Currently available through Xbox 360, Xbox One and Windows Store, Microsoft has added Web to the places you can access their Xbox Video service. For those who have not used the service, it is similar in concept to iTunes Video, but with a significantly more customized content discovery system.
The new web version of Xbox Video looks very much like the Windows 8.1 version of Xbox Music, Microsoft's companion product in the entertainment space. Ironically, it looks very little like the Windows 8.1 version of Xbox Video, which is not necessarily a negative, as Xbox Music is designed significantly better than Xbox Video on the PC.
While the full content catalog is supported, along with personal collection availability, there are some issues. First and foremost,
Quality playback is not currently supported on the Web and Windows Phone. Your purchase will play in SD quality. Xbox Video on Windows 8.1 and Xbox One supports HD quality playback.
With Nokia recently launching a Full-HD Windows Phone, it is definitely a surprise that Microsoft would not enable HD streaming to the device. Users can hopefully take solace in the word currently, indicating that Microsoft is working to bring this feature in the near future.
We will only know in time, as Xbox Video is still not available on Windows Phone, and the web version is still incredibly new.
This is a nice change of pace - for once, I get to write about a Flash exploit that is not related to Adobe screwing something up. Instead, this Flash vulnerability doesn't even have anything to do with Adobe's product, but instead a version of SMS called Flash SMS.
For those who are unaware, Flash SMS, or Class 0 SMS, is a standard that allows for displaying a message directly on a device's screen without being stored in the device's permanent memory. The message is then dismissible or savable. What the original intent for this type of messaging might have been is unclear, but its current usage is far from.
As it turns out, on the Nexus series of devices, a fairly small collection of these messages, 30 or so, can cause the phone to act erratically. This behavior is probably caused by the way the OS handles displaying them: semi-transparent black background with the text in the middle. When many of these semi-transparent boxes stack up, the phone could get overwhelmed in calculating display depth.
So, what do these devices do when they panic? In general, they reboot without warning. If the phone has a SIM card lock, then these phones will sit idle, waiting for user input on a screen that they do not know is waiting for them. This, of course, prevents the phone from receiving phone calls, texts or emails while waiting for the input, making the device fairly useless.
If you are completely unlucky, though, you might experience a different issue. On some occasions, instead of rebooting, the phone will just disconnect from the network. Of course this has the same effect as the previous, not receiving phone calls, texts or emails, but with the added bonus of not requiring a SIM lock.
This exploit exists on all versions of Android 4.x residing on Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 devices. Hopefully Google will figure out how to fix this as it could pose a fairly big issue considering it only requires a few special texts to sink the device. Not what I would want advertised as part of the "pure Google experience."
When RIM changed its name to BlackBerry, you would have assumed that would be the time when the company would start from scratch with everything. But BlackBerry is a different type of company, one that operates in a quirky way and marches to the beat of its own drum. The transition began with the name, continued on months later with the new BlackBerry OS and has now come to the end of the turnover with the almost-entire replacement of the executive board. Oh, and throw in a failed buyout and BlackBerry's primary manufacturing facility cutting ties with the company.
In the announcement, BlackBerry said it is changing out many management and board positions. Seemingly starting over, COO Kristian Tear and CMO Frank Boulben have both left the company. James Yersh, who's served the company since 2008, will be replacing Brian Bidulka as Blackberry's CFO and Bidlulka will stay on board as a special advisor to the CEO for the rest of the fiscal year to help with the change. Other notables of the total shift in direction for the company is the resignation of board member Roger Martin, who has been with the company formerly known as RIM since 2007.
On these decisions, interim BlackBerry CEO John Chen said,
I thank Kristian and Frank for their efforts on behalf of BlackBerry. I look forward to working more directly with the talented teams of engineers, and the sales and marketing teams around the world to facilitate the BlackBerry turn-around and to drive innovation. I also thank Brian for his eight years of dedicated service to BlackBerry. I look forward to working with James and his Finance team as we move forward, execute on our plans and deliver long-term value for our shareholders.
This shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone following the story of BlackBerry, as many people predicted a reshuffling like that was in the cards for a while now. Chen also made it known a month ago that this was going to happen before the year was out and that we'd see "new faces" in executive positions. Chen also predicts a turnaround for the company by June 2015, so we'll have to see if these moves will either help or hurt him reach that goal.
The good news is that if he does manage to right the ship according to his plan, his role as interim CEO at BlackBerry just might move into a permanent one, complete with a desk placard, assistant and the removal of the position over at jobs.rim.com.
It is not unexpected, but it is disappointing: Microsoft's Xbox One consoles seem to be experiencing a disc drive issue. Following last week's PlayStation 4 launch hardware issues, a small number of Xbox One owners are claiming to be experiencing a loud grinding noise when inserting discs into their new consoles.
The noise, described by many as sounding like a chain saw, causes the console to be completely unresponsive to discs. Luckily, the expected way to play games on either of the next generation consoles is through digital distribution, rendering the disc drive issue mostly null.
Now, none of this is unexpected. Launch day consoles have been known for hardware issues for ages. The PS4 has the blue light of death, the original Wii had a series of hardware failures, plus we all know about the extended red ring issue on the Xbox 360. Microsoft has clarified their policy on this console,
Customers have the option for us to send a replacement console right away without waiting until they have returned their old one. This means a customer only has to wait a matter of days, rather than weeks to get back up and running.
At least this is better than the 360 launch, where buyers experiencing the issue were required to send the original console back before receiving a new one. Also, this time around, there are more consoles being produced, allowing many people to return their defective units to the retailer.
Have you experienced problems with either console? Let us know in the comments.
Twitter is a great place to gather information. Throughout my week, I read about the top tech news and receive tips on what we should cover on the site. One of the problems with Twitter, however, is how easy it makes it for the big guys to steal content from the little guys.
For example, freelance photojournalist Daniel Morel took photos of the results of the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Some of those photos he shared with the world through Twitter, probably expecting to affect people's feelings about the tragedy. What he didn't expect to have happen was for some of the big guys to see his photos and take them, add them to their collections and provide them to media outlets for distribution.
Unfortunately for Morel, his wishes would not be, as that is precisely what happened. Agence France-Presse retweeted his photos and then handed them to Getty Images, who is responsible for those photos making their way to ABC, CBS, CNN, The Washington Post and other media outlets. These media outlets quickly settled with Morel over the obvious infringement, but not the original offenders.
Those two went through a three year legal battle, ultimately resulting in a $1.2 million settlement against the willful infringers: AFP and Getty. Does this seem like a fair judgment against a company distributing photos from Twitter? Sound off in the comments.
We all know the scourge of premium text messaging companies; services that send you an unsolicited message and charge you for that privilege. Since the creation of the short messaging services, almost everyone has had the opportunity to fight with their service provider over the charges incurred because of these services.
Fortunately for customers, 3 of the 4 major US carriers have recognized the cost of these calls to their bottom line and are doing something about it. AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have decided to stop charging their customers for these insidious text messages.
Well, maybe it isn't as easy as all of that. In fact, these three carriers are responding directly to requests from 45 of the 50 states to end this business model. The official announcement even came from Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, not from any of the carriers themselves.
There is one obvious, glaring omission: Verizon Wireless. VZW is also in the process of closing up their PSMS business, though it was not part of this announcement. Verizon says that it had previously decided to close down this business itself, but not because of state or customer complaints. Instead, they say they are exiting because of a change in the way customers retrieve information.
So, are you one of the many people who has been afflicted by this wireless disease? Are you excited to hear about the end of this business? Let us know in the comments.