The UpStream (Page 169)

Feds Prosecute Man Who Allegedly Tried to Scam Facebook CEO for Billions

posted Sunday Jul 6, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Feds Prosecute Man Who Allegedly Tried to Scam Facebook CEO for Billions

Since 2010, Mark Zuckerberg has been fighting allegations that he owes half of Facebook's worth to a guy named Paul Ceglia. Ceglia claims that the contract he presented police officers and judges is in fact real. The man is being prosecuted by New York federal attorneys on allegations that the contract is forged. And in November, Ceglia will be defending himself as the case will be making its way to trial.

A federal judge actually called the contract a "fabrication" and this ruling has been the firepower needed for the prosecution to go after this alleged scammer. Ceglia has countered saying that Zuckerberg has actually framed and hacked him, and that the contract is indeed the real deal.

The prosecution had this to say in a court filing this week.

The Government believes that Ceglia's theory, as he has argued in the Civil Case-with no basis for this argument-is that Zuckerberg somehow 'hacked' in to Ceglia's computer to plant a copy of what the Government alleges is the legitimate contract. At best, Ceglia will only be able to present this baseless argument through cross examination of Zuckerberg.

Here's where Ceglia takes it a step further. He is insisting that the courts force Zuckerberg to surrender all phones, hard drives, email accounts and computers that were used back in 2003 and 2004, as he says they will have the evidence needed to prove that he's not crazy. Prosecuters disagree and say that hsi is a "fishing expedition" and have requested the courts to reject the notion.

The contract in question, Ceglia says, was created in 2003 when young Harvard Zuckerberg went to work for Ceglia's online company StreetFax. He claims that the two drew up a Work for Hire agreement but a forensics report states that while examiners found a Work for Hire contract on Ceglia's computer, there is no mention of Facebook in it at all. The feds say that Ceglia simply removed the first page of a 2003 contract and made a new one with mentions of Facebook in it. There's spacing and margin errors, and other anomalies that would suggest that it wasn't created at the same time. What's more is that the first page also mentions StreetFax LLC, but Ceglia has said that the company wasn't incorporated until four months after the second page of the contract was allegedly signed by Zuckerberg.

All of this is definitely crazy and we'll have to follow what happens to this guy. If he does happen to win, which is probably a long shot, he would be exonerated of all charges and could go after the Facebook CEO for half of the $170 billion market cap that is the social network giant.

Cliff Bleszinski Launches New Startup Boss Key Productions with Former EA Exec

posted Sunday Jul 6, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Cliff Bleszinski Launches New Startup Boss Key Productions with Former EA Exec

Have you wondered what Cliff Bleszinski has been up to lately? So has the rest of the gaming world. The man who spent 20 years working at Epic Games as a director and designer has been exploring the world since his departure back in 2012. However when pressed, he never really got into detail on what the future held for him. That is until June 30th, when he said on Twitter, "I'm officially coming out of retirement to make video games again." Well, the Internet got busy like it usually does and found out within days what he was up to.

It was discovered on the 4th of July that Bleszinski has formed a new game studio, Boss Key Productions, and he's brought along a pretty good partner. Former EA producer and co-founder of Guerilla Games, Arjan Brussee, is joining in on the venture. The two filed documents with the State of North Carolina to incorporate the business back in April. It's surprising that it took the Internet this long to find out about the new company, considering Epic Games is also based in NC.

At any rate, of course Bleszinski was asked about this new discovery, but he only responded with a pretty general statement.

I find it promising and exciting that there's such interest in what I do next that people are willing to look up from their Bud Lite and hot dogs and fireworks and continue to talk about what I may be doing next in my professional career.

It should also be noted that on top of the Boss Key website launching on Friday, the company filed documents with the US Patent and Trademark Office on May 30th that details Boss Key producing goods and services that indicate the studio would be making online games, naturally. To be specific, the document says things about "downloadable multi-player interactive computer game programs; computer and video game software; downloadable computer and video game software; downloadable electronic games via the Internet and wireless devices; downloadable computer application software in the field of games; interactive computer and video game programs."

What would be the first game to come out of the studio? Well, it might be Project Bluestreak, which has a website that has a countdown timer leading us to July 8th, when Cliff might make the announcement. But he won't speak further on the matter.

I do not comment on rumors and speculation on the birthday of the nation that could allow a game designer to have a fantastic 20 year run at his first studio and then take nearly two years off only to seek out funding and start his new lean, agile, fun startup in Raleigh, N.C.

So for now, we'll have to wait and see, however Tuesday isn't far away. Hopefully we'll see some of those lean, agile and fun things Bleszinski mentioned in the coming months. I can't wait to see what will come out of Boss Key Productions.

Antennas Direct Offers Free Antenna Package to Former Aereo Subscribers

posted Saturday Jul 5, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Antennas Direct Offers Free Antenna Package to Former Aereo Subscribers

It only took a week for Aereo's demise to turn into treasure for some other company. At least it benefits Aereo's former customers in this case. Antennas Direct, an antenna company based out of Missouri, has offered free, high-quality outdoor antennas to 1,000 Aereo customers.

In a blog post on the announcement, the company said,

Aereo Customers

We have a solution to the Supreme Court ruling that resulted in the loss of your local broadcast television: A FREE antenna from Antennas Direct.

We are giving away 1,000 antennas to Aereo subscribers! You must hurry; offer is good while supplies last.

We will ship you a FREE ClearStream™ 2 Complete antenna (50+ Mile Range), 30 ft. of coaxial cable, and 20" J-Mount (MSRP $129.99).

To receive your free antenna, simply upload your Aereo billing statement and pay $10.00 for shipping.

Shipping takes 7 to 10 business days to the lower 48 states.

Upon clicking on the link to get more info on the bundle, it's pretty simply to get a ClearStream 2 Complete package. There's a spot for you to upload your form and essentially you're done. I also looked up the regular price of the bundle and it normally costs $234.96. So for Antennas Direct to offer this, for free, to 1,000 customers, it's definitely not a bad deal and is a great way for the company to get some positive publicity. I also like that the company isn't giving away a cheap indoor antenna but instead is providing something of very high quality that can attach nicely to a residence.

At the time of this writing, there are still antennas left to be given out. And for just $10, there's no reason that any former Aereo subscriber shouldn't get take advantage of this deal.

Are you interested in this? Do you think it's right or wrong for Antennas Direct to take advantage of the misfortune of a company? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

FTC Accuses T-Mobile of Fake Charges on Customer Bills, Files Lawsuit

posted Saturday Jul 5, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

FTC Accuses T-Mobile of Fake Charges on Customer Bills, Files Lawsuit

Last week, T-Mobile's CEO John Legere brought some negative attention to the company when he went on one of his typical profanity-filled tirades, except he went a little too far. This week, more bad attention comes to the "uncarrier" as the Federal Trade Commission has accused T-Mobile of issuing false charges on their customers' monthly bills, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Because of this, the FTC has filed a lawsuit against the pink telecom company.

You know those weird and odd phone bill charges you sometimes get and don't know where they came from? Back in the day, perhaps your phone number was sold to some third-party who would, in turn, send you your daily horoscope, ringtones, wallpapers or other silly things. In today's age, those charges unknowingly showing up on your bill are becoming harder and harder to come by and usually you have to authorize them by replying with "yes" on your device. However the FTC claims that T-Mobile is actually hiding these charges on your monthly bill.

The FTC says T-Mobile has charged customers for their phone usage as usual, but have also lumped these other monthly subscriptions charges into that same line item without the customers knowing or agreeing to it. This "Phone Usage" item would usually be reserved for things like texting and maybe going over on your minutes. Then, in the expanded billing charges, there would be some vague and non-descriptive explanation of the charge, like "8888906150 BmStorm23918" from "Shaboom Media" for a $9.99 subscription. Nobody except T-Mobile would know what that is. Even worse, T-Mobile has been keeping up to 40 percent of these amounts for themselves, and this is after customers have called in and complained about unauthorized charges.

FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement,

It's wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent. The FTC's goal is to ensure that T-Mobile repays all its customers for these crammed charges.

Obviously if you are one of T-Mobile's customers you need to go look at your expanded and detailed bill and make sure you're not victim to this as well. Then, call T-Mobile and demand your money back for each and every month you have these charges. The FTC is working on getting you your money back as well, but there's no guaranteed as of yet. This is because our very good friend, CEO John Legere, has responded to the lawsuit and says it was "unfounded and without merit." Here's the full statement:

We have seen the complaint filed today by the FTC and find it to be unfounded and without merit. In fact, T-Mobile stopped billing for these Premium SMS services last year and launched a proactive program to provide full refunds for any customer that feels that they were charged for something they did not want. T-Mobile is fighting harder than any of the carriers to change the way the wireless industry operates, and we are disappointed that the FTC has chosen to file this action against the most pro-consumer company in the industry-rather than the real bad actors.

As the Un-carrier, we believe that customers should only pay for what they want and what they sign up for. We exited this business late last year and announced an aggressive program to take care of customers, and we are disappointed that the FTC has instead chosen to file this sensationalized legal action. We are the first to take action for the consumer, and I am calling for the entire industry to do the same.

This is about doing what is right for consumers, and we put in place procedures to protect our customers from unauthorized charges. Unfortunately, not all of these third party providers acted responsibly-an issue the entire industry faced. We believe those providers should be held accountable and that the FTC's lawsuit seeking to hold T-Mobile responsible for their acts is not only factually and legally unfounded but also misdirected.

Now, I'd believe Legere if customers haven't complained to the FTC and T-Mobile as late as last month about these exact things the FTC is going after the carrier for. However I am surprised he was able to restrain himself or his handler from including expletives in his statement. Impressive.

I should also note that the FTC has not denied that any other carrier is doing this, too, so it would be advised that everyone who has a monthly bill with a cell provider (so, everyone) look over their recent bills with excruciating detail and report any erroneous charges to their carrier. We will keep you up-to-date with this lawsuit as in progresses.

Samsung Abandons Content, Focuses on Hardware

posted Friday Jul 4, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Samsung Abandons Content, Focuses on Hardware

The digital media distribution business is a tough one. While many companies have tried to sell digital goods, only a few have been successful. In the videos space there's really only been four: iTunes, Xbox Video, Amazon and Google Play. Because of this, Samsung has decided to leave the industry to the big boys.

As of August 1st Media Hub and Video Hub will be shut down. If you've made purchases there either of these services you will be able to transfer them to M-Go for free. You will also get a $5 gift card and 50% discount on future rentals. At least that should ease the pain for the few who were using the services.

This is not the first time Samsung has decided to close a media business. Just this month Samsung closed its Music Hub. That service was intended to take on Spotify and Xbox Music. Obviously it was not successful either.

But this is not the end for Samsung and media. Even while closing one music door they opened another. Samsung's new, strangely named, Milk Music is intended to take on Pandora with a shuffled streaming model. The service is currently ad free, though that will change.

It also appears that Samsung is not done with video. Working again with M-Go, Samsung plans to launch a streaming 4k video service. Just like their remodeled music service this appears to be all about changing the business model. Rather than competing against Apple and Microsoft, Samsung now plans to compete against Netflix and Hulu.

What I can't tell is whether this is an intelligent pivot from a company who recognized that their products did not match their strong suits, or a desperate shift to an market that they believe will return more money. If it's the former, Samsung will have to bring something to the table. If it's the latter, Samsung will squeeze until they don't see a return and move on to a new pet project. Either way, what I don't think Samsung is prepared for is the fierce competition in the video streaming market.

Yahoo Kills More Projects, Again

posted Friday Jul 4, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Yahoo Kills More Projects, Again

Since Marissa Mayer took over Yahoo, the company has seen a lot of changes. From product makeovers to acquisitions and even entirely new features, today's Yahoo is very different from the day Marissa became CEO. One of her biggest staples has been closing up products that are no longer serving their purpose or would be better served in another Yahoo product.

This week Yahoo announced another round of products closures. Most notable is Xobni, a company that Yahoo purchased only a year ago. The service, which provided smart email features, will be merged into Yahoo's existing email offering. This includes their people-centric search, which allows you to view both sent and received emails from a person, and auto-suggest, which predicts who you're going to send the email to.

Other closing products are
  • - Bookmarking tool. Integrated into Yahoo Toolbar and Yahoo Extension for Chrome.
  • Newlook - Virtual makeover tool. No replacement.
  • Research Reports - Yahoo Finance report generator. No replacement.
  • Yahoo People Search - Separate search engine for people. Integrated into standard Yahoo Search.
  • Yahoo Shine - A health and living site. Integrated into other Yahoo digital magazines.
  • Yahoo Toolbar for Chrome - Replaced by Yahoo Extension for Chrome.
  • Yahoo Voices and Contributors Network - Yahoo content contribution system. Yahoo now curates its content; no replacement.

With resources from these products freed up Marissa can continue to focus on Yahoo's new focus services. For example, Yahoo Video, which recently saved cancelled NBC series Community and has access to the entire Saturday Night Live catalog. She will also be able to focus resources on Yahoo Mail which, after its remodel, received less than favorable reviews.

Are you a user of any of these products and services? Do you think Mayer's approach to revitalizing Yahoo is correct? Sound off in the comments.

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