All | Editorial | General Tech | Graphics Cards | Networking | Motherboards | Cases and Cooling | Processors | Chipsets | Memory | Displays | Systems | Storage | Mobile | Shows and Expos
Subject: General Tech | November 8, 2016 - 03:00 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: voco, stylit, premiere pro, clovervr, audition, Adobe
At their annual MAX show, Adobe hosts a keynote called “Sneak Peeks”. Some of theses contain segments that are jaw-dropping. For instance, there was an experimental plug-in at Adobe MAX 2011 that analyzed how a camera moved while its shutter was open, and used that data to intelligently reduce the resulting motion blur from the image. Two years later, the technology eventually made its way into Photoshop. If you're wondering, the shadowy host on the right was Rainn Wilson from the US version of The Office, which should give some context to the humor.
While I couldn't find a stream of this segment as it happened, Adobe published three videos after-the-fact. The keynote was co-hosted by Jordan Peele and, while I couldn't see her listed anywhere, I believe the other co-host is
Elissa Dunn Scott from Adobe. ((Update, November 8th @ 12pm EST: Turns out I was wrong, and it was Kim Chambers from Adobe. Thanks Anonymous commenter!))
The first (and most popular one to be reported on) is VoCo, which is basically an impressive form of text-to-speech. Given an audio waveform of a person talking, you are able to make edits by modifying the transcript. In fact, you are even able to write content that wasn't even in the original recording, and the plug-in will synthesize it based on what it knows of that person's voice. They claim that about 20 minutes of continuous speech is required to train the plug-in, so it's mostly for editing bloopers in audio books and podcasts.
In terms of legal concerns, Adobe is working on watermarking and other technologies to prevent spoofing. Still, it proves that the algorithm is possible (and on today's hardware) so I'm sure that someone else, if they weren't already working on it, might be now, and they might not be implementing the same protections. This is not Adobe's problem, of course. A company can't (and shouldn't be able to) prevent society from inventing something (although I'm sure the MPAA would love that). They can only research it themselves, and be as ethical with it as they can, or sit aside while someone else does it. Also, it's really on society to treat the situations correctly in the first place.
Moving on to the second demo: Stylit. This one is impressive in its own way, although not quite as profound. Basically, using a 2D drawing of a sphere, an artist can generate a material that can be applied to a 3D render. Using whatever they like, from pencil crayons to clay, the image will define the color and pattern of the shading ramp on the sphere, the shadow it casts, the background, and the floor. It's a cute alternating to mathematically-generated cell shading materials, and it even works in animation.
I guess you could call this a... 3D studio to the MAX... ... Mayabe?
The Stylit demo is available for free at their website. It is based on CUDA, and requires a fairly modern card (they call out the GTX 970 specifically) and a decent webcam (C920) or Android smartphone.
Lastly, CloverVR is and Adobe Premiere Pro interface in VR. This will seem familiar if you were following Unreal Engine 4's VR editor development. Rather than placing objects in a 3D scene, though, it helps the editor visualize what's going on in their shot. The on-stage use case is to align views between shots, so someone staring at a specific object will cut to another object without needing to correct with their head and neck, which is unnecessarily jarring.
Annnd that's all they have on their YouTube at the moment.
Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2016 - 09:07 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, steam, pc gaming
As we mentioned last week, Valve was working on a major refresh of the Steam homepage, with a heavy emphasis on letting users find products that interest them. This update is now live, and will be presented to you the
new next time you load (or reload) the store page. They also have a banner link, right near the top, that highlights changes, including a few they've already made over the course of 2016.
One glaring thing that I note is the “Recently Viewed” block. There doesn't seem to be a way to disable this or otherwise limit the amount of history that it stores. While this is only visible to your account, which should be fairly obvious, it could be a concern for someone who shares a PC or streams regularly. It's not a big issue, but it's one that you would expect to have been considered.
Otherwise, I'd have to say that the update looks better. The dark gray and blue color scheme seems a bit more consistent than it was, and I definitely prefer the new carousel design.
What do you all think?
Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2016 - 01:24 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: contest, Dtto
This year there were over 1000 entries to the Hack a Day prize, they needed to be new projects which exemplified the five themes of the contest; Assistive Technologies, Automation, Citizen Scientist, Anything Goes, and Design Your Concept. The top prize winner is a modular robot, made from 3D printed parts, servo motors, magnets, and electronics you can easily source. There was also a Reflectance Transformation Imaging project to photograph a fixed object in varying light conditions, an optics bench for making science projects involving light much easier to set up and new high resolution tilt sensors and stepper motors. Check out the projects over at Hack a Day, they include the notes on how to replicate these buids yourself.
"Dtto, a modular robot designed with search and rescue in mind, has just been named the winner of the 2016 Hackaday Prize. In addition to the prestige of the award, Dtto will receive the grand prize of $150,000 and a residency at the Supplyframe Design Lab in Pasadena, CA."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft has ramped up the pop-up ads in Windows 10 again @ The Inquirer
- VicoVation Vico-MF3 Extreme Car Camcorder Review @ NikKTech
- The Linux Foundation Issues 2016 Guide to Open Source Cloud Projects @ Linux.com
- NikKTech & AeroCool / Thunder X3 Be Very Cool WorldWide Giveaway
Subject: General Tech | November 6, 2016 - 02:11 AM | Scott Michaud
If you're using the free version of LastPass to guard your passwords, you can now access your vault through the mobile app for free. Previously, a subscription to LastPass Premium, which is about $12 per year, was required to use the service outside of desktop browser extensions and the website. The subscription service still exists, but for its other benefits, like sharing your vault with up to five other users, two-factor authentication through YubiKey, or securely storing 1GB of files (which could be good for things like encryption keyfiles to personal web servers).
The native Windows “LastPass for Applications” is still Premium-class, though.
If you are still interested in LastPass Premium, they are participating in the Humble Lifehacker Software Bundle. Users who do not currently have LastPass Premium, who also pay more than (currently) $7.64 USD, will get 12 months. They will also get DisplayFusion and CyberGhost VPN, as well as everything in the $1 tier, like a couple of Stardock enhancements for Windows.
Subject: General Tech | November 6, 2016 - 12:00 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: left 4 dead, pc gaming
The first Left 4 Dead was developed by Turtle Rock Studios during their brief time as a Valve subsidiary. At some point, they were working on a fifth campaign that was intended to bridge the gap between Dead Air and Blood Harvest. Players start at the landed plane and work their way toward a hydroelectric dam. One section, contrary to the game's theme, was apparently designed to encourage survivors to split up, some in a sniper tower and others running through a trench.
Image Credit: Wikipedia
Turtle Rock Studios has apparently streamed gameplay at some point. Since then, they published the campaign as a Left 4 Dead mod. It's not finished, and apparently quite glitchy, although I haven't played it yet, but it's free.
Check out the post at their forums, which has a link to concept material and the mod itself.
Subject: General Tech | November 5, 2016 - 04:09 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Windows 7, windows 10, microsoft
For the second month in a row, NetMarketShare are reporting that Windows 7 is gaining market-share faster than Windows 10. It's difficult to know exactly what this means, and for who, but one possible explanation is that users upgraded to Windows 10 and rolled back to 7 in significant amounts. It will be interesting to monitor the next couple of months, now that Windows 7 is no longer available at retail, to see how its market-share shifts. Then, a few months after that, we'll need to see how Zen and Kaby Lake, which are not supported by Windows 7 and Windows 8.x, changes that further.
I'll now spend the rest of the post discussing statistics... because I can visualize the comments.
NetMarketShare records browser identification strings from partnered websites. As you would expect, there's a bit of controversy regarding how accurate their numbers are. Some of this criticism is simply wrong, usually misunderstanding how small a truly random sample needs to be to converge to the same ratios you will see in a large sample. Just a thousand truly random samples can get you within a few percent of hundreds of millions of people. Studies like this, if they are truly random, have plenty enough data to get a very precise ratio.
A valid concern, however, is whether their pool of websites under- or over-represent certain groups, especially when you attempt to make comparisons on the order of a hundredth of a percent. NetMarketShare claims that they try to get a global representation, including government websites, and they correct their traffic based on the CIA's per-country statistics. Still, it's good to question whether the group of people you are trying to investigate are represented by NetMarketShare's traffic, and how their limitations lower your effective precision.
Subject: General Tech | November 5, 2016 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Samsung, euv, 7nm, 14nm, 10nm
As the comments usually remind us, the smallest feature size varies in interpretation from company to company, and node to node. You cannot assume how Samsung compares with Intel, GlobalFoundries, or TSMC based on the nanometer rating alone, better or worse. In fact, any specific fabrication process, when compared to another one, might be better in some ways yet worse in others.
With all of that in mind, Samsung has announced the progress they've made with 14nm, 10nm, and 7nm fabrication processes. First, they plan to expand 14nm production with 14LPU. I haven't been able to figure out what this specific branding stands for, but I'm guessing it's something like “Low Power Ultra” given that it's an engineering name and those are usually super literal (like the other suffixes).
As for the other suffixes, Samsung begins manufacturing nodes with Low Power Early (LPE). From there, they improve upon their technique, providing higher performance and/or lower power, and call this new process Low Power Plus (LPP). LPC, which I believe stands for something like Low Power Cost, although I haven't seen this acronym officially expanded, removes a few manufacturing steps to make the end product cheaper. LPU is an extension of LPC with higher performance. Add the appropriate acronym as a suffix to the claimed smallest feature size, and you get the name of the node: xxLPX.
14LPU is still a ways out, though. Their second announcement, 10LPU, is expected to be their cost-reduction step for 10nm, which I interpret to mean they are omitting LPC from their 10nm production. You may think this is very soon, given how 10LPE has just started mass production a few weeks ago. Really, this is a quite early announcement in terms of overall 10nm production. The process design kits (PDKs) for both 14LPU and 10LPU, which are used by hardware vendors to design their integrated circuits, won't ship until 2Q17. As such, products will be a while behind that.
To close out, Samsung reiterated that 7nm is planned to use extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV). They have apparently created a wafer using 7nm EUV, but images do not seem to be provided.
Development kits for 14LPU and 10LPU are expected to ship in the second quarter of 2017.
Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2016 - 06:21 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: blizzard, pc gaming, diablo, diablo iii
Starting in the Public Test Realm next week, Diablo 3 will receive a campaign that is based on the original game, which turns 20 years old on New Year's Eve. Like the original game, you will fight down the levels of a dungeon into Hell where you fight and kill Diablo. Pardon the spoilers.
The patch, called The Darkening of Tristram, seems to be taken light-heartedly by the company. They announce that it will add a low-quality rendering mode to pay homage to graphical limitations of 1996. More functionality, they also force the character to move in eight directions, which I'm not sure it's tongue-in-cheek or actually implemented for gameplay reasons.
Either way, you can check it out next week by joining the beta realm.
Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2016 - 05:33 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: epic games, valve, htc, vr funhouse, nvidia
In early September, we posted about a VR game jam that was coming to Hamburg, Germany by Epic Games, NVIDIA, HTC, and Valve. The companies wanted to increase the amount of content available so, with the release of the VR Funhouse mod kit, they rented a boat, docked it really well, and let indie developers do their thing around the clock. Seven teams of three-to-five participated, and the public were invited to play around with the results.
Most of the entries deviated from the literal fun-house theme to some extent. Probably the most original game is one where users play a kid in a candy store, trying to evade detection while gorging on sweet, sweet candy. Go figure, it's called Kid in a Candy Store. The closest to the literal interpretation of the theme is Beer Beer Beer and Sausages, where you serve carnival food, with real beer and mustard fluid simulations.
Two of the games, Beer Beer Beer and Sausages and Waiter Wars, are available for free on the VR Funhouse Steam Workshop page. I'm not sure what happened to the rest. The Unreal Engine post seems to suggest that they are supposed to be here, but maybe some of the teams are looking to polish it up a little first.
Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2016 - 02:55 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: blizzard, google, ai, deep learning, Starcraft II
Blizzard and DeepMind, which was acquired by Google in 2014 and is now a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., have just announced opening up StarCraft II for AI research. DeepMind was the company that made AlphaGo, which beat Lee Sedol, a grandmaster of Go, in a best-of-five showmatch with a score of four to one. They hinted at possibly having a BlizzCon champion, some year, do a showmatch as well, which would be entertaining.
StarCraft II is different from Go in three important ways. First, any given player knows what they scout, which they apparently will constrain these AI to honor. Second, there are three possible match-ups for any choice of race, except random, which has nine. Third, it's real-time, which can be good for AI, because they're not constrained by human input limitations, but also difficult from a performance standpoint.
From Blizzard's perspective, better AI can be useful, because humans need to be challenged to learn. Novices won't be embarrassed to lose to a computer over and over, so they can have a human-like opponent to experiment with. Likewise, grandmasters will want to have someone better than them to keep advancing, especially if it allows them to keep new strategies hidden. From DeepMind's perspective, this is another step in AI research, which could be applied to science, medicine, and so forth in the coming years and decades.
Unfortunately, this is an early announcement. We don't know any more details, although they will have a Blizzcon panel on Saturday at 1pm EDT (10am PDT).
Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2016 - 12:51 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ZX Spectrum Vega+
If you backed the return of Sinclair's ZX Spectrum Vega+ then The Inquirer has good news for you, it should be arriving in the near future. It ships with roughly 1000 retro games installed and with an SD card you can add any of your favourites you can use an SD card to add them. The Vega+ can hook up to an external display and keyboard, not just to game but also to help if you plan on coding on the device. Once all the backers have received theirs you will begin to see the Vega+ for sale, so you did not miss out if you did not back it. The Inquirer was happy to note that games now launch in mere seconds as opposed to the minutes the original required.
"Our backers will be getting their machines first, before the press, before the shops. It’s because of them that we’re here and we owe it to them to make sure they get their Vega first," explained Suzanne Martin of Retro Computers, the company behind the project."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Gigabyte to push Aorus motherboards and graphics cards @ DigiTimes
- ARMed and dangerous, Mate: Huawei slips new Cortex cores into Samsung Note killer @ The Register
- Amazon's very own Linux now available for download @ The Register
- Here We Go Again: Microsoft's Popping Up Ads From the Windows 10 Toolbar @ Slashdot
- Windows 10 updates are about to become less painful @ The Inquirer
- Leaks password, check. Leaks Wi-Fi password, check. Can be spoofed, check. Ding! We have an Internet of S**t winner @ The Register
- Netgear Nighthawk X4S D7800 AC2600 WiFi VDSL/ADSL Modem Router Review @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2016 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows update, windows 10, microsoft
In a blog post, yesterday, Microsoft outlined their Unified Update Platform (UUP) initiative. The short version of this story is that UUP, which is expected to affect consumers with the major update after the Windows 10 Creators Update, will shrink download sizes of updates by omitting portions that are already on your device. They claim that it is expected to result in about 35% less bandwidth used by a major update.
Beyond bandwidth, Microsoft also claims that this will help battery life and time spent searching for updates, because the difference is calculated in the cloud. (I guess you can call that reAzurement. I'll see myself out.) At least for mobile, I can see how this might be cheaper than the new system completely client-side. I wouldn't say the current method is too slow, though. I mean, it takes a while, especially a Windows 8.1 laptop I have at times, but I don't really see how it would help a gaming PC that likely has a faster processor than their servers.
Also, if you're the type of person who likes to scorch earth on a regular basis, I'm guessing Microsoft will still be providing ISOs that can either clean install or perform the typical update method. Also, this new feature will reduce the download size of cumulative updates, which are inherently very redundant, so that should be good.
I can't think of a real negative to this, especially not with the ISO workaround for the more picky power users. Maybe I'm not thinking of something, though, but it sounds like a net win (unless it turns out to be an unstable mess).
Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2016 - 09:14 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
"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.
Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2016 - 05:04 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: bethesda, pc gaming, skyrim
Despite the complaints that are seen across the internet, the launch of Skyrim Special Edition (on PC) has not been bad. If you received it for free, because you own the original Skyrim and all of its paid DLC, then it delivers a newer engine with more rendering features and the potential to handle much more modded content at the same time. It is a new game, though, and I think users were expecting to binge on it at launch, when it will take a bit of time to catch up to the original game.
Speaking of catching up, though, Bethesda has released a beta patch for the PC version. Skyrim Special Edition 1.1.51 will remove compression on “some” sound files, which was a major complaint that circled the web since release. They also fixed a few bugs with the save games, performance, and NPC behavior.
To access it, switch Skyrim Special Edition to the Beta channel on Steam by right clicking on the game in your library, clicking properties, and changing the drop-down in the betas tab.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | November 3, 2016 - 01:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: VRMark, Futuremark, Blue Room, Orange Room, VR
Futuremark's VRMark is available today via Steam or directly from Futuremark. As with 3DMark the basic version is free while the Advanced Edition is $20, with a 25% discount for the first week of its release.
The difference between the two versions is the inclusion of the Blue Room in addition to the Orange Room; the Blue Room is for high end systems which surpass the basic VR requirements and need heavier loads to test. The two rooms can be used to run either a standard benchmark or to enter Experience Mode which lets you wander the room on your own to get a feel for the headsets reprojection performance as well as spatial audio and an interactive flashlight to test lighting.
VRMark Basic Edition - free download
- See if your PC meets the performance requirements for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift
- Test your system's VR readiness with the Orange Room benchmark
- Explore the Orange Room in Experience mode
VRMark Advanced Edition - $19.99
- Unlock the Blue Room benchmark for high-performance PCs
- See detailed results and hardware monitoring charts
- Explore both rooms in Experience mode
- Make tests more or less demanding with custom settings.
VRMark comes with two VR benchmark tests, which you can run on your desktop monitor, no headset required, or on a connected HMD. There is also a free-roaming Experience mode that lets you judge the quality of a system's VR performance with your own eyes.
The performance requirements for VR games are much higher than for typical PC games. So if you're thinking about buying an HTC Vive or an Oculus Rift this holiday, wouldn't it be good to know that your PC is ready for VR?
VRMark includes two VR benchmark tests that run on your monitor, no headset required. At the end of each test, you'll see whether your PC is VR-ready, and if not, how far it falls short.
Orange Room benchmark
The VRMark Orange Room benchmark shows the impressive level of detail that can be achieved on a PC that meets the recommended hardware requirements for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. If your PC passes this test, it's ready for the two most popular VR systems available today.
Blue Room benchmark
The VRMark Blue Room benchmark is a more demanding test with a greater level of detail. It is the ideal benchmark for comparing high-end systems with specs above the recommended requirements for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. A PC that passes this test will be able to run the latest VR games at the highest settings, and may even be VR-ready for the next generation of VR headsets.
Results and reporting
After running a benchmark, you'll see clearly whether your PC is VR-ready or not. To pass, your PC has to meet or exceed the target frame rate without dropping frames. You also get an overall score, which you can use to compare systems.
Hardware monitoring charts show how your PC performed frame-by-frame. There are charts for frame rate, GPU frequency, GPU load, and GPU temperature.
VR headsets use clever techniques to compensate for missed frames. With Experience mode, you can judge the quality of the VR experience with your own eyes. VRMark Experience mode features free movement, spatial audio, and an interactive flashlight for lighting up the details of the scene. Explore each scene in your own time in VR or on your monitor.
Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2016 - 12:51 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Just how easy is it to intercept your cellphone signals, be it texting or calling? Julian Oliver showed off the simplicity of it by adding a GSM base station to the internals of an HP printer and thanks to its proximity to your phone it easily overpowers the signal sent by your providers cell tower. It can text and call you or intercept anything sent from your phone once your device connects, showing just how easily unencrypted cell signals can be monitored. This particular project is for an art show with warnings displayed for attendees, as this is to highlight the simplicity of eavesdropping as opposed to the nefarious purposes it could easily server. Drop by Ars Technica for more detail, including the code he used.
"Earlier this week, the Berlin-based hacker-artist unveiled the result: An entirely boring-looking Hewlett Packard printer that also secretly functions as a rogue GSM cell base station, tricking your phone into connecting to it rather than your phone carrier’s tower, effectively intercepting your calls and text messages."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Str-NAND-ed: Flash chip drought hits tech world @ The Register
- Microsoft's chaps slap Slack chat brats with yackety-yak app @ The Register
- Bow to your Sensei! Adobe adds machine learning and design tool to Creative Cloud @ The Register
- Nearly 9 Out of 10 Smartphones Shipped Run On Android @ Slashdot
- Google's Android Studio 2.2 means total Eclipse to depart @ The Inquirer
- Google Home review: A step forward for hotwords, a step backward in capability @ Ars Technica
- News, Details and Speculations on the PS4 Neo @ Hardware Secrets
Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2016 - 10:35 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: vrm, video, skyrim, qualcomm, prodigy, powercolor, podcast, nxp, multi-gpu, msi, micron, logitech, GTX 1080, gtx 1070, g231, evga, dx12, devil box, deus ex: mankind divided, amd, Alienware 13
PC Perspective Podcast #423 - 11/03/16
Join us this week as we discuss the Logitech Prodigy G231, multi-GPU scaling with DX12, Qualcomm buying NXP, issues with GTX 1070 and 1080 cards 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)
- Google Play - Subscribe to our audio podcast directly through Google Play!
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader (audio only)
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom
Program length: 1:10:25
Fragging Frogs VLAN 14 (summary)
Week in Review:
Today’s episode is brought to you by Harry’s! Use code PCPER at checkout!
News items of interest:
0:28:45 Qualcomm is going for a drive
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
Jeremy: Need big long term storage
Subject: General Tech, Displays, Systems | November 3, 2016 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Update November 3rd @ 2:20pm: As noted in the comments, the video and article are back from 2014. As I said in the article, the concept was teased in Adobe MAX, but I must have found an old source and misread the date. I've also embed the new video just below.
Original post below
Adobe MAX started yesterday, and Dell used it as a venue to announce their Smart Desk concept. While it draws comparisons with Microsoft's Surface Studio, especially with their dial-based input accessory, it's unclear whether the similarities stop. For instance, while they promote how it uses “Dell Precision workstation performance,” they don't explicitly state that it is a PC itself. Unlike the Surface Studio, it might be a peripheral to be paired with a full desktop, which its thin profile suggests, unless it requires a specific device that's just not pictured.
I mean, it would be possible to fit a laptop into a twenty-some-inch tablet that's designed to permanently sit on a desk, but, unless the software requires deep OS integration, you would think that going the Wacom route would be a win for both parties. While powering hardware wouldn't be an issue, you would still need to use slower-for-the-price laptop components to dissipate heat and exist in a small volume. If it does contain a PC, it would be running Windows 10, too, because that was clearly shown on the secondary UltraSharp 27 monitor attached to it. On the other hand, the interface, while nothing about it excludes being a complex driver for everyday desktops, is the sort of thing that a company would do if they're shipping it in a full PC.
We'll know more in the future as Dell spills the beans (and probably develops a marketable product to have beans spilled over). What would you be more interested in? An all-in-one or a peripheral?
Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2016 - 03:58 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: steam, valve, pc gaming
According to leaked images of an announcement that Valve made to Steam developers, which PC Gamer claims to have confirmed with Valve, the digital distribution platform will undergo several changes in “a couple weeks”. The message calls this initiative “Discovery Update 2.0”. While I would guess that this is the final name, it could be a placeholder that tells developers to expect changes similar to 2014's Discovery Update, which introduced Steam Curators and the Discovery Queue to the front page.
A lot of the changes, like the original Discovery Update, affect how games can be found on the front page. There will be a focus on promoting whatever the user's Steam friends are consuming as well as elevating the visibility of the “Top Selling New Releases” screen. The will also be more picky about who to show ads for new games to, which Valve expects will lead to fewer impressions, but hopefully higher click-through.
Valve will also refresh the Steam Curator feature by allowing them to communicate about titles in a more nuanced way, possibly without even making a recommendation one way or the other at all. We'll need to wait a little while and see how it is actually implemented, along with all of the other changes, but they might nudge the platform away from the visibility issues that users and indie developers alike were complaining about. At the very least, you can expect Valve to carefully measure how sales are impacted by these alterations, and continue to experiment with why.
Then we get to the screenshot policy.
Two changes are planned, each addressing a wholly different issue. The first change regards mature content. Valve does not seem to be planning to discourage gory, lewd, or offensive content, but rather force developers to properly tag their content so the user can filter out what they aren't interest in (or disgusted by). Of course, censorship could creep in with the correct mix of misguided good intentions and complacency, but that doesn't seem to be the goal, which should mean that accidents will be fixed as they arise.
The other change alters the way they intend screenshots to be used. Previously, they were treated like promotional content, even by Valve. In fact, their one example picked apart the store page of their own game, DOTA 2. Valve seems to want to change it into a glimpse of the actual game, like a demo in still image form. Basically, the “screenshots” section is turning more literally into a section of screenshots, rather than, as they verbatim say, concept art, pre-rendered cinematic stills, or images that contain awards, marketing copy, or written product descriptions. “Please show customers what your game is actually like to play.”
This all seems like fairly routine changes to me, although we will need to wait until it's live (or another leak occurs) to truly know.
Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2016 - 03:07 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 10, VR, snapdragon 820, qualcomm, microsoft, idol 4s, alcatel
While it does make a little sense if you pay attention, I guess, Microsoft's business in the mobile space has been... sporadic. Initiatives seem to come and go with little notice, and they may or may not oppose one another. To me, they do seem to point to Microsoft wanting to keep Windows Mobile relevant as a third-place contender, but they realize that, outside of leaning it against the development of Windows 10 for PCs, it's a money pit. Its problems cannot be solved by simply throwing money at it, so don't throw any more than is necessary.
Through this lens, the recent announcement of the Alcatel IDOL 4S makes a bit of sense. Google has not secured their place in mobile VR, and Apple isn't even trying to enter this segment (as best as we can tell). Microsoft is also into VR and AR on the PC and console side of things, so I'm guessing that even that cost can be dulled slightly. As such, why not release a phone that has roughly the same specs as a ZTE Axon 7, which is itself positioned as a first wave of mobile Google Daydream VR devices, and hopefully plant your foot somewhere in this space? They even have an OEM partner covering the hardware side of things.
So, basically, it seems like last year, when we heard that Windows 10 Mobile would be quiet, it wasn't so much an admission of defeat. They really seem to be moving forward, slow and steady.