Subject: General Tech | March 19, 2012 - 11:58 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Virus, Trojan-Spy.Win32.Lurk, ram virus, Kaspersky Labs, javaw.exe, fud
A lovely little electronic beastie was spotted by Kaspersky Labs on Russian ad servers recently which uses a Java exploit (long since patched) to corrupt javaw.exe while it is running on system memory, infecting machines without any installation required whatsoever. While this sounds quite bad, the fact is that in your memory it can infect running programs but not move out of the memory without triggering an installation process and will not survive a system reboot. That is why as soon as this malware finds its self on a systems RAM it immediately tries to install the Lurk Trojan, which is when your problems would start and when your anti-virus/anti-malware protection should notice something amiss.
By its self the new virus poses little direct risk but it represents a new attack vector for drive by infections, which could get into protected space and be able to launch an attack from within the systems memory, a much faster and more intimate way of attacking than coming over the network. With home systems sporting more that 4GB of RAM, there is a lot more space for this type of virus to work with than there was just a few years ago. Read on at The Register, if you dare.
"The researchers aren’t quite sure how unusual it is, describing it as both “unique” and “very rare”, but no matter how scarce this type of malware is it does sound rather nasty as it “… uses its payload to inject an encrypted dll from the web directly into the memory of the javaw.exe process.” That mode of operation means Windows and MacOS are both affected by the exploit, which is hard for many antivirus programs to spot given it runs within a trusted process."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Fujitsu's supercomputing MONSTER thrashes Top 500 rivals @ The Register
- IBM shows off 14nm wafer @ SemiAccurate
- Linux 3.3 Released @ Slashdot
- Intel Sandy Bridge Shapes Up On GCC 4.7 Compiler @ Phoronix
- Lexmark OfficeEdge Pro5500 @ Overclockers Online
- Ninjalane Podcast - New Servers Games Games Games Travel Gadget
Subject: General Tech | March 19, 2012 - 11:46 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: OS, linux kernel 3.3, linux, kernel, Android
Linux kernel 3.3 has recently been released for public consumption, and it features quite a few new features and improvements. The kernel is the code that developers than build upon to create all the various Linux distributions such as Fedora, Mint, and Arch Linux (among others).
This latest release, version 3.3 includes various improvements to the file system, btrfs, networking, architecture, and EFI BIOS support. In regards to the file system, the Linux 3.3 kernel supports improved balancing and the ability to re-stripe between different RAID (redundant array of independent disks) levels. Further, the kernel will now allow an x86 boot image to be processed by EFI firmware in addition to the traditional BIOS microcode boot that is present in the majority of today's machines. Also, Kernel 3.3 improves the networking aspects by improving the ability to bond multiple NICs to improve networking throughput and/or to provide redundant connections. Support for a new architecture has also emerged such that Linux kernel will work with Texas Instruments C6X based chips. These chips include the "family of C64x single and multicore DSPs."
The above improvements are just the tip of the iceberg, however. The most talked about new feature is likely going to be the inclusion of Android code from Google's Android OS project. According to the Kernel Newbies website, the disagreements between Linux kernel developers and Google have been "ironed out," and code from the Android project will now start to be rolled back into the Linux kernel. They expect that Android coming home to traditional Linux will make developing code and end user software easier for everyone, and they expect further Android and Linux integration in the future.
More information on the latest Linux kernel release is available here.
Subject: General Tech | March 17, 2012 - 05:26 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, gearbox, borderlands 2
Gearbox advertises an enhanced PC experience for Borderlands 2 in the form of a love letter.
It takes a lot of devotion, effort, and trust to make a compelling game for the PC. Apparently Claptrap is willing to take all the time necessary to get into our pants -- or wherever else you carry your credit card. It is somewhat sad how stories like these are newsworthy. This kind-of calls to attention how half-assed most games are these days in general, for all systems, especially when it comes to optimizing for platform-specific traits.
Actually on second thought, maybe we will need some Penicillin.
The list of PC-specific enhancements is quite long, but most entries are based on interface and Steam integration features:
- FOV slider
- “100%” mouse usable menus/mouse wheel scrolling
- Remappable keybindings for keyboard/mouse
- PC specific UI
- Native multiplayer matchmaking
- Push to talk
- Logitech keyboard support ((I assume they mean LCD screen information))
- LAN support (including OFFLINE mode)
- Control pad support
- Integrated v-sync option
- Support for higher resolutions
- Mouse smoothing options (can be disabled completely)
- Cloud save support
- Achievement support
- Friends list support
- No port forwarding required
Is there any feature that you wish would be included for the PC version? Personally I would like the option for splitscreen support especially for those with Eyefinity setups. How about you?
Subject: General Tech | March 17, 2012 - 04:33 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nexus tablet, google, Android
The Kindle Fire and Nook Tablets are two low cost Android tablets that are arguably the first Android tablets to be very successful, especially as gifts during this past holiday season. The $500+ iPads are nice, but not everyone is willing to pay that much money for a secondary computing device (the PC isn't dead yet!). There is also the form factor issue in that many consumers prefer the smaller and more portable 7" tablets that Apple has yet to provide.
Image via techiser
It seems as though Google has taken notice of the success of the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet and is ready to throw it's weight around and show manufacturers how to replicate that success with a reference 7" tablet of their very own. Much akin to the Google Nexus smart phones that Google released to act as a base / vanilla platform for manufacturers to base their designs on; Google is planning to release a Google Nexus Tablet. Recent rumors suggest that such an Android tablet is a "done deal" according to sources within Google's supply chain. Further, the Nexus tablet will allegedly feature a 7" form factor and will be powered by a TI OMAP 4 processor to keep costs low (versus using NVIDIA's Tegra 3). In addition, the Nexus Tablet would run an updated version of Android, specifically Android 4.1.
Speaking of costs, the Verge has stated that the new Nexus Tablet will retail for $199 USD, though there may be other varied SKUs that come in at lower/higher price points depending on the amount of RAM and storage.
The Google Nexus smart phones never really caught on with the majority of consumers, but many tech savvy people appreciated the vanilla Android experience that did not involve waiting months for OS updates (I'm looking at you, Samsung). If anyone can create a low cost tablet to replicate the success of the Kindle Fire, it's Google. What are your thoughts on these recent rumors?
Subject: General Tech | March 17, 2012 - 02:01 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: opswat, software, mse, antivirus
OPSWAT, a company founded in 2002, has released it's latest quartlerly report on software market share. The new report indicates that as of March 2012, the free Microsoft Security Essentials antivirus application has made the biggest gains in users this year.
Microsoft Security Essentials is a free antivirus program developed by Microsoft that has been on the market for just over 2 years (since September 2009). Despite not having the best detection rates, it is a program that is non-intrusive and lightweight on resources. Because of the automatic updating (via Windows Update) and being essentially "set it and forget it," it has garnered quite the following from tech enthusiasts that use it on their computers along with a bit of common sense browsing to stay safe. In addition, it makes for a good choice for family members as it is easy to install and requires little maintenance along with not costing any money. Also, If you have a friend or relative that refuses to pay for AV yet also refuses to stop visiting certain areas of the web, having some kind of free antivirus is better than nothing!
Specifically, the Microsoft software has managed to snag 10.08% of the worldwide antivirus market, putting it under the three big A's of antivirus: Avast with 16.26%, Avira with 11.65%, and AVG Technologies with 10.96%. Close behind Microsoft is ESET antivirus with 10.06%. Microsoft has increased their worldwide market share to 10.08% from 7.27% a year ago. They are further ahead of Symantec who holds 9.97% of the market.
|Trend Micro, Incorporated||2.22%|
In terms of the North American market, Symantec actually pulls ahead of Microsoft, and holds the number one position at 16.09%. Microsoft then holds the second position in North American market share with 14.92%. The MS software saw big gains from last year, moving from fourth position to second position and 9.94% to 14.92% respectively. AVG holds third place at 13.22% while Avast has 11.96% of the North American market and fourth place. You can see the remaining top 10 vendors' market share in North America below.
|Trend Micro Incorporated||3.10%|
Drilling down beyond vendor market share to the specific programs' market share Microsoft Security Essentials holds 14.58% of the North American market as of March 2012. Also, MSE holds 9.96% of the worldwide market in March 2012. In terms of ranking, the individual software that is MSE is is number one in North America and second place worldwide. Microsoft Security Essentials holds 14.58% in North America and 9.96% globally, putting it just under AVAST! Free Antivirus which is the number one AV product worldwide with 11.91% of the market. These numbers are a bit more telling, as they indicate Microsoft is doing pretty darn well with their AV program, and it is really helping them (market share wise) to have just one main SKU/program in their lineup.
Interestingly, their report indicates that the top 10 antivirus makers hold the great majority of the market with 87.46% of worldwide market share. Of the top 10 (listed in chart 1) global AV vendors, only Trend Micro is a new addition at number 10 thanks to overtaking PC Tools with a total of 2.22% market share. The top 10 has further gained more of the total market compared to last year. In 2010, the top 10 vendors held 86.57% of the market, and they now hold 87.46%. Individual product wise, the top 10 companies' applications hold 64.94% of the worldwide market and 63.08% of the North American Market (this is for specific programs only, while the previous total numbers are for top 10 AV companies as a whole).
Further, OPSWAT states that the free offerings continue to dominate the charts with the most number of installations and market share. In North America, they identified 81 antivirus companies and 257 antivirus software applications. Globally OPSWAT detected 87 vendors and different programs. That makes the fact that the top 10 vendors hold approximately 87% of the market even more impressive. More information on the recent OPSWAT report is availabe in the PDF format here.
Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2012 - 12:16 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: tri-gate, FinFET, silicon nanowires
We've just met Intel's Tri-Gate transistor technology, which offers significant improvements in power efficiency as well as reducing waste hear but researchers have already moved onto the next new technology. Referred to as silicon nanowire transistors in this story at The Register, the next generation of transistor may have no gates whatsoever, or be made entirely of gates, depending on how you look at it. The wire will be wrapped in a silicon oxide, high-K metal gate making the transistor cylindrical and not limited in the number of gates possible in the same way that planar or 3D transistors are. The development of this technology is in its infancy but could well help us see chips go below 5nm as it matures.
"The next step in transistor architecture will likely be silicon nanowires – extremely thin silicon wires that will form the transistor's chanel, surrounded on all sides by a wrap-around silicon oxide, high-K metal gate.
"It's the ultimate fully-depleted device," the director of IBM's Semiconductor Research & Development Center, Gary Patton, said during his keynote address at Wednesday's Common Platform Technology Forum 2012 in Santa Clara, California. "You don't have a gate on just two sides, or three sides – it's fully encapsulating the silicon nanowire device."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Thunderbolt may become standard for PCs in 2013 @ DigiTimes
- WD releases Thunderbolt drive @ The Register
- Sophos warns about fresh Windows exploit @ The Inquirer
- I bought a Kindle Touch, and it's pretty great @ The Tech Report
- Scosche reVOLT c2 Dual USB Car Charger Review @ Legit Reviews
Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2012 - 10:36 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: sapphire, radeon, HD 7970, gpu, amd, 7970
Sapphire Technologies recently launched a new factory overclocked version of the AMD Radeon HD 7970 graphics card. The new Radeon HD 7970 OC Edition promises to combine the performance of AMD's 7970 GPU (you can find our review of the 7970 here) with Sapphire's own Dual X two fan heatpipe cooler.
The Sapphire HD 7970 GPU is powered by one 8 pin and one 6 pin PCI-E power connection, and supports the PCI-E 3.0 standard and Microsoft's DirectX 11.1 technology. Other specifications include 3 GB of GDDR5 memory, a 28nm Graphics Core Next (GCN) GPU core, a 384-bit memory interface, and a dual BIOS switch depending on whether you want to run at stock clock speeds or use the factory overclocked profile.
Specifically, the Sapphire HD 7970 GPU features a dual bios switch that allows customers to switch between default clock speeds of 950 MHz core and 1425 MHz memory and the factory overclocked speeds of 1 GHz (1,000 MHz) core and 1450 MHz memory. When using the overclocked BIOS, the graphics card will employ more a more aggressive fan profile and also allows raises the maximum limits for overclocking the core, memory, and voltage values.
Further, the Sapphire GPU uses their own Dual X cooler that features a dual slot aluminum heatsink connected to the GPU core by five copper heatpipes. This heatsink is then cooled by two large fans, that Sapphire claims will enable quiet operation even while under load.
Accessories wise, Sapphire provides one DVI, one HDMI, and two mini Display Port video outputs. In the retail packaging, Sapphire provides an Active mini Display Port to single-link DVI adapter, HDMI to DVI adapter, DVI to VGA adapter, two PCI-E to molex power adapters (one molex to PCI-E 8 pin and one molex to PCI-E 6 pin), a mini Display Port to Display Port adapter, a 1.8 meter HDMI 1.4a cable, and a CrossFire bridge.
The new Sapphire HD 7970 OC Edition is available now from authorized retailers, and is retailing for between $580 and $630 at several retailers at the time of writing.
Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2012 - 01:28 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: podcast, nvidia, kepler, Ivy Bridge, Intel, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #193 - 03/15/2012
Join us this week as we talk about our Kepler Mobile preview, GTX 680 Rumors, Zenbook talk and more!
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
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malvantano
This Podcast is brought to you by
- 1-888-38-PCPER or email@example.com
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
- NCAA 2012: PC Perspective Bracket Competition!!
- HP dm4t Beats Edition Notebook Review: Branding Gone Wild
- Nvidia GeForce GT 640M Review: Kepler Arrives For Mobile
- Unreal Engine Samaritan Demo Running On Single NVIDIA Kepler GPU
- Alleged NVIDIA GK104 Kepler GTX 670 Ti Photo Leaked
- GTX 680, Turbo Cores, and Cuda Cores!
- A possible GTX 680 specs leak?
- Asus Updating Zenbook Line With UX31A and UX21A Ultrabooks
- Lian Li Releases Official Photos of PC-QO5 Case
- The new MAINGEAR Solo all-in-one PC series
- ARM Cortex-MO+ Lowest Power Processor Yet At 9µA/MHz
- Give me a Marauder MAD-5M with original armour and I am good to go
- Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2012 - 01:05 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Ivy Bridge, Intel, haswell, lynx point
This morning DigiTimes suggests a more concrete launch schedule for Ivy Bridge, which slates the processor to begin hitting the streets by the end of next month. The initial launch in April should see all of the announced Core i7 models become available as well as the middle member of the Core i5 line. By June we should see more of the Core i5 models become available but those looking for a low cost Core i3 will be waiting until the end of summer before they can purchase a new processor. It will be this time next year before Haswell and Lynx Point become available if you are planning to hold off on upgrading until that generation of processor becomes available.
"Intel is set to announce its next-generation 22nm-based Ivy Bridge processors by the end of April with 11 models including Core i7-3770K, Core i7-3770, Core i7-3770S, Core i7-3770T and Core i5-3550, expected to appear in the initial launch, while several models including Core i5-3470, Core i5-3470S, Core i5-3475S, Core i5-3570 and Core i5-3570S will be released in early June, according to sources from upstream component players.
As for Ivy Bridge-based entry-level Core i3 and Pentium series processors, Intel is expected to release the CPUs in August with 7 series chipsets to appear in early April."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft shows off Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 8 Metro @ The Inquirer
- Why Windows 8 server is a game-changer @ The Register
- Boffins render fibre obsolete @ The Register
- Final CeBIT Roundup @ XSReviews
Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2012 - 08:14 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: webM, web browser, mozilla, html5, h.264, firefox
Mozilla executives working for the foundation behind the Firefox web browser today announced that they would be giving in to the H.264 codec as the open WebM VP8 codec has lost the war. The H.264 and VP8 (part of WebM) codecs are used to encode and decode video files, and are especially important on mobile devices as Flash support is less ubiquitous (or totally absent if you're using Apple products). In the absense of flash, the web turned to the HTML5 standard which provides <code><video></code> tags that allow direct embedding of videos into websites. Also important is that H.264 has wide support for being hardware accelerated on many mobile devices, enabling smart phones to smoothly playback high quality files that the low power CPU portion of ARM SoCs would otherwise struggle with. This situation is also available to desktop users, but is less of an issue as processing power is not as scarce and can, ah, accommodate Adobe's Flash plugin (heh).
The downside, and where all the controversy arises from, is that the H.264 codec is not free and requires manufacturers or sites that stream H.264 videos for a fee to license it as well as users, though the actual cost for licensing is generally rolled into the cost of the OS, device, or other piece of purchased software. Further, because the HTML5 standard does not specifically define a set video codec, there is room for fragmentation. Adobe, Mozilla, and Google eventually would jump behind what is now known as the WebM standard, which is an open (and free) video codec (VP8) that would not require expensive licensing restrictions. On the other hand, Apple backed the H.264 standard. Mozilla would roll WebM into their browser but not H.264, meaning that users could view HTML5 videos using Firefox but not HTML5 videos encoded with the H.264 codec. Google, Apple, and Microsoft would support the H.264 codec for HTML5 videos, despite Google developing WebM (and the included VP8 video codec) and giving word of mouth support for WebM. This meant that Chrome users could view both WebM and H.264 based HTML5 video.
According to the article, Google promised to drop support for H.264 and move solely to the WebM VP8 codec to entice websites to move to the open codec. Unfortunately, the company never came through with that promise, and has continued to offer dual support while Mozilla was left holding the open source support banner and causing their users to suffer as a result. The article references a study by MeFeedia that suggests that as of December 2011, H.264 based HTML5 video accounts for 80% of the market, implying that WebM has already lost the war. Brendan Eich, Mozilla's Chief Technology Officer noted that WebM needed support from a larger entity than Mozilla, and it needed that support in the beginning. Especially with Apple heralding H.264, for mobile site publishers, WebM really needed heavy backing to compete with Apple's market share and influential support of H.264 to have a chance. He further stated that:
"it might not have worked then, even with Google on-side. Now, with just Mozilla going it alone, all we do is kill our mobile initiatives in order to appear pure...That does not serve our mission or users."
Mozilla is now looking to support H.264, if a bit grudgingly. At this point, not supporting H.264 is only hurting their users and market share and not furthering their push for WebM. After all, if users are forced to look at other browsers just to play videos, it will not be WebM that is the only open source software forgotten (rather, the entire Mozilla web browser will wain).
Granted, Google is not the only company to blame for VP8 not catching on, Adobe also failed to properly push the codec. Also, Google is allegedly continuing to develop VP8 and WebM. Right now; however, losing Mozilla's support seems to be the final nail in the WebM coffin and the recognition that H.264 is the dominant format. More information is available here.