CVG is reporting that Microsoft is working on "consolidating all their communications technology" around Skype, which they acquired in 2011 for $8.5 billion. Citing a source within the company, they say Skype will "become the default chat service on the next generation Xbox console as well as on PC and tablets." This would fit in with Microsoft's recent announcement that it is closing Messenger in March and replacing it with Skype. The article also cites a Microsoft job posting from last August which sought a UI designer for "Skype in the living room," with a focus on the next-gen Xbox system.
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hcs_$reboot writes "The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has already occupied some of Slashdot news space recently: FAA to investigate the 787 (Jan 11) or 787 catches fire in Boston (Jan 08). Today (Jan 16 JST) another incident happened that led to Japan grounding its entire 787 fleet until an internal investigation gives more information about the problem. A 787 from ANA had a battery problem and smoke was detected in the electronics. The plane had to make an emergency landing and passengers were evacuated. "
tsamsoniw writes "More new tech jobs have emerged since the end of the past recession than during the same recovery timelines following the dot-com bubble burst and the early-1990s recession. What's more, the unemployment rate among technology professionals is now half that of the national average — with especially low unemployment rates for database administrators and network architects. What's not clear, though, is how many unemployed techies aren't being counted because they've abandoned job searches."
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from a look at the engine behind SpaceX's Falcon rocket, the Merlin: "The rockstar of SpaceX may be Elon Musk, but the lead man behind the fire power is Tom Mueller. He is the Vice President of Propulsion Development and founding employee at SpaceX. Musk sought Mueller out in 2001 when Musk decided to build his own rockets instead of buying some from the Russians. Musk caught wind of a rocket engine Mueller built in his garage and 'apparently had a religious experience' once he saw it. If you didn't know, Elon Musk used $100 million of his Paypal money to start SpaceX. That money was used to build the Merlin engine Mueller had designed. The Merlin engine is the first new American booster engine in ten years and only the second in the last 25 years."
tsamsoniw writes "Microsoft has filed a patent for a mobile technology called Inconspicuous Mode, aimed at helping you not be 'that guy' who disrupts movies, meals, or meetings with noisy, bright-screened phone alerts. It's a setting that would effectively put your phone in stealth mode when the device sensed it was in a movie theater (thanks to location information) and that the lights had gone down. The idea is, you could still receive alerts if a call or text came in, but no one around you would be disturbed by phone sounds or screen flashes."
Google's super fast internet has turned Kansas City into an unlikely incubator for startups and tech entrepreneurs. One small neighborhood where a group is working on their ideas has been dubbed, the "Silicon Prairie." From the article: "The advantage here for startups is simple: A fast Internet pipe makes it easier to handle large files and eliminates buffering problems that plague online video, live conferencing or other network-intensive tasks. Though the Kansas City location presents challenges for startups, including the ability to raise money outside the traditional Silicon Valley venture capital scene, entrepreneurs like Synthia Payne believe it's the place to be right now for up-and-coming tech companies. Payne is one of those entrepreneurs hoping to launch her startup dream — an Internet subscription service for musicians who want to collaborate online — on the cheap. She shares the State Line Road house, known as the 'Home for Hackers,' with other startups under a deal that allows them to live rent-free while they develop their business plans."
DeviceGuru writes "A handful of innovative high-tech startups have recently emerged to create a new market: remote telepresence robots. With one of these robotic Avatars, you can wander around in the remote environment, chatting with coworkers and managers, attending meetings, and solving problems encountered through those interactions. InformationWeek's Telepresence Robot Smackdown compares five such bots — the MantaroBot TeleMe, VGo Communications VGo, Anybots QB, Suitable Technologies Beam, and Revolve Robotics Kubi — and includes short videos demonstrating each. As the article concludes, 'bear in mind that what we're witnessing here is the emergence of a new industry; and if Moore's Law applies here as it does to so many IT spheres, it won't be long before these gadgets are inexpensive, commonplace, and far more flexible and intelligent."
An anonymous reader writes "Amazon just debuted a new service called Autorip, which grants you MP3 copies of music when you purchase the CD version. This is a technology people have been trying to introduce since 1999, but only recently have the record labels — and the courts — seen fit to allow it. 'Robertson's first company, MP3.com was one of the hottest startups in Silicon Valley when it launched what we would now call a cloud music service, My.MP3.com, in 1999. The service included a feature called "Beam-It" that allowed users to instantly stock their online lockers with music from their personal CD collections. ... Licensed services like iTunes were still years in the future, largely because labels were skittish about selling music online. But Robertson believed he didn't need a license because the service was permitted by copyright's fair use doctrine. If a user can rip his legally purchased CD to his computer, why can't he also store a copy of it online? ... the labels simply weren't interested in Robertson's vision of convenient and flexible music lockers. So MP3.com was driven into bankruptcy, and the "buy a CD, get an MP3" concept fell by the wayside.'"
DeviceGuru writes "Although IE remains the one of the top browsers on desktops, it's being trounced on tablets and smartphones by browsers based on WebKit, including Safari, the Android Browser, and Google Chrome. Faced with this uphill battle on handheld mobile devices, Microsoft MVP Bill Reiss has suggested that it might be time for Microsoft to throw in the towel on Trident and switch to WebKit (though Reiss later decided he was wrong). But although there are lots of points in favor of doing so, there are also some good reasons not to, including security and a need for healthy competition to avoid having mobile developers begin to target WebKit rather than standards."
maijc writes "Computer activist Aaron Swartz committed suicide yesterday in New York City. He was 26 years old. Swartz was 'indicted in July 2011 by a federal grand jury for allegedly mass downloading documents from the JSTOR online journal archive with the intent to distribute them.' He is best known for co-authoring the widely-used RSS 1.0 specification when he was 14, and as one of the early co-owners of Reddit."
Coldeagle writes "It looks as if CNET's parent company, CBS, has laid down the law: 'Just one day after CNet named the Dish "Hopper," a new TV recording system that's drawing rave reviews in the tech press, to an awards shortlist, the site's parent company stepped in and nixed the accolade. Because of a legal battle between CBS and Dish over the Hopper's ad-skipping technology, CBS laid down a ban: CNet won't be allowed to even review Dish products, much less give them awards.' Got to love modern day freedom of the press!"
snydeq writes "Tech giants Apple, Google, and Microsoft were no-shows at CES this week in Las Vegas, which worked out just fine for Chinese vendors looking to establish a name for themselves with U.S. consumers. 'Telecom suppliers Huawei and ZTE, in particular, have set their sights on breaking into the U.S. market for smartphones and tablets. ... Whether these Chinese imports can take on the likes of Apple and Samsung remains to be seen, but as Wired quotes Jeff Lotman, the CEO of Global Icons, an agency that helps companies build and license their brands: "The thing that's amazing is these are huge companies, and they have a lot of power, but in the United States nobody has heard of them and they're having trouble gaining traction, but it's not impossible. Samsung was once known for making crappy, low-end phones and cheap TVs. Now they're seen as a top TV and smartphone brand."'"
An anonymous reader writes "Is your work space drab? Do you want art to reflect your geekiness? Then you might like an art movement that has been gaining popularity over the past few decades. This is movement is 'Geek Art' where artists take inspiration from all things tech and geek. The art works range from 'Hello, world!' in 23 programming languages to collages of Old Atari games to more contemporary pieces like modern apps as Famicon software. It's sites like Redbubble and Society 6 which have enabled the independent artist to get their work out there while sites such as 20x200 take a more curated approach. 8bit retro is the new Mona Lisa!"
Dupple sends word from the BBC that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration will be conducting a safety review of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner after a number of incidents have called the aircraft's hardiness into question. "An electrical fire, a brake problem, a fuel spill and cracks in the cockpit's windshield have affected Dreamliner flights in the past week. ... The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is one of the most advanced aeroplanes ever created. Much of it is made from very strong, light carbon-fibre composite material. However, a spate of technical issues has hurt its image. On Friday, two new problems were found, adding to Boeing's woes." A spokesman for Boeing said they were "absolutely confident in the reliability and performance of the 787," and were cooperating fully with the FAA's investigation. The 787 went into service in 2011, and 50 have been delivered to various airlines since then, with hundreds more on order. Qatar Airways has received five of them, and it has criticized Boeing for manufacturing faults.