December 5, 2022

Snippet: HBO Max/Discovery+ Combination May Just Be Called ‘Max’ ☍

Alex Sherman & Lillian Rizzo for CNBC:

The merged platform’s expected name, “Max,” is being vetted by the company’s lawyers, according to people familiar with the matter.

Executives haven’t finalized a decision and the name could still be changed, but Max is the likely choice, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. Some senior executives are still debating a final name, said two of the people. Internally, Warner Bros. Discovery has given the new service a code name of “BEAM” while a final name is being debated, said the people. Lawyers are vetting other names, as well.

The app itself will share similarities with Disney+’s platform, with Warner Bros. Discovery’s brands as individual tiles, the people said. HBO, Discovery, DC Comics and Warner Bros. will be among the landing hubs on the platform, the people added. […]

Chief Executive David Zaslav has cut back on HBO Max original series spending, which has helped reform HBO’s branding. Still, HBO has a limited audience that’s largely U.S. based, and the streaming service will offer much more than HBO — including reality TV from Discovery, news documentaries from CNN, movies from Warner Bros., kids programming, and possibly, eventually, live sports. Zaslav and his team see the value in making HBO a sub-brand within the larger streaming offering, said people familiar with their thinking.

Maybe I’m being negative, but I’m not looking forward to the end result of all of this. When HBO Max launched, I thought it had excellent content, albeit with a sometimes buggy app. Nonetheless, the mix of legacy HBO shows and some good-but-niche Max Originals created a really nice mix of content for people who gave a damn about television. Potentially, I saw it becoming a higher-brow Netflix. Instead, due to AT&T’s ineptitude, it was unloaded with a lot of debt to Discovery, Inc., creating two libraries of content that typically have vastly different audiences. In the mad scramble to be profitable, it seems the cheap-to-produce reality nonsense that has become Discovery’s signature content will probably come at the expense of a lot of the thoughtful, more expensive HBO and Max Originals content.

I also wonder if we’ll see price hikes due to the “value add” of combined content libraries that no one asked for (Discovery+ customers pay $4.99/month, while HBO Max customers pay $9.99 or $14.99/month). At that point, with all the forced bundling, one wonders if we’re just going to end up back with cable, but in a different form. Nonetheless, whatever negatives happen to HBO Max, it’s yet another promising streaming service that AT&T fumbled.

December 2, 2022

Snippet: Smart Move, Google ☍

Garrit Franke (via John Gruber):

Yesterday I was asked to allow the usage of location services for Google Maps seemingly out of nowhere. Of course I accepted. After all, I just wanted to check a route to a local business and I was in a hurry. Back home I opened Google Maps again, and noticed that maps.google.com now redirects to google.com/maps. This implies that the permissions I give to Google Maps now apply to all of Googles services hosted under this domain. So far I only identified Google Flights to have made the same switch (google.com/flights), though I’m sure they’re just beginning to transfer their services to the main google.com domain.

Congratulations, you now have permission to geo-track me across all of your services.

Cool.

December 1, 2022

Snippet: Anker’s Eufy Lied to Us About the Security of its Security Cameras ☍

Sean Hollister for The Verge:

Anker has built a remarkable reputation for quality over the past decade, building its phone charger business into an empire spanning all sorts of portable electronics — including the Eufy home security cameras we’ve recommended over the years. Eufy’s commitment to privacy is remarkable: it promises your data will be stored locally, that it “never leaves the safety of your home,” that its footage only gets transmitted with “end-to-end” military-grade encryption, and that it will only send that footage “straight to your phone.”

So you can imagine our surprise to learn you can stream video from a Eufy camera, from the other side of the country, with no encryption at all.

Worse, it’s not yet clear how widespread this might be — because instead of addressing it head-on, the company falsely claimed to The Verge that it wasn’t even possible.

As someone who picked up a couple of Eufy cameras due to their offline nature and HomeKit integration, I’m more than a little frustrated. It’s really hard to get excited about any new technology when inevitably you’ll be let down and typically it’s not due to performance, but privacy issues, ineptitude, or creepy nonsense.

November 29, 2022

Snippet: Josh Centers: So Long and Thanks for All the Fish ☍

Josh Centers in his farewell piece for TidBITS:

Many years ago, I was working a fairly normal, boring desk job with a long, stressful commute, and one of the ways I stayed sane was by listening to tech podcasts. I’d listen to TWiT, John Gruber’s The Talk Show, Mac Power Users, and all of that. On work breaks, I’d catch up on the latest tech news, especially whatever was coming out of Apple.

I developed a distant dream of becoming one of those Apple media people. Being published in Macworld magazine. Making the front page of Daring Fireball. Being interviewed on Mac Power Users. Maybe even publishing a book.

What a pleasant tale of hard work, passion, and a bit of luck—I hope Josh’s new role is as fulfilling as he hopes.

November 27, 2022

Snippet: Twitter, Failure Modes, and Your Favorite Bar ☍

Watts Martin:

But for many people, the real issue isn’t what’s wrong with the other places. It’s that they love this place. Twitter, for all its faults, for all the love/hate relationship you have with it—it’s your favorite bar. This is what most indie creators are feeling, I think. None of the other services have the audience reach; it’s unrealistic to expect us to be on a half-dozen new sites when we could just stay put; and, hey, the likelihood of Twitter really exploding is pretty low. All of those are true, too.

I think the “favorite bar” analogy is apt in that it’s often what you make of it, there are bound to be some jerks that you can typically avoid most of the time, and it’s a great hangout spot for your usual acquaintances. For me, all of the “Twitter replacements” have been nice, but it’s not my bar. Then again, Twitter isn’t either anymore.

I get that, right now, it’s still easy to rationalize staying on Twitter. The alternatives are too confusing, or have questionable terms of service, or don’t have a registered DMCA agent, or have a crappy official app, or have a crappy web interface, or just seem like they’re run out of a college dorm room. We can go down the list and acknowledge most or all of those are great points.

But your favorite bar is under new management, and whether you want to admit it or not, you know damn well what kind of bar they’re making it into. You need to think long and hard about whether you’re okay with that.

Funny enough, I feel like there’s a lot of unsorted grief from a lot of us who enjoyed Twitter from way back, typically using third-party clients and following people instead of trends or suggestions. While it’s not closed yet, it’s also not the same as it was a month ago. That happened with a favorite bar when I was in college—new ownership took over and everything went downhill fast. We eventually found new places, but still lament what used to be. The shell of itself closed shortly after, confirming that things were on borrowed time.