Subject: General Tech | September 30, 2016 - 10:07 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10
I've been seeing a lot of people discussing how frequently Windows 10 seems to be getting updated. This discussion usually circles back to how many issues have been reported with the latest Anniversary Update, and how Microsoft has been slow in rolling it out. The thing is, while the slow roll-out is interesting, the way Windows 10 1607 is being patched is not too unusual.
The odd part is how Microsoft has been releasing the feature updates, themselves.
In the past, Microsoft has tried to release updates on the second Tuesday of every month. This provides a predictable schedule for administrators to test patches before deploying them to an entire enterprise, in case the update breaks something that is mission-critical. With Windows 10, Microsoft has declared that patches will be cumulative and can occur at any time. This led to discussion about whether or not “Patch Tuesday” is dead. Now, a little over a year has gone by, and we can actually quantify how the OS gets updated.
There seems to be a pattern that starts with each major version release, which has (thus far) been builds 10240, 10586, and 14393. Immediately before and after these builds start to roll out to the public, Microsoft releases a flurry of updates to fix issues.
For instance, Windows 10 version 1507 had seven sub-versions of 10240 prior to general release, and five hotfixes pushed down Windows Update within the first month of release. The following month, September 2015, had an update on Patch Tuesday, as well as an extra one on September 30th. The following month also had two updates, the first of which on October's Patch Tuesday. It was then patched once for every following Patch Tuesday.
The same trend occurred with Build 10586 (Windows 10 version 1511). Microsoft released the update to the public on November 12th, but pushed a patch through Windows Update on November 10th, and five more over Windows Update in the following month-and-a-bit. It mostly settled down to Patch Tuesday after that, although a few months had a second hotfix sometime in the middle.
We are now seeing the same trend happen with Windows 10 version 1607. Immediately after release, Microsoft pushed a bunch of hotfixes. If history repeats itself, we should start to see about two updates per month for the next couple of months, then we will slow down to Patch Tuesday until Redstone 2 arrives sometime in 2017.
So, while this seems to fit a recurring trend, I do wonder why this trend exists.
Part of it makes sense. When Microsoft is developing Windows 10, it is trying to merge additions from a variety of teams into a single branch, and do so once or twice each year. This likely means that Microsoft has a “last call” date for these teams to merge their additions into the public branch, and then QA needs to polish this up for the general public. While they can attempt to have these groups check in mid-way, pushing their work out to Windows Insiders in a pre-release build, you can't really know how the final build will behave until after the cut-off.
At the same time, the massive flood of patches within the first month would suggest that Microsoft is pushing the final build to the public about a month or two too early. If this trend continues, it would make the people who update within the first month basically another ring of the Insider program. The difference is that it is less out-in, because you get it when Windows Update tells you to.
It will be interesting to see how this continues going forward, too. Microsoft has already delayed Redstone 2 until 2017, as I mentioned earlier. This could be a sign that Microsoft is learning from past releases, and optimizing their release schedule based on these lessons. I wonder how soon before release will Microsoft settle on a “final build” next time. It seems like Microsoft could avoid many stability problems by simply setting an earlier merge date, and aggressively performing QA for a longer period until it is released to the public.
Or I could be completely off. What do you all think?
Subject: Storage | September 26, 2016 - 01:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: tlc, Phison PS3110-S10, AS330 Panther, apacer, 960GB SSD
Almost everyone seems to be making SATA SSDs these days, the market is much more crowded that at this time last year which can make your purchasing decisions more complicated. If you cannot afford the new M.2 and PCIe SSDs but are instead looking for a SATA SSD then your choices are varied and you cannot necessarily depend on price when you make your decision.
The internals are what really determines the value you are getting from an SSD, in this case the AS330 uses the four channel Phison PS3110-S10 controller, 15nm Toshiba TLC NAND and has a 512MB DDR3L-1600 cache. This puts it in the same class as many other value priced SSDs from companies like PNY and Kingston. Hardware Canucks' testing proves this to be true, the drive is a bit slower than the OCZ Trion 150 but is solidly in the middle of the pack of comparable SSDs. The price you can find the drive will be the deciding factor, the 960GB model should sell around $200, the 480GB model is currently $120 on Newegg.
"Apacer's AS330 Panther SSD is inexpensive, offers good performance and has capacity to burn. But can this drive roar or will a lack of brand recognition cause it to purr out to obscurity? "
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Samsung 850 EVO 4TB SSD @ Custom PC Review
- Kingston SSDnow UV400 480GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
- SK hynix Canvas SL308 500GB @ Kitguru
- Asustor AS3104T 4-bay NAS @ Kitguru
- TerraMaster D5-300 USB 3.0 External Hard Drive RAID Enclosure Review @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2016 - 12:24 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: lithium ion, battery
The price of lithium ion batteries is likely to spike in the near future as demand is far outstripping production. While we are using them in ultramobile laptops, there is another quickly growing industry which consumes these same cylindrical lithium polymer based batteries, the electric car industry. The demand has grown enough that suppliers are about to demand a noticeable raise in prices and as there does not seem to be any production increase they are likely to get it. This will result in a small increase in price in ultraportables and a larger one in electric cars. There is a concern that DigiTimes did not raise in their post; that this level of imbalance in supply and demand can lead to knock-offs and lower quality suppliers being considered as a source simply to ensure that a product is available.
That could be somewhat of a concern; these batteries often hold a larger charge and are usually found in greater numbers than the ones currently in the news.
"In addition to the 18650 cylinder battery, the lithium polymer battery, which is commonly used in ultra-thin notebook models, is also suffering from shortages as many vendors including Apple, Acer and Asustek Computer, have all scheduled to released new ultra-thin notebooks models in the near future."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft releases Server 2016, complete with commercial Docker engine @ The Register
- Microsoft inserts 'new kind of computer ... into our cloud' for speedier Azure services @ The Register
- Linux and Open Source Hardware for IoT @ Linux.com
- Cadence, TSMC advance 7nm FinFET designs for mobile and HPC platforms @ DigiTimes
- ZX Spectrum Vega+ defies naysayers with confirmed launch date @ The Inquirer
- Patch AGAIN: OpenSSL security fixes now need their own security fixes @ The Register
Subject: Displays | September 27, 2016 - 03:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: pimax, vr headset, steam vr
As Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN asks in the title, can the $300 Pimax VR headset be too good to be true? It ships without headphones, or you can buy the $350 which includes audio of moderate quality or provide your own if they fit comfortably under the headset. It also does not ship with any controllers, which means that Steam games which require anything other than a mouse and keyboard will simply not work; not an empty catalogue of games but definitely more limited than the two more expensive competitors.
The headset does offer better resolution, 1920x2160 per eye, which the reviewer noticed immediately as being clearer than the competition ... as long as you were looking directly at the text or object. There were issues at the edges of your view however, as well as with quickly turning your head which is likely due to the 60fps refresh rate. This is less than the 90fps the Vive or Rift can manage as well as creating concerns about reprojection and dropped frames. There were a few other concerns mentioned in the review which you should familiarize yourself with, but the Pimax is very interesting, a light VR headset with great resolution and only two connecting cord for $300.
"In the interim, here’s Chinese outfit Pimax, who are selling what they label as the first 4K VR headset for PC, which works with SteamVR. It’s also $350 (or $300 without headphones), compared to the Rift’s $599 and Vive’s $799"
Here are some more Display articles from around the web:
- From The Wirecutter: The best 4K monitors (so far) @ Ars Technica
- BenQ XR3501 Curved Gaming Monitor @ Kitguru
- Dell UltraSharp 24 InfinityEdge U2417H 24in Monitor @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2016 - 05:33 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: seti, science, radio telescope
The Chinese officially began searching the stars around noon local time on Sunday using the newly completed FAST radio telescope which has surpassed Arecibo in being the world's largest single aperture telescope. Nestled in the natural Dawodang (limestone) depression in the remote and mountainous Pingtang county, Guizhou province, the Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) will search the heavens to catalog pulsars, investigate dark matter, gravitational waves, and fast radio bursts, and assist in the search for extraterrestrial life and natural hydrogen in distant galaxies.
The $180 million project has been in development for 14 years with construction beginning in 2011. The massive scientific endeavor required the relocation of several villages and 10,000 people living in the vicinity. Further, the remote area required the telescope to be constructed without the use of heavy machinery and the dish had to be constructed manually. FAST is modeled after the Arecibo observatory in Puerto Rico and uses 4,450 triangular reflector panels supported by a steel mesh suspended over the limestone valley using large steel towers anchored to the surrounding hills. FAST deviates from Arecibo when it comes to reflecting and receiving radio signals, however. While Arecibo uses a 900 ton movable receiver with a complex set of mirrors that make up a sub reflector, FAST uses 2,250 actuators (winches) that pull on up to 300m sections of the dish to create a parabola that can move in real time to track signals as the Earth rotates and reflect them back to the receiver which is reportedly much lighter and can contain more instruments than Arecibo.
While Arecibo, with its 305 meter dish, can track signals up to 20° from the zenith, FAST can track signals up to 26° from the zenith at 300 meter parabola sizes and up to 40° with smaller parabola sizes making it rather versatile. The massive dish combines the benefits of a large single fixed dish and a smaller dish (or dishes which could be combined to provide higher resolution using interferometry) that can tilt and rotate.
Specifically, Dennis Normile quoted experts in saying:
Single dishes excel at observing point sources like neutron stars and at scanning a multitude of frequencies in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, says astronomer Li Di, a FAST project scientist, who previously worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Another advantage is that, compared with the multiple dishes in an array, single dishes are “relatively cheap and relatively straightforward to upgrade,” says George Hobbs, an astronomer at CSIRO. “You just keep building better receivers.” (Dennis Normile at Science Magazine)
FAST is quite the accomplishment and I am interested to see what the scientists are able to discover using the world's largest radio telescope. Hopefully it will continue to receive adequate funding!
- World’s largest radio telescope will search for dark matter, listen for aliens (Science Mag)
- Chinese FAST Telescope to Surpass Arecibo (infographic)
- FAST: China's great space telescope begins operations (close-up photos of reflector panels)
- Arecibo Observatory (Wikipedia)
Subject: General Tech | September 26, 2016 - 01:01 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: iot, security, upnp
Over the weekend you might have noticed some issues on your favourite interwebs as there was a rather impressively sized DDOS attack going on. The attack was a mix of old and new techniques; they leveraged the uPNP protocol which has always been a favourite vector but the equipment hijacked were IoT appliances. The processing power available in toasters, DVRs and even webcams is now sufficient to be utilized and is generally a damned sight easier to control than even an old unpatched XP machine. This does not spell the end of the world which will likely be predicted on the cable news networks but does further illustrate the danger in companies producing inherently insecure IoT devices. If you are not sure what uPNP is, or are aware but do not currently need it, consider disabling it on your router or think about setting up something along the lines of ye olde three router solution.
"Brace yourselves. The rest of the media is going to be calling this an “IoT DDOS” and the hype will spin out of control. Hype aside, the facts on the ground make it look like an extremely large distributed denial-of-service attack (DDOS) was just carried out using mostly household appliances (145,607 of them!) rather than grandma’s old Win XP system running on Pentiums."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Sad reality: It's cheaper to get hacked than build strong IT defenses @ The Register
- ITRI cooperates with Nvidia to develop self-driving technology @ DigiTimes
- Surface Pro 3 branded battery borkage continues @ The Register
- OpenSSL swats a dozen bugs, one notable nasty @ The Register
- iOS 10 makes it easier to crack iPhone back-ups, says security firm @ The Register
- Double KO! Capcom's Street Fighter V installs hidden rootkit on PCs @ The Register
- Ig Nobel Prizes: GoatMan, Volkswagen, and the Personalities of Rocks @ Hack a Day
Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 29, 2016 - 12:38 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: water cooling, liquid cooler, Intel, copper radiator, be quiet!, amd, AIO
Be Quiet!, a popular German manufacturer of PC cases and power supplies is jumping into the liquid cooling game with the introduction of its new Silent Loop all-in-one (AIO) liquid coolers. Through a partnership with Alphacool, Be Quiet! Is launching three new coolers with 120mm, 240mm, and 280mm radiators. It is not clear exactly when they will be arriving stateside but pricing is approximately $124, $143, and $170 respectively.
The Silent Loop 280 AIO liquid CPU cooler.
The new coolers come clad in all black and feature a new pump design paired with copper cold plates and copper radiators. This is nice to see in the wake of aluminum radiators because using the same metals throughout the loop mitigates the risk of galvanic corrosion that will eventually occur in loops that use mixed metals.
The AIO loop is paired with two Silent Wings 2 fans which use rifle bearings and can spin up to 2,000 RPM. To further set the Silent Loop series apart, Be Quiet! uses a nickel plated CPU cold plate, a radiator with a fill port to allow users to top up the fluids over time, and a reportedly innovative (read: not infringing on Asetek IP) "decoupled reverse flow pump" that spins at 2,200 RPM and allegedly reduces noise to nearly inaudible levels. The pump pulls water into the block and over the cold plate and then pulls it through the pump which is in a sectioned off area of the block.
As for the copper radiators, Be Quiet is using 30mm radiators on the Silent Looop 240 and Silent Loop 280 coolers with two fans side by side and a thicker 45mm radiator on the Silent Loop 120 with two fans in a push-pull configuration. Be Quiet! claims that the 120mm, 240mm, and 280mm coolers can handle wattages of 270W, 350W, and 400W respectively (these numbers are likely with the fans cranked to their maximum speeds heh). The included fans can be controlled via PWM and Be Quiet! includes a Y splitter that allows users to attach both fans to one PWM motherboard header – which is good since the CPU_Fan header is sometimes the only "true" PWM header offered.
The liquid coolers use Philips screws throughout for mounting the radiator, fans, and CPU mount and they are compatible with all the usual Intel and AMD sockets.
Several sites already have reviews of the new coolers including Kit Guru and Guru3D. According to Leo Waldock from Kit Guru, the Be Quiet! Silent Loop 240 is a "funky and nice piece of hardware" and while it did not blow him away it is competitively priced and performs very closely to the Corsair H100i V2. Out of the box the cooler was reportedly inaudible but with lackluster cooling performance; however, once the fans were cranked up from their normal 1,100 RPM to 1,400 RPM cooling performance greatly improved without sound getting too out of control.
In all it looks good aesthetically and appears to be easy to install. If you are in the market for an AIO and do not need fancy extras (LEDs, monitoring software, ect), the Silent Loop coolers might be worth looking into. Hopefully we can get one in for review so that Sebastian or Morry can take it apart... I mean test it! (heh).
Subject: General Tech | September 29, 2016 - 12:48 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, toshiba, Silverstone, S340, rampage v edition 10, podcast, ocz, nzxt, gtx 1070, fsp, Evoluent, evga, asus, AOC, amd, A12-9800
PC Perspective Podcast #419 - 09/29/16
Join us this week as we discuss the Edition 10 of the Rampage V motherboard, a VerticalMouse, a shiny SilverStone case, the AMD A12-9800 and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store (audio only)
- Google Play - Subscribe to our audio podcast directly through Google Play!
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader (audio only)
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath and Jeremy Hellstrom
Program length: 1:05:25
Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 25, 2016 - 10:31 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: In Win 509, in win, full tower, E-ATX Case
In Win recently took the wraps off of a high end mid full tower case called the 509. The new full tower is constructed from SECC steel and uses edge-to-edge tempered glass on the front and side panels. It measures 527mm x 235mm x 578mm (HxWxD) (which is approximately 20.78” x 9.25” x 22.75”) and comes in black with either dark gray or ROG-certified red accents. The case is available now at various retailers (such as Newegg) for a cool $184.99 plus shipping.
On the outside, the In Win 509 sticks to the basics with simple lines. There are vents along the edges of the front panel and hexagonal honeycomb vents on the right side panel for ventilation in addition to vents along the bottom and rear panels. There are no top exhaust vents on this case which helps maintain the clean look. The left side panel is an edge-to-edge piece of tinted tempered glass that can be removed with four thumb screws. A magnetic system might have been a better looking choice but the screws are likely more secure and help against vibration noise.
Further, the front panel hosts a single right-aligned 5.25” bay, the front I/O (four USB 3.0 and two audio), and a large tempered glass panel. There is an LED-lit In Win logo that can be seen through the glass panel. The LED will light up red by default but if you have an RGB LED controller or RGB LED header on your motherboard you can customize the color.
Cooling is a bit less traditional on the In Win 509 and interestingly there are no included fans with the case. Users can install fans in the following positions:
- 3 x 120mm in the front
- 1 x 140mm on the rear panel
- 2 x 140mm or 3 x 120mm on the bottom (including the PSU fan).
There is a large removable filter in the bottom (much to Ryan’s dismay), and users can alternatively install 360mm water cooling radiators in the side, front, or middle of the case depending on whether or not they need all the drive cages installed.
Internally, the In Win 509 supports bottom mounted power supplies with grommeted cable routing holes, E-ATX motherboards, CPU towers up to 188mm high, and graphics cards up to 370mm in length. The case offers eight PCI slots and brackets to help secure large and heavy GPUs. On the storage front, the case supports five 3.5” drives (three on bottom and two on top) as well as four 2.5” vertical bays that users can choose to install either SSDs or 120mm fans.
In all it looks like a well-built case and seems to be backed up by reviews. According to Bit-Tech, the In Win 509 is easy to work in and has excellent water cooling support; however, the lack of fans does hurt its out of the box cooling performance. It is available now with a three year warranty.
Subject: General Tech | September 28, 2016 - 01:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: VR, sword master vr, htc vive, gaming
With the amount of VR benchmarks coming out of [H]ard|OCP lately we wonder if they are in danger of becoming the worlds first VR addicts. They tested the usual suite of two AMD cards and five NVIDIA to determine the amount of dropped frames and average render times in this particular game. As it turns out the game is harder on the player than it is the GPU, all were able to provide decent experiences when swashbuckling. The developer recommends you clear a 2x1.5m area to play this game and from what [H]ard|OCP experienced while playing this is no joke; you will get exercise while you are duelling some of the harder opponents.
"Do you want to fight the Black Knight in a sword fight? There is not exactly a "Black Knight" in Sword Master VR, but you can certainly get that feeling. In fact, you can fight him and a couple of his friends at the same time if you are up to the challenge. Just pull the sword from the stone for $10."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Electric Heart: Deus Ex Story DLC System Rift Released @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Battlefield 1 single player uses a 'war story' anthology format @ HEXUS
- Erected: Civilization VI System Requirements Finalised @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Respawn provides detailed Titanfall 2 PC specs @ HEXUS
- For The Emp, Er, Uh: WH40k Eternal Crusade Released @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Wasteland 3 will have multiplayer, XCOM-style cinematic camera @ Polygon
- Back to school sale @ GOG
- Warhammer 40,000: Dawn Of War 3 Shows Off Eldar @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 27, 2016 - 01:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: VR, trickster vr, amd, nvidia, htc vive
[H]ard|OCP continues their look into the performance of VR games on NVIDIA's Titan X, GTX 1080, 1070, 1060 and 970 as well as AMD's Fury X and RX 480. This particular title allowed AMD to shine, they saw the RX 480 come within a hair of matching the GTX 1060 which is a first for them and shows that AMD can be a contender in the VR market. Pop by to see their review in full.
"Arm yourself with a bow and arrows, a magic sword that flies, or if you prefer, a handful of throwing darts. Then get ready to take on the procedurally generated fantasy world full of cartoonish Orcs, and more Orcs, and some other Orcs. Headshots count as well as chaining your shots so aim is critical. Did I mention the Orcs?"
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- MSI GeForce GTX 1080 GAMING X 8G @ [H]ard|OCP
- AMD Radeon RX 480 CrossFire Performance Comparison @ TechARP
Subject: General Tech | September 30, 2016 - 10:58 PM | Scott Michaud
Blender 2.78 has been a fairly anticipated release. First off, people who have purchased a Pascal-based graphics card will now be able to GPU-accelerate their renders in Cycles. Previously, it would outright fail, complaining that it didn't have a compatible CUDA kernel. At the same time, the Blender Foundation fixed a few performance issues, especially with Maxwell-based GM200 parts, such as the GeForce 980 Ti. Pre-release builds included these fixes for over a month, but 2.78 is the first build for the general public that supports it.
In terms of actual features, Blender 2.78 starts to expand the suite's feature set into the space that is currently occupied by Adobe Animate CC (Flash Professional). The Blender Foundation noticed that users were doing 2D animations using the Grease Pencil, so they have been evolving the tool in that direction. You can now simulate different types of strokes, parent these to objects, paint geometry along surfaces, and so forth. It also has onion skinning, to see how the current frame matches its neighbors, but I'm pretty sure that is not new to 2.78, though.
As you would expect, there are still many differences between these two applications. Blender does not output to Flash, and interactivity would need to be done through the Blender Game Engine. On the other hand, Blender allows the camera, itself, to be animated. In Animate CC, you would need to move, rotate, and scale objects around the stage by the amount of pixels on an individual basis. In Blender, you would just fly the camera around.
This leads in to what the Blender Foundation is planning for Blender 2.8x. This upcoming release focuses on common workflow issues. Asset management is one area, but Viewport Renderer is a particularly interesting one. Blender 2.78 increases the functionality that materials can exhibit in the viewport, but Blender 2.8x is working toward a full physically-based renderer, such as the one seen in Unreal Engine 4. While it cannot handle the complex lighting effects that their full renderer, Cycles, can, some animations don't require this. Restricting yourself to the types of effects seen in current video games could decrease your render time from seconds or minutes per frame to around real-time.
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