Current UpStream Contributor
Interim Segment Host
With over ten years of audio engineering experience, Nick's addition to the PLuGHiTz Corporation is best served when he is behind the mixing board every Sunday night to produce the audio side of their PLuGHiTz Live! Radio show. 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 Dec 8, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
There are two auctions coming up for a big chunk of broadcast spectrum. A smaller one is next month in January 2014 and the second, larger auction was supposed to be in June. However, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a blog post that the big auction in June will now be pushed back to 2015.
The Broadcast Television Spectrum Initiative Auction, as it is called, has been talked about a lot at the FCC over the past month, since Wheeler took over as Chairman. Wheeler said that the FCC can't just issue an auction without putting some rules and policies behind the spectrum, such as what it can be used for. Wheeler has been working with the Incentive Auction Task Force on trying to meet the deadline of June 2014 but it just isn't going to happen. Wheeler said that the FCC will wait until new technologies, software and systems are in place and have been thoroughly tested before they decide to send everything to auction.
On the decision to push the date back, he said,
There are several key ingredients to fulfilling our instructions from Congress and making the incentive auction a success. We absolutely must make fact-based policy decisions in an open and transparent manner. Beyond the policy issues, however, we must also exhaustively test the operating systems and the software necessary to conduct the world's first-of-a kind incentive auction. This includes ensuring that such systems are user-friendly to both broadcasters and wireless carriers who will participate...
I believe we can conduct a successful auction in the middle of 2015. To achieve that goal, there will be a number of important milestones along the way. The Task Force will provide more details about the timeline and milestones in a presentation at the January 2014 Commission meeting.
Here's how it will all go down. The smaller auction of the 10MHz of space will happen in January 2014 as planned. Then, based on Congress passing the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act last year, 65MHz of spectrum must be auctioned off by the end of 2015. All of the money made from these auctions will go towards implementing first responder LTE network, FirstNet. This new network would allow first responders to have a dedicated system to be used for both their everyday and emergency operations.
So while there's not much change or news to write home about here, it was important to note that the FCC is acting in a methodical and carefully-planned manner, which is sometimes a rarity for the Commission. It's also refreshing to see that there is an actual effort being placed on making sure the spectrum can be implemented immediately and that there will even be a "mock auction" before everything actually takes place, in order to ensure that any flaws in the entire project are found before they do this for real.read more...
posted Sunday Dec 8, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
Beats, arguably the most popular high-end headphone in the market today, is moving into the music-streaming service to compete with Pandora, Spotify and more. Jimmy Iovine, the company's co-founder and head of Interscope/Geffen Records, dove into details this week about Beats' decision to enter a new space.
In keeping with its easy naming system, the headphones, digital audio hardware technology, and now the music-streaming service will be called Beats Music. Iovine said that the way Beats is going to differentiate itself from the competition is by putting all its effort into hand-curated lists for all types of scenarios, moods and times of day.
We are making tons and tons of curated lists. If you go the gym, we'll know where you are. So when you wake up in the morning, there will be a list waiting for you.
According to the chairman and co-founder, Beats Music, codenamed Daisy, currently has over 100 professionals putting together playlists for every possible occasions they can come up with. Of the team working on the unique take on music streaming, only one of them is famous: Trent Reznor. The former 9 Inch Nails vocalist has been signed on to oversee Beats Music's curation process. Iovine also said that subscribers would be able to set up personalized playlists using a proprietary algorithm that Beats created for the service.
When asked about pricing, he interestingly responded by saying Beats Music would "charge the same thing as everybody else... $10 a month or whatever it is." Good to know that he has a firm grip on the competitors in the market space and their pricing.
Beats Music comes after the Beats picked up music-streaming service MOG last year for $10 million. Marking it as a "failed utility" but with promise, Iovine added,
The infrastructure and technology were great. It's hard to hire 50 good engineers. We were able to retain 99% of them.
There's one last caveat to add here. Beats Music should also be better for the artists whose songs are on the platform. The service will be able to give better information and access on who is listening to an artist's music. Described as "fair play," Beats Music will tell an artist how many times a song has been played, under what playlists, how it compares to other songs in its space and more. That's definitely an added bonus in a world where iTunes gives you almost no information on the demographic listening to music.read more...
posted Wednesday Dec 4, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
I've always said that in the gaming industry, nothing matters until we see the sales numbers. This held especially true this past week, as Black Friday had customers shopping in stores across the country, from dusk to dawn, purchasing their favorite gadgets and other items. On their lists were video game consoles and, regardless of the initial Internet onslaught of negativity, you might be surprised at the console that came out on top.
Courtesy of Infoscout, we have sales totals for the current and next-gen consoles for Black Friday. The Xbox 360 and the Xbox One made up 61% of the entire post-Thanksgiving sales day market, with the Microsoft's latest console squeaking out a one percent edge over their former 360. The PS3 and PS4 both tied at 15% a piece and the Wii U made up six percent, leaving Nintendo's Wii to own the remaining, single percent of sales.
Of the customers polled, 80% of them said that they'd purchased a console as a gift, and 10% of those gift-givers said the console would be opened before Christmas. 85% of game system buyers said they'd also purchase two or more video games along with the system, with Call of Duty: Ghosts sadly being the top choice, by almost double of the #2 spot, Disney Infinity. Rounding out the top five choices for video games on Black Friday were Skylanders: Swap Force, GTA V and Madden 25.
Probably the most pressing question though is why did the Xbox One come out on top? There are several reasons that initially drive this number home. First, Sony chose to release their console a week earlier than Microsoft, with pre-orders and week one sales already being delivered to customers before Black Friday, to the tune of one million total PS4s. Secondly, Sony did mention that the company was having a tough time keeping up with demand, causing a shortage of next-gen PlayStations for customers on Black Friday. To be fair, Microsoft did announce one million consoles sold before Black Friday, too, and although Microsoft's gaming system was available in more markets, that still equates to a substantial amount of units moved.
There's a little more to the story, too. When asked about different consoles, here's what the majority of customers had to say about each one.
"Too much hype when Sony doesn't produce enough"
"Expensive. Games are expensive."
"It's too high tech. None if the older PS games will work with it and everything is way too expensive; I think it's more for the adults."
"My oldest child wanted a PlayStation, I have no opinion."
"It's the only system that has the game my kids want. I'm not happy about it."
"Waiting to see the first 'Must have game'"
"I think its a great system. With the Kinect, the family can get up and move around"
"Fun for kids and families. Love the old school games that you can download"
"Older technology, so less expensive"
To me, it's interesting to see the masses respond to the marketing campaigns, hype and overall message from both Sony and Microsoft. Even though the PS4 is $100 cheaper, Sony might have missed portraying the PS4 as something everyone could use, since they geared a lot of messaging towards the hardcore gamer who has strayed from Sony over the past eight years. Instead, Microsoft has realized for years now that customers want more than just gaming systems underneath their TV and by incorporating entertainment and media into the Xbox One marketing, the amount of sales speak for how well-received the message was. In the end, the "hardcore gaming" market is a very small percentage of the total number of people who game in today's age, and a lot of people have proven they're willing to spend money on a console that fits all of their needs in one device.
However, we still don't have the official total console sales numbers from NPD and we'll probably have to wait until after Christmas for them. Then and only then can we see the true magnitude of success of failure for either of the companies' respective launches. Did you pick up any next-gen gaming system for Black Friday? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments section.read more...
posted Sunday Dec 1, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
After more than two weeks on the market and over a dozen issues being reported even before launch, the PlayStation 4 is still going through some serious growing pains. The biggest issue that still remains is the uncertainty and instability of the PlayStation Network, Sony's online gaming platform. Without mentioning any new server upgrades to handle the heavy influx of gamers coming on to the network after the E3 presentation battle, Sony's has now shut down part of the system in order to handle server loads.
If you want to redeem any PlayStation promotional codes or PSN Card codes, you won't be able to for the foreseeable future. Aside from the PS4 just sitting there at the Redeem Code screen after number entry, a blog post appeared on the PlayStation Blog about the service interruption. Social Media Manager Sid Shuman wrote,
We are aware that users are experiencing some disruption to the PSN service. To minimize the inconvenience we have suspended the "redeem voucher" functionality while we investigate further. Unfortunately this means that money cards, product vouchers, PlayStation Plus vouchers, PS3-PS4 upgrade vouchers and any other vouchers for digital content are not redeemable at this time. Other PSN features such as log in, online multiplayer gaming, PlayStation Plus trials, PlayStation Store (excluding voucher redemption), Trophies, messages, friends, etc. are all available.
We apologize for the inconvenience and will provide an update soon.
There's also a thread that has been updated a few times since the announcement, with no real answer in sight as to when the service will be brought back up. Sony says that it still does "not have an estimate on when the system will be available at this time" and to "please try again later this evening or tomorrow."
In trying since the post, I've still not seen any successful redemption of a promo code. Now, I know this may not seem like a big deal to most people, however, it speaks a lot to the stability of the network as a whole. Gamers are still reporting complete meltdowns of the PSN service, including dropped lobbies, lagging out of games in-match and trophies not saving or being lost. So while the Redeem Code screen might not be something you use, it's the place Sony is working on a stop-gap to try and fix other problems at the same time. For now, PS4 users will still have network latency issues and will have to deal with it until Sony fixes the problems.read more...
posted Monday Nov 25, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
When RIM changed its name to BlackBerry, you would have assumed that would be the time when the company would start from scratch with everything. But BlackBerry is a different type of company, one that operates in a quirky way and marches to the beat of its own drum. The transition began with the name, continued on months later with the new BlackBerry OS and has now come to the end of the turnover with the almost-entire replacement of the executive board. Oh, and throw in a failed buyout and BlackBerry's primary manufacturing facility cutting ties with the company.
In the announcement, BlackBerry said it is changing out many management and board positions. Seemingly starting over, COO Kristian Tear and CMO Frank Boulben have both left the company. James Yersh, who's served the company since 2008, will be replacing Brian Bidulka as Blackberry's CFO and Bidlulka will stay on board as a special advisor to the CEO for the rest of the fiscal year to help with the change. Other notables of the total shift in direction for the company is the resignation of board member Roger Martin, who has been with the company formerly known as RIM since 2007.
On these decisions, interim BlackBerry CEO John Chen said,
I thank Kristian and Frank for their efforts on behalf of BlackBerry. I look forward to working more directly with the talented teams of engineers, and the sales and marketing teams around the world to facilitate the BlackBerry turn-around and to drive innovation. I also thank Brian for his eight years of dedicated service to BlackBerry. I look forward to working with James and his Finance team as we move forward, execute on our plans and deliver long-term value for our shareholders.
This shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone following the story of BlackBerry, as many people predicted a reshuffling like that was in the cards for a while now. Chen also made it known a month ago that this was going to happen before the year was out and that we'd see "new faces" in executive positions. Chen also predicts a turnaround for the company by June 2015, so we'll have to see if these moves will either help or hurt him reach that goal.
The good news is that if he does manage to right the ship according to his plan, his role as interim CEO at BlackBerry just might move into a permanent one, complete with a desk placard, assistant and the removal of the position over at jobs.rim.com.read more...