Facebook Briefly Exposes Private Chats

While Facebook is trying hard to be the one social network to rule them all with universal net features such as the “Like” button, perhaps its greatest obstacle is ongoing privacy concerns. Exacerbating the issue were reports of a new exploit that allows users to view their friends’ private chats, forcing Facebook to disable the service temporarily.

For a limited period of time, a bug permitted some users chat messages and pending friend requests to be made visible to their friends by manipulating the ‘preview my profile’ feature of Facebook privacy settings, read a statement from Facebook. When we received reports of the problem, our engineers promptly diagnosed it and temporarily disabled the chat function. We also pushed out a fix to take care of the visible friend requests which is now complete. Chat will be turned back on across the site shortly. We worked quickly to resolve this matter, ensuring that once the bug was reported to us, a solution was quickly found and implemented.

Source: TechCrunch

Twilight Saga: Eclipse and Breaking Dawn Details

The Twilight series of movies keeps on rolling along at a breakneck pace. The third movie in the series, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, will debut at an invitation-only event at the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live on June 24 with a full release coming June 30, 2010.

With the first three movies in the series having released over a 20-month span, Summit Entertainment is notably cooling their jets and the fourth movie will begin shooting in Fall 2010 with a November 18, 2011 release date, roughly 16 months after Eclipse. Bill Condon will direct the The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, meaning a different director has handled every entry of the series, and talks are still ongoing with the actors to see whether Breaking Dawn will be split into two parts.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Terminator Takes Down Apple Store

The Terminator is best known for going back in time to try and kill/protect John Connor, but this time he has a different purpose. This Terminator is apparently an agent of Microsoft sent to the Apple Store in Beijing, China. This is likely some very unique viral marketing. It’s certainly entertaining; check it out.

Machete Special Cinco de Mayo Trailer

The Arizona immigration legislation has received a lot of erudite responses from both sides of the table and this video… is not one of them. Robert Rodriguez and Danny Trejo have released a special illegal trailer for their grindhouse Mexploitation parody Machete to give us all a chuckle.

Halo 3, PS2 Online Ads Named On ‘Epic’ Ads List

Ad Freak today listed their 25 most epic ads that aren’t the famous “1984” ad by Apple. The list even includes two game ads, one called Mountain for the PS2 and the other being the Believe spots for Halo 3. We could think of a few other ads that stand out more than those honored (the Gears of War ad with Mad World, Metal Gear Solid 4‘s debut trailer) but these may not have met the criteria for what the editors were looking for.



Die Hard 5 Script Being Considered

A fifth Die Hard movie may be coming in the near future, as Skip Woods is currently in talks with Fox to write the script. Writing credits for Woods include Swordfish, Hitman, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

The latest film in the Die Hard series, Live Free or Die Hard fared quite well, despite coming a dozen years after Die Hard With a Vengeance. Star Bruce Willis has The Expendables and Red lined up for later this year, with Kane & Lynch, The Last Full Measure and possibly this next Die Hard movie on his plate afterwards.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Newsweek as an App

The world of print media is in flux, and the latest example of that fact is The Washington Post Company’s decision to sell Newsweek. Newspapers used to be reliable moneymakers, but the Internet is quickly reducing their influence, forcing the Washington Post to sell Newsweek after nearly fifty years of ownership.

But maybe, just maybe, Newsweek is the perfect lab experiment for how to re-invent a struggling print magazine in the digital age, writes Eliot Van Buskirk. On the leading edge of a tablet revolution, with one million iPads sold in less than a month, what if some bright entrepreneur decided to make Newsweek a tablet-only publication No print, no free website just a slate-driven publication that gets the same first-mover boost that online magazine Slate (also now owned by the Washington Post) received 10 years ago when it tried, albeit too soon, to charge readers a subscription fee.

While print magazines have been increasing the price of their advertisements, it hasn’t stopped magazines like Newsweek from losing tens of millions of dollars over the past few years. The established magazine property could represent a unique opportunity for some investor who thinks that tablets represent the future of magazines and might lead to some favoritism on the App store from the powers that be at Apple if things are handled well.

The challenge of going all-digital for a viable print publication is to ensure you don t lose too much revenue by substituting presumably lower-paying digital ads for print ads, notes Buskirk. Even though you re not paying for printing plants and delivery trucks, you need enough operating income to cover your news-gathering needs, so print properties that are essentially healthy despite the strong digital readership trend are not inclined to tweak their models too drastically.

Despite its hardships, Newsweek still counts many veteran writers, editors and photographers among its staff and a readership that saw 1.5 million copies of the magazine printed each issue. The magazine’s approach of writing about the week that was could be turned around well in the reactive bloggosphere of news, and is extra tempting considering the pricetag for Newsweek could be $2 million or less.

Granted, these days, there s not much use for Newsweek s ‘news in review’ section; it could accomplish the same with a simple list of links to the top stories floating around the web. However, by ramping up the publication s analysis and opinion pieces, the new ‘Newsweek for iPad’ could seize an early advantage on the tablet as a blog-cum-periodical with the sizzle of HuffPo and The Daily Beast, and the branding of, well, Newsweek, details Buskirk. WaPoCo hopes to complete a sale in the next few months, but chairman Don Graham told staff, ‘There s no secret buyer waiting in the wings.’ So the field is wide open. Anyone got a few million to spare Newsweek is ripe for the app-ing.

Source: Wired

Google Refreshes Design

Google today unveiled some changes to their search engine. These changes include a slightly different logo and a new sidebar filled with extra options designed to narrow search patterns.

“Hopefully the search task shines and people don’t think about the design too much,” said Jon Wiley, a Google Senior User Experience Designer. “Sure, if you have them side by side you can probably pick things out, but overall it s a refined improvement. It s a refresh.”

Changes include the addition of results from Twitter along with ad links. Searches have also been streamlined to show appropriate options as time goes on and the visual design has been made even simpler with clean lines and an eliminated search button.

“We tested the interface with thousands of Google employees,” said Wiley. “They said, ‘The blue button has got to go.'”

Google’s search engine has long had a streamlined and functional look, and that was the biggest challenge for the company in this latest update. “As we ve been exploring all the ways together these things to create a unified experience and create a coherent around search, we keep pushing changes and adding features and capabilities,” he said.

Source: NPR

The Agency Sneaks Onto Facebook

Social networks seem like an intuitive way for MMO titles to market themselves, given their inherent online social nature. Appropriately, SOE Tucson has launched The Agency: Covert Ops, a Facebook game tied to the massively multiplayer shooter The Agency set to release for the PS3 and PC.

In the company’s first social media action game, you ll find yourself running covert missions, building a network of operatives, customizing your character and your agency s headquarters, mastering highly replay-able mini-games, upgrading your agent with gadgets and weapons and more, writes Barb Dybwad. You can enlist a mix of stylish non-player characters and your real Facebook friends to engage in group missions, and share accomplishments and creative avatars and HQs on your Facebook wall.

The SOE Tucson team hopes to bring a higher production value to The Agency: Covert Ops than most Facebook titles. The developers are also working with The Agency developers in Seattle to make sure that art design and elements of the world are consistent.

With much emphasis on customization both for one’s avatar and Agency headquarters, the game gives players a ton of options for personal expression, says Dybwad. From clothes and even tattoos for characters and a seemingly endless array of objects befitting a super swank spy pad (Hint: You’ll have no shortage of hot tub options), players will be able to make the world their own well beyond simply selecting one of the five available character classes at the beginning of the game.

The game features a storyline that can be completed by doing mini-games. Players can upgrade their equipment and their statistics as they go along, giving the experience a spy-thriller feel.

In addition, the team plans to continually add new content to Covert Ops, from new missions and mini-games to new weapons, objects, and geographic regions within the game, details Dybwad. And while the team can t divulge too many details just yet about how exactly the Facebook-flavored counterpart of The Agency will tie back into the console and PC MMO still on the way, you should expect the advancements and achievements you make in Covert Ops to benefit your gameplay in the action title and vice versa.

Source: Mashable

Google Invests In Addressable TV Ad Firm

Google confirmed today that it lead a $23 million round of financing for Invidi. Google has sold TV ads for a few years, which makes Invidi’s specialty in systems that enable TV ad sellers to distribute ads to select groups of viewers that much more appealing.

“Google and GroupM share our vision that addressability will transform television advertising by increasing effectiveness and eliminating wasted reach,” said Invidi CEO David Downey. “They want to play an active role in shaping this revolution.”

As a result of this investment, Google and Invidi will work on “unspecified projects of mutual interest.” Also, director of product management for Google TV Ads and YouTube Ads Shishir Mehrotra has joined Invidi’s board of directors.

“Invidi Technologies is actively advancing the growth of addressable technologies, which brings more relevance to TV viewership and advertising,” Mehrotra said. “We’re happy to join Invidi’s investors, and we’re looking forward to seeing continued progress in this space.”