Anonymous hacks China, climbs hacker food chain.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | April 5, 2012 - 08:14 AM |
Tagged: China, hack, Anonymous

China has been the target of numerous successful hacking attempts by Anonymous over the last week. Many sites were defaced and in some cases data such as accounts and e-mail addresses were compromised.

Anonymous has ramped up their activism over the last six months beyond their usual DDOSing and intrusion of US government and corporate websites. Last autumn Anonymous threatened to expose members of Mexican drug cartels although that initiative faded away without too much controversy later in the year. This year they have instead assaulted the Chinese Government.

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This could get just as messy as the drug cartels.

Much of the defacing attempts broadcast, in both English as well as Chinese, messages about the Chinese Government and their practices. One such message states:

Your Government controls the Internet in your country and strives to filter what it considers a threat for it. Be careful. Use VPN for your own security. Or Tor.

The attacks have been sustained for over a week at this point. 486 compromised sites have been listed on Pastebin as of March 30th. There does not appear to have been any public response from the Chinese Government at this point.

What sticks out to me the most is how widespread the attack on Chinese online infrastructure appears to have been despite China’s traditional focus towards cyber security. Regardless of who you are, or what you have previously been capable of, you need to take security seriously as true security is extremely difficult.

Source: ZDNet

CM Storm QuickFire Pro: Full NKRO over USB?

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | April 4, 2012 - 08:51 PM |
Tagged: cooler master, mechanical keyboard

Cooler Master announces the Cooler Master Storm QuickFire Pro mechanical keyboard available soon in four different CHERRY flavors. They claim full N-Key Rollover (NKRO) through USB, which is a first to my knowledge.

Higher-end keyboards seem to be growing further and further in fashion as of late.

Cooler Master jumped into the mechanical keyboard market with their QuickFire Rapid release in late 2011. The Rapid was available in Cherry MX Blue and Cherry MX Red switches. The Rapid was a Tenkeyless design, sparing you the width of a number pad if you do not wish to have one.

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Of course only the Pro keyboard would have a numpad… only accountants use it or something.

Cooler Master has obviously found that the Rapid a successful product as they will launch a sister design allegedly sometime this month. The Storm QuickFire Pro is a partially backlit full-sized keyboard. The Rapid Pro will be available in Cherry MX Blue, MX Brown, MX Black, and MX Red switch designs. If you are curious about the differences between keyboard switches then check out my explanation in the Rosewill RK-9000v2 review.

The most interesting feature of this keyboard is their claim of full NKRO through USB. Traditionally in order to press every button down on a keyboard you are limited to using a PS/2 connection. Recent research at Microsoft increased the USB limit to approximately 18 keys from the usual 6kro. I would be curious to see someone put that keyboard through Aquakey to verify those claims.

The QuickFire Pro is expected to have an MSRP of $99.99. If they are like other keyboard manufacturers, that likely depends on the switch used.

Fancy a peek at the Diablo III beta?

Subject: General Tech | April 4, 2012 - 05:34 PM |
Tagged: gaming, diablo iii

While we cannot offer you a way to get into the beta, it is possible to show off a game play movie made by Slashdot, or two.  The release of this gaming is fast approaching with just over a month to the May 15th release date ... assuming no more delays occur.  From the video we learn that the developers have made the stats autolevel so that players do not have to worry about breaking their character with poor stat choices.  Many skills will be tied to the equipment you are wearing and so will not be a permanent choice, swapping your equipment will change your skills.  Hopefully Slashdot is right when they state the developers spent a lot of time toning down the tedium and raising the level of fun.

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"It's been almost four years since Diablo 3 was announced, and its development began years earlier. Its predecessors helped define the action RPG genre, so anticipation is high among fans of the franchise. The game has undergone closed beta testing since September, and a lot has changed since then. Now that Blizzard has settled on May 15th as a release date, we thought this would be a good time to take a look at the state of the game as it currently exists. These two videos show actual gameplay of the various classes, explain the skill and rune systems, take a look at the auction house, and go over many of the other changes since the beginning of development."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Source: Slashdot

OCZ isn't the only one with a new drive today, Hitachi now offers a 4TB Ultrastar

Subject: General Tech | April 4, 2012 - 05:07 PM |
Tagged: ultrastar, sata 6Gbs, hitachi, 7K4000, 4TB

There aren't any benchmarks yet to see what the new Hitachi Ultrastar 7K4000 4TB HDD but with the similarities to the 3TB model some assumptions can be made.  The 7200RPM drive contains five 800GB platters and a 466Gbits/in2 areal density with a 64MB cache and a rated sequential transfer rate of up to 171MB/sec.  They also managed to increase the energy efficiency of the drive somewhat, using 24% less watts per GB while offering 33% more storage.  The Register reported on both this drive as well as the 4TB Thunderbolt edition which was recently released.

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"Hitachi GST has laid a nice Easter egg: a 4TB enterprise disk drive and a first at this capacity level. It's HGST's second 4TB product.

This 3.5-inch drive technology first surfaced in September when Hitachi GST launched its 4TB G-Drive external Thunderbolt product. Now it has updated its Ultrastar line, jumping from the 3TB 7K3000 to this 7K4000 product."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

NVIDIA urges you to program better now, not CPU -- later.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | April 4, 2012 - 08:13 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, Intel, Knight's Corner, gpgpu

NVIDIA steals Intel’s lunch… analogy. In the process they claim that optimizing your application for Intel’s upcoming many-core hardware is not free of effort, and that effort is similar to what is required to develop on what NVIDIA already has available.

A few months ago, Intel published an article on their software blog to urge developers to look to the future without relying on the future when they design their applications. The crux of Intel’s argument states that regardless of how efficient Intel makes their processors, there is still responsibility on your part to create efficient code.

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There’s always that one, in the back of the class…

NVIDIA, never a company to be afraid to make a statement, used Intel’s analogy to alert developers to optimize for many-core architectures.

The hope that unmodified HPC applications will work well on MIC with just a recompile is not really credible, nor is talking about ease of programming without consideration of performance.

There is no free lunch. Programmers will need to put in some effort to structure their applications for hybrid architectures. But that work will pay off handsomely for today’s, and especially tomorrow’s, HPC systems.

It remains to be seen how Intel MIC will perform when it eventually arrives. But why wait? Better to get ahead of the game by starting down the hybrid multicore path now.

NVIDIA thinks that Intel was correct: there would be no free lunch for developers, why not purchase a plate at NVIDIA’s table? Who knows, after the appetizer you might want to stay around.

You cannot simply allow your program to execute on Many Integrated Core (MIC) hardware and expect it to do so well. The goal is not to simply implement on new hardware -- it is to perform efficiently while utilizing the advantages of everything that is available. It will always be up to the developer to set up their application in the appropriate way.

Your advantage will be to understand the pros and cons of massive parallelism. NVIDIA, AMD, and now Intel have labored to create a variety of architectures to suit this aspiration; software developers must labor in a similar way on their end.

Source: NVIDIA Blogs

The fine waterline between genius and madness; toilet water PC cooling

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | April 3, 2012 - 04:01 PM |
Tagged: case mods, watercooling, toilet, couric

When Google discusses using toilet water to cool a data centre, they don't exactly mean it in the way that this case mod went, but the latter is certainly easier to set up at home.  Other such inventive cooling solutions have been tried, after all what good is it if the weather outside is -40o if you don't have it vented through to your PCs intake fan?  However this is probably the first time someone popped a water pump into a toilet reservoir to use as an open cooling loop for a PC.  With a slight change to the tubing, you could probably ensure you never have to sit down on a cold seat again. ExtremeTech has pictures of the system and its creator here.

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"Hot on the heels of news that Google uses toilet water to cool one of its data centers, it has emerged that an enterprising hardware hacker had the same idea some seven years ago. As you will see in the following pictures, though, Jeff Gagnon’s computer is much more than a toilet-cooled rig — it’s a case mod tour de force."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: ExtremeTech

Optical or laser, EpicGear's Meduza can do one or both at once

Subject: General Tech | April 2, 2012 - 06:31 PM |
Tagged: meduza, input, gaming mouse, epicgear

If you can't decide if you prefer an optical sensor or a laser sensor better then EpicGear's new mouse is a great find.  It sports laser, optical and the blended HDST mode which combines them both and offers better sensitivity than the optical sensor though not quite as much as in laser only mode.  They also offer a hybrid mouse pad designed to be used with the mouse, which OC3D also tried out.  The software for programming macros is also worth a mention, not only does it properly record pauses between button presses but is easily editable after you've recorded them, just in case you didn't time it perfectly.

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"Epic Gear are willing to throw their hat into the gaming mouse ring with the innovative Meduza mouse."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Overclock3D

Ever wonder what is in a Reviewers Guide?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 2, 2012 - 04:13 PM |
Tagged: NVIDA, gtx 680, reviewer guide

A long held tradition in the hardware reviewing world is to accuse reviewers of biasing their reviews by only running the benchmarks that the manufacturer wants you to run and providing slanted results.  It really doesn't matter if every single site comes out with similar results, for some if a review doesn't fit their personal bias it is obviously flawed.  As [H]ard|OCP mentions, there was a time when Reviewer's Guides did resemble something along those lines but they have changed over time as suppliers realize the more biased they attempt to make their guidelines, the less likely a review site is to follow them. 

These guides are now more of a mix between a white paper and a lengthy PR release, with relatively in depth discussions on the capabilities of the product along with highlights of what the company feels are the key features on the new product.  [H] has posted the document which arrived with their GTX 680, discussing features and yes ... suggesting the appropriate games with which to show off their cards features, though what game could you test PhysX with other than Batman?

H_reviewre.jpg

"Many times we have been asked what exactly CPU and GPU companies "require" of us when working on a review of yet-to-be-released hardware. Published here is the Reviewers Guide from the recent NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 launch in its entirety. Besides it being a great geeked-out read, you will likely learn a few things."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Used Game Sales -- Tempest Cartridge in a Teapot

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | April 2, 2012 - 06:39 AM |
Tagged: used sales

I start to wonder how people got so successful at business with such a short-sighted mindset.

When I arrived home tonight I cautiously browsed the tech news as I often do. Many complain about April Fools being difficult for journalists due to the plausibility of certain pranks conflicting with the fact checking process. In my travels I came across an editorial from Don Reisinger about the ethics of used game sales. While it is marginally possible to have been an early joke, the sentiments contained in the post are too common in the industry.

Piracy and used game sales are sore spots for an industry of companies who believe you either make a sale or you lose a sale. The truth of the matter is that you should be thankful that your product was not flat-out ignored and attempt to derive as much value from that relationship as possible.

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First they came for my used copy of Mechwarrior 3...

Used game sales have been mostly extinct on the PC platform since the wonderful invention of recorded product keys. Users have flocked to the consoles to retain the second sale and have often berated the PC platform for it. As consoles move closer and closer to denying used sales I wonder where they will flock to next. Perhaps maybe they should instead demand that the publisher accept used sales?

For a publisher, a used game sold is a new user of your product. Your retail partner gained extra revenue and brought users closer to your other products which might be first-sale. The user might purchase DLC, sequels, spin-offs, sister-titles, expansion packs, merchandise, and franchise tie-ins as a result of that used game. The user will probably end up playing more video games altogether than they otherwise would. Do you really wish to give up all of that value by indulging in how you feel ripped off by your own paying customers? Also, what about the first sale customer who sold their game to make up the used sale?

They are your customers -- and they are always right. Shut up and take my money when you can.

Source: Slashgear

PC bill of materials articles creeps lower.

Subject: General Tech, Systems | March 31, 2012 - 11:01 PM |
Tagged: laptops, desktops

ZDNet and others published articles discussing the rising prices of PCs: it needs a grain of salt.

News publications love to publish large stories about how an industry is forcibly altered. For instance, are you sick of stories proclaiming the term “Post PC” yet? It is the season’s fashion to paint darker tones over any portrait of the personal computer.

According to a report from Ben Reitzes of Barclays Capital, certain PC components have gotten more expensive due to a series of recent events. It does not look like such a bleak future, however. Granted, ZDNet and Barclays Capital are both focused on their investment-oriented customers, but still.

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As you can clearly see, the PC is doomed.

Image from Don McMillan presentation.

Foremost on the list of concerns is the elevated price of hard drives. ZDNet claims that Apple will have an advantage due to their switch to solid state devices in Macbook Airs and iPads. Apple does not have an advantage -- anyone can put an SSD in their devices, and many PC manufacturers who sell their product for a base price of a thousand dollars do if it suits the goal of the product.

LCD panels are expected to elevate in the near future as OEMs build up inventory ahead of the launch of Windows 8-based products. I am sorry, but come on. Prices of components tend to rise when you abruptly spike in sales. Moving on…

DRAM prices have also risen about 7 percent compared to just a few months ago. My issue is that RAM prices have absolutely plummeted since even just last year. For a PC which costs four hundred dollars, RAM is expected to make up just $15 of that. 7 percent on $15 is, for all practical purposes, a rounding error for a $400 device.

The sky is not falling.

Source: ZDNet