Epic Games Asks Judge to Return Fortnite to Apple’s App Store



There is a battle brewing between Epic Games and Apple. It started when Epic Games created a direct payment option in which Epic Games lowered the prices for consumers who used it. In short, the direct payment option could be seen as a way for Epic Games to get around the 30% payment the company collects from consumer payments made in apps like Fortnite.

Apple responded by terminating the Epic Games account on the App Store, The Verge reported. If you had Fortnite or Infinity Blade on your iPhone or iPad… well, you don’t have them anymore.

On September 5, 2020, the Epic Games Newsroom Twitter account tweeted:

Today we asked the Court to stop Apple’s retaliation against Epic for daring to challenge its unlawful restrictions while our antitrust case proceeds. This is a necessary step to free consumers and developers from Apple’s costly, anti-competitive control.

The tweet included a link of a PDF of Epic’s most recent legal request.

Previously, Epic filed a lawsuit against Apple. Bloomberg reported that U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that Apple did not have to immediately reinstate Fortnite on its App Store. She also granted a temporary order blocking Apple from limiting game developer’s ability to access the Epic Games Unreal Engine.

The judge ruled that Epic’s problem is “entirely self-inflicted”, and that the sensible way to proceed would be for Epic Games to comply with the App Store guidelines and continue to operate as the case proceeds.

There is a difference between Epic’s new request and the previous one. The Verge reported that Epic claims that “Daily active users on iOS have declined by over 60% since Fortnite’s removal from the App Store”. Epic also said that iOS is the biggest platform for Fortnite, and that 63% of Fortnite users on iOS access the game only on iOS.

It remains to be seen what happens next. One thing is for certain. This back-and-forth between Apple and Epic Games is unlikely to come to a resolution that makes both companies happy. I think what it comes down to is whether a judge sees Epic’s loss of customers on iOS as self inflicted or as something caused by Apple.


Facebook Won’t Accept Political Ads in Week Before the Election



Facebook announced some steps it is taking to help secure the integrity of the US elections. According to Facebook, these steps are to encourage voting, connect people to authoritative information, and reduce the risk of post-election confusion.

Mark Zuckerberg made a lengthy post on Facebook about this. Here is a small portion of it:

The US elections are just two months away, and with Covid-19 affecting communities across the country, I’m concerned about the challenges people could face when voting. I’m also worried that with our nation so divided and election results potentially taking days or even weeks to be finalized, there could be an increased risk of civil unrest across the country…

Here’s what Facebook plans to do:

  • We won’t accept new political ads in the week before the election.
  • We’ll remove posts that claim that people will get COVID-19 if they take part in voting, and we’ll attach a link to authoritative information about the coronavirus to posts that might use COVID-19 to discourage voting.
  • We will attach an informational label to content that seeks to delegitimize the outcome of the election or discuss the legitimacy of voting methods, for example, by claiming that lawful methods of voting will lead to fraud.
  • If any candidate or campaign tries to declare victory before the final results are in, we’ll add a label to their posts directing people to official results from Reuters and the National Election Pool.

Personally, I think Facebook should have started working on that much earlier this year, previous to when the first caucuses were held. Imagine how much misinformation could have been removed – or at least labeled as such – if Facebook took this kind of action right from the start.

CNBC reported that Facebook users will still see political ads during the week of the election. The ban only affects political ads that were submitted after October 27, 2020. Older political ads won’t be removed.

CNBC also points out that the changes will go into effect after millions have already voted. In states that allow mail-in voting and absentee voting people are expected to cast their ballots before election day. The damage from false information on Facebook will have already swayed user’s views.

Another problem is that Facebook users, including political candidates, will still be able to spread false information right up through election day. CNBC says the only posts specifically banned are ones saying that people will catch COVID-19 if they vote in person.


DoD Reaffirmed JEDI Cloud Contract to Microsoft, Amazon Complains



The ongoing drama between Amazon and the Department of Defense about the JEDI contract continues, after a pause in August. Today, the Department of Defense announced that it has re-evaluated its decision to award the JEDI Cloud to Microsoft, and reaffirmed that decision.

The Department has completed its comprehensive re-evaluation of the JEDI Cloud proposals and determined that Microsoft’s proposal continues to represent the best value to the Government. The JEDI Cloud contract is a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract that will make a full range of cloud computing services available to the DoD. While contract performance will not begin immediately due to the Preliminary Injunction Order issued by the Court of Federal Claims on February 13, 2020, DoD is eager to begin delivering this capability to our men and women in uniform.

Amazon does not appear to have accepted that outcome. The company posted a response explaining why they will continue to protest what they have described as a “politically corrupted contract award”.

Amazon feels that the review by the Department of Defense “was nothing more than a ‘do-over’ for Microsoft to fix its non-compliant proposal.” Amazon also complains that the Department of Defense cited price as a major factor in the previous decision, and Amazon feels that it offered a lower price than Microsoft did.

Personally, I doubt that Amazon’s decision to continue fighting against the Department of Defense’s choice to go with Microsoft is going to change anything. I find it incomprehensible that Amazon wants to sink more time and effort into something that is unlikely to go their way. But, this is the “hill they want to die on”, and Amazon clearly intends to keep pushing.


SpaceX 12th Starlink Launch #1473



SpaceX has conducted it’s 12th Starlink launch and is getting close to opening it’s formal beta program and hopefully I will be able to enjoy High Speed Internet at the compound. Plus some real damning information coming out of Facebook on it’s ability to curtail violence on it’s platform.

Conspiracy of the Day The Dyatlov Pass mystery

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Xiaomi Ecosystem Updates for the UK



Xiaomi launched in the UK back in November 2018 and has made considerable progress in brand recognition and product availability – I know a couple of people who have bough Mi phones or Smart Bands and say good things. Certainly there’s probably an element of benefitting from Huawei’s misfortune but I think that does a disservice to Xiaomi’s products which go from personal gadgets and personal transport to smart homes and smart phones.

Xiaomi continues to move forwards and recently revealed its plans for UK partnerships for electric scooters and smart phones, plus the availability of the latest Mi Smart Band 5. Checking out these scooters, I definitely need to get one of these in for review…

Motoring and cycling specialists Halfords will be stocking Xiaomi’s new scooters. At the top of the range is the Mi Electric Scooter Pro 2 at GB£599. This e-scooter has a range of 45 km and can reach speeds of 25 km/h (15.5 mph) with a 300 W motor, and folds up for easy storage. It’s available now from Halfords.

Also available is the Mi Electric Scooter 1S, a cheaper variant of the Pro 2 at £499, but still coming with a range of 25 km and a top speed of the 25 km/h (15.5 mph) from the 250 W motor. Both the 1S and the Pro 2 have double brakes for safety.

At the bottom of the range is the Mi Electric Scooter Essential at £399 which can cover a distance of 20 km at a speed of 20 km/h. This scooter comes with 8.5″ pneumatic tyres, E-ABS and disc brakes and will be available soon.

Please remember that currently electric scooters can only be ridden legally on private land. UK Government trials are underway using commercial rental scooters. For a bit of fun, check out this race between a Xiaomi scooter and a jet-pack. Really…a jet pack

On the phone side, Xiaomi has partnered with 3 UK to offer the Mi 10 5G and Redmi Note 9 smartphones from 28th August. These are phones at opposite ends of the handset market. The Mi 10 comes with 6.67″ 90 Hz screen with a Snapdragon 865 CPU, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB storage, 5G and a quad camera setup with a 108 MP main shooter. Photos are analysed and improved using AI to get the best possible image. Priced at £799, it’s not cheap but there’s plenty of value in the Mi 10. On contract, 3 are offering a number of deals, including some with six months half-price.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Redmi Note 9 is only £149 with a 6.53″ FHD+ screen powered by a Mediatek Helio G85. There’s an AI supported quad camera round the back, with a 48 MP primary lens, and comes with 3 GB RAM and 64 GB of storage. Again, 3 have offers on the phone if buying the phone outright isn’t your thing

Finally, the Mi Smart Band 5 has a large 1.1″ AMOLED colour display, tracks 11 different sport types and is water-resistant to 50m, which means it’s perfect for swimming. With a two week battery life and magnetic coupling, it can spend more time on the wrist and less time on the charger. Priced at only £39.95 it seems like a complete bargain!

If you want to see more on all these products, the UK launch video is on Twitter.


Facebook Introduces a Forwarding Limit on Messenger



Facebook announced that they are introducing a forwarding limit on Facebook Messenger. From now on, messages can only be forwarded to five people or groups at a time. The purpose of this limitation, according to Facebook, is slow the spread of viral misinformation and harmful content that has the potential to cause real world harm.

We want Messenger to be a safe and trustworthy platform to connect with friends and family. Earlier this year, we introduced features like safety notifications, two-factor authentication, and easier ways to block and report unwanted messages. This new feature provides yet another layer of protection by limiting the spread of viral misinformation or harmful content, and we believe it will help keep people safer online.

It is pretty obvious that viral misinformation is easily spread on social media. Topics like politics, elections, voting information, and COVID-19 tend to be cluttered with misinformation from those who want to trick people into believing something that simply isn’t true. Unfortunately, what happens on social media doesn’t always stay on social media. Those who are fooled into believing misinformation might end up harming themselves or others.

Personally, I think it is smart for Facebook to limit the reach of misinformation on Messenger with a forwarding limit of five people or groups at a time. Nobody wants to get questionable messages from strangers who clearly have an agenda they want to push. The forwarding limit should slow down those who want to spend their free time spreading misinformation. Perhaps they will give up.

That said, it would have been smarter for Facebook to crack down on the spread of misinformation much earlier than today. It is unfortunate that Facebook (and other social media sites) allowed the spread of misinformation on important topics to be shared across their platforms for so long.


No Fiber for Hong Kong #1472



Google and Facebook have been told no Fiber to Hong Kong as Hong Kong is now a national security risk with the high speed low latency connection. The US Government determined it would be to high risk to expose US traffic through Hong Kong. The big winner in this will be the Philippines and few other countries.

Conspiracy Theory #1: Mount Kailash, in Eastern Tibet

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