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Microsoft

How Machine Learning Ate Microsoft 93

Posted by samzenpus
from the doing-it-smarter dept.
snydeq writes Yesterday's announcement of Azure Machine Learning offers the latest sign of Microsoft's deep machine learning expertise — now available to developers everywhere, InfoWorld reports. "Machine learning has infiltrated Microsoft products from Bing to Office to Windows 8 to Xbox games. Its flashiest vehicle may be the futuristic Skype Translator, which handles two-way voice conversations in different languages. Now, with machine learning available on the Azure cloud, developers can build learning capabilities into their own applications: recommendations, sentiment analysis, fraud detection, fault prediction, and more. The idea of the new Azure offering is to democratize machine learning, so you no longer need to hire someone with a doctorate to use a machine learning algorithm."
Privacy

Gadgets That Spy On Us: Way More Than TVs 127

Posted by timothy
from the it-looks-like-you're-writing-a-letter dept.
Presto Vivace writes with a reminder that it's not just Samsung TVslots of other gadgets are spying on you "But Samsung's televisions are far from the only seeing-and-listening devices coming into our lives. If we're going to freak out about a Samsung TV that listens in on our living rooms, we should also be panicking about a number of other emergent gadgets that capture voice and visual data in many of the same ways. .... Samsung's competitor, the LG Smart TV, has basically the same phrase about voice capture in its privacy policy: "Please be aware that if your spoken word includes personal or other sensitive information, such information will be among the Voice Information captured through your use of voice recognition features." It isn't just TVs, Microsoft's xBox Kinect, Amazon Echo, GM's Onstar, Chevrolet's MyLink and PDRs, Google's Waze, and Hello's Sense all have snooping capabilities. Welcome to the world of Stasi Tech.
Microsoft

Will Every Xbox Be a Dev Kit? 69

Posted by samzenpus
from the working-it-out dept.
jfruh writes There were a lot of rumored features of the Xbox One that vanished after public outcry — that it would need an always-on Internet connection, for instance. But another rumor from that era was that every Xbox One sold would include a dev kit that would allow anyone to create games — and it looks like this is one dream that might be coming true soon.
AI

The Uncanny Valley of Voice Recognition 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the siri-do-these-pants-make-me-look-fat? dept.
An anonymous reader writes: We've often seen the term "uncanny valley" applied to the field of robotics — it's easy to get unsettled when robots act close to being human, yet fail completely in a few key ways. GitHub Engineer Zach Holman writes that we've now reached uncanny valley territory in speech recognition as well, though the results are more frustrating than they are disturbing. He says, "Part of this frustration is the user interface itself is less standardized than the desktop or mobile device UI you're used to. Even the basic terminology can feel pretty inconsistent if you're jumping back and forth between platforms.

Siri aims to be completely conversational: Do you think the freshman Congressman from California's Twelfth deserved to sit on HUAC, and how did that impact his future relationship with J. Edgar? Xbox One is basically an oral command line interface, of the form: Xbox (direct object). ...it's these inconsistencies that are frustrating as you jump back and forth between devices. And we're only going to scale this up."
Security

Lizard Squad Hits Malaysia Airlines Website 41

Posted by Soulskill
from the kicking-them-when-they're-down dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Lizard Squad, the hacking collaborative that went after the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, and the North Korean internet last year, has now targeted Malaysia Airlines with an attack. Bloomberg links to images of the hacks (including the rather heartless 404 jab on its home page) and columnist Adam Minter wonders why Malaysia Airlines, which has had so much bad press in the past 12 months, was worthy of Lizard Squad's ire. In apparent answer, @LizardMafia (the org's reputed Twitter handle) messaged Mr. Minter this morning: "More to come soon. Side Note: We're still organizing the @MAS email dump, stay tuned for that."
Microsoft

Hands On With Microsoft's Holographic Goggles 171

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-it-out dept.
First time accepted submitter mkukuluk writes Forget Google Glass — Jessi Hempel describes the amazing experience she had with the new Holographic goggles from Microsoft. From the article: "The headset is still a prototype being developed under the codename Project Baraboo, or sometimes just “B.” [inventor Alex] Kipman, with shoulder-length hair and severely cropped bangs, is a nervous inventor, shifting from one red Converse All-Star to the other. Nervous, because he’s been working on this pair of holographic goggles for five years. No, even longer. Seven years, if you go back to the idea he first pitched to Microsoft, which became Kinect. When the motion-sensing Xbox accessory was released, just in time for the 2010 holidays, it became the fastest-selling consumer gaming device of all time. Right from the start, he makes it clear that Baraboo will make Kinect seem minor league."
Hardware Hacking

Engineer Combines Xbox One, PS4 Into Epic 'PlayBox' Laptop 78

Posted by timothy
from the bipartisan dept.
MojoKid writes We can finally stop arguing over which is the superior game console, the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Quite frankly, it's a pointless debate, and it took a self-taught engineer to put the argument to rest, which he did by combining both game systems into a 22-inch laptop. Meet the "PlayBox," a gaming laptop that's equal parts Xbox One and PS4 rolled into one. The PlayBox wins the argument because it allows you to play games on either system, and when it comes down to it, the ability to play games is all that matters. Built for a "specific customer," the owner of this prototype system needn't worry about exclusives since he now has a system that can play them all, and do it while taking up no more space than a single console.
Crime

UK Suspect Arrested In Connection With PSN/XBL 'Lizard Squad' Attacks 55

Posted by timothy
from the just-a-bit-of-fun dept.
Dave Knott writes UK Police have arrested an 18-year-old man over involvement in the cyber-attacks on Sony's PlayStation Network and Microsoft's Xbox Live gaming services over Christmas, for which the Lizard Squad hacking group claimed responsibility. The man was arrested Friday in Southport, England, on suspicion of computer hacking, threats to kill and swatting. Computers and other electronic devices were seized during the arrest by officers from two UK cybercrime units working in conjunction with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. A spokesman said that police were still in the early stages of an investigation working closely with the FBI to identify further people involved in the attacks.
Sony

After Outage, Sony Makes Peace Offering To Users of PlayStation Network 95

Posted by samzenpus
from the sorry-for-your-trouble dept.
An anonymous reader notes that Sony is offering deals to make up for the downtime over Christmas. "PlayStation Network gamers didn't have such a happy holiday thanks to the reported handiwork of some hackers, so Sony is hoping to appease users of its online gaming service with promises of deals and discounts. For Playstation Plus subscribers, Sony is offering a 5-day membership extension, and for all members, a 10 percent discount at the PlayStation store, according to a blog post published Thursday. The PlayStation Network is Sony's online service for its PlayStation game console. Both PSN and Microsoft's online gaming service, Xbox Live, were intermittently offline beginning on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Xbox Live came back online first, with PSN following Saturday night."
Hardware Hacking

Hackers Leak Xbox One SDK Claiming Advancement In Openness and Homebrew 86

Posted by samzenpus
from the open-it-up dept.
MojoKid writes Microsoft, it seems, just can't catch a break. Days after a major hack took its servers offline on Christmas day, and after being lambasted in multiple stories for shipping games like Halo: The Master Chief Collection in nigh-unplayable condition, the company's Xbox One SDK has been leaked to the public by a group calling itself H4LT. H4LT, which apparently objects to being called a hacker group, offered this explanation when asked why it was distributing the SDK. The group claims that "the SDK will basically allow the community to reverse and open doors towards homebrew applications being present on the Xbox One." To be clear, what H4LT has done is a far cry from groups like Lizard Squad. The SDK for any given product is typically available behind some degree of registration, but they don't necessarily cost anything. The SDK is one small component of creating the ecosystem that would be necessary to get homebrew up and running on the platform. Whether or not users will ever pull it off is another question.
Crime

Finnish KRP Questions Suspected Lizard Squad Member 62

Posted by timothy
from the breaking-off-the-tail dept.
An anonymous reader writes Coming on the heels of the UK arrest of Vinnie Omari, Yle reports that Finnish police have interviewed "Ryan", the Finland-based hacker reportedly responsible for hacking the PlayStation and Xbox networks on Christmas day, but have not arrested him — contrary to reports in the international media (such as Washington Post). Lizard Squad had tweeted that the Finland-based hacker had been detained. Chief Inspector Tero Muurman of Keskusrikospoliisi (Finnish National Bureau of Investigation) confirmed Yle that reports of "Ryan" having been detained were wide of the mark. He had been interviewed at the start of the week, but then released. Finnish police are continuing their probe and co-operating closely with the FBI.
Crime

UK Arrest Over Xbox Live and Playstation Network Outages 86

Posted by timothy
from the but-officer-I-was-having-fun dept.
An anonymous reader writes Neowin.net is reporting the arrest of one Vincent Omari, a UK citizen [see also this Daily Mail story from a few days ago mentioning Omari], in the Christmas Day DDoS attacks on Sony's PSN and Microsoft's XBL systems: "In documents sent to Neowin, Vinnie Omari has been accused of 'hacking of the Playstation Network and Xbox Live systems over the Christmas Period'... While this is the first arrest related to the recent service disruptions, it may not be the last... In further conversations with those who are familiar with the investigation and the arrest, Omari believes that the police will not find anything of substance on his computers. His alleged crime is that he helped coordinate the DDOS attack on the service."
Advertising

Lizard Squad: Xbox Live, PSN Attacks Were a 'Marketing Scheme' For DDoS Service 139

Posted by timothy
from the now-how-much-would-you-pay? dept.
blottsie writes The devastating Christmas Day attacks against the gaming networks of Sony and Microsoft were a marketing scheme for a commercial cyberattack service, according to the hackers claiming responsibility for the attacks. Known as Lizard Squad, the hacker collective says it shut down the PlayStation Network (PSN) and Xbox Live network on Dec. 25 using a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, a common technique that overloads servers with data requests. The powerful attacks rendered the networks unusable for days, infuriating gamers around the world and causing yet-untold losses of revenue. Now, members of Lizard Squad say the group is selling the DDoS service they used against Sony and Microsoft to anyone willing to pay.
XBox (Games)

FBI Allegedly Investigating Lizard Squad Member Over Xbox Live, PSN Attacks 78

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-to-blame dept.
blottsie writes The FBI is actively investigating a member of the hacker collective that claimed responsibility for recent high-profile cyberattacks on Microsoft and Sony properties, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the investigation and the attacks. A member of the Lizard Squad hacking group, who goes by the alias "ryanc" or Ryan, allegedly garnered the attention of a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation after speaking with the media about Lizard Squad's Christmas-day attacks on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network.
Communications

Lizard Squad Targets Tor 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the reasons-"torget"-should-be-a-word dept.
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."
PlayStation (Games)

Why Lizard Squad Took Down PSN and Xbox Live On Christmas Day 336

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 160

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.
First Person Shooters (Games)

Human Eye's Oscillation Rate Determines Smooth Frame Rate 187

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.
Robotics

Telepresence Store Staffed Remotely Using Robots 52

Posted by Soulskill
from the meatspace-as-a-service dept.
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.
Bitcoin

Microsoft Quietly Starts Accepting Bitcoin As Payment Method 107

Posted by timothy
from the some-drop-out's-startup dept.
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.