Thunderclap: Phonebloks Seeks To Revolutionize Mobile Phone Upgrades (Kotaku.com)

While the idea in its current implementation may not be feasible (according to nearly every engineer who replied), it certainly doesn’t mean it’s impossible – forever. That’s what innovation’s all about.

I’d definitely buy a device like this as it’s how I’ve generally managed my PC upgrades for the past decade: buy a great case and fill it with awesome parts that’ll last me a couple years, then rip out parts and replace with better fillings as needed. I think this product would be immensely popular as customers could have mix and match to fit their exact customization needs (bigger camera, bigger storage, bigger battery, etc.). And, honestly, outside of case color, customization in mobile handsets isn’t really an option. Heck, with the iPhone, you get what you get and that’s it outside of choosing how much RAM you want.

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Forget The iPhone, Let’s Support This Thing

At some point, smartphone ownership can start to feel like a runaround. You buy the phone with the new! best! features! and a year later,Apple (or whoever) reveals a newer phone with the newer! bester! features! and your phone becomes obsolete. Enter Phonebloks, a brilliant modular concept phone.

The concept, from designer Dave Hakkens, is of a totally modular phone with separate “parts” that can be swapped out, removed, or upgraded, depending on the needs of the user. When they make a faster chip or a better screen, you could simply buy a new chip or screen without replacing the entire phone. If you just want a lot of disk space or battery juice and don’t care about your camera, you could sacrifice the one for the other. Smart!

And sure, it may be unrealistic. It doesn’t seem to be designed with profitability in mind, which would make it a tough sell for cell phone manufacturers. And I have no idea if it would even be possible to engineer something like this. (Though if they can put a freakin’ fingerprint scanner on an iPhone, surely someone could make something like this work?)

But whatever, this idea is too appealing to ignore completely. Why not explore it? See what happens? You don’t have to give them money to support the idea; all they ask is that people go to Thunderclap and lend them some social media push. And what’s the harm, really? Phonebloks may never amount to anything, but you never know.

Final Fantasy XIV: All Sales Stopped (Kotaku.com)

As one of the (un)fortunate players who was in during Beta Test 4 (a.k.a. “open beta”) and attempting to play during Early Access, I can attest to the overwhelming server and maintenance issues suffered by this game. However, I’ve never seen a game simply stop allowing sales before though. I hope this doesn’t come back to haunt them.

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Final Fantasy XIV Is So Popular, Square Enix is Halting Sales

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn‘s launch is experiencing crowded servers. So what is Square Enix’s temporary workaround? Stop digital download sales.

In an official notice on Square Enix’s Facebook page, the company writes:P

Due to the overwhelmingly positive response to FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn, we are currently experiencing extremely long wait times for users to be able to log in and play. As a temporary measure, we will halt sales of FINAL FANTASY XIV: A REALM REBORN’s digital download products so we can accommodate all of those wishing to play. We are working to expand our server capacity in the coming days.

Launch headaches are fairly common for big MMOs. On Square Enix’s Facebook page, of course there are FFXIV players upset about the congestion, the inability to play, and Square Enix’s shortage of servers.

Some, however, are looking at this in a positive light: MMOs that start off like this must be good! Ha, that’s not always true and don’t take this heavy congestion as a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Just be prepared for a variety of issues as the game launches.

Microsoft Backpeddles On Kinect Requirement for Xbox 360 (Kotaku.com)

Is it just me, or has Microsoft back-peddled on just about everything that made it unique from the PS4 launch? DRM was in, then out. Mandatory logging-in and gaming online at least once every 24 hours. That’s now gone. The Kinect is always on, always listening. But…you can turn it off because you thought that was creepy. And now? The Kinect is mandatory for every Xbox One to work. Except for now you can turn it off completely and it doesn’t impact any Xbox One functions. Le. Sigh.

Did Microsoft really get all of this so wrong at the start or did the “backlash” on the interwebs really scare them into changing their ways?

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Kinect No Longer Mandatory For Xbox One (But Will Still Come With It)

Another backflip? Back in May, Microsoft said that you’ll need have the motion-sensing Kinect plugged in at all times in order for your Xbox One to function, but now they’re reversing course once again.

“That said, like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn’t plugged in, although you won’t be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor,” he said.

Asked just how “off” the Kinect can be, Whitten answered totally off.

“You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings. When in this mode, the sensor is not collecting any information. Any functionality that relies on voice, video, gesture or more won’t work. We still support using it for IR blasting in this mode. You can turn the sensor back on at any time through settings, and if you enter into a required Kinect experience (like Kinect Sports Rivals for instance), you’ll get a message asking if you want to turn the sensor back on in order to continue.”

This is yet another entry to add to the list of stunning reversals in Xbox One policy made by Microsoft over the past few months. In June, Microsoft switched course on Xbox DRM, and they’ve flipped on all sorts of other policies since then.

UPDATE: And here’s Microsoft senior exec Albert Penello, posting on NeoGAF about the flip. (Bolded emphasis mine)

We still believe in Kinect. We aren’t interested in splitting the development base. The more demos I’ve seen, the more I’ve used it – the more impressed I am. The team feels strongly about Kinect, and I hope we’re able to prove that when you use it.

We also have a ton of privacy settings to allow people to turn off the camera, or microphones, or put it in a state just for “Xbox On” and IR blasting – there will be a lot of user control for that.

The thing we all understood, and hence this change, is that there are some scenarios where people just may not be comfortable. We wanted people to be 100% comfortable, so we allow the sensor to be unplugged. And clearly the “it dropped” scenario is possible.

The most obvious thing is watching a DVD/BD, or streaming a movie, or HDMI pass-through, your experience isn’t impacted (except you miss voice and IR blasting)

There is no “gotcha”, but obviously, if there is a game that REQUIRES Kinect (like Rivals), or something where Kinect IS the experience (like Skype), those won’t work.

That said, for people who have privacy concerns there are user control settings, which we believe are great.

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