[H]ard News

Sunday July 24, 2016

7 Reasons PC Gaming Is Not Too Hard

"PC Gaming Is Still Way Too Hard." That article had to have been bait, but PC Mag fell for it and came up with a list to remind everyone that building a system is, well, pretty easy. Maybe the older folks can tell me stories from back when PCs required real work.

Last week, Emanuel Maiberg of Vice made waves among some Internet circlesall the ones in which I move, apparentlywith a column for Motherboard titled "PC Gaming Is Still Way Too Hard." In it, he related his recent painful experience building a gaming PC from scratch and lamented that, despite being happy with the computer he ended up with, he still had to jump through ridiculous hoops in order to get there and play the games he wanted. Though I sympathize with Maiberg's troubles, he let his frustration get in the way of his common sense. Maiberg couldn't be more wrong about the state of PC building or PC gaming.


Xbox One Is Now $249

With the S and Scorpio in the pipeline, Microsoft is initiating a fire sale of sorts and cutting the cost of the original console even further to $249. The PS4, on the other hand, is still hovering around $349 and will likely stay there due to better sales.

any 500GB Xbox One console is $249, including the Gears of War: Ultimate Edition bundle, the Special Edition Quantum Break bundle with white console, and the Name your Game bundle, which allows you to choose a full game download of one of four blockbuster titles: Forza Motorsport 6, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, or Rare Replay. With blockbusters like Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, ReCore, and Madden NFL 17 on the way, a growing number of Xbox 360 classics playable on Xbox One, and Xbox Live, the most advanced multiplayer network, everything you love about summer is even better with Xbox One.


Verizon To Pay $4.8 Billion For Yahoo’s Core Business

Well, it looks like it’s all over for Yahoo. Verizon is buying the company for $4.8 Billion, and the sale should be officially announced tomorrow. Meanwhile, Mrs. Mayer is laughing all the way to bank.

Verizon, one of the nation’s biggest telecommunications companies, plans to combine Yahoo’s operations with AOL, a longtime Yahoo competitor acquired by Verizon last year. The idea is to use Yahoo’s vast array of content and its advertising technology to offer more robust services to Verizon customers and advertisers. Bloomberg first reported the price of the Verizon deal. Marissa Mayer, who was hired as Yahoo’s chief executive four years ago but failed to turn around the company, is not expected to stay after the deal closes. But she is due to receive severance worth about $57 million, according to Equilar, a compensation research firm.


Transistors Will Stop Shrinking In 2021

That is what the latest semiconductor roadmap predicts, anyway. Shrinking transistors in microprocessors is no longer "economically desirable" and manufacturers will try engineering vertically instead, stacking circuitry.

For some, this change will likely be interpreted as another death knell for Moore’s Law, the repeated doubling of transistor densities that has given us the extraordinarily capable computers we have today. Compounding the drama is the fact that this is the last ITRS roadmap, the end to a more-than-20-year-old coordinated planning effort that began in the United States and was then expanded to include the rest of the world.


Sony's High-End 4K HDR LCD TVs Start At $7,000

Would you pay 7k for a TV? Sony’s new Z-Series can supposedly compete with OLED, incorporating Backlight Master Drive technology, which offers new levels of brightness and contrast.

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Backlight Master Drive is essentially a precision backlight technology that aims to provide the best lighting possible. There's a dense LCD layer atop the TV that is coupled with a unique lighting algorithm to do the job. Discrete LED controls prompts the TV to dim and boost each LED individually instead of lighting up entire zones. Meanwhile, a calibrated LED beam means the light focuses in on a specific area instead of leaking. This, Sony says, offers "unparalleled contrast and realism," leading to a deeper blacks and brighter images.


Gears Of War 4's PC-Exclusive Features Detailed

Gears of War 4, which will be cross-playable between Windows 10 and Xbox One, is intended to be a "highly optimized, customizable" experience on the PC that will include unlocked framerate support on day one, 4K textures, and more. Sadly, it is still a Windows Store exclusive.

Rayner also listed "a few items of note" the team are adding to the PC version. In his own words: Dynamic resolution support (any resolution will be supported with a sensible dynamic field of view - including ultra-wide). Increased texture resolution (up to 4K resolution for select texture groups). A benchmark mode. Full keyboard/mouse input remapping (including cover/run and roll split). Far more comprehensive video settings. "Today we sit at 28 different settings and we're thinking of ways to add more for people to really have full control," Rayner tells us. "Along with more settings, we're putting extra time into making it clear what impact a setting will have on GPU/CPU/VRAM so there is a clear correlation between a setting change and its performance impact."


Ben Heck Powers On The Nintendo PlayStation's CD Drive

The Nintendo PlayStation lives. While some of the electronics required replacing, Mr. Heck has gotten the system running. Now it’s just a matter of finding compatible disc games.

the CD drive was struggling to move its optical head, plus the screen was flickering. Ben figured this was to do with a power glitch caused by three leaky electrolytic capacitors on the logic board, so he replaced those with modern ones, and boom! The CD drive is alive! The diagnostic software gave all the green ticks, and the CD player's control panel appears to be working. As a bonus, the audio function has also been restored since that's part of the CD drive's decoder, so we can now fully enjoy SNES games on this super rare device as well.


"Star Trek" Reveals Title, First Look At U.S.S. Discovery

The new series will be called Star Trek: Discovery, and we have our first look at the starring ship. It looks to me like they drew inspiration from Ralph McQuarrie’s intended design for the cancelled Star Trek: Phase II.

There will be no Captain Kirk or Picard when the new Star Trek debuts. When CBS unveiled a teaser trailer for it at May's upfronts, the promo advertised "New Crews. New Villains. New Heroes. New Worlds." The official Trek site also confirmed that the TV series will not be connected to the feature franchise Star Trek: Beyond in any way. What's more, CBS All Access' Star Trek had to be held until January because CBS has to wait six months after the release of Beyond to avoid confusion. The first episode will air on CBS with subsequent episodes available on the network's digital and VOD platform. Netflix has international rights.


Beware: These Android Apps Will Drain Your Phone's Battery

Facebook, Google Maps, and Snapchat are among the top 10 apps most likely to drain your battery. Findings were based on data gleaned from more than three million Android users globally from January through April 2016.

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AVG Technologies released its annual report Thursday analyzing which Android apps place the biggest demands on battery life, storage space and data use. What are the biggest culprits? It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that social media apps that tempt users to always stay connected with their friends came out on top of the list, followed by those heavy on video and GPS data. Facebook ranked as the number one performance-draining app that runs automatically at phone start-up, while messaging app Snapchat was the named the top performance-drainer that's run by users.


Feds Try To Forcefully Search Wall Street Journal Reporter's Phone

If you are a traveler who is re-entering the country, you basically have no right to privacy. For instance, the Department of Homeland Security can seize your phone without a warrantor motive. Federal policy dictates that "patrol agents have sweeping powers to search a person -- even without ‘reasonable suspicion’ of any crime."

"They grilled me for an hour," she wrote. "I answered jovially, because I've had enough high-level security experiences to know that being annoyed or hostile will work against you." Abi-Habib said that the agents then asked for her cellphones in order to "collect information." "That is where I drew the line," Abi-Habib wrote. "I told her I had First Amendment rights as a journalist she couldn't violate and I was protected under." According to Abi-Habib, the agent then presented a DHS document that read that the government has the right to confiscate phones within 100 miles from U.S. borders.


Super-Hard Metal "Four Times Tougher Than Titanium" Created

Are we getting any closer to figuring out how to make adamantium? A university team has discovered how to make a material that is much stronger than pure titanium and compatible with living tissues.

Prof Emilia Morosan, of Rice University, Houston, said her team had made the discovery while working on unconventional magnets made from titanium and gold. The new materials needed to be made into powders to check their purity, but beta-Ti3Au, as it is known, was too tough to be ground in a diamond-coated mortar and pestle. The material "showed the highest hardness of all Ti-Au [titanium-gold] alloys and compounds, but also compared to many other engineering alloys", said Prof Morosan. She said the hardness of the substance, together with its higher biocompatibility, made it a "next generation compound for substantively extending the lifetime of dental implants and replacement joints".


Windows 10 Free Upgrade Offer To End Soon

PSA: At 11:59 p.m. UTC-10 on July 29 (2:59 a.m. Pacific and 5:59 a.m. Eastern on July 30), the free Windows 10 upgrade will no longer be available. If you intend to upgrade, you better do it soon, unless you’re totally okay with paying $120 for W10 Home and $200 for W10 Pro.

There’s really no reason not to upgrade. In fact, if you upgrade and you don’t like Windows 10, you can simply downgrade back. Within the first month of upgrading to Windows 10, you can go back to your previous version of Windows (Settings => Update & security => Recovery) quite easily. And even if you wait more than a month, you can often choose to restore your device to factory settings or simply reinstall an older version of Windows with the original installation media.


Saturday July 23, 2016

Pokmon GO Blamed For Illegal Border Crossing

Two youths who were "unaware of their surroundings" made an illegal border crossing from Canada into Montana. I thought the concept of augmented reality was supposed to encourage you to be more attentive to the world around you.

The two, who were not identified, were found by U.S. Border Patrol agents on Thursday, with their attention affixed to their phones as they were trying to hunt down cartoon characters on a journey that took them over the border. "Both juveniles were so captivated by their Pokmon GO games that they lost track of where they were," said Michael Rappold, a spokesman for the agency. The two were reunited with their mothers at a nearby border patrol station, the agency said.


Almost Half Of All TSA Employees Have Been Cited For Misconduct

A recent report from the House Homeland Security Commission states that nearly half of the TSA’s 60,000 employees have been cited for misconduct in recent years. Citations have increased 28.5 percent from 2013 to 2015, and in 2015, the average U.S. airport received 58 complaints each yearmore than one a week.

Perhaps even worse? The outcomes of these misconduct allegations. Findings from the six-month-long investigation show that from fiscal year 2013 to 2015, the number of investigations opened and closed decreased by 15 percent and 28 percent, respectively. TSA increased the use of non-disciplinary actions by almost 80 percent, while it decreased the use of disciplinary actions by 14 percent. Put simply, this means the TSA has offered fewer (and lesser) punishments, and has instead sought to treat the misconduct with "more counseling and letters that explain why certain behaviors were not acceptable."


Wonder Woman Comic-Con Trailer

The first trailer for Wonder Woman is finally here. Am I the only one who still isn’t sold on Gal Gadot? The film is set to release on June 2, 2017, followed by Justice League in 2017.


What Humans Would Look Like If They Evolved To Survive Car Crashes

Gross, but this is what we would look like if our bodies could withstand crashes. You can check out a 360-degree view of "Graham" at the official site.

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Graham "the only person designed to survive on our roads" is an interactive sculpture developed by a trauma surgeon, a crash investigation expert and a Melbourne artist as part of Towards Zero, a Victorian road safety campaign. He has no neck, meaning he cannot break it; a flat, fatty face to protect the nose and ears; airbags in between each rib; and thicker and tougher skin. His knees bend in all directions.


Oregon Man Sentenced To Six Months In Prison In Celebrity Hacking Case

While his attorney argued against a prison sentence because the technique he employed wasn’t particularly sophisticated, the guy responsible for The Fappening is getting six months in the federal slammer. Mr. Helton said he has been a "dead man walking" since his arrest in 2013, and his life has been taken over by mental illness.

"For more than two years, defendant Andrew Helton targeted, baited, and hooked unsuspecting victims with his phishing e-mails," Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie S. Christensen wrote in a filing urging Kronstadt to sentence Helton to at least a year in prison. "He targeted strangers, acquaintances, and celebrities alike. He trolled through their private e-mail accounts, accessing the most private of communications. He systematically pilfered nude and intimate images of his victims and stored them in his own computer for personal use."


PSVR's "Cinematic Mode" Boasts Virtual 226-Inch Screen

Can the PSVR give you your own personal movie theater experience? Not quite, but it sounds like it’s a strong start. While the PlayStation headset will, virtually, give you a screen size much larger than any commercial television set, you’ll probably have to put up with the screen-door effect resulting from the lower-resolution displays.

In a detailed write-up, it’s revealed that that PS VR’s cinematic mode will offer three screen sizes; large, medium and small. Apparently the large mode is the equivalent 226 inches, making it much larger than any commercial television set and bringing it in line with a movie theater. Apparently the screen didn’t even fit in the player’s entire field of vision at first and they had to move so that it did. The medium setting is the default option, and immerses you in a dark virtual space. The screen will fit your field of view. The small screen might sound a little pointless at first, but it looks as if the screen follows the user’s gaze in this case, thus allowing them to lie down etc.


The Transformers: The Movie 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray

Forget about the Michael Bay, robot farting/humping, live-action onesthis is the real deal! Originally released in 1986, the Transformers animated film has been restored and remastered from a 4K transfer and is getting a Blu-ray release in September. This was Orson Welles’ final role, who reportedly hated being in a "toy movie."

The Transformers: The Movie has captured a special place in the hearts of millions and has been a staple in the pop culture zeitgeist since 1986. Featuring memorable characters - the heroic Autobots, villainous Decepticons and Unicron, thrilling action and a heartfelt storyline, The Transformers The Movie is a cultural touchstone that spans generations. Beloved by legions of fans, this full-length animated adventure boasts the voice talent of Orson Welles in his final voice acting role and an all-star voice cast that includes Peter Cullen, Eric Idle, Casey Kasem, Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Stack and Frank Welker. On September 13, 2016, Shout! Factory, in collaboration with Hasbro Studios, celebrates the 30th anniversary of this iconic movie with three new home entertainment releases.


Vehicle Breakdowns Hit Record High In U.S. Despite New Car Tech

Vehicle breakdowns are happening more than ever despite the incorporation of advanced technology designed to keep drivers and passengers safe and on the road. Are your newer vehicles giving you more trouble than your old ones ever did?

vehicles fewer than five years old experienced a higher proportion of tire and key-related issues than older vehicles, incidents that have increased as automakers have started to eliminate the spare tire and adopt electronic keyless ignitions. AAA says automakers are getting rid of spare tires and replacing them with tire inflator kits to reduce vehicle weight and boost fuel economy. Tire inflator kits have replaced spare tires on 29 million vehicles in the last 10 model years, a proportion that has increased from 5% of 2006 model year vehicles to 36% of 2015 model year vehicles sold, according to AAA.


Only 10% Of iPhone Owners Say They’re Likely To Upgrade This Year

Surveys and other chatter would suggest that most people are going to skip what Apple is releasing this year, as there is plenty of evidence to indicate the iPhone 7 is too similar to its predecessor. More importantly, the iPhone 8 is rumored to be a huge overhaul, potentially incorporating a brand-new design and even OLED screens.

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It’s not entirely clear why Apple is potentially changing its upgrade cycle, but one theory seems the most plausible: There simply isn’t anything left to innovate on in the short term. As Nikkei put it in May when reports first surfaced that Apple might switch its cycle: "The move is largely due to smartphone functions having little room left for major enhancements." So Apple appears to be making a series of minor upgrades in 2016, and go with what Apple reporter Mark Gurman called on a recent podcast a "total reset" in 2017.


Two New Sonic Games To Recapture The Glory Days

Sega is returning their mascot to his roots with two new games, Sonic Mania and Sonic Generations. The former is basically a Sonic title straight out of the ‘90s, while the latter sounds like a follow-up to Sonic Generations, mixing old-school and modern interpretations of the character.

"Sonic Mania was born out of our fans' love of the classic Sonic 2D platform games," said Iizuka. "This type of collaboration is a first for Sega and we hope everyone will be both surprised and delighted by this title. Sonic Mania has been a passion project for the entire team and we look forward to sharing more details about it later this year. Having the game actually playable at the event itself tonight was testament to the dedication of the team behind it."


HTC To Partner With HP And Launch Vive-Branded PCs

In an effort to provide VR at more accessible price levels, HTC is reportedly acquiring PCs from HP and rebranding/bundling them with Vive systems. If you haven’t jumped into VR yet, is price the primary reason?

Despite HTC's efforts, some market watchers expect HTC Vive's sales to reach only 500,000-700,000 units in 2016, far lower than Sony PlayStation VR's forecasts of up to six million units and also weaker than Facebook Oculus Rift's one million units. The PlayStation VR will support the PlayStation 4 and will benefit from the game console's strong user base, while the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift both require high-specification PCs in order to work, relatively limiting their user base. By selling HTC Vive-branded PCs through its existing channels, HTC will be able to provide Vive-ready products directly to consumers.


Gorilla Glass 5 Will Survive Drops From Up To 1.6 Meters

Reportedly debuting with the Galaxy Note 7, the newest generation of Gorilla Glass is expected to survive "1.6-meter, shoulder-height drops onto hard, rough surfaces up to 80% of the time." It is probably still no match for beach sand, though.

Corning says shattered screens are the "consumers’ No. 1 issue" with mobile devices. It cites a recent study saying "85 percent of smartphone owners have dropped their phones at least once per year and 55 percent have dropped their phones three times or more." Gorilla Glass 5 is commercially available now and we should see devices from "leading global brands" later this year.


Friday July 22, 2016

[H]ard|OCP Week in Reviews

Today is Friday and you know what that means! It is time once again for the [H]ard|OCP Week in Reviews! For anyone that might have missed them, we like to take a quick look back on the hardware evaluations and articles we posted earlier in the week. We kicked the week off with our Reeven Justice 120mm CPU air cooler review, followed by our NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Founders Edition review. Finally, we wrapped things up with our evaluation of the Seasonic Flagship PRIME 750W PSU.

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Comcast Unveils Plans To Roll Out Prepaid Xfinity Services

According to this announcement, Comcast plans to roll out prepaid cable TV and internet services in five states later this year. I've heard of pre-paid phones and internet but pre-paid cable TV? Prices aren't too hot either.

"We want to create an easy, pay-as-you-go option for people who want more flexibility and predictability when buying our services," said Marcien Jenckes, Executive Vice President, Consumer Services, Comcast Cable. "And our partnership with Boost Mobile will give Xfinity Prepaid customers even more places where they can conveniently sign-up and pay-as-they-go."


The Apple Car Release Pushed Back To 2021

How does a car that doesn't even exist, has never been announced, everyone denies is in development and no one has ever confirmed the "Project Titan" name, end up being pushed back to 2021? roll eyes (sarcastic)

Tucked inside a report today from The Information about a trio of brothers working on Apple's Project Titan car initiative are claims that the project is having trouble with leadership and computing power and so has pushed back the car's delivery date to 2021 from 2020. The report says Apple is busy buying lots of in-house servers to cope with the massive amounts of data needed to direct autonomous or semi-autonomous cars on the road. Tesla has offloaded some of its data to Amazon Web Services. Apple is unlikely to do so.


[H]ardware Round-Up II

Cases: Case Mod Friday @ ThinkComputers

ETC.: BOXX APEXX 4 Overclocked PC @ Techgage

Logitech MX Master Laser Mouse @ LanOC

Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-SOC FORCE @ MadShrimps

Storage: Samsung Portable SSD T3 @ Tech Report

Video: MSI GTX 1060 Gaming X @ eTeknix

ASUS STRIX X99 Gaming Motherboard Review

The ASUS STRIX X99 Gaming motherboard is on the test bench over at eTeknix today. Overall this was a very positive review with the motherboard earning an Editor's Choice award. For comparison purposes, you can see our evaluation here.

The X99 platform was recently refreshed with Intel’s Broadwell-E range of processors designed to offer content creators and professionals working with multi-threaded workloads the absolute best performance. Those with deep pockets now have the opportunity to deploy the world’s first 10-core processor outside of the Xeon family. From what I’ve seen so far, the new architecture hasn’t enticed existing users to upgrade due to the hefty pricing and value of the 5280K on the second-hand market. Nevertheless, it’s encouraged motherboard vendors to unleash new products which contain more gaming-orientated features.


WTHDIJS Video of the Day

Even though I read the description of this video (twice), I still don't know what the hell I just saw...but it sure is cool. It looks like a video that someone ran through a dozen Photoshop filters all at once. cool


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