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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

Comcast Not Welcome in City, Called 'A Terrible Company'

posted Saturday Oct 18, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Comcast Not Welcome in City, Called 'A Terrible Company'

The Time Warner-Comcast merger has been a point of contention for many. Until now, the most vocal of which has been Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who has said that the merger will lead to higher prices for everyone.

Hastings has a new ally this week, the city council of Worcester, Massachusetts. City Councilor Gary Rosen said,

It's a terrible company. In my opinion, they should not be welcome in this city. Comcast is a wolf in wolf's clothing; it's that bad. They are awful, no doubt about it. Maybe we can't stop it, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't speak out.

This comes about as Comcast and Charter are making a few customer trades across the country in preparation for the merger. Like with wireless carriers, spectrum and customers sometimes have to be traded with competitors to avoid regulatory hurdles. Worcester is one of the markets that is being transitioned from Charter to Comcast, but clearly they are not happy about it.

This comment comes in preparation for a vote on whether to allow Comcast into their city. The Telegram & Gazette said,

The City Council is urging City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. not to sign off on the transfer of the city's cable television license from Charter Communications Inc. to Comcast Corp.

By an 8-3 vote, the council Tuesday night asked Mr. Augustus to reject Comcast's request for the license transfer because it feels the cable company lacks the necessary managerial experience, based on the number of public complaints there have been about its "substandard customer service practices."

If the city manager doesn't do anything, the transfer will be approved automatically. If he does reject it, Comcast will, obviously, appeal the decision. Unfortunately for the council, their reasoning is not sound. Deputy City Solicitor Michael E. Traynor said,

The cable license transfer can only be based on four criteria: the company's management, technical and legal experience, as well as its financial capabilities. If Comcast can meet that criteria, the transfer cannot be denied.

He believes that customer satisfaction does not indicate enough managerial experience issues. The council hopes that the vote will send a message, though. City Councilor Konstantina Lukes said,

This is not a paper vote; this is not an empty vote. This is a very clear vote that we are not going to tolerate the kind of responses we got from Charter and Comcast.

While it may not make a direct impact on the city, they do hope the FCC will take notice that there are some who are unhappy with the idea of a merger. Will it affect their decision regarding the merger? Only time can tell.

read more...

PlayStation Outsells Xbox in September, Helps Sony's Bottom Line

posted Saturday Oct 18, 2014 by Scott Ertz

PlayStation Outsells Xbox in September, Helps Sony's Bottom Line

Congratulations are in order for Sony's seemingly only profitable division: PlayStation. September was another successful month for them, outselling Microsoft's new console for the ninth straight month. This is a big win for Sony, who has been having nothing but trouble internally. Between billion dollar losses and major layoffs, Sony needs the win here.

With a 136% increase in hardware sales over last year and a large increase over August of this year, this was a great month for hardware. A lot of this can be attributed to the overall success of Destiny. Unfortunately for Microsoft, higher than Sony software sales of the game did not translate into higher hardware sales. Neither did offering a free game with console sales.

However, Sony shouldn't put all of their eggs in their PlayStation basket. In the last generation of consoles, at the end of September, the winning console was the Wii. Nintendo focused so hard on the Wii that they lost sight of the ball. Shortly after, the Wii was no longer the top console, being unseated by the Xbox 360, which stayed there almost unchanged until the end of the generation.

Obviously, initial sales successes do not indicate product successes. Allowing the PlayStation's initial success to rule the company could ultimately prove fatal. Hopefully they can continue to expand their Xperia line and get the media division back into profitability before the possibility of a leader change catches up to them. It wouldn't be the first time it happened.

read more...

HBO Announces Stand-Alone Streaming Service, Gives No Details

posted Wednesday Oct 15, 2014 by Scott Ertz

HBO Announces Stand-Alone Streaming Service, Gives No Details

HBO's business model has been fairly consistent for its entire existence: if you have cable, you can add HBO to your subscription for a monthly fee. In the last few decades of cable-based appointment television, this model has been incredibly successful. The two major changes to their business have been original programming, such as The Newsroom and Game of Thrones, and HBO GO.

HBO GO allows existing HBO subscribers to stream content on a variety of devices. The biggest issue with the service is the existing subscription requirement. Many young people are cutting their cable subscriptions entirely, meaning the target audience for HBO GO is completely ineligible to use it. That makes it difficult to justify the cost of the service, which can't be inexpensive.

Earlier this year, HBO Chief Executive Richard Plepler said,

Right now we have the right model. Maybe HBO GO, with our broadband partners, could evolve.

Analysts predicted that the evolution would come sooner than later, which makes sense in a time when the face of television is changing. Appointment television is coming to a swift end; I am watching old episodes of a television show as I write this. But can HBO compete in an arena that RedBox is vacating?

They are certainly going to give it a go. Plepler announced that, launching some time in 2015, HBO plans on offering content to non-cable subscribers. What they did not say was what content would be available on this unnamed platform. He said they would work with "current partners," which indicates that, currently, none of their contracts allow for off-network availability. This could prevent current programming from being available, as indicated previously.

What price would you be willing to pay to get HBO content without a cable subscription? Sound off in the comments.

read more...

Uber Driver Accused of Kidnapping, Company Disagrees

posted Wednesday Oct 15, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Uber Driver Accused of Kidnapping, Company Disagrees

Ride sharing apps, like Uber and Lyft, have been in the news a lot lately. A lot of the talk has surrounded the precarious legal position these types of apps have in various regions around the world. Cities, states and countries the world over have banned the app citing safety concerns and regulations skirting.

Unfortunately for these companies, the fears have been realized a few times over. Earlier this summer, a Washington DC ride became part of a "high speed chase" with a DC taxi inspector that ended up crossing state lines. Another rider, drunk and bar hopping in LA, was allegedly kidnapped, taken to a motel and asked to stay with the driver.

This week, another unfortunate incident has brought the topic of rider safety to the forefront, this time also in Los Angeles, and also with a drunk rider. The story, as reported, goes like this: female rider uses UberX to schedule a "taxi" ride to her home; a 20 minute trip. The driver then takes her 2 hours out of her way and into an empty parking lot, where he locked her in the car when she tried to get out. He then only took her to her destination after she began to scream in the locked car.

The driver, however, tells a different story of the event. According to the driver: drunk rider gets into car and requests an extended route home. At some point, the driver got concerned and called 911. Eva Behrend, from Uber, says,

Early reports on this ride are inaccurate. Based on the information we have at this time, this driver called 911 to ask for assistance with an intoxicated rider who requested an extended trip. However, we have refunded the rider's trip and reached out to the rider for additional information.

The most interesting thing about the refund was the comment attached to transaction: "inefficient route."

Obviously this all highlights the issues with an army of almost entirely unvetted drivers, the biggest of which being safety of the passengers. Taxi companies are responsible for the behavior of their drivers, but Uber and Lyft are completely unregulated, meaning they are not necessarily responsible for their drivers. The unregulated aspect seems to be part of the allure for some, though, so it is an interesting issue to solve.

Do you think more areas should focus on safety concerns or should Lyft and Uber be left alone? Let us know in the comments section.

read more...

Apparently Blizzard Can't Make an MMO Fun Anymore

posted Sunday Sep 28, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Apparently Blizzard Can't Make an MMO Fun Anymore

For almost as long as we can remember, Blizzard has been the king of MMOs. Try as they might, no one has been able to touch the successes of World of Warcraft. In recent years, however, that lead has begun to wane. With changes aimed at making the game more accessible to non-hardcore gamers, long-time loyalists have given it up for more challenging titles.

Seeing the writing on the wall, Blizzard began work on a new MMO title. Referred to internally as "Project Titan," Blizzard has never officially announced the game, but has made comments about it publicly. For example, last year Blizzard said the game was going to see an overhaul, which would delay its release until at least 2016.

As it turns out, the problems behind the overhaul seem to have been bigger than first thought, as Blizzard has cut the game. Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime described the project,

We had created World of Warcraft, and we felt really confident that we knew how to make MMOs. So we set out to make the most ambitious thing that you could possibly imagine. And it didn't come together.

We didn't find the fun. didn't find the passion. We talked about how we put it through a reevaluation period, and actually, what we reevaluated is whether that's the game we really wanted to be making. The answer is no.

So, after 7 years of development, and at least the beginning of a reconsidering, the king of MMOs couldn't make a new title fun? Did they fire everyone who helped them create the World of Warcraft phenomenon? Was that game's success a fluke? Or, more realistically, did they truly come to believe that the changes made to World of Warcraft were fun?

Either way, it would appear that the company's plans going forward will be less AAA titles, more small format games. They have discovered through the successes of Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm that they can have success with smaller games. Senior vice president of story and franchise development Chris Metzen said,

Maybe we can be what we want to be and inspire groups around the company to experiment, get creative, think outside the box and take chances on things that just might thrill people. Maybe they don't have to be these colossal, summer blockbuster-type products.

So, expect Blizzard to focus on smaller, story-focused titles and less focus on traditional Blizzard-style titles. Unfortunately, this also means we can say goodbye to the non-existent "Project Titan.".

read more...

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