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 Monday Feb 1, 2016 by Nicholas DiMeo
Two years ago, rumors started swirling about Spotify adding a video streaming service to its platform. CEO Daniel Ek said he was focused on the music at the time, but kind of dodged the question when directly asked. Apparently the dodging was just and the rumors are true, as Spotify added video content to the popular app this past week.
First launching on Android, iOS users got their version over the weekend and Windows users by the end of next week. To provide content, Spotify has partnered with some of the biggest names in the game, like ESPN, ABC, NBC, Comedy Central, Vice and Maker Studios.
Recently, Spotify has been testing out their video features. Some of the ads on the app have been video-based and the company has added short clips over the past month. Over the next several months, users can expect to see more clips, packaged shorts in recap-style videos and more. Ek said that while he knows most users listen to Spotify with their device in their pockets, a lot of the video content will be made to be enjoyed just as much by listening as it is watching it.
Something that would propel Spotify forward on this feature addition would be to fully support podcasts on the app. Both video and audio podcasts could be curated, neatly organized and displayed for the entire userbase. Video podcasting is a growing market, and Spotify already has the media partners on the table for podcasters to tap into for advertising purposes.
For now, the answer is still unclear on whether this will be a positive move for the company in the long run. There is one benefit over leading video platform YouTube, and that's the fact that Spotify will not be placing ads before or after the videos. Video content will follow the standard ad policy for all media on Spotify. Premium users are ad-free, and free users see an ad once every 6 to 8 songs. That's for now, at least, as Ek did say he would not rule out video ads in the future, but it's possible that those would simply be a continuation of the current ad system.read more...
posted Sunday Jan 31, 2016 by Nicholas DiMeo
Since the creation of our publication, we've not written about Circuit City. Trust me, I went back and searched, and the only time we do is in an article about Best Buy. For some of you, you may not even know what a Circuit City is. This is because the electronics big-box store went out of business in March 2009, after failing to remain competitive against Best Buy's aggressive marketing strategies. The company's physical assets were liquidated, all stores were closed and the branding, domain and all trademarks were then sold to Systemax, an IT supplier that also owns all of Tiger Direct's assets. In October, Systemax sold the Circuit City package to Shmoel, which recently changed its name to Circuit City Corp. And now the company is looking to relaunch the brand.
Ronny Shmoel and Albert Liniado may not be commonly recognizable names, but the duo have extensive successful history in the online retail world. The two hope that their positive experiences will lead Circuit City to the same green pastures as their previous endeavors. Shmoel says that he will achieve this with an extensive blueprint that includes both web sales and retail stores. In those outlets, there will not only be popular branded products, but also a Circuit City-branded alternative. The head of the newly-named Circuit City Corp also said there will be kiosks in the future, along with opportunities for franchising and other investment avenues.
Liniado, a former business development VP of two decades, said that, "We (Circuit City Corp) want to bring profitability back into retail." He added that this can be achieved through building margin into off-branded product and by keeping its retail footprint as small and efficient as possible. Best Buy just started learning that last tidbit of information over the past 3 to 4 years. Liniado said new Circuit City stores will be between 2,000 and 4,000 square feet, with product zones that resemble the RadioShack stores that were remodeled right before that brand underwent its own sale.
The new Circuit City locations will be aimed at millennials and college students, and will feature everything you'd expect inside a Best Buy Mobile mixed with a small version of Fry's. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, headphones, gaming accessories, wearables and even drones and 3D printers. The stores will come complete with electronic tags for pricing and will seamlessly integrate with circuitcity.com's one million SKU inventory.
Shmoel's end goal, while ambitious, can be done if it's focused right. The retail exec says he expects around 100 retail corporate stores to be opened by next year, with another 200 franchise locations. The website will be relaunched and ready for business in June.read more...
posted Sunday Jan 31, 2016 by Nicholas DiMeo
Twitter's been under a bit of a revival plan as of late. It started about a year ago when the company decided to really take on trolls and abuse, and continued when former CEO Dick Costolo was replaced by co-founder Jack Dorsey. Dorsey, still running the company, has tried to focus on making Twitter profitable and sustainable, but the social media giant has been juggling executive roles in the process.
Shortly after our show wrapped last Sunday, Dorsey took to his domain to confirm that four major executives from Twitter would be leaving the company. Head of Products Kevin Weil, Head of Media Katie Jacobs Stanton, Head Engineer Alex Roetter and Head of HR Skip Schipper all were set to leave the company. In addition to those four, the head of Vine, Jason Toff, is also leaving Twitter to go work for Google again. It is being reported that some of these execs were asked to leave, while other simply resigned.
For instance, Stanton and Weil both said that they would be leaving the company to spend more time with their families. Roetter added that he would be "taking a step back" from Twitter while focusing on his family as well. This could all be a veil covering up the real reason they are all leaving, but that's what was posted on social media.
It is surprising to see five big names of a top company leave all at once, but considering the rapid decline of Twitter's stock price, it's possible that this is all ahead of massive shake-up within Twitter. The stock has been sinking for the past year, falling from its first day price of almost $45, to just under $18 this past week.
Dorsey has maintained his position as CEO of Twitter since June of last year, and has made several key changes since. Aside from the ones already mentioned, Dorsey also fired almost 10 percent of Twitter's total employee count back in October. On the positive end of the spectrum, Dorsey was behind the new feature, Twitter Moments, in hopes that it will bring new users to the platform and further engage existing ones. If the resignations of the five executives are any indication of it, there are only going to be more changes in 2016 for Twitter.read more...
posted Monday Jan 25, 2016 by Nicholas DiMeo
A little over a year ago, you may have read about Blizzard's new FPS Overwatch. The game is a little over-the-top, but looks to take on Valve's extremely popular team-based strategy shooter, Team Fortress 2. And if you're me, you've been playing the closed beta since it went live all the way to when the devs closed it in December. We were promised the game would return for another round of closed beta testing "soon," however soon will not be coming soon enough as it looks like the next iteration of game testing will be put off for a little longer.
We were supposed to hear from Blizzard this week about the re-launch of the closed beta for Overwatch, with rumors swirling that it would be sometimes during the last week of January. Sadly, we're now being told via blog post that the reopening won't happen for at least a few more weeks. While that may not be a long time for some, the game's exciting and refreshing experience has gamers everywhere chomping to get back to it.
While progress has been great and the team has been working super hard to get everything implemented on time, we're not quite ready to bring the Closed Beta back online just yet...Rather than try to rush a beta patch out this month (which would mean the new game mode would have to be put off), we're going to take a few extra weeks before bringing the Closed Beta back.
Now, the good news is that the team is taking the extra time to actually implement some user feedback. A new game mode in addition to Point Capture and Payload will be added in the next update. The dev team will also be working on some serious game balance issues, along with improving its core progression system.
Game Director Jeff Kaplan closed the blog post by saying the choice was easy and we should expect the game to be reopened for testing in mid-February.read more...
posted Monday Jan 25, 2016 by Nicholas DiMeo
Last week, Hulu struck a deal with Sony Pictures to add more movies and big-name content to the platform. Not to be outdone, Netflix announced this week that it will be spending a large amount of its $5 billion programming budget for 2016 on children and family content, to further cement itself at the top video-streaming service.
Chief Content Office Ted Sarandos announced that Netflix is "doubling down on kids and families." As it stands, Netflix has just over a dozen original shows that are focused for children. Over the span of the next year, the company will up that number to 35 total programs.
While Netflix currently has hundreds of shows for kids on the network, most of them are acquired through their licensing deals. That was an important first step for the platform, which has a formulaic approach to targeting its key demographics. The next step, which has proven successful for Netflix, is to create new, original content in order to keep its consumers locked into the service.
Sarandos also acknowledge the challenge that the company faces on a global level. While their security team is currently blocking VPN and proxy services, Netflix understands that its customers use those services because a lot of content isn't available outside of the US. He promised this week to focus heavily on global license agreements.
We are running a global network that is not easily comparable in business or cultural terms to anything that has come before. Every year the exclusions of different countries in our licensing agreements will become less and less.
The show titles and storylines haven't been announced yet, but Sarandos said that information would be coming in just a few weeks as the ink dries on the fresh sheets of printed paper.read more...
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