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Zenimax Requests Injunction Against Oculus

24 February 2017 - 12:21 PM

Like almost anytime there is a lawsuit between two large companies, things are not over yet. The suit between ZeniMax and Oculus over whether ZeniMax proprietary code was illegally used in creating the Oculus Rift VR headset ended not too long ago. ZeniMax won a $500 million judgement and the jury said that while trade secrets were not stolen, Oculus uses copyrighted code without permission and an NDA was violated. While $500 million is a fraction of the billions ZeniMax had sought in damage, it opened the door for requesting an injunction against the code being used, and now the company has done just that. As this code has already been made available to developers to use by Oculus, such an injunction could have a significant impact on the whole of VR.

There is some speculation that ZeniMax might actually be trying to use the pressure of such an injunction, if it is granted, to force Oculus, and its owner Facebook, to reach a settlement. Only time will tell what will come of this, but for now we know the story and legal battle will continue.

Source: Reuters

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First SHA-1 Collision Produced by Google

24 February 2017 - 11:52 AM

There are many systems out there used to secure digital systems and content, and one of them has just been dealt a significant blow. The cryptographic hash function SHA-1 has been dealt its first collision, thanks to Google, effectively confirming it is no longer secure. Luckily there are better versions of the function out there already (SHA-256 and SHA-3, for example), but now it seems even more important for security professionals to move away from the 20 year old standard.

Cryptographic hashes are an important part of securing data on the Internet as the algorithms produce what should be unique message digests. If you want to check the authenticity of a file you download, and the source provides the digest, you can compare what the source provided against the digest your computer can make from what you downloaded, and if they match, you know you got what you wanted, and it was not compromised by some third-party. What Google has down is produced the first collision for Secure Hash Algorithm 1, which means it has generated two files, in this case two PDFs, that have different content but the same SHA-1 message digest. Google started from a paper published in 2013 that described a theoretical approach to creating the collision, and work started on creating a PDF prefix that would do the job. It took a lot of computation, but the collision has been produced.

For years it has been known and recognized that SHA-1 is not very secure, but it is still in use today to confirm website security certificates. However, Chrome 56 and newer will not consider any website with a SHA-1 certificate secured, and reacting to the news of the collision, Mozilla has accelerated its phase-in of depreciating SHA-1 to all Firefox 51 users.

You can find even more information about the collision and its potential impact at the second source link below.

Source: Google Security Blog and SHAttered.it

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AMD Ryzen Overclocking Utility Pictured

23 February 2017 - 01:04 PM

Yesterday AMD launched the new Ryzen R7 CPUs and since then the pre-orders have already placed all three R7 processors on Amazon's Best Sellers list for CPUs. Naturally more information than was officially shown off is coming out now, including a look at the AMD Ryzen Master overclocking utility from The Tech Chap.

First up, it appears each core can have its clock speed set individually, so if you want to dig in and optimize speeds on that level, it looks like you can. Curiously it appears the minimum speed the user can set is 3 GHz, apparently leaving lower speeds for when the CPU throttles down. The maximum speed is 6.375 GHz, which will probably take some extreme cooling. The user can also disable cores, with the image showing options of 0 (all cores being used), 2, 4, and 6. Just beneath that part of the UI we see the Voltage Control area where CPU Voltage, MEMO VDDIO, MEM VTT, and VDDCR SOC can all be set. Beneath that is where you can control the Memory settings, including the clock speed and the timings. Along the bottom of this page we see we can save profiles, with four already there and one marked 'C.'

My guess is that there is an entire other page of options to explore, as above where the cores are listed it says "Speed" and "Temperature." This is only my guessing, but I would expect that this is the Speed page and if you clocked on "Temperature" you would get another page with settings related to that. We will have to wait for embargoes to lift or the software to ship to know for sure though. In any case, I am sure many of us are interested in diving into these settings to see how far these new CPUs can be pushed.

Source: WCCFtech

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Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation v2.1 Launches

23 February 2017 - 12:17 PM

Last week it was announced that Stardock was merging the two versions of Ashes of the Singularity into Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation and today this merged game has received its version 2.1 update, which is bringing with it some interesting features. One of these is a single-player observer mode so you can watch as the AI fights it out. Players can also change the Supply Lines option now, so that regions do not need to be connected to your Nexus to grant resources, and you can start unranked 1-v-1 online matches, so you can play without risking your ranking. Additionally three maps have been added and many others have been rebalanced.

Coinciding with this update is a 50% off sale on Steam, for anyone interested that has not yet gotten a copy. Here are links to our reviews of both the original Ashes of the Singularity and the Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation expansion. Remember, if you had a copy of the original game prior to the merge last week, you were automatically given a copy of Escalation to unify the community to a single platform.

Source: Stardock [1] and [2]

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NASA Announces 7 Earth-Size Planets Found Around Single Star, with Some in Habitable Zone

22 February 2017 - 02:02 PM

Last year three planets were discovered in the TRAPPIST-1 system and today it has been announced that, with the help of the Spitzer Space Telescope, four more planets have been found there, bringing the total to seven. Using Spitzer's data the sizes of these planets have been measured and first estimates of the inner-six's masses have also been made. Based on that information, these planets are most likely rocky planets, like Earth, and also Earth-like in size. While it will take more observations, it is possible all seven of these worlds possess liquid water on their surfaces, though only three of them are actually within the host-star's habitable zone. The seventh planet, which has not yet had its mass estimated, could be an icy, "snowball-like" world.

While these planets may have some similarities to Earth, the TRAPPIST-1 system is very different. The star is considered an ultra-cool dwarf, which means it is cool enough for even the nearest planet to have liquid water on its surface. In fact, all of these planets are closer to this star than Mercury is to the Sun. The orbits are also so close together that if someone were to stand on the surface of one planet, they may be able to make out geological features and even clouds on another. Being so close to the host star, it is possible the planets are tidally locked, meaning one side is always facing the star, just like how one side of the Moon always faces Earth.

For now we can expect at least NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope, and the Kepler observatory, specifically designed for planet-hunting, to continue studying TRAPPIST-1, which is named for the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope in Chile that originally found the system. This new information will be used to help plan the missions for the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, launching next year with the capability to detect the fingerprints of water, methane, oxygen, ozone, and other chemicals in the planets' atmosphere.



Source: NASA

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