Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | August 18, 2011 - 07:55 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: webOS, hp, Compaq
HP’s third fiscal quarter has entered on the last day of July and today HP will hold their conference call to announce the state of their company in the present as well as some of their plans for the future. We typically do not report on HP’s earnings as they tend to be uninteresting. This quarter is slightly different; HP has announced that they are considering spinning or selling off their PC hardware division. Along with the potential of seeing HP and Compaq computers no longer be HP one thing we do know for sure is that webOS, including Touchpads, will not be their saving grace as they are definitely dead.
At least we know they’re not betting their future in Palm.
It certainly seems a little brash for HP to all-of-a-sudden pull out of PCs altogether and I do not expect such a harsh event to occur. While it is possible that at some point HP might stretch and ultimately break ties with their PC division I do not see them just changing the locks on the doors and sending in the repo men. As for webOS it was pretty easy to see that there was not enough room in the market for them as an actual contender in the mobile space. We shall see if HP is capable of reusing their technology in another application or simply selling off webOS, potentially in pieces, to other players.
Update, Aug 18/2011 @ 6:28PM: The conference call has now ended and we have a little bit more information about the process. HP made it clear that for now PSG, the division responsible for HP and Compaq computers, tablets, and other consumer but non-printer devices, is still an operating division and will be for the forseeable future. However, over the next 12-18 months they have been authorized by the board to explore their options with spinning off or selling the division. The conference call also seemed to heavily emphasize their desire to shut down or spin off low margin divisions. To me, that sounds akin to a parent telling their misbehaving kid that someone's going to get a slap when they get home -- it is pretty clearly not the neighbors. One or two years down the road, we still may very well see HP do what IBM did with Lenovo.
In other news: WebOS' hardware division is dead and buried but they are still looking to utilize the software either internally, by licensing it to third parties, or selling it.
Subject: General Tech | August 18, 2011 - 02:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: shortage, llano, amd
Not all is well with AMD and GLOBALFOUNDRIES 32nm process as the yields have been so low as to effect the supply of Llano chips. Currently only two chips, the A8-3850 and A6-3650 are on the market, with three more models expected fairly soon. Since AMD beleives that there supply difficulties will be overcome by September the shortages should not delay the release of the new lower power chips. DigiTimes also mentioned some news about NVIDIA's 28nm products that makes the outlook for this time next year a little bleak.
"AMD's latest Llano-based processors are currently suffering from shortages due to the weaker-than-expected yield rates of the related 32nm process; however, AMD has already notified its partners that the shortage should be resolved by early September, according to sources from motherboard makers.
Due to the new platform's strong performance/price ratio, market demand for Llano APUs is rising gradually with sales of the compatible A75-based motherboards also expected to increase, the sources noted. However, because the supply of Llano APUs in July started turn tight because of weak 32nm yields, AMD currently has a lot of orders from the retail channel, but is unable to fulfill the shipments.
With AMD set to resolve its APU shortages in early September, many motherboard makers are already starting to increase their A75-based motherboard shipments.
In addition to the existing Llano CPUs, A8-3850 and A6-3650, AMD will launch three more 65W APUs, A8-3800, A6-3600 and A6-3500 at the end of the third quarter.
In additional news, although AMD, Nvidia and Qualcomm's 28nm chips finished tape-outs in June, and the companies are all ready to place orders in the second half, as demand from the retail channel remains weak, it is likely that the players will delay their orders to a later time, the sources added."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Researchers speed up organic semiconductors @ SemiAccurate
- AMD sweetens A-series APU launch with an SDK @ The Inquirer
- Linux 'is no longer the challenger', says Red Hat CEO @ The Inquirer
- Kodak EasyShare Max Z990 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Win a Toshiba Satellite C660-125 Intel 320GB 15.6 Inch Laptop @ Tech-Reviews
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 18, 2011 - 06:55 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Mojang, bethesda
So the next game for the Minecraft creators is called Scrolls or at least it was before Bethesda threatened to sue Mojang because the name is too close to their franchise’s name, “The Elder Scrolls”. While I would personally find a lawsuit from Blizzard more justified for the name Minecraft than Bethesda’s claim: even that would seem somewhat ludicrous. After some attempt at coming to some middle-ground on behalf of Notch, they finally laid down the gauntlet and requested to settle this intellectual property dispute in Zenimax’s court; Notch challenged Bethesda to a 3-on-3 deathmatch in their own Quake 3.
Fight to the deathmatch… what a good iDea
(characters from Bethesda and Mojang)
While ultimately intellectual property should not be such a hard-fought battle since its purpose is to foster creativity rather than stifle it, this certainly does have good publicity potential. I hope that regardless of this glove-slap’s outcome that Bethesda comes to its senses and realizes that they cannot own that breadth of the trademark and lets Mojang innovate in their indie corner. Failing that, BFG.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 18, 2011 - 04:26 AM | Scott Michaud
We just recently saw Tim write up a piece on a Trojan designed to force your computer to mine for Bitcoins and deliver the results to an attacker or someone the attacker wishes to receive the currency. The virus currently affects versions of Windows from 98 straight up through Windows 7 and shows just another way that viruses are being used to make money. That was not always the case -- at one point viruses were almost always about making you aggravated in some way shape or form, at least until people figured out how to make money from someone else’s computer.
Mined the intrusion? Just a bits.
So back in 2000, back before the forums could remember your username, what antivirus software should you use? Personally I didn’t use any as I figured the occasional reinstall of Windows was enough if I got nailed by a virus. For the others who used Antivirus software, which did they choose? PC-Cillin 98 was the choice of a K7M motherboard owner because the K7M motherboard chose it. Norton and McAfee were still around back then though Grisoft, later AVG, made its niche as the free antivirus back then as well. F-Secure got a nod for picking up something that both McAfee and Norton couldn’t. Eventually the thread slipped on some Black Ice and started talking about Firewalls which are now mostly irrelevant due to routers.
New Trojan.Badminer Malware Steals Your Spare Processing Cycles To Make Criminals Money At Your Expense
Subject: General Tech | August 18, 2011 - 03:02 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: trojan, opencl, mining, Malware, gpgpu, bitcoin
A new piece of malware was recently uncovered by anti-virus provider Symantec that seeks to profit from your spare computing cycles. Dubbed Trojan.Badminer, this insidious piece of code is a trojan that (so far) is capable of affecting Windows operating systems from Windows 98 to Windows 7. Once this trojan has been downloaded and executed (usually through an online attack vector via an unpatched bug in flash or java), it proceeds to create a number of files and registry entries.
It's a trojan infected bitcoin, oh the audacity of malware authors!
After it has propagated throughout the system, it is then able to run one of two mining programs. It will first search for a compatible graphics card, and run Phoenix Miner. However, if a graphics card is not found, it will fall back to RPC miner and instead steal your CPU cycles. The miners then start hashing in search of bitcoin blocks, and if found, will then send the reward money to the attacker’s account.
It should be noted that bitcoin mining itself is not inherently bad, and many people run it legitimately. In fact, if you are interested in learning more about bitcoins, we ran an article on them recently. This trojan on the other hand is malicious because it is infecting the user’s computer with unwanted code that steals processing cycles from the GPU and CPU to make the attacker money. All these GPU and CPU cycles come at the cost of reduced system responsiveness and electricity, which can add up to a rather large bill, depending on where you live and what hardware the trojan is able to get its hands on.
Right now, Symantec is offering up general tips on keeping users’ computers free from the infection, including enabling a software firewall (or at least being behind a router with its own firewall that blocks unsolicited incoming connections), running the computer as the lowest level user possible with UAC turned on, and not clicking on unsolicited email attachments or links.
If you are also a bitcoin miner, you may want to further protect yourself by securing your bitcoin wallet in the event that you also accidentally become infected by a trojan that seeks to steal the wallet.dat file (the file that essentially holds all your bitcoin currency).
Stay vigilant folks, and keep an eye out on your system GPU and CPU utilization in addion to using safer computing habits to keep nastly malware like this off of your system. On a more opinionated note, is it just me or have malware authors really hit a new low with this one?
Subject: General Tech | August 17, 2011 - 09:40 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: wireless mouse, low power, apace
The Apacer Blue Engine Mouse M721 will not impress gamers looking for huge DPI ratings. What separates it from the rat pack are three power saving modes which allow Real World Labs to use the mouse and its two AAA batteries over 4 days of fairly heavy usage without draining it. As well, it utilizes Bluetooth so you do not have to worry about lines of sight while you are using, especially handy as the mouse wil function on any surface. Just don't sit at a table with the laptop on top while using the mouse on your jeans below the table ... it will look bad.
"The latest Blue Engine Mouse M721 by Apacer may not dazzle you with its speed and features but its blue engine tracking sensor and three power saving modes are more than sufficient enough to give it an edge over similar wireless solutions."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The New Razer Mamba (4G, Dual Sensor) Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Tt eSPORTS Meka Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review @ eTeknix
- SteelSeries Xai Medal of Honor Edition Mouse Review @ t-break
- XEBEC tech M-Touch Wireless Optical @ XSReviews
- CM Storm Inferno Gaming Mouse Review @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech | August 17, 2011 - 06:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: crysis 2, dx11, tessellation
The Tech Report took an indepth look at the "Enhanced, bionic Jersey barrier in DirectX 11" recently. The original Crysis is still famous for its ability to crush even the best GPUs that were available when it was originally released and its continued ability to do so at very high resolutions. Now that Crysis 2 has power slid out of it's console roots and we PC gamers received not only support for DX11 but also a high resolution texture patch which helped the game with its visual impact, it seemed worthwhile to investigate the actual changes to the process used to draw images in Crysis 2. That lead to the discovery of not only the world's most detailed concrete barriers but also the realization that whether you can see it or not, water is being rendered in painstaking detail.
A hydrologist's dream
"When we fired up Crysis 2 in its DirectX 11 "ultra" quality mode, we saw that some obvious peaks were related to the creation of tessellated objects. Not only could we see the hull shaders used in the first stage of tessellation—proof that tessellation was in use—but we were also able to see the polygon meshes output by the tessellation process. We noticed some of the same things Damien pointed out, along with a few new ones, including one of the true wonders of this game's virtual world."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Contemporary Graphics Cards in Crysis 2 DirectX 11: Crysis 2 Revisited @ X-bit Labs
- PC Age of Empires Online review: give nothing, take from them everything @ Ars Technica
- Section 8 Prejudice Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition: 3D Vision Tested on all NVIDIA GTX 500 Series Video Cards @Hi Tech Legion
- Minecraft Pocket Edition Brings Indie Game to Android @ Wired
- Serious Sam 3 PC hands-on: constant, awesome chaos @ Ars Technica
- Counter Strike back with Global Offensive @ HEXUS
- Modern Warfare 3 To Have Dedicated Servers @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- RageGage Desktop Computer Gaming Toy @ TechwareLabs
- iPhone App of the Week: Zombie Gunship @ t-break
- Catherine PlayStation 3 @ Tweaktown
Subject: General Tech | August 17, 2011 - 06:03 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: security, fud, tracking cookie, super cookie, ETag value
Of course, very soon after the technical documentation of the trick was released to the net KISSmetrics claimed that they were completely innocent and that it was all a misunderstanding. According to the CEO of KISSmetrics the company has never tracked anyone nor shared the information with a third party, so either the company never plans to ever make any money or he is being very specific in his definitions of what "is is". Even better, they claim not to use ETag values at all only first party cookies. As well, they claim support for the Do Not Track header and a "consumer-level opt-out" for their tracking as well. That is disingenuous in that there is no sign of how to start the opt out process on their site, nor is there any clear way that they could identify you in order to let you opt out without a cookie or ETag placed on your machine in the first place.
The Do Not Track header is a good idea, but in addition you should consider browser add ins such as BetterPrivacy, NoScript and Ghostery as essential and perhaps even get used to running Chrome in Incognito mode, if you do not want to be trapped. Don't use them to disable the ads which fund your favourite websites, they should be used to identify and possible block violations to your privacy only. You can follow the link at The Register if you would like to see the technical research that has lead to these questions about KISSmetrics.
"A privacy researcher has revealed the evil genius behind a for-profit web analytics service capable of following users across more than 500 sites, even when all cookie storage was disabled and sites were viewed using a browser's privacy mode."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Observations on the Google-Motorola Purchase @ AnandTech
- GPGPU Bitcoin Mining Trojan @ Slashdot
- Kingston Scavenger Hunt Contest @ Bjorn3D
Subject: General Tech | August 16, 2011 - 04:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ultrabook, Intel
There has been a bit of talk on the PC Perspective front page about Intel's new Ultrabook form factor and if it can profit Intel to release in a market that already has Apple firmly embedded in the minds of consumers as the "thin" guys. First were the complaints from manufacturers that the bill of costs for an ultrabook was in the neighbourhood of $1000, which would put the price of sale above the competitions. Intel then responded with a claim that the 11" and 13" ultrabooks with a thickness of 18mm will be between $493 to $710 to manufacture and the larger 14" to 17: inches, 21mm thick models will run between $475 and $650.
That price disparity seemed a little odd, as there was no explanation from Intel about where the manufacturers got their maths wrong nor an announcement of price drops from Intel to make up the difference. What we did see was a promise by Intel to provide $300 million in funding to those who develop technologies to further the ultrabook form factor, which might help offset some of the costs of manufacturing but certainly not enough to reduce the bill of sales by a third or more.
Now the waters are even further muddied as we hear today from Digitimes that Intel is refusing a request by manufacturers to cut the price of the CPU models which will be found in ultrabooks by half. Instead Intel is willing to drop the price by 20%, along with some marketing subsidies which will help once the product makes it to market but which will not lower the cost of the bill of materials at all. That is not going to help make the ultrabook a good investment for the first-tier manufacturers to develop. Add to that concern the fact that Intel's coming ultraportable Oak Trail platform, with paired Atom Z670 CPUs costs almost four times as much to produce as a Tegra 2 machine, even the discount that Intel refused is not going to make them attractive to sell.
"Intel's Oak Trail platform, paired Atom Z670 CPU (US$75) with SM35 chipsets (US$20) for tablet PC machine, is priced at US$95, already accounting for about 40% of the total cost of a tablet PC, even with a 70-80% discount, the platform is still far less attractive than Nvidia's Tegra 2 at around US$20. Although players such as Asustek Computer and Acer have launched models with the platform for the enterprise market, their machines' high price still significantly limit their sales, the sources noted.
As for Ultrabook CPUs, Intel is only willing to provide marketing subsides and 20% discount to the first-tier players, reducing the Core i7-2677 to US$317, Core i7-2637 to US$289 and Core i5-2557 to US$250.
As for Intel's insistence, the sources believe that Intel is concerned that once it agrees to reduce the price, the company may have difficulties to maintain gross margins in the 60% range and even after passing the crisis, the company may have difficulty in maintaining its pricing. Even with Intel able to maintain a high gross margin through its server platform, expecting Intel to drop CPU prices may be difficult to achieve, the sources added."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Hard Truths About HTML5 @ Slashdot
- Heathkit Getting Back In The Kit Business @ Make:Blog
- Shuttered SETI reboots ET pursuit @ The Register
- Two Years With Linux BFS @ Phoronix
Subject: General Tech | August 16, 2011 - 09:05 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: software, mozilla, firefox, browser
A new bug report on Mozilla's Bugzilla website indicates that the versioning of the popular web browser will be hidden from the users in future builds. Specifically, bug 678775 was posted late last week by Asa Dotzler, and addresses the version number on Firefox's About page. The bug report recommends removing the specific version number in favor of a more general phrase such as "Firefox checked for updates 20 minutes ago, you are running the latest release," according to Asa. Firefox would then, ideally, check for an update whenever the About window was opened, to keep the update message current and the user running the latest build.
The current Firefox About page where version numbers are still listed.
While the specific version number will be removed from the About page, users would still be able to dig into the browser's less well known areas, such as the about:support configuration page, to see it.
On one hand, Firefox's new rapid-release schedule will make versioning a less efficient method of, well, versioning; however, the About page of an application has traditionally been the spot to find the version number, and removing the version number from what is essentially a version number information page seems counter productive. Firefox will likely be on version 7 before the end of the year, and considering version 5 was just released in June, the argument that version numbers are getting out of hand has some merit. With that said, a simplified message to users that they are, in fact, running the latest version is a good thing to implement, but does it necessitate no longer displaying the version number?
Personally, I enjoy knowing the specific version number of the applications I run, but I'm curious what you guys think; should the version number be buried?