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Last month’s news that Facebook bought startup Oculus VR for $2 billion spurred many loud and often furious reactions from gamers and especially those who participated in the project’s initial Kickstarter. If you’re among those wondering what’s next for Oculus and haven’t been convinced by the written words of founder Palmer Luckey and others (including John Carmack and Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida), perhaps hearing them will make a difference. tracked down Luckey at the PAX East event today and got him on camera talking about Oculus and Facebook. As he’s expressed before, Luckey says the plan is to “promote the long-term adoption of virtual reality, not short-term financial returns.” In his words “the games industry is the only industry that’s really well equipped to build interactive immersive 3D worlds,” so don’t expect the focus of Oculus to suddenly change now that it’s in cahoots with Zuckerberg and company. So, after a couple of weeks to think about it — and the addition of notable former Valve / iD software employee Mike Abrash to the Oculus team — how do you feel about the acquisition now?

(Iribe/Luckey Photo:Ana Venegas/The Orange County Register/

Facebook to require separate mobile app for messages

Posted by Rattana_S On April - 10 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc will no longer let users send and receive private messages within its main smartphone app, and will require that users install a separate messaging app, the Internet company said on Wednesday.

Facebook began notifying users in France, England and several other European countries on Wednesday that beginning in a couple of weeks they will need to install the company’s standalone Messenger app in order to send and receive messages.

Facebook plans to eventually require that users in all countries install the Messenger app, spokesman Derick Mains said, though he could not provide a specific timeframe for the change.

The move is intended to ensure that users have a consistent and high-quality experience, a Facebook spokesman told Reuters. The free, standalone Messenger app is faster than the messaging service that’s currently built into Facebook’s primary mobile app. Facebook users can also access more features in the Messenger app, such as the ability to make voice phone calls.

“We have built a fast and reliable messaging experience through Messenger and now it makes sense for us to focus all our energy and resources on that experience,” the company said in a statement.

Facebook faces increasing competition from a new crop of fast-growing mobile messaging apps, such as Snapchat and Line. It stunned observers by announcing plans in February to buy the popular WhatsApp messaging app for $19 billion.

Forcing users to install a separate messaging app on their phones could help boost the popularity of Facebook Messenger, but could also cause a backlash if consumers view Facebook’s move as heavy-handed. A post on the technology blog Mashable on Wednesday was titled “11 Reasons why Pulling Messenger From Facebook Mobile is a Terrible Idea,” and many people took to Twitter to post critical comments about the change.

Facebook, the world’s No.1 social networking service with 1.2 billion users, has increasingly moved to develop a catalog of standalone apps to complement its main app. In January, Facebook launched Paper, a photo-heavy news-reading app that has earned positive reviews.

Facebook also acquired photo-sharing app Instagram in 2012 and announced plans to buy WhatsApp, which has more than 450 million users. News of the change in Facebook’s messaging service was first reported by the technology blog TechCrunch on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Bernard Orr)

Beware Flight 370 scams

Posted by Rattana_S On April - 8 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

“Video of Malaysia MH370 plane found in Bermuda Triangle. Passengers alive.” “Missing plane has been found!”

Headlines like these might seem tempting, but don’t fall for the hype. These videos and links are scams, according to the Better Business Bureau.

They’re popping up on social media sites like Facebook (FB, Fortune 500) and Twitter (TWTR) and are being passed around in emails. As people wait anxiously for answers to the Malaysian jet mystery, these links promise “exclusive” footage or “shocking” revelations.

When you click on the link, you may be prompted to “update your video player.” If you agree, you’re downloading malware that can allow an attacker to take over your computer.

Another variation prompts you to take a survey and divulge all your information, opening you up to identity theft. And many scams force you to share the video before watching, putting your contacts at risk as well.

This isn’t the first time hackers have used the news to their advantage. Christopher Budd, global threat communications manager at Trend Micro, says similar scams popped up after the marathon bombing in Boston. Cyberattackers have also taken advantage of celebrity deaths and other major news events.

Hackers target what Budd calls the “knowledge gap” — when users are looking for answers that news outlets don’t have. He says the strategy works so well that there is a criminal underground ready to crank out scams quickly when news breaks.

So how can you protect yourself? It’s important to get your news about the missing jet from trusted news sites instead of through emails and social media.

The Better Business Bureau recommends hovering over a link before clicking to see the destination. Avoid unfamiliar websites.

Also, don’t trust a link just because a friend shared it — that friend may be a victim of the scam, or the account may have been hacked. You should report suspicious activity on Facebook and Twitter.

A good rule of thumb: If it sounds too crazy to be true, it probably is.

Facebook and Google in tech cold war

Posted by Rattana_S On March - 30 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Facebook and Google are locked in a high-stakes, multi-billion dollar battle to shape the future.

Both companies are spending like crazy on emerging technologies. Their aims: when their current businesses are disrupted — and they will be — they’ll have a fallback plan.

“While Facebook is doing well now, it knows that its core business could degrade just as MySpace’s did,” said Carl Howe, analyst at Yankee Group.

That’s why Facebook (FB, Fortune 500) has poured billions of dollars into a photo sharing network, facial recognition software, a chat app and now virtual reality company Oculus. Google (GOOG, Fortune 500), in turn, has invested billions in driverless cars, wearable gadgets, military robots and — most recently through its purchase of Nest — connected home devices like smoke detectors and thermostats.

It’s as if Facebook and Google are now combatants in Silicon Valley’s version of a Cold War arms race.

“Facebook and Google are high technology titans engaged in a real world game of ‘Monopoly’ to grab the choicest technology properties in a bid to maintain and extend their dominance with each other as well and various other rivals,” said Laura DiDio principal analyst at consultancy ITIC.

Related: Facebook to buy virtual reality company Oculus for $2 billion

These are long-term bets. For all their attempts to diversify, neither company’s purchases have helped them expand beyond their core business models just yet. Both Google and Facebook generated about 90% of their revenue from advertising last year.

By buying Oculus, Facebook is betting that the next tech wave could be ruled by wearable devices. Google is making a similar bet with Glass and its Android Wear smartwatch platform.

Mark Zuckerberg said on a conference call with analysts Tuesday that he believes virtual reality has a chance to become the communications platform of the future.

But Oculus is unlike most wearable devices — it is closed off from the rest of the world, taking over most of your senses, including your entire field of vision. That’s great for gaming but it’s not like we’re going to be able to walk down the street with these things as we do today with smartphones and could even do one day with smartwatches and Google Glass.

“Oculus has a lot of cool, very immersive applications,” said Ron Gruia, principal consultant at Frost & Sullivan. “At the same time, Oculus is very isolating, limiting its usefulness.”

Even if it doesn’t succeed, the bet seems to be worth it for Facebook. The company spent $2 billion on Oculus but only $400 million in cash — loose change for a company with $11.5 billion in its corporate coffers.

But in the emerging Cold War between Facebook and Google, Facebook can’t take quite as many risks. Google has $59 billion in cash and can lose a bet every once in a while, as it did with Motorola Mobility. (Google bought Motorola for $12.5 billion in 2011 but subsequently shed most of the assets, including the recent sale of Motorola’s smartphone business to Lenovo for about $3 billion.)

Google’s mission of cataloging information is also broader than Facebook’s “connecting people” goal. So while Facebook can make wild bets like it is with Oculus, it has less wiggle room than Google in ensuring they pay off. Investors showed their disapproval on Wednesday as well. Shares of Facebook were down more than 3%.

But give both companies credit for knowing they can’t rest on their laurels. Google CEO Larry Page and Facebook’s Zuckerberg seem to recognize that it’s not easy to stay on top of the tech world forever.

Numerous firms that were once industry titans fell to Earth after they failed to adapt to a new wave of technology. In fact, both companies literally have their headquarters in the graveyard of former tech darlings.

Facebook’s Menlo Park offices are in the former home of Sun Microsystems, which Oracle (ORCL, Fortune 500) snapped up in 2010. And Google lives in the former headquarters of Silicon Graphics Inc. — the once-mighty computing company that filed for bankruptcy in 2009. To top of page