Google buys solar-powered drone company Titan Aerospace

Just a month after word came that Facebook was interested in the 20-person drone maker, Google snatches it up for an undisclosed sum.

by 

titan-aerospace.jpg

An artist rendering of a Titan Aerospace Solera 50 drone.Titan Aerospace

Technology companies are expanding beyond the Net and taking to the skies — literally, with solar-powered drones that will beam broadband Internet access to the developing world, which houses growing numbers of newly minted Web users these companies want desperately to get their hands on.

Facebook recently purchased Ascenta, a UK-based startup that makes solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — or simply called drones — for $20 million. Now, Google has entered the fray, purchasing drone maker Titan Aerospace for an undisclosed sum, according to a posting on Titan’s now barebones Web site: “We’re thrilled to announce that Titan Aerospace is joining Google.”

In fact, Google scooped up the roughly 20-person startup, based in New Mexico and headed up by former Symantec CEO Vern Raburn, after it was widely reported that Facebook was interested in buying it.

Raburn will stay in charge of Titan Aerospace, Google told The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the acquisition. His team will work closely with Google’s Project Loon, the outlandish initiative — born out of Google’s in-house “moon shot” facility Google X that brought us Glass and the self-driving car – to deliver Internet via air balloon. The drone company says it expects “initial commercial operations” to start in 2015.

Titan Aerospace, similar to Facebook-owned competitor Ascenta, is developing two insect-like drones — the smaller of the two with a wingspan a tad larger than a Boeing 767 — with wing-mounted solar panels that will power the aircraft’s batteries to keep it afloat at night. The aircraft, which will fly as high as 12 miles in the sky, are expected to have a long-term aerial lifespan of five years.

s50takeoff1366.jpg

An artist rendering of the Solera 50, the smaller of two Titan Aerospace drones that — with a wingspan of 164 feet — will be slightly larger than a Boeing 767. Titan Aerospace

The drones’ primary function will be to help send Internet to places without a current connection at speeds as high as 1 gigabit per second, which — matching the speeds of fiber-delivered Internet — outranks many developed countries. The US averages only 7.2 megabits per second as of 2014, according to the most recent Akamai “State of the Internet” report.

Titan Aerospace also will be outfitting its drones with imaging technology that could bolster the efforts of other Google initiatives like Maps. This includes high-resolution imaging of the Earth, alongside atmospheric sensors and other satellite-provided cellular functions like data and voice call connection.

“It’s still early days for the technology we’re developing,” in particular “atmospheric satellites,” Titan said on its Web site. “There are a lot of ways that we think we could help people, whether it’s providing Internet connections in remote areas or helping monitor environmental damage like oil spills and deforestation.”

Beyond the seemingly humanitarian-geared goals of creating a satellite network of drones lies the next big technology arms race: turning the citizens of developing countries all over the world into not only active Web users, but consumers of products from the very same companies bringing them online. Google has Android and its slew of low-cost handsets that run on it to help in that effort, while Facebook has been working to make its social network function in areas of limited data connectivity bycreating a text-only version.

For Facebook, the plan is to ultimately create more users of its social network. For Google, it’s a more visible cycle of creating new users of its products and services and search engine, which drives advertising revenue that gets funneled back into projects like Loon that facilitate greater access to the Internet that, in turn, creates new users in the Google ecosystem.

From here on out, the battle between tech giants is no longer just over your smartphone and its OS, your search engine of choice, or the destination of your online social life’s most valuable, ad-targeted assets. The fight has gone to space, and it’s not likely to remain so uncrowded as more and more large corporations start snatching up companies like Titan Aerospace and Ascenta in the future.

full story: http://www.cnet.com/news/google-buys-solar-powered-drone-company-titan-aerospace/

 

Here’s Amazon’s phone: six cameras and a 4.7-inch screen

BY BEN GILBERT

Rumors of an Amazon-made phone are nothing new, but today the rumors enter reality more firmly: what you see above is what BGR claims is the Amazon’s first phone. “Whoa, that’s super ugly!” you might be saying. Cool it, that’s just an enclosure around the device itself preventing prying eyes (like our own) from seeing the actual design. The good news is we can still learn a few things about the device without the enclosure removed: five cameras up front (reportedly a sixth out back) and a trio of buttons along the left side handle power and volume. The screen is reportedly of the 4.7-inch variety — which lines upwith previous rumors – and puts Amazon’s first phone on the same scale as Motorola’s Moto X (among others).

Before we move on, we should probably address that whole six cameras thing, huh? Well, the rear one is a standard phone camera for taking photos, and apparently one of the five on the front is also just a standard camera. The four other face cameras, though, are apparently for something especially unique: the phone’s 3D interface. All those cameras reportedly enable the phone to track the position of your head and where you’re looking, thus enabling glasses-free 3D from any angle. BGR says the four face cams are low-power infrared sensors.

So, what’s powering that effect besides cameras? 2GB of RAM and an unnamed Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, apparently. Rather than going 1080p, the handset is also said to push 720p (also similar to the Moto X).

If that’s not enough, the report also says that a less flashy, more affordable version will arrive this year as well. That’s two Amazon phones potentially leaked without Amazon acknowledging or even teasing either. Don’t expect shock on our faces when an ambiguous event invite shows up in the next few weeks.

full story: http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/15/amazon-phone-pictures/

The Heartbleed Bug

The Heartbleed Bug is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic Heartbleed Bugsoftware library. This weakness allows stealing the information protected, under normal conditions, by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the Internet. SSL/TLS provides communication security and privacy over the Internet for applications such as web, email, instant messaging (IM) and some virtual private networks (VPNs).

The Heartbleed bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software. This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content. This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users.

What leaks in practice?

We have tested some of our own services from attacker’s perspective. We attacked ourselves from outside, without leaving a trace. Without using any privileged information or credentials we were able steal from ourselves the secret keys used for our X.509 certificates, user names and passwords, instant messages, emails and business critical documents and communication.

How to stop the leak?

As long as the vulnerable version of OpenSSL is in use it can be abused. Fixed OpenSSL has been released and now it has to be deployed. Operating system vendors and distribution, appliance vendors, independent software vendors have to adopt the fix and notify their users. Service providers and users have to install the fix as it becomes available for the operating systems, networked appliances and software they use.

for more: http://heartbleed.com/

‘Heartbleed’ bug could undermine years of work to build public trust

Companies that rely on an encryption technology to safeguard consumer data are scrambling to fix the gaping hole discovered last week.

A gaping hole in an encryption technology left by the Heartbleed bug puts consumers’ data at risk. Above, people use computers at a library in Washington. (Olivier Douliery / Abaca Press / MCT)

By Chris O’Brien

The “Heartbleed” software flaw that triggered alarm bells around the world could fundamentally undermine two decades’ worth of efforts to persuade consumers they could trust the Web to securely handle such tasks as buying a pair of shoes and applying for a job.

The discovery of a gaping hole in a piece of software that was supposed to protect personal information from hackers left websites rushing to fix the bug while consumers struggled to understand what kind of risks they suddenly faced by venturing online.

That angst intensified, in part, because no one knows for sure just how much damage the Heartbleed bug had caused, or how widely hackers had managed to exploit it. Security researchers fear that it could take years to repair not just the bugs but also the trust of users.

“This is very bad, and the consequences are very scary now that it has been disclosed,” said Phil Lieberman, president of Los Angeles security management firm Lieberman Software. “The fact that this code is on home and commercial Internet-connected devices on a global scale means that the Internet is a different place today.”

Heartbleed is a flaw that was found in OpenSSL, a technology that provides encryption for about two-thirds of all servers on the public Internet. For most people, the technology shows up as a tiny green padlock icon next to the address field in a Web browser. It is supposed to signify that the password or credit card information typed on the website is secure.

But the bug essentially enables any hacker with the most basic of skills to use a simple piece of software to gain access to the IDs and passwords of a site’s users in just a few minutes. Word of the flaw burst into widespread public view Tuesday when Tumblr, which is owned by Yahoo Inc., disclosed that it had been affected and urged users to change their passwords.

In fact, the flaw was discovered several weeks ago by Neel Mehta, a security researcher at Google Inc., and a team of security engineers at Codenomicon, a security website that has since created a website with information about Heartbleed.

According to a person familiar with the details, Google immediately patched its own site and began notifying partners and the open-source community about the problem. In the meantime, two Google developers, Adam Langley and Bodo Moeller, helped develop a fix that was released Monday.

It appears the bug was introduced into OpenSSL by a simple programming mistake that then got pushed out as websites around the world updated the version of OpenSSL they were running. The security hole may have existed for at least two years, security experts said.

In addition to updating OpenSSL, websites will need to revise many pieces of their security protocols known as keys and certificates that help them confirm the identity of users.

On Wednesday, consumers started to receive a trickle of notices from services they use online warning them about the potential issue and recommending steps, such as changing their passwords.

SoundCloud, an online music sharing site, said it logged everyone off its service and asked users to sign back in and change their pass codes. Firebase, a mobile app development service, sent an email to users alerting them that the company had patched the software hole and updated its security protocols.

“We do not have any evidence that passwords or any other private information has been compromised,” Firebase said. “However, given that this exploit existed in the wild for such a long time, it is possible that an attacker could have stolen passwords without our knowledge. As a result, we recommend that all Firebase users change the passwords on their accounts.”

Michael Dominguez, of Austin, Texas, began reading about Heartbleed on Tuesday and found himself growing increasingly nervous. He called customer service for his bank, Chase, to see if it knew whether its website was vulnerable, but a representative hadn’t heard about Heartbleed. Dominguez said he also called his insurance company, USAA, and its customer service representative told him that its site was not vulnerable.

For now, Dominguez said he’s limiting his activities online and will continue watching for notifications from Web services he uses.

“Maybe this is a wake-up call,” he said. “Maybe we’ve all been lulled into this false sense of security. We rely on these websites to ensure they’ve taken all the precautions. So much of our lives are digital these days, and we take this stuff for granted.”

The bug is also raising questions about the wisdom of relying on an “open source” software that is developed and maintained by a community of developers, rather than by a single company.

“Having common technology is typically viewed as a good thing. But it can also lead to assumptions,” said Jonathan Sander, vice president of research and technology for Stealthbits Technologies. “People assume the parts they use are safe if everyone uses them. If deep testing isn’t being done by the good guys to make sure those parts stay safe over time, then you can be sure the bad guys will find the faults first.”

chris.obrien@latimes.com

Twitter: @obrien

full story: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-heartbleed-bug-20140410,0,5802778.story

Assassin’s Creed Unity Teaser Trailer

Following rumors and leaked screenshots, Ubisoft has officially confirmed the existence of Assassin’s Creed Unity with a brief teaser trailer for the upcoming game. Set in 18th century France, the game is the first Assassin’s Creed installment to be developed exclusively for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One – a separate game, codenamed Assassin’s Creed Comet, is rumored to be making its way to the PlayStation 3and Xbox 360 – features a brand new black-clad assassin, and is rumored to employ a modified take on the series’ signature parkour-like navigation system. Check out the brief glimpse of the game above and stay tuned for additional looks ahead of its Holiday 2014 release.

full story: http://hypebeast.com/2014/3/assassins-creed-unity-teaser-trailer

Amazon said to be negotiating Prime streaming music service

By Chris Welch

Amazon is said to be holding talks with record labels about a potential music streaming service. A new report from Recode claims these discussions are still in the early stages; Amazon hasn’t yet come close to finalizing the deals it would need to take on Spotify, Rdio, Beats Music, and Google Play Music All Access. Last year, we reported thatAmazon was talking to the labels about an on-demand music service, and Recode has essentially confirmed that a dialog is ongoing.

At this point, the novelty of music streaming services has largely worn off, but Amazon’s business approach could prove interesting. Just as it does with movies and TV shows, the company would likely include music streaming as part your Amazon Prime subscription. And while all of that content may seem like a lot when you factor in Prime’s $79 fee, Amazon has recently said it’s considering upping the annual cost by as much as $40. Having both music and video at your fingertips could help make a price hike easier to swallow.

SOURCE RECODE

An online Magna Carta is needed to protect the World Wide Web’s independence, its inventor says

By 

180520863 An online Magna Carta is needed to protect the World Wide Webs independence, its inventor says

The inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, believes an online ‘Magna Carta’ is needed to protect the independence of the Web and the rights of its users, The Guardian reports.

On the 25th anniversary of his first draft of the first proposal for what would become the World Wide Web, Berners-Lee warns that the neutrality of the medium is under threat from governments and corporations. He tells The Guardian:  ”Unless we have an open, neutral Internet we can rely on without worrying about what’s happening at the back door, we can’t have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities and diversity of culture. It’s not naive to think we can have that, but it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it.”

Berners-Lee has been a critic of the spying tactics that American and British governments have been accused of, in the wake of revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

His plan for an online Magna Carta would cover principles of privacy, free speech and responsible anonymity, and is being taken up as part of a project called “The Web We Want”, which campaigns for digital rights.

➤ An online Magna Carta: Berners-Lee calls for bill of rights for web [The Guardian]

Image via Danny Lawson/AFP/Getty Images

full story: http://thenextweb.com/insider/2014/03/12/an-online-magna-carta-is-needed-to-protect-the-world-wide-webs-independence-its-inventor-says/#!zpgCk

‘Titanfall’ Review (Xbox One): The Iron Giant

by Paul Tassi, Contributor

Speed. It’s been missing from the competitive FPS genre since the days of Quake. Call of Duty lets you sprint for mere seconds at a time. Gears of War has you run only when it leads to hiding behind a wall. Halo allows more mobility in the form of a power-armor assisted vertical leap, but often getting from one side of the map to the other is a daunting, plodding journey.

Enter Titanfall, Respawn’s new bit of multiplayer mayhem which puts mobility and speed front and center to the point where it often feels like the reinvention of the genre it’s trying to be. Sprint is unlimited, and far faster than its counterpart in other shooters. A jetpack allows for double jumps, edge grabbing and wallrunning, making nearly every part of every map landmark accessible on foot.

The speed is required, of course, to stay out from underfoot of the massive Titans that make up the other half of gameplay. Kills allow faster access to the machines, and once a pilot is inside, it takes enough firepower to destroy a small country to bring them down.

titanfall4

Titanfall is an Xbox One and PC exclusive from Respawn’s Jason West and Vince Zampella, the minds who brought Call of Duty out of World War II and shaped it into the powerhouse shooter franchise it is today. Now with their new title, Titanfall, they build on the existing concepts of their older games. Gunplay feels similar, but the speed, mech play and scope of Titanfall make it feel like it’s leagues past a simple evolution of Call of Duty.

The game is multiplayer only, for better or worse. It allowed the team to focus on making the most refined multiplayer experience possible, but also means that Titanfall is painfully short on anything like lore, story or iconic heroes. I wondered in a previous post if Titanfall would suffer without its own public face, be it Captain Price, Marcus Fenix, or Master Chief. Is a compelling multiplayer experience be enough to offset a nearly non-existent story? Yes, but it’s still easy to wish there was more mythology to this newly created universe.

The game does attempt to inject at least some bit of story into the game with an almost comically anemic “Campaign” mode. It’s simply a string of predetermined multiplayer matches, the only difference being a sixty second introductory voiceover explaining why exactly we have to hold points A, B and C on a map, and a fifteen second “drop-in” cutscene that’s barely more than what you see in regular multiplayer. Plot-related things actually happen during the match, but it’s impossible to have any idea what’s going on as you attempt to listen to radio communications while in the middle of a never-ending firefight.

It’s a lot like the much-derided Brink’s attempt at a campaign made up entirely of multiplayer levels, but even that game had more cutscenes explaining some vague semblance of story. It wasn’t a good idea then, and it isn’t a good idea now. It seems like the mode only exists so the game doesn’t feel quite so flimsy, but it adds practically nothing to the experience, and I did find myself wishing there was more to learn about the Titanfall universe than what we’re given. Perhaps a traditional, linear campaign isn’t the answer, but the game needed something more than this.

Fortunately, multiplayer is so engaging that the lack of a story will be quickly forgiven by most, especially since a great many players have take to skipping campaigns altogether in recent shooter releases in favor of diving right into deathmatches. Not a practice I partake in, but it is somewhat commonplace.

titanfall3

At long last, we get to see the full scope of the maps in Titanfall, rather than the two many of us played in the beta on repeat for a week. While it will likely take a while to learn them all, there are none that stand out to me as either empirically awful or fan favorites, at least not in these limited first few days of play. There doesn’t seem to be as much of a size disparity in the maps as there is in other games which have both tiny and sprawling levels, namely because no matter what mode you pick, it’s the same amount of players.

Similarly, the design is restricted by the fact that levels have to both accommodate massive Titans and tiny mobile pilots. That means that most levels are a mix of open spaces and smaller, corridored buildings. As a result, your preferred playstyle can work in any map, but it can also make many of them feel a bit too similar to one another.

It’s impressive how Respawn managed to make playing as both a jump-happy pilot and a locked-to-the-ground Titan equally fun modes of play, and entirely different than one another. Being a pilot on foot allows for much more diversity of play as you bound all around the map, killing pilots, AI bots and Titans alike. The shooting isn’t quite as tight as Call of Duty. The guns feel a bit softer in the way the connect with targets and may take some getting used to. There are far less gun and attachment options to choose from than other shooters, but there are many more than the limited selection we saw in the beta. The amount seems to be just right, as at a certain point, nine assault rifle variants with twenty attachments each seems to be a bit excessive. There are enough unlocks to instill a sense of progress, but not so many where the entire game is driven by XP collection.

Controlling a Titan is a different story than sprinting around as a pilot. They are locked into specific open tracks on the map, as jumping isn’t an option. You can swat and blast pilots like flies if your aim is good enough, but mostly you’ll spend your time battling other Titans. Those fights aren’t the twitch reflex “who shoots first” matchups of ground warfare, they’re often battles of attrition and strategy. You should always try to engage with a friend, and if you find yourself outnumbered or without a shield, you probably want to run. Switching between guns, missiles, shields and other abilities means there’s a lot to keep track of, but it’s not overly technical to the point where it’s cumbersome and annoying.

I believe many players will find themselves drawn to one form of combat over the other. Some may love the freedom of freerunning to the point where they’re content to let their Titan roam around in auto-mode, while others may never leave the safety of their metal nest, locked into the mech for as long as humanly possible. The game allows a mix of both, and the most fun moments are found when you hop in and out of your Titan, depending on the landscape and the foes you’re trying to fight.

titanfall2
I prefer Titan combat simply because I appear to be better at it. While I’m lucky if I break half a dozen pilot kills a game, I always rack up 4-5 Titan kills, which are much harder to come by. Many games, after I get my first Titan, I manage fight my way to the end of the match without dying, which is always a gratifying experience.

In general, it’s refreshing to die a lot, lot less in Titanfall than in other multiplayer shooters. While only the elite in other games will die 1-3 times in a match, in Titanfall that can happen frequently even to average players like me. It allows for far less frustration as you almost never get trapped in “spawn death” loops where you live for only a few seconds at a time, and get killed by unseen enemies before you have a chance to do anything. Rather, Titanfall’s universally large levels allow you to spawn a safe distance away from enemies most of the time, and as such you’ll likely only die a handful of times. Lives last minutes, not seconds, and that’s refreshing for the genre.

Of course fewer deaths means less killing. As nice as it is not to die every ten seconds, it comes at the price of a reduced amount of kills. To counter this and give players at least something to shoot at, the game is flooded with AI bots which dramatically outnumber the six players on each team. The bots pepper you with bullets that appear to be made out of Nerf foam, and serve as cannon fodder while you seek out an enemy that can actually fight back. The addition of bots is a mixed bag. It fills up the sprawling levels and creates a proper “battle” atmosphere that enhances the matches. But there’s a little pang of sadness every time you kill an AI thinking it was a human. As I said in the beta, ” I’m not sure it’s even possible for an AI soldier to kill you, and half the time it feels like you’re slaughtering defenseless, dumb animals that just happen to look like humans or warbots.”

The problem is that if all the AI were replaced with humans and we had something like crazy 16 vs. 16 matches, death and kill totals would skyrocket, making Titanfall just like other games in that regard. And since the game can’t handle that many players anyway, removing them would make for some very dull matches. Right now they seem necessary, whether we actually want them there or not.

Burn cards are another interesting aspect of multiplayer, though I’m not quite sure how impactful they are. Each player has three slots a game to use the consumable cards which can do things like shave seconds of a Titan drop, give the player an upgraded weapon, or allow them a special ability like unlimited grenades or invisibility. Most only last until the end of the player’s life, so when you have one active, you want to be especially careful to make the most out of it. In my eyes, they don’t really affect gameplay all that much one way or the other. They’re just fun little additions to make a minute or two of the game more interesting than it would have been otherwise. Perhaps I haven’t seen them all yet and a few could dramatically unbalance the game in some way, but that doesn’t seem to be the case yet.

titanfall6

For as much focus as Respawn devoted to making Titanfall a purely multiplayer title, it’s fairly disappointing that there are only five modes in which to play the game. All of them are 6 vs. 6 with the requisite swarm of bots, and include Attrition (Deathmatch), Hardpoint (Domination), Last Titan Standing, Pilot Hunter and Capture the Flag.

The first two are standard fare for every shooter, so it’s no surprise to see them here. Last Titan Standing should be right up my alley, as it’s a fun bit of search and destroy with Titans, but the matches are exceptionally long and snowball rapidly, making the mode rather unappealing. Pilot Hunter is just a stripped down version of deathmatch where nothing but killing pilots actually scores points. Capture the Flag is probably the most fun non-deathmatch game, as in the world of Titanfall, the action is five times as intense as it normally is for the mode. With Titans guarding flags and wallrunning and jetpack jumping as a means to avoid enemies, it’s easily the most pulse-pounding the game gets. The only problem is that if you’re an active flag pursuer, you’ll tank your overall K/D ratio as during Capture the Flag you canrack up 15-20 deaths rather than the usual 2-5.

But, that’s it. Five modes, most entirely traditional, one seemingly pointless, and all with the exact same player count. It seems like there could have been a lot more done with mode variety, and something like a custom game creator would go a long way. I’m picturing games that use permanent burn cards to shake up the action. Maybe Titans with special weaponry that drop randomly from the sky and can be controlled by both players. A mode where the rarely seen monsters from the variety of planets actually stumble into the map and influence gameplay. And at the very least, they need a ranked mode.

All of this seems possible through future patches, but it does make this initial release of Titanfall feel like something of a blueprint for the future rather than a final product in and of itself. While the multiplayer combat is absolutely excellent, and all Respawn’s hard work shows, the actual content of the game is relatively sparse compared others in the genre, given its almost complete lack of a campaign, an incredibly limited selection of modes, and no “third pillar” of co-op gameplay like Zombies, Firefight, or Spec Ops.

Finally, I have to praise the game from a technical perspective, at least so far. The launch has been flawless from my initial downloading of the game to the fact that I haven’t been booted out of a match due to server issues yet. I’m waiting for players to come home from school and work and start playing to make a final judgement call about stability, however. (Update: Annnnd the game probably killed Xbox Live). And for all the controversy about resolution at launch, the game looks just fine to me. It’s not the most visually impressive title I’ve seen in this new generation, but it didn’t need to be, and there’s certainly nothing to complain about. Besides, further resolution patches are coming, according to Respawn.

Titanfall is a great game and an incredible amount of fun. Combat is creative, exciting and never, ever static. It lacks depth past its core concept however, and hopefully that’s something that can be rectified well ahead of the inevitable Titanfall 2. But right now, this is the game the Xbox One needs, and it’s the first true must-have of the new console generation.

Platform: Xbox One, PC

Developer: Respawn

Publisher: EA

Released: March 11th, 2014

Price: $59.99

Score: 9/10

Follow me on Twitter, subscribe to my Forbes blog, and pick up a copy of my sci-fi novel, The Last Exodus, and its sequel, The Exiled Earthborn.

full story: http://www.forbes.com/sites/games/2014/03/11/titanfall-review-xbox-one-the-iron-giant/

Xbox Live Down On ‘Titanfall’ Launch Day

by Paul Tassi, Contributor

Well, that didn’t last long.

It seemed like a smooth launch for Titanfall so far, but just hours after I published my review praising Microsoft and EA for a release free from technical hiccups, Xbox Live has gone down.

Though there’s no official confirmation that the outage is tied to the Titanfall launch, it would be a fairly obvious culprit as millions of players try to access the game on launch day. Titanfall relies heavily on Microsoft’s Azure cloud servers which were going to be used to ensure something like this didn’thappen, but it appears things have gone wrong, as many expected they might.

The service outage has lasted for the better part of an hour now, and Xbox Support says that service is “Limited” right now. “Unable to sign in to Xbox Live on Xbox One?” they say, “We’re on the case to get this issue fixed as soon as possible!”

titanfall8

I thought I was taking crazy pills as when I was unable to play Titanfall (because there’s no offline mode, naturally), I turned to boot up Hearthstone, which has just dropped its beta badge to go officially live as of today. Now it seems Battle.net is alsodown, and the result was me resetting my internet for about twenty minutes until I figured out what was going on. I’m not sure why Hearthstone would pick today of all days to go live, nor do I know what their issue is, though I assume it’s 100% unrelated to Microsoft’s plight.

This is the problem with launching a 100% online multiplayer title like Titanfall. A game with a campaign would at least have something for players to do as they waited for Live to return, but the entire game is locked behind the online wall.

And now we see a problem with EA and Titanfall relying on Microsoft directly for server support. Now if the servers melt down, it’s not just Titanfall that’s inaccessible, it’s the entirety of Xbox Live. A problem for not only Titanfall, but Xbox One as a whole. The One is failing the digital test I talked about yesterday if this keeps up.

I suspect the server load is just too great as players are now getting home from work or school and trying to play. It’s 5PM EST, and with most schools out at 3 or 4, the service kicking out about an hour or so ago makes sense.

Nothing other than boilerplate “we’re fixing it” responses from Microsoft yet, so we’ll have to keep an eye on the situation. At least EA has someone to share the blame with this time.

Keep checking back here for updates, and I’ll post information as soon as I find it.

Update: From Respawn’s Vince Zampella: “Looks like Xbox live sign in is down currently. I hope that isn’t our fault!” Keep hoping, Vince.

Update #2: I’m hearing reports of people that have been playing through this entire outage. I guess that explains the “Limited” service interruption rather than whatever it would say otherwise. “Offline,” maybe. I’m trying to figure out if this is location-based.

Update #3: I’ve asked Microsoft PR for an ETA on service restoration, but nothing yet. As for how widespread this is, I’m not sure how to gauge it other than noting that “tweets per minute” about the outage appear to be extremely high.

Update #4: From Microsoft’s Major Nelson, who says this isn’t a Titanfall problem: “If you are having issues signing into Xbox Live, we are aware of it and actively working on the issue. This is not a #Titanfall issue.” Well that officially makes this the world’s worst coincidence, if that’s actually the case. I have my doubts their luck would be that poor, but I’ll take him at his word. Still, it’s the biggest launch of the year and Live was killed at the beginning of a peak traffic time in the US. Hardly a stretch to imagine the two are related.

Update #5 (7:50 PM EST): Well, the only update I have now is that Live is still down, and Microsoft PR said that Nelson’s tweet is the official word on the situation. I still cannot process how this is not Titanfall related, but that information will have to be sorted out when this crisis ends.

Update #6 (10:53 PM EST): Alright, it appears you can restore service using this process:

  1. While the console is on, press and hold the console’s Xbox button for 5 seconds.
  2. The console will power down.
  3. Wait 30 seconds, and then turn your console back on by again pressing the Xbox button.

It worked for me, and appears to be fixing the problem for many others as well. Hopefully we all can get in a few games of Titanfall before bed (lucky West Coasters). Anyway, more on this tomorrow as hopefully Microsoft will offer some sort of concrete explanation on what exactly happened here, and how it could have possibly not been Titanfall-related.

Follow me on Twitter, subscribe to my Forbes blog, and pick up a copy of my sci-fi novel, The Last Exodus, and its sequel, The Exiled Earthborn.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

full story: http://www.forbes.com/sites/games/2014/03/11/titanfall-review-xbox-one-the-iron-giant/