Tech round-up for October 26: Surface Studio, Nintendo Switch, the problem with the Internet of Things, and feeling sorry for Patriots coach Bill Belichick

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This week, what we know about the Nintendo Switch, why Bill Belichick hates computers, and why the Internet was down last week. But first, Microsoft reveals some new hardware, including something we haven’t seen before.

Microsoft, riding high, reveals Surface Studio desktop computer

Microsoft stock is worth some $60 a share, the highest its been since the last century. What a perfect time to roll out some new products.

At a press event in New York today, Microsoft announced a number of new things, but the highlight is the Surface Studio, a desktop computer that is unlike any desktop computer you’ve ever seen.

The Surface Studio is an all-in-one computer with the components built into the display stand. The display, 28-inches across, is thin and light and constructed with a touchscreen. The entire assembly is hinged, so with the touch of a finger you can recline the display and work on it with a stylus.

The Surface Studio is priced at US$3,000, $3,500, and $4,200 depending on the configuration you want. And there won’t be too many available. In fact, they may not actually be available in Canada this year.

The Surface Dial is an interface device for Surface hardware. It’s a dial, natch, that can be placed on a Surface screen and that can be used to select colours while in a paint program, for example.

Microsoft also announced an update to its premium Surface laptop. The Surface Book with Performance Base will be released on November 10, and is available with up to 1TB of hard drive space. The new model adds 30 percent to battery life, has double the graphics capability compared to the existing Book, and uses Intel’s i7 processor.

The company, which is already working on an alternate reality headset, HoloLens, is also working on a VR headset.

Bill Belichick is your grumpy old uncle

Speaking of Microsoft’s Surface devices…

The company has a deal to supply tablets to the NFL, but not all coaches are happy about it.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, for one.

In a conference call with reporters last week, Belichick spent more than five minutes talking about why he hates computers. For a guy with a penchant for one-word answers, that is an epic monologue.

Belichick’s going back to his old fashioned picture playbook. Unknown whether the pictures are in colour or black and white.

What exactly is a DDoS attack and why did it hang up the Internet last week?

Last Friday, a swath of the Internet was unavailable to people because of a DDoS attack on a DNS host.

That’s a lot of acronyms. Here’s what they mean.

  • DDoS: distributed denial of service; a DoS uses only one computer, but a distributed attack leverages many, most of which are being used illicitly
  • DNS: domain name server

To understand what happened last week, let’s use old fashioned letter mail as an analogy.

Think of the DNS as the post office. A DDoS attack is what would happen if a post office received a billion pieces of mail at the same time. Staff at the office wouldn’t be able to process anything because they would be crushed under all of the letters.

That’s essentially what happened last week. These attacks, in which computer systems are overloaded by a flood of simultaneous requests, are nothing new. What was new about last week’s DDoS was that it didn’t exploit computers, but ohter devices that are connected to the Internet, such as webcams and digital video recorders.

As more of our devices become connected – the Internet of Things is upon us – the security of those devices becomes more critical.

Nintendo reveals its new gaming console, Switch

Nintendo’s new console is called Switch, and it’s being released in March.

The Switch is a gaming system that can be mobile when you need it to be, or a home entertainment device when you want it to be.

At the core of it all is a tablet. It can be placed into a dock connected to your living room television set, or transported around. Enabling mobile play are the “Joy-Con” controllers, which attach to either side of the Switch, which is similar in look and function to the main Wii U controller.

But the Joy-Con controllers can also be removed and used as split controllers, with one in each hand, or as seperate controllers for multiplayer gaming.

Nintendo will also be selling Pro Controllers to use with the Switch.

You’ll also be able to create ad-hoc networks with mulitple Switch systems to allow for face-to-face multiplayer gaming.

In the promotional video, which you can watch below, a number of games are teased, including the new Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart, Skyrim, and Splatoon. But there have been no official announcements of titles that will be released for the Switch.

Nintendo did not provide a specific launch date, or reveal pricing of the console or its peripherals.


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