The never-ending Battle.net -- intrusion detected.

Subject: General Tech | August 9, 2012 - 09:32 PM |
Tagged: blizzard

Blizzard has declared that their Battle.net service has recently been attacked. Some information has been compromised and as such Blizzard will force users to change their security questions and answers in the next few days. Mobile authenticator users will also need to update the software on their second factor authenticator.

I think we all know the story by now: cloud services will be attacked, a lot, and some will succeed.

Blizzard has declared that their Battle.net service has been intruded upon. The invasion compromised the email addresses associated with your account as well as the answer to your security question. The second-factor authenticators were also attacked and will receive an update shortly. Attackers have also received passwords protected by the Secure Remote Password (SRP) protocol.

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Blizzard clouds bring flurries.

Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment

Once again, this sort of thing happens all of the time. The key is to security in an age where information is transmitted and stored freely is to always keep in mind what you entrust each service with. If you give a service your email address you need to consider what an attacker could accomplish with this information. When combined with the email addresses of your friends an attacker could send you an email pretending to be one of those friends. They could also associate you with users on many other services to either make a more convincing spoof of you, or know who they are attacking somewhere else.

You must be responsible with your information and you must realize you are trusting the service to do the same.

In this case, Blizzard protected passwords using the SRP protocol. This protocol if properly implemented includes hashing and salting all passwords to make reversing a password incredibly difficult. It is possible to create a database of known scrambled messes in hopes that some user will have a password. The more obscure your password means it will be less likely to be available to be compared to.

If Blizzard implemented the protocol correctly then they did their part. Ultimately it is up to the user to have their trust match the likelihood and damage of one or more attacks. This is true whenever you handle your information – never become complacent or you will have to forgive yourself at some point.

While attackers getting innovative means they are losing economic viability – it also means users will need to consider all possible ways they can be compromised.

Source: Blizzard

Qt to have a new owner: Nokia selling the toolkit to Digia

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Mobile | August 9, 2012 - 07:08 PM |
Tagged: Qt, nokia, Digia

Ars Technica reports 125 employees at Nokia will move to Digia in a deal to relocate the open toolkit, Qt, away from the cellphone manufacturer. The deal reassures developers of software -- especially open sourced software -- their toolkit will continue to be maintained. Qt is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Symbian and MeeGo with other platforms such as Android and iOS planned for support.

I have a special place in my heart for Qt because of a couple of programming projects I have worked on. Finding a good cross-platform interface framework is more difficult than you would think. One project required developing a text-style editor for both Windows and Linux. Qt provided classes for dockable windows and panels, Webkit browser support, and just about anything else I could need.

It really was a cute framework – literally, that is how you pronounce it.

I was one of the first to get a little tenseness in my gut when Nokia started to partner with Microsoft and their Windows Phone platforms. Nokia was slowly distancing themselves from the framework they owned at the time. The Linux and other open source communities were getting quite involved with Qt due to how closely it is tied with KDE. Microsoft is embracing open source communities more than they have been but I would hesitate to trust them that much.

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GTK+ is basically the viable alternative to Qt.

So developer framework choice could very well have been between The Gimp and a gimp.

There has been no word on the finances of the transaction.

It is still yet to be seen whether Digia will be a good owner of the framework. Certainly the most recent analogy was the purchase of Java along with the rest of Sun and its assets to Oracle. That certainly did not end up as the best of situations for the end-users of the platform.

Thankfully the framework is published under the GPL along with their commercial license. Should GPL-compatible applications require the framework they would be able to fork from whatever the latest supported GPL release would be and continue on from that point.

Software which uses Qt in a way which is not GPL-compatible still has a few worries going forth. Digia appears to be have some level of trust by the community. We will need to stay tuned to see.

Source: Ars Technica

NVIDIA Reports Quarter 2 Fiscal Year 2013 Financial Results

Subject: General Tech | August 9, 2012 - 07:06 PM |
Tagged: tegra 3, nvidia, kepler, financial results

Popular graphics card manufacturer NVIDIA announced its second quarter financial results for fiscal year 2013 in a conference call today. While some aspects of the business delivered less revenue than expected, its mobile Tegra and desktop/notebook graphics card divisions were up. In total, the company brought in a 13% quarter-over-quarter increase and $1.04 billion in revenue.

tegra3.jpg

Tregra is proving a successful product for NVIDIA.

NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang was part of the conference call today and he seemed positive about the company’s performance. He stated that “Our investments in mobile computing and visual computing are both paying off.” Thanks to the company’s successful 28nm Kepler architecture–and despite early yield issues–NVIDIA managed strong GeForce graphics card sales and a increased notebook graphics market share. The company attributes this increase to new Kepler-based notebook models from Acer, Apple, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, and Sony.

On the mobile front, NVIDIA has seen several successes in securing design wins. One such device is Google’s new 7” Nexus 7 tablet that is proving to be a popular device–running NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 processor. The company’s Tegra 3 SoC is further included in the upcoming Surface tablet from Microsoft.

While they do not have many numbers on it yet, the company announced its cloud computing technologies at the GPU Technology Conference earlier this year. The mobile and cloud compute tech positions the company “right at the center of the fastest growing segments of computing,” according to Jen-Hsun Huang.

The company’s Professional Solutions Business has not done well for the company, but they are hoping to turn it around with new Tesla products and the planned NVIDIA Maximus technology.

Compared to the previous quarter (Q1 FY13), the company’s operating expenses have increased from $390.5 million to $401.1 million–a 2.7% increase. Fortunately, the company still managed to pull off a 97% increase in net income from $60.4 million to $119 million. Earnings per share have also increased from $.10 to $.19 which is likely to please shareholders. As far as GAAP revenue is concerned, it is up from the $924.9 million of the previous quarter.

NVIDIA Quarterly Analysis.jpg

Going into the third quarter, NVIDIA expects to see increased revenue between $1.15 billion and $1.25 billion. The company does not expect see any noticeable changes in gross margins. Further, they expect operating expenses to decrease to be approximately $350 million–compared to $401.1 million in the previous quarter.

It seems like desktop graphics and Tegra mobile chips are the company’s big winners this quarter. The increased expected revenue is likely NVIDIAs expectation that it will sell more GeForce graphics cards once the mid-range Kepler cards are more fleshed out. Overall, it looks like things are good for NVIDIA.

You can listen to the full conference call here.

Source: NVIDIA

Podcast #213 - Windows 8 RTM, A75 Motherboards, GTX 660Ti rumors and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 9, 2012 - 04:56 PM |
Tagged: video, windows 8 rtm, windows 8, podcast, nvidia, llano, Intel, haswell, amd, a75, 660ti

PC Perspective Podcast #213 - 08/09/2012

Join us this week as we talk about Windows 8 RTM, A75 Motherboards, GTX 660Ti rumors 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 Josh Walrath, Allyn Malvantano and Steve Grever

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 1:00:35

Program Schedule:

  1. Week in Reviews:
    1. 0:02:19 PCPer Hardware Workshop Overview
    2. 0:07:00 Quakecon Coverage:
      1. http://pcper.com/reviews/Shows-and-Expos/Quakecon-2012-Day-3-Coverage
    3. 0:08:30 What MB is good for all those free APUs we gave out?
      1. MSI A75A-G55 FM1 AMD A75
      2. Asus F1A75-V
    4. 0:12:30 Windows 8 goes RTM
      1. Also, Windows 8 has new box art and changed name of Metro to Windows 8-style UI
  1. 0:18:08 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  1. News items of interest:
    1. 0:19:13 AMD FirePro APU is Launched
    2. 0:23:25 Seagate acquires LaCie
    3. 0:25:20 GTX 660 Ti Prices?
    4. 0:27:24 Steam Selling non-game Software starting Sep. 5th - Windows Store competition
    5. 0:31:00 Ivy Bridge-E will come after Haswell
    6. 0:34:00 Plextor M5 Pro SSD - Marvell finally has some speed
    7. 0:35:30 EVGA GTX 460 2Win WAS $169
    8. 0:39:05 ARMAII with DayZ as retail title
    9. 0:41:00 Curiosity landed successfully on Mars (landed with a friggin' rocket powered skycrane!)
  1. Closing:
    1. 0:44:30 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
      1. Ryan: UT2004
      2. Jeremy: Oh the decisions … SAMSUNG 830 @ $230 or Corsair Force Series GT @ $175
      3. Josh: My first cellphone in 8 years.
      4. Allyn: Google 2-factor authentication / Authenticator app for mobile
  1. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  2. http://pcper.com/podcast
  3. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper and http://twitter.com/joshdwalrath
  4. Closing/Outro

A lot for storage but little in the way of a warranty

Subject: General Tech | August 9, 2012 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: hdd, toshiba, western digital, 3tb, Warranty, sad

As has been mentioned previously on PC Perspective the current trend of HDD manufacturers reducing the length of warranty is not being well received, though with only three manufacturers left consumers have little choice in the matter.  At least with Western Digital, you are more likely to get a 3 to 5 year warranty than you are a single year.  That negative feedback obviously hasn't fazed Toshiba, who are using the WD plants they purchased earlier this year to manufacture 1.5, 2 and 3TB HDDs, 3.5" in size and available in both 7200 and 5400RPM models and offering 1 year of warranty.  In short, a factory which was previously capable of providing a 5 year warranty on spinning disks for your long term storage now offers a shorter warranty than the SSD manufacturers who are poised to replace them.  The Inquirer offers more on this depressing topic here.

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"Toshiba, the distant third vendor in the storage industry, was given the chance to buy part of Western Digital's hard drive business when it wanted to appease regulatory bodies to approve its purchase of Hitachi. With some of Western Digital's plants, Toshiba is now set to launch a range of 3.5in hard drives topping out at 3TB."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Rosewill Launches New Limited Edition RK-9000I Mechanical Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | August 9, 2012 - 03:51 AM |
Tagged: rosewill, mechanical keyboard, keyboard

Rosewill, a PC peripheral company popular for its lineup of mechanical keyboards has announced a new model. Following in the success of Rosewill’s second generation RK series (which we reviewed here) is the Limited Edition Elite Ivory RK-9000I. The new mechanical keyboard features the same form factor and black keys as the existing RK-series, but has a white color keyboard color.

Rosewill Limited Edition Elite Ivory RK-9000I.jpg

The Elite Ivory mechanical keyboard will be available with either Cherry MX Blue or Cherry MX Brown switches. The Blue variants are tailored towards typists while the Brown keys are made as a compromise between typing feel and the ability to press the key multiple types rapidly–a feature highly sought after by gamers.

Key press animations. On the left: a Cherry MX Blue. On the right: a Cherry MX Brown

Further, the keyboard will come equipped with both gold-plated USB and PS/2 connectors. The PS/2 connector will give you the full performance and allow many more keys to be depressed at the same time than is possible over USB. When Scott reviewed the RK-series keyboards, he generally liked them. As this Limited Edition Elite Ivory RK-9000I is based off of those keyboards, it should offer very similar performance.

Unfortunately, pricing and availability have not yet been released by Rosewill, but I would expect that it is coming soon.

Source: Rosewill

Buzz bugging you buddy? Hack your speakers and get rid of it for good

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2012 - 05:42 PM |
Tagged: audio, corsair, corsair sp2200, DIY, hack

Some people you know might refer to your favourite music as noise, but you know better; what is worse than that is when you can hear noise in your music.  The annoying intermittent buzz/crackle coming out of your speakers is something a lot of us have experienced and it has a wide variety of sources, from bad cables to electronic noise effecting the signal sent from your onboard audio to defects in your speakers ... and many more reasons.  At Hack a Day is a good solution to rid yourself of noise that is caused by the speakers, this guide is specifically aimed at the Corsair SP2200s but could be applied to a wide range of speakers.  Follow along with this step by step process to use the headset amp as a pre-amp and clean up your music.

HaD_sp2200.jpg

"[Michael Chen] liked the sound he was getting out of these Corsair SP2200 computer speakers, with one big exception. They were giving off some unpleasant crackling sounds. He figured this might be as easy as replacing a faulty potentiometer, but soon found out the fix was going to be more complicated than that. All said and done he ended up reworking the design of the speakers’ amplifier board."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: Hack a Day

Could you make money off of Linux games if they played better than on Windows Mr Carmack?

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2012 - 04:14 PM |
Tagged: valve, linux, left 4 dead, john carmack, gaming

While running at a measly 6fps means that the zombies will get you, at 315fps you can't complain that you didn't see them coming.  That is the current frame rate Valve is reporting their Linux test machine can produce when playing the Linux implementation of Left 4 Dead.  That hardware was a Core i7 3930k, GeForce GTX 680 and 32 GB RAM and we were given a result from the same hardware running Win7; a slower 303fps after tweaking OpenGL.  That takes performance concerns out of the picture when discussing gaming on Linux but it does not quite answer what John Carmack brought up in his QuakeCon keynote speech.  As he points out, building goodwill among the Linux community hasn't paid for the programming in the past and simply increasing performance will not directly translate into better sales figures.  However if we start seeing more Linux based Valve titles outperforming Windows on the same hardware, some enthusiasts are likely to set up a dual boot system, if not move their gaming rig to Linux solely.  Read more at The Inquirer.

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"Valve announced its plans to port its Steam content delivery service and Left 4 Dead 2 to Linux just last month. The firm has already made astonishing progress, announcing that with various performance tweaks it has managed to get the Linux version of Left 4 Dead 2 using OpenGL to run significantly faster than the Direct3D Windows 7 version."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: The Inquirer

Valve to Sell Non-Game Software On Its Steam Platform

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2012 - 04:06 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, valve, steam, software, mac os x

Valve’s popular Steam digital game download service has been slowly expanding its software offerings. It has offered a Mac OS X client as well as a planned Linux client. Further, the service has started to offer software beyond games including game map editors, digital magazines, and videos.

According to a recent announcement by Valve, the company is going to even further expand its non-game software offerings starting September 5th. Whether this is in response to the Windows Store or if it has been planned for some time and the Windows Store is why Gabe Newell is irked by Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system is unknown.

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While the company did not mention any specific pieces of software that will be available at launch, users can look forward to software in categories ranging from creativity to productivity. Even better, some of the new software titles will be able to take advantage of Valve’s Steamworks service to offer cloud syncing of files and automatic updating (et al).

The new programs will start showing up on September 5th, and developers can start submitting their applications to Steam using its Greenlight service.

Valve’s Mark Richardson stated that “The 40 million gamers frequenting Steam are interested in more than playing games. They have told us they would like to have more of their software on Steam, so this expansion is in response to those customer requests.”

The automatic updating in particular is exciting, and it could well give Microsoft’s Windows Store a run for its money. If Valve brings the non-game software to all platforms–Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows–it could easily rival Microsoft’s Windows 8-only offering. What do you think about this announcement, would you use Steam for software other than games?

Source: Tested

Microsoft’s New Windows 8 Box Art Revealed

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2012 - 03:05 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, retail windows 8, microsoft, box art

Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system is well on its way to retail availability, and that means retail packaging. Unlike the simple green boxes of previous operating systems (ultimate edition excluded), Microsoft has decided to overhaul its box art for the new OS in Windows 8 UI style. The new boxes feature a large and colorful tile-based Windows logo set against either a white or black background color. Windows 8 will get a white background with Blue text and Windows 8 Pro versions will feature the black background and white text. It is not a bad design as far as Microsoft box art goes. The simple design is fairly pleasing to the eye, though some might argue that the OS inside the box is not as pretty as the box itself.

Win8box.jpg

The Verge managed to get its hands on the image above of the two boxed Windows 8 versions. Reportedly, Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro will be the only two versions that are sold at retail. Further, the two boxes are for the retail (not upgrade) versions. While The Verge speculates that the upgrade versions of Windows 8 will look similar to the boxed versions of Windows 7, there is no way to know for sure until the box art leaks or Microsoft announces it officially.

What do you think of the new Windows 8 retail box art? Did Microsoft make a good move here?

You can find more of PC Perspective's Windows 8 coverage by following our Windows 8 tag.

Source: The Verge