Razer Patches Two Security Vulnerabilities

Subject: General Tech | August 5, 2017 - 11:20 PM |
Tagged: razer

Back in July, a security research group, SecureState, published two vulnerabilities after privately disclosing them to Razer back in March and April. The first vulnerability could lead to a blue-screen of death for the affected machine, although it would need to be triggered by another applications running on the machine. Forcing a blue-screen could be intimidating, but there would be plenty of other things that a malicious application could do if it was able to do that.

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The second issue was more concerning, though. This one allowed, again, another application running on the machine to gain NT_AUTHORITY\SYSTEM privileges. For instance, a user could think that they’re installing a mod for a game, and their computer is completely owned. At the time, Razer did not publish an update, so the company recommended uninstalling Razer Synapse.

Now, as of August 1st, according to Tom’s Hardware, Razer has pushed the update. If you uninstalled Razer Synapse, it’s once again safe. You know, as safe as any other device driver.

The International 2017 (TI 7) Starts on Monday

Subject: General Tech | August 5, 2017 - 09:17 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, valve, DOTA 2

Valve’s biggest DOTA 2 tournament, The International, is set to begin on Monday. While the initial prize pool was set at $1.6 million USD, that has since increased to $23,748,880 (and still rising). The format will be double-elimination, upper and lower brackets. The top eight qualifiers are in the upper bracket, where, if they lose, they will drop to the lower bracket (except the team that makes it to the grand finals -- they don’t get two lifes against the lower bracket competitor). The bottom eight qualifiers start in the lower bracket, where, if they lose, they’re out. All pairings are best-of-three, except the grand finals, which are best-of-five.

valve-2016-the-international-6-logo.png

Like last year, they are doing a “DOTA VR Theater” for those with SteamVR-compatible hardware. This can be used for both replays and live games, including the ability to see the map at human-scale. I’m not sure if it has been significantly updated since last year, but, if you found it entertaining (or you didn’t experience it last year) then it might be something to check out.

The first match, Team Liquid vs Invictus Gaming, is scheduled to begin at 10am PDT (1pm EDT) on Monday!

Source: Valve

Rip enough threads and you are going to spring a leak, AMD's Threadripper 1920

Subject: General Tech | August 4, 2017 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: amd, ryzen, Threadripper, 1920, xfr, leak

Thanks to a few motherboard makers and some good eyes, we now know there will be a Threadripper part without support for AMD's eXtended Frequency Range.  The slightly lower frequencies, 3.2-3.8GHz and lack of XFR suggest this part will sell for less than the $800 which the 1920X is slated to be released at.  This should not mean the chip will not benefit from any of the features of XFR, only that the frequency increments will be larger and less reactive than on an XFR chip, as Tim explained a while back.  There is a benefit to that lack as well, the TDP drops 40W to 140W.  This is a leak so it is possible some of the information is wrong; however it was found in several different places and looks to have been posted accidentally as opposed to release to fuel rumours so it is quite likely the information you can see over at PCWorld is accurate.

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"Tweakers discovered the Threadripper 1920 listed on websites for Asus, Gigabyte, and ASRock. PCWorld was able to confirm the listing on Gigabyte and ASRock’s sites, though Asus has since scrubbed its support page for the $550 ROG Zenith Extreme entirely."

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Source: PCWorld

Happy unboxing day, rip them threads

Subject: General Tech | August 3, 2017 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: amd, Threadripper, unboxing, angel hair

Unboxing videos are perhaps second only to booth babe videos in terms of uselessness; however with Threadripper there is some information to convey.  The mounting process for these new processors is very different than the ZIF of old and while we cannot provide you with any benchmarks we can show you how to install a Threadripper CPU properly.  For those that learn more from their failures than their successes, which should be most of you, Kyle at [H]ard|OCP can give you some insight on just how fragile the pins on these new processors are.

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"We show you how "easily" the AMD Threadripper comes out of the box, and some hilarity ensues, and then we take you through the simple steps of Threadripper installation. I would consider this a PSA as well because I destroyed the socket on my TR4 motherboard."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Podcast #461 - AMD Ryzen 3, Threadripper, Logitech Powerplay, and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 3, 2017 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: podcast, wolfenstein, wdc, Vibe, Vega Nano, Threadripper, ryzen 3, radeon rx vega, QLC, htc, Fanatec, Clubsport lite elite, BiCS3, amd, video

PC Perspective Podcast #461 - 08/03/17

Join us for AMD Ryzen 3, Threadripper, Logitech Powerplay, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

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

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:38:20

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. 1:25:45 Ryan: Logitech G903
    2. 1:34:05 Allyn: Things I would have loved to grow up learning / playing (pixel kit): 1 2
  4. Closing/outro

Source:

Unreal Engine 4 Enterprise Sizzle Video

Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2017 - 11:41 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, epic games, unreal engine 4, ue4

Apart from a Fortnite clip that they snuck in, Epic Games has published a video to highlight the recent use of Unreal Engine 4 in the enterprise. The game engine is attractive to several industries, including architectural visualization, product demos, and even rendering video for TVs and movies. For instance, you can walk through a building (even in VR) that you’re intending to create and move walls around, or customize a car and see it in that state before you order it.

One that caught my eye was the Paris VR demo from The Chainsmokers and Sony Music. This was the first that I’ve heard of it, but I find kind-of abstract, music video demos interesting. It reminds me a little of the Ellie Goulding WebGL demo from back in 2011. It should be a cute little demo if you have a PSVR, although you can also watch a playthrough on YouTube.

Amazon Web Services Releases Lumberyard Beta 1.10

Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2017 - 08:03 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, amazon

Amazon Web Services launched a new version of their Lumberyard game engine at SIGGRAPH. They advertise that the new version, Lumberyard Beta 1.10, is 50% original code from when they launched back in February 2016. The engine started as a fork of CryEngine, and I’ve watched it evolve rapidly since about November. They’re pushing the engine into sort-of an entity-component framework, similar to Unity, but with a focus on C++ and Lua. You create scripts that define some functionality, then place them on the relevant entities (versus making a hierarchy of strict subclasses like you would do in Unreal Engine 4’s C++ API).

Amazon’s visual scripting system, Script Canvas, was supposed to launch in 1.10 but I can’t see it mentioned so I’m guessing it slipped.

So what does the version have? Mostly a bunch of new rendering features. Lumberyard 1.10 adds temporal anti-aliasing and order-independent transparency. Lumberyard, because it is a deferred renderer, cannot use MSAA. The engine currently supports FXAA and SMAA, as well as supersampling of course, but 1.10 adds TAA, which blends parts of previous frames into the current one. Since the point of anti-aliasing is to know all the geometry that makes up a pixel, not just what is on top and dead center, sub-pixel variation should eventually average out to a clean image.

Order-independent transparency should be more interesting. I don’t think it’s currently available in Unreal Engine 4 or (stock) Unity 5, although I could be wrong on that, but it is noticeable for scenes with a lot of transparency. To drive the point home, NVIDIA Research made a demo in Lumberyard for GDC with glasses in a bar, embedded above. As the camera pans around the glasses, you can see the multiple reflections in the top-left side of the upside-down glass is much more stable on the left image, and where the two reflections meet in the center blends correctly.

Lumberyard 1.10 also includes a lot of editor UI tweaks, which isn’t appealing to write about but... honestly... that’s what you want in a professional content creation tool update. Their entity component tools seem to be growing nicely from the screenshots I’ve seen.

You can download Lumberyard 1.10 free from their website.

Source: Amazon

Hit the town in Pillars of Eternity 2

Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2017 - 01:55 PM |
Tagged: Pillars of Eternity 2, gaming

A new video showing off Pillars of Eternity 2 game play was posted over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN.  It focuses on a town called Nekataka which you will be exploring in the sequel to the popular RPG.  Sailing will also be a large part of the game, not just for fast travel as there will also be naval combat, a feature with a troubled history in gaming.  There is still no specific release date for the game, only that it will launch in 2018.  It is fully funded but you can still get backer bonuses if you head to their Fig page and donate.

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"How pleasing it is, then, to see precisely the kind of big old city I want to visit in the latest update video. It’s called Neketaka, a name I will always enjoy saying out loud but will almost certainly mangle the vowels of every time I write it down."

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Acer's take on a VR headset comes at a reasonable price

Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2017 - 12:55 PM |
Tagged: AR, acer

Acer's new mixed reality headset, is now available from the Microsoft Store.  The $300 price tag compares extremely favourably to the $3000 Hololens that Microsoft is selling.  The two headsets will both run on Windows Holographic and will have steep hardware requirements.  Acer recommends a Ryzen 8 1700 or Core i7 paired with at least an RX 480 or GTX 980 and 16GB of RAM.  The headset will not be able to overlay virtual images over real objects, hence the mixed reality moniker, rather it will be somewhat like a VR environment to work in.  Drop by The Inquirer for a peek.

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"The headset we tested in prototype last month is available to anyone looking to build content for it, for $300 a squirt. It had been made available in private beta to some devs back in April but now it's in the Microsoft Store."

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Source: The Inquirer

Slip a Viper on your head, Patriot's new gaming headsets

Subject: General Tech | August 1, 2017 - 01:59 PM |
Tagged: audio, patriot, V361, V370, gaming headset, virtual 7.1, Viper

Patriot's new Viper V361 And V370 headsets are virtual twins, virtual 7.1 surround sound in fact.  They share the same specifications, a dynamic range of 20 Hz – 20 KHz, 32Ohm
impedance and 40mm neodymium drivers with 30mm neodymium sub-drivers to provide the virtual surround sound.  Indeed at first look the only difference is the price, $50 for the V361 and $70 for the V370.  Techgage discovered the difference, the V370 is thoroughly infected with RGB-itis, if you find yourself in need of a glowing head.  As for the audio quality, check out the full review.

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"How often does a product force you into an attitude adjustment? Patriot’s V361 and V370 headsets have revealed themselves to be a pair of price and performance champs. The best thing? They prove that virtual surround sound doesn’t need to be pricey to be desirable. Let’s check them out."

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Source: Techgage

Unmasking a new photolithography technique

Subject: General Tech | August 1, 2017 - 12:24 PM |
Tagged: photolithography, DOLFIN

In the eternal search for ways to fabricate smaller features in semiconductors, EUV seems to be the current focus for production facilities.  Researchers at the University of Chicago and the Argonne National Laboratory may have a solution which could prove to be very useful in the future and could even see the mask technology currently used in photolithography become obsolete.  DOLFIN, aka Direct Optical Lithography of Functional Inorganic Nanomaterials, creates features by making a film of nanoparticles with photoactive ligands which is then covered in a glas or quartz mask with a patterned metal layer and exposed to UV light.  This is very similar to current methods, the mask is reusable and the amount of UV light required is similar to that needed currently. 

This method differs in several ways, not least of which is it does not require as many rare and unhealthy solutes.  What could really help it take off is the fact that seems to be cheaper and more reliable than current processes and it is capable of creating a six-layer 3D pattern in 19 process steps; conventional technology would take 43 steps.  There is more over at Nanotechweb.

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"The fact that the dose of UV required in the new technique is comparable to that for conventional photoresists opens up a plethora of opportunities for advanced device manufacturing, he tells nanotechweb.org."

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Source: Nanotechweb

Flashback!

Subject: General Tech | July 31, 2017 - 01:11 PM |
Tagged: flash, Adobe, bad idea, open source

Just when you thought it was safe, there is a group who are attempting to ensure that Adobe Flash never dies, just like the killer from a horror movie in the 80's and 90's.  These poor misguided fools feel that by making Flash open source, the community will be able to salve the open sores which Flash is covered in.  If you can pass a sanity check, you might wonder why anyone would want to keep this application alive.  It would seem that the developer who started this petition on GitHub because "Flash is an important piece of Internet history and killing Flash means future generations can't access the past,".  One could make the same argument about Geocities and sound roughly as coherent.  You can pop over to The Inquirer for a name, as well as a link to the petition.

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"A LOYAL but misguided fool has started a petition in the hope of convincing Adobe to take Flash's source code into the open source."

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Source: The Inquirer

Conduct Psychic Warfare with MSI's new gaming mice

Subject: General Tech | July 28, 2017 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: msi, clutch, Clutch GM60, Clutch GM70, gaming mouse, wireless mouse, ambidextrous

MSI's Clutch GM 60 and Clutch GM70 gaming mice are almost twins, the difference being the GM70's support for wireless usage and a slight weight gain thanks to the required hardware.  Both of these mice are somewhat modifiable, you can switch out the wings as well as a portion of top shell; they are also symmetrical so can be used in either hand comfortably.  The mice contain a PMW 3360 optical sensor with sensitivity adjustable between 1000-3600 Hz in 100Hz steps.  Neoseeker tested out the performance of the mice for gaming and as a source for a funky light show in their recent review.

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"The Clutch GM 60 and Clutch GM70 gaming mice are essentially the same mouse design, with the GM70 model being a few grams heavier when calculating the added internal wireless hardware. Both mice come with two sets of side grips to allow the user to configure their mouse choice to fit their hand with a "dragon scale" pattern on the sides to facilitate a firm grip, improving movement precision during use."

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Source: Neoseeker

... and the crowd goes mild. Microsoft's Android integration starts out with a whimper

Subject: General Tech | July 28, 2017 - 12:19 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, Android

Can you imagine a world in which you're able to share links between your phone and computer?  This is the brave new frontier which Microsoft is exploring in Version 16251 of Win10 which will allow you to link to an Android phone via a app for Android on the Windows Store.  Mind you there are a variety of programs out there which already fulfill this purpose, The Inquirer offers an example here,  and if you sign into Chrome it will happily sync itself on all your devices.

On the other hand this is a first step towards admitting that Windows Mobile is not the success they had dreamed.  Microsoft does see this as a much a larger project and taking the initial steps slowly could help in the long run; as long as they can get people to notice what they are doing and attract at least some attention.

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"But it does lay foundations, and it does show intentions. It's hugely unlikely that Windows Mobile is ever going to claw its way back to the levels to compete with iOS and Android, so it is important that as it approaches its second birthday, Windows-as-a-Service is approachable from other mobile operating systems."

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Source: The Inquirer

Adobe Flash Is End of Life in 2020

Subject: General Tech | July 27, 2017 - 10:13 PM |
Tagged: Adobe

It’s been a long time in the making, but Adobe, Mozilla, Microsoft, Google, Apple, and others will completely end-of-life Flash Player by the end of 2020. Adobe will not update or even distribute the player after that point, and the browser vendors will block the plug-in. Until then, however, Adobe will continue to ship updates that improve security, fix bugs, and even possibly add features.

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Tilt your head 90-degrees left and you'll see why I chose this icon.

On the content creation side of things, Adobe rebranded Flash Professional into Animate CC about a year ago (February 2016) to signify its decoupling from the Flash platform. That was also around the time that they discontinued Adobe Edge, which was similar to Flash Professional but designed around HTML5 publishing, and pushed all of that work into Animate CC. If you’re into the Flash Professional workflow, then you will continue to use it, just with JavaScript instead of ActionScript (unless Adobe makes it compile down into WebAssembly or JavaScript at some point) and targeting Web technologies directly (or, of course, just export to linear, non-interactive video).

Interesting, it looks like Mozilla has stopped developing Shumway, which was a platform that ingested SWF files and executed them as JavaScript, about a year ago. Since it would only use web technologies, it wouldn’t have the security concerns that Flash Player would (because if someone knew how to use Shumway to exploit a browser, they could just make a malicious website that did it directly). That would have been an interesting way to preserve old Flash movies and games, without the original author converting it, but I guess it didn’t take off.

Now if only we could agree on a date for IPv6.

Source: Adobe

Podcast #460 - ASUS Max-Q, Surface vs. iPad, AMD Q2 Results, and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 27, 2017 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: ZM-K900M, Zephyrus, zalman, XG5, x370, video, usb 3.2, toshiba, Threadripper, Surface Pro, ryzen, ROG, RGB, podcast, max-q, ipad pro, GX501, EKWB, Crosshair VI, crimson relive, asus, AMD4, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #460 - 07/27/17

Join us for ASUS Max-Q, Surface vs. iPad, AMD Q2 Results, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

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

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg, Jim Tanous

Program length: 1:37:41

 
Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. 1:27:00 Allyn: Damn cheap 8TB drives (8TB Helium filled Reds!) ($160)
    2. 1:32:46 Alex: Bullet Bouquets - now with engraving!
  4. Closing/outro
 

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Source:

Stupid sexy Shelob?

Subject: General Tech | July 26, 2017 - 05:48 PM |
Tagged: weird, gaming, middle-earth, shadow of war

In the most bizarre departure from Tolkien's world yet, Shelob the child of Ungoliant now takes on a human form to help out the already strange pair of the undead Ranger Talion and his see through ringmaker buddy Celebrimbor. Apart from that, take a gander at the trailer which shows off what Shadow of War looks like and see if you can remember the Orc's which were your worst enemies as you may be meeting them again soon.  The trailer and more information can be yours by visiting Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN.

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"Middle-earth: Shadow of War is due October 10th, made by Monolith and published by Warner Bros. If you’d like, you can prepare for the launch by importing your Nemesis and dearest friend from Shadow of War."

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Just what we weren't asking for, a new USB standard

Subject: General Tech | July 26, 2017 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: usb 3.2, Type-C, USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C

Thanks to the USB Promoter Group we will soon be able to type out USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C when talking about new systems, which should not be confused with USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C.  The bandwidth will double to 20Gbps which is a good thing and shows that USB can continue to be a less expensive alternative to Thunderbolt which currently runs at 40Gbps.  The increase comes from a change in the way USB can connect, previous generations utilized only two pairs of wires unlike DisplayPort or TB3 which can use all four.  With the new standard, the USB protocol will also take advantage of all four pairs.  

If you managed to get hold of high quality Type-C cables which do not have a desire to start fires you will be able to take advantage of the new standard ... once you pick up new devices which support the USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C as Ars Technica reminds us.

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"If you've invested heavily in USB Type-C cables, the USB Promoter Group has some good news for you. The next version of USB, USB 3.2, will double the speed of existing Type-C cables. Cables currently qualified for USB 3.1 generation 1's 5Gbps will be able to operate at 10Gbps; those qualified for generation 2's 10Gbps will be able to run at 20Gbps"

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Source: Ars Technica

Your Roomba is spying on you and that fridge sure looks suspicious

Subject: General Tech | July 25, 2017 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: security, roomba, irobot, greed

It should be obvious to most that the new generation of Roombas builds up and saves a map of your house, that is how it memorizes how to navigate your floors to vacuum them.  One would also think it was obvious that this information should remain private; unfortunately iRobot does not seem to understand this.  They are in discussion with Apple, Amazon and Alphabet to determine a price at which iRobot will sell them the map of the parts of your house which your Roomba has traversed.  This should be somewhat disturbing to Roomba owners and likely very exciting to anyone who likes to wander univited into other people's homes.  The security of the data is not likely to be difficult to overcome for a motivated and skilled individual so keep that in mind if you are shopping for a robot vacuum.  You can pop by The Inquirer to read iRobot chief executive Colin Angle's bizarre response to tweets from concerned customers.

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"VACUUM CLEANER COMPANY iRobot, responsible for the 'smart' Roomba vacuum, is considering doing something really dumb - selling user mapping data to companies that would hand over how your house is laid out."

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Source: The Inquirer

Mark Papermaster on AMD's tiny things

Subject: General Tech | July 24, 2017 - 12:49 PM |
Tagged: amd, 7nm

Over at The Inquirer you can read a condensed version of AMD's Mark Papermaster discussion about the challenges of moving to a 7nm process node.  The size of AMD's design team have prompted them to take a modular approach to design so that circuits can be reused across CPU, GPU and semi-custom designs.  That allows the the same teams to work on multiple projects and for design successes to improve products across multiple lines, a must for a small team with such diverse products.

He also talks about "2.5-D chip stacks", using silicon interposers to connect processors and memory stacks side-by-side as a way to work on reducing to the 7nm node while waiting for foundries like GLOFO to retool to EUV lithography. He ends with a familiar request; that developers switch their focus to taking advantage of high core counts and parallel threads and away from single cores running at high frequencies.

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"Speaking to the EE Times, Papermaster said that, while AMD planned to run its second and third generation Zen architecture x86 microprocessors on 7nm, it would likely be a 'long node', like the 28nm process, "and when you have a long node it lets the design team focus on micro-architecture and systems solutions", rather than simply redesigning standard ‘blocks'."

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Source: The Inquirer