Judy’s Tech News Digest

Windows 8.1 is Here

windows 81Microsoft has rolled out Windows 8.1, an incremental update to its Windows operating system. Two key features that were missing from Windows 8 have been added. A new, modified Start button has been added. There was much complaining regarding the missing Start button in Windows 8. Also added is the ability to boot a PC directly to the old-school desktop mode.

Users already running Windows 8 or Windows RT can download the free Windows 8.1 update from the Windows Store. Windows 8.1 will be available preloaded on new devices and in boxed software form for $119.99 for the core version and $199.99 for the Pro version.

Netflix on Your Set-Top Box?

netflix-imageAccording to The Wall Street Journal, Netflix is talking with several U.S. pay-television providers.  Its goal is to make its online video service available on the providers’ set-top boxes.  The companies reportedly involved in the discussions include Comcast and Suddenlink Communications.   The talks are considered preliminary with no deals imminent.  A similar deal was recently announced in the U.K. with cable provider Virgin Media, Inc.

This would be quite a milestone for Netflix in the U.S., where cable providers have been leery of any tie-in to their video streaming service.


BlackBerry – “You Can Count on Us”

blackberryThis week, BlackBerry posted a letter in more than thirty major news publications in nine countries, as well as on their website, to let BlackBerry users know that they count on BlackBerry.  Citing substantial cash on hand and a debt-free balance sheet as well as a restructuring with a goal to to cut expenses by 50%, BlackBerry assured the BlackBerry community that they are moving towards a ‘very efficient’, customer-oriented organization.’

Saying that “these are no doubt challenging times for us”, BlackBerry went on to say that they “don’t underestimate the situation or ignore the challenges we are facing.”

Once the leader in the smartphone market, BlackBerry’s market share has been eclipsed by Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android devices. Even its stronghold in the business community has been greatly diminished. BlackBerry has been the target of much bad press as a result. It recently signed a letter of intent agreement for a sale of the company valued at $4.7 billion to a consortium led by Fairfax Financial, the company’s largest shareholder.

The Homebrew Computer Club is Reuniting

homebrewThe Homebrew Computer Club is reuniting next month.  The legendary computer club, founded in 1975, is where Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak first showed off their retail computers.

The reunion was funded will a goal of raising $16,000 in Kickstarter campaign. As of October 17th, 379 backers have pledged over $36,000.

AT&T Goes All In with Shared Data Plans

att2AT&T will require all new customers to sign up for one of its Mobile Share plans starting October 25th.   These plans provide unlimited voice and text as well as a single pool of data for multiple devices.

Existing customers can keep their current plans and can purchase new phones without having change their plan to Mobile Share.

AT&T is not the first to do this.  When Verizon launched its Share Everything plans last year, they were mandatory for new subscribers.

Cupertino:  It’s a Go for the Spaceship Campus

cupertinoOn October 15th, the Cupertino City Council unanimously approved Apple’s plans for its new “spaceship campus.”  If no petitions for reconsideration are received within ten days, Apple will be granted permits to begin demolition of the former HP campus, currently located on the site.

Phase I of the project is for a 2.8 million square foot ring-shaped main building.  Included is  a 120,000 square foot auditorium and a 100,000 square foot auditorium.  In addition to a main parking structure for nearly 6,000 cars, the main building will include an underground parking facility for nearly 2,400 cars.

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