Scott Ertz - Staff

Scott Ertz

Scott Ertz

Former Segment Host

Current Host

Current UpStream Contributor

Current Product Reviewer

Current Episode Author

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Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLuGHiTz Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the DDR community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bar Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and judging engineering notebooks at competitions. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors.

Recent UpStream Articles

Following MoviePass, Sinemia has ended their United States operations

posted Saturday Apr 27, 2019 by Scott Ertz

Following MoviePass, Sinemia has ended their United States operations

It has only been 7 months since Sinemia brought its MoviePass competitor from Europe to the United States. The company first launched its unlimited movie subscription service in 2014 but decided to try its hand in the US market following the constant MoviePass disaster. While MoviePass was unable to be financially stable at $10 per month, Sinemia believed that $30 per month would be the big difference for them.

Unfortunately for Sinemia, they seem to have underestimated the market's desire to see movies with a deal and fell victim to the same problem that took out MoviePass. Effective immediately, the company has shut down its US operations entirely. According to a note from the company on their website,

We are all witnessing that the future of moviegoing is evolving through movie ticket subscriptions. However, we didn't see a path to sustainability as an independent movie ticket subscription service in the face of competition from movie theaters as they build their own subscriptions. Thanks to the cost advantage and cross-sell opportunities, movie theaters will be prominent in the movie ticket subscription economy.

For many of us, the expectation for success is in the same hands that Sinemia sees: the theater groups themselves. Both MoviePass and Sinemia were forced to purchase tickets from the theaters for full or near retail price, meaning that it didn't take long for the subscription price to no longer cover the cost of tickets. For MoviePass, in most markets, the first ticket sold was a loser for them. For Sinemia, with its higher price, it took until the third ticket for most markets.

For the theater groups, however, the costs are obviously very different. They wouldn't be paying retail price, but the wholesale price, for the tickets. If someone can make the business model work, it's going to be them.

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2 to become 1 with upcoming changes to Amazon Prime shipping

posted Saturday Apr 27, 2019 by Scott Ertz

2 to become 1 with upcoming changes to Amazon Prime shipping

We all know the standard features of Amazon Prime: free 2-day shipping on most of your orders. We've opened the *DRM Not Included section of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology with that line every week for over a year. But, all of that is about to change, thanks to a new policy from Amazon. The company has announced its intentions to turn 2-day shipping into 1-day shipping for most orders.

On an earnings conference call, finance chief Brian Olsavsky said that the company is working hard and spending millions of dollars to update its infrastructure to support this change in policy. In fact, this quarter alone, the company has spent around $800 million in preparation to roll-out 1-day shipping for Prime members. If you're a Prime subscriber, you may have already noticed some of the changes. Previously, there had been a $35 minimum on orders being shipped same day, but that requirement has already been dropped. They have also expanded the number of SKUs available on the site that are eligible for same day shipping.

This is going to be a big and exciting change for users of the site. However, not everyone is as excited about the change. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which has been against any moves made by Amazon to improve their customer experience, said that it is worried about the working experience for warehouse workers. The claim is that at 2-day, the pace is already too fast for more of the workers, and increasing the delivery turnaround would put more stress on them.

Of course, changing how fast the packages are delivered will change what day the orders are processed, but will not likely change the pace at which they are processed. Plus, and additional processing will almost certainly be handled by the increasing number of robots that inhabit Amazon warehouses. That change will also not make the union happy, but there isn't a lot that can be done about it.

There is no specific timeline for rollout, but it looks as if it will be done in phases, starting now.

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Despite trends, report suggests PC gamers will move to console

posted Saturday Apr 27, 2019 by Scott Ertz

If you know anything about PC gamers, you know that they look down on console gamers. They claim that console gaming can never stand up to the capabilities of PC gaming. PCs have the ability to upgrade hardware, creating capabilities that a console simply cannot replicate with its standardized hardware. But, a new study suggests that the superiority complex will come to an end in the fairly near future.

According to the report, by the year 2022, it is estimated that as many as 20 million PC gamers will make the switch to consoles. This theory is being led by the fact that PC hardware is simply not changing as fast as it once did. System processors have not really gotten faster, with most of the focus going into power efficiency and heat conservation. In addition, the cost of video cards has increased over the last few years, in part because of the trend of cryptocurrency mining.

The next generation of consoles is likely to have hardware that rivals many gaming PCs on the market. Microsoft and Sony have both been working on their next hardware releases, with information to be released in the next few months. While this hardware will not likely be upgradable in the way a PC is, it will likely be powerful enough to stand up to the changes that are coming to the gaming industry.

The biggest change is in the way games are being delivered. With Microsoft and Google working to deliver modern games instantly through streaming, the requirements on the system hardware will be less important than the requirements on the network connection. It will allow more powerful, more graphically intense games to be played on the same hardware we use today.

In reality, the idea of PC gamers moving exclusively to consoles and smart TVs seems like a jump that could only be made by someone outside of the industry looking inside. A change in technology is more likely to change the amount of PC that gamers need, rather than the type of system that is used.

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Samsung's Fold troubles seem to be a repeat of past mistakes

posted Saturday Apr 27, 2019 by Scott Ertz

Samsung's Fold troubles seem to be a repeat of past mistakes

Unless you've been hiding from the internet, you've likely heard that the Samsung Galaxy Fold has had a rough go of it leading up to its public release. It all started when Samsung sent review units to a handful of publications. Many of these reviewers discovered very quickly one vital flaw: the glass breaks within a few days. In some cases, it was a crack across the seam, while others lost most or all of the LCD panel in the process. Following the problems, Samsung recalled all of the review units, leaving zero units in the wild.

Or so they thought. Through "a trusted partner," teardown website iFixIt received a unit and worked their usual magic. As part of their review, they discovered what was likely happening to these review units. An apparent shipping screen protector turns out to vital to the structural integrity of the phone. It is also surprisingly easy for something to fall behind the screen, making a full-screen crack unavoidable. When Samsung discovered the teardown, they asked that iFixIt remove their piece, and the website complied.

With that, the best bit of information about the Galaxy Fold has disappeared. This is important because the Galaxy Fold is not going anywhere. While the launch is delayed, it is not delayed enough to build a whole new collection of devices or to do any major fix to the existing design. This is a $2000 phone which has proven itself to be nothing more than a public prototype without the label.

The other problem is that this is not Samsung's first disastrous device launch. The world all remembers the exploding Note7 devices. Samsung never got their hands around the message, and it nearly destroyed their reputation. Almost exactly a year ago, we had a discussion about Samsung's focus on deadlines over quality, and here we are once again. At least this time they're trying to control the message, but with such a heavy hand, it might backfire on them.

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YouTube expands media offerings, new channels, increases TV pricing

posted Saturday Apr 13, 2019 by Scott Ertz

YouTube expands media offerings, new channels, increases TV pricing

In the past few years, YouTube has made a lot of changes. They've added new services, such as YouTube Premium (previously YouTube Red) and YouTube TV. They've created original content and licensed movies and TV shows. They even began retiring Google Play Music in favor of YouTube Music. This week, some new additions are being added to several of the YouTube properties.

YouTube Originals

It would appear that YouTube is being incredibly inspired by Netflix, as the company has confirmed that they are working on interactive or choose your own adventure style programming. After the social media success of Netflix's Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, and the release of the new You vs Wild, it is no surprise that YouTube would pick up on this style of programming. Based on previous rumors, it will be interesting to see if they hide this program behind the YouTube Premium paywall, or if this will be available for all viewers. It will also be interesting to see if YouTube makes the technology that makes this possible available to all creators.

YouTube TV

The YouTube TV streaming service launched 2 years ago for $35 per month. It competed with Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, Hulu with Live TV, and more. The big selling point was towards cord cutters who were looking to lower their bills on unnecessary services, like cable TV. Since then, the brand seems to have lost its focus, adding mandatory channels and increasing the monthly price as a result. The cord cutters have had to make a decision as to whether the service was worth the more expensive prices, and that is about to happen again.

The monthly price for YouTube TV is about to increase to $50 per month. That is more than I pay per month for traditional cable service, which comes with hundreds upon hundreds of channels. The enhanced price for YouTube TV will come with more than 70 channels, including the newly added Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, Food Network, HGTV, Investigation Discovery, MotorTrend, TLC, and Travel Channel. All of those networks have limited, niche appeal, but will be mandatory on your plan.

It feels like YouTube TV is falling into the same trap that cable TV, as well as a number of the alternative services, have fallen into: one big bundle. Cord cutters are looking for the ability to customize their services in order to cut costs, but this does just the opposite. Streaming TV service might want to work harder to create customizable packages to attract that core customer.

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