We first encountered the Revenger, at Computex 2016, and now it’s available (just months before Computex 2017). The Revenger features a 100-12,000DPI optical sensor and has two-zone RGB backlighting.
Revenger boasts a 1,000Hz polling rate and 1ms response time. It has six programmable buttons–the same as Cougar’s 500M and 550M, but two fewer than the 600M, 700M, and 700m eSports–that offer easy access to 21 different functions. Those buttons and their functions are managed by Cougar’s UIX System, and the Revenger’s 512KB of onboard storage will allow you to store up to three different configuration profiles right on the mouse itself.
The mouse also uses two-zone RGB backlighting that lets you know what configuration profile you’re using. Revenger’s two zones are located near the Cougar logo and the three-Stage DPI LED display.
Revenger uses Omron gaming switches, a “gaming-grade scroll wheel,” and a “premium pro-gaming surface.” It’s available from sellers like Amazon and Newegg for roughly $60. That’s the same as the 550M that the Revenger is supposed to succeed in Cougar’s gaming mouse lineup. You can learn more about the 550M from the hands (palm?) on we did with the product when it was introduced at Computex 2015.
This article was provided to TechRadar by Linux Format, the number one magazine to boost your knowledge on Linux, open source developments, distro releases and much more. Subscribe to the print or digital version of Linux Formathere.
You don’t have to manage a large corporate network to use a dedicated firewall. While your Linux distro may already have an impressive firewall installed as well as an equally impressive arsenal of tools to manage it, the advantages don’t extend to the other devices on your network.
A typical network has more devices connected to the internet than the total number of computers and laptops in your average small or home office. With the onslaught of IoT, it won’t be long before your router is doling out IP addresses to your washing machine and microwave as well.
The one thing you wouldn’t want in this Jetsonian future is having to rely on your router’s limited firewall capabilities to shield your house – and everyone in it – from the malicious bits and bytes floating about on the internet.
A dedicated firewall stands between the internet and internal network, sanitising the traffic flowing into the latter. Setting one up is an involved process both in terms of assembling the hardware and configuring the software. However, there are quite a few distros that help you set up a dedicated firewall with ease, and we’re going to look at the ones that have the best protective open source software and roll them into a convenient and easy to use package.
Specifically, in this roundup, we’re going to dissect and compare five different distros: IPFire, OPNsense, pfSense, Sophos UTM and Untangle NG Firewall.
How we tested
While you can test these firewall distros on a spare physical PC, it’s more convenient to take them for a spin inside a virtual machine. Create a virtual network by firing up VirtualBox and heading to File > Preferences > Network. Switch to the host-only network tab and add a new network using the screwdriver icon to assign it an IP address e.g. 192.168.56.1.
Next, create a VM for the firewall distro and make sure it had two network adaptors – the first one in bridged mode, the second one as a host-only network. After installing the distro, you can assign a different IP address such as 192.168.56.2 to the second adaptor and configured it as a DHCP server to assign an IP address range of 192.168.56.20 – 192.168.56.50. From here on out, any other VM connected to the host-only adaptor will be routed through the firewall VM, so you can experiment with it safely.
The IPFire kernel is hardened with the grsecurity patchset to thwart zero day exploits and comes with strict access controls. The distro can also compartmentalise networks based on their respective security levels using a simple colour-coded system. IPFire also allows you to create custom policies to manage individual networks. For more elaborate control, you can also manage outbound access to the internet from any segment.
IPFire uses a Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) firewall that’s built on top of the utility netfilter. It facilities Network Address Translation (NAT), packet filtering and packet mangling. You can set up the firewall for everything from forwarding ports to creating a safe DMZ between your network and internet. The project’s wiki also hosts a ‘security hardening’ guide to create firewall rules for common scenarios.
The pfSense distro also uses a stateful firewall and can filter traffic by source and destination IP, IP protocol, and source and destination port for TCP and UDP traffic. It offers various options for handling the different states including the ‘keep’ state which is used by default for all rules and works with all protocols, as well as the ‘sloppy’ state which works only for TCP traffic. Each rule also allows you to limit simultaneous connections.
The pfSense distro uses the p0f OS fingerprinting utility to allow you to filter traffic based on the operating system initiating the connection. You can also choose to log traffic matching each rule. The OPNsense distro was forked from pfSense and offers pretty much the same features for the firewall and other aspects of the system.
Sophos UTM, unlike the other distros, cuts off all traffic and then enables you to allow specific types, such as web and email, during initial setup. The server also includes an innovative category-based web filter that blocks sites based on the type of content and includes categories such as Drugs, Spam URLs, Nudity, Weapons and so on. It also offers to scan emails sent over POP3 for viruses.
Untangle’s hosted firewall can be set up through an easy to use interface that makes it very straightforward and simple to define rules for firewalling traffic. You can also gain granular control over the traffic by defining complex rules that combine multiple parameters. This might seem like quite an involved process, but it’s made more accessible by abundant use of relevant pull-down menus.
Sophos UTM: 5/5
Untangle NG Firewall: 4/5
All the distros in this roundup bundle a lot of other functionality besides a basic firewall. Some distros offer these features as free add-ons while others charge for them. While we’ll list all the functionality provided by each distro, in order to be fair to the FOSS distros, we’ll rate all of them based on the modules that are available free of charge.
IPFire can be used as: a VPN gateway; an infrastructure server; a content filter; a proxy server; a caching name server; and an update accelerator etc. When used as an internet gateway the distro can connect to the internet through various technologies, encompassing all popular types of broadband access, as well as mobile access, including VDSL, ADSL, Ethernet and 3G/4G.
Some of the interesting uses for both pfSense and OPNsense are as a traffic shaper, load balancer and VPN. They both offer three options for VPN connectivity including IPsec, OpenVPN and PPTP. Similarly, you can use the Sophos UTM server as a site-to-site VPN solution and configure it to handle VoIP connections and balance load.
Untangle doesn’t ship with any components pre-installed but its recommended package installs over a dozen applications and services including: a web filter; virus blocker; spam blocker; bandwidth control; application control; captive portal; WAN balancer, as well as the firewall. Some of the applications that Untangle doesn’t install are an ad blocker, intrusion prevention and web cache.
Also unlike the other distros, some of the Untangle applications are paid-for options that only install a 14-day trial version.
Sophos UTM: 5/5
Untangle NG Firewall: 3/5
Ease of deployment
While servers require more involvement and active maintenance, some aspects of the installation process are, in fact, streamlined i.e. a server distro is designed to take over an entire hard disk which eradicates the need to define partitions. The firewall distros in this roundup go to great lengths to help you mould the installation as per your network configuration. All of them use browser-based interfaces that can be used to monitor and modify the various components of the firewall.
Having a graphical interface is crucial as a technologically sound base isn’t enough by itself. A convoluted or illogically arranged management interface will have a direct bearing on a distro’s usability and prevent users from getting the most out of it.
We’ll break this slide down into mini-reviews of the deployment experience, starting with…
IPFire is written from scratch and has a straightforward installation process. The installer will detect the number of NICs (Network Interface Controllers) attached to the computer and ask you to assign them to one of the four colour-coded zones. Each of these zones caters to a group of machines that share a common security level. Later on you’ll be asked to assign an IP address to the NIC that’s connected to your internal network. An IP address will be doled out via DHCP.
Once you’ve installed the distro, fire up its browser-based admin interface which is available on the IP address you assigned to the NIC connected to the local network. Head to the Firewall section in the admin interface to define the rules for the firewall. While the interface is simple to use, it requires some expertise for effective deployment and some time spent with IPFire’s documentation.
This distro was forked from pfSense and follows the same straightforward installation procedure. After installation, the distro boots to the command-line dashboard which also includes the address of the browser-based admin console. The admin interface is the one major visible difference between the distro and its progenitor. The interface takes you through a brief setup wizard prompting you for information about your network.
Once it’s rebooted with the right settings, head to the Rules section under Firewall. The rules definition interface is presented logically and includes a switch to display relevant help information to explain the various settings. Similarly, configuring the other components of the firewall distro is also a relatively intuitive process. Since the distro has a vast number of settings, you can enter keywords in the search box at the top of the interface to locate the relevant setting.
The FreeBSD-based distros, pfSense and OPNsense, use the same fairly automated installers, though the original pfSense version offers more advanced options, including the ability to install a custom kernel. Again, just like OPNsense, pfSense boots to a console-based interface that gives you the option to configure the network interfaces on the installed machine.
Once they are all set up and configured, a browser-based console takes you through the setup wizard. The web interface for pfSense has recently been updated giving it a much smoother and more streamlined feel.
The distro requires you to put some time into learning it, especially if you’re going to use the add-on packages, but the documentation is worth its weight in gold (if printed out).
To get started with Sophos UTM you have to download the ISO, register on the project’s website, get a user licence and upload it to the server for further configuration. During installation, Sophos asks you to select the NIC connected to the internal network and assign it an IP address, which you can use to access the distro’s browser-based admin interface. You’ll also be asked to agree to installation of some proprietary components which are necessary in order to use the distro.
Once installed, you can bring up the browser-based management interface and run through the brief setup during which you can upload the licence. Sophos then locks down all traffic and enables you to ‘poke’ holes for the type of traffic you wish to allow.
Untangle NG Firewall
The Debian-based distro Untangle NG is very easy to set up and is the only distro in this roundup which restarts automatically after install into the web-based setup wizard. You’re asked to set the password for the admin user, then point to and configure the two network cards – one that connects to the internet and the other the local network.
Once setup is complete, Untangle prompts you to create a free account in order to configure the server. You’ll then have to install applications, such as the firewall, to infuse that functionality into the server. Almost all the applications are preconfigured and run automatically after install. You can also configure each application by clicking the ‘Settings’ button under it. Untangle’s dashboard also enables you to analyse the traffic passing through the server, and each application will show statistics for its own traffic as well.
Virtually all the distros in this roundup offer a range of paid services. IPFire offers paid support through Lightning Wire Labs who provide custom solutions to businesses deploying the firewall. The company also offers customised hardware appliances to integrate into your network infrastructure.
OPNsense has multiple commercial support options. The annual subscription to the business support package costs €299 (around £260, $315 or AU$415) and includes three hours of technical assistance. You can purchase additional hours if you wish. There are also gold, silver and bronze professional services designed for larger deployments, integrations and custom changes to the distro.
You can also purchase support packages for your pfSense deployment which include technical support, configuration assistance and a configuration review. Furthermore, the pfSense project conducts training through pfSense University, with the cheapest course starting at $899 (around £730, AU$1,180).
Besides selling a retail version of the Sophos UTM for larger organisations, Sophos offers support packages via its resellers. The firm also has over 40 online and offline training courses on different aspects of the distro. Fees for the courses vary but an introductory two-hour webinar costs $249 (around £200, AU$330).
Untangle sells several components to extend the functionality of the firewall. If you purchase NG Firewall Complete it costs $50 a month (around £40, AU$65) for up to 25 devices. There’s a 10% discount for paying annually.
Untangle also sells several hardware appliances with its firewall server preinstalled ranging from the small u25 appliance for $399 (around £325, AU$525) to the firm’s m3000 for $7,599 (around £6,200, AU$10,000).
Sophos UTM: 5/5
Untangle NG Firewall: 5/5
Support and documentation
Just like paid services, all projects behind the firewall distros in this roundup offer a hefty amount of documentation and support in the form of guides, wikis and forums to help you through the deployment process.
The IPFire project hosts detailed documentation in wikis, as well as its English and German forum boards in addition to an IRC channel and dedicated mailing lists. OPNsense also has forums, a wiki, IRC and very detailed documentation covering every aspect of deployment. Furthermore, the project has over a dozen how-tos on popular configurations/setups, such as configuring traffic shaping, web filtering and setting up a guest network.
The best source of documentation for the pfSense distro is its handbook which comes with a gold membership subscription. Besides this there’s a wiki, forums, mailing lists and IRC. The wiki hosts a large collection of how-tos, most of which are clear and to the point. The project developers are also very active on social networks, such as Reddit, where users can seek help.
The Sophos website hosts PDFs of the quick-start guide and a 600-page administrator’s guide, in addition to community-supported bulletin boards. There’s also the Sophos Knowledge Base, which hosts articles on different aspects of the distro. Finally, the Untangle project hosts forums, a FAQ, and its wiki pages have screenshots where applicable, along with some short tutorials.
Sophos UTM: 5/5
Untangle NG Firewall: 5/5
Extensibility and maintenance
A firewall server – just like any other server – needs constant upkeep, whether it’s to install updates or new add-ons. IPFire ships with Pakfire, an extensive package management utility that makes it fairly simple to expand on the basic installation. The package manager also enables updates to address security issues.
Similarly, pfSense also includes a package manager which can be used to install and update packages. The packages are grouped under categories, such as Services and Utility, Security and so forth, and include a wide range of applications, such as Asterisk, Dansguardian, FreeRadius2, Snort, Squid and a lot more. The distro is configured to automatically install new versions of firmware and includes a host of diagnostic tools and utilities to troubleshoot the installation.
OPNsense also supports add-ons via the use of plugins, but doesn’t offer as many packages as you get with pfSense. Like pfSense, OPNSense can fetch and install updates for all the installed components.
There’s no package management option in Sophos UTM as all features are shipped in the distro and you can enable them as required. The distro includes the Up2Date utility for installing updates to the firewall’s firmware, as well as for fetching newer patterns for components, such as the antivirus and the Intrusion Prevention System.
With Untangle you have to use the interface to fetch any components you require. There’s the Reports application which monitors and prepares detailed and visually appealing reports about the server as well as its different components. The distro also includes the ability to update the installation and its components. You can configure it to install updates automatically while setting up the distro, and use the web interface to customise the schedule for the automatic updates.
Sophos UTM: 4/5
Untangle NG Firewall: 5/5
While IPFire is based on Linux From Scratch, it has borrowed its browser-based interface from the older firewall distro IPCop. The interface has a simple and easy to navigate layout with the different aspects of the firewall server grouped under tabs listed at the top of the page. The System tab houses options that influence the entire install. This is where you’ll find the option to enable SSH access and create a backup ISO image of the installation with or without log files. The Status tab gives an overview of the various components, while the Services tab lets you enable and configure individual services besides the firewall.
The dashboard in pfSense is more verbose than IPFire’s but has pretty much the same layout. The Firewall drop-down menu houses options to define the filtering rules as well as configure the traffic shaper. Settings for other services, such as the load balancer and captive portal, are housed under the Services menu. VPN gets its own menu and enables you to configure the various supported VPN protocols. The CLI console on the firewall server displays a dashboard of sorts, as well. In addition to the addresses assigned to the different NICs, it allows you to reset the configuration of the install to the default state and even upgrade the install.
Sophos UTM also has a loaded dashboard interface. Among other things, it displays information about the threats that firewall components have blocked in the last 24 hours. You can also use the Search box to narrow down the list of options.
OPNsense has a more refined interface than pfSense. Certain sections, such as when adding firewall rules, include a toggle labelled ‘Full Help’. When enabled, this option appends relevant information to fields to help you make the right selection.
Untangle also has a polished interface. Once you’ve installed an application, it’s enabled automatically and listed in the app rack. Each app has a Settings button for tweaking parameters and the rack also supplies a snapshot of traffic it has processed.
Sophos UTM: 4/5
Untangle NG Firewall: 4/5
The final verdict
Deploying a server is as much about personal preference as it is about a product’s technical dexterity. Despite objective testing, the results and our recommendation are influenced by our own preferences. Also, all firewall servers offer much the same functionality, but since this is delivered by different applications, one product might perform a certain task better than the others.
The one distro we definitely won’t be recommending is Untangle. This isn’t a reflection of its technical inferiority, but the fact that similar functions from its competitors are available cost-free. The majority of Untangle’s apps in the free version are 14-day trials. Even with the paid components, the distro doesn’t offer anything compelling over the others.
We’ve docked pfSense a few points for similar reasons. The distro is a tweaker’s paradise. You can flesh out this distro into any kind of server. However, unless you’re used to its tools and FreeBSD underpinnings, it’ll only end up confusing you with a myriad options. A better approach to pfSense, as it were, comes from its fork OPNsense, which has a nicer user interface and rewritten components, such as the captive portal.
The runner-up prize goes to IPFire which has an impressive list of features. Its Pakfire package management system helps update and expand the first install. The distro’s UI also makes it easier to configure several components, such as OpenVPN, when compared with the other distros.
The top honour goes to Sophos UTM which is free for managing a network of up to 50 IP addresses, and bundles Sophos Endpoint Protection for up to 10 computers. The distro includes an impressive list of tools, many of which are identical to the paid enterprise edition. We also like that the distro enables the firewall as soon as it’s installed, and allows you to poke holes in the firewall to enable the flow of required traffic. Not only is this the proper way to deploy a firewall, the Sophos wizard makes it easier for inexperienced users to reap the benefits from the get-go.
So, our final rankings are as follows:
1st Place: Sophos UTM – bundles all the essential features with an intuitive UI.
One popular firewall distro we didn’t include in this roundup is Smoothwall Express. It hasn’t had a stable release since 2014, but is still one of the most well-known firewall distros out there.
Then there’s also the feature-restricted community edition of the Endian Firewall as well as the Zeroshell firewall router distro for embedded devices. You can also add firewall functionality to your existing gateway server. ClearOSand Zentyal are two such systems which can be adapted into firewalls.
If you are the DIY type, it’s possible to build your own firewall appliance with little effort. One approach would be to use an ARM-based computer such as a Raspberry Pi. The Firewall distros IPFire and OPNsense provide ARM images to download and install to your Pi’s SD card.
Alternatively you could install a minimal Linux distro, such as Arch Linux, and then use the built-in iptables firewall. To assist you with creating and managing rules, you could also use a graphical tool such as Shorewall. Another approach would be to install and use Ubuntu’s command line tool ufw or its graphical companion Gufw to manage iptables.
Consumer Reports announced that it’s developed a standard to help consumers know if a product respects their privacy and protects their data. The publication said it also plans to take this standard into account when it reviews products in the future. Given the company’s influence, this move could persuade manufacturers to finally take seriously the security of their customers instead of treating it like an afterthought or simply ignoring it outright.
The announcement comes after many products have been revealed to be insecure. Internet-connected stuffed animals from CloudPets made it easy to collect email addresses, voice recordings, and other data from children and their families; Internet of Things (IoT) products were used to knock major websites like Twitter and Spotify offline; and several IoT cameras have sported vulnerabilities that could be exploited to snoop on unwitting consumers.
These problems have done little to convince manufacturers that privacy and security ought to be a primary concern for any internet-connected devices. Some companies have partnered up to share threat information and develop best practices for IoT products, and Senator Mark Warner has called on federal agencies to figure out how to defend against cyberattacks involving those devices, but another vulnerability is always waiting to be found.
Consumer Reports could help make a difference here. The magazine has been running since 1936. Here’s what the company said about its decision to develop this standard in its announcement:
Standards and test protocols to evaluate products can be created by government agencies, but they don’t always have to be, especially if the government is not adequately addressing a problem in the marketplace. Consumer Reports has plenty of experience working with and advocating for stronger standards for all manner of products. We pushed hard for and provided scientific input on the development of dynamic rollover tests now used by the government to evaluate all cars, including SUVs. We also develop our own protocols when we believe existing standards are not going far enough to protect consumers. The safety protocol we developed for doing comparative crash-testing on child car seats was designed to reflect consumers’ real-world experiences better than government tests, and it has spurred a lot of productive dialogue with manufacturers.
We are now turning this type of focus to privacy. If Consumer Reports and other public-interest organizations create a reasonable standard and let people know which products do the best job of meeting it, consumer pressure and choices can change the marketplace. We’ve seen this repeatedly over our 80-year history.
Consumer Reports said the standard focuses on a few basic ideas:
Products should be built to be secure.
Products should preserve consumer privacy.
Products should protect the idea of ownership.
Companies should act ethically.
Those are just the broad strokes of the standard. Consumer Reports worked with Disconnect, Ranking Digital Rights, and the Cyber Independent Testing Lab on the standard. All of those organizations–two of them, Ranking Digital Rights and the Cyber Independent Testing Lab, are nonprofits–are devoted to helping consumers protect their privacy and security. The groups worked together over the course of several months to develop the new standard.
Work on the standard was funded by the Craig Newmark Foundation and Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund, as well as the Ford Foundation. Consumer Reports released the standard in a public document while “inviting others to give us feedback, add their own ideas, and make the standard better.” If the standard catches on, manufacturers could finally be held accountable for the influence they hold over many people’s digital privacy and security.
Or, at least, it will be easier for publications like Consumer Reports to warn consumers when a product isn’t safe to use. Many people have already shown that they aren’t going to protect themselves–perhaps warnings from Consumer Reports and other influential outlets will help them stay safe even if they can’t or won’t follow security best practices.
Since the end of November 2016, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One fans have been playingFinal Fantasy XV, the latest entry in Square Enix’s long-running franchise. However, the PC gaming crowd was left out in the cold, so to speak. Plans to bring the game to PC players have yet to be confirmed, but a GDC video presentation makes it seem like there could be something in the works.
At last week’s Game Developers Conference, Hajime Tabata, the game’s director, presented a video that showed the development team’s process for Final Fantasy XV. This included gathering data on realistic lighting effects, creating authentic facial reactions, and making the in-game food the envy of Instagram foodies everywhere. In the latter half of the video, however, the topic switched to a partnership between Nvidia and Luminous Studio Pro, the engine used by Tabata’s team to createFinal Fantasy XV.
From that point on, you can see multiple facets of gameplay, all of which were captured with the newly-announced GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. This includes combat, scenery, and even a detailed rendering of a cat. The video then ends with “The studio that brought youFinal Fantasy XVnow looks ahead to the future.”
If the ending message is any indication, it seems that Tabata and his team aren’t finished withFinal Fantasy XVjust yet. In addition to the downloadable content coming to consoles, the team will have to make sure that the game is up to the visual and performance standards that come with creating a triple-A game for the PC. That is, of course, if the game is actually coming to PC at all.
Fujitsu announced that it will build a supercomputer for Riken, a Japanese AI research center, that comes with 32 Intel Xeon-based Fujitsu servers and 24 Nvidia DGX-1 AI accelerator systems and boasts a peak theoretical performance of 4 petaflops.
The DGX-1 is what Nvidia likes to call an “AI supercomputer in a box.” It features eight Tesla P100 GPUs that are optimized for deep learning, and the whole system can cost as much as $129,000. The Elon Musk-backed OpenAI nonprofit was the very first customer to get one.
According to Nvidia, a DGX-1 has the same performance as 250 conventional x86 servers. The key word here is “conventional,” as Intel has its own machine learning “Xeon Phi” accelerators now, which can offer much better competition. However, they may still not be a match for Nvidia’s latest GPUs.
Although things could change over the next few years, when we’ll see more FPGAs or ASICs on the market that are more optimized for machine learning, it looks like GPUs are still the most common and effective way to train neural networks right now. Nvidia has also invested heavily in the software ecosystem to make its GPUs that much more appealing for customers who want to train neural networks on its chips.
A performance of 4 petaflops is towards the lower end of the spectrum for today’s supercomputers, which can already reach around 100 petaflops, and will soon reach 300 petaflops. The lower performance target may be the reason why Riken and Fujitsu decided to go with a modular solution based on 24 DGX-1 systems rather than a more customized architecture.
The whole supercomputer will be comprised of two server architectures: Nvidia’s DGX-1 systems and Fujitsu’s Intel Xeon-based servers (Primergy RX2530 M2). The file system will run on a “high-reliability, high-performance storage system,” which includessix Fujitsu Server Primergy RX2540 M2 PC servers, eight Fujitsu Storage Eternus DX200 S3 storage systems, and one Fujitsu Storage Eternus DX100 S3 storage system to provide the IO processing demanded by deep learning analysis.
According to Nvidia, the DGX-1 systems will offer Riken’s supercomputer the following capabilities:
Containerized deep learning frameworks, optimized by NVIDIA for maximum GPU-accelerated deep learning training
Greater performance and multi-GPU scaling withNVIDIA NVLink, accelerating time to discovery
An integrated software and hardware architecture optimized for deep learning
The Riken R&D lab will use the supercomputer and its AI capabilities to find better solutions to social issues. Riken aims to find improvements to healthcare for the elderly, the management of aging infrastructure, and response to natural disasters. The Fujitsu-built supercomputer should go online in April.
Those eager to play CI Games’Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3next month will have to wait a little longer. After initially delaying the game fromJanuary to April, the studio pushed the release date back another three weeks to April 25.
The reason for this latest delay was based on feedback during the game’s beta session. This forced the developers to make some changes to the game, which CI Games CEO Mark Tyminski believes will be worth the wait.
“We’ve worked tirelessly creating a whole new Sniper Ghost Warrior experience set in an ambitiously crafted open world new to the series,” he said in a press release. “While it’s an unfortunate decision to delay the game one last time, we believe these final changes will result in a better experience for players worldwide on day one. Thank you for your patience – we know the wait will be worth it.”
For those curious about the gameplay, you can check out the studio’sstealth walkthroughof one of the game’s missions, or you can read about our early preview of thegame from PAX West. If you’re already convinced that you’re getting the game, make sure your PC can handle it by checking on thehardware requirements.
How to use your phone and not lose your driving licence
New, tougher UK legislation now imposes strict regulations on using your phone while driving. Fines, points, and even losing your license are a possiblity if you’re caught even touching your handset while at the wheel. So we’ve gathered together some tips and helpful gadgets that still allow you to use your device without surrendering the driving seat.
Our collection of tips and gadgets that allow you to safely use your smartphone while driving.
Using your phone while driving is not a good idea. Aside from the road accidents it could cause there’s also the real possibility of falling foul of new, harsher legal restrictions that come into play from March 2017. Now any driver seen holding, touching, or generally interacting with a mobile device while in control of a vehicle (and that includes sitting at red lights or being stationary while stuck in traffic) could face the levy of six points on their license and a £200 fine.
Drivers who passed their test in the last two years could lose their license entirely if caught using a phone, and more experienced motorists who see their cases go to court also face the revocation of their driving privileges while being handed a £1000 fine. To avoid these costly mistakes we’ve put together a collection of tips and tech accessories that let you use your phone without losing your license.
How to use your phone and not lose your driving licence : Don’t use your phone at all
Ok, it’s something of a nuclear option, but it’s the only way to be sure. Such is the frequency with which we interact with our beloved handsets it’s entirely possible to instinctively pick up a device at some point in a journey. This will inevitably be at the precise moment that you pull alongside a police car with an unforgiving occupant, and you’ll be bang to rights with that glowing rectangle in your hand.
If you don’t trust yourself to resist the siren song of Facebook, Twitter, or even your music app, put your phone in the glove box, your bag, or just somewhere you can’t reach it.
How to use your phone and not lose your driving licence : Delegate to a passenger
If you have other members of your family or friends in the car then you can hand your phone over at the start of a journey and ask them to be your surrogate. Of course there are inherent dangers of devolving power over the music selection to younger members of your entourage, but remember you retain dominion over the volume thanks to the stereo controls in the front.
How to use your phone and not lose your driving licence : Use a cradle
If you still want to see your phone while driving, which most of us do when using it as a sat-nav replacement, then a cradle is the obvious choice. There are a number of different styles available, nearly all of which are designed to fit any handset.
For the best visibility you’ll want a window mounted model like the Mpow Grip Flex Universal. This has a fully adjustable arm that allows drivers to position it so that they can clearly see what’s on the display.
Of course this still remain a temptation to touch the screen but to stay in compliance with the law you’ll have to ensure that you enter the route and start the navigation while you’re parked and the engine is turned off.
Technically you’re not meant to have anything on your windscreen as it could be deemed to impede your vision. Of course a large proportion of drivers have their phones or sat-navs in front of them at all times, so the law seems to be rarely enforced. But if you want avoid being caught on a technicality you could opt for a cradle that attaches to the dashboard instead.
The EReach Car Mount Holder is a silicon mat that grips the dashboard and securely holds your phone in place. Due to its low level nature the mat should happily fulfill the Highway Code stipulations while still providing a useful and safe way to view the screen.
How to use your phone and not lose your driving licence : Hands-free kits
A strange quirk in the law, as far as we understand it, is that even though most modern smartphones come equipped with voice control assistants (such as Cortana, Siri, and Google Assistant) actually talking to them is deemed interacting with your mobile device. Now, we’re not sure this is something that would be provable, as you could have been talking to yourself or singing along to a tune on Spotify, but again it’s worth knowing that there are alternatives. What you can do, and we know this makes little sense, is interact with hands-free bluetooth kits that control your phone.
If your car stereo doesn’t have an AUX input or Bluetooth capabilities then one cheap and cheerful product we’ve found useful in this regard is the Nulaxy Wireless In-car Bluetooth FM transmitter. This plugs into your cigarette lighter and routes voice calls, music, and messages through your stereo system via the FM radio. It means you can take calls while driving and listen to music without cables running through the cabin.
For cars that already have Bluetooth equipped you could try the SOAIY S-61 system, a small device that neatly slides onto your sun-visor and gives you access to the voice control features on your phone. This allows you to start or answer calls, control your music, and even send text messages without taking your hands off the wheel.
How to use your phone and not lose your driving licence : Use a media control device
A common way that we interact with our phones while driving is to change tracks on an album or playlist. While these are short tasks, they invariably involve looking away from the road. To avoid this you could use a Bluetooth media controller that attaches to your steering wheel. These allow you to skip back and forth through songs and easily adjust the volume by using your thumb. You’ll find a number of different models available, with the kwmobile Bluetooth Media Button being one of our favourites.
So there you go, a few handy gadgets that can make using your phone in the car a lawful activity. Of course once self-driving cars are finally ready we’ll be able to fiddle with our devices till the cows come home, but for now a little restraint is still required.