The Linux 4.5 merge window has been open for the last two weeks; that means that the 4.5-rc1 kernel is expected to emerge, with the official kernel following in about eight weeks. An anonymous reader writes with this top-level list of changes to look for, from Phoronix: Linux 4.5 is set to bring many new features across the kernel's 20 million line code-base. Among the new/improved features are Raspberry Pi 2 support, open-source Raspberry Pi 3D support, NVIDIA Tegra X1 / Jetson TX1 support, an open-source Vivante graphics driver, AMDGPU PowerPlay/re-clocking support, Intel Kaby Lake enablement, a Logitech racing wheel driver, improvements for handling suspended USB devices, new F2FS file-system features, and better Xbox One controller handling.
An anonymous reader writes: The hacking crew was not kidding about their Christmas DDoS attacks on Xbox & PSN. This morning the group started warmup attacks on the EA network, taking it down for 3 hours. The attacks were severe enough to take down the network completely, and EA issued apologies on its Twitter account. Phantom Squad is now carrying out DDoS attacks on PSN. Users started reporting outages in small areas around the world.
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.'
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.
An anonymous reader writes: For this December Patch Tuesday, Microsoft has released twelve security bulletins, eight of which have been rated critical. Those refer to the cumulative security updates for Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, JScript and VBScript, and updates for Microsoft Windows DNS, Microsoft Graphics Component, Silverlight, Microsoft Office, and Microsoft Uniscribe. Microsoft also released a security advisory announcing the removal of a digital certificate from the Certificate Trust list (CTL).
An anonymous reader writes: A team of researchers at Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, has adapted a gaming system to help radiographers improve the quality of X-rays. The technology, originally developed for Microsoft Kinect, has been amended to provide a useful tool for measuring the thickness of body parts and monitor movement and positioning in the X-ray field of vision before imaging. The goal of the technology is to aid in the production of high-quality X-rays at low radiation, without the need to repeat the image. Although the technology is expected to benefit all patients, the researchers believe it could be particularly practical for use in children – who are much more sensitive to radiation and vary in body size, from premature babies through to teens.
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.
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?
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.
alphadogg writes: It's one of those "You mean it was still alive?" moments: Microsoft today officially has killed off its Zune music streaming and download service. The company notified users in September that Zune services would be retired on Nov. 15. Microsoft has been phasing out its Zune brand for some time now, with Zune music service being morphed into Xbox music and then Groove music. Devices were discontinued in 2011.
An anonymous reader writes: Rocket League has proved to be the surprise hit of the year, but a new interview with Dave Hagewood, CEO of developer Psyonix reveals that it almost didn't happen at all. After the failure of PS3 predecessor Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, the team were forced to work on the multiplayer game in between contracts, and when one fell through late last year, it looked like the end for Rocket League. The studio gambled that the concept would take off this time, and it did — now the studio has to fend off offers from movie studios who want to feature their iconic cars in the game. Hagewood also hints that news of the Xbox One version fans have been clamouring for is coming, and soon: "We're looking at all kinds of platforms and there may be some announcements coming up at some point – hopefully before the end of the year."
SlappingOysters writes: What is old is new again as backwards compatibility arrives on the Xbox One as part of a dashboard update. Finder has the full list of 104 launch games for the service, and has analyzed the origins of these titles. The site has determined that of the 104 games, only 28% ever released in boxed form, and of the remaining downloadable Xbox Live games, 36% are remakes of titles from previous generations. The site has also identified 60 games that were on the marketing material for Xbox One backwards compatibility, but were not on the launch line-up.
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.
alphadogg writes: Hackers really have had their way with Sony over the past year, taking down its Playstation Network last Christmas Day and creating an international incident by exposing confidential data from Sony Pictures Entertainment in response to The Interview. Some say all this is karmic payback for what's become known as a seminal moment in malware history: Sony BMG sneaking rootkits into music CDs 10 years ago in the name of digital rights management. 'In a sense, it was the first thing Sony did that made hackers love to hate them,' says Bruce Schneier, CTO for Resilient Systems. Sony's scheme was revealed on Halloween of 2005, and was followed by a botched response, issuing and reissuing of rootkit removal tools, and lawsuits. There are object lessons from the incident which are relevant today.
An anonymous reader writes: The Wall Street Journal reports (paywalled) that Nintendo has begun issuing software development kits for its new console, codenamed NX. The company hasn't provided any details publicly about how the console will work, but people who have gotten access to the SDK say it will likely include both a console and some kind of portable/mobile hardware. The intent is to be able to take some aspects of gaming with you when you leave the living room. Nintendo is also looking to step up its hardware efforts in response to criticism that the Wii U's capabilities were notably lower than those of the PS4 and Xbox One. In what ways do you think a console should be partially portable?
MojoKid writes: Part of Microsoft's strategy to unite different devices to a single ecosystem means offering the same services and features across the board. One of those features is Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant, which is available on Windows 10. It will also be available for the Xbox One, though not until sometime next year, at least officially. Don't feel like waiting? You might not have to. Here's a quick and dirty guide on how to unlock Cortana on the Xbox One, provided you're running the latest Xbox One Experience Preview.
Vigile writes: In preparation for the release of the free-to-play Fable Legends game on both Xbox One and PC this winter, Microsoft and Lionhead Studios released a benchmark today that allows users to test performance of their PC hardware configuration with a DirectX 12 based game engine that pushes the boundaries of render quality. Based on a modified UE4 engine, Fable Legends includes support for asynchronous compute shaders, manual resource barrier tracking and explicit memory management, all new to the DX12 API. Unlike the previous DX12 benchmark, Ashes of the Singularity, which focused mainly on high draw call counts and mass quantities of on-screen units, Fable Legends takes a more standard approach, attempting to improve image quality and shadow reproduction with the new API. PC Perspective has done some performance analysis with the new benchmark and a range of graphics cards, finding that while NVIDIA still holds the lead at the top spot (GTX 980 Ti vs Fury X), the AMD Radeon mid-range products offer better performance (and better value) than the comparable GeForce parts.
SlappingOysters writes: One of the biggest challenges for gamers during this generation of consoles is ensuring you have enough hard drive space to hold the latest blockbuster. Given that every game needs to be installed in order to be played, and games often weigh in at over 40GB, the 500GB of storage that comes as standard doesn't stretch far. Finder.com has provided a handy resource, listing the install sizes for every PlayStation 4 game (460 and counting) and every Xbox One game (290 and counting). The list is searchable, and can be ordered.
MojoKid writes: Microsoft's Xbox One launch didn't go off exactly as planned in late 2013. Before the console's release, the company was dogged over DRM restrictions with the console and concerns over its high price tag compared to its counterpart, the Sony PlayStation 4. Microsoft would attribute the higher price tag to the included Kinect camera — a peripheral that many gamers didn't particularly care for. Former Xbox Chief Robbie Bach offered his two cents recently on the Xbox One — a console that launched years after he announced he retired from the company in 2010. Bach noted, regarding the Xbox One's rocky launch, "...gosh, I think some of that was predictable and preventable." As for the future of physical game media, Bach doesn't think that the future will be so bright when it comes to DRM and always-connected requirements in the next generation of gaming consoles. He said that the next Xbox would "probably not" have physical media to speak of, with consoles adopting digital-only distribution.