Ashley Madison website hacked

The Impact Life hackers might not release any more data they stole from adultery-enabling site Ashley Madison, but the legal investigation into who exactly is responsible for the security breach is just getting started. As reported by The Independent, Ashely Madison's parent company Avid Life Media (ALM) is offering a $500,000 (in Canadian dollars, about $376,000 US as of this writing) reward for any information leading to "identification, arrest and prosecution" of those responsible for the hack. It's the first major step that ALM is making to find out what happened to its data, and it's also a very public confirmation that the data Impact Life stole is legit. High-profile security researchers had said as much in the days immediately following the hack, but the initial statement from Ashley Madison was a bit less concrete.

Twitter's direct messages via the web just got more useful. Today the social network will start rolling out DM notifications for its site which will be available for everyone by the end of the week. Once it does go live for you, if you have open in a browser tab and get a DM, a notification will appear in the top right corner of your display. The company has really been pushing for the DMs feature to become a full-fledge messaging service to compete with the likes of Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. In addition to today's desktop news, it recently removed the 140-character limit from direct messages and in January added group messaging. The company has been in the midst of determining how to attract and keep new users to its service. Expanding one of the core features into something most people use on a daily basis, it might be able to get those users to stick around and actually post status updates.

Following a leak last month, Microsoft's virtual assistant officially arrived on Android. Thanks to a public beta, Redmond keeps its promise to bring Cortana to the Google faithful. As we've already seen, you can use Cortana to help with things like answering random questions, setting reminders, tracking flights and a number of other tasks. What you still can't do, however, is use the "Hey Cortana" voice command to alert the virtual assistant to your needs. That remains a Windows-only feature for now, though Microsoft says it'll be "continually improving the experience." Perhaps that tool will arrive later, but for now, head to Google Play to nab the software in its current form.

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It's that dreaded time of year when lazy summer days with their open invitation to sandals, surf and shirtlessness begin to give way to the crispness of fall, hoodies and the back-to-school doldrums. Ah, but there's hope on the horizon: You can always buy things to forget the scheduled machinery of life. And, oh, have we got some selections for you -- no matter your budget.

We're not quite at the baller-level of gadget indulgence yet, but this week's back-to-school selections are certainly well-suited for the money's-no-object crowd.

An Android-powered slider may not be the only phone BlackBerry has pegged for Google's mobile OS. Following the leaks of a device codenamed "Venice" that's said to be offered in both Android and BB10 versions, a video of the recently announced Passport Silver Edition surfaced. The square QWERTY handset isn't running BlackBerry's software, though, it's sportin' Lollipop. In the video from Dudu Rocha Tec., a prototype version of the new Passport is equipped with what appears to be stock Android. It'll be interesting to see if this phone also packs in some of BB10's notable features like Venice is rumored to do. BlackBerry hasn't tipped its hand on Android devices just yet, so we'll have to wait and see if another model of the silver Passport will be the second model that'll tempt those who prefer Google's mobile software. BlackBerry is already working with Mountain View on a more secure enterprise version of Android, and a number of reports indicate that the company is planning it's own Lollipop (or Marshmellow) phones in the near future.

Until Dawn™_20150824003008

The PlayStation 4's latest exclusive Until Dawn is absolutely stunning visually. In particular? Its faces. By using 3D performance capture techniques that include strapping an HD camera rig to actor's heads (including Hayden Panettiere and Peter Stormare) to grab practically every minute detail and expression, the characters come to life in a pretty realistic fashion. What's really cool is that oftentimes once you let the DualShock 4 sit idle for a moment, the camera will zoom in on the face of whichever of the randy teens you're controlling. If motion controls are enabled, you can tilt the gamepad this way and that and the possibly doomed cabeza will follow suit accordingly. It's pretty neat!

The 'Super Mario Bros.' movie

Nintendo has lately been willing to license its characters for movies (see Donkey Kong's appearance in Pixels), but it's been a long time since there was a flick based on its characters -- maybe it's still having traumatic flashbacks to Super Mario Bros. from 1993. Whatever the reasons, it might just have a change of heart. Shigeru Miyamoto tells Fortune that the firm is thinking "more and more" about including movies as part of its strategy. He used to see movies as passive content that was at odds with gaming, but a shift to treating Nintendo as an "entertainment company" has once again raised the prospects of movie adaptations.

"Are we, like, in a movie right now?" It's an apt question one of the handsome teens starring in PlayStation 4's latest exclusive, Until Dawn, asked about an hour after I picked up the controller. Yes. No. Maybe. It's kind of hard to explain, and it appears Sony would rather not. At its core, Until Dawn is an interactive teen-horror movie (think '90s genre staples Scream or I Know What You Did Last Summer) set at a remote ski lodge where a murderous psychopath is on the loose. But after critics almost universally chastised Sony's other AAA tentpole, The Order: 1886, earlier this year for its gorgeous but bland cinematic leanings, "interactive movie" is a label the gaming juggernaut would rather not bandy about here.

In fact, Sony would prefer you not pay attention to this game at all. It's getting no love from the company's marketing department and was weirdly absent from this June's E3 media briefing. And that's a damned shame because Until Dawn is one of the best horror experiences -- interactive or not -- I've ever had.

Tube Train Doors

While Apple and Google are incorporating more public transport data into their operating systems, standalone apps like Citymapper continue to lead the way in terms of features. Already in 28 cities, the travel app combines bus routes and live times, train timetables and cycle paths, but from today it'll also help you navigate your way around an unfamiliar metropolis with its new "Where to Get On the Train" feature.


Humanity is still a long way from creating space-time wormholes -- if they're even possible -- but that isn't stopping Spanish researchers from achieving something similar for magnetism. They've produced a wormhole-like effect that transports a magnetic field from one point in space to another through an "invisible" path. The trick was to transmit magnetic fields between two spheres linked by a multi-layer, spiraling cylinder whose materials hide the fields while they're in transit. It's as if they vanished, and then popped back into existence somewhere else.

Mega Yarn Yoshi

If you thought that 8-bit Mario Amiibo from E3 was huge, you ain't seen nothing yet: Mega Yarn Yoshi is coming to take the "biggest Amiibo" crown. The beautiful toy you see above is an officially licensed, super-sized version of the popular Yarn Yoshi Amiibo. It's a fully-functional NFC figurine, so you'll be able to use its foot to interact with various Wii U titles. It'll activate the "Double Yoshi" feature in Yoshi's Woolly World, create an AI fighter in Super Smash Bros. or get a sweet Mii costume in Mario Kart 8. Priced at $39.99 and scheduled for release this November 15th, it's likely to sell very quickly. You'll want to keep a close eye on pre-orders as this green giant is going to cost a bomb on eBay once stocks run out.

Nintendo Wii U owners, mark your calendars. The Japanese console maker will be launching Star Fox Zero, the next space adventure from Shigeru Miyamoto, on November 20th in the US and Europe. It's one of the biggest titles headed to Nintendo's home console this fall, alongside Super Mario Maker, JRPG Xenoblade Chronicles X and the adorable Yoshi's Woolly World. Of the three, Star Fox Zero is arguably the most anticipated. It's been over a decade since Star Fox: Assault graced the Gamecube, but with the 3DS port of Star Fox 64, as well as the crew's appearances in Super Smash Bros., the series has stayed fresh in people's minds. Can Miyamoto and PlatinumGames deliver with the anthropomorphic space animals again? We'll be able to find out in just a few months.

It's hard to get super excited about mobile payments, but Android Pay will give a large number of folks a new way to pay for things. A new document from McDonald's unearthed by Android Police shows that the restaurant chain is preparing its employees to accept Android Pay starting on August 26th. Separately, another employee posted a photo on Reddit showing a similar document. For its part, Google has only said that Android Pay will arrive at the same time as Android 6 "Marshmallow," but has yet to reveal the date.

When Windows 95 launched on Thursday August 24th 1995 (the clue's in the name), Mortal Kombat was the surprise box office hit, TLC was top of the charts, and Microsoft was pushing its new operating system with a $250 million publicity campaign. Start buttons everywhere, buying the rights to The Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up" and a cyber sitcom starring Jennifer Anniston and Matthew Perry.Yes, a cyber sitcom.

Windows 10 is facing some fierce resistance from a few of the most dedicated torrenting communities. As TorrentFreak reports, the private torrent tracker iTS has banned its members from using the operating system over what it considers to be "terrible" new anti-privacy policies. These stem largely from a new Microsoft services agreement which covers select Windows 10 apps and services such as Cortana, Skype and Xbox Live: "We may automatically check your version of the software and download software updates or configuration changes, including those that prevent you from accessing the Services, playing counterfeit games, or using unauthorized hardware peripheral devices."

Google's Nexus phablet from Huawei looks like a steamroller ran over a periscope, if a leak from China's has any merit. Google is reportedly releasing two new Nexus models with Android M, a 5.2-inch model from LG and 5.7-incher from Chinese manufacturer Huawei. The LG version already leaked, but the above photo is the first we've seen of the Huawei variant (other than a render). We're not quite sure what to make of it -- there appears to be a large, oval cutout at the top for a camera module, a decidedly odd design choice.


In a bizarre turn of events, police have taken two men into custody for threatening the Pokémon World Championships in Boston. Investigators from the Boston Police Department (BPD) were tipped off after James Stumbo and Kevin North, 27 and 18 respectively, posted an image of an AR-15 and shotgun on Facebook, saying "(we) are ready for worlds Boston here we come!!!." Police searched their car yesterday and discovered the two weapons, along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition and a hunting knife. What makes it bizarre is that both players had actually qualified for the World Championships -- no easy feat -- and Stumbo was even the Nebraska state Pokémon champion.

G Pad II

Still (still?) looking for the Android tablet that fits your lifestyle? Maybe LG will capture your imagination, / wallet with a G Pad sequel that cranks up the processor speed (now a quad-core Snapdragon 800) while pairing it with a battery that's actually smaller (7,400mAh) than its name-based predecessor. It's now got a sharper 10.1-inch 1,920 x 1,200 display and while there's an LTE option, there's only a single color choice: Brilliant bronze. We'll ignore those with third-place connotations from the outset, but it otherwise sounds like pretty inoffensive Android tablet. LG says that price (even though it's noted in the press release that it will cost the same as its predecessor) and launch dates will be detailed locally when it launches across Asia, the US and Europe. The company added that we'll be able to paw at it at IFA in Berlin early next month. Wurst things have happened.

A Mexican protesting gang violence

Many activists thrive on Twitter, both to get their messages heard and to coordinate their on-the-ground action. However, it looks like there's a growing, sophisticated effort to dismantle Mexican anti-corruption and anti-violence protests through the same social network. Journalists have noticed that Twitter-based bots are trying to drown out Mexican activists' posts, issue death threats and promote counter-protest messages. They've been present as far back as 2012, when bogus accounts backed President Enrique Peña Nieto during his election campaign, but they've kicked into high gear following the September 2014 disappearance of 43 students that sparked a massive outcry.

'Uncharted' on the PS4 (left) and PS3 (right)

There's no doubt that Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is an attempt to rekindle interest in the franchise (and score some extra sales) ahead of Uncharted 4's release next year. However, that doesn't mean that Bluepoint Games' PlayStation 4 port of the first three Uncharted games is a simple cash-in. The team at Digital Foundry has conducted a shot-by-shot comparison of the anthology's trailer with the respective moments in the PS3 games, and it's clear that there are many, many little visual upgrades (beyond just the jumps to 1080p and 60 frames per second) that add up to a lot. More detailed objects are everywhere, lighting is more natural and cinematic depth-of-field effects occasionally pop up -- just take a look at Nathan and Sully in the PS4 edition (pictured at left) versus its PS3 counterpart (right). There are even elements that weren't there at all before. The games treat fire and dust differently than they did in the past, and you'll see new details like low-hanging clouds.