Street Fighter V Revealed: PC-PS4 Cross-Platform Multiplayer

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2014 - 10:47 PM |
Tagged: street fighter v, street fighter, pc gaming, gaming

Well this is something that people have been demanding for quite some time. Not only will Capcom's Street Fighter V be available on the PC and PS4, but multiplayer can be a mix-and-match between the two platforms. You will not need to coordinate a platform of choice ahead of time. Players on both of these platforms will be able to connect to one another.

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While Capcom has not released any further details, previous Street Fighter releases for the PC have supported local multiplayer when extra controllers are connected. The omission of Xbox One is definitely strange as well, given the exclusive agreement between Microsoft and Capcom for Dead Rising 3. Of course, different game, different contract, but it suggests a larger reason to avoid Xbox One. Two possible, not mutually exclusive reasons are: 1 - Sony paid them and/or 2 - Microsoft was too restrictive about cross platform play. In the past, Microsoft would only allow PC-Xbox cross-platform play if the PC title was branded as Games for Windows Live, which I do not think any game took advantage of (Update: Apparently I was wrong and Shadowrun actually launched cross-platform multiplayer before it was sunset). It also no longer exists.

Street Fighter V will be out... sometime... for PC and PS4.

Source: PC Gamer

Windows 10 Update Installer May Break with Office Installed

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2014 - 09:40 PM |
Tagged: windows, windows 10, patch, patch tuesday

These are the sorts of things that will happen in prerelease software. Gabriel Aul, leader of the Data and Fundamentals Team at Microsoft and blogger for the Windows Insider Program, announced on Twitter that today's Windows Update for Internet Explorer may not install if Office is also install. The workaround is, if the update fails, to uninstall Office, apply the update, and then reinstall Office. Unfortunately, I am not able to give my personal experience because I use LibreOffice (I did not want to purchase a commercial license of Office).

failpatch-windows-10.png

I was not expecting to use this fail-bandaid image again, so soon.

If it wasn't an important security update, another option would be to wait for the next build. I know that, when I first installed Windows 10, I had a similar problem with a Defender update that continually failed. The install failure was fixed when I upgraded to Build 9860. The next version of Windows 10 is probably not too far away... … but this is a security update.

Hopefully this is one less thing to break when it hits full release next year.

Origin's Newest "On the House" Promotion Is SimCity 2000

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2014 - 04:46 PM |
Tagged: ea, origin, on the house, SimCity, simcity 2000

Origin, EA's digital distribution platform, occasionally runs a promotion that is called “On the House”. The best way to think of it is an abrupt, 100%-off sale. If you “purchase” the free game before they put a price tag back on it, then it is yours to keep. Today, the promotion has been applied to SimCity 2000. Log in to the Origin Store and add it to your catalog.

ea-simcity2000-screenshot.jpg

EA is using money hacks...?

On a related topic, can you believe that SimCity 2000 is just a few months away from its 20th birthday? Some believe that it is the best of the series, although I have never played it. This is one of the many titles that I overlooked, jumping from the original SimCity (Super Nintendo, rented a few times) up to SimCity 3000: Unlimited, which I played until SimCity (2013) launched. Ironically, I received a free copy of SimCity 4 because of the launch issues, so I now have everything from SimCity 2000, onward.

SimCity 2000 is currently free, but will go back up to its regular price at any time.

Source: Origin

Seagate is still HAMRing away at improved HDD storage density

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2014 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: HAMR, Seagate, hdd, TDMR

Seagate has been talking about HAMR for many years now but is finally getting close to being able to provide a working product.  Currently they use perpendicular magnetic recording which should reach an areal density of 850/900Gbit/in2 in the coming year with a shingled version hitting 1Tbit/in2.  Shingled platters store data in slightly smaller and overlapping tracks reminiscent of a shingled roof.  In 2016 Seagate predicts the arrival of TDMR which will start at the same density as shingled PMR with an increase to 1.3Tbit/in2 when set up in a shingled format.  2017 is the tentative date for the arrival of the brand new technology and as of now Seagate is predicting an aureal density somewhere in the neighbourhood of 2Tbit/in2.  The performance will never match that of flash based drives but the cost per gigabyte will be far more attractive for those who have more of a need to store large amounts of data than to have high speed access.  Check out more at The Register.

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"We have better visibility into Seagate’s view of the ending of the current perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) era. The ending is delayed by narrowing the tracks so as to cram more of them on a platter. This is called two-dimensional magnetic recording (TDMR) and should arrive in 2016."

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Source: The Register

A sighting of the rare joystick, the Speedlink Phantom Hawk

Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2014 - 04:45 PM |
Tagged: Speedlink, Phantom Hawk, input, joystick

The common joystick has fallen out of fashion over the past few years but with the resurgence of space sims some gamers might be out looking to purchase one.  The mainstays are quite expensive but also high quality and perfect for sim games which are very unforgiving to sloppy stick handling.  Speedlink is offering the Phantom Hawk which is available for under $100 and certainly has an interesting look.  The joystick has some weight to it and there are suction cups underneath the body to keep it in place during hectic dogfights and there are enough buttons and both an 8-way hat and 4-way d-pad so you should be able to map most of your needed commands to the joystick.  If you play games which require exacting accuracy then eTeknix found that the dead zone and stiffness interfered with their accuracy but did enjoy playing Microsoft's Flight Sim with it.  Check out the full review to see what you think.

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"It doesn’t take long to realise that if you want to get to grips with a realistic flight stick, you need to spend a fair amount of money. This is why I’ve chosen to put a budget friendly model through its paces, the Speedlink Phantom Hawk. It’s relatively cheap, with prices around £25 from most retailers, so I’m not expecting industry leading performance here. I am however eager to find out just how good it really is, despite its low price tag."

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Source: eTeknix

Intel is investing in mobile chips

Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2014 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: Intel, smartphones, iot, billions

Intel has pulled out some spare change to upgrade its plant in Chengdu, in what analysts are predicting will be focused on Intel's ultra-mobile chips.  It certainly comes at an interesting time for the market, Google and Microsoft have both had recent unpleasantness with the Chinese government while Qualcomm, a direct mobile market competitor, is about to fork over what could be a record breaking settlement to Chinese anti-trust investigators.  This could make talent from Qualcomm available for Intel to hire as well as giving them even more of a financial advantage.  It marks a change in the recent trend of Intel to invest heavily in their US assets and reinforces their desire to make headway in the current ultramobile market and the burgeoning Internet of Things.  Check out the links at The Register for a bit more background on the state of this market.

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"Chipzilla has decided to take another run at the mobile chip market, announcing plans to spin as much as US$1.6 billion in the direction of its Chengdu plant in China to achieve its aims."

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Source: The Register

Windows 10 December 2014 Failed Update Workaround

Subject: General Tech | December 6, 2014 - 04:30 AM |
Tagged: windows 10, windows, patch, microsoft

A few days ago, I attempted to install my Windows updates, but one failed. After complaining about the update not being accepted, it would ask you to restart your computer, where it would proudly proclaim that you have an update pending... ad infinitum. It apparently did the same for many others, including Paul Thurrott (who voiced his concerns on Twitter).

failpatch-windows-10.png

Some day (of silence) later, and a workaround has been voiced. As far as I can tell, it was originally discovered by a member of the community, but an Engineering General Manager at Microsoft suggested that Paul Thurrott try it, even though the GM's official workaround was slightly different.

Long story short, here are the steps:

  1. Go to Add or Remove Programs.
  2. Go to View installed updates.
  3. Search for KB3019269 and uninstall it. Do not restart.
  4. Search for KB3018943 and uninstall it. Do not restart.
  5. Search for KB3016725 and uninstall it. Do not restart.
  6. Search for KB3016656 and uninstall it. Restart your computer.
  7. Run Windows Update and install whatever it tells you to.
  8. I needed to do Step 7 twice.
  9. Reboot a second time.

When I did this procedure, Windows Update complained about a failed update. Retrying it, without rebooting, was successful however. If you experienced this problem, be prepared for a potential false error – the fix might have still been successful.

This was actually the second update to fail in the exact same way, the first being a Windows Defender patch from the initial Technical Preview release. That time, the problem went away when Microsoft released a new build and I updated to it. The same probably would be true when Microsoft replaces Build 9879 with whatever they have upcoming, albeit that is at least a month away. As far as I can tell, not a whole lot has changed.

Again, this is pre-release software. I will not knock Microsoft for it, especially since the update procedure is one of the key points of focus for the entire Technical Preview. The occasional failure is to be somewhat expected.

Source: WinSupersite

If video games are not art, what happens when their engines are used to make movies?

Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2014 - 02:44 PM |
Tagged: weta, mildly ironic, game engine

When The Inquirer starts talking about using game engines to replace movie post production in the future the first thing that might spring to your mind could be a trilogy of movies already years old.  WETA used Massive to render the huge battle scenes in Lord of the Rings, a rendering engine which has already been used in several games including the recent Total War games.  That example approaches the issue from the opposite direction, instead of an improved CryEngine being used in a movie it is rendering software intended for TV and movies being used in a game.

It highlights the misunderstanding movie executives have about real time rendering.  At heart there is no difference between a scene rendered in a game as opposed to one rendered in a movie, post-production or real time.  Post production would not be necessary or could at least be significantly reduced if you have the hardware to render your CGI in real time.  The software its self is more or less ready but at the moment there is not much money to be made by improving the Unreal Engine to the point where it is photo-realistic since the hardware requirements to run it would be orders of magnitude higher than what is currently available on the retail market. 

This will change and it seems that those with jobs in post production for movies had better start specializing in real effects or think about branching into another field.  It is likely to cause a great hue and cry from the movie industry in the coming years as they attempt to convince the public that video games are not art in the same way as movies are art even though they are made with the exact same tools.  Image the Steam Big Picture mode of the future!

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"Last year, when we reported that LucasFilm, the California production company responsible for the Star Wars franchise, proclaimed that video game engines would be responsible for the decline of the movie post-production process in the next 10 years, our readers scoffed."

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Source: The Inquirer

Another 500TB of Writes and Still Two SSDs Alive

Subject: General Tech, Storage | December 4, 2014 - 10:57 PM |
Tagged: ssd, Samsung, kingston

Once again, we're talking about The Tech Report and their attempt at working SSDs to death. At the last checkpoint, 1.5 petabytes of total writes, the Samsung 840 Pro and the Kingston HyperX 3K (240GB) became the final two. Which will become the sole survivor? How long will it go before dying? Who knows. We just crossed 2 petabytes and these things simply won't die.

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Image Credit: The Tech Report

So yeah, we have hit 2 petabytes and these drives seem to be chugging along. Neither of the two survivors have even displayed any major drops in read or write performance, at least not permanently. The Samsung 840 Pro has experienced a few, temporary dips in write performance, from around 500MB/s to around 450MB/s, boo hoo, but has recovered each time.

That said, both drives are using their reserve space. The Samsung 840 Pro has used about 60 percent of its reserve in the last 1300 TB of writes, following a fairly linear decline. If it continues, this drive should finally kick the bucket just before 3 petabytes of writes (~2.87PB). The Kingston HyperX, on the other hand, who knows. That SSD seems to have had a rough time over the last 500TB, but that could be just a hiccup. It could also be on its way out, who knows?

Source: Tech Report

Podcast #328 - G-Sync Flickering, In Win D-Frame Mini, Fractal R5 Silent and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2014 - 03:34 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, g-sync, flickering, ROG Swift, pg278q, in win, d-frame mini, fractal, define r5 silent, nvidia, amd, Intel, asus, gtx 970 DirectCU Mini, msi, 970 Gaming

PC Perspective Podcast #328 - 12/04/2014

Join us this week as we discuss G-Sync Flickering, In Win D-Frame Mini, Fractal R5 Silent 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!

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

Hosts: Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Sebastian Peak

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

 

If you thought the free Windows programs were contentious, try the Linux version

Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2014 - 01:06 PM |
Tagged: linux, freeware, vim

Nothing brings out the ire of a tech than a list which leaves out their favourite free application or even worse, recommends a lesser alternative.  This goes more than double for Linux users.  Nevertheless,  The Register was brave enough to compile 10 of their favourite Linux applications for your pleasure or derision.  ClamTK is the front end to ClamAV which has been a long standing antivirus program for Linux and Gufw Firewall is fairly self explanatory.  For programmers Geany is a very light weight multipurpose IDE, Shutter does the trick as a screen capture program while Unity Tweak Tool is great for those who want to have complete control over their UI.  LibreOffice does indeed appear on this list and is also available for Windows users but SpringSeed is Linux only and will make Evernote users very jealous.  The full list of apps can be seen here, those wanting an editor battle royale may be dissapointed though.

clamtk.jpg

"Much to the dismay of many a sysadmin, Linux is no longer purely the domain of Captain Command-Line and his trusty side-kick Admiral APT. For those looking to make the most of their new-fangled graphics-capable hardware, here’s a selection of freeware to start with, in our case as installed on Ubuntu 14.04."

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Source: The Register

Incoming Vox from Commissar Sebastian Yarrick; Armaggedon is under attack by Greenskins

Subject: General Tech | December 3, 2014 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: warhammer 40k, Imperial Guard, Adeptus Astartes, gaming, armageddon

Somehow Warhammer 40,000: Armageddon managed to sneak under the radar but it has just been released by the gang that brought you Panzer Corps; Slitherine, Strategic Simulations Inc and Matrix Games.  You will take part in the Second War of Armageddon when Warboss Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka invaded the planet with a Space Hulk quite successfully thanks to that inept waste of skin, Overlord Herman von Strab.  With over 30 scenarios in the main game, not including the training missions, this game will last strategy game fans for quite a while thanks to the replayability of this type of game, not even considering multiplayer nor mods.  The multiplayer will allow you to play as the Legio Metalica, Salamanders, Blood Angels and Ultramarines or you can control the Orc forces.  If you love Gargants, Titans and a good Waaaaaaaaugh! then you need to check this out over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN.

No word on if there will be Squats present.

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"It’s a serious-looking turn-based strategy game by the folks behind Panzer Corps, recreating the Second War of Armageddon across a big campaign with hundreds of different units and variants. And it’s out now. Come watch some orks get squished in an hour of livestreamed action."

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Hitting the big time; Win 8.1 now more popular than it's teenage sibling

Subject: General Tech | December 3, 2014 - 01:01 PM |
Tagged: windows xp, Windows 8.1, microsoft

Now that the average consumer has no choice but to buy a machine with Windows 8 or 8.1, the number of PCs running Win 8.1 has hit 10%.  The increase beginning in November represents the official end of the availability of machines with Win7 preinstalled although you can see that this has not had much effect on the number of Win7 machines still running.  The majority of users seem to be switching from WinXP which reached its extended EoL in April of this year.  The other main point to take away from the data that The Register linked to is that those who bought Windows Vista are a stubborn crew, the number of desktops running Vista have dropped 2% but there are still a fair number of machines running the much maligned OS.

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"Windows 8.1 broke the global 10 per cent market-share barrier a year after general release, and has now hit 10.95 per cent, according to latest data from StatCounter."

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Source: The Register

Steam Broadcasting Introduced to Steam Client (Beta)

Subject: General Tech | December 2, 2014 - 07:18 PM |
Tagged: steam, steam broadcasting, twitch

Before we begin, note that this only available for the Steam Client on Windows 7 and 8.x for now, but Valve intends to bring it to Linux and OSX (and Vista for some reason). You must also opt-in to receiving Beta releases of the Steam Client. Beyond the currently limited support in hosting a stream, watching a stream is only possible with one of three web browsers: Google Chrome, Apple Safari, and the one in Valve's Steam Client.

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Obviously, the pre-launch browser support is quite disappointing. Clearly Valve limited support of their web app to their rendering engine of choice, WebKit and its fork, Blink, and that is a step up from doing it in Flash. It is probably most disappointing for Opera, who switched to WebKit (and later Blink) from their proprietary “Presto” engine. Of course, relying on a collaboration with Google for standards support can only help so much, and it apparently did not help enough.

As for the service itself, Valve is focusing on user choice with their offering. While public streams will be allowed, you are allowed other privacy options – public is not even the default. Your stream can also be set to: only allow invited friends, allow all friends, or allow friends to request viewing permissions. By default, it is set to the last (fourth) option.

Now on to the speculation...

Why would Valve being doing this? Of course, Amazon believes it is a billion dollar business, so it is not insane for Valve to throw their hat in the ring, and hats is something they have plenty of, but I believe it might be bigger than this. This announcement follows the beta release of In-Home Streaming, back in May. Especially with the privacy options, I could see this following Sony, and its PS4 Share Play feature. Share Play allows people on your friends list to override your controller, or an extra controller if you want to play local multiplayer over the internet. These are all products using the same building blocks.

Steam Broadcasting (Beta) is available now through the Beta Steam Client release channel.

Source: Valve

HP's big budget enterprise storage reveal

Subject: General Tech | December 2, 2014 - 12:29 PM |
Tagged: hp, StoreServ, File Persona

HP is showing off some spiffy kit in Barcelona which will be priced just a wee bit beyond the budget of a consumer but is still fun to look at.  How would you feel about 3.6 petabytes of hybrid flash and disk storage on a 16Gbit/s fibre channel with reported performance of up to 900,000 IOPS all for the low price of $1.70/GB?  In the table below the new kit bears a 'c' in their name and for those who no longer wish to think about spinning rust it is the 7200, 7400 and 7450 that are all flash storage.  Also new is File Persona which allows users that have a StoreServ File Controller to access data at the file level as well as the block level access that was supported previously.  The latter two pages of The Register's article feature HP's Stephen Bacon, Senior Manager for File and Object Storage Product Management and Marketing answering questions about the new products and software.  Ah, it is nice to dream of unlimited budgets.

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"Attendees at HP’s Discover event in Barcelona this week are getting a bumper crop of StoreServ hardware and software announcements, expanding the HW range and adding object access and better data protection."

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Source: The Register

Awake Yet? Good! Optimizing Inverse Trig for AMD GPUs.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 2, 2014 - 03:11 AM |
Tagged: amd, GCN, dice, frostbite

Inverse trigonometric functions are difficult to compute. Their use is often avoided like the plague. If, however, the value is absolutely necessary, it will probably be solved by approximations or, if possible, replacing them with easier functions by clever use of trig identities.

arctrig-examples.png

If you want to see how the experts approach this problem, then Sébastien Lagarde, a senior developer of the Frostbite engine at DICE, goes into detail with a blog post. By detail, I mean you will see some GPU assembly being stepped through by the end of it. What makes this particularly interesting is the diagrams at the end, showing what each method outputs as represented by the shading of a sphere.

If you are feeling brave, take a look.

Broken Age: Act 2 Delayed Until 2015

Subject: General Tech | December 2, 2014 - 02:45 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, gaming, Tim Schafer, broken age

Tim Schafer and the rest of Double Fine set up a Kickstarter in early 2012 to fund a classic, LucasArts-style adventure game. After being funded over eight-fold more than they intended, they allowed the production to balloon and fit their new budget. This resulted in Act 1 being released in 2014, over a year later than their original deadline, with the second half (Act 2) coming later – expected in late 2014. Within the last couple of days, they announced that the release date has slipped into “early next year” (2015).

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This is one of the problems that a Kickstarter can face. There is definitely an instinct to supercharge an over-funded product, which could lead to delays, hiccups, and other problems. On the other hand, the extra money, and the public knowledge regarding how much extra, can raise the expectations of your audience – they might feel cheated if you fail to over-deliver. Beyond this, I have been told that it is very common for budgets to inflate over the course of regular development, something that you cannot really account for in advanced crowd-funding. Again, this may be wrong – it was what I expected but, of course, hoaxes prey on that.

Since the Kickstarter launched, Ron Gilbert left the company. I pout.

Broken Age: Act 2 will be released in early 2015 and conclude the Broken Age story as a free upgrade for everyone who paid for Act 1. This is nice but, while I could see an argument for Act 1 customers needing to purchase Act 2 in the era of Telltale episodic content, it only makes sense for at least Kickstarter backers to get the whole game. I mean, it was announced as a single title; it would be a supremely bad move to promise a full game and deliver a half of one (torn at an awkward point in the narrative no-less) only to ransom the second half a year later.

Thankfully, it will be free, not just for them, but for everyone who owns Act 1.

Source: PC Gamer

Remember Google Glass?

Subject: General Tech | December 1, 2014 - 12:59 PM |
Tagged: Intel, google glass

Google Glass seems to have gone the way of Wave and Plus, most people have heard of it but no one seems to actively use it.  Apart from some news stories about socially inept use of the device in public areas the buzz around Google Glass has died down and for most it is Oculus who have more compelling eye wear.  Some time in the coming year there will be a second release of the Google Glass which dumps the Texas Instruments chip for an unspecified ultra low power Intel chip, or at least that is the rumour from The Register and other sites.  This launch sounds to be aimed more at enterprise customers, hard to imaging how having your PowerPoint presentation beamed into your customers eyeballs will help your sales but that is the gist of the marketing.  This product still seems to be more appropriate for those who work with their hands and could benefit from hands free overlays of schematics or details but who knows, maybe your next job interview will be with someone reading your Facebook page in real time as they conduct your interview.

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"GOOGLE REPORTEDLY plans to release a new Intel-powered version of Google Glass in 2015, as interest in its first-generation wearable dies down."

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Source: The Register

Do not throw this keyboard; it will survive, the target may not

Subject: General Tech | November 28, 2014 - 04:12 PM |
Tagged: input, Cougar, 700K, Cherry MX

With a plastic body and brushed aluminium top the Cougar 700K weighs in at over a kilo and should handle the most ham fisted of users.  You can choose your favourite flavour of Cherry MX switches, Red, Blue, Black or Brown and swap keys as you see fit and toggle between NKRO and standard USB 6KRO.  The LED functionality is quite impressive, an onboard CORTEX-M0 and the included software allow you to customize your light show, swap key functionality and program macros which you can save into multiple profiles.  Modders-Inc found the keyboard to be well designed, the software even more so but be aware that there is a drawback to liking this keyboard, it retails for $150.

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"A product's function is not solely reliant on the designer but also shaped by the intended audience. Problem arises when there is a disconnect between intention, marketing and reception; the result being a product that is supposed to perform well at the intended task but comes up short due to false assumptions on what the intended audience needs."

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Source: Modders Inc

Free Windows apps, since calling them programs is not cool anymore

Subject: General Tech | November 28, 2014 - 12:50 PM |
Tagged: windows, freeware

Over at The Register is a round up of a variety of freeware applications that many have found useful.  Ad Aware, a program that not many have talked about since the competition picked up has made a reappearance and has stepped up their game somewhat although you will still find Malwarebytes product on this list.  Classic Shell has been very popular since Windows went metrosexual as it restores much of the familiar interface that users are accustomed to and is likely to remain popular with the release of Windows 10.  Duplicati  is a great way to locally back up your files from the Cloud while Eraser can do the opposite for those wanting to make sure that deleted file stays deleted.  They also include Notepad++ for those who actually do work on their machines, Process Explorer for those who work on the machines themselves and several others worth checking out if you are unfamiliar with the free software available for PC users.

Notepad++_Logo.png

"No matter if you're reinstalling Windows for the 47th time this fortnight or attempting to rid a new machine of bloatware in favour of something that's actually useful, the question remains: what alternative apps exist that don’t involve coughing up for obscene licensing fees?"

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Source: The Register