1. It's a brave new world. Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson is the second most influential person in the world, according to Time magazine voters. Persson earned 156,694 online votes for the 2013 Time 100 Poll, an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. He trailed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, who had 173,091 votes. Persson created minecraft several years ago and it has become a huge success. Although the graphics are nto that great gamers cannot get enough of the mining and building operation. The Xbox version should be coming very soon.
2. In a subscribers-only interview published Saturday in The Guardian, Google chairman Eric Schmidt called for increased regulation for non-military and non-law enforcement uses of drones. "How would you feel if your neighbor went over and bought a commercial observation drone that they can launch from their backyard," he said. "It just flies over your house all day. How would you feel about it?" According to the BBC, which summarized Schmidt's remarks, he also expressed concern about small drones' potential use as an inexpensive weapon by unsavory characters. "I'm not going to pass judgment on whether armies should exist, but I would prefer to not spread and democratize the ability to fight war to every single human being," he said. "It's got to be regulated... It's one thing for governments, who have some legitimacy in what they're doing, but have other people doing it... it's not going to happen." Commercial drones used to take video and pictures can now be purchased for as little as a few hundred dollars all the way up to millions of dollars based on the technology the client wants.
3. As Electronic Arts prepares to shut down several Facebook games, there's a message that gamers should take too heart: Don't get too attached to anything that's online-only. On June 14, EA will retire The Sims Social, SimCity Social, and Pet Society from its roster of Facebook games. A message on EA's Maxis blog is surprisingly frank: "After millions of people initially logged in to play these games, the number of players and amount of activity has fallen off. For people who have seen other recent shutdowns of social games, perhaps this is not surprising."
4. Remember SPOT? While it may have gone the way of the Zune, Microsoft appears to be readying another smartwatch as rivals eye the burgeoning market. Pebble, one of biggest crowd-funding successes on Kickstarter, helped catapult wearable IT back into the limelight last year. Now, Microsoft is reportedly eyeing a smartwatch of its own. The e-paper-based, Bluetooth-enabled Pebble smartwatch, which can link with iPhone and Android handsets, hauled in over $10 million by its May 18, 2012, deadline. Among its many uses, the customizable device can be used to display incoming messages and emails, control music, log distance and speed and, of course, tell time. Nearly 69,000 backers pledged at least $1 dollar-although the bulk contributed $125 or more-to Palo Alto, Calif.-based Pebble Technology, indicating that there is a ready, perhaps robust, market for the technology. Although its first stab at smartwatches never quite caught on with consumers, Microsoft is at least exploring the possibility of re-entering the market and capitalizing on the growing popularity of wearable tech, according to an April 15 report in The Wall Street Journal.
5. Adobe Lightroom $98.98 at ivmshop is the choice workflow application for a good number of professional and serious amateur photographers, and today these folks can get a look at the program's next version for free. The company announced that Lightroom 5 Beta is now available as a free download at labs.adobe.com. The new release lacks the kind of head-turning new major features like Lightroom 4's introduction of Maps, but it's a worthy improvement over its predecessor, adding useful tools like a more capable healing brush, new perspective corrections, Smart Previews for more efficient editing, and video slideshow creation.
6. General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) and Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) agreed to collaborate in developing advanced technology for 9-speed and 10-speed automatic transmissions for cars, crossovers, SUVs, and trucks. According to the General Motors Company (NYSE:GM), the automakers will design the new 9-speed and 10-speed transmissions for front and rear wheel drive variants to improve the performance of the vehicles and to increase fuel efficiency. General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) explained that working together with Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) to design, develop, engineer, test, validate and deliver the new generation advance automatic transmission for their vehicles allows each automaker to save costs and produce results faster. In a statement, GM's vice president of global transmission engineering, Jim Lanzon said, "Engineering teams from GM and Ford have already started initial design work on these new transmissions. We expect these new transmissions to raise the standard of technology, performance and quality for our customers while helping drive fuel economy improvements into both companies' future product portfolios."
7. In honor of the 57th anniversary of the first commercial video cassette recorder, YouTube today is offering "VHS mode" on several of its videos. On select videos, YouTube has added a small videotape icon on the bottom right menu, to the left of the closed caption option. Click that and your video will bring you back to the 80s, when adjusting the tracking on your VCR for a clear picture was a common (and infuriating) task. "Just click to turn back the clock and enjoy the static and fuzzy motion of the VHS era," YouTube said in a Google+ post.
8. Conspicuous consumption is a sign of booming times, and a Hong Kong businessman may have broken records for it after buying a custom-built "iPhone 5 Black Diamond" encrusted in gold and precious stones. The tab? An eye-popping $15.3m (£10m). "This beautiful handset took 9 weeks of detailed intricate work to re-create the original chassis of the iPhone 5 in solid gold all of which was started and finished by hand, including a flawless black single deep cut diamond weighing in at 26 cts, most unique to replace the home button also the chassis was inlaid with a circa of 600 white flawless diamonds with full gold dressing for the rear section with the logo in solid gold with 53 flawless diamonds," gushed the designer, Liverpudlian Stuart Hughes. The businessman in question won't pay the full whack for his handset since he provided the huge home-screen diamond that makes up the bulk of the handset's value. The phone will make a hole in his pocket in more ways than one however, since the gold used in the casing weighs more than the phone itself.
9. Spectrum, that hot carrier commodity, is top of mind for one major U.S. network, so much so that said company reportedly put a good chunk of money where its mouth is recently. The Wall Street Journal, citing people with knowledge of the matter, reported today that Verizon offered as much as $1.5 billion to gobble up spectrum leases from Clearwire. These deals are never cut and dry, but complicating the matter is the fact that Clearwire already agreed to sell itself to Sprint, owner of a 50.8 percent stake in the firm. Yet another wrinkle is part of the fold: Japanese telecom Softbank wants to buy a controlling share in Sprint for $20.1 billion. Dish, meanwhile, just put a $25.5 billion bid up for Sprint, though one that the third-place carrier called "unsolicited.
10. A group of Chinese iPhone distributors have been arrested for duping Apple with fake components in order to obtain replacement parts worth about 400,000 yuan (US$64,117). The five suspects were arrested this month after Apple reported to local police it had received the fake iPhone 4S components from a distributor in the Chinese city of Wenzhou also charged with repairing iPhones. The replacement parts were likely used by local retailers to assemble refurbished iPhones so that they could be sold as brand new to unsuspecting consumers, said police from Wenzhou's Lucheng district in an online statement. The scam, which started in December, involved the suspects using their credentials as official iPhone distributors to submit an order to Apple for 121 iPhone 4S BAND parts. These BAND parts make up the iPhone's core components, but exclude its battery and back cover. One BAND unit alone can cost over 3000 yuan ($480).
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