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Facebook Oculus Rift, HTC One M8, MS-DOS Source Code, IRS Bitcoin [Tech News Digest]

Dave Parrack 26-03-2014

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 Oculus Rift Development Kit Review and Giveaway The Oculus Rift has finally arrived, and is making heads turn (literally) all over the gaming community. No longer are we confined to to peering through a flat window into the gaming worlds we love... Read More . 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 Alternative ROMs For The HTC One: What Are Your Options? Want to try out some other ROMs? Here are four awesome ROMs for the HTC One you just have to try. Read More . 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

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 Need A Break? Watch These 5 Epic Rap Battles of History [Best of YouTube] What do you get when you take two famous figures from history and pit them against each other in a rap battle to the death? You get Epic Rap Battles of History, an incredibly entertaining... Read More .

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 With the Release of the Google Chromecast SDK, Expect Big Things Google has released the Google Cast Software Development Kit (SDK) for developers, meaning that there could be a whole new world of entertainment waiting for Chromecast users on their television sets. Read More . Photowall for Chromecast Google Launches Photowall For Chromecast To Share Images On TV A bunch of Googlers have developed a new Chromecast app called Photowall which lets many phones transfer images at the same time to a Chromecast-equipped TV, for collaborative photo viewing. Read More 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

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

Related topics: Bitcoin, Chromecast, Facebook, Microsoft, MS-DOS, YouTube.

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  1. Don Gateley
    March 26, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    I got a Rift DK1 early on and have been following them closely ever since. I find this purchase extremely encouraging. I very much like the vision that Zuckerberg gave voice to. I've felt all along that the Oculus people were focused way too much on games which I see as the bare tip of the tip of the iceberg of VR universe. The good thing about their narrow focus is that essentially anything that enhances the enormously complex game experience (which I eschew personally) can have nothing but positive effects on the much simpler general entertainment market.

    I really hope this means that Zuckerberg will focus Facebook teams on more generally appealing applications of the tech. Branching out into enhanced general entertainment could be the future of Facebook.

    • Tom W
      March 26, 2014 at 8:00 pm

      I'm not alone! I'm also a DK1 backer, and I feel like no-one else is going to see this as a positive thing. Facebook haven't yet destroyed Instagram or Whatsapp, so I'm happy that they will allow the Rift to develop naturally. If Facebook didn't buy it, the venture capitalists would just buy it out in tiny pieces of stock.

    • Tom W
      March 26, 2014 at 8:10 pm

      The HTC One advert seemed pretty standard fair to me. Using reverse psychology to suggest that "independent" people buy the One, and so if you don't buy it you're just another one of the sheeple.

  2. Abdo R.
    March 26, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    The only part that caught my eye was the releasing of MS-DOS source code, I knew this day would come... This OS is almost 3 decades old & since the end of its days it remained under M$' butt doing nothing till now, it may have just been given a new life.

    To be honest I doubt it being of much use today except maybe for the folks working on FreeDOS but this could be the first step towards M$ publicly releasing the source of other deprecated OSs of theirs, maybe soon enough we'll see Windows 95, Millenium could follow right after (I'm sure M$ would be happy giving that one away!), and in the far far future XP could get the same fate too.

    Personally, I'd love XP to get some open-source treatment; imagine users from around the world improving its kernel & adding amazing features to it, it could possibly become a viable OS to use even in the era where it's not supported by M$ (which is actually pretty soon).

    I know I'm only dreaming, but this piece of news has given me some hope that my dreams could one day come true, I can only hope.

  3. Matthew H
    March 26, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    That HTC One M8 advert! Can someone please give Gary Oldman a vigorous shake and ask him what on earth he thinks he's doing!

    • Dave P
      March 26, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      He's getting paid! I've never understood why actors with millions in the bank do adverts, but there you go.