A day for living dangerously in a Microsoft ecosystem

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2015 - 01:01 PM |
Tagged: winxp, server 2003, EoL

Today is the day, Server 2003 is no longer supported by Microsoft, at least not without a payment of $600 per server to extend coverage.  No more patches for exploits nor will Microsoft technicians be interested in your high priority requests for help with issues.  For many companies it will be business as usual while the IT departments seek out third party tools to help prevent the inevitable infections which will start to take down entire infrastructures.  Sadly the cries of 'I told you so' will fall on deaf ears and cost many a job as executives who can't bear the idea of using a smartphone more than one year old fail to comprehend a 12 year old server OS is a bad thing.  As The Inquirer points out, Microsoft is not entirely free from blame here, they have failed to produce Server 2016 at this point and unless you want to move to Azure you would have to upgrade to other versions slated start their end in less than three years.

For users of another deprecated OS, Windows XP, you will no longer be receiving Malicious Software Removal Tool updates.  While you should not be relying solely on that product for your security it is a layer of defense you can no longer count on.  For the 12% of PCs that still run WinXP across the globe, you should be considering an upgrade and as Scott pointed out you have little time left to grab a preview of Windows 10 to test before its release.  Microsoft representatives claim there is no coincidence that it ended on the same day Server 2003 and that this particular decison was made a year ago.


"Other reasons for the lack of urgency have included the delay to Server 2016, which should have been released by now, and the austere times making for a 'mend and make do' mentality."

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Source: The Register

Microsoft "Suspends the Availability" of Builds Tomorrow

Subject: General Tech | July 13, 2015 - 08:43 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, windows, microsoft

UPDATE (July 14th, 6:15pm ET): The change is now in effect. Going to the Insiders page at insider.windows.com has the PC link disabled and a message explaining that you're too late.

NOTE: We’re very close to the public release of Windows 10 so we’re not onboarding any new PCs to the Windows Insider Program just now. You can still onboard a supported Windows Phone and please do keep using Windows 10 on any PCs you’ve already set up and sending us great feedback!

See you at RTM!

Windows 10 is launching two weeks from Wednesday. Microsoft has set up a reservation system for Windows 7 and 8.x, apparently to create a queue for early adopters in before their “could care less” demographic. This was not available on Windows 10 Insider Preview, which we later found out is because Insiders are already at the front of the line. This is important, given today's announcement.


July 13th, which is thankfully not a Friday, will be the last full day to receive ISOs or new builds over Windows Update. By some point tomorrow, these will be taken offline. We will be transitioned over to “production channels” for our next build and ISOs will not be provided. Also, pre-release keys will no longer activate. ISOs will return at some point, but they want to get everyone using their updating platform to make sure they work.

They also say that we will receive at least one new build before release.

Obviously, we are getting close so things are going to start changing. I wonder how long we will stay on RTM branch before Microsoft pushes Insiders forward. We know that Microsoft has already forked development into a 105xx line of build numbers, which is very likely to be post-launch updates. I am not sure that they would push those out over production though, so you would think that Insiders will be on RTM-based builds for at least a little bit.

Today might be your last chance to get in on Windows Insider for a bit, though.

Seagate joins the HPC super team

Subject: General Tech | July 13, 2015 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: Seagate, IBM, HPC, hp

IBM will be making its Spectrum Scale software available on Seagate's ClusterStore HPC products, which are due out towards the end of the year.  This marks a turning point in Seagate's HPC business as previously their products were only useful to a small group of companies which used the Lustre file system, moving to IBM's product grows the available pool of customers significantly. HP will be adding their Apollo software suite into the deal making this even more attractive for potential clients.  As The Inquirer points out, this is part of the shift of international companies moving their data out of US borders, good news for ISPs and data providers in the rest of the world but not such good news for those looking for employment in the industry within the USA.


"SEAGATE HAS JOINED FORCES with HP and IBM in a bid to boost its position in the high-performance computing (HPC) market."

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Source: The Inquirer

Want to win a Seasonic Snow Silent 1050 PSU?

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2015 - 01:06 PM |
Tagged: PSU, contest, seasonic, Snow Silent 1050

You have seen a lot of reviews from Lee covering Seasonic's PSUs over the years and you may have noticed that they often pick up Awards for their performance and warranties.  Perhaps you have picked one up at some time, perhaps not but either way how would you feel about a chance to win one for free?  Seasonic is holding a contest where one lucky winner could get a Seasonic Snow Silent 1050 similar to the one in this review.  All you need to do is snap a creative or interesting picture of the Seasonic company logo or a Seasonic power supply and submit it to their contest page.  You have until August 31st to enter, see if your photo can get the highest number of votes and win.


Source: SeaSonic

What if a server OS died and no one cared

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2015 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: server 2003, microsoft, idiots, EoL

In a lack of foresight that will not take anyone working professionally in IT by surprise, 70% of business are ignoring the fact that Windows Server 2003 hits EoL next Tuesday.  The belief that what your clients don't know won't hurt them is endemic in the business world and this is yet more proof of that philosophy.  Most businesses sign agreements guaranteeing their clients data will be stored securely and using an unsupported OS over a decade old stretches the definition of secure storage far beyond the breaking point.  Your bank, your payroll company, your government, even your ISP and telephone provider are all likely to be guilty of this and you should be aware of that.  It does not mean that there will be a sudden outbreak of attacks next week, instead it will be a slow rise in the number of security breaches and leaks as more and more exploits are discovered and never patched.  The Inquirer does not have the numbers on how many companies are taking Microsoft's offer of support for Server 2003 beyond Tuesday for $600 per server but you can bet that the uptake is a tiny percentage of the 70%.   Much like the proverbial frog, people will not notice the slow rise in security breaches until the damage is already irreversible.


"WE'RE AT T-MINUS four days and counting, and a new survey suggests that as many as 70 percent of businesses are going to miss the deadline for upgrading from Windows Server 2003."

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Source: The Register

Podcast #357 - Samsung 850 Series 2TB, AMD Fury, Catalyst 15.7 and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 9, 2015 - 03:02 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, Samsung, 850, 2TB, amd, Fury, catalyst, 15.7, logitech, G230, G35, Intel, Braswell

PC Perspective Podcast #357 - 07/09/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the Samsung 850 Series 2TB, AMD Fury, Catalyst 15.7 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: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

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

"We made a 7nm process chip and you can't have one!" - IBM

Subject: General Tech | July 9, 2015 - 02:30 PM |

The heavy hitting partnership of IBM, Samsung and GLOBALFOUNDRIES have designed and created the first chip built on a 7nm process using Silicon Germanium channel transistors and EUV lithography.  Even more impressive is their claim of 50% area scaling improvements ovver 10nm, a very large step in such small processes.  IBM told PC World that they will be able to fit 20 billion transistors on a 7nm chip which is a tenfold increase over Braswell as an example of current technology.  The Inquirer reports that this project also cements the deal between GLOFO and IBM; GLOFO will be the exclusive provider of chips for IBM for the next decade.


"IBM'S RESEARCH TEAM has manufactured functional test chips using a 7nm production process, making it the first in the industry to produce chips with working transistors of this size."

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Source: The Inquirer

If you like turn based hex map combat keep an eye on Chaos Reborn

Subject: General Tech | July 8, 2015 - 02:53 PM |
Tagged: linux, gaming, early access, chaos reborn

Julian Gollop was involved in the original X-COM and recently completed a successful Kickstarter for Chaos Reborn, a single and multiplayer turn-based games of wizards warring for supremacy.  It is now available for both Windows and Linux on Steam Early access and you can visit the official site of you are interested in picking up extras on top of the game itself.  One of the more interesting features is the in game gold, which is earned while playing single player but is spent on upgrades for multiplayer and is not available for purchase outside of the game.  There will be no pay to win, instead it is a play to win model that those familiar with multiplayer FPS games such as Battlefield are familiar with.  If that style of game holds any attraction to you and you loved X-COM then head to Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for a look.


"What the singleplayer ‘Realms’ mode does, at least in this earliest, unfinished incarnation, is both encourage you to experiment with different gear in order to gain an edge over tougher or specialised enemy, and give you a way to get hold of new gear without having to repeatedly brave (or beat) multiplayer opponents."

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That's not a USB charger, this is a USB charger!

Subject: General Tech | July 8, 2015 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: usb, DIY

Bask in the glory that is this hacked together 33 port USB charger, created in the Netherlands as a workaround to connet the charges to the three rounded prongs used in Schuko sockets common in Europe.  This would of course work with NEMA plugs, just line the welding rods up appropriately and connect your USB chargers up to it.  Keep in mind that they use 220-240V whereas we use 110-120V so your total workable amount of plugs will vary.  If you are considering building your own version of this massive USB charger, you might want to seriously consider installing some sort of circuit breaker in addition to the non-conductive cowling unless you are a fan of dead devices and house fires.  Check Hack a Day for other projects from this event and others around the world.


"The Hack42 hackerspace in Arnhem, The Netherlands had collected a large number of TP-Link 5V USB chargers – but all of them had the North American NEMA plug (flat, 2 pin) which wouldn’t fit the Schuko sockets prevalent in The Netherlands. [Simon “MacSimski” Claessen] decided to whip out his giant soldering iron and use it to solder two long pieces of welding filler metal rods to 33 of the chargers, effectively wiring them up in parallel."

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Source: Hack a Day

$110 Intel Compute Stick With Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Coming Soon

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2015 - 04:21 PM |
Tagged: Z3735F, ubuntu 14.04, SFF, linux, Intel, compute stick

Intel is giving Linux some love with a new Compute Stick equipped with Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS coming out this week for $110. This new model comes with less RAM and intrernal storage along with a $40 price cut versus the previous Compute Stick (which comes with Windows 8.1 With Bing). 

On the outside, the new Linux-equipped Compute Stick (STCK1A8LFC) is identical to the existing SKU (read our review here) with its flash drive form factor, Intel logo, and small vents along the top and sides. Ports on the Intel STCK1A8LFC include one HDMI, one Micro USB port for power, one Micro SD card slot for storage, and a single full size USB 2.0 port for peripherals.

Intel Compute Stick STCK1A8LFC With Ubuntu 14.png

The Compute Stick is powered by an Intel Z3735F processor that is actively cooled by a tiny fan. This chip is a 22nm Bay Trail part with four CPU cores and Intel HD Graphics. The CPU has a base clock of 1.33 GHz and a maximum turbo clockspeed of 1.83 GHz. This SoC is paired with 1GB of DDR3L memory and 8GB of internal flash eMMC storage. There is also an 802.11b/g/n wireless radio with Bluetooth. The table below compares these specifications to the alternative Compute Stick with Windows.

  Compute Stick (Ubuntu) Compute Stick (Windows)
CPU Z3735F Z3735F
Storage 8 GB 32 GB
Price $110 $150

The STCK1A8LFC with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS will be available later this week from all the usual online retailers with an MSRP of $110.

It would have been nice to keep the 2GB of RAM even if Intel could not cut the price as much. There is always Micro SD for more stoage, but the 1GB of RAM is going to be somewhat limiting even for a Linux OS which typically can be made to run much leaner than Windows. It is nice to see Linux getting a design win and being bundled with the portable PC. If you need more RAM from your Compute Stick, you will need to buy the more expensive Windows version – at $150 – and install Linux yourself, however.

Source: Intel

Intel's clock is not just skipping a beat, it is definitely getting slower

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2015 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: kaby lake, Skylake, Cannonlake, Intel, delay

Last week Scott shared all that we can find out about Kaby Lake, Intel's asynchronous Tock between Skylake and Cannonlake.  Don't hold your breath for their release, nor for Cannonlake if DigiTimes sources are accurate.  If true, consumers will not see Kaby Lake for at least a year with enterprise waiting even longer which will push back the scheduled release of notebooks and PCs using the processors likely not showing up for a month or so afterwards.  Skylake should be finally appearing in time for Fall and in theory products using it should be available at that time as Skylake's delay was the initial cause of these delays.  As for Cannonlake; it is going to be a while.


"Following the delay of Skylake processors, Intel's next-generation Kaby Lake processors, which were originally scheduled for early 2016, reportedly will be pushed back until September 2016 for the consumer version and January 2017 for the enterprise one."

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Source: DigiTimes

Final Fantasy XIV for Mac Sales Pulled Temporarily. PC's Fine.

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2015 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: square enix, pc gaming, mac os x, final fantasy xiv, final fantasy

When Final Fantasy 14 launched on the PC, it was plagued with bugs and gameplay problems. It led to Square basically remaking the game and relaunching it as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. The relaunch was highly successful, as Square learned from their inexperience with the PC. They recently decided to expand to the Mac alongside the release of their new expansion pack, Heavensward, for the PC. The published system requirements for the Mac version were later retracted by Square... and you can see where this is going.

They have since temporarily pulled game sales and offered full refunds. The game will go back on sale when they update “information on the product, system requirements, and screen resolution”.


The Mac will get the MMO, but Noctis time. Ignis wasn't in the cards.

I guess you could say they'll get on it Prompto? Yes I know I'm punning the wrong title...

In the forum post, Square lists a few reasons for the error. First, a handful of customers were accidentally provided a pre-release build ahead of the official launch, due to a “miscommunication with retailers”. As mentioned though, the official release had performance issues and Square blames that on OpenGL and how it tied into their project. They claim that Final Fantasy 14 developed for Mac OSX's implementation of OpenGL would perform 30% worse than Microsoft's DirectX counterpart. They quickly clarify that OpenGL is not 30% slower than DirectX, but that factor applies to OpenGL on Mac, DirectX on Windows, and specifically for Final Fantasy 14.

An interesting note is that Square claims to have outlined several system requirement candidates, and was waiting on QA and final engineering to “select the correct one”. Yikes. Talking about software coming in hot, they did not even know their target hardware until into the shipping process, if you take their word at face value.

Square intends to ship a functional Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn to OSX at some point.

Source: Square Enix

Faster than fast ring; Windows 10 RTM spotted?

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2015 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, rtm, build 10176

Windows Insider members are currently on 10162, the third release in four days.  This new release offers you a chance to download an ISO to test a completely fresh install although you can install it as an in place update as well.  The new version also allows you to buy WiFi from the Microsoft Store as well, you may start to see WiFi networks in the USA and perhaps North America wide which you will be able to connect to after buying time and perhaps data from the Microsoft Store. 

We've also heard rumours via Slashdot that build 10176 will be the RTM version which may be sent out as soon as Thursday.  This implies that there will not be many changes to the new OS between now and the release date, as providing differing versions to the manufacturers and current customers would not be a good business decision.  As well, if purchasers of new hardware will form a very negative opinion if they have to go through a long series of updates simply to be able to use their new machine.  Ready or not, Windows 10 is just about ready to go.


"Mark Wilson reports that the first RTM candidate for Windows 10 has been spotted: build 10176. Leaks and sources have suggested the company intends to finalize the operating system later this week, perhaps as early as July 9th. This would give Microsoft almost three weeks to distribute it to retailers and devicemakers before the July 29th launch date."

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Source: Slashdot

Almost NoScript Exploits Whitelist Vulnerabilities

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2015 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: noscript, javascript, firefox

I do not really believe in disabling JavaScript, although the ability to control or halt execution would be nice, but you can use an extension to remove it entirely if you want. I say this because the upcoming story talks about vulnerabilities in the NoScript extension, which locks down JavaScript and other, non-static content. By “vulnerabilities”, we mean the ability to execute JavaScript, which every major browser vendor defaults on because they consider it safe for their users on its own.


This is like a five-year-old figuring out how to unlock a fireworks case full of paper crackers.

Regardless, there are two vulnerabilities, both of which have already been updated. Both of them take advantage of the whitelist functionality to ignore malicious code. By default, NoScript trusts a handful of domains, because blocking every script ever would break too much of the internet.

The first problem is that the whitelist has a little cruft, some of which including domain names that are useless, and even some that have expired into the public domain for sale. To prove a point, Matthew Bryant purchased zendcdn.net and used it to serve his own JavaScript. The second problem is similar, but slightly different. Rather than finding a domain that expired, it found some whitelist entries, such as googleapis.com, that had sub-domains, storage.googleapis.com, which is a service that accepts untrusted user scripts (it is part of Google's Cloud Platform).

Again, even though JavaScript is about as secure as you can get in an executable language, you should be allowed to control what executes on your machine. As stated, NoScript has already addressed these issues in a recent update.

My Take on July 29th Reservations

Subject: General Tech | July 5, 2015 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

A couple of days ago, Paul Thurrott wrote an editorial about Microsoft's Windows 10 reservation system. His point was that, while Microsoft claimed users of Windows 7 or 8.1 could upgrade on July 29th, they might not get it until later. Upgrades will start rolling out on the 29th of July, but the actual queue is expected to take several days. According to Microsoft's blog post, which shows blatant disrespect for the Oxford Comma, “Each day of the roll-out, we will listen, learn and update the experience for all Windows 10 users.”


Paul linked this backtrack to an episode of Seinfeld, one where Jerry reserves a rental car; his reservation was held, but a car was not. He stated that the availability date was clearly stated as July 29th, and not everyone will get it then. I can see his point, and I agree with it. Microsoft really should provide what they claim on the date that they claim it.

On the other hand, it is possible that Microsoft saw the whole reservation system as reserving your spot in line. That is, it might be that upgrade requests will be processed in reservation order, at least mostly, when devices are available. I imagine a “take a number” system where slots will be assigned for anyone below a threshold that increases as upgrades are fulfilled. Again, this is hypothetical, but I cannot really see any other reason for a reservation system in the first place, apart from pure marketing.

Either way, some may need to wait until after July 29th to experience Windows 10, and Microsoft botched their announcement.

Source: Thurrott.com

Microsoft Releases Several Windows 10 Builds This Week

Subject: General Tech | July 5, 2015 - 04:20 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

Early this week, Microsoft released a pair of new builds into the Windows Insider Fast Ring. Back to back, Build 10158 was released on Monday and 10159 followed it on Tuesday. These two updates fixed several hundred bugs, officially branded Project Spartan as Microsoft Edge, introduced the new default wallpaper to the desktop and lock screen, and tweaked a few more interface elements since 10130. After an uneventful Wednesday, Build 10162 arrived on Thursday with ISOs released later that evening, which was great for me because I couldn't get the build through Windows Update. Sad face.


I was a Slow Ring user for the last few releases, and I honestly intend to continue with that pace going forward. This is my production machine, but switching to Fast was tempting in hopes that the new build would fix the few problems that I had. Namely, StarCraft II was flickering terribly since 10074 when played in windowed mode. Thankfully, StarCraft II can reliably alt+tab without crashing, but it excludes playing a slow-paced Arcade mod in another monitor while doing something else. Mount & Blade: Warband had similar issues, especially when the monitor and game are set to 120 Hz. It seems to be just DirectX 9 titles, too. Either way, they are still unfixed for me. Some of our viewers may want to know my experience.


The first thing that I noticed was a seemingly new upgrade screen between asking to reboot and actually rebooting. This was something that I only remember experiencing with Windows Updates, not whole new Windows builds. Perhaps this was a big one for some reason? It did try to install an anti-malware definition alongside it, so maybe it was just a weird interaction between Windows Update and the Windows 10 in-place build upgrade. Maybe it's something new though.


The lock screen is the next obvious change. It contains the new Windows branding that was announced a couple of weeks ago. The slanted window was made out of glass, fog, and projected light. Even though it fits the previous branding, Microsoft made a big deal out of it.

The major change occurs once logged in. Microsoft Edge is no longer referred to as “Project Spartan”, and it is basically a full-fledged web browser now. Its performance is great, and it is nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to browser compatibility. I do feel that the interface is kind-of ugly, though. Granted, the soft fonts are probably easier to scale between high and low DPI monitors, but I would prefer something more crisp. Likewise, the big, featureless, rectangular UI elements are likely a compromise for touch displays, but I've always thought they were placeholder during development builds. Then again, I find basically every browser to be bland, so there's that.


Other UI elements were altered as well. For instance, while I don't pay too much attention to elements in the notification tray, I am pretty sure that Quiet Hours and the OneNote shortcut are new. While “Note” is obvious, it opens OneNote, Quiet Hours apparently gives a toggle to disable notifications. This is not a new feature, dating back to Windows 8 and Windows Phone apparently, but it has a new home in the notification area.

We're getting close to the July 29th “release” date and might see several builds before then, too. Builds are mostly merging work into a stable core at this point. According to BuildFeed, fbl_impressive, the branch of Windows 10 that is given to Windows Insiders, is up to build 10164, which was created on July 1st. We're not going to see every build of course, some are destined to partners for instance, but the distance between QA-approved builds is shrinking. Unless something is broken that you hope Microsoft will fix or you can afford the time to upgrade, it might be useful to switch to slow until launch. You could always flip to Fast if something cool comes up, although there is sometimes a lag before Windows Update changes your branch if you do that.

Source: Microsoft

Windows 10ish, coming July 29ish

Subject: General Tech | July 3, 2015 - 01:23 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

No rumours this Friday but more confusion out of Redmond as Microsoft announces that the July 29th launch date for Windows 10 may or may not apply to you.  Brave members of the Windows Insider program will be able to install the new OS on that date but others may see their date moved into August as the OS will be rolled out in waves.  Even more interesting is that many may see a message recommending you reach out to an application provider or device manufacturer before upgrading if the tool identifies something on your machine that may not be compatible with Windows 10.  You will still be able to upgrade if you wish but you might want to double check which hardware is being flagged.  Check the story at The Register for the current list of applications which will not survive the upgrade process, including Windows Media Centre as Scott reported on.


"We already knew the OS will start shipping to members of the Windows Insider program on July 29. On Thursday, however, Microsoft OS boss Terry Myerson explained in a blog post that not everyone should expect to receive their updates on that date."

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Source: The Register

Podcast #356 - Fury X Pump Whine, ASUS MG279Q FreeSync Monitor, GTX 980 Ti STRIX and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2015 - 02:39 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, fury x, pump whine, asus, mg279q, freesync, strix 980ti, gtx 980ti, seasonic, snow silent, zotac, zbox

PC Perspective Podcast #356 - 07/02/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the Fury X Pump Whine, ASUS MG279Q FreeSync Monitor, GTX 980 Ti STRIX and more!

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

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

More fancy new memory, STT-RAM from Avalanche

Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2015 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: STT-MRAM, Avalanche, pram, RRAM, non-volatile RAM, NRAM

STT-MRAM, Spin Transfer Torque Magnetic Random Access Memory, actually uses the spin of an electron to record a 1 or 0 making it quite scalable, though Avalanche's current proof of concept is built on a 55nm process.  Avalanche is hoping that their use of the common Serial Peripheral Interface bus and standard CMOS 300mm process will make this type of RAM easier to adopt than some of the other types of non-volatile RAM being developed such as RRAM, NRAM and Toshiba's STT-MRAM.  STT-MRAM can be incredibly fast, scale down well below 10nm and will not need multiple layers, which will reduce the heat produced even in extremely high densities.  Check out more on how they have designed their version of STT-MRAM over at The Register.


"Startup Avalanche is sampling an STT-RAM chip offering DRAM/SRAM speed, persistent storage, unlimited endurance and scalability beyond 10nm."

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Source: The Register

Stories of Mel; a Portal 2 mod of decent length and better pricing

Subject: General Tech | July 1, 2015 - 03:49 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Portal 2, Stories of Mel

Stories of Mel is a Portal 2 mod which takes place between the two games, with a length that sounds similar to the original game.  There is new music, voice acting and even a redesigned Portal gun all available for free for owners of Portal 2 on Steam.  The embedded video below gives you a sense of the ambience you can expect from the game without giving away many hints as to the content.  If you already have the Portal games then head over to Steam to pick up the mod, which installs as a separate game and if you don't then you owe it to yourself to pay the ~$30 to pick up both games.  Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has links for Steam as well as the projects homepage if you want to show your thanks.

"Mel brings a new protagonist with a new companion sphere, boasting over 300 new voiced lines, an hour of original music, and 22 levels that its creators say may take anywhere from four to twelve hours to complete depending on how well you think with portals. It looks quite pretty. And it’s entirely free (if you own Portal 2, natch), available direct through Steam."

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