DNS Redirect Provision Suspended From SOPA (and PIPA)

Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2012 - 06:21 AM |
Tagged: SOPA, senate, security, pipa, Internet, house, freedom, dnssec, dns, Copyright, congress, bill

SOPA, the ever controversial bill making its way through the House of Representatives, contained a provision that would force ISPs to block any website accused of copyright infringement from their customers. This technical provision was highly contested by Internet security experts and the standards body behind DNSSEC. The experts have been imploring Congress to reconsider the SOPA DNS provision as they feel it poses a significant threat to the integrity and security of the Internet.

In a somewhat surprising move, on Friday, Representative Lamar Smith of Texas and Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont both announced that the DNS provisions included in their respective bills (SOPA in the House and companion bill PIPA in the Senate) would be removed until such time that security experts could provide them with more conclusive information on the implications of such DNS interference.

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Many sites are preparing protests to SOPA, most will be forced to shut down should SOPA pass.

As a quick primer, DNS (Domain Name System) is the Internet equivalent of a phone book (or Google/Facebook contact list for the younger generation) for websites, allowing people to reach websites at difficult to remember IP (Internet Protocol) addresses by typing in much simpler text based URLs. Take the PC Perspective website- pcper.com- for example; the website is hosted on a server that is then access by other computers using the IP address of "208.65.201.194." Humans; however cannot reasonably be expected to remember an IP address for every website they wish to visit, especially IPV6 addresses which are even longer numerical strings. Instead, people navigate using text based URLs. By typing a URL (universal resource locator) into a browser such as "pcper.com," the software then polls other computers on the Internet running DNS software to match the URL to an IP address. This IP is then used to connect to the website's server. Further, DNSSEC (the Domain Name System Security Extensions) is a standard and set of protocols backed by the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) that seeks to make looking up IP addresses more secure. DNSSEC seeks to protect look-up requests by using multiple servers to verify that the URL look-up returns the correct IP address. By securing DNS requests, users are protected from malicious redirects on compromised servers. Browsers will request IP addresses from multiple DNS servers to reduce the risk that they will receive a malicious IP address to a compromises site.

Security experts are opposed to the DNS blocking provisions in SOPA because the methods contradict the very secure environment that standards bodies have been working for years to implement. SOPA would require ISPs to filter every person's DNS requests (the URL typed into the browser), and to block and/or redirect any requests for websites accused of copyright infringement of US rights holders. This very action goes against DNSSEC and opens the door to a less secure Internet. If ISPs are forced to invalidate DNSSEC, browsers will be forced to poll otherwise untrusted servers and what is to stop so called hacking groups and others of malicious intent from compromising DNS servers oversees and redirecting legal and valid URLs to compromised web sites and drive by downloads of malware and trojan viruses? DNSSEC is not perfect; however, it was a big step in the right direction in keeping DNS look-up requests reasonably secure. SOPA tears down that wall with a reckless abandon for the well being of citizens. Stewart Baker, former first Assistant Secretary for Policy at DHS and former General Counsel of the NSA has stated that SOPA would result in "great damage to Internet security" by undermining the DNSSEC standard, and that SOPA was "badly in need of a knockout punch." Various other Internet experts have expressed further concerns that the DNS provisions in SOPA would greatly reduce the effectiveness of the DNS system and would greatly effect the integrity of the Internet including the CEO of (anti-virus company) ESET, the head of OpenDNS, and security experts Steve Crocker and Dan Kaminsky.

While the suspension of the DNS redirecting provisions is a good thing, such actions are too little and too late. And in one respect, by (for now) removing the DNS provisions, Congress may have made it that much easier to pass the bill into law. After all, it would be much easier to amend DNS blocking onto SOPA once it's law later than fight to get the foothold passed at all. From the perspective of an Internet user and content creator, I really do not want to see SOPA or PIPA pass (I've already ranted about the additional reasons why so I'll save you this time from having to read it again). While I really want to be excited about this DNS provision removal, it's just not anywhere near the same thing as stopping the entire bill. I can't shake the feeling that removing DNS blocking is only going to make it that much easier for Congress to pass SOPA, and for the Internet to become much less free. We hear about the death of PC gaming or any number of other proclamations made by content creators expressing themselves and exercising their rights to free speech every year, but PC gaming and most things are still around. Please, call and write you congressmen and implore them to vote against SOPA and PIPA so that the last proclamation I read about is not about the death of the Internet!

AMD Lightning Bolt Strikes At Intel's Thunderbolt

Subject: General Tech | January 13, 2012 - 09:40 PM |
Tagged: thunderbolt, miniDP, lightning bolt, cable

We saw AMD at CES, and they showed off some hardware; however, it seems they forgot to mention something. Anand managed to get a sneak peek at a certain Thunderbolt competitor that AMD is calling "Lightning Bolt." At first resembling a cable with mini-Display Port connectors, the AMD technology is able pass Display Port video, power, and USB 3.0 over a single cable.

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Image the Lightning Bolt cable looking like this miniDP to miniDP cable.

The company is currently working to integrate the Lightning Bolt technology into laptops and ultrathins as a cheap, single cable dock connection. The current implementation involves using a muxer to combine the USB, Display Port output, and power from the PSU electrical signals and pass it over a single miniDP cable. This miniDP cable will resemble current cables but will be electrically different by having two pins on the connectors altered. The dock that the Lightning Bolt cable connects to then splits out or demuxes the signals into a MiniDP connection and a USB 3.0 port(s). AMD is planning for the Lightning Bolt docks to cost about as much as current USB 3.0 hubs, which run about $40 USD at the time of writing. Unfortunately, there are some caveats to the technology including (possibly) limited power delivery and limits on the USB 3.0 connection. The company stated that Lightning Bolt transfers between the computer and USB 3.0 devices would be faster than USB 2.0 speeds, the connection would not support the full 5 Gbits maximum speed.

More information can be found here. Personally, I'm happy that AMD is stepping in despite the tacky name. At the very least, I can see Lightning Bolt connectors being features on AMD notebooks and providing useful competition to bring down the cost of Intel's Thunderbolt cables and hardware. It may also cause Intel to reduce any licensing fees that may be involved with OEMs building Thunderbolt into computers. Although the AMD technology is all electrical (no fancy optics), and thus inherently slower than Intel's theoretical maximum speeds, the cheaper hardware means OEMs will be more likely to integrate it into computers and consumers will be more likely to buy into it. Assuming, of course, that they can pull it off, "Lightning Bolt" sounds like a connection technology that is "fast enough" at a price I wouldn't mind paying a bit extra for in a laptop.

Apart from the name, which is a bit... let's say unoriginal, what do you think of the AMD tech?

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Anandtech

CES 2012 - Round 'em up! Ride 'em in!

Subject: General Tech | January 13, 2012 - 11:56 AM |
Tagged: trinity, corsair, CES, asus, amd

The Tech Report have been updating their coverage of CES 2012 as they try to sooth their aching feet, with pictures and information from three different vendors.  The most impressive, or at least most looked forward to, was seeing AMD's Trinity running in the wild.  We now know there will be two variants of the chip, one running with a 35W TDP and the smaller version at 17W.  Not only will they require less power than the current A-series, expect improvements in performance for both graphics and general computation. 

At Corsair's table is a case that looks to steal into NZXT's market with the $90 Carbide Series 300R which offers some nice features for a lower cost case,  Corsair is also beefing up their line up with the more expensive Obsidian Series 550D with many noise dampening features.  Finally they headed to ASUS and were given a peek at the newest audio technology that will replace the current Xonar models.

Remember to click on www.pcper.com/ces to see all of our hard work.

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Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

 

VIA Labs USB 3.0 Active Optical Cable Solution Demonstrated at CES 2012

Subject: General Tech | January 13, 2012 - 11:37 AM |
Tagged: CES, VIA, usb 3.0, thunderbolt

VIA Labs have teamed up with Fiber Optic Communications Inc., PCL Technologies Inc., OpTarget Solutions Co., Ltd. and Universal Microelectronics Co,. Ltd. to create a transceiver for use with USB 3.0 Active Optical Cables.   This USB 3.0 AOC seems to be what LightPeak, aka Thunderbolt was originally supposed to be.  Thunderbolt did arrive, it showed up quite a bit at CES 2012, but as a copper interconnect as opposed to the multiple wavelength fibre optics we were originally promised.  If the 5 gigabit portion of the name is truly indicative of transfer speeds then this type of USB connection will run about 7 times faster than the Thunderbolt devices that were shown at CES.  As well, the cables can be run for over 100 metres, so you might just be able to wire your house for USB after all. 

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Taipei, Taiwan, January 13, 2012 - VIA Labs, Inc., a leading supplier of USB 3.0 integrated chip controllers, today announced the VIA Labs VO510 5-Gigabit Optical Transceiver which is being showcased at CES 2012. The VIA Labs V0510 Optical Transceiver is used in USB 3.0 Active Optical Cables (AOC) which enables rapid data transfers and high-definition multimedia across distances of over 100 meters. Developed in collaboration with FOCI, PCL, OpTarget and UMEC, USB 3.0 AOC solutions offer exciting new possibilities in the use of USB 3.0 technology.

"This USB 3.0 AOC was designed to be fully compliant with SuperSpeed USB electrical specifications," said Dr. Janpu Hou, Vice President of FOCI. "We are very pleased to be a partner on this collaboration team. This partnership will accelerate the deployment of breakthrough USB 3.0 technologies and enable new applications for all USB 3.0 developers." As a partner of FOCI, Dr. Thomas Liu, President of PCL said "As the world leading optical transceiver ODM/CM company,PCL Technologies is excited to build and demonstrate the optical USB 3.0 cable in collaboration with VIA Labs and Foci. With the USB 3.0 AOCs providing higher data rates across much longer distances, we will enable usage scenarios in Digital Signage, Surveillance, and Zero Client applications."

"OpTarget works with leading system integrators, distributors, and OEMs in the development and delivery of Smart Digital Signage and Zero Client solutions for commercial, education, and industrial customers. With the ultra-thin profile and long reach of the new USB 3.0 AOC powered by VIA Labs' Optical Transceiver, we can now offer effective and low-cost solutions based on existing USB devices while providing an improved user experience, increased functionality, and greater system flexibility" said Mu Chen, President of OpTarget.

"The UMEC Thumb ONE USB 3.0 AOC can extend gigabit-speed USB 3.0 transmission distance up to 100m (330ft) with optical fibers. Since optical fibers carry light instead of electric impulses, they are highly resistant to electromagnetic interference and they do not radiate any of their own, making the USB 3.0 AOC an excellent solution for applications in Medical Imaging Equipment, Broadcast TV, and others where high-tolerance to interference is desirable" said K.T. Chao, Vice President of UMEC.

"We are very grateful to our partners, who worked closely with VIA Labs to bring the USB 3.0 AOC from concept to reality," said Jiin Lai, Chief Technical Officer, VIA Labs, Inc. "With the VO510 and our partner's AOC products at mass production readiness, we are looking to expand our coverage of other interconnects such as PCI Express."

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: VIA Labs

CES 2012: Android Design Style Guide released

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 13, 2012 - 02:54 AM |
Tagged: google, CES 2012, CES, Android

Android is known for many things: relatively free and open, flexible, creepy little green dudes, and patent warfare. Consistent design is not one of those points. This year, towards the end of CES, Google announced and released the Android application design guide for developers interested in creating for Ice Cream Sandwich. As a result of the announcement, Joshua Topolsky sat down with Matias Duarte, the Google director of Android user experience, for a video interview. Listen in for all of the tough questions and see Google sweat.

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Make it Google. Please, for the love of all that is holy... make it Google.

The purpose of the design specification is not to force developers into a single static design such as what could be seen in other, more curated marketplaces. The purpose of the design specification is to show people what Google considers a good design choice in an assortment of situations and hope that people follow suit. The idea is that when given a default choice a developer would need to go out of their way to invent their own solution; once enough developers follow suit it then becomes more difficult to invent your own solution as your customers are already conditioned to a standard method.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: The Verge

CES 2012: Windows 8 pre-beta hands-on at The Verge

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 12, 2012 - 04:40 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, microsoft, CES 2012, CES

It is no secret that Microsoft is not attending the next CES and they stated publicly that there will be minimal announcements relative to what we typically expect. While that is all true, Microsoft still has some news at the show to be indulged upon. Tim has already covered the upcoming release of Kinect to Windows for approximately the price of an entry-level 2GB RAM dual-core laptop; Microsoft had a piece of NVIDIA’s keynote to discuss Windows on ARM; and Microsoft showed a newer build of Windows 8. The Verge spent some time with a Microsoft representative and took video to show for it. Find out the future for the mice that are not just going to stick with Windows 7.

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Tiled of feeling blue?

Personally, I am not the biggest mobile user in the world: the majority of what I use my laptop for is to install a new version of Ubuntu, and even then I often skip versions. My cellphone usage is pay-as-you-go with $100 dollars on my account per year and somewhere around $90 of that expires or rolls over to the next year. I am not against mobile computing; I am just never in a situation where I need to use it. Keep those points in mind while I discuss Windows 8.

I am going to ignore the ability to re-skin the start screen despite it being a much desired feature. The more important development from an examination standpoint is how Microsoft expects the mouse and keyboard will fill in with Windows 8. You are able to navigate through the Metro interface left and right using your scroll wheel or alternatively hold ctrl to zoom in and out with the scroll wheel. Also on display is the top-to-bottom swipe gesture to kill an application for touchscreen users. Check them out in action for yourself at The Verge.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: The Verge

Samsung Transparent Smart Window Visible At CES

Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 04:39 PM |
Tagged: touch screen, smart window, Samsung, lcd, CES

Aside from "no compromises," "smart" was the big buzz word at this years CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2012. Among Samsung's "smart" products on display was a transparent touchscreen LCD monitor that doubles as a window named appropriately enough the Transparent Smart Window. The new concept design can be made transparent to see the world outside or completely opaque using virtual blinds that blank out the window with a window blind closing animation, even. Tested's Will Smith takes a look at the Samsung window in the video below.

The window display can show more than just blinds, however. It is capable of acting as a fully functional LCD display; playing movies, browsing the Internet, and displaying widgets and backgrounds are all possible. At CES, many sites noted the Twitter application and weather widgets for seeing just how much better the weather is elsewhere in the world. As it is just a concept, there were no specific specifications or hardware sets given. Pricing and availability are just as much up in the air (unknown). It is not likely that we will see this exact product come to market. On the other hand, the technology behind the concept device is what is important, and we will likely see it rolled into other future products. One such likely application of this technology would be to finally bring the HUD, or heads up display, to car windshields including image/light enhancement, back-up cameras, car information (speed, warnings, gps, ect), et al.

What other applications of this technology would you like to see come to market?

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: CNET

Microsoft Surpasses Yahoo In Search Usage For First Time

Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 12:13 PM |
Tagged: yahoo, search, microsoft, Internet

The Internet search market is a competitive space, as the more control over search a company has, the more money they can make from ad networks, analytic and tracking data, and having an influence over the development of the Internet. Google still remains handily in first place with a majority share of the search market. That's not anything surprising. Where competition heats up; however, is beneath Google where companies fight over the remaining 30% or so of the search market. Microsoft's Bing search engine is the latest major entrant to the market, and for the first time since it's launch it has surpassed Yahoo for the number 2 spot over the search market.

 

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Microsoft Bings Yahoo.  Also, transparency fail.

According to comScore, Bing and Microsoft's other websites reached 2.75 billion search requests in the United States during the month of December. This allowed Microsoft to slip past Yahoo, who's search engine fielded 2.65 billion requests. Microsoft now holds a 15.1 % share of US search traffic while Yahoo holds 14.5 %. To put those numbers in perspective, Google holds 65.9 % market share. This fight for a slice of the search market has come at a huge cost to Microsoft who's online division lost $7 billion USD in operating costs since June of 2008, according to CBS News.

Further, the article suggests that Microsoft and Yahoo will now continue to draft and pass each other for the next few years. More information can be found at the article linked above.  Have you used Bing, and will it ever have the oomph to take on Google? I personally use Google for the majority of the time but Bing is an okay backup. The image searching is fairly good. I predict that a Bing powered Windows search box (offer internet results from bing in Explorer if no files matching keywords are found, for example) would be interesting and help Microsoft to maintain a search market presence, but don't let the EU find out. What are your thoughts on Microsoft taking second place? Will they be able to maintain their position?

Source: CBS News

Took you long enough! EVGA finally shows off the dual socket SR-X

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 12, 2012 - 12:11 PM |
Tagged: SR-X, lga2011, evga, CES

EVGA's dual LGA 1366 SR-2 motherboard has been on the HWLB Extreme System for a while now, even as the Dream system continued to change since there has not been a new high performance dual socket motherboard ... until now.  The EVGA SR-X should be replacing the board soon, paired with some LGA2011 Xeon processors.  It will not be the Core i7-3930K Sandy Bridge-E CPU however, even though they are essentially trimmed down Xeons they are not designed to work in tandem.  Strangely the memory is not balanced between the two sockets, with 4 DIMM slots near one socket and 8 near the other, though space is tight on the board as there are also 7 PCIe 16x slots.  Check out the pictures of this board and other EVGA displays at Legit Reviews.

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"It doesn't seem all that long ago that we were able to get our hands on the EVGA Classified SR-2 motherboard. It featured dual Intel LGA1366 sockets and support for Intel Xeon processors. During our meeting with EVGA this morning, the revealed the successor to the SR-2, the SR-X! The EVGA SR-X is a dual socket LGA2011 motherboard once again for Xeon processors. If you're hoping to use your Intel Sandy Bridge-E processor, unfortunately it won't work with a pair of them due the single QPI design of the Sandy Bridge-E processors."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Microsoft Releasing Kinect for Windows And SDK On February 1st, 2012

Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 11:18 AM |
Tagged: xbox, windows, voice, software, PC, microsoft, kinect, gestures

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced at the Consumer Electronics Show that on February 1st, the new Kinect sensor for Windows would become available for purchase. In addition to the new Kinect for Windows sensor hardware, Microsoft is releasing an official SDk or Software Development Kit. Having the SDK installed on a Windows operating system will be required in order to use Kinect software applications. Currently, there are no (Microsoft official) consumer applications using Kinect; however, official hardware and an official SDK will surely spur software development.

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Microsoft is confident that the launch of the SDK and specially tuned hardware will spur development of software. According to MSNBC, the company is working with over 200 companies to develop software applications for Windows using Kinect. Microsoft's partners include Toyota, Mattel, American Express, and United Health Group. These corporate partners seem to indicate that initial Kinect applications will be designed for consumers to use in a business setting, say on a sales floor of car dealerships, at hospitals, or point of sale devices (maybe American Express is planning a "card swipe" application where holding the card up to the Kinect can be used to purchase items. Software for consumers to use at home is also likely in the pipeline and users will see them in the future.

Due to the Microsoft Kinect for Windows sensor not being subsidized by Xbox 360 games and accessories, the PC version is $100 more than the Xbox 360 version, and will retail for $250 USD. Amazon currently has the device (for pre-order) here for a whole penny less at $249.99.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: MSNBC

CES Day 4 Podcast - 1/11/2012

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 11:04 AM |
Tagged: ultrabook, razer, podcast, nvidia, Intel, CES, amd

PC Perspective CES 2012 Day 4 - 1/11/12

Join us tonight as we talk about our final full day of CES 2012 - including yet more Ultrabooks, New products from Razer, and our closing thoughts on this years show.

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Matt Smith and Allyn Malventano

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

 

Source:

Raspberry Pi's ARM Powered Linux Computer Enters Manufacturing

Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 08:15 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, linux, computer, arm

The UK based charity behind the Raspberry Pi Linux computer, the Raspberry Pi Foundation, announced in a blog post that the two ARM 11 powered Linux computers have entered the manufacturing stage and are that much closer to going on sale. The two models, Raspberry Pi A and B, will be $35 and $25 respectively. The difference between the tow models is that the cheaper model A board has half the RAM at 128 MB and lacks an Ethernet port. Both models have an HDMI and analog RCA video output along with a USB port to attach a mouse and keyboard.

Raspberry Pi.jpg

The charity elaborated that while they tried to find a manufacturing partner in the UK, they ran into cost and logistical issues. Specifically, tax and import laws in the UK requires any electronic components to be subject to import tax, making importing components into the UK and manufacturing it from within an expensive proposition. The Raspberry Pi Foundation was able to find a manufacturing plant that could produce computers for them at or above break even prices; however, they would not be able to produce enough units to meet demand- only a few hundred instead of the estimated 10,000 units the charity wanted. Further, because the manufacturing plants could only produce a few hundred units a month the release date would be months away instead of the 3 to 4 week turnaround offered by Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturing plants.

In the end, the charity chose to produce the Raspberry Pi computers outside of the UK in order to keep costs down and meet the release and quantity expectations. They will then use the savings to invest in further research and development and expanding the organization.

Are you guys going to purchase the Raspberry Pi computer when it comes out?

Source: Raspberry Pi

Asus Shows Off New Networking and Audio Equipment At CES 2012

Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 05:34 AM |
Tagged: wireless router, motherboard, audio, asus

At CES 2012 this week, popular motherboard manufacturer Asus showed off quite a few products. Among the new products, the company is releasing a wireless gigabit router, wireless repeater and Ethernet bridge, a new motherboard, and the Republic of Gamers (ROG) Xonar Phoebus audio sound card set.

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The two new wireless products are the Asus RT-N66U, which is a dual band Wireless N Gigabit router, and the Asus EA-N66 Wi-Fi Ethernet bridge. The RT-N66U is a dual band Wireless N router that promises up to 900 Mbps over Wi-Fi thanks to two simultaneous Wireless N streams of 450 Mbps maximum each. One stream is done at 2.4 GHz and on the other stream data is broadcast and received on the 5 GHz spectrum. Asus has bundled the router with 26 dbm Wi-Fi amplifiers to extend the network's range. Other hardware includes three Wi-Fi antennas on the rear of the device, a four port Gigabit Ethernet switch, WAN port, two USB ports, power button, power input, and reset button. The front and top of the router shows off a stylish black pattern, blue status LEDs, and the Asus RT-N66U "Dark Night" name/logo while the back/bottom of the router contain plenty of ventilation ports and a stand to hold the router vertical. On the software side of things, the router features QoS, or Quality of Service, traffic management that the company claims can address up to 300,000 data sessions, eight SSIDs (for setting up guest networks, for example), and the company's ASUSWRT firmware. Downloading files without needing a PC and remote management of USB devices are also features.

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The EA-N66 is a wireless Ethernet bridge and Wi-Fi access point. Under the hood of the rather (shall we say) stylized design, it is capable of using either the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz wireless spectrum in 450 Mbps bands. Asus claims that when the repeater is paired with their new router, "the EA-N66 gives gamers incredible network speeds and coverage for multi-player gaming sessions."

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As Asus demonstrated for us at CES, their new Rampage IV Formula motherboard features a SupremeFX III sound card chip connected to the rear audio ports by traces on their own PCB layer. This "moat" of traces (that light up red, even!) being on a separate PCB layer helps to eliminate interference caused by the other electrical components on the board. Now, you get isolated sound without needing to take up a PCI-E slot. In the video below, Asus shows off the feature.

The Rampage IV motherboard also comes with a bundled headphone amplifier dubbed the ThunderFX. It provides up to 120 dB of amplification and can support up to 600 Ohm high end headphones. The amplifier is EMI shielded and with ENC support, the ThunderFX has dedicated channels for headphone audio and in-game voice chat. Further, the box is compatible with both PCs and game consoles (PS3 and Xbox 360), and enables regular PC gaming headsets to be used with the consoles. Last up, it has three audio presets for FPS, RTS, and Racing games.

ASUS_Xonar Phoebus.jpg

Asus is also showing off the Xonar Phoebus sound card and breakout box for gaming under the company's Republic of Gamers brand. The set includes a PCI-E sound card capable of driving 600 Ohm headphones and a SNR (signal to noise ratio) of 118 dB. The card itself is shielding using, according to Asus, "carefully selected materials and perfectly shielded" to block EMI (electromagnetic interference) and and isolate itself from other issues caused by the other components in the case. The other piece of hardware is the Xonar Phoebus control box that integrates array microphones to reduce environmental noise when using voice chat and VOIP calls by "up to 50 percent." It further allows volume control and has Dolby Home Theater V4 surround sound and the GX3.0 gaming engine to enhance headphone audio when gaming.

ASUS_Xonar_Phoebus_control box.jpg

More information can be found here. Unfortunately, there is no word yet on pricing or availability.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Asus

Mozilla Considers Extended Support for Firefox: a Whole Year

Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 02:40 AM |
Tagged: mozilla, firefox

Just seven months after taking their firm stance against supporting back versions Mozilla is considering following a model similar to Ubuntu: every few major versions, flag one as being supported much longer than the rest and support it while innovating on your main versions. I still believe that supporting many enterprise customers is wasteful for a company like Mozila, but now that they have substantially more revenue as of their recent deal with Google I suppose it could help advertise Firefox outside of work as well.

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Firefox installments versus long running media franchise installments.

Yeah I was VERY conservative with Final Fantasy... I know.

John O’Duinn, current director of Release Engineering at Mozilla, wrote about the proposal in his personal blog last October and discussed attempts to compromise between long-term support and Mozilla’s current release plan. It is still quite early to tell what they will ultimately come up with and whether it will mend relations with their enterprise customers, but it looks as though Mozilla will not follow their original decision to focus on the present and future at the expense of those reliant on the past.

Source: Mozilla Wiki

Microsoft Rereleases Update to Improve Bulldozer... yeah.

Subject: General Tech, Processors | January 11, 2012 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: windows, processor, microsoft, cpu, bulldozer, amd

Let us take a little break from the CES news with a load of bull -- a download of Bulldozer. If you have an eerie sense of being in this situation before then you may in fact have a bad memory as it did in fact happen and it was only about a month ago. Microsoft released an update in mid-December to optimize their operating systems for AMD Bulldozer technology; that patch disappeared without any listed reason. As of today, we have access to both the patch as well as most of the reason for the delay in the first place.

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You know: part of me wants to see a Bulldozer go 100MPH, and another part of me fears greatly.

The first order of business is to explain to those who have an AMD FX series, Opteron 4200 series, and/or an Opteron 6200 series processor how to increase their potential performance: KB 2646060 and KB 2645594 each contain a patch which will optimize Windows to the Bulldozer architecture for most users when both are applied.

It turns out that Microsoft pulled the Bulldozer update last month when discussions with AMD revealed that the patch would not provide the promised performance increases for most users. The problem specifically centers on the Core Parking feature within Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2: after the hotfix in December was applied, Core Parking would still interfere with Bulldozer’s design by attempting to save power and sleep cores that were unused without understanding that Bulldozer cores are not typical cores. With Core Parking disabled for Bulldozer-based CPUs either through this hotfix or by changing your performance profiles to “High Performance” from the often default “Balanced” you would allow Bulldozer to run as it actually desires to run. According to how these bulletins are worded, should you have been on “High Performance” profile back in December before the hotfix was pulled you would have experienced what should only have been available starting today.

These performance increases are not for every application, however. AMD has stated that applications which are more sparsely multithreaded would benefit most from the update.

Workloads that are moderately threaded have the potential for uplift. This could include virtualization, database, or transactional environments that are “bursty” – a mixture of light and heavy transactions, or legacy applications that are by nature not very threaded. The more heavily threaded the application, the less the likely the uplift.

My intuition knowing this as well as the Core Parking issue is that once Windows finally wakes the Bulldozer core, your experience is maximal with the December patch; applications which only temporarily become multithreaded either do not wake the proper portions of the processor or wake the processor in time to be of maximum benefit.

It appears as if the removal of the hotfix last month was simply because AMD believed that while the patch was effective, it would not be correctly applied to the vast majority of customers without a second hotfix and thus give the appearance of little to no real benefits.

Source: AMD Blogs

LucidLogix Announces XLR8 Tech To Improve Embedded and SoC GPU Performance

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 11, 2012 - 03:48 AM |
Tagged: virtualization, tegra, Lucidlogix, gpu, gaming, game, embedded, CES2012, CES

Earlier today Lucid (LucidLogix), the company behind quite a few GPU virtualization technologies, announced yet another piece of GPU virtualization software. This time; however, instead of wrangling as much performance as possible from multi-GPU beasts, this technology- codenamed "XLR8"- is aimed at the mobile market of tablets, smartphones, and laptops with integrated graphics. Such products are powered by integrated GPUs in AMD's APUs and Intel's Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors, and by the GPUs in mobile SoCs (system on a chip) like Nvidia's Tegra and ARM's Mali graphics processors. XLR8 uses "unique CPU multithreading" to feed the mobile GPUs as efficiently as possible.

xlr8_tablet.png

According to Lucid, many of the PC graphics issues are magnified when it comes to embedded GPUS including visual tearing, pipeline inefficiencies, power management, and artifacting. Offir Remez, president of Lucid further stated that most of the big, popular PC games have playability issues on mobile platforms and on computers with integrated graphics. "If it's got a GPU, we can improve the end user experience."

The company further expanded that the XLR8 technology works by disabling unnecessary and redundant processes in addition to "unique multithreading" to improve system (gaming) responsiveness up to 200 percent. The XLR8 software monitors battery drain and power draw while shutting down background processes to increase CPU frame generation and minimizing redundant GPU rendering processes.

If this sounds a lot like marketing speak, it certainly does. On the other hand, Lucid has been able to push some useful virtualization technology into desktops, so maybe mobile platforms are just the next step for the company. The company is currently demonstrating the XLR8 software in private at CES and is being tested by hardware partners.  Mobile SoC are getting faster and more powerful, and on battery powered devices there is always room for efficiency improvements.  Once reviewers manage to get their hands on some actual hardware, and XLR8 is past the concept/testing stage you can bet that people will have a better understanding of what exactly XLR8 is capable of.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Reddit Planning Blackout To Protest SOPA

Subject: General Tech | January 11, 2012 - 02:57 AM |
Tagged: SOPA, reddit, protect ip, forum

Popular forum and social website discovery site Reddit is very much against SOPA. They fear that the ease to which the possible law could be abused to censor free speech and take down entire website solely based on allegations without needing to prove anything in court. We reported earlier that some websites were considering the "nuclear option" of protesting SOPA by shutting down their sites and displaying messages imploring users to contact their congressmen and beg them to stop SOPA and Protect IP (the Senate version of SOPA).

sobrave.png

Viva la Reddit! (Source: Reddit blog)

Well, it seems as if Reddit is joining the fight to stop SOPA and will be blacking out the Reddit website from 8 am to 8 pm EST on January 18th 2012. They state in their blog that the choice to blackout the website was a difficult one; however, it is a necessary measure to force people into action. "We feel focusing on a day of action is the best way we can amplify the voice of the community."

While Reddit is a popular website with a lot of fans, a good number of them are internet savvy enough to have likely already complained to their congressmen. Until a mainstream site with as much reach as Facebook joins the blackout campaign, I fear that money will continue to speak louder than the words of constituents. More information on the blackout can be found here.

Source: Reddit

CES 2012: Razer's Project Fiona -- PC Gaming tablet PC tablet

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2012 - 08:24 PM |
Tagged: razer, CES 2012, CES

If you believe our title to be awkward, please glance downward a little at the concept image. While I do not want to lash on Razer for trying something that no-one has it must be said that aesthetically the concept must be altered. Hardcore PC Gamers are a unique breed, but I expect that even the most bold of gamers would be shy at holding this around in public. Now that we are past the design, let us look at what Razer claims in terms of expected hardware.

razer-fiona.jpg

It looks like Razer is fitting a bit into Booth Category One.

Razer is being very careful about giving out too many specific details due to the concept nature of the device, but they suggested that they aim for the following:

  • Intel Core i7
  • 10.1” 1280x800 display
  • Full Screen interface supporting multi-touch “hybrid” for PC Gaming.
  • 3-axis gyro, magnetometer, accelerometer
  • Force feedback
  • Dolby 7.1 surround sound
  • Wifi b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0

You should notice a lack of information about the expected video card but the screen resolution paired with the CPU choice should slightly indicate their intent.

What do you think? What changes, if any, would you request before you hand over your wallet?

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: RazerZone

CES 2012: EVGA parties like it's socket 2011 in Viva Las Vegas. Dual-socket SR-X mobo, UV Plus+ 39 video out for USB3, PSUs

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Cases and Cooling, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2012 - 07:22 PM |
Tagged: evga, CES 2012, CES

There are most commonly three types of booths in CES: a display of one or more new and innovative products to hope to blaze their very own trail, a display of one or more intriguing iterations on existing product lines, or a display of some sort of pasta or alcoholic beverage. This year EVGA appears to fit mostly into the middle category; I hear they make good chips, however. The three major iterations this year quite possibly could not be more diverse: a new dual-socket Xeon motherboard, new power supplies, and an update to their UV Plus+ USB video adapter.

EVGA-logo.jpg

There’s something ironic about HDMI and DVI products by EVGA.

Dual-Socket 2011 SR-X Xeon motherboard

EVGA-mobo.jpg

Not to be outdone by their old pizza box-sized components, EVGA announced their new SR-X motherboard to bring a product like the SR-2 to socket 2011. This time around they retain their 12 DIMM slots update their PCI-E slots to the third generation with 4-way SLI possible. You can also expect 8 SAS/SATA ports to connect a large number of hard drives at 6Gbps to your computer. It is clear that EVGA has aimed this PC motherboard at enthusiasts who want what they want and have the credit to get it.

1500W, 1000W, 750W power supplies

EVGA-psu.jpg

EVGA has made a few power supplies in the past so why not add a few more products to their portfolio? Partially pictured above is the 1000W unit that can provide 82A over the 12V rail -- which should be useful to pair with a Quad-SLI SR-X rig; and if not, there’s the 1500W one with a stated “customizable number of 12V rails” whatever that actually means.

UV Plus+ 39 video out by USB 3.0

EVGA-UV.jpg

The general masses regularly ask for methods to connect their computers to their HDTV through their USB ports and are routinely shocked to find that it is not a simple cable solution. Ponder that, USB cannot do everything… or can it? EVGA updated their UV Plus+ 19 with their UV Plus+ 39 to add support for dual-monitor output and USB3.0 for higher bandwidth, though USB 2.0 is still supported. There is no word on whether the maximum resolution would be reduced in dual-monitor mode. If you are worried about graphics acceleration over a USB device, the driver created links to your real video card thus you still have access to your GPU for processing.

Now we just need to find out about their video cards.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: PCPer

You call that a steering wheel SteelSeries?

Subject: General Tech | January 10, 2012 - 04:16 PM |
Tagged: input, steering wheel, steelseries, Simraceway SRW-S1

One tends to think of a steering wheel as a fairly simplistic device, with perhaps a few controls on it that do not directly relate to steering a vehicle, but for the most part it simply allows you to steer.  SteelSeries obviously thinks differently as you can see on their Simraceway SRW-S1 below.  It seems to possess more buttons than a gamepad, with speakers and a camera built in and accelerometres to allow you to use it in mid air.  Legit Reviews had fun reviewing the wheel and driving around tracks and their shoulders are much broader after a few hours of gameplay as well.

LR_Simraceway_SRW-S1_4.jpg

"I have a been a real-world racing fan for all of my life, growing up in earshot distance from a famous dirt racetrack in Southern California. I’ve always enjoyed NASCAR and more recently have come to love Formula 1 and World Rally Championships so when SteelSeries announced a new peripheral – their first ever racing wheel – I was more than a little skeptical. A racing controller without pedals for less than $120?!? What does SteelSeries, a manufacturer who is best known for headsets and professional mice know about racing? At this point I was thinking that a good comparison for the SRW-S1 might be my kid’s Mario Kart Wii wheel..."

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