Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Logitech

Logitech Focuses in on Gaming

Logitech has been around seemingly forever.  The Swiss based company is ubiquitous in the peripherals market, providing products ranging from keyboards and mice, to speakers and headsets.  There is not much that the company does not offer when it comes to PC peripherals.  Their 3 button mice back in the day were considered cutting edge that also happened to be semi-programmable.  Since that time we have seen them go from ball mice, to optical mice, to the latest laser based products that offer a tremendous amount of precision.

g230_01.jpg

Gaming has become one of the bigger movers for Logitech, and they have revamped their entire lineup as well as added a few new products to hopefully cash in on the popularity of modern gaming.  To further address this market Logitech has designed and marketed a new batch of gaming headsets.  These promise to be moderately priced, but high quality products that bear the Logitech name.  We go from the very basic up to the top 7.1 wireless products.  Originally these covered a pretty significant price range, but lately the discounts have been extremely deep.  The lowest end gaming headset is at $40US while the 7.1 wireless model comes in around $90 US. 

I am looking at two models today that span the lowest end to the 2nd highest.  The first headset is the G230 analog set.  The second is the G35 wired 7.1 USB with Dolby Headphone technology.  I have never been a fan of wireless headphones, but the G35 should be a fairly good approximation of the performance of that part.

g35_01.jpg

My goal is to look at these two wired units and see what Logitech can offer at these two very affordable price points.

Click here to read the entire Logitech G230 and G35 review!

$110 Intel Compute Stick With Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Coming Soon

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2015 - 04:21 PM |
Tagged: Z3735F, ubuntu 14.04, SFF, linux, Intel, compute stick

Intel is giving Linux some love with a new Compute Stick equipped with Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS coming out this week for $110. This new model comes with less RAM and intrernal storage along with a $40 price cut versus the previous Compute Stick (which comes with Windows 8.1 With Bing). 

On the outside, the new Linux-equipped Compute Stick (STCK1A8LFC) is identical to the existing SKU (read our review here) with its flash drive form factor, Intel logo, and small vents along the top and sides. Ports on the Intel STCK1A8LFC include one HDMI, one Micro USB port for power, one Micro SD card slot for storage, and a single full size USB 2.0 port for peripherals.

Intel Compute Stick STCK1A8LFC With Ubuntu 14.png

The Compute Stick is powered by an Intel Z3735F processor that is actively cooled by a tiny fan. This chip is a 22nm Bay Trail part with four CPU cores and Intel HD Graphics. The CPU has a base clock of 1.33 GHz and a maximum turbo clockspeed of 1.83 GHz. This SoC is paired with 1GB of DDR3L memory and 8GB of internal flash eMMC storage. There is also an 802.11b/g/n wireless radio with Bluetooth. The table below compares these specifications to the alternative Compute Stick with Windows.

  Compute Stick (Ubuntu) Compute Stick (Windows)
CPU Z3735F Z3735F
RAM 1 GB 2 GB
Storage 8 GB 32 GB
Price $110 $150
Model # STCK1A8LFC STCK1A32WFC

The STCK1A8LFC with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS will be available later this week from all the usual online retailers with an MSRP of $110.

It would have been nice to keep the 2GB of RAM even if Intel could not cut the price as much. There is always Micro SD for more stoage, but the 1GB of RAM is going to be somewhat limiting even for a Linux OS which typically can be made to run much leaner than Windows. It is nice to see Linux getting a design win and being bundled with the portable PC. If you need more RAM from your Compute Stick, you will need to buy the more expensive Windows version – at $150 – and install Linux yourself, however.

Source: Intel

Intel's clock is not just skipping a beat, it is definitely getting slower

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2015 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: kaby lake, Skylake, Cannonlake, Intel, delay

Last week Scott shared all that we can find out about Kaby Lake, Intel's asynchronous Tock between Skylake and Cannonlake.  Don't hold your breath for their release, nor for Cannonlake if DigiTimes sources are accurate.  If true, consumers will not see Kaby Lake for at least a year with enterprise waiting even longer which will push back the scheduled release of notebooks and PCs using the processors likely not showing up for a month or so afterwards.  Skylake should be finally appearing in time for Fall and in theory products using it should be available at that time as Skylake's delay was the initial cause of these delays.  As for Cannonlake; it is going to be a while.

intel-tick-tock.png

"Following the delay of Skylake processors, Intel's next-generation Kaby Lake processors, which were originally scheduled for early 2016, reportedly will be pushed back until September 2016 for the consumer version and January 2017 for the enterprise one."

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Source: DigiTimes

Final Fantasy XIV for Mac Sales Pulled Temporarily. PC's Fine.

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2015 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: square enix, pc gaming, mac os x, final fantasy xiv, final fantasy

When Final Fantasy 14 launched on the PC, it was plagued with bugs and gameplay problems. It led to Square basically remaking the game and relaunching it as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. The relaunch was highly successful, as Square learned from their inexperience with the PC. They recently decided to expand to the Mac alongside the release of their new expansion pack, Heavensward, for the PC. The published system requirements for the Mac version were later retracted by Square... and you can see where this is going.

They have since temporarily pulled game sales and offered full refunds. The game will go back on sale when they update “information on the product, system requirements, and screen resolution”.

square-2015-ff14-mac-cards.jpg

The Mac will get the MMO, but Noctis time. Ignis wasn't in the cards.

I guess you could say they'll get on it Prompto? Yes I know I'm punning the wrong title...

In the forum post, Square lists a few reasons for the error. First, a handful of customers were accidentally provided a pre-release build ahead of the official launch, due to a “miscommunication with retailers”. As mentioned though, the official release had performance issues and Square blames that on OpenGL and how it tied into their project. They claim that Final Fantasy 14 developed for Mac OSX's implementation of OpenGL would perform 30% worse than Microsoft's DirectX counterpart. They quickly clarify that OpenGL is not 30% slower than DirectX, but that factor applies to OpenGL on Mac, DirectX on Windows, and specifically for Final Fantasy 14.

An interesting note is that Square claims to have outlined several system requirement candidates, and was waiting on QA and final engineering to “select the correct one”. Yikes. Talking about software coming in hot, they did not even know their target hardware until into the shipping process, if you take their word at face value.

Square intends to ship a functional Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn to OSX at some point.

Source: Square Enix

Faster than fast ring; Windows 10 RTM spotted?

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2015 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, rtm, build 10176

Windows Insider members are currently on 10162, the third release in four days.  This new release offers you a chance to download an ISO to test a completely fresh install although you can install it as an in place update as well.  The new version also allows you to buy WiFi from the Microsoft Store as well, you may start to see WiFi networks in the USA and perhaps North America wide which you will be able to connect to after buying time and perhaps data from the Microsoft Store. 

We've also heard rumours via Slashdot that build 10176 will be the RTM version which may be sent out as soon as Thursday.  This implies that there will not be many changes to the new OS between now and the release date, as providing differing versions to the manufacturers and current customers would not be a good business decision.  As well, if purchasers of new hardware will form a very negative opinion if they have to go through a long series of updates simply to be able to use their new machine.  Ready or not, Windows 10 is just about ready to go.

windows_10_rtm_signoff-600x450.jpg

"Mark Wilson reports that the first RTM candidate for Windows 10 has been spotted: build 10176. Leaks and sources have suggested the company intends to finalize the operating system later this week, perhaps as early as July 9th. This would give Microsoft almost three weeks to distribute it to retailers and devicemakers before the July 29th launch date."

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Source: Slashdot

Almost NoScript Exploits Whitelist Vulnerabilities

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2015 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: noscript, javascript, firefox

I do not really believe in disabling JavaScript, although the ability to control or halt execution would be nice, but you can use an extension to remove it entirely if you want. I say this because the upcoming story talks about vulnerabilities in the NoScript extension, which locks down JavaScript and other, non-static content. By “vulnerabilities”, we mean the ability to execute JavaScript, which every major browser vendor defaults on because they consider it safe for their users on its own.

NoScript.png

This is like a five-year-old figuring out how to unlock a fireworks case full of paper crackers.

Regardless, there are two vulnerabilities, both of which have already been updated. Both of them take advantage of the whitelist functionality to ignore malicious code. By default, NoScript trusts a handful of domains, because blocking every script ever would break too much of the internet.

The first problem is that the whitelist has a little cruft, some of which including domain names that are useless, and even some that have expired into the public domain for sale. To prove a point, Matthew Bryant purchased zendcdn.net and used it to serve his own JavaScript. The second problem is similar, but slightly different. Rather than finding a domain that expired, it found some whitelist entries, such as googleapis.com, that had sub-domains, storage.googleapis.com, which is a service that accepts untrusted user scripts (it is part of Google's Cloud Platform).

Again, even though JavaScript is about as secure as you can get in an executable language, you should be allowed to control what executes on your machine. As stated, NoScript has already addressed these issues in a recent update.

My Take on July 29th Reservations

Subject: General Tech | July 5, 2015 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

A couple of days ago, Paul Thurrott wrote an editorial about Microsoft's Windows 10 reservation system. His point was that, while Microsoft claimed users of Windows 7 or 8.1 could upgrade on July 29th, they might not get it until later. Upgrades will start rolling out on the 29th of July, but the actual queue is expected to take several days. According to Microsoft's blog post, which shows blatant disrespect for the Oxford Comma, “Each day of the roll-out, we will listen, learn and update the experience for all Windows 10 users.”

windowsupdate.png

Paul linked this backtrack to an episode of Seinfeld, one where Jerry reserves a rental car; his reservation was held, but a car was not. He stated that the availability date was clearly stated as July 29th, and not everyone will get it then. I can see his point, and I agree with it. Microsoft really should provide what they claim on the date that they claim it.

On the other hand, it is possible that Microsoft saw the whole reservation system as reserving your spot in line. That is, it might be that upgrade requests will be processed in reservation order, at least mostly, when devices are available. I imagine a “take a number” system where slots will be assigned for anyone below a threshold that increases as upgrades are fulfilled. Again, this is hypothetical, but I cannot really see any other reason for a reservation system in the first place, apart from pure marketing.

Either way, some may need to wait until after July 29th to experience Windows 10, and Microsoft botched their announcement.

Source: Thurrott.com

Microsoft Releases Several Windows 10 Builds This Week

Subject: General Tech | July 5, 2015 - 04:20 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

Early this week, Microsoft released a pair of new builds into the Windows Insider Fast Ring. Back to back, Build 10158 was released on Monday and 10159 followed it on Tuesday. These two updates fixed several hundred bugs, officially branded Project Spartan as Microsoft Edge, introduced the new default wallpaper to the desktop and lock screen, and tweaked a few more interface elements since 10130. After an uneventful Wednesday, Build 10162 arrived on Thursday with ISOs released later that evening, which was great for me because I couldn't get the build through Windows Update. Sad face.

windows-10.png

I was a Slow Ring user for the last few releases, and I honestly intend to continue with that pace going forward. This is my production machine, but switching to Fast was tempting in hopes that the new build would fix the few problems that I had. Namely, StarCraft II was flickering terribly since 10074 when played in windowed mode. Thankfully, StarCraft II can reliably alt+tab without crashing, but it excludes playing a slow-paced Arcade mod in another monitor while doing something else. Mount & Blade: Warband had similar issues, especially when the monitor and game are set to 120 Hz. It seems to be just DirectX 9 titles, too. Either way, they are still unfixed for me. Some of our viewers may want to know my experience.

microsoft-2015-windows-10-10159-upgrade.png

The first thing that I noticed was a seemingly new upgrade screen between asking to reboot and actually rebooting. This was something that I only remember experiencing with Windows Updates, not whole new Windows builds. Perhaps this was a big one for some reason? It did try to install an anti-malware definition alongside it, so maybe it was just a weird interaction between Windows Update and the Windows 10 in-place build upgrade. Maybe it's something new though.

microsoft-2015-windows-10-10159-lock.jpg

The lock screen is the next obvious change. It contains the new Windows branding that was announced a couple of weeks ago. The slanted window was made out of glass, fog, and projected light. Even though it fits the previous branding, Microsoft made a big deal out of it.

The major change occurs once logged in. Microsoft Edge is no longer referred to as “Project Spartan”, and it is basically a full-fledged web browser now. Its performance is great, and it is nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to browser compatibility. I do feel that the interface is kind-of ugly, though. Granted, the soft fonts are probably easier to scale between high and low DPI monitors, but I would prefer something more crisp. Likewise, the big, featureless, rectangular UI elements are likely a compromise for touch displays, but I've always thought they were placeholder during development builds. Then again, I find basically every browser to be bland, so there's that.

microsoft-2015-windows-10-10162-notify.jpg

Other UI elements were altered as well. For instance, while I don't pay too much attention to elements in the notification tray, I am pretty sure that Quiet Hours and the OneNote shortcut are new. While “Note” is obvious, it opens OneNote, Quiet Hours apparently gives a toggle to disable notifications. This is not a new feature, dating back to Windows 8 and Windows Phone apparently, but it has a new home in the notification area.

We're getting close to the July 29th “release” date and might see several builds before then, too. Builds are mostly merging work into a stable core at this point. According to BuildFeed, fbl_impressive, the branch of Windows 10 that is given to Windows Insiders, is up to build 10164, which was created on July 1st. We're not going to see every build of course, some are destined to partners for instance, but the distance between QA-approved builds is shrinking. Unless something is broken that you hope Microsoft will fix or you can afford the time to upgrade, it might be useful to switch to slow until launch. You could always flip to Fast if something cool comes up, although there is sometimes a lag before Windows Update changes your branch if you do that.

Source: Microsoft

Windows 10ish, coming July 29ish

Subject: General Tech | July 3, 2015 - 01:23 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

No rumours this Friday but more confusion out of Redmond as Microsoft announces that the July 29th launch date for Windows 10 may or may not apply to you.  Brave members of the Windows Insider program will be able to install the new OS on that date but others may see their date moved into August as the OS will be rolled out in waves.  Even more interesting is that many may see a message recommending you reach out to an application provider or device manufacturer before upgrading if the tool identifies something on your machine that may not be compatible with Windows 10.  You will still be able to upgrade if you wish but you might want to double check which hardware is being flagged.  Check the story at The Register for the current list of applications which will not survive the upgrade process, including Windows Media Centre as Scott reported on.

win10_update_sticker.jpg

"We already knew the OS will start shipping to members of the Windows Insider program on July 29. On Thursday, however, Microsoft OS boss Terry Myerson explained in a blog post that not everyone should expect to receive their updates on that date."

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Source: The Register

Podcast #356 - Fury X Pump Whine, ASUS MG279Q FreeSync Monitor, GTX 980 Ti STRIX and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2015 - 02:39 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, fury x, pump whine, asus, mg279q, freesync, strix 980ti, gtx 980ti, seasonic, snow silent, zotac, zbox

PC Perspective Podcast #356 - 07/02/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the Fury X Pump Whine, ASUS MG279Q FreeSync Monitor, GTX 980 Ti STRIX and more!

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

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