MSI and HTC team up for Vive support as well as two tools for streamers

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2016 - 09:05 AM |
Tagged: vive, nahimic, msi, dragon eye, CES

Along with the hardware that MSI is teasing us with at CES comes a project worthy of note.  It would seem that MSI has been working with HTC to provide out of the box support for the Vive, assuming you buy components with the power to push that many pixels at the necessary speed.  There is little meat as to the specifics but any work done before the product is released which gives first adopters a helping hand is a valuable thing when it comes to sales.

HTC-Vive_White.jpg

For those gamers who love to livestream their gaming sessions or record them for editing and later publication should take a peek at Dragon Eye and Nahimic 2, two new software tools MSI will be releasing.  Nahimic 2 is an HD Audio Recorder to ensure captured or broadcasted audio is of high quality and also includes Sound Tracker which will give you graphic indications of noise sources in games, assuming you would stoop that low.  Dragon Eye is for video and its usage is also quite different from Nahamic2.  It will allow you to easily use its picture-in-picture feature to watch Youtube videos and other streams in a small window while you are gaming. 

dragoneye.png

At the very least it will be handy to see your team mates screen or to watch a walkthrough while playing a game, again assuming a certain moral turpitude on the part of the player.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: MSI

CES 2016 Podcast Day 2 - MSI, Gigabyte, Corsair, and more!

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2016 - 04:31 AM |
Tagged: video, spec alpha, podcast, msi, GT72S Tobii, GS40 Phantom, gigabyte, corsair, CES 2016, CES, carbide, brix, arm, 400Q, 400C

CES 2016 Podcast Day 2 - 01/06/16

Join us for announcements from MSI, Gigabyte, Corsair, 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
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Ken Addison and Sebastian Peak

Program length: 1:02:45

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

Microsoft Announces ReCore Will Be Released on PC

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2016 - 12:05 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, xbox, recore

ReCore was first announced at the last E3 as an Xbox One exclusive, but Microsoft has recently announced that it will arrive on Windows, too. It is being developed by Comcept and Armature Studio for Microsoft Game Studios. Comcept was founded by Keiji Inafune, producer of Mega Man, Dead Rising, and Lost Planet. Armature Studio was founded by three members of Retro Studios, who made the Metroid Prime franchise. It was supposed to launch in the next couple of months, but it has been pushed to later this year.

microsoft-2016-recore-game.jpg

It's still unclear what the game even is though, which is odd considering its relatively close release date. It is listed as an action-adventure title, and the developer claims that both Metroid and Zelda have influenced its direction. There also seems to be an element of “robotic cores” that can be moved from skeleton to skeleton, bringing its AI with it. Lastly, the Game Info site highlights a robotic companion element. Neither of those two points seem to fit in a Zelda nor a Metroid framework, which revolve around puzzle solving and re-exploring areas with upgraded abilities, respectively. There's something missing, and it will likely be revealed at E3 in June.

We'll see. It could be a bust, but at least we will have the option to try it.

Valve Reviews CS:GO Match-Fixing Bans and Upholds Them

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2016 - 10:03 PM |
Tagged: valve, CS:GO, esports

About a year ago, Valve blocked several players from participating in their sponsored tournaments when the players were believed to be match fixing. This is the practice of arranging outcomes in events and tournaments. This is often accompanied by betting on the pre-arranged winners, but it could also be used to shift around positions in seed brackets by having one or more member intentionally lose winnable games. This is bad all-around, but can even be illegal (due to the implications of fraud and so forth).

valve-nope.jpg

Since then, the game developer has reviewed their earlier decision, and they decided to make it permanent. They did not state how many players were involved, although PC Gamer knows of 21. These individuals will never be allowed to compete at any Valve-sponsored tournaments, and other organizers will be able to extend those bans to their events, too.

A similar incident happened in the Korean StarCraft II scene. In that situation, a dozen individuals were arrested and detained by Korean law enforcement, charged for betting (or enabling third-parties to bet) on predetermined outcomes. This has been an ongoing problem.

Source: Valve

CES 2016 Podcast Day 1 - Lenovo, NVIDIA Press Conference, new AMD GPUs and more!

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2016 - 04:40 AM |
Tagged: podcast, video, CES, CES 2016, Lenovo, Thinkpad, x1 carbon, x1 yoga, nvidia, pascal, amd, Polaris, FinFET, 14nm

CES 2016 Podcast Day 1 - 01/05/16

CES is just beginning. Join us for announcements from Lenovo, NVIDIA Press Conference, new AMD GPUs 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: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, Ken Addison and Sebastian Peak

Program length: 1:11:05

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

CES 2016: Logitech G Proteus Spectrum Gaming Mouse

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2016 - 04:00 AM |
Tagged: RGB LED, Proteus Spectrum, Proteus Core, pmw3366, logitech g, logitech, gaming mouse, CES 2016, CES

Logitech has announced a new mouse based on the popular G502 Proteus Core, and the new G502 Proteus Spectrum gaming mouse offers customizable RGB lighting.

g502_cyan.jpeg

"By adding RGB customizable lighting the Logitech G502 Proteus Core, the world’s best selling gaming mouse just got even better. The Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum still retains the world’s best DPI sensor, advanced surface and weight tuning, but now gives you even more features to elevate your game and style."

The mouse uses the highly regarded PMW3366 optical sensor which provides a range of 200 - 12,000 DPI "with zero sensor acceleration, zero smoothing or filtering and zero pixel rounding" according to Logitech.

g502_top.jpeg

The lighting effects are controlled with the Logitech Gaming Software (LGS) application, with 16.8 million possible colors and different selectable patterns (breathe, cycle). The weight and center of balance can be customized as well via five 3.6 g weights in the mouse, and 11 programmable buttons allow further customization via LGS.

g502_yellow.jpeg

The G502 Proteus Spectrum should be available in the U.S. and Europe beginning this month, with an MSRP of $79.99.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Logitech G

CES 2016: NVIDIA Launches DRIVE PX 2 With Dual Pascal GPUs Driving A Deep Neural Network

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2016 - 01:17 AM |
Tagged: tegra, pascal, nvidia, driveworks, drive px 2, deep neural network, deep learning, autonomous car

NVIDIA is using the Consumer Electronics Show to launch the Drive PX 2 which is the latest bit of hardware aimed at autonomous vehicles. Several NVIDIA products combine to create the company's self-driving "end to end solution" including DIGITS, DriveWorks, and the Drive PX 2 hardware to train, optimize, and run the neural network software that will allegedly be the brains of future self-driving cars (or so NVIDIA hopes).

NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 Self Driving Car Supercomputer.jpg

The Drive PX 2 hardware is the successor to the Tegra-powered Drive PX released last year. The Drive PX 2 represents a major computational power jump with 12 CPU cores and two discrete "Pascal"-based GPUs! NVIDIA has not revealed the full specifications yet, but they have made certain details available. There are two Tegra SoCs along with two GPUs that are liquid cooled. The liquid cooling consists of a large metal block with copper tubing winding through it and then passing into what looks to be external connectors that attach to a completed cooling loop (an exterior radiator, pump, and reservoir).

There are a total of 12 CPU cores including eight ARM Cortex A57 cores and four "Denver" cores. The discrete graphics are based on the 16nm FinFET process and will use the company's upcoming Pascal architecture. The total package will draw a maximum of 250 watts and will offer up to 8 TFLOPS of computational horsepower and 24 trillion "deep learning operations per second." That last number relates to the number of special deep learning instructions the hardware can process per second which, if anything, sounds like an impressive amount of power when it comes to making connections and analyzing data to try to classify it. Drive PX 2 is, according to NVIDIA, 10 times faster than it's predecessor at running these specialized instructions and has nearly 4 times the computational horsepower when it comes to TLOPS.

Similar to the original Drive PX, the driving AI platform can accept and process the inputs of up to 12 video cameras. It can also handle LiDAR, RADAR, and ultrasonic sensors. NVIDIA compared the Drive PX 2 to the TITAN X in its ability to process 2,800 images per second versus the consumer graphics card's 450 AlexNet images which while possibly not the best comparison does make it look promising.

NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 DRIVEWORKS.jpg

Neural networks and machine learning are at the core of what makes autonomous vehicles possible along with hardware powerful enough to take in a multitude of sensor data and process it fast enough. The software side of things includes the DriveWorks development kit which includes specialized instructions and a neural network that can detect objects based on sensor input(s), identify and classify them, determine the positions of objects relative to the vehicle, and calculate the most efficient path to the destination.

Specifically, in the press release NVIDIA stated:

"This complex work is facilitated by NVIDIA DriveWorks™, a suite of software tools, libraries and modules that accelerates development and testing of autonomous vehicles. DriveWorks enables sensor calibration, acquisition of surround data, synchronization, recording and then processing streams of sensor data through a complex pipeline of algorithms running on all of the DRIVE PX 2's specialized and general-purpose processors. Software modules are included for every aspect of the autonomous driving pipeline, from object detection, classification and segmentation to map localization and path planning."

DIGITS is the platform used to train the neural network that is then used by the Drive PX 2 hardware. The software is purportedly improving in both accuracy and training time with NVIDIA achieving a 96% accuracy rating at identifying traffic signs based on the traffic sign database from Ruhr University Bochum after a training session lasting only 4 hours as opposed to training times of days or even weeks.

NVIDIA claims that the initial Drive PX has been picked up by over 50 development teams (automakers, universities, software developers, et al) interested in autonomous vehicles. Early access to development hardware is expected to be towards the middle of the year with general availability of final hardware in Q4 2016.

The new Drive PX 2 is getting a serious hardware boost with the inclusion of two dedicated graphics processors (the Drive PX was based around two Tegra X1 SoCs), and that should allow automakers to really push what's possible in real time and push the self-driving car a bit closer to reality and final (self) drive-able products. I'm excited to see that vision come to fruition and am looking forward to seeing what this improved hardware will enable in the auto industry!

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: NVIDIA

CES 2016: Activision Blizzard Confirms MLG Purchase

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 4, 2016 - 11:44 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, mlg, esports, blizzard, Activision

On New Year's Day, rumors flew about MLG being purchased by Activision Blizzard for $46 million USD. At the time, the vast majority of available information discussed how this would affect shareholders, particularly those with lower-class stock in the eSport company. (As it turns out, very poorly.) I wondered why Activision Blizzard would want MLG's assets, especially considering their heavy involvement with ESL, afreecaTV, and others.

Activision_Blizzard_logo.png

According to a press release from Activision Blizzard themselves, they intend to “create the ESPN of esports.” The Activision Blizzard Media Networks division will be led by the former CEO of ESPN, Steve Bornstein, and the co-founder of MLG, Mike Sepso. The other co-founder of MLG, Sundance DiGiovanni, will remain at MLG. It was previously rumored, during the investor's leak, that he was replaced by the former CFO of MLG, Greg Chisholm. While I expect that some shuffling has occurred, DiGiovanni will apparently remain in a management role at MLG. Granted, it could be equivalent to Hideo Kojima's “holiday” last October, but that would just be silly.

As far as I can tell, other broadcasters have not commented on what this means to them.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

G.Skill makes a move into the gaming headset market

Subject: General Tech | January 4, 2016 - 11:16 AM |
Tagged: SV710, SR910, gskill, gaming headset, audio

G.Skill have been focusing on the peripheral market recently, releasing a gaming mouse and keyboard and now a pair of headphones, the SR910 and SV710.  Hardware Canucks recently put up a video review of the two headsets, which are almost identical apart from the external controls.  The SV710 has a very large inline volume controller that was not well received while the SV910 has a larger control hub that sits on your desktop and allows individual control over the drivers in the headset.  Unfortunately they were not overly impressed with the design and performance of the headsets and the less expensive stereo SV710 model was preferred over the more complex and expensive SR910.

1.jpg

"G.Skill has entered the audio segment with its SR910 and SV710 gaming headsets—and that's a big step for a company still finding its feet outside its core market."

Here is some more Tech News from aroud the web:

Audio Corner

Meet GCN next, AMD's Polaris

Subject: General Tech | January 4, 2016 - 10:48 AM |
Tagged: amd, Polaris, FinFET

Ryan's coverage of the new Polaris architecture will be up momentarily but in the meantime you can take a peek at The Tech Report's coverage here.  The new architecture will utilize FinFETs of an unspecified process node and is designed to power the new UHD displays and VR headsets due for release over this coming year.  Raja Koduri discusses the two major goals of the new architecture, fast pixels and deep pixels.  Fast pixels refers to the awe inspiring amount of bandwidth required to draw on UHD displays, twin 4K displays would require addressing 1.8 gigapixels per refresh which would certainly need some fast pixels.  Deep pixels refers to improved support for variable refresh rates and likely encompasses support for the new HDR technology we will see appear on the market in the near future.  If you can't hold off your curiosity for our coverage you can pop over here.

timeline.jpg

"AMD will release new Radeons built on its next-gen Polaris architecture in mid-2016. We got an early look at this new architecture and AMD's plans for building these chips with FinFETs last month at the company's Radeon Technologies Group tech summit."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Keep your tired lithium batteries on ice

Subject: General Tech | January 2, 2016 - 02:02 PM |
Tagged: battery

We know that heat and Lithium based batteries don't mix but there is more to worry about than catastrophic failure.  A post over at Hack a Day illustrates the consequences of heating a Lithium based battery with 1% or less charge, the complete and permanent death of the batteries ability to hold a charge.  There are some uses for these batteries in designs which can trap heat near to the battery and not properly transfer it out and it is apparently very important to keep those batteries at least moderately charged.  If you are making something which might expose the batteries to excess heat ensure you monitor the charge to prevent having to replace the batteries.  The complete discharge of a Lithium cell is never a good practice and this illustrates another reason to keep those batteries charged.

285562_orig.jpg

"There’s a million ways to kill a battery, and lithium batteries are known not to like being completely discharged, but it looks like the combination of deep discharge and heat is entirely deadly. Now you know."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Hack a Day

Rumor: MLG "Assets" Sold to Activision Blizzard

Subject: General Tech | January 1, 2016 - 10:08 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, mlg, esports, blizzard, Activision

Update (10:10pm ET): Forgot to add "rumor" to title.

So I didn't expect this. According to eSports Observer, MLG has basically been liquidated to Activision Blizzard for $46 million USD. Neither company has confirmed the report. The source is a leaked letter that was allegedly sent to stockholders, many of whom, if the rumors are true, were not informed prior to the sale. That's kind-of crappy.

Major_League_Gaming_(logo).png

We will probably hear this story evolve, if true, over the next couple weeks. The organization was said to have been running on a substantial amount of debt, relative to the company's size, for quite some time. If the organization shuts down as it seems it will, then many investors will probably get next to nothing.

On the other hand, it is interesting to see what Activision Blizzard will do with their acquisition. The publisher holds several popular spectator titles, such as Call of Duty, StarCraft, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, World of Warcraft, and soon to be Overwatch. I doubt that the company would roll their games into their own eSport service, especially as they are growing closer to rival ESL, so I would have to expect that these “assets” will be used to support (or leverage control) over third-party broadcasters and/or leagues.

WebGL2 Is On Its Way

Subject: General Tech | December 31, 2015 - 10:25 PM |
Tagged: webgl2, webgl, mozilla, firefox

The Khronos Group created WebGL to bring a GPU-accelerated platform to web browsers. With a few minor differences, it is basically JavaScript bindings for OpenGL ES 2.0. It also created a few standards in JavaScript itself to support things like raw buffers of data that could be assigned types in an unmanaged way. Basically every latest-version web browser supports it these days, and we're starting to see it used in interesting ways.

webgl2-2015-particles.jpg

The next step is WebGL2. OpenGL ES 3.0 adds a bunch of new features that are sorely needed for modern games and applications. For instance, it allows drawing to multiple render targets, which is very useful for virtual cameras in video games (although the original WebGL software could access this as an optional extension when supported). The addition of “Uniform Buffer Objects” is a better example. This allows you to store a bunch of data, like view transformation matrices, as a single buffer that can be bound to multiple applications, rather than binding them one at a time to every draw that needs them.

It's hard to describe, but demos speak a thousand words.

The news today is that Mozilla Nightly now ships with WebGL2 enabled by default. It was previously hidden, disabled by default, behind an option in the browser. This doesn't seem like a big deal, but one of the largest hurdles to WebGL2 is how the browsers actually implement it. The shading language in WebGL was simple enough that most browsers convert it to DirectX HLSL on Windows. This is said to have the added advantage of obfuscating the ability to write malicious code, since developers never directly writes what's executed. GLSL in OpenGL ES 3.0 is much more difficult. I'm not sure whether the browsers will begin to trust OpenGL ES 3.0 drivers directly, or if they finally updated the GLSL translator, but supported implementations means that something was fixed.

Unfortunately, OpenGL compute shaders are not supported in WebGL2. That said, the biggest hurdle is, again, to get WebGL2 working at all. From my talks with browser vendors over the last year or so, it sounds like features (including compute shaders) should start flying in easily once this hurdle is cleared. From there, GPGPU in a website should be much more straightforward.

Meanwhile, Oculus Touch Won't Arrive Until 2H16

Subject: General Tech | December 31, 2015 - 07:49 PM |
Tagged: Oculus, oculus rift, oculus touch, vive vr

Valve and Oculus are targeting roughly the same window to release the consumer editions of their respective VR equipment. While technical information will likely wait until next week, we are hearing about delays ahead of CES. In the Vive's case, they couldn't afford to wait until the show, because it was supposed to launch in Holiday 2015. That has been revised to April.

oculus-2015-touchcontrollers1.jpg

But this is about Oculus. Their headset is still expected to arrive on time, which is enough for many experiences. The Xbox One controller is supposedly the default for this platform. This puts them out of the running for motion-control software, as seen on the Vive, though. Oculus is developing their own, called the Oculus Touch. They said they were launching without it and that it is optional. We now know that this will be in the second half of the year, which could be as early as the “few months after the Rift” as we were told, or as late as a year from now.

We're already hearing concerns about incompatibility between the two systems, since it will lead to some level of platform-exclusivity. Lead time could help a platform gain ground, unless consumers outright refuse to buy in to any of them in case it ends up being the Betamax or HD-DVD. I'm not sure what we, as consumers, can do to prevent any of these negative outcomes, but it's something we need to be mindful of, especially throughout 2016.

Source: Oculus

Final Fantasy IX PC Version Confirmed (for Japan)

Subject: General Tech | December 31, 2015 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: square enix, pc gaming, final fantasy

Back in September, SquareEnix announced that Final Fantasy V was coming to the PC. I took the opportunity to list all the main-line Final Fantasy titles, sorted by generation, and classified them as having a PC release (or not). The odd one out was Final Fantasy IX. It belongs in the set of three original PlayStation titles, but, unlike VII and VIII, was not given a PC release at the time. I was worried that SquareEnix might not go through the trouble for just a single game.

square-2015-ff9-logo.jpg

Apparently, they are doing a version for PCs and Smartphones. It looks somewhat similar to the handheld remake of Final Fantasy III, although that is similar to the PlayStation graphics. It is possible that it will not make it to a worldwide release, but, since the website is fully translated into English, you would expect that the game would be localized, too. If the game is localized, there's very little reason to block it off geographically.

They only have system requirements for iOS. They will probably list Windows system requirements at a later date, which I assume the disable “System” button refers to. Android 4.1 is required for that platform, but they don't say anything about hardware. Regardless, I doubt that this will require much.

Source: Square Enix

FCC Approves the Vive VR "Base station"

Subject: General Tech | December 31, 2015 - 03:00 PM |
Tagged: htc, valve, vive, vive vr

This bit of news is a little more pleasant for Valve. According to Engadget, the HTC Vive has passed FCC approval. HTC recently announced that the product would launch in April, slipping from its original launch date, Holiday 2015, by a few months. This was due to a “very, very big technological breakthrough” that was in no way elaborated on.

valve-2015-htc-vive-fcclaser.png

The linked FCC report calls the device the “HTC Base station.” This likely refers to the Lighthouse laser tracking system that are monitored by light sensors on the headset and controllers. The public notice includes the FCC warning label, which mentions that the device is a Class 1 laser system. There are five classifications of lasers, from Class 1 through Class 4 (with Class 3 split into Class 3a and Class 3b). Class 1 means that the laser is completely incapable of producing harmful radiation. Class 4 can cause fires. Since HTC's device is Class 1, this means that either the laser's intensity is too low to cause damage, even with sustained viewing, or the laser never produces a harmful amount of radiation in a way that could be viewed under normal operation. For instance, a laser printer is a “Class 1” laser, because everything occurs within the device. Laser pointers, on the other hand, are typically Class 2.

This raises an interesting question about how the lasers are used. They are clearly emitted into open space, because the sensors are on the visor. This suggests that the lasers are either very low power, or the beam is manipulated in such a way that it cannot be pointed into someone's eye for a meaningful amount of time. How? No idea.

HTC and Valve are expected to fully unveil the product at CES. PC Perspective will be at the event, and we'll probably have more information at that time.

Source: Engadget

Podcast #381 - Picks of the Year, the EK Predator 240, ASUS MG278Q FreeSync and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 31, 2015 - 01:57 PM |
Tagged: video, Skylake, Silverstone, predator 240, podcast, picks of the year, mg278q, Intel, g-sync, freesync, EKWB, Broadwell, asus

PC Perspective Podcast #381 - 12/31/2015

Join us this week as we discuss our Picks of the Year, the EK Predator 240, ASUS MG278Q FreeSync 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: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, Morry Tietelman, and Sebastian Peak

Program length: 2:13:30

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. PC Perspective Hardware Picks of the Year
    1. 0:48:30 Graphics Card of 2015
    2. 1:00:40 CPU of 2015
    3. 1:06:55 Storage of 2015
    4. 1:11:15 Case of 2015
    5. 1:20:50 Motherboard of 2015
    6. 1:29:20 Price Drop of 2015
    7. 1:38:30 Mobile Device of 2015
    8. 1:45:50 Best Trend of 2015
    9. 1:57:40 Worst Trend of 2015
  4. Closing/outro

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

Valve Comments on Christmas Security Issues

Subject: General Tech | December 30, 2015 - 11:48 PM |
Tagged: valve, steam, security, Privacy

On Christmas Day, Valve had a few hours of problems. Their servers were being overloaded by malicious traffic. The best analogy that I could provide would be a bad organization who sent a thousand people to Walmart, to do nothing but stand in the check-out line and ask the cashier about the time. This clogs up the infrastructure, preventing legitimate customers from making their transactions. This was often done after demanding a ransom. Don't pay? Your servers get clogged at the worst time.

steam-family.png

A little too much sharing...

There are two ways to counter-act a DDoS attack: add hardware or make your site more efficient.

When a website is requested, the server generates the page and sends it to the customer. This process is typically slow, especially for complicated sites that pull data from one or more database(s). It then feeds this data to partners to send to customers. Some pages, like the Steam Store's front page, are mostly the same for anyone who views it (from the same geographic region). Some pages, like your order confirmation page, are individual. You can save server performance by generating the pages only when they change, and giving them to relevant users from the closest delivery server.

Someone, during a 20-fold spike in traffic relative to the typical Steam Sale volume, accidentally started saving (caching) pages with private information and delivering them to random users. This includes things like order confirmation and contact information pages for whatever logged-in account generated them. This is pretty terrible for privacy. Again, it does not allow users to interact with the profiles of other users, just see the results that other users generated.

But this is still quite bad.

Users complained, especially on Twitter, that Valve should have shut down their website immediately. From my position, I agree, especially since attempting to make a purchase tells the web server to pull the most sensitive information (billing address, etc.) from the database. I don't particularly know why Valve didn't, but I cannot see that from the outside.

It's probably a simple mistake to make, especially since Valve seems to blame a third-party for the configuration issue. On the other hand, that also meant that Valve structured their website such that sensitive information is in the hands of third-parties to properly cache. That might have been necessary, depending on their browser compatibility requirements, but I would hope that it's something Valve restructures in the future. (For instance, have the caching server store the site's framework, and fill in the individual's data with a JavaScript request to another, uncached server.)

But again, I don't work there. I don't know the details.

Source: Valve

Rantopad and Gateron, a switch from your usual mechanical keyboard provider

Subject: General Tech | December 30, 2015 - 03:04 PM |
Tagged: cherry mx rgb, Gateron Black, Gateron Blue, K70 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, rantopad, Rantopad MXX

Gateron is yet another company to join the mechanical switch crowd and appears on the Rantopad MXX gaming keyboard.  The keyboard is tenkeyless and designed tore let you remove keys as you see fit thought it does not seem to come with additional keys to customize the board.  As you might expect it is backlit, there will soon be a Cherry MX RGB model for those who want more than just a single colour of light to display.  MadShrimps provides a full review of this $80 mechanical keyboard here, for those interested.

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"Despite the fact that the Rantopad MXX does not feature software for additional configuration purposes, we were quite impressed with the build quality of the keyboard, while the compact (TKL) size and space-grade aluminum cover give the product a professional look. MXX does come for now with Gateron Black or Blue switches (and aluminum covers in blue or dark grey), but in the future we will also see white and red variants introduced and a much wider switch selection, including Cherry MX RGB switches."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: MadShrimps

UNIGINE 2 Earth Demo (Video)

Subject: General Tech | December 30, 2015 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: UNIGINE, unigine 2

Apparently something is coming in 2016, but I don't know what that is. All I can see at the moment is a highly-detailed rendering of Earth, which UNIGINE classifies as a research and development project. The first couple of views are pretty impressive although, despite begging in the comments for a flight simulator with this technology, it looks like this content only works in an as viewed from space context.

That said, it ends up scaling down to the planet's surface, that would be highly entertaining.

Even still, the technology required to convert from recorded, public data into a rendered sphere is impressive. The “procedural data refinement” that converts various masks into clusters of human-made lighting, and so forth, look shiny and believable. This could be highly useful for space games and cinematics at the very least.

unigine-2-space.jpg

The engine itself is impressive. The original UNIGINE was a staple of DirectX 11 benchmarks for years. It made use of tessellation in one of the most compelling, stylized ways we've seen to date. Unfortunately, they seem to be sticking with their large (but not too large) up-front licensing cost business model. This stands against the free with royalty trend of modern engines today, such as CryEngine, Unity, and Unreal. Hopefully it delivers enough revenue to keep them running.

UNIGINE 2.1 was just released in November.