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Man blackmails movie studios, plan backfires 25 Mar 2017, 7:26 pm
Piracy has definitely been in decline during the past decade but there are still some industries that are suffering a lot – at least by their metrics – from illegal downloads.
While Spotify and the likes have largely killed music piracy, there isn't a similar solution for the movie industry. And no, Netflix isn't the doing it yet, even if they might get there one day.
Now someone has decided to take piracy to a more sinister level. A man who had acquired a leaked version of an upcoming movie, The Boss Baby, blackmailed the studios behind the animation for 20 bitcoins or he'd release the copy.
While he did choose an untraceable method of payment his tracks weren't covered perfectly. In fact, the studios managed to backtrack the traces of the Serbian copy to distributor MEGAKOM and from there on to a translator's PC where the blackmailer got his copy. According to the translator, the 26 year old Momčilo Đinović got the copy without her knowledge.
Instead of doing what most movie pirates do, let it loose in the peer-to-peer networks, Đinović contacted DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox for some extra cash. Obviously that was a critical mistake as instead of the nearly 20 000 U.S dollar payout he got his hand caught in the cookie jar.
According to TorrentFreak's sources the studios paid Đinović first four and a subsequent five bitcoins while MEGAKOM with the help of local police was tracking the IP addresses behind the ransom requests.
Now Đinović is looking to face up to 10 years in prison for extortion.
Senate voted to allow selling your browser history to advertisers 25 Mar 2017, 4:11 pm
The U.S. Senate voted on Thursday to allow service providers to sell private web browsing data to third parties, namely advertisers. Under Democratic control the Senate voted to apply new Federal Communications Commission rules to internet service providers (ISPs) last October but the proposal to eliminate them has now passed the Senate 50-48.
Once the ruling is passed, after a Republican majority in the House votes for it, your ISP can sell your private web browsing data to third parties without seeking acceptance from either the consumer or the courts. Usually ISPs would sell the data to advertisers or ad networks for them to target you more efficiently.
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called what seems to be an inevitable reversal of the FCC rules a "crushing loss for online privacy". If the House of Representatives pass the reversal it can be only be stopped by a President's veto. Will Trump be worried about privacy of the citizens in this case? I guess we'll have to wait and see.
Ars Technica has released a new guide on explaining how this new ruling might affect you and in what ways you could fight it. This includes using HTTPS, VPN services or Tor.
Super Mario Run now available for Android 23 Mar 2017, 1:50 am
Nintendo has decided to launch Super Mario Run a little earlier than expected for Android devices.
Super Mario Run has been available for iOS since December. It is Nintendo's first game made available for mobile platforms and enjoyed a huge launch on iOS, with over $50 million in revenue in a month.
You can download Super Mario Run from Google Play for free and play the first three stages. At that point, you will need to pay up $10 to unlock the rest.
The first version available on Android is v2.0, so will likely include the updates since the initial release on iOS. It requires Android 4.2 and above.
You can get it now from Google Play.
Gamers report PS4 update kills WiFi 23 Mar 2017, 1:41 am
A number of PlayStation 4 owners are reporting that the PS4 version 4.50 update has disabled WiFi on their consoles.
The first complaints about the issue were posted to the PlayStation forums after the update was pushed out to users. In the couple of weeks since the update, the same thread has amassed more than 250 comments.
Engadget also reported that one affected console owned by a staff member had the same issue, with the console reporting the NW-31297-2 error code, but that reconfiguring the console's WiFi settings will not fix the issue.
Sony is aware of the problem and is reportedly looking for a solution, but some users on the PlayStation forums have already resorted to purchasing WiFi extenders with Ethernet ports to get around the issue.
PS4 version 4.50 brought several useful new features, including support for external USB 3.0 hard drives and Boost Mode for legacy games on the PS4 Pro model.
Apple's new Clips app helps create, well, clips 21 Mar 2017, 3:42 pm
Apple announced today a new iPhone 7 (PRODUCT)RED as well as a new iPad with old tech. If neither a charity version of last year iPhone or an iPad with rather uninspiring features don't excite you, then maybe the third product is up your alley.
The Cupertino giant introduced a new app called Clips. Like we've come to expect from Apple, there is no play-on-words here, it's exactly what you're thinking. It's an app that allows you to easily generate video clips.
The app aims to be as straightforward and easy to use so iPhone (maybe a red one) and iPad (maybe the new one) users can get their footage fast and effortlessly to the social media sphere. The one thing that makes it stand out from the crowd is the ability to edit the videos with voice only with a support to 36 different languages.
It is not meant for professional video production but instead has kind of the same approach as Snapchat. You can decorate your videos with special effects, pictures, and text. You can share the finished product on for example Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, and Messages.
Clips will be available on the App Store in early April for free. You need and iPhone 5s, iPad mini 2, iPad Air or any other Apple device that is newer than those. It also requires iOS 10.3.
Apple releases a new iPhone, (PRODUCT)RED for charity 21 Mar 2017, 3:02 pm
Apple has today announced new products in its Spring Event. The new, or refreshed, iPad might get most of the attention but another new product introduced today might be even closer to Apple's own heart.
Tim Cook and his company introduced today a new iPhone 7 model. The new red model is a continuation of Product Red – or (PRODUCT)RED – lineup by Apple which raises money to help eliminate HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Apple, like many other companies including Coca-Cola, Nike and Starbucks, have supported Product Red years in their efforts against the massive public health concern in 3rd world countries. Apple's first contribution to the campaign was 10 years ago with the iPod nano Product Red. Today's iPhone 7 Product Red follows suit with the same features as a normal iPhone 7 but with a vibrant matte red finish.
Red iPhone 7 is available in both the traditional form factor as well as the Plus model.
In another small iPhone update, Apple changed iPhone SE's storage capacity. The previous options (16 and 64 GB) were doubled to 32 and 128 GB.
Apple revealed a new iPad with old tech 21 Mar 2017, 2:41 pm
Apple has today revealed new products in its annual Spring Event. The event usually pales in contrast to the main fall event which iPhone is used and even often garners less attention than the developer focused WWDC in June.
However, there's always some excitement when Apple releases new hardware. This time around Apple updated their iPad lineup but unfortunately it's not as exciting as one might think.
The new iPad is a refresh of the traditional 9.7 inch, lower-end, iPad. The new version even uses older tech, such as the A9 chip used in iPhone 6s. You know, the phone released in 2015.
The iPad Air has been removed from the lineup so excluding the smaller iPad mini 4 the "iPad" is now the only option in addition to iPad Pro. The new iPad has an 8 megapixel camera, 10 hours battery life, Touch ID fingerprint sensor, .
The prices start at $329 and preorders go live this Friday, March 24th. It will be available in both WiFi and WiFi+Cellular, latter of which starts at $459, 32 or 128 GB, and in Silver, Gold and Space Gray.
Sony to end PlayStation 3 production after 10 years 18 Mar 2017, 4:19 pm
Still remember the first time you played Resistance: Fall of Man or Ridge Racer 7? I might well be that it was over 10 years ago on a brand new PlayStation 3. Now after over 80 million sold PS3 consoles Sony is allegedly seizing production.
Reports from Gematsu have it that Sony has decided to call it quits with PS3 after over 10 years of production. The production of the last model, a black 500GB PS3, will be ended "soon" according to Sony's Japanese website.
PlayStation 3 was released in November 2006 almost a year after its rival Xbox 360. Now after approximately a year after Microsoft stopped the Xbox 360 production, Sony is ready to move on too. According to Wikipedia, to this date they have both sold an almost identical 84 million units within their 10 year lifespan.
Sony is definitely ready to move on and reap the benefits of the new generation. PlayStation 4 has outsold Xbox One every step of the way and is looking to easily surpass PS3's numbers in few years. Sony has sold over 50 million PS4 units in just over three years.
PlayStation 4 might very well surpass the 100 million mark and the first PlayStation but it probably will never reach the heights of PlayStation 2 with over 150 million units sold.
Court orders ISP to identify 5,300 alleged pirates 16 Mar 2017, 5:49 pm
The details of Internet users alleged to have shared films including London Has Fallen, and Mechanic: Resurrection, have to be handed over by an ISP.
The decision came from Sweden's relatively new Patent and Market Court, and it obliges Telia to identify 5,300 subscribers that are alleged to have downloaded and shared blockbuster films. Those allegations come from Guardaley, which has a business model of tracking alleged pirates and being part of legal efforts to gain settlements from them.
"There is probable cause of infringement of copyright in the films in that they were made unlawfully made available to the public via file sharing networks," the Court wrote in its judgement.
"The applicants' interest in having access to the information outweighs any opposing interests, including the interest of the individual [subscribers] to remain anonymous."
Telia says that it values the privacy of its customers but it is legally obliged to comply with the court's order.
Read more at TorrentFreak
Google's e-mail scanning settlement rejected by judge 16 Mar 2017, 5:32 pm
A federal judge has rejected a proposed settlement in a class-action lawsuit against Google over the scanning of e-mails.
Google serves ads to users of its Gmail service based on the contents of their e-mails, which has prompted questions from privacy and rights activists for years. However, while Gmail users may agree to agree to such usage of their data by Google, those who don't use Gmail clearly have not.
That is the at the core of the class action lawsuit against Google that it is seeking to settle. Plaintiffs argue that Google's scanning of e-mails sent by non-Gmail users to Gmail users violates the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act and California Invasion of Privacy Act.
Google presented a proposed settlement but it has been rejected by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California. It provided for up to $2.2 million in fees and expenses for the plaintiffs lawyers, but none for the plaintiffs. Judge Koh questioned whether the settlement would ensure Google's compliance with the law in the future.
Koh also found proposed disclosure notices to be inadequate, comparing to a similar accord with Yahoo that requires more disclosures.
"In sum, based on the parties' current filings, the court cannot conclude that the settlement is fundamentally fair, adequate, and reasonable," Koh wrote, reports Reuters.
Google Play Music offers more quality control 16 Mar 2017, 5:22 pm
Google Play Music now lets users select what quality level they would like to hear from the service while using WiFi.
Previously, quality adjustments were only offered when using mobile data. From now however, users can now select between low, normal, high and always high while on Wi-Fi connections and for downloaded tracks, though Google does not specify what bitrate each setting corresponds with.
With Spotify, quality can range from 96kbps at the low end, to 320kbps at the high end, though Spotify seems to be preparing the launch of Spotify Hi-Fi which will offer users lossless quality audio for an extra monthly fee.
Tidal already provides subscribers with lossless CD-quality audio.
Quality settings allow users to control their data usage and avoid going over ISP restrictions and incurring extra fees as a result.
Get Google Play Music for Andorid from Google Play.
Get Google Play Music for iOS from iTunes.
Spotify may delay new albums for free users 16 Mar 2017, 5:14 pm
Music streaming service Spotify may delay the availability of certain new albums to its millions of users who listen for free.
Spotify is currently in contract renewal negotiations with three major record firms - Universal, Sony and Warner - and the Financial Times reports that Spotify has had to put forth delayed album availability for free users as a compromise position.
While most of its users listen for free, Spotify has still enjoyed tremendous growth in recent years, just recently passing 50 million paying premium subscribers globally. Naturally, the revenue that trickles through to record labels and rights holders from paying users is much higher than those who use Spotify's free, limited and ad-supported service.
Securing licensing contracts with major labels is obviously crucial for Spotify to remain on top of the music streaming business, but it is still fighting a battle to reach profitability, and has already pushed back plans for an IPO to 2018.
Still, Spotify has continued to grow its paying user base rapidly even after Apple threw its hat in the streaming business, and has fended off other services including Google Play Music and Tidal.
Chrome 57 to throttle background tabs further to save energy 15 Mar 2017, 4:33 pm
Chrome 57 will place further limits on CPU usage of background tabs in the browser to save energy and prolong battery life.
Chrome 57 will delay timers to limit average CPU load to 1% of a core if an application uses too much CPU in background. Tabs playing audio or maintaining real-time connections like WebSockets or WebRTC won't be affected.
Google claims that his throttling mechanism leads to 25% fewer busy background tabs. Hopefully this will have a noticeable effect on background battery life for laptop / chromebook users in particular.
The long term goal is to suspend background tabs entirely rely on new APIs for service workers to do work in the background.
Any step toward making the web browser more efficient will be welcomed by users, as browsers can be a drain on hardware resources and of course, the battery life.
Some PS4 titles will soon be available on PC 15 Mar 2017, 4:23 pm
PlayStation 4 titles will soon be available to play on PC through Sony's PlayStation Now service.
PlayStation Now currently lets users stream over 400 PS3 titles to the PlayStation 4 console, or to a Windows PC, and soon Sony will finally add PS4 titles to the service.
All of the games in the service, including PS4 games, will be included with a single PS Now subscription.
Sony didn't provide details on which titles will be initially available and when the PS4 expansion is available to all subscribers, but it will be sending out invites to some current PS Now subscribers to join a private test with PS4 games.
As with the PS3 games currently available, PS4 titles will also use cloud save so you can switch between the PS4 and PC platforms and keep your progress.
Game streaming options are likely to become more popular in the coming years. Microsoft recently announced Xbox Game Pass, which would let users stream 100 Xbox One games with a flat fee every month.
PSA: Windows Vista support ends in April 13 Mar 2017, 6:04 pm
After a decade of support Microsoft is preparing to abandon Windows Vista, meaning no new updates will be available after April 10, 2017.
Lucky for Microsoft, the installed based of Windows Vista is far smaller than that of Windows XP when it reached the end of its cycle. Approximately 1% of Desktop users are still using Windows Vista, considered to be one of Microsoft's least desirable consumer Desktop operating systems.
"Microsoft has provided support for Windows Vista for the past 10 years, but the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources towards more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences," reads a Microsoft page about the end of Vista support.
Ideally, Microsoft would hope that users will update their computer to Windows 10, though it has reminded users that some hardware changes may be necessary for the upgrade.
Moving to Windows Vista's successor, Windows 7, will buy another few years of the support, with the comparably more successful OS due to reach the end of support in January 2020.