Razer HDK2 Is $399 (and Even Less for Some)

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2017 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: VR, razer, osvr

Last night, we reported on Oculus dropping the price of their Rift + Touch being reduced to $399 USD ($549 CDN). In the comments of that story, mLocke, who is a regular in our IRC chat, mentioned that Razer’s HDK2 is also $399. Even better, if you are a developer or involved in an educational institution, you can also apply to receive an addition 20% discount, which would bring the cost down to about $319 USD. There is also something about a “2 for 1 promotion” for academics and researchers, but you need to email them for that.

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That said, the OSVR HDK2 doesn’t come with a controller, unlike the Oculus Rift + Touch. Also, while OSVR is expected to form the basis of OpenXR, because Razer donated the API to the Khronos Group, it doesn’t support as much as Oculus or the HTC Vive. That said, if you’re a developer that only cares about your own content, it works with Unreal Engine 4 and Unity, and you can probably add support to other engines yourself. (Update @ 7:47pm: I just realized that this previous sentence doesn't mean what I intended it to. There's a lot of engines that already support OSVR, including Lumberyard and CryEngine. I meant that if you're working on your own, then the SDK is available as well. I didn't mean that Unity and Unreal Engine were the only ones with available plug-ins.)

So, for a consumer that is torn between both deals, I would probably point you to the Oculus one. If you’re a developer, educator, or researcher, then you might want to reach out to OSVR and see. It might be your best option.

Source: Razer

Does this look infected to you? Google launches a SAMBA app for Android

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2017 - 12:52 PM |
Tagged: wannacrypt, petya, security, samba, smbv1, google, andriod

If you missed out on having all your files encrypted and the chance to send bitcoin to a bunch of misanthropes who have no plans on unencrypting those files after you do, then download this new app from Google Play!  Then you can enable SMBv1 on all your other machines so your Android can share the virus amongst your other machines, perhaps you could even share this unforgettable experience  with your friends and family.  Do you really trust that the patches applied to this outdated network file sharing protocol will protect from the next wave of attacks or will you follow the advice from Microsoft's Ned Pyle that The Register quoted, "Stop using SMBv1".  There are a lot of other ways to share your files, most are even more effective than SMBv1 and are certainly more secure.

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"This made Google's decision so odd, The Register wondered if the app were faking the Google brand, but no: the source code linked from the app is at the Chocolate Factory's GitHub repo."

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Source: The Register
Author:
Manufacturer: Sapphire

Overview

There has been a lot of news lately about the release of Cryptocurrency-specific graphics cards from both NVIDIA and AMD add-in board partners. While we covered the currently cryptomining phenomenon in an earlier article, today we are taking a look at one of these cards geared towards miners.

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It's worth noting that I purchased this card myself from Newegg, and neither AMD or Sapphire are involved in this article. I saw this card pop up on Newegg a few days ago, and my curiosity got the best of me.

There has been a lot of speculation, and little official information from vendors about what these mining cards will actually entail.

From the outward appearance, it is virtually impossible to distinguish this "new" RX 470 from the previous Sapphire Nitro+ RX 470, besides the lack of additional display outputs beyond the DVI connection. Even the branding and labels on the card identify it as a Nitro+ RX 470.

In order to test the hashing rates of this GPU, we are using Claymore's Dual Miner Version 9.6 (mining Ethereum only) against a reference design RX 470, also from Sapphire.

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On the reference RX 470 out of the box, we hit rates of about 21.8 MH/s while mining Ethereum. 

Once we moved to the Sapphire mining card, we move up to at least 24 MH/s from the start.

Continue reading about the Sapphire Radeon RX 470 Mining Edition!

Blender Grease Pencil Preview

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2017 - 08:06 AM |
Tagged: Blender

Blender 2.8x is being dubbed “Workflow” by the Blender Foundation, and 2D animators are included in that. The 3D suite has included a tool, called “Grease Pencil”, for quite some time now, and its purpose was mostly to write notes. Since then, people have been using it for modeling (especially curves) and even 2D animation, which led the Blender Foundation to build it up in that direction.

This could potentially bring Blender more competitive with existing 2D animation software, like Animate CC (the Adobe re-brand of Flash Professional) and other tools. Being a 3D-centric application, it has a lot of interesting features to add to the mix, especially in terms of camera movement. (Animate CC just received a virtual camera in the most recent major version.) It will be interesting to see how comfortable they can make it for novices, because this is one of those areas that there’s not a lot of good free software for learners. (Digital Video and Studio Ghibli released OpenToonz, but it seems... more than a little difficult for newcomers from what I’ve seen.)

Blender 2.8 is supposedly aiming for a SIGGRAPH preview, which starts on July 30th.

Blender glTF 2.0 Exporter Published

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2017 - 07:24 AM |
Tagged: Khronos, gltf, Blender

As we reported about a month ago, The Khronos Group has finalized glTF 2.0, which is a 3D format designed for whole scenes. Since then, Khronos have published an exporter for Blender that implements what appears to be all core features, as well as specular-gloss PBR (Extension), lights (Experimental), “materials common” (Experimental), and “materials displace” (Experimental). It is implemented as a whole bunch of Python scripts.

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Apparently they provide their own PBR shader nodes for Cycles, rather than using the new Disney-based one in Blender 2.79. I’m not sure whether this was to make the export easier, or if development schedules just couldn’t align. Either way, both metallic/roughness and specular/gloss workflows have been provided, so that should make exporting either workflow relatively straight-forward.

Oculus Rift + Touch Short-Term Price Reduction to $399

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: VR, Oculus

For a limited time (UploadVR claims six weeks although I don’t see where that listed on any official source) Oculus has reduced the price of the Rift + Touch VR system from $598 to $399 USD. For us Canadians out there, this translates to $549 CDN, which is about on par with the exchange rate these days. Their hope is to bring VR into the price range of a gaming console, which multi-platform gamers are (obviously, otherwise they wouldn’t be multi-platform) willing to accept.

This also puts it at almost exactly half of the price of the HTC Vive in both countries, which makes for an interesting comparison. They both offer about the same level of hardware, albeit with some minor differences, and Oculus has been pushing quite a bit of exclusive, free content, like Robo Recall. One concern that I have, however, is whether Oculus can maintain stock levels throughout the entire period, since availability was one of the areas that HTC got right, and did so long before Oculus.

The cynic in me also wonders how long it will be before HTC and Oculus VR release their second-generation consumer VR kits. All we’ve heard about from HTC is accessories, like the wireless upgrade kit and the tracker, alongside a Daydream-based standalone unit, which is a much different market than PC VR.

Either way, $399 is quite cheap for what you’re getting, so it seems like a good deal if you're interested.

Source: Oculus

Summer Games Done Quick 2017 Ends Over $1.75 Million

Subject: General Tech | July 9, 2017 - 05:52 PM |
Tagged: gdq, speedrun

After a week of 24-hour streaming, Summer Games Done Quick 2017 came to a close with a four-and-a-half-hour glitchless run of Earthbound. While late donations are still coming in, the current total is $1,776,475.79 USD across 30,065 separate donations from 22039 different people. This benefits Doctors Without Borders.

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2017 has been a record breaking year for Games Done Quick events. The January show, which often outperforms its July counterpart, brought in $2.22 million USD when it seemed like ~$1.2 to $1.5 million is where we were going to settle at. While we didn’t eclipse that this week, it did beat the previous Summer event by over $500,000. Maybe we’re still in a growth period, and 2016 was just unusually low?

I guess we’ll find out on January 7th - 14th for Awesome Games Done Quick 2018.

We need a longer name! Creative's Sound BlasterX Vanguard K08 Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2017 - 01:36 PM |
Tagged: Sound BlasterX Vanguard K08, Creative, mechanical keyboard, Omron, input

It seems almost a pity that the only noise this Sound BlasterX device can make is the clicking of its Omron switches, but the Aurora Reactive Lighting offers a 16.8 million shades of RGB to provide a light show.  TechPowerUp were disappointed by the immature status of the driver, macro functionality was added long after launch and they saw lag when switching between lighting modes which other keyboards do not display. This is Creative's first go at an RGB mechanical keyboard and there are some good features to it, especially if you are a fan of Omron switches so take a look if you find your interest peaked.

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"The Sound BlasterX Vanguard K08 is the first keyboard from Creative and features OMRON mechanical switches, full 16.8M RGB backlighting, dedicated media and macro buttons, and a USB pass-through port. The hardware is supported by their Sound Blaster Connect software driver for lighting customization and performance tweaking."

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Source: TechPowerUp

Sorry SD card users and ReFS fans, OneDrive doesn't like your kind

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2017 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: fat32, ntfs, ReFS, onedrive, microsoft, Win 10, win 8.1

NTFS or get out seems to be Microsoft's new OneDrive policy as if you try to upload files from disks formatted with their FAT32 or ReFS file systems you will be greeted with an error.  This restriction has existed on Windows 8.1 for a while but it is a new twist now offered on the current Win 10 Insiders Edition, which does mean there is hope that it will be removed.  This will have an effect on those who use ultramobile devices which depend on SD cards to extend their storage as well as those who have adopted Microsoft's new Resilient File System.  You could try a non-destructive format of your drive, or move it to an NTFS disk to be able to then upload it.  For more suggestions and a link to a place to vent your spleen you can visit The Register.

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"Microsoft discovered a warning message that should have existed was missing when a user attempted to store their OneDrive folder on a non-NTFS filesystem – which was immediately remedied. Nothing has changed in terms of official support and all OneDrive folders will continue to need to be located on a drive with the NTFS filesystem."

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Source: The Register

Sadly not a NAND gate; even if some of these RAM rumours are false we are in for shortages

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2017 - 12:33 PM |
Tagged: ram, micron, rumour, SK Hynix, toshiba

As is tradition, after we received hopeful news yesterday about Samsung's investing in the expansion of their flash production we now have bad news out of Micron.  DRAMeXchange reported a nitrogen leak in Micron's Taoyuan fab which prompted an evacuation and the possible stillbirth of ~60,000 wafer starts, or about 5.5% cut in the amount of RAM available by the end of the month.  Trendforce also reported the same incident and numbers

Micron has released a statement contradicting these stories, stating that while there was an incident, there was no real impact to the business or to employees.  One hopes that is the more accurate report as that particular Fab produces LPDDR4, which is already in high demand and short supply.  Indeed, another story mentions that SK Hynix and Toshiba's 3D NAND production was well below expectations and that the supply of NAND for iPhones may fall short by as much as 30%.

This would imply that any impact on Micron's RAM production, even if nowhere near the amount mentioned by the press, would have a large effect on the market in the coming quarters.  Samsung will certainly try to capture some of this demand, but the upgrades to their Fabs are still a while off and they are already operating at close to maximum capacity.   Fingers crossed we don't hear bad news from GLOFO tomorrow morning!

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"Micron Technology has issued a statement regarding recent reports about its fabrication facility in Taoyuan, Taiwan. Micron clarified that there was no nitrogen leaking incident nor evacuation of personnel. A minor event did occurred at the facility, but operations are recovering speedily without material impact to the business."

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Source: DigiTimes