NVIDIA Releases 347.52 Drivers and Brothers for GRID

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | February 11, 2015 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: shieldtuesday, shield, nvidia, gridtuesday, grid, graphics drivers, geforce, drivers

Update: Whoops! The title originally said "374.52", when it should be "347.52". My mistake. Thanks "Suddenly" in the comments!

Two things from NVIDIA this week, a new driver and a new game for the NVIDIA GRID. The new driver aligns with the release of Evolve, which came out on Tuesday from the original creators of Left4Dead. The graphics vendor also claims that it will help Assassin's Creed: Unity, Battlefield 4, Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Crew, and War Thunder. Several SLi profiles were also added for Alone in the Dark: Illumination, Black Desert, Dying Light, H1Z1, Heroes of the Storm, Saint's Row: Gat out of Hell, Total War: Attila, and Triad Wars.

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On the same day, NVIDIA released Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons on GRID, bringing the number of available games up to 37. This game came out in August 2013 and received a lot of critical praise. Its control style is unique, using dual-thumbstick gamepads to simultaneously control both characters. More importantly, despite being short, the game is said to have an excellent story, even achieving Game of the Year (2013) for TotalBiscuit based on its narrative, which is not something that he praises often.

I'd comment on the game, but I've yet to get the time to play it. Apparently it is only a couple hours long, so maybe I can fit it in somewhere.

Also, they apparently are now calling this “#SHIELDTuesday” rather than “#GRIDTuesday”. I assume this rebranding is because people may not know that GRID exists, but they would certainly know if they purchased an Android-based gaming device for a couple hundred dollars or more. We could read into this and make some assumptions about GRID adoption rates versus SHIELD purchases, or even purchases of the hardware itself versus their projections, but it would be pure speculation.

Both announcements were made available on Tuesday, for their respective products.

Source: NVIDIA

Shining a little light on Windows as a service

Subject: General Tech | February 10, 2015 - 02:11 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, rumour

We may see Windows 10 RTM as early as June of this year on new machines and likely as an upgrade option to those running Windows 7 or 8, with the trademarking of Windows 365 lending credence to this rumour.  The Register had a chance to try and parse the most mysterious part of this new OS, the Windows-as-a-service model and what that will mean for users.  Microsoft has explained that when a user buys a device with Windows 10 they will "continue to keep it current for the supported lifetime of the device – at no additional charge."  Unfortunately it is not clear what is meant by the 'supported lifetime' nor what happens when that time expires; it is likely that a subscription will need to be renewed or that you will have to get a new device.  It is also unclear how this model will work for serial upgraders, in the past you could simply re-license your installation of Windows a finite time before needing to contact Microsoft to ask them to activate your license again.

What we do know for sure for the Enterprise version is that will be several Long Term Servicing contracts, which provide security and critical updates for a 5 year mainstream contract followed by a 5 year extended support contract.  There will also be a Current Branch for Business which will receive updates via Windows Update or WSUS after patches have been distributed to consumers and fully tested.  To be able to use Windows 10 a company must maintain a subscription for Software Assurance as opposed to being limited to the nebulous "supported lifetime" of their machines.

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"Windows chief Terry Myerson proclaimed the advent of Windows-as-a-service at an event last month. But what does that mean? A more recent post from Enterprise and Security Directory Jim Alkove offers some clues."

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Source: The Register

Microsoft Filed for "Windows 365" Trademark in Late January. Jeremy Prepares to File for Windows 340 through 364?

Subject: General Tech, Systems | February 10, 2015 - 12:55 AM |
Tagged: windows 365, windows 10, windows, office 365, microsoft

While it is trivial for a large corporation to file for a trademark, there are fairly strict guidelines with how they are used (or, more accurately, not-used). Because trademarks can be forever, the law outlines numerous procedures that can classify them as abandoned, which lets Coca Cola be a known, legitimate source of Coca Cola for as long as Coca Cola makes Coca Cola, while preventing businesses from being created that do nothing but license names.

Patents! I'm looking at you!

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So the news is that Microsoft filed for the trademark, “Windows 365”. Knowing their trademark on Office 365, people are assuming that this will lead to a subscription version of Windows. The trademark filing is then compared to the statements made by Terry Myerson about Windows as a Service and the free upgrade from Windows 7 and Windows 8.x for a year. You can see where this is headed.

But I have another idea. Perhaps this is intended to lead into their not-yet-disclosed enterprise licensing arrangement for Windows 10 (and related services)? Despite its consumer sound, Office 365 seems to have a fairly large adoption rate with business and education customers. As an example, which is not statistically relevant but is still interesting, the local public school board where I live has licensed a non-commercial, 5-PC license for every staff and student in their organization. This concept has a lot of potential for those customers.

If, of course, they give us a per-device and system builder license option, too.

Source: USPTO

New BitTorrent Sync Beta Build Allows Updates From Sync 1.4

Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2015 - 11:44 PM |
Tagged: folder sync, file syncing, bittorrent sync, bittorrent, backup

The team at BitTorrent Labs has released a new Sync beta build that incorporates all of the planned Sync Pro features and allows users to update from the stable Sync 1.4 build while importing all of their folders. The latest build, version 2.0.51, is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs as well as Android (Sync 2.0.34) and Kindle Fire mobile devices. Users can grab the download from this Sync forum thread.

Sync 2.0.51 was deployed to test the upgrade and folder import path from 1.4. Unfortunately, the new build is not compatible with any previous Sync 2.0 (alpha) builds so users that are already testing will have to start from scratch whereas if you are just now jumping in as a tester you can keep your folders set up as is.

The latest Sync beta turns on all of the Sync Pro features (image from Sync blog).

I was able to successfully update to the new build on my main PC and Android smartphone. Unfortunately, I can not go into many details regarding my experience as testers have been asked to not talk publicly about the builds until further along in development. You are welcome to try it out for yourself though.

Sync 1.4 (left) users can upgrade to the new Sync 2.0.51 beta (right) and import their folders.

The public forum thread does mention that the new build includes a trial of Sync Pro features including a private identity that allows you to easily link all of your devices together and a selective syncronization feature that uses placeholder files and allows you to choose which files you want to download for offline access on a per device basis (a feature that caused controversy for Microsoft over OneDrive removing placeholder files in Windows 10). A new permissions engine is also in effect and you are able to change permissions after the fact now without generating a new link.

In all, Sync is still in development and they have some neat features in the works that will make it more competitive with other file syncing services.

If you are interested in following the development progress or testing it yourself, you can sign up for the mailing list and follow the various forum threads on the BitTorrent website.

Source: BitTorrent

Are you the Type that wants to C USB 3.1 in action?

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2015 - 01:03 PM |
Tagged: usb 3.1, usb type-c

The speed difference between USB 3.1 and 3.0 is not quite as significant as the difference between 2.0 and 3.0, it only doubles the speed to 10Gbps but it offers other advantages as well.  For instance no longer will you need to flip your device three times to plug it in, the backwards compatible Type C connector will fit in either orientation which is seemingly a small thing until you spend a lot of time reaching under desks trying to plug peripherals in.  Kitguru tested the speed of two Intel 730 SSDs in RAID 0 on the MSI X99A Gaming 9 ACK which has USB 3.1 provided by the ASMedia ASM1142 chipset. The test results came close to the theoretical maximum, easily beating USB 3.0.   Check out the full review here.

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"And that's where USB 3.1 comes in. A 10Gbps link speed, up to 100W of power delivery, and upcoming widespread application of a new Type-C connector are some of the key features that the new version will usher in."

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Source: Kitguru

Podcast #335 - Mobile G-Sync, GTX 970 SLI, a Broadwell Brix and more!

Subject: General Tech | February 5, 2015 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, g-sync, GTX 970, gigabyte, brix s, broadwell-u, Intel, nuc, arm, Cortex-A72, mediatek, amd, Godavari, Raspberry Pi, windows 10

PC Perspective Podcast #335 - 02/05/2015

Join us this week as we discuss Mobile G-Sync, GTX 970 SLI, a Broadwell Brix 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!!

 

To the great dismay of dozens Windows RT finally passes on (not WinRT)

Subject: General Tech | February 5, 2015 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: winRT, microsoft

Microsoft has quietly smothered the last WinRT device on the market, spelling the end of the ARM powered version of Windows.  The non-Pro versions of the Surface attracted sellers with a very low price but then repulsed them with the performance and lack of support for basic applications.  The Lumia 2520 was perhaps a better implementation of WinRT but again was not very successful against the competition.  The Surface Pro 2 will continue to be produced and sold but its red haired stepchild has been show the door.   Microsoft did confirm with The Register that this does not mean the end of Windows on ARM by any means, Win10 will be found on many devices in the coming year including ARM powered ones.

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"The software giant confirmed on Wednesday to The Register that it has stopped manufacturing the Nokia Lumia 2520, a 10.1-inch Windows RT tablet with a quad-core ARM processor, an HD display, and 4G LTE wireless connectivity."

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Source: The Register

When is Civilizations not Civilizations? When you are on starships!

Subject: General Tech | February 4, 2015 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: gaming, sid meier, starships, civilization

The video posted at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN does not show gameplay until the 30 minute mark but may still interest you before that so try not to immediately skip until the launch screen.  Once you do, you will see that Starships does borrow from Beyond Earth, with the idea of Affinities granting specific bonuses based on the leader you chose but then it immediately changes.  Starships of varying sizes and components become your troops, maps become dynamic with the addition of asteroids on the field which move, interfering with your weaponry as well as your movement and solar systems replace cities.  The way you end your turn has also changed, instead of a limited amount of moves and attacks your ships have a crew which tires as you use the ship and let you choose to keep going with penalties due to the fatigue of your crew or send them on shore leave to end their usefulness for that turn.  Check out the video to see what you think of this new face to Sid Meier.

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"Meier also tackles the thorny question “how do you put maps in space?” and clarifies that people who call themselves ‘marauders’ don’t tend to be terribly friendly.

The Starships footage kicks off at around the 30 minute mark, but the more patient view can enjoy a whole 50 minutes of Sidchat."

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It's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood, unless you are a patent troll ...

Subject: General Tech | February 4, 2015 - 02:04 PM |
Tagged: patents, legal, IEEE

Ah the sweet irony in the statement from IP Watchdog which states that the decision which "reduces the possibility that a patent holder that has made an IEEE RAND Commitment could hold up implementers of a standard and obtain higher prices" somehow represents a "threat to American-led innovation".   The IEEE requested this update to prevent cases such as this one which demanded $2000 per location for any business with a wireless router from ever reaching the courts.  Unless you feel that the companies whose business model is to sue people based on exploiting loopholes in existing patent agreements in which case you probably do not agree this is for the best.  You can read more over at The Register if the legal document from the DOJ is not up your alley.

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"The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has okayed new IEEE standards licensing rules designed to end some of the seemingly-endless lawsuits over standards-essential patents - and the trolls aren't happy."

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Source: The Register

Razer Blade Gaming Laptop Refreshed for 2015

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | February 3, 2015 - 05:35 PM |
Tagged: razer blade, razer, nvidia, Intel, GTX 970M

When the Razer Blade launched, it took a classy design and filled it with high-end gaming components. Its competitors in the gaming space were often desktop replacements, which were powerful but not comfortable, every-day laptops. The Blade also came with a $2800 (at the time) price-tag, and that stunted a lot of reviews. It has been refreshed a few times since then, including today.

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The New Razer Blade QHD+ has a 14-inch 3200x1800 display, with multi-touch and an LED backlight. The panel is IGZO, which is a competitor to IPS for screens with a high number of pixels per inch (such as the 4K PQ321Q from ASUS). This is housed in a milled aluminum chassis that is about 7/10th of an inch thick.

Its power brick is rated at 150W, which is surprisingly high for a laptop. I am wondering how much of that electricity is headroom for fast-charging (versus higher performance when not on battery). Most power adapters for common laptops that I've seen are between 60W and 95W. In a small, yet meticulously designed chassis, I would have to assume that thermal headroom of either the heatsinks or the components themselves would be the limiting factor.

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On the topic of specifications, they are expectedly high-end.

The GPU was upgraded to the GeForce GTX 970M with 3GB of VRAM (up from a 3GB 870M) and the CPU is now a Core i7-4720HQ (up from a Core i7-4702HQ). The system memory also got doubled, to 16GB (up from 8GB). It also has 3 USB 3.0 ports, HDMI 1.4a out, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, and (of course) a high-end, backlit keyboard. Razer offers a choice in M.2 SSD capacity: 128GB for $2199.99, 256GB for $2399.99, or 512GB for $2699.99. This is kind-of expensive for solid state memory, $1.56/GB for the jump to 256GB and $1.17/GB to go from there to 512GB.

The New Razer Blade Gaming Laptop is available now at Razerzone.com in the US, Canada, Singapore, and Hong Kong. It will arrive at Microsoft Stores in the USA on February 16th. China, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, UAE, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Russia can purchase it on Razerzone.com in March. Prices start (as stated above) at $2199.99.

Source: Razer