Raspberry Pi Foundation Updates Compute Module With Faster Processor

Subject: General Tech | January 22, 2017 - 12:11 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, compute module, Raspberry Pi 3, broadcom, iot

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is introducing an updated Compute Module that puts the single board computer for embedded devices more in line with the performance of the newest hobbyist Raspberry Pi 3.

The Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 is a pin compatible successor to the Compute Module 1 (there is no CM2) that, according to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, offers twice the RAM and 10-times the CPU performance.

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Note that while the Compute Module 3 may be able to be a drop in upgrade / replacement for devices powered by the first generation CM1, it uses more power, puts out more heat, and is 1mm taller so while it is pin compatible it may not work in all devices if their module slot space, power supply, and airflow / heatsinks are not up to the task.

The Compute Module 3 is a small single board computer with a SO-DIMM connector that can slot into embedded and IoT products. It is powered by a Broadcom BCM2837 with four ARM Cortex-A53 CPU cores clocked at 1.2 GHz and a dual core VIdeoCore IV GPU clocked at 400 MHz. The processor is paired with 1GB of RAM. As far as onboard storage, the Compute Module 3 will come in two SKUs: the CM3 with 4GB of eMMC or a CM3 Lite without pre-installed eMMC and solder points for manufacturers to add their own eMMC or micro SD card slot. The VideoCore IV GPU supports 1080p30 decode of H.264. Users wanting hardware decode of H.265 and/or 4K support will have to look elsewhere. As is usual with Broadcom, exact specifications of the BCM2837 (especially their GPU) are kept close and quiet, unfortunately.

The exact ports and I/O from the Compute Module 3 will depend on the device and what manufacturers implement and wire to the connectors on the SO-DIMM slot. However, looking at the CMIO3 development board (96 Euros, $116 USD) shows that the CM3 supports GPIO, USB, micro USB, CSI (camera interface), DSI (display interface), HDMI, micro SD, audio, and networking. 

The Compute Module 3 can run Windows IOT Core or any number of Linux distributions compatible with ARM processors.

The Compute Module 3 is $30 while the “lite” variant without eMMC is $25. A kit including the development I/O board and both CM3 SKUs is $200. NEC has already announced it will be using the new Compute Module 3 in their digital signage and displays. Other applications include Smart TVs, home automation, and industrial control systems as well as hobbyist projects and robotics.

Source: Raspberry Pi

Windows 10 Build 10240 End of Life on March 26th

Subject: General Tech | January 21, 2017 - 08:42 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

Microsoft will be ending support for Windows 10 build 10240 on March 26th (via Mary Jo Foley), after a year and eight months since it launched in July 2015. For our home readers, this will not be too much of a concern, as most of us are on the Anniversary Update (or another OS entirely). Also, Microsoft supported it longer than some hardware vendors, such as NVIDIA, who requires a later build for PCs with a Pascal-based GPU.

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Rippin' off the band-aid.

Again, these new builds are free from Microsoft, so, from a financial standpoint, there’s little reason to not update if your machine can support it. What it does show, however, is how short of a time we have between a bad decision being implemented and a bad decision being forced upon all Windows PCs. If a change upsets you, or feels like it could be used anti-competitively now or in the future, don’t be shy to raise the concern when it appears. You will only have a year or two before it can no longer be avoided... at most... even if you're a business. In most cases, you'll only have a handful of months.

Source: Microsoft

Windows Insiders Receive Several New Features Post-Holiday

Subject: General Tech | January 21, 2017 - 06:27 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

Now that the holidays are over, software developers are going back to work. It seems like ones at Microsoft had several big changes stashed away, waiting to release when they would be around to support them in the new year. Over the last two weeks, we received three different builds, each with several significant changes. They seem to be tapering off, though, which would make sense if they’re merging through their backlog from 2016.

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One feature that might be lauded by our readers is the ability to temporarily pause updates. This one came in on build 15002, and it gives users an option to delay any update that will cause a restart for up to 35 days. Unfortunately for some, this will be restricted to Windows 10 Pro and above, because Microsoft still does not trust that Windows 10 Home users will not ignore updates then complain about how insecure Windows is when a 9-month-old worm hits them. Instead, from Home users, they are pushing a change to “Active Hours”, allowing it to be extended into an 18-hour window. Sorry if you have a 24-hour render or something!

Moving on, some users will appreciate the lunar calendar being added to the taskbar calendar, alongside the conventional, Gregorian one. You would think that this localization feature should have been implemented years ago, but, with the Creator’s Update, affected users will have a more functional, built-in calendar.

Another interesting feature, which came out in the most recent build, 15014, is the power mode slider attached to the battery icon. Rather than having it buried in the advanced power settings, Microsoft is allowing users to “slide right” when they need things like higher CPU power states. In the current build, the UI isn’t hooked up to the back-end yet, because they’re still discussing (with OEMs) what power settings the slider options should correspond to.

There are also a lot of enhancements for Edge, of course, as all web browsers are still undergoing a rapid release schedule. A lot of it involves tab management, such as stashing tabs for later (like a more transient bookmark) and sharing them to other applications.

The Windows 10 Creators Update (1703) is expected for April.

Source: Microsoft

Another reason IPv6 is not as common as it should be

Subject: General Tech | January 20, 2017 - 01:00 PM |
Tagged: ipv6, microsoft

Among the numerous incompatibilities and troubles we are seeing with the rollout of IPv6 is a new hitch.  It seems Microsoft just opened up a ticket with themselves over a problem they are having with their Azure Active Directory cloud-based ID system; it would seem it is incompatible with IPv6.  The Register specifies Windows 10 for this issue however it is very likely that previous versions are also going to encounter issues.  You can read more about the troubles and attempted solutions here.

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"According to Redmond's principal network engineer Marcus Keane, the software giant is struggling to move over to the decade-old networking technology due to a DHCPv6 bug in Windows 10, which made it "impossible" to expand its planned corporate network."

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Source: The Register

Just Picked Up: Google Chromecast Ultra

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 20, 2017 - 07:39 AM |
Tagged: google, chromecast ultra, chromecast

One of the disadvantages of the ZTE Axon 7, which a lot of other phones share, is that you cannot directly connect it to a TV over HDMI via MHL. Granted, it’s a good screen and great speakers, so I can just pass the device around, but sometimes you want to show a video (or something) on the TV. As such, I was looking around at the Chromecast, but I heard a bunch of complaints that ranged from low frame rate to frequent stutters in some apps.

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Then Google announced the Chromecast Ultra, which launched in November. I put my email address on the official waiting list and... haven’t heard a thing since. I also haven’t seen it in many stores. I then found out that the local Best Buy Mobile kiosk had it (yet the full store a few blocks away somehow did not???) Interestingly, when I arrived, they had several of them, and on sale for $20 off, too.

Upon bringing it home, it had a little difficulty connecting to my WiFi router. (The 5 GHz band was a little weak at that location.) Once that was resolved, though, it was a very pleasant experience. It played 1080p60 video from YouTube without any trouble, even switching to the correct input automatically with HDMI CEC (although I needed to manually change it back to the digital TV box when I was done).

I don’t have a 4K or HDR TV, though, so I cannot test its more advanced features. Sorry!

Source: Google

Another Beautiful, Profound Breach of Nintendo Trademarks

Subject: General Tech | January 18, 2017 - 08:13 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, ue4, Nintendo

Once again, one of CryZENx’s videos found its way into my YouTube recommendations list. This one outlines progress on their recreation of various Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time elements in Unreal Engine 4. While the graphics have been updated significantly, such as using inverse-kinematics for foot positioning, they have also remade the original pause menu, which wraps around the camera like a box (with no top or bottom).

If anyone is wondering, inverse-kinematics is an animation tool that focuses on goals, as opposed to individual rotations. Instead of bending a knee by X degrees and bending the hip by Y degrees, you say that the foot of the skeleton must be at some point, and the skeleton adjusts to make that happen. This is obviously much easier for animators to visualize in many situations, especially when trying to align to objects that you know will be in range of the skeleton, but not exactly where.

I’m not exactly sure how Nintendo hasn’t struck their Patreon and YouTube pages yet, given their reaction to other fan materials. I’m glad it’s up, though. They’re quite impressive homages to the games they love.

Source: CryZENx

Looking for quality desktop speakers? Perhaps Audioengine's HD3 would fit the bill

Subject: General Tech | January 18, 2017 - 02:25 PM |
Tagged: audio, speakers, Audioengine HD3, Audioengine

We have seen a lot of headset reviews but lately there have not been many reviews of desktop speakers which some of us still use.  CPCR have offered up a change of pace for those looking for some new stereo speakers with their review of Audioengine's HD3 powered desktop speakers.  They contain a Burr Brown PCM5102 DAC as well as a OPA2134 amp if you do happen to have a set of high impedance headphones you might have occasion to utilize.  Those components do come at a cost, the MSRP is $399, but if that doesn't immediately scare you off you should take a look at their full review.

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"When it comes to premium desktop computer speakers, few manufacturers on the market match the level of Audioengine when it comes to sound quality. Over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to review the Audioengine A2+ and the Audioengine A5+ which were outstanding speakers that are simply unmatched by other computer speaker manufacturers..."

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If you haven't tried Mechwarrior: Living Legends, here is a good excuse

Subject: General Tech | January 18, 2017 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Mechwarrior: Living Legends, crysis wars, mod

Mechwarrior: Living Legends is a total conversion mod for Crysis Wars, which you can grab free of charge from this site, they use the Crysis Wars demo to provide the assets so you do not need to purchase the game.  It will dump you and up to 32 players on a multiplayer map with a side arm and a desperate need to get a vehicle.  The vehicles range from smaller tanks and VTOLs to a wide variety of Battlemechs.  Development had stalled somewhat until this week when it was announced that Version 0.8 is now available.  You should pop by to download and install it so you can give this game a shot; even if you end up disliking it you will get your moneys worth.

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"Almost a decade ago, a talented team started working on what was to become the favorite game for many of us. Version 0.7.1, released in 2013, was to be the final version of MechWarrior: Living Legends by Wandering Samurai Studios."

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Practice safe programming

Subject: General Tech | January 18, 2017 - 12:39 PM |
Tagged: security, mostly harmless, google play, andriod

Fallible is a security firm which developed an automated tool for reverse engineering Android apps and used it to take a look at a large portion of the top apps on Google Play.  They found quite a few things that really should not have been there, including keys to Amazon Web Services which would grant them the ability to start and stop instances under the developers account.  In total they found 2500 apps with at least some sensitive information contained within them, in many cases those keys were necessary for the proper functioning of the app but in some cases they were secrets which did not need to be there.  Follow The Register's advice and think long and hard before hard coding keys into any apps you might be developing.

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"A security firm has reverse engineered 16,000 Android apps on Google's Play store and found that over 304 contain sensitive secret keys."

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Source: The Register

Pegatron passing much of its production to ASRock?

Subject: General Tech | January 17, 2017 - 01:03 PM |
Tagged: asrock, Pegatron, rumours

ASRock was hit hard by the downturn in PC sales over 2016, they shipped less than four million motherboards over the whole year.  The rumour over at DigiTimes is that thanks to the tiny profit margin garnered from orders by Asustek Computer and small white-box builders in China ASRock will no longer be bidding for work from those sources.  Instead their parent company, Pegatron, will be shifting most of their own motherboard and GPU design and production to ASRock along with the services they previously provided to system integrators.  This will shift their focus away from Apple, and should provide a boost to the overall business in addition to their new lines of Intel and AMD motherboards.

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"For 2017, orders from SI clients and the launch of Intel's Kaby Lake platform are expected to boost the company's performance. The company has launched new Z270-based motherboards, looking to expand its presence in the mid-range to high-end sector. Motherboards using AMD's new chipsets are also expected to launch after March which should also benefit the company's profits."

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Source: DigiTimes

Awesome Games Done Quick 2017 Sets New Donation Records

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2017 - 02:18 PM |
Tagged: speedrun, pc gaming, gdq

About a day and a half ago, Games Done Quick finished up their AGDQ 2017 event with a pacifist run of the PC indie title, Undertale. Over the course of the previous week, the marathon brought in over 2.2 million dollars for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. (As I write this, the current amount is $2,218,130.30 USD, which might still go up a little with late donations.)

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This total smashed the previous record, set two years ago at AGDQ 2015, of 1.576 million USD. Moreover, this was the first Games Done Quick event to bring in more than a million dollars on the last day. Based on last year’s totals, it looked a bit like Games Done Quick was going to plateau at about 1.2 to 1.5 million per event, which is amazing, but this new record points to potential that I’m not even sure Games Done Quick knew existed.

I’d be interested to see what the organizers attribute the increase to. The schedule was intended to be a departure from typical with a few interesting decisions, such as shelving Super Mario 64, ending with Undertale instead of a classic JRPG, and making the blocks less obvious. At the same time, the partnership with Namco Bandai, particularly the huge prize pool on the last day, drew a lot of $125-and-up donations, leading to the comment tracker crashing in the setup block. (It crashed a few times on the last day.) Whatever the cause was, something worked, and we’ll need to see how SGDQ 2017 and AGDQ 2018 live up to these new expectations.

Speaking of which, SGDQ 2017 will be in Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 2nd through July 9th.

The age of Ultor, Speedlink's new mechanical keyboard

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2017 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: Speedlink, ultor, mechanical keyboard, RGB, Kailh

Speedlink's Ultor mechanical keyboard has a minimalist look thanks to the lack of a frame but they did include LEDs, blue under all but the WASD keys which are white.  They also chose to include macro keys which is uncommon on a board without a numpad by adding them as a secondary function to the Home, End, Insert, Delete, Page Up and Down keys. The mechanical switches under the keys are Kailh Red, the colour of gamers as opposed to typists.  They are currently quite expensive here in North America, in the UK Kitguru spotted it for sale at £79.91.

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"While many peripheral makers are currently chasing down the RGB trend, there is still plenty of room in the market for a standard mechanical keyboard. Today, we are taking a look at the Speedlink Ultor, a mechanical keyboard offering up red switches, macro support and more, all wrapped up in a frameless, 10-keyless design."

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Source: Kitguru

What's up with WhatsApp

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2017 - 01:13 PM |
Tagged: whatsapp, fud, facebook, encryption

By now you will have seen a headline screaming something about the security of Facebook's WhatsApp messaging service, ranging from somewhere between a backdoor purposefully inserted into the app to a complete denial of any security risk at all.  The actual issue is much larger than WhatsApp and address a security issue with all applications which depend on public key encryption. 

Many applications utilize public keys for their encryption, the encryption relies on keys unique to the sender and receivers devices and which use the public key to verify the authorization of a new device.  If your accounts key was permanently attached to a specific piece of hardware you would need a separate account for each device you used, which would be quite onerous.

The issue is that the Open Whisper Signal protocol is configured by WhatsApp in a way which makes the data vulnerable to a man in the middle attack.  If you can managed to block the transmission of a message, then take over one of the authorized devices accounts or phone numbers and trigger the generation of a new private key via a public key request to Facebook then you will be able to read messages until people realize what is going on.  This is not impossible but far from easy to accomplish, and effects any similar encryption system, not just WhatsApp.

Perhaps more worrying is Facebook's ability to take advantage of this, as they can generate a new public key to read messages, if they so choose.  If you are concerned about this, you can enable the Show Security Notifications setting under Settings -> Account -> Security to be notified whenever a contact's security code has changed.  The Register links to several articles which delve into the technology as well as the media's reactions here, if you are interested.

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"The problem – which is "endemic to public key cryptography" – was raised in April last year, and at the time WhatsApp said it wasn't a serious enough design flaw to spend time fixing."

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Source: The Register

Microsoft Confirms Windows 10 Creators Update Game Mode

Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2017 - 07:17 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, pc gaming

A few weeks ago, Windows Insiders noticed GameMode.dll was added to the Windows 10 preview builds. It was speculated by Windows Central, based on their anonymous sources, that it would allow the user to increase performance for games. Now, in an Xbox blog post, Mike Ybarra of Microsoft confirmed the existence of this feature. It will arrive with the Creators Update and, yes, it is intended to “optimize your Windows 10 PC for increased performance in gaming”.

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That’s about all of the detail that is mentioned explicitly in the blog post. It does make a passing reference to “Windows Insiders will start seeing some of the visual elements for Game Mode this week, with the feature being fully operational in builds shortly thereafter”. While we don’t need to wait too long to actually find out, this snippet suggests that user involvement will be required. This might be a launcher or something else entirely.

On his Twitter, he also added that Game Mode will work for both Win32 and UWP games. Assuming this isn’t a mistake, and it’s stated quite bluntly albeit on Twitter, it looks likely that Game Mode’s UI won’t be an extension of Windows Store and it will work for any game. It will probably reside elsewhere, like an Xbox App or something, but we don’t really know yet.

The Windows 10 Creators Update arrives this spring. While its version number is 1703, rumors have it set for an April release date.

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft looking to lower licensing costs to compete with Chromebooks

Subject: General Tech | January 13, 2017 - 02:31 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, licensing

Microsoft has confirmed that they will reduce the cost of Windows 10 volume licenses associated with 14.1" and smaller laptops, which is intended to help their partners to compete against Chromebooks.  We have seen low cost Chromebooks launched by Lenovo, Acer, Asustek Computer, Dell and Samsung, all of which have taken market share from models running Windows as there are no associated licensing fees.  Microsoft's Volume Licensing pricing is extremely variable, screen size and relative power of the machine changing pricing, as well as the geographic location it will be sold and the size of the manufactures account.  This means we do not know the exact price reduction, only that it will be lowered.  According to what DigiTimes have found, you can expect to see this change start on March 1st.

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"Microsoft has settled with notebook vendors on Windows 10 licensing rates for models to be launched in 2017, with costs for under 14.1-inch low-cost models lowered from 2016, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers."

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Source: DigiTimes

You must be reading this on a phone, seeing as how PCs are dead

Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2017 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: market share, pc sales

Once again the death knell is ringing in the peanut gallery as they claim that the demise of the PC is nigh ... still.  What the data The Inquirer references is actually something we already know, sales of PCs were down 6.2% over 2016 thanks to the fact that there was little reason to upgrade your whole system.  Intel's waltz steps do not currently provide a compelling reason to upgrade, in part because of AMD's lack of new product; the lack of which has also hurt enthusiasts hoping to upgrade their AMD systems.  As for Windows 10, we have already seen the lack of influence on the market and those picking up VR headsets only tended to upgrade their GPU, which was not captured in this particular study. 

With the upcoming launches scheduled in 2017, this year should be somewhat more interesting for system builders and hardware enthusiasts both.

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"SKYLAKE microprocessors from Intel, the sudden appearance of virtual reality (VR), and the launch of Nvidia 10-series graphics cards were insufficient to prize open wallets in the run-up to Christmas or, indeed, during much of 2016."

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Source: The Inquirer

CES 2017: Asus Chromebook Flip Runs Chrome OS and Android Apps

Subject: General Tech | January 11, 2017 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2017, asus, Chromebook, convertible tablet, 2-in-1, core m

In addition to high powered gaming laptops and high end motherboards, Asus also used CES to launch its convertible chromebook now called the Asus Chromebook Flip C302. The 2-in-1 device measures 13.7mm thick and weighs in at just over 2.6 pounds (1.2kg).

Asus is pairing a 12.5” 1080p LED backlit LCD on the top pane with a chiclet keyboard (scissor switches with 1.4mm key travel) and 61 x 104.5mm trackpad on the bottom pane. A 360-degree hinge allows the user to flip the display all the way around so that the keys are behind the display and it can be used as a tablet (or any position in between). There is no digitizer pen but the display does support 10 point multitouch.

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Port selection is actually pretty good for a portable (especially a chromebook) with two USB 3.1 Type-C (5Gbps) ports, a headset jack, and a micro SD card slot. The only thing missing that other similar class notebooks have is micro HDMI but being a chromebook it should pair up with a Chromecast should you need to share your desktop or media to the TV or larger monitor. Wireless connectivity includes 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.2. There are also two side speakers rated at 87dB.

Internally, Asus is using 6th generation Core M3 or M7 processors (there is also a Pentium 4405Y SKU) depending on your configuration  Further, the Chromebook Flip comes with 4GB or 8GB of system memory and 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of solid state storage. The chromebook runs Chrome OS but it is also able to run Android apps from the Google Play Store.

Battery life from the 39Whr battery is allegedly up to 10 hours according to Asus.

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The lightweight aluminum metal body Chromebook Flip has a starting price of $500 and will be available soon. Pricing on the higher end models has not yet been announced.

In all, it looks solidly built and has good specifications for a chromebook, but the pricing is going to hold a lot of people back in my opinion. Perhaps if it had an active digitizer and ran Windows I would be more interested. I am currently trying to find a replacement to my Dell XT (yes I know it is ancient haha!) and I find myself enamored by the Lenovo Yoga Book with the halo keyboard and the question if the typing experience there being the only thing that has me on the fence (I mention this because it is $549 for the Windows version and $500 with Android so is are in similar price points).

I am all for more options in this convertible space though and look forward to the reviews. If Asus’ Chromebook Flip has a great keyboard I might be persuaded!

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Asus

Pavonis takes a break from their Kickstarter to torment XCOM 2 fans

Subject: General Tech | January 11, 2017 - 01:51 PM |
Tagged: xcom 2, mod, long war, gaming

Fans of the Long War mod for XCOM: Enemy Unknown are in for a treat, though perhaps a rather sadistic one, as a teaser for the existence of Long War 2 just arrived.  This time the mod was announced by Firaxis as opposed to the mod team, though Pavonis have updated their website with a logo for the new project.  It will be interesting to see if this means that Long War 2 will be released as a free mod or as DLC with a price tag attached.  The difference may be in the amount of time Pavonis is willing to divert away from their current project Terra Invicta.  If Firaxis does invest their own resources into developing Long War 2 it would be somewhat appropriate for them to charge some money, even if many feel this is the game they should have released in the first place.  On the other hand, if they simply want to start turning third party mods into a revenue stream for themselves; we may have the start of a problem worse than preorders and paid for day one DLC. 

Pop by Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for a look at the first Long War and links to the recent news.

longwar2.jpg

"Pavonis have already updated their website with a Long War 2 logo and haven’t removed info about their to-be-Kickstarted standalone game Terra Invicta. That’s an XCOM-y sort of thing, though the description suggests it’ll focus on diplomatic and political strategy rather than guns and psychics."

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Gaming

Multi-monitor gaming troubles? It might not be your driver

Subject: General Tech | January 11, 2017 - 12:42 PM |
Tagged: patch, oops, microsoft

If you game on multiple monitors and have noticed problems recently, with screens rendering with off clipping or not a timely manner you may want to look to Microsoft.  It seems that KB3213986 which was released yesterday, may well be to blame.  As there are no serious security updates contained in this particular patch you can feel safe uninstalling it, unless you really need two keyboards and a fingerprint touchscreen attached to your system.  Cheers to The Guru of 3D for posting this first.

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"Users may experience delayed or clipped screens while running 3D rendering apps (such as games) on systems with more than one monitor."

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Source: Guru of 3D

Hack your NES Classic ... carefully

Subject: General Tech | January 10, 2017 - 12:34 PM |
Tagged: Nintendo, NES Classic, hack

The newly released Nintendo NES Classic shipped with 30 classic old games baked into its retrotacular ROMs.  It has now been hacked to be able to play any old game ROM you happen to be able to get your hands on, though of course you will have to make space as the storage capacity of this console is quite limited.  There are several caveats to this of course, ROMs are called read only for a reason and rooting around in them can lead to unintended and possibly permanent consequences.  There is also the source of your ROM to be considered, they tend to come from sources which could be considered slightly less than legitimate.  If you are still interested take a peek over at The Inquirer.

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"It was Russian retro gaming community GBX and a modder called Madmonkey that cracked the rebooted console, and it was Reddit users that seized on the opportunity, to give the hack a go."

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Source: The Inquirer