Call of Duty Has a Big Issue. Choose Your Store Carefully.

Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2016 - 09:14 PM |
Tagged: xbox, steam, pc gaming, fail

In a few short hours, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered will unlock on Steam and Windows Store. If you're intending to get it for the multiplayer, though, then you need to choose your store carefully. According to Activision's support page, Steam users can only play with other Steam users, and Windows Store users can only play with other Windows Store users.

Ouch.

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"We need to stick together! I wanted to pad my Gamerscore and you're the only one online!"

They do not elaborate on why this is the case. PC Gamer speculates that it could be an issue with Windows 7 versus Windows 10, but that makes basically no sense. The protocol between computers is just data, controlled by Activision, so the operating system that transfer it from network socket to game application is irrelevant.

I think I know what it is, though. According to the same support page, they note that a Microsoft Account is required to play online with Windows Store. I'm not sure if Activision voluntarily chose to use two different account systems, or if Microsoft pressured Activision to use Xbox accounts on Windows Store, but I'm guessing the incompatibility is due to Steamworks versus Xbox.

Again, I really don't know why Activision chose to, or was forced to, split their user base. We'll need to see if this becomes a trend going forward, though. If it is, I can see this hurting Microsoft more than Valve.

Source: Activision

The down and dirty on the hot and bothered ACX 3.0 cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 2, 2016 - 07:10 PM |
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, GTX1070, GTX1060, GTX 1080, fail, evga, ACX 3.0

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Checklist time readers, do you have the following:

  • A GTX 1060/1070/1080
  • Which is from EVGA
  • With an ACX 3.0 cooler
  • With one of the model numbers above

If not, make like Bobby McFerrin.

If so, you have a reason to be concerned and EVGA offers their apologies and more importantly, a fix.  EVGA's tests, which emulate the ones performed at Tom's show that the thermal temperature of the PWM and memory was just marginally within spec.  That is a fancy way of saying that in certain circumstances the PWM was running just short of causing a critical thermal incident, also know as catching on fire and letting out the magic smoke.  They claim that this was because the testing focused on GPU temperature and the lowest acoustic levels possible and did not involve measuring the heat produced on memory or the VRM which is, as they say, a problem.

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You have several choices of remedy from EVGA, please remember that you should reach out directly to their support, not NVIDIA's.  You can try requesting a refund from the store you purchased it at but your best bet is EVGA.

The first option is a cross-ship RMA.  Contact EVGA as a guest or with your account to set up an RMA and they will ship you a replacement card with a new VBIOS which will not have this issue and you won't need to send yours back until the replacement arrives.

You can flash to the new VBIOS which will adjust the fan-speed curve to ensure that your fans are running higher than 30% and will provide sufficient cooling to additional portions of the GPU.  Your card will be louder but it will also be less likely to commit suicide in a dramatic fashion.

Lastly you can request a thermal pad kit, which EVGA suggests is unnecessary but certainly sounds like a good idea especially as it is free although requires you sign up for an EVGA account.  Hopefully in the spare seconds currently available to the team we can get our hands on an ACX 3.0 cooled Pascal card with the VBIOS update and thermal pads so we can verify this for you.

This issue should not have happened and does reflect badly on certain factors of EVGA's testing.  Their response has been very appropriate on the other hand, if you are affected then you can get a replacement card with no issues or you can fix the issue yourself.  Any cards shipped, though not necessarily purchased, after Nov. 1st will have the new VBIOS so be careful if you are sticking with a new EVGA Pascal card.

Source: EVGA

EVGA Overheating VRM Issue with GeForce ACX Coolers

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 30, 2016 - 03:09 AM |
Tagged: fail, evga

About a week ago, EVGA acknowledged an issue with their brand of custom-cooled GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 FTW cards. This came after the German branch of Tom's Hardware measured, back on October 6th, very high temperatures on the voltage regulator modules (VRMs), which was caused by these components not being able to adequately remove heat. To remedy the situation, EVGA offers cooling pads for all affected customers, which these customers could install under backplate and under the heatsink fins.

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Image Credit: EVGA

Over the last day or so, users have been reporting that their cards are breaking, and even allegedly catching fire. According to GamersNexus and their source, Buildzoid of Actually Hardcore Overclocking, VRMs, if they fail, will just burn out without warning. The user in question claims that they were just playing Shadow Warrior 2 when their computer just shut down, with a sparkle and magic smoke. Taking the card out, they noticed a scorch mark on the PCB, right in the middle of the VRMs.

Regardless of how gloriously pyrotechnic this issue became, the consensus is that the thermal pads will still fix the issue. If you're not comfortable adding them yourself, then you should contact EVGA support.

Source: GamersNexus

Your Cat6 cabling not behaving as you would expect? Turns out that is not a Fluke

Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2016 - 04:49 PM |
Tagged: fluke, fail, cat6

The difference between Cat5(e) and Cat 6 will not be obvious for home users but is certainly noticeable in large business deployments.  Cat5 and 5e are capable of providing 100MHz whereas Cat6 is rated to 250MHz, assuming it is installed to specifications.  In addition to the increased frequency, Cat6 is has much greater protection against crosstalk and system noise which is far more important to many sysadmins. 

Previously we benefited from the honour system in place, many Cat 5 cables actually met the Cat 5e specification but it seems that this is not the case with Cat 6.  Hack a Day has heard word through a cable provider that Fluke noticed that 80% of the Cat 6 tested with their equipment does not meet specification, in many cases it does not even meet Cat 5e specs.  Since a Fluke line tester capable of analyzing network cabling to this degree of accuracy costs north of $10,000 not all companies are going to have their networks fully tested for compliance.  This may be why you are seeing odd behaviour on your network.

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"So they did some research and purchased a Fluke certification tester for a measly 12,000 US dollars. While they were purchasing the device, they ran across an interesting tidbit in the fluke knowledge base. Fluke said that 80% of the consumer Cat 6 cables they tested didn’t begin to meet the Cat 6 specification."

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Source: Hack a Day

Hey Cortana, your father is 20 now! Hope you fare better than BOB

Subject: General Tech | March 11, 2015 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, fail, bob

For those who have seen the interface in the YouTube video before; we apologize for the mess you just made on your floor but the younger generations should be reminded of what has come before.  Microsoft Bob was released 20 years ago yesterday and most of it died very shortly afterwards as Windows 95 did not need a replacement GUI for the File Manager, the only way to interface with your Windows machine previously.  The saddest part is that File Manager grew up to become Windows Explorer while what remained of Bob were only seen when you encountered a machine that did not have the Search Buddy turned off.  You may recognize that giant waste of CPU cycles, Rover, as that Search Buddy but he also stalked you throughout the Bob GUI, though back then he would roll over if you scratched him.  You can find Bob and Win3.1 on the net in seconds but The Register was also nice enough to link to an .OVA file so you can relive one of the more painful memories of both Microsoft users and executives.  Let's hope Cortana doesn't suffer as horrible a fate as her predecessor.

"Tuesday, 10 March 2015, is a day of infamy, for on that day in 1995 Microsoft gave the world Bob, the “social interface” for Windows 3.x and 95."

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Source: The Register

Three strikes; you're out! Microsoft might be abandoning Surface

Subject: General Tech | October 9, 2014 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, surface, fail

It seems that Microsoft might be catching on to something everyone else in the market knew when they first announced their first foray into hardware since the Zune; software companies shouldn't annoy their customer by competing with them.  Ballmer originally tried to assuage companies like Acer by claiming that Surface was just a proof of concept, which was met by disbelief and after 3 iterations of Surface those doubts were proven to be justified. According to Microsoft the Surface 3 is a big hit overseas but as this is their first crack at those markets you can bet that the sales will follow the same precipitous drop we saw for the first Surface in North America. 

The news from DigiTimes today is that Surface 3 will be the last generation of this hybrid tablet.  It could be that Microsoft will now focus on their phones, much to the dismay of those who have used their phones though perhaps the remaining human assets from Nokia will bring forth a new generation of workable devices.

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"Microsoft continues to see weak sales for its Surface Pro 3 tablet and is reportedly planning to cancel the product line since shipment performance has been far lower than expectations, according to sources from the upstream supply chain."

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Touchscreen laptops fail to attract anything but fingerprints

Subject: General Tech | December 12, 2013 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: win 8.1, touchscreen, notebook, fail

It is going to be hard for Microsoft to flog its new OS when notebook manufactures are not interested in selling touchscreen notebooks.  Apparently the idea of greasy fingers obscuring your view of Metro just hasn't caught on as was predicted by the GUI geniuses behind Win8.  Though DigiTimes does not specify which vendors are abandoning touchscreens, first tier vendors include all of the names you are familiar with.  The decision is financial, not spiteful, as a touchscreen does add around 10% to the cost of producing a notebook and as no one is buying them it is foolish to continue to produce them.

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"Some first-tier notebook brand vendors have recently adjusted their notebook roadmaps for 2014 and will delay the releases of touchscreen conventional notebooks to focus on non-touchscreen models, which have a pricing advantage, according to sources from the upstream supply chain."

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Source: DigiTimes

Microsoft teaches you how to inspire confidence in the cloud

Subject: General Tech | October 31, 2013 - 12:53 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, azure, office 365, fail

For the better part of yesterday a good portion of Microsoft's Azure was down across the globe, with no geographic location left unaffected.  Azure is not only Microsoft's cloud storage service but also handles authentication for Office 365 and hosts the Exchange servers used by the new office suite.  Thankfully it was not a complete outage but the scope of the problem is quite worrisome, Microsoft has always claimed that Azure is partitioned geographically to prevent these types of global outages; their FTP service also failed during this outage adding credence to the lack of partitioning and possibility of cascading failures.  A failure of this magnitude on a business critical service is quite worrying but allowed The Register to give us a new term, "Blue Sky of Death".

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"Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud was hit by a worldwide partial compute outage today, calling into question how effectively Redmond has partitioned its service.

The problems emerged at 2.35AM UTC, and were still ongoing as of 10.20PM UTC the same day, according to the company's service dashboard."

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Source: The Register

Who didn't see that coming; litigation over failed Surface RT launch

Subject: General Tech | August 14, 2013 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, winRT, fail, Surface RT

Predicting the next best thing in mobile computing is not an easy task, nor is convincing people that your run of the mill product is in fact the second coming of sliced bread.  However some products are doomed to failure from their inception, regardless of the quality of the product due to the company in question attempting something that does not fit with their specialization.  Ask Ryan about his Zune, a quality product doomed to failure thanks to the fact that it was hardware born to a software company that has not previously needed to worry about package design or producing physical products.

Surface RT on the other hand was full of warts to begin with and doesn't have any of the saving graces that Microsoft's audio player did, it does nothing well and some things 'just good enough'.  MSI came out against Microsoft's plans to produce hardware in direct competition to the companies that have been licensing Windows for their products from the beginning and ASUS also expressed doubts not only about the success of the product but the wisdom of trying to steal business from your customers.  Surface for the most part has been successful but the WinRT version has been an overpriced failure.   This is probably why the inevitable has happened, it will be lawyers at dawn.  You can read the complaint that was filed over at The Register if you wish.

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"According to a press release issued by the law firm of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd on Monday, the suit charges Microsoft with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, including failing to disclose "then presently known trends, events, or uncertainties" in its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission."

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Source: The Register

It's a bad day to be Ballmer

Subject: General Tech | July 31, 2013 - 02:10 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, surface, winRT, fail

The future of Windows RT and the Surface tablet are bleak, maybe bleaker than you think as Microsoft made $853 million in sales on the non-Pro Surface.  That number is lower than the hit that Microsoft's prospective sales took in lowering the price of the Surface by $150.  Acer warned them a year ago that they should stick with software and ASUS has just announced that they have no interest in making any more Surface devices until demand appears.  You can see the actual numbers of the immense loss for Microsoft that Surface created at The Register.  If that wasn't bad enough, British courts have ruled that Microsoft can not use the term SkyDrive for their online storage solution anymore.

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"Got that? Microsoft spent more in a single year advertising the Windows 8 and Surface launches than it took in from Surface sales that same year."

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Source: The Register