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.

en-intl_l_surface_winrt_64gb_7zr-00002_mnco.jpg

"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."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

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.

starships2.jpg

"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."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

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.

index.png

"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."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

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.

Razer-Blade-2015-front.jpg

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.

Razer-Blade-2015-side.jpg

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

No shiny new Microsoft server OS this year

Subject: General Tech | February 3, 2015 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, server, operating system, sccm

There will be no Server 2015 release but sometime later in the year a preview version will be released for those wishing to have a peek at the new OS.  We will see an update to SCCM arrive at roughly the same time as Windows 10 is released which will add support for managing Win10 machines and images and will allow a lot of sysadmins to sleep easier at night.  The expected new features for the new server OS include the Docker image file format and containerization allowing you to run multiple programs on the same machine which are completely separated from each other and will be new to the Windows environment.  Check out a short list of other features and a link to a more indepth look at the new containerization features expected from the new server OS at The Register.

docker_windows_server.png

"While it's looking like the final version of Windows 10 for client PCs could ship before the end of the year, it seems data center admins needn't hold their breaths. Microsoft confirmed on Friday that the next version of Windows Server won't arrive until 2016."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Windows 10 Will Run on the Raspberry Pi 2 - and the OS Is Free for IoT Developers

Subject: General Tech | February 2, 2015 - 10:40 AM |
Tagged: windows 10, Raspberry Pi, microsoft, iot, developers

Microsoft has announced that a version of Windows 10 will not only run on the Raspberry Pi 2, but that the OS will be available free of charge to members of its IoT (Internet of Things) developer program.

Win10_RP2.png

Microsoft made this announcement on their Dev Center website:

We’re excited to announce that we are expanding our Windows Developer Program for IoT by delivering a version of Windows 10 that supports Raspberry Pi 2. This release of Windows 10 will be free for the Maker community through the Windows Developer Program for IoT.

Windows 10 is the first step to an era of more personal computing. This vision framed our work on Windows 10, where we are moving Windows to a world that is more mobile, natural and grounded in trust. With the Windows for IoT developer program we're bringing our leading development tools, services and ecosystem to the Raspberry Pi community!

We see the Maker community as an amazing source of innovation for smart, connected devices that represent the very foundation for the next wave of computing, and we’re excited to be a part of this community.

We are excited about our partnership with the Raspberry Pi Foundation and delivering a version of Windows 10 that supports Raspberry Pi 2, and we will be sharing more details about our Windows 10 plans for IoT in the coming months.

The Raspberry Pi 2 is currently selling for $35, and runs a 900MHz quad-core ARMv7 processor with 1GB of RAM. They offer their own statement on the linked page as well:

For the last six months we've been working closely with Microsoft to bring the forthcoming Windows 10 to Raspberry Pi 2. Microsoft will have much more to share over the coming months. The Raspberry Pi 2-compatible version of Windows 10 will be available free of charge to makers.

Though Microsoft has effectively killed WinRT after revealing that it would not be upgraded to Windows 10, the support for the ARM-powered Pi demonstrates that the upcoming version of Windows still has more than just potential to run on ARM devices. This only makes sense considering the strategy of unifying Windows with a single version, and it is possible that the fork available for the Pi is more akin to mobile than to the desktop variant. Either way it sounds like it's worth the $35 to find out!

Source: Microsoft

Because Reinstalling the OS Is Quicker than Decrapifying

Subject: General Tech | February 2, 2015 - 03:19 AM |
Tagged: windows, OEM, microsoft, crapware

Advertising is a powerful business model, and is there any better medium than demos that are directly embedded inside your users' systems? Yes. Yes there are. That is actually a terrible idea. Why would you do that? Oh. Right. Money. You know what? Fine. If it lowers the cost of commodity devices, then it is not entirely horrendous. Advanced users should have some method of opting-out, though.

Sure enough, Microsoft might have made that possible.

Windows8loseall.png

Paul Thurrott has compiled a little article that describes what you need to do to get clean installation media for your device. The procedure is fairly simple for Windows 8.1, although the Digital River download links for Windows 7 are good to know. The post is really more of a checklist to make sure you have your ducks in a row before attempting. Probably the most important advice (besides BACK UP!) is, especially if this is your only internet-capable device, make sure you have functioning network drivers. Also, if you have Windows 8.1 with Bing... sorry, you're stuck. Also, sorry in general.

Otherwise? Congratulations! You're now an enthusiast. Actually enjoy Windows.

Source: Thurrott.com

Here There Be Dragons (and "Four Horsemen")

Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2015 - 11:56 PM |
Tagged: x-plane, programming, development

“The Hacks of Life” is a blog from some developers at Laminar Research, which created the X-Plane franchise. Ben Supnik, the company's graphics lead, wrote an interesting and fairly lengthy blog post about optimizing for software performance, and it applies to more than just games.

optimization.jpg

In software development, the typical concept is: “write it, then profile it and fix what needs it”. This comes from the fear that developers will spend the majority of their time fixing the wrong problems. A profiler can tell you the chunks of code that hogs resources when you experience stutter, hitches, or hangs. They can also tell you how much of your overall performance is being used by specific parts of your application. These places have the most room for optimization, which allows you to budget more time for them. If you squeeze even a 100x performance increase out of code that runs for a tiny fraction of a millisecond per frame, then you spent all that time recovering at most a tiny fraction of a millisecond. All of that time could have been spent even doubling the performance of an 8ms effect, saving you 4 whole milliseconds per frame, which is the difference between 50 FPS and 60 FPS.

What I get from Ben's post is that, while not all of your code needs to run well, you cannot skip the design phase. The profiler can end up being an excuse to charge blindly into development. In a construction analogy, there is a difference between creating blueprints for your entire life, and building a house without any plans -- but that's okay, we can cut holes in the drywall if we need more windows and doors.

It's an interesting post, and is the eventual result of mantras being taken too literally.

MediaTek MT6753 64-bit Eight-Core SoC Announced

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | February 1, 2015 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: mt6753, mediatek

We do not talk about MediaTek's higher-end products too often. Part of that is because they use stock architectures, ARM's Cortex CPU, ARM's Mali GPU, and Imagination Technologies' PowerVR GPU, rather than designing their own CPU and/or GPU portion. Likewise, their design wins are also not covered too much on this site, such as the new Amazon Fire HD tablets, for their own reasons. They still make some interesting chips, though.

mediatek-soc-roadmap-2015.jpg

Image Credit: A Weibo user via GSM-Arena

The MediaTek MT6753 is a true eight-core, 64-bit ARM SoC. Its press release makes the rest of its details... confusing. The release claims that it is clocked at 1.5 GHz and contains an ARM Mali-T720 GPU that is capable of OpenGL ES 3.0 and OpenCL 1.2. The ARM Mali-T720 is actually capable of OpenGL ES 3.1 and OpenCL 1.1. This leads some sites to report that the MT6753 actually contains a Mali-T760, which is newer and can utilize OpenGL ES 3.1 and OpenCL 1.2 (it is also used in the MT6752 that was released several months ago). Other sites report what MediaTek claims.

GSM-Arena, one site that claims the (more-sensible) Mali-T760, also claims that the Cortex CPU cores can be clocked up to 1.7 GHz. This might not be inaccurate either, because it could be intended to run at ~1.3 to 1.5 GHz with a 1.7 GHz peak for vendors that want to take it to eleven. Alternatively, they could be wrong and it could peak at 1.5 GHz. We don't know, and MediaTek should be more clear about these important details.

Everyone seems to agree on the chip's networking capability, though. It will directly support LTE protocols for both China and western markets. This is expected to make them more competitive against Qualcomm, which might lead to more interesting designs.

Devices containing the MT6753 are expected to ship next quarter.

Source: MediaTek

Aorus enters the keyboard battle armed with the Thunder K7

Subject: General Tech | January 30, 2015 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: input, aoris, thunder k7, mechanical keyboard, cherry mx red

Aorus is expanding the mechanical keyboard market with their Thunder K7 which uses Cherry MX Red switches and has a removable numpad which you can attach to the left or right of the board, or completely separated from the main board if you so desire.  The 20 keys on the numpad can all be programmed with macros, to help you copy and paste the UbiSoft game keys given away during our podcasts.  The brightness of the keyboards backlighting can be adjusted with the wheel located at the top of the keyboard and the numpad as well.  Modders-Inc found themselves liking this board, you can read about it right here.

DSC_4185.jpg

"What do you look for in a keyboard? Do you look for items such as mechanical switches, dedicated macro keys, and LED backlighting? Do you want silent keys or loud keys? There are plenty of keyboards on the market with more features than you can shake a stick at. Some are useful, while others are gimmicky."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Modders Inc