Current UpStream Contributor
Interim Segment Host
With over ten years of audio engineering experience, Nick's addition to the PLuGHiTz Corporation is best served when he is behind the mixing board every Sunday night to produce the audio side of their PLuGHiTz Live! Radio show. While mixing live every week, his previous radio show hosting experience gives him the ability to co-host as well, giving each show a unique flare with his slightly off-center, yet still realistic take on all things tech. An integral part of the show, you can find Nick always enveloped in coming up with new (and sometimes crazy) ideas and content for the show and you can always expect the most direct opinion on the stories that he feels need to be shared with the world. During the few hours where Nick isn't sleeping or working on ways to improve the company, he spends his free time going to hockey and football games and playing the latest titles on Xbox 360. Email him for his gamertag and add him today for a fun escape from the normal monotony and annoyance that the Xbox LIVE gaming community can sometimes be!
Recent UpStream Articles
posted Sunday May 19, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the organization that bring you the International CES each and every year, has remained on the forefront of setting standards, practices and policies to each sector of the consumer electronics industry. From convincing politicians to enact laws to protect the space, or to educate consumers on the latest tech trends and things that affect the masses, the CEA is a very important organization for anyone who owns or operates a piece of technology. This week, the CEA has stepped in to announce that are working on a new standard for smart energy and connected homes. This would include all Internet-connected devices in your house and any energy-saving tech gadgets, along with the entire home automation space.
Named the R7.8 Working Group 2, the standard will help the gadgets in your home send energy usage data to and from energy managements apps and systems. In the announcement, the CEA said what the name of the standard will be and how it will all work moving forward.
The new standard will be called CE-Energy Usage Information (CE-EUI) and will conform to the North American Energy Standards Board Energy Usage Information (NAESB -EUI) model, which forms the basis for the national Green Button initiative.
If you're not familiar with Green Button, here's what it's all about,
Green Button is the common-sense idea that electricity customers should be able to securely download their own easy-to-understand energy usage information from their utility or electricity supplier. Armed with this information, consumers can use a growing array of new web and smartphone tools to make more informed energy decisions, optimize the size and cost-effectiveness of solar panels for their home, or verify that energy-efficiency retrofit investments are performing as promised. Consumers can even use fun innovative apps that allow individuals to compete against Facebook friends to save energy and lower their carbon emissions.
Brian Markwalter, Senior VP on research and standards at CEA, said,
Product manufacturers already understand how much energy a device will use during operation, based on its design. By programming that information into the device and enabling the device to calculate how much energy it uses over time, manufacturers can help homeowners accurately capture the data for their energy management systems and applications.
In the end, this is all happening to finally bring a level of compatibility to the Green Button "Download My Data" and "Connect My Data" programs. The best part is that the system and standard will allow devices to work over Wi-Fi, Ethernet, ZigBee and Z-Wave, which all exist in one device or another in a house, but at this time, cannot talk to each other. It seems that now that the CEA is behind this, utility companies will be quick to adopt the program, with a standard in place, and bring the companies into the new era of technology.read more...
posted Tuesday May 14, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
After Disney announced it was shutting down LucasArts following itsacquisition of the brand late last year, the entire gaming community wondered what would happen to the popular franchises and titles that came out of that studio. Disney went on record to say they were looking to set up licensing deals as soon as possible. Well, this may be bad news to some, but Electronic Arts has now brokered a deal with Disney to produce and distribute upcoming Star Wars titles. Disney and EA have put together a "new multi-year exclusive licensing agreement to develop and publish globally new games based on Star Wars characters and storylines."
Here's the info from the blog post by Frank Gibeau,
Today, The Walt Disney Company has announced that they have chosen EA to create new Star Wars experiences for gamers worldwide.
The magic of Star Wars is interwoven into the worlds, characters, planets and amazing battles. It is a universe that lends itself perfectly to gaming. Our agreement unlocks a whole new future of Star Wars games that will span consoles, PCs, tablets, mobile and more.
While we don't have any details to share today on specific titles, our development teams are already brimming with design ideas. The EA Studios that will develop these games are some of the most innovative and popular creative teams in the world, and include DICE and Visceral, in addition to the BioWare team, which is already developing for the Star Wars franchise. These imaginative teams will make games that may borrow from films, but the games will be entirely original with all new stories. Powering it all will be the Frostbite 3 development engine - guaranteeing incredible graphic fidelity, environments and characters.
In the official announcement, EA said that Disney will keep "certain rights to develop new titles within the mobile, social, tablet and online game categories" but EA will have the rights to put out games for all current platforms. Disney's co-president (I think the one that handles the "big picture" stuff) John Pleasants said,
This agreement demonstrates our commitment to creating quality game experiences that drive the popularity of the Star Wars franchise for years to come. Collaborating with one of the world's premier game developers will allow us to bring an amazing portfolio of new Star Wars titles to our fans around the world.
This is definitely an intriguing move on EA's part, as recently they've changed CEOs, while axing an entire gaming studio in itself, Playfish. At least we know that the DICE and Visceral teams are both very talented and are outside the doom that is their EA Sports developers. I just hope that each Star Wars character won't cost 300 Microsoft Points as DLC.read more...
posted Monday May 13, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
Things with Aereo are now heating up, as the company has been in headlines for the past few months. Most recently the NY Appeals Court upheld a ruling in favor of Aereo, which allows the over-the-air streaming service to remain in business, at least for now. This sparked so much outrage from the broadcasters that CBS threatened to become a cable station if Aereo doesn't shut down its operations. They also decided to trash Aereo in the process, calling the service "illegal" and other things that the court already found to be fair to date. Because of all of this, Aereo has decided to turn the tables on the broadcasters and aim their sights directly on CBS.
Obviously becoming annoyed from all of the lawsuits and threats, Aereo has filed a complaint, which states that CBS holding its OTA broadcast over Aereo and the rest of the country, along with filing a suit in each area which Aereo operates in, is going one step too far. To combat this, Aereo is also launching in Boston this week, and another 20 markets by the end of the summer. In the complaint, it says,
Such threatened follow-on suits would be an attempt to avoid or evade the District Court's rulings... by seeking "do-overs" in other courts. It is not proper for parties to attempt to re-litigate claims that are pending, let alone already decided... It would be highly inefficient and a waste of judicial resources.
Basically, Aereo is saying that CBS is whining about something that has already been decided and the fact that they are threatening to go to court yet again will only frustrate the courts, who will already agree with what has been ruled. CBS Communications Coordinator, Dana McClintock, even tweeted that CBS "will sue, and stealing our signal will be found to be illegal in Boston, just as it will be everywhere else." Aereo continues to state in the complaint that any further issues broadcasters would come up with about their streaming service should be brought to the attention of the New York federal court, where the hearings have been taking place. Allowing lawsuits to happen in each of their 22 markets would only give in to the "do-over" mentality of the broadcasters.
What it all boils down to is broadcasters fighting over the retransmission fees they feel they are owed. However, I would argue that if I was able to construct a big enough antenna to get New York over-the-air signals here in Tampa, I would do it without thinking twice. Luckily for me, Aereo exists and I'm able to watch OTA broadcasts without the need for that space needle. At any rate, the cable companies are definitely sweating now and we'll be sure to keep you in the loop as to what happens next, especially when Aereo opens up in Boston and beyond.read more...
posted Sunday May 5, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
Microsoft's innovative Windows Phone 8 has been in the market for a while now, and while results haven't been exponentially overwhelming, there has been steady growth in the market share category. So far, flagship devices from Nokia, as well as great smartphones from HTC and Samsung have proven well worth it for those who have spent the $200+ on the handset, however, Microsoft is looking to further take some share from Apple by getting their operating system into as many hands as possible. How? By offering a less expensive option.
Coming in at under $150 and being available at Wal-Mart, the Nokia Lumia 521 will have a ton of exposure at a retail establishment that doesn't necessarily tout "high-end." Head of Windows Phone, Terry Myerson, said,
There is an opportunity for us to offer a very high quality device in the mainstream. That's where we've made progress in the last couple of months and it's a strategy we'll continue to explore in the United States.
The Home Shopping Network has already launched the Lumia 521 and it sold out in hours, proving the phone is hitting the exact demographic Microsoft has set it out for. On specs, it's got real 4G, a 4" touch screen, 5MP camera and HD resolution. Running on T-Mobile, the key reason it is being highlighted is because it won't require a long-term contract for you to acquire one at the sub-$150 pricepoint. All you'll need is a $30 unlimited data and text plan - just keep an eye on how much 4G data you're using, as it will be heavily throttled.
In the end though, Microsoft is sitting at 3.2 percent marketshare, with Apple having 39 percent and Android with 52 percent. Given that sales of Nokia WinPho 8 handsets are up 27 percent quarter-to-quarter, moving 5.6 million of the devices total, one could surely see sales rising even more after the rollout of the 521 into Wal-Mart. As a side note, WinPho has 20 percent market share overseas and has about 7 percent in the UK.
On the move to go with T-Mobile for this smartphone instead of the other big companies, who haven't chosen to go with a non-subsidized option, Myerson said,
It (subsidization) is a compelling business model for them. If you are Samsung, Apple, AT&T or Verizon, it's where everything's working, you are growing share, you are growing profits. If you are an incumbent with a successful business model, you're not going to be jumping to throw it out.
Are you in the market for a new phone and are with T-Mobile? Are you looking at the Lumia 521? Tell us that, plus all of your thoughts on Microsoft getting into the lower-end of the smartphone market in the comments below.read more...
posted Sunday May 5, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
Here's something GameStop isn't going to appreciate, and no, it isn't another exec robbing them of millions. Instead, another company has decided that it has had enough of GameStop taking billions of dollars from console manufacturers and game development studios. Nintendo has rolled out a new way to get a hold of refurbished hardware and you won't have to go to the used games store to do it. Now you can buy Nintendo-certified refurbished 3DS and DSi XL devices directly from Nintendo via their new "Authentic Nintendo Refurbished Products" website and program.
On the site, Nintendo talks about ensuring you get a great device when you buy refurbished, instead of the crapshoot that can sometimes be the GameStop second-hand products.
Authentic Nintendo Refurbished Products are the only refurbished products in the market that have been cleaned, tested, and inspected to meet Nintendo's high standards. They come with a one year warranty - the same warranty we offer on our new products. These products are only available directly from Nintendo. Authentic Nintendo Refurbished Products are guaranteed to be fully functional, but may have minor cosmetic blemishes.
As we've been saying for years, GameStop has been responsible for a good portion of the argued downfall of the gaming industry. With Nintendo stepping in and selling used products directly from their site, it might cause a little bit of tension and loss and sleep within the exec circle of GameStop. Even better, Nintendo's units come with a one year manufacturer warranty and are around $30 cheaper than what you'd find at that other store.
So, could this slowly be the decline of GameStop after years of forcing developers to implement things like online passes? Will you buy directly from Nintendo instead? Let us know in the comments below.read more...