Be prepared to be inundated with Barcelona coverage, as AMD's long anticipated Barcelona quad-core Opterons make their debut today. Preliminary benchmarks look promising, with pricing set to offer a pretty good bang-for-buck ratio when compared with Intel's quad-core Xeon refresh in the form of Tigerton. Some sites taking in-depth looks include AnandTech, TechwareLabs, and The Tech Report, who concludes that "AMD now faces some harsh realities. For one, it is not going to capture the overall performance lead from Intel soon[...] Given what we've seen, AMD will probably have to achieve something close to clock speed parity with Intel in order to compete for the performance crown. On top of that, Intel is preparing new 45nm "Harpertown" Xeons for launch some time soon.
Texas in Tirade over Text Messaging Assignment
It should come as no surprise that today's youth would take text messaging shorthand and apply it to their schoolwork, but in Texas, text messaging was the homework. One middle school math teacher tasked his sixth grade students with deciphering 20 abbreviated messages, perhaps in an attempt to train the next $25K text message champ. The kids were probably thrilled to receive such a l337 assignment from their math class, but with messages like "keeping parents clueless" and "nude in front of the computer," parental units were less than amused. If the music teacher's looking for an assignment, we came up with an idea...
Beginning of M.A.T.T. (Mothers Against Teen Texting)?
And in other text messaging news (appar3ntly a 40t t0pik y0!), California and a handful of other states are considering banning 16 and 17 year old teens from using electronics while driving (sounds sane to us!). Violations would range from $20 (first offense) to $50 (subsequent offenses), with no point infractions, and drivers 18 and above would be unaffected altogether. The bill's expected to land on Governor Arnold Swartzenegger's (*chuckle*) desk later this week.
Company Trashes 1,300 Unopened Mail-in-Rebates
We're all well aware of the tomfoolery that takes place with mail-in-rebates (like waiting 3 years for a check), and if insisting on playing the cash-back game, you'd be well advised to keep copies of everything. If you don't, your forms and documentation could go straight to the garbage, like the 1,300 mail-in-rebate applications for Fry's Electronics found in a dumpster outside of their processing company, Vastech. And these weren't denied claims either, but unopened forms. When confronted, company owner Weizhen Tan attributed the neglect to a "bad employee," then later claimed it was likely done by a friend of the family who was helping Vastech get caught up processing rebates (surely there's a better way). MercuryNews has the full story, though you'll need to register an account, or take a jaunt over to BugMeNot.com.
HD-DVD and Blu-ray Could Both Lose
The battle between HD-DVD and Blu-ray continues to wage on, and despite the see-saw skirmishes, both of them could end up on the endangered species list. At this years Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) trade show, a company showed off a third high definition format, HD VMD. Showing up this late in the game rarely bodes well, but HD VDM boasts a lower cost both for players and media than either of the stalemated foes. It costs less because it still uses red laser technology, as opposed to the blue laser found in HD-DVD and Blu-ray. Capacity tops out at up to 30GB, compared to 15GB (HD-DVD) and 25-50GB (Blu-ray), while maintaining a 40 Mbit/s transfer rate (HD-DVD and Blu-ray operate at 36.55 and 35.95 Mbit/s, respectively). Are consumers and studios ready to support a third format in the ongoing two-format tango? Time will be the judge, but with no clear winner yet emerging, their chances aren't unreasonable.
Secure with Tor? Maybe Not
Users of the Tor network assume that their web surfing habits are kept anonymous and their information secure, but could they still be vulnerable? Swedish security consultant Dan Egerstad proves the answer is yes, and he did it by posting the usernames and passwords for 100 email accounts. As part of a research project, Dan set up five Tor exit nodes in various locations on the internet, and believes he's not the only one to figure out the exploit. Victims include some pretty big names too, such as the embassies belonging to Australia, Japan, and others, as well as accounts from the foreign ministry of Iran, United Kingdom's visa office in Nepal, and India's Ministry of Defence.
Skype Virus Spreading
This last minute news tidbit comes courtesy of Maximum PC forum flame fanner, Spider Monkey. In the midst of surfing the web, a skype IM appeared from the mischevious monkey, only this time he wasn't the culprit behind the hijinks. Instead, there's a virus making the rounds that implores you to click a link or two to view a photo, promptly infecting you with the w32/Ramex.A worm (and other variations) if you fall prey. There's a thread on Skype's forums with removal instructions should it be too late, along with the gamut of anti-virus programs, who Skype is working with to alert them of the threat and to roll out updated definitions. With the recent service outtage, it's another PR hit for the popular VoIP software, but unlike this news poster, at least they don't have to explain to inquiring minds why Spider Monkey was on their buddy list in the first place. ZING!
**Do NOT follow the links in the above screenie. While they appear to link to JPEG picture files, both URLs are attempts to spread a virus.**