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Tuesday April 24, 2018

Tuesday Morning Hunt Showdown Streaming

WickedLux is getting his 1337 level Hunt Showdown on!
Watch live video from wickedlux on
Ongoing Discussion Posted by Kyle 2:08 AM (CDT)
Monday April 23, 2018

AMD Combat Crate Bundle Leaked

In quite a surprise today, a seller on Amazon has leaked the "AMD Combat Crate." According to the listing the bundle is in stock now, and includes a Ryzen 5 1600 CPU, and MSI Gaming RX580 GPU, and an MSI B350 Tomahawk motherboard for $599. This is likely a mistake in the listing, as the reviews appear to be for the processor itself, and not the "Combat Crate."
WOW! This was unexpected, and a really good value. Not to mention this helps cards get into the hands of gamers. I'd love to see the next iteration be a "build a box" kind of thing. Give me an APU and motherboard to build a new HTPC out of paired with a Vega 64 to put in my gaming rig please.

The AMD Combat Crate comes stocked with the essential hardware you need to push your game to the next level and lay waste to the competition. With a lightning fast Ryzen processor, powerful Radeon RX graphics backed by revolutionary Radeon Software Adrenaline Edition and a future-ready MSI motherboard - the AMD Combat Crate is the ultimate arsenal for gamers

Discussion Posted by rgmekanic 8:41 PM (CDT)

How Accurate are Canned PC Benchmarks?

DigitalFoundry has posted a new video on YouTube, asking the question "Just How Useful/Accurate Are PC Benchmarks Anyway?"In the video Alex goes over the differences between canned benchmarks like those found in Tomb Raider, and Metro Last Light to see how they compare with actual in game performance. This is quite a problem, where canned benchmarks do not necessarily represent actual performance while playing the title. I can't believe it's taken someone so long as to think that canned benchmarks may misrepresent gameplay. Oh wait... Kyle first pointed it out in 2001 with the Quake 3 Arena benchmark.... And again in 2003 Kyle and our GPU Editor Brent Justice looked at the validity of 3DMark03... Culminating in Kyle and Brent working together once again in "Benchmarking the Benchmarks" in 2008 when they completely dissected real world gameplay vs Timedemo benchmarking in Crysis.
Anyone want to bet if Digital Foundry keeps using built-in benchmarks. I won't, but hey, maybe it will make more people aware of the problems with built-in demos, and hopefully stop giving them so much weight when predicting video card performance. But with anything in the PC or PC gaming world, don't forget. Thanks to @cageymaru for the story. DIscussion Posted by rgmekanic 6:51 PM (CDT)

Hackers Attack Medical Equipment

In a blog post today from Symantec, they announce that they have identified an attack group named "Orangeworm" has been deploying virus' against the healthcare sector and related industries. 40% of Orangeworms victims have been within the healthcare industry, but they aren't just going for PCs, the Kwampirs malware was found on X-Ray and MRI machines, as well as machines used to assist patients in completing consent forms.
Scary stuff, with as tech heavy as the healthcare system is, aside from patient, employee, and hospital records, the thought of the data or control they could get from a piece of medical equipment in unsettling to say the least.

Kwampirs uses a fairly aggressive means to propagate itself once inside a victim's network by copying itself over network shares. While this method is considered somewhat old, it may still be viable for environments that run older operating systems such as Windows XP. This method has likely proved effective within the healthcare industry, which may run legacy systems on older platforms designed for the medical community. Older systems like Windows XP are much more likely to be prevalent within this industry.

Discussion Posted by rgmekanic 5:37 PM (CDT)

YouTube Networks Drop Thousands of Creators

Polygon is reporting that the future of multi-channel networks is in question, as thousands of creators are purged from Fullscreen, Ritual, BBTV, and more MCNs. Starting a few weeks ago, Fullscreen started dropping creators from their network, seemingly without cause, however now, in an an email, Fullscreen told one of its former creators that they had been dropped because of "a decision that comes from YouTube and is out of our control." Messages from Howard Pinsky, director of creator marketing at Fullscreen posted on a public Discord had this to say:

"YouTube is 'forcing' all networks to remove creators that are at risk of violating terms of service (copyright issues, misleading thumbnails, etc)," Pinsky said, according to a screenshot of that message. "This isn't a decision from the networks, but one from YouTube. They're really starting to clean up the platform. Fullscreen (and other networks) have zero say in this. This is a decision from YouTube. From what they explained to us, many channels that posed a risk of violating YouTube's terms of service, even if no strikes were present, were released."

While I've never understood the point of an MCN for 99% of creators, this is still yet another way YouTube is driving smaller channels off it's platform. I'm still hoping that Pornhub comes out with a "Youhub" or something for people to migrate to. Thanks to @cageymaru for the story. Discussion Posted by rgmekanic 5:04 PM (CDT)

Microsoft Developers Hid Crossword Puzzle in Backgrounds

Over the weekend, former Microsoft director that was leading the team working on the redesign of Windows 8, Jensen Harris, went to Twitter to talk about a little secret. The developers working on Windows 8 created a puzzle, and embedded it into wallpapers used for internal builds of the Operating System. The reason? The team knew the images, and probably the internal builds would get leaked, so they figured they would have some fun.
Cool stuff, I always like learning about little hidden things within games and other software. And if nothing else, now we have a name on who to blame for Windows 8, so that's good.

But, despite months of the grid of letters on 1000's of PCs at Microsoft and pirated to who-knows-how-many computers outside, I am aware of only one person figuring out definitively that it was a puzzle and solving it. A dev from Ireland solved it and sent us the answer in 2011.

Discussion Posted by rgmekanic 3:55 PM (CDT)

Hackers Gonna Hac....uh Get Stoned

This article proclaims that the FBI is hurting to find good hackers due to these guys being a bunch of potheads. Then goes on to offer zero proof that any of this is actually happening. I think the author got stoned and forgot what he learned in journalism class. All that said, maybe it is really all the blow that keeping everyone away? Daily clickbait goal attained!

The FBI has a three year waiting period for weed imbibers. And if another different illegal substance has been used, such as cocaine or ecstasy, the waiting period turns into 10 years. This policy isn’t hurting hackers, unless it was their lifelong dream to join, but it could be hurting our cyber security during a time when that’s simply unacceptable.

Discussion Posted by Kyle 2:56 PM (CDT)

NVIDIA AI Inpainting Is Cool as Hell

No matter what you think about NVIDIA and its anti-competitive GPP, its AI powered Inpainting is damn cool to see in action. It is not perfect, but what it is getting done in real time is amazing. Taking away Borgnine's trademark crazy eyebrows is across the line however.

Researchers from NVIDIA, led by Guilin Liu, introduced a state-of-the-art deep learning method that can edit images or reconstruct a corrupted image, one that has holes or is missing pixels. The method can also be used to edit images by removing content and filling in the resulting holes. Learn more about their research paper "Image Inpainting for Irregular Holes Using Partial Convolutions."

Discussion Posted by Kyle 11:55 AM (CDT)

GIGABYTE Reports Precision Boost 2 Working on X370

We have now gotten confirmation that Precision Boost 2 is working on Gigabyte's X370 AMD motherboards. PB2 = GOOD. We are working diligently to bring you more data on all of this soon as to what exactly it means to you and your cooling. You can read more of PB2 in our Ryzen 2700X review.

Kyle: Will your company be updating X370 motherboard UEFI to support AMD Precision Boost 2? Is so, please be specific as to what model motherboards will be updated and please supply a timeline. Thanks! Gigabyte: They already do. XFR2 is enabled and working on both chipsets with latest BIOS/AGESA.

Discussion Posted by Kyle 11:11 AM (CDT)

Hunt Showdown Roadmap Update

We are big fans of Crytek's Hunt Showdown around here. (We know you probably could not tell.) Crytek has just pushed out a roadmap update that will address some concerns and improvements that players have been asking for. If you have not played Hunt Showdown yet, for an Early Release title, it is probably one of the most polished we have ever seen. And if you are fans of Crytek's past gaming engines, this one will not disappoint in terms of just how beautiful the environments are. The nighttime maps are simply incredible to see. As you know, Crytek engines can be quite GPU and CPU intensive. Crytek did also just push out a performance patch that will help you guys with older PCs out in terms of framerates.

Early Access means developing the game together with our community. So we've looked at your comments and made the following additions to the first big roadmap milestone, going live on the Test Server very soon: Fall damage - Poisonous weapons - More traits (12 in total) - Bunny-hopping restrictions (jumping will now drain some of your stamina) - Stance indicator

I have about 170 hours now in Hunt Showdown and all the changes above, I am onboard for. Especially the nerfing of the bunny hopping! This is easily my GOTY. And it can really push your hardware. Discussion Posted by Kyle 10:14 AM (CDT)

Sexting is a Good

Sexting is great for long term committed relationships! Then your wife finds out and it is all downhill from there.

While sexting may seem like a flirty form of communication mostly used by people looking for a fling, it turns out that those who benefit the most from sending steamy messages are actually in long-term, committed relationships. The study revealed that both men and women reported greater "positive consequences" from sexting in committed relationships than in casual ones. Further, about half of sexters reported that it "positively influenced their sexual and emotional relationships with a partner." Research also shows that those in a committed relationship who sent sexual pictures to their partners reported more positive sexual and emotional outcomes than those in casual relationships.

Discussion Posted by Kyle 9:45 AM (CDT)

Dead Men's Phones Tell No Tales This Time

What do the police in Florida do when they cannot unlock a dead man's phone? They head over to the funeral home and grab his cold dead hand and mash away with it. While this is not technically illegal in terms of searches, it seems some folks were not happy with the intrusion. And after all that, the phone still did not unlock.

Lt. Randall Chaney said it was an unsuccessful attempt to access and preserve data on the phone to aid in the investigation into Phillip’s death and a separate inquiry into drugs that involved Phillip, 30. While Chaney said detectives didn’t think they’d need a warrant because there is no expectation of privacy after death — an opinion several legal experts affirmed — the actions didn’t sit right with Phillip’s family.

Discussion Posted by Kyle 8:32 AM (CDT)

MSI X370 Motherboard UEFI Support for Precision Boost 2

I reached out to MSI last week to see when and if it would be updating its X370 chipset motherboards to support Precision Boost 2, that we found to work so good on our water cooled Ryzen 2700X, and it tells us that the support is already in all its X370 EFI. That seems like it happened fairly quickly, but I guess that is a good thing.

The X370 BIOS on the website [already] supports AMD Precision Boost 2.

Discussion Posted by Kyle 8:08 AM (CDT)
Sunday April 22, 2018

Windows 10 Lean: Microsoft Working on Cut-Down Version of OS

Microsoft is releasing a lighter version of Windows 10 for Redstone 5, the big OS update due out in the Fall. Dubbed "Windows 10 Lean," it features an installer 2GB smaller than Windows 10 Pro and loses basics such as wallpaper, drivers for CD/DVD drives, and apps like Regedit.

It is not clear what Microsoft plans to do with the SKU. It may simply be intended for virtual machines, or Microsoft may be looking to make another go at a version of Windows for really low-powered devices.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 4:00 PM (CDT)

People’s Gmail Accounts Appear to Be Sending Out Spam

Google’s engineering teams have acknowledged an issue in which certain Gmail accounts are sending out spam. At least some of these accounts had two-factor authentication enabled, and despite changing passwords, users found that the spamming continued.

We are aware of a spam campaign impacting a small subset of Gmail users and have actively taken measures to protect against it. This attempt involved forged email headers that made it appear as if users were receiving emails from themselves, which also led to those messages erroneously appearing in the Sent folder.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 3:25 PM (CDT)

AMD May Release a Ryzen 7 2800X CPU "Someday"

According to Senior Vice President and General Manager Jim Anderson, AMD did not bother releasing a 2800X because the recent Ryzen lineup (2600X and 2700X) already covers all current performance and price points. He does admit that a 2800X is not out of the question, which has led some to think that it will be used to counter Intel’s rumored 8C/16T CPU.

"We felt like, with the 2700X and 2700 at the performance and price points, we had that space covered. We just felt that with those two SKUs we had it sufficiently covered where we wanted to position the product. That doesn’t preclude a 2800X someday, right, maybe. But for now we believe those two SKUs cover the space well."

Discussion Posted by Megalith 3:00 PM (CDT)

James Cameron Hopes for "Avengers" Fatigue

While the legendary director of "Terminator" and "Aliens" admits that he enjoys the occasional comic book movie, part of him hopes that they come to an end soon, as they are dominating the sci-fi genre but all tell a similar story with comparable set pieces and themes. James Cameron hopes to diversify things with his Avatar sequels, which he describes as family dramas akin to "The Godfather."

"I’m hoping we’ll start getting ‘Avenger’ fatigue here pretty soon," Cameron said. "Not that I don’t love the movies. It’s just, come on guys, there are other stories to tell besides hyper-gonadal males without families doing death-defying things for two hours and wrecking cities in the process. It’s like, oy!"

Discussion Posted by Megalith 2:35 PM (CDT)

Philips’ Momentum 436M6VBPAB Will Support DisplayHDR 1000 and Adaptive Sync

Philips is releasing a new 43" MVA-panel display that flaunts VESA’s highest HDR certification, DisplayHDR 1000, which demands local dimming and a peak luminance of 1000 cd/m2. But despite this certification, it is arguably still "fake" HDR, as the panel is 8-bit (16 million colors) only and relies on FRC (frame rate control) to achieve more colors. A true HDR panel is 10-bit and capable of 1 billion colors.

With DisplayHDR 1000 and UHDA certifications, the Momentum 436M6VBPAB promises to deliver a great HDR experience with 97.6% coverage of the DCI-P3 color space, a peak brightness of over 1000 nits, local dimming for deeper blacks and support for 10-bit color (8-bit + FRC). The display will support HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2, mini DisplayPort and USB Type-C (DP alt mode) inputs, though at this time the monitor's Variable Refresh Rate (VRR range) is unknown.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 2:00 PM (CDT)

BT Pushes Ahead with Plans to Switch Off Telephone Network

British multinational telecommunications company BT is terminating its telephone network and shifting all customers over to IP telephony (internet-based voice calls via fiber) by 2025. Broadband, rather than voice, will constitute the primary service.

Other communications companies in Germany, Japan, Sweden, are already in the process of moving voice to run over IP. Orange has set a goal of having all IP (digital) networks by 2020, and Deutsche Telekom aims to migrate all its lines in Europe to digital by the end of 2018.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 1:20 PM (CDT)

Amazon Gets Tax Breaks While Its Employees Rely on Food Stamps

The Intercept is reporting that Amazon is effectively receiving a double subsidy by accepting food stamps for grocery orders, as many of its own employees are dependent on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. In at least four states, Amazon was featured on the list of top employers with SNAP recipients.

The American people are financing Amazon’s pursuit of an e-commerce monopoly every step of the way: first, with tax breaks, subsidies, and infrastructure improvements meant to lure fulfillment centers into town, and later with federal transfers to pay for warehouse workers’ food. And soon, when the company begins accepting SNAP dollars to purchase its goods, a third transfer of public wealth to private hands will become a part of the company’s business model.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 1:05 PM (CDT)

Obsidian: RPG Genre Can’t Evolve Because Players Are "Resistant to Change"

Fallout: New Vegas and Knights of the Old Republic II developer Obsidian Entertainment spoke at Reboot Develop this week and mentioned that they want to evolve the RPG genre radically, but it is difficult to do so because its audience is too traditional and demand elements such as hit points and stat tweaking. But Obsidian believes that RPGs are defined by how actions affect a story, not numbers.

"Fans tend to skew towards the more hardcore cases and they tend to be fairly resistant to change. I don’t want to paint too broad of a stroke there, but RPGs can be a lot more than we have done with them so far. There’s much more than we can do, and it’s much more radical." He pointed to Bethesda’s success with Fallout and The Elder Scrolls games as examples of a developer taking role-playing games in a different direction.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 12:40 PM (CDT)

LA Theater Debuts First LED Video Wall in US

Pacific Theatres Winnetka in Chatsworth, LA is the first to house Samsung’s LED cinema screen, which measures 33.8 feet wide and 17.7 feet high with nearly 9 million pixels. It is unlikely that adoption will be widespread, however, as each screen costs $500,000 to $700,000. A laser projector, in comparison, costs $150,000 to $300,000.

Tech vets who’ve seen demonstrations admit that the images these LED systems can produce are impressive, including their wide dynamic range (blacker blacks and whiter whites). However, a number of key factors still need to be addressed -- most notably cost, says Pete Lude, chief technology officer of engineering firm Mission Rock Digital.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 11:45 AM (CDT)

Net Neutrality Rules Expire Monday, as Lawmakers Push for Paid Data Prioritization

Net Neutrality rules will officially be repealed tomorrow. Coincidentally, US Representative Marsha Blackburn championed the idea of paid data prioritization at a hearing last week, effectively urging ISPs to charge customers more for fast lanes. Experts say that service providers will probably wait before screwing us, however.

I would also point out that in real life, all sorts of interactions are prioritized every day. Many of you sitting in this room right now paid a line-sitter to get priority access to this hearing. In fact, it is commonplace for the government itself to offer priority access to services. If you have ever used Priority Mail, you know this to be the case. And what about TSA pre-check? It just might have saved you time as you traveled here today.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 11:20 AM (CDT)

"Firewatch" Developer Campo Santo Has Been Acquired by Valve

The developers of first-person mystery adventure game Firewatch, Campo Santo, has announced that they are joining Valve, where they will continue production on their current project, In the Valley of Gods. Apparently, Gabe Newell was not joking when he said Valve would be making and shipping games again.

In Valve we found a group of folks who, to their core, feel the same way about the work that they do (this, you may be surprised to learn, doesn’t happen every day). In us, they found a group with unique experience and valuable, diverse perspectives. It quickly became an obvious match.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 10:50 AM (CDT)

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