Hi there, Mega

January 20, 2013 by  
Filed under News

The sequel to Megaupload.com is here and it’s called Mega. Its founder, the infamous Kim Dotcom launched the site with much fanfare today at his New Zealand mansion. Within just two hours Mega received 250,000 user registrations. In fact, as of writing this, the site is down due to user overload.

To say the new Mega has been launched amidst controversy is an understatement. Its launch date comes exactly one year after a raid on Kim Dotcom’s residence last year for alleged piracy through megaupload.com. The authorities were quick to shut down Megaupload, several lawsuits and reports of harassment followed. It was messy business. Further, in August this year the US extradition case against Kim Dotcom begins. However, larger than life Dotcom remained undaunted and promised he’d be back with a bang.

And now he is. The new Mega offers online storage for your files and other data. The free plan will give you 50GB of storage, paid plans range in prices but for Euros 9.99 (about AED 50) per month users receive 500GB of storage and 1TB of bandwidth. Just this offer alone should cause competitors like Dropbox and Skydrive to fret.

But that’s not all that makes Mega stand out amongst rivals. The site’s boasting point is ‘security’ and so Mega generates a 2048-bit RSA key that is required for access to your files. Only users with the key will have access. What this incidentally does, besides making your data ultra secure, is protects the site’s owner from being accused of knowingly storing copyrighted materials because he cannot technically know the content of the files stored—only the user who uploaded the files and/or possesses the key can. In fact, Dotcom has cleverly branded Mega as the ‘Privacy Company’.

Previews for Mega have been positive. The site boasts a clean, simple and easy interface and an open API for developers. Future plans include mobile apps, on-site word processing, calendar and spreadsheet applications, a client for Windows, Mac and Linux and much more.

Whatever your thoughts on piracy on the internet, the Megaupload controversy and the audacious Dotcom, Mega is set to give serious competition to its rivals and be a talking point in the checkered history of the internet. That is, of course, when users can access it.

Mega can be found at mega.co.nz/

ASUS Orion Pro Gaming Headset Review

January 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Audio Equipment, Reviews, Spotlight

Features

The ASUS Orion Pro gaming headset is designed to provide you with a larger than life experience. Firstly it has 50mm neodymium drivers, one of largest in this segment of headphones, with even larger 100mm earcups.

The main headline in the Orion Pro headset is the Republic of Gamers Spitfire USB amplifier that provides 7.1 surround sound as well as an enhanced audio mode specifically for FPS games. The Orion Pro is a direct plug & play device, not requiring any drivers to function properly.

The ASUS Orion Pro comes with three modes, AMP, Surround and FPS, each giving a distinctive sound experience. All of these can be activated at the push of a button and can be run in various combinations as each mode is independent of the other.

Design

Overall the ASUS Orion Pro has a nice solid feel, with thick plastic for basic constructions and both the head restraint and ear cushions come in leatherette. The braided cord with in-line volume controls has a clip too, for easy wearing. So let’s see if the ASUS Orion Pro sound as good as they look.

Sound

AMP – Boost the general audio levels, heightening bass and vocals and general mid-range audio. This mode is generally great for both movies and high bitrate music.

Surround – The 7.1 mode actually just makes everything sound hollow, making it difficult to discern the direction from which the sound is coming. It’s decent in movies, but only just. In games this will actually make things harder as background sound of environment and general audio cues is increased too much.

FPS – Any semblance of surround sound is eliminated as the player gets a more personalized feel of what’s going on screen. To help this feeling of isolation, treble is boosted while vocals feel a bit subdued, and mid-range is reduced as well. The end result is a very crisp experience where you can easily detect enemy movements, but at the cost of not getting a more fulfilling experience due to lack of ambient sound and music. While this mode is abysmal for movies and general music, trance tracks did sound good.

Without Spitfire USB – The audio clarity on the Orion Pro headset is surprisingly good with a direct analog connection to your PC’s soundcard. So good in fact, that when I plugged in the USB amplifier, the normal audio (without any mode turned on) sounded a bit muddy. The 50mm drivers come into their own when directly connected, giving you a more realistic sound experience that was great in movies and especially music.

Conclusion

In all honesty I actually enjoyed the ASUS Orion Pro without the Spitfire USB amplifier, even in games. Sure, the AMP mode gives a nice boost to the audio, but at the cost of clarity. The Surround mode is average at best, while the FPS mode admittedly does give an advantage in competitive games.

That said, you’re paying a premium mostly for the USB amplifier, otherwise the regular (non Pro) Orion headset is an awesome headset. The 50mm drivers with large earcups are make a powerful package, and should be considered by any PC gaming enthusiast.

 

Passwords are no longer safe, Google has an alternative solution

January 20, 2013 by  
Filed under News

It’s no secret that the passwords that we know and hate to remember is no longer the perfect defense to save our sensitive information online. Groups like Anonymous makes it look easy, with powerful hacking methods, and equally powerful PCs to power their cyber terror.

Google, who probably has the whole world’s passwords, has realized this and are spearheading an alternative hardware-based log-in system called Yubico. The idea is here is that users will use a small USB which will host a modified version of Chrome and automatically log-in the user on a PC.

Of course, this is not a perfect system. Considering how we, as humans, are great at remembering our keys, wallets and other valuables, the USB will be another thing to worry about keeping safe. If lost, this could pose immediately security risk, and for the user, it would be impossible to log-in without it.

Google also recognizes that and will have in place a “form of screen unlock” which might use traditional passwords.

While the system looks seemingly more secure and might turn out to be quite great when it’s finished, the daunting task for Google is to get sites to accept it and incorporate it into their websites. Google says that “others have tried similar approaches but achieved little success in the consumer world. Although we recognize that our initiative will likewise remain speculative until we’ve proven large scale acceptance, we’re eager to test it with other websites.”

The way I see it, the log-in system cannot be limited to just a USB card. Google needs to work on other, ‘everyday items’ that could also be used as a log-in  authenticator, like a smartphone.

For now, this technology seems like a long-way off from being put into practical use. Till then, we will have to do with our good ol’ passwords.

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