Today at a press conference leading up to E3, Microsoft unveiled its next-gen games/entertainment console, the Xbox One. Their stated goal for the Xbox One is to have a single device provide "all of your entertainment." One of the big changes is increased support for voice and and gesture input. You can turn the console on by voice, and it will recognize you and automatically login. Swiping to the side with your hand will browse through menu pages, and saying "Watch TV" will bring up the TV app very quickly. The same with music, internet, and movies. The new console also supports multitasking — for example, while watching a movie, you can bring up your web browser in a side panel and surf the web at the same time. There is also a built-in TV listings app that responds to channel names — saying "Watch CBS" will switch to CBS without giving it an actual channel number. By this point, you're probably asking: does it play games? Yes. Hardware specs: 8-core CPU/GPU, 8GB RAM, a Blu-ray drive, a 500GB HDD, USB 3.0, and Wi-fi Direct. (They didn't provide the CPU frequency, instead saying it had 5 billion transistors.) The Kinect sensor got an upgrade: 2Gbps of data capture has finer skeletal visibility, can detect minor orientation changes in hands and fingers, and can even calculate your balance and weight distribution. The new controller looks slightly bigger, and is designed to play well with Kinect. They've also updated Smartglass, the remote control software that runs on mobile devices, but they didn't explain much about it. The new Xbox Live will have 300,000 servers powering it, up from 15,000 this year — though, of course, no details were provided about server specs. The console will have native game capture and editing tools — essentially, a game DVR. Saved games will be stored in the cloud, and they have new matchmaking capabilities that operate in the background. Update: 05/21 17:50 GMT by S : Halo is getting its own live-action TV show, for some reason. They'll be collaborating with Steven Spielberg. Microsoft is also partnering with the NFL for live broadcasts and interactive experiences, such as split-screen Skype chats and fantasy league updates. Xbox One will be out "later this year." No price information. it will not be backward-compatible with Xbox 360 games.
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benrothke writes "Had Locked Down: Information Security for Lawyers not been published by the American Bar Association (ABA) and 2 of its 3 authors not been attorneys; one would have thought the book is a reproach against attorneys for their obliviousness towards information security and privacy. In numerous places, the book notes that lawyers are often clueless when it comes to digital security. With that, the book is a long-overdue and valuable information security reference for anyone, not just lawyers." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
itwbennett writes "Last week, Dell said that it would be 'refining' its OpenStack plans. Now we know that 'refining' means 'backing away from'. Although the company wouldn't answer direct questions on the subject, a press release spells it out like this: 'Sales of Dell's current in-house multi-tenant public cloud IaaS will be discontinued in the U.S. in favor of best-in-class partner offerings.' Interestingly, none of Dell's initial partners, including Joyent, ScaleMatrix and ZeroLag, have platforms built on OpenStack."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Yahoo has agreed to acquire Tumblr for $1.1 billion. As you know, Yahoo is a major corporation with a need to monetize its assets in a way that makes its shareholders happy, leaving open the question of whether it'll alter Tumblr's DNA in order to make the latter more of a significant cash generator. But at least for the moment, Yahoo seems content to leave its new property alone. 'Per the agreement and our promise not to screw it up, Tumblr will be independently operated as a separate business,' read the company's press release. 'The product, service and brand will continue to be defined and developed separately with the same Tumblr irreverence, wit, and commitment to empower creators.' Tumblr CEO David Karp, who has been known to make some very anti-advertising comments in the past, will remain in place. Even so, anyone who likes Tumblr may have some cause for concern, because Yahoo has a history of making high-profile acquisitions that subsequently implode. Back in 1999, for example, it paid over $3 billion for GeoCities, another blogging network that it eventually shut down after years of failing the update the property. In 2005, it acquired popular photo-sharing Website Flickr, which it likewise allowed to languish and die. That same year it bought Delicious, a popular Webpage-bookmarking site, and did exactly nothing with it. So when Yahoo starts off its Tumblr press release with a promise not to screw things up, it's a self-deprecating nod toward all that history. New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has been on a bit of a buying spree of late, snatching up startups such as Summly in an attempt to make her company 'cool' and relevant."
hypnosec writes "IBM is taking its COBOL server platform to the next level by updating the mainframe platform in a bid to extend and enable its mainframes to host cloud based applications and services. The latest update is looking to add XMLS Server as well as Java 7 capabilities to the System/z COBOL platform and this update would extend the overall lifespan of COBOL by taking it up a notch and gearing it towards the cloud computing arena."
An anonymous reader writes "Tom's Hardware reports on the Connectify Switchboard software that "divides the user's traffic between Wi-Fi, 3G/4G and Ethernet-based connections on a packet-by-packet basis. Even a single stream — such as a Netflix movie — can be split between two or three Internet connections for a higher resolution and faster buffering." As part of its Kickstarter campaign, Connectify is geolocating their backers to optimize deployment of their servers. This is a clever way for supporters to influence the project beyond pledge levels and stretch goals, and it's actually kind of fun to watch."
Nerval's Lobster writes "At this week's Google I/O in San Francisco, Google CEO Larry Page stood onstage and took unscripted questions from an auditorium of conference attendees. That's an unusual move for any chief executive, the sort of thing that risks giving their PR people a heart attack. But Page wasn't up there to offer insights into strategy or drop hints about upcoming products: he wanted to talk about how negativity in the tech industry stood in the way of innovation. 'Despite the faster change we have in the industry, we're still moving slow relative to the opportunities that we have,' he said. 'And some of that, I think, has to do with the negativity. Every story I read about Google, it's us versus some other company or some stupid thing.' Being negative, he added, is not how the tech industry makes progress. But minutes later, Page couldn't resist swiping at Oracle and Microsoft. And Google's battles are just one small element in the circular firing squad that comprises most of the tech industry: Apple versus Google versus Samsung versus Microsoft versus Oracle versus Salesforce versus lots of little startups. Those battles won't fade away anytime soon, because corporations have one goal: profit. And so long as other rivals' technological innovations or marketplace maneuvers stand in the way of that profit, the lawsuits and the CEO sniping will continue. The part of Page's talk that centered on peace and love played well to the audience at Google I/O; but it's easier to argue that the true mode of the tech industry, at its core, is Darwinian competition. Do you agree?"
Nerval's Lobster writes "The United States with its H-1B controversy isn't the only country going through that sort of immigration upheaval. As the cult of entrepreneurship spirals upward in Europe, the intricate vagaries of immigration policy on the continent are being newly scrutinized by our company-building classes. Freshly venture-backed European Internet companies want talent, and they are going to remarkable lengths to get it — but not always legally. Milo Yiannopoulos talked to whole bunch of entrepreneurs and investors in Europe about the fudges, shortcuts, workarounds and, in some cases, 'strategic decision-making' are — just about — getting their companies the talent they need. For example, one well-known Parisian venture capitalist told Milo that he knows of 'at least nine' startups in France employing developers illegally, keeping them off the books not only to avoid France's notoriously onerous labor laws but also because it would have been impossible, or simply too expensive, to import them officially."
Google's I/O annual conference is ramping up at San Francisco's Moscone Center. Last year, in the conference keynote, the company took its biggest-yet dive into hardware when it introduced the Nexus 7 tablet, Google Glass, and the ill-fated Nexus Q. The secret is out on Glass, of course: this year, there's a pavilion inside the conference center where I'm sure they'll be showing off applications for it. (Quite a few of the people in the endless lines here are wearing their own, too.) Anticipating the announcements at I/O is practically its own industry, but it's easy to guess that there will be announcements from all the major pots in which Google has its many thousands of (tapping) fingers. Android, search, Chrome, mapping, and all the other ways in which the behemoth of Mountain View is watching what you do. You can watch the keynote talk (talks, really) streamed online from the main conference link above, but this story will be updated with highlights of the announcements, as well with stories that readers contribute. Update: 05/15 16:22 GMT by T : Updates below. Update: 05/15 19:02 GMT by T :Update details: Notes (ongoing) added below on maps, gaming, the Play store, Google+, and more. And, notable, Larry Page is (at this writing) on stage, with an unannounced Q & A session.
grub writes writes with news that BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins has announced that BBM (BlackBerry Messenger, one of the favorite features of BlackBerry device-owners) will soon be coming to rival mobile operating systems. Devices running iOS 6 and Android ICS or later will be supported, pending approval with the App Store and Google Play. "BBM uses carrier data networks to pass secure messages back and forth through its servers to other BlackBerry users. The service recently gained the ability to make phone calls, conduct video chats and even share screen tops with other BBM users (requires BlackBerry 10). Normal chat and group chats will be the first features to hit the Android and iOS BBM apps, followed by the others (including voice and video) during the course of the year. BBM for Android and iOS will be free." The company also unveiled a new smartphone today: the Q5. It's a budget device intended for emerging markets.
zacharye writes "The HTC First, or 'Facebook phone' as many prefer to call it, is officially a flop. It certainly wasn't a good sign when AT&T dropped the price of HTC's First to $0.99 just one month after its debut, and now BGR has confirmed that HTC and Facebook's little experiment is nearing its end. BGR has learned from a trusted source that sales of the HTC First have been shockingly bad. So bad, in fact, that AT&T has already decided to discontinue the phone. Our source at AT&T has confirmed that the HTC First, which is the first smartphone to ship with Facebook Home pre-installed, will soon be discontinued and unsold inventory will be returned to HTC. How much unsold inventory is there? We don’t have an exact figure, but things aren’t looking good. According to our source, AT&T sold fewer than 15,000 units nationwide through last week when the phone’s price was slashed to $0.99."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates displayed a bit of emotion when talking to CBS's 60 Minutes about Steve Jobs. The interview didn't focus entirely on the relationship between the two men, with most of its running time devoted instead to Gates's charitable efforts. But when the conversation shifted to their last meeting before Jobs's death from cancer in 2011, Gates—normally so cerebral—seemed a bit sad. 'When he was sick I got to go down and spend time with him,' Gates said, describing their meeting as 'forward looking.' Jobs spent a portion of their time together showing off designs for his yacht, which he would never see completed—something that Gates defended when the interviewer seemed a little bit incredulous. 'Thinking about your potential mortality isn't very constructive,' he said. Gates also praised Steve Jobs's marketing and design skills: 'He understood, he had an intuitive sense for marketing that was amazing.' In contrast to his subtle—and not so subtle—digs at the iPad over the years, Gates conceded that Apple had 'put the pieces together in a way that succeeded' with regard to tablets. Gates's magnanimity toward his former rival and Apple is a reflection, perhaps, of his current position in life: it's been nearly five years since his last full-time day at Microsoft, and all of his efforts seem focused on his philanthropic endeavors. He simply has no reason to rip a rival limb from limb in the same way he did as Microsoft CEO."
Android Police reports on an information leak out of Google in the lead-up to their I/O conference, which starts on May 15th. A new version of Google Play Services contains information about "Google Play Games," the company's long anticipated unified gaming service. The leak shows support for saved game syncing, matchmaking, notifications, game invites, achievements, leaderboards, and integration with other Google services. "Who can send you notifications is, of course, managed by Google+. Pressing that button will bring up the usual circle dialog. All Play Games identity work will be done by Google+. Try and look surprised. ... Play Games can somehow "auto pick" players, which means you can manually pick them too. Presumably this would go down in a match-making lobby of some kind. There are limited slots to a game, we just don't know how many. ... Leaderboards by time - choose this week, all time, or today. You can also show "player-centered" scores so you can find where you are on the boards. Leaderboards plug into G+ and can be non-public. You can also filter the leaderboard by people in your circles. It will also show you what percentile you're in.
netbuzz writes "The city of Boston, which employs 20,000 people, has become the latest large organization to switch from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps. The city estimates that the move will save it $280,000 a year. Microsoft's reaction? 'We believe the citizens of Boston deserve cloud productivity tools that protect their security and privacy. Google's investments in these areas are inadequate, and they lack the proper protections most organizations require.' More and more customers aren't buying that FUD." Hopefully they'll be more satisfied than Los Angeles was (PDF).
Lucas123 writes "Researchers are developing machine-to-machine (M2M) communication technology that allows cars to exchange data with each other, enabling vehicles to know what the cars all around them are doing, and perhaps, where they're going. Intel is working with National Taiwan University on M2M connectivity, an idea came from caravanning — an available, but-not-yet-deployed technology that uses direct line of site infrared (IR) and a range finder in order to automatically adjust the speed of cars so they can travel at a measured distance from each other. In other words, they're electronically tethered to one another. Now, imagine a group of cars traveling down the road together as an ad hoc network, each one aware of the location, any sudden actions or even the travel route of other vehicles as uploaded to the cloud from a GPS device. 'We're even imagining in the future cars would be able to ask other cars, "Hey, can I cut into your lane?" Then the other car would let you in,' said Jennifer Healey, a research scientist with Intel."
whoever57 writes "According to a report in Techcrunch, Microsoft is considering buying out the remaining shares in Nook Media. Microsoft already owns 17% of Nook Media. Documents reveal that Nook Media plans to discontinue selling tablets and transition to a model under which media is distributed through partners." (Also at SlashCloud.)
Nerval's Lobster writes "For comedy publication The Onion, a recent cyber-attack by the Syrian Electronic Army was no laughing matter. The SEA managed to compromise The Onion's Twitter account, plastering it with insults aimed at the United Nations, Israel, and Syrian rebels. 'UN retracts report of Syrian chemical weapon use: "Lab tests confirm it is Jihadi body odor,"' read a typical (and perhaps one of the more printable) ones. When the Tweets appeared, some Onion Twitter-followers questioned whether the newspaper was playing some sort of elaborate meta-joke, perhaps riffing on a recent series of high-profile cyber attacks. But the SEA was serious, and so was The Onion about flushing the attackers from its systems. In a new posting on theonion.github.io, the publication's IT crew details exactly what happened. On May 3, attackers from the SEA fired off phishing emails to Onion employees, at least one of whom clicked on a malicious link. From there, the attackers compromised a handful of systems. 'In total, the attacker compromised at least 5 accounts,' the account concluded. 'The attacker logged in to compromised accounts from 126.96.36.199 which is also where the SEA hosts a website.' But following the crisis, The Onion couldn't resist swiping at its attackers. 'Syrian Electronic Army Has a Little Fun Before Inevitable Upcoming Deaths at Hands of Rebels,' read the headline for a May 6 article that described a fictional massacre of the SEA in gruesome detail."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Online economies come with their own issues. Case in point is the Auction House for Diablo III, a massively multiplayer game in which players can pay for items in either in-game gold or real-world dollars. Thanks to a bug in the game's latest patch, players could generate massive amounts of virtual gold with little effort, which threatened to throw the in-game economy seriously out of whack. Diablo series publisher Blizzard took corrective steps, but the bug has already attracted a fair share of buzz on gaming and tech-news forums. 'We're still in the process of auditing Auction House and gold trade transactions,' read Blizzard's note on the Battle.net forums. 'We realize this is an inconvenience for many of our players, and we sincerely apologize for the interruption of the service. We hope to have everything back up as soon as possible.' Blizzard was unable to offer an ETA for when the Auction House would come back. 'We'll continue to provide updates in this thread as they become available.' Diablo's gold issue brings up (however tangentially) some broader issues with virtual currencies, namely the bugs and workarounds that can throw an entire micro-economy out of whack. But then again, 'real world' markets have their own software-related problems: witness Wall Street's periodic 'flash crashes' (caused, many believe, by the rise of ultra-high-speed computer trading)." It seems likely the gold duping was due to a simple integer overflow bug. A late change added to the patch allowed users to sell gold on the Real Money Auction House in stacks of 10 million rather than stacks of 1 million. On the RMAH, there exists both a cap ($250) and a floor ($0.25) for the value of auctions. With stacks of 1 million and a floor of $0.25, a seller could only enter 1 billion gold (1,000 stacks) while staying under the $250 cap. When the gold stack size increased, the value of gold dropped significantly. At $0.39 per 10 million, a user could enter values of up to 6.4 billion gold at a time. Unfortunately, the RMAH wasn't designed to handle gold numbers above 2^31, or 2,147,483,648 gold. Creating the auction wouldn't remove enough gold, but canceling it would return the full amount.
Nerval's Lobster writes "As we discussed yesterday, Adobe plans on focusing the bulk of its software-development efforts on its Creative Cloud offering, with no plans to further update its 'boxed' Creative Suite products. The move isn't surprising, considering the tech industry's general movement toward the cloud over the past few years. Creative Cloud will cost $19.99 per month for a 'single app' version that features the full version of 'selected apps,' 20GB of cloud storage, and limited access to services. Those who opt for the 'complete' version will pay $49.99 per month for every Creative Cloud app, 20GB of cloud storage, and full access to services; it also requires an annual commitment. At that price, it would take a little over two years for a customer spending $49.99 per month to exceed the full retail cost of box-based Adobe Creative Suite 6, which currently retails for $1299.99 at Staples and $1100-1200 on Amazon. In a recent interview with Mashable, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen insisted that the Creative Cloud's cost to customers is lower, especially since they won't have to pay for cloud storage and other services — never mind that 20GB doesn't carry anyone far when it comes to visual design. However much customers stand to benefit from the cloud, it's easy to see that, over a long enough timeline, and with the right financial model in place, the companies providing those services stand to benefit even more than they did with boxed software. That's liable to make just as many people angry as happy, no?" Update: 05/08 03:29 GMT by S :Changed prices involved to reflect standard versions of Creative Suite, rather than the discounted Student & Teacher editions.