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  • Lizard Squad Targets Tor

    mrspoonsi tips news that Lizard Squad, the hacker group who knocked Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network offline on Christmas morning, has now turned its attention to Tor. After tweeting that they were targeting a Tor-related zero-day flaw, the group is now in control of 3,000 exit nodes — almost half of them. "If one group is controlling the majority of the nodes, it could be able to eavesdrop on a substantial number of vulnerable users. Which means Lizard Squad could gain the power to track Tor users if it infiltrates enough of the network."

    81 comments | 2 days ago

  • Why Lizard Squad Took Down PSN and Xbox Live On Christmas Day

    DroidJason1 writes Early Christmas morning, hacker group Lizard Squad took credit for taking down PlayStation Network and Xbox Live for hours. This affected those who had received new Xbox One or PS4 consoles, preventing them from playing online. So why did they do it? According to an exclusive interview with Lizard Squad, it had to do with convincing companies to improve their security — the hard way. "Taking down Microsoft and Sony networks shows the companies' inability to protect their consumers and instead shows their true vulnerability. Lizard Squad claims that their actions are simple, take down gaming networks for a short while, and forcing companies to upgrade their security as a result."

    326 comments | 2 days ago

  • Xbox Live and PlayStation Networks Downed By Apparent Attack

    mrspoonsi writes Both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network [were] down this morning, apparently due to a denial-of-service attack. The notorious hacking group Lizard Squad — which already carried out earlier attacks on Microsoft and Sony — has claimed responsibility on Twitter for these latest outages. While the group's role in all of this remains unconfirmed, it's worth noting that the group threatened last week to take down Xbox Live and PSN, according to Business Insider. And again, Lizard Squad has already proven it can successfully pull off such attacks, not to mention other malicious pranks.

    Whatever the cause, the timing is obviously terrible: Plenty of people surely received one of the two consoles as Christmas presents today, while many more gamers would have happily spent the afternoon in front of the TV. In the meantime, both Sony and Microsoft have acknowledged the problem, with Sony issuing a tweet and Microsoft posting a message on its support website: "We're working to address this as quickly as we possibly can," reads its status website. "Thanks for your patience, Xbox members." In an email, a Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment further or say when the company expects to restore service. We've also asked Sony to comment and will update this post if and when it does.
    The Xbox Live status page says service remains "limited," and the Playstation Network is listed as offline.

    159 comments | 3 days ago

  • Human Eye's Oscillation Rate Determines Smooth Frame Rate

    jones_supa writes: It should be safe to conclude that humans can see frame rates greater than 24 fps. The next question is: why do movies at 48 fps look "video-y," and why do movies at 24 fps look "dreamy" and "cinematic." Why are games more realistic at 60 fps than 30 fps? Simon Cooke from Microsoft (Xbox) Advanced Technology Group has an interesting theory to explain this all. Your eyes oscillate a tiny amount, ranging from 70 to 103 Hz (on average 83.68 Hz). So here's the hypothesis: The ocular microtremors wiggle the retina, allowing it to sample at approximately 2x the resolution of the sensors. Showing someone pictures that vary at less than half the rate of the oscillation means we're no longer receiving a signal that changes fast enough to allow the supersampling operation to happen. So we're throwing away a lot of perceived-motion data, and a lot of detail as well. Some of the detail can be restored with temporal antialiasing and simulating real noise, but ideally Cooke suggests going with a high enough frame rate (over 43 fps) and if possible, a high resolution.

    183 comments | 4 days ago

  • Telepresence Store Staffed Remotely Using Robots

    Molly McHugh writes: What better way to sell telepresence technologies than having the store employees themselves appear via robot? At the Beam store in Palo Alto, Calif., no human salespeople physically appear, only robots. Users appear on the 17-inch display and control the robot via keyboard, mouse, or Xbox controller. Beam can roll as fast as two miles per hour. People behind the screen control the Beam through their computers, and two wide-angle cameras attached to the top of the bot lets them see everything happening around the store. It’s a bit eerie, watching floating heads tool around and talk to people in this video, and the customers’ react to the Beam with confusion and wonder.

    52 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Microsoft Quietly Starts Accepting Bitcoin As Payment Method

    An anonymous reader writes A new page in the help guide in the payment information of Microsoft's website reveals that the Redmond giant is now accepting Bitcoin as a payment method for products and services on Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox. Currently the payments must go through to credit a Microsoft Wallet account, and the service is initially only available to U.S. users. But the wording of the new page combines with an expansive year for Microsoft and a number of positive statements about Bitcoin from Bill Gates to indicate that this first step is more than just an experiment. Microsoft is now the largest commercial entity accepting the Bitcoin currency, which it processes via the BitPay system, thus protecting the company from fluctuations in the value of Bitcoin. Also at CNN Money.

    107 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Sony Hacks Continue: PlayStation Hit By Lizard Squad Attack

    An anonymous reader writes Hacker group Lizard Squad has claimed responsibility for shutting down the PlayStation Network, the second large scale cyber-attack on the Sony system in recent weeks. Although apparently unrelated, the outage comes just weeks after the much larger cyber-attack to the tech giant's film studios, Sony Pictures, which leaked confidential corporate information and unreleased movies.The group claiming to have taken down PSN today, Lizard Squad, first appeared earlier this year with another high-profile distributed denial of service attack on Xbox Live and World of Warcraft in August. The hacker collective claimed that this attack was just a 'small dose' of what was to come over the Christmas period.

    170 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Three-Way Comparison Shows PCs Slaying Consoles In Dragon Age Inquisition

    MojoKid writes: "BioWare's long-awaited Dragon Age Inquisition has dropped for the PS4, Xbox One, and PCs. A comparison of the visuals in key scenes between all three platforms shows that while the PC variant clearly looks the best in multiple areas (as it should), there's evidence of good, intelligent optimization for consoles and PCs alike. After the debacle of Assassin's Creed Unity, Inquisition could provide an important taste of how to do things right. As expected though, when detail levels are increased, the PC still pulls away with the best overall visuals. The Xbox One and PS4 are largely matched, while PC renders of characters have better facial coloring and slightly more detailed textures. The lighting models are also far more detailed on the PC version with the PS4 following behind. The Xbox One, in contrast, is rather muddy. Overall, the PC and PS4 are closest in general detail, with the Xbox One occasionally lagging behind.

    227 comments | about a month ago

  • Microsoft Azure Outage Across the Globe

    hawkinspeter writes: The BBC reports that overnight an outage of Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform took down many third-party sites that rely on it, in addition to disrupting Microsoft's own products. Office 365 and Xbox Live services were affected.

    This happened at a particularly inopportune time, as Microsoft has recently been pushing its Azure services in an effort to catch up with other providers such as Amazon, IBM, and Google. Just a couple of hours previously, Microsoft had screened an Azure advert in the UK during the Scotland v. England soccer match."
    (Most services are back online. As of this writing, Application Insights is still struggling, and Europe is having problems with hosted VMs.)

    167 comments | about a month ago

  • Assassin's Creed: Unity Launch Debacle Pulls Spotlight Onto Game Review Embargos

    RogueyWon (735973) writes "The latest entry in the long-running Assassin's Creed game series, Assassin's Creed: Unity released this week. Those looking for pre-release reviews on whether to make a purchase were out of luck; the publisher, Ubisoft, had provided gaming sites with advance copies, but only on condition that their reviews be withheld until 17 hours after the game released in North America. Following the game's release, many players have reported finding it in a highly buggy state, with severe performance issues affecting all three release platforms (PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One). Ubisoft has been forced onto the defensive, taking the unprecedented step of launching a live-blog covering their efforts at debugging the game, but the debacle has already had a large impact on the company's share value and the incident has drawn widespread attention to the increasingly common practice of review embargoes."

    474 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • British Army Looking For Gamers For Their Smart-Tanks

    concertina226 writes The U.K. branch of global defense firm General Dynamics is working on a futuristic state-of-the-art smart-tank to replace the British Army's aging armored vehicle fleet, to be delivered to the Ministry of Defense in 2020. The Scout SV armored vehicle is the first fully-digitized armored fighting vehicle to have been built for the British Army, and is far bigger and more durable than any of its existing tanks, which are now at least 20 years old. The tank comes in six variants that can be customized with a tools for different missions, and has numerous sensors, cameras, and sights to offer real-time intelligence on weather conditions, target acquisition, and reconnaissance — all crucial battlefield data required by commanders to access and direct situations. "With the capability in the Scout SV, we're really looking for the type of people who play Xbox games – tech-savvy people who are able to take in a lot of information and process it in the proper way," says Kevin Connell, the vice president for General Dynamic UK's Land Systems Regiment.

    163 comments | about 2 months ago

  • New Microsoft Garage Site Invites Public To Test a Wide Range of App Ideas

    An anonymous reader writes Microsoft today launched a new section on its website: The Microsoft Garage is designed to give the public early access to various projects the company is testing right now. The team is kicking off with a total of 16 free consumer-facing apps, spanning Android, Android Wear, iOS, Windows Phone, Windows, and even the Xbox One. Microsoft Garage is still going to be everything it has been so far, but Microsoft has simply decided it's time for the public to get involved too: You can now test the wild projects the company's employees dream up.

    72 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Judge Says EA Battlefield 4 Execs Engaged In "Puffery," Not Fraud

    DemonOnIce writes with a story, as reported by Ars Technica, that a federal judge in San Francisco has dismissed a proposed securities fraud class action lawsuit connected to Battlefield 4's bungled rollout. From the report: EA and several top executives were sued in December and were accused of duping investors with their public statements and concealing issues with the first-person shooter game. The suit claimed executives were painting too rosy of a picture surrounding what ultimately would be Battlefield 4's disastrous debut on various gaming consoles beginning last October, including the next-generation Xbox One. But US District Judge Susan Illston of San Francisco said their comments about EA and the first-person shooter game were essentially protected corporate speak. "The Court agrees with defendants that all of the purported misstatements are inactionable statements of opinion, corporate optimism, or puffery," Illston ruled Monday.

    95 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Ubisoft Claims CPU Specs a Limiting Factor In Assassin's Creed Unity On Consoles

    MojoKid (1002251) writes A new interview with Assassin's Creed Unity senior producer Vincent Pontbriand has some gamers seeing red and others crying "told you so," after the developer revealed that the game's 900p framerate and 30 fps target on consoles is a result of weak CPU performance rather than GPU compute. "Technically we're CPU-bound," Pontbriand said. "The GPUs are really powerful, obviously the graphics look pretty good, but it's the CPU that has to process the AI, the number of NPCs we have on screen, all these systems running in parallel. We were quickly bottlenecked by that and it was a bit frustrating, because we thought that this was going to be a tenfold improvement over everything AI-wise..." This has been read by many as a rather damning referendum on the capabilities of AMD's APU that's under the hood of Sony's and Microsoft's new consoles. To some extent, that's justified; the Jaguar CPU inside both the Sony PS4 and Xbox One is a modest chip with a relatively low clock speed. Both consoles may offer eight CPU threads on paper, but games can't access all that headroom. One thread is reserved for the OS and a few more cores will be used for processing the 3D pipeline. Between the two, Ubisoft may have only had 4-5 cores for AI and other calculations — scarcely more than last gen, and the Xbox 360 and PS3 CPUs were clocked much faster than the 1.6 / 1.73GHz frequencies of their replacements.

    338 comments | about 3 months ago

  • Microsoft's "RoomAlive" Transforms Any Room Into a Giant Xbox Game

    An anonymous reader writes Microsoft has unveiled a new augmented reality experience called "RoomAlive". Using projectors and Kinect, RoomAlive allows for fully interactive gaming experiences that take up an entire 3D space. From the article: "RoomAlive builds on the familiar concepts of IllumiRoom, but pushes things a lot further by extending an Xbox gaming environment to an entire living room. It's a proof-of-concept demo, just like IllumiRoom, and it combines Kinect and projectors to create an augmented reality experience that is interactive inside a room. You can reach out and hit objects from a game, or interact with games through any surfaces of a room. RoomAlive tracks the position of a gamers head across all six Kinect sensors, to render content appropriately."

    66 comments | about 3 months ago

  • Linux 3.17 Kernel Released With Xbox One Controller Support

    An anonymous reader writes The Linux 3.17 kernel was officially released today. Linux 3.17 presents a number of new features that include working open-source AMD Hawaii GPU support, an Xbox One controller driver, free-fall support for Toshiba laptops, numerous ARM updates, and other changes.

    114 comments | about 3 months ago

  • How Hackers Accidentally Sold a Pre-Release XBox One To the FBI

    SpacemanukBEJY.53u (3309653) writes Earlier this week, an indictment was unsealed outlining a long list of charges against a group of men that stole intellectual property from gaming companies such as Epic Games, Valve, Activision and Microsoft. An Australian member of the group, Dylan Wheeler, describes how it was betrayed by an informant working for the FBI, which bought a hardware mockup of an Xbox One that the group built using source code stolen from Microsoft's Game Developer Network Portal. The device, which the FBI paid $5,000 for, was supposed to be sent to the Seychelles, but never arrived, which indicated the hacking collective had a mole.

    67 comments | about 3 months ago

  • Four Charged With Stealing Army Helicopter Training Software

    itwbennett writes: Four alleged members of an international computer hacking ring face charges in the U.S. of breaking into the computer networks of the U.S. Army and several tech companies and stealing several software packages, including programs used to train Army helicopter pilots, as well as software and data related to the Xbox One gaming console, the Xbox Live online gaming service and popular games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Gears of War 3.

    46 comments | about 3 months ago

  • Microsoft's Asimov System To Monitor Users' Machines In Real Time

    SmartAboutThings writes Microsoft will monitor users in the new Windows 9 Operating System in order to determine how the new OS is used, thus decide what tweaks and changes are need to be made. During Windows 8 testing, Microsoft said that they had data showing Start Menu usage had dropped, but it seems that the tools they were using at the time weren't as evolved as the new 'Asimov' monitor. The new system is codenamed 'Asimov' and will provide a near real-time view of what is happening on users' machines. Rest assured, the data is going to be obscured and aggregated, but intelligible enough to allow Microsoft to get detailed insights into user interactions with the OS. Mary Jo Foley says that the system was originally built by the Xbox Team and now is being used by the Windows team. Users who will download the technical preview of Windows 9, which is said to get unveiled today, will become 'power users' who will utilize the platform in unique scenarios. This will help Microsoft identify any odd bugs ahead of the final release.

    269 comments | about 3 months ago

  • Microsoft To Buy Minecraft Maker Mojang For $2.5 Billion

    jawtheshark writes The rumors were true. Mojang, the company behind Minecraft, is being sold to Microsoft. Of course, the promise is to keep all products supported as they are. From the article: "Microsoft said it has agreed to buy Mojang AB, the Swedish video game company behind the hit Minecraft game, boosting its mobile efforts and cementing control of another hit title for its Xbox console. Minecraft, which has notched about 50 million copies sold, will be purchased by Microsoft for $2.5 billion, the company said in a statement. The move marks the tech giant's most ambitious video game purchase and the largest acquisition for Satya Nadella, its new chief executive. Minecraft is more than a great game franchise - it is an open world platform, driven by a vibrant community we care deeply about, and rich with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft,' Nadella said in a statement."

    330 comments | about 3 months ago

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