We Got Served http://www.wegotserved.com Thu, 24 Apr 2014 06:59:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9 Thecus NAS Devices “Confirmed Safe” From OpenSSL Heartbleed Bug http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/24/thecus-nas-devices-confirmed-safe-openssl-heartbleed-bug/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/24/thecus-nas-devices-confirmed-safe-openssl-heartbleed-bug/#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 06:52:43 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=68938 NAS specialist Thecus has announced that its entire range of network attached storage devices has been confirmed safe from the OpenSSL Heartbleed bug.

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NAS specialist Thecus has announced that its entire range of network attached storage devices has been confirmed safe from the OpenSSL Heartbleed bug.

In an announcement this week, the company stated that although its devices make use of the OpenSSL protocol affected by the bug, “the specific branches adopted by Thecus’ software development team are in fact entirely unaffected by Heartbleed (as it only affects versions 1.0.1 through 1.0.1f)”.

Third party apps for the company’s NAS platform may require patching, however, Thecus confirmed. “ThecusOS5 and OS6 were unaffected but additional apps are being revised and updated by their respective developers so that Heartbleed fixes would be swiftly implemented”, the announcement confirmed.

So “confirmed safe” may be an overstatement for those users with third-party apps installed, despite the core OS being unaffected. Thecus owners should check the company’s app store to receive updated for third party apps in the coming days and weeks.

Thecus’ announcement comes days after QNAP released an update for their NAS operating system which patched the Heartbleed bug. Synology too have released an update for their DSM 5.0 operating system which prevents unauthorised access to data via the now infamous vulnerability.

 

 

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Building a Windows HTPC: Part 8 – Configure Windows Audio for DTS and Dolby Digital Surround Sound Support http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/22/building-windows-htpc-part-8-configure-windows-audio-dts-dolby-digital-surround-sound-support/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/22/building-windows-htpc-part-8-configure-windows-audio-dts-dolby-digital-surround-sound-support/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 17:09:24 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=68914 The latest part of our guide to building a Windows Home Theater PC focuses on configuring Windows audio settings correctly to deliver fabulous 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound.

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Building a Windows Home Theatre PC

In this new How To Series at We Got Served, we take a look a building a modern, high spec, small footprint home theatre PC, running Windows. To get the full 513 page eBook guide, available in PDF, ePub and mobi formats, head over to We Got Served Store.

So, we have our HTPC hardware setup with Windows on board. Boot times and power management optimized – things are going great! But you’ll have noticed that we haven’t actually played any media on our HTPC yet – PC, tick. HT? Okay, let’s get that sorted out.

If you cast your minds back to the beginning of the book, you’ll recall that we were going to hook up our example HTPC to a modern Audio Video (AV) receiver via a HDMI connection. That provides a very simple video connection from our HTPC into the AV Receiver which itself is connected to our big screen TV.

That connection is providing a fabulous image on-screen – but another great benefit of utilising an AV Receiver is of course surround sound! Whether it’s Blu-ray movies, streaming media or our ripped audio collection we want the best possible sound for our Entertainment and that’s another area where the modern HTPC excels. So, in this chapter, let’s walk through configuration of our HTPC’s audio settings and we’ll test out just what it can do.

Bitstreaming vs Decoding

Before we get hands-on with our audio settings, I need to briefly tell you about a couple of audio concepts – Bitstreaming and Decoding. Depending on whether you decide to use an AV Receiver, or pump your audio straight from your HTPC to speakers (or the TV itself) then you may need to vary your HTPC cofiguration a little – it all hinges on where we’d like our audio decoding.

Take a look at a DVD or Blu-Ray sleeve, and you’ll see a variety of acronyms that explain the standards used to encode the surround sound audio on your favourite movie. Do the terms DTS, DTS-HD, Dolby Digital and Dolby TrueHD sound familiar? They’re some of the audio standards Hollywood uses to create those amazing effects and soundtracks you love.

There’s a whole array of these standards, and the good news is that most modern AV Receivers support all of those standards – ensuring that your movies sound their best. But wait! If we’re using an AV Receiver, we need to ensure our HTPC passes that audio correctly to the receiver so it can be decoded and played back on our surround sound speakers. This is called Bitstreaming. Hollywood

encodes the movie’s audio on to your Blu-ray disc, you play the disc on your HTPC and rather than have the PC decode the audio, you simply want the PC to pass it over to the AV receiver for decoding and playback.

You can tell when the AV Receiver is correctly receiving encoded (Bitstreamed) audio from your HTPC (or any other device) as you’ll see a DTS or Dolby Digital graphic appear on the receiver’s display. So, you should ensure that your HTPC can support audio bitstreaming, like our Intel NUC. Intel’s Core i3 and higher processors have supported HDMI Audio Pass Through for native Dolby TrueHD & DTS-HD Master Audio bitstreaming for some time, so I’d always recommend at least a Core i3 processor for your HTPC.

The alternative to bitstreaming is software decoding. In this scenario, an application on your PC recognises the Dolby or DTS encoded audio and decodes it on the PC before sending it as unencoded audio to your speakers or TV. Some people prefer to decode on the HTPC so they can tweak audio settings to the Nth degree, but for convenience, I’d generally recommend bitstreaming to an AV receiver and letting your dedicated hardware do the job it was designed for. That said, I’ll cover both options in this chapter so you can see how each works.

Install Your Windows Audio Drivers

Before we do anything, we’d better install the audio drivers for our Intel NUC HTPC. Without drivers installed, nothing is going to work. So, head over to the Intel website (or your own motherboard manufacturer’s support site) and grab the latest audio drivers for your PC.

Once downloaded, install your drivers and reboot the PC when asked.

audio driver 1 Building a Windows HTPC: Part 8 – Configure Windows Audio for DTS and Dolby Digital Surround Sound Support

 

Once you’re back up and running, head to the Control Panel and click on Hardware and Sound > Sound > Manage audio devices. 

sound Building a Windows HTPC: Part 8 – Configure Windows Audio for DTS and Dolby Digital Surround Sound Support

 

Ensure the correct audio device is set to default for your HTPC (you may have multiple devices available, depending on your manufacturer). In our case, we want the Intel Display Audio device set as default. If necessary, highlight the device and click Set Default.

default Building a Windows HTPC: Part 8 – Configure Windows Audio for DTS and Dolby Digital Surround Sound Support

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Building a Windows HTPC: Part 7 – Install Windows 8.1 http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/21/building-windows-htpc-part-7-install-windows-8-1/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/21/building-windows-htpc-part-7-install-windows-8-1/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 08:35:10 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=68857 In part seven of our guide to building a Windows home theater PC, we install Windows 8.1.

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Building a Windows Home Theatre PC

In this new How To Series at We Got Served, we take a look a building a modern, high spec, small footprint home theatre PC, running Windows. To get the full 513 page eBook guide, available in PDF, ePub and mobi formats, head over to We Got Served Store.

With our hardware built and BIOS configured, we can now go ahead and install an operating system on our Home Theatre PC.

Can you remember the days when software shipped on CDs and DVDs? Certainly in some parts of the world, that’s still the default method for getting software installed on to a PC – pop down to your local big box electrical retailer and you’ll probably still see boxed software available.

win7 Building a Windows HTPC: Part 7   Install Windows 8.1

 

Whilst you’ll be able to find Windows 8 boxed media in stores, it’s increasingly likely that those who don’t buy the operating system pre-installed on hardware will download the software rather than purchase it on DVD.

If you do buy on DVD, then you know what to do – slip the DVD into a drive, and run the installer. If, however, you download Windows 8 in ISO form – via an authorised reseller, from Microsoft or via one of the company’s MSDN or Technet software distribution programmes, then you have a choice. You can burn that ISO to DVD using a third-party utility, or Microsoft’s own ISO burning app, built into Windows 7 and above. But the more modern approach is to drop that ISO file on to a USB drive, and perform a lightning fast installation. As our HTPC currently does not have its Blu-ray drive connected, that’s pretty much essential for us.

It’s that latter route we’ll walk through now, using the latest release of Windows, version 8.1.

Which Version of Windows Do I Need?

You’re probably aware that Microsoft sells Windows in a variety of flavours (known as SKUs or Stock Keeping Units). Each version of Windows offers differing features for Home and Business users – a full comparison of features is available over at Microsoft’s website: http://www.microsoft.com/en- us/windows/enterprise/products-and-technologies/windows-8-1/compare/default.aspx

Whilst it’s more expensive, I generally recommend the Pro edition of Windows for connected homes, as it’s the cheapest SKU that allows a remote desktop connection (which I find pretty essential in homes with multiple PCs). For HTPC use, it’s perhaps even more essential to use Windows 8 Pro as it’s required if you wish to install Microsoft’s (still excellent) Windows Media Center application, which can be used for Live and Recorded TV, Music, Video and Photos.

If you’re already running a “non-Pro” copy of Windows 8.1 on your desktop you can upgrade it to Pro with Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 Pro Pack (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows-8/featurepacks) for £99.99.

If you’re debating whether you need the 32-bit or 64-bit release of Windows then go for the 64-bit edition. Nowadays, pretty much all modern hardware will support Windows 64-bit editions.

So, pick up a copy of Windows 8.1 Pro and let’s get it installed.

Download and Install the Microsoft Windows 7 USB Tool

Yes, that’s right – we’ll install Windows 8.1 using an app called the Windows 7 USB tool. Don’t worry about it, Microsoft will update the branding at some point, I’m sure. The Windows USB tool is a small application that takes a Windows ISO file, copies it on to your USB drive and adds the special sauce required to make the drive bootable.

Download the tool from http://images2.store.microsoft.com/prod/clustera/framework/w7udt/1.0/ en-us/Windows7-USB-DVD-tool.exe - it’s a 2.6 MB file.

usbtool Building a Windows HTPC: Part 7   Install Windows 8.1

 

Download the tool, then unzip the file. Double click the resulting application and the tool will in- stall.

win7 1 Building a Windows HTPC: Part 7   Install Windows 8.1

 

Run the Windows 7 USB Tool

Once installed, you’ll find the tool listed in your Start menu. Plug in your USB drive (which should be 4GB or greater in size) and start up the tool.

win7 2 Building a Windows HTPC: Part 7   Install Windows 8.1

 

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QNAP Fixes Heartbleed OpenSSL Vulnerability With System Update http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/18/qnap-fixes-heartbleed-openssl-vulnerability-system-update/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/18/qnap-fixes-heartbleed-openssl-vulnerability-system-update/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 12:54:42 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=68854 NAS Specialist released critical update to patch Heartbleed OpenSSL vulnerability.

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QNAP NAS server owners should check out the company’s website at the earliest opportunity, where they’ll find a system update available which patches a critical OpenSSL vulnerability related to the Heartbleed bug.

In an announcement today, QNAP said that the Heartbleed bug currently affects versions 4.0 and 4.1 of the company’s QTS operating system. Versions 3.8 and earlier use a different version of OpenSSL and are not affected by the OpenSSL Heartbleed bug.

As described on the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures website, the OpenSSL 1.0.1 TLS and DTLS implementation, before 1.0.1g, does not properly process Heartbeat Extension packets which allow remote attackers to obtain sensitive information by reading private keys (aka the Heartbleed bug).
“We strongly urge users of vulnerable Turbo NAS systems to update their firmware,” said Jason Hsu, Product Manager of QNAP. “Users are also recommended to contact their SSL providers to regenerate their SSL CSR/keys for server protection.”

To obtain the system updates (QTS 4.0.7 and QTS 4.1.0 RC2) with recompiled OpenSSL, QNAP users are directed to the QNAP website
or have their Turbo NAS perform a live update via the QTS control panel.

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Configuring a Wi-Fi Connection in Congested Neighbourhoods http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/18/configuring-wi-fi-connection-congested-neighbourhoods/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/18/configuring-wi-fi-connection-congested-neighbourhoods/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 12:36:28 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=68847 As the number of wi-fi connections increases in homes around the world, finding a strong, stable and speedy wireless connection can take a little work. Check out one reader's guide to analysing a wi-fi network with InSSIDer.

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This is a guest-post from WGS reader Greg Brougham, who is sharing his experiences with a common issue – configuring a Wi-Fi connection in an neighbourhood with heavy network connection. We’d love to hear your experiences with this problem, and steps you took to get a stronger Wi-Fi signal. Share your learning in the comments section below. 

Introduction

When I first set my own network up there was no other units in the area but over the last few years as the telcos have entered the ISP market they have become ubiquitous. This is not helped by BT FON devices here in the UK that include two radios and therefore taken up two standard channels allocations in the 2.4 GHz.

I upgraded my main WiFi router a couple of years ago as some of the devices I was purchasing support 5 GHz. This helped me but one of my daughters then started complaining of poor WiFi connectivity in other areas of the house. This prompted me to use inSSIDer and have a look at what was going on.

Background

There is an excellent note by Connect802 on WiFi frequencies and band allocations that provides an overview of channel allocation and bandwidths. The key point to understand is that there are effectively only 3 channels in the 2.4 GHz frequency range that can be used due to the use of a 20 MHz bandwidth (each channel is only separate by 5 MHz). Yes, you can use other channels such as 3 or 9 but if you are using these a congested area you are not only affecting others using the same channels but also those using the standard channel allocations either side of you. When the same channel is in use and there is congestion then the WiFi standard provides for negotiation of access.

There is also the issue of 40 MHz channels as a lot of devices are now being configured to ‘auto’ select the channel. The issue here is there is effectively only one 40 MHz channel in the 2.4 GHz range that can be used – so in a congested area you should ensure you select the narrower 20 MHz band allocation. Yes, the use of 40 MHz will give an improvement in throughput but if there are a large number of wireless network clients in your vicinity then you are just reducing the channels that are available that can be used to reduce contention.

Analysis

The following shows the analysis output from inSSIDer completed in one area of the house. What is interesting to note is that some people are making use of non-standard channels, such as 7 and 9. This is not only leading to interference between BTWiFI, BTHomeHub-9EA0 and PB1 but is also interfering with the unit using the standard channel 6 and 11 allocations such as AbleTasman, BTHub4-FJPC and EE-BrightBox-hep7dw.

There are also four units operating in the 5 GHz frequency and two of these are using 40 MHz across channels 36 and 40 – therefore interfering with each other. If the BTHub4-FJPC used band 36 and BTWifi-with-FON 40 the contention in the 5GHz band could be removed.

sside Configuring a Wi Fi Connection in Congested Neighbourhoods

 

Changes

I read the MetaGeeks’ Designing a Dual-Band Wireless Network as background – it provides some good ideas on the structure a dual band WiFi network, which is essentially what I have.  To address this I’m looking to move my main access point units to 5 GHz and have these operating at the end of the house with a 2.4 GHz unit providing coverage for the other electronics that don’t support the higher frequency. I have also disabled the radio on the unit provide by my ISP (a Be Box) to reduce contention in the 2.4 GHz frequency range (I had it set to channel 1).

With regards to channel allocations I’ve taken the recommendation of inSSIDer. The challenge is that this provides a view at a point in time and this will change as people change ISP/telco or upgrade their equipment. This means that you need check this from time to time to ensure that the allocations that you have made are still valid.

Conclusion

If you live in a flat or an environment in which there are a large number of WiFi access point you need your neighbours to be sensible as you are, otherwise going to end up with WiFi interference and that film you are trying to stream on Amazon Live or Netflix is going to be unwatchable. It helps to be informed and really any device should be set to one of the three standard changes for 2.4 GHz with a channel bandwidth of 20 MHz. A similar approach should be taken in the 5 GHz range but here it is a little more straight forward as there are 4 channels typically to exploit.

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New Powerline 500 Wireless Kit From TRENDnet Now Shipping http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/17/new-powerline-500-wireless-kit-trendnet-now-shipping/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/17/new-powerline-500-wireless-kit-trendnet-now-shipping/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 06:38:56 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=68841 TRENDnet's Powerline 500 Wireless Kit offers high speed wired and wireless network connections over mains wiring.

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Networking specialist TRENDnet today announced the availability of its latest Powerline 500 hardware.

The TRENDnet TPL-410APK Powerline 500 Wireless Kit New Powerline 500 Wireless Kit From TRENDnet Now Shipping extends a home wireless network using existing electrical lines. Included in the box you’ll find two TRENDnet Powerline adapters (TPL-406E + TPL-410AP) which automatically connect when plugged into the mains courtesy of a pre-encrypted Powerline signal.

“The TPL-410APK is well suited to extend a wireless network in large homes or homes built with concrete or masonry construction which degrades wireless signals,” stated Zak Wood, director of global marketing for TRENDnet. “Installation couldn’t be easier. Simply plug in the adapters and you’re up and running.”

Speeds of up to 500 Mbps are available using the Powerline kit and your choice of up to two wired connections – however, one of the adapters – the TPL-410AP – also serves as a 2.4 GHz Wireless Access Point, offering Wireless N speeds of up to 300 Mbps.

Adapter 1: TPL-406E
Powerline 500 AV Nano Adapter

  • 500 Mbps networking from an electrical outlet
  • Compact form factor saves space
  • Up to 80% power savings
  • Advanced AES data encryption

Adapter 2: TPL-410AP
Powerline 500 AV Wireless Access Point

  • Extend your wireless network with this Powerline adapter
  • 500 Mbps Powerline – pre-encrypted for your convenience
  • 300 Mbps Wireless N (2.4 GHz) – pre-encrypted for your convenience
  • TRENDnet Powerline adapters auto-connect out of the box
  • Two Ethernet ports
  • No CD installation: adapters auto-connect out of the box
  • Connects over electrical lines, for houses up to 5000 square feet (465 sq. m)

The TRENDnet TPL-410APK Powerline 500 Wireless Kit New Powerline 500 Wireless Kit From TRENDnet Now Shipping is now available, priced at $124.99.

MoreTRENDnet TPL-410APK Powerline 500 Wireless Kit New Powerline 500 Wireless Kit From TRENDnet Now Shipping

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Building a Windows HTPC: Part 6 – Maximise Responsiveness With Intel Rapid Start and Smart Connect http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/14/building-windows-htpc-part-6-maximise-responsiveness-intel-rapid-start-smart-connect/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/14/building-windows-htpc-part-6-maximise-responsiveness-intel-rapid-start-smart-connect/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 12:16:26 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=68807 Get your Home Theater PC to boot and wake from sleep in a flash with Intel technologies such as Intel Rapid Start, Intel Smart Connect and Fast Boot.

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Building a Windows Home Theatre PC

In this new How To Series at We Got Served, we take a look a building a modern, high spec, small footprint home theatre PC, running Windows. To get the full 513 page eBook guide, available in PDF, ePub and mobi formats, head over to We Got Served Store.

In the last part of our guide, we walked through configuring the UEFI BIOS on a typical HTPC. The example we used was from an ASUS motherboard and whilst you’ll find broad consistency on configuration options from manufacturer to manufacturer, vendors will develop bespoke features that may prove beneficial to an HTPC owner.

Whilst I’m not going to repeat the last chapter with a full rundown of the Intel NUC’s Visual BIOS (as they brand it), I do want to spend a little time highlighting two specific features – Intel Rapid Start and Smart Connect. These features are available on a number of Intel motherboards – check Intel.com for a list of supported devices.

Intel Rapid Start

Responsiveness is critical to a strong HTPC solution – when you hit the remote button, press a key or tap the touchscreen (depending on your hardware) you want your HTPC to be awake immediately and delivering your command.

Intel’s Rapid Start feature is designed to minimise the delay between your command and the Intel NUC responding when it is in Hibernation (also known as an S5 Sleep State). Intel boasts that when Rapid Start is enabled, the computer will wake from Hibernation almost as quickly as from Sleep (S3 Sleep, for the technical) with the benefit of drawing almost zero power when in that hibernation mode.

To enable Intel Rapid Start, we need to change some settings in the NUC’s BIOS before creating a separate hibernation partition on our SSD. Once that’s complete, we can get the Intel Rapid Start application downloaded, installed and configured. Before getting started, I should say that Intel Rapid Start should only be used with solid state disks, rather than conventional, mechanical hard drives.

Step 1: Configure the Intel NUC BIOS 

Boot up (or restart) the Intel NUC and press F2 during the initial start-up (known as the Power On Self Test, or POST) to enter the NUC’s Visual BIOS.

BIOS1 Building a Windows HTPC: Part 6   Maximise Responsiveness With Intel Rapid Start and Smart Connect

Click on Advanced Setup and then click Power.

BIOS2 Building a Windows HTPC: Part 6   Maximise Responsiveness With Intel Rapid Start and Smart Connect

 

You should see check boxes for Intel’s Smart Connect Technology and Rapid Start Technology. Make sure both are checked.

BIOS3 Building a Windows HTPC: Part 6   Maximise Responsiveness With Intel Rapid Start and Smart Connect

 

Press the F10 key to save your BIOS Settings and boot into Windows.

Step 2: Create a Hibernation Partition

With the BIOS set-up, we now need to create a separate partition on our SSD which Intel Rapid Start uses for Hibernation data.

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]]> http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/14/building-windows-htpc-part-6-maximise-responsiveness-intel-rapid-start-smart-connect/feed/ 0 Google Glass Available to All for a Day, as Google Strives for Mainstream Appeal http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/14/google-glass-available-day-google-strives-mainstream-appeal/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/14/google-glass-available-day-google-strives-mainstream-appeal/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 07:30:18 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=68803 With Google Glass available tomorrow for a one-day sale, the search giant is working hard to convince consumers of the viability of smart eyewear.

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With Google Glass holding a position as one of the most divisive pieces of technology we’ve seen over the last few years, Google are having to work hard to make the device – and indeed the whole concept of smart eyewear – less bizarre to mainstream consumers.

Tomorrow, following an exclusive “Explorer” beta programme, the search giant is making Google Glass available for all to buy for just one day. By “all”, I should qualify that means “US residents over 18 years of age with $1500 to spare”. Up to 8000 people are thought to be a part of the existing Explorer programme.

glass Google Glass Available to All for a Day, as Google Strives for Mainstream Appeal

The decision to open up access to the Google Glass Explorer programme follows a number of communications from Google which appear designed to “normalise” the Google Glass concept. A few weeks ago, the company announced a partnership with Ray Ban and Oakley brand-owners Luxottica to collaborate on new designer frames for Google Glass.

More tellingly, Google released a blog post last month attempting to pop ten popular myths about Google Glass. The list includes:

  1. Glass is the ultimate distraction from the real world
  2. Glass is always on and recording everything
  3. Glass Explorers are technology-worshipping geeks
  4. Glass is ready for prime time
  5. Glass does facial recognition (and other dodgy things)
  6. Glass covers your eye(s)
  7. Glass is the perfect surveillance device
  8. Glass is only for those privileged enough to afford it
  9. Glass is banned… EVERYWHERE
  10. Glass marks the end of privacy

So, Google Glass – cool or creepy? Clearly, Google are working hard to convince you it’s the former and whilst tomorrow’s open sale may well be popular amongst early adopters (see Myth 3) Google’s recent announcements show there’s still a lot of work to be done to convince the masses.

To keep up to date with wearables news, head over to our new website We are able.

MoreGoogle Glass Explorer Programme

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Review: HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/12/review-hp-proliant-microserver-gen8/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/12/review-hp-proliant-microserver-gen8/#comments Sat, 12 Apr 2014 13:09:56 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=68757 The HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 offers considerable feature and performance enhancements on its predecessor, but gains significant complexity to manage and support.

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The HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 Review: HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 is the latest model in a popular range of budget, small footprint servers loved by prosumers, small business owners and IT consultants alike. Heavy discounting and promotions from HP have resulted in thousands of MicroServers being sold around the world – a reasonably decent spec, low price and a server that was easy to set up and use made for a fabulous combination.

With the Gen8, HP has made some bold steps and feature enhancements which radically upgrade the MicroServer proposition. New Enterprise-grade features such as Intelligent Provisioning for server set-up, Integrated Lights-Out for remote administration and server monitoring, support for HP’s range of small business networking components and hey, even removable faceplate kits add up to a very different beast than the Gen8′s predecessors.

The HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 ships in three core configurations with a base model (the G1610T) powered by a dual-core, 2.3 Ghz Intel Celeron G1610T processor, 2 GB RAM and HP’s Dynamic Smart Array B120i/ZM storage controller thrown in for good measure. Options allow you to step up to 4 GB RAM or upgrade the processor to the 2.5 GHz Intel Pentium G2020T. Note that on all models, the four drive bays included with the HP MicroServer Gen8 are not hot-swappable.

Our review unit, sent to us by HP, is the G1610T with the Intel Celeron processor with 8GB RAM in support.

Other upgrade options at purchase include HP’s own SATA hard drives (rebranded Seagate drives by the looks of it), a DVD-RW optical drive, a TPM module and a dizzying array of premium support options. With a base price of around £370, you can pick up the HP MicroServer cheaply (look around for cashback deals too) – spec up from the basics, and add in a server operating system (other than Windows Home Server 2011) and you’ll be clearing over £1000 quickly.

 

From a design perspective, the new MicroServer retains its small footprint but sees a fresh new look. A  punched, removable, silver drive bay door (without a key lock, although drives can be secured internally) replaces the lockable door of the previous model with an indicator LED dominating the bottom of the chassis. Two USB 2.0 ports are positioned at the front for convenience and you’ll find a lot for an integrated, slimline DVD-RW drive if purchased.

Around the back, you’ll find twin Gigabit Ethernet sockets, twin USB 3.0 ports plus a further two USB 2.0 ports, a VGA socket for monitor connection and HP’s iLO port. Access to the Gen8′s internals is toolless, courtesy of twin thumbscrews which allow the outer chassis to be removed.

The Gen8′s design is certainly a step forward and the server is well equipped for prosumer and small business server use. Jazz it up with the optional coloured faceplates and you’ll have a server that looks the business. But how does it perform?

Installation

Alas, what HP give with one hand, they frustrate with the other. Whereas the new HP MicroServer Gen 8 includes a range of Enterprise-grade features to support your small business (or home), setting up the server is frustrating. In fact, it’s one of the most frustrating experiences we’ve had installing any small server in the last seven years. It can be done, don’t worry – but it requires patience. A lot of patience.

On the hardware front the key issue is drive installation. Like previous MicroServers, HP includes four drive bays on the new Gen8 which are located behind the front door. However, forget tool-less drive trays – not only do you have to screw the drives into the trays, the screws fitted are Torx screws and therefore can’t be fitted with a standard screwdriver. HP helpfully supplies a T10/T15 Torx key which clips behind the bay door to assist drive installation but it’s very fiddly and will take some time to fit your drives. You need to first remove the two securing brackets HP has had to fit to each drive tray to keep the tray solid when not in use, and then fit your drives.

The drive bays themselves are plastic and very flimsy indeed, wobbling around when you remove the securing brackets. It’s easy to see the cost engineering in action, but considering storage installation is likely to be one of the first tasks required by the user, the experience devalues the HP MicroServer which is a real shame.

HP MicroServer Gen8 Drive Bay Review: HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8

Once I’d spent the 30 minutes (!) or so installing my four 3TB Seagate hard drives in the HP Microserver Gen8, it was time to get an operating system installed. You may well be able to find the HP MicroServer for sale fully loaded with drives and an OS (and as you’ll discover, I thoroughly recommend you do), but many will be purchasing the server hardware and installing the OS themselves.

New to the Gen8 is HP’s Intelligent Provisioning setup feature – when you first boot the HP MicroServer, you’ll struggle to install an OS in the usual way straight from a powering on the device. You’ll need to initialise the server first using Intelligent Provisioning. Think of this as a hardware “out of box experience” which helps you configure specific features such as the BIOS System time and region settings, configure your RAID storage array and ensure the Gen8 is running the most up to date system software.

Other advanced features includes the configuration of a remote access support connection, if you’ve purchased such a service and there’s an impressive selection of storage management tweaks you can make during provisioning, should you have the time and inclination.

The provisioning wizard is reasonably friendly but those new to server provisioning may need to take a breath and walk through configuration carefully. Our review model, running older firmware, simply refused to install Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials incurring an impressive amount of frustration and swearing.

HP’s Intelligent Provisioning feature should allow direct download and installation of firmware updates – even without an operating system installed. In use, I found that feature to be patchy, with the server often complaining about a lack of a network connection or downloading gigabytes worth of updates that then refused to install.  Moving to manual updates, a review of the MicroServer’s download and update support pages is likely to prompt a lot of head scratching even amongst seasoned professionals.

HP MicroServer Gen8 errors Review: HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8

I managed to get the HP MicroServer to accept one set of manual updates (requiring download and burning of an ISO file to disc), but the server needed additional upgrades to accept Microsoft’s new OS platform. Unfortunately, despsite repeated attempts and a full day of trying to upgrade the server firmware utilising HP’s automatic and manual processes, I gave up. Fortunately, with an MSDN subscription at hand, I could install an earlier version of Windows Server 2012 Essentials to try out the hardware.

Sad to say, even trying to install Windows Server 2012 Essentials using Intelligent Provisioning failed due to the same partitioning error, so I abandoned HP’s feature all together and installed the operating system manually. Clearly, some kind of software update for Intelligent Provisioning is required, but if the systems built to update firmware fail, things look very bleak indeed for the Gen8 Microserver. Going forward, obviously HP will ship the MicroServer with up to date firmware to support Windows Server 2012 R2, but that same scenario may well occur when you subsequently decide to migrate to Microsoft’s next release, who knows?

Overall, compared to previous HP MicroServer models, the Gen8 certainly includes more installation features which may please IT consultants installing these boxes in scale but for the tech-savvy small business owner and prosumer that wants to self-install, the installation experience overall feels overly complex compared to competitor devices such as Western Digital’s Sentinel series. Add to that HP’s bewildering decision to start charging for firmware updates for out of warranty servers (with extended warranty options weighing in around half the cost of the server itself) and it’s an inauspicious start for the HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8.

But let’s press on.

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Linksys WRT1900AC Wireless AC Dual Band Router AC1900 Now Shipping http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/12/linksys-wrt1900ac-wireless-ac-dual-band-router-ac1900-now-shipping/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/12/linksys-wrt1900ac-wireless-ac-dual-band-router-ac1900-now-shipping/#comments Sat, 12 Apr 2014 06:59:21 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=68781 Linksys WRT1900AC Wireless AC Dual Band Router AC1900, announced at CES 2014, is now available to pre-order.

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Back in January, Linksys announced the retrotastic Linksys WRT1900AC Wireless AC Dual Band Router AC1900 Linksys WRT1900AC Wireless AC Dual Band Router AC1900 Now Shipping - a modern take on a classic router.

The WRT1900AC Linksys WRT1900AC Wireless AC Dual Band Router AC1900 Now Shipping combines a modern 802.11ac Wi-Fi router with the classic stylings of iconic WRT54G that was introduced 11 years ago by the company. The new WRT is now shipping, equipped with a dual-core 1.2 GHz processor, 128MB Flash memory, eSata and USB ports.

Linksys has also been collaborating with OpenWrt to make sure that an Open Source alternative is available in the coming weeks. “The history of OpenWrt goes back more than a decade when it all began with a project to hack and modify the Linksys WRT54G. A lot has changed since then,” said Gregers Petersen, relationship manager at OpenWrt. “Today OpenWrt is a complete embedded Linux distribution that enables users to be innovative and create new solutions and functions. Other key elements of OpenWrt are source code transparency, security and extensive package repositories. We see it as a very positive development to have collaborated directly with the Linksys engineering team on the new WRT1900AC router. As a result of that consumers will have the freedom of choice between the Linksys default firmware and OpenWrt. The OpenWrt developers recognise the potential of the collaboration with Linksys, and the opportunities it brings for more devices and solutions.”

New features have been developed for the Linksys WRT1900AC Wireless AC Dual Band Router AC1900 Linksys WRT1900AC Wireless AC Dual Band Router AC1900 Now Shipping since the original launch at January’s CES show. The new WRT can now be configured as a range extender or wireless bridge.  Software features have also been added including support for the No-IP dynamic DNS service. Linksys is also planning to add Wi-Fi Scheduling and an OpenVPN based VPN Server to the WRT in a future firmware update to enable users to establish a secure remote connection to the router from anywhere in the world.

WRT1900AC Hardware Specifications

  • 80211ac Wi-Fi (backwards compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n)
  • Speeds up to 1300Mbps on the 5Ghz band
  • Speeds up to 600Mbps on the 2.4 Ghz band
  • Gigabit WAN & LAN ports
  • 1 x eSata/USB 2.0 port
  • 1 x USB 3.0 port
  • 1.2GHz dual-core ARM-based processor
  • 128MB Flash Memory
  • 256MB DDR3 RAM
  • 4 exchangeable external antennas

 

WRT1900AC Software Features

  • Browser based set-up for installation from device PC/Mac, smartphone or tablet
  • Can be configured as: Router, Range Extender (aka Repeater) or Wireless Bridge
  • Free Linksys Smart Wi-Fi account
  • Linksys Smart Wi-Fi can be accessed from a browser or the Linksys Smart Wi-Fi app for iOS and Android
  • Share printers or storage devices through USB or eSata
  • Built in DLNA certified media server and FTP Server to share files
  • Drag and drop media prioritization to prioritize bandwidth for devices, applications or games
  • Parental controls to prevent access to websites or block access during certain hours
  • Dynamic DNS services supported: No-IP, DynDNS and TZO
  • Built-in speedtest to test broadband upload and download speed
  • Open Source Ready

 

The Linksys WRT1900AC Wireless AC Dual Band Router AC1900 is now pre-ordering and ships on April 21st.

More: Linksys WRT1900AC Wireless AC Dual Band Router AC1900

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The Panasonic HX-A500 Action Cam Records Your Wipe Outs in 4K http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/11/panasonic-hx-a500-action-cam-records-wipe-outs-4k/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/11/panasonic-hx-a500-action-cam-records-wipe-outs-4k/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 07:18:08 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=68749 New Panasonic HX-A500 Action Cam offers ultra high definition 4K recording of tricks, trips and extreme sports disasters.

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Being a 40 year old guy, there’s nothing that makes me feel better than seeing the kids enjoying themselves on their skateboards and BMXs – doing all of the tricks I never could as a teen, and certainly wouldn’t attempt now for fear of falling, and looking really stupid. Which is generally what happens to said kids. Let’s face it, I know you’ll be stifling a snigger too.

But hey, thanks to Panasonic’s all new HX-A500 Wearable Cam, you can view the crunching of bone and teeth against half-pipe on YouTube whenever you want in Ultra High Definition 4K video.

The two-piece camera is designed to make wearing easier, spreading the weight across a lens in one section (mounted to a body part of choice) and a separate controller unit tucked in a pocket or belt.

The camera lens itself weighs in at just 31g, so you’ll hardly feel it as you leap out of that plane, and the controller includes a small 1.5-inch LCD display to check your angles as you slam into the ground. The 4K video capture settings clocks in at a nifty 25fps, but you’ll also find slow motion options on board, supporting 50fps at 1920 x 1080, 100fps at 1280 x 720 or 200fps at 848 x 480.

If you plummet into a lake, then worry not! The HX-A500 will also capture up to 30 minutes of video in up to three meters (about 10 feet) of water, courtesy of its IPX8 waterproof rating. Once you’ve pulled yourself out of the mire, hook up your camera to mobiles and networks with NFC and WiFi connectivity are built in. There’s also compatibility with Ustream for live broadcasts of your Wile E. Coyote-inspired pursuits.

Extreme sports fans and hospital regulars can expect to see the Panasonic HX-A500 Wearable Cam in stores next month for £379.99.

More: We are able.

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Building a Windows HTPC: Part 5 – Configure Your UEFI Motherboard http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/10/building-windows-htpc-part-5-configure-uefi-motherboard/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/04/10/building-windows-htpc-part-5-configure-uefi-motherboard/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 11:52:00 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=68708 In part five of our guide to building a Windows home theater PC, we walk through configuring a modern UEFI motherboard.

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Building a Windows Home Theatre PC

In this new How To Series at We Got Served, we take a look a building a modern, high spec, small footprint home theatre PC, running Windows. To get the full 513 page eBook guide, available in PDF, ePub and mobi formats, head over to We Got Served Store.

As a consumer, over the last 20 years of computing, you’d probably find it difficult to articulate the key developments in BIOS development. BIOS engineering (Basic Input Output System – the low-level code that starts up and manages the running of your hardware) doesn’t get a lot of headlines, and in truth, whilst BIOS code has improved over the years, it’s not the most fascinating. It all looks like DOS, and therefore must be a bit cheesy, right?

Until now. UEFI is here! That’s right, the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface has replaced the BIOS in modern PCs. UEFI offers support for aging BIOS features, but brings many more to the table that fit nicely with a HTPC feature set, including:

  • The ability to boot from hard drives larger than 2TB
  • Faster start-up times
  • A live network connection ahead of OS boot
  • CPU independent drivers and architecture
  • Rich user interface, controlled by the mouse (DOS design, be gone!)
  • Enhanced security features, including Secure Boot

That last feature is one that’s caused particular controversy over the last year or so – it’s not such a concern for us building our own hardware, but is worth a quick note for background. UEFI includes a feature called Secure Boot, which prevents the unauthorised running of firmware or UEFI drivers running at boot time. Of course, the question here is who governs what is unauthorised and what is authorised? Microsoft will mandate that OEM Hardware manufacturers that seek the company’s Windows 8 Certification (like HP, Dell, Samsung, Acer and the like have done historically) must implement UEFI on their systems. That’s fair enough. However, there’s some small print.

On standard desktop and laptop systems, the manufacturers must allow the secure boot feature to be switched off, allowing the installation of alternative operating systems on that hardware (say if you wanted to wipe Windows off the system and install Linux).

However, on ARM-based tablets (which run a specific edition of Windows called Windows RT) manufacturers must not allow Secure Boot to be switched off. So, if you buy a Windows 8 tablet with an ARM processor running Windows RT, that’s the only OS you’ll be allowed to install on it. Cue controversy – it’s a massive shift from the open architecture of the IBM PC, right?
The controversy is very much a sidebar for us here, as we’re not focusing on tablets, and especially Windows RT tablets but it’s a great example of one of the powerful features that has been developed in UEFI.

A Lap Around UEFI on the ASUS P8H67-I DELUXE Motherboard

Obviously there will be distinct variations between implementations of UEFI across the range of motherboard manufacturers. But to give you a flavour of how UEFI works on a typical motherboard, and what we need to do to to configure it for our HTPC needs, we’ll walk though setup on the ASUS P8H67-I DELUXE motherboard we installed in the last chapter. Now, motherboard manufacturers are notorious for branding features that are generic across a wide range of products, so some of the language may differ compared to your own motherboard, even if the feature is actually the same. To bring this to life, let’s look at how ASUS describe their UEFI support:

Flexible, Easy BIOS Interface
ASUS brand new EFI BIOS offers a user-friendly interface that goes beyond traditional keyboard only BIOS, to enable more flexible and convenient mouse controls. Users can easily navigate the new EFI BIOS with the same smoothness as their operating system. The exclusive EZ Mode displays frequently-accessed setup info, while the Advanced Mode is for experienced performance enthusiasts that demand far more intricate system settings.

The take-out? You manage the configuration experience using a mouse (common to most UEFI setups) and ASUS pull out the most frequently accessed settings in a separate screen (again, you’ll see this on many motherboards).

Let’s boot our (soon to be) HTPC and take a look at UEFI setup.

To access the configuration menu, start the PC and hit the Delete key during POST (Power on Self Test). As you can see immediately, the environment is unlike your traditional BIOS experience, which often felt like a trip back to the 1980s.

ui Building a Windows HTPC: Part 5   Configure Your UEFI Motherboard

 

Updating the UEFI Software

Before we take a tour of the UEFI configuration experience, we’d better make sure our software is up to date! That’s right, it’s the equivalent of the “BIOS Upgrade”. In days of yore, BIOS Upgrades were a terrifying experience, with the danger of bricking your motherboard lurking around every corner. Thankfully, the world is a much safer place nowadays, and not only can you backup your software before upgrading, you can upgrade the software directly from a USB drive in the UEFI setup program – no need to dive into DOS up install any wonky Windows upgrade apps.

First off, we’ll download the latest update for the motherboard from the manufacturer’s website, and copy it to the root of a USB drive.

bios update 1024x583 Building a Windows HTPC: Part 5   Configure Your UEFI Motherboard

Software updates usually contain stability updates, bug fixes and improved support for newer components. I’m not an advocate of installing every upgrade as soon as it is released, but once in a while can be useful and certainly it’s good practice to upgrade your motherboard software during initial installation.

ROM 1024x719 Building a Windows HTPC: Part 5   Configure Your UEFI Motherboard

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