I'll bet you've never heard of this stacked phone

Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2015 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, marshall, flac

Marshall has managed to do something almost no other company has been able to recently, kept a brand new product completely secret.  They have just released a brand new Android smartphone with an internal soundcard which allows you to play lossless FLAC audio files, something not common amongst the smartphones on the market.  The branding is immediately obvious and there are some unique additions such as the use of brass on the two headphone jacks and a volume wheel as opposed to a rocker switch.  The hardware is not terribly impressive, a 720p 4.7" display powered by a Snapdragon 410 with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of local storage.  This phone is more about the audio, how high a resolution do you want for your equalizer anyways?  Check out more at The Register.


"The iconic guitar amplifier outfit''s headphones division managed something that Apple hasn't: it's developed a smartphone without having it leaked to a fan-site. So the launch of the London smartphone managed to catch the world somewhat by surprise."

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Source: The Register

AMD's hopes for the second half of 2015

Subject: General Tech | July 20, 2015 - 01:16 PM |
Tagged: amd, lisa su

It has not been a pretty year for AMD with overall sales of $942m representing 34.6% drop from this time last year and even the graphics portion seeing a 54.2% drop which resulted in loss of $147 million.  In part this is because all PC component companies have been suffering recently; in part because of a lack of incentive to upgrade high end components and to a larger extent because the general public is not going to pick up a new machine just before the release of a new Windows version.  Lisa Su did have some good news, sales of FX processors and A-series APU have been increasing and the second half of the year is historically better for sales.  It was suggested to The Register that AMD is not currently planning on reducing their workforce even more at this time but the possibility of future cuts was not completely ruled out.


"AMD has confirmed it is slipping back into cost-cutting mode after its annus horribilis, caused by tanking demand for consumer PCs in a quarter described by CEO Lisa Su as the “revenue trough” for 2015."

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Source: The Register

Huh. Someone Installed Windows 7 on an ASUS ZenFone 2.

Subject: General Tech | July 18, 2015 - 09:04 PM |
Tagged: zenfone2, zenfone, asus

So this is kind-of cool. The ASUS ZenFone 2 is based around an Intel Atom processor, which uses an x86 processor. Its performance is not comparable to a Haswell PC with discrete graphics, but the machine language will correctly guide voltages through the appropriate logic and end up in the proper memory locations. This means software that doesn't require high performance (or access to more advanced hardware) can run without translating the instruction set, which is harsh on performance.

Note that “more advanced hardware” could refer to something as simple as a floppy drive, which is not required to be classified as an x86 device but might be required for seemingly trivial software.


In this case, someone decided to load Windows 7 on ASUS' smartphone. It technically runs in an emulator but, as stated before, it does not need to translate the underlying instruction set. Even though it's a cute project, I wonder if it's possible to boot some version of Windows on an Intel mobile platform. Of course, it's not enough curiosity to make me research the BIOS standards and make an actual informed statement.

Windows 10 Supported Until 2020, Extended Until 2025

Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2015 - 09:16 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

Microsoft announced the upgrade strategy of Windows 10 in their January consumer press conference. If the promotion is claimed within the first year, the new operating system would be a free upgrade to users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.x “for the supported lifetime of the device”. The internet combined “the first year” with “for the supported lifetime of the device” to speculate that Microsoft would charge a license or subscription from then on.


The bandaids will keep coming until 2020 (features) or 2025 (security)

Now, less than two weeks before launch, Microsoft has released an official statement on the matter. Windows 10 will be supported until 2020 with extended support reaching out to 2025.

This does not mean that every device will be supported until then, though. In order to receive new updates, the user needs to install every update prior to that update, because they are cumulative. If a device is incompatible with an update, and the affected manufacturer is not willing to fix the problem, then Microsoft will not make a special support branch just for you.

But if an OEM has stopped supporting a device, yet Microsoft updates don't break anything, then you can still receive updates for Microsoft. Again, the clause is just for the case where Microsoft's updates are incompatible with your device -- it is not Microsoft's responsibility to keep giving you updates for the manufacturer's problems until the OS gets end-of-lifed.

This does lead to some concerns, though. Imagine that Microsoft pushes a build which disables developer sideloading and Win32 support, locking Windows 10 down to a Windows RT state. If you are even capable of blocking that update, Microsoft will likely not allow you to receive security patches. On the other hand, I don't exactly blame Microsoft for branching the operating system for each individual milestone. Doing something like killing support for Win32 would also be pretty brazen, although it looked like Windows 8.x was on that trajectory when it relegated the Desktop as an “app”... and one which all Win32 software required to survive.

So freedom advocates will have some things to think about, but those concerned about “free as in beer” can sleep a little easier. They will continue updating you for as long as the hardware supports it, until at least 2020 for features (at least 2025 for security). Beyond that time, it depends on whether Microsoft will charge for upgrades to whatever the next version is. Will it be a free milestone (think service pack)? Or will it be classified as Windows 11 with an upgrade or subscription fee? Who knows.

Source: ZDnet

A world without SIMs?

Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2015 - 03:36 PM |
Tagged: SIM, Samsung, apple, Vodafone, AT&T, orange, Deutsche Teleko

If you hate trying to read the numbers off of your SIM card and are sick of their continual shrinking then Apple and Samsung's plan to make the SIM card extinct may be good news.  If you have a phone with dual SIMs or remove the SIM when you travel to ensure no roaming charges will be applied to you then perhaps you are less than happy to hear these companies want to replace the physical SIM with a software one.  It will make changing providers and phones easier but making it a permanent part of the phone could have some drawbacks.  Those of you who have a new iPad Air and iPad Mini may already be familiar with the soft SIMs, if you want to read more you can catch up at The Register.


"Smartphone goliaths Apple and Samsung are reportedly confabulating at a high level regarding plans for hardware which would replace SIM cards in mobile devices - this technology would be embedded in phones, tablets etc and would not be exchangeable to different devices."

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Source: The Register

Podcast #358 - AMD R9 Fury, Fury X Multi-GPU, Windows 10 and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2015 - 02:04 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, Fury, fury x, sli, crossfire, windows 10, 10240, corsair, RM850i, IBM, 7nm, kaby lake, Skylake, Intel, 14nm, 10nm

PC Perspective Podcast #358 - 07/16/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the AMD R9 Fury, Fury X Multi-GPU, Windows 10 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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Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

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


Win10 RTM must be official as HP plans to start selling devices with the new OS on the 29th

Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2015 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, hp

The Register has heard from HP and the rumours are indeed true; you will be able to pre-orderd devices from them with which will arrive with Windows 10 installed on July 29th, they will even cover shipping within the US for you.  Retail stores are unlikely to have them that early, more likely you will see them arriving the following week depending on when the store's scheduled shipping date is.  The mid-August into October date that was quoted is specifically for business customers and does not apply to the stores or the website.  The tight turn around gives you a look at how desperate computer retailers are, and Microsoft as well for that matter, to increase flagging sales.


"HP got on the phone with The Register on Wednesday to shed light on how it plans to roll out PCs with Windows 10 preinstalled. The IT giant said you can expect at least some of its hardware to be available with the new OS on the day that it launches – July 29."

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Source: The Register

Total War offers you the Catbird seat, Warhammer style

Subject: General Tech | July 15, 2015 - 03:28 PM |
Tagged: warhammer fantasy, waauuugh, total war, gaming

It looks like Total War:Warhammer will be teasing us with animations of some of the units we will see in the new game, starting with the Demigryph a smaller and ride-able version of that worlds Griffons, which you do not want to annoy.  You can expect a number of trailers as the game gets closer to release; this Friday you can expect to see another video showing the Demigryph in game.  The Empire does certainly have some nice troops which will be fun to learn about but like Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN it is the greenskin troop movies I am looking forward to seeing.


"There’s a more pressing matter though. Did Games Workshop tell Creative Assembly that the Warhammer Fantasy world would be dead before Total War: Warhammer was released? It seems unlikely that the game has been planned as a eulogy of sorts but that would be a beautiful thing."

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Don't go burning your motherboards but do be aware of this UEFI rootkit

Subject: General Tech | July 15, 2015 - 12:43 PM |
Tagged: uefi, security

Yet another revelation has come from the Hacking Team leak, a UEFI based rootkit which can infect computers and will survive AV scans and even a drive replacement.  The rootkit is designed specifically for the BIOS designed by Insyde which are found primarily in laptops; Dell and HP for example.  TrendMicro suggested to The Register that this rootkit could also infect AMIBIOS designed UEFI, the type you are familiar with from desktop motherboards but that has not been confirmed.  As well Trend Micro intimates that the rootkit could be installed remotely but so far the evidence suggests physical access is required ... as flashing a BIOS tends to do.  Using UEFI SecureFlash, or even flashing to the newest version will also remove the kit, although depending on the solution your motherboard uses you may see error messages about updating an unexpected or corrupt previous version.  Keep safe out there and maybe keep the Flash to your BIOS for now.


"Hacking Team RCS spyware came pre-loaded with an UEFI (‬Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) ‪BIOS rootkit to hide itself on infected systems, it has emerged following the recent hacking of the controversial surveillance firm.‬"

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Source: The Register

teSports Shock 3D 7.1, virtual surround to hear them sneaking up on you

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2015 - 07:37 PM |
Tagged: thermaltake esports, Shock 3D 7.1, audio

teSports Shock 3D 7.1 has two 40mm drivers with a 20Hz-20KHz range that can emulate 7.1 sound for positional audio when you are gaming.  In addition to gaming, eTeknix listened to a variety of audio sources and found the headset to be useful for listening to music and movies. The earcups will take some breaking in but once your ears have shaped them apparently these are very comfortable to wear.  If you don't mind virtual surround sound and are looking for  a gaming headset that is under $100 then take a peek at the review.


"TteSports products have been a popular choice with gamers around the world for many years now, the companies unrelenting focus and dedication to the gaming scene has seen them produce some of the best performing and some of the most competitively priced peripherals on the market today and hopefully, we’ll be seeing a repeat of that again today."

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Source: eTeknix

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

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