BIOSTAR RACING H170GT3 (LGA1151) Motherboard Review

Introduction


BIOSTAR might not be the most recognizable motherboard brand in western markets but their pedigree for creating reliable products is worthy of praise. When compared to MSI, Gigabyte and ASUS, the company struggles to entice consumers with unique aesthetic designs. Furthermore, the BIOS and software package has been sorely lacking and in dire need of change. Thankfully, BIOSTAR have acknowledged these criticisms and decided to forge a brand new range based upon a racing theme to please petrolheads with an avid interest in enthusiast hardware. Each RACING motherboard sports a chequered flag PCB and stylish LED illumination while introducing a new BIOS layout. Clearly, this is a major departure from BIOSTAR’s previous products which evoked a fairly mundane appearance.

The BIOSTAR RACING H170GT3 is based on the mATX form factor and supports up to 64GB DDR4 with a maximum speed of 2133MHz. Intel’s H170 chipset blocks multiplier overclocking which means you have to resort to your processor’s default turbo frequency. Of course, there’s been some controversy surrounding BCLK overclocking on H170 and B150 motherboards to unofficially achieve boosts fairly close to traditional multiplier overclocking. Sadly, Intel has voiced their displeasure regarding this phenomenon and pressurized manufacturers to disable BCLK overclocking via a BIOS update. As a result, we have to rely on stock figures to determine the motherboard’s performance. Previously, I’ve seen some astounding results when it comes to storage with BIOSTAR products, and I’m interested to see if this trend continues.

Specifications

Packing and Accessories

Here we can see the absolutely stunning packaging which contains a carbon fibre inspired cover and vibrant text. This coincides with the RACING focus and feels quite reminiscent of a luxury sports car’s interior.

On the opposite side, there’s a detailed diagram showing the motherboard’s layout and explanation of its unique selling features. Once again, this is presented a superb manner and makes you inquisitive about the product’s specification.

In terms of accessories, the motherboard includes a user’s manual, Vivid LED DJ instructions guide, SATA cables, driver disk, and I/O shield.

Wireless Passwords Could Be a Thing of the Past Thanks to MIT Research

 

A new wireless technology in development by MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab could allow us to finally say goodbye to the Wi-Fi password.

The technology, currently named Chronos, is capable of allowing a single wireless access point to detect the location of networked users to tens of centimetres in accuracy. This immediately has a number of possible applications, one of which could allow wi-fi networks to be limited in access to only those within the building, as well as smart home applications such as tracking people’s movement and adjusting temperature and lighting as they move.

Chronos works by computing the “time of flight” of a wireless signal with an average error of just 0.47 nanoseconds according to MIT, which when multiplied by the speed of light allows Chronos to accurately detect not only the angle from the access point a user is at, but also their distance from it. Comparatively, existing wi-fi devices lack the bandwidth to accurately measure the time of flight of a signal, so in order to detect the locations of users, multiple access points were required for triangulation.

It was discovered after MIT Ph.D. student Deepak Vasisht observed that the signals travel through the air at a different frequency than within a Wi-Fi device that is being detected. He and his team were then able to exploit this difference in signals, testing their new algorithm in a two-bedroom apartment containing four people, where Chronos could accurately detect the room a user was in 94% of the time. When tested in a cafe, the detection rate of in-store customers compared to out-of-store hijackers was 97% accurate, which could allow wireless passwords to be rendered redundant in such cases, as only those in the store can connect to the network.

Whether this will truly be the end of the wireless password is unlikely, as there will always be a call for a higher level of security on many networks. For lightly restricted public networks, though, this technology could be a godsend, without requiring businesses set up a complex multi-access-point solution. A paper summarizing the study of the technology was presented last month by Vasisht at the USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation.

MSI Z170A GAMING M5 (LGA1151) Motherboard Review

Introduction

Since the release of Intel’s Z170 chipset, MSI has unveiled a fantastic, feature-rich motherboard range which caters to contrasting user demands. For example, the Z170A GAMING PRO CARBON is an excellent choice for consumers wanting a stylish black colour scheme and great reliability at an affordable price point. In contrast to this, the MSI Z170A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM Edition‘s gorgeous aesthetic design makes it one of the most innovative LGA1151 motherboards on the market. Of course, the iconic dragon styling on many MSI products have become a popular choice among the core gaming demographic. This red and black theme compliments mainstream hardware and retails at very competitive prices across various performance tiers.

The MSI Z170A GAMING M5 is a mid-range motherboard sporting an attractive design and impressive specification. More specifically, the product is capable of housing two PCI-E M.2 storage devices and has support for USB 3.1 Gen2 connectivity. Not only that, the motherboard includes a one year premium XSplit license and Nahimic audio enhancements. As you might expect, many of MSI’s leading technologies are incorporated such as DDR4 Boost, Game Boost and much more. Given this particular model’s astonishing software suite and military class components, I expect to see it rival higher priced offerings rather well. Could this be the best value Z170 motherboard thus far for high-end users? Let’s find out!

Specifications

Packing and Accessories

MSI always does a phenomenal job when it comes to packaging design and the Z170 GAMING M5 is no different. The bold colours and stunning product snapshot contrasts extremely well. This is one of the most eye-catching motherboard boxes I’ve seen and showcases the motherboard’s beautiful appearance.

On the opposite side, there’s a brief synopsis of the motherboard’s key selling points such as support for 3-way crossfire, 2-way SLI and Audio Boost 3.0. This is presented in a slick manner and doesn’t alienate the end-user with technical jargon.

In terms of accessories, the motherboard comes with a user’s guide, driver’s disk, metal case badge, I/O shield, SLI bridge, registration details, basic installation guide and four SATA cables. Please note, the press sample I received was previously used by another media so there’s only 3 SATA cables displayed in the photograph. Rest assured, the retail version will include four and be packaged without the need for an elastic band.

FBI Doesn’t Want To Tell How It Tracked People Across The Tor Network

The FBI are known for their digital prowess, although they may require some help when it comes to breaking into an iPhone. One of their most recent successes was the tracking of people using the Tor network, but after a judge ruled that the defendants representatives needed to know how he was identified the FBI has declined to say how they tracked people across the Tor network.

The ruling was provided by the Judge overlooking the case and was provided so that the defendants experts could check that the method used to identify the client was both within the FBI’s authority and also properly identified the client amongst the thousands of users of the Tor network.

The Tor network is a system (also known as the Onion Router) which people can use to hide their true identity by encrypting their traffic and bouncing it around the world in a series of steps. The network is also known for hiding a selection of “secret” websites that can only be accessed from within the network.

The FBI claim that they have already provided enough details for the defence to figure out if they went beyond their authority. FBI Agent Daniel Alfin, states in the court papers filed by the DOJ in the case, as saying “knowing how someone unlocked the front door provides no information about what that person did after entering the house”. While a valid argument, one would also argue that if someone breaks into your house, stealing something from your house and gaining access were both things you need to be made aware, not just one of the two.

Racist Sends Print Jobs to Every Publicly Exposed Printer in the US

Many organizations in the US that rely on networked printers got a rude awakening last week when white supremacist troll and hacker Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer sent out an enormous batch print job to every unsecured network printer in North America. Among those who found their printer trays full of racist fliers covered in swastikas and other white supremacist propaganda were a number of universities and other educational establishments.

The motive behind this attack was simple, Auernheimer admitted to The Security Ledger that his actions served as a demonstration to other white supremacists the insecurity of Internet of Things devices and how easy it is for someone to carry out such an attack. He made use of the Masscan TCP port scanning tool in order to discover the printers, which all exposed port 9100 and then sent a batch print job to all of them with just five lines of code. Auernheimer admitted that he had not deliberately targeted universities, instead simply sending the print job indiscriminately to the huge amount of unsecured printers connected to the internet in the US.

This isn’t the first time Auernheimer has been responsible for a cyber attack, playing a role in the 2010 hack of AT&T which saw the email addresses of 114,000 owners of Apple iPads exposed. He was convicted of felony charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in 2012 and spent a year in prison before the verdict was overturned. It is unlikely that he will be prosecuted for this attack as he did nothing to gain access to the printers that would be classed as unauthorized access and simply exploited their already open states to send a print job.

Maybe this attack will be an eye-opener for those IT departments that turn a blind eye to security for the sake of ease of use and convenience. In this case, it was simply offensive printouts, but a more criminally-minded individual could easily see these unsecured devices as a way to gain unauthorized access to a network or steal data sent to the printers.

Gigabyte P35W v5 Gaming Laptop Review

Introduction


Consumers typically purchase gaming laptops over their desktop counterparts due to portability and requiring hefty processing power on the move. Saying that, it’s exceedingly difficult to offer adequate thermal dissipation in a slim form factor which limits the convenience factor of many flagship gaming laptops. These tend to be rather bulky and difficult to carry around on public transportation where space is quite restricted. Thankfully, efficiency improvements on mobile graphics chipsets and CPUs have enabled manufacturers to create a better balance between performance and size. Granted, the top-tier options with dual GPUs still feel heavy but less extreme alternatives can be surprising portable. For example, the Gigabyte P34W v3 provides a superb gaming experience and weighs a mere 1.81Kg. Back when I reviewed this, the performance to size ratio astounded me. Although, the system’s load temperatures were higher than I hoped and felt like a concession too far.

The latest gaming laptop to prioritize a thin design from Gigabyte is the P35W v5 sporting an Intel i7-6700HQ, ultra fast 128GB NVMe boot drive, and GTX 970M. Unlike the P34W v3, Gigabyte has opted for a 6GB variant of this graphics chip but I can’t see the increased video memory making a substantial difference. On the other hand, some games with high memory utilization might fare better with an improved minimum frame-rate. Another key benefit is the inclusion of DDR4 memory, and a greatly improved battery. As always, you can customize the specification to suit your needs and the standard package utilizes a 1920×1080 display. If this seems a little underwhelming, you can select a 4K panel for an additional fee but this has some drawbacks when it comes to performance. Given the P35W v5’s marvellously thin design, I’m interested to see the thermals under stress and determine if the cooling hardware is up to scratch.

Specifications

  • Name: Gigabyte P35W v5
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-6700HQ (2.6GHz base frequency, 3.5GHz turbo)
  • System Memory: 16GB Dual Channel DDR4 2133MHz
  • Main Boot Drive: Samsung NVMe MZVPV128 M.2 128GB SSD
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): HGST 1TB 7200RPM HDD
  • Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M 6GB
  • Peripherals: N/A
  • Display: 15.6-inch 3840×2160 IPS LCD
  • Optical Drive: MATSHITA DVD-RAM UJ8G2
  • Wireless: Intel Dual Band Wireless AC 8260
  • Battery: Li-Polymer 11.1V, 75.81Wh
  • Weight: 2.3Kg with Battery
  • Dimensions: 385(W) x 270(D) x 20.9(H) mm
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • Warranty: 2 Year
  • Price: £1399

Packing and Accessories

Gigabyte has adopted a fairly understated theme to the packaging which showcases the beautiful display and professional aesthetic design. Furthermore, there’s a brief description about the laptop’s unique selling features but I have to say the translation is confusing and doesn’t make a lot of sense. Perhaps, this is because the press sample originates from the factory and I’m sure Gigabyte will update the message for western markets.

The opposite side is almost identical barring another stunning snapshot of the product’s thin profile. This level of uniformity works well and evokes a premium feel. The packaging’s durable cardboard shell and soft inserts protect the item during transit meaning you shouldn’t encounter any cosmetic imperfections.

Included with the laptop is a power adapter, user’s guide, warranty card, driver disk, PowerDVD 12 software, swappable storage bay and light stickers. The swappable storage bay is an ingenious extra which allows you to remove the optical drive and fit an internal 9.5mm SSD instead. This is a great idea because many people use flash storage devices instead of optical media and the ability to easily house a traditional SATA SSD greatly enhances the laptop’s flexibility.

The 4K model contains a removable orange sticker near the lid which can be replaced with either a green or turquoise colour. Gigabyte even provides a complimentary pair of tweezers to obtain a neat finish and customize the theme to your own personal taste. Small touches like this creates the perception every customer’s needs have been attended to.

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Overclockers UK Titan Dark Zone Gaming PC Review

Introduction


Overclockers UK is one of the leading stockists of PC hardware and their engineering team produces an impressive range of custom rigs to suit contrasting tastes. Whether you’re looking for a silent air-cooled build, or extreme overclocked PC with premium water cooling parts, there’s something designed for your specific requirements. Often, whenever a new game is released which sells remarkably well, consumers like to pay homage with a system based around its theme. This can be a challenge especially if the game in question doesn’t have a distinctive colour scheme. The Division is an open world third-person shooter set in a bleak vision of New York City ravaged by a smallpox pandemic. This intriguing setting and captivating multiplayer confrontations have proved to be incredibly popular! As a result, The Division became Ubisoft’s fastest selling game on record and attracted a very passionate community.

This success story has given Overclockers UK inspiration for their latest gaming PC entitled the Titan Dark Zone. The system opts for orange braided PSU extension cables and vibrant LED lighting which creates a stunning aesthetic design. Combining the orange tones with black jet black components is quite unusual and a reference to The Division’s box art. Therefore, the Titan Dark Zone is a dream come true for fans of this particular title and features a very potent specification capable of powering VR devices without any concessions. The Intel i7-6700K is professionally overclocked to 4.5GHz using the Alpenfohn Broken 2 cooler. As a result, I expect to see an impeccable performance to noise ratio which surpasses many closed-loop-coolers. On another note, the 16GB 2400MHz DDR4 memory, factory overclocked GTX 980Ti and Samsung 250GB boot drive should be able to provide a sensational gaming experience even on high-resolution monitors. Rather surprising, Overclockers UK have decided to use a non-modular power supply which complicates cables management. On the other hand, the PSU has received a great deal of critical acclaim and showcases the careful decision-making process when designing a system’s specification.

Specifications

  • Name: Overclockers UK Titan Dark Zone
  • Case: Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX
  • Motherboard: MSI Z170A-SLI Plus
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-6700K Overclocked to 4.5GHz
  • Processor Cooler: Alpenfohn Broken 2
  • System Memory: Team Group Elite 16GB (8x2GB) 2400MHz CL16 RAM
  • Main Boot Drive: Samsung 250GB 850 Evo SSD
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): Seagate 2TB 7200RPM HDD
  • Graphics card: MSI GeForce GTX 980ti Armor X2 6GB
  • Power Supply: XFX TS 750W 80 Plus Gold
  • Peripherals: N/A
  • Monitor: N/A
  • Optical Drive: N/A 
  • Wireless: N/A
  • OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
  • Warranty: Three Year (24 Month Collect and Return plus 12 Month labour) Mainland UK and Ireland Only
  • Price: £1549.99

Packing and Accessories

The system arrived in an extremely large box which cannot fit on my photography backdrop. This is the reason why I’ve taken a snapshot in the hallway to emphasize the package’s mammoth size. Overclockers UK always adopt such an attentive approach to packaging and employ durable materials which enhances the level of protection substantially. It’s evidently clear that the company has considered the strain delicate PCs go under during transit and taken every necessary step to dramatically reduce the probability of damage occurring.

Once the top cover has been removed, we can see an ample supply of durable cardboard inserts which holds the system firmly in position.

The Titan Dark Zone is placed in the original chassis box and secured with strong tape. Honestly, I’d be extremely surprised if you received the system with even cosmetic imperfections considering multiple layers were used for protective purposes.

There’s additional support inside the chassis box via two strong polystyrene blocks.

The system’s internal components are surrounded by three Instapak foam pieces. These are essential additions which protect the CPU mounting and prevent the graphics card from applying too much pressure on the PCI-E slot during delivery.

In terms of accessories, OCUK included a Welcome Pack and Windows 10 Home OEM DVD containing the product code. The Welcome Pack outlines the system’s specification, and warranty terms in an easy to understand manner. Personally, I love the overall presentation and solder joints design on the front cover.

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The Pope Argues Social Media Has Caused Loneliness

Social media is an integral component of modern society and theoretically helps people to stay in contact with friends, family members and business acquaintances. However, our over-reliance on impersonal communication is arguably causing humans to experience loneliness according to a speech by Pope Francis:

“Today’s culture seems to encourage people to not bond with anything or anyone,”  

“The most important thing today seems to be to follow the latest trend of activity, even at a religious level. Today consumerism determines what is important.”

“I would dare say that at the root of so many contemporary situations is a kind of radical loneliness that so many people live in today. Running after the latest fad, a like, accumulating followers on any of the social networks.”

This isn’t a new phenomenon as social media has been blamed for negatively impacting on people’s ability to converse with others. Furthermore, the ‘selfie’ culture and need to let others know of daily activities could indicate a rise in narcissistic behavior. On the other hand, this might just be a part of evolution as humans become more liberal and forthright with their routine.

It’s certainly an interesting discussion topic and I personally believe those addicted to social media who check-in online before brushing their teeth are extremely lonely and in denial. Social media is a wonderful invention providing we use it responsibility and not at the expense of human interaction.

Do you think social media is a cause of society’s problems?

Thank you Wired for providing us with this information.

BT Promises ‘Ultrafast’ Broadband Speeds in Excess of 300Mbps by 2020

BT’s Chief Executive Gavin Patterson, has promised broadband speeds between 300 and 500Mbps by 2020. Currently, BT is one of the major UK internet service providers and aims to provide super-fast broadband to over 10 million homes. The company also said they will offer a 1Gbps service to the cope with severe network demands from heavy users. This could include 4K streaming, downloading huge games or backing up data on a home server.

2020 seems like an ambitious figures for rural areas which struggle to even access relatively low speeds of 5Mbps. BT is hoping the combination of their G fast technology and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) connectivity can help revolutionize the service’s internet speeds. Patterson argued speed increases are integral to BT’s market strategy:

“BT would ‘never say no’ to providing faster broadband to communities, promising the company would instead explore innovative funding and technical solutions.” 

Even if BT manages this feat, I’m not entirely convinced it will be able to beat Virgin Media’s network speeds and a great deal depends on network traffic management. It’s unknown if the latest BT network will begin to throttle speeds after so much is downloaded or during peak times. This is becoming a more well-known phenomenon, and customers should access the speeds they pay for all the time.

Thank you The Next Web for providing us with this information.

D-Link Inadvertently Publishes Its Private Code-Signing Keys

Hackers are viewed within the media and by films as master genius’s who are able to hack into protected systems with the intention of stealing a vast array of information. There is some truth in this assertion considering even multinational companies have been caught napping by cyber thieves, but, what happens if I don’t know, a tech firm accidentally publishes its private signing keys? Well, D-Link has managed to do this in what is known scientifically as stupididiotness.

Taiwan-based networking equipment manufacturer D-Link has published its Private code signing keys inside the company’s open source firmware packages. This was spotted by a user by the username “bartvbl” who had bought a D-Link DCS-5020L security camera and downloaded the firmware from D-Link which open sources its firmware under the GPL license.

All seemed well for “bartvbl” until they inspected the source code, only to find four private keys which are used for code signing. To test this, the user-created a windows application which was able to be signed by one of the four keys which appeared to be valid. Not only this, the user also discovered pass-phrases which are needed to sign the software,

It is yet unclear if any of these keys were used in attacks by malicious third parties, meanwhile, D-Link has seen the light and has responded to this embarrassment by revoking the certificate in question and subsequently releasing a new version which does not contain any code signing keys, which is good.

Thank you tweakers via Google Translate for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of thehackernews.

Facebook Is Sued (Again) This Time For Storing a Billion Face Prints

Facebook’s business model is a paradox for consumers who yearn for privacy yet share their selfies, intimate images and sometimes bizarre postings within its borders. How much privacy would you expect from a company built on making a substantial profit from your data? Facebook has decided to push the storage of your information even further and has subsequently been handed a class action complaint over consumer biometric retention.

So what and who, have Facebook violated this time? According to the filed complaint, Facebook “has created, collected and stored over a billion ‘face templates’ (or ‘face prints’)”, which, ostensibly, are as uniquely identifiable as fingerprints. These have been gathered “from over a billion individuals, millions of whom reside in the State of Illinois”. It is alleged that by harvesting this sensitive data, Mark Zuckerberg is in violation of the state of Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), which was passed by the state legislature in 2008.

Now for the punchline, as noted in the complaint, under BIPA a private entity such as Facebook is prohibited from obtaining or possessing an individual’s biometrics unless it achieves suitable consent, which is constituted by the following:

  • Informing that person in writing that biometric identifiers or information will be collected or stored
  • Informing that person in writing of the specific purpose and length of term for which such biometric identifiers or biometric information is being collected, stored and used
  • Receiving a written release from the person for the collection of his or her biometric identifiers or information
  • Publishing publicly available written retention schedules and guidelines for permanently destroying biometric identifiers and biometric information

The group of plaintiffs state that they have not and never had a Facebook account, but their images were uploaded onto the site which resulted in the creation of a biometric template which was then stored by Facebook..

It’s difficult to imagine the social networking giant complying with the current legal and acceptable definitions enshrined in law. If Facebook loses this case then it would effectively open the door to millions of possible claimants who would seek damages for breaches of privacy. This stand-off is very much a .com terms and conditions VS real world laws and consequences, Facebook will no doubt argue that consumers shared this information voluntarily regardless of who actually shared it for the corporation to handle as they wish, one thing is certain; the outcome could pinpoint the paths which define consumer protection in the face of a growing will to collect more and more info by large corporations.

Who owns your image once it’s uploaded onto Facebook or any other site?

Thank you theregister for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of 1en

Facebook Reaches Over a Billion Users in One Day

Facebook has reached another unbelievable milestone and recorded over one billion users within a single day. The announcement was made via Mark Zuckerbeg’s official Facebook account and the data indicates 1 in 7 people throughout the world used Facebook on Monday. It’s impossible to quantify how momentous this achievement is and it’s clear that social media has become an integral part of daily life.

In theory, the statistics could be incorrect as it’s possible for individuals to access multiple accounts. Therefore, did 1 in 7 real people actually use Facebook in one day? Honestly, I can believe it and know of many people who are addicted to Facebook. Instead of waking up in the morning and cleaning their teeth, they check Facebook and reply to any notifications.

To celebrate this event, many advocates of Facebook have been sharing inspirational stories about meeting long-lost relatives, and how Facebook changed their lives. Over the years, some critics expected Facebook’s popularity to curtail as people became disinterested with the monotony of posting life-events online. However, the opposite has occurred, and many social media services including Facebook and Twitter are as influential as ever. In the future, it’s perfectly feasible for Facebook to reach 10 billion people accessing the site in a day as the current numbers could be greatly reduced by the older generation not using computers.

Do you use Facebook on a daily basis?

Sony Confirms Playstation Plus Price Increase in Europe

Sony has confirmed the PlayStation Plus service will receive a price hike in Europe from September 1st. The price of a 3-month subscription is set to increase from £11.99 to £14.99 in the UK while the yearly price bracket remains the same. An official statement from SCEUK said:

“From 1st September we will be increasing the price of monthly and three month PlayStation Plus subscriptions in line with market conditions.

“We will continue to invest in PlayStation Plus to ensure an unparalleled experience, featuring the best quality games and features.”

The 3-month’s higher price also applies to other European regions such as France which increases from €14.99 to €19.99. Currently, it seems there are no plans to alter pricing in Asia or North America. According to a representative from the SCEUK, the overall cost will be:

“Different in some markets.”

Sony are pushing the yearly subscription model and discouraging users from buying the cheaper, 3-month alternative. Financially, it makes sense to purchase the 12-month option, but this reduces the flexibility for those wanting to try the network out for a few months. Additionally, Xbox Live can be purchased from 3rd parties for around £20 and is significantly cheaper than PlayStation Plus.

Traditionally, the quality of free games on PlayStation Plus made the investment worthwhile but the line-up has been rather poor in recent months. Furthermore, the money is designed to improve the network stability and PlayStation Plus is still plagued by down-times. Sony desperately needs to improve the network infrastructure and provide a service which corresponds with the asking price.

Thank you Push Square for providing us with this information.

Scientists Network the Brains of Three Monkeys

A group of scientists from Duke University in North Carolina, USA, have linked together the brains of three monkeys. Using their collective brainpower, the animals were able to control an avatar arm together.

Miguel Nicolelis, professor of neurobiology and biomedical engineering at Duke University and lead researcher on the project, is a pioneer in the field of mind-controlled prosthetic limbs and exoskeletons. He believes his latest research points towards a future of organic computing and collective communication bordering on telepathy.

“Essentially we created a super-brain,” Nicolelis said. “A collective brain created from three monkey brains. Nobody has ever done that before.” Preempting negative reactions to his work, he added, “We’re conditioned by movies and Hollywood to think that everything related to science is dangerous and scary. These scary scenarios never crossed my mind and I’m the one doing the experiments.”

Anders Sandberg, a neuroethics researcher at the University of Oxford, lauded Nicolelis’ work, saying, “People have claimed digital telepathy in various cool demos, but it’s mostly been total hype,” he said. “I’m quite impressed by this. It has a high ‘gosh’ factor.”

Nicolelis and his team performed a similar feat involving the brains of four rats, during which they synchronised their neuronal activity and collaborated to solve a simple weather forecasting problem that alone was beyond them.

Thank you The Guardian for providing us with this information.

Google’s Covert Snooping Tool Installed Without User Consent

Google’s reputation with privacy advocates is pretty abysmal and the latest revelation that audio footage has been monitored on PCs without permission will do little to improve matters. Open source developers noticed a peculiar line of code via the Chromium browser which analyzes background noise. In theory, this technology is implemented to offer rudimentary voice commands when the end user proclaims, “OK Google”. While this might add convenience to slower typists or people with impaired eyesight, it is designed to be an optional extra. In a developer blog post, a Google representative clarified, “First and foremost, while we do download the hotword module on startup, we *do not* activate it unless you opt into hotwording. If you go into “chrome://settings”, you will see a checkbox “Enable “Ok Google” to start a voice search”. This should be unchecked by default, and if you do not check it, the hotword module will not be started”.

There has been some contrasting evidence from irate developers who claim the software is enabled without user permission and contravenes the Chromium’s Open source ethos. Ofer Zelig is a vocal example and shared his personal experience:

“Google says the module is there so the browser could respond to “OK Google”. But what if I don’t want it at all? why injecting such a privacy-sensitive module in the first place instead of asking me whether I deliberately want this feature?”

Thankfully, under growing pressure from developers and privacy commentators, Google has now removed the speech module from Chromium recognizing that the inclusion couldn’t be classified as a piece of Open source code. It’s difficult to deduce if the automatic monitoring behavior was intentional or Google simply underestimated the widespread privacy concerns. Clearly, Google isn’t a trustworthy company when it comes to data sharing and it will take a miracle for industry peers and consumers to begin sharing information at ease.

Nokia Plans a Comeback to the Smartphone Market Next Year

If you thought that the famous company who made ‘tough’ phones is out of the smartphone market, think again. Nokia just announced that it plans to make a comeback next year, after Microsoft allows it. It looks like Nokia and Microsoft signed an agreement that prevents Nokia from selling anything phone-wise until 2016.

However, Nokia does not plan on making fully fledged handsets. The company announced that it will start designing smartphones and selling their brand. This means we could be looking at other Nokia Windows Phones next year, but having Microsoft provide the hardware and software, while Nokia provides the designs and its logo. However, Nokia plans on extending its services to other companies too.

This does not mean Nokia is moving away from networking, as they were focusing on the market for quite some time now. Its latest acquisition, Alcatel-Lucent, for $17.8 billion still provides a good understanding that the company wants a chunk of the latter market as well.

In the meantime, its HERE technology is still up for sale. While big companies are eyeing Nokia’s high-definition satellite imagery technology, Nokia says that a ‘good buyer’ for the tech will be someone who can improve it and expand its potential in the long run.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information

DDR4 Industrial Grade Modules Announced by SMART Modular Technologies

SMART Modular Technologies has announced the availability of its highly reliable DDR4 industrial grade modules. The modules are said to join the company’s very successful DDR3 lineup and target the networking, telecom and industrial applications market, where operating areas consist of harsh environments.

As with all of SMART’s products, quality is extremely important and this is why each of the DDR4 industrial grade modules undertake extreme tests. The DDR4-2133 1.2V modules are tested with customized tensing programs, test flows and specialized equipment in order to eliminate weak bits and modules likely to fail under temperature tests.

It is said that SMART’s industrial grade modules are 100% system tested at high speeds, starting with a cold boot at -40°C and working upward to +85°C ambient operation. However, test duration may vary depending on each module’s density.

SMART’s DDR4 industrial grade modules are said to be ready to operate in a variety of harsh conditions, including base stations and telecom equipment exposed to the elements, single board computers used in industrial, defense, aerospace, kiosk, digital signage applications and densely configured computing applications with limited airflow.

The memory modules come in a variety of types, including SO-DIMMs up to 16GB, unbuffered and registered DIMMs up to 16GB and 32GB respectively, and Mini-DIMMs up to 16GB.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information

‘WarKitteh’ Smart Collar Turns Your Cat Into Hacking Tool

Security Researcher Gene Bransfield and his accomplice, his wife’s grand motherer’s cat, sound like an unlikely duo for network hacking, but that’s exactly what they’ve been doing together! Equipped with a Spark chip, a Wi-Fi module, a GPU module and a battery, Coco the cats collar is pretty high tech. As the cat wonders the neighbourhood, Coco the cat helps Gene identify Wi-Fi networks in and around the local neighbourhood.

The cat and his collar is capable of discovering all unsecured networks, or at least the poorly secured ones, WAP names and more. Coco found dozens of networks, several of which were easily hacked and four that had no security at all… to be honest, I’m not surprised.

Dubbed WarKitteh, the smart collar cost less than $100 to make and while the creator admits its more of a goofy hack that a security threat, it’s just another way of reminding us that our networks need to be more secure… especially given that there are now cats stealing your SSID’s.

Thank you HotHardware for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of HotHardware.

Thecus N2520 2-Bay NAS Review

Introduction


In the latter part of last year I took a look at Thecus N2560 2-bay Intelligent NAS – one of only two white systems that Thecus have in their library and as a budget busting system it really stood its ground in a market which is getting more and more competitive as time moves on. Whilst I looked at the N2560, I made a number of references to the N2520 which we have here today, simply because it is slightly more powerful system with double the RAM and a slightly faster SoC processor running at 1.6GHz. It is therefore only fair that at some stage I take a look at the N2520 to see if it is really worth the move to the higher performance model, or if this is still a worthy contender in the market.

At the time of the N2560 review we could see that there was around £40 difference in cost between the two systems and moving forward to today we note that the price gap is still roughly the same – more importantly though, the price of BOTH units has come down considerably. Where the N2560 was retailing previously for around £270, the same unit can now be found for around £210; whilst the N2520 has dropped from £230 to £170.

As a refresh for those who have not had a chance to read my review on the N2560, these two units are the some of the first units that Thecus have to offer which break away from the matte black chassis that is typically associated with a NAS hardware (they have previously built some silver units as well for the consumer market) and further more they pack some of the latest embedded hardware that Intel has to offer in the form of a 1.2GHz SoC – offering good levels of performance with running costs that are much lower than that of a non SoC based unit.

Alongside the chassis, Thecus include a spread of paperwork, a mains adaptor with regional kettle lead, reusable cable ties and network cable and also a pair of plastic rails, giving the N2520 a totally tool-free design – just what the entry-level user wants.

In addition to the typical accessory line-up, the N2520 comes with a flash drive containing the latest version of Thecus OS software, which can be loaded on to the system during its initial setup run. After this you have a free flash drive to use as you wish.

Synology DS415Play 4-Bay NAS Review

Introduction


In the early stages of this year we saw the arrival of Synology’s DS214Play – a 2-bay system which offers users the ability to stream media connect across the network to everything, including mobile devices thanks to its onboard transcoding capabilities from Intel’s latest Evansport processor. Little did Synology know, this unit has turned out to be one of their most popular 2-bay systems to hit the shelves this year and as users embraced the transcoding power, the demand for a bigger and better system soon followed.

Aside from the obvious extension to four bays, the DS415Play features the same Intel Evansport 1.6GHz CPU, featuring Floating-Point Units, giving the system its popular ability to transcode media on the fly for streaming across to mobile devices as well as processing image thumbnails much faster than that of a typical SoC based system.

Connectivity wise we find an extra two USB2.0 ports on the rear of the system in place of the eSATA port that the 215 features. On paper this means that we should expect to see at least the same levels of performance as on of this years top-selling 2-bay systems, with an easy, too-free setup and a user interface that I consider to be one of the most user-friendly solutions on the market today.

Like a large number of Synology’s systems, the DS415Play comes in a rather non-de-script box, with only a few labels on the outside indicating which unit is inside. From a business point of view this means that on the grander scale we are looking at lower packaging costs – which in turn means a cheaper end product for the consumer. Inside we find a similarly comprehensive bundle with little more than a power cord, patch lead and a quick setup leaflet.

Thecus N4800Eco 4-Bay NAS Review

Introduction


In today’s market, performance, connectivity and software features are not the only areas that NAS manufacturers have to focus on when developing a new product. As businesses strive to save overhead costs wherever they can, the focus is now shifting over to saving power. Although performance is still a key area of focus, like desktop components, trying to get as much processing power as possible whilst using as little power as possible is the next step in the NAS evolutionary timeline. The N4800Eco that we are taking a look at today is by no means a newcomer to the market, in fact it saw its debut in the early part of last year, but with so many systems on offer today, Thecus are looking to give this system a second push to the market, proving that you don’t have to get the latest system in order to get the best balance between performance and cost of ownership.

As its name suggests, the N4800Eco is in fact a direct relative to the renowned N4800 4-bay system that came to market in the middle part of 2012. Powered by a 3rd generation Intel Atom D2700 series CPU, the N4800 once again proved that it was a strong contender in the SMB market as it superseded the N4200 that we took a look at ourselves. Where the N4800Eco differs over the N4800 mainly comes down to the price point. Aside from the removal of the battery backup unit, the N4800 and the Eco are almost identical part-for-part, although the Atom CPU has been updated to a D2701 from the D2700 as seen on the N4800 – giving a slightly better power consumption in respect to the older unit. The Eco branding is there to show that it is a more economically cost-effective product to buy, with the 20% power saving that is advertised relating to the power difference between this system and the much older N4200.

Even though the N4800Eco is positioned within the SMB market, we find a number of features that also make it a worthy consideration for the SOHO market, with full multimedia support through a HDMI connection and a built-in media front end for direct playback of content from the system itself. Since the launch of OS6, Thecus now ship this system with the latest Linux-based OS, offering up a more fluid and intuitive user interface, with support for link aggregation, McAffee Antivirus, Cloud access as well as the sharing of devices connected through the systems eSATA and USB3.0 ports.

Showing off it economical traits, the box for this NAS is very green when compared to any other box I’ve seen from Thecus. A few key features and specifications are printed beside a picture of the system and there is a highlight to show if its 20% power saving that can be expected. Inside the box we get a typical Thecus package including an AC power adapter, network cable and screws for installing both 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives and a set of keys for locking the drives in place. A set of CDs with various extras and a set of manuals give everything we need to get going.

Synology DS414slim 4-Bay NAS Review

Introduction


When looking at bulk storage and consequently network storage, the generic blueprint that virtually every vendor follows is a desktop or rackmount system with an even number of drive bays, each with the capacity to hold the largest drives that can be bought on the market today – which come in a 3.5″ format, although we do find a few situations where 2.5″ SSDs are used based on the application of the storage array. Whilst this blueprint is perfectly fine, on the consumer end of the market where we are not always looking at jaw dropping capacities and performance, a typical 4-bay system is not exactly the easiest of things to tuck away under the desk or in the closet and then we have to factor in the cost of getting up and running. 3.52 drives are the only way to go if you want large amounts of storage on hand, but if you want a more modest setup with a system the doesn’t end up acting like a foot rest under your desk, there are barely any options out there to choose from.

2.5″ drives are, for the most part, forgotten about when it comes to mass storage. Unless you are talking about solid state drives, we generally find people taking the 3.5″ route, without even considering 2.5″ spinning platters, which are left for the entry-level notebooks and budget ultra-SFF systems and this is reflected [as highlighted above] in the NAS market from bottom to top. Wanting to break away from this generalised blueprint, Synology have made an ambitious move to shrink down their popular DS414 line of systems into a tiny, baby-NAS like package which runs solely on 2.5″ drives, making the presence of a NAS in the home a lot more subtle than before.

With a top end raw capacity of only 4TB, Synology’s DS414slim is not going to be a storage monster for those who have tons of films, music and photos to store, but for the average Joe who is looking for a tidy, compact system to blend in with their minimalist desktop setup with a nice and reasonable storage capacity of 3TB (when in RAID5), the slim does start to sound like an interesting investment. It’s size is not a sign that we are working on skeleton features either. Whilst we only find a pair of USB3.0 ports and a pair of GbE ports alongside four drive bays, the number of software features that are at your disposal are virtually the same as those found on a full-on NAS such as the DS414 which this is related to. By the time we factor in the lower cost of drives; around £55 / $76 each for one of Western Digital’s 1TB Red drives which are build primarily for the consumer NAS market and what you can have here is a tidy little system that offers just as much as its larger siblings.

Whether or not this move turns out to be a successful move by Synology comes done to the build, features, ease of use and ultimately the performance. After all there is not point in getting such a tiny system if the performance is not worth the cost.

Packed in to the relatively tiny box, Synology provide a power adaptor with regional mains plug, a pair of patch leads, a set of screws, a quick installation guide and something a little bit different – a base on which the unit sits.

Google’s First Social Network to be Shut Down Later This Year

When to comes to social networking, Facebook is in arguably the most popular and the most well-known platform on the internet today, however there are a multitude of other networks that are available around the globe with a few of these coming from Google. Back in 2004, Google unveiled their first take on social networking with Orkut. Like many things though, a number of these from Google themselves, Orkut is getting the axe as it doesn’t attract the same amount of interest as their other social media platforms such as Google+.

After ten years of action, Orkut users will have the option to export their profiles and information over to Google Takeout after which the site will be shut down for good on 30th September. Although this is not the first social platform to get the axe from Google, it has stood its ground for the longest and even though it has been taken in quite well over in Brazil, on the greater scale its resources could be better spent in other areas of development.

From a business perspective the shut down is a wise move as Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO suggests as he admits that they were a little late to jump on the social media platform all those years ago.

“Over the past decade, YouTube, Blogger and Google+ have taken off, with communities springing up in every corner of the world,” the Orkut team wrote in a blog post. “Because the growth of these communities has outpaced Orkut’s growth, we’ve decided to bid Orkut farewell (or, tchau). We’ll be focusing our energy and resources on making these other social platforms as amazing as possible for everyone who uses them.”

With many users opting for Facebook and G+, Orkuts farewell may not have such a negative impact as some users may suggest, but even that said we have to admit at times that Google may have been better of admitting defeat a little earlier on.

Source: Reuters India

Linksys WRT1900AC Dual-Band Wireless Router Review

Introduction


Over the last few years there have been many products that have come to market that have had the ability to grab our attention for one reason or another. In some instances this has been due to the new technologies and levels of performance that they bring or in other instances it may have been a radical design that changes the way in which we look at type of product. The product that we’re looking at today though has me buzzing in a completely different way and one which I doubt will happen again any time soon.

Linksys’ WRT1900AC is a router that, as anyone into their networking would know, is built on the legacy of the WRT54G, which came to market back in December 2003 and it’s range of substrates that followed, including the WRT54GS. Of all the features that made the original WRT so unique and legendary, the Open-source platform and performance for the time were the two biggest selling points. To show how successful this router was and believe it or not, still is, the WRT54G and GS have been used for so many applications aside residential network applications, with open-source firmware playing a major part in these unique applications.

As the years have moved on and the world of networking advanced considerably, the WRT range has slowly started to drop in numbers as 802.11n and more recently 802.11ac wireless connectivity and also the 5GHz band have become the new industry standard along with Gigabit LAN on the wired side of the network. Following their acquisition by Belkin, Linksys have been looking at ways in which they can bring the brand back into the front line, alongside the likes of Netgear who are one of today’s industry leaders, and the choice was made last year to rekindle the essence of what was then their most iconic product – the result of months of work sees us looking at what could quite possibly be another iconic product and for anyone who is into their networking, this is a very exciting product to see launched.

Keeping some of the bold lines and colours and translating them into a 2014 design, the WRT1900AC retains the blue and black plastic body and the desktop orientation what the original WRT featured and inside Linksys have packed in a 1.2GHz dual-core ARM processor, 256MB of RAM and 128MB flash memory, dual-band wireless with speeds of up to 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band on offer, with a unique 4×4 external antenna array, which work with the latest beamforming technology to deliver fast and precisely directed wireless connections to any part of the home, with the aim to deliver faster and stronger wireless connections than any other router on the market. It’s certainly a tall order and an ambitious claim to make, but if Linksys have done their homework right and kept hold of the WRT magic that we saw years ago, this could quite possibly be one of the greatest routers that we have seen to date; so the pressure really is on.

The front of the box is very simple and to the point with a bold image of the router laid out across it and a line of feature highlights set below. Around the rest of the box we get more information on the router with detailed specifications, insights into the wireless coverage and what the WRT has to offer over all else.

Opening up the box, the essence of quality is instantly apparent with the router set into a foam lined interior and each of the bundled accessories having its own dedicated compartment to protect it from damage during shipping.

HPs “The Machine” Capable of Calculating 640TBs In 250ns

How do you feel about having a new type of computer that can churn its way through a staggering 160 petabytes of data in one billionth of a second, while only using 1/8th of the power of a comparable performance server? Because that is exactly what HP’s new “The Machine” is capable of doing, and it could truly revolutionise the computer world in a big way.

Using a cluster of specialized cores that are connected via silicon photonics, rather than a group of generalized cores on a copper PCB, The Machine is an incredibly powerful and high-performance device. The best trick at its disposal is the use of memristors, a special type of resistor that are capable of storing information, even in the event of power loss.

The whole thing is still a prototype, but HP are really hyped about this thing. Samples will appear some time next year, but the hardware isn’t expected to be deployed until 2018. HP hope The Machine will revolutionise “the internet of things”, but also say their technology could be scaled down, offering mobile devices likes smartphones somewhere in the region of 100 Terabytes of memory, yikes!

Thank you IFLS for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of IFLS.

Western Digital Release System Update for My Cloud EX4 NAS

When I took a look at Western Digital’s My Cloud EX4 NAS a few months back I found the system to be a strong contender in the SOHO and SMB markets, offering up not only the ability to access your data from anywhere on the globe with the confidence that it is not being scanned by any third parties, but also the security of redundant storage. Whilst the EX4 has heaps of features on offer, the local network performance that was experienced left the EX4 a little behind other 4-bay systems in the same market segment.

Since our review on the EX4, Western Digital have been continuing to improve the My Cloud range and for the EX4 this has meant a major firmware update. Granted this is not something that I would normally cover in a news article, but for the EX4, WD state that the performance increase that is on offer from the update is quite considerable, bringing the system up and in line with the systems that previously left it standing behind. In addition to the read and write performance experienced over the network, the update also pays attention to the reliability of network connections, correcting the issue where some users were observing dropped connections when working remotely, better sustained file transfer rates, faster backups, faster build and recovery times of the systems RAID array(s) and finally improved CPU utilisation to improve the overall speed of the admin panel.

The firmware update is being rolled out to EX4 systems with a flag that a the new firmware revision is available for download, or alternatively users can download the latest firmware directly from WD at http://support.wd.com/product/download.asp?groupid=905&lang=en.

Source: Press Release