A new evolution in infection

Subject: General Tech | December 18, 2017 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: security, antivirus

Researchers at the questionably named company, Bromuim, have published information on a new emailed virus which is making the rounds and is not stopped by the vast majority of antivirus programs.  This particular nasty is making it through because the infectious payload is being updated at least as frequently as your antivirus software, which is how it is sneaking through.  Unfortunately, as is mentioned in the article over at The Inquirer if you are the type to click on links and attachments in random emails from questionable senders, antivirus programs are not likely to save you

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"Researchers at Cupertino-based virtualised security company Bromium discovered a technique being used by hackers which they describe as ‘polymorphic', attacking both primary and secondary executables."

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Source: The Inquirer

Get Wei Fresh with Mionix

Subject: General Tech | December 15, 2017 - 06:12 PM |
Tagged: mionix, wei keyboard, mechanical keyboard, Cherry MX RGB red

You know the Mionix Wei keyboard has to be good, just look at that classic curly tail!  In addition to nice looks the board uses Cherry MX RGB Red switches for your tactile pleasure.  You can swap out the default keycaps if you opt to purchase one of their replacement sets, they come in  light red/pink, yellow, and blue so you can have a rather unique looking board if you so desire.  The lighting on the other hand is relatively simple, TechPowerUp felt the software doesn't match up to the competitions but it still lets you change the behaviour of your LEDs somewhat.  Pop by for their full impression on the Wei keyboard right here.

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"The Wei is Mionix's first keyboard, and part of their new "Get Fresh!" campaign with lighter color shades, optional keycap sets, and wrist rests; color schemes based off food items and clean aesthetics inside and out, which make this a keyboard targeting gamers and professionals alike."

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Source: TechPowerUp

Corsair's HS50 continue to recieve kudos

Subject: General Tech | December 15, 2017 - 01:59 PM |
Tagged: stereo, review, neodymium, HS50, headset, headphones, gaming, corsair, 50mm, audio

Sebastian was not the only one who listened to Corsair's new HS50 gaming headset, several other sites tested out this $50 headset and offered their thoughts.  The Tech Report contrasted this headset with their favoured Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones which cost roughly three times as much.  They found the audio to be somewhat clearer on the more expensive headset as you might expect, but Corsair's offering came very close and offer congratulations on the quality they managed on such an inexpensive pair of headphones.  Check out their review in full right here.

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"Corsair's HS50 Stereo Gaming Headset boasts solid build quality and classy looks, plus a Swiss Army knife's worth of compatibility. We gamed with the HS50 on consoles and listened to its musical chops to see whether it's a winner for $50."

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Ataribox remains in pre-pre-order

Subject: General Tech | December 15, 2017 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: ataribox, Indiegogo

Yesterday was supposed to be the first day in which you could pre-order the AMD powered Ataribox retro-gaming machine from Indigogo.  Unfortunately that has proved not to be the case as the launch has been delayed indefinitely.  The Inquirer was not able to find out any details on what is causing the hold up, nor have we any more information on the hardware which will be inside the box.  This announcement also implies the spring launch date is now questionable, hopefully we there will be some details released in the near future about the delay and its effect on delivery times.

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"Earlier this week, Atari announced that it would be launching its crowdfunding campaign the Ataribox on 14 December, but just days the firm has been forced to tell prospective customers that pre-orders have been delayed indefinitely."

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Source: The Inquirer

AT&T has some good news and some very bad news

Subject: General Tech | December 14, 2017 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: AT%26T, direcTV, security, networking, linksys

To start off with the bad news, as is our wont, DirecTV kits have a rather serious code injection problem.  A researcher was able access the root shell on the Linksys WVBR0-25 wireless video bridge in less than 30 seconds, once he had access to one of the devices that the bridge was streaming to.  As there are many infected machines out there, often PC's used only as video players as simple, poorly secured machines, this would mean your machines could be recruited into a botnet or mining pool quite easily.  The researcher passed on his research to AT&T and Linksys 181 days ago he is quite disappointed they have yet to start develop a patch, according to The Register.

On a more positive note, AT&T is testing broadband over powerlines in Georgia and an undisclosed location outside the USA.  They did not release any specifics of the current bandwidth which they can provide, though their goal is to surpass 1 gigabit per second.  This will be quite the project as the testing we have done with powerline adapters did not show network connectivity anywhere near that speed in the best case scenarios, let alone when less than perfect wiring nor distance degraded the overall performance.  You can check out more on that topic over at Slashdot.

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"AT&T's DirecTV wireless kit has an embarrassing vulnerability in its firmware that can be trivially exploited by miscreants and malware to install hidden backdoors on the home network equipment, according to a security researcher."

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Source: The Register

Podcast #479 - NVIDIA Titan V, AMD Adrenalin, and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 14, 2017 - 12:09 PM |
Tagged: video, vesa, toshiba, titan v, synaptics, Silverstone, shazam, radeon, podcast, PBT, nvidia, nervana, keylogger, jonsbo, Intel, hp, hdr, corsair, Clear ID, apple, amd, Adrenalin, 14tb

PC Perspective Podcast #479 - 12/14/17

Join us for discussion on NVIDIA Titan V, AMD Adrenalin, 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, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano,

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:12:23

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:38:15 AD:  Hello Fresh
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Picks of the Week:
    1. 1:06:15 Allyn: Authy
  5. Closing/outro

Source:

Can system RAM help out a mid-range GPU?

Subject: General Tech | December 13, 2017 - 03:43 PM |
Tagged: gaming

TechSpot took a look at the effect of system RAM on gaming performance when using a GPU with less VRAM than a game prefers.  They tested both the 3GB and 6GB models of the GTX 1060, with 4, 8, 16 and 32GB of system memory installed.  With the rising costs of RAM, their findings suggest paying for the extra VRAM is worth it as the 3GB model didn't really start to offer proper performance with less than 16GB of DDR in the system.  That extra RAM will often cost you more than purchasing a better GPU, though perhaps not enough to justify that GTX 1080 Ti.  Check out the full review to see what effect extra RAM has on your favourite games.

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"Measuring the impact that RAM capacity has on gaming is harder than it sounds because of all the factors at play. However we've tested different hardware configurations to determine how much memory is truly useful for gaming from 4GB up to 32GB."

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Source: Techspot

Intel Sheds More Light On Benefits of Nervana Neural Network Processor

Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 12, 2017 - 04:52 PM |
Tagged: training, nnp, nervana, Intel, flexpoint, deep learning, asic, artificial intelligence

Intel recently provided a few insights into its upcoming Nervana Neural Network Processor (NNP) on its blog. Built in partnership with deep learning startup Nervana Systems which Intel acquired last year for over $400 million, the AI-focused chip previously codenamed Lake Crest is built on a new architecture designed from the ground up to accelerate neural network training and AI modeling.

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The full details of the Intel NNP are still unknown, but it is a custom ASIC with a Tensor-based architecture placed on a multi-chip module (MCM) along with 32GB of HBM2 memory. The Nervana NNP supports optimized and power efficient Flexpoint math and interconnectivity is huge on this scalable platform. Each AI accelerator features 12 processing clusters (with an as-yet-unannounced number of "cores" or processing elements) paired with 12 proprietary inter-chip links that 20-times faster than PCI-E, four HBM2 memory controllers, a management-controller CPU, as well as standard SPI, I2C, GPIO, PCI-E x16, and DMA I/O. The processor is designed to be highly configurable and to meet both mode and data parallelism goals.

The processing elements are all software controlled and can communicate with each other using high speed bi-directional links at up to a terabit per second. Each processing element has more than 2MB of local memory and the Nervana NNP has 30MB in total of local memory. Memory accesses and data sharing is managed with QOS software which controls adjustable bandwidth over multiple virtual channels with multiple priorities per channel. Processing elements can talk to and send/receive data between each other and the HBM2 stacks locally as well as off die to processing elements and HBM2 on other NNP chips. The idea is to allow as much internal sharing as possible and to keep as much data stored and transformed in local data as possible in order to save precious HBM2 bandwidth (1TB/s) for pre-fetching upcoming tensors, reduce the number of hops and resulting latency by not having to go out to the HBM2 memory and back to transfer data between cores and/or processors, and to save power. This setup also helps Intel achieve an extremely parallel and scalable platform where multiple Nervana NNP Xeon co-processors on the same and remote boards effectively act as a massive singular compute unit!

Intel Lake Crest Block Diagram.jpg
 

Intel's Flexpoint is also at the heart of the Nervana NNP and allegedly allows Intel to achieve similar results to FP32 with twice the memory bandwidth while being more power efficient than FP16. Flexpoint is used for the scalar math required for deep learning and uses fixed point 16-bit multiply and addition operations with a shared 5-bit exponent. Unlike FP16, Flexpoint uses all 16-bits of address space for the mantissa and passes the exponent in the instruction. The NNP architecture also features zero cycle transpose operations and optimizations for matrix multiplication and convolutions to optimize silicon usage.

Software control allows users to dial in the performance for their specific workloads, and since many of the math operations and data movement are known or expected in advance, users can keep data as close to the compute units working on that data as possible while minimizing HBM2 memory accesses and data movements across the die to prevent congestion and optimize power usage.

Intel is currently working with Facebook and hopes to have its deep learning products out early next year. The company may have axed Knights Hill, but it is far from giving up on this extremely lucrative market as it continues to push towards exascale computing and AI. Intel is pushing for a 100x increase in neural network performance by 2020 which is a tall order but Intel throwing its weight around in this ring is something that should give GPU makers pause as such an achievement could cut heavily into their GPGPU-powered entries into this market that is only just starting to heat up.

You won't be running Crysis or even Minecraft on this thing, but you might be using software on your phone for augmented reality or in your autonomous car that is running inference routines on a neural network that was trained on one of these chips soon enough! It's specialized and niche, but still very interesting.

Also read:

Source: Intel

Bungie learns a lesson similar to EA

Subject: General Tech | December 12, 2017 - 04:25 PM |
Tagged: destiny 2, Bungie

With the newest expansion to Destiny 2 came an unpleasant surprise for those who did not pay for the DLC, an inability to access parts of the game they previously had access to.  The Prestige level challenges were intended to scale with a player's power and with the new cap available it was no longer available for those who did not fork over cash for the DLC, as well there were several PvP modes that were also blocked.  They have since realized the error of their ways and both restored access and apologized; you can read that apology at [H]ard|OCP.

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"The Prestige Raid was a novel experience that players value, even if they don’t own Curse of Osiris, and it was a mistake to move that experience out of reach. Throughout the lifetime of the Destiny Franchise, Trials has always required that players owned the latest Expansion."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

HP Issues Security Patch For Keylogger Discovered In More than 460 Laptop Models

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 12, 2017 - 02:37 AM |
Tagged: synaptics, security patch, security, keylogger, hp, Cyber Security

HP has issued security patches for more than 460 models of the company's laptops and thin clients to address a hidden keylogger present in the Synaptics touchpad drivers. Discovered by security researcher Michael Myng while delving into the Synaptics Touchpad Software in an attempt to change the backlight behavior of the keyboard, the keylogger was reportedly built into the software stack to debug errors. While it shipped to customers disabled by default, an attacker that was able to achieve administrative privileges could change the appropriate registry value and enable keylogging to locally record all of the user's keystrokes without their knowledge. Further malicious code or local physical access could then be used to retrieve data for analysis of possible passwords, usernames, account numbers, and other personal information.

Keyloggers.jpg

Image courtesy Robbert van der Steeg via Flickr Creative Commons

HP claims in its security bulletin that at no time did it or Synaptics have access to customer data and that this security vulnerability is a "local loss of confidentiality" and should be acted upon as soon as possible by downloading the security patch for your laptop from HP or by running Windows Update.

According to the HP security bulletin, the vulnerability reportedly affects all Synaptics OEM partners including HP that have shipped systems with certain Synaptics Touchpad driver versions. In the case of HP this includes commercial / enterprise notebooks, tablets, thin clients, and mobile workstations from their G2, G4, G6, Elite X2, EliteBook, Thin Client, ProBook, Spectre Pro, Stream, X360, and ZBook Mobile Workstation series and consumer devices with Compaq, Beats, ENVY, OMEN, Pavilion, Spectre, Split, Stream, and even the 15" Star Wars Special Edition laptop!

While this is a serious security risk, there is no need to panic. You should apply the patch manually or through Windows Update as soon as possible, but so long as you have been and continue to follow security best practices (strong passwords, running anti-virus and anti-malware scans regularly, restricting physical access, and not running as administrator on your daily driver user account, ect) you should be safe as there are several steps that would need to be completed before an attacker could take advantage of this hidden keylogger, especially remotely. 

You can find the full list of affected laptops and their associated security patches on HP's support website. For a PGP signed version of the page you can email hp-security-alert@hp.com.

Source: BBC

Synaptics Unveils Clear ID In-Display Fingerprint Sensor Technology

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 12, 2017 - 12:00 AM |
Tagged: synaptics, security, fingerprint sensor, fingerprint, biometrics

Synaptics, the California-based "human interface solution developer" founded in 1986, is no stranger to PC input and interface devices with more than 5 billion units shipped to OEM partners and a large patent portfolio. Today, the company is getting into the lucrative smartphone market in a big way with its Clear ID In-Display fingerprint sensor which sits just under and scans a user's fingerprint through a standard smartphone display (including glass overlay and screen protector).

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Current sensors sit in a fixed position at OEM discretion and activate only when needed. Future in-display sensors will target larger areas and eventually the entire display.

Synaptics has designed and positioned the FS9500 fingerprint sensor at smartphones with so-called Infinity Displays and seeks to address the problem of where and how to mount a biometrics sensor (or even a camera for that matter, but that's a different problem) on smartphones that are moving towards edge to edge displays with no physical button area or bezels to mount front facing sensors! Rather than requiring an unusual cut out display (like the iPhone X) or settling for larger bezels, Synaptics has instead opted to take advantage of the large display area by laminating the thin fingerprint senor module to the underside of the display and using the OLED display itself as the light source to illuminate the user's fingerprint so that the optimized CMOS image sensor can scan the fingerprint from the reflected light bounced through the gaps in between pixels.

Synaptics claims it is using "Quantum Matcher" and "PurePrint" machine learning technology to enhance security as well as to adapt to different external lighting environments (e.g. direct sunlight), and as a result its fingerprint sensor is able to work faster and in more situations than competing 3D facial recognition systems. Specifically, the company claims its fingerprint sensor is able to accurately read a user's fingerprint in 0.7 seconds versus 1.4 seconds for a facial recognition camera biometrics sensor. The Clear ID In-Display fingerprint sensor is rated at an approximate 99% spoof rejection rate thanks to the AI-powered PurePrint technology that discerns real fingerprints from fakes along with an on-board encryption module that establishes an encrypted connection from the biometrics sensor to the phone.

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With the biggest hurdle to the continued relevance of the fingerprint sensor on modern smartphones solved by placing it under the display itself, smartphone users are able to continue to enjoy the benefits of fingerprint biometrics versus the fancy new facial recognition systems (which are admittedly cool, but do seem a bit "gimmicky" to me) including being able to unlock the phone naturally by picking it up, not having to look directly at it before it will unlock, and being able to quickly unlock the phone even in bad lighting (too dark or too bright) situations.

If it works as well as they claim, it seems like a neat way to integrate a secure fingerprint reader. Fortunately, we should not have to wait long to see it in action with devices using the technology expected as soon as next year. Perhaps we will see more information or even product announcements and design wins at CES! (Also, how the heck is it almost CES already?? heh)

Interestingly, Synaptics is not the first company to attempt the under display fingerprint sensor, with Qualcomm showing off an "ultrasonic" sensor earlier this year and Samsung reportedly filing patents for a pressure sensitive in display sensor, but Synaptics may well be the first to actually deliver, and with a product that is faster and able to work with thicker "top stacks" (the distance between top of sensor and finger including the display, glass overlay, and screen protector) up to 1.5mm.

Source: Synaptics

Apple Confirms Acquisition of Shazam In Deal Worth $400 Million

Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2017 - 06:46 PM |
Tagged: shazam, music streaming, augmented reality, apple music, apple

Apple has confirmed its plans to acquire the London-based company Shazam who is most well-known for its song recognition app for smartphones. The deal, which industry sources estimate to be worth a bit over $400 million, would see Shazam and its employees become part of Apple who has been in talks with Shazam for the past five months and exclusively dating for two.

TechCrunch quotes Apple in stating:

“We are thrilled that Shazam and its talented team will be joining Apple. Since the launch of the App Store, Shazam has consistently ranked as one of the most popular apps for iOS. Today, it’s used by hundreds of millions of people around the world, across multiple platforms. Apple Music and Shazam are a natural fit, sharing a passion for music discovery and delivering great music experiences to our users. We have exciting plans in store, and we look forward to combining with Shazam upon approval of today’s agreement.”

Currently, Shazam is available on a massive number of devices with apps for Android, iOS, Watch OS (Apple Watch), BlackBerry OS, Mac OS, and Windows machines equipped with a microphone. Its apps have been downloaded well over 1 billion times and its users have performed more than 30 billion song searches – "Shazams" – since its launch. The Shazam app allows users to identify songs by recording short clips which Shazam creates a time-frequency spectrograph with to compare to its database of known spectrographs of 11 million songs in an attempt to find a match. IT's not perfect, especially if you are in a loud bar or at home and the song you want to identify is in the background of a TV show with a lot of dialogue over it, but it works for the most part. Shazam has further updated its app through the years to incorporate social networking aspects, link YouTube videos of identified songs, provide links to Amazon Music and Apple Music to purchase the song, and display song lyrics and information on the music artist. The app development company Shazam has also branched out into marketing partnerships as well as image recognition and augmented reality projects which may have also piqued Apple's interest. 

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Interestingly, Apple was not the only – or even the first – company to approach Shazam about a possible acquisition. Specifically, Snap (the company behind Snapchat) and Spotify were also interested in buying up the London-based developers. While the talks with Spotify fell through, Snap originally approached Shazam six months ago, beating Apple to the punch, but apparently neither company was able to muster up a stable-enough or sizeable enough offer. It is natural that these three companies would be interested in folding Shazam into their own business units since they already have partnerships in place with Shazam for various functionality and marketing reasons. Ars Technica notes that Shazam is used on the backend when asking Siri to identify a song, for example. Further, Spotify members with paid subscriptions could listen to full songs from within the Shazam app, and Shazam can be used within Snapchat to discover and share out songs.

With Apple winning the war for Shazam, I am curious what this will mean for the future of Apple Music as well as the future of the standalone Shazam apps (especially those on non-Apple platforms like the Android app and the song recognition functionality from within third party apps). Bringing Shazam in house is a smart move for Apple which is looking to advance its streaming music service. If anything, it will open the Play Store up for new apps to move in if Apple does pull Shazam inside its walled garden as an Apple exclusive offering.

What are your thoughts on the acquisition? Do you use Shazam?

Source: TechCrunch

Asus Reveals Specifications Of Snapdragon-Powered NovaGo Convertible Laptop

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 11, 2017 - 04:30 PM |
Tagged: Windows 10 S, snapdragon 835, qualcomm, NovaGo, asus

The Asus NovaGo was announced last week at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Tech Summit, and now the company is sharing additional specifications on one of the first Windows On Snapdragon devices. Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 and running Windows 10 S, Asus is promising a convertible tablet with up to 22 hours of battery life capable of running most of your usual Windows applications (even non-Store / UWP apps so long as they are 32-bit and don’t require kernel mode drivers).

Asus NovaGo Snapdragon Laptop.png

Measuring 316 x 221.6 x 14.9mm, the Asus NovaGo TP370 is constructed of dark gray plastic (and some metal bits) and weighs in at just over 3.06 pounds (1.39 kg). The top half of the device is dominated by a 13.3” 1920 x 1080 LTPS “NanoEdge” display with 8.9mm bezels and also hosts the 720p webcam which isn’t great but does apparently support Windows Hello. The display offers 10-point multi-touch as well as stylus support in the form of the Asus Pen with 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity.

A 360° silver colored hinge connects the two halves of the PC and enables tablet and tent modes. The bottom half of the NovaGo holds most of the hardware of the device along with the external I/O ports. The NovaGo has a chiclet style keyboard with flat looking keys and the arrow keys nestled in the bottom right corner. The trackpad does appear to be fairly large though. There are two SonicMaster stereo speakers, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps) Type A ports, one HDMI video output, a audio combo jack, microSD card slot, Nano SIM slot, and DC power input (no USB Type-C charging here unfortunately).

Internal hardware centers around the 10nm Snapdragon 835 SoC and its X16 LTE modem. The Snapdragon 835 features eight Kryo 280 64-bit ARM cores clocked at up to 2.45 GHz, an Adreno 540 GPU at 710 MHz, Hexagonn 682 DSP, support for aptX audio and Aqstic audio codec, Spectra 180 ISP (which seems to be underutilized here with only a 1MP webcam in play), and platform security module. The SoC is paired with up to 8GB of RAM and 256 GB of UFS 2.0 flash storage (rated at up to 175 MB/s or 4000 Mbps).

The NovaGo has four antennas and supports Gigabit LTE (1 Gbps down, 150 Mbps up) and dual-band 802.11ac MU-MIMO Wi-Fi. Users can use a Nano SIM or eSIM (embedded SIM) functionality to connect to their wireless carriers with the eSIM able to be set up through the Windows Store by purchasing a data plan locally when traveling. A 52 watt-hour battery allegedly keeps the NovaGo running for up to 22 hours and sitting in connected standby for up to a month. Windows 10 S is bundled with the system, but power users can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free until September 2018.

Hexus.net reports that the NovaGo will be available in early spring 2018 and will hit the US, UK, Italy, France, China, and Taiwan first with other countries to follow later. There are several models at play with 4GB, 6GB, and 8GB of RAM as well as 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB of UFS 2.0 storage. The base model has a MSRP of $599 and the top end SKU has a MSRP of $799.

The pricing does seem to be on the more expensive side, but these devices are aimed at mobile professionals and businesses with expense accounts so it’s not that out of line, and if the build quality is there and the battery life gets close to the lofty promises I can see them catching on.

Also read:

Source: Asus

Roundup at the keyboard corral

Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2017 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: input, keyboard, gaming keyboard, mechanical keyboard, wireless keyboard

Techspot have posted a comprehensive keyboard roundup, encompassing a wide variety of usage including, work, gaming, wireless, HTPC and budget categories.  The brands include Das Keyboard and Corsair but the majority of the categories are ruled by a veteran brand.  Logitech takes top spot in numerous categories, including the budget choice but also the wireless categories.  The review also offers runner ups, so drop by if you or someone on your list is in the market for a new keyboard.

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"Whether you are focused on productivity, or are looking for a gaming-centric keyboard, or something that can connect to multiple devices over Bluetooth, here are our favorite keyboards on every category."

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Source: Techspot

Fresh chips for your Monday

Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2017 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: Zen+, ryzen 2, rumour, Pinnacle Ridge, pentium silver, Intel, gemini lake, celeron, amd

AMD and Intel both have new chips on the way according to what The Inquirer has gleaned, Intel's are available while AMD's are not yet released.   Starting with AMD, there is a bit of news about the expected release date of Ryzen 2, with Ryzen 7, Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 2000 expected to arrive in February.  AMD's Pinnacle Ridge architecture is expected to be an improved version of the original, as opposed to the completely new designs Intel has favoured lately, and will bring compatibility for higher clocked DDR4 as well as higher core frequencies.  This is still in the rumour stage but is not completely inconceivable.

Intel's new Gemini Lake processors are available now, to make purchasing a CPU even more confusing.  The Pentium Silver line are an upgrade to Apollo Lake, the previous Atom architecture and have no actual relation to the Kaby Lake based Pentium Gold line up.  The Celeron also uses Gemini Lake but has been a low cost mobile Atom processor for a while now, so informed shoppers will get what they expected. 

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"There's not a vast amount of extra information about what we can expect from Ryzen 2, but we reckon the chipset will be more of an evolution in performance rather than a massive power hike to annoy people who bought a Ryzen CPU earlier this year."

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Source: The Inquirer

MechWarrior 5 Preview and Trailer from Mech_Con 2017

Subject: General Tech | December 10, 2017 - 07:14 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, Mechwarrior, mechwarrior 5

Last year, we covered the announcement of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. We noted that, because the game takes place in 3015, it would have a fairly-reduced equipment set compared to what we have seen in MechWarrior 3 and 4. Apparently that’s not entirely accurate, as a new batch of info has dropped during Mech_Con 2017 in Vancouver.

According to reports, like this one from Engadget, the game starts in 3015, but lasts about 35 in-game years.

But the game won’t really have a linear story, as seen in the previous entries. Rather than having the player run a scripted narrative, the intent is to let them build their own mercenary squad and do contracts for the Great Houses on their own terms (and with four-player co-op, although AI companions can be used if desired). I… don’t know how I feel about this. On the one hand, it could be an interesting, unique experience. On the other hand, I kind-of want a new, linear story in the Battletech universe.

Also, they mentioned that it will support user-created mods. Given that it's based on Unreal Engine 4, that should be a fairly large level of mod support. This will apparently include new missions, environments, and so forth.

It was also re-announced that MW5 will launch in 2018 – now more specifically: December.

Source: Engadget

The Khronos Group Releases SYCL 1.2.1

Subject: General Tech | December 10, 2017 - 06:51 PM |
Tagged: Khronos, SYCL, sycl 1.2, sycl 1.2.1, opencl 1.2, opencl

The specification for SYCL 1.2.1, which is based on OpenCL 1.2, has been finalized and released on the Khronos website. The describe it as a major update over the previous standard, SYCL 1.2, and it is. Since May 2015, when SYCL 1.2 was finalized, The Khronos Group added features from C++11, C++14, and C++17, including the ISO C++17 Parallel Standard Template Library (STL).

khronos-logo-sycl.png

In other words, you can create C++17 Parallel STL applications with SYCL 1.2.1, single-source, that are able to offload to OpenCL 1.2 devices.

Beyond that, the specification changes also help machine learning. The Khronos Group mentions that Google’s TensorFlow supports SYCL, bringing the framework to OpenCL devices. They want to continue updating the specification in this area, along with Safety Critical applications, such as automotive. They also want to keep updating the standard with ISO C++ features. In other words? SYCL is being adopted, and they intend ongoing support to match.

You can read the press release at their website.

AMD Partners With Qualcomm For Always Connected Ryzen Mobile PCs

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2017 - 04:27 PM |
Tagged: amd, qualcomm, LTE, ryzen mobile, wireless

On the opening day of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Tech Summit, the company brought AMD on stage and announced a partnership that would see AMD use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon LTE modems alongside Ryzen Mobile SoCs to enable always connected Windows devices.

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PC Perspective’s Ryan Shrout and Ken Addison attended the event and gleaned a few more details about the announcement. According to Ryan on the podcast, AMD plans to use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon LTE modems in Ryzen Mobile-powered laptops and tablets. While road warriors will be able to enjoy cellular connected AMD laptops, Ryan notes that these devices may not support the new “connected standby” standard where a Windows PC is able to keep the cellular connection and the PC in a very minimal power state to download notifications, emails, and other updates in the background while the PC is otherwise sleeping.

Reading this announcement piqued my interest though for the future of this partnership. While the first devices are likely to include the Qualcomm modem on the motherboard, in the future AMD may be allowed to integrate the modem into its mobile APUs which would help AMD to compete with Intel in this space. Qualcomm is a big player and could give AMD a strong and competitive wireless solution without AMD having to navigate the murky patent waters and huge R&D costs involved with coming up with its own in-house modems.

What are your thoughts on this Qualcomm and AMD partnership?

Also read:

Source: AMD

The Lenovo Explorer, bringing Clippy to VR

Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2017 - 04:11 PM |
Tagged: Windows Mixed Reality, lenovo explorer, Lenovo

Lenovo's Explorer is their Windows mixed reality headset, allowing you to interact with your Windows desktop and a variety of software and games available from the Microsoft Store.  SteamVR support is in beta, currently run through an app available from Microsoft and for the most part Overclockers Club did not encounter any serious issues when accessing SteamVR.  The controllers offer an advantage over the competitors, along with the usual buttons you find on motion controllers you will also find a Windows button as well as a joystick on each controller.  The kit starts at $399, which is not off putting compared to the competition, though Lenovo and Microsoft still have some work to do before the experience is as polished as SteamVR.

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"For a general-use headset, the software is not particularly convincing, but give the environment some time, and this will probably improve. For a gaming headset, I am more than satisfied because even with how much is still marked as 'Beta,' so much works, works well, and is fun. This has been a very enjoyable experience for me and I hope it is one many will come to share in the future."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Qt 5.10 and Qt 3D Studio Released

Subject: General Tech | December 7, 2017 - 09:59 PM |
Tagged: Qt

The latest version of Qt, 5.10, has released today. While many developers will likely stick on the 5.9 branch for long-term support, 5.10 brings several flashy features to the C++ framework.

The headline: Qt 3D Studio is, also, now released.

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Last year, NVIDIA donated their DRIVE Design Studio to The Qt Company so developers, both commercial and open-source, can use a WYSIWYG editor for 3D UI design. I have not had a chance to play around with it yet, but it looks a little bit like a Flash Professional-style authoring tool that outputs a 3D UI. One downside, however, is that it looks like the runtime is not licensed under LGPL, but rather GPL or Commercial. This seems like it cannot be used with commercial software unless you purchase the license, although I could be reading that wrong. (GPL-compliant open-source software is fine, though.)

The rest of the update is interesting, too. One noteworthy feature is Qt WebGL QPA. The Qt Company showed it off on a smart TV web browser, but it could provide a new way to look at the native vs web argument. They also made a bunch of changes to Qt 3D and the other modules.

If you’re interested, check out their blog post. I should note that the Qt website is kind-of difficult to navigate – they really want to sell you a license – but the open-source stuff is in there, too.