Today is one of the days where most calls are made and most messages are sent, and that goes for the whole world. Traditionally people have been using the normal phone connections and the SMS features of their phones. With the modern times come new possibilities and new services, and I’m naturally talking about Instant Message (IM) services such as WhatsApp and Skype. But users of WhatsApp might have a tough time using their favourite app to send out New Years greetings as users report of the service being down over most of the world.
It started out with reports around 4 pm this afternoon with trouble in the UK and Europe in general. It has since then become worse and users from all over the world are reporting trouble with the service. Asia reports of the service being down most places and the same reports come in from African and South American users. Users can’t connect and those that manage to login can’t get their messages to send. Some users have also posted comparison screenshot of sent and received video chats that show some of the trouble before the entire network collapsed. That feature is however still in beta testing as far as I know, I’m not a WhatsApp user myself.
It is currently unknown what has happened and if it just was a normal overload or someone actively is attacking the network, but you might want to find another service to send out your greetings and especially not rely on this service for important messages from friends such as where to meet up in town later tonight. But then it is good that we have so many other options that work on the computer too and not just on the cell phone, such as Facebook messages, Google’s Hangout, Skype, and many more.
The service was initially restored after just 45 minutes of downtime. However, it quickly crashed again and has been nothing but trouble since then. Have you been affected by the WhatsApp outtake or couldn’t you care less? Let us know in the comments. Below are some comments about the outtake from Twitter and you can find many more hilarious ones if you should have a boring night with nothing else to do.
The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, the controversial bill that allows intelligence agencies the power to obtain user data from companies beyond the rule of law, was signed off by President Obama a fortnight ago after being forcibly bundled with a vital Federal funding bill – together known as the “Omnibus” bill – that was guaranteed to pass. One man, however, intends to challenge this chicanery, even if he has to do it alone.
Republican Congressman Justin Amash plans to introduce legislation to remove the controversial CISA from the Omnibus bill, branding it “unconstitutional”:
When I return to DC, I'm going to introduce legislation to repeal the unconstitutional cyberspying bill that was enacted with the #omnibus.
Amash has been a vocal opponent of CISA ever since the bill was muted, even before it formed a part of the Omnibus bill, branding it “anti-privacy legislation.” While Congress ultimately passed the bill, the Congressman – who also opposed the Patriot Act and failed in an attempt to strip powers from the NSA following the Snowden leaks in 2013 – feels he has a right to at least challenge its inclusion in Omnibus when reconvenes in January.
2015 was the year that cable TV companies could no longer dismiss ‘cord cutting’ – eschewing traditional television services in favour of new online alternatives, both legal and illegal – as a fad. US cable providers lost 4.9 million customers last year with that figure expected to jump by 12.5% in 2016, and that’s not counting the scores of young people who have grown up with online services and have no intention of ever signing up for cable packages. Wall Street has taken notice, too late, with billions lost over the last half-decade. Cord cutting is a real threat to old media, and it’s only going to become more popular.
How are the cable companies responding to this crisis? How do they intend to attract back old customers and tempt new young consumer? By putting their prices up, of course. From January 2016, AT&T, Verizon, Dish, DirecTV, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable will all be putting up their rates, by between $2 and $10 a month.
“Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider, announced earlier this month that subscribers nationwide will see prices go up an average of 3.9 percent, and increases already have taken effect in some markets. The company will also hike its “broadcast TV fee” by 66 percent from $3 a month to $5. This relatively new fee covers the cost of retransmission fees that over-the-air broadcast TV networks like CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX charge cable companies for redistributing their networks on pay-TV systems.”
The cable providers are justifying the price rise as necessary to cover the cost of its programming. In other words, the companies are losing customers, and therefore revenue, and yet the programming output remains the same. Therefore, existing customers are having to pick up the slack left by cord cutters who have jumped ship:
“Cable and satellite companies say the higher prices cover some but not all of the higher programming costs. The amount that Time Warner Cable pays local broadcast channels has risen 85 percent in the past two years, while its costs for carrying sports networks have increased 116 percent since 2008, according to spokesman Bobby Amirshahi.”
71% of cord cutters attest to moving away from cable subscriptions due to rising costs. As ever, old media is too entrenched in its stubborn methods to turn that shotgun away from its own foot.
We sadly live in a world where everyone can sue everyone for almost anything. This happens a lot and sometimes the lawsuits have more claim than other times. The latest one is one that is hard to place and I think it will end up as a tough call in the courtroom. Warner Bros, CBS, Fox, Chock Lorre, and Turner Broadcasting are among the targets in a new lawsuit against The Big Bang Theory and more specific, the Soft Kittie usage.
The original author of the nursery rhyme isn’t around anymore, but the authors children Ellen and Margaret are suing pretty much anyone involved with the show over the use of the nursery rhyme. The plaintiffs seek damages and profits as well as their attorney fees covered as part of the lawsuit where they say that they never been asked for permission and no royalties have been paid for the use of the by-now famous Soft Kitty rhyme.
The lawsuit was filed on Monday in the Southern District of New York, claiming that the lyrical rights clearly belonged to author and copyright owner Edith Newlin, and that the accused “never contacted or made any attempt to contact Edith Newlin or her successors to seek permission to use the Soft Kitty Lyrics, and Plaintiffs never granted any permission … to do so.”
So far everything seems pretty straight forward, the accused are guilty. But it is rarely that straightforward and especially not when we’re dealing with laws and rights.
Warner Bros bought the rights to use the song from Willis Music back in 2007, which pretty much clears them. Originally the lyrics ran in a Willis compilation called Songs for the Nursery School back in 1937, but that was only on a loan basis and Willis did not obtain any rights besides for that usage. So they technically didn’t have the rights to sell at all. The song, or rhyme, has been used in at least eight episodes of the show, with only slight tweaks, the lawsuit states.
If it was just about a few royalties, then I’m sure that Warner Bros could end the whole thing very quickly, but there’s more trouble. The Soft Kitty song has become somewhat legend and that has been exploited in promotions, advertising, and fan articles. That part makes the whole deal a lot more tricky. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, if we get a verdict at all or if they two parties find an outside agreement.
Earphones, while compact and convenient, don’t get along with everyone. The generic moulds that accompany most consumer in-ear headphones do not fit everybody, and the few custom fit options that are available are prohibitively expensive for most, costing upwards of $1,000/£1,500. A recent Kickstarter, though, hopes to bring a cheaper alternative to traditional custom methods with the Revol Quick Custom-Fit Wireless Earphones.
The Revol – which at time of writing has smashed its $100,000 goal, raising $1,514,008 with seven days still to run – uses a moulding technique to create a perfect fit for your ear that you yourself control, using a companion phone app. The moulding process takes just 60 seconds, leaving the nano-composite gel ergonomically shaped to fit your ear.
The Early Bird Specials have now sold out, so if you’d like to support the Kickstarter and get yourself a pair of Revol Quick Custom-Fit Wireless Earphones, you will need to pledge at least $199. While hardly an insignificant amount of money, the Revol is certainly cheaper than other custom fit earphone options.
For that money, you will receive:
“A pair of Revols earphones (choice of black or white) + 2 sets of molding tips + 1 carrying case + 1 Revive battery pack + 1 charging cable + 2 sports skins (black or white & Kickstarter green) + 2 cable management discs.”
The Revol Quick Custom-Fit Wireless Earphones are slated to ship to Kickstarter backers from June 2016. There is no news yet on a consumer edition being launched.
We’ve mostly seen BIOSTAR motherboards in the HiFi series lately with their characteristic piano styled heatsinks, but BIOSTAR’s next generation of motherboards come with a new theme: Racing. The first motherboards in the new BIOSTAR Racing series are the Z170GT7, H170GT3, and B150GT5 where the names already reveal the chipsets used: Z170, H170, and B150 respectively.
BIOSTAR is mostly known as a budget manufacturer, but they use some high-quality components as these new motherboards also prove. They come with Super Durable Ferrite chokes for high-quality power delivery to vital components, Super Durable Solid Caps for longer-lasting performance, and DUAL BIOS that guarantees resilient motherboard operation if the BIOS should fail. All three come with Intel LAN and the storage options include the new and faster SATA-Express and PCI-e M.2 slots for use with the newest storage drives on the market.
Just because these boards don’t come in the HiFi series, doesn’t mean that the Racing series doesn’t have good audio components and they also come with BIOSTAR’s signature HI-FI audio experience. The motherboards feature an I/O Armor to give the system a better look and also comes with customizable LED effects. You expand your chassis and increase the lighting abilities thanks to the onboard 5050-header for LED strips and then control it via the included VIVID LED DJ.
Besides what I’ve already mentioned, you get a new 100 series motherboard with the features that this brings along, such as plenty of USB connections from 2.0 to 3.1, Intel i217 LAN, plenty of storage connectivity, and four DDR4 DIMM slots along with BIOSTAR’s BIO-Remote 2 and online BIOS update functions that both are extremely useful.
The new BIOSTAR Racing Series is built on what they call the BIOSTAR 6+ Experience and it is composed out of six main features: Speed+, Audio+, Video+, Durable+, Protection+ and DIY+. All things that matter.
BIOSTAR didn’t reveal any pricing at this time but expect them to be cheaper than the average board in the same categories. Sadly there weren’t more photos provided and the official product pages haven’t launched yet, but I’m sure that we’ll see a lot more on these board during CES 2016.
The impression of terrorists in the current age as shady types who make use of encryption and anonymizing services to meticulously plan devastating attacks. In the case of Mohammed Rehman and his wife, Sana Ahmed Khan, this was not true. The couple was arrested and found guilty in the Old Bailey court on counts of preparing an act of terrorism. These plans of terrorism were uncovered by an undercover police investigator who saw Rehman posting publicly on Twitter asking for advice on what location in London he should target.
Mohammed Rehman and his wife had planned to commemorate the 7/7 attacks in London, 10 years on, by executing an attack on either the London Underground or Westfield Shopping centre. Either of this attacks would have had the potential for massive casualties. He seemed to make no effort to hide his online activities, with evidence found of him searching Youtube for footage of the London bombings and searched for information on his ‘beloved predecessor’ Shehzad Tanweer, one of the 7/7 bombers. Neither Rehman nor his wife made use of encryption or tools such as the dark web to plan their attack.
Rehman went under the Twitter name “Silent Bomber”, with the handle “@InServiceToGodd”. The profile even went one step further, with the bio reading: “Learn how to make powerful explosives from the comfort of ones’ bedroom.” Back in May, Rehman used the account to post to his followers “Westfield shopping centre or London underground?” he asked. “Any advice would be appreciated greatly.” He also included a link to an Al-Quida press release regarding the 7/7 attacks from 2005. He seemed to make no secret of his plans for terrorism, telling one Twiter user “Why don’t you head to the London Underground on the 7th July if you got the balls.” The account has since been suspended by Twitter.
What makes this case interesting is that it seems to directly oppose the growing claim from governments and security agencies that easy access to encryption and the dark net is blinding intelligence agencies. All of the information needed to discover this potential attack was fully public, and thankfully in this instance was found and acted upon by the correct authorities.
While it seems like a lot of the terrorism and fear in the world right now stems from IS and similar sinister groups, this case seems to imply that this is less true than we have been led to believe. This case was one of seven that David Cameron used as a justification for military actions in Syria, but it turns out that while the instigators may have idolized parts of IS’ ideals, they were in fact lone idiots trying to imitate.
If more of the 6 remaining foiled plots come to light as similarly careless and foolish, it risks undermining both military action and pushes for infringements on the privacy and freedom imposed on the British people with tools like the Snooper’s Charter.
The BBC is currently suffering from intermittent internet service outages this morning. All BBC web-based services have been affected including iPlayer and the main news website.
DownDetector has shown a dramatic rise in reports of the websites being unavailable from around 7am too, the website is showing 500 error pages, with some parts of the website not loading at all, and others partially loading. It seems that radio and television broadcasting services are not affected but many of the services remain offline.
BBC have tweeted an apology via their Twitter account.
We're aware of a technical issue affecting the BBC website and are working to fix this now. We'll update you as soon as we can.
The last outage that the BBC encountered was back in 2011 due to technical issues and later in 2o12 the BBC revealed that it had been under cyber attack which took its telephone and e-mail services offline. However, the cause of this outage has not currently been confirmed, but we will post more information as we find it.
Poor old @BBC seen to be having troubles with their entire online presence. Or is it just me?
When such a big website goes down, it can be a major inconvenience for quite a lot of people. Especially for a site like BBC, which is a hub for many around the world for breaking news, weather, and so much more.
Synology’s 2-bay play series has been very popular among users due to its great features and functionality coupled with a low asking price. Today I’m taking a closer look at the newest model in this series, the DS216play, a NAS featuring a powerful dual-core CPU with hardware H.264 and H.265 transcoding support and floating point unit.
Let us dive right into the hardware on this little NAS. The CPU is an STM STiH412 32-bit dual-core processor with 1.5GHz and floating point unit. The hardware transcoding engine is capable of the H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-4 Part 2, MPEG-2, and VC-1 codecs and it can work with a maximum resolution of up to 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) at up to 30 frames per second. It allows you to transcode 4K videos to 1080p, making them suitable for all screens and bandwidths whether they are local media players or remote mobile devices. In addition, you can also stream original 4K resolution videos to your multimedia player or 4K TV within a local network environment. The CPU is backed by 1GB DDR3 memory which should be sufficient for its area of operation.
With those hardware specifications, the DS216play is able to deliver an average speed of 107 MB/s when reading and 91 MB/s when writing on a RAID 1 configuration from a Windows environment. The built-in floating-point unit enhances the overall capability of the main CPU and it is particularly advantageous in speeding up thumbnail creations when uploading a lot of photos or videos.
One of the main features of a NAS like this is to stream media files to a whole lot of devices. The DS216play can act as a DLNA certified DMS (Digital Media Server), allowing you to stream multimedia contents, such as music, photos, and videos, to DLNA compliant devices. It can also stream to pretty much any other device such as mobile phones and tablets, TVs, and stereos. Synology also offers support for Samsung TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Roku players.
Three of the official and very popular apps on the DS216play are the Photo Station, Video Station, and Audio Station. They provide a streamlined and sleek interface that turn your NAS into an entertainment hub. The Video Station allows you to browse and manage all your movies, TV shows, and home videos and build up a smart video library with those. The Photo Station is the same, just for still pictures, and it also allows you to create web albums or blogs to record and share the exciting moments of your lives with others. The Audio Station can create your own audio streaming service where you can build a personal music center and stream music directly from your Synology NAS to other devices. You can rate your songs and sort music into smart playlists according to the rating. Plus, sharing a playlist with others is as simple as creating a sharing link and sending it to your friends.
Thanks to Synology’s QuickConnect, you can easily access all the NAS functions no matter where in the world you are, as long as the NAS and you both have an internet connection. It is a very simple DDNS service that takes care of all the settings for you. All you need to do is log in. This allows you to create your own personal cloud service where you don’t need to rely on costly monthly plans or storage limits. You can still connect your NAS to public cloud offerings such as Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, Box, hubiC, and Baidu Cloud as well as Amazon S3, Glacier cloud service, Microsoft Azure, SFR, and hicloud.
The Synology DS216play supports plenty of backup methods for both Windows and Mac users with the use of Cloud Station. Whenever you modify a file, the changes are backed up to the DS216play automatically. Mac OS users can also use Apple Time Machine. Backups to and from another Synology NAS is also supported, just as rsync servers, external drives, and cloud services can be used as backup targets.
Speaking of external devices, the DS216play has one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 port for external storage devices, printers, or wireless adapters. There is one Gigabit Ethernet port for the network connectivty and the entire unit is cooled by a 92mm fan.
So far I have talked a lot about the media capabilities on the DS216play NAS, but we shouldn’t forget that NAS stands for network attached storage. The DS216play naturally supports everything it needs to here from Samba (SMB2) for Windows and Mac OS users as well as AFP and NFS. Should you use WebDAV for your credentials, then that is supported too. AFP, CIFS, File Station and WebDAV also support network recycle bins for extra safety. An FTP service is also included by default, one of the oldest and most universal file transfer protocls around.
The File Station is a fast and secure feature for sharing and managing your files stored on DS216play. Just drag and drop to upload data from Mac or PC. Advanced filters make it easy to search for documents, photos, or videos and it also has a built-in FTP and email client. IT lets you organize and share files through an advanced web application and you can even share files and folders with others by simply sending a link. Files can be reached on mobile devices via the companion mobile app DS file. Both HTTPS and SSL/TLS encryption are featured for secure transfers and you can even set link expiry dates.
Synology built the DS216play in the well-known two-piece chassis, this time in black. It is simple yet effective with the only downside of not having front-accessible drive bays. On the other hand, home users are the intended market for a NAS like this and it is not like they’re switching and swapping drives all the time.
4K Ultra HD video transcoding on the fly
Powerful dual-core CPU with H.265 codec support
107.7 MB/s Reading, 91.47 MB/s Writing
DLNA certified for media streaming
Powered by Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM)
Packaging and Accessories
The Synology DiskStation DS216play comes in a simple brown box with a sticker highlighting the NAS model and its features.
The physical characteristics are detailed a little bit more on the rear where it also lists the hardware specifications.
Inside the box, next to the NAS itself, we find a power cable and AC/DC converter, a LAN cable, screws for the drives and the chassis itself as well as a Quick Installation Guide to get you going.
AMD is on the roll with their latest GPU announcements this half of the year. After spinning off their graphics department into the Radeon Technologies Group, AMD announced their new GPUOpen initiative and a new Crimson Edition for their Catalyst drivers. On the hardware side of things, we’re now getting more information on their upcoming Greenland GPUs. Set to debut with their first post-GCN design; the new architecture is codenamed Polaris.
Named after the North Star, Polaris will be the “guiding lights [that] power every pixel on every device efficiently. Stars are the most efficient photon generators of our universe. Their efficiency is the inspiration for every pixel we generate.” Notably, the statement hits home on two key targets AMD is aiming for, namely better pixels in the form of HDR and improved efficiency in order to reduce power consumption.
While the Pixel initiative will undoubtedly be interesting, the biggest part will likely be the efficiency. AMD has stuck with GCN quite a long time and right now, Nvidia’s Maxwell trumps GCN 1.2 in the efficiency category. With the whole new Polaris architecture to build upon, it will be interesting to see what approach AMD has taken to gain better efficiency. Combined with the new 14/16nm process nodes and HBM2, 2016 should be a pretty good year for AMD.
The government is at the heart of a major debate regarding your information and their attempts to gain access to them. With everything from encryption to the latest in a long stream of bad ideas, making companies who inform you when people are attempting to read your information pay criminal charges.
The Snoopers Charter, or by its proper name the Investigatory Powers Bill, would not only require sites to keep up to twelve months worth of your details, including your visited sites, but would also give government agencies access to this information, all while government officials have been requesting backdoor access to encrypted data that could be easily accessed by the authorities (not to mention any hacker who finds the backdoor).
A small side note on the bill states that the bill “will ensure that a communications service provider does not notify the subject of an investigation that a request has been made for their data unless expressly permitted to do so”. This means that companies would have to be told they can tell you, rather than being told to keep it a secret.
With companies like Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook and Google already alerting you when they believe your account is being spied upon, making it illegal for companies to warn you that people are delving into your personal life could quickly come back and cause issues, both legally and morally.
Ian “8Pack” Parry is one of the most respected overclockers in the world and renowned for setting various world records! Not only that, he employs his many years of experience and specialized expertise to help retailer, Overclockers UK produce extreme grade bundles as well as pre-configured dream systems. After focusing on the elite tier market, 8Pack has decided to cater towards the mainstream customer while only recommending hardware he would feel comfortable using.
The 8Pack Approved Gaming bundle includes an Intel Core i5-6400, 8GB (2x4GB) HyperX Fury 2666MHz DDR4 memory (upgradable to 16GB), ASUS Z170-E motherboard, Alpenföhn Brocken 2 CPU Cooler and 1g Thermal Grizzly which allows for multiple applications. This basic package retails for £329.95 and includes free next day shipping via DPD. By default, the CPU is capable of reaching 4.4GHz despite having a locked multiplier. This is because you can attain substantial speed increases using BCLK adjustments. If this seems like a daunting experience, then there’s nothing to worry about as 8Pack has outlined the recommended settings to easily reach the 4.4GHz figure. Furthermore, if you encounter any problems, he’s usually on hand to help out!
While the bundled air cooler is perfectly acceptable, some users might prefer a more visually pleasing alternative. For an extra £40.94, you can acquire the OcUK TechLabs 120mm All-In-One Watercooler which comes with a Silverstone FQ121 fan in black. This is one of the best water cooling fans on the market and maintains quiet operation. Overall, this is a fantastic bundle for users on a budget and incorporates possibly the best technical support available to consumers.
It’s also great to see a number of options in terms of memory capacity and cooler preference. Since the revelations about Skylake’s CPU strap, there’s no real reason to opt for an unlocked multiplier unless you want to simplify the overclocking process. However, in this case, the hard work has already been done by 8Pack with the hardware testing and recommended profiles.
The first Revolt gaming desktop by iBuyPower was released back in 2013, and it enjoyed incredible success among enthusiasts and casual gamers alike. The next iteration of iBuyPower’s premium gaming rig is the Revolt 2, which is based on a highly original case and a plethora of high-end components. What makes the case special apart from its unique shape is the fact that it offers a clear view of the system’s graphics card, as this is arguably the most crucial part of any gaming desktop. The graphics card is showcased through a see-through window located at the top of the case, and it is flanked by customizable Smart Lighting technology.
As for the motherboard, it features a mini-ITX form factor and is complemented by full ATX components. The system can accommodate a full ATX power supply, a 280mm liquid cooler, a pair of solid state drives and one HDD. Moreover, iBuyPower has worked closely with several eSports organizations in order to create a special SSD swapping system, which is bound to receive praise from enthusiasts. Below you will find a complete list of specifications for iBuyPower’s Revolt 2 eSports gaming desktop.
Researched and developed along with an extensive eSports network.
Support for 2.5 slot GPUs 300mm long, showcased under a transparent window.
Cooling Flexibility: Compatible with two 120mm, one 120mm and one 140mm, one 240mm or one 280mm radiator.
Allows for Full-size PSU, two solid state drives, and one mechanical hard drive.
Many users would have come across Ian Murdock’s work, more so if you are a user of Linux-based operating systems. It is with great sadness that we must report that Ian Murdock has passed away at the age of 42.
Ian Murdock’s passing was announced on a blog post via the Docker website, where he was a member of the Docker community. Ian is best known for the Linux Debian distribution, an open source operating system that has formed the basis of many other open source projects, and the very definition of open source has been built upon it. He is also known as a creator of the commonly used command, apt-get, an easy way of finding and install the latest software on Linux-based operating systems.
Both Ian’s family and the community as a whole have requested that the press and the public respect their privacy at this time and that any enquiries be sent through Docker. If you wish to share your condolences with those who knew him you can send them to email@example.com, where they will be kept and archived for viewing and recalling at a future date.
Please see the memorial left at Debian.org here and join us in remembering a man who gave so much to the world.
Microsoft stunned attendees during this year’s E3 expo with the shock announcement that backwards compatibility was coming to the Xbox One at no additional cost. In contrast to this, Sony has decided to charge for digital PlayStation 2 titles and offer PlayStation 3 emulation via a paid streaming service. It’s extremely unlikely for Sony to master PlayStation 3 emulation through traditional avenues due to the cell architecture’s complex nature.
One of the Xbox One’s most popular releases is Halo: The Master Chief Collection which contains Halo 1, 2, 3, and 4. Sadly this collection is devoid of Halo Reach as the story doesn’t center on the chaotic exploits of Master Chief. Despite this, Halo Reach recently gained approval to work on the Xbox One without the need to purchase an Xbox 360. Unfortunately, there are a number of user complaints regarding the game’s performance suggesting it frequently dips to around 10 frames-per-second. One disgruntled user said:
“We need to talk about the HALO Reach port to XBOX ONE. It’s unplayable! I’m getting 10-20 FPS whereas my 360 runs it at a smooth 25-30 FPS… This is unacceptable, I even set my XBOX ONE to run in 720p, but nothing changed!”
Another player had a similar experience and proclaimed:
“What the hell? UNPLAYABLE.is this going to get fixed or what? Why advertise backward compatibility of you can’t even actually play the game?”
Microsoft has acknowledged the current performance problems and issued an official statement which reads:
“We’re aware some users are experiencing issues playing Halo: Reach via Xbox One backward compatibility. The Xbox engineering team is currently looking into the issues and are working to address them.”
Some of you might remember the buggy emulation on the Xbox 360 which made older games unstable or difficult to play. At least Microsoft is looking into the performance problems and hopefully they should be rectified soon. On the other hand, it’s vital for Microsoft to ensure each game runs properly before giving it their seal of approval.
Is backwards compatibility a feature you often use?
Today Google confirmed that the next version of their Android Operating System, Android N, would not be making use of Oracle’s Java Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and instead they would be replaced by their OpenJDK equivalents in all future versions of Android. While Google states that this change will make the development of Android applications easier in future, it is also likely related to Google’s legal battle with Oracle relating to Google’s use of its Java APIs.
The switch from Oracle to OpenJDK was first spotted last month due to a commit made to the Android open source repository, clearly showing changes to a massive 8092 files and the commit message documenting the initial addition of OpenJDK code to the repository. Now Google has gone public with the change, making this statement to Venturebeat:
“As an open-source platform, Android is built upon the collaboration of the open-source community. In our upcoming release of Android, we plan to move Android’s Java language libraries to an OpenJDK-based approach, creating a common code base for developers to build apps and services. Google has long worked with and contributed to the OpenJDK community, and we look forward to making even more contributions to the OpenJDK project in the future.”
So while Google’s official line on the matter is that it allows for easier development of applications by developers and allows the community to give more back to OpenJDK, which is impossible with a proprietary product such as Oracle Java, it is unlikely this is the only reason for the switch, else would Google not have done it sooner?
That leaves the matter of Google and Oracle’s ongoing legal battle over the Google’s use of Java APIs, with Oracle claiming that Google had misused their APIs, which are their property, and Google maintaining that the use of the APIs should be protected for software innovation purposes and could not be copyrighted. Since 2010, this legal battle has raged back and forth, with verdicts being handed down and overturned. This switch to OpenJDK could indicate an out-of-court settlement between the companies that has yet to come to light, or that Google are simply insuring themselves in case they lose the legal war and by then would have already instigated the change away from Oracle APIs.
Even if the result of the lawsuit could be made somewhat moot by Google no longer using Oracle’s APIs, the result could have wider ramifications on the software industry on the whole, should code vendors be allowed to consider parts of their code copyrighted, it could spark a whole new blaze of copyright wars over the use of programming languages and tools. At least for the everyday Android developer, the switch to OpenJDK may make future application development for Android a little simpler; how strongly this will affect the backwards compatibility of newer apps remains to be seen.
After ending unlimited OneDrive storage and making a number of other controversial changes, Microsoft faced heavy criticism. After a storm of heavy backlash, Microsoft eventually rolled back some of the changes they were planning to implement. Many users felt that Microsoft had rushed things and didn’t properly handle the whole debacle. Now it turns out the rush was due to the fact that “a major publication was going to print something that was very damaging and was not true” about the online storage service.
According to Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela, Microsoft had realized that offering too many users unlimited storage simply wasn’t sustainable and was planning the change. Unfortunately, an external factor forced the issue.
“We had given ourselves a couple more months to get everything lined up, all in one fell swoop. OneDrive for Business, OneDrive for consumer, how we grandfathered people, blah, blah blah.
We just were not ready. But the alternative of having a very damaging, borderline false story run in a massive publication […] We just didn’t do a good enough job in the sprint to beat the story to get the communications in the shape that they needed to be.”
In the end, it looks like Microsoft has mostly figured things out, though some issues remain. Hopefully, Microsoft has learned a lesson about communication and that if they offer users something, they’ll take it and run with it.
GOG’s Interplay sale is generating a lot of heat; not because of the games included – MDK, Messiah, Stonekeep, and Lionheart all feature – but rather due to one missing name. First-person space shooter Descent (and its sequel) have been pulled from the sale due a dispute over its ownership.
According to a post on the GOG forum, the games’ copyright still belongs to developer Parallax Software. While Interplay, as the publisher of the two titles, still has the rights to sell them, but has failed to pay any royalties to Parallax since 2007, despite Descent and Descent II being available for purchase through both GOG and Steam during that period.
Matt Toschlog and Mike Kulas of Parallax Software wrote on the GOG forum:
Hey, Folks. Here’s the story.
Parallax Software still exists and still owns the copyrights to the Descent games. Under our 21-year-old agreement, Interplay has the exclusive rights to sell Descent and Descent II, and they have been doing so on Good Old Games and Steam.
The problem is that Interplay has not paid to Parallax any royalties since 2007. We’ve talked to them about this numerous times over the years, and finally took action this fall. We served Interplay official notice that they were in breach of the contract, and when they still failed to pay we terminated the agreement.
This means that Interplay has lost the right to sell the Descent games, which is why they came down from GOG. (We’re not sure why they’re still on Steam; they shouldn’t be.)
Interplay does, however, still own the Descent trademark, which they are free to use or license as they see fit (such as for Descent: Underground) as long as they don’t violate our copyrights.
As for whether Descent and Descent II will be available for purchase again, we hope so. We’d be very happy to work things out with Interplay.
While the dispute over royalties between Interplay and Parallax continues, GOG has pulled the game from sale.
Some of the most talented artists and craftsmen find their greatest inspiration in pop culture, with Star Wars having possibly the greatest influence on creative than any other property. While supreme modder Sander Van der Velden’s large and detailed home-built model of a Star Wars Star Destroyer is impressive on its own, it is made all the more eye-widening for hiding a PC within it.
The Venerator-Class Star Destroyer, as seen in the two Star Wars prequels Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, was constructed from aluminium cuts and 3D printed parts, and houses within it a top-end gaming PC. Van der Velden has documented the build process in great deal over on the MSI forums.
The PC case was built for entry into a modding competition run by MSI, the MSI Pro Mod, now in its third year.
During the building process, MSI was so impressed by the work that the company asked if it could “showcase the YAZI at the International CES 2016 in Las Vegas,” according to Van der Velden. Since CES 2016 is only a matter of weeks away, he had to work day and night to complete the project in time to ship it.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, being based on an existing series of novels, was locked in to having Geralt, the titular male Witcher in the books, as its protagonist, but a new fan mod now allows gamers to change their lead character to a woman. The mod, developed by ParKan – who also developed a mod to allow permanent companions, giving you five companion options that can be used in battles – lets players switch out Geralt for either Triss, Yenifer, Shani, or Ciri, all non-playable character within the game already.
While the mod give gamers some welcome agency, the female character models still use much of Geralt’s animations, particularly during battle scenes and some cutscenes, and the suspension-of-disbelief-breaking voice of Geralt emanating from the lips of all four women.
The character mod requires three mod installs from NexusMods (1, 2, and 3) which are all installable via NMM.
This mod changes playable Geralt to Triss, Yennefer, Ciri or Shani. Tested on Steam version 1.11 and can’t guarantee working at another versions, the NexusMods post reads. “This mod may be incompatible with mods that uses xml editing. Character has Geralt’s animations during combat actions and in some parts of dialogs and cutscenes.”
Apple’s behaviour in regards to tax avoidance has alerted the Italian authorities due to irregularities in their tax bill which led to a thorough investigation. In a similar vein to other multinational corporations, Apple has been accused of engaging in complicated measures to avoid paying tax which they have a legal right to pay. Of course, Apple isn’t the only company employing such unscrupulous activities as this is a common theme across numerous big businesses. According to La Repubblica and translated by the BBC, Apple failed to pay €880m in tax between 2008 and 2013.
This is just another example of Apple’s strategy, as the company has been “parking” revenues in Ireland which has a significantly lower tax rate (12.5%) than the USA and Italy. Italian investigators found evidence of wrongdoing and a massive gap between the company’s revenue and taxation. Shockingly, Apple’s revenue exceeded €1bn between 2008 and 2013 but only paid a mere €30m in tax. In lieu of the strong evidence, Apple’s Italian division has agreed to settle for €318m in court and avoid any further legal proceedings. This demonstrates that Apple is admitting the error of their ways and knows that they didn’t pay the correct amount of tax. Hopefully, this sends a clear message to other companies as well as Apple to stop trying to avoid paying tax in the future.
Despite a host of glaring issues it seems like Windows 10 is continuing to truck along just fine. After hitting a landmark 75 million installations by the first month and 110 million by the second month, it has hit another milestone. According to WinBeta, the OS managed to hit 200 million installations since it’s launch 5 months ago. While lower than previous months, that’s still an impressive 30 million installs a month on average.
While undoubtedly impressive after the debacle that was Windows 8, it’s important to note that these are installations and not necessary activations. This means this includes unsold devices with Windows 10 installed, which usually get shipped out a month before they are sold. Windows 10 is also a free upgrade for existing Windows users and Microsoft has been using questionable practices to force users to upgrade to the latest OS and will eventually force upgrades.
Critically, Microsoft still hasn’t addressed the fundamental privacy questions for their latest OS. Core tracking telemetry cannot be disabled and the few settings users have been able to tweak are getting changed back to the way Microsoft wants it through uncontrollable updates. With such aggressive measures, it’s not surprising that Windows 10 is doing so well. Whether or not Microsoft will hit their 1 billion installations in 3 years goal remains to be seen.
The quality of games included in Sony’s PlayStation Plus service has deteriorated in recent months and made loyal PlayStation 4 owners question its value. During the previous generation, PlayStation Plus was optional and revolved around highly acclaimed mainstream games. Sadly, Sony decided to make PlayStation Plus mandatory to access online play on their latest console and promised to improve the network infrastructure. Since then the service has heavily relied on smaller indie games which can be picked up on other platforms for almost nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of niche indie games, but I usually pick these up on PC in bundles or during Steam sales.
Sony recently sent an e-mail to PlayStation Plus subscribers informing them of the PS4 games coming to this month’s line-up. As you can see, the selection isn’t great and bound to infuriate PlayStation customers who expected major releases like The Order: 1866. Hardware Rivals is a multiplayer racing game and can be pretty fun in short bursts while Grim Fandango remastered offers fiendishly difficult puzzles and a captivating story.
Please note, this isn’t the entire line-up for January, as Sony will add a number of PlayStation 3 and PS Vita games. Furthermore, Grim Fandango Remastered supports cross-play so I assume the version included also works on the Vita.
Are you happy with the current PlayStation Plus offerings or feel they now represent poor value-for-money?
We all know Bill Gates has a whopping amount of money. He’s the owner of Microsoft, several hotel chains, and Corbis. Well, he also has several stunning properties. His home in Washington is worth a phenomenal $154 million. That’s approximately 1000 average British houses. However, he only paid $2 million back in the golden days of 1988. It is also said that he pays approximately $1 million in property tax per yer. Not a lot for Mr Gates though is it?
Sensors, sensors everywhere!
On arrival at the Gates household, you’ll be handed a little pin. This pin interacts with sensors built into the house, in turn, it then tracks your movement throughout the entire complex. As a result of the pin and sensors, the house then automatically adjusts temperature and lighting to ensure comfort throughout. He also has hidden speakers in all the rooms so music can follow you wherever you go.
Oooh, nice pictures Bill
Many of the paintings in the house are digital, he has roughly $80,000 dollars of displays that then connect back to a $150,000 server farm. The server farm then has a nearly unlimited supply of artwork for you to switch to.
Bounce Bill bounce, the trampoline room
The house has its own exercise facilities. The main room has a trampoline in and a 20ft high roof space for you to bounce around in. The facilities are 2500 square feet and contain a sauna, steam room, and separate men/women’s locker rooms.
Hosting a party? The reception hall
If the family wants to hold a party, Bill has a 2300 feet square reception hall. It can seat 150 people at a dinner party or 200 at a cocktail party. One wall has a 6 feet wide fireplace whilst the other is home to a whopping 22 feet wide video screen. Perfect for chilling and looking at cat pictures!
Fancy a read? The library is massive
Bill Gates paid $30.8-million for the 16th Century Codex Leicester manuscript, so it does not come as a surprise that he also has a 2,100-square-foot library, complete with a dome roof and two secret bookcases. On the ceiling, he has a quote from “The Great Gatsby”. “He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it.” I wonder if the blue reminds him of the windows XP taskbar, we will never know.
More of a film fan? Bill has it covered
In his 20 person movie theater. It has an Art-Deco theme, humongous chairs and much more. The screen itself is huge, however, we’re not allowed to know the true size. There is even a snack bar just for the theater.
The Car garage
Across the residence, there are several garages that amount to having room for 23 vehicles. One of which is designed to look like the Batcave. Rather cool I say – not bad for a 60-year-old!
Here I sat thinking that I knew all the terms for the different NAND technologies and then Transcend comes along with a new one that they have called SuperMLC. SuperMLC was developed as a more cost effective solution to SLC NAND with a performance that comes very close. In fact, the write performance is up to four times better than traditional MLC-based products.
Okay, I have to be honest right away and say that this technically isn’t a new form of NAND, we’re still dealing with Multi-Level Cell NAND chips. The difference comes down to how this NAND is handled by the SSD controller and its firmware. By using high-quality NAND chips and reprogramming the firmware, Transcend essentially created a cell-based RAID setup where the same data is stored in both bits in the same cell instead of having different data stored in the two. This naturally decreases the available capacity per NAND chip by half, but it also allows the drives to deliver a much better performance. In fact, the new SuperMLC has up to four times the sequential write performance when compared with traditional MLC NAND. It also brings better lifetime expectancy with up to 30,000 P/E cycles.
Transcend will release new drives based on this technology in early 2016 and they are all aimed at the enterprise sector where both initial costs and total costs of ownership really matters. That doesn’t mean that you can’t purchase these drives and use them in your personal setup, if that is something you are considering. Among the upcoming products with this brand new SuperMLC technology are a 2.5-inch SSD (SSD510K), an mSATA SSD (MSA510), a half-slim SSD (HSD510), and two M.2 SSD models. (MTS460 & MTS860).
What do you think of this way to utilize the NAND chips? Would this be an option you would be interested in, or do you prefer the normal MLC NAND for capacity or SLC NAND-based products for their reliability and performance? Let us know in the comments.
Silicon Power’s newest flash drive is designed for those users who need just a little extra security and in this case that little bit isn’t even that little. The newly launched Secure G50 Flash Drive uses the USB 3.0 bus for optimal connectivity and it comes with a great AES 256-bit full-drive encryption feature.
The Secure G50 flash drive comes with three layers of defense to enhance your data safety. The first is the above named AES 256-bit hardware-based encryption technology. That is coupled with the second layer which is the password protection function that enables the drive to auto lock-down and format itself after several failed login attempts by a malicious user. The third layer is software based in the form of Silicon Power’s data management software called SP Widget. The software features file encryption, cloud storage, backups, and restores for that extra bit of safe keeping in case you should lose your Secure G50 or it becomes damaged and simply doesn’t work anymore.
The Secure G50 drive works as it is and it doesn’t require any additional drivers or software except what it can carry and pre-load itself, so there is no need to keep drivers or software at hand to use it in a foreign system. It is officially compatible with both Windows and Mac OS, but Linux and Unix-based operating systems shouldn’t be a problem either.
Silicon Power’s Secure G50 is now available in 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities which should suit most basic needs. The drive is also backed by a five-year warranty in case the worst should happen.
SP Secure G50 Features and Specifications
AES 256-bit hardware-based full disk encryption
Set up password easily, and access your data after entering the password
Auto lock-down and reformat after 10 intrusion attempts
Pre-loaded program and no need to install a driver
Extra features such as data encryption, backups and cloud storage management
Capacity: 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
Dimensions: 53.9 x 20.0 x 10.0 mm
Weight: 9.2 g
Interface: USB 3.0/ USB 2.0 Compatible
Supported operating systems:: Windows 10/8.1/8/7(SP1)/XP, MAC OS 10.7.x and later
Fallout 4 is without a doubt one of the biggest games of the year and most people should know the basics of the game by now. Basically, it is very simple, survive in a post-apocalyptic world by any means necessary. Thate includes a fair amount of bloodshed and it is very difficult to take a peaceful approach to the game compared to earlier titles in the series such as Fallout 3 and New Vegas. But what is difficult becomes a challenge instead and a guy named Kyle Hinckley actually did it. He completed the game on Survival mode with a zero kill rating.
The previous games in the series offered more abilities for peaceful solutions such as just sneaking around enemies by picking locks and similar tasks. However, such features aren’t present in Fallout 4. The game is designed for mayhem and it wants you to create it. The game actually wants it so much that weird bugs will happen when you don’t follow the obvious and blood filled route. Still, Kyle managed to complete the game and has presented the entire playthrough to YouTube where you can watch the 37-part series on his channel called The Weirdist.
Kyle Hinkley gave an interview with Kotaku after his amazing completion where he talks about his experiences with the no-kill playthrough. Okay, it isn’t really a no-kill playthrough at all, but Kyle doesn’t do any of the killing himself. The game’s missions simply don’t allow for a pacifist playthrough, but Kyle did the next best thing. He achieved zero kill count himself including his companion, robots, turrets, legendary enemies, synths, etc. He got zero on it all as it is revealed in the last episode.
The whole thing was a brute force approach to the game as it’s the only way to beat it this way. Save the game, try something and if it fails you’ll reload and try again until you succeed. Kyle also had to start over from scratch several times and spent quite a bit of time building random items in order to gain experience. Most experience point in Fallout 4 come from battle, of which he did none. Instead, he made NPCs attack each other or used his skills to calm everyone down where he could.
For the most part, it worked great. But it also broke the game a few times. NPCs wouldn’t continue the dialogue, random enemies spawned where they shouldn’t, and the sound also started to bug around. The entire series is available for your to watch, but keep in mind that it contains most of the gameplay and therefore also possible spoilers for those who haven’t completed it yet.
“I’m a little disappointed in the lack of diplomatic solutions in this game, it’s a lonely departure from the rest of the Fallout series,” Hinckley said. “My version of pacifism isn’t really diplomatic, it’s more exploitative of the game mechanics to achieve a zero-kill record. In other [Fallout] games, you had a lot of alternatives for bypassing the combat, whether it was with sneaking, speech checks, or a back door opened with lockpicking and hacking. In fact, in previous games (at least 3 and NV), your companion kills didn’t count towards your record either.”