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WiFi Password sharing, a little known Windows Phone feature is about to hit the big time

Subject: General Tech | July 1, 2015 - 03:25 PM |
Tagged: Wi-Fi Sense, _optout, windows 10

Wi-Fi Sense has been a feature on phones running Windows 8.1, entering in your password on the phone would allow a computer logged in with the same Microsoft account to connect to your own wireless, with the password stored and encrypted on a Microsoft server.  It looks as though this feature will be available on all Windows 10 devices, sharing your wireless passwords with all of your Outlook, Skype and even Facebook contacts if you enable it.  This is certainly handy for when visiting as you will not need to ask for the wireless password at a friends house but does raise some security concerns.  If you happen to have Outlook contacts on your work machine which are not necessarily co-workers, they would be able to access your corporate network, as unfortunately would their contacts and even worse so could anyone who had compromised any of those accounts or machines.  The password is encrypted and not easy to access directly and the application does seem to limit access to WAN, somehow blocking access to the LAN even with proper credentials.  As The Register rightly points out, if a password is the totality of your access management protocols, you are already doing it wrong but this is something all users should be aware of.

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"A Windows 10 feature, Wi-Fi Sense, smells like a security risk: it shares Wi-Fi passwords with the user's contacts."

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Source: The Register

We're Running Out of IPv4... Still...

Subject: Networking | July 5, 2015 - 07:17 PM |
Tagged: ipv6, ipv4, arin

While the IP system allows for about 4.3 billion addresses, not all of those are available to actual devices. There are some that are designed for private network use, so a router can assign them without worrying that it is blocking traffic to some external resource. Another big drain was wasted addresses, where organizations would purchase a big chunk of the public address space and use a tiny fraction of it. Beyond that, we just have a lot of devices, from cell phones, to home networks, to the servers they contact. Microsoft is trying to reach a billion devices with Windows 10, and the vast majority of them are expected to be online.

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I'm mentioning it now because the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) announced that they will be unable to fulfill some requests for IPv4 blocks. All they have left at the moment are /23 and /24 chunks, which are bundles of 512 and 256 public addresses. As of the time of publishing, 46 chunks of 512 and 431 chunks of 256 are available, which is 133,888 total public numbers.

Of course, it's not as simple as saying “let's move to IPv6 then”. There will be some pain when the switch happens. For instance, Unreal Engine 4 has only been IPv6-compliant for a year, with the launch of Unreal Engine 4.2 in June 2014. This poses a significant problem for older games that rely upon IPv4 addresses for multiplayer, and that doesn't even consider other online software.

Source: Team ARIN

Final Fantasy XIV for Mac Sales Pulled Temporarily. PC's Fine.

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2015 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: square enix, pc gaming, mac os x, final fantasy xiv, final fantasy

When Final Fantasy 14 launched on the PC, it was plagued with bugs and gameplay problems. It led to Square basically remaking the game and relaunching it as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. The relaunch was highly successful, as Square learned from their inexperience with the PC. They recently decided to expand to the Mac alongside the release of their new expansion pack, Heavensward, for the PC. The published system requirements for the Mac version were later retracted by Square... and you can see where this is going.

They have since temporarily pulled game sales and offered full refunds. The game will go back on sale when they update “information on the product, system requirements, and screen resolution”.

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The Mac will get the MMO, but Noctis time. Ignis wasn't in the cards.

I guess you could say they'll get on it Prompto? Yes I know I'm punning the wrong title...

In the forum post, Square lists a few reasons for the error. First, a handful of customers were accidentally provided a pre-release build ahead of the official launch, due to a “miscommunication with retailers”. As mentioned though, the official release had performance issues and Square blames that on OpenGL and how it tied into their project. They claim that Final Fantasy 14 developed for Mac OSX's implementation of OpenGL would perform 30% worse than Microsoft's DirectX counterpart. They quickly clarify that OpenGL is not 30% slower than DirectX, but that factor applies to OpenGL on Mac, DirectX on Windows, and specifically for Final Fantasy 14.

An interesting note is that Square claims to have outlined several system requirement candidates, and was waiting on QA and final engineering to “select the correct one”. Yikes. Talking about software coming in hot, they did not even know their target hardware until into the shipping process, if you take their word at face value.

Square intends to ship a functional Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn to OSX at some point.

Source: Square Enix

More fancy new memory, STT-RAM from Avalanche

Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2015 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: STT-MRAM, Avalanche, pram, RRAM, non-volatile RAM, NRAM

STT-MRAM, Spin Transfer Torque Magnetic Random Access Memory, actually uses the spin of an electron to record a 1 or 0 making it quite scalable, though Avalanche's current proof of concept is built on a 55nm process.  Avalanche is hoping that their use of the common Serial Peripheral Interface bus and standard CMOS 300mm process will make this type of RAM easier to adopt than some of the other types of non-volatile RAM being developed such as RRAM, NRAM and Toshiba's STT-MRAM.  STT-MRAM can be incredibly fast, scale down well below 10nm and will not need multiple layers, which will reduce the heat produced even in extremely high densities.  Check out more on how they have designed their version of STT-MRAM over at The Register.

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"Startup Avalanche is sampling an STT-RAM chip offering DRAM/SRAM speed, persistent storage, unlimited endurance and scalability beyond 10nm."

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Source: The Register

Windows 10ish, coming July 29ish

Subject: General Tech | July 3, 2015 - 01:23 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

No rumours this Friday but more confusion out of Redmond as Microsoft announces that the July 29th launch date for Windows 10 may or may not apply to you.  Brave members of the Windows Insider program will be able to install the new OS on that date but others may see their date moved into August as the OS will be rolled out in waves.  Even more interesting is that many may see a message recommending you reach out to an application provider or device manufacturer before upgrading if the tool identifies something on your machine that may not be compatible with Windows 10.  You will still be able to upgrade if you wish but you might want to double check which hardware is being flagged.  Check the story at The Register for the current list of applications which will not survive the upgrade process, including Windows Media Centre as Scott reported on.

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"We already knew the OS will start shipping to members of the Windows Insider program on July 29. On Thursday, however, Microsoft OS boss Terry Myerson explained in a blog post that not everyone should expect to receive their updates on that date."

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Source: The Register

Faster than fast ring; Windows 10 RTM spotted?

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2015 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, rtm, build 10176

Windows Insider members are currently on 10162, the third release in four days.  This new release offers you a chance to download an ISO to test a completely fresh install although you can install it as an in place update as well.  The new version also allows you to buy WiFi from the Microsoft Store as well, you may start to see WiFi networks in the USA and perhaps North America wide which you will be able to connect to after buying time and perhaps data from the Microsoft Store. 

We've also heard rumours via Slashdot that build 10176 will be the RTM version which may be sent out as soon as Thursday.  This implies that there will not be many changes to the new OS between now and the release date, as providing differing versions to the manufacturers and current customers would not be a good business decision.  As well, if purchasers of new hardware will form a very negative opinion if they have to go through a long series of updates simply to be able to use their new machine.  Ready or not, Windows 10 is just about ready to go.

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"Mark Wilson reports that the first RTM candidate for Windows 10 has been spotted: build 10176. Leaks and sources have suggested the company intends to finalize the operating system later this week, perhaps as early as July 9th. This would give Microsoft almost three weeks to distribute it to retailers and devicemakers before the July 29th launch date."

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Source: Slashdot

Checking out the new Kindle Paperwhite

Subject: Mobile | July 2, 2015 - 04:54 PM |
Tagged: amazon, kindle paperwhite

The insides of the third generation Kindle Paperwhite match the Voyage, a Freescale i.MX6 SoloLite 1GHz chip, as do the outsides with a new 300ppi screen.  Connectivity has been expanded to Wi-Fi as well as an available 3G model and there is also a brand new font called Bookerly.  If you are in need of an eReader and are not in Canada so that you can get the Tegra 4 powered Kobo Arc 7, you should head over to Techgage and see if the new improve Paperwhite is the solution you should chose.

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"Amazon has just revealed its third-gen Kindle Paperwhite e-reader, and while it doesn’t offer a substantial upgrade over the previous model, it does iterate on what was already a fantastic device. With a 300 ppi screen and brand-new Bookerly font at-the-ready, there’s not much to dislike with this e-reader."

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Source: Techgage

You can fit a lot of coolers in the Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV ATX

Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 3, 2015 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: Enthoo EVOLV, atx, phanteks

If you were impressed by the Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV case that Sebastian recently reviewed but use a cooler a bit larger than the Corsair H105 and were wondering if the case was big enough for you, [H]ard|OCP has your back.  They've confirmed that smaller coolers such as the Antec KÜHLER H2O 620 and 920, Corsair Hydro H50, Corsair Hydro H75, Corsair Hydro H80, Corsair Hydro H90, Silverstone TD03 and NZXT Kraken X40 all fit in the top as well as the standard locations.  Large coolers including the Corsair Hydro H100 and Thermaltake Water 3.0 Extreme also fit easily in the top and even extra large 360mm triple fan radiators can be installed with the removal of the small plate at the top of the PSU cover and the rear facing hard drive rack.  Hopefully this case hits the market soon as it is proving to be a good solution for the serious enthusiast.

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"Today we review the new computer case from Phanteks, the Enthoo EVOLV Mid Tower Chassis. It brings with it full aluminum construction and promises features such as quick release side panels, top mount radiator brackets, a new data drive mounting system, and lots of pretty LEDs in four different colors."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Asus Launches New Mini ITX Motherboards With Braswell-Based Intel Celeron Processors

Subject: Motherboards | July 4, 2015 - 10:52 PM |
Tagged: SFF, mini ITX, fanless, Braswell, Airmont, asus

Asus has introduced two new small form factor motherboards featuring soldered Intel “Braswell”-based Celeron processors. The Asus N3150I-C and N3050I-C are Mini ITX form factor boards with decent connectivity and lower power draw with the processor options topping out at 6 watts.

Asus Braswell-Based Celeron Mini ITX Motherboards N3150i-c and N3050i-c.jpg

The two SFF motherboards are essentially the same, with the main difference being the bundled processor (see below). The boards have 24+4 pin ATX power inputs, two full-size DDR3 memory slots, two SATA 6 Gbps ports, a single PCI-E 2.0 x4 slot (open ended), and one mini PCI-E connector. The Intel processors on both boards are passively cooled by a large rectangular gold-colored aluminum heatsink.

The rear of the board includes the following I/O ports.

  • 2 x PS/2
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x VGA
  • 1 x RS232
  • 3 x Audio outputs

The N3150I-C board uses an Intel Celeron N3150 while the N3050I-C uses an Intel Celeron N3050. Both chips are 14nm and based on the newer Airmont architecture. These “Braswell” chips have incremental improvements in CPU performance and more significant graphics performance boosts with the inclusion of up to 16 execution units.

Specifically, the N3150 is a quad core chip clocked at 1.6 GHz base to 2.08 GHz burst with Intel HD Graphics (12 EUs up to 640 MHz) and a 6W TDP. On the other hand, the Celeron N3050 is a dual core chip – also with a 6W TDP – clocked at 1.6 GHz base and 2.16 GHz burst paired with Intel HD Graphics (12 EUs) clocked at up to 600 MHz.

These new boards could be used as the base for a NAS box, home media server, or a router and wireless AP by using those PCI-E and mPCI-E slots. Pricing and availability have not yet been announced, however.

Source: Asus

Stories of Mel; a Portal 2 mod of decent length and better pricing

Subject: General Tech | July 1, 2015 - 03:49 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Portal 2, Stories of Mel

Stories of Mel is a Portal 2 mod which takes place between the two games, with a length that sounds similar to the original game.  There is new music, voice acting and even a redesigned Portal gun all available for free for owners of Portal 2 on Steam.  The embedded video below gives you a sense of the ambience you can expect from the game without giving away many hints as to the content.  If you already have the Portal games then head over to Steam to pick up the mod, which installs as a separate game and if you don't then you owe it to yourself to pay the ~$30 to pick up both games.  Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has links for Steam as well as the projects homepage if you want to show your thanks.

"Mel brings a new protagonist with a new companion sphere, boasting over 300 new voiced lines, an hour of original music, and 22 levels that its creators say may take anywhere from four to twelve hours to complete depending on how well you think with portals. It looks quite pretty. And it’s entirely free (if you own Portal 2, natch), available direct through Steam."

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