Blog Archives

Microsoft gives up on the Xbox One DRM and used-game restrictions

Xbox One

It appears that Microsoft have been listened to the almost unanimous complaints aimed at their restrictive digital rights management (DRM) they had announced for the Xbox One.

To be honest they had to reverse their decision or take a huge hit in sales.

Their new stance is as follows:

  • An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.
  • Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.

Don Mattrick, Head of Xbox, had this to say: Read the rest of this entry

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Google Loon – Balloons could bring the Internet to everyone

Google Project Loon balloon on display at Airforce Museum in Christchurch

Google have recently been testing balloons in the hope of building a global network enabling internet access and mobile signals around the world.

Called Project Loon, Google launched 30 test balloons in New Zealand with 50 testers trying to connect to our balloons.

Head of the project, Mike Cassidy, had this to say about it.

We believe that it might actually be possible to build a ring of balloons, flying around the globe on the stratospheric winds, that provides Internet access to the earth below. It’s very early days, but we’ve built a system that uses balloons, carried by the wind at altitudes twice as high as commercial planes, to beam Internet access to the ground at speeds similar to today’s 3G networks or faster. As a result, we hope balloons could become an option for connecting rural, remote, and underserved areas, and for helping with communications after natural disasters. The idea may sound a bit crazy—and that’s part of the reason we’re calling it Project Loon—but there’s solid science behind it.

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Using WiFi as a motion sensor interface

WiSee is a novel interaction interface that leverages ongoing wireless transmissions in the environment (e.g., WiFi) to enable whole-home sensing and recognition of human gestures. Since wireless signals do not require line-of-sight and can traverse through walls, WiSee can enable whole-home gesture recognition using few wireless sources (e.g., a Wi-Fi router and a few mobile devices in the living room).

WiSee is the first wireless system that can identify gestures in line-of-sight, non-line-of-sight, and through-the-wall scenarios. Unlike other gesture recognition systems like Kinect, Leap Motion or MYO, WiSee requires neither an infrastructure of cameras nor user instrumentation of devices. We implement a proof-of-concept prototype of WiSee and evaluate it in both an office environment and a two-bedroom apartment. Our results show that WiSee can identify and classify a set of nine gestures with an average accuracy of 94%…

WiSee takes advantage of the technology trend of MIMO, the fact that wireless devices today carry multiple antennas (which are primarily used to improve capacity). A WiSee/WiSee-enabled receiver would use these multiple antennas in a different way to focus only on the user in control, thus eliminating interference from other people.

Source: WiSee

Check out the NASA Ion Engine

Ion Engine

This image shows a cutting-edge solar-electric propulsion thruster in development at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., that uses xenon ions for propulsion. An earlier version of this solar-electric propulsion engine has been flying on NASA’s Dawn mission to the asteroid belt.

This engine is being considered as part of the Asteroid Initiative, a proposal to robotically capture a small near-Earth asteroid and redirect it safely to a stable orbit in the Earth-moon system where astronauts can visit and explore it. This image was taken through a porthole in a vacuum chamber at JPL where the ion engine is being tested.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Source: NASA

The New Generation Kinect for Windows

kinect

Microsoft will also deliver a new generation Kinect for Windows sensor next year. We’re continuing our commitment to equipping businesses and organizations with the latest natural technology from Microsoft so that they, in turn, can develop and deploy innovative touch-free applications for their businesses and customers. A new Kinect for Windows sensor and software development kit (SDK) are core to that commitment.

Both the new Kinect sensor and the new Kinect for Windows sensor are being built on a shared set of technologies. Just as the new Kinect sensor will bring opportunities for revolutionizing gaming and entertainment, the new Kinect for Windows sensor will revolutionize computing experiences. The precision and intuitive responsiveness that the new platform provides will accelerate the development of voice and gesture experiences on computers.

Some of the key capabilities of the new Kinect sensor include:
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Xbox One Launch Trailers for Call of Duty: Ghosts, Anthem, Quantum Break and more

Call of Duty Ghosts

Yesterday saw lots of news about Microsoft’s Xbox One. Now here are lots of trailers for the different games heading our way.

Call of Duty: Ghosts takes the critically-acclaimed franchise into the next generation. New world. New story. New, next-gen engine. 

Infinity Ward Executive Producer Mark Rubin and the Call of Duty: Ghosts development team discuss the all-new world, story and characters, and take you inside the new, next-gen engine.

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Here is the new Xbox One

Xbox One

Microsoft has unveiled the Xbox One which will go on sale later this year. There is also a new Kinect and controller.

So what is new about the Xbox One?

It has 8 gigs of RAM, USB 3.0, Wi-Fi Direct, a Blu-Ray disc drive, 64-bit architecture and “practically silent operation.” The Kinect camera sensor is now 1080p and “when you’re exercising, it can read your heartbeat,” according to Microsoft.

You’ll be able to use gestures and voice control to interact with the new system. “Xbox, on” starts up the machine. “Xbox, watch TV” will open up your television.

The new console can carry out four times as many calculations a second as the Xbox 360 and 10 times more “animation depth and detail”.

Microsoft also introduced a feature called Snap Mode, for multitasking while watching television. You can use Skype, for example, to chat with friends while viewing something.

There’s a feature called “Xbox Trending” that shows what shows are popular. “This is the beginning of truly intelligent TV.”
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Yahoo buy Tumblr for $1 Billion. They promise not to screw it up

YahooTumblrMarissa Meyer, CEO of Yahoo, spoke about their acquisition of Tumblr for $1 Billion.

I’m delighted to announce that we’ve reached an agreement to acquire Tumblr!

We promise not to screw it up. Tumblr is incredibly special and has a great thing going. We will operate Tumblr independently. David Karp will remain CEO. The product roadmap, their team, their wit and irreverence will all remain the same as will their mission to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve. Yahoo! will help Tumblr get even better, faster.

Tumblr has built an amazing place to follow the world’s creators. From art to architecture, fashion to food, Tumblr hosts 105 million different blogs. With more than 300 million monthly unique visitors and 120,000 signups every day, Tumblr is one of thefastest-growing media networks in the world. Tumblr sees 900 posts per second (!) and 24 billion minutes spent onsite each month. On mobile, more than half of Tumblr’s users are using the mobile app, and those users do an average of 7 sessions per day. Tumblr’s tremendous popularity and engagement among creators, curators and audiences of all ages brings a significant new community of users to the Yahoo! network. The combination of Tumblr+Yahoo! could grow Yahoo!’s audience by 50% to more than a billion monthly visitors, and could grow traffic by approximately 20%.

In terms of working together, Tumblr can deploy Yahoo!’s personalization technology and search infrastructure to help its users discover creators, bloggers, and content they’ll love. In turn, Tumblr brings 50 billion blog posts (and 75 million more arriving each day) to Yahoo!’s media network and search experiences. The two companies will also work together to create advertising opportunities that are seamless and enhance user experience.

As I’ve said before, companies are all about people. Getting to know the Tumblr team has been really amazing. I’ve long held the view that in all things art and design, you can feel the spirit and demeanor of those who create them. That’s why it was no surprise to me that David Karp is one of the nicest, most empathetic people I’ve ever met. He’s also one of the most perceptive, capable entrepreneurs I’ve worked with. His respect for Tumblr’s community of creators is awesome, and I’m absolutely delighted to have him and his entire team join Yahoo!.

Both Tumblr and Yahoo! share a vision to make the Internet the ultimate creative canvas by focusing on users, design — and building experiences that delight and inspire the world every day.

Source: Yahoo

Gran Turismo 6 – News and launch trailer

GT 6GT6 for PlayStation 3 will bring new levels of authenticity to ‘the Real Driving Simulator’ as well as introducing stunning new tracks and cars and a revised user interface. A new compact game engine will improve operation and increase the flexibility to expand it with downloadable content. Meanwhile, the game is also set for expanded connectivity with other devices such as smart phones and tablets and increased social and community functions.

All of the cars and tracks from Gran Turismo 5, which has sold over 10 million copies since launching in 2010, will be retained in GT6. But notable new additions to the already impressive line-up of historic cars, road cars and the latest race cars, brings the total car list to 1,200 at launch, with new cars set to be continually added online. Several thousand aerodynamic parts and custom wheels will be available for almost all cars, and players can personalize their own custom cars in game to the greatest ever level possible.
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International Space Station switches from Windows to Linux

International_Space_StationThe United Space Alliance, which manages the computers aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in association with NASA, has announced that the Windows XP computers aboard the ISS have been switched to Linux. “We migrated key functions from Windows to Linux because we needed an operating system that was stable and reliable.”

This means that “dozens of laptops” will change from running Windows XP to Debian 6. There are already Linux systems aboard the ISS and once the move is completed there will be no more Windows. Keith Chuvala of the United Space Alliance has explained that the move to Linux will provide ”in-house control. So if we needed to patch, adjust or adapt, we could.”

Back in 2008, a Russian cosmonaut brought a laptop aboard with the W32.Gammima.AG worm, which quickly spread to the other laptops on board. Switching to Linux should mean that this could never happen again.

Linux is the scientific community’s operating system of choice according to ExtremeTech. CERN’s Large Hadron Collider is controlled by Linux. NASA and SpaceX ground stations use Linux. DNA-sequencing lab technicians use Linux. Really, for applications that require absolute stability, which most scientific experiments are, Linux is the obvious choice.

Now here is Commander Chris Hadfield, who will be returning to Earth soon, performing David Bowie’s Space Oddity while on the ISS.
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