This Week in Computer Hardware 406: Ryzen 5 and Some Sweet TVs!

AMD announces Ryzen 5 CPUs… lots of cores for not much cash! Thinking about a new TV? Robert Heron joins us to talk up the latest from LG, Samsung, and Sony. Headphones burst into flames, tuning the Ryzen 7 for best performance, all the 1080Ti GPUs are sold, and are we going from Lithium batteries to glass batteries?!? Tons of hardware news in this week’s TWiCH!

Sony confirms existence of the PlayStation Neo, but says it won’t be at E3

By Rob Thubron | Techspot

It may not come as huge shock to learn that Sony has finally confirmed its high-end version of the PlayStation 4, codenamed Neo, is real. But what is quite surprising is that the machine won’t be on show at next week’s E3 event.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Andrew House, president and group CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, said the updated PS4 is coming, but we’ll have to wait a while before it’s officially unveiled.

As predicted, the new console is designed to support 4K content, both in videos and games, though precise details have yet to be revealed.

House said that there will be no Neo exclusive titles, and that “all or a very large majority of games will also support the high-end PS4,” which presumably means not every game will take advantage of its advanced hardware. Adding full support for the console will require some “small but manageable” extra work from developers.

“It is intended to sit alongside and complement the standard PS4,” he said, “we will be selling both [versions] through the life cycle.”

Another piece of unsurprising information is that the Neo will cost more than the current PlayStation 4, though House didn’t say by how much. Moreover, it will be compatible with the upcoming PlayStation virtual reality headset, but it’s unclear if VR games could be designed to utilize the Neo’s powerful components.

The supported software is set to arrive this fall, suggesting that the new console will be released around the same time.

Microsoft is still expected to show off its updated version of the Xbox One, codenamed Scorpio, at E3. In all likelihood, both consoles will be competing to become the number one Christmas seller this year.

First 20th Anniversary PS4 sells at auction for nearly $130,000

A standard PlayStation 4 console will set you back $399 at your local retailer. To grab the first of Sony’s 20th Anniversary PS4s, though, you would have needed to shell out nearly $130,000 at a recent auction.

Yep, that’s right: the winning bidder on the 20th Anniversary PlayStation 4 with the prestigious 00001 serial number paid a whopping ¥15,135,000 (US$128,000). The auction was run through Yahoo Auctions, and all proceeds will be donated to Save The Children Japan.

Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, a Sony representative stated “We appreciate all who participated in the auction and are surprised at the highest bid price, which was higher than our expectations”.

Late last year, Sony announced the 20th Anniversary PlayStation 4 as a throwback to the original PlayStation, coloring their newest console in classic grey. Only 12,300 units will be made available globally, although it’s too late to buy one: the $500 console sold out minutes after going on sale.

Other 20th Anniversary PS4s are selling for over $3,000 on eBay, though occasionally you can find them for cheaper.

via First 20th Anniversary PS4 sells at auction for nearly $130,000 – TechSpot.

Sony PlayStation 4 launch in China delayed

It looks like Chinese fans of the Sony PlayStation 4 will have to wait a while longer before they can get their hands on the console, because its launch has just been delayed.

Originally slated to be launched in China on January 11th, the PlayStation 4 has been delayed due to “various factors” according to Sony’s statement.

Reuters reports via unnamed sources, that negotiations between the Japanese company and the Chinese government are to blame for the delay, which as this point is seemingly indefinite.

The launch of the PlayStation 4 would have marked the entry point for the console to China, one of the biggest gaming markets on the planet. The Chinese government banned game consoles fourteen years ago but it has recently allowed both Microsoft and Sony to join its market with highly censored and specially selected content.

After its own initial delay, Microsoft launched its Xbox One in the country late last year and the console was reportedly selling well. There’s no doubt that Sony is not happy about this delay which will hamper its ability to compete with its archrival.

via Sony PlayStation 4 launch in China delayed – Neowin.

Lizard Squad now selling DDoS attacks as a service for as little as $6 a month

Lizard Squad, the hacking collective that took credit for the recent Xbox Live and PlayStation Network outage, is now selling the DDoS service they used in the attacks to anyone who is willing to pay for it.

Dubbed LizardStresser, the service is available in various packages, ranging from $6 to $500, depending on the length of attack, and allows you to launch DDoS attacks on any website or internet service of your choice.

There’s also a referral system, allowing you to earn 10 percent of whatever money your friends spend, and the service offers add-ons as well.

Ironically, the hacking group, which also took the responsibility for Blizzard and PlayStation Network outages last August, is advertising the tool as a stress tester. According to the product’s terms of service, “Permission is granted to stress test dedicated servers and networks owned by you. This is the opportunity [sic] to make your firewalls better, not to misuse against the law.”

The service currently only accepts Bitcoin, although the group says PayPal support is “coming soon.” According to Gizmodo, the payment system doesn’t work with VPNs, making it difficult for potential users to hide their identity and location.

The launch of LizardStresser also raises questions on the original intent of the hacking collective’s actions — while the group initially claimed that the motivation behind the Christmas attacks was to highlight the security weaknesses of the systems, a Lizard Squad member recently told the Daily Dot that the attacks on Xbox Live and PSN were all “a huge marketing scheme.”

via Lizard Squad now selling DDoS attacks as a service for as little as $6 a month – TechSpot.

Sony wants to make up for PSN outage, offers discounts, PS+ subscription extension

In an effort to make up for the recent PlayStation Network outage, Sony will be offering all PlayStation Plus members a five-day extension on their memberships. Terming it as an “appreciation for your patience,” the company said the extension will be available to all those who had an active membership or free trial on December 25th.

Sony said that if your membership or trial ends before the extension is available, you’ll still be eligible for it. The extension will be automatically applied.

In addition, Sony will offer a 10 percent discount code good for a one-time discount off a total cart purchase in the PlayStation Store. You can use it toward content available on the PS Store, including games, season passes, add-ons, TV series, or movies.

Like the membership extension, there’s no set date yet on when the discount will be made available though it’s expected to happen sometime this month.

Both, The PlayStation Network and Microsoft’s Xbox Live were targeted with a malicious distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on Christmas Eve. A hacker group named Lizard Squad, that had pledged to take down the services on Christmas Day, took credit for the attack which lasted for about three days.

via Sony wants to make up for PSN outage, offers discounts, PS+ subscription extension – TechSpot.

Sony: PlayStation Network is back online now, really

After giving gamers false hope on Saturday, Sony now says its PlayStation Network has been fully restored after a Christmas Day attack that knocked it offline for about three days.

At around 1 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time on Sunday, Sony declared its online gaming platform fixed and, as it had done the day before, blamed the problems on a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.

“PlayStation Network and some other gaming services were attacked over the holidays with artificially high levels of traffic designed to disrupt connectivity and online gameplay. This may have prevented your access to the network and its services over the last few days,” wrote Catherine Jensen, Vice President of Consumer Experience at Sony Computer Entertainment America, in an update to a blog post she had published originally on Saturday.

The company jumped the gun early Saturday when it trumpeted that the PlayStation Network was gradually getting back to normal, announcing the good news at around 4 a.m. via its Ask PlayStation Twitter account and triumphantly changing the PlayStation Network status to “online” in the support website a few hours later.

But it soon became obvious that the problem was far from fixed yet when by early afternoon the status of the PlayStation Network had been changed to “offline” again, and the Ask PlayStation Twitter account updated to say that Sony engineers were again looking into reports that users were having sing-in problems.

At around 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jensen published the first version of her blog post, acknowledging for the first time that the PlayStation Network had been under attack, leading to the outage. “PSN engineers are working hard to restore full network access and online gameplay as quickly as possible,” she wrote.

Jensen also apologized to the many disappointed gamers who received Sony consoles on Christmas. “If you received a PlayStation console over the holidays and have been unable to log onto the network, know that this problem is temporary and is not caused by your game console.”

Still, a search for “Sony PSN” and “PlayStation” on Twitter on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. returned a substantial number of posts from disgruntled users who were still having problems signing into the gaming service.

Many customers are also questioning on social media the quality of the PlayStation Network’s security. They’re expressing disbelief that a tech company as large as Sony can be so vulnerable to a DDoS attack that triggers a days-long outage at the height of the holiday season and on such a high profile online service, right as millions of customers—mostly children—are unwrapping new gaming consoles.

Read More: Sony: PlayStation Network is back online now, really | PCWorld.

Sony vows to sue Twitter if tweets containing hacked e-mails aren’t removed

If nothing else, Sony Pictures is determined to mitigate the damage stemming from the attack on its computer systems last month. After reportedly launching a DDoS attack to slow the spread of stolen data shared on certain websites, we’re now hearing that Sony is going direct after Twitter.

Motherboard recently obtained an e-mail that suggests Sony lawyers will bring legal action against the microblogging platform if they fail to shut down accounts that are sharing stolen information.

The e-mail in question reportedly came from Sony lawyer David Boies and was sent to Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s general counsel. Sony specifically asked Twitter to share the e-mail with Val Broeksmit, a musician that has been posting screenshots of hacked Sony e-mails to his Twitter account @bikinirobotarmy.

Twitter complied, forwarding the message to Broeksmit, adding that they can’t provide legal advice and that he may want to contact his own personal attorney regarding the matter. Broeksmit then forwarded the message to Motherboard.

Twitter has confirmed the authenticity of the e-mail exchange but declined to say whether or not they would be removing Broeksmit’s tweets, highlighting the fact that they are still live as of now.

Broeksmit told Motherboard that he’s not with a newspaper and thinks he can get away with it. He said it’s important because it’s so new and different from anything we’ve seen before. This is a billion dollar company being made bare to the public and it’s fascinating to learn how these companies work.

via Sony vows to sue Twitter if tweets containing hacked e-mails aren’t removed – TechSpot.

Google wrangles with Mississippi attorney general after Sony leaks

The recent data breach at Sony Pictures Entertainment has prompted a war of words between Google and the U.S movie industry, with the Internet giant accusing a state attorney general of collaborating with movie studios in a copyright enforcement campaign against it.

The dispute has spilled over into the U.S. court system. On Monday, Judge Henry Wingate of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi gave Google an additional two months to respond to a 79-page subpoena filed in October by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, according to an Associated Press report. Hood had originally given Google until Jan. 5 to respond.

Google on Friday asked the court to throw out the subpoena, days after the company accused Hood of using Motion Picture Association of America lawyers to draft a letter accusing Google of profiting from online piracy and illegal drug sales.

The movie studios have long accused Google of not doing enough to stop online distribution of pirated films. But the latest tiff started after emails released by Sony hackers showed the MPAA, Sony and five other large movie studios working together to attack a company code-named Goliath, widely believed to be Google.

The multi-year campaign by the studios would “rebut Goliath’s public advocacy” and “amplify negative Goliath news,” the Verge reported in mid-December. The campaign included an effort to work with state attorneys general and major ISPs to control the flow of data online, the Verge reported.

News reports about the MPAA’s Goliath campaign prompted Google general counsel Kent Walker, in a blog post last Thursday, to accuse the MPAA and Hood of trying to revive the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act [SOPA], the antipiracy bill killed in the U.S. Congress in early 2012 after massive online protests.

In the Friday filing asking the Mississippi court to kill Hood’s subpoena, Google’s lawyers argue that Hood’s investigation of Google is trumped by federal laws, including legal protections in the Communications Decency Act for Web-based services that publish third-party content.

“For the last 18 months, the Mississippi attorney general has threatened to prosecute, sue or investigate Google unless it agrees to block from its search engine, YouTube video-sharing site, and advertising systems third-party content … that the attorney general deems objectionable,” Google’s lawyers wrote. “When Google did not agree to his demands, the attorney general retaliated, issuing an enormously burdensome subpoena and asserting he now has ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ that Google has engaged in ‘deceptive’ or ‘unfair’ trade practice.”

A spokeswoman for Hood didn’t respond to a request for comment on the Google court filing, but Hood on Friday reportedly called for a “time out” in his dispute with Google.

The MPAA, however, has not backed down. “Google’s effort to position itself as a defender of free speech is shameful,” MPAA spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield said by email. “Freedom of speech should never be used as a shield for unlawful activities and the internet is not a license to steal.”

Google’s blog post last week was a “transparent attempt to deflect focus from its own conduct and to shift attention from legitimate and important ongoing investigations by state attorneys general into the role of Google search in enabling and facilitating illegal conduct,” she added.

Bedingfield, responding to the accusations that MPAA lawyers have assisted Hood’s investigation, pointed to a Public Citizen blog post defending the practice of state attorneys general getting assistance from outside lawyers.

“Hiring outside counsel to do consumer protection work that many AG offices are understaffed to handle expands the enforcement power of those offices,” wrote Scott Michelman of Public Citizen’s Litigation Group. “The state can better enforce its laws, protect its citizens, and potentially reap financial benefits by recovering money it wouldn’t have otherwise.”

via Google wrangles with Mississippi attorney general after Sony leaks | PCWorld.

Personal information of current and former Sony employees leaked by hackers

After promising a “Christmas gift,” hackers have leaked the social security numbers, credit card details, bank account information, healthcare information and compensation, and other employment-related information of current and former employees. Sony has warned that those affected should be on the lookout for fraudsters who might use their personal information.

Sony said it is in the process of investigating the scope and scale of the cyber attack, and has started to notify employees about identity theft protection services it will provide. The hackers previously threatened to leak more information they stole from Sony, calling it a “Christmas gift”, but said they would withhold personal information if employees ask them to do so.

A day earlier, executives at Sony’s movie studio had sought to reassure employees about the company’s future. The executives also praised their ongoing work.

In two separate meetings, CEO and Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment Michael Lynton and Co-Chairman Amy Pascal addressed staff at one of the company’s sound stages in Culver City, California. Lynton said that employees should not worry about the studio’s future, and he praised them for working to keep productions going amid the leaks.

via Personal information of current and former Sony employees leaked by hackers – Neowin.