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Weekly Game Replay: Valve's handling of Hatred, Telltale's Minecraft

8 hours ago | Posted in: gaming

Every Sunday, Electronista and MacNN put together a one-stop article for some of the major news in the video game industry in the past week. In this week's edition of the Weekly Game Replay, we look at Valve's handling of Hatred on Steam Greenlight, Mojang and Telltale Games team up for a narrative-based Minecraft game, a judge gives the go-ahead on a Killzone resolution lawsuit, World of Warcraft is exploring in-game purchasable game time tokens, and Majesco Entertainment's receiving an investor cash infusion.

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Obama: Sony hack not act of war; Anonymous promises attacks on NK

14 hours ago | Posted in: security, hacks

In an interview recorded on Friday, President Obama clarified his remarks last week regarding the Sony Pictures hack. The president denies swirling discussions about the hack being an act of war, and called it "an act of cyber vandalism that was very costly, very expensive." Additionally, late Sunday, tweets purport that hacker collective Anonymous is about to wade into the fray against North Korea for its role in the event.

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Friday Deals: Ultra HD monitor, Game and console bundles, more [U]

Sat December 20, 2014 | Posted in: gaming, software, accessories

[Updated with more deals!] There is less than a week until Christmas, and depending on where you live, approximately four days available for deliveries of presents. If there are more presents to get before the big day, you're likely to be spending a lot on quicker deliveries, so why not even out the cost by getting some great Friday Deals? Every Friday afternoon, we search for bargains on hardware, peripherals, gadgets, and software for you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. Prices are right at the time of writing, but double-check before purchasing, as prices could change. Also, be sure to return to this post over the weekend, as more deals will be added as time goes on.

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BlackBerry creeping closer to profit with $148 million quarterly loss

Sat December 20, 2014 | Posted in: Investor, industry, mobile phones

Cellphone manufacturer BlackBerry has published its most recent quarterly results. While the company is trumpeting a return to profitability, it still incurred a fair value debenture charge, forcing the company to post a $148 million loss on the quarter, or $0.28 per share. Without the debenture, it would have posted a modest profit of $2 million. While it appears that the cost-cutting measures are starting to pay off, given the improvement in the loss numbers, the company showed a 34 percent drop in revenue over the year-ago-quarter, suggesting that the road ahead for the company is still challenging.

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Judge completely denies HP's Autonomy buy class action suit settlement

Sat December 20, 2014 | Posted in: industry, networking

A US district judge in San Francisco has outright rejected HP's settlement offer to settle the Autonomy acquisition class action suit in the US. Saying that "the shareholders appear to be relinquishing a whole universe of potential claims regarding HP governance and practices," Judge Charles Breyer has kicked the settlement back to the plaintiffs without suggestions for recovery. The matter is now likely to head to trial sometime in the summer of 2015.

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Google sues MPAA-driven Attorney General, Hood calls for 'time out'

Sat December 20, 2014 | Posted in: industry

Google has launched its own legal effort to stop Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood's effort with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to pin the search engine as the cause of the world's piracy problem. Google claims in the court filing in Mississippi's district court that Hood has filed a "burdensome, retaliatory" subpoena against it, which would require a massive financial and labor effort to comply, for no real gain other than extra-judiciary punishment. Hood has responded, and is "calling a time out, so that cooler heads may prevail."

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NK demands joint Sony hack investigation; Sony pulls movie promos

Sat December 20, 2014 | Posted in: industry, security

North Korea has verbally fired back at allegations that it is behind the Sony Pictures attack. Calling the recent FBI statement identifying the country as the culprit "groundless slander," the country is demanding a joint investigation into the hack, with the country's experts and US law enforcement working side-by-side. If the US should refuse, North Korea's foreign ministry promised "grave consequences," presumably to US interests. The government of North Korea continues to deny that they hack, which has caused an estimated $100 million of damage to Sony Pictures, not including less tangible problems, can on the country.

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Halo studio giving ODST, free month of Live to compensate for issues

Sat December 20, 2014 | Posted in: gaming, troubleshooting, software

Microsoft game studio 343 Industries has spelled out a compensation package for users affected by the matchmaking flaws that Halo: The Master Chief Collection has been plagued with since launch. The package includes Halo 3 adjunct title ODST, which was not expected to be released, a remastered multiplayer map, a month of Xbox Live service, and a character nameplate for use in-game.

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Apple Pay already accounting for one percent of all digital payments

Fri December 19, 2014 | Posted in: iPhone, Investor, industry, security, Apple

A study by research firm ITG suggest that Apple Pay -- introduced in October -- is already accounting for one percent of all digital payments - for comparison purposes, the three-plus-year-old Google Wallet system holds about four percent of digital payments. The firm also noted that those using Apple Pay increased spending using mobile payments, and tended to use the technology frequently -- resulting in a jump in sales at top merchants that accepted Apple Pay, such as Walgreens, Whole Foods and McDonald's.

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Briefly: Always-on voice search on Chrome OS, Amazon 4K video in UK

Fri December 19, 2014 | Posted in: software

Google is bringing the always-on "Ok Google" voice command to Chromebooks. Spotted in the Dev Channel version of the operating system by Francois Beaufort, the function lets users perform a search verbally at any time, in a similar manner to some Android smartphones. It is unknown if or when the feature will reach non-developer users.

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DirecTV users get access to Fox Now, FX Now, Nat Geo app content

Fri December 19, 2014 | Posted in: peripherals, iPhone apps, mobile phones, iPad apps

DirecTV has announced a partnership with Fox Networks, giving subscribers to the satellite-based TV service access to all the content in the Fox Now, FXNow, and Nat Geo TV apps on multiple platforms. This includes iOS, Apple TV, Android, and Windows devices. In effect, the change means that the apps have simply added DirecTV as a service authentication option, joining other TV providers such as cable operators.

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T-Mobile settles FTC 'cramming' lawsuit, agrees to pay $90M

Fri December 19, 2014 | Posted in: mobile phones

T-Mobile has settled a lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over complaints the carrier allowed third-party companies to place unauthorized charges to customer bills. As part of the "cramming" settlement, T-Mobile has agreed to pay out at least $90 million in fines and refunds, as well as altering its third-party billing practices.

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FBI: North Korea responsible for Sony Pictures hack, leaks [u]

Fri December 19, 2014 | Posted in: security

[Updated with comments from President Barack Obama] North Korea is responsible for the attack on Sony Pictures, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has now announced. The statement about the agency's investigation into the intrusion of the movie studio's computer network, and subsequent leaks, comes at the same time as messages supposedly coming from the hackers wanting Sony to do more than halt the release of "The Interview" movie.

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CalDigit reveals $200 Thunderbolt Station 2

Fri December 19, 2014 | Posted in: computers, peripherals

CalDigit has launched the Thunderbolt Station 2, a new Thunderbolt 2 dock. Like some alternatives, the dock includes two Thunderbolt 2 ports, three powered USB 3.0 ports, and connections for HDMI, Ethernet, and audio input/output. Two eSATA 6G ports are also present, supporting storage formats not normally enabled by a Thunderbolt dock.

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Apple's Cook, Williams 'deeply offended' by BBC supply chain expose

Fri December 19, 2014 | Posted in: industry, Apple

In a new email memo to the company's UK workforce, Apple's Senior VP of Operations Jeff Williams claims that he and CEO Tim Cook were "deeply offended" by a BBC Panorama documentary exposing labor abuses in the company's supply chain. Specifically, Williams and Cook are said to have been "deeply offended by the suggestion that Apple would break a promise to the workers in our supply chain, or mislead our customers in any way;" Williams charges that "Panorama's report implied that Apple isn't improving working conditions. Let me tell you, nothing could be further from the truth."

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Samsung shutting down ChatOn cross-platform messaging service in 2015

Fri December 19, 2014 | Posted in: software, iPhone apps

Samsung is shutting down its ChatOn messaging service in the next few months, the manufacturer has announced. The cross-platform messaging service will go dark on February 1 for the majority of users around the world, though apparently users in the United States could have access to the service for a little while longer than everyone else.

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Uber agrees with Portland council to suspend service for three months

Fri December 19, 2014 | Posted in: industry

Uber is putting a stop to its app-based taxi service in Portland, just two weeks after it launched. The Wall Street Journal reports the company made an agreement with the city to put a hold on the service for a three-month period, while the two parties negotiate and create a regulatory framework that allows ridesharing services to coexist with existing cab companies and other transportation options.

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Google posts response to leaked Sony 'Project Goliath' emails

Fri December 19, 2014 | Posted in: industry, security

In the past weeks, quite a lot has been revealed about Sony's role in ongoing anti-piracy efforts due to the leak of emails as part of the fallout of the North Korean-based GOP attack on the studio. In a post on Thursday on the Google Public Policy Blog, Kent Walker, Google SVP and general counsel, outlined even more leaks that describe a combined and carefully planned effort by Sony and five other studios that began this year to provide funding and legal support for the MPAA's efforts to court State Attorney Generals and target Google directly.

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Hottest Apple products see improved supply for final Xmas push

Fri December 19, 2014 | Posted in: iPhone, computers, Apple

In the past month, shipping times have been variable for some of Apple's most in-demand products. However, ship dates for the two new iPhone models, the 6 and 6 Plus -- along with the recently-introduced Retina 5K iMac -- have dropped just ahead of the final push of gift-buying for the holiday season. Both online ship times and same-day in-store pickup schedules have improved.

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Misfortune Cookie exploit endangers 12 million routers

Fri December 19, 2014 | Posted in: computers, security, peripherals

Researchers from Check Point Software Technologies released information on Thursday about an exploit they are calling "Misfortune Cookie." This bug was introduced into "RomPager" software, which is commonly embedded into residential gateway devices such as routers, beginning in 2002. A conservatively-estimated 12 million un-patched devices, connected to the Internet in 189 countries, are at risk.

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Analysis: Title II regulation, with forbearance, the best path forward

Fri December 19, 2014 | Posted in: industry

Since President Barack Obama voiced his support for reclassification of ISPs as utilities, there has been much debate back and forth, and back again on the topic of "Title II" regulation of carriers. Would it be the dystopian nightmare anti-government zealots and the carriers proclaim, or would it provide a golden utopia of progress for consumers and American businesses alike?

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Plaintiffs in Google antitrust lawsuit required to submit more details

Thu December 18, 2014 | Posted in: industry, software, mobile phones

US District Judge Beth L. Freeman ruled on Thursday that she requires the plaintiffs, Gary Feitelson and Daniel McKee, in a lawsuit against Google to submit more details. The two consumers allege that Android-based smartphone prices are being negatively impacted because manufacturers must agree to pre-load apps like the Google search app by default, instead of making deals with, for instance, Bing. The judge has said she would most likely dismiss the lawsuit as it stands, but is giving the plaintiffs a chance to revise it with additional evidence.

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White House encourages US telecommunications to enter Cuban market

Thu December 18, 2014 | Posted in: Investor, industry

In a fact sheet released on Wednesday, the White House has outlined some of the ways normalization of relations with Cuba will impact trade and travel. The document covers not only how many cigars Americans can bring home with them from trips to the island nation, but encouraged telecommunications companies to improve the Cuban people's connection to the rest of the world.

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Hands On: Supreme Ruler (Steam for OS X, Windows)

Thu December 18, 2014 | Posted in: gaming, software

War games may have originated from the need to boost military logistics and planning, but they have since become popular with civilian gamers. Risk and Chess are two popular war games most people are familiar with, as are Civilization and Hearts of Iron. How does newcomer Supreme Ruler Ultimate, by Battlegoat Studios, stack up to the classics?

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Interview fallout continues: actors complain, Team America taken down

Thu December 18, 2014 | Posted in: security

The fallout from the Sony Pictures hack continues, and is now affecting more than just The Interview. Theaters planning to screen Team America: World Police instead of the James Franco movie have been stopped from doing so, while a number of celebrities have all denounced Sony Pictures' decision to withdraw The Interview from distribution, and the White House has refused to comment on the hack investigation.

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New USB thumb drive-sized device can take over computers

Thu December 18, 2014 | Posted in: computers, security, software, hacks

A new USB microcontroller -- roughly the size of a small thumb drive -- has been demonstrated as a proof-of-concept device that leverages a serious and unfixable vulnerability in USB easily take over and install malware on any unlocked computer. Though it requires physical access or tricking the user into inserting the controller into a USB port, the device has worrying implications for any computer left unattended for more than a minute -- the time it takes for the device to gain admin access, change network settings, install a backdoor and remove any obvious sign of intrusion.

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