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 Sep 28, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
For those of you who might not have known by now, Steve Ballmer has stepped down as an executive board member for Microsoft after relinquishing the title of CEO to Satya Nadella earlier this year. One of the reasons he publicly mentioned for his stepping down as a board member was to devote more time to his other endeavors like teaching and his humanitarian efforts. Another one of those projects is his ownership of the NBA team, the LA Clippers. Now, he's setting aside a lot of time to permanently remove all remnants of Apple products from the team.
One thing Ballmer has promised as new owner is that he is going to ensure that his loyal Clippers fan will have "the best experience and that is not just the best in L.A." If you're on a smartphone or tablet, Ballmer said the fan's stay in the Staples Center will be unlike any other. To that end, he doesn't want an iPad, iPhone or any other iDevice or "Apple Device" in sight.
Most of the Clippers on are Windows, some of the players and coaches are not. And Doc (Rivers, the coach of the team) kind of knows that's a project. It's one of the first things he said to me: 'We are probably going to get rid of these iPads, aren't we?' And I said, 'Yeah, we probably are.' But I promised we would do it during the off season.
Especially after the NFL butchering the $400 million deal with Microsoft only to have the announcers call Surfaces iPads, one could assume that Ballmer doesn't want to repeat that debacle in his own arena and team. How will he ease out the Apple usage? We're not sure yet, but it's rumored it'll be through lots of pressure and yelling something about developers. Who knows, maybe he'll even fine players unwilling to change. It could be a new form of, "if you don't like it, don't play here and leave!" After all, Steve Ballmer is a man of character and is never known to do anything with half-effort. And if he's ever involved in a project, you know he's going to do it big.
In fact, Ballmer set a new record by purchasing the team for four times more than any other team has been sold for - a cool $2 billion. After purchasing the team, he held a pep rally, where I assume nobody on the team knew who he was other than "former Microsoft CEO." This is all due to the video of the pep rally that I watched, where the row of NBA stars were in shock by Ballmer's
Photo courtesy of Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports.read more...
posted Sunday Sep 28, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
Heello, Yo, and now Ello. The rise of social networks and apps to get away from the norm of Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter has been so rampant (and sometimes stupid) lately that it feels like everyone has been taking a shot at cashing in on the new dot-com bust. Regardless of your opinions on social networking and what you think of previous apps, Ello is actually interesting in that is accomplishes two things. First, it's actually different. And second, it's set up in sort of a pay-to-win deal.
So, what is Ello? Well, it's a new social network, but one whose focus is not on getting you to sign up just to be an ad puppet. In fact, Ello's designer Paul Budnitz said that there is a definitive no-ads policy for the site. People must like it, as Ello is getting over 27,000 requests an hour. Of course, brands have picked up on this and have signed up, too, but as Budnitz put it, he's not concerned.
If you don't like what a brand posts, even if it's all ads, you don't have to follow them.
It may sound like taking the easy way out, but unlike Facebook and now Twitter, Ello will never show you something from somebody you don't follow. Ever. Ello also says it allow sponsored tweets or other enhanced promotion methods the other sites are doing as well.
So, if it's has no ads, how will Ello make money? There's a small caveat in the service and one that almost feels like it takes a page directly from EA's book. It's also something services like Diaspora and App.net have tried but did not go over so well. The main-stay of Ello is free, however if you want to try something more than the basics, you're going to pay for it. Want multiple accounts tied to one login? You pay for it. Ello says it will have a bunch of features like that, and each will have a different cost. It's a great option for those who don't want or need every feature of a social network but still want to enjoy a service. And, for those who do want them, they have to pay. It keeps the ads off the site and the users happy, but I can't help but think of a free-to-play game with an ingrained notion that you have to pay to really get the full experience.
Beyond that, Ello is unique. I've come across dozens of truly interesting profile pages, each with their own design, flare and feel. People have put a lot of work into their pages and Ello lets you pretty much make it look how you want. For your name, Ello doesn't care. Name yourself the Refreshing Penguin and Ello will let you. Searching Ello is easy, as you only have two options: Friends and Noise. Friends has pictures, long text and everything those you follow post. Noise is simply a grid of quick-hitting news sorted by most recent. One minor downfall is the lack of privacy settings, though. You can't block people nor can you report content that is inappropriate. It's unfortunate but controls for those things are coming soon, Budnitz says.
Overall, I'm still getting used to Ello and have only spent a short time with it so far. I plan on giving it an honest effort and seeing if I'll stick with using it. I think my friend good friend, Traveling Mamas creator Shannon DalPozzal put it best when she described Ello from her perspective.
Testing out ello.co, playing with it, sharing little nuggets of thoughts. Brings back the creativity for me. Longer than twitter, less noise than FB, bigger images than Instagram, it reminds me of that Eagle's song "Peaceful Easy Feeling" - Overall, it's different. And I like that.
I hope that in the long run Ello will remain different and not fall into the same trap everyone else does. After a while, most companies fade into the mix by copying the competition. If Ello doesn't want to say goodbye (you knew that was coming in this article, right?) then it needs to remain a stand-out. Have you tried Ello? Do you like it? Let me know in the comments.read more...
posted Sunday Sep 28, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
Two years ago, we mentioned that Netflix eclipsed one billion hours of streaming in a single month. Since that time, that number has steadily increased. Now, a new study has shown that Netflix users take binge watching to the extreme.
The Diffusion Group, a research and analysis firm, said that Netflix customers are streaming at an increased rate of 350 percent over the last ten quarterly measurements. To put that into perspective, users are now watching an average of 93 minutes per day, equating to 45GB of data gobbled up each month.
TDG added to the report, using Netflix's streaming volume data, that across the board the total number of hours watched per month exceeds the number of people on the planet. Over 7 billion hours of Netflix is streamed each month and that number has seen roughly a 2.5 percent increase each quarter since January of 2013.
What can attribute to the growing success of the company, even though businesses like FiOS and Comcast are throttling service? Since 2013, Netflix has been expanding across the globe. That month of January in 2013 is pretty significant for the company, as that was a time where 94 percent of all Netflix traffic came from the US. However as Netflix has grown internationally, as of the summer of this year, that number has dropped to only 72 percent. Countries like Germany and France have openly adopted the video-streaming service and are heavily on board.
It's also interesting to note that US customers stream their content at a rate of only 2.57Mbps - about 1GB of data consumed per hour - and if the FCC has its way, that number may sadly decrease unless you pay more per month to your ISP. Also, considering that in order to watch Netflix in Super HD you need between 6 and 8Mbps, it pains me to know most users aren't enjoying their movie-watching experience to its fullest potential.read more...
posted Sunday Sep 21, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
Earlier this year, Zynga said it would be shaking up its executive positions and since Don Mattrick took over as CEO, that's been a reality. Even through multiple quarters of missed projections, the company is still looking ahead. Now, two more senior developers have left the company and Zynga is bringing on new talent to fill the holes.
First, both senior vice presidents of games, Tim LeTourneau and Steve Parkis, have left the company. Their successes have been with all of the "Ville" games, specifically FarmVille. Also leaving the crew was the head of Social Slots, Maytal Olsha.
As we talked about in the past, new president of Zynga Studios Alex Garden was brought on in April, with the sole mission of hiring people from outside of the company that have different skillsets unrelated to gaming. In addition to that motive, Zynga will also be looking to give its existing employee new or expanded roles within the ranks. Jamie Davies, one of the critical members of the FarmVille franchise, will become the new vice president of games.
Externally, Zynga has brought in Tony Leech to be the new creative director. Leech's repertoire includes the role of producer for Hoodwinked and Escape from Planet Earth. Sketch artist, art director and production director for Pixar, Jim Pearson, will make his way over as art director for Zynga now. Start-up entertainment company Red Robot will see cofounder Pete Hawley fit into the GM and president of creative positions. Red Robot's John Davison has also joined the company as senior director of network content and has previously worked in the gaming industry press.
Zynga has also started up a new intellectual property, Zynga NaturalMotion. Julian Widdows, formerly with Codemasters Racing and the Dirt franchise will head up the team as general manager. Finally, a second GM has been added to NaturalMotion. Catherine Silvestre has begun employment at Zynga, and has previously worked for Warner Bros.
What do you think of all these additions? Will this put Zynga in a better position to fully understand its position in the space and move forward? Let us know in the comments below.read more...
posted Sunday Sep 21, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
Apple is fully aware that families use their products. Additionally, Apple is aware that some people like to pirate music and movies. When both of those facts, come together, you can sometimes get headaches, which is exactly what is happening with Apple's new Family Sharing feature on its iProducts.
With Family Sharing, you are able to add up to six family members to your account, allowing you to share media from iTunes and iCloud. It's kind of like the Xbox One's feature for sharing Xbox Live Gold membership with others on the home console. At any rate, it's a great idea to allow your family or room mates to enjoy content you've paid for. However, because Apple recognizes people like to pirate said media, apparently the company is preventing users from adding members to the plan for up to one full year.
The Apple forums are ablaze with reports that customers are unable to add members to the account. Specifically, there seems to be a bug where you are unable to share content to those who you've recently added to Family Sharing. For most people, simply removing and re-adding a person would make sense, but Apple doesn't want you removing people who just want to watch The Hangover during the weekend. So if you removed a person and want to add them back, you won't be able to for a calendar year. Woops.
Here's where it gets more interesting. A person is only allowed to be added to two "families" in the course of a year. Even if you leave a family to join a third, you won't be able to for, you guessed it, a full year.
Looking at it from the broader perspective, it makes sense that Apple would restrict people switching back and forth on these accounts. Those switching multiple times probably aren't using the Family Sharing for its intended purpose. However, these restrictions are quite heavy for Apple users, especially those who are trying to add people and aren't understanding why the feature isn't working. These are the same consumers who believed the iPhone 5 was waterproof and that the iPhone 6 can be charged by putting it in the microwave. If Apple didn't think its customer base wouldn't be confused by this new addition to their phone, and would be removing and re-adding people, then they clearly do not have a grasp on their demographic. Quick side note: has anyone actually microwaved their iPhone 6? How has that worked out for you?read more...
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