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Work & Play for Less

Microsoft is really starting to get the idea that in order to compete in the world of software and services, you can't charge a fortune when there are so many other decent options. They've bundled their "Work & Play" bundle for a while now at $199 and now the price has slipped to a mere $149. For that price you get Office 365 Home, Skype Unlimited, Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Music. If you grabbed these separately, that would set you back over $400 - now yours for $149. Nicely done.

Prior to this offer, the Work & Play Bundle was available for $199 but Microsoft has slashed the price further today; consumers can head to the closest Microsoft Store to grab the bundle. The offer which started on 11th November is valid up to the 4th of January 2015 or while supplies last; each customer can purchase a maximum of three bundles.

Source: Neowin

Grumpy Cat Has More Money Than You

In order to make $100,000,000 you need to either win big in the lottery, have a great idea for a product or service and a team of professionals that can make it happen, or have a cat with feline dwarfism that looks like it's pissed off at the world. Grumpy Cat is more than a meme, it's a movie, a franchise and a pop sensation that will not last as long as the owner likes. That being said, with $100 Million in the bank, Grumpy Cat really shouldn't be.

The Internet-famous cat, known for her perpetually unamused, angry expression, has raked in $100 million over the past two years, Express reported Sunday — though the cat’s owner, Tabatha Bundesen of Morristown, Ariz. has since refuted that figure. Still, Bundesen said she is astounded by the commercial success of her cat — actually named Tardar Sauce — who has been featured in books, media appearances and a movie ever since she shot to fame in 2012 via Reddit and YouTube.

Source: Time

Seagate 8TB Drives Now Affordable

Just when you thought that your 4TB drive was decent and were debating the 6TB upgrade, Seagate has to go and mess up your plans with their new 8TB drive that they claim is now "affordable". Be aware that this drive is geared toward archive storage and probably shouldn't be used in a 8-Bay NAS that is constantly being accessed. If you want more details, make sure you check out the link below.

Industry’s first high-capacity hard drive designed for cost-effectively storing active archive data and cloud content.
  • High-density 8TB hard drives for petabytes of affordable and accessible long-term online storage
  • Enables significant system-level TCO savings with best cost-per-TB
  • Maximum storage efficiency with lowest watts-per-TB
  • Reliable, low-power data retrieval based on Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) technology
  • RV-balanced for high density environments

Source: Seagate

Windows 10 Cortana in Action - Sort of...

One of the features Microsoft is bringing to the table in Windows 10 is the integration of Cortana. While WinBeta has a video showcasing the service running on their version of Windows 10, you can see that it isn't ready for prime-time just yet and it isn't hooked up to the Windows Live service. Still, it's interesting to see that they are incorporating this into the desktop OS. Although if this is one of the features that Microsoft plans to charge extra for, I think I'll pass.

Source: WinBeta

The SSD Experiment Surpasses 2 Petabytes

While mechanical drives tend to last only a few years these days, SSDs have the potential to last a lot longer. While cells degrade, proper software wear leveling will work well to mark these defective and allow the drive to continue to function normally - albeit with less space. One of our affiliates has been pushing a bunch of drives to see how much transfer is possible before the drive dies. They've shown some pretty interesting results and there are two drives still running at well over 2 Petabytes. Amazing.

The last victim fell at 1.2PB, which is barely a speck in the rear-view mirror for our remaining subjects. The 840 Pro and a second HyperX 3K have now reached two freaking petabytes of writes. To put that figure into perspective, the SSDs in my main desktop have logged less than two terabytes of writes over the past couple years. At this rate, it'll take me a thousand years to reach that total.

Source: TechReport

Windows 10 is Not Actually Free

After rumors that Windows 10 will be completely free, Microsoft has made know that this new OS will not be a loss-leader for the company. They plan to monetize this OS a bit differently from others in the past though, so while you may get basic Windows 10 for free, you'll have to pay extra for services. We'll still not sure how this will affect Windows 8 users as they may fall into the "free-upgrade" area still. Time will tell and as this OS looks to ship in the summer of next year, there is a lot of time to work out these details.

“We haven’t announced the Windows 10 pricing framework yet. But the one thing I can tell you that we’ve not had any conversations on is Windows 10 being a loss leader for us,” he said at the Credit Suisse technology conference. The way Microsoft makes money from PCs is changing. Windows hasn’t been the biggest earner for Microsoft for some time: Turner said it was in third place behind the Office and enterprise businesses.

Source: PCWorld

IBM Watson Analytics Enters Public Beta

You may remember Watson, the IBM computer that plays Jeopary and has some pretty impressive features. For a time, IBM farmed out this "brain" to companies for analytics, human-computer interactions and more. Now, Big Blue is offering this machine up for general use to beta users and they'll be able to harness the power of this machine, the database and the logic- for free.

Users of Watson Analytics feed in their own raw data, say, in the form of a spreadsheet, which the service then crunches with its own statistical analysis to highlight associations between different variables. It saves execs from needing to know how to write their own scripts or understand statistics in order to derive meaning from their data.

Source: ZDNet

Windows vs. Chromebooks - The $200 Battle

Over the past couple years Chromebooks have been selling like hotcakes in the ~$200 notebook market, Microsoft is trying to change that with the emergence of ~$200 Windows notebooks that pack a whole bunch of extras into an already affordable package.

One of the newest Windows offerings is the HP Stream 11 that comes with Windows 8.1 and costs $200. Included with the HP Stream 11 you get a free year of Office 365 and 1TB of Microsoft OneDrive storage. In addition to all of that you'll even get another $25 bucks to spend at the Microsoft store which pretty much gives you $100 bucks of extras on a $200 laptop. 

Head on over to the WSJ to see what they thought about the HP Stream 11 and how it compares to other Chromebook offerings.

It really does sound like one of those too-good-to-be-true, shopping-network deals, minus, of course, the “four easy installments” plan and “Call right now!” instructions. But this isn’t even a holiday special or a clearance deal. It’s Microsoft’s new strategy to try to destroy Google ’s low-cost, cloud-based Chromebooks.

In fact, recouping some of the low-end laptop market is so important to Microsoft, the company worked with H-P to price the Stream to undercut the most popular Chromebooks, which are typically $250 to $350.

Rovio makes cuts

Rovio (makers of Angry Birds) has had some pretty good times in the past couple years but yesterday's announcement that they will be laying of 110 people (14% of their workforce) is probably a sign that the Angry Birds fad has died down. Angry Birds was released in 2009 and has remained very popular for quite some time. Wired has the story.

Rovio has confirmed that 110 people will lose their jobs as the Angry Birds maker also shuts down its game-development studio in Tampere. The layoffs, first announced in October, amount to about 14 percent of the company's workforce.

It had been expected that Rovio would make 130 people redundant but after a round of consultations this number has now been reduced. Rovio said that as a result of the redundancies "several positions" have been opened for internal applications. The actual number of employees out of work will depend on how many new internal positions are filled.

On a side note, remember when Zynga offered $2.25 Billion dollars in 2011 to buy Rovio? I'm pretty sure the guys at Rovio are working on a time machine to go back to 2011....

 

Google wants to kill CAPTCHA

Google has announced that they are working on a plan to introduce security measures that will allow websites to verify you are human (and not a computer) without the need for a CAPTCHA test. CAPTCHA is that annoying picture with a couple words jumbled together that you need to decipher and enter in the box below before you are allowed to pass. Most likely you've got stuck on one at some point as they've become more and more complex, yet haven't provided all that great security. Google's new plan is to use intuitive tests to prove you aren't a computer and let you pass without having to try 10 times to decipher a puzzle. Vox has the full story over here.

Lots of websites force you to decipher a weirdly stretched, nonsensical string of letters and numbers and type them into a box when logging in or making a purchase. This is called CAPTCHA, and it's an attempt to confirm that you're a human, not a computer program. Thankfully, it might soon be a thing of the past.

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