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Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2016 - 10:38 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10
So, despite announcing that they will reskin the Get Windows 10 notification four days ago, Microsoft will release another annoying Get Windows 10 campaign. Based on what looks like a Windows 8.x modern, full-screen prompt, Microsoft will post “Sorry to interrupt, but this is important. Windows 10 free upgrade offer ends July 29th.” It then has two buttons, Upgrade now and Remind me later, and two links, Notify me three more times and Do not notify me again.
It's interesting to see that this prompt looks like Windows 8.x, but will also appear on Windows 7 machines. It will probably be very jarring to a Windows 7 user to see the entire screen turn a slightly purple-ish blue in a UI style that you've never seen before, asking you to essentially flip your PC upside down. I would expect them to customize it for each platform, but meh.
Interestingly, Microsoft also lists the conditions that will prevent this prompt from occurring. If you have already tried Windows 10 on the machine, it will not ask you to upgrade back. This is what I would have expected all of Get Windows 10 to do, but, from experience, previous prompts didn't care if you already tried (and even activated) Windows 10. No, it would ask you again to go back. It will also honor all the other ways that you can disable Get Windows 10. They also say it will not appear if “You have a recent version of the Get Windows 10 app installed.” This confuses me, but I'll leave it here regardless.
Anywho, prepare to be annoyed one last time... or not. I don't know.
Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2016 - 09:21 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, htc, steam, steamvr, vive, Oculus, oculus rift
According to the Steam Hardware Survey, the HTC Vive is dominating the Oculus Rift by more than a factor of two (0.15% to 0.06%). More-so, its rate of change is also double that of Oculus (0.06% to 0.03%). If these numbers are accurate, this means that the SteamVR is massively overtaking Oculus SDK in terms of both amount and rate of change.
Now the questions are “why?” and “what does that mean?”
The most obvious reason, to me, is that HTC has much better availability than Oculus. For the last month, they announced that the Vive ships within two-to-three business days. If you look at Oculus? The website tells you to expect it in August. It is currently the second day of July. While a month is not too long of a time to wait, it would make sense that a consumer would look at the two options and say “Yeah, the this week one, please.”
If that's the case, then the platform battle could be decided simply by retail availability. It wouldn't be decided by a Valve-developed first-party game. It wouldn't be decided by DRM locking games into an exclusive deal. It would simply be decided by “you can buy this one”. That is, unless Oculus ramps up production soon. At that point, we'll need to look back at hardware surveys (not just Steam's) and see what the split is. They could catch up. They could be left behind. Who knows? It could be another factor altogether.
For now, the Vive seems like it's the crowd favorite.
Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2016 - 02:21 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, steam, linux
The current split of Steam users, according to the Steam Hardware Survey, is 95.5% for Windows, 3.6% for Mac OSX, and 0.8% for Linux. Phoronix reports that this does not count SteamOS, and there might be other “inaccuracies” with the survey, but the Linux figures are 0.04% less than they were before (a relative drop of about 4.8%).
Windows users are up, and Mac OSX is flat.
A 4.8% drop in a month isn't promising, but it's also not too concerning. If you were intending to target a platform with 0.8% marketshare, then you can benefit from the long shelf life that Linux provides. It's not like a publisher is counting on that platform to reach two-week launch window sales figures. We'll see if the pendulum will swing back in the future, especially if Valve creates compelling, new, first-party content for Linux. They seem to be waiting to put their full weight behind it.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 2, 2016 - 01:25 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, geforce, geforce experience
GeForce Experience will be getting an updated UI soon, and a beta release is available now. It has basically been fully redesigned, although the NVIDIA Control Panel is the same as it has been. That said, even though it is newer, GeForce Experience could benefit from a good overhaul, especially in terms of start-up delay. NVIDIA says it uses 2X less memory and loads 3X faster. It still has a slightly loading bar, but less than a second.
Interestingly, I noticed that, even though I skipped over Sharing Settings on first launch, Instant Replay was set to On by default. This could have been carried over from my previous instance of GeForce Experience, although I'm pretty sure I left it off. Privacy-conscious folks might want to verify that ShadowPlay isn't running, just in case.
One downside for some of our users is that you now require an NVIDIA account (or connect your Google Account to NVIDIA) to access it. Previously, you could use features, like ShadowPlay, while logged out, but that doesn't appear to be the case anymore. This will no-doubt upset some of our audience, but it's not entirely unexpected, given NVIDIA's previous statements about requiring an NVIDIA account for Beta drivers. The rest of GeForce Experience isn't too surprising considering that.
We'll now end where we began: installation. For testing (and hopefully providing feedback) during the beta, NVIDIA will be giving away GTX 1080s on a weekly basis. To enter, you apparently just need to install the Beta and log in with your NVIDIA (or Google) account.
Subject: General Tech | July 1, 2016 - 07:12 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: web browser, gecko, servo, Rust, mozilla, Samsung
No love for Windows at the moment, but Mozilla is showing previews of their new browser rendering engine, Servo. This one is developed in Rust, which is a highly parallel yet very memory safe language, which are two great features for a web browser, especially on mobile and multi-core desktops. You are currently able to pick it up on Mac and Linux, although it is not ready to be your primary browser yet. Windows and Android builds “should be available soon”.
Basically, Mozilla has been spending the last few years re-thinking how to design a web browser. Most Web standards are based on assumptions that the browser is going through a main loop, and that these items will occur in sequence. Back in 2013, most of the research was to see far a browser could travel into parallelization before compatibility just stops following. Samsung, who is obviously interested in smartphone technology, partnered with them, because it's easier to add more cores onto a mobile SoC than it is to make existing ones faster.
At the time, they weren't sure whether this research would be used to improve Gecko, the current rendering engine that has been around since Netscape 6, or create a suitable replacement for it. As far as I know, that decision has still not been made, but they also haven't bailed on it yet.
Perhaps we'll see a new wave of Web technology coming soon? Maybe even break up the Webkit monopoly that seems to be forming, led by iOS and Android devices?
Subject: General Tech | July 1, 2016 - 06:56 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming
Awesome Games Done Quick is an organization that runs week-long, non-stop speedrun marathons for charity. This one benefits Doctors Without Borders, like the last three summer events. The last five Games Done Quick have raised a little under six million dollars, so this is a serious charity event.
The event starts this Sunday at 12:30pm EDT with a half-hour pre-show followed by an Any % run of Super Mario Sunshine for about an hour and a third, and that is followed by Zelda: A Link Between Worlds for about an hour and a half. Lots of PC games are included on their schedule too, including classics like Final Doom, Hexen, System Shock, and Serious Sam. It is scheduled to go, around the clock, until Saturday at just before midnight, plus or minus a few hours.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 30, 2016 - 07:54 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, nvidia, FinFET, Polaris, polaris 10, pascal
If you're trying to purchase a Pascal or Polaris-based GPU, then you are probably well aware that patience is a required virtue. The problem is that, as a hardware website, we don't really know whether the issue is high demand or low supply. Both are manufactured on a new process node, which could mean that yield is a problem. On the other hand, it's been about four years since the last fabrication node, which means that chips got much smaller for the same performance.
Over time, manufacturing processes will mature, and yield will increase. But what about right now? AMD made a very small chip that produces ~GTX 970-level performance. NVIDIA is sticking with their typical, 3XXmm2 chip, which ended up producing higher than Titan X levels of performance.
It turns out that, according to online retailer, Overclockers UK, via Fudzilla, both the RX480 and GTX 1080 have sold over a thousand units at that location alone. That's quite a bit, especially when you consider that it only considers one (large) online retailer from Europe. It's difficult to say how much stock other stores (and regions) received compared to them, but it's still a thousand units in a day.
It's sounding like, for both vendors, pent-up demand might be the dominant factor.
Subject: General Tech | June 30, 2016 - 04:53 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: 802.11ac Wave 2
Router firmware upgrades should be arriving soon to upgrade you to 802.11ac Wave 2. You may get support for MU-MIMO after upgrading and the new version could well double your bandwidth. It should also have less interference as it will make more use of the 5GHz channel and it will also include a new 160MHz channel. Keep an eye on your router manufacturers website and pop by The Inquirer for more information on the new standard.
"YOUR WIFI could be about to get a whole bunch faster as a new improved version of the current 802.11ac standard is coming to a router near you."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Distribution Release: Linux Mint 18 @ Linux.com
- The problem with Canada? The price of broadband is too damn high @ The Register
- Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 CPU now supports Google's Tango AR platform @ The Inquirer
- Trans-Pacific FASTER fibre fires first photons, finally @ The Register
- Google OnHub Router of the Future @ Hardware Secrets
Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 30, 2016 - 03:14 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: das keyboard, mechanical keyboard, Omron, RGB LED
Das Keyboard has just launched a crowd-funding campaign for their new Das Keyboard 5Q. The company is known to make high-end keyboards with a focus on productivity, even to the point of marketing some models with blank keycaps to force users to learn QWERTY. This model is an “extra bright” RGB LED keyboard that uses these lights to deliver data to the user's peripheral vision (because you're not looking at your keyboard while you type, right?)
Over the last year or so, RGB LED peripherals have become more commonplace. A new RGB LED keyboard from a gaming company will come in at around the $120 - $170 USD price range. Das is known to be on the higher end of the pricing curve, though. The Das Keyboard 5Q is expected to retail for $229 (although backers perks starting at $109 contain the keyboard -- and Das Keyboard is an established company, so it seems likely that these rewards will be fulfilled).
What you're getting for this cost is a high-quality, mechanical keyboard (with Omron switches) that has an open API. Their examples range from slowly alerting you of notifications, which can be expanded with a press of the volume button, to displaying your CPU load. Their pitch is that you cannot dismiss your keyboard and it's always on your desk, so, using color, it can continually notify you how much free time you have until something needs your attention. You'll need to decide for yourself if that seems reasonable and will help you be productive, or if it will just add to your anxiety, preventing you from zoning out into a good chunk of work.
As always, Kickstarters are backing products, not purchasing them, but Das Keyboard expects backers to receive their keyboards by January 2017.
Subject: General Tech | June 30, 2016 - 10:35 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, summer sale, steam, RX 490, rx 480, radeon, Polaris, podcast, matebook, Huawei, gtx 1060, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #406 - 06/30/2016
Join us this week as we discuss our AMD RX 480 review, the new Huawei MateBook, GTX 1060 and RX 490 leaks and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Lenovo!
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Josh Walrath
Subject: General Tech | June 30, 2016 - 02:02 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, Nintendo
Okay, so I'm a week late on this, but what the heck. Dolphin 5.0 was released on their website. The project is a Wii and GameCube emulator that is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. This version focuses on compatibility. They claim that about 85% of titles, including WiiWare and virtual-console games, can be played from start to finish, with about 14% of all titles doing so flawlessly.
That said, it also adds several performance features. They improved the JIT compiler, added texture pooling to prevent reloading the same texture over and over, and even added DirectX 12 support, although they don't elaborate on why that would be useful for this workload. While they have not extended support to Vulkan, they do use the “Approaching Zero Driver Overhead (AZDO)” features of OpenGL and its extensions to raise performance on other platforms.
The emulator is available at their website.
Subject: General Tech | June 30, 2016 - 12:39 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10
Going by what we've seen, the general public should expect a new build of Windows 10 about once or twice a year. The OS launched on July 29th of last year, and it received its first update on November 12th. The next one is called Windows 10 Anniversary Edition, which launches on...
July August 2nd. Thankfully, it's not a wedding anniversary, otherwise Microsoft would be sleeping outside for a couple of nights.
The cake is a... oh never mind.
I'm kidding about the date of course. Honestly, with the state that Windows 10 has been in lately, I'm glad that Microsoft decided to take the extra handful of days for a little extra quality control, rather than push the update a few days early. At the same time, though, it is interesting that Microsoft's Get Windows 10 initiative wants people to update to build 10586, and then update again to whatever build number this ends up being. You would think that they would extend the free offer until at least a few days after they release their latest, and presumably best in their eyes, version. Yes, it does feel odd to point out an area where Microsoft should be more aggressive with their free update promotion.
In terms of what's different, the Anniversary Update makes a handful of nice changes across a wide variety of areas. The desktop clock will now be available on any taskbar. Microsoft Edge, which receives its updates with new Windows builds, will receive extension support and a bunch of new Web APIs. They also updated the Japanese IME, which is used to input Japanese characters without a dedicated Japanese keyboard. I'm also interested in the new dark theme.
Windows 10 Anniversary will arrive on August 2nd.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 29, 2016 - 05:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: rx 480, radeon, Polaris, amd, 8gb
Having already read through Ryan's review of the RX 480 while listening to Raja on the live stream you might be curious what others thought of the card. Perhaps there was one of your preferred configurations or games we did not cover or maybe you just love to read. Do not worry as there are plenty of reviews to test out. You could start over at [H]ard|OCP, who test power usage and performance with a different technique, before moving on to other hardware sites.
"AMD's next generation GCN GPU is here! We review the AMD Radeon RX 480 and find out what kind of gaming experience it provides at 1080p and 1440p. We compare apples-to-apples with four other video cards to find out how it compares at both resolutions. We even find out how high it will overclock! Waited for benchmarks, right?"
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- AMD's Radeon RX 480 @ Tech Report
- Radeon R9 RX 480 8GB @ Guru of 3D
- AMD’s Polaris Has Landed: A Look At The $200 Radeon RX 480 @ Techgage
- AMD RX 480 review: The best budget graphics card—but for how long? @ Ars Technica
- AMD Radeon RX 480 @ TechARP
- AMD Radeon RX 480 @ Hardwareheaven
- AMD Radeon RX 480 8 GB @ techPowerUp
- AMD Radeon RX 480 CrossFire @ techPowerUp
- The Radeon RX480 8GB Performance Review @ Hardware Canucks
- AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB – Polaris Finally Arrives! @ Custom PC Review
- AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB @ Kitguru
- AMD Radeon RX 480 On Linux @ Phoronix
Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2016 - 02:54 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: radeon, amd, Crimson Edition 16.6.2
The labelling might be a bit confusing but this new driver is for all AMD cards from the Radeon HD 7700 series and higher, including the brand new RX 480. It adds the Radeon WattMan overclocking tool, a Crossfire Toggle for easily switching between multiple GPU and single GPU mode as well as numerous other new features which arrive with the card. The Release Notes do not detail too many game fixes, this release is more about adding new features to the software suite.
Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2016 - 02:40 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, system shock, Kickstarter
The System Shock reboot kicks off today in the usual place for such things and a pre-alpha demo has appeared on Steam, GOG and the Humble Store. Chris Avellone will be a part of the project, along with several members of the Fallout New Vegas team and as mentioned, Terri Brosius will be reprising her role as SHODAN. The $900K goal is halfway finished already but it will take $1.7M before the real game can be realized with ammo types, RPG elements and other fun things such as dismemberment. You can take a peek at the gameplay over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN before you grab the free demo, if you so desire.
"A modern take on System Shock, a faithful reboot; it’s not Citadel Station as it was, but as you remember it. Many improvements, overhauls and changes are being implemented to capture the spirit of what the original game was trying to convey, and bring it to contemporary gamers."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Colour & Chaos: Exploring The Art And Mechanics Of Warhammer 40,000 Dawn Of War III @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Xbox Fitness users will soon lose access to workout videos they bought @ Ars Technica
- Enderal, A Skyrim Total Conversion Mod, Due Next Month @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Battlefield 4 gets a new user interface @ HEXUS
- 8 Years On, New Sins Of A Solar Empire DLC @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Hands On: Shadow Warrior 2 Is Like First-Person Diablo @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2016 - 01:36 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: hospital, security, winxp, Malware
For the past few years we have heard about some rather horrific security vulnerabilities in hospitals and sadly this has not changed at all. Indeed many hospitals are still on older, unsupported OSes such as WinXP that most security software no longer protects against the malware which was used. In one case a hospital using centralised intrusion detection software, updated endpoint protection, and new model firewall was still compromised using very old malware. In most of the cases described by The Register it was personal data and medical records which were compromised but that doesn't mean the medical appliances and physical security systems are not also vulnerable to attack.
"Attackers have popped three prominent US hospitals, using deliberately ancient malware so old that it slips under the radar of modern security controls to compromise Windows XP boxes and gain network beacheads."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Never-never chip tech Memristor shuffles closer to death row @ The Register
- Google Found Disastrous Symantec and Norton Vulnerabilities That Are 'As Bad As It Gets' @ Slashdot
- A month to go and Microsoft finally offers a 'no thanks' option for Windows 10 @ The Inquirer
- 5 SSH Hardening Tips @ Linux.com
- Corsair Lapdog - Gaming without a Desk @ [H]ard|OCP
- Play Store malware roots phones, installs an app every two minutes @ The Register
- Reverse Engineering Quadcopter Protocols @ Hack a Day
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | June 29, 2016 - 12:03 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, rx 480, raja koduri, radeon, Polaris, live, giveaway, amd
When it comes to GPU releases, we at PC Perspective take things up a level in the kind of content we produce as well as the amount of information we provide to the community. Part of that commitment is our drive to bring in the very best people from around the industry to talk directly to the consumers, providing interesting and honest views on where their technology is going.
With the pending release of the Radeon RX 480 based on AMD's latest Polaris architecture on Wednesday, June 29th, I am excited to announce that Raja Koduri, SVP and Chief Architect of the Radeon Technologies Group will be joining us in studio to talk about the RX 480 and AMD's plans moving forward.
The AMD Radeon RX 480 Graphics Card
There is much to discuss. AMD and the RTG have promised that the RX 480 will be a revolutionary product, improving on performance per watt and performance per dollar in a way that no other AMD architecture has done. And the drive to include dramatically more gamers in the rising world of VR gaming will be an impressive feat as well, if they can pull it off. Topics like architectural improvements, asynchronous compute, multi-GPU and more are on the docket. You definitely won't want to miss it.
Radeon RX 480 Live Stream with Raja Koduri and Ryan Shrout
10:30am PT / 1:30pm ET - June 29th
Need a reminder? Join our live stream notification list!
The event will take place Wednesday, June 29th at 1:30pm ET / 10:30am PT at http://www.pcper.com/live. There you’ll be able to catch the live video stream as well as use our chat room to interact with the audience, asking questions for me and Raja to answer live.
Raja is one of the more open and honest people in this highly competitive landscape and every time we have had the ability to do an interview he has provided insightful, and sometimes very new, information.
As a price for hosting AMD in the offices, we demanded a sacrifice: in the form of hardware to giveaway to our viewers! We'll have at least two Radeon RX 480s to giveaway during the live stream but I am pushing to get a bump in that count; we'll see if I am persuasive enough. All you have to do to win on the 29th is watch the live stream!
Some Radeon RX 480s will be up for grabs!!
If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below and we'll look through them just before the start of the live stream. Of course you'll be able to tweet us questions @pcper and we'll be keeping an eye on the IRC chat as well for more inquiries. What do you want to know and hear from Raja or me?
So join us! Set your calendar for this coming Wednesday at 1:30pm ET / 10:30am PT and be here at PC Perspective to catch it. If you are a forgetful type of person, sign up for the PC Perspective Live notification list that we use exclusively to notify users of upcoming live streaming events including these types of specials and our regular live podcast. I promise, no spam will be had!
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | June 29, 2016 - 07:27 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: RX 490, radeon, processors, Polaris, graphics card, Bristol Ridge, APU, amd, A12-9800
AMD's current "We're in the Game" promotion offers a glimpse at upcoming product names, including the Radeon RX 490 graphics card, and the new Bristol Ridge APUs.
Visit AMD's gaming promo page and click the link to "check eligibility" to see the following list of products, which includes the new product names:
It seems safe to assume that the new products listed - including the Radeon RX 490 - are close to release, though details on the high-end Polaris GPU are not mentioned. We do have details on the upcoming Bristol Ridge products, with this in-depth preview from Josh published back in April. The A12-9800 and A12-9800E are said to be the flagship products in this new 7th-gen lineup, so there will be new desktop parts with improved graphics soon.
Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2016 - 07:52 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft
Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet is reporting that the “Get Windows 10” window will be redesigned to make it easier to reject. The option will now have the button “Upgrade now” right beside two obvious link inputs, “Choose time” and “Decline free offer”. The close button will also dismiss the notification without accepting it.
Image Credit: ZDNet
Of course, this is what they should have done a year ago, and it probably doesn't matter by now. At this point, I'm not sure how many people who need this change are still fighting Get Windows 10. Most have probably been tricked into upgrading, or have already figured out the direct way to disable it. I tend to encourage companies when they do the right thing, but this just seems too late to even approach its intended effect.
Also, this change occurred a few days after Microsoft decided to not appeal a lawsuit, brought about a woman whose business, a travel agency, suffered downtime related to the OS update. Windows 10 apparently did not work well with her system, causing it to slow down and crash. She won $10,000 in damages. Personally, I know how much Windows 10 can mess up certain devices. While I run Windows 10 on my production machine, and prefer it over Windows 7, a family member's laptop would turn its display's backlight off when brightness is set to 100% (which was default when plugged in). To a general PC user, that would look like Windows 10 upped and killed the device. Worse, rolling back to Windows 8.1 wasn't a sign to stop trying to update -- it wanted to put Windows 10 right back on it!
So yeah, Microsoft is doing the right thing... after about a year.
Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2016 - 04:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: input, RapidFire, K70 RGB, corsair, Cherry MX Speed, cherry
We heard about the new Rapidfire switches from Cherry back in April and today we get a glimpse at how they perform. The Tech Report tested out this rather expensive keyboard and noticed an immediate difference from the Cherry switches they used previously. In fact the reviewer even had issues with accidental keypresses while typing when they first started using the Rapidfire; after some usage that was no longer and issue. That sensitivity translated into gaming well, they rather enjoyed the responsiveness in Overwatch and Battleborn. The board is $170 on Amazon though if you can live without the RGB lighting you can pick up the red model for a mere $130.
"Corsair's K70 RGB Rapidfire is the first keyboard on the market with Cherry's MX Speed switches, a new type of clicker that offers shorter travel and a higher actuation point than the wildly popular MX Red. We got these switches under our fingers to see whether they make a real difference in the heat of battle."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Bloody B188 Light Strike @ Benchmark Reviews
- Cherry MX-Board 3.0 @ Kitguru
- COUGAR ATTACK X3 @ techPowerUp
- Thermaltake Poseidon Z RGB @ Modders-Inc
- XSOUL XM8 Predator @ Modders-Inc