Tech companies largely relying on hackers to find exploits for them

Michael Hatamoto | Hacking, Security & Privacy | Dec 11, 2014 7:14 AM CST

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.

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Sony believes the PlayStation 4 still has plenty of good days ahead

Michael Hatamoto | Gaming | Dec 11, 2014 6:15 AM CST

The Sony PlayStation 4 game console has continually outsold the rival Microsoft Xbox One since both were launched in late 2013 - and while the race is tightening - Sony believes year two will be a bigger success. Sony has learned it takes a bit of time for each new console platform to mature, which could open the floodgates even further.

"I really believe it's year two when you tend to see those titles come through that start to define the whole generation," said Fergai Gara, Sony UK executive. "The best is yet to come on PS4. We've seen a brilliant start with the mega-franchises, like the FIFAs, Call of Duties, and the Assassin's Creeds, but we've also seen some strong new IPs launch - the likes of Destiny and Watch Dogs. But I think that the ones that are truly to define the generation are probably still to come, to be honest."

Consumers are spending money on gaming hardware and video games, so both Sony and Microsoft should be able to enjoy success in 2015.

Continue reading: Sony believes the PlayStation 4 still has plenty of good days ahead (full post)

Remote control Wi-Fi add-on for the Roomba Vacuum hits Kickstarter

Chris Smith | Current Affairs | Dec 11, 2014 3:02 AM CST

The 'iRobot Roomba' was released in 2002, changing the way that many consumers cleaned their household floors. This product enabled you to sit back and relax while a 'robot vacuum' did the work for you, cleaning your floors in specified zones fenced off with electronic signals.

We've just received a press release from Think Cleaner, claiming that their new Wi-Fi add-on for the robot vacuum cleaner will allow consumers to control their Roomba vacuum by "simply swapping out Roomba's face-plate for ours [Think Cleaner's]", this is said to enable you to control your Roomba anywhere in the world through their free application or web interface.

Other features include; giving your vacuum the ability to send you alerts via push notifications, start its cleaning cycles when you leave the house and even tell you when the cleaning is finished. You'll also be able to seamlessly link to existing home automation systems and technology, this includes devices such as the Apple HomeKit - allowing for more control options.

Continue reading: Remote control Wi-Fi add-on for the Roomba Vacuum hits Kickstarter (full post)

Nexus 4, Nexus 6 receive Android 5.0.1 Lollipop factory images

Anthony Garreffa | Software & Apps | Dec 11, 2014 2:36 AM CST

Google has released an early Christmas present for Android users, with Android 5.0.1 factory images for the Nexus 9, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10 last week. Now the Nexus 6 and Nexus 4 smartphones can enjoy those same images.

You can grab the Nexus 6 Android 5.0.1 factory image here, while the Nexus 4 Android 5.0.1 factory image can be obtained here. Android Central has a great guide on manually updating your Nexus device before you use these factory images, something we definitely recommend. It shouldn't be long until Google pushes these updates over-the-air (OTA) but until then, you've got some factory images to play with.

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Qualcomm rumored to layoff 1500 staff, up from the 600 being reported

Anthony Garreffa | Business, Financial & Legal | Dec 11, 2014 2:06 AM CST

Qualcomm is reportedly letting go of a decent chunk of its worldwide staff, with 158 jobs in San Diego being cut, and up to 100 elsewhere around California. On top of that, we have around 600 jobs in total being let go from Qualcomm's global workforce.

Then, a nice source pointed us in the direction of a thread on Reddit by "lgotlaidoff" who said "Just got fired today. Upto 1500 people to be fired in coming weeks. The "600" number that they are talking in media is pure BS".

A spokesperson from Qualcomm said in a statement: "We regularly evaluate our businesses to determine where efficiencies can be obtained and priorities addressed. On occasion, that requires we adjust the size or skill mix of our work teams in order to shrink or eliminate some projects and start and grow new projects". The layoffs will begin on February 11, 2015 according to a filing by the company with the California Employment Development Department.

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NVIDIA increasing their video card market share gap over AMD

Chris Smith | Displays & Projectors | Dec 11, 2014 1:54 AM CST

According to Jon Peddie Research and Fool.com, NVIDIA is now pulling away from AMD in total market share - further claiming that "there's no question that NVIDIA has gotten the better of AMD" over the past four years of production.

NVIDIA have gathered 70 percent of the recent Add-in Board (AiB) market share, marking themselves above their average cruising rate of 60 percent as seen through the graph above. In a bid to get back to 50/50 and retaliation to NVIDIA's powerhouse GeForce GTX 970 and 980 cards, AMD have started cutting the retail pricing of their latest models starting around October 2014. However, with new 9 series cards rumored for release by NVIDIA - we're interested to see how the Q4 results will report.

There have been rumors of new AMD video cards on the horizon, however they certainly won't be ready before the end of 2014. Does this mean that AMD are currently 'on the rocks' with a poor-looking 2014? The Fool article released a strong statement, claiming that "the only thing keeping AMD afloat today, besides the hope that the future will be brighter, is its deal to supply the game consoles with SoCs" adding that "all AMD has is hype, and that's just not enough".

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Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition is coming, from Train Simulator devs

Anthony Garreffa | Gaming | Dec 11, 2014 1:34 AM CST

Microsoft really made a name for itself with the Flight Simulator games, but after last year's free-to-play Microsoft Flight, all has ended for the game.... until now. Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition is coming, thanks to Dovetail Games.

You've probably never heard of Dovetail Games, but they're the developer who released Train Simulator, and are now working on the re-release of FSX. The company secured the rights to develop games using Microsoft's flight simulator technology, with the deal including the rights to re-release FSX on Steam. You might think this is ages away, but Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition is coming soon, very soon: December 18, to be precise - or, a week from now.

Dovetail explains the game: "Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition delivers an authentically accurate aerial experience for simulation enthusiasts and those with a passion for all things flight. Pilots can climb into the cockpits of over twenty aircraft, from commercial and fighter jets to single-engine private planes and helicopters. More than 80 missions will test players in a variety of ways, including search and rescue challenges, test pilot scenarios, races and more. The game features updated multiplayer functionality, Windows 8.1 support and over 24,000 airports, delivering a beautiful, connected world and vast horizon begging to be explored".

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The Royal Mail announces a consumer 3D-printing service

Chris Smith | Modding | Dec 11, 2014 1:05 AM CST

As traditional mail is becoming a less needed service, Royal Mail has stepped up in a bid to stay ahead of the 'rat race' - offering consumers the ability to 3D print and ship various objects from their local offices.

Paired up with 3D-printing company iMakr, Royal Mail using their services to install brand new printers in their New Cavendish Street delivery office in London, set to enable both custom designs and pre-made product designs to be ordered by consumers. These products can be ordered online by any end-user and have them shipped directly to their address or picked up directly from the office.

Mike Newnham is Royal Mail's Chief Customer Officer, sharing his thoughts on this business advancement he commented: "3D printing is an emerging technology that has many applications and offers an innovative way to create unique or personalized objects. It can be prohibitively expensive for consumers or small businesses to invest in a 3D printer, so we are launching a pilot to gauge interest in 3D printing".

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Facebook pledges to help users keep embarrassing photos to themselves

Chris Smith | Internet & Websites | Dec 11, 2014 1:02 AM CST

Artificial intelligence is reportedly being designed by Facebook engineers to ask users if they would 'really like to post this photo' when out drinking with their friends. This "deep learning" system will be implemented to analyze photos and other Facebook actions, identifying some later-embarrassing posts and urging you not to publish them for your own good.

Facebook's Chief of Artificial Intelligence Research Lab, Yann LeCun, explained this technology as somewhat of a second (sober) conscience, stating that you should "imagine that you had an intelligent digital assistant which would mediate your interaction with your friends and also with content on Facebook". He went on to explain that the warning message could read something similar to "uh, this is being posted publicly. Are you sure you want your boss and your mother to see this?".

Deep learning is said to be a focus of large-name companies in this day and age, boasting big names like Facebook and Google who are heavily researching into this realm of artificial intelligence. Google's purchase of AI start-up Deepmind was their first large foray into the field, of which spawned a computer science research partnership with the well-known Oxford University.

Continue reading: Facebook pledges to help users keep embarrassing photos to themselves (full post)

Live-action Tomb Raider series coming with Rise of the Tomb Raider

Anthony Garreffa | Gaming | Dec 11, 2014 12:35 AM CST

According to an image posted on Instagram by Stephen Lunsford, who starred in MTV's 'Teen Wolf', he is working with Crystal Dynamics. Crystal Dynamics being the developer of the recent Tomb Raider reboot, and the upcoming Xbox One timed exclusive Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Lunsford explained that he "will be creating a [Tomb Raider] mini-series to be released with Rise of The Tomb Raider" that will be both a prequel to the upcoming Xbox One timed exclusive, and an "eventual" live-action feature. We don't know what capacity Lunsford plays in the live-action mini-series, but this is exciting news for Tomb Raider fans.

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