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Google unveils lots of new ChromeOS devices
By Thom Holwerda on 2015-03-31 21:26:37

Google has unveiled a whole lot of new Chrome OS devices today - mostly laptops - but there's also a small Chromecast-like dongle that you can slip into any HDMI port and turn that display into a full-on Chrome OS machine. It's only $99, which puts it right into impulse-buy territory.

One of the laptops is a convertible with a touchscreen, which seems odd at first because Chrome OS isn't really built with touch in mind. It starts to make more sense, however, when you combine with the news that Google is opening up the App Runtime for Chrome to all Android developers, allowing them to get their Android applications ready for Chrome OS.

It seems Google's vision for Chrome OS and Android is becoming clear. A few years from now, Chrome OS or Android will be a distinction without a difference for most people.

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Microsoft unveils Surface 3, with terrible EU pricing
By Thom Holwerda on 2015-03-31 16:01:53

The result is Surface 3, as well as a mobile-broadband version, Surface 3 (4G LTE). It's the thinnest and lightest Surface we've ever shipped. It runs full Windows, including desktop applications. It includes a one-year subscription to Office 365 to help you really get down to work. And it starts at just $499.

I was genuinely excited when I read about this Surface 3. I actually really like the Surface concept, but the Surface Pro 3 is simply too powerful (and thus, too expensive) for my specific workload (minor translation work, proofreading, watching some videos, some browsing, that sort of thing). A quad-core Intel Atom Surface with proper Windows (x86-64!) seems like a perfect machine for me, and the price, too, looked great: $499 for the basic model, and another $129 for the keyboard (even if Microsoft does not know how to red).

And then I saw the European prices. Oh boy. The basic model is a whopping €609, and the keyboard is another €155. That's insane, and utterly ruins the value proposition for the Surface 3 in Europe.

Great device, terrible, terrible pricing.

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The Verge's Samsung Galaxy S6 review
By Thom Holwerda on 2015-03-31 15:46:54

The reviews of the new Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are starting to roll in. The Verge seems first.

But design at this deeper level matters. And it's something Samsung has chosen - or been forced - to contend with. The Galaxy S6 is the first time I've felt like Samsung might finally be grappling with the idea of what a smartphone ought to be on an ontological level. No, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge don't fully tick off every single box in that checklist. But they've done something better: become phones that are more than the collection of their parts.

Samsung finally copied the right thing: caring about design.

Basically, a good-looking phone that feels great in the hand, crazy fast, good, fast camera, and toned-down TouchWiz.

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Microsoft pushes Spartan to Windows 10 preview users
By Thom Holwerda on 2015-03-30 22:26:41

Since the release of build 10041 for PCs we've continued to make steady progress, and as I said in the blog post with that one we’re working to bring you builds to the Fast ring faster than before. Builds last week were BIG ones for us as well, since "Project Spartan" was integrated into our flighting branch for the first time. That's right, this means that today's release includes the new Project Spartan browser and you'll get to use it for the first time on PCs as it begins to show up across the Windows 10 device family.

This is the first Windows 10 preview build with Microsoft's new browser.

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Senate to investigate White House role in Google's antitrust victory
By Thom Holwerda on 2015-03-30 21:19:57

A Senate panel plans to investigate whether the White House inappropriately derailed a federal investigation into accusations that Google was stifling online competition.

Sen. Mike Lee, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary's Antitrust Subcommittee, plans to contact the Federal Trade Commission, Google, and other online companies to discuss the issue, Emily Long, a spokeswoman for the Utah Republican, said Monday. The subcommittee has no plans yet to hold a hearing on the issue, she said.

If this is a genuine inquiry - and not just party politics, Democrats vs. Republicans or vice versa - then I'm all for it. This whole thing looks incredibly shady.

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Alternative patent licensing groop for HEVC
By special contributor ddc_ on 2015-03-30 21:14:15

HEVC Advance, another patent licensing group, completely independent from MPEG LA, has announced its existence, but not its licensing fees. The uncertainty and potential costs may hinder acceptance of MPEG's next generation HEVC coding format, also known as h.265.

This is good news for Google, who has just released another RC for their VP9 codec and for Xiph.org, who are finalizing their Daala.

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Tim Cook: pro-discrimination 'religious freedom' laws are dangerous
By Thom Holwerda on 2015-03-30 17:59:01

I'm not a huge fan of Tim Cook professionally (personally, on the other hand, he seems like a nice guy), but on this one, he's 100% right.

There's something very dangerous happening in states across the country.

A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors. Some, such as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law.

Others are more transparent in their effort to discriminate. Legislation being considered in Texas would strip the salaries and pensions of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples - even if the Supreme Court strikes down Texas' marriage ban later this year. In total, there are nearly 100 bills designed to enshrine discrimination in state law.

America is the land of opportunity. Just don't be black, gay, or transgender.

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'Cyber is just pounding me from every direction'
By Thom Holwerda on 2015-03-27 15:53:11

Texas representative John Carter, chairman of the subcommittee on Homeland Security appropriations, and who sits on various other defense-related subcommittees, is hearing about cyber a lot these days. As he put it, "cyber is just pounding me from every direction." That's just the first few seconds of the very entertaining video, where Carter tries to find the right words to express his concern over new encryption standards from Apple and others.

You may laugh about this, but... These are the people running the most powerful military of the world.

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GNOME 3.16, Builder released
By Thom Holwerda on 2015-03-27 15:49:49

GNOME 3.16 brings a brand new notification system and updated calendar design, which helps you to easily keep track of what’s happened, and includes useful information like world times and event reminders. Other features include overlaid scrollbars, updated visuals, improved content views in Files, and a redesigned image viewer.

Major additions have also been made to the GNOME developer experience: GTK+ support for OpenGL now allows GTK+ apps to support 3D natively, a new GLib reference counting feature will help with debugging, and GTK+ Inspector has also had a major update.

Also released: GNOME Builder, an IDE for GNOME.

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After a hit game, indie developers struggle to replicate success
By Thom Holwerda on 2015-03-26 23:04:45

Bithell has become one of a growing number of prominent indie game developers known by name after releasing a hit game. New platforms like Steam and iOS have made it easier than ever for a single developer to create a successful game, and sometimes those games really blow up - developers like Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson have become fast millionaires solely off of a single title. But after the elation of a hit game comes a sudden realization: you need to make another one.

This is pretty common among artists; the second album is always the hardest.

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