HTC Vive Currently Dominating Oculus Sales

Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2016 - 09:21 PM |
Tagged: valve, htc, steam, steamvr, vive, Oculus, oculus rift

Thanks to Keith of WCCFTech for tweeting this out.

According to the Steam Hardware Survey, the HTC Vive is dominating the Oculus Rift by more than a factor of two (0.15% to 0.06%). More-so, its rate of change is also double that of Oculus (0.06% to 0.03%). If these numbers are accurate, this means that the SteamVR is massively overtaking Oculus SDK in terms of both amount and rate of change.

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Now the questions are “why?” and “what does that mean?”

The most obvious reason, to me, is that HTC has much better availability than Oculus. For the last month, they announced that the Vive ships within two-to-three business days. If you look at Oculus? The website tells you to expect it in August. It is currently the second day of July. While a month is not too long of a time to wait, it would make sense that a consumer would look at the two options and say “Yeah, the this week one, please.”

If that's the case, then the platform battle could be decided simply by retail availability. It wouldn't be decided by a Valve-developed first-party game. It wouldn't be decided by DRM locking games into an exclusive deal. It would simply be decided by “you can buy this one”. That is, unless Oculus ramps up production soon. At that point, we'll need to look back at hardware surveys (not just Steam's) and see what the split is. They could catch up. They could be left behind. Who knows? It could be another factor altogether.

For now, the Vive seems like it's the crowd favorite.

Steam Hardware Survey Shows Drop for Linux

Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2016 - 02:21 AM |
Tagged: valve, steam, linux

The current split of Steam users, according to the Steam Hardware Survey, is 95.5% for Windows, 3.6% for Mac OSX, and 0.8% for Linux. Phoronix reports that this does not count SteamOS, and there might be other “inaccuracies” with the survey, but the Linux figures are 0.04% less than they were before (a relative drop of about 4.8%).

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Windows users are up, and Mac OSX is flat.

A 4.8% drop in a month isn't promising, but it's also not too concerning. If you were intending to target a platform with 0.8% marketshare, then you can benefit from the long shelf life that Linux provides. It's not like a publisher is counting on that platform to reach two-week launch window sales figures. We'll see if the pendulum will swing back in the future, especially if Valve creates compelling, new, first-party content for Linux. They seem to be waiting to put their full weight behind it.

Mozilla Publishes Servo Nightly (for Mac and Linux)

Subject: General Tech | July 1, 2016 - 07:12 PM |
Tagged: web browser, gecko, servo, Rust, mozilla, Samsung

No love for Windows at the moment, but Mozilla is showing previews of their new browser rendering engine, Servo. This one is developed in Rust, which is a highly parallel yet very memory safe language, which are two great features for a web browser, especially on mobile and multi-core desktops. You are currently able to pick it up on Mac and Linux, although it is not ready to be your primary browser yet. Windows and Android builds “should be available soon”.

Basically, Mozilla has been spending the last few years re-thinking how to design a web browser. Most Web standards are based on assumptions that the browser is going through a main loop, and that these items will occur in sequence. Back in 2013, most of the research was to see far a browser could travel into parallelization before compatibility just stops following. Samsung, who is obviously interested in smartphone technology, partnered with them, because it's easier to add more cores onto a mobile SoC than it is to make existing ones faster.

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At the time, they weren't sure whether this research would be used to improve Gecko, the current rendering engine that has been around since Netscape 6, or create a suitable replacement for it. As far as I know, that decision has still not been made, but they also haven't bailed on it yet.

Perhaps we'll see a new wave of Web technology coming soon? Maybe even break up the Webkit monopoly that seems to be forming, led by iOS and Android devices?

Source: Mozilla

Summer Games Done Quick 2016 Starts This Sunday!

Subject: General Tech | July 1, 2016 - 06:56 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming

Awesome Games Done Quick is an organization that runs week-long, non-stop speedrun marathons for charity. This one benefits Doctors Without Borders, like the last three summer events. The last five Games Done Quick have raised a little under six million dollars, so this is a serious charity event.

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The event starts this Sunday at 12:30pm EDT with a half-hour pre-show followed by an Any % run of Super Mario Sunshine for about an hour and a third, and that is followed by Zelda: A Link Between Worlds for about an hour and a half. Lots of PC games are included on their schedule too, including classics like Final Doom, Hexen, System Shock, and Serious Sam. It is scheduled to go, around the clock, until Saturday at just before midnight, plus or minus a few hours.

Do you want faster WiFi? This is how you get faster WiFi!

Subject: General Tech | June 30, 2016 - 04:53 PM |
Tagged: 802.11ac Wave 2

Router firmware upgrades should be arriving soon to upgrade you to 802.11ac Wave 2.  You may get support for MU-MIMO after upgrading and the new version could well double your bandwidth.  It should also have less interference as it will make more use of the 5GHz channel and it will also include a new 160MHz channel.  Keep an eye on your router manufacturers website and pop by The Inquirer for more information on the new standard.

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"YOUR WIFI could be about to get a whole bunch faster as a new improved version of the current 802.11ac standard is coming to a router near you."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Podcast #406 - AMD RX 480 Review, Huawei MateBook, Steam Summer Sale, GTX 1060 and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 30, 2016 - 10:35 AM |
Tagged: video, summer sale, steam, RX 490, rx 480, radeon, Polaris, podcast, matebook, Huawei, gtx 1060, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #406 - 06/30/2016

Join us this week as we discuss our AMD RX 480 review, the new Huawei MateBook, GTX 1060 and RX 490 leaks 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!

This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Lenovo!

Hosts:  Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Josh Walrath

Program length: 1:28:40
  1. Week in Review:
      1. Power Concerns?
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  4. Closing/outro

Dolphin 5.0 Released

Subject: General Tech | June 30, 2016 - 02:02 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, Nintendo

Okay, so I'm a week late on this, but what the heck. Dolphin 5.0 was released on their website. The project is a Wii and GameCube emulator that is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. This version focuses on compatibility. They claim that about 85% of titles, including WiiWare and virtual-console games, can be played from start to finish, with about 14% of all titles doing so flawlessly.

That said, it also adds several performance features. They improved the JIT compiler, added texture pooling to prevent reloading the same texture over and over, and even added DirectX 12 support, although they don't elaborate on why that would be useful for this workload. While they have not extended support to Vulkan, they do use the “Approaching Zero Driver Overhead (AZDO)” features of OpenGL and its extensions to raise performance on other platforms.

The emulator is available at their website.

Source: Dolphin

Windows 10 Anniversary Edition Arrives August 2nd

Subject: General Tech | June 30, 2016 - 12:39 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

Going by what we've seen, the general public should expect a new build of Windows 10 about once or twice a year. The OS launched on July 29th of last year, and it received its first update on November 12th. The next one is called Windows 10 Anniversary Edition, which launches on... July August 2nd. Thankfully, it's not a wedding anniversary, otherwise Microsoft would be sleeping outside for a couple of nights.

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The cake is a... oh never mind.

I'm kidding about the date of course. Honestly, with the state that Windows 10 has been in lately, I'm glad that Microsoft decided to take the extra handful of days for a little extra quality control, rather than push the update a few days early. At the same time, though, it is interesting that Microsoft's Get Windows 10 initiative wants people to update to build 10586, and then update again to whatever build number this ends up being. You would think that they would extend the free offer until at least a few days after they release their latest, and presumably best in their eyes, version. Yes, it does feel odd to point out an area where Microsoft should be more aggressive with their free update promotion.

In terms of what's different, the Anniversary Update makes a handful of nice changes across a wide variety of areas. The desktop clock will now be available on any taskbar. Microsoft Edge, which receives its updates with new Windows builds, will receive extension support and a bunch of new Web APIs. They also updated the Japanese IME, which is used to input Japanese characters without a dedicated Japanese keyboard. I'm also interested in the new dark theme.

Windows 10 Anniversary will arrive on August 2nd.

Source: Microsoft

A new card, a new driver - Crimson Edition 16.6.2 is here

Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2016 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: radeon, amd, Crimson Edition 16.6.2

The labelling might be a bit confusing but this new driver is for all AMD cards from the Radeon HD 7700 series and higher, including the brand new RX 480.  It adds the Radeon WattMan overclocking tool, a Crossfire Toggle for easily switching between multiple GPU and single GPU mode as well as numerous other new features which arrive with the card.  The Release Notes do not detail too many game fixes, this release is more about adding new features to the software suite.

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You can grab them right here.

Source: AMD

I see there's still an insect loose in my station ... Terri Brosius returns as SHODAN

Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2016 - 02:40 PM |
Tagged: gaming, system shock, Kickstarter

The System Shock reboot kicks off today in the usual place for such things and a pre-alpha demo has appeared on Steam, GOG and the Humble Store.  Chris Avellone will be a part of the project, along with several members of the Fallout New Vegas team and as mentioned, Terri Brosius will be reprising her role as SHODAN.  The $900K goal is halfway finished already but it will take $1.7M before the real game can be realized with ammo types, RPG elements and other fun things such as dismemberment.  You can take a peek at the gameplay over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN before you grab the free demo, if you so desire.

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"A modern take on System Shock, a faithful reboot; it’s not Citadel Station as it was, but as you remember it. Many improvements, overhauls and changes are being implemented to capture the spirit of what the original game was trying to convey, and bring it to contemporary gamers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: Kickstarter

Doctor, treat thyself .. or at least the hospital please

Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2016 - 01:36 PM |
Tagged: hospital, security, winxp, Malware

For the past few years we have heard about some rather horrific security vulnerabilities in hospitals and sadly this has not changed at all.  Indeed many hospitals are still on older, unsupported OSes such as WinXP that most security software no longer protects against the malware which was used.  In one case a hospital using centralised intrusion detection software, updated endpoint protection, and new model firewall was still compromised using very old malware. In most of the cases described by The Register it was personal data and medical records which were compromised but that doesn't mean the medical appliances and physical security systems are not also vulnerable to attack.

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"Attackers have popped three prominent US hospitals, using deliberately ancient malware so old that it slips under the radar of modern security controls to compromise Windows XP boxes and gain network beacheads."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

PCPer Live! Radeon RX 480 Live Stream with Raja Koduri!

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | June 29, 2016 - 12:03 PM |
Tagged: video, rx 480, raja koduri, radeon, Polaris, live, giveaway, amd

When it comes to GPU releases, we at PC Perspective take things up a level in the kind of content we produce as well as the amount of information we provide to the community. Part of that commitment is our drive to bring in the very best people from around the industry to talk directly to the consumers, providing interesting and honest views on where their technology is going. 

With the pending release of the Radeon RX 480 based on AMD's latest Polaris architecture on Wednesday, June 29th, I am excited to announce that Raja Koduri, SVP and Chief Architect of the Radeon Technologies Group will be joining us in studio to talk about the RX 480 and AMD's plans moving forward.

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The AMD Radeon RX 480 Graphics Card

There is much to discuss. AMD and the RTG have promised that the RX 480 will be a revolutionary product, improving on performance per watt and performance per dollar in a way that no other AMD architecture has done. And the drive to include dramatically more gamers in the rising world of VR gaming will be an impressive feat as well, if they can pull it off. Topics like architectural improvements, asynchronous compute, multi-GPU and more are on the docket. You definitely won't want to miss it.

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Radeon RX 480 Live Stream with Raja Koduri and Ryan Shrout

10:30am PT / 1:30pm ET - June 29th

PC Perspective Live! Page

Need a reminder? Join our live stream notification list!

The event will take place Wednesday, June 29th at 1:30pm ET / 10:30am PT at http://www.pcper.com/live. There you’ll be able to catch the live video stream as well as use our chat room to interact with the audience, asking questions for me and Raja to answer live. 

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Raja is one of the more open and honest people in this highly competitive landscape and every time we have had the ability to do an interview he has provided insightful, and sometimes very new, information. 

As a price for hosting AMD in the offices, we demanded a sacrifice: in the form of hardware to giveaway to our viewers! We'll have at least two Radeon RX 480s to giveaway during the live stream but I am pushing  to get a bump in that count; we'll see if I am persuasive enough. All you have to do to win on the 29th is watch the live stream!

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Some Radeon RX 480s will be up for grabs!!

If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below and we'll look through them just before the start of the live stream. Of course you'll be able to tweet us questions @pcper and we'll be keeping an eye on the IRC chat as well for more inquiries. What do you want to know and hear from Raja or me?

So join us! Set your calendar for this coming Wednesday at 1:30pm ET / 10:30am PT and be here at PC Perspective to catch it. If you are a forgetful type of person, sign up for the PC Perspective Live notification list that we use exclusively to notify users of upcoming live streaming events including these types of specials and our regular live podcast. I promise, no spam will be had!

Windows 10 Upgrade Prompt Changes This Week

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2016 - 07:52 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet is reporting that the “Get Windows 10” window will be redesigned to make it easier to reject. The option will now have the button “Upgrade now” right beside two obvious link inputs, “Choose time” and “Decline free offer”. The close button will also dismiss the notification without accepting it.

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Image Credit: ZDNet

Of course, this is what they should have done a year ago, and it probably doesn't matter by now. At this point, I'm not sure how many people who need this change are still fighting Get Windows 10. Most have probably been tricked into upgrading, or have already figured out the direct way to disable it. I tend to encourage companies when they do the right thing, but this just seems too late to even approach its intended effect.

Also, this change occurred a few days after Microsoft decided to not appeal a lawsuit, brought about a woman whose business, a travel agency, suffered downtime related to the OS update. Windows 10 apparently did not work well with her system, causing it to slow down and crash. She won $10,000 in damages. Personally, I know how much Windows 10 can mess up certain devices. While I run Windows 10 on my production machine, and prefer it over Windows 7, a family member's laptop would turn its display's backlight off when brightness is set to 100% (which was default when plugged in). To a general PC user, that would look like Windows 10 upped and killed the device. Worse, rolling back to Windows 8.1 wasn't a sign to stop trying to update -- it wanted to put Windows 10 right back on it!

So yeah, Microsoft is doing the right thing... after about a year.

Source: ZDNet

Cherry's MX RGB Speed swiches in the wild, the Corsair K70 RGB Rapidfire

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2016 - 04:30 PM |
Tagged: input, RapidFire, K70 RGB, corsair, Cherry MX Speed, cherry

We heard about the new Rapidfire switches from Cherry back in April and today we get a glimpse at how they perform.  The Tech Report tested out this rather expensive keyboard and noticed an immediate difference from the Cherry switches they used previously.  In fact the reviewer even had issues with accidental keypresses while typing when they first started using the Rapidfire; after some usage that was no longer and issue.  That sensitivity translated into gaming well, they rather enjoyed the responsiveness in Overwatch and Battleborn.  The board is $170 on Amazon though if you can live without the RGB lighting you can pick up the red model for a mere $130.

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"Corsair's K70 RGB Rapidfire is the first keyboard on the market with Cherry's MX Speed switches, a new type of clicker that offers shorter travel and a higher actuation point than the wildly popular MX Red. We got these switches under our fingers to see whether they make a real difference in the heat of battle."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

NVMe testing, torturing both the drives and the reviewer

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2016 - 12:35 PM |
Tagged: NVMe, 9100, micron

Testing out twelve 9100 NVMe flash drives is not easy as it requires some interesting configurations to make the testing worth while, sticking them all in a box and running ATTO is not going to create valuable information.  Those custom configurations revealed some interesting limitations, such as Windows' RAID having an upper limit of 385K IOPS and the Linux flavours tested topped out at 400K IOPS. 

Server 2016 Technical Preview 5 turned out to be more stable than Server 2012 R2; somehow using Resource Monitor managed to crash hard enough to break the Server install in one case.  2016 also had that upper IOPS limit which was far below the drives actual capabilities.  Drop by The Inquirer for look at the work which was done to set up for testing as well as the results.

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"I have spent the past TWO months testing these cards, the past month of which has involved truly tormenting them. I've learned a lot of things. There's the basic "NVMe is faster" that you can get from reading about the theory behind the drives, but there have also been a lot of little practical tidbits that you only get to find out when you run face first into problems."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Keep an eye out for big Toshiba NVMe drives

Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2016 - 12:26 PM |
Tagged: NVMe, toshiba, ZD6000

Apeiron is a supplier of  NVMe over fabric links for businesses and will be releasing products based on a Toshiba NVMe SSD, which was being kept quiet until now.  You will not see these coming to a desktop near you but the announcement contains a very interesting tidbit.  The two ZD6000 drives being sold are 1.6TB and 3.2TB in size.  While that 3.2TB drive is attractive, Aperion suggests that there will be higher capacity drives released after these models, with The Register speculating on doubling, which would give us some impressively sized drives.  The technology used to stack this memory will eventually spill over to the consumer side so you can expect capacities to continue to grow and for prices to steadily decline.

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"Toshiba has quietly made 1.6TB and 3.2TB dual-port ZD6000 NVMe SSDs available to OEMs, and we know this because Apeiron says it has certified them."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Steam Summer Sale Has Started!

Subject: General Tech | June 24, 2016 - 03:27 PM |
Tagged: steam, sale, sales, steam sale, pc gaming

You probably already know this at this point, but the Steam Summer Sale has begun. The theme, this year, is Steam Summer Picnic Sale. As far as I can tell, it has no relevance other than it ends on July 4th. They do claim to have 12785 titles on sale, though, and filtering all on-sale software by Windows lists 12595 of them.

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Some interesting deals include 40% off DOOM, 50% off Fallout 4, 35% off Rise of the Tomb Raider, and 50% off Just Cause 3. The Witcher 3 is also 50% off, although it was like that before the sale and its DLC are still basically full price if you want the both of them. If you're looking for older titles, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is 75% off, as is Civilization V and Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition. As always, have a browse if you are okay with tempting your credit card.

If not? ... ... Sorry.

You were to bring balance to the ads, not leave us in darkness HTML5

Subject: General Tech | June 24, 2016 - 12:59 PM |
Tagged: VPAID, VAST, security, Malware, javascript, html5, flash

Upsetting news today from GeoEdge, not only is HTML5 not going to prevent drive by infections from ads but it also turns out that Flash was nowhere near as responsible for these infections as we thought.  Hard to say which of those two facts is more upsetting but don't worry, you can still malign JavaScript.  The security problems actually stem from the two advertising standards used on the web, VAST and VPAID which are the vector of infection of the JavaScript code which runs to display the ad on your browser.  Follow the link from Slashdot for a detailed explanation of what is happening. 

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"A study from GeoEdge, an ad scanning vendor, reveals that Flash has been wrongly accused of being the root cause of today's malvertising campaigns, but in reality, switching to HTML5 ads won't safeguard users from attacks because the vulnerabilities are in the ad platforms and advertising standards themselves."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

3DMark Sale and a brand new DX12 benchmark, Time Spy

Subject: General Tech | June 23, 2016 - 06:37 PM |
Tagged: Futuremark. Time Spy, 3dmark

A new version of DirectX hitting the market means we need a new benchmark and once again Futuremark has delivered, with the Time Spy benchmark.  Right now 3D Mark is 80% off on Steam and if you pick it up you will get access to the new Time Spy Basic benchmark when it is released.

Time Spy uses the new DirectX 12 API and supports new features like asynchronous compute, explicit multi-adapter, and multi-threading.  It will have reviewers digging out hardware they thought they had already tested to provide you with new benchmark data points that will apply to the currently available DX12 games as well as those which will be released.

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This is also a great opportunity to pick up the full version of the benchmark for your own usage, even if you have yet to upgrade to DX12 hardware.  You should check out the teaser trailer if you are familiar with past 3D Mark versions as you will see a few glimpses at benchmark screens that caused you mental raster burn in years past.

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Source: Futuremark

Check out the impressive work done for the Computex GIGABYTE Case Mod Show

Subject: General Tech | June 23, 2016 - 01:15 PM |
Tagged: case mods, gigabyte, computex 2016

Gigabyte hosted a showcase of impressive case mods from all across the planet at Computex and TechARP posted a slideshow of the best of them.  They are all quite incredible, going beyond basic modding to the creation of truly unique enclosures, from Gatling guns to Ghostbusters.  It is a pity the forklift wasn't powered by a Steamroller or Bulldozer though.  Check out the full slide show and videos of the cases here.

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"The GIGABYTE case mod showcase featured incredible case mods by top case modders from around the world, including Maciel Barreto from Brazil and Suchao Prowphong from Thailand."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: TechARP