SOPA Stalled Until Consensus Is Reached

Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2012 - 10:56 PM |
Tagged: SOPA, pipa, congress, Law, Copyright

Everyone who contacted your congressmen and / or boycotted SOPA supporting businesses please give yourself a pat on the back because the controversial House bill, SOPA, has been stalled until a consensus is reached. Following Texas House Representative Lamar Smith's announcement that the DNS provision of SOPA would be removed, House Oversight Chairman Darrel Issa of California stated he was promised that the House would no longer vote on the Stop Online Privacy Act unless a consensus is reached on the bill.

Chairman Issa was quoted by The Hill in stating "While I remain concerned about Senate action on the Protect IP Act, I am confident that flawed legislation will not be taken up by this House."  He further assured people that a consensus on anti-piracy legislation would need to be reached before any bill would come to a vote. The Protect IP Act action he mentioned relates to the Senate bill proceeding as planned, without the DNS provisions however.

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This is a small victory for everyone who is not overreacting Big Content or being paid by Big Content to think that way.  SOPA has gathered a great many opponents during it's short time in the public eye, including popular sites Google, Yahoo, and Facebook, legislators Nancy Pelosy, Darrel Issa, and presidential candidate Ron Paul, and various civil rights groups.  Now that the bill has been stalled, it is not likely to proceed to a vote in its current form, and the Internet thanks everyone who contacted their congressmen to oppose the bill.  Keep in mind that the Senate version of the bill, Protect IP, is still proceeding; therefore, there is still work to be done.

Photo courtesy Amani Hasan via Flickr.

Source: The Hill

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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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."

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