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Scott Ertz

Scott Ertz

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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

Amazon Increases Media Holdings, Buys ComiXology

posted Sunday Apr 13, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Amazon Increases Media Holdings, Buys ComiXology

Just weeks after Marvel spiced up their digital comics offerings, another major change has come to the digital comics world. Amazon has purchased popular digital comic distributor, ComiXology, for an undisclosed figure. ComiXology can be best described as Kindle for comics, allowing people to purchase digital versions of their favorite comic series through the store and app.

David Steinberger, co-founder and chief executive of ComiXology, said,

ComiXology's mission is to spread the love of comics and graphic novels in all forms. There is no better home for ComiXology than Amazon to see this vision through.

The addition of ComiXology to the Amazon family will certainly bolster the growing reach of Amazon's digital distribution. Already including music, audiobooks, video and eBooks, the one major content type missing from their lineup was comics.

It is unclear which ownership model Amazon will take with ComiXology: the fully-integrated Audible style, or the completely unbranded AbeBooks style. Either probably offers Amazon a lot in return, but my guess is that, for now, the team will be left alone to do what they do best, while having the resources of Amazon to help them along their way.

Do you currently use ComiXology? Will this purchase affect that decision, either way? Let us know in the comments.

read more...

Prenda Law Dealt Another Blow in Appeals Court

posted Sunday Apr 13, 2014 by Scott Ertz

The Prenda Law story has been so ridiculous that I am proud to get to cover it. Prenda is, for lack of a better term, a copyright troll, who files lawsuits against individuals for pirating pornography for which they own the rights. Last year The Pirate Bay, the world's largest torrent list, revealed that they had traced the torrents in question in Prenda's largest lawsuit directly to Prenda, suggesting that they planted these torrents to allow them to file this suit.

Shortly after this revelation, Comcast joined the research, confirming the suspicions that the IP addresses used to list the torrents in question were those of Prenda Law's own John Steele. The IP was also linked to forum members on various sites who had shared pro-Prenda sentiments.

During oral arguments in the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, Prenda was dealt a series of blows to their case. The three judges overseeing the case continually interrupted Daniel Voelker, the lawyer for Steele, Hansmeier, and Duffy, challenging his statements. Judge Diane Sykes even asked a fairly simple question that would be essential to the case,

Can you describe to me, in 25 words or less, what the relationship is among these various firms: Steele Hansmeier PLLC, Prenda Law, Alpha Law?

This organization was the one identified by Comcast as the owner of the IP address used to upload the torrents, as well as to access John Steele's personal GoDaddy account. Voelker's response did not help his case,

I can't, Your Honor. I don't know. I don't know what it is today, I don't know what it was a year ago.

Sykes responded saying, "That is shocking."

This relationship has been a large issue in previous appeals courts as well as initial trials. It has, in fact, ended Prenda with sanctions from more than one court, including the lower court, which is the case being appealed in this instance. While Voelker tries to accuse the lower judge of making decisions based on facts not in evidence,

{Murphy} found that the attorneys had a 'relentless willingness to lie,' and there's no support for that in the record. He also found that they're 'starving attorneys with shattered law practices.' Those are basically facts that the district court in California found based upon Internet research.

Judge Diane Wood does not seem to agree, however, saying,

Some of these misrepresentations were in front of him, though. There's an overall concern that this was a proceeding in bad faith. It's kind of an attempt to hold up these 6,600 people (and) see who will settle. It's a troublesome record.

So, while the case is far from over, this is not looking good for Prenda, even after just the first day.

read more...

GameSpy Shutting Down, Matchmaking for 70 Titles to End Officially

posted Sunday Apr 13, 2014 by Scott Ertz

GameSpy Shutting Down, Matchmaking for 70 Titles to End Officially

At one point, GameSpy was a large provider of online gaming middle-tier software for matchmaking and other services popular among PC games. With a decline in PC gaming during the height of the last generation of consoles and an increase in home-grown services, the market for this type of service dropped significantly. With that, GameSpy has had trouble remaining alive, and will be shutting down their services entirely at the end of May.

Not since Microsoft finally shut down support for original Xbox games have we seen a blackout of high profile games this large. Reddit has been keeping a list of affected games, and the highlights of the list are intense:

  • Battlefield 2142
  • Battlefield 1942
  • Borderlands
  • Civilization IV
  • Crysis
With so many well-known, high-profile titles, there was little chance the Internet was going to let this happen. As we say often, most recently during our Gulf Coast MakerCon coverage, where something sucks, a product is born. The product born, or in this case spotlighted, of this shutdown is a service called GameRanger.

GameRanger has been around since 1999, but has not had nearly the overall need until now. The service matches the capabilities of GameSpy, though some features, such as voice chat, only exist with a premium account. But, for those who continue to play these games, the capability to continue playing, even if it costs you a little per month, is probably worth it, though you could continue playing without the premium account and get creative to fill-in the missing pieces.

Currently, the GameRanger creator seems confident in his service's capabilities - almost. There are a number of games he has concerns about, including Arma 2 and Crysis, but reminds people that the service supports over 500 titles.

GameRanger isn't the only solution to this newfound problem, as Bohemia is working on an Arma 2 support system to replace GameSpy, and they are not the only developer working to patch games to remove the issue. Do you play any of the games affected by the GameSpy shutdown? Let us know in the comments.

read more...

Final Approval for Microsoft-Nokia Deal Received

posted Sunday Apr 13, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Final Approval for Microsoft-Nokia Deal Received

Since announcing the Nokia devices business acquisition by Microsoft 7 months ago, the two companies have had a number of hurdles to jump over from various governments around the world. Microsoft seemed to think the hardest issue would be an Indian production plant that was behind on taxes. Unfortunately, after solving that issue, the deal was still not final.

This week, the last of around 16 regulatory approvals was received from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), similar to the US Federal Trade Commission. This hold-up delayed the estimated March 23 completion date until this month over anti-trust issues. David Howard, Microsoft corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Litigation and Antitrust, said of the delay,

There was an important principle with which MOFCOM approached these discussions from the beginning: Any commitments should be focused on how our future conduct might change after we own the Nokia Devices and Services business, and should not impact our licenses signed in the past or historical practices.

Clearly, MOFCOM is now satisfied that Microsoft will continue to support all agreements between both companies and the Chinese government. This would include, against some theories, retaining the newly announced Nokia X series, an Android Open Source Project-based handset whose custom interface is a hybrid between Microsoft's Windows Phone and Nokia's Asha. This new system is designed to be the transitional handset between Asha for emerging markets and Windows Phone for established markets, such as the Chinese wireless market.

With all of the regulatory approvals now completed, we can expect to see the Nokia brand officially join the Microsoft family in short order, with Stephen Elop, current Nokia head, taking over the Microsoft devices business, including Lumia, Surface and Xbox.

read more...

Disney Interactive Launches New Star Wars 'Card Game'

posted Sunday Mar 30, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Disney Interactive Launches New <i>Star Wars</i> 'Card Game'

After Disney purchased Lucasfilm, they almost immediately shut down Lucasarts and sold the rights to game development to Electronic Arts. Well, the fruits of those efforts have come to light with Disney Interactive releasing a new Star Wars casual game that certainly feels like it was developed by EA.

Star Wars: Assault Team is a game designed to be a digital "trading card game" that feels a little card game and a little Final Fantasy, which sounds great, right? Well, add to that the fact that the game is available on iOS, Android, Windows Store and Windows Phone, it means it can literally played anywhere. Could it get better? Yes - with PvP abilities, you can play against other players all over the world. So, that makes the game a total success, right?

Unfortunately, no. While, from the outside, so much of the game seems well through out, once you start playing, that seems to end quickly. For example, say you have a Windows Phone and a Surface. Start the game on your Surface, get through the end of the first level and try and pick up the game on your phone, both signed-in with the same Microsoft account. You know what you get to do? Start over. There appears to be no state-saving whatsoever.

Now, accept your fate and decide to continue playing on your Surface in a restaurant on your lunch break. That restaurant had better have Wi-Fi, because without Internet connectivity, the game cannot be played at all. So, the game must have an always-on Internet connection, but doesn't use the Internet to connect your devices to anything. That makes sense.

So, no Internet connection, no ability to continue on your phone, what are you to do? It's time to waste what is left of your lunch break on Facebook, browsing through the random nonsense your friends have posted. Then you come across a Facebook ad for a new game: Star Wars: Assault Team. Of course, because the universe is just taunting you now, right? You click on the ad and it says that the game is Facebook integrated on mobile. Sure, so the game knows who you are, either from Facebook or your Microsoft account, but still has no way to sync your game between two devices using the exact same information.

Now, none of this is to say the game is no fun to play; that is mostly what we will discuss next. The game is really campy and the character collection is odd: with dragons and lizards, but maintaining Han Solo and Chewbacca. A lot of the story line feels like one of those arcade shooters where, every time you clear a room, it navigates on its own to the next room in a pre-planned order.

However, the ability to level-up your cards and edit your team from level to level makes for an interesting dynamic. The battle mechanics are also modeled after some of the best turn-based strategy games, making it quite addicting. That addiction is what makes the lack of device syncing so incredibly frustrating - I want to be able to play the game in different scenarios, but am completely unable to.

Have you tried out the game? If so, what platform and what are your opinions on the game? Let me know in the comments.

read more...

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