Remember when Steve Ballmer said that Microsoft would officially support Kinect on PC “in the right time”? Well, apparently he probably could've waited another couple seconds to add “right about... now.”
According to WinRumors, Microsoft's currently connecting the dots on an SDK and official drivers for Kinect on PC. Barring any unforeseen stumbling blocks, both pieces of the puzzle will be available for normal folk who haven't hacked their Kinect to pieces “in the coming months.”
More specifically, the drivers will be distributed as part of a beta program, and general Kinect support may soon appear in a Community Technical Preview of Microsoft's XNA development tools.
In other words, the wait's nearly at an end. Soon, you'll have a tiny, slowly evolving robo-eye watching your every action in your office as well as your living room. And before you know it, there'll only be one thing those seemingly harmless little cameras voluntarily recognize: a blood-spattered white flag.
Generally speaking, the Internet is a gaping black hole that sucks in intelligence, civility, and the like, and sloppily spits out raw, unfiltered stupidity. This, of course, provides the saner among us with ample opportunities to feel good about ourselves. And then something like this happens.
For the past few weeks, a title by the name of Bubble Ball has been steadily ascending the free App charts, knocking off perpetual crown-holders like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja along the way. The game's a deceptively simple physics puzzler (which is hardly shocking if you know your App Store history), but here's the kicker: it was created almost entirely by a 14 year-old boy.
"I was pretty astonished," Robert Nay, currently in eighth grade, told ABC. "When I released it, I didn't think it would do so well."
Even though he occasionally served as his own personal naysayer, Nay cracked open Ansca Mobile's Corona SDK and – over the course of more than a month – wrote 4000 lines of code. His mother lent a helping hand with a few level designs, but Robert and his massive brain took care of everything else.
Buy hey, at least you can still pump up your deflated ego elsewhere, right? Well, Nay's also an excellent student and plays piano, mandolin, and trumpet. May as well cross “one-man band” off the list as well, then.
With Valentine's Day less than a month away, you may want to think about how you'll celebrate the occasion with your significant other. We're not jumping to conclusions on where your relationship is at, but if preparation includes brushing up your knowledge of the Kama Sutra, be sure to consider the source.
According to security firm Sophos, a new Kama Sutra PowerPoint is making the rounds, one that promises to demonstrate different sexual positions. That promise is fulfilled, though you'll walk away with more than you bargained for, namely malware.
"The malware comes as a file called Real kamasutra.pps.exe (the old double-extension tricks)," Sophos warns. "In other words, you may think you are directly opening a PowerPoint slideshow, but in fact you're running an executable program.
"The PowerPoint slide deck (which ironically is itself 'clean' from the malware point of view) is then dropped onto your Windows PC as a decoy while malware silently installs onto your computer as AdobeUpdate.exe, alongside some other components (called jqa.exe and acrobat.exe)."
This particularly nasty bit of malware is flexible in what it can do, from using your PC to send out spam to spying on your activities, installing revenue generating adware, and even steal your identity, Sophos says.
Mozilla's getting close to unleashing a Release Candidate version of Firefox 4, but in the meantime, you can play around with the latest beta version, the browser maker announced in a blog post.
"The latest Firefox 4 Beta is available to test the cool features and improvements in the next version of Firefox," Mozilla said. "As we continue to refine features and performance in Firefox 4 Beta, this release includes faster start-up time, bookmarking, and makes complex animations smoother."
The beta also gives longtime Firefox users some time to get used to the new look, which now bears a strong resemblance to Google's Chrome browser. Underneath the hood, Firefox 4 boasts a boatload of changes and additions, including HTML5 support, multi-touch support, WebM and HD video, full hardware acceleration, and more.
Deleting your browser cookies is supposed to throw websites off your trail, but that isn't always the case. All a determined website has to do is drop a backup cookie into Adobe Flash's local storage, so unless you clean that out as well, they can still track you. These so-called 'zombie cookies' aren't something that only obscure websites use, but according to InfoWorld.com, several prominent sites -- Disney, ABC, ESPN, MTV, and many others -- have been using this approach, and have ended up in court as a result.
So what, if anything, is Adobe doing to ensure a user's privacy isn't compromised?
"Since local storage allows sites and apps to remember information, there are concerns about the use of local storage to store tracking information – or of greater concern, to restore tracking information to a browser cookie that a user has intentionally deleted," Adobe's Emmy Huang wrote in a blog post. "This use of local data storage has raised questions about privacy. So we’re continually working to make sure that users have better control over the local data stored by applications running in Flash Player.
"Most recently, we’ve been collaborating with browser vendors to integrate LSO management with the browser UI. The first capability, one that we believe will have the greatest immediate impact, is to allow users to clear LSOs (and any local storage, such as that of HTML5 and other plugin technologies) from the browser settings interface—similar to how users can clear their browser cookies today."
Adobe claims it's working with Mozilla and Google to define a new browser API for clearing local data, and that you'll see this feature show up soon on the Google Chrome dev channel. After that, you can expect this capability to come integrated in all major browsers.
Without Flash support, browser-based gaming has all but been eliminated on Apple's iPad, though not entirely. Thanks to Sarien.net, iPad owners can relive (or discover for the first time) classic adventure games from Sierra, all playable on the iPad's Safari browser and all for free.
Here's what's available:
King's Quest 1-III
Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards
Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel
Space Quest I-II
The Black Cauldron
The games have been slightly updated to take advantage of the touch interface, and there's even a unique multiplayer element. It's possible to bump into another player wandering the countryside in King's Quest, for example.
Some of the original games' creators have given their stamp of approval to Sarien.net, though Activision has yet to weigh in and probably won't be as thrilled. In other words, enjoy 'em while you can.
Itching to get your hands on Epic and People Can Fly's upcoming mix of sweet shooting and spicy language? Well, buy a cream or something, because you'll be sitting on the sidelines until the game's February 22 release date.
Xbox 360 and PS3 players' forecasts, meanwhile, see a full-to-bursting storm system on a January 25 collision course with their consoles. So, why are they getting a demo a month early while you have to make a blind purchase almost a month later? Epic's Mark Rein wouldn't say. He did, however, tell Blue's News that there are no plans for a PC demo at this time.
Still though, seems like a rather unfortunate move on Epic's part. We're hardly businessmen, but putting a tangible piece of your new, unproven IP into as many gamers' hands as possible as quickly as possible seems like a no-brainer. Also – while we definitely don't endorse it – too many PC gamers tend to have a “No demo? Ok then, piracy!” policy. Bulletstorm may have gained a reputation for being goofy and somewhat mindless, but that doesn't mean its pre-release build-up should follow suit.
LG is happy with Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform and believes there's a lot of potential there, but the company is less than thrilled with the platform's launch.
"From an industry perspective we had a high expectation, but from a consumer point of view the visibility is less than we expected," James Choi, marketing strategy and planning team director of LG Electronics, told Pocket-lint.com in an interview.
Despite the slow launch, LG isn't giving up on WP7 or changing its tune on the platform.
"LG has been closely collaborating with Microsoft from the beginning," Choi said. "What we feel is that it is absolutely perfect for a huge segment out there. What we feel is that some people believe that some operating systems, mainly Google, are extremely complicated for them. But Windows Phone 7 is very intuitive and easy to use."
So what's the problem? According to Choi, being a mostly high-end device is holding the platform back. He says that "once Windows Phone 7 handsets that are mid-tier to low-tier start appearing the market share will grow."
Microsoft is banking on it. As CNet amusingly points out, the long retired Windows 98 OS has a higher market share than WP7, according to Net Market Share's numbers. Windows 98 claims a scant 0.04 percent of the worldwide OS market, while WP7 sits at less than 0.010 percent.
With Chrome quickly adding browser market share and Internet Explorer still way out in front, Mozilla is eager to get Firefox 4 in the hands of its users sooner than later. It's Mozilla's hope that Firefox 4 will be ready for prime time by the end of February, the browser maker revealed in an email to its developers.
"We've worked tremendously hard on Firefox 4, and it's time to ship it," Mozilla's Damon Sicore wrote in an email. "I'm seeing the same burst of excitement and activity that we've seen in the endgame of every release... To finish, we have to reach Release Candidate status as quickly as possible, ideally finish the hard blockers by the beginning of February and shipping final before the end of February."
Hard blockers are bugs that would prevent a final release, and right now there are about 160 of them, Sicore said. He added that it's historically taken six weeks to reach a Release Candidate once there are 100 hard blockers left.
To help move things along, Mozilla is urging developers and testers not to disable Flash, Silverlight, or other major plugins.
"Windows users: We need to know if you are affected by hardware acceleration causing crashes or other issues," Sicore said. "Don't just assume that someone else has filed a bug already. Make sure. Ask someone if you don't know how. This is very important."
Major kudos are in order for a band of modders known as The Dark Forces Team who went and released a Windows Phone 7 ROM for HTC's HD2 handset.
You can find instructions on the XDA-Developers.com forum, which aren't terribly hard to follow. You'll need to download the Windows Development Tools and Zune PC App, and once you've done that, it's just a matter of following a handful of easy steps.
The latest hack/ROM even allows access to the Marketplace and Xbox LIVE service, at least for now. Keep in mind that this isn't an official release, so the usual disclaimers about warranties, bricked devices, and proceeding at your own risk all apply.