The 8GB Atari 810 Drive, now with flash memory support

Subject: General Tech, Storage | May 5, 2011 - 06:05 PM |
Tagged: mod, microSD, atari 810

It is common knowledge that technology gets smaller as time advances. There is, however, a point where a certain level of advancement trots along the border to absurdity and makes you think about exactly what is possible with modern technology and occasionally an innovative spirit. Leave it to the hackers to consistently push that boundary and entertain the rest of us less talented individuals.

Recently a blogger by the name of Rossum detailed on their Posterous blog their project of creating a microSD reader as a model replacement of an Atari 810 disk drive.
 
atari810sd.png
Image from Rossum
 
The original Atari 810 disk had the storage of 88K which is about 90,000 times smaller than the 8GB microSD card used in the miniaturized model 810 drive. Rossum claims to provide all the models, schematics, and code for the project in the near future for anyone wishing to dust off their soldering irons and create their own.

Gigabyte goes wireless with their new Aviva mouse

Subject: General Tech | May 5, 2011 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: mouse, wireless, gaming, gigabyte

Gigabyte has joined in the attempts of many companies to convince gamers that wireless mice are cool.  With 50 hours of battery life and 6500DPI sensor the Aviva M8600 sounds good on paper but until you get it on the mat you will never know how well it performs.  Hardware Secrets were certainly impressed by its ambidexterity, they were just as uncomfortable using it with the left hand as with the right.  No complaints about input lag though.

HS_aviva.jpg

"Gamers usually shun wireless peripherals, always wary of a possible energy loss. No one wants to rummage around for a cable and lose an online match. With that in mind, Gigabyte has released a wireless gaming-grade mouse with a long lasting 50 hour battery that comes with an extra battery that you can rapidly switch. Besides those characteristics, the Aivia M8600 reaches 6,500 DPI and features a design for both right- and left-handed users, plus ten reprogrammable buttons. Let's talk first about its physical aspects and then test its wireless operation."

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Tech Talk

Recent Study Finds Students In US Are Not Properly Prepared To Protect Themselves Online

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 5, 2011 - 08:35 AM |
Tagged: Internet, Education, Cyber Security

 Microsoft recently posted a press release detailing the results of its sponsored study by the NCSA (National Cyber Security Alliance). The study sought to determine whom people believe bears the responsibility for teaching children how to protect themselves on the Internet, as well as what the current situation is as far as K-12 students’ level of preparedness and education. The executive director of the NCSA, Michael Kaiser, had this to say:

“Just as we would not hand a child a set of car keys with no instruction about how to drive, we should not be sending students out into the world without a solid understanding of how to be safe and secure online."

According to Microsoft, the NCSA advocates for a “comprehensive approach” to teaching children from K-12 how to stay safe and secure online. While the consensus seems to be that students do need educated in Internet security, people are divided on exactly who bears the primary responsibility for teaching children. Children’s teachers, parents, and even government leaders and law enforcement have all been raised as possible responsible parties. The majority of teachers (80 percent) and school administrators (60 percent) surveyed are proponents of parents being responsible for teaching their kids about “digital safety, security, and ethics.” On the other hand, more than 50 percent of the IT coordinators surveyed believe that teachers are the ones that bear the most responsibility of educating kids. From the survey, one area where all groups do seem to agree is on the question of government responsibility in educating kids. Microsoft states that less than one percent believe law enforcement and government officials should bear the responsibility.

chart_1_responsibility.png

While cyber security is important for students to learn, as 97 percent of school administrators believe schools should have courses and an educational plan for students throughout their K-12 grades, only 68 percent of administrators “believe their schools or school districts are doing an adequate job of preparing students...”

The situation of adequate education looks even bleaker when teachers where surveyed. When asked whether they feel prepared to teach students adequately, 24 percent believed they were adequately prepared to talk about and educate kids on protecting personal information on the Internet, and 23 percent are comfortable teaching the risks of cyberbullying. Further, only one-third of teachers surveyed believe they are prepared to educated students on basic Internet security skills “such as password protection and backing up data.” The low numbers are attributed to the lack of professional development training that teachers are receiving. Microsoft states that “86 percent received less than six hours of related training.” Microsoft quotes Kaiser in saying that “America’s schools have not caught up with the realities of the modern economy. Teachers are not getting adequate training in online safety topics, and schools have yet to adopt a comprehensive approach to online safety, security and ethics as part of a primary education. In the 21st century, these topics are as important as reading, writing and math.”

In all of this, there is a ray of hope. Comparing the 2010 study to the NCSA’s 2008 study which you can read here, an increasing number of teachers believe cyber security and professional development training is a priority.More than 60 percent of school officials and teachers are interested in pursing further security training. This interest in training among teachers is up to 69 percent from 55 percent in 2008. IT coordinators and administrators are also becoming more interested in revamping the educational curriculum to better teach their students and workers.  Further improvements in interest among educators pursuing further security training can be seen between the 2010 and the 2011 NCSA study.  Also, slightly higher percentages exist across the board for teachers who have tought aspects of security in their classrooms compared to both the 2010 and 2008 studies.

On the other hand, while interest in training is increasing for teachers, from 2010 to 2011, security topics taught in clases have actually dropped.  This is in addition to a decrease in teachers' beliefs that they bear responsibility in educating kids.

chart2.PNG

A comparison paper between the 2008 and 2010 study can be downloaded here (PDF).

What are your thoughts on this issue; who bears the primary responsibility in educating children on the importance of Internet safety?

 

Image 1 courtesy 2011 NCSA study.  Image 2 courtesy 2008 to 2010 NCSA comparison study.  Material is copyright NCSA, and used according to fair usage guidelines for the purpose of commentary and reporting.

Source: Microsoft

Seagate Shows Off 1TB Per Platter Hard Drives

Subject: General Tech, Storage | May 5, 2011 - 08:28 AM |
Tagged: Hard Drive, Areal Density, 1TB Platter

 In an amazing feat of data density, Seagate has once again made a leap to the next level of storage technology unveiling 1 Terabyte per platter drives. WIth an areal density of 625 Gigabytes per square inch, Seagate claims the new drives are capable of storing “virtually countless hours of digital music,” and “1,500 video games.”

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The move to 1TB per platter drives is an especially important step for high capacity drives. Current 1TB+ drives are using two 500 GB platters, while current 3TB drives are using either four 750 GB platters in the form of the WD Caviar Green 3 TB that PC Perspective has reviewed here, or the five 600 GB platters. With Seagate’s new technology, they will be able to cut the number of platters in their highest capacity 3 TB drives almost in half. By moving from five platters to three, their drives will run cooler, faster, and with less power draw. Improved areal density also reduces the number of moving parts, and thus decreases the points of failure, even with the inclusion of newer and more sensitive read heads.

The place in the market where this new technology will make the most noticeable difference is in the mobile segment. With just a single platter, mobile users will have close to 1.5 terabytes of internal storage in a two platter drive, or 750 GB in a one platter drive while using less power and being capable of faster reads. This means that road warriors will be able to keep more of their files with them without reducing battery life compared to the current crop of mobile hard drives.

Unfortunately, mobile users will have to wait, as Seagate has only announced 3.5” desktop and external drives. These drives will be branded under both the Seagate Barracuda XT and GoFlex lines respectively.

GoFlex_USB3.jpg

For desktop users, they can currently expect capacities ranging from 1TB to 3TB drives. In a RAID array, these new lower power and potentially faster drives would make for a great addition to an HD video editing rig. Call me crazy, but I’m going to hold onto my old school 320 GB Seagate drives until I can jump straight to 4 TB. So, where’s my 4 platter, 4TB drive Seagate?

Are you excited about this new platter technology? What would you do with 3 terabytes of storage?

Source: Seagate

What is AIDA64 Extreme Edition? Only the new improved replacement for the Everest benchmarking tool

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems, Storage | May 4, 2011 - 06:43 PM |
Tagged: ssd, everest, benchmarking, benchmark, aida64, aida

BUDAPEST, Hungary - May 04, 2011 - FinalWire Ltd. today announced the immediate availability of AIDA64 Extreme Edition 1.70 software, a streamlined diagnostic and benchmarking tool for home users; and the immediate availability of AIDA64 Business Edition 1.70 software, an essential network management solution for small and medium scale enterprises.

aida64.jpg

The new AIDA64 release further strengthens its solid-state drive health and temperature monitoring capabilities, and implements support for the latest graphics processors from both AMD and nVIDIA.

New features & improvements

  • LGA1155 B3 stepping motherboards support
  • Preliminary support for AMD “Bulldozer” and “Llano” processors
  • Intel 320, Intel 510, OCZ Vertex 3, Samsung PM810 SSD support
  • GPU details for AMD Radeon HD 6770M, Radeon HD 6790
  • GPU details for nVIDIA GeForce GT 520, GT 520M, GT 550M, GT 555M, GTX 550 Ti, GTX 590

Pricing and Availability
AIDA64 Extreme Edition and AIDA64 Business Edition are available now at www.aida64.com/online-store. Additional information on product features, system requirements, and language versions is available at www.aida64.com/products. Join our Discussion Forum at forums.aida64.com.

AIDA64 license renewal is now available. For more information, visit www.aida64.com/aida64-renewal.
A migration program is available for all EVEREST customers at www.aida64.com/everest-upgrade.

Source: AIDA

Antivirus effectiveness report: Microsoft Security Essentials behind its peers

Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2011 - 05:28 PM |
Tagged: mse, Malware, antivirus

One of the major drawbacks of having general purpose computation devices is malware. Your computers are designed to manipulate and store instructions and information and they do that amazingly. Your computers, however, cannot tell who gave what instruction; they follow a set of instructions until it links to another, which they follow, ad infinitum. When someone who wants to use your computer can get their series of instructions run by your computer: that is when you got a problem.

Antivirus software is designed to detect when a bundle of bits on your computer could translate to a likely attack. The big question is how effective are each antivirus package at doing just that.
 
MSE.png
Oh is it reeaaaalllllyyy?
 
The firm AV-test.org tests antivirus software and assigns it with a score based on various factors. They recently published their findings for this quarter and found Microsoft Security Essentials was the second-least effective at preventing infections from occurring according to their scoring metric. Their report (PDF) shows that while Microsoft is effective at blocking recent malware it has difficulty with 0-day attacks.
 
Despite the ranking it should be noted that antivirus software should be just a guard looking over your shoulder monitoring what you do. Keep your computer and all programs on it that receive data up to date, be careful of what you run, and keep a minimum number of ports forwarded to your PC. Then and only then will an Antivirus package help protect you against what is left.
 
Lastly, if you happen to suspect that your computer has an infection: back up your data, reinstall your operating system, and enjoy a speedy virus-free computer. That method is free and more effective than hoping an Antivirus package reversed all the damage the virus did because you have no method of knowing otherwise.
Source: av-test.org

Rumor: Amazon Tablet in 2011 looking more likely

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 4, 2011 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: tablet, kindle, amazon

Amazon certainly has a knack for causing a ruckus in just about any industry they step into. Their inception placed them in stiff competition with bookstores and mail-order catalogs; since then they have branched out even as far as rental computing and storage, content production and publishing, and consumer electronics.

A recently rumored OEM order to Quanta Computer, already an OEM partner of RIM and Sony, proposes that Amazon is looking to beef up their portfolio to include Tablet PCs.

amazondron.png

Could Amazon be Kindling for a much bigger fire? 

According to DigiTimes’ accounts from an unnamed source the orders Amazon placed would be for touch screens. The source expects that units shipped would be around 700,000-800,000 units per month starting in the second half of the year. The total transaction is also expected to be worth $3.5 billion US for Quanta.
 
This rumor, if true, does not suggest which type of tablet Amazon would be up to. Currently Amazon is involved in the e-book market through their Kindle line which DigiTimes also suggests might receive a price cut to reposition itself in the market. Amazon is also currently invested in the Android platform through their Amazon Appstore for Android. They also developed an in-browser trial for Android Apps called Test Drive. This sequence of events tends to suggest that Amazon is gearing up for an Android-based tablet but does little more than just that: suggest.
Source: DigiTimes

Intel Invents New 3 Dimensional Transistor for 22nm Ivy Bridge CPUs, Dubs it "Tri-Gate"

Subject: General Tech, Processors | May 4, 2011 - 01:55 PM |
Tagged: transistor, Intel

"After a decade of research, Intel has unveiled the world's first three dimensional transistor" states Mark Bohr, a Senior Fellow for Intel. Silicon based transistors in computers, mobile devices, vehicles, and embedded equipment have only existed in a planar, or two dimensional, form until today.

The new three dimensional transistor, dubbed "Tri-Gate," is now ready for high volume production, and will be included in Intel's new Ivy Bridge 22nm processors. This new Tri-Gate transistor is a huge deal for Intel as it will enable them to maintain the pace of current chip evolution as outlined by Moore's Law. If you are not familiar with Moore's Law, it states that approximately every 18 months, transistor density will double, bringing with it increases in performance and yeild while decreasing cost of production. Intel states that "It has become the basic business model for the semiconductor industry for more than 40 years." 

As processors become smaller and smaller, the electric current becomes more and more difficult to contain.  There are hundreds of thousands of minute connections and switches inside today's processors, and as manufacturing processes shrink, the amount of current leakage increases.  With Intel's Core 2 Duo processors, Intel created a new "high-k"(high dielectric constant, which is a property of matter relating to the amount of charge it can hold) metal gate transistor using a material called Hafnium.  The new material replaced the silicon dioxide dielectric gate of the transistor to combat the current leakage problem at 32nm.  This allowed the chip process to shrink while scaling to produce less current leakage and heat.  To be more specific, Intel states that "because high-k gate dielectrics can be several times thicker, they reduce gate leakage by over 100 times. As a result, these devices run cooler."

Unfortunately, at the much smaller 22nm process, Intel was not achieving results congruent with Moore's Law using even their high-k gate transistors.  In order to maintain the scaling predicted in Moore's Law, Intel had to once again re-invent their transistors.  In order to create a smaller manufacturing process while overcoming current leakage, Intel had to develop a way to use more of what little space they had available to them.  It is here that they entered the third dimension.  By designing a transistor that is able to control the electrical current on three sides instead of a single plane, they are able to shrink the transistor while ending up with more surface area to "control the stream" as Mark Bohr puts it.

Planar_vs_Tri-Gate.jpg

The proposed benefits of Tri-Gate lie in it's ability to operate at lower voltages, with higher energy efficiency, all while running cooler and faster than ever before.  More specifically, up to 37 percent increases in performance at low voltages versus Intel's current line of 32nm processors.  Intel further states that "the new transistors consume less than half the power when at the same performance as 2-D planar transistors on 32nm chips."  This means that at the same performance level of the current crop of Intel CPUs, Ivy Bridge will be able to do the same calculations either while using half the power needed of Sandy Bridge or nearly twice as fast (it is unlikely to scale perfectly as there is overhead and other elements of the chip that will not be as radically revamped) at the same level of power consumption.  If this sort of scaling turns out to be true for the majority of Ivy Bridge chips, the overclocking abilities and resulting performance should be of unprecedented levels.

The use of Tri-Gate transistors is also mentioned as being beneficial for mobile and handheld devices as the power efficiency should allow increases in battery life.  This is due to the chip running at decreased voltages while maintaining (at least) the same level of performance as current mobile chips.  While Intel did not demo any mobile CPUs, they did state that Tri-Gate transistors may be integrated into future Atom chips.

Source: Intel

U.S. Judge Makes Landmark Ruling That an IP Address Does Not Equal a Person

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 4, 2011 - 01:36 PM |
Tagged: Law, Copyright, Bit Torrent

This past year has seen a surge of copyright infringement cases where copyright holders have brought suits against not one, but hundreds or even thousands of defendants. These kinds of wide sweeping cases are highly controversial, and, according to TorrentFreak opponents have even gone so far as to call these types of cases as "extortion".

copyright_symbol.jpg

The main reason for the controversy is that rights-holders are acquiring lists of IP addresses that connect to, download, and/or share illegal files that they own the original copyright for. They are then bringing lawsuits against the so called John Does listed in the IP addresses, and using legal subpoenas to force ISPs to release personal information of the account holder(s) connected to that IP at the times the IP address was logged downloading and/or sharing their files. While many may not realize the flaw in this logic, it seems as though a District Court judge by the name of Harold Baker has questioned the legality and implications of assuming an IP address is grounds enough to obtain further personal information.

The issue of connecting solely an IP address to a person is that while a log with an IP address along with specific dates and times can be connected to an ISP’s subscriber and their Internet connection, there is no way to know that it was that particular person who represented that IP address in that matter. It could just as easily have been another person living in the household, a friend or visitor who used the wireless connection, or a malicious individual piggy-backing on that subscriber’s Internet connection (and thus the IP address).

TorrentFreak reports that “Judge Baker cited a recent child porn case where the U.S. authorities raided the wrong people, because the real offenders were piggybacking on their Wi-Fi connections.” They also state that Judge Baker believes that these types of cases, particularly when it involves adult entertainment, assuming an IP address is enough material to subpoena for further personally identifiable information could obstruct a “‘fair’ legal process.” This is because, bringing a suit against someone by connecting them to solely an IP address, especially when it involves adult entertainment, could irreparably defame an innocent persons character.

Judge Baker goes on to say that rights-holders could potentially use the delicate issue of the accusation of allegedly sharing adult material to encourage even innocent people to settle out of court. TorrentFreak reports that “Baker conlcudes [sic] by saying that his Court is not supporting a “fishing expedition” for subscribers’ details if there is no evidence that it has jurisdiction over the defendants.”

There is no question that Judge Baker’s ruling could potentially change the landscape of bit torrent related lawsuits throughout the United States. Rights-holders are no doubt going to aggressively combat this ruling; however, civil rights groups and countless innocent people are rejoicing at the knowledge that it may very well be the beginning of the end for John Doe bit torrent lawsuits in the Unite States.

Image courtesy MikeBlogs via Flickr (creative commons 2.0 w/attribution).

 

Source: TorrentFreak

Meet bufferbloat, the worst enemy a gamer never heard of

Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2011 - 11:56 AM |
Tagged: lag, buffer, bloat, input lag, gaming, online

Packet loss, network latency and input lag are often blamed for the reason your character is now a corpse and why your opponent is doing a happy dance on your naughty bits but there is another target to blame for your lousy online gaming skills, buffer bloat.  It seems that larger storage space is not always a good thing as TCP/IP needs dropped packets to tell it to slow down and when a network sports a buffer that can hold 10 seconds or so of data in its buffer before dropping a packet and informing the connection that there is a problem.  If you've ever played a game which slows down and then does a quick speed up for a few seconds you have probably met buffer bloat.  Slashdot doesn't have a solution but they do have more information for you.

Bufferfish.jpg

"Gamers often find 'input lag' annoying, but over the years, delay has crept into many other gadgets with equally painful results. Something as simple as mobile communication or changing TV channels can suffer. Software too is far from innocent (Java or Visual Studio 2010 anyone?), and even the desktop itself is riddled with 'invisible' latencies which can frustrate users (take the new Launcher bar in Ubuntu 11 for example). More worryingly, Bufferbloat is a problem that plagues the internet, but has only recently hit the news. Half of the problem is that it's often difficult to pin down unless you look out for it. As Mick West pointed out: 'Players, and sometimes even designers, cannot always put into words what they feel is wrong with a particular game's controls ... Or they might not be able to tell you anything, and simply say the game sucked, without really understanding why it sucked.'"

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Gaming

Source: Slashdot