Thurrott Daily: January 11

Posted on January 11, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, iOS, Xbox One with 0 Comments

Thurrott Daily: January 11

Half-Life 3 will never happen. And that makes me sad.

Another slow news day, sorry. But here are some tidbits from around the web…

Microsoft teases new Xbox One party feature

We’re in a weird place when a senior Microsoft executive posts a blurry and almost indiscernible video to Twitter to tout a coming Xbox One feature. So welcome to weird. Xbox engineering lead Mike Ybarra posted this:

Hmm, what am I doing here on Xbox One…


The video, lest you can’t see it, shows Ybarra navigating over a friend’s name and getting a “See who’s in the party” pop-up that is currently not available on the console. Why the tease? Microsoft didn’t release a system update in December, and won’t do so again until February. So this is supposed to tide us over I guess. Again. Weird.

Half-Life writer leaves Valve after 18 years

The departure of a “Half-Life writer” from Valve after 18 years got a lot of press over the weekend. For example, GameSpot offers the following:

Marc Laidlaw, the esteemed sci-fi writer who has worked at Half-Life developer Valve since 1997, has confirmed his retirement from the Bellevue, Washington studio.

He was the sole writer for both Half-Life 1 and 2, and had crafted each game’s wider narrative. Later, he was assigned as lead writer on Half-Life 2 Episode 1 and 2.

It is not clear if Laidlaw finished the plot for Half-Life 3 before leaving Valve.

No offense to Valve. But spare me.

Half-Life 2 Episode 2, the latest deliverable in the Half-Life series of games, shipped back in 2007, almost 9 long years ago. It’s the second of a planned three-story arc, which of course stands uncompleted. And you’re talking about Half-Life 3? Stop. Just stop. Before I lose it.

I loved all of the Half-Life games and played each one, including the Blue Shift and Opposing Force add-ons for the original Half-Life, multiple times. But this series has reached Duke Nukem levels of vaporware. And games that are sort of like Half-Life, like Portal and Left 4 Dead, don’t help ease the pain.


“Apple News Has One Major Glitch”

It sure does. It sucks. But that, apparently, isn’t the point of this Fortune article, which cites a WSJ interview in claiming that Apple News traffic is actually higher than what Apple has been reporting to publishers.

That’s nice. But as I’ve pointed out before, if you are using an iDevice, you’re better off with MSN News or Google Play Newsstand. Both are much better news aggregation apps.

Apple to add a “Night Shift” feature in iOS 9.3

Apple is belatedly getting in on the nighttime display mode game, and will cut back on blue light displayed through its i-Devices at night starting in a future iOS update. (Amazon and other tablet makers already offer this feature, and app makers like Google have been adding it to their apps too.)

But according to a developer note, it looks like Apple is going to get this one right and just make it automatic.

Many studies have shown that exposure to bright blue light in the evening can affect your circadian rhythms and make it harder to fall asleep. Night Shift uses your iOS device’s clock and geolocation to determine when it’s sunset in your location. Then it automatically shifts the colors in your display to the warmer end of the spectrum, making it easier on your eyes. In the morning, it returns to the display to its regular settings. Pleasant dreams.

As you may know, you can get f.lux software for your PC that does the same thing.

“Are unlimited data cellphone plans on their way back?”

Not exactly, this overly-enthusiastic Sun Times headlinenotwithstanding. As CNET notes, there’s a catch. A big catch.

The unlimited data plan is making a comeback at AT&T, but not as you remember it.

The Dallas telecom giant said Monday that its DirecTV and U-Verse subscribers can sign up for unlimited wireless data. A single line costs $100 a month, with $40 for each additional line.

The move is an attempt by the nation’s second-largest wireless carrier to get you on both its video service and its wireless service … AT&T stopped offering the unlimited data option to new customers in 2010.


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