Cyanogen Shuts Down

Subject: Mobile | December 26, 2016 - 07:39 PM |
Tagged: cyanogen, Android

Seemingly out of nowhere, Cyanogen, an alternative distribution of Android, begun laying off its employees last month, shutting down their Seattle office with the option to relocate to Palo Alto. At the same time, the founder, Steve Kondik, left the company. Then, on the last business day before Christmas Eve, they announced that “all services and Cyanogen-supported nightly builds will be discontinued no later than 12/31/16”.

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At this point, I don’t really know what’s left of the company, which makes me wonder, if anyone did relocate from Washington State to California, whether they will still have a job there. The project will continue on as an independent, open-source operating system, called Lineage OS. As far as I can tell, the company doesn’t actually do anything else, so I can’t really see what they would restructure into. I'm guessing it's just done.

Source: Cyanogen

High frequency RAM on Kaby Lake

Subject: Memory | December 23, 2016 - 06:26 PM |
Tagged: Vengeance LPX, kaby lake, Intel, DDR4-3600, corsair, core i7 7700k

[H]ard|OCP had a chance to try out Corsair's upcoming Vengeance LPX 3600MHz DDR4 on a Kaby Lake based system.  The XMP settings for this DDR4 were 3600MHz with timings @ 18-19-19-39-2T and the system booted with no problems at these defaults, an improvement from some scenarios with Skylake based systems.  Running Prime95 for over a day posed no problem for the system, however Memtest86 did until the RAM voltage was bumped up to 1.41v from the default 1.36v at which point it could pass the tests with no problems.  This shows some promise for overclocking addicts planning on upgrading to the refreshed Intel chip.

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"We were lucky enough to get our hands on a new set of Corsair Vengeance LPX 3600MHz RAM this week and we immediately put it work with the new Intel Kaby Lake Core i7-7700K processor that is to be launched next month."

Here are some more Memory articles from around the web:

Memory

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Microsoft finally reaches step 1; admission

Subject: General Tech | December 23, 2016 - 05:54 PM |
Tagged: windows, microsoft, windows 10

Chris Capossela, Chief Marketing Officer at Microsoft, was on Windows Weekly recently and admitted, for the first time, that Microsoft may have gone a bit too far during their "Get Windows 10" extravaganza.  This shocking revelation supposedly occurred a short while after they released the version in which the red X in the popup window broke with their GUI's standard and no longer closed the window and cancelled the installation.  According to Slashdot this is the first time Microsoft have admitted to the use of excessive rendition techniques on Windows 7 and 8 users.

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"It's no secret that Microsoft has been aggressively pushing Windows 10 to users. Over the past year and a half, we have seen users complain about Windows 10 automatically getting downloaded to their computer, and in some cases, getting installed on its own as well. The automatic download irked many users who were on limited or slow data plans, or didn't want to spend gigabytes of data on Windows 10."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

Ben Heck Show Virtual Boy Mod Complete

Subject: General Tech | December 23, 2016 - 07:12 AM |
Tagged: virtual boy, Nintendo

A few weeks ago, The Ben Heck Show tore down and repaired a Virtual Boy, with plans on making it smaller and head-mounted in a future episode. While I am a couple weeks late on sharing the second video, Ben Heck and Karen Corbeill have completed their mod, and the device is now attached to a face shield mount. They call the new device “Virtual Man”, which of course they did.

One of the best parts about The Ben Heck Show (and other DIY video worklogs) is the tricks that you’ll see. In this case, Ben Heck explains how a typical scanner can be used to get fairly accurate 2D measurements of devices, because the image is formatted in inches. (He still verifies with a caliper, though, especially since they can have slight distortion on one axis.) This could be quite useful, especially if I end up doing more animations like my Cherry MX switches.

UploadVR Tries Wireless Vive Accessory by TPCAST

Subject: General Tech | December 23, 2016 - 03:33 AM |
Tagged: VR, vive, pc gaming, htc

A little over a month ago, we reported on HTC’s announcement of the wireless upgrade kit for their Vive. It was created by TPCAST, which was a participant in HTC’s VR startup accelerator. The actual upgrade kits won’t ship until early 2017, but UploadVR was given some time with the wireless accessory. The video was shot in the UploadVR office, which makes this the first public usage outside of a controlled event as far as I am aware, but TPCAST was present.

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Image Credit: UploadVR

It apparently works. The previewer didn’t have any real complaints about its performance versus wired, and they were satisfied with its tracking, despite doing flips and other maneuvers to try to break communication with the wireless bases. This is promising, as the 60 GHz signal, used by the wireless adapter, can be picky about anything except direct line-of-sight. That said, the video base station is designed to be placed on the ceiling, with a 160-degree FOV, so it shouldn’t be too obstructed in almost any scenario.

According to UploadVR, TPCAST claims that it adds less than 2ms of delay.

While we are on this topic, there have been rumors that HTC might announce (probably just announce) a replacement to the original VIVE unit. One possibility is that it is basically the same system, just with the wireless functionality built in, making this upgrade kit sufficient for first-generation adopters. That would probably be the only scenario, at least that I can think of, which doesn’t involve a bunch of angry 2016 buyers, though.

We’ll see when CES rolls around.

Source: UploadVR

Unity 5.6 Beta Supports Vulkan API

Subject: General Tech | December 22, 2016 - 11:54 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, Unity, vulkan

One of the most popular video game engines, Unity, has released a beta for Unity 5.6, which will be the last version of Unity 5.x. This release pushes Vulkan into full support on both desktop and mobile, which actually beats Unreal Engine 4 on the desktop side of things. Specifically, Vulkan is available for the Android, Windows, Linux, and Tizen operating systems. Apple users should be happy that this version also updates Metal for iOS and macOS, but Apple is still preventing vendors from shipping Vulkan drivers so you really shouldn’t feel too happy.

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At Unity’s Unity 2016 keynote, the company claimed about 30-60% better performance on the new API “out-of-the-box”. I do find this statement slightly odd, though, because Unity doesn’t really provide much access to “the box” without expensive source code up-sells. The most user involvement of the engine internals, for what I would assume is the majority of projects, is buying and activating a plug-in, and Vulkan would be kind-of crappy to hide behind a pay wall.

I mentioned that this will be the last Unity 5.x version. While the difference between a major and a minor version number tends to be just marketing these days, Unity is changing their major version to align with the year that it belongs to. Expect future versions, starting with a beta version in April, to be numbered 2017.x.

Unity 5.6 comes out of beta in March.

Source: Unity

Phison Announces UFS 2.1 NAND Controller - Death to eMMC!

Subject: Storage | December 22, 2016 - 09:03 PM |
Tagged: UFS 2.1, UFS, PS8313, PS8311, phison, nand, flash, controller

Following up on Micron's UFS 2.1 announcement, Phison has announced the launch of their own PS8311 UFS 2.1 controller:

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For those unaware, UFS 2.1 is a much-anticipated replacement for eMMC, which is the equivalent of trying to run your laptop OS off of an SD Card. Fortunately, eMMC only appears in budget systems, but the transition to UFS 2.1 should bring the storage performance bar up considerably in those systems.

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UFS Architecture Overview. Source: JEDEC

Devices following the Universal Flash Storage standard will enable less protocol overhead and more direct communication with the flash.

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Looking at an older roadmap, we see Phison was relatively on target with the PS8311, with a faster PS8313 scheduled for later in 2017.

Press blast after the break.

Source: Phison

Enderel, the total Skyrim conversion, is to get an expansion

Subject: General Tech | December 22, 2016 - 06:53 PM |
Tagged: skyrim, Enderal, mod. expansion, gaming

If you have yet to try out the total conversion mod for Skyrim, Enderal: The Shards of Order you are missing out.  A world not quite as large as Skyrim but every bit as beautiful and full of lore is yours for free, all you need is Skyrim.  The skill trees are very different, paths are unlocked by meditation after levelling and they have added new balance to the game to prevent you from becoming easily overpowered by wandering around and bashing low level monsters.  In order to increase main skills like One Handed Weapons or secondary skills like Lockpicking, you need to purchase a training book in order to use the points gained from levelling, and they become very expensive.

Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN have been informed that the lead writer of Enderal, Nicolas Samuel and a few helpers, will be creating an expansion to the game, adding new quests and subplots.  Check out the mood trailer below.

"SureAI’s huge Skyrim total conversion Enderal: The Shards of Order [official site], which builds a whole new game upon Bethesda’s foundations, is getting an expansion of its own in 2017."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Learn about the tech in Vive's Lighthouse

Subject: General Tech | December 22, 2016 - 05:58 PM |
Tagged: vive, valve, Lighthouse, alan yates

Curious about the tech behind Valve's Lighthouse room-scale VR positioning system for the HTC Vive?  Learn about it from Alan Yates, one of the leads on the project at Valve over at Hack a Day in a 40 minute video.  He discusses the various attempts at finding a way to make the positioning system work, from failed bearings to the eventual discovery of the optimal thickness for the mirror. If you can't wait for the second generation of Lighthouse, he also provides you with a way to get your hands on an ASIC on a breakout board which will help you build your own version.

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"[Alan Yates] is a hacker’s engineer. His job at Valve has been to help them figure out the hardware that makes virtual reality (VR) a real reality. And he invented a device that’s clever enough that it really should work, but difficult enough that it wasn’t straightforward how to make it work."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Hack a Day

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 376.48 Hotfix Drivers

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 22, 2016 - 12:01 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

The latest hotfix drivers from NVIDIA, 376.48, address five issues, some of which were long-standing complaints. The headlining bug is apparently a workaround for an issue in Folding@Home, until the application patches the root issue on its end. Prior to this, users needed to stick on 373.06 in order to successfully complete a Folding@Home run, avoiding all drivers since mid-October.

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Other fixes include rendering artifacts in Just Cause 3, flickering and crashes in Battlefield 1, and rendering issues in Wargame: Red Dragon. These drivers, like all hotfix drivers, will not be pushed by GeForce Experience. You will need to download them from NVIDIA’s support page.

Source: NVIDIA

Crytek Closing Multiple Studios in Downsizing Restructure

Subject: General Tech | December 20, 2016 - 09:58 PM |
Tagged: crytek

While they developed very interesting technology and franchises, Crytek has been struggling with finances over the last few years. Until today, the software developer has been operating out of seven studios throughout Europe and Asia. Today, they announced that five of these (Budapest, Hungary; Sofia, Bulgaria; Seoul, South Korea; Shanghai, China; and Istanbul, Turkey) will shut down, leaving Frankfurt, Germany and Kiev, Ukraine as the only two up and running.

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The press release includes a quote from the co-founder, Avni Yerli, that I found interesting:

Undergoing such transitions is far from easy, and we’d like to sincerely thank each and every staff member – past and present – for their hard work and commitment to Crytek. These changes are part of the essential steps we are taking to ensure Crytek is a healthy and sustainable business moving forward that can continue to attract and nurture our industry’s top talent. The reasons for this have been communicated internally along the way. Our focus now lies entirely on the core strengths that have always defined Crytek – world-class developers, state-of-the-art technology and innovative game development, and we believe that going through this challenging process will make us a more agile, viable, and attractive studio, primed for future success.

Specifically, the “attractive” adjective assigned to his studio. I can think of two reasons why this word would be used, each with very different connotations. It’s possible that this words is used to reassure talented engineers that would, if it wasn’t for these concerns, consider working at the company. It’s also possible that they are trying to telegraph to the world that they are interested in being acquired.

Still, this is definitely a tough time for many employees and former-employees of Crytek. I don't want to layer too much analysis over this.

Source: Crytek

AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson ReLive 16.12.2

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 20, 2016 - 07:41 PM |
Tagged: graphics drivers, amd

Last week, AMD came down to the PC Perspective offices to show off their new graphics drivers, which introduced optional game capture software (and it doesn’t require a login to operate). This week, they are publishing a new version of it, Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition 16.12.2, which fixes a huge list of issues.

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While most of these problem were minor, the headlining fix could have been annoying for FreeSync users (until this update fixed it, of course). It turns out that, when using FreeSync with a borderless fullscreen application, and another monitor has an active window, such as a video in YouTube, the user would experience performance issues in the FreeSync application (unless all of these other windows were minimized). This sounds like a lot of steps, but you could imagine how many people have a YouTube or Twitch stream running while playing a semi-casual game. Also, those types of games lend themselves well to being run in borderless window mode, too, so you can easily alt-tab to the other monitors, exacerbating the issue. Regardless, it’s fixed now.

Other fixed issues involve mouse pointer corruption with an RX 480 and multi-GPU issues in Battlefield 1. You can download them at AMD's website.

Source: AMD

Roccat's Suora mechanical keyboard, dressed up for a rave

Subject: General Tech | December 20, 2016 - 06:45 PM |
Tagged: input, suora fx, mechanical keyboard, roccat, RGB, cherry mx blue

The Suora FX matches the original Roccat Suora design, only thoroughly infected with RGB disease.  The keyboard sent to Benchmark Reviews sported Cherry MX Blue switches, with the obvious addition of LED lights underneath the keys.  They found the Swarm Gaming software which comes with the keyboard to let you program lighting effects and macros to be somewhat simpler in design that the competitions.  This could be a good thing if you are not looking to program intricate lighting effects, but might disappoint those that plan to.  Drop by for the full review here.

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"Without sacrificing functionality, the Suora FX maintains the same frameless design seen on its predecessor, the original Suora. This keyboard does not have any of the extra gimmicky bells and whistles seen on other mechanical gaming keyboards. Instead, the Suora FX gets directly down to the point to provide the user with functionality without compromising gaming performance."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Hack inflight entertainment crashes planes! Ya, not so much ya nutter

Subject: General Tech | December 20, 2016 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: security, fud

You will probably see a headline picked up from the Telegraph warning of how hackers can use the in-flight entertainment systems to cause planes to crash; please ignore it.  Pilots do not generally log into a secret part of the interface on your setback screen to control the airplane, they have a separate system which is not about to be overridden by someone screwing with that system.  On the other hand they could force everyone to watch a Rob Schneider movie, which might be worse.  The Inquirer also suggests playing with cabin lighting or broadcasting fake announcements, as annoying as the teenager chatting away on the phone next to you or the child screaming in the background.  There were some reasonable suggestions in the article, which you can see here.

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"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THIS IS YOUR PILOT SPEAKING. It turns out that hackers may be able to fiddle with the in-flight entertainment system on board and take control of the plane."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Podcast #430 - Holiday Special

Subject: Editorial | December 20, 2016 - 05:52 PM |
Tagged: robot chef, racing chairs, podcast, personal aerial drone, logitech G810, littlebits, htc vive, hololens, holiday, drobo, 3d printer

PC Perspective Podcast #430 - 12/20/16

Join us this week as we discuss holiday gift selections 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, David Hewlett

Program length: 1:36:05

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Gift Selections
    1. 0:02:19 David - Robot Kitchen
    2. 0:09:13 Ryan - Random Hardware
    3. 0:10:28 Group Discussion - Storage, Backups, Joysticks
    4. 0:12:48 Ryan - SimpliSafe Security System
    5. 0:19:50 Jeremy - LittleBits
    6. 0:26:30 Allyn - SSDs!!!!
    7. 0:33:37 Josh - Racing Chair
    8. 0:39:43 David - Personal Aerial Drone
    9. 0:45:02 Ryan - IR Thermometer
    10. 0:49:09 Allyn - Dromida Ominus
    11. 0:53:00 Jeremy - Victorinox CyberTool M
    12. 0:58:10 Josh - Logitech RGB G810
    13. 1:00:00 Ken - Monoprice Maker Select Mini 3D Printer
    14. 1:05:26 Ryan - HTC Vive
    15. 1:14:08 David - Microsoft Hololens
    16. 1:19:03 Ryan - Sony A7x
    17. 1:19:45 Josh - Monoprice Ear Buds
    18. 1:23:10 David / Allyn - Drobo B810n
  2. Postscript
    1. 1:29:12 David - UpgradeRequired.org
  3. Closing/outro

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

Source:

Speedy storage at stocking stuffer prices, the Samsung 750 EVO

Subject: Storage | December 19, 2016 - 07:49 PM |
Tagged: TurboWrite, tlc, SSD 750, slc, sata, Samsung, planar, 750, 2d

With current prices of $61 for 120GB, $89 for the 250GB and $140 for the 500GB model, anyone still stuck using spinning rust for their main drive can join the flash revolution.  Al reviewed these drives at the beginning of the year and there have been so many new drives this year you may have forgotten about it.  It is not the highest tech drive on the market, with 2D NAND and a SATA interface, which is also why they are so inexpensive.  Kitguru recently wrapped up a review of the drives and the Magician software which comes with it.

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"The one thing that was missing from Samsung’s range of SSD’s was a low price value oriented drive. This has been rectified by the arrival of the SSD750 EVO product line. To keep production costs and therefore the cost of the drive down, Samsung has forsaken the 3D V-NAND of the last few drive ranges and gone back to 2D Planer NAND."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: Kitguru

ASUS' ROG STRIX RX 480 O8G GAMING, getting the most out of Polaris

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 19, 2016 - 06:36 PM |
Tagged: rx 480, asus, ROG STRIX RX 480 O8G GAMING, factory overclocked, DirectCU III, Polaris

ASUS went all out with the design of the ROG STRIX RX 480 O8G GAMING card, almost nothing on this card remains a stock part from cooling to power regulation.  It ships with a GPU clocked at 1310MHz in GAMING mode and 1330MHz in OC mode, [H]ard|OCP reached a stable 1410MHz GPU and 8.8GHz VRAM when manually overclocking.  The card does come at a premium, roughly $50 more than a stock card which makes it more expensive than NVIDIA's GTX 1060.  The bump in frequency helps narrow the performance gap between the two cards, but it doesn't make this RX 480 a clear winner.  Check out the full review to see how it performs in the games which matter to you.

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"We put the ASUS ROG STRIX RX 480 O8G GAMING video card through the wringer to find out how well this video card performs and overclocks against a highly overclocked MSI GTX 1060 GAMING X video card. Check out the highest overclock and fastest performance we’ve ever achieved to date with and AMD Radeon RX 480."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

5G might be a hard cell

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 19, 2016 - 05:19 PM |
Tagged: 5G, cell phones, predictions

At least one expert is predicting that the roll out of 5G mobile service will either be delayed or poorly implemented.  Over at The Register Professor William Webb offers his insight as to why this will be.  He predicts that the physical upgrading or replacing of existing signal stations from 4G to 5G will be significantly more expensive than the upgrade to 4G was and that a hybrid option will result in an insignificant increase in network speeds.  He also suggests that total mobile data usage is starting to plateau and we may not even need this extra bandwidth.  That is a contentious claim, with mobile usage seemingly increasing thanks to more and more streaming apps and the ever expanding market of mobile users.  Any slowdown in total usage could instead be caused by pricing, many simply can't afford the overage charges incurred by heavy data usage but would gleefully slurp up more the moment their data caps increase.

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"THE 5G WIRELESS VISION is flawed because technological advances are insufficient to deliver it, users won't pay extra for the higher data rates and don't need the greater capacity it is expected to provide - and because mobile operators can't afford to implement it anyway."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Fatal1ty, you Monster! The FXM 200 gaming headset

Subject: General Tech | December 16, 2016 - 10:49 PM |
Tagged: fatal1ty, monster, FXM 200, gaming headset, audio

Ah Monster, forever famous for their cable pricing.  Surprisingly the Fatal1ty FXM 200 gaming headset is a mere $95, an amazing value as they feature both Hex720 Sound Chamber Technology and Game-tuned Pure Monster Sound!  Surprisingly, The Tech Report were impressed with the quality of gaming audio which came out of this headset and had no reservations in recommending it for gamers, either single player or online.  However that quality did not extend to listening to music, as the quality of audio suffered greatly when listening to various tracks.  This does make sense as Fatal1ty products are made for gamers, not audiophiles.  Drop by for a look at their full review here.

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"Famed gamer Fatal1ty has joined up with Monster to produce a pair of signature headsets: the FXM 100 and FXM 200. We put the FXM 200 to the test to see whether its performance lives up to that fabled name."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Who is the coolest of 2016?

Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 16, 2016 - 07:02 PM |
Tagged: heatsink, watercooler, FrostFlow 240L, ID-Cooling, Dark Rock TF, be quiet!, MasterLiquid Pro 280, cooler master

One product we have not had a dearth of in 2016 are heatsinks and watercoolers, we have seen numerous new products and upgrades to existing product lines.  Overclockers Club took a look back at all of the reviews they conducted this year and picked the top three coolers they saw in 2016.  ID-Cooling is not a particularly popular brand but as its FrostFlow 240L AiO cooler takes third place it may become more famous.  The DarkRock TF from be quiet! is the only air cooler on the list and this hunk of metal with a 220W TDP rating seems to deserve second place.  At the top of the list is a product that is very well known, the Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 280.  Drop by for links to all their reviews.

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"As 2016 comes to a close, it is time for me to talk about the top three coolers. After reviewing many coolers throughout the year, the line blurs and it is really hard to pick, since they are all quite so good. None of them are bad, and it often comes down to price or maybe a certain color scheme that gets my attention."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING