ARM's new security focused Cortex R-52 for IoT

Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2016 - 01:20 PM |
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.

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"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."

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Source: The Inquirer

Netflix's Meridian, an open source benchmark disguised as a original program

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2016 - 12:45 PM |
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.

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"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."

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Source: Slashdot

All Battlefield 4 Expansion Packs Are Now Free

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2016 - 05:39 PM |
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.

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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.

Source: EA

A wee little wireless mouse and keyboard combo from Razer, the Turret

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2016 - 01:32 PM |
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.

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"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..."

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The artisanal homebrew router faces a new challenge

Subject: General Tech, Networking | September 16, 2016 - 12:27 PM |
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.

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"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."

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Source: Ars Technica

Valve Changes Its Review System on Steam

Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2016 - 09:56 PM |
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.

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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.

Logitech Purchases Saitek from Mad Catz

Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2016 - 07:34 PM |
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.

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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.

Source: Mad Catz

Microsoft Desktop App Converter Now in Windows Store

Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2016 - 06:21 PM |
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.

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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.

MSI Celebrates 30th Anniversary in Style, a limited edition GTX 1080

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 15, 2016 - 02:51 PM |
Tagged: RGB, msi, GTX 1080, EKWB, factory overclocked

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MSI has just turned 30 and to help you join in the festivities they've released a custom GTX 1080 for purchase.  It uses an EK Predator Liquid Cooling Unit, the card is fully covered by a waterblock and a radiator and fan are already attached.  The card comes in a wooden box as a keepsake.

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The card is still two slots high and the GPU is overclocked somewhat, the boost is 1860 MHz.  In addition to the 30th Anniversary and MSI logos on the card, there are of course RGB lights which offer 16.8 million colours controlled by the MSI Gaming App.

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You can check out the full press release here, or the product page here.  Once we spot it on Amazon, Newegg and B&H we will update this post with links and prices.

 

Source: MSI

Podcast #417 - Maximus VIII Forumla, MoCA adapters, GFE logins and more!!

Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2016 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: VR, video, tesla, Silverstone, podcast, nvidia, msi, MoCA, Maximus VIII Formula, MasterLiquid, holodeck, GFE, geforce experience, euclideon, cooler master, asus, actiontec

PC Perspective Podcast #417 - 09/15/16

Join us this week as we discuss the Maximus VIII Forumla, MoCA adapters, GFE logins 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, Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath and Jeremy Hellstrom

Program length: 1:36:39
  1. Week in Review:
  2. This episode is brought to you by Casper! (Use code “pcper”)
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  5. Closing/outro