The toasters are revolting!

Subject: General Tech | September 26, 2016 - 05:01 PM |
Tagged: iot, security, upnp

Over the weekend you might have noticed some issues on your favourite interwebs as there was a rather impressively sized DDOS attack going on.  The attack was a mix of old and new techniques; they leveraged the uPNP protocol which has always been a favourite vector but the equipment hijacked were IoT appliances.  The processing power available in toasters, DVRs and even webcams is now sufficient to be utilized and is generally a damned sight easier to control than even an old unpatched XP machine.  This does not spell the end of the world which will likely be predicted on the cable news networks but does further illustrate the danger in companies producing inherently insecure IoT devices.  If you are not sure what uPNP is, or are aware but do not currently need it, consider disabling it on your router or think about setting up something along the lines of ye olde three router solution

Hack a Day has links to a bit more information on what happened here.


"Brace yourselves. The rest of the media is going to be calling this an “IoT DDOS” and the hype will spin out of control. Hype aside, the facts on the ground make it look like an extremely large distributed denial-of-service attack (DDOS) was just carried out using mostly household appliances (145,607 of them!) rather than grandma’s old Win XP system running on Pentiums."

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Source: Hack a Day

Can't WiFi and LTE-U just get along?

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2016 - 05:21 PM |
Tagged: wifi, lte-u, qualcomm

LTE-U, aka LTE in unlicensed spectrum, is a new standard originally proposed by Qualcomm which allows LTE signals to stray into the 5GHz band to allow faster data transfer over short throws without having to join your phone to a WiFi network.  It seems that the assumption is that users are to lazy or ignorant to have added their commonly used WiFi networks to their phones and so need this feature for convenience. 

There is the small problem of signal interference however, dual band WiFi uses the 5GHz spectrum and we are already seeing congestion on that band.  T-Mobile and Verizon claim that this extra traffic will not have any effect on WiFi signals and are already complaining about the thresholds they must honour, while Qualcomm seems to be trying to remain reasonable.  Tests are currently under way, under the monitoring of the WiFi Alliance, who have posted a technical paper describing what will be tested and how.  You can pop by The Register if you want to delve into the nuts and bolts of the current proposal.


"Carriers, already under a spectrum squeeze, are hoping they can pitch their tents on Wi-Fi's campground, promising that LTE-U won't disrupt Wi-Fi. will play nice if there are Wi-Fi users around."

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Source: The Register

Lenovo's Signature Edition; hold the Superfish, heavy on the RAID

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2016 - 04:39 PM |
Tagged: Intel, Lenovo, linux, signature edition, microsoft

Yesterday we saw the first stories appear about how the malware free Lenovo Signature Editions of mobile devices such as the Yoga 900S and Yoga 710S blocked the installation of Linux and effigies of Microsoft and Lenovo were set afire.  As is common on the interwebs, the true villain was not implicated until the excitable crowd ran off with their pitchforks and torches and let the rest of us research the issue and track it back to Intel.

The issue is that the Intel soft RAID present on these machines is not really compatible with Linux, quite a common issue unfortunately.  Lenovo is not innocent in this however as thee have greatly exacerbated the issue by making it difficult to change your SATA from RAID to AHCI in the BIOS in Windows and impossible in a live boot of Linux.  In order to change your SATA settings Lenovo has decided to let you relive the days of Windows XP, when you had to bash on F6 during the initial installation of Windows to let it know you had a special disk with drivers on it to enable AHCI or RAID mode.  Even better, apparently you have to get in touch with Lenovo to get these drivers and they only work in Windows, of course.

So thanks to the lousy Linux support offered by Intel's soft RAID implementation you cannot install Linux on Signature Editions of some Yoga machines and if you have a need to set your SATA to AHCI, say because of Endpoint Encryption, you need to go through a process that went out with that OS Microsoft wants people to stop using.  If you want to track back the reddit thread and the research that was done to determine the culprit, The Register has compiled a good reference.


"A Reddit thread this morning accuses Microsoft and Lenovo of conspiring to prevent the installation of non-Windows operating systems on the Chinese goliath's PCs at the firmware level. Linux fans vented on the message board about the difficulties of installing open-source distributions on certain Lenovo machines."

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Source: The Register

Podcast #418 - Air cooler roundup, Samsung 960 EVO and Pro announced and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2016 - 03:25 PM |
Tagged: video, Samsung, rivet, podcast, nvidia, msi, killer network, fatal1ty, evga, cooler, amd, 960 PRO, 960 EVO

PC Perspective Podcast #418 - 09/22/16

Join us this week as we discuss an air cooler roundup, Samsung 960 EVO and Pro announcement 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: - Share with your friends!

Hosts:  Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Sebastian Peak and Ken Addison

Fall in! Battlefield 1 specs released

Subject: General Tech | September 21, 2016 - 05:45 PM |
Tagged: gaming, battlefield 1, frostbite

If you want to join in the fight in Battlefield 1 we now have the minimum specs needed to run the newest version of the Frostbite Engine.  AMD users are looking at a minimum of a FX-6350 and HD 7850, Intel powered systems an i5-6600K and NVIDIA fans will want at least a GTX660.  You will need 50GB of drive space free and the game would like at least 8GB of RAM available for it.  To really get the best out of the game, you need to up that to an RX 480 or GTX 1060 and either a FX 8350 or i7-4790, with 16GB of RAM free.  It will be interesting to see how much VRAM this game will take advantage of.  Props to Guru 3D for getting this up first.

32bit systems need not apply.


"The Battlefield website now offers the official system requirements for Battlefield 1. These come along with a couple of videos highlighting the HUD-less interface in the upcoming World War I shooter. "

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Source: Guru of 3D

To read this story just post your first pet's name and the first address you remember living at in the comments

Subject: General Tech | September 21, 2016 - 05:11 PM |
Tagged: security, idiots

David Hannum underestimated humanity greatly when he claimed a sucker was born every minute, we are now up to one every 15 seconds and accelerating.  Online scammers continue doing what they are doing because it works, even those who should know better regularly share personal details online which make scammers lives much easier.  It is not just those suspicious phone calls, texts or websites; many people's social media feeds are a cornucopia of personal information which allow scammers to profit off of your money.  The problem is only getting worse, in the UK The Register reports that losses in 2015 were £755m, 26% more than 2014.  A quick search reveals that the trend applies to the US as well

You've heard it before and will hear it again, take a second to ask yourself if you really should be sharing what you are about to post before you send it.


"Between January and June 2016 there were 1,007,094 fraud cases in the UK compared to 660,308 in the first six months of 2015. Each case represents a card or account attacked, not an individual person."

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Source: The Register
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Monster

Introduction and First Impressions

The Fatal1ty by Monster FXM100 gaming headset is designed to be very lightweight for a comfortable fit, while delivering powerful sound. It uses what the company calls “fHex720 Sound Chamber Technology”, which is said to provide clear, natural sound without distortion. In this review we’ll take a look at the design, and then explore fit, comfort, and (most of all) audio performance.


We received the version of the headset currently being sold at retail, and while it's marketed for console gaming and mobile use (with a single 3.5 mm connector), an adapter for PC use is available. To evaluate PC sound I simply plugged the headset into my computer’s headphone jack, but if you need to split the headphone and microphone output (the headset’s 3.5 mm connector is a 3-conductor plug that handles both) you’ll need an adapter. We were told that the version of the headset that will be available for purchase online will include this adapter.

Monster lists these features for the FXM 100 headset:

  • Designed for Long Wear and Comfortable Fit
  • Built Strong and Durable to Take Anywhere
  • Exclusive fHex720 Sound Chamber Technology
  • Game-tuned Pure Monster Sound
  • Detachable Noise Cancelling Microphone
  • Exclusive Sound Chamber Technology​
  • Game-tuned Pure Monster Sound​
  • Custom Built Drivers for Maximum Detail​
  • Detachable Noise Canceling Microphone​
  • In-line Audio Controls ​
  • Tangle-free Cable​
  • Comfortable Over-Ear design

(Curiously, there are no specifics - driver size, sensitivity, frequency response, etc. - listed for these.)

One of the biggest features of this headset is its weight, and at just 6 oz it's a very light pair of gaming headphones. Just how powerful can the sound be when the total weight is so low? Let's find out!


Continue reading our review of the Fatal1ty by Monster FXM 100 Gaming Headphones!!

Mozilla Launches Firefox 49

Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2016 - 08:51 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, firefox

While it was originally scheduled for last week, some last-minute issues preventing the software non-profit organization from releasing it until today. Also, for some reason, Firefox for Android doesn't want to update from within itself, but triggering an update from the Google Play store works. This might be temporary and/or happens with every Firefox for Android update; I'm new to this platform.


This version is expected to expand their multi-process support, which separates UI updates from site updates. Typically, Firefox disables the feature with add-ons, because they are given the tools to make decoupling these two spaces... glitchy. Under typical situations, JavaScript and other tasks that run in the page shouldn't affect the browser's interface. You can see how this could be a problem if, for instance, an add-on loops between tasks on both at the same time. As such, Mozilla is pulling access to a few APIs when multi-process is enabled.

With Firefox 49, VentureBeat is reporting that Mozilla is allowing a “small initial set of compatible add-ons” to be enabled alongside multi-process. If you don't have any non-compatible add-ons installed, then you should see Multiprocess Windows enabled in about:support. Otherwise, it will be disabled and you won't see any difference.

Interestingly, Mozilla is promoting "Refresh Firefox" at their site if you have the latest version. This basically cleans all the add-ons out of your user profile, but maintains browsing history, bookmarks, and the like. It might have been around for a while, but, if it's new, it times nicely with the multi-process rollout. On top of cleaning out old, crufty add-ons, a user should see a bigger jump when Mozilla's enhancements are (I'm guessing) enabled.

Mozilla has also changed a few things here and there, too. While many of our readers will probably have hardware acceleration for video, they have just added in SSSE3 enhancements if GPU support isn't available. I'm not sure all of the use cases for this, but I'd expect it would help in virtualized environments and certain, older PCs (ex: Intel Atom and Via Nano). I'm just speculating, though.

Source: Mozilla

ARM's new security focused Cortex R-52 for IoT

Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2016 - 05:20 PM |
Tagged: arm, iot, cortex r52, r-52, cortex, security

ARM's new Cortex R-52 replaces the aging R-5 and they report that it will run 14 times faster than the model it replaces.  It is also the first ARMv8-R based product they have released, it supports hypervisor instructions as well as additional unspecified safety features.  They are aiming for medical applications as well as vehicles, markets which are currently plagued by insecure software and hardware.  In many cases the insecurity stems from companies using the default software settings in their products, often due to ignorance as opposed to malice and ARM intends their default settings to be far more secure than current SOCs.  Unfortunately this will not help with those who use default passwords and ports but it is a step in the right direction.  Pop over to The Inquirer for more information.

CortexR Launch Deck-17_575px.png

"The Cortex R-52 has been five years in development and is engineered to meet new safety standards as ARM takes aim at the growing market of large-scale smart devices, such as surgical robots and self-driving cars."

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Source: The Inquirer

Netflix's Meridian, an open source benchmark disguised as a original program

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2016 - 04:45 PM |
Tagged: netfix, meridian, 4k60

The 12 minute long Netflix Original "Meridian" might not be the most exciting program they've ever released but it is among one of the most interesting.  The program is available to anyone, via the Creative Commons license they attached to it, up to an including competitors such as iTunes and Hulu.  This seemly strange move is because it is actually a benchmark for encoding streamed video and the more people that see it the more information Netflix and others will gain.  It is originally filmed in 4k resolution at 60fps, which is far more than most displays can handle and much larger than residential data infrastructure is used to handling. 

The interesting part will start when new algorithms begin to appear to allow what is likely to be the next high definition standard to stream over the internet without immediately hitting data caps or losing so much resolution as to make it unwatchable.  You can pop over to Slashdot for links to more information about this release.


"But for Netflix, it's just par of the course. Thanks to its Silicon Valley DNA, Netflix has long collaborated with other companies on cloud computing-focused open source projects. Now, it wants to nudge Hollywood to do the same -- and "Meridian" is only the beginning. This week, Netflix is also open-sourcing a set of tools tackling a common problem for studios and video services."

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Source: Slashdot