Hey influencers, RTFM

Subject: General Tech | April 18, 2019 - 12:28 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, foldable, Galaxy Fold

In today's world people are far more likely to listen to someone who is famous on one or more platform than to an expert in the topic of discussion.  The dead and dying Samsung Fold phones being sent to influencers is a perfect example of this, as these somewhat famous social media stars have been ignoring the instructions and removing a protective film from the screen.  Samsung was quite clear in their manual that this film is necessary to prevent the foldable screen from dying, as one of the quotes over at Ars makes quite obvious, "The phone comes with this protective layer/film. Samsung says you are not supposed to remove it. I removed it ...".

When dealing with a brand new and possibly not quite ready for prime time technology, such as a foldable phone, perhaps it is worth spending the time taking a look at the manual or listening to someone who knows about the subject, rather than only listening to someone you 'know'?

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"YouTuber Marques Brownlee also tried peeling off this protective layer, thinking it was just a display protector for shipping. After picking at the layout a bit, Brownlee says "the display spazzed and blacked out. Started over with a replacement."

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Source: Ars Technica

What do you do for fun, now that you've executed Order 66?

Subject: General Tech | April 17, 2019 - 02:10 PM |
Tagged: Jedi: Fallen Order, Star Wars, gaming

Second sister inquisitors and purge troopers, oh my!  We now know that the new single player Star Wars game, Jedi: Fallen Order is currently scheduled to arrive on November 15th and there is a trailer, which you can check out at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN.  You will play as Cal Kestis, a Padawan that survived the purge and his faithful droid BD-1 and the trailer does feature lightsabers and Force enhanced combat, though much seems to be pre-rendered scenes.  We don't know much more than that, but keep your eyes peeled as there will be more information slowly coming out over the coming months. 

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"Here’s a release trailer introducing the Padawan-in-hiding, Cal Kestis. He’s not very good flying under the radar, so luckily he’ll have Force powers and lightsaber combat to help him out of sticky situations."

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It's a Tile fire, another reason to distrust your new Start Menu

Subject: General Tech | April 17, 2019 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, windows 10, tiles, security, microsoft

*** Update from April 18th, 11:56
Microsoft has now deleted the nameserver record and we no longer control the subdomain. We still haven't received a reply from Microsoft. ***

If you like the animated Live Tiles which offer RSS type feed or even the animated ones that look fancy, there is something you should know.  The domain which provides the content to those tiles is no longer owned by Microsoft, though thankfully a security researcher was quick to notice this and is now hosting the site on his own Azure instance.  Predictably there is a lot of traffic asking for XML file updates to be able to display these feeds and according to the quote on Slashdot, he will not continue to sinkhole requests as it is running up his costs.

At this time Microsoft has not responded, so you might want to seriously consider removing any Live Tiles from your Win8/10 Start menu.

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"The subdomain (notifications.buildmypinnedsite.com) is currently under the control of Hanno Bock, a security researcher and journalist for German tech news site Golem.de. The subdomain was part of the buildmypinnedsite.com service that Microsoft set up with the launch of Windows 8, and more specifically to allow websites to show live updates inside users' Start pages and menus."

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Source: Slashdot

Peace were declared! Apple and Qualcomm hang up their positron shooters

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2019 - 06:37 PM |
Tagged: shocking, rusty, qualcomm, apple, 5G

As strange as it may seem, Apple and Qualcomm have made peace after years of litigation and a day after the latest court case, theorized to be worth around $30 billion, kicked off.  The resolution sees the companies signing a six-year license agreement, appropriately the effective start is April 1, 2019, and it includes an option to extend the deal another two years beyond that, a multiyear chipset supply agreement and Apple is paying Qualcomm an undisclosed amount to boot.

The legal battle between the two since 2017 has reached heights that only past battles between Microsoft and various governments or Oracle against ... well, just about everyone ...  previously reached.  It was barely a week ago Apple was accusing Qualcomm of witness tampering, this is after years of billion dollar court battles. 

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There is a possible method to the madness we are presented with today, which involves about five G's.  See, there has been a row going on since last year, when some benchmarks showed that Apple, whom chose to switch between Intel and Qualcomm cellular modems, were purposefully slowing the Qualcomm modems down so they did not outperform the Intel ones.  This problem seems to have continued into the coming generation, as Apple seems to be lagging behind with no public plans to release a 5G phone until some time in 2020

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Making peace with Qualcomm could accelerate the arrival of a 5G iThang, theoretically this year but more likely early 2020; earlier than it would have been if they had to depend on Intel to supply them as would be the case while litigation continued to escalate. In the end this does seem like good news for both companies as well as the consumer.

When asked for comment certain Intel employees responded with an interpretive dance yours truly was unable to decipher.

 

Source: Qualcomm

Attar o' Ryzen, AMD's new embedded R1000 series coming to a revived console near you

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2019 - 02:11 PM |
Tagged: ryzen embedded, ryzen, R1606G, R1505G, r1000, playstation 5, atari, amd, 7nm

You might not be immediately excited by a new embedded processor, after all you can't upgrade something soldered permanently onto the motherboard, but if the AtariVCS interests you in the least you should pay attention. 

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One of those chips will be powering that system, and as they are capable of powering three 4K displays at up to 60 FPS, you should expect some impressive visuals from that console when it finally arrrives. For general media, these chips support H.265 Encode/Decode(10b) and VP9 decode3 capabilities so streaming should be impressive as well. 

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In other usage scenarios, the ability to use a 10Gb Ethernet connection and integral security features to protect the boot environment and memory will be attractive to those looking to upgrade their products which would use these embedded processors.  Your next flight to Vegas might feature the new chips on the plane as well as in the one armed bandits.  The R1000 series will also support 64-bit DDR4, 8 PCIe lanes, NVMe support and up to four USB 3.1 Gen 2 interconnects (pdf).

You can also find out more about the PlayStation 5 in Sebastian's post as well as at DigiTimes.

"The new SoC will be available this quarter to ODMs and OEMs worldwide and is already supported by numerous hardware and software companies including Advantech, ASRock, DFI, iBase, Netronome, Stratacache and many others. The Ryzen Embedded R1000 SoC will also power the upcoming Atari VCS game system."

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Source: AMD

Sony Shares Next-Gen PlayStation Details: AMD Zen2 and Navi, Ultra-Fast SSD

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2019 - 12:25 PM |
Tagged: Zen2, sony, PS5, playstation 5, navi, gaming, console, amd

Sony's lead system architect Mark Cerny has shared some high-level details of the next PlayStation (only referred to as "the next-gen console" in the interview) with Wired.com, confirming that it will indeed make use of the upcoming 7nm Zen2 CPU architecture from AMD, as well as Radeon Navi GPU cores in its custom chip.

Quoting from the Wired article:

"The CPU is based on the third generation of AMD’s Ryzen line and contains eight cores of the company’s new 7nm Zen 2 microarchitecture. The GPU, a custom variant of Radeon’s Navi family, will support ray tracing, a technique that models the travel of light to simulate complex interactions in 3D environments."

As if to alleviate any doubt as to the AMD architecture involved, company CEO Lisa Su took to Twitter to promote AMD's partnership with Sony, and the Wired article:

And this upcoming PlayStation won't be just offer a faster SoC with the latest generation of AMD CPU and GPU architecture, as SSD storage will be standard - and not just any SSD, apparently (quoting the Wired article again):

"At the moment, Sony won’t cop to exact details about the SSD—who makes it, whether it utilizes the new PCIe 4.0 standard—but Cerny claims that it has a raw bandwidth higher than any SSD available for PCs. That’s not all. “The raw read speed is important,“ Cerny says, “but so are the details of the I/O [input-output] mechanisms and the software stack that we put on top of them. I got a PlayStation 4 Pro and then I put in a SSD that cost as much as the PlayStation 4 Pro—it might be one-third faster." As opposed to 19 times faster for the next-gen console, judging from the fast-travel demo."

Check out the full article at Wired.com for more of the interview with Cerny on the next Sony console.

Source: Wired

The Scope of CTRL, the new ASUS ROG Strix gaming keyboard with a boss button

Subject: General Tech | April 15, 2019 - 03:05 PM |
Tagged: asus, rog strix scope, gaming keyboard, mechanical keyboard, RGB, input, aura sync

The ROG Strix Scope keyboard, originally announced as the CTRL at CES, has arrived and is ready to be picked up for those who have been waiting.  Enthusiasts can choose between Cherry MX Red, Brown, Blue, Black, Speed Silver or Silent Red switches, all of which are fully RGB'd with 10 Aura Sync patterns already programmed in.

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The CTRL key is double wide for easy access and the WASD keycaps have a striking silver colour, which compliments the aluminium body as well as making them easy to spot. The board does come with a keycap puller if you have a burning desire to upgrade or swap them.   It is the Stealth function bound to the F12 key that is far more important for some however, as it functions as a boss button.  With one click it will hide all your running apps and mute all audio, so it looks like you were about to be productive and most definitely not playing a game.  Check out the full PR below.

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Fremont, California (April 15, 2019) — ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) today announced ROG Strix Scope, the mechanical gaming keyboard with Xccurate Design – an extra-wide Ctrl key for enhanced precision on FPS battlefields.

The Control (Ctrl) key is crucial to success in modern first-person-shooter games. With this in mind the ROG R&D team carefully examined the play style of FPS gamers, applying their findings to create a Ctrl key that’s more than 2X wider than traditional Ctrl keys and a shortened left Windows key that’s designed to be less of a target.

For gamers wanting to switch things up a bit, the all-black look of Strix Scope can be punctuated by four silver-colored caps for the vital WASD key group. Included with Strix Scope, these alternative caps create a striking contrast to the rest of the keys – a standout look that benefits both form and function. A special keycap-puller tool is also bundled for easy removal and customization of the most-used keys.

Strix Scope’s F12 key has its own unique secondary function, doubling as Stealth. This is a one-touch shortcut that hides all running apps and mutes all audio for instant privacy or peace.

All keycaps are designed to take full advantage of the ASUS Aura RGB backlighting that’s built in to Strix Scope, with secondary legends that are carefully placed to also be easily visible. The F5-F12 keys even have front-side illumination, so both media controls and F-key legends are clearly lit. The Quick Toggle Switch allows gamers to flip quickly between these two control modes.

An aluminum faceplate lends Strix Scope everyday resilience and is finished with a striking slash aesthetic for a little touch of style. The keyboard also includes Armoury II, enhanced driver-based software that offers more extensive controls while using less system resources. An intuitive UI makes it easy for gamers to tune Strix Scope to suit the game or gameplay style – enabling them to create profiles, customize colors and lighting effects, map keys, record macros and more. It’s even possible to track hardware stats during gameplay for data analysis. The outstanding design and innovation that went into the creation of Strix Scope has already been recognized and awarded, with the product winning the prestigious 2019 iF Product Design Award in the Computer Accessory category. The iF Product Design Awards spans multiple disciplines and attracts many thousands of entries from dozens of nations every year – so Strix Scope fought off strong international competition to secure its victory.

Cherry MX RGB switches for gamer-delighting feel and response
Strix Scope is constructed with Cherry MX RGB switches to deliver the precise mechanical feel preferred by gamers and enthusiasts alike. These premium-quality switches are manufactured in Germany and are renowned for delivering optimal actuation and responsiveness with every keystroke. The keyboard is fully compatible with Cherry MX Red, Brown, Blue, Black, Silent Red and Speed Silver switches¹, offering gamers the freedom to configure Strix Scope to play exactly the way they like – from smooth, quiet, linear actuation to tactile clicks.

“Gamers have come to love the feel, optimal actuation and responsiveness of mechanical keystrokes”, said Michael Schmid, Head of MX Technology Marketing at Cherry GmbH. “Cherry MX switches are the obvious trusted choice to use in the new high-end ROG Strix Scope keyboard, with a choice of six different switch types. ROG has always gamers in mind and develops products accordingly. For Strix Scope, innovative features like the enlarged Xccurate Design Ctrl key were made with FPS players in mind. This is the kind of attention to detail that Cherry loves – and why we’re excited to celebrate the arrival of Strix Scope."

Aura RGB illumination on every key for infinite lighting possibilities No modern gaming keyboard is complete without eye-catching lighting, so Strix Scope features per-key ASUS Aura RGB LEDs, plus an illuminated ROG logo. Compatibility with the Aura Sync ecosystem makes it easy for gamers to harmonize Strix Scope’s light shows with other Aura Sync-enabled components, both from ASUS and partner manufacturers.

The keyboard also has a built-in memory to store up to six custom illumination profiles, which can be configured to correspond to different applications – providing custom layouts and lighting effects that are tailored for a particular game or activity.

The evolution of ROG Strix Scope
Avid ROG followers may have noted that Strix Scope was previously revealed as Strix CTRL during CES 2019. This product-development codename was subsequently changed and finalized as Strix Scope to clearly express a key battlefield benefit of the extended Xccurate Design Ctrl key.

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Source: ASUS

Mega Sega reboot, Analogue's Sg FPGA

Subject: General Tech | April 15, 2019 - 01:59 PM |
Tagged: sega, analogue, Mega Sg, FPGA, nifty

If you haven't run into it yet, the Sega Mg is a $190 FPGA powered device with can play any any region's Genesis or Mega Drive cartridges, and has a connector for the Sega CD adapter if you happen to own one of those.  If you have the Genesis 32X add-on or a light gun you are out of luck as compatibility for those has not yet been developed, but overall it is an impressive mating of 30 year old technology with modern displays.  There are some interesting compromises made to display ancient titles at 1080p but overall from what The Tech Report has seen this is at least as good as the best emulators out there, if not better.

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"Analogue's Sega clone was originally scheduled to ship this month, but it ended up releasing early, on March 25. My personal unit shipped even earlier than that, on the 22nd. There seems to be plenty of demand for the Mega Sg, since as of this writing, Analogue's store says new orders will ship in two to three weeks."

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Everybody's flashing for the weekend, even Intel wants a little romance

Subject: General Tech | April 12, 2019 - 12:32 PM |
Tagged: security, patch, Intel, flash

If you and your Intel chips are feeling insecure, why not show them some love this Friday night and flash them with new updates?  There are new updates including one to mitigate Spoiler, and one for the Broadwell U i5 vPro found in the Intel NUC.  There are also software update, which resolves permission escalation vulnerabilities in the Graphics Performance Analyzer for Linux and the Intel Media SDK. 

As when flashing your motherboard or GPU, do be careful to read and follow all the steps, unless you have a love of bricking expensive equipment.  Drop by The Register for links to all four updates.

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"Chipzilla's April patch load includes fixes for a pair of bugs considered by Intel to be high security risks, as well as a speculative execution bug reported by university researchers last month."

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Source: The Register

I see your wireless password is early adopter

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2019 - 12:25 PM |
Tagged: WPA3, wireless, security, bug, dragonblood, sae

WPA3 is a year old and it seems it has a few flaws which still need to be ironed out, though it can still offer better protection than WPA2.  The Inquirer describes this flaw in Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE) handshake, dubbed Dragonblood, in this recent article.  It is not a theoretical architectural flaw, indeed the researchers that discovered it could make use of it to brute-forcing an eight-character lowercase password with about $125 in Amazon EC2 instances; not good for a protocol which was intended to prevent all dictionary attacks. 

The good news is that a change in the SAE algorithm could mitigate this specific flaw and as WPA3 is not yet widely adopted that is something which could be done before it does start to become mainstream.

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"Launched in January 2018, WPA3 uses the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) protocol to improve WiFi network security. However, a new research paper published by Mathy Vanhoef and Eyal Ronen shows that the protocol may not be as safe as previously thought."

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Source: The Inquirer