Sunday Movie/Serial Club : It is Time… Emissary, DS9 Season 1, Episode 1

Welcome back, Schroedinger’s Cat!:

Moving is not fun, no matter how many times I do it. Whether it is across continents and oceans, states or to the neighboring town, it never gets easier. I am so glad that the Insufferable Movie Snob kept the blog going on, posting her detailed and funny reviews. If you haven’t already checked out her reviews you should do so now. She rocks! Here is a link to her last review.

My last movie/TV review post before my brief unplanned hiatus was on Star Trek Deep Space 9. Unlike The Next Generation, aliens of DS9 were more than just obnoxious caricatures and Star Fleet officers were not always perfect. Main and recurring characters experienced growth and change. The show had strong women characters who had more to do than just look pretty. I have be re-watching DS9 since the fall and I for one would like to revisit Terak Nor more than once. It has a wealth of episodes pertinent to this moment in history that we are all a part of.

When I asked which episode you wanted me to review, these were the episodes that came up in the comments.

His Way (6.20)
Its Only a Paper Moon (7.10)
Far Beyond the Stars (6.13)
Blood Oath (2.19)
In the hands of the prophets (1.20)
A Time To Stand (6.1)
Tears of the Prophets (5.26)
Once More Unto the Breach (6.7)
In the Pale Moonlight (6.19)

Most of these episodes are in seasons 6 and 7 when DS9 reached its climax. Because of the serialized nature of the show I think it would be better to go in chronological order. So people who haven’t watched DS9 before can join in if they want to.

With that in mind, I will start at the beginning with The Emissary. I also think Duet is a must watch of the season one episodes and we can end our season one watch with In the Hands of the Prophets. If you would like me to cover any other first season DS9 episodes leave a comment.

This is a complete list of season 1 episodes. Without further ado let’s dive in and begin at the beginning.

The scene of action is Deep Space Nine, an outpost at the edge of the alpha quadrant near Bajor, a planet devastated by war and occupation by the Cardasssians . When the show begins the Cardassians have just left, or should I say wrecked the station, before leaving. Our hero, Benjamin Sisko, a commander in StarFleet is named the commanding officer of the station. Benjamin Sisko has a young son, Jake, who is none too thrilled by this transfer to the middle of nowhere, where the replicators are broken and the living quarters are missing a bed…

Click the link to read the rest!



In US, TV Watches You!

Funny title aside, this is serious:

Here’s the full Federal Trade Commission statement:

What Vizio was doing behind the TV screen

Consumers have bought more than 11 million internet-connected Vizio televisions since 2010. But according to a complaint filed by the FTC and the New Jersey Attorney General, consumers didn’t know that while they were watching their TVs, Vizio was watching them. The lawsuit challenges the company’s tracking practices and offers insights into how established consumer protection principles apply to smart technology.

Starting in 2014, Vizio made TVs that automatically tracked what consumers were watching and transmitted that data back to its servers. Vizio even retrofitted older models by installing its tracking software remotely. All of this, the FTC and AG allege, was done without clearly telling consumers or getting their consent.

What did Vizio know about what was going on in the privacy of consumers’ homes? On a second-by-second basis, Vizio collected a selection of pixels on the screen that it matched to a database of TV, movie, and commercial content. What’s more, Vizio identified viewing data from cable or broadband service providers, set-top boxes, streaming devices, DVD players, and over-the-air broadcasts. Add it all up and Vizio captured as many as 100 billion data points each day from millions of TVs.

Vizio then turned that mountain of data into cash by selling consumers’ viewing histories to advertisers and others. And let’s be clear: We’re not talking about summary information about national viewing trends. According to the complaint, Vizio got personal. The company provided consumers’ IP addresses to data aggregators, who then matched the address with an individual consumer or household. Vizio’s contracts with third parties prohibited the re-identification of consumers and households by name, but allowed a host of other personal details – for example, sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education, and home ownership.  And Vizio permitted these companies to track and target its consumers across devices.

That’s what Vizio was up to behind the screen, but what was the company telling consumers? Not much, according to the complaint.

Vizio put its tracking functionality behind a setting called “Smart Interactivity.”  But the FTC and New Jersey AG say that the generic way the company described that feature – for example, “enables program offers and suggestions” – didn’t give consumers the necessary heads-up to know that Vizio was tracking their TV’s every flicker. (Oh, and the “Smart Interactivity” feature didn’t even provide the promised “program offers and suggestions.”)

The complaint alleges that Vizio engaged in unfair trade practices that violated the FTC Act and were unconscionable under New Jersey law. The complaint also alleges that Vizio failed to adequately disclose the nature of its “Smart Interactivity” feature and misled consumers with its generic name and description.

To settle the case, Vizio has agreed to stop unauthorized tracking, to prominently disclose its TV viewing collection practices, and to get consumers’ express consent before collecting and sharing viewing information. In addition, the company must delete most of the data it collected and put a privacy program in place that evaluates Vizio’s practices and its partners. The order also includes a $1.5 million payment to the FTC and an additional civil penalty to New Jersey for a total of $2.2 million.

Here are tips smart companies take from the latest law enforcement action involving smart products, which were also discussed at the FTC’s recent Smart TV workshop.

  • Explain your data collection practices up front.  Tell consumers from the outset about the information you intend to collect. Ditch the tech talk and use easy-to-understand language. Especially when explaining new technologies or data collection people may not expect, transparency can be the key to customer loyalty.
  • Get consumers’ consent before you collect and share highly specific information about their entertainment preferences.  If consumers wouldn’t expect you to be collecting information from them, especially sensitive information, make sure they consent to what you intend to do. The best way to accomplish that is to get their opt-in to the practice – in other words, to express their consent affirmatively.
  • Make it easy for consumers to exercise options.  Would a function called “Smart Interactivity” that “enables program offers and suggestions” clue consumers in that everything they watch is being collected and shared with third parties? We don’t think so. Companies can hardly claim to offer consumers a choice if the tools necessary to exercise that choice are hard to find or hidden behind plain-vanilla descriptors.
  • Established consumer protection principles apply to new technology.  FTC guidance documents like Careful Connections: Building Security in the Internet of Things, .com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising, and Start with Security may not have “Smart TV” in the title, but smart businesses look to them for advice on avoiding deceptive or unfair practices.


Saturday Morning Action Serials Open Thread

On the one hand, the Spousal Unit and I adored Leverage, which was John Rogers’ creation (along with the infamous 27% Factor).

But on the other hand, neither of us ever watched an episode of the original Magnum, P.I. — it was the 80s, home recording technology was still in its infancy and television in general wasn’t much further along. And we were both involved in sf fandom / tabletop RPGs, which in those primitive days meant hand-crafting fanzines, apas, and character sheets, not to mention longform reading.

So… those of you who know more of the source material: Is this particular reboot liable to be worth watching?

And apart from the current parlous state of pop culture, what’s on the agenda for the day?



Emmys Open Thread

Beautiful people.








Sports Open Thread: Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony This Evening

So now we get a respite from politics and money and the intersection of the… hahahahaha. The Washington Post explains “Why you won’t be seeing the Olympic Opening Ceremonies live”:

The Peacock Network plans to show the Opening Ceremonies of the Rio Olympic Games on Friday night with a one-hour delay. And viewers who live in the western U.S. will find their telecast delayed even longer.

NBC will start its broadcast at 8 p.m. ET, although the Opening Ceremonies in Rio, which is one hour ahead of the Eastern time zone, will begin at 7 p.m. ET.

“We think it’s important to give context to the show,” Mark Lazarus, the chairman of NBC Sports Group, said earlier this month. “These Opening Ceremonies will be a celebration of Brazilian culture, of Rio, of the pageantry, of the excitement, of the flair this beautiful nation has. We think it’s important that we are able to put that in context for the viewer so that it’s not just a flash of color.”…

And god forbid if anything terrible should happen, the NBC suits don’t want that marring their ad-buy-friendly happytalk broadcast.

Viewers in the Mountain time zone will have a two-hour delay, and viewers in the Pacific time zone will have a four-hour delay. The network plans to delay the broadcasts on its streaming service, too, so that won’t be a workaround. And don’t expect the practice to change in future Games. NBC’s delayed broadcast is a tradition it has maintained for 20 years largely because it believes its audience, which is mostly female, watches sports differently from men…

It’s not as though the viewing audience has changed over the past 20 years, at least not as far as NBC is concerned.

NYMag extrapolates “What to Expect at Rio’s Budget Friendly Olympics Opening Ceremony“:

“I hope that the opening ceremony will be a drug for depression in Brazil,” said City of God director Fernando Meirelles, who, along with filmmakers Daniela Thomas and Andrucha Waddington, is directing the event. But he was sure to note that, thanks to Brazil’s recession, things are being done on the cheap. “We were looking at a budget of 113.9 million U.S. dollars for the four ceremonies — opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. But now our budget is 55.9 million U.S. dollars for four ceremonies. Most of this money is for security, and all the stuff around the show. I think it is 12 times less than London, 20 times less than Beijing. This makes it very challenging … You lose ideas, you lose toys, where you had 3,000 people you now have 200,” he explained. “On the other hand, it is good in some way because we are in a moment in the world where we need to be reasonable with the way we spend money.”…

The identity of the person who transfers the Olympic flame from the torch to the cauldron is officially a secret, but all signs point to Brazil’s most beloved athlete, the now 75-year-old soccer star Pelé…

NYMag‘s Vulture blog also has A Day-by-Day Schedule of the 2016 Rio Olympics” here.

Who’s gonna be watching the Opening Ceremony, at least?



Wednesday Afternoon Open Thread

orange-is-the-new-black-season-3-slice-600x200

I stayed up into the wee hours binge-watching the latest season of “Orange Is the New Black,” and now I’m almost as cranky and depressed as an elderly socialist from Vermont who just got an ass-kicking from an erstwhile Goldwater Girl.

I know we must have “Orange” watchers in the group…anyone else all caught up and dying to discuss the show? If so, maybe use Google Translate to render your thoughts in Croatian before posting a comment to prevent spoilers?

Otherwise, open thread — discuss whatever!








Late Night Open Thread: John Oliver on Brexit

Local knowledge is invaluable. As might be expected, refugee from Little Britain Oliver has STRONG OPINIONS.