#INCLUDE POWER IF-USB DRM !=NULL

Subject: General Tech | January 3, 2019 - 12:46 PM |
Tagged: DRM, usb-c, usb-if

2019 is already shaping up to be an odd year as the USB Implementers Forum has proposed a way to utilize DRM for good!  Instead of focusing on preventing you from displaying media in inventive ways, they seek to use it to prevent dodgy USB-C cables from releasing the magic smoke from your favourite electronic devices.  They propose to include a bespoke 128-bit encryption key in the USB protocol which will only allow power to pass over a cable which can match a valid key, with the option to allow sysadmins to create their own to prevent non-approved USB devices to connect to secure systems.

The Inquirer does bring up one possible fly in the ointment, the proposed standard encompasses USB 3.0, USB 3.1, HDMI, DisplayLink and Thunderbolt; which may lead to some interesting repercussions.

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"But the USB-IF working group, which represents manufacturers of products that offer the standard, aren't giving up, with plans to create an "Authentication Program" to ensure that only reliable products can be used."

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Source: The Register

PC Perspective Podcast #527 - Wooting One Analog Keyboard, RTX 2060 Leaks, and Our PCPer History

Subject: General Tech | January 3, 2019 - 05:50 AM |
Tagged: wooting one, video, vega APU, standing desk, rx vega, RTX 2060, podcast, OC Scanner, floppy drive, eero, dell

PC Perspective Podcast #527 - 1/2/2019

Our podcast this week looks at the analog optical Wooting One keyboard, new entry-level AMD APUs with Vega graphics, the latest RTX 2060 rumors, and a discussion of how we all found ourselves here at PCPer.

Subscribe to the PC Perspective Podcast

Check out previous podcast episodes: http://pcper.com/podcast

Today's Podcast Hosts
Sebastian Peak
Josh Walrath
Jeremy Hellstrom
Jim Tanous

Show Topics
00:03:27 - Intro: Extra Life Update
00:05:31 - Review: Wooting One Analog Optical Keyboard
00:11:31 - News: AMD Athlon Vega APUs
00:14:09 - News: MSI B450/B350 Athlon 200GE Overclocking
00:17:45 - News: Dell Goes Public (Again)
00:22:17 - News: ARM Cortex-A65AE with SMT
00:26:52 - News: NVIDIA OC Scanner for Pascal
00:29:19 - News: NVIDIA RTX 2060 Leaks
00:35:38 - Discussion: Gaming & Poor Parenting
00:40:19 - Discussion: PC Perspective History
00:56:55 - Picks of the Week
01:12:10 - Outro

Picks of the Week
Jim - FlexiSpot SanoDesk Pro
Jeremy - Not the Logitech Harmony Hub
Josh - eero Home WiFi System
Sebastian - Gotek Floppy Drive Emulator

Happy 2019, year of the UEFI infections

Subject: General Tech | January 2, 2019 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: uefi, lojack, security, LoJax

Welcome to a new year and a new vulnerability which has the potential to ruin your day, even if you wipe your computer and start afresh.  Researchers have spotted a rootkit which installs itself in your motherboards UEFI using technology adopted from LoJack, which is properly used to access a stolen computer without the person who currently has it knowing about it. 

LoJax lives on your motherboard's SPI flash memory and the code silently executes on boot so it is hard to figure out if you have been infected at a glance.  If you are then the only way to remove it is to flash a BIOS which overwrites that specific area of flash ... or toss the motherboard out.  You can read a lot more about this over at Slashdot.

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"Researchers hunting cyber-espionage group Sednit (an APT also known as Sofacy, Fancy Bear and APT28) say they have discovered the first-ever instance of a rootkit targeting the Windows Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) in successful attacks."

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Source: Slashdot
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Wooting

The World’s First Fully Analog Keyboard

For years, keyboards have been mostly static. Sure, there’s been innovations here and there but for the most part, we’ve been clacking on the same set of keys for most of our lives. The switches are digital, like the light switches on your wall: they’re either on or off with nothing in between. For many games, this just isn’t ideal. Racing games need feathery touches; third-person action games demand you both creep and run; most, in fact, feel better when you add a little bit of nuance to your control.

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The Wooting One is the world’s first completely analog optical keyboard. With the press of a button, every key can offer the same kind of nuanced control of a controller’s trigger, and thanks to a clever design, it will work any game that offers dual controller and keyboard support. Coming in at $159.99 for a single tenkeyless model and two switch options, this is the kind of innovation that doesn’t come cheap.

Join us as we dig in to see just how much of a game changer analog switches truly are.

A quarter century tour; a Space Marine's job is never done

Subject: General Tech | December 28, 2018 - 03:20 PM |
Tagged: doom, gaming, john carmack, id software, John Romero

Hackaday takes a look back at one of the most iconic and influential games created, the original DOOM.  The 25 year old story encompasses a lot of the history of the industry, from pushing the then current hardware to it's limits effectively, through porting it to game consoles to what is currently still being done with the venerable game.  id Software and its Where’s All the Data? files have been modded and released constantly and currently if you have a device with a display and at least 12 MB of storage, you can likely play DOOM on it.  Take a look back as well as a look at John Romero's current project SIGIL; it should bring a smile to your face.

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"In an era that was already soaking with “tude”, Doom established an identity all its own. The moody lighting, the grotesque monster designs, the signature push forward combat, and all the MIDI guitars a Soundblaster could handle; Doom looked and felt a cut above everything else in 1993."

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Source: Hackaday

Dell Goes Public Again with VMWare Share Buyback

Subject: General Tech | December 28, 2018 - 12:55 PM |
Tagged: vmware, stock, public, NYSE, IPO, Dell Technologies, dell

Without the usual fanfare of an IPO, Dell Technologies is a public company once again.

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As reported by Reuters:

"Dell Technologies Inc shares opened at $46 on Friday, giving the computer maker a valuation of $16 billion in its return to public market, after it bought back shares tied to its interest in software maker VMware.

Its Class C shares were last trading at $46.25, while VMware’s shares rose nearly 2 percent to $157.2. The tracking stock was tied to an 81 percent economic stake in VMware and buying it back allowed Dell to bypass the traditional IPO process..."

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Current Dell stock price at time of writing

This move comes nearly six years after founder Micheal Dell took the company private in a $24 billion USD buyout with funding from Silver Lake and Microsoft, and also at a time when Dell's consumer PC division is on the rise:

"The company reported a 15 percent rise in revenue in its latest quarter, with revenue from products such as desktop PCs, notebooks and tablets, and branded peripherals, rising 11 percent."

Source: Reuters

Is Topre Realforce the Realthing?

Subject: General Tech | December 26, 2018 - 10:42 PM |
Tagged: input, topre, REALFORCE, realforce r2, TKL

Fans of rare imported mechanical keyboards crafted by Topre have a friend in Fujitsu whom now import them to North America.  The secret sauce which attracts people to these keyboards are the electrostatic key switches Topre uses which are very different from Cherry style mechanical switches or the discount dome rubber style.  That does mean that you won't be able to swap keycaps without ordering them directly from Topre.  Drop by The Tech Report to see if Topre deserves the glamour which surrounds their name.

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"Topre's Realforce keyboards are legendary for their quality and durability, and now Fujitsu Computer Products of America is officially distributing these boards on American shores. We got a tenkeyless Realforce R2 board under our fingers to see whether it lives up to the Topre mythos."

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone .. need something to distract you?

Subject: General Tech | December 25, 2018 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: gaming

There are many positive reasons to game on Christmas, perhaps killing time before the next time you baste the turkey and yourself, to show off the newly unwrapped hardware you got or perhaps a family deathmatch tourney to determine who gets stuck washing the dishes.  Steam have fired up their Winter Sale, with their own special advent calendar you can check out even if you don't pick anything up.

Over at Humble Bundle, the annual Yogscast Jingle Jam is offering a long list of games, covering a wide variety of styles.  If you are looking for a classic, GoG's sale is worth a moment of your time.

If you are more the bah humbug type, you should hang out with EA.  There have been rumours stemming from a since deleted post which suggests they were only kidding about learning their lessons from Star Wars Battlefront II as microtransactions may be about to arrive in Battlefield V.  After all, who doesn't want to pay $50 of real money for 6000 BCoins?  On the other hand they may be worth more than the other B type Coins in the near future.

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Logitech's intelligent solution to their smart home restores Harmony

Subject: General Tech | December 24, 2018 - 12:35 PM |
Tagged: harmony link, logitech, harmony hub

Logitech have come up with a compromise for Tiny Tim again this year, rolling back their Scrooge like decision to drop all support for third party hardware on their Harmony Hub.  If you wish to continue to use XMPP APIs to link in additional hardware you can opt into a beta program which will enable support again, according to The Register.  This seems a wise way to increase the security of the Harmony Hub by requiring an extra step to allow you to add in extra devices; those who do not enable the beta can be sure that only vetted IoT devices can connect to their network while the technically inclined can continue to play with their smart home.

Let's hope next year we are not revisiting this once again.

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"That solution is "an XMPP beta program, which will allow access to local controls." In effect, the company has written in a hasty workaround that the tech-savvy can tap to get their systems working."

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Source: The Register

Logitech offers peace and love; hold the Harmony, though

Subject: General Tech | December 20, 2018 - 02:41 PM |
Tagged: harmony link, logitech, scrooge, harmony hub

It would seem it is time once again for Logitech's Christmas tradition of bricking users Harmony devices, or at least devices connected to it.  Last November they got into the spirit by announcing that they had no intention of renewing an SSL/TLS cert which was required for their Harmony Link device to connect to and control other smart home devices.   Instead they offered current users 35% off the purchase of the newly released Harmony Hub ... which did not go over well.  It quickly escalated to the point where Logitech was censoring the words "class action lawsuit" in its support forums; to prevent spam, of course.

Logitech seemed to have learned their lesson as a few short hours after the story broke, they offered a free Harmony Hub to anyone who owned a Link.  Those who took Logitech up on this offer have found themselves fooled once again.  A new firmware update has shut out any and all access to third party hardware, previously accessed by XMPP-based APIs, now no longer possible with the new update.  Anyone who incorporated devices into their Harmony Hub controlled system will now find those devices unable to connect; one hopes your Christmas displays did not depend on that.  The Register has a few choice comments to add here.

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"Logitech recently released a firmware update for Harmony hub-based remotes that addressed some security vulnerabilities brought to our attention by a third-party cyber security firm,"

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Source: The Register