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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.
Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2016 - 03:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: skyrim, gaming, elder scrolls
If you picked up all of the Skyrim DLC then the new Special Edition is available to you for free, otherwise it could cost you up to $50. The question of whether to install it or not is on the minds of many gamers, including the gang over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN. The answer is simple if you have installed dozens of mods and have them playing nicely together; do not. This new version will not support those mods nor will you be able to load saves from them, though there is a way for those with less common aspect ratios to be able to play.
For those uninterested in mods or who want to start all over again, there have been reports of sound issues and many of the old bugs are back; expect a lot of flying if your FPS can top 60 if your machine can play the new version that is. As far as the new graphical features such as lighting do not measure up to the unmodded original with the high resolution texture pack as you can see in the image from RPS below. It has no hope of matching the quality of some of the various existing mods that make the game almost photo realistic. All is not lost, this could be a great platform upon which modders can redo existing mods or create new ones but for the most part this launch is disturbingly reminiscent of the original launch of the game.
"I switched repeatedly between it and an unmodded Skyrim original install with Bethesda’s official high-res texture pack added in, and it didn’t take long to reach that perfect pitch of meaningless insanity that is deciding between two different shades of white to paint your bathroom. Ultimately, I came damned closed to preferring the original."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- No Titanfall 2 Season Pass, No “Hidden Costs” “All Maps & Modes Will Be Free”, Say Respawn @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Is Star Wars: Battlefront Better After All The DLC? @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Square Enix Lead Designer Talks About Final Fantasy XV @ TechARP
- Black Mesa’s Xen Coming In Summer 2017 @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Gristlegun And Cacoface In New Doom Multiplayer DLC @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2016 - 03:26 PM | Scott Michaud
HTML is a format that translates text into a hierarchy of special objects, called elements, that can be arranged into Web content. The specification is controlled by the W3C, who just promoted HTML 5.1 to “W3C recommendation,” which is their final stage for a standard excluding errata or a wholly new version.
Because standardization, intentionally, takes a very long time, this is not about new features or anything like that. In fact, one of the changes that I found interesting was the removal of appCache. This feature was originally designed for web applications to operate offline by ensuring everything it needs is stored locally. It wasn't really surprising, since Firefox actually warns users that it's deprecated since version 44, but notable none-the-less. (If anyone is wondering, Service Worker API replaced this API. Yes, I am aware of the Web standards joke “there are two standards for everything, but one is deprecated and the other is experimental”.)
If you're interested in just the changes, they are summarized here.
Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2016 - 12:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: microsoft, OEM, windows, EoL
We've known for quite some time that Microsoft planned to stop providing OEMs with keys for Windows 7 or 8.1 this Halloween and they have made good on that promise. If you already have a valid license you will contine to be able to use it on your machine and even reinstall from scratch but you won't be able to buy a machine without Windows 10 anymore. On the corporate side this is being ignored, the new machine may ship with Win10 installed but that will not last long. This is your last chance to grab one of the few remaining unused Windows 7 or 8.1 keys, The Register managed to spot at least one company still offering a Win7 downgrade so get moving if that is your plan.
"If you can get Dell, HP Inc, Lenovo or any other PC-maker to sell you a PC running Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8.1, please let us know how you did it because Microsoft no longer sells the operating system to OEMs."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- LastPass Makes Password Management Free Across All Of Your PCs, Tablets and Smartphones @ Slashdot
- 5 systemd Tools You Should Start Using Now @ Linux.com
- The Sharp Z2 & Sharp M1 Smartphones Revealed @ TechARP
- BlackBerry DTEK60 vs DTEK50 specs comparison @ The Inquirer
- Sound-mufflers chuck acoustic sleep blanket at the noise-plagued @ The Register
- Broadcom buys Brocade for £4.8bn in bid to bolster storage biz @ The Inquirer
- Fancy Bear: Russia-linked hackers blamed for exploiting Windows zero-day flaw @ The Inquirer
- VMware stubs its toe again: NSX has another VM-flattening bug @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | November 1, 2016 - 06:36 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gtribe, giveaway, gaming, amd
It would seem that yet another "first social media network for PC gamers" has arisen, but if you are so inclined to sign up there are giveaways including Battlefield 1 and a CyberPower gaming PC. You have your chance to win either:
- FOUR Grand Prize winners will each receive an ultimate gaming PC, meticulously handcrafted by CYBERPOWERPC and also receive a free download code for Battlefield 1, offered by Kinguin. The combined value of the prizes is $9,200.
- TEN First Prize winners will each receive a download code for Battlefield 1, courtesy of AMD Gaming.
It is a chance at a system with a Swiftech liquid-cooled XFX Radeon RX 480 Black Edition 8GB OC @ 1328 MHz GPU, and a plethora of Logitech G Prodigy gear plus BF1 ... or just BF1, for signing up on either Facebook or Twitter. If you are interested then click away, if not then proceed directly to the comments to vent your spleen.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | November 1, 2016 - 05:23 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: msi, giveaway, giveaways, pc gaming
To celebrate their 30th anniversary, MSI is having a massive giveaway. Each day, from today (November 1st) to November 30th, you are able to answer a trivia question to be entered in that day's drawing. Being that it's MSI, they are also requiring that you capitalize every letter of your answer. I'm not joking; that really is in their How to Enter process. You also need to follow MSI and HyperX on Twitter to enter but, although the form is through Facebook, it looks like you do not need a Facebook account. I could be wrong about that last part, though.
Also, winning a prize does not exclude you from winning future prizes. Don't bother trying to game the system, like waiting to enter until the “good prizes” but not the “great prizes” that will get too many entries, etc. Try every day if you can, even if you already won previously.
The prize for today is the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GAMING 4G from MSI, but they vary wildly from day to day. Even though NVIDIA is a partner in this giveaway, along with HyperX and Intel, there are even some AMD cards scattered throughout the month. I mean, it makes sense: MSI sells AMD cards. Their contest page claims that the total prize pool is up to $14,000 USD.
Subject: General Tech | November 1, 2016 - 12:49 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Adobe, linux, mozilla
Apparently I missed this the first time around, but Adobe has decided to continue supporting the NPAPI version of Flash Player on Linux. They have just released their second update, Flash Player 24 Beta, on October 28th for both 32- and 64-bit platforms. Before September, Adobe was maintaining Flash Player 11.2 with security updates. Adobe has also extended NPAPI support beyond 2017, which was supposed to be the original cut-off for that plug-in architecture on Linux, and pledge to keep “major version numbers in sync”.
This took me by surprise. Browser vendors, even Mozilla, have been deprecating NPAPI for a while. Plug-ins are unruly from a security and performance standpoint, and they would much rather promote the Web standards that they work so hard to implement, rather than being a window frame around someone else's proprietary platform.
So what are Adobe thinking? Well, they claim that this “is primarily a security initiative”. As such, it would make sense that, possibly, and again I'm an outsider musing here, the gap between now and 11.2 was large enough that it would be easier to just maintain two branches.
Whatever the reason, Flash on Linux is continuing to be supported for all browsers. If you find yourself at the intersection of Linux, Firefox, and hobbyist-developed Tower Defense games, you can pick up the latest plug-in at Adobe Labs.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 1, 2016 - 12:25 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: oled, GTX1060, dell, Alienware 13, alienware
Dell has announced four base models of Alienware 13 gaming notebooks, a TN model, a 1080p IPS model and two 1440p OLED models; one with 8GB of DDR4 and one with double that amount. The two non-OLED models are powered by an i5-6300HQ while the OLED models contain an i7-6700HQ and all four have a desktop class GTX 1060. That should offer you enough to power an Oculus or Vive, especially if you opt to purchase the Alienware Graphics Amplifier which is an external GPU dock that uses a proprietary connection from Dell. It is described as a proprietary PCIe connection which provides four lanes of PCIe 3.0, which sounds very similar to Thunderbolt 3.0 which also provides four lanes when done correctly.
It is also nice to see that all use SSDs for storage, the TN model a SATA drive and the other four base models a PCIe SSD. One must assume that the pink can be turned off in the BIOS, though there are those guaranteed to like the glow. You can check out all of the additional features and options on Dell's page and perhaps even pick one up as they are available as of today. Hopefully we will have a chance to test Dell's external GPU connection against the more common Thunderbolt solutions in the near future.
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Seagate has a flash early Xmas present for Xbox gamers @ The Register
- Almost 1.8 billion Windows users haven't upgraded to Windows 10 @ The Inquirer
- Google drops a zero-day on Microsoft: Web giant goes public with bug exploited by hackers @ The Register
- AT&T Falsely Claimed Pro-Google Fiber Rule Is Invalid, FCC Says @ Slashdot
Subject: General Tech | October 31, 2016 - 07:12 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: feral interactive, pc gaming, vulkan, linux
Beginning in the first half of next year, Feral Interactive plans to release software running on the Vulkan API. Feral is one of the three well known Linux port developers, the other two being Aspyr Media and an independent contractor, Ryan C. Gordon, who convert Windows games under some deal with the original creators.
They didn't claim which game would be first. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will be initially released on OpenGL, but people are speculating that, since its rendering back-end is set up to efficiently queue DirectX 12 tasks, which is the same basic structure that Vulkan uses, Feral might release a patch to it later. Alternatively, they could have another title in the works, although I cannot think of anything short of DOOM that would fit the bill, and there has been nothing from Bethesda, id, or Feral to suggest that is leaving Windows. Maybe Tomb Raider?
Whatever it is, we're beginning to see more than just engine developers port software to the new graphics APIs, and on multiple platforms, too.
Subject: General Tech | October 31, 2016 - 12:29 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Lenovo, yoga, linux, Yoga 900S
As we discovered back in September, the new Lenovo Yoga Signature Editions on the market would not allow you to boot your machine from a Linux installation. This was caused by the Intel software RAID used in these machines which has had a long history of trouble with Linux. Today Lenovo made a BIOS update available which will allow your Yoga to see a disk with Linux installed and to boot from it, likely by allowing you to switch your SATA drive from RAID to AHCI mode. Lenovo has made it clear that any support for RAID mode will have to come from Linux developers which makes perfect sense as they are the driving force behind such support. What confuses many, including The Register, is why Lenovo removed the ability to switch SATA modes in the BIOS in the first place.
"Following last month's criticisms, Lenovo has released a BIOS update for its Yoga 900 range of laptops, finally allowing them to support GNU/Linux installations."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Windows Server 2016 persistent memory support supercharges storage IO @ The Register
- The Latest Updates on Nintendo NX @ Hardware Secrets
- Windows 10 Is Broken: Fix It, Microsoft! @ Techgage
- AK Racing Prime Gaming Chair Review @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | October 30, 2016 - 01:09 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: mozilla, servo, gecko, firefox
One of the big announcements at Mozilla Summit 2013, despite Firefox OS being the focus of the event, was their research (with Samsung) into a new rendering engine, Servo. Rendering HTML5 is horrifically complex, so creating a new rendering engine from scratch is a big “nope!” for basically all organizations. Mozilla saw this as a big potential, because current engines are very difficult to scale to multiple cores, so they went in to this as a no-assumptions experiment.
At the time, they didn't know whether Servo would be built up into a full rendering engine, or whether it would be picked apart and pulled back into their current engine, Gecko. Mozilla has now unveiled Quantum, and the first sentence of its MozillaWiki entry is “Quantum is not a new web browser.” They go on to say that they will be “building on the Gecko engine as a solid foundation”. So it seems pretty clear that, like they've recently done with their media file parser in Firefox 48.
While this will likely not have the major impact that “boom, new engine” would, in terms of performance, this piece-wise method should be quicker than bulking up Servo. Mozilla expects that big changes will begin to land next year.
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | October 28, 2016 - 12:25 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Z170, LGA 1151, kaby lake, Intel H170, Intel B150, H110, bios
If you are running an LGA 1151 Gigabyte motherboard then you should stop at this post over at the Guru of 3D some time in the near future and grab an updated BIOS. They were kind enough to provide links for the updates of 47 different motherboards ranging from Z170's down to H110's. Q-Flash means you can update from within the BIOS with USB drive and with Q-Flash Plus you don't even need memory or a CPU installed; we've come a long way from the customized 3.5" boot disks involved in flashing. On the other hand that special thrill of terror has gone away.
"Following MSI and ASUS, Gigabyte now as well offers Kaby Lake compatible BIOS updates for their Z170, H170, B150 and H110 series motherboards. "
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Samsung's free-falling financial flameout @ The Register
- Samsung teases Galaxy S8 with 'slick' new design and AI smarts @ The Inquirer
- Chapeau Is Exactly What the Linux Desktop Needs @ Linux.com
- Divide the internet into compartments to save us from the IoT fail whale @ The Register
- AMD will sell server CPUs at Happy Meal prices so you can supersize servers @ The Register
- Google's AI machines are sending encrypted messages to each other and it's creepy @ The Inquirer
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | October 28, 2016 - 12:46 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: editorial, web browser, vpn, Privacy, Opera, Blink
It has been some time since I last looked at Opera, and while I used to be a big fan of the alternative web browser my interest waned around the time that they abandoned their own engine to become (what I felt) yet another Chrome (Webkit) clone. Specifically, it looks like the last version I tested out was 12.10. Well, last month Opera released version 40 with just enough of a twist to pique my interest once again: the inclusion of a free built-in VPN.
I (finally) got around to testing out the new browser today, and it works fairly well. While setting the default to share usage data is not ideal, offering to enable the ad blocker after installation is a good touch. The VPN feature is a bit more tucked away than I would like but still accessible enough from the settings menu. Further, once it is enabled, it is easy to turn it off and on using the icon in the search/address bar.
According to Opera, the built-in VPN (virtual private network) comes courtesy of SurfEasy – a company that Opera acquired last year. SurfEasy uses OpenVPN and 256-bit encryption and also lauds itself on being a no-log VPN (they do not maintain logs tracking users' usage). Opera is not currently imposing any restrictions on the free VPN built into Opera with bandwith and data usage not being capped. Not bad for a free offering! For comparison, I've used the free version of ProXPN on occasion (public Wi-Fi mostly), and while the VPN is for the entire PC (not just the browser like in Opera's case) they heavily throttle the download speeds to entice you to pay (heh).
In a quick test, I got the following results:
|Ping (ms)||Download (Mbps)||Upload (Mbps)|
Considering the exit point was much further away (SpeedTest chose a Kansas test server, and it looks like the VPN server may have been in Houston, TX), the performance was not bad. Download and Upload speeds were only slightly slower, but (as expected) the ping was much higher.
Opera offers five locations for its free VPN: Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Singapore, and the United States.
Users can enable the VPN by browsing to opera://settings and clicking on Privacy & Security in the left hand list then checking the box next to "Enable VPN."
On another note, the included ad blocker seemed to work well (it apparently has already blocked 86 ads even though I only hit up a couple sites!). My only complaint here is that it does not make it as easy as AdBlock Plus to block/unblock specific elements (or if there is a way it's not intuitive). It is only a minor complaint though, and not really relevant for the majority of users.
I am by no means a browser benchmarker, but it feels fast enough when switching between tabs and loading websites. Fortunately, Michael Muchmore and Max Eddy put Opera through its paces and compiled the benchmark results from several synthetic tests if you are into the nitty-gritty numbers. From their data it appears that Opera is not the fastest, but by no means a slouch. The one test it fell hard on was the Unity WebGL benchmark, though it was not the only browser to do so (Opera, Chrome, and Vivaldi were all close with FireFox and Edge getting the top scores).
Other features of Opera 40 (41 in my case) include a personalized newsfeed that can be fed with any user-supplied RSS feeds, a new battery saver mode, hardware accelerated pop-out videos, Chromecast support, and a number of under the hood performance and memory optimizations (especially with more than 10 tabs open).
I am going to keep it installed and may switch back to using Opera as my daily browser. It looks like it has come a long way since Opera 12 and while it is similar to Chrome under the hood, Opera is doing enough to set itself apart that it may be worth looking into further.
What are your thoughts on Opera 41?