Steam's Lunar New Year Sale Started Today

Subject: General Tech | February 15, 2018 - 09:50 PM |
Tagged: valve, pc gaming, steam sale, steam

If you need more games that you purchased on sale but probably will never play, then Valve’s Lunar New Year sale is for you. Year of the Dog is the theme, and so most of the promoted games have dogs in them. Yes, Half Life 2’s robot counts – Valve’s 2004 classic is currently sitting at 90% off.

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Personally, I just picked up Okami HD. I was interested in this game when it first came out, but I was purposely avoiding console titles, so I just kept waiting. I just found out that it was released on the PC back in December, and it’s now 30% off its regular price. Good enough for me!

It’s cute that Valve is going back to some sort of meaning in their sales. These sorts of things used to be conversation starters. I don’t know, but it felt like a lot of the Steam Sales lately became… sterile. It feels odd to describe a sale as an experience, but they kind-of were at times.

Or maybe I just like puppies. I dunno.

Windows 10 brings you Ultimate Power!!!

Subject: General Tech | February 15, 2018 - 01:00 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

Microsoft's new Ultimate Performance mode is impressively name but a bit hyperbolic as what it refers to is a new power plan which will be available to desktop machines in Build 17101 and Build 17604.  There is not much more information on the new setting, apart from its intent to reduce micro-latencies, likely referring specifically to intense computational tasks and not aimed at making your game run faster.  It is possible that an enthusiast would benefit from the new power schema, it will be interesting to see the results once the update lands.  In the mean time you can pop by Slashdot for links and commentary.

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"As the name implies, this is a step up for people for whom even the High Performance mode isn't enough -- it throws power management out the window to eliminate "micro-latencies" and boost raw speed. You can set it yourself, but PC makers will have the option of shipping systems with the feature turned on. Ultimate Performance isn't currently available for laptops or tablets, but Microsoft suggests that could change."

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Source: Slashdot

Podcast #487 - AMD Desktop APUs, Snapdragon 845, ARM Machine Learning, and more!

Subject: General Tech | February 15, 2018 - 11:32 AM |
Tagged: podcast, Intel, amd, nvidia, raven ridge, r5 2400g, r3 2200g, arm, project trillium, qualcomm, snapdragon 845, x24, LTE, 5G

PC Perspective Podcast #487 - 02/15/18

Join us this week for a recap of news and reviews including new AMD Desktop APUs, Snapdragon 845 Performance Preview, ARM Machine Learning, 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: 1:18:46

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Picks of the Week:
    1. 1:09:00 Jeremy: &genie=1
  4. Closing/outro
 
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Cherry

Overview

Cherry is one of the most well-known brands in the mechanical keyboard industry. The company, based in Germany, is best known for their MX key switches, which have become the gold standard in the premium keyboard market. As a result of their high standards, tight quality control, and even the occasional scarcity, “genuine Cherry key switches” has become a veritable marketing point on more than a few features lists.

Since they make their own switches, it should come as no surprise that Cherry also produces their own keyboards. Today, we’re looking at the G80-3494, a new entry in the G80-3000 line and one of the few keyboards in the United States to feature Cherry MX Silent Black key switches. Do their full-fledged boards live up to the lofty standards of their switches?

Specifications

  • MSRP: $149.99 (currently sale price: $111.56)
  • Layout: ANSI, 104-key
  • Key Switch: Cherry MX Silent Black (linear)
  • Key Lifespan: 50M keystroke
  • Actuation Force: 60cN
  • N-Key Rollover: 14-key simultaneous
  • Cable: 1.75m, non-detachable, PVC coated
  • Dimensions: 470 x 195 x 44 mm
  • Weight: 935g

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Continue reading our review of the Cherry G80 MX Board Silent keyboard!

Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: ARM

Addressing New Markets

Machine Learning is one of the hot topics in technology, and certainly one that is growing at a very fast rate. Applications such as facial recognition and self-driving cars are powering much of the development going on in this area. So far we have seen CPUs and GPUs being used in ML applications, but in most cases these are not the most efficient ways of doing these highly parallel but relatively computationally simple workloads. New chips have been introduced that are far more focused on machine learning, and now it seems that ARM is throwing their hat into the ring.

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ARM is introducing three products under the Project Trillium brand. It features a ML processor, a OD (Object Detection) processor, and a ARM developed Neural Network software stack. This project came as a surprise for most of us, but in hindsight it is a logical avenue for them to address as it will be incredibly important moving forward. Currently many applications that require machine learning are not processed at the edge, namely in the consumer’s hand or device right next to them. Workloads may be requested from the edge, but most of the heavy duty processing occurs in datacenters located all around the world. This requires communication, and sometimes pretty hefty levels of bandwidth. If neither of those things are present, applications requiring ML break down.

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Click here to read the rest of the article about Project Trillium!

Are you proud of the time your DM went apoplectic due to your actions in game? Check out Underworld Ascendant

Subject: General Tech | February 14, 2018 - 04:17 PM |
Tagged: Underworld Ascendant, gaming, rpg

Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN's preview of Underworld Ascendant describes a game that eclectic roleplayers will love as it seems to encourage unorthodox solutions.  Instead of trying to dodge your way over a trap; why not drop a rock in it and watch the physics engine cause a jam in the trap rendering it useless?   Perhaps you have a nefarious use for the glue plant mentioned in preview or figure sneaking behind a foe and dropping the ceiling on it makes more sense than a duel.  The game is still in development but looks like it could be a great source of entertainment for those with a certain bent.

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"This is a game in which you can levitate a crate, move it through a fire with your mind, and then lob it over a skeleton’s shoulder-bone so that it crashes into a wooden support behind that skeleton and starts a larger fire that results in collapsing struts, falling boulders, and a dog’s delight of shattered bones to chew on."

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Chrome offers a more peaceful web

Subject: General Tech | February 14, 2018 - 12:47 PM |
Tagged: chrome, ad blocker

On Feb 15th Chrome will push out an update which will enable ad filtering on the popular web browser.  They will not take this to the extremes of many ad blocker or script filtering add-ins but instead will block ads which do not conform to the guidelines of the Coalition for Better Ads.  That would mean full page ads with a timer to prevent you from accessing the page until it hits zero, ones with autoplaying audio, pop ups and flashing ads

There will likely be some unintended consequences, as various text editors have pop ups to recover data and there are sites where you want autoplaying content so we shall see how Chrome modifies their ad filter over time.  This is good news for websites as it does not completely prevent ad revenue, only encourages the owners to ensure the ads they allow to be displayed follow certain guidelines.   Pop by Slashdot if you want to join in their reasoned and informed discussion about tomorrows update.

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"Chrome's ad filtering is designed to weed out some of the web's most annoying ads, and push website owners to stop using them. Google is not planning to wipe out all ads from Chrome, just ones that are considered bad using standards from the Coalition for Better Ads. Full page ads, ads with autoplaying sound and video, and flashing ads will be targeted by Chrome's ad filtering, which will hopefully result in less of these annoying ads on the web."

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Source: Slashdot

The new Skype, with assorted features you don't want and none of the ones you used to love

Subject: General Tech | February 13, 2018 - 01:23 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, skype, security

The new Skype looks much like a child who swallowed far too many Halloween candies and happened to be facing a monitor during the inevitable outcome; a feature not many requested.  Also gone is the ability to program your own add-ins and apply them to Skype to enhance recording and a variety of other features which made the product useful.  Microsoft ended that when they took Skype over, however they offer some other less popular features.   One such is a vulnerability which allows the unsecure update process to be used to inject nasty DLLs to give SYSTEM level access to an attacker.  From what The Inquirer has been able to find out, Microsoft will not be releasing a patch for vulnerable versions but will instead release a new version at some point, without the vulnerability baked in. 

Conspicuosly absent from this discussion was the soon to be Team-ed Skype for Business which may or may not feature this particular problem.  As it updates through Office 365 it should be safe, but not many security execs are satisifed by 'should'.

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"Long story short - there's so much code that would need to be rewritten that it isn't worth it to Microsoft to shore-up this version. What's not quite clear is whether this affects the grotesque UWP version of Skype or just the old desktop version."

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Source: The Inquirer

VideoLAN Releases VLC 3.0 "Vetinari"

Subject: General Tech | February 12, 2018 - 09:37 PM |
Tagged: vlc

VLC made a name for itself by pretty much playing anything. I noticed its existence during the “download a bunch of codec packs and hope they’re not malware” period, and it is pretty much my default media player at this point. It doesn’t even care about DVD regions (if your drive, itself, doesn’t have a hard-coded check, and they rarely do these days) for those of us who don’t read the websites of online retailers carefully enough when buying a movie.

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But anyway, it’s now at a new major version: VLC 3.0.0 “Vetinari”.

In terms of features, this new version adds HDR and 360 videos, as well as extended support for BluRay discs (BD-Java menus and overlay). That said, it still will not just play any BluRay off the shelf. I tried. It cannot circumvent the required copy protection, so that will need to be taken care of some other way. Hardware acceleration is now enabled by default, so high resolution videos will be easier on systems.

As always, VLC is free. Download away.

Source: VideoLAN

G.Skill Launches 4700 MHz Trident Z RGB DDR4 Memory

Subject: General Tech, Memory | February 11, 2018 - 04:45 PM |
Tagged: G.Skill, Trident Z RGB, ddr4, Samsung, samsung b-die, xmp

G.Skill will soon be upgrading its Trident Z RGB line of DDR4 DIMMs with a 16 GB kit capable of running at 4700 MHz. With the claimed fastest commercial kit of RGB-equipped memory modules, the new 2 x 8 GB kit uses Samsung B-die ICs and supports XMP 2.0 memory profiles. The super-fast memory kit has been in development for quite a while and is slated for availability in Q2 2018.

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G.Skill has managed to tighten the timings on its 4700 MHz kit to CL19-19-19-39 while needing only 1.45V which is nice to see. The company has reportedly validated the new memory using a MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC motherboard and Intel i7 8700k processor. G.Skill notes that the new kit is notable because it is the first retail kit to hit 4700 MHz as well as the first memory kit with RGB LEDs to hit that lofty memory speed. Corsair comes close at 4600 MHz with its 16 GB Vengeance LPX DDR4 kit at 15-15-15-36 which will set you back a cool $589.99 MSRP.

I am curious on the overclocking headroom on these modules actually (heh). G.Skill is reportedly using highly screened B-dies so maybe the 5,000 MHz its other kits have hit (when overclocked) would be possible. I would like to see AMD’s Infinity Fabric performance at that point when it is not being held back by memory speed especially where its upcoming APUs are concerned. On the Intel side of things, I think tighter timings are preferrable (after a certain threshold of acceptable speed of course) when pursuing the best performance so a "slower" 3600 to 4600 MHz kit at CL15 or lower might be a better buy. In any case, memory continues to be pricey, and I would uess G.Skill's new kit will hit at least $600 MSRP.

G.Skill is not yet talking pricing on these modules, but they aren’t going to be cheap. We should know more in a couple of months as we enter the second quarter.

Also read:

Source: G.Skill