Podcast #320 - Micron M600 SSD, NVIDIA and Adaptive Sync, Windows 10 and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2014 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: X99 Classified, X99, video, tlc, tegra k1, ssd, Samsung, podcast, nvidia, micron, M600, iphone 6, g-sync, freesync, evga, broadwell-u, Broadwell, arm, apple, amd, adaptive sync, a8, 840 evo, 840

PC Perspective Podcast #320 - 10/02/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the Micron M600 SSD, NVIDIA and Adaptive Sync, Windows 10 and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

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Curious about that square phone from the other fruity company?

Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2014 - 01:10 PM |
Tagged: blackberry, passport, snapdragon 801

Inside the new Blackberry Passport is a quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, 3GB RAM, 32GB internal storage, NFC, microUSB port and the impressive 4.5" 1440 x 1440 IPS touchscreen.  This phone is squarely aimed at the business user who does not consider the lack of apps and comparably poor video and gaming performance to be a negative and is far more interested in being able to read a document without scrolling.  Apart from the form factor the interface will be familiar to BB users, the Blackberry 10.3 OS has been available to users for a while now but the battery life will impress you as The Inquirer reports using the Passport for 2 days straight without charging, something the Z10 and Q10 are not capable of.  Read more here or scroll down to see what else is up in the mobile world.

blackberry-passport-display-540x334.png

"THE BLACKBERRY PASSPORT is the Canadian phonemaker's comeback smartphone, and the firm is hoping the handset's "innovative" design will convince corporate buyers to ditch their Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy handsets."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: The Inquirer

ARM's Mbed OS and Device Server

Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2014 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: Mbed OS, arm, iot, cortex-m, Mbed Device Server

ARM is serious about staking their turf in the Internet of Things, there will soon be an Mbed OS custom built for their Cortex-M lineup of processors which will pair with an Mbed Device Server to manage clients and process data.  The main focus is on low power communications technology as one would expect, with support for Bluetooth Smart, 2G, 3G, LTE and CDMA cellular technologies, Thread, WiFi, and 802.15.4/6LoWPAN along with TLS/DTLS, CoAP, HTTP, MQTT and Lightweight M2M.  The project is not new either, according to what ARM told The Inquirer the Mbed community already has over 70,000 developers actively participating or designing products on this platform and there is a long list of partners for Mbed listed in that article.  The real focus in many minds is not so much on the current adoption of the Mbed OS, but in how much time will be spent on their second claim, security.  There is a lot of doomsday scenarios being tossed around as the IoT starts to come of age, many are farcically incorrect but there are very real concerns as well.

mbed-os-v2.png

"Called the Mbed IoT Device Platform, the software is primarily an operating system (OS) built around open standards that claims to "bring Internet protocols, security and standards-based manageability into one integrated tool" in order to save money and energy in making IoT devices."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Adobe Virtualizes Photoshop to the Creative Cloud

Subject: General Tech | October 1, 2014 - 08:07 PM |
Tagged: Adobe, photoshop, cloud

The Creative Cloud subscription service from Adobe allows users to pay a monthly fee to have access to one or every available product. This ranges from Photoshop, to Illustrator, to After Effects, to Audition, to Dreamweaver. This one subscription follows you, via your Adobe account, through every platform... that they support. Currently, that's Mac and Windows.

adobe-cs-photoshop.jpg

To expand that, they are now experimenting with a streaming service, bringing Photoshop to Chrome.

How it works is simple: send Currently, it is limited to Google Chrome on Windows and ChromeOS. Also, the servers do not currently support GPU-acceleration, but Adobe has already announced plans for that in the future. I assume that when this is a consumer product, or shortly thereafter, it will be a fully-featured application. Who knows, maybe they will even bring the rest of their products there? "Streaming access to Photoshop with other products coming soon" ...

People may remember that I was very much against services like OnLive and Gaikai. These do the same thing as Adobe, but for video games. Being an outspoken (to the say least) supporter of art, I found this to be an unacceptable sacrifice for intrinsically valuable content. It is a terrible idea to allow a service to pull your content and replace it, especially for scholarly review in the future.

This is different. While I would always prefer a local application, and would be upset if they stopped offering those, I do not mind having a utility be served from a virtualized instance. If I was working on serious, trade-secret-level content, then I would want to avoid it. On the other hand, getting it to work in one web browser might encourage them to bring the service to all browsers.

From there, Linux and other platforms might just have a valid way to access Adobe's Suite.

Source: Adobe

SteelSeries Siberia V3 Headsets Launch

Subject: General Tech | October 1, 2014 - 07:31 PM |
Tagged: steelseries, siberia, siberia v3, prism, headphones, headset, gaming headset

My last headset was a SteelSeries Siberia V2 and it served me well. The headband was snug, in a good way, against my head and the ear cups were comfortable. Both the headphones and the microphone sounded great from my subjective listening. It died after about a year and a half, though (specifically its right speaker). Still, again, it served me well, especially considering how much usage they saw on any given day.

Now they announced a new family with four siblings, ranging from $60 up to $200 (USD).

steelseries-siberia-raw-prism_heroshot.jpg

Starting with the cheapest, the Siberia Raw Prism, we have a USB headset with a colorful glow. It has a microphone built into the left ear cup. Unlike the rest of the Siberia line (and the Siberia V2), the mic is not retractable. You cannot extend and position it in front of your mouth. It is USB-only for Windows, Mac, and PlayStation. This USB powers and controls the aforementioned "colorful glow" through their drivers, customizable to 16.8 million colors. It has a $59.99 MSRP.

steelseries-001-siberia-v3_heroshot.jpg

The next level up is the true successor to the V2, the Siberia V3. The price jumps quite a bit, to $99.99 MSRP. Like the V2, it has a retractable microphone and a snug-fitting internal headband. Also like the V2, it has two 3.5mm plugs when used with the included three-ring 3.5mm to dual 3.5mm (one headphone, one mic) plug adapter. No USB support though, at least not without an external sound card.

steelseries-siberia-v3-prism_heroshot.jpg

Which brings us to the SteelSeries V3 Prism, with an MSRP of $139.99. Instead of 3.5mm, it uses USB. I mean, how else will you control the 16.8 million colors, like the Raw. Unlike the Raw, it is a series of dots rather than a thin, circular strip. It also has a better microphone than the regular V3 (more sensitive and a wider range in frequency response - although those metrics are pretty useless when they are not charted in a graph). Again, instead of 3.5mm jacks, it uses USB. Like the Raw, you cannot connect this to a 3.5mm device. For that, you need to go up to...

steelseries-siberia-elite-prism_heroshot_black.jpg

... The SteelSeries Siberia V4 Elite ($199.99 MSRP). Surprisingly, the microphone has a lower frequency response and sensitivity than the V3 Prism but, again, that does not mean that it is worse. Its speakers have a very high sensitivity, 120 dB, which likely means that they can get loud. The connector is detachable and comes with three ends: dual-3.5mm, three-ring 3.5mm, and a USB sound card. Also included, a 6-foot USB extension cable.

The headphones are now available at the SteelSeries store.

Source: SteelSeries

Fan-made 2D Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (PC)

Subject: General Tech | October 1, 2014 - 05:32 PM |
Tagged: zelda, 2d, fan-made, gaming

Hopefully this project will neither become abandoned, like a couple of attempts before it, nor shut down by Nintendo. The Legend of Zelda: OoT2D is an unofficial, fan-made game for the PC that takes the story and design of Ocarina of Time and builds it around A Link to the Past's artistic design. The most interesting part, for me, is how they will redesign the puzzles and dungeons into a different basis. I would like to compare all three games, Ocarina of Time, A Link to the Past, and the fan-made 2D OoT remake.

zelda-oot-2d-fanmade.png

The team built their own engine for this game. To preserve the pixelation, you can use the escape key to select from one of four sizes that prevent art pixels from being spilled between physical ones, creating a blur. The UX is a bit counter-intuitive, but they offer a lot of the customization that PC gamers would love.

The game is not done yet, but a demo is provided. I tried it. It works.

Source: OoT-2D.com

KickStarter: MatchStick Is Chromecast-like with Firefox OS

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 1, 2014 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: Kickstarter, Firefox OS, web, chromecast

When Google released the Chromecast, it was a surprisingly clean solution for streaming video (my apologies if solutions existed before it). Just plug it into HDMI and connect to it with a PC or a mobile device to use the TV as monitor for content, and it is cheap. I figured that the open source community would like one of their own, but I did not think it was going to be done. Now there is a Kickstarter up, with FirefoxOS.

matchstick-firefoxos.jpg

I constantly struggle with whether to discuss crowdfunding because, on the one hand, you never know if something will tank. On the other hand, is it really any less sketchy than pre-release information for computer hardware or video games (especially pre-release news for video games)?

In this case, I found out that it was promoted by Mozilla on their Hacks blog. It is based on a Rockchip 3066 SoC with 1GB RAM, 4GB of storage and 2.4 GHz Wireless-N. As stated earlier, it runs FirefoxOS which means that apps are websites. The SoC has a Mali-400 GPU that is capable of OpenGL ES 2.0, so it might even be able to support WebGL if the software and drivers are certified. Don't expect jaw-dropping 3D graphics, though. The GPU is rated at about 9 GFLOPs. For comparison, the Tegra K1 has a peak compute throughput of about 365 GFLOPs; alternatively, it is fairly close to later-model Intel GMA graphics (not Intel HD Graphics... GMA). Still, it might allow for some interesting 2D (or simplistic 3D) games.

Just a day-or-so in, it is already at over 150% funding.

Source: Kickstarter

Ancient Space doesn't uncover much that is new

Subject: General Tech | October 1, 2014 - 02:26 PM |
Tagged: gaming, ancient space, letdown

It seems that Ancient Space is not quite living up to the hype surrounding the cast of Sci-Fi stars and Homeworld like appearance.  From what Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN found the story was lacklustre even with recognizable voices and while the gameplay was enjoyable it was lacking that brilliance which made Homeworld so memorable.  It is a beautiful game and it does actually have some new features like Captains which can be swapped to give different buffs to your ships but overall they were a bit let down.  You can grab it on Steam but you might want to consider some of the Homeworld and Homeworld 2 mods to tide you over until the remastered versions are released.

If you do find a mod you like you might be able to talk one or more of the Fragging Frogs into playing a game with you, otherwise keep an eye on their Forum for the games they will be playing this week.

aspace3.jpg

"That’s not to say Ancient Space is a terrible game: it’s actually not ever bad in any dramatic sense, it just doesn’t do anything particularly exciting. It’s disappointing. Beautiful, but disappointing. There’s your three word summary."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Introducing the all new Dynamic Super Resolution Duo!

Subject: General Tech | October 1, 2014 - 01:09 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, maxwell, GTX 980, GTX 970, GM204, geforce, dx12, dsr

Move over Super Best Friends, the Dynamic Super Resolution Duo is here to slay the evil Jaggies!  Ryan covered NVIDIA's new DSR in his review of the new Maxwell cards and how it can upsample a monitor with a resolution of 2560x1440 or lower to much higher resolutions using a process similar to supersampling but is in fact a 13-tap gaussian filter.  That is important because supersampling would have some interesting challenges rendering 2560x1440 on a 1080p monitor.  DSR gives you a much wider choice of resolutions as you can see in the Guild Wars screenshot below, allowing you to choose a variety of multipliers to your displays native resolution to give your game a much smoother look.   The Tech Report has assembled a variety of screenshots from games with different DSR and AA settings which you can examine with your own eyeballs to see what you think.

gw2-resolutions.jpg

"One of the more intriguing capabilities Nvidia introduced with the GeForce GTX 970 and 980 is a feature called Dynamic Super Resolution, or DSR, for short. Nvidia bills it as a means of getting 4K quality on a 2K display. How good is it? We take a look."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Microsoft Introduces Windows 10 to the Enterprise

Subject: General Tech | September 30, 2014 - 11:46 PM |
Tagged: windows 9, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, windows 10, windows, threshold, microsoft

The Windows event for the enterprise, which took place today in San Francisco, revealed the name of the upcoming OS. It is not Windows 9, or One Windows, or just Windows. It will be Windows 10. Other than the name, there is not really any new information from a feature or announcement standpoint (except the Command Prompt refresh that I actually will give a brief mention later). My interest comes from their mindset with this new OS -- what they are changing and what they seem to be sticking with.

If you would like Microsoft's commentary before reading mine, the keynote is embed above.

Okay, so one thing that was shown is "Continuum". If you have not seen its prototype at the end of the above video, it is currently a small notification that appears when a keyboard and mouse is attached (or detached). If a user accepts, this will flip the user interface between tablet and desktop experiences. Joe Belfiore was clear that the video clip was not yet in code, but represents their vision. In practice, it will have options for whether to ask the user or to automatically do some chosen behavior.

windows-10-continuum.jpg

In a way, you could argue that it was necessary to go through Windows 8.x to get to this point. From the demonstrations, the interface looks sensible and a landing point for users on both Windows 7 and Windows 8 paths. That said, I was fine with the original Windows 8 interface, barring a few glitches, like disappearing icons and snapping sidebars on PCs with multiple monitors. I always considered the "modern" Windows interface to be... acceptable.

It was the Windows Store certification that kept me from upgrading, and Microsoft's current stance is confusing at the very least. Today's announcement included the quote, "Organizations will also be able to create a customized store, curating store experiences that can include their choice of Store apps alongside company-owned apps into a separate employee store experience." Similar discussion was brought up and immediately glossed over during the keynote.

Who does that even apply to? Would a hobbyist developer be able to set up a repository for friends and family? Or is this relegated to businesses, leaving consumers to accept nothing more than what Microsoft allows? The concern is that I do not want Microsoft (or anyone) telling me what I can and cannot create and install on my devices. Once you build censorship, the crazies will come. They usually do.

windows-10.png

But onto more important things: Command Prompt had a major UX overhaul. Joe Belfiore admitted that it was mostly because most important changes were already leaked and reported on, and they wanted to surprise us with something. They sure did. You can now use typical keyboard shortcuts, shift to select, ctrl+c and ctrl+v to copy/paste, and so forth. The even allow a transparency option, which is common in other OSes to make its presence less jarring. Rather than covering over what you're doing, it makes it feel more like it overlays on top of it, especially for quick commands. At least, that is my opinion.

Tomorrow, October 1st, Microsoft will launch their "Windows Inside Program". This will give a very early glimpse at the OS for "most enthusiastic Windows fans" who are "comfortable running pre-release software that will be of variable quality". They "plan to share all the features (they) are experimenting with". They seem to actually want user feedback, a sharp contrast from their Windows 8 technical preview. My eye will on relaxing certification requirements, obviously.

Source: Microsoft