Metro 2033 Set to Become a Film

It would seem the dark is set to become a scarier place with games like Thief becoming movies. If the idea of a master thief sneaking around wasn’t enough to make you want to avoid the dark then the creatures from Metro 2033 will probably be best left on the small screen as it’s been revealed that Metro 2033 is set become a film.

Based on a novel by Dmitry Glukhovsky, the book follows the story of Artyom and as he explores the world after “the war that ended the world” and the mysterious creatures titled “the Dark Ones”. The series is set in the dark tunnels of Moscow’s subway system, a dark tunnel where both friend and foe live in the dark corners of its embrace.

Commenting on the news that a Metro 2033 movie is in early development, Glukhovsky commented saying “my novel and I have been waiting for this to happen for the last ten years”.  As with many writers Glukhosvsky said he was “extremely careful about handing my ‘baby’ over to Hollywood producers for adaption for a feature film” but was convinced to hand over the concept as Michael De Luca and Stephen L’Heureux “have a great vision”.

Are you a fan of the book? Maybe the game got you into the world of Metro? Do you believe a film is a good idea for this series and if so who would you cast?

Spintires Removed From Steam

Ever felt like going off-road and bringing that large truck of yours into the wilderness to enjoy the outdoors? Spintires looked to do just that giving you the ability to enjoy an off-road driving experience based in Russia. The game may be no more though as it has now been pulled from Steam, with issues between the creator and the publisher, causing more than a few little bumps in its development.

The creator, Pavel Zagrebelnyj, came out last week and stated that he was still owed money by the publisher, the UK-based publisher company Oovee. Oovee state that while they are late their accounts are still filed, meaning that Zagrebelnyj would soon receive his money.

That may not be enough though as the game has experienced a recent slew of bugs and malfunctions. These have in fact been due to timebombs, certain pieces of code that go off after certain amounts of time or set dates. The time bombs were supposedly created by Zagrebelnyj, but have since been patched by a user with unofficial fixes.

Oovees are keen to deny any speculation that it may have been due to international sabotage, claiming to have been working with Pavel since the bugs were discovered.

With no option to buy the game on Steam, users may be disappointed as the signs point to development ending on this game and a sour relationship between the creator and publisher for what could have been an interesting game.

Russia Request Permission to Fly Spy Plane Over the US

Today Russia requested permission to allow an advanced surveillance plane with advanced electro-optical imaging sensors to fly over the US. The request is valid as both Russia and the US are signatories of the Open Skies Treaty, which permits unarmed observational flights over any of the 34 member nations, despite the arguments from US officials. These officials believe that the sensors equipped on the plane they wish to use are too advanced and exploit the spirit of the treaty, which is to increase military transparency amongst the nations.

With tension between the west and Russia at its highest since the Cold War, the move seems to be a clear move to see how far they can push their luck. “The treaty has become a critical component of Russia’s intelligence collection capability directed at the United States,” Adm. Cecil D. Haney, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, wrote in a letter earlier this year according to the AP. “In addition to overflying military installations, Russian Open Skies flights can overfly and collect on Department of Defense and national security or national critical infrastructure,” Haney continued. “The vulnerability exposed by exploitation of this data and costs of mitigation are increasingly difficult to characterize.”

Russia’s chances of its request being approved may be hampered by their recent refusal to allow other nations to engage in surveillance over its own territory. A number of key locations including the capital, Moscow and potential conflict areas such as Chechnya and the areas around Abkhazia and South Ossetia are considered off-limits, despite the treaty.

Due to the nature of the treaty being that of transparency it will be hard for Russia to keep secrets of what it is observing, as the treaty rules that all images taken as part of flights under its regulations must be shared with all of the treaty’s member states. It remains to be seen whether the request will be accepted, but even if it is, Russia’s flight would only take place in summer at the earliest, with the treaty having a 120-day lead time on agreements.

Image credit to Kremlin.ru

MazerBOT Targets Android Phones – Unless They’re In Russia

Malware, or malicious software, includes everything from your pop-up ads to opening doors for full-scale hacks to companies. Taking a trip the malware museum shows you how software like Dridex can not only threaten banking systems but also your everyday smartphone. The latest malware on the Net is called MazarBOT and has a unique feature, it won’t install itself if you are in Russia.

MazarBOT has been seen advertised on certain forums for a few months now but was never actually seen in use, until now. MazarBOT is a nasty piece of software that takes control of your android phone, with a specific focus on people who use their phone for online banking. Peter Kurse, IT security expert and founder of CSIS Security Group, did a deep investigation into the problem discovering more about this malware.

By sending a “swarm” of SMS’s to random phone numbers to Denmark, the software has started to spread by sending a message with a link to the android package file, the contents of which are none other than MazarBOT. Able to intercept text messages, including those with two-factor authentication codes, MazarBOT is a nasty piece of work, sending your phone’s location to a number (starting with Iran’s country code) upon successful installation.

Upon detecting that the phone is in Russia though the malware will stop installing, this is initially thought to be in order to avoid drawing the wrath from Russia’s security services.

Russia Has Plans to Nuke Asteroids

We’ve seen the movies. I’m thinking about the one with Bruce Willis in, the asteroid hurtling towards earth and a timer that just won’t stop ticking. I am course referring to Armageddon, a film in which an asteroid could end all life on earth. We’ve heard the chances of asteroids hitting the Earth, NASA even has a task force to deal with the issue. What you probably didn’t know is Russia has a plan for when the asteroids come knocking; nuke them!

A joint country initiative was set up under the European Commission, titled NEOShield. Each country under the scheme was responsible for researching different ways and methods of preventing asteroids and other NEO’s (Near-Earth Objects) from impacting the planet. Russia’s solution has a simple elegance to it, to nuke it. While it may not be able to destroy an asteroid, the scientists believe that a nuclear blast near to the asteroid would burn up its mass, producing a jet thrust effect that would be used to change the asteroid’s path, avoiding the earth.

The announcement of the research details comes alongside the newly stated goals for the Russian Space program, which wants to develop a “space barrier”. A series of satellites that would detect any object that could present a threat to the planet.

With a follow-up program launched (NEOShield-2), even the slightest threat of an object from outer space crashing into the planet is being taken seriously. If it contains just rock or an Alien being, it looks like the world wants to not only know about it, but also how to stop it.

Google Translates Russia as “Mordor”

Google Translate is an extremely useful albeit slightly confusing tool at times, the freedom to translate any foreign web page or language with a degree of accuracy has been widely used by a huge array of consumers and companies alike.  However, there are instances when Google translates something completely different as in this case whereby the Russian Federation had been accidentally translated as “Mordor”

Reports confirm that Google has patched a bug within the “translation from Ukrainian to Russian service”.  Below is a screenshot to illustrate this rather awkward yet slightly apt re-imagining of the translation, the company stated this error was introduced automatically and, therefore, did not come from user input.

The search giant also stated that its software was able to operate by analyzing patterns within hundreds of millions of documents, this sounds impressive but the translations are not always perfect when you consider both the complexity and also the context of language which can vary depending on the circumstances.

It is interesting to note that “Mordor” is defined as a “fictional universe of Middle-earth and was the region occupied and controlled by Sauron,” when you consider the fairly recent activity by Russia in Crimea, it makes the translation all the more relevant.

Image courtesy of  the dailymail

Individual Uses Lighter While Refuelling Car And Sets Fire To It.

Indeed, thought this was self-explanatory but there you go, The Russian Independent Television is reporting as of late today (January 5th, 2016) that an Individual has accidentally set fire to their car while using a lighter near the fuel pump nozzle while routinely filling the vehicle up.

Below are the images of the incident, there not particularly graphic, but they do show a fire breaking out near a person and they are shocking, therefore, I thought I would pre-warn just in case.

As you can see, the fire is breaking out near the car, the individual had apparently held their lighter with the aim of seeing clearly what they were doing while filling up the car. The person then pulled the refuelling gun out of the car once they had spotted the fire.

Unfortunately this made it worse as fuel splashed out onto the pavement and also onto the car, it is unclear as to the outcome of this incident as of writing.

I did not think in today’s modern world I would need to say this, but please, no one try this at home, gasoline is highly flammable and diesel is a highly combustible liquid that can be extremely dangerous. Always take precautions and never treat it with anything other than respect and caution. 

Imagining The World If Powerful Leaders Were Transformers

Well, erm, yes, as you do, have you ever wanted to see famous political leaders being depicted as Transformers? Now you can after a talented artist and satirist by the name of Gunduz Agayev has bought an updated 2015 incarnation of his “Transformers” series back to the public eye.

First up below is the former research scientist and current Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel who looks quite calm and authoritative, well for a transformer anyway.  Germany as a country has had quite a difficult year, from a faltering economy to the current refugee situation, I think the illustration captures the demeanour of the German Chancellor over the past year.

Next up below is what appears to be a cross between a transformer and Robocop in the form of current president Barrack Obama, this illustration perfectly captures the relentless attacks by Donald Trump over the course of 2015 as the US gears for this years (2016) presidential election, who would have thought Republication Trump could still have a chance of running for the White House. The illustration also conveys a sense that President Obama is attempting to be Robocop for the entire world after attempting to push through laws that impact more than just the US.

Below is the next illustration and it perfectly captures and also satirizes the current president of Russia Vladimir Putin, his 2015 has been somewhat gung-ho and has included verbal threats against numerous countries as well as air strikes in Syria etc.

Last but not least is the current Queen of the UK Elizabeth II, who looks quite cheerful as a red London bus transformer, it pretty much sums up 2015 for the Queen when you consider her personality never really deviates when greeting people in the public eye.

These pieces of artwork are memorable, unique and convey key characteristics while making a statement, they also have more significance rather than being just a series of over the top images.

Russia Planning a Permanent Manned Moonbase

The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, has announced plans to establish a permanent manned base on the moon within the next 15 years. Roscosmos aims to launch a probe to scout Lunar locations in 2024, and has already started construction on the Luna 25 lander that will send its people up to Earth’s satellite in 2030, Russia’s official state news agency Tass reports (via Yahoo).

During the space race between the US and Soviet Russia in the Late-1950s and 1960s, Russia was way ahead of its Western rival, launching the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, in 1957, and putting the first man in space, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. The Soviet space program, however, suffered a severe decline – the details of which were kept secret until Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost (openness) policy in the 1980s – and was soon usurped by NASA, who landed Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, in 1969.

‘’The moon is not an intermediate point in the race. Ot is a separate, even a self-contained goal,” Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s Deputy Premier, wrote in the Government’s official newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta. “It would hardly be rational to make some ten or 20 flights to the moon, and then wind it all up and fly to the Mars or some asteroids. This process has the beginning, but has no end. We are coming to the moon forever.”

 

Google Opposes Antitrust Accusations in Russia

 

Google is no stranger to being faced with anti-trust rulings worldwide, but this is the first time that the accusations have been put forth in Russia.

Back in September this year, the Russian search engine Yandex filed a complaint against Google with the Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, which ruled in favor of Yandex. The complaint was centered on accusing Google of misusing its power as the provider of the popular Android operating system to pre-load the system with potentially dozens of mandatory Google applications.

As a result of the ruling, Google would be given until December the 18th to renegotiate its contracts with smartphone manufacturers to ensure compliance. This would mean that Google would be forced to sell Android phones pre-loaded with nothing but the Google Play Store.

Google seems to have no intention to take the ruling as is however, stating that they “intend to contest this decision and explain in court why we consider it unfounded,” on their Russian blog. Yandex rose to the challenge in a statement to Reuters, “Yandex is confident in every point of its position. We are ready for the appeal and welcome the most open trial.”

It seems like this is just the start of the battle between Google and Yandex, with Yandex requesting an investigation into potential infringements by Google from the EU, implicating Google in those territories too. And from a statement by the EU that Google is already under investigation, it seems like Yandex is not the only company to take issue with Google on the antitrust front.

It seems like Google will have to try to strike a balance between providing Android to the masses and pushing its own products on the platform by default if they want to escape flak from the rest of the industry. The question is, were Android not to come packaged with all the Google apps we are used to, would many users just not install them manually anyway?

A Look Inside the Secret World of Soviet PCs

Much like present-day North Korea, Soviet Russia was isolated from the rest of the world, hidden behind the post-war Iron Curtain. Unknown to many, the rise of personal computers in the West during the Eighties was being mirrored in the Soviet Bloc, with homegrown Russian computers, inspired by their Western counterparts, rising to prominence, though not graduating to the mass-market in quite the same way as the US and parts of Europe. We take a look at some of the most popular personal computers in Russia during the end of the Soviet era (via PCMag):

Mera CM 7209 (ca. 1986)

The CM 7209 (above), a clone of the US DEC PDP-11 PC, was a Russian military computer used during the mid-Eighties. A notable model was discovered by urban explorer Jean Andersen during a sojourn to an abandoned power plant in Pripyat, Ukraine. Pripyat was evacuated following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.

EC 5300 (ca. mid-1980s)

The EC 5300, also based on the PDP-11, running Alexey Pajitnov’s classic puzzle game, Tetris.

Microsha (ca. 1987)

Sporting the Intel 8080-compable KP580BM80A CPU and 32kb of RAM, the Microsha was the home computing derivative of the Radio-86rk homebrew system, the plans for which were published in a popular Russian computing magazine.

Agate-4 (1984)

This snazzy red and black number, the Agate-4 , was a Russian facsimile of the Apple II home computer and was a fixture in Soviet schools.

EC 1841 (1987)

Another copy, this time based on an IBM PC, the EC 1841 ran an 8068-compatible 4.77MHz CPU and up to 640kb of RAM. Even its operating system was a clone, based upon MS-DOS.

Elektronika MK-90 (1986)

The handheld Elektronika MK-90, with its built-in 120×64-pixel LCD screen, ran BASIC. In line with inflation, the pocket PC cost the equivalent of $22,000 in today’s money.

BK 0010-01 (ca. 1986)

While home computing was more cost-prohibitive in Russia, the most popular family PC was the Government-approved BK 0010-01, which was yet another PDP-11 copy.

US concerned Over Russian Activity Near Undersea Data Cables

Tensions between nations over Cyber warfare have increased dramatically over the last 5 years, from the US accusing China and Russia of systematically hacking into highly sensitive government systems through industrial means, to groups affiliated with IS and similar terrorist organisations who have cyber attacked various departments. Now, Washington is reportedly becoming concerned that Russia and its fleet of military submarines could in theory cut vital undersea cables that carry almost all global communications.

As yet there is no evidence to suggest Russia or any other country has attempted this, but, according to US intelligence, or lack of sometimes, who are monitoring a significant and increased “Russian activity along the known routes of the cables, which carry the lifeblood of global electronic communications and commerce”.

It was reported last month (Sep 2015) that a Russian spy ship “equipped with two self-propelled deep-sea submersible craft, cruised slowly off the East Coast of the United States on its way to Cuba — where one major cable lands near the American naval station at Guantanamo Bay”. US officials state this spy ship has the ability to launch submersible vehicles that in turn could cut data cables situated miles down in the sea.

The Pentagon is also concerned that Russia is attempting to hunt for cables at much greater depths than originally thought where such data lines are harder to both monitor and repair. The significance of these data cables is vast considering it has been estimated that they carry “global business worth more than $10 trillion dollars a day, including from financial institutions that settle transactions on them every second”

Is this all smoke and mirrors? Possibly, it’s difficult to know how much of this information is genuine and if so how much is actually being planned. If Russia succeeded in cutting vital cables then this would lead to a dramatic set of circumstances. One thing to bare in mind is that Putin quite likes the idea of censorship and could be looking at cutting Russia off from outside influences. What we do know is countries, for example Russia and China, have a vested interest in disrupting countries such as the US, but having said that, the US and others also have well-documented interests in intercepting gigantic amounts of data from other countries. It’s the same practice in a different pair of shoes, from both World Wars, the Cold War to modern-day cyber spying, countries want others data and will plot while both sides remain unsure of the final outcome.

Image source

Russia Wants World of Tanks Players to Remote-Control its Tanks

Following the reveal of a series of remote-controlled tanks developed by a Russian defence contractor, the country’s deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin claims that future mobile infantry drivers will not emerge from the military as is traditional, but instead from gamers versed in popular MMO World of Tanks.

“We need no tankers now, we need World of Tanks players,” read a tweet by Rogozin.

https://twitter.com/Rogozin/status/653469089000783873

Rogozin has previously predicted a world in which “bespectacled nerds” would crush the “handsome athletes who fight on a lower technological level” in a new brand of techno-warfare.

The remote-controlled T-90 tank, developed by the Uralvagonzavod company, is able to be remotely piloted from up to 5 kilometres away. Earlier this year, fellow Russian armoured vehicle manufacturer Tractor Plants built the Kurganets-25 tank which based its control interface on PlayStation controller.

Albert Bakov, Vice President Tractor Plants, said at the time, “I spent two years on convincing the designers to make the console similar to a Sony Playstation gamepad, to make it easier for a young soldier to familiarise himself with it.”

It seems Russia has found a unique angle by which to recruit the next generation of military vehicle drivers. If the UK armed forces are seeking tacticians, I’m great at Risk.

Thank you RT for providing us with this information.

Custom-Designed Putin Head iPhone 6s Costs a Mere $3200

The iPhone 6s in any storage configuration is a costly endeavor and not financialy viable for many budget-conscience consumers. Historically, Russia’s communist ideology lends itself to the same inequality seen in a capitalist democracy. Without getting too political, both electoral structures can be horrifically unequal with the uber rich spending vast amounts of money in close proximity to poverty-stricken states. As a result, we often see modified versions of expensive items like the iPhone 6s. Unsurprisingly, a Russian jeweler called Caviar, has created the “Caviar Ti Gold Supremo Putin Anniversario Edizione 63”.

This rather lavish piece is unmistakably patriotic and embeds a large profile image of Putin in solid gold. Additionally, there is a verse from Russia’s national anthem and a crest. The gold sections are encrusted on a titanium back with the Caviar branding near the top. According to the jeweler, only 63 copies will be made which cost upwards of $3200. This depends on the storage model with 64GB and 128GB being the only options. I do find it amusing that a 16GB model wasn’t produced.

If the item isn’t luxurious enough, you can purchase a stunningly beautiful carry case from $306. Personally, I find the main handset quite garish, but the box is pretty nice. Although, I wouldn’t spend $500 on a handset, so it’s slightly out of my price range.

Perhaps, this is an example to illustrate Russian wealth for rich government members, or oligarchs. Whatever the case, it’s certainly an interesting design and makes the standard iPhone 6s suddenly look affordable.

What do you think of this $3200 beast?

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information. 

Russian Scientists Develop Cockroach Spy Robot

A team of Russian scientists has built a tiny spybot which looks and moves like a cockroach. The scientists, from the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University in Kaliningrad, hope to use the insectoid robot to help find victims trapped under debris.

“Berkeley University has been working on their cockroach for the past four years,” explained project leader Aleksey Belousov, “but they didn’t have to make it look like an insect, so it’s faster than ours. But it can’t turn at speed and it doesn’t look like a real cockroach at all. Whereas we were specifically told to create a cockroach robot on time and on budget.”

The robot, which is 10cm long, can move at 30cm-per-second, which is 1/3 the speed of a real cockroach, and can carry a weight of up to 10g, enough for a small camera. It is fitted with light sensors, plus contact and non-contact probes to help it negotiate obstacles and move through small spaces.

“We had to develop many things from scratch. For example, there’s a company in Austria that produces gearing for legs, but a unit for one robot would have cost us nearly $9,000 while our entire budget is $22,500,” Danil Borchevkin, lead engineer at the university, said.

The team from Kant Baltic Federal University is currently working on a camouflaged version for the Russian military.

Thank you The Stack and Kantiana for providing us with this information.

Russia Threatens to Ban Reddit

First it was gay emojis and memes. Now mother Russia is threatening to ban the whole of reddit, unless the site’s administrators start banning marijuana-growing tutorials.

Roskomnadzor, Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision for Telecom, Information Technologies, and Mass Communications, posted to social networking site VKontakte that it had been in touch with reddit’s administrators, asking them to take down posts related to growing cannabis, in line with a request from the Federal Drug Control Service of Russia. Since reddit has not responded to the request, Roskomnadzor is “preparing” to add the site to its ever-growing list of prohibited sites in Russia.

“If anyone has contacts with the reddit administration, ask them to check their email for letters from Roskomnadzor, otherwise, due to technological features, many operators may block the whole site,” the VKontakte post reads.

Roskomnadzor’s list of banned sites is quite the eclectic collection, ranging from Internet Wayback Machine, the official Jehovah’s Witness site, and a Facebook group supporting Russian state critic Alexey Navalny. The blacklist is designed to “protect” the Russian people from sites and pages that contain child pornography, extremist content, content subject to a gag order, or materials that advocate drugs or suicide. At some point or another during its lifespan, reddit has ticked every box.

Thank you Vocativ for providing us with this information.

Hack Targets Email System Of The Pentagon

NBC news is reporting information which has been supplied by US officials who have stated that Russia has launched a “sophisticated cyber attack” with the aim being the Pentagon’s Joint Staff unclassified email system.

The email system has since been shut down by being taken offline for almost two weeks. The attack happened “sometime” around July the 25th 2015, this has affected around 4,000 military and civilian personnel who work for the joint chief of staff. I love how specific highly trained government officials are behaving concerning this possible intrusion.

Sources have briefed NBC News that the hack relied on “some kind of automated system that rapidly gathered massive amounts of data and within a minute distributed all the information to thousands of accounts on the Internet”. There is suspicion that Russian hackers planned and implemented the cyber attack via encrypted accounts on social media.

The phrase, “oh here we go again” comes to mind with these types of cyber attacks, which conjure a feeling of Déjà vu or Groundhog Day depending on your movie of choice. If governments, companies and infrastructures intend to keep information stored within networks and connected devices, then it needs to be secure. It’s absurd that it keeps happening over and over again; it’s almost deciding which foot to shoot and ending up shooting both.

Officials have stressed at this time no classified information has been compromised, hopefully this will not change. There is also the unknown factor of whether this has been orchestrated by hackers on behalf of the Russian government. I expect more information to be placed in the public domain within the coming days, or it will be forgotten by a new hack from a far-flung country. Who knows, at this stage nothing is surprising.

Thank you NBC News for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of masteringfilm

Russia Looking Into Blocking Facebook Over Gay Emoji

Russia has been trying to push a lot of western companies out of the country for some time now. After it closed access to Google and Intel back in 2014, the country is now looking to block the world’s most popular social media platform, namely Facebook.

Russian Facebook users have been told to stop using the platform numerous times up until now, throwing a lot of accusations. However, with the addition of gay emojis, the government now believes it has actual proof to build a case that will block the social media for good.

Russian senator, Mikhail Marchenko, called an investigation to check if the emojis in question are violating the Russian anti-gay laws. This is quite interesting, since Twitter and even Apple’s own emoji keyboard come with gay emojis.

The above leads us to believe that Russia might have something personal against the social media platform, but the saddest part is that the government has high chances of succeeding. The country’s Federal Service For Supervision of Communication, Information Technology and Mass Media closed over 10,000 up to date, so blocking Facebook will just be another addition to the latter websites. But how comfortable are you with this decision? Should a few emojis be enough to get a website banned?

Thank you Tech Radar for providing us with this information

White House Responds to Edward Snowdon Petition

Do you remember when 167,000 people signed a petition calling for Edward Snowdon to be pardoned? Not even Pepperidge Farms recalls this considering this was two years ago. The US government is known for hanging many decisions out, but I will give them credit for finally responding to this petition.

Once a petition reaches 100,000 signatures via the government’s official platform, under their rules they are duty bound to respond to it, which they have, eventually. So will Edward Snowdon receive a pardon? No, no he won’t according to Homeland Security advisor Lisa Monaco who accuses Snowdon of “running away from the consequences of his actions.”

A shortened redacted version of this statement is below, at least I have summarised the point unlike many US documents which have one word visible.

“Instead of constructively addressing these issues, Mr. Snowden’s dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it.

If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and — importantly — accept the consequences of his actions. He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers — not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime. Right now, he’s running away from the consequences of his actions”.

 This is the cliché catch 22 situation, if Edward Snowdon had of spoken out and challenged the status quo, this would have been quickly and silently shot down. One has to remember when scandals are broken; they are not publicized by establishment officials but journalists and external investigators, how do you challenge behaviour in-house?

I do feel that Edward Snowdon has placed a target with which to discredit via his asylum in Russia. It’s a bit of an irony to live in a country for speaking out against violations of democracy, when said new residence has the uncanny habit of hunting down perceived dissenters. I also don’t believe Snowdon will receive a fair trial at all in the US, one thing to consider concerning this aspect is this, during the somewhat recent trial of Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the jury was made up of individuals which favoured the death penalty. Lawyers had the ability and are allowed to dismiss any juror who is opposed to the death penalty, thus in a roundabout way influencing the nature of the sentence.

The above example is just that, an example to show how the word “fair” could be slightly deviated for a desired outcome.

Thank you whitehouse petitions for providing us with this information

Image Courtesy of freigeistblog

 

New Russian Armoured Vehicle Operated Via PlayStation Controller

A new Russian armoured vehicle has been developed that uses an interface based on the famous PlayStation controller. Albert Bakov, Vice President of tank maker Tractor Plants, told Russian media that the Kurganets-25 mechanised infantry vehicle utilises a “console similar to a Sony Playstation gamepad.”

Bakov said, “I spent two years on convincing the designers to make the console similar to a Sony Playstation gamepad, to make it easier for a young soldier to familiarise himself with it.”

Though it is unclear as to whether Tractor Plants used the traditional Dual Shock model – a shape that has been with us since the original PlayStation, up to the PS 3’s Dual Shock 3 – or the new Dual Shock 4 redesign compatible with the PlayStation 4, Bakov says that the compact design, as well as being familiar to young soldiers, economises space within the driver’s seat.

“As it turns out, a steering wheel is dangerous for the rib cage during an impact and when climbing out. It takes up more space but provides nothing,” Bakov added.

Currently undergoing trials with the Russian army, the Kurganets-25 infantry fighting vehicle (Object 695) is expected to go into mass production at the start of 2016.

Thank you Sputnik News for providing us with this information.

Russia Debuts Homegrown x86 Compatible CPU

In pursuit of independence from American chip makers Intel and AMD, Russia has started selling computers equipped with the Elbrus-4C. Also known as the Elbrus-4S, the chip was announced just about a year ago and started production in late 2014. It’s made by MCST, also known as the Moscow Center for SPARC Technologies. The processor is meant to scale from normal everyday tasks all the way to server and high-performance computing needs.

In the processor industry, x86 patents are a rarity as the major holders, Intel and AMD jealously guard them. In order to be x86 compatible, Elbrus translates the x86 program code into its own machine code via a virtual machine. It’s own internal architecture is known as Elbrus and is based off VLIW (Very Long Instruction Word). While uncommon for CPUs to use, VLIW designs are used by Intel’s Itanium lineup and AMD used VLIW designs prior to their move to GCN.

Not surprisingly, Elbrus-4C has a long way to catch up to AMD, let alone Intel. The chip is being made on TSMC’s 65nm process, which Intel and AMD moved away from in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Clock rates are somewhat slow as well at 800mhz peak. Performance while not amazing is able to trade blows against Intel’s Atom D510, a low power mobile chip from 2010. With the lofty goal of technological independence and security from the West though, Russia might be willing accept being behind the curve. Combined with China’s Longsoon development, these designs may not be the best but might be good enough.

Out of Control Russian Spacecraft Hurtling to Earth

The Russian cargo spacecraft Progress M-27M is currently out of control after delivering supplies to the International Space Station and is plummeting to Earth. NASA footage shows the unmanned craft descending towards Earth’s atmosphere with little hope of regaining control over it.

“It has started descending. It has nowhere else to go,” an insider told news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP). “It is clear that absolutely uncontrollable reactions have begun.” The insider also revealed that the Russian space agency will attempt to contact the craft again to ensure that it every effort is made to avert its uncontrolled fall to Earth, saying, “We have scheduled two more communication sessions to soothe our conscience.”

The Russians lost communications with the craft, launched by a Soyuz rocket on Tuesday, soon after becoming spaceborne. Spokesperson for the Russian space agency, Mikhail Fedeyev, has refused to comment, rendering him utterly redundant.

http://youtu.be/28jJ3sANL1o

The crew of the ISS, who were due to receive a cargo shipment from the Progress on 30th April before control of it was lost, have been watching the spacecraft fall away. Commander Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut and former Commander of the ISS, says that the Progress should burn up as it hits the Earth’s atmosphere, so there should be no concerns about falling debris impacting the surface of the planet.

Thank you news.com.au for providing us with this information.

Russian Hackers Read Obama’s Email

According to the New York Times, Russian hackers may have gotten access to Obama’s White House email. While the White House itself has been silent on the issue, the emails were likely accessed during a hack related to the recent power outage. Sources with knowledge of the previous hack noted that Russians, likely connected to the Kremlin, were the perpetrators of the hack, a claim echoed again. Email at the White House was disrupted for about a month while the last vestiges of the hack were purged.

Despite being able to read Obama’s email, the hack is not as grievous as it could have been as it only breached the unclassified network. This means only unclassified emails sent to and from the system were accessed. Officials were quick to stress that no classified system was breached nor was classified information lost. The New York Times’s source suggests that the hack originated with a breach of the State Department’s unclassified network and found its way to the White House. That hack was so widespread, that to quote the New York Times:

“The disruptions were so severe during the Iranian nuclear negotiations in Vienna in November, officials needed to distribute personal email accounts, to one another and to some reporters, to maintain contact.”

Since the hack, Obama has reduced the frequency of his emails. Obama has been known for fighting against the Secret Service to keep access to his BlackBerry and email, unlike his predecessor, Geoge W. Bush, who completely eschewed email.  Given the recent revelations that the Pentagon unclassified networks were also hacked, it raises the issue as to how much these systems can be trusted and whether or not they are more of a liability than an asset.

Thank you New York Times for the information

Russia Declares War on Memes

In the spirit of perestroika, Russia has announced that is declaring война on the very lifeblood of the internet: memes; or, more accurately, memes that specifically mock Russian public figures. Roskomnadzor, Russia’s media and internet regulator, has introduced a new law aimed at protecting the “honor, dignity and business of public figures.”  A meme that falls foul of that law is “when the image has nothing to do with the celebrity’s personality,” which is suitably vague enough to be abused at will.

The law only applies within Russian territory, so we’re free to post images like this:

And this:

Though, even if we were in Russia and subject to this law, to consider the above images as ones that undermine Vladimir Putin’s honour and dignity is to acknowledge that the man is anything other than superhuman, and that can’t be right, can it? Regardless, both depict the Russian President in a more heroic light than anything based in reality.

The law has already been enforced on behalf of Eighties Russian popstar Valeri Syutkin, who took great exception to an image of his face that bore the words “smack the bitch in the face.” Syutkin, who at no point during his career marketed himself as “smacking” any “bitches” in their faces, or any other places, was thus entitled to prosecute the offending image.

A question that Roskomnadzor has so far failed to answer is, where does that leave Soviet baritone treasure Eduard Khil, aka Mr. Trololo?

Thank you A.V. Club for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of reddit.

Intelligence Agencies Point to Russian Involvement in Recent White House Hacking

The recent White House power outage has turned into being something more than that. CNN reports that US officials have admitted that the White House’s network has been hacked in the process, but the affected computers were part of a non-classified network serving the executive office.

Still, the attackers were able to access sensitive information, such as the president’s real-time daily schedule. CNN also reports that the attackers used an account on the State Department network to phish their way into the White House.

“We’re constantly updating our security measures on our unclassified system but we’re frankly told to act as if we need not put information that’s sensitive on that system. In other words, if you’re going to do something classified, you have to do it on one email system, one phone system.” Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security adviser, told CNN.

The Secret Service and Intelligence Agencies are already investigating the matter, but it looks like clues point to Russia being behind the attack, or at least the hackers originate from the aforementioned country.

The attackers are said to have covered their tracks by routing their activity through a lot of servers throughout the world.

Thank you Endgadget for providing us with this information

Microsoft Attacks Halo Online Modders with DMCA Takedowns

It only took modders a matter of days to unlock the Russia-only beta of Halo Online, making the free-to-play first-person shooter available to the entire world, but the killjoys at Microsoft have, predictably, issued these region-bypassing modders with DMCA takedown notices, with which they reluctantly complied.

ElDorado, the custom launcher that allowed players to access Halo Online from outside Russia has been pulled from GitHub, though versions of it have reportedly been found on popular torrent sites.

Microsoft has given no indication that it is considering opening up Halo Online to other regions, so it appears likely that modders will continue to find ways unlocking the game for users outside of Russia.

Source: Dark Side of Gaming

First Gameplay of PC Exclusive Halo Online Revealed

News broke recently that a PC exclusive version of Halo would be coming to PC. The bad news is that this game is currently only being released in Russia, with no plans to launch it in any other regions, at least at the moment. The game will be free to play and is clearly designed to cater to the fact that F2P is very successful in Russia, given that retail games suffer from mass piracy in that region.

The game is powered by a heavily enhanced version of the Halo 3 engine and is created by Innova and Syber Interactive Studio.

YouTuber ‘Noble’ has released a 17-minute video that showcases maps, weapons and vehicles for the game and so far, it certainly looks pretty entertaining.

https://youtu.be/fy1jbrrMfZc

Let’s hope they come to their senses and launch it in other regions!