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 Apr 13, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
With PAX East happening this week, obviously everyone involved in gaming is surrounding the event, either in-person or through coverage. At one of the earlier panels, Penny Arcade founders Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins officially announced plans to expand PAX to the south with PAX South. The convention will take place January 23rd through the 25th in San Antonio, TX.
This will be the fourth annual expo to be held by Penny Arcade since PAX began in 2004. From what started with just over 3,000 congregating in a Seattle convention center expanded in 2010 to PAX East in Boston and PAX Australia last year. Both shows here in the States usually get around 60,000 fans and tickets are sold out minutes after they go on sale.
Penny Arcade Business Manager Robert Khoo said,
Since its launch in 2004, PAX events have doubled in size almost every year, and our Seattle and Boston events represent the two largest gaming festivals in North America. We've been hearing for years that those in the south had a tough time making it to the northern corners of the country; PAX South has always been a matter of 'when' rather than 'if.'
Khoo even tweeted a picture of a wall of clocks, with an unnamed clock set to the Central Time Zone. Many assumed Chicago would be the next choice, but luckily the folks in the south are now able to have PAX in their backyard.
Khoo also took some time to address some of the issues surrounding Penny Arcade in a recent interview with Polygon. On the topics of rape and gender identity, both founders have said some pretty insensitive things. Congoers sometimes feel out of place at the events, leading to a level of segregation between cosplayers and regular fans, with cosplayers even being publically ridiculed and humiliated. Of course, the parties involved have now apologized for their comments and are trying to make the convention a better place for all people who attend. Krahulik made a public New Year's Resolution to change himself and his company. Khoo said in the interview that, "I really do believe we're done with these incidents" and that exhibitors haven't pulled out of the conventions as a result of the remarks, given the apologies.
Are you excited about PAX South? Are you boycotting all PAX events? The events that have transpired to lead up to public outcry could fill an entire day, so we won't get into all of it here. However, we do want to know what you think in the comments below, so feel free to sound off. For me, I know that if the overall sentiment from PAX East is that the founders have actually done a good job improving the atmosphere and their behavior, then I might be more inclined to attend my first PAX event ever in San Antonio.read more...
posted Sunday Apr 13, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
For the past five years, Microsoft has transitioned from making the Xbox brand just about gaming and focusing it more on being the center of all your family entertainment. And with the announcement of original programming on Xbox One, Microsoft's mission was being carried on into the next generation of consoles. Because of this, Microsoft dove into some details on what we should expect to see on the One starting this summer.
Microsoft's new Xbox TV Studio will roll out a handful of shows starting in June, with another dozen being worked on in the wings. The studio, run by former CBS exec Nancy Tellem, has been working for the past 19 months to put together a compelling lineup that should have something for everyone.
Starting with the obvious one, we already know about the Steven Spielberg-directed Halo show, executive produced by Ridley Scott and David Zucker. That's been the talk of the town since E3. However, what else is in store?
Well, there's a show called Humans, which is a sci-fi thriller about humanoid robot workers. Written by British duo Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley, it takes place in a parallel present-day world where everyone has to have the latest gadget called the "Synth," a robotic butler, if you will. As you could guess, the bots become self-aware and might destroy the world. It's like they were watching our Night Cap or something. Microsoft partnered up with UK's Channel 4 to deliver us what should be a great show.
As Tellem tells us,
Humans' not only questions personal relationships, we loved how this sci-fi show toys with reality and our connection to technology. This deal with Channel 4 and Kudos underscores Xbox Entertainment Studios' commitment to programming premium TV series with global partners and creating engaging interactive experiences.
We'll also see the release of Every Street United, an unscripted show surrounding the sport of street soccer. Award-winning producers Simon and Jonathan Chinn will bring us a tech-focused documentary series. Xbox TV Studio will be bringing us live coverage of the entire Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, complete with after-performance interviews using Skype. Sarah Silverman and Michael Cera's JASH comedy group has been brought on to deliver both a comedy sketch show and a stop-motion show with Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, the team behind the popular Adult Swim show, Robot Chicken. There's also a pilot ordered for an unscripted series Fearless, where an Australian Navy bomb clearance diver Paul de Gelder suffers lost limbs from a shark attack and tries to help people around the world.
We do know that Every Street United will be offered free to Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles, but Tellem said that the company is working on the business models for the rest of the content. The good news is that almost every show will have some sort of interactivity, either by using SmartGlass or the multitasking features on the Xbox One.
It looks like the Xbox consoles, specifically the Xbox One, are ready to take on the original content from rivals like Amazon Instant Video, Hulu and Netflix. Which shows are you excited for? Tell us in the comments section below.read more...
posted Sunday Apr 13, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
While it may not be like an AT&T/T-Mobile or Comcast/Time Warner merger, this one surely has a Verizon/Alltel feel to it. That's because this week, Verizon Wireless acquired regional carrier Cincinnati Bell's wireless spectrum for $210 million.
Citing economic challenges in operating a wireless spectrum, Cincinnati Bell dumping off the spectrum to Verizon Wireless gives the second-largest wireless carrier more ability to improve coverage and infrastructure in areas where the company was struggling to maintain a quality network. Greater Cincinnati, Dayton, northern Kentucky and southeastern Indiana are the four key markets who will be affected most by the acquisition, where customers were only getting GSM-based 2G, 3G and HSPA+ speeds across 460 towers.
"We appreciate the loyal support from our Cincinnati Bell Wireless customers over the last sixteen years, and we remain committed to providing them with wireless service and support throughout the transition period," said Ted Torbeck, President and CEO of Cincinnati Bell. Torbeck also mentioned that customers shouldn't worry about taking any action at this time.
While the transaction with Verizon Wireless is under regulatory review Cincinnati Bell Wireless will continue to operate business as usual. There will be no changes or interruptions in your wireless services until sometime during the first quarter of 2015.
For Cincinnati Bell, this deal will finish out the company offering wireless to its customers, which has been a tough market to stay competitive in. CBell had 398,000 wireless customers in 2012 and dropped to 340,000 in December of 2013. When the deal closes some time in the next six months, wireless operations will end for the regional carrier within a year after that.
Until then, Cincinnati Bell will actually lease back several spectrum licenses from Verizon Wireless in order to maintain wireless coverage to its customers before closing up shop on the mobile side. The company will continue to offer TV and broadband, and is currently exploring fiber optic service in the area. "This transaction not only ensures that our customers have access to top-tier wireless service, but it also gives us increased flexibility to meet their growing demand for our Fioptics suite of products," said Torbeck.read more...
Cincinnati Bell:Cincinnati Bell to Sell Wireless Spectrum Licenses
posted Sunday Mar 30, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
Facebook has officially entered every realm of our lives, as if the company has not done that already. By announcing its plan to acquire Oculus VR, the company responsible for the Oculus Rift, Zuckerberg's now entered not only our reality but our virtual reality. And he's done it for a mere $2 billion in cash and stock. $400 million of the total purchase will come in cash, along with 23.1 million Facebook shares. Another $300 million will be handed out in both stock and cash if Oculus hits undisclosed benchmarks and goals that Facebook set forth.
Zuckerberg made the announcement this week in a conference call, followed by a post on his Facebook page, naturally. No word on if he has to pay to promote his posts.
I'm excited to announce that we've agreed to acquire Oculus VR, the leader in virtual reality technology.
Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. For the past few years, this has mostly meant building mobile apps that help you share with the people you care about. We have a lot more to do on mobile, but at this point we feel we're in a position where we can start focusing on what platforms will come next to enable even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences.
In his post, he also mentions future plans of blending your entire life together by just "putting on goggles at home" and no longer needing to leave the house to do anything. And if you really think about it, it makes a lot of sense why Facebook picked up Oculus VR. All jokes aside, people spend a lot of time on social media, be it on mobile or at a computer. Now, instead of just connecting to your favorite sites and activities in the real world, you can achieve that in the virtual world, so of course Facebook would want a huge part in your alternative virtual lifestyle as well.
Now what does this mean for Oculus? Well, according to the company's blog post on the acquisition, Facebook has been talking with the crew at Oculus for a few months now. With 75,000 development kits already ordered and popularity reaching a national level, great things have come to the company in the past 18 months. Oculus seems to be riding the wave of success with such a large acquisition and with that, the virtual reality start-up says it gives the developers the "best shot at truly changing the world." And, until the Facebook culture changes their mentality, I fully believe and support these values and mission.
While Oculus VR and Facebook are extremely happy about this, obviously there are some not-so-happy campers related to the news. Specifically, Kickstarter backers of Oculus VR and the Rift who are now demanding their money back because they don't support Facebook. Now that Oculus VR has "gone corporate", many backers feel that they're owed something. Funny enough, some even thought that they were backing a "hobby and (someone who) just wanted to do something fun for the community." Sure you were.
So they've taken to the streets of social media, including Facebook, to voice their concerns. However if you're keen on the rules of crowd-funding, Kickstarter donors do not get any special returns in cases of a buyout or some type of major investment funding and they surely do not have a say in the financial or operational ends of the company's business. At any rate, Oculus VR was able to gain $2.4 million in donations from over 9,500 different people and over $90 million in venture capital funding in under 24 months. That is one of the reasons the group was able to pick up a $2 billion valuation from Facebook.
Of course there are some defending Kickstarter backers as well, and they've also voiced their concerns in several outlets, saying that the company will now have more means to produce the great product that everyone has supported up until now. A lot of people agree with that sentiment, however fear that something like a very annoying Facebook logo with irrelevant ads will show up in their virtual view.
Things like that are what scared Minecraft founder Notch from continuing to work on a version of Minecraft to Oculus. He quickly took to Twitter to say that,
We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus. I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out.
At any rate, all of this is still very new and a lot of dust will have to settle to see if Oculus VR will remain true to its initial vision: to actually change the world through virtual reality. Until then, we await the approval of the $2 billion acquisition and hope that people don't lose faith just yet in a pretty great product. If that happens, however, it might play perfectly into Sony's hands, which are currently juggling money and staff problems in one hand and VR competitor Project Morpheus on the other.read more...
posted Sunday Mar 30, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
If you've been keeping up with Sony news, you'd know the company has been in trouble for a while. With key exec layoffs in the media division that led to a quarter-million dollar budget cut and a layoff of over 200 employees shortly after, more bad news continues to plague the tech giant. Following a prediction of a $1.1 billion loss for Sony, CFO Masaru Kato will be leaving the company effective April 1.
Announced by CEO Kaz Hirai as a planned transition, Kenichiro Yoshida will be taking over the position on that date. Yoshida has had plenty of experience working in different positions with Sony since starting with the company back in 1983, and he's also been the deputy CFO since early December, so the transition should be a natural one for him.
On the news, Sony spokeswoman Yo Kikuchi said, "After discussing the matter over the last four months, we decided it would be appropriate to appoint Yoshida at the beginning of the new financial year."
For Kato, while he will be leaving the CFO role, he will also drop his executive VP title as well. However, he will stay on with Sony as a director and will become a vice chairman on the board.
Cost-cutting measures will continue for Sony, with the company also selling a large property next to its HQ to a real estate company for just over $68 million. Hirai also mentioned other cuts that will be happening in the next quarter but did not disclose what they were. There's not much meat left on the Sony steak, though, so it will be an interesting ride over the next year to see where Sony cuts next.read more...
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