TIME Gadgets

Sony Wants to Sell You a $160 Super-Quiet Memory Card

JAPAN-ELECTRONICS-SONY
Yoshikazu Tsuno—AFP/Getty Images Models display Japanese electronics giant Sony's digital audio player "Walkman ZX-1" (L) and a headphone "MDR-1" as Sony unveiled the new series of high quality audio set series called "High-Resolution Audio" in Tokyo on September 26, 2013.

But even Sony isn't sure if people will buy one

Hot on the heels of its new $1,200 Walkman, Sony has unveiled a new product for audiophiles with money to burn: A $160 memory card specially designed for song files.

The 64 gigabyte SR-64HXA micro SDXC can play back music with less electrical noise than the standard memory card, Sony told the Wall Street Journal. It also comes at roughly five times the price of its slightly noisier rivals.

Even Sony doesn’t know if people will buy a more expensive but quieter memory card. “We aren’t that sure about the product’s potential demand,” a Sony spokesperson admitted the Journal.

The company will get a better sense of the memory card’s potential when it goes on sale in Japan next month.

TIME Web

This ‘Exploding Kittens’ Game Just Raised Almost $9 Million

Animal Sanctuary Needs £200,000 To Avoid Closure
Christopher Furlong—Getty Images Milly, a 13-week-old kitten waits with her brother Charlie (L) to be re-homed at The Society for Abandoned Animals Sanctuary in Sale, Manchester which is facing an urgent cash crisis and possible closure on July 27, 2010 in Manchester, England.

The game that blew up on Kickstarter

A card game that features exploding kittens and wise goats has raised an astonishing $8.78 million on Kickstarter.

With 219,382 backers, “Exploding Kittens” is the most-backed Kickstarter project ever. It’s also received more funding than any project from the Games category.

Exploding Kittens was created by comic artist Matthew Inman, as well as Elan Lee and Shane Small. The game consists of a deck of cards and is basically a non-deadly version of Russian Roulette: if you draw a card with an detonation-prone kitten, you’re out.

The creators’ goal was a measly $10,000 in funding. Now, the game’s creators will have to ship card decks to more than 200,000 people, Mashable reports.

In a question-and-answer session on Reddit, a commenter asked, “Did you have any idea that this was going to be this big?.” Lee replied, “NOPE.”

TIME Companies

Apple Is Aiming to Produce Its Own Electric Car by 2020

The tech giant has been accused of poaching employees from competitors to work in an expanding battery division

Apple wants to start producing its own cars, Bloomberg reports, citing unnamed sources privy to the company’s plans, who say the tech giant is pressuring its teams to work towards the production of an electric vehicle within the next five years.

Bloomberg also cites a recent lawsuit filed against Apple that alleges it has also begun poaching workers from battery-manufacturing firms like Massachusetts-based A123 Systems as well as companies like Samsung, Panasonic and Toshiba.

Meanwhile, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, whose company is attempting to release its own affordable electric car by 2017 and serves as Apple’s main competitor in the automotive sphere, told Bloomberg this month that Apple is offering his workers $250,000 signing bonuses and a 60 percent salary increase to jump ship.

[Bloomberg]

TIME Security

Here’s How to Remove Dangerous ‘Superfish’ Software From Your Computer

Inside Lenovo Group Ltd.'s Headquarters And Flagship Store
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A Lenovo Group Ltd. logo is seen on a laptop computer displayed at the company's flagship store on Qianmen Street in Beijing, China, on Tuesday, Nov. 11,

It could make Lenovo users more vulnerable to hackers

Computer manufacturer Lenovo is in hot water this week after pre-installing software that tracks your Internet activity to show you personalized ads. While that sounds a little shady on its own, it gets even worse: Security experts say the software, called Superfish, can open up a nice big door that lets hackers intercept your data.

Lenovo said in a Thursday statement that it stopped pre-loading Superfish on laptops last month, and it won’t do so again in the future. Now, Lenovo is going a step further: It just posted instructions for Lenovo owners to tell if they have Superfish and, if they do, how to erase it.

That’s a significant backtrack for Lenovo: Earlier Thursday, the company said it could not “find any evidence to substantiate security concerns” over Superfish.

Security experts, however, disagreed. They say the problem with Superfish is that it’s able to scan your Internet activity even when you’re on encrypted sites by spoofing a website’s security certificate. Hackers can take advantage of that fake certificate process to steal your data while it’s in transit.

If you’ve got a Lenovo computer, it’s a good idea to follow these instructions to see if you have Superfish and get rid of it.

TIME privacy

Revenge Porn Mastermind Pleads Guilty to Hacking and ID Theft

TIME.com stock photos Computer Keyboard Typing Hack
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

The "Most Hated Man on the Internet" ran a huge website featuring nude photos of ex lovers

The founder and operator of a notorious revenge porn site has pleaded guilty to charges including unauthorized access to a computer and identity theft.

Hunter Moore, 28, has been called “the most hated man on the Internet” for his role in the website IsAnybodyUp.com, which posted nude and sexually explicit photos of people without their permission. The site brought in a purported $10,000 in ad revenue per month, Ars Technica reports.

Many of the photos came from spurned ex-lovers who submitted nude images of their former partners. An ex’s full name, profession, social media profile and city of residence were posted, ensuring the pictures would appear on Google and allowing family members and co-workers to access lewd pictures. Moore also pleaded guilty to paying for stolen nude photos from victims.

Each of the three charges against Moore carries a maximum penalty of two to five years in jail. Moore will likely be sentenced within the next several months.

TIME privacy

Lenovo Under Fire for Potentially Exposing Users to Hackers

Inside A Lenovo Group Store As Company Reports 25 Percent Jump In Fourth-Quarter Profit
Bloomberg/Getty Images Lenovo Group Ltd. signage is displayed near laptops in an arranged photograph at a Lenovo store in the Yuen Long district of Hong Kong on May 23, 2014.

The computer manufacturer's laptops were being sold with invasive adware

Computer manufacturer Lenovo is getting flak for selling laptops with marketing software that experts say opens up a door for hackers.

The software, called Superfish, analyzes users’ Internet habits and displays third-party ads based on that activity, The Next Web reports.

Troublingly, Superfish also impersonates certificates for encrypted websites in order to monitor users’ behavior even on protected sites. That can open a door for hackers targeting sensitive information like passwords or banking details, because users’ data isn’t being protected as well as it ought to be.

In a statement Thursday, Lenovo said it stopped preloading the software in January, and won’t preload it in the future. Lenovo also defended itself from criticism over installing Superfish in the first place, arguing the software doesn’t pose a security risk despite what several experts have said.

“We have thoroughly investigated this technology and do not find any evidence to substantiate security concerns,” Lenovo said. “But we know that users reacted to this issue with concern, and so we have taken direct action to stop shipping any products with this software.”

TIME apps

These Are Our 5 Favorite iPhone Apps of the Week

Try SNL, which puts thousands of the show's clips in the palm of your hands

It seems like hundreds of new iPhone apps pop up every week, but which ones should you bother trying? We explored the App Store and found five apps actually worth downloading.

  • Weather Lock

    Weather Lock
    Weather Lock

    Sometimes it’s the most simple app that’s also the most practical. Even Weather Lock’s name is intuitive — the app puts a basic graphic in your iPhone’s lock screen with a small strip of local weather info. No need to open a second app or check the weekend weather report. It’s a tiny fix to make your iPhone that much more useful during your day-to-day.

    Weather Lock is $1.99 in the App Store

  • Wave Podcasts

    Wave Podcasts
    Wave Podcasts

    Plenty of apps curate news and alerts for their users. Wave Podcasts is an incredibly useful tool that does the same thing but with podcasts, offering you a dedicated stream of episodes based on your preferences and friends’ recommendations. It takes countless podcast networks and combines them into a single listening tool, which means hours upon hours of easy, seamless listening.

    Wave Podcasts is free in the App Store

     

  • SNL

    SNL
    SNL

    After Saturday Night Live’s brilliant 40th anniversary special, this app gives you a fantastic way to enjoy the series’ best sketches. Not only can you cycle through thousands of different video clips from the show’s history, but you can also use the app to watch new episodes of SNL. The app can recommend clips you might enjoy based on your viewing history, and it comes with emoji add-ons for your texting keyboard.

    SNL is free in the App Store

  • Darkroom

    Darkroom
    Darkroom

    Darkroom is an advanced photo editor that makes it easy to post your results to Instagram and other social media networks. Users can create their own filters, which can be applied over other photos. The app directly accesses your photo library, which means you don’t need to select and import photos. An in-app purchase also allows you to toggle the RGB scale endlessly in order to make your photo look just right.

    Darkroom is free in the App Store

     

  • Wanderu

    Wanderu
    Wanderu

    During my senior year of college, I started traveling by bus to visit my brothers in an adjacent state. On occasion, I would find tickets from Chicago that were under $5 with Megabus, but an arbitrary price switch would put the same ticket north of $30 dollars just 24 hours later. Wanderu is like Kayak but for bus tickets—which would have helped me save a lot of money a few years ago. It helps travelers find the best ticket prices, at the most convenient times, and takes advantage of the growing number of affordable bus operators.

    Wanderu is free in the App Store

     

TIME Video Games

The Order 1886 Review: Sony’s Exclusive Blockbuster

Ready at Dawn

Ready at Dawn's latest revisits the "interactive movie" concept with mostly positive results

“When you play a game, one moment you’re just controlling it and then suddenly you feel you’re in its world,” said Nintendo luminary Shigeru Miyamoto in a recent interview, adding that playing a game is thus “something you cannot experience through film or literature.”

What to make of developer Ready at Dawn’s gloomy, Victorian, supernatural pastiche The Order: 1886 then, a game that frequently takes player control away?

On the one hand, The Order: 1886 is an interactive drama (or what we might have called an “interactive movie” back when Under a Killing Moon and Phantasmagoria were in vogue) that spends Hideo Kojima quantities of time in the driver’s seat. It’s a kind of participatory film with occasional bursts of third-person action, in other words. But are games only games when we’re manipulating the action? Is player agency the be-all, end-all? Or is there something potentially fascinating when simply watching what happens is a large part—or most—of the experience?

All I can tell you is that I generally enjoyed The Order: 1886‘s hybrid approach to whatever it is we want to call what we’re doing these days when we play/receive/experience/watch a game. In fact the more I delved into Ready at Dawn’s Arthurian legend retelling, the more I appreciated the way the studio seemed to know just the right moments to step forward and tell its story, then back away to let you maneuver through its James Bond-meets-Nikola Tesla ballistic scenarios for yourself.

Ready at Dawn

If there’s one thing The Order: 1886 does very well, it’s providing that sense of continuously inhabiting a detailed world. Call it a PlayStation 4 tech demo if you like, it’s still an achievement: the render complexity of Square Enix’s Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within finally realized in realtime, any lingering benefits of pre-rendered cutscenes extinguished in one gorgeously shaded and illuminated swoop.

Sometimes that leads to overindulgence. You can pick up items and glean vague plot-related details, for instance, but they’re window dressing (and at best worth a few PlayStation 4 trophies). The Order: 1886 isn’t an adventure game where you sleuth for clues to solve puzzles, but hefting objects for admiration’s sake alone feels like a missed opportunity. I spent a fair lot of time perusing doohickeys, papers and photographs, finding nothing gameplay-related, and wondering if I’d missed the point (or joke).

But there’s undeniably something more intimate about this sort of carefully controlled, story-emphatic, single-player approach that’s absent from freeform games: the shifting abilities (sometimes you can walk, run, climb, shoot, sometimes one at a time, sometimes all together) that ironically increased my involvement with my surroundings, and the way the studio uses the game’s slower pace to unpack the characters and plot.

Ready at Dawn

Not that Ready at Dawn’s design choices are unimpeachable. The story, however well told, feels a bit too Underworld in an era of hackneyed monster mashups. The quicktime events are as derivative and lifeless as quicktime events have ever been, and the only minor innovation–having to swing the camera around to unmask which button to push–feels like a pointless tack on.

That goes double for all the repetitive input. Game studios still haven’t figured out that asking players to jam on a button to make whatever mechanism work (like moving an elevator) is a cliched and frankly impoverished substitute for actual interactivity. If, for instance, you’re going to make sending Morse Code integral to the game, great, but if you’re just asking me to tap out a few letters on a control surface once and for novelty’s sake, then as Hume said, to the flames.

I’m also a little conflicted about the game’s gunplay. A few of the weapons are halfway interesting (in particular a monstrous thing that lets you fire combustible powder, then ignite it with a followup flare). The enemies are more than competent, and the difficulty spikes satisfyingly brutal. But there’s something a little formulaic about the way enemies appear during these sequences—like pop-ups in a carnival game, the deadlier heavies arriving only after you’ve passed a threshold, making battles less about learning to react shrewdly than pattern recognition.

Ready at Dawn

But then I also love the way low cover obscures your view during shootouts, encouraging you to seek taller cover (you can see more, standing and shooting around corners), or to find cover that’s a mix of both so you can alternate fluidly. I love that snipers won’t shoot until you pop up, that if you’re not using cover judiciously bullets can hit and knock you into the open, that shotgunners flank at close range and that you can dodge grenades.

A word about the ending, which didn’t work for me. As spoiler-free as possible, I can say it comes down to a choice, or the lack of one, and at the only point I wanted the freedom to choose. I get that Ready at Dawn needs to tell its story, that as far as its concerned the choice made is the only one possible, but boy oh boy that ending…it’s the one place where auteurism and agency feel most like matter touching antimatter, and not in an artsy or revelatory way.

Some players are going to buck Ready at Dawn’s approach no matter what I say, and by all means steer clear if “interactive drama” isn’t your thing, but I submit that’s the wrong place to raise bulwarks. The Order: 1886 has flaws enough without conflating personal taste and flawed presumptions about game design—though it’s also a promise, assuming Ready at Dawn gets the go-ahead to make a sequel, of what this sort of author-player partnership could yield, better tempered, down the road.

3.5 out of 5

Review using the PlayStation 4 version of the game.

Read next: This Museum Is Building a Video Game Hall of Fame

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Companies

Prank Callers Are Calling Comcast Customers to Curse At Them

Cable Giant Comcast To Acquire Time Warner Cable
Joe Raedle—Getty Images A Comcast truck is seen parked at one of their centers on February 13, 2014 in Pompano Beach, Florida.

Why you shouldn't post about your customer service grievances publicly

Prank callers masquerading as Comcast representatives have reportedly found fresh victims on the company’s Twitter feed, phoning frustrated customers simply to insult them.

Consumer advocate Chris Elliott reports that two victims received a call from self-proclaimed customer service representatives shortly after they had posted complaints to @Comcastcares, one of the cable service provider’s official Twitter feeds.

“We are Comcast, and we can charge you whatever the f*** we want’,” one customer was told. The call was recorded, and included unprintable physical and sexual threats, according to Elliott’s eponymous blog

Comcast traced the call to Ontario, Canada, where the company does not maintain a call center. A company spokesperson definitively declared it a “hoax.”

This isn’t the first time a Comcast customer has been taunted with obscenities. Some customers had previously received bills where their names were replaced by insults such as “Whore” and “Dummy,” Arstechnica reports. Comcast traced the bills to a third-party call center and terminated its contract with the company.

Our tip to avoid this? Don’t post your contact details publicly — if you’re dealing with a customer service Twitter account, slide into their DMs instead.

Read next: This Will Change the Way You Use Your Visa Card Forever

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Apple

Samsung Just Bought a Company to Help It Compete With Apple Pay

Samsung Presents New Divice at Mobile World Congress 2014
David Ramos—Getty Images CEO and President of Samsung JK Shin walks on the stage to present the new Samsung Gear Fit and the new Samsung Galaxy S5 during the first day of the Mobile World Congress 2013 at Forum Complex on February 24, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.

The company just acquired a mobile payments startup

Apple has already seen tons of consumer interest in Apple Pay, the mobile payments platform it rolled out with the iPhone 6 and iOS 8. Now, it looks like Apple rival Samsung wants a bigger slice of the mobile payments pie.

Samsung is acquiring mobile payments startup LoopPay, the company announced Wednesday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

LoopPay is similar to Apple Pay in that it lets you pay for stuff with your mobile phone. However, Apple Pay only works with registers that can accept payment from Near Field Communication (NFC) devices. LoopPay says its technology is compatible with a far wider range of registers, claiming it works at 90% of retailers that accept credit cards.

“With our earliest supporters at our side, we have been at the forefront of contactless payments to create a platform that brings together issuers, merchants and consumers that facilitate a seamless and rewarding digital wallet experience,” LoopPay CEO Will Graylin said in a statement Wednesday.

It isn’t immediately clear if Samsung will put LoopPay’s technology in any of its upcoming phones, but that would be a clear next step. Samsung is expected to introduce a new flagship phone, the Galaxy A6, at an upcoming event in March. Samsung and LoopPay were said to be working together before the acquisition, so there’s a chance Samsung has put some kind of new mobile payment technology in the A6 to compete with the Apple Pay-equipped iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Samsung’s devices have already been compatible with Google Wallet, Google’s NFC-based mobile wallet.

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