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 Aug 31, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
With the onslaught of data breaches happening lately, both online and in-store, it almost feels like nothing is safe anymore. You might be feeling a bit skeptical about even stepping foot outside or on the Web, and you might have good reason for feeling that way. This week, a report has come out that could make your palms sweat a little more. Even if you have a secure Wi-Fi password or PIN code for your one-touch WPS option, hackers can still crack the code in under a second.
Swiss researcher 0xcite released a new way to gain entry to those routers with pesky passwords. By simply going around the Wi-Fi Protected Setup button and using offline algorithms and calculations, instead of guessing for a PIN code for hours on end, you can now just take one guess to get in. And usually, you're into the router in the blink of an eye.
How does it work? Well, the presentation in the source link below has the finer details, but the gist of it is that there is an exploit that is found within some similar chipsets used in a lot of routers. The good news is that all routers aren't affected, but those using Broadcom chipsets and ones from another unnamed company can be at risk. The undisclosed company is currently working rapidly on a fix, which is part of the reason it's not being identified.
The Wi-Fi Alliance, the organization responsible for standards and practices in the world of wireless, has said that the vulnerability is probably due more on how a company sets up its wireless networking features and less on Wi-Fi itself. The Alliance has added that users should immediately turn off their WPS setup option and accept that dealing with a secure password might be a better option for now. Wi-Fi Alliance spokeswoman Carol Carrubba explained,
A vendor implementation that improperly generates random numbers is more susceptible to attack, and it appears as though this is the case with at least two devices. It is likely that the issue lies in the specific vendor implementations rather than the technology itself. As the published research does not identify specific products, we do not know whether any Wi-Fi certified devices are affected, and we are unable to confirm the findings.
Broadcom has not commented on the matter yet but 0xcite said they've reached out to both Broadcom and the other company to immediately fix the flaw. Nothing has been stated on a turnaround time for a patch to the problem as of yet, so it's on the user to protect themselves for now.read more...
posted Sunday Aug 31, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
One of the great and positive accomplishments of the Internet is the ability to save pieces of history forever. This happens every day on the Web, but one of the major projects has been archiving photographs from as early as 1500 onto Yahoo's newly renovated Flickr. The idea was that 14 million images from the Internet Archive Blog would be preserved on Flickr by Kalev Leetaru, a technology scholar. This week, the Flickr account eclipsed 2.5 million images that can now be searched, viewed and shared.
Leetaru has taken the task of scouring through 600 million pages in the Internet Archive, with help of course, in order to showcase history in a new and interesting way via Flickr. Previously, if one wanted to look at the 1600s version of Lolcats, the task would've proven more difficult. Now, within a few clicks, you can quickly take a glimpse into the past through a vast array of imagery.
As Leetaru puts it, for too long the Internet has been concerned with simply scanning in text and keeping that in PDF form.
For all these years all the libraries have been digitising their books, but they have been putting them up as PDFs or text searchable works. They have been focusing on the books as a collection of words. This inverts that.
The images he's after range from 1500 to 1922, when copyright laws place limitations on the ability to simply scan and preserve works of art and other media. Leetaru also developed him own software to accomplish this goal. Instead of previous OCR software that is able to ignore pictures, his code actually takes that information to specifically target images to save as individual files. The software is then able to snag a caption for each image, when applicable, and can grab the text right before and after the image as well. After that's done, the software automatically posts the image to Flickr, text included.
All of this came to be after Leetaru worked on a communications technology project at Georgetown University, where the research was funded by Yahoo, which explains how Flickr became the method of choice. "Stretching half a millennia, it's amazing to see the total range of images and how the portrayals of things have changed over time," he said. What's even cooler is the ability to type "cat" or "telephone" and you're then able to see all images that fall under the specific tag.
Leetaru has added that he wants to see Wikipedia and other common license organizations get involved with his Flickr endeavor so that all media can be tagged and categorized so it can be easily searched. Have you viewed the page yet? There's some pretty incredible images from over 300 years ago. What's your favorite? Let us know in the comments section below.read more...
posted Friday Aug 29, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
So it turns out the entire Internet was wrong, including us, and Google didn't actually buy Twitch. All the changes just seemed to be coincidence, as it was announced this week that Amazon stepped in and laid out $970 million for the video game streaming service.
It seems that Google was in talks with Twitch for some time, but when the two companies discussed possible anti-trust issues, something Google is extremely familiar with, the sides could not come to an agreement on a "break-up" fee in case the deal couldn't go through. When that happened, Twitch continued to shop around and Amazon was in the wings the whole time. Amazon's $970 million check makes Twitch the largest aquisition for the company.
So what happens now? Obviously this maintains competition in the market and puts Google on the defensive. Twitch seemed to be the clear answer for YouTube's failing YouTube Live service, and now Google will have to come up with an alternative plan to attract new content creators. Of course, there's other competition like Hitbox, and Vimeo is also considering a stronger push to live content, but YouTube is now in a position of do-or-die.
For Twitch, this is good news all around. More server support, more resources and the ability to continue to grow are what comes to the table from Amazon. Twitch CEO Emmett Shear puts it all into perspective for us on why this all went down.
We chose Amazon because they believe in our community, they share our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster. We're keeping most everything the same: our office, our employees, our brand, and most importantly our independence. But with Amazon's support we'll have the resources to bring you an even better Twitch.
My outlook on this whole thing is much more optimistic than it was two weeks ago. YouTube picking up Twitch was going to make most gamers very sad, however the myriad of changes that Twitch implemented since the rumors started aren't going away. So what will happen now? Content creators didn't really leave Twitch, despite their threats from last week, so hopefully this news will entice them to stay. Twitch is still breaking records, too, and we'll probably see more growth, unique viewers and new channels coming to the service by the end of the year.read more...
posted Sunday Aug 24, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO and now the owner of the NBA's LA Clippers, has officially stepped down as a board member with Microsoft this week, effective immediately. In an open letter to new CEO Satya Nadella, Ballmer mentions that his six month mark of retirement is coming up and he's had a lot of time to reflect on what he's done and what he wants to do moving forward.
Given my confidence and the multitude of new commitments I am taking on now, I think it would be impractical for me to continue to serve on the board, and it is best for me to move off. The fall will be hectic between teaching a new class and the start of the NBA season so my departure from the board is effective immediately.
After buying the Clippers for $2 billion, I figured the team would occupy his time, especially considering he paid four times more for a basketball team than anyone else ever has. And as mentioned in the letter, he's also going to be teaching. Ballmer will be teaching an MBA class, STRAMGT588: Leading organizations, for the Stanford School of Business come fall. Then in the spring he will move over to USC's Marshall School of Business.
Ballmer left Nadella some encouraging words, saying that Microsoft will have to be "bold" and "make big bets" in order to remain on top. He also said that he still believes in the company's mobile-first and cloud-first approach. As far as his shares, Ballmer will remain as a shareholder and still wants to give his opinion on new ideas.
Count on me to keep ideas and inputs flowing. The company will move to higher heights. I will be proud, and I will benefit through my share ownership. I promise to support and encourage boldness by management in my role as a shareholder in any way I can.
In response, Nadella thanked Ballmer for his contributions and assistance during the CEO transition, wishing him the best of luck in the future.
As you embark on your new journey, I am sure that you will bring the same boldness, passion and impact to your new endeavors that you brought to Microsoft, and we wish you incredible success. I also look forward to partnering with you as a shareholder.
What do you make of all of this? Is there an underlying reason that Ballmer would leave everything but his shares of Microsoft? Or is he really going to be too busy to contribute effectively? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.read more...
posted Friday Aug 22, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
With Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Redbox owning the video-streaming service without needing to rely on customers having an active cable subscription, it would only make sense for companies tied to those cable companies to want a piece of the action. It also isn't surprising that financial groups are starting to talk about the benefit of those endeavors. This is why Barclays Capital issued a report this week saying that if HBO would sell its programming - something we all have thought would happen at some point soon - the company could make an additional $600 million per year.
The report contains the inner-workings of Barclays' analysts showcasing a bunch of different plans that could lead HBO to providing either a direct service to customers or having other companies buy its content, all while keeping cable providers happy. In one of the scenarios, HBO content would be able to be streamed at $11 per month, but the content would only be available for six to twelve months after the shows air on the network's cable offering. In other case, all HBO content would be readily available indefinitely but customers might have to pay higher than the $15 per month they pay to cable companies, about $18 a month.
If HBO chose to go with the less expensive model, Barclays analysts predict that somewhere between 4.5 and 7 million homes would pick up HBO at only $11 a month. Only 300,000 to 800,000 might opt for an $18 per month package. However, Kannan Venkateshwar, the creator of the report, says that if HBO were to offer both packages on a tiered system, HBO could rake in about $600 million each year. As a reference, HBO made about $1.7 billion in 2013.
As we've even said on the show, it makes total sense for HBO to offer its own service outside of HBO GO, which currently requires an active cable subscription and HBO subscription for the service to work. And HBO is becoming less affordable to most consumers, as cable bills are constantly on the rise. A standalone Netflix-style business model could open up huge opportunities for this current trend of cable cutters. However, cable companies would take notice quickly and may put up more of a fight than Barclays might be willing to admit.
What do you think? Would you subscribe to HBO video-streaming if you didn't have to be tied to a cable company? Do you currently have cable to have HBO Go? Let us know your situation in the comments below.read more...
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