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The Quest To Build Xbox One and PS4 Emulators

samzenpus posted 1 year,12 days | from the if-you-build-it-they-will-play dept.

PlayStation (Games) 227

Nerval's Lobster writes "Will Xbox One and PS4 emulators hit your favorite download Websites within the next few years? Emulators have long been popular among gamers looking to relive the classic titles they enjoyed in their youth. Instead of playing Super Mario Bros. on a Nintendo console, one can go through the legally questionable yet widespread route of downloading a copy of the game and loading it with PC software that emulates the Nintendo Entertainment System. Emulation is typically limited to older games, as developing an emulator is hard work and must usually be run on hardware that's more powerful than the original console. Consoles from the NES and Super NES era have working emulators, as do newer systems such as Nintendo 64, GameCube and Wii, and the first two PlayStations. While emulator development hit a dead end with the Xbox 360 and PS3, that may change with the Xbox One and PS4, which developers are already exploring as fertile ground for emulation. The Xbox 360 and PS4 feature x86 chips, for starters, and hardware-assisted virtualization can help solve some acceleration issues. But several significant obstacles stand in the way of developers already taking a crack at it, including console builders' absolute refusal to see emulation as even remotely legal."

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Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (-1, Redundant)

TWiTfan (2887093) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640087)

Those systems are locked down so tight, they won't allow ANY outside software to be installed, much less software specifically designed to allow for unauthorized games to be played (and mostly pirated ones at that). So, good luck with that. You will have to AT LEAST jailbreak them first.

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (2)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640145)

well, it took me two times to read the blurb but now I'm fairly certain that what they're referring to is emulators that would play the games from ps4 and xboxone(and fanbois are now yelling that we don't want that since h4x0000rrss would ruin our games. well guess fucking what they'll ruin your games anyways if the game is stupidly coded and you'll get some programmed bots anyways soon enough on your online games).

for the other way around, IF we get a way to run homebrew there will be emulators ported.. see
http://dev360.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Emulators [wikia.com]

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (0)

TWiTfan (2887093) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640229)

I'm fairly certain that what they're referring to is emulators that would play the games from ps4 and xboxone

Good lord, that's an even taller order. I think they may have just recently developed emulators for the Xbox1 and PS2 (and I'm not even sure how well those work).

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (5, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640311)

Recently? PCSX2 is at least 11 years old at this point.

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640573)

The Emotion Engine chip is apparently difficult to emulate in software.

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (1)

Desler (1608317) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640597)

Sure, but it's been a usable emulator for more than 5 years or so.

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (2)

geminidomino (614729) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640675)

FSVO "usable" depending on what game and how popular it is. (Disclaimer: This information is ~ 1.5 years old. YMMV)

The big problem with PCSX2 is that it was written with only two threads, and then cpu growth went horizontal (more cores) instead of keeping vertical (faster cores), so if it's not a popular game that gets its own tweaks (Final Fantasy anything, Persona, etc) you can be using a major beefy box that could run Skyrim on "ultra" while running a Xubuntu VM, and you're still going to have a bad time trying to play the original Ratchet and Clank.

Of course, rewriting the thing would be a massive undertaking, so I kind of gave up on watching it. Sad, really, considering the awesome library of PS2 games out there.

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45641041)

Your information is severely out of date.

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (1)

larry bagina (561269) | 1 year,12 days | (#45641099)

skyrim? Isn't that something you do when joining the mile high club?

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (5, Informative)

Jesus_666 (702802) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640313)

Not really. The PS4 and XBone are essentially fancy x86_64 computers with a small form factor. While the hardware is not exactly COTS it's much closer than the last generation's PPC cores. To emulate an XBox 360 you need to emulate an entire processor etc. To emulate an XBox One you can get away with virtualizing certain components. It should be closer to Wine than to PSEmu.

Easy? No, not by any measure. But vastly easier than the last generation.

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640355)

Not really. The PS4 and XBone are essentially fancy x86_64 computers with a small form factor.

And the original Xbox was an x86 as well. Didn't necessarily make it easy as the OS had to be reversed engineered tobe emulated.

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (3, Insightful)

neokushan (932374) | 1 year,12 days | (#45641009)

Not the whole OS, just certain API calls. This gen will be much more complicated, but the process will remain the same.

I wouldn't be surprised if the emulators start borrowing code from WINE and ReactOS to get the job done.

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (1, Redundant)

jellomizer (103300) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640623)

Yea Wine was a real easy project that just came out in no time at all.
Now even today Wine isn't used as a Windows Emulator/Replacement. But for a few targeted applications that you need to work with. If you have mostly windows apps, then you will be using Windows for better usage.
But I remember Wine back in the late 90's. It took a long time to get working and there is still a lot of work to go.
For the most part, people have switched to visualizing Windows in Linux as things work nearly 100%.

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45641015)

If you have mostly windows apps, then you will be using Windows for better usage.

Some games work perfectly well under wine and that means they work better (faster) than running them in VirtualBox or VMWare. Also a nice feature of wine is having multiple separate windows "installations" with different OS settings and isolated programs (also easy to clean up, just create a new wineroot directory).

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (1)

Narishma (822073) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640987)

So, how are you going to emulate the ESRAM of the Xbox One on a standard PC? Or the high-bandwidth GDDR5 unified memory of the PS4?

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (1)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640315)

well, they reckon that since it's x86 it's like superduper easy.

of course it is not. when xbox1 was selling back in the day the best I think they managed was stuff like booting the halo title screen...

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | 1 year,12 days | (#45641061)

Yeah, the hard part isn't the processor, the majority (if not all) consoles have very well documented processors, so as far as accuracy goes, the processor was never really a problem.
GPUs and the way everything connects, on the other hand...

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640405)

PS2 emulation in PCSX2 was pretty stable [pcsx2.net] for a long time now (Total Games: 2420 Playable: 1946 (80.41%)) and works reasonably fast on 5 year old PC.

Now XB360 and PS3 are tall order, what with the need to emulate custom PowerPC and Cell chips clocked as fast as any modern PC CPU.

XBOne and PS4 are easy compared to those - they've got run-of-the-mill x86 CPUs (easy to virtualise) with run-of-the-mill GPUs, in case of XBOne even with run-of-the-mill DirectX APIs, AFAIK.

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640485)

Thank goodness, you recovered from your moronic first post to add even more brain dead twaddle and ignorant speculation to a reply in your own thread.

Fucking retard.

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640943)

for the other way around, IF we get a way to run homebrew there will be emulators ported.. see
http://dev360.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Emulators [wikia.com]

There's no doubt that the PS4 and Xbone will be jailbroken. Probably quite quickly - they ARE x86 units after all. They really are really fancy derivatives of the original Xbox, and that thing was cracked 10 ways to sunday.

Hell, it might be preferable to have a launch unit where it's easily hacked than a later model where the hacks are far less available and definitely not soft-moddable.

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640197)

Other way 'round.

They want to grab whatever firmware or libraries or executables make those devices special compared to a white-box x86-based PC. That's probably a lot easier than discovering the checksum/certificate used to verify a 'signed' application and use it to develop a bootloader to run unsupported software on the device, since the tools required to do the former are already contained on each of them.

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640215)

Those systems are locked down so tight, they won't allow ANY outside software to be installed, much less software specifically designed to allow for unauthorized games to be played (and mostly pirated ones at that). So, good luck with that. You will have to AT LEAST jailbreak them first.

Aaahhahhahhah. :D Good job reading what the article is about. It's about writing an emulator for a desktop x86 computer to play PS4/XBone games.

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640459)

Thank goodness you correctly prioritized between "getting first post" and "saying something remotely useful, or at least not stupid".

Re:Locked down tighter than a CEO's wallet (0)

larry bagina (561269) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640955)

Yep, locked down tighter than my ex-girlfriend's asshole. Which is why she's my ex-girlfriend. And also why I bought a PS4, since I'm not getting any more snatch.

Tor One Hop Honeypots (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640109)

Is Anonymous Access to TOR Attainable?

7 December 2013

http://cryptome.org/2013/12/tor-anon-access.htm [cryptome.org]

"I was thinking about whether anonymous access to the first server, however desirable, might or might not be attainable."

Doubt (1)

freakyfog (914163) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640131)

Usually the emulator comes when the console becomes obsolete right?

Re:Doubt (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640167)

N64 had an emulator while it was still current gen.

Re:Doubt (4, Insightful)

VanGarrett (1269030) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640227)

Not necessarily. The only reason that's been an issue in the past, was because our computers had to significantly out-strip the machine being emulated. What's being suggested here, however, is not an emulator so much as a conditioned environment for execution, not unlike Wine.

Re:Doubt (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45641011)

This isn't really true, thanks to the miracle of dynamic binary translation.
Programs like QEMU don't emulate each instruction at run time, which is painfully slow as you suggest. Rather, when when instructions from the source architecture, you simply translate that into machine code of the target architecture. It can be challenging of course to map differences between registers, memory layouts, etc... But you have to do those things anyway to emulate.

There is not hard and fast rule saying that an emulator must be an order of magnitude more powerful than the source machine. The operating system in this case is much more difficult to reverse engineer than the hardware.

Nah (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640149)

Nah... there won't be any good games released for these consoles that aren't on PC already. Which is probably the #1 reason.

Re:Nah (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640233)

There are quite a few games on PS3/360 that doesn't have PC ports or where the PC ports were released long after their console release. Not sure why next gen would be different.

Re:Nah (1)

jones_supa (887896) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640829)

Red Dead Redemption, for example.

Re:Nah (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640267)

This might be the best reason why it will or won't happen. Path of least resistance and all... and you're right, no need to emulate if a simple code port is all that's necessary to get game titles on the PC (or vice versa). Every game for the PS4 or XBO will have a PC equivalent.

I wish I had modpoints to assign, but as an AC I don't.

Re:Nah (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640427)

But the reason most console exclusive games on PS3/360 are exclusive, is not the difficulty of porting the games, but because the console makers pay for the exclusivity, or simply own the studios (like Sony owns Naught Dog).

Re:Nah (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640641)

But the reason most console exclusive games on PS3/360 are exclusive, is not the difficulty of porting the games, but because the console makers pay for the exclusivity, or simply own the studios (like Sony owns Naught Dog).

Which isn't really relevant. It doesn't matter WHY the games are exclusive - just that some games are. If you want to play them you have to either pony up for the console or find another way (eg, emulation).

I actually had a 360 for the entirety of the previous generation (just because it was cheaper) and was fine with that except for exclusives, so this past Black Friday I picked up one of the cheap PS3 bundles and have been using that to work through the back catalog of exclusive titles (The Last of Us, the Uncharted series, Ni-No-Kuni, Kingdom Hearts Remix, etc).

This generation PS4 is actually the cheaper console, so I'm guessing I'll get that over XB One, but unless the emulation catches up I'm sure I'll buy one of those (much) later for the same reason.

Re:Nah (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640899)

WRONG. Sony's stable of first party developers almost always bring top notch stuff. Sucker Punch, Santa Monica, Naughty Dog, Insomniac, Polyphony digital are all forces to be reckoned with.

Why? (1)

Kohath (38547) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640183)

You can get almost all of the same games for the PC you're using to emulate the console. They're probably much cheaper on the PC. The PC versions will probably work better than the console versions plus the emulator. The online functions of the consoles will probably never work on the emulator.

It seems like a lot of effort to build something inferior.

Re:Why? (1)

cultiv8 (1660093) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640289)

And there are much easier ways to get over a mountain than climbing it.

One word (2)

Daniel Hoffmann (2902427) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640327)


Re:Why? (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640685)

Not all games are available on PC. The latest Halo's have not been. Nothing by Naughty Dog (Uncharted, The Last of Us). A lot of Square Enix's titles are not (a lot of JRPG's in general actually).

I love gaming on my PC - particularly with Steam sales making many games pretty much dirt cheap, and I just plug in a wired XB360 controller to my PC and get console controls for most of them. That said, there's still a lot of titles that simply aren't available there. For those you need emulation (or to just buy the system - which IMHO is the preferable solution).

Re:Why? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640863)

You can get almost all of the same games for the PC you're using to emulate the console. They're probably much cheaper on the PC. The PC versions will probably work better than the console versions plus the emulator. The online functions of the consoles will probably never work on the emulator.

It seems like a lot of effort to build something inferior.

It depends.

A lot of PC releases these days are $60, and ship months after the console release. (You do get the odd one that's same day - usually limited to FPSes and such).

If it's an indie game, you're correct on all counts - the PC version will be cheaper and better. But if it's an "AAA" game, then chances are the price will be same as consoles, released months afterwards and be an inferior port.

The problem is piracy has killed a chunk of the PC gaming market - when 90% piracy numbers are considered "normal". Indies, who really are less about making a ton of money and more about getting mind-share, don't care - piracy definitely helps them (think free advertising). Plus the low dev costs of PCs generally mean it's easy and cheap to develop.

But the others look at the numbers and decline - the PC port of a game that sells out on consoles may only break even at best in real terms.

In general, to the big players, the ROI of PC is poor.

Of course, it's also meant that the PC has a huge pile of smaller developers making more innovative games, and coupled with mobile platforms encouraging indie development, the loss of AAA hasn't REALLY hurt the PC much - there's still plenty of good games for it. It's only if you want AAA games that you'll find the PC lacking (say, Grand Theft Auto 5, spring 2014).

It's also why Microsoft and Sony are tripping over themselves trying to attract the indie crowd.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45641021)

fortunately AAA != good

Re:Why? (2)

neokushan (932374) | 1 year,12 days | (#45641073)

Preservation? The work that went into building emulators of old has meant that we can now play SNES games et all on modern hardware - such as Android tablets. I have no idea what the computing landscape will look like in 10 or 20 years time but it'd be nice to be able to play today's games on whatever hardware I own at the time without having to dust off the PS4 or whatever.

360 and PS3 emulators. (1)

Hatta (162192) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640207)

I'd rather see people working on emulating the last generations consoles. Or the one before that even. The PS2 has one emulator, PCSX2, which is about 80% compatible. The original Xbox has no currently developed emulators.

There's no shortage of ways to play old 8bit and 16bit games. There is a shortage of ways to play last generation games. When our 360s and PS3s finally give up in 5 to 10 years, there's a large number of games that simply won't be playable anymore.

Re:360 and PS3 emulators. (4, Informative)

H3lldr0p (40304) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640299)

Since the original Xbox was running mostly off the shelf hardware, I'm not sure it needs an emulator (aside from whatever security/copy protection hardware).

But the 360/PS3 is going to be tough. Tougher than average, I'd say since those were both custom CPUs. Yes, there is some papers out there covering how they did their execution but that doesn't cover some of the weird stuff. Stuff like with the PS2 and original PS that took years to sort out.

Those of you who don't remember the Bleem! saga and the fact that Sony not only lawsuited them to death, but also make emulation even harder by changing the way their compilers did certain undocumented graphic blits and other memory tricks. This was why Bleem! had a specific target list of compatible games.

Still not sure that all of that was documented.

Bad memories.

Re:360 and PS3 emulators. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640421)

Since the original Xbox was running mostly off the shelf hardware, I'm not sure it needs an emulator (aside from whatever security/copy protection hardware).

The original Xbox has the same problem as the new Xbox, and the newer Xbox. They all run Windows. The OS was derived from Windows 2000 and then carried forward from Xbox to Xbox, presumably receiving regular infusions from the Windows codebase along the way. This is [again, presumably] analogous to the way that various Unixes received regular infusions of code while maintaining their old code, whether from SysV or BSD.

Or, you know, Microsoft broadly lied about the way the Xbox OS was developed, and they actually just developed a software stack that would run against the NT kernel, and ported that to the Xboxes wholesale. Who knows? I don't have any real problem believing the official account.

But the 360/PS3 is going to be tough. Tougher than average, I'd say since those were both custom CPUs.

Not necessarily any harder than the PS2 anyway. The PS2 has a custom CPU built out of MIPS cores, and the PS3 has a custom CPU built out of a PowerPC and some Cell cores, while the 360 has a custom CPU built out of PowerPC cores. The PS2's CPU is arguably more wacky than anything in the following generation, because it has one MIPS core up front, and then two MIPS cores based on the same architecture but then whacked to do totally different jobs and taking totally different data types (as well as some of the same ones.)

Re:360 and PS3 emulators. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640653)

"The original Xbox has the same problem as the new Xbox, and the newer Xbox. They all run Windows. The OS was derived from Windows 2000 and then carried forward from Xbox to Xbox, presumably receiving regular infusions from the Windows codebase along the way. "

The XboxOne may. Microsoft has said so. But the others? No, they really don't. .http://blogs.msdn.com/b/xboxteam/archive/2006/02/17/534421.aspx http://beta.ivc.no/wiki/index.php/Xbox_360_Kernel

The only consoles that have run a windows kernel are the XboxOne and the Dreamcast.

Re:360 and PS3 emulators. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640721)

In my (admittedly layman's) understanding, the difficulty with the XB360/PS3 isn't so much that their cores are all that cryptic (the xbox, and the PS3's main core, are all basic PPCs, and the PS3's 'SPE' elements are weird; but IBM talked a lot about them in the course of trying to build interest in using them as accelerator cards for compute applications); but because they aren't x86; but are clocked as high as contemporary x86s, which makes it difficult to get emulation at anything remotely resembling usable speed, much less support anything that does some fancy timing-dependent tricks.

Re:360 and PS3 emulators. (1)

neokushan (932374) | 1 year,12 days | (#45641123)

The original Xbox has the same problem as the new Xbox, and the newer Xbox. They all run Windows. The OS was derived from Windows 2000 and then carried forward from Xbox to Xbox, presumably receiving regular infusions from the Windows codebase along the way.


One of the first questions I get when someone hears I work on Xbox is "So, what operating system do you guys use? Windows 2000, right?" I am honestly not sure where the Win2K misperception comes from, but Xbox runs a custom operating system built from the ground up.

That said, I'm sure the Xbone is closer to Windows than the 360's OS was.

Re:360 and PS3 emulators. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640383)

What is mostly holding back emulation is size of roms. You can get a complete 1995 and under console set in under 10 gig. Complete PS2 collection? You better have a 1TB drive. Toss in something like the saturn add in another drive. The xbox collection would be massive as well.

Also the original XBox while a semi cool system did not have very many good games outside of the halos that the ps2 didnt also have. So to get an emulator you need an intersection of someone who can code it up and actually likes the system. You also need someone who can put up with this... You have the infighting of the emu scene guys who stalk their territory like a wolf and 10 gallons of urine. Then on top of that you have warez kiddies who just want to play some particular game you do not care about at all and stalk you around until it works. Then you have the 'I thought of this idea' guys who come in and toss in every crazy idea to get 1fps better. Never mind it is a full rewrite of the code to make it work and then would only help out 1 game. Oh and dont lose your cool while doing it. Oh and dont burn out after 1-2 years of little or no progress because of some crazy DRM protection scheme.

Re:360 and PS3 emulators. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640709)

Just for your advancement in knowledge, the 99% complete collection of Sega Saturn (missing 3 demo discs of the entire library) is only ~80 GB in compressed iso's.

Re:360 and PS3 emulators. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640411)

The PS2 has 3 major emulators. There's ePSXe which everyone tries to use now. PCSX2 that everyone used. And pSX (if you're looking for pure no-frills emulation but higher compatibility).

The PS2 emulation scene is about where the SNES scene was about 12 years ago. Now it's just a matter of refinement. I agree that a working xbox emulator would be quite nice, but the PS2 is not limited on the emulator front. The N64 emulation scene needs a crapload of work. You try playing much more than SM64, Zelda, or Mario Kart you're going to be in for a rude awakening. If it were a wine project, some generous ubuntu user might classify any of the N64 emulators as Bronze. And that's the best you can hope for. There's finally 2 dreamcast emulators, but the support needs to go up. Right now you're at the stage of "If it doesn't work on this one try the other, otherwise wait and hope." And there are even recent DC games that can't even be ripped. 3DO emulation has one emulator. And nobody has tried the library enough to even know where the support stops, where things are broken, or anything. There's one Saturn emulator. etc. etc. And as a MegaDrive purist (Genesis) both options for emulation are rather shit for sound and some graphic layer emulation.

The old problems aren't 'solved' as your statement seems to suggest. Not that other people can't work on this idea (which is easier on paper. Much harder in practice). But you don't have the advantage of hardware power to brute force more recent gen systems on modern systems. Just look at the processing power required for the Higan Accurate (if you can even run it) profile for Super Mario World. Then come back and tell me that the Xbox360 should be a snap.

Re:360 and PS3 emulators. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640723)

And there are even recent DC games that can't even be ripped.

This seems rather unlikely, maybe they've employed tricks to prevent reading with hacked PC drives but the first ripper worked by dumping from the Dreamcast itself with a boot disc over serial. Surely that old technique must still work or the game wouldn't be playable.

Re:360 and PS3 emulators. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640873)

It's true. The DC library is far from complete. And there's games like Sturmwind that currently have DRM that hasn't been cracked yet (and thus can't be ripped). There's quite a few titles that employ some DRM like Sturmwind does (I'm sorry I can't think of the other title names at the moment. But there's a few of them.)

Re:360 and PS3 emulators. (2)

Narishma (822073) | 1 year,12 days | (#45641079)

pSX and ePSXe (and PCSX and many others) are PS1 emulators, not PS2.
The only working PS2 emulator I know of is PCSX2.

Those games were cool in context (2, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640221)

Zelda was cool when you were 10 BECAUSE you were 10.
Move on.

Re:Those games were cool in context (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640447)

Sorry if it annoys you that I still enjoy Zelda, but I'm not sure what you expect me to do about it.

Re:Those games were cool in context (1)

aliquis (678370) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640457)

Yeah. Play some Castlevania and maybe one day you can beat Mega man!

Re:Those games were cool in context (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45641045)

Every time I hear these tones: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AftI5Iz1dCA [youtube.com] I immediately hear in my head the voice of my brother screaming "FUUUUUUUCK!!" Conditioning is a weird thing, sometimes.

Re:Those games were cool in context (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640531)

I completed Ocarina Of Time when I was 25.
It is still an amazing game and entertained me for hours and hours on end.
In my opinion it is better than the Modern Warfare series despite that being targeted more towards my demographic.

Re:Those games were cool in context (1)

VIPERsssss (907375) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640575)

This is only my opinion, but Devil's Crush my killer app for the Wii.
$5 download, and I play it at least as much as I ever did on the TurboGrafx-16

A good game is a good game.

Re:Those games were cool in context (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45641191)

I like how you seem to imply these manchildren stuck in a loop of playing repetitive games are both pathetic and unmarketable. And then out comes Battlefield Call of War Duty Army War Winter 2013 edition...

Legally questionable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640223)

It's not questionable, it's illegal. Ask the copyright holders. No, not making it available doesn't make it questionable.

Re:Legally questionable? (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640377)

It's not questionable, it's illegal. Ask the copyright holders.

If a individual has a question about legality, I'd say the first person they ask should probably be a lawyer or a judge, not some private business entity with a vested interest in giving a particular answer.

Re:Legally questionable? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640381)

The copyright holders of the emulator would be the authors of the emulator. Now if they used original code instead of a clean-room reimplementation, they'd certainly be in trouble, but if they manage to do a clean-room implementation, the legality isn't as clear-cut. Note that they do not need to implement the DRM functionality because they have no reason to prevent games from running, so they wouldn't have to fear anything from that side. Problems might arise from software patents, of course.

The questionable part might be that if the games come with an EULA that they may only be played on the original console, then those writing the emulator might be accused of contributory infringement because they create software (namely the emulator) which enables people to violate that EULA.

And if the companies make it available themselves? (4, Informative)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640543)

Greg Hewgill created "Copilot" by reverse-engineering the original Palm Pilot, and released it under the GPL. It was so useful as a development and debugging tool, Palm Inc. took over development and renamed it POSE, the Palm OS Emulator [wikipedia.org] . Still, of course, available under the GPL.

(Because of all that, I was able to port POSE to Android [perpendox.com] .)

Admittedly, the ROM images are copyrighted, but that's not the same thing as the emulator itself. Same thing for the game machine emulators like MAME and such.

Legal? (1)

bondsbw (888959) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640241)

But several significant obstacles stand in the way of developers already taking a crack at it, including console builders' absolute refusal to see emulation as even remotely legal.

Well that's not surprising. The battle isn't to win the hearts of Microsoft and Sony. The battle is to win rights from the governments that enforce these restrictions.

The good, the bad, and the ugly... (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640259)

On the plus side, emulating an AMD x86 and GPU is likely to be considerably easier (especially since AMD's current or near-future PC parts are likely to be extremely similar in most respects, though you will probably have to go up a few speed grades to deal with the emulator running on top of a full OS) than emulating either the relatively fast PPCs of the previous generation (PPC-on-x86 is done; but doing that really fast is another story) or the slow-but-somewhat-esoteric-and-absolutely-every-oddity-was-used-and-abused architectures of the older consoles.

On the minus side, the odds are good that both new consoles (especially the Xbox, given MS's software side; but probably the PS as well) contain a lot of software that, while not integral to the tightly-optimized-graphics-twiddling aspects of the games, will probably have to be given a fairly precise "WINE-like" treatment to avoid breaking things all over the place. Not necessarily impossible (as WINE itself demonstrates); but definitely a different game than the 'emulate the hardware and let the ROM do as it will' emulators that work for older consoles.

On the very minus side, it would not be out of character for either MS or Sony to have added some nasty copy-protection-related cryptographic goodies that will be very hard to emulate. MS, given their PC background, might well have gone for a TPM. Architecturally, emulating one of those would be cake by the standards of what the emulation scene has taken on, except for minor matters like the endorsement key. A TPM emulator that emulates a TPM loaded with the 2048-bit RSA private key of your choice? Sure, no problem. The correct private keys? That might be an issue.

Re:The good, the bad, and the ugly... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640571)

I'm not really a gamer but aren't most of the Top games already written on existing game engines that have been ported to desktop even if a particular game hasn't? How hard would it be to modify the game engine to allow stripped resource files from a console game to be run on the desktop? Would it be more or less difficult to modify all the popular game engines than create an emulator?

Re:The good, the bad, and the ugly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45641197)

Well, there's already one emulator at least that behaves like that. ScummVM runs the game scripts from a load of old point and click adventure games. You could do this and write your own 'EA Sports Games VM", but it would probably be more work reverse engineering ask the logic than went into writing it in the first place

Maybe, maybe not... (1)

jones_supa (887896) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640287)

Despite the hardware platform being x86-64, there is probably a ton of hoops to jump through to discover precisely how the hardware works and to crack the protections. Systems are so complex these days that a loosely-knit group of unpaid hackers might not be able to make a strong result anymore.

How about building emulators for... (0)

Assmasher (456699) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640369)

...the PS3 and the XBox 360 for the PS4 and XBox One respectively?

Lack of backwards compatibility in this day and age is pretty lame.

I'm aware of the testing issues involved, and frankly I think if you provided a backwards compatibility platform that was extensible by the game companies themselves (i.e. they could patch the game to run inside the VM without Micro$oft or $ony being involved) at least you'd make things better...

Re:How about building emulators for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640513)

It's unlikely the PS4 and Xbone are fast enough to emulate the PS3 and 360. PPC on x86 with any degree of accuracy would require a significant bit of overhead, and unfortunately a 3.2ghz PPC in real time is going to require it's emulation host to be able to do several instructions for each PPC operation.

Re:How about building emulators for... (3, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640529)

While some might think it is a grand conspiracy by Sony and MS not to have backwards compatibility, it really is a question of cost. Xbox 360 and PS3 had much different chip architecture than x86. It is possible that Sony and MS could have developed adequate chips, but it would have been top of the line CPUs. That would add significant cost to the console possibly adding $100-150 to the base model. Also the chips would have required much more cooling than the current designs.

How Sony and MS did it in the last generation was not rocket science. Those chips were significantly better than the previous generation as chips in general were following Moore's Law. These days, significant performance gains are not without a great deal of cost.

Microsoft should of been smart (1)

PortHaven (242123) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640389)

It should of created a $99 ad-on, that would allow the Xbox One to play 360 games. Essentially, all it would be is an Xbox 360 processing core, which would use the already available hard drive, controllers, I/O, and Kinect 2.

I'd wager it'd sell like hot cakes, and be profitable. Because the entire Xbox 360 is now what $150-$200? Minus case, controllers, hard drive, all output components, they should of been able to pull it off.

Re:Microsoft should of been smart (1)

jratcliffe (208809) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640415)

1. Interesting point. Makes sense to me. 2. Should HAVE! Should HAVE! Should HAVE!

Re:Microsoft should of been smart (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640455)

should HAVE becomes SHOULD'VE


should OF

Yes they sound similar, but they are not the same.

Re:Microsoft should of been smart (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640681)

fuk u gramer notzi

Re:Microsoft should of been smart (1)

realmolo (574068) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640605)

Nobody cares about backwards-compatibility.

Why do you think both Sony and MS gave up on it a few years ago? It adds cost to the system, and it doesn't increase sales. A $99 add-on? Hardly anyone would buy it. Sony and MS aren't stupid- if backwards-compatibility was something that would help them sell more systems and/or games and make more money, they would include it. But it doesn't, because hardly anyone wants to play old games. And those that DO want to play the old games play them on the OLD CONSOLE!

Re:Microsoft should of been smart (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640849)

I think they would have had to at least added an I/O expansion port or something. You'd need something that would do a direct passthrough to the HDMI output (even the HDMI in with a 360 (supposedly, haven't tried) produces lag). It wouldn't just be a single USB 3.0 connection - you'd also need power. The box would have to have most of the 360 hardware, and would be pretty sizable to not melt with current tech. But the $99 price point seems realistic, and, agreed, would probably sell ok especially at launch where there aren't a lot of titles. I guess if you play a lot of kinect stuff using the new hardware would be good. But other than that having second controller/box under the TV doesn't seem like that big a hassle. For me the biggest deal would be some kind of way to install the disc to avoid disc swapping. I really don't want to have a selection of green boxes somewhere nearby with this generation, so I'm buying online only. If there was a method to send in your discs for download credit so you'd never have to swap again that'd be pretty cool.

It'll come. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640399)

But how long did it take to build a working Xbox emulator?

The hardest part will be breaking the encryption (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640417)

Games, both downloaded and on optical media, are likely to be encrypted eight ways to Sunday on modern systems. Before you can even begin to emulate games from a modern console, you need the unencrypted binaries, or you need to resign yourself to running community-developed homebrew. This means extracting the console key from a console, which is not likely to be a trivial matter.

Re:The hardest part will be breaking the encryptio (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640609)

Games will be the hardest thing about emulation. While I don't doubt that emulating the hardware can eventually be done, getting the games will be harder. Also, legally, emulating hardware could fall under exceptions like reverse engineering whereas copyright law would make games harder.

#badbios - probing for deeper looks at (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640429)

@Clive Robinson

A lot of people are wondering why dragosr was the only one to run across this malware. In fact, he wasn't. The people who were before him were mocked and most threads closed and either deleted or shuffled to areas of message boards where Joe Q public couldn't see it and question this for themselves. [some] Major Anti-Virus companies included.

Users didn't want to know, companies didn't want to know. Unless you were "known" in the field, like dragosr, and even then, you are handled like you may be retarded or just need a vacation.

Here is one of dozens of reports:

LCD Monitor Broadcasts Noise To Radio! Why? (FRS)
http://forums.radioreference.com/computer/255488-lcd-monitor-broadcasts-noise-radio-why.html [radioreference.com]

Final post in that thread:

"BOTTOM LINE: No matter WHAT you do, all devices that use electricity will emit some sort of interference in the air and there's nothing you can do about it without unplugging/turning it off. "


"Have you noticed any nondescript white vans or black helicopters in your neighborhood?

What do you do or have you done to make "them" take such an interest in you that "they" have to bug you?

You need a bigger tinfoil hat, perhaps a full body suit."

Another thread:

Gpu based paravirtualization rootkit, all os vulne

http://forum.sysinternals.com/gpu-based-paravirtualization-rootkit-all-os-vulne_topic26706.html [sysinternals.com]


U.N. report reveals secret law enforcement techniques

"Point 201: Mentions a new covert communications technique using software defined high frequency radio receivers routed through the computer creating no logs, using no central server and extremely difficult for law enforcement to intercept."

http://www.unodc.org/documents/frontpage/Use_of_Internet_for_Terrorist_Purposes.pdf [unodc.org]

http://www.hacker10.com/other-computing/u-n-report-reveals-secret-law-enforcement-techniques/ [hacker10.com]

I think this is something which has been brewing for years, but "forces" beyond our sight have managed to stifle any serious investigation into the technology. Some have announced they are retreating to ancient technology of the 70's and 80's, others are looking towards open source hardware and software combinations.

Is it time Wireshark included audio monitoring as well? Off to play with a recording device and Audacity.

https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2013/11/friday_squid_bl_402.html#c2751193 [schneier.com]


Scientist-developed malware prototype covertly jumps air gaps using inaudible sound
Malware communicates at a distance of 65 feet using built-in mics and speakers.

by Dan Goodin - Dec 2, 2013 7:29 pm UTC

http://arstechnica.com/author/dan-goodin [arstechnica.com]
https://twitter.com/dangoodin001 [twitter.com]

"Dan is the IT Security Editor at Ars Technica, which he joined in 2012 after working for The Register, the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, and other publications."

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/ [arstechnica.com]

Topology of a covert mesh network that connects air-gapped computers to the Internet:

http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/acoustical-mesh-network.jpg [arstechnica.net]

http://www.jocm.us/index.php?m=content&c=index&a=show&catid=124&id=600 [www.jocm.us]

"Computer scientists have proposed a malware prototype that uses inaudible audio signals to communicate, a capability that allows the malware to covertly transmit keystrokes and other sensitive data even when infected machines have no network connection.

The proof-of-concept software-or malicious trojans that adopt the same high-frequency communication methods-could prove especially adept in penetrating highly sensitive environments that routinely place an "air gap" between computers and the outside world. Using nothing more than the built-in microphones and speakers of standard computers, the researchers were able to transmit passwords and other small amounts of data from distances of almost 65 feet. The software can transfer data at much greater distances by employing an acoustical mesh network made up of attacker-controlled devices that repeat the audio signals.

The researchers, from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing, and Ergonomics[1], recently disclosed their findings in a paper published in the Journal of Communications[2]. It came a few weeks after a security researcher said his computers were infected with a mysterious piece of malware that used high-frequency transmissions to jump air gaps[3]. The new research neither confirms nor disproves Dragos Ruiu's claims of the so-called badBIOS infections, but it does show that high-frequency networking is easily within the grasp of today's malware."

[1] http://www.fkie.fraunhofer.de/en.html [fraunhofer.de]
[2] http://www.jocm.us/index.php?m=content&c=index&a=show&catid=124&id=600 [www.jocm.us]
[3] http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/10/meet-badbios-the-mysterious-mac-and-pc-malware-that-jumps-airgaps/ [arstechnica.com]

""In our article, we describe how the complete concept of air gaps can be considered obsolete as commonly available laptops can communicate over their internal speakers and microphones and even form a covert acoustical mesh network," one of the authors, Michael Hanspach, wrote in an e-mail. "Over this covert network, information can travel over multiple hops of infected nodes, connecting completely isolated computing systems and networks (e.g. the internet) to each other. We also propose some countermeasures against participation in a covert network."

The researchers developed several ways to use inaudible sounds to transmit data between two Lenovo T400 laptops using only their built-in microphones and speakers. The most effective technique relied on software originally developed to acoustically transmit data under water. Created by the Research Department for Underwater Acoustics and Geophysics in Germany, the so-called adaptive communication system (ACS) modem was able to transmit data between laptops as much as 19.7 meters (64.6 feet) apart. By chaining additional devices that pick up the signal and repeat it to other nearby devices, the mesh network can overcome much greater distances.

The ACS modem provided better reliability than other techniques that were also able to use only the laptops' speakers and microphones to communicate. Still, it came with one significant drawback-a transmission rate of about 20 bits per second, a tiny fraction of standard network connections. The paltry bandwidth forecloses the ability of transmitting video or any other kinds of data with large file sizes. The researchers said attackers could overcome that shortcoming by equipping the trojan with functions that transmit only certain types of data, such as login credentials captured from a keylogger or a memory dumper.

"This small bandwidth might actually be enough to transfer critical information (such as keystrokes)," Hanspach wrote. "You don't even have to think about all keystrokes. If you have a keylogger that is able to recognize authentication materials, it may only occasionally forward these detected passwords over the network, leading to a very stealthy state of the network. And you could forward any small-sized information such as private encryption keys or maybe malicious commands to an infected piece of construction."
Remember Flame?

The hurdles of implementing covert acoustical networking are high enough that few malware developers are likely to add it to their offerings anytime soon. Still, the requirements are modest when measured against the capabilities of Stuxnet, Flame, and other state-sponsored malware discovered in the past 18 months. And that means that engineers in military organizations, nuclear power plants, and other truly high-security environments should no longer assume that computers isolated from an Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection are off limits.

The research paper suggests several countermeasures that potential targets can adopt. One approach is simply switching off audio input and output devices, although few hardware designs available today make this most obvious countermeasure easy. A second approach is to employ audio filtering that blocks high-frequency ranges used to covertly transmit data. Devices running Linux can do this by using the advanced Linux Sound Architecture in combination with the Linux Audio Developer's Simple Plugin API. Similar approaches are probably available for Windows and Mac OS X computers as well. The researchers also proposed the use of an audio intrusion detection guard, a device that would "forward audio input and output signals to their destination and simultaneously store them inside the guard's internal state, where they are subject to further analyses."


On Wednesday Hanspach issued the following statement:

        Fraunhofer FKIE is actively involved in information security research. Our mission is to strengthen security by the means of early detection and prevention of potential threats. The research on acoustical mesh networks in air was aimed at demonstrating the upcoming threat of covert communication technologies. Fraunhofer FKIE does not develop any malware or viruses and the presented proof-of-concept does not spread to other computing systems, but constitutes only a covert communication channel between hypothetical instantiations of a malware. The ultimate goal of the presented research project is to raise awareness for these kinds of attacks, and to deliver appropriate countermeasures to our customers.

Story updated to add "prototype" to the first sentence and headline and to change "developed" to "proposed," in the first sentence. The changes are intended to make clear the researchers have not created a piece of working malware."

RE: #badBIOS, badBIOS, bad BIOS

Some User Comments:

"What makes so many people here think that getting a computer first infected is such an impossible task?

Who is to To say computers don't come pre-configured with that ability in hardware, say the CPU? We know that the NSA has altered silicon in the "distant" past and if there is anything recent revelations have taught us then it is that things have only ever become technically more advanced and aggressive in the last ten years or so.

Remember: just because you're not paranoid doesn't mean they are not out to get you....Australia being happy to share medical records of its ordinary citizens being a prime example of that in today's press."

Amadeus71 Smack-Fu Master, in traininget Subscriptor

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/?comments=1&post=25785017#comment-25785017 [arstechnica.com]


"This was controversial at the time Dragos Ruiu brought it up. My guess was that it was possible, I'm glad to see someone actually put in the hard work to find out! Good job Fraunhofer."

MujokanArs Praetorian

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/?comments=1&post=25785087#comment-25785087 [arstechnica.com]


"Human hearing also gets worse at high frequencies before cutting out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal-loudness_contour [wikipedia.org]

Several years ago, I had a neighbor with an old-fangled CRT TV. I couldn't hear its 15.9kHz squeal from my apartment, but it did show up clearly in spectral graphs of recordings I made while it was on. It's not hard to imagine something using audio band frequencies at volumes low enough to escape audibility but still able to be picked up by nearby microphones."

LnxPrgr3 Smack-Fu Master, in training

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/?comments=1&post=25785217#comment-25785217 [arstechnica.com]

"The signal can be hidden in fully audible sounds, so that wouldn't help much. As other commenters have alluded, using spread-spectrum techniques, a signal can be hidden in a way that looks like just part of the ambient noise environment, at many different frequencies, perhaps both at the same time and in a time-varying distribution. For example, if there is a fan (perhaps a notebook fan) going in the environment, that can be measured, and information could be encoded in a slight deformation of that sound signature, in a way that no one would notice. Or if someone is speaking, tiny undetectable side-frequencies could be added in a way that sounds like part of their voice, but isn't really. Or if you use a random spread-spectrum approach, it could just sound like a slight bit of white noise in the background, a little hiss, that mingles with all the noise around you.

Be afraid. In cyberspace, all microphones can hear you scream."

AreWeThereYeti Ars Scholae Palatinaeet Subscriptor

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/?comments=1&post=25785535#comment-25785535 [arstechnica.com]
"If you're breaking your laptop open to put a capacitor across your speaker why not cut the wires or put a mechanical switch in instead?"

Wickwick Ars Scholae Palatinae

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/?comments=1&post=25786631#comment-25786631 [arstechnica.com]

"Personally I would physically disable every mic and speaker on these air-gapped computers, juts in case."

blacke Ars Praetorianet Subscriptor

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/?comments=1&post=25789071#comment-25789071 [arstechnica.com]

"I wonder if you couldn't just cut off a jack from some old headphones, and keep it plugged in as a countermeasure..."

zantoka Smack-Fu Master, in training

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/?comments=1&post=25791713#comment-25791713 [arstechnica.com]

"NorthGuy wrote:
My florescent light has been buzzing for weeks, do you think it's trying to hack my computer?"


http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21128225.400-will-lifi-be-the-new-wifi.html [newscientist.com]

Jimmy McNulty Smack-Fu Master, in training

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/?comments=1&post=25792319#comment-25792319 [arstechnica.com]

"are the sounds in their [mainstream] music transmitting data to invaded brains?"

DaHum Smack-Fu Master, in training

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/?comments=1&post=25799877#comment-25799877 [arstechnica.com]


The New Zealand Copyright Act 1994 specifies certain circumstances where all or a substantial part of a copyright work may be used without the copyright owner's permission. A "fair dealing" with copyright material does not infringe copyright if it is for the following purposes: research or private study; criticism or review; or reporting current events.


            Related Story:

Researchers create malware that communicates via silent sound, no network needed

"When security researcher Dragos Ruiu claimed malware dubbed "badBIOS"[1] allowed infected machines to communicate using sound waves alone-no network connection needed-people said he was crazy. New research from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing, and Ergonomics suggests he's all too sane.

As outlined in the Journal of Communications (PDF)[2] and first spotted by ArsTechnica[3], the proof-of-concept malware prototype from Michael Hanspach and Michael Goetz can transmit information between computers using high-frequency sound waves inaudible to the human ear. The duo successfully sent passwords and more between non-networked Lenovo T400 laptops via the notebooks' built-in microphones and speakers. Freaky-deaky!

"The infected victim sends all recorded keystrokes to the covert acoustical mesh network. Infected drones forward the keystroke information inside the covert network till the attacker is reached."

The most successful method was based on software developed for underwater communications. The laptops could communicate a full 65 feet apart from each other, and the researchers say the range could be extended by chaining devices together in an audio "mesh" network, similar to the way Wi-Fi repeaters work.

While the research doesn't prove Ruiu's badBIOS claims, it does show that the so-called "air gap" defense-that is, leaving computers with critical information disconnected from any networks-could still be vulnerable to dedicated attackers, if attackers are first able to infect the PC with audio mesh-enabled malware."

[1] http://www.pcworld.com/article/2060360/security-researcher-says-new-malware-can-affect-your-bios-be-transmitted-via-the-air.html [pcworld.com]
[2] http://www.jocm.us/uploadfile/2013/1125/20131125103803901.pdf [www.jocm.us]
[3] http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/ [arstechnica.com]


Sending data via sound

http://images.techhive.com/images/article/2013/12/air-gap-keystrokes-100154940-orig.png [techhive.com]


"Transmitting data via sound waves has one glaring drawback, however: It's slow. Terribly slow. Hanspach and Goetz's malware topped out at a sluggish 20 bits-per-second transfer rate, but that was still fast enough to transmit keystrokes, passwords, PGP encryption keys, and other small bursts of information.

"We use the keylogging software logkeys for our experiment," they wrote. "The infected victim sends all recorded keystrokes to the covert acoustical mesh network. Infected drones forward the keystroke information inside the covert network till the attacker is reached, who is now able to read the current keyboard input of the infected victim from a distant place."

In another test, the researchers used sound waves to send keystroke information to a network-connected computer, which then sent the information to the "attacker" via email.

Now for the good news: This advanced proof-of-concept prototype isn't likely to work its way into everyday malware anytime soon, especially since badware that communicates via normal Net means should be all that's needed to infect the PCs of most users. Nevertheless, it's ominous to see the last-line "air gap" defense fall prey to attack-especially in an age of state-sponsored malware run rampant."


The New Zealand Copyright Act 1994 specifies certain circumstances where all or a substantial part of a copyright work may be used without the copyright owner's permission. A "fair dealing" with copyright material does not infringe copyright if it is for the following purposes: research or private study; criticism or review; or reporting current events.



Re: #badbios - probing for deeper looks at (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640601)

Does your newsletter contain tips for setting up a HOSTS file? If so, please accept my subscription to your periodical.

Mind Games (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640445)

Mind Games

        New on the Internet: a community of people who believe the government is beaming voices into their minds. They may be crazy, but the Pentagon has pursued a weapon that can do just that.

        By Sharon Weinberger
        Sunday, January 14, 2007

        IF HARLAN GIRARD IS CRAZY, HE DOESN'T ACT THE PART. He is standing just where he said he would be, below the Philadelphia train station's World War II memorial -- a soaring statue of a winged angel embracing a fallen combatant, as if lifting him to heaven. Girard is wearing pressed khaki pants, expensive-looking leather loafers and a crisp blue button-down. He looks like a local businessman dressed for a casual Friday -- a local businessman with a wickedly dark sense of humor, which had become apparent when he said to look for him beneath "the angel sodomizing a dead soldier." At 70, he appears robust and healthy -- not the slightest bit disheveled or unusual-looking. He is also carrying a bag.

        Girard's description of himself is matter-of-fact, until he explains what's in the bag: documents he believes prove that the government is attempting to control his mind. He carries that black, weathered bag everywhere he goes. "Every time I go out, I'm prepared to come home and find everything is stolen," he says.

        The bag aside, Girard appears intelligent and coherent. At a table in front of Dunkin' Donuts inside the train station, Girard opens the bag and pulls out a thick stack of documents, carefully labeled and sorted with yellow sticky notes bearing neat block print. The documents are an authentic-looking mix of news stories, articles culled from military journals and even some declassified national security documents that do seem to show that the U.S. government has attempted to develop weapons that send voices into people's heads.

        "It's undeniable that the technology exists," Girard says, "but if you go to the police and say, 'I'm hearing voices,' they're going to lock you up for psychiatric evaluation."

        The thing that's missing from his bag -- the lack of which makes it hard to prove he isn't crazy -- is even a single document that would buttress the implausible notion that the government is currently targeting a large group of American citizens with mind-control technology. The only direct evidence for that, Girard admits, lies with alleged victims such as himself.

        And of those, there are many.

        IT'S 9:01 P.M. WHEN THE FIRST PERSON SPEAKS during the Saturday conference call.

        Unsure whether anyone else is on the line yet, the female caller throws out the first question: "You got gang stalking or V2K?" she asks no one in particular.

        There's a short, uncomfortable pause.

        "V2K, really bad. 24-7," a man replies.

        "Gang stalking," another woman says.

        "Oh, yeah, join the club," yet another man replies.

        The members of this confessional "club" are not your usual victims. This isn't a group for alcoholics, drug addicts or survivors of childhood abuse; the people connecting on the call are self-described victims of mind control -- people who believe they have been targeted by a secret government program that tracks them around the clock, using technology to probe and control their minds.

        The callers frequently refer to themselves as TIs, which is short for Targeted Individuals, and talk about V2K -- the official military abbreviation stands for "voice to skull" and denotes weapons that beam voices or sounds into the head. In their esoteric lexicon, "gang stalking" refers to the belief that they are being followed and harassed: by neighbors, strangers or colleagues who are agents for the government.

        A few more "hellos" are exchanged, interrupted by beeps signaling late arrivals: Bill from Columbus, Barbara from Philadelphia, Jim from California and a dozen or so others.

        Derrick Robinson, the conference call moderator, calls order.

        "It's five after 9," says Robinson, with the sweetly reasonable intonation of a late-night radio host. "Maybe we should go ahead and start."

        THE IDEA OF A GROUP OF PEOPLE CONVINCED THEY ARE TARGETED BY WEAPONS that can invade their minds has become a cultural joke, shorthanded by the image of solitary lunatics wearing tinfoil hats to deflect invisible mind beams. "Tinfoil hat," says Wikipedia, has become "a popular stereotype and term of derision; the phrase serves as a byword for paranoia and is associated with conspiracy theorists."

        In 2005, a group of MIT students conducted a formal study using aluminum foil and radio signals. Their surprising finding: Tinfoil hats may actually amplify radio frequency signals. Of course, the tech students meant the study as a joke.

        But during the Saturday conference call, the subject of aluminum foil is deadly serious. The MIT study had prompted renewed debate; while a few TIs realized it was a joke at their expense, some saw the findings as an explanation for why tinfoil didn't seem to stop the voices. Others vouched for the material.

        "Tinfoil helps tremendously," reports one conference call participant, who describes wrapping it around her body underneath her clothing.

        "Where do you put the tinfoil?" a man asks.

        "Anywhere, everywhere," she replies. "I even put it in a hat."

        A TI in an online mind-control forum recommends a Web site called "Block EMF" (as in electromagnetic frequencies), which advertises a full line of clothing, including aluminum-lined boxer shorts described as a "sheer, comfortable undergarment you can wear over your regular one to shield yourself from power lines and computer electric fields, and microwave, radar, and TV radiation." Similarly, a tinfoil hat disguised as a regular baseball cap is "smart and subtle."

        For all the scorn, the ranks of victims -- or people who believe they are victims -- are speaking up. In the course of the evening, there are as many as 40 clicks from people joining the call, and much larger numbers participate in the online forum, which has 143 members. A note there mentioning interest from a journalist prompted more than 200 e-mail responses.

        Until recently, people who believe the government is beaming voices into their heads would have added social isolation to their catalogue of woes. But now, many have discovered hundreds, possibly thousands, of others just like them all over the world. Web sites dedicated to electronic harassment and gang stalking have popped up in India, China, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Russia and elsewhere. Victims have begun to host support meetings in major cities, including Washington. Favorite topics at the meetings include lessons on how to build shields (the proverbial tinfoil hats), media and PR training, and possible legal strategies for outlawing mind control.

        The biggest hurdle for TIs is getting people to take their concerns seriously. A proposal made in 2001 by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) to ban "psychotronic weapons" (another common term for mind-control technology) was hailed by TIs as a great step forward. But the bill was widely derided by bloggers and columnists and quickly dropped.

        Doug Gordon, Kucinich's spokesman, would not discuss mind control other than to say the proposal was part of broader legislation outlawing weapons in space. The bill was later reintroduced, minus the mind control. "It was not the concentration of the legislation, which is why it was tightened up and redrafted," was all Gordon would say.

        Unable to garner much support from their elected representatives, TIs have started their own PR campaign. And so, last spring, the Saturday conference calls centered on plans to hold a rally in Washington. A 2005 attempt at a rally drew a few dozen people and was ultimately rained out; the TIs were determined to make another go of it. Conversations focused around designing T-shirts, setting up congressional appointments, fundraising, creating a new Web site and formalizing a slogan. After some debate over whether to focus on gang stalking or mind control, the group came up with a compromise slogan that covered both: "Freedom From Covert Surveillance and Electronic Harassment."

        Conference call moderator Robinson, who says his gang stalking began when he worked at the National Security Agency in the 1980s, offers his assessment of the group's prospects: Maybe this rally wouldn't produce much press, but it's a first step. "I see this as a movement," he says. "We're picking up people all the time."

        HARLAN GIRARD SAYS HIS PROBLEMS BEGAN IN 1983, while he was a real estate developer in Los Angeles. The harassment was subtle at first: One day a woman pulled up in a car, wagged her finger at him, then sped away; he saw people running underneath his window at night; he noticed some of his neighbors seemed to be watching him; he heard someone moving in the crawl space under his apartment at night.

        Girard sought advice from this then-girlfriend, a practicing psychologist, whom he declines to identify. He says she told him, "Nobody can become psychotic in their late 40s." She said he didn't seem to manifest other symptoms of psychotic behavior -- he dressed well, paid his bills -- and, besides his claims of surveillance, which sounded paranoid, he behaved normally. "People who are psychotic are socially isolated," he recalls her saying.

        After a few months, Girard says, the harassment abruptly stopped. But the respite didn't last. In 1984, appropriately enough, things got seriously weird. He'd left his real estate career to return to school at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was studying for a master's degree in landscape architecture. He harbored dreams of designing parks and public spaces. Then, he says, he began to hear voices. Girard could distinguish several different male voices, which came complete with a mental image of how the voices were being generated: from a recording studio, with "four slops sitting around a card table drinking beer," he says.

        The voices were crass but also strangely courteous, addressing him as "Mr. Girard."

        They taunted him. They asked him if he thought he was normal; they suggested he was going crazy. They insulted his classmates: When an overweight student showed up for a field trip in a white raincoat, they said, "Hey, Mr. Girard, doesn't she look like a refrigerator?"

        Six months after the voices began, they had another question for him: "Mr. Girard, Mr. Girard. Why aren't you dead yet?" At first, he recalls, the voices would speak just two or three times a day, but it escalated into a near-constant cacophony, often accompanied by severe pain all over his body -- which Girard now attributes to directed-energy weapons that can shoot invisible beams.

        The voices even suggested how he could figure out what was happening to him. He says they told him to go to the electrical engineering department to "tell them you're writing science fiction and you don't want to write anything inconsistent with physical reality. Then tell them exactly what has happened."

        Girard went and got some rudimentary explanations of how technology could explain some of the things he was describing.

        "Finally, I said: 'Look, I must come to the point, because I need answers. This is happening to me; it's not science fiction.'" They laughed.

        He got the same response from friends, he says. "They regarded me as crazy, which is a humiliating experience."

        When asked why he didn't consult a doctor about the voices and the pain, he says, "I don't dare start talking to people because of the potential stigma of it all. I don't want to be treated differently. Here I was in Philadelphia. Something was going on, I don't know any doctors . . . I know somebody's doing something to me."

        It was a struggle to graduate, he says, but he was determined, and he persevered. In 1988, the same year he finished his degree, his father died, leaving Girard an inheritance large enough that he did not have to work.

        So, instead of becoming a landscape architect, Girard began a full-time investigation of what was happening to him, often traveling to Washington in pursuit of government documents relating to mind control. He put an ad in a magazine seeking other victims. Only a few people responded. But over the years, as he met more and more people like himself, he grew convinced that he was part of what he calls an "electronic concentration camp."

        What he was finding on his research trips also buttressed his belief: Girard learned that in the 1950s, the CIA had drugged unwitting victims with LSD as part of a rogue mind-control experiment called MK-ULTRA. He came across references to the CIA seeking to influence the mind with electromagnetic fields. Then he found references in an academic research book to work that military researchers at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research had done in the 1970s with pulsed microwaves to transmit words that a subject would hear in his head. Elsewhere, he came across references to attempts to use electromagnetic energy, sound waves or microwave beams to cause non-lethal pain to the body. For every symptom he experienced, he believed he found references to a weapon that could cause it.

        How much of the research Girard cites checks out?

        Concerns about microwaves and mind control date to the 1960s, when the U.S. government discovered that its embassy in Moscow was being bombarded by low-level electromagnetic radiation. In 1965, according to declassified Defense Department documents, the Pentagon, at the behest of the White House, launched Project Pandora, top-secret research to explore the behavioral and biological effects of low-level microwaves. For approximately four years, the Pentagon conducted secret research: zapping monkeys; exposing unwitting sailors to microwave radiation; and conducting a host of other unusual experiments (a sub-project of Project Pandora was titled Project Bizarre). The results were mixed, and the program was plagued by disagreements and scientific squabbles. The "Moscow signal," as it was called, was eventually attributed to eavesdropping, not mind control, and Pandora ended in 1970. And with it, the military's research into so-called non-thermal microwave effects seemed to die out, at least in the unclassified realm.

        But there are hints of ongoing research: An academic paper written for the Air Force in the mid-1990s mentions the idea of a weapon that would use sound waves to send words into a person's head. "The signal can be a 'message from God' that can warn the enemy of impending doom, or encourage the enemy to surrender," the author concluded.

        In 2002, the Air Force Research Laboratory patented precisely such a technology: using microwaves to send words into someone's head. That work is frequently cited on mind-control Web sites. Rich Garcia, a spokesman for the research laboratory's directed energy directorate, declined to discuss that patent or current or related research in the field, citing the lab's policy not to comment on its microwave work.

        In response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed for this article, the Air Force released unclassified documents surrounding that 2002 patent -- records that note that the patent was based on human experimentation in October 1994 at the Air Force lab, where scientists were able to transmit phrases into the heads of human subjects, albeit with marginal intelligibility. Research appeared to continue at least through 2002. Where this work has gone since is unclear -- the research laboratory, citing classification, refused to discuss it or release other materials.

        The official U.S. Air Force position is that there are no non-thermal effects of microwaves. Yet Dennis Bushnell, chief scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center, tagged microwave attacks against the human brain as part of future warfare in a 2001 presentation to the National Defense Industrial Association about "Future Strategic Issues."

        "That work is exceedingly sensitive" and unlikely to be reported in any unclassified documents, he says.

        Meanwhile, the military's use of weapons that employ electromagnetic radiation to create pain is well-known, as are some of the limitations of such weapons. In 2001, the Pentagon declassified one element of this research: the Active Denial System, a weapon that uses electromagnetic radiation to heat skin and create an intense burning sensation. So, yes, there is technology designed to beam painful invisible rays at humans, but the weapon seems to fall far short of what could account for many of the TIs' symptoms. While its exact range is classified, Doug Beason, an expert in directed-energy weapons, puts it at about 700 meters, and the beam cannot penetrate a number of materials, such as aluminum. Considering the size of the full-scale weapon, which resembles a satellite dish, and its operational limitations, the ability of the government or anyone else to shoot beams at hundreds of people -- on city streets, into their homes and while they travel in cars and planes -- is beyond improbable.

        But, given the history of America's clandestine research, it's reasonable to assume that if the defense establishment could develop mind-control or long-distance ray weapons, it almost certainly would. And, once developed, the possibility that they might be tested on innocent civilians could not be categorically dismissed.

        Girard, for his part, believes these weapons were not only developed but were also tested on him more than 20 years ago.

        What would the government gain by torturing him? Again, Girard found what he believed to be an explanation, or at least a precedent: During the Cold War, the government conducted radiation experiments on scores of unwitting victims, essentially using them as human guinea pigs. Girard came to believe that he, too, was a walking experiment.

        Not that Girard thinks his selection was totally random: He believes he was targeted because of a disparaging remark he made to a Republican fundraiser about George H.W. Bush in the early 1980s. Later, Girard says, the voices confirmed his suspicion.

        "One night I was going to bed; the usual drivel was going on," he says. "The constant stream of drivel. I was just about to go to bed, and a voice says: 'Mr. Girard, do you know who was in our studio with us? That was George Bush, vice president of the United States.'"

        GIRARD'S STORY, HOWEVER STRANGE, reflects what TIs around the world report: a chance encounter with a government agency or official, followed by surveillance and gang stalking, and then, in many cases, voices, and pain similar to electric shocks. Some in the community have taken it upon themselves to document as many cases as possible. One TI from California conducted about 50 interviews, narrowing the symptoms down to several major areas: "ringing in the ears," "manipulation of body parts," "hearing voices," "piercing sensation on skin," "sinus problems" and "sexual attacks." In fact, the TI continued, "many report the sensation of having their genitalia manipulated."

        Both male and female TIs report a variety of "attacks" to their sexual organs. "My testicles became so sore I could barely walk," Girard says of his early experiences. Others, however, report the attacks in the form of sexual stimulation, including one TI who claims he dropped out of the seminary after constant sexual stimulation by directed-energy weapons. Susan Sayler, a TI in San Diego, says many women among the TIs suffer from attacks to their sexual organs but are often embarrassed to talk about it with outsiders.

        "It's sporadic, you just never know when it will happen," she says. "A lot of the women say it's as soon as you lay down in bed -- that's when you would get hit the worst. It happened to me as I was driving, at odd times."

        What made her think it was an electronic attack and not just in her head? "There was no sexual attraction to a man when it would happen. That's what was wrong. It did not feel like a muscle spasm or whatever," she says. "It's so . . . electronic."

        Gloria Naylor, a renowned African American writer, seems to defy many of the stereotypes of someone who believes in mind control. A winner of the National Book Award, Naylor is best known for her acclaimed novel, The Women of Brewster Place, which described a group of women living in a poor urban neighborhood and was later made into a miniseries by Oprah Winfrey.

        But in 2005, she published a lesser-known work, 1996, a semi-autobiographical book describing her experience as a TI. "I didn't want to tell this story. It's going to take courage. Perhaps more courage than I possess, but they've left me no alternatives," Naylor writes at the beginning of her book. "I am in a battle for my mind. If I stop now, they'll have won, and I will lose myself." The book is coherent, if hard to believe. It's also marked by disturbing passages describing how Jewish American agents were responsible for Naylor's surveillance. "Of the many cars that kept coming and going down my road, most were driven by Jews," she writes in the book. When asked about that passage in a recent interview, she defended her logic: Being from New York, she claimed, she can recognize Jews.

        Naylor lives on a quiet street in Brooklyn in a majestic brownstone with an interior featuring intricate woodwork and tasteful decorations that attest to a successful literary career. She speaks about her situation calmly, occasionally laughing at her own predicament and her struggle with what she originally thought was mental illness. "I would observe myself," she explains. "I would lie in bed while the conversations were going on, and I'd ask: Maybe it is schizophrenia?"

        Like Girard, Naylor describes what she calls "street theater" -- incidents that might be dismissed by others as coincidental, but which Naylor believes were set up. She noticed suspicious cars driving by her isolated vacation home. On an airplane, fellow passengers mimicked her every movement -- like mimes on a street.

        Voices similar to those in Girard's case followed -- taunting voices cursing her, telling her she was stupid, that she couldn't write. Expletive-laced language filled her head. Naylor sought help from a psychiatrist and received a prescription for an antipsychotic drug. But the medication failed to stop the voices, she says, which only added to her conviction that the harassment was real.

        For almost four years, Naylor says, the voices prevented her from writing. In 2000, she says, around the time she discovered the mind-control forums, the voices stopped and the surveillance tapered off. It was then that she began writing 1996 as a "catharsis."

        Colleagues urged Naylor not to publish the book, saying she would destroy her reputation. But she did publish, albeit with a small publishing house. The book was generally ignored by critics but embraced by TIs.

        Naylor is not the first writer to describe such a personal descent. Evelyn Waugh, one of the great novelists of the 20th century, details similar experiences in The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold. Waugh's book, published in 1957, has eerie similarities to Naylor's.

        Embarking on a recuperative cruise, Pinfold begins to hear voices on the ship that he believes are part of a wireless system capable of broadcasting into his head; he believes the instigator recruited fellow passengers to act as operatives; and he describes "performances" put on by passengers directed at him yet meant to look innocuous to others.

        Waugh wrote his book several years after recovering from a similar episode and realizing that the voices and paranoia were the result of drug-induced hallucinations.

        Naylor, who hasn't written a book since 1996, is now back at work on an historical novel she hopes will return her to the literary mainstream. She remains convinced that she was targeted by mind control. The many echoes of her ordeal she sees on the mind-control forums reassure her she's not crazy, she says.

        Of course, some of the things she sees on the forum do strike her as crazy. "But who I am to say?" she says. "Maybe I sound crazy to somebody else."

        SOME TIS, SUCH AS ED MOORE, A YOUNG MEDICAL DOCTOR, take a slightly more skeptical approach. He criticizes what he calls the "wacky claims" of TIs who blame various government agencies or groups of people without any proof. "I have yet to see a claim of who is behind this that has any data to support it," he writes.

        Nonetheless, Moore still believes the voices in his head are the result of mind control and that the U.S. government is the most likely culprit. Moore started hearing voices in 2003, just as he completed his medical residency in anesthesiology; he was pulling an all-nighter studying for board exams when he heard voices coming from a nearby house commenting on him, on his abilities as a doctor, on his sanity. At first, he thought he was simply overhearing conversations through walls (much as Waugh's fictional alter ego first thought), but when no one else could hear the voices, he realized they were in his head. Moore went through a traumatic two years, including hospitalization for depression with auditory hallucinations.

        "One tries to convince friends and family that you are being electronically harassed with voices that only you can hear," he writes in an e-mail. "You learn to stop doing that. They don't believe you, and they become sad and concerned, and it amplifies your own depression when you have voices screaming at you and your friends and family looking at you as a helpless, sick, mentally unbalanced wreck."

        He says he grew frustrated with anti-psychotic medications meant to stop the voices, both because the treatments didn't work and because psychiatrists showed no interest in what the voices were telling him. He began to look for some other way to cope.

        "In March of 2005, I started looking up support groups on the Internet," he wrote. "My wife would cry when she would see these sites, knowing I still heard voices, but I did not know what else to do." In 2006, he says, his wife, who had stood by him for three years, filed for divorce.

        Moore, like other TIs, is cautious about sharing details of his life. He worries about looking foolish to friends and colleagues -- but he says that risk is ultimately worthwhile if he can bring attention to the issue.

        With his father's financial help, Moore is now studying for an electrical engineering degree at the University of Texas at San Antonio, hoping to prove that V2K, the technology to send voices into people's heads, is real. Being in school, around other people, helps him cope, he writes, but the voices continue to taunt him.

        Recently, he says, they told him: "We'll never stop [messing] with you."

        A WEEK BEFORE THE TIS RALLY ON THE NATIONAL MALL, John Alexander, one of the people whom Harlan Girard holds personally responsible for the voices in his head, is at a Chili's restaurant in Crystal City explaining over a Philly cheese steak and fries why the United States needs mind-control weapons.

        A former Green Beret who served in Vietnam, Alexander went on to a number of national security jobs, and rubbed shoulders with prominent military and political leaders. Long known for taking an interest in exotic weapons, his 1980 article, "The New Mental Battlefield," published in the Army journal Military Review, is cited by self-described victims as proof of his complicity in mind control. Now retired from the government and living in Las Vegas, Alexander continues to advise the military. He is in the Washington area that day for an official meeting.

        Beneath a shock of white hair is the mind of a self-styled military thinker. Alexander belongs to a particular set of Pentagon advisers who consider themselves defense intellectuals, focusing on big-picture issues, future threats and new capabilities. Alexander's career led him from work on sticky foam that would stop an enemy in his or her tracks to dalliances in paranormal studies and psychics, which he still defends as operationally useful.

        In an earlier phone conversation, Alexander said that in the 1990s, when he took part in briefings at the CIA, there was never any talk of "mind control, or mind-altering drugs or technologies, or anything like that."

        According to Alexander, the military and intelligence agencies were still scared by the excesses of MK-ULTRA, the infamous CIA program that involved, in part, slipping LSD to unsuspecting victims. "Until recently, anything that smacked of [mind control] was extremely dangerous" because Congress would simply take the money away, he said.

        Alexander acknowledged that "there were some abuses that took place," but added that, on the whole, "I would argue we threw the baby out with the bath water."

        But September 11, 2001, changed the mood in Washington, and some in the national security community are again expressing interest in mind control, particularly a younger generation of officials who weren't around for MK-ULTRA. "It's interesting, that it's coming back," Alexander observed.

        While Alexander scoffs at the notion that he is somehow part of an elaborate plot to control people's minds, he acknowledges support for learning how to tap into a potential enemy's brain. He gives as an example the possible use of functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, for lie detection. "Brain mapping" with fMRI theoretically could allow interrogators to know when someone is lying by watching for activity in particular parts of the brain. For interrogating terrorists, fMRI could come in handy, Alexander suggests. But any conceivable use of the technique would fall far short of the kind of mind-reading TIs complain about.

        Alexander also is intrigued by the possibility of using electronic means to modify behavior. The dilemma of the war on terrorism, he notes, is that it never ends. So what do you do with enemies, such as those at Guantanamo: keep them there forever? That's impractical. Behavior modification could be an alternative, he says.

        "Maybe I can fix you, or electronically neuter you, so it's safe to release you into society, so you won't come back and kill me," Alexander says. It's only a matter of time before technology allows that scenario to come true, he continues. "We're now getting to where we can do that." He pauses for a moment to take a bite of his sandwich. "Where does that fall in the ethics spectrum? That's a really tough question."

        When Alexander encounters a query he doesn't want to answer, such as one about the ethics of mind control, he smiles and raises his hands level to his chest, as if balancing two imaginary weights. In one hand is mind control and the sanctity of free thought -- and in the other hand, a tad higher -- is the war on terrorism.

        But none of this has anything to do with the TIs, he says. "Just because things are secret, people tend to extrapolate. Common sense does not prevail, and even when you point out huge leaps in logic that just cannot be true, they are not dissuaded."

        WHAT IS IT THAT BRINGS SOMEONE, EVEN AN INTELLIGENT PERSON, to ascribe the experience of hearing disembodied voices to government weapons?

        In her book, Abducted, Harvard psychologist Susan Clancy examines a group that has striking parallels to the TIs: people who believe they've been kidnapped by aliens. The similarities are often uncanny: Would-be abductees describe strange pains, and feelings of being watched or targeted. And although the alleged abductees don't generally have auditory hallucinations, they do sometimes believe that their thoughts are controlled by aliens, or that they've been implanted with advanced technology.

        (On the online forum, some TIs posted vociferous objections to the parallel, concerned that the public finds UFOs even weirder than mind control. "It will keep us all marginalized and discredited," one griped.)

        Clancy argues that the main reason people believe they've been abducted by aliens is that it provides them with a compelling narrative to explain their perception that strange things have happened to them, such as marks on their bodies (marks others would simply dismiss as bruises), stimulation to their sexual organs (as the TIs describe) or feelings of paranoia. "It's not just an explanation for your problems; it's a source of meaning for your life," Clancy says.

        In the case of TIs, mind-control weapons are an explanation for the voices they hear in their head. Socrates heard a voice and thought it was a demon; Joan of Arc heard voices from God. As one TI noted in an e-mail: "Each person undergoing this harassment is looking for the solution to the problem. Each person analyzes it through his or her own particular spectrum of beliefs. If you are a scientific-minded person, then you will probably analyze the situation from that perspective and conclude it must be done with some kind of electronic devices. If you are a religious person, you will see it as a struggle between the elements of whatever religion you believe in. If you are maybe, perhaps more eccentric, you may think that it is alien in nature."

        Or, if you happen to live in the United States in the early 21st century, you may fear the growing power of the NSA, CIA and FBI.

        Being a victim of government surveillance is also, arguably, better than being insane. In Waugh's novella based on his own painful experience, when Pinfold concludes that hidden technology is being used to infiltrate his brain, he "felt nothing but gratitude in his discovery." Why? "He might be unpopular; he might be ridiculous; but he was not mad."

        Ralph Hoffman, a professor of psychiatry at Yale who has studied auditory hallucinations, regularly sees people who believe the voices are a part of government harassment (others believe they are God, dead relatives or even ex-girlfriends). Not all people who hear voices are schizophrenic, he says, noting that people can hear voices episodically in highly emotional states. What exactly causes these voices is still unknown, but one thing is certain: People who think the voices are caused by some external force are rarely dissuaded from their delusional belief, he says. "These are highly emotional and gripping experiences that are so compelling for them that ordinary reality seems bland."

        Perhaps because the experience is so vivid, he says, even some of those who improve through treatment merely decide the medical regimen somehow helped protect their brain from government weapons.

        Scott Temple, a professor of psychiatry at Penn State University who has been involved in two recent studies of auditory hallucinations, notes that those who suffer such hallucinations frequently lack insight into their illness. Even among those who do understand they are sick, "that awareness comes and goes," he says. "People feel overwhelmed, and the delusional interpretations return."

        BACK AT THE PHILADELPHIA TRAIN STATION, Girard seems more agitated. In a meeting the week before, his "handlers" had spoken to him only briefly -- they weren't in the right position to attack him, Girard surmises, based on the lack of voices. Today, his conversation jumps more rapidly from one subject to the next: victims of radiation experiments, his hatred of George H.W. Bush, MK-ULTRA, his personal experiences.

        Asked about his studies at Penn, he replies by talking about his problems with reading: "I told you, everything I write they dictate to me," he says, referring again to the voices. "When I read, they're reading to me. My eyes go across; they're moving my eyes down the line. They're reading it to me. When I close the book, I can't remember a thing I read. That's why they do it."

        The week before, Girard had pointed to only one person who appeared suspicious to him -- a young African American man reading a book; this time, however, he hears more voices, which leads him to believe the station is crawling with agents.

        "Let's change our location," Girard says after a while. "I'm sure they have 40 or 50 people in here today. I escaped their surveillance last time -- they won't let that happen again."

        Asked to explain the connection between mind control and the University of Pennsylvania, which Girard alleges is involved in the conspiracy, he begins to talk about defense contractors located near the Philadelphia campus: "General Electric was right next to the parking garage; General Electric Space Systems occupies a huge building right over there. From that building, you could see into the studio where I was doing my work most of the time. I asked somebody what they were doing there. You know, it had to do with computers. GE Space Systems. They were supposed to be tracking missile debris from this location . . . pardon me. What was your question again?"

        Yet many parts of Girard's life seem to reflect that of any affluent 70-year-old bachelor. He travels frequently to France for extended vacations and takes part in French cultural activities in Philadelphia. He has set up a travel scholarship at the Cleveland Institute of Art in the name of his late mother, who attended school there (he changed his last name 27 years ago for "personal reasons"), and he travels to meet the students who benefit from the fund. And while the bulk of his time is spent on his research and writing about mind control, he has other interests. He follows politics and describes outings with friends and family members with whom he doesn't talk about mind control, knowing they would view it skeptically.

        Girard acknowledges that some of his experiences mirror symptoms of schizophrenia, but asked if he ever worried that the voices might in fact be caused by mental illness, he answers sharply with one word: "No."

        How, then, does he know the voices are real?

        "How do you know you know anything?" Girard replies. "How do you know I exist? How do you know this isn't a dream you're having, from which you'll wake up in a few minutes? I suppose that analogy is the closest thing: You know when you have a dream. Sometimes it could be perfectly lucid, but you know it's a dream."

        The very "realness" of the voices is the issue -- how do you disbelieve something you perceive as real? That's precisely what Hoffman, the Yale psychiatrist, points out: So lucid are the voices that the sufferers -- regardless of their educational level or self-awareness -- are unable to see them as anything but real. "One thing I can assure you," Hoffman says, "is that for them, it feels real."

        IT LOOKS ALMOST LIKE ANY OTHER SMALL POLITICAL RALLY IN WASHINGTON. Posters adorn the gate on the southwest side of the Capitol Reflecting Pool, as attendees set up a table with press materials, while volunteers test a loudspeaker and set out coolers filled with bottled water. The sun is out, the weather is perfect, and an eclectic collection of people from across the country has gathered to protest mind control.

        There is not a tinfoil hat to be seen. Only the posters and paraphernalia hint at the unusual. "Stop USA electronic harassment," urges one poster. "Directed Energy Assaults," reads another. Smaller signs in the shape of tombstones say, "RIP MKULTRA." The main display, set in front of the speaker's lectern has a more extended message: "HELP STOP HI-TECH ASSAULT PSYCHOTRONIC TORTURE."

        About 35 TIs show up for the June rally, in addition to a few friends and family members. Speakers alternate between giving personal testimonials and descriptions of research into mind-control technology. Most of the gawkers at the rally are foreign tourists. A few hecklers snicker at the signs, but mostly people are either confused or indifferent. The articles on mind control at the table -- from mainstream news magazines -- go untouched.

        "How can you expect people to get worked up over this if they don't care about eavesdropping or eminent domain?" one man challenges after stopping to flip through the literature. Mary Ann Stratton, who is manning the table, merely shrugs and smiles sadly. There is no answer: Everyone at the rally acknowledges it is an uphill battle.

        In general, the outlook for TIs is not good; many lose their jobs, houses and family. Depression is common. But for many at the rally, experiencing the community of mind-control victims seems to help. One TI, a man who had been a rescue swimmer in the Coast Guard before voices in his head sent him on a downward spiral, expressed the solace he found among fellow TIs in a long e-mail to another TI: "I think that the only people that can help are people going through the same thing. Everyone else will not believe you, or they are possibly involved."

        In the end, though, nothing could help him enough. In August 2006, he would commit suicide.

        But at least for the day, the rally is boosting TI spirits. Girard, in what for him is an ebullient mood, takes the microphone. A small crowd of tourists gathers at the sidelines, listening with casual interest. With the Capitol looming behind him, he reaches the crescendo of his speech, rallying the attendees to remember an important thing: They are part of a single community.

        "I've heard it said, 'We can't get anywhere because everyone's story is different.' We are all the same," Girard booms. "You knew someone with the power to commit you to the electronic concentration camp system."

        Several weeks after the rally, Girard shows up for a meeting with a reporter at the stately Mayflower Hotel in Washington, where he has stayed frequently over the two decades he has traveled to the capital to battle mind control. He walks in with a lit cigarette, which he apologetically puts out after a hotel employee tells him smoking isn't allowed anymore. He is half an hour late -- delayed, he says, by a meeting on Capitol Hill. Wearing a monogrammed dress shirt and tie, he looks, as always, serious and professional.

        Girard declines to mention whom on Capitol Hill he'd met with, other than to say it was a congressional staffer. Embarrassment is likely a factor: Girard readily acknowledges that most people he meets with, ranging from scholars to politicians, ignore his entreaties or dismiss him as a lunatic.

        Lately, his focus is on his Web site, which he sees as the culmination of nearly a quarter-century of research. When completed, it will contain more than 300 pages of documents. What next? Maybe he'll move to France (there are victims there, too), or maybe the U.S. government will finally just kill him, he says.

        Meanwhile, he is always searching for absolute proof that the government has decoded the brain. His latest interest is LifeLog, a project once funded by the Pentagon that he read about in Wired News. The article described it this way: "The embryonic LifeLog program would dump everything an individual does into a giant database: every e-mail sent or received, every picture taken, every Web page surfed, every phone call made, every TV show watched, every magazine read. All of this -- and more -- would combine with information gleaned from a variety of sources: a GPS transmitter to keep tabs on where that person went, audiovisual sensors to capture what he or she sees or says, and biomedical monitors to keep track of the individual's health."

        Girard suggests that the government, using similar technology, has "catalogued" his life over the past two years -- every sight and sound (Evelyn Waugh, in his mind-control book, writes about his character's similar fear that his harassers were creating a file of his entire life).

        Girard thinks the government can control his movements, inject thoughts into his head, cause him pain day and night. He believes that he will die a victim of mind control.

        Is there any reason for optimism?

        Girard hesitates, then asks a rhetorical question.

        "Why, despite all this, why am I the same person? Why am I Harlan Girard?"

        For all his anguish, be it the result of mental illness or, as Girard contends, government mind control, the voices haven't managed to conquer the thing that makes him who he is: Call it his consciousness, his intellect or, perhaps, his soul.

        "That's what they don't yet have," he says. After 22 years, "I'm still me."

        Sharon Weinberger is a Washington writer and author of Imaginary Weapons: A Journey Through the Pentagon's Scientific Underworld. She will be fielding questions and comments about this article Tuesday at washingtonpost.com/liveonline.

        View all comments that have been posted about this article.
        © 2007 The Washington Post Company


        http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/10/AR2007011001399_pf.html [washingtonpost.com]

Technological obstacles aside... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640477)

Are there going to be games worth emulating? Or are we already talking about emulating the next Philips CD-i so we can play Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon on our PCs?

There isn't even a proper Nintendo 64 emulator. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640519)

Barely even a proper *SNES* emulator. PlayStation/Saturn ones are not anywhere near decent. How the hell do they expect to emulate a just-released-gen console? Are they high on LSD mixed with crack cocaine?

Biggest obstacle is not the hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640533)

The games are encrypted, the OS is encrypted, can't even start writing an emulator without the code to run.

Beleive it when I see it (1)

ausekilis (1513635) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640551)

I'm not emulator writer, nor am I an x86 expert, but I'm pretty skeptical about this. If there are any experts out there, feel free to chime in.

The original XBox [wikipedia.org] had a custom Pentium 3 processor clocked at 733Mhz, and to date there haven't been any reasonable emulators for it. There have been a few attempts, but no big successes have been made. Last I checked about 6 months ago, interest was also waning on the development of it.You would think a quad core i7 clocked at 3.2 GHz would run circles around that custom P3, at least fast enough to get the low-level system instructions handled.

The XBox 360 [wikipedia.org] has a custom PowerPC Xenon, and the PS3 [wikipedia.org] has the cell processor. Both are a PPC architecture, which given the clock speeds and variance in instruction set are probably pretty hard to emulate.

With the XB1 and PS4 both running on x86 hardware, we are now beyond the point of consoles being custom hardware (NES on up to Gamecube, PS1-PS3) with custom software, and that barrier for multi-platform release is really just down to contracting. I'd also be interested in seeing what can be done with the XB1 or PS4 software without the MS and Sony imposed restrictions, such as the XBLive profanity blocking. Hell, I may even buy one of my favorite games (Killer Instinct), as long as I'm not subjected to MS monitoring and policing my swearing at friends during our own tournament.

GARBAGE- no Xbox (1) emulator (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640673)

Another console release, another sea of TRASH technical journalism. Here's a question... why was there NEVER a Xbox (original) emulator, when the hardware had a PC CPU (standard Intel x86 chip) and a PC GPU (near standard Nvidia GPU chip), tiny amount of RAM, and was significantly less powerful than gaming PCs after a few years?

Emulators are NOT what the common sheeple are encouraged to think they are. The MAIN fact to consider when it comes to console emulators is the "WHY" they come to exist in the first place.

-console emulators (at least the ones being considered here) are NOT commercial products, but the work of enthusiasts.
-enthusiast coding happens for many reasons, and these reasons frequently FAIL to overlap with those that drive commercial coding
-a MAJOR factor driving original emulation efforts was the fascination with emulating console HARDWARE units (CPU and GPU) in software. This intellectual challenge is rendered DULL indeed when one is 'emulating' PC-like hardware with PC hardware.
-a MAJOR factor driving original emulation efforts was that console games were VERY different from those available on PCs. Today, the AAA console games usually exist in much BETTER forms on the PC. Where the publisher refuses to release a PC version (say with Halo beyond 2, or Gear of War beyond the first) PC gamers consider the missing games as inferior trash for console heads.
-the games that PC users would love to play (eg., Red Dead Redemption, or Last of Us) are known to be so "to the metal" that such games would run very poorly indeed on an emulator. In other words, the types of games that an emulator would run well today are not the games PC owners care about.

Hence, this subject is just another for TRASH technical journalists to fill this week's column inches with. People in the Emulator community KNOW that there is hardware likely to get some form of semi-decent emulation, and hardware that will NEVER be usefully emulated. Nintendo and hand-helds are where emulation hopes remain.

NO-ONE in the emulator community expects any sensible, useful progress to be made emulating the PS3, PS4, or Xbox One for running games anyone cares about.

Missing the point... (4, Insightful)

thevirtualcat (1071504) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640689)

I think some people here are missing the point.

I don't think anyone is saying that PS4/Xbox1 emulation will be easy. Just that it will be easier than PS3/XBox360 emulation.

Both generations will have a significant amount of hacking and reverse engineering involved and will be fraught with legal challenges. The current generation just has the advantage of being more or less based on hardware that's readily available at a reasonable price. The previous generation is not even remotely similar to anything you can buy easily or cheaply. (Other than the PS3 and XBox360, of course.)

Two generations (1)

XMark3 (2979399) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640765)

Usually reliable emulators don't come out until about two generations after a console. So by the end of the XBone/PS4 era we should start seeing good 360/PS3 emulators coming out.

Re:Two generations (1)

StingyJack (1598631) | 1 year,12 days | (#45641037)

Kind of to your point, emulators are usually driven by lack of available hardware. I cant buy a NES off the shelf anymore, so an emulator is usually my only recourse if I want to feed an addiction to Battletoads.

Why Emulate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640795)

Its Called a PC

Was Xbox emulation popular? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640825)

The first Xbox had very similar hardware to a PC, but Xbox emulation got a lot less attention than PS2 or even Gamecube/Wii emulation. Why?

GameCube and Wii? (4, Informative)

wisnoskij (1206448) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640889)

Um, no....
Not really, some computers, really powerful computers (about the same as playing the most intensive computer game on the absolutely highest graphics possible), can play a few of these games without huge game wrecking glitches. At best I would call the emulator a very early alpha; Proof of concept.

And we still do not even have something even that good for the original Xbox. The only reason we have something that is even decent at emulating the PS2 is because it is far older than even the Xbox and by far the most popular console of all time. And really that is only like 50%. Very popular games have been made to work, but you can pretty much forget just getting some random PS2 game popping it in and playing it.

Which is not to say that the current gen will not be easier to emulate, but that is a lot of power to be emulating even if it is already basically 99% a normal PC already.

The N64 was probably the last decently complete emulator, and you have to go all the way back to the SNES era to get one that is 100% working, every game works, launch and go.

Whats the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640951)

In this day and age with so many games already ported to PC, what is even the point of this, other than the "because I can" mantra?

Sure, makes sense for older hardware, but I don't see the point for modern stuff.

Big programming & hardware challenge (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | 1 year,12 days | (#45640975)

The PCSX2 developers said a PS3 emulator will be possible around 2020...so good luck with a PS4 emulator.

Do you really think... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45640993)

...that these companies haven't looked into building such emulators themselves? Perhaps as part of a back-compatibility solution? Perhaps it's not that easy, perhaps there are legal issues and push-back from game studios? There's more to "emulating" that just running some CPU code, and a console is a very integrated piece of hardware/software, where users expect realtime experience.

The picture is much more complex than you're making it out to be.

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