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A massive drone Google was testing as part of a project to provide Internet service with unmanned aircraft instead of satellites crashed after it encountered an updraft and one of its wings failed, US accident investigators have concluded.
The Solara 50 had just lifted off from a remote, desert landing strip in New Mexico on May 1 when it began experiencing control problems, according to a report by the National Transportation Safety Board. As a remote pilot attempted to stabilize the plane it hit a thermal updraft that propelled it upward and increased its speed, according to the NTSB.
In spite of attempts to reduce power, the plane went faster than designed and the left wing began to fail. “The aircraft began an uncontrollable and erratic flight path roughly straight ahead in a rapid descent,” the NTSB wrote in a brief summary posted on its website. The report, dated Nov. 19, hasn’t previously been reported.
After a section of the left wing came off, the right wing also failed. The aircraft struck the ground and was destroyed at 11:07 a.m. local time after about four minutes of flight. No one was injured.
Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.
The drone was built by Titan Aerospace, a company headed by former Microsoft Corp. executive Vern Raburn that Google bought last year. It has a wingspan of 164 feet (50 meters), according to company promotional material. It is supposed to fly above the weather for long stretches, where it could then beam Internet signals to earth as if it was a satellite.
The company is in a race with Facebook, which also attempted to buy Titan, to build new Internet services around the world. Facebook instead acquired U.K.-based Ascenta, which is designing its own high-altitude drones, for $20 million (roughly Rs. 135 crores).
An Arizona man who co-created software distributed by an organization called Blackshades that was used to hack into a million computers worldwide was sentenced on Friday to five years of probation.
Michael Hogue, who online was known by the moniker “xVisceral,” was sentenced by US District Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan after pleading guilty in 2013 to distributing malware and conspiring to commit computer hacking.
He was also ordered to forfeit $40,000 (roughly Rs. 26 lakhs) and perform 500 hours of community service. The sentence is conditional on Hogue’s continued cooperation with prosecutors in related matters.
Hogue, 25, first came to the attention of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2010, when, in an effort to advertise the malware, he contacted an undercover agent running a website established as part of a sting operation targeting the illegal trade in credit card numbers, court papers said.
In 2012, Hogue was arrested in an international takedown stemming from the sting. He subsequently agreed to cooperate with authorities in their investigation of Blackshades.
That investigation culminated in May 2014 with a sweep by US and European authorities that resulted in about 100 people being arrested, including Alex Yucel, a Swedish citizen who ran Blackshades.
Prosecutors said Blackshades’ flagship product was the “Blackshades Remote Access Tool,” which gave hackers remote control of other people’s computers and allowed them to record keystrokes, steal passwords and gain access to personal files.
The software, which Hogue co-created with Yucel, could be bought for $40 and was used to take over computers’ cameras to spy on their owners or to freeze people’s computers in exchange for a ransom, prosecutors said.
Blackshades had more than 6,000 customer accounts in more than 100 countries and generated at least $350,000 in revenue by selling the software from September 2010 to April 2014, prosecutors said.
Castel had harsh words for Hogue as he handed down the sentence Friday, saying he committed a crime of “historic proportions” that spread misery to people around the world.
“But when he was confronted he did something right,” the judge said, “He did what he could to make amends.”
Hogue said before being sentenced: “I feel awful for everything I have done.”
Yucel, 25, pleaded guilty in 2015 to distributing malicious software, and he was sentenced in June to 4-3/4 years in prison.
The case is U.S. v. Hogue, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-cr-00012.
Is it feasible to introduce the pay-per-view option for cable TV subscribers or should the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) include the preview of channels as well?
It is questions like these that broadcasting sector regulator Trai is seeking to answer in a comprehensive consultation paper launched by it as it looks at the various tariff models for cable TV.
The paper looks at a range of tariff-related matters, from the issue of carriage fees which broadcasters have to pay to distribution platforms to concerns related to providing consumers with wider viewing choice at a reasonable price.
The paper, which seeks comments from stakeholders, asks whether it is a good idea to separate free-to-air and pay channel bouquets so that more flexibility is provided to the subscriber.
The paper also looks at various price models as it seeks to ascertain which would be suitable at the wholesale level in the broadcasting sector.
Another question asked in the consultation paper is how should the price of the HD channel be regulated to protect the interests of subscribers.
In a statement in New Delhi, Trai said the consultation process is being carried out with the objective of holding a review of the current tariff arrangements.
The aim of the exercise is to enable growth of the sector while also ensuring that subscribers have adequate choice without being subjected to irrational tariff structures, it added.
Loot Crate introduced a new monthly subscription service called Loot Gaming at a PAX South panel today. It’s the company’s attempt at providing its customers with a monthly crate full of video game merchandise.
Loot Crate CEO Matthew Arevalo revealed to GameSpot that Loot Crate was working with Bethesda on Fallout-themed items for the November crate before the announcement of Fallout 4. He said there will be even more of this now that the company is focusing on a gaming-specific crate.
“We’re going to DICE next month and even more events we normally wouldn’t go to,” Arevalo explained. “That means we’re going to be working closer with more developers and publishers, learning what fans want, and working on getting exclusive items for the Loot Gaming crate.”
Arevalo said the core crate won’t cease the delivery of gaming-related items, but the merchandise you’ll find in Loot Gaming will not show up in the regular Loot Crate subscription boxes.
Loot Gaming will cost $25 a month and starts this spring. Arevalo says it’s likely that it will follow the same pricing structure as Loot Anime, which saves buyers money depending on how long of a commitment they make.
Loot Crate is a service that delivers mystery boxes full of geek and pop culture merchandise monthly. You can learn more by visiting its website.
The Witness, the next game from Braid creator Jonathan Blow, is suffering from widespread piracy on PC that’s so problematic that it could impact developer Thekla’s ability to make another game. That’s according Blow, who spoke about piracy and DRM in a series of tweets recently.
“It seems The Witness is the #1 game on a certain popular torrent site,” Blow said without naming the specific site. “Unfortunately, this will not help us afford to make another game! :(”
Someone suggested to Blow that The Witness’ $40 price tagmight have led people to pirate it. However, Blow said Braid, which cost $15 at launch, was pirated “just as heavily.” Another person said if Blow had released a demo for The Witness, piracy levels might have been lower.
Blow didn’t agree. “False,” Blow said. “Braid had a demo, was still pirated like crazy.”
It is unclear what form of DRM The Witness is using, if any at all, but it’s not Denuvo. That protection system is used in games likeRise of the Tomb Raider and Just Cause 3–and it could make it into Blow’s next game.
“That might happen on the next game, I don’t know!” Blow said. “I don’t like DRM because I think people should have the freedom to own things.”
The upside to people pirating The Witness is that the game will reach more people, Blow said, though there are of course downsides as well.
Coinciding with the release of GTA Online’s latest update, Rockstar Games has announced the next weekend event for the open-world action game. Now through January 31, Rockstar will hand out double GTA$ and RP for all Adversary modes, including Drop Zone, the parachuting mode that was just released.
Players can buy parachuting gear (parachutes, parachute smoke, parachute bags, and bulletproof helmets) for 50 percent off throughout the course of the event.
On top of that, Rockstar is offering 25 percent off all garage properties where you can store cars–perhaps the newly outfittedSultan RS and Banshee 900R that arrived in this week’s update. In other car-themed news, players can also earn double GTA$ for all races.
Rockstar has also launched a new “event playlist” in GTA Online. Complete all three jobs in the playlist–win or lose–and you’ll be rewarded with a package consisting of sticky bombs, SMG ammo, and grenades.
GTA Online is the multiplayer mode for Grand Theft Auto V. It is free, but you can spend real-world money on virtual currency. By Take-Two’s latest count, around 8 million people play GTA Online every week. With respect to its microtransactions, the mode is described by Take-Two’s CEO as “the gift that keeps on giving.”
Toy company Mattel has announced the latest Barbie dolls and one of them is a game developer. The Game Developer Barbie doll, as it’s being called, will arrive in stores this summer. The doll showcases a red-haired woman with headphones, glasses, and a laptop.
It is this year’s “Career of the Year” model, following 2015’s Film Director Barbie. Game development and film-directing are positions historically dominated by men.
According to an IGDA study, though the percentage of female game developers has doubled since 2009, women only make up 22 percent of the industry workforce. In Hollywood, a recent study reported on by TheNew York Times found that women made up just 9 percent of the directors of Hollywood’s 250 biggest domestic movies in 2015.
The Game Developer Barbie was revealed alongside Mattel’s announcement of three new Barbie bodytypes: curvy, tall, and petite.
“Barbie reflects the world girls see around them. Her ability to evolve and grow with the times, while staying true to her spirit, is central to why Barbie is the number one fashion doll in the world,” Mattel chief operating officer Richard Dickson said in a statement.
Get a 1 TB Xbox One bundle with three games for $320 on eBay. The game selection isn’t half bad, either–you get Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Rare Replay, and Ori and the Blind Forest.
The PlayStation Store has a Square Enix sale going on, offeringFinal Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PS4) for $10, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (Vita/PSP) for $5, Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition (PS4) for $10, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition(PS4) for $7.50, a number of classic Final Fantasy games for $5-$10, and more.
Get a free PC key for The Division’s just-launched beta from Nvidia.
PES 2015 for Xbox One and PS4 are free on Newegg after a mail-in rebate (PDF); you just need to pay shipping. That’s $3, unless you’re a Newegg Premier member, in which case it’s free.
Similarly, Assassin’s Creed Unity for Xbox One is free after rebate (PDF), plus shipping. Using promo code EMCEFGN66 brings the price down to $15, and the rebate gets you back the $15 asking price.
Link your League of Legends and Amazon accounts to receive a free Starter Pack.
Forza Motorsport 6 is $40 in a number of places right now, including Target. Combined with the current Target Cartwheel promotion on the game taking 35 percent off, you can get it for $26.
The latest Humble Bundle features Firaxis games, and it now has a few extra things, including Civilization V’s DLC and XCOM: Complete Edition. The rest works like it did before–you can pay as little as $1 to get games like XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Sid Meier’s Pirates, beat the average (currently $10.13) to get Civilization IV: Complete Edition, Civilization V, and XCOM: Enemy Unknown, or pay $15 to get everything, including Civilization: Beyond Earth. In all, you’re getting nine games, plus a bunch of expansion packs and DLC.
Below you’ll find the rest of today’s best deals divided by platform.
Preorder Street Fighter V for PS4 from Dell and get a $15 gift card (just add it to your cart to see it). Note that you’ll have to be a Dell Advantage member, which is a free membership service.
Check out all of this week’s deals on the PlayStation Store here, and all of the PlayStation Plus member-only deals here.
Other PS4 game deals:
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn — $10 (PlayStation Store)
Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below — $39 (Amazon)
DMC: Devil May Cry – Definitive Edition — $23.40 (Amazon)
Borderlands: The Handsome Collection — $38.39 (Amazon)
Lords of the Fallen: Complete Edition — $20 (Walmart)
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 — $32 (Amazon)
Infamous: Second Son — $23 (Amazon)
The Order: 1886 — $18 (Amazon)
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward — $30 (Amazon)
January’s free PlayStation Plus games are now available and include Grim Fandango Remastered and the newly released Hardware: Rivals. February’s games have been announced and include Helldivers and Nom Nom Galaxy.
The Gears of War: Ultimate Edition Xbox One bundle is $301.49 on Amazon.
Toys R Us is giving away a $40 gift card with the purchase of an Xbox One, but only in-store.
This week’s Deals With Gold discounts are now available and include Far Cry 4 for $24, Grand Theft Auto V for $40, and Rise of the Tomb Raider for $54.
Other Xbox One game deals:
Rise of the Tomb Raider — $39.59 (Amazon) / $40 (Best Buy) / $40 (GameStop) / $40 (Target) / $40 (Toys R Us)
January’s Games With Gold are now available and include Killer Instinct: Season One – Ultra Edition and Zheros.
Steam has a big 2K sale going on this weekend, bringingCivilization: Beyond Earth to $13, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel to $16, BioShock Infinite to $7.49, Civilization V: Complete Editionto $12.49, and more.
A handful of games are free to play on Steam this weekend. including Fractured Space, The Ship: Murder Party, and Sunless Sea.
GOG’s weekend sale includes series like Darksiders, The Book of Unwritten Tales, Spellforce, The Guild, and more.
Jade Empire: Special Edition is Origin’s latest free On the House game.
Save 20 percent off most games at Green Man Gaming using the promo code 20PERC-WTHGMG-201627.
Other PC game deals:
Rise of the Tomb Raider — $54 (Steam)
Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade early access — $40 (Steam)
Fallout 4 — $40 (Amazon) / $40 (GameStop)
Rainbow Six Siege — $40 (GMG)
Call of Duty: Black Ops III — $40 (Amazon)
Star Wars Battlefront — $43 (GMG)
Wolfenstein: The New Order — $16 (Best Buy)
Age of Mythology: Extended Edition — $7.49 (Steam)
Nintendo is selling the Super Smash Bros. 3DS XL systems (red/blue) for $175 on its online store, and also has somerefurbished XL systems for as little as $125. Take note that none of these are the New 3DS XL model.
Nintendo’s online store is offering refurbished 2DSes for $60 and refurbished 2DS bundles with Mario Kart 7 for $75.
Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward — $15 (eShop)
Metroid — $3.49 (eShop)
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse — $14 (eShop)
Fantasy Life — $28 (eShop)
Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Tokyo Tale — $6 (eShop)
Nasa has released an image capturing the first look at Pluto’s blue atmosphere in infrared wavelengths which was taken by its New Horizons spacecraft.
The photo captured in July last year was made with data from the New Horizons Ralph/Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) instrument.
In the image, sunlight is coming from above and behind Pluto while New Horizons was about 180,000 kilometres away.
The image covers LEISA’s full spectral range (1.25 to 2.5 microns), which is divided into thirds, with the shortest third being put into the blue channel, middle third into the green channel, and longest into the red channel.
There is a blue ring around Pluto which is caused by sunlight scattering from haze particles common in Pluto’s atmosphere, Nasa scientists said.
They believe the haze is a photochemical smog resulting from the action of sunlight on methane and other molecules, producing a complex mixture of hydrocarbons such as acetylene and ethylene.
These hydrocarbons accumulate into small particles – a fraction of a micrometre in size – which scatter sunlight to make the blue haze, scientists said.
The new infrared image, when combined with earlier images made at shorter, visible wavelengths, gives scientists new clues into the size distribution of the particles.
There are whitish patches around Pluto’s limbs, which are sunlight bouncing off more reflective or smoother areas on Pluto’s surface – with the largest patch being the western section of the informally named Cthulhu Regio, Nasa said.