We now know about NVIDIA's New Years presents

Subject: General Tech | August 24, 2011 - 03:09 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, fermi, kepler, leak

There is good news and bad news out of SemiAccurate about NVIDIA today.  The bad news is that the chips are all Fermi, they have simply been shrunk to 28nm from 40nm.  That makes the idea of mobile variants arriving first very probable with the respectably low TDP shown on the leaked chart.  There at the bottom, in the row with the most question marks are the higher powered chips.   The good news is that the list is incomplete, there is more in store for consumers in the same time frame.  They will likely be 40nm but they will definitely not be Kepler chips.


"What does Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) have coming up for the post-Christmas GPU line? You have heard a lot about the 28nm parts, and here is what you will be seeing.

The short story is this, Nvidia is putting out a bunch of Fermi shrinks on 28nm, and you will likely see the mobile variants first. They are as follows, with some information a bit blurred to protect the exact sub-species of mole involved."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: SemiAccurate

Crytek releases an epic competitor to UDK, CryENGINE 3 Free

Subject: General Tech | August 24, 2011 - 06:36 AM |
Tagged: crysis, CryENGINE 3, crytek, epic, udk, unreal, sdk

There exists a common thought that developing a game is a relaxed experience involving playing all day. Creating games is really a difficult experience; the majority of entry-level jobs consist of creating trees and rocks for the latest Nickelodeon or Disney movie tie-in for 80-hour weeks on end. While there exist some levels of exceptions to that rule and some people who do not mind that lifestyle there is quite a bit of churn in the industry as people simply burn out. Outside the typical distribution chains there exists the independent movement similar to that seen in the 90’s where smaller companies can publish with a much lower overhead now thanks in majority to the internet. For those who wish to develop their own smaller titles there exists many options with Crytek adding one more to the ring; CryENGINE 3 has gone free for non-commercial use with royalty options for commercial applications.


The little engine that cryed is getting the royaltyment

CryENGINE 3, like the UDK, does not include native source code access (full game-code access though) which is to be expected from a modern commercial engine: there are likely quite a few sections of the source code that Crytek cannot legally release to the public because it was written by other individuals and companies. Also as should be expected from an engine like this, regular updates are promised including an update to allow the same DirectX 11 features as was recently patched into Crysis 2 to make your jersey barriers look stunningly lifelike.

Source: CryDev

The Sharkoon glides again

Subject: General Tech | August 23, 2011 - 04:56 PM |
Tagged: mouse, sharkoon, input, fireglider

Once you get over the name, the Sharkoon Fireglider turns out to be a decent mouse.  7 buttons of which 6 are programmable, 6 DPI settings with a colour indicator and weight which is adjustable all put it in the same league as other gaming mice.  XS Reviews found the mouse comfortable to use and the software to be easy to figure out as well.  See the review in full here.


"The Sharkoon Fireglider is the most tragically whimsical name I’ve ever heard a mouse being given. When your friends ask you, “So, what mouse are you using?”, the answer “Sharkoon Fireglider” is not one you can give with a straight face. Don’t bring up its slogan either, “Procure the best advantage possible with the SHARKOON FireGlider!” That’s right, “procure” it."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: XSReviews

Be careful the next time you hit Download.com

Subject: General Tech | August 23, 2011 - 03:28 PM |
Tagged: freeware, bloatware, download

In a move similar to the one that made Adobe so popular, Download.com no longer lets you just download your desired file, instead you must first install their downloader software.  Download.com and Cnet are no longer as popular as they once were, but were still a good repository for freeware and trialware.  Now you need to install their software to get at the programs you want and it is even better than you might think, you will get the software you want as well as a brand new toolbar and changes to your home page and default search engine.  Thankfully it is opt out, but for many people who are not paying attention, installing the next piece of software from Cnet will also involve uninstalling a toolbar and switching your browsers defaults back to what you chose for yourself.  The only good news is that programs won't get the wrapper until the next time the version is updated.  Catch the reaction at Slashdot.


"At Download.com, page designs have been repeatedly tweaked over the years to push its updater software (now called TechTracker), TrialPay offers, and the site's mailing list. Bothersome, perhaps, but certainly not inexcusable. They've got to make money off the site somehow, after all, and banner ads don't always do the job. Now, things have taken a turn for the worse: Cnet has begun wrapping downloads in its own proprietary installer. Not only will this cause the reputation of free, legitimate software to be tarred by Cnet's bloatware toolbars, homepage changes, and new default search engines — but Cnet is even claiming that their installer wrapping is 'for the users.'"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

Will Windows 8 be for the tablet or the ultrabook?

Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2011 - 03:56 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, tablet, windows 8, microsoft, Intel

Two contrasting opinions appeared this morning on the internet, concerned with not only the future of mobile computing in a possibly post-PC market but also touching on the impact Microsoft's Windows 8 could have on that choice.  DigiTimes has a report from Wistron, an original design manufacturer based in Taiwan, which is concerned with the ultrabook.  They see the coming year as dominated by the contentious ultrabook platform which Intel has been talking up recently.  The company managed US$21.1B in revenue last year, so they are neither a small player nor uninformed about the industry.  That does leave one wondering how they plan on making a profit if the bill of materials is as high as some manufacturers have claimed.  Still, that is where the manufacturer sees Windows 8 making the most difference to the market.

Ars Technica sees a different path for Microsoft to take, one that would be very different from the theory discussed by DigiTimes and very different from anything Microsoft has previously done.  In this article, Ars suggests that the PC market is at a standstill because we have hit a post-PC market thanks to the tablet.  While Microsoft has always considered the tablet to be a PC in a different form factor, Apple and other successful tablet marketers have visualized a completely different model.  While Apple may have taken it to the most extreme, with no visible OS nor even a USB connector so you can transfer files directly from a camera or thumbdrive, nor hook up a wired peripheral.  Other manufacturers have taken a less extreme approach but still hide the OS and have removed associated tasks like driver installation.  That is very different from Microsoft's version of a tablet or phone which runs a trimmed down but still very recognizable OS and tends not to sell very well.

The question becomes one of design incompatibility; if Microsoft wants to release a Windows 8 which emulates the successful tablet OSes of the competition it will have to design something so different from their past OSes that it would be unrecognizable as a PC.  In order to hide the OS and offload applications onto the cloud to make a perfect tablet the design choices would limit the effectiveness of Win8 as a PC OS.  On the flip side, if they choose to design for the Ultrabook, risky in that we still have yet to hear the end of the pricing issues, the OS will be much lighter than previous versions but will still have a recognizable file system, the ability to update or customize drivers and all the other features common to netbooks through laptops.  It will however not be a successful tablet OS, as history has shown with the failures of Microsoft's tablets and phones, some of which died before every being released.

The one thing that they can't do is try to make Windows 8 do both service as a laptop and a tablet OS.  If they go that way, users on both sides of the divide will likely lose as you end up with an OS not customizable enough to do duty on a more powerful notebook or desktop.  As well, it will have an interface which is similar to previous attempts by Microsoft to sell tablets which to this date have all failed against the competition.


"The launch of ultrabooks and Microsoft's Windows 8 OS will serve as growth drivers for the notebook industry in 2012, according to Simon Lin, chairman of Taiwan-based notebook ODM Wistron.

Shipments of ultrabooks will account for 10-20% of Wistron's total notebook shipments in 2012, Lin estimated.


Despite current economic turbulence touched off by debt issues in Europe and the US, Wistron's target to ship 30 million notebooks in 2011 remains unchanged, said Lin, who added that notebook Wistron's shipments will grow by a single-digit rate sequentially in the third and fourth quarters.

However, the company has slashed its LCD TV shipment target for the year to 8.5 million units, from 10 million units projected previously, while also scaling down the target for mobile devices from 10-12 million units to nine million.

Wistron has reported net profits of NT$4.5 billion (US$154.77 million) for the first half of 2011, down 20.44% from a year earlier. The earnings translated into an EPS of NT$2.28 for the six-month period."


Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Intel returns to upgrade cards for more of their crippled parts

Subject: General Tech, Processors | August 20, 2011 - 06:34 PM |
Tagged: upgrade, Intel

It has almost been a complete year since Intel decided to sell $50 upgrade cards for their processors. Ryan noted that the cost of upgrade between the two processors was just $15 (at the time) which made the $35 premium over just outright purchasing the higher-end CPU seem quite ludicrous. Whether or not you agree with Intel’s methodology is somewhat irrelevant to Intel however as they have relaunched and expanded their initiative to include three SKUs.


DLCpu: Cash for cache!

Ryan was deliberately trying to pose the issue in question-form because it really is business as usual when it comes to hardware companies to artificially lock down higher SKUs for a lower price-point. The one thing he did not mention was that this upgrade seems to be designed primarily for processors included in the purchase of a retail PC where the user might not have had the choice of which processor to include.

As for this upgrade cycle there are three processors that qualify for the upgrade: the Pentium G622 can be upgraded to the Pentium G693, receiving a clock-rate boost; the Core i3-2102 can be upgraded to the Core i3-2153, receiving a clock-rate boost; the Core i3-2312M can be upgraded to the Core i3-2393M, receiving both a clock-rate boost as well as extra unlocked cache. There is no word on if each SKU would have its own upgrade card or even the cost of upgrading apart from the nebulous “affordable”. Performance is expected to increase approximately 10-25% depending on which part you upgrade and what task is being pushed upon it, the Pentium seeing the largest boost due to this unlock.

Do you agree with this initiative?

Source: Intel

Battlefield 3: This is what the PC players will be enjoying

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Shows and Expos | August 20, 2011 - 01:06 AM |
Tagged: gamescom, battlefield 3

DICE was at Gamescom in Germany showing off an assortment of new Battlefield 3 details through their booth and a short keynote speech. The vast majority of the keynote consisted of the two speakers playing Battlefield 3 co-op on the console. Aside from the live co-op demo there was a trailer from a more classic Battlefield map inhabited with 64 players and fighter aircraft. Check it out below, preferably in high resolution and fullscreen. You can then check out the unofficial BF3Blog for the complete weapon list with claymores and mortar launchers.

So Call of Duty was leaving a bar and the pub server asked, “Gotta jet?”

It was also recently revealed that Battlefield 3 would be locked to 30 frames per second on the consoles which drew fire from Activision who runs their game at 60 FPS. Their claim was that the added framerate is required to have a more responsive experience. Unfortunately as our previous article reporting on Mozilla’s stance on responsiveness shows: it is not as simple as 33.3ms versus 16.7ms latencies. Even under the assumption that the framerate is at its maximum you cannot tell the exact duration between input and TV draw without the use of a high-speed camera looking at both player-controller and monitor. Many frames could go by without even looking at the input loop and all the other dependent code on parallel out-of-sync threads that finally alter the state of the threads that draws what you should see. Be careful what you read folks; while yes, higher framerate gives the higher potential for lower latency between press and draw it is not necessarily the case. All of that said we will be on the PC which has its own set of methodologies for how to handle multi-process (there are still latencies inherent with any multiprocess game, but with different limits) and thus this is entirely irrelevant to us, but still a good learning experience regardless.

Thermaltake expands their headset lineup with the affordable Shock Spin

Subject: General Tech | August 19, 2011 - 07:39 PM |
Tagged: headset, 2.1 headset

Thermaltake decided to think big with their new Shock Spin headphones, increasing the size of the drivers from 40mm to 50mm, which should help the quality of the low end.  It connects via 3.5mm plugs as opposed to USB and sports an in-line volume controller as well as microphone which is separate from the headset, it is intended to clip onto your shirt.  The audio quality did indeed benefit from the larger drivers but Bjorn3D felt that more effort could have gone into the physical design of the headset.


"The Thermaltake Spin currently is the only headset in the Tt eSport line with 50mm Neodymium drivers and comes in three colors: shining white, diamond black, and royal red. All three headsets come at a rather affordable price of $64.99 on Newegg.com, with the red one costing as low as $60.99. The cushioning around the drivers is made from velvet, as was previously observed in Shock One, and is designed to provide comfortable experience even after hours of gameplay. While our expectations of the headset are rather high, let's take a closer look in order to see if this headset is truly worth the price."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: Bjorn3D

Intel steps out of line to show off 3D transistors

Subject: General Tech | August 19, 2011 - 03:40 PM |
Tagged: Intel, transistor, tri-gate, Ivy Bridge

Back in May Intel released an interesting video showing off Tri-Gate technology, which brings a third dimension to transistors.  That will allow transitions to happen with much less voltage, reducing power requirements and heat generation and allowing for increases in transistor density.  Ivy Bridge was suggested as the likely suspect for Intel to first utilize Tri-Gates and over at SemiAccurate you can see the proof as well as the process.  Intel is claiming a 37% performance increase at low voltages or about half the power usage if you keep the same performance.  Read on to see the difference between FINFets that will be in the competitions chips and the Intel-only three dimensional transistors.


"Intel is set to become the first company to mass produce non-planar transistors with their upcoming 22nm process. Others are talking about FD-SOI, FINFets, and several related structures, but only Intel is set to produce anything in the near future.

There has been a lot of talk about what Intel is doing, and a lot of incomplete or incorrect information put forward from many different sources. What Intel is making is called Tri-Gate transistors, something that is a radical departure from planar ’2D’ transistors, and distinct from FINFets in a very important way."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: SemiAccurate

Podcast #166 - John Carmack interview, Crysis 2 DX11, Samsung SSD announcements, and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 19, 2011 - 12:32 AM |
Tagged: ssd, podcast, nvidia, Intel, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #166 - 8/18/2011

This week we talk about our John Carmack interview, Crysis 2 DX11, Samsung SSD announcements, 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: Ryan Shrout, 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: 1:04:28

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:37 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:01:35 John Carmack Interview: GPU Race, Intel Graphics, Ray Tracing, Voxels and more!
  6. 0:14:43 NVIDIA Releases Q2 FY 2012 Results
  7. 0:23:17 Acer AC700-1099 Chromebook Review: Cut to the Bone
  8. 0:24:05 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  9. 0:25:20 Never mind the barrier, we even tessellated the water table !
  10. 0:31:00 SSD News
    1. Samsung Announces New High Performance SSDs for Mobile
    2. Samsung Announces New 830 SATA 3 SSDs for Consumers
    3. Intel Releasing Firmware Fix For 8MB SSD Bug In Two Weeks (correction: NOW)
    4. The Good, the bad and the ugly of SSDs
  11. 0:41:32 AMD Announces New Sub-$100 Triple Core A6-3500 APU
  12. 0:43:11 Intel ultra-balks at Ultrabook manufacturers requests
  13. 0:47:50 Sandy Bridge-E Processors: Cooler Sold Separately                                       AMD Considers Bundling FX Processors With Sealed Loop Water Coolers (LCS)
  14. 0:52:20 Bitcoin Trojan Stuff
  15. 0:55:08 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Tripit.com and apps
    2. Jeremy: Antikeylogger01-USB @ $49 or Brain experimentation 
    3. Josh: AMD A-3850... same price, but DiRT 3 for FREE!
    4. Allyn: Anti-pick: McAfee iOS app fail
  16. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  17. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  18. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  19. 1:03:28 Closing

HP conference call this afternoon, could a major division drop?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | August 18, 2011 - 07:55 PM |
Tagged: webOS, hp, Compaq

HP’s third fiscal quarter has entered on the last day of July and today HP will hold their conference call to announce the state of their company in the present as well as some of their plans for the future. We typically do not report on HP’s earnings as they tend to be uninteresting. This quarter is slightly different; HP has announced that they are considering spinning or selling off their PC hardware division. Along with the potential of seeing HP and Compaq computers no longer be HP one thing we do know for sure is that webOS, including Touchpads, will not be their saving grace as they are definitely dead.


At least we know they’re not betting their future in Palm.

It certainly seems a little brash for HP to all-of-a-sudden pull out of PCs altogether and I do not expect such a harsh event to occur. While it is possible that at some point HP might stretch and ultimately break ties with their PC division I do not see them just changing the locks on the doors and sending in the repo men. As for webOS it was pretty easy to see that there was not enough room in the market for them as an actual contender in the mobile space. We shall see if HP is capable of reusing their technology in another application or simply selling off webOS, potentially in pieces, to other players.

Update, Aug 18/2011 @ 6:28PM: The conference call has now ended and we have a little bit more information about the process. HP made it clear that for now PSG, the division responsible for HP and Compaq computers, tablets, and other consumer but non-printer devices, is still an operating division and will be for the forseeable future. However, over the next 12-18 months they have been authorized by the board to explore their options with spinning off or selling the division. The conference call also seemed to heavily emphasize their desire to shut down or spin off low margin divisions. To me, that sounds akin to a parent telling their misbehaving kid that someone's going to get a slap when they get home -- it is pretty clearly not the neighbors. One or two years down the road, we still may very well see HP do what IBM did with Lenovo.

In other news: WebOS' hardware division is dead and buried but they are still looking to utilize the software either internally, by licensing it to third parties, or selling it.

Source: HP

Llano is running short

Subject: General Tech | August 18, 2011 - 02:43 PM |
Tagged: shortage, llano, amd

Not all is well with AMD and GLOBALFOUNDRIES 32nm process as the yields have been so low as to effect the supply of Llano chips.  Currently only two chips, the A8-3850 and A6-3650 are on the market, with three more models expected fairly soon.  Since AMD beleives that there supply difficulties will be overcome by September the shortages should not delay the release of the new lower power chips.  DigiTimes also mentioned some news about NVIDIA's 28nm products that makes the outlook for this time next year a little bleak.


"AMD's latest Llano-based processors are currently suffering from shortages due to the weaker-than-expected yield rates of the related 32nm process; however, AMD has already notified its partners that the shortage should be resolved by early September, according to sources from motherboard makers.

Due to the new platform's strong performance/price ratio, market demand for Llano APUs is rising gradually with sales of the compatible A75-based motherboards also expected to increase, the sources noted. However, because the supply of Llano APUs in July started turn tight because of weak 32nm yields, AMD currently has a lot of orders from the retail channel, but is unable to fulfill the shipments.

With AMD set to resolve its APU shortages in early September, many motherboard makers are already starting to increase their A75-based motherboard shipments.

In addition to the existing Llano CPUs, A8-3850 and A6-3650, AMD will launch three more 65W APUs, A8-3800, A6-3600 and A6-3500 at the end of the third quarter.

In additional news, although AMD, Nvidia and Qualcomm's 28nm chips finished tape-outs in June, and the companies are all ready to place orders in the second half, as demand from the retail channel remains weak, it is likely that the players will delay their orders to a later time, the sources added."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Notch uses the Quake scroll. The Earth moves.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 18, 2011 - 06:55 AM |
Tagged: Mojang, bethesda

So the next game for the Minecraft creators is called Scrolls or at least it was before Bethesda threatened to sue Mojang because the name is too close to their franchise’s name, “The Elder Scrolls”. While I would personally find a lawsuit from Blizzard more justified for the name Minecraft than Bethesda’s claim: even that would seem somewhat ludicrous. After some attempt at coming to some middle-ground on behalf of Notch, they finally laid down the gauntlet and requested to settle this intellectual property dispute in Zenimax’s court; Notch challenged Bethesda to a 3-on-3 deathmatch in their own Quake 3.


Fight to the deathmatch… what a good iDea

(characters from Bethesda and Mojang)

While ultimately intellectual property should not be such a hard-fought battle since its purpose is to foster creativity rather than stifle it, this certainly does have good publicity potential. I hope that regardless of this glove-slap’s outcome that Bethesda comes to its senses and realizes that they cannot own that breadth of the trademark and lets Mojang innovate in their indie corner. Failing that, BFG.

Source: Notch's Blog

Bumpday 8/17/2011: Is your DOS shelling out some coin?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 18, 2011 - 04:26 AM |
Tagged: bumpday

We just recently saw Tim write up a piece on a Trojan designed to force your computer to mine for Bitcoins and deliver the results to an attacker or someone the attacker wishes to receive the currency. The virus currently affects versions of Windows from 98 straight up through Windows 7 and shows just another way that viruses are being used to make money. That was not always the case -- at one point viruses were almost always about making you aggravated in some way shape or form, at least until people figured out how to make money from someone else’s computer.


Mined the intrusion? Just a bits.

So back in 2000, back before the forums could remember your username, what antivirus software should you use? Personally I didn’t use any as I figured the occasional reinstall of Windows was enough if I got nailed by a virus. For the others who used Antivirus software, which did they choose? PC-Cillin 98 was the choice of a K7M motherboard owner because the K7M motherboard chose it. Norton and McAfee were still around back then though Grisoft, later AVG, made its niche as the free antivirus back then as well. F-Secure got a nod for picking up something that both McAfee and Norton couldn’t. Eventually the thread slipped on some Black Ice and started talking about Firewalls which are now mostly irrelevant due to routers.


Source: PCPer Forums

New Trojan.Badminer Malware Steals Your Spare Processing Cycles To Make Criminals Money At Your Expense

Subject: General Tech | August 18, 2011 - 03:02 AM |
Tagged: trojan, opencl, mining, Malware, gpgpu, bitcoin

A new piece of malware was recently uncovered by anti-virus provider Symantec that seeks to profit from your spare computing cycles. Dubbed Trojan.Badminer, this insidious piece of code is a trojan that (so far) is capable of affecting Windows operating systems from Windows 98 to Windows 7. Once this trojan has been downloaded and executed (usually through an online attack vector via an unpatched bug in flash or java), it proceeds to create a number of files and registry entries.


It's a trojan infected bitcoin, oh the audacity of malware authors!

After it has propagated throughout the system, it is then able to run one of two mining programs. It will first search for a compatible graphics card, and run Phoenix Miner. However, if a graphics card is not found, it will fall back to RPC miner and instead steal your CPU cycles.  The miners then start hashing in search of bitcoin blocks, and if found, will then send the reward money to the attacker’s account.

It should be noted that bitcoin mining itself is not inherently bad, and many people run it legitimately. In fact, if you are interested in learning more about bitcoins, we ran an article on them recently. This trojan on the other hand is malicious because it is infecting the user’s computer with unwanted code that steals processing cycles from the GPU and CPU to make the attacker money. All these GPU and CPU cycles come at the cost of reduced system responsiveness and electricity, which can add up to a rather large bill, depending on where you live and what hardware the trojan is able to get its hands on.

Right now, Symantec is offering up general tips on keeping users’ computers free from the infection, including enabling a software firewall (or at least being behind a router with its own firewall that blocks unsolicited incoming connections), running the computer as the lowest level user possible with UAC turned on, and not clicking on unsolicited email attachments or links.

If you are also a bitcoin miner, you may want to further protect yourself by securing your bitcoin wallet in the event that you also accidentally become infected by a trojan that seeks to steal the wallet.dat file (the file that essentially holds all your bitcoin currency).

Stay vigilant folks, and keep an eye out on your system GPU and CPU utilization in addion to using safer computing habits to keep nastly malware like this off of your system.  On a more opinionated note, is it just me or have malware authors really hit a new low with this one?

Source: Symantec

Everything in your notebook is power saving, why not your wireless mouse?

Subject: General Tech | August 17, 2011 - 09:40 PM |
Tagged: wireless mouse, low power, apace

The Apacer Blue Engine Mouse M721 will not impress gamers looking for huge DPI ratings.  What separates it from the rat pack are three power saving modes which allow Real World Labs to use the mouse and its two AAA batteries over 4 days of fairly heavy usage without draining it.  As well, it utilizes Bluetooth so you do not have to worry about lines of sight while you are using, especially handy as the mouse wil function on any surface.  Just don't sit at a table with the laptop on top while using the mouse on your jeans below the table ... it will look bad.


"The latest Blue Engine Mouse M721 by Apacer may not dazzle you with its speed and features but its blue engine tracking sensor and three power saving modes are more than sufficient enough to give it an edge over similar wireless solutions."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Never mind the barrier, we even tessellated the water table!

Subject: General Tech | August 17, 2011 - 06:56 PM |
Tagged: crysis 2, dx11, tessellation

The Tech Report took an indepth look at the "Enhanced, bionic Jersey barrier in DirectX 11" recently.  The original Crysis is still famous for its ability to crush even the best GPUs that were available when it was originally released and its continued ability to do so at very high resolutions.  Now that Crysis 2 has power slid out of it's console roots and we PC gamers received not only support for DX11 but also a high resolution texture patch which helped the game with its visual impact, it seemed worthwhile to investigate the actual changes to the process used to draw images in Crysis 2.  That lead to the discovery of not only the world's most detailed concrete barriers but also the realization that whether you can see it or not, water is being rendered in painstaking detail.


A hydrologist's dream

"When we fired up Crysis 2 in its DirectX 11 "ultra" quality mode, we saw that some obvious peaks were related to the creation of tessellated objects. Not only could we see the hull shaders used in the first stage of tessellation—proof that tessellation was in use—but we were also able to see the polygon meshes output by the tessellation process. We noticed some of the same things Damien pointed out, along with a few new ones, including one of the true wonders of this game's virtual world."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:



So you think nobody knows what you've been watching on the net?

Subject: General Tech | August 17, 2011 - 06:03 PM |
Tagged: security, fud, tracking cookie, super cookie, ETag value

KISSmetrics is a small company which is able to track your movements across sites like Hulu and Spotify, using what some call a super cookie but more accurately is an ETag value.  That ETag value is a unique identifier stored in both a browser's cache and metadata folders which can be sent to KISSmetrics via JavaScript along with a header, so that any time you visit a site partnered with KISSmetrics they will know it is you.

Of course, very soon after the technical documentation of the trick was released to the net KISSmetrics claimed that they were completely innocent and that it was all a misunderstanding.  According to the CEO of KISSmetrics the company has never tracked anyone nor shared the information with a third party, so either the company never plans to ever make any money or he is being very specific in his definitions of what "is is".  Even better, they claim not to use ETag values at all only first party cookies.  As well, they claim support for the Do Not Track header and a "consumer-level opt-out" for their tracking as well.  That is disingenuous in that there is no sign of how to start the opt out process on their site, nor is there any clear way that they could identify you in order to let you opt out without a cookie or ETag placed on your machine in the first place.

The Do Not Track header is a good idea, but in addition you should consider browser add ins such as BetterPrivacy, NoScript and Ghostery as essential and perhaps even get used to running Chrome in Incognito mode, if you do not want to be trapped.  Don't use them to disable the ads which fund your favourite websites, they should be used to identify and possible block violations to your privacy only.  You can follow the link at The Register if you would like to see the technical research that has lead to these questions about KISSmetrics.


"A privacy researcher has revealed the evil genius behind a for-profit web analytics service capable of following users across more than 500 sites, even when all cookie storage was disabled and sites were viewed using a browser's privacy mode."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Intel ultra-balks at Ultrabook manufacturers requests

Subject: General Tech | August 16, 2011 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, Intel

There has been a bit of talk on the PC Perspective front page about Intel's new Ultrabook form factor and if it can profit Intel to release in a market that already has Apple firmly embedded in the minds of consumers as the "thin" guys.  First were the complaints from manufacturers that the bill of costs for an ultrabook was in the neighbourhood of $1000, which would put the price of sale above the competitions.  Intel then responded with a claim that the 11" and 13" ultrabooks with a thickness of 18mm will be between $493 to $710 to manufacture and the larger 14" to 17: inches, 21mm thick models will run between $475 and $650.

That price disparity seemed a little odd, as there was no explanation from Intel about where the manufacturers got their maths wrong nor an announcement of price drops from Intel to make up the difference.  What we did see was a promise by Intel to provide $300 million in funding to those who develop technologies to further the ultrabook form factor, which might help offset some of the costs of manufacturing but certainly not enough to reduce the bill of sales by a third or more.

Now the waters are even further muddied as we hear today from Digitimes that Intel is refusing a request by manufacturers to cut the price of the CPU models which will be found in ultrabooks by half.  Instead Intel is willing to drop the price by 20%, along with some marketing subsidies which will help once the product makes it to market but which will not lower the cost of the bill of materials at all.  That is not going to help make the ultrabook a good investment for the first-tier manufacturers to develop.  Add to that concern the fact that Intel's coming ultraportable Oak Trail platform, with paired Atom Z670 CPUs costs almost four times as much to produce as a Tegra 2 machine, even the discount that Intel refused is not going to make them attractive to sell.


"Intel's Oak Trail platform, paired Atom Z670 CPU (US$75) with SM35 chipsets (US$20) for tablet PC machine, is priced at US$95, already accounting for about 40% of the total cost of a tablet PC, even with a 70-80% discount, the platform is still far less attractive than Nvidia's Tegra 2 at around US$20. Although players such as Asustek Computer and Acer have launched models with the platform for the enterprise market, their machines' high price still significantly limit their sales, the sources noted.

As for Ultrabook CPUs, Intel is only willing to provide marketing subsides and 20% discount to the first-tier players, reducing the Core i7-2677 to US$317, Core i7-2637 to US$289 and Core i5-2557 to US$250.

As for Intel's insistence, the sources believe that Intel is concerned that once it agrees to reduce the price, the company may have difficulties to maintain gross margins in the 60% range and even after passing the crisis, the company may have difficulty in maintaining its pricing. Even with Intel able to maintain a high gross margin through its server platform, expecting Intel to drop CPU prices may be difficult to achieve, the sources added."

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Source: DigiTimes

Mozilla Removing Version Numbers from Firefox's About Page

Subject: General Tech | August 16, 2011 - 09:05 AM |
Tagged: software, mozilla, firefox, browser

A new bug report on Mozilla's Bugzilla website indicates that the versioning of the popular web browser will be hidden from the users in future builds.  Specifically, bug 678775 was posted late last week by Asa Dotzler, and addresses the version number on Firefox's About page.  The bug report recommends removing the specific version number in favor of a more general phrase such as "Firefox checked for updates 20 minutes ago, you are running the latest release," according to Asa.  Firefox would then, ideally, check for an update whenever the About window was opened, to keep the update message current and the user running the latest build.


The current Firefox About page where version numbers are still listed.

While the specific version number will be removed from the About page, users would still be able to dig into the browser's less well known areas, such as the about:support configuration page, to see it.

On one hand, Firefox's new rapid-release schedule will make versioning a less efficient method of, well, versioning; however, the About page of an application has traditionally been the spot to find the version number, and removing the version number from what is essentially a version number information page seems counter productive.  Firefox will likely be on version 7 before the end of the year, and considering version 5 was just released in June, the argument that version numbers are getting out of hand has some merit.  With that said, a simplified message to users that they are, in fact, running the latest version is a good thing to implement, but does it necessitate no longer displaying the version number?

Personally, I enjoy knowing the specific version number of the applications I run, but I'm curious what you guys think; should the version number be buried?

Source: Mozilla