Remote door answering with the Ring

Subject: General Tech | May 11, 2015 - 12:52 PM |
Tagged: iot, ring, digital home, smart home

Ryan was impressed with Google's Nest Learning Digital Thermometre and recommended it a few years back as a great holiday gift, which is still true to this day.  A company called Ring is making inroads into the smart home market with their self titled second generation product.  Their original product was Doorbot, which some hated and many liked but which is nowhere near as interesting as the new Ring.  It is a 720p camera, with a motion sensor, microphone and speaker all powered by the small current provided by your existing doorbell circuits and a battery backup good for about a year.  It connects to your house and the Cloud via WiFi and is capable of not only ringing on your iOS7+ or Android 4.0+ phone but also to send the video so you can interact with whoever is at your front door even when you are away.  You may not be able to sign for packages remotely but barring that this can be very handy.  Read more at The Register.

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"Ring is enjoying that classic moment in a company's lifecycle when word has started getting out and orders are coming in at a rate that requires scaling up to the next level. And for good reason too. By all accounts, Ring the video doorbell is an impressive product, successfully navigating the path between hardware, software, smart phones and cloud services to deliver a genuinely innovative product with a real use-case."

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Source: The Register
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

No Longer the Media Center of Attention

Gabe Aul, of Microsoft's Windows Insiders program, has confirmed on Twitter that Windows 10 will drop support for Windows Media Center due to a decline in usage. This is not surprising news as Microsoft has been deprecating the Media Center application for a while now. In Windows 8.x, the application required both the “Pro” SKU of the operating system, and then users needed to install an optional add-on above and beyond that. The Media Center Pack cost $10 over the price of Windows 8.x Pro unless you claimed a free license in the promotional period surrounding Windows 8's launch.

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While Media Center has been officially abandoned, its influence on the industry (and vice versa) is an interesting story. For a time, it looked like Microsoft had bigger plans that were killed by outside factors and other companies seem to be eying the money that Microsoft left on the table.

There will be some speculation here.

We could go back to the days of WebTV, but we won't. All you need to know is that Microsoft lusted over the living room for years. Windows owned the office and PC gaming was taking off with strong titles (and technologies) from Blizzard, Epic, iD, Valve, and others. DirectX was beloved by developers, which led to the original Xbox. Their console did not get a lot of traction, but they respected it as a first-generation product that was trying to acquire a foothold late in a console generation. Financially, the first Xbox would cost Microsoft almost four billion dollars more than it made.

At the same time, Microsoft was preparing Windows to enter the living room. This was the company's power house and it acquired significant marketshare wherever it went, due to its ease of development and its never-ending supply of OEMs, even if the interface itself was subpar. Their first attempt at bringing Windows to the living room was Windows XP Media Center Edition. This spin-off of Windows XP could only be acquired by OEMs to integrate into home theater PCs (HTPCs). The vision was interesting, using OEM competition to rapidly prototype what users actually want in a PC attached to a TV.

This leads us to Windows Vista, which is where Media Center came together while the OS fell apart.

Read on to see how Halo 2 for Windows Vista was almost the prototype for PC gaming.

COUGAR 600M, the gaming mouse that squeaks

Subject: General Tech | May 8, 2015 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: input, Cougar, 600M, gaming mouse

The Cougar 600M Gaming Mouse does well at adding functionality without going to the extremes some other models have. The sensor can be set up to 8200 DPI and you can also adjust the USB polling rate from 125Hz to 1000Hz, a nice feature for those who want to be able to have complete control over their input.  Those who love LEDs will like that the software allows you to toggle the lighting between 16.8 million colours as well as programming the eight buttons as single functions or macros.  How well does it game?  Check out the full review at Overclockers Club.

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"The scroll wheel was an issue I only found from "longer" use, that I probably would not have noticed in a typical review testing time frame. After enough use, it started to squeak a bit, and in general make more noise. However, enough use later, and it's back to no squeak. It seems like it will be something that comes and goes. It still works, and that is most important."

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NVIDIA has mixed results for this first quarter

Subject: General Tech | May 8, 2015 - 12:53 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, earnings, Q1 2015, billion

NVIDIA's reported revenue of $1.15 billion just missed the analysts predictions, they saw an increase of roughly 4% from Q1 2014 but an 8% drop compared to the last quarter of 2014 which saw the release of the GTX 970 and the usual spike in sales from the holidays.  However when you look at net income, there was a drop of 2.2% compared to a year ago.  GPU sales made up the bulk of the income and are doing well as that division increased sales by 14% from last year bring in revenue 4.7% higher than last year.  Mobile Tegra sales saw a similar increase of 4.3% but the same can not be said for their LTE division, the Icera LTE modem unit is now on the chopping block, to either be dissolved or sold off.  You can get more numbers from this story at The Register.

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"Nvidia has reported revenues of US$1.15 billion for the first quarter ended April 26, 2015, up 4% from US$1.10 billion a year earlier, but down 8% from US$1.25 billion the previous quarter."

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Source: DigiTimes

Podcast #348 - DirectX 12, New AMD GPU News, Giveaways and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 7, 2015 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, Fiji, hbm, microsoft, build 2015, DirectX 12, Intel, SSD 750, freesync, gsync, Oculus, rift

PC Perspective Podcast #348 - 05/07/2015

Join us this week as we discuss DirectX 12, New AMD GPU News, Giveaways 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

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

AMD has new APUs and new pricing for the ones already on the market

Subject: General Tech | May 7, 2015 - 02:17 PM |
Tagged: amd, Carrizo-L, A8-7410, A6-7310, E2-7110, E1-7010, APU

AMD has provided information on their new Carrizo-L based 7000 series of chips featuring the A8-7410, A6-7310 and the A4-7210 as well as the E2-7110 and E1-7010.  The two E series chips replace the low powered Beema APS, the E1-6010 and E2-6110 which were found in All-in-One machines with the new E2-7110 being the first of that series to have four cores.  The other three models are new desktop chips with newer graphics cores, the full feature set you would expect and slightly higher TDPs than the E-Series.

The existing AMD A-Series Desktop APUs have seen a price reduction today with prices for the top end A10-7850K reduced to $127 with the low end A4-7300 costing a mere $42 which helps AMD's positioning as a supplier in the lower end of the market.  You can see the entire price list as well as some information about the new R300 series of GPUs in their post.

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"The AMD A-series APU are also the world’s best SoCs for DirectX 12, as independent testing showed a 41% framerate increase under DirectX 12 – read more in the AMD blog here. Additionally, using DirectX 12 the AMD A-series APU was able to demonstrate an incredible 511% increase in performance per watt.

Finally, with a suitably equipped AMD socket FM2+ motherboard featuring DisplayPort, AMD A-series APUs also support AMD FreeSync to deliver all the incredible experience benefits detailed in our AMD blog here."

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Source: AMD

Raptr's Top PC Games of March 2015

Subject: General Tech | May 7, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: raptr, pc gaming

Raptr is an application that helps PC gamers by optimizing in-game settings, recording and streaming gameplay, and providing a chat service. Each month, they use their community data to compile a list of most played PC games over the previous month. This release concerns the month of March, 2015.

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The top five games rarely move, but the last two months are minor exceptions. In February, Diablo III kicked Smite out of fifth place, leaving League of Legends, World of Warcraft, DOTA 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive untouched above it. In March, DOTA 2 by Valve Software had its third place ranking usurped by their arch nemesis: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive by Valve Software. That is the only change in the top five segment.

Looking at the bottom three-quarters, Dragon Age: Inquisition continued its descent right off the list, allowing PAYDAY 2 and Spider Solitaire to both re-enter the top twenty. (Apparently Spider Solitaire dropping by the list made Raptr “sad”. It has been absent since November 2014.) Battlefield 4 is down and War Thunder is up. Battlefield Hardline was only tracked for the first two weeks after its release, because we ran out of March, but it didn't even come close to the top twenty, placing 49th. It is attributed to Battlefield 4's decline, though.

StarCraft II being the only exception, four of Blizzard's five current titles are in the top ten most played games on the PC. With the Legacy of the Void beta going on, I wonder if they will achieve a five-for-five (or six-for-six if Overwatch is available by then) when the game fully releases, whenever that is.

Source: Raptr

GTA performance part 2 ... GPUs

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2015 - 03:46 PM |
Tagged: gaming, GTAV, 1440p, 4k, crossfire, sli

Last week [H]ard|OCP investigated the performance of GTAV on single GPU systems and this week comes the promised follow up featuring Crossfire and SLI, including the expensive Titan X.  With these high end setups, they tested 1440p and 4k performance as running these GPUs at 1080p is a crime against silicon.  At 1440p, the GTX 980 in SLI could handle more than a single Titan X though nowhere near what that card managed in SLI while on the AMD the 295X2 could keep up frame wise, but at the cost of some graphical extras.  At 4k resolutions, not even the mighty Titans could manage to run with all graphics options turned up, though it certainly did provide the best performance. AMD's GPUs lagged behind in performance however in scaling they were significantly better than NVIDIA's offerings, though there is still some room for improvement.  The real battle is at the $650 mark, you can choose between a pair of GTX 970's or a single R9 295X2 as they offer relatively similar performance but if you want the most out of GTAV you are going to have to pay much more than that.

You should also make sure to free up your calendar at the end of the month for the Fragging Frogs Virtual LAN Party #10 is coming up on the 30th!

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"This is Part 2 of our full evaluation of Grand Theft Auto V's video card gaming performance. In this part we dive into NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFire highest playable gameplay settings and apples-to-apples at 1440p and 4K resolutions. We find out just what it takes to get the most out of GTA V at its highest settings."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

The Oculus Rift is coming in early 2016, preorders before the end of the year

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2015 - 02:37 PM |
Tagged: oculus rift, Oculus, crescent bay

Finally we have a release date for the consumer version of the Oculus Rift, some time in Q1 of 2016.  The 2012 Kickstarter lead to the first and second Developers kits which have been out for a while now but not generally available. The most recent news was back in September when John Carmack and others showed off the prototype Crescent Bay model.  The Dev Kit 2 model was provided for a cost of $350 to those who qualified which gives a rough benchmark of the cost of the consumer model when it goes on sale.  At this point Oculus has not provided much in the way of technical specifications but those will be coming in the very near future.  You can see quite a bit of information on the Oculus page about the current version, if you want to tease yourself before news about the consumer package is officially released.

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"The Oculus Rift builds on the presence, immersion, and comfort of the Crescent Bay prototype with an improved tracking system that supports both seated and standing experiences, as well as updated ergonomics for a more natural fit, and a highly refined industrial design. In the weeks ahead, we’ll be revealing the details around hardware, software, input, and many of our unannounced made-for-VR games and experiences coming to the Rift. Next week, we’ll share more of the technical specifications here on the Oculus blog"

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Source: Oculus

Say goodbye to Patch Tuesday

Subject: General Tech | May 5, 2015 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: patch tuesday, microsoft, windows 10

Microsoft is showing off some of the new security features of Windows 10 and one of the announcements heralded the end of Patch Tuesday for everyone but Enterprise customers.  For consumers any device running Windows 10 could receive a patch at any time Microsoft approves it and pushes it out, apparently a shot across the bows at Google and their less than regular update schedule for mobile devices.  This could lead to some interesting and unexpected behaviour for devices if the patches cause problems on some systems as has happened in the past.  The patches can be distributed via peer-to-peer which will help those with limited bandwidth and time constraints, which you can read about at The Register along with information on the new Advanced Threat Analytics.

The Inquirer touches briefly on Windows Update for Business which will replace current patch distribution for the Enterprise and allow far more control on what gets updated, with which patches and when the installations will occur.

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"Ignite 2015 - Microsoft has shown off some of the new security mechanisms embedded in Windows 10, and revealed a change to its software updates."

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Source: The Register