The U.S. Hacked North Korea First, Google Gets Lost In SpaceX [Tech News Digest]
The U.S. is accused of hacking North Korea, Google is investing in SpaceX, Amazon is making movies, Lizard Squad gets hacked, TextBlade shrinks keyboards, and beating Mario at his own game.
U.S. Accused Of Hacking North Korea
Apparently suicide in North Korea is punishable by death.
— Joshua (@Captn_Awesome_) January 20, 2015
The United States has been accused of hacking North Korea as early as 2010, well before North Korea allegedly hacked into Sony Pictures’ corporate network as a response to The Interview . If true, this would explain how the FBI is so confident North Korean operatives were behind the Sony hack despite the lack of evidence and continued denials from the North Korean government.
The New York Times made the assertions based on leaked documents from the National Security Agency (NSA). This raises questions over why the NSA didn’t warn Sony of an impending attack, but then doing so may have alerted the North Korean authorities to the methods being used by American spooks. In all honesty, we’ll probably never know the truth.
Google Investing $1 Billion In SpaceX
Google is rumored to be planning on investing $1 billion in SpaceX. According to The Information, the Internet giant is closing in on a deal to fund Elon Musk’s space-faring operation, with the company being valued at around $10 billion in total. Other investors are thought to include Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg.
Google is primarily interested in supporting the development of SpaceX satellites which could be used to bring low-cost Internet to developing countries. If the deal goes ahead it could signal the end of Project Loon, which sees Google using high-altitude balloons to bring wireless Internet to rural areas.
Amazon Takes On Hollywood
Me: “We’ll buy it from Amazon”. My 5-year old son, incredulous: “From the Amazon River?!”
— Patrick Chovanec (@prchovanec) January 20, 2015
Amazon is taking on Hollywood by announcing plans to produce movies which are then released in theaters before being made available exclusively to Amazon Prime subscribers . The initiative, called Amazon Original Movies, comes hot on the heels of the online retailer’s original series Transparent winning a pair of Golden Globes.
Amazon plans to release up to 12 movies each year, releasing them to Prime subscribers 4-8 weeks after they premiere in theaters. The company claims Amazon Original Movies will “focus on unique stories, voices, and characters from top and up-and-coming creators.” Which strongly suggests most of the films will be what were once called indie flicks.
Lizard Squad Hackers Get Hacked
Lizard Squad drama = Publicity Stunt, everyone fell for it. The IQ of the internet allows scams like this to be a reality.
— FuturisticHub (@FuturisticHub) January 12, 2015
Hacking group Lizard Squad, who claimed responsibility for taking down Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network over the holidays, have, according to security researcher Brian Krebs, themselves been the victim of a hack.
Details of the customer database of LizardStresser have been leaked online after the hack; LizardStresser being the DDoS attack service Lizard Squad launched in the new year. Ironically, the usernames and passwords for all 14,000+ users of LizardStresser were stored in plain text.
TextBlade Is A Really Small Keyboard
While typing on a touchscreen is fine in short doses, it gets annoying after a certain length of time. Which is why so many of us invest in portable keyboards for those times when we need to pen anything longer than a short, succinct message.
A company called WayTools has created what may just be the smallest portable keyboard in the world. Called TextBlade, this portable keyboard breaks down into three pieces which fold down to around half the size of a standard smartphone.
The video above shows how TextBlade can be used to achieve an impressive typing speed, although as with every design that deviates away from the norm, only practice makes perfect. TextBlade is compatible with both iOS and Android and is priced at $99.
Making Mario Think For Himself
And finally, a team of researchers at the University of Tübingen in Germany are trying to teach Mario to beat his own game. The project, dubbed Mario Lives! exists to create a “Living and Conversing Mario Agent.”
The researchers have turned Mario into a character able to think for himself to a certain extent. Rather than the player controlling his every move, Mario can now respond to voice commands and complete tasks without prompting.
This may seem rather silly but it could potentially be the makings of a totally new Mario game in which the Nintendo mascot and the player form a symbiotic relationship to reach the end. Which sounds creepy but could actually be a lot of fun.
Your Views On Today’s Tech News
Do you think Google is sensible investing so much money in SpaceX? Does Amazon stand a chance of competing against the might of the movie studios? Have you ever seen a portable keyboard smaller than TextBlade?
Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.
Image Credit: Roman Harak via Flickr