Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2018 - 07:15 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, macos, Android, windows, linux, vulkan
Yet another video game engine has entered the market – this time by Google. Filament is written in C++, supports OpenGL 4.1-and-up, OpenGL ES 3.0-and-up, and Vulkan 1.0 on Android, Linux, macOS, and Windows.
It is also licensed under Apache 2.0, so it is completely open-source (with no copyleft).
On the plus side, it supports a lot of rendering features. The materials, like basically everyone else, use a PBR system, which abstracts lighting from material properties, allowing models to be shaded correctly in any lighting environment. Filament goes beyond that implementation, however, and claims to include things like anisotropic metals (think brushed steel) and clear coat effects. They even have a BRDF (the program that defines the outputs of your shader, where all your textures plug in to) for cloth rendering, including backward scattering.
On the negative side? Pages upon pages of documentation and I haven’t seen one screenshot of their editor, which doesn't telegraph the best message for their tools. I don’t have the toolchain set up on my computer to try it for myself, but I’m guessing that developer UX is lacking compared to the other engines. I do like that they chose to limit external dependencies, however. It just requires the standard library and a header-only library called “Robin-Map” for fast hash maps.
Google also tags a disclaimer at the bottom of their GitHub page: “This is not an officially supported Google product”. It’s free, though, so it might be worth checking out.
Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2018 - 02:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Android, galaxy s7, Samsung, security, meltdown
Researchers in Austria have found a way to utilize Meltdown to hack Galaxy S7 smartphones, a bad sign for security. It was previously discovered that ARM's Cortex A75 was susceptible to the vulnerability but this is the first time we have seen this exploit successfully used on a Snapdragon 820 or Exynos 8890 chipset. Even better is that these researchers have discovered variants which can affect older chipsets, meaning that far more phones may be vulnerable than we ever imagined. You can take a peek over at The Inquirer, if you are looking to ruin your day.
"IF YOU LIVE IN THE PAST then best pick your ears up as researchers have found Samsung's Galaxy S7 is vulnerable to hacking due to a chip security flaw."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- TCP Flaw Lets Remote Attackers Stall Devices With Tiny DoS Attack @ Slashdot
- Snapchat source code leaked to GitHub after botched iOS app update @ The Inquirer
- Mozilla uses AI to serve up suggested content in Firefox @ The Inquirer
- LibreOffice 6.1 Released @ Slashdot
- Hey, you know what a popular medical record system doesn't need? 23 security vulnerabilities @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | July 24, 2018 - 02:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, LTE, qualcomm, snapdragon 845, Android
The Inquirer posted some findings from Ookla which is bound to be somewhat depressing for Apple users with Intel modems in them. This will not be a surprise for anyone who recalls a certain court case from last year in which Qualcomm accused Apple of slowing down their modems to ensure they did not outperform models with an Intel modem in it. That case has since snowballed into a much larger one.
Tossing the lawyers aside, the data from Ookla shows a large performance different between "Intel-based non-Android smartphones" LTE speeds and any phone utilizing a Snapdragon 845 modem. The Snapdragon phones show "double-digit gains" in latency and "triple-digit gains" in download and upload speeds, which is going to be fairly noticeable. Perhaps the rumours that Intel will no longer be inside the upcoming generations of Apple phones are true.
"Consumers seeking faster everyday 4G LTE connectivity can buy Android smartphones powered by the Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform, knowing that real-world data supports Qualcomm Technologies' claims of superior wireless performance."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- If at first you, er, make things worse, you're probably Microsoft: Bug patch needed patching @ The Register
- As Computer Vendors Focus On Making Their Laptops Thinner and Lighter, They Are Increasingly Neglecting Performance Needs of Their Customers @ Slashdot
- EC slaps Asus, Philips and others with €111m fine for online price fixing @ The Inquirer
- Hackers On Planet Earth XII: The Circle Of HOPE @ Techgage
- Commodore 64 Mini Coming to North America on October 9 @ [H]ard|OCP
- Spectre rises from the dead to bite Intel in the return stack buffer @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | June 14, 2018 - 03:05 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Oreo, encryption, dtek, blackberry, android 8.1, Android
BlackBerry’s upcoming KEY2 smartphone is a refreshed successor to last year’s KEYone that addresses most of the issues of its predecessor. At 151.4 x 71.8 x 8.5mm and 168 grams the KEY2 is slightly taller, but skinnier, thinner, and lighter than the KEYone with less rounded edges and no camera bump. The KEY2 comes in silver or black and features an aluminum alloy frame, soft touch non-slip back, and a 4.5” display and 35-key backlit physical keyboard around front. The smartphone runs the Android 8.1 Oreo operating system along with BlackBerry security features like a hardened kernel, secure boot, full disk encryption, DTEK security suite, Locker, and the privacy focused Firefox Focus browser.
The 4.5” IPS display remains the same as the KEYone featuring a 3:2 aspect ratio and 1620 x 1080 resolution, but the BlackBerry KEY2 does feature an updated camera system and a tweaked keyboard. The dual rear 12MP cameras work with a dual tone LED flash and laser and phase detection auto focus (one camera supports a 2X zoom and supports portrait mode) to offer up high-resolution HDR images and 4K30 or 1080p60 videos. Around front, BlackBerry includes an 8MP camera for video conferencing or “selfies”. The keyboard has been updated with 20% taller keys and a matte finish while the right shift key has been swapped out for what BlacKBerry calls the Speed Key which allows users to hold in combination with any other key to open applications of their choice. The keyboard can be used as a trackpad with gesture support and hosts a fingerprint sensor in the space bar. According to YouTube vloggers at a BlackBerry event the keyboard feels more like the BlackBerry Bold keyboards of old which is a good thing. The keys are reportedly more clicky and less mushy as well.
The KEY2 features a headphone jack up top, power, volume, and convenience keys along the right edge, and a single speaker and USB-C port on the bottom edge.
Internally, BlackBerry has slightly updated the specifications to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660, 6GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB of flash storage, and a 3500 mAh batter. While the Snapdragon 660 is still a solidly midrange part, it is at least a good bit faster than the SD620 used in the KEYone thanks to the move to Kryo 260 CPU cores. Specifically, the Snapdragon 660 has four Kryo 260 CPU cores at 2.2 GHz and four cores at 1.8 GHz along with an Adreno 512 GPU, Hexagon 680 DSP, and X12 LTE modem. Wireless I/O includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, LTE, NFC, GPS, and FM radios. BlackBerry claims that the KEY2’s battery is good for up to two days of mixed usage and it supports USB Power Delivery 2.0 v1.2 and 9V2A 18W along with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 for charging.
This secure Android experience with physical key goodness comes at a cost, however. TCL’s BlackBerry KEY2 will be available later this month starting at $649 for the 64GB version (there is no word on the 128GB version’s price).
From my understanding the KEYone was a successful product for the company, and the improved KEY2 is sure to find a market among physical keyboard enthusiasts and security conscious business users even at the premium price.
Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2018 - 01:36 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amazon fire tv, amazon, security, cryptocurrency, Android, ADB.Miner
New cryptomining malware has been popping up on Android devices recently, especially Fire TV's with debugging mode or installation of unsigned apps enabled. ADB.Miner runs a program called Test under com.google.time.time and will happily suck up as much of your devices processing power as it can, causing slow performance and occasionally interrupting video playback with a screen which reads Test. If you have seen this you should probably disable debug, set the device to block unsigned apps and do a factory reset.
The Inquirer also describes an Amazon store app called Total Commander which should remove it, but the factory reset will offer a better guarantee of removal.
"AFTVnews has the scoop and reports that the threat, a malware worm variant dubbed 'ADB.Miner', is installing itself on Amazon gadgets as an app called 'Test' under the package name 'com.google.time.time.' "
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Actual control of Windows 10 updates (with a catch)... and more from Microsoft @ The Register
- Half of Windows 10 users have experienced PC borkage, says new research @ The Inquirer
- Korean cryptocoin exchange $30m lighter after hacking attack @ The Register
- Carmel, Libra, and Andromeda Are the Next Wave of Surface Devices: Report @ Slashdot
- Exclusive: Plume’s new “Superpod” hardware is here—and it’s fast @ Ars Technica
- 3D Print A Remote Control Flame Thrower @ Hackaday
- For Honor Starter Edition is FREE for a Limited Time! @ TechARP
- Ziggurat for FREE @ GoG
E Ink is one of those initially promising technologies that ultimately has lived a bit of a disappointing life. After the introduction of the original E-reader devices such as the Amazon Kindle, we were promised a future of all signage being replaced with readable, but electronically controllable E Ink displays. Even color E Ink displays teased us with very limited product rollouts.
However, E Ink has not been a magical cure-all. Lower demand and more difficult production methods mean that the cost of these displays remains much higher than other commodity technologies like LCD. Additionally, even though E Ink has substantially improved from the first E Ink displays, refreshing the display remains a slow process and a deal breaker for applications such as notebooks and tablets.
Or does it? For someone who spends a lot of time looking at LCDs all day, the idea of E-Ink still very much appeals to me. This led me to ask myself some questions earlier this year. Would I be willing to accept the trade-offs of E Ink for a solution to eyestrain? Are E Ink displays any better than when I lasted used one? Are there even any modern E Ink devices besides the Kindle?
That research brought me to what we are taking a look at today, the Onyx Boox Max 2, a 13.3" E-Ink tablet running Android 6.0.
Not Just a Better Camera
Samsung’s updated Galaxy phones are available now, and while the external designs - while beautiful - look the same as last year, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ feature faster internals and an improved camera system. Is it worth an upgrade over the Galaxy S8? How does this new flagship from Samsung compare to Apple’s more expensive iPhone X? Read on to find out!
During the Galaxy S9 at Samsung’s “Unpacked” event unveiling the new phones, much was made about the GS9’s camera - and particularly its video recording capability, which features an ultra slow-motion mode. While camera is a vital part of the experience, and can make or break a handset for many people, it is the application processor that constitutes a bigger upgrade from last year’s Galaxy S8 phones.
In the USA, Samsung is using Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 845, while many of the international versions of the phone use Samsung’s own Exynos SoC. We took an early look at performance with the Snapdragon 845 during Qualcomm’s recent media day, and now with shipping hardware and far more time for benchmarking we can really put this new mobile platform to the test. You can take or leave synthetic benchmark results, of course; I can offer my own subjective impressions of overall responsiveness, which is as much a test of software optimization as hardware.
|Samsung Galaxy S9+ Specifications (US Version)|
|Display||6.2-inch 1440x2960 AMOLED|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (SDM845)|
|CPU Cores||8x Kryo 385 up to 2.8 GHz|
|GPU Cores||Adreno 630|
|RAM||6 GB LPDDR4X|
|Storage||64 / 128 / 256 GB|
|Network||Snapdragon X20 LTE|
Bluetooth 5.0; A2DP, aptX
USB 3.1 (Type-C)
|Battery||3500 mAh Li-Ion|
|Dimensions||158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5 mm, 189 g|
Samsung has opted to bring back the same industrial design introduced with last year’s Galaxy S8/S8+, but this was already a class-leading design so that is not a bad thing.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 25, 2018 - 12:12 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wacom, convertible tablet, Chromebook, chrome os, apollo lake, Android, acer
Acer is bringing an updated convertible Chromebook to market in March with the Chromebook Spin 11 being available to consumers and not just through educational channels like the previous models. The 2.75-pound notebook with 360-degree hinge and 11.6” IPS display (1366x768) runs Chrome OS, supports Android apps, and is powered by “all day” battery life and Apollo Lake processors. Unfortunately, Acer is not using Intel’s latest Gemini Lake chips, but the Chromebooks do hit more budget friendly MSRPs as a result with the Chromebook Spin 11 starting at $349.
Acer’s updated silver colored Chromebook features a 360-degree hinge allowing it to be used in tablet mode, laptop mode, or anything in between. The hinge connects the top half with the 11.6” touchscreen and 1MP webcam to the bottom half which holds the keyboard, trackpad, I/O ports, and 5MP camera (intended to be used in tablet mode) along with all the internal battery and processing hardware. External I/O is fairly modern and includes two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C ports, two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a headphone jack, and one micro SD card reader. Users can also opt for a Wacom EMR stylus to get pen input on the touchscreen display.
Internal hardware includes an Intel Apollo Lake processor of dual or quad core varieties that sit at 6W TDPs, either 4GB or 8GB DDR4 memory, and 32GB or 64GB of eMMC storage. The processor options include the dual core Intel Celeron N3350 (2.4 GHz), Intel Celeron N3450 (4 core / 4 thread at up to 2.2 GHz), and quad core Intel Pentium N4200 at up to 2.5 GHz.
The keys look fairly large and well-spaced for an 11.6” device save for the arrow keys which are squished into the bottom right corner. There appear to be two bottom firing stereo speakers as well. I am curious how much travel the keys have though.
The updated Chromebook Spin 11 is slated for availability in March for North America starting at $349 and in April at €379 for the EMEA market (Europe, Middle East, Africa).
Subject: General Tech | January 4, 2018 - 11:28 AM | Alex Lustenberg
Tagged: Z370, Vega, spectre, msi, meltdown, Koolance, Kaby Lake G, google wifi, cord cutting, apple, Android, 400A-S, podcast
PC Perspective Podcast #482 - 1/04/18
Join us for discussion on Spectre, Meltdown, Cord Cutting, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store (audio only)
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- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader (audio only)
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jermey Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano
Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg
Program length: 1:01:54
0:02:15 PCPer Mailbag #24 - 12/29/2017
Week in Review:
0:03:27 Just Picked Up: Google Wifi x4
News items of interest:
0:48:00 The top 20 games of 2017?
Picks of the Week:
Subject: General Tech | November 29, 2017 - 02:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: smartphone, security, google play, google, Android
Hopefully you are already well aware that a large number of free Android apps slurp up a lot of personal information about you, however you might not realize the extent of the issue. Researchers have just released a report which documents the amount of personal data that popular apps such as Uber, Tinder, Skype, Twitter, Spotify, and Snapchat gather about you, which The Inquirer linked to. These apps collect and then share your name, phone number, e-mail address, login, IP address and device ID with targeted advertisers, something that many of the apps do not make clear when you install or use them. That data can be used for some rather interesting things, such as tracking the physical location of your phone, so the next time you are installing an app on an mobile phone of any flavour you might want to consider what it may be sharing especially in light of the recently revealed Uber hack.
"In case you're wondering, yes, there's a good chance at least some of your Android apps have tracked you rather more than you expect."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- HDMI 2.1 specs promise a retina-searing 10K Dynamic HDR future @ The Inquirer
- Pro tip: You can log into macOS High Sierra as root with no password @ The Register
- You mean Google updated its smartwatch OS and nobody noticed? @ The Register
- Microsoft is killing off its Office Viewer apps next Spring @ The Inquirer
- Uber admits that 2.7 million Brits were affected by 2016 mega-hack @ The Inquirer
- Recent Blu Update Locks Users out of Their Phones @ Slashdot
- Optogenetics: A Virtual Reality System for Controlling Living Cells @ TechSpot