Gigabyte Launches World's First Z68 Motherboards With Support for mSATA Intel SLC SSDs and Smart Response Tech

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | May 11, 2011 - 05:23 PM |
Tagged: z68, srt, motherboard, gigabyte

Popular enthusiast motherboard maker Gigabyte has today announced 4 additional motherboards to their already expansive Z68 chipset based lineup at launch.

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In addition to the features discussed in the previous announcement, including Lucid Virtu technology, the four new models feature a mSATA connection for onboard Intel SLC SSDs such as the new Intel 311 20GB SLC SSD. The 20GB drive can be used in conjunction with the Intel Smart Response Technology to boost system performance.

While Intel's SRT technology is also included in the other Gigabyte Z68 Motherboards, these 4 specific models differ in the implementation. Specifically, they allow consumers to attach the small solid state drive directly onto the motherboard. This will free the standard SATA ports of a SRT SSD for another hard drive or optical drive.

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Gigabyte has found as much as a 471% improvement in PC Mark Vantage scores in using a 20GB Intel 311 SLC SSD and a SATA 2 hard drive versus solely a SATA 2 hard drive. PC Perspective also examined Intel's Smart Response Technology and found that in trace based testing, the SLC SSD greatly improved performance once the data had been cached to the SSD. As for improvements in boot performance, PC Perspective found that:

"Boot times were just 3 seconds shy of those achieved with the OS cached on the SSD entirely. Of significant note here is that the SSD 310 was able to edge out (0.5 secs) faster boot times than the SSD 320 *and* the SSD 510, which we tossed in for an additional point of comparison."

Intel's SRT technology can definitely improve performance in the right situations, and Gigabyte is offering even more options to implement it in their newly announced models; the Z68XP-UD3, Z68XP-D3, Z68AP-D3, and Z68P-DS3. The new models are due to be released in June 2011.

Source: Gigabyte

Why does he get to play Deus Ex 3 already!?!

Subject: General Tech | May 11, 2011 - 03:57 PM |
Tagged: revolution, human, gaming, deus ex, Adam Jensen, 3

As further proof that no fairness exists in the universe, a lucky member of Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has played the first 10 hours of Deus Ex:Human Revolution; not just once, but twice.  If you played the first incarnation then you are probably terrified that it will follow the awful path of the sequel; unless you've taken the Highlander fan stance and pretend that it never happened.  If you've only played the second ...

Anyways, head over as the news is not all bad, though the rampant cut scenes made the (p)reviewer want to do something that would effect his ability to reproduce rather than watch another one played.

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"Because I am the luckiest man alive, I spent this weekend playing the first ten hours of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which is starting to look like it’ll be the biggest release of 2011. When I finished those ten hours, I went back and played them again, and have finally managed to compress my thoughts into a handy list of thoughts that’ll occur to you, too, as you play. Five reasons to be hugely excited Deus Ex 3 and five reasons to be knuckle-chewingly nervous await you below."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

News from the honeycomb hideout, Google's I/O

Subject: General Tech | May 11, 2011 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: youtube, sandwich, music, ice cream, honeycomb, google, cloud, Android

The fourth Google I/O took place over the past two days and AnandTech was there to bear witness on the keynote speech and other presentations.  As you might well expect Android was the most talked about, the new Honeycomb update was discussed in great detail and with good reason.  The update allows Android powered devices to use USB peripherals in the same way as a PC, powering mice, keyboards and even XBox controllers which is a big change from only being able to be used as a USB device and offers even more for those interested in the Open Accessory Library. 

Others will be more interested in Google's Music Beta which will let you upload your music collection to the web and includes the ability to make playlists and albums as well as gatherig meta artist information.  You can think of it like Amazon's Cloud service, though hopefully more reliable, but as Google seems not to have got the permission of the record companies it may not be.

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"Google’s I/O 2011 keynote may have suffered from a few choice leaks, namely the new Music service and Ice Cream Sandwich announcement, but Google still managed to include some surprises. Android 3.1, the update to Honeycomb, was announced along with a slew of development platforms, including one committed to bringing better introduction of accessories to Android devices of all types, and a home integration platform based on Android."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: AnandTech

Samaritan Demo Showcases New Unreal Engine 3 Graphical Effects

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 11, 2011 - 12:36 AM |
Tagged: UE3, graphics engine, gaming

Since 2006'a Gears of War, Epic Games' Unreal Engine 3 has provided both console and PC gamers hours of game play packed with graphical prowess. The now 5 year old graphics engine has enjoyed constant evolution to remain viable. At 2011's Games Developers Conference, Epic Games unvieled its Samaritan demo, proving to the world that not only could Unreal Engine 3 deliver graphics capable of fully utilizing current gen hardware but a huge evolution in graphical prowess that would require next gen hardware to in order to utilize all of it's features.

Using a three-way SLI GTX 580 powered gaming system, Epic Games was able to showcase some of the engine's newest features.  Taking eight months of development, the engine contains a slew of lighting, reflection, and shadow improvements as well as realistic hair and cloth physics.

Bokeh Depth of Field has been a popular artistic choice in Hollywood Films for many years.  Seen as out of focus but identifiable colored shapes in the background, bokeh objects serve to enhance a scene and influence viewers' moods.  Epic was able to improve upon earlier methods of rendering bokeh objects, though they admit that real time rendering of bokeh objects as seen in Hollywood films will necessitate next gen hardware.  Currently, the bokeh effects will be best used in cutscenes where developers can control and pre-render the objects to the best storytelling effect.

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Epic has also greatly enhanced the ways that light and reflections are handled.  Collectively called Image Based Reflections, Epic has implemented Point Light and Billboard Reflections.  These are then coupled with both static and dynamic Reflection Shadows to achieve a look resembling the real world.  While the graphics horsepower is not available today to allow Epic to mirror the way light works in the real world exactly, they are able to achieve a very close representation.  For example, they are not able to render the road to be as detailed as real life.  The road shown in their Samaritin demo was much less un-uniform.  This is so because the hardware required to calculate reflections on a road as un-uniform as in real life (in real time) is simply not available today.

Read on for more details...

Source: GeForce

Discrete Graphics Card Shipments See Slight Increase Versus Previous Quarter

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 10, 2011 - 08:52 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, jpr, gpu, amd

The last quarter of 2010 saw shipments totalling 18.84 million units. In 2011, shipments rose slightly by 2% to 19.03 million add-in cards. According to JPR (Jon Peddie Research), while Q1 of 2011 behaved similarly to past years seasonally, it did not fair as well overall as shipments did not exceed those of Q1 2010. Where AMD increased units shipped by 5.7% versus the previous quarter (Q4 2010), NVIDIA saw a 2% decrease.

JPR notes that while increase in units shipped versus Q4 2010 was rather slight, it remains a positive change due to Q4 2010 behaving irregularly regarding the seasonal cycle.

The increased units shipped further reflect changes in market share for the two largest discrete graphics card makers. Versus last quarter, NVIDIA lost 2.7% of the market while AMD gained 4.4%. JPR states that AMD has gained 16.6% market share while rival NVIDIA lost 8.4 on a year-to-year basis.

 

Q1 2011

Market Share

Q4 2010

Market Share

Market Share

Change Qtr-Qtr

Previous Year

Market Share

Market Share

Change Yr-Yr

AMD 40.46% 38.77% 4.37% 34.65% 16.79%
NVIDIA 59.12% 60.77% -2.71% 64.50% -8.35%
Others 0.42% 0.47% -9.99% 0.85% -50.62%

JRP's reported market shares over time.

John Peddie Research notes that of the 19.03 million discrete graphics cards shipped, NVIDIA was the clear market leader, thanks in part to sales of CUDA and GPU-Compute cards used in scientific and data research.  The add-in board market is further composed of three main segments that amount to the 19.03 million boards shipped.  On the high end rests the enthusiast gamer (approx. 9 million sold per year) and GPU-compute markets which exists as lower volume of sales but higher price per card.  The majority of graphics card shipments come from the mainstream market which is a balance of price and volume.  Finally, the workstation segment which is smaller than even the enthusiast gaming market but traditionally sees higher average asking prices for the hardware that is shipped.

JPR estimates that the add-in market will fall 4.5% to $19.8 billion USD despite positive increases in the number of cards shipped due to "a gradual decline in the ASP."

As the chart illustrates, NVIDIA still remains the market juggernaut, shipping 11.25 million cards; however, AMD has made a lot of headway in the past year.  With both the AMD 6950 and Nvidia 560ti proving to be the cards of choice by many gamers worldwide competition is healthy and enthusiasts have only to benefit from the market's positive increases.

Source:

Corsair Updates Its Builder PSU Series With Three New Models

Subject: General Tech | May 10, 2011 - 04:59 PM |
Tagged: PSU, corsair

 Corsiar recently announced three new power supply models to update its popular CX Builder series. A favorite among many enthusiasts, the new CX V2 models off the same 80 plus certification as well as European Commission “European Commission Energy-Related Product (ErP) directive compliance for guaranteed efficiency and low standby power consumption.” Further, the new V2 models will carry have an extra warranty year on its predecessors, for a total of three years.

Ruben Mookerjee, VP and General Manager for Components at Corsair states that Corsair’s Builder PSU series offers enthusiasts quality and reliability at attractive prices. “Low cost of operation and trouble-free performance are highly desired features at every price point and today we are proud to offer even better efficiency and a longer warranty with the new Builder Series CX V2 PSUs.”

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The new CX V2 models will be available worldwide for purchase in May, including the CX600 V2, CX500 V2, and the CX430 V2. Offering 600, 500, and 430 watts respectively, the models offer the following specifications:

CX600 V2 - 600 Watts

  CX600 V2 CX500 V2 CX430 V2
Connections

1xATX, 1xEPS, 2xPCI-E, 4xMolex, 6xSATA, 1xFloppy

1xATX, 1xEPS, 2xPCI-E, 4xMolex, 5xSATA, 1xFloppy

1xATX, 1xEPS, 1xPCI-E, 3xMolex, 4xSATA, 1xFloppy
Max Current 25A @ +3.3V and +5V, 40A @ +12V, 0.8A @ -12V, 3A @ +5Vsb 25A @ +3.3V, 20A @ +5V, 34A @ +12V, 0.8A @ -12V, 3A @ +5Vsb 20A @ +3.3V and +5V, 28A @ +12V, 0.8A @ -12V, 3A @ +5Vsb
Max Wattage 600 Watts @ 30°C Ambient 500 Watts @ 30°C Ambient 430 Watts @ 30°C Ambient
MSRP $74 USD $64 USD $49 USD

 

Will a Corsiar PSU be part of your next build?

Source: Corsair

Your company lost $7 million last year? Can we buy it for $8.5 billion? Microsoft buys Skype.

Subject: General Tech | May 10, 2011 - 12:51 PM |
Tagged: ballmer, microsoft, boomtown, skype, purchase, billion

The rumour mill really dropped the ball on this one, as just a few hours ago it was Facebook that everyone was muttering would one day buy Skype.  Turns out that in just a few hours the new rumour that Microsoft was going to buy Skype for $7 billion became a reality at an $8.5 billion price tag. 

Skype lost $7 million dollars last year, though that number seems rather small compared to their overall balance sheet to date which puts them $686 million in the hole.  As All Things Digital is quick to point out, that is slightly less than what Microsoft Online Services Division lost last Quarter, proving all things are relative even at very high amounts of dollars.

On the plus side, Microsoft gets its hands on Skype's 763 million registered users, about twice as many as there are MSN users and significantly more that there are XBox Live users.  Toss in the TechNet people and you still have nowhere near the user pool that Skype brings.  That huge increase in the number of people Microsoft can reach possibly gives them the ability to recoup the money they spent to buy them.  Consider that 8 million users pay actual money for their Skype account, which Wired considers as at least a hint of Microsoft's strategy.

Most PC users who already use Windows, such as those at Ars Technica, are scratching their heads over the purchase while Linux users at Slashdot are very concerned about continuing support for the Skype Linux Client.

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"The Wall Street Journal reported earlier tonight that Microsoft–in what would be its most aggressive acquisition in the digital space–was zeroing in on buying Skype for $8.5 billion all in with an assumption of the Luxembourg-based company’s debt.

Sources told BoomTown tonight that the deal for the online telephony and video communications giant is actually done and will be announced early tomorrow morning."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

The Unity Linux GUI Controversy and Linux Mint's Decision to Stick With Gnome 2

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 9, 2011 - 09:06 PM |
Tagged: OS, linux, GUI

With the release of Ubuntu 11.04, a new desktop environment called Unity was released. Unity promised to revamp the Linux operating system’s desktop GUI to be more user friendly and intuitive. There are a multitude of noticeable changes that Unity brings to Ubuntu’s GUI compared to the classic Gnome environment. A new Windows 7 like task bar stretches along the left side of the screen where small icons of running and pinned applications reside. This new application dock is used instead of the traditional Gnome task bar that ran along the bottom of the screen. Also present is a new Ubuntu button that acts as an application launcher where installed programs can be sorted and searched for. Further, there are improvements to the workspace switcher and changes in window management with new hover-to-reveal scroll bars and each application’s (context sensitive) file menus being relocated to the top of the screen. These and other minor changes in the latest Ubuntu release have caused a flood of controversy among both reviewers and users alike.

Pictured:  Unity GUI (Insert:  Ubuntu Classic GUI)

On the positive side of the issue, there are a number of new and long time users of Ubuntu that have embraced the new GUI for it’s new features and design. Many people migrating from Windows 7 or Mac OS will become accustomed to the interface quickly as it works in much the same manner. Further, users of convertible tablet PCs have an easier time of navigating to applications and windows thanks to the larger icons. Touch and digitizer controls on the Dell Latitude XT worked well out of the box without a need to much with drivers, for example.

In contrast, as a newly developed desktop environment, it is less customizable from a user standpoint than the traditional Gnome GUI. Because of this (at the time of writing) restriction on customizability, many self-proclaimed power users have called Unity a step backwards in the aspects that make Linux a desirable OS--the ability to customize. Mainly, they dislike the constraints that Unity places on their ability to customize the operating system to their liking.

Read on for more...

IEEE seeks to increase Ethernet bandwidth, but to what?

Subject: General Tech | May 9, 2011 - 08:31 PM |
Tagged: IEEE, Ethernet

IEEE is a professional association known for creating technology standards, producing publications, and hosting activities both for educational and professional development. If you are browsing this website on a high speed connection you are almost definitely using IEEE 802.3 or IEEE 802.11 which are more commonly known as Ethernet and WIFI, respectively. IEEE constantly evolves their standards: speeds get faster, WIFI-n allowed you to leave 2.4 GHz, and other changes as needs progress over time.

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Change for the future.

IEEE recently appointed John D’Ambrosia to chair a group to determine how much demand will be required from Ethernet in the future. This committee could potentially end up producing a standard for Terabit network connections should demand deem it necessary.

The committee is being very cautious this time around with respect to how much speed is required for their next standard. The prior standard, 802.3ab, was discussed in 2005 and determined that 100 Gbps was a necessary advancement. Later it was discovered that many vendors did not require more than 40 Gbps and would delay adoption for several years. Regardless of whether they settle on Terabit or 400 Gigabit, this standard will take years to develop with Terabit taking even longer. Their findings about demand will be published early next year.

Source: IT World

Beauty is in the ears of the beholder; a second opinion on Corsair's SP2500 2.1 speakers

Subject: General Tech | May 9, 2011 - 06:05 PM |
Tagged: tweeter, subwoofer, speakers, sp2500, satellite, corsair, bass, audio, 2.1

Not too long ago Josh reviewed Corsair's 2.1 speaker set which goes by the name of SP2500 and then later Ryan gave it away to a reader.  He was very happy with the way that they performed, but seeing as how judging audio quality can be quite subjective and as most of our readers did not get a set of speakers perhaps a second opinion is a good idea.  To that end you can read about the same set of speakers as they were reviewed over at The Tech Report

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"Corsair has supplemented its line of audio products with a premium 2.1 speaker set. Is it worth the $250 asking price?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

AMD's new and improved minimalist BIOS replacement, Coreboot

Subject: General Tech | May 9, 2011 - 11:51 AM |
Tagged: amd, coreboot, uefi, bios, embedded, llano, opteron, s3

A lot of attention is being paid to UEFI, the new graphical BIOS replacement that not only lets you utilize 2TB+ drives as a boot device but will give you mouse control over the games that come integrated with your settings.  It does offer quite a few advantages over the old BIOS but adds complexity as well.  AMD has gone a different route with their Opteron series with Coreboot (aka LinuxBIOS) a different way of initializing a computer.  It does a very minimal hardware initialization and then moves into what is called a payload, which contains the familiar abilities of the BIOS but not integrated directly into the hardware initialization in any way.  This is far more useful for server and embedded applications than the latest ROG board, which is why embedded Llano will be receiving support and why Opteron already does.  Follow the links from The Inquirer for more.

Coreboot_menuconfig1.png

"CHIP DESIGNER AMD has announced that its upcoming Llano accelerated processing unit (APU) will support Coreboot.

AMD has been pushing development the BIOS replacement initiative Coreboot for many years but has focused on getting support for its embedded and server processors. Now the company has come out and said that all of its future processors will support Coreboot, from Llano onwards."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

NVIDIA acquires baseband and RF technology maker Icera

Subject: General Tech, Chipsets, Mobile | May 9, 2011 - 10:56 AM |
Tagged:

NVIDIA is really making moves towards providing the mobile industry with the computing power to bring on better and faster phones.  They took a big hit losing the DMI/QPI license from Intel, though the $1.5 billion court settlement took some of the sting from that loss, the battle essentially spelled the end for NVIDIA's motherboard chipset line.  Only being able to make motherboard chipsets for their main GPU competitor, AMD, might be amusing in an ironic sense but not an economically sound decision. 

icera.png

Tegra saw a change in NVIDIA's target market, suddenly they provided a mobile chip that provided very impressive computing power and did not absorb a huge amount of power.  With the acquistion of Icera they now have a team designing the chips most necessary for a phone to have, RF and baseband transmission.  Perhaps they've a big enough foot in the door of the mobile market that they won't be going anywhere soon.

Icera’s baseband and RF technologies span 2G, 3G and 4G networks. Joining them with our Tegra mobile super chip will result in a powerful combination. Tegra has secured a number of design wins across the mobile device spectrum, and we have extensive relationships across the industry, from device manufacturers to carriers. In short, we can scale Icera’s great innovation. For additional context on Icera’s industry-leading technology, check out this report from Strategy Analytics.

Our OEM partners will reap the benefits of faster time-to-market, better integration and enhanced performance. The deal will also open up a new market to NVIDIA. The $15 billion global market for baseband processors is one of the fastest-growing areas in the industry.

Looking ahead, Icera’s programmable baseband processor architecture will allow NVIDIA and its OEM customers to innovate and adapt signaling algorithms in the rapidly evolving mobile telecommunications market — network responsiveness is critical to delivering on the promise of untethered wireless visual computing. Icera’s highly efficient architecture makes it possible to cleanly integrate their baseband processor into system and software platforms rapidly and, ultimately, into the super chip itself, if that’s the best product approach.

Source: NVIDIA

AMD commits support to coreboot for the foreseeable future

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | May 7, 2011 - 10:51 PM |
Tagged: coreboot, amd

When you boot your computer, you probably see a splash screen from whatever motherboard manufacturer or system builder you purchased from. Under that splash screen your computer is busily preparing itself to accept your operating system of choice with a lot of proprietary code. coreboot, formerly LinuxBIOS, is an Free Software project first released over a decade ago designed to replace your aforementioned proprietary BIOS with their own lightweight code. They claim boot times to a Linux console of just 3 seconds.

8-amd.png

AMD Embedded: In this article.

Thursday, AMD announced on their blog that they have committed to supporting coreboot for all future products starting with Llano APU. They claim that support will continue for the foreseeable future for both features and products.

We are not expecting our readers to replace their BIOSes with coreboot except for a small segment of hardcore enthusiasts with a decent understanding of C. That said, the motivation of coreboot is not currently in the consumer market: the embedded market is the focus and AMD’s pledge of continued support should mean that cash registers, kiosks, and set-top boxes will have a little more AMD inside driving them.

Source: AMD Blog

KGPU lets the Linux kernel harness your GPU's power

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 6, 2011 - 05:25 PM |
Tagged: linux, kgpu, gpgpu

PC Per has discussed using the GPU as a massively-parallel augment to the CPU for a very long time to allow the latter to focus on the branching logic (“if/then/else”) and other processes it is good at that GPUs are not. AMD and Intel both have their attempts to bundle the benefits of a GPU on to their CPU parts with their respective technologies. Currently most of the applications outside of the scientific community are gaming and multimedia; however, as the presence of stronger GPUs saturates, we are seeing more and more functions relegate to the GPU.

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So happy together!

KGPU is an attempt to bring the horsepower of the GPU to the fingertips of the Linux kernel. While the kernel itself will remain a CPU function, the attempt allows the kernel to offload the parallel stuff to the GPU for large speed-ups and keep the CPU free for more. Their current version shows whole multiple speedups of eCryptfs, an encrypted filesystem, in terms of maximum read and write bandwidth by allowing the GPU to deal with the AES cipher.

We should continue to see speedups as tasks that would be perfect for the GPU are finally allowed to be with their true love. Furthermore, as the number of tasks relegated to the GPU increases we should continue to see more and stronger GPUs embedded in PCs which should decrease the fears for PC game developers worried about the number of PCs capable of running their applications. I am sure that is great news to many of our frequent readers.

Source: KGPU Project

Good news from TSMC, their new 12 inch Fab is ahead of the game

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2011 - 12:35 PM |
Tagged: fab, TSMC, 12, inch

At 10 million 8-inch equivalent wafers produced in 2010 and an expected 20 million by 2015 it is a good thing that not only is TSMC not having major production issues anymore but it also ahead schedule with the setup of Fab 15, which will be producing 28nm chips on 12 inch wafers.  Moving from 8 to 12 inches should also mean less cost per chip, though whether the savings will be absorbed by the costs of the new fab or if they will be passed straight on to the consumer is a question that cannot be answered until summer next year when they expect to get production capacity up to full speed.  DigiTimes has the scoop here.

tsmc-28nm-wafer5.jpg

"Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has begun equipment move-in for the phase 1 facility of a new 12-inch fab (Fab 15) with volume production of 28nm technology products slated for the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the foundry.

TSMC previously said it would begin moving equipment into the facility in June, and expected volume production to kick off in the first quarter of 2012.

Pilot runs at the phase 1 facility of Fab 15 are expected to start in the third quarter of 2011, following by volume production in the fourth quarter, said Jason Chen, senior VP of worldwide sales and marketing for TSMC, at a company event held on May 5. With new capacity coming online, TSMC will see its combined 12-inch capacity top 300,000 units a month."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Anonymous Denies Responsibility For Sony PSN Attack

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2011 - 09:20 AM |
Tagged: sony, Internet, Data Breach, Anonymous

As Sony analyzed the forensic data of the recent PSN/SOE attack, they discovered a text file named "Anonymous" and containing the phrase "We are legion," according to Network World. As a result of this, Sony even went so far as to accuse the hacker group as the responsible party in hacking the Playstation Network (and stealing customers' information) in a letter to the U.S. congress.

Anonymous responded to the implications brought by Sony today. Network World reports that Anonymous has stated they were not involved in the attack and that "others performed the attack with the intent of making Anonymous look bad." Based on a press release by the hacker group, it's prior victims had motive to irreparably defame the group in the public eye.  Anonymous stated that they have never been involved in credit card theft.  Further, they claim to be an "ironically transparent movement," and had they truly been behind the attack they would have claimed responsibility for their actions.

The press release goes on to state that "no one who is actually associated with our movement would do something that would prompt a massive law enforcement response."  They further claim that the world's standard fare of Internet thieves would have invested interest in making Sony and law enforcement agencies believe it was Anonymous to throw police off of their trail.

The hacker group names such former victims as Palantir, HBGary, and the U.S. Chamber Of Commerce of being organizations that would like to discredit Anonymous.  "Anonymous will continue its work in support of transparency and individual liberty; our adversaries will continue their work in support of secrecy and control," they state in their press release "we are anonymous."

As Anonymous, Sony, and spectators the world over debate, the affected public continues to wait for the true identies of the hackers involved in stealing 77 milion Sony customers' private information to come to light.

Netflix Employee Terminated For Accessing Customers' Credit Card Information

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 5, 2011 - 11:31 PM |
Tagged: Netflix, Customer Data, Corporate theft

It seems as though this Spring season is just a bad time for customers' personally identifiable information. Especially in the wake of the Sony PSN and SOE attack fiasco, to have yet another large corporation found to be involved in compromised customer data is rather disheartening for customers who trust companies with their private information.

Update:  LastPass has also reported a data breach, resulting in customers' emails being compromised.  Luckily; however, users' passwords were salted and hashed so users accounts on other sites should not be compromised in contrast to the Sony case where the passwords were compromised.

netflixlogo.png

Fortunately, in the case of Netlfix, they have determined who the responsible party was and have moved swiftly to address the issue. Maximum tech reports that an un-named call center employee for Netlfix was terminated for accessing customers' information without permission.  On April 4, 2011 Netflix discovered that one of their call center employees had been accessing confidential information of a number of customers that he had spoken with over the phone.  He was found to have accessed the name and credit card information of two customers in New Hampshire.

According to the article, Netflix is now in the process of notifying the two customers in question.

The amount of private data that customers entrust will be kept private by the companies that they do business with everyday is rather daunting.  When large corporations like Sony and Netflix run into problems with keeping information secure, one has to wonder how much compromised information goes under the radar of the majority of people.  While there is not much one can do to stop others accessing their data without permission once information has been lost in a data breach or as a result of corporate theft, people do have control over what information is given to compainies to begin with.  

It may seem rather paradoxical for me to quote Sony of all people; however, they have definitely seen the consequenses and thus can assuredly recommend that customers stay vigilant and protect themselves from fraud.  Using one time credit card numbers (if your bank/card provider offers this) or reloadable visa debit cards with just enough money on them fro the desired transactions can help to protect you from data breaches such as this.  Further, only provide the minimum amount of information necessary for a transaction, especially if it's to a company that you're unsure about.  While various forms of fraud protection can help, preventing yourself from ever needing to use fraud protection in the first place is the best thing you can do for yourself and your private data.  "Remain vigilant."

Source: Maximum Tech

Podcast #153 - Dell UltraSharp U3011 monitor, AMD Phenom II X4 980, 3D transitors and more!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 5, 2011 - 10:58 PM |
Tagged: ultrasharp, u3011, podcast, Phenom II X4 980, Intel, dell, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #153 - 5/05/2011

This week we talk about the Dell UltraSharp U3011 monitor, AMD Phenom II X4 980, 3D transitors 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!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:23:01

Program Schedule:

Source:

Ultra-cheap PC for education: 25$ gets you a very smart USB stick.

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | May 5, 2011 - 10:37 PM |
Tagged: usb computer, Education

In case you did not get enough solder for one day: you are in luck! David Braben, previously known for his work developing such games as Rollercoaster Tycoon, Thrillville, and Kinectimals, created an extremely low cost PC for educational use. His goal is ultimately to have computers like the one he created be accessible such that there would be functionally zero barriers to entry for students to pursue studying computing. A charity was created, the Raspberry Pi Foundation, under these beliefs to distribute this device hopefully sometime within the next 12 months.

Am I the only one who finds it weird that an affordable PC uses HDMI?

Given our demographic it would be blasphemous to not relay the specifications of the PC he created. The PC itself is slightly larger than a USB key in size and runs Ubuntu as its operating system though other distributions are likely possible. The processor is an ARM11 clocked at 700 MHz supported by 128MB of RAM and a GPU which supports OpenGL ES2.0 outputting at least 1080p resolutions. For connectivity it has USB port to attach to a keyboard and an HDMI port to attach to a monitor or flat screen TV. Storage is handled for by an SD card and other accessories are mountable such as the demonstrated 12 MP camera. While not explicitly listed on their site it appears as if connectivity is achieved wired via Ethernet through USB.
 
While this is obviously a low powered device its cost is only around 25$ and should be powerful enough to handle website interaction, scripting, and other educational applications. This PC and others like it should hopefully ensure that everyone has access to the internet and all of its educational, professional, and employment benefits.
Source: Geek.com

Potential LastPass Break-in Disclosed by LastPass

Subject: General Tech | May 5, 2011 - 06:05 PM |
Tagged: security, lastpass

One of the most important parts of security is authentication. A lot of our methods of authentication online revolve around passwords. There is an expectation these days that you are required to remember large passwords composed of completely random characters including numbers and symbols each unique from each other in the event that one source compromises the password you provide it. This necessity confronts our human nature of having terrible memory. Many programs have made attempts at solutions by storing and generating secure passwords for you.

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                           ^second

LastPass is currently one of the most popular platforms for that such need. Wednesday, Lastpass announced on their blog that they have noticed on odd behavior on Tuesday morning in their network traffic without being able to track the source. The security firm claims that while they are unable to tell if user data was compromised that there was a possibility that their list of user email addresses and the corresponding salted and hashed, an algorithm designed to encode data in a way that is almost impossible to ever decode, passwords. Passwords are hashed since the server does not need to know what the password is, only whether it is the same as what was input by the user, so storing the password itself is just asking for trouble in case of intrusion.
 
LastPass is claiming that they will require their users to change their master password especially in the event that your LastPass password is easily guessed. Currently I have not received such notification on my account but comments on their blog suggest that some have been notified of this requirement. If anything this potential break-in illustrates just how hard actual security is and how much of a concern it should be for the general population at all times that valuable information is being handled.