Unreal Engine 4.20 Released. YOLO!

Subject: General Tech | July 18, 2018 - 08:13 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, epic, ue4, swag

Okay so I only had one shot at that joke… and I’ma gonna take it.

Epic Games has just pushed their 21st release of Unreal Engine 4 since it launched to the public back in March 2014. A lot has changed since then… including one feature that has been lurking pretty much since the beginning: Niagara, the new visual effects editor, is finally available in Early Access!

When I say it is near the beginning – I mean it. Here’s a forum post from about four-and-a-half months after 4.0 launched where some users dug it up with some INI-file changes. The idea is that it will replace Cascade, which has been hanging around since Unreal Engine 3, as the default particle and effects editor. It’s a bit more than I can go into in a news post, but you will want to check out Epic’s GDC 2018 talk to see a ~45-minute demo of the new module. Basically, it’s a visual scripting system for the particle effects, but that doesn’t really explain it too well.

Another major upgrade is that Unreal Engine 4.20 finally uses the C++ compiler that is available in Visual Studio 2017. Previously, to use Visual Studio 2017, users would need to build with the 2015 toolchain. Support for C++ and its standard library is pretty good in Visual Studio 2015 but being able to use the latest features if you want to is always a plus.

Also, Epic is now pushing some of their development branches to GitHub. This allows you to keep up with a specific branch of features, especially if you are the type of studio that maintains their own engine fork and wants to cherry pick certain commits.

As always, Unreal Engine 4 is free to download and use. Royalties do apply for most works created with the engine, based on a small percentage of revenue, but the engine, itself, is free.

Source: Epic Games

Try the new Type-A Negative Aliens: Colonial Marines

Subject: General Tech | July 18, 2018 - 03:44 PM |
Tagged: oops, gaming, Aliens: Colonial Marines

When Aliens: Colonial Marines arrived for sale five years ago many fans were excited to see a new game set in this universe, especially considering the majority of the previous games were quite good.  Unfortunately the release did not live up to the hype, even Metacritic hated it which is an achievement unto itself.  The games graphics and content was so bad compared to the pre-release footage Sega eventually agreed to pay out a settlement of $1.25 million to end a class action suit launched by those poor unfortunates who purchased the game.

It has just been discovered that a single typo in an .ini file was to blame for the wonderful footage of Xenomorphs wandering harmlessly by, as the AI was more or less an AAI.  If you can bring yourself to stare at the sub-par graphics, even for 2013, the game will now feature enemies you might actually be concerned about if you delete a single 'a'.

"The improvement is immediately recognisable in your first encounters with the Xenos. While they still charge you perched on their hind legs, they now crawl far more often, flank you using vents and holes in the environment and are generally far more engaged and aggressive. Five years after release, a single letter managed to overhaul the entirety of the enemy AI behaviour in the game."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

You will drink the clown vomit! Skype 8 becomes mandatory in September

Subject: General Tech | July 18, 2018 - 01:30 PM |
Tagged: skype, microsoft

If you have been hitting cancel on that pop up inviting you to try the latest version of Skype every time you launch it then there is a bit of bad news.  You have about a month and a half before you either finally accept the upgrade or stop using Skype as Microsoft have announced that after September 1st only Skype 8.xx will be able to connect to their network.  The new design leaves something to be desired and this may mean the final end to a variety of features and workarounds many users have depended on in previous versions of Skype.  It could even manage to make setting up the podcast even harder; tune in tonight as we test it out.

skype-screenshot-01.png

"We are encouraging everyone to upgrade now to avoid any inconvenience as only Skype version 8.0 will work after September 1, 2018. As we roll out improvements, there comes a time when we must shut down older services and application versions."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Microsoft

Windows 10 makes it out of the Terrible Twos ... hopefully skipping the Me! stage

Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2018 - 04:26 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, anniversary

It seems hard to believe but it is true, but Sunday July 29th marks the third year of Windows 10 being on the market.  The launch was unique, Microsoft decided to offer their new operating system for free to anyone running a valid copy of Windows 7 or 8.x; which you can still take advantage of if you so need.  The launch did not go perfectly and Microsoft's goal of having the device installed on 1 billion devices still has not been reached, though this year saw Win10 finally surpass Win7 in total market share.  The major updates have been somewhat problematic but it is safe to say that Windows 10 has improved somewhat since release; even enterprises are starting to consider adoption.

For more on the checkered past of Microsoft's latest OS, check out the Register.

StatCounter-windows_version-ww-monthly-201706-201806.png

"Coming six years after the release of the beloved Windows 7, Windows 10 had a lot to live up to. Once the name got locked down – for a while it was referred to variously as "Windows 9", "Windows Next", "Threshold" and "Oh God, Make The Pain Stop" (at least as far this user was concerned.)"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

EVGA’s 19th Anniversary Event – More than $80,000 in Prizes!

Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2018 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: winner, contest, prizes, giveaway, evga

Do you like winning computer components and playing games?  If so then EVGA has an announcement for you!  They are hosting five contests, all of which give you a chance to win products from an impressively long list of suppliers, with a total of $80,000 in prizes to win.  The three top winners will receive $5000 in EVGA bucks. 

19th_anniv.jpg

There is a Scavenger Hunt to find 10 hidden badges on the EVGA website, a Social Media which just needs you to like, follow subscribe, and all of the usual things.  The Retro Wave Gaming is being hosted on the EVGA servers with Battlefield 4 Soldier Name, Killing Floor 2, and Rising Storm 2: Vietnam games running.  For the artists there is a NVIDIA Ansel Event as well as YouTube Commercial Event in which you submit your own EVGA commercial of 30 seconds or less.   You don't have to enter them all, but the more contests you join the more chances to win.

July 16th, 2018 - It's EVGA's 19th Anniversary and this time we are going far out! We know our community is awesome and here's your chance to show us how radical you can be. We have 5 events this year that really push it to the limit to win some totally excellent prizes from EVGA and our Sponsors!

The Events:

Scavenger Hunt - Do you think you have what it takes to find 10 hidden badges on our website? The hunt is on, and the prizes are totally outrageous!

Social Media Event - Follow, like, subscribe, view and refer your friends. The more you like and follow, the more chances to win! RAD!

Gaming Event - Your mission should you choose to accept it; gather your allys and join in glorious combat! Join in the EVGA 19th Anniversary Retro Wave Gaming event on the EVGA servers. The more you play, the greater the rewards!

Nvidia Ansel Event - Nvidia Ansel is the best way to take far out in-game photography. We want to see your most righteous NVIDIA Ansel screenshots!

YouTube Commercial Event - Lights, Camera, Action! Create a 30 seconds (or less) commercial featuring EVGA for a chance to win some great prizes from EVGA and our Anniversary Sponsors!

With tons of excellent sponsors and prizes to be won, you won't want to miss out! Don't hesitate, come celebrate with EVGA! Learn more about the 19th Anniversary Event and enter here: https://www.evga.com/19/

 

Source: EVGA

Redmond phone home

Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2018 - 03:04 PM |
Tagged: Project Andromeda, surface phone, microsoft

If there is one thing you can count on from a Microsoft designed phone, it is confusion and today that has not changed one bit.  There are two conflicting stories, one from the second most Surface phone obsessed human on the planet and one from the head of the Microsoft Surface division.  At The Inquirer, we hear from Brad Sams who interprets comments from Paul Thurrott about Project Andromeda as signalling a delay in the release of the device as it goes back to the design stage.  Their sources feel Microsoft is still actively involved in the design of a phablet of some sort.

The head of Microsoft's Surface division Panos Panay on the other hand, stated there is no push to design a Surface phone, though new form factors are being currently designed.  This is not a direct contradiction, as a tablet optimized for use as a phone that does not bear the name Surface Phone could still be in the works, with no Lumia or Nokia branding.  He did confirm they are continuing work on the other Andromeda, the foldable, dual screen device which we have seen prototypes of. 

Either way, for the next year or so we can be sure we will not have to suffer the existance of a new Surface phone.

lumia1020all.jpg

"Microsoft's Surface head Panos Panay confirmed that the company is working on new form factors. When questioned about whether this would include a new Surface Phone, Panay stated that the Surface Phone was not one that they are thinking about at this time. "I wouldn't say that it includes a Surface Phone," Panos answered in the interview. "I think you have to think about where is that unmet need when you're thinking about your product road-map," he replied."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

The PC industry is still dead; ignore the sales figures suggesting otherwise!

Subject: General Tech | July 13, 2018 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: pc sales, surprise

For the first time since 2012, both IDC and Gartner agree the market for plug and play PCs are up, with a growth of 2.7%.  As there has not been any huge releases in these past two quarters to drive PC sales, this number is more impressive than it might seem at first glance.  Some of this growth was created from corporate machines being upgraded but not all.  The news is good for those who build and sell PCs; as well as for the enthusiasts as stock of current and past generation parts are used up in these machines.  You can see what the beancounters said over at The Inquirer.

0931874133b185cf70dbb8b0809a5a2a--throwback-thursday-vintage-retro.jpg

"This was apparently demonstrated by a solid year-on-year growth of 2.7 per cent and exceeded IDC's forecast of 0.3 per cent growth, marking the strongest year-on-year growth rate in more than six years, when the first quarter of 2012 posted growth of 4.2 per cent"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Podcast #506 - HTC VIVE Pro, Ryzen V1000, and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 12, 2018 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: podcast, vive pro, V1000, team group, Surface Go, sennheiser, seasonic, SD 7.0, sapphire, ryzen, rx vega, microsoft, m3b, hyperx, htc, gsp 600, flexispot, biostar, 5x5, video

PC Perspective Podcast #506 - 07/12/18

Join us this week for discussion on HTC VIVE Pro, Ryzen V1000, 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: 1:17:23

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Picks of the Week:
    1. 0:58:15 Ryan: Mario Tennis Aces
    2. 1:00:20 Jeremy: Peak RGB, car underglow coming back next obviously
    3. 1:05:00 Allyn: Mobile Passport / Keep a spare capacitor for your HVAC (Turbo 200)
  4. Closing/outro
 
 
Source:

Spectre doesn't stand a ghost of a chance on the new Chrome, nor will your available RAM

Subject: General Tech | July 12, 2018 - 02:10 PM |
Tagged: chrome, security, spectre

Chrome's predilection for gobbling up vast amounts of RAM will soon increase to new levels but it is for a very good reason.  Chrome 67 will offer a Site Isolation feature which will protect you against a variety of Spectre attacks.   When you have this feature enabled in Chrome each site would be isolated, with the a single renderer process per page.  This means coss-site iframes and pop-ups will be unable to read data from other pages; in fact a single site may spawn multiple render processes, each running in isolation.

There is of course a cost, The Inquirer was quoted an increase of 10-13% in RAM usage ... so better get a 128GB kit.

d3aql.png

"The new feature basically splits the render process into separate tasks using out-of-process iframes, which makes it difficult for speculative execution exploits like Spectre to snoop on data."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

The Crew 2 in 4K

Subject: General Tech | July 11, 2018 - 03:54 PM |
Tagged: gaming, the crew 2, consolitis

If there is one saving grace for The Crew 2's 60fps limit, it is that even the mighty GTX 1080 Ti cannot maintain 60fps at 4k with all the bells and whistles turned on.  When [H]ard|OCP disabled the custom Contact Hardening Soft Shadows and dropped from SSAO+ to SSAO the Ti could provide good performance but the plain GTX 1080 and Vega 64 required the settings be dropped to medium.  At 1440p and below even the GTX 1070 and Vega 56 could handle Ultra settings.

That said, the word from [H] is that this game doesn't look as good as the original, even at 4k, as they expand on in their full review.

image.jpg

"We take The Crew 2 and evaluate ten of today’s latest GPUs in the game. We will find what the highest playable settings are, how video cards compare, and how specific graphics features compare in performance. We will find the best value for gaming, and what graphics settings work best. Is this game worth it, or a graphical flop?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Thou shalt not have unapproved fun on thy Nintendo Switch

Subject: General Tech | July 11, 2018 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, hack

If you are looking at picking up a Nintendo Swich for the purpose of installing a boot loader so you can play with the NVIDIA Tegra inside you might want to look for a used model.  Nintendo have patched the ROM on new devices to block USB recovery mode overflow errors and coldboot exploits such as Fusée Gelée, preventing you from unapproved entertainment.  Ars Technica offers details on the software versions which will prevent loading your own code, as well as the theory that the new Mariko Tegra may be preventing this at a hardware level in the newest devices.

900x.jpg

"These boot-ROM iPatches are relatively simple for Nintendo to implement in the factory when the system is manufactured, but they are impossible to load onto the tens of millions of Switch units that had already been sold before the exploit was made public."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Ars Technica

Unity 2018.2 Released

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2018 - 10:35 PM |
Tagged: Unity, pc gaming

The second Unity update of 2018 has been published to their website today. This version continues their work on Scriptable Render Pipelines, including their own Lightweight Render Pipeline (LWRP) and High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP) implementations. Both are still considered a preview, but the aim is to replace the standard shader with two optimized graphics pipelines, one tuned for performance (mobile, VR, and extra performance on higher-end devices) and one tuned for high-end effects (multiple aligned transparent objects, reflections, etc.).

unity-2018-2018.1_image31.jpg

This splits Unity’s customer base from “one-size-fits-all-sort-of” to two sizes, although developers can also create their own scriptable render pipeline. This will let them tune the graphics pipeline to whatever their game is, although it seems to mean that they will need to make a lot of their own graphics technologies if they do. (This seems clearly targeted at mid- to large-sized studios, but that’s just my opinion.) Of course, they can also continue to use the standard shader, but some Unity talks has already suggested that not all new features will come to the old pipeline.

2018.2 also continues development of the C# Job System, ECS design pattern, and their Burst compiler. A separate announcement was made about the Burst compiler – that it is now available as an official preview package.

Source: Unity

Boron arsenide; cool as diamonds but somewhat less expensive

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2018 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: Boron arsenide, nifty

Thermal interface material boffins will expound the benefits of using diamond to improve the thermal conductivity of pastes and would go so far as to suggest they should be included in chip design as a way to move heat around.  They are not wrong, as diamond does offer the best thermal conductivity but it has some drawbacks; namely the price of the high quality crystal required to cool effectively.  Flaws in the diamond will prevent heat being conducted efficiently and strangely the less flaws the more expensive the diamond.

Researchers have come up with a new way to create boron arsenide crystals and have found that the thermal conductivity of these crystals approaches that of diamond and could theoretically cost significantly less.  The conductivity of the crystals they have fabricated are roughly twice that of the copper or silicon carbide commonly used now.  Even more interesting is that it is a semiconductor with a bandgap comparable to silicon, around 1.5 eV as well as having comparable thermal expansion coefficients. 

Perhaps this material might see us being to consider larger 3D wafer designs?  Check out more at Physics World.

174907_web.jpg

"Researchers predicted that BAs should have a theoretical thermal conductivity as high as that of diamond (2200 W/m/K), which is the best heat conductor known, back in 2013. However, to reach this high value, high quality crystals are needed since defects and impurities dramatically degrade thermal properties."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Next up in rejected supervillans; the Cougar Revenger who can push mice to 2 KHz and beyond

Subject: General Tech | July 9, 2018 - 05:12 PM |
Tagged: Cougar, Revenger S, gaming mouse, PMW3360, input

Cougar have done some interesting things behind the scenes with their new Revenger S mouse, which can be set to a reporting rate of 2 KHz, doubling USB's 1 KHz polling rate.  This is quite the trick, as without modifying how your motherboard's USB works the polling rate will remain at 1KHz.  Cougar's mouse reports twice every millisecond, however it is not spaced out as you might expect, instead the mouse seems to report at 900μs and 100μs with a packet of 64 bytes, as opposed to 8 bytes.  The Tech Report delve into the technology in their review as well as offering insight into the difference in use with the mouse at 1K and at 2K report rates; check it for yourself here.

mousetop.jpg

"Cougar's Revenger S gaming mouse has a top-shelf Pixart PMW3360 optical sensor with a twist: a claimed 2-KHz polling rate for lower latency in critical moments. We dug in to see just how Cougar achieved this unusual figure and what it means for the gaming experience."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Classical music, revisiting Logitech's Artemis Spectrum G933

Subject: General Tech | July 9, 2018 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: logitech, Artemis Spectrum G933, wireless headset, audio

As [H]ard|OCP is quick to point out, the Artemis Spectrum G933 is not new to the market, but has seen improvements since its release.  The issues some users experienced when using it with a USB connection are gone and it now supports Frag Harder Disco Lights instead of just the original RGB software for those whom this interests.  For around $100 it is less expensive than higher end wireless devices, with the expected effect on audio quality.   That said, there are many for whom audiophile quality is lost on, either because of the use the headphones are put to or perhaps a few too many concerts in their past.  If you are shopping for a just good enough headset that offers wired and wireless connectivity you should take a peek.

1530230437fi1lq4r8g4_1_5_l.jpg

"In our recent discussions about wireless headsets, the Logitech G933 has come up lately as one of the headsets to surely be on your $100 short list. So we bought a set, and have done a good bit gaming, movie watching, and music listening this past week and have a good hold on what the G933 is all about. "

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Just a cut-power Ryzen in a low-budget land

Subject: General Tech | July 9, 2018 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: ryzen, ryzen 5 2600E, ryzen 7 2700E

Two of AMD's lower power Ryzen models have appeared online, with specifications, a wee bit before expected.  The 2600E and 2700E bear many of the same specifics as their higher powered brethren, with significantly reduced TDP of 45W which results in lower base frequencies.   The Ryzen 5 2600E will still sport six cores and 12 threads but the base frequency is 0.5GHz lower than the 2600X at 3.1GHz while the Ryzen 7 2700E's eight cores and 16 threads drop 1.1GHz to a base 2.8GHz.  Sadly the rumours did not reveal details about the boost clock, so for now that remains pure speculation.

The Inquirer has posted links to the leak as well as talk about EPYC.

869567-830815-800.jpg

"DETAILS OF AMD's incoming Ryzen 5 2600E and Ryzen 7 2700E CPUs have unsurprisingly surfaced online, confirming that the low-power chips will take on Intel's Core 'T' series of microprocessors."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Mozilla, Opera, and Google Pull Malicious Extension

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2018 - 09:12 PM |
Tagged: Opera, mozilla, google, firefox, chrome

I don’t think this should surprise anyone, but it’s good to report on none-the-less. There was a popular browser extension, called Stylish, that allowed users to customize the pages that they visit, and share those customizations with their friends. It’s a cool concept, but it was later sold to another company. That new owner changed the extension to monitor its users.

Mozilla, Opera, and Google slapped it across the jaw with a banhammer.

valve-nope.jpg

If you go to Mozilla’s Firefox Add-ons site, Opera's Add-ons site, or Google’s Chrome Web Store, you will get a 404. If you already installed the extension, it will be removed from your browser. As such, you probably don’t need to worry about it, because the browser vendors went DEFCON 1 on it.

But just in case you haven’t yet got the kill signal (because you’re behind a limited VPN or something) be sure to remove “Stylish” from your browser.

This also raises the point about curated app stores: review isn't perfect. Sometimes malicious software can go unnoticed for years. It's best not to get too complacent.

Source: Sophos

Well, my temperature is Ryzen, got my cores up to four

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2018 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: ryzen 5 2500X, amd, rumour, Ryzen 3 2300X

Friday often brings rumours and this one is no different, with purported benchmarks of the unreleased Ryzen 5 2500X.  The chip, if it is indeed valid, will have four cores with eight threads unlike a certain competitors soon to be released refresh and will clock between 3.6-4GHz with 4.3GHz reachable through XFR.  There could also be a four core, four thread Ryzen 3 2300X in the works with a frequency range of 3.5-4GHz.  Pricing should be rather attractive for many, the 2500X should be around $250 and the 2300X about half of that.  There were more overclocking results, which you can check out over at The Inquirer.

309028.jpg

"This week, Hong Kong site XFastest got its mitts on a fresh and so-far-unannounced version of the chip, the Ryzen 5 2500X. According to the site, the incoming processor is a four-core, eight-thread chip, and features a 3.6GHz base clock with a 4.0GHz boost clock."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Driver IRQL not less or equal, please schedule a patch at your local car dealership

Subject: General Tech | July 5, 2018 - 01:15 PM |
Tagged: security

Chris Roberts, who's claims to fame include taking over the thrust control of an airplane via the in flight entertainment system, spoke at length about the lack of security on less expensive vehicles.  With the electronics of cars and trucks becoming more and more complex and interactive, new threats are appearing almost daily and almost nothing is being done about it.  Car manufacturers will need to set up a method to update the software running on their vehicles, especially considering the fact that current laws make it illegal for owners to install patches on their own. 

The terrifying part is that he told The Register that the automobile industry is far ahead of all other transportation industries; apart from Tesla, the last newsworthy software update involved fudged emissions, not security enhancements.

140602132450-car-software-1024x576.jpg

"I put a network sniffer on the big truck to see what it was sharing. Holy crap! The GPS, the telemetry, the tracking. There's a lot of data this thing is sharing."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

2 Crew 2 console

Subject: General Tech | July 4, 2018 - 04:58 PM |
Tagged: gaming, consolitis, the crew 2

The Crew 2 allows you to drive through their open world at two speeds, 30FPS or 60FPS with no way to speed that up ... yet.  Thankfully this consolitis has not infected the resolution, with 4k playable on a GTX 1080 Ti or if you are in 1440p a Vega 56 or GTX 1070 will let you redline all the graphical bells and whistles.  The graphics settings do make this game quite pretty, with some caveats that [H]ard|OCP describes in their conclusions.   The inherited technical deficiencies aside, the ability to drive around the continental USA means there is a bit more to this game than they have been able to discover in the limited time they had. 

If this is your kind of game, grab a steering wheel and fire it up. 

15301199820j1tk6016l_6_1_l.png

"We’ve got early access to The Crew 2 thanks to the Gold Edition, a brand new open-world racing game for the PC. Let’s find out how The Crew 2 performs on today’s GPUs in this preview. We also look at graphics settings and hit a little on Image Quality. Hopefully we will have some insight as we know a lot of readers have been waiting for this game."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP