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Writers and Reviewers: Techgage Wants You!

Published on July 3, 2008 by Rory Buszka | Comment (0)




You think you can do what we do? Here’s your invitation! We’re planning some serious growth in the near future, but we need people that can help make it happen.

All positions for Techgage are voluntary, but can be rewarding. In addition to being a great way to get your fix of the ‘shiny-shiny’, you get to build your reputation as a knowledgeable authority in the world of PC technology, and you get a cool Techgage.com email address. You’ll also join a spirited team of dynamic individuals who care deeply about providing our visitors with the best experience possible. To be the best candidate for a position at Techgage, we suggest that you:

  • Are passionate about PC technology (being opinionated is a plus!)
  • Are a "self-starter" who is willing to work independently on projects
  • Be able to write with proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation
  • Are generally knowledgable in most areas of PC hardware (CPUs, motherboards, graphics, storage, peripherals, accessories), software (gaming, productivity, operating systems), or consumer electronics (home theater, audio, video, ‘connected home’ products)
  • Have an entertaining writing style

Applicants must submit a writing sample of no less than 1200 words (we can help with this if necessary), or an example of previous work at a similar site. We’d also like to know what area of PC technology you’re most interested in. To apply, send an email to Rob ([email protected]) or Rory ([email protected]) for consideration.

 

Writers and Reviewers: Techgage Wants You!

Published on July 3, 2008 by Rory Buszka | Comment (0)




You think you can do what we do? Here’s your invitation! We’re planning some serious growth in the near future, but we need people that can help make it happen.

All positions for Techgage are voluntary, but can be rewarding. In addition to being a great way to get your fix of the ‘shiny-shiny’, you get to build your reputation as a knowledgeable authority in the world of PC technology, and you get a cool Techgage.com email address. You’ll also join a spirited team of dynamic individuals who care deeply about providing our visitors with the best experience possible.

To be the best candidate for a position at Techgage, we suggest that you:

  • Are passionate about PC technology (being opinionated is a plus!)
  • Are a "self-starter" who is willing to work independently on projects
  • Be able to write with proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation
  • Are generally knowledgable in most areas of PC hardware (CPUs, motherboards, graphics, storage, peripherals, accessories), software (gaming, productivity, operating systems), or consumer electronics (home theater, audio, video, ‘connected home’ products)
  • Have an entertaining writing style

Applicants must submit a writing sample of no less than 1200 words (we can help with this if necessary), or an example of previous work at a similar site. We’d also like to know what area of PC technology you’re most interested in. To apply, send an email to Rob ([email protected]) or Rory ([email protected]) for consideration.

Game Consoles Offer Sexual Predators ‘Foot In The Door’

Published on July 2, 2008 by Rory Buszka | Comment (0)

As more and more game consoles offer network connectivity and online play, potential downsides to this bevy of networkability have begun to crop up. More recently, ‘net-connected consoles are being treated as a new battleground in the sexual predation of children.Sexual predators are turning to online games that offer in-game test messaging and voice chat to lure new victims.

But as the predators move to new types of media to court their prey, police and federal enforcement agents are hot on their heels, moving to Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. Now, if there’s a cool law enforcement job to have, it would have to be spending your days playing online games in order to catch sexual predators. You’d be able to get your game on, and do good for society at the same time. Heck, I’d sign up for that.

In Utah, a man was charged this year with sexual exploitation of a minor for enticing a 12-year-old boy he met through an online game into having sex, says Lt. Jessica Farnsworth, field commander of the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. She says predators meet kids on a game, "groom them and then try to move off the game."

Sony Playstation 3 Among Worst Offenders In Standby Power Draw

Published on June 4, 2008 by Rory Buszka | Comment (0)

A recent Australian consumer agency study of a variety of consumer electronics products ranging from televisions to stereo systems to laptop PCs and DVD players, found that consumer electronics operating in standby mode are a major contributor to high power bills. Of the 16 electronic devices tested, the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 were both represented.

The study found, overwhelmingly, that the Playstation 3 console was the worst offender when it came to standby power draw, drawing 5 times more power than it would cost to run a refrigerator for the same period. While it’s not specified in the article whether ‘standby’ simply meant a low power state entered into after a certain period of inactivity or the actual ‘standby’ state that the console can be placed into by switching it “off” but leaving it plugged into the wall (we suspect the former), it’s definitely time to take another look at what your consumer electronics devices contribute to your overall monthly power bill.

The report advised consumers to switch off their electronic devices at the source, rather than just from the remote control, which puts them on power-consuming stand-by mode. "This saves on money, not to mention carbon emissions," it added.

Additional Note: To find out how much power your AC-powered devices are drawing in standby and run conditions, you can use a power meter like the P3 International Kill-A-Watt.

AMD Puma Notebook Platform Springs On Computex

Published on June 4, 2008 by Rory Buszka | Comment (0)

At Computex today, AMD released their first mobile platform since the acquisition of ATI, codenamed “Puma”. Puma consists of a K8-based processor, called the Turion X2 Ultra, as well as the new RS780M mobile northbridge with a built-in Radeon HD3200 graphics core that’s also capable of running tandem with discrete AMD Radeon GPUs, and even switching “off” the discrete GPU when extra power isn’t needed, saving battery life.

According to a new article at ArsTechnica covering the release, the really big news here is “XGP”, the new AMD External Graphics Platform, which would allow a discrete graphics card to sit outside the laptop case and connect through an external PCIe 2.0 x8 connector. However, ArsTechnica speculates that Puma will have some trouble gaining the spotlight, which is currently hogged by sub-notebooks (like the ASUS Eee PC) powered by Intel’s Atom and VIA’s Nano CPUs, whereas Puma is more of a direct competitor to Intel’s Centrino platform.

Puma is the first laptop platform AMD has released since it bought ATI, and the combined companies are betting that the emerging synergy between their respective product lines will entice buyers in ways current Intel products cannot match. Santa Clara won’t be the only force to overcome; AMD will also have to draw attention to its new Puma-based products at a time when small notebook and "netbook" designs based on Nano, Atom, and Tegra are soaking up the headlines. 

No Escape For DRAM Makers From Market

Published on June 3, 2008 by Rory Buszka | Comment (0)

Here’s another one from DigiTimes: In years past, manufacturers of DRAM (that’s ‘memory’ for you country-folk) have been diversified enough in the markets served by their companies that when the DRAM market wasn’t lucrative, companies could afford to scale back production. However, Kingston co-founder David Sun fingered a growing crisis in the DRAM industry, now that many DRAM makers aren’t diversified (they don’t make anything else but DRAM).

The problem is simply this — when DRAM prices fall due to a flooded market, DRAM manufacturers don’t make as much on the sales of the products they manufacture, but manufacturers lacking in product diversity can’t afford to scale back production, or else they’ll be in for serious financial trouble as a company. Essentially, when the prices are in the toilet, you can expect the market to be soon to follow, as companies are forced to consolidate, or close up shop.

Reviewing major DRAM makers such as Elpida Memory, Nanya Technology, ProMOS Technologies, Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation (PSC) and Winbond Electronics, Sun said all of these players have no other product line to shift to if they quit DRAM production.

The Blu-Ray Blues

Published on June 3, 2008 by Rory Buszka | Comment (0)

So Sony’s Blu-Ray managed to win the HD format war after all. Well, Laaaah-dee-frickin’-daaah! DigiTimes believes that the format still has an uphill battle ahead of it before it will have the kind of market staying power developed by the CD and DVD formats. Its shortcoming can be summed up in one word: "diversity".

The DigiTimes article looks at other market segments where CD and DVD media still enjoy broad acceptance – game consoles, in-car entertainment, camcorder storage, enterprise storage, and yes, PCs – and finds that the Blu-Ray camp may have a difficult time persuading those sectors that the technology transition to more expensive blue-laser media and readers is indeed a worthwhile one. Though if we had to put our finger on it, we suspect that the high price of Blu-Ray products in market sectors where it’s already achieved penetration (HD home video distribution) is to blame for the format not achieving wider acceptance in other markets.

Based on these factors, the initial applications for BD are limited to watching movies and playing games using a PS 3 consoles. There is not much demand opportunity in the IT market and almost no room for music applications.

Intel 4-Series Chipsets: G43, G45, P45

Published on June 3, 2008 by Rory Buszka | Comment (0)

Intel’s next-generation chipset offerings in the mid-range and enterprise-level markets have arrived in the form of three mid-range offerings in Intel’s 4-Series of chipsets, including two with integrated graphics. In this article, we’ll lay out the differences, and help you understand your new options.

I Have To Go To The Bathroom…

Published on June 3, 2008 by Rory Buszka | Comment (0)

From the "We Wouldn’t Have Believed It If We Hadn’t Read It Ourselves" department comes the following story of brand loyalty taken to a new extreme. Edmunds.com has the story of an Argentinian family who drove a reconditioned 1981 Ford Falcon all the way from Argentina to Detroit, USA, in a trip spanning 47 days and over 4,700 miles. Diego Perceivaldi of Argentina packed his wife and two kids into the 27-year-old car, which had a rebuilt engine, and drove to the Motor City to pay homage to the Blue Oval.

What could inspire this kind of fanatical brand devotion? Apparently, the Falcon is an iconic car in Argentina, with an entire website – Todofalcon.com.ar – devoted to the car and its cult following in the country. Okay, you got us — this isn’t "tech" in the way that you likely think of Techgage as covering the world of "tech", but it’s an awesome story nonetheless. And while we still don’t know what could motivate even the most passionate car lover to make such an arduous journey, we do know this: If anyone asks "Are we there yet?" just one more time, we’re gonna start breaking legs.

For a trip that took three years to plan and 47 days to complete, Percivaldi played it pretty loosely at the end on Thursday, when he and his family walked up to the security desk at Ford World Headquarters with no previous contact and asked to talk to someone in charge. The AP reports they will spend a couple of days in Michigan — and fly home, having the Falcon shipped back to them.

Incidences of Child Hackers On The Rise

Published on June 3, 2008 by Rory Buszka | Comment (0)

Meet little Billy. For his twelfth birthday, his parents bought him a shiny new desktop computer. Billy recently learned how to steal your identity, while his parents thought he was doing homework. Are you prepared for Billy?

This DailyTech article details a bizarre but growing phenomenon among young pre-teens, some of whom are turning to cyber-crime to impress their friends, harm their enemies, and even make money. While you might not suspect that children as young as nine (!) would be involved in such schemes, cyber-crime investigators are finding an increasing number of young adolescents committing such crimes as identity theft and credit card fraud online.

"They want to be famous," Boyd says. "Not just known among their peers for their technical knowledge, but ‘American Idol’ famous." It is a scary thought that if kids are able to do these things at such a young age, just what may they be capable of later on in life with such a strong desire for fame.

Solid State Drive Prices Set To Plummet, Analyst Says

Published on June 2, 2008 by Rory Buszka | Comment (0)

CNET News.com analyst Brooke Crothers speculates that the long-awaited drop in solid state drive prices may finally be within reach. Making this happen, Crothers suggests, will be Multilevel Cell (MLC) technology, which enables SSD capacities above 100GB, competitive with the 80GB hard drives common in current laptops. In fact, it’s suggested that we could see MLC drives as large as 256GB by early 2009.

Since the introduction of MLC technology to the solid state drive product category, manufacturers have flocked to the technology, including Samsung, Toshiba, and STEC. Even Intel is preparing to enter the market for high-capacity SSDs, based on its own multilevel cell technology. However, Intel warns that with MLC designs, performance is slower than Single-Level Cell (SLC) designs, and can’t tolerate as many write cycles. And if anyone’s ever had a flash drive go dead on them, they know that once the data is gone, there’s no salvaging it. Adopters would still do well to keep meticulous backups of SSD data on a reliable mechanical hard drive, even if the drive doesn’t spin all the time.

Techgage News Image

"Compared to the price you’re paying today for a 64GB drive. You’ll get a 128GB of storage for less than half the price (of the 64GB drive)," said Patrick Wilkison, vice president of marketing and business development at STEC, a supplier of MLC-based solid-state drives.

MediaDefender Attacks Revision3 Servers Mistakenly

Published on June 2, 2008 by Rory Buszka | Comment (0)

 The best justice of all is poetic justice. If you don’t agree with me, check out the recent case of MediaDefender’s DoS attack on Revision3 servers. For the uninformed, MediaDefender is a company that simply exists to harm P2P networks, wherever they exist, typically contracted by groups like the RIAA and MPAA to flood torrent tracking sites with bogus torrents – they believe that by attacking the technology itself, they can stem the tide of pirated music and movies served via BitTorrent and other P2P networks, despite the potential for legitimate applications of P2P and BitTorrent technology, such as Revision3’s.

When Revision3’s servers discovered that they were being flooded with bogus torrents (that is, torrents that didn’t point to Revision3’s own media), they began to remove the torrent listings, prompting the initiation of a DoS attack by MediaDefender’s servers. Of course, in this case MediaDefender didn’t just attack any two-bit torrent-tracking site – they attacked a legitimate business that simply happened to be using BitTorrent technology to serve its customers. Never mind that the tactics MediaDefender used to try to shut Revision3 down were illegal under 18 different federal statutes. It’s our hope that Revision3 will seek to prosecute MediaDefender to the fullest extent allowed by law for this grossly errant and aggressive behavior on their part —  since a basic precept of American justice is that two wrongs don’t make a right. Though I suspect the RIAA and MPAA lobbyists may yet be at work on that one as well…

Techgage News Image

 

“We’d noticed some unauthorized use of our tracking server, and took steps to de-authorize torrents pointing to non-Revision3 files. That, as it turns out, was exactly the wrong thing to do. MediaDefender’s servers, at that point, initiated a flood of SYN packets attempting to reconnect to the files stored on our server. And that torrential cascade of ‘Hi’s brought down our network,” said Louderback.

Gears Of War 2 To Ship Before Thanksgiving, Hint Suggests

Published on June 2, 2008 by Rory Buszka | Comment (0)

The rumor mill forges onward. Lester “Mighty Rasta” Speight, the voice of Gears Of War’s Cole Train, let slip a comment that betrayed a potential ship date for Gears Of War 2. The suggested date was November 16, which is in line with earlier analysis (speculation) that suggested the game would ship sometime within the month of November.

CrunchGear speculates that TriForce might be planning the November 16 ship date in preparation for a Black Friday release. Of course, it’s still only speculation at this point, but this simply gives us an inkling of how massive Gears Of War 2 could be, given the amount of buzz that’s flying around the intertubes.

 

 DS and Wii Fanboy’s David Hinkle was at the panel to witness the football player-turned-actor’s Q+A session, and hopes to further press Mr. Rasta to discover the accuracy of his claims. Given that it falls in the game’s suggested November release window, we wouldn’t be surprised if Speight’s date was legit.

 

Unlock Hidden Capabilities On Some GeForce 9600 Cards

Published on June 2, 2008 by Rory Buszka | Comment (0)

Back in the day, the stories of hidden capabilities conveniently locked away for the enterprising modder to discover typically came from the AMD camp, with the 256MB Radeon 9500 Pro cards that could be software-modded to unlock Radeon 9700 performance, or the Radeon 9800 which could be effectively turned into a 9800 Pro with a simple pencil mod to connect a laser-cut bridge.

Now NVidia has their own sleeper performance part, in certain GeForce 9600GSO cards manufactured by Galaxy. As it turns out, all it takes is a BIOS flash to unlock extra pipelines on the card, converting it into the functional equivalent of a GeForce 8800 GTS. We’re providing a quick link to the blog that has the how-to, but be sure you’ve got a good pop-up blocker…and even that may not be enough to save you from the insidious pop-ups on the site. Got Patience?

Thanks to CrunchGear for the tip.

 Techgage News Image

I am sure enthusiasts are familiar with the term "soft-modding". The days (of turning 9800SE into 9800Pro; 6800NU into 6800GT) are back! This time round, the spotlight is on the GeForce 9 series, namely the 9600GSO. In this extraction of the original guide, we will show you how to softmod a 9600GSO into a 8800GTS 512MB.

Microsoft To Require Hardware Makers To Certify Drivers For Windows 7

Published on June 2, 2008 by Rory Buszka | Comment (0)

It’s reassuring to know that Microsoft hasn’t turned a completely deaf ear to the anguished cries of users forced to migrate to Windows Vista, only to find that some of the hardware or peripherals they’ve recently invested in are now useless due to a lack of Vista driver support. To avoid the headache (and heartache) that Windows Vista caused among users because of hardware providers’ inadequate or nonexistent Vista driver support, Microsoft will now require that hardware makers test their drivers on both Windows Vista and Windows 7 before their products can even receive a ‘Certified for Windows Vista’ badge.

Here’s the rub: Drivers don’t actually need to pass Windows Logo testing for the new operating system in order to receive Vista certification – but the hardware manufacturers must still hand the results of said testing over to Microsoft, ensuring that Microsoft will be able to gauge progress toward working drivers for the new OS before it actually arrives. In another bit of recent good news, any device driver that worked under Windows Vista will also work with Windows 7, so the industry won’t face a similar setback to the one encountered with Vista when Windows 7 finally hits.

In a long explanation (download PDF) of the Windows Logo Program, Microsoft spelled out the new requirement. "Beginning with the release of the first beta of the next operating system, all Windows Vista client and Windows Server 2008 submissions must include a complete [set of] test logs for the new beta OS," the company said in the document.

ASUS Xonar DX 7.1 Sound Card

Published on May 28, 2008 by Rory Buszka | Comment (0)

ASUS finally antes up to the bang-for-the-buck table with a value-priced product in their Xonar family of performance audio cards. It’s got a solid feature set, and debuts with ASUS’ new DS3D GX 2.0 environmental DSP, but does it break new ground in the price/performance department?

Razer/THX Mako 2.1-Channel Speaker System

Published on May 12, 2008 by Rory Buszka | Comment (2)

Razer is well-known for producing high-quality peripherals, but audio can be an entirely different bag. Our concerns over their new found venture can be set aside though, as the tag team effort between them and THX helped build an amazing 2.1 system that’s actually worth its $400 price tag.

Creative EAX vs. ASUS DS3D GX 2.0

Published on April 16, 2008 by Rory Buszka | Comment (1)

Not long ago, we received word from ASUS that they had managed to incorporate EAX effects into the drivers of their Xonar cards. Soon afterward, Creative told everyone that was false, and that ASUS “EAX” was not true EAX. Who’s telling the straight story, and will you even notice a difference?

Logitech Z Cinema Speaker System

Published on March 12, 2008 by Rory Buszka | Comment (0)

Logitech unveiled their Z Cinéma speaker system at this year’s CES, to plenty of fanfare. The system blends a refined two-way satellite design with a robust, powerful subwoofer. We take the latest high performance Z-series PC speaker system for a spin, and find lots of cause for excitement.

AblePlanet Clear Harmony Headphones

Published on March 3, 2008 by Rory Buszka | Comment (0)

When we met AblePlanet at CES, their Clear Harmony noise canceling headphones really caught our attention. Their built-in noise canceling circuitry is intended to reduce the infiltration of ambient noise, but can they stack up sonically against some serious competition within their price bracket?

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