Category Archives: Gadget News

Mount your hard drive… on your RAM?

By Andrew Cunningham

A weird place for an SSD.
Apacer

PC makers do all kinds of things to save space inside their cases, but this is a new one to us: Apacer is apparently sampling sticks of DDR3 desktop RAM that include slots for M.2 SSD add-in boards and CFast CompactFlash cards, allowing you to mount storage devices directly to your RAM rather than using slots on the motherboard. The slots will still use the SATA III interface to transfer data—they’re just mounted to the RAM and they draw power through the RAM slot.

These sticks will support all three lengths of M.2 SSD boards (2242, 2260, and 2280). That’s especially useful because, as AnandTech points out, only one mini-ITX desktop motherboard can directly support full-length M.2 boards. Full-length M.2 boards are necessary to accommodate higher storage capacities—currently available drives top out at 512GB, but 1TB drives are on the horizon.

Connectors visible on top of the DIMMs would likely need to be connected to the SATA connectors on your motherboard; unfortunately it doesn’t look like these can take advantage of the faster PCI-Express flavor of M.2.

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Via: Ars Technica Gadgets


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This thumbdrive hacks computers. “BadUSB” exploit makes devices turn “evil”

By Dan Goodin

When creators of the state-sponsored Stuxnet worm used a USB stick to infect air-gapped computers inside Iran’s heavily fortified Natanz nuclear facility, trust in the ubiquitous storage medium suffered a devastating blow. Now, white-hat hackers have devised a feat even more seminal—an exploit that transforms keyboards, Web cams, and other types of USB-connected devices into highly programmable attack platforms that can’t be detected by today’s defenses.

Dubbed BadUSB, the hack reprograms embedded firmware to give USB devices new, covert capabilities. In a demonstration scheduled at next week’s Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, a USB drive, for instance, will take on the ability to act as a keyboard that surreptitiously types malicious commands into attached computers. A different drive will similarly be reprogrammed to act as a network card that causes connected computers to connect to malicious sites impersonating Google, Facebook or other trusted destinations. The presenters will demonstrate similar hacks that work against Android phones when attached to targeted computers. They say their technique will work on Web cams, keyboards, and most other types of USB-enabled devices.

“Please don’t do anything evil”

“If you put anything into your USB [slot], it extends a lot of trust,” Karsten Nohl, chief scientist at Security Research Labs in Berlin, told Ars. “Whatever it is, there could always be some code running in that device that runs maliciously. Every time anybody connects a USB device to your computer, you fully trust them with your computer. It’s the equivalent of [saying] ‘here’s my computer; I’m going to walk away for 10 minutes. Please don’t do anything evil.”

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Via: Ars Technica Gadgets


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Op-Ed: Tablets really are the new PCs; nobody needs to buy them any more

By Peter Bright

Aurich Lawson / Thinkstock

The tablet market is tapped out. We saw signs of this when Apple reported that its iPad sales were down year-on-year and we’re seeing a similar message from retailers. Re/code’s Walt Mossberg recently talked to Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly, who said that tablet sales had “crashed.”

Global tablet sales are still rising—though less quickly than they once were—but in developed markets the tablet boom may be over. As Apple CFO Luca Maestri said in the company’s earnings call, iPad sales were still growing in developing markets. The slowdown is all in the developed world. Samsung also reports that profits are down after tablet demand fell.

Moreover, Joly reported that PC sales—which the tablet was supposed to kill—have picked up. He attributed that resurgence partially to the end of support of Windows XP.

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Via: Ars Technica Gadgets


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Report: Google+ Photos to be separated from Google+

By Ron Amadeo

Back in April, Vic Gundotra, a senior executive at Google and the leader of Google+, left the company. Shortly afterward, reports surfaced claiming that Gundotra’s departure was part of a plan to back away from the original Google+ strategy of forcing users into the service and to drastically cut the division resources.

A report from Bloomberg claims that the first big service on the chopping block is Google+ Photos, one of the social network’s best features. Bloomberg says the service will be given “more autonomy” from Google+ and “may be rebranded” in order to pull in more people who otherwise wouldn’t use the services thanks to its association with Google+. Separating Google+ Photo from Google+ would seemingly turn it into a Flickr-style service—a standalone photo hosting site that would compete on features and storage options rather than the social network a person chooses to use.

Google+ Photos has a number of features that could help it stand out in the photo hosting space. It has a ton of cloud smarts, which Google calls “Auto-Awesome,” that can automatically tweak photos to look better and can combine several pictures into an animated gif. The one area that would seriously need improvement is the free storage amount, which sits at a paltry 15GB shared across Google Drive, Gmail, and Google+ Photos. The Yahoo-owned Flickr offers 1TB of storage for free.

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Via: Ars Technica Gadgets


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