Windows 10 Update Installer May Break with Office Installed

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2014 - 09:40 PM |
Tagged: windows, windows 10, patch, patch tuesday

These are the sorts of things that will happen in prerelease software. Gabriel Aul, leader of the Data and Fundamentals Team at Microsoft and blogger for the Windows Insider Program, announced on Twitter that today's Windows Update for Internet Explorer may not install if Office is also install. The workaround is, if the update fails, to uninstall Office, apply the update, and then reinstall Office. Unfortunately, I am not able to give my personal experience because I use LibreOffice (I did not want to purchase a commercial license of Office).

failpatch-windows-10.png

I was not expecting to use this fail-bandaid image again, so soon.

If it wasn't an important security update, another option would be to wait for the next build. I know that, when I first installed Windows 10, I had a similar problem with a Defender update that continually failed. The install failure was fixed when I upgraded to Build 9860. The next version of Windows 10 is probably not too far away... … but this is a security update.

Hopefully this is one less thing to break when it hits full release next year.

Origin's Newest "On the House" Promotion Is SimCity 2000

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2014 - 04:46 PM |
Tagged: ea, origin, on the house, SimCity, simcity 2000

Origin, EA's digital distribution platform, occasionally runs a promotion that is called “On the House”. The best way to think of it is an abrupt, 100%-off sale. If you “purchase” the free game before they put a price tag back on it, then it is yours to keep. Today, the promotion has been applied to SimCity 2000. Log in to the Origin Store and add it to your catalog.

ea-simcity2000-screenshot.jpg

EA is using money hacks...?

On a related topic, can you believe that SimCity 2000 is just a few months away from its 20th birthday? Some believe that it is the best of the series, although I have never played it. This is one of the many titles that I overlooked, jumping from the original SimCity (Super Nintendo, rented a few times) up to SimCity 3000: Unlimited, which I played until SimCity (2013) launched. Ironically, I received a free copy of SimCity 4 because of the launch issues, so I now have everything from SimCity 2000, onward.

SimCity 2000 is currently free, but will go back up to its regular price at any time.

Source: Origin

Seagate is still HAMRing away at improved HDD storage density

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2014 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: HAMR, Seagate, hdd, TDMR

Seagate has been talking about HAMR for many years now but is finally getting close to being able to provide a working product.  Currently they use perpendicular magnetic recording which should reach an areal density of 850/900Gbit/in2 in the coming year with a shingled version hitting 1Tbit/in2.  Shingled platters store data in slightly smaller and overlapping tracks reminiscent of a shingled roof.  In 2016 Seagate predicts the arrival of TDMR which will start at the same density as shingled PMR with an increase to 1.3Tbit/in2 when set up in a shingled format.  2017 is the tentative date for the arrival of the brand new technology and as of now Seagate is predicting an aureal density somewhere in the neighbourhood of 2Tbit/in2.  The performance will never match that of flash based drives but the cost per gigabyte will be far more attractive for those who have more of a need to store large amounts of data than to have high speed access.  Check out more at The Register.

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"We have better visibility into Seagate’s view of the ending of the current perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) era. The ending is delayed by narrowing the tracks so as to cram more of them on a platter. This is called two-dimensional magnetic recording (TDMR) and should arrive in 2016."

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Source: The Register

A sighting of the rare joystick, the Speedlink Phantom Hawk

Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2014 - 04:45 PM |
Tagged: Speedlink, Phantom Hawk, input, joystick

The common joystick has fallen out of fashion over the past few years but with the resurgence of space sims some gamers might be out looking to purchase one.  The mainstays are quite expensive but also high quality and perfect for sim games which are very unforgiving to sloppy stick handling.  Speedlink is offering the Phantom Hawk which is available for under $100 and certainly has an interesting look.  The joystick has some weight to it and there are suction cups underneath the body to keep it in place during hectic dogfights and there are enough buttons and both an 8-way hat and 4-way d-pad so you should be able to map most of your needed commands to the joystick.  If you play games which require exacting accuracy then eTeknix found that the dead zone and stiffness interfered with their accuracy but did enjoy playing Microsoft's Flight Sim with it.  Check out the full review to see what you think.

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"It doesn’t take long to realise that if you want to get to grips with a realistic flight stick, you need to spend a fair amount of money. This is why I’ve chosen to put a budget friendly model through its paces, the Speedlink Phantom Hawk. It’s relatively cheap, with prices around £25 from most retailers, so I’m not expecting industry leading performance here. I am however eager to find out just how good it really is, despite its low price tag."

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Source: eTeknix

Intel is investing in mobile chips

Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2014 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: Intel, smartphones, iot, billions

Intel has pulled out some spare change to upgrade its plant in Chengdu, in what analysts are predicting will be focused on Intel's ultra-mobile chips.  It certainly comes at an interesting time for the market, Google and Microsoft have both had recent unpleasantness with the Chinese government while Qualcomm, a direct mobile market competitor, is about to fork over what could be a record breaking settlement to Chinese anti-trust investigators.  This could make talent from Qualcomm available for Intel to hire as well as giving them even more of a financial advantage.  It marks a change in the recent trend of Intel to invest heavily in their US assets and reinforces their desire to make headway in the current ultramobile market and the burgeoning Internet of Things.  Check out the links at The Register for a bit more background on the state of this market.

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"Chipzilla has decided to take another run at the mobile chip market, announcing plans to spin as much as US$1.6 billion in the direction of its Chengdu plant in China to achieve its aims."

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Source: The Register

Windows 10 December 2014 Failed Update Workaround

Subject: General Tech | December 6, 2014 - 04:30 AM |
Tagged: windows 10, windows, patch, microsoft

A few days ago, I attempted to install my Windows updates, but one failed. After complaining about the update not being accepted, it would ask you to restart your computer, where it would proudly proclaim that you have an update pending... ad infinitum. It apparently did the same for many others, including Paul Thurrott (who voiced his concerns on Twitter).

failpatch-windows-10.png

Some day (of silence) later, and a workaround has been voiced. As far as I can tell, it was originally discovered by a member of the community, but an Engineering General Manager at Microsoft suggested that Paul Thurrott try it, even though the GM's official workaround was slightly different.

Long story short, here are the steps:

  1. Go to Add or Remove Programs.
  2. Go to View installed updates.
  3. Search for KB3019269 and uninstall it. Do not restart.
  4. Search for KB3018943 and uninstall it. Do not restart.
  5. Search for KB3016725 and uninstall it. Do not restart.
  6. Search for KB3016656 and uninstall it. Restart your computer.
  7. Run Windows Update and install whatever it tells you to.
  8. I needed to do Step 7 twice.
  9. Reboot a second time.

When I did this procedure, Windows Update complained about a failed update. Retrying it, without rebooting, was successful however. If you experienced this problem, be prepared for a potential false error – the fix might have still been successful.

This was actually the second update to fail in the exact same way, the first being a Windows Defender patch from the initial Technical Preview release. That time, the problem went away when Microsoft released a new build and I updated to it. The same probably would be true when Microsoft replaces Build 9879 with whatever they have upcoming, albeit that is at least a month away. As far as I can tell, not a whole lot has changed.

Again, this is pre-release software. I will not knock Microsoft for it, especially since the update procedure is one of the key points of focus for the entire Technical Preview. The occasional failure is to be somewhat expected.

Source: WinSupersite

If video games are not art, what happens when their engines are used to make movies?

Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2014 - 02:44 PM |
Tagged: weta, mildly ironic, game engine

When The Inquirer starts talking about using game engines to replace movie post production in the future the first thing that might spring to your mind could be a trilogy of movies already years old.  WETA used Massive to render the huge battle scenes in Lord of the Rings, a rendering engine which has already been used in several games including the recent Total War games.  That example approaches the issue from the opposite direction, instead of an improved CryEngine being used in a movie it is rendering software intended for TV and movies being used in a game.

It highlights the misunderstanding movie executives have about real time rendering.  At heart there is no difference between a scene rendered in a game as opposed to one rendered in a movie, post-production or real time.  Post production would not be necessary or could at least be significantly reduced if you have the hardware to render your CGI in real time.  The software its self is more or less ready but at the moment there is not much money to be made by improving the Unreal Engine to the point where it is photo-realistic since the hardware requirements to run it would be orders of magnitude higher than what is currently available on the retail market. 

This will change and it seems that those with jobs in post production for movies had better start specializing in real effects or think about branching into another field.  It is likely to cause a great hue and cry from the movie industry in the coming years as they attempt to convince the public that video games are not art in the same way as movies are art even though they are made with the exact same tools.  Image the Steam Big Picture mode of the future!

specialeffects_attack1.jpg

"Last year, when we reported that LucasFilm, the California production company responsible for the Star Wars franchise, proclaimed that video game engines would be responsible for the decline of the movie post-production process in the next 10 years, our readers scoffed."

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Source: The Inquirer

Another 500TB of Writes and Still Two SSDs Alive

Subject: General Tech, Storage | December 4, 2014 - 10:57 PM |
Tagged: ssd, Samsung, kingston

Once again, we're talking about The Tech Report and their attempt at working SSDs to death. At the last checkpoint, 1.5 petabytes of total writes, the Samsung 840 Pro and the Kingston HyperX 3K (240GB) became the final two. Which will become the sole survivor? How long will it go before dying? Who knows. We just crossed 2 petabytes and these things simply won't die.

techreport-endurance-2pb-seq-read.gif

Image Credit: The Tech Report

So yeah, we have hit 2 petabytes and these drives seem to be chugging along. Neither of the two survivors have even displayed any major drops in read or write performance, at least not permanently. The Samsung 840 Pro has experienced a few, temporary dips in write performance, from around 500MB/s to around 450MB/s, boo hoo, but has recovered each time.

That said, both drives are using their reserve space. The Samsung 840 Pro has used about 60 percent of its reserve in the last 1300 TB of writes, following a fairly linear decline. If it continues, this drive should finally kick the bucket just before 3 petabytes of writes (~2.87PB). The Kingston HyperX, on the other hand, who knows. That SSD seems to have had a rough time over the last 500TB, but that could be just a hiccup. It could also be on its way out, who knows?

Source: Tech Report

Podcast #328 - G-Sync Flickering, In Win D-Frame Mini, Fractal R5 Silent and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2014 - 03:34 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, g-sync, flickering, ROG Swift, pg278q, in win, d-frame mini, fractal, define r5 silent, nvidia, amd, Intel, asus, gtx 970 DirectCU Mini, msi, 970 Gaming

PC Perspective Podcast #328 - 12/04/2014

Join us this week as we discuss G-Sync Flickering, In Win D-Frame Mini, Fractal R5 Silent 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: Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Sebastian Peak

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

 

If you thought the free Windows programs were contentious, try the Linux version

Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2014 - 01:06 PM |
Tagged: linux, freeware, vim

Nothing brings out the ire of a tech than a list which leaves out their favourite free application or even worse, recommends a lesser alternative.  This goes more than double for Linux users.  Nevertheless,  The Register was brave enough to compile 10 of their favourite Linux applications for your pleasure or derision.  ClamTK is the front end to ClamAV which has been a long standing antivirus program for Linux and Gufw Firewall is fairly self explanatory.  For programmers Geany is a very light weight multipurpose IDE, Shutter does the trick as a screen capture program while Unity Tweak Tool is great for those who want to have complete control over their UI.  LibreOffice does indeed appear on this list and is also available for Windows users but SpringSeed is Linux only and will make Evernote users very jealous.  The full list of apps can be seen here, those wanting an editor battle royale may be dissapointed though.

clamtk.jpg

"Much to the dismay of many a sysadmin, Linux is no longer purely the domain of Captain Command-Line and his trusty side-kick Admiral APT. For those looking to make the most of their new-fangled graphics-capable hardware, here’s a selection of freeware to start with, in our case as installed on Ubuntu 14.04."

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Source: The Register