[H]ard News

Wednesday March 21, 2018

Nvidia Has Been Sneaking a Slower MX150 Variant Into Some Ultrabooks

The good news just keeps coming for Nvidia. In an article from Notebookcheck, they are advising people purchasing an ultrabook with GeForce MX150 graphics to be on the lookout for an underclocked, less powerful GPU hiding under the same name, and not advertised as such. They have discovered two variants of the MX150 in various laptops, the standard has an ID of 1D10, and another with the ID of 1D12. The 1D12 has been found in 13 inch ultrabooks, and has a 36% lower base clock, and 20-25% less performance than the 1D10. Things like this make me wonder if someone thinks I'm an 1D10T.

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While we don't have an issue with selling multiple variants of the same silicon, it's disappointing to not see any marketing material differentiating between the two versions especially since their performance deltas are more than marginal. Casual gamers or heavy users looking for full performance out of the MX150 should double-check new notebooks before committing to a full purchase.


Networking the Smart Office That Millennials Demand

The fact that the word "smart" is used five times in reference to this blog post over at Newegg Business certainly helps get my inner-geek laughing that much harder. Sure, we all make mistakes, but what makes it even funnier is that this has been posted for nearly two months. I guess fully wireless connectivity can not get here quick enough. We saved an archive.is just in case, and yes, this is real.

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What’s better for the company? Smart people or a smart office? One study shows you’d be hard pressed to get one without the other. Technology-obsessed millennials are shaping the modern workplace with their preferences for smart office equipment, and they do not compromise.


Telegram Loses Bid to Block Russia From Encryption Keys

Two years ago we covered a story on how Russia was requiring ISPs to give backdoor access to apps. The encrypted messaging app Telegram, has lost a bid before Russia's Supreme Court to block security services getting access to users' data according to a Bloomberg report. Last year Telegram was asked to provide the Federal Security Services its encryption keys, and were slapped with a $14,000 fine. Today Supreme Court Judge AllA Nazarova rejected Telegrams Appeal, and now has 15 days to provide the encryption keys.

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Government overreach is no joke. One has to wonder if now that Telegram's niche is gone if they will continue on, and what will happen with it's Gram coin. Thanks to modi123 for the story.

Telegram has more than 9.5 million users in Russia, according to researcher Mediascope. It raised $850 million from investors in February in a so-called initial coin offering and is trying to raise another $1.7 billion, according to company documents seen by Bloomberg News. Telegram plans to use the proceeds to build a blockchain network with built-in cryptocurrency Gram that could enable faster transactions than bitcoin.


Shattering Samsung Note 8 Showers Girl with Glass

Long time HardOCP reader, Eric Crowley of Stockton, California, had a dangerous moment with his Samsung Note 8 this morning. His daughter has been making good grades at school so she was awarded with a new pair of earrings. Eric was taking a couple of pictures with his Samsung Note 8 so he could show his daughter how those looked on her. On snapping his third picture, he heard pop similar to what popping shipping bubble sheet sounds like. As you can see below, the glass cover over the Note 8's rear facing cameras "exploded" outward onto this daughter. The explosion was akin to an old fashioned flash bulb! Eric explained she had glass residue on her that was of a "dusty shiny particle" consistency from her cheek back to her ear. Thankfully none of the glass particles got into her eyes, but to be on the safe side due to the size of the tiny fragments he had her eyes irrigated just in case. He said she is fine and not injured, thankfully. Erik has been using his Note 8 for about 7 months, was at 98% charge, and previously undamaged.

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Looking around the net, it does not seem to be terribly common, but some other instances of "self breaking glass" on the Note 8 are out there. Something to keep in mind before you go stuffing your camera in someone's face. Thanks for sharing Erik, and we are glad you daughter is OK. We are happy about her grades as well. And having a good dad supporting that achievement. Just don't try to blind her with your camera next time!


Zuckerberg Breaks Silence On Cambridge Analytica Scandal

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has broken his silence on the Cambridge Analytica scandal today in a Facebook post. Zuckerberg basically gave a timeline of events, starting at the creation of Facebook, leading up to the event. Zuckerberg states that "This was a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook." Alleging that Cambridge Analytica got the data from a personality quiz app made by Aleksandr Kogan, and both Kogan and Cambridge Analytica were supposed to have deleted the data.

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Sounds like a lot of "it wasn't our fault" lip service to me. I understand that under their previous rules, apps could get user data from the friends of people who had installed it (why that was ever a "feature" remains a mystery), but even so, how does 300,000 people installing this quiz app equate to 50 million profiles? Zuckerberg will have an interview tonight on "Anderson Cooper 360" on CNN at 9PM ET.

We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can't then we don't deserve to serve you. I've been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn't happen again. The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. But we also made mistakes, there's more to do, and we need to step up and do it.


What's 2 + 2? Don't Ask the Titan V

The Register is reporting that Nvidia's Volta based flagship, the Titan V, may have some hardware gremlins that cause them to give different answers to repeated scientific calculations. One engineer told The Register that when running identical simulations of an interaction between a protein and an enzyme the results varied. After repeated tests on four Titan Vs, he found that two of the cards gave numerical errors about 10% of the time.

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Shockingly, when The Register repeatedly asked Nvidia for an explanation, they declined to comment. Not something you want from a card marketed for such tasks, but hey, at least it plays games really well.

All in all, it is bad news for boffins as reproducibility is essential to scientific research. When running a physics simulation, any changes from one run to another should be down to interactions with the virtual world, not rare glitches in the underlying hardware.


NSA Has Been Tracking Bitcoin Users Since 2013

New Snowden documents reveal that the NSA has been tracking Bitcoin users since 2013. The documents show that that the NSA used methods to directly siphon internet traffic using a program code-named OAKSTAR, as well as a sham internet anonymizing service called MONKEYROCKET. ZeroHedge has a good summary of the happenings. The original story, along with the classified documents was published at The Intercept.

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There is so much information here that I can't begin to wrap my head around all of it. However it certainly sounds like blockchain may not be anywhere near as secure as originally thought.

Classified documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the National Security Agency indeed worked urgently to target Bitcoin users around the world - and wielded at least one mysterious source of information to "help track down senders and receivers of Bitcoins," according to a top-secret passage in an internal NSA report dating to March 2013. The data source appears to have leveraged the NSA’s ability to harvest and analyze raw, global internet traffic while also exploiting an unnamed software program that purported to offer anonymity to users, according to other documents.


Epic Games Demonstrates Real-Time Ray Tracing

Continuing the theme from the Game Developers Conference this year, Epic Games in collaboration with ILMxLAB and NVIDIA are showing off real-time ray tracing in the Unreal 4 engine. The demo is powered by NVIDIA's RTX technology for Volta GPUs, which itself is powered by Microsoft's DirectX Ray Tracing API, or DXR.

Wow, by the time the GDC is over every ray will be traced. I have to say, this is the best looking demo of the tech I have seen so far.

"Ray tracing is a rendering process typically only associated with high-end offline renderers and hours and hours of computer processing time," said Epic Games Founder and CEO Tim Sweeney. "Film-quality ray tracing in real time is an Unreal Engine first. This is an exciting new development for the media and entertainment linear content worlds-and any markets that require photorealistic visualization."


Facebook Loses Over $60 Billion in Market Value in 2 Days

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Bloomberg is reporting that Facebook Inc. has lost over $60 billion in market value in just 2 days. To put that in perspective, Tesla Inc. is worth $52 billion, and Snap Inc, Snapchat's parent company is worth about $19 billion.

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We will just have to wait and see how low Facebook's value can go, and if the company will recover from this. Two days ago we reported that if Facebook did violate an FTC privacy deal, they could face fines around $2 trillion dollars, which I would assume, would hurt their stock price further. Thanks to @cageymaru for the story.

Facebook shares tumbled 6.8 percent on Monday, the most in almost four years, and the selloff resumed on Tuesday with news that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is reportedly investigating the handling of user data, and a report that Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos plans to leave. Shares fell 4.7% to $164.51 at 2:23 p.m. in New York.


This is How Much Facebook Makes Off You

Ever wonder what your data is worth to Facebook? A new article from Time shows that the average revenue per user in 2017 was $20.21, with users in Canada and the U.S worth even more because of the size of the market. They get this profit by selling insights based on how we use Facebook, and then serve it up to marketers to strategically place ads.

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There you have it. The value of your privacy is $20. A bit ho-hum when you think of it as $20, but when you add that to the fact that Facebook had 2.2 billion monthly users in Q4 2017, it becomes insane.

The sheer amount of data Facebook collects on its users is impressive. In 2016, the Washington Post identified 98 data points the site uses to target ads, including age, gender, school, square footage of home, relationship status, political leaning, where someone shops, if they like the Olympics and whether they own a motorcycle.


Hitman Spring Pack Gives Episode 2 Free

IO Interactive has released the HITMAN Spring Pack. The Spring Pack is a completely free download for anyone, and gives the entire Sapienza location. The Spring Pack is available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One until April 3rd.

Great deal for anyone who has yet to give HITMAN a try with them giving out arguably the best map in the game for free. Pick it up on Steam here.

You’ll get the main story mission, ‘World of Tomorrow’, 20 levels of Mastery (including weapon and item unlocks), more than 100 challenges, 7 achievements/trophies and ALL of the Escalation Contracts, Challenge Packs and Featured Contracts that we’ve released for Sapienza. On top of all that, any Elusive Targets that are re-activated in Sapienza will also be playable through the Spring Pack.


NVIDIA's Latest GPP PR Comments

NVIDIA is now telling media that inquire about GPP, "We have moved on from this story." Glad they cleared that up. It seems that the First Rule of GPP, really is Don't Talk ABOUT GPP!

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Ongoing Discussion

A Way Out System Requirements and Launch Trailer

Electronic Arts has released the official PC system requirements, as well as a launch trailer for the upcoming A Way Out. A Way Out is a cinematic so-op only game, designed for playing in split screen, either locally or online, where you and a friend escape from prison.

The system requirements seem fairly friendly as well.


CPU: Intel core i3-2100T @ 2.5GHz/AMD FX 6100, or better


GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650Ti 2GB, AMD Radeon HD 7750 2GB

Hard Drive: 25GB

Input: At least one Xbox-compatible/PlayStation-compatible controller



CPU: Intel Core i5 3570K; AMD Ryzen 3 1300x or equivalent

GPU: Nvidia GTX 960; AMD R9 290 or equivalent

Hard Drive: 25GB

Input: At least one Xbox-compatible/PlayStation-compatible controller

Game looks like it is going to be a lot of fun, but what is up with the requirement of using a controller? One very cool thing is quoted below, apparently you can invite a friend to play the game, even if they don't own it. Still doesn't make up for Battlefront II, but it's a very nice step.

As a full game owner, you can also invite your friends to play A Way Out for free. All you need to do is send your friend a game invite, and then they will need to download the friends pass free trial from the digital store. That's it! After this is done, you're all set to experience the entire game online with your friend playing for free.


Stanley Gets Interviewed

After reading this interview, with The Stanley Parable game creator, at PC Gamer I came away not sure if the game dev knows what his next game is or will be. Then that got me thinking about how many years it has been since I "played" Stanley, and looked it up; almost five years ago. Then I saw that I "played" Stanley for 31 hours (almost 2 hours per ending), and that made me hope that I had alt-tabbed out of the game and just left it open on my desktop for a full day or so. Otherwise that 31 hours of play-time truly drives the satire home.

"What would a game be like where you make interesting choices, but you can't get better at making those choices, or you can't make more optimized choices? What about a game where you're growing or making progress in an interesting way, but where the outcomes are obscure enough that you can't see what the outcomes will lead to? What about a game that has a story, but you don't need to see every piece of content to get the story?

"All of these sound counterintuitive, but that's why I'm so excited. The bizarre, impossible-sounding goal I've set for myself is to create a game that does all of these things. I don't have a good answer yet as to how exactly I'll do that."

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There is a free demo if you have never experienced this game.


Shot with GeForce

NVIDIA is looking to get into the Instagram business with its new Shot with GeForce website. The model is based on using NVIDIA's Ansel technology that lets you take in-game pictures that go far beyond just clicking F12. Ansel technology will allow you to actually move the camera around inside the supported game and at huge resolutions.


Slingshot Malware a US Tool for Cyber-Espionage

Slingshot malware has been being discussed for the last couple of weeks, but the scope of it has been somewhat unclear. CyberScoop is reporting that Slingshot has been identified as a tool used by the US for a widespread counterterrorism cyber-espionage operation that has been ongoing now for up to six years. The gist of it is to breach routers and then siphon off all the information moved across those and then sort it out from there. Bingo, no malware to detect on your computer if you pwn the pipe.

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Slingshot helped the military and intelligence community collect information about terrorists by infecting computers they commonly used, sources told CyberScoop. Often times, these targeted computers would be located within internet cafes in developing countries. ISIS and al-Qaeda targets would use internet cafes to send and receive messages, the sources said.


Tuesday March 20, 2018

The Mystery of "What Box?" Solved With AR

Ah the question that has been holding back society for as long as most of us can remember. What box do I use to ship this thing? Finally we as a species can evolve, as eBay is now using augmented reality in order to help you select what size box you need to ship that thing. The AR technology is built on Google's AARCore platofrm, and can be accessed via the eBay app. Just open the app, and it will virtually place a USPS flat rate box over a real-world item to see if it will fit. What glorious times we live in. Thanks to @cageymaru for the story.

"This technology is just one example of the types of innovation we're working on to transform eBay," James Meeks, eBay's head of Mobile, said in a statement to GeekWire. "It demonstrates our continual innovation on behalf our sellers to help them save time and remove barriers."


Budget Cuts Release Date Announced

Upcoming VR game "Budget Cuts" by Neat Corporation has finally gotten a release date. The game looks like a mix of Portal, and the Stanley Parable all in one, but with knives. No price has been announced, but Budget Cuts will be available for the HTC Vive on May 16th from Steam.

Game looks like it could get very intense. And the release date of May 15th means you can use it to give your new Vive Pro a workout.


AMD Responds To CTS Labs Vulnerability Claims

Last week we wrote about possible AMD security flaws that were announced by CTS Labs. Today, AMD has released their assessment of CTS Labs' claims in a community post. AMD makes it clear that the issues identified by CTS Labs have nothing to do with Meltdown and Spectre, but are associated with the firmware that manages the AMD Secure Processor, as well as the chipset used in some AM4 and TR4 motherboards.

AMD Notes that all issues raised in the CTS Labs report require administrative access to the machine in order to implement, meaning before any of these exploits could be used, an attacker would already have full control of the system, and can essentially, do whatever they want. Despite this, AMD is releasing a firmware patch that will be available via BIOS update, and will not have any expected impact on system performance to address the issues. An article on PCPer goes into more depth.

In addition CTS Labs has posted a video on YouTube, showing proof-of-concept for the Masterkey-1 exploit. In the video CTS Labs shows them installing a modified BIOS for a TYAN motherboard which makes the screen flicker during boot.

The integrity of CTS Labs has come into question, since they published the vulnerabilities last week, to where even Linus Torvalds spoke about it in his signature style. I find it interesting that CTS Labs has decided to disable comments and hige the like/dislike ratio for the video above. And I find it impressive that AMD is going to release a patch for this, despite the fact the attacker must already have full access to the machine, as well as know what motherboard it is using in order to write a custom BIOS. Still seems quite shady to me.


First Rule of GPP: Don't Talk About GPP

Just over two weeks after Kyle broke the story of the Geforce Partner Program and its potential anti-consumer policies, the silence from Nvidia and it's partners has been deafening. Forbes published an article today, in which writer Jason Evangelho outlines that is isn't just Kyle who has been getting the cold shoulder. Jason states that while performing his own follow-up to the HardOCP investigation, all of his contacts have gone dark, including a few who had agreed to speak off the record. However Jason does state "I had two brief conversations that made it obvious the program was troublesome, to put it mildly."

Jason also points out a Reddit thread that was posted today, pointing out the GPP had claimed its "first victim." Further digging found nothing amiss at Asus' website, with plenty of ROG Radeon offerings. However the MSI product page for their "Gaming X" branded GPUs are devoid of Radeon cards. As well Gigabyte has released a new external GPU enclosure, housing an RX 580, which is suspiciously devoid of any AUROS branding, unlike the NVIDIA counterparts. ComputerBase.de reached out to Gigabyte about why this model was not under the brand for "players," and were told by Gigabyte that the focus of the RX 580 enclosure is not on "players."

It is quite telling how many outlets, as well as YouTubers have picked up on this story, without one official response from NVIDIA or any AIB partners. Personally it makes me wonder if they are hoping that the outrage will blow over, or if they are preparing for possible litigation. When you have outlets like Forbes, and Jayztwocents all investigating and keeping the GPP in the news, the lack of response is disconcerting.

Second rule of GPP: DON"T TALK ABOUT GPP!


Bitcoin's Blockchain Loaded with Child Pornography

Researchers at RWTH Aachen University in Germany claim to have found 274 links to child pornography while investigating what financial data has been stashed within the blockchain according to a report from PCMag. in a paper that was presented at a conference earlier this month, in which the researchers also state that a pornographic image, possibly of a minor was also embedded into the blockchain, which theoretically could make Bitcoin illegal to possess in 112 countries.

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If true this certainly makes for an interesting twist into the legality of Bitcoin, as well as possibly the future of cryptocurrency as a whole.

Among the data was the child pornographic content found in three files; the 274 links were lists that directed to sites found on the Dark Web. The researchers also uncovered six wedding-related images, 609 transactions containing public chat logs, emails and forum posts discussing Bitcoin and money laundering, in addition to backups of WikiLeaks data.


YouTube Testing Picture-in-Picture on the Web

9to5Google is reporting that YouTube is testing picture-in-picture on the web. The feature has been available on Android and iOS for a long time, allowing a floating video player so that users can continue browsing while they watch, and now a small subset of users has had this feature rolled out on PC as well.

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Surprised it took this long to bring the feature to computers, but updates to YouTube always seem very slow to materialize. One thing of note in the 9to5Google article, is that they are unsure if this feature is restricted only to YouTube Red subscription holders at this time.

If rolled out to your account, you will be able to start a video and then click anywhere on YouTube — including returning to the homepage, performing a search, or viewing a channel. The audio will continue to play as a sizable floating window appears in the bottom-right corner of your screen.


Research Finds Visiting Pirate Sites Leads to More Malware

TorrentFreak is reporting that new research from shows the more time spent on pirate sites leads to increased malware. In a paper published by Carnegie Mellon University titled "Does Online Piracy make Computers Insecure?" they observed the computer habits of 253 people, and found that doubling the amount of time spent on pirate sites, there is a 20 percent increase in malware count.

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The article on TorrentFreak also states that the average number of malware files found on a pirate's machine is 1.5, compared to 1.4 for people who never visit any pirate sites. So if you are getting your Linux isos from 3rd party places, it seems like malware shouldn't be much of a concern.

The research estimates that, when someone doubles the amount of traffic spent on a pirate site, this person adds an extra 0.05 of a piece of malware per month, with the average being 0.24. So, most people encounter no malware in a typical month. This means that pirate sites are an increased a risk, but it’s not as extreme as sometimes portrayed.


GeForce Game Ready Driver 391.24 Released

NVIDIA has released the new GeForce Game Ready Driver, 391.24. Bringing with it support for Sea of Thieves as well as a few bugfixes. You can grab the new driver here, and check out the release notes here.

Sea of Thieves looks interesting, if you are interested in picking it up, it's available today from the Microsoft Store for $59.99, and check out some live gameplay right here.

Stream may have NSFW language.


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