Episode 46 News: Taxing Situations

Sales taxes for online purchases could be in the near future. The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013, a bill that was just approved by the United States Senate by a vote of 69 to 27, is now headed to the House of Representatives. (Do you have to pay tax on rentals? Adobe announced this week that it’s no longer going to sell the Creative Suite software, but is moving to the $50-per-month Creative Cloud subscription service and other rental plans with varying fees for new versions of its products.)

Security analysts have found flaws in Internet Explorer 8, which Microsoft has confirmed, although it says that IE 6, 7, 9 and 10 are not affected by this particular exploit. The attack has been reported as hitting US government Web sites and federal workers involved in nuclear research. In other security news, the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress directly accuses the Chinese military of staging cyber-attacks on American government computer systems and defense contactors.

Google Glass may not be feeling the love from certain legislators and Las Vegas casinos, but Google is keeping busy with other projects. The company added the ability to share files from your Google Drive folder on your PC or Mac directly with others, and it also  updated its Gmail app for iOS this week.

An analyst from NPD DisplaySearch says Apple will release a Retina display version of its popular iPad Mini tablet in the third quarter of this year — and then turn around and drop a third-generation Mini with a faster processor in the first quarter of 2014. (So what’s a geek to do for the holiday season purchases this year?)

On the topic of small tablets, Amazon may have spoiled a Microsoft surprise by accidentally publishing pictures of a new 7-inch Acer tablet, which is thought to be the first smaller slab to run Windows 8. Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates thinks Windows tablets offer more perks like keyboards and Office for “frustrated” tablet users, although judging from the sales numbers, iPad users aren’t that frustrated.

Windows 8 has now sold 100 million licenses since it arrived six months ago. Don’t get too comfy — an update to Windows 8, codenamed Windows Blue, is expected later this year, as is a new version of the Xbox game console that may have an HDMI port.

Electronic Arts announced that The Sims 4 will arrive next year for PC and Mac gamers. Much to the relief of many, The Sims 4 will be available in single-player offline mode. (Will Wright, SimCity’s original 1980s developer, expressed sympathy recently for the EA team involved in the epic fail that was the SimCity 5 launch a few months ago.) Electronic Arts has a few other things going on besides Sim-related games. Disney, which recently shut down the LucasArts game division, has tapped EA to develop future game titles for the Star Wars franchise. Not everyone is excited by this, including one writer over at TG Daily. However, other media outlets were more hopeful.

Finally, and sadly, we note the passing of Ray Harryhausen, the stop-motion animator and film visual-effects wizard behind the classic Jason and the Argonauts and scores of other pictures. He was an inspiration to George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson and pretty much anyone entranced by the magic of movies. Requiescat in pace.

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