An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from ZDNet: "Security researchers from two universities say they found how hackers can retrieve credit card data and other personal information from used Microsoft Xbox 360s, even if the console is restored back to factory settings and its hard drive is wiped. Microsoft is now looking into their story of buying a refurbished Xbox 360 from a Microsoft-authorized retailer, downloading a basic modding tool, gaining access to the console's files and folders, and eventually extracting the original owner's credit card information. Redmond is still investigating, but it's already calling the claims 'unlikely.'"
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MojoKid writes "The rumor mill is still churning out quite a bit of information on new consoles this week, including new data on Nintendo's upcoming Wii U. According to unnamed developers, the Wii U actually isn't as powerful as the Xbox 360 or PS3, despite boasting HD graphics and significantly improved hardware. Meanwhile, the Xbox 720, codenamed Durango, is reportedly targeting the holiday season of 2013 as a launch window. Rumors are floating about of a required always-on internet connection and of locking out the used game market. What this discussion truly highlights is just how dysfunctional the entire console industry is and how skewed its profits are. Profits on hardware sales are so small, game shops can't survive on console sales alone. $60 MSRPs are subsidized by exchange and trade-in programs. Kicking Gamestop in the teeth may occasionally sound like fun, but the idea of killing the used games market doesn't make much sense. If used title values collapse and MSRPs stay the same or rise, the entire industry could hamstring itself in the name of higher profits."
It's been almost four years since Diablo 3 was announced, and its development began years earlier. Its predecessors helped define the action RPG genre, so anticipation is high among fans of the franchise. The game has undergone closed beta testing since September, and a lot has changed since then. Now that Blizzard has settled on May 15th as a release date, we thought this would be a good time to take a look at the state of the game as it currently exists. These two videos show actual gameplay of the various classes, explain the skill and rune systems, take a look at the auction house, and go over many of the other changes since the beginning of development. (Click to play the first video, and the second one will play automagically after the first one ends.)
mikejuk writes "The open source flight simulator Flight Gear is great fun but it can also be used for serious research. Suppose you want to develop a drone that can roam the seas and spot debris so that ships can be directed to it and pick it up. It's a good idea, but how do you test your methods? The obvious way is to take to the sea and fly a drone over real debris and see what happens. It uses a lot of fuel and generates a lot of sea sickness. Why not just fly a simulated drone over a simulated sea and save the sea sickness? This is what Curtis Olson, project manager at FlightGear and he explains how to get OpenCV to use the simulator as if it was a camera."
dotarray writes "The introduction of an R18+ rating for video games into Australia has been designed to bring game classification in line with the current system in place for films and other media. One state, however, would like to widen that gap." This is being billed (by John Rau's office) as a saner approach than eliminating the MA15+ rating entirely.
New submitter smarq2 writes "Chessbase reports that chess programmer IM Vasik Rajlich has solved the King's Gambit chess opening with technical means. 3000 processor cores, running for over four months, exhaustively analyzed all lines that follow after 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 and came to some extraordinary conclusions." Update: 04/02 22:11 GMT by U L : Skuto points out that this is the same person who was found guilty of plagiarizing GNU Chess and Crafty.
In a posting to the Guile developers list today, it was announced that the Emacs-Lisp compiler for Guile has matured enough to run actual elisp programs. The author included a screencast demoing the new compiler running the Dunnet dungeon crawler. It is still a bit hackish: you need a load file that fakes a few Emacs side functions. In theory, most batch mode programs that don't do buffer manipulation should now work. After a few previous attempts, things could be on track for GNU Emacs 25 based on Guile.
zacharye writes "Using nothing more than a few common tools, hackers can reportedly recover credit card numbers and other personal information from used Xbox 360 consoles even after they have been restored to factory settings. Researchers at Drexel University say they have successfully recovered sensitive personal data from a used Xbox console, and they claim Microsoft is doing a disservice to users by not taking precautions to secure their data. 'Microsoft does a great job of protecting their proprietary information,' researcher Ashley Podhradsky said."
silentbrad writes "Kotaku reports some 'details' about Sony's next console given to them by a 'reliable source.' They say that the console's codename is Orbis, and it is planned for release by the 2013 holiday season. Developers are reportedly being told to plan for an AMD x64 CPU and AMD Southern Islands GPU. Further on, they mention that there will be no PS3 backwards compatibility and, like rumors about the next Xbox, will have anti-used game DRM. Specifically, 'new games for the system will be available one of two ways, either on a Blu-Ray disc or as a PSN download (yes, even full retail titles). If you buy the disc, it must be locked to a single PSN account. ... If you then decide to trade that disc in, the pre-owned customer picking it up will be limited in what they can do. ... it's believed used games will be limited to a trial mode or some other form of content restriction, with consumers having to pay a fee to unlock/register the full game.'"
eldavojohn writes "According to Lead designer Stone Librande, it has been confirmed that the next installment of SimCity will require a constant internet connection. Perhaps as a form of DRM, the 2013 edition looks like it will be the first to include online play but will also require you to constantly be connected to Origin to play — even if that wasn't your point of purchase. Add SimCity to the growing list." Update: 03/29 02:09 GMT by S : An online connection will be needed to start the game, but you won't be kicked out if your connection dies.
Carlos Rodriguez writes "The hacker community has found a way to make the Vita run unsigned code by exploiting weaknesses in PSP games available for download in the PSN store. In response, Sony has made the affected games unavailable for download for all platforms — PSP and Vita both — even if you had already paid for it and hadn't had the chance to download it yet. In the case of 'Everybody's Tennis', the game was removed from the PSN worldwide after the modder community bragged about the game being exploitable but before any exploit was released for it. Is Sony being too overzealous in its fight against piracy?"
RogueyWon writes "The GAME Group, owners of high street chains GAME and Gamestation, which between them account for a large majority of the UK's specialist games retail market, have entered into administration. In the hours following the Group's entry into administration, hundreds of stores were closed and thousands of staff made redundant. While some of the factors behind the Group's downfall, such as stores located too close to each other and overly-ambitious international expansion, were likely unique to the UK-based company, other factors, such as price competition from supermarkets and online retailers, as well as a reliance on a fickle pre-owned games market, may have wider application."
New submitter petval tips another amazing Minecraft project: a functioning scientific/graphing calculator. "On a virtual scale, the functional device is enormous — enough so that anyone in the real world would become a red blot of meat and bone staining the road if they fell from the very top. Honestly, his virtual machine looks more like a giant cargo ship ripped from a sci-fi movie than a working calculator. Yet type your problem out on the keypad, and the answer appears on a large white display mounted on the side of the monstrous brick structure." The creator says it can do "6-digit addition and subtraction, 3-digit multiplication, division and trigonometric/scientific functions ... Graphing y=mx+c functions, quadratic functions, and equation solving of the form mx+c=0." We've previously discussed the creation of a 16-bit ALU in Minecraft.
MojoKid writes "Last week marked the launch of Wing Commander Saga: Darkest Dawn, a fan-built companion to Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger that's been in the making for the past ten years. It's a real labor of love. Now that the game is available, the question is, how good is it? "The game dropped on Thursday, I started playing Friday, and as of this writing (Sunday afternoon), my weekend chore list is gathering dust on the fridge. I've been too busy cursing my decision to chuck my Microsoft Sidewinder Precision 2 to notice. 'If I'd kept it just one more year I wouldn't have this problem,' I mutter, fingers splayed over the keyboard in a vain attempt to convince my Hellcat to bank like something other than a Centaurian Mud Pig. Wing Commander Saga is a fan-made game that's good enough to be worth paying for. Not only is it better than a lot of schlock companies expect you to pay for, it pays homage to its source material while improving on Wing Commander's classic gameplay and graphics."