Microsoft buys the maker of Minecraft
It’s true. Microsoft is buying Mojang for $2.5 BILLION…and then a good chunk of the Minecraft community immediately panicked. Likely knowing this would happen Mojang, posted on their blog, “everything is going to be OK.” Basically, Notch, the creator of Minecraft and the majority shareholder in the company, didn’t want the responsibility of being any owner of such a large enterprise. Mojang felt that Microsoft was the best buyer to help grow Minecraft, having worked closely with them for a few years. Speaking of Mojang, Notch is leaving the company he founded (as are cofounders Carl and Jakob). Notch wants to step away from Minecraft development and try some new things saying, “It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.”
$110 earthquake early warning system
California has an earthquake warning system called Shake Alert…but it’s not really accessible by the public due to lack of funding (although some say it’s a political issue, not a financial one). An astrophysicist named Josh Bloom home-cooked a solution (so small it fits in a to-go container) using a Raspberry Pi, a speaker, a WiFi adapter, and an SD card (you can see more photos on his blog). With is device he was able to tap into Shake Alert and get a 5-second warning on the Napa earthquake that hit last month. While only seconds might not sound like much, it’s enough to turn off a gas stove and take cover. By creating his system, he hopes to encourage mass production of a device that could be as ubiquitous (and inexpensive) as fire alarms or carbon monoxide detectors. Certainly a laudable goal!
Galaxy Note 4 launching October 17
Pre-orders for Samsung’s newest phone began on September 19 (yes, the same day you could get your hands on an iPhone 6…maybe). It’s selling for about $299.99 on contract (at least with AT&T, but other carriers I would expect to be about the same). The phablet-sized phone is pretty big, with a 5.7-inch screen, a 2560 x 1440 quad HD display, S Pen and more. If you’re not into Apple’s 6 Plus and prefer Android, it sure looks like the Note 4 would be a great option for a larger phone.
Misfit Flash is a new, cheaper fitness wearable
On many a tech site this week there was a discussion of the new Misfit Flash. The company also makes the Shine, a sexy-looking device, but many balked at the $100 price tag for a screen-less tracker—especially since it didn’t seem to offer much more than some waterproofing the market leaders’ product didn’t have (and it only worked with iOS at the time of launch 9 months ago). Enter, the Misfit Flash. It’s half the price at $49 and is available in “seven almost retina-melting colors” (ha!). It still doesn’t have a screen, but it can take some water and it runs on a watch cell battery that’ll give you six months of not having to worry about charging/replacing anything. One website called it, “the first true fitness tracker under $50.” The cheaper price tag and elegant design does make it an interesting addition to the wearables category.
Microsoft announces Windows event for September 30
My regular readers know I tend to get Apple devices, but don’t let it be said I’m completely biased in my coverage of big events :-). Microsoft, as prognosticated by tech websites, is holding a Windows event on Tuesday, September 30th in San Francisco (at 12 p.m CST). They are expected to announce a preview of what people are calling Windows 9 (but that’s not necessarily the official name). There have been a variety of leaks about the newest Microsoft OS, but the expectation is that this event will be more of a business customer event, rather than one focused on the home PC experience. As business sales, according to the Wall Street Journal, accounts for about two-thirds of Microsoft’s profits—and they alienated many of those users with the very touchy-feely Windows 8 which doesn’t work well in a typical office setting—it’ll be interesting to see what features they talk about.
Apple releases iOS 8
Many of you have probably upgraded (I haven’t bothered yet though, admittedly), but if you haven’t and want to know about all the new features, Ars Technica has what appears to be the most thorough review I’ve ever seen (like, bullet points for every new feature). They also tried installing the new iOS on an iPhone 4S, as it’s probably the last major update that phone is going to get, and offered their take (in brief? It’s sllloooowwww and missing many features). One more thing, if you’re looking for a different iOS keyboard to use, Engadget has you covered with their review of eight different popular keyboards.
New Kindle Voyage leaks…on Amazon
The German version of Amazon had some listings this week for a new Kindle called the “Voyage.” The pages show a 6-inch high-resolution display with, “intelligent front lighting” and pages are turned by pressing on the bezel. Amazon Japan had some pages that showed both a 3G and WiFi version of the Voyager and specs stating it is 8mm thick and weighs 186g. If it’s true, that’ll mean the Voyager is thinner and lighter than the Paperwhite, last year’s e-reader to beat.