DIY self driving car; what could possibly go wrong!

Subject: General Tech | December 2, 2016 - 07:59 PM |
Tagged: DIY, self driving car, comma.ai, geohot

George Hotz, aka [Geohot], created the comma.ai program in an effort to create and sell a program to control self driving cars.  The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration took offence to this, citing the possibility of this endangering humans in a letter sent to his company Comma.Ai.  He shut down the project rather than having to deal with lawyers, red tape and regulations.  The code survived however and is now available on GitHub.  Hack a Day took a look and discovered it is written in Python with some C included and is rather easy to interpret if you are familiar with the language.  It is compatible with Acura ILXs or Honda Civic 2016 Touring models, if you are so inclined.

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"First there was [Geohot]’s lofty goal to build a hacker’s version of the self-driving car. Then came comma.ai and a whole bunch of venture capital. After that, a letter from the Feds and a hasty retreat from the business end of things. The latest development? comma.ai’s openpilot project shows up on GitHub!"

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Source: Hack a Day

Razer Joins The Khronos Group

Subject: General Tech | December 2, 2016 - 05:58 AM |
Tagged: VR, razer, osvr, Khronos

The Khronos Group is the standards body that maintains OpenGL, Vulkan, OpenCL, along with several other APIs and formats. They are made up of several members, which include companies of various sizes along with educational institutions, with a couple of tiers where members of the higher level, Promoter, get board nomination rights.

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The lower level, Contributor, has just received a new member: Razer. The Khronos Group published a little statement to their front page, but didn’t provide a way to permanently link it and the Read More just directs to Razer’s homepage. Also, Razer didn’t provide a press release on their website, at least by the time this news was published, so I included the statement below to prevent it from getting buried in a few days:

The Khronos Group is proud to announce that Razer has joined as a Contributor Member. Razer is a world leader in connected devices and software for gamers. Its award-winning design and technology span systems, peripherals, audio and wearable technologies. Razer co-founded OSVR, an open-source platform that integrates VR, AR and mixed reality hardware and software APIs that support a universal VR ecosystem.

Based on this, it’s easy to speculate that Razer is looking to have a say and a vote in how graphics APIs evolve, nudging it as needed for OSVR, their co-founded virtual reality platform. Basically every other VR developer worth mentioning is already a member, including Google, Microsoft, Oculus VR, Samsung, Sony, and Valve. Likewise, Vulkan is undergoing rapid development, and the next version, codenamed Vulkan Next, has VR as one of its “top priorities”. It seems like a good time for Razer to get involved.

Otherwise? Not much to speak of here. Razer is a fairly big company that wants to be active in technology development, and it can easily afford the Khronos Group membership fee. I mean, the amount they spent on USB ports with a specific shade of green would cover about twenty years of membership to the Khronos Group, so it seems within their reach.

Shhh, no input lag, only Dream Machines' DM Pro S

Subject: General Tech | December 1, 2016 - 08:14 PM |
Tagged: gaming mouse, input, dream machines, DM Pro S

The Dream Machines DM1 PRO S gaming mouse uses a Pixart PMW 3360 optical sensor, not one commonly utilized in the market.  The DPI of the sensor can be toggled in set increments from 400 up to 12000, with the colour of the light under the logo indicating your current setting; the lack of software precludes manipulation of those presets.  The overall design of the mouse looks ambidextrous, however there are only thumb buttons on the left side of the mouse.  TechPowerUp were very impressed with the performance of the new sensor, as to the rest of the features you will just have to pop over and read them yourself.

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"A few months ago, we reviewed the Dream Machines DM1 PRO, and Dream Machines is now back with the DM1 PRO S. This version has an updated sensor, has been slimmed down to be even lighter, and has a rather nice glossy finish. Improvements, which could be a game changer."

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Source: TechPowerUp

T'is the season to write gift guides, tra la la la la ...

Subject: General Tech | December 1, 2016 - 07:24 PM |
Tagged: gift guide, holiday gift guide

Ryan has started cracking the whip but we haven't quite assembled our picks for the Christmas season so for now you can check out what the gang at The Tech Report has on offer.  As you might expect, the HTC Vive appears but you might not have suspected that a pressure cooker and sous-vide machine are on their list.  There is a lot more in the way of recommendations, from a CPU delidder to a projector or a 55" 4K TV with HDR if you are more of a traditionalist.  Hide your credit cards and check out the whole list.

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"The TR staff knows just how hard it can be to find the right gift to please the nerd in your life, so we've compiled a list of the items we've used and enjoyed over the past year. If you're stuck on what to buy for your favorite techie this holiday season, maybe we can help."

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Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: AUKEY

Introduction and First Impressions

Aukey, a prominent seller of mobile accessories on Amazon, has an interesting product for PC enthusiasts: an RGB mechanical gaming keyboard for $59.99. The price is definitely right, but is it any good? We’ll take a look!

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“The AUKEY KM-G3 mechanical keyboard takes the gaming experience to a new level. Tactile, responsive mechanical keys put you in control for an outstanding typing or gaming experience. The KM-G3 offers preloaded multi-color RGB backlit lighting effects and patterns. Ideal for FPS, CF, COD, LOL and Racing games - Just use the Function key to easily switch between gaming presets.”

The KM-G3 keyboard is a standard 104-key design, using blue switches (presumably a generic switch as no brand is listed), and there is RGB lighting which can be cycled between various colors and patterns, or switched off if desired. Aukey is also offering a 2-year warranty on the keyboard, which should help allay any fear about a purchase.

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Continue reading our review of the AUKEY KM-G3 RGB mechanical gaming keyboard!

Serious Sam VR, now with tag teaming NVIDIA cards

Subject: General Tech | November 30, 2016 - 08:31 PM |
Tagged: serious sam vr, nvidia, gaming, pascal

Having already looked at AMD's performance with two RX 480's in a system, the recent patch which enables support for multiple NVIDIA GPUs have dragged [H]ard|OCP back into the game.  Lacking a pair of Titan X cards, they tested the performance of a pair of GTX 1080s and 1070s; the GTX 1060 will not be receiving support from Croteam.  It would seem that adding a second Pascal card to your system will benefit you, however the scaling they saw was nowhere near as impressive as with the AMD RX 480 which saw a 36% boost.  Check out the full results here and yes ... in this case the m in mGPU indicates multiple GPUs, not mobile.

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"Serious Sam VR was the first commercial enthusiast gaming title to include multi-GPU support with AMD's RX 480 GPU. Now the folks at Croteam have added mGPU support for NVIDIA cards as well. We take a look at how well NVIDIA's VRSLI technology fares in this VR shooter title."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Friends don't let friends perform unattended updates ... or Bitlocker be broken

Subject: General Tech | November 30, 2016 - 07:10 PM |
Tagged: bitlocker, microsoft, windows 10, security, hack

Is Bitlocker cramping your voyeuristic cravings and preventing you from snooping on your loved ones or strangers?  Assuming you do not instead seek medical help for your problem, all you need to do is wait for Windows to perform a version update and for the user to get bored and walk away.  Hop onto their machine and press SHIFT+F10 to get a command prompt which will be running at root privileges and take advantage of the fact that Windows disables Bitlocker while installing an updated version of Windows.  This will not work for all updates, it needs to be a major OS update such as the move to Anniversary Edition which changes the version of Windows installed on the machine.

Microsoft is working on a fix, in the meantime sticking with Windows Long Term Service Branch or slighly modifying how updates are pushed via WSUS or SCCM will ensure this vulnerability cannot be leveraged.  You can also take the simple measure of sticking around when major updates occur.  Pop over to Slashdot for more information.

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"This [update procedure] has a feature for troubleshooting that allows you to press SHIFT + F10 to get a Command Prompt," Laiho writes on his blog. "The real issue here is the Elevation of Privilege that takes a non-admin to SYSTEM (the root of Windows) even on a BitLocker (Microsoft's hard disk encryption) protected machine." Laiho informed Microsoft of the issue and the company is apparently working on a fix."

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Source: Slashdot

A handcrafted and possibly artisinal CPU with a 15m die size

Subject: General Tech | November 29, 2016 - 06:23 PM |
Tagged: megaprocessor, DIY, neat

The Megaprocessor is a working CPU which is blown up in size to allow you to walk into it to watch how data is physically processed with your own eyes.  There are 8,500 LED's in the core and another 2,048 for the memory which light up as data passes through the 15,300 transistors in the core and the memory's 27,000; though that total count includes the transistors which control the LEDs.  The core's clock is a staggering 25kHz and there is 256 bytes of both RAM and ROM.  The site actually provides you with the assembly language to write code for the processor if you are interested and you can visit the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge, England to see it in person.  Drop by The Register for a quick look and for links to the project page for more details on the computer and build process, including a murderous vacuum cleaner.

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"His ultimate goal other than the pure satisfaction of building the thing and getting it running, as El Reg reported in June this year, was to show the public how computers work by blowing the CPU up to a human-viewable scale."

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Source: The Register

I’m Going To Build My Own Netflix With Pi and Plex

Subject: General Tech | November 28, 2016 - 06:44 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi 3, plex, pandora, Netflix

***This is your own personal Netflix seeing as how you are no longer able to access Netflix on "unofficial" devices.  Check the comments for great info.**

Over at Linux.com you can find instructions on making a very inexpensive headless Plex Media Server.  You will need a working PC to start up the installation by formatting an SD card and setting it up with NOOBS.  A little configuration work on the Pi, linking it to your locally stored video libraries and online content such as CNN and Netflix and you have a media centre ready for use, for well under $100.  Maybe you could consider making one as a gift for someone deserving.  The full instructions and parts list can be found here.

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"No, you don’t have to buy an expensive, bulky PC. All you need is a Raspberry Pi 3, a hard drive, an SD card and a mobile charger. It should all cost less than $100."

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Source: Linux.com

Ubisoft Offers One Free New Game with Eligible Purchase

Subject: General Tech | November 26, 2016 - 11:49 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, ubisoft, ea, bethesda

The Ubisoft store is offering the standard edition of either The Division, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, Rainbow Six: Siege, or Far Cry Primal when you purchase (or pre-order) another, participating title. These other games aren’t just from Ubisoft, though. They also include new releases from EA, Bethesda, and SquareEnix, such as Battlefield 1 (which still requires Origin) and Skyrim: Special Edition.

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This is interesting for two reasons. First, and most obvious, if you really want one of the four titles and one of the applicable ones, then it might be cheaper than buying them individually (although you should check for sales elsewhere first).

The second point regards how the various publishers are handling Steam’s dominance in the PC space. EA is now even participating their titles, which are not available on Valve’s service, in promotions from stores owned by other competitors. Meanwhile, it seems like Bethesda is happy putting their stock wherever, and they will even discount games by a third or a half if it aligns with a big Steam Sale. Then we get Ubisoft, who has their own store, but also lists on Steam and does fairly good sales there, too.

Anyway, the sale is running until the 27th. As I said earlier, though, be sure that any combination of game that interests you is actually cheaper than their respective sale price at competing stores before buying.

Source: Ubisoft