Editor's Letter: Back to school

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Editor's Letter: Back to school

In each issue of Distro, Executive Editor Marc Perton publishes a wrap-up of the week in news.

DNP Editor's Letter Back to school

There was a time when gearing up to go back to school meant little more than picking up a new backpack, some clothes and the latest HP calculator. Those days, of course, are long gone, and even fifth-graders can expect to start the school year with a new smartphone and laptop.

In this issue of Distro, Engadget's annual back to school guide presents our latest recommendations for everything from tablets to TVs to gaming gear. And if you're a US resident over 18 (sorry fifth-graders), there's still time to enter our Back to School sweepstakes, where we're giving away tons of great gadgets, including laptops, e-readers and smartphones.

While Americans may assume that Europeans take August off, they actually spend at least part of the month at Gamescom, Germany's massive gaming conference, which packs as many as 300,000 people into Cologne's Koelnmesse trade and exhibition center. This year's Gamescom has featured major announcements from Microsoft, Sony and developers large and small, as they gear up for the rollouts of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. We now know exactly when the PS4 will be available, and how Microsoft plans to deal with the potential onslaught of indie games on the Xbox One (their answer: bring it on!).

DNP Editor's Letter Back to school

The major console makers weren't the only companies making news at Gamescom. Among other things, we took a look at gaming on Google Glass, and sat down with Oculus Rift creator Palmer Luckey and Oculus VP Nate Mitchell to talk about the future of virtual reality gaming.

Virtual reality and wearable computers may be the future, but this week's Distro takes a step back to look at the Malling-Hansen Writing Ball, a keyboard design from the 1800s that was popular with, among others, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. A poem written by Nietzsche on the writing ball could easily apply to today's smartphone-toting traveler:

"The writing ball is a thing like me: made of iron yet easily twisted on journeys. Patience and tact are required in abundance as well as fine fingers to use us."

Nietzsche apparently liked the device's portability, but he had to stop using it after it broke down in transit and was damaged further by an inept repairman. Looks like the existential crisis that is tech support is something that has been with us for a long time.

This piece originally appeared in Distro #104.

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