Former Segment Host
Current UpStream Contributor
Current Product Reviewer
With over ten years of audio engineering experience, Nick's addition to PLuGHiTz Corporation is best served when he is behind the mixing board every Sunday night to produce the audio side of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Piltch Point and PLuGHiTz Live Night Cap. While mixing live every week, his previous radio show hosting experience gives him the ability to co-host as well, giving each show a unique flare with his slightly off-center, yet still realistic take on all things tech. An integral part of the show, you can find Nick always enveloped in coming up with new (and sometimes crazy) ideas and content for the show and you can always expect the most direct opinion on the stories that he feels need to be shared with the world. During the few hours where Nick isn't sleeping or working on ways to improve the company, he spends his free time going to hockey and football games and playing the latest titles on Xbox 360. Email him for his gamertag and add him today for a fun escape from the normal monotony and annoyance that the Xbox LIVE gaming community can sometimes be!
Recent UpStream Articles
posted Sunday Oct 19, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
Here we go again with yet another data breach. A hacker group says that have a hold of almost 7 million Dropbox usernames and passwords and that if they receive enough Bitcoin, they will release over 1,200 accounts to the public. The group has already released 400 as a sample of what they've acquired. The twist on this story is that Dropbox says this is a non-issue and in fact, they have not been hacked.
According to Dropbox, the passwords released so far have already expired and the rest of the accounts as well. The company has even gone as far as to blame other services for the breach.
These usernames and passwords were unfortunately stolen from other services and used in attempts to log in to Dropbox accounts. We'd previously detected these attacks and the vast majority of the passwords posted have been expired for some time now. All other remaining passwords have been expired as well.
So Dropbox says they've basically solved the problem. But Reddit users have tried out some of the accounts and have said they work. Only on a small percentage are the passwords expired. Considering that there are over 220 million accounts on Dropbox, a hacker group having only three percent really isn't that significant of a number, but for Dropbox to deny even this small percentage is pretty alarming.
Even if Dropbox is denying the attack, the username and password combinations still work and users should enable two-step authentication and change their passwords immediately. Is this what companies are going to do from now on, though? Blame other people for their lack of security and care for customers' data?read more...
posted Sunday Oct 19, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
Something I've always respected about the Rainbow Six series is the willingness the team has to stay as true-to-life as possible in the games, so long as the game allowed them to be. First-person shooters have become a little bit of an arcade, attention-deprived, run-and-gun shootfest that even games like Battlefield, that pride itself on simulation-style, have allowed things to get out of hand. Now, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six series is going to take things to the next level and go back to its beginnings of 1998 by not letting users respawn after death.
Rainbow Six Siege is a game I have been insanely excited for and Ubisoft's focus on teamwork and tactics are sure to make it a highly anticipated game for a lot more people than just me. At least for those who aren't twitch shooter fans. That's because in the multiplayer matches for Siege, there will be no respawns. Just like in my beloved Counter-Strike of FPS past, when you die, you're out for the round. For anyone tired of the Call of Duty series, highly rendered dog and all, this should be a huge breath of fresh air.
Appropriately called One Life, Rainbow Six Siege forces players to actually use skill to win, and not rely on one type of overpowered weapon or glitch. On the dev blog, Behind the Wall, the team goes on to explain why the decision was made.
When you're not allowed to respawn during a match, twitch reflexes aren't the only skills that keep you alive. Teamwork, map awareness, planning, adaptability, communication, and leadership become just as important to win.
You can't see it, but I've gotten out of my chair and am applauding reading those words right now. In a team game, putting more focus on team efforts makes so much sense I'm surprised it took over a decade for us to remember that. It evens out the playing field to make sure players of all skill types can enjoy a game, work together and have complete tasks laid out in front of them.
Now, there are those who are going to hate this and might say that there won't be anything to do in those few minutes of downtime. Ubisoft has said the matches are short and "precise" operations, so that if you die you'll only be sitting out for three minutes at most. And luckily, Ubisoft is taking advantage of those players removed from the action by giving them something to do that can affect the outcome of the game.
Yes, losing boots on the ground creates a disadvantage in firepower, but the player still contributes to the team by becoming a source of information. They are able to use limited visibility tools, like the drone and security cameras, or survey from a chopper above the operation zone to keep their team informed of the enemy's movements. We call this Support mode, and it's a crucial aspect of the round as the team balances firepower against information.
So even a dead player can provide crucial information to the fireteam. Still not convinced this is probably the most exciting game that will launch in 2015? After the break I posted a video of some gameplay. Watch that, then come back here and let me know what you thought of it.read more...
posted Sunday Oct 19, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
Lately we're seeing this strange influx of inexpensive gaming set-top boxes that can also stream media. Additionally, we're seeing them all run Android for whatever reason, and each of them just feel cheap. Not even counting the OUYA, there have been a dozen or so other boxes that have been announced in the past eighteen months that all feel the same way. Now, Google is looking to get into that game and prays that you forget all about the Nexus Q.
In a world where we'll probably never see an actual cost-effective Steam Machine, NVIDIA launching some type of graphics-card powered device and the Fire TV, Google has come out with the Nexus Player, not to be confused with that weird-looking Nexus. Google's vision is to harness the success and popularity of the Chromecast and come up with a device that doesn't need a computer counter-part at all. Instead, the Nexus Player is sort of what you'd expect from every other set-top media device we've seen. Play games, stream content and use apps on a clunky, Android-based interface.
You get a remote, just like the others, to navigate through the menus, and if you want to actually game, you can pick up a controller for $39 to compliment the box, both made by ASUS. The slight difference here is that it will be the first-ever gadget to run Android TV, which was announced at Google I/O. A 1.8GHz four-core Atom processor runs alongside 1GB of RAM and 8GB of data space to power the Nexus Player, and it will double as a Chromecast, offering the same experience you've come to know through the $35 HDMI plug-in. Intel says the chipset is capable of pushing 1080p streaming with "console-like" graphics, but I'd be curious to see how accurate those statements will be in the real world.
For $99, the Nexus Player can be purchased on November 3rd when it launches, but you can already pre-order the thing should you want to. Adversely, you can spend the same amount for an Amazon Fire TV if you want, and you'll get pretty much the same features and experience, plus Prime Instant Video. Are any of these interesting to you? Do you have a smart TV instead? Or are you just using an Xbox 360 like the rest of us? Let us know in the comments below and click on the break to see the Nexus Player teaser video.read more...
posted Sunday Sep 28, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
For those of you who might not have known by now, Steve Ballmer has stepped down as an executive board member for Microsoft after relinquishing the title of CEO to Satya Nadella earlier this year. One of the reasons he publicly mentioned for his stepping down as a board member was to devote more time to his other endeavors like teaching and his humanitarian efforts. Another one of those projects is his ownership of the NBA team, the LA Clippers. Now, he's setting aside a lot of time to permanently remove all remnants of Apple products from the team.
One thing Ballmer has promised as new owner is that he is going to ensure that his loyal Clippers fan will have "the best experience and that is not just the best in L.A." If you're on a smartphone or tablet, Ballmer said the fan's stay in the Staples Center will be unlike any other. To that end, he doesn't want an iPad, iPhone or any other iDevice or "Apple Device" in sight.
Most of the Clippers on are Windows, some of the players and coaches are not. And Doc (Rivers, the coach of the team) kind of knows that's a project. It's one of the first things he said to me: 'We are probably going to get rid of these iPads, aren't we?' And I said, 'Yeah, we probably are.' But I promised we would do it during the off season.
Especially after the NFL butchering the $400 million deal with Microsoft only to have the announcers call Surfaces iPads, one could assume that Ballmer doesn't want to repeat that debacle in his own arena and team. How will he ease out the Apple usage? We're not sure yet, but it's rumored it'll be through lots of pressure and yelling something about developers. Who knows, maybe he'll even fine players unwilling to change. It could be a new form of, "if you don't like it, don't play here and leave!" After all, Steve Ballmer is a man of character and is never known to do anything with half-effort. And if he's ever involved in a project, you know he's going to do it big.
In fact, Ballmer set a new record by purchasing the team for four times more than any other team has been sold for - a cool $2 billion. After purchasing the team, he held a pep rally, where I assume nobody on the team knew who he was other than "former Microsoft CEO." This is all due to the video of the pep rally that I watched, where the row of NBA stars were in shock by Ballmer's
Photo courtesy of Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports.read more...
posted Sunday Sep 28, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
Heello, Yo, and now Ello. The rise of social networks and apps to get away from the norm of Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter has been so rampant (and sometimes stupid) lately that it feels like everyone has been taking a shot at cashing in on the new dot-com bust. Regardless of your opinions on social networking and what you think of previous apps, Ello is actually interesting in that is accomplishes two things. First, it's actually different. And second, it's set up in sort of a pay-to-win deal.
So, what is Ello? Well, it's a new social network, but one whose focus is not on getting you to sign up just to be an ad puppet. In fact, Ello's designer Paul Budnitz said that there is a definitive no-ads policy for the site. People must like it, as Ello is getting over 27,000 requests an hour. Of course, brands have picked up on this and have signed up, too, but as Budnitz put it, he's not concerned.
If you don't like what a brand posts, even if it's all ads, you don't have to follow them.
It may sound like taking the easy way out, but unlike Facebook and now Twitter, Ello will never show you something from somebody you don't follow. Ever. Ello also says it allow sponsored tweets or other enhanced promotion methods the other sites are doing as well.
So, if it's has no ads, how will Ello make money? There's a small caveat in the service and one that almost feels like it takes a page directly from EA's book. It's also something services like Diaspora and App.net have tried but did not go over so well. The main-stay of Ello is free, however if you want to try something more than the basics, you're going to pay for it. Want multiple accounts tied to one login? You pay for it. Ello says it will have a bunch of features like that, and each will have a different cost. It's a great option for those who don't want or need every feature of a social network but still want to enjoy a service. And, for those who do want them, they have to pay. It keeps the ads off the site and the users happy, but I can't help but think of a free-to-play game with an ingrained notion that you have to pay to really get the full experience.
Beyond that, Ello is unique. I've come across dozens of truly interesting profile pages, each with their own design, flare and feel. People have put a lot of work into their pages and Ello lets you pretty much make it look how you want. For your name, Ello doesn't care. Name yourself the Refreshing Penguin and Ello will let you. Searching Ello is easy, as you only have two options: Friends and Noise. Friends has pictures, long text and everything those you follow post. Noise is simply a grid of quick-hitting news sorted by most recent. One minor downfall is the lack of privacy settings, though. You can't block people nor can you report content that is inappropriate. It's unfortunate but controls for those things are coming soon, Budnitz says.
Overall, I'm still getting used to Ello and have only spent a short time with it so far. I plan on giving it an honest effort and seeing if I'll stick with using it. I think my friend good friend, Traveling Mamas creator Shannon DalPozzal put it best when she described Ello from her perspective.
Testing out ello.co, playing with it, sharing little nuggets of thoughts. Brings back the creativity for me. Longer than twitter, less noise than FB, bigger images than Instagram, it reminds me of that Eagle's song "Peaceful Easy Feeling" - Overall, it's different. And I like that.
I hope that in the long run Ello will remain different and not fall into the same trap everyone else does. After a while, most companies fade into the mix by copying the competition. If Ello doesn't want to say goodbye (you knew that was coming in this article, right?) then it needs to remain a stand-out. Have you tried Ello? Do you like it? Let me know in the comments.read more...
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