VLAN the 16th, the Fragging Frogs are hosting a party on Saturday August 26 and you are invited

Subject: General Tech | August 9, 2017 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: VLAN party, kick ass, gaming, fragging frogs

It is time for another Fragging Frogs VLAN, the best way to avoid getting sunburnt during this rather warm summer.  It will kick off at 10AM EDT on Saturday August 26th and continue until the last member succumbs to the need to sleep.  If you have never attended one of these events, please take a look through the guidelines which Lenny has posted here to get an idea of how the Frogs roll, not to mention posting in the thread to let us know you are coming.  This would also be a requirement to have your name added to the draws for secret prizes, of which there will be more than a few.

The format is very flexible and you get a say in which games will be played; anything is possible so if you have a favourite please add it into that forum thread as you never know how many others might want to play with you.  Check your patches and update your Teamspeak client to ensure you get the most gaming time possible.  If you want to truly have the best time you should ensure you log into the Teamspeak server, not just so you can win prizes but so you can banter with the gang as you are fragging them.

Hope to see you there!

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Source: PCPer Forums

PCPer Live! AMD Radeon Crimson ReLive Discussion and RX 580 Giveaway!

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 9, 2017 - 01:10 PM |
Tagged: video, relive, radeon software, radeon, live stream, live, giveaway, crimson, amd

UPDATE: Did you miss today's live stream? Catch it right here:

Last year, AMD and its software team dispatched some representatives to our offices to talk about the major software release that was Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition. As most of you probably saw last week, AMD launched the Crimson ReLive 17.7.2 driver and we are pleased to let you know that we will again be hosting a live stream with our friends at AMD! Come learn about the development of this new driver, how the new features work and insight on what might be coming in the future from AMD's software team.

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And what's a live stream without prizes? AMD has stepped up to the plate to offer up some awesome hardware for those of you that tune in to watch the live stream! 

  • 2 x MSI Radeon RX 580 Gaming X Graphics Cards

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AMD Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Live Stream and Giveaway

10am PT / 1pm ET - August 9th

PC Perspective Live! Page

Need a reminder? Join our live mailing list!

The event will take place Wednesday, August 9th at 10am PT / 1pm ET at https://www.pcper.com/live. There you’ll be able to catch the live video stream as well as use our chat room to interact with the audience. To win the prizes you will have to be watching the live stream, with exact details of the methodology for handing out the goods coming at the time of the event.

I will be joined by Adrian Castelo, Software Product Manager and Gurman Singh, Software Marketing Manager. In short, these are two people you want to hear from and have answer your questions! (Apparently Terry Makedon will be hiding in the background as well...)

If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below and we'll look through them just before the start of the live stream. Of course you'll be able to tweet us questions @pcper and we'll be keeping an eye on the IRC chat as well for more inquiries. What do you want to know and hear from AMD?

So join us! Set your calendar for Wednesday at 10am PT / 1pm ET and be here at PC Perspective to catch it. If you are a forgetful type of person, sign up for the PC Perspective Live mailing list that we use exclusively to notify users of upcoming live streaming events including these types of specials and our regular live podcast. I promise, no spam will be had!

NVIDIA rides shotgun in autonomous vehicles

Subject: General Tech | August 9, 2017 - 12:43 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, autonomous vehicles, HPC

NVIDIA has previously shown their interest in providing the brains for autonomous vehicles, their Xavier chip is scheduled for release some time towards the end of the year.  They are continuing their efforts to break into this market by investing in start ups in a program called GPU Ventures.  Today DigiTimes reports that NVIDIA purchased a stake in a Chinese company called Tusimple which is developing autonomous trucks.  The transportation of goods may not be as interesting to the average consumer as self driving cars but the market could be more lucrative; there are a lot of trucks on the roads of the world and they are unlikely to be replaced any time soon.

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"Tusimple, a Beijing-based startup focused on developing autonomous trucks, has disclosed that Nvidia will make a strategic investment to take a 3% stake in the company. Nvidia's investment is part of a a Series B financing round, Tusimple indicated."

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Source: DigiTimes

Valve Announces Artifact Game with Three Somethings

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2017 - 10:16 PM |
Tagged: valve, pc gaming

During their The International tournament for Dota 2, Valve announced a whole new game and a whole new reason for Blizzard to be annoyed at them: Artifact. While the teaser doesn’t really say much, they allowed Sean Plott, better known as Day[9], discuss his experiences playing it.

Apparently, it’s a card combat game that is based on the Dota 2 universe. Borrowing from the MOBA formula, there are actually three boards, which he called lanes at one point, that you will need to balance your efforts between. Some strategies can push a single board, while others can just safely lean on all three (although I’m not sure whether the metagame will heavily favor one or the other... in practice).

It’s unclear whether Valve will use their own engine, or license a third-party engine like Unity, which was used by Blizzard for Hearthstone and Valve, themselves, for some of their VR content.

Artifact is expected at some time in 2018.

One drive to rule them. Intel's new look for petabyte drives

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2017 - 01:11 PM |
Tagged: Intel, ssd, petabyte, sata, M.2, ruler, Optane

Intel is increasing the storage density of SSDs with a brand new form factor which gets rid of the empty space that takes up the majority of a 2.5" SSD.  The new ruler format will fit up to a petabyte in a volume small enough to fit in a 1U rack space.  This is significantly smaller than the volume it would currently occupy in a server rack, and helps reduce the number of connections required.  If you used the the current 60TB monster from Seagate, you would still need 17 of the 3.5" drives to hit a single petabyte; not something which will fit into a single 1U rack.  The Inquirer wasn't given a launch date nor a price but we can assume this drive will not meet Ryan's approved price per gigabyte.

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"Although new formats are emerging all the time, this one seems particularly timely, coming as it does at a time when we have far exceeded the need for an SSD to take up even a standard 2.5-inch space, most of which is air."

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Source: The Inquirer

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.

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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