Windows 10 Lean for Devices with Small Drives

Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2018 - 07:41 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, windows 10 lean, mean

A recent Insider build, from beyond the soon-to-be-released Windows 10 version 1803 feature update, added a new version of the OS: Windows 10 Lean. According to Windows Central, it is 2GB smaller than the typical versions, and is expected to target devices with 16GB of storage.

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That… is quite small for a device to have, especially when you consider patches.

And then there’s the way that they’re apparently doing it: dropping rarely-used applications. Internet Explorer? Gone. Reminds me of when I used to use nLite and vLite to make custom Windows installs back in the early-to-mid aughts. (I got Vista to boot in less than a minute on spinning rust before… whole lot of services to trim out of that one -- who knew? Okay… everyone did.)

What does this mean for us? Probably nothing. I expect that most of us will continue to use Windows 10 Home or Pro, even if Microsoft allows us to choose at install time. Still, I would expect that Microsoft has devices in mind when they created this initiative – God I hope they didn’t just do this on a whim – so we’ll need to see whether those are worthwhile for us.

Stomping from tabletop to desktop, Battletech is here

Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2018 - 03:22 PM |
Tagged: battletech, gaming, paradox, harebrained schemes

If you have played the tabletop version of Battletech before, then you have some idea how long a single turn can take.  Paradox and Harebrained have replicated that somewhat, much to the dismay of Alec over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN who found the pacing extremely slow even after turning off the closeup animation feature.  Having managed to steal an hour yesterday to try the new game I can understand why he feels this way, as there is a long waiting period for the sequential weapon animations.  For now it is enjoyable, watching PPCs and missiles impact an enemy but I can believe that after a dozen missions or more it will begin to pale. 

If you are easily bored by turn based games, and found the new X-Com incarnations to be paced too slow for enjoyment you might want to steer clear of this game.  If, on the other hand, you can't wait to teach those crunchies not to play with the big boys or engage in a bit of friendly death from above this is worth picking up.  The game manages to replicate the feeling of massive inertia from the tabletop and the battles are very satisfying.  I still haven't seen secondary ammo store explosions yet but here's hoping!

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"There was, for once, none of the thunderous din of new kitchens or loft extensions being built in one of the adjacent terraced houses, and nor was my own PC’s volume set high as I threw stompy tankbots at each other in XCOM-meets-Mechwarrior turn-based strategy game/boardgame adaptation BattleTech. "

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Tech Talk

Oh Canada, you and your plastic semiconductors

Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2018 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: Semiconductor, polymer, plastic, conjugated polymer

Researchers at the University of Waterloo are working on a way to mass produce conjugated polymers, which conduct electricity and can be coaxed into being a semiconductor.  The process sounds quite simple from The Inquirer's description, the polymers are created by dehydrating plastics which results in the poly(hetero)arenes currently used in products such as solar cells and LED displays.  As the byproduct of this process is water, any device created using this technique would have a significantly lower environmental impact than traditional techniques though it is unclear what plastics could be dehydrated.  There is a bit of the history of this process along with links to this specific research right here.

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"Professor Derek Schipper and his team said it could soon be possible to mass produce semiconductors made from conjugated polymer, which is a type of plastic that can conduct electricity in a similar way to metals."

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Source: The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Logitech

The Creative Craft

The Logitech Craft is an object lesson in not judging a book by its cover. By all appearances, it’s seems to be a standard chiclet keyboard with a volume wheel. Nothing impressive, though, sure, it looks sleek. For those willing to look just as little bit closer, you’ll find one of the most versatile keyboards on the market today. That “volume wheel” is more than meets the eye and has the potential to provide a more efficient workflow for creatives and business professionals alike.

Specifications and Design

  • MSRP: $199.99 (Amazon.com)
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 32 mm x 430 mm x 149 mm
  • Connectivity: Logitech Unifying 2.4GHz wireless technology, USB 2.0, Bluetooth Low Energy technology
  • Program Compatibility:
    • Microsoft Word®, Microsoft PowerPoint®, Microsoft Excel® 2010, 2013 and 2016 - Windows only
    • Adobe® Photoshop® CC, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom® Classic CC, Adobe® Illustrator®CC, Adobe® Premiere® Pro CC 2017 and above – Windows and Mac, Adobe Reader DC
    • VLC Media Player - Windows
  • Preview, Quicktime, Safari® - Mac
  • Spotify™ - Windows and Mac
  • Additional Features:
    • 10m wireless range
  • Wireless encryption
  • On/Off power switch
  • 3 connection indicator lights
  • Caps lock indicator light
  • Battery indicator light
  • Rechargeable with USB type C
  • Compatible with Logitech Flow enabled mice
  • Weight: 960g
  • Warranty: 1-Year Limited Hardware Warranty

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Beginning with packaging, the Craft ships in a nice black box with a nice render of the keyboard on the front. It’s simple and elegant, matching the keyboard itself. Inside you’ll find the keyboard is wrapped in an adhesive dust-protective film. Underneath, we have the USB Type-C cable, 2.4GHz wireless USB insert, and our documentation.

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Taking it out of the box, we find what appears to be a standard 104-key chiclet keyboard with a large metal bar on the top. The Craft is slightly more compact than a traditional keyboard coming in at just under 17-inches wide. The keyboard is thin but surprisingly heavy with a solid 2.1 pounds to keep it stationary on your desk. Much of this seems due to the bar on the top; however, the chassis is also fairly rigid and angled to diminish any flex in normal use.

Continue reading our review of the Logitech CRAFT keyboard!

Roccat's new headset is perfect to watch the second Star Trek movie

Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2018 - 06:42 PM |
Tagged: roccat, swarm, Khan AIMO, virtual 7.1, RGB, gaming headset, audio

Roccat's new Khan Aimo bears a similar design to the Khan Pro, with a subdued colour scheme, apart from the garish RGB infection.  The pair of 50mm neodymium drivers offer true 2.0 audio however with the help of the Roccat Swarm software these headsets are able to deliver virtual 7.1 sound well enough to satisfy Benchmark Reviews.  The headset's High Resolution Audio badge is apparently well deserved, with incredible good playback thanks  to the  10 – 40000Hz response range and the microphone also earned tacit approval.  Check out the full review here.

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"Roccat has added a splash of intelligent RGB lighting to their new HiRes audio headset and given it a new name: the Khan Aimo. More than just a name change and some lighting, this update of the Khan Pro keeps the HiRes designation but swaps the 3.5mm cable for USB to add some new capabilities."

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See spring outside your windows? You might be seeing it on your Windows as well

Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2018 - 02:37 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, spring update

The rumours are flying that the Windows 10 April Update might start arriving on machines today.  The root of this rumour is a large update released today for those running the last major update and it is not alone.  The Inquirer also spotted some information suggesting the Surface Phone may be launching soon as well as Windows Lean, a slimmed down OS for hybrid tablets which will hopefully be better than Windows 10 S.  The last bit of speculation has to do with how Windows will update.  This could be the last large update Microsoft pushes out and we may start to learn more about how they intend to move their OS into a service model instead of a product. 

None of this has been confirmed, so keep your eyes peeled for official announcements. 

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"A cumulative update (KB4093105) for the previous Fall Creators' Update (1709) was pushed through this morning and we'd bet it probably readies the ground for the big update."

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Is that a Samsung charging antenna in your pocket or ...

Subject: General Tech | April 23, 2018 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: wireless charging, Samsung, far field

Wireless charging is fun, but the limited range and speed of induction charging makes it more of a gimmick than a useful tool for the moment.  Samsung is looking to resolve one of those limitations by using far field energy transfer; their current prototypes are able to reliably transfer power over 40cm but they intend far more.  The Register describes the major hurdle for transferring power this way, interference between the antennas because of motion or signal interference significantly reduces the efficiency of power transfer.  Take a look at how they propose to solve this issue as well as alternate suggestions from different researchers.

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"An alternative approach is far-field energy transfer, which requires two antennas, one sending electromagnetic waves to the other. The receiving antenna then converts this radiation into electric currents."

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Source: The Register
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Corsair
Tagged: RGB, platinum, K95, corsair

The Premiere Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Corsair has long been the company to beat in the world of RGB mechanical gaming keyboards. With the K95 RGB Platinum, they present their flagship: an oversize, fully-programmable, light show of a board with the kind of rapid response competitive gamers crave. But for $199, it’s a steep asking price. Is it worth such a high MSRP? Let’s find out.

Specifications and Design

  • MSRP: $199.99 ($172.99 on Amazon at time of writing)
  • Key Switches: Cherry MX RGB Speed (also available in Cherry MX Brown)
  • Actuation Force: 45g
  • Actuation Distance: 1.2mm (standard 2.0mm)
  • Travel Distance: 3.4mm (standard 4.0mm)
  • Lifespan: 50M
  • Keyboard Backlighting: RGB
  • Macro Keys: 6 dedicated G-keys
  • Report Rate: Up to 1ms
  • Matrix: 100% anti-ghosting with full key rollover on USB
  • On-board Memory: Yes
  • Media Keys: Six dedicated multimedia keys, incl. Volume Up/Down roller
  • Wrist Rest: Full length, detachable, dual-sided with soft touch finish
  • Cable Type: Braided Fiber
  • Dimensions: 465mm x 171mm x 36mm
  • Weight: 1.324kg
  • Warranty: Two years

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The K95 RGB Platinum comes in nice packaging in the standard Corsair black and yellow. We have a nice profile shot of the keyboard on the front and the features highlighted on the back. It’s also one of the few cases where the marketing shots really undersell the keyboard. It looks much better in person, especially in low light.

Inside, the keyboard comes in a dust-preventative plastic sleeve with the wrist rest, ten replacement keycaps (QWER, ASDF, WD), and keycap puller under the keyboard itself.

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Taking a closer look at the keyboard, the first thing that stands out is just how refined it is compared to the previous K95s or popular K70 variants. Compared to the K68 we looked at previously, the K95 is a massive upgrade, featuring a full aluminum top plate, aluminum volume roller, a glossy illuminated Corsair sails logo, and a dedicated control area for profile switching, brightness control, and Windows Lock. It also features a gorgeous LED light bar along the top rim, a USB 3.0 pass-through, and six programmable macro keys along the left side.

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Continue reading our review of the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum keyboard!!

You've been diagnosed with terminal projected gradient descent

Subject: General Tech | April 20, 2018 - 01:10 PM |
Tagged: security, scary, health, PGD

Researchers have demonstrated how a projected gradient descent attack is able to fool medical imaging systems into seeing things which are not there.  A PGD attack degrades pixels in an image to convince an image recognition tool into falsely identifying the presence of something in an image, in this case medical scanners.  The researchers were successful in fooling three tests, a retina scan, an x-ray and a dermatological scan for cancerous moles; regardless of their access level on the scanner itself.  Take a look over at The Register for more information on this specific attack as well as the general vulnerability of image recognition software.

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"Medical AI systems are particularly vulnerable to attacks and have been overlooked in security research, a new study suggests."

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Source: The Register

2700X people knocking 'cause they're wanting some more

Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2018 - 07:37 PM |
Tagged: xen+, amd, ryzen 2, Ryzen 7 2700X, Ryzen 5 2600X, AMD Wraith, Pinnacle Ridge

 Ryzen 2 is no longer on the horizon, it has crossed both the pinnacle and the ridge and now descends upon us.  Zen has matured and while it may not be conducting a waltz it is surely doing more than a simple two step as demonstrated by its deft ability to weave multiple threads.  Along with the increase in frequencies comes a welcome drop in prices as the flagship APU, with included prismatic spray cooler is barely over $300 or $400 depending on which side of the border you have chosen.  The Tech Report concurs with Ryan, AMD's construction phase wasn't so bad, but now that they have come to peace with their inner selves the Editors are Choosing them left, right and center.

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"After a busy year of desktop CPU launches from the entry level to the high-end, AMD is back with a second generation of mainstream Ryzen CPUs boasting a range of refinements. Join us as we see just what the Ryzen 5 2600X and Ryzen 7 2700X are capable of."

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Processors