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Subject: General Tech | September 21, 2016 - 05:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, battlefield 1, frostbite
If you want to join in the fight in Battlefield 1 we now have the minimum specs needed to run the newest version of the Frostbite Engine. AMD users are looking at a minimum of a FX-6350 and HD 7850, Intel powered systems an i5-6600K and NVIDIA fans will want at least a GTX660. You will need 50GB of drive space free and the game would like at least 8GB of RAM available for it. To really get the best out of the game, you need to up that to an RX 480 or GTX 1060 and either a FX 8350 or i7-4790, with 16GB of RAM free. It will be interesting to see how much VRAM this game will take advantage of. Props to Guru 3D for getting this up first.
32bit systems need not apply.
"The Battlefield website now offers the official system requirements for Battlefield 1. These come along with a couple of videos highlighting the HUD-less interface in the upcoming World War I shooter. "
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- AMD & NVIDIA GPU VR Performance: Space Pirate Trainer @ [H]ard|OCP
- Rick, Morty & Stanley: Accounting Is A Surreal VR Game @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Legend of Zelda cracked with 6502 assembly language glitch @ The Register
- Valve Remove Digital Homicide’s Games From Steam For Suing Users Over Comments @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Wot I Think: Halcyon 6 – Starbase Commander @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided @ The Tech Report
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Performance Analysis Review @ OCC
- Would You Adam & Eve It: BioShock Remastered Fixes @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Elite Dangerous Dropping Support For 32-bit, DirectX 10 @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Star Wars Battlefront: Death Star gameplay trailer published @ HEXUS
- Hone Your Skills With Creative Kills: Dishonored 2 @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
To read this story just post your first pet's name and the first address you remember living at in the comments
Subject: General Tech | September 21, 2016 - 05:11 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: security, idiots
David Hannum underestimated humanity greatly when he claimed a sucker was born every minute, we are now up to one every 15 seconds and accelerating. Online scammers continue doing what they are doing because it works, even those who should know better regularly share personal details online which make scammers lives much easier. It is not just those suspicious phone calls, texts or websites; many people's social media feeds are a cornucopia of personal information which allow scammers to profit off of your money. The problem is only getting worse, in the UK The Register reports that losses in 2015 were £755m, 26% more than 2014. A quick search reveals that the trend applies to the US as well.
You've heard it before and will hear it again, take a second to ask yourself if you really should be sharing what you are about to post before you send it.
"Between January and June 2016 there were 1,007,094 fraud cases in the UK compared to 660,308 in the first six months of 2015. Each case represents a card or account attacked, not an individual person."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft Signature PC Requirements Now Blocks Linux Installation: Reports @ Slashdot
- Inotera provides update on acquisition by Micron @ DigiTimes
- MakerBot Releases Their 6th Generation Of 3D Printers @ Hack a Day
- 5 More SuperCon Speakers You Don’t Want to Miss @ Hack a Day
- Nest Outdoor Security Camera @ Phoronix
Subject: Storage | September 21, 2016 - 04:00 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: ssd, Samsung, pcie, NVMe, M.2, 960 PRO, 960 EVO
I'm currently running around at the various briefings and events here at Samsung's Global SSD Summit, but we did get some details on the 960 PRO and EVO that I've set to go live at the NDA time of 1 PM Seoul time.
Here is a distilled version of the specs, capacities, and prices of the 960 PRO and EVO:
- 512GB, 1TB, 2TB capacities
- Sequential: 3.5 GB/s reads / 2.1 GB/s writes
- 4K random (IOPS): 440,000 read / 360,000 write
- Dynamic Thermal Guard (new version of their overtemperature protection - details below)
- 5 year warranty, endurace peaks at 1.2PBW for the 2TB model
- 512GB model = $329.99 ($0.64/GB)
- 250GB, 500GB, 1TB capacities
- Sequential: 3.2 GB/s reads / 1.9 GB/s writes (write speed is for TurboWrite SLC cache)
- 4K random (IOPS): 380,000 read / 360,000 write
- Dynamic Thermal Guard
- 3 year warranty, endurance up to 400TBW for the 1TB model
- 250GB = $129.99 ($0.52/GB)
I would certainly like to see Samsung push the 960 EVO capacities upwards of 4TB, and with competing M.2 NVMe products shipping at a lower cost, those prices use some tweaking as well.
More information and pics to follow later today (tonight for you USA folks)!
**UPDATE** - since everyone is in bed and hasn't read any of this yet, I'm just going to add the information from the presentation here.
First, some of you may be wondering about the inverted capacity difference between the PRO and EVO. Historically, Samsung has shipped their EVO line in higher capacities than the PRO line. The 850 EVO currently ships in capacities up to 4TB, while the 850 PRO remains limited to 2TB. If you look closely at the photos above, you'll note that there are four flash packages on the PRO, while there are only two on the EVO. The cause for this difference is that the DRAM package (visible on the EVO) is integrated within the controller package on the PRO model. This is similar to what Samsung has done with their PM971-NVMe SSD, which has not only the controller and DRAM, but the flash itself all stacked within a *single* package. Samsung calls this package-on-package (PoP):
During the Q&A, Samsung's Unsoo Kim indicated that future 960 EVO's may also shift to the PoP design in order to shift to 4 packages, and therefore double (or quadruple) the capacity on that line in the future.
Samsung also tackled thermal throttling head-on with what they call Dynamic Thermal Guard. This is a combination of a few things. First is the reduced power consumption - the new controller draws ~10% less power despite moving to a 5-core design (up from a 3-core on the 950 PRO). Second, and perhaps more interesting, is a new heat spreading label:
This new label contains a copper layer that helps spread heat across more of the surface area of the M.2 part. Samsung gets bonus points for outside the box thinking there. The combination of the reduced power draw and the heat spreader help to make thermal throttling even more impossible under typical use:
While the above chart was for reads (writes produce more heat), that's still a very good improvement, and being able to move potentially the full drive capacity before throttling is pretty good, especially considering the new models are moving data at a much faster speed. About those faster speeds, here are some increased details on the per-capacity specs:
Take the 960 EVO write specs with a grain of salt - those are assuming writes are going into the SLC cache area but never fear because TurboWrite is getting a boost as well:
This new 'Intelligent TurboWrite' increases the SLC cache area significantly over that of the 850 EVO we are all used to, with up to a 42GB area on the 1TB model! This should make it easier to swallow those boastful write performance claims, as there's a really good chance that all writes any typical user applies to the new EVO will go straight into that new larger cache.
Apologies for the odd cutoffs on these pictures. They were corrected for parallax prior to posting. I also couldn't do anything about the presenter being in the way of the data :). I've requested slides from Samsung and will replace these here if/when they are provided.
Last but not least was a newly announced '2.0' version of the Samsung proprietary NVMe driver, which should help enable these increased speeds, as the Windows InBox driver is certainly not optimized to handle them. With the driver comes a new ground-up redesign of Samsung's Magician software, which added support for file-specific secure erasure and a special 'Magic Vault' secure encrypted area of the SSD that can be invisible to the host OS when locked.
This appears to be the bulk of what is to be announced at the Summit, so for now, I leave you with the endurance ratings and (MSRP) pricing for all capacities / models:
Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2016 - 08:51 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: mozilla, firefox
While it was originally scheduled for last week, some last-minute issues preventing the software non-profit organization from releasing it until today. Also, for some reason, Firefox for Android doesn't want to update from within itself, but triggering an update from the Google Play store works. This might be temporary and/or happens with every Firefox for Android update; I'm new to this platform.
With Firefox 49, VentureBeat is reporting that Mozilla is allowing a “small initial set of compatible add-ons” to be enabled alongside multi-process. If you don't have any non-compatible add-ons installed, then you should see Multiprocess Windows enabled in about:support. Otherwise, it will be disabled and you won't see any difference.
Interestingly, Mozilla is promoting "Refresh Firefox" at their site if you have the latest version. This basically cleans all the add-ons out of your user profile, but maintains browsing history, bookmarks, and the like. It might have been around for a while, but, if it's new, it times nicely with the multi-process rollout. On top of cleaning out old, crufty add-ons, a user should see a bigger jump when Mozilla's enhancements are (I'm guessing) enabled.
Mozilla has also changed a few things here and there, too. While many of our readers will probably have hardware acceleration for video, they have just added in SSSE3 enhancements if GPU support isn't available. I'm not sure all of the use cases for this, but I'd expect it would help in virtualized environments and certain, older PCs (ex: Intel Atom and Via Nano). I'm just speculating, though.
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 20, 2016 - 07:58 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, xbox, xbox one, pc gaming, nvidia, GTX 1080, gtx 1070
NVIDIA has just announced that specially marked, 10-series GPUs will be eligible for a Gears of War 4 download code. This bundle applies to GeForce GTX 1080 and GeForce GTX 1070 desktop GPUs, as well as laptops which integrate either of those two GPUs. As always, if you plan on purchasing a GPU due to this bundle, make sure that the product page for your retailer mentions the bundle.
Also, through the Xbox Play Anywhere initiative, NVIDIA claims that this code can be used to play the game on Xbox One as well. Xbox Play Anywhere allows users to purchase a game on either of Microsoft's software stores, Xbox Store or Windows Store, and it will automatically count as a purchase for the cross-platform equivalent. It also has implications for cloud saves, but that's a story for another day.
The bundle begins today, September 20th. Gears of War 4 launches on October 11th.
Subject: Mobile | September 20, 2016 - 07:40 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: zte, axon 7, just delivered
You can, for all intents and purposes, say that I haven't really had a smartphone until now. The only one that came close was my LG Optimus One, which ran Android 2.2 and had a few dozen megabytes of usable, internal storage. That said, I got it for about a hundred bucks around five years ago. I wanted a portable computer based on a modern Android OS for quite some time, but could never justify the cost give how little it would be used outside of WiFi.
This year changed that quite a bit. With ZTE, OnePlus, ASUS, and other companies fighting for the mid-range space, it seemed like now would be a good time to buy, and the ZTE Axon 7 ended up being my choice. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, which is all over the place it seems, supports OpenGL ES 3.2 and Vulkan, although the depends on the handset vendor to ship the compatible drivers. Since it's likely that ZTE will ship those APIs, especially when Android N is pushed to it, I was able to justify the extra cost with software development. It also has a beautiful, AMOLED display and surprisingly good sound, especially for voice-centric bands like The Tragically Hip.
One thing that confused me was Newegg's pre-order bonus. For purchasing the device, already about half the price of comparable phones, they throw in a pair of Monster over-ear headphones for free. Yes, nothing is truly for free, and Monster products typically don't cost anywhere near their retail price, which claims to be $200 CDN, but the phone, itself, already seemed like it was pocket change over cost. Makes you wonder how much ZTE is selling it to Newegg for, and whether it's sustainable.
Anywho, I have now joined the modern mobile world.
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 20, 2016 - 07:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gigabyte, GTX 1080, GTX 1080 Xtreme Gaming Premium, factory overclocked, GIGABYTE Xtreme Engine, vr link
Gigabyte's GeForce GTX 1080 Xtreme Gaming comes with a nice overclock right out of the box, 1759MHz base, 1898MHz boost clock and a small bump to the VRAM frequency to 10.2GHz. At the push of a button you can add an extra 25MHz to the GPUs clocks assuming you install the bundled GIGABYTE Xtreme Engine which also allows you to manually tweak your settings. The Package part of the official name indicates that Gigabyte's Xtreme VR Link header panel is included with the card, you can install it in the front of your case to provide easy access to two HDMI connectors and two USB 3.0 ports for a VR headset.
Pop on over to [H]ard|OCP to see how much more they could get out of the card as well as the effect it had on gameplay.
"GIGABYTE’s GeForce GTX 1080 Xtreme Gaming Premium Pack is one premium package of goodness. Not only have we got one of the fastest GeForce GTX 1080 video cards, but GIGABYTE has thrown in the kitchen sink in this Premium Package with enthusiast oriented gaming as the focus."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- MSI GTX 1070 Gaming Z 8 GB @ techPowerUp
- MSI GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G Review @ Neoseeker
- ASUS GTX 1080 & GTX 1070 STRIX OC Review @ Hardware Canucks
- ASUS GTX 1060 STRIX OC 6 GB @ techPowerUp
Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2016 - 05:20 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: arm, iot, cortex r52, r-52, cortex, security
ARM's new Cortex R-52 replaces the aging R-5 and they report that it will run 14 times faster than the model it replaces. It is also the first ARMv8-R based product they have released, it supports hypervisor instructions as well as additional unspecified safety features. They are aiming for medical applications as well as vehicles, markets which are currently plagued by insecure software and hardware. In many cases the insecurity stems from companies using the default software settings in their products, often due to ignorance as opposed to malice and ARM intends their default settings to be far more secure than current SOCs. Unfortunately this will not help with those who use default passwords and ports but it is a step in the right direction. Pop over to The Inquirer for more information.
"The Cortex R-52 has been five years in development and is engineered to meet new safety standards as ARM takes aim at the growing market of large-scale smart devices, such as surgical robots and self-driving cars."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- 4K UHD TVs Are Being Adopted Faster Than HDTVs @ Slashdot
- Microsoft snubs alert over Exchange hole @ The Register
- Clustering A Lot Of Raspberry Pi Zeros @ Hack a Day
- IPv4 apocalypse means we just can't measure the internet any more @ The Register
- Opera brings its desktop VPN to the mainstream @ The Inquirer
- Want a Dell printer? Unlucky – they've just stopped selling them @ The Register
- Wise Pad W7 Phablet Giveaway Contest @ Tech ARP
Subject: Storage | September 20, 2016 - 10:01 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: Samsung, 960 PRO, 960 EVO, NVMe, pcie, ssd, Summit, Global
Your humble Storage Editor is once again in Seoul, Korea. With these trips comes unique skylines:
...the Seoul Tower:
...and of course, SSD announcements! Samsung has a habit of slipping product pics into the yearly theme. This year they were a bit more blunt about it:
Yup, looks like tomorrow we will see Samsung officially announce their successor to the 950 PRO. We'll be hearing all about the 960 PRO and the new 960 EVO tomorrow, exactly three months after we broke the early news of these new models.
There will, of course, be more details tomorrow once we attend the relevant product briefings. This will be late at night for those of you back in the states. No further details for now. I'm off to get some dinner and recover from that 14-hour flight!
Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 19, 2016 - 07:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: supernova, modular psu, EVGA SuperNOVA G2L, evga, 80 Plus Gold
EVGA have updated their SuperNOVA family of PSUs with the G2L series, so named because of the glow emitted by the plugs for your cables. Some may be disappointed they did not chose to utilize RGB lighting with several million colour possibilities, others will indeed prefer the simple white glow.
The PSUs come with EVGA's 10 year warranty and ECO mode, Lee has this covered previously, which manages the noise levels produced by the fan and allowing that fan to remain unpowered until 20% load is reached. This series will come with an 80 PLUS Gold rating, which EVGA does have a history of deserving when they display the rating. Full PR is below the lens flare.
September 19th, 2016 - The unbeatable performance of the EVGA SuperNOVA G2 power supply line is now available with LED lighting in the new G2L versions. These units feature 80 Plus Gold rate efficiency, and clean continuous power to every component. The ECO Control Fan system offers fan modes to provide absolutely zero fan noise during low to medium load operations. Backed by an award winning 10 Year Warranty, and 100% Japanese capacitor design, the EVGA SuperNOVA 850/750 G2L power supplies offer unbeatable performance at an unbeatable value.
- Built in LED Illumination – Killer performance, killer looks with built in White LED Illumination
- 100% Modular Design – Full modularity enables you to use only the cables you need, helping to improve case airflow, eliminate unnecessary wires, and best of all, reduce cable clutter.
- Whisper Silent – The EVGA ECO mode feature ensures that the power supply stay completely silent during low to medium loads. The fan does not spin until necessary, allowing for completely silent operation!
- Unbeatable Performance – 90% efficiencies or higher under typical loads and highest quality Japanese brand capacitors ensure long-term reliability.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 19, 2016 - 05:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: rosewill, cullinan, XL-ATX, MicroATX
The press photos at the start of TechPowerUp's review do not do the Rosewill Cullinan justice, that obnoxiously bright glow actually looks nice behind the tinted glass panels which the case features. As you can see from the picture below the case does allow light through it but the reflective side and front panels are the obvious highlight of the case. It will accommodate any motherboard from MicroATX to XL-ATX, at 8.54x19.57x18.78 you should be able to fit in the plus sized coolers from the review just below this post. You might find that needing to remove all of the the thumbscrews to get the side panel open a bit cumbersome but when assembled it does look quite fancy. Drop by TechPowerUp for the full story.
"The Rosewill Cullinan utilizes glass panels on three sides of the chassis. It looks sleek and clean and comes with four LED-equipped fans, but also offers a long set of functional and design-specific features. We light it up and take a closer look behind its tinted glass panels."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- RIOTORO CR1080 Review @ OCC
- Corsair Carbide Air 740 @ Kitguru
- DeepCool Captain 240 EX AIO Liquid CPU Cooler Review @ Neoseeker
- REEVEN Brontes Low-Profile CPU Cooler Review @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2016 - 04:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: netfix, meridian, 4k60
The 12 minute long Netflix Original "Meridian" might not be the most exciting program they've ever released but it is among one of the most interesting. The program is available to anyone, via the Creative Commons license they attached to it, up to an including competitors such as iTunes and Hulu. This seemly strange move is because it is actually a benchmark for encoding streamed video and the more people that see it the more information Netflix and others will gain. It is originally filmed in 4k resolution at 60fps, which is far more than most displays can handle and much larger than residential data infrastructure is used to handling.
The interesting part will start when new algorithms begin to appear to allow what is likely to be the next high definition standard to stream over the internet without immediately hitting data caps or losing so much resolution as to make it unwatchable. You can pop over to Slashdot for links to more information about this release.
"But for Netflix, it's just par of the course. Thanks to its Silicon Valley DNA, Netflix has long collaborated with other companies on cloud computing-focused open source projects. Now, it wants to nudge Hollywood to do the same -- and "Meridian" is only the beginning. This week, Netflix is also open-sourcing a set of tools tackling a common problem for studios and video services."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- HP confirms that its printer firmware blocks some remanufactured cartridges @ The Inquirer
- Emacs and Vim both release first new updates in years @ The Register
- Mozilla will patch zero-day Firefox bug to fiddle man-in-the-middle diddle @ The Register
Subject: Processors | September 19, 2016 - 02:35 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Socket AM4, processor, FX, cpu, APU, amd, 1331 pins
Image credit: Bit-Tech via HWSW
AMD's newest socket will merge the APU and FX series CPUs into this new AM4 socket, unlike the previous generation which split the two between AM3+ and FM2+. This is great news for system builders, who now have the option of starting with an inexpensive CPU/APU, and upgrading to a more powerful FX processor later on - with the same motherboard.
The new socket will apparently require a new cooler design, which is contrary to early reports (yes, we got it wrong, too) that the AM4 socket would be compatible with existing AM3 cooler mounts (manufacturers could of course offer hardware kits for existing cooler designs). In any case, AMD's new socket takes more of the delicate copper pins you love to try not to bend!
Subject: Networking, Mobile | September 17, 2016 - 12:48 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: qualcomm, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7, iphone, Intel, apple
Not every iPhone is created equal. Dual-sourcing parts is fairly common, especially in the mobile space. Samsung, for instance, is known to have separate models of the same phone, with some using its own parts, and others using third-party components. Apple has even designed separate versions of the same SoC in the past, to fabricate them at different locations and on different process technologies.
This case is more simple than that, though. Depending on the specific iPhone 7 that you get, which mostly varies by region and carrier, but also apparently between Plus and regular, you will either get a Qualcomm Snapdragon X12 modem, or you will get an Intel XMM 7360 modem. The ratio between these two parts, all markets considered, doesn't seem to have been announced yet, but old rumors claim about 70:30, Qualcomm-to-Intel. Still, Apple is a pretty big customer, so I'm hoping that both Intel and Qualcomm are moving enough to (Update: Sigh... input fail... original article cut off here. The rest of the sentence, after this update, was added a couple hours later.) be worthwhile for both parties.
Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2016 - 09:39 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, battlefield 4, dlc
If you claim them before September 19th, you can now get all five expansion packs for Battlefield 4 for free. This comes a month before Battlefield 1 launches, and it hopes to get people hooked further into the gameplay style, wanting more in a month's time. They have occasionally been through the “On the House” promotion in the past, on an individual basis, but this is the first time that they're all free, together.
It seems to be...
This will probably upset some Battlefield 4 Premium owners, but, even though I'm one of them, I don't think it's that big of a deal. It's fine for EA to give away their own content whenever they like, and, even still, paying customers bought access to it for over three years before it was given away.
I should note that you need to own the game, itself, though. It currently costs $19.99, although it's recently been available for $5, so hopefully you picked it up by then.
Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2016 - 05:32 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: input, razer, turret, wireless mouse, wireless keyboard
The picture below give you a good idea of the size of these two couch combat kits, the Lapdog above it is obviously much larger but is intended for the same use. The Turret is 7x121x11.6mm and the mousepad portion of the keyboard folds under for easy storage. The mouse resembles a miniaturized Orochi, a mere 100x66x35mm, which may be a bit small for some hands, Legion Hardware did quickly get used to the size though. The Turret is not great for hardcore gaming because of its size, but for surfing from the couch or playing casual games it is sufficient and is far easier to store than the Lapdog when not in use. Check out the review here.
"On hand or rather in lap is Razer’s new Turret gaming mouse and lapboard, designed for kicking back and relaxing in the living room for some casual PC gaming. The Turret is an all in one solution that provides a quick and easy setup so you can spend more time playing, but is it all it’s cracked up to be? Let’s find out..."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Fnatic Gear Flick Mouse @ techPowerUp
- Ozone Neon 3K Mouse @ Kitguru
- Corsair MM800 RGB Polaris Gaming Mouse Pad @ eTeknix
- Cooler Master MasterKeys Pro S RGB @ techPowerUp
Subject: General Tech, Networking | September 16, 2016 - 04:27 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: router, DIY, homebrew, openwrt
Ars Technica took router modding to a new level this year; why just flash your router with OpenWRT when you can make one from a mini PC? The original was a dual gigabit NIC mini-PC with a 1037u Ivy Bridge Celeron from Alibaba, Homebrew 2.0 is sourced from Amazon, has four Intel gigabit LAN ports and runs on a J1900 Bay Trail Celeron. You simply install an inexpensive SSD is installed in the mini-PC, set up OpenWRT and configure your network settings. In this latest update Ars compares their homebrew routers to several retail routers to see how they fall in terms of performance. Check it out to see how they fare and possibly to learn a bit about network benchmarks.
"Famously around the Ars forums, this problem soon evolved into our homebrew router initiative. In January, I showed my math as a DIY-Linux router outpaced popular off-the-shelf options like the Netgear Nighthawk X6 and the Linksys N600 EA-2750. And in August, I shared the steps necessary to build one of your own."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft fiddles results to show Edge is 'better' than Opera and Chrome @ The Inquirer
- Xiaomi Can Silently Install Any App On Your Android Phone Using A Backdoor @ Slashdot
- Apple Japan Unit Ordered To Pay $118M Tax For Underreporting Income @ Slashdot
- 10 GNOME Shell Extensions You Should Be Using @ Linux.com
- Chrome and Firefox are blocking access to The Pirate Bay @ The InquirerE
- NikKTech & Alphacool AIO Global Giveaway
Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2016 - 01:56 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, steam, pc gaming
A few days ago, Valve changed how user reviews work on Steam. Now, user reviews on the search page and at the top of the product page will only reflect customers who purchased the game from Steam. Other user reviews will still be collected, but only from the product's reviews panel with a more broad filter applied, which must be done manually.
This change was made because Valve detected some titles where review scores varied greatly between Steam user and outside keys. If the vast majority of reviewers who purchased the content on Steam and the vast majority of reviewers who acquired the game outside of Steam are the same, then random error converges quickly. An average of 1000 reviews should be within 3% of the average opinion of 1,000,000 random customers, for 95% of titles. 99% of titles would be within 4% of the average opinion, given 1000 reviews for a million customers.
Of course, the differences are not always truly random. Keys which were given to crowd-funding backers could be abnormally good, if it well-served the niche audience that helped it get made, or abnormally bad, if it slighted that audience.
In the worst case, developers could be giving away keys to services that flood fraudulent reviews.
As such, Valve took the position that
it will (Update: Yeah, I kind-of messed up the grammar on this sentence when I restructured it in editing... read it without the strikethrough, and this update of course) only reviews from their direct customers would be promoted. This upset many developers, although some games received a bump in score, if you trust Steam Spy. Again, if their title was a hit on Kickstarter, Patreon, or other services, then it subtracts their most evangelical users.
On the other hand, from Valve's perspective, they want to promote the opinion that best applies to someone browsing on Steam. This makes sense, since a review should be intended to guide someone who doesn't already have an opinion of the title one way or the other. Again, reviews are designed to be the general consensus of a random group of people -- the expected value of an average user -- but constrainted to a certain set of properties.
Of course, it would be beneficial to Valve to run further experiments to make sure that an average Steam reviewer reflects an average Steam customer for each, specific title. Basically, it's a good hypothesis, but testing isn't done. It could change greatly as it evolves through the Scientific Method.
Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2016 - 11:34 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: logitech, saitek
Saitek is pretty much the leading manufacturer of elaborate gaming peripherals. They're the group that makes joysticks with separate throttles, dashboards, and so forth, for flight simulators, driving games, and sci-fi titles. Until now, they were a subsidiary of Mad Catz, which is best known for third-party console controllers, although they also made PC accessories since the DOS era. In case you've never heard of them, Mad Catz also made GameShark.
Now, Logitech has purchased the Saitek portion of Mad Catz's business, which handles "simulation" accessories. According to their blog post, the company plans to merge Saitek into their Logitech G series of products. That's about all the we know of their plans at the moment, though. This should be interesting to follow over the next few years.
Finance-oriented sources claim that the acquisition totals about $13 million USD, in cash.
Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2016 - 10:21 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, Windows Store
If you have developed a Win32 or .NET application, and are interested in publishing it for the Windows Store, then Microsoft has released a tool to translate from the one to the other. There are some obvious concerns about this, which I will discuss later in this post, but most of those are more relevant to society as a whole, versus a single person who writes an app. This used to be called Project Centennial, and it's designed to help users enter the UWP platform with little effort, using the APIs they are comfortable with.
The major concern (from a society standpoint) is that the whole reason why Microsoft doesn't deprecate Win32 is because there's too much of it in use. This conversion process forces the application to only be installed through sideloading, or by uploading it to Windows Store. This is much better than iOS and the now deprecated Windows RT, which don't allow sideloading content, but there's nothing preventing Microsoft from just killing sideloading in five, twenty, or a hundred years. Since that's the only way to express yourself through a native application without a license for Microsoft, you can see what could go wrong if a government tells them that encryption software needs to go away, or a civil rights group attempts to release a controversial work of art.
Again, as I said earlier, this is a society issue, though. For interested developers, the tool is a way to bring your old software to a new distribution method. People like Tim Sweeney will probably say “no thanks” for political reasons, but, if that's not a concern for you, the tool exists.
DesktopAppConverter is free on the Windows Store.