Microsoft goes on a bender in Andromeda

Subject: General Tech | October 27, 2017 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, andromeda, foldable

Microsoft have completely abandoned their mobile line which is why they have announced the new prototype Andromeda foldable mobile device.  The foldable eReader-like device will run Win10 on ARM and will take advantage of Windows Ink to allow users to take accurate notes on the touchscreen.  The device is rumoured to have celluar capabilities so it could replace an executives phone, or at least let them leave the laptop at the office.  Unfortunately the announcement left out the most interesting detail, we do not know if the fold is between two seperate screens or if the Andromeda will feature a folding screen.  Hopefully Windows Central will have an updated post soon.

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"Microsoft isn't building this device for your average consumer. If it ever comes to market, and that's a big if, it isn't going to be an iPhone or Android competitor because as Microsoft has publicly claimed in the past, it's just too late for that."

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PCIe 4 specifications arrive

Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2017 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: pcie 4.0

PCI-SIG have announced PCIe 4.0 is on the horizon, with up to 16GT/s or just a hair under 32GB/s transfer rate on a 16x slot.  The new standard will also allow devices to use more power, the draw from the slot remains at 75W but external power should be able to exceed 225W without exceeding the specs.  This could mean GPUs can continue to emphasize performance over power efficiency, which could lead to some interesting products.  There is no specific date for any products to arrive, this announcement is technically for revision 0.9, so it is a not quite ready for prime time.  This may disappoint those who read about the new Optane drives, which are capable of x4 PCIe transfer as opposed to PCIe 4.0.

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"PCI-SIG, the organization responsible for the widely adopted PCI Express (PCIe) industry-standard input/output (I/O) technology, today announced the release of the PCI Express 4.0, Revision 0.9 Specification, supporting 16GT/s data rates, flexible lane width configurations and speeds for high-performance, low-power applications"

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Source: PCI-SIG

Podcast #473 - AMD Q3 Earnings, Forza 7 Performance, Allyn's storage rant, and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2017 - 11:40 AM |
Tagged: xbox one, x370, VROC, video, ROG Strix, podcast, nzxt, forza 7, b350, asus, ARM PSA, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #473 - 10/26/17

Join us for discussion on AMD Q3 Earnings, Forza 7 Performance, Allyn's storage rant, 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: Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, Ken Addison

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:03:33

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. 0:27:25 Allyn’s RAID rant
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. 0:45:55 Allyn: Cinemaps
  4. Closing/outro

 

Source:

Microsoft Now Supports Original Xbox Games On Xbox One

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2017 - 08:33 PM |
Tagged: xbox one x, xbox one s, xbox one, xbox, upscaling, gaming, console, backwards compatible

Microsoft is adding original Xbox games to its backwards compatibility program with 13 games available now with more on the way in spring of next year. Xbox One, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X owners will soon be able to play a curated selection of original Xbox games at higher resolutions and with improved color details.

Microsoft claims that original Xbox games will run with up to four times the pixel count on Xbox One (and One S) and up to 16 times the pixels on Xbox One X. Gamers will be able to use their original Xbox game disc to play or they can purchase the older titles in digital form from the Microsoft Store. Original features like co-op and System Link will work, but there is no Xbox Live service support which means online multiplayer will not work. Further, Microsoft notes that players will not earn any achievements when playing original Xbox games.

The first batch of original Xbox games includes:

  1. BLACK
  2. BloodRayne 2
  3. Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge
  4. Dead to Rights
  5. Fuzion Frenzy
  6. Grabbled by the Ghoulies
  7. King of Fighters Neowave
  8. Ninja Gaiden Black
  9. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
  10. Psychonauts
  11. Red Faction II
  12. Sid Meier's Pirates!
  13. KOTOR (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic)

While I have not played most of those games, I played a ton of Red Faction II with my brother, and fondly remember KOTOR on the PC. The video above shows a comparison between the original KOTOR running on Xbox and the backwards compatible enhanced version of the game running on Xbox One, and the visual difference is impressive (still not as good as it can look on the PC with mods though heh) with the game being significantly sharper with deeper colors (the original Xbox game looks extremely blurry and washed out by comparison).

It is a small list currently, but there are some gems on the launch list, and I am interested to see how the games look running on the Xbox One X. Hopefully the frame rates and loading times can also be improved ;-). As an added bonus Microsoft also pointed out that Xbox Game Pass members can grab Ninja Gaiden Black for free.

Microsoft claims that gamers have spent 700 million hours playing the 400 backwards compatible Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One. There is certainly interest and it seems Microsoft is watching the numbers carefully which will be important for gamers in getting the Redmond-based company to continue adding support for additional classics.

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Source: Microsoft

If you are going to play this game at high resolution it is your Destiny 2 buy a Vega

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2017 - 02:16 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, gaming, destiny 2, amd, 4k, 1440p

In their testing of the new PC port of Destiny 2, The Guru of 3D made some interesting discoveries.  The first is that at 1080p, the game's performance can be somewhat limited by your CPU, but not at 1440p or higher resolutions.  The second finding is the impressive showing of AMD's Vega 64 and 56 at 1440p and 4K, which both outperform the GTX 1080.  It may be that NVIDIA will release an optimized driver and repeat the improvements seen in Forza 7 but for now AMD is in the lead.  

Drop by for their full review.

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"We test that PC enhanced Destiny 2 for Windows relative towards graphics card performance with the latest AMD/NVIDIA graphics card drivers. Multiple graphics cards are being tested and benchmarked. We have a look at performance with the newest graphics cards and technologies."

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Source: Guru of 3D

Epson is quite upset someone is interfering with their license to print money

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2017 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: epson, ebay

Apparently the profits from selling a substance worth more than gold or even the blood in your veins is not enough to enable Epson to survive a bit of competition and so they have demanded eBay remove a long list of compatible cartridges which are sold on that site.  Their claim is based on the proprietary way in which "chip contacts on the cartridges are aligned"; presumably something resembling a single raised finger.  HP tried a similar approach a year ago, adding DRM to their printers and ink cartridges which prevented refilled or third party cartridges from working.  They also included an expiry date in the DRM, so even a full authentic cartridge would have to be replaced after a set date.  This did not go well for them and they reversed their policy after a public outcry.  You can read more about HP, Epson and the price of your blood over at The Inquirer

For now it continues to be more economical to toss your Epson printer out when an ink cartridge runs dry than to replace it with a full one.

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"EPSON HAS become the latest printer company to attempt a ban on third-party printer cartridges, asking eBay to issue takedown notices for sellers under the site's VeRO programme."

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Source: The Inquirer

Cryptonight mining with Chrome

Subject: General Tech | October 24, 2017 - 01:14 PM |
Tagged: cryptonight, chrome, mining, security

Have you noticed your Chrome sessions are using a lot more CPU power now than they used to and you have installed the Short URL (goo.gl) extension recently?  Congratulations, you are a cryptocurrency miner!  It seems some ne'r-do-well managed to infect the server which provides that app with a mining program called Cryptonight which enlists your browser into mining XMR coins.  For now your best bet is to uninstall that application if you have it installed; it has been removed from Google Play if you do not.  The Register has a bit more information on Cryptonight as well as some history on similar browser miners here.

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"Another Chrome extension has been found secretly harboring a cryptocurrency miner – and it appears this issue is going to get worse before it gets better."

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Source: The Register

All you need to know about Windows 10's Controlled Folder Access

Subject: General Tech | October 23, 2017 - 04:27 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, security, windows defender

One feature of the Fall Creator's Update which has not seen much coverage is the new Controlled Folder Access security setting under Windows Defender Security Center.  It is enabled for system files automatically, blocking the ability for all but approved apps from making changes to the files in your system folders.  You can also add additional folders as well as approved applications by following the simple instructions which Slashdot linked to.  The primary goal is to prevent ransomware's ability to encrypt vast swaths of folders on your machine but it will also help protect folders you choose from being modified by applications you have not approved.

WCFA-Step2.png

"With the release of Windows 10 Fall Creators Update last week, the "Controlled Folder Access" that Microsoft touted in June is now live for millions of users. As the name hints, the Controlled Folder Access feature allows users to control who can access certain folders."

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Source: Slashdot

Adobe Publishes "Sneaks" Clips from Adobe MAX 2017

Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2017 - 05:13 PM |
Tagged: Adobe

One of the highlights of the Adobe MAX show is their Sneaks segment, where they show off cute demos from their research labs. Some, but not all of these end up in future products. They can be related to any product category, from audio editing to photo touch up to video. This one was hosted by Kumail Nanjiani, a comedian and actor on HBO’s Silicon Valley, and Paul Trani of Adobe.

For a complete list, check out their blog post, but I’ll highlight some that interest me.

First, Project Cloak is like content-aware fill, but for video. Using a command-line tool, because research projects are research projects, the algorithm follows a mask as it moves over time. It then performs content-aware fill on this mask, and it does so in a way that tries to look natural from frame-to-frame. About two-thirds of the way through the clip, you see a backpack strap be removed, even as lighting conditions change throughout the environment. They then remove the whole people from the scene because why not.

Second, Project Sidewinder allows 3D VR video to be viewed from slightly different angles. If you play PC games, then you will probably notice the effect devolve like parallax occlusion mapping does, but that’s not its goal. The human brain tracks the tiny movements of the head and uses it to build a 3D environment in our mind. Since these movements are tiny, it should stay within the believable tolerance and enhance the immersion... from a stationary, pre-recorded camera.

Third, Project Scene Stitch. This one looks very practical, and it seems like something Adobe will want to roll out. Content-aware fill is an algorithm that looks at your selection, tries to find other places on the image that is compatible, and pastes from there into the fill. Project Scene Stitch is similar, except that it crawls through Adobe Stock (using their Adobe Sensei deep-learning algorithm) to find parts of other images that are compatible. They joke about how it breaks down in certain situations, but I could definitely see this being a part of their Adobe Stock push going forward.

Source: Adobe

Come on baby, IoT fear the reaper

Subject: General Tech | October 20, 2017 - 02:24 PM |
Tagged: security, Reaper, iot

There is another IoT botnet running rampant, with several million devices already infected inside over a million businesses and homes, according to the report over at The Inquirer.  Experts are expecting the IoT_reaper to be worse than Mirai once it is activated as it is far more sophisticated than that botnet.  Some time in the near future you can expect serious issues as routers, IP cameras and fridges start launching DDoS attacks.  There is little that you can do at this point apart from ensuring your devices are patched and the firmware is up to date.  You can get an idea of the scope of this botnet by following the link in the story.

ThreatCloud-Global-Network.png

"Check Point first unearthed the botnet, codenamed 'IoT_reaper', at the beginning of September and claims that, since, it's already enslaved millions of IoT devices including routers and IP cameras from firms including GoAhead, D-Link, TP-Link, Avtech, Netgear, MikroTik, Linksys and Synology."

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Source: The Inquirer