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 Dec 1, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
After more than two weeks on the market and over a dozen issues being reported even before launch, the PlayStation 4 is still going through some serious growing pains. The biggest issue that still remains is the uncertainty and instability of the PlayStation Network, Sony's online gaming platform. Without mentioning any new server upgrades to handle the heavy influx of gamers coming on to the network after the E3 presentation battle, Sony's has now shut down part of the system in order to handle server loads.
If you want to redeem any PlayStation promotional codes or PSN Card codes, you won't be able to for the foreseeable future. Aside from the PS4 just sitting there at the Redeem Code screen after number entry, a blog post appeared on the PlayStation Blog about the service interruption. Social Media Manager Sid Shuman wrote,
We are aware that users are experiencing some disruption to the PSN service. To minimize the inconvenience we have suspended the "redeem voucher" functionality while we investigate further. Unfortunately this means that money cards, product vouchers, PlayStation Plus vouchers, PS3-PS4 upgrade vouchers and any other vouchers for digital content are not redeemable at this time. Other PSN features such as log in, online multiplayer gaming, PlayStation Plus trials, PlayStation Store (excluding voucher redemption), Trophies, messages, friends, etc. are all available.
We apologize for the inconvenience and will provide an update soon.
There's also a thread that has been updated a few times since the announcement, with no real answer in sight as to when the service will be brought back up. Sony says that it still does "not have an estimate on when the system will be available at this time" and to "please try again later this evening or tomorrow."
In trying since the post, I've still not seen any successful redemption of a promo code. Now, I know this may not seem like a big deal to most people, however, it speaks a lot to the stability of the network as a whole. Gamers are still reporting complete meltdowns of the PSN service, including dropped lobbies, lagging out of games in-match and trophies not saving or being lost. So while the Redeem Code screen might not be something you use, it's the place Sony is working on a stop-gap to try and fix other problems at the same time. For now, PS4 users will still have network latency issues and will have to deal with it until Sony fixes the problems.read more...
posted Monday Nov 25, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
When RIM changed its name to BlackBerry, you would have assumed that would be the time when the company would start from scratch with everything. But BlackBerry is a different type of company, one that operates in a quirky way and marches to the beat of its own drum. The transition began with the name, continued on months later with the new BlackBerry OS and has now come to the end of the turnover with the almost-entire replacement of the executive board. Oh, and throw in a failed buyout and BlackBerry's primary manufacturing facility cutting ties with the company.
In the announcement, BlackBerry said it is changing out many management and board positions. Seemingly starting over, COO Kristian Tear and CMO Frank Boulben have both left the company. James Yersh, who's served the company since 2008, will be replacing Brian Bidulka as Blackberry's CFO and Bidlulka will stay on board as a special advisor to the CEO for the rest of the fiscal year to help with the change. Other notables of the total shift in direction for the company is the resignation of board member Roger Martin, who has been with the company formerly known as RIM since 2007.
On these decisions, interim BlackBerry CEO John Chen said,
I thank Kristian and Frank for their efforts on behalf of BlackBerry. I look forward to working more directly with the talented teams of engineers, and the sales and marketing teams around the world to facilitate the BlackBerry turn-around and to drive innovation. I also thank Brian for his eight years of dedicated service to BlackBerry. I look forward to working with James and his Finance team as we move forward, execute on our plans and deliver long-term value for our shareholders.
This shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone following the story of BlackBerry, as many people predicted a reshuffling like that was in the cards for a while now. Chen also made it known a month ago that this was going to happen before the year was out and that we'd see "new faces" in executive positions. Chen also predicts a turnaround for the company by June 2015, so we'll have to see if these moves will either help or hurt him reach that goal.
The good news is that if he does manage to right the ship according to his plan, his role as interim CEO at BlackBerry just might move into a permanent one, complete with a desk placard, assistant and the removal of the position over at jobs.rim.com.read more...
posted Sunday Nov 24, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
Nokia's devices and services division becoming part of Microsoft is a great thing for consumers. It streamlines the Nokia handsets that features Windows Phone 8 and gives Microsoft a dedicated partner for its flagship operating system. That being said, there's a large group of people who are less than thrilled with this deal, that being Nokia workers in one of the company's manufacturing plants in China.
After having been forced to agree and sign to new contracts that contained "very undesirable" terms, several hundred Nokia workers did not go to work this week, and instead went on strike. This contracts were drawn up after Nokia came to terms with Microsoft on the new deal. As of now, almost 100 employees have lost their jobs from not showing up to work, which has caused the remaining workers to be joined by new strikers who have all said they will strike until something is done about these new contracts. One employee said that, "They have no grounds for firing us. We've already chosen this road to walk on, so we'll stick with it."
Now, a no-call no-show is grounds for firing in any state I have worked in, although rules in China might be a bit different; I'd imagine they'd be more harsh, though. At any rate, Nokia spokesman Doug Dawson has said that these employees were terminated because they didn't come to work, plain and simple. He did add that Nokia has already spoken with employees over the past couple of days to "explain the situation and dispel the many rumors and false statements." Naturally, a handful of workers have said that did not occur.
On the issue, Nokia said in a statement,
We continue our efforts to engage a small group of employees in our Dongguan facility who are demanding a severance package - for jobs they have not lost and which continue to offer the same salary and benefits. The vast majority of employees are at work. Our manufacturing operations in Dongguan continue. We have also adjusted our operations in our other manufacturing facilities.
So what happens next? All of the employees might be fired, or adversely, Nokia will draw up new contracts in order to limit the damage from this making the news. Either way, it looks like the protests will continue until one of those two things happen.read more...
posted Saturday Nov 23, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
Kaz Hirai has been at the head of the Sony ship for quite some time now, and has led the charge of turning around the company. His idea of a revival plan coupled with several purchases that were key to Sony's future success made everything appear like Hirai would be able to right the ship. However, after numbers were still in the red and Sony's board rejected the proposal to spin off its media division, Sony has taken to drastic measures to save the company. The solution? Slashing the budget for the media division.
While the consumer electronics side of Sony has leveled off over the past year, movies like Smurfs 2 has seen Sony's media division plummet, and the numbers show in the box office. The board of directors must be confused as they have first decided to maintain the branch within Sony yet are now rumored to be cutting the budget by over $250 million after outspoken and prolific investors have made their concerns known. So the fix is that we'll see Sony take a "significant shift" from making terrible movies and will start putting more eggs into the television business.
Sony Pictures Co-Chairman Amy Pascal has said that "we are reducing the number of films we make." For consumers, that means a reduction of five movies released each year, down to 18 total that we'll see in theaters beginning in 2015. We'll also see the company reduce its summer blockbusters, if they can be called that, from nine to four, beginning next summer.
So what all is included in a $250 million budget cut? According to Sony Entertainment Chief Executive Michael Lynton it's "overhead and procurement" items being slashed from the expenditures.
We are in discussions with experts to help identify more efficient ways to do business in the future.
However, according to other sources close to the matter, it could be that Sony will be auctioning off some of its properties on the movie-side of things, specifically, Marvel brands. It's definitely beneficial to both Sony and Disney if Sony wants lots of money for things like Spider-Man, and Disney has the blank check ready to make all of it happen. And, if that rumor comes to fruition, we'd finally get the Civil War that we all know and need in our lives.
In hindsight, it seems that selling off the media division to Daniel Loeb's Third Point Hedge Fund, the leading shareholder of Sony, would've been the best option. Second best option would be to make better movies, because when films featuring Channing Tatum don't sell well, it's apparent that there's some serious problems in other places. So what'll happen in real life? We're not really sure but I'm sure we'll have an answer on an impromptu conference call that's supposed to take place next week. We'll be here to report any news coming our way.read more...
posted Thursday Nov 21, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
All of Sony's problems with the PlayStation 4 that I reported on last week might stem from one place: Foxconn. It would appear that the Chinese university students who were interning at the production facility and being subjected to extremely rough working conditions have fired back at the company. It's being rumored that these kids were responsible for hardware sabotage at Foxconn, including the PS4s and other high-end tech products.
A forum thread showed up with a person saying he was one of the students. The post has since been deleted but read,
Since Foxconn are not treating us well, we will not treat PS4 console well. The ps4 console we assemble can be turned on at best.
Judging from the problems we are seeing so far, that appears to be par for the course for some of the PS4s in the wild. 4Chan users have obviously been discussing these failures in the hardware since even before launch of the console, and have been heavily discussing the alleged sabotage as well.
A chinese guy posted on here like 2 weeks ago in really fractured english or translation, I can't remember and even had an image. He mentioned "PheonixStation 4" and that they have put a trace amount of lead in a good majority of the thermal paste used in the PS4 batches. He said this will mean heat won't dissapate quick enough for standby mode when the fans are programmed to a low RPM, and this will degrade the life of the CPU/GPU dramatically and also raise temps during operating by a few degrees more than normal.
Of course, you have to take everything on 4Chan with a grain of salt, however, someone later in the thread followed up by verifying the contents of the images posted.
...indeed there was a diagram with a clear mention of lead + thermal grease, which is obviously a bad (expletive) thing. Ideally, a genius thing, as the problem won't arise in QA shotgun tests of consoles as they're built, as the individual systems would need to be tested for more than an hour to really notice a difference in temps.
And, if you wanted proof in the pudding, a review by YouTuber Rick the Electronic Guy showed that the thermal paste was in pretty bad shape.
All right guys, to be frank, I was very disappointed with the thermal paste. The thermal paste was already a little hard and that's not good. That just means we're going to have problems right off the bat. So I'm actually very happy that I took mine apart...I knew Sony was going to go cheap on the thermal paste it was already hard on the inside, now there (sic) already having gpu issues on day one.
Other sources have also reported that students have sabotaged iPads, Macbooks and other Apple products as well, but those threads have since been deleted. All of this does seem to coincide with the many issues the PS4 is having already, and, the user has since updated the situation with a second thread on the matter that hasn't been deleted. You can check that out in the source link below. What do you think of all this? Can this be the thing that changes the economic future for China, now that so many problems with Foxconn have come down to true sabotage in American-purchased products? Sound off in the comments section below.read more...