We have just posted up Episode #271 of Weekly Tech Update. In this episode we are discussing Microsoft pulls the pin on Windows 7, iPhone 6 gets jiggly with it and 13 of the weirdest computer mice you've ever not wanted to use.We have those stories and more and the links below!
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WTU Episode #271 - iPhone 6 Might Actually be Awesome
Microsoft Declares War on Chromebooks
Microsoft is taking the Chromebook threat pretty seriously. It's hard to pass up on a laptop that costs $200 - $249 and previously a Chromebook was the only way to save some money and have a computer on the go. Now Microsoft has cut the licensing fees on their OS's so that the manufacturers can pass the savings on to you. For instance, you can now get an Intel Dual-Core laptop for $249. That makes it pretty hard to choose Chrome for that kind of money.
Microsoft has been gradually cutting Windows license costs to allow PC makers to reduce their device prices, and it’s clear the software maker is taking the Chromebook threat even more seriously this year. While Microsoft has attempted to undermine Chromebooks previously, competitive pricing will likely have a bigger chance of stemming any threat from Google’s laptops.
Raspberry Pi B+ Now Available
Raspberry Pi was introduced a couple of years ago and this tiny little DIY board has gained a cult-like following. The reason why is that many programs can be written for this little system and it actually runs Linux pretty well. The original platform is a little dated, and in response to that the crew over at RaspberryPi just released a slightly updated version with more USB ports and a redesigned PCB. Take a look if you've got $35 and want to build a fun XBMC or emulator.
- More GPIO. The GPIO header has grown to 40 pins, while retaining the same pinout for the first 26 pins as the Model B.
- More USB. We now have 4 USB 2.0 ports, compared to 2 on the Model B, and better hotplug and overcurrent behaviour.
- Micro SD. The old friction-fit SD card socket has been replaced with a much nicer push-push micro SD version.
- Lower power consumption. By replacing linear regulators with switching ones we’ve reduced power consumption by between 0.5W and 1W.
- Better audio. The audio circuit incorporates a dedicated low-noise power supply.
- Neater form factor. We’ve aligned the USB connectors with the board edge, moved composite video onto the 3.5mm jack, and added four squarely-placed mounting holes.
More Windows Threshold Info
Windows Threshold (aka Windows 9) is coming early in January of next year we believe and with that in mind there is a lot of information starting to leak as the launch is about 6 months away. From everything I've seen, it looks like a service pack for Windows 8.1, but time will tell how much kernel has actually been changed this time around. On another note, it looks like Cortana will have a home in this OS - much like Google Voice Search exists now in Chrome.
First up, let's talk user interface. Threshold is getting a distinctive UI refresh; when you see it, there is no confusing it with Windows 7 or 8. The desktop on Windows 8, to the casual eye, looks nearly identical to that of Windows 7 but not so with Threshold. Our sources tell us that the UI looks much more modern and of course, a bit more flat too.
Beats Sues China
Apple reported recently that they bough up Beats Music - more for the streaming service than the hardware in my opinion, but hardware does play a big role still. In fact, Beats is taking the few weeks left until the takeover to sue Chinese couterfeiters for 'Billions'. Couterfeiters have been knocking off these for a long time, and Apple is not into that sort of thing at all. I find this more funny than a concern. If Apple and Beats actually priced their products fairly, people would be more happy to buy them that steal them.
Attorneys for Beats paint the counterfeiters as part of a sophisticated ring that has constructed their business to operate in such a way as to maximize profits while minimizing the chance they will be discovered by law enforcement, shipping fake Beats products "in small quantities via international mail to minimize detection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection" while disguising their identities. Counterfeit sites like those Beats is going after are estimated to generate more than $135 billion in annual sales, the company says.
ROCCAT Lua Gaming Mouse Review
We have just posted up our review of the ROCCAT Lua Gaming Mouse. This is a basic mouse that is priced to sell and still packs in a bunch of ROCCAT features and the performance and reliability that we have come to expect from this company. It is a simple three-button mouse, so it is a bit short on extras, but can it make up for it in software and design? Take a look to find out in our review.
This mouse has some really important features to designed into it, one of which that is its ambidextrous V-shape. This is a huge plus for those left handed people who may have trouble looking for a mouse. As this is only a three button mouse, this design works very well here. I shall note that while I am terrible with my left hand, it felt very comfortable in my left hand as it did in my right hand.
Guadian's Best Games of 2014
If you are looking for some good games to spend your summer days inside - check out the list of the best games (so far) of 2014. There are a few in there that I've played and there are some that I may just have to check out.
Just for the heck of it, we're not allowing new downloads for older titles or updates, remasters or conversions of games that have already been released elsewhere. So that's why you won't find Towerfall: Ascension (which is brilliant) or Last of Us: Left Behind (which is astonishing). Also, Stuart Dredge has compiled a separate list of smartphone titles, hence no Monument Valley, Threes or Hearthstone.
Bitcoin Could be the Perfect Untraceable Currecy
There are some advantages to Cryptocurrency - including the obvious - you can generate it yourself. Other people like the fact that it is a little more obscure and unregulated. If you are into questionable activity - and perhaps other activity that is legitimate, but don't want the transactions traceable, Bitcoin could soon be your place of refuge. Dark Wallet is being tested where your transactions will be scrambled into segments spread around to make it almost impossible to trace. Instead of an offshore account, you'll simply need to deal with Bitcoins in your Dark Wallet.
Bitcoin works only because every transaction is recorded in a public ledger known as the blockchain, an unforgeable accounting file that’s constantly being replicated and distributed to thousands of computers running bitcoin’s software. The blockchain doesn’t identify who’s spending or receiving bitcoins with real names, only jumbled strings of characters known as bitcoin addresses. In theory, that makes the digital currency as anonymous as cash and as frictionless as PayPal.
Cortana or Louise?
Microsoft sometimes misses the boat when it comes to product marketing and naming. They've had a few misses - and a few hits, but with their personal digital assistant they nailed it with Cortana. Until shortly before launch, it had a much different name and almost launched as "Louise", while the name is perfectly acceptable for a grandmother, the reality is that it is pretty dated in this day and age. Thankfully Halo fans won out.
The demo is quite old but we had not seen the videos before and though you might enjoy them too, show Louise running on Windows Phone 7. It's quite easy to see the comparisons between Cortana and Louise and shows how far Microsoft has come with its digital assistant.
WIndows Build 9788 Includes Start Menu
It appears that Microsoft may actually be listening to their customers and FINALLY putting an actual Start Menu in their OS for desktop users. Not everyone that uses Windows 8 wants to use - or has a touchscreen and we've been begging for this for years. The image below appears to be legit, and while it does say Windows 8.1 Pro, the rumor is that this is a feature that still won't show up until Windows "Threshold". I really hope that it makes it to a patch here soon. While there are some good Start Button replacements, none are perfect, and this looks great.
Thoughts? Post at the link below.