CryptoDrop, an early warning system against ransomeware

Subject: General Tech | July 13, 2016 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: ransomware, CryptoDrop

Given the choice between a confirmation pop up every time you zip numerous files simultaneously or add encryption to a folder or being infected with ransomware; which would you choose?  Researchers at the University of Florida and Villanova University have developed software called CryptoLock which scans your systems for bulk modification of file types, a significant change in the contents of those files and an increase in the Shannon Entropy of the files.  All three of those indicate a file is being encrypted and if it is happening to numerous ones in a very short period of time then the software will put a halt to it until you confirm that this is expected behaviour.  You get a quick overview over at The Register as well as a link to the PDF of the researchers work.

Sounds like a pop up we can live with, considering the alternative.  Hopefully this will arrive on the market soon.

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"Taking a “save what you can” approach, the authors of this PDF reckon in their tests they were able to lower the boom on ransomware when it had encrypted just 0.2 per cent of files on their test setup."

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Source: The Register

Microsoft finally puts a price on the Enterprise version of Windows 10

Subject: General Tech | July 12, 2016 - 02:36 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, enterprise

Thought that Microsoft did a poor job on the consumer side of Windows 10, you haven't being watching the absurdity which is the Enterprise version.  They took putting the cart in front of the horse to new levels but as of today we finally have a monthly price for a user.  This announcement comes several months after they removed the ability of system admins to block installation of random apps from the Windows Store for those using Windows 10 Professional.  It is also a week after they announced the removal of two popular components of the Microsoft Desktop Optimisation Pack, App-V and UE-V. 

Today we have received word that the Windows 10 Enterprise E3 version will be $7 per user per month, though we have yet to hear any pricing on the E5 version which includes Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection.  You can read more at Slashdot while you laugh about Microsoft's apparent confusion as to why businesses are not yet willing to adopt their new OS.

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"Microsoft plans to make its recently renamed Windows 10 Enterprise product available as a subscription for $7 per user per month, or $84 per year. Microsoft took the wraps off the pricing of one of the two renamed versions of Windows 10 Enterprise at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto on July 12."

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Source: Slashdot

DOOM comes to Vulkan; or vice versa

Subject: General Tech | July 11, 2016 - 12:16 PM |
Tagged: vulkan, doom, bethesda

*** Update *** an asute reader spotted some quick and dirty benchmarks over at Guru of 3D.  It looks like the RX480 does indeed benefit from Vulkan, the GTX 1070 not so much.

While this does not mean that the new DOOM will run on Linux, today does see Vulkan support arriving for the new FPS.  As we have seen with titles such as BF4 this is not going to benefit users of high end GPUs in any great way, however gamers on a budget should see improvements.  Bethesda did not update their minimum specs but do anticipate older cards being able to maintain more respectable framerates; the current minimum specs are a GTX 670 or HD 7870.  Expect to see some bugs as this their first shot at the Vulkan API, but do check it out if you have a lower end card or are simply curious how well it works. Handy links for drivers and more info over at Bethesda.

"At id Software, we’ve always pushed technology. With DOOM we let the game drive the technology decisions from early on. This has continued even in post-release, with new updates and more. Today we’re excited to share another big technology push: Vulkan support is now live on PC."

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Source: Bethesda

DRAM just doesn't have the torque to compete in the future

Subject: General Tech | July 8, 2016 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: STT-MRAM, nifty

Good news has arrived for those watching the development of the next type of storage medium, there has been new information about Spin Transfer Torque MRAM published.  One of the major hurdles in the development of the new type of memory, apart from yields, has been predicting the performance of MRAM cells.  The Register have linked to an article on IEEE, jointly published by IBM and Samsung, which details how new STT-MRAM materials fabbed at the 11nm behave.  We are still a while off of STT-MRAM hitting the market but it continues to draw closer as researchers try to bring us the next generation of storage media.

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"IBM and Samsung scientists have published an IEEE paper demonstrating switching MRAM cells for 655 devices with diameters ranging from 50 down to 11 nanometers in just 10 nanoseconds using only 7.5 microamperes. They say it is a significant achievement towards the development of Spin Torque MRAM."

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Source: The Register

When is a headset not simply a headset? When it is the Avegant Glyph Mobile Personal Theater

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2016 - 07:18 PM |
Tagged: audio, Avegant Glyph, headset

Why is the AVEGANT Glyph headset referred to as a personal theatre you may ask?  That would be because these are headphones and a head mounted display in one package, unfortunately they launched while everyone was gazing at their Vives and Rifts.  Instead of providing a VR experience, this headset is intended to give you the view of a  55-60" TV as if you were sitting 3 to 4 meters away.  The headset uses a microUSB for power and microHDMI for signal and provides a resolution of 1280x720p per eye and even supports 3D-movies and 3D-Vision when gaming.  Unfortunately as Bjorn3D discovered, you need a 720p source, it cannot downscale from 1080p or other resolutions.  Check out their full review here.

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"So what is the Avegant Glyph? Quite simply it is a headset that can be used as a regular audio headset but also comes with lenses to allow you to use it as your own mobile personal theater. And regardless of some issues it actually works great for this purpose."

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Source: Bjorn3D

Podcast #407 - RX 480 Power Concerns, X1 Yoga, Thrustmaster, Micron 9100 MAX, and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2016 - 02:20 PM |
Tagged: xbox play, video, Thrustmaster, technology, Samsung 840, rx 480, review, radeon 490, radeon, power, Polaris, podcast, pcper, news, Micron 9100 MAX SSD, lenovo thinkpad x1 yoga, Kinetic, gtx 1060, EVO, cooler, coolchip, alcantera

PC Perspective Podcast #407 - 07/07/2016

Join us this week as we discuss RX 480 Power Concerns, X1 Yoga, Thrustmaster, Micron 9100 MAX, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Kaspersky! (promo code pcper)

Hosts:  Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Josh Walrath

Program length: 1:47:16
  1. Week in Review:
  2. AD BREAK
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Jeremy: Canuck with no patience? Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1070 G1 Gaming
  5. Closing/outro

microSD was just a flash in the pan; meet your new tiny storage overlord, Samsung's UFS cards

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2016 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: UFS, Samsung, microSD

Samsung just announced the first product based on the new Universal Flash Storage standard which will be making microSD cards as obsolete as your old mix tape.  They will come in sizes from 256GB down to 32GB but it is the speed of these new storage devices that will impress, not the density.  Samsung tells of sequential read speeds of up to 530MB/s, allowing you to dump HD quality video to a PC and random reads of 40,000 IOPS if you have a usage scenario which would read in such a manner.  For recording video you can expect up to 170MB/s sequential write speed or 35,000 random IOPS; 4K drone recordings won't be limited by bandwidth anymore. 

Unfortunately, as The Inquirer points out, no one can use these yet as we haven't a place to stick them.

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"What UFS does mean already is that we'll start to see a bottleneck lifted in storage speeds in phones and tablets. As we've already seen, MicroSD doesn't cut it in the speed stakes, and it doesn't seem so long ago that we reported on torn down phones with 'internal' memory that was really just an SD card hidden away."

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Source: The Inquirer

Valve Announces TF2 "Meet Your Match" Update

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2016 - 05:48 PM |
Tagged: valve, tf2

Conveniently just after Overwatch received its Competitive Play update, Valve has announced the Meet Your Match update to Team Fortress 2. This update includes Competitive Mode, which is a ranked, 6v6 gametype, which sounds even more like Overwatch. Only the first day has been revealed thus far, as Valve likes to break update posts into chunks and release them over the course of a week, but it includes three maps, two achievements, and the official launch of the PASS Time game mode. The second part of the update is coming soon.

PASS Time was originally announced last year, in collaboration with Bad Robot (J.J. Abrams' production company) and Escalation Studios. While I've never played it (yes, I pretty much only play 2Fort...) it sounds similar to game modes like Bombing Run or Grifball. Obviously, those game modes are typically for more individual shooters, not TF2's class system, so it's interesting to see how, for instance, a Level 3 Sentry plays into it.

Source: Valve

Saturday July 9 10:00 AM ET - Fragging Frogs VLAN #13 is right around the corner

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2016 - 03:09 PM |
Tagged: VLAN party, vlan, kick ass, gaming, fun, fragging frogs

That's right, it is time for another Fragging Frog VLAN, this time lucky number 13, kicking off this Saturday morning.  If you are at all interested in having the best possible Saturday ever then head to the forums and put your name in the list of attendees.  If you are not a member of the Forums for some bizarre reason you need to sign up ASAP as it is members and contributors of PCPer and the Fragging Frogs who are given first shot at games and prizes.  To that end you will need to post at least 5 times to our Forums between now and Saturday; pictures of SPAM not included.

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The list of possible games is already quite long, from UT2K4 up to the newly released Overwatch, by way of Battle both field-ish and Front-ian with many more on the list.  If you don't see one of your favourites post it to the thread and we will add it on.  Before joining in, make sure to check out this thread here for the information you need to hop onto the TeamSpeak server so you can chat with your fellow gamers.  You also need to join into the channel if you want to win any of the prizes which will be given away during the event.

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That's right, prizes and gaming!  The wonderful folks at AMD have sent over some mysterious parts for you to have a chance to win and several of the staff of PCPer have dug through their closets and sent out some of the gear we have reviewed recently.  What could these be?  Only one way to find out; see you on Saturday!

That ThinkPwn vulnerability extends beyond Lenovo as the fault is with the motherboard

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2016 - 01:46 PM |
Tagged: ThinkPwn, Lenovo, gigabyte, 68-UD3H, z77x-ud5h, Z87MX-D3H, Z97-D3H, Intel, SMM

The ThinkPwn vulnerability which has been in the news lately, which allows attackers to disable Secure Boot and bypass Virtual Secure Mode on Win10 Enterprise as well as disabling flash write protection turns out not to be yet another questionable Lenovo feature.  Instead the problem lies with the motherboards UEFI, specifically the Intel System Management Mode implemented on Gigabyte motherboards.  So far the issue has been located on Z68-UD3H, Z77X-UD5H, Z87MX-D3H, and Z97-D3H but it is possible that the vulnerability exists on far more motherboards, perhaps even beyond Gigabyte as the flaw is in the Intel code.  The Register also postulates this could effect HP Pavilion machines as they use these boards as well.

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"Gigabyte has been swept into turmoil surrounding low-level security vulnerabilities that allows attackers to kill flash protection, secure boot, and tamper with firmware on PCs by Lenovo and other vendors."

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Source: The Register