The UpStream

Amazon Gears Up for War with Netflix and Hulu

posted Wednesday Jul 20, 2011 by Nicholas DiMeo

Amazon Gears Up for War with Netflix and Hulu

With big events like Hulu going up for sale and Netflix raising their prices, sometimes it's easy to lose sight of the rest of the pack. This week, Amazon Prime took it upon themselves to stand out from the crowd.

If you don't remember what Amazon Prime is, it started off as a shipping service on Amazon that would cost a customer $79 a year, but would give you free two-day shipping on almost every item in the Amazon.com inventory. It grew from there, adding new features, but it really took off when Amazon announced that their Prime service would also include their Instant Video services, only repackaged.

As the months have progressed from their announcement, Amazon Prime's video side of the fence has seen an improved interface, smoother and quicker video streaming and a list of new videos to stream while you wait for your Amazon.com orders.

This week, Amazon expanded their video library, directly targeting Netflix and Hulu. Could Amazon Prime take them down? We'll discuss after the break.

Chinese Counterfeiting of Apple Products Is So Last MacWorld, Apple Stores Are Next

posted Wednesday Jul 20, 2011 by Jon Wurm

Chinese Counterfeiting of Apple Products Is So Last MacWorld, Apple Stores Are Next

China has been the leader in imitation ever since the Western World discovered it was cheaper to have all their stuff manufactured in the East. With imitation iPhones, golf clubs and crab out there, it seems to me that if it exists, there is probably some factory in China spewing out knock-offs. The electronics industry is more than familiar with combating production of counterfeit products but it's a costly process that is largely out of their control, especially when it comes to China. The more popular the product, the more of a problem counterfeiting is. That's the good news; the bad news for Apple is that counterfeiting their products is so last MacWorld.

There is indeed not one but 3 fake Apple Stores within walking distance of each other in Kunming. This suggests they are taking the same approach Starbucks used a couple years back to crowd out competition and gain market share. There is certainly a healthy demand for Apple products in China as just recently we've seen people are willing to sell their virginity and kidneys just to get their hands on one. That is assuming they don't sell their hands as well.

The only thing more impressive than Chinese peoples' need for Apple stuff is their ability to reproduce entire retail stores. Hit the break to find out just what I mean.

Amazon Lights Up a New Feature for Their Kindle: College Textbook Rentals

posted Tuesday Jul 19, 2011 by Nicholas DiMeo

Amazon Lights Up a New Feature for Their Kindle: College Textbook Rentals

Are you a college student and own a Kindle? Well, you just may be in luck if you're looking to buy or rent a textbook on the cheap. This week, Amazon has started to rent out those $6,000 college textbooks on their awesome Kindle device. Some books are even 80% off retail price. Hooray! You can now afford something other than noodle cups again!

Amazon's statement this week said that you can get textbooks from John Wiley & Sons, Elsevier and Taylor & Francis. The cool part here is students can rent the books on their Kindle based on how long they need it. Amazon has set up a custom rental option that will allow you to select between 30 and 360 days, perfect for an express class or a year-long session.

For more on what's in store and what the company has to say about the new feature, click that break.

PayPal Fights Back on Cyber Attackers

posted Tuesday Jul 19, 2011 by Scott Ertz

PayPal Fights Back on Cyber Attackers

14 people were arrested Tuesday in conjunction with the cyber attack against PayPal after the company suspended access to WikiLeaks accounts. The arrests are the culmination of over 35 search warrants issued to FBI agents around the country. The attacks were organized by the guys from Anonymous, of course, who agrees with the mission of WikiLeaks: to spread information to everyone. The group was also associated with attacks against Visa and MasterCard for also cutting funding options to WikiLeaks.

Not all of the warrants and arrests, however, were associated with the PayPal attack; some were related to other WikiLeaks events. An AT&T customer support contractor was arrested for stealing confidential business information from the AT&T servers and uploading the information to WikiLeaks. A 16-year-old boy was also arrested in England. Both of these arrests are related to the other well-known hacker group, LulzSecurity and not Anonymous.

For more info on the arrests, hit the break.

Borders to Close Its Doors

posted Monday Jul 18, 2011 by Scott Ertz

Borders to Close Its Doors

Back in February, the nation's second-largest bookseller, Borders, filed chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced a plan to restructure. It closed all but 399 of its stores with plans to reorganize the company to regain profitability and hopefully reopen many of its closed stores in a smaller footprint, similar to what Best Buy plans.

Well, the closure of these stores has not accomplished the goal they were hoping for. In fact, there seems to have been no change in the profitability of the company at all. Management decided to try and sell the company instead of fixing the problems, but there were apparently enough issues that no buyer was interested enough to offer an amount the creditors would accept. Instead, Borders will close all of its doors, possibly as soon as Friday.

There is a little bit of hope for some of the stores. To find out how, hit the break.

Mortal Kombat 9 [Review]

posted Sunday May 22, 2011 by Allante Sparks

Mortal Kombat 9 [Review]

Over all Mortal Kombat 9 is definitely a buy. This particular Mortal Kombat is honestly the only game in the franchise that I consider to be a true successor to Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. With fresh, up-to-date graphics that is sure to impress, excellent character designs along with multiple un-lockable costumes and goodies, awesome gameplay - and you are able to experience it all online.

I'd say this game is a win, and it only took over a decade for them to get it right. The fight mechanics are simple, yet complex - this game is no button masher's delight. Combos are pretty specific, but can be pretty long and very damaging. One good thing about this is that game director Ed Boon decided to take this game back to 2 dimensional fighting! 3D characters on a 2D plane: a formula that has worked for many games like: Capcom's Street Fighter IV and Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. series'. I must say, it works pretty damn well!

For more of my thoughts on the game, hit the break.

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