Apple hires Nike’s global ad manager


Apple hires Nike’s global ad manager

Apple has quietly hired a leading ad executive involved in Nike’s ad campaigns to lead its global advertising effort.

Rebecca Van Dyck, who has been running the Nike account at ad agency Wieden and Kennedy has left the firm to become Apple’s worldwide advertising director, AdWeek explains.

Van Dyck has worked exclusively on the Nike brand for 12 years — her entire career at Wieden and Kennedy. She held global oversight of Nike’s global ads for the last four years.

A representative at Wieden told AdWeek: “We are a huge fan of hers here, and she left on great terms. Her job at Apple was a ‘can’t-pass’ opportunity.”

“Apple last year spent $285 million in US measured media ads, nearly double the $150 million it spent in 2005,” the report observes.

ARM’s first 64-bit processors target servers, smartphones


ARM’s first 64-bit processors target servers, smartphones

ARM will announce its first 64-bit processors later this year for servers and high-end smartphones, and is also taking steps to build up software support for the processor designs, said CEO Warren East earlier this week.

The first 64-bit processors will be licensed to device makers and based on the ARMv8 architecture, which was announced in October. The 64-bit processors will be in volume production by 2014, after which it will reach devices, East said.

The processors could lead to the introduction of the first 64-bit smartphones, which could deliver better performance compared to devices based on current ARM processors that are capable of only 32-bit addressing. The processors could also support a wider range of 64-bit applications in the Windows and Linux environments.

“The aim there is to target the high-end of the computing spectrum — servers and high-end smartphones,” East said. The processors have been assigned the code-names of Atlas and Apollo until the final versions are announced.

Most smartphones and tablets today use ARM processors, and the company is trying to make its way into the Intel-dominated server market. ARM develops processor architectures and designs and its licensees include Apple, Texas Instruments, Nvidia, Samsung and Qualcomm. The company already has four ARMv8-A 64-bit architectural licensees including Nvidia and AppliedMicro Circuits, and more will be announced later this year, East said.

An ARM presentation slide listed Nvidia as implementing the ARMv8-A in highly anticipated chips code-named Project Denver for smartphones, tablets, PCs and servers. Chip maker AppliedMicro last year showed a 64-bit chip running at 3GHz.

There is a gap of a few years between ARM introducing a processor and the design being implemented in chips. For example, ARM unveiled its 32-bit Cortex-A9 processor in 2007, and it started reaching tablets and smartphones last year. ARM in 2010 introduced its Cortex-A15 design, which is expected to reach a few devices later this year.

Smartphones will need 64-bit chips as the devices run more demanding applications like multimedia as device makers move to plug in larger memory blocks, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64. A move to 64-bit in smartphones is inevitable as mobile devices mostly come with up to 2GB of memory and ARM’s current 32-bit processors support only up to 4GB, Brookwood said.

For servers, a 64-bit processor is a no-brainer as the applications and requirements are already there, Brookwood said. Servers require large memory blocks and many applications have already been written for 64-bit addressing.

ARM is pitching its processors to green data centers and server makers have already announced experimental systems with the Cortex-A9 processor. Hewlett-Packard has announced ARM-based server designs and Nvidia is mixing up its Tegra 3 chips and graphics processors in a Barcelona supercomputer.

ARM has some server-specific security and virtualization features in ARMv8, East said. The 64-bit processor will also be backward compatible and support applications written for previous ARM architectures.

ARM is also building software support to accelerate the adoption of its 64-bit processors in servers. A production version of Linux-based Ubuntu OS has already been released, and ARMv8 support is planned for Red Hat.

Looking forward in servers, ARM may have to tough task of unseating Intel, which has been offering x86 chips for years and dominates the server market, Brookwood said. Intel this year also entered the ARM’s turf with the introduction of the 32-bit Medfield processor for smartphones.

Intel could come up with the 64-bit smartphone processor with a few tweaks, Brookwood said. However, ARM could be hard to shake as it has a dominating market presence, and the need for 64-bit in smartphones isn’t dire.

Steam Reference Found On Uncovered Website: Final Fantasy XV PC Port To Be Announced Soon?


Steam Reference Found On Uncovered Website: Final Fantasy XV PC Port To Be Announced Soon?

Pretty painfully for all the Final Fantasy fans out there who love using their computers as gaming machines, it is known that officially Final Fantasy XV won’t be coming to Steam anytime soon. But today we have a possibly good news about this topic.

Final Fantasy XV

Courtesy of NeoGaf, it looks like the official Final Fantasy Uncovered website, focused around the event where Square Enix has confirmed it will reveal the release date and other details about Final Fantasy XV, has a secret reference to the Steam Store.

This could mean everything or nothing. Square Enix could have used the same web platform of all other website it handles for game releasing on PC, and those are a lot, but that reference could also be related to PC version announcement coming at the Uncovered event.

Given the dimension of the event and of marketing related to it, we wouldn’t exclude any announcement in that regards, but today it looks more like Square is focusing on completing the console release before embarking on other “journeys”. Share your thought in the comments below.

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Iran ‘to blame for its own Duqu infections’


Iran ‘to blame for its own Duqu infections’

An Iranian government official yesterday acknowledged that the Duqu attacks had infected computers in the country but claimed that the Trojan was “under control,” according to a report by a state-run news agency.

In response, an antivirus researcher blamed Iran for giving hackers a half-year’s free hand with Duqu, saying that Iran’s policy of not sharing samples delayed the detection of the malware and the patching of the Windows zero-day it exploited.

On Sunday, Brigadier General Gholamreza Jalali told the official IRNA news agency that some computers in Iran had been infected with Duqu, that possible targets were being checked for infections, and that the country’s specialists had crafted defenses against the Trojan.

Jalali heads Iran’s Passive Defense Organization, a military unit responsible for constructing and defending the country’s nuclear enrichment facilities. He is a former commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

“The software to control the (Duqu) virus has been developed and made available to organizations and corporations [in Iran],” Jalali told IRNA, according to translations of the original story by Western news outlets. “The elimination (process) was carried out and the organizations penetrated by the virus are under control.”

Iranian officials made similar statements last year about the Stuxnet worm, an ultra-advanced piece of malware that most analysts believe was aimed at Iran’s budding nuclear program.

Some security experts, including researchers at Symantec, have said that Duqu may be a precursor to another Stuxnet — the two share several similarities — although the former seems designed for reconnaissance and data theft, not for an attack on physical facilities.

Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab suspects that Iran was hit with Duqu in April 2011.

In a recent analysis of Duqu, Kaspersky said that the “Stars” malware — which Jalali confirmed had targeted Iranian machines in April — was likely a part of Duqu.

“Most probably, the Iranians found a keylogger module that had been loaded onto a system … [and] it’s possible that the Iranian specialists found just the keylogger, while the main Duqu module and the dropper, including the documents that contained the then-unknown vulnerability, may have gone undetected,” Kaspersky noted last Friday.

Like most malware, Duqu is composed of several pieces, including an exploit of a Windows kernel-mode driver vulnerability, a “dropper” that loads additional malicious code, a keylogger — which harvests usernames and passwords — and a data theft component.

The keylogger bundled with a Duqu variant that Kaspersky obtained from Sudanese researchers contained a photograph of a far-away galaxy, which may have been the genesis of Iran’s naming the malware as Stars. The attack against the Sudanese target was also conducted in April 2011.

“We’re convinced, in at least one of these Duqu attacks, that the keylogger Iran identified as Stars was actually the same as the one included with Duqu,” said Roel Schouwenberg, a senior researcher with Kaspersky, in an interview today.

Kaspersky blamed Iran for not sharing the Stars malware with other countries’ security researchers, a move that delayed the detection and subsequent public disclosure of the threat.

“We can’t be sure what they detected, only the keylogger or if they traced everything back to the dropper that used the Windows zero-day,” said Schouwenberg. “Obviously, if they had found the Word document [used to plant the malware] and shared that, we would have detected the zero-day and presumably Microsoft would have patched that a long time ago.”

Microsoft has confirmed that Duqu relies on an exploit of a yet-unpatched, or “zero-day,” bug in the TrueType parsing engine tucked into the “W32k.sys” kernel-mode driver. The Redmond, Wash. company has issued instructions for a temporary defense , but has not yet patched the vulnerability.

Last April, security analysts expressed frustration that they were unable to verify Iran’s claims about Stars because the country would not share samples of the malware .

Calling Iran’s refusal to share the samples “not a smart move,” Schouwenberg argued that it “gave attackers a half-year head start.”

Even if all Iran had was Stars — in other words, the keylogger — sharing it would have been valuable to those who have been targeted and infected since April.

“Just having the keylogger would not have been as beneficial, but even if all we had was that, we could have created detections for the keylogger, which would have deflected some attacks,” said Schouwenberg.

And with all the attention paid to Stuxnet by Western researchers, researchers would have dug into the keylogger in earnest, and perhaps managed to connect it with malicious Word documents that exploited the Windows kernel bug.

“With the way it was positioned at the time by Iran, as a possible Stuxnet, it would have piqued the interest of researchers,” Schouwenberg said. “There would have been a lot of reasons for people to start digging.”

Five things to do with your old Apple TV


Five things to do with your old Apple TV

That silver-topped, hard-drive bearing, Tiger-running, heat-emanating Apple TV from yesteryear has been replaced by today’s $99 black, 8GB-of-flash-memory, iOS-powered, cool-as-a-cucumber Apple TV (second generation). Given the new Apple TV’s lower-price, more responsive performance, and Netflix support (if you are in the US), it’s likely that owners of the original Apple TV are unplugging the things by the score and replacing them with the current model. But, when doing so, they’ve surely wondered what to do with the old one. We have some suggestions.

1. Keep using it

Just because you have a new Apple TV doesn’t mean you can’t continue to use the old one. iTunes 10 still supports the old dear and, unlike with the new Apple TV, you needn’t have a computer running iTunes to play the media in your iTunes library. Just sync the content you wish to enjoy to your old Apple TV and then quit iTunes or shut down your computer. The content on the Apple TV’s hard drive will play just as it always has.

Additionally, the original Apple TV lets you use the device with a TV or AV receiver’s Component inputs. If your second TV (the one not plugged into the newest Apple TV) lacks an HDMI port but does have Component inputs, you’re in business.

2. Upgrade it

If you intend to keep the old Apple TV because of its internal storage, you may wish to upgrade that storage, particularly if you have an original Apple TV with its 40GB drive. To do the job you must open the Apple TV, remove its hard drive, clone the contents of the original hard drive to a new hard drive, and then reassemble the Apple TV.

Senior Editor Dan Frakes wrote a step-by-step guide on upgrading you Apple TV’s hard drive that can help you through the process. And If the wealth of Terminal commands within those instructions puts you off, take a look at DynaFlash Tech’s AtvCloner, a free utility that allows you to image the original drive from your Apple TV (including its operating system and partitions) and clone it to a higher capacity internal PATA (parallel ATA) or external eSata drive.

If you’re not a do-it-yourselfer, OWC will upgrade your Apple TV for you. It offers both 250GB and 320GB hard drive upgrades. You can choose ground pickup and delivery or FedEx overnight pickup and delivery. Prices start at $160 for the 250GB hard drive/ground service.

3. Hack it

The original Apple TV focused almost exclusively on your iTunes library and the iTunes Store. And, for many people, that scope was too limited. With the help of a USB memory stick and one of a couple of utilities, your Apple TV can stream not only media from iTunes and the iTunes Store, but also content from a host of Internet-based sources–including Pandora, PBS, BBC, CNN, Onion News Network, NPR, Vimeo, CollegeHumor, TWiT TV, G4, and Shoutcast Radio.

A hacked Apple TV provides you with a far more Internet-friendly media device.

Those utilities are Fire Core’s $50 aTV Flash and the free atvusb-creator. You install one of these tools on a USB memory stick, unplug the power from your Apple TV, connect the memory stick to the Apple TV’s USB port, and plug in the Apple TV’s power cord. It boots from the memory stick (running a version of Linux), which then patches the Apple TV’s operating system. That patch allows you to install applications and use the XBMC and Boxee home media applications to watch and listen to streaming media. You can additionally stream the media on your Mac to these applications by adding network drives as media sources.

4. Sell it

For some people, the most important feature of the Apple TV isn’t Netflix streaming, video rentals, or small size–it’s the hard drive. The type of person who wants to dump his or her content onto a 40GB or 160GB Apple TV hard drive instead of leaving an iTunes-laden media server running may be happy to pay you for your slightly outdated hunk of technology. In recent eBay auctions, people have successfully unloaded older Apple TVs for $50 to $100.

5. Do something else

And, of course, you needn’t use it as a media device at all. If you’ve moved on to the new Apple TV and have no intention of looking back, you can rip out its hard drive and plunk it into an old PATA enclosure or Mac. Or locate its original packing, tuck it carefully away, and hope that in 20 years it will be a unique enough oddity that you can sell it for loads of e-credits on an eBay of the future.

Or, if nothing else, move it into the kitchen, plug it in, and use it as a convenient hot plate to warm up your soup.

200 business eBooks launched


200 business eBooks launched

Adobe is making over 200 business eBooks titles available.

The titles include: eBoys: The First Inside Account of Venture Capitalists at Work, by Randall Stross ($11.60); You’re Fifty-Now What?: Investing for the Second Half of Your Life, by Charles Schwab ($15.96); and The Art of Possibility, by Rosamund Zander ($18).

Adobe PDF-based eBooks offer colour pictures, complex graphics, rich fonts and, in some cases, they can be printed through Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.

Adobe’s free Acrobat Reader software views and prints Adobe PDF files across most hardware and operating systems. One of the Reader’s features – the interactive dictionary – allows any word to be clicked on for a definition.

Adobe’s Acrobat eBook Reader is available for download from Adobe’s Web site.

3D Realms Returns with Bombshell at GDC 2015


3D Realms Returns with Bombshell at GDC 2015

It’s been a long while since 3D Realms and Interceptor Entertainment first announced Bombshell May of last year, but it looks like they’ve been hard at work. The top-down action RPG features a “Bomb disposal technician turned mercenary for hire, Shelly ‘Bombshell’ Harrison,” who must fight her way across four planets to save the president from an alien threat. The game is expected to release in 2015, with Steam being the only platform revealed so far. A full description and the debut gameplay trailer can be found below.

More information can be found at the official website.

“From the creators of 2013’s Rise of the Triad and legendary game maker 3D Realms comes Bombshell, an isometric action role-playing game for PC and consoles. Bomb disposal technician turned mercenary for hire, Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison must strong-arm her way across 4 planets in an Unreal Engine-powered galactic adventure to rescue the president from an apocalyptic alien threat. With out-of-this-world enemies, a never-before-seen arsenal of devastating weaponry and a host of genre-crossing mechanics, Bombshell is set to blow you away.”

Russian Hacker Builds 70 Terabyte Home Computer


Russian Hacker Builds 70 Terabyte Home Computer

Ever find yourself deleting some files to make room for your overgrown media collection? Thanks to a new hack from a Russian PC enthusiast you should have plenty of room for your MP3 collection, along with the collections of everybody else you know. The hack consists of an array of 60 hard drives and the whole thing holds a whopping 70 terabytes of data.

That translates to 70,000 DVD-quality movies or, if you’re more musically inclined, somewhere in the neighborhood of 24 million songs. Of course, that kind of storage space doesn’t come easy. Besides the 60 drives themselves the rig requires 40 cooling fans to keep the temperature under control.

The final package may not win any awards for case design but the whole thing has a certain kind of stark utilitarian beauty to it. Presumably the unnamed maker is keeping the case open so he can switch the set up out with even heftier drives as they come along to keep the project from looking like an absurd relic a decade or so from now thanks to Moore’s Law.

[English Russia via Tom’s Hardware]

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt expansions are incoming | The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt


Witcher 3: Wild Hunt expansions are incoming | The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Witcher 3 has two expansions in the pipeline, totalling about 30 extra hours of play. Excited? You should be.

In a big announcement, one that will likely make fans of the Witcher series very happy, CD Projekt Red have announced their plans on releasing two purchasable expansions for The Witcher 3.

In the press release of the announcement, Marcin Iwiński, CD Projekt Red co-founder, outlined the company’s plan for the future, and talked about the two expansions.

“With the development of Wild Hunt coming to an end, the team has embarked upon the creation of two new really big adventures set in The Witcher universe,” … “We remember the time when add-on disks truly expanded games by delivering meaningful content. As gamers, we’d like to bring that back. We’ve said in the past that if we ever decide to release paid content, it will be vast in size and represent real value for the money. Both our expansions offer more hours of gameplay than quite a few standalone games out there.”

The two expansions are named Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine. Hearts of Stone is planned to be released later in 2015, while Blood and Wine should be available for people to download Q1 in 2016.

In the announcement, CD Projekt Red also cautioned players in buying their own stuff, warning players if they weren’t happy with having to pre-order more content, to just not buy it and wait for reviewers to get their hands on it. A very honest and transparent view, and a noble one, too. Both adventures together should total around 30 new hours, with a bunch of new items and characters – everything a new expansion should have.

The language of the announcement is also very interesting, particularly CD Projekt calling their content “Expansions” rather than DLC. Maybe they’re afraid of the bad taste the world “DLC” has been leaving in players’s mouths recently.

Whatever the reason, it gives Witcher fans more things to be excited about. Hopefully it will all be polished to a mirror shine before being released. I, for one, am very excited. What about you?

Both expansions will be available on all platforms.

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Perfect World International Offers Fast Track To Level 95 


Perfect World International Offers Fast Track To Level 95 

PWI Illusionary CrystalPWI Illusionary Crystal

Perfect World International’s got a new expansion going live on Dec. 16, called Eclipse. It’ll have two new classes and a new race, but — as is the case with most MMO expansions — the bulk of the new content will be available only to higher-level characters.

So what if you’ve been away for a while and want to have fun with your friends at the higher levels? Or if you’re just new to the game and want to see the best of what it has to offer? Lucky you! From now until Jan. 16, just log into the game and you’ll receive a free Illusionary Crystal, which will upgrade (almost) any character to level 95. It can’t be used on the two new classes.

The page describing the Crystal says it’s “valued at $60,” so you can buy more on the cash shop on the 17th or later. That’s if you really don’t want to level multiple characters and have a lot of spare cash lying around.

UPDATE: We received clarification from Perfect World that the Crystal can be used after the 16th. The offer for a free one expires on that date.