Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | November 17, 2012 - 04:09 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: layoffs, amd
Personally, I am starting to get numb to AMD restructuring news -- and that is never good.
Less than a month ago we reported on the semiconductor design company’s decision to cut 15% of their workforce. The company still has life in it and has a respectable presence in all upcoming videogame consoles along with its inclusion within many consumer laptops and desktops but it is clearly not as much life as they need.
Original rumors stated that cuts could be on the order of 10-30% which 15% would be on the lighter side of. With rumors of more cuts coming in January I wonder if this was a last minute decision to break up the layoffs into two less dramatic installments.
One of the beauties of the tech industry is the low cost of starting or turning a company around; it would be irresponsible to completely count out a player while it still has access to millions of capital. AMD is also sitting upon lots of assets which could be liquidated and their employees have ridiculous talent to be employable elsewhere. I have been noticing that most chatter about the topic is not based in concern with AMD and their employee’s future but with concern about an x86 competitor to Intel.
This is pretty much the same concern which I have been having about Windows 8: the house of cards may be standing but it is still a house of cards. We rely upon the proprietary standards which Intel and others impose upon the art, the word being used both in literal and “artisan / practical art” contexts which includes utensil applications.
Concern mounts but practically no-one grafts it to similar instabilities in other platforms.
No I am not saying abolish technology patents or anything like that: I am simply saying that this is yet another drop in the torrent of concerns with content upstream to proprietary platforms.
These issues rightfully cause alarm but are not isolated events.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile | November 12, 2012 - 10:02 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows rt, windows 8, microsoft
Our regular viewers know that I am not too fond of Microsoft’s recent vision; I will get that out of the way right at the start. I am a major proponent of open platforms for uncensored art with perpetual support and Windows 8 shows all the signs of Microsoft turning its back on that ideology.
And Steven Sinofsky, the one who allegedly came up with that vision, is no longer with Microsoft: effective immediately.
Not much in the line of reasoning is known about why Steven Sinofsky parted ways with his long-term career as head of Windows division. He had a clear and concise vision for his products and it was evident both in Windows 7 and in Windows RT.
Rumors exist that his fellow executives were not on pleasant terms with him. All Things D claims to have sources which suggest that his colleagues were unhappy with his conduct in terms of collaboration.
But that is all hearsay.
What it means for Microsoft is that the face that set sail is no longer at the helm. Microsoft could revert back to their twitchy attempts to appease everyone and abandon their vision. On the other hand it is entirely possible that the company could continue off on the last bearing set by Sinofsky.
No-one knows, but I stand behind my previous assertions that the PC industry will get messy in the next few years as things boil over at Microsoft.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | November 10, 2012 - 04:47 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: piracy, kinect
We do not like straying from our usual topics into the music, movie, and console gaming industries although I will make an exception for this. It has a computer hardware angle, I assure you.
So I came across an article this morning regarding a patent which Microsoft filed about a year and a half ago. This patent describes a process where a device can monitor the number of people viewing a copyrighted work and permit “remedial action” should that number increase beyond some arbitrary level. In other words, the technology would prevent or adjust the price of consuming content based on the number of people in your private residence.
Hey if you want to bring your significant other over -- that’ll cost you!
Hey did I tell you about this awesome DRM we're working on? Huge success.
It routinely frustrates me when people side with the content industry because they know that one-or-so unapologetic pirating acquaintance who they feel is ripping off the whole system. The problem is that all evidence which I have seen to suggest whether or not a pirate has actual damages actually shows sales increases or is wholly based on junior high school-level statistical errors.
The content industry does not demand for you to pay them for their content: they demand that you pay them for their content under specific conditions. There were no less than two services present at CES 2011 which allowed users to input a movie title to find out where it is legally available. If it was in Vudu, Hulu+, Netflix, in Theatres, which theatre, what show-times, as a DVD or BluRay on Amazon, on TV soon, and so forth.
Everyone I discussed those services with, thus far, were amazed with how useful that would be.
I then ask them: Why is it so hard to give them money that we need services to instruct people how to legally license content?
What if the person watching the content at a friend’s house ends up purchasing it? They are attempting to open up extra streams of revenue by controlling the system more aggressively. When the system gets too convoluted for users to abide by they blame that loss in revenue on piracy.
You could imagine this occurring for video games as well: what if a publisher decides that split-screen gaming is a premium service to be licensed on a per-controller basis? The content industry is attempting to focus their licensing arrangements as granularly as possible. This is bad for you, it is often bad for them, and it is terrible for society.
Do not assume that a copyright holder will act sensibly. It is not about cheap people. It is often not even about revenue despite whether they believe it is or not. Just look at Ubisoft’s DRM “success”. An exodus of 90% of your customers should never be called a success and yet they genuinely believed it was.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | November 9, 2012 - 03:40 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, tahiti, radeon, never settle, live, amd
UPDATE: Did you miss the live stream yesterday? Well don't fret - you can still watch the single player and multi-player action of Medal of Honor Warfighter in the video below. Sorry, all the prizes have been handed out though but check back in at pcper.com for two more upcoming game streams!!
This afternoon on our PC Perspective Live! page we will be streaming some single player and multi-player game action of latest title to use the Frostbite 2 engine, Medal of Honor Warfighter. You can stop in and watch us take on a bit of the campaign in the game and then view my likely repetitive demise in some multi-player matches as well.
Medal of Honor Warfighter Game Stream
12pm PT / 3pm ET - TODAY
The stream today will be sponsored by AMD and their Never Settle game bundles which we previously told you about here. Depending on the AMD Radeon HD 7000 series GPU that you buy this holiday season you could get as much as $170 in gaming content including:
- FREE Sleeping Dogs
- FREE Hitman: Absolution
- FREE Far Cry 3
- 20% off Medal of Honor Warfighter
AMD's Robert Hallock (@Thracks on twitter) will be joining us via Skype to talk about the game's technology, performance considerations as well as making fun of while I get sniped from the windows.
Of course, just to sweeten the deal a bit we have some prizes lined up for those of you that participate in our Medal of Honor Game Stream today as well.
- 3 x Complete Never Settle Bundles (Sleeping Dogs, Hitman, Far Cry 3, 20% Off MoH)
- 5 x Sleeping Dogs keys
- 5 x Hitman: Absolution keys
- 5 x Far Cry 3 keys
Pretty nice, huh? That's a LOT of games and all you have to do to win is be present on the PC Perspective Live! Page during the event as we will announce both the content/sweepstakes method AND the winner!
Stop in today for some PC gaming fun!!
Subject: Editorial | November 8, 2012 - 12:23 PM | PCPer Staff
15.9" HP ENVY dv6t-7200 15.6" Quad Edition Ivy Bridge Core i7 Laptop for $774.99 with free shipping @ HP(normally $900 - Use coupon code NB42781).
HP ENVY h8-1420t Core i7 "Ivy Bridge" Quad-core Desktop PC for $699.99 @ HP (normally $789.99).
WD My Passport 2TB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive for $161.99 with Free Shipping @ Dell (normally $180 - Use coupon code VJ7$295NPV28MN).
OCZ Agility 4 256GB SATA 6Gb/s 2.5" SSD for $130 plus shipping (normally $190 - Use this form).
Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Slim 500GB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive for $76 with shipping (normally $85 - Use coupon code VJ7$295NPV28MN).
82" Mitsubishi WD-82740 1080p 120Hz 3D DLP HDTV for $1,400 with free shipping (normally $2,500 - use coupon code: GET100).
Pinnacle Atlantis06 Indoor/Outdoor Speakers for $349.99 with Free Shipping (normally $200 - use coupon code: 0Q?7PSKK6JVB2S).
Canon PowerShot SX230 HS 12MP Digital Camera for $217 with free shipping (normally $280 - Use coupon code L1F77MQNT2?H21).
Subject: Editorial | November 7, 2012 - 07:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: stealth, space sim, games
There are two types of games that are near and dear to my heart which have been sadly lacking recently, stealth FPSes and space sims, which seems to be changing. Until very recently the best way to solve your stealth fetish was to take advantage of the compatibility patches for Thief 2 or to play Thief: The Dark Mod, neither new releases nor officially sanctioned. Deus Ex:HR had some stealth elements depending on how you wanted to play it but for the most part it was a straight out superpower shooter. The release of Dishonored was a good start, while it is another superpower shooter it is one with far more emphasis on stealth, both in the powers you can gain and utilize as well as the fighting mechanics which ensure your death if you attract too many enemies at the same time. Next to come is a game entitled Abduction, which is being built on CryEngine 3 and as you can see by the trailer it is very much focused on dark places to hide, proper shadows for you to keep track of guards with, silent take downs and a silenced pistol for those who run out of patience and need turn off a light or to drop someone quickly. Sound also plays a part, over and above the AI swarming gun shots, for instance the instruction to run and let the sound cause a distraction. Also worth checking out is Hitman, again a game which incorporates stealth as a major gameplay mechanic and not just an option in some missions.
Space Sim fans have long been bemoaning the early demise of the FreeSpace series, for as much fun as the incredible X series is, it is far more than a space shooter and that can turn many fans off. Babylon 5: I've Found Her is an amazing free game which has continued to receive updates and new missions, however it uses Newtonian physics which can be difficult to get used to and frustrating to some players. Also recently released was the Wing Commander Saga, more than just a remake of Wing Commander 3 while still incorporating many of the assets which made that game special then and still does today.
The creator of Wing Commander, Chris Roberts, also had an announcement for space sim fans who have long been awaiting his return to game design. He is currently working on a monstrous space game in two forms, a single player version called Squadron 42 and a online multiplayer version with a fully perpetual universe with an accompanying story arc reminiscent of the fall of Rome called Star Citizen. While both games will essentially be the same, the online version will obviously not evolve in the same way as the single player version since once you let player characters near your campaign you might as well toss your carefully planned story arc out the window as it will not survive contact with those stubborn, misguided fools (to put it politely).
If that is not enough to send a tingle down your spine then perhaps the possible return of another old friend will. If David Braben has his way, Elite will be making a comeback and as his Kickstarter already has over £300,000 in backing. Not only was this an incredible game to play, they were the first to develop procedural generation of a game world or universe in this case. How else could they fit 8 galaxies each with 256 planets onto a Cassette, Floppy disk or Cartridge and then run it on an 8-bit computer? Now imagine what those twistedly gifted minds can do with today's 64bit OSes and the GPU power available to them. Jameson never had it so good, even after upgrading his docking computer so as to no longer have to manually match rotation with space stations!
It is a damn fine time to be a PC gamer who likes a little variation in the types of games they play ... now I wonder if that X-Com squaddie is healed up enough to go on another mission yet?
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | October 26, 2012 - 02:46 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: windows 8, video, system build, live
Today at 3pm EDT we are going to be doing a live stream of a system build and Windows 8 installation on our PC Perspective Live! page. Won't you come and join us?
UPDATE: Did you miss the event? Well then, we have you covered with the replay of the two and a half hour stream right here!
Sorry, no, I won't be doing it blindfolded this time...
If you are looking to learn how to build a PC, how the Windows 8 setup goes along with initial Windows 8 experiences, or just want to hang out during a lazy Friday, click on the link above or on the flashing radio tower to the left and join us!!
Windows RT: Runtime? Or Get Up and Run Time?
Update #1, 10/26/2012: Apparently it does not take long to see the first tremors of certification woes. A Windows developer by the name of Jeffrey Harmon allegedly wrestled with Microsoft certification support 6 times over 2 months because his app did not meet minimum standards. He was not given clear and specific reasons why -- apparently little more than copy/paste of the regulations he failed to achieve. Kind-of what to expect from a closed platform... right? Imagine if some nonsensical terms become mandated or other problems crop up?
Also, Microsoft has just said they will allow PEGI 18 games which would have received an ESRB M rating. Of course their regulations can and will change further over time... the point is the difference between a store refusing to carry versus banishing from the whole platform even for limited sharing. The necessity of uproars, especially so early on and so frequently, should be red flags for censorship to come. Could be for artistically-intentioned nudity or sexual themes. Could even be not about sex, language, and violence at all.
Last month, I suggested that the transition to Windows RT bares the same hurdles as transitioning to Linux. Many obstacles blocking our path, like Adobe and PC gaming, are considering Linux; the rest have good reason to follow.
This month we receive Windows RT and Microsoft’s attempt to shackle us to it: Windows 8.
To be clear: Microsoft has large incentives to banish the legacy of Windows. The way Windows 8 is structured reduces it to a benign tumorous growth atop Windows RT. The applications we love and the openness we adore are contained to an app.
I will explain how you should hate this -- after I explain why and support it with evidence.
Microsoft is currently in the rare state of sharp and aggressive focus to a vision. Do not misrepresent this as greed: it is not. Microsoft must face countless jokes about security and stability. Microsoft designed Windows with strong slants towards convenience over security.
That ideology faded early into the life of Windows XP. How Windows operates is fundamentally different. Windows machines are quite secure, architecturally. Con-artists are getting desperate. Recent attacks are almost exclusively based on fear and deception of the user. Common examples are fake anti-virus software or fraudulent call center phone calls. We all win when attackers get innovative: survival of the fittest implies death of the weakest.
Subject: Editorial, Storage | October 24, 2012 - 08:26 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: hybrid, fusion drive, fusion, apple
Dubbed 'Fusion Drive', this tech enables the late 2012 Mac Mini and iMac models to have a pseudo-hybrid drive. There's been a lot of speculation today on just how this technology will work, but I've cut through the chaff to try and shed some proper light on just how this new thing works, and how it is so different than any other 'hybrid' solution out there.
First, it's not a hybrid drive. The iMac or Mac Mini comes with an SSD and a HDD. Two individual SATA devices. Both devices appear as individual drives, even in Disk Utility. Where the magic happens is that OSX can be configured (and is pre-configured in these new systems) to combine the two drives into one drive that presents itself to the user as a single logical volume. The important point is that the drives are 'fused' together, not merged or mirrored. The SSD and HDD each have their own partition, and OSX can reach beneath the Fusion layer and shift files back and forth between the two as it sees fit. Frequently used apps and files can be shifted back and forth between the SSD and HDD, as seen in the below pic:
The biggest differences are in that since it's not a mirrored hybrid solution, where the SSD space is not available, and a failure of the HDD causes loss of all data. Fusion Drive combines the two volumes and *adds* the space together, and the apps or files will sit on either device (but not both). All files written go to the SSD first and are later shifted to the HDD in the background. This is actually a very smart way to handle things. The entire OSX install always stays on the SSD, so there is no concern of OS files 'rolling off' of the SSD cache, causing intermittent slowdowns. More (perhaps most) importantly, if the HDD fails on a Fusion Drive setup, OSX should theoretically just keep on chugging, albeit without access to the files or apps that were stored on the HDD. On the flip side, if the SSD were to fail, the HDD could simply be mounted in Target Mode under another Mac, and all files stored to that drive could then be recovered. Sure you won't get everything back in these scenarios, but it provides *much* more flexibility for data recovery, and it's worth repeating the fact that an HDD failure in any other hybrid solution results in the loss of ALL data.
A couple of other quick gotchas: You can still dual boot with boot camp under a Fusion Drive setup, but the boot camp partition will only be at the end of the HDD, not on the SSD. Windows will not only run slower because it's on the spinning disk, it will run slower because the latter portions of a HDD typically see about half of the throughput as compared to the start of that disk. Also, you are only allowed *one* additional (non-Fusion) partition on the HDD, which can be used for another OSX install *or* for the Boot Camp Windows install. Users who prefer to boot greater than two operating systems on their newer Mac will have to do so with Fusion Drive disabled.
More to follow as more data comes in. For now I'm only working off of the other speculation and the Apple Support Page on the matter.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Mobile | October 22, 2012 - 06:22 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: asus, vivo tab rt, tegra 3, nvidia, video, live
If you happen to be free tomorrow afternoon and would like to be one of the first to see the upcoming ASUS Vivo Tab RT based on the Windows RT operating system and the NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC, you should set your calendar for 12pm PDT / 3pm EDT and join me on the PC Perspective Live! page.
While we won't have any insight on our long term experiences with the device at that time tomorrow, you can see our initial impressions and anything/everything that occurrs with our intial setup and usage!
If you have questions or thoughts on the device that you want addressed during the live stream, you can leave them here in our comments or hang around in our chat room during the event as well. We want this to be interactive so your input is requested!
Again, that is 12pm PDT / 3pm EDT at the PC Perspective Live! page.