Can it Run VR? Crytek and Basemark Join Forces to Create Virtual Reality Benchmark

Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2015 - 02:14 PM |
Tagged: Basemark, crytek, oculus rift

With the release of Oculus Rift and various other head mounted displays you may be wondering if your current machine is powerful enough for you to use one of these devices or if you need to upgrade before you will enjoy the experience. 

Basemark logo blue.png

Basemark and Crytek have joined forces to create a new benchmark to test how your system will fare.  The benchmark will give you information on latency, verify your if hardware is able to run at 60, 75, 90 or 120fps with varying levels of graphics detail and even verify if your audio source can properly provide spacial audio cues.


Helsinki (Finland) and Frankfurt am Main (Germany) August 6th, 2015 – Basemark and Crytek today announced a new partnership to help create a definitive PC system test for virtual reality gaming.

The new VR benchmark will enable gamers and PC hardware companies to easily assess the level of experience they can expect when running virtual reality content, and will be the first service available that gives users recognizable, real-world metrics to describe their system’s VR readiness with various HMDs out there.

Developed using Crytek’s CRYENGINE technology, the benchmark will provide detailed feedback in areas such as the best graphical settings to use with a variety of VR headsets. Basemark’s expertise in measuring performance standards will be key as they formulate an objective test that evaluates everything from frame rate capabilities to memory consumption, latency issues, 3D audio performance and much more.


Crytek’s Creative Director for CRYENGINE, Frank Vitz, said: “Basemark is already helping to measure technology standards in other areas of gaming, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with them as we work to establish a user-friendly yardstick for VR performance. We believe CRYENGINE can become a go-to tool for developers looking to create compelling VR experiences, and this partnership means players can also count on CRYENGINE as they evaluate whether their PC is ready for the most advanced, cutting-edge VR content available.”

“We wanted to make a real-world VR gaming benchmark as opposed to a theoretical one and hence we’re very excited to announce this partnership with Crytek, the leading game engine company”, said Tero Sarkkinen, founder and CEO of Basemark, “By using CRYENGINE as the base and vetting the test workloads under our rigorous development process involving all the key technology players, we will forge the definitive benchmark for all PC VR gamers.”

Source: Basemark

Everyone needs an automated elastic band turret

Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2015 - 12:50 PM |
Tagged: DIY, turrent, arduino, 3d nand

With Black Hat in full swing anyone with even half a mind on their systems security is already depressed and likely to be even more so by the wrap up.  That is why you should all stare at this 3D printed, Arduino powered elastic band turret.  At the very least it should cheer you up and at best get you downloading the Thing Files to start printing your own.  The full load of 24 rubbers can be launched in a very short time, either automatically if you program the Arduino appropriately or manually with an optional joystick.  Head on over to MAKE:Blog to see this new step in desk defence.


"Looking like it would fit in perfectly in the smash hit game Portal, this little turret can launch a barrage of rubber bands on command. Designed by Kevin Thomas, this perky little gatling gun is mostly 3D printed, with an Arduino for a brain."

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Mount & Blade II Bannerlord Progress Update at Gamescom

Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2015 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, mount & blade ii, mount & blade

TaleWorlds has a cult classic franchise with Mount & Blade. Warband, the follow-up to the first Mount & Blade but didn't earn its own number, placed right behind Skyrim in Ars Technica's Steam Gauge for “Most Played Older Releases (2012 or Before) on Steam”. It is my most played game by far with over 800 hours recorded, albeit over the course of several years. I also participated in (and even hosted) organized events on a regular basis throughout that entire period, too.


The new game looks quite interesting, though. While the previous game's mods were more popular than its default content, its Siege mode drew a lot of attention. Armies were able to push siege towers against fortresses and slowly overtake the defenders -- attackers had unlimited respawns, but defenders did not. Eventually they would take a flag. Mods even played with destructible walls and buildings to force the attackers to create their own ways in, and the defenders to adapt in response. It seems like this version is expanding upon that with battering rams, catapults, and other team-controlled devices. While this is not as effective as a Napoleonic-era cannon, this might lead to the same effect.

They also flaunt time and weather rendering effects, and board games. Still no release date (or even publisher). This information is not even on their website yet. They're not known for rushing, at least.

Source: PC Gamer

Corsair Launches New RGB Peripherals

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | August 5, 2015 - 11:42 PM |
Tagged: corsair, gaming mouse, mechanical keyboard, gaming headset

At Gamescom in Germany, Corsair announced the Strafe RGB mechanical keyboard, the Void RGB headset, and the Scimitar RGB mouse. As you can guess, each of these have colored lighting with a full range of 16.8 million choices. The devices will be trickling out over the coming months, but we should have everything by October and their prices are all competitive.


First is the Strafe RGB mechanical keyboard. This device comes in three versions: Cherry MX RGB Red and Cherry MX RGB Brown for $149.99, or the “Cherry MX RGB Silent” switch for $159.99. What is a “Cherry MX RGB Silent” switch? No idea. I cannot find anywhere that says whether it is tactile or linear, so who knows. It allows 104 key rollover on USB, which means that you could press any combination of keys and each will be recognized. USB has a limit of about six, but Corsair probably registers the keyboard as several input devices to communicate the extra events. They are scheduled to launch in October.


Next up are the Void RGB headsets. The analog stereo one is available at $79.99, 7.1 USB raises the price to $99.99, and wireless 7.1 bumps the price up further to $129.99 (or $149.99 for a special Best Buy edition). The analog one doesn't do RGB backlighting, though. They are scheduled for later this month (August).


Last is the Scimitar RGB Gaming Mouse. This one is more interesting. Basically, Corsair took the number pad layout of the Razer Naga and Logitech G600 and did their own version of it. Its sensor is higher-precision at 12,000 DPI, but that metric has maxed out long ago for basically everyone. The number pad on the thumb side will allow a little more than a quarter inch of adjustment. This means that you can align the buttons slightly to match your grip. Each button is also mechanical, like the Razer Naga 2014, which is good for me because I have a problem with side buttons wearing out. Its price comes in at $79.99 and it will be available in September 2015.

Source: Corsair

LibreOffice 5.0 Released. x86 and x86-64 Builds for Windows.

Subject: General Tech | August 5, 2015 - 10:48 PM |
Tagged: libreoffice 5, LibreOffice

On the same day that Intel released Skylake for mainstream enthusiasts, The Document Foundation has published LibreOffice 5.0. This version brings a 64-bit version for Windows, which is another baby-step in the application's trend toward performance and stability improvements. There doesn't seem to be too many features to point to, besides new branding images, but it's the first release in their 5.0 branch. It is also numbered 5.0.5 because pre-releases don't want us to have nice things.


Despite having a supported 64-bit version, the 32-bit x86 build is still default when you go to the download page. If you manually select the x86-64 version's installer, it will erase previous, standard installs of LibreOffice 4 x86. I'm not sure if selecting a custom folder will change that, in case you wanted side-by-side installs for some reason, but it is also nice that the installer cleans up the previous version.

You can download it for free from their site. You will need to scroll down for the 64-bit version.

Just imagine the lineup at the spawnpoint for the Falcon, or Slave 1 for that matter

Subject: General Tech | August 5, 2015 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: Star Wars Battlefront, gaming

Thankfully a lineup will not be the problem as you will only be able to upgrade to a hero ship by locating a specific power-up present on the map, one hopes there is some randomness to this as otherwise both teams are likely to ignore each other as they battle their teammates to get to the power-up first.  There will be two main ship types, the X-Wing and TIE Fighters which have traditionally been the dogfighters and are likely to focus on energy weaponry with limited missile capability.  The TIE Interceptor and A-Wing are traditionally faster vehicles intended for scouting or rapid assaults using the A-Wing's concussion missile or the additional laser cannons present on the Interceptor.

According to the links from Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN the rebels will be able to temporarily generate shielding while the Imps will have what is effectively a turbo boost which should vary the tactics used depending on which team you play.  Check out the trailer below for a teaser.

"Twenty players will soar through the skies shouting “Zwap! Zwap!” and making noises like a trumpeting elephant driving a car on wet pavement (true story) in Star Wars Battlefront, backed up by more AI ships, in the newly-announced Fighter Squadron mode."

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It's certainly a hoverboard but you won't be riding it around much

Subject: General Tech | August 5, 2015 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: hoverboard

Yet another version of the hoverboard has appeared but once again it is of very limited usefulness.  This particular model appeared in a car commercial and did not require any special effects, just a lot of money and liquid nitrogen.  By implanting $100,000's of magnets in an area and filling a board containing a pair of powerful magnets which are cooled to superconductivity with liquid nitrogen you can indeed hover for about 10 minutes or so.  After that time you will need to top up the LN2 as the boards magnets will gain enough heat to lose their superconducting magnetic levitation.  The cost to run it does give a better ride than the Hendo board but also requires a much steeper investment.  Still, hoverboard!  Check out videos and more via Hack a Day.


"It is definitely real: the Jalopnik writer got to ride it himself, and described it as “Unbelievably difficult yet at the same time unbelievably cool, both because you’re levitating and because the board is filled with magnets more than 300 degrees below zero“."

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Source: Hack a Day

Still not worried about security on the Internet of Things?

Subject: General Tech | August 4, 2015 - 01:13 PM |
Tagged: security, scary, iot

Likely you caught at least one news story on the remotely disabled Jeep recently, with the attackers able to control system ranging from annoying to life threatening.  If that didn't rustle your jimmies, how about a drug infusion system used in hospitals which can be remotely controlled?  It is not just that the pump can be used to cut off or overdose a patient on drugs, it is the abysmal security that was put onto the pump. Both telnet and FTP ports were left wide open, two very popular and effective routes into systems you shouldn't necessarily be in and port 8443 which the system uses shipped with a generic password which, like SOHO routers everywhere, was never changed after the pump was installed.  Overall an inexcusable affront to those who think about security and a terrifying glimpse into the utter incompetence of providers of devices which were never network connected until recently.  You can read more about the Hospira horror story at The Register.


"The US Food and Drug Administration has told healthcare providers to stop using older drug infusion pumps made by medical technology outfit Hospira – because they can be easily hacked over a network."

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Source: The Register

Fan Creates Pip-Boy and Released 3D Printing Models

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | August 2, 2015 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: maker, fallout 4, DIY

Yvo de Haas, who has a degree in mechanical engineering from Windesheim University of Applied Sciences in Zwolle, Netherlands, creates props, robots, and other objects as a hobby. Previous creations include a joystick-controlled turret from Portal, GLaDOS, and a Fallout 3-style Pip-Boy.

The latest project was a Fallout 4-style Pip-Boy that accepts a smartphone, with an LG Nexus 5 shown in the demo video, above. It also contains a (non-functioning) cassette player at the top, which take Fallout-style tapes... so unfortunately you cannot pretend that your Vault Dweller is obsessed with Thriller. This model is currently available on the website for anyone with time and access to a 3D printer. The work is licensed under Creative Commons 4.0 Attribution ShareAlike, so you can use and modify the model however you like, as long as you share your alterations in a similar fashion (and assuming that you also don't violate Bethesda's trademarks in any way -- even though Haas' license permits commercial usage, Bethesda won't).


A second model (the “Accurate version”) is still in progress. This one is supposedly intended to be used with an embedded computer like a Raspberry Pi. It sounds like you will need to install a bare display and other components to make it work, but that will probably be more clear when it is published.

Source: Ytec3D

Valve's The International 2015

Subject: General Tech | August 1, 2015 - 10:55 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, esports, valve, DOTA, DOTA 2, asus, ASUS ROG

Each year, Valve Software puts on a giant DOTA2 tournament where teams compete for literally millions of dollars. As of this writing, the prize pool currently sits at $17.9 million USD, which is divided between a 6.5 million USD first place prize, down to just under $54,000 USD for 13th through 16th place. Granted, these are per-team prizes, so individual players and their organizations will split the earnings from there how they see fit. It will take place between August 3rd and end with the Grand Finals on August 8th.


Last year, the event was broadcast on ESPN3. While it does not seem to be mentioned on the official website, although the online streaming WatchESPN is listed, ESPN's calendar has The International on its ESPN3 calendar for all six days. That said, you could always watch it online like you obviously watch every episode of the PC Perspective podcast. Right? Live and participating in the chat?

You can also check out an ASUS RoG contest at the JoinDOTA website. The top prize is an ROG G751 Gaming Laptop, a mouse with mousepad, and t-shirt. Second prize gets the mouse, mousepad, and t-shirt. Third and fourth place gets a different mouse (without a mousepad) and a t-shirt. Fifth place has been there, done that, but only gets a t-shirt.

And for the rest of us, maybe someone will snap a picture of a Valve workstation while they're aren't looking... again.

Source: Valve

PC Gamer Compares Mechanical Keyboards

Subject: General Tech | August 1, 2015 - 10:26 PM |
Tagged: mechanical keyboard, Cherry MX, alps, topre, model m, model f

Purchasing an expensive gaming peripheral is a bit daunting, especially when it (mostly) comes down to how it feels. In these cases, we cannot resort to benchmarks or any other form of objective score. Instead, we need to classify and describe the attributes of each type of keyboard, letting our readers narrow down their choices by saying, “if you like this, choose from these”.


A couple of days ago, PC Gamer published a breakdown of many types of switches, including a few different types of Alps-style brands. They have force curves for each featured switch, which is challenging to find outside of the Cherry MX brand (as few other companies publish their own that I know of). They also write a short paragraph for each switch to explain what type of use and user they are for, which (as I've said) is the metric that matters most.

For the Cherry MX switches, they have animations to show how they operate from the side, which will give you clues to how it operates. They have been floating around the internet for a while. KeyboardLover is claiming that “Lethal Squirrel” created them before 2011. These animations give a visual explanation for what linear, tactile, and clicky means, to help you imagine how these attributes feel.

Also, of course, we published our own article back in December. Our article includes our own Cherry MX switch animations. They're not quite as good quality as the other ones, but they include synchronized side-on and rear-on cycles. The animations were originally made for a Rosewill keyboard roundup back in early 2012.

Source: PC Gamer

NVIDIA SHIELD; Feeling Hot! Hot! Hot!

Subject: General Tech | July 31, 2015 - 03:04 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, shield tablet, recall

NVIDIA SHIELD tablets which were sold over the past 12 months are being recalled by NVIDIA as there is a risk that the battery could overheat, possibly posing a fire hazard and of course proving they should never be used on a re-entry vehicle.  You will need to ensure that your SHIELD is running the newest OS, if not you will need to run the tablet long enough to update as older OS versions do not report the serial number, which you need to enter if you want a free replacement from NVIDIA.  Visiting will give you the steps to request a replacement if you want one.  So far there do not seem to be any reports of flaming NVIDIA users but you should probably not risk it.


"NVIDIA today announced a voluntary recall of its SHIELD 8-inch tablets that were sold between July 2014 and July 2015, which the company will replace. NVIDIA has determined that the battery in these tablets can overheat, posing a fire hazard. The recall does not affect any other NVIDIA products."

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Source: NVIDIA

Microsoft Rolls Out Windows SDK for Build 10240

Subject: General Tech | July 30, 2015 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows 10, visual studio

July 29th started the official roll-out of Windows 10 and, for Windows Insiders, was pretty much “Wednesday”. We already had everything of relevance by Monday on the OS side of things, and not even a security patch landed in our Windows Update queue. It was not the only thing that Microsoft launched today, though. While Visual Studio 2015 was released last week, it said that it was not compatible with pre-10240 SDKs and would delete them during the installation process and you will be unable to develop SDK apps until the one for 10240 launches on July 29th.


So, coincident with the OS release, Microsoft finally published the 10240 Windows SDK. Now, if you run Visual Studio 2015's installer, it will install the new SDK directly. You do not need to download it from a secondary source. These headers and libraries are placed in the “Windows Kits” folder of your 32-bit Program Files directory... ironically, without deleting the previous SDKs that it threatened to, when run before July 29th. Go figure.

Also, even though DirectX 12 has been in the Windows SDK for quite some time, Microsoft has, also, finally released code examples and they put them on their GitHub page. These samples teach you how to do things like draw a triangle, manage DirectX 11-era contexts alongside DirectX 12 ones in your application, and create an n-body gravity simulation. They welcome pull requests for fixes, although they might appreciate new samples as well.

Source: Microsoft

Podcast #360 - Intel XPoint Memory, Windows 10 and DX12, FreeSync displays and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 30, 2015 - 02:45 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, Intel, XPoint, nand, DRAM, windows 10, DirectX 12, freesync, g-sync, amd, nvidia, benq, uhd420, wasabi mango, X99, giveaway

PC Perspective Podcast #360 - 07/30/2015

Join us this week as we discuss Intel XPoint Memory, Windows 10 and DX12, FreeSync displays and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Sebastian Peak

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!


Powercolor has a soundcard; check out the Devil HDX

Subject: General Tech | July 30, 2015 - 02:19 PM |
Tagged: devil hdx, powercolor, audio, sound card, opamp

Yes, PCIe soundcards are still being made and Powercolor's Devil HDX is up for review on Overclockers Club.  As with most new cards this one features three OPAMPs which can can be removed and swapped with another to change the sound that is sent to your headset or speakers.  On the back are a 124db rated 6.3mm headphone jack, left and right RCA jacks, Coax output, and an optical output.  The daughtercard sports 5 standard analog 3.5mm jacks to give you 7.1 surround sound support if you have the speakers for it.  It is about $160 so make sure you have ears that are good enough to deserve high end sound, for many users this might be a bit of overkill.


"Setup as a stand alone solution, the Devil HDX gets to play in the best of both worlds with 124dB rated performance from the parent card and the option of running 7.1 sound through the addition of the daughter card. Here is my only beef with the Devil HDX. I know these are options that add cost, but when cultivating a brand it would just add to the package."

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Happy Sysadmin Day, now put Win10 on my work lappy immediately

Subject: General Tech | July 30, 2015 - 12:34 PM |
Tagged: windows 10

You are nowhere near as fed up with Win10 stories as you will be in a week or so sit down and get reading.  So far the biggest new issue has been those who have over 512 apps in their Start menu, not inconceivable but certainly not common.  Over at The Register a story has been put up covering Win10 by a person who admits to having 4,000 open browser tabs and sending the machine into hibernation in that state.  Their experiences show that Win10 doesn't care and even likes this sort of abuse as long as it is on an SSD.  That is not to say all is good, for there is still the technicolour yawn which is the new Start menu and the disturbing tendency for the OS to call on mom more often than Norman Bates.  Read the full article to see the good, bad and bothersome.


"It's Windows 10 day. That means it's time for a completely biased and in-no-way-even-remotely-objective assessment of Windows 10."

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Source: The Register

How exactly does one kickstart a Battlemech?

Subject: General Tech | July 29, 2015 - 01:46 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Mechwarrior, battletech

BattleTech is coming back baby!  Harebrained Schemes who have successfully rebooted the Shadowrun RPG system on PC and who are in the final steps of releasing the third game in that world have just announced plans to start a new Kickstarter campaign.  This time it will be a trip to the world of Battletech, the details are slim but we can expect to see both the larger view of the Battletech galaxy and the Houses that populate it as well as mech management and combat.  From what Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN were told this will be turn-based, not the FPS style of the Mechwarrior series of old.  No matter, this news is still exciting so keep your eyes peeled for more information.


"Harebrained Schemes is pleased to announce their return to Kickstarter this Fall to partner with backers in co-funding the creation of BATTLETECH. Jordan Weisman, the creator of BattleTech and MechWarrior, is back with the first turn-based BattleTech game for PC in over two decades."

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Stagefright not causing butterflies anymore

Subject: General Tech | July 29, 2015 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: google, stagefright, security

The Stagefright media player vulnerability on Android powered Nexus devices which allowed the possibility of running remotely execute code via an MMS containing a specially crafted media file.  It made headlines everywhere even though it is incredibly unlikely the bug was ever used in an attack.  Regardless, you no longer need to worry as Google has crafted a patch and has released it to the carriers.  You should keep an eye out this week and next for the update and if you do not see it apply you should reach out to your carrier.  More at The Inquirer.


"GOOGLE HAS SAID THAT THE STAGEFRIGHT PROBLEM is well in hand, and that it rushed to sort out the Android OS jitters before anything bad happened."

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Source: The Inquirer

RTM? Satya don't need no steenking RTM

Subject: General Tech | July 28, 2015 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

With not many hours left until launch, Windows 10 is still very obviously a service that is sill being serviced and the pressure is on at Microsoft.  NVIDIA users have discovered that having a clearly drawn display is not something they are likely to have by launch day, much to the amusement of us AMD users.  Until this week those used to uninstalling programs with the Control Panel as opposed to the new procedure of heading to Settings -> System -> Apps & features will find they are punished for their temerity with a Windows Explorer crash, certainly an interesting choice to reinforce the new behaviour.  Less common, though still frequent enough for The Register to make note of and for a patch to be released yesterday is a similar crash if you were to disable an active network connection manually.

Surface users may have noticed new firmware arriving to mitigate some of the compatibility issues Windows 10 testers have used, though there is not that much time left to test them en masse, the fact that the tablets were built by Microsoft should help ensure the updates are stable and useful.  Not so much for other tablets as The Register shows in this story.

Creating a new version of an OS is a non-trivial task and for the most part Windows 10 should be ready for a consumer release this week.  Microsoft have changed a lot about the look and function of Windows and made even more changes to their business model and licensing.  The real hurdle is Enterprise, the huge customer base that ignored Windows 8(.x) and to a lesser extent Windows 7.  With the stability and functionality of the OS already in question, will the poorly communicated changes to the licensing models of Windows 10 mean that we will once again see extremely slow or non-existent adoption in Enterprise and even SMB for that matter?


"Build 10240, which was released to the Windows Insider program two weeks ago, is widely considered to be the "release to manufacturing" (RTM) build, even though Redmond itself says the RTM concept doesn't apply in its brave new world of Windows as a Service."

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Source: The Register

Don't want Win10 patches? We have a patch for that

Subject: General Tech | July 27, 2015 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

Microsoft's decision to push out updates to non-enterprise Windows 10 without user intervention or even notification has been a bit of a hot topic recently.  While those of us who have been supporting machines for a while have all seen a bad Windows update or 10 which render machines unusable, however we have also seen machines over 100 updates behind that are completely riddled with malware, trojans and other nasties which would have been blocked if those updates had been applied.

Whichever side of that debate you fall on, thanks to the nosy reporters at The Register you now can have a choice.  They've posted a link to the "Show or hide updates" troubleshooter package in this recent article, a tool from Microsoft which would allow you to hide certain updates before they were installed and ensure that they are not installed in the future.  Patch Tuesday is gone but there will still be people keeping track of which updates are released so that if you encounter an issue you can roll back and hide that update.  Of course, that assumes you enabled System Restore, which is has been disabled by default in Windows 10.


lifted from

"MICROSOFT HAS QUIETLY released a tool to stop Windows 10 downloading and installing everything it finds in Windows Update."

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Source: The Register