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Archive for July, 2014

Halo MouseAn affordable rodent for Halo fans

It’s a bit of an odd cross promotion, but to draw attention to Halo: The Master Chief Collection for Xbox One, GameStop is offering up for pre-order Microsoft’s new Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500 Halo Limited Edition: The Master Chief. Microsoft outfitted its existing Mobile Mouse 3500 with a highly detailed scene featuring Master Chief in his two-tone green MJOLNIR Power Assault Armor and gold hued visor.

“With this mouse, you get Master Chief and all the awesomeness that comes standard with the popular Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500 such as its ambidextrous design, snap-in nano transceiver, 2.4 GHz wireless technology, and two-color battery light indicator. You also get BlueTrack Technology that allows you to use the mouse on virtually any surface including granite, marble, carpet, and wood,” Microsoft said in a blog post.

The Mobile Mouse 3500 uses BlueTrack technology for tracking on virtually any surface. It also features a plug-and-go nano transreceiver and up to 8 months of battery life.

If you’re interested, you can place your pre-order at GameStop for $30 today; it will ship in October. You can also place your pre-order for Halo: The Master Chief Collect at GameStop for $60; it ships November 11, 2014.

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AMD KaveriNew APUs solve the Twitter teaser picture mystery

We now have our answer to a Twitter picture teasing a new AMD A-Series APU launch that made the rounds last week. The picture showed a dozen robots on the side of a semi-truck, leading to speculation that AMD might release a 12-core APU. In a sense, that’s what AMD launched today, though not in the way you might think. AMD’s updated Kaveri parts released today include the A10-7800 and A6-7600 APUs, the former with 12 Compute Cores (4 CPU and 8 GPU) and the latter with 10 Compute Cores (4 CPU and 6 GPU).

In a more traditional sense, the higher-end A10-7800 is a quad-core chip clocked at 3.5GHz (up to 3.9GHz via Turbo), while the A6-7600 is also a quad-core part, but clocked at 3.1GHz (up to 3.8GHz via Turbo). They both feature AMD’s Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) that allows the CPU and GPU to tag team tasks, TrueAudio technology, Mantle support, and configurable TDPs.

“The AMD A-Series APUs bring a superior level of gaming and compute experiences to the desktop PC,” said Bernd Lienhard, corporate vice president and general manager, Client Business Unit, AMD. “With support for AMD’s acclaimed Mantle API that simplifies game optimizations for programmers and developers to unlock unprecedented levels of gaming performance transforming the world of game development to help bring better, faster games to the PC.”

AMD’s A10-7800 and A6-7600 are available now for $158 and $104, respectively (MSRPs).

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USBThe bad side of USB

Oh great, as if it wasn’t bothersome enough knowing that all our online communications are susceptible to government spying with very little we can do about it, now we’ve come to find out that just by having a USB port, there exists a pretty serious security risk every time we plug in a compatible peripheral. The problem is that virtually any of the millions of USB devices out there can be reprogrammed for malicious purposes, and there doesn’t appear to be much we can do about it.

Security Research Labs in Berlin has given a name to the fundamental flaw in USB — “BadUSB.” At issue is that every USB device has a controller chip that controls the USB connection to other devices. Those controllers have firmware, and if reprogrammed — which is easy to do since the USB-IF focused more on compatibility than security — a benign device like a keyboard or mouse can suddenly turn evil.

“A device can emulate a keyboard and issue commands on behalf of the logged-in user, for example to exfiltrate files or install malware. Such malware, in turn, can infect the controller chips of other USB devices connected to the computer,” SRLabs explains.

The device can also spoof a network card and change the computer’s DNS setting to redirect traffic. Unfortunately, there are no known defenses against this other than not using your USB devices. Malware scanners can’t access the firmware running USB devices, and behavioral detection isn’t reliable since a BadUSB device’s behavior simply looks like a user plugged in a new device.

“Once infected, comptuers and their USB peripherals can never be trusted again,” SRLabs added.

The best analogy so far comes from ExtremeTech, which likens the situation to having unprotected sex. In other words, if you plug your USB device into another PC, you can assume it’s been compromised.

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PC-V2130A full tower chassis with room for multiple water cooling radiators

Lian Li today added another big case to its lineup, the PC-V2130. As you might have guessed, this one sports a brushed aluminum design, a popular motif at Lian Li, and is an updated version of the PC-V2120. The PC-V2130 improves upon its predecessor by adding robust water cooling support, more versatile drive bay options, and an enhanced cable management scheme.

According to Lian Li, the PC-V2130 has 94L of space inside and can support motherboards up to HPTX. There’s a tool-less removable top panel that allows for 240mm or 280mm radiators. Two additional 280mm radiators can be installed at the front and bottom of the chassis.

For cable management and cooling, there are 8 grommeted holes, 31mm (1.2 inches) behind the motherboard tray to hide bundles, two 140mm fans up front, two 140mm fans on the bottom, a single 120mm fan on the rear, and optional fan mounts on the top.

Other amenities include dust filters, wheels to move the case, thumbscrews, stealth covers, and more.

The PC-V2130 will be available soon for between $499 and $569.

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