Subject: Editorial, General Tech | July 19, 2011 - 11:59 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: mozilla, firefox
One side-effect of splitting a program up into multiple processes is that instructions do not inherently have a specific order. One of the most evident places for that to occur is during a videogame. I am sure most gamers have played a game where the controls just felt sluggish and muddy for some inexplicable reason. While there could be a few problems, one likely cause is that your input is not evaluated for a perceivably large amount of time. Chris Blizzard of Mozilla took on this and other issues with multithreaded applications and wrapped it around the concept of Firefox past, present, and future.
Firefox is getting Beta all the time.
One common misconception is that your input is recognized between each frame, which is untrue: many frames could go by before input affects the events on screen. John Carmack in a recent E3 interview discussed about iD measuring up to 100ms worth of frames occurring before a frame occurred which recognized the user’s command. This is often more permissible for games with slower-paced game design where agility is less relevant; if your character would lose to a Yak in a foot race, turns about as quick as one, and takes a hundred bullets to die: you will not notice that you started to dodge a few milliseconds earlier as you would expect to die in either case. In a web browser it is much less dramatic though the same principle is true: the browser is busy doing its many tasks and cannot waste too much time checking if the user has requested something yet. This aspect of performance, along with random hanging, is considered “responsiveness”. Mozilla targets 50 milliseconds (one-twentieth of a second) as the maximum time before Firefox rechecks its state for changes.
Chris Blizzard goes on to discuss how hardware is mostly advancing on the front of increases in parallelism rather than clock speed and other per-thread advancements. GPGPU was not a topic in the blog post leaving the question for the distant future centered on what a multithreaded DOM would look like – valuing the classical multicore over the still budding many-core architectures. Memory usage and crashing were also addressed though this likely was more to dispel the Firefox stereotype of being a memory hog starting later in the Firefox 2 era.
The GPGPU trail is not Mozilla's roadmap.
The last topic discussed was Sandboxing for security. One advantage of branching off your multiple threads into multiple discrete processes is that you could request that the operating system assign limited rights to individual processes. The concept of limited rights is to prevent one application from exploiting too much permissions for the purpose of forcing your computer to do something undesirable. If you are accepting external data, such as a random website on the internet, you need to make sure that if it can exploit vulnerability in your web browser that it gains as little permission as possible. While it is not a guarantee that external data will be executed with dangerous permission levels: the harder you can make it, the better.
What does our readers think? (Registration not required to comment.)
Subject: General Tech | July 19, 2011 - 02:05 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: CoolerMaster Storm Sirus, audio, 5.1 headset
Naming a product Sirus right now might attract an odd crowd, then again maybe it is best that they are using headphones to watch or listen to their favourite series. CoolerMaster's newest member of the Storm lineup is not a case, mouse or fan, it is a 5.1 surround headset. One of the more interesting features is that there is only one wire coming from the headset, connecting to a small round controller. From there you connect to the PC using USB, or preferably, 4 of the analog jacks on the back of your PC. The controller allows you to adjust the levels of each channel separately, which is a very nice touch. Unfortunately however Neoseeker adjusted it they couldn't bring it up to audiophile standards, but they have no reservations recommending it for gamers.
"Not one to be left out, Cooler Master enters the PC audio market with a 5.1 surround sound headset of its own that can connect to your audio source via analog jacks or USB port. See how well the Sirius stacks against more specialized headsets in our latest audio review."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- CM Storm Sirus True 5.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset Review @Hi Tech Legion
- CM Storm Sirus 5.1 Gaming Headset @ Benchmark Reviews
- Cooler Master Storm Sirus 5.1 Headset Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Cooler Master Storm Sirus 5.1 Gaming Headset @ Modders-Inc
- Cooler Master Storm Sirus 5.1 Headset Review @ Legit Reviews
- Cooler Master Storm Sirus 5.1 Gaming Headset Review @ Ninjalane
- Cooler Master CM Storm Sirius 5.1 Gaming Headset Review @ Tweaknews
- Roccat Kulo – Virtual 7.1 USB Gaming Headset @ Rbmods
- Steelseries 7H Gaming Headset @ Funky Kit
- Everything You Need to Know About the SPDIF Connection @ Hardware Secrets
- How to Make a Superlens From Soda Cans @ Make:Blog
- Asus' Xonar U3 USB audio device @ The Tech Report
Subject: General Tech | July 19, 2011 - 01:02 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, amd, arm, mali, low power
Those who ignored Microsoft's announcement that Windows 8 will support ARM processors will perhaps take note of Isuppli's claim that ARM could grab 1 in 5 of the laptops sold by 2015. The extremely low powers System on a Chip design that they have been selling were at the opposite end of the market from AMD and Intel's X86 chips, but with the rise of the APU the market has undergone a fundamental change. While the X86 makers are trying to lower the power requirements of their APUs, ARM is busy trying to ramp up the power of their chips. There are already several vendors establishing a relationship with ARM, up to and including Apple.
ARM's Cortex A9 and Mali are impressive, but ARM is already talking about console level graphics quality from their next generation of chips which we will see in roughly 18 months. This improvement will also encompass their next generation of power efficency research, which should keep power consumption and heat well below what Intel and AMD will be trying to reach. As well, it might provide an interesting opportunity for NVIDIA as the lack of a license to integrate chips with the new X86 based architecture will not stop them from developing graphics enhancements for ARM based laptops. Drop by The Inquirer for more on this topic.
"CHIP DESIGNER ARM could power over 20 per cent of all laptops shipped in 2015, according to analyst outfit IHS Isuppli.
IHS Isuppli has forecast that the domination of X86 chips in the laptop market will start to diminish as Microsoft releases its Windows 8 operating system. Windows 8 will be the first desktop operating system from Microsoft that will support the ARM architecture that is found in just about every smartphone in existence."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Foxconn reportedly considering ECS acquisition @ DigiTimes
- ReRAM gets closer to reality @ SemiAccurate
- Samsung SH100 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Ninjalane Podcast - Duke Nukem Forever Favorite Asus Product Listener Mailbag
- Sandberg Hard Disk Cloner Review @ Real World Labs
- Test Driving GNU Hurd, With Benchmarks Against Linux @ Phoronix
- S2TC: A Possible Workaround For The S3TC Patent Situation @ Phoronix
- Cyborg Gaming Lights (amBX) Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Panasonic Lumix GH2 Review @ t-break
- Real World Labs And Thermalright Joint Contest
- Win a Blackberry Bold 9900 @ t-break
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | July 17, 2011 - 01:07 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: stanford, nvidia, CUDA
NVIDIA has been pushing their CUDA platform for years now as a method to access your GPU for purposes far beyond the scopes of flags and frags. We have seen what a good amount of heterogeneous hardware will do to a process with a hefty portion of parallelizable code from encryption to generating bitcoins; media processing to blurring the line between real-time and non-real-time 3d rendering. NVIDIA also recognizes the role that academia plays in training the future programmers and thus strongly supports when an institution teaches how to use GPU hardware effectively, especially when they teach how to use NVIDIA GPU hardware effectively. Recently, NVIDIA knighted Stanford as the latest of its CUDA Center of Excellence round table.
It will be 150$ if you want it framed.
The list of CUDA Centres of Excellence now currently includes: Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard School of Engineering, Institute of Process Engineering at Chinese Academy of Sciences, National Taiwan University, Stanford Engineering, TokyoTech, Tsinghua University, University of Cambridge, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Maryland, University of Tennessee, and the University of Utah. If you are interested in learning about programming for GPUs then NVIDIA has just graced blessing on one further choice. Whether that will affect many prospective students and faculty is yet to be seen, but it makes for many amusing puns nonetheless.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | July 16, 2011 - 06:49 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: pdxlan, pdx, case mods
Yes, I am still gaming away and getting destroyed in some StarCraft II but at least we are having fun. In between ass-whoopings I have been wandering around the BYOC looking for some interesting case mods. Here are a few I found interesting.
These aren't really mods but I like the idea of bringing a BYOC stand that puts the case and computing components over the display in use, saving space on the table and moving the heat closer to the ceiling.
Here is another example of the design but with a brightly lit overclocked and water cooled SLI configuration.
Probably my favorite for the event has been this Lego case that took about 2 years to create according to the owner. The crane on the left is fully workable and controllable via some software running on the system. My favorite part though: the HDD LED is routed to look like a Lego guy's welding light on the front!!
This Gigabyte branded case mod uses the company's new G1 Killer branded motherboards and focuses heavily on the green motif. The skull shape reservoir really completes the ensemble.
Finally, here is a random shot of some people lining up to play a game of "LAN Pong" involving tossing tennis balls into a bucket. The prizes were impressive though: a pair of NVIDIA Tegra 2 powered tablets.
Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2011 - 12:30 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, steam, downloader
Steam is not known to be the most reliable when it comes to updating; this is particularly true during the launch of a high-profile game when network traffic is at a peak. One such of those times happened for the last week-or-so during Valve’s fairly epic summer sale. Valve has, as usual, promptly addressed the issue and will be rolling out this new system starting today with a new client update forthcoming to support this new infrastructure.
If other people are any indication: complain profusely while browsing more discounted bundles.
One method that the update will utilize to improve your downloading experience is to switch to the standard HTTP protocol for data transfers. There are two main benefits of HTTP: In the event that you are in a particularly nasty firewall environment, HTTP is more readily permitted than other ports for users with sane network administrators. The second benefit of HTTP is that data that protocol is potentially cached, thus if you and another user share some stretch of the internet between you and Valve, it is possible that you will not need to fetch the data all the way from Valve as the other request brought a copy of the data closer already. Besides HTTP, the other method of improving performance is the ability to perform differential synchronization. If a 2GB file is edited by 4KB, you will soon only need to receive the 4KB difference.
Valve, not being able to resist a troll, closed by teasing that DOTA 2 will be delivered using Steam’s new delivery system. They also claim that if you want to try out the new system, download a 1280x720 trailer from the Steam store because they already rolled out the new update to that part of the system. Let us know what you think in the comments.
Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2011 - 10:14 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows, microsoft, branding
Microsoft and their Windows brand have always been synonymous where it comes to Operating Systems. As someone who grew up with Windows 3.1, I have grown up seeing Microsoft through the proverbial Window(s). As such, Windows has been a brand that has always been around, and one that I assumed would always be around. In a surprise twist; however, This Is My Next reports that Microsoft may be dropping the Windows brand for their future operating systems after Windows 8.
Look how far the MS OS logo has come. What does the future hold?
Windows 8 is already incorporating tile elements of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 and Xbox elements in the form of a re-branded Games For Windows Live service. It seems logical; therefore, that Microsoft would want to even further integrate their mobile, gaming, and computing platforms into one cohesive unit. This Is My Next reports that the future OS will present a single Operating System and UI features across all devices and platforms. They further quote Andy Lees in stating that the single ecosystem would facilitate consistency across all Microsoft powered platforms and “the goal isn’t just to share UI, but also core technologies like Internet Explorer.”
You can read more about the “Next Next” OS over at This Is My Next. What are your opinions on the proposed branding theme? Do you have any fold memories of the Windows brand?
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 15, 2011 - 11:39 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: sony, S2, S1
It was just under a month ago when we reported on Sony’s “Two Will” campaign to promote their pair of upcoming Android Honeycomb tablets. The first video was part of a promised five-part series which started with a Rube Goldberg-esque machine casting shadows which either spell stuff or look like they are part of a city for Echochrome 2 people. It was unclear whether the next videos would have entirely different themes or if they would continue down that aesthetic. Now that the second video is released it appears like rails are here to stay.
Barely hanging on the tail of a big cat. Nice metaphor -- but not iOS’ naming scheme.
(nor flattering for an ad)
This time around, Sony opens with a colorful fountain, a typing plunger device, and a jingle that is so familiar I have been racking my brain over it for hours trying to figure out where I heard it before expecting it to be some grand clue. There seems to be a lot of hidden metaphor in this ad campaign, much like what was seen in the Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates ads that were pulled because they were panned by critics who could not see where they were headed thus making us all unsure of where they were actually headed because the rest is left unaired. Hopefully Sony will make it through all five of their episodes and we can find out exactly what Sony is trying to make us think about.
What do you think? Best ad ever or has Sony lost their marbles? See more metaphors?
Subject: General Tech | July 15, 2011 - 08:31 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: battlefield 3
Battlefield has to my knowledge always allowed services to track your statistics to some degree and display them on their site. While I was off in the Unreal, America’s Army 2, and Halo PC universe during the age of Battlefield 1942 I was very active in Battlefield 2 upon its launch in 2005. Members of the couple clans I played with spent quite a bit of time browsing each other’s stats tracker pages from various services including BF2S. Call of Duty’s announcement earlier this year was that they would bring a deep level of stat tracking for a subscription fee, and now DICE announced that Battlefield 3 will roll a lot of that tracking which formerly was piped to independent services into their official web services.
Battlefield can topple buildings, but can it topple Call of Duty?
P.S.: That Helicopter is screwwwwed.
The blog Battlefieldo found a few screenshots of Battlefield 3’s online service and posted them before the official German Battlefield site removed them. One of the largest advancements is to the inter-player chat which appears to transcend inside and outside of game similar to Steam’s service and, again like Steam, allows you to join on a player’s server directly. There are no screenshots showing the depth and detail of statistic tracking however what we can see suggests they are at least as detailed as what is currently available through third-party services in the previous Battlefield games.
Do you care about statistics? Comment within.
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Subject: General Tech | July 15, 2011 - 05:37 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: pentagon, hack, Cyber Security, cracking
If we thought that the antics of LulzSec and Anonymous were bad, the recent admission by the Pentagon that 24,000 files were stolen by an as yet identified to the public attacker is not good news at all. Exactly what was taken has not been released; however Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said that the Pentagon believes the attacker was a foreign government and according to Fox News, Lynn stated that “’we have a pretty good idea’ who did it.”
The Pentagon attack was revealed to the public during a speech on Thursday as a preface to a newly proposed more active cyber-defense. The Pentagon believes that the threat of retaliation is not enough of a deterrent to stop attackers, and a more active defense is needed. The strategy includes a greater focus on defense rather than offensive measures, improving its workers’ computer habits to mitigate the risk of succumbing to viruses and malware, and calls for collaboration with other federal agencies, contractors, and foreign allies.
You can read more about the attack and the proposed defense to further attacks here.