Free phone apps are pretty free with your personal information

Subject: General Tech | February 21, 2014 - 03:18 PM |
Tagged: appstore, apps, andriod, iphone, obvious

Perhaps there are some people out there who are unaware that the free apps you download to your phone are broadcasting a lot of information about them back to the publishers but it seems that even the paid apps are playing freely with your personal info.  According to the report The Inquirer read, of 95% of the top 200 free apps for iOS and Android have at least one nasty habit and more worrying is that 80% of the top paid for apps also have at least one questionable practice.  There are differences in what information is shared, free apps are more likely to broadcast your location.  Read on to see what else your apps are sharing with the world.

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"Could the apps you have installed on your mobile phone be snooping on you? Based on the latest data from app security analytics firm Appthority, it's not merely possible; it's actually more than likely, particularly if you downloaded those apps for free."

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Source: The Register

The best possible way you could spend Saturday, Feb 22nd

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2014 - 07:35 PM |
Tagged: vlan, gaming, fun, fragging frogs

This weekend, specifically at 10AM ET on February 22nd the fifth Virtual LAN Party kicks off,  hosted by the famous Fragging Frogs and PC Perspective, with a good chance of some secret visitors from the Red Team.  There is no set end time for the event nor for any of the games so if you have any time on Saturday in which you do not find yourself saving innocents from a fate worse than death* then hop on and play with us.  You get to hang out with Forum members you have built friendships with, shoot those you hold a grudge against, and have the chance to frag Ryan, Josh and all the other PC Per staff brave enough to set foot into this battle royale. 

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*The only acceptable excuse to bail on us.

The games are many, both old and new; with a strong likelihood of every Battlefield game since 1942 represented along with spicy versions of Unreal 2004, Torchlight II, Hawken, a game involving heavy weapons versus dinosaurs and much more.  You can see the whole list here and can suggest others if we missed one of your favourites.  To prepare for the event you should install TeamSpeak 3 which is our chat client of choice; you can find the server info right here.  Other than that just show up when you can and hop into the game of your choice.

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We have been doing VLAN's on a very irregular schedule since 2010 but if this weekend goes well we might just start eating a bit more fibre and start a more regular schedule.  There were once even tournaments held, though that was back when UT2K4 was shiny and new, which we could start up again.  For even more fun, you could help the Frogs get back together on the regular schedule we used to hold to back in the golden days of yore.  Don't forget to consider a jump in The Pond once you are finished playing, keep that CPU and GPU working full out!

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This is also a great time to thank Lenny and AMD for the wonderful good deed that they did for one of our long term members.  You can read about their good works here and be sure to thank them for putting the effort into helping out one of our own.  

We look forward to seeing you there and shooting you several times.

NVIDIA Coin Mining Performance Increases with Maxwell and GTX 750 Ti

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 20, 2014 - 05:45 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, mining, maxwell, litecoin, gtx 750 ti, geforce, dogecoin, coin, bitcoin, altcoin

As we have talked about on several different occasions, Altcoin mining (anything that is NOT Bitcoin specifically) is a force on the current GPU market whether we like it or not. Traditionally, Miners have only bought AMD-based GPUs, due to the performance advantage when compared to their NVIDIA competition. However, with continued development of the cudaMiner application over the past few months, NVIDIA cards have been gaining performance in Scrypt mining.

The biggest performance change we've seen yet has come with a new version of cudaMiner released yesterday. This new version (2014-02-18) brings initial support for the Maxwell architecture, which was just released yesterday in the GTX 750 and 750 Ti. With support for Maxwell, mining starts to become a more compelling option with this new NVIDIA GPU.

With the new version of cudaMiner on the reference version of the GTX 750 Ti, we were able to achieve a hashrate of 263 KH/s, impressive when you compare it to the performance of the previous generation, Kepler-based GTX 650 Ti, which tops out at about 150KH/s or so.

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As you may know from our full GTX 750 Ti Review,  the GM107 overclocks very well. We were able to push our sample to the highest offset configurable of +135 MHz, with an additional 500 MHz added to the memory frequency, and 31 mV bump to the voltage offset. All of this combined to a ~1200 MHz clockspeed while mining, and an additional 40 KH/s or so of performance, bringing us to just under 300KH/s with the 750 Ti.

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As we compare the performance of the 750 Ti to AMD GPUs and previous generation NVIDIA GPUs, we start to see how impressive the performance of this card stacks up considering the $150 MSRP. For less than half the price of the GTX 770, and roughly the same price as a R7 260X, you can achieve the same performance.

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When we look at power consumption based on the TDP of each card, this comparison only becomes more impressive. At 60W, there is no card that comes close to the performance of the 750 Ti when mining. This means you will spend less to run a 750 Ti than a R7 260X or GTX 770 for roughly the same hash rate.

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Taking a look at the performance per dollar ratings of these graphics cards, we see the two top performers are the AMD R7 260X and our overclocked GTX 750 Ti.

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However, when looking at the performance per watt differences of the field, the GTX 750 Ti looks more impressive. While most miners may think they don't care about power draw, it can help your bottom line. By being able to buy a smaller, less efficient power supply the payoff date for the hardware is moved up.  This also bodes well for future Maxwell based graphics cards that we will likely see released later in 2014.  

Continue reading our look at Coin Mining performance with the GTX 750 Ti and Maxwell!!

Podcast #288 - NVIDIA GTX 750 Ti, Upgrading Crappy Desktops, 5TB Hard Drives and more!

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2014 - 02:17 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, toshiba, raptr, R9 290X, r9 290, pcper, OEM, maxwell, gtx 750 ti, desktop pc, 750 ti, 5TB

PC Perspective Podcast #288 - 02/20/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the release of the NVIDIA GTX 750 Ti, Upgrading Crappy Desktops, 5TB Hard Drives 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 and Allyn Malventano

 
Program length: 1:13:15
 
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Allyn: Got Descent? Great! Now run it in high res (D1X Rebirth).
  4. Closing/outro

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

 

VIA is not dead yet; maybe?

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2014 - 01:36 PM |
Tagged: VIA, rumours

VIA, that once famous company which has petered out in the North American market is back in the news.  According to DigiTimes they recently joined forces with a firm owned by the Chinese government and is now moving production over to new facilities.  VIA has only 20% of this new joint venture which could signal the final end to their existence as a producer of x86 processors.  The move could be influenced by Intel, who license both the PCIe and x86 technology to VIA but this is deemed unlikely as Intel would like to stay on the Chinese governments good side.  The current Nano and V7 are Vista capable and appear in mobile devices in the AP region.

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"VIA Technologies is rumored to have started shifting its x86 CPU technologies and related personnel to its newly formed IC design joint venture with a China government-owned investment firm, according to market watchers, adding that VIA recently notified clients that it will stop supplying x86 processors temporarily."

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Source: DigiTimes

Square Enix Interested in Final Fantasy PC

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2014 - 02:40 AM |
Tagged: square enix, pc gaming, final fantasy

Update: Fixed a couple of points as per the comments.

Final Fantasy might be returning to the PC as its publisher, Square Enix, grows more interested in the platform. Final Fantasy VII and VIII were both available on the PC within a few months of their original PlayStation releases. Since then, Final Fantasy was basically non-existent on the platform, beyond the two MMO releases (XI and XIV).

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Within the last year, both titles were re-released on Steam to decent sales. Yoshinori Kitase, producer for the franchise, told Eurogamer that this popularity has grabbed their attention. He acknowledged that the developer does not have a lot of experience with creating a good PC experience, but they could be very interested in the future.

It's an early stage for us. We haven't got an awful lot of experience in this field. So when we have more know-how and experience in this market we would be very interested.

Kitase also noted that, by ignoring the PC platform, their games are completely off the table in several markets. He did not mention any markets by name, but China only recently reopened its borders to Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo after banning them in 2000. In Brazil, a PS4 launched at a little over 3x the US price, after converting into USD, because of tax and other distribution issues.

Also, while not mentioned in the article, Square Enix has been very active in porting their back-catalog to mobile platforms. This seems to be a time of re-evaluation for the company. While they have had recent troubles with projecting sales figures, mostly with Eidos releases, they have at least dodged Games for Windows Live in favor of Steam.

Also, ending with a pun, Final Fantasy VII supports Cloud Saves. Hehehe.

Source: Eurogamer

Wolfenstein: The New Order Pre-Order Includes Doom Beta

Subject: General Tech | February 19, 2014 - 07:22 PM |
Tagged: wolfenstein, Doom 4, bethesda

Of course, many will disagree with the concept of pre-ordering. Many have said that you should wait until reviews are released before making a purchase. Ironically, a couple of these people have also argued against the merits of game reviews, which is food for thought. Still, there is a solid argument for not spending your money blindly. It can be nice to get bonus content for reserving copies, such as developer commentary, but it can easily get ridiculous.

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What if I don't own that platform!!!

In this case, if you pre-order Wolfenstein: The New Order, you will get access to the beta for the upcoming Doom game (carefully not called, "Doom 4") inside the box. Unfortunately, they will not provide much more details than that. They will not mention whether it will be single-player or multiplayer, when it will start, how long it will last, or what platforms it will occur on.

"Beta timing and platform options are subject to Bethesda Softworks' discretion."

Personally, I cannot see how this would be possible. Wouldn't it be absolutely terrible PR if a gamer purchased Wolfenstein for a platform that the Doom Beta was not available for? I would have to expect that this is only in there for legal reasons, in case an issue arises. Still, that would absolutely suck. Bethesda does like the PC platform, however. I guess we have that going for us.

Wolfenstein: The New World Order will be available on May 20th in North America.

Source: Bethesda

Irrational Games Implodes with Controlled Demolition

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 19, 2014 - 06:15 PM |
Tagged: bioshock infinite

The team behind the original BioShock and Bioshock: Infinite decided to call it quits. After seventeen years, depending on where you start counting, the company dissolved to form another, much smaller studio. Only about fifteen employees will transition to the new team. The rest are provided financial support, given a bit of time to develop their portfolios, and can attend a recruitment day to be interviewed by other studios and publishers. They may also be offered employment elsewhere in Take-Two Interactive.

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The studio formed by the handful of remaining employees will look to develop games based on narrative, which is definitely their strength. Each game will be distributed digitally and Take-Two will continue to be their parent company.

While any job loss is terrible, I am interested in the future project. BioShock: Infinite sold millions of copies but I wonder if its size ultimately caused it harm. It was pretty and full of detail, at the expense of requiring a large team. The game had a story which respected your intelligence, you may not understand it and that was okay, but I have little confidence that it was anywhere close to the team's original vision. From budget constraints to the religious beliefs of development staff, we already know about several aspects of the game that changed significantly. Even Elizabeth, according to earlier statements from Ken Levine, was on the bubble because of her AI's complexity. I can imagine how difficult it is to resist those changes when seeing man-hour budgets. I cannot, however, imagine BioShock: Infinite without Elizabeth. A smaller team might help them concentrate their effort where it matters and keep artistic vision from becoming too dilute.

As for BioShock? The second part of the Burial at Sea DLC is said to wrap up the entire franchise. 2K will retain the license if they want to release sequels or spin-offs. I doubt Ken Levine will have anything more to do with it, however.

Can Titanfall really be as fun as it sounds?

Subject: General Tech | February 19, 2014 - 04:01 PM |
Tagged: gaming, titanfall, modding

If you didn't get lucky enough to get in on the Titanfall demo then all you can do is read the previews and wonder if what you are missing out on is really as good as people say it is.  The reviews we've seen have been very positive and describe what seems to be a new style of online shooter.  The basics remain the same and we have all seen footage of the 3 storey mechs which give the game its name but Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN also describes how parkour is a big part of the game and is easier to get used to than Mirror's Edge.  The launch process also sounds like an improvement, when starting you end up in a private area which makes it easy to pick who you play with if you have a group of up to 12 people together.  Even with the limit of 6 players per side the map won't feel empty thanks to the designed inclusion of bots on both teams.  It is also nice to hear that Respawn is already acknowledging the modding community for the PC version of their game.

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"There are a lot of different ways to make videogame fights meaningful. Singleplayer games do it by couching your shotgun blasts and pistol whips in the context of a story. Multiplayer games do it by emphasising competition via scoreboards, and by layering XP bonuses and equipment progression on top as rewards for each kill. Titanfall aims to do it with a mixture of all of the above, and based on its limited beta, finds mixed success."

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Another reason to toss a Tomato onto your router

Subject: General Tech | February 19, 2014 - 12:33 PM |
Tagged: security, router, TheMoon

A worm known as TheMoon has been in the news recently but the actual infection of Linksys routers has likely been spreading for quite a while now.  You may have also read about the backdoor on Linksys/Cisco and Netgear routers which as been open for almost a decade and can be as simple as connecting to port 8083 if you can get direct access to the router.  Some of these vulnerabilities can be mitigated by turning off remote administration and uPNP services but it seems your consumer level router is still a huge security risk.  Your best bet is to spend a weekend and follow the advice of most Slashdot commentators; flash your router with OpenWRT or a version of Tomato and you will have better security and control over your router.  Just don't do it to the modem your ISP provided you with.

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"The remote-access management flaw that allowed TheMoon worm to thrive on Linksys routers is far from the only vulnerability in that particular brand of hardware, though it might be simpler to call all home-based wireless routers gaping holes of insecurity than to list all the flaws in those of just one vendor. An even longer list of Linksys (and Cisco and Netgear) routers were identified in January as having a backdoor built into the original versions of their firmware in 2005 and never taken out."

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Source: Slashdot