Trade Windows for Linux on your HTPC without losing Netflix

Subject: General Tech | September 5, 2014 - 09:35 AM |
Tagged: linux, wine, htpc, Netflix, ubuntu 14.04

As with all things Linux, nothing is impossible but that doesn't mean it will be easy but compared to many projects the steps at Linux.com to set up Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Deepin  to run Netflix are not overly onerous.  By following the steps in the article you can get Wine, Mono, msttcorefonts and Gecko installed and then continue on to install Netflix and in very little time you will be streaming videos.  There is another way for the more experimental and seasoned Linux user, with the latest beta or dev build of Chrome an updated libnss3 and a little tweaking of your browsers user agent string you can also launch the latest version of Netflix.  Enjoy your streaming.

netflix1.jpg

"This is Linux, though, so as always the adage ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way’ very much applies. With just a few quick steps, you can have a Netflix client on your desktop. This client does require the installation of the following extras:"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Linux.com

Clearing up the confusion around ASUS' LGA2011-3 OC sockets

Subject: General Tech | September 4, 2014 - 11:17 AM |
Tagged: X99, Haswell-E, asus

KitGuru got in touch with Intel to confirm that the ASUS OC Socket present on their X99 boards will not in any way void the warranty on the processor.  What ASUS has done is activate several pins which were only intended to be used by Intel when verifying that a chip is functioning properly.  The pins will allow overclockers to bump the default voltage of Haswell-E processors from their default of 1.2V all the way to 2.1V – 2.2V.  Running a processor at those voltages without proper cooling will not only likely void your warranty but also fry the chip so as always, overclock at your own risk ... and pleasure.

box-socket.jpg

"Asustek Computer on Wednesday clarified the situation with its custom LGA2011-3 O.C. sockets as well as warranty that covers Intel Corp.’s processors. The mainboard maker denied that Intel’s warranty does not cover chips used with O.C. sockets and stated that the sockets are absolutely safe to use. A new statement by Intel confirms Asus’ claims"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: KitGuru

Podcast #316 - Haswell-E Review, New AMD FX Processors, Radeon R9 285 and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 4, 2014 - 10:58 AM |
Tagged: podcast, video, Haswell-E, 5960X, 5820K, amd, fx 8370, 8370e, 9590, r9 285, X99, western digital, my passport wireless, netgear, Matrox, r9 295x2

PC Perspective Podcast #316 - 09/04/2014

Join us this week as we discuss our Haswell-E Review, New AMD FX Processors, Radeon R9 285 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

Program length: 1:32:43
 

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

 

AMD's Dropping the R9 295X2 Price to $999 USD

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 3, 2014 - 06:28 PM |
Tagged: amd, R9, r9 295x2, price cut

amd-r9-295x2-gigabyte.jpg

While not fully in effect yet, AMD is cutting $500 off of the R9 295X2 price tag to $999 USD. Currently, there are two models available on Newegg USA at the reduced price, and one at Amazon for $1200. We expect to see other SKUs reduce soon, as well. This puts the water-cooled R9 295X2 just below the cost of two air-cooled R9 290X graphics cards.

If you were interested in this card, now might be the time (if one of the reduced units are available).

Source: Newegg

MINIX Neo Z64 Is x86-64 and $129

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 3, 2014 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: fanless, htpc, windows, Android

Because fanless and cheap PCs are awesome, MINIX is launching the Neo Z64. Priced at $129 USD, it will contain an Intel Atom Z3635F SoC with 2GB of DDR3L and 32GB of eMMC internal storage. The device will ship loaded with Android 4.4.4 (KitKat) but is compatible with Windows 8.1, if you have a license for it.

minix-neo-z64.jpg

Externally, the device features a microSD card slot (maximum size not specified), one 10/100Mbps Ethernet port, two USB 2.0 ports, an IR receiver (with remote), and HDMI 1.4. Note that HDMI is the only audio outputs on this device, which could be tricky if you want to run it as something other than a home theater PC (if you do not have a USB sound card that is compatible with your chosen OS). Lastly, it also has 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless support.

This is still a significant price premium over some other devices, like a Roku, but could be useful for some. The lack of any SteamOS mention is a bit disconcerting, given that the free OS could be applied to turn the device into an In-Home Streaming target (or host of simple, Linux-compatible games, like Super Meat Boy). Hopefully, future products will consider Valve's home theater platform.

The MINIX Neo Z64 will be available in October for $129.

Source: FanlessTech

Matrox Creates Professional Graphics Cards with AMD GPUs

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 3, 2014 - 03:15 PM |
Tagged: Matrox, firepro, cape verde xt gl, cape verde xt, cape verde, amd

Matrox, along with S3, develop GPU ASICs for use with desktop add-in boards, alongside AMD and NVIDIA. Last year, they sold less than 7000 units in their quarter according to my math (rounding to 0.0% market share implies < 0.05% of total market, which was 7000 units that quarter). Today, Matrox Graphics Inc. announce that they will use an AMD GPU on their upcoming product line.

Matrox-AMD-Logos-Image.jpg

While they do not mention a specific processor, they note that "the selected AMD GPU" will be manufactured at a 28nm process with 1.5 billion transistors. It will support DirectX 11.2, OpenGL 4.4, and OpenCL 1.2. It will have a 128-bit memory bus.

Basically, it kind-of has to be Cape Verde XT (or XT GL) unless it is a new, unannounced GPU.

If it is Cape Verde XT, it would have about 1.0 to 1.2 TFLOPs of single precision performance (depending on the chosen clock rate). Whatever clock rate is chosen, the chip contains 640 shader processors. It was first released in February 2012 with the Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition. Again, this is assuming that AMD will not release a GPU refresh for that category.

Matrox will provide their PowerDesk software to configure multiple monitors. It will work alongside AMD's professional graphics drivers. It is a sad that to see a GPU ASIC manufacturer throw in the towel, at least temporarily, but hopefully they can use AMD's technology to remain in the business with competitive products. Who knows: maybe they will make a return when future graphics APIs reduce the burden of driver and product development?

Source: Matrox

Blizzard's New Battle.net Launcher Feels Slick...

Subject: General Tech | September 3, 2014 - 12:31 AM |
Tagged: blizzard, battle.net

There has been a new Battle.net launcher in the works for quite some time now, about thirteen months. Blizzard is finally rolling it out to users of StarCraft II. Loading up the game a couple of days ago, I was transitioned to the new system. I must say: it looks and feels pretty slick.

blizzard-battlenet-real01.jpg

First, the main pages have a glass-like blur atop a background image for its window chrome. It has a borderless window style with a simple, one-pixel frame. When focused, it lights up a little central region at the top, rather than an entire strip of it. Personally, I find that this looks a little bit better than even Steam's most recent update -- but that is just being picky. Blizzard definitely thought about how it would look, and it shows.

The games are currently limited to World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, and Hearthstone. This leaves the shop quite limited, except for a few in-game mounts, pets, and services attached to WoW. Beyond the store, the layout is definitely intuitive and clean, despite only playing StarCraft II. And who knows, it might encourage me to branch out a little bit (but probably not).

blizzard-battlenet-01.jpg

The app is also designed to function as a messenger client. When playing StarCraft II, I found it quite weird to have a chat and instant messenger client built into each of their games, which needed to be running for it to be useful. Obviously, it is much easier to have Battle.net run in the background 24/7 than, say, Diablo III or StarCraft II, so this should make their messenger application more useful. This is a fairly obvious statement. The part that feels weird is how it doesn't seem to integrate with any of the game's chatrooms. I would have expected that I could interact with the chat groups of Blizzard's various games, but that is not that case. It seems like I still need to launch into StarCraft II, or whatever, to go about doing that. This, as stated, feels weird... almost like they have not got around to it yet.

Blizzard's new Battle.net launcher is available for download basically the next time you launch StarCraft II.

Source: Blizzard

Steam Adds App Types: Film, TV, Video, Plugin, and Music

Subject: General Tech | September 2, 2014 - 10:50 PM |
Tagged: steam os, steam, htpc

In a recent Steam Beta update, Valve added a few new entries to its EAppType structure. Previously, the options were invalid, game, application, tool, demo, media, DLC, guide, driver, config, shortcut, and "depotonly". The recent update adds five new ones: film, TV series, video, plugin, and music.

Steam-eapp-additions.png

These additions could mean that Steam is intending to distribute film, TV, video, plugins, and music; alternatively, it could just allow users to integrate existing catalogs into the same interface. Of course, this is coming from someone with just about zero knowledge of Steam's internal structure. Someone who is more familiar with Steam might be able to say that I am stupid and this specific enum structure is only used the interface with the catalog or the store. I do not know.

What I am confident in saying is that Valve is serious about making Steam a full home theater PC platform. At LinuxCon, prior to the announcement of SteamOS, Gabe Newell discussed the family ownership (and sharing) of music and movie libraries right alongside his discussion of video games. Whether they want to deal with media company relations is a different story, however.

But let's not get too caught up in media for a second. What is a "plugin"?

This entry was what really caught my eye. Could Valve be designing a plugin architecture for the Steam client? Its built in web browser (or third-party browsers if Valve allows)? Or could it be a method of delivering user content for other apps on their system (similar to how DLC has its own type). If it is a Steam Client or SteamOS plugin, what would that even entail? I am definitely curious.

NVIDIA Announces GAME24: Global PC Gaming Event

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | September 2, 2014 - 02:51 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, game24, pc gaming

At 6PM PDT on September 18th, 2014, NVIDIA and partners will be hosting GAME24. The evemt will start at that time, all around the world, and finish 24 hours later. The three main event locations are Los Angeles, California, USA; London, England; and Shanghai, China. Four, smaller events will be held in Chicago, Illinois, USA; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Mission Viejo, California, USA; and Stockholm, Sweden. It will also be live streamed on the official website.

nvidia-game24-2014.png

Registration and attendance is free. If you will be in the area and want to join, sign up. Registration closes an hour before the event, but it is first-come-first-serve. Good luck. Have fun. Good game.

Source: NVIDIA

NETGEAR Announces Nighthawk X4 AC2350 Router

Subject: General Tech, Networking | September 2, 2014 - 05:31 AM |
Tagged: nighthawk x4, netgear, mu-mimo, 802.11ac

Today, NETGEAR has announced the Nighthawk X4 802.11ac router. It is dual-band, with up to 1733 Mbps of bandwidth (four channels of 433 Mbps) on 5.0 GHz and up to 600 Mbps (three channels of 200 Mbps) on 2.4 GHz. Compared to the Nighthawk X6, released earlier in the year, the X4 is design for fewer users who demand more performance.

netgear-nighthawkx4-01.jpg

The first thing that stood out for me was its processor...s. The router contains two of them. Its main CPU is a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon-based (Update - Sept 2nd @ 5:20pm EDT: "Snapdragon-based" is unclear and misleading. It has "Snapdragon DNA with dual Krait cores". It is from their Qualcomm Internet Processors (IPQ) line, as mentioned in the following sentence.) ARM processor, clocked at 1.4 GHz. It is from their Qualcomm Internet Processors (IPQ) line, so it is not directly comparable to an SoC from their mobile line-up. NETGEAR also added a second, dualcore processor, clocked at 500 MHz, that is dedicated to deal with WiFi-related tasks as an "offload".

The reason why I found this interesting was that, not too many years ago, routers did not advertise their processor and RAM. There was once a niche who would create their own routers out of old PCs and an x86-compatible firmware (like OpenWRT). The push was to cheap routers with high bandwidth ratings. When I asked NETGEAR at what point did the industry decide to take the internal hardware seriously, their response was that about 73% of customers are repeat buyers. They upgraded their router because they were not happy with the performance that they were getting. Users have changed. HD video is going to numerous devices all over the home at the same time as games and downloads do their thing. The extra performance is necessary to keep the potential bandwidth in line with its usage.

netgear-nighthawkx4-02.png

One feature about this router that NETGEAR was promoting is Dynamic QoS. Using the extra processing power, mentioned in the two paragraphs above, the device identifies applications and allocates bandwidth accordingly. One example that they gave is YouTube versus Netflix. While both stream, Netflix will only grab what it needs while YouTube will load as quickly as possible to buffer ahead. If resources are tight, and Netflix is attempting to coexist with YouTube at any given time, the router will throttle the YouTube stream to provide it with at least enough bandwidth to stream, but not buffer, like, ten times faster than real time and choke out Netflix into a lower bit rate. If necessary, it will also prioritize the larger screen (TV) with the higher bit rate Netflix connection, where it will be more noticeable (than the smaller screen of a tablet, for instance).

And yes, QoS has been present in routers for more than a dog's age. They claim that it is typically a feature that users turn on, dislike, then turn right back off again. They believe that their new implementation will actually win you over.

netgear-nighthawkx4-03.jpg

The router will also feature two USB 3.0 ports and an eSATA connection. It will allow networked PC backup to an external hard drive and streaming media (photos, music, and videos) to TVs by DLNA.

The NETGEAR Nighthawk X4 AC2350 (R7500) is available now for $279.99.

Source: NETGEAR