The UpStream

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.

Civilization Isn't Just a Human Thing Anymore

posted Sunday Jul 17, 2011 by Jon Wurm

Civilization Isn't Just a Human Thing Anymore

The truth is that almost everyone in the developed world has had experience with artificial intelligence or AI. This is especially true for gamers. In fact, according to SRK Branavan of University College London, games are a test bed for AI.

Games are used as a test bed for artificial-intelligence techniques simply because of their complexity. Every action that you take in the game doesn't have a predetermined outcome, because the game or the opponent can randomly react to what you do. So you need a technique that can handle very complex scenarios that react in potentially random ways.

It turns out that some very smart people at MIT have come up with a machine-learning system that can read the user manual for Civilization and make it's game better. That might not sound impressive but it actually is. Basically the system starts with a list of actions it can take and no knowledge of the game or languages to decode the user manual. This means that the actions taken at first were completely random but depending on the action it took a word came up on the screen and it initiated a search for that word in the game and in the manual. Big deal right? That's called indexing which deals with information retrieval. Here's the kicker: the system was able to "hypothesize" the association between the words and actions and get better results in the game!

This ability to associate information and actions concluded with astounding results. Hit the break to find out just how much.

Two Tablets One Company: More Details on the Sony S1 and S2

posted Sunday Jul 17, 2011 by Jon Wurm

Two Tablets One Company: More Details on the Sony S1 and S2

In February of this year, Engadget sources revealed some information from about Sony's code named "S1" gaming and multimedia centered tablet. While both the S1 and S2 tablets were announced April of this year in Japan, at a Sony event in New York this month, details on the S2 tablet came to light. Both tablets run Android 3.0 and therefore share similar functionality; however, Kunimasa Suzuki, president of the Vaio and mobile business group, thinks that both will be successful in the market based on differences in form factor.

The S1, as we've seen before, more resembles a regular style tablet with two unique differences. One of which is the fact that the weight of the device has been shifted to rest on the user's arm, hopefully making it more comfortable to use while holding with one arm. The other is the stand coming off the back that resembles a folded over magazine. This is supposed to put the screen at a more friendly angle when it is set down on a flat surface. The S2 more closely resembles a Nintendo DSi in terms of form factor. That means that there are two screens both of which are 5.5 inches. It also means that the device is foldable allowing it to more easily fit inside a pocket.

To get a better idea about what Sony has in store for the S1 and S2 launch this fall, hit the break.

Apple's App Store Eclipses 15 Billion Downloads

posted Saturday Jul 16, 2011 by Nicholas DiMeo

Apple's App Store Eclipses 15 Billion Downloads

As much as we dislike Apple almost all the time, there are just certain events that occur where you have to tip your hat and give credit where credit is due. This is one of those cases as last week, Apple announced that it has toppled way over the 10 billion downloads it set a goal for and has now surpassed the 15 billion download mark.

Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing:

In just three years, the revolutionary App Store has grown to become the most exciting and successful software marketplace the world has ever seen. Thank you to all of our amazing developers who have filled it with over 425,000 of the coolest apps and to our over 200 million iOS users for surpassing 15 billion downloads.

That's pretty impressive. It's also impressive that they have over 425,000 apps on the platform as well, regardless of the tens of thousands cow moo and gunshot apps that may be roaming around.

It should be noted here that there are a staggering 100,000 native iPad apps on the platform as well (take note, HP!), and to date Apple has paid developers over $2.5 billion.

So congratulations, Apple, that's a pretty big number to hit. Enjoy the kudos while they last, we don't give them to you often around these parts, because we don't like you, and you usually don't deserve it.

China's Economy is Scarier Than We Thought

posted Saturday Jul 16, 2011 by Scott Ertz

China's Economy is Scarier Than We Thought

In general, we tend to avoid political topics as they often alienate people, but seeing as this year China overtook the US as the leading manufacturer in the world and we talk about Apple's use of Chinese manufacturer Foxconn, I decided to buck the trend and bring you this information.

We hear often about how China's economy is booming, and it is pretty difficult to dispute. They own so much of the US's $14 trillion debt, they have had an almost constant 10% GDP growth and, as I said before, they are now the largest manufacturer on the planet. As it turns out, the lack of ability to dispute the boom is exactly what China has been trying to produce.

How have they managed to create an indisputable economic boom? Hit the break to find out.

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