Subject: General Tech | August 17, 2011 - 06:03 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: security, fud, tracking cookie, super cookie, ETag value
Of course, very soon after the technical documentation of the trick was released to the net KISSmetrics claimed that they were completely innocent and that it was all a misunderstanding. According to the CEO of KISSmetrics the company has never tracked anyone nor shared the information with a third party, so either the company never plans to ever make any money or he is being very specific in his definitions of what "is is". Even better, they claim not to use ETag values at all only first party cookies. As well, they claim support for the Do Not Track header and a "consumer-level opt-out" for their tracking as well. That is disingenuous in that there is no sign of how to start the opt out process on their site, nor is there any clear way that they could identify you in order to let you opt out without a cookie or ETag placed on your machine in the first place.
The Do Not Track header is a good idea, but in addition you should consider browser add ins such as BetterPrivacy, NoScript and Ghostery as essential and perhaps even get used to running Chrome in Incognito mode, if you do not want to be trapped. Don't use them to disable the ads which fund your favourite websites, they should be used to identify and possible block violations to your privacy only. You can follow the link at The Register if you would like to see the technical research that has lead to these questions about KISSmetrics.
"A privacy researcher has revealed the evil genius behind a for-profit web analytics service capable of following users across more than 500 sites, even when all cookie storage was disabled and sites were viewed using a browser's privacy mode."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Observations on the Google-Motorola Purchase @ AnandTech
- GPGPU Bitcoin Mining Trojan @ Slashdot
- Kingston Scavenger Hunt Contest @ Bjorn3D
Subject: General Tech | August 16, 2011 - 04:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ultrabook, Intel
There has been a bit of talk on the PC Perspective front page about Intel's new Ultrabook form factor and if it can profit Intel to release in a market that already has Apple firmly embedded in the minds of consumers as the "thin" guys. First were the complaints from manufacturers that the bill of costs for an ultrabook was in the neighbourhood of $1000, which would put the price of sale above the competitions. Intel then responded with a claim that the 11" and 13" ultrabooks with a thickness of 18mm will be between $493 to $710 to manufacture and the larger 14" to 17: inches, 21mm thick models will run between $475 and $650.
That price disparity seemed a little odd, as there was no explanation from Intel about where the manufacturers got their maths wrong nor an announcement of price drops from Intel to make up the difference. What we did see was a promise by Intel to provide $300 million in funding to those who develop technologies to further the ultrabook form factor, which might help offset some of the costs of manufacturing but certainly not enough to reduce the bill of sales by a third or more.
Now the waters are even further muddied as we hear today from Digitimes that Intel is refusing a request by manufacturers to cut the price of the CPU models which will be found in ultrabooks by half. Instead Intel is willing to drop the price by 20%, along with some marketing subsidies which will help once the product makes it to market but which will not lower the cost of the bill of materials at all. That is not going to help make the ultrabook a good investment for the first-tier manufacturers to develop. Add to that concern the fact that Intel's coming ultraportable Oak Trail platform, with paired Atom Z670 CPUs costs almost four times as much to produce as a Tegra 2 machine, even the discount that Intel refused is not going to make them attractive to sell.
"Intel's Oak Trail platform, paired Atom Z670 CPU (US$75) with SM35 chipsets (US$20) for tablet PC machine, is priced at US$95, already accounting for about 40% of the total cost of a tablet PC, even with a 70-80% discount, the platform is still far less attractive than Nvidia's Tegra 2 at around US$20. Although players such as Asustek Computer and Acer have launched models with the platform for the enterprise market, their machines' high price still significantly limit their sales, the sources noted.
As for Ultrabook CPUs, Intel is only willing to provide marketing subsides and 20% discount to the first-tier players, reducing the Core i7-2677 to US$317, Core i7-2637 to US$289 and Core i5-2557 to US$250.
As for Intel's insistence, the sources believe that Intel is concerned that once it agrees to reduce the price, the company may have difficulties to maintain gross margins in the 60% range and even after passing the crisis, the company may have difficulty in maintaining its pricing. Even with Intel able to maintain a high gross margin through its server platform, expecting Intel to drop CPU prices may be difficult to achieve, the sources added."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Hard Truths About HTML5 @ Slashdot
- Heathkit Getting Back In The Kit Business @ Make:Blog
- Shuttered SETI reboots ET pursuit @ The Register
- Two Years With Linux BFS @ Phoronix
Subject: General Tech | August 16, 2011 - 09:05 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: software, mozilla, firefox, browser
A new bug report on Mozilla's Bugzilla website indicates that the versioning of the popular web browser will be hidden from the users in future builds. Specifically, bug 678775 was posted late last week by Asa Dotzler, and addresses the version number on Firefox's About page. The bug report recommends removing the specific version number in favor of a more general phrase such as "Firefox checked for updates 20 minutes ago, you are running the latest release," according to Asa. Firefox would then, ideally, check for an update whenever the About window was opened, to keep the update message current and the user running the latest build.
The current Firefox About page where version numbers are still listed.
While the specific version number will be removed from the About page, users would still be able to dig into the browser's less well known areas, such as the about:support configuration page, to see it.
On one hand, Firefox's new rapid-release schedule will make versioning a less efficient method of, well, versioning; however, the About page of an application has traditionally been the spot to find the version number, and removing the version number from what is essentially a version number information page seems counter productive. Firefox will likely be on version 7 before the end of the year, and considering version 5 was just released in June, the argument that version numbers are getting out of hand has some merit. With that said, a simplified message to users that they are, in fact, running the latest version is a good thing to implement, but does it necessitate no longer displaying the version number?
Personally, I enjoy knowing the specific version number of the applications I run, but I'm curious what you guys think; should the version number be buried?
Subject: General Tech | August 15, 2011 - 05:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: purchase, motorola, google
The tech world is always going through changes; much like life in a pond, the small things either grow into big things or something big eats them. Motorola was once a big fish, but went through some lean times, losing about $4 billion from 2007 to 2009. They started off more than 50 years ago, designing chips for radios and TVs and even providing communication chips to NASA for many missions including the first moon landing. From there they sold off the TV portion to a little known company called Panasonic, so that they could focus on their communications chips and to start dabbling in what became the 6800 and 68000 series of chips. Those chips powered Amigas, the original Apple MacIntoshes; even the joint IBM and Apple PowerPC chips were Motorola and that architecture is still used today.
As of today that once big fish is now a part of Google, as they purchased it at a premium of 63% above market value. That is certainly a decent deal for stockholders and may well be a great deal for Motorola employees as well as they move to a strictly Android based development regime. That may lead to some interesting times in the future, as Google claims that Android will remain open and run on any architecture. However, now that they own a complete closed development chain, in the form of Motorola's patents and hardware, the open philosophy may run counter to the development of hardware. John McCarthy of Forrester Blogs, as well as many others are following this story; though it will be quite a while before we know the full repercussions of the purchase.
"Earlier this morning, Google announced its intention to buy Motorola Mobility for 12.5 Billion in cash or $40/share. There are three broad justifications for the deal:
- Access to the Motorola patent portfolio which it could then license to partners like HTC and Samsung to protect against the long arm of Apple's lawyers.
- An integrated hardware/software play to compete with Apple. The problem with this logic is that the deal does not address the fragmentation on the Android platform which is the bigger issue.
- The set-top business to bolster its lagging Google TV offering."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel To Offer CPU Upgrades Via Software @ Slashdot
- Sandy Bridge-E to ship without cooler @ VR-Zone
- Does Chrome Burn Through More Power Than Firefox? @ Phoronix
- Flash controller turns noise into data @ SemiAccurate
- Mozilla quietly releases Firefox 6 @ The Inquirer
- Antikeylogger01-USB from Eksitdata @ Rbmods
- OCZ Virtualized Controller Architecture 2.0 @ Benchmark Reviews
- C.O.D. Giveaway: StarTech InfoSAFE External Raid Enclosure: S354UFER
- Win AN OWC Electra SATA 3 240GB SSD @ The SSD Review
Subject: General Tech | August 15, 2011 - 11:25 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: steelseries, Sensei, gaming mouse, cpu, arm
Bit-Tech reports that popular gaming peripheral maker SteelSeries will be unveiling a new mouse at GamesCon next week. The new gaming mouse, dubbed the Sensei is a dark, ambidextrous affair with LED powered logo, wheel, and sensitivity indicator in addition to an LCD screen on the bottom of the mouse to configure features.
The Sensei mouse has a large SteelSeries logo towards the back of the palm rest. The lighting of the logo supports up to 16.8 million colors. The body is comprised of metal with a non-slip grip coating, and features eight buttons. Bruce Hawver, SteelSeries’ CEO stated “The Sensei is really the culmination of thousands of hours of research and testing with competitive players.” In keeping with the competitive gamer theme, SteelSeries has endowed the Sensei with advanced macro capabilities, including the ability to record timed and layered macros with keystrokes.
On the sensor front, the Sensei features a sensitivity range of 1 to 5,700 counts per inch (SteelSeries’ DPI-like system of measurement). Further, thanks to a “Double CPI” feature, the gaming mouse is able to ratchet up the sensitivity to an impressive 11,400 CPI, which makes navigating a six screen Eyefinity setup a breeze. Using SteelSeries ExactTech tracking customization technologies (ExactSens, ExactAccel, and ExactAim), Sensei’s laser sensor features a 10.8 megapixel image correlation at up to 12,000 frames per second (FPS), enabling it to track movements up to 150 inches per second.
All this tracking, macro support, and laser sensor horsepower demands a relatively beefy processor. While these instructions could be passed to the CPU for processing, having a dedicated chip on the mouse to process the sensor data and pass the coordinate data to the system can lower lag (or at least that’s SteelSeries’ goal). That requirement for computing time is where the 32-bit ARM processor comes into play. Specifically, the company states that the processor enables advanced SteelSeries ExactTech calculations to be done on the mouse itself and configuration via the mouse’s LCD screen.
The Sensei is slated for launch in September with a price of $90. The numbers and hardware are certainly impressive; however, whether that hardware will make a noticeable improvement in gaming and daily usage over the competition remains to be seen. More photos and information on the new Sensei gaming mouse can be found here.
What do you think about the Sensei’s inclusion of ARM processor and LCD screen? Personally, while I am rather partial to (blue) LEDs, I can’t see myself using the LCD screen or other gamer-oriented features.
Subject: General Tech | August 13, 2011 - 04:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, Counter-Strike
There exists a videogame software company up in Washington State known as Valve Corporation. There also exists a company from Washington State that produces steamy forum trolls and 4chan memes. The two companies are often times (VST) the same company; today is no different. Valve unleashed a Global Offensive when they announced a new upcoming continuation to their longstanding franchise that is not Half Life 2: Episode 3. The game will be a continuation of their long-standing modern-era franchise and will be titled, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Fans wonder if Valve actually thinks that they already released Episode 3.
(Update Aug 13th 2011 @ 4am: Replaced image to clarify joke 1am: They didn't announce Episode 3 yet... this is just yet another thing they announced before they announce it.)
Global Offensive is set to launch in Early 2012 which should always be taken with a grain of salt when it comes to Valve, Episode 3, but this time-frame looks about legitimate. The game will be available on Xbox Live Arcade, the Playstation Network, and Steam for PC and Mac. Judging by their target distribution model on the consoles it appears as if the release will not in fact be a full-fledged standalone game which makes sense due to Valve’s historical stance on how much content should be provided per dollar; there is even a joke that circulated briefly after the release of the Orange Box that Valve needs to round out the bottom of their second v. Valve promises that the game will contain both new and updated content with de_dust explicitly named as being in Global Offensive. No word on hats.
Subject: General Tech | August 12, 2011 - 09:18 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: killer frogs, friday, folding frogs
Computer maintenance can be a long and tedious process, trying to find rogue processes, old and useless registry entries or cleaning out temp files takes time to do manually or with the tools provided within Windows. That is part of the reason that programs that automate cleaning are so popular, though some are almost ransome-ware so be careful which ones you choose. The same goes when you are trying out new anti-virus programs as well. For extra bonus points you can bring network and hardware maintenance into the mix as well, from replacing elderly protocols to replacing elderly hardware, there are lots of problems to fill your spare time. Even keeping track of your vendors can absorb hours. Check out the Microsoft Forum for more issues ... as well as solutions, of course.
If you'd rather have a bit of fun instead of working, the Gaming Forum's Fragging Frogs are available on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday to help you out with that. The Lightning Round is available for those who prefer their smackdowns to be delivered with words than with bullets. If you are more altruistic, donate your CPU cycles to a BOINC project or to Folding@Home, or even join in the 24 hour a day swap meet that is the Trading Post.
You have probably noticed a lot of content on the front page covering Quakecon and the interview that Ryan did with John Carmack, so you are right in assuming that the PC Perspective Podcast spends a goodly amount of time on the same topic ... and others.
Subject: General Tech | August 12, 2011 - 07:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: audio, monster cable
The Beats by Dr. Dre Studio Headphones are made by everyone's favourite overpriced cable vendor, Monster Cable, helping to explain the $300 price tag ($350 direct from Monster Cable). [H]ard|OCP nevertheless forged ahead with reviewing them, hoping that perhaps this time Monster Cable produced something worth the price of admission. They compared them to similarly priced headsets from Beyer-Dynamic, which outclassed the Beats Headphones in every metric, as did the studio quality Audio-Technica M50 they tried. Their final verdict is not kind.
"Few brands of headphones have achieved popularity and consumer adoption as quickly as Monster's Beats by Dre series. We recently purchased our own pair of the Beats' Studio Edition headphones to tell you if these are merely marketing fluff or the "real deal.""
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- SteelSeries Spectrum 7XB Wireless Headset Review @ Real World Labs
- Jabra Stone2 Bluetooth Headset Review @ Tech-Reviews
- Snowball Professional Microphone Review @ Tech-Reviews
- SteelSeries Spectrum 7xb Wireless Gaming Headset Review @ Legit Reviews
- MANHATTAN 2800 Acoustic Series BT Bookshelf Speaker Review @MissingRemote
- Hercules XPS Diamond 2.0 USB Speakers Review @ t-break
- ASUS Xonar DG Headphone Amp & PCI 5.1 Audio Card Review @Hi Tech Legion
Subject: General Tech | August 12, 2011 - 05:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: facebook, black hat 2011
A presenter at Black Hat 2011 put forward their research on using Facebook as a facial recognition database. Not only do people upload a lot of pictures of themselves and their friends, they also tag them with the names of the people in the pictures. This means that there is a large sample of data to be used, with the same face available from multiple angles, lighting conditions and backgrounds. The findings; nearly perfect recognition and re-identification of people in the database with a photo taken from a smartphone in under 3 seconds. Thank Techware Labs for the chill that just headed down your spine.
"Every month Facebook users upload 2.5 Billion photos. With each upload users may identify and tag not only themselves, but everyone in the photo. What if we could use this massive attendance sheet of the world in a larger way. Say with facial recognition and location information? Today Alessandro Acquisti presented his research and attempts at doing just that."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Inside Turntable.fm: saving music radio from itself @ Ars Technica
- Google allows C and C++ code to run in Chrome web browser @ The Inquirer
- Lost in Limbo @ The Tech Report
- Smartphone images can hijack BlackBerry servers @ The Register
- Asus RT-N56U Black Diamond Router @ X-bit Labs
- One Week left to Win Steelseries 5h v2 MOH and Siberia v2 iPod @ XSReviews
Last week we were in Dallas, Texas covering Quakecon 2011 as well as hosting our very own PC Perspective Hardware Workshop. While we had over 1100 attendees at the event and had a blast judging the case mod contest, one of the highlights of the event is always getting to sit down with John Carmack and pick his brain about topics of interest. We got about 30 minutes of John's time over the weekend and pestered him with questions about the GPU hardware race, how Intel's intergrated graphics (and AMD Fusion) fit in the future of PCs, the continuing debate about ray tracing, rasterization, voxels and infinite detail engines, key technologies for PC gamers like multi-display engines and a lot more!
One of our most read articles of all time was our previous interview with Carmack that focused a lot more on the ray tracing and rasterization debate. If you never read that, much of it is still very relevant today and is worth reading over.
This year though John has come full circle on several things including ray tracing, GPGPU workloads and even the advantages that console hardware has over PC gaming hardware.