Proposed Internet Blackout Seeks To Convince Congress To Drop SOPA

Subject: General Tech | January 2, 2012 - 06:24 PM |
Tagged: terrible idea, tech, SOPA, Internet, bill

Let me say right off the bat, that personally I'm very much against the idea of SOPA due to how easily the system could be abused and the degree to which innovation would be stiffed all in the name of "stopping piracy." Fortunately, I'm not the only one against the Stopping Online Piracy Act, and many of the opponents include Internet giants Google, Facebook, Ebay, and Twitter.

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While money being paid to congressmen may speak louder than a few tech enthusiasts writing to voice their opposition, when no one is able to perform Google searches, update their Twitter, or check their Facebook you can bet that the thousands of Americans are going to go nuts and is surely to get the attention of the everyday-person.  And when those same sites show their users who to blame, people are going to react.  (Seriously, have you been around someone when their internet has gone out for a day and they haven't been able to get on Facebook!?).  According to CNET, various top Internet sites have an ace up their sleeve and are prepared to blackout their sites such that visitors will be greeted with censorship logos naming SOPA and the government for the lack of user content and users' social networking fix.

"When the home pages of Google.com, Amazon.com, Facebook.com, and their Internet allies simultaneously turn black with anti-censorship warnings that ask users to contact politicians about a vote in the U.S. Congress the next day on SOPA, you'll know they're finally serious" says Declan McCullagh.

If SOPA passes, there will effectively be no internet, so maybe it is time to institute some MAD (mutually assured destruction) by encouraging sites to go with, as Mr. McCullagh puts it, their nuclear option and motivate people to let Congress know just how bad of an idea SOPA is.  After all, if SOPA passes how would you get your YouTube laughs, or even more importantly your PCPer fix!?  Have you called your Congressmen yet (nudge, nudge)?

Source: CNET

Finally a trip to the Southern Isles; AMD's new HD 7970

Subject: General Tech | January 2, 2012 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: tahiti, HD 7970, 28nm, southern islands

With 2,048 stream processors, 3GB of GDDR5 memory, and DVI,  HDMI and a pair of mini-Displayport outputs the new HD 7970 can support six displays and might even have the power to do it well.  Internal reviews, which are to be taken with your daily allowance of NaCl, suggest a 70-90% jump in performance when compared to the previous generation of AMD GPUs.  This all comes at a cost however, with a ~$700 price tag being predicted for the base model and unfortunately that is likely what you will get.  Even though AMD opened up the specifications for their manufacturers, allowing them to set whatever clock speeds and cooling solutions they desired it seems that most companies opted to go with the reference model, at least for now.   The other cost is power; the new 28nm process allows extremely low powered idling but as the card requires both an 8 pin and a 6 pin PCIe power connector you can be assured the card will use a lot of power when going full out, especially if you utilize the automatic 33% overclock that is enabled by the Powertune application mentioned by The Inquirer in their article.

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"CHIP DESIGNER AMD has released the Radeon HD 7970 based on its Tahiti GPU chip.

AMD's Radeon HD 7970 is the first graphics board design based on its 28nm Southern Islands Tahiti GPU. The chip, which AMD claims has 4.3bn transistors, has been significantly changed from the previous Northern Islands generation Cayman Radeon HD 6970, has more on-chip cache and the firm claims it has greater overclocking headroom."

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Source: The Inquirer

Quickly -- before the credit card bills get in: Steam Encore

Subject: General Tech | January 1, 2012 - 08:24 PM |
Tagged: steam, Space Quest

The holidays are quickly coming to a close; like Times Square, I hope you had a ball. If you were unable to take advantage of the Steam deals as they occurred over the last two weeks, you are in luck: it is deja vu day. If you did not receive Batman, Skyrim, L.A. Noire, Saint’s Row, and various other PC titles in your stocking then this might just be the perfect time to snatch one or two up. Get saddled up for the long winter months until The Darkness 2 and Jeremy’s favorite: Syndicate, the first person shooter, are both released in February.

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But wait, there’s more! Oh, you need to wait for Steam servers... right.

What is this you tell me? You do your banking online and you need to pass?

How about a free smile instead? If you were once a fan of classic adventure titles such as those from Sierra -- you will likely enjoy spending a little time cleaning up space one overflown toilet at a time. Just a couple of days ago Space Quest II has been remade by Infamous Adventures as a free download on either the Mac or PC platforms. A few of the most hilarious deaths imaginable for free? Roger, wilco!

Source: Steam Store

Mozilla Starts Asking For Donations from Users

Subject: General Tech | December 30, 2011 - 11:42 AM |
Tagged: mozilla, firefox, donations, browser

Mozilla, the company behind the popular open source Firefox web browser recently struck a quite lucrative deal with Google for providing the big G with a default search box and google search start page.  Apparently, 900 million (over three years) is not enough for the company; however, as they have started asking for user donations of at least $10.

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According to their new story page, "We believe the Web is a place where anyone can come to build their dreams."  The non profit states in the accompanying video that they are more than just a web browser, they are a global community fighting to keep the web a good, innovative place.  And that, they argue is why they need your support; to make the web a "force for good by making a donation today."

Personally, this feels like a cross between late night PBS broadcasts as a kid and Wikipedia's pleas for donations.  Sure, if you are a big fan of Firefox it couldn't hurt to support them; however, I don't think they are going anywhere any time soon.  What are your thoughts on this as a user?

Source: Mozilla

Richard Huddy is now Intel Inside. Well I'll be d'AMD.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 28, 2011 - 05:04 PM |
Tagged: Intel

There are a few individuals in the video game industry who attract news articles when their employers change; Richard Huddy is one. Experience with 3DLabs and executive positions at NVIDIA and ATI/AMD firmly suggests that he is in touch with graphics processing. Huddy completes his tour of the current PC GPU triangle by signing on with Intel. Given said GPU background, it would be interesting to speculate what plans Intel has for their presence in the graphics market -- and some already are.

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Matrox… isn’t a part of that triangle…

KitGuru speculates that Intel realizes their attempts in developing graphics accelerators, such as Larrabee and their integrated GPUs, are lackluster; I personally believe that is a fairly safe speculation to make. Hiring the person who has dealt with developer relations throughout Europe for NVIDIA and worldwide for AMD would give you a good sense of what directions you need to be heading as a company. KitGuru also speculates that Intel desires to be placed in the consoles -- while developing a console GPU would be desirable for Intel as there would be no pressure to get huge numbers in random benchmarks, I doubt that is a core focus of Intel. If I was to speculate, and I am, my personal expectation would be to keep up with AMD and NVIDIA in the GPGPU war as well as tablet GPUs.

If you were to speculate: what do you think Intel’s motives are? Sane or crazy -- if it's legal, comment away!

Source: KitGuru

Atom cannibalizes our market! Move it to someone else’s!

Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 28, 2011 - 02:33 AM |
Tagged: intel atom, Intel, atom

Intel’s Atom processors were created as a tier below their Celeron product line. Netbooks, then running VIA Nano processors, have started to gain popularity since their introduction in late 2007. Intel’s Atom processors took the place of the VIA parts since that time. In 2009, Intel has stated that they have seen approximately twenty percent of their sales of notebook processors replaced with sales of their cheaper Atom processors. Intel still maintains the Atom processor line, but apparently with new goals in mind.

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Up and ATOM!!!

According to Digitimes, the demand for Intel’s Atom processors has declined recently. Intel, in response, decided to market that tier of parts to embedded and server customers for use in network-attached storage devices and very low-end servers. Intel is also rumored to have plans to shrink the process size of Atom in 2013 to 22nm and again shrink process size to 14nm in 2014. The upcoming 32nm Atom processor is expected by the second quarter of 2012.

Source: Digitimes

April Thunderbolts. Do they bring May flowers?

Subject: General Tech | December 27, 2011 - 03:49 PM |
Tagged: thunderbolt

A little standard known as Thunderbolt has made its way around the industry for its high bandwidths and promise of transporting data optically rather than electrically. Intel, the creator, eventually needed to drop optical communication from the spec with a return loosely planned but firmly believed. For the last year, Apple was the only source for Thunderbolt-capable computers; starting in April, several PC manufacturers are expected to participate in adopting Intel’s technology.

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Apple blossoms

Intel weighed in on the adoption of the standard in a statement to their partners.

To speed up the standardization of Thunderbolt, Intel is cooperating with Apple and Apple is the sole vendor currently to have PC products featuring Thunderbolt technology. As demand for the technology has seen obvious growth, Intel is ready to release the technology for public use.

While I am not too fond of the more proprietary platforms, several technologies await better external busses: high-speed storage and dockable processing accelerators such as external video cards are two very good examples. We will also at some point need to break free from electron transistor-based computing methods; optical integrated circuits based on photonic crystals appear to be a logical albeit distant next step. Advancements in optical bus technology for Thunderbolt, now, would be applicable for the advancement of that technology when it becomes ready, much later.

What would you do with a faster external bus? The crazier the prediction, the better.

Source: Digitimes

Happy Holidays from… oh crap CES. Also, it’s Microsoft’s last

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | December 21, 2011 - 07:42 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, CES2012, CES

There are just a few shopping days left until the holidays, but feel comfortable knowing that whatever panic you experience will be over just in time for CES with our associated and broadcasted panic. We will be covering the expo and many of its events starting on the 8th of January for your entertainment and your education. One company that usually has a gigantic presence at CES, albeit not as reported on by us relative to other companies, is Microsoft; this year is no different -- but CES 2013

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The software giant’s presence at CES 2013: Micro… and soft.

This year's presence? Big and right next to the restrooms.

(Image from MapYourShow.com)

Microsoft is known for having a large presence at CES each year, year after year, for recent memory. Over the years, Microsoft has unveiled products such as the original Xbox, gave a release window for their Project Natal (later Kinect), and just last year demonstrated Windows running on ARM processors. Microsoft’s official statement denotes a shift from CES announcements to releasing news through social media, their website, and their retail stores for those who enter a Microsoft retail store.

After thinking about questions like these, we have decided that this coming January will be our last keynote presentation and booth at CES. We’ll continue to participate in CES as a great place to connect with partners and customers across the PC, phone and entertainment industries, but we won’t have a keynote or booth after this year because our product news milestones generally don’t align with the show’s January timing.

I, personally, would love for Apple to take Microsoft’s booth space… for the delicious layering of irony. I would then of course love for it to have been a good decision for Microsoft to pull out to screw Apple over. Everyone wins by everyone losing.

Serious Sam takes his PC gaming ... seriously

Subject: General Tech | December 21, 2011 - 04:06 PM |
Tagged: gaming, serious sam, serious sam 3 bfe

In a nice change from many other recently released games, Serious Sam 3 was obviously designed with PC gaming in mind.  While it is still a DX9 game, the developers spent a significant amount of effort pushing DX9 as far as it could go to provide you with great visuals and an options screen that gives you a lot more control than other recent console ports games.  [H]ard|OCP's testing shows the game scoffs at high resolutions, with the performance at 2560x1600 being essentially the same as at 1920 x 1280.  AMD holds a slight lead in performance over NVIDIA, though not enough to really brag about, either manufacturer will give you a great experience while playing this game.  Check it out here.

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"Croteam's latest installment in the Serious Sam series takes us back to a time when first person shooters were designed around fragging endless waves of zombified enemies, cover did not exist, and rocket launchers were semi-automatic weapons. This DX9 game comes packed with graphics options that push the current generation of graphics cards to the limit."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

AMD's new A-series processors; why didn't they tell anyone?

Subject: General Tech | December 21, 2011 - 03:39 PM |
Tagged: llano, APU, amd, a-series

From DigiTimes we have some news that AMD has been keeping a very tight lid on for some reason.   The secret was not a brand new product line or surprising advance that won't see the light of day for a long time to come, instead it was the arrival of updated A-series APUs to the market.  With absolutely no press build up or even a review of these processors in sight it came as a bit of a surprise, albeit a good one.  We have a pair of new A-8 and A-6 processors and a single A-4 on the desktop side, with an addional "K" in the name of two.  That "K", which you will remember from Intel processors, does indeed seem to replace the Black Edition name AMD previously used to identify unlocked processors.  For the notebooks are a few more chips, two of each of the A-8 and A-6, three A-4 processors and an E2 as well.  The naming scheme here is concerned with the TDP of the chip, an M part is 35W and the MX is 45W.  

Perhaps AMD let a few too many of their marketers go as they are not only not telling anyone about their new parts they had to borrow a naming scheme from the competition.  Catch all of DigiTimes coverage here.

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"AMD has updated its A-series lineup of desktop and notebook accelerated processing units (APUs), further improving its family of dual- and quad-core APUs. Along with speed and performance improvements, AMD Steady Video update make this unique feature more compelling. For desktop users, AMD extends its overclocking pedigree to the APU; for the first time users can tune both x86 and graphics settings in a single processor for boosted performance.

The updated AMD A-series APUs combine up to four x86 CPU cores with up to 400 Radeon cores, delivering powerful DirectX 11-capable, discrete-level graphics and dedicated HD video processing on a single chip. These new APUs increase performance and deliver a richer feature set than existing AMD A-series APUs. Plus, only AMD APUs offer AMD Dual Graphics for an up to 144% visual performance boost when a select APU is paired with a select AMD Radeon HD 6500 Series graphics card.

The AMD A-series family of APUs also features AMD Steady Video, designed to stabilize videos during playback. On select systems using AMD A-series APUs, Internet Explorer 9 will include an AMD Steady Video plugin, unlocking one-click control to simplify access to the premium AMD Steady Video feature for video stabilization.

All AMD A-series processors are powered by AMD VISION Engine Software, a suite of software that provides end-users with regular updates designed to improve system performance and stability, and can add new software enhancements."

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Source: DigiTimes