Nesting Buddy

Region Locking Wii U
Why is there a need to imposed region locking on several game consoles when the absence of restrictions will allow game developers to rake in more sales and profit? This question was again asked after it was reported that Nintendo's Wii U and 3DS are the last of the current platforms to be region-locked.

These move caused plenty of frustration for Western fans of titles that haven't or won't see release in their markets. In a Q&A with investors, according to a translation, company president Satoru Iwata indicated a willingness to rethinking the policy.

To be sure, according to the translation (via Zelda Informer), Iwata lays some of the decision to region-lock at the feet of publishers. He noted that "region-locking has existed due to circumstances on the sellers' side rather than for the sake of the customers." This is because of issues of licensing, localization and marketing, all of which involve money.

"As for what should be done going forward, if unlocked for the benefit of the customers, there may also be a benefit for us. Conversely, unlocking would require various problems to be solved, so while I can't say today whether or not we intend to unlock, we realize that it is one thing that we must consider looking to the future."

Of course, region-locking also meant that Western customers couldn't import Super Smash Bros. on 3DS and play it before their localized release three weeks later. In any event, any action on region locking is probably a long ways off, and would at least require some new hardware release. The New Nintendo 3DS just launched in Japan and should arrive in North America and Europe in 2015.

Until the release of the DSi and DSi XL Nintendo's handhelds have been region free – though in this instance it looks like region locking will be at the discretion of the publisher.

According to Wikepedia:
<"A regional lockout (or region coding) is a class of digital rights management preventing the use of a certain product or service, such as multimedia or a hardware device, outside of a certain region or territory. A regional lockout may be enforced through physical means, through technological means such as detecting the user's IP address or using an identifying code, or through unintentional means introduced by devices only supporting certain regional technologies (such as video formats, i.e. NTSC and PAL). A regional lockout may be enforced for several reasons, such to stagger the release of a certain product, to hinder grey market imports by enforcing price discrimination, or to prevent users from accessing certain content in their territory because of legal reasons (either due to censorship laws, or because a distributor does not have the rights to certain intellectual property outside of their specified region)."


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Free Games from Microsoft

Posted In: . By Kirhat

Expect some Xbox One early adopters to get a bunch of free goodies from Microsoft as the console celebrates its first anniversary soon. Microsoft is giving away free movies, themes, games and consoles to its more dedicated fans.

To celebrate the Xbox One's birthday on 22 November 2014, Microsoft is handing the following digital goods:

  • A Year One Gamer Picture
  • New Xbox One backgrounds: A special Year One background as well as an exclusive Day One background for those who unlocked the Day One achievement
  • A Year One background image
  • A free rental of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn
  • A free rental of Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods movie and a sampler pack of Dragon Ball Z TV episodes (U.S. and Canada only)
To receive those freebies, you'll need to have purchased an Xbox One before 11 November 2014 in one of the console's 13 launch markets. You'll also need to be at least 17 years old and have 10 hours of Xbox One usage.

Microsoft is also handing some physical goods to lucky fans, including the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Sunset Overdrive Xbox One bundles, a Forza Horizon 2 Limited Edition Casio G-Shock watch and retail copies of Killer Instinct Season 1. A bunch of digital goods, like Xbox Live subscriptions, copies of Dance Central Spotlight and in-game goods for games like Grand Theft Auto 5, Assassin's Creed Unity, Peggle 2 and more.

For more on the Xbox One anniversary giveaways, check out the full details at Xbox Wire.


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Cyber Attacks
The fictional stories and characters we see in the media showed us how dangerous cyber attacks can be. It can change individual lives, cripple companies or hold entire nation hostage. In the real world, they appear to be more dangerous than that.

For this reason alone, Australian defense officials prepared enormously against attempts to hack online accounts during the G20 leaders’ summit last 15-16 November in Brisbane.

"Targeting of high profile events such as the G20 by state-sponsored or other foreign adversaries, cyber criminals and issue-motivated groups is a real and persistent threat,” a defense department spokesperson told FoxNews.com.

Among the dozens of groups who conducted physical protests on the sidelines during the annual meeting of the world’s largest economies is Anonymous. Group members often wear their signature Guy Fawkes masks while appearing in public, but they’re most notorious for cyber attacks on high-profile government and corporate websites around the world.

Anonymous attacks have targeted the websites of PayPal, the FBI and many others. One of the group’s signature strategies is to use "Denial of Service" attacks, which floods networks with useless traffic, effectively crippling them.

Since the debut of the G20 leaders' summit in 2008, activists have used the event to spotlight social injustice, corporate corruption and climate change. But it’s also an opportunity to gain attention through cyberprotests, according to Dr. Ernest Foo, a computer scientist with the Queensland University of Technology.

"Certainly, in the case of the G20, with all the heads of state here, it means there’s a lot more eyes from all over the world who are looking at this particular location, and there’s an opportunity for people to protest without actually being here,” Foo said.

Beyond so-called “hacktivism,” digital espionage is also a concern.

"It’s more than likely that some espionage may occur," Foo said. “Hackers might be able to take over a telephone or a computer or something like that and be able to extract files or listen in on conversations.”

It’s a growing threat at high-profile gatherings of world leaders.

"It’s basically become the next frontier now," Foo said. "Information is power."

In 2011, the French government said a “spectacular” cyber attack from hackers traced to China targeted documents about international economic affairs related to the G20 in Paris. The attack reportedly forced the country’s finance ministry to shut down 10,000 computers.

The National Security Agency, along with Canadian intelligence officials, carried out spying operations during the G8 and G20 summits in Toronto in 2010, according to a CBC News report based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.


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Can The Air Umbrella Hold Water?

Posted In: . By Kirhat

Air Umbrella
Since 3,000 years ago not a lot has changed in the umbrella's basic design - it's still some kind of ribbed cage covered in some kind of fabric. The new Air Umbrella now making a run on Kickstarter, however, does away with this design in favor of a cone of jetted air that promises to keep the rain away.

That might sound unlikely, but there is a demonstration video that would make you think the gizmo really could work - at least for rainstorms that fall shy of monsoon strength.

This isn't the first time we've seen this concept. Back in 2010 it was reported by cnet.com that there was such an air umbrella concept from a Korean designer, but it seems like that was never actually produced. The new Air Umbrella on Kickstarter from designers in Nanjing, China, may meet the same fate; at this point, it's only raised about US$ 4,000 of its US$ 10,000 goal with 11 days left to the campaign.

Still, if the project gets funded, it could be a nifty device. For one, it would eliminate that annoying inside-out thing normal umbrellas do in high winds. It would also keep you from poking out someone's eye with those dagger-like tips that hang out from the edges of traditional brollies.


Air Umbrella says there are going to be three versions of the device. Version A measures 30 centimeters (about a foot) long and, for some reason, is intended for women. Version B is 50 centimeters (about 20 inches) long. And version C is scalable, growing from 50 centimeters to 80 centimeters (about 31 inches). The battery life on the umbrellas isn't the most impressive. Version A gets 15 minutes while B and C get 30 minutes, so they should be good for short darts here and there, but not for long romantic strolls in the rain.

Right now you can still get in on the early bird deals. Version A is priced at US$ 88, B is going for US$ 98 and C is US$ 108. The pledge and pricing structure is a bit confusing on the Kickstarter page, but it looks like full retail pricing will range from US$ 128 to US$ 148. The makers are promising delivery in December 2015, so you'd better hold on to your traditional umbrella for the next round of April showers.


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Facebook's Privacy Update

Posted In: . By Kirhat

Facebook
According to Associated Press, Facebook is once again trying to simplify its privacy policy, largely to address criticisms that it's too complex and lengthy for the average user.

Laid out with illustrations into short subsections, the new policy explains what types of information Facebook collects and how it uses the data. The new policy is 70 percent shorter than the old one.

The news agency added that many of the changes are cosmetic, designed to make the policy easier to digest. Still, it helps to go through it to get an idea of all the things Facebook knows about you.

Users have until Nov. 20 to comment on the proposed changes or ask questions. A finalized version will take effect soon after that.

Associated Press suggested five things to remember about Facebook's data policies.

Location

Facebook only recently began allowing businesses to advertise to users based on their specific location. Previously, ads were targeted based on the "current city" listed on the profile. Both the old policy and the new one note that the company can access your location information based on your smartphone's GPS information. The new policy points out that Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals can also reveal device locations.

Besides that, Facebook can also collect information from the photos you share on the site, including where they were taken.

Beyond Facebook

Facebook doesn't just track what you do on its site. It also collects information about your activities when you're off Facebook. For example, if you use Facebook to log in to outside websites and mobile apps, the company will receive data about those. It also gets information about your activity on other businesses it owns, such as WhatsApp and Instagram, in accordance with those services' privacy policies.

Ad Targeting

Unless you decline targeting, or opt out, companies whose websites you visit off Facebook can also show you ads on Facebook. For example, a website can use browser cookies to record who visited it. It can then ask Facebook to show ads to these visitors — both on and off Facebook. If you want to opt out in the U.S., you can visit this website: http://aboutads.info/choices

All Eyes On You

Everything is fair game. Facebook explains it best: "We collect the content and other information you provide when you use our Services, including when you sign up for an account, create or share, and message or communicate with others." Plus, Facebook says it also collects information about how you use Facebook, "such as the types of content you view or engage with or the frequency and duration of your activities."

Shopping Spree?

Facebook is testing a tool to let people buy things directly through its site. If you decide to do this, Facebook will collect information about your transaction, including your credit card number and billing and shipping address.


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