Scott Ertz - Staff

Scott Ertz

Scott Ertz

Former Segment Host

Current Host

Current UpStream Contributor

Current Product Reviewer

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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 rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay 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 helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.

Recent UpStream Articles

YouTube videos appear to be safe in Google's planned account purges

posted Tuesday May 23, 2023 by Scott Ertz

YouTube videos appear to be safe in Google's planned account purges

This week, Google announced a new policy surrounding inactive Google accounts. The plan, according to a blog post is to purge accounts that have not been active for at least 2 years. The company has its reasons for the purge, but one concern remained: what would happen to YouTube videos for inactive accounts? Google has clarified and it did not go the way we expected.

The upcoming Google purge

Google's recent policy change targets inactive accounts. After two years of inactivity, Google will reserve the right to delete the account along with any data associated with it. This includes emails, documents, and photos. Google claims that there are several reasons why this is important. The first and most logical for the business is that storing stuff takes resources, and resources require money. By purging the accounts, the company saves money - plain and simple.

The other explanation, which is what they're pushing to the public, is that older accounts are less secure. In fact, abandoned or idle accounts are likely to be easily hacked because the passwords are older and likely exposed and are unlikely to have additional security. According to Google,

Our internal analysis shows abandoned accounts are at least 10x less likely than active accounts to have 2-step-verification set up. Meaning, these accounts are often vulnerable, and once an account is compromised, it can be used for anything from identity theft to a vector for unwanted or even malicious content, like spam.

The fate of YouTube content

One of the biggest questions that arose with this policy was the fate of older YouTube videos. There is a lot of really good content out there that was published by accounts that are no longer active, but the videos themselves are still popular. This could be from accounts that have been lost to accuess issues or even death. What would Google do with this account content?

Surprisingly, YouTube Creator Liaison Rene Ritchie confirmed via tweet that YouTube accounts would be safe. Other users piled onto the thread, pointing out that the new guidance mentions that YouTube videos were on the list of content to be purged. Ritchie then said it had been corrected, pointing out that the document now contained this language,

Additionally, we do not have plans to delete accounts with YouTube videos at this time.

While this confirmation does alleviate immediate fears for the loss of YouTube content, it isn't forever. The phrase "at this time" is always a point of concern for changes in the future. Of course, this could simply be Google using language that gives them the ability to change their minds in the future if it is required, or it could be an indication that perhaps they really were planning to dump YouTube videos until the community backlash.

If it is the latter, it is possible that Google could quietly change this policy in the future, using the "at this time" language to cover their actions. No matter what the future holds, at least we know that those bizarre older videos from dormant accounts are safe. For now.


New Top Level Domains will definitely make it easier for scammers

posted Monday May 22, 2023 by Scott Ertz

New Top Level Domains will definitely make it easier for scammers

A group petitions the ICANN every few years to introduce new Top Level Domains (TLD). These are the last part of a website we're familiar with and use daily. The most common, and the longest-lasting, are .com, .net, and .org. Recently, a new petition to add 8 new TLDs was submitted by Google. 6 of these TLDs are mostly innocuous, but 2 of them will make it easier for scammers to ruin your day (or more likely your parents).

What are Top Level Domains?

Top Level Domains, commonly abbreviated TLD, are the last part of a website's address that you are likely familiar with. For example, '' has the TLD .com at the end of it.

TLDs were originally created in 1984 and have been managed by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) ever since. ICANN is a non-profit that was created to manage the domain name system and other aspects of the internet.

The three most well-known TLDs are .com, .net, and .org. Each of these has been around for decades now and are some of the most universally recognized website suffixes available. Other popular TLDs include .info, .gov, and .edu.

When you register a domain name, it is important to make sure the TLD you choose matches your website's purpose. For example, if you are registering a professional website then a .com would be best suited as it implies commercial activities and is the most widely recognized. Alternatively, if you are registering a website for an educational institution then .edu would be more appropriate.

The problem with the new TLDs

Recently, Google had 8 new TLDs added to the internet. These new TLDs are .dad, .esq, .foo, .mov, .nexus, .phd, .prof, and .zip. Most of these are no problem, but if you're a regular internet user, you likely noticed .zip and .mov are included in the list. These are the ones that present a danger to less savvy internet users.

Now, you're reading this, you recognize them as common file extensions - for ZIP files and Apple video files. These are common file types for even those who are not familiar with technology. It is this commonality for the file extension that it creates issues for internet users.

Imagine getting an email that says something to the effect of you've got an invoice including a link to It would look to many that the link will open a ZIP file containing a digital invoice. However, it can now take you to a website on a domain called There is a lot of potential in this scenario to trick users into clicking on links that will inevitably be harmful to their computer.

This brings us back to a common theme when it comes to internet security - pay attention to links in emails. It doesn't matter if the link is to a website, a file, or an attachment. Assume that every link or attachment is trying to destroy you or steal from you and you'll be in better shape.


Microsoft games to be available on GeForce Now in new partnership

posted Monday May 22, 2023 by Scott Ertz

Microsoft games to be available on GeForce Now in new partnership

Microsoft has announced another new partnership for its Microsoft Studios games, both current and future: Nvidia. This new partnership will bring Xbox Studios games to another Microsoft competitor, GeForce Now. The partnership will bolster the cloud gaming platform whose business model was forced to change after launch, while also giving Microsoft another outlet for sales of games. Plus, it will look good across the globe - especially in the UK.

Microsoft partnerships grow

Over the past year, Microsoft has been on an absolute tear, working on new partnerships all over the gaming industry. They have made public commitments to bring games, those that it currently owns as well as any it acquires, to other platforms. In some cases, it's been with companies that they already work with, such as Nintendo. The company committed to making Call of Duty titles to Nintendo consoles, assuming Nintendo wanted the game on the platform if they were to acquire Activision.

In some cases, they have made commitments to companies that they have difficult relationships with, such as Sony. While both Sony and Nintendo are technically competitors of Xbox, Sony has been the company that has been unwilling to work with Microsoft. Sony famously fought the idea of crossplay between PlayStation and other consoles, though did finally come to the table. Despite these challenges, Microsoft has also made commitments to bring titles to the company's console.

This new relationship with Nvidia is just the next step in making sure that the industry knows that they are willing to play ball. The planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard has been rocky, with some governments signaling they wanted to block it. In fact, the UK has already taken steps to prevent the sale. But, it's not over just yet, and Microsoft is going about business as usual, also hoping that it looks good to those regulators.

Microsoft + Nvidia

While these companies have long had a relationship, this one is going to be different. Of course, Microsoft and Nvidia have worked together on Windows projects for decades - from video card drivers to AI systems. But, this will create a relationship in which Microsoft Studios games will be made available on GeForce Now. The brand has had its struggles since launch. Initially, the pitch was that any game you own could be used with the service. Then came the cease and desist notices from studios that had exclusive contracts with other cloud gaming platforms.

Shortly after, games began to disappear, making the service less appealing. Nvidia has been working hard to restore its catalog through partnerships. This new partnership with Microsoft Game Studios is going to be a big step in the process.

In the event that the Activision deal doesn't go through, GeForce Now will still be able to have access to games like Halo and The Elder Scrolls. This alone will be a great benefit to gamers across the world, but if the deal is completed, it will make GeForce Now an even more attractive platform.


Asus routers go offline unexpectedly, caused by bugged update

posted Monday May 22, 2023 by Scott Ertz

Asus routers go offline unexpectedly, caused by bugged update

It's always a rough day for users when an internet-connected device unexpectedly goes offline. We remember just a few months ago when Insteon devices went dark without any warning or communication. Customers had no idea what was going on or if there was a way to recover any of the devices they had built their smart homes upon. What rises above this in terms of internet issues is having your router go offline with seemingly no issue or recognition of the problem. This is exactly what Asus router owners experienced this week.

The beginning of the problem

On Wednesday, May 17, 2023, owners of Asus routers began watching their routers go offline across the world. In the beginning, there was no sign as to what the problem might be. So, using phones and other cellular-connected devices, users took to online forums, including Asus' own online help forum, looking for assistance. As time went on, more routers were going offline and more people were looking for assistance, so the conversations got bigger. While users were talking about the issue a lot, the company was not. At all.

For the next 2 days, users were being picked off in groups. It didn't seem to matter what part of the world the users were in, which model of router they had, or what their service provider was doing. The only connection was Asus routers universally. However, Asus was still completely silent on the issue. No responses in the forum, and no tweet from the company giving an update. In fact, there was absolutely no recognition that there was an issue at all, despite the activity in their own forum.

The issue revealed

It took nearly 48 hours from the first report of an offline router before Asus decided to recognize the issue. On Friday, Asus released a statement acknowledging that there was an issue, what it had discovered, and a solution to the problem. As it turns out, there was a configuration file error provided on their servers that was downloaded to the routers as part of a botched update. The config file prevented the routers from being able to continue operating correctly.

The company's first fix was to power cycle the router, getting their IT credentials from The IT Crowd. The hope is that before the router loses awareness of the internet, it will be able to grab the updated config file and be safe. If that doesn't work, which it likely won't, you've got to download a new version of the file yourself and upload it onto the router. If this isn't on your radar, you can also do a full router reset and it will grab the settings file before getting started.

The consumer problem

The issue here, as it was with Insteon, is that there was no communication from the company. As soon as it was aware there was a problem, Asus should have acknowledged its awareness of the problem. That helps owners understand that they're not insane and that they haven't done something wrong. These acknowledgments are important, and potentially legally mandated in certain parts of the world. In order to maintain face with your customers, the best bet is to be forthcoming not to be secretive.


Black Mirror is coming back just as its core subject comes to life

posted Tuesday May 2, 2023 by Scott Ertz

<cite>Black Mirror</cite> is coming back just as its core subject comes to life

If you are a fan of dystopian sci-fi series, then there's some really good news for you. Netflix has announced that Black Mirror season 6 is finally coming this June. The series has managed to address many traditional sci-fi tropes through a lens of the near future, making it ultra-realistic to viewers. And producers are bringing back the same feeling but with changes to the overall themes.

What is Black Mirror?

Black Mirror is a science fiction anthology series created by Charlie Brooker. It takes a critical look at modern society, particularly focusing on the unanticipated consequences of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, encryption, and other emerging phenomena. The show draws its inspiration from classic works of science fiction like The Twilight Zone but with its own unique twist.

Each episode of Black Mirror is a standalone story that explores the ways technology can manipulate and shape our lives, often leading to unethical or dangerous outcomes. It presents us with a narrative of human progress gone awry, with ethical dilemmas and stories about power, control, and manipulation at its core. In addition to its dark themes, the show also has moments of hope and optimism, as it presents us with scenarios that could be overcome if humanity were to work together in a more collaborative way.

The series has had a lasting impact on pop culture, inspiring countless spin-offs and parodies across media platforms. From an Emmy-winning interactive episode on Netflix to a critically acclaimed choose-your-own-adventure movie, Black Mirror has left an indelible mark in its wake. Its unique approach to storytelling has allowed it to explore complex topics without taking itself too seriously, adding an unexpected twist to the traditional sci-fi genre.

heading" class="UpStreamLink">Black Mirror Season 6 changes

With each new season, the show has continued to push boundaries, offering a mix of dark comedy and thought-provoking commentary on modern life. Ultimately, Black Mirror serves as a reminder that no matter how technology evolves, our humanity remains at its core. As long as we can remember what makes us human in the first place, there's no limit to the heights we can reach.

The newest season intends to take a look at new topics and tropes, some of which were previously off limits to the series. Brooker told Netflix's Tudum,

Partly as a challenge, and partly to keep things fresh for both me and the viewer, I began this season by deliberately upending some of my own core assumptions about what to expect. Consequently, this time, alongside some of the more familiar Black Mirror tropes we've also got a few new elements, including some I've previously sworn blind the show would never do, to stretch the parameters of what 'a Black Mirror episode' even is. The stories are all still tonally Black Mirror through-and-through - but with some crazy swings and more variety than ever before.

In addition to new themes, we can expect to see some new high-profile actors joining the cast. Among those already announced are: Aaron Paul, Josh Hartnett,, Michael Cera, Rory Culkin, and Salma Hayek Pinault.

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