Tease us once, shame on us. Tease us twice, shame on you Gaben. Tease us thrice ...

Subject: General Tech | July 11, 2017 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: half life 3, valve, Gabe Newell

If you haven't spotted it yet, prepare to have your hopes dashed once again for there is a new Half-Life ... patch.  Yes, the original game, which is old enough to drink in all of Canada, just received some patches to fix gameplay bugs and save issues.  To add salt to the wound, most who want to revist the original will do so with Black Mesa which uses the updated Source engine.  Considering that the original Half-Life was done on the Goldsource engine, it is hard to lend credence to the theories that this is in preparation for a launch of the third chapter of Gordon Freeman's really long and bad day.  If you wish to torment yourself you can drop by The Inquirer for a link to the comment thread under the patch notes on Steam.

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"LEGENDARY GAME Half-Life has just got an update, but naturally, users are not entirely satisfied and many would have preferred Half-Life 3 apparently. Valve announced the update on the Steam Blog and it is in the comments that the calls for the third version of the game come to life. We will come back to that though"

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Source: The Inquirer

Razer HDK2 Is $399 (and Even Less for Some)

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2017 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: VR, razer, osvr

Last night, we reported on Oculus dropping the price of their Rift + Touch being reduced to $399 USD ($549 CDN). In the comments of that story, mLocke, who is a regular in our IRC chat, mentioned that Razer’s HDK2 is also $399. Even better, if you are a developer or involved in an educational institution, you can also apply to receive an addition 20% discount, which would bring the cost down to about $319 USD. There is also something about a “2 for 1 promotion” for academics and researchers, but you need to email them for that.

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That said, the OSVR HDK2 doesn’t come with a controller, unlike the Oculus Rift + Touch. Also, while OSVR is expected to form the basis of OpenXR, because Razer donated the API to the Khronos Group, it doesn’t support as much as Oculus or the HTC Vive. That said, if you’re a developer that only cares about your own content, it works with Unreal Engine 4 and Unity, and you can probably add support to other engines yourself. (Update @ 7:47pm: I just realized that this previous sentence doesn't mean what I intended it to. There's a lot of engines that already support OSVR, including Lumberyard and CryEngine. I meant that if you're working on your own, then the SDK is available as well. I didn't mean that Unity and Unreal Engine were the only ones with available plug-ins.)

So, for a consumer that is torn between both deals, I would probably point you to the Oculus one. If you’re a developer, educator, or researcher, then you might want to reach out to OSVR and see. It might be your best option.

Source: Razer

Does this look infected to you? Google launches a SAMBA app for Android

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2017 - 12:52 PM |
Tagged: wannacrypt, petya, security, samba, smbv1, google, andriod

If you missed out on having all your files encrypted and the chance to send bitcoin to a bunch of misanthropes who have no plans on unencrypting those files after you do, then download this new app from Google Play!  Then you can enable SMBv1 on all your other machines so your Android can share the virus amongst your other machines, perhaps you could even share this unforgettable experience  with your friends and family.  Do you really trust that the patches applied to this outdated network file sharing protocol will protect from the next wave of attacks or will you follow the advice from Microsoft's Ned Pyle that The Register quoted, "Stop using SMBv1".  There are a lot of other ways to share your files, most are even more effective than SMBv1 and are certainly more secure.

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"This made Google's decision so odd, The Register wondered if the app were faking the Google brand, but no: the source code linked from the app is at the Chocolate Factory's GitHub repo."

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Source: The Register

Blender Grease Pencil Preview

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2017 - 08:06 AM |
Tagged: Blender

Blender 2.8x is being dubbed “Workflow” by the Blender Foundation, and 2D animators are included in that. The 3D suite has included a tool, called “Grease Pencil”, for quite some time now, and its purpose was mostly to write notes. Since then, people have been using it for modeling (especially curves) and even 2D animation, which led the Blender Foundation to build it up in that direction.

This could potentially bring Blender more competitive with existing 2D animation software, like Animate CC (the Adobe re-brand of Flash Professional) and other tools. Being a 3D-centric application, it has a lot of interesting features to add to the mix, especially in terms of camera movement. (Animate CC just received a virtual camera in the most recent major version.) It will be interesting to see how comfortable they can make it for novices, because this is one of those areas that there’s not a lot of good free software for learners. (Digital Video and Studio Ghibli released OpenToonz, but it seems... more than a little difficult for newcomers from what I’ve seen.)

Blender 2.8 is supposedly aiming for a SIGGRAPH preview, which starts on July 30th.

Blender glTF 2.0 Exporter Published

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2017 - 07:24 AM |
Tagged: Khronos, gltf, Blender

As we reported about a month ago, The Khronos Group has finalized glTF 2.0, which is a 3D format designed for whole scenes. Since then, Khronos have published an exporter for Blender that implements what appears to be all core features, as well as specular-gloss PBR (Extension), lights (Experimental), “materials common” (Experimental), and “materials displace” (Experimental). It is implemented as a whole bunch of Python scripts.

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Apparently they provide their own PBR shader nodes for Cycles, rather than using the new Disney-based one in Blender 2.79. I’m not sure whether this was to make the export easier, or if development schedules just couldn’t align. Either way, both metallic/roughness and specular/gloss workflows have been provided, so that should make exporting either workflow relatively straight-forward.

Oculus Rift + Touch Short-Term Price Reduction to $399

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: VR, Oculus

For a limited time (UploadVR claims six weeks although I don’t see where that listed on any official source) Oculus has reduced the price of the Rift + Touch VR system from $598 to $399 USD. For us Canadians out there, this translates to $549 CDN, which is about on par with the exchange rate these days. Their hope is to bring VR into the price range of a gaming console, which multi-platform gamers are (obviously, otherwise they wouldn’t be multi-platform) willing to accept.

This also puts it at almost exactly half of the price of the HTC Vive in both countries, which makes for an interesting comparison. They both offer about the same level of hardware, albeit with some minor differences, and Oculus has been pushing quite a bit of exclusive, free content, like Robo Recall. One concern that I have, however, is whether Oculus can maintain stock levels throughout the entire period, since availability was one of the areas that HTC got right, and did so long before Oculus.

The cynic in me also wonders how long it will be before HTC and Oculus VR release their second-generation consumer VR kits. All we’ve heard about from HTC is accessories, like the wireless upgrade kit and the tracker, alongside a Daydream-based standalone unit, which is a much different market than PC VR.

Either way, $399 is quite cheap for what you’re getting, so it seems like a good deal if you're interested.

Source: Oculus

Summer Games Done Quick 2017 Ends Over $1.75 Million

Subject: General Tech | July 9, 2017 - 05:52 PM |
Tagged: gdq, speedrun

After a week of 24-hour streaming, Summer Games Done Quick 2017 came to a close with a four-and-a-half-hour glitchless run of Earthbound. While late donations are still coming in, the current total is $1,776,475.79 USD across 30,065 separate donations from 22039 different people. This benefits Doctors Without Borders.

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2017 has been a record breaking year for Games Done Quick events. The January show, which often outperforms its July counterpart, brought in $2.22 million USD when it seemed like ~$1.2 to $1.5 million is where we were going to settle at. While we didn’t eclipse that this week, it did beat the previous Summer event by over $500,000. Maybe we’re still in a growth period, and 2016 was just unusually low?

I guess we’ll find out on January 7th - 14th for Awesome Games Done Quick 2018.

We need a longer name! Creative's Sound BlasterX Vanguard K08 Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2017 - 01:36 PM |
Tagged: Sound BlasterX Vanguard K08, Creative, mechanical keyboard, Omron, input

It seems almost a pity that the only noise this Sound BlasterX device can make is the clicking of its Omron switches, but the Aurora Reactive Lighting offers a 16.8 million shades of RGB to provide a light show.  TechPowerUp were disappointed by the immature status of the driver, macro functionality was added long after launch and they saw lag when switching between lighting modes which other keyboards do not display. This is Creative's first go at an RGB mechanical keyboard and there are some good features to it, especially if you are a fan of Omron switches so take a look if you find your interest peaked.

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"The Sound BlasterX Vanguard K08 is the first keyboard from Creative and features OMRON mechanical switches, full 16.8M RGB backlighting, dedicated media and macro buttons, and a USB pass-through port. The hardware is supported by their Sound Blaster Connect software driver for lighting customization and performance tweaking."

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Source: TechPowerUp

Sorry SD card users and ReFS fans, OneDrive doesn't like your kind

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2017 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: fat32, ntfs, ReFS, onedrive, microsoft, Win 10, win 8.1

NTFS or get out seems to be Microsoft's new OneDrive policy as if you try to upload files from disks formatted with their FAT32 or ReFS file systems you will be greeted with an error.  This restriction has existed on Windows 8.1 for a while but it is a new twist now offered on the current Win 10 Insiders Edition, which does mean there is hope that it will be removed.  This will have an effect on those who use ultramobile devices which depend on SD cards to extend their storage as well as those who have adopted Microsoft's new Resilient File System.  You could try a non-destructive format of your drive, or move it to an NTFS disk to be able to then upload it.  For more suggestions and a link to a place to vent your spleen you can visit The Register.

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"Microsoft discovered a warning message that should have existed was missing when a user attempted to store their OneDrive folder on a non-NTFS filesystem – which was immediately remedied. Nothing has changed in terms of official support and all OneDrive folders will continue to need to be located on a drive with the NTFS filesystem."

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Source: The Register

Sadly not a NAND gate; even if some of these RAM rumours are false we are in for shortages

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2017 - 12:33 PM |
Tagged: ram, micron, rumour, SK Hynix, toshiba

As is tradition, after we received hopeful news yesterday about Samsung's investing in the expansion of their flash production we now have bad news out of Micron.  DRAMeXchange reported a nitrogen leak in Micron's Taoyuan fab which prompted an evacuation and the possible stillbirth of ~60,000 wafer starts, or about 5.5% cut in the amount of RAM available by the end of the month.  Trendforce also reported the same incident and numbers

Micron has released a statement contradicting these stories, stating that while there was an incident, there was no real impact to the business or to employees.  One hopes that is the more accurate report as that particular Fab produces LPDDR4, which is already in high demand and short supply.  Indeed, another story mentions that SK Hynix and Toshiba's 3D NAND production was well below expectations and that the supply of NAND for iPhones may fall short by as much as 30%.

This would imply that any impact on Micron's RAM production, even if nowhere near the amount mentioned by the press, would have a large effect on the market in the coming quarters.  Samsung will certainly try to capture some of this demand, but the upgrades to their Fabs are still a while off and they are already operating at close to maximum capacity.   Fingers crossed we don't hear bad news from GLOFO tomorrow morning!

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"Micron Technology has issued a statement regarding recent reports about its fabrication facility in Taoyuan, Taiwan. Micron clarified that there was no nitrogen leaking incident nor evacuation of personnel. A minor event did occurred at the facility, but operations are recovering speedily without material impact to the business."

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Source: DigiTimes

Podcast #457 - Radeon Vega FE, NVIDIA Multi-Die, Ryzen Pro, and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2017 - 10:40 AM |
Tagged: video, Vega FE, starcraft, seasonic, ryzen pro, radeon, podcast, nvidia, Multi-Die, gtx 1060, galax

PC Perspective Podcast #457 - 07/6/17

Join us for Radeon Vega FE, NVIDIA Multi-Die, Ryzen Pro, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Ken Addison

Program length: 1:08:04
 
Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
      1. RX Vega perf leak
    1. 0:33:10 Casper!
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  4. Closing/outro

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

Source:

Virtually the best benchmark for VR performance

Subject: General Tech | July 5, 2017 - 02:25 PM |
Tagged: gaming, oculus rift, fcat, fcat vr

FCAT for VR is rather new and so we have not seen a lot of reviews as of yet.  Ryan posted a detailed overview of what this tool measures, as well as results from a few games on the GTX 1060 and RX 480 which you should check out if you want a better understanding of the benchmark.  Babeltechreviews have also been using this tool to measure the VR performance of a variety of GPUs and have just posted a review covering Obduction, Robinson: The Journey and The Unspoken.  Drop by to take a look at what you could expect to see when gaming in VR on these six GPUs.

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"We have been playing more than 30 VR Oculus Rift games using 4 top NVIDIA and 2 top AMD video cards, and we have just completed performance benchmarking for Robinson: The Journey, The Unspoken, and Obduction."

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Remember when Flash was plentiful? Samsung's Fabs remember!

Subject: General Tech | July 5, 2017 - 12:42 PM |
Tagged: flash, Samsung

Historically, memory prices have been as volatile as the RAM they are used in but recently this has changed.  The demand for flash storage, volatile or not, has grown tremendously with the advent of SSDs, the ever increasing local flash storage provided on your phone and now even cars and other members of the IoT are devouring flash as quickly as it can be made.  This has lead to the new pricing trend we have been seeing, a slow increase in the price of flash memory.  Samsung is addressing this shortage, and looking to increase their revenue, by making a large investment in their existing infrastructure in South Korea.  All told these investments total $31.2 billion dollars and will enhance existing production lines as well as adding Extreme Ultra Violet machinery to a Fab which currently lacks that technology.  Drop by The Register for more detail.

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"It says it will invest KRW 30 trillion ($26.1bn) by 2021 in its existing plant in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, to expand its semiconductor fabrication capacity. This fab, claimed to be the single largest in the industry, is now making 64-layer 4th generation V-NAND flash chips."

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Source: The Register

Polybutylene terephthalate is in, the Cooler Master MasterKeys L PBT

Subject: General Tech | July 4, 2017 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: input, cooler master, MasterKeys L PBT, Cherry MX, mechanical keyboard

The MasterKeys L PBT keyboard offers typists a lot of choice, there are models featuring Cherry MX Red, Brown, Blue, Green, or Silver so you can choose the type of switches you prefer.  The PBT portion of the name refers to the keycaps, which are thicker than the more common ABS keycaps you find on most keyboards, a feature which Techpowerup were quite taken by.  The price is also uncommon for a mechanical keyboard as both the full sized model and the TKL model are priced under $100.  Drop by for a look.

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"Cooler Master have listened to consumer feedback and with their MasterKeys PBT series they have thick PBT plastic keycaps out of the box on all the switches. The keyboard also includes onboard support for multiple OS and typing layouts, macro recording and an option for the rare Cherry MX Green switches; all for less than $100."

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Source: TechPowerUp

AMD's market share is Ryzen

Subject: General Tech | July 4, 2017 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: passmark, amd, Intel, ryzen, market share

The designers of Passmark benchmarking software have noticed a trend in the past year, a surge in the number of AMD processors being tested.  The jump is quite impressive and even if it does not directly represent sales it certainly suggests that AMD's recent launch of Ryzen has been attracting enthusiasts.  At the beginning of the year AMD accounted for just over 18% of the benchmarks being run but as of now over a quarter of all benchmarks are being run on AMD processors.  With Threadripper on the horizon this number could grow, though perhaps not as dramatically as with the launch of the lower priced Ryzen family.  Drop by The Inquirer for more.

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"However, AMD's share has bounced back this year, rising from 18.1 per cent logged at the beginning of the first quarter to 26.2 per cent at the beginning of the third quarter. Intel's share has dipped to 73.8 per cent at the same time."

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Source: The Inquirer

Noontec's Zoro II Wireless Limited Edition headset, lots of battery and bass for your earholes

Subject: General Tech | June 30, 2017 - 03:44 PM |
Tagged: audio, Noontec, zoro II, wireless headset

The Tech Report recently looked at Noontec's Zoro II Wireless Limited Edition headset, which can be connected via Bluetooth as well as a 3.5-mm headphone jack for those days when Bluetooth just doesn't want to cooperate or your battery finally dies.  The USB cable is for charging, with an advertised 35 hour battery life that should see you through even long days on the road.  TR were quite taken with the audio quality of these over the ear headphones, the sound was clear and there was a lot of bass to the audio but not the overpowering amount you often get from headphones with bass boost features.  The headset will run you around $130-160; check out the full review here.

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"Noontec's Zoro II wireless headphones embrace the headphone-jack-free future with a Bluetooth connection and a long-lasting internal battery. We jammed out with the Zoro II to see whether it's time to cut the cord."

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Fine! I'll go build my own blockchain, with blackjack and ...

Subject: General Tech | June 30, 2017 - 02:51 PM |
Tagged: gambling, blockchain, bitcoin, ethereum

Argonaut Software founder and Ethereum guru Jez San’s Funfair project looks to make online gambling more secure with blockchains.  He related a story about how the admins of an online casino site used privileges to view players' cards and pass the information onto accomplices, tilting the odds even more in favour of the house.  With a blockchain every single transaction is publicly recorded and anyone can inspect and audit that record so such nefarious schemes would immediately be spotted.  This also opens up an interesting choice for regulators, who could either embrace the technology and be able to monitor and police it or attempt to ignore or prevent it, in which case they would be totally shut out of the entire process.  This is a very complex idea, for a deeper look into how this could work and the repercussions of it being embraced you can pop over to The Register.

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"One of the brains behind classic Nintendo game Star Fox is launching a blockchain-based online gambling service that could leave regulators stumped – and says he has raised $200,000 from the public to launch it."

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Source: The Register

StarCraft Remastered Trailer, Release Date, and Pre-order

Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2017 - 09:34 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, blizzard

We first reported on StarCraft Remastered when it was announced, which was alongside the GSL 2017 Season 1 finals on March 26th. This was accompanied by a patch that brought the base game up to modern standards, which conveniently allows it to be multiplayer-compatible with Remastered, although skill-based matchmaking is exclusive to Remastered.

It has now been given a trailer, above, and a release date: August 14th, 2017.

As for the price? Pre-orders for StarCraft Remastered are available at $14.99 USD, although it’s unclear whether this price will stick after the pre-order period. I should note that the page states that StarCraft Remastered requires “StarCraft Anthology”. The way its worded makes it look like you need to buy something else, but StarCraft Anthology was made free with the aforementioned 1.18a patch. Basically, it looks like Blizzard is treating StarCraft Remastered as a paid booster to StarCraft Anthology, but, again, the latter is free so it probably only matters in terms of the install process. At least, that’s how it looks to me.

Source: Blizzard

How exactly do we type these new Ryzen Pro parts? R7P, Ryzen 7P, R7 Pro?

Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2017 - 12:43 PM |
Tagged: amd, ryzen pro, EPYC

Official news about Ryzen Pro has finally arrived and The Tech Report was right on top of it.  This is the first we have seen of the "3" parts, a Ryzen 3 Pro 1300 and Ryzen 3 Pro 1200, their four non-SMT cores clocked at a decent 3.5/3.7GHz and 3.1/3.4GHz respectively.  That makes the Ryzen 3 Pro 1300 essentially the same chip as the Ryzen 5 Pro 1500 but with half the total cache and without multi-threading, theoretically reducing the price.  Five of the six new parts have a TDP of 65W with only the top tier Ryzen 7 Pro 1700X hitting 95W, with its 8 cores, 16 threads operating at 3.5/3.7GHz.

The speeds and core counts are not the most important features of these chips however, it is the features they share with AMD's soon to arrive EPYC chips.  AMD Secure Processor features, TPM 2.0 and DASH which offers features similar to Intel's vPro architecture.  This one area in which AMD offers a broader choice of products than Intel whose Core i3 parts do not support enterprise features; at least not yet.  Click the link above to check out more.

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"AMD's Ryzen Pro platform blends business-class security and management features with the performance of the Zen architecture. We take an early look at how AMD plans to grapple with Intel in the battle for the standard corporate desktop."

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Podcast #456 - Radeon Vega FE, Intel SSD 545S, GTX USB, Mining Specifc Cards, and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2017 - 11:06 AM |
Tagged: video, Vega FE, thermalright, Spirit 140, Samsung, radeon, prorender, podcast, mining, mini ITX, microcode, logitech, GTX USB, gigabyte, galaxy s8+, G433, amd, AM4

PC Perspective Podcast #456 - 06/28/17

Join us for talk about Radeon Vega FE, Intel SSD 545S, GTX USB, Mining Specifc 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Ken Addison

Program length: 1:28:14
 
Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  4. Closing/outro

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

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