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 Sep 14, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
The Bitcoin saga is an interesting one. Amidst the violent ups and downs of the virtual currency, there has been a constant question on the minds of everyone. People have been wanting to know who the founder and creator of Bitcoin is. We know that the name Satoshi Nakamoto has been tossed around but we've not been able to put a face to the name. Whoever it is has made it very difficult to trace the concept of Bitcoin back to him or her. Even Newsweek went down a rabbit hole and came up empty-handed and confused. That was all true until this week, when we may have a new lead on who could've created Bitcoin.
Hackers have apparently gotten into Nakamoto's email address and have sent out emails and posted to Pastebin messages requesting payment for the hackers to disclose the true identity of the creator of Bitcoin. In the different messages, there have been five different Bitcoin addresses to send payment to, saying that, "Satoshis dox, passwords and IP addresses will be published when this address has reached 25 BTC."
Like we mentioned in previous articles, Satoshi could be a false name for an entire group of people for all we know. However the hackers have made it seem that it's one person and they know who it is. But given that they're hackers whose sole mission is to profit from others' loss, all of this could be a hoax. We do know that somebody has accessed the email account email@example.com, which is the email address included in the original Bitcoin documents. We also have seen small snippets of information that the hackers have posted online, but again, that could all be fabricated.
Then there's the warning directed to Satoshi and his/her safety. A message posted on the P2P Foundation forum said,
Dear Satoshi. Your dox, passwords and IP addresses are being sold on the darknet. Apparently you didn't configure Tor properly and your IP leaked when you used your email account sometime in 2010. You are not safe. You need to get out of where you are as soon as possible before these people harm you. Thank you for inventing Bitcoin.
So, hackers are trying to extort money from people in order to reveal who Satoshi really is. Should we really play into this? If someone created something, no matter how revered it may be, do we have a right to know who it is and demand that the person speak to the public? Bitcoin isn't a publicly-traded company or anything, so shouldn't we respect the privacy of the ones behind the creation? A lot of questions have been raised by this new bit of information. It'll be interesting to see what happens if the documents are released.read more...
posted Sunday Sep 14, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
For some time now, there's been this interesting dynamic with the music-streaming company Pandora. Revenue has been steady but active subscribers are decreasing, yet the company responds by limiting free listening time. Then the company's CEO resigns amidst a very strong fourth quarter, leading to more confusion. But now, another positive move for Pandora happened this week as the company signed a huge deal with BMG, the distribution group that owns the rights to everyone's music from Jay-Z to Billy Idol.
Lately, Pandora has been at war with the music labels, much like Spotify, in order to try and reduce the payouts of royalties. It's been a largely unsuccessful endeavor, however this new deal solidifies the first step in the right direction as CFO of Pandora, Mike Herring, said that Pandora "ensured a royalty structure that works better for both of us."
So what's included in this new licensing package? Pandora will now pickup rights to BMG's collection of music from BMI and the American Society of Composers, and both have a pretty extensive catalog of pieces. No terms of the deal have been disclosed but sources close to the matter report both parties are pleased with the outcome.
This ties in to Pandora's mission to keep growing, despite having some pretty rough times with its music curation. With just under 75 million active users, according to Pandora, the company said it wants to reach 100 million in the next year or two. While having a lot of music will certainly help, the program's selection process still needs a lot of refinement. The same songs will constantly show up, or songs that have nothing to do with each other will play on the same station, just because they were composed by the same producer. In order to get that next 25 million, some hard work and effort will have to go into the actual service, otherwise people will stay attracted to alternative platforms.read more...
posted Sunday Sep 14, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
The "serious discussion" rumors that Microsoft would be buying Mojang are apparently true. Microsoft will be planning to announce on Monday that it has acquired the gaming studio behind the insanely popular game, Minecraft, for $2.5 billion.
The acquisition, which will be huge for Microsoft's gaming properties, looks to bring more attention to Microsoft's mobile operating system, Windows Phone. The Xbox and PC brands are already locked-in with a huge core following and have supported Mojang, the makers of the PC version, 4J Studios, the devs behind the console edition and Notch, the founder of Minecraft.
Speaking of Notch, having Mojang picked up by Microsoft definitely wasn't something on anyone's radar due to Notch's blunt disdain for Microsoft technology. He has gone on record saying that he wouldn't even consider building a version of Minecraft for the Windows Phone, and that he isn't fond of Microsoft's platform. In late September of 2012, he went on Twitter to say,
Got an email from microsoft, wanting to help "certify" minecraft for win 8. I told them to stop trying to ruin the pc as an open platform.
I guess $2.5 billion would change that tune in two years. At any rate, a lot of people are enraged, mostly PC gamers interestingly enough, about the potential of Microsoft buying up their coveted game and dev studio.
To me, the move makes perfect sense on the business level. Sure, the game is already crazy popular on the PC and the Xbox 360, PS3 and Xbox One versions are doing incredibly well, with the 360 iteration breaking day-one sales records for non-disc games and moving over 8 million units since launch. To compare, Minecraft for the PC has just eclipsed 14 million and the game has been around three years longer.
But it goes beyond the game itself, and I'm a firm believer in Microsoft's proven track record that the company looks at the bigger picture. What gamers fail to see is that Minecraft is a brand, not just a game. Not only do you have a truly talented group of developers inside of Mojang that actually care about putting out a solid product, but they all seem to share the big-picture mentality that the executives do. Minecraft has licensing deals that can almost put Disney to shame. Plush toys, mini-games, clothing, cereal, computer mice, backpacks, LEGOs, and that's just the consumer-facing side of it. Mojang also uses Minecraft for a humanitarian purpose, with the game helping the United Nations with a project called Block by Block, which helps countries with urban development planning. Considering that Microsoft is involved both in helping others through its services and raking in money on licensing fees and patents, I can't see a better home for Mojang than with the Redmond-based tech giant. Plus, Windows Phone sales might skyrocket if a pocket version of Minecraft was made available for the platform.
No word yet on details like if the studio will move and who might be terminated, as Microsoft doesn't comment on things until they are official. We should have that information tomorrow, but what do you think of all this as it stands? Are you happy with the decision? Why or why not? Let it fly in the comments below.read more...
posted Sunday Aug 31, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
With the onslaught of data breaches happening lately, both online and in-store, it almost feels like nothing is safe anymore. You might be feeling a bit skeptical about even stepping foot outside or on the Web, and you might have good reason for feeling that way. This week, a report has come out that could make your palms sweat a little more. Even if you have a secure Wi-Fi password or PIN code for your one-touch WPS option, hackers can still crack the code in under a second.
Swiss researcher 0xcite released a new way to gain entry to those routers with pesky passwords. By simply going around the Wi-Fi Protected Setup button and using offline algorithms and calculations, instead of guessing for a PIN code for hours on end, you can now just take one guess to get in. And usually, you're into the router in the blink of an eye.
How does it work? Well, the presentation in the source link below has the finer details, but the gist of it is that there is an exploit that is found within some similar chipsets used in a lot of routers. The good news is that all routers aren't affected, but those using Broadcom chipsets and ones from another unnamed company can be at risk. The undisclosed company is currently working rapidly on a fix, which is part of the reason it's not being identified.
The Wi-Fi Alliance, the organization responsible for standards and practices in the world of wireless, has said that the vulnerability is probably due more on how a company sets up its wireless networking features and less on Wi-Fi itself. The Alliance has added that users should immediately turn off their WPS setup option and accept that dealing with a secure password might be a better option for now. Wi-Fi Alliance spokeswoman Carol Carrubba explained,
A vendor implementation that improperly generates random numbers is more susceptible to attack, and it appears as though this is the case with at least two devices. It is likely that the issue lies in the specific vendor implementations rather than the technology itself. As the published research does not identify specific products, we do not know whether any Wi-Fi certified devices are affected, and we are unable to confirm the findings.
Broadcom has not commented on the matter yet but 0xcite said they've reached out to both Broadcom and the other company to immediately fix the flaw. Nothing has been stated on a turnaround time for a patch to the problem as of yet, so it's on the user to protect themselves for now.read more...
posted Sunday Aug 31, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
One of the great and positive accomplishments of the Internet is the ability to save pieces of history forever. This happens every day on the Web, but one of the major projects has been archiving photographs from as early as 1500 onto Yahoo's newly renovated Flickr. The idea was that 14 million images from the Internet Archive Blog would be preserved on Flickr by Kalev Leetaru, a technology scholar. This week, the Flickr account eclipsed 2.5 million images that can now be searched, viewed and shared.
Leetaru has taken the task of scouring through 600 million pages in the Internet Archive, with help of course, in order to showcase history in a new and interesting way via Flickr. Previously, if one wanted to look at the 1600s version of Lolcats, the task would've proven more difficult. Now, within a few clicks, you can quickly take a glimpse into the past through a vast array of imagery.
As Leetaru puts it, for too long the Internet has been concerned with simply scanning in text and keeping that in PDF form.
For all these years all the libraries have been digitising their books, but they have been putting them up as PDFs or text searchable works. They have been focusing on the books as a collection of words. This inverts that.
The images he's after range from 1500 to 1922, when copyright laws place limitations on the ability to simply scan and preserve works of art and other media. Leetaru also developed him own software to accomplish this goal. Instead of previous OCR software that is able to ignore pictures, his code actually takes that information to specifically target images to save as individual files. The software is then able to snag a caption for each image, when applicable, and can grab the text right before and after the image as well. After that's done, the software automatically posts the image to Flickr, text included.
All of this came to be after Leetaru worked on a communications technology project at Georgetown University, where the research was funded by Yahoo, which explains how Flickr became the method of choice. "Stretching half a millennia, it's amazing to see the total range of images and how the portrayals of things have changed over time," he said. What's even cooler is the ability to type "cat" or "telephone" and you're then able to see all images that fall under the specific tag.
Leetaru has added that he wants to see Wikipedia and other common license organizations get involved with his Flickr endeavor so that all media can be tagged and categorized so it can be easily searched. Have you viewed the page yet? There's some pretty incredible images from over 300 years ago. What's your favorite? Let us know in the comments section below.read more...
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