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Scott Ertz

Scott Ertz

Former Segment Host

Current Host

Current UpStream Contributor

Current Product Reviewer

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Scott is a development manager here at PLuGHiTz Corporation. He is the project lead for PLuGHiTz Gaming (DDRLover and CounterQuest) as well as PLuGHiTz Live!. Scott is most known for his time in the DDR World, both as a player and then for hosting and presenting tournaments in the Tampa, Florida area. Currently, his energies have been in the development of a few new sites for PLuGHiTz Corporation, as well as redeveloping some of our current sites.

Recent UpStream Articles

Hulu Loses Another Company-Owned Series to Netflix

posted Sunday Aug 31, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Hulu Loses Another Company-Owned Series to Netflix

I often wonder if Comcast (NBC), Disney (ABC) and News Corp. (FOX) remember that they jointly own Hulu. It is usually when a company makes an odd decision that helps a service that they are not involved with in a way that hurts Hulu. This week, we discover that Netflix has purchased the rights to stream NBC's 2013 top-rated new series The Blacklist.

This decision comes to us thanks to Sony Pictures TV, who retained the rights for post-season streaming, selling those rights to Netflix for a rumored $2 million per episode. If this number is correct, it would be the most expensive external per-episode series Netflix has ever been involved with. The Walking Dead cost them roughly $1.3 million per episode, Dexter cost them just shy of $2 million per episode, but this would be the first time to breach that $2 million mark.

If you somehow missed the series, NBC placed it in the post-The Voice anchor spot on Monday nights at 10PM, where they also originally launched Revolution, which lost its audience after they moved its night. The series' over-arching storyline and sometimes unpredictable characters released to NBC's largest audience of the season, and ended with the title of No. 1 new program.

In addition to these titles, it also earned another interesting title: most time shifted series of the season. This means that more people watched The Blacklist on DVR or Hulu than any other series. With that title, it is no surprise that Netflix would be interested in getting hold of the rights to this already time shifted series.

With the season 1 successes, NBC is going to try and revitalize Thursday night ratings, moving The Blacklist to ER's old slot at 10 PM after The Super Bowl, which will also be followed immediately by the series. While NBC is making a big broadcast deal about the James Spader led series, Sony Pictures TV is going to try for the same success in streaming on Netflix. If you haven't seen the show yet, you definitely should. It will be available starting September 7th.

read more...

Windows Live Messenger is Finally Completely Gone

posted Sunday Aug 31, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Windows Live Messenger is Finally Completely Gone

In 2012, Microsoft announced that it was closing Windows Live Messenger, also known as MSN Messenger, worldwide in favor of its then recently acquired Skype. There was only a single exception: mainland China. While there was no real explanation at the time as to why China was keeping the outdated service which, obviously, would no longer allow out-of-country communication, it was accepted as just another China thing.

As it turns out, the service was operated by a separate company in mainland China, and therefore was not included as part of the abandonment. That Microsoft brand was unable to handle the mobile messaging craze without the support of the parent company, and Chinese users have found more their way over to apps like WhatsApp in exchange for Messenger. Because of this, the final shutdown was inevitable.

The most popular name in the platform for China, though relatively unknown outside, is WeChat, a product developed by Tencent. The product is so popular in China, in fact, that the Chinese counterpart to TechCrunch, TechNode, has a QR code for their corporate WeChat account on the sidebar of their website. If an AOL partner, which still operates AOL Instant Messenger, is using the service over their partner's service, you know the size and scope of the service.

WeChat's developer, Tancent, has a VP who was originally part of Microsoft's MSN service, heading up the Chinese version of MSN Spaces and MSN Shopping. He left in 2006 to build MSN competitors at Tencent. It could explain why WeChat is having the success that they are, having both the backing of a Chinese company and the leadership of someone who knows the inner workings of MSN.

Either way, it is a sad day knowing that the bubbly blue and green icon is officially over worldwide.

read more...

Rovio Responding to Market Issues with New CEO

posted Sunday Aug 31, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Rovio Responding to Market Issues with New CEO

First to market is almost never an indicator of overall success in a market. For example, look at the fate of Palm and BlackBerry. Or, where is Myspace today? Mostly relegated to the pages of history. This phenomenon has also affected the casual gaming industry.

As an example, let's look at Zynga, who has not had a successful quarter in what seems like years. Just because they helped to take casual games mainstream doesn't mean they know how to handle the success or to pivot as the industry changes. Another company at the head of the casual trend was Rovio, whose Angry Birds franchise became a worldwide success quickly with sequels constantly coming out. Their early success was so great that even Lucas got involved, licensing Star Wars for one of the many sequels.

Unfortunately, as the casual gaming world has switched from a pay-for-game model to a freemium model, Rovio has had a lot of trouble adapting. Their platform has tried to adjust to this particular change, but they have still had no luck in generating revenue, which has led to a management change at the company. CEO Mikael Hed will be stepping down this year, to be replaced by Nokia veteran and current Chief Commercial Officer Pekka Rantala. Mr. Hed said of his time as CEO (in which he usually wore a red Angry Birds hoodie in public,

It has been an amazing ride. In the coming months, I will be very happy to pass the hoodie to Pekka Rantala, who will take Rovio to the next level.

This change serves to highlight an overall problem in the gaming industry, which has been more prevalent in the new social startups than even the established developers. The issue is an inability to change the thing that made them popular when they got started to adjust to a changing marketplace. While Rovio has had trouble with freemium, Zynga has had trouble backing away from Facebook. Both of these companies will have responded, maybe successfully, by changing the leadership that kept them in the dark.

Big developers have the same issues, often focusing down on a single franchise until it inevitably sinks the ship. Activision had previously focused on Guitar Hero, until ultimately disbanding the brand, only to replace it with Call of Duty. They then purchased Blizzard, which has a soft spot for the franchise, with a particular focus on World of Warcraft. If the revenue from that game were to suddenly disappear, the company would certainly fold.

Unfortunately no franchise can survive forever; people eventually want diversity, and a never-changing game is not the way to achieve it. Hopefully Rovio will be able to figure out how to take advantage of a freemium model with new management.

read more...

Telegrams Go Viral with Crazy New App

posted Sunday Aug 31, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Telegrams Go Viral with Crazy New App

So, this one is pretty weird. Miranda July believes that technology is far too impersonal, and wants to change it to the far extreme: making technology the conduit for personal communications, with a twist. Instead of calling your friend on the phone and having a fairly human-to-human interaction, July has developed a application that allows you to send a text message to a stranger, who will then find your friend and deliver the message verbally. July describes it,

The antithesis of the utilitarian efficiency that tech promises, here, finally, is an app that makes us nervous, giddy, and alert to the people around us.

Now, to be fair, if a stranger walked up to me in public and relayed a message as if they know me, nervous would not quite describe my reaction. On the other hand, I could pretend I am a secret agent receiving an assignment, so there is an aspect of not terrifying involved, I suppose.

Luckily, in reality, you get a warning that you will be approached by a stranger. Here's how the app works: you pick your friend from your contact list and ask them if they are available, then you choose your messenger from a list of participants around your contact. You can see photos, reviews and success rates for the deliverer, helping you decide whom to use. You then send the message, a photo and instructions to your agent so they can find the person to whom they will deliver the message.

Clearly, this little project only works if there are people around using the app. Since the app is only available on iOS, your selection of delivery agents will be very limited. To try and overcome this limitation, there is a concept of a hotspot, which is essentially a place for people to go to deliver and receive these incredibly off messages. While several liberal arts colleges have set up hotspots, anyone can register one, at concerts, conventions, etc.

You have probably already figured out that this is less of a messaging platform and more of a distributed performance art platform. July said,

Unpredictable, undocumented, fleeting interactions with strangers can bring great joy and inspiration! Pretending to be someone else is liberating. The feeling is a little like Truth or Dare and Charades.

I don't know if this is enough of a reason to create an awkward, uncomfortable stranger meetup, but if this seems like your thing, you can get the app from the source link.

read more...

Congressional Wikipedia Vandal Faces Another Ban

posted Sunday Aug 24, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Congressional Wikipedia Vandal Faces Another Ban

For some reason, Congressional staffers love to spend time editing Wikipedia. Often times these edits are innocuous, but from time to time they can be material edits to content. Occasionally, those edits are not only material, but inflammatory. Fortunately for those of us who rely on the information on Wikipedia, the organization has a process for dealing with these edits.

If a registered user makes edits that are not in the best interest of the information, a moderator has the ability to prevent that user from making further edits, either to the particular topic or as a whole. Unfortunately, there is also the ability to make edits anonymously; this creates a whole different issue.

Firstly, the ability to edit anonymously creates a scenario in which someone can make an edit without any accountability. Once you remove the accountability, for some you also remove the humanity. Secondly, how do you handle content vandalism when the edit is made anonymously?

That topic has come to the forefront thanks to some anonymous Congressional edits that are considered vandalism. From a member of the House of Representatives staff comes an edit to the page for Netflix series Orange is the New Black which shows off a special type of stupidity. The change revolves around series regular Sophia Burset, who is a transgendered character, played by Laverne Cox. The original text read, "played by a real transgender woman" but was edited to read, "played by a real man pretending to be a woman."

Obviously the response in the talk page to this edit was not positive. Other Wikipedia users are calling for the IP address of the editor to be banned from Wikipedia entirely. This would not be the first time this IP has had a ban on it, though. It just recently came off of a ban, which was followed almost immediately by this edit. The editor believes that they are being targeted because the community does not agree with their opinion, which they have forced into the page, and therefore they are calling it vandalism. Other members claim that the offense is in the addition of opinion where, before, there was only well-defined words used.

Whether you agree with the editor's wording agenda or not, it is hard to argue the fact that the edit injected opinion where there was none before.

read more...

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