DIY HiFi; build yourself electrostatic speakers and show them off

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2016 - 03:38 PM |
Tagged: audio, electrostatic speaker, DIY

Instead of focusing on the troubling security holes reported on today how about you distract yourself by reading up on electrostatic speakers and how to make them yourself.  Electrostatic loudspeakers differ from conventional magnetic speakers as they use the attraction and repulsion of a thin conductive film in an electric field to create sound waves.  This allows the speakers to produce audio with very little distortion and comparatively flat frequency response but also comes with a drawback; half the audio is sent backwards and there is no easy way to reflect it to the front.  Check out the build process and material required to create your own unique high end speakers over at Hack a Day.

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"Any thin flexible plastic film can make a noise in an electrostatic speaker, but for best performance the thinner your film, the better. 5 micron thick Mylar seems to be the preferred choice."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Hack a Day

PC Perspective Hardware Workshop 2016 @ Quakecon 2016 in Dallas, TX

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 8, 2016 - 02:03 PM |
Tagged: workshop, video, streaming, quakecon, prizes, live, giveaways

UPDATE: Did you miss the workshop? Relive the fun and excitement with the replay below!!

It is that time of year again: another installment of the PC Perspective Hardware Workshop! We will be presenting on the main stage at Quakecon 2016 being held in Dallas, TX August 4-7.

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Main Stage - Quakecon 2016

Saturday, August 6th, 10:00am CT

Our thanks go out to the organizers of Quakecon for allowing us and our partners to put together a show that we are proud of every year.  We love giving back to the community of enthusiasts and gamers that drive us to do what we do!  Get ready for 2 hours of prizes, games and raffles and the chances are pretty good that you'll take something out with you - really, they are pretty good!

Our primary partners at the event are those that threw in for our ability to host the workshop at Quakecon and for the hundreds of shirts we have ready to toss out!  Our thanks to NVIDIALogitech and ASUS!!

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Live Streaming

If you can't make it to the workshop - don't worry!  You can still watch the workshop live on our live page as we stream it over one of several online services.  Just remember this URL: http://pcper.com/live and you will find your way!

 

PC Perspective LIVE Podcast and Meetup

We are planning on hosting any fans that want to watch us record our weekly PC Perspective Podcast (http://pcper.com/podcast) on Wednesday or Thursday evening in our meeting room at the Hilton Anatole.  I don't yet know exactly WHEN or WHERE the location will be, but I will update this page accordingly on Wednesday August 3rd when we get the data.  You might also consider following me on Twitter for updates on that status as well.

After the recording, we'll hop over the hotel bar for a couple drinks and hang out.  We have room for at leaast 50-60 people to join us in the room but we'll still be recording if just ONE of you shows up.  :)

Prize List (will continue to grow!)

Continue reading to see the list of prizes for the workshop!!!

10,000 Amiga Software Titles Land on the Internet Archive

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2016 - 02:01 PM |
Tagged: amiga, archive.org, Internet Archive, software, games, gaming, retro, 1990s, classic, browser

Looking for some cutting-edge content to test out that lightning-fast graphics card purchase? Well, this might not fit the bill. However, if you have a mind to check out a vast library of software from the legendary Amiga computer system, the Internet Archive has you covered.

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A working Commodore Amiga is not required (Image credit: Archive.org)

The software plays via an in-browser emulator, and there are also links to download the related files (Amiga Disk File, images, etc.) so just about any system can play these old games. If you're interested head on over to Archive.org to access the library.

Source: Archive.org

Podcast #411 - Live from Quakecon 2016!!

Subject: General Tech | August 5, 2016 - 01:04 PM |
Tagged: video, quakecon, podcast

PC Perspective Podcast #411 - 08/05/2016

Join us this week as we discuss our new Titan X review and talk with the fans at Quakecon 2016!!

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!

Hosts:  Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Ken Addison and Morry Teitelman

Program length: 1:23:59
  • No show notes today, enjoy the free flow discussion!

Cooler Master Releases MasterKeys Pro L and M Keyboards

Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2016 - 05:49 PM |
Tagged: MasterKeys Pro M, Masterkeys Pro L, MasterKeys, LED keyboard, keyboard, gaming keyboard, cooler master, Cherry MX

Cooler Master has released a pair of new gaming keyboards with the MasterKeys Intelligent White series Pro L and Pro M, both of which feature Cherry MX switches and LED backlighting.

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The keyboards are differentiated by size, with the Pro L a full-sized model, and the Pro M a 90% design. Both feature a hybrid anti-ghosting implementation which begins with 6-key, and automatically switches to N-key rollover if 6+ buttons are pressed simultaniously. A 32-bit ARM Cortex processor is onboard to control all functionality, from macros to illumination.

"The MasterKeys Pro White utilizes the on board memory and processor for its advanced On-the-fly System. LED lighting modes, repeat rate adjustment, multimedia keys, macro recording, combined with four profile keys, enable you to control all aspects of the keyboard right at your fingertips."

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The Pro L and Pro M are available with Cherry MX Brown, Blue, and Red switches. The USB 2.0-connected keyboard offer a 1000 Hz polling rate, and 1 ms response time.

Full press release after the break.

DOTA 2: The International 6 Begins Monday

Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2016 - 07:08 AM |
Tagged: valve, pc gaming, esports, DOTA 2

Every year, Valve hosts a giant gaming event called “The International”. While the prize pool is still being increased through purchases of the The International 2016 Battle Pass DLC bundle, it currently rests just below $19.4 million USD. The way previous years worked is that about a third went to first place, and the rest trickled down. Keep in mind that DOTA 2 is a team sport, though, so winnings don't all go to a single person.

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Anywho, it will be a five-day event broadcasted on Twitch, Steam Broadcasting, WatchESPN, and YouTube. Owners of a SteamVR-compatible headset will also be able to view the broadcast in VR (which isn't just for The International, but this is the first The International to support it). It's not just projecting you into the stadium, either; it gives you a command center to see stats around you, or you can jump down into the map to see the battle around you “human scale”.

The International 6 begins on Monday.

Source: Valve

Windows 10 Version 1607 Changes Driver Signing Policy

Subject: General Tech | August 1, 2016 - 06:33 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

Remember, folks, that “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions”. Microsoft has been trying to shed their stigma as a giant source of malware, but all solutions have side-effects, and those side-effects can have damaging consequences. When you believe that you or someone else is doing good, that is when you should be extra cautious, not less. It's a source of complacency.

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With tomorrow's Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft will require kernel-mode drivers to be signed by them on systems with Secure Boot enabled. This change will not affect PCs that have been upgraded from a previous version of Windows, including Windows 10 1507 and Windows 10 1511. That said, this could be a concern for those (like me) who are planning to clean install soon.

To me, this doesn't look like it will be that big of a deal. Hobbyists should be able to manage with either disabling Secure Boot, if their system allows it, or by fitting their driver around the user-mode framework. It might cause an issue with hotfix graphics drivers, though, which are pushed out before getting signed by Microsoft.

Also, if Microsoft changes their driver signing policy in the future, then this is could be (Update @ 7:30pm ET: original verbage was a little too strong) huge leverage against anyone attempting to circumvent it (such as implementing a graphics API that outperforms whatever DirectX version they have at the time -- see how Vulkan is not allowed on MacOSX). Even if you trust Microsoft now, you need to think about what Microsoft in 10+ years can do if they choose to.

Source: Microsoft

Windows 10 Free Upgrade Extended for Assistive Technologies

Subject: General Tech | July 30, 2016 - 06:37 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

For the majority of users, the Windows 10 free upgrade period has just ended. That said, Microsoft is extending the offer for a specific group of people: those who use assistive technologies, such as text-to-speech software for those with visual impairments. They are being intentionally vague with which AT software allow users to qualify, which makes sense, because being pedantic to users with disabilities after offering it to everyone (sometimes like a hot potato) for a whole year wouldn't be the best PR.

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They haven't yet announced an end date for this new offer. They also haven't really discussed why they are making this exemption, although they do promote the upcoming Anniversary Update several times, with its new accessibility features highlighted. This makes me think that, while of course Microsoft is going to namedrop the new build whenever possible, they might have found that users were hesitant to upgrade to 1507 and 1511 because of accessibility concerns. Since the general public upgrade offer ended just before the Anniversary Update, they might be allowing those users to jump aboard Windows 10 even though their disability prevented them from using 1511.

Either way, it's a nice extension to make.

Source: Microsoft

Xiaomi Launches Sleek Mi Notebook Air Ultrabooks

Subject: General Tech | July 28, 2016 - 05:33 PM |
Tagged: xiaomi, ultraportable, ultrabook, thin and light, Intel, core m3, core i5

According to the guys over at The Tech Report, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is jumping into the notebook game with two new Mi Notebook Air ultrabooks. The all aluminum notebooks are sleek looking and priced very competitively for their specifications. They are set to release on August 2nd in China.

The new Mi Notebook Air notebooks come in 13.3" and 12.5" versions. Both models use all aluminum bodies with edge to edge glass displays (1080p though unknown what type of panel), backlit keyboards, and dual AKG speakers. Users can choose from gold or silver colors for the body and keyboard (Xiaomi uses a logo-less design which is nice).

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Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air via Ars Technica.

Both models sport a single USB Type C port (which is also used for charging), two USB 3.0 Type A ports, one HDMI video output, and a headphone jack. The Xiaomi website shows an USB Type C adapter that adds extra ports as well. Internally, they have a M.2 slot for storage expansion but the notebooks do not appear to be user serviceable (though iFixit may rectify that...). Also shared is support for the company's Mi Sync software and Mi fitness band which can be used to unlock the computer when the user is in proximity.

The smaller 12.5" Mi Notebook Air is 0.51" thick and weighs just over 2.3 pounds. It is powered by an Intel Core M3 processor and Xiaomi claims that this model can hit 11.5 hours ouf battery life. Other specifications include 4 GB of RAM, a 128 GB SATA SSD, and 802.11ac wireless.

If you need a bit more computing power, the 13.3" notebook is slightly bulkier at 0.58" thick and 2.8 pounds with the tradeoff in size giving users a larger display, keyboard, and dedicated graphics card. Specifically, the 13.3" ultrabook features an Intel Core i5 processor, Nvidia Geforce 940MX GPU, 8 GB DDR4 RAM, a 256GB NVMe PCI-E SSD, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. This laptop is a bit heavier but I think the extra horsepower is worth it for those that need or want it.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about what many will see as an Apple MacBook Air clone is the pricing. The 12.5" laptop will MSRP for RMB 3499 while that 13.3" notebook will cost RMB 4999. That translates to approximately $525 and $750 USD respectively which is a great value for the specifications and size and seemingly will give Apple a run for its money in China. That's the bad news: Xiaomi does not appear to be bringing these slick looking notebooks to the US anytime soon which is unfortunate.

Also read:

The Huawei MateBook Review: A Denial-of-Surface Attack

Source: Xiaomi

LeEco To Buy US TV Manufacturer Vizio For $2 Billion This Year

Subject: General Tech | July 28, 2016 - 03:52 PM |
Tagged: vizio, LeEco, China, business

Chinese technology company LeEco (SZSE: 300104) will purchase US television manufacture Vizio (NASDAQ: VZIO (not trading)) in a deal worth $2 Billion USD set to close in the fourth quarter of this year. 

LeEco plans to acquire Vizio's hardware and software divisions and run the US company as a wholly owned subsidiary while spinning off Vizio's Inscape television viewership data arm as a privately held company. With approximately 400 employees, yearly revenue in the billions ($3.1 billion in 2014), and at least 20% of the US television market, the acquisition would allow LeEco to enter the US market in a big way. Vizio is best known in the US for its televisions where it is a respected brand, but the company also produces ultrabooks, tablets, smartphones, and sound bars. It is a private US-based company with manufacturing in Mexico and China.

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Founded in 2004, LeEco is involved in a number of technology related fields across China, India, and soon the US. The Vizio brand (and partnerships such as the one with Walmart to carry its TVs) alone will be instrumental in LeEco's plans to break into the US market which has been resistant to Chinese brands making inroads (Lenovo apparently being the exception, but even Lenovo was not able to get its smartphones into the US market in a big way). The company of 5000+ employees is involved in Internet TV, video production and distribution, e-commerce, smartphones, tablets, gadgets, home automation, and even (soon) driverless cars.The company had 2014 revenue of $1.6 billion.

It is interesting to see all of the buy outs of US tech companies by overseas companies. To be clear, I don't necessarily think that these deals are a bad thing or being done with malicious intentions, but they do piques my curiosity. In this case it could be a good partnership that would allow both companies to benefit with LeEco getting a strong US brand and the recognition and market trust that entails and Vizio getting a much larger staffed company with experience in Chinese markets where it could help Vizio push its smart TV platform and ultrabooks and phone aspects further. Here's hoping that a LeEco owned Vizio grows and maintains its quality and price points.

What do you think about LeEco buying out Vizio? What will the future hold for the US TV maker?

Source: Reuters