The UpStream

Microsoft Reportedly Testing Own Smartphone Design with Asian Suppliers?

posted Saturday Nov 3, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Microsoft Reportedly Testing Own Smartphone Design with Asian Suppliers?

Anticipation has been gradually increasing since Microsoft's announcement of Windows Phone 8 back in June, which obviously means that rumors were soon going to follow. In particular, many wanted to know if Microsoft would release their own "Surface phone" of sorts. As we moved closer to the WinPho 8 event, we learned about third-party devices like the Lumia 920 and 820, the HTC 8X/S and even Samsung was getting into the game. Through all of that, Microsoft was adament that they had no interest in building their own smartphone. However we are now learning that perhaps that was all a smokescreen for a bigger picture.

Reports are flying in that Microsoft is already in the process of quality testing its own branded smartphone with suppliers in Asia. Sources close to the situation are saying that the screen will be between four and five inches and will be completely competitive with the phones that are out in the market today. The interesting thing to note here is that Microsoft is reportedly into the test phase of its design process, which means this smartphone has been on the drawing board, I'd imagine, since the inception of the Surface itself.

There is no word yet on if the device will go into mass production, but one could assume that would all be gauged on the success of WinPho 8 from Microsoft's hardware partners. If Nokia, Samsung and HTC do extremely well, it is possible Microsoft would hold on releasing their own version, as they could put their faith into the manufacturers. If sales start to slip, however, I could see Microsoft stepping in and pushing this alleged phone to market at a rapid pace. I've discussed at length on our show that Microsoft may have to set the standard with Windows Phone 8 in the same way that they are shaping the tablet world with Surface.

The big question here is if the phone is actually real. If it is, then it would seem that Microsoft has taken a page out of Apple's book as far as developing both hardware and software for its platform. If this all turns out to be true, is a Windows-branded television and desktop computer on the way as well? Nokia has its phones hitting shelves very soon, with others following suit before Thanksgiving and the sales could definitely push Microsoft one way or the other on this. What do you think will happen? Post your comments (from a Windows 8 device if you have one) below.

Portal 2 In Motion Coming to PS3

posted Friday Nov 2, 2012 by Scott Ertz

<i>Portal 2 In Motion</i> Coming to PS3

No, this post is not from 2011 - Portal 2 is coming to PlayStation 3, but in a new and exciting way. Sixense will be releasing Portal 2 In Motion, a PS3-exclusive DLC for the original title, this Tuesday for $9.99. The DLC, along with the digital-download version of the game, have been remade by Sixense to work with PlayStation Move.

Sixense worked with Valve to bring full motion control to both the DLC and original game, to bring a new and exciting control scheme to the title. Along with the new control scheme comes new actual gameplay mechanics, including object rotation, portal surfing and scaling. As all control capabilities in Portal titles, you will need to master these capabilities in order to get through the new campaign, of course meaning you will have to rethink the way you solve puzzles.

The release of the DLC comes at the same time as the digital download version of the game for PSN, both of which will get a 30% discount for PlayStation Plus members. If you already own the Blu-Ray version of the game, you will receive the Move-powered controls via a downloadable patch, but only Portal 2 In Motion will include the new, motion-specific gameplay controls.

As a long time fan of the series, the addition of any new elements to the gameplay is exciting. Repulsion and propulsion gels were a welcome addition to the second installment, as was the radio challenge in the PC version of the original. Adding motion control, along with the new motion-specific controls for In Motion means new ways to challenge yourself with puzzles, and new ways to try and complete puzzles you thought you might have run out of ideas for. On the other hand, if the controls don't work well, it could be another Lair.

Are you going to pick up Portal 2 In Motion on Tuesday or wait and see how well it works? Let us know in the comments.

Porn to Cost Virginia Man $1.5 Million

posted Friday Nov 2, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Porn to Cost Virginia Man $1.5 Million

Porn can be an extremely expensive habit, especially if you pay for it. Uploading it to the Internet can be even more expensive, as one Virginia man has come to discover this week. About a year ago, Kywan Fisher and several others were sued by Flava Works for copyright infringement. It was claimed that the defendants uploaded porn videos owned by the company to Internet sites for free download. Flava Works, who is known to be litigious, appeared in court this week, where defendant Fisher did not. That was his mistake.

For failing to appear, the judge imposed the maximum penalty of $1.5 million. That is a pretty steep price, especially when you consider the fact that Fisher is only charged with uploading 10 files from Flava Works. The company says it can definitely prove that the defendant was responsible, claiming the company "has proprietary software that assigns a unique encrypted code to each member of plaintiff's paid websites. In this case, every time the defendant downloaded a copy of a copyrighted video from plaintiff's website, it inserts an encrypted code that is only assigned to defendant."

While clever, it is not exactly a new concept. In fact, the concept is called DRM (see the title of our media segment on F5 Live). Even with DRM being commonplace, many cases like this have not been successful, and yet the judge chose to impose the maximum fine despite seemingly circumstantial evidence. This cost, when spread over the 3,449 downloads claimed, works out to $435 per download - a pretty steep fee for an industry that lives in the $9.99 price range.

So, why was the penalty so steep? If I had to guess, I would imagine that the judge was not pleased that the defendant did not even show up for his trial. Because of that, it is my guess that the judge chose the $150,000 per download (for "willful" infringement) instead of the more reasonable $750 minimum that could have been imposed. This is a case of a federal judge making a point by making an example of a single defendant.

What do you think? Is it fair to impose a $1.5 million penalty on circumstantial evidence just to make a point? Sound off in the comments.

Ship Date Sort of Announced for Grand Theft Auto V

posted Thursday Nov 1, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Ship Date Sort of Announced for <i>Grand Theft Auto V</i>

It is official, sort of. Last week, Rockstar released a piece of in-game artwork for GTA V ahead of their "big reveal" this week. Unfortunately, due to leaks and a thing called the Internet, we were able to come up with what the big reveal was before their announcement. Also, it's not as big as one would think.

Either way, we now know that the next installment of the Grand Theft Auto series will take place in modern-day Los Santos, in sunny southern California. You may remember the 1990s version of Los Santos and the amazing, yet controversial protagonist, CJ Johnson from the San Andreas iteration, complete with gang warfare and low-rider bicycles. I'd expect to see Los Santos take on a new light and it'll be interesting to see how they move the city forward 20 years.

We were also informed that we will be able to pre-order the game on November 5th, but were only given a launch date of Spring 2013, which goes right along with developers' infatuations with that time of year. I should have known that Rockstar's "big reveal" would be something vague like that. Still, I'm excited to get my hands on this game as soon as it hits shelves. So will you be pre-ordering on November 5th? Let us know in the comments below. Do you need more convincing? We have the trailer after the break.

Disney Adds Lucasfilm to Its Collection of Media Successes

posted Tuesday Oct 30, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Disney Adds Lucasfilm to Its Collection of Media Successes

In a strange turn of events, George Lucas, possibly as part of his retirement plan, has sold Lucasfilm Ltd to Disney for a whopping $4.05 billion. The deal will see Lucas step aside and turn over leadership of the long-time successful production company to Kathleen Kennedy. This is a pretty natural transition for the company, seeing as Kennedy has been working as a producer for Lucas since Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981.

The buyout marks the second major acquisition from Disney in the growing crossover between nerd culture and pop culture in the past few years. The first, of course, being Disney's purchase of Marvel Entertainment in late 2009. That deal ended up bringing us major motion pictures, such as The Avengers, as well as the formation of a television division to maintain the Marvel brand in all of its facets.

So, what does the Lucasfilm combination bring to us? A new Star Wars film in 2015. Yes, you read that right - Star Wars: Episode 7 is going to happen, whether the world wants it or not. With Lucas not at the helm, the chances of Jar Jar Binks level disasters are significantly less likely, though Disney is not much better at not creating characters that people end up hating for all time. Disney also announced new films every two to three years in the Star Wars universe.

Lucas seems to be pleased with the outcome. He said,

For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next… It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I've always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I'm confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come.

At least with the transition made now, if Disney or Kennedy are unable to maintain Lucas-level quality, they can still go back to him for advice.

So, are you excited to see "a new generation of filmmakers" take the helm of one of the most iconic film series of all time, or do you think StarWars should be retired with Lucas himself? Let us know in the comments.

Verizon Teams Up with Redbox to Deliver Video Streaming Service Redbox Instant

posted Sunday Oct 28, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Verizon Teams Up with Redbox to Deliver Video Streaming Service Redbox Instant

Verizon is trying something new this quarter; they are working with Redbox to launch a streaming and DVD rental subscription service, which is currently in its beta phase. Verizon's President of Consumer and Mass Business, Robert Mudge, said in a keynote this week that the service should be up and running publicly by the end of the year.

We will be in the market in the fourth quarter. Quite frankly, this has been a heavy lift... (We will be) the provider than can give the consumer any of those video choices at a reasonable price.

The service will be called Redbox Instant and will be a separate service that customers can pay monthly for that is outside of its FiOS offerings and environment. This means that those interested in the US can have any broadband connection from any ISP and still be able to sign up, putting Redbox Instant right in-line to compete with Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Mudge added in his keynote that this move is to help Verizon's overall goal of a "borderless lifestyle" that allows a Verizon customer to access everything they want on as many devices as possible, home or on the go, with a wired or wireless connection.

Mudge then said that Verizon conducted a new consumer research study, called the FiOS Innovation Index, and found that 39 percent of US adults who buy tech gadgets are already considered to be living this borderless lifestyle. This is important because 48 percent of those people make $75,000 a year, with just over half of them having graduated college, which means these are people that will spend money.

After all is said and done though, is another video streaming service going to gain momentum so late into the game? Amazon Prime is even struggling to remain relevant, even after some big improvements that make it superior to Netflix in certain areas. Can Redbox Instant be a service that will bring together the best of all the other services and squash the competition? I doubt it, but the service is still in beta and not many have seen what it can really do. As soon as we get our hands on it, we'll let you know if it can compete.

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