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Need more Star Wars? Check out the Battlefront trailer

Subject: General Tech | April 22, 2015 - 03:05 PM |
Tagged: Star Wars, Star Wars Battlefront, frostbite 3

December is a long way off but November 17th is a little bit closer and will give you something to stave off your impatience as that is the release date for the new Star Wars Battlefront.  The Frostbite based game will support up to 40 players in a battle with all your favourite locations, characters, weapons, and vehicles; from various eras in the Star Wars galaxy from what we can gleam.  There will also be a single player mode consisting of what EA is referring to as crafted missions, which may be playable in co-op mode aas well as solo. 

This being an EA game they have already coated it with the repulsive substances, In Game Footage, Pre-Order and DLC.  They claim in this article at HEXUS that "the amount of content in the game has absolutely zero to do with DLC. I can say that with all honesty.", undermined by the fact that if you pre-order you get access to a map called "Battle of Jakku" on December 1st instead of the 8th.  This of course smacks of future preferential treatment for those willing to pay for early access to content everyone else has to wait for.  The trailer below is referred to as being in game footage but we are all smart enough to know that while it is certainly rendered with the game engine it is not representative of what your game will look like while you are playing it.  Can EA do more harm to the series than Jar Jar or is this just a minor inconvenience at the release of a game that will prove to be a fan favourite?

"It’s got all your favourites: the robocow, crossjets, hoverbikes, the notorious Crumpet Eagle, Johnny Rockets, and even that mean black Cylon with his lasersword. I am far more interested in the unreal possibilities of sci-fi face-shooting than humdrum real-world jazz."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

ARM's chips are flying off the shelves in Q1

Subject: General Tech | April 22, 2015 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: arm, Q1 2015

ARM seems to be completely ignoring the sales downturn that almost every single component manufacturer has seen in this quarter, as well as previous ones, turning in on increase of 14% on revenue and 24% on profit in Q1 of 2015.  As The Register points out that equates to 450 chips selling every second, something even automated stock trading algorithms have to be impressed by.  Royalty revenue increased by 31% thanks to Mali, regardless of Apple's decision not to use that chip in their iPhone 6.  You can expect to see more news on ARM from us in the near future and you can expect the news to be good for their investors and users.

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"The first three months of 2015 have been good to ARM, which saw revenues of $348.2m and pre-tax profits of $120.5m in the first quarter, with 3.8 billion ARM-based chips shipped - or more than 450 chips per second."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register
Author:
Subject: Systems, Mobile
Manufacturer: Intel

Specifications

When I first was handed the Intel Compute Stick product at CES back in January, my mind began to race with a lot of questions. The first set were centered around the capabilities of the device itself: where could it be used, how much performance could Intel pack into it and just how many users would be interested in a product like this? Another set of questions was much more philosophical in nature: why was Intel going in this direction, does this mean an end for the emphasis on high performance componentry from Intel and who comes up with these darned part numbers?

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I have since settled my mind on the issues surrounding Intel’s purpose with the Compute Stick and began to dive into the product itself. On the surface the Intel Compute Stick is a product entering late into a potentially crowded market. We already have devices like the Roku, Google Chromecast, the Apple TV, and even the Amazon Fire TV Stick. All of those devices share some of the targets and goals of the Compute Stick, but the one area where Intel’s product really stands out is flexibility. The Roku has the most pre-built applications and “channels” for a streaming media box. The Chromecast is dirt cheap at just $30 or so. Even Amazon’s Fire TV Stick is clearly the best choice for streaming Amazon’s own multimedia services. But the Intel Compute Stick can do all of those things – in addition to operating as a standalone PC with Windows or Linux. Anything you can do I can do better…

But it’s not a product without a few flaws, most of which revolve around the status of the current operating system designs for TVs and larger displays. Performance obviously isn’t peeling the paint off any walls, as you would expect. But I still think at for $150 with a full copy of Windows 8.1 with Bing, the Intel Compute Stick is going to find more fans that you might have first expected.

Continue reading our review of the Intel Compute Stick!!

Gigabyte To Host X99 Champion Challenge on HWBOT

Subject: General Tech | April 22, 2015 - 10:26 AM |
Tagged: overclocking, hwbot, gigabyte, contest

Gigabyte will host the upcoming X99 Champion Challenge beginning May 1st on HWBOT.org, and the overclocking contest runs in six stages ending on May 31.

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According to Gigabyte, "by participating, overclockers have the chance to win $2,800 USD in cash prizes and some exciting hardware, including the leader of them all, the X99-SOC Champion!" True to the name of the contest participants must use a Gigabyte X99 motherboard, and each stage offers a different challenge:

Contest Stages
Stage 1: XTU - May 1st until May 8th, 2015
- CPU frequency 4GHz max
- RAM at 3300MHz max.
- GIGABYTE X99 Motherboards only

Stage 2: XTU - May 8th until May 15th, 2015.
- CPU frequency 4.5GHz max
- Uncore at 4.5GHz max.
- GIGABYTE X99 Motherboards only

Stage 3: XTU - May 15th until May 31st, 2015.
- CPU frequency 5GHz max
- GIGABYTE X99 Motherboards only

Stage 4: Fire-Strike - May 1st until May 27th, 2015.
- Single NVIDIA GT 730 graphics card
- GIGABYTE X99 Motherboards only

Stage 5: Catzilla 720p - May 1st until May 28th, 2015.
- Single NVIDIA GT 730 graphics card
- GIGABYTE X99 Motherboards only

Stage 6: 3DMark 2001 SE - May 1st until May 28th, 2015.
- Single NVIDIA GT 730 graphics card
- GIGABYTE X99 Motherboards only

The full press release with contest rules is available here.

Source: Gigabyte

The Enermax Thormax Giant is no wasp waisted SFF case

Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 21, 2015 - 05:58 PM |
Tagged: enermax, Thormax Giant, full tower

With all the focus on SFF systems lately it is nice to see a big hearty full sized case now and again.  Enermax has released just such a case, the Thromax GT which can house four 5.25" drives, five 3.5" and a 2.5" hidden behind the motherboard mount or a variety of other setups depending on your use of the converters, up to an including eight 2.5" at the cost of all your 3.5" and two of the 5.25" bays. E-ATX boards will fit, with up to nine expansion slots and if you chose air cooling many of the grates will accept 180mm or even 200mm fans with dust filters which easily slide out for cleaning.  Modders-Inc were more than impressed with the volume, the fully featured front panel and the $159.99 price tag.  Check out the full review here.

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"Full-tower cases are sought after for the extra room they provide for system building but if size is the only thing they offer then things would get boring fast. With the market as competitive as it is, case manufacturers have begun looking into offering more than space and design cases that appeal to a lifestyle rather than be an all-in-one …"

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: Modders Inc

GTA V: The GPU review

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 21, 2015 - 04:07 PM |
Tagged: GTA5, gaming, titan x, GTX 980, R9 290X, r9 295x2

Some sort of game involving driving stolen prostitutes into cars in an open sore world has arrived and the questions about what it takes to make the game look good are popping up like pills.  [H]ard|OCP seems to have heard of the game and tested out its performance on the top performing video cards from AMD and NVIDIA in both single and doubles.  You will get more out of a double but unfortunately only around a 50% improvement so obviously that second shot is watered down a bit.  In the end the GTX TITAN X was the best choice for those who want to crank everything up, with the 980 tasting slightly better than the 290X for those that actually have to ask the price.  Check the full review here.

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"Grand Theft Auto V has finally been released on the PC. In this preview we will look at some video card comparisons in performance, maximize graphics settings at 1440p and 4K. We will briefly test AMD CHS Shadow and NVIDIA PCSS shadow and talk about them. We will even see if SLI and CrossFire work."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

The Linux AMDGPU for R9 285 arrives

Subject: General Tech | April 21, 2015 - 03:07 PM |
Tagged: tonga, linux, carrizo, AMDGPU, amd

It will not be officially rolled in until kernel 4.2 but you can currently grab the new binary blob by following the links from Phoronix.  This new AMDGPU kernel driver will be used by both the full open-source driver and the Catalyst driver provided officially by AMD and provide support not only for the R9 285 but upcoming families as well.  There is still some development to be done as AMD's Alex Deucher told Phoronix that this initial code lacks power management features for Tonga but that will be addressed shortly.

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"At long last the source code to the new AMDGPU driver has been released! This is the new driver needed to support the Radeon R9 285 graphics card along with future GPUs/APUs like Carrizo. Compared to the existing Radeon DRM driver, the new AMDGPU code is needed for AMD's new unified Linux driver strategy whereby the new Catalyst driver will be isolated to being a user-space binary blob with both the full open-source driver and the Catalyst driver using this common AMDGPU kernel driver."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Phoronix
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: GameBench

Battle of the Sixes, they call it

GameBench is a low-level application released in 2014 that attempts to bring the technical analysis and benchmarking capability of the PC to the mobile device. You might remember that I showed you some early results and discussed our use of the GameBench testing capability in my Dell Venue 8 7000 review a few months back; my understanding and practice of using the software was just beginning at that time and continues to grow as I spend time with the software.

The idea is simple yet powerful: GameBench allows Android users, and soon iOS users, the ability to monitor frame rates of nearly any game or 3D application that you can run on your phone or tablet to accurately measure real-world performance. This is similar to what we have done for years on the PC with FRAPS and allows us to gather average frames per second data over time. This is something that was previously unavailable to consumers or press for that matter and could be a very powerful tool for device to device comparisons going forward. The ability to utilize actual games and applications and gather benchmark data that is accurate to consumer experiences, rather than simply synthetic graphics tests that we have been forced to use in the past, will fundamentally change how we test and compare mobile hardware.

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Image source: GameBench.net

Today, GameBench itself released a small report meant to showcase some of the kinds of data the software can gather while also revealing early support for Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices. Primary competitors for the comparison include the Apple iPhone 6, the Samsung Galaxy S6, HTC One M9 and Motorola Nexus 6.  I was able to get an early look at the report and offer some feedback, while sharing with our readers my views on the results.

GameBench tested those four devices in a total of 10 games:

  • Asphalt 8: Airborne
  • Real Racing 3
  • Dead Trigger 2
  • Kill Shot
  • Modern Combat 5: Blackout
  • Boom Beach
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  • GTA: San Andreas
  • Marvel: Contest of Champions
  • Monument Valley

These games all vary in price and in play style, but they all are in the top 50 games lists for each platform and are known for their graphically intense settings and look.

Continue reading our story on GameBench's new benchmarking capability for Android and iOS devices!!

AMD's Lisa Su Expects Windows 10 to Launch in July

Subject: General Tech | April 21, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: windows 10, windows, microsoft, amd

The CEO of AMD is an unexpected, but probably very accurate, source when it comes to knowing the Windows 10 release date. First off, the news broke on a quarterly earnings call. When you make a statement on those, you have a strong legal obligation to be telling the truth according to the knowledge that you have at the time. Also, as a major hardware vendor of CPUs and GPUs, her company would have been notified by Microsoft so that they could plan development of graphics drivers and so forth. It also aligns with the “Summer” announcement made last month by Microsoft.

She believes that Windows 10 is set to launch in July.

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Of course, this led to a flurry of comments that claim three months will not be enough time to bake a successful product. Others, naturally, claim that Microsoft has been developing software for long enough to know that they can finish their product in three months. Still others shrug and say, “Yeah, you both make sense. I'm going to go play some Grand Theft Auto.”

One aspect that I don't see mentioned enough is that Microsoft has multiple projects and teams on the go, and we only see a fraction of what is being done in our Insider branch. Despite the narrative that Microsoft wishes to avoid another Windows 8 fiasco and they want their users to guide development, they have alluded that a major reason for the Insider program is to test their build delivery system. While I am having a bit of a hard time finding the supporting quote, I did find one reference to it being the reason for ISOs being delayed.

And finally – we heard from you loud and clear you want ISO images of the new builds we release. We felt it was important to listen to that and give you what you want – but there’s a catch. Getting the update & install data from our Preview Builds mechanism is super important for us. It helps us ensure smooth ESD distribution, download, and upgrade success for this program going forward, and also will help us ensure great upgrades for people once we release Windows 10. So we’re going to release the ISOs at the same time as we publish to the Slow ring. That means if you want to be FIRST and FASTEST to get the build, you’ll need to use our Preview Builds mechanisms (either automatic or Check Now in PC Settings to download.) If you must have an ISO you’ll have to be a bit more patient. I hope that you’ll consider that a fair tradeoff.

So what is my point? Basically, it is difficult for us to make assumptions about how baked Windows 10 is from our standpoint. They are being more open with us than ever about their development methods, but we don't know certain key things. We don't know what final feature set they plan. We don't know how much work has been done on any individual feature since it was merged into a build that we saw. We also don't know how much has been done by third parties. In some cases, a release in three months could equate to like, six months of work for a specific team since their last contribution was merged. I do think that any major feature we see at BUILD will pretty much be the last additions to the OS before it launches though, unless they have a surprise that will surface at E3 or something.

Also, remember that the things they show us are slanted to what they want feedback about.

Source: Thurrott.com

Thermaltake Launches New Fan Controller With Touchscreen

Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 20, 2015 - 11:50 PM |
Tagged: touchscreen, thermaltake, fan controller, bling, 5.25-inch bay

Looking to ditch that DVD drive that hasn't powered up in three years for something with a bit more bling? Thermaltake is hoping that you will look no further than their new Commander FT fan controller. Slotting into a 5.25-inch drive bay, the Commander FT is dominated by a large 5.5-inch touchscreen display and allows you to control up to five case fans.

Thermaltake Commander FT Touch Installed In Mid-Tower PC Case.jpg

The Commander FT is a five channel, 50W design (10W per channel) design powered by a single Molex connector. Fan support includes 3-pin or 4-pin (PWM) fans. The touch panel is laid out with large on screen buttons. The capacitive screen shows temperature and fan RPM speeds and allows users to engage automatic or manual control modes. Thermaltake includes two automatic presets called performance and silent which perform how one would expect – the performance mode ramps all connected fans to their highest speeds while the silent mode keeps fans spinning as slowly as possible while keeping the case temperature in check. When it comes to manual mode, users can choose individual fan channels and adjust their speeds using an on-screen slider.

Although it is not the most powerful fan controller (only 10W/channel) on the market, it sure looks sharp. If you are looking for a high end fan controller, the Commander FT will be available soon for $37 from online retailers (such as Newegg). 

Source: Thermaltake

ECS LIVA X; the non-HTPC review

Subject: Systems | April 20, 2015 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: windows, SoC, mini-pc, Intel, ECS, Bay Trail-M

When Sebastian reviewed the LIVA X he focused on the performance of the device as an HTPC running Ubuntu ...  before attempting to determine its effectiveness in creating a peanut butter and banana omelette, but that is a different story.

Overclocker's Club took a different tack, examining how it would perform for light gaming duties.  On default settings the LIVA X managed 517 in Sky Diver, 1198 in Cloud Gate, 14200 in Ice Storm, and 9598 in Ice Storm Extreme.  This would make it effective at playing mobile games or even playing through legacy games available through GoG or the Internet Archive; they tested CivV as a more modern title and while playable it wasn't great.  Check out the full review for the other benchmark results.

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"The ECS LIVA X surprised me with its small size and completely silent operation. I was able to surf the internet and do work on it very quickly. I enjoyed using it and experienced no problems with browsing the internet, using Office applications, or watching streaming videos on Netflix. Amazon Prime would occasionally lag a little – usually when the HUD would pop up."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

AMD is making SeaMicro walk the plank

Subject: General Tech | April 20, 2015 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: amd, seamicro, HPC

Just over three years ago AMD purchased SeaMicro for $334 million to give them a way to compete in HPC applications against Intel who had recently bought up QLogic and the InfiniBand interconnect technology.  The purchase of SeaMicro included their Freedom Fabric technology which was at that time able to create servers which could use Atom or Xeon chips in the same infrastructure.  AMD developed compatibility with their existing Opteron chips and it was thought that this would be a perfect platform to launch Seattle, their hybrid 64bit ARM chips on.  Unfortunately with the poor revenue that AMD has seen means that the SeaMicro server division is being cut so they can focus on their other products.  Lisa Su obviously has more information that we do on the performance of AMD but it seems counter-intuitive to shut down the only business segment to make positive income, but as The Register points out the $45m which they made is down almost 50% from this time last year.  AMD will keep the fabric patents but as of now we do not know if they are looking to sell their server business, license the patents or follow some other business plan.

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"Tattered AMD says it's done with its SeaMicro server division, following a grim quarter that saw the ailing chipmaker weather losses beyond the expectations of even the gloomiest of Wall Street analysts."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and First Impressions

The ASUS X205 offers the full Windows 8.1 notebook experience for the cost of a Chromebook, and the design offers a surprising amount of polish for the price. Is this $199 Atom-powered notebook a viable solution as a daily driver? We're about to find out.

Introduction

What do you use a laptop for? A thoughtful answer to this question can be the most important part of the process when selecting your next notebook PC, and if your needs are modest there are a growing number of very low-cost options on the market. For example, I personally do not play games on a laptop, typically alternating between web, email, and Microsoft Office. Thus for myself the most important aspects of a notebook PC become screen quality, keyboard, trackpad, and battery life. High performance is not of utmost importance, and I assure myself of at least speedy load times by always choosing (or installing) a solid-state hard drive. For those reasons when I first read the description and specifications of the ASUS X205 notebook, I took notice.

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The X205 is a small notebook with an 11.6” display and 1366x768 resolution, essentially matching the form-factor of Apple's 11.6" MacBook Air. It is powered by a quad-core Intel Atom processor with 2GB of RAM, and onboard storage is solid-state - though limited to 32GB and of the slower eMMC variety (which is in keeping with many Chromebooks). There is adequate connectivity as well, with the expected wireless card and two USB 2.0 ports. One aspect of this design that intrigued me was the trackpad, which ASUS claims is using "smartphone technology", indicating a touchscreen digitizer implementation. Smoothness and accuracy are the biggest problems I find with most inexpensive notebook trackpads, and if this turns out to be a strong performer it would be a major boon to the X205's overall usability. I opted for the Microsoft Signature Edition of the X205TA, which carries the same $199 retail price but does not come preloaded with any trialware or other junk software.

At the outset this feels like a compelling product simply because it retails for the same price as an average Chromebook, but offers the flexibility of a full Windows 8.1 installation. Granted this is the “Windows 8.1 with Bing” version found on low-cost, low-power devices like this, but it offers the functionality of the standard version. While Chrome OS and Google's productivity apps are great for many people, the ability to install and run Windows applications made this highly preferable to a Chromebook for me. Of course beyond the operating system the overall experience of using the laptop will ultimately decide the viability of this inexpensive product, so without further preamble let's dive right into the X205TA notebook!

Continue reading our review of the ASUS EeeBook X205TA $199 Notebook!!

Windows 10 Internal Builds "Jump" from 1006x to 101xx

Subject: General Tech | April 20, 2015 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

According to WinBeta, the internal builds of Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system have jumped from the 10060s-range to the 10100s. This mirrors the activity before January's consumer event, which led to the release of 9926. What this likely means is that Microsoft has forked internal development ahead of their BUILD 2015 conference, which takes place between April 29th and May 1st.

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I expect that they will release a new, highly-tested build in the 1006x-1008x range to both Fast and Slow rings, like 9926 was, at or around the time of the event. Meanwhile, new and experimental features will land on the 10100 branch. The interesting question is: when will we see that later fork?

If Microsoft dedicates themselves to rapid releases, it might not be too long for users in the Fast ring, or a faster-than-Fast ring that they could potentially announce at the event. With the visibility of BUILD, it would be a good time for them to shake up their release cycle. They really cannot afford to relax quality control any more significantly than they did with 10041 without assurance that Insiders get the message. The journalist attention of the conference would likely do it though.

Alternatively, the released build might be classified as a developer preview that is expected to stick around for a while. If I needed to guess though, I doubt it. As stated earlier, it will probably be a highly QA-tested build for Slow ring users, but I see little reason for Microsoft to throttle down the more enthusiastic users. When 10049 was the last build for Fast users, you could say that they were not wanting to overshadow BUILD. That obviously does not apply after the conference is over, and I cannot see anything else further on the horizon.

That is, of course, unless they are getting cold feet about releasing not-fully-baked builds to the public.

Source: WinBeta

Red Hat Joins Khronos Group

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 20, 2015 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: Red Hat, Khronos

With a brief blog post, Red Hat has announced that they are now members of the Khronos Group. Red Hat, one of the largest vendors of Linux software and services, would like to influence the direction of OpenGL and the upcoming Vulkan API. Also, apart from Valve, they are one of the only Linux vendors that contributes to the Khronos Group as an organization. I hope that their input counter-balances Apple, Google, and Microsoft, who are each members, in areas that are beneficial to the open-source operating system.

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As for now, Red Hat intends to use their membership to propose OpenGL extensions as well as influence Vulkan as previously mentioned. It also seems reasonable that they would push for extensions to Vulkan, which the Khronos Group mentioned would support extensions at GDC, especially if something that they need fails to reach “core” status. While this feels late, I am glad that they at least joined now.

Source: Red Hat

Moore's Law Is Fifty Years Old!

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | April 19, 2015 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: moores law, Intel

While he was the director of research and development at Fairchild Semiconductor, Gordon E. Moore predicted that the number of components in an integrated circuits would double every year. Later, this time-step would slow to every two years; you can occasionally hear people talk about eighteen months too, but I am not sure who derived that number. In a few years, he would go on to found Intel with Robert Noyce, where they spend tens of billions of dollars annually to keep up with the prophecy.

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It works out for the most part, but we have been running into physical issues over the last few years though. One major issue is that, with our process technology dipping into the single- and low double-digit nanometers, we are running out of physical atoms to manipulate. The distance between silicon atoms in a solid at room temperature is about 0.5nm; a 14nm product has features containing about 28 atoms, give or take a few in rounding error.

Josh has a good editorial that discusses this implication with a focus on GPUs.

It has been a good fifty years since the start of Moore's Law. Humanity has been developing plans for how to cope with the eventual end of silicon lithography process shrinks. We will probably transition to smaller atoms and molecules and later consider alternative technologies like photonic crystals, which routes light in the hundreds of terahertz through a series of waveguides that make up an integrated circuit. Another interesting thought: will these technologies fall in line with Moore's Law in some way?

Source: Tom Merritt

Google Chrome Team Commits to XP Throughout 2015

Subject: General Tech | April 17, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: windows xp, windows, microsoft, google, EoL, chrome

It has been a year since Microsoft cut off extended support for Windows XP including Internet Explorer security updates for the platform. Yeah, I know, it doesn't feel like it. Other browser vendors announced that they would continue to target the retired OS after Microsoft washed their hands of it. At the time, Google said they would give at least 12 months support, which brings us to yesterday.

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Now Google is extending their commitment to the end of the year. They did not say that it was a hard deadline for their customers, but they also did not add an “at least” qualifier this time. The browser vendor wants people to upgrade and admits that they cannot genuinely provide a secure experience if a known issue bites everyone at the OS level. You can keep training the guard at the door, but if your window falls out, mind the pun, then it is still dangerous to be inside.

Granted, we have not seen a major attack on XP over the last year. You would have to think that, even if the attacks are sophisticated, some of the victims would have noticed and reported it to someone. Still, I wonder how it keeps surviving, especially since I would have thought that at least one vulnerability in the last twelve Patch Tuesdays could be ported back to it.

Maybe it is too small of a target?

Source: Google
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

There's been a lot of recent talk about the Samsung SM951 M.2 PCIe SSD. It was supposed to launch as an NVMe product, but ended up coming out in AHCI form. We can only assume that Samsung chose to hold back on their NVMe-capable iteration because many devices are unable to boot fron an NVMe SSD. Sitting back for a few months was a wise choice in this case, as an NVMe-only version would limit the OEM products that could equip it. That new variant did finally end up launching, and we have rounded it and the other Samsung M.2 PCIe SSDs up for some much awaited testing:

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I'll be comparing the three above units against some other PCIe SSDs, including the Intel SSD 750, Kingston HyperX Predator, G.Skill Phoenix Blade, Plextor M6e Black, and more!

Continue reading our review of these hot new M.2 products!

Microsoft Currently A/B Testing Virtual Desktop Behavior

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2015 - 05:21 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, virtual desktops, microsoft

Virtual Desktops is one of the largest interface changes for Windows 10. It is an organizational feature, which allows users to group relevant windows together. This puts them out of sight when you don't want them but also easily accessible when you do, and with the programs that you would want to use alongside them.

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Microsoft is wondering about one specific area though: should running applications be visible in other desktops? Some believe that a virtual desktop should only show icons for applications in the current context, and alt+tab should behave the same. It makes sense, because otherwise you're exposing the clutter in the taskbar and alt+tab, which are some of the most visible places. Others want everything to be visible at all times, or alt+tab-able to at all time. I guess this is to reduce the clutter on the desktop, without touching the clutter otherwise?

Microsoft has stated clearly that both cases will be user-selectable because there is enough usage on both sides. A user can have virtual desktops affect the taskbar or not, or alt-tab or not, independently. The question they are trying to solve right now is “What should the default be?”

If you are a Windows 10 Technical Preview user, and you care about the adoption of Virtual Desktops, Microsoft might push you into one or the other camp. Later, they will pop up a notification to ask your opinion once they feel you have used it long enough.

This is one area that your vote will influence Windows 10 in a very specific way.

Source: Microsoft

EA Shuts Down Four Free-to-Play Games. No Refunds.

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2015 - 04:08 PM |
Tagged: ea, free to play, battlefield

Battlefield Heroes, Battlefield Play4Free, Need for Speed World, and FIFA World are set to disappear in three months. According to the site for one of these games, Battlefield Heroes, that corresponds to Tuesday, July 14th, 2015. The other three might be plus or minus a little bit, but it sounds like it will be a simultaneous shutdown. Refunds will not be provided, even if you have premium credit remaining unspent on your account. I guess that means that you should burn whatever you have left over while the servers are still running; EA will not accept new accounts or payments though.

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The announcement, made by Executive Vice President of EA Studios, Patrick Söderlund, assures players that other EA free-to-play titles are growing in player base and content. He uses Star Wars: The Old Republic as an example, which will receive updates over the year, including ones that build on its narrative.

But this is one of the problems with “free-to-play” and other genres with an authoritative online component: timed life. These titles are not going to be critiqued and celebrated in University courses over the upcoming decades and centuries. It is a difficult balance. On the one hand, it is interesting to create a universe that evolves and possibly mutates based on player interaction. Those experiences disappear though (and so does the money you tie into it). That doesn't mean “don't play them” -- just be aware what you're investing your time, money, and self-expression into.

Source: EA