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As Netflix ramps up its films, Rob Redford in this sci-fi...

A sci-fi film about life after death kicks off what could be a big 2017 for Netflix.

Uber CEO Kalanick apologizes after filmed dustup with driver goes viral

"To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement."

Stranger Things Season 2 will haunt Netflix on Halloween

A reportedly $5M Super Bowl teaser trailer shows Eleven and co. are back on Oct. 31.

Amazon tells Super Bowl viewers to look for Prime Air drone...

Branded drone seen floating through window; fine print in ad tempers expectations.

California man spent $1 million playing Game of War

reader comments 94 Share this story
Game of War's 2015 Super Bowl commercial. A 45-year-old California man pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to ripping off $4.8 million from his employer. Notably, the man admitted to spending $1 million of that bonanza on Game of War. The mobile-phone game is developed by Machine Zone and heavily advertised by model Kate Upton.
It's one of the top-grossing mobile games in the world, according to Adweek.

And now we know why, at least in part. Kevin Lee Co admitted in Sacramento federal court that,from May 2008 to March 2015, he embezzled nearly $5 million from his controller job at a heavy-equipment company called Holt California. He admitted in his guilty plea (PDF) to spending "approximately $1 million" on Game of War. He also admitted to getting plastic surgery and buying season tickets to the San Francisco 49ers and the Sacramento Kings.

The record also showed Co bought "luxury cars" and a golf club membership. We've read reports about players spending thousands of dollars on Game of War, which bills itself as "the world's largest multiplayer strategy game." It's raking in more than $1 million daily, but we've never seen a personal tab this high to date. The strategy game sees players building empires with soldiers and attacking other players who are doing the same.

The deeper you go, the more likely you'll shell out cash.
VentureBeat said that Game of War's paying players spent an average of $550 on the game last year: A $550 annual average is insane, but Machine Zone has definitely mastered certain aspects of getting people with a lot of money to part with huge chunks of it.

A big part of this, as analytics firm ThinkGaming points out, is that Game of War has a lot of depth for big spenders.

The app has a multitude of systems that players need to engage with to ensure they have an army prepared for the next big multiplayer battle.

But those systems are slow, and players can speed them up by spending cash. Of course, a lot of games do stuff like this, and part of Machine Zone’s success is that other studios haven’t figured out how to duplicate its money-making techniques.
It’s also likely that Game of War has a disproportionate number of whales compared to those people who put just a few dollars in.

The game heavily favors big spenders, and the top whales are a hundredfold more powerful than the common player who puts little or no cash into Game of War. Cracked, meanwhile, did a piece last year entitled "5 Reasons I lost $9,000 On An iPhone Game." One reason is that players don't get to keep what they buy in Game of War.  "But, here, you're spending money on troops and other expendables that can be lost in combat.
I was casually browsing the map at work recently and came across a guy who must have spent at least 7,000 Euros. He wasn't around to defend himself, so we attacked. We wiped out about 2,500 Euros.

Two-and-a-half grand, gone in five minutes," according to Cracked. "It's like gambling, but with no possibility of winning." For Co, the convicted embezzler, money was no object with Games of War. After all, he was gambling with his employer's money in additional ways.

Co now faces a maximum 20-year term when sentenced in May. Listing image by Machine Zone

ACLU exposes Facebook, Twitter for selling surveillance company user data


reader comments 26 Share this story The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday outed Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for feeding a Chicago-based company their user streams—a feed that was then sold to police agencies for surveillance purposes. After the disclosure, the social media companies said they stopped their data firehouse to Chicago-based Geofeedia.
In a blog post, the ACLU said it uncovered the data feeds as part of a public records request campaign of California law enforcement agencies.

Geofeedia touts how it helped police track unrest during protests. In one document, Geofeedia hailed its service because it paid for Twitter's "firehose" and because it is the "only social media monitoring tool to have a partnership with Instagram." "Geofeed Streamer is unique to Geofeedia and has numerous uses (Ie: Live Events, Protests—which we covered Ferguson/Mike Brown nationally with great success, Disaster Relief, Etc)," said one document (PDF) that Geofeedia sent to a police agency, which was then forwarded to the ACLU. Following the ACLU post, Twitter tweeted, "Based on information in the @ACLU's report, we are immediately suspending @Geofeedia's commercial access to Twitter data." Nicole Ozer, an ACLU civil liberties director in California, said, "The ACLU shouldn't have to tell Facebook or Twitter what their own developers are doing.

The companies need to enact strong public policies and robust auditing procedures to ensure their platforms aren't being used for discriminatory surveillance." The ACLU said that "after we reported our findings to the companies, Instagram cut off Geofeedia's access to public user posts, and Facebook has cut its access to a topic-based feed of public user posts." Geofeedia, which did not respond for comment, says it has more than 500 customers, including the Denver Police Department.

That agency recently signed a $30,000 annual deal with the company.

The money came from the agency's "confiscation" fund.

The department's intelligence agency's top brass wrote that it would allow cops to analyze and respond in real time to "social media content from anywhere in the world." "You are able to see real-time potential threats being made to an event," Denver Police Lt. William Mitchell said. He added that the data feeds helped with the Boston Marathon bombing investigation and aided police in finding a woman who made online threats during the Super Bowl. "It has the ability to identify criminal suspects and their actions as they post them to social media," he said. Los Angeles authorities had written in a grant application that as many as 500 police departments nationwide were using Geofeedia. Listing image by Geofeedia

FAA to drone owners: Stay away from hurricane relief efforts, playoff...

Enlarge / Does this really look like good drone flying weather?NASA reader comments 44 Share this story The Federal Aviation Administration and the Academy of Model Aeronautics have issued a joint statement warning drone operators to not fly in the vicinity of Hurricane Matthew rescue and recovery operations by first responders. "Any unauthorized drone or model aircraft operations that interfere with disaster relief efforts are subject to civil penalties of up to $32,140 per violation and possible criminal prosecution," the AMA noted in a release published today. While the FAA has not yet issued any temporary flight restrictions in Florida or other areas affected thus far by Hurricane Matthew, nearly all of the population centers on Florida's east coast (and much of the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina) are already covered by "notification required" restrictions for drones because of nearby airports, helipads, and national parks. The FAA has also issued a notice classifying the location of any "special sporting event"—including Major League Baseball playoff games, NFL and NCAA football games, or any other sporting event at a location with a seating capacity of over 30,000 people as "National Defense Airspace," banning all flights (and other airborne activity) within three nautical miles.

These areas are much smaller than the flight restrictions posted for this year's Super Bowl in San Jose, which was given a 32 nautical mile radius no-fly zone—covering practically all of the San Francisco Bay area. If you fly - they can't save lives.

Flying #drones around aircraft assisting w/#HurricaneMatthew response efforts is dangerous and illegal. pic.twitter.com/hCn9XpJlqK — The FAA (@FAANews) October 7, 2016