Why Blockchain Technology is Causing an Industry Revolution​

If you listen to the tech experts, then we’re in the middle of a blockchain revolution. The technology behind the often misunderstood currency, Bitcoin, blockchain is currently being adopted by a variety of industries.

Without delving too deep into its specifics, blockchain is basically a way of validating transactions without the need for human authorisation. Each time a Bitcoin payment is sent a specific address, it needs to be verified by a network of computers. Once the payment is verified, its details are stored in a block of valid transactions and this block is then uploaded to the network of the computer holding the blockchain.

Breaking Down the Blockchain

Essentially, a blockchain is a record of every Bitcoin transaction, in much the same way a bank uses a ledger to track payments across accounts. However, because this system is updated every 10 minutes and stored on network of computers, it means that each transaction is highly secure.

Although somewhat complex for the general public to really appreciate, the tech experts in the banking world, healthcare profession and security industry are all starting to use this technology to enhance their services. Indeed, according to a recent report by the Financial Times, blockchain looks set to “disrupt” the way the fund industry currently operates.

With blockchain gaining in popularity, many experts, including the Digital Current Group’s Barry Silbert, have suggested that this revolution could help to make Bitcoin a mainstream product. Back when the cryptocurrency first went live in 2009, many insiders believed it would become the currency of choice for the masses within a few years.

Unfortunately, those predictions were a tad optimistic as Bitcoin is still seen as an “alternative” option rather than “the” option for those spending money online. However, that’s not to say you can’t do some “mainstream” things with Bitcoin. Indeed, when you consider that British Airways, a company that made $1.2 billion (£850 million) in profit in 2015, now accepts Bitcoin payments, it’s clear the currency is gaining credibility.

Bitcoin Already Has Base Online

In fact, it’s not only the aviation industry that’s starting to realise the value of Bitcoin payments. iGaming, otherwise known as online gambling, is a $41 billion (£28 billion) industry that’s starting to see more Bitcoin-based sites spring up. VegasCasino, a Vegas Royal S.A., platform now offers an array of Bitcoin only betting options.

Inside the VegasCasino sportsbook, customers can place bets from as little as 0.10 mBTC on everything from football and Euro 2016, to the NBA playoffs and the Olympics. Similarly, the site also offers slots, table games and ever virtual lotteries; all of which are powered by Bitcoin alone.

Beyond the iGaming industry, Dell, the computer manufacturer, brokered a deal with Bitcoin walled Coinbase in 2015 which allowed cryptocurrency customers to get a discount on Alienware PCs. Similarly, Overstock.com began offering discounted prices on everything from watches to bed linen after it started accepting Bitcoin payments in 2014.

Are We on the Cusp of Technological Shift?

In a nutshell, what we’re currently seeing is a shift in the way transactions of all shapes and sizes are processed online. As we can see, Bitcoin is already thriving in a variety of industries and it’s this popularity that has helped blockchain technology move into the mainstream.

Whether or not this will in turn bring people’s attention back around to Bitcoin remains to be seen, but what is clear is that people are willing to accept new forms of technology and that should mean we’ll be seeing a myriad of innovations in the coming months and years.

Kill Devil Hill’s Mark Zavon talks about new album “Revolution Rise”

Mark Zavon is the guitarist for the hard rock group Kill Devil Hill. The group, which also features former Pantera bassist Rex Brown, Heaven and Hell drummer Vinnie Appice and vocalist Dewey Bragg, has just released their second album titled “Revolution Rise” via Century Media Records. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with mark recently about the creation of the new record and what the band has planned for the coming year.

Adam Lawton: What can you tell us about the new Kill Devil Hill album “Revolution Rise”?
Mark Zavon: The new album is just killer! Jeff Pilson co-produced the album with us. That guy was a huge positive influence on the whole process. He is a great songwriter and had a lot of good input. The album turned out great and we are super proud of it.

AL: What do you feel were the biggest changes made on the record compared to the bands previous release?
MZ: We had a lot more time to spend on this new record. The first record we had to do in about a month. Along with the limited time frame we also had a limited budget so we had to try and get things done as quick as we could. Things are both good and bad that way. This time around we had the time to spend getting things together. We also had a couple breaks in there as well as Rex had his book come out and Jeff plays with Foreigner. Getting everybody’s schedules to line up at times was a little difficult. Even though that part of things was a little bit difficult it gave me time to work more on the songs. We were able to put a little more energy into the writing/recording process this time around. I think it turned out a lot better than the first album.

AL: What type of approach do you guys take when it comes time to start working on a new record being that you all don’t live in the same area?
MZ: Every song is different. Sometimes we work together sometimes we work separate and send ideas back and forth to one another. Some of the songs on this new record were written originally for the first album however we had too many tracks so we held on to them. There was definitely a more collaborative approach to writing on this record as everyone was involved and contributed ideas. It was nice having everyone involved this time around as with the first record a bunch of that stuff was written before Rex even joined the band. There was a lot more of a combined effort this time around and we all demoed stuff in different places and then put it all together. We literally came from every angle when putting this album together.

AL: Prior to the albums released you signed to Century Media. What has that partnership been like thus far?
MZ: The thing that we were really missing on the first record was the promotional aspect of things. We were working with a label from Germany who had no real presence here in the States. That was tough as they didn’t really get behind the release all that much. With Century Media things have been much different. We actually started out by going down to their offices and playing a small acoustic set for everyone there. They are located right in Los Angeles, which is local for me. They came to one of our shows at the Roxy and they have been like family. Century Media is the type of label that likes to get behind their artists and promote them. Combining that with the whole family vibe has been a step in the right direction for us. Something like this is what we have all wanted for a long time.

AL: A lyric video for the song “Why” was released recently, Are there any plans to shoot a full production video for any of the songs of this album?
MZ: I think there will be some more lyric videos to come out for the other songs but we also just shot a video for the song “Leave It All Behind”. That should be coming out soon and is going to be really cool. We shot the video at an old missile silo site north of the San Fernando Valley. It was cool and we all had a good time. We actually worked with the director before on our last video and I think it turned out great.

AL: What other plans does the band have in place for the rest of this year leading into 2014?
MZ: We have plans to take the holiday season off and then start back up towards the end of January. There are some plans in the works for the upcoming NAMM show to do some things with our sponsors. From there the plan is to hit it hard and promote this record through out the coming year. The more we play the happier I am.

3D Blu-ray Review “Step Up Revolution”

Starring: Adam G. Sevani, Kathryn McCormick, Ryan Guzman
Director: Scott Speer
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Release Date: November 27, 2012
Run Time: 99 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When it comes to the “Step Up” franchise, this series has really developed into more than just a movie.  The series all have decent plots and acting but really shine in the music and the dancing.  That is what these movies are all about and they really succeed in doing so.  “Step Up 3: The Streets” was the first to enter the third dimension, which may have seen like a way to get more money but the film really benefited from it.  “Revolution” takes the 3D effects on step further or if I can say a step up (sorry).  I was blown away by the dancing and the use of the 3D in this film.  I was wondering how they would out due themselves this time around but they definitely delivered. If you are a fan of great dancing, fantastic choreography and looking for an overall good time…be sure to join the revolution (sorry again!).  Bring on “Step Up 5”!

Kathryn Renée McCormick and Ryan Guzman take the lead in this new installment. Kathryn is known best for appearing on various seasons of the dance competition show “So You Think You Can Dance”. Even though this fourth film in the series features two new leads, it saw a flood of returning characters from the previous films. Alyson Stoner returned playing Camille Gage from the first and third films. While
Adam G. Sevani (“Moose”), Mari Koda (Jenny Kido), Harry Shum, Jr. (Cable) and Stephen “Twitch” Boss (Jason) have been with this series since “Step Up 2: The Streets”. I liked they there is that continuity and these characters return each film.

Official Premise: Emily (McCormick) arrives in Miami with aspirations of becoming a professional dancer and soon falls in love with Sean (Guzman), a young man who leads a dance crew in elaborate, cutting-edge flash mobs, called “The Mob.” When a wealthy businessman threatens to develop The Mob’s historic neighborhood and displace thousands of people, Emily must band together with Sean and The Mob to turn their performance art into protest art, and risk losing their dreams to fight for a greater cause.

Since “Step Up” franchise relies heavily on music, it is always an important aspect for me. This Blu-ray comes with a very impressive DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track, which sounds amazing…but actually gets a little showed up. I was really shocked to see that this release includes the brand new 11.1 DTS Neo:X Surround Sound track (compatible with Any DTS Neo:X-Enabled AV Receiver). That’s right kiddies, this track allows you to watch and experience this film in a room-shaking 11.1 surround sound. “The Expendables 2” was the first Blu-ray to utilize this features and Lionsgate is doing it again with “Step Up Revolution”. This is a high intensity audio experience which truly elevates the 3D home theater entertainment to a new level. DTS Neo:X is presenting the film the way it was meant to be heard. I would expect to see this quite a bit in the future.

“Step Up Revolution” comes in a combo pack with a 3D Blu-ray, which has the film also in 2D.  There is also digital copy included, as well as an Ultraviolet digital streaming copy. The box presentation is also very unique.  If you look at the cover, the people on it are imprinted onto a plastic cover that goes over the typical Blu-ray case.  When you remove it, it is just a sunny reflection of Miami  behind it. Pretty neat and clever and a nice extra touch. The film itself really looks sharp on Blu-ray.  Like I said earlier, the 3D really pops well on this 1080p transfer.  The colors are very vibrant and alive as well!

The special features are very impressive for this release.  There is an audio commentary track with director Scott Speer, choreographer Jamal Sims and cast members Kathryn McCormick and Ryan Guzman.  This is a really a must listen for all fans of the film, don’t miss it.  There are four solid featurettes focusing on all aspects of the production in “Becoming A Star”, “Choreography” (my favorite), “Dancing On Their Own” and “Making The Mob” (pretty amazing). Adding to the mob featurette is also “Flash Mob Index”, which gives you a 1-click stop for all their dance sequences. There are two music video including “Goin’ In” – J Lo featuring Flo Rida & Lil Jon and “Hands In The Air” – Timbaland featuring Ne-Yo.  Lastly there are a few deleted scenes, rounding out this very impressive release.

Michael Roark talks about working on “Magic Mike” and NBC’s “Revolution”

CREDIT: Marc Cartwright

Michael Roark’s latest film “Magic Mike” was recently released on Blu-ray/DVD. Michael also has guest starring appearing on NBC’s new show “Reovolution. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with him about his role in the film as well as some of his other upcoming projects.

Adam Lawton: How did you become attached to the role of Ryan in “Magic Mike”?
Michael Roark: At the time I was living between Florida and Los Angeles. The film was shot in Florida and my South Beach reps. were able to get me a few reads with the casting people. We kind of went back and forth because I don’t think I was really what they were looking for but, I ended up getting a call out of the blue offering me the part. It was great getting to work with such an amazing cast. It was a little surreal when I sat down and looked at who was working on the film.

AL: Did you have any reservations about the role knowing what the film was about?
MR: I had zero reservations about working on the film. My characters focus was more of a love interest than one of the dancers. Essentially this film is a comedy. There are some dramatic sequences in it and there were some things that I think Steven Soderbergh wanted to push but it’s not a very racy film. Some people may have been disappointed by that but I think it made for a more interesting flick.

AL: What was it like working with such a great cast?
MR: Channing Tatum is very natural and a generous guy. It is really clear why people love to work with him and why he works so much. Olivia Munn is hilarious! I had a great time working with her as she is just a riot. It was an all around great set. I wasn’t there as long as some of the others but the time I had there was fantastic.

AL: What can you tell us about working on the new series “Revolution”?
MR: My episode of “Revolution” aired on Oct. 29th. That show has really started to pick up steam and people are connecting with it. Steve Boyum directed this particular episode and as far as my character Sean goes he is a very edgy type of guy. He’s the type of guy that you don’t really know if he can be trusted or not. It was a fun role to play not only because it was well written but I had nice little fight scene.

AL: Is Sean a character we will be seeing more of in later episodes?
MR: I think the potential to see Sean down the line is definitely there. I am always the last one to know sowe will have to wait and see. The story line was left open so there is a good possibility he could return. I hope he does. Working on the show was really fun.

AL: Can you give us an update on the new Showtime series “Banshee”?
MR: “Banshee” is probably one of the coolest projects I have worked on to date. There are just no rules with what they are doing on that show. There have been some trailers released but they haven’t revealed too much just yet. I can tell you that the episode I am in was shot in a maximum security prison. The things that happen in this episode are very intense. I can picture this show being a hit as there are a lot of great people involved.

AL: Do you have any other projects coming out that you can tell us about?
MR: “Rizzoli and Isles” is returning in late October and I will be guest starting in the season 3 finale of that on TNT. “The Following” will be coming out soon which that show has Kevin Bacon in it so you can’t ask for much better than that. “L.A. Dirt” is a feature film I did which has some really great original music in it by Travis Tritt and Tracy Lawrence. This has been a great year and a lot of cool things have come my way.

Eric Kripke talks about creating new hit series NBC’s “Revolution”

Eric Kripke talks about creating new hit series NBC’s “Revolution”, which airs Mondays 10pm EST. Kripke also created and executive produced “Supernatural,” now in its eighth season. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Eric about the show and what we can expect from the first season.

Mike Smith: Can you talk just a bit about how you came up with the whole concept for the show?
Eric Kripke: Yeah, sure. Really for me it was about, I’m a huge fan of Star Wars, I’m a huge fan of Lord of the Rings, I’m a huge fan of really that kind of Joseph Campbell classic, mythic, heroes journey storytelling, you know those big grand adventures. And those are the kind of stories that are more often serviced in movies than they are on television. But, I think TV is actually a perfect format for that kind of storytelling because if so many – you know those are such big sprawling stories and you have so many more hours in TV to really explore all the different facets of a world and the characters that live in that world. And that you could give it, you know really epic scope, but very intimate character focus. So for me, it was always – I was always really interested in kind of taking that sort of big sprawling adventure format, that big quest format and putting it in television when you can really explore it episodically, and so that’s really kind of where the idea started. And, you know I’m a huge fan of Star Wars. I’m also a huge fan of Stephen King’s The Stand, and I really like the idea of rather than setting it in some fantasy kingdom to set the story line in some kind of transformed America, which is very – you know in a very strange way relatable and familiar to your audience, because it’s things that they’ve seen before, but just transformed overgrown with vines and all that. It kind of started from the idea of just where can we create this mythic quest, and then from there it was working, you know J.J. and his whole team at Bad Robot and we were sort of talking about like, “Okay, what would transform America, and would it be nuclear war, would it be disease?” We all sort of felt like we’ve seen that a million times before. And they had been kicking around an idea of, “Like what would happen if there was a global blackout?” I jumped right on that idea. I’m like, “That’s perfect. That’s the way to kickoff the show.” That’s really interesting and provocative and I think a really relatable concept, because I think everybody feels how over-reliant we are on technology, and so it becomes sort of interesting commentary to explore what would happen if we removed all technology overnight.

MS: Just going back to the pilot when the blackout happened, it looks like it was very gradual over the whole Earth, should we be reading into that, looking for clues as to the origin of the blackout, or did that just look cool to have that sweep of darkness over the Earth?
EK: You should look for clues everywhere…is the short answer. The longer answer is, you know there was a phenomenon that, you know we have up our sleeve as to what caused the blackout, and that that it – what you saw in that globe shot is an accurate representation of what we are working on. And – but, you know right now we’re currently in the writers room. We’re talking dangerously about revealing that secret before the end of the first season. So again, it’s sort of my philosophy of not being too precious with anything. So, we may reveal the secret sooner than later.

MS: Can you talk a little bit about the decision to downgrade Maggie from series regular, and then eventually write her out.
EK: Yeah, sure. You know what it really came down to more than any other decision, Anna Lise is a wonderful actress and I love that character. I’m sort of have a bad habit in the shows that I run of killing off the people that I love, and I think Maggie was one of those. I think we decided internally that very early on that it was really important to show that this world had very real stakes, and that it was truly dangerous. And because, you know you’re not close to hospitals, you’re not close to paramedics, you’re not close to help, and we very quickly realized that the scariest thing we could do was to kill the doctor among them. So it was purely a creative decision about really putting a sharp – giving the world the real charge of danger, so that as we move forward in the series we want the audience to really understand that nobody is safe, including the main characters, and just bring that suspense as the series continues because we think that’s honest to the world we’re trying to create here.

MS: Can you talk a little bit about what we’re going to see, in terms of Neville’s backstory and who he was?
EK: Yeah. You know, Neville – what’s interesting about the blackout in the show and – which – you know where we like to explore and we want to explore more and more as the show goes on is what a transformative experience it was for so many people. And who they were in the old world has nothing to do with who they are now. And – I mean, there’s like a bit of that in the pilot, which you know we were always amused by the idea that he’s this kind of violent strong man post-blackout, but pre-blackout he was an insurance adjuster. So we were really interested in exploring that backstory more and seeing how his character, who before the blackout was pretty mild mannered and maybe a little submissive, and how did he transform into the violent psychopath that he is today? And then – you know, and then meeting his wife. And right now, basically, we’re planting Kim now, and then, you know we’re going to meet here in the present day and really explore her character a couple episodes down the line. And we’re going to see how, you know a very normal suburban wife before the blackout, post-blackout, transformed into a Lady Macbeth.

MS: Tell us about how you chose Giancarlo Esposito for the role of Captain Tom Neville?
EK: Giancarlo is just a world-class actor, and frankly we were shocked that he was willing to partner up with us because, you know we were sort of like – we felt like we were like kind of, “Like, why is such a classy actor want to hang out with such shady people?” And – but, you know obviously I was a – I’m a – I was a huge fan of his performance in Breaking Bad, but I’ve been a fan of his from long before that, and we’re just honored to have him be a part of the show. He brings so much heft and depth and emotion and – to Neville, who is not obviously the same character as that character, because you know Neville’s got, you know moments of vulnerability and moments of humanity. And he’s just a really interesting complicated character that Giancarlo makes so much better than what is on the page. But yeah, and it’s true because I mean he’s the – he’s exactly the type of actor you want to work with because you can write any dialogue and he makes it about five times better than it actually is. And I’m just – like I said, I’m just honored to be working with him. And then on top of that, he’s like the nice – it’s like the government actually has designated him the nicest man in America. He couldn’t be a sweeter, more gracious, more open-hearted collaborative guy, and someone who is that talented and that kind-hearted is just is really one in a million, and I just love working with him.

MS: Could talk a little about Rachel’s motivations and the direction her character’s going in?
EK: Yeah, sure. I mean, certain ones are a little mysterious, so I have to be a little cagey, because we reveal some things. But basically, what – you know Rachel is – you know she has – she’s obviously holding on to certain secrets about why the power went out, and we’ll reveal in the next episode on Monday exactly – we’ll reveal a little more about what she in fact knows about the blackout. Monroe’s been keeping her, in a gilded cage, kind of prisoner; although, with occasional torture, so it’s not so fun. But she’s strong and, we’re so smitten with what Elizabeth is doing with the character that we’re just writing more and more and more for her, because she’s just – she’s so good. And so, she’s a very strong character, but everything changes when Danny finally arrives in Philadelphia. So, now General Monroe has Rachel where he wants her, because she doesn’t really care about he own well-being, but of course she cares about the well-being of her son. And so, he’s really able to twist her arm and forced her to reveal things that she hasn’t revealed to him yet. But she, of course, is you know smart and heroic and is, you know desperately searching for a way out of the predicament that she’s in.

MS: Are we going to see Nate and Charlie’s relationship develop more?
EK: The short answer, yes, but over the sweep of the season. He’s going to be spending some time in Philadelphia, we’re going to start to understand what his world is like within the world of the militia, but he’s certainly going to interact with Charlie again and he has a bumpy road ahead for him.

MS: Since the full season pickup mean that you were able to go ahead with some story ideas and arcs that you’d maybe put on the backburner in case NBC did cut the series short?
EK: Well, you know television showrunners are a foolishly optimistic bunch. I think we were designing our story lines in the hopes that there would be a full season pickup. And then, in my back – it was more that. It was more like I was, you know designing the story line for 22, and then in my back pocket I had a – I had like a nuclear failsafe that it really looked everything was going off the cliff I had an emergency contingency plan to wrap everything up very quickly. But obviously, I’m very thankful to the network that they gave us the opportunity to, you know be able to tell the story.

MS: You are also the creator of “Supernatural”. How much time are you being able to spend at that since “Revolution” is now also in production?
EK: Yeah, I don’t spend as much time over there as I would like, but – because this one’s got my hands full at the moment. But, I will say that, Bog Singer and Jeremy Carver, who are running that show are doing an absolutely incredible job and it’s like watching Supernatural go is like – is sort of like watching my child go off to college. I don’t necessarily have control over it, but I’m so proud of what they’re doing.

New Trailer for “Step Up: Revolution”

“STEP UP: REVOLUTION” is the next installment in the worldwide smash “STEP UP” franchise, which sets the dancing against the vibrant backdrop of Miami. EMILY (Kathryn McCormick) arrives in Miami with aspirations of becoming a professional dancer and soon falls in love with SEAN (Ryan Guzman), a young man who leads a dance crew in elaborate, cutting-edge flash mobs, called “The Mob.” When a wealthy business man threatens to develop The Mob’s historic neighborhood and displace thousands of people, Emily must band together with Sean and The Mob to turn their performance art into protest art, and risk losing their dreams to fight for a greater cause.

Starring RYAN GUZMAN, KATHRYN MCCORMICK, MISHA GABRIEL and PETER GALLAGHER. In theaters July 27, 2012.