I'll bet you've never heard of this stacked phone

Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2015 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, marshall, flac

Marshall has managed to do something almost no other company has been able to recently, kept a brand new product completely secret.  They have just released a brand new Android smartphone with an internal soundcard which allows you to play lossless FLAC audio files, something not common amongst the smartphones on the market.  The branding is immediately obvious and there are some unique additions such as the use of brass on the two headphone jacks and a volume wheel as opposed to a rocker switch.  The hardware is not terribly impressive, a 720p 4.7" display powered by a Snapdragon 410 with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of local storage.  This phone is more about the audio, how high a resolution do you want for your equalizer anyways?  Check out more at The Register.

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"The iconic guitar amplifier outfit''s headphones division managed something that Apple hasn't: it's developed a smartphone without having it leaked to a fan-site. So the launch of the London smartphone managed to catch the world somewhat by surprise."

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Source: The Register

AMD's hopes for the second half of 2015

Subject: General Tech | July 20, 2015 - 01:16 PM |
Tagged: amd, lisa su

It has not been a pretty year for AMD with overall sales of $942m representing 34.6% drop from this time last year and even the graphics portion seeing a 54.2% drop which resulted in loss of $147 million.  In part this is because all PC component companies have been suffering recently; in part because of a lack of incentive to upgrade high end components and to a larger extent because the general public is not going to pick up a new machine just before the release of a new Windows version.  Lisa Su did have some good news, sales of FX processors and A-series APU have been increasing and the second half of the year is historically better for sales.  It was suggested to The Register that AMD is not currently planning on reducing their workforce even more at this time but the possibility of future cuts was not completely ruled out.

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"AMD has confirmed it is slipping back into cost-cutting mode after its annus horribilis, caused by tanking demand for consumer PCs in a quarter described by CEO Lisa Su as the “revenue trough” for 2015."

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Source: The Register

Huh. Someone Installed Windows 7 on an ASUS ZenFone 2.

Subject: General Tech | July 18, 2015 - 09:04 PM |
Tagged: zenfone2, zenfone, asus

So this is kind-of cool. The ASUS ZenFone 2 is based around an Intel Atom processor, which uses an x86 processor. Its performance is not comparable to a Haswell PC with discrete graphics, but the machine language will correctly guide voltages through the appropriate logic and end up in the proper memory locations. This means software that doesn't require high performance (or access to more advanced hardware) can run without translating the instruction set, which is harsh on performance.

Note that “more advanced hardware” could refer to something as simple as a floppy drive, which is not required to be classified as an x86 device but might be required for seemingly trivial software.

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In this case, someone decided to load Windows 7 on ASUS' smartphone. It technically runs in an emulator but, as stated before, it does not need to translate the underlying instruction set. Even though it's a cute project, I wonder if it's possible to boot some version of Windows on an Intel mobile platform. Of course, it's not enough curiosity to make me research the BIOS standards and make an actual informed statement.

Windows 10 Supported Until 2020, Extended Until 2025

Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2015 - 09:16 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

Microsoft announced the upgrade strategy of Windows 10 in their January consumer press conference. If the promotion is claimed within the first year, the new operating system would be a free upgrade to users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.x “for the supported lifetime of the device”. The internet combined “the first year” with “for the supported lifetime of the device” to speculate that Microsoft would charge a license or subscription from then on.

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The bandaids will keep coming until 2020 (features) or 2025 (security)

Now, less than two weeks before launch, Microsoft has released an official statement on the matter. Windows 10 will be supported until 2020 with extended support reaching out to 2025.

This does not mean that every device will be supported until then, though. In order to receive new updates, the user needs to install every update prior to that update, because they are cumulative. If a device is incompatible with an update, and the affected manufacturer is not willing to fix the problem, then Microsoft will not make a special support branch just for you.

But if an OEM has stopped supporting a device, yet Microsoft updates don't break anything, then you can still receive updates for Microsoft. Again, the clause is just for the case where Microsoft's updates are incompatible with your device -- it is not Microsoft's responsibility to keep giving you updates for the manufacturer's problems until the OS gets end-of-lifed.

This does lead to some concerns, though. Imagine that Microsoft pushes a build which disables developer sideloading and Win32 support, locking Windows 10 down to a Windows RT state. If you are even capable of blocking that update, Microsoft will likely not allow you to receive security patches. On the other hand, I don't exactly blame Microsoft for branching the operating system for each individual milestone. Doing something like killing support for Win32 would also be pretty brazen, although it looked like Windows 8.x was on that trajectory when it relegated the Desktop as an “app”... and one which all Win32 software required to survive.

So freedom advocates will have some things to think about, but those concerned about “free as in beer” can sleep a little easier. They will continue updating you for as long as the hardware supports it, until at least 2020 for features (at least 2025 for security). Beyond that time, it depends on whether Microsoft will charge for upgrades to whatever the next version is. Will it be a free milestone (think service pack)? Or will it be classified as Windows 11 with an upgrade or subscription fee? Who knows.

Source: ZDnet

A world without SIMs?

Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2015 - 03:36 PM |
Tagged: SIM, Samsung, apple, Vodafone, AT&T, orange, Deutsche Teleko

If you hate trying to read the numbers off of your SIM card and are sick of their continual shrinking then Apple and Samsung's plan to make the SIM card extinct may be good news.  If you have a phone with dual SIMs or remove the SIM when you travel to ensure no roaming charges will be applied to you then perhaps you are less than happy to hear these companies want to replace the physical SIM with a software one.  It will make changing providers and phones easier but making it a permanent part of the phone could have some drawbacks.  Those of you who have a new iPad Air and iPad Mini may already be familiar with the soft SIMs, if you want to read more you can catch up at The Register.

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"Smartphone goliaths Apple and Samsung are reportedly confabulating at a high level regarding plans for hardware which would replace SIM cards in mobile devices - this technology would be embedded in phones, tablets etc and would not be exchangeable to different devices."

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Source: The Register

Podcast #358 - AMD R9 Fury, Fury X Multi-GPU, Windows 10 and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2015 - 02:04 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, Fury, fury x, sli, crossfire, windows 10, 10240, corsair, RM850i, IBM, 7nm, kaby lake, Skylake, Intel, 14nm, 10nm

PC Perspective Podcast #358 - 07/16/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the AMD R9 Fury, Fury X Multi-GPU, Windows 10 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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  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

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

 

Win10 RTM must be official as HP plans to start selling devices with the new OS on the 29th

Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2015 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, hp

The Register has heard from HP and the rumours are indeed true; you will be able to pre-orderd devices from them with which will arrive with Windows 10 installed on July 29th, they will even cover shipping within the US for you.  Retail stores are unlikely to have them that early, more likely you will see them arriving the following week depending on when the store's scheduled shipping date is.  The mid-August into October date that was quoted is specifically for business customers and does not apply to the stores or the website.  The tight turn around gives you a look at how desperate computer retailers are, and Microsoft as well for that matter, to increase flagging sales.

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"HP got on the phone with The Register on Wednesday to shed light on how it plans to roll out PCs with Windows 10 preinstalled. The IT giant said you can expect at least some of its hardware to be available with the new OS on the day that it launches – July 29."

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Source: The Register

Total War offers you the Catbird seat, Warhammer style

Subject: General Tech | July 15, 2015 - 03:28 PM |
Tagged: warhammer fantasy, waauuugh, total war, gaming

It looks like Total War:Warhammer will be teasing us with animations of some of the units we will see in the new game, starting with the Demigryph a smaller and ride-able version of that worlds Griffons, which you do not want to annoy.  You can expect a number of trailers as the game gets closer to release; this Friday you can expect to see another video showing the Demigryph in game.  The Empire does certainly have some nice troops which will be fun to learn about but like Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN it is the greenskin troop movies I am looking forward to seeing.

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"There’s a more pressing matter though. Did Games Workshop tell Creative Assembly that the Warhammer Fantasy world would be dead before Total War: Warhammer was released? It seems unlikely that the game has been planned as a eulogy of sorts but that would be a beautiful thing."

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Don't go burning your motherboards but do be aware of this UEFI rootkit

Subject: General Tech | July 15, 2015 - 12:43 PM |
Tagged: uefi, security

Yet another revelation has come from the Hacking Team leak, a UEFI based rootkit which can infect computers and will survive AV scans and even a drive replacement.  The rootkit is designed specifically for the BIOS designed by Insyde which are found primarily in laptops; Dell and HP for example.  TrendMicro suggested to The Register that this rootkit could also infect AMIBIOS designed UEFI, the type you are familiar with from desktop motherboards but that has not been confirmed.  As well Trend Micro intimates that the rootkit could be installed remotely but so far the evidence suggests physical access is required ... as flashing a BIOS tends to do.  Using UEFI SecureFlash, or even flashing to the newest version will also remove the kit, although depending on the solution your motherboard uses you may see error messages about updating an unexpected or corrupt previous version.  Keep safe out there and maybe keep the Flash to your BIOS for now.

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"Hacking Team RCS spyware came pre-loaded with an UEFI (‬Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) ‪BIOS rootkit to hide itself on infected systems, it has emerged following the recent hacking of the controversial surveillance firm.‬"

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Source: The Register

teSports Shock 3D 7.1, virtual surround to hear them sneaking up on you

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2015 - 07:37 PM |
Tagged: thermaltake esports, Shock 3D 7.1, audio

teSports Shock 3D 7.1 has two 40mm drivers with a 20Hz-20KHz range that can emulate 7.1 sound for positional audio when you are gaming.  In addition to gaming, eTeknix listened to a variety of audio sources and found the headset to be useful for listening to music and movies. The earcups will take some breaking in but once your ears have shaped them apparently these are very comfortable to wear.  If you don't mind virtual surround sound and are looking for  a gaming headset that is under $100 then take a peek at the review.

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"TteSports products have been a popular choice with gamers around the world for many years now, the companies unrelenting focus and dedication to the gaming scene has seen them produce some of the best performing and some of the most competitively priced peripherals on the market today and hopefully, we’ll be seeing a repeat of that again today."

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Source: eTeknix