Tech round-up for Sept. 17

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Categories Consumer technology | Video games

  • So many people have pre-ordered Apple’s new iPhones (the iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch display and the iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch display) that stock is in short supply. The company says four million were ordered in the first 24 hours they were available online. Anyone placing a preorder now will be waiting for a month or more. Apple says that each of its retail stores will have stock of the two new smartphones to sell on Friday when they are released. Imagine what the lineups will be like.
  • In addition to the announcement last week of the Apple Watch and the two new iPhones, Apple and U2 surprised everyone who has an iTunes account with a free copy of “Songs of Innocence,” the new studio album from the Irish band. Well, in the event you don’t like U2 or their music, you can remove it from your iTunes library and purchase history.
  • Microsoft has purchased Mojang for US$2.5 billion. Sweden’s Mojang is the studio responsible for Minecraft, arguably the most popular video game in the world right now. Minecraft is, essentially, virtual Lego, giving players the building blocks to construct their own virtual worlds. Mojang’s founder and the creator of Minecraft is Markus Persson, who’s social media handle is “Notch”. He calls himself a “nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter” and in a post on his personal blog he writes that he’s selling his company because it got too big, and he doesn’t want to be a CEO. “I can’t be responsible for something this big,” adding that “it’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.” Phil Spencer, who is the head of Xbox for Microsoft, says that Minecraft will continue to exist on other platforms, even those not controlled by Microsoft. Not sure why this is such a big deal? Recall that Disney spent US$4 billion to get all of Lucasfilm, including Star Wars and Indiana Jones.
  • Among the best video games made in Vancouver last year are Dead Rising 3, Rocketsrocketsrockets, and the Lego games made by Hellbent; special mention for Black Tusk Studios, which hasn’t released a game yet but is developing the new Gears of War title for Microsoft.
  • Researchers at MIT have demonstrated a “robotic cheetah” that can run on its own. In the recent test, it even jumped over an obstacle and kept running afterwards. One of the things that makes robots unstable is having to been in contact with the ground. Having them be in the air more is one solution. Usain Bolt, it seems, is as fast as he is not because he moves his feet fast, but because he has so much power in each stride that he spends more time flying through the air.


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