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Sunday July 23, 2017

Say Goodbye to These Windows 10 Features in the Fall Creators Update

Microsoft has published a support document revealing what features will be removed or deprecated in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update: these include the Paint application, Outlook Express, screen saver functionality in Themes, System Image Backup (SIB) Solution, and Windows PowerShell 2.0.

The following features and functionalities in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update are either removed from the product in the current release ("Removed") or are not in active development and might be removed in future releases ("Deprecated"). This list is intended to help customers consider these removals and deprecations for their own planning. The list is subject to change and may not include every deprecated feature or functionality.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 11:00 AM (CDT)

Fukushima Disaster: Robot Finds Possible Melted Nuclear Fuel

An underwater robot investigating the inside of reactor 3 at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant has captured what is believed to be the first images of melted nuclear fuel deposits. Obviously, this is very bad news: melted nuclear fuel is one of the most toxic substances known to man, and it’s been pouring into the North Pacific for some time at an uncontrolled rate, affecting much of marine life.

This is the first time Tepco has found something likely to be melted fuel. When the utility sent a different robot into reactor 2 in January, it found black lumps sticking to the grating in the primary containment vessel but said they were difficult to identify. The objects spotted this time look like icicles hanging around a control rod drive attached to the bottom of the pressure vessel, which holds the core, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. said at an evening news conference Friday.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 10:30 AM (CDT)

2017’s Top 10 Programming Languages: Python Ranks No. 1

IEEE Spectrum released their fourth interactive ranking of programming languages this week, and Python has earned the top spot, nudging out C and Java, which took second and third place respectively. Ruby has dropped out of the list completely, while Swift has entered at tenth place.

Python has continued its upward trajectory from last year and jumped two places to the No. 1 slot, though the top four -- Python, C, Java, and C++ -- all remain very close in popularity. Indeed, in Diakopoulos’s analysis of what the underlying metrics have to say about the languages currently in demand by recruiting companies, C comes out ahead of Python by a good margin.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 10:00 AM (CDT)
Saturday July 22, 2017

Firefox Can Now Open a Ridiculous Number of Tabs in Seconds

A tab hoarder at Mozilla decided to document the performance of the latest versions of Firefox and found that the engineers responsible for improving the browser’s responsiveness have actually been doing their jobs: while Firefox 51 took nearly 8 minutes to open a profile comprising 1691 tabs, the same only took Firefox 55 and 56 a couple of seconds. Another bar graph shows that memory usage is significantly reduced in the latter versions.

Graph of startup time with 1691 tabs across Firefox versions 20, 30, 40 and 50 - 56. The Y axis is minutes. Yes, Firefox 51 took almost 8 MINUTES to start up. However, as of Firefox 55 it only takes 15 seconds. For 1691 tabs. Really. I no longer fear restarts. Lately, I just restart Firefox for fun sometimes. It's interesting that Firefox startup time got consistently worse over time until Firefox 51. It'd be interesting to do this test with varying numbers of tabs and find out at what point these types of regressions become noticeable.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 4:00 PM (CDT)

Justice League Trailer Debuts at Comic-Con

As expected, Warner Bros. released the full-length Justice League trailer during their panel today at the San Diego Comic-Con. Say what you will about Zack Snyder, but nobody is able to create visuals quite like him: the Themyscira shots alone look leaps and bounds above what we saw in the Wonder Woman film. Sadly, Joss Whedon is reportedly reshooting numerous scenes for the movie, so there might be some level of inconsistency.
Discussion Posted by Megalith 3:10 PM (CDT)

Intel’s Principal Engineer Quits after 20 Years

Francois Piednoel has announced that he will no longer be working at Intel. According to his Linkedin profile, Mr. Piednoel had been with the company since 1997, where he worked on a slew of processors including Katmai, Conroe, Penryn, and Nehalem, as well as SoCs in Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, Haswell, Broadwell, Skylake, and Kaby Lake. No, he isn’t leaving for AMD (or so he claims).
Discussion Posted by Megalith 2:50 PM (CDT)

Electric Car Sales Reach 40% Growth in the US

The rise of electric cars seems inevitable: while countries like Norway have already witnessed EVs comprising 42% of total new car sales, the latest figures suggest that the US is slowly but surely following suit. Some say that EV sales could reach 20% by 2025, while others are even more optimistic due to the impending launch of vehicles such as the Model 3, Nissan Leaf, and Audi E-Tron Quattro.

Peter O’Connor of the Union of Concerned Scientists noted this week that the US electric vehicle market saw a 32% annual growth rate between 2012-2016 and it is now reaching 40%. He makes a projection based on the growth rate: "But what if the market were actually hitting a "tipping point" such that this recent growth could continue? If a 40% growth rate could be sustained for the next six years, then we would see EVs reach 10% of US vehicle sales in 2023, and possibly near 20% by 2025." That’s encouraging, but as we previously reported, the current growth is likely to be dwarfed by what’s coming in the next 2 years.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 2:20 PM (CDT)

Analyst Insists That Japanese Games Are Irrelevant

Despite the fact that some of this year’s highest-rated and best-selling games are Japanese, analyst Michael Pachter doesn’t think they matter and considers them irrelevant to the larger market. He suggests that games can only be successful nowadays if they have "western appeal," implying that Japanese games are merely a niche. He does admit that Nintendo is a big exception, however.

"Persona 5 was really, seriously, the first Japanese game that I liked in years, outside of Kojima and Nintendo stuff. But no, I don’t think it matters. There’s going to be the occasional Final Fantasy that will sell like 8 or 10 or 20 million games, but the Japanese games that ultimately work are games like Metal Gear, the ones that have a western appeal to them, those are the ones that have mass appeal. The ones that have Japanese appeal, don’t have mass appeal, and they don’t translate well to other cultures."

Discussion Posted by Megalith 1:40 PM (CDT)

Razer Is Making a Gaming Smartphone for "Hardcore Gamers"

Razer is currently targeting a $5 billion IPO in Hong Kong so the company can expand in China, and some of those funds will reportedly be used toward the development of a gaming smartphone. Based on the company’s buyout of Nextbit, the device may very likely be powered by Android. Razer is also developing a virtual currency called zGold and a software platform that connects and launches games for some 35 million users.

The company -- which makes accessories from mice to laptops that bear a green tri-headed snake -- is developing a mobile device tailored for its consumer base of hardcore gamers, according to the people. Razer’s share sale, which will give it ample ammunition to develop new gadgets, will seek to value the company at $3 billion to $5 billion, the people said, asking not to be identified talking about internal plans. It aims to list around October, the people said.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 1:05 PM (CDT)

Big Smartphones Ate the Tablet Market

According to data in a new forecast by research firm Forrester, the number of tablets in active use will decline for the first time this year, and interest will continue to decline by 1 percent over the next five years. Smartphones with large screens are supposedly to blame, but I suspect that light and powerful 2-in-1 laptops are also contributing to the decay.

Big phones are to blame, especially in developing markets like China and India where most - 65 percent and 62 percent, respectively - smartphone owners have big screens, between 5 inches and 6 inches in diagonal (an iPhone 7 Plus measures 5.5 inches diagonally). Accordingly, just 6.4 percent of the population in China and 1.1 percent in India have tablets, according to Forrester. Smartphones are often the primary devices for people in developing nations to connect to the internet, and it’s where smartphone sales are growing the fastest. Bigger smartphones let users complete a wider range of activities - and also obviate the need for tablets.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 12:40 PM (CDT)

Mega Man Is Heading to the Big Screen

A movie adaptation of Mega Man is reportedly moving forward: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, who recently directed "Nerve" and "Viral," are in final negotiations to write and direct. I am having a difficult time imagining how they can translate the franchise into live action while keeping things faithful to the series.

Chernin Entertainment is producing the project with Heroes actor Masi Oka. Twentieth Century Fox worked for over two years to acquire the rights and finally closed a deal earlier this year. The video game, first released in 1987 by Capcom, centers on a robotic lab assistant created by a scientist named Dr. Light. Light is betrayed by a colleague, the disgruntled Dr. Wily, who reprograms a line of robots in order to take over the world. The lab assistant, nicknamed Rock, then upgrades himself into combat mode in order to save mankind.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 12:10 PM (CDT)

China Aims to Be World’s AI Leader by 2025

China intends to become the world leader in artificial intelligence within a decade: the country has released a development plan aiming to grow the country's core AI industries to over 150 billion yuan ($22.15 billion) by 2020 and 400 billion yuan ($59.07 billion) by 2025. While China has already invested greatly in AI, it lags behind global leaders due to a lack of high-end computer chips, software, and trained personnel.

China is looking to rival U.S. market leaders such as Alphabet Inc's Google and Microsoft Corp, as it is keen not to be left behind in a technology that is increasingly key from smart cars to energy. "The local and central government are supporting this AI effort," said Rui Yong, chief technology officer at PC maker Lenovo Group, speaking on the sidelines of an AI conference in Shanghai on Thursday. "They see this trend coming and they want to invest more." Beijing's AI plan comes as the United States is poised to bolster its scrutiny of investments, including artificial intelligence, over fears that countries including China could access technology of strategic military importance.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 11:50 AM (CDT)

Is 7nm the Last Major Node?

A combination of technical difficulties, narrowing improvements in performance, and increasing costs is making the future of scaling ambiguous: despite the inevitable onset of 5nm, many companies cannot find a compelling reason to go down to 7nm, and emerging markets are expected to cling to older nodes instead. The brute force approach to shrinking no longer works, and some believe that the entire semiconductor industry may require a reset.’s simply getting harder to design, inspect and test chips at advanced nodes. Physical effects such as heat, electrostatic discharge and electromagnetic interference are more pronounced at 7nm than at 28nm. It also takes more power to drive signals through skinny wires, and circuits are more sensitive to test and inspection, as well as to thermal migration across a chip. All of that needs to be accounted for and simulated using multi-physics simulation, emulation and prototyping.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 11:35 AM (CDT)

Revenue from Office 365 Subscriptions Overtakes Traditional Office Software Licensing

Moving software to a subscription model has been a success for many companies, and it’s no different for Microsoft: an executive has revealed that Office 365, which launched in 2011, now earns more money than traditional versions. This edition of the suite allows the use of Office apps on both Windows and macOS, alongside immediate updates and storage space on OneDrive. I wonder what Microsoft will make a subscription service next.

...strength in Microsoft's cloud business, including Office 365 and Windows Azure, was the key to the company's growth. Of note, Microsoft CFO Amy Hood told analysts that, for the first time, Microsoft got more revenue from Office 365 subscriptions than from traditional Office software licensing. Why it matters: Microsoft has shown an ability to grow its business even as the PC market has stalled, reflecting moves the company made in the cloud both since Satya Nadella took over as CEO as well as some that were in place before he took over the top spot.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 10:40 AM (CDT)

Verizon Admits to Throttling Netflix

Earlier this week, a number of Verizon subscribers discovered that the carrier was capping Netflix at 10Mbps. The company has now admitted to the throttling, calling it a "network test" that "should be completed shortly." While 1080p video can be streamed without issue at those speeds, Verizon had boasted in the past of not manipulating its data like AT&T and T-Mobile. This is also a clear example of why net neutrality will be missed.

"We’ve been doing network testing over the past few days to optimize the performance of video applications on our network. The testing should be completed shortly. The customer video experience was not affected." While Verizon states that video experience was not affected for customers, that’s not exactly the point. With Title II still in effect, ISPs are required to treat all data equally, regardless of its origin. If Verizon is purposefully throttling (or placing caps on select applications), that’s a no-no.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 10:00 AM (CDT)

Intel Coffee Lake 6-Core CPU-Z Screenshot Leaked

CPU-Z readings of an Intel Coffee Lake 6-core processor have surfaced on Chinese tech site XFastest: the 8th generation chip will be based on an LGA1151 socket and feature a TDP of 80W, base clock of 3.5 GHz, and maximum multiplier of 43.
Discussion Posted by Megalith 9:35 AM (CDT)

NASA Uploading Archival Flight Footage to YouTube

From the video vaults of NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center (formerly the Dryden Flight Research Center), the space agency is putting up hours of aerospace history onto YouTube. Nearly 300 clips have been posted so far with about 200 more that have not been uploaded yet. Previously, the video clips were only available on the Dryden Aircraft Movie Collection website and updated repository on the Armstrong website. Fair warning, you'll probably get stuck watching a good hour worth of videos. Unfortunately, none of the videos were narrated by Troy McClure. Check out a couple of videos

"NASA has so much digital content that tends to be overlooked by the public, given the difficulty that exists in actually locating the content," Rebecca Richardson, social media manager for NASA Armstrong, told me over email. "Our hope is that by moving the content to more accessible platforms, NASA fans and media personnel will be able to access the content more regularly and become more fully immersed in what is happening at NASA."

Discussion Posted by seth 3:32 AM (CDT)

Marvel's The Defenders Official Trailer 2

What do you get when a blind ninja, smart-ass detective, bulletproof ex-con and kung fu billionaire crosspaths? A new Netflix show featuring Marvel's very own The Defenders not to be confused with the Avengers. The four heroes from Netflix's Marvel street-level series have decided to band together to take on the forces of evil in the streets of New York. Looks to have a good mix of action and drama, maybe some technology involved. Check out the video.
Discussion Posted by seth 2:32 AM (CDT)

Just Cause 3 Multiplayer Mod Available on Steam

Anyone looking to kill sometime or some virtual opponents this weekend? Check out the release of Just Cause 3's Multiplayer Mod. Developed by nanos GbR, the fan-made mod is officially out almost 2 years after the game's original release date. Take part in the multiplayer chaos with unlimited possibilities and custom game modes including huge community events. The mod is a free download from Steam, but not surprisingly you will need to a copy of Just Cause 3. Check out the video.
Discussion Posted by seth 1:46 AM (CDT)
Friday July 21, 2017

Gamers Promised Better Graphics Thanks To Nano Technology Breakthrough

A new technology from the Australian National University promises ultra-fast rendering on gaming consoles. Senior ANU researcher Professor Dragomir Neshev says that currently, graphics are being "bottlenecked" by the copper wires used to transmit the data. So an international team of scientists have designed a tiny antenna, 100 times thinner than a human hair to transmit data between the processors in a gaming console.
So that's the problem. Stop upgrading now, it isn't your hardware, it's the 3" of copper traces between your CPU and GPU. I'm honestly at a loss for words about every part of this article.

In a similar way as the NBN (National Broadband Network), one can increase the data transmissions to improve the communication between the different chips on the computer, so we can see better high-resolution rendering and in general a better gaming experience.

Discussion Posted by rgmekanic 4:47 PM (CDT)

Shadow Warrior: Special Edition Free for 20 Hours on Humble Store

The Humble Store has Shadow Warrior: Special Edition for free for the next 20 hours as of this writing. This is the remastered version from 2013. And being the Special Edition you get some extras.
Fun game, full of bad jokes and an excellent melee combat system, it's worth paying for, for free it's a no brainer. Now bring on the Wang jokes! Discussion Posted by rgmekanic 4:07 PM (CDT)

FCC Says There Is No Documented 'Analysis' of the Cyberattack It Claims Crippled Its Website

In early May the FCC website was bombarded with traffic, which caused its website to temporarily crash while reportedly receiving 160 comments per minute about Net Neutrality. Gizmodo filed a FOIA request to get some information regarding records of the supposed cyber attack. The agency's chief information officer, David Bray, stated in a letter on May 8 that an "analysis" had revealed that the FCC was "subject to multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks," now however, the agency claims there is no documentation of an "analysys."
So why is there no documentation? Is it perhaps they found that this was not a DDoS attack, but instead an influx of pissed off Americans? All in the FCC only released 16 pages to Gizmodo with 209 pages related to the incident being refused to be released. Use this as a reminder to shoot a comment to the FCC and to write your representatives if you are in favor of Net Nutrality.

The agency claims that while its IT staff observed a cyberattack taking place, those observations "did not result in written documentation."

Discussion Posted by rgmekanic 3:45 PM (CDT)

Google Denies Claims Of A Homepage Revamp

Yesterday in a report from The Guardian claimed that Google would be changing it's stark white page to a "news feed". ARS Technica reached out to google, that deny the site is getting a revamp. The original report uses quotes and images from Google's July 19th blog post about news feed upgrades, but Google's post was only speaking about the mobile site and apps.
We reported on the original story yesterday, and wanted to be sure to post the clarification. Good news for those of us who don't want bloat. I did like iGoogle though.

Thanks for reaching out. Confirming that later this year, we hope to roll some version of the feed experience to on the mobile web. However, the design and functionality are still completely unconfirmed as this is still in testing phases. To be clear, we have no plans for desktop.

Discussion Posted by rgmekanic 2:04 PM (CDT)

Update From Twitter On It's Politically Correct Crackdown

Twitter has released a blog post outlining it's results from their "Safety Work." Ed Ho, the General Manager for Consumer Product and Engineering informs us that they are "taking action on 10x the number of abusive accounts every day compared to the same time last year." And limiting or suspending thousands of accounts each day.
We covered this in Feb. when the first crackdowns were happening, and it appears it hasn't gotten any better. Ed Ho goes on to say in the blog post that they have introduced new ways to customize your experience, including notification filters and muting keywords. All good ways to prevent getting triggered by differing opinions and keeping Twitter Mobs and being outraged alive and well.

Accounts that demonstrate abusive behavior are now limited for a time, and told why. Accounts that we put into this period of limited functionality generate 25% fewer abuse reports, and approximately 65% of these accounts are in this state just once.

Discussion Posted by rgmekanic 1:42 PM (CDT)

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