The bitcoin cryptocurrency endured highs and lows throughout 2014, with the bitcoin economy making progress - but valuation saw continued decline. Compared to other currencies, bitcoins suffered the worst, decreasing 67 percent throughout 2014, and is off to a turbulent start in 2015, cryptocurrency analysts noted.
Despite a volatile value, CoinDesk predicts there will be more than 140,000 merchants and retailers accepting bitcoin payments by the end of the year.
The IRS ruled in 2014 that bitcoins are property and not currency, which could cause major headaches for bitcoin owners. US taxpayers will need to be careful when filing their taxes, and since bitcoin value declined, likely won't have to pay any type of taxes for gains.
The transition from paid song and album digital downloads to online streaming radio stations has turned the music industry upside down. Streaming music is reportedly hurting music industry revenue, with more listeners choosing streaming apps and services over paying for digital downloads, according to the Strategy Analytics research group.
Musicians are caught in the middle of the uncertainty, as they want a fair cut of music profits - but are trying to be careful not to alienate their respective fan base.
"We're going to pay for it like we pay for cable - monthly blocks for everything instead of each individual release," said 50 Cent, rapper and founder of SMS Audio, in an interview with the Telegraph. "It used to be that music release had a build-up to a day and it a felt like an event, and everyone who was passionate about the artist was doing it at the same time. Now it has come out in pieces. The singles will probably be the largely portion of the profits."
Whilst 'The Interview' slowly recoups its production costs, the international ramifications of the film are beginning to be felt from inside North Korea. In a New York Times article published yesterday, a North Korean defector who assisted with the distribution of the film into North Korea has spoken with a number of people who viewed the film in secrecy. Chung Kwang-il reported that those who he speak to "cursed at the movie ... angry it depicted North Koreans as a bunch of idiots".
Mr. Chung further reported that North Koreans reviled the films poor accents and cringe-worthy imitations of communist slogans and that the film will "only increase animosity among us because it not only failed to understand our feelings, but didn't even try to."
It seems those hoping the film could result in the collapse of the communist state need a reality check.
We know that the App Store has some serious numbers, but what about the actual revenue that apps make on Apple's digital storefront? Well, the company has said that developers have earned over $10 billion across 2014.
Close to half a billion dollars was spent on apps and in-app purchases in the first week of January 2015 alone. This number balloons out to a huge $25 billion since the App Store opened its digital doors back in 2008. This makes the numbers from 2014 even more impressive, as they represent around 40% of the total revenue of the App Store, even considering it's been operating for six years.
Global PC shipments reached 80.8 million units during Q4 of 2014, a -2.4 percent year-over-year decline, according to the IDC research group. The US and European markets proved stronger than other regions of the world, with positive signs that the overall PC market is progressing with positive signs after years of increased competition.
Hewlett-Packard saw 26.2 percent Q4 year-over-year growth, while Dell (13.7 percent), Apple (18.1 percent), and Lenovo (7.9 percent) prepare to battle in the resurgent US PC market.
"The U.S. PC market continued to grow in the fourth quarter, outperforming the global market for the tenth consecutive quarter," said Rajani Singh, senior research analyst of the personal computing division at IDC. "The past year was supported by Windows XP to 7 migrations in the commercial segment while consumer volume continued to decline."
A new mobile application described as a "brain thermometer" is being developed by AnthroTronix, and has the ability to accurately gauge soldier traumatic brain injuries and other physical ailments. The Defense Automated Neurobehavioral Assessment (DANA) conducts neurocognitive and psychological tests that can help medical experts identify problems.
Participants are asked to answer on-screen exercises, with speed and accuracy tracked - a medical provider would then analyze the tests and compare it to pre-deployment test figures.
"In essence, measuring reaction time is like taking the temperature of the brain," said Corinna Lathan, CEO of AnthroTronix. "It's a vital part of the data that any health professional needs to evaluate his patient."
After delays, the hyped multiplayer shooter from Turtle Rock (the developers behind Left 4 Dead) are preparing for the full launch of Evolve. Before that, we are being introduced to the official specifications of the game.
The minimum system requirements:
- INTEL CPU: Core 2 Duo E6600
- AMD CPU: Athlon 64 X2 6400
- SYSTEM RAM: 4GB
- NVIDIA VIDEO CARD: GeForce GTX 560
- ATI VIDEO CARD: Radeon HD 5770
- VIDEO MEMORY: 1GB
- HARD DRIVE: 50GB
- OS: Windows 7 64-bit
And the recommended specs:
- INTEL CPU: Core i7-920
- AMD CPU: A8-3870K
- SYSTEM RAM: 6GB
- NVIDIA VIDEO CARD: GeForce GTX 670 or GTX 760
- ATI VIDEO CARD: Radeon R9 280
- VIDEO MEMORY: 2GB
- HARD DRIVE: 50GB
Virtual reality products were on full display at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week, and while VR continues to go mainstream, there are a lot of questions that still must be answered.
VR adoption should increase in 2015, as companies tweak their hardware and software offerings, though should remain most common in the gaming sector. However, VR will still be a niche technology, until several major roadblocks are accurately addressed.
"It will stay relatively niche because it still has several technological hurdles to overcome," said Piers Harding-Rolls, HIS analyst, in a statement to BBC. "A lot of people that have tested the current headsets, a good proportion of them have not enjoyed the experience. It can make them feel woozy and sick, and the manufacturers really have to overcome that."
The Russian FSB intelligence security service reportedly tried to recruit former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, approaching him while he was stranded in the Sheremetyevo International Airport in 2013. The American fugitive declined the offer.
Snowden was reportedly approached only once and he "didn't give anything to the Russians at all," according to WikiLeaks staffer Sarah Harrison, a close friend to the stranded American.
Snowden was granted temporary asylum to stay in Russia in August 2013, and he remains inside of Russian borders.
A couple of screenshots for the PC version of Grand Theft Auto V have surfaced, showing the difference between low and high settings. The screenshots are coming from NfoHump user 'Neon' who is surely going to have most of the Internet talking with these GTA V screenshots.
The two shots are in-game shots from the PC version of GTA V, but it was only a few days ago that the same user posted some shots of the Settings menu of GTA V on the PC (above), as well as a few other screenshots of the game. Now we have a a low quality, and high quality screenshot to see if we can spot a big difference in quality.
Above, we have the low quality and high quality screenshots (low is the top one, high the one below it). Both of these screenshots were reportedly taken on a GeForce GTX 970 with 4GB of RAM. As you can see, there is quite a large difference between the low and high quality settings in the game, such as draw distance, shadowing, reflections on the car, and much more.