The UpStream

Ballmer to Step Down as CEO Within 12 Months

posted Saturday Aug 24, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Ballmer to Step Down as CEO Within 12 Months

After 13 years as CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer has announced his intention to retire within the next 12 months. In his time at the helm, the company has tripled its revenue and doubled its profits, which certainly is a positive legacy.

The reason for the ambiguity on the timeline is the fact that the transition of power has not been decided. With that said, Ballmer will remain at the top of the pyramid until his successor is chosen and the transition path is planned and executed. This decision is a tough one for a company who has never had to consider the future management of the company, as it has always been in the hands of its founders.

If the transition out of the company was inevitable, this is a good time to get it started. The company has recently had a structural shake-up, and placing someone at the top of the company who has the intention to stay with the company to watch over the transition is a great idea. While the new leadership structure will happen at once, the One Microsoft strategy will take time and a lot dedication from the top, meaning a leader who is up to the challenge.

Ballmer said of the timing,

There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time. We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company's transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.

As the company is transitioning to a whole new philosophy, I hope that they are capable of choosing a new CEO that will be capable of executing the One Microsoft ideal. Who would you like to see at the top of the company? Let us know in the comments section.

EA Unleashes Fury of New Game Info at Gamescom 2013

posted Wednesday Aug 21, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

EA Unleashes Fury of New Game Info at Gamescom 2013

This week is Gamescom in Cologne, Germany and is a perfect time for game studios to ready their fanbase and press for the upcoming holiday season. It's also a good time to clear up any fog from the aftermath of E3 and prepare for PAX Prime next weekend in Seattle. This year's overseas event has proven to be very fruitful, especially for EA, who unleashed a fury of news about several upcoming big name titles.

Starting with BioWare, the studio unveiled a brand new behind-the-scenes look into the world of their latest game, Dragon Age: Inquisition. While their wasn't much gameplay, which BioWare said we should expect for PAX, the video entitled "A World Unveiled" showed the creative team talking and planning the entire game, from storyline to landscaping.

EA also brought attention to the ever-popular Command & Conquer franchise. Specifically, the company announced that they will be adding episodic and story-driven campaign missions to Command & Conquer, which will be ready for the public as soon as early next year. Also, the next iteration of the game will be a free-to-play game, with the studio's mission to consistently add new and exciting storylines throughout the next year. VP and GM at EA, Jon Van Caneghem, said he was excited to see the game play off the fan's suggestions.

When we talk about the new Command & Conquer being a service, we’re really inviting the community to help drive the design process and the evolution of the game. Since our announcement, the number one thing fans have asked for is new story content, and we listened. We are excited to be delivering compelling, high quality Campaign Missions that will roll out to the service in 2014.

The closed beta is already up and running and you can sign up now at

Next, EA took some time to talk about the next highly-anticipated racing game, Need for Speed Rivals. Gamescom played host for the devs to unveil two new features to the game. First, the latest NFS title brings back true personalization to the game, and second, Need for Speed Rivals will have a new take on career progression, with all of this syncing with AllDrive. AllDrive, if you recall from E3, is the new synchronous world in which online, offline and co-op games all exist in one realm, and the game automatically connects you with your friend's racing world and scores.

Last but certainly not least, the crew from Respawn showed off some new gameplay video of Titanfall. The cinematic multiplayer gameplay clip was in a gameplay called Attrition Mode on a new map, Angel City.

Of course, words can't truly describe some of the great gameplay and trailers we are seeing from Gamescom, so hit the break and check out all four videos yourself!

All You Can Arcade is a Company That Brings You Back in Time with Retro Arcade Games

posted Sunday Aug 18, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

All You Can Arcade is a Company That Brings You Back in Time with Retro Arcade Games

Ever wanted to play a round of Pac Man on a real arcade cabinet and thought to yourself, "Man, if I had some sort of rental service that could deliver me a box to play it on, when I wanted to, I'd be all set!"? I know, I've thought this exact same thing at least once a month. Well, there's good news for every single one of us humans out there all thanks to Seth and Timothy Peterson.

The duo formed a company, All You Can Arcade, which is a video game rental service that brings you an arcade machine to your door, regardless of if that door is a home or an office, but it has to be a door in California. For $75 a month, this is the big boy's (nostalgic) edition of Gamefly, and comes with all the same features you'd want in an arcade game rental service.

  • Keep your games as long as you want or pick a different one each month.
  • No delivery or pick up fees
  • Unlimited gaming without breaking your piggy bank. All of our arcade games are set to free play.
  • No late fees or long term commitments, cancel your membership at any time.
  • Wide selection of adventure, racing, sports, shooters and RPG games to choose from.
The Petersons said that if all goes well, they will be looking to expand to the east coast later on this year. Seth Peterson said he's able to find new games for his company simply from browsing the web. The company pays anywhere from $150 to $250 for each unit and has become skilled in "getting them real quick, taking them home and then doing what (they) need to do to get them ready for (their) customers."

It's a lot of fun looking for the bargains, scoring them off Craigslist or eBay or through the Internet forums. Anywhere we can find them.

Currently, All You Can Arcade offers up Ms. Pac Man, Donkey Kong and Tron, to name a few of the hundreds of classics in stock. You can browse their website to see what games are available in your area as well. However, if you feel you own an arcade game that needs to be shared with the world, All You Can Arcade offers up a partner program that allows you to do just that, and you'll reap some benefits along the way, like 75 percent of all the revenue received, provided you do the leg work.

So whether you are a business who wants to bring back some old school feel to your office each month, or if you're simply a home owner that wants to show your kids "how it used to be," All You Can Arcade is a pretty cool service.

IT Researcher Discovers Huge Facebook Exploit, Gets Account Disabled for His Efforts

posted Sunday Aug 18, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

IT Researcher Discovers Huge Facebook Exploit, Gets Account Disabled for His Efforts

We've talked about vulnerabilities a lot in the past, to the point where we had to recap all of them. Even though we haven't gone into a lot of detail about Facebook's security issues, the social networking giant also has its faults, to the point where they will pay you to find bugs, but only if you report them correctly. This is what Palestinian IT researcher Khalil Shreateh discovered this week, when he identified a major flaw in Facebook's security.

Shreateh wrote to Facebook that there was an ability to post on someone's wall without being friends with them. He then wrote to Facebook, and when the company ignored him by saying "I am sorry this is not a bug," Khalil then took to Zuckerberg's wall to prove his exploit.

He posted a link to his findings, along with his story of what's transpired so far, and, within a handful a minutes, one of Facebook's lead security engineers responded to him, asking him for further information about his discovery. However, what came next is something that shocked some tech journalists, but was something I would not put past Facebook. Because Khalil took to the Zuck's page and posted the exploit there, after numerous email attempts, not only did Facebook temporarily disable his account, they also said they would not be paying him because of improper reporting methods. In an email to the researcher,

We are unfortunately not able to pay you for this vulnerability because your actions violated our Terms of Service. We do hope, however, that you continue to work with us to find vulnerabilities in the site.

While Mr. Shreateh might not have the best English and grammar, his blog post indicates the exact issue he discovered, along with, what he understood based on reading Facebook's procedures, his best attempts at reaching out to the company. It is clear though that he did not precisely outline his discovery in the first email, potentially causing this whole thing to snowball.

In this thread on HackerNews, a Facebook employee chose to provide a bit of clarity on the subject.

We get hundreds of reports every day. Many of our best reports come from people whose English isn't great - though this can be challenging, it's something we work with just fine and we have paid out over $1 million to hundreds of reporters. However, many of the reports we get are nonsense or misguided, and even those (if you enter a password then view-source, you can access the password! When you submit a password, it's sent in the clear over HTTPS!) provide some modicum of reproduction instructions. We should have pushed back asking for more details here.

I get that, but perhaps Facebook should shell out the money anyway, at the very least. I mean, he was bold enough to take the exploit right to the Facebook page of the head of the company. That's pretty brave. You can check out the video of the walkthrough of the exploit after the break.

22 People Injured in LG Promotional Event for New G2 in South Korea

posted Sunday Aug 18, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

22 People Injured in LG Promotional Event for New G2 in South Korea

Sometimes, the tech world has some mishaps and usually nobody gets hurt. Unfortunately, this is not one of those times. In Seoul, South Korea, LG was holding a promotional event this week for their newest smartphone, the LG G2. As part of the event, there was a contest of sorts where people had to race for balloons which contained a voucher for a free G2. During that contest, 22 people were injured in the sheer pandemonium that ensued.

The Korea Times is reporting that some of the people in attendance were carrying BB guns and even one woman brought a very large, sharp-ended staff with her. The armed ones were apparently trying to steal the coupons from those who decided to play fair. Because of the unfortunate injuries that took place, LG will be covering all of the medical and hospital expenses for the affected patrons.

LG has since cancelled future promotional events related to their ad campaign for the G2. From their statement after the incident,

We canceled events offering free G2 smartphones that had been scheduled in major cities nationwide, including Busan, due to safety concerns. We will provide (the injured) with proper medical treatment as we are responsible for the event

Bloggers at the event have reported that "only some 20 security guards" were on-hand working for LG and perhaps the company could have "placed more security personnel" at the event, which was promoted heavily through the various social networks and media sites.

You can hit the break to see a Korean news report showing the excitement and even some of the weapons.

Chrome Set to Replace Firefox as #2 Browser - Maybe

posted Saturday Aug 17, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Chrome Set to Replace Firefox as #2 Browser - Maybe

For the second time in 14 months, Google's Chrome browser is close to overtaking Mozilla's Firefox as the second most used desktop browser in the world. The last time, in July 2012, Chrome came within 0.1% of Firefox's marketshare, but was unable to keep its gains. In fact, Net Applications, the organization whose data is most used for these stats, erroneously called Chrome winner Al Gore-style.

This time around, however, it is a battle over which browser is losing less market and not about who is gaining more. In July, Firefox lost a whopping 11% of its market and Chrome had a minor gain to 17.8%, up 2 points, which is its highest rank since October. Between October and July, Chrome had seen a rollercoaster of ups and downs, never staying as steady as Firefox.

Almost all of Chrome and Firefox's losses have been in favor of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, whose versions 9 and 10, both available on Windows 7, have seen a resurgence of sorts. IE has taken an almost 3 point climb, landing at 56.6 percent of all desktop browsing. This growth has been a fairly consistent growth since its low at the end of 2011, bottoming out at 51.9.

If the recent trends were to continue, Chrome would overtake Firefox this month for the second spot. If you look at the past 12 months, however, the handoff will have to wait until April 2014.

It is important to note how these stats are calculated. Net Applications calculates their usage based on unique visitors on standard desktop computers. This means Windows, MacOS and standard builds of Linux are counted; Windows Phone, iOS and custom Linux builds, such as Android, webOS and Firefox OS are not counted. In combining mobile browsing into the mix, Google takes a 2 point lead on Firefox.

StatCounter, however, calculates based on page views and, based on that information, Chrome is the top browser, even ahead of Internet Explorer. This indicates that the majority of users spend significantly less time on the web than those who use Chrome browsers on any platform. It is important to know, as targeting software to a browser requires a focus on who your userbase is.

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