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Microsoft's Skype Is Most Used Messaging Service For Cyber Criminals, Study Finds

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 23:10
chicksdaddy quotes a report from The Security Ledger: Cyber criminals lurk in the dark recesses of the internet, striking at random and then disappearing into the virtual ether. But when they want to talk shop with their colleagues, they turn to Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft and its Skype communications tools, according to an analysis by the firm Flashpoint. Mentions of different platforms were used as a proxy for gauging interest in and use of these messaging services. Flashpoint analysts looked, especially, for invitations to continue conversation outside of cyber criminal marketplaces, like references to ICQ accounts or other platforms. The survey results show that, out of a population of around 80 instant messenger platforms and protocols, a short list of just five platforms accounts for between 80% and 90% of all mentions within the cyber underground. Of those, Microsoft's Skype was the chat king. It ranked among the top five platforms across all language groups. That, despite the platform's lack of end-to-end encryption or forward secrecy features and evidence, courtesy of NSA hacker Edward Snowden, that U.S. spies may have snooped on Skype video calls in recent years, The Security Ledger reports. The conclusion: while security is a priority amongst thieves, it isn't the sole concern that cyber criminals and their associates have. In fact, sophisticated hacking communities like those in Russia to continue to rely on legacy platforms like ICQ when provably more secure alternatives exist. The reason? Business. "These cyber criminals have a lot of different options that they're juggling and a lot of factors that weigh on their options," said Leroy Terrelonge III, the Director of Middle East and Africa Research at Flashpoint. "We might suspect that cyber criminals use the most secure means of communication all the time, that's not what our research showed."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Pirate Bay Founder Launches Anonymous Domain Registration Service

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 22:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: Former Pirate Bay spokesperson and co-founder Peter Sunde has just announced his latest venture. Keeping up his fight for privacy on the Internet, he's launching a new company called Njalla, that helps site operators to shield their identities from prying eyes. The name Njalla refers to the traditional hut that Sami people use to keep predators at bay. It's built on a tall stump of a tree or pole and is used to store food or other goods. On the Internet, Njalla helps to keep people's domain names private. While anonymizer services aren't anything new, Sunde's company takes a different approach compared to most of the competition. With Njalla, customers don't buy the domain names themselves, they let the company do it for them. This adds an extra layer of protection but also requires some trust. A separate agreement grants the customer full usage rights to the domain. This also means that people are free to transfer it elsewhere if they want to.

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Facebook is Working On a Way To Let You Type With Your Brain

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 21:20
From a report: Facebook today unveiled a project from its secretive Building 8 research group that's working to create a brain-computer interface that lets you type with your thoughts. Regina Dugan, a former director of DARPA and the ex-head of Google's experimental ATAP research group, announced the news today onstage at Facebook's F8 developer conference. Dugan, who now heads up Building 8, says the goal is "something as simple as a yes-no brain click" that could fundamentally change how we interact with and use technology. While it does not exist today outside of very specific medical research trials, Dugan says her team is actively working to make it a reality. Dugan refers to the technology as a "brain mouse for AR," meaning it could be an ideal way to receive direct input from neural activity that would remove the need for augmented reality devices to track hand motions or other body movements. For instance, the Microsoft HoloLens uses hand tracking to let you tap your finger in front of you as if you were clicking a mouse. Facebook's theoretical device could also be used for patients with severe paralysis, acting as a "speech prosthetic" Dugan says.

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Newest Firefox Browser Bashes Crashes

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 20:40
Nobody likes it when a web browser bombs instead of opening up a website. Mozilla is addressing that in the newly released v53 of its Firefox browser, which it claims crashes 10 percent fewer times. CNET adds: The improvement comes through the first big debut of a part of Project Quantum, an effort launched in 2016 to beef up and speed up Firefox. To improve stability, Firefox 53 on Windows machines isolates software called a compositor that's in charge of painting elements of a website onto your screen. That isolation into a separate computing process cuts down on trouble spots that can occur when Firefox employs computers' graphics chips, Mozilla said.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Ubuntu Is Switching to Wayland

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 20:00
An anonymous reader shares a report: Ubuntu is to ship Wayland in place of X.Org Server by default. Mir, Canonical's home-spun alternative to Wayland, had been billed as the future of Ubuntu's convergence play. But both Unity 8 the convergence dream was recently put out to pasture, meaning this decision was widely expected. It's highly likely that the traditional X.Org Server will, as on Fedora, be included on the disc and accessible from whichever login screen Ubuntu devs opt to use in ubuntu 17.10 onwards. This session will be useful for users whose system experience issues running on Wayland, or who need features and driver support that is only present in the legacy X.Org server session.

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TED Wants To Remind Us That Ideas -- Not Politicians -- Shape the Future

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 19:20
An anonymous reader shares a Quartz report: Amid global political upheavals, TED curator Chris Anderson argues that ideas have never mattered more. "Ideas changes how people act and [shape] their long term perspective," he said in during a April 17 press briefing. "Politicians come and go and ideas are forever." He said TED -- two segments of which will be broadcast live in movie theaters this year -- wants to re-introduce civility into political discourse. "We want to avoid the zero sum game we see on cable television every day," said Anderson, noting that TED is a non-partisan organization and has historically featured controversial and intriguing thinkers from both sides of the political divide. In place of the shrill, headline-bait tenor of political spectacles, TED wants to take viewers to a place of "reasoned discourse" where big ideas can act as a bridge between opposing views. By creating an eclectic program -- including an entire session delivered in Spanish and another on artificial intelligence -- Anderson said he wants to steer the conversation away from government and politics. "With so much focus in politics, the world is in danger of forgetting that so much of what really changes the future happens outside completely of politics. It happens inside the mind of dreamers, designers, inventors, technologists, entrepreneurs," he said.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Nintendo To Launch SNES Mini This Year, Reports Eurogamer

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 18:40
Nintendo plans to release another console this year aimed at nostalgia-seekers. The iconic game company is working on a Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) classic version that would launch in time for the holidays, according to Eurogamer, which cites sources with knowledge of the plans. The device is already under development and -- like its predecessor the NES Classic Edition -- will give gamers access to some of the console's biggest hits. From the article: Nintendo's plans for SNES mini are also a major reason why last year's NES mini did not see a reprieve from discontinuation, Eurogamer understands, despite the latter's continued popularity and sell-out status.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Silicon Valley's $400 Juicer May Be Feeling the Squeeze

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 18:00
An anonymous reader shares a Bloomberg report: One of the most lavishly funded gadget startups in Silicon Valley last year was Juicero Inc. It makes a juice machine. The product was an unlikely pick for top technology investors, but they were drawn to the idea of an internet-connected device that transforms single-serving packets of chopped fruits and vegetables into a refreshing and healthy beverage. Doug Evans, the company's founder, would compare himself with Steve Jobs in his pursuit of juicing perfection. He declared that his juice press wields four tons of force -- "enough to lift two Teslas," he said. Google's venture capital arm and other backers poured about $120 million into the startup. Juicero sells the machine for $400, plus the cost of individual juice packs delivered weekly. But after the product hit the market, some investors were surprised to discover a much cheaper alternative: You can squeeze the Juicero bags with your bare hands. Two backers said the final device was bulkier than what was originally pitched and that they were puzzled to find that customers could achieve similar results without it.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

The Slashdot Interview With Lithium-Ion Battery Inventor John B. Goodenough

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 17:20
You asked, he answered! Lithium-ion battery inventor John B. Goodenough has responded to questions submitted by Slashdot readers. Read on for his answers.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Bose Headphones Secretly Collected User Data, Lawsuit Reveals

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 16:40
The audio maker Bose, whose wireless headphones sell for up to $350, uses an app to collect the listening habits of its customers and provide that information to third parties -- all without the knowledge and permission of the users, according to a lawsuit filed in Chicago. From a report: The complaint accuses Boston-based Bose of violating the WireTap Act and a variety of state privacy laws, adding that a person's audio history can include a window into a person's life and views. "Indeed, one's personal audio selections -- including music, radio broadcast, Podcast, and lecture choices -- provide an incredible amount of insight into his or her personality, behavior, political views, and personal identity," says the complaint, noting a person's audio history may contain files like LGBT podcasts or Muslim call-to-prayer recordings.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Facebook Owns Four Out of the Five Most Downloaded Apps Worldwide

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 16:00
An anonymous reader shares a report: Facebook continues to storm the numbers as the company has claimed four out of the five spots for the most downloaded apps across the globe during the last quarter. Interestingly, Netflix still lords over everyone as far as revenue goes. New research by app analytics firm Sensor Tower reveals that WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and Snapchat were the most downloaded apps for the first three months of this year. While the numbers differed across the App Store and Google Play, one thing both platforms shared is that Facebook owned four out of the top five spots for the most downloaded apps worldwide. While Messenger topped the App Store download charts, Facebook headed the race on Google Play.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Baidu Announces New Open Platform To Help Speed Up Development of Self-Driving Cars

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 15:00
Chinese tech giant Baidu has announced a new autonomous vehicle platform called Project Apollo, which aims to help speed up the development of self-driving cars. "Baidu says the platform encompasses both hardware and software, providing partners with the tech and open-source code needed to help their own vehicles perceive obstacles, plan their routes, and otherwise move around our world," reports The Verge. From the report: Baidu says it will first open up Project Apollo for cars operating in restricted environments in July, before offering it to vehicles driving in simple urban road conditions later this year. That's ahead of a gradual rollout of self-driving features that should see cars operating fully autonomously on highways and regular roads by 2020. The release comes as Baidu moves to position itself at the forefront of the autonomous vehicle industry. The Chinese company has aimed for the ambitious goal of getting a self-driving car to market by 2018, and is challenging rivals such as Google on its home turf, building a team of engineers based in Silicon Valley and scoring relevant permits so it can test vehicles in California.

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When Computers Fly

The Daily WTF - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 12:30

In the Before Times, the Ancients would gather in well-sheltered caverns, gather to themselves foods blessed by the gods, drink strange, unnaturally colored concoctions, and perform the Rite of the LAN Party.

In the era when the Internet was accessed by modem, to have any hope of playing a game with usable latency, you had to get all the players in the same place. This meant packing up your desktop in a car, driving to your friend’s house, and setting up your computer on whatever horizontal surface hadn’t already been claimed by another guest.



source image

In the late 90s, Shawn W was the lead support tech for a small-town ISP. He had little supervision, and lots of networking equipment at his disposal. The owners were laid back, so Shawn got to throw a LAN party every Saturday. There was a solid core group that turned out pretty much every week, but there was also a rotating cast of newbies which made great fodder for practicing your railgun snipes on “Lost Hallways”.

One weekend, one of those newbies was Derek. Derek’s main multiplayer experience was getting stoned and playing split-screen Goldeneye, in Big-Head mode. Seeing multiple computers all networked together was pretty mind-blowing for him. He ended up not gaming very much, but instead wandered around, asking questions about the setup and tripping over network cables.

“Man,” he complained, after he unplugged Shawn for the fifth time, “those shouldn’t be so easy to pull out. Like, you need a lock on it. I could make you one, I’ve got some of those industrial strength zip-ties in the car, like they could lock that cable in real tight, like they hold luggage on your car and stuff. Industrial grade, man.”

No one wanted Derek to modify their computers, and given how he had made a hobby of tripping over any cable, even ones taped to the floor, having them get yanked out was better than having their computers yanked off the folding tables. Derek was a mild nuisance, but he knew how to make up for it: he was a good sport about getting fragged, he was happy to share his stash with anybody who wanted to step behind the building, and he paid for all the pizza.

Shawn had gotten stiffed a few times, so having someone else foot the bill for all the pizza meant he was willing to forgive a lot. When Derek called him at work on Monday, Shawn was pretty well disposed to him.

“Hey, I was talking to Murphy about the party this weekend- wait, you don’t know Murph. He’s cool, man, he’s my neighbor, and we like, game a bunch? We were wondering, we’d like to set up our own network.”

Shawn was happy to help- Derek was even a customer of the ISP, so it was even technically work.

“We were thinking, like, where do you get a really long network cable?” Derek asked.

“Like, how long? Is Murphy going to be setting up in a different room of your house?”

“Nah, man, he’s gonna stay in his house. He’s my neighbor, right? We could just string a cable between our windows. Murph’s got X-Wing vs. Tie-Fighter, and it’s just like the movies. I’ve even got a cool joystick for it.”

Shawn said, “Come on by the office, and I can just give you one.” They had a few thousand foot spools of cable. Shawn made him a 100-ish foot long crossover cable, since Derek didn’t have a hub, but there were only two computers in the network.

Derek picked it up, and called back a while later, looking for some help on configuring the network. “Hey, man, I got the cable run, and like, super tied down, but um… how do we make it work? I see the green lights on the network cards.”

Shawn walked him through configuring the network, and proving it worked via a ping test. Derek was ecstatic, and started to launch into the virtues of the TIE Interceptor in death-match, when there was a sudden crash and the sound of shattering glass. Derek screamed a curse.

“Um… are you okay?” Shawn asked.

“MY COMPUTER JUST FLEW OUT THE WINDOW!” Derek cried.

“Wait… what?” Shawn tried to imagine what that might entail- he remembered Derek mentioning that it was on a folding table, maybe it had collapsed and somehow the computer had fallen out the window?

“Oh, man, look at it out there, it’s totally trashed.”

“How did your computer fly out the window?” Shawn asked.

“A car drove by and caught the network cable.”

“Wait… does Murphy live across the street?”

“Yeah, why?”

Derek’s “logic” had been that their street wasn’t very busy. He had run the cable across the street, and weighed it down with rocks, thinking that would be safe. Since that put some tension on the cable, he didn’t want it to pop out of the network card, so he had broken out those “industrial grade” zip ties, and secured the cable to his computer’s case.

“I figured it’d be fine,” Derek said glumly. “I guess I was wrong. Hey, do you know anything about building computers?”

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Categories: Fun/Other

Scientists Invent Ultrasonic Dryer That Uses Sound To Dry Your Clothes

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 12:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Yahoo: Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee have developed a dryer that could make doing laundry much quicker. Called the ultrasonic dryer, it's expected to be up to five times more energy efficient than most conventional dryers and able dry a large load of clothes in about half the time. Instead of using heat the way most dryers do, the ultrasonic dryer relies on high-frequency vibrations. Devices called green transducers convert electricity into vibrations, shaking the water from clothes. The scientists say that this method will allow a medium load of laundry to dry in 20 minutes, which is significantly less time than the average 50 minutes it takes in many heat-based machines. The drying technology also leaves less lint behind than normal dryers do, since the majority of lint is created when the hot air stream blows tiny fibers off of clothing. Drying clothes without heat also reduces the chance that their colors will fade. While the ultrasonic dryer has been in development for the past couple of years, the U.S. Department of Energy explains in a published video that it has recently been "developed into a full-scale press dryer and clothes dryer drum -- setting the stage for it to one day go to market through partners like General Electric Appliances."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Broadband Expansion Could Trigger Dangerous Surge In Space Junk

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 09:00
A new study from the University of Southampton warns that expanding broadband networks via launching "mega constellations" of thousands of communications satellites could increase catastrophic crashes of dangerous space junk in Earth's orbit. "Dr Hugh Lewis, a senior lecturer in aerospace engineering at the University of Southampton, ran a 200-year simulation to assess the possible consequences of such a rise in orbital traffic," reports The Guardian. "He found it could create a 50% increase in the number of catastrophic collisions between satellites." From the report: Such crashes would probably lead to a further increase in the amount of space junk in orbit, he said, leading to the possibility of further collisions and potential damage to the services the satellites were intended to provide. The European Space Agency, which funded Lewis's research, is calling for the satellites planned for orbital mega-constellations to be able to move to low altitudes once their missions are over so they burn up in Earth's atmosphere. They must also be able discharge all batteries, fuel tanks and pressure tanks to prevent explosions that would scatter debris. Lewis is presenting his research this week at the European conference on space debris at the ESA's center in Darmsadt, Germany. Krag said he expected some of the companies planning launches to attend.

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Physicists Detect Whiff of New Particle At the Large Hadron Collider

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 05:30
sciencehabit quotes a report from Science Magazine: For decades, particle physicists have yearned for physics beyond their tried-and-true standard model. Now, they are finding signs of something unexpected at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's biggest atom smasher at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland. The hints come not from the LHC's two large detectors, which have yielded no new particles since they bagged the last missing piece of the standard model, the Higgs boson, in 2012, but from a smaller detector, called LHCb, that precisely measures the decays of familiar particles. The latest signal involves deviations in the decays of particles called B mesons -- weak evidence on its own. But together with other hints, it could point to new particles lying on the high-energy horizon. "This has never happened before, to observe a set of coherent deviations that could be explained in a very economical way with one single new physics contribution," says Joaquim Matias, a theorist at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain. B mesons are made of fundamental particles called quarks. Familiar protons and neutrons are made of two flavors of quarks, up and down, bound in trios. Heavier quark flavors -- charm, strange, top, and bottom -- can be created, along with their antimatter counterparts, in high-energy particle collisions; they pair with antiquarks to form mesons. In their latest result, reported today in a talk at CERN, LHCb physicists find that when one type of B meson decays into a K meson, its byproducts are skewed: The decay produces a muon (a cousin of the electron) and an antimuon less often than it makes an electron and a positron. In the standard model, those rates should be equal, says Guy Wilkinson, a physicist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and spokesperson for the 770-member LHCb team. The new data suggest the bottom quark might morph directly into a strange quark -- a change the standard model forbids -- by spitting out a new particle called a Z9 boson. That hypothetical cousin of the Z boson would be the first particle beyond the standard model and would add a new force to theory. The extra decay process would lower production of muons, explaining the anomaly.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

How Tilt Went From Hot $375 Million Startup To Fire Sale

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 03:25
tedlistens writes: Not long ago, social payments company Tilt seemed to have it all -- a hot idea; cool, young founders with Y Combinator pedigrees; and $67 million in funding -- not to mention a $375 million valuation. But Tilt was more successful at cultivating its user growth and fun, frat-tastic office culture than at nailing down a viable business model. When Tilt finally ran out of cash, the party ended with the company's sale at fire-sale prices to fellow Y Combinator alums Airbnb in an aqui-hire deal. Where did it all go wrong? Here's an excerpt from the report: "Tilt was based on the premise that 'something like PayPal and Facebook would collide,' Tilt founder and CEO James Beshara says. The company aspired to be a social network for money -- instead of sharing photos and videos, users exchanged digital cash for birthday ragers and beer runs. During Tilt's early years, the pitch was simple, and carefully calibrated for Silicon Valley boardrooms: 'Let's prove that we can dominate the globe.' [...] By early 2013, millions in venture dollars were pouring into Tilt's coffers. Investors were lured by the same strong social metrics (viral coefficient, for example, a measure of user growth) that had marked Facebook as a winner. But the hopes embedded in Tilt's $375 million valuation came crashing down to earth last year. Beshara hadn't built a business; instead, he had manufactured a classic Silicon Valley mirage. While investors were throwing millions of dollars at the promise of a glittering business involving 'social' and 'money,' their Mark Zuckerberg-in-the-making was basking in the sunny glow of Bay Area praise and enjoying the ride with his bros. Revenue was not a top priority -- a remarkable oversight for any company, and a particularly galling one for a payments company. Eventually, with cash running low, Tilt went looking for a buyer..."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Researchers Discover New Species of Giant Spider

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 02:45
adeelarshad82 writes: Califorctenus cacachilensis, recently named by researchers at the San Diego Natural History Museum, was first located in 2013 in a mountain range in Baja California Sur, Mexico. The eye pattern led researchers to believe it was potentially part of a group of wandering spiders from the Ctenidae family. Knowing Ctenidae are nocturnal, the researchers returned to the cave at night, where they spotted a living specimen. Their research further led them to confirm that it was a previously unidentified species related to the Brazilian wandering spider. The findings have been published in Zootaxa.

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Benchmarks Show Galaxy S8 With Snapdragon 835 Is a Much Faster Android Handset

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 02:05
MojoKid writes: Samsung recently launched the Galaxy S8 series of Android smartphones to much fanfare but only recently did the handsets begin to arrive in market for testing and review. Though the high-polish styling of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ may or may not appeal to you, few would argue with its claims of significant performance gains and improved battery life. As it turns out, in deep-dive testing and benchmarking, the Galaxy S8 series is significantly faster than any other Android handset on the market currently, especially when it comes to graphics and gaming workloads. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor on board the GS8 is currently a Samsung exclusive, though it's expected to arrive in other handsets later this year. The Adreno 540 graphics engine on board the new Snapdragon chip is roughly 25% faster than the previous generation 820/821 series, though the chip is only about 10 percent faster in standard CPU-intensive tasks. Regardless, these are appreciable gains, especially in light of the fact that the new Galaxy S8 also has much better battery life than the previous generation Galaxy S7 series. The Samsung Galaxy S8 (5.8-inch) and Galaxy S8+ (6.2-inch) are expected to arrive at retail this week and though pricing is carrier-dependent, list for roughly $720 and $850 respectively, off contract.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

StarCraft Is Now Free, Nearly 20 Years After Its Release

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 01:20
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Nearly two decades after its 1998 release, StarCraft is now free. Legally! Blizzard has just released the original game -- plus the Brood War expansion -- for free for both PC and Mac. You can find it here. Up until a few weeks ago, getting the game with its expansion would've cost $10-15 bucks. The company says they've also used this opportunity to improve the game's anti-cheat system, add "improved compatibility" with Windows 7, 8.1, and 10, and fix a few long lasting bugs. So why now? The company is about to release a remastered version of the game in just a few months, its graphics/audio overhauled for modern systems. Once that version hits, the original will probably look a bit ancient by comparison -- so they might as well use it to win over a few new fans, right?

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