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Friday, 19 September 2014 20:29

The MPAA Is Putting Out a Very Bad Message

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There is a subtle art to influencing people’s opinions and the way that a particular topic is viewed. We have seen multiple attempts at this, some good, some bad. For the marketing savvy it seems that nothing they (or their charges) say can ever be negative. For those that are… less competent the message come out all wrong and often changes the intended push into something very negative. The MPAA and others in the anti-piracy community seem to be in the latter group.

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Remember when we told you that BitTorrent was coming out with their very own chat app called Bleep? No well they are and from the information we have so far it is looking like a pretty cool application. The concept is to take basic chat and run it, encrypted, through Torrent swarms. This move, in theory, should prevent the big guys from being able to store or grab your communications in transit.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014 06:47

Where is AMD going again?

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AMD has been something of an unusual company ever since they first decided to dive into the x86 market with their purchase of NexGen. The would-be CPU maker had an interesting knack of building CPUs that performed well, but were always just a pace behind their rivals. That was the case until AMD pulled off a minor miracle in the form of the Athlon and Athlon64 CPUs. AMD seemed to have stolen the crown from Intel and looked likely to keep it for a long time.

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Ever since the take down of Napster the copyright industry has taken a much more aggressive stance on piracy. This stance had taken the form of new laws, increased lobbying and a push to make ISPs responsible for policing everyone’s activities on the internet. They have even sought for, and are still trying to get, trade agreements that allow the US to push their laws onto other countries in the form ACTA and the TPP. Now all of these measures have their seedier side to them, but so far none are exactly illegal (immoral and potentially unethical? That is another question)… At least not until you start looking at some of the trials and arrests that have happened in the last few years.

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We have more news from the Snowden front as Der Spiegel reports one a joint NSA, GCHQ program dubbed treasure map. Although the program was originally revealed by the NY Times in late 2013 it was originally described as a network mapping program with no surveillance application. This claim is no longer holding up as more and more information come out about the two agencies plans to map the entire internet in real time.

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As the title of this article suggests there is another new video on the internet that claims to show the Windows 9 menu and how it all works. The appearance of the video comes on the heels of more than one alleged screen shot and some other items that have leaked from Microsoft themselves. As we all know Microsoft has a lot riding on the next version of Windows simply because of the lack of consumer acceptance that Windows 8.x has had.

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IDF-2014 San Francisco: This week at IDF, Supermicro is showing their latest X10 servers featuring a dual-processor Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 which is based on 22nm process and Haswell microarchitecture.

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It is not often that we can write about a big company like Microsoft and say they are doing “the right thing”. This is even more true in light of the Snowden revelations that showed the close cooperation that Microsoft (and others) had with many data collection programs run by the NSA. Any trust that people had in Microsoft and their drive to protect their customer’s data vanished in an instant. Since those days Microsoft has been working very hard to rebuild consumer trust. They have put SSL and TLS encryption on their email service and have put a few privacy (pronounce that security if you are in government) features in place to help change the public opinion.

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Since the beginning of 2014 the IT world has been rocked by more than a few major breaches. The number of credit cards and user information now up for sale is staggering. So how have these attacks managed to get in and make off with so much data so quickly? Of course there are the usual suspects in these cases, weak passwords and users downloading malware on their systems that allow a potential attacker into their system.

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The concept of the VPN (Virtual Private Network) is one that is intended to allow people to make a secure, encrypted connection from point A to point B. in most cases this connection is from a remote location back to the home or an office. VPN actually covers a few different protocols that include IPSEC (IP Security), PPTP (point to point tunnel protocol), L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol), SSL (Secure Socket Layer) and a few other less common ones. In recent years it has also become a method to get around DNS blocking and also as a form of maintaining private/ anonymous communication.

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Remember all of the data that was collected from the Dotcom raid? You know the stuff, the raid that was ruled legal even if the warrants that were used to justify it were not. Well it seems that there is some movement on the return of the data taken from the Dotcom house as a court of appeals has ruled that clones of the drives taken need to be returned to Kim Dotcom as soon as convenient.

Monday, 08 September 2014 15:57

Destiny says no to early review copies

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It would seem that the new Bungie game, Destiny, is one of the most highly anticipated game that has come along in some time. Already it is being hailed as the most pre-ordered new game in the history of video games. This is quite an accomplishment, but when you consider the build-up as well as the end user interaction that Bungie has taken the time to build we are honestly not surprised at all. We have already seen public “beta” releases for both the PS4 and Xbox One which generated a ton of in-game footage as well as more hype than any PR company could ever hope to achieve.

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On Friday the big news was that NVIDIA had launched two separate suits against Samsung and Qualcomm for patent infringement (International Trade Commission (ITC) and the US District Court in Delaware). In the suits NVIDIA claims that the two companies have willfully infringed on their patented GPU technology and (of course) they would like to start banning devices. So far the list includes the yet to be released Note 4 and Note Edge. The patents in question appear to be Patent Nos. 6198488, 6992667, 7038685, 7015913, 6697063, 7209140 and 6690372.

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If there is one thing I do not like it is the way that some members of the technical press show their bias. This morning, while I was trying to have a nice cup of coffee, I had to stomach several articles that seem to feel that NFC (near field communication) is now the wave of the future simply because it is rumored that Apple will have it in their next devices. This despite the fact that some of these same reporters claimed it was nothing when everyone else did it years ago.

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Oh Microsoft, how little you get the game of marketing. Despite being forewarned about the consequences of pushing the Xbox One as media center instead of a gaming console Microsoft continued this blitz right up until launch day. They were shocked and appalled that gamers were not happy with their decision to limit game trading, require internet, and require the Kinect and many more services that just did not make sense at the time.

Thursday, 04 September 2014 08:39

Apple's iCloud Easy to Crack with Existing Tools

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Two days ago we reported on the iCloud controversy which involved an attack on Apple’s Cloud based Find My iPhone application. This attack (which appears to have been a dictionary attack) resulted in the release of nude images of a number of celebrities posted on the internet for all to see. Apple immediately jumped to the defensive and released a statement saying they were not “hacked” and it is not their fault. Now on the surface this is true as there was not a full breach of their security, but it is about as wrong as you can get.

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The words anonymity, privacy and security go hand in hand… in hand. Although the term anonymity is often seen as a bad thing by law enforcement and policy makers the truth is that it is a critical part of the security chain and is something that needs to be addressed in the way communications happen over the internet. Simply put, how can an attacker get to you if they do not know where you are coming from? Anonymity is a form of security that is in common use by the “red” team so why not put this to use in protecting the green?

Tuesday, 02 September 2014 15:34

Thermaltake Urban T81 Review Featured

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I’ve had the privilege of watching the PC industry change over the years, especially from an aesthetic standpoint.  I’ve seen PC cases go from the beige and boring to the neon and gaudy to the sleek and subtle and back again.  Personally I prefer the sleek and subtle, adding in “large” whenever possible.  I recently got my hands on an excellent example with the Urban T81 full-tower case from Thermaltake.

Tuesday, 02 September 2014 11:36

Imagination Beats A New 64-bit Drum

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This morning Imagination announced their MIPS I-class 64-bit CPU family. These are the first IP cores to combine a 64-bit architecture and hardware virtualization with scalable performance through multi-threading, multi-core and multi-cluster coherent processing.

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Over the weekend a number of articles broke describing a “hack” that allowed nude photos of celebrities to be stolen and then reposted on the internet (4chan). Although the story held minimal interest at the time of its release we did not see it as big news since phone and cloud service hacks are far too common these days, just because it happened to be someone famous did not make it anymore news worthy. If anything it made it less as you should not be storing nude or explicit images of yourself on your phone or in any cloud service these days.

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For the majority of people the term wireless means a simple router or access point (AP) and that is that. However, when you look at wireless on a larger scale you have to have a means to control access points in your organization with a little more efficiency. The thought of going from AP to AP and manually making changes to ensure proper coverage or channel plans is one that would keep most network engineers up at night. However systems that offer a centralized management point for multiple Aps are typically out of the range of small and even medium sized businesses. NETGEAR has stepped in and created a few products to cover this market. We have their WC7600 Wireless controller and a pair of WN370 Access Points in the lab, so let’s check this bundle out and see how it fits in.

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It won’t happen to me is the battle cry of far too many companies these days when it comes to security. We have watches this mind set over the course of the last two years as businesses try to get out of the expense (time and money) needed to update or properly protect their companies and customers from data theft. One of the very recent and troubling ones is the Backoff malware that has hit an estimated 1,000 US businesses. Even Dairy Queen has been hit and consumer payment card data stolen.

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Apple has made a decision about the data that is stored in their borrowed HealthKit API. The decision is to ban developers from sharing any of the data that the service collects to ad agencies. This move will be in effect the day that iOS 8 and will run until Apple changes their mind. This move is actually a very good thing and does cover some concerns about the amount of personal information that mobile devices are starting to amass.

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Right now the going rumor is that Apple will unveil the world’s first true smart watch on September 9th (yes sarcasm). Just exactly what this new product will do has many blogs up all night in a lather of love for Apple. These sites comb through patent filings, rumors and even developer code to see if they can be the first to identify what Apple will really do when they finally get around to joining the rest of the world with a wearable product.

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According to recent rumors it seems that TSMC and Samsung will be able to push out 14nm full node and 16nm half node FinFET products earlier than anticipated. This is certainly going to be good news for many customers of the two foundry companies including Apple and nVidia.

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