The reclusive China regime, and its hordes of censors, have kept consoles out of the country for the last 14 years by instituting an all-encompassing ban. This draconian ban was lifted just a few short months ago, and Microsoft capitalized on the opportunity by quickly shipping units into the country. Now, four months later, Sony is following Microsoft's lead. The Sony PlayStation 4 will debut in China on January 11th.
Entering the China market isn't easy. The games must make a run through the censor gauntlet, which routinely denies 'licenses' for many of today's top games. It's safe to say that Grand Theft Auto isn't going to make the cut. Microsoft's console is selling in China with only 10 games that passed muster with the censors, but Microsoft predominantly submitted sports games that faced little chance of being flagged by 'cultural censors'. Sony is being a bit more aggressive by applying for licences for 30 games, and several have already made it through. The Sony PS4 will go on sale for roughly 2,899 yuan ($468 USD), in comparison to the more pricey Xbox One at 3,699 yuan ($568 USD).
Automotive futurist company Rinspeed will publicly debut its "Budii" autonomous-driving concept vehicle in March 5, 2015, during the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. The vehicle is reportedly based on the BMW i3 and will be fully autonomous, learning the "habits and preferences" of the driver. Budii is an electric-powered car that the automaker hopes will become a driver's "best buddy."
Rinspeed showed off the XchangE, a modified Tesla Model S, autonomous vehicle during the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.
Autonomous vehicle research is evolving rapidly, with a number of automakers interested in self-driving car concepts. Rinspeed believes publicly available autonomous cars will one day be inevitable, but will take multiple stages before they are common on roadways.
It's not just commercial pilots in the United States reporting a growing number incidents with small drones, as a pilot in the UK flying into Heathrow Airport said he saw a drone flying close to the airport. The pilot of the Airbus 320 airliner estimates the drone was about 700 feet off the ground, with the UK Civil Aviation Authority issuing it a Class A (serious risk of collision) labelling.
The UK doesn't allow drones less than 44 pounds to go above 400 feet in elevation, and they cannot fly near commercial airspace and airports. However, it's possible private drone operators might not be aware of the restrictions - and are unaware of potential dangers.
Trying to prevent incidents between small drones and airliners is being left up to national governments, though they are responding slowly. Both the US and British governments are considering safety rules for airspace around airports, which would hold drone operators accountable for flying safely.
Microsoft plans to show off its Windows 10 operating system to the consumer world in January, while analysts believe it should be made available in a freemium format. There were previous rumors that Microsoft could introduce a "Windows as a Service" cloud-based, subscription service, which would be a significant shift in tactics.
If Microsoft plans to have Windows 10 run on billions of devices, then providing a freemium approach could be a lucrative option. It's possible Microsoft could offer Windows 10 free for end-users, and provide features and services based on a subscription fee.
"Microsoft is the only company who still builds a significant business selling an operating system," said Steve Kleynhans, Gartner VP. "Today, consumers see the OS as part of the device and don't really distinguish it as a component to be paid for separately."
The State of Iowa plans to release a smartphone app in 2015 that will allow residents to display their driver's licenses on mobile phones. The app will provide drivers a chance to prove they have a valid license, and is being described as a "modern form of identification," providing a rather interesting opportunity. The app can be secured by a PIN number, and a biometric authentication solution will be implemented in the future.
"It was an easy legislative change a couple years ago to allow that," said Mark Lowe, Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) director of motor vehicle division, in a statement to eWeek. "The market drove demand [for the capability]. To me, that's the reason you now look at this kind of mobile app. People really look at their mobile devices to do a lot of things nowadays."
The mobile app can be disabled by Iowa DOT when a smartphone is lost or stolen, and won't be a requirement for drivers.
Digital Storm has just taken the wraps off of its new Eclipse PC, a new small form factor PC that is "designed to offer a premium gaming experience at an affordable price" with its $699 starting price.
The new Eclipse PC has a small footprint of just 15 x 4 x 14 inches, so it can be used on most shelves either laying down or standing up. The chassis that Digital Storm have used is constructed of reinforced plastic with a steel body. Every pre-built Eclipse comes with a full-sized video card and Intel processor.
There are four levels of system to choose from, with each level including 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3 RAM and Windows 8.1 as its operating system, with the first three systems including a 1TB 7200RPM HDD and optional optical drive. Starting at $699 we have an Intel Pentium processor, AMD Radeon R7 260X 2GB GPU and H97 chipset motherboard. For $200 more you can upgrade to the R9 270X 2GB and Intel Core i3 4350 processor. For $999 you get the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 2GB and Core i5 4590 processor, while the $1299 option bumps it up to the GTX 970 and Core i5 4690K while offering a Z97 chipset, 120GB Samsung EVO SSD, 1TB 7200RPM HDD and a DVDRW drive.
The new Digital Storm Eclipse is available starting at $699, directly from their website.
The fight against Internet piracy will lead to increased pressure on public schools, libraries and ISPs offering Wi-Fi service, as copyright holders and the government try to limit access to pirated material. The Australian government is currently amending its Copyright Act that will force ISPs to blacklist overseas-based websites found to be hosting pirated music, movies, and other copyrighted material.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority will receive registration of the new unique code, and force ISPs to carry out "reasonable steps" that puts increased burden on their shoulders. However, critics want safeguards put in place to ensure copyright holders don't abuse the new system - and prevent covert censorship efforts.
"The code will not include any sanctions to be imposed by ISPs on their customers - we believe that the copyright holders are the appropriate party to take any enforcement action against persistent infringers," said John Stanton, Communications Alliance chief. "But we are optimistic that the sending of notices by ISPs to consumers whose service has apparently been used for improper file-sharing will be a powerful signal."
Sweden may have finally dropped The Pirate Bay off the map earlier this week, but Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) wondered why the Obama Administration wasn't able to remove the "illegal enterprise operating out of Sweden" even sooner.
Sen. Whitehouse Googled "pirate movies" and quickly found a link to The Pirate Bay via Google, apparently leaving him frustrated.
"There are ways in which these companies could go to court and try to knock this stuff down," Sen. Whitehouse recently said. "There are ways in which prosecutors can have discussions with companies about aiding and abetting offenses, and being accessories to offense. There's a lot that can be done in this area, it seems to me."
An injunction has been served on Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi, and the company cannot import or sell its products in India. Ericsson has sent Xiaomi six requests for communications over the past five months, and Xiaomi is now waiting for an official statement from the Delhi High Court.
"Our legal team is currently evaluating the situation based on the information we have," said Manu Jain, head of Xiaomi India, as the company will explore all legal options available. It would be a disaster if Xiaomi cannot resolve any problems with the Indian government and continue to sell its smartphones to a large market.
Xiaomi is delaying wide-scale expansion in the United States and other critical markets, with India one of the company's major foreign markets. The Xiaomi Redmi Note has proven to be extremely popular in India, frequently selling out in retail stores, according to reports.
Major technology companies want to hire hackers to help identify potential software vulnerabilities before products are released - and real cybercriminals are able to exploit any problems. The "bug bounties" program is being embraced by Facebook, Mozilla, Google and other major Silicon Valley companies, providing thousands of dollars to help identify bugs.
"The trajectory we're on now is completely unsustainable," said Vikram Phatek, NSS Labs CEO, when discussing the current cybersecurity landscape. "There will not be a person in the country who will not have a compromised computer if this goes on. We are ripe for having a major catastrophe."
Despite some resistance from companies weary of paying outside sources to identify security flaws, trying to prevent cybersecurity data breaches will remain a major effort. However, compromising widely used software is a lucrative effort for cybercriminals, with more money seemingly available on the black market.