Automating Rock Band vocals

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When it comes to Rock Band, our friends suck at singing. No, really.

We’re cool with them beating on the drum set completely off-time, but the sound of them trying to sing “Tom Sawyer” makes us want to cut out our eardrums.

We’re willing to bet that Cornell students [Gautam Kamath and Dominick Grochowina] have friends like ours. Their Electrical and Computer Engineering final project aims to remove the tone deaf from in front of the microphone, allowing a computer to sing vocals instead.

Since Rock Band simply listens for the proper frequency to be sung, the pair figured it would be easy enough to monitor the game’s output and feed computer-generated signals back into the microphone. Once the game’s vocal bar is isolated via a series of filters, an ATMega644 is used to interpret the notes and generate the corresponding tone via a speaker.

While automating Rock Band gameplay is nothing new, we don’t recall seeing anyone try to cut the singer from the band. We think it’s a pretty cool concept – rock on!

Edit: Updated with video

[Read more...]

Playstation Network breached, no end to downtime in sight

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If you are not a gamer, or simply a casual player, you may not have heard about the recent breach of Sony’s Playstation Network. In short, the network was infiltrated on April 17th, and the service was completely shut down on the 19th as a precautionary measure. Now, more than a week later services have yet to be restored, but Sony is finally starting to talk a bit more about what happened.

At this point, nobody knows the total extent of the data stolen, but stories are emerging that indicate just about everything that could be accessed was accessed. Sony admits that information such as names, addresses, passwords, and security questions have all been accessed by an unauthorized third party. They have also not completely ruled out the possibility that credit card data has been stolen as well.

It seems the situation has turned from a mere inconvenience to PSN users into a full-blown security and PR nightmare. After a breach like this with so many questions left unanswered, and the gaming network rendered completely useless, we have to ask:

When everything is “fixed” and back to normal, what could Sony possibly do to regain your trust?

Geohot case settlement

It looks like Sony and [George Hotz] have reached an out-of-court settlement in the case brought against the hacker who is more well-known as [Geohot].

This is the end (we think) of an ongoing saga that originally drew our ire when Sony remove OtherOS support as a sledge-hammer-type fix for holes that [Geohot] found in the security system used by PlayStation 3 hardware. Our beef with that move is that it punished people who bought a PS3 knowing that it could run Linux natively, only to have that rug retroactively pulled out from under them. [Geohot] then went on to publish details that allow those with the proper skills to leave a smoldering pile of slag where Sony’s hardware security used to reside.

They slapped him with a lawsuit for publishing those details. This settlement doesn’t have him admitting any wrongdoing. We’re not going to editorialize on the morals or ethics of [George's] actions, but we do still think that Sony greatly overreacted at several points along this unfortunate string of events.

[Thanks Buggs187]

PS3 Jailbreak – Now in Apple flavor!

Image courtesy of DanyL of psx-scene

The newest member of the PS3 jailbreaking tool crowd is the iPod family. More specifically, iPods running the open source media firmware Rockbox. Even better news, theoretically it should be possible to use this same method on any MP3 player running the Rockbox software. Right now the exploit package only works on select generations of the iPod Nano and iPod Classic line, but if the trend set by the PSX-scene forums continues, it would be worth checking back in the near future if your device is not already supported. Thanks to [shuffle2] for providing the hack, and [DanAdamKOF] for the heads up.

If Apple isn’t your device of choice, you can also check out some of your other jailbreaking options.

Building a remote control

Here’s a homebrew remote control that [Jad Berro] is developing. He’s using a tank robot to test it out but eventually he plans to use it to control an RC plane thanks the 434 MHz wireless module inside. There’s no shortage of input, with two analog sticks from a PlayStation controller, several momentary push buttons, and some toggle switches. Although it’s not shown in the picture above there is also a 16×2 character display that serves as part of the interface. With a navigable menu the only limit to what you can do is the programming space available on the ATmega168 that inhabits the homemade Arduino board at the heart of the system. It certainly would give the robot remote from Friday a run for its money.

Keyboard input for PlayStation

Anyone who has tried their hand at RPG Maker 1 (or any text input with a controller) knows how difficult it can be typing long paragraphs into the console. [Thutmose] is here to save the day with Kupid 1.0 (2.0 in production). A PICAXE takes ps/2 keyboard input and converts it to a series of d-pad button presses for PS1 and PS2 controllers, providing quick data entry compared to the previously monotonous task.

We’re happy to learn that the source code and hardware is released, meaning it has the potential to be easily adapted to any controller/console.

Sony removes PS3 Linux support; Gets sued for it

On April first Sony rolled out new firmware for the PlayStation 3 that removed the ability to install Linux on the system by blocking a feature called OtherOS. Now a class action lawsuit has been filed against the company for its actions. It doesn’t take an attorney to figure out that they removed features that were a major selling point for the system. As mentioned in our previous article, the ability to use an exploit to access the hardware doesn’t mean that every user installing Linux on the system plans to do so. The suit asserts that users had no opportunity to negotiate the System Software Licensing Agreement which is only presented to a purchase after the sale is made. The lawsuit is availble in PDF from from IGN.

Who knows where this one will end up. The suit seeks an injunction against the removal of the OtherOS feature as well as compensatory damages. No matter what happens, we still think the removal was a bad move on Sony’s part.

[Thanks Shueddue]

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