[H]ard News

Samsung Galaxy 8 Launches Today and the Tame Apple Press is Terrified

TechEye has an editorial documenting the Tame Apple Press at Reuters leaning towards the new Apple iPhone and admonishing the new Samsung S8. Reading the Reuters quotes is hilarious as they keep telling their readers to wait on buying the Samsung S8 for several months to make sure that the battery situation from the Samsung Note 7 has been remedied. Never mind that this is a completely new phone offering from Samsung and they have literally spent $135 million on improvements and studies to make sure that the issue doesn't occur again. The Reuters article pounds the battery safety issue over and over with quotes from consumers stating that what are they looking for most from Samsung is, "A non exploding phone."

The Tame Apple Press at Reuters is so pro Apple that they suggest that Samsung shouldn't delve into the new functionality and features of the new Samsung S8; rather they should concentrate on battery safety at their unveiling. Other quotes from the Reuters article include, "Downplaying the battery safety issue may also be a sensible marketing option as the new quality measures can't guarantee there will be no future problems. Any failure rate would likely be very low at first." Reuters admits that Samsung even pushed back the launch of their new product to ensure safety is their first priority, but that didn't satisfy the Tame Apple Press. They want more than the new X-RAY system that Samsung implemented to ensure battery safety as using X-RAY images to find potential faults isn't good enough for the Tame Apple Press at Reuters.

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How much more wearing of their heart on their sleeves can the Tame Apple Press at Reuters do? TechEye suggests that Samsung should sue them for suggesting that the new phone will catch fire. To what extent are fanboys allowed to write articles on major websites that proclaim to cover the news. Adding humor by highlighting a previous shortcoming is one thing; Reuters was being malicious in my opinion. I think it should be taken down with an apology sent to Samsung. How do you feel about it? How much bias it too much? Don't forget to check out the Samsung S8 features article that was posted earlier. Lots of good stuff in it!

Downplaying the battery safety issue may also be a sensible marketing option as the new quality measures can't guarantee there will be no future problems. Any failure rate would likely be very low at first.

Samsung said last year it confirmed just 140 faulty batteries in more than 3 million Note 7s it sold - fewer than five in every 100,000. "How confident are they that they can actually find a faulty cell with these additional checks," said Venkat Viswanathan, assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon and a battery technology expert. "It's sort of finding a needle in a haystack."

Some analysts expect the S8, expected to go on sale next month, to outsell the Galaxy S7, which was Samsung's best seller in its first year from launch. Others, though, say consumers may prefer to wait a few months before buying, just to be sure the new phones are safe.


Twitch Adds 1080p/60fps Video Support and 6000 kbps Ingest Capabilities

Twitch.tv has added 1080p/60fps streaming capabilities to their service by increasing the allowed ingest bitrate to 6000 kbps. This will allow for much more fluid video playback on channels where it has been enabled. Those channels will have lower bitrate options also! It is coming to all of Twitch in the coming weeks, but for now they are rolling it out slowly to a few channels. To test and see if your channel supports the new higher bitrate formats, visit Twitch Inspector and see if your channel supports "Transcode V2." If so then you're ready to test the higher bitrates and increased quality streams. There are several guides on this Twitch support page to ease the transition to higher quality video.

This is the perfect time for a new Intel X99 or AMD Ryzen build as they recommend a "slow" CPU preset. The slow setting should really tax the encoding capabilities of your hardware and I'm wary that a quad core will suffice if gaming on the system at the same time. Awesome time for a new hardware build with more cores!

Your Twitch streams will soon look finer than ever thanks to our new 1080p/60fps video support.

For starters, we’re no longer limiting our ingest bitrate to 3.5 megabits. We officially recommend 3–6 megabits for most streams, skewing toward the higher end for 1080p broadcasts or faster, more demanding games.

We’re also rolling out a new set of numbered quality options (transcodes, if you’re fancy), starting today. Viewers now have more choices, and you won’t have to worry about them dropping to 480p when "source quality" is unavailable. Combined with our recent transcode updates, it’s never been easier to stream higher quality video to more people.


[H]ardware Round-Up II

Intel i7-7700K vs. AMD Ryzen R7 1700 in Gaming (7700K-$309 / 1700-$329) @ Lan OC Reviews

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MSI GTX 1080 Ti GAMING X Review @ Guru 3D

AMD RX 580 and RX 570 Spy Pics @ [H]ardForum

Samsung Pours Out Galaxy S8 Information

For all you phone guys out there, Samsung has let loose with a ton of Galaxy S8 information this morning.

S7 vs S8 Infographic - Smartphones Without Limits - The Galaxy S8 Design and UX - Bixby, the Galaxy S8 Intelligent Interface - The Galaxy S8 Camera - The Galaxy S8 Infinity Display - 8 Galaxy S8 Features You Should Know About

Might want to stop by Amazon to check on fire suits as well. Cheap shot...


The Darker Side of Black - Vantablack

I saw this come across Twitter this morning, and it was just one of those things that had a really big cool factor in terms of technology and I wanted to share. At first you will think that someone got bit crazy with Photoshop and this photo, but what you see in the picture is actually a sphere that has been painted with a substance called Vantablack. A quick Google image search will bring up all sorts of cool images as well.

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To enhance the flexibility of applying super-black coatings, Surrey NanoSystems has developed a spray-on version called Vantablack S-VIS with a reflectance of typically 0.2% in the visible spectrum (@700nm). This allows super-black coatings to be applied to almost any stable material surface - such as polymers - as well as to large and complex shapes (objects just need to be able to fit into a spray painting booth). The application process is much more flexible than original Vantablack, which is applied in a vacuum chamber using low temperature chemical vapour deposition (CVD).

And a shout out to Texas Hippie Coalition for the news tag line.


Intel Crosses an Unacceptable Ethical Line

Charlie Demerjian at Semiaccurate has an editorial posted where he questions Intel's ethics in regards to their recent P4800X enterprise SSD and the M.2 Xpoint based consumer Optane Memory announcement webcast. It seems that Intel put out a briefing with a slide deck, data points, and fine print showing real world testing of their new product performing better than it really was capable of. After the webcast the slide deck was amended to hide the outlandish performance numbers by selectively removing those slides from the release slide deck. When questioned as to why, Intel dodged the answer until Charlie was finally told that it was done intentionally. Here is a quote from the editorial in his words, "A later phone call with other Intel personnel confirmed that the removal was intentional. Again, completely unacceptable with intent to mislead."

The original deck had 50+ slides detailing performance and the press release deck only had 31. The editorial includes data from some of the omitted slides that show ambiguous testing where the conditions of the test aren't fully known. Or even worse; testing of products in a manner that would never have been a real world situation. Then Intel skipped testing their new product against a consumer grade NAND SSD for fear of it painting their product in a bad light. Instead they created scenarios such as Windows 10 Kaby Lake systems with 4GB of ram outfitted with a mechanical drive going against the P4800X SSD. Then Intel proclaimed their Optane product performance multitudes faster than the competition. By hiding the slides and videos from the presentation, the tech press can only go on memory when writing articles about the product. Charlie implies that it is deceitful and a PR stunt to mislead.

This editorial on Semiaccurate is a must read as it contains many details and some of the missing slides! How do you feel when corporations intentionally mislead their customers and the tech press? Are we just used to it? I think it was sleazy to do so in such a manner as to use the tech press to push your deceitful numbers and dubious testing methodology. Other corporations have done this in the past and it's never okay. Again this is an editorial that deserves a good reading!

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What did Intel do? They put out a briefing with lots of slides, data points, and fine print in the briefing. These gave the impression that the products were far better and more impressive than they were. When the slides were released, several key ones on the P4800X were absent, including almost every one that had real world non-synthetic test results. Worse yet on the M.2 SSD slides, over half were missing including every single one that contained testing data, configurations, and information necessary to back up the claims made in the webcast. This is unacceptable behavior in the best of circumstances.

Moving on, numerically backwards, to the P4800X slides we have the one above, also pulled. It may look innocuous but to legal it probably isn’t. Slides that state benefits without backing data are usually forbidden because it invites lawsuits. Here Intel made three distinct statements for the P4800X and didn’t back them up. Pulling it was probably right but presenting it to the press, making those claims, and then pulling the slides was probably intended to make the press write the claims ‘in their own words’. This is what we called the sleaziest of PR tactics, trying to get the press to write things you know you can’t legally say or claim. Unethical in the extreme.


‘Pirate’ Movie Streaming Sites Declared Legal By Italian Court

In 2015 an Italian court ruled against the owners of filmakers.biz, filmaker.me, filmakerz.org, and cineteka.org citing them for running a pirate movie operation and generating revenue through the sale of advertising. In February 2017, the $600,000 judgement against the owners was reversed through appeal as it was determined that advertising on a website, that provides only links to pirate material, does not necessarily make it a for profit business. The prosecution must also show that profit activity is connected to an individual. The advertising on the website didn't provide financial gain for the owners, thus it was ruled to be simply file sharing. File sharing the court ruled is a saving of expense and not a for profit business. Thus the penalties of Copyright Law and associated sanctions aren't applicable in this case.

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The repercussions of the ruling will undoubtedly be felt across Europe as Italy is a Member state of the European Union. With the NFL, NBA, and other American sporting corporations seeking to generate a fan base in the EU, I'd think that it may even affect our laws. What is the incentive for paying to watch a game when you can stream it from Italy? If the stream is simple file sharing in Italy, then how does that affect the legality of watching it in America? This was truly an interesting ruling coming out of Italy! What do you think?

"The Judge has recognized as lawful the portals’ activities, and this despite the presence of advertising banners," Sarzana says. According to the lawyer, it is not enough to simply show that the ‘pirate’ site generates income. The prosecution must also show that profit activity is connected to an individual. If it does not, the sharing aspect could be considered as merely avoiding an expense rather than a for-profit activity designed to generate "significant gain". In the event, that’s exactly what happened.

"In fact, the Judge ruled that file sharing, i.e the sharing of files protected by copyright, is a saving of expense and not a for-profit business. Therefore, in these cases you cannot apply the penal provisions of copyright law and the resulting administrative sanctions," Sarzana notes.


AMD Threadripper is a 16-Core 32 Thread Monster [Rumor]

Turkish tech website Donanimhaber (translator needed) has leaked some new rumors about the specifications of the upcoming AMD Threadripper 16-core / 32 thread processors. While the upcoming 32-core Naples family is destined for servers, the new 12-core and 16-core AMD Threadripper line is for end users. AMD has developed the 16-core Ryzen processors for end users by combining the MCM (Multi-Chip Module) or the 8-core dual processor core in the same module. Of course the 12-core variant will have one core per CCX disabled. This lineup is meant to rival the Intel Core i7-6950X.

There is a four-channel memory controller on tap so that these processors can better compete with Intel's best. We already covered the X390 and X399 chipsets here that AMD Threadripper processors will run on. Currently AMD is expecting these processors to have a 140W TDP for the 12-core and a 180W TDP for the 16-core. 64 PCIe lanes will be available and the lineup sports a 32MB Level 3 memory cache. These processors are going to use the B2 revision of the Ryzen core which fixes errata and the current engineering samples are running at 3.2GHz / 3.4GHz with a 3.7GHz turbo. AMD expects to increase this to a 3.6GHz base with a 4.0GHz turbo by launch. The Cinebench score is around 2500 points.

The author of the article expects to see more information on these at Computex and a release of June or July assuming that everything stays on schedule. This leak sounds like AMD is about to unleash the Kraken on Intel. I can't wait to see some workstations showcased on [H]ardocp with these new Threadripper processors in them. Of course this is all rumor, so don't jump on the hype train just yet. The thought of competition in the CPU space is always wonderful news.

According to Elime, the launch of Threadripper Ryzen processors with 16 cores and 32 tracks will be done during the Computex Fair and will be sold in late June or July, possibly in the following period. Of course, I would like to remind you that AMD has the right to make changes in the launch date and sales schedule without notice because of the early stage information. The price issue is unclear for now, but I know AMD has different scenarios on which to work, but the most powerful processor with 16 cores will cost a bit more than twice the size of the Ryzen 1800X.


[H]ardware Round-Up

Thermalright True Spirit 140 Direct ($47) @ Tech Power Up

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Noctua NH-U12S SE-AM4 Cooler Review ($58) @ Funky Kit

Phanteks PH-TC14S Review ($50) @ Tech Legend

Gigabyte Aorus AX370 Gaming 5 review ($195) ( @ Guru 3D

ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero Motherboard Review ($380) @ Kit Guru

ASRock X370 Taichi AM4 Motherboard Review ($189) @ Hardware Canadians

Samsung EVO Plus 128GB MicroSDXC Memory Card Review ($43) @ Legit Reviews

be quiet! Pure Base 600 Window Review ($152) @ Vortez

Cooler Master MasterCase Pro 6 Case Review @ Think Computers

Corsair Vengeance LED DDR4-3200C16 32GB Review ($270) @ OCaHolic

Ballistix Sport LT Red 32GB 2666MHz DDR4 Memory Kit Review @ Mad Shrimps

Tuesday March 28, 2017

Intel X299 Chipset and Intel Core i7-7740K Spotted in the Wild [Rumor]

Videocardz has found an Intel i7-7740K paired with an ASRock X299 Professional Gaming i7 motherboard in the Sisoft database. Some of the features are a new socket LGA2066, and the lack of an integrated GPU. The new i7-7740K has a 100 MHz higher base clock and thus an increased TDP from 91W to 112W. Is a quad core going to become the entry level processor for Intel's HEDT platform?

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Intel Kaby Lake-X is the first architecture that will launch in Intel X299 chipset. Later on, Intel will release Skylake-X with 6, 8 and 10-core configurations. Those processors will have more PCIE lanes than Kaby Lake X (up to 44, versus 16 lanes for KBL-X) and quad-channel memory support.


Comcast to Expand Streaming Service Amid Cord-Cutting Trend

The streaming-service onslaught continues as Comcast plans to capitalize on the trend with their offering, dubbed Xfinity Instant TV. While this isn’t a full-blown TV service, it is decently priced (starting at $15 a month) and offers at least one premium channel (e.g., HBO) at its entry tier. The bad news is that you will need to be a Comcast broadband subscriber, but don’t fret, as there are at least three other competitors: AT&T’s DirecTV, Google’s YouTube TV, and Hulu’s unnamed service.

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The service, dubbed Xfinity Instant TV, will be priced as low as $15 a month to roughly $40 a month, sources said. It will include major broadcast networks as well as sports channels like ESPN and Spanish language channels such as Telemundo and Univision. Xfinity Instant TV is expected to be available in the third quarter to more than 50 million homes within Comcast's footprint, which includes cities such as Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. The company is changing its video offerings to be more targeted as viewer habits evolve. Xfinity Instant TV will be aimed at high-speed Internet subscribers who cannot afford or do not want to pay for bigger cable bundles, sources said.


Destiny 2 "Last Call" Teaser

Bungie officially announced Destiny 2 yesterday through a lame Twitter post, but they are trying to make up for that with this sort-of-neat teaser. We are once again reminded that robots are going to take all of our jobs, with that janitor bot sweeping along. I assume that actual game footage will be unveiled on March 30, which is when the real trailer will drop.


MIT Researchers Reveal More Efficient Way to Build Chips below 10nm Process

The whizzes at MIT have figured out a way to get chip structures to assemble themselves at microscopic levels. Instead of using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography or electron and ion scanning, which can be costly, researchers are describing a new method that combines traditional disciplines with a combination of polymers that can be used to "build up any kind of complex patterning."

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The new process uses a novel integration of three existing methods. First, a pattern of lines is produced on the chip surface using well-established lithographic techniques, in which an electron beam is used to "write" the pattern on the chip. Then, a layer of material known as a block copolymer — a mix of two different polymer materials that naturally segregate themselves into alternating layers or other predictable patterns — is formed by spin coating a solution. The block copolymers are made up of chain-like molecules, each consisting of two different polymer materials connected end-to-end.


Johnny Depp to Play Cyber Security Icon and Accused Murderer John McAfee

Is John McAfee’s life so interesting that he deserves a movie? Well, yeah. Jack Sparrow himself will be playing the role of the famed anti-virus company founder, who is additionally known for everything from seeking office of the President of the United States to being a "person of interest" in connection with the murder of an American expatriate.

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CAA will soon take to the town King of the Jungle, with new client Johnny Depp attached to play computer virus magnate-turned-accused murderer John McAfee as he takes a Wired magazine writer on a darkly comic Apocalypse Now-like tour at his Belize compound, a trip filled with paranoia, machine guns, sex and murder. Glenn Ficarra & John Requa will direct a script by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (the pic was originally developed at Warner Bros).


Would You Consider a Disc-Free Console?

Microsoft has finally admitted that its plan for letting game publishers limit the resale of used, disc-based games on the Xbox One was a terrible idea. At some point, Microsoft even thought about making the console disc-free, for some pretty obvious reasons. Going disc-free would invite a number of cons, such as increased publisher control and requirement for fast Internet, but some are wondering whether it could be a good idea for companies to release digital-only versions of their consoles.

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With one less bulky moving part contributing to production costs (not to mention reliability issues/support costs), the disc-free versions of these consoles could probably sell for considerably less than their disc-bound counterparts (a decent PC Blu-Ray drive currently costs around $50 or more, for some context). Console makers might be willing to lower the hardware's selling price even further for the benefit of locking players into their online store, where sales don't go through a retail middleman (and where the royalty-free resale of used games, which some publishers compare to piracy, doesn't exist). The lower hardware-production costs could alternatively be folded into more built-in storage for the disc-free system, to store all of those big downloads.


Apple Upgrades Millions of iOS Devices to New, Modern File System

Apple is currently rolling out iOS 10.3, and its most significant feature is under the skin: the adoption of a new file system, APFS. Apparently, the file system that iOS has been using all this time was optimized only for floppy or hard disks. In my experience, iOS usually feels smooth and slick, so I find that pretty interesting. APFS should make the OS feel even quicker.

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Apple has been using its 31-year-old Hierarchical File System (HFS) for iOS devices so far. It was originally designed for Macs with floppy or hard disks, and not for modern mobile devices with solid state storage. Even its successor, HFS+, still doesn’t address the needs of these mobile devices enough. Apple’s new APFS is designed to scale across these new types of devices and take advantage of flash or SSD storage. It’s also engineered with encryption as a primary feature, and even supports features like snapshots so restoring files on a Mac or even an iOS device might get a lot easier in the future.


Samsung Unveils New Cinema Theater Screen with Support for HDR and 4K

I applaud Samsung for its attempt to modernize the cinema experience, but I just do not see many theaters upgrading to this tech. Cinemas have stuck with projection and fabric screens because that is the only practical solution; ordering traditional displays and the massive sheets of glass they require would be both a technical and financial challenge. While Samsung has managed to get a 34-foot screen into manufacturing, I am still afraid to see the cost. This would make for an insane monitor, though—I wonder if it has any of your typical input options.

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Specifically designed for the modern blockbuster experience, the new display tech easily accommodates modern theater dimensions, delivering magnificent picture quality at 4K resolution (4,096 x 2,160 pixels). In addition to this, the screen also exceeds the highly-esteemed DCI standards for reliability, technical performance and quality in digital cinema. Thanks to the direct-lit LED tech powering the display, Cinema Screen has the capacity to offer peak brightness levels nearly 10 times higher than standard cinema projectors.


Amazon Will Deliver Groceries to Your Car in 15 Minutes

I am kind of torn over this service: while grocery shopping sucks, I don’t like the idea of someone bringing stuff to my car and making me feel lazy and useless, either. Currently being tested in Seattle, these AmazonFresh locations will let Prime members order groceries via app and have them available in as little as 15 minutes for pickup. This is just one way that Amazon is infiltrating brick-and-mortar businesses—it’s going to be surreal driving past all of these branded pop-ups in the future.

Amazon on Tuesday showed off a quick video and landing page for its newest store concept: grocery pickup locations. The stores are still in beta, with only Amazon employees able to use them. The company didn't say when the two stores in Seattle will open to the public, but the locations will only be available for Prime members. Customers will be able to order online or on mobile from thousands of items, including produce, meats, dairy and everyday essentials. Amazon workers will select and bag orders for them, then bring them to customers' cars at reserved times. The company said orders can be picked up in as little as 15 minutes after an order is placed.


Tesla Model X Driver Blames Autopilot for Insane Collision with Semi-Truck

Is Tesla’s safety rating as good as advertised? Probably, since this guy’s Model X looks like it was driven into a grinder, but he still managed to walk away from the incident without serious injuries. It’s not all rainbows, though, as the driver also claims that Autopilot was what almost got him killed, having driven him "full speed" into a truck. Of course, AP is not meant to be an avoidance system…

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…you would think that it’s the aftermath of a fatal accident, but the Tesla Model X driver actually walked out of it with "no injuries aside from a stiff neck". He credited the vehicle’s safety for saving his life, but he also blamed the Autopilot for what he claims was "driving full speed into the back of a semi." It’s actually a little more complicated than that. "There was a pickup truck that was out of gas in the right lane (lights were either dim or off, and give the night, was hard to see). A semi was pulling up onto it, saw it, braked and swerved into my middle lane. Autopilot did not disengage, but did the emergency beep about 1 second before impact. I was looking off to the side, and impacted the truck immediately after I heard the beep and looked forward."


Futuremark Ends Support for 3DMark Vantage and PCMark Vantage

Futuremark is celebrating the death of Windows Vista on April 11 by killing off 3DMark Vantage and PCMark Vantage on that very same date. In with new, out with the old: both were designed for Microsoft's soon-to-be-terminated operating system.

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You might have read that Microsoft will stop supporting Windows Vista on April 11. We will stop supporting our two Windows Vista benchmarks, 3DMark Vantage and PCMark Vantage, on the same day. Our Vantage benchmarks were designed for Windows Vista, an operating system that is over 10 years old and which is now used by only 1.12% of Windows users according to StatCounter.


Lego City Undercover Causes Uproar for Requiring 13 GB Download

13 GB seems like small potatoes for the size of a game nowadays—unless, of course, your console only has 32 GB of system memory. Nintendo Switch owners are totally peeved about Lego City Undercover requiring an internet connection and a 13 GB install even though the game is on a cart. There is speculation that this may be a trend going forward, as it is a way for publishers to save on cartridge costs.

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…even physical versions of the Switch remaster require a hefty, internet-enabled data download. Although Lego City Undercover isn’t due at retail until April 4, some stores already have it in stock. One retail-working Reddit user whose store now has copies noticed that the game case indicates that an internet connection is required, even to play the cartridge. "Up to 13 GB storage required for game download" is the reason why, as the packaging notes. That’s a sizable portion of the Nintendo Switch’s hard drive space, which is capped at 32 GB.


Almost 800,000 US Drone Owners Have Registered to Fly in 15 Months

New data shows that the United States will soon see close to a million registered drones. Eligible fliers are actually mounting at an incredible rate, as 100,000 drones have been added to the FAA system in as little as three months. In what is supposed to be a shocking comparison, the article points out that the registration system for manned aircraft has been in effect for nearly 100 years but has only claimed 320,000 vehicles.

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The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration says that more than 770,000 drone owners have registered to fly in U.S. airspace. That’s up from the 670,000 figure FAA chief Michael Huerta shared during his talk at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas at the start of 2017. It also means that 100,000 drone owners have newly registered with the agency in less than three months. The FAA first opened its drone registration system just over 15 months ago, in December 2015. Only weeks after the registration system started operating, the FAA announced that more than 181,000 drone owners had registered in its database.


Razer's 2017 Blade Pro Boasts New CPU and THX Certifications

Razer has just announced an updated version of their Blade Pro laptop. Aside from the usual hardware improvements, the company’s latest is supposedly the first laptop to be THX certified—but does that even matter anymore? Last time I checked, it was just an expensive badge for AV makers to put on their equipment. THX was originally drafted by George Lucas to maintain standards for consistent video and audio, but companies like Dolby and DTS are at the forefront for establishing quality these days.

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THX's video certification process was used to calibrate and test the laptop's resolution, color accuracy and playback performance. The sound certification measured voltage output, frequency response, distortion, signal-to-noise ratio and crosstalk. That goes for both the built-in speakers themselves and the headphone output. The Blade Pro's video capability is already top notch thanks to its NVIDIA GTX 1080 video card and 4K screen but its speakers are, well, laptop speakers, and there's always room for improvement when it comes to laptop audio.


Spider-Man: Homecoming Trailer 2

Marvel has just released a new trailer for this summer’s Spider-Man flick. This one is supposed to be a big deal because it’s in Marvel’s court and not Sony’s, but I don’t see it topping Spider-Man 2. It looks like Peter has to forego Tony’s high-tech suit for a good part of the film.


Samsung Confirms the Note 7 Is Coming Back as a Refurbished Device

The Note 7 just refuses to die: Samsung has announced that the device will be re-sold in specific countries, probably with a smaller battery and possibly under a different name. I think there is some risk here of another incident, but the decision does make sense to some degree—aside from the battery, practically all of the other components that comprise the Note 7 are perfectly usable, so it would be a severe waste to just trash all 4.3 million recalled devices.

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…the company has released a statement regarding its plans to recycle Note 7 devices. The process comes in three parts: save salvageable components such as camera modules and semiconductors, extract metal parts with the help from "eco-friendly" third-party companies, and sell refurbished devices "where applicable." The announcement appears to walk back on what Samsung initially pledged last fall, when it said it would dispose of the Note 7 and had no plans to repair or refurbish them. Instead, Samsung has confirmed it will work with local authorities and carriers to sell it as a refurbished device, rumored to come with a smaller battery to prevent it from overheating and catching fire.


Microsoft's Spring Hardware Launch May Not Feature Surface Book 2 or Surface Pro 5

Microsoft’s next big hardware event may be a letdown for those of you who are waiting for the Surface Book sequel or fifth iteration of the Surface Pro, as Mary Foley’s sources suggest that neither may be unveiled at the Spring 2017 event. Those same sources indicate that MS will still show off some kind of mystery new hardware, though, so it may still be worth keeping an eye on the event. The company did surprise everyone last time with their Surface Studio.

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We're officially one week into "Spring" in this part of the world, and still no word on Microsoft's long-rumored Spring 2017 hardware launch. Since early 2016 or so, a number of us Microsoft watchers have been hearing and predicting that the company would roll out its next versions of its Surface Book PC (Surface Book 2) and Surface Pro tablet (Surface Pro 5) at a Spring 2017 event. Recently, however, I've heard from a couple of contacts that Surface Book 2 is not going to be announced here, as I mentioned during a recent episode of the Windows Weekly podcast. I'm not sure whether Surface Pro 5 will debut at the still-unannounced Spring hardware launch either.


PS4 Pro Finally Supports 4K Video Files

It’s a shame that the PS4 Pro will never be able to play 4K Blu-rays, but Sony is trying to soften that blow with a new update that will let gamers play back 4K mp4 files using the console’s Media Player app. The update will also add 4K VR support for the PS VR, although the videos will be downscaled to the display’s 1080p resolution.

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…the Media Player app is getting an update to support 4K video playback on PS4 Pro. Following this update, 4K videos in mp4 format saved on a USB stick or home server can be played on the Media Player app (remember, you’ll also need a 4K compatible TV to watch the videos in 4K). Your home server will appear as a media option in the Player automatically, so finding your media is simple and quick. Just a reminder: USB storage that’s already been formatted as extended storage for your PS4 can only be used to save games and apps — it can’t be used to save and play videos.


Monday March 27, 2017

Over 15,000 Fraudulent PayPal Certificates Issued to Phishing Sites

Let's Encrypt was launched publicly in December of 2015 under the premise that websites would be encrypted and served to the end user over Transport Layer Security (TLS). The thought was that TLS would protect user data from pilfering. Many Cyber Security experts expressed fear that these free certificates would be abused as the issuance processes are automated. These fears were realized when encryption pro Vincent Lynch confirmed that 96.7% of the 15,270 security certificates including the term "Paypal" were issued to illegal phishing sites.

"Assuming that current trends continue, Let’s Encrypt will issue 20,000 additional "PayPal" certificates by the end of this year."

Personally, I feel that web browsers should stop trusting HTTPS sites simply because they are HTTPS. Thorough validation and categorization are key.


Valve Adds Steam 360 Video Backbone to the Beta Client

Valve is readying the Steam Beta Client for Steam 360 Video. Valve has partnered with Pixvana, Akamai, and leading content providers on the Field of View Adaptive Streaming open projection format or FOVAS. This will allow for playback of 8K-10K resolution masters using only 1080p bandwidth. The current Adaptive Streaming format that Valve employs today contains the basic building blocks that FOVAS is based on. It is an open standard.

The way that it is explained is imagine breaking a video up into 30 viewports. The viewport that you are focusing on in the middle will have a 10K high bandwidth experience and look excellent. The others will be of a lower resolution that isn't up to HD standards. When you move your head, FOVAS will adapt to your new viewport by increasing the bandwidth of where you are focusing now. The surrounding viewports will be reduced to a lower quality. This new system is being implemented to give SteamVR users a much richer experience overall as the old system looks pixelated and dull.

Valve is expecting to add a "One button publish to Steam" functionality for content creators to publish their 360 videos onto Steam. The Steam Store and Library will be extended to identify and watch 360 videos. There will be an integrated player for Desktop and Virtual Reality headsets. There is a Pixvana SPIN Technology Preview now on Steam for SteamVR compatible headsets.

This new technology seems like it will give a much better experience for SteamVR first time impressions. Getting rid of the large pixels of stretched video and replacing it with a 10K quality viewport seems like a wise and sound move by Valve. There is a couple of hundred ms of switch time currently that Valve is working on correcting before the full roll out of the service. The probability of me purchasing one of the HTC Vive headsets is going up everyday.


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