A large scale cyber attack which took down cable, telephone, cellular and satellite networks in Washington for around 15 minutes has been blamed on a female Russian hacker. According to the show Covert Affairs, she is a member of Piratbyrån, the founding group behind The Pirate Bay. The group are somewhat unsuccessfully trying to play down any real-life link to the supposedly fictional claims.

CovertAffairsCovert Affairs is a spy action/drama from USA Network which premiered in July 2010. The pilot featured young CIA trainee, Annie Walker, who was guided by Auggie Anderson, a agent who was previously blinded on a mission in Iraq. The next few episodes to date follow Annie in her adventures.

In episode 7, which aired last week, events were focused on the visually impaired Auggie Anderson. While in bed with beautiful TV reporter Liza Hearn (Emmanuelle Vaugier), Auggie notices the phones are down. Not only that, but all TV, cable, Internet, cellular and satellite communications too.

Concerned at the shutdown and eager to get back into the field, Auggie puts his theory to his bosses – that a hacker was responsible and he is the man to go in and sort things out.

To his surprise, Auggie was given the mission but at the briefing (6 minutes into the episode) he had quite a surprise. The hacker turns out to be his elegant Russian ex-girlfriend Natasha Petrovna (Liane Balaban), who Auggie had dumped several years earlier.

Natasha

As with many shows of this type, Covert Affairs blurs reality with real-life events, people and organizations such as the CIA. In this respect, Petrovna’s background proves to be of particular interest.

Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, Auggie’s old flame has a graduate degree in computer security but according to the CIA is now a member of a particularly sinister group – the Swedish Piracy Bureau Piratbyrån – the founding group behind The Pirate Bay.

“A card carrying anarchist,” remarks an agent in the briefing.

Concerned that there’s rarely smoke without fire, TorrentFreak contacted Piratbyrån founder Marcin de Kaminski for comment.

“What I can say is that we do have strong and positive connections with Russian groups and individuals,” Kaminski explained. “We have experienced really good cooperation at more than one time.”

“It is of course always bad for our credibility when information appears to leak. At the same time we know that the MPAA has been making stuff up for years, so we are not surprised.”

So has Piratbyran ever been involved in hacking, or would it consider employing mysterious hackers?

“If we use secret agents like this Natasha? It is impossible for me to say anything specific about our whereabouts and strategies, but let me make this clear: there is still lots of dirty stuff that has to be taken care of,” warned Kaminski.

But wasn’t Piratbyrån disbanded recently?

“Piratbyrån is in fact not currently an operational entity, that is correct. But at the same time we are working on other partially related projects. You will hear from us again,” Kaminski concludes.

The next episode of the show, Fool In The Rain, airs September 7th. Who knows what other secrets will be revealed….

This post has been written by enigmax on September 02, 2010 couresy of torrentfreak.com.



HipChat, a recently launched private instant messaging service for companies, has added support for voice and video chat as well as guest access.

Similar to Campfire, HipChat provides a simple application for communication within businesses. HipChat offers both a web and desktop client based on Adobe AIR that lets you chat with your entire team at once, or hold more private discussions with select team members. The application includes support for quick attachment sharing, notifications when you receive a message, and a searchable web archive for past messages. It’s incredibly easy to use and setup and doesn’t require a company email address.

The newest version of HipChat adds the ability to enable video and voice chat with fellow users. This feature will be included with the paid plans for the service. Guest access enables employees to generate URLs that allow non-HipChat members and people outside their company to access group chats.

It’s actually a pretty nifty feature for any business that wants add another communication layer (besides email) with clients, vendors, or contractors. Guest Access could also be used to offer live customer support for a business. Like all chat history, guest messages and files are archived automatically but guests can only access the chat logs created during the time they were invited to the room. Like video chat, GuestAccess will be includes in the paid versions of HipChat.

For a bootstrapped startup, HipChat seems to be gaining traction in the space. The company has “thousands” of companies using its application, with over one million messages sent since the company launched in private beta.

HipChat was founded by Garret Heaton, Pete Curley, Chris Rivers, who previously founded calendar startup HipCal, which was acquired by Plaxo in 2006. At Plaxo (which was eventually acquired by Comcast) the team helped build out Plaxo Pulse. HipChat, which recently raised $100K in funding, faces competition from 37 Signals’ Campfire and Yammer.

This post has been written by Leena Rao on couresy of techcrunch.com.

A long time ago, well before Mortal Online launched, I was really looking forward to playing the game. The first-person only perspective made me drool, the Unreal Engine 3 powered graphics engine looked top-notch, the endless amount of customization of weaponry made me giddy, and the sprawling open world made me bow in awe. This was a game that sat at the top of my "WANT NAO" list, and I’m not even a person who’s really huge into PvP. I just wanted an Elder Scrolls/Ultima Online inspired sandbox.

Upon finally playing the game, however, all I found was a nightmare of errors, glitches, and missing systems. Mats Persson, one of the developers of Star Vault, was right: this game does lack polish, user friendliness, and many systems that could turn this sandbox into a true sandbox. Instead, all I found was a buggy, glitchy, never-ending, pointless deathmatch in an MMO world. Keep reading, and I’ll be more than happy to explain every aspect of my time with Mortal Online.

If you’re interested in commenting on this article, then you have to trek all the way to page 3 this week. Just a heads up!

The client and launcher

Let me open up this review with some bad news. While the game has come a long way from refusing to install during the early days, the client still suffers from an odd amount of crashing and slowdowns. During most of my play times, the client began to slow down and stutter about 30 minutes into my session. Once frames began to be dropped, I could pretty much put money on the client freezing up completely for a minute or two at a time, going into "program unresponsive" mode. Not good when the game puts so much stock into PvP.

Secondly, the launcher is a mess. While the launcher wasn’t even programmed by the Star Vault team (it was programmed by a community member as a favor) it still doesn’t excuse it from taking 30 minutes to install a 70 mb patch, or 15 minutes to install a 14 mb patch. If you close the patcher while it’s writing files, you also run the risk of corrupting your installation, forcing you to re-download the whole game.

Long story short: the game has problems with how it runs.

Character selection / creation

…is broken. Not only is it broken, but it’s broken in multiple ways as well. There are times when the game won’t actually let you create a character. You can click the "finish" button all you want, but it will do nothing. Closing the client and restarting it until it lets you finish character creation is a workaround, but it’s a pain.

Other times the server will actually forget to load in the characters you’ve created, leaving you staring at blank character selection screen upon logging in. In these situations, the character creation won’t work as well. Once again, closing and restarting the client seems to get around this error, but it’s still annoying all the same.

Good news though: the racial mixing component of Mortal Online does work. You’re certainly able to create your own race by changing the race of your mother and father on both sides of your family tree, letting you customize your statistics and appearance in a very detailed and unique way. Kudos to the work that’s been done on that system.

Graphics / world design

As I said earlier, the game is running on the Unreal Engine 3. This, of course, makes the game quite beautiful. Well, beautiful when you’re looking at it from the right angles, at least. It’s like one of those houses that looks great on the front, but when you spin around the side you’ll find that a tornado completely took off the back half, leaving the bathtub hanging on to the second floor by a single pipe and the contents of the attic spilled into the basement.

Some areas of the game are truly stunning. An incredible draw distance makes vistas absolutely gorgeous while some of the textures are absolutely dead on. Other times you’ll be running along and the water will look like gel, or the shadows will be cast in vertical zebra stripes across a distant mountain.

This is, of course, completely ignoring the fact that the world designers are lazy, lazy people. No one checked to make sure that terrain objects were actually level with the z-scale of the terrain, leaving us with floating bamboo, rocks, tree roots, you name it. Shadows also seem to clip certain objects, leaving you with ghost shadows, or shadows being projected from impossible angles. (You can’t see a lantern from through a wall, yet it projects a shadow through that same wall.)

And, speaking of world design, there are stupidly small edges on buildings and such that a character should be easily able to step over while walking, yet the game won’t let you. Instead, you need to jump over these small cracks, just because the client thinks they’re uncrossable walls on foot. This normally wouldn’t be an issue for me, if it didn’t happen so much on things like smooth river banks, thin steps inside keeps, and on steps (yes, I said steps) leading to trees.

Also, PlanetSide called. They want their 2000-era trees back. Speedtree, which Star Vault licensed for the game, isn’t currently in the game, as they are waiting on Epic Games to patch the Unreal Engine for them so they can use Speedtree. Unfortunately, the stand-in trees look… well… horrible.

This post has been written by Seraphina Brennan on Sep 2nd 2010 at 1:00PM couresy of massively.com.

The Best iPhone Apps for Your Car Whether it’s your daily commute or a random road trip, your iPhone can help you drive, park, and stave off passenger boredom. Here are our picks for the best iPhone apps for when you’re on the move.

Note: For a look at the flip side of the mobile OS coin, check out the best Android apps for your car.

Maps

The Best iPhone Apps for Your CarYour built-in iPhone Maps application can be hard to beat. It’s free, it’s simple, and it gets the job done. Through Maps you can get driving, walking, and public transit directions. You have access to map, satellite, and street view. While it’s not the same turn-by-turn phenomenon that’s packed into Android, it gets you where you need to go and also works pretty well as a replacement for the (figurative) yellow pages. Despite having tested several different turn-by-turn navigation apps, I always find myself coming back to Maps. It’s just easy to use and it works. [Pre-installed]

MapQuest 4 Mobile

The Best iPhone Apps for Your CarIf you do need some vocal assistance in your navigation, you can pay a lot for great GPS apps. (We’ve always had an affinity for Navigon on the premium side.) If you don’t want to pony up, though, MapQuest 4 Mobile is free and does a pretty nice job. Of course you could opt to pay for a slightly more refined option, such as the $.99 MotionX GPS Drive, or something more social, like Waze, but MapQuest 4 Mobile is a great solution for turn-by-turn navigation on your iPhone. It’s straightforward and simple, but isn’t without features. The app will let you discover points of interest and nearby places to go as well as save destinations for later reuse. [iTunes App Store]

Gas Buddy

The Best iPhone Apps for Your CarGas Buddy will help you find the cheapest, closest gas station based on a set of criteria you provide. While it’s very much a unitasker, Gas Buddy is very good at what it does. If you’re looking for a particular grade or even need to find a diesel station, Gas Buddy will help you sort through your options and round them up based what’s more important to you—cost or proximity. When you find a gas station you want, Gas Buddy can map out the directions for you. Gas Buddy will set you back $2.99, but it can pay for itself after one or two trips to fill up your tank. [iTunes App Store]

Beat The Traffic

The Best iPhone Apps for Your CarEvery time I make the trip out to Los Angeles there’s at least one accident on the way. This makes for bad traffic and that’s where Beat The Traffic comes in. Beat The Traffic scopes out all kinds of traffic issues and lets you discover the best route to take. It’s saved me from ending up in a highway-turned-parking lot several times, and it’s completely free. [iTunes App Store]

G-Park

The Best iPhone Apps for Your CarParking lots and structures might as well be mazes. If you’ve ever been subjected to either, chances are you’ve lost track of your car. G-Park doesn’t rely on just one method to help you remember. First, it lets you mark your GPS position. Second, you can take a picture of where you parked to provide a visual memory. Third, you can specify the level and parking spot code so you can be absolutely sure where you left your car before heading out. For 99 cents it can help keep you sane after your next trip to Disneyland. [iTunes App Store]

Pandora Radio

The Best iPhone Apps for Your CarA long drive gets boring pretty quickly without some music, and your tired old playlists can’t always cut it. The popular Pandora Radio helps you discover new music based on music you already like, runs in the background (for iOS 4 users) so as not to interrupt your turn-by-turn navigation, and is free to use (although you can pay for extra features). If you’re looking for something new to listen to during your drive, Pandora’s a good way to find some alternatives. [iTunes App Store]


Got an app you rely on for getting you where you’re going or otherwise making your automobile life easier? Let’s hear it in the comments.

This post has been written by Adam Dachis on Sep 2, 2010 09:00 AM couresy of lifehacker.com.

Denver Thieves Steal src= Denver police are on the hunt for a duo of thieves who they say stole about $1,200 worth of video games from a local Ultimate Electronics store, according to 9News.

Police say one of the two would distract employees as the other tucked away video games on the morning of Aug. 10. Man, that’s a lot of tucking. You’d have to get away with about 20 games to score that much money in stolen loot.

Police search for thieves who stole $1,200 worth of video games [9News]

This post has been written by Brian Crecente on Sep 2, 2010 11:00 AM couresy of kotaku.com.

This Is What a 120-Megapixel Camera Looks Like / cameraThis is a camera that shoots 120-megapixel panorama photos. Here’s what that means.

This Is What a 120-Megapixel Camera Looks Like / cameraThat tiny, cropped area on the right, pulled out from the larger image on the left? That’s 1080p video running at 60 frames per second. And you can zoom in and out of any part of the image in real time. At the full 120-megapixel resolution, the camera outputs 1.4 frames a second at a data rate of 2.52Gbps. And this is the surprisingly small sensor that makes it happen:

This Is What a 120-Megapixel Camera Looks Like / cameraPretty astounding, even if it is years away from anything we’ll get our hands on. [Canon Expo]

This post has been written by matt buchanan on Sep 2, 2010 01:03 PM couresy of gizmodo.com.

OnLive Rolls Out Cloud Gaming Wi-Fi Beta

Streaming game service OnLive said Thursday that it will begin its beta for wi-fi support this month, along with Labor Day promotions that the company hopes will attract more users.

Currently, OnLive, launched in June, requires a wired Ethernet connection to play a library of server-based games.

OnLive’s website explains that the service had to launch with no wi-fi support in order to allow technicians to root out and troubleshoot internet-related issues first.

"Since wireless connections are subject to interference and drop-outs, when users are connected to OnLive through wireless, it adds another layer of network issues that are hard for us to separate out from internet issues," the company says.

OnLive COO Mike McGarvey said that wi-fi support has been the "most requested feature" among OnLive users. "We’re continuing to add new features and enhance the service, as well as expand the list of top new-release games," he added.

In order to attract more OnLive users, the company said it is extending its AT&T "Founding Members Program" promotion, allowing new users to sign up for a free one-year subscription to OnLive and an optional second year for $4.95 per month. The program is now extended until December 31 this year, while the initial program ended July15.

Additionally, during Labor Day weekend in the U.S., OnLive is discounting all of its games by 50 percent. Currently, users can purchase an unlimited "Play Pass" to obtain the license to use the server-based games for between $4-$60. OnLive also game rentals for a lower price.

In August, reports emerged that OnLive has a hefty valuation of $1.1 billion, although the company is not commenting on those rumors.

Streaming services like OnLive have potential to disrupt the traditional game market, as the service allows users to run high-end PC games locally from remote datacenters — players don’t have to install the game onto their hard drives, and can select and play games from a browser. It circumvents retail and is not confined to a proprietary game console.

This post has been written by Kris Graft on September 2, 2010 couresy of gamasutra.com.

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