Oculus Founder Explains Why the Rift VR Headset Will Cost “More Than $350”

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An anonymous reader writes: When Oculus took to Kickstarter in 2012, the company sought to create the ‘DK1’, a development kit of the Rift which the company wanted to eventually become an affordable VR headset that they would eventually take to market as a consumer product. At the time, the company was aiming for a target price around $350, but since then the company, and the scope of the Rift headset, has grown considerably. That’s one reason why Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey says that the consumer Rift headset, launching in Q1 2016, will cost more than $350. ‘…the reason for that is that we’ve added a lot of technology to this thing beyond what existed in the DK1 and DK2 days,’ says Luckey.

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Ask Slashdot: Simple, Cross-Platform Video Messaging?

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DeathToBill writes: I spend a lot of time away from my kids (think months at a time) who are aged 3-8. I keep in touch with them by Skype, but the young ones are not really old enough to concentrate on it and we’re often in quite different timezones, so it’s not often it can be very spontaneous. We’d like to have some way that we can record short video messages of things we’re doing and send them to each other. It needs to have an iPad app that is simple enough for a three-year-old to use with help and for a five-year-old to use without help; it needs to have an Android or web client, preferably one that doesn’t require an Apple ID; it needs to be able to record a short video and send it to someone. As far as I can tell, iMessage requires Apple kit (there is an Android app but it sends all your messages through a server in China…) and Whatsapp works on iPhone but not iPad. What can you suggest?

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Apple Bans iFixit Repair App From App Store After Apple TV Teardown

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alphadogg writes: iFixit, the fix-it-yourself advocate for users of Apple, Google and other gear, has had its repair manual app banned from Apple’s App Store after it conducted an unauthorized teardown of Apple TV and Siri remote. iFixit blogged “we’re a teardown and repair company; teardowns are in our DNA — and nothing makes us happier than figuring out what makes these gadgets tick. We weighed the risks, blithely tossed those risks over our shoulder, and tore down the Apple TV anyway.” iFixit does still have Windows and Android apps, and has no immediate plans to rewrite its Apple app to attempt being reinstated.

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NVIDIA Launches GeForce NOW Game Streaming Service

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MojoKid writes: NVIDIA has championed game streaming for a number of years now. Whether it be from a GeForce GTX-equipped PC to one of its SHIELD devices or from its cloud-based GRID gaming beta service to a SHIELD, Today though, NVIDIA is kicking its game streaming business up a notch by launching a new service dubbed GeForce NOW. The service streams PC games from the cloud to SHIELD devices at up to full HD 1080p resolutions at 60 fps. It may be tempting to call GeForce NOW an official re-branding of its GRID game streaming beta but that is reportedly not the case. The GRID beta is going away with the launch of GeForce NOW (an update will replace the GRID app with GeForce NOW), but according to NVIDIA, GeForce NOW was re-architected from the ground up to provide a better overall experience. NVIDIA sees GeForce NOW as sort of a “Netflix for games.” There is a small monthly fee of $7.99 for a subscription, which gives customers access to a slew of games. There are too many to list but top notch titles like Batman: Arkham City, Ultra Street Fighter IV, GRID 2 and many others are included. In addition to the games included in the subscriptions price, NVIDIA will also be offering GeForce NOW users access to AAA-titles on the day of release, for a fee. The games will typically be sold at a regular retail prices but not only will users get to play those games via the GeForce NOW streaming service on SHIELD devices, they’ll also receive a key for playing the game on a PC as well. To use GeForce NOW you’ll need an NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV, SHIELD portable, or SHIELD tablet (with the latest software updates installed) and a SHIELD-approved 5GHz router. Your broadband connection must also offer download speeds of at least 12Mb/s. 20Mb/s is recommended for 720p / 60 FPS quality, and 50Mb/s is recommended for 1080p / 60 FPS.

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Amazon Launches ‘Flex,’ a Crowdsourced Delivery Service

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sckirklan writes: Amazon has rolled out a new service called Amazon Flex. It lets people sign up to deliver packages using their mobile phone and their car, earning $18-25/hr while doing so. Think Uber, but for package delivery. Their goal is to fully support one-hour delivery within certain cities. The service is available in Seattle to start, and it’ll soon expand to Manhattan, Baltimore, Miami, Dallas, Austin, Chicago, Indianapolis, Atlanta, and Portland. No news on what they think of bicycle couriers, but given their focus on being green, I’d imagine something is in the works.

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Google Shows Off 2 New Nexus Phones, a New Pixel, and More

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Two of the products officially unveiled at Google’s much-anticipated (at least much-hyped) release announcement were widely and correctly predicted: a pair of new Nexus phones. The flagship is the all-metal Huawei 6P, with a 5.7″ AMOLED display (2,560×1,440), 3GB of RAM, and a Snapdragon 810 chip. The Huawei overshadows the nonetheless respectable second offering, the LG-made Nexus 5X, which makes concessions in the form of less RAM (2GB instead of the 6P’s 3), smaller battery (2700mAh, instead of 3450) and a lesser Snapdragon chip inside (808, rather than 810). Both phones, though, come with USB-C and with a big upgrade for a line of phones not generally praised for its cameras: a large-pixel 12.3-megapixel Sony camera sensor. Much less predicted: Google announced a new bearer for the Pixel name, after its line of high-end Chromebooks; today’s entrant is a tablet, not running Chrome, and it’s running Android rather than Chrome OS. The Pixel C tablet will debut sometime later this year; google touts it as “the first Android tablet built end-to-end by Google.” Also on the agenda today, news that Android 6 will start hitting Nexus devices next week.

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Samsung Pay Launches In the United States

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An anonymous reader writes: Ready to take on Apple Pay and Android Pay, Samsung Pay is now live in the United States. The service has already launched in South Korea, where it saw over $30 million in transactions its first month. The Verge reports: “Samsung Pay may be more capable than other competing services, but its availability has some limits. First, it’s only built into Samsung’s newest devices: the Galaxy S6, the S6 Edge and Edge+, and the Note 5. You also need a credit or debit card from Visa, MasterCard, or American Express card, and it has to be issued by one of just a few banks: Bank of America, Citi, American Express, and US Bank are available at launch. (Samsung Pay also works with customer loyalty cards.)”

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iPhone 6s’s A9 Processor Racks Up Impressive Benchmarks

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MojoKid writes: Underneath the hood of Apple’s new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models is a new custom designed System-on-Chip (SoC) that Apple has dubbed its A9 processor. It’s a 64-bit chip that, according to Apple, is the most advanced ever built for any smartphone, and that’s just one of many claims coming out of Cupertino. Apple is also claiming a level of gaming performance on par with dedicated game consoles and with a graphics engine that’s 90 percent faster than the previous generation. For compute chores, Apple says the A9 chip improves overall CPU performance by up to 70 percent. These performance promises come without divulging too much about the physical makeup of the A9, though in testing its dual-core SoC does seem to compete well with the likes of Samsung’s octal-core Exynos chips found in the Galaxy S6 line. Further, in intial graphics benchmark testing, the A9 also leads the pack in mosts tests, sometimes by a healthy margin, even besting Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 in tests like 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited.

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Meet the Michael Jordan of Sport Coding

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pacopico writes: Gennady Korotkevich — aka Tourist — has spent a decade ruling the world of sport coding. He dominates TopCoder, Codeforces and just about every tournament sponsored by the likes of Google and Facebook. Bloomberg has profiled Korotkevich’s rise through the sport coding ranks and taken a deep look at what makes this sport weirdly wonderful. The big takeaway from the piece seems to be that sport coding has emerged as a way for very young coders to make names for themselves and get top jobs — sometimes by skipping college altogether.

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Samsung, Facebook’s Oculus Plan November Launch For $99 Gear VR Headset

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An anonymous reader writes: Samsung has unveiled a new version of its virtual reality headset, the Gear VR, that it plans to sell starting in November for $99. The headset will be compatible with all of Samsung’s flagship smartphones. “With mobile VR, you only need a great mobile game device and a smartphone,” said Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe, speaking at the company’s developer conference.

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Facebook Finally Delivers On the VRML Dream With Immersive Star Wars Video

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An anonymous reader writes: Facebook has launched its 360-degree video feature, with an eye to virtual reality and next year’s release of the Oculus Rift. Among the showcase videos is a specially rendered ‘fly-through’ of a scene from new Star Wars movie ‘The Force Awakens’, allowing the viewer to pan laterally and horizontally as the movie progresses. This kind of immersive video was made possible with Apple’s QuickTime VR in the 1990s, but was hampered by the same technological bottlenecks of the period as VRML.

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Selfies Kill More People Than Shark Attacks

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HughPickens.com writes: The Independent reports that so far this year more people have died while trying to taking a ‘selfie’ than from shark attacks. So far, 12 people have lost their life while trying to take a photo of themselves but the number of people who have died as a result of a shark attack was only eight. Some recent selfie-fatalities: A 66-year-old tourist from Japan recently died after falling down some stairs while trying to take a photo at the Taj Mahal in India, a Mississippi woman was gored to death by a bison while visiting Yellowstone National Park, and in August a man trying to take a selfie was gored to death during a running of the bulls in Villaseca de la Sagra, Spain. Some groups have been trying to get on top of the wave. In June Disney banned selfie sticks in its amusement parks. And foreseeing the selfie crisis in a very specific way, New York State passed a bill in June 2014 to prohibit people from having their photo taken (or taking it themselves) while “hugging, patting or otherwise touching tigers.”

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Groupon Is Closing Operations In 7 Countries, Laying Off 1,100

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New submitter joesreviewss writes: Groupon is laying off about 10% of its workforce and is shutting down operations in seven countries. 1,100 people worldwide will be let go and the company will take a pre-tax charge of $35 million in the process. A Groupon statement reads in part: “Let’s be clear: these are tough actions to take, especially when we believe we’re stronger than ever. We’re doing all we can to make these transitions as easy as possible, but it’s not easy to lose some great members of the Groupon family. Yet just as our business has evolved from a largely hand-managed daily deal site to a true ecommerce technology platform, our operational model has to evolve. Evolution is hard, but it’s a necessary part of our journey. It’s also part of our DNA as a company and is one of the things that will help us realize our vision of creating the daily habit in local commerce.”

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Another Pharma Company Recaptures a Generic Medication

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Applehu Akbar writes: Daraprim, currently used as a niche AIDS medication, was developed and patented by Glaxo (now GlaxoSmithKlein) decades ago. Though Glaxo’s patent has long since expired, a startup called Turing Pharmaceuticals has been the latest pharma company to ‘recapture’ a generic by using legal trickery to gain exclusive rights to sell it in the US. Though Turing has just marketing rights, not a patent, on Daraprim, it takes advantage of pharma-pushed laws that forbid Americans from shopping around on the world market for prescriptions. Not long ago, Google was fined half a billion dollars by the FDA for allowing perfectly legal Canadian pharmacies to advertise on its site. So now that Turing has a lock on Daraprim, it has raised the price from $13.50 a pill to $750. In 2009 another small pharma company inveigled an exclusive on the longstanding generic gout medication colchicine from the FDA, effectively rebranding the unmodified generic so they could raise its price by a similar percentage.

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Microsoft and Others Mean Stiff Competition For Apple iPad Pro

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MojoKid writes: When Microsoft first announced the Surface Pro back in 2012, many Apple fans snickered. Here was Microsoft, releasing a somewhat thick and heavy tablet that not only had a kickstand, but also an odd cover that doubled as a keyboard. And to top things off, the device made use of a stylus. Steve Jobs famously said in 2010, “If you see a stylus, they blew it.” But Microsoft forged ahead with the Surface Pro 2, and later with the Surface Pro 3. Not only were customers becoming more aware of the Surface but competitors were also taking note. We’ve seen Lenovo introduce the ideapad MIIX 700, which incorporates its own kickstand and an Intel Skylake-based Core m7 processor. And most recently, we’ve seen Apple pull a literal 180 on this design and platform approach, announcing the iPad Pro — a device that features a fabric keyboard cover similar in concept to the Surface Pro and a stylus. Dell and ASUS have also brought compelling offerings to the table as well. However, the big head-to-head competition will no doubt be between the Surface Pro 4, which is set to be unveiled early next month and Apple’s iPad Pro when it finally goes on sale.

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One Day After iOS 9’s Launch, Ad Blockers Top Apple’s App Store

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HughPickens.com writes: Sarah Perez reports at TechCrunch that only one day after the release of Apple’s newly released version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 9, ad blockers are topping the charts in the App Store and it seems that new iOS 9 users are thrilled to have access to this added functionality. The Top Paid iOS app is the new ad-blocker Peace, a $2.99 download from Instapaper founder Marco Arment. Peace currently supports a number of exclusive features that aren’t found in other blockers yet. Most notably, it uses Ghostery’s more robust blocklist, which Arment licensed from the larger company by offering them a percentage of the app’s revenue. “I can’t believe how many trackers are on popular sites,” says Arment. “I can’t believe how fast the web is without them.” Other ad blockers are also topping the paid app chart as of today, including the Purify Blocker (#3), Crystal (#6), Blockr (#12). (Ranks as of the time of writing.) With the arrival of these apps, publishers and advertisers are fretting about the immediate impact to their bottom lines and business, which means they’ll likely soon try to find ways to sneak around the blockers. In that case, it should be interesting to see which of the apps will be able to maintain their high degree of ad blocking over time.

It’s no surprise that advertisers and publishers who make their money from advertising aren’t exactly fans of blockers. What is surprising is that no one seemed to disagree with the argument that online ads have gotten out of control. “I think if we don’t acknowledge that, we’d be fools,” says Scott Cunningham, “So does that mean ad blockers are good or right? Absolutely not. Do we have an accountability and responsibility to address these things? Absolutely — and there’s a lot that we’re doing now.” Harry Kargman agrees that in many cases, online ads have created “a bad consumer experience — from an annoyance perspective, a privacy perspective, a usability perspective.” At the same time, Kargman says that as the industry works to solve these problems, it also needs to convince people that when you use an ad blocker, “That’s stealing. It’s no different than ripping music. It’s no different than pirating movies.”

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Apple’s First Android App, Move To iOS, Is Getting Killed With One-Star Reviews

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An anonymous reader writes: Apple today launched Move to iOS, the company’s first Android app built in-house. As we noted earlier, “It should surprise no one that the first app Apple built for Android helps you ditch the platform.” The fact that the app is getting flooded with one-star reviews is not particularly surprising, either. At the time of publication, the app has an average rating of 1.8. The larger majority (almost 79 percent) are one-star reviews, followed by five-star reviews (almost 19 percent).

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Apple’s First Android App Makes It Easy To Move To iOS

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Mark Wilson writes: Apple has released its first ever Android app. No, there’s not an Android version of Safari or anything like that, but a tool designed to simplify the process of switching to iOS. The predictably named Move to iOS will appeal to anyone who was persuaded to switch allegiances by the release of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, or indeed iOS 9. The app can be used to move contacts, messages, photos and more to a new iPhone or iPad, and is compatible with phones and tablets running Android 4.0 and newer. It works slightly differently to what you may have expected. Rather than uploading data to the cloud, it instead creates private Wi-Fi network between an Android and iOS device and securely transfers it.

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Microsoft Backports Start Menu To Windows RT

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jones_supa writes: Windows RT devices, such as the Surface RT and the Surface 2, won’t get an upgrade to Windows 10, but instead Microsoft has been working on a platform update that brings the original Start Menu which the company introduced in the first Windows 10 builds. This means that it is technologically based on DirectUI, instead of an XAML-based menu which shipped with the RTM PC version of Windows 10. Aside from the Start Menu, the update is expected to include some minor tweaks and performance improvements as well.

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Are Non-Technical Certifications Worth Earning?

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Nerval’s Lobster writes: Everybody knows that certain technical certifications can boost your career. For developers and others, though, is it worth earning non-technical certifications such as the PMP (Project Management Professional), CRISC (which certifies that you’re good at managing risk)? The short answer, of course, might be, ‘Yes, if you plan on moving into management, or something highly specialized.’ But for everybody else, it’s hard to tell whether certain certifications are worth the time and money, on the nebulous hope that they’ll pay off at some point in the future, or if you’re better off just focusing on the technical certifications for certain hard skills.

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