Former Segment Host
Current UpStream Contributor
Current Product Reviewer
With over ten years of audio engineering experience, Nick's addition to PLuGHiTz Corporation is best served when he is behind the mixing board every Sunday night to produce the audio side of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Piltch Point and PLuGHiTz Live Night Cap. 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 Nov 8, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo
While all the talk is about Activision's purchase of King for almost $6 billion, there are some other movers and shakers in the mobile game space right now. Most notably is Zynga, who recently lost its top spot to King and has had its founder, Mark Pincus, return as CEO after a revival plan. In the past three quarters, Zynga has beaten its estimates each and every time, with two of them being under the guidance of Pincus.
Zynga is able to attest its recent success to still-popular titles like Words With Friends, while games like Wizard of Oz Slots and Empires & Allies are showing high-level growth. The news of another consecutive quarter's estimated being topped caused Zynga's stock to rise 4 percent, bringing it to $2.55 per share. This values Zynga at $2.3 billion, just 17 percent of its high-mark five years ago. The company is not without its troubles, though. Daily users are down 21 percent from last year, to just 19 million players.
Even with the roller coaster of a story, Pincus says that nothing will deter the future success of the company. In an interview, he gives credit to FarmVille 2 web for doing so well, and says that Zynga's Poker game will drive growth next year.
We've been seeing, for the last three quarters, a good strength in our live franchises, especially on FarmVille 2 web and Words with Friends mobile, as well as slots games on mobile like our new Wizard of Oz slots. We've seen a decent contribution from our new game Empires and Allies. But all three quarters, the live game team performance has exceeded our expectations. The level of advertiser demand and interest in our Words with Friends audience and other mobile audiences has continued to be a pleasant surprise for us.
When asked about the King acquisition, Pincus said that he believes companies need to acquire, but also need to aim to capture a large audience and hold them over time through a diverse selection of games. The CEO said that Zynga has been doing this all along, and will continue to do so.
We (Zynga) have been investing in those (areas) across social casino, across casual with Words with Friends, and best expressed in action strategy with the launch of Empires and Allies and the acquisition of NaturalMotion. When you look at the Activision-King deal, I think it makes a lot of sense for all those reasons. Bobby Kotick is adding key pieces of the puzzle. In one fell swoop he gets mobile, casual, Asia, and women players. He's positioning his company well.
With the success of Zynga riding high right now, it is reasonable for Pincus to rest his laurels on those accomplishments. However Zynga now lacks the blank check that King just picked up by moving over to Activision. The next year will certainly be an interesting one for both companies, and it will be intriguing to see who is at the top by the end of 2016. There's a battle that is about to go down, and when the dust settles, I believe only one company will truly stand above the rest. It seems to be a war between passion and money, and sometimes that can be a lop-sided fight.read more...
posted Sunday Nov 8, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo
With privacy being a hot button topic over the past few years, there has been a push for government agencies to step in and protect consumer data and consumers' wishes to remain anonymous on the Internet. The Federal Communications Commission literally did the opposite on Friday when the agency dismissed a petition that would have forced websites to adhere to a user's "Do Not Track" request when browsing sites like Google and Facebook.
Consumer advocate group Consumer Watchdog had previously filed a petition that would have the FCC big name sites to recognize and honor all Do Not Track requests coming from consumers across the US. Consumer Watchdog proposed a rule that would have also removed a website's ability to require users to consent to data tracking in order to use the site's features, read data on the site, and more.
Currently, some sites do in fact recognize Do Not Track requests that are placed from within a user's favorite web browser. If a site sees that the user has enabled that checkbox, it would opt said user out of third-party tracking and targeted ads, like from Google AdSense or Facebook Ads. Unfortunately many sites still do not comply with Do Not Track requests, and will now continue to dismiss those requests due to the FCC's dismissal of the proposal.
Consumer Watchdog writes that this type of protection and acknowledgement is needed in order for consumers to feel safer on the Internet.
Consumers' privacy concerns about the Internet extend far beyond the broadband providers who are impacted by Section 222. Many consumers are as concerned - or perhaps even more worried - about the online tracking and data collection practices of edge providers... edge providers collect the same sensitive personal information that broadband Internet access service providers collect, and that the Commission is committed to protecting. If the Commission does not act to regulate the collection of personal information by edge providers, the Commission will in effect be granting a regulatory advantage to the edge providers, implicating concerns of market distortions.
The FCC said that it dismissed the petition because it recently reclassified broadband as a common carrier service, and due to that reclassification, it will not regulate the Internet or its applications or content.read more...
posted Sunday Nov 8, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo
It's well known that the Android platform is loaded with malware. In fact, it is the most vulnerable and infection-ridden mobile operating system. It gets even worse than that, however. This week, researchers have identified a new adware that has hit the Android marketplace. This new bug makes it practically impossible to uninstall the app, and also masks itself as a popular app like Facebook or Twitter in order to gain access to as much data as possible.
Over 20,000 samples of the malicious apps were uncovered and the apps actually just take code from official apps and repackage them with a similar name, and are distributed through third-party app stores. The creators of the adware hope that users will be confused by the similar name. The psuedo-official apps are often times complete replicas of the original, and even function as such. But behind the scenes, the app is gaining root access to the mobile device, allowing more trojans to be installed and uploading all of the device's data to a server. All of this happens without the user's knowledge in less than a minute.
Mobile security company Lookout posted a blog entry about the newly discovered malware.
For individuals, getting infected with Shedun, Shuanet, and ShiftyBug might mean a trip to the store to buy a new phone. Because these pieces of adware root the device and install themselves as system applications, they become nearly impossible to remove, usually forcing victims to replace their device in order to regain normalcy.
Lookout adds that the app may only look like it's displaying an ad or two, but assured that it grabs administration rights to a device and then proceeds to avoid being extracted or uninstalled once it's in. Currently, the company says that the highest amount of detections are coming from the US, but they have also picked up traces of the infection in Germany, Iran, Russia, India, Jamaica, Sudan, Brazil, Mexico and Indonesia. Currently these apps aren't on the Google Play store directly, but that isn't too far off the horizon, considering that Google Play breaches happen about a dozen times a year, with malicious apps flooding the market within seconds.
While it's not surprising to hear of more trash apps filling the Android world, it is worth revisiting the idea that one should always be cautious of what app they're downloading. Additionally, it is imperative to check the developer or publisher of the app, to ensure its authenticity.read more...
posted Sunday Sep 20, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo
We collect non-personal data to make money from our free offerings so we can keep them free, including:
- Advertising ID associated with your device;
- Browsing and search history, including meta data;
- Internet service provider or mobile network you use to connect to our products; and
- Information regarding other applications you may have on your device and how they are used.
There are two important things to note here. First, I do commend AVG for proactively putting up a blog post before implementing the policy, allowing users to decide whether or not to use their service moving forward. The second thing to mention is merely a friendly reminder that whenever a product is free, almost every time it is because the end-user is a product for the company. This is the case here, as it is with Facebook and many other services that have no charge to the consumer on the web.
AVG did say that even though it won't sell your address, age, IP and the like, that the info may still be shared with its partners if they ask. The Czech-based company also said that things like credit card details will never be sold, but they might be leaked inside your browsing history that AVG will send to advertisers. Those two facts alone should be enough for anyone to deter from using these products, so long as those people are concerned with their data. Again, the policy goes into effect on October 15th, giving you enough time to uninstall any AVG-related product and replace it with something else, if you so choose.read more...
posted Sunday Sep 20, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo
The ability to unlock your smartphone may be beneficial to some people who want to switch carriers and take their device with them. But what would happen if your phone was being illegally unlocked, without your permission, using malware on AT&T's computers? Well, if you're AT&T, those actions have resulted in a lawsuit against the offending parties.
AT&T has filed suit against three people who formally worked for the company, along with a business that paid the employees to install malware on AT&T's computers that allowed them to unlock thousands of phones without consent of AT&T or the customer. Marc Sapatin, Nguyen Lam and Kyra Evans were all served this week with the suit papers, as well as Prashan Vira, who owns the company Swift Unlocks. AT&T alleges that the four conspirators were involved in the illegal operation in 2013 when the three employees were working at an AT&T call center in Washington.
AT&T says in the filing documents that by unlocking all of these devices, the employees have cost AT&T a ton of money from the disabling of pre-installed software.
"Unlocking" a phone disables certain software pre-installed by the phone manufacturers, which is designed to limit the activation of the phones exclusively to AT&T's network. Once a phone is unlocked, it can be used on multiple carrier systems rather than exclusively with AT&T.
The software is vital to AT&T's business because it allows AT&T to subsidize the cost of the phone to consumers while protecting AT&T's investment in the phones through term contracts. The software also protects AT&T's goodwill with respect to phones that carry AT&T's brand, because some of the phones' functionality may not work as effectively on non-AT&T networks.
Whether or not you believe that unlocking a phone disables a phone's functionality, the fact of the matter is Evans was paid $20,000 and Sapatin paid over $10,000 for the unlocking of the devices by Swift Unlocks. AT&T did not accuse Lam of receiving money but did accuse the employee of installing the malware to the workstations. Lam was fired by AT&T. Evans and Sapatin both quit.
AT&T clarified that the individuals involved in this did not access customer information not did their actions impact customers other than having their phones unlocked.
We're seeking damages and injunctive relief from several people who engaged in a scheme a couple of years ago to illegally unlock wireless telephones used on our network. It's important to note that this did not involve any improper access of customer information, or any adverse effect on our customers.
The accused parties will have 21 days to respond to the summons issued this week, with AT&T demanding a jury trial.read more...
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