Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

[H]ard News

Sunday July 23, 2017

Nexus 6P Bootloop Fix Found

Those of you with a Nexus 6P affected by bootloops can now dust it off, as a fix is now available for fully booting up your device again. In order to revive your Nexus 6P, you’ll need to flash modified files that disable the root of the problem: the big clusters of the Snapdragon 810 SoC. For some reason, these "A57 performance cores" prevent the phone from booting when active, so they need to be turned off completely. Flashed (fixed) phones will run on the "A53 little cores" instead, which are slower but more power efficient.

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Near the end of 2016, we saw a volley of reports from multiple users claiming their Nexus 6P units were inexplicably entering random bootloops, a problem seemingly separate from the early shutdowns that plagued the phone around the same time. This was different, and while reduced battery life is certainly bad, the bootloops essentially turned the smartphone into paperweight. Users who faced this issue quickly sunk into despair as there was no remedy in sight. No amount of data wiping or re-flashing of factory images seemed to solve the problem, indicating that the issue was hardware-related, possibly a problem in the SoC.

Discussion

Ethereum Miners Are Selling Their Graphics Cards

This writer suspects that the Ethereum craze may be slowing down, at least a little bit, based on the rapidly increasing sales of used mining rigs on eBay. While sellers could simply be moving more mining rigs to meet demand, being that interest in Ethereum remains high, those who were queried claim that they are, in fact, getting out of the market. Of course, nobody knows for sure when the exorbitant markups on certain GPUs will officially end.

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...ethereum mining gets more difficult over time, causing any particular hardware setup to gradually earn less money every day. Based on the RX580's processing ability, power consumption, the drop in trading price, and the increase in mining difficulty, I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations. According to my math, the same graphics card that used to earn about $5 a day now earns less than roughly $2 a day. A $300 graphics card that might have paid for itself in 2-3 months (after electricity costs) will now take over 6 months, at best. A sizable mining operation can stomach that sort of long-term investment, but there aren't a lot of hobbyists who are willing to stick it out.

Discussion

Sony Remains Unsure Whether Console Refreshes Are the Way Forward

Will there be another PlayStation 4 Pro? Your guess is as good as Sony’s: Jim Ryan, Global Head of Marketing and Sales at PlayStation, has suggested that console refreshes are still in an experimental phase. That isn’t too surprising, being that the Pro only launched late last year. My reading on this is that it may be safe for those who want a PS4 (but are afraid it will be replaced in short time) to just jump in, as Sony may opt for a true generational leap with a PS5, which will take a longer time to get ready.

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It’s a very interesting question. The cultural phenomenon of regular updates to smartphones and tablets is without question, perhaps subliminally, coloring mindsets. And the days of a 13-year PlayStation 2 cycle will almost certainly never repeat themselves. But equally, a platform is a very delicate ecosystem, and if that platform is to succeed, you’ve got to give those who make content for it the chance to recoup on it. At the end of the day, like it or not, these are businesses.

Discussion

Dell Is Reportedly Selling Monitors with "Fake" HDR

Dell launched the U2518D this week, a 2560x1440 IPS panel that includes "Dell HDR." Unfortunately, the high dynamic range feature appears to be more of a marketing ploy: while the monitor is capable of 99% sRGB coverage, it only features a maximum brightness of 350 cd/m2, which does not meet industry-wide standards such as HDR10 or Dolby Vision. Additionally, the panel only offers 8-bit color, whereas HDR10 displays should be full 10-bit.

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...the monitor offers support for "Dell HDR" (High Dynamic Range), but here is the conundrum: it is a simulated/software-based HDR mode that responds to HDR10 content, so this display doesn’t support the color gamut, peak luminance, or bit depth required for a true HDR experience. It could still make HDR10 content better looking, but it seems to be just a marketing gimmick.

Discussion

Watch the Hulk Speak in New Thor: Ragnarok Trailer

Marvel’s latest trailer for Thor: Ragnarok is currently the #1 trending video on YouTube, and I can see why people are excited: the Incredible Hulk will be joining Thor, Loki, and other franchise staples to battle Hela, the goddess of death in a stylized context reminiscent of what we saw in the Guardians of the Galaxy films. There seems to be a bit of Zack Snyder here, too, based on those ultra-artistic, slow-motion shots.

Discussion

YouTube Is Shutting Down Its Video Editor and Photo Slideshow Tools

YouTube’s video editor and photo slideshow tools will be terminated on September 20, 2017. The probable reason for this is that nobody used them: web video editing is inferior to native applications, such as Premiere and Final Cut Pro. Google even notes that there are many free and paid third-party editing tools available for anyone in need of new editing software.

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Enhancements will continue to be available and accessible through Video Manager. You can still improve your uploaded videos in Video Manager using Enhancements to make edits such as trim, blur and filter. If you’re currently using Video Editor or Photo slideshows, you have until September 20, 2017 to finish and publish your projects. After this date, your projects will no longer be accessible. Any videos published with the Video Editor or Photo slideshows before September 20, 2017, will not be affected.

Discussion

NASA Warns That Your Eclipse Glasses May Be Unsafe

On Monday, August 21, 2017, a solar eclipse will be visible (weather permitting) across all of North America, and NASA has prepared an early PSA for viewers who wish to stare into the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun: doing so with the naked eye is obviously a terrible idea, but those who already have eyewear or handheld viewers prepared should thoroughly inspect whether they meet the basic proper safety viewing standards. These should include an ISO 12312-2 designation and lenses that are less than three years old.

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The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as "eclipse glasses" or handheld solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun. To date, five manufacturers have certified that their eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products: American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold film only), Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.

Discussion

Samsung Galaxy S9 to Retain Screen Size of S8

Next year’s Galaxy phone has been tipped to sport the same size and shape of Infinity Display as the current model: that means a 5.77-inch and 6.22-inch display for the S9 and S9 Plus, respectively. The Note 9 is also expected to use a 6.32-inch screen, just like the Note 8, which will be unveiled next month. Are designers finally beginning to realize that phones are getting too big?

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The S9 will have a 5.77-inch display screen, while the bigger S9 Plus will come with a 6.22-inch screen. The same size as the S8 lineup launched in April. The so-called "infinite" shape is also expected to curb the right and left sides with no home button. The report said Samsung is likely to attempt again to feature on-screen fingerprint scanning that is missing from the S8 due to technical immaturity. In the meantime, Samsung has also tentatively decided to use the same 6.32-inch display screen for the Galaxy Note 9 as the upcoming Note 8 that is expected to be unveiled on Aug. 23 in New York.

Discussion

College Students Are Flocking to Computer Science Majors

Computer science programs are blowing up in popularity: figures from Boston, Dartmouth, and Stanford are showing that declared CS majors have quadrupled, or even quintupled, within the last decade. While enrollments will inevitably level off, academics suggest interest will remain high, which isn’t surprising, based on today’s tech-oriented climate and increasing demand for new grads who know their way around code, data analytics, and so on.

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The bursting of the dot.com bubble in 2000 prompted students to reject computer science programs. Enrollments plummeted with the crash. But colleges are now scrambling to keep up with the major’s year-after-year enrollment growth. Take Stanford University. In the 2007-08 academic year, Stanford had 87 declared undergraduate computer science majors. That was near the trough of the great decline in computer science enrollments. But since then, the number of declared majors at Stanford has grown in each year and by the 2016-17 academic year, Stanford counted 353 majors. This is now the school's top undergraduate major.

Discussion

Say Goodbye to These Windows 10 Features in the Fall Creators Update

Microsoft has published a support document revealing what features will be removed or deprecated in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update: these include the Paint application, Outlook Express, screen saver functionality in Themes, System Image Backup (SIB) Solution, and Windows PowerShell 2.0.

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The following features and functionalities in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update are either removed from the product in the current release ("Removed") or are not in active development and might be removed in future releases ("Deprecated"). This list is intended to help customers consider these removals and deprecations for their own planning. The list is subject to change and may not include every deprecated feature or functionality.

Discussion

Fukushima Disaster: Robot Finds Possible Melted Nuclear Fuel

An underwater robot investigating the inside of reactor 3 at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant has captured what is believed to be the first images of melted nuclear fuel deposits. Obviously, this is very bad news: melted nuclear fuel is one of the most toxic substances known to man, and it’s been pouring into the North Pacific for some time at an uncontrolled rate, affecting much of marine life.

This is the first time Tepco has found something likely to be melted fuel. When the utility sent a different robot into reactor 2 in January, it found black lumps sticking to the grating in the primary containment vessel but said they were difficult to identify. The objects spotted this time look like icicles hanging around a control rod drive attached to the bottom of the pressure vessel, which holds the core, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. said at an evening news conference Friday.

Discussion

2017’s Top 10 Programming Languages: Python Ranks No. 1

IEEE Spectrum released their fourth interactive ranking of programming languages this week, and Python has earned the top spot, nudging out C and Java, which took second and third place respectively. Ruby has dropped out of the list completely, while Swift has entered at tenth place.

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Python has continued its upward trajectory from last year and jumped two places to the No. 1 slot, though the top four -- Python, C, Java, and C++ -- all remain very close in popularity. Indeed, in Diakopoulos’s analysis of what the underlying metrics have to say about the languages currently in demand by recruiting companies, C comes out ahead of Python by a good margin.

Discussion

Saturday July 22, 2017

Firefox Can Now Open a Ridiculous Number of Tabs in Seconds

A tab hoarder at Mozilla decided to document the performance of the latest versions of Firefox and found that the engineers responsible for improving the browser’s responsiveness have actually been doing their jobs: while Firefox 51 took nearly 8 minutes to open a profile comprising 1691 tabs, the same only took Firefox 55 and 56 a couple of seconds. Another bar graph shows that memory usage is significantly reduced in the latter versions.

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Graph of startup time with 1691 tabs across Firefox versions 20, 30, 40 and 50 - 56. The Y axis is minutes. Yes, Firefox 51 took almost 8 MINUTES to start up. However, as of Firefox 55 it only takes 15 seconds. For 1691 tabs. Really. I no longer fear restarts. Lately, I just restart Firefox for fun sometimes. It's interesting that Firefox startup time got consistently worse over time until Firefox 51. It'd be interesting to do this test with varying numbers of tabs and find out at what point these types of regressions become noticeable.

Discussion

Justice League Trailer Debuts at Comic-Con

As expected, Warner Bros. released the full-length Justice League trailer during their panel today at the San Diego Comic-Con. Say what you will about Zack Snyder, but nobody is able to create visuals quite like him: the Themyscira shots alone look leaps and bounds above what we saw in the Wonder Woman film. Sadly, Joss Whedon is reportedly reshooting numerous scenes for the movie, so there might be some level of inconsistency.

Discussion

Intel’s Principal Engineer Quits after 20 Years

Francois Piednoel has announced that he will no longer be working at Intel. According to his Linkedin profile, Mr. Piednoel had been with the company since 1997, where he worked on a slew of processors including Katmai, Conroe, Penryn, and Nehalem, as well as SoCs in Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, Haswell, Broadwell, Skylake, and Kaby Lake. No, he isn’t leaving for AMD (or so he claims).

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Discussion

Electric Car Sales Reach 40% Growth in the US

The rise of electric cars seems inevitable: while countries like Norway have already witnessed EVs comprising 42% of total new car sales, the latest figures suggest that the US is slowly but surely following suit. Some say that EV sales could reach 20% by 2025, while others are even more optimistic due to the impending launch of vehicles such as the Model 3, Nissan Leaf, and Audi E-Tron Quattro.

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Peter O’Connor of the Union of Concerned Scientists noted this week that the US electric vehicle market saw a 32% annual growth rate between 2012-2016 and it is now reaching 40%. He makes a projection based on the growth rate: "But what if the market were actually hitting a "tipping point" such that this recent growth could continue? If a 40% growth rate could be sustained for the next six years, then we would see EVs reach 10% of US vehicle sales in 2023, and possibly near 20% by 2025." That’s encouraging, but as we previously reported, the current growth is likely to be dwarfed by what’s coming in the next 2 years.

Discussion

Analyst Insists That Japanese Games Are Irrelevant

Despite the fact that some of this year’s highest-rated and best-selling games are Japanese, analyst Michael Pachter doesn’t think they matter and considers them irrelevant to the larger market. He suggests that games can only be successful nowadays if they have "western appeal," implying that Japanese games are merely a niche. He does admit that Nintendo is a big exception, however.

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"Persona 5 was really, seriously, the first Japanese game that I liked in years, outside of Kojima and Nintendo stuff. But no, I don’t think it matters. There’s going to be the occasional Final Fantasy that will sell like 8 or 10 or 20 million games, but the Japanese games that ultimately work are games like Metal Gear, the ones that have a western appeal to them, those are the ones that have mass appeal. The ones that have Japanese appeal, don’t have mass appeal, and they don’t translate well to other cultures."

Discussion

Razer Is Making a Gaming Smartphone for "Hardcore Gamers"

Razer is currently targeting a $5 billion IPO in Hong Kong so the company can expand in China, and some of those funds will reportedly be used toward the development of a gaming smartphone. Based on the company’s buyout of Nextbit, the device may very likely be powered by Android. Razer is also developing a virtual currency called zGold and a software platform that connects and launches games for some 35 million users.

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The company -- which makes accessories from mice to laptops that bear a green tri-headed snake -- is developing a mobile device tailored for its consumer base of hardcore gamers, according to the people. Razer’s share sale, which will give it ample ammunition to develop new gadgets, will seek to value the company at $3 billion to $5 billion, the people said, asking not to be identified talking about internal plans. It aims to list around October, the people said.

Discussion

Big Smartphones Ate the Tablet Market

According to data in a new forecast by research firm Forrester, the number of tablets in active use will decline for the first time this year, and interest will continue to decline by 1 percent over the next five years. Smartphones with large screens are supposedly to blame, but I suspect that light and powerful 2-in-1 laptops are also contributing to the decay.

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Big phones are to blame, especially in developing markets like China and India where most - 65 percent and 62 percent, respectively - smartphone owners have big screens, between 5 inches and 6 inches in diagonal (an iPhone 7 Plus measures 5.5 inches diagonally). Accordingly, just 6.4 percent of the population in China and 1.1 percent in India have tablets, according to Forrester. Smartphones are often the primary devices for people in developing nations to connect to the internet, and it’s where smartphone sales are growing the fastest. Bigger smartphones let users complete a wider range of activities - and also obviate the need for tablets.

Discussion

Mega Man Is Heading to the Big Screen

A movie adaptation of Mega Man is reportedly moving forward: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, who recently directed "Nerve" and "Viral," are in final negotiations to write and direct. I am having a difficult time imagining how they can translate the franchise into live action while keeping things faithful to the series.

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Chernin Entertainment is producing the project with Heroes actor Masi Oka. Twentieth Century Fox worked for over two years to acquire the rights and finally closed a deal earlier this year. The video game, first released in 1987 by Capcom, centers on a robotic lab assistant created by a scientist named Dr. Light. Light is betrayed by a colleague, the disgruntled Dr. Wily, who reprograms a line of robots in order to take over the world. The lab assistant, nicknamed Rock, then upgrades himself into combat mode in order to save mankind.

Discussion

China Aims to Be World’s AI Leader by 2025

China intends to become the world leader in artificial intelligence within a decade: the country has released a development plan aiming to grow the country's core AI industries to over 150 billion yuan ($22.15 billion) by 2020 and 400 billion yuan ($59.07 billion) by 2025. While China has already invested greatly in AI, it lags behind global leaders due to a lack of high-end computer chips, software, and trained personnel.

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China is looking to rival U.S. market leaders such as Alphabet Inc's Google and Microsoft Corp, as it is keen not to be left behind in a technology that is increasingly key from smart cars to energy. "The local and central government are supporting this AI effort," said Rui Yong, chief technology officer at PC maker Lenovo Group, speaking on the sidelines of an AI conference in Shanghai on Thursday. "They see this trend coming and they want to invest more." Beijing's AI plan comes as the United States is poised to bolster its scrutiny of investments, including artificial intelligence, over fears that countries including China could access technology of strategic military importance.

Discussion

Is 7nm the Last Major Node?

A combination of technical difficulties, narrowing improvements in performance, and increasing costs is making the future of scaling ambiguous: despite the inevitable onset of 5nm, many companies cannot find a compelling reason to go down to 7nm, and emerging markets are expected to cling to older nodes instead. The brute force approach to shrinking no longer works, and some believe that the entire semiconductor industry may require a reset.

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...it’s simply getting harder to design, inspect and test chips at advanced nodes. Physical effects such as heat, electrostatic discharge and electromagnetic interference are more pronounced at 7nm than at 28nm. It also takes more power to drive signals through skinny wires, and circuits are more sensitive to test and inspection, as well as to thermal migration across a chip. All of that needs to be accounted for and simulated using multi-physics simulation, emulation and prototyping.

Discussion

Revenue from Office 365 Subscriptions Overtakes Traditional Office Software Licensing

Moving software to a subscription model has been a success for many companies, and it’s no different for Microsoft: an executive has revealed that Office 365, which launched in 2011, now earns more money than traditional versions. This edition of the suite allows the use of Office apps on both Windows and macOS, alongside immediate updates and storage space on OneDrive. I wonder what Microsoft will make a subscription service next.

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...strength in Microsoft's cloud business, including Office 365 and Windows Azure, was the key to the company's growth. Of note, Microsoft CFO Amy Hood told analysts that, for the first time, Microsoft got more revenue from Office 365 subscriptions than from traditional Office software licensing. Why it matters: Microsoft has shown an ability to grow its business even as the PC market has stalled, reflecting moves the company made in the cloud both since Satya Nadella took over as CEO as well as some that were in place before he took over the top spot.

Discussion

Verizon Admits to Throttling Netflix

Earlier this week, a number of Verizon subscribers discovered that the carrier was capping Netflix at 10Mbps. The company has now admitted to the throttling, calling it a "network test" that "should be completed shortly." While 1080p video can be streamed without issue at those speeds, Verizon had boasted in the past of not manipulating its data like AT&T and T-Mobile. This is also a clear example of why net neutrality will be missed.

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"We’ve been doing network testing over the past few days to optimize the performance of video applications on our network. The testing should be completed shortly. The customer video experience was not affected." While Verizon states that video experience was not affected for customers, that’s not exactly the point. With Title II still in effect, ISPs are required to treat all data equally, regardless of its origin. If Verizon is purposefully throttling (or placing caps on select applications), that’s a no-no.

Discussion


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