Apple Defender: for better and for worse

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 25, 2011 - 09:22 PM |
Tagged: Malware, apple

Apple users have been dealing with a bad bout of malware over the last few weeks ironically called Mac Defender. Its modus operandi involves scaring the Apple user with claims of malware in a phony file browser and giving them a magical option to remove all problems. That option is actually the malware, but since the users are convinced they are downloading anti-malware they will often allow it to happen and provide their admin password. At that point, they are prompted to provide their credit card number to actually remove the now-present infection. Apple was actively quiet about the whole experience but has now gone vocal about the experience. Also, a new revision of Mac Defender just got substantially harder to avoid.

 
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The most insecure part of your computer.
 
Apple received criticism recently for demanding that their technical support staff would not be able to assist customers suffering from the Mac Defender bug. That stance was apparently leading up to a recent announcement from Apple for how to remove Mac Defender and its known variants as well as a promise to release a software update which will remove and prevent clean users from installing known variants of the malware. This was then offset by the news that a more recent version of Mac Defender, known as Mac Guard, can install without requiring the input of the admin password.
 

It should be noted that admin password or not; Apple or not; patch or not; this form of malware strikes the most vulnerable point of any system: the user’s complacency. It does not matter how good of an antivirus solution you have, or how protected your operating system and programs are (though in many cases both of those are lacking as well) you need to be cautious about what you do with any device that accepts information that is not yours. Food for thought: software that can jailbreak an iPhone steal admin privileges from Apple and give it to you. Even in a locked down system such as an iPhone where the user does not have admin rights, what would have happened had you not been the recipient of the admin privileges?

Source: Ars Technica

Google creates new image format; Mozilla WebPs all over it

Subject: General Tech | May 25, 2011 - 04:55 PM |
Tagged: webp, mozilla, google

Google made news over the last year by butting heads with MPEG-LA with their royalty-free and open-sourced video codec: WebM. The hope was to provide an alternative to H.264 which was on a temporary royalty-free basis to end-users wishing to encode videos in the format (it has since been changed to a perpetual royalty-free license for end-users, 3 months after WebM’s release). WebM was mostly received with open arms from vendors, especially of free and open-sourced software such as Mozilla, and really shook up the industry. Google is now hoping to catch lightning twice by releasing a similar project for still images to replace the aging JPEG format. Mozilla’s response is suggesting that Google might just end up burnt by this experience.

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Firefox.jpg

WebP was requested to Mozilla Firefox’s bug tracker, Bugzilla, late last September as an enhancement request for Firefox. Since then, Mozilla closed the bug with a status of “RESOLVED WONTFIX” and a statement that they would not accept a patch for it but will re-evaluate their stance in the future if the format changes. 

So for the near future it is looking like Jpeg, GIF, and PNG will reign Kings of the web. Mozilla’s Jeff Muizelaar goes into quite a bit of detail about their complaints with WebP in their personal blog. If you are a web developer you do not need to rush out and re-encode your images yet; however, you also do not have the option to if you still wish support the majority of web browsers. Typically that is a desire that web designers have.

Source: Ars Technica

Pigs were spotted flying over the frozen banks of the river Lethe; Duke has gone Gold

Subject: General Tech | May 25, 2011 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: gaming, duke nukem

The Duke is back, or at least at a point where the release is unstoppable.  The master DVD , aka the gold copy, has gone to the manufacturers for mass copying and assembling of the final package.  The arrival is not a guarantee of a good game, but like Ars Technica, we can at least hope.

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"When we say a game has "gone gold," it means that the work on the game has finished, and a master copy has been sent out to the duplication plants to be pressed, packaged, and shipped out to consumers. This used to mean that the development team could take a break, but now going gold is likely to simply start a countdown to the inevitable day-one patch. Let's not be cynical, however, because today is a grand day: Duke Nukem Forever has gone gold."

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Gaming

Source: Ars Technica

Not the kind of sharing we like to see, the Blackhole exploit kit is available for free

Subject: General Tech | May 25, 2011 - 11:48 AM |
Tagged: fud, security

The Blackhole exploit kit, which until now required you to have a pocketful of money and enough hacker cred to get onto the sites where was available for sale, is now freely available to any and all.  The exploit kit is a tool that allows misanthropes to commit a type of drive by attack, where clicking on a 'tainted' iframe will allow remote code execution to install a payload on your system.  It was part of the famous US Postal Service attack that occurred recently as well as other incidents The Register mentions.  Even better, the source code for ZeuS was also jsut made available.  Patch early, patch often.

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"A free version of the Blackhole exploit kit has appeared online in a development that radically reduces the entry-level costs of getting into cybercrime.

The Blackhole exploit kit, which up until now would cost around $1,500 for an annual licence, creates a handy way to plant malicious scripts on compromised websites. Surfers visiting legitimate sites can be redirected using these scripts to scareware portals on sites designed to exploit browser vulnerabilities in order to distribute banking Trojans, such as those created from the ZeuS toolkit."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Intel ups their SSD warranty to 5 years

Subject: General Tech | May 24, 2011 - 03:00 PM |
Tagged: intel ssd, ssd 320, ssd

For those of you following reports of early SSD death from a variety of sources around the web, Intel offers a rebuttal by extending the warranty on their new SSDs to 5 years.  If you already picked up a previous generation of SSD from Intel you still have a 3 year warranty, The Register hypothesises that all future models will sport the extra 2 years.  This makes the smaller drives soon to be released to be used in conjunction with Intel's SRT on Z86 boards even more attractive. 

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"If the Product is properly used and installed, it will be free from defects in material and workmanship, and will substantially conform to Intel's publicly available specifications for a period of five (5) years beginning on the date the Product was purchased in its original sealed packaging in the case of an Original Purchaser or the date of original purchase of a computer system containing the Product in the case of an Original System Customer."

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Source: The Register

Buy an AMD GPU (or two) and get a free copy of DiRT 3

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 24, 2011 - 02:29 PM |
Tagged: xfx, sapphire, powercolor, msi, his, free, dirt 3, amd

If you haven't heard of DiRT 3 by now, you've been missing one of the more technically innovative games developed recently.  Racing fans will go overboard for the choice of cars, spanning 50 years of racing history, which you can compete with in races across all terrain types and the more artistic will like the freestyle gymkhana events. 

The techies will be impressed by the depth of support for DX11 features and we're not just talking about tessellation added on as an afterthought.  The game was designed from the ground up to take advantage of the best graphics cards and to move the way light and shadows interact beyond DX10 HDR and the features other new games have been using. 

Whichever you are, picking up a new Radeon card from Sapphire, Powercolor, MSI, HIS or XFX nets you a free copy of the game! How can you go wrong with that?

 

 

No doubt you’ve heard that the newest addition to Codemasters’ racing games, DiRT 3 has launched today. The reviews are also in, and they’re great, I mean, they’re really great.

Being a Gaming Evolved title, we worked with Codemasters very closely on this one - DiRT 3 makes advances in graphics technologies, taking full advantage of the DirectX™ 11 API, first supported by AMD Radeon graphics. Here’s a glimpse of what DiRT 3 is truly capable of doing – giving players the ultimate visual experience:

  • Shader Model 5.0 Contact Hardening Shadows
  • DirectCompute Accelerated High Definition Ambient Occlusion
  • Optimized Hardware Tessellation

In addition, DiRT 3 has been validated for various Eyefinity configurations, including the brand new 5x1 setup. But the fun doesn’t stop there. You’ll see some examples of it here.

We believe DiRT 3 is such a great game, that we’ve been working with our AIB partners to make this game widely accessible to everyone who buys an AMD Radeon graphics card from our select AIBs, FOR FREE – please visit www.amd.com/dirt3 for more details.

 

Source: AMD

AMD FirePro V5900 & V7900: Professional Card, 3 Displays, Cheap...ish

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 24, 2011 - 02:18 PM |
Tagged: firepro, amd

There exists a breed of video card users who want power, but not in games. They will pay thousands for the best hardware and not measure success in frames per second, but seconds per frame. There exists: professionals. AMD, NVIDIA, Matrox, and others cater to this market’s desire for top performance, features, and reliability in content production, scientific simulation, and engineering applications. AMD just recently updated their professional line with the V5900 and V7900 cards and are lauding some advantages to going red.

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Professionals have standards: Be efficient. That is all.

 

There are four main points that AMD boasts for their latest entries into the professional market.

  • Geometry Boost: doubles the amount of geometry that can be processed per clock by the card which should make using large models a smoother experience.
  • EQAA: a new method of antialiasing which allows graphics cards to raise the level of antialiasing, but only for part of the process, and provide quality close to the higher level with a performance hit only slightly larger than the lower level. NVIDIA had CSAA, which is almost identical, for a while though.
  • PowerTune: a method of raising and lowering the clock rate of various components of the card to compensate for the differing load across the card at different times.
  • Single-card triple-monitor: the ability to connect more than two monitors to a single single-slot card allows professionals to have three (or four for the V7900) displays saving money, heat, and space. This is possibly the most compelling feature of the entire line, especially for the professional market. 
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 No ATI to be seen here folks.
 
Obviously outside the professional market there is little use for graphics cards like these as gaming cards are cheaper and faster than their professional counterparts. For professionals, however, these cards look to be very compelling especially since performance is said to be within the same ballpark of and sometimes exceeding NVIDIA’s $4000 Quadro 6000. Troubles still exist for AMD as some professional applications such as After Effects and Premiere CS5 are partially coded in NVIDIA’s CUDA which will not be accelerated on AMD’s offering. Still, for programs not specifically written for NVIDIA, AMD’s latest offering looks to be very appetizing. Keep an eye out for our review coming very soon.
Source: Icronic

Leaking Llano and Bulldozer prices

Subject: General Tech | May 23, 2011 - 05:01 PM |
Tagged: llano, leak, bulldozer, amd

We now know what to expect from AMD's Llano, as far as pricing and initial model numbers.  None of the Llano chips top $200 which is good as the Intel models that they will be competing against are also in that price range.  Bulldozer is a little more expensive, with the lower end quad-core running $220 up to $320 for the high end octo-core, again bang on with Intel's competing Sandy Bridge parts.  It is a question of the performance gap between Intel and AMD, which unfortunately remains unanswered for now.

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"AMD has started shipping its Llano APUs to notebook clients and will begin to market the APUs to channels in July 2011, according to sources from notebook makers.

AMD targets to ship one million notebook-use Llano APUs in June, 1.5 million in July, and a total of 8-9 million for the whole of 2011, revealed the sources, citing AMD's internal estimates.

If the shipment goals are realized, AMD will be able to boost its share in the notebook CPU segment to 15% by the end of the year, the sources commented."

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Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

AMD discusses "Heterogeneous Computing"

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | May 22, 2011 - 11:04 PM |
Tagged: fusion, amd, AFDS

In a little over three weeks’ time AMD will host their AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2011 (AFDS): a three-day conference with the hopes of promoting heterogeneous computing amongst developers. We have increasingly seen potential applications of using the parts of your computer outside the standard x86 core over the years though much of it was through NVIDIA’s brand. Building up to the summit, AMD’s DeveloperCentral talked with Lee Howes, parallel computing expert and Member of Technical Staff for Programming Models at AMD, about his upcoming session at AFDS.

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I can't get over how much AFDS looks like a diagnosis.

In the short five-question interview, Dr. Howes outlined that the goal of his session is to show developers what to expect, good and bad, from developing for a heterogeneous architecture such as that of an APU. The rest of the interview was spent discussing how heterogeneous computing is currently and will eventually look like. Topics spanned from the slow perceived uptake of parallel computing in the home to the technological limitations of traditional CPUs that APUs and other heterogeneous computing systems look to bypass.

While AFDS is (by its namesake) a developer’s conference it is very much relevant to peer at for the end-user. The support for developers of newer computing architectures will help fuel the cycle of adoption between software and hardware which ends up with a better experience for us. What tasks would you like to see accelerated by heterogeneous computing? Let us know in the comments below.

PCPer v4.0 Giveaway: ASUS GeForce GTX 570 DirectCU II Graphics Card

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 22, 2011 - 09:16 PM |
Tagged: gtx 570, giveaway, contest, asus

As you can no doubt tell, PC Perspective got a HUGE and much needed facelift recently to what we are internally calling "PC Perspective v4.0".  I know there are still some kinks to work out and we are actively addressing any feedback from our readers in this comment thread.  

But we want to celebrate the launch of the new site in style!!  Some of our site sponsors have very generously offered up some prizes for us to give out throughout the coming days...

The tenth (!!) prize is a wicked ASUS GeForce GTX 570 DirectCU II card that is a triple-slot design and that supports 3D Vision Surround out of the box!

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What do you have to do to win this wonderful piece of hardware?

Couldn't be easier: post a comment in this post thanking ASUS for its sponsorship of PC Perspective as well as what feature in a graphics card you would most like to see in the future.  Be creative! You should probably have a registered account or at least be sure you include your email address in the appropriate field so we can contact you!

Source: ASUS