Samsung Refreshes 2-In-1 Lineup With New Notebook 9 Pen Models

Subject: Mobile | December 21, 2018 - 10:45 PM |
Tagged: windows hello, windows, Samsung, s pen, notebook 9 pen, convertible tablet, convertible, 2-in-1

Samsung is updating its laptop lineup to include the new Notebook 9 Pen which is a 2-in-1 convertible with built-in S Pen that comes in 13.3-inch and 15-inch form factors. Featuring full body aluminum frames, diamond cut edges, and narrow display bezels, the Notebook 9 Pen weighs in at 2.47 pounds and 3.44 pounds for the 13-inch and 15-inch models respectively. The new “Notebook 9 Pen” PCs should not be confused with the existing Notebook 9 Pen notebooks which were released earlier this year. The new models which are slated for a 2019 release introduce a 15” model to the lineup as well as more memory, brighter (500 nits) displays with narrower bezels, and two new colors and designs.

Samsung Notebook 9 Pen 2019 Refresh.jpg

Available in Ocean Blue or Platinum WHite, the Notebook 9 Pen includes a full HD display with very small bezels and a HD webcam paired with a backlit keyboard and decently sized trackpad joined by a 360-degree rotating hinge. The convertible laptop also has dual 5W AKG speakers with ThunderAmp technology. External I/O includes two Thunderbolt 3, one USB-C, one combo headphone/microphone, and one UFS/microSD port. As far as wireless connectivity, the notebook supports 802.ac Wave 2 2x2 WiFi.

The modern I/O is supported by modern internal hardware including up to 8th Generation Intel Core i7 processors, 16GB LPDDR3, and a 512GB PCI-E NVMe SSD. The Notebook 9 Pen with 13.3” display uses Intel UHD graphics, but the 15” model can be equipped with a NVIDIA MX150 GPU with 2GB memory. Both models are powered by a 54 Wh battery that supports fast charging and allegedly offers up to 15 hours of battery life.

Of course, the interesting aspect of the Notebook 9 Pen is the S Pen which Samsung as reportedly improved to be more responsive with up to a 2x reduction in latency to 7ms. The S Pen comes with three different pen tips so that artists can get the feel they want when drawing on the screen. The S Pen can do the usual things its smartphone counterparts can like drawing and writing and it can also be used to control media playback, advance slides, and record voice notes with its built-in microphone.

First impressions look promising, but pricing is going to be key as well as build quality and feel and with this year’s model starting at $1,400 MSRP ($1,000+ on Amazon for the 8GB RAM version) the updated 2019 Notebook 9 Pen isn’t going to be cheap! Unfortunately, exact pricing and availability have not yet been disclosed.

With that said, assuming rewiews hold up, it looks sharp and for artists and designers that like to work on the go it may be worth checking out!

Source: Samsung

Windows Sandbox Virtual Environment Coming to Windows 10 in 2019

Subject: General Tech | December 19, 2018 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: windows insider, Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Enterprise, windows 10, windows, VM, virtual machine, microsoft, build 18305

Windows Sandbox is a new virtual machine environment coming to Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise versions in 2019, which will be available as an optional component within Windows. Microsoft details the upcoming feature in a blog post published yesterday, describing it as "a new lightweight desktop environment tailored for safely running applications in isolation".

Windows Sandbox Screenshot.jpg

"How many times have you downloaded an executable file, but were afraid to run it? Have you ever been in a situation which required a clean installation of Windows, but didn’t want to set up a virtual machine?

At Microsoft we regularly encounter these situations, so we developed Windows Sandbox: an isolated, temporary, desktop environment where you can run untrusted software without the fear of lasting impact to your PC. Any software installed in Windows Sandbox stays only in the sandbox and cannot affect your host. Once Windows Sandbox is closed, all the software with all its files and state are permanently deleted."

Microsoft lists these features for Windows Sandbox, outlining the secure and non-persistent "disposable" nature of the environment:

  • Part of Windows – everything required for this feature ships with Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise. No need to download a VHD!
  • Pristine – every time Windows Sandbox runs, it’s as clean as a brand-new installation of Windows
  • Disposable – nothing persists on the device; everything is discarded after you close the application
  • Secure – uses hardware-based virtualization for kernel isolation, which relies on the Microsoft’s hypervisor to run a separate kernel which isolates Windows Sandbox from the host
  • Efficient – uses integrated kernel scheduler, smart memory management, and virtual GPU

Optional Windows Features Dialog Box.png

The environment requires a sytem with an AMD64 architecture running Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise build 18305 or later, with the rather slim minimum requirements of just 4GB of memory, 2 CPU cores, and 1 GB of free space (with 8GB RAM, 4 cores, and SSD storage recommended). 

The full blog post goes into further detail with a full "under the hood" look at Windows Sandbox, which among other things offers graphics hardware acceleration "with Windows dynamically allocating graphics resources where they are needed across the host and guest".

As to availability, ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley had reported that while the feature was originally "expected to come to Windows 10 19H1 early next year" it could be available to Insider tester as early as this week with Build 18301 of Windows 10 - but this 18301 and earlier 18292 build referenced in Foley's post have apparently been removed from the Microsoft blog post, which now exclusively lists Build 18305.

Source: Microsoft

Microsft heals some wounds as it moves to Open Source

Subject: General Tech | December 7, 2018 - 01:57 PM |
Tagged: windows, open source, microsoft, edge, chromium, browser, Opera, firefox

One of the big stories this week has been the rumour and confirmation of Microsoft's move to Chromium.  What we hadn't seen until this morning was what the competition thought about it, which we now know thanks to a link from Slashdot.   You will be shocked to learn that Firefox sees this as solid proof you should have been using Firefox all along, or should switch immediately.

Opera and Google both applaud the move; Opera pointing out that they did something very similar about 6 years ago while Google welcomes Microsoft to the open source community it once spurned.  Take a peek at the rest here.

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"Google largely sees Microsoft's decision as a good thing, which is not exactly a surprise given that the company created the Chromium open source project. "Chrome has been a champion of the open web since inception and we welcome Microsoft to the community of Chromium contributors. We look forward to working with Microsoft and the web standards community to advance the open web, support user choice, and deliver great browsing experiences."

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Source: Slashdot

Microsoft Confirms Edge Browser is Moving to Chromium

Subject: General Tech | December 7, 2018 - 10:02 AM |
Tagged: windows, open source, microsoft, Joe Belfiore, edge, chromium, browser

It's official: Microsoft is indeed moving their Edge browser to Chromium as previously reported. Windows VP Joe Belfiore made the announcement yesterday with a blog post entitled "Microsoft Edge: Making the web better through more open source collaboration".

Microsoft_Edge_logo.PNG

The post begins as follows (emphasis added):

"For the past few years, Microsoft has meaningfully increased participation in the open source software (OSS) community, becoming one of the world’s largest supporters of OSS projects. Today we’re announcing that we intend to adopt the Chromium open source project in the development of Microsoft Edge on the desktop to create better web compatibility for our customers and less fragmentation of the web for all web developers.

As part of this, we intend to become a significant contributor to the Chromium project, in a way that can make not just Microsoft Edge — but other browsers as well — better on both PCs and other devices."

Not an immediate move, the under-the-hood changes to the Microsoft Edge browser will take place "over the next year or so", with the transition described as happening "gradually over time". From Microsoft:

1. We will move to a Chromium-compatible web platform for Microsoft Edge on the desktop. Our intent is to align the Microsoft Edge web platform simultaneously (a) with web standards and (b) with other Chromium-based browsers. This will deliver improved compatibility for everyone and create a simpler test-matrix for web developers.

2. Microsoft Edge will now be delivered and updated for all supported versions of Windows and on a more frequent cadence. We also expect this work to enable us to bring Microsoft Edge to other platforms like macOS. Improving the web-platform experience for both end users and developers requires that the web platform and the browser be consistently available to as many devices as possible. To accomplish this, we will evolve the browser code more broadly, so that our distribution model offers an updated Microsoft Edge experience + platform across all supported versions of Windows, while still maintaining the benefits of the browser’s close integration with Windows.

3. We will contribute web platform enhancements to make Chromium-based browsers better on Windows devices. Our philosophy of greater participation in Chromium open source will embrace contribution of beneficial new tech, consistent with some of the work we described above. We recognize that making the web better on Windows is good for our customers, partners and our business – and we intend to actively contribute to that end.

The full blog post from Belfiore is available here.

Source: Microsoft

Windows 10 Caveat Emptor Update

Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2018 - 01:33 PM |
Tagged: windows, update, october update, nvidia, microsoft, Intel

If you are one of those wise souls who held of on installing to the new Windows 10 Update, so that others can act as the canaries in the coal mine we now have some advice.  If you are running an NVIDIA GPU, ensure you have plenty of space on your OS drive.  There have been reports of users losing files from their drives if there is not enough space for the entire 10GB update to download to; if there isn't enough space then the update deletes all non-system files.  The Inqurier is quick to point out that the tool you would use to resolve this problem, Disk Cleanup, no longer exists once you perform this update.

There have also been reports that systems with certain versions of Intel Display Audio drivers have seen greatly increased CPU usage after the update and this has been draining batteries quickly.  According to The Register, Microsoft is no longer pushing the update to machines that would be affected.  You can check out the driver version here.

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"Usually though, we'd expect it to affect a small number of users. This time however, the problems seem to come from anyone with an Nvidia GPU and anyone… erm… with files."

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Source: The Inquirer

Filament Game Engine Open Sourced (Apache 2.0)

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2018 - 07:15 PM |
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).

google-2018-filament-anisotropy.png

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.

What If Windows XP Released in 2018?

Subject: General Tech | May 12, 2018 - 05:13 PM |
Tagged: windows xp, windows 10, windows, microsoft

YouTube pushed this video onto my suggested list, and it was a minute and a half well spent. From what I understand, Kamer Kaan Avdan has a YouTube channel where he creates concept videos that look quite professional. This one takes the feel of Windows XP and grafts it to Microsoft’s current design and marketing process, with a few hilarious nods to the weird parts of our favorite candy-coated OS. The “Welcome” fade-in felt perfect to the point that I wasn’t sure if he was doing this as a joke, or as a legitimate suggestion for a Windows 10 theme pack.

Then I saw the search dog…

I’m not going to lie – I’d want that theme pack. (Edit, May 12th @ 6:50pm: Clarification -- I would want that theme pack, if it existed.) Of course, non-default themes in Windows tend to lead to serious bugs, like some programs failing to hide or correctly align elements in Basic or Classic themes on Windows 7, so it really would be asking for a world of hurt from a “bugs” side of things. But, you know, it looks cool. Check it out -- it's embed above.

Source: avdan

A handy list of tricks you might have forgotten you knew

Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2017 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows, apple

TechSpot posted an article compiling a variety of tips on making Windows and MacOS do what you want as well as numerous applications you can use for a variety of tasks.  The recommendations run from the classic obfuscated Windows "God Mode" folder which contains links to the majority of the tools you can use on your system to basic keyboard shortcuts.  If you are trying to figure out where all your storage space went, Space Sniffer for Windows or GrandPerspective for Macs will help you far more than random searches for large folders.  You will probably already know a great number of these tips but it is nice to have a long list compiled in a single location.

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"Many hardcore computer users might consider themselves above learning new tricks, but there are always new ways to sharpen your skills on the PC and we bet that you will find at least one useful thing here that you didn't know before."

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Source: Techspot

Windows Server Follows Trend of Two Updates per Year

Subject: General Tech | June 19, 2017 - 08:59 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows server

Microsoft seems to want to release feature updates for their software twice per year, once in the fall, and once in the spring. First, Office 365 announced that it would adopt a semi-annual schedule, targeting September and March, give or take a bit. The Windows team then announced that they would follow in Office’s footsteps.

Now, the Windows Server team has followed suit.

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

It’s interesting, because Windows Server typically pushes out two major versions every four or five years: one with a number, and another with that same number alongside an R2 suffix. Each of these lines up with a consumer refresh of the NT kernel, although both Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2003 R2 used the same kernel... because Windows XP lasted a while.

Sure, a lot of a name would normally be marketing, but it also gated the major features that Microsoft was able to add (because they wanted a single Windows release to interact with software fairly uniformly across its lifecycle for enterprise reasons). Now, with the whole company pushing the “as a service” model, even Windows Server will be on the feature release treadmill.

Source: Microsoft

Rumor: New Edition of Windows 10 Pro Planned

Subject: General Tech | June 6, 2017 - 02:07 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows 10

The Verge is reporting on an allegedly leaked slide from Microsoft that announces a new edition of Windows 10 Pro. It is given the placeholder name “Windows 10 Pro for Workstation PCs” and it has four advertised features: Workstations mode, ReFS, SMBDirect, the ability to use up to four CPUs, and the ability to use up to 6TB of RAM.

microsoft-2017-windows10proworkstation-grandmofongo.jpg

Image Credit: GrandMofongo (Twitter)

If this rumor is true, I don’t believe that it will behave like Windows 10 Enterprise. Because it unlocks the ability to address more RAM and CPU sockets, I doubt that users would be able to switch between Windows 10 Pro and “Windows 10 Pro for Workstation PCs” with just a no-reboot login to an Azure Active Directory. This is just speculation, of course, and speculation on a rumor at that.

The Workstation mode is kind-of interesting, though. The Windows 10 Creators Update introduced Game Mode, which allowed games to be prioritized over other software for higher performance (although it hasn’t been a hit so far). Last month, they also announced power management features to throttle background apps, but only when running on battery power. It makes sense that Microsoft would apply the same concepts wherever it would be beneficial, whether that’s optimizing for performance or efficiency for any given workload.

It does seem like an odd headlining feature for a new edition, which I’d assume requires an up-sell over the typical Windows 10 Pro SKU, when they haven’t demonstrated a clear win for Game Mode yet? What do you all think?

Source: The Verge