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Today in Tech News Digest, Facebook causes an Oculus rift, HTC One blah blah, Microsoft frees MS-DOS, IRS rules on Bitcoin, Disney buys into YouTube, Google launches Photowall, and lots of white guys wear the Oculus Rift.
Facebook Buys Oculus VR For $2 Billion
Facebook has acquired Oculus VR, the company responsible for the Oculus Rift virtual reality system. In doing so, Facebook caused consternation from early supporters of the Oculus Rift who funded the development of the hardware, and confusion amongst the rest of us.
Facebook is paying $2 billion for Oculus VR, comprising $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares in Facebook stock (worth $1.6 billion). Oculus VR is expected to maintain its headquarters in California and continue operating independently.
The news shocked many industry watchers, as Facebook doesn’t seem like the natural home for virtual reality, but Mark Zuckerberg laid out his vision in a blog post. He sees the Oculus Rift as a “new communication platform” that goes beyond games, with “studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face” two uses for the technology he pinpoints. That still doesn’t explain what Facebook has to do with it.
The acquisition has upset many of the loyal supporters who helped Oculus VR reach this point of development, as the first Oculus Rift hardware was funded by a Kickstarter campaign. In total, 9,500 people raised $2.4 million, but Kickstarter funders merely pledge money to a cause — with the promise of a reward — rather than invest in a company. This should act as a reminder that Kickstarter backers are not due any return on their early support. It may suck but it’s the truth.
HTC Unveils New One M8
HTC has unveiled its new flagship handset, the HTC One M8, a successor to the HTC One released in 2013. The HTC One M8 boasts an aluminium chassis, a 5-inch 1080p screen, a 2.3Ghz Snapdragon processor, 2GB of RAM, and a choice of either 16GB or 32GB of storage space.
Last year’s HTC One was both a critical and commercial success, and HTC is obviously keen to maintain that momentum. It’s chosen a rather odd advertising effort to achieve this goal, with various celebrities telling people to “ask the Internet” rather than listen to the “blah blah blah.” Odd but rather brilliant.
Microsoft Frees MS-DOS Source Code
Microsoft has made the source code for early versions of both MS-DOS and Word for Windows available to the public. MS DOS 1.1 and 2.0, and Microsoft Word for Windows 1.1a, will be added to the Computer History Museum for “historical and technical scholarship.” But as the video above shows, only the geekiest of geeks should mess with MS-DOS.
IRS: Bitcoin Is Property, Not Currency
IRS decides Bitcoin is “currency, not property”. This false dichotomy proves what we already knew: IRS believes they are entitled to YOUR $.
— Korey (@wickerman2kl) March 26, 2014
The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) has ruled that, as far as the U.S. Government is concerned, Bitcoin is property rather than currency [PDF link]. This means that Bitcoin will be treated the same as stocks and bonds, with purchases made using Bitcoin liable for capital gains tax on any profits made in the process.
Bloomberg does a great job of explaining the effects of this decision for those not well-versed in U.S. tax laws. Suffice to say this isn’t being regarded as a positive move for the longterm potential of cryptocurrencies.
Disney Acquires YouTube’s Maker Studios
Disney has acquired Maker Studios for $500 million. Maker Studios is a multi-channel YouTube network comprising thousands of channels including the insanely popular PewDiePie and the awesome Epic Rap Battles Of History.
Disney sees this as a strategic investment, with CEO Robert Iger saying, “Short-form online video is growing at an astonishing pace and with Maker Studios, Disney will now be at the center of this dynamic industry with an unmatched combination of advanced technology and programming expertise and capabilities.”
Photowall: Share Images With Chromecast
Google has released a new app developed using the Chromecast SDK. Photowall for Chromecast is a free app that lets you share images on your TV in real time using a smartphone or tablet. The app can also let you automatically generate a YouTube video of your Photowall. Or not. I vote not.
White Guys Wearin’ Oculus Rifts Tumblr
I don’t think I’m old-fashioned in thinking Oculus Rift in current form looks pretty ridiculous (even if the proper view is from inside it).
— Robert Hof (@robhof) March 26, 2014
And finally, in light of the news of Facebook buying Oculus VR, now is as good a time as any to look at countless photos of white guys wearin’ Oculus Rifts (via Geekosystem). Why? Because it’s a reminder of how stupid everybody — white guys or otherwise — looks wearing this bizarre contraption.
Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks.
Image Credit: Sergey Galyonkin via Flickr