Microsoft Lays Off 1,850

Microsoft’s press release:

Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday announced plans to streamline the company’s smartphone hardware business, which will impact up to 1,850 jobs. As a result, the company will record an impairment and restructuring charge of approximately $950 million, of which approximately $200 million will relate to severance payments.

That’s a lot of weasel words to say they’re firing almost two thousand people. 

“We are focusing our phone efforts where we have differentiation — with enterprises that value security, manageability and our Continuum capability, and consumers who value the same,” said Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft. “We will continue to innovate across devices and on our cloud services across all mobile platforms.”

The weasel wording continues on to say that Microsoft won’t be developing features for actual people with Windows phone devices and will instead focus on what businesses want, which is a shame since Windows phones were better and more secure than Android in many ways.

Here Microsoft, I streamlined your press press release:

Our phone business hasn’t been successful with people because we focused on what businesses want. We will continue to focus on businesses by firing almost two thousand people who worked on or supported features that people might want. Regrettably, we will have to pay them money so that they don’t cause a scene.

When Mom and Dad Turn Out to Be Boris and Natasha

Boris and Natasha

Shaun Walker interviewed the two adult children of Russian spies who were living in the United States as Canadian citizens:

After a buffet lunch, the four returned home and opened a bottle of champagne to toast Tim reaching his third decade. The brothers were tired; they had thrown a small house party the night before to mark Alex’s return from Singapore, and Tim planned to go out later. After the champagne, he went upstairs to message his friends about the evening’s plans. There came a knock at the door, and Tim’s mother called up that his friends must have come early, as a surprise.

At the door, she was met by a different kind of surprise altogether: a team of armed, black-clad men holding a battering ram. They streamed into the house, screaming, “FBI!” Another team entered from the back; men dashed up the stairs, shouting at everyone to put their hands in the air. Upstairs, Tim had heard the knock and the shouting, and his first thought was that the police could be after him for underage drinking: nobody at the party the night before had been 21, and Boston police took alcohol regulations seriously.

When he emerged on to the landing, it became clear the FBI was here for something far more serious. The two brothers watched, stunned, as their parents were put in handcuffs and driven away in separate black cars. Tim and Alex were left behind with a number of agents, who said they needed to begin a 24-hour forensic search of the home; they had prepared a hotel room for the brothers. One of the men told them their parents had been arrested on suspicion of being “unlawful agents of a foreign government”.

Read the whole article. I can’t imagine how disconcerting it is to find out your parents really aren’t who you thought they were.

Build Your Own 1/10th of a Pinball Cabinet

Jeremy Williams at an awesome VR Pinball cabinet or the newest episode of Black Mirror got real weird.

Jeremy Williams has an awesome guide up on Tested for building the first eight inches of a pinball cabinet, suitable for playing pinball in VR, and this video below demonstrates an older version of it in action:

It’s a pretty great build, even has an accelerometer for tilting the table.

Disney Infinity’s End

Disney is getting out of the business of making games, again. Disney Infinity developer, Avalanche Software (not Avalanche Studios, the developer of Just Cause and other games) is shutting down as they release two final expansions to the toys to life game with Star Wars, Marvel, and other characters this June.

I just got a Disney Infinity 3.0 starter pack that once was priced at over for less than $30 in a sale via Cheap Ass Gamer, which didn’t bode well for the game when we also knew there was no 4.0 edition coming out this year. The version-numbered name was confusing to understand as a player, but the game reviewed very well and it didn’t make sense for them to throw in the towel until you saw the $147 million figure that it’ll cost Disney to get out of the business as they pay severance for hundreds of Avalanche employees and liquidate the remaining Disney Infinity games and toys.

Let’s hope the people at Avalanche who are losing their jobs find new work quickly.

Geforce GTX 1080 and 1070


Watching the Nvidia announcements today on their Twitch channel was mind-bogglingly boring. Here’s the important parts:

The Geforce GTX 1080 and 1070 were announced. The 1080 will cost $600 and be available in some special Founder’s Edition for $700 when it is released on the 27th. The GTX 1070 is about a million times more reasonably priced at $380 with another goofy Founder’s Edition at $450, but it comes out slightly later on June 10th.

Here’s the other important news for both of these cards: They’re both faster than the fastest cards released in the 9 series. Crazy. Specifications are up on Nvidia’s site.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Announcement Trailer

Speaking of which, here’s the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare announcement trailer. It features the worst cover of a David Bowie song I’ve ever heard. In the year he died, why not pay out the bucks and license the real thing instead? Awful.

At least it has something closer to gameplay footage, but the Modern Warfare remastered footage at the end looks more interesting than Infinite Warfare. But you’ll have to buy the special $80 version of Infinite Warfare (“Legacy Edition”) to get a crack at the remake of MW on November 4th for Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Windows.

I’m not expecting much at all from Infinity Ward after the mediocre Ghosts. Thank goodness it’s Raven working on the Modern Warfare remaster, even though it’ll only contain 10 of the multiplayer maps and the single-player campaign I’m definitely looking forward to playing that again.

Also note the VTOL jet flying clipping through the building as it comes in for a landing at 1:14. They must have noticed it late in production of this trailer and added the lens-flare to cover it up.

Battlefield 1’s Announcement Trailer

It’s difficult to write about today’s Battlefield 1 announcement. What DICE showed today was a completely computer-generated trailer. It does promise new biplanes, airships, sea ships, horses, multi-position bombers, flamethrowers, swords, and slap flights with shovels. But without any gameplay footage, it’s hard to say what we can actually expect from the finished product when it arrives this October 21st for Playstation 4, Windows, and Xbox One.

That said, I enjoyed watching this trailer more than the new Call of Duty trailer.

Crash Mode Indoors

Burnout was an amazing series, I recently went back and tried some of the older games on Playstation 2. They’re still so good and it’s surprising that Burnout: Paradise was missing one of the best modes, crash mode. That was where you would attempt to cause as much vehicular damage as possible by driving your car into a busy intersection. You could cause a chain reaction by slamming your sedan into a van that hits a bus and so on. Super fun, the sequels added crash breakers (small explosions to cause more destruction) and other additions to spice up the gameplay.

The creators of Burnout are back as Three Fields Entertainment, and while I wish they had the rights to make another Burnout (with crash mode) they’ve gone ahead and basically made the exact same crash mode except indoors and with golf balls destroying palatial estates, kitchens, gas stations and more. Crash breakers are now smash breakers, and you now tee off instead of getting your motor running.

All this destruction on June 3rd for Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Steam. Most likely just for Windows but I’ve asked the developers if there is any hope for Mac and SteamOS/Linux and will let you know if that changes.

Don’t Buy a Playstation 4

Austin Walker has the scoop on the recent rumors regarding a new half-step Playstation 4 upgrade console:

The NEO will feature a higher clock speed than the original PS4, an improved GPU, and higher bandwidth on the memory. The documents we’ve received note that the HDD in the NEO is the same as that in the original PlayStation 4, but it’s not clear if that means in terms of capacity or connection speed. Starting in October, every PS4 game is required to ship with both a “Base Mode” which will run on the currently available PS4 and a “NEO Mode” for use on the new console.

The article has many more details regarding the upgraded console and what Sony will require of developers, but it really doesn’t read like a huge upgrade to me, and it certainly won’t be true 4K. Even a high-end gaming computer can’t hit 4K at a good framerate for big 3D games.

For now, original PS4 purchasers are good, but I would be surprised if a year into the release of this new console the original “base” PS4 isn’t discontinued in favor of the NEO, and then soon after the requirement that developers target both consoles is dropped as well. Either way, don’t buy a Playstation 4 until you hear Sony give plans publicly at E3.