Sorry about that, you are going to have to post your smartphone usage stats to Facebook manually now

Subject: General Tech | February 22, 2019 - 01:01 PM |
Tagged: facebook, Onavo Protect, vpn, apple, Android, dirty pool

You may remember news back in the summer of 2018 about Facebook's Onavo Protect VPN, when it was pulled from the Apple store due to the fact it collected an impressive array of information and sent it home to Ryan's clone.  It had been available since 2013 and it took five years of this behaviour before Apple finally pulled it.  If you were still desperate to overshare your phone habits with Facebook then Google was happy to help you out, until today that is.  While the VPN is still available on the Play Store, Ars Technica has been assured it no longer collects usage data to send back to Facebook; though one should probably go cold turkey just in case.

There are a number of Facebook employees that suggest these moves from Facebook are not indicative of a change of heart from the company, merely a move to try to save ...

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"Facebook "will immediately cease pulling in data from [Onavo] users for market research though it will continue operating as a Virtual Private Network in the short term to allow users to find a replacement," TechCrunch reported yesterday."

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Source: Ars Technica

Hey AT&T, what's the word for when you say something that doesn't even come close to reflecting reality?

Subject: General Tech | January 8, 2019 - 01:13 PM |
Tagged: AT%26T, 5GE, dirty pool, 256-QAM, MIMO

AT&T is terribly fond of Kurt Vonnegut's doodles, as they append them to numerous words to indicate that those words do not mean anything close to what they imply.  Previously it was there Unlimited* data plan which, in their own words actually means " If you use more than 22GB in a bill period, speeds may slow in congested areas".  This is actually an improvement over the previous blanket slow down, which was modified after they lost a court case

Yesterday they picked a new thing to lie about, as well as a new symbol to indicate that their statement does not actually represent reality.  Some users may now see a 5GE symbol on their phones, which indicates you have a 4G connection with a tiny boost in theoretical bandwidth.  The actual 5G standard will offer 20Gbps while AT&T's 5GBS offers a paltry 1Gbps theoretical top speed, a slight boost but nothing close to what the new network technology will offer.  If they had been even slightly more honest, the inclusion of 4x4 MIMO and 256 QAM to enhance 4G connectivity would have received a far friendlier welcome from review sites like The Register and others.

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"Think of the "E" as an asterisk, slumped under the desk in hope of avoiding being spotted, on its 5G coverage. A stop gap. A stepping stone. 4G with go-faster stripes."

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Source: The Register

but ... it's only illegal for the other printer companies to disable ink cartridges!

Subject: General Tech | October 16, 2018 - 01:30 PM |
Tagged: dirty pool, ink, epson

Unsatisfied with charging more for ink by weight than a variety of rare metals, once again a printer maker is disabling your ability to use third party ink cartridges.  The most recent attempt at this was by Lexmark, who blocked the use of refilled cartridges until the US Supreme Court ruled this to be illegal and forced them to stop.  Before them it was HP who attempted this, though at least they backed off before a court case was filed; not that they don't attempt to do it again occasionally.

Today it is Epson attempting these shenanigans, after sneaking in a way to block the use of third party cartridges in an update they claimed was actually to improve the security of their printers.  Apparently they are hoping that this time they will succeed in monopolizing their ink, even with the previous failures mentioned.  The EFF have already sent a letter to the Texas Attorney General and are looking for customers in other locations to lodge complaints so they can file in other districts.

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"Printer maker Epson is under fire this month from activist groups after a software update prevented customers from using cheaper, third party ink cartridges. It's just the latest salvo in a decades-long effort by printer manufacturers to block consumer choice, often by disguising printer downgrades as essential product improvements."

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Source: Slashdot

The Huawei defence; it ain't cheatin' if everyone does it!

Subject: General Tech | September 6, 2018 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: Huawei, dirty pool, Honor Play, P20, performance mode

In a move reminiscent of the old Quack.exe debacle, Huawei has been caught enhancing benchmark results.  Their recent phones are able to detect a running benchmark and will switch to "Performance Mode" which uses "AI to optimize the performance of hardware, including the CPU, GPU and NPU" because everything has an AI in it now, apparently.  This would be much worse if not for two things, they are correct in stating that their local competitors do the same thing and they have agreed to allow users to access this Performance Mode on their own.  That will increase the performance of the phone but you can expect the battery life to plummet. 

If you are interested in diving deeper into this, you can check out that link to The Inquirer.

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"Earlier this week, AnandTech revealed that the Chinese phonemaker has benchmark detection software installed on the Huawei P20, Honor Play, and possibly other devices packing its homegrown Kirin 970 processor, which makes the chip perform better by raising its power limit."

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Source: The Inquirer

Dell and HP ain't down with the GPP

Subject: General Tech | April 12, 2018 - 04:29 PM |
Tagged: transparency, nvidia, npp, dirty pool

Curious about the state of NVIDIA's new GeForce Partner Program?  There is definitely news as both Dell and HP do not seem to have joined up, though neither will confirm nor deny this.  The evidence comes from the availability of AMD GPUs in both of their current gaming lineups.  The new HP Omens do not offer AMD but this is theorized to be a supply issue, or it could simply be down to the better performance offered by NVIDIA's current mobile parts.  Lenovo as well still offers AMD in their Legion gaming systems so for now it seems they are not interested either.

This is very good news for the consumer, if these three big suppliers are not signing on, obviously the supposed benefits to joining the GPP simply are not that attractive to them, in much the same way as the 'transparency' offered by this program does not appeal to enthusiasts.

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"Since we found out about NVIDIA's GeForce Partner Program, aka GPP, a couple of months ago, we have seen changes implemented by NVIDIA's partners, but what has not happened is far more important to point out at this time."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

The GeForce Partner Program has some Kool-Aid it would like you to try

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2018 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: dirty pool, nvidia, gpp, GeForce Partner Program

[H]ard|OCP have posted an article looking at the brand new GeForce Partner Program which NVIDIA has announced that has a striking resemblance to a certain Intel initiative ... which turned out poorly.  After investigating the details for several weeks, including attempts to talk with OEMs and AIBs some serious concerns have been raised, including what seems to be a membership requirement to only sell NVIDIA GPUs in a product line which is aligned with GPP.  As membership to the GPP offers "high-effort engineering engagements -- early tech engagement -- launch partner status -- game bundling -- sales rebate programs -- social media and PR support -- marketing reports -- Marketing Development Funds (MDF)" this would cut out a company which chose to sell competitors products from quite a few things.

At this time NVIDIA has not responded to inquiries and the OEMs and AIBs which [H] spoke to declined to make any official comments; off the record there were serious concerns about the legality of this project.  Expect to hear more about this from various sites as they seek the transparency which NVIDIA Director John Teeple mentioned in his post.

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"While we usually like to focus on all the wonderful and immersive worlds that video cards and their GPUs can open up to us, today we are tackling something a bit different. The GeForce Partner Program, known as GPP in the industry, is a "marketing" program that looks to HardOCP as being an anticompetitive tactic against AMD and Intel."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

NVIDIA Launches GeForce Experience 3.0

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 7, 2016 - 08:02 PM |
Tagged: dirty pool, nvidia, geforce experience, geforce

Update (September 7th @ 9:34pm): It's been pointed out in our comments that the new GeForce Experience cannot be used without logging in. It supports NVIDIA, Google, and Facebook accounts.

It's been in Beta for a while, but NVIDIA has just officially launched their new GeForce Experience application. The release version is 3.0.5.22, so be sure to check for updates if you were in the beta and your settings panel shows an earlier version. Also, there's an “allow experimental features” checkbox right under the version number, too, also in the settings panel. It defaults to on for me, so you might want to take a look if you use GeForce Experience for anything professional (ex: Twitch streaming).

Anywho, the new version runs a lot better for me than the previous one. I used to have quite long load times, often literally in the minutes, with version 2. With version 3, it often pops up in less than a second, or maybe a couple of seconds at the worst.

Obviously, if you don't use GeForce Experience, then you don't really need to update. WHQL drivers can still be downloaded from their website (although installing drivers through GeForce Experience 3.0 has been fairly bug-free for me) and most of its other features can be obtained with other applications, like OBS Studio. That said, it's free and pretty good, so it's worth giving it a try.

Source: NVIDIA

That old chestnut again? Intel compares their current gen hardware against older NVIDIA kit

Subject: General Tech | August 17, 2016 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, Intel, HPC, Xeon Phi, maxwell, pascal, dirty pool

There is a spat going on between Intel and NVIDIA over the slide below, as you can read about over at Ars Technica.  It seems that Intel have reached into the industries bag of dirty tricks and polished off an old standby, testing new hardware and software against older products from their competitors.  In this case it was high performance computing products which were tested, Intel's new Xeon Phi against NVIDIA's Maxwell, tested on an older version of the Caffe AlexNet benchmark.

NVIDIA points out that not only would they have done better than Intel if an up to date version of the benchmarking software was used, but that the comparison should have been against their current architecture, Pascal.  This is not quite as bad as putting undocumented flags into compilers to reduce the performance of competitors chips or predatory discount programs but it shows that the computer industry continues to have only a passing acquaintance with fair play and honest competition.

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"At this juncture I should point out that juicing benchmarks is, rather sadly, par for the course. Whenever a chip maker provides its own performance figures, they are almost always tailored to the strength of a specific chip—or alternatively, structured in such a way as to exacerbate the weakness of a competitor's product."

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Source: Ars Technica

Avoiding online price creep

Subject: General Tech | October 24, 2014 - 12:29 PM |
Tagged: dirty pool, online retailers, wretched hive of scum and villany, airlines

Have you noticed that prices seem to creep up slightly every time you visit an online ticket site hoping for a deal?  As many are probably already aware, the cookies dumped on your machine when you browse allow the sites to keep track of how many times you have visited a site and can base their pricing off of that count.  In other cases they can tell if you are browsing their sites mobile device version or the desktop site and of course if you are logged in as a member or not.  So far none of these practices is technically illegal but they are also laughably easy to defeat.  Simply browsing in anonymous mode, clearing your cookies or even just using a different device will reset those prices and is a habit you should get into.  Slashdot has linked to a PDF which details many of these questionable practices and of course those ever polite commentators under the headline will offer sage and on topic advice.

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"For instance, the study found, users logged in to Cheaptickets and Orbitz saw lower hotel prices than shoppers who were not registered with the sites. Home Depot shoppers on mobile devices saw higher prices than users browsing on desktops. Some searchers on Expedia and Hotels.com consistently received higher-priced options, a result of randomized testing by the websites. Shoppers at Sears, Walmart, Priceline, and others received results in a different order than control groups, a tactic known as “steering.”

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Source: Slashdot

AMD and NVIDIA get into a hairy argument

Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2014 - 07:43 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, gameworks, dirty pool, business as usual, amd

The topic on NVIDIA Gameworks was discussed at great length on last night's PCPer Podcast and from the live comments as well as the comments on Ryan's original story this is obviously a topic which draws strong opinions.  As it is always best to limit yourself to debating topics of which you are familiar with the facts The Tech Report's article on the aftereffects of the Forbes story is well worth a read.  Cyril had a chance to speak with a rep from NVIDIA's driver development team about Hallock's comments pertaining to NVIDIA's Gameworks and the legitimacy of AMD's complaints.  As you might expect there is a lot of denial and finger pointing from both sides; what long time enthusiasts might describe as 'business as usual'.  Both sides of this argument have vehemently denied ever attempting to undermine each others business but yet both sides can point to specific instances in which the competition has used questionable methods to get a leg (or hair) up on the competition.  

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"Earlier today, I spoke with Cem Cebenoyan, Director of Engineering for Developer Technology at Nvidia, who offered a rebuttal to a Forbes story we covered yesterday. In that story, AMD's Robert Hallock alleged that Nvidia's GameWorks program prevents AMD from working with game developers on GPU optimizations."

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