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Sunday September 25, 2016

"Microsoft Should Pay Compensation For User Upgrade Woes"

A consumer rights group based out of the UK thinks that people deserve money from Microsoft due to all of the problems that the Windows 10 upgrade has caused. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only guy who ran into absolutely no issues.

The group said some respondents had paid technicians to repair problems that appeared after the Windows 10 upgrade, which in some cases took place despite users declining Microsoft's upgrade notifications. Which? members complained of being "nagged" by Microsoft alerts to install the update. "Which? is shining a light on the problem and calling on Microsoft to improve its customer service and repair and compensate its customers where appropriate," it said.


AT&T Sues Nashville In Bid To Stall Google Fiber

Nashville has a neat rule, One Touch Make Ready, which goes as far as allowing new ISP companies to move pre-existing utility pole wiring set by companies such as Comcast with their own crews. AT&T is suing because they think Google is incompetent and will mess up their property or, worse, inadvertently create service interruptions.

AT&T has complained that Google Fiber crews don’t always follow safety codes and outlined potential consequences in its lawsuit. "If a copper feeder cable were damaged, 1,000 or more residential customers could lose service, and business customers without redundant service would also lose service," AT&T wrote in its court complaint. "Some of AT&T’s aerial fiber facilities are used to provide high-capacity switched Ethernet services to various customers including police and fire stations, and to wireless carriers that use the fiber to carry wireless traffic to and from their cell towers. Damage to these facilities could knock out service to emergency responders, and take a cell tower out of service."


Reconfigurable Chaos-Based Microchips Offer Possible Solution To Moore’s Law

Researchers are attempting to get "more out of less" by applying chaos theory to transistor circuits, which allows them to be programmed to perform different tasks. 100 million transistors could perform work equivalent to three billion transistors.

"In current processors you don't utilize all the circuitry on the processor all the time, which is wasteful," Kia says. "Our design allows the circuit to be rapidly morphed and reconfigured to perform a desired digital function in each clock cycle. The heart of the design is an analog nonlinear circuit, but the interface is fully digital, enabling the circuit to operate as a fully morphable digital circuit that can be easily connected to the other digital systems." The researchers have produced an alternative approach for computing that is compatible with existing technology and utilizes the same fabrication process and CAD tools as existing computer chips, which could aid commercial adoption.


Nvidia Job Postings Suggest Chips Returning To Apple Macs

Job listings suggest that the return of Nvidia tech in Apple systems is a great possibility. The last time a Mac had a Nvidia GPU was, what, 2013?

Current Mac computers feature graphics chips from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Nvidia, which is the leading manufacturer of high-end graphics chips used in gaming machines, hasn’t been an option for multiple generations of computer models from Cupertino, California-based Apple. Nvidia, in a job ad for a software engineer, said a successful applicant will "help produce the next revolutionary Apple products." The role would require "working in partnership with Apple" and writing code that will "define and shape the future"’ of graphics-related software on Macs.


Google Self-Driving Car T-Boned By Interstate Delivery Truck

A Google self-driving Lexus was in "one of the worst" accidents that any of their cars have ever been in. A van ran a red light and struck the car, even though the light was green for the Google vehicle at least six seconds before it entered the intersection.

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Specifically, we’re told the crash happened in Mountain View, California, at the corner of W El Camino Real and Calderon Ave. We’re told that no one was hurt in the crash and all airbags deployed. "I only saw the tail-end of the crash, and the dazed Google employees sitting around afterwards waiting for their tow-truck. I had to be on my way," a witness told us. The witness also mentioned that, based on their perspective, the self-driving car was not at fault. "From what I could see, it was the van’s fault entirely," they said.


VR Devs Pull Support For Oculus Rift Until Palmer Luckey Steps Down

Many seem unpleased with the Oculus founder’s political views and are retaliating. Wait, why does it even matter which candidate Mr. Luckey wants to support?

Several virtual reality game developers have announced that they will stop supporting Facebook’s Oculus Rift VR headset until its founder Palmer Luckey steps down. Developers announced that they will stop supporting the Oculus Rift after The Daily Beast revealed that Luckey raised money for a pro-Donald Trump non-profit through a convoluted Reddit scheme. As Motherboard reported on Friday, Luckey’s Twitter activity has been sympathetic to the alt-right and the bigotry that defines it since March of this year.


Valve Outlines Changes To Address Increasingly Unwieldy Steam Store

Changes are coming to the Steam Store, per notifications delivered to SteamWorks developers. It seems that we will now have the option of filtering out things like Early Access games and non-gaming stuffs like software applications and movies.

A new option to set "Global Customer Preferences" could turn out to be the most significant. Steam's dominance on the PC and its relatively open nature means its home page regularly gets flooded with "Early Access" games in the initial stages of development or virtual reality games, which comparatively few Steam users have access to. This is a problem with Steam in general: so many new games are added to the platform every day, players have a hard time finding the games they want to play.


Apple Acknowledges iOS 10 Security Flaw

iOS 10 has a security flaw that allows hackers to crack passwords 2,500 times faster. Apple is working on a fix, but for now, the company recommends that users ensure their devices are protected with strong passwords.

"We’re aware of an issue that affects the encryption strength for backups of devices on iOS 10 when backing up to iTunes on the Mac or PC. We are addressing this issue in an upcoming security update. This does not affect iCloud backups," an Apple spokesperson said. "We recommend users ensure their Mac or PC are protected with strong passwords and can only be accessed by authorized users. Additional security is also available with FileVault whole disk encryption."


China Powers Up World's Largest Telescope

It’s time to start hunting for aliens. FAST, which measures 500 meters in diameter, is now officially in operation and offers great potential for scientists to detect signs of life on other planets or galaxies.

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The 1.2 billion yuan ($180 million) science mega-project is named after its huge dimensions: the Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST. Built within a valley surrounded by naturally-formed karst hills in China's remote and mountainous southwestern Guizhou province, the FAST radio telescope's huge dish is equal in size to 30 football pitches and was built from 4,000 individual metal panels. It also required the relocation of 10,000 people living in the vicinity of the huge structure. The feasibility study for the telescope was carried out over 14 years and construction took more than five years to complete.


Microsoft Will "Solve" Cancer Within Next 10 Years By Treating It Like A Computer Virus

The company is attempting to crack the code of diseased cells so they can be reprogrammed back to a healthy state. While most of this may be in the realm of possibility, are certain industries going to let them pull this off?

The ultimate goal of this computational approach: to program biology like we program computers. That’s a breakthrough that would open all sorts of possibilities for everything from treating diseases to feeding the world with more efficient crops. "All aspects of our daily lives will be affected," said Andrew Phillips, who heads the Biological Computation Research Group. Phillips said one approach is to create a kind of molecular computer that you would put inside a cell to monitor for disease. If the sensor detected a disease, it would actuate a response to fight it.


HDR Bugs Are Ruining The Movie Experience On Xbox One S

There are two issues with HDR on the new Xbox that exist but haven’t been patched yet. First, Netflix is engaging HDR mode for all movies (even non-HDR content), which is leading to messed up colors, and second, there is light bleed during 4K Blu-ray playback because the BD app is not properly engaging HDR for HDR content.

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Like the Netflix bug, this new Blu-Ray bug isn’t a deal breaker, but is definitely irritating and unattractive. It’s also nearly ruinous if you’re the kind of person who has dropped thousands of dollars on a UHD TV and Xbox Ones S and would like it all to play back exactly right. Fortunately, both bugs can be resolved with a software update from Microsoft. Yet, with the Netflix bug having been around since launch in early August, it’s anyone’s guess when the bugs will be resolved.


Android-Chrome OS "Andromeda" May Be Teased On October 4

Is there anything that Google isn’t showing at their upcoming event? Word is that we will finally get a glimpse of the next evolution of Android, which is expected to meld with Chrome OS. I hope that it runs as smoothly as the latter.

Lockheimer's tweet means little standing on its own. But with the right context? We believe this is the best evidence yet that Google plans to tease the long-fabled merger of Android and Chrome OS on October 4th. That project is known internally at Google as Andromeda, and even if we don't see Andromeda demoed on the 4th, we can assure you it's quite real. While rumors that Android and Chrome OS would merge are seemingly as old as the coexistence of the operating systems themselves, those rumors began solidifying nearly a year ago, thanks to a report from The Wall Street Journal. In it, the Journal claimed that Google was planning to "fold" Chrome OS into Android to better suit the latter to running on a wider variety of hardware.


Saturday September 24, 2016

Forza Horizon 3 At 4K 60fps Is "Simply Breathtaking"

Based on the Forza Horizon 3 reviews so far, people seem to be really liking Playground Games’ latest attempt at an open-world racer. I can’t believe you need to pay $100 to play it a week early, but the PC port is apparently pretty good, with no real game-breaking issues.


Intel Kaby Lake 7700K and 7600K CPU Clock Speeds

If you are making bets on what the Kaby Lake processors will run at, you should probably go with 4.2GHz and 3.8GHz, which is what a retail site had accidentally revealed. I wonder how many of you who wanted to upgrade just said "screw it" and bought a Skylake chip due to the recent Monoprice sale.

As far as specifications go, the 7700K is going to be the usual 4 core/8 thread configuration, with 8MB of L3 cache, and a 95W TDP. While all of that was expected, Intel has apparently made some changes to clock rates according to this leak, with the 7700K running at 4.2GHz base and boosting up to 4.5GHz, which is higher than earlier rumours pointed to. That said, it makes sense, given a 4.5GHz overclock has been fairly achievable on Intel’s unlocked desktop CPUs for some time now. The Intel Core i5 7600K will also be a quad-core chip, though it will not have hyper threading. This one will be running at 3.8GHz base with a 4GHz boost clock.


London Police Chief Wants To Be Able To Stop Your Car Remotely

Speaking on police tactics and how technology could be used to aid law enforcement, officials from across the pond want the privilege of disabling a vehicle with the push of a button. I can already picture compromised cars coasting straight into civilians, signs, trees, and storefronts.

The commissioner seemed to be suggesting that cars could be equipped with a police-accessible system that would allow the authorities to take control of the vehicle if needed. Clearly showing he doesn’t understand how modern, internet-technology works, Hogan-Howe’s suggestion would seem to slightly tread over the line of civil liberties and individual freedom, not to mention the right to privacy. But even if those aspects are completely ignored, the technological challenges involved in creating such a system and keeping it secure are huge. The question is reminiscent of the debate for a specially created backdoor into secure programs, that many governments would like to see implemented into our technology.


What May Be The Last Nokia Phone Costs Only $37

Microsoft had two surprises earlier this week: one, that it was still making Nokia phones, and two, that it cost under $50. While this will officially only be available in India, there should be plenty of ways for collectors to get their hands on what could be the last Nokia device.

The Nokia 216 packs a 2.4-inch display with a 320 x 240-pixel resolution. It offers just 16MB of RAM, expandable storage, Bluetooth, and a swappable 1020mAh battery that promises 18 hours of talk time. Microsoft also included a pair of 0.3-megapixel cameras with flash in front and back. The device runs Nokia’s Series 30 software. You also get the Opera Mini Browser and the Opera Mobile Store, which offers access to Facebook along with other apps and mobile games. The design looks like a classic Nokia candy bar with a physical keypad. It comes in black, gray or light blue with a plastic frame and a rear-facing speaker.


Sword Master VR Gameplay Video

If you’ve got a Vive and are in the mood for a little medieval swordplay, Sword Master should be right up your alley. The game seems like it should give you a pretty good workout since you actually need to use weight in your strikes.


Twitter Reportedly In Talks With Google, Salesforce For Potential Sale

I have no idea how Twitter managed to do so poorly for a platform that is so popular. It is hard to say who will win the bid for the company, but a buyout seems very possible, despite board members being against it. Even Verizon is interested.

…the social company is in talks with the likes of Google and cloud computing company Salesforce, among others, and may receive a formal bid soon. The suiters courting Twitter are said to be interested in the data the company generates from its 313 million active users. However, sources say that, while conversations are ongoing and picking up steam, there's no assurance that a deal will be inked. As a result, Twitter's stocks have soared as high as 23 percent based on the news. Meanwhile, TechCrunch reports that the company has just lost two key staffers, including head of TV Andrew Adashek.


MineCon 2016 Livestream

The fifth MineCon has begun. If you’re a MineCraft fan, you may want to check out the keynote that is livestreaming now.


Galaxy S8 May Feature ARM Mali-G71 GPU And 4K Display

If this was a couple of months ago, I’d be whining about why a smartphone would even need a 4K display, but now that I’ve tried VR, I will just say that the next Galaxy should be very interesting for those kinds of applications. Of course, there is no telling how much the battery life will suffer for this display novelty.

The new GPU is said to be up to 1.8 times as powerful as the Mali-T880 MP12 GPU used in the Exynos 8890-powered Galaxy S7. Moreover, this GPU is reportedly faster than the one from the Snapdragon 830 according to GFXBench results. The Mali-G71 GPU uses ARM’s brand new Bifrost architecture, which is claimed to offer high-end 4K and VR experiences. It is also compatible with Vulkan, OpenGL ES 3.2, GPU Compute, and Android RenderScript APIs. Running at 850MHz, the 16nm GPU can provide a throughput of 27.2Gpix/s, which is double than that of the Mali-T880 GPU running at the same frequency.


Snapchat Releases First Hardware Product: Spectacles

Snapchat is jumping into hardware with the debut of glasses that record up to 10 seconds of video at the tap of a button. The CEO admits it is very much a "toy" that will slowly roll out instead of getting a big release, but I think it may be a hit with the Snapchat crowd and their compulsion for capturing and sharing whatever they can.

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Why use a pair of video sunglasses…instead of holding up your smartphone like everyone else? Because, Spiegel says, the images that result are fundamentally different. Spectacles’ camera uses a 115-degree-angle lens, wider than a typical smartphone’s and much closer to the eyes’ natural field of view. The video it records is circular, more like human vision. (Spiegel argues that rectangles are an unnecessary vestige of printing photos on sheets of paper.) As you record, your hands are free to pet dogs, hug babies or flail around at a concert. You can reach your arms out to people you’re filming, instead of holding your phone up, as Spiegel describes it, "like a wall in front of your face."


Microsoft Patent Would Have Windows Watch Everything You Do For Better Search Results

In what is being dubbed as "Clippy on steroids," Microsoft wants to hook into your running applications, capture relevant contextual data, and then send it to Bing for better searches. I have not read through the patent filing, but the article suggests it is smart enough to remove personally identifiable information.

Microsoft’s solution…is to have an agent or "mediator" watching what the user is doing in "active 3rd party applications" such as a word processor PDF reader, recognizing images or text from the photos they are looking at, recognizing music or sound, their location and other contextual data, removing personally identifiable information from this data, and adding it in some way to the search query to produce better ranked and more focused results. …The patent is in some ways similar to Google’s Now on Tap or Screen Search, which scrapes an application screen for text and other information and then launches a contextual Google Search. It does however sound a bit more far reaching and a lot more autonomous.


Street Fighter V Installs Hidden Rootkit On PCs

It’s times like these where I’m glad to have waited before buying a newish title. An update to the newest Street Fighter game allows any application to have kernel-level privileges. While the driver was intended to prevent players from hacking the title, it allows someone to hack your entire system instead.

…the capcom.sys kernel-level driver provides an IOCTL service to applications that disables SMEP on the computer, executes code at a given pointer, and then reenables SMEP. In other words, it switches off a crucial security defense in the operating system, then runs whatever instructions are given to it by the application, and then switches the protection back on. SMEP [PDF] is a feature in modern Intel and AMD x86 processors that, when enabled, prevents kernel-level software from executing code in user-owned memory pages.


Google Introducing $129 Home Wi-Fi Router On October 4

Bad news for OnHub owners; it sounds like Google has already replaced its initial router project with a new product that adopts the trend of expanding coverage with multiple devices. My Nighthawk router is working pretty great so far, but I may have to retire it for something that can provide a strong signal throughout the entire home.

…the device will be launched alongside Google's Pixel phones, Google Home, and the 4K 'Chromecast Ultra' on October 4th. That source additionally claims that Google will advertise the router as having "smart" features - probably similar to OnHub in some respects - and that Google will claim it provides enhanced range over typical Wi-Fi routers (a claim we see basically every router make, to be fair). But the one thing that will make it an insta-buy for many over OnHub? Our source claims multiple Google Wifi access points (two or more) can be linked together to create one large wireless network.


Friday September 23, 2016

[H]ard|OCP Week in Reviews

Today is Friday and you know what that means! It is time once again for the [H]ard|OCP Week in Reviews! For anyone that might have missed them, we like to take a quick look back on the hardware evaluations and articles we posted earlier in the week. We kicked the week off with our evaluation of the GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1080 Xtreme Gaming Premium video card, followed by our AMD & NVIDIA GPU VR Performance: Space Pirate Trainer article. Finally, we wrapped up the week with our AMD & NVIDIA GPU VR Performance: Trickster VR article.

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[H]ardware Round-Up II

Cases: Case Mod Friday @ ThinkComputers

In Win 303 Mid-Tower @ APH Networks

Cooling: CPU Air Cooler Showdown @ PCPer

ETC.: Gigabyte Brix S Ultra Compact SFF HotHardware

Monster Fatal1ty FxM 200 Headset @ LanOC

Storage: ADATA Ultimate SU800 512GB @ Legit Reviews

AMD & NVIDIA GPU VR Performance: Trickster VR

Our AMD & NVIDIA GPU VR Performance: Trickster VR article is now online for your VR viewing pleasure. If you are in the market for a really fun, GPU friendly game, you'll definitely want to check this one out.

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Arm yourself with a bow and arrows, a magic sword that flies, or if you prefer, a handful of throwing darts. Then get ready to take on the procedurally generated fantasy world full of cartoonish Orcs, and more Orcs, and some other Orcs. Headshots count as well as chaining your shots so aim is critical. Did I mention the Orcs?


Exchanged Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Phones Face Fresh Battery Complaints

Samsung's exploding battery recall just seems to be getting worse and worse. It seems that some people are getting fresh replacement phones with batteries that overheat and lose battery life extremely fast. frown

Fresh reports of overheating and batteries losing life quickly have surfaced for new Samsung Galaxy Note 7 units after exchange for the handsets began earlier on Monday in South Korea following its recall, according to South Korean broadcaster YTN. YTN interviewed multiple customers who received new phones and complained that the phones' batteries quickly drained and overheated. But there have been no reported fires or explosions, unlike with the initial batches of the Note 7.


SpaceX Explains Cause Of Rocket Explosion

After an exhaustive three week investigation, the folks at SpaceX finally figured out why the Falcon 9 rocket exploded in spectacular fashion during a test firing at Cape Canaveral. I'll spare you all the technical jargon and sum up the explanation with "sumthin' went wrong and it just blowed up." wink

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The Accident Investigation Team (AIT), composed of SpaceX, the FAA, NASA, the U.S. Air Force, and industry experts, are currently scouring through approximately 3,000 channels of engineering data along with video, audio and imagery. The timeline of the event is extremely short – from first signs of an anomaly to loss of data is about 93 milliseconds or less than 1/10th of a second. The majority of debris from the incident has been recovered, photographed, labeled and catalogued, and is now in a hangar for inspection and use during the investigation.


Wirelessly Powered Quadrotor Can Fly With No Battery

This thing is pretty damn neat. Sure it can't go very far or very high but you know what? Who cares? I still like it. wink


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