Allison Sheridan and Todd Whitehead discuss Oculus Rift! Tom Merritt is on assignment.
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Today’s guests: Allison Sheridan and Todd Whitehead
Oculus unveiled the finalized consumer version of the Rift VR headset, ahead of E3 2015, which begins next week. According to Tech Crunch, the Rift will ship with a Wireless Xbox One controller and a small table-top camera to track LED markers on the headset. The Rift features removable headphones as well as space to let users keep normal eyeglasses on when the headset is worn. The partnership with Microsoft also means Rift will work “natively” with Windows 10 plus the ability to play Xbox One games on the headset.
Oculus also showed off a prototype of its Oculus Touch controllers. Known as the “Half Moon”, they’ll let you pick up objects, fire a gun, or point at things and include integrated inertial and 360-degree movement tracking, plus give haptic feedback.
Ars Technica reports that the European Commission has opened an antitrust investigation into Amazon’s distribution of electronic books. The commission is particularly interested in the company’s contracts with publishers, especially clauses that say Amazon must be informed when a publisher gives favorable or different terms to a competitor, and the right to equal or better terms for themselves.
When contacted for a statement, Amazon expressed confidence in the legality of their agreements, and said they would cooperate fully.
GeekWire reports that T-Mobile’s “outspoken and rakish” CEO John Legere (their words, not ours) posted a YouTube video lashing out against rivals AT&T and Verizon for their tactics in trying to control the upcoming wireless spectrum auction. Legere said, “There’s some serious [BLEEP] about to go down in D.C., and if you are one of the 180 million Americans out there using a smartphone, and you are not pissed off right now, then you are not paying attention, but you need to.” GeekWire reports that he asked consumers to “make some noise,” and reach out directly to the FCC. The remarks come as T-Mobile considers a tie-up with Dish Network Corp., a deal that could alter the landscape in the wireless industry and give T-Mobile more spectrum.
Wired reports that the US State Department has issued new statements on how it plans to restrict published online data for 3-D printed guns. Earlier this week, the State Dept send a letter to Defense Distributed, the group responsible for developing a 3D printed gun, stating that it will require the group to get permission to publish its files online. Last week, the State Department wrote that it intends to require prior approval for the online publication of any “technical data” that would allow for the creation of weapons.
This continues a long legal battle between creators who say that the data is a freedom and speech issue and the State Dept which considers the information could be violation of the International Trade in Arms Regulations. The new State Department restrictions come as Congress starts to re-examine potential regulations on 3-D printed weapons.
Today the US Federal Trade Commission took its first consumer protection action on a crowdsourcing campaign. Re/code reports that the case involves an Oregon man named Erik Chevalier, who launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce a board game called “The Doom That Came to Atlantic City!” Chevalier asked for 35k, got 122k, then 14 months later announced he was canceling the game. Except, you know, he didn’t give the money back. Investigators found he used most of the money on personal expenses. The FTC fined Chevalier $111,793, which he cannot pay, and barred him from misleading people in future crowd funding campaign or publicizing any customer data or not honoring stated refund policies.
Digital camera fanatics there’s a new king in the digital camera landscape. Engadget is reporting that Sony has released A7R II. A camera using the “world’s first back-illuminated full frame sensor”. The Back-illuminated sensors increases the sensor’s light sensitivity in this case an ISO level of 102,400. Until now the technology has been limited to high end camera phones and smaller sensors. The camera’s 35mm sized sensor also sports 42.4 MegaPixels, 5-axis stabilization system and 399 point has detection AF. If that’s not enough the A7R II shoots 4K video using the full sensor without resorting to pixel-binning, a technique where groups of pixels on the sensor are read as one pixel degrading image quality. The camera ships in the US at a wallet busting $3200.
Google would now like to organize cities. According to the Telegraph, the search company has announced a new startup that will focus on improving city living. Sidewalk Labs will independently develop new technologies to deal with cost of living, transportation and energy usage. Google’s Larry Page said a “modest” amount of money had been invested in the new company.
Engadget reports that Skype has announced it will end the “modern” (aka Windows 8-only) version of its messaging app on PC’s as of July 7th. After that date, the next update will move users over to the desktop version. Skype says it’s simplifying its experience around a single program that you can use with both a touchscreen and a mouse and keyboard. The move won’t affect Windows RT or the Skype features in Windows 10.
Breaking News: According to Buzzfeed, Dick Costolo is stepping down as the CEO of Twitter, following months of questions about the company’s performance under his leadership. Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s cofounder, has been tapped as interim CEO. Costolo released a statement which said lots of nice things about Dorsey. Dorsey released a statement which said lots of nice things about Costolo. Twitter stock is up 7% on the news in after-hours trading. There is almost certainly more to come.
Dorsey will continue to lead Square, the mobile payments company he founded after he first left Twitter in 2008. This is Dorsey’s second time returning to Twitter in an increased capacity. He returned in 2010 to lead product after Costolo became CEO, and then gradually scaled back his commitment.
News From You:
KAPT_Kipper sent us the The Verge report that Reddit has banned five subreddits under its new anti-harassment policy. The subreddits were closed for “violating the Reddit rules to keep everyone safe.” One forum dedicated to posting pictures of overweight people had about 151,000 subscribers. A Reddit spokesperson said sites all had numerous complaints that they were harassing people on and off Reddit. The company also said it is taking a “step by step” approach to the recent harassment changes.
habichuelacondulce sent us this story from The Wall Street Journal reporting that Netflix is partnering with Marriott Hotels to bring its streaming video service to more than 300 hotels in the US. Marriott guests will be able to sign into their accounts through a Netflix app on hotel-room TVs or use the app to subscribe to the service if they’re not already subscribers. The service requires some recoding of the Netflix app to allow guests to stay signed in over multiple days and wipe their information clean after they check out. The companies plan to roll out the service over the next year and a half, targeting implementation at nearly all of its hotels by the end of 2016. Six Marriott hotels already offer the service, and six more will by the end of the summer.
spsheridan shared this surprising bit of news. Ars Technica reports Hyperloop Transport Technologies has secured permission to build a five-mile, $100 million Hyperloop test track in California. That’s right, Elon’ Musk’s vision of high speed mass transit will be built.
The first test track will only be five miles long, and it won’t operate at the supersonic speeds that Musk envisioned somewhere between 200 to 300 mph instead of the 760mph envisioned. The test track will be built near Quay Valley in California, in between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2016 and completed in 2017.
Discussion Section Links:
Pick of the Day:
Brandon in Frosty Cobron Australia writes:
As someone who has been listening to the net neutrality debate come to a head over the past 12 months, I thought I understood the importance of the outcome but felt somewhat disconnected from the issue living in Australia. That was until I listened to the two most recent episodes of Upvoted by Reddit, e20 A Neutral Net Pt.1 and e21 A Neutral Net Pt.2. The in depth look into issue of net neutrality, with a special focus on developing internet markets like India and the impacts outside influences like Facebook and internet.org are having.
It’s a great listen for anyone still struggling to understand the net neutrality debate or its importance. Having listened myself, I am now questioning the value of zero rated services at home in Australia.
Stephen Hoos writes in:
I heard on DTNS that Apple will have terrestrial radio stations as part of their new streaming service.
Perhaps Apple has a terrestrial radio so they qualify for the lower mechanical royalty fees.
They want to sound like they are being innovative, but they are just squeezing every penny they can out of the music companies. Pandora came up with the same idea a while ago.
Friday’s guest: Darren Kitchen and Len Peralta