Subject: General Tech | August 27, 2015 - 02:14 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nifty, Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi and its various flavours have been out for a while now and we have heard of a variety of projects developers and hobbyists have come up with but this story from The Register has them all beat. With a little Googling and a lot of creativity and inspiration there are kids out there creating all sorts of new uses for the little device. One 11 year old was a little worried about her Grampa and used a Pi along with PHP and HTML to pair a device with a webpage which can bring up a web browser for him, allow simple texting capabilities and to photos to make sure he is still OK. Others have created a scanner to keep track of scores in netball or to make sure that the sushi they grab from a restaurant's conveyor belt isn't getting too old. Give kids a chance to create and what they come up with will blow you away.
"Completely at home with Raspberry Pis, these kids Google around for the things they don’t know how to do - because when you’re 11, you don’t know what you can’t do. They are inventing the future, and for them it’s just child’s play."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Best Lightweight Linux Distros @ Linux.com
- Your smartphone can be a 3D scanner, say boffins @ The Register
- Amazon Underground offers paid apps for free - but with a sting in the tail @ The Inquirer
- Password 'XXXXairocon' pops Wi-Fi routers from ASUS, ZTE and others @ The Register
- Ins0mnia: iOS flaw lets applications run for ever in a bad way @ The Inquirer
- It's official: Apple's next iPhone will be unveiled on 9 September @ The Inquirer
- Tech ARP 2015 Mega Giveaway #5 : Mi 10400 mAh Power Banks
Subject: General Tech | August 31, 2015 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft
Less than a week and a half after publishing 10525, Microsoft has pushed Windows 10 Build 10532 to members of the Windows Insider program that are set to receive “Fast” releases. This version adjusts the context menus for consistency. In the provided screenshot, all I can really notice that is different is the icons for Display Settings and Personalize are now axonometric, rather than face-on. The Feedback app has also been updated to allow sharing.
While Slow Ring users are still on the general public build, 10240, it might not be too long. Gabe Aul mentioned on Twitter that they were evaluating 10525 for Slow Ring. With 10532 being released though, that has almost definitely been put off. The next update is particularly important, as it will be the last chance for Windows Insiders to disable Insider Builds before all of them will be pushed off of 10240. It's about time to decide whether you want to use the stable version that's supported by all manufacturers, or continue with pre-release versions.
To receive 10532, join the Insider program from Windows Update's Advanced options and set it to receive Fast builds. To leave the Insider program, go to the same Advanced options menu and press the button to stop receive Insider builds.
Subject: Storage | September 1, 2015 - 08:00 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: Seagate, hdd, Enterprise NAS, Enterprise Capacity 3.5, 8TB
Just when we were starting to get comfortable with the thought of 6TB hard drives, Seagate goes and announces their lineup of 8TB HDDs:
Now before you get too excited about throwing one of these into your desktop, realize that these models are meant for enterprise and larger NAS environments:
As you can see from the above chart, Seagate will be moving to 8TB maximum capacities on their 'Enterprise NAS' and 'Enterprise Capacity 3.5' models, which are meant for larger storage deployments.
Home and small business users opting to go with Seagate for their storage will remain limited to 4TB per drive for the time being.
For those curious about Kinetic, this is Seagate's push to connect arrays of drives via standard Ethernet, which would allow specialized storage applications to speak directly to the raw storage via standard network gear. Kinetic HDDs are currently limited to 4TB, with 8TB planned this coming January.
Seagate's full press blast appears after the break.
Subject: General Tech | September 1, 2015 - 04:24 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: unreal engine 4, unreal engine, ue4.9, ue4, epic games, dx12
For an engine that was released in late-March, 2014, Epic has been updating it frequently. Unreal Engine 4.9 is, as the number suggests, the tenth release (including 4.0) in just 17 months, which is less than two months per release on average. Each release is fairly sizable, too. This one has about 232 pages of release notes, plus a page and a half of credits, and includes changes for basically every system that I can think of.
The two most interesting features, for me, are Area Shadows and Full Scene Particle Collision.
Area Shadows simulates lights that are physically big and relatively close. At the edges of a shadow, the object that casts the shadow are blocking part of the light. Wherever that shadow falls will be partially lit by the fraction of the light that can see it. As that shadow position gets further back from the shadow caster, it gets larger.
On paper, you can calculate this by drawing rays from either edge of each shadow-casting light to either edge of each shadow-casting object, continued to the objects that receive the shadows. If both sides of the light can see the receiver? No shadows. If both sides of the light cannot see the receiver? That light is blocked, which is a shadow. If some percent of a uniform light can see the receiver, then it will be shadowed by 100% minus that percentage. This is costly to do, unless neither the light nor any of the affected objects move. In that case, you can just store the result, which is how “static lighting” works.
Another interesting feature is Full Scene Particle Collision with Distance Fields. While GPU-computed particles, which is required for extremely high particle counts, collide already, distance fields allow them to collide with objects off screen. Since the user will likely be able to move the camera, this will allow for longer simulations as the user cannot cause it to glitch out by, well, playing the game. It requires SM 5.0 though, which limits it to higher end GPUs.
This is also the first release to support DirectX 12. That said, when I used a preview build, I noticed a net-negative performance with my 9000 draw call (which is a lot) map on my GeForce GTX 670. Epic calls it “experimental” for a reason, and I expect that a lot of work must be done to deliver tasks from an existing engine to the new, queue-based system. I will try it again just in case something changed from the preview builds. I mean, I know something did -- it had a different command line parameter before.
UPDATE (Sept 1st, 10pm ET): An interesting question was raised in the comments that we feel could be a good aside for the news post.
Anonymous asked: I don't have any experience with game engines. I am curious as to how much of a change there is for the game developer with the switch from DX11 to DX12. It seems like the engine would hide the underlying graphics APIs. If you are using one of these engines, do you actually have to work directly with DX, OpenGL, or whatever the game engine is based on? With moving to DX12 or Vulcan, how much is this going to change the actual game engine API?
Modern, cross-platform game engines are basically an API and a set of tools atop it.
For instance, I could want the current time in seconds to a very high precision. As an engine developer, I would make a function -- let's call it "GetTimeSeconds()". If the engine is running on Windows, this would likely be ((PerformanceCounter - Initial) / PerformanceFrequency) where PerformanceCounter is grabbed from QueryPerformanceCounter() and PerformanceFrequency is grabbed from QueryPerformanceFrequency(). If the engine is running on Web standards, this would be window.performance.now() * 1000, because it is provided in milliseconds.
Regardless of where GetTimeSeconds() pulls its data from, the engine's tools and the rest of its API would use GetTimeSeconds() -- unless the developer is low on performance or development time and made a block of platform-dependent junk in the middle of everything else.
The same is true for rendering. The engines should abstract all the graphics API stuff unless you need to do something specific. There is usually even a translation for the shader code, be it an intermediate language (or visual/flowchart representation) that's transpiled into HLSL and GLSL, or written in HLSL and transpiled into GLSL (eventually SPIR-V?).
One issue is that DX12 and Vulkan are very different from DX11 and OpenGL. Fundamentally. The latter says "here's the GPU, bind all the attributes you need and call draw" while the former says "make little command messages and put it in the appropriate pipe".
Now, for people who license an engine like Unity and Unreal, they probably won't need to touch that stuff. They'll just make objects and place them in the level using the engine developer's tools, and occasionally call various parts of the engine API that they need.
Devs with a larger budget might want to dive in and tweak stuff themselves, though.
Unreal Engine 4.9 is now available. It is free to use until your revenue falls under royalty clauses.
That is a lotta SKUs!
The slow, gradual release of information about Intel's Skylake-based product portfolio continues forward. We have already tested and benchmarked the desktop variant flagship Core i7-6700K processor and also have a better understanding of the microarchitectural changes the new design brings forth. But today Intel's 6th Generation Core processors get a major reveal, with all the mobile and desktop CPU variants from 4.5 watts up to 91 watts, getting detailed specifications. Not only that, but it also marks the first day that vendors can announce and begin selling Skylake-based notebooks and systems!
All indications are that vendors like Dell, Lenovo and ASUS are still some weeks away from having any product available, but expect to see your feeds and favorite tech sites flooded with new product announcements. And of course with a new Apple event coming up soon...there should be Skylake in the new MacBooks this month.
Since I have already talked about the architecture and the performance changes from Haswell/Broadwell to Skylake in our 6700K story, today's release is just a bucket of specifications and information surround 46 different 6th Generation Skylake processors.
Intel's 6th Generation Core Processors
At Intel's Developer Forum in August, the media learned quite a bit about the new 6th Generation Core processor family including Intel's stance on how Skylake changes the mobile landscape.
Skylake is being broken up into 4 different line of Intel processors: S-series for desktop DIY users, H-series for mobile gaming machines, U-series for your everyday Ultrabooks and all-in-ones, Y-series for tablets and 2-in-1 detachables. (Side note: Intel does not reference an "Ultrabook" anymore. Huh.)
As you would expect, Intel has some impressive gains to claim with the new 6th Generation processor. However, it is important to put them in context. All of the claims above, including 2.5x performance, 30x graphics improvement and 3x longer battery life, are comparing Skylake-based products to CPUs from 5 years ago. Specifically, Intel is comparing the new Core i5-6200U (a 15 watt part) against the Core i5-520UM (an 18 watt part) from mid-2010.
Subject: Storage | September 1, 2015 - 03:00 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, OS3, My Cloud Mirror
A little over a year ago, we took a look at the Western Digital My Cloud Mirror. This was a simple network connected storage device that came with a suite of software and mobile apps to give remote access to the data stored at home.
Today Western Digital announced a refresh to the My Cloud Mirror. Available for pre-order today and in stores at the end of this month, the new Mirror is essentially just a speed boosted version of the original version (which was no slouch really). Something the added speed may help with is the functionality being added to WD's My Cloud OS software:
The new 'OS3' version adds some requested features, such as using the My Cloud as a hub for syncing across multiple systems (similar to Dropbox, but with your own storage being used instead of their servers).
Another requested feature was the ability to backup and/or offload pictures and videos from mobile devices. This can be done only when connected to WiFi or over cellular data if the user has the GB/month to spare on their data plan.
Another interesting feature is My Cloud Albums. This feature lets you invite your friends/family to share *their* photos / videos from an event. You send them a link and they can then upload their content directly to your My Cloud via their mobile browser or via the My Cloud app (if they have it installed). This sounds like a great idea for collecting photos taken at group events like birthday parties or weddings.
My Cloud OS3 is slated for a 21 September release. We will take a look another look at its features once released.
Western Digital's full press blast appears after the break.
Subject: General Tech | September 1, 2015 - 02:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Lenovo, Thinkpad E Series, Realsense 3D, windows 10
The new 14" and 15.6" Lenovo ThinkPad E Series were revealed recently and The Inquirer got a sneak peek at it. They offer a choice of Intel and AMD models, somewhat good news for the much beleaguered processor company, along with up to 16GB of RAM and an SSD. The most interesting upgrade is the Intel RealSense 3D camera on some models, which you may remember Ryan testing on the Dell Venue 8, which should make conference calls more interesting as well as letting you measure your room. They also announced updated M and B and E line of laptops as well as the S series desktops, read more about it at The Inquirer.
"The E Series laptops come with a host of features "ideal for business users", Lenovo said, including fingerprint scanning security and up to nine hours of battery life."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Muted HAMR blow from Seagate: 4TB whizzbang drive coming 2016 @ The Register
- Hands on with Windows Server 2016 Containers @ The Register
- Better crypto, white-box switch support in Linux 4.2 @ The Register
- Tricks For Using Desktop-Integrated Calendars @ Linux.com
- Windows 10 is the world's fourth biggest OS after a month @ The Inquirer
- Worldwide server shipments grew 8% in 2Q15, while revenue increased 7.2%, says Gartner @ DigiTimes
- Amkov AMK5000S Sports Action Camera @ Kitguru
- EnGenius ENS1750 Outdoor Access Point @ Benchmark Reviews
Subject: General Tech | September 1, 2015 - 07:18 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: input, thermaltake, Poseidon Z Forged
At $100 the ThermalTake eSPORTs Poseidon Z Forged keyboard is a little less than most LED bearing mechanical keyboards. It has 10 programmable keys, five to a side, which caused Techgage some consternation. but they did get used to the placement of the Enter key eventually. The model they tested used Blue switches, Brown are also available if that happens to be your preference. The onboard DAC amplifier for S/PDIF headphones makes the keyboard an even better value compared to the competition, Techgage like how it performed but wonder if another lower cost version could be offered without the DAC. Check out the full review here.
"Thermaltake was once known only for its chassis and cooling products, but over the years, the company’s branched out tremendously. Through its Tt eSPORTS brand, it caters to those who take their gaming seriously. On the test bench today is a perfect example of a “serious” gaming peripheral: the Poseidon Z Forged keyboard."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Corsair Strafe Mechanical Keyboard Review @ Madshrimps
- Tesoro Excalibur Spectrum Keyboard Review: Fun Fury of Fancy Fingering @ Modders-Inc
- Das Keyboard 4 Professional Review @ NikKTech
- EVGA TORQ X5 @ Bjorn3d
- Azio MGK1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review @ Neoseeker
- Logitech G303 Daedalus Apex RGB Mouse @ Kitguru
Subject: Motherboards | September 1, 2015 - 09:00 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Skylake, motherboard, LGA 1151, Intel Q170, Intel H170, Intel H110, Intel B150, asus
ASUS has announced a number of new motherboards today, all of which feature new Intel chipsets for LGA 1151 processors.
We've seen quite a few Z170 motherboards show up on the market in the past month, and now prepare for the onslaught of the alphabet soup of variations. In addition to Z170 you will now be seeing H170, B150, H110, and Q170 (and who knows what else might manifest itself?). Fortunately, ASUS has announced boards with all of these new chipsets so you can find one precisely tuned to your build's needs - since we don't all need overclocking or multi-GPU support after all.
The boards will be segmented into a couple of classes, Signature and Pro Gaming. As ASUS describes:
- ASUS Signature: H170, B150, H110 and Q170 chipsets in ATX, mATX and mITX, with 5X Protection II, USB Type-C, and LED-illuminated audio
- ASUS Pro Gaming: High-value H170 and B150 boards with gaming-optimized audio and networking, USB 3.1 and M.2 connectivity, and smart DIY features
Taking a look at the Signature series first, the H170-PRO, H170M-PLUS, and Q170M-C motherboards all require DDR4 memory, each supporting up to 64 GB 2133 MHz DDR4 RAM with 4 DIMM slots. The H170I-PLUS D3, on the other hand, makes use of the existing DDR3 standard for a less expensive upgrade path to Skylake, which natively supports both DDR3L (1.35V) and DDR4.
All four boards have Realtek ALC887 audio, and both “PLUS” boards offer Intel NICs with the Q170M-C sporting Intel vPro Gigabit LAN.
Moving down to the B150-PRO D3, B150M-PLUS D3, H110M-PLUS D3, and H110I-PLUS D3 we find a series of lower-cost boards that all make use of DDR3 memory, the same Realtek ALC887 audio, and Realtek Gigabit LAN. Both Intel B150 based boards also feature USB 3.1 (Gen 1) Type-C along with standard USB 3.0 ports.
Finally, we have the Pro Gaming tier, with the H170 PRO GAMING and B150 PRO GAMING D3. As you might have guessed the PRO GAMING D3 uses DDR3 memory, while the H170 version uses the new DDR4 standard. Both motherboards feature Intel NICs, Realtek ALC1150 audio, and USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A and Type-C.
Specifics on pricing and exact availability have not been disclosed, but the boards will be available “soon”.
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