An anonymous reader sends word that Italy will spend 150 million Euros on reforming information and security services. Part of this reform will be monitoring communication among users of the "chat" feature on PlayStation 4. The Stack reports: "Italian Minister of Justice Andrea Orlando has revealed that Italy is spending 150 million euros ($157mn) on new technology and staff to improve surveillance capabilities, and emphasized that the 'new instruments' (it's not clear whether this means new technology or new requisitions) will also target the Sony PlayStation network which fell under suspicion as a possible forum of organization for the Paris attacks (though no evidence was found to support this)."
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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.
The Next Web reports that a district court in Sweden has ruled that it cannot simply force ISPs to block The Pirate Bay, despite its role in large-scale copyright violation. A coalition of copyright holders including Sony and a group representing the Swedish film industry wanted the court to force Swedish ISP Bredbandsbolaget to curtail access, as courts have done in various cases around the world. The court found that Bredbandsbolaget couldn’t be held responsible for the copyright infringement of its customers’ actions while using the service as it doesn’t constitute a crime under Swedish law, according to the report. As such, it’s also not liable for any of the fines. While it could still be overturned by a higher authority appeals court, the group representing the copyright holders will have to pay the ISPs legal costs thus far, which is more than $150,000 according to TorrentFreak. (And here's TorrentFreak's report.) Update: 11/29 15:55 GMT by T : Oops -- sorry, we've mentioned this once already.
An anonymous reader writes: A judge allowed a software pirate to make a anti-piracy PSA and get away from paying a $373,000 / €351,000 fine he owed Microsoft and other software manufacturers. The only condition was that his video should get over 200,000 views on YouTube. From the BBC's coverage of the trial's unusual outcome: [The defendant, known only as Jakub F] came to the out-of-court settlement with a host of firms whose software he pirated after being convicted by a Czech court. In return, they agreed not to sue him. ... The firms, which included Microsoft, HBO Europe, Sony Music and Twentieth Century Fox, estimated that the financial damage amounted to 5.7m Czech Crowns (£148,000). But the Business Software Alliance (BSA), which represented Microsoft, acknowledged that Jakub could not pay that sum. Instead, the companies said they would be happy to receive only a small payment and his co-operation in the production of the video. In order for the firms' promise not to sue to be valid, they said, the video would have to be viewed at least 200,000 times within two months of its publication this week. ... But, if the video did not reach the target, the spokesman said that — "in theory" — the firms would have grounds to bring a civil case for damages."
An anonymous reader writes: The cyber attack on Sony was one of the highest profile hacks in the past several years. Slate tracked down two dozen people who worked there at the time, and asked them what it was like on the inside while it was happening. Quoting: "The telephone directory vanished. Voicemail was offline. Computers became bricks. Internet access on the lot was shuttered. The cafeteria went cash-only. Contracts—and the templates those contracts were based on—disappeared. Sony's online database of stock footage was unsearchable. It was near impossible for Sony to communicate directly with its employees—much less ex-employees, who were also gravely affected by the hack—to inform them of what was even happening and what to do about it. 'It was like moving back into an earlier time,' one employee says." Some employees had their workloads doubled, some had nothing to do. While the hack brought the company together at the beginning, it eventually descended into recriminations and lawsuits.
An anonymous reader writes: The Digital Foundry blog reports that Sony has added functionality to the PlayStation 4 that allows it to act as an emulator for some PlayStation 2 games. Surprisingly, the company did not mention that this functionality is live; a new Star Wars game bundle just happened to include three titles that were released on the PS2. From the article: "How can we tell? First of all, a system prompt appears telling you that select and start buttons are mapped to the left and right sides of the Dual Shock 4's trackpad. Third party game developers cannot access the system OS in this manner. Secondly, just like the PS2 emulator on PlayStation 3, there's an emulation system in place for handling PS2 memory cards. Thirdly, the classic PlayStation 2 logo appears in all of its poorly upscaled glory when you boot each title." Sony has confirmed the games are being emulated, but declined to provide any further details.
AmiMoJo writes: In March 2016 Sony will finally end sales of its Betamax video tapes. The firm revealed on its website that it will also stop shipping the Micro MV cassette, used in video cameras. Sony launched the format in 1975, a year before JVC's rival the VHS cassette — which eventually became the market leader after a long battle between the two brands and their fans. Although many felt Betamax was the superior format, most cite the longer recording length of VHS tapes — three hours versus one — and the cheaper manufacturing costs for VHS machines as the main factors as to why VHS eventually won out. When my dad stops buying VHS tapes in bulk, maybe that market will finally wither away, too.
An anonymous reader writes: Several months ago, we got a look at a weird bit of technology: a Nintendo PlayStation prototype made in the late '80s during an unusual partnership between Sony and Nintendo. Despite cries of "hoax" and "fake," the console turns out to be real. Engadget got to try it out, X-ray it, and even open the device up to try repairing the CD drive. They brought in Daniel Cheung, a retro console technician from Restart Workshop, and he said, "I got to see the real deal so I can't discredit it. And there's even an OS. You can't question it. It can't be fake. Going back to the chips we saw earlier on the logic board: NEC used to make gaming consoles, and Sony also participated here. And with Nintendo as part of this team, you just can't discredit this."
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.
New submitter IMightB writes: My question is basically what is the best smart watch style device for runners. Must have features GPS, bluetooth and music storage for roughly 5 hours of use during a marathon. Pretty much everything else is a nice to have. My wife has recently decided to enter her first marathon and unfortunately, the other day during a training run her 7gen iPod Mini gave up the ghost due to moisture accumulating in the armband and her Garmin Forerunner 15 only lasts about 3 hours with GPS on (despite Manufacturer claims to the contrary). She would like to consolidate devices down to something with a watch style format and start using a bluetooth headset. I currently use, and really like, a pair of aging Jaybird JF3's for a bluetooth headset and will probably recommend to her whatever Jaybirds current equivalent is in their lineup. But the watch portion is eluding me still. Based on my current research, the Sony SmartWatch 3 may be the only one that fits my wife's 'Must have Requirements' Are there other options available? Can anyone with marathon or distance running experience share their thoughts on this subject? Thanks in Advance.
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: Mitch Martinez creates high-resolution stock video footage, and then licenses it out to people who need footage to go along with their creative projects. He has written an article at PetaPixel explaining his bizarre interaction with Sony Music Entertainment, and the hassle they put him through to fix it. Martinez licensed one of his videos to Epic Records, and they used it as background for a music video on YouTube. Less than two months later, his original video on YouTube was hit with a copyright claim from Sony. After figuring out that Epic Records was a subsidiary to Sony, he disputed the copyright claim — which is usually the end of it. But after reviewing the videos, Sony rejected it, saying their claim was still valid. Martinez then tried to contact the person at Epic Records to whom he issued the license. None of his emails got a response. Then he had to get in touch with Epic's legal department. After a lengthy series of emails, voicemails, and phone calls, he finally got somebody to admit it was his video. It still took a few more calls to work out the details, but the company finally released the copyright claim. Martinez concludes by offering some tips on how to resolve such claims.
An anonymous reader writes: You may remember that at E3, the major announcement from Square Enix and Sony wasn't a new game, but rather that Square Enix would be remaking Final Fantasy VII in HD and releasing it for PS4 first. Square Enix's recent annual report indicates that they intend to make more HD remakes of old titles. Like many Japanese developers, they indicate in the report that they also intend to focus more on mobile platforms, including porting more of their back catalog to mobile devices. With the impending release of Final Fantasy XV, Square Enix knows a thing or two about rehashing old content, but Square Enix also owns the Dragon Quest, Deus Ex, and Tomb Raider series, giving them a fairly large library to give the HD treatment to.
An anonymous reader writes: PPSSPP VR is an emulator that specifically adapts PSP games for use in the Oculus Rift VR headset. Going beyond merely showing a large screen view of the game in a virtual environment, PPSSPP actually puts you inside of the game with a full field of view, just like made-for-VR titles, including headtracking and true stereoscopic 3D. The emulator comes from the same author as Dolphin VR, the Wii & Gamecube emulator with VR support.
Two of the products officially unveiled at Google's much-anticipated (at least much-hyped) release announcement were widely and correctly predicted: a pair of new Nexus phones. The flagship is the all-metal Huawei 6P, with a 5.7" AMOLED display (2,560x1,440), 3GB of RAM, and a Snapdragon 810 chip. The Huawei overshadows the nonetheless respectable second offering, the LG-made Nexus 5X, which makes concessions in the form of less RAM (2GB instead of the 6P's 3), smaller battery (2700mAh, instead of 3450) and a lesser Snapdragon chip inside (808, rather than 810). Both phones, though, come with USB-C and with a big upgrade for a line of phones not generally praised for its cameras: a large-pixel 12.3-megapixel Sony camera sensor. Much less predicted: Google announced a new bearer for the Pixel name, after its line of high-end Chromebooks; today's entrant is a tablet, not running Chrome, and it's running Android rather than Chrome OS. The Pixel C tablet will debut sometime later this year; google touts it as "the first Android tablet built end-to-end by Google." Also on the agenda today, news that Android 6 will start hitting Nexus devices next week.
Mark Wilson writes: Sony seems determined on confusing its customers by giving very conflicting advice about its Xperia smartphones. If you're familiar with the range, you'll no doubt be aware of the advertising material that appears to show users taking photos in the rain and even (seemingly) underwater at the pool. Take a look at the picture above and you'd probably assume that a) it depicts someone shooting a video or taking a photo in a swimming pool, and b) you can do the same with your phone. But you'd be wrong (at least on b) because Sony has changed its mind about what waterproof means. Or it doesn't know. It really depends on where you look on the Sony website.
rjmarvin writes: Vietnam is in the midst of a tech boom. The country's education system is graduating thousands of well-educated software engineers and IT professionals each year, recruited by international tech companies like Cisco, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Intel, LG, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba and others setting up shop in the southern tech hub of Ho Chi Minh City and the central coastal city of Da Nang. Young Vietnamese coders and entrepreneurs are also launching more and more startups, encouraged by government economic policies encouraging small businesses and a growing culture around innovation in the country.
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.
An anonymous reader writes: Sony has taken the wraps off its new Xperia Z5 Premium smartphone, which has a 5.5" display that operates at 4k resolution. "The company acknowledged that there was still a limited amount of professional content available in 4K — which provides about four times the number of pixels as 1080p high definition video. But it said the Z5 Premium would upscale videos streamed from YouTube and Netflix to take advantage of the display." Sony's answer to the obvious battery concerns raised by such a pixel-dense (808 ppi) screen was to use a 3,430 mAh battery and memory-on-display technology. The video upscaling can also be turned off to decrease battery drain.
An anonymous reader writes: A Canadian record label specializing in public domain releases has filed a complaint with the Competition Tribunal over alleged anti-competitive conduct by Universal, Sony, and host of other music industry leaders. The complaint tells a fascinating behind-the-scenes tale, with the recording industry doing everything in its powers — including posting false reviews, pressuring distributors, and lobbying for changes to the law — to stop the sale of competing public domain records.