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Avoiding online price creep

Subject: General Tech | October 24, 2014 - 12:29 PM |
Tagged: dirty pool, online retailers, wretched hive of scum and villany, airlines

Have you noticed that prices seem to creep up slightly every time you visit an online ticket site hoping for a deal?  As many are probably already aware, the cookies dumped on your machine when you browse allow the sites to keep track of how many times you have visited a site and can base their pricing off of that count.  In other cases they can tell if you are browsing their sites mobile device version or the desktop site and of course if you are logged in as a member or not.  So far none of these practices is technically illegal but they are also laughably easy to defeat.  Simply browsing in anonymous mode, clearing your cookies or even just using a different device will reset those prices and is a habit you should get into.  Slashdot has linked to a PDF which details many of these questionable practices and of course those ever polite commentators under the headline will offer sage and on topic advice.

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"For instance, the study found, users logged in to Cheaptickets and Orbitz saw lower hotel prices than shoppers who were not registered with the sites. Home Depot shoppers on mobile devices saw higher prices than users browsing on desktops. Some searchers on Expedia and Hotels.com consistently received higher-priced options, a result of randomized testing by the websites. Shoppers at Sears, Walmart, Priceline, and others received results in a different order than control groups, a tactic known as “steering.”

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Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

Cooler Master mouse parade, up next is the Mizar Gaming Mouse

Subject: General Tech | October 22, 2014 - 03:51 PM |
Tagged: Mizar, input, gaming mouse, cooler master

The Cooler Master Mizar gaming mouse has a nice understated appearance with a 7 buttons and high end Avago ADNS 9800 sensor capable of 1000 Hz/1ms.  That mix of design and technology let Cooler Master retail the mouse at a reasonable price without trimming out the functionality that really matters.  It does not ship with a copy of the software, which is a good thing as it will be outdated as soon as it is packaged, but there is a CM utility available for download to program your mouse buttons including macros and profiles.  Check out how it performs in game in Benchmark Reviews full article here.

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"For some odd reason Cooler Master seems to be releasing products everyday, whether it’s a new case or a new peripheral, their product line has been increasing exponentially in the past few years. What is not odd is the fact that many of Cooler Master products Benchmark Reviews has come across end up highly appraised. Today we are looking at one of two pointing devices Cooler Master has released this month."

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Raptr's Top PC Games of Sept. 2014 (Bonus: A Stats Lesson)

Subject: General Tech | October 20, 2014 - 10:14 PM |
Tagged: raptr, pc gaming

Raptr, a PC gaming utility, tracks the time spent within each game and aggregates that data across its user base. Its actual purpose is for game recording, adjusting quality settings for your machine's performance, community engagement, and so forth. Still, it is allowed to collect that data, so it does, and it shows fairly interesting trends of game popularity. Note that these figures represent percentage of total game play, by hour.

Before we get into the numbers, a quick reference about statistics. It may be counter-intuitive, but you can get a pretty accurate result from a relatively small amount of data. Ars Technica's "Steam Gauge" polled 100,000 random Steam accounts, including hidden ones by poking at generated IDs, and came up with fairly accurate sales figures, confirmed by a few indie developers.

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Where you can run into difficulties is if your random sample has some non-randomness, outside of your intended bounds. For instance, if you want to see trends involving PC gamers then it is logical to limit your survey to PC gamers, but you can run into systematic error if the study is voluntary, self-reporting, or has some other bias. Sometimes you cannot control these biases for your experiment, so multiple, different experiments may be necessary to dial in on a causation.

In this case, it seems like Raptr's study is an honest representation of the typical Raptr user. Tens of millions of samples is enough to crush random error. The only question that I can think of is whether Raptr users represent a sample space that you care about. If you want to know about the average gamer, including console, casual, and mobile, then maybe not. The average PC gamer? Definitely closer, but it should be compared to other studies in case there is disproportionate representation of some group. Interesting none-the-less? Of course.

So, that aside, the top three PC games of this poll stayed exactly where they are:

  1. League of Legends
  2. World of Warcraft
  3. DOTA 2

World of Warcraft and DOTA 2 held steady, but League of Legends increased its lead by over 14% (relative to second place). 22.54% of all play time that is recorded by Raptr is done in League of Legends. Diablo III jumped up to 5.23% of total due to the launch of a new "season", which encourages players to create new characters and compete for placement and loot. Basically, it attempts to recreate the feeling at launch where enthusiasts attempt to be the first to reach the level cap, and so forth.

The recently launched The Sims 4 found its way to #16. It launched on September 2nd, so it had basically a full month to collect usage time (including the launch surge). Raptr expects that it will slip off the list for October, and that makes sense for me.

Source: Raptr

Corsair's HX1000i is good, but not quite great

Subject: Cases and Cooling | October 21, 2014 - 02:26 PM |
Tagged: modular psu, HX1000i, Corsair Link, corsair, 80 Plus Platinum

Corsair have updated their high end and high powered PSU line with the HX1000i, developed once again with CWT and sporting an 80 PLUS Platinum rating and Corsair Link integration.  The documentation is a little confusing, referring to a single 12v rail rated at 83.3A or 1000W but also mentioning it can be toggled to multiple 12V rails, not to mention the small rounding error in their math.  The actual PSU is very well constructed and passed all of the tests that [H]ard|OCP's torture chamber required of it; just not to the same level that the older HX1000 unit managed.  That is a little disappointing as you would hope that the quality would improve over time but it is in line with the competition and certainly not a bad showing, merely not what [H] had hoped for.   It is still worth your consideration so make sure to read through the whole review to see if the HX1000i meets your needs.

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"Corsair's HX series represents its "second tier" line of enthusiast computer power supplies, but its new HX1000i does take the top spot when it comes to its ~1000 watt power supplies that are Platinum certified and fully modular. Let's see if this latest addition from Corsair represents its quality pedigree of days gone by. "

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CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Borderland lunacy abounds

Subject: General Tech | October 22, 2014 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: gaming, borderlands: the pre-sequel

As you may have noticed, Ryan and the gang from NVIDIA have been playing Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and giving out lots of prizes to viewers.  That is certainly enough to make anyone think positively about the newest installment of Gearbox's series, but how is the game its self?  Several familiar characters make an appearance, albeit in slightly different roles than either of the previous games nor do gravity or oxygen remain as they were.  Does the zany dialogue and cartoony graphics provide as much fun as the other games or has the series already reached its peak?  As usual Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN have thoughts on that topic to share with you.

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"It’s a little tricky to avoid feeling that a review of The Pre-Sequel (!) is superfluous. Surely everyone in the world has had a taste of Borderlands at this point, and have made their minds up about it? This is very much more of that same formula, with zaniness turned up to… What’s that, Steve? You’ve never played a Borderlands game? Wow."

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Gaming

Viva la LIVA, your USB powered system

Subject: Systems | October 20, 2014 - 05:42 PM |
Tagged: LIVA, silvermont

Yes, you read that right; this system can be powered by a USB power source, as long as it can provide a minimum of 2.1 amps.  It runs Windows 8.1 on a Silvermont generation Atom, with 64GB of local storage and 2GB of RAM and it is amazingly small, instead of showing you the exterior you can see the size of the board in comparison to the Atom and the VGA port.  It has a UEFI BIOS, certainly pared down in comparison to a high end motherboard but with more than enough options for what this device needs to do.  Check out the MadShrimps review here and be ready for another review to appear on our front page.

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"The mini PC kit ECS has offered is shipped in a DIY format, and incorporates a dual-core Intel Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC storage. The footprint of the product allows us to carry it anywhere and it can be even powered by an USB powerbank, if it can deliver at least 2.1 A"

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Systems

Source: MadShrimps