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Saturday March 17, 2018

Airbus Ditches Microsoft Office, Flies Off to Google’s G Suite

Aeronautical giant Airbus is permanently grounding its relationship with Microsoft Office and taking off with G Suite, Google’s line of web-based computing and productivity tools. According to the company’s chief information officer, Google’s option is a better fit for collaboration.

The shift to Google is clearly a massive blow to Microsoft, which warned resellers some nearly five years back not to compete with its nemesis on price because they would always lose. In Google’s calendar Q4, Google Cloud - comprising Google Cloud Platform and G Suite - turned over $1bn but the firm didn’t break down the sales by line.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 11:00 AM (CDT)

Microsoft Wants to Force Windows 10 Mail Users to Open Links in Edge

In the company’s latest attempt to switch people over to its browser, Microsoft is testing a feature that forces users of the Windows 10 Mail app to open links in Edge, regardless of their default browser settings. Feedback from the Windows Insider community is being taken, but the change could very well be official.

This isn't the first time that Microsoft has done something like this with Windows 10. In April 2016, it announced that Cortana will be locked down so that it will only work with Bing and Edge. Then, last May when the company launched Windows 10 S, it confirmed that users won't even have the option to switch their default browser or search engine on the new SKU of the OS.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 10:05 AM (CDT)

Far Cry 5 Has Microtransactions, Campaign Is Playable Offline

Ubisoft has confirmed to GameSpot that Far Cry 5 will include microtransactions. They say that "all" of these items will be cosmetic only and have no effect on gameplay, but it is a little confusing, as they go on to hint at other items that will allow players to speed up their progress. The full campaign will also be playable offline.

As with many other games, including previous Ubisoft games, Far Cry 5 will offer microtransactions. Executive producer Dan Hay stressed that the game will be generous in what it offers, though if you want to speed up your progress by spending money, you'll have that option.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 9:50 AM (CDT)
Friday March 16, 2018

Power Outage at Samsung Destroys 3.5% of Global NAND Flash Output For March

A power outage at a Samsung fab near Pyeongtaek, South Korea is being reported by AnandTech. The half hour power outage reportedly damaged 50,000 to 60,000 wafers of V-NAND memory, which represent 11% of Samsung's monthly output, and 3.5% of the global NAND output.
Ugh, if the enthusiast PC market didn't need yet another slap across its face right now. We will have to see what happens in the market, or else we may need to add NAND storage to the ever growing list of things that are running at inflated pricing. I wonder if the power outage was caused by miners using up all the electricity? Big thank you to @WhoBeDaPlaya for the story.

Samsung itself has already produced volumes of its latest Galaxy S9/S9+ smartphones it needed to support channel sales in the coming months, therefore it is not going to require massive amounts of NAND memory in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, other major consumers of NAND will start to build up inventory of memory only later this year when they start to prep for product launches in August or September.

Discussion Posted by rgmekanic 10:17 PM (CDT)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Teaser Trailer Released

Square Enix has released a teaser trailer for the upcoming Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and has also confirmed that the game will release on September 14th. A full reveal of the game will come April 27th.
Doesn't look like Square Enix wanted to give away much. I loved the first of the Tomb Raider reboots, and enjoyed the sequel as well, so I'm fairly confident I'll like this one as well. Not to mention I'm betting this will be used for much benchmarking. Discussion Posted by rgmekanic 5:44 PM (CDT)

AMD Ryzen 2700X & 2600 Review Leaked

WCCFTech is reporting that a review of the upcoming 2nd generation Ryzen CPUs has been leaked. The review shows faster inter-core communication, lower cache latency, as well as higher bandwidth. There are a ton of charts from the leaked review to browse through, but the gist of it is, the new 2700X is between 12-18% faster than the 17000X.
AMDs Ryzen platform just keeps getting better and better, if the leaked review is true that is. The launch date for the new chips is April 19th, and I'm definitely looking forward to see how they perform.

The 2700X doesn’t only enjoy faster inter-core communication and lower cache and memory latency, it also has higher overall cache bandwidth compared to its first generation counterpart. And the differences aren’t small either, we’re talking about up to 32% greater bandwidth.

Discussion Posted by rgmekanic 4:37 PM (CDT)

Battlefront 2 Progression System Revamped

EA Games has announced that the Star Wars Battlefront II "Progression Update" will come on March 21st. The update changes player progression to a linear style, and removes star cards from loot crates. Star cards, or any other item impacting gameplay, will only be earned through gameplay using an experience system on classes, heros, and ships that you play in multiplayer.
Anyone else catch that "gain experience in multiplayer?" Does that mean that playing in Arcade mode won't net you experience? I don't know, and I suppose we will have to wait and see, although I feel the ship has sailed for Battlefront II a while ago.

Starting in April, you’ll be able to get appearances directly through in-game Credits or Crystals. The first new appearances are coming soon, meaning you'll be able to grab new looks for your heroes and troopers directly by using either Credits (earned in-game) or Crystals (available to purchase in-game and through first-party stores). If you’ve ever dreamed of being a part of the Resistance as a Rodian, your chance is right around the corner.

Discussion Posted by rgmekanic 3:20 PM (CDT)

NY Municipalities to Charge Miners More For Electricity

UtilityDive is reporting that New York regulators will allow municipal power providers to charge higher rates to cryptocurrency mining operations. Electricity costs for high-density load customers will increase beginning in March, said the PSC, if customers they do not quality for economic assistance, and have a maximum demand exceeding 300kW, and a load density that exceeds 250kWh per square foot per year.
This isn't the first time we have covered the massive power consumption that cryptocurrency mining brings with it. Just last week we wrote of a town in Washington experiencing first hand the results. Good to see New York deal with this, hopefully more will be on board.

In upstate New York, there are at least three cryptocurrency companies operating, and in some cases, these customers account for a third of their local muni's load, according to the Public Service Commission.

Discussion Posted by rgmekanic 2:53 PM (CDT)

Are More Expensive Motherboards Better Motherboards?

Are More Expensive Motherboards Better Motherboards? Dan, our resident motherboard reviewer for 10 years, addresses that question.

In this editorial Dan Dobrowolski digs into his lifelong experience in the tech sector as well as his more than 10 years of reviewing motherboards for HardOCP and tries to answer a very simple question. While the question is very simple, the depth of answers may surprise you. We have a list of nine things to consider.

Discussion Posted by Kyle 1:34 PM (CDT)

Tobii and Qualcomm Teaming Up to Bring Eye Tracking to Mobile VR/AR Headsets

Tobii and Qualcomm want to bring eye tracking to mobile VR/AR products. Mobile headsets using this eye tracking technology will take advantage of foveated rendering and allow high level graphics where the eye is looking in real time. This will enable devices to be more efficient and use less power. Some other nice features are interactive eye contact that will make immersion better in social scenes as well as improving hand-eye coordination. Overall, this is the next step forward for improved VR/AR devices and I hope they are successful in bringing this to market in the next generation of headsets. Check out the video from Tobii on eye tracking.

"Qualcomm is focused on transforming the way that people use mobile technologies for entertainment and productivity," said Hiren Bhinde, director of Product Management, XR Technologies, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. "We added support for Tobii's eye tracking solution to our new Snapdragon 845 VR development kits to help developers create new experiences using a higher quality of gaze interaction that we think will ultimately provide consumers with more intuitive, visually immersive experiences."

Discussion Posted by Montu 1:15 PM (CDT)

Linus Torvalds Gives His Opinion on Latest AMD "Security Bugs"

If you were wondering what Linus thinks of the latest findings on AMD "security bugs" by CTS Labs you came to the right place. Let me just say that he doesn't think too much of these so-called flaws or the company that brought them to light. You might want to go and take a look at his entire thread.

At what point will security people admit they have an attention-whoring problem?

Discussion Posted by Montu 12:45 PM (CDT)

No New Cryptocurrency Farms for the Next 18 Months in Plattsburgh

Because of increased costs to tax payers for electric power, the city council in Plattsburgh has approved a moratorium on new cryptocurrency farms in the city. Apparently, the city has low electric costs because of hydro power in the area, but once they reach a certain level of use the power costs go up for all tax payers in the city. There are two farms in the city currently and tax payers have been complaining of rising electric rates and they blame it on the farms. It appears that the city agrees. Thanks cageymaru.

"It's a comparative advantage for these companies to come in and get the cheap electric, and they're going to keep coming in until the electric price gets very close to the commercial rates and its going to punish the local taxpayers and the ratepayers," resident Jeff Moore said.

Discussion Posted by Montu 11:55 AM (CDT)

AMD Jabs Intel Good Over Spectre/Meltdown Problems

AMD has a nice little sign set up in their booth over at Cloudfest in Germany. In a nut shell they take a nice little shot at Intel over their Spectre/Meltdown woes. You have to see it to believe it and I'm sure you'll love it as much as I did. Check out the twitter post that brought this to our attention.
Discussion Posted by Montu 11:15 AM (CDT)

Payday 2: VR Available in Main Game

I have good news for all of you VR fans out there that weren't part of the Payday 2 VR beta - VR is now part of the main game. Go now and update your game in Steam and give it a try. It looks pretty good to me. Let those of us without VR gear know how you like it. Thanks cageymaru.

Nearly the entire game is now unlocked and available to our VR heisters, with a few exceptions that are still in development. Play all heists with just about all weapons that are available in the game. Bring a sniper rifle with a magnified scope to cover your friends from afar, or why not stand on the front line with an LMG and a rocket launcher? Afterwards you could blast into the distance in a Longfellow packed with goats, it’s your choice!

Discussion Posted by Montu 10:40 AM (CDT)

Microsoft Now Offering Lots of Intel Microcode Patches in Their Update Catalog

Microsoft has decided to step up to the plate and offer Intel microcode patches because some OEMs just aren't doing what they should with BIOS updates. KB4090007 updates the microcode for several Intel processors, but the original Spectre/Meltdown patch has to be in place to install this update. This update must be manually installed so go to the Windows Update Catalog to get it.

Microsoft's custom updates are only meant for Windows 10 version 1709 and Windows Server, version 1709 (Datacenter, Standard) users, and not for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 machines. Microsoft's original Meltdown and Spectre patches must be already installed.

Discussion Posted by Montu 10:10 AM (CDT)

Intel Now Offering System Studio for Free

Intel has changed their licensing model for System Studio and now they're offering it as a free 90-day renewable commercial license as well as a paid version with full Intel technical support. If you have a business and are interested in it then just head over to the download page and register. Thanks cageymaru.

Use Intelآ® System Studio with a free commercial license backed by community forum support. This license allows usage for 90 days, and can be refreshed an unlimited number of times to use the latest version. You can convert at any time to a paid license, which provides Priority Support for one year.

Discussion Posted by Montu 9:55 AM (CDT)

Google Tricked Again Into Serving Up Scam Amazon Ads

Those wily scammers have once again tricked Google into serving up a scam Amazon ad. This one showed up at the top of the search list and looked like a normal Amazon ad and once you clicked it you were sent to a page the mimicked Apple or Windows support pages and told you your computer was infected with malware. This ad stayed up for hours and I'm sure lots of people clicked it since Amazon is the most searched retail company on the internet. BTW, this isn't a one-off for Google because this is at least the second time this has happened in the last two years. I wonder how many people fell for this? Get your act together Google.

It's at least the second time in two years that Google has served up a malicious ad under Amazon's name. Over the past year, we've heard of several cases of bad ads that have redirected users to malicious pages, but to our knowledge have never directly served malware.

Discussion Posted by Montu 9:40 AM (CDT)

Another Government Employee Caught Mining Crypto With Government Equipment

An employee with the Department of Citrus in Florida has been arrested for mining with state owned IT equipment. He was discovered when the electric bill for his department rose by more than 40 percent over a four month period. To make things worse for himself he used his state purchasing card to buy 24 GPU's for his operation that resulted in credit card charges exceeding $22,000 over a six month period. That's a nice way to end your career with charges of grand theft and official misconduct. When are they going to learn? Thanks cageymaru.

Matthew McDermott, 51, of Davenport was the information technology manager for the Florida Department of Citrus, the agency that oversees the state’s citrus industry. According to FDLE agents, he used several computers in the Department of Citrus to mine for virtual currency, which include bitcoin and litecoin.

Discussion Posted by Montu 9:05 AM (CDT)

Flying Taxis Getting Closer to Reality

Larry Page, co-founder of Google, and his Kitty Hawk startup are testing a self-flying taxi in New Zealand. It's electric, takes off vertically, has a range of 60 miles and a top speed of 95 mph. Other companies are working on similar ideas, but it looks like Kitty Hawk might have the lead. Regardless of who gets there first they're going to have to convince me these things are as safe and reliable as their ground bound predecessors before I get into one. Check out the video of the Cora.
Discussion Posted by Montu 8:35 AM (CDT)

Walmart Might Get Into the Farming Drone Business

Walmart applied for 6 patents last year that relate to drones in the agriculture business. One of the patents is for a drone that can do the work of bee to ensure pollination of crops and another can watch for pests and then get the right kind of pesticide on the crop. Since 56% of their total revenue comes from grocery sales it's easy to see why they are interested in farming drones. Time will tell whether or not these patents become products, but if anyone has the wherewithal to do it it's Walmart.

The market for agricultural drones will top $1 billion by 2024, up from about $338 million in 2016, according to research firm Global Market Insights. However, Walmart’s patent applications stand out because they indicate the company sees greater potential to address problems on farms, rather than simply spot them, said David Dvorak, chief executive officer for Field of View, a U.S. company that sells drone camera systems. "It sounds like Walmart is trying to develop a complete system that can actually do something about it," Dvorak said.

Discussion Posted by Montu 8:10 AM (CDT)
Thursday March 15, 2018

The Crew 2 Will Be Released June 29th

DSOGaming is reporting that Ubisoft's The Crew 2 will launch on June 29th. The sequel is being developed by French studio, Ubisoft Ivory Tower, and sports a fully redesigned map of the USA, as well as boat and aircraft racing and exploration.
I was really excited for the original "The Crew," even bought the game with the season pass, but was quickly angered when Ubisoft didn't include Wild Run within the season pass, or even a discount for people who had purchased it. Hopefully the new map is substantially larger as well.

Players will find challenges and inspiration among four different motorsports families: street racing, off-road, pro racing and freestyle, and will be given a broad set of options among a wide selection of vehicle types.

Discussion Posted by rgmekanic 5:15 PM (CDT)

Toys R Us Is Closing All Its U.S Stores

Apparently there isn't going to be anywhere that a kid can be a kid soon. The Washington Post is reporting that Toys R Us is planning to sell or close all 800 of its U.S stores six months after they filed for bankruptcy. The closing will affect as many as 33,000 jobs as the 60 year old mainstay fades away. One positive note is a group of toymakers submitted a bid to buy 82 Toys R Us stores in Canada, and is looking into buying as many as 400 U.S stores, which they would still operate under the Toys R Us name.
Truly a shame, but hopefully Isaac Larian and his group can keep some of them around. I'm still bummed out about Montgomery Wards and now this. Thanks to @NeghVar for this bit of nostalgia though.

Isaac Larian, chief executive of MGA Entertainment said, There is no toy business without Toys R Us," noting that he sold his first product to the chain in 1979. "It’s a big deal and I’m going to try to salvage as much of it as possible."

Discussion Posted by rgmekanic 4:18 PM (CDT)

Agony System Requirements Announced

The first-person survival horror game set in hell, Agony releases on March 30th, and developer Madmind Studio has announced the system requirements. Minimum specs needed (low settings, 30FPS)

Processor: Intel Core i3 @ 3,20GHz / AMD Phenom II X4 955- 4core @ 3,2 GHz or faster RAM: 8 gigabyte (GB) Hard disk space: 17 GB Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 2GB / Radeon R9 280 DirectX: 11 System: Windows: 7/8/10 64-bit

Recommended (ultra settings, 60FPS)

Processor: Intel Core i5-8400 / AMD Ryzen 5 1600 or faster RAM: 16 gigabyte (GB) Hard disk space: 17 GB Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB / Radeon RX 580 DirectX: 11 System: Windows: 7/8/10 64-bit

This game looks absolutely brutal. I was going to put a video of a trailer or some gameplay, but I honestly could not find one that was remotely safe for work. I asked the developer at what resolution are the specs they are requiring, and at the time of writing I have not gotten an answer.

Agony is a first-person, survival horror set in hell. You will begin your journey as a tormented soul within the depths of hell without any memories about your past. The special ability to control people on your path, and possess demons, gives you the measures to survive.

Discussion Posted by rgmekanic 3:31 PM (CDT)

Stores Use Database To Track And Decline Returns

NBC News is reporting that major retailers are using a database ran by an analysis firm called "The Retail Equation" to track and deny returns. The database uses unknown thresholds to calculate weather or not a shopper is a risk, and subsequently denying them the ability to return a product to a store. Recently, a customer was flagged at a Best Buy attempting to return 3 phone cases he had purchased as gifts, and as informed he was banned from making any returns for 1 year, and was directed to request his report from The Retail Equation. The report only showed the 3 cell phone cases, but when he requested the ban to be lifted, he was declines, and an appeal to Best Buy was referred back to The Retail Equation.
I found it hard to believe that this was not illegal. I did a little digging and found a list of return and refund laws by state. I must say it's still a little shady in my opinion, and just another reason to search out retailers with good customer service practices.

Just over 1 percent of all returns are likely fraudulent, according to estimates from a 2017 survey of retailers by the National Retail Federation - but that's a large enough number that stores now scan your driver's license when you want to make a return, in order to look up your transaction history and see whether you should be allowed to make the return.

Discussion Posted by rgmekanic 2:43 PM (CDT)

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