Subject: General Tech, Networking | September 16, 2016 - 12:27 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft fiddles results to show Edge is 'better' than Opera and Chrome @ The Inquirer
- Xiaomi Can Silently Install Any App On Your Android Phone Using A Backdoor @ Slashdot
- Apple Japan Unit Ordered To Pay $118M Tax For Underreporting Income @ Slashdot
- 10 GNOME Shell Extensions You Should Be Using @ Linux.com
- Chrome and Firefox are blocking access to The Pirate Bay @ The InquirerE
- NikKTech & Alphacool AIO Global Giveaway
Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2016 - 09:56 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2016 - 07:34 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2016 - 06:21 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 15, 2016 - 02:51 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: RGB, msi, GTX 1080, EKWB, factory overclocked
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.
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.
Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2016 - 01:58 PM | Ryan Shrout
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!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath and Jeremy Hellstrom
Week in Review:
This episode is brought to you by Casper! (Use code “pcper”)
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2016 - 12:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: t-mobile, hack, net neutrality
This probably won't last long, so try it out now if you want or just laugh at the way telco providers completely ignore net neutrality while the debate rages on in courts and government. It seems that T-Mobile does not count any data used in a speed test against your monthly bill, likely because customers on limited data might become quite irate at a T-Mobile tech blowing through their monthly data. A bright young kid has found a way to take advantage of this, he discovered any media sent from any folder labelled "/speedtest" will not count against monthly data limits and set up a proxy to allow anyone take advantage of this feature.
Drop by Slashdot for more information as well as their usual reasoned and well thought our discussion below the story, which may or may not contain numerous other ways to circumvent providers attempts at hiding the ways they circumvent their own billing for data usage.
"Ajit writes that he then created a proxy server that allows users to access any site with this method. All a T-Mobile user has to do is go to this page and input any URL they want to visit. "Just like that, I now had access to data throughout the T-Mobile network without maintaining any sort of formal payments or contract," Ajit wrote on Medium. "Just my phone's radios talking to the network's radios, free of any artificial shackles."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Dell XPS 13 refresh boasts Kaby Lake internals and 22-hour battery life @ The Inquirer
- Did you know iOS 10, macOS Sierra has a problem with crappy VPNs? You do now @ The Register
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 14, 2016 - 09:55 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: rtg, radeon technologies group, Polaris, crimson, amd radeon, amd
It has now been a year since the formation of AMD’s Radeon Technologies Group and the graphics driven division has proven itself rather successful. Looking back with hindsight, AMD's new graphics division has enjoyed several wins with new products and advancements in driver support reclaiming market share from NVIDIA and new initiatives advancing VR, HDR, and open source visual effects.
Specifically, the Radeon Technologies Group, led by Raja Koduri, has managed to launch its new "Polaris" graphics architecture based on a 14nm FinFET process with the RX 400 series for consumers and the Radeon Pro Duo, Radeon Pro WX series, and Radeon Pro SSG (Solid State Graphics) for professionals. The company asl hit a milestone on FreeSync monitor design wins with a total of 101 displays launched to date.
Along with actual hardware, the graphics division has shaken up branding by rolling out new driver software under the Radeon Crimson Edition brand (with 21 driver releases since release) and dropping FirePro in favor of carrying over the Radeon name to create new Radeon Pro branding for its professional series of graphics cards. Driver support has also been enhanced on Linux and the AMDGPU-Pro driver works for RX 400 series.
Further, the Radeon Technologies Group launched its GPUOpen initiative back in December to foster the creation and advancement of free and open source visual effects and productivity code that developers are free to download, modify, and share.
Speaking of market share, AMD has managed to claw back some discrete GPU market share from a lowly 18% of GPUs in Q2 2015 to nearly 30% last quarter (Q2'16). That is a very respectable jump in just a year's time especially against NVIDIA's successful Pascal launches helped both by the price/performance of RX 400 as well as much needed focus on improving driver quality and timeliness of releases.
Where does this leave AMD and its RTG? Honestly, the graphics division is in a much better place than it was last year and it is in a decent position to survive and make a difference. There are still many unknowns and just as AMD's processor division is dependent on a successful Zen release, the graphics division will need Vega to be a hit in order for AMD to get wins on the high end and compete with NVIDIA on the flagship and performance fronts. They will further need Vega to update their professional series of cards many of which are still using the company's Fiji architecture which is not as power efficient as Pascal or future Volta (the competition).
With that said, the team had solid wins since their formation and are gearing up for the future. According to the announcement, the Radeon Technologies Group will be focusing on pushing virtual reality (VR) and HDR (high dynamic range) in gaming by working with developers, improving drivers, adding to their GPUOpen software collection, and launching new products.
From the press release:
"We’re passionate about perfecting pixels and delivering an unrivaled gaming experience for our community, and uncompromising power and creative freedom for developers and content creators. And if you think our first year was exciting, wait until you see what RTG has lined up for the future."
In the near future, Raja Koduri told Venture Beat to expect VR backpacks to be on show at CES in January and to look out for mobile Polaris graphics cards. Also, Radeon Crimson Edition may be incorporating features from recently acquired startup HiAlgo who developed software to dynamically monitor gameplay and adjust the resolution to maintain maximum frame rates and prevent overheating during long game sessions. One of their techniques called HiAlgo Switch would allow gamers to switch from full to half resolution (and back again) at the press of a hot-key button so as to keep FPS high if a gamer anticipates they are about to enter a demanding area that would normally result in low frame rates. While these techniques are not very important for desktop gaming (especially the CPU/GPU limiter to prevent overheating), all three would come in handy for mobile gamers using laptops with discrete cards or especially APUs.
I am looking forward to seeing where Raja and the RTG team go from here and what they have in store for AMD graphics.
Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2016 - 02:16 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: frame rating, deus ex: mankind divided, dx12, gaming
Just as we do here at PC Perspective, The Tech Report relies on rating frame times to provide accurate benchmarks as opposed to the raw number of frames per second a card provides. This means that their look at the new DX12 patch for Deus Ex focuses on different data which does not produce the same results as FRAPs would. This shows in their results, switching to DX12 results in much longer frame times in Deus Ex, with many spikes and a significant amount of frames that take more than 50ms to refresh. Drop by to see their full look here.
"An early version of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided's DirectX 12 rendering path is available now, and many sites and AMD itself are already producing average FPS numbers using that software. We go inside the second to see what the real story is."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided - PC graphics performance @ Guru of 3D
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Review @ OCC
- Dishonored 2: Happy Hour With Corvo Attano @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Humble Store End of Summer Sale
- Wot I Think: Master Of Orion @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- CryEngine 5.3 release to add Vulkan support this November @ HEXUS
- Quick Look: The Turing Test @ GiantBomb
- Endless Space 2 Hands On: Buying Planets As The Mafia-Like Lumeris @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Battlefleet Gothic: Armada Opening Tau Beta Tomorrow @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2016 - 01:06 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: pascal, tesla, p40, p4, nvidia, neural net, m40, M4, HPC
The Register have package a nice explanation of the basics of how neural nets work in their quick look at NVIDIA's new Pascal based HPC cards, the P4 and P40. The tired joke about Zilog or Dick Van Patten stems from the research which has shown that 8-bit precision is most effective when feeding data into a neural net. Using 16 or 32-bit values slows the processing down significantly while adding little precision to the results produced. NVIDIA is also perfecting a hybrid mode, where you can opt for a less precise answer produced by your local, presumably limited, hardware or you can upload the data to the cloud for the full treatment. This is great for those with security concerns or when a quicker answer is more valuable than a more accurate one.
As for the hardware, NVIDIA claims the optimizations on the P40 will make it "40 times more efficient" than an Intel Xeon E5 CPU and it will also provide slightly more throughput than the currently available Titan X. You can expect to see these arrive in the market sometime over then next two months.
"Nvidia has designed a couple of new Tesla processors for AI applications – the P4 and the P40 – and is talking up their 8-bit math performance. The 16nm FinFET GPUs use Nv's Pascal architecture and follow on from the P100 launched in June. The P4 fits on a half-height, half-length PCIe card for scale-out servers, while the beefier P40 has its eyes set on scale-up boxes."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Windows 10 Anniversary Update might not arrive on your PC until November @ The Inquirer
- iOS 10 reviewed: There’s no reason not to update @ Ars Technica
- iOS 10 rollout goes titsup as update 'bricks' iPhones and iPads @ The Inqurier
- DevOps and the Art of Secure Application Deployment @ Linux.com
- HTC to unveil new Desire smartphones on September 20 @ DigiTimes
- Using a thing made by Microsoft, Apple or Adobe? It probably needs a patch today @ The Register
- New York Fines Viacom, Mattel and Hasbro For Tracking Kids Online @ Slashdot
- Microsoft's Service Fabric for Linux hits public preview @ The Register