Microsoft won't teach an old, or possibly deceased dog new tricks

Subject: General Tech | March 31, 2017 - 12:45 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, server 2003, security

Microsoft is once again putting sales ahead of customer security, although it is for a 10 to 14 year old operating system which they officially pulled the plug on almost two years ago.  Sadly the end of support did not have any impact on the infrastructure budget allocations of tens of thousands of businesses and so Server 2003 remained in use.  Security researchers spotted an attack last year which exploits a vulnerability in IIS WebDAV which will allow a buffer overflow attack to succeed.  Predictably Microsoft's answer is that you should buy a brand new server OS, with hardware upgrade costs likely to be required as well.  Thankfully there is a patch available from a third party, which you can check out over at The Register

It is a dream, but perhaps this might convince some bean counters that an infrastructure upgrade might be a reasonable investment.

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"Microsoft will not patch a critical security hole recently found and exploited in IIS 6 on Windows Server 2003 R2 – the operating system it stopped supporting roughly two years ago."

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Source: The Register

Today Is Palmer Luckey's Last Day at Facebook / Oculus

Subject: General Tech | March 31, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: oculus vr, Oculus, facebook

Almost exactly two months after ZeniMax won a $500 million USD judgement against Oculus, subject to appeal, of course, co-founder Palmer Luckey will leave the company. As expected, Facebook isn’t commenting on who initiated this departure because of their corporate policy, and it would be inappropriate and unprofessional for a company to do so (except in certain circumstances).

Their official message, via UploadVR, is as follows:

Palmer will be dearly missed. Palmer’s legacy extends far beyond Oculus. His inventive spirit helped kickstart the modern VR revolution and helped build an industry. We’re thankful for everything he did for Oculus and VR, and we wish him all the best.

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Brendan Iribe, another co-founder and former CEO of Oculus VR, is still at the company as far as we know. Last we heard, through his blog post on the company’s website, he’s moved to an internal team that focuses on their PC initiatives: the Rift, research, and computer vision.

For now, it’s somewhat unclear how the company is structured. John Carmack is supposedly still the CTO, but I don’t think Facebook has found anyone to replace Brendan Iribe as CEO yet. Today’s departure leaves another vacant hole, although, according to Tom Forsyth’s joke tweet, his title was “Palmer” and thus his role will likely be retired. Who knows? If your name just happens to be Palmer, then maybe you can apply for it.

Source: UploadVR

Can you break the WASD CODE?

Subject: General Tech | March 30, 2017 - 03:44 PM |
Tagged: input, WASD Keyboards, CODE, Cherry MX, mechanical keyboard

WASD Keyboards have introduced the CODE, a keyboard for those that take their key bashing seriously.  The CODE comes in a wide variety of forms, there are 104, 87, and 61 key models and you have a choice of Cherry MX Brown, Blue, Clear, or Green switches, it even includes a USB to PS/2 adapter for those who have a preference for the old connector.  In TechPowerUp's eyes it is unfortunate that they chose sculpted keycaps as it prevents you from swapping in your own favourite ones, unless you switch them all.  Putting aside that quibble, the other customization options which they WASD CODE offers are rather impressive; if you are particular about your typing devices you should check out the full review.

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"The CODE keyboard is a collaboration between a keyboard manufacturing company and a famous software developer, making it designed with one thing in mind - lots of typing. Offering rare Cherry MX Green and MX Clear switches, and dip switches to toggle between pre-programmed keyboard layouts, the CODE is built to last and built to code on."

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Source: TechPowerUp

Intel is proud of its tiny sized FinFET

Subject: General Tech | March 30, 2017 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: Intel, 14nm, 14 nm FinFET

At Intel's Technology and Manufacturing Day event in San Francisco there was a lot of talk about how Intel's 14nm process technology compares to the 16nm, 14nm, and 10nm offerings of their competitors.  Investors and enthusiasts are curious if Intel can hold their lead in process tech as Samsung seems to be on track to release chips fabbed on 10nm process before Intel will.  Intel rightly pointed out that not all process tech is measured the same way and that pitch measurements give only one part of the picture; meaning Samsung might not actually be smaller than them.

The Tech Report were present at that meeting and have written up an in depth look at what Intel means when they dispute the competitions claims, as well as their rationale behind their belief that the 14nm node still has a lot of life left in it.

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"As process sizes grow smaller and smaller, Intel believes that the true characteristics of those technology advances are being clouded by an over-reliance on a single nanometer figure. At its Technology and Manufacturing Day this week, the company defended its process leadership and proposed fresh metrics that could more accurately describe what a given process is capable of."

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Move Over Nintendo Power GLove!

Subject: General Tech | March 29, 2017 - 09:04 PM |
Tagged: CaptoGlove, AR, VR, gaming, controller, bluetooth 4.0, BTLE 4.0, glove

There’s a new sheriff in town!  The jauntily named “CaptoGlove” promises to be a true game and VR controller in a handy glove.  Originally developed some five years ago by an Italian air force pilot for his recovering father, he has continued development of the unit so it is actually a useful game controller with a precise 3D space positioning system.  Codeveloped with the Reusch group in Italy, the CaptoGlove looks to be a pretty polished piece of gaming equipment useful in a wide variety of applications.

The glove features 10 degrees of freedom and a variety of potential actuations.  The glove caries about 10 hours of charge and can be quickly recharged.  It features Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0 connectivity.  It is essentially plug and play and the user can assign functions to the different fingers.

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It is a somewhat stylish looking product, which is not surprising given that Reusch has been making sporting gloves for some 80 years.  The material looks robust and should last a long, long time.  There are no details about replacing the battery, in fact many of the specifications about the glove are still unknown.  It does look to be a pretty dextrous implementation that supersedes products coming before it.

This glove is on Kickstarter and they have almost achieved their goal in the past 6 days.  A single glove will be $160 through the Kickstarter and a pair will run $299.  The highest level includes two extra sensors that allow even more precision with gaming and VR/AR, but that comes at a steep $599.

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The gloves have been tested with all kinds of games and functionality is good.  The videos that CaptoGlove show off have decent performance and accuracy in many titles.  Currently there is no force feedback enabled nor announced.  This is not to say that it won’t show up in the future, but this first generation consumer product still has plenty of functionality to keep people interested.

AR/VR applications show the most promise for CaptoGlove.  It has been tested with all of the major projects out there and seems to work fine.  I will be very curious how well it works in applications like Tilt Brush!  If eventually they make a haptic version of the glove, it could be a killer application for it.

The Kickstart continues for the next 25 days and there are still many interesting bundles to be had.

Planescape: Torment, the 'it just works version'

Subject: General Tech | March 29, 2017 - 03:03 PM |
Tagged: gaming, planescape, GOG

Planescape: Torment is an RPG that has a special place in a lot of peoples memories as one of the games stood out as being the best example of its genre.  GOG have sold it for a while now, allowing people to revist the game or experience what exactly it is all the older gamers are reminiscing about.  The problem has been that in order to make it run on newer machines with screens with resolutions somewhat better than 640x480 you needed to apply a lot of mods and hope for a bit of luck as things would often go horribly wrong.  Today the Beamdog Enhanced Edition was announced, though places like Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN have already had a chance to play it.

The graphics are upscaled to the resolution of your desktop but not overly polished so you will definitely notice this is not a modern game.  On the other hand the quests are still there and it is not like many recent games feature a tour through the Outer Planes?  You can grab it at GOG for 30% off if you already own the original, or pay $20 otherwise.  You should also check out the changelog RPS captured from the webpage, there are some rather amusing notes found within for those who have played the game before.

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"Not played PST before? PSTEE is all the invitation you need. Native high-res support, scaleable UI, a few helping hands and most of all it just works. Played PST before? Well, like me, the last time round you probably did it modded, and as such PSTEE, though a smoother ride, won’t feel particularly revelatory. If it’s your first time back since 1999, however, rest assured that it treats your memories well."

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Get ready to meet your Creator. The next major Win10 update draws nigh

Subject: General Tech | March 29, 2017 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: windows 10

Ars Technica takes you on a walk through the upcoming Creators Update for Windows 10, which will start being installed on machines in just under two weeks.  Starting with the good, there are some interesting new features, such as Edge now being able to display EPUB titles natively even if you will not have the ability to mark up those pages as you can websites.  It also sees the inclusion of Windows Holographic API, though as of yet nothing apart from MSPaint seems to benefit from this addition.  Game Mode will also appear for users, with support for both win32 and UWP applications, though you will have to adjust settings in the non-UWP to enable the new feature.

There is a long list of other changes, for both better and worse, which you can check out in the full article.

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"The next big update to Windows 10 is nearly upon us: Windows 10 version 1703, known as the Creators Update, will be published to Windows Update next Patch Tuesday, on April 11th."

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Source: Ars Technica

Tencent Purchases 5% of Tesla Motors

Subject: General Tech | March 29, 2017 - 03:04 AM |
Tagged: tesla, tencent

Five percent of Tesla Motors has just been purchased by Tencent Holdings Limited. For our audience, this could be interesting in two ways. First, Tesla Motors is currently home to Jim Keller, who designed several CPUs architectures at AMD and Apple, including AMD’s K8, Apple’s A4 and A5, and AMD’s recent Zen. Second, Tencent has been purchasing minority chunks of several companies, including almost half of Epic Games, five percent of Activision Blizzard, and a few others, but the move into automotive technologies is somewhat new for them.

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From Tesla’s perspective, Tencent could be strong leverage into the Chinese market. In fact, Elon Musk tweeted to Bloomberg Business that they are glad to have Tencent “as an investor and advisor. Clearly, this means that they consider Tencent to be, in some fashion, an adviser for the company.

Personally, I’m curious how Tencent will affect the energy side of the company, including their subsidiary, SolarCity. I don’t really have anything to base this on, since it’s just as “out of left field” for Tencent as automotive technologies, but it’s something I’ll be occasionally glancing at none-the-less.

Source: Ars Technica

Dubai Future Accelerator Program Backs zSpace

Subject: General Tech | March 28, 2017 - 09:54 PM |
Tagged: zspace, VR, AR

A few weeks ago, we posted about an education company that joined the Khronos Group’s OpenXR Working Group for VR and AR APIs. As I mentioned at the time, I have a personal interest in education technologies, due in part to my background before joining PC Perspective. While the education field is in need of more than just technology, companies like zSpace are building infrastructure to deliver information in new and more varied ways, which will hopefully reach more students (and reach the rest more deeply).

As for the news: after the previous post, zSpace followed up to let us know that they’ve been accepted into the Dubai Future Accelerators (DFA) program. This is a fairly large (hundreds of millions of dollars, USD) investment fund that primarily focuses on their amount of innovation. The fund has a handful of “challenge” areas, such as health and water / electricity, that are considered for the “public good” and thus eligible. I’m guessing zSpace qualified under “Knowledge and Human Development Authority” but their press release doesn’t elaborate.

Previously accepted companies, according to Forbes, are Honeywell and Hyperloop.

I'm not sure how much of our audience is focused in the education / IT sector, so let us know in the comments if you found this follow-up relevant to you. (PC Perspective allows anonymous comments, so you don't have to jump through too many hoops to leave your opinion.)

Source: zSpace

Teasing a little information out of AMD about Vega

Subject: General Tech | March 28, 2017 - 01:04 PM |
Tagged: amd, Vega, rumour, HBM2

The Inquirer have posted a tiny bit of information about AMD's upcoming Vega and as any rumours about the new GPU are hard to find it is the best we have at the moment.  AMD's claim is that the second generation HBM present on the 4GB and 8GB models could offer equivalent memory bandwidth to a GTX 1080 Ti, which makes perfect sense.  The GTX 1080 Ti offers 484 GB/s of memory bandwidth while AMD's R9 series first generation HBM offers 512 GB/s.  The real trick is filling that pipeline to give AMD's HBM2 based cards a chance to shine and which depends on software developers as much as it does the hardware.  As well, The Inquirer discusses the possible efficiency advantages that Vega will have, which could result in smaller cards as well as an effective mobile product.  Pop over to take a look at the current rumours, here is hoping we can provide more detailed information in the near future.

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"AMD HAS TEASED more information about its forthcoming Vega-based graphics cards, revealing that they will come with either 4GB or 8GB memory and hinting that a launch is imminent."

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Source: The Inquirer