Crikey! Open source Android might be just a wee bit too open with your data

Subject: General Tech | May 17, 2011 - 05:23 PM |
Tagged: Android, security, clientlogin, impersonation, fud

Researchers at Germany's University of Ulm have discovered a vulnerabliity in Android's authentication protocol, known as ClientLogin which should protect your login credentials to apps like your contact list and your calendar.  It seems that while your request is encrypted, the response which includes your credentials is sent back in plain text, and those credentials remain valid for 2 weeks.  The new versions of Android have fixed this flaw but according to the story at The Register connections to Picassa still return in plain text.

 

android-fud.jpg

"The vast majority of devices running Google's Android operating system are vulnerable to attacks that allow adversaries to steal the digital credentials used to access calendars, contacts, and other sensitive data stored on the search giant's servers, university researchers have warned."

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Source: The Register

HP discusses "Memristors", doesn't discuss better name

Subject: General Tech, Storage | May 17, 2011 - 04:39 PM |
Tagged: memristor, hp

Not satisfied with resistors, capacitors, and inductors: scientists at HP are working on a new electrical element known as the memristor. A memristor functions as a resistor with the ability to change in resistance variable to the current placed on the element. What makes a memristor desirable for a company like HP is that the alterable resistence of the element can be used to store and more recently process data.

17-Memristor.png
Comes preloaded with Phantom of the Opera Browser.
Photo credits: R. Stanley Williams, HP Senior Fellow and Director of Information & Quantum Systems Lab; Michael J. Miller, PCMag
 
Memristors are noteworthy due to some intriguingly advantageous properties:
  • Switchable between on and off in a nanosecond
  • Capability to store up to 4 bits per ‘device’
  • Can process data on the device itself
  • Quite easy to manufacture for current chip factories 
Also noted is the statement that the multi-level nature of the memristor functions similar to how a human synapse functions. There are no shortages of technologies that claim to emulate human thought so my strong instinct is that this technology brings us no closer than any other technology. Regardless of whether this technology furthers AI development or whether it is hype; if the prospect of ridiculous speed and highly dense non-volatile storage pans true I have just two words: do want.
Source: PCMag

Build your own frickin laser beam; Shark catching instructions not included

Subject: General Tech | May 16, 2011 - 04:05 PM |
Tagged: laser, DIY, Altoids

Wired offers you several ways to build your own laser, some powerful enough to burn holes in paper and other flammables but all able to ruin the eyesight of anyone you point it at ... so bear that in mind.  They range from a build claiming you need no soldering for those less technical people who want a laser to one built in an Altoids tin.  The power of the laser varies depending on the build, some even use re-purposed DVD lasers as the light source.  Perhaps the most impressive build lacks wattage but being able to project vector graphics with lasers more than makes up for it.

64838967v3_240x240_F.jpg

"Even though lasers are as common as dirt now, appearing in everything from DVD players to supermarket scanners to computer mice, there's still a certain appeal to a beam of coherent, monochromatic light. Especially if it's dangerously powerful.

So it's no surprise that people can't resist playing with lasers, building their own, customizing them and, of course, setting stuff on fire with them."

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Source: Wired

Sony relaunches much of the PSN, other services oncoming

Subject: General Tech | May 15, 2011 - 08:29 PM |
Tagged: security, PSN

Some of you may have heard of a recent computer break-in to Sony Computer Entertainment involving some total theft of personal information and uniformly increased grades of University final exams. Approximately three weeks and a few missed deadlines later: portions of the PSN are finally back online and awaiting the eager college students who are finished with their finals to scratch the itch on all the games they missed in the outage. Just kidding, they are going to play Call of Duty again. 

15-Kaz.jpg
“… and then Kevin Butler crushed their heads.” (Quote accuracy disputed.)
 
Sony uploaded a video to Youtube on May 14th announcing that access has been regained to the following services:
  • Sign in for PSN and Qriocity
  • Online gameplay for PS3 and PSP
  • Music Unlimited (if you are a current subscriber) for PS3 and PC
  • Access to Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, and MLB from PS3
  • Friends list, chat, trophy comparison, and PlayStation Home 
Gamers returning to their PlayStation are required to change their account passwords prior to reconnecting to the PlaysStation Network and, as reported by PCMag, install a firmware update for their console. It has been a long and hard journey for fans of Sony’s console but it appears as if tangible progress has been made. Go forth, play Portal 2 Co-op, give Atlas a big hug, and let them eat cake. It has been a harsh famine.
Source: PCMag

Epic Games updates indie developers with May 2011 UDK

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Mobile | May 14, 2011 - 02:34 AM |
Tagged: udk, ios, game

Indie videogame developers have a great challenge keeping up with the industry. Technology is advancing quickly, the skills required to output games with the quality of the greatest developers keep diversifying, and the time required to detail each part keeps exploding. Though it is highly unlike that the next Call of Duty will come from a single person there are tool developers aiming to decrease the burden for projects of all sizes.

14-UDK.png

Do you think that was an onomatopoeia said by indie devs?

Epic Games released UDK in November 2009 to help developers make their own 3D PC games without needing to develop their own engine and associated toolset or needing to pay a hefty license fee up front. Since then, Epic has added support for iOS development to allow developers to create games for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. New versions have come out on an approximately monthly basis and May is no different.

This release is incrementally better than previous builds with a few usability tweaks like grouping objects and modifying them together, the ability to copy and paste vertex coloring, and performance importing art assets. As usual a few dozen documentation pages were updated to reflect changes in the game engine. While UDK does not remove the pain of making a good game, it does soften the blow a lot, which is all we got thus far.

Source: UDK

Tidbits from NVIDIA's Q1 conference call

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | May 13, 2011 - 10:49 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, conference call

NVIDIA made their quarterly conference call on May 12th which consisted of financial results up to May 1st and questions from financial analysts and investors. NVIDIA chief executive officer Jen-Hsun Huang projected that future revenue from the GPU market would be “flattish”, revenue from the professional market would be “flattish”, and revenue from the consumer market would be “uppish”. Huang did mention that he believes that the GPU market will grow in the future as GPUs become ever more prevalent.

13-1.jpg

How's the green giant doing this quarter? Read on for details.

For the professional market, NVIDIA discussed their intention to continue providing proof-of-concept applications to show the benefit of GPU acceleration which they hope will spur development of GPU accelerated code. Huang repetitively mentioned that the professional market desires abilities like simultaneous simulation and visualization and that a 10% code-rewrite would increase performance 500-1000%, but current uptake is not as fast as they would like. NVIDIA also hinted that GPUs will be pushed in the server space in the upcoming future but did not clarify on what that could be. NVIDIA could simply be stating that Tesla will continue to be a focus for them; they also could be hinting towards applications similar to what we have seen in recent open sourced projects.

For consumers, Huang made note of their presence in the Android market with their support of Honeycomb 3.1 and the upcoming Icecream Sandwich. Questions were posed about the lackluster sales of Tegra tablets but Huang responded stating that the first generation of tablets were deceptively undesirable due to cost of 3G service. He went on to say that the second wave of tablets will be cheaper and more available in retail stores with Wi-Fi only models more accessible to consumers.

13-2.jpg

nVihhhhhhhhhdia. (Image by Google)

The bulk of the conference call was centered on nVidia’s purchase of Icera though not a lot of details were released being that the purchase is yet to be finalized. The main points of note is that as of yet, while NVIDIA could integrate Icera’s modems onto their Tegra mobile processors, they have no intention of doing so. They also stated they currently have no intention of jumping into the other mobile chip markets such as GPS and near-field communications due to the lesser significance and greater number of competitors.

13-3.jpg

I think the new owners like the color on the logo.

The last point of note from the conference call was that they expect that Project Denver, NVIDIA’s ARM-based processor, to be about 2 generations away from accessible. They noted that they cannot comment for Microsoft but they do reiterate their support for Windows 8 and its introduction of the ARM architecture. The general theme throughout the call was that NVIDIA was confident in their position as a player in the industry. If each of their projects works out as they plan, it could be a very well justified attitude.

Source: NVIDIA

Did you know there are 17 year olds who've never seen Johnny Carson live on TV?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 13, 2011 - 10:31 PM |
Tagged: sorry, PC Perspective Forums, friday

After a few weeks hiatus from the Friday Forum Post, as work has been trying to kill me the past few Fridays, we return you to your regularly scheduled link fest.

In the Tech Talk Forum you can peruse a variety of topics, from decent printers to electric screwdrivers.  The Networking & Security folks are researching suspicious problems on a modem while the Hardware Leaderboard Forum is attracting suggestions from readers as well as comments about the Leaderboards its self.  Suggestions for PC builds is not the only user generated content on the Forums, though some posts are longer than others.

If you want to see how you rate against others, there is now a thread in the Overclocking Forum to post your PCMark 7 scores.  Try it out and see if you should be giving pointers or keeping an eye out for hints you can apply, assuming your GPU will cooperate

Even if you have been ridiculously busy that is no reason to neglect the Trading Post, where not only do you get a chance to pick up great kit at even better prices from your fellow PCPers there is the Great Give and Take thread to consider ... or for a completely different kind of give and take, The Lightning Round is still blowing up a storm that you can jump right into!

GeForce.com Previews the NVIDIA GTX 560

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 13, 2011 - 09:30 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, GTX560, graphics

 

GTX560.png

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 is due to release on May 17th.  As the release date approaches, vast speculation and rumors have flooded the Internet.  GeForce.com has stepped up to preview what the card looks like and how it fairs in three soon to be released PC games versus the 9800GT at the popular 1080p resolution.  GeForce chose the 9800 GT for comparison because they found the card to be one of the most popular used on Steam.  As games are becoming more advanced graphically and 1080p monitors are becoming more popular, they wanted to compare what the GTX 560 is capable of versus a card that many people are familiar with.

While they were unable to share exact hardware specifications and performance numbers (due to NDA), they were able to show what graphics detail settings the card was able to run at 1080p and at least 35 frames per second.  The stated "Optimal Playable Settings" for the GTX 560 were then compared to the 9800 GT in three games.  These three soon to be released games were each chosen because of their ability to showcase what high resolution, high PhysX detail, and Nvidia Surround looked like.  The GTX 560 was able to handle all three of those features with ease, whereas the older but popular 9800 GT ran into issues playing games with those features smoothly.  The system configuration they used to test both cards is as follows:

Motherboard ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution
CPU Intel Core i7 2600K @ 3.4GHz
RAM 8GB DDR3 1333MHz, 9-9-9-24
Operating System Windows 7 x64

 

The first game they showcased was Duke Nukem Forever.  GeForce states that Duke Nukem will support both NVIDIA 3D and PhysX.  The graphics details they were able to achieve with Duke Nukem Forever are:

Resolution 1920x1080
Texture Detail Medium
Shadow Detail Medium
Shadows World & Characters
Motion Blur On
AA Off
Film Grain On
Post Special Effects On
Stereoscopic 3D On

The GTX 560 managed to pull off at least 35fps.  Conversely, the game was not playable at these settings with the 9800 GT.  Specifically, the 3D feature was not practical with the 9800 GT.

Alice:  Madness Returns was the second game GeForce showed off.  One interesting aspect of Alice is the useage of PhysX.  The graphics quality is much improved by the graphics textures and particles added by PhysX, as you can see in the comparison screenshot below.

 

The GTX 560 managed to run the game at the following setttings:

Resolution  1920x1080
AA  On
PhysX  High
Post Processing  On
Dynamic Shadows  On
Motion Blur On

The 9800 GT that they compared the GTX 560 to was a "slide show" by comparison.  The demands of PhysX were especially responsible for the reduced performance.  The 9800 GT simply was not capable of processing both high resolution graphics and the high PhysX calculations.  The GTX 560 was; however, capable of running the game at maxed out settings (at 1080p).

GeForce finally showcased the GTX 560 running Dragon Seige III.  In this test, they utilized 3 monitors in an NVIDIA Surround configuration.  The graphical settings that they were able to get out of the GTX 560 included:

Resolution 5760x1080
Motion Blur On
Shadow Quality Insane
Texture Quality High
Shader Quality High
Visual Effects Quality High
AF On
MSAA 8x

 

Their results are as follows:

"On these settings, which were near maximum aside from anti-aliasing which tops off at 16x, the average framerate was again consistently smooth and playable. Here, the ultra-wide experience allowed us to immerse ourselves into some deep dungeon crawling. Unfortunately for the 9800 GT, the GPU in SLI does not support NVIDIA Surround, making it impossible to play at the 5760x1080 resolution. "

 

The GeForce GTX 560 is reported to be positioned between the Geforce 460 and 560Ti on the NVIDIA side, and the 6870 and 6950 (1GB) on the AMD side.  When it comes to 1080p resolution, so far it has been a toss up for many DIY enthusiasts between buying the AMD 6950 (2GB) and the NVIDIA GTX 560Ti for maximum performance.  If GeForce's preview holds true for other games, the GTX 560 may well provide an another option for enthusiasts after the bang for the buck price and performance at 1080p resolutions.

As for speculation and rumors on the graphics card's hardware, there have been many floating around the Internet.  For example, Tech Connect states that the GTX 560 will feature 336 CUDA cores, 56 Texture Units, and 1GB of GDDR5 memory on a 256-bit bus.  Further, Tech Connect maintains that the card is rumored to be priced at approximately $200.  From Nvidia's statement that the graphics card will be positioned between the GTX 460 and the GTX 560Ti in terms of performance, the GPU will likely be clocked somewhere between the 675Mhz of the GTX 460 and the 820Mhz of the GTX 560Ti, with the RAM being slightly lower than the GTX 560Ti's 4008Mhz.  

Unfortunately, (until the NDA is lifted) only NVIDIA can tell us what the real specifications of the GTX 560 will be, and they are not talking.  You can; however, find further details as well as a video of the soon to be released card in action over at GeForce.com, and PC Perspective will have a review up with benchmarks gallore and the official hardware specifications as soon as the NDA is lifted on May 17th.

Will the GTX 560 power your next gaming rig?

Source: GeForce

Netflix Instant Streaming Now Available For Select Android Phones

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 13, 2011 - 04:05 PM |
Tagged: Netflix, Internet, Android

It has been a long time coming; however, Netflix Instant Streaming is finally coming to a select number of Android powered smart phones. Engadget has the scoop, stating that

“Netflix explains that while the app is currently limited to phones with ‘requisite playback support,’ it anticipates that many of the ‘technical challenges will be resolved in the coming months,’and that it will be able to ‘provide a Netflix application that will work on a large majority of Android phones.’”

The following phones will be able to use the streaming feature of the Netflix application: HTC Incredible, Nexus One, Evo 4G, G2, and Samsung Nexus S.

netflixstreaming.jpg

While Nitdroid users and owners of older Android phones are currently out of luck, this move by Netflix is a good sign that Netflix on the open source operating system is possible, and can work well.

If you own one of the supported Android phones, you can download the application from the Android Market today!

Source: Engadget

What's new in the Windows 7 targeted PCMark?

Subject: General Tech | May 13, 2011 - 03:28 PM |
Tagged: pcmark, benchmarking, win7

Well, for one thing the advanced tests have all been renamed to Entertainment, Creativity, Productivity, Computation and Storage replacing the older benchmark names.  There will be three flavours, from the already widely available free edition, a $30 Advanced version and the $1000 Professional, with the $30 version being almost the same as the free version barring the lack of advertisements.  Techgage is happy that the benchmark takes less time than the previous version as the extra time will add up after a few thousand run throughs.

TG_pcmark_7_score_thumb.jpg

"Futuremark has launched the latest version of its popular PC benchmarking tool, PCMark, and as its "7" name suggests, it's designed exclusively for use with Windows 7. A couple of notable changes were made to both the test organization of the program, and also its pricing schemes. Join us as we take a quick look to see what's been added or refined."

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Source: Techgage