Check. Romance? Check. Action? Check. Thor discovering pop-tarts and coffee? TOTAL AWESOME. If the move is as good as the trailer (laughtrack) then I smell huge hit – and a crossover hit as it has so many elements.

We have our Wonder Woman, Adrianne Palicki. No reflection on Miss Palicki (who I understand is quite good), but the show does not sound promising. Maybe she can help save it, but I'm not getting my hopes up. If this crashes (as I expect), it'll put the property in multimedia hiatus for another five-ten years.

'Fables' and 'Walking Dead' to get DLC games from Telltale, which has a good pedigree. More comic/multimedia synergy (and Fables may get a TV series, which fits it well into the recent spate of fairy-tale and fantastical re-interpretations).

The Gawker redesign was a serious hit to traffic. This was all over the net so I didn't really think to cover it (it was even in Penny Arcade). It was a big hit to traffic, and is a good lesson that slick redesigns may still not work for an audience. As Kotaku,ion, and Gawker are part of OUR daily news checks here, I found the changes irritating and stuck with feeds and mobile sites.

Get a gander at Disney Interactive's Turnaround Plan. Nothing really shocking here, but you get a sense of the integrated picture.

Oh, gods. MGM wants to reboot five films. Mr. Mom, Robocop (OK guys, hold off on that statue), The Idolmaker, Poltergeist, and . . . Hercules? I'm not getting the reasons for many of these, and Hercules sounds like it's got 300-envy written all over it. Come on, if you're gonna do the Herc, go to the fun-fests of the Sorbo and Reeves eras. The era of remakes continue, and this is pretty dumb – I sense potential backfire.

OK this came out of nowhere (read: I was unaware). LightSquared gets over a half billion dollar loan to build a 4G network. Yes, that much money. Yes they're competing with the big boys like Verizon. They're even getting involved in satellite bids. OK, they have a TON of money and a load of ambition, people – que up the resumes, someone's gotta help them spend that cash and built that dream. If they succeed it'll add more carriers to the mix, and might be used as a prototype of how similar companies can come about despite well-established competition.

Short but through-provoking article on better devices and the future of print.

Social Media:
Twitter shut down three applications that violated their terms of service – UberMedia (who just raised $17.5 million), twidroyd, and UberCurrent. As UberMedia got Tweetdeck (which I use), I'm curious to see where this ends up. But this is also a lot of suspensions, and shows the power Twitter has.

Lenovo has its own Tablet coming and will release it in China first (interesting), which suggests to me some of China's tech culture may leapfrog the laptop move and go straight into tablets – if this works.

Some thoughts on social search and Google's changes. Makes the very good point that most of our searches are not necessarily something we can do with our social networks.

Firefly will be rebroadcast on cable and people are hoping it can be saved. I was never into it, but appreciated it in many ways, including the exceptional cast.  I understand a charity is coming together to help it get bought . . .

Video Games:
Nice Promotional: Bioware will provide in-game items for Dragon Age II – if one million people download the demo.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Is Apple ready to be this far in the spotlight?

– Steven Savage