The winnowing begins; move what you want to keep off of OneDrive

Subject: General Tech | July 15, 2016 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, onedrive

Starting today and wrapping up by the 27th of July, Microsoft will be deleting files from your free OneDrive accounts until you are under the 5GB limit.  If you did follow our previous coverage and grandfathered your storage you will keep your 30GB but it would not be a bad plan to keep an eye on your account over the next few weeks.  The Register reminds us that we are all suffering because of a tiny minority of users who abused the storage policy, instead of Microsoft deleting files from users such as the one who had 75TB of files stored on the service they decided to delete everyone's storage.

As I remind my users when the network drives get full, you will be much happier if you chose the files which are deleted as I am more than happy to hit CTRL-A and Delete to make space.

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"Microsoft is cutting its free 15GB OneDrive cloud storage space down to 5GB, and eliminating the 15GB free camera roll for many users. Files will be deleted by Redmond until your account is under the free limit."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Ansel arrives and NVIDIA holds a celebration in their VR Funhouse

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2016 - 06:06 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, vr funhouse, ansel, vrworks

A while back Scott wrote about NVIDIA's Ansel, a screenshot application on performance enhancing drugs.  Today it arrives, paired with their new driver and adds support for Mirror's Edge Catalyst to the list of supported games such as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Unreal Tournament, Tom Clancy’s The Division, and No Man’s Sky just to name a few.  The tool allows you to take 360 degree screen captures, allowing you to completely rotate around the image on a 2D screen or with VR headsets like the Vive or Rift.  Just trigger the recording while you are in game, the game will pause and you can roll, zoom, and position your focus to get the screenshot you want.  From there hit the Super Resolution button and your screenshot will be of significantly greater quality than the game ever could be.  The thumbnail below is available in its original 46080x25920 resolution by visting NVIDIA's Ansel page, it is a mere 1.7GB in size.

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NVIDIA also released their first game today, a VR Funhouse available on Steam for no charge ... apart from the HTC Vive and minimum hardware requirements of an GTX 1060 and i7 4790 or the recommended GTX 1080 and i7 5930, which are enough of an investment as it is.  There are seven games to play, expect skeet shooting, whack a mole and other standard carny games.  At the same time it is a showcase of NVIDIA's VR technology, not just the *Works which we are familiar with but also VR SLI support for those with multiple GPUs and VRWorks Multi-res Shading which reduces processing load by only rendering full detail to objects within your field of view.  If you have the hardware you should check out the game, it is certanly worth the admission price.

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Source: NVIDIA

Podcast #408 - RX 480 Conclusions, GTX 1060 Preview, 4TB Samsung 850 EVO and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2016 - 01:50 PM |
Tagged: video, Samsung, rx 480, radeon, Primochill, praxis, power consumption, podcast, phononic, gtx 1060, amd, 850 EVO, 4TB

PC Perspective Podcast #408 - 07/14/2016

Join us this week as we discuss a conclusion to the RX 480 power issue, the GTX 1060, a 4TB Samsung 850 EVO 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: 1:36:40
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Allyn: Rigol DS1054Z Digital Oscilloscope (hackable and overclockable!)
  4. Closing/outro

Linux on a highway, I wanna ride it all night long

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2016 - 01:28 PM |
Tagged: linux, iot, security, Automotive Grade Linux

Has the almost obscene lack of security in automobile software made you somewhat paranoid, even if you trust the Tesla autopilot?  Has the fact that a mere attempt to access your cars software could land you in jail turned you completely off of buying a car less than 10 years old?

How would you feel about a version of Linux controlling some of the features of your car?  That is exactly what the Linux Foundation is working on with the AGL project.  The hardware used will include DragonBoard, Wandboard, and Raspberry Pi and automobile manufacturers joining the project include  Ford, Subaru, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Nissan, and Jaguar Land Rover.  So far the project only encompasses in-car entertainment but it does have the potential to grow beyond that.  Check out the story on Linux.com for more.

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"The Linux Foundation’s Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) project, which is developing a “Linux-based, open platform for the connected car,” announced the release of the second version of its Unified Code Base (UCB) distribution for in-vehicle infotainment (IVI)."

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Tech Talk

Source: Linux.com

Asynchronous Atomic Ghandi coming in Civ VI

Subject: General Tech | July 13, 2016 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: gaming, dx12, civilization VI, asynchronous compute, amd

AMD, 2K and Firaxis Games have been working together to bring the newest DX12 features to Civilization IV and today they have announced their success.  The new game will incorporate Asynchronous Compute in the engine as well as support for Explicit Multi-Adapter for those with multiple GPUs.  This should give AMD cards a significant performance boost when running the game, at least until NVIDIA can catch up with their support for the new technologies ... HairWorks is not going to have much as effect on your units as Async Compute will.

If you haven't been keeping an eye out, we have seen the video of Egypt's leader which also talk about terrain adjacency bonuses and England's leader and civilization specific units and buildings.

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"Complete with support for advanced DirectX 12 features like asynchronous compute and explicit multi-adapter, PC gamers the world over will be treated to a high-performance and highly-parallelized game engine perfectly suited to sprawling, complex civilizations."

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Gaming

Source: Radeon.com

CryptoDrop, an early warning system against ransomeware

Subject: General Tech | July 13, 2016 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: ransomware, CryptoDrop

Given the choice between a confirmation pop up every time you zip numerous files simultaneously or add encryption to a folder or being infected with ransomware; which would you choose?  Researchers at the University of Florida and Villanova University have developed software called CryptoLock which scans your systems for bulk modification of file types, a significant change in the contents of those files and an increase in the Shannon Entropy of the files.  All three of those indicate a file is being encrypted and if it is happening to numerous ones in a very short period of time then the software will put a halt to it until you confirm that this is expected behaviour.  You get a quick overview over at The Register as well as a link to the PDF of the researchers work.

Sounds like a pop up we can live with, considering the alternative.  Hopefully this will arrive on the market soon.

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"Taking a “save what you can” approach, the authors of this PDF reckon in their tests they were able to lower the boom on ransomware when it had encrypted just 0.2 per cent of files on their test setup."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Microsoft finally puts a price on the Enterprise version of Windows 10

Subject: General Tech | July 12, 2016 - 02:36 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, enterprise

Thought that Microsoft did a poor job on the consumer side of Windows 10, you haven't being watching the absurdity which is the Enterprise version.  They took putting the cart in front of the horse to new levels but as of today we finally have a monthly price for a user.  This announcement comes several months after they removed the ability of system admins to block installation of random apps from the Windows Store for those using Windows 10 Professional.  It is also a week after they announced the removal of two popular components of the Microsoft Desktop Optimisation Pack, App-V and UE-V. 

Today we have received word that the Windows 10 Enterprise E3 version will be $7 per user per month, though we have yet to hear any pricing on the E5 version which includes Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection.  You can read more at Slashdot while you laugh about Microsoft's apparent confusion as to why businesses are not yet willing to adopt their new OS.

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"Microsoft plans to make its recently renamed Windows 10 Enterprise product available as a subscription for $7 per user per month, or $84 per year. Microsoft took the wraps off the pricing of one of the two renamed versions of Windows 10 Enterprise at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto on July 12."

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Source: Slashdot

DOOM comes to Vulkan; or vice versa

Subject: General Tech | July 11, 2016 - 12:16 PM |
Tagged: vulkan, doom, bethesda

*** Update *** an asute reader spotted some quick and dirty benchmarks over at Guru of 3D.  It looks like the RX480 does indeed benefit from Vulkan, the GTX 1070 not so much.

While this does not mean that the new DOOM will run on Linux, today does see Vulkan support arriving for the new FPS.  As we have seen with titles such as BF4 this is not going to benefit users of high end GPUs in any great way, however gamers on a budget should see improvements.  Bethesda did not update their minimum specs but do anticipate older cards being able to maintain more respectable framerates; the current minimum specs are a GTX 670 or HD 7870.  Expect to see some bugs as this their first shot at the Vulkan API, but do check it out if you have a lower end card or are simply curious how well it works. Handy links for drivers and more info over at Bethesda.

"At id Software, we’ve always pushed technology. With DOOM we let the game drive the technology decisions from early on. This has continued even in post-release, with new updates and more. Today we’re excited to share another big technology push: Vulkan support is now live on PC."

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Source: Bethesda

DRAM just doesn't have the torque to compete in the future

Subject: General Tech | July 8, 2016 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: STT-MRAM, nifty

Good news has arrived for those watching the development of the next type of storage medium, there has been new information about Spin Transfer Torque MRAM published.  One of the major hurdles in the development of the new type of memory, apart from yields, has been predicting the performance of MRAM cells.  The Register have linked to an article on IEEE, jointly published by IBM and Samsung, which details how new STT-MRAM materials fabbed at the 11nm behave.  We are still a while off of STT-MRAM hitting the market but it continues to draw closer as researchers try to bring us the next generation of storage media.

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"IBM and Samsung scientists have published an IEEE paper demonstrating switching MRAM cells for 655 devices with diameters ranging from 50 down to 11 nanometers in just 10 nanoseconds using only 7.5 microamperes. They say it is a significant achievement towards the development of Spin Torque MRAM."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Register

When is a headset not simply a headset? When it is the Avegant Glyph Mobile Personal Theater

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2016 - 07:18 PM |
Tagged: audio, Avegant Glyph, headset

Why is the AVEGANT Glyph headset referred to as a personal theatre you may ask?  That would be because these are headphones and a head mounted display in one package, unfortunately they launched while everyone was gazing at their Vives and Rifts.  Instead of providing a VR experience, this headset is intended to give you the view of a  55-60" TV as if you were sitting 3 to 4 meters away.  The headset uses a microUSB for power and microHDMI for signal and provides a resolution of 1280x720p per eye and even supports 3D-movies and 3D-Vision when gaming.  Unfortunately as Bjorn3D discovered, you need a 720p source, it cannot downscale from 1080p or other resolutions.  Check out their full review here.

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"So what is the Avegant Glyph? Quite simply it is a headset that can be used as a regular audio headset but also comes with lenses to allow you to use it as your own mobile personal theater. And regardless of some issues it actually works great for this purpose."

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Audio Corner

Source: Bjorn3D

Podcast #407 - RX 480 Power Concerns, X1 Yoga, Thrustmaster, Micron 9100 MAX, and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2016 - 02:20 PM |
Tagged: xbox play, video, Thrustmaster, technology, Samsung 840, rx 480, review, radeon 490, radeon, power, Polaris, podcast, pcper, news, Micron 9100 MAX SSD, lenovo thinkpad x1 yoga, Kinetic, gtx 1060, EVO, cooler, coolchip, alcantera

PC Perspective Podcast #407 - 07/07/2016

Join us this week as we discuss RX 480 Power Concerns, X1 Yoga, Thrustmaster, Micron 9100 MAX, 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 Kaspersky! (promo code pcper)

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

Program length: 1:47:16
  1. Week in Review:
  2. AD BREAK
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Jeremy: Canuck with no patience? Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1070 G1 Gaming
  5. Closing/outro

microSD was just a flash in the pan; meet your new tiny storage overlord, Samsung's UFS cards

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2016 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: UFS, Samsung, microSD

Samsung just announced the first product based on the new Universal Flash Storage standard which will be making microSD cards as obsolete as your old mix tape.  They will come in sizes from 256GB down to 32GB but it is the speed of these new storage devices that will impress, not the density.  Samsung tells of sequential read speeds of up to 530MB/s, allowing you to dump HD quality video to a PC and random reads of 40,000 IOPS if you have a usage scenario which would read in such a manner.  For recording video you can expect up to 170MB/s sequential write speed or 35,000 random IOPS; 4K drone recordings won't be limited by bandwidth anymore. 

Unfortunately, as The Inquirer points out, no one can use these yet as we haven't a place to stick them.

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"What UFS does mean already is that we'll start to see a bottleneck lifted in storage speeds in phones and tablets. As we've already seen, MicroSD doesn't cut it in the speed stakes, and it doesn't seem so long ago that we reported on torn down phones with 'internal' memory that was really just an SD card hidden away."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Valve Announces TF2 "Meet Your Match" Update

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2016 - 05:48 PM |
Tagged: valve, tf2

Conveniently just after Overwatch received its Competitive Play update, Valve has announced the Meet Your Match update to Team Fortress 2. This update includes Competitive Mode, which is a ranked, 6v6 gametype, which sounds even more like Overwatch. Only the first day has been revealed thus far, as Valve likes to break update posts into chunks and release them over the course of a week, but it includes three maps, two achievements, and the official launch of the PASS Time game mode. The second part of the update is coming soon.

PASS Time was originally announced last year, in collaboration with Bad Robot (J.J. Abrams' production company) and Escalation Studios. While I've never played it (yes, I pretty much only play 2Fort...) it sounds similar to game modes like Bombing Run or Grifball. Obviously, those game modes are typically for more individual shooters, not TF2's class system, so it's interesting to see how, for instance, a Level 3 Sentry plays into it.

Source: Valve

Saturday July 9 10:00 AM ET - Fragging Frogs VLAN #13 is right around the corner

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2016 - 03:09 PM |
Tagged: VLAN party, vlan, kick ass, gaming, fun, fragging frogs

That's right, it is time for another Fragging Frog VLAN, this time lucky number 13, kicking off this Saturday morning.  If you are at all interested in having the best possible Saturday ever then head to the forums and put your name in the list of attendees.  If you are not a member of the Forums for some bizarre reason you need to sign up ASAP as it is members and contributors of PCPer and the Fragging Frogs who are given first shot at games and prizes.  To that end you will need to post at least 5 times to our Forums between now and Saturday; pictures of SPAM not included.

FraggingFrogs.jpg

The list of possible games is already quite long, from UT2K4 up to the newly released Overwatch, by way of Battle both field-ish and Front-ian with many more on the list.  If you don't see one of your favourites post it to the thread and we will add it on.  Before joining in, make sure to check out this thread here for the information you need to hop onto the TeamSpeak server so you can chat with your fellow gamers.  You also need to join into the channel if you want to win any of the prizes which will be given away during the event.

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That's right, prizes and gaming!  The wonderful folks at AMD have sent over some mysterious parts for you to have a chance to win and several of the staff of PCPer have dug through their closets and sent out some of the gear we have reviewed recently.  What could these be?  Only one way to find out; see you on Saturday!

That ThinkPwn vulnerability extends beyond Lenovo as the fault is with the motherboard

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2016 - 01:46 PM |
Tagged: ThinkPwn, Lenovo, gigabyte, 68-UD3H, z77x-ud5h, Z87MX-D3H, Z97-D3H, Intel, SMM

The ThinkPwn vulnerability which has been in the news lately, which allows attackers to disable Secure Boot and bypass Virtual Secure Mode on Win10 Enterprise as well as disabling flash write protection turns out not to be yet another questionable Lenovo feature.  Instead the problem lies with the motherboards UEFI, specifically the Intel System Management Mode implemented on Gigabyte motherboards.  So far the issue has been located on Z68-UD3H, Z77X-UD5H, Z87MX-D3H, and Z97-D3H but it is possible that the vulnerability exists on far more motherboards, perhaps even beyond Gigabyte as the flaw is in the Intel code.  The Register also postulates this could effect HP Pavilion machines as they use these boards as well.

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"Gigabyte has been swept into turmoil surrounding low-level security vulnerabilities that allows attackers to kill flash protection, secure boot, and tamper with firmware on PCs by Lenovo and other vendors."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Razer Announces BlackWidow X Tournament Edition

Subject: General Tech | July 5, 2016 - 05:45 PM |
Tagged: razer, mechanical keyboard, Cherry MX

Well this is interesting. Razer has announced the BlackWidow X Tournament Edition, which is a new tenkeyless mechanical keyboard that uses Cherry MX Blue switches. This is interesting, because it does not use Razer's own switches -- not even as a customization (like the BlackWidow X Ultimate). You must use Cherry MX Blue. It's an interesting change, and I'm not sure why they did that, but they did.

razer-2016-blackwidowxte.png

Beyond that, it's a fairly standard keyboard. It doesn't have a number pad, but it does have a button to record macros on it. I personally do not like those ever since my original Razer BlackWidow. I would accidentally press the button, not realize it, then have everything I typed get spammed out for the next half hour, including passwords. I would assume Razer has fixed that issue in the last four-or-so years, but I haven't used their keyboards in a while. There might have even been an option to prevent it back then, but I never found it. Also, for some, a macro button is probably a nice feature, seeing as they've consistently included it.

The talk about Cherry Switches and Macro Keys aside, the keyboard seems like a pretty decent value. The Razer BlackWidow X Tournament Edition costs $69.99 and ships next week.

Source: Razer

Xbox Play Anywhere Has Been Formalized

Subject: General Tech | July 5, 2016 - 05:18 PM |
Tagged: xbox, windows 10, microsoft

Microsoft is launching Xbox Play Anywhere this fall, which allows games that are purchased on Xbox Store and Windows Store to be available on the other for no additional cost.

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To our site, this means that these games will also be available on Windows 10. Moreover, Microsoft has announced that “every new title published from Microsoft Studios will support Xbox Play Anywhere and will be easily accessible in the Windows Store.” So this means that, starting with Re-Core, Microsoft should publish all of their games on the PC.

Update (July 6th @ 3:33pm EDT): Turns out that it was updated to clarify "at this year's E3". So the list of games on XboxPlayAnywhere is all they're announcing so far.

That said, it will all be done through Windows Store, and so we'll need to remain concerned about the openness of that platform. The obvious example is when Games for Windows Live was shut down, bricking all software that the developer didn't patch out (or patch over to Steam). There's also concern about people being able to distribute software independently and anonymously as well.

That said, Microsoft is free to publish their own software however they like, and it's nice to see them supporting the PC again. I just want to make sure a strong, alternative platform exists (like Win32 or a strong Web standard) that cannot be (legally or technically) pivoted into Windows RT (or iOS), which forced all browsers to be re-skins of Internet Explorer (or Safari in iOS's case), forced content guidelines on games, etc. Someone will abuse any restrictions that are made, now or in the future.

Yes, some of your users phones are infected

Subject: General Tech | July 5, 2016 - 12:32 PM |
Tagged: security, Malware

Managing mobile devices in an enterprise environment is a nightmare, even with properly set up security polices and some sort of Mobile Device Manager.  Security firm Skycure recently estimated one in every 200 devices is infected with some form of malware, which seems a bit low especially considering that some the devices tested had 290 apps installed.  Infections of Android devices are most common but do not think for a moment that your iOS device is safe, it may only be half as likely to be compromised but it does indeed have serious vulnerabilities as well.  Drop by The Register for a look at the numbers of bad apps on various stores.

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"Researchers found enterprises have three unique infection instances with devices sporting an eye-watering average of 290 apps a piece."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

The 8-Bit Guy (and Friends) on Cassette Tapes for PCs

Subject: General Tech, Storage | July 5, 2016 - 02:52 AM |
Tagged: cassette, tape

Some old PCs didn't have storage, so users needed to add programs manually by typing in the source code. As The 8-Bit Guy explains, one of the first consumer solutions was to attach a cassette tape to the computer through analog audio cables. They would actually be programmed by pulsing electrical intensities, which would be interpreted as binary data, within the audio range. Near the end, he even plays a clip of normal data, and “fast loader” data.

He, and his co-hosts, talk about their experiences with the medium, such as using a two-deck cassette player to copy programs and share them with friends. It doesn't go too deep into the technology or the time period, unlike some of his previous videos, but it's still entertaining none-the-less.

More Examples of Why AV Software Can Be Bad

Subject: General Tech | July 5, 2016 - 02:13 AM |
Tagged: symantec, security

I know that I've mention this in the past, and I'm not advocating running no antivirus software, but it's good to remember that you're using high-privileged software to load untrusted data. While mistakes can happen in any reasonably complex software, some companies are more complacent than others, and some design choices fail to respect the trust you have in them. Symantec, as far as I know, has one of the better reputations of security companies, but this flaw is terrible.

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Basically, to detect malware that has been obfuscated by executable compression, antivirus software unpacks it themselves and looks. Symantec's solution runs in the kernel, allowing any malware that targets it to have kernel permissions. They were also using “at least” seven-year-old forks of open source libraries. Well... crap.

The bugs have been privately disclosed to Symantec, and fixed before Google went public. If you have any Symantec, or their consumer brand, Norton, software, then make sure it's up to date. Consumer software will have the fix pushed through LiveUpdate, but some some products, like Symantec Endpoint Protection and Symantec Protection for SharePoint Servers might require administrator action.

Source: Google