The UpStream

Visa and Samsung Partner to Bring NFC to the Olympics

posted Sunday Mar 4, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Visa and Samsung Partner to Bring NFC to the Olympics

Recently, we've seen technology companies realizing the potential in launching new products or concepts at major sporting events and other festivities. IE9 showed up at SXSW, Silverlight was a heavy hitter at both the 2010 Winter Olympics and The PGA Masters, Twitter and HP teamed together with the iconic Tiesto to host a concert from Vegas on the web and we've even learned that the 2012 London Olympics will feature new UHDTV technology. This week, add Samsung and Visa to the list of Olympic participants, as they will be launching payWave, an NFC wireless payment system, at the London games.

We have the full details after the break.

The Zynga Platform: Beyond Facebook

posted Sunday Mar 4, 2012 by Jon Wurm

The Zynga Platform: Beyond Facebook

Zynga has had an extremely lucrative partnership with Facebook and it was revealed that Zynga accounted for 12% of their revenue when Facebook filed for its IPO. Their relationship wasn't always as pleasant as a sunshine-filled day on the farm, however. Back in May 2005 Zynga wasn't happy with Facebook taking 30% of their revenue and it prompted some uneasy negotiations that ended up in Zynga reaching out to other potential partners.

It also prompted Zynga to start developing games that were independent of Facebook and, within a few months after their Facebook fight, they had managed to churn out a few games on their own. They also managed to become a public company and have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into their own server farms in order to transition from Amazon services. Their goal here is to take Zynga.com and turn it into their own platform where they can carve out their own territory. According to CEO Mark Pincus,

We want to grow the market for everyone. Our vision is a billion people playing together.

That's not the whole story though. Read on after the break to find out what else Zynga has in mind to make their vision a reality.

Wholesale Applications Community's Mobile Payment Plan

posted Friday Mar 2, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Wholesale Applications Community's Mobile Payment Plan

It has been almost 2 years since I first wrote about the founding of the Wholesale Applications Community and their 24 original members. Today, the organization has over 60 members and an even stronger focus on open standards for the wireless industry. The project they are currently tackling is the increasingly interesting wireless payment problem.

We know that Google Wallet has had some problems, and Paypal wants in, but there is a flaw in both of these platforms: you have to attach an outside funding source. WAC aims to change that.

How do they plan to accomplish this goal? Hit the break to find out.

$228,000 Worth of Bitcoins Stolen

posted Friday Mar 2, 2012 by Scott Ertz

$228,000 Worth of Bitcoins Stolen

Not a lot of people know what Bitcoin is, so we will start this story there. Bitcoin is a digital currency, similar to Microsoft Points, with a twist. Bitcoins are not purchased in unlimited quantities - instead, they are "mined" on servers and personal computers. Essentially, you are paid for the usage of your computer's idle CPU usage. According to the Bitcoin FAQ,

New coins are generated by a network node each time it finds the solution to a certain mathematical problem (i.e. creates a new block), which is difficult to perform and can demonstrate a proof of work. The reward for solving a block is automatically adjusted so that in the first 4 years of the Bitcoin network, 10,500,000 BTC will be created. The amount is halved each 4 years, so it will be 5,250,000 over years 4-8, 2,625,000 over years 8-12 and so on. Thus the total number of bitcoins in existence will not exceed 21,000,000.

Blocks are generated every 10 minutes, on average. As the number of people who attempt to generate these new coins changes, the difficulty of creating new coins changes. This happens in a manner that is agreed upon in advance by the network as a whole, based upon the time taken to generate the previous 2016 blocks. The difficulty is therefore related to the average computing resources devoted to generate these new coins over the time it took to create these previous blocks. The likelihood of somebody creating a block is based on the calculation speed of the system that they are using compared to the aggregate calculation speed of all the other systems generating blocks on the network.

Why does any of this matter? Hit the break to find out where a lot of this money went.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview Hits 1 Million Downloads

posted Friday Mar 2, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Windows 8 Consumer Preview Hits 1 Million Downloads

It didn't take long before the latest version of Microsoft's flagship product, Windows 8, to have its public beta, known as the Consumer Preview, to receive 1 million downloads. In fact, it only took 24 hours to reach this milestone. Now, while Windows has had higher adoption rates in the past, it is unusual for a non-production ready operating system to get this kind of attention.

This, however, is no normal Windows. In fact, it almost doesn't feature windows in its appearance, save for the Desktop, which has been relegated from its front-and-center position to an application running within the native environment. The primary interface sports the new universal Microsoft user experience, known as Metro, which is already in use on Windows Phone 7 and the new Xbox Dashboard. This is what is driving all of the interest in the preview.

I can tell you we have been testing Win8 here in the office since the original Developer Preview was released, and we installed the Consumer Preview immediately upon launch on Wednesday. I definitely understand why people are so excited about Windows 8.

So, are you one of the million who had it day 1 or are you planning on trying it out soon? Let us know in the comments!

iPhone 4 Users Receive $15 Payout for Antenna Problems

posted Sunday Feb 26, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

iPhone 4 Users Receive $15 Payout for Antenna Problems

Let's take you back almost two years ago. The iPhone 4 was among the newest of the iCraze to be announced and in the hands of the massive amount of people who simply wanted something that "just worked." It just worked, except when you wanted to make a phone call; then the antenna wouldn't work at all. Why? It was because the phone was designed so poorly that your hand would naturally hold the area of the phone that Apple put the weak spot.

The fix? Leave it to Apple to say everyone has this problem even though their developers knew about this issue well before release and chose not to fix it. Apple also said to buy a rubber bumper to put on your phone to fix the problem. Perfect.

As you could image, some people weren't too happy about this and actually received a settlement from the whole ordeal. These were the users who didn't want to exchange their phone, didn't want the stupid bumper and didn't want a voucher.

So what was the settlement? Find out after the break.

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