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Phil Spencer Talks New Xbox One Elite Controller

posted Sunday Jul 19, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo

Phil Spencer Talks New Xbox One Elite Controller

One of the big announcements at Microsoft's E3 presentation was a new Xbox One controller. While the price is a little steep, it does bring to the table a pretty incredible feature set. But outside of a few display units, there wasn't much more information on the device in the post-conference panels and news releases. That is until Phil Spencer went into more detail about the new gaming pad in an interview about the future of Xbox.

In the most recent edition of Edge magazine, the Xbox head took some time to address the criticism and glory behind the new controller. He also explained who the hardware specifically targets, along with how the community had input in the design.

Spencer was asked if the design was an internal project or something driven by the community. He responded by saying,

Definitely from the community. There's a lot of innovation that happens in the controller space - people want more customisation when they're at the higher end, and they want to be able to make it their controller. Whereas for me I take the default setup that I've learned. But you think about your eSport pro gaming, which is a very, very strong growth category: those people - a growing segment of our population - really care about making the controller feel exactly the way they want it to feel.

So the controller is targeted at pro gamers who not only take their gaming more seriously, but require a bit more customizability and durability in their peripherals. Does this mean that the regular Xbox controller is gone? Contrary to what the majority of the Internet believes, no. If you'll recall, Microsoft also announced an improved Xbox One controller which (thankfully) brings back the 3.5mm audio jack and improves the bumpers.

I think that controller, especially with some of the recent modifications we made with the audio jack and the shoulder buttons, is the best controller, obviously, that we've made up until the point the Elite controller comes out. We look at the Elite controller as being for somebody who feels they're an elite competitive gamer, and that's great for them, but we'll continue to be very supportive of our Xbox One controller. It's what a vast majority of our gamers will be playing (for the) life of the console.

While I may not be a "pro gamer," I definitely want to pick up the Elite controller and use it in my every day gamer, and a lot of the Xbox community has chimed in with the same feelings about the new accessory. And if that's not for you and you're in the market for an additional controller, the revamped standard one is perfect for you. This gives the Xbox One some more diversity and really does appeal to several different markets now.

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Netflix Streaming Package Price Change Coming Soon

posted Sunday Jul 19, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo

Netflix Streaming Package Price Change Coming Soon

It's been almost three years since Netflix' CEO Reed Hastings tried to split the company into two. Since the public outrage and reversal in decision, the company has seen record growths and a myriad of success, even after a price hike at the same time. Well, it appears that it may be time for another change in the company, so you might want to prepare your wallets for the second incoming price increase. This time it's for all you streamers out there.

While the news isn't shocking and the increase won't be happening this year, it is coming. Hastings spoke on this in an investor meeting earlier this week. The announcement came on a day where Netflix stock rose over 10 percent and the company saw a seven-to-one stock split that evening.

Again, this announcement shouldn't surprise anyone who has been following the video-streaming giant for any length of time, as the $7.99 per month price point was something that Hastings said he wanted to change for a while now. If you recall, way back in 2010 Netflix introduced a streaming-only package that matched the cost of Hulu Plus.

Netflix has made over $800 million in revenue from US streaming alone, with another $300 million coming from the rest of the world. With over 40 million US subscribers, a raise to $9.99 per month would prove fruitful for the company, as the team currently shells out $7.7 billion in content licensing.

It's also important to note that the $7.99 per month plan isn't the only package that Netflix offers for streaming. While $7.99 gets you 2 screens and HD-streaming if you were grandfathered in, 4 simultaneous screen watching and Ultra HD runs you $12.99 per month. Hastings said he'd also "encourage" users to move into that higher plan if they don't already have it.

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T-Mobile's 911 Outages Last Year Cost Company $17.5 Million

posted Sunday Jul 19, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo

T-Mobile's 911 Outages Last Year Cost Company $17.5 Million

Lots of tech news happens in the course of the week and sometimes you have to skip stuff that doesn't have a conclusion yet. This happened last year, when T-Mobile had two nationwide 911 outages in the month of August. This meant that emergency calls were not connecting to emergency service provider, which is a really big deal. The reason this is being talked about now, however, is because the Federal Communications Commission has now issued a fine for those outages.

Because of the incidents, T-Mobile will have to pay out $17.5 million to the FCC and will also have to put in place a compliance program that includes failovers for the company in order to prevent an outage from happening again in the future.

The FCC document reports that on August 8th, 2014, T-Mobile had two 911 outages, for a total of three hours without service. T-Mobile users dialing 911 at that time were unable to place the call, let alone reach a dispatcher. The FCC also said that T-Mobile took way too long on letting emergency service providers know about the problem. Additionally, T-Mobile did not have the necessary backups in place to counter a drop in coverage at this magnitude.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement that he will be holding services accountable if these issues persist.

The Commission has no higher priority than ensuring the reliability and resilience of our nation's communications networks so that consumers can reach public safety in their time of need. Communications providers that do not take necessary steps to ensure that Americans can call 911 will be held to account.

For reference, the FCC says there are just over 27,000 emergency calls places in the US from all cell phone providers every hour. Considering T-Mobile makes up a large portion of the consumer cell phone base, two outages totaling three hours is a problem that needs to be rectified.

A spokeswoman for T-Mobile said that there have been "significant changes" made to the 911 service over the past year and that this type of problem shouldn't happen in the future.

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Microsoft Presents New Way to Get Work Done with GigJam

posted Sunday Jul 19, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo

Microsoft Presents New Way to Get Work Done with GigJam

Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference was this week in Orlando, and it allowed the company to show off some new products and services that were outside the Windows 10 craze. On that list was a new service that helps you get work done. No bells, no whistles, just productivity.

Project GigJam, as it's been called for a while now, was in development for several years before it was announced at WPC 15. It's a simple an easy way to not only do work, but allow others to see and collaborate on your work. GigJam operates by taking a task and disassembling it into individual steps and focus points. You can assign people or groups certain tasks, connect to other software apps to grab information or even jump into internal databases to extract the data you need for the project at hand.

Running off of Microsoft's complex and efficient Azure Web Services, GigJam can be installed to any of the popular operating systems. Geared towards business power users, the entire system works using APIs, meaning there isn't special integration that's required to make GigJam work for you.

GigJam doesn't tout itself to be a new single product. As Microsoft's GM of Ambient Computing and Robotics Vijaty Mital puts it,

(Gigjam is) a new and different kind of productivity offering. We turn every task in an application into a multi-person app, all at the speed of communication. GigJam is doing something unprecedented. It's an entirely new system. it's ultra-light weight and follows standard protocols of HTTP, OAuth, REST, HTML/JavaScript, and more.

Microsoft's TechNet blog laid out two scenarios that GigJam is perfect for.

  • A physical therapist who previously worked alone to create a rehab protocol now involves the patient and the patient's family (each interacting from their own devices), all the while making sure that sensitive physician's notes and the patient's records are appropriately shielded.
  • An engineer assigned to inspect an aircraft fuselage can opportunistically accelerate the work by divvying up some of it for a couple of colleagues who happen to be nearby and free, while still maintaining personal responsibility through the ability to review the colleagues' input before committing it.
A sign-up link is on GigJam's homepage, where you'll be notified when the service goes live if you provide an email address. I'm very curious to see how the system works and have already signed up. If it can improve efficiency for businesses simply by making it easier to work together and gather information, then the Microsoft team has hit another home run this year.

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Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata Dies at 55

posted Sunday Jul 12, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo

Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata Dies at 55

It is with great sadness that we have to even type these words. Nintendo has just issued a press release stating that President and CEO Satoru Iwata has passed away at the early age of 55. From the statement, Nintendo says it is due to a bile duct growth.

Nintendo Co., Ltd. deeply regrets to announce that President Satoru Iwata passed away on July 11, 2015 due to a bile duct growth.

Appointed as President in 2002 and CEO in June of 2013, Iwata took the reigns with great force over the past few years, in an attempt to bring Nintendo back to the glory days. He capped that statement emphatically at E3 when the games Nintendo showcased had a release date within the next year and were extremely popular with fans worldwide.

GiantBomb.com writer Alex Navarro put it on Twitter best when he said,

Industry isn't old enough to have lost many giants. This is a major one. Brutal...Say whatever you want about Nintendo under Iwata's direction, people LOVED him. No matter how cynical the audience got, he always connected.

For Nintendo, this does open up a succession discussion as to who will follow in his iconic footsteps. It is possible Miyamoto may take over a larger role in the company, or even Nintendo USA President Reggie Fils-Aime could head the gaming giant in the right way.

Iwata took a 50 percent paycut, with many other directors at Nintendo taking cuts as well over the past handful of years to show their dedication to the vision of restoring Nintendo as a leader in innovation and gaming. Nintendo will always need someone at the helm who is deeply passionate about the company, but also one who is not afraid to be a bit goofy at times, because that is at the heart of Nintendo.

Rest in Peace, Iwata-san. The entire staff at PLuGHiTz Live extend our deepest condolences and respects to Mr. Iwata's family, his colleagues and the whole Nintendo team.

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Mitro Shuts its Doors on August 31st

posted Sunday Jul 12, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo

Mitro Shuts its Doors on August 31st

Have you used Mitro, Twitter's password manager that the company acquired last year? If you didn't, that's okay, as not many people did. However it was very popular within Silicon Valley startups as a way for companies to manage internal passwords and credentials. It was also free, which was a nice selling point. However, Mitro announced it will be closing on August 31st.

A page dedicated to the shutdown explained why.

Unfortunately, we can no longer maintain Mitro. On August 31st, 2015 it will be shut down. Please follow the directions below to export your data and remove the extension. We will delete all data on September 13th, 2015. Thank you for your support, and sorry for the inconvenience. If you wish to transfer to an alternative password manager, we recommend 1Password, Dashlane, or LastPass.

TIMELINE

July 18th: Creating new accounts will be disabled.

August 4th: Final email warning will be sent.

August 16th: Mitro will be come read-only.

August 31st: Mitro will be turned off.

September 13th: All Mitro user data will be permanently destroyed.

The site also says that if you want to pay $200 per month because of the "extreme hardship" this may cause, you can email one of the product managers, which seems insane for a password manager. This was one installed via a Chrome Extension, which opens it up for even more trouble than it would be worth to save your passwords.

So there you have it. Twitter is shutting down Mitro and is, for now, getting away from the password management space. With all of the other options out there, I doubt this will create too much of a rift, especially since the company has made it extremely easy to export your data to an Excel spreadsheet or .csv file.

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