Mars

NASA Is Building a Virtual Mars For VR Viewing (unrealengine.com) 8

An anonymous reader writes: NASA will release a free virtual reality program this year that will simulate exploring the surface of Mars. "Players will be able to walk on the Red Planet as well as drive the Mars Rover..." reads the official announcement at UnrealEngine.com. The Mars 2030 Experience will be available on Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, and Samsung Gear VR, and will also "expand" to Sony PlayStation VR and HTC Vive, with additional versions for Android and iOS devices, and it will even be streamed on Twitch. NASA plans to reveal more details at this year's South by Southwest conference in March.
Classic Games (Games)

Bethesda To Unleash the Hounds of Hell On May 13th: Doom Release Date Confirmed (hothardware.com) 75

MojoKid writes: Bethesda and id Software are in the process rebooting the Doom franchise and it seems like it's been in development for ages. When we last visited the upcoming Doom remake, Bethesda had posted a giblet-filled trailer which showed some pretty impressive gameplay visuals, killer hand-to-hand combat and plenty of head stomping. However, Bethesda just clued gamers in on something that Doom fans have been anticipating for years, an actual release date. Mark your calendars for May 13th, because that's when Doom will be available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and of course, the PC platform. Bethesda also dropped a new campaign trailer for you to ogle.
Operating Systems

Hackers Get Linux Running On a PlayStation 4 (engadget.com) 108

An anonymous reader writes: Two years after the PlayStation 4 was released, and two weeks after it was jailbroken, a group of hackers has now successfully installed Linux on it. "...it appears that the fail0verflow team utilized a WebKit bug similar to the one recently documented by GitHub user CTurt and then took things up a notch. CTurt's workaround focuses on the PlayStation 4's Webkit browser, which is tricked into freeing processes from the core of the console's operating system by an improvised webpage. The PS4 is powered by Sony's Orbis OS, which is based on a Unix-like software called FreeBSD. With a route into the console's system, fail0verflow then identified weaknesses in the PlayStation 4's GPU. It specifically called out engineers from semiconductor company Marvell, accusing them of 'smoking some real good stuff' when they designed the PlayStation 4's southbridge chip."
Graphics

Four Factors That Will Push VR Forward in 2016 (technologyreview.com) 64

At MIT Technology Review, Rachel Metz lists four factors she believes will mean great advancements for virtual reality in the next year. More and better games; wider adoption of specialized cameras for capturing the deep imagery that immersive worlds require; specialized presentation techniques that supplement VR with physical cues like temperature or direction; and availability of better viewing hardware. That better hardware seems poised to take off. According to the article, Facebook-owned Oculus’s first consumer headset, Rift, is slated for release in the first quarter of the year, while the HTC Vive—a headset created by smartphone maker HTC and video-game company Valve—is set to be available to consumers in April. Sony, meanwhile, is building its own headset, called PlayStation VR, which the company says will be released in the first half of the year.
Security

Phantom Squad Hacking Group Claims Credit For Three-Hour Xbox Live Outage 49

An anonymous reader writes: The Phantom Squad hacking group appears to have anticipated its own Christmas schedule for attacks on the Xbox and PlayStation networks by taking credit for a three-hour outage on Xbox Live services in the last 24 hours. Apparently the group, which has disassociated itself from the Christmas 2014 attacks on the PS4 network, claims like them to be engaging in PenSec testing for gaming networks, and before itsTwitter account was suspended tweeted: 'If cyber security really has existed. Then what we do should not be possible.'
PlayStation (Games)

LizardSquad Copycats Planning DDoS Attacks On Xbox & PSN For Christmas (softpedia.com) 103

An anonymous reader writes: Last year on Christmas, the LizardSquad hacking group took down PSN and Xbox Live for many hours via DDoS attacks. This year another group, called Phantom Squad, is planning the same thing. The group has been launching small test attacks on PSN, Xbox, Reddit, SWOTR, and other game servers over the past few days.
Transportation

iPhone Hacker Geohot Builds Self-Driving Car AI (bloomberg.com) 98

An anonymous reader writes: George Hotz, known for unlocking early iPhones and the PlayStation 3, has developed an autonomous driving system in his garage. "Hotz's approach isn't simply a low-cost knockoff of existing autonomous vehicle technology. He says he's come up with discoveries—most of which he refuses to disclose in detail—that improve how the AI software interprets data coming in from the cameras." The article has a video with Hotz demonstrating some basic autonomous driving similar to what Tesla rolled out earlier this year. He's clearly brimming with confidence about what the system can accomplish with more training.
PlayStation (Games)

Developer Claims 'PS4 Officially Jailbroken' (networkworld.com) 133

colinneagle sends word that a developer has claimed to have achieved a jailbreak of the PlayStation 4. Networkworld reports: "If you have a PS4 and want to run homebrew content, then you might be happy to know developer CTurt claimed, "PS4 is now officially jailbroken." Over the weekend, CTurt took to Twitter to make the announcement. He did not use a jail vulnerability, he explained in a tweet. Instead, he used a FreeBSD kernel exploit.

Besides posting "an open source PlayStation 4 SDK" on GitHub, CTurt analyzed PS4's security twice and explained PS4 hacking. CTurt updated the open source PS4 SDK yesterday; he previously explained that Sony's proprietary Orbis OS is based on FREEBSD. In the past he released the PS4-playground, which included PS4 tools and experiments using the Webkit exploit for PS4 firmware version 1.76. To put that in context, Sony released version 3.0 in September. However, CTurt claimed the hack could be made to work on newer firmware versions.

Other PS4 hackers are reportedly also working on a kernel exploit, yet as Wololo pointed out, it is unlikely there might be more than proof-of-concept videos as the developers continue to tweak the exploit. Otherwise, Sony will do as it has in the past and release a new firmware version. In October 2014, developers nas and Proxima studied the PSVita Webkit exploit, applied it to the PS4, and then released the PS4 proof-of-concept. Shortly thereafter. Sony pushed out new firmware as a patch."
NASA

NASA Looks To PlayStation VR To Train Space Robot Operators (roadtovr.com) 13

An anonymous reader writes: Humanoid robots in space are attractive because their emulation of the human form makes them capable of a huge range of tasks. But remotely controlling such bots is a very different challenge from the math-based methods used to make probe course corrections or plot rover routes. NASA has collaborated with Sony using PlayStation VR to explore methods for controlling humanoid robots in space, and created a virtual reality simulation designed to train operators to compensate for the data delay caused by the vast distances involved in space communication.
Encryption

Top Democratic Senator Will Seek Legislation To "Pierce" Through Encryption (dailydot.com) 556

Patrick O'Neill writes: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) will seek legislation requiring the ability to "pierce" through encryption to allow American law enforcement to read protected communications with a court order. She told the Senate Judiciary committee on Wednesday that she would seek a bill that would give police armed with a warrant based on probable cause the ability to read encrypted data. "I have concern about a PlayStation that my grandchildren might use," she said, "and a predator getting on the other end, and talking to them, and it's all encrypted. I think there really is reason to have the ability, with a court order, to be able to get into that."
PlayStation (Games)

Italy Invests 150 Million Euros In Surveillance, With Emphasis On PS4 Chats (thestack.com) 62

An anonymous reader sends word that Italy will spend 150 million Euros on reforming information and security services. Part of this reform will be monitoring communication among users of the "chat" feature on PlayStation 4. The Stack reports: "Italian Minister of Justice Andrea Orlando has revealed that Italy is spending 150 million euros ($157mn) on new technology and staff to improve surveillance capabilities, and emphasized that the 'new instruments' (it's not clear whether this means new technology or new requisitions) will also target the Sony PlayStation network which fell under suspicion as a possible forum of organization for the Paris attacks (though no evidence was found to support this)."
Sony

Sony Unlocks PlayStation 4's Previously Reserved Seventh CPU Core For Devs (hothardware.com) 143

MojoKid writes: Toward the beginning of the year, it was revealed that Microsoft was going to "unlock" the seventh core on the Xbox One's processor, enabling developers to eke just a bit more performance out of the console and offer more flexibility at resource utilization. It appears that Microsoft's move would inevitably be followed by Sony, as reports are now coming in that this will be made available on the PlayStation 4 as well. This subtle change was highlighted in the latest changelog for the FMOD sound engine which is labeled as a "LowLevel API." While the unlocked core could take on FMOD duties if developers want it to, it's now not going to be tied to any single purpose. Developers could make use of this core, for example, to boost AI performance, or any other process that has a heavy computation requirement. It could also be used to simply help ease overall system load.
XBox (Games)

Ask Slashdot: Xbox One Or PlayStation 4? 375

An anonymous reader writes: I'm looking at getting the kids a new gaming console for Christmas this year. I'm stuck trying to decide between getting an Xbox One or a PlayStation 4. I'm really wary on the PlayStation because of the 5 PS2s with broken optical drives sitting in my garage; none lasted more than two years. On the other hand, I'm also wary of buying a Microsoft product; I'm a Linux user for life after getting tired of their crappy operating system. I've also considered getting a gaming PC, whether Linux or Windows, but it's more expensive and game reviews show most are not as good as a dedicated game console. The kids want Fallout 4, and I want Star Wars Battlefront and any version of Gran Turismo. We currently have a Nintendo Wii and a crappy gaming PC with some Steam games. So, which gaming console should I get that will last a long time?
Emulation (Games)

Sony Quietly Adds PS2 Emulation To the PS4 (eurogamer.net) 151

An anonymous reader writes: The Digital Foundry blog reports that Sony has added functionality to the PlayStation 4 that allows it to act as an emulator for some PlayStation 2 games. Surprisingly, the company did not mention that this functionality is live; a new Star Wars game bundle just happened to include three titles that were released on the PS2. From the article: "How can we tell? First of all, a system prompt appears telling you that select and start buttons are mapped to the left and right sides of the Dual Shock 4's trackpad. Third party game developers cannot access the system OS in this manner. Secondly, just like the PS2 emulator on PlayStation 3, there's an emulation system in place for handling PS2 memory cards. Thirdly, the classic PlayStation 2 logo appears in all of its poorly upscaled glory when you boot each title." Sony has confirmed the games are being emulated, but declined to provide any further details.
Security

Police Find Paris Attackers Coordinate Via Unencrypted SMS (techdirt.com) 204

schwit1 writes: In the wake of the tragic events in Paris last week encryption has continued to be a useful bogeyman for those with a voracious appetite for surveillance expansion. Like clockwork, numerous reports were quickly circulated suggesting that the terrorists used incredibly sophisticated encryption techniques, despite no evidence by investigators that this was the case. These reports varied in the amount of hallucination involved, the New York Times even having to pull one such report offline. Other claims the attackers had used encrypted Playstation 4 communications also wound up being bunk.
Star Wars Prequels

Star Wars Battlefront Released (giantbomb.com) 126

An anonymous reader writes: Yesterday marked the release of Star Wars Battlefront, EA DICE's attempt to resurrect a Star Wars video game series that had great success a decade ago, but gradually petered out over the course of several years. Early reviews for the game are mixed. Games Radar's video review gives it a lot of credit for being incredibly faithful to the feeling of Star Wars. Polygon's review praises the game's accessibility and its broad variety of PvP options, but acknowledges that it had to trade complexity to get there. Giant Bomb's review is much more blunt: "Slick production values, solid controls, and tons of fan service can't make up for mediocre progression and a lack of content." Many reviews rate the graphics highly, and performance is solid even on consoles. It's worth noting that user ratings on Metacritic come in significantly lower than critics' ratings, with the most common complaint being about the dearth of content.
Communications

Belgian Home Affairs Minister: Terrorists Communicate Via PlayStation 4 (qz.com) 202

bricko writes with story at Quartz reporting the words of Belgium's home affairs minister Jan Jambon, who says that ISIL operators communicate using their PlayStation 4s; "which allows terrorists to communicate with each other and is difficult for the authorities to monitor. 'PlayStation 4 is even more difficult to keep track of than WhatsApp,' he said. The gaming console also was implicated in ISIL's plans back in June, when an Austrian teen was arrested for downloading bomb plans to his PS4." This seems a strange place to concentrate investigators' energies; terrrorists could be communicating in the chat session on the side of many social media games, too, or by any number of other means; Jambon would do well to read through some of the movie plotlines that Bruce Schneier has gathered.
Nintendo

Hands-On With the Nintendo PlayStation (engadget.com) 51

An anonymous reader writes: Several months ago, we got a look at a weird bit of technology: a Nintendo PlayStation prototype made in the late '80s during an unusual partnership between Sony and Nintendo. Despite cries of "hoax" and "fake," the console turns out to be real. Engadget got to try it out, X-ray it, and even open the device up to try repairing the CD drive. They brought in Daniel Cheung, a retro console technician from Restart Workshop, and he said, "I got to see the real deal so I can't discredit it. And there's even an OS. You can't question it. It can't be fake. Going back to the chips we saw earlier on the logic board: NEC used to make gaming consoles, and Sony also participated here. And with Nintendo as part of this team, you just can't discredit this."
Sony

Sony PlayStation 4 Hits 500 Games Milestone (finder.com) 86

SlappingOysters writes: Finder is reporting that the catalogue of Sony PlayStation 4 games has just passed the 500 mark. The website has been tracking the install sizes of every PS4 game and in doing that, has been able to confirm that the mark had been reached. It's a significant catalogue advantage for the console, with the Xbox One currently offering 349 games, although the arrival of backwards compatibility on November 12 will change that dramatically. The site has also shown that the rate of releases is increasing over time.
Apple

How Apple Is Preventing the Apple TV From Becoming a Console Rival (redbull.com) 129

An anonymous reader writes: Apple's new set top box is on sale now, and has launched with several high profile games in the new tvOS App Store, including Guitar Hero Live and PS4 hit Transistor. However, as one writer points out, the Apple TV is still not an adequate console replacement, and it's not because of the graphics. Instead, several software issues and restrictions issued by Apple itself prevent developers from creating blockbuster exclusives for the platform, including the requirement that all games be playable using the bundled remote, lack of support for four players, and the 200MB initial app download limit. If these remain in place, can the Apple TV become a viable games platform, where the Ouya and PlayStation TV have failed before?

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