Grand Theft Auto V Mods Don't Disappoint

Subject: General Tech | August 25, 2015 - 06:40 PM |
Tagged: GTA5, GTAV, pc gaming

Triple-A games with a long shelf life, regardless of how pretty they are, will probably get a graphics mod on the PC. A ridiculous number of them exist for Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto IV, which make them (arguably at the very least) look better than titles a whole generation ahead of them. Sometimes this raises controversy, as seen in the Watch_Dogs launch fiasco, but most of the time it is just hobbyists remaking the wheel (sometimes literally) to take advantage of newer hardware.

Toddyhancer, which is apparently a mod for Grand Theft Auto V, already looks impressive. It is not yet released, and the developer claims that it has a significant performance impact of ~10-30 FPS, which would be more useful in units of frame time (ms), but it makes its point. The above video seems to focus on shader effects to give a film feel.


Other screenshots exist, but it is difficult to figure out everything that has, and has not, been changed. The developer claims, “Don't go bananaz! its just Reshade Shaders, ENB series, simple tweaks and some tonemapping with class!”. Still, check it out if interested.

Source: Imgur

A hint of what to come from Hot Chips

Subject: General Tech | August 25, 2015 - 02:57 PM |
Tagged: amd, hot chips, SK Hynix

Thanks to DigiTimes we are getting some information out of Hot Chips about what is coming up from AMD.  As Sebastian just posted we now have a bit more about the R9 Nano and you can bet we will see more in the near future.  They also describe the new HBM developed in partnership with SK Hynix,  4GB of high-bandwidth memory over a 4096-bit interface will offer an impressive 512Gb/s of memory bandwidth.  We also know a bit more about the new A-series APUs which will range up to 12 compute cores, four Excavator based CPUs and eight GCN based GPUs.  They will also be introducing new power saving features called Adaptive Voltage and Frequency Scaling (AVFS) and will support the new H.265 compression standard.  Click on through to DigiTimes or wait for more pictures and documentation to be released from Hot Chips.


"AMD is showcasing its new high-performance accelerated processing unit (APU), codenamed Carrizo, and the new AMD Radeon R9 Fury family of GPUs, codenamed Fiji, at the annual Hot Chips symposium."

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Source: DigiTimes

We could tell you what was in that update but then we would have to terminate your process

Subject: General Tech | August 24, 2015 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

The more we learn about Windows as a Service the less we seem to know.  Already many have discovered that a fresh install with license from an upgraded Windows install is not as simple as it sounded, the license has far more to do with your current hardware than the OS license you once purchased.  Now it seems that figuring out what updates are being installed on your computer will also be obfuscated, where before you could see the number of the relevant Knowledge Base article now you will simply receive generically labelled updates.  This should worry home users as it will make it difficult to avoid Windows Updates with known compatibility issues and terrify any businesses which were considering moving to Windows 10 as releasing untested patches into a production environment is verboten and this makes the testing process more, not less difficult.

Windows Insiders may actually end up knowing more about the updates than the regular users who will only hear details of a limited number of updates.  Build 10525 has recently been released to insiders on the Fast Release ring with Microsoft's Gabe Aul went into detail about what changes were made in this new build, as well as the new issues present in this version. Build 10512 of Windows 10 Mobile was also just recently released for those few souls running on Windows Mobile and testing the newest incarnation of the OS.  The Register did try out the new version, you can read about their experiences here.


"The Register asked Microsoft for clarification on the policy after the company issued a new cumulative update for Windows 10 and refused to say what it does other than to say it offered “improvements to enhance the functionality of Windows 10.”"

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Source: The Register

Podcast #363 - DX12 Benchmarking, Skylake News from IDF, Intel Optane Storage and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 20, 2015 - 03:51 PM |
Tagged: XPoint, video, Skylake, podcast, Optane, ocz, NVMe, kingston, Intel, idf2015, fms2015, dx12, ashes of the singularity

PC Perspective Podcast #363 - 08/20/2015

Join us this week as we discuss DX12 Benchmarking, Skylake News from IDF, Intel Optane Storage 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!

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

*sorry for the audio problems with Ryan's Skype, still not quite sure what the issue was*

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

Interesting Breakdown of OLD Computer Graphics

Subject: General Tech | August 19, 2015 - 07:07 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming

While just the first episode has been released, The iBook Guy is creating a series of videos that explains the limitations of “oldschool” graphics. When you have just a handful of kilobytes of RAM, it is impossible to even store a full-quality frame buffer that the TV requires, which means that something will need to be thrown away.

The first video talks about adding color to frames with tiling and sprites. Using just ~1K of RAM, software developers were able to define background colors on a tile-by-tile basis. This allowed “black and white” to be an arbitrary “foreground and background” combination, which could even vary from one tile to the next as long as each tile only used two colors. This concept is expanded on to allow four colors per tile at a slight reduction in resolution. The video then goes into sprites, and how they are used for movable actors atop the tiles.


Image Credit: The iBook Guy

I don't know when Part 2 will be published, but it seems like they release about once per week.

Mod Tools for The Witcher 3 Released

Subject: General Tech | August 18, 2015 - 08:44 PM |
Tagged: The Witcher 3, CD Projekt RED

As CD Projekt Red promised before the game launched, The Witcher 3 received mod tools last week. This was done in partnership with Nexus Mods, allowing users to install and configure user content using the Nexus Mod Manager. Note that this only applies to mods that were created with the official mod kit, not any arbitrary mod that has been created since release.


CD Projekt Red has also provided four simple samples (serves you right for trying to read my news posts aloud) as a tutorial. “Witcher The Slav” retextures “Geralt's starting outfit”. “Fabulous Roach” modifies the meshes and textures that make up Geralt's horse. “Petard sWitcher”, and the more mundanely named Custom Equipment Sets Mod, each introduces game scripting concepts.

Go forth and mod.

Source: CD Projekt

Microsoft Publishes Build 10525 to Fast Ring Insiders

Subject: General Tech | August 18, 2015 - 08:24 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

Almost exactly a month ago, Windows 10 Build 10240 was released to both Fast and Slow. This build served as the milestone for an everyperson's operating system, and it gave OEMs something to validate drivers and software against. According to BuildFeed, the first known branches at that build number were compiled on July 9th.


Today, Windows Insiders on the Fast ring will receive Build 10525 when they next perform a Windows Update. This build was first compiled last week on August 12th, and it represents the first published milestone of the TH2 branch. It contains two new (advertised) features: extra color options for Windows UI elements and improvements to Windows 10 memory management.

I'll talk about Memory Manager first.

As Windows 10 builds were released, there was one where I noticed the System process begun to use a significant amount of RAM -- a whole gigabyte or two. I figured that this was a memory leak that would be fixed in a later build, so I put up with it. Some time later, I noticed that its usage would actually go up and down as I open or close applications. It was also never “fixed” before release.

It turns out that it was an intended feature.

When operating systems decide that a chunk of memory is unlikely to be used, they tend to push them to the hard drive. This could be an application that has been minimized for a while, or portions that were displaced by a big, RAM-hungry program. You will often see this when you switch programs. Sometimes, there's a program that's already open, albeit minimized, but it still takes a few seconds to pop up. This behavior is often because it was pushed out of system memory and Windows (or Mac, Linux, and so forth) wasn't prepared to abruptly fetch it again.

Now, system memory is big and cheap, and Windows is being installed on devices with small banks of flash storage and relatively fast processors. Microsoft now believes that it makes sense to cram old chunks of memory into a container, which resides in RAM, that is compressed (as opposed to just dumping it onto permanent storage). This occurs in the system process, which explains why it tends to inflate when you're doing a lot of things at once.

Build 10525 tweaks this feature a bit in undescribed ways. I could imagine that Microsoft cut development in the public branches to make it robust for Windows 10's launch. They now have an opportunity to point Insiders to the less tested branches.


I think this is interesting, and could make a lot of sense if they successfully manage data into their most efficient storage locations. I do notice that System tends to get large even when a lot of RAM is still available. For instance, I have 55% of my memory unallocated at this point, but System is about 1.2 GB large. There could be very good reasons for this, which might be something that my operating system would know better than I, but it might also be a sign that it's slightly over-aggressive. Maybe my system could benefit from a big, contiguous chunk of available memory, or maybe my PC is being unreasonably taxed. Who knows.

The other major feature is color management. While the three displayed toggles are available in 10240, the user is apparently now able to adjust more colors. Without installing 10525, I cannot figure out what those changes are, but Microsoft asserts that they're there.

If you register as a Windows Insider Fast Ring user, you can now receive 10525.

Source: Microsoft

Tt eSPORTS updated BLACK V2 Gaming Mouse

Subject: General Tech | August 18, 2015 - 02:18 PM |
Tagged: input, gaming mouse, thermaltake esports, black v2

The new Black V2 has the high quality OMRON switches common to gaming mice and has been upgraded to use an AVAGO laser sensor which allows you to increment your sensitivity in 100DPI increments up to 5700 DPI.  It sports 7 programmable buttons all of which can be set to send macros, a total of 35 programmable macros across 5 profiles using the included software.  The LEDs which illuminate the logo and indicate the current DPI sensitivity level can be turned on or off and apparently will change depending on how fast you are clicking if you enable Battle Mode.  Five 4.5g weights allow you to modify how the mouse feels in your hand, not a bad set of features for a mouse under $60Check out Mad Shrimps' full review to see what they thought of the Black V2.


"During our time with the Black V2, the product seemed quite responsive and comfortable, while the extra buttons can be accessed easily when in-game. The mouse was tested in multiple game genres and here we could count League of Legends, Echo of Soul, The Talos Principle, Serious Sam BFE but also GTA V; thanks to the new AVAGO sensor, the experience was accurate and if we feel that the default DPI steps are not for us in the current game, we can easily reconfigure them from the supplied application."

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Source: Mad Shrimps

Move over Twinkies and cockroaches; meet the unkillable cookie

Subject: General Tech | August 18, 2015 - 01:11 PM |
Tagged: super cookie, security

Congratulations, if you use Verizon, AT&T, Bell Canada, Bharti Airtel, Cricket, Telefonica de Espantilde;a, Viettel Peru S.a.c., Vodafone NL or Vodafone Spain as your provider your browsing is being tracked and there is nothing you can do about it.  These providers have assigned your device a unique token which the provider injects into every HTTP request your device makes, the cookie is actually external to your device and so you have no way to remove it.  You will see targeted ads based on your browsing no matter how many times you remove cookies or even factory reset your phone.  Verizon has now made it an opt-out feature and The Register has been told that AT&T no longer injects the 'super cookie' into headers but based on businesses recent behaviour it is probably because they have found a better way to track you.


"At least nine telcos around the world are using so-called super-cookies to secretly monitor citizens' online behavior, according to a new study."

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Source: The Register

How many new machines shipped with Windows 10?

Subject: General Tech | August 17, 2015 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, sales

With the humorously tight margin between the release of the Windows RTM and the release date for the rest of the world it is not surprising that new laptops and desktops were not available with Windows 10 installed.  All that changed the next week when there were actual machines available of which some were even purchased.  According to the information given to The Register there were 150 machines sold in Europe and while they did not have exact numbers for the North American market it is not going to be significantly different.  It looks like the new OS is not bringing the large surge in PC sales that companies were hoping for immediately, perhaps as more systems become available with new hardware we will start to see the increase.


"No PCs pre-loaded with Windows 10 made their way into distributors’ warehouses in the week before launch of the OS – but by golly, they did in seven days after the 'big event'."

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Source: The Register

Bad Google! That is not how you patch

Subject: General Tech | August 14, 2015 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: google, stagefright, Android, security

So it would seem that the patch which Google rolled out and carriers have been pushing OTA is not going to be the last that we hear of Stagefright as the patch is not all that effective.  Stagefright is a vulnerability present on all 950 million devices running Android 2.2 to 5.1 and allows certain MMS to be able to execute code on your mobile device.  The recently released patch does not completely ameliorate this vulnerability, an MMS can still cause the library to crash, most likely just preventing you from using the application but possibly allowing other attacks to occur. 

Also of note is the monthly Android patches that Google is providing to various phone manufacturers who are supposed to be pushing them out.  As many Android users will have noticed, up to and including the staff at The Register, you may not have seen the flawed patch yet, let alone the update for the patch.


"Google's security update to fix the Stagefright vulnerability in millions of Android smartphones is buggy – and a new patch is needed.

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Source: The Register

Gameworks VR, NVIDIA's Direct Driver Mode for the Oculus Rift

Subject: General Tech, Displays | August 13, 2015 - 06:51 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, oculus rift, gameworks vr

The news that Oculus SDK 0.7

would incorporate Direct Driver Mode after the August 20th update is not very old and now NVIDA has announced the availability of the beta version of their GameWorks VR.  As mentioned on this podcast, until now your GPU has treated the Oculus as a secondary monitor but with this update your graphics driver will directly talk to the Oculus as a separate device, which should help greatly with latency and development of the tricks and treats yet to be discovered when programming for this type of interface.


NVIDIA's Gameworks VR, as well as AMD's LiquidVR will provide a platform for developers to program for the Oculus Rift as well as the competeing products from other companies.  The new beta SDK from NVIDIA has been updated to support VR SLI and is compatible with the new 350.60 Game Ready drivers.  Programmers working with the Maxwell architecture will benefit from Multi-Res Shading which should increase the performance of your current programs.  Follow the links if you are interested in developing for Oculus, otherwise wait patiently for the day you can pre-order them.

Source: NVIDIA

Meet the Galaxy S6 Edge+

Subject: General Tech | August 13, 2015 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, Galaxy S6 Edge+

We all knew it was coming and now we have the official information on the Galaxy S6 Edge+ from Samsung.  It is as Edge-y as the non-plus model and sports the same 5.7in 1440x2560 QHD Super AMOLED dual screen.  As you would expect there is a 64-bit octa-core Exynos 7420 inside, using the same 14nm process but the RAM has been upped to 4GB from the previous 3GB.  The metal and glass housing is similar to the Edge but discerning eyes should still be able to tell you forked over money to upgrade to the newest model.  The Inquirer has some of the press release here but don't watch the full release video as it is only slightly less terrible than last years horror show from Blackberry.


"SAMSUNG HAS SURPRISED NOBODY with the unveiling of the Galaxy S6 Edge+, the firm's latest smartphone for big-handed folk."

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Source: The Inquirer

Podcast #362 - Benchmarking a Voodoo 3, Flash Media Summit 2015, Skylake Delidding and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 13, 2015 - 01:14 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, nvidia, GTX 970, Zotac GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition, dx12, 3dfx, voodoo 3, Intel, SSD 750, NVMe, Samsung, R9 Fury, Fiji, gtx 950

PC Perspective Podcast #362 - 08/13/2015

Join us this week as we discuss Benchmarking a Voodoo 3, Flash Media Summit 2015, Skylake Delidding 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!

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

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

The Steam Boy gets a new name and pre-order price

Subject: General Tech | August 12, 2015 - 04:06 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Steam Machine, valve, Smach Zero

The portable Steam machine previously referred to as the Steam Boy is now called the Smach Zero and you can pre-order it starting November 10th for $300.  The device will feature a 5-inch 720p touch screen powered by an AMD Steppe Eagle SoC with a Jaguar-based CPU and GCN-based Radeon graphics.  It will have 4GB of RAM onboard, 32GB of internal storage with more available vis an SD Card Slot and support for USB OTG.  HEXUS was told the device should be able to handle Half-Life 2, Civilization V, Dota 2, Tropico 5, BioShock Infinite or Cities: Skylines on its integral display or outputted via the HDMI port.  Check out more on the Smach Zero here.


"Smach Zero Steam Machine pre-order availability and pricing have both been confirmed by the device maker. Smach published a press release yesterday saying that the handheld will be available on pre-order from 10th November at a special introductory price of $299."

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Source: HEXUS

Looking at that Ubuntu phone? Hope you don't live in North America

Subject: General Tech | August 12, 2015 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: ubuntu, smartphone, HPSA+, Aquaris E4.5, Aquaris E5 HD

The new Ubuntu powered Aquaris E4.5 and the Aquaris E5 HD are now available but thanks to North America's carriers not supporting HPSA+ properly, or in many cases at all, the best you could hope for on this side of the pond is a 2G connection.  They chips inside the phones are  quad-core ARM Cortex A7's running at 1.3GHz with Mali 400 graphics.  The E5 has a 5" screen with a resolutions of 720 x 1280, the 4.5 is 4.5" in size with a 540 x 960 resolution.  Overall the specs are not awe inspiring and the prices of roughly $190 and $220 seem a bit high but are certainly lower than what you would pay for a new Samsung or Apple product without a contract.  If you are interested then follow the links from The Register to order one.


"In a Tuesday blog post, Ubuntu maker Canonical said that BQ, its Spanish hardware partner, has opened a new online store where customers around the world can order the Aquaris E4.5 and the Aquaris E5 HD, the two current Ubuntu models."

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Source: The Register

Windows 10 for everything arrives

Subject: General Tech | August 11, 2015 - 12:52 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, iot, raspberry pi 2

The slimmed down version of Windows 10 for devices such as the Raspberry Pi 2 has arrived and it is royalty free for makers, available right here.  The Register describes some problems with the current version, mostly incompatibility with certain peripherals but also include occasional video crashes or networking issues.  Seeing as how this particular incarnation of the OS is designed for creative minds tinkering on custom hardware the issues are not unexpected nor should you consider it proof the OS is not usable if you plan on tinkering with it.  You will need a full PC for development with Windows 10 and Visual Studio 2015 to start using the slimmed down Windows 10, nothing new but certainly worth noting.  Check out more on the Universal Windows Platform and Windows 10 for the IoT at The Register.


"Microsoft has shipped the public release of Windows 10 IoT Core, the pared-down version of Windows 10 for embedded devices, including the Intel MinnowBoard Max and the Raspberry Pi 2."

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Source: The Register

Running a small Win7 Domain and having bandwidth issues today?

Subject: General Tech | August 10, 2015 - 12:58 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, oops, microsoft

Microsoft promised that Windows 10 would not be pushed out to computers on a Domain, or at least allow you to block the update; a claim which has turned out to be slightly less than accurate.  If you are running a Windows 7 Domain which still relies Microsoft update as opposed to WSUS you may have noticed some serious traffic spikes this morning.  That is because some, perhaps all, of your computers are slurping down the 3GB Windows 10 update.  Check the Register for links to Microsoft and consider blocking Microsoft Update on your firewall until this has been sorted, unless you like a slow network and living dangerously.


"The problem is affecting domain-attached Windows 7 PCs not signed up to Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) for patches and updates, but looking for a Microsoft update instead."

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Source: The Register

The Intel SMM bug is bad, but not that bad

Subject: General Tech | August 7, 2015 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: fud, security, Intel, amd, x86, SMM

The SSM security hole that Christopher Domas has demonstrated (pdf)  is worrying but don't panic, it requires your system to be compromised before you are vulnerable.  That said, once you have access to the SMM you can do anything you feel like to the computer up to and including ensuring you can reinfect the machine even after a complete format or UEFI update.  The flaw was proven on Intel x86 machines but is likely to apply to AMD processors as well as they were using the same architecture around the turn of the millennium and thankfully the issue has been mitigated in recent processors.  Intel will be releasing patches for effected CPUs, although not all the processors can be patched and we have yet to hear from AMD.  You can get an over view of the issue by following the link at Slashdot and speculate on if this flaw was a mistake or inserted there on purpose in our comment section.


"Security researcher Christopher Domas has demonstrated a method of installing a rootkit in a PC's firmware that exploits a feature built into every x86 chip manufactured since 1997. The rootkit infects the processor's System Management Mode, and could be used to wipe the UEFI or even to re-infect the OS after a clean install. Protection features like Secure Boot wouldnt help, because they too rely on the SMM to be secure."

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Source: Slashdot

DOTA 2 to Increase Custom Game Mode Player Limit to 24

Subject: General Tech | August 7, 2015 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: valve, DOTA 2

MOBAs tend to be focus on gameplay mechanics with three to five players per team. The concept is that a handful of players will need to balance between the various attack paths, and a limited amount of cooperation is possible before you start leaving zones uncovered. It also means that one problematic player can tank an entire team.


This will not change in the official DOTA 2 game, but Valve is expanding the limit for custom games. At The International 5, Valve announced that those games can support up to 24 players. The first public game was a 10 vs 10 match at the end of the fourth day of the tournament. While I don't play DOTA 2, it sounds like Custom Games in DOTA 2 Reborn are a lot like StarCraft Arcade, where users can create mods like dungeon crawlers and even objective-based games. In this case, an increased player limit would be very useful. I am not sure whether it works for the base game, though -- maybe it works better?

This patch launches next week.