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PlayStation (Games)

Why Lizard Squad Took Down PSN and Xbox Live On Christmas Day 240

Posted by samzenpus
from the ruining-it-for-everybody dept.
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."
PlayStation (Games)

Xbox Live and PlayStation Networks Downed By Apparent Attack 152

Posted by timothy
from the no-fun-for-you dept.
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.
Android

Nokia's Back In the Tablet Business, With the Android Lollipop-Based N1 45

Posted by timothy
from the serious-side-talkin' dept.
Esra Erimez writes It's been a little over a year since the announcement of Microsoft Corp.'s acquisition of Finnish tech veteran Nokia Oyj.'s Devices unit. A year later Chinese leaks site SINA Tech says Nokia is back and ready to compete against its former unit, suggesting it will launch in China on Jan. 7. As one commenter on the Daily Tech story points out (as does this ExtremeTech article from last month), the not-yet-launched N1, with its "one piece aluminum body, 7.9", 2048*1536, [and] 3:4 aspect ratio" looks an awful lot like the iPad mini, but costs quite a bit less.
Government

North Korean Defector Spills Details On the Country's Elite Hacking Force 153

Posted by timothy
from the can't-hack-in-here-this-is-the-hacking-room dept.
mattydread23 writes Business Insider interviewed Jang Se-yul, a North Korean defector who trained in the country's Mirim University alongside some of the hackers who make up its elite Bureau 121 hacking squad. He explains how they train: 'They take six 90-minute classes every day, learning different coding languages and operating systems, from C to Linux. Jang says a lot of time was spent dissecting Microsoft programs, like the Windows operating system, and how to attack the overall computer IT systems of enemy countries like the U.S. or South Korea.' He also explains that these hackers are among the elite in North Korea, and even though they have unfiltered information about the outside world that their countrymen lack, most of them would never dream of leaving. (See also this story from earlier this month about the life of North Korea's elite hackers.)
Sony

Sony To Release the Interview Online Today; Apple Won't Play Ball 225

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-it-now dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC reports: "Sony Pictures is to distribute its film The Interview online, after a cyber-attack and a row over its release. The film will be offered on a dedicated website — seetheinterview.com — as well as via Google and Microsoft services." Notably absent among the services to provide The Interview is Apple. The New York Times reports: "According to people briefed on the matter, Sony had in recent days asked the White House for help in lining up a single technology partner — Apple, which operates iTunes — but the tech company was not interested, at least not on a speedy time table. An Apple spokesman declined to comment. "
Google

The History of the NORAD/Microsoft and Google Santa Trackers 57

Posted by Soulskill
from the NSA-only-has-santa-metadata dept.
theodp writes: Marketing Land's Danny Sullivan has a pretty epic post on How Google Became A Santa Tracker Tradition To Rival NORAD, and wonders if future generations will think of Santa tracking as synonymous with Google, just as past ones have felt about NORAD. Until it split with Google in 2012 (for unknown reasons) and hooked up with Microsoft, Sullivan explains, NORAD had really been the only place to go for a serious, dependable Santa tracking service. "There's a big part of me that wishes Google had gotten out of Santa tracking when it split from NORAD," says Sullivan of the divorce. "The NORAD Santa tracker brings back memories from my childhood; it brings back memories of me being a father with young kids checking in on Santa's progress. In contrast, Google feels to me like an upstart interloper messing with my nostalgic memories. But maybe Google's a welcome alternative to others. It's not uncommon to see the occasional complaint about a NORAD "Santa Cam" video showing Santa being accompanied by fighter jets. Some might prefer a Santa tracker that's not connected to a military organization. Of course, some might not feel one connected to a giant company is necessarily preferable. Part of me is also sad that when I go to NORAD's own site, I get a big Internet Explorer icon in the top right corner, which effectively opens up an ad for Microsoft. I guess I feel it's too blatant. Of course, complaining about the commercialization of something Christmas-related, I suppose, is kind of useless." Sullivan adds, "Overall, I'm thankful to the many people who are involved with both operations [NORAD Tracks Santa and Google Santa Tracker], who work hard to make children smile on Christmas Eve.""
First Person Shooters (Games)

Human Eye's Oscillation Rate Determines Smooth Frame Rate 178

Posted by Soulskill
from the subtle-yet-obvious dept.
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.
Android

De-escalating the Android Patent War 60

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-we-all-just-bilk-the-USPTO-together dept.
In 2011, a consortium formed from Microsoft, Apple, Sony, BlackBerry, and others spent $4.5 billion acquiring Nortel's patent portfolio, which contained a great deal of ammunition that could be used against Android. That threat has now been reduced. Today, 4,000 of the patents were purchased by a corporation called RPX, which has licensing agreements from Google, Cisco, and dozens more companies. [RPX is] a company that collects a bunch of patents with the goal of using those patents for member companies for defensive purposes. Even though RPX has generally been "good," the business model basically lives because of patent trolling. Its very existence is because of all the patent trolling and abuse out there. In this case, though, it's making sure that basically anyone can license these patents under FRAND (fair and reasonable, non-discriminatory) rates. The price being paid is approximately $900 million. While that article points out that this is considerably less than the $4.5 billion Microsoft and Apple paid originally, again, this is only 4,000 of the 6,000 patents, and you have to assume the 2,000 the other companies kept were the really valuable patents. In short, this is basically Google and Cisco (with some help from a few others) licensing these patents to stop the majority of the lawsuits -- while also making sure that others can pay in as well should they feel threatened. Of course, Microsoft, Apple and the others still have control over the really good patents they kept for themselves, rather than give to Rockstar. And the whole thing does nothing for innovation other than shift around some money.
Communications

The Slow Death of Voice Mail 234

Posted by Soulskill
from the at-the-tone,-please-hang-up-and-send-me-an-email dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Duane D. Stanford reports at Bloomberg that Coca-Cola's Atlanta Headquarters is the latest big company to ditch its old-style voice mail, which requires users to push buttons to scroll through messages and listen to them one at a time. The change went into effect this month, and a standard outgoing message now throws up an electronic stiff arm, telling callers to try later or use "an alternative method" to contact the person. Techies have predicted the death of voice mail for years as smartphones co-opt much of the office work once performed by telephones and desktop computers. Younger employees who came of age texting while largely ignoring voice mail are bringing that habit into the workforce. "People north of 40 are schizophrenic about voice mail," says Michael Schrage. "People under 35 scarcely ever use it." Companies are increasingly combining telephone, e-mail, text and video systems into unified Internet-based systems that eliminate overlap. "Many people in many corporations simply don't have the time or desire to spend 25 minutes plowing through a stack of 15 to 25 voice mails at the end or beginning of the day," says Schrage.

In 2012, Vonage reported its year-over-year voicemail volumes dropped 8%. More revealing, the number of people bothering to retrieve those messages plummeted 14%. More and more personal and corporate voicemail boxes now warn callers that their messages are rarely retrieved and that they're better off sending emails or texts. "The truly productive have effectively abandoned voicemail, preferring to visually track who's called them on their mobiles," concludes Schrage. "A communications medium that was once essential has become as clunky and irrelevant as Microsoft DOS and carbon paper."
Games

Minecraft Creator Notch's $70 Million Mansion Recreated In Minecraft 170

Posted by samzenpus
from the almost-like-the-real-thing dept.
theodp writes In case you've fallen behind on your TMZ reading, Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson used his Microsoft money to outbid Beyonce and Jay Z for the most expensive mansion in Beverly Hills. Now, the Minecraft mogul's new $70 million mega-mansion has been recreated inside the game that made him rich.
Microsoft

Ask Slashdot: Is an Open Source .NET Up To the Job? 419

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-steps-or-irrelevant-steps dept.
Rob Y. writes: The discussion on Slashdot about Microsoft's move to open source .NET core has centered on:

1. whether this means Microsoft is no longer the enemy of the open source movement
2. if not, then does it mean Microsoft has so lost in the web server arena that it's resorting to desperate moves.
3. or nah — it's standard Microsoft operating procedure. Embrace, extend, extinguish.

What I'd like to ask is whether anybody that's not currently a .NET fan actually wants to use it? Open source or not. What is the competition? Java? PHP? Ruby? Node.js? All of the above? Anything but Microsoft? Because as an OSS advocate, I see only one serious reason to even consider using it — standardization. Any of those competing platforms could be as good or better, but the problem is: how to get a job in this industry when there are so many massively complex platforms out there. I'm still coding in C, and at 62, will probably live out my working days doing that. But I can still remember when learning a new programming language was no big deal. Even C required learning a fairly large library to make it useful, but it's nothing compared to what's out there today. And worse, jobs (and technologies) don't last like they used to. Odds are, in a few years, you'll be starting over in yet another job where they use something else.

Employers love standardization. Choosing a standard means you can't be blamed for your choice. Choosing a standard means you can recruit young, cheap developers and actually get some output from them before they move on. Or you can outsource with some hope of success (because that's what outsourcing firms do — recruit young, cheap devs and rotate them around). To me, those are red flags — not pluses at all. But they're undeniable pluses to greedy employers. Of course, there's much more to being an effective developer than knowing the platform so you can be easily slotted in to a project. But try telling that to the private equity guys running too much of the show these days.

So, assuming Microsoft is sincere about this open source move,
1. Is .NET up to the job?
2. Is there an open source choice today that's popular enough to be considered the standard that employers would like?
3. If the answer to 1 is yes and 2 is no, make the argument for avoiding .NET.
Crime

65,000 Complaints Later, Microsoft Files Suit Against Tech Support Scammers 245

Posted by timothy
from the not-enough-acid-in-the-world dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes Tech support scammers have been around for a long time and are familiar to most Slashdot readers. But last month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it had issued lawsuits against several culprits responsible for tech support scams. Now Microsoft has announced that it too is going after tech support scammers. According to the company, more than 65,000 complaints have been made about tech support scams since May of this year alone. Bogus technicians, pretending to represent Microsoft, call the house offering fake tech support and trick people into paying hundreds of dollars to solve a non-existent issue. If successful in their ruse, the scammer then gains access to a person's computer, which lets them steal personal and financial information and even install malware. I managed to keep one of these guys on the phone for about 20 minutes while I stumbled through his directions, over and over, "rebooting," pretending to be using Windows, etc; the next one caught on more quickly. Have they called you? If so, how did the call go?
Security

Critical Git Security Vulnerability Announced 148

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
An anonymous reader writes Github has announced a security vulnerability and has encouraged users to update their Git clients as soon as possible. The blog post reads in part: "A critical Git security vulnerability has been announced today, affecting all versions of the official Git client and all related software that interacts with Git repositories, including GitHub for Windows and GitHub for Mac. Because this is a client-side only vulnerability, github.com and GitHub Enterprise are not directly affected. The vulnerability concerns Git and Git-compatible clients that access Git repositories in a case-insensitive or case-normalizing filesystem. An attacker can craft a malicious Git tree that will cause Git to overwrite its own .git/config file when cloning or checking out a repository, leading to arbitrary command execution in the client machine. Git clients running on OS X (HFS+) or any version of Microsoft Windows (NTFS, FAT) are exploitable through this vulnerability. Linux clients are not affected if they run in a case-sensitive filesystem....Updated versions of GitHub for Windows and GitHub for Mac are available for immediate download, and both contain the security fix on the Desktop application itself and on the bundled version of the Git command-line client."
AI

Ars Reviews Skype Translator 71

Posted by timothy
from the in-the-future-everyone-will-have-been-in-the-past dept.
Esra Erimez writes Peter Bright doesn't speak a word of Spanish but with Skype Translator he was able to have a spoken conversation with a Spanish speaker as if he was in an episode of Star Trek. He spoke English. A moment later, an English language transcription would appear, along with a Spanish translation. Then a Spanish voice would read that translation.
Hardware Hacking

Extracting Data From the Microsoft Band 51

Posted by timothy
from the buncha-freeloaders dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Microsoft Band, introduced last month, hosts a slew of amazing sensors, but like so many wearable computing devices, users are unable to access their own data. A Brown University professor decompiles the app, finds that the data is transmitted to the Microsoft "cloud", and explains how to intercept the traffic to retrieve the raw minute-by-minute data captured by the Band.
Australia

Over 9,000 PCs In Australia Infected By TorrentLocker Ransomware 83

Posted by samzenpus
from the cash-for-corrupted-computers dept.
First time accepted submitter River Tam writes Cybercriminals behind the TorrenLocker malware may have earned as much as $585,000 over several months from 39,000 PC infections worldwide, of which over 9,000 were from Australia. If you're a Windows user in Australia who's had their files encrypted by hackers after visiting a bogus Australia Post website, chances are you were infected by TorrentLocker and may have contributed to the tens of thousands of dollars likely to have come from Australia due to this digital shakedown racket.
Open Source

What Will Microsoft's "Embrace" of Open Source Actually Achieve? 217

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-them-closer dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes Back in the day, Microsoft viewed open source and Linux as a threat and did its best to retaliate with FUD and patent threats. And then a funny thing happened: Whether in the name of pragmatism or simply marketing, Microsoft began a very public transition from a company of open-source haters (at least in top management) to one that's embraced some aspects of open-source computing. Last month, the company blogged that .NET Core will become open-source, adding to its previously open-sourced ASP.NET MVC, Web API, and Web Pages (Razor). There's no doubt that, at least in some respects, Microsoft wants to make a big show of being more open and supportive of interoperability. The company's even gotten involved with the .NET Foundation, an independent organization designed to assist developers with the growing collection of open-source technologies for .NET. But there's only so far Microsoft will go into the realm of open source—whereas once upon a time, the company tried to wreck the movement, now it faces the very real danger of its whole revenue model being undermined by free software. But what's Microsoft's end-goal with open source? What can the company possibly hope to accomplish, given a widespread perception that such a move on its part is the product of either fear, cynicism, or both?
Programming

New AP Course, "Computer Science Principles," Aims To Make CS More Accessible 208

Posted by Soulskill
from the broadening-the-base dept.
theodp writes: "CS Principles," explains the intro to a Microsoft Research talk on a new Computer Science Toolkit and Gaming Course, "is a new AP course being piloted across the country and by making it more accessible to students we can help increase diversity in computing." Towards this end, Microsoft has developed "a middle school computing toolkit, and a high school CS Principles & Games course." These two projects were "developed specifically for girls," explains Microsoft, and are part of the corporation's Big Dream Movement for girls, which is partnering with the UN, White House, NSF, EU Commission, and others. One of Microsoft's particular goals is to "reach every individual girl in her house." According to a document on its website, Microsoft Research's other plans for Bridging the Gender Gap in computing include a partnership with the University of Wisconsin "to create a girls-only computer science Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)."
The Courts

Apple Wins iTunes DRM Case 191

Posted by Soulskill
from the drm-protected-history-is-written-by-the-victors dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that Apple's iTunes DRM case has already been decided. The 8-person jury took only a few hours to decide that the features introduced in iTunes 7.0 were good for consumers and did not violate antitrust laws. Following the decision, the plaintiff's head attorney Patrick Coughlin said an appeal is already planned. He also expressed frustrations over getting two of the security features — one that checks the iTunes database, and another that checks each song on the iPod itself — lumped together with the other user-facing features in the iTunes 7.0 update, like support for movies and games. "At least we got a chance to get it in front of the jury," he told reporters. ... All along, Apple's made the case that its music store, jukebox software, and hardware was simply an integrated system similar to video game consoles from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. It built all those pieces to work together, and thus it would be unusual to expect any one piece from another company to work without issues, Apple's attorneys said. But more importantly, Apple offered, any the evolution of its DRM that ended up locking out competitors was absolutely necessary given deals it had with the major record companies to patch security holes.
Privacy

Microsoft Gets Industry Support Against US Search Of Data In Ireland 137

Posted by timothy
from the encrypt-what-you-must dept.
An anonymous reader writes Tech giants such as Apple and eBay have given their support in Microsoft's legal battle against the U.S. government regarding the handing over of data stored in an Irish datacenter. In connection with a 2014 drugs investigation, U.S. prosecutors issued a warrant for emails stored by Microsoft in Ireland. The firm refused to hand over the information, but in July was ordered by a judge to comply with the investigation. Microsoft has today filed a collection of letters from industry supporters, such as Apple, eBay, Cisco, Amazon, HP, and Verizon. Trade associations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Digital Rights Ireland have also expressed their support.

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