This Week in the Universe rounds up some of the best and most interesting stories from around the web you may have missed this week.
Companies are always trying to make their computers more “user friendly” trying to make it so no knowledge is needed to use them, they do this because it makes them easy to sell and, recently at least, makes it easier to sell “apps” for them. I think this closed source nonsense has gone to far, why should we buy hardware and use it only as intended? Well it looks like I am not the only one who thinks this way. Joel Runyon writes about a chance meeting he had in a coffee shop with the creator of America’s first internally programmable computer.
“About 30 minutes into my working, an elderly gentleman at least 80 years old sat down next to me with a hot coffee and a pastry. I smiled at him and nodded and looked back at my computer as I continued to work.”
It’s not all doom and gloom though, while the large hardware companies are closing up, adding “app stores” and general making it difficult to do anything but “consume” on the overpriced device they have sold you be that a phone, tablet, console or even PC, there are others who are determined to move to open platforms. Valve have previously announced that they are planning to bring Steam to Linux (with the lofty goal of bringing all the games with it eventually, good luck with those GfWL games) but they are not the only ones. The Ouya Kickstarter project received the necessary funding and intends to produce and sell an open console that anyone can code for based on the Android operating system and the Tegra 3 chipset.
“A plea for funds to help build a cheap games console has ended with nine times more cash donated than had been sought. Ouya asked backers to pledge $950,000 (£606,000) via the Kickstarter website to turn designs for the console into a finished product.”
And while on the subject The Guardian’s Tech Weekly was all about this kind of thing.
A look to a darker story now, Steve Hogarty goes all Louis Theroux for PCGamesN to uncover the murky truth behind dating website “Shag a Gamer”.
“I signed up to Shag a Gamer just over two weeks ago, exactly how Louis Theroux might, and in the space of a fortnight I’ve received no fewer than 330 private messages, all of them from girls with names like ‘Sweety’, ‘Babs’, ‘Lola’ and ‘Coco’ – names I’ve never heard of a real woman having before, despite knowing loads of my mum’s friends.”
It seems hardly a week goes by between someone new accusing video games of causing violent crime. I personally can’t wait for the invention of the next new media so people can blame that (like TV, comics and rock and roll before) and leave games alone…
“Barely a month has passed since Australia introduced an 18+ rating certificate for games which will allow titles such as the hotly-contested Mortal Kombat to be sold on Aussie soil. Now the country has reached another modern videogame milestone: blaming violent games for an increase in aggressive behaviour.”
Also this week we have a New York book store attempting to save out of print novels by converting them to eBooks, lets face it just because it is no longer profitable to print them on paper does not mean that no one wants to read them and it certainly does not mean that they should not be saved for future generations.
“A New York bookshop has launched a campaign to rescue old SF novels. The campaign by Singularity&Co, a new specialist SF bookshop in Brooklyn, comes at the perfect time. Secondhand bookshops – where most fans acquire and develop their habit – are under serious threat, and with them the back catalogue of weird and speculative fiction that they have preserved for so long.”
Next up, Steve Wozniak with his thoughts on cloud computing as it currently exists.
“I’ve had too many personal experiences get messed up just because companies change things on the cloud. I’ve come to a depressed state of feeling that I own nothing on the cloud and have no ability to keep things working the way they do. Features change and get dropped, things you depend on disappear, etc. And no company will ever take responsibility. It’s rare to ever get told what really happened. “
Video this week is an excellent example of the creativity that comes out of the Mincraft community. this 8 Track music synthesiser by Disco is really quite something…