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PlayStation (Games)

Mark Cerny, Chief PlayStation Architect, Explains the PS4 Pro ( 50

Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro, which launches next month on November 10th, is the company's most powerful console that will be capable of outputting 4K and HDR content, including movies, TV shows and games. In an effort to find out how developers will make use of the console and whether or not the PS4 Pro will in any way undermine the audience of the current PS4, The Verge sat down with Mark Cerny, Sony's chief PlayStation architect, and asked him some questions. The Verge reports: The PS4 Pro is 2.28 times more powerful than its predecessor, but not everything will run in native 4K
Instead of using an entirely new GPU, Cerny said the PS4 Pro is using a "double-sauced one." In effect, the new console has a second, identical GPU configured next to the original, more than doubling the processing power of the Pro. While the standard PS4 produces 1.8 teraflops, the PS4 Pro achieves 4.2 teraflops. This is how the device can achieve native 4K and, in some cases, what Cerny said are results "extremely close to 4K." For select software, including games like adventure title Horizon Zero Dawn and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, the PS4 Pro will use a crafty technique called checkerboard rendering to achieve 2160p resolution. Checkboard rendering changes the formation of pixels to achieve higher-fidelity graphics.

Standard PS4 games will play just the same unless devs patch them
For the more than 700 or so existing PS4 games, Cerny said the goal was to ensure those titles played smoothly no matter what. That's why the Pro incorporates an identical GPU. Because the new console has "the old GPU next to a mirror version of itself," Sony can support existing games with a simple trick: "We just turn off the second GPU," he said. Developers can patch these titles to boost graphics and performance in very subtle ways. But unless you have a 4K television, the difference will not be substantial.

Sony says it doesn't want games released solely for the PS4 Pro
When asked whether Sony would ever let a game run exclusively on the PS4 Pro, Cerny was blunt. "We're putting a very high premium on not splitting the user base in that fashion," he said. That doesn't rule out the possibility that, two or even three years down the line, a game comes out that relies so heavily on the hardware improvements of the Pro that it becomes unplayable on the standard PS4. Cerny wouldn't really speak much to that scenario, saying that Sony is asking developers to take advantage of the new console without leaving older hardware behind.
You can also watch Mark Cerny chat with PlayStation Blog's Sid Shuman about the creation of the PS4 Pro here on YouTube.

Television Needs To Be Reinvented, Says Apple SVP ( 163

Eddy Cue, Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Service at Apple, isn't happy with the current state of how people watch TV. He said we currently live with a "glorified VCR," the interface of our current TV is the problem and we need to reinvent it. Cue pointed out a number of other issues he has with today's TV:"It's really hard to use [a cable box or satellite TV]. Setting something to record, if you didn't watch something last night, if you didn't set it to record, it's hard to find, it may not be available. There may be some rights issues," Cue said. "It's great to be able to tell your device, 'I wanna watch the Duke basketball game, I don't care what channel it's on.' I just want to watch the Duke basketball game. Today you got to bring in the TV, go through the guide, find which sports programs or whatever -- it's just hard to do."

Yahoo Wants To Know If FBI Ordered Yahoo To Scan Emails ( 85

Reader Trailrunner7 writes: In an odd twist to an already odd story, Yahoo officials have asked the Director of National Intelligence to confirm whether the federal government ordered the company to scan users' emails for specific terms last year and if so, to declassify the order. The letter is the result of news reports earlier this month that detailed an order that the FBI allegedly served on Yahoo in 2015 in an apparent effort to find messages with a specific set of terms. The stories allege that Yahoo complied with the order and installed custom software to accomplish the task. Yahoo officials said at the time the Reuters story came out that there is no such scanning system on its network, but did not say that the scanning software never existed on the network at all. "Yahoo was mentioned specifically in these reports and we find ourselves unable to respond in detail. Your office, however, is well positioned to clarify this matter of public interest. Accordingly, we urge your office to consider the following actions to provide clarity on the matter: (i) confirm whether an order, as described in these media reports, was issued; (ii) declassify in whole or in part such order, if it exists; and (iii) make a sufficiently detailed public and contextual comment to clarify the alleged facts and circumstances," the letter says.

Stanford Researchers Release Virtual-Reality Simulation That Transports Users To Ocean of the Future ( 82

Tekla Perry writes: Stanford's Jeremy Bailenson and his Virtual Human Interaction Lab have for more than a decade been testing whether experiences from virtual reality can change real-world behavior. Now they are using their knowledge -- and expertise at developing VR software -- in what they hope will be a large-scale move towards making people behave better. The lab this week released, for free, a VR experience for the HTC Vive. It's aimed at giving people the sense of diving down to a coral reef -- but the real goal is getting them to consider how carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is killing the oceans. He hopes, with the dearth of good VR content available, this software will proliferate at least as fast as VR hardware does. Next up for the lab, a deep dive into homelessness. The experience is formally called "The Ocean Acidification Experience" and it's "intended to teach users about the chemistry behind ocean acidification, as well as the problems it causes, and what they can do to help prevent it," according to IEEE Spectrum. Bailenson describes the general story line by saying, "It starts with a globe. We talk about how we can see climate on the coastlines, but nobody can see how carbon dioxide affects the oceans. We then take you into a crowded city. You touch an exhaust pipe, and you then see carbon dioxide go into the atmosphere, and you're told to follow one particular molecule. Then you are in a boat, on the ocean, you see your molecule come towards you. You touch it and push it into the water; when it lands you see the chemical reaction that creates acid; that's the chemistry lesson. Then you are underwater, at this special reef in Ischia, Italy. This reef has naturally occurring carbon dioxide from underwater volcanoes; it shows how all our oceans will look by 2100. We take you to a normal reef, where you see coral, and count sea snails and species of fish. Then you go to an acidified reef; you see that algae have taken over the reef, there is no coral; there are fewer fish species, and no sea snails. The final scene tells you what you can do to help, prevent this future, including managing your own carbon footprint, talking to decision makers, and supporting research organizations."
Data Storage

32GB iPhone 7 Has 8 Times Slower Storage Performance Than 128GB Model ( 153

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: Apple isn't telling you everything about its phones. Few weeks back, GSMArena reported that the 32GB iPhone 7 and 7 Plus had significantly slower storage performance than the 128GB and 256GB models of the device. In a new video, Unbox Therapy's Lew Hilsenteger conducted a series of speed tests that confirm the discrepancy in storage speeds between the different configurations of Apple's phone -- and it turns out the 32GB iPhone is about eight times slower than the larger capacity storage version of the device. For his first test, Hilsenteger used the free PerformanceTest Mobile app to compare the read and write speeds of the iPhone. While there was little difference between the read speeds of the 32GB and 128GB models, there's a huge disparity when it comes to write speed. The 32GB iPhone writes at 42MB per second, which is nearly eight times slower than the 128GB version's 341MB per second. Hilsenteger then performed a real-world speed test, which included transferring movies from a MacBook to the iPhone using a USB cable. While the 256GB model took two minutes and 34 seconds to complete the 4.2GB file transfer, the 32GB iPhone 7 needed a total of three minutes and 40 seconds for the same transmission.

Nintendo NX Will Be Officially Revealed Tomorrow ( 35

An anonymous reader quotes a report from GameSpot: Nintendo confirmed this evening that it will broadcast new details about the company's next big console on Thursday, October 20 at 7am PT | 10am ET. We don't yet know how long it'll be. We don't know if we'll see games or hardware. But it's going to be exciting. Notably, Nintendo calls the announcement a "trailer" and not a full direct presentation. But regardless, we'll update this page tomorrow with a link to whatever Nintendo unveils. While we've known about the NX for quite a while, Nintendo has been stoic on any specific details. Back in 2015, the device was rumored to be a console/handheld hybrid, and current speculation says the device will use cartridges. But no matter what it looks like, Nintendo has confirmed two things: it's slated to launch in March of 2017, and it will be able to play the upcoming Zelda game Breath of the Wild. Nintendo of America tweeted about the big news earlier today, alongside a picture of Mario: "Be among the first to discover #NX. Watch the Preview Trailer at 7am PT/10am ET!"

BBC Micro Bit Mini-Computer To Expand Internationally With New Hardware ( 36

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: The Micro Bit mini-computer is to be sold across the world and enthusiasts are to be offered blueprints showing how to build their own versions. The announcements were made by a new non-profit foundation that is taking over the educational project, formerly led by the BBC. About one million of the devices were given away free to UK-based schoolchildren earlier this year. Beyond the UK, Micro Bits are also in use in schools across the Netherlands and Iceland. But the foundation now intended to co-ordinate a wider rollout. "Our goal is to go out and reach 100 million people with Micro Bit, and by reach I mean affect their lives with the technology," said the foundations' new chief executive Zach Shelby. "That means [selling] tens of millions of devices... over the next five to 10 years." His organization plans to ensure Micro Bits can be bought across Europe before the end of the year and is developing Norwegian and Dutch-language versions of its coding web tools to boost demand. Next, in 2017, the foundation plans to target North America and China, which will coincide with an upgrade to the hardware. TrixX adds: The makers of the BBC micro:bit have announced that they are releasing the full specs for the device under an open license, (SolderPad License, similar to Apache License but for hardware). This means that anyone can legally use the specs and build their own device, or fork the reference design GitHub repo and design their derivatives.

All Tesla Vehicles Being Produced Now Have Full Self-Driving Hardware ( 178

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Jalopnik: All current Tesla models that will be produced in its Fremont, California factory will come with self-driving hardware built-in capable of Level 5 autonomy, including the upcoming Tesla Model 3, the company announced tonight. According to the announcement, Tesla will manufacture all of its cars with the hardware necessary for Level 5 self-driving systems going forward, including the Model S, Model X and new Model 3. At the introduction of the Model 3, it wasn't clear whether or not every Model 3 package would come standard with the hardware and software to handle Autopilot and any other self-driving features. That's been cleared up now, but there's a kicker. Just like on current Model S and Model X models, you can purchase the cars with the self-driving hardware included. But, in order to activate the software and actually use the Autopilot or upcoming advanced self-driving safety features, you will have to option it when you order the car, or pay more for it later. Elon Musk stated that the new hardware in all of Tesla's cars going forward are Tesla's own vision software, with a Tesla-developed neural net. The new hardware and software capabilities still need to undergo all of the testing required by Tesla's own standards, as well as government approval before unleashing Level 5 autonomous cars onto the streets.

Donald Trump Running Insecure Email Servers ( 400

Donald Trump has slammed Hillary Clinton for using private email servers numerous times, but it turns out his inboxes aren't that secure either. From a report on The Register: Security researcher Kevin Beaumont discovered the Trump organization uses a hopelessly outdated and insecure internet setup. Servers on the Trump Organization's domain,, are using outdated software, run Windows Server 2003 and the built-in Internet Information Server 6 web server. Microsoft cut off support for this technology in July 2015, leaving the systems unpatched for the last 15 months. In addition, Beaumont said he'd found that emails from the Trump Organization failed to support two-factor authentication. That's particularly bad because the Trump Organization's web-based email access page relies on an outdated March 2015 build of Microsoft Exchange 2007, he says. "Windows Server 2003, IIS 6 and Exchange 2003 went end of life years ago. There are no security fixes. They don't have basics down," the UK-based researcher concludes. Beaumont's findings are based simply on inspecting publicly available information rather than actively scanning for vulnerabilities or attempting to gain access to insecure systems, a point lost on Trump supporters who have reported him to the Feds.

Mark Zuckerberg Defends Peter Thiel's Trump Ties In Internal Memo ( 511

Soon after it was announced that Project Include, a community for building meaningful, enduring diversity and inclusion into tech companies, would no longer work with Y Combinator startups, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended Thiel's status as a Facebook board member in a message to employees. "We can't create a culture that says it cares about diversity and then excludes almost half the country because they back a political candidate," Zuckerberg wrote. "There are many reasons a person might support Trump that do not involve racism, sexism, xenophobia, or accepting sexual assault." The Verge reports: A screenshot of the memo was posted to Hacker News yesterday, and it later surfaced on Boing Boing. A Facebook spokesman confirmed the authenticity of the five-paragraph memo to The Verge. It appears to have been posted on Facebook for Work, the enterprise version of Facebook that the company recently made available to other companies. Thiel's endorsement of Trump has put those CEOs in a difficult position. On one hand he is a close adviser; on the other, his support for an erratic, racist demagogue has outraged many of their employees and partners. Like Y Combinator's Sam Altman before him, Zuckerberg defended the company's ties to Thiel by saying that the company has a moral obligation to consider a variety of viewpoints, no matter how abhorrent. "We care deeply about diversity," Zuckerberg wrote. "That's easy to do when it means standing up for ideas you agree with. It's a lot harder when it means standing up for the rights of people with different viewpoints to say what they care about. That's even more important." Of course, as the designer Jason Putorti wrote on Medium this week, Thiel already has an outsized capacity to stand up for ideas he agrees with: he spent $1.25 million to promote them. Zuckerberg's memo reads as if he is defending Thiel's right to post on Facebook. In fact, the question is whether someone who promotes opposition to gender and racial equality should be allowed to serve as a steward for a company whose stated mission is to connect the world.

Traditional Keyboard Sounds Can be Decoded By Listening Over a VoIP Connection, Researchers Say ( 56

Reader Trailrunner7 writes: Researchers have known for a long time that acoustic signals from keyboards can be intercepted and used to spy on users, but those attacks rely on grabbing the electronic emanation from the keyboard. New research from the University of California Irvine shows that an attacker, who has not compromised a target's PC, can record the acoustic emanations of a victim's keystrokes and later reconstruct the text of what he typed, simply by listening over a VoIP connection.

The researchers found that when connected to a target user on a Skype call, they could record the audio of the user's keystrokes. With a small amount of knowledge about the victim's typing style and the keyboard he's using, the researchers could accurately get 91.7 percent of keystrokes. The attack does not require any malware on the victim's machine and simply takes advantage of the way that VoIP software acquires acoustic emanations from the machine it's on.


Chrome For Android Gets Its Own Canary Channel ( 22

Google is bringing bleeding-edge Canary channel for Chrome to Android. Through Canary channel, the company introduces early versions of Chrome upgrades to the early adopter and developers, and seeks feedback. Prior to this, Canary channel was available for the desktop version of Chrome. Alex Mineer, APK Administrator & Bug Basher said, "Just like the Canary channel for other platforms, new versions are built from the most recent code available and often contain a variety of new features, enhancements, and bug fixes. These builds are shipped automatically with no manual testing, which means that the build can be unstable and may even stop working entirely for days at a time. However, the goal is for Canary to remain usable at all times, and the Chrome team prioritizes fixing major issues as quickly as possible."

'Cultlike' Devotion: Apple Once Refused To Join Open Compute Project, So Their Entire Networking Team Quit ( 230

mattydread23 writes: Great story about the Open Compute Project from Business Insider's Julie Bort here, including this fun tidbit: "'OCP has a cultlike following,' one person with knowledge of the situation told Business Insider. 'The whole industry, internet companies, vendors, and enterprises are monitoring OCP.' OCP aims to do for computer hardware what the Linux operating system did for software: make it 'open source' so anyone can take the designs for free and modify them, with contract manufacturers standing by to build them. In its six years, OCP has grown into a global entity, with board members from Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Intel, and Microsoft. In fact, there's a well-known story among OCP insiders that demonstrates this cultlike phenom. It involves Apple's networking team. This team was responsible for building a network at Apple that was so reliable, it never goes down. Not rarely -- never. Building a 100% reliable network to meet Apple's exacting standards was no easy task. So, instead of going it alone under Apple's secrecy, the Apple networking team wanted to participate in the revolution, contributing and receiving help. But when the Apple team asked to join OCP, Apple said 'no.' 'The whole team quit the same week,' this person told us."

CIA-Backed Surveillance Tool 'Geofeedia' Was Marketed To Public Schools ( 41

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Daily Dot: An online surveillance tool that enabled hundreds of U.S. law enforcement agencies to track and collect information on social media users was also marketed for use in American public schools, the Daily Dot has learned. Geofeedia sold surveillance software typically bought by police to a high school in a northern Chicago suburb, less than 50 miles from where the company was founded in 2011. An Illinois school official confirmed the purchase of the software by phone on Monday. In the fall of 2014, the Lincolnshire-Prairie School District paid Geofeedia $10,000 to monitor the social media posts of children at Adlai E. Stevenson High School. "We did have for one year a contract with Geofeedia," said Jim Conrey, a spokesperson for Lincolnshire-Prairie School District. "We were mostly interested in the possibility of trying to prevent any kind of harm, either that students would do to themselves or to other students." Conrey said the district simply wanted to keep its students safe. "It was really just about student safety; if we could try to head off any potential dangerous situations, we thought it might be worth it," he said. Ultimately, the school found little use for the platform, which was operated by police liaison stationed on school grounds, and chose not to renew its subscription after the first year, citing cost and a lack of actionable information. "A lot of kids that were posting stuff that we most wanted, they weren't doing the geo-tagging or making it public," Conrey said. "We weren't really seeing a lot there." The school's experience, added Conrey, was that more often than not students would approach school administrators with sensitive issues, as opposed to the school unearthing problems affecting students using Geofeedia. "Quite frankly, we found that it wasn't worth the money," Conrey said.
Desktops (Apple)

Report: Apple To Unveil New Macs At An October 27th Event In Cupertino ( 142

According to Recode's sources, Apple's updated Macs will be unveiled at an event in Cupertino on October 27th. Recode reports: The move had been long expected, given that the company released MacOS Sierra last month but had yet to introduce any new computer models sporting the software. It also comes just in time for Apple to have the new products on sale for the full holiday season. Apple has gone a long time without making significant changes to any of its Mac models, with most experts encouraging customers to hold off all but essential new purchases until the lineup was updated. Tops among the rumors have been reports that Apple will introduce a new MacBook Pro sporting a row of customizable touchscreen keys. The Mac event is expected to take place at or near Apple's Cupertino campus rather than in San Francisco, where the company held many recent events, including the iPhone 7 announcement.

Slashdot Asks: Do We Need To Plan For a Future Without Jobs And Should We Resort To Universal Basic Income? ( 879

Andy Stern (former president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which today represents close to 2 million workers in the United States and Canada) has spent his career organizing workers. He has a warning for all of us: our jobs are really, really doomed. Stern adds that one of the only way outs of this is a universal basic income. Stern has been arguing about the need for a universal basic income (UBI) for more than a year now. Stern pointed out that people with college degrees are not making anywhere near the kind of progress that their parents made, and that it's not their fault. He adds: The possibility that you can end up with job security and retirement attached to it is statistically diminishing over time. The American dream doesn't have to be dead, but it is dying. All the resources and assets are available to make it real. It's just that we have a huge distribution problem. Unions and the government used to play an important part at the top of the market, but this is less true today. The market completely distributes toward those at the top. Unions simply aren't as effective in terms of their impact on the economy, and government has been somewhat on the sidelines in recent years.Making a case for the need of universal basic income, he adds:A universal basic income is essentially giving every single working-age American a check every month, much like we do with social security for elderly people. It's an unconditional stipend, as it were. The reason it's necessary is we're now learning through lots of reputable research that technological change is accelerating, and that this process will continue to displace workers and terminate careers. A significant number of tasks now performed by humans will be performed by machines and artificial intelligence. He warned that we could very well see five million jobs eliminated by the end of the decade because of technology. He elaborates: It looks like the Hunger Games. It's more of what we're beginning to see now: an enclave of extremely successful people at the center and then everyone else on the margins. There will be fewer opportunities in a hollowed out and increasingly zero-sum economy. If capital trumps labor, the people who own will keep getting wealthier and the people who supply labor will become less necessary. And this is exactly what AI and robotics and software are now doing: substituting capital for labor.What's your thoughts on this? Do you think in the next two-three decades to come we will have significantly fewer jobs than we do now?

The Slashdot Interview With Security Expert Mikko Hypponen: 'Backupception' 38

You asked, he answered!

Mikko Hypponen, Chief Research Officer at security firm F-Secure, has answered a range of your questions. Read on to find his insight on the kind of security awareness training we need, whether anti-virus products are relevant anymore, and whether we have already lost the battle to bad guys. Bonus: his take on whether or not you should take backups of your data.
GNU is Not Unix

KDE Turns 20, Happy Birthday! ( 127

prisoninmate writes from Softpedia: Can you believe it's been 20 years since the KDE (Kool Desktop Environment) was announced on the 14th of October, 1996, by project founder Matthias Ettrich? Well, it has, and today we'd like to say a happy 20th birthday to KDE! "On October 14, KDE celebrates its 20th birthday. The project that started as a desktop environment for Unix systems, today is a community that incubates ideas and projects which go far beyond desktop technologies. Your support is very important for our community to remain active and strong," reads the timeline page prepared by the KDE project for this event. Feel free to share your KDE experiences in a comment below! You can read the announcement "that started the revolution of the modern Linux desktop," as well as view the timeline "prepared by the KDE team for this unique occasion."

Google Creates AI Program That Uses Reasoning To Navigate the London Tube ( 76

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Google scientists have created a computer program that uses basic reasoning to learn to navigate the London Underground system by itself. Deep learning has recently stormed ahead of other computing strategies in tasks like language translation, image and speech recognition and even enabled a computer to beat top-ranked player, Lee Sedol, at Go. However, until now the technique has generally performed poorly on any task where an overarching strategy is needed, such as navigation or extracting the actual meaning from a text. The latest program achieved this by adding an external memory, designed to temporarily store important pieces of information and fish them out when needed. The human equivalent of this is working memory, a short-term repository in the brain that allows us to stay on task when doing something that involves several steps, like following a recipe. In the study, published in the journal Nature, the program was able to find the quickest route between underground stops and work out where it would end up if it traveled, say, two stops north from Victoria station. It was also given story snippets, such as "John is in the playground. John picked up the football." followed by the question "Where is the football?" and was able to answer correctly, hinting that in future assistants such Apple's Siri may be replaced by something more sophisticated. Alex Graves, the research scientist at Google DeepMind in London who led the work, said that while the story tasks "look so trivial to a human that they don't seem like questions at all," existing computer programs "do really badly on this." The program he developed got questions like this right 96% of the time.

Evernote Confirms a Serious Bug Caused Data Loss For Some Mac Users ( 31

Evernote has sent an email to users warning of a serious bug "in some versions of Evernote for Mac that can cause images and other attachments to be deleted from a note under specific conditions." The company claims only "a small number of people" are affected, but those who have received the email will need to update their Mac app as soon as possible. The glitch occurs in the September version of the software, and less frequently in the versions released since June. TechCrunch reports: In these applications, certain sequences of events can cause an image or other attachments to be deleted from notes without warning, but text is not affected. For example, the bug can be triggered by skimming quickly through a large number of notes, Evernote says. The email explains that once the company identified the problem, it worked quickly to implement a solution and attempted to restore all lost data. The issue was under discussion in Evernote's forums earlier this month. For heavy Evernote users, the bug could have a major impact. One user in the forums posted that they had 20,000 notes in their Evernote account, as part of their PhD research. Hundreds (or maybe even thousands) of their notes may have now become corrupted, according to their post. Unfortunately for some affected users, data recovery was not possible through automated means, the company's email stated. Instead, Evernote is advising those users who are missing attachments to use Evernote's note history feature in Evernote Premium to try to recover the missing data.

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