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The Final Bottom Line

We have written thousands of "The Bottom Lines" over the last couple of decades, but this is truly the last one. What I wrote in my "Goodbye HardOCP - Hello Intel" statement is not a cruel April Fool's Day joke. Tomorrow is my first day working for Intel...promise. I wanted to take a moment to say thanks to all you guys. The simple fact is that without YOU, there would not be 20 years of HardOCP history to sit around and reminisce about, but make no mistake it is the readers that made HardOCP what it is. We have long tried to gauge what you wanted to read about, and how you wanted that delivered, then we tried our best to fulfill that desire. During the last 20 years, there is no doubt that there were times that we stumbled along the way, but I always tried to learn from our shortcomings to make us better on the other side. And again, it was the readers that held our feet to the fire and made us get better at producing content that you wanted to read. The readers made HardOCP what it was. Many thanks to a long list of editors and hardware enthusiast that I have worked with here at HardOCP. While I am not going to list them all, Brent Justice, Paul Johnson, Dan Dobrowloski, and Cliff Murphy (our backend admin) have been with me the longest and truly made HardOCP better. Many thanks gentlemen! While HardOCP will no longer be publishing, the HardForum will still be going strong. I will still be part of that community and you will see me active there, so I will not be hard to find. You will also be seeing me all over the country very soon, hopefully close to your backyard, and if you get the chance, please swing by so we can talk Intel tech. If you want to keep tabs on what is going on with me, give my Twitter account a follow @KyleBennett. Ongoing Discussion
Posted by Kyle March 31, 2019 8:23 PM (CDT)

VRoamer Generates On-The-Fly VR Experiences While Walking Through Buildings

VRoamer is a new Microsoft Research project that generates VR worlds on-the-fly while users walk through unknown building environments. Players can wear their HMD and no longer have to rely on artificial locomotion techniques such as teleportation. They simply walk through their environment and the game is built around them. This is possible through the use of a wearable tech camera that scans the environment in front of the user and visualizes a playable virtual world. The system paints its virtual environment over real world objects such as doors. The system keeps the user safe from objects in the real world, even though those objects are hidden to the user. Transitions are done through corridors that are constructed to the available space in the user's environment. Players can open real doors to progress the game and the corridors may contain weapons, enemies, keys, etc. Objects that suddenly appear in a user's environment such as other people may become skeletons or traps.

In this paper, we present VRoamer, which enables users to walk unseen physical spaces for which VRoamer procedurally generates a virtual scene on-the-fly. Scaling to the size of office buildings, VRoamer extracts walkable areas and detects physical obstacles in real time using inside-out tracking, instantiates pre-authored virtual rooms if their sizes fit physically walkable areas or otherwise generates virtual corridors and doors that lead to undiscovered physical areas. The use of these virtual structures that connect pre-authored scenes on-the-fly allow VRoamer to (1) temporarily block users' passage, thus slowing them down while increasing VRoamer's insight into newly discovered physical areas, (2) prevent users from seeing changes beyond the current virtual scene, and (3) obfuscate the appearance of physical environments. VRoamer animates virtual objects to reflect dynamically discovered changes of the physical environment, such as people walking by or obstacles that become apparent only with closer proximity.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 22, 2019 4:47 PM (CDT)

The DHS Issues Medical Advisory for Medtronic Cardiac Devices

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a cybersecurity warning that documents vulnerabilities in the Medtronic Conexus Radio Frequency Telemetry Protocol. Medtronic makes cardio-defibrillators that are planted into a patient's chest and can be read and programmed by trained medical personnel. This allows the devices to communicate with home monitoring devices and Carelink programmers found at doctor's offices. These vulnerabilities require a low level of skill to exploit as the proprietary Conexus telemetry protocol utilized within this ecosystem does not implement authentication or authorization. An attacker can inject, replay, modify, and/or intercept data within the telemetry communication. This communication protocol provides the ability to read and write memory values to affected implanted cardiac devices; therefore, an attacker could exploit this communication protocol to change memory in the implanted cardiac device. Because the devices also lack encryption, attackers can listen to communications, including the transmission of sensitive data. Medtronics is working on developing updates to fix the vulnerabilities.

"It is possible with this attack to cause harm to a patient, either by erasing the firmware that is giving necessary therapy to the patient's heart, or by directly invoking shock related commands on the defibrillator," he said. "Since this protocol is unauthenticated, the ICD cannot discern if communications its receiving are coming from a trusted Medtronic device, or an attacker." A successful attacker could erase or reprogram the defibrillator's firmware, and run any command on the device.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 22, 2019 4:05 PM (CDT)

Microsoft Patent Describes a Persistence of Vision Augmented Reality Display

Microsoft has filed a patent for a new type of mixed-reality head-mounted display (HMD) called a Persistence of Vision Augmented Reality Display. The display uses movable screens to simulate a 360 degree field of view. These screens can rotate back and forth, spin around a user's head, or spin in front of the user's eyes. The device isn't guaranteed to ever see the light of day, but hopefully some of the ideas make it into other products.

Microsoft's patent FIG. 4A below illustrates a movement based display device with a movable member configured to rotate about a user's head; FIG. 4B illustrates a movement based display device with a movable member configured to reciprocate in front of user's eyes; FIG. 4C illustrates a movement based display device with movable members configured to spin in front of the user's eyes

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 22, 2019 3:17 PM (CDT)

Irdeto Launches Denuvo Anti Cheat

Denuvo's DRM software is extensively used throughout the AAA gaming industry, but it's also been the focus of several recent controversies. Some have accused it of degrading performance in the games that implement it, while others claim it barely puts a dent in the piracy of more popular titles. But at GDC 2019, Irdeto, the company behind Denuvo, officially launched an "Anti-Cheat solution to protect against cheating in video games and esports." They claim it combines game agnostic machine learning algorithms with "the latest hardware security features offered by Intel and AMD" for maximum effectiveness. All that sounds relatively hardware intensive to me, but Denuvo claims their technology has "no impact on the gameplay experience and its non-intrusive reporting methodology ensures the developer's workflow is never impacted." Denuvo didn't mention any specific customers in the press release or their product datasheets, but they did publish a cheesy video ahead of the launch, which you can see below:

Unlike other products, Denuvo Anti-Cheat operates on the binary, not the source code and integrates directly into the product build process. It also does not interfere with debuggers, instrumentation tools, or profilers and it does not require APIs or SDKs. This means fewer tools for the build engineers to manage and for developers to install.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 22, 2019 12:03 PM (CDT)

Ransomware Encourages Victims to Subscribe to PewDiePie

PewDiePie's battle with Bollywood star T-Series has pushed some of his more enthusiastic fans to extremes. A group of hackers used printers to promote their favorite YouTuber last year, and more recently, they hacked their way into Smart TVs, Chromecasts, and Google Home devices. Now, recent reports claim that new strains of ransomware are encouraging users to subscribe to PewDiePie. The "PewDiePie ransomware" released last year didn't even bother to save encryption keys, which means whatever user data it targeted was gone for good, while a new strain that popped up this January runs in Java to make detection more difficult. However, instead of asking for a ransom, the later program simply offers a link to PewDiePie's subscription page. It claims that public keys will be released if PewDiePie hits 100 million subscribers before T-Series, while the user's data will never see the light of day again if T-Series hits that mark first. ZDNet says the software was "put together as a joke," but still managed to infect a few users, and that the code is now publicly available on GitHub. Thanks to AceGoober for the tip, and check out a demonstration of the ransomware below:

Both ransomware strains show the level of idiocy the competition for YouTube's top spot has reached. While T-Series fans have remained mostly quiet most of this time, a portion of PewDiePie's fans appears to have lost their minds and engaged in media stunts bordering on criminal behavior... The message itself has become a meme, and not in a good way.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 22, 2019 9:26 AM (CDT)

Nvidia Releases "Creator Ready" RTX Drivers

Earlier this week, Nvidia rolled out a set of "creator ready" drivers that are compatible with consumer GPUs, but optimized for professional applications. This level of support is typically reserved for drivers that only work with pricey Quadro GPUs, but Nvidia says they've conducted "exhaustive multi-app testing" in programs like Adobe Premiere and After Effects. Support for this driver goes all the way back to Pascal cards, and extends to Nvidia's more affordable offerings like the GTX 1050 and the more recent 1660. Perhaps even more interestingly, Nvidia claims they've worked with a number of software vendors to leverage the raytracing and machine-learning muscle their RTX cards offer. Autodesk Arnold and Unreal Engine 4, for example, now support RTX accelerated rendering, and Redcine-X Pro seemingly uses Turing's updated video processing block to decode 8K video without taxing the CPU. Meanwhile, Lightroom uses "an extensively trained convolutional neural network to provide state-of-the-art image enhancing for RAW photographs." While I haven't tested Lightroom's new features myself, in my experience, neural networks can perform small miracles when processing images. Nvidia also claims the new driver features significant performance improvements in Photoshop, Premiere, Blender Cycles, and Cinema 4D.

"Creators are constantly faced with tight deadlines and depend on having the latest hardware and creative tools to complete their projects on time, without compromising quality," said Eric Bourque, senior software development manager at Autodesk. "We're excited that NVIDIA is introducing a Creator Ready Driver program because it will bring Arnold users an even higher level of support, helping them bring their creative visions to life faster and more efficiently." The first Creator Ready Driver is now available from NVIDIA.com or GeForce Experience. From GeForce Experience, you can switch between Game Ready and Creator Ready Drivers at any time by clicking the menu (three vertical dots in the top right corner). Creator Ready Drivers are supported for Turing-based GeForce RTX, GTX and TITAN GPUs, Volta-based TITAN V, Pascal-based GeForce GTX and TITAN GPUs, and all modern Quadro GPUs.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 22, 2019 8:57 AM (CDT)

Sound BlasterX G6 Review

Audio Science Review has tested the Sound BlasterX G6 and found it to be surprisingly good for a budget device in a feature-filled package. During DAC testing it was discovered that the device's SINAD would rocket up to 112 dB if the level was dialed down by 2 dBFS (digitally.) Linearity was spot on but intermodulation distortion was a concern. Amirm discovered that dialing down the device by 2dBFS fixed the issue. He speculated that "The G6 is USB powered and likely doesn't have enough capacitance in its DC input to ride out the lasting peaks at low frequencies." The headphone amplifier measured great, and the output was decent but "there is no sensation of infinite power and you would be operating near or at max volume" when using the amp with a pair of Sennheiser HD-650 headphones. The last issue that irritated him was the lack of a properly working ASIO driver on Creative's website. He really liked the Sound BlasterX G6 and the review is full of charts and measurements conducted with a $28,300 Audio Precision APx555.

ADC Audio Measurements I was pleased that feeding the G6 2 volt, resulted in 0 dBFS showing no overflow. Performance though is not all that great with SINAD in the high 70s. We have lots of distortion components together with mains leakage. Compared to high-end products, we are short some 40 dB! Definitely not splitting hairs here.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 21, 2019 7:32 PM (CDT)

Monster Hunter: World to Receive a 40GB High Resolution Texture Pack DLC

Capcom has announced Monster Hunter: World will receive a 40GB High Resolution Texture Pack DLC. The High Resolution Texture Pack will require 8GB of graphics memory (VRAM) and is free. Earlier this month, Capcom acknowledged that the PC is the 2nd most popular platform for Monster Hunter: World. Capcom's spokesperson was happy that the PC version of the game had broadened its appeal to users in Europe. Capcom has more expansions and content coming for the action game.

"We have announced Monster Hunter World Iceborne and will have more news to share in the future. Given the success of Monster Hunter World, it will be a key project for us," he said. "There is also more to come that I'm not allowed to discuss yet, if you want another interview with me on behalf of Capcom in the future."

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 21, 2019 3:46 PM (CDT)

Microsoft Announces Microsoft Defender ATP for Mac

Microsoft Defender ATP for Mac brings the same robust protection from Windows Defender to the Mac platform. Microsoft has created a "cross-platform next-generation protection and endpoint detection and response coverage" heterogeneous solution that will help Microsoft reach its goal of securing users and data wherever they are. Core components of Microsoft's unified endpoint security platform, including the new Threat & Vulnerability Management will now be available for Mac devices. The cloud-delivered, real-time protection antivirus solution is currently in preview.

We've been working closely with industry partners to enable Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) customers to protect their non-Windows devices while keeping a centralized "single pane of glass" experience. Now we are going a step further by adding our own solution to the options, starting with a limited preview today. As we bring our unified security solution to other platforms, we're also updating our name to reflect the breadth of this expanded coverage: Microsoft Defender ATP.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 21, 2019 3:06 PM (CDT)

Facebook Employees Had Access to Millions of User Passwords Stored in Plain Text

In a new blog post entitled "Keeping Passwords Secure" Facebook VP Engineering, Security and Privacy Pedro Canahuati explains how the social media giant accidentally stored Facebook user's passwords on internal data storage systems in plain text. Pedro explains how "these passwords were never visible to anyone outside of Facebook and we have found no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed them. We estimate that we will notify hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users, tens of millions of other Facebook users, and tens of thousands of Instagram users." To keep your account safe, Facebook suggests changing your Facebook and Instagram passwords, pick strong passwords, use a password manager, and enable a security key or two-factor authentication. In recent months, Facebook has vowed to clean up its act as it has been accused of sharing user data, one click account takeover bugs, paying minors to harvest their data without parental consent, had its enterprise certificate revoked by Apple, access token hack, Cambridge Analytica, and many more fines and hacks. I would suggest picking a password so long and complex that Facebook employees would get tired from writing it down.

As part of a routine security review in January, we found that some user passwords were being stored in a readable format within our internal data storage systems. This caught our attention because our login systems are designed to mask passwords using techniques that make them unreadable. We have fixed these issues and as a precaution we will be notifying everyone whose passwords we have found were stored in this way.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 21, 2019 1:17 PM (CDT)

Unreal Engine is Getting Destructable Environment Support

High-quality destructible environments seem like something that should be standard in 2019, but even today, it's a relatively rare thing to find in a game. It was a headlining feature Red Faction: Guerilla back in 2009, and a prominent feature in the recently released Crackdown 3, but detailed, destructible environments are still absent from most releases. However, at GDC this year, Epic announced that they're integrating a destruction system into Unreal Engine. Given how popular the engine is, and how competitors will probably try to achieve feature parity, I expect to see more games with destructible environments in the near future.

Revealed onstage at GDC 2019 during "State of Unreal," Chaos is Unreal Engine’s new high-performance physics and destruction system coming in early access to Unreal Engine 4.23. The real-time tech demo is set within the world of Robo Recall. With Chaos, users can achieve cinematic-quality visuals in real time in scenes with massive-scale levels of destruction, with unprecedented artist control over content creation.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 21, 2019 11:47 AM (CDT)