Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2011 - 10:28 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: server farm, Internet, data center, cloud, apple
CNet is reporting that Apple is currently considering constructing a new data center outside of Prineville, Oregon. The 31 Megawatt facility would be built on 160 acres outside of the small Oregon town and would join other prominent tech companies’ data centers including those of Facebook, Amazon, and Google.
According to Oregon Live, it is the area’s mild climate (meaning lower cooling costs compared to naturally warmer climates in addition to all the heat from servers), low electricity costs, and certain “rural enterprise zones” that exempt computers and equipment from normal business property taxes. They state that such exemptions could save Apple several million dollars.
Although Apple has so far declined to comment, city officials have commented that the company looking to purchase the land for the data center codenamed “Maverick” appears to be serious about going through with the purchase. Two major issues stand in the way of Apple building a large data center in the area, however. The company is concerned about tax issues against their intangible assets. Due to Apple putting a great deal of stock (er, the other kind :P) in their brand name, trademarks, and patents, they could face further taxes in the way Oregon’s State Department of Revenue taxes data centers. The largest issue; however, lies in power concerns. In order to supply enough electricity to the various data centers in the area (including Apples should they indeed be building one), Bonneville Power Administration would need to upgrade the Ponderosa Substation, construct an additional substation, and add further transmission lines. This is because the utility company’s transmission capacity to the area is currently nearly maxed out. A 31 Megawatt data center would consume enough electricity to power approximately 22,000 homes and that kind of capacity is not available in an area where towns are a fifth of that size.
The upgrade to the areas electrical subsystems would cost nearly $26.5 million and would take almost three years. Member Services Director for the Central Electric Cooperative, Jeff Beaman, believes that after the appropriate upgrades, a new data center “seems doable.”
Whether this elusive “Maverick” is indeed Apple, and whether the company decides to build a data center remains to be seen; however, it is certainly plausible. Now that Apple is moving more services to the Internet, and the increased adoption of IOS devices thanks to the iPhone being available on all the major US carriers, the company would definitely benefit from having another facility on the other side of the country as their current North Carolina based data center for performance as well as redundancy and stability reasons. What are your thoughts on the reports, is Apple looking to put more cloud (server horsepower) in your icloud?
Subject: General Tech | November 29, 2011 - 01:14 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Internet, fact check
Definately falling into the "I'll beleive it when I see it" category is an extension developed by an MIT student for his Masters thesis which is intended to check the accuracy of information on the web. Specifically, with the help of Politifact it will be checking the accuracy of political statements. The big problem is going to be the quality of the facts database it checks against, as you can only be as good as the database so if it gets out of date or starts to lean one way or the other it might do more harm than good. On the other hand we can hope that this might make people a little more leery of getting their information from only one source and not doing even a bit of fact checking on their own. Take a look at the full story over at The Register.
Thanks Neiman Journalism Lab!
"A student at MIT’s Media Lab is developing a browser plug-in that can check the accuracy of information posted online, and may use it to monitor political speeches for untruths.
For his master’s thesis, Dan Schultz – who was recently named a 2011 Knight-Mozilla Fellow – came up with the idea for “truth goggles” while talking to a fact checker at Truthsquad, who was explaining that the principle problem with fact checking was getting people access to the skinny. Schultz then came up with the idea as a way to correct incorrect information, but more importantly to get people to think critically about what they are reading."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Migrate Away from Windows Home Server Drive Extender Guide @MissingRemote
- Fedora 16 vs. Ubuntu 11.10 Performance Benchmarks @ Phoronix
- PC vendors to see serious HDD shortages starting December, says Acer VP @ DigiTimes
- Windows-on-ARM platform to join notebook competition in June 2013 @ DigiTimes
- HardOCP Readers Ask AMD Bulldozer Questions @ [H]ard|OCP
- Weekly Giveaway # 16: Akasa Venom Strike Chassis and Venom Voodoo CPU Cooler @ eTeknix
- Gigabyte X79-UD5 Giveaway @ AnandTech
Subject: General Tech | November 8, 2011 - 04:19 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: google, Internet, social networking
If you've spent any time using Google's new Plus (+) social network for the past few months, the lack of business and brand pages has likely made itself readily apparent. While Google has been working on a method for allowing businesses and brands to join in on the Google + fun for some time now, it has been in a very limited capacity. Until yesterday, that is. The big G has finally taken the velvet ropes and training wheels off of the business pages, and opened up a new Pages feature to everyone. What this means for you, fine readers, is that we are finally (unfortunately I was never able to pester Google enough to allow us beta access ;) ) able to fill that small void in your Google + world with your very own Official PC Perspective Google + Page!
Now do you see why I'm excited? It's PC Per on your Google + (what could be better?)!
What the new business pages bring to the table is the ability for cool things that are not people to finally join the social network, obviously. The Pages are then able to represent the brand in much the same capacity as a person is able to interact with the service by adding and following others, starting and joining hangouts, and sharing text, photos, videos, and links with people in the group's circle(s). Where the business pages differentiate themselves from a normal user is in the new +Direct Connect service. This allows people to jump straight to any brand (with a Google+ Page) they want simply by searching Google with a plus (+) sign followed by the name of the brand they want to connect with. For example, users are able to jump straight to the Angry Birds page by typing "+Angry Birds" into a Google search. Pretty neat. The new feature is only available for certain brands right now but will roll out to every Google + page shortly.
Vic Gundotra, the Senior VP of Engineering stated that although the Google + Pages are now live, they still have a slew of new features to implement before they will be complete and the programmers can get some rest. "Stay Tuned," he ends. What sort of additional functionality would you like to see in Pages? Feel free to head over to the PC Perspective page and let us know what you think!
Subject: General Tech | October 27, 2011 - 12:33 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Internet, google, chrome, browser
Google has been playing around with the "new tab" page in the beta and development builds of Chrome to streamline the interface, and the company has recently rolled one such update into the latest stable release of the popular browser.
The new tab page is the page that you are presented with when first firing up Chrome or hitting the new tab button(s). The new interface is much more streamlined than the old one, and has rearranged several items. The old interface showed everything all on one canvas; however, the updated new tab page has separated the most visited tabs from the Chrome Apps which now have their own page. Users are able to navigate between the most visited tabs page and applications page by clicking on the tabs at the bottom of the screen or moving the mouse to the side of the browser window and using the arrows that appear upon mouse-over.
Further, where the recently visited/closed web pages horizontal list resided below the most visited tabs on the old interface, in the new interface Google has decided to hide the recently used list. It can now be accessed by clicking on a menu item in the bottom right corner of the browser window.
Google has also made it a bit easier to organize applications. You can now click and drag applications around to organize them. When clicking and holding an application, a new recycle bin option appears in the lower right corner of the window that will allow you to remove applications. Removing is now a matter of clicking and dragging items into the "Remove from Chrome" area. This remove / uninstall feature is also available when clicking and holding on the most visited tabs on the tabs page. Finally, the various icons have been given a slight makeover and now are presented with a shiny mouse-over effect.
Google has provided a quick video overview of the interface changes.
Personally, after playing around with the new interface for a few hours now I prefer it to the old way of doing things as it allows for larger "most visited" icons due to having a greater percentage of the Chrome window area available to it (as opposed to the old interface where it was a bit crowded and things tended to fight to attention). Further, I rarely use the applications, so having them hidden away in their own section is okay with me. It definitely seems to have been (at least slightly) by tablets and touch interfaces; however, unlike Netflix's recent tablet inspired redesign i actually like the improvements Google has made. What are your thoughts on the improvements?
Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2011 - 03:30 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: store, music, mp3, itunes, Internet, google
Google seems to be slowly surrounding itself in our online lives, and their soon to be released Google Music Store is sure to ensnare users even more tightly (not that that’s necessarily a bad thing). The company’s music service has been in beta for a few months now and currently operates as a virtual music locker and allows users to upload their music collection to Google’s servers so that they can stream their music to computers and mobile devices. Unfortunately, the lack of a store required users to buy their music elsewhere and rip or download and then upload their music to Google Music which was kind of a pain. A store is on the way; however, so not all hope is lost. To make the upcoming music store exciting, the company hinted at a mysterious “twist” that would accompany the launch of the MP3 purchase and download service.
According to Business Insider, a source who claims to be in the know has stated that the “twist” in the Google Music Store is not only a twist tie but is a huge space warping, planet sized twist that will allow users to share their purchased music with their friends and family. This is a huge leap into the current decade for the music industry, and is sure to be a popular feature for Google. Google is allegedly paying hefty upfront payment advances to the music industry for the rights to allow users to share music with others. It seems that streaming subscription services like Spotify and Zune have been successful in softening the outlook of the RIAA after all, at least to the point that allowing users to share their own music is something the music industry will at least consider for the right price (I apologize for the ire/tongue in cheek nature of this particular paragraph).
Unfortunately, the source was not able to detail exactly how this sharing service would work, but will likely involve the ability to share a link with a Google (+?) contact or over email that would then allow the recipient to stream the song for a limited amount of time (say 30 days?). Google being Google, the process may require or “suggest” that the user set up a Google Music account in order to listen to shared music, and thus get new users foot in the door and hopefully buy music to help Google overcome all the RIAA fees. In a further bit of bad news; while the large music labels are able to (bully) their way into charging for the rights to share music, smaller indie labels and independent artists will not be getting any piece of the Google money pie for sharing their music.
Have you gotten a chance to check out the Google Music beta yet? Personally, the sharing ability will be nice and will definitely push me into using the service a bit more than I do now, especially if I can coerce some of my friends away from Itunes so that we can share the new music we find with each other.
Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2011 - 10:32 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Internet, Comcast, computer
This week saw the national launch of Comcast’s internet connectivity program for low income families. As a result of the Comcast-NBC merger, the company was required to create a low cost option for families in the US to connect to the internet. Dubbed the Internet Essentials program, it is undoubtedly a good thing to come out of the deal despite the more nebulous aspects.
The Internet Essentials program entails a $9.95 plus tax per month cable connection with 1.5 Mbps download speeds and 384 Kbps upload speeds, which is a good value compared to more expensive DSL or slower dial up connections. In addition to the Internet connection, families who sign up will receive a voucher through Acer or Dell for a computer in the amount of 149.99 plus tax. While specific specifications of the computer have not been given, Comcast describes it as a netbook computer with Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and the Windows 7 Starter operating system. It may also be bundled with productivity software when available. Families will also have access to free training materials in print, online, or in person. The service will be available throughout the Comcast service area for eligible families. In order to qualify for the service, families must have at least one student eligible for free lunches through the National School Lunch Program, must not have any overdue Comcast bills or unreturned equipment, and the household must not have had Comcast service for the past 90 days. Unfortunately, those families with students who only qualify for reduced price (but not free) lunches will not qualify for the Internet Essentials program.
The ISP will begin taking customers starting in the 2011 to 2012 school year, and will continue taking on new customers for three years following the initial roll out. Customers who are already using the Internet Essentials service will continue to be eligible for it so long as at least one child is eligible for free lunches, they do not close their Comcast account, and they do not violate the company’s residential ISP service agreement.
I for one am glad to see Comcast offering this service as the Internet is becoming increasingly important for students as a learning, collaboration, and productivity tool. Students can now be on a more level playing field in their school work, and this is great news, even if Comcast was forced to offer it as a condition of their merger approval. If you are interested in or know a family that might benefit from the Internet Essentials service, please head over to the company’s website or call 1-855-8-INTERNET (1-855-846-8376) for an application.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 20, 2011 - 03:24 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: simulator, networking, Internet, cyber warfare
Our world is the host to numerous physical acts of aggression every day, and until a few years ago those acts have remained in the (relatively) easily comprehensible physical world. However, the millions of connected servers and clients that overlay the numerous nations around the world have rapidly become host to what is known as “cyber warfare,” which amounts to subversion and attacks against another people or nation through electronic means-- by attacking its people or its electronic and Internet-based infrastructure.
While physical acts of aggression are easier to examine (and gather evidence) and attribute to the responsible parties, attacks on the Internet are generally the exact opposite. Thanks to the anonymity of the Internet, it is much more difficult to determine the originator of the attack. Further, the ethical debate of whether physical actions in the form of military action is appropriate in response to online attacks comes into question.
It seems as though the Pentagon is seeking the answers to the issues of attack attribution and appropriate retaliation methods through the usage of an Internet simulator dubbed the National Cyber Range. According to Computer World, two designs for the simulator are being constructed by Lockheed Martin with a $30.8 million USD grant and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory with a $24.7 million USD grant provided by DARPA.
The National Cyber Range is to be designed to mimic human behavior in response to various DefCon and InfoCon (Informational Operations Condition) levels. It will allow the Pentagon and authorized parties to study the effectiveness of war plan execution as it simulates offensive and defensive actions on the scale of nation-backed levels of cyber warfare. Once the final National Cyber Range design has been chosen by DARPA from the two competing projects (by Johns Hopkins and Lockheed Martin), the government would be able to construct a toolkit that would allow them to easily transfer and conduct cyber warfare testing from any facility.
Image cortesy Kurtis Scaletta via Flickr Creative Commons.
Subject: General Tech | June 14, 2011 - 12:02 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: http, tcp, spdy, Internet
Google has been working on SPDY, a new protocol which is intended to speed up HTTP without forcing changes to existing websites or protocols. This application-layer protocol sits between HTTP and TCP, replacing neither instead translating for the application layer and the transport layer to optimize certain parts of the transaction. Specifically they hope to allow multiple connections over TCP, something that up until now is provided by a workaround in the browser which creates parallel connections as well as getting servers to push data to clients more effectively. They are also working to reduce latency by reducing the size of the headers that are transported which will be very important in the near future, not only as a way to speed up SSL connections but to help with the increased size of IPv6 headers.
Up until now SPDY has only been available for Chrome and even then only for certain Google sites which utilize the new translation protocol. Now Strangeloop is offering an online service as well as hardware which will allow you to implement SPDY without the need to change your website or host. The Register covers the long overdue change to TCP here.
"Strangeloop – a Vancouver-based outfit offering an online service for accelerating website load times – has embraced Google's SPDY project, a new application-layer protocol designed to significantly improve the speed of good ol' HTTP."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel: Chinese microprocessor development inefficient @ SemiAccurate
- Intel new server platform expected to start large replacement trend @ DigiTimes
- Games co Epic resets passwords after hack attack @ The Register
- Research @ Intel: The cloud's future is many-core and GPU accelerated @ Ars Technica
- Planar structure extends lifetime of memristor @ Nanotechweb
- Nikon COOLPIX S570 12MP Digital Camera Review @ ThinkComputers
Subject: Networking | June 12, 2011 - 04:24 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: networking, Lawsuit, Internet, Cisco
Cisco, the worldwide networking heavyweight, is now facing a lawsuit from three Chinese website authors for Harry Wu. Mr. Wu is a Chinese political activist who spent 19 years in Chinese forced-labor prison camps, according to Network World. The charges raised against Cisco allege that Cisco optimized its networking equipment and worked with the Chinese government to train them to identify and track individuals on the Internet that speak out against the Chinese government with pro-democratic speech.
In a similar vein, the networking company was presented with an additional lawsuit last month by members of the Falun Gong religious group. This previous lawsuit claims that Cisco supplied networking technology to the Chinese government with the knowledge that the technology would be used to oppress the religious movement. Falun Gong is religious and spiritual movement that emphasizes morality and the theoretical nature of life. It was banned in July 1999 by the Communist Party Of China for being a “heretical organization”. Practitioners have been the victims of numerous human rights violations throughout the years.
Cisco has stated on the company’s blog that they strongly support free expression on the Internet. Further, they have responded to the allegations by stating that “Our company has been accused in a pair of lawsuits of contributing to the mistreatment of dissidents in China, based on the assertion that we customize our equipment to participate in tracking of dissidents. The lawsuits are inaccurate and entirely without foundation,” as well as “We have never customized our equipment to help the Chinese government—or any government—censor content, track Internet use by individuals or intercept Internet communications.”
It remains to be seen whether the allegations hold any truth; however, Cisco has been here before and are likely to see further lawsuits in the future. How do you feel about the Cisco allegations?
Subject: Networking | June 8, 2011 - 10:19 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: networking, ipv6, Internet
As has been said numerous times throughout the Internet, the pool of available IPv4 (32 bit) addresses are running out. This is due to an ever increasing number of Internet users all over the world. In response to this, the standards for IPv4’s successor were developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force. The new IPv6 standard uses 128-bit addresses, which supports 2^128 (approximately 340 undecillion) individual addresses. Compared to IPv4’s 32-bit addresses, which can support up a little under 4.30 billion addresses (4,294,967,296 to be exact), the new Internet protocol will easily be able to assign everyone a unique IP address and will enable support for multiple devices per user without the specific need for network address translation (NAT).
Today is World IPv6 Day, and is the first widespread (live) trial of IPv6. Over a 24 hour period numerous large and small websites plan to switch on IPv6 to test for consumer readiness for the protocol. Big companies such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Youtube, and Bing are participating by enabling IPv6 alongside IPv4 to test how many users are able to connect to IPv6 versus IPv4. Led by the Internet Society, consumers and businesses are encouraged to help test the new IP protocol by visiting the participants sites and running readiness tests.
According to Network World, the trial has been going very well. They state that, according to Arbor Networks, overall IPv6 traffic volume has “doubled during the first 12 hours.” Further, Akamai experienced a tenfold increase in IPv6 traffic just before the event. Fortunately, this increase did not result in an increase of DDoS attacks, which Akami states were minimal. The June 8, 2011 event was used as a deadline of sorts by many businesses, and resulted in many large corporations getting their IPv6 protocol up and running.
While the event only lasts 24 hours, some large websites likely will continue to enable IPv6 alongside IPv4 addressing. Network Wold quotes Champagne in hoping more businesses will move to IPv6 after seeing the successes of the World IPv6 Day participants now that “everybody went into the water today and found out that the water is fine.”
It will certainly be interesting to see if the success continues and if consumers still on IPv4 can be made ready before the 32-bit address well runs dry, much like the move to digital TV broadcasting in the US saw many deadline push-backs. Are you ready for IPv6?