You might want to rethink enabling RDP unless you have NLA set up

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2012 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: remote desktop protocol, patch tuesday, fud, rdp, security

Remote Desktop Protocol is a very handy tool, as the name suggests it allows you to take remote control of a desktop and is commonly used for everything from logging into a remote server to change settings to helping a long distance friend to get their printer installed to logging onto your home machine to start a Steam download and install so your game will be ready for you when you get home from work.  Unfortunately it does open up a way into your PC for attackers, though thanks to the Network Level Authentication feature which was added into Vista and later versions of Windows, PCs on an authenticated network are much safer than they would be without it.  Unfortunately NLA will not exist on home workgroups, nor is it supported by versions of Windows previous to Vista.  That is why The Register warns of a RDP vulnerability that Microsoft will be patching next patch Tuesday, as older machines as well as home machines could be at risk if someone launches an attack before the patch is released and installed.  For the mean time you might want to disable RDP unless you actually use it regularly.

rdp.png

"The critical flaw covers all versions of Windows and is found in the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). It allows attackers to run code remotely behind the firewall, although Vista users and above can activate the Remote Desktop’s Network Level Authentication (NLA) to trigger an authentication request. RDP is disabled by default, but is often activated."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Walmart Will Convert DVDs and Blu-rays to VUDU Digital Copies

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2012 - 03:34 AM |
Tagged: walmart, vudu, ultraviolet, ripping, movies, hd, dvd, digital

Walmart Offering DVD Disc to Vudu Digital Copy conversion for cheap, but there is a caveat.

(Preface) Despite the iron fist fighting innovation and locking down media that is the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act), many tech savvy people have employed certain programs and disc drives to rip their physical DVD and Blu-ray collections to digital files that can act as backups and can be easily streamed around the house or over the Internet when you are out and about. The movie studios definitely do not like this practice; however, there is little that they can do about it (and as far as opinions go, they shouldn't). Slowly but surely the world is prodding them with a giant stick of common sense and they are starting to wake up, however. Many DVDs and Blu-rays now come with digital copies that can be unlocked and played via Itunes or Windows Media Player.  (Sure, they are DRM'ed but it is a step in the right direction.)

And even more recently, several movie studios have started experimenting with the idea of stream-able copies of physical discs using their Ultra Violet DRM. The official description of Ultra Violet is as follows.

"UltraViolet (UVVU or UV for short) is an an ecosystem for interoperable electronic content. It's a branded set of specifications and agreements along with a centralized rights clearinghouse that allows retailers to sell movies that play on UltraViolet-compatible players and services."

Needless to say, the official word isn't too helpful for those not studying law or marketing (heh). Basically it is a set of standards (including DRM) that other services and retailers can follow and sell access to a library of digital movies from participating movie studios. The standards specify that Ultraviolet movies should be download-able to UV compliant devices; however, at time of writing only streaming devices are commonplace. The way Ultra Violet works is that certain physical disc purchases will have a code that can then be used to redeem a digital copy that can then be streamed to PCs, TVs, and other supported devices (which they estimate at around 300+ devices).

walmart_dvd_conversion.png

Walmart's approach is a bit different than that but follows the same Ultraviolet DRM and standards. The new Walmart Entertainment conversion service will allow customers to bring in their DVD or Blu-ray collection and for a $2 a disc will be given access to a digital version of that film through their subsidiary company VUDU's movie service. Because Walmart has a deal with the appropriate studios, they are able to convert the movies for a small fee and without needing to rip the discs. Instead, at the Photo Center, employees will examine the discs, then find the matching movie (if there is one, of course) on the VUDU service and add it to the customers VUDU account (or create a new account if they do not already have an existing VUDU account). According to Walmart, the movies will be available for streaming within a few minutes of activation, and customers will be allowed to keep their physical discs.

Further, customers will be able to upgrade their DVD's to an HD (not Blu-ray quality but better than DVD) VUDU copy for $5 (or $3 more than a standard conversion). The wording of the press release is a bit ambiguous but seems to suggest that DVD to SD VUDU and Blu-ray to HD VUDU count as "standard conversions" due to their "equal conversions" description. Only DVDs to HD will be at the higher priced conversion (we'll get clarification on this, so stay tuned for an update).

As mentioned above, there are a couple caveats to this new conversion service. Mainly, the digital copies are (currently) only stream-able, meaning a constant internet connection is required. This point may be moot in a few months when downloads are allegedly going to be supported by Ultraviolet DRM, but at the time of writing still exists. Also, there is the fact that the files are DRM'ed, meaning that customers are out of luck if VUDU shuts down their service or they do not have Ultraviolet approved devices. The major negative that tech savvy people are likely to bring up is that the service costs money for DRM protected files when they are able to rip their DVDs and Blu-rays on their own for free and do whatever they want with the non-DRM'ed files. Finally, the service is further limited by studio support and VUDUs catalog, meaning that they may not be able to convert all of your collection for DVDs or Blu-rays that are not available on VUDU.

It is a valid point; however, it should be noted that while it is rarely enforced, the DMCA makes ripping DVDs and Blu-ray discs illegal (because the programs need to break the encryption to copy the video to the computer). Also, the Walmart service does have the benefit of cheap HD upgrades for your DVD collection at $5 a pop versus $20+ for Blu-ray versions, and it is a heck of a lot faster than waiting for the Handbrake transcoding queues to finish!

In the end, the new DVD and Blu-ray disc to digital conversion service is not perfect; however, it is a step in the right direction and a decent option for anyone that does not have the time or knowledge to rip their own DVD or Blu-ray collection. For example, this is something I could see my family members using as a good way to backup their collection and prevent the situation where their kids favorite movie will no longer play because they stepped on it and threw it like a Frisbee (and the ensuing tantrum hehe). And if they get to the point where the files are no longer DRM'ed I would definitely consider it because of the time saved in converting and cheap HD upgrade (there have been very few movies I've spent the extra money on to get the Blu-ray version whereas I'm less selective about cheaper DVD purchases).

Source: Walmart

Nobody likes NVIDIA, even Apple won't play with them

Subject: General Tech | March 13, 2012 - 12:15 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, nvidia, macbook, kelper, Ivy Bridge, fermi, apple

NVIDIA has been having a rough life lately with problems besetting them on all sides.  Their IGP business has been disembowelled by AMD's Llano and even Intel is now offering usable graphics with the HD3000 on higher end Sandy Bridge chips.   The console makers seem to have decided on AMD as the provider of choice for the next generation of products which locks NVIDIA out of that market for years to come, as console generations tend to last significantly longer than PC components.  The delays at TSMC have enabled AMD to launch three families of next generation GPU without NVIDIA being able to respond, which not only hurts NVIDIA's bottom line but lets AMD set their own pricing until NVIDIA can finally release Kepler, at a price that will not be wholly of their choosing. 

Now according to SemiAccurate they are losing a goodly portion of Apple's MacBook business as well.  The supply issues which will be the result of the fabrication problems were likely a big factor in Apple's decision to trim back GPU orders but there is also the fact that the low to mid range GPU could well be going extinct.  With the power of the forthcoming Intel HD4000 and AMD's Trinity line of APUs it will become hard for laptop and system makers to justify putting in a discrete GPU since they will have to choose relatively expensive parts to have the discrete GPU contribute to performance. That leaves NVIDIA only providing GPUs for high end MacBooks, a much less lucrative market than the mid range.  Don't even mention the previous issue of overheating GPUs.

ENGAD_macbookproboom.jpg

"That is exactly what SemiAccurate moles are telling us is going on. Nvidia can’t supply, so Apple threw them out on their proverbial magical experience. This doesn’t mean that Nvidia is completely out at Apple, the Intel GPUs are too awful to satisfy the higher end laptops, so there will need to be something in those. What that something is, we don’t definitively know yet, but the possibilities are vanishingly small."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: SemiAccurate

Google Rolling Out SSL Encrypted Search for International Users

Subject: General Tech | March 12, 2012 - 10:01 PM |
Tagged: SSL, search, international, google, encryption

Google recently announced on their Inside Search blog that the company would be rolling out the default SSL encrypted search option for users signed in with a Google account internationally. Previously, the company made SSL encryption the default setting for Gmail and provided an alternative encrypted.google.com webpage for users that wanted to opt in to encrypted search. Earlier this year, they began testing SSL encrypted search and search results pages for users signed into Google in the US, and they are now ready to expand the default setting to international users.

google_padlock.png

They announced that over the next few weeks, they will begin introducing an SSL (secure socket layer) encrypted search page for localized international google pages such as google.co.uk (United Kingdom) and google.fr (France) among others. Further, they hope that their increased SSL commitment will encourage other websites to enable SSL on their domains to protect users from MITM (man in the middle) attacks and to ensure their sessions stay private.

More encryption is a good thing, and international users will be pleased to finally get a taste of it for their google search queries, especially now that the big G has enabled personalized search results.

Source: Google

GoFlow To Offer $99 tDCS Brain Augmentation Kit

Subject: General Tech | March 12, 2012 - 09:54 PM |
Tagged: tDCS, overclocking, DIY, brain, augmentation

The new Extreme Tech (RIP ET Classic) recently ran an article that talks about turbo boosting, overclocking goodness, but with a twist. Instead of the typical CPU or GPU hardware, the article talks about overclocking some wetware in the form of the human brain. More specifically, a DIY kit called the GoFlow is in the works to enable affordable tDCS, or transcranial direct-current stimulation, to stimulate the brain into a "state of flow" enabling quicker learning and faster response times.

tDCS_schematic.jpg

The GoFlow β1 will be a $99 do it yourself tDCS kit that will direct you in placing electrodes on the appropriate areas of your scalp and then pumping some direct current from a 9V battery at 2 milliamps through your brain, enticing the neurons into a state of flow. This makes them more malleable to creating new pathways and increasing learning speed as well as allowing them to fire more rapidly, bolstering thought processes. The kit, which is not available for purchase yet, will not require any knowledge of soldering, and will be housed a plastic case along with wires, schematics, and a potentiometer to dial in the right amount of power.

The company behind the GoFlow β1 has further referenced cases of successful tDCS short term testing including tests of UAV Drone pilots and professional gamers all learning their respective trades more quickly than the average. Extremetech also mentions that tDCS can have therapeutic effects for people effected by Parkinson’s or post stoke motor dysfunction.

Right now, the kit is still in the works, but interested users can sign up to be notified when it becomes available on their website. At $99, is this something work a shot, or do you prefer not to void the warranty on your brain? (heh)  Personally, statements such as "our tDCS kit is the shit" and "get one of the first β1's and will help us develop β2" on the webstie are not exactly instilling confidence to me, but if you're big into the early adopter adventure, GoFlow may have something for you to test.

Source: Extreme Tech

So when is that GTX680 coming out anyways?

Subject: General Tech | March 12, 2012 - 03:20 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, kelper, GK104, gtx680

Whether you are an NVIDIA fan or not you are likely anxiously awaiting the release of NVIDIA's new GPU.  Since AMD is currently holding the lead on graphics cards they have no competition to lower the price of their high end cards which can beat anything NVIDIA currently has on the market.  Depending on the price and performance of the new Kepler chip, its release should have an effect on the pricing of at least one line of AMD card, be it Pitcairn or Cape Verde.  This is why SemiAccurate's pegging of the expected release dates, both paper and physical, are worth taking a look at, especially if your GPU recently died and you are looking at getting a new one.  We should have a good idea of the price, performance and availability by the end of March.

Nvidia Fermi1.jpg

"Today, March 8, is the day where the press that Nvidia flew in get their ‘tech day’, basically the deep dive on Kepler. Then, like we said a few days ago, Nvidia will paper launch the cards next Monday, March 12. From that point, things get a little hazy because people are arguing over two different days. Some are saying Friday March 23, others Monday March 26, with a few more saying 23 than 26. It could be none of the above though, but if you bet on two weeks out, you won’t be far off."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: SemiAccurate

NVIDIA Joins Linux Foundation

Subject: General Tech | March 10, 2012 - 12:37 AM |
Tagged: software, OS, nvidia, linux

In a recent press release, the Linux Foundation added four new members, one of which is a big deal in the graphics card industry. In addition to the new members of Fluendo, Lineo Solutions, and Mocana is the green GPU powerhouse NVIDIA. According to Maximum PC, there is talk around the web of the company moving to open source graphics drivers; however, NVIDIA has not released anything to officially confirm or deny.

Linux Foundation Logo.GIF

The Linux Foundation's Logo

Such a move would be rather extreme and unlikely, but it would certainly be one that is welcomed by the Linux community. Officially, the Vice President of Linux Platform Software Scott Pritchett stated the company is "strongly committed" to delivering quality software/hardware experiences and they hope their membership in the Linux Foundation will "accelerate our collaboration with the organizations and individuals instrumental in shaping the future of Linux." Further, they hope to be able to add to and enhance the user and development experience of the open source operating system.

The three other members to join the Linux Foundation specialize in multimedia software (Fluendo), embedded system development (Lineo Solutions), and device-agnostic security (Mocana) but the green giant that is NVIDIA has certainly stolen the show and is the big announcement for them (which isn't a bad thing that they joined, it is kind of a big deal to have them). Amanda McPherson, VP of Marketing and Developer Services for the Linux Foundation wrapped up the press release by saying that all of the new members "represent important areas of the Linux ecosystem and their contributions will immediately help advance the operating system.”

NVIDIA has generally enjoyed good support on the major Linux distributions, but now that they are a member here's hoping they can further improve their Linux graphics card drivers. What is your take on the Linux Foundation's new members, will they make a difference?

Podcast #192 - AMD Radeon HD 7870 and 7850, Z77 Motherboard previews, and a Steam console

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | March 8, 2012 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: Z77, ssd, podcsat, podcast, msi, Intel, gpu, cpu, asus, amd, 7870, 7850

PC Perspective Podcast #192 - 03/08/2012

Join us this week as we talk about the AMD Radeon HD 7870 and 7850, Z77 Motherboard previews, and a Steam console?

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malvantano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 54:59

Program Schedule: 

  1. 0:00:42 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:02:00 Installing Windows 8 Consumer Preview In A VirtualBox Virtual Machine
  6. 0:05:00 AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB and HD 7850 2GB Pitcairn Review
    1. Radeon HD 7870 2GB vs HD 7850 2GB vs HD 5870 1GB Quick Look
  7. 0:18:30 ASUS Z77 Chipset Motherboard Preview: Formula, Gene, mini-ITX
  8. 0:24:30 MSI X79A-GD65 (8D) LGA 2011 ATX Motherboard Review
  9. 0:26:00 Visual Computing Still Decades from Computational Apex
  10. 0:36:00 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  11. 0:37:00 GDC 12: The bigger big picture, Steam Box to be announced?
  12. 0:40:30 MSI Shows of Next Generation Twin Frozr IV Cards at Cebit
  13. 0:42:30 Peter Pan presents a stylish mouse at CeBIT; Thermaltake's Level 10 M
  14. 0:45:45 Apple Launching Quad Core Graphics A5X Powered iPad 3 With Retina Display
  15. 0:49:00 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: How about a new laptop?  Time for shopping!!  Ultrabook?  IVB maybe?
    2. Jeremy: Ever heard of the brown note?
    3. Josh: They have arrived
    4. Allyn: sleep lulz
  16. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  17. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  18. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  19. Closing

Source:

Maybe that is why TSMC stopped production on 28nm?

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2012 - 03:09 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, 28nm

The news broke yesterday that TSMC had halted production on 28nm production in mid February for an undisclosed reason.  SemiAccurate thought this strange as the only company that is admitting to problems with TSMC's 28nm process is NVIDIA, but at least production was scheduled to restart by the end of March.  Today from DigiTimes we hear a more positive story about not only the 28nm but also the 20nm process line as TSMC predicts that the demand for chips from their customers could go as high as 95% of their capacity.  Perhaps because of the lack of pressure because of a currently well stocked channel they shut down the line to ensure no preventable problems would prevent them from meeting this high demand?

tsmc_wafer.jpg

"Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) chairman and CEO Morris Chang has commented that development of 20nm and 28nm processes is progressing well. The market believes TSMC's capacity utilization rate in second-quarter 2012 should be close to 95%.

Chang indicated that 28nm processes will likely contribute 10% of 2012 revenues.

Industry sources pointed out that TSMC's capacity utilization of its 28nm and 45nm processes at its 12-inch wafer plant has not decreased and delivery usually takes 8-10 weeks.

Equipment makers also indicated that TSMC has been ordering equipment and installations will be completed in first-half 2012.

Industry sources added that other Taiwan-based IC design houses have been experiencing increasing orders. The market was pessimistic before the Lunar New Year holidays causing inventory levels to be low. This has induced the recent wave of increased orders."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

Intel in the Cloud with Ray-traces

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | March 8, 2012 - 04:02 AM |
Tagged: ray tracing, tablet, tablets, knight's ferry, Intel

Intel looks to bring ray-tracing from their Many Integrated Core (Intel MIC) architecture to your tablet… by remotely streaming from a server loaded with one or more Knight’s Ferry cards.

The anticipation of ray-tracing engulfed almost the entirety of 3D video gaming history. The reasonable support of ray-tracing is very seductive for games as it enables easier access to effects such as global illumination, reflections, and so forth. Ray-tracing is well deserved of its status as a buzzword.

intel-ray.jpg

Render yourself in what Knight’s Ferry delivered… with scaling linearly and ray-traced Wolfenstein

Screenshot from Intel Blogs.

Obviously Intel would love to make headway into the graphics market. In the past Intel has struggled to put forth an acceptable offering for graphics. It is my personal belief that Intel did not take graphics seriously when they were content selling cheap GPUs to be packed in with PCs. While the short term easy money flowed in, the industry slipped far enough ahead of them that they could not just easily pounce back into contention with a single huge R&D check.

Intel obviously cares about graphics now, and has been relentless at their research into the field. Their CPUs are far ahead of any competition in terms of serial performance -- and power consumption is getting plenty of attention itself.

Intel has long ago acknowledged the importance of massively parallel computing but was never quite able to bring products like Larabee against anything the companies they once ignored could retaliate with. This brings us back to ray-tracing: what is the ultimate advantage of ray-tracing?

 

Ray-tracing is a dead simple algorithm.

 

A ray-trace renderer is programmed very simply and elegantly. Effects are often added directly and without much approximation necessary. No hacking around is required in the numerous caveats within graphics APIs in order to get a functional render on screen. If you can keep throwing enough coal on the fire, it will burn without much effort -- so to speak. Intel just needs to put a fast enough processor behind it, and away they go.

Throughout the article, Daniel Pohl has in fact discussed numerous enhancements that they have made to their ray-tracing engine to improve performance. One of the most interesting improvements is their approach to antialiasing. If the rays from two neighboring pixels strike different meshes or strike the same mesh at the point of a sharp change in direction, denoted by color, between pixels then they are flagged for supersampling. The combination of that shortcut with MLAA will also be explored by Intel at some point.

intel-41914.png

A little behind-the-scenes trickery...

Screenshot from Intel Blogs.

Intel claims that they were able to achieve 20-30 FPS at 1024x600 resolutions streaming from a server with a single Knight’s Ferry card installed to an Intel Atom-based tablet. They were able to scale to within a couple percent of theoretical 8x performance with 8 Knight’s Ferry cards installed.

I very much dislike trusting my content to online streaming services as I am an art nut. I value the preservation of content which just is not possible if you are only able to access it through some remote third party -- can you guess my stance on DRM? That aside, I understand that Intel and others will regularly find ways to push content to where there just should not be enough computational horsepower to accept it.

Ray-tracing might be Intel’s attempt to circumvent all of the years of research that they ignored with conventional real-time rendering technologies. Either way, gaming engines are going the way of simpler rendering algorithms as GPUs become more generalized and less reliant on fixed-function hardware assigned to some arbitrary DirectX or OpenGL specification.

Intel just hopes that they can have a compelling product at that destination whenever the rest of the industry arrives.

Source: Intel Blog