March 28: Friday tech news roundup

Oculus Rift_Business Insider_by William WeiFacebook buys virtual reality company Oculus for $2 billion
You probably heard about this already, but Facebook announced Tuesday that it’s acquiring Oculus VR (and for a sum that makes you go [gulp!]). They’re a Kickstarter-funded company with an industry-leading gaming headset called the Oculus Rift What might not have heard is some of the fallout over this purchase.

The creator of Minecraft was in talks with Oculus to bring his game to virtual reality but he immediately put an end to the discussions after the buyout hit the press. He said on Twitter that, “Facebook creeps me out.” Basically, hard-core gamers are disappointed to see Oculus VR “sellout” to a social company and fear that the Rift’s gaming potential will now never be realized. On the other hand, some believe the sale could be a good thing. Headsets might now be sold at cost, the technology will likely be more widely adopted by developers, and it has a great potential for social media.

Twitter lets you include four photos in a Tweet
As Twitter says, they’re rolling out new mobile features to make Twitter more social. They’re now letting you tag up to ten people in a photo (and still have your 140 characters left) and you can include up to four photos in a Tweet. You’ll get a notification if you’re tagged, but you can also adjust those settings here.

Two popular Google Play apps mine cryptocurrency without telling end users
ARS Technica reported on Wednesday that the Songs and Prized apps, use the Android device they’re loaded on to mine cryptocurrency. Eeek. Both apps were quite popular, with Songs being installed between one and five million times, and Prized between 10,000-50,000 times. Mining apps take up a lot of processing power and electricity, “and can generate extremely hot temperatures” as processors strain to mint new digital coins (plus eat up bandwidth). Both apps have since been pulled from Google Play, but you might want to think about whether you want to keep these on your device.

The IRS says digital currency isn’t taxed like currency
If you’ve got some Bitcoin you’ve been saving up from any mining efforts, you might want to take note: according the IRS, it’s not currency. Instead, they’re saying that cryptocurrency are taxable property. This means you’ll have to report and capital gains and losses for your transactions. If you don’t use it much, it probably won’t be a huge deal, but if you use it a lot? Well, that’s not going to be fun.

Hue LuxLight bulbs that let you be lazy
Philips is introducing Hue Lux to its line of smart bulbs. The Lux is an LED like the other Hue bulbs, but doesn’t come with the colors—it’s “just” white. But, you can control Lux using their app, just like with the others in the Hue line…or you can wait and get their new controller coming soon. What makes the controller so neat is that it doesn’t require a power source because it’s powered by the kinetic energy of taping on the buttons. As with the colored Hues, you’ll still need the bridge controller that links to your wi-fi. Looks neat, if you can afford the price of entry!

Ray-Ban Google Glass?
Google will be pairing with Luxottica, the maker of Ray-Ban and Oakley, to create more fashionable Google Glass offerings. No word yet on when they’ll be available and how much they’ll cost.

And in fun tech news…

• Did you see the new Simpson’s Lego mini figures? (I’ve decided that “geek news” qualifies as “tech news”): check them out.

• And if you’ve got a minute today and you’ve gotta check out this video. A gentleman named Jelani Eddington has done an amazing rendition of the Star Wars main title music….on a pipe organ. Yeah, a pipe organ! Seriously, it’s pretty darn cool and worth watching at least some of it whether you’re a Star Wars fan or not.

About Missy Kellor

Missy works on the Corporate Communications team and reports stories to TDS employees and customers. This is right up her alley because she’s an extrovert and also a big fan of research (really, she’ll look up just about anything that strikes her interest). Missy is a native of Madison, Wis. with an undergraduate in Anthropology and a master’s degree in Life Sciences Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her interest in the Internet as a mass media shaped her work towards a PhD in Journalism and Mass Communications. She’s also worked as an editorial assistant, copywriter, and production artist. In her off hours, Missy is a crafter, Pinterest addict, reader, wife, and mom of two kids. You can find Missy on G+ and on Twitter.
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