Sony admits US console fight growing as Xbox One price cuts working

Michael Hatamoto | Gaming | Dec 19, 2014 5:16 PM CST

It will be fun to see analyst sales figures for console sales after Christmas, as Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House admits the Xbox One is giving the PlayStation 4 a run for its money. Even though sales are described as "in line" with Sony's previous expectations, the cheaper price tag for the Xbox One has led to a significant sales bump for Microsoft.

The Xbox One starts at $350 in the United States, while the PS4 is available starting at $400. The $50 price cut was announced in November and will continue to January 3, 2015.

It appears to be a good time to be a console gamer, as both companies also have several appealing console/game bundles available. Expect continued price cuts and increased competition from both companies in 2015, while they try to woo gamers to their respective platforms.

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Obama: Sony 'made a mistake' in its decision to pull 'The Interview'

Michael Hatamoto | Hacking, Security & Privacy | Dec 19, 2014 4:15 PM CST

The decision by Sony Pictures Entertainment to pull "The Interview" due to a cyberattack and subsequent terror attacks has drawn criticism from actors and President Obama.

"Sony is a corporation. It suffered significant damage," Obama said during a press conference. "There were threats against its employees. I'm sympathetic to the concerns that they faced. Having said all that, yes I think they made a mistake. We cannot have a society in which some dictator in some place can start imposing censorship in the United States. I wish they'd spoken to me first. I would have told them: 'Do not get into the pattern in which you are intimidated.'"

However, Sony is defending itself from Pres. Obama's statement and criticism from actors, many American citizens, and others criticizing the company.

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ISIS allies reportedly stepping up cyberattacks against media, rivals

Michael Hatamoto | Hacking, Security & Privacy | Dec 19, 2014 4:11 PM CST

Cybercriminals with alleged ties to ISIS recently tried to spread malware onto a Syrian citizen media group after posing as Syrian-Canadian citizens, according to a report from Citizen Lab. The social engineering attack took place in late November, and shows the group is continually putting more effort into its cybercriminal abilities. The attempted malware attack was targeted to the Raqqah is Being Slaughtered Silently (RSS) group, and the email was worded in a manner to trick organization members.

"This bears little resemblance to anything we've seen from the usual suspects," said John Scott-Railton, the report's co-author, noted in a statement given to CBC. "That, combined with who they are targeting... gives us pause and makes us think that maybe we're looking at ISIS malware."

ISIS has used the Internet, specifically social media, as a tool to recruit and spread propaganda. However, the group has run into problems, as the Anonymous hacker collective and other groups have disrupted their online operations.

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Capcom announces Street Fighter 5 is being built with Unreal Engine 4

Anthony Garreffa | Gaming | Dec 19, 2014 3:39 PM CST

Capcom has announced that the upcoming PlayStation 4 and PC exclusive Street Fighter 5 is being built around Epic Games' very gorgeous Unreal Engine 4 technology.

Bochan Kim, a Producer with Capcom said in a press release from Epic Games "Our goal with the next generation of Street Fighter is to take our beloved fighting game franchise and bring it to our fans in the best way possible. In order to fully deliver on that promise, we know we have to incorporate the latest and greatest technology available, which is why we partnered with Epic Games to power Street Fighter V using Unreal Engine 4." Territory Manager of Epic Games Japan, Taka Kawasaki said "This opportunity to help the development team using Unreal Engine 4 for the new title is a great honor for Epic, and I couldn't be more proud."

Fighting games seem to be adopting Unreal Engine 4 more, with Bandai Namco announcing back in July that Tekken 7 would be powered by Unreal Engine 4. Expect the Unreal Engine 4-powered Street Fighter 5 to hit the PS4 and PC sometime next year, which will support cross-platform play between the PS4 and PC.

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Christmas lights are so bright, NASA can see them from space

There is such a drastic increase in lighting during the holidays that NASA has picked up on it, according to a press release published by the U.S. space agency. Specifically, the NOAA/NASA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite found that metropolitan areas increased 20 to 50 percent brighter during the Christmas holiday season and New Year's.

"It's a near ubiquitous signal. Despite being ethnically and religiously diverse, we found that the U.S. experiences a holiday increase that is present across most urban communities," noted Miguel Roman, NASA Goddard research physical scientist. "These lighting patterns are tracking a national shared tradition."

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Survey: Company malware breaches not exactly uncommon these days

Michael Hatamoto | Hacking, Security & Privacy | Dec 19, 2014 10:21 AM CST

A reported 51 percent of companies suffered some type of malware breach during the past 18 months, with phishing emails and social engineering attacks able to circumvent security filters, according to a survey published by the OPSWAT IT solutions provider.

It's a frightening time for companies trying to keep their networks secure, especially as social engineering techniques - which rely on tricking employees to click fraudulent links or install the malware directly - prove difficult to defend against.

"With the sheer number of new viruses introduced every day, it is not surprising that 51% of the respondents experienced a malware breach, particularly since 39% only utilized one anti-malware solution," said Tony Berning, OPSWAT Metascan product manager. "By using only one or two anti-virus engines, companies are exposing themselves to malware threats, since no anti-virus engine can be accurate 100% of the time."

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Poll reveals most Americans doubtful of commercial drone use

Michael Hatamoto | Drones | Dec 19, 2014 5:06 AM CST

A new Associated Press-GfK poll discovered 41 percent Americans opposed drones for commercial use, with just 21 percent favoring commercial drone use, and 35 percent still sitting on the fence. Only three percent of those surveyed have flown small drones, but that number is expected to increase in the coming years.

Congress will likely push the FAA to help move things along faster, as the drone industry is expected to create 100,000 jobs and provide $82 billion for the economy in the first 10 years.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will continue to move forward with private and commercial drone use - and companies continue to push forward with drone use for deliveries, filming in Hollywood, agriculture, engineering, and other verticals.

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Sony says demand for PlayStation 4 boomed in Europe

Michael Hatamoto | Gaming | Dec 19, 2014 4:29 AM CST

Sony has been in the headlines for all of the wrong reasons in recent weeks, but at least the company's gaming unit has something to cheer about. The PlayStation 4 has seen such high demand in Europe, Sony reportedly has struggled to keep up with European demand.

"If I look at Europe I think it is potentially, for the second year running, going to be quite inventory challenged," said Andrew House, Sony Computer Entertainment CEO, in a statement to Reuters. "I'm not going to say you won't be able to find a PlayStation 4. I think it's going to be kind of hand to mouth in terms of that market."

In the United States market, however, Sony admitted to "tougher" competition due to Microsoft's aggressive Xbox One game console. However, Sony believes sales through Christmas are still in line with its preliminary expectations - and reports will likely be published in early 2015.

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Sony's cyberattack likely to become most expensive for a U.S. company

Michael Hatamoto | Hacking, Security & Privacy | Dec 19, 2014 4:20 AM CST

Sony Pictures is facing a public relations nightmare after a major data breach orchestrated by North Korea, and company executives just can't stop the bleeding. The data breach could become the costliest suffered by a U.S. company, with fallout that will surely continue into 2015. Beyond the sensitive documents and personal information stolen, along with the cancellation of "The Interview," there is a strong possibility some actors will avoid Sony in the future.

It remains unclear how much Sony will lose because of the cyberattack, but lawsuits, lost revenue because of "The Interview" being pulled, and other problems will only complicate matters even further.

"This attack went to the heart and core of Sony's business and succeeded," said Avivah Litan, Gartner cybersecurity analyst. "We haven't seen any attack like this in the annals of U.S. breach history."

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VR technology enables virtual body swapping by psychologists

Chris Smith | Virtual & Augmented Reality and 3D | Dec 19, 2014 4:05 AM CST

Thanks to Oculus and their advanced technology, scientists are conducting "virtual body swapping" studies - putting clients through a literal experience of the "don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes" common saying.

One of the main reasons behind conducting these experiments is to test negative attitudes geared toward specific groups - as according to Manos Tsakiris from the Royal Holloway University of London. Tsakiris is one of the authors of a new paper published in a journal named "Trends in Cognitive Sciences".

Further commenting on this study, Tsakiris said "once you change people's representations of what their bodies are like, then you can change their social cognition, which is the way in which we relate to others" - wrapping up the success of multiple studies conducted over many years, set to fight bias.

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