Tuesday February 2nd, 2016
| Happy using Windows 7 or Windows 8? You might not be happy much longer, because Microsoft has announced Windows 10 will now start installing automatically on Windows 7 and Windows 8 PCs…
The development sees Microsoft follow through on its controversial October roadmap which said Windows 10 would have its status changed in 2016 to become a ‘Recommended’ upgrade in Windows Update. In basic terms this means anyone who uses Windows 7 or Windows 8 with default Windows Update settings (the vast majority) will now see Windows 10 begin installing by itself.
Posted By FunkZ @ 3:01 PM
Monday February 1st, 2016
| SOURCE:PC World
There’s nothing more frustrating than dealing with slow Internet at home, especially when you’re paying a steep premium for a fast connection speed. Washington, DC-based Reddit user and Comcast customer AlekseyP came up with an interesting solution for this problem. Instead of wasting time calling up Comcast over the issue, he is using the power of Raspberry Pi to complain to the Internet Service Provider over Twitter under the name @A_Comcast_User.
Every hour, AlekseyP’s Raspberry Pi (he didn’t specify which model) runs Internet speed tests and then stores that data. If his Internet speed drops below 50 megabits per second, the Pi tweets at Comcast about the slow speeds. AlekseyP says he pays for 150mbps down and 10mbps up.
Since AlekseyP’s Twitter script went live on October 30, his bot has tweeted at Comcast 16 times over Internet connection speeds. He says Internet usage at home is not causing the drop in bandwidth. In fact, he says that many times the tweets happened when no one was at home, or late at night when everyone was asleep.
Comcast tends to respond to most direct consumer complaints on Twitter and in this respect the company hasn’t failed AlekseyP. But the Reddit user declines Comcast’s request for help every time it’s offered. “I have chosen not to provide them my account or address because I do not want to singled out as a customer; all their customers deserve the speeds they advertise,” he said on Reddit.
The impact on you at home: If you’re a Comcast customer, or with another ISP that handles customer service on Twitter, you can play along with a Raspberry Pi, too. AlekseyP posted the code to his Python script on Pastebin. This code will help get you started, but you’ll also need to install dependent programs and utilities such as speedtest-cli, a command line interface program that tests your bandwidth speeds via speedtest.net. Python, the core scripting language behind the tool, should already be installed on your Raspberry Pi’s operating system.
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 12:13 PM
Thursday January 28th, 2016
PC gaming is alive and well, as new market research indicates the platform generated more global revenue in digital game sales than any other sector of the market last year.Source: IGN
According to a report from SuperData (via Ars Technica), which pulled data from "tens of millions" of publishers, developers, gamers and payment providers, PC is dominating the downloadable game market. As noted by GamesIndustry, PC generated much more revenue than mobile last year, pulling in $32 billion versus mobile's $25 billion figure.
However, it's important to note this data doesn't take into account retail sales, which make up a very small portion of PC's overall game revenue. That said, the retail game market for mobile is nonexistent, so PC still leads in that regard. Conversely, a report from NewZoo report indicates the worldwide revenue for console software—which is far more dependent upon retail sales—was approximately $25.1 billion in 2015.
The big revenue drivers for PC last year were free-to-play MMOs, which, according to SuperData, make up more than half of last year's earnings, with $17 billion. Social network-based games were also a major contributor, generating $8 billion in revenue for the platform in 2015.
Other free-to-play games like League of Legends and World of Tanks were among some of biggest money-making titles for the platform last year, while Grand Theft Auto V was the only pay-to-play, single-player-oriented game to make the top 10.
Posted By sysigy @ 3:02 AM
Tuesday January 12th, 2016
| Microsoft today ended support for old versions of Internet Explorer, including IE8, IE9, and IE10, as well as Windows 8. For the browsers, the company has also released a final patch (KB3123303) that includes the latest cumulative security updates and an “End of Life” upgrade notification.
End of support does not mean the software stops working. When a given deadline is reached for its software, Microsoft simply stops releasing security updates and offering technical support.
Friendly reminder, vanilla Windows 8 and 8.1* will no longer be getting security patches after the 1/13/2016 *Sounds like Windows 8.0 can be patched to Windows 8.1 Update.
As well as Windows 8.1 to Windows 8.1 Update.
(Yes, the revision of 8.1 is called Windows 8.1 Update)
Posted By @dmin @ 3:48 PM
Friday January 8th, 2016
| As with last year's CES, Nvidia devoted its keynote this year to machine learning and self-driving cars, unveiling a new version of its Drive PX system. But while Drive PX 2—which Nvidia describes as a "self driving supercomputer that fits nicely in your trunk," with the "processing power of 150 MacBook Pros"—will no doubt help partner Volvo with its first public trial of autonomous driving, it's what's under the bonnet that's exciting.
Drive PX 2, which consists of two SoCs paired to two graphics cards, is the first device from Nvidia to feature its new Pascal GPU and the first to be fabricated on TSMC's 16nm FinFET process. Not only that, but the new SoC is also quite exciting, mashing together two of the company's custom Denver CPU cores (as used in the Nexus 9 tablet) with four ARM Cortex A57 cores. The two GPUs are connected to the SoCs via a pair of discrete MXM (Mobile PCI Express Module) cards.
This configuration is a marked departure from the original Drive PX, which sported dual Tegra X1 SoCs with four Cortex A57s cores and four Cortex A53s cores along with an integrated Maxwell GPU.
On paper Drive PX 2 is an extremely powerful (and power-hungry) system. Unfortunately, Nvidia is keeping quiet on the full specifications of the Pascal GPUs, but it claims that the whole Drive PX 2 system will be capable of 8 teraflops of FP32 processing power, with a combined TDP of 250W. The latter is high for an ARM-based system, but presumably the twin GPUs account for most of the power draw. Nvidia, somewhat intriguingly for a computer that sits in the boot of your car, is cooling the Drive PX 2 with a custom liquid cooling system.
The claim that the PX 2 is "150 times faster than a MacBook Pro" is probably spurious. We've e-mailed Nvidia to ask how it arrived at such a figure, but it's probably something like a single MacBook Pro CPU against two Pascal GPUs.
As for why you'd need so much processing power in a car, Drive PX 2's first home will be in 100 autonomous Volvo cars, which the company plans to deploy on Sweden's public roads in 2017. Instead of hard-coding driving rules for the cars to follow, they'll use deep learning and computer vision to identify objects fed to them by a 360-degree camera array. The Drive PX 2 will be available to early access partners in Q2, with general availability in Q4.
For now, Pascal is only part of Drive PX 2, but with AMD having recently revealed its new GPU architecture Polaris, it's only a matter of time until Nvidia brings its new architecture to desktop GPUs. Current rumours point to the full Pascal unveil occurring in mid-2016.
This post originated on Ars Technica UK
Source: Ars Technica
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 7:42 PM
Wednesday January 6th, 2016
| By Lewis Leong
Razer is coming out with its most affordable laptop ever. The Razer Blade Stealth features a 12.5” 16:9 aspect ratio touch screen with a resolution of up to 3840 x 2160 (aka UHD or 4K). All models come with PCIe SSD of various sizes and can be configured with either a quad-HD screen (2560 x 1440) or the aforementioned UHD display. All models will come with an Intel Core i7 CPU and 8GB of RAM. The laptop comes in at a svelte 2.75 lbs for portability.
The Razer Blade Stealth also has a party trick up its sleeve in the form of the Razer Core. This little box lets users plug in a desktop graphics card via its Thunderbolt 3 port. The Core supports single, double-wide, full-length PCI Express x16 cards. The Core comes with a built-in 500W power supply, but can only support 375 watts of power draw from a GPU. The Core also features 4 USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, and Chroma (RGB) lighting. Validated graphics cards can be plugged and unplugged without the need to reboot the laptop.
The Razer Blade Stealth will start at $999 and can be configured all the way up to $1599. No word on the pricing or availability of the Razer Core as of yet. To keep pricing low, Razer is selling the Stealth directly to customers via its website starting today , but will expand to the Microsoft Store in February.
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 9:39 AM
Monday January 4th, 2016
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 5:43 PM
Tuesday December 15th, 2015
| By Lewis Leong Virtual reality is moving fast, and there’s a flood of content coming out for various VR headsets. Crytek, most known for its Crysis and Far Cry games, is bringing its first VR game, called The Climb, to the Oculus Rift. The game turns you into a free climber, allowing you to scale cliffs in a fictional location that resembles parts of southeast Asia.
The game appears simple at first, but it actually takes skill and strategy. You control your virtual floating hands with either a gamepad or the Oculus Touch controllers. It's a little strange using a gamepad as I naturally wanted to reach out to grab crevices, which is something you'll be able to do with the Oculus Touch. With a gamepad, look where you want to hold and pull the corresponding trigger to grab. You’ll also have to chalk your hands from time to time to ensure you have enough grip. If you don’t, prepare to fall to your death. Thankfully Crytek decided not to show players hitting the rocks, instead fading the camera to black.
You can play the game as leisurely as you want, or try to get on the leaderboards with the fastest times. There are multiple ways to scale a cliff so you’ll be playing the same level over and over again to figure out the quickest line. Crytek imagines The Climb being a good game for “smack talk” as players will try to best their friends’ times. You’ll have to juggle chalk levels for each hand, learn how to jump and grab ledges, and learn the fastest lines. This is a game with a lot of replayability.
But why is Crytek, a company known primarily for its action games, making a VR game about free climbing? “We wanted to do a big, grand game but we ended up realizing we should just make a fun game,” said David Bowman, Director of Production at Crytek. “We wanted to convince people that VR is valuable.”
More at link.
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 10:13 AM
Saturday November 21st, 2015
| “Hunting for distribution rights is essentially detective work,” says Marcin Paczyński, Head of Product at GOG. “Rights can repeatedly change hands or be split up between different parties, and it’s our job to get to the bottom of what happened.”
Preservation of old games involves more than just an extra patch. The journey from dusty unplayable relic to polished, cross-platform installer is a minefield of technical and legal obstacles. The team at Good Old Games remain the industry leaders in the restoration of classic PC games, tasked with reverse engineering code written more than 20 years ago, unraveling knotty licensing issues left behind by defunct development studios, and battling lethargy on the part of skeptical publishers. It’s a thrilling and, at times, gruelling process, but – as the GOG team will testify – it never fails to surprise.
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 9:07 AM
Sunday November 15th, 2015
| By Lewis Leong
What do you do if you want to play your PC games in your living room? You could move your PC into the living room, but if your PC weighs 50 lbs like mine, you’re going to have a bad time. You could also buy yourself a fancy Steam Machine, but they’re expensive and you’ll be limited to SteamOS’s game library, which is a fraction of Steam’s entire game library.
Enter the $50 Steam Link. This little box hooks up to your TV via HDMI and will stream games from your PC to your TV over your home network. There are 3 USB 2.0 ports to connect your gaming peripherals like game controllers or even a keyboard and mouse. There’s also Bluetooth 4.0 to connect wireless accessories and you can hook the Link up to your network via a 100 Mbit/s Ethernet connection or Wireless AC. It’s strange that Valve left out Gigabit Ethernet, but the 100Mbit/s connection works well.
What I like most about the Steam Link is its simplicity. Turn it on, choose your language, connect it to your network, enter a 4-digit code on your PC, and you’re ready to stream your games. You’ll see a list of computers on your network that are capable of streaming to the Steam Link and selecting one launches Big Picture Mode on that PC.
To start playing, you can plug in a Xbox controller (360 or One), Logitech F710, or Valve’s own Steam Controller. It’s nice to be able to use the Steam Link with your existing peripherals.
Overall, setup is extremely simple and you can get started playing in a matter of minutes. However, I did have issues using the Steam Link on an older Sony Bravia 720p TV. The Steam Link interface was too big and created overscan issues. Parts of the interface couldn’t be shown since they were off-screen and I had to guess where the overscan settings were in the menu. Valve’s website states the Steam Link works with 720p televisions, so your mileage may vary.
Instead of relying on powerful hardware to render your games, the Steam Link relies on your gaming PC or laptop to do the heavy lifting. This keeps the cost of the Steam Link down, but also introduces some problems. Since the Steam Link simply mirrors what’s going on on your PC, there are times when Steam Big Picture drops off and you see your desktop, leaving you with limited control. During some first game launches, I was met with prompts to log in, forcing me to walk to my computer, since the Link doesn't pull up a virtual keyboard to type. If you have a dual or triple monitor set up, the Steam Link will show every desktop you have open with black bars on the top and bottom so prompts may be impossible to read.
The NVIDIA Shield TV has a better game streaming interface, allowing you to zoom in and out of your desktop, but it also costs four times the price of the Link and only supports NVIDIA GPUs. The Shield TV does a lot more though, packing in TV, movies, music, and its GeForce Now game streaming service. The Steam Link, on the other hand, can only stream your games.
Video quality will depend on your home network. If you have a slower connection, expect to see compression and artifacting, as well as some input latency. If you have a quick network, graphics look great, but will never be as good as playing directly from your computer. I didn’t mind a slight hit in graphics too much, though blacks did look consistently lighter than they should and there's some softness overall.
Streaming performance of the Steam Link, whether wired or wireless, is excellent. In my tests, games played without lag (for the most part) over my Wireless AC network. Enabling the Steam Link’s diagnostic tools showed a smooth 60 fps at 1080p using wireless and low latency. The wired Ethernet connection was even smoother and exhibited less latency.
I played a variety of games using the Steam Link and they all worked well after some initial launch issues (I had to get up and click on the install prompts). To test latency, I played Dirt Rally, a challenging racing game that requires fast reaction times. The game ran smoothly and registered all my inputs as if I were playing directly on my PC, with peak ping reaching 30 milliseconds. Audio is also pumped to the TV over the network and sounds good for the most part. There were times when the audio stuttered, but it didn't happen often.
Playing Grand Theft Auto V with the Steam Link and Xbox controller was like playing it on a console. The game’s gamepad support made it feel fluid and its graphics were good overall. With games that support controllers, the Steam Link provides a console-like experience. The only hint that you're playing from the PC is when you launch or quit a game, showing you a glimpse of your desktop at times.
The Steam Link is the simplest and most elegant solution for playing PC games in your living room. Sure, it has some bugs and will require you to get up to troubleshoot issues at times. But it works so well when playing that I can forgive most of its flaws.
If you already have a gaming PC, pass on buying the much more expensive Steam Machines. The $50 Steam Link will let you game on the couch and also gives you full access to Steam’s game library, unlike SteamOS.
Valve will continue developing the Steam Link and it will only get better in the future.
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 7:10 PM
Tuesday October 6th, 2015
| After weeks of leaks, Microsoft is officially unveiling the Lumia 950 today. It has been 18 months since the last flagship Windows phone was announced, and the new Lumia 950 is here to help launch Windows 10 Mobile. The Lumia 950 will be available starting November for $549.
Microsoft has opted for a 5.2-inch WQHD (1440 x 2560) OLED display on the Lumia 950, coupled with 3GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 808 processor. That makes it one of the more powerful Windows phones we've seen to date, and the first to make use of Qualcomm's latest processors.
Also, it has liquid cooling. Seriously.
Source: The Verge
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 10:22 AM
Friday October 2nd, 2015
| By Mitch Dyer Update: Microsoft has provided official comment to IGN on numerous subjects.
Havok will not be limited to Microsoft exclusively. “We will continue to license Havok’s technology to the broad AAA games industry," a representative told IGN. "This also means that we will continue to license Havok’s technology to run across various game consoles including Sony and Nintendo.”
On the subject of what Microsoft paid for the acquisition, we were told, “We are not discussing financial details at this time.”
Finally, Microsoft told IGN, "We are working closely with the team at Havok to ensure a smooth transition, but have nothing further to announce at this time.”
Havok, the company known for its fantastic physics in video games, has been acquired by Microsoft. The Xbox publisher purchased Havok from Intel. Microsoft explained that this is part of "building the most complete cloud service."
"Microsoft’s acquisition of Havok continues our tradition of empowering developers by providing them with the tools to unleash their creativity to the world," the company's corporate article reads. "We will continue to innovate for the benefit of development partners. Part of this innovation will include building the most complete cloud service, which we’ve just started to show through games like 'Crackdown 3.'"
Havok was used recently for Destiny, Mortal Kombat X, Dark Souls 2, and Watch Dogs.
Microsoft did not announce if Havok will continue to provide physics for third-party games, nor how much the acquisition cost.
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 5:55 PM
Tuesday September 22nd, 2015
| Office is 25 years old this year. Some of the individual components are older, but it was 1990 that Microsoft first released a combined Office bundle, containing Word 1.1, Excel 2, and PowerPoint 2. Through the peculiar quirks of Microsoft's versioning scheme, today marks the 17th release, version number 16.0, branded Office 2016.
You can tell that you're using Office 2016 and not its predecessor Office 2013 because, by default, Office 2016 colorizes the title bars of each app to make them reflect each application's distinctive color (except for Outlook, which remains distressingly blue after Microsoft decided that it should no longer be gold for some inexplicable reason). That's optional, and if you prefer the more muted look you can disable it. This leaves you with something that looks like Office 2013 with only a few minor variations.
Desktop productivity applications haven't really changed much for many years. Office 2007 shook up the interface in a big way with its ribbon interface, and refined it in Office 2010 with the introduction of the "backstage" view used for saving, opening, and printing documents. But even the ribbon didn't change the basic structure of the apps, or the way they interoperate with one another. One feels that there hasn't really been anything new in terms of how these core word processing, spreadsheeting, presenting, and e-mail/calendaring apps since the days of the (long forgotten) Lotus Improv, which did at least try to offer an alternative to the formulae-in-a-grid of cells approach that defines spreadsheets today.
Office 2016 doesn't do anything to buck that trend.
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 9:21 AM
| In what is one of the most Goldblum-like moments of the year so far, Nvidia has partnered with OEMs like Asus and MSI to cram the full desktop version of its high-end GTX 980 graphics card into laptops. Thanks to its full array of 2048 CUDA cores, up to 8GB of 7GHz GDDR5 memory, and 1126MHz core clock, Nvidia claims the new laptop GTX 980 offers around a 30 percent performance boost over its previous flagship laptop GPU, the GTX 980M.
Even crazier, Nvidia has also managed to convince OEMs to let users overclock the GTX 980 too. Coupled with Intel's upcoming unlocked K-series Skylake laptop CPUs, users will be able to eke out a significant amount of extra performance from their laptops, cooling permitting. To help things along, Nvidia's laptop GTX 980s will differ slightly from their desktop counterparts in that they'll be binned for improved leakage and power consumption.
Nvidia says the binning process will ensure each laptop GTX 980 is guaranteed to hit the advertised 1126MHz GPU core clock and 1216MHz boost clock, as well as achieve overclocks somewhere in the region of 200MHz. That's a modest increase over the stock clock, but given the thermal restraints of a notebook chassis it's still rather impressive. To hit those overclocked speeds, users will be able to tweak the fan curve of the GPU (a first for laptops), as well as adjust the core clock and memory speeds.
However, users will be limited to a fan speed offset set by the notebook manufacturer. The overall power target as well as voltage control will also continue to be locked down. Other features of the laptop GTX 980 include between four- and eight-phase power supplies for better, cleaner power delivery, as well as support for three-panel surround gaming. Some OEMs are equipping their notebooks with three discrete outputs, although others will work via DisplayPort daisy chaining.
Naturally, cramming a 165W GPU into a laptop chassis does come with some compromises. For starters, all the notebooks available at launch feature a 17-inch or larger screen, which—when coupled with the gargantuan external power supplies they require—mean that they're not exactly something you want to carry around with you too often. All the launch models also only come with 1080p displays, albeit displays that support Nvidia's variable refresh rate technology G-Sync.
That's disappointing given the sheer graphics grunt of the GTX 980, which is more than capable of pushing 1440p or 4K visuals at high settings. That said, Asus has teased that some of its upcoming 17-inch gaming notebooks will feature a 4K option. The company's madcap watercooled GX700VO—which is just as big and outrageous in-person as you'd imagine—will feature a GTX 980 when it launches sometime in November. The rest of the laptop line-up, including a table-burning 18.4-inch SLI model from MSI, will launch later this month. Pricing is to be confirmed, but expect it to be very high indeed (probably £2,000 or more).
While the practicality of putting a GTX 980 into a notebook is questionable, that Nvidia convinced OEMs to designs notebooks with better cooling and power in order to make it happen is impressive—getting them to allow for overclocking, even more so. Nvidia's senior product manager for GeForce notebooks Brian Choi told Ars that overclocking in particular has been "difficult for [Nvidia] to encourage OEMs to do."
"When we develop a desktop GPU part we control the GPU temperature, we control the fan, we control everything, and we can expose that to the overclocker very easily," continued Choi. "In a notebook environment, OEMs like Asus and MSI are responsible for the safety and reliability and longevity of the entire system. So they don't really want to give away control of cooling, because that can affect the warranty, and stability of their brand."
As for whether anyone actually wants a desktop GPU in their laptop, along with all the compromises in size, battery life, and noise that brings, Choi was optimistic.
"We're not going for the mainstream guy who's looking for something thin and light with a desktop-class CPU and GPU. God knows I would love to do that one day, I think we all do. But physics is physics, and the fact that we're able to get a great flagship GTX 980 into a notebook is a real milestone," said Choi.
"The industry has sort of been kept in a time loop, because no one pushed [OEMs]. I consider it similar to the three-minute mile. No one thought you could break the three-minute mile, but as soon as someone did everyone was piling in. No one thought you could make a thin gaming-class notebook until Razr did it. After Razr did it, everyone figured out it wasn't that hard and started piling in. In this case, we're telling the industry to try harder, to make a desktop-class enthusiast notebook and to not be shy about it because people want this."
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 9:18 AM
| The Samsung 950 Pro SSD—the follow up to the legendary Samsung 850 Pro SSD—has been unveiled by the company at its annual SSD summit in Seoul, Korea. The 950 Pro will be available at retail in October, with MSRPs of $199.99 (probably ~£150) for the 256GB version, and $349.99 (~£280) for the 512GB version. UK pricing is yet to be confirmed.
Based on Samsung's V-NAND technology and available in 512GB and 256GB capacities, the 950 Pro shuns the common 2.5-inch form factor and SATA interface for cutting-edge M.2 2280 and PCIe 3.0 x4. It also makes use of the Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface, better known as NVMe.
Most SSDs still make use of the AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface) architecture, which was originally developed for spinning platter SATA hard drives back in 2004. While AHCI works fine for traditional hard drives, it was never designed for low latency NAND chips. As flash speeds have increased, AHCI has become a performance bottleneck. NVMe exploits both the PCIe bus and NAND flash memory to offer higher performance and lower latency.
In the case of the 512GB Samsung 950 Pro, the combination of NVMe, speedy V-NAND chips, and a triple core, eight-channel UBX controller has resulted in some eye-popping performance. Sequential read speeds top out at 2500MB/s, while sequential writes hit 1500MB/s. By comparison, Samsung's OEM-only SM951 AHCI drive—which is based on the same UBX controller, albeit paired with planar NAND—tops out at 2150MB/s sequential reads and 1500MB/s sequential writes.
Random read performance on the 512GB 950 Pro is up to 300K IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second), with write speeds of up to 110K IOPS. Power tops out 5.7W on average, 7.0W in burst mode, and 1.7W at idle. The drive also features 512MB of DRAM memory, and support for 256-bit AES encryption. A future firmware update also promises to add TCG Opal support for Microsoft's eDrive standard.
Because the 950 Pro is a consumer drive—unlike the OEM-only SM951—Samsung is bundling it with its own proprietary NVMe driver, although, it will also be compatible with the standard driver available for Windows 7 and up. Both drives ship with a five year limited warranty covering up to 200 TBW (terabytes written) for the 256GB and 400 TBW on the 512GB, which is strangely less than 10 year warranty of the 850 Pro.
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 9:14 AM