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Scott Ertz

Scott Ertz

Former Segment Host

Current Host

Current UpStream Contributor

Current Product Reviewer

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Scott is a development manager here at PLuGHiTz Corporation. He is the project lead for PLuGHiTz Gaming (DDRLover and CounterQuest) as well as PLuGHiTz Live!. Scott is most known for his time in the DDR World, both as a player and then for hosting and presenting tournaments in the Tampa, Florida area. Currently, his energies have been in the development of a few new sites for PLuGHiTz Corporation, as well as redeveloping some of our current sites.

Recent UpStream Articles

Some Comixology Titles Available DRM-Not-Included

posted Saturday Jul 26, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Some Comixology Titles Available DRM-Not-Included

If you are a fan of the digital comicbook marketplace Comixology, you are probably also aware of the highly limited nature of how you can interact with your purchases. That is all changing, sort of, now that Comixology is part of the Amazon family. Starting now, some titles will be available with a DRM-free backup, in both PDF and CBZ formats.

Unfortunately, the DRM-free copies will not be available for all publishers or all titles. The publishers can decide if they want to participate, and which titles they will offer this way. So far, the list of publishers is: Dynamite Entertainment, IDW Publishing, Image, Monkeybrain, Thrillbent, Top Shelf and Zenescope, with more to follow, according to Comixology. If you have purchased anything from one of these publishers that will be available DRM-free, you will receive an email informing you of your new capabilities.

So, what does this mean for consumers? It means that, instead of having to read your within the confines of the Comixology apps or website, you can now read these select titles whenever and wherever. For example, if you have a Windows Phone, your only option is to read your purchase on the web, as there is no app for the platform. This means that if you are without service on your device, you are totally out of luck. With the DRM-free download, you can read it right in the PDF viewer on your phone.

The topic of DRM is a sticky one, however. On the one hand it protects the content creators from pirating of content, enabling them to continue to create further works. On the other hand, especially in cases such as Comixology, it can greatly inconvenience legitimate customers; sometimes to the point of no longer being customers and, instead, looking for the pirated content. If you are so limited in your capabilities that you must interact with content you have purchased through a platform you might or might not have access to at any given point, it could certainly drive a legitimate customer to extreme means.

It will take a long while before the big guys, Marvel and DC, even consider DRM-free content. It might work out for the smaller publishers, though, as new customers might decide to check out their work simply because of the DRM-free nature of their publishing. It could be an interesting new day for comics.

read more...

Amazon Stock Loses Huge After Poor Earnings

posted Saturday Jul 26, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Amazon Stock Loses Huge After Poor Earnings

It might just be time for Amazon to begin focusing its offerings. Since the company was originally founded as an online bookstore, the company's product and service offerings has grown tremendously. Whether you're looking to purchase books, shoes or flour, you can probably find it on Amazon.com.

Today the company also offers tablets and phones and streaming video and cloud computing - all very divergent from what made the company successful originally. The success of this divergence tactic is beginning to show up in their stock, and not in a way anybody would want.

After announcing a $126 million loss in the second quarter of 2014, the company's stock price dropped dramatically. How dramatically? Almost 11% in after hours trading. This is mostly due to a huge swing in operating profitability. Last year the company had a $79 million gain in for this quarter; this year they ran a $15 million loss. All of this on higher sales.

Now the company does not exactly breakdown where its profits and losses come from. In fact, Amazon has been very good at hiding their cloud numbers. This would certainly indicate that the company is having trouble making their AWS cloud services profitable.

How could this be? Microsoft Azure cloud services match Amazon prices almost penny for penny, yet Microsoft is seeing profit in the Azure division. Perhaps it has to do with what the companies are good at. While Microsoft is good at building enterprise development tools, Amazon is good at selling products to consumers. This could very well be a case of just because you can doesn't mean that you should.

read more...

NVIDIA Launches Android-Powered Shield Tablet

posted Saturday Jul 26, 2014 by Scott Ertz

NVIDIA Launches Android-Powered Shield Tablet

NVIDIA really wants to make something of its SHIELD line of Android-powered gaming devices. First, the original handheld has received almost no consumer buy-in. Last week we learned about their plans for a television streaming device which will require a tremendous amount of costly hardware.

This week NVIDIA is launching its second product in the family, the SHIELD Tablet. This device appears to be designed to sit above the SHIELD Portable and this, as of now unannounced, streaming device. It is even possible that the Tablet is the unnamed streaming device.

As with the Portable you can play Android games and stream games from your PC. You also have the ability to connect the tablet to your television and play in console mode. Using the additional controller you can truly play any compatible game on your television. NVIDIA was even prepared for latency, using Wi-Fi Direct instead of Bluetooth for the controller. This decreases lag from 20 milliseconds to just 10.

As for the tablet itself the specs are pretty nice. 8-inch 1920x1200 full HD screen. Front facing stereo speakers. 16 or 32 GB of included memory with a micro SD slot that supports up to 128 GB. And last but not least NVIDIA's Tegra K1 mobile processor.

If you're in the market for a high end Android tablet, or you're looking for a way to stream some of your games from your PC to your television, this might be one to consider. If you're specifically in the market for Android gaming, this device might be overkill for you.

read more...

Julie Brill, FTC Commissioner, is Concerned About Health Apps

posted Saturday Jul 26, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Julie Brill, FTC Commissioner, is Concerned About Health Apps

One of the biggest trends in mobile right now is health. The category ranges from wearable technology to being able to talk to your doctor via mobile app. It is the perfect intersection between mobile and wearables, so much so that one of the largest marketplaces at CES is health tech.

That marketplace may get more complicated if the Federal Trade Commission's Commissioner Julie Brill has her way. It turns out that she, like most of Washington, is afraid of change. Her biggest fear is that the use of data collected through health applications might be able to accurately assess reality.

Now I know what you're thinking, "Isn't that what the health related data is supposed to do?" To that I say, of course it is. Brill fears that the accurate analysis conducted on this data that we have willingly given to the application might lead to negative consequences.

Brill's example of what she is concerned about is from Target. Using sales information the store was able to predict the pregnancies of some of its female customers. Now this kind of analysis does not take a genius organization, nor does it require any health related to data. If you purchase on a Target credit card prenatal vitamins, Target can probably guess why you made the purchase.

Brill has taken it upon herself to lead the FCC's charge to review consumer privacy in this "new and scary" technology. She is particularly concerned with compliance with HIPAA regulations. I might have urged her to read the HIPAA regulations before she made these comments in public however, as they refer specifically to two medical offices transmitting information between one another. They do not at all regulate the transmission of information to or from a consumer.

Hopefully the FTC, which has no jurisdiction in this matter, will back off and leave the decisions on who someone decides to share information with up to the adults deciding to share that information.

read more...

Former Dictator Gets Feelings Hurt by Activision

posted Sunday Jul 20, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Former Dictator Gets Feelings Hurt by Activision

You are probably aware of Manuel Noriega, the former military dictator Panama from 1983 to 1989. In case you are not, here are his highlights. After the United States invaded Panama, Noriega was tried and sentenced on drug trafficking, money laundering and racketeering. Those sentences ended with his theoretical release in 2007, but he was extradited to France to serve time for money laundering and murder. He was later released to Panama to serve a 20 year sentence, which is where he is today.

This brief history lesson, and list of charges against Noriega, serve as a bizarre backdrop to a lawsuit filed this week, filed by Noriega against Activision. The company, he claims, makes him out to be "a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state." Because of this, he believes his good name has been sullied by the company for the purposes of increasing game sales for Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

There are, of course, a couple of issues here. First, Activision did not need any gimmicks to increase sales of a Call of Duty title; they sell just fine on their own. Second, the type of person who purchases and plays a Call of Duty game likely does not know who Noriega is, nor do they care. Thirdly, did you read his Wikipedia page? It would appear that the list of charges he has filed against Activision for defamation are exactly the things that have kept him in various prisons since 1989.

Logic not withstanding, this suit is happening and Activision needs to prepare to defend itself against the defamation charges of a convicted criminal. Good thing he didn't use the words "the culprit of numerous fictional heinous crimes" to describe how they portrayed him. Wait, he did? This is going to be a fun case to follow!

read more...

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