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Sunday June 25, 2017

Titanfall 2 Goes up to 6K Resolution on Xbox One X

A producer at Respawn Entertainment claims that the Xbox One X is capable of rendering Titanfall 2 at 3200p when the console’s GPU is pushed to its limit: occasionally, the system may render at 6K resolution and downsample those images to whatever resolution the Xbox is outputting to. The result is "truly glorious on a 4K display."

...although the Xbox One X outputs at 4K, there are times when Titanfall 2 can actually render higher. Naturally, this isn't a scenario that is a constant occurrence, but it is still impressive to hear that the upcoming Xbox console can render the title at 3200p, which is a little above 6K resolution. Of course, every game will be different depending on how much load is being put on the GPU.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 3:35 PM (CDT)

Americans Are Getting Tired of Michael Bay's Transformers Films

The latest Transformers film, "The Last Knight," has opened at a franchise low of $69 million. This is a far cry from 2014’s "Age of Extinction," which brought in over $100 million within the same timeframe. Some consider this to be a clear signal for a reboot, but foreign numbers are looking a lot better: the film has racked up $196 million so far in China and other territories.

"The Last Knight" carries an estimated $217 million production budget. This makes "Transformers: The Last Knight" the latest summer blockbuster to bank on overseas ticket sales to have a shot at turning a profit. In China, the big-budget action sequel made $41 million in its opening day alone. The projected international cume through Sunday is $196.2 million, powered by $123.4 million in China. Imax screens will account for $24.3 million of the film’s total earnings this weekend.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 3:00 PM (CDT)

Square Enix Congratulates Denuvo: "Thanks to You, People Have to Buy the Game"

Three testimonials are currently featured on the official Denuvo site, and people are finding Square Enix’s quote amusing. Apparently, the Deus Ex and Final Fantasy publisher thinks that PC gamers do not buy games and pirate everything. Of course, this could just be sarcasm, considering the state of Denuvo these days.

Square Enix congratulated Denuvo, claiming that thanks to this anti-tamper tech, people now have to buy their games. Ouch. Here is Square Enix’s full quote: "Thanks to you for the incredible service your team provide - it’s great to partner with you! It’s thanks to you guys that people have to buy the game." Ironically, and as we’ve already stated, even the latest version of the Denuvo anti-tamper tech has been cracked. Still, Square Enix’s quote implies that PC gamers are pirates and that they wouldn’t buy games otherwise.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 2:20 PM (CDT)

Microsoft Files New Patent to Stop Laptop Thieves

All of the major smartphone platforms have some kind of remote erase capability, and that same perk may be coming to laptops, courtesy of the cellular technology in always-connected PCs and a related patent that would allow users to send a signal that locks a PC and wipes the device - even when there is no service. In another patent, Microsoft wants to be able to detect when you are about to eat something.

At least some embodiments described herein relate to the restricted use of a cellular network to facilitate disablement of a device that is suspected lost or stolen. Accordingly, even if the device is not capable of general use of the cellular network (e.g., due to a physical authentication module, such as a subscriber identity module, being absent and/or due to a software restriction on cellular network access), disablement communications are still permitted across the cellular network.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 2:00 PM (CDT)

Prey Can Be Beaten in Just under 7 Minutes

Loading times aside, the world record for beating Prey is now officially 6:59.50. This feat was accomplished by clever use of the GLOO Cannon, which allows players to bend the world and zip through it. Prey is currently on sale for $39.59 at the Steam store for those who want to attempt this speedrun themselves.
Discussion Posted by Megalith 1:20 PM (CDT)

Anthem Paying Record $115M to Settle Data Breach Suit

Back in 2015, Anthem’s systems were breached using a stolen password, resulting in the exposure and theft of nearly 80 million records, including client names, dates of birth, physical and email addresses, medical IDs, and Social Security numbers. The US’s largest insurance company is now expected to pay for that mistake with the largest settlement to date for a data breach case. Funds will go toward credit monitoring services for victims, among other things. would be the largest data breach settlement in history, according to the plaintiffs' lawyers, who announced the agreement Friday. The funds would be used to provide victims of the data breach at least two years of credit monitoring and to reimburse customers for breach-related expenses. The settlement would also guarantee a certain level of funding for "information security to implement or maintain numerous specific changes to its data security systems, including encryption of certain information and archiving sensitive data with strict access controls," the plaintiff attorneys said.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 1:05 PM (CDT)

German Police Are Raiding Homes over Hateful Postings on Social Media

Over 30 homes were raided in Germany this week for hateful postings over social media, which included threats, coercion, and incitement to racism. Social media users are already subject to a range of punishments for posting illegal material, but Justice Minister Heiko Maas is championing further laws that crack down on hate speech: these new statutes would force networks to offer a readily available complaint process for posts that may amount to threats, hate speech, defamation, or incitement to commit a crime, among other offences.

Social media outlets would have 24 hours to delete "obviously criminal content" and a week to decide on more ambiguous cases. According to a recent government study, Facebook deleted just 39 per cent of illegal hate speech within 24 hours in January and February, despite signing a code of conduct in 2015 pledging to meet this standard. Twitter deleted just 1 per cent. "We are disappointed by the results," Klaus Gorny, a Facebook spokesman, said in a statement this year regarding the study. "We have clear rules against hate speech and work hard to keep it off our platform."

Discussion Posted by Megalith 12:50 PM (CDT)

Skylake and Kaby Lake Processors Allegedly Have Broken Hyper-Threading

A warning advisory has gone out on Debian mailing lists claiming that Skylake and Kaby Lake processors may "dangerously misbehave" when Hyper-Threading is enabled: the writer advises that users should disable the feature immediately in their BIOS/UEFI to work around the problem. The defect can potentially affect any operating system (it is not restricted to Debian and other Linux-based systems).

This advisory is about a processor/microcode defect recently identified on Intel Skylake and Intel Kaby Lake processors with hyper-threading enabled. This defect can, when triggered, cause unpredictable system behavior: it could cause spurious errors, such as application and system misbehavior, data corruption, and data loss. It was brought to the attention of the Debian project that this defect is known to directly affect some Debian stable users (refer to the end of this advisory for details), thus this advisory.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 12:30 PM (CDT)

Ex-Tesla Engineer Creates a Cure for Hangovers

A Tesla engineer decided to quit his job after he "discovered" a cure for hangovers and interest in the potion quickly took off. Obviously, the best cure is to not drink at all, but this FDA-compliant concoction may be useful to those who tend to go crazy on the bottle. Interestingly, it sounds as if all Mr. Lee did was copy the formulas for similar drinks that are already popular and widely available in Korea: his original intent was merely to act as a distributor, but companies were not interested.

...the secret ingredient, according to Liang's papers, is an herbal compound called dihydromyricetin (DHM) found in the Oriental raisin tree and the rattan tree, Lee says. Herbal drinks from these trees have been used to cure hangovers in Asia for thousands of years, Lee discovered. Hangovers are caused when we drink more alcohol than our livers can handle, and a type of toxic acid builds up, he said. Too much of that acid causes inflammation like a headache. Too much too fast can cause vomiting. DHM helps the body remove this toxic acid, he said.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 12:10 PM (CDT)

iPhone Faces Potential Ban in Italy Due to "Walled Garden" Software Approach

The "walled garden" approach is not necessarily a bad idea, particularly from a security standpoint, but the concept may conflict with a new bill being proposed in Italy allowing users to download any software, whether proprietary or open source, on any platform. Although the ban is unlikely to actually go forward, iOS does fail to meet the expectations of the proposed law: apps can only be distributed through the App Store, and only if developers adhere to Apple's guidelines.

The bill in question, Senate Act 2484, is aimed at ensuring Italians have open access to software, content, and services. The portion of the bill potentially relevant to Apple essentially says that users should have the right to download any software, whether proprietary or open source, on any platform. Users have the right to, in an appropriate format to the required technology platform use fair and non-discriminatory software, proprietary or open source content and services of their choice.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 11:40 AM (CDT)

Quake Champions Will Be Available on Steam

The Quake Champions beta is only accessible through the launcher for the time being, but you will be able to play the game from Steam with a linked account when the game properly releases later this year. The information comes from a recent developer inquiry posted on the Bethesda forum: something I found amusing is the suggestion that Capture the Flag and other classic multiplayer modes aren’t "an immediate priority" for the team, though I imagine they will show up eventually.

"Quake Champions will indeed be released on Steam. You will still be required to have a linked account, but users playing the game from Steam will not go through the launcher. During the current beta period the game will only be available through the launcher." At the very least, the Steam release should open it up to a wider player base and ensure that there’s enough people in the servers to get a decent game whenever you want.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 11:15 AM (CDT)

Pixel 2 "Walleye" and "Taimen" Specifications Revealed

XDA-Developers has received what they believe to be the finalized specifications for the new Pixel phones due later this year. The larger device, "Taimen," features a 5.99-inch, 1440p display, Snapdragon 835 processor, and 4GB of RAM, while the smaller device, "Walleye," features a 4.97-inch, 1080p display with the same innards. Apparently, the latter definitely lacks a headphone jack.

The larger device coming from Google this year will feature a 5.99-inch display with a 1440p OLED panel provided by LG, which isn’t extraordinary given that earlier this year, Reuters reported about Google investing into LG’s display division for their next phone. The phone will sport a smaller bezel than what we saw in the original Pixel XL, and there is a 128GB storage model, though it might not be the only configuration. The device will indeed pack the expected Snapdragon 835 processor (with the big cluster clocked at the reference 2.45GHz frequency, unlike the original Pixel’s lower frequency in the Snapdragon 821-AB) alongside 4GB of RAM.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 10:00 AM (CDT)
Saturday June 24, 2017

Wall Street Cheers Replacement of Cashiers with Digital Kiosks

McDonald's has hit an all-time high after announcing that they would be upgrading 2,500 restaurants with digital ordering kiosks. As far as I can tell, these stores will do away with cashiers entirely - though comments from corporate suggest that human workers will simply be given new roles.

"Our CEO, Steve Easterbrook, has said on many occasions that self-order kiosks in McDonald's restaurants are not a labor replacement. They provide an opportunity to transition back-of-the-house positions to more customer service roles such as concierges and table service where they are able to truly engage with guests and enhance the dining experience."

Discussion Posted by Megalith 4:00 PM (CDT)

More Rumors Add Weight to SNES Classic Mini

It seems obvious enough at this point that a sequel to the NES Mini is in the works, but GameStop managers are supposedly blabbing about some kind of meetup they had with Nintendo representatives that confirms the SNES version’s existence. While there is still no word on release date, the product is meant to drive "headlines and foot traffic": stores have already been warned to prepare for long lines. One manager notes that these systems exist purely to "pander to that lowest common denominator with cheap sh*t and nostalgia."

...I got to chatting with the store manager about Nintendo and their tendency to make things that people can't buy. He was surprisingly passionate about the topic. He even went as far as to call the company "F*ck-tendo" at one point. One thing led to another, and he eventually let loose with a story about how Nintendo had told him and other store managers at a "behind closed doors event" that a SNES Classic plug-and-play system was in the works. He specifically said that there was no release date for it, but that his guess was that it would "drop this holiday" and "would be made in short supply just to piss people like me off ha ha ha!"

Discussion Posted by Megalith 3:20 PM (CDT)

Sharp to Start OLED TV Panel Production

LG may not be the only game in town when it comes to OLED TV panels in the coming years, as Sharp has announced that it will spend $516 million to build production lines for such displays. The company happens to run some of the most advanced plants in the world and is a pioneer in panel production, so I presume that everything will go according to plan. Now here is the part where I whine about how there are still no OLED monitors: I just read a comment about how companies are more worried about getting rid of their huge, crappy TN backlog.

...Sharp confirmed it could begin producing OLED TV panels at its Sakai factory in Osaka, Japan, in "coming years." Currently, only LG Display is producing OLED panels suitable for consumer television production, and it sells some of those to Sony, Panasonic and others for those brands’ 4K OLED TVs, now sold in various markets around the world. Due to high prices and limited availability, OLED’s share of the overall television market remains small. Global OLED TV shipments are expected to pass the 2 million unit mark in 2017, according to market research estimates.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 1:40 PM (CDT)

Texting While Driving Now Legal in Colorado, in Some Cases

Colorado lawmakers think that texting while driving is perfectly acceptable, so long as you aren’t doing it in "a careless or imprudent manner." I don’t know what that actually means, or how cops will determine what is careless and what isn’t. The article reiterates the fact that cellphone use is still banned for drivers younger than 18, though some other guy in the state wants to ban kids entirely from using smartphones.

Tim Lane of the Colorado District Attorney’s Office confirmed the softening crackdown on all texting and driving. "The simple fact is that if you are texting while driving but not being careless, it’s no longer illegal," he said. What constitutes "careless" driving is up to the discretion of each individual law enforcement officer. Cellphone use of any kind is still banned for drivers younger than 18. Teens caught with a phone in hand while driving will be slapped with a $50 fine.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 1:20 PM (CDT)

Bethesda Accused of Bleeding Gamers Dry with Skyrim VR

I thought this whining would concern Creation Club (an alternative to paid mods), but now people are angry at Bethesda for "milking" Skyrim: the company recently unveiled yet another version of the 2011 Elder Scrolls title, with VR support, but they are asking gamers to pay $59.99 for it. Did converting the game take more effort than one would think, or is Bethesda just being your typical greedy publisher?

This is a problem I’ve had with the gaming industry in general for years. Games seem to be constantly rereleased, drops of blood extracted from their bodies until they’re downright anemic. But Skyrim has been rereleased four times in six years, which is extreme even for this industry. Let me be clear (again) that I’m not bashing Skyrim because I dislike it or think it’s a bad game. I’ve logged hundreds of hours in it, and I enjoyed most of them. But it’s just one game. No game on the planet deserves this many bites at the apple, at least not without more meaningful overhauls than what it’s received.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 1:00 PM (CDT)

US House Pushes for Creation of Military "Space Corps"

America could soon have a new branch of the military protecting outer space: the US military is being asked to establish a dedicated fighting force for space by lawmakers. The Air Force - which already holds responsibility for national security space programs through "Space Command" - apparently hates the idea, claiming that resources are already very limited and this would just complicate Pentagon matters. Maybe they should hand it over to the Navy, just so we get the space marines we were promised from all that sci-fi.

...backers say the creation of a Space Corps would elevate the priority of space as a war-fighting environment, as countries like China and Russia develop weapons that could neutralize the advantage America now enjoys from its vast network of communications, targeting and navigation satellites. That network includes the Global Positioning System, or GPS, which is currently operated by the Air Force. Rogers said on Thursday that he was "outraged" by the pushback on the proposal from Air Force leadership.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 12:20 PM (CDT)

Galaxy Note 8 Will Launch in Late September for over $900

Writers appear to be shocked at the upcoming Note’s price, but I could have sworn that Samsung’s last attempt was close to $900 as well. Evan Blass has revealed that the Note 8 will drop in September, and, contesting previous reports, the fingerprint reader placement will actually be similar to the Galaxy S8, which is a little disappointing. Samsung has also stepped down from the Note 7’s 3500 mAh battery to a 3300 mAh one: I wonder why they did that...

Internally, while the Note8 will utilize the same top-of-the-line Exynos 8895 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipsets as the Galaxy S8 and S8+, it will be paired with a more generous 6GB of RAM - making it only Samsung’s second handset, after the Galaxy C9 Pro, to exceed the 4GB threshold. It will also be Samsung’s first phone with dual cameras on the back, each of which features a 12-megapixel sensor and independent optical image stabilization for the lens. The lenses are said to be configured horizontally, situated to the left of the flash and heart rate sensor.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 11:55 AM (CDT)

Modern Warfare: Remastered Heads to PS4 on June 27th

The Call of Duty channel has uploaded a new Modern Warfare Remastered trailer to celebrate the standalone release of their classic title, which is due for PS4 next week. Unfortunately, there seems to be no word on when the PC version is coming - though if you’re desperate enough, you can still get the Infinite Warfare Legacy Edition. I wonder how many years I will have to wait for it to drop to a reasonable price on Steam ( how is Black Ops II’s sale price still $29.99? ) .
Discussion Posted by Megalith 11:30 AM (CDT)

FCC Proposes "Blue Alert" for Threats against Law Enforcement

Vigilantes, rejoice: the FCC intends to establish a national system that notifies the public of ongoing threats to law enforcement in their area through broadcast, cable, satellite, and wireline video outlets. Basically, these will function like Amber Alerts, but for crime in your area: it’s great news for those who want to play Batman or Punisher.

The new alert was proposed by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in May and a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was released for the Commission to consider at today's meeting. In a press release, the FCC said, "Blue Alerts can be used to warn the public when there is actionable information related to a law enforcement officer who is missing, seriously injured or killed in the line of duty, or when there is an imminent credible threat to an officer. As a result, a Blue Alert could quickly warn you if a violent suspect may be in your community, along with providing instructions on what to do if you spot the suspect and how to stay safe."

Discussion Posted by Megalith 11:00 AM (CDT)

Hackers Leak 32 Terabytes of Secret Windows 10 Code

Yet another story reducing Windows morale: heaps of Windows 10 internal builds and private source code have leaked online. The data was meant only for Microsoft, hardware manufacturers, and select customers, but now unscrupulous types have an excellent avenue for finding new security vulnerabilities and Windows exploits. While they are in the process of being removed, Microsoft has confirmed the files to be a portion of the source code from the Shared Source Initiative, used by OEMs and partners.

The data - some 32TB of official and non-public installation images and software blueprints that compress down to 8TB - were uploaded to, the latest load of files provided just earlier this week. It is believed the confidential data in this dump was exfiltrated from Microsoft's in-house systems around March this year. The leaked code is Microsoft's Shared Source Kit: according to people who have seen its contents, it includes the source to the base Windows 10 hardware drivers plus Redmond's PnP code, its USB and Wi-Fi stacks, its storage drivers, and ARM-specific OneCore kernel code.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 10:45 AM (CDT)

Word Macro Used to Break into the "More Secure" Windows 10 S

Remember when Microsoft said no known ransomware could run on Windows 10 S? ZDNet decided to put their claim to the test by hiring a security researcher to hack it, and he actually succeeded in doing so in a little more than three hours using Word as the attack vector. While the hack is not guaranteed, it does show that W10 S is not bulletproof.

Bottom line: If it's not in the app store, it won't run. Cracking Windows 10 S was a tougher task than we expected. But one common attack point exists. Hickey was able to exploit how Microsoft Word, available to download from the Windows app store, handles and processes macros. These typically small, script-based programs are designed to automate tasks, but they're also commonly used by malware writers.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 10:15 AM (CDT)

GTA V Mod OpenIV Returns after Rockstar Softens Stance

OpenIV and other single-player mods are back in business: Rockstar Games held discussions with Take-Two and managed to convince the publisher to leave modders alone. Apparently, their animosity toward mods stemmed from how they could affect multiplayer. OpenIV, however, never touched GTA Online.

Following a strong backlash from the community, developer Rockstar has stepped in to get Take-Two to soften their harsh stance against mods. Take-Two’s main issue against OpenIV and other tools was the threat they posed against the GTA Online mode, and their potential for cheating and harassment. Their letter to the mod’s developers threatened legal action if the tool wasn’t taken offline, which the team did comply with, leaving a significant number of players unable to use their customizations. However, OpenIV was only used to modify GTA 5‘s single-player game, and never touched GTA Online.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 9:40 AM (CDT)

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