Interrupting Oktoberfest to run Mesa benchmarks under Linux

Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2011 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: linux, mesa, HiZ, Intel, sandy bridge

Phoronix are dedicated to testing out the current limitations of Linux and the graphics performance Sandy Bridge is capable of, so much so that they abandoned the joys of Oktoberfest to test the new implementation of hierarchical Z support for Intel's Mesa DRI driver.  Specifically they wanted to see the improvements made to the performance of the graphical portion of a Core i5 2520M.  The new implementation did well, with improvements across the board though more impressive in some tasks that others.  Read on to see what you can expect from the new Mesa driver.

oktoberfest.jpg

"While there are still several days left of this year's Oktoberfest, to take a short break this morning from benchmarking the wonderful beer, food, and Bavarian females, here are benchmarks of the new Intel HiZ Linux support. Just a few days ago a new, nearly ready patch-set was published for implementing hierarchical Z support within Intel's Mesa DRI driver."

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Source: Phoronix

Still hope for SSL, the web ain't dead yet

Subject: General Tech | September 26, 2011 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: fud, security, SSL

SSL and secure data transfer are wounded, but not dying quite yet if you use an elderly encryption protocol called RC4 or ARC4.  Current AES is suggested as the preferred way of encrypting data transfers, but the BEAST (Browser Exploit Against SSL/TLS) attack is capable of defeating AES encryption.  Unfortunately there are attack methods which are able to defeat RC4, specifically as it is implemented for WPA and WES in wireless networks.  Google informed The Register that they have been using RC4, although clients that attempt to connect which don't support that encryption method are offered the vulnerable AES method.  Google also pointed out the latest developer version of Chrome protects against the BEAST attack but don't mention when the main version of Chrome will protect users.

Broken_Key_Extractor.jpg

"The recommendations published Friday by two-factor authentication service PhoneFactor, suggest websites use the RC4 cipher to encrypt SSL traffic instead of newer, and ironically cryptographically stronger, algorithms such as AES. Google webservers are already configured to favor RC4, according to this analysis tool from security firm Qualys. A Google spokesman says the company has used those settings "for years."

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Source: The Register

Yet another The Old Republic trailer, oh and release date

Subject: General Tech | September 26, 2011 - 03:49 AM |
Tagged: The Old Republic, Star Wars, MMO, BioWare

WOW there is a lot of anticipation building up towards EA’s The Old Republic. The MMO Star Wars fans seem to be swooning over after each successive trailer release has released yet another trailer. Made entirely in-game (with the likely exception of a few title sequences) the new trailer shows the breadth of the MMO: Ton-Ton to Wookie; Droid wars to Space battles. Then, with a final unexpected jolt of music, it is finally revealed to be released December 20th, 2011 in North America and December 22nd, 2011 in Europe. And the floor be once again littered with passed out piles of PC Gamers.

Those three Jawa got messed up!

While I am personally not an MMO player it looks to me like BioWare will do Star Wars fans justice with this offering. Few companies can spread their focus and make massive games like BioWare and that is one of the main attributes required to recreate an entire world for many different viewpoints to explore. Many were nervous about the fate of The Old Republic; BioWare was very cagey with disclosing their release dates which led to speculation of behind the scene troubles developing a game as massive as they promised. Now that a date is official and is as nearby as it is, it seems like BioWare was simply just keeping the mantra: “It is done when it is done.”

Source: BioWare/EA

Tweak Windows 8 With The Metro UI Tweaker Utility

Subject: General Tech | September 25, 2011 - 06:56 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, windows, Utility, ui, tweaker, microsoft, Metro, developer preview, beta

Are you trying out the Windows 8 Developer Preview that was released earlier this month and finding the new Windows Explorer Ribbon and Metro UI start menu frustrating? If so, Lee Whittington has just the tweaking utility for you!

A freeware tool developed for The Windows Club dubbed Metro UI Tweaker (for Windows 8) is the first third party tweaking tool for the upcoming operating system. It provides several tweaking options to make the transition to the Metro UI more palatable including the ability to completely disable (or enable) the Metro Start Menu and new Ribbon interface in Windows Explorer (which can also be easily hidden without the need for this tool via an icon in the corner). When disabling the Metro Start Menu and Ribbon, the Metro style Task Manager and new lock screen will also be disabled.

ui_tweaker.jpg

Such sweeping changes are not the only tweaks possible, however. The Windows 8 utility also lets you add power options including sleep, restart, and full shutdown to the Metro interface (when clicking on your user name’s picture), as well as adding any application or file to the Metro Start Menu.

Now at version 1.0, the Metro UI Tweaker is available for download from here for those adventurous enough to use a beta tweaking tool on a beta operating system. How do you feel about the new Windows 8 interface? Will you be checking out this tool? Let us know in the comments.

Don’t touch my wife! VIA sues Apple for patent infringement

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 24, 2011 - 04:08 AM |
Tagged: VIA, Patent, htc, apple

Do not let the title deceive you: we probably also find Apple and Patent Infringement stories as boring as you do; this case on the other hand makes it through our tightly meshed sift and into our news feed. VIA is best known for chipsets and specialty x86 processors. VIA’s influence was recently felt through the introduction of the netbook craze as a result of their VIA Nano CPU line which lead to the rise of the Intel Atom processor line. Recently VIA decided that they would set their sights on Apple and sue them over three patents. This is one of those cases where the what is not nearly as funny as the alleged why.

Apple-logo.jpg

Did Apple take a bite out of VIA’s forbidden fruit?

(Image from Wikipedia, modified)

If it seems to you that VIA is suing Apple over seemingly no reason then you probably are correct. There does not appear to be any public reason for VIA to go after Apple. HTC on the other hand has many reasons to sue, technically counter-sue, Apple. For those wondering where HTC came from in this discussion: the chairperson for HTC is the wife of the CEO of VIA Technologies. It very much seems like the whole reason for the VIA lawsuit is to protect his wife's company in their own lawsuits. If these patent lawsuits continue on their current trajectory then we might just be forced to sit every company down and settle like we did with similar issues back in the 90’s: Springer.

Did Apple bite off more than they could chew? (Registration not required for comments)

Source: PCMag

Battlefield 3 Beta Releasing Next Week On All Platforms

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2011 - 06:12 PM |
Tagged: PC, gaming, beta, battlefield 3

PC Perspective’s own Scott Michaud has been eagerly awaiting the launch of Battlefield 3, and was kind enough to keep me in the loop on the important aspects of the upcoming multi-platform multiplayer shooter. One aspect that many gamers (including myself) worldwide are likely salivating over is the imminent Battlefield 3 beta launch next week. Specifically, the Battlefield 3 beta will be available for download starting September 29th, 2011 for the general public and the 27th for those who pre-ordered or purchased the Limited/Tier 1 edition of Medal Of Honor.

The beta will be available on all major platforms, including PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3. In order to play the beta on the Xbox 360 and PS3, the game will show up automatically in the Xbox Live Marketplace and Playstation Network respectively. On the PC side of things, gamers will need to download EA’s Origin client first, and then download the Battlefield 3 beta from the free games section of the Origin client.

The open beta will last until October 10th, and until then there are no caps or time limits regarding how far you can rank up or how often you can play. The map in question will be the “Op: Metro” map from the Alpha. Unfortunately, any ranks or stats you gain from the beta will not carry over into the final game.

While many gamers will be playing the beta on Xbox 360 and PS3, there will likely be a good number of gamers who will play it on the PC for the PC experience. During the EuroGamer expo, DICE General Manager Karl Magnusson spoke to NVIDIA, and stated that 1.5 million copies of Battlefield 3 had been pre-ordered and that DICE was happy to be back on the PC. Further, he stated that they are enjoying the feedback from gamers and whether it is the visuals, audio, or game play that they are enjoying, “all the feedback we get is really freakin’ cool.”

The minimum (and recommended) system requirements for the PC are as follows: 

  Minimum Recommended
OS Windows Vista SP2 32 bit Windows 7 64 bit
Processor 2 GHz dual core  quad core
Memory (RAM) 2 GB 4 GB
Hard Drive 20 GB 20 GB
Graphics (GPU) DirectX 10 with 512mb RAM DirectX 11 with 1GB RAM
Sound DirectX compatible DirectX compatible
Peripherals Keyboard, mouse, DVD-ROM Keyboard, mouse, DVD-ROM

 

Have you been following the development of Battlefield 3 and are you looking forward to the open beta? Let us know in the comments.

Source: EA

PCPer Live! Alienware M17x with Radeon HD 6990 Unboxing and Early Test

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Mobile | September 23, 2011 - 05:07 PM |
Tagged: pcper live, m17x, hd 6990, alienware

UPDATE: Shows over folks!  Thanks to those of you that stopped by and we'll be doing more of these types of things in the very near future.  Feel free to watch the reply hosted on YouTube if you want.

So, here we go.  After weeks of screwing around with a complely new studio setup at the PC Perspective office, we are going to try something new.  Consider this an ultra-alpha-beta if you will.  Come stop by our Live Stream channel below to watch us unbox and play around with the new Alienware M17x gaming laptop complete with Radeon HD 6990 graphics!  You can even use the Justin.tv chat located at http://justin.tv/pcper to talk with us live and ask questions, etc. 

Oh, and we are going to give away some random stuff sitting around the office to those of you that comment in the Justin.tv chat too, so there is that as well.  :)

Just as a side note: this is our first attempt at something like this so it might be perfect but it is more than likely going to be a bit rough arond the edges.  I am most curious though to get some feedback on what you liked, didn't like or would like to see additional or changed in this kind of process.  We aren't going to focus only on "unboxings" and stuff - far from it.  Instead expect to see live demonstrations of hardware, overclocking attempts, multi-display gaming setups and more.  If you can, please leave some feedback in the comments below!!

Note: We should be underway by 5:25pm ET or so!

Source: PCPer

Comcast Launches Low Cost Internet Essentials Program

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2011 - 10:32 AM |
Tagged: Internet, Comcast, computer

This week saw the national launch of Comcast’s internet connectivity program for low income families. As a result of the Comcast-NBC merger, the company was required to create a low cost option for families in the US to connect to the internet. Dubbed the Internet Essentials program, it is undoubtedly a good thing to come out of the deal despite the more nebulous aspects.

comcast_c2.jpg

The Internet Essentials program entails a $9.95 plus tax per month cable connection with 1.5 Mbps download speeds and 384 Kbps upload speeds, which is a good value compared to more expensive DSL or slower dial up connections. In addition to the Internet connection, families who sign up will receive a voucher through Acer or Dell for a computer in the amount of 149.99 plus tax. While specific specifications of the computer have not been given, Comcast describes it as a netbook computer with Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and the Windows 7 Starter operating system. It may also be bundled with productivity software when available. Families will also have access to free training materials in print, online, or in person. The service will be available throughout the Comcast service area for eligible families. In order to qualify for the service, families must have at least one student eligible for free lunches through the National School Lunch Program, must not have any overdue Comcast bills or unreturned equipment, and the household must not have had Comcast service for the past 90 days. Unfortunately, those families with students who only qualify for reduced price (but not free) lunches will not qualify for the Internet Essentials program.

The ISP will begin taking customers starting in the 2011 to 2012 school year, and will continue taking on new customers for three years following the initial roll out. Customers who are already using the Internet Essentials service will continue to be eligible for it so long as at least one child is eligible for free lunches, they do not close their Comcast account, and they do not violate the company’s residential ISP service agreement.

I for one am glad to see Comcast offering this service as the Internet is becoming increasingly important for students as a learning, collaboration, and productivity tool. Students can now be on a more level playing field in their school work, and this is great news, even if Comcast was forced to offer it as a condition of their merger approval. If you are interested in or know a family that might benefit from the Internet Essentials service, please head over to the company’s website or call 1-855-8-INTERNET (1-855-846-8376) for an application.

Source: Comcast

Win a Free Drobo Storage Device at PC Perspective!!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Storage | September 22, 2011 - 04:42 PM |
Tagged: pcper, giveaway, drobo, contest

UPDATE: Just a couple more days left on this contest - we are closing entries for this Drobo at 12:01am EST on September 26th!

So you know here at PC Perspective we are big fans of backing up your data.  And one such brand of devices that helps users do that efficiently and safely is Drobo.  We are still working on our Drobo FS review here internally, but should probably check out Allyn's previous review of the 8-bay Drobo Pro to get an idea of the technology and reliability of Drobo.

But, back to the point, did we say you could win a brand new Drobo for yourself?  Yes, you can get your hands on a free Drobo FS unit by simply filling out a form and using your Twitter and Facebook accounts to spread the good word of data security!!

drobo3.png

What do you have to do?  It's a simple three step process:

  1. Follow @Drobo on Twitter and send a message to all your friends with the hash tags #drobo and #pcper telling them about your love of both!
    1. OR .... hit up Drobo on their Facebook page and leave a note on YOUR wall for your friends on the same topic - backing up your data and how Drobo gets it done.
  2. Finally, fill out the form at http://bit.ly/pcperdrobo to finish the job.

You will be emailed a coupon for a Drobo even if you don't win the free one, so you can still get something out this deal, right?!?

Our thanks go out to Drobo for the donations and to our loyal reader base for support PC Perspective over the years!

Source: PCPer

PC Gaming to Surpass Console Gaming in Revenue by 2015

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 22, 2011 - 02:26 PM |
Tagged: skyrim, rage, pc gaming, diablo iii, consoles, battlefield 3, batman

During a conference call with NVIDIA this week some interesting information from DFC Intelligence, "a strategic market research and consulting firm focused on interactive entertainment and the emerging video game, online game, interactive entertainment and portable game markets" according to their webiste, was revealed that paints the world of PC gaming in a much more positive light than previously expected.  By anyone's account, the coming fall and winter release schedules are going to be packed with fantastic releases:

games1.png

Courtesy NVIDIA

Several of these games, including DOTA 2, Diablo III and The Old Republic are going to be PC-only titles with others (like Battlefield 3, RAGE and Skyrim) that will without question look better and play better on the PC.  This sets up a great time for hardware companies like NVIDIA and AMD to sell system upgrades in order to maximize user experience in these titles.  

And while most gaming pundits have been telling us for years that PC gaming is dying, the report from DFC tells a different story:

games2.png

Courtesy NVIDIA

Based on revenue alone, estimates show PC gaming to surpass the sales of console games by 2014 with steady growth.  How can this be?  Have you stopped by your local Gamestop or Best Buy and seen the shelf space devoted to PC games compared to that devoted to the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii?

games3.png

Courtesy NVIDIA

Here is the key and it is something we have always suspected but haven't really been able to nail down: packaged sales are dying while digital distribution methods and new monetary game mechanics are increasing.  Because the industry's most prolific digital sales platform is notoriously tight with sales numbers (Valve's Steam), we have to depend on third party reports from DFC and others.  According to this chart, the digital sales of gaming on the PC are skyrocketing and will take PC revenues past consoles in just a few years time.  

One note here: this does NOT just include downloaded games in the traditional sense.  Instead, new pay models like the monthly subscriptions of World of Warcraft and "free to play" models that charge for upgrades and additional features are really going to be pushing the industry forward.  Looking at titles like League of Legends that claims 15 million PC gamers worldwide and others like World of Tanks and World of Planes, this trend is growing and though it differs from the "traditional" PC gaming mentality, it appears to be dominating our future.

games4.png

Courtesy NVIDIA

Many a PC gamer has lamented about the "console port" generation of games and this graph demonstrates how the power of the PC and the power of the current generation of consoles have diverged over the years.  By NVIDIA's estimates we are now about 8-9x the performance level of the Xbox 360 when compared to the GTX 580 that currently sells for about $450.  But if you look at the quality difference between something like Deus Ex: Human Revolution on the PC and the consoles, you do NOT see anything close to that kind of improvement.  Game developers have always had their hands tied by having to develop for the lowest common platform and while the PC market (when dominant) meant an upgrade cycle of 2-3 years we are now hitting a 6th year of static console gaming power.

games5.png

Unreal Engine

If we want to see games that look like THIS, a screenshot from the Unreal Engine Samaritan demo, then we need to boost the baseline and soon. 

But the numbers that DFC Intelligence provided give hope to those die-hards in the enthusiast and PC gaming community that with the expanding reach and positive growth of the PC market as a whole, developers will see this as their chance to move the medium forward beyond the status quo. 

Source: PCPer

Lucid makes good products but ought to ignore their marketing division's name suggestions

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2011 - 02:18 PM |
Tagged: hyperformance, lucid

The Tech Report sat down with Offir Remez from Lucid to talk about their horribly named new product, HyperFormance.  Don't dismiss the actual technology because of the name however, instead think of it as Smarter V-Sync for your games.  This is intended to help with the tearing that can be present as frames are dropped by the video card trying to match the 60Hz refresh rate of an LCD monitor.  This is rather important when you consider the attention reviewers are now paying to those tears and dropped frames as a better way of measuring the in game performance of various GPUs.  Read on to learn about HyperFormance as well as Lucid's other recent products.

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"Lucid's new 'HyperFormance' tech may have an unfortunate name, but it still has the potential to change the way we think about GPU performance by delivering a vastly improved gaming experience through a single intelligent software algorithm."

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Internet Machines' PCI-Express Patent Lawsuit Targets Numerous System Vendors

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2011 - 12:20 PM |
Tagged: Troll, pcie, PCI Express, Patent, Lawsuit

There is an expression that states "everything is bigger in Texas," and that goes double for patent lawsuits. A company by the name of Internet Machines MC LLC recently lodged a complaint with the Eastern District of Texas for alleged patent infringement by a number of OEM manufacturers, system builders, and retailers of computers containing PCI Express switching technologies. Specifically, Internet Machines holds US Patent number 7,539,190, a rather generalized patent that covers multicasting in a shared address space wherein data is stored in a buffer and then forwarded to its intended port. The companies being called to court include PLX Technology, Alienware, Dell, Samsung, and others. While the computers that are assembled using PCI Express may well be utilizing switching technology, the fact that Internet Machines is going after system assemblers and retailers-- companies that work with computers but do not design and build the motherboards and other components themselves-- instead of the standards body that designs and maintains the PCI Express standard that everyone in the industry uses raises a question of integrity on the part of Internet Machines. Are their motives true in defending their patents, or is it the method of operation of a patent troll?

 

5-c9a8bb5078.jpg

A diagram describing the patent in question

A system builder who wishes to remain anonymous contacted us with further details on the patent case in question. It seems that this patent showdown is not Internet Machines’ first rodeo. They have previously pursued other companies over US Patents 7,421,532 and 7,454,552 which cover switching with transparent and non-transparent ports. The case was settled in 2010, and it seems that Internet Machines (a seemingly no longer operating company) is not satisfied with the settlement. Internet Machines is moving for a jury trial in this latest round of lawsuits and concerns yet another data switching patent for PCI Express that covers multicasting in a shared address space.  It widens the net further by including numerous system builders and OEMs that build devices that contain PCI Express technology but do not deal with the PCIe standard directly. How the company has been able to patent aspects of the PCI Express standard is unclear; however, they patent is worded in such an ambiguous way that it could apply to almost anything they wanted it to.

Beyond the ambiguous use of the patent system is the issue of targeting companies that have little control over the PCI Express specification to begin with. Our source worded it best in stating that PCI Express is a standard that everyone uses. The companies targeted by Internet Machines’ recent lawsuit do not manufacture motherboards or control the PCI Express standard. “We build computers, that’s it.” What are your thoughts on the issue? Let us know in the comments below.

That's better! A psuedo Syndicate sequel that is half RTS and half global view

Subject: General Tech | September 21, 2011 - 02:53 PM |
Tagged: gaming, cartel, syndicate

Over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN is an interview with Shams Jorjani who works for Paradox and is involved in the development of a game called Cartel.  If you don't quite recognize the company's name, Paradox is most well known for Magicka and Mount & Blade. His first response defines what is great about Paradox, "Well we’re making PC games! That’s what we do, right?"

Cartel won't be ready for a year or more but as it is envisioned you will be fighting Cartels (think Megacorporations) with a squad of elite troops that you kit out with the equipment you have stolen or researched.  While Jorjani doesn't like the Syndicate: Total War comparison, it might be a good way for those who have no idea what Syndicate is to grasp the concept.

cartel.jpg

"Paradox are developing a game called Cartel. The timing is interesting, because this is a game of two familiar halves: one real-time squad-based RTS action, the other on a global research and diplomacy map. And it is set in a near-future world of global mega-corporations, or “cartels”, battling for ultimate supremacy. Sound familiar? It should do. This is the antidote to EA’s new Syndicate being an FPS, and Paradox aren’t too shy about it. I talked to Paradox’s Shams Jorjani about what the Swedish publisher is up to, and whether this could be regarded as Syndicate: Total War.

Sadly, there are no images at this time. Boo."

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Kepler has arrived ... sort of

Subject: General Tech | September 21, 2011 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, GK117, GK107

The news on the street is that two chips from NVIDIA's Kepler lineup should be arriving relatively soon, but don't get too excited.  The GK117 will be a hybrid Fermi/Kepler card, not a GPU but perhaps a powerful addition to any render farm or other application which can benefit the new architecture.  It could also just be a test chip the NVIDIA created to test the integration capabilities of the two architectures.  The GK107 seems to likely be a mobile part, something SemiAccurate dismisses quickly as it will have to compete with the integrated GPUs present in both AMD and Intel mobile chips. 

There is no sign of the Kepler everyone is waiting for, the GPU that will power NVIDIA's next generation of graphics cards.  Why haven't we seen any sign of it yet?  Drop by SemiAccurate for speculation on some of the possible reasons.

whereswaldo.jpg

"Nvidia has two Kepler parts taped out and likely back in house by now. They are however, not the fire-breathing big chips you would expect.

Sources tell SemiAccurate that the first Kepler chips taped out about three months after the first 28nm Fermi shrink taped out. If you remember when we exclusively told you about the dates on those about a month ago, now there are a few more details to add."

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Source: SemiAccurate

A quick peripheral roundup, Corsair's Vengeance series

Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2011 - 12:20 PM |
Tagged: corsair, Corsair Vengeance, audio, keyboard, gaming mouse

Over at Overclockers Club is a look at Corsair's Vengeance series of keyboards, mice and headsets.  They captured several slides from a recent presentation that show a brief history of Corsair's products as well as having hands on time with the newest members of the Vengeance lineup.  From the M60 mouse with a dedicated sniper button to the K60 mechanical keyboard, they've focused on the needs of gamers, not casual users.  The Vengeance 1100 headset and it's noise cancelling microphone also gets a look.

OCC_corsair_vengeance.jpg

"The M60 is Corsair's new enthusiast grade-gaming mouse that looks to improve user experience in first-person shooters. Like the M90, the M60 utilizes an Avago 5670 DPI sensor with lift-detection for real-time adjustments. However, the M60 utilizes an aluminum unibody design with an adjustable center of gravity and PTFE glide pads. Making the Vengeance M60 potentially even more powerful as a FPS tool, there is also a red "sniper" button that lowers the DPI on-the-fly. When activated, the mouse toggles between a high-speed DPI mode and a precision mode. This serves to improve accuracy when using in-game sniper rifles, and could come in handy whenever a lower DPI is required for kills."

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Sort of secure socket layer

Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2011 - 12:02 PM |
Tagged: fud, SSL, tls, security

The good news about the discovery that the encryption procedure behind Secure Socket Layer and Transport Layer Security has been compromised is that the newest versions of both SSL and TLS are still safe and they have been available for a while now.  The bad news is that not only do only a tiny handful of websites utilize TLS 1.1/1.2 and SSL 3.0, most browsers don't even support the updated protocols.  Oddly Internet Explorer and Internet Information Services both support the newer protocols, though they are not enabled by default; the only one that does have TLS 1.2 enabled by default is Opera.  

You don't have to immediately switch browsers, in order for your secure connection to be compromised the attacker first has to compromise your browser or machine in order to get JavaScript code to run in your browser before they can start the decryption process.  It is not the quickest peice of programming either ... yet.  In the proof of concept that The Register references a 1000-2000 character long cookie will take about a half hour to crack, which is most likely longer than the average connection to your PayPal account will last, which is the site they used as an example.   Of course if you throw a dozen Tesla cards at it and it will probably decrypt the packets at a much quicker pace.

nSSL.gif

"Researchers have discovered a serious weakness in virtually all websites protected by the secure sockets layer protocol that allows attackers to silently decrypt data that's passing between a webserver and an end-user browser.

The vulnerability resides in versions 1.0 and earlier of TLS, or transport layer security, the successor to the secure sockets layer technology that serves as the internet's foundation of trust. Although versions 1.1 and 1.2 of TLS aren't susceptible, they remain almost entirely unsupported in browsers and websites alike, making encrypted transactions on PayPal, GMail, and just about every other website vulnerable to eavesdropping by hackers who are able to control the connection between the end user and the website he's visiting."

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Source: The Register

Firefox versus Chrome; C++ versus JavaScript ... pouring salt on the browser war

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2011 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: native client, NaCl, javascript, firefox, chrome, c++, browser

The Browser War is about to heat up again as Google Chrome's native client is released at the same time that Intel is releasing updates to JavaScript to allow for parallel processing

Chrome's salty poke at browsers is to introduce a way to run C and C++ in a protected sandbox to allow a secure way to run the code on the web, similar to how Java and JavaScript are currently dealt with.  Using the segment registers on your CPU as a protected space Chrome will now accept and run C and C++ programs, hopefully creating a space in which code can run but not effect your system without your knowledge ... aka the drive-by attack familiar to Flash users.  This will give non-Java programmers the chance to program for the web in a way they have never done before as well as letting those who do not want to program in Java/JavaScript an alternative programming language.  It will take some time before we start to see anyone take advantage of this, let alone whether it will be able to compete with the current solutions already used on the web.

For the JavaScript fan there is good news coming out of the IDF, as Intel has been showing off River Trail and WebGL.  They have finally enabled JavaScript to take advantage of multi-core processors, the demonstration they provided had an eight core machine running a JavaScript app about 15 times faster than it performed with the non-updated code.  Even more interesting is what they plan to do with that performance increase; HTML5, Canvas, and WebGL are all compatible and can benefit from the true performance of multi-core processors.

Catch more on both of these stories and their history at The Register.

internet-browser-757734.jpg

"Google has officially launched Native Client – a means of securely running C and C++ code inside a browser – as part of a new stable version of its Chrome browser that activates this rather controversial sandboxing technology.

Mountain View turned on Native Client, aka NaCl, in the Chrome beta last month, and on Friday, it debuted in the new Chrome 14, a stable release that also includes Google's new Web Audio API."

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Source: The Register

Corsair Returns With A Vengeance (Line Of Gaming Headsets)

Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2011 - 07:50 AM |
Tagged: usb, PC, mic, headsets, gaming, corsair, analog, 7.1, 5.1

Following in the success of the company’s HS1 gaming headset, Corsair recently unveiled three new gaming headsets in its new Vengeance lineup of gaming peripherals. The new arrivals include the Vengeance 1100, 1300, and 1500 audio peripherals, of which two support USB connections.

The Vengeance 1100 is the smallest of the three gaming headsets, and features a behind-the-head headphone design and boom microphone extending from the left speaker. Using 40mm drivers, the headphones are capable of a claimed 94 decibel dynamic range, and is one of Corsairs lightest headsets. The microphone is of the unidirectional variety and features noise cancellation technology. Connectivity options include two 3.5mm audio jacks at the end of the 1.8 meter cable for headphone and microphone or a single USB connection with the included adapter cable.

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The Vengeance 1300 headset with dual 3.5mm analog connections.

While lightweight and open ear headphones have their place, they are not for everyone. Thankfully, Corsair have also introduced two larger designs dubbed the Vengeance 1300 and 1500 to suit the needs of gamers who prefer (whether out of desire for isolated sound or to appease the significant other) the around-the-ears circumaural design. The 1300 supports connecting to high end sound cards with 3.5mm audio connections for both sound and the noise canceling cardioid microphone while the Vengeance 1500 connects to the computer using USB for both sound and microphone. Both models feature 50mm drivers, 95 decibel dynamic range, 3 meter cables, noise canceling microphones, and support for positional audio. Further, the Vengeance 1300 uses X-Fi CMSS-3D while the 1500 headset supports 5.1 and 7.1 Dolby Headphone positional audio. The larger designs are bound to be relatively heavy compared to the smaller Vengeance 1100; however, the closed ear design should provide cleaner audio while blocking out background noise.

As far as pricing and availability are concerned, the new gaming headsets and other Vengeance gaming peripherals are slated for an October 2011 launch worldwide. The Vengeance 1100 weights in at an attractive $39 US MSRP while the larger 1300 and 1500 have a suggested retail price of $79 US and $99 USD respectively.

Do you game with headsets, or are you more of the crank-the-home-theater-speakers-to-11 (and immerse the whole neighborhood in your Battlefield match) kind of person? I have somewhat recently moved to a pair of headphones for gaming and it definitely has its benefits (including the aforementioned spouse acceptance factor...). How do you think the new Corsair headsets will stack up to the competition? Let us know in the comments!

Source: Corsair

Corsair is a vengeful beast: K90, the (Black)Widow’s maker?

Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2011 - 04:30 AM |
Tagged: mice, mechanical keyboard, corsair

For such an old technology it certainly seems like gaming mechanical keyboards are making a surge into the market lately. More and more hands are in the pot full of Cherries; each hand with their personal set of distinguishing features to set their offering apart from all the others. Some prefer to opt for backlighting; some prefer to opt for ludicrous amounts of keys to be pressed at once; and some prefer to duke it out in switch type, extra buttons, and price. Razer recently jumped in to the fray with their premiere and recently expanded BlackWidow product line. Corsair seems to have their sights directly on Razer, however, with their own mechanical keyboard lineup: The Vengence K60 FPS keyboard and the K90 MMO keyboard the latter with blue backlighting. Also announced are two gaming mice, one to complement each keyboard with similar model numbers: M60 and M90.

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Are your ears burning Razer? This could get bloody.

I must say that upon overviewing Corsair’s claims of a 20KRO keyboard I am quite interested in this product. According to their product page, they have essentially created the basis of an NKRO keyboard by isolating every key from each other (rather than having certain combinations of as low as 3 keys confuse the controller) but instead of using a native PS/2 controller for real NKRO they opted for messing with USB in such a way to allow up to 20 keys pressed at once. While the question still remains of how up-to “up-to” really is, if they really isolated every key it is possible that you simply will not have enough fingers to jam the keyboard without physically trying to make it happen. Such a feat is possible, however: Microsoft has done a similar accomplishment with their SideWinder X4 keyboard, claiming 26KRO over USB.

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I mean honestly, who needs two hands on your FPS keyboard?

It seems very much like Corsair is attempting to ram into the market chest-first like some Cherry-flavored Kool-Aid man. A special one-handed wristguard for the FPS model and replaceable keycaps for the WSAD and number keys knowing that without backlighting they are the first to go show that they thought this through before they made their leap. The backlight K90 also priced nearly identically to Razer’s BlackWidow Ultimate at $129 with the FPS-centric K60 priced at $109 though that price includes the wrist guard. The two mice are priced at $79 for the M90 and $69 for the M60. Update 9/17/2011: I forgot to mention, Corsair said it should be available in October.

Source: Corsair

Who put antivirus in my Windows disk?

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2011 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: win8, security, microsoft

It's confirmed, Windows 8 will have anti-virus rolled into it and it does a wee bit more than you might think.   They have updated and expanded Windows Defender as part of the protection scheme but have also taken advantage of the integration possible when your antivirus becomes part of your OS.  Your boot path will be scanned at every restart to ensure no malware has tainted it and it will be protected while your system is running by Defender, along with a long list of other vectors that are commonly used to attack systems. 

You can see a video of this in action over at The Register.

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"Rumours about Microsoft planning to bundle an antivirus function in its upcoming operating system have caused quite a bit of a stir in the security community over the past couple of days. Some people have declared themselves supportive of the move, while others rushed to point out its possible drawbacks."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register