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Thursday October 27, 2016

FCC Passes Sweeping Rules Protecting Your Online Privacy

At this point, anything is better than the way it was before. That's not saying much, and there are still a ton of ways companies will get around the new rules, but every little bit helps.

The rules, passed Thursday in a 3-to-2 vote by the Federal Communications Commission, require Internet providers, such as Comcast and Verizon, to obtain their customers' explicit consent before using or sharing that behavioral data with third parties, such as marketing firms. Also covered by that requirement are health data, financial information, Social Security numbers and the content of emails and other digital messages. The measure allows the FCC to impose the opt-in rule on other types of information in the future, but certain types of data, such as a customer's IP address and device identifier, are not subject to the opt-in requirement. The rules also force service providers to tell consumers clearly what data they collect and why, as well as to take steps to notify customers of data breaches.


MPAA and RIAA’s Anti-Piracy Plans Harm The Internet

Ummm, duh. No one disagrees with the fact that artists have the right to protect their copyrighted works. It's the way the MPAA and RIAA go about it that people object to.

The Internet Infrastructure Coalition is urging the U.S. Government not to blindly follow the RIAA and MPAA's input regarding online piracy threats. The group, which represents tech firms including Google, Amazon and Verisign, warns that the future of the Internet is at stake.


Apple Unveils New MacBook Pro With OLED 'Touch Bar'

Apple has unveiled a new MacBook Pro that has what the company is calling a "TouchBar." Oviously this isn't very exciting considering everyone has known for months about this but it still gives Apple's faithful following a reason to upgrade.

While the overall design of both laptops looks similar to what came before, there's some significant refinement here. The new 13-inch MacBook Pro is 14.9mm thin (17 percent skinnier than before), has 23 percent less volume and comes in at just 3 pounds. The 15-inch model is 15.5mm thin (14 percent less than before) and has reduced its volume by 20 percent. Overall, that bigger version is just four pounds.


Gaming [H]eadlines

Fractured Space Celebrates 1M Players @ Blue's News

Gears of War 4 Is Celebrating Halloween @ VG24/7

Final Fantasy 15 DLC Includes Online Co-Op @ GameSpot

Minecraft Is Coming To Apple TV @ Shacknews

AMD & NVIDIA GPU VR Performance - theBlu: Encounter

All you virtual reality fans out there need to take a moment today to read our AMD & NVIDIA GPU VR Performance - theBlu: Encounter article. If you think that a casual VR experience can't be taxing on your hardware, you'd better think again.

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We are changing gears a bit from Virtual Reality gaming today and are going to focus on a VR experience. theBlu has been around since the inception of the recent VR consumer market. You don't play theBlu, but rather experience it. That said, it can be punishing to lesser GPUs, and this time we see very different performance results from AMD.


Twitter Has Killed Off Vine

I can't say this is surprising. Twitter bought Vine four years ago for $30 million, made no money off it, closing it down. Seems about par for the course with all things Twitter. Here's a quote from the obituary:

Since 2013, millions of people have turned to Vine to laugh at loops and see creativity unfold. Today, we are sharing the news that in the coming months we’ll be discontinuing the mobile app. Nothing is happening to the apps, website or your Vines today. We value you, your Vines, and are going to do this the right way. You’ll be able to access and download your Vines. We’ll be keeping the website online because we think it’s important to still be able to watch all the incredible Vines that have been made. You will be notified before we make any changes to the app or website.


[H]ardware Round-Up

Cases: EVOLV ATX Tempered Glass @ APH Networks

ETC.: Aimpad R5 Analog Keyboard @ Tech Report

Patriot Viper V360 7.1 Surround Gaming Headset @ NikKTech

Gaming: Acer Predator Z850 UltraWide Gaming Projector @ PCPer

Video: GeForce GTX 1050 & GTX 1050 Ti @ HotHardware

GeForce GTX 1050 & 1050 Ti Performance Comparison @ TechARP

Twitter Promises 'Meaningful' Safety Updates Next Month

Twitter is promising meaningful safety updates next month. You know, unlike all those meaningless ones they did in the past. It will be interesting to see what Twitter defines as "meaningful," why they have to wait until next month to reveal them and how Twitter users will react to the changes.

The prevalence of Twitter trolls is often blamed for the site's slow user growth and difficulty with advertisers. It's hoped that this new strategy will give people "more control over their Twitter experience" and offer the "most important safety features" to users. That may not be enough, however, given that how easy it is to find accounts spreading racism, targeted harassment of women and minorities or threats of violence.


Emoji Have Been Added To The Museum of Modern Art

Part of me totally understands this, the other part of me died a little inside when I heard the news. I guess as long as it is just this set, the original set of emoji, it's okay.

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How Not To Fly A Wing Suit

You know all those really cool wing suit videos you see all over the internet? This isn't one of them. Everything starts our great (if you consider jumping off a perfectly good cliff "great") but things turn bad when dude decides to do some stunt flying through the trees.


Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Minimum PC Specs

The minimum PC specs for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare have been posted on the game's Steam page and, from the looks of it, the required specs are tame enough that just about anyone should be able to run the game.


  • OS: Windows 7 64-Bit or later

  • Processor: Intel Core i3-3225 @ 3.30GHz or equivalent

  • Memory: 8 GB RAM

  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 2GB / AMD Radeon HD 7850 2GB

  • DirectX: Version 11

  • Network: Broadband Internet connection

  • Storage: 70 GB available space

  • Sound Card: DirectX 11 Compatible

  • Additional Notes: Disk space requirement may change over time.


NVIDIA GPUs Power New Surface Studio

Microsoft Wednesday introduced the radical new Surface Studio, aimed at content creators, as well as a new top-end version of its acclaimed Surface Book. Both are powered by NVIDIA GeForce GTX GPUs. The new Surface Studio, powered by either an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M or a GeForce GTX 980M, is built around a stunning 28-inch touch display with 13.5 million pixels that can tilt down to immerse creatives in their work. Paired with a radical new input device — Surface Dial — it promises to pull creative professionals into their work like never before. Microsoft also introduced a new high-end Surface Book — also powered by an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M GPU — that delivers up to 16 hours of battery life and up to two times the 3D graphics performance versus current Surface Book models, while maintaining the slim, lightweight characteristics of its predecessor. Like the Surface Book launched last year, the device gives users the ability to detach the screen and use it as a tablet or use it like a traditional notebook.


Western Digital Announces Financial Results for First Fiscal Quarter 2017

Western Digital Corp. today reported revenue of $4.7 billion, operating income of $232 million and a net loss of $366 million, or $1.28 per share, for its first fiscal quarter ended Sept. 30, 2016. The GAAP net loss for the period includes charges associated with the company's recent acquisitions and debt extinguishment charges related to its repricing and repayment of outstanding debt. Excluding these charges and other non-GAAP adjustments, first quarter non-GAAP operating income was $632 million and non-GAAP net income was $341 million, or $1.18 per share.

In the year-ago quarter, the company reported revenue of $3.4 billion, operating income of $322 million and net income of $283 million, or $1.21 per share. Non-GAAP operating income in the year-ago quarter was $405 million and non-GAAP net income was $366 million, or $1.56 per share. The company generated $440 million in cash from operations during the first fiscal quarter of 2017, ending with total cash and cash equivalents of $4.1 billion. On Aug. 3, 2016, the company declared a cash dividend of $0.50 per share of its common stock, which was paid to shareholders on Oct.17, 2016.


Microsoft introduces Surface Studio and the Windows 10 Creators Update

Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday unveiled a broad vision to empower a new wave of creativity with a major update coming to more than 400 million Windows 10 devices and the introduction of Surface Studio, Surface Dial and a more powerful Surface Book. Expanding the Surface family, Surface Studio is a new class of device that transforms from a workstation into a powerful digital canvas, unlocking a more natural and immersive way to create on the thinnest LCD monitor ever built.1 With a stunning ultra-HD 4.5K screen, Surface Studio delivers 63 percent more pixels than a state-of-the-art 4K TV. Surface Studio works beautifully with pen, touch and Surface Dial — a new input device designed for the creative process that lets you use two hands on the screen to compose and create in all new ways. Launching as a free update in early 2017, the Windows 10 Creators Update will enable anyone to create, share and experience in 3-D and mixed reality, connect people faster to those they care about most, and empower every gamer to be a broadcaster. And with the Creators Update, Microsoft Edge will be the first browser to fully embrace 3-D.


Intel Capital Expands Diversity Fund

Today, at its 17th annual Global Summit in San Diego, Intel Capital announced its Diversity Fund will expand beyond its initial focus on startups led by women and underrepresented minorities to also include U.S.-based entrepreneurs from the LGBTQ community, entrepreneurs living with disabilities and military veterans. This $125 million fund – the largest of its kind by a significant margin – provides selected tech startups with access to Intel Capital’s business development programs, global network, technology expertise and brand capital.

New Diversity Fund leaders Trina Van Pelt and Christine Herron also announced all Intel Capital investors will scout and bring forward startups led by diverse teams and will encourage existing portfolio companies to support diversity. And, in a further demonstration of Intel’s commitment to diversity, Herron noted more than 60 percent of the new startups in the Intel Education Accelerator program are led by women and/or underrepresented minorities.


Wednesday October 26, 2016

Deal of the Day: EVGA GeForce GTX 980 4GB Under $145

If you have Amazon Prime NOW in your area, you can find some amazing deals right now on cards like this EVGA GTX 980 4GB FTW GAMING ACX for $144.43 and this EVGA GTX 980 4GB SC GAMING for just $131.25.

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Obviously these deals will depend on the stock in your area, availability and so on, but earlier this evening there were deals on EVGA GTX 980 Ti Classified 6GB cards going for as little as $155 in Houston, so who knows? Give it a try, see how it goes. Don't forget to post your results in the comments. Thanks to NmCRooK for the heads up.

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Ongoing Discussion

H3VR: Halloween Horror Free Update Coming October 28th

The folks at Rust Ltd. have passed on word that its H3VR: Halloween Horror free update will go live on October 28th at 7pm PST. If you are new to Hot Dogs, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, make sure you read our VR performance review here.


Google’s Neural Networks Invent Their Own Encryption

Researchers from Google Brain have discovered that machines can learn how to use basic encryption to keep their messages private. The obvious next step is machines learning how to secretly dispose of human bodies. Don't laugh, they are probably working on that as we speak.

Researchers Martيn Abadi and David Andersen demonstrate that neural networks, or "neural nets" – computing systems that are loosely based on artificial neurons – can work out how to use a simple encryption technique. In their experiment, computers were able to make their own form of encryption using machine learning, without being taught specific cryptographic algorithms. The encryption was very basic, especially compared to our current human-designed systems. Even so, it is still an interesting step for neural nets, which the authors state "are generally not meant to be great at cryptography".


[H]ardware Round-Up II

Cases: AeroCool P7-C1 Tempered Glass @ NikKTech

Cooling: Deepcool Gamer Storm Captain 240 EX @ Play3r

ETC.: ExpressVPN Services and Routers @ RealHardwareReviews

G.Skill Ripjaws KM780 RGB Keyboard @ techPowerUP!

Storage: Plextor S2C 256GB SSD @ CDRLabs

Video: ZOTAC GTX 1050 Mini @ Vortez

Even Downloaders Can Be Considered Repeat Infringers

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the definition of "repeat Infringer" includes people that repeatedly upload or download copyrighted material, even if it's just for personal use and never shared.

"Copyright infringement is a strict liability offense in the sense that a plaintiff is not required to prove unlawful intent or culpability, and a user does not have to share copyrighted works in order to infringe a copyright," its opinion reads. "In the context of this case, all it takes to be a ‘repeat infringer’ is to repeatedly upload or download copyrighted material for personal use," adding "that a ‘repeat infringer’ does not need to know of the infringing nature of its online activities, or to upload rather than download content."


French Apple Store Smasher Sentenced

As funny as it was watching this guy walking through an Apple store smashing everything, I'll be he's not laughing now that he has to pay Apple over $19,000 for his little temper tantrum.


The PC Has Become Part Of The Furniture

To be fair to the author of this article, he is talking about pre-built, off the shelf computers, not the bad ass custom built system that you poured all of your spare time and money into. The thrill definitely isn't gone in the enthusiast community, that's for sure.

But, to steal from the late, great B.B. King: for most people, the thrill is gone. And that’s because the PC has become the furniture of our digital lives. It’s absolutely necessary. You wouldn’t want to be without it. But you don’t get very excited about it, don’t brag about it, don’t replace it very often, and don’t expect revolutionary new features when you do.


Apple Delays AirPod Rollout

Remember when Apple said that its AirPods would be available mid-October? Well, October is almost over and nary an AirPod is to be found. According to TechCrunch, the sure-to-be-lost-immediately wireless headphones have been delayed with no new release date given.

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Apple did not say whether hardware or software updates are what is at the heart of the delay so I couldn’t conjecture which. My experiences with the AirPods have been very positive this far but the pre production units that were given out to press are not without their foibles and bugs. I have seen a variety of small software/hardware interaction issues that have caused some frustration – but have taken them in stride because they are not final products.


Dealing With Harassment In VR

The developers of QuiVr have come up with a simple solution for people that feel they are being harassed in their game called a Personal Bubble. With your own "superpower" activated, other players dissolve as they get close to you making it impossible to virtually "touch" anyone.

Now, though, activating your Personal Bubble is more like engaging your own superpower. You can still turn it on via the settings, but you can also activate it by what we’re calling a "power gesture" – putting your hands together, pulling both triggers, and pulling them apart as if you are creating a force field. No matter how you activate it, the effect is instantaneous and obvious – a ripple of force expands from you, dissolving any nearby player from view, at least from your perspective, and giving you a safety zone of personal space.


Counter-Strike GO Adds Stiffer Penalties For Repeat Offenders

In the "about damn time" category, Valve is finally doing something more about repeat offenders when it comes to griefing. According to patch notes released yesterday, it is now two strikes you are out. Here's the bit from the notes:

A temporary griefing conviction assigned by Overwatch will now be elevated to a permanent conviction if the suspect had a previous temporary griefing conviction.


Gaming [H]eadlines

Craft Keep VR Early Access Next Month @ Blue's News

Nintendo: Switch To Ship 2M Units By March @ Shacknews

PS4 Adding Classic Neo Geo Games @ GameSpot

Skyrim: Special Edition Steam Pre-Load Available @ VG24/7

NVIDIA GeForce Game Ready 375.63 WHQL Drivers

The folks at NVIDIA send word that the brand new GeForce Game Ready 375.63 WHQL drivers are out now. According to the release notes, these drivers provide an optimal experience for Battlefield 1, Civilization VI, Titanfall 2, and VR experience for Eagle Flight and Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope. Hit the link above for the new drivers and this link for release notes.


Reeven Okeanos CPU Cooler Review

The crew at Modders Inc. have the Reeven Okeanos CPU cooler on the test bench today. According to the review, this cooler features a slimmer design than other dual-tower offerings from Reeven, making it more compatible with motherboard components and memory slots.

Unlike other dual-tower designs which are deliberately bulky ignoring clearance concerns or have the heatpipes offset for improved component compatibility, the Reeven Okeanos is a slimmer titan than most at 110mm deep without fans installed but still relatively larger than other heatsinks at 163mm tall. For active cooling, it is equipped with a 140mm fan that ramps up to 1700 RPM and a 120mm fan that operates up to 1700 RPM.


[H]ardware Round-Up

Cases: EVOLV ATX Tempered Glass @ APH Networks

ETC.: AVerMedia Live Gamer HD Lite @ FunkyKit

Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA 750W G2L @ PCPer

Video: MSI GTX 1050 Ti Gaming X @ Guru3D

ZOTAC GTX 1080 AMP! Extreme @ Technic3D

Component Shortages Expected In PC market After November

According to this article, the increased demand for smartphone memory caused by the Galaxy Note 7 recall could impact the production of PC memory, leading to delays unless suppliers increase capacity to meet demand.

With smartphone vendors having been aggressively placing short-term orders for the fourth quarter, several component suppliers have been delaying their shipments to PC vendors recently and the action could relatively impact these PC vendors' shipments in the quarter. To satisfy demand from its smartphone clients, many memory component suppliers have shifted their capacity for PC memory to produce memory for smartphones, which has seriously delayed their delivery schedules from 10 weeks to over 20 weeks. Since memory components require a series of certifications and testing, the suppliers are unlikely to be able to shorten the delay.


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