Thursday, December 8, 2022

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Disney Delivers Mixed News on Its Disney+ Streaming Platform

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Disney turned in its quarterly results, including a mixed bag of news regarding its Disney+ and other streaming services.

Disney+ gained some 12 million subscribers from the previous quarter, bringing the platform’s total to 164.2 million. The company’s total streaming subscribers, including Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu has now topped 235 million subscribers. This is an increase over the previous quarter’s 221 million.

“2022 was a strong year for Disney, with some of our best storytelling yet, record results at our Parks, Experiences and Products segment, and outstanding subscriber growth at our direct-to-consumer services, which added nearly 57 million subscriptions this year for a total of more than 235 million,” said Bob Chapek, Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “Our fourth quarter saw strong subscription growth with the addition of 14.6 million total subscriptions, including 12.1 million Disney+ subscribers.”

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good news for the streaming services, with increased costs leading to a larger loss than the previous quarter.

Direct-to-Consumer revenues for the quarter increased 8% to $4.9 billion and operating loss increased $0.8 billion to $1.5 billion. The increase in operating loss was due to a higher loss at Disney+ and a decrease in results at Hulu, partially offset by improved results at ESPN+.

Sling TV Raises Prices

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Sling TV has announced it is raising prices, citing increased programming costs and rising inflation.

Sling TV is one of the more popular streaming TV platforms, appealing to users with its low pricing and à la carte package selection. Unfortunately, users are in for a price hike, with the company sending out an email to explain the increased charges.

“Thanks for being a valued Sling TV subscriber,” the email reads.

“Sling always fights for our customers and works with programming partners to keep costs as low as possible. Due to a continuous rise in programming costs and record inflation, Sling Orange + Sling Blue will increase by $5.”

The company does say that the price increase will not apply to extras, premium channel pricing, or other Sling TV services.

CutFishOS Linux Distro Is Being Developed Once Again

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CuteFishOS appears to be under active development once again after a mysterious pause that left its fans worried.

CuteFishOS is a Linux distro that looks similar to macOS and quickly gained a following. Development appeared to stop, with no explanation given. According to The New Stack, ten fans of the distro even went so far as to fork it in an effort to keep it alive and moving forward.

It appears the effort was in vain, with the project’s GitHub page announcing that CuteFishOS is back.

“Your Favorite CutefishOS are back now! New website in the works (coming soon)…”

There’s still no explanation of what transpired, or why the development appeared to stall. In the meantime, the fork briefly undertaken by the fans has been put on hold since the official distro appears to be moving forward again.

HBO Max and Discovery+ Will Merge to Create New Streaming Service

Warner Bros. Discovery chief David Zaslav has said HBO Max and Discovery+ will merge to form a new, larger streaming service.

WarnerMedia and Discovery joined forces in May 2021 in an effort to take on larger streaming rivals. The combined company is taking it a step further, according to NBC News, with plans to merge HBO Max and Discovery+ to form an even larger streaming platform.

According to the company’s earnings report, the two streaming platforms collectively have some 92 million subscribers. Executives did not offer a name for the new service, but said it would launch in the US in the summer of 2023.

The company’s goal is to have 130 million subscribers by 2025 and may introduce a free, ad-supported tier in an effort to reach that target.

Timeshift Backup Tool Finds New Home at Linux Mint

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The popular Linux backup tool, Timeshift, is moving to Linux Mint as the distribution (distro) takes over development of the utility.

Timeshift is used across multiple distros, providing users a way to create snapshots of their system before performing updates. If something goes wrong, the system can easily be restored to a previous snapshot, giving users peace of mind. After the original developer was no longer able to continue work on the project, Linux Mint assumed responsibility for it.

“Thanks to Timeshift, Linux Mint has been able to come up with a robust update strategy and a very clear message: Take snapshots, apply all updates,” the company writes in a blog post.

“Timeshift was created and maintained by a very talented developer called Tony George. You probably also heard of UKUU and Aptik, Tony develops many exciting tools: https://teejeetech.com.

“Unfortunately he had to stop developing Timeshift to focus on his other projects. We got in touch with him to see how we could help and the decision was made to take over the maintenance.”

Linux Mint says Timeshift will become an XApp, the company’s suite of apps it develops in-house. Fortunately, in typical Linux fashion, Linux Mint creates its XApps to be used on a variety of distros, not just its own.

Given how popular Linux Mint is, it’s a safe bet Timeshift has a bright and secure future ahead of it.

Bethesda Sunsetting Its Game Launch in Favor of Steam

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Bethesda has announced it is sunsetting its own Bethesda.net Launcher, embracing Steam instead.

Bethesda has a long and storied history in the video game industry, eventually being acquired by Microsoft in 2020. The company has maintained its own game launcher, Bethesda.net, but is now shutting it down in favor of the Steam platform.

The company plans to begin the migration in April, providing detailed instruction to users on how to migrate their game library and Wallets.

We’re saying goodbye to the Bethesda.net Launcher this year. We would like to thank you for your support and assure you that all of your games are safe. If you’re not playing PC games through the Bethesda.net launcher then your work is done here. Thanks for reading! If you do have games through the Bethesda.net launcher, don’t worry. Starting in early April you’ll be able to migrate your games and Wallet to your Steam account.

The migration process is expected to be completed by May, at which point the Bethesda.net Launcher will no longer be available.

KDE Community Has Released Plasma 5.24

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The KDE Community has released the latest version of the popular desktop, KDE Plasma 5.24, bringing a number of improvements.

KDE Plasma is one of the most popular Linux desktops, and is known for the plethora of options, features, and customizations it offers. It takes a decidedly different design philosophy than its top competitor, Gnome, which focuses more on a simple, streamlined interface.

The latest version of Plasma makes a number of improvements to the interface and workflow, including borrowing some features from Gnome, such as the new Overview. The feature is still in beta, but already looks relatively polished.

The new release also has fingerprint reader support, an improved Breeze theme for better consistency with apps, easier customization, clearer labeling for critical notifications, simpler system settings, and more.

While none of the features are groundbreaking, when taken together, they make up a solid upgrade that should improve the day-to-day KDE experience. This is also an LTS (long-term support) upgrade, meaning it will be supported for the rest of the 5.x lifecycle.

Microsoft Commits to Keeping Call of Duty on PlayStation — For Now

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Following Microsoft’s blockbuster purchase of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer is working to reassure PlayStation users.

Microsoft announced a deal on Tuesday to purchase Activision Blizzard for some $68.7 billion, a move that will upend the entire computing gaming industry. Needless to day, many wondered if Microsoft would kill off non-Xbox and PC versions of popular titles, such as Call of Duty.

According to Spencer, the company has no plans to do that…at least not yet.

Had good calls this week with leaders at Sony. I confirmed our intent to honor all existing agreements upon acquisition of Activision Blizzard and our desire to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation. Sony is an important part of our industry, and we value our relationship.

— Phil Spencer (XboxP3), January 20, 2022

As some commenters immediately pointed out, Spencer’s choice of words certainly leaves doubt about the long-term future. Rather than a strong ‘we WILL keep Call of Duty on PlayStation,’ Spencer seemingly left Microsoft an out by only saying the company would honor existing agreements, and it was their desire to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation.

Only time will tell how committed Microsoft is to other gaming platforms over the long haul.

Google Rolls Out Locked Folder to All Android Phones

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Google has expanded its Locked Folder feature to all Android phones, not just its own line of Pixel phones.

Locked Folder is a feature designed to help users “lock away” sensitive photos, preventing them from being seen by others. The photos are not backed up to Google Cloud and don’t show up in Google Photos.

According to Gizmodo, Google is rolling the feature out to all Android phones, after it was initially available only on the Pixel. There’s no word yet on an iPhone version, but it should be coming soon.

Apple Fixing iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Speaker Issues for Free

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Apple has announced a service repair program to fix defective iPhone 12 and 12 Pro speakers for free.

A small percentage of iPhone 12 and 12 Pro phones shipped with a defective receiver module component. As a result, once the component fails, impacted devices may have sound issues, including no sound coming through the receiver when making or receiving calls.

The issue affects devices manufactured between October 2020 and April 2021. Apple says in a blog post that it will repair defective devices for free.

To initiate the process, customers should go to an Apple Authorized Service Provider, make an appointed at an Apple Store, or contact Apple Support for mail-in Apple Repair Center service.