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E.B.

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Social media often functions, wittingly or unwittingly, as a major form of advertising.  When users post pictures of themselves drinking Pepsi, they are unwittingly promoting it. Given the incredible amounts of time that millions of people spend on social media, it makes sense that companies would be looking to social media for predicable, controlled advertising solutions. To that end the NFL recently announced a new collaboration with TikTok, a social media service owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. The NFL hopes that TikTok will help to get popularity points with its generation z users given that it was the third most downloaded application in the US during the first quarter of this year. The need comes after Morning Consult data showed that football is losing popularity among younger people – TikTok’s audience – because they’re watching less TV and they’re playing less football because of head injury concerns. The NFL is going where their future audience is to drive them back into the fold. Adapt or die.
Motion picture entertainment is always shifting. It went from theaters to TV to cable and now to digital streaming.  Each change has given consumers’ new advantages. The latest, streaming services, offer users the ultimate flexibility to watch movies when and where they want. Major entertainment distributors are taking note and adjusting accordingly. HBO Now is a streaming service of the cable channel.  Disney Plus is a streaming service that allows an entertainment conglomerate to control content from all its subsidiaries and CBS All Access is a streaming service for a traditional TV network.

Monthly Plan Prices

  • HBO Now | $14.99
  • Netflix HD Quality Plan | $12.99
  • Disney Plus | $12.99
  • Hulu (without ads) | $11.99
  • Showtime | $10.99
  • Prime Video only | $8.99
  • Hulu (with ads) | $5.99
  • CBS All Access | $5.99

Movie Selection

  • Prime Video | 14,210
  • Netflix | 3,803
  • Hulu | 1,437
  • HBO | 926
  • Showtime | 489

TV Offerings

  • Prime Video | 2,317
  • Netflix | 1,966
  • Hulu | 1,931
  • HBO | 189
  • Showtime | 70
Quantity doesn’t always mean quality.  Just because Prime Video has the most movies and TV shows does not mean it has the best titles. Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are nearly equal when it comes to the number of “high quality” movies offered as defined by Reelgood – a “high quality” movie as has an IMDB rating of 7.5 or higher.

High Quality Movies

  • Prime Video | 125
  • Netflix | 124
  • Hulu | 52
  • HBO | 32
  • Showtime | 32
With this information, you can make an informed decision about where to spend your entertainment dollars.
Internet security in the world of social media is a huge issue. The social media giants are trying to develop the best methods for making their services safe for users. Most notably, Twitter announced that it is suspending its text messaging service to prevent hackers from taking over an innocent party’s account because of two eye-catching intrusions.  News about the suspension came last Wednesday, shortly after hackers briefly hacked actress Chloe Grace Moretz’s account. Infiltrators tweeted several insane news posts including one that began with a series of memes featuring an obese Bugs Bunny. Twitter temporarily disabled the tweeting feature via SMS or text message to protect her account. This came a week after the hack that really got the company’s attention, the one in which Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey’s account was hijacked.  In his case the hackers took the opportunity to convey racist and misogynistic comments to his four million followers. Both accounts were restored shortly after the errant tweets were deleted. Twitter explained that the phone number associated with the accounts had been compromised due to a security check by a mobile service provider.  It turns out that Twitter’s SMS feature allows users, whose phone number is linked to an account, to post tweets by sending a text message to a code associated with their mobile service provider. This allows hackers, who have successfully stolen numbers from a wireless service provider, to send tweets by text message from the compromised phone number. According to Twitter, the security team is working to secure the feature and re-enable it as soon as it’s safe. In light of these public embarrassments, Twitter has recently introduced a number of new tools intended to make the platform more secure; these include a new filter that sorts messages that may contain offensive content into a separate inbox and a new moderation policy to examine posts that are reported to the platform for targeting specific religious groups. These big name hacks and the $170 million fine imposed on Google for failing to protect the privacy of children has awakened many tech giants to the understanding that user safety is essential to their bottom line.
Hurricane Dorian hit The Bahamas hard last weekend killing at least seven people at last count.  The Prime Minister described the category five storm that stalled over the islands for more than 50 hours as the worst storm to ever hit his country.  Dramatic rescue efforts are underway due to massive flooding and destruction. As the hurricane finally moved westward passed the islands, toward the US, it was downgraded from a category five to a category three storm. Still a powerhouse, preparations for Dorian’s arrival are being made on the East coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in anticipation of a storm track that’s expected to bend northward as it approaches Florida.  Even the Orlando resorts, on Florida’s West coast, are closing down as is Orlando’s Airport.  The governors of Georgia and South Carolina have ordered over a million people to evacuate the coastal areas. Already 1.5 million people have fled for safety. In Florida, the evacuation orders are for low-lying areas, flood prone areas and mobile homes. Dorian will make a very long week for the American Southeast.

September is big video game release month – sports games, especially, release in time to take advantage of the beginning of the football, basketball and hockey seasons.  But there are many video games for every interest.  Here’s a quick list of what’s coming out this month.

September 3rd

  • Catherine: Full Body (PS4)
  • Children of Morta (PC)
  • Final Fantasy VIII Remastered (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)
  • Last Oasis (PC)
  • Spyro Reignited Trilogy (PC, Switch)
  • Torchlight II (PS4, Switch, Xbox One

September 6th

  • Monster Hunter World: Iceborne (PS4, Xbox One)
  • NBA 2K20 (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC, Stadia)

September 10th

  • Caravan Stories (PS4)
  • eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Gears 5 (Xbox One, PC) Note: Early release for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers.
  • Greedfall
  • Utawarerumonou Zan (PS4)

September 13th

  • Borderlands 3 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Daemon X Machnina (Switch)
  • NHL 20 (PS4, Xbox One)

September 17th

  • AI: The Somnium Files (PS4, Switch, PC)
  • Lego Jurassic World (Switch)

September 20th

  • The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)
  • Untitled Goose Game (Switch, PC)
  • Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (Switch)
  • Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered (PS4, PC)

September 24th

  • Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
  • Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear (PS4, Switch, Xbox One
  • Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
  • Contra: Rogue Corps (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)
  • Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
  • Planescape Torment: Enhanced Edition (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
  • The Surge 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

September 25th

  • Mario Kart Tour (iOS, Android)

September 26th

  • Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition (Switch)
  • Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX (PS4, Switch, PC)
  • Ys IX: Monstrum Nox (PS4 – Japan only)

September 27th

  • Code Vein (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age (Switch)
  • FIFA 20 (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)
  • Memorrha (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC, Mac)
  • Ori and the Blind Forest (Switch)
  • Tropico 6 (PS4, Xbox One)

Ariana Grande is suing fashion retailer Forever 21 for $10 million.  Her accusation is that Forever 21 has stolen Grande’s “name, likeness and other intellectual property.”   This comes after Forever 21 has tried to reach an endorsement deal with Grande, who deemed the deal not good enough. Grande also claims the company hired a look-alike model to wear sports clothes and accessories that appear just like those worn by Grande in her videos. A Forever 21 spokesperson said that the company will dispute the lawsuit, but because the company is still after an agreement with the pop star, they also added they’re huge supporters of her.

Actor Kristen Stewart (famous from the Twilight series) has faced pressure to hide her lesbian identity in order to advance her career. Stewart has said that after she broke up with co-star Robert Patterson, she wanted to focus on enjoying life rather than protecting it, an attitude that allowed her to be open about her sexuality despite concerns about career implications. Stewart described her previous attitude as being old school, one focused on preserving one’s career, success and productivity to the detriment of happiness. A turning point may have come when someone in Hollywood asked her to not hold her girlfriend’s hand when going into a Marvel movie. What does this story tell us about the culture of Hollywood?  Perhaps, it’s reflects an ambivalent American culture on social tolerance.
Lot’s of tennis drama has unfolded at the US Open. This year it’s Spanish tennis great Rafael Nadal’s defense of Novak Djokovic, who was booed by the crowd in his final match. Though Nadal and Djokovic have been tennis rivals, it was Nadal who came to Djokovic’s defense saying he’s “a super athlete” who doesn’t deserve to be booed.  Djokovic’s career is ending because of a shoulder injury he sustained while playing Stan Wawrinka at the US Open. Nadal used the tremendous respect he has earned from US Open fans over the years to express his gentlemanly respect for a rival. Novak Djokovic does not have the best of relationships with crowds. In the past he has sworn at a crowd and threatened to go after a spectator during a practice session. Although, Djokovic later claimed he was only going to hunt him down to buy him a drink. Djokovic is only the latest feisty tennis star. Russian tennis star, Daniil Medvedev is another current player with a dicey reputation and then there is beloved, but temperamental John McEnroe.  All of this brings to mind a single question, is tennis actually a bad boy sport?  Probably not.  Of all the players who have risen to tennis fame, only few have behavior as part of their story.

Recommendation systems – the systems that help services from Amazon to Netflix suggest things you would might like based on your past choices – have a bias problem that is largely because the data comes from users who put their biases into action when interacting with streaming technology. To combat it, more than a decade ago, Netflix announced The Netflix Prize to attract scientists and programmers to write predictive algorithms with the goal of making the company’s recommendation engine 10% more accurate.  The winning prize was $1 million. Team Belkor was the winner due to their inclusion of new factors that recognized a film’s popularity might change over time and that users have certain biases causing them to rate movies differently at different times. The frequency at which people rate movies was also added as a factor. Addressing bias issues to make recommendations better will continue to be a major goal for many in the tech world as it has since The Netflix Prize was awarded.

Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, including good things like stunning movies on Netflix. September will see several great movies leave the service. Here’s a quick list of five great films to check out before they disappear.

1. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

The futuristic, dystopian crime film.  

2. The Fast and the Furious (2001)

About an LA cop struggling with his loyalties when he encounters the world of street racing.

3. Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

  A humorous, high-quality musical which follows a murderous London hair cutter.

4. The Dark Night (2008)

 A Joker centered movie about Batman’s worst enemy.

5. Carol (2015)

  Already classic drama about an aspiring photographer’s relationship with an older woman.