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LanceLetter - Cyberpunk 2077; Tough times for Google; DJI; The big hack

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LanceLetter

December 21 · Issue #210 · View online

Stuff that matters.


Composed during Winter Solstice

Cyber Punked
The most eagerly anticipated video game in a generation is looking a little bit like coal in people’s stockings. The long-delayed Cyberpunk 2077 finally shipped a few weeks ago to generally positive reviews, but there have been issues, glitches and frustration for last-gen console owners who found the game was not optimized for their systems.
I’ve never played Cyberpunk 2077, but have tracked the development of the game ever since I learned it would feature Keanu Reeves. The Internet and Movie-dom’s coolest dude is not just a cameo in the game, he’s a major character. I also like the way players could augment themselves (in all sorts of interesting ways) and, for what I heard, the massive, open-world nature of the game.
Still, we knew that developer CD Projekt, was struggling to make deadlines and, as far as I can tell, cut back on some ambitious features to secure this pre-holiday release. Now, though, it seems like they pulled it from the oven a little too early. Last week, the company admitted as much by agreeing with Sony to temporarily pull the game from the PlayStation store and even offer refunds.
Some games are just cursed or at least star crossed. I often think of Star Citizen: Squadron 42, a celebrity-laden game that has the most insane trailer, but has also been delayed for half a decade. Are some games simply too ambitious?
Google getting hammered
When you think “search,” you inevitably think “Google,” but it may have an even stronger position–and some believe monopoly–in the online advertising space. Google controls a vast majority of the ads you see running on Web sites (this position was bolstered by its acquisition of DoubleClick in 2007). The latest suit against the company claims it colluded with Facebook to keep out online advertising management competition.
This suit stood out to me from the others, most of which have claimed anti-competitive practices in the search space. I’ve always contended that Google started in a highly competitive search market and vastly outperformed everyone until most collapsed. Now there are new options like DuckDuckGo and, of course, Bing, but they still only have a fraction of the business.
However, in the advertising space this suit paints a picture of collusion that would, essentially be a crime (the current suit is civil, so no official crime has been alleged). In other words, if you want to choose one Google suit to watch, this would be the one.
Roku Nets HBOMax
I don’t know what kind of negotiations go on behind the scenes, but the delay in bringing HBOMax to the popular Roku streaming platform was a source of endless frustration in my house where we have multiple Roku TVs and streaming boxes but my HBOMax account is through Apple TV.
Ever since I started using Roku, I’ve spent less and less time on my Apple TV box, especially because Apple TV+ is available on Roku and other platforms, but we had to switch to the Apple TV for all my HBO content, included the excellent The Flight Attendant limited series.
The new Roku access (which came a month after HBOMax arrived on Amazon Fire TV systems) may mean I still need to end my account on Apple TV, unless I can get the Apple account sign in to work on Roku (so far, this has not worked).
I’m simply happy that, eventually, I get to further consolidate my growing number of streaming content providers on one platform.
Gripe
I’m not the person who binges an entire season of a show on the day it’s released. Even with episodic shows, I often fall behind. Usually, this is no big deal, but on buzzy shows like The Mandalorian, it’s a problem.
As I write this, I have yet to consume the last two episodes. At the same time, I live on social media where, even if I am careful, people are spoiling major plot points and character appearances. What I want is a social media setting that lets me filer out spoiler content. I know, that’s a lot of development for a pretty minor feature, but I bet a lot of people would support the idea.
Maybe we can start a Change.org petition (I’m only half kidding).
DJI makes the naughty list
DJI is now on the persona non-grata U.S. Commerce list. Like Huawei before it, the China-based drone company is perceived as a potential espionage threat and, more problematically, is may be a little too close to the human-rights-abusing Chinese government.
As you probably know, I’ve long been a huge fan of DJI’s drones; they’re simply the best in the business. The U.S, concern over China’s access to any company and technology that operates within its country is a legitimate concern, but I think the entanglement with these companies that have found huge success in the U.S. (TikTok, anyone?) is overstated. China is not our friend, but we do have normalized relations and we’ve been buying and using Chinese good for decades. Targeting these leading technology companies instead of leaning on the Chinese government seems like the wrong approach.
In any case, the high-flying DJI is about to get grounded.
Russia hack
You will be hearing a lot more about this massive, likely Russia-sponsored, hack of multiple government organizations and major companies. I wrote a bit about just how terrifying this hack really is.
Also, in case you missed them on Medium:
Housekeeping: I’ll be taking a short holiday break. LanceLetter returns on Jan 4 (or 5th!).
Stay Safe and Happy Holidays!
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