The UpStream

Microsoft's Probably Brilliant Accident

posted Saturday Jul 16, 2011 by Scott Ertz

Microsoft's Probably Brilliant Accident

Earlier this week, Microsoft launched a splash page for a project they call Talalip (the screen can be seen on the right). The page, if you cannot see it, says "Welcome. With Tulalip you can Find what you need and Share what you know easier than ever." In addition to this welcome text, there is a Facebook and Twitter sign-in and a series of Windows Phone 7/Windows 8/Xbox Dashboard-style tiles with people's photos. If this doesn't cry social network, I don't know what does.

Well, Microsoft knows and they know they published the splash page. In fact, not too long after, the page came down and an acknowledgement message (yes, that's right, a company that doesn't deny a product everyone now knows exists) went up in its place. The message reads:

Thanks for stopping by. Socl.com is an internal design project from a team in Microsoft Research which was mistakenly published to the web. We didn't mean to, honest.

Didn't they mean to? Hit the break to find out.

Water + Graphite = The Ultimate Battery

posted Saturday Jul 16, 2011 by Scott Ertz

Water + Graphite = The Ultimate Battery

July has become the month of UpStream electrical mathematics. First we add urine with forward osmosis without electricity. This week, we will be adding pencil lead to water to create a battery.

That's right; a research team from the Monash University Department of Materials Engineering, led by Dr. Dan Li, have developed a material they call graphene. They believe this development could lead to the next generation of batteries. Why is this? This material can create an electrical storage device powerful enough to outshine even the most efficient lithium-ion batteries with the added bonus of only taking seconds to charge. Add to that its ability to charge an almost unending number of times and we might just have the perfect battery.

So, why isn't this in every product everywhere already? Hit the break to find out.

75 More Potential Microsoft Stores You Don't Click The Center Link For

posted Saturday Jul 16, 2011 by Jon Wurm

75 More Potential Microsoft Stores You Don't Click The Center Link For

Right now Microsoft has 11 brick and mortar store locations; well, 12 if you count the Apple store that was branded in their honor. As far as we can tell most of these locations are not profitable, but that doesn't seem to detour Steve Ballmer from pushing forward with 75 new locations across the U.S. There is speculation that this is an assertive move to compete with Apple, which has around 300 physical locations, the real question however is, what does Microsoft have to gain from all this?

Since at least early April of this year there has been a hot debate among the Microsoft executive circle about whether or not this is going to benefit them. Certainly there are a lot of different factors here. Take for example, the success of Apple stores. It's true that iPods and iPhones are sold almost everywhere under the sun but Apple still largely retains iMac and iPad for themselves, with the exception of Best Buy and maybe a couple other retailers. I believe the reason they can pull this off is because Apple exercises the philosophy that you should have to purchase 4 devices, iMac, iPad, iPhone, iPod to do the job of 1. It also just so happens that 2 of those 4 can almost only be found at an Apple store.

For more of our thoughts on the matter, hit the break. Also, don't forget to visit PLuGHiTzLive.com and click the link in the center for the still-digital Microsoft Store. Tell them Jon sent you.

Netflix Raises Prices (Again), This Time Angers Customers

posted Saturday Jul 16, 2011 by Nicholas DiMeo

Netflix Raises Prices (Again), This Time Angers Customers

Just about 8 months removed from Netflix raising their prices by $2 to compete with Hulu Plus, the company is restructuring and raising prices again, this time angering over 60,000 "fans" on Facebook. However, it seems that everyone is misunderstanding what the price change actually is and who it affects.

At first, Netflix bundled their unlimited streaming service along with their DVDs by mail as a package for $7.99 a month, then up to $9.99 as mentioned earlier. Netflix has now launched DVD-only plans that offer unlimited DVDs, one at a time, for $7.99 a month, or $11.99 for two. This now gives customers who only want DVDs a low-cost option to do so, especially now that BlockBuster is almost out of the picture.

The reason everyone is so mad though is because Netflix is now separating the DVD and streaming packages. It's going to make it a little more expensive if you want both, and we'll talk about that after the break.

Urine + Forward Osmosis - Electricity = NASA Experiment

posted Sunday Jul 10, 2011 by Jon Wurm

Urine + Forward Osmosis - Electricity = NASA Experiment

NASA has a tradition of conducting fun experiments in space and given that the space shuttle Atlantis is on its last trip in the final frontier, I thought it would be fitting to discuss one of the last fun experiments we may see for quite a while.

Those of you who have been paying attention to these kinds of experiments in the past might remember something really similar. It works like this, first someone urinates or pours undrinkable water in the "forward osmosis bag" where it filters through a semi-permeable membrane which excludes certain bacteria and particles. Next, the filtered water saturates with sugars to form what they call a "sports drink." The entire process takes about 4-6 hours and was designed by a company in Oregon for hikers, Bear Grylls and other people who find themselves in positions where drinking urine out of a bag is a required option for survival. The big difference between the forward osmosis bag and its predecessors is that it requires no outside power source like electricity; something that is cherished outside city limits and in space.

Take a bathroom break and then hit the break to watch an incredibly detailed demonstration.

Apple Enlists Secret Service to Investigate Webcam Scheme

posted Sunday Jul 10, 2011 by Nicholas DiMeo

Apple Enlists Secret Service to Investigate Webcam Scheme

I think the idea of capturing images of people staring blankly at computers while trying to decide if they want to purchase one is pretty awesome. It's even better if they are the stares of the latte-sipping Mac buyers. This is such a good (in this instance, good can also be synonymous with strange or demented) idea that Kyle McDonald seems to agree. He started a project called People Staring At Computers, a Tumblr site that posted images of people...staring at computers.

Apple isn't thrilled about this idea and the Secret Service are involved. How? We discuss after the break.

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