Lots of interesting stuff to read.
Encryption vendor claims AACS infringes its patents, sues Sony Certicom has done extensive work in elliptic curve cryptography (ECC), and the patents in question build on this work. The patents have already been licensed by groups like the US National Security Agency, which paid $25 million back in 2003 for the right to use 26 Certicom patents, including the two in the Sony case. Now, Certicom wants Sony to pay up, claiming that encryption present in several key Sony technologies violates Certicom patents on “Strengthened public key protocol” and “Digital signatures on a Smartcard.”
Zune Firmware Update 1.4 Improves [tag]Zune[/tag] Shuffle experience, that’s about it.
How Online Criminals Make Themselves Tough to Find, Near Impossible to Nab The investigator (who could only speak anonymously) wonders aloud what other networks are right now being controlled by criminal enterprises whose presence is entirely concealed. Computer crime has shifted from a game of disruption to one of access. The hacker?s focus has shifted too, from developing destructive payloads to circumventing detection. Now, for every tool forensic investigators have come to rely on to discover and prosecute electronic crimes, criminals have a corresponding tool to baffle the investigation. This is antiforensics. It is more than technology. It is an approach to criminal hacking that can be summed up like this: Make it hard for them to find you and impossible for them to prove they found you.
Meet the people of the Web A new series from Yahoo!, exploring the most interesting stories and characters on the web.
The Scariest Google Street View Finds Have you been caught doing something with the Google Street View?
Surfing Sex Offender Caught with Mum’s Spyware Pedophile is caught using a keylogger, like Teen Minder, installed by teens mom. This is what I have been saying for awhile, watch your kids, you don’t have to watch everything, just check in occasionally.
New firmware prevents modders from being banned A new firmware version has just been released for all 360s with the TS-H943 DVD drive preventing against any Xbox Live detection attempts and allowing the 360 to play all “backup” game copies.
New Details On Gears Of War Update…. New Achievements Looks like Epic is going to be taking advantage of the extra 250 gamerscore via DLC, and we will be getting some more Gears of War achievements.
It’s not all about consoles anymore. PC Games are making a comeback, personally, I’ve always liked the PC games better, for the most part, games like Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 and Gears of War are definitely better on the consoles, like the Xbox 360, but games like Age of Empires, Civilization, etc are much better on the PC. A nice write-up in the Nytimes, PC Games, Once Down, Show Signs of Rebound, that talks about one of the most popular PC games of all time, World of Warcraft, and how it is helping bring a surge in PC Games sales again.
Not so long ago, PC titles were the mainstay of video gaming, but they have slumped in recent years, overshadowed by a new generation of game consoles. Now they are showing signs of a comeback.
Most prominent has been the strength of one of the most popular video games ever for PCs, World of Warcraft, a role-playing online adventure game that now has more than eight million subscribers.
But retail sales of other titles are on the rebound as well. PC manufacturers and chipmakers are promoting the game-playing prowess of ever more powerful computers. And Microsoft has inaugurated a program aimed at making PC gaming more attractive, incorporating console-like features and easier online play.
Another thing that is helping is better online play, like with WOW, and Microsoft is integrating PC gaming into Xbox Live, calling it Games for Windows – Live. Under Windows Vista, Vista evaluates the computer and gives it a system score that they can use to look at video games in the store to see if it will run well on their computer or not, to help ease the frustration of being a brand new game only to realize it will not run well or at all or their computer. They are also allowing games to use their controllers that come with their consoles, using a simple $20 adapter, so you can use your Xbox 360 controllers to play a PC game, something I have been wanting to try out. So, the barrier to playing PC games has really fallen, helping spur PC game sales.
I just added over 100 Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 Videos, as well as a bunch of the original Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, or GRAW2 and GRAW as they are sometimes referred to. Some are listed below. More after the jump.
Here are a bunch of tech stories for today.
Dell brings back XP on home systems Amid significant customer demand, the computer maker said on Thursday that it has returned to offering the older Windows version as an option on some of its consumer PCs.
How Security Companies Sucker Us With Lemons More than a year ago, I wrote about the increasing risks of data loss because more and more data fits in smaller and smaller packages. Today I use a 4-GB USB memory stick for backup while I am traveling. I like the convenience, but if I lose the tiny thing I risk all my data.
Vista, IE7 help Microsoft boost search market share In a rare bit of good news for Microsoft on the search front, web metrics firm comScore reported that for the month of March, Microsoft’s search engines saw their first market share increase in nearly a year. Microsoft’s search market share jumped 0.4 percentage points from February to March, giving it 10.9 percent of the total market.
April ’07 Back Compat Update April showers have yielded us a Back Compat update The latest backwards compatibility update is now available over Xbox Live (or will be very soon.) This free update brings the complete list of original Xbox games that you can play on your Xbox 360 to over 300.
Back to basics So we’re renaming Froogle as Google Product Search. We’re taking the opportunity to refocus the user experience on providing the most comprehensive, relevant results in a clean, simple, easy-to-use UI. Who cares.
Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn) Latest Ubuntu released, I may as well download this one and try it.
Google Video powering some pirate sites Google, already being sued for copyright infringement on its YouTube service, may have another copyright tempest brewing on its older Google Video site. The site hosts numerous full-length movies which are now being exploited by “guerilla” video sites; in essence, Google is one part of the engine that powers video piracy.
MySpace News Launches Thursday On Thursday morning MySpace will launch its much rumored news property at news.myspace.com. Expect the site to go live and a press release to be issued around 7 am EST.
Microsoft aims to reach next billion PC users Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is using a speech in Beijing to unveil a new low-cost bundle of Office and Windows, one of several new initiatives aimed at getting PCs into the hands of more people in emerging markets. Especially considering they have only sold 244 copies of Vista in China.
Widgetsphere: New Playground For Marketers If you’re in the online marketing game and are not yet hip to widgets, listen up. Two emerging Web 2.0 technology firms focused in this space have a message for you. Those companies are Widgetbox and ClearSpring, both of which presented in a session on Tuesday afternoon at Web 2.0 Expo that was billed as “Using Widget Syndication for Online Marketing and Measurement”.
Categories: Google, Microsoft News, Windows Vista, Windows XP Tags: Dell, Google Product Search, Google Video, IE7, Microsoft, MySpace, Security Companies, Ubuntu, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Xbox 360, Xbox Live
They have finally announced the release date for the much anticipated Halo 3 beta program. The beta will debut on Xbox Live on May 16th at 5AM, and if you haven’t gotten in on the beta yet, there is still a chance. Buy yourself, yes, I said buy, a specially marked copy of Crackdown or by the rule of three, meaning you played three hours of Halo 2 online, I believe.
We know you’re crazy for Halo 3 news, and here it is. The multiplayer Halo 3 beta will debut on Xbox Live, May 16th at 5AM. (Can I call in sick 5 weeks in advance?) How do you get on that beta? Either through the “Rule of Three” promotion or buying a copy of Crackdown for Xbox 360.
This is your chance to get to try new levels, weapons, vehicles, and try out some new game types. Maps shipping with the beta include Snowbound, Hugh Ground, and Valhalla – all new to Halo 3. Try your hand at the new Mongoose ATV, and gun-up with the new and improved Assault Rifle, Brute Spiker, Spike Grenades, and the killer Spartan Laser. Source: Halo 3 beta data announced – are you in?
Sounds really good, kotaku has some more info.
The Beta itself consists of three maps – Valhalla, High Ground and Snowbound – graphically improved since our first MP screenshots – and all three will be playable in Matchmaking only (that is after all, what we’re Beta testing here). All three maps are suitable for a wide variety of gameplay types, and you will have the chance to try all manner of game types, familiar and new.
There will also be new guns, vehicles and gameplay features to try – including the mysterious “X-Button” functionality.
There are a number of new features you’ll get to test out – including a new grenade type, a completely different class of weapon and some of the enhanced online functionality we plan to bring to the game – but it should be noted, a lot of secret features are hidden in this Beta.
You will see frame rate skips, unfinished animation and graphical features that will change come Fall. All the footage is clearly marked Alpha. You’re looking at the features here folks, not the final quality bar – which we’ve set pretty high. Your next taste of that will be in May. Source: Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta Dated
Here is a video I downloaded from Bungie.net showing you some of the features. They have a higher quality video on their site and an HD version on Xbox Live you can watch on your console.
Later today, Microsoft will be pushing out a Gears of War update, they are adding the Annex, enhancing game play and fixing some other minor play issues. This will be a rolling release, so everyone will not see it at the same time. More from Major Nelson’s site.
In Annex, gamers seize victory by keeping control over key map locations, or objectives, long enough to collect a winning number of points. Every map contains two to five identified objectives available for capture, with one objective active at a time. Objectives are based on map weapon-spawn locations and have a potential value of 60 points toward either team’s score. Teams collect those points by maintaining ownership of an objective until all 60 points have been distributed. Every second that a team controls an objective, the team gets one point. When an objective falls to zero points, the next objective is selected at random.
And while defending their objectives against the onslaught of Xbox LIVE opponents, gamers may notice the following minor adjustments to “Gears of War”:
VGA Cable Support: Monitor resolution widths greater than or equal to 1280 now render as letterbox. In particular VGA users running at 1280×1024 will now see the game in full 720p (1280×720) resolution in letterboxed form.
Adjusted Assassination Multiplayer Gametype: Leader no longer has to unlock weapons and now has to be executed to die.
Adjusted Boomshot: Splash damage to be more effective rendering targets down-but-not-out
Adjusted Hammer of Dawn: Aiming will be more forgiving of moving targets
Adjusted Roadie Run: Reduced frequency of accidentally grabbing cover while running
Kill Message Ticker: Ticker can now be seen while down-but-not-out and spectating
General: Addressed a number of possible exploits in multiplayer Source: Gears of War Auto Update
This is one of many updates that have happened on Xbox Live, such as the addition of two new maps in January.
Microsoft is adding Instant Messaging to the Xbox platform on Live, allowing the 6 million Xbox Live users to instant message the 260 million users on the Live Messenger service. You will be able to chat with up to six users and you will be able to plug in a USB keyboard to use.
Microsoft announced this evening that they will be integrating Live Messenger into the Xbox platform on May 7, linking 260 million Live Messenger users with 6 million Xbox Live users. Xbox Live users will be able to chat with up to six contacts simultaneously by plugging a USB keyboard into the Xbox. Gamers will love this. The video below shows some of the new features (taken from Kotaku). Source: Microsoft Adds Instant Messaging To Xbox
From the press release from Microsoft,
?Bringing the largest IM community in the world, Windows Live Messenger, to Xbox 360 makes sense, as Xbox LIVE has really become the largest social network on television,? said Jerry Johnson, product unit manager of Xbox LIVE at Microsoft. ?For our growing community of 6 million on Xbox LIVE, using Xbox 360 is a very social, connected experience. They are using Xbox 360 to play games, music and movies while simultaneously communicating with one another through video, voice and text chat. With this announcement we are simultaneously expanding the access of Xbox LIVE users to existing friends and family while introducing Windows Live Messenger users to the benefits of Xbox 360.? Source: Instant Messaging Comes to Xbox 360, Expanding the Largest Social Network on Television
Other features that will be added include:
A richer Achievement notification pop-up will showcase the name of the unlocked Achievement and the gamerscore value without needing to leave the game to check the Achievements list.
Enhanced family settings features for Xbox LIVE communications enable different defaults for video chat and voice chat.
A new Xbox LIVE Marketplace blade lets Xbox LIVE members access the content they seek ? whether it is game content or TV shows and movies (available in the United States) ? from one place on Xbox LIVE.
Updates to Xbox LIVE Arcade allow owners to quickly see which Xbox LIVE Arcade games their friends are playing and join in the fun. Xbox LIVE members can also compare progress of leaderboard scores and Achievements directly with all friends on their friends list. Expanded Tell a Friend capabilities make it easier than ever to boast about Achievements and high scores.
A new option in Auto Downloads provides faster access to the entire collection of free, trial-version Xbox LIVE Arcade games.
New progressive download controls provide easy access to optimal viewing options by letting people fast-forward, rewind, pause and resume as their video is downloaded from Xbox LIVE Marketplace.
Extension of the background download functionality will allow owners to set their Xbox 360 console to turn off automatically after downloads are complete.
Here is a demo video that Techcruch linked to.
Major Nelson says we weren’t hacked, in reference to accusations that some accounts were hacked into and taken by other users, and says there is no evidence that there was any compromise at all of their security on Xbox Live.
Despite some recent reports and speculation, I want to reassure all of our 6 million Xbox Live members that we have looked into the situation and found no evidence of any compromise of the security of the Xbox Live Network or Bungie.net. There have been a few isolated incidents where malicious users have been attempting to draw personal information from unsuspecting users and use it to gain access to their LIVE account. This is a good time to remind our members that they should never give out any of their personal information. Additionally it may be a good idea to download this free PDF file from Microsoft.com ‘ Help Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft? that gives you some excellent information and tips on how to protect yourself. Source: Xbox Live Security
But this website, Security Focus, lists how you do it, and it is a simple social engineering technique, you call them up and say hey, my Xbox crashed or my friend changed my password, of course, they won’t do it for you right off the bat, you need to keep calling and picking out bits and pieces of the info that you need.
“We here at Infamous steal at least 10 accounts a day depending on there (sic) levels,” claimed a site belonging to Clan Infamous, which bills itself as “the best account stealing + boosting clan” in Halo 2. “If you talk s**t we will mod on your account until it is banned. If the levels on it are good, we will use the Credit Card on your account to then change the gamer tag.”
The clan’s Web site, however, does detail the method its members use to steal accounts. Rather than hacking computer servers, the clan’s account stealers claim to rely on social engineering to convince support personnel at Microsoft—and its subsidiary Bungie Studios, the creator of the Halo game series–to help the attackers take control of the accounts. To do so, the players spin a story about something going wrong with their account–from a crashed box to a sibling changing the password–and ask for help “recovering” the data.
“You call 1-800-4my-xbox, pretend to be that person, make up a story about how your little brother put in the information on the account and it was all fake,” stated the Clan Infamous Web site. “You might get one little piece of information per call, but then you keep calling and keep calling, every time getting a little bit more information … once you have enough information you can get the password (and) the Windows Live ID reset.” Source: Account pretexters plague Xbox Live
So, no, they weren’t hacked, technically, but they are being socially engineered out of the info and helping them take the accounts. One would think that Microsoft would keep record of the calls made about each account, then it would be easy to tell if this is really happening.
And other news I’m sure Microsoft is just loving, they were declared Most Secure OS by Symantec, a company who isn’t to happy with Microsoft right now because of the Patch Guard stuff. The report is Internet Security Threat Report, and it is summed up nicely on the Internet News site.
The report found that Microsoft (Quote) Windows had the fewest number of patches and the shortest average patch development time of the five operating systems it monitored in the last six months of 2006.
During this period, 39 vulnerabilities, 12 of which were ranked high priority or severe, were found in Microsoft Windows and the company took an average of 21 days to fix them. It’s an increase of the 22 vulnerabilities and 13-day turnaround time for the first half of 2006 but still bested the competition handily.
Red Hat was next requiring an average of 58 days to address a total of 208 vulnerabilities, Mac OS X had 43 vulnerabilities in Mac OS X and a 66 day turnaround on fixes and HP-UX from Hewlett Packard and Solaris from Sun, HP-UX had 98 vulnerabilities in the second half of 06 and took 101 days to fix them, while Sun took on average 122 days to fix 63 vulnerabilities. Sun said they don’t know where Symantec got their numbers because they were way off.
For all of your Gears of War nuts, Newline studios has won the feature rights for the Gears of War movie and will be produced by Temple Hill. Gears of War has won awards in 2006 as Game of the Year from Game Developers Choice Awards and the Interactive Achievement Awards, has sold over 3 million copies, making it the fourth best selling game overall, and is the number one game on Xbox Live. It certainly is fun to play online, there are SO many ways to take people out, and SO many ways to tell them how much they suck afterwards, making it very popular with the younger generation.
Story, which is only modestly developed in the game, concerns a world reeling from an invasion by aliens known as the Locust. A small group of elite soldiers, including main character Marcus Fennix, who is rescued from prison at the beginning of the game, fight to retake the planet Sera for its surviving humans.
Epic developed an extensive back story in hopes of utilizing it for a film as well as potential novels.
“I’m not a gamer, but what blew me away about ‘Gears’ was how it captures the mythology of a war mission and how high the stakes are,” Godfrey told Daily Variety. Source: New Line nabs ‘Gears of War’
Several other popular games are in the pipeline to be made into movies as well, like “World of Warcraft” at Legendary, “Metal Gear Solid” at Sony and “Hitman,” on which Fox is starting production March 29. Even though past movies featuring gaming titles have not fared well, who here suffered through Doom, they feel Gears is stacked in their favor, and promise not to hurt the story or game at all.
Microsoft is getting ready to unleash Xbox Live for us PC Gamers, dubbed Windows – LIVE, they have only mentioned Halo 2, Shadowrun, and UNO, but the Xbox Live accounts, gamerscores and gamertags will all transfer over from existing users. There will be a free Silver account, that will allow multiplayer gaming, but not matchmaking or cross platform multiplayer, you will need a Gold account for that, and that will set you back $49.99 for a year.
While the editors of Games for Windows’ official magazine may not be ready to drink the Vista-flavored Kool-Aid just yet, Microsoft is ready to give Vista early adopters a handful of reasons to pick up the latest OS upgrade … err, at least they’re ready to announce a date when you may want to plan on doing the picking up: May 8th. Yup, in eight weeks, Microsoft’s Games for Windows Live service (doesn’t roll of the tongue as easily as Xbox Live, eh?) and its inaugural title, Halo 2, will be available for Vista users.
Don’t care much for Halo 2? In “June” Shadowrun — the first Live Anywhere title enabling cross-platform multiplayer — hits the Xbox 360 and Vista with full Live integration. The final title they’re eager to talk about is UNO, which will be released on Vista “later in 2007.” We’re not sure why a seemingly simple title like UNO isn’t making the launch of the service (or even getting a date) but Microsoft assures us there will be more news around this decision later and that it will be apparent why we’re not getting a release date now. They also said cross-platform licensing decisions for titles like UNO have not been worked out yet; we’re betting this is going to get tricky. Source: Games for Windows Live and Halo 2 hit Vista May 8th
From the Microsoft site,
Microsoft Corp. today announced the extension of the Xbox LIVE games and entertainment network to the Windows platform, bringing together the most popular online console game service with the most popular games platform in the world. Debuting on May 8, 2007, with the launch of the Windows Vista version of the Xbox blockbuster Halo 2, Games for Windows LIVE will connect Windows gamers to over six million gamers already in the Xbox LIVE community. Then, launching in June, Shadowrun? will for the first time connect Windows gamers with Xbox 360 players in cross-platform matches using a single service. UNO, releasing later in 2007, will also support cross-platform play between Windows and Xbox 360.
The launch of Games for Windows ? LIVE marks a major expansion of the Xbox LIVE service across multiple platforms, uniting gamers with a single identity, a single gamertag, a single friends list and a single list of achievements attainable on the Xbox 360 and a Windows-based PC. Games for Windows ? LIVE gamers will be able to easily find and play supported titles online with their friends across a Windows computer or an Xbox 360. As a unified service with Xbox LIVE, Games for Windows ? LIVE will be available in every country and region supported today by Xbox LIVE. Source: Microsoft Unites Xbox and PC Gamers With Debut of Games for Windows ? LIVE
Here are the membership level features:
Silver Membership Features
? Single gamertag
? Common gamer profile
? Common gamerscore
? Single player achievements
? Private chat via text and voice
? Common friends list and online presence
? PC only multiplayer including browsing a list of active PC games
Gold Membership Features
? All Silver membership features
? Multiplayer matchmaking with friends
? TrueSkill matchmaking
? Multiplayer achievements
? Cross-platform game play
When Microsoft releases a new product, there is almost always hundreds of articles telling why it will be a hit or why it will fail, especially if they are going up against Apple. Apple practically owns the mp3 player market, and most of its fans believe Microsoft doesn’t have a chance because the iPod is so popular and is so cool. We have two in my family right now, a Nano and one of the orginal, 20 gig iPods without the color screen, dangit. But, when you take on Microsoft, you usually take on the whole outfit, with the release of the Zune, Microsoft has already announced that you will be able to buy songs through their service with Microsoft Points, which had only been usable on the Xbox live site, I believe. So you know there will be more cross promotion, and probably increased interoperability, there will probably be hooks so you can connect to Windows XP Media Center pcs to play music, and, if they are smart, free songs with everything they sell. The Zune will be able to plug into the Xbox through the USB port, a fact they will no doubt advertise on the Xbox Live site.
Mike Elgan at Computerworld says Apple is scared os the Zune and give five reasons why they should be.
1. Microsoft is hatching a consumer media “perfect storm.”
Apple fans assume iPod will face Zune in the market, mano a mano, like other media players. But that’s not the case. Zune will be supported and promoted and will leverage the collective power of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Soapbox (Microsoft’s new “YouTube killer”) and the Xbox 360.
Microsoft will make the movement of media between Windows, Soapbox and the Zune natural and seamless. The Zune interface is just like a miniature version of the Windows Media Center user interface and is very similar to some elements of Vista.
Apple fans are overconfident in the iPod because Apple once commanded 92% of music player market share, a number that has since fallen to around 70%. About 30 million people own iPods.
But Microsoft owns more than 90% of the worldwide operating systems market (compared with Apple’s roughly 5%), representing some 300 million people. The company expects to have 200 million Vista users within two years.
The Zune will plug directly into the Xbox via a standard Universal Serial Bus cable — a fact Microsoft will drill into the heads of Xbox users on the Xbox Live online gaming service. The Zune Marketplace will be integrated with, and promoted by, the Xbox Live Marketplace.
Apple faces the prospect of competing not with the Zune alone, but with a mighty Windows-Soapbox-Xbox-Zune industrial complex.
He has four more reasons in the article, available here.