VR Funhouse Game Jam Results

Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2016 - 05:33 PM |
Tagged: epic games, valve, htc, vr funhouse, nvidia

In early September, we posted about a VR game jam that was coming to Hamburg, Germany by Epic Games, NVIDIA, HTC, and Valve. The companies wanted to increase the amount of content available so, with the release of the VR Funhouse mod kit, they rented a boat, docked it really well, and let indie developers do their thing around the clock. Seven teams of three-to-five participated, and the public were invited to play around with the results.

Most of the entries deviated from the literal fun-house theme to some extent. Probably the most original game is one where users play a kid in a candy store, trying to evade detection while gorging on sweet, sweet candy. Go figure, it's called Kid in a Candy Store. The closest to the literal interpretation of the theme is Beer Beer Beer and Sausages, where you serve carnival food, with real beer and mustard fluid simulations.

Two of the games, Beer Beer Beer and Sausages and Waiter Wars, are available for free on the VR Funhouse Steam Workshop page. I'm not sure what happened to the rest. The Unreal Engine post seems to suggest that they are supposed to be here, but maybe some of the teams are looking to polish it up a little first.

Source: Epic Games

Alphabet Inc.'s DeepMind Working on StarCraft II AI

Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2016 - 02:55 PM |
Tagged: blizzard, google, ai, deep learning, Starcraft II

Blizzard and DeepMind, which was acquired by Google in 2014 and is now a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., have just announced opening up StarCraft II for AI research. DeepMind was the company that made AlphaGo, which beat Lee Sedol, a grandmaster of Go, in a best-of-five showmatch with a score of four to one. They hinted at possibly having a BlizzCon champion, some year, do a showmatch as well, which would be entertaining.

blizzard-2016-blizzcon-deepmindgoogle.jpg

StarCraft II is different from Go in three important ways. First, any given player knows what they scout, which they apparently will constrain these AI to honor. Second, there are three possible match-ups for any choice of race, except random, which has nine. Third, it's real-time, which can be good for AI, because they're not constrained by human input limitations, but also difficult from a performance standpoint.

From Blizzard's perspective, better AI can be useful, because humans need to be challenged to learn. Novices won't be embarrassed to lose to a computer over and over, so they can have a human-like opponent to experiment with. Likewise, grandmasters will want to have someone better than them to keep advancing, especially if it allows them to keep new strategies hidden. From DeepMind's perspective, this is another step in AI research, which could be applied to science, medicine, and so forth in the coming years and decades.

Unfortunately, this is an early announcement. We don't know any more details, although they will have a Blizzcon panel on Saturday at 1pm EDT (10am PDT).

Source: Blizzard

Your ZX Spectrum Vega+ will be arriving soon

Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2016 - 12:51 PM |
Tagged: ZX Spectrum Vega+

If you backed the return of Sinclair's ZX Spectrum Vega+ then The Inquirer has good news for you, it should be arriving in the near future.  It ships with roughly 1000 retro games installed and with an SD card you can add any of your favourites you can use an SD card to add them.  The Vega+ can hook up to an external display and keyboard, not just to game but also to help if you plan on coding on the device.  Once all the backers have received theirs you will begin to see the Vega+ for sale, so you did not miss out if you did not back it.  The Inquirer was happy to note that games now launch in mere seconds as opposed to the minutes the original required.

spectrum-vega-atic-atac-540x334.jpeg

"Our backers will be getting their machines first, before the press, before the shops. It’s because of them that we’re here and we owe it to them to make sure they get their Vega first," explained Suzanne Martin of Retro Computers, the company behind the project."

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Source: The Inquirer

Microsoft Is Changing How Windows 10 Updates (Further)

Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2016 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: windows update, windows 10, microsoft

In a blog post, yesterday, Microsoft outlined their Unified Update Platform (UUP) initiative. The short version of this story is that UUP, which is expected to affect consumers with the major update after the Windows 10 Creators Update, will shrink download sizes of updates by omitting portions that are already on your device. They claim that it is expected to result in about 35% less bandwidth used by a major update.

microsoft-2016-windows7-update.png

Beyond bandwidth, Microsoft also claims that this will help battery life and time spent searching for updates, because the difference is calculated in the cloud. (I guess you can call that reAzurement. I'll see myself out.) At least for mobile, I can see how this might be cheaper than the new system completely client-side. I wouldn't say the current method is too slow, though. I mean, it takes a while, especially a Windows 8.1 laptop I have at times, but I don't really see how it would help a gaming PC that likely has a faster processor than their servers.

We'll see.

Also, if you're the type of person who likes to scorch earth on a regular basis, I'm guessing Microsoft will still be providing ISOs that can either clean install or perform the typical update method. Also, this new feature will reduce the download size of cumulative updates, which are inherently very redundant, so that should be good.

I can't think of a real negative to this, especially not with the ISO workaround for the more picky power users. Maybe I'm not thinking of something, though, but it sounds like a net win (unless it turns out to be an unstable mess).

Source: Microsoft

Call of Duty Has a Big Issue. Choose Your Store Carefully.

Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2016 - 09:14 PM |
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.

Ouch.

activision-2016-codtwopeople.jpg

"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.

Source: Activision

Skyrim Special Edition Beta Patch Released

Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2016 - 05:04 PM |
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.

bethesda-2016-skyrim-special-edition.png

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.

Source: Bethesda

VRMark arrives

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | November 3, 2016 - 01:48 PM |
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.

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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.

blue.jpg

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.

Experience mode
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.

Source: Futuremark

Weird, the cell signal is really strong over by the printer

Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2016 - 12:51 PM |
Tagged: security

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.

si-5.jpg

"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."

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Source: Ars Technica

Podcast #423 - Logitech G231, DX12 Multi-GPU, GTX 1070/1080 issues and more!

Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2016 - 10:35 AM |
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!

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, Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom

Program length: 1:10:25

  1. Week in Review:
  2. Today’s episode is brought to you by Harry’s! Use code PCPER at checkout!
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  5. Closing/outro

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

Dell Teases "Smart Desk"

Subject: General Tech, Displays, Systems | November 3, 2016 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: dell

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.

dell-2016-smartdeskconcept.jpg

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?

Source: Dell

Steam "Discovery Update 2.0" Changes Screenshot Policy

Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2016 - 03:58 AM |
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.

SteamLogo.png

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.

Thoughts on Alcatel IDOL 4S / Windows Mobile Announcement

Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2016 - 03:07 AM |
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.

Source: Microsoft

Skyrim Special Edition, or Skyrim "Special" Edition

Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2016 - 03:44 PM |
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.

RPS example.PNG

"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."

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HTML 5.1 Promoted to W3C Recommendation

Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2016 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: w3c

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.

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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.

Source: W3C

Windows 7 and 8.1 did stop shipping to OEMs

Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2016 - 12:57 PM |
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.

windows-7.jpg

"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."

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Source: The Register

Enter the AMD Massive Uprising Giveaway

Subject: General Tech | November 1, 2016 - 06:36 PM |
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.

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Source: AMD

MSI Is Turning Thirty Years Old with Thirty Giveaways

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | November 1, 2016 - 05:23 PM |
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.

msi-2016-30th-landing-page_102016_03.jpg

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.

Check out the contest page for more details, and enter at the button below the list of prizes.

Source: MSI

Adobe Releases Another Flash Player Update for Linux

Subject: General Tech | November 1, 2016 - 12:49 PM |
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”.

homestar-smoothmoves.png

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.

Still, this seems a little... late... for that to be the reason, unless Adobe, then, expected Flash to die off and, now, see it hanging around a little while longer. Meanwhile, on the tools side of things, Adobe has pivoted Flash Professional into Animate CC, with the ability to export to HTML and JavaScript, so they don't really need to keep Flash on life support. It's not at feature parity, but it's getting there. Granted, a lot of the game and animation hosting sites are set up to just accept a packaged Flash file, so maybe that market is holding them back?

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.

Source: Adobe Labs

The Dell Alienware 13 arrives, with a 1440p OLED screen and GTX 1060

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 1, 2016 - 12:25 PM |
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.

aw13t_lnb_10000f55_gy.png

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.

aw17nt_aw15nt_aw13nt_fnb_Shot04_gy.png

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Source: Dell

Feral Interactive Plans Vulkan Ports in 1st Half of 2017

Subject: General Tech | October 31, 2016 - 07:12 PM |
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.

feral-2016-logo.png

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.