Subject: General Tech | September 25, 2015 - 02:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Lenovo, fud
Lenovo Customer Feedback Program 64 is nowhere near the level of SuperFish when it comes creepy behaviour but it certainly shows a lack of insight from the popular company. With SuperFish so recently in the headlines and peoples memory it would perhaps have been beneficial for Lenovo to abandon any and all data collection from their users but it would seem that is not the case. Thankfully this particular one appears in your Programs and can be removed via the Control Panel but you can bet that it will immediately create negative feedback for the company. The Inquirer covers the details here, apparently it was collecting data about Win10 compatibility and user feedback but no matter if it is innocuous or not, there will be fallout.
"SOFTWARE INCLUDED ON LENOVO hardware has been found to be suspicious-looking, and this is not the first time that the company has been caught out like this."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- BlackBerry to name next smartphone after a toilet @ The Inquirer
- Asustek takes 40% share in global gaming notebook shipments in 1H15 @ DigiTimes
- Official: North America COMPLETELY OUT of new IPv4 addresses @ The Register
- Microsoft puts a bullet in blundering D-Link's leaked key that made malware VIPs on PCs @ The Register
- Smartphone passcodes protected by the Fifth Amendment – US court @ The Register
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 25, 2015 - 12:32 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows phone, windows 10 mobile, Surface Pro, Skylake, microsoft band, microsoft, lumia, Intel
Earlier this month, Microsoft sent out invites to members of the press for an event to be held on October 6th at the Skylight at the Moynihan Station in New York City. Naturally, Microsoft was short on details on what exactly will be covered. The rumor mill on the Internet (surely the most reliable of sources!) is set on the idea that the event will be used to launch a slew of new hardware products and refresh its mobile and wearable product stacks.
The rumored products include at least two new Windows Phone 10 Lumia smartphones, a refreshed Microsoft Band 2, and new Surface Pro 4 tablet.
On the smartphone front, the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL both have fairly generous specifications for Windows Phone devices (running Windows 10 Mobile). The 950 sports a 5.2-inch 2560 x 1440 display, a six core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 SoC, 3GB of internal memory, 32GB of internal storage, and a 3,000 mAh battery pack.
Moving up to the 950XL allegedly gets you a larger 5.7-inch display (though it is still at the same 1440p resolution) and a faster Snapdragon 810 SoC (four Cortex A57 at up to 2GHz and four lower power A53 cores along with the Adreno 430 GPU). Oddly, the battery pack is rumored to be only slightly larger than the Lumia 950 at 3,300 mAh which may result in lower battery life thanks to the larger display and faster processor.
Both phones will also feature a 20 megapixel rear camera, a 5 megapixel front camera, an iris scanner for Windows Hello, Qi wireless charging support, and a USB Type-C port for data and charging purposes.
Further, Microsoft is reported to be launching the Microsoft Band 2, a new (and sleek looking) wearable. The band, powered by an ARM Cortex M4 SoC and two 100 mAh batteries will sport a curved display and improved ergonomic design that can be used to see notifications, track your fitness, and interact with your smartphone using the built in microphone. The Band 2 is said to be compatbile with Windows Phone, iOS, and Android operating systems and connects via Bluetooth 4.0.
Lastly, rumors are pointing towards a new Surface Pro tablet being launched at the event though there has yet to be a consensus on the (alleged) specifications. Some rumors point towards Skylake while others point at Core M (Broadwell) being the processor of choice. Personally, I am leaning towards Microsoft using one of the new mobile Skylake chips for this possible Surface Pro 4 tablet PC. Broadwell with Iris Pro graphics would be nice to see, however...
In any event, I suppose that we will just have to wait and see what comes of this event in two weeks time. I do not have much to say on the smartphone or Surface Pro fronts (except that the tablet will be expensive no matter what the hardware ends up being, heh), but I’m liking the new Microsoft Band -- if they could somehow hit a lower price point I’m sold!
What are your thoughts on the rumors--what new hardware are you expecting to be announced next month?
Subject: General Tech | September 24, 2015 - 03:22 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, Jim Keller, Zen, Samsung, 950 PRO, NVMe, M.2, vnand, Thrustmaster, tx f458, Lenovo, Thinkpad, x1 carbon, x250, t450s, helix
PC Perspective Podcast #368 - 09/24/2015
Join us this week as we discuss full GTX 980s in notebooks, Samsung's NVMe 950 Pro, Jim Keller leaving AMD and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Morry Teitelman
Program length: 1:24:13
Week in Review:
0:46:10 This episode of PC Perspective is brought to you by…Zumper, the quick and easy way to find your next apartment or home rental. To get started and to find your new home go to http://zumper.com/PCP
News item of interest:
0:49:05 Jim Keller Leaves AMD
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Jeremy: Origin unbuggered C&C 2
Subject: General Tech | September 24, 2015 - 12:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amazon, AWS, dynamoDB
It has not been a good week for internet users, with Skype suffering major outages and AWS based services such as Tinder and Netflix going down Sunday and experiencing issues again today. The Register takes you through what caused the outage in this quick article about Amazon Web Services and DynamoDB.
As with other Cloud providers, the database is spread out over the globe, with DynamoDB tables split into partitions which are not necessarily close geographically. The location of tables to which the partitions are members of are stored in metadata servers which can connect the scattered tables into seamless interface for the end user ... when all is well. In this case the metadata servers were responding to slowly for the tables to function which resulted in those tables querying updated memberships on the metadata servers which caused enough traffic to bring down AWS.
"Picture a steakhouse in which the cooks are taking so long to prepare the food, the side dishes have gone cold by the time the waiters and waitresses take the plates from the chef to the hungry diners. The orders have to be started again from scratch, the whole operation is overwhelmed, the chef walks out, and ultimately customers aren't getting fed."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- GreenDispenser malware threatens to take all your dosh from Linux ATMs @ The Inquirer
- iOS 9 security blooper lets you BYPASS PINs, eye up photos, contacts @ The Register
- Nintendo joins Khronos vid API standards body @ The Register
Taking Racing Games a Step Further
I remember very distinctly the first racing game I had ever played and where. It was in the basement of a hotel in Billings, MT where I first put a couple of quarters through the ATARI Night Driver arcade machine. It was a very basic simulator with white dots coming at you as if they were reflectors on poles. The game had a wheel and four gears available through a shifter. It had an accelerator and no brake. It was the simplest racing game a person could play. I was pretty young, so it was not as fun to me because I did not do well actually playing it. Like most kids that age, fun is in the anticipation of playing and putting the quarter in rather than learning the intricacies of a game.
Throughout the years there were distinct improvements. I played Pole Position and Enduro on the ATARI 2600, I had my first PC racer with Test Drive (the Ferrari Testarossa was my favorite vehicle) using only the keyboard. I took a break for a few years and did not get back into racing games until I attended the 3dfx T-buffer demo when I saw the latest NFS 4 (High Stakes) played at 1024x768 with AA enabled. Sure, it looked like the cars were covered in baby oil, but that was not a bad thing at the time.
One of the real breakthrough titles for me was NFS: Porsche Unleashed. EA worked with Porsche to create a game that was much closer to a simulation than the previous arcade racers. It was not perfect, but it was one of the first titles to support Force Feedback in racing. I purchased a Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback 2 joystick. The addition of FFB was a tremendous improvement in the game as I could feel the tires start to slip and experience the increased resistance to turns. This was my first real attempt at a racing game and actually completing it. I still have fond memories and it would be great to get a remastered version with better graphics and physics, while still retaining the simulation roots.
After PU I again stopped playing racers. The release of Project Gotham racing for the XBox rekindled that a bit, but I soon tired of the feel of the controller and the rumble rather than real FFB effects. Fast forward to Quakecon 2009 when I saw the first gameplay videos of the upcoming DiRT 2. This title was one of the first to adopt DX11 that would push the HD 5800 and GTX 480 video cards for all they were worth. This re-ignited my desire to race. I purchased DiRT 2 as soon as it was available for the PC and played with the aging (but still solid) Sidewinder FFB P2.
The box was a little beat up when it got to me, but everything was intact.
Something was missing though. I really wanted more out of my racing game. The last time I had used a wheel on a racing game was probably an Outrun arcade machine in the late 80s. I did some shopping around and decided on the Thrustmaster F430 Ferrari FFB wheel. It was on sale at the time for a low, low price of $76. It had a 270 degree rotation which is more apt for arcade racers than sims, but it was a solid wheel for not a whole lot of money. It was a fantastic buy for the time and helped turn me into a racing enthusiast.
During this time I purchased my kids a couple of low end wheels that use the bungee cord centering mechanism. These of course lack any FFB features, but the Genius one I acquired was supposed to have some basic feedback and rumble effects: it never worked as such. So, my experience to this point has been joysticks, bungee wheels, and a 270 degree F430 wheel. This does not make me an expert, but it does provide an interesting background for the jump to a higher level of product.
Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2015 - 01:31 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, Star Wars Battlefront
When EA stated there would not be a server browser for their upcoming game many were worried what that would mean for dedicated servers. Today Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN heard confirmation that there will still be dedicated servers and that there will be a “new skill based matchmaking system” for players looking for games. The news does give hope to those who were planning on setting up private servers or playing with specific users.
HEXUS also had good news to share, the Beta will be available to one and all, with Walker Assault and Pod Drop maps confirmed to be included, hopefully with some others. Sadly we do not yet have a date for when the Beta will be available.
"Star Wars: Battlefront will have dedicated servers. EA DICE’s Jamie Keen confirmed the feature to PlayStation LifeStyle at the Tokyo Game Show. It’s good news though a slight surprise, given that it was announced earlier this month that the game wouldn’t have a server browser."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Rocket League DLC: REVENGE OF THE BATTLECARS @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- System Shock Is Now Available On GOG @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Total War: Warhammer, Blood Bowl and other Games Workshop table-to-screen delights @ The Register
- Deux Ex: Mankind Divided will support DirectX 12 from launch @ HEXUS
- Video game voice actors propose strike to prove #PerformanceMatters @ Polygon
- Fallout 4 Continues To Explain Skills You Already Know @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Silent Hills Meets Gone Home: Allison Road Kickstarter @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2015 - 12:58 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft
Well this is a problem. (Update, Sept 24th @ 5:30pm ET: Microsoft fixed it.)
KB3087040 is an update from Microsoft that patches Adobe Flash Player in Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge (and other applications as we'll mention later). The add-on has been vulnerable to numerous security issues over the last several years, which is a big concern whenever an application accepts untrusted data, especially when it is developed in a language with explicit memory management. It can be as simple as forgetting the sign of an integer.
But that's not the problem -- we know Flash has holes all over that Adobe has been filling with calcified tears. No, the trouble is with Windows Update this time. On Windows 10, the update is failing to install with an error code. Workarounds exist to block the plug-in from loading, but on a program-by-program basis. Microsoft specifically mentioned Office 2007 and Office 2010 in their security advisory, which can invoke Flash through Internet Explorer even if your system's group policy to disable Flash in Internet Explorer. You really need to apply the update to be secure.
There is apparently a way to do it, too, but Microsoft has not recommended it. InfoWorld found the update's manual installer links, one for Windows 10 32-bit and the other for Windows 10 64-bit, and posted it in their article. Yes, they link to windowsupdate.com, which is an official Microsoft website.
So what should you do? I don't know. It's impossible for me to verify that InfoWorld got the correct version of the patch, because Microsoft has issued KB3087040 several times and mistakes are easy to make. It's also impossible for me to know if manually installing the patch will confuse Windows Update in the future. Both potential problems seem unlikely, though.
If you don't manually install the update before Microsoft fixes their bug, then you probably shouldn't use Internet Explorer, Edge, Office, or maybe even Windows Store apps that use Trident or Edge rendering engines.
Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2015 - 12:28 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: windows 10, pc sales, microsoft
It may seem obvious to most that giving away a free upgrade is not going to positively effect sales but apparently not so to market analysts who seem to have assumed the release of Windows 10 would boost PC sales. Most machines capable of running Windows 7 or a variety of Windows 8 can run Windows 10 without issues, with most problems arising from driver issues which can be worked around, so there was no huge rush to purchase a brand new laptop or desktop. This quarter a fall of 7.3% in sales compared to this time last year is expected, decent in comparison to last quarters fall of 9.8% but still far from good. The only increase in sales occurred in the smartphone segment, even tablet sales are down over 10%. There is good news on the horizon for new hardware does drive sales and Intel has recently released Skylake and products using the new chip have yet to reach the channel in large numbers. As the manufacturers produce more products using the new processor we should see somewhat of an increase in sales of systems though this story at The Inquirer suggests it may be 2017 before we see an increase ... perhaps some relatively good news for AMD?
"So says analyst outfit Gartner, which seems to think Microsoft's latest Windows release hasn't done much to reverse faltering PC sales, despite the software giant having gone out of its way to ensure users download it."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Only paying for Microsoft software that you use? It's coming @ The Register
- Misusing Ethernet To Kill Computer Infrastructure Dead @ Slashdot
- iOS 9 security flaw lets anyone access your photos and contacts @ The Inquirer
- New ARM CPU design center opens in Taiwan @ DigiTimes
- India's daft draft anti-encryption law torn up after world+dog points out its stupidity @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2015 - 07:31 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: street fighter v, pc gaming, consolitis, capcom
For the longest time, game developers have been complaining about 32-bit limits for memory usage but were timid to cut off support for 32-bit OSes. It is one thing to tell users to drop a few extra sticks into their PC, as a handful of gigabytes have been pretty cheap for a while, but this barrier also required an OS upgrade, and many gamers were clinging to XP or fearful of driver problems. The problem has mostly been resolved for PC gamers now, and current consoles have crossed the threshold themselves with 8GB of memory (for Microsoft and Sony).
This brings us to Street Fighter V. I am not quite sure that a game like this inherently requires so much memory given the relatively few unique objects that fighting games tend to display. It apparently will be though, according to Capcom. Their official specifications claim that the game will not even launch without 6GB of memory installed, and 8GB is appreciated if it is available.
Otherwise, the game requires a dual-core (four thread) Haswell i3 at 3.6 GHz and an NVIDIA GTX 480 or higher. This is relatively high, slightly higher than Battlefield 3 in fact, but not too bad for today's situation. For the record, Capcom recommends a Devil's Canyon i5 with a GTX 960, but they naturally don't say what that corresponds to. They also don't provide AMD or Intel GPU equivalents, but I don't think even Iris Pro is equivalent so that probably just leaves Radeon users doing trial and error. Thankfully, Steam offers refunds just for that kind of thing.
They also want to say that Street Fighter V supports Steamworks. Expected, but nice.
Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2015 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, steam, pc gaming, movies
Valve has been dipping their toes into distributing non-games on Steam for quite a while. Gabe Newell at LinuxCon 2013 said that they are dissatisfied with families needing to manage multiple content silos, and they would like everything to be accessible everywhere. This can be interpreted as a “situation: there are now 15 competing standards” environment, but it seems to be more in the context of “I have all my content on my PC, why can't I bring it into my own living room?”
We later saw this manifest as Steam In-Home Streaming for PC games. For videos, according to the Streaming Video on Steam FAQ, “In-home streaming is not currently supported”. Still, this seems like it will be their method of getting this content out to arbitrary displays in the future. Also, I have to wonder how Valve's historical practice of distributing purchases made from other stores will play into this whole situation.
For now, Valve has been adding more and more content to their service. It started with a few documentaries and low-budget films, including a video from the publisher of the game Hotline Miami. Now we are seeing the Mad Max franchise including the summer film, Mad Max: Fury Road available on the service. Steam doesn't need to have every movie right now if it wants to survive. They don't have to justify their actions to a board. They do, and they experiment with how it works and why.