Nice mousepad but who thought Slamepad was a good name?

Subject: General Tech | September 29, 2011 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: ModMyMachine, input, mousepad, slamepad

The ModMyMachine SlamePad is a 4mm thick aluminium rectangle, 315 x 235 mm, with a rubber coating designed to let your mouse move at high speeds and still have the sensor properly register the movement.  The pad comes in 10 different colours to ensure it matches your tastes as well as your skill.  Mad Shrimps do point out that aluminium pads are noisier to use than cloth pads but are much easier to clean and do tend to last quite a while longer.

slamepad.jpg

"The new SlamePad mouse pad from ModMyMachine is made from high quality materials, durable, and is designed for speed, by featuring a smooth top surface, which can be found in one of the 10 available colors."

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Source: Mad Shrimps

It's confirmed, NVIDIA won't be leading with the big Kepler

Subject: General Tech | September 29, 2011 - 03:39 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, GK107

As SemiAccurate reported back on the 21st, Kepler will be arriving in the form of a bottom to top release, not the top down that many enthusiasts were hoping for.  The reason for this is a popular topic of speculation, the most likely suspect being that this is not only a process change, to 28nm; it is also an architecture refresh and pulling off both of those together is a tricky proposition at the best of times.  VR-Zone also provides insight into the code names, with the P suffix indicating a lower powered chip, likely a replacement to the GT 500M while the E suffix denotes an enthusiast mobile chip more in line with what the GTX600M is currently.  More spoilers available in their post.

kepler_spacecraft.jpg

"GK107 is set to feature in four mobile GeForce SKUs - N13P-LP, N13P-GS, N13P-GT and N13E-GE. If these codenames sound familiar, it is because they have previously appeared in a leaked 28nm mobile GPU line-up. GK107 features a 128-bit memory interface, and supports DDR3 and GDDR5 memory. The first three GK107 based SKUs (with a "P" suffix) will likely succeed the GeForce GT 500M series, and will presumably be branded GeForce GT 600M series. The top GK107 part, N13E-GE, may succeed GTX 560M and be part of the GTX 600M series, as denoted by the "E" suffix (Enthusiast). In addition, GK107 will also be part of mobile Quadro SKUs - N14P-Q1 and N14P-Q3."

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Source: VR-Zone

Gentlemen, start your graphics engine; comparing GPU performance in F1 2011

Subject: General Tech | September 28, 2011 - 06:28 PM |
Tagged: gaming

[H]ard|OCP tested F1 2011, the latest and greatest racing sim which supports DX11 and should be a way for new graphics cards to show off their stuff.  On the block are NVIDIA's GTX 580, 570 and 560Ti along with AMD's HD6970, 6950 and 6870 paired with the stalwart Intel Core i7 920.  As their testing showed, the game did not end up stressing the GPUs as much as they thought the game would and summed up their testing with "If you're going to play F1 2011 on a 30", 2560x1600 or 1080p monitor, you don't need anything more expensive than an AMD Radeon HD 6950 or an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570."

As well, Ryan has some really good news for Battlefield 3 fans; he ordered a 64 player dedicated server for the Fragging Frogs, as well as publishing a look at the performance of the beta.

H_F1antialias.png

"F1 2011 was just recently released, this new game supports DX11 out-of-the-box, and is based on the newer EGO 2.0 game engine, but that may not mean it's all that graphically intense. We test performance on six of today's video cards so you will know what to expect in terms of performance. Comparing to F1 2010, we found some surprises."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

FeTRAM is higher and lower; gives the best of both worlds

Subject: General Tech | September 28, 2011 - 05:02 PM |
Tagged: ram, FeTRAM, low power, flash

There's a new type of Flash RAM looking to make its name on the street called FeTRAM, which sounds as interesting as the phase change memory that we've been hearing about.  It is an improved version of Ferrous RAM, which is very fast and uses very low power but uses a destructive reading technique.  The T in the new RAM stands for transistor, so instead of the charge on the memory cell being negated by a read, the transistor will hold onto the charge so that the data can be held long term.  That spells the difference between a memory module good only for RAM and a module that can be used in an SSD.  The Register points to an article citing a 99% reduction in power usage when compared to current flash memory technology.

ElReg_fetram.jpg

"Nanotechnology boffins are exploring a new type of nonvolatile memory that not only has the potential of being faster than today's flash RAM, but also requires 99 per cent less energy.

Called ferroelectric transistor random access memory – FeTRAM, for short – the scheme is based on a new type of transistor that combines silicon nanowires with an organic ferroelectric polymer – P(VDF-TrFE) – that switches polarity when an electric field is applied to it."

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Source: The Register

Boost the audio performance of your laptop with Creative's new USB DAC

Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2011 - 06:31 PM |
Tagged: Creative, X-FI HD USB, usb audio, audio, digital audio converter

It has become commonplace to see USB headsets that can be plugged into any system and will work without drivers needing to be installed.  That has not been widely spread to actual soundcards yet but Creative is changing that with the release of the X-FI HD USB, which does need drivers but should happily function on any machine.  For under $100 you get a small box which acts as a headphone amplifier and mic receiver but can also take audio from almost any source to be recorded to your PC.  It is a really good deal for a Digital Audio Converter, especially for notebook users which is why [H]ard|OCP heartily recommends the device for those looking to easily boost their audio performance.

H_CreativeUSBaudio.jpg

"Creative's latest sound card is an external model that sports a USB interface and boasts high quality digital, analog, and dedicated headphone connectivity options. We tell you if this may be the audio upgrade that laptop users and those of you with no free expansion slots in your desktop PC have been looking for."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Interrupting Oktoberfest to run Mesa benchmarks under Linux

Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2011 - 05:56 PM |
Tagged: linux, mesa, HiZ, Intel, sandy bridge

Phoronix are dedicated to testing out the current limitations of Linux and the graphics performance Sandy Bridge is capable of, so much so that they abandoned the joys of Oktoberfest to test the new implementation of hierarchical Z support for Intel's Mesa DRI driver.  Specifically they wanted to see the improvements made to the performance of the graphical portion of a Core i5 2520M.  The new implementation did well, with improvements across the board though more impressive in some tasks that others.  Read on to see what you can expect from the new Mesa driver.

oktoberfest.jpg

"While there are still several days left of this year's Oktoberfest, to take a short break this morning from benchmarking the wonderful beer, food, and Bavarian females, here are benchmarks of the new Intel HiZ Linux support. Just a few days ago a new, nearly ready patch-set was published for implementing hierarchical Z support within Intel's Mesa DRI driver."

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Source: Phoronix

Still hope for SSL, the web ain't dead yet

Subject: General Tech | September 26, 2011 - 05:20 PM |
Tagged: fud, security, SSL

SSL and secure data transfer are wounded, but not dying quite yet if you use an elderly encryption protocol called RC4 or ARC4.  Current AES is suggested as the preferred way of encrypting data transfers, but the BEAST (Browser Exploit Against SSL/TLS) attack is capable of defeating AES encryption.  Unfortunately there are attack methods which are able to defeat RC4, specifically as it is implemented for WPA and WES in wireless networks.  Google informed The Register that they have been using RC4, although clients that attempt to connect which don't support that encryption method are offered the vulnerable AES method.  Google also pointed out the latest developer version of Chrome protects against the BEAST attack but don't mention when the main version of Chrome will protect users.

Broken_Key_Extractor.jpg

"The recommendations published Friday by two-factor authentication service PhoneFactor, suggest websites use the RC4 cipher to encrypt SSL traffic instead of newer, and ironically cryptographically stronger, algorithms such as AES. Google webservers are already configured to favor RC4, according to this analysis tool from security firm Qualys. A Google spokesman says the company has used those settings "for years."

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Source: The Register

Yet another The Old Republic trailer, oh and release date

Subject: General Tech | September 26, 2011 - 07:49 AM |
Tagged: The Old Republic, Star Wars, MMO, BioWare

WOW there is a lot of anticipation building up towards EA’s The Old Republic. The MMO Star Wars fans seem to be swooning over after each successive trailer release has released yet another trailer. Made entirely in-game (with the likely exception of a few title sequences) the new trailer shows the breadth of the MMO: Ton-Ton to Wookie; Droid wars to Space battles. Then, with a final unexpected jolt of music, it is finally revealed to be released December 20th, 2011 in North America and December 22nd, 2011 in Europe. And the floor be once again littered with passed out piles of PC Gamers.

Those three Jawa got messed up!

While I am personally not an MMO player it looks to me like BioWare will do Star Wars fans justice with this offering. Few companies can spread their focus and make massive games like BioWare and that is one of the main attributes required to recreate an entire world for many different viewpoints to explore. Many were nervous about the fate of The Old Republic; BioWare was very cagey with disclosing their release dates which led to speculation of behind the scene troubles developing a game as massive as they promised. Now that a date is official and is as nearby as it is, it seems like BioWare was simply just keeping the mantra: “It is done when it is done.”

Source: BioWare/EA

Tweak Windows 8 With The Metro UI Tweaker Utility

Subject: General Tech | September 25, 2011 - 10:56 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, windows, Utility, ui, tweaker, microsoft, Metro, developer preview, beta

Are you trying out the Windows 8 Developer Preview that was released earlier this month and finding the new Windows Explorer Ribbon and Metro UI start menu frustrating? If so, Lee Whittington has just the tweaking utility for you!

A freeware tool developed for The Windows Club dubbed Metro UI Tweaker (for Windows 8) is the first third party tweaking tool for the upcoming operating system. It provides several tweaking options to make the transition to the Metro UI more palatable including the ability to completely disable (or enable) the Metro Start Menu and new Ribbon interface in Windows Explorer (which can also be easily hidden without the need for this tool via an icon in the corner). When disabling the Metro Start Menu and Ribbon, the Metro style Task Manager and new lock screen will also be disabled.

ui_tweaker.jpg

Such sweeping changes are not the only tweaks possible, however. The Windows 8 utility also lets you add power options including sleep, restart, and full shutdown to the Metro interface (when clicking on your user name’s picture), as well as adding any application or file to the Metro Start Menu.

Now at version 1.0, the Metro UI Tweaker is available for download from here for those adventurous enough to use a beta tweaking tool on a beta operating system. How do you feel about the new Windows 8 interface? Will you be checking out this tool? Let us know in the comments.

Don’t touch my wife! VIA sues Apple for patent infringement

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 24, 2011 - 08:08 AM |
Tagged: VIA, Patent, htc, apple

Do not let the title deceive you: we probably also find Apple and Patent Infringement stories as boring as you do; this case on the other hand makes it through our tightly meshed sift and into our news feed. VIA is best known for chipsets and specialty x86 processors. VIA’s influence was recently felt through the introduction of the netbook craze as a result of their VIA Nano CPU line which lead to the rise of the Intel Atom processor line. Recently VIA decided that they would set their sights on Apple and sue them over three patents. This is one of those cases where the what is not nearly as funny as the alleged why.

Apple-logo.jpg

Did Apple take a bite out of VIA’s forbidden fruit?

(Image from Wikipedia, modified)

If it seems to you that VIA is suing Apple over seemingly no reason then you probably are correct. There does not appear to be any public reason for VIA to go after Apple. HTC on the other hand has many reasons to sue, technically counter-sue, Apple. For those wondering where HTC came from in this discussion: the chairperson for HTC is the wife of the CEO of VIA Technologies. It very much seems like the whole reason for the VIA lawsuit is to protect his wife's company in their own lawsuits. If these patent lawsuits continue on their current trajectory then we might just be forced to sit every company down and settle like we did with similar issues back in the 90’s: Springer.

Did Apple bite off more than they could chew? (Registration not required for comments)

Source: PCMag