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Posts tagged tech

Introducing Steam Gauge: Ars reveals Steam’s most popular games 

Kyle Orland just dropped a bomb revealing two month look at Steam sales and games played. It’s incredible. Go read the whole thing. Here’s just a sample.

As you can see, just because a game is registered to a lot of Steam accounts doesn’t mean it’s popular. Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, for instance, is the third-most popular game on the service by ownership, registered to about 12.8 million Steam accounts by our count. But the tech demo, which shows off some deleted content from Half-Life 2, has only been actively loaded up by about 2.1 million of those owners, placing it behind 35 other Steam games by that metric.

WWDC starts June 2nd.

Updated Multitasking Screen In iOS 7

When iOS 7 launched this fall one of the biggest oooh and aaah moments was when people saw the new multitasking screen. In practice, it’s not very much different than the old one (that just popped up on the bottom), but users could now see their apps in their paused status. It looked pretty cool, but it didn’t really add that much more functionality.

More and more, I find myself in an app and wanting to jump into one of the apps in my doc, (honestly, it’s usually Chrome or Mail).

Scenario: I’ll take a picture with ProCamera. The moment passes and I want to search something. I could swear that I was just in Chrome so I double tap the home screen to swipe left. Turns out, I haven’t been on Chrome in a while so I end up swiping a bit one way, then I go back the other way, all the way back to my home screen and launch Chrome from my dock.

Is part of this a personal problem? Absolutely. I can’t remember which apps I was just using. But including the dock on the multitasking screen only adds functionality. Easily move the preview icons to the top of the screen, instead of the bottom, and add the dock.

It turns the double tap into a launcher. It also makes the dock even more important. Suddenly your dock apps become the apps you want to launch quickly, from any screen not just from any home screen. I know I would move Tweetbot there in place of Music. Music has just been there for so long that it’s muscle memory.

Using the multitasking screen to launch dock apps would be faster than springing out to a home screen and then jumping back into an app. 

As it stands now, I can double tap my home button see a couple of recently used applications. Adding the dock isn’t really that much of a stretch.


Android Wear

A day late because I was crazy busy yesterday but HOLY MOLEY. If the new watches from LG and Motorola (featured in this video) are half as good as they appear to be that is a giant leap for smart watches.

[via The Verge]

The internet is fucked 

Nilay Patel explains why Netflix paying Comcast and Verizon is bad for the internet, why they feel they had to do it, and (more importantly) how we’ve gotten to this place.

Here’s a simple truth: the internet has radically changed the world. Over the course of the past 20 years, the idea of networking all the world’s computers has gone from a research science pipe dream to a necessary condition of economic and social development, from government and university labs to kitchen tables and city streets. We are all travelers now, desperate souls searching for a signal to connect us all. It is awesome.

And we’re fucking everything up.

In the meantime, the companies that control the internet have continued down a dark path, free of any oversight or meaningful competition to check their behavior. In January, AT&T announced a new “sponsored data” plan that would dramatically alter the fierce one-click-away competition that’s thus far characterized the internet. Earlier this month,Comcast announced plans to merge with Time Warner Cable, creating an internet service behemoth that will serve 40 percent of Americans in 19 of the 20 biggest markets with virtually no rivals.

And after months of declining Netflix performance on Comcast’s network, the two companies announced a new “paid peering” arrangement on Sunday, which will see Netflix pay Comcast for better access to its customers, a capitulation Netflix has been trying to avoid for years. Paid peering arrangements are common among the network companies that connect the backbones of the internet, but consumer companies like Netflix have traditionally remained out of the fray — and since there’s no oversight or transparency into the terms of the deal, it’s impossible to know what kind of precedent it sets. …

If you read one article today, it should be this one.

Netflix Agrees to Pay Comcast to End Web Traffic Jam 

Netflix Inc. has agreed to pay Comcast Corp. to ensure Netflix movies and TV shows stream smoothly to Comcast customers, a landmark agreement that could set a precedent for Netflix’s dealings with other broadband providers, people familiar with the situation said.

In exchange for payment, Netflix will get direct access to Comcast’s broadband network, the people said. The multiyear deal comes just 10 days after Comcast agreed to buy Time Warner Cable Inc., which if approved would establish Comcast as by far the dominant provider of broadband in the U.S., serving 30 million households.

No. No, no, no, no. This is not how it is supposed to work. How can anyone expect to innovate and compete when giant companies are paying for access. Netflix is just as wrong as Comcast is in this case. They’re setting a terrible precedent.

[edit 1: thanks to makesu1der for the grammar check] 

[edit 2: so, this article is completely readable in my twitter app (Tweetbot) but it’s behind a paywall on an actual computer. I can’t figure out why. I can only point you to my pervious article.] 

Microsoft's new CEO is Satya Nadella 

Ok, Satya, I’m kind of a fan of Windows Phone and Windows 8, but I use a Mac and an iPhone. Let’s see what you can do here. 

Bundle a Motorola phone with a ThinkPad and own the business market

I’ve read six or seven articles about Lenovo’s purchase of Motorola (for 2.9 billion dollars) but not a single one shares, what I think, is the most obvious point. This is Lenovo’s entry point to owning the business smartphone market in the US.

BlackBerry’s departure from relevance has left a power vacuum for the de facto work device (yes, even after all these years) and this is where Lenovo wants to position themselves - every employee at every major company is given a laptop and a phone. Lenovo wants to be the one company providing both.

Lenovo is already the “number one PC company in the world for large business and the public sector” and their ThinkPad is a legendary “work computer.” With businesses as their primary customer it doesn’t take much of a leap in logic that they’d want to sell other things to their customers. Phones are a no brainer.

Lenovo already sells a ton of phones. They’re in fourth place globally with no footing at all in North America. What’s the best way to break into a highly competitive market? Buy someone who is already competing.

And that’s exactly what Lenovo has been trying to do. They tired to buy BlackBerry very recently and to me, tipped their hand that they want to focus on business. Lenovo wouldn’t have looked at BlackBerry if they wanted to make a dent in the consumer market. The BlackBerry brand has never been relevant to consumers but has (until recently) been a mainstay for the white collar at work.

So, Lenovo didn’t buy BlackBerry but instead bought Motorola. Probably a better move since the Motorola name doesn’t immediately evoke a company floundering.

I see no reason why big companies, with thousands of employees, would go anywhere else. Giant companies rotate out laptops and phones every few years. My girlfriend works for one of the big four accounting firms and recently had her work computer upgraded. She went from a 3 year old ThinkPad to a new ThinkPad (still running Windows 7). And she’s eligible for a new phone when her contract runs out at the end of the year.

A Lenovo that owns Motorola will now be able to deliver both, ThinkPads and phones, to companies who buy devices by the gross. Thousands of employees all rotating through 3 year laptop cycles and 2 year phone contracts.

Lenovo can own the business sector in two easy steps:

1) Make devices cheaper for companies that buy laptops and phones together.

2) Bake in some software that will allow IT to to easily deploy and update their applications on desktop and mobile.

Game over. Lenovo wins.

This is the same thing many people, myself included, thought HP was going to do with the consumer market when they bought Palm. Buying a laptop for your kid going to college? For another $100 add a TouchPad. For $50 more add a Pre on contract.

HP had all the retail connections anyone could want. It was just a matter of bundling those devices together in a compelling way. But I guess HP couldn’t see the writing on the wall and, well, we all know what happened to Palm.

I don’t think Lenovo is going to miss this though. Their attempt to buy BlackBerry shows you exactly where their head is. They want the business market, not the consumer one. And they are poised to take it over.


Microsoft testing Windows 8.1 update that hides tile interface by default | The Verge 

I know Tom Warren. He is a man who wouldn’t publish this story unless there was validity to it. It’s a huge shame:

While the software giant originally released Windows 8.1 last year with an option to bypass the “Metro” interface at boot, sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans have revealed to The Verge that the upcoming update for Windows 8.1 will enable this by default. Like many other changes in Update 1, we’re told the reason for the reversal is to improve the OS for keyboard and mouse users.

I have been a fan of Windows 8 since I first saw it in person at CES in 2012. I like that Microsoft has a different idea on how we could be using computers. I like that they actually were moving away from the windowed desktop view that they helped make so popular. I like that it could scale up to 27 inch displays and down to phones. And for the most part, the few Windows 8 (and Windows Phone 8) devices that I’ve used looked and felt pretty good.

Yes it favors touch screen computers. And while Microsoft is trying to push touch computers and convertible tablets it still seems that a majority of users are using a mouse and keyboard (not surprising). I understand the reasoning I just can’t help but think there has to be a better way to optimize Metro (sorry “Modern UI”) for mouse and keyboard. Hiding it isn’t going to push things forward.

Taking 5: Nintendo

Earlier this month Nintendo drastically cut its sales forecasts for the fiscal year after they missed their targets during Christmas. This sent everyone with an internet connection into a tizzy suggesting that Nintendo could make buckets of money releasing iOS and Android games and that they should pull a Sega and exit the hardware market (Kotaku wraps it up nicely, thanks Kotaku).

Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata addressed this by saying, “It’s not as simple as enabling Mario to move on a smartphone.” I couldn’t agree with him more. Nintendo needs to be Nintendo. They need to make great hardware and make great games for that hardware.

So, while people are yelling for Nintendo to abandon their hardware business they’re not seeing that Nintendo has 10.1 billion dollars in the bank. That’s enough money to allow them to coast for decades.

It’s undeniable that Nintendo doesn’t have the marketshare or the mindshare they had at the start of the last generation. Their new console didn’t grab the hearts of the everyman the way the Wii did, but there is still a way for Nintendo to continue to be Nintendo and, perhaps, return to the top.

I have a four point plan:

1) Nintendo needs to pull a Microsoft and start paying developers to develop for their platform. It’s exactly what Microsoft is doing on Windows Phone, and slowly, it’s working.

Nintendo should be actively pursuing indy developers and spurring games creation for their devices. Have ‘dev days.’ Pay for companies of all sizes to release their titles on your platform. Create tools that make it easier to develop. Start earning back that developer trust.

2) Abandon the Wii U. Make it a “hobby” if you want (the way Apple made the Apple TV a hobby for a few years). Sony and Microsoft are using off the shelf parts for their new consoles. Use the same ones. Release modern hardware and price it the same as the PS4. Yes, you’re going to get called out for releasing a “me too” box. But you need to do that. If you can put an Wii / Wii U emulator (or really, all the hardware the way Sony installed an entire PS2 in the PS3 at launch) that’s a bonus. We’re expecting this console cycle to last 8-10 years again, so even if this was released in 2015 it would still sell for six years.

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