[H]ard News

Thursday March 23, 2017

[H]ardware Round-Up

AMD Ryzen – Single-Rank Versus Dual-Rank DDR4 Memory Performance @ Legit Reviews

AMD Ryzen R7 1700 @ LanOC Reviews (HardOCP too!)

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ASUS ROG STRIX Z270G Gaming @ OCaHolic

ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming-ITX/ac Review @ Hardware Canucks

MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Aero ITX OC Review @ Guru3D

Mini PC Corsair ONE (French) @ CowCotLand

Noctua NH-L9x65 SE-AM4 CPU Cooler Review @ Funky Kit

Swiftech MCP655-PWM Pump @ Tech Power Up

Rosewill EX-500 & EX-700 Earbuds @ Tech Power Up


Fractal Design Defince C (German) @ Technic 3D

Cougar QBX Kaze Review @ OCaHolic

Antec Cube Certified By EKWB Mini-ITX Case Review @ NiKK Tech

Cooler Master MasterKeys Lite L Combo Keyboard and Mouse Review @ Play3r

Bloody B820R RGB Gaming Keyboard Review @ Benchmark Reviews

A Look At NVIDIA’s SHIELD (2017) @ Techgage

MSI GS43 7RE Phantom Pro Review @ Vortez

Studios Flirt with Offering Movies Early in Home for $30

Would you pay $30 so you can avoid the theater and stream a new movie in the comfort of your own home? Actually, that might not be such a bad idea, since you could invite a bunch of friends and have them pitch in toward the cost. Releasing a movie mere weeks after theatrical debut at slightly higher costs is just one idea that studios are toying with, who are being threatened by less and less people leaving the house for entertainment.

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Studios are looking for ways to shore up home entertainment revenues as DVD sales continue to slide. They also believe that their advertising can be more effective and cost efficient if a film’s home entertainment release is closer to its theatrical debut. By grouping those two things closer together, studios wouldn’t have have to launch a massive promotional campaign to reintroduce consumers to a movie months after it was on the big screen. Then there’s the issue of shifting consumer tastes. Younger consumers, used to streaming services such as Netflix, are accustomed to being able to access content whenever and on whichever device they would like — they’re not used to having to wait months to watch something.


Law Firm Claims Tesla Is Falsely Advertising What Autopilot Can Do

Did anyone actually buy a Tesla thinking it was going to be a fully autonomous car? The law firm that is behind the class action lawsuit against VW and Mercedes for emissions-cheating software thinks so, claiming that Autopilot 2 isn’t working as advertised. Sure, some aspects of AP2 are late, but I think these lawyers are confusing their own fantastic expectations with what Musk actually said.

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It’s not clear what the investigation is based on for them to determine that customers "thought" they were buying a self-driving car. The ordering page for the both the Model S and X has a warning written in bold font saying that the feature is "dependent on extensive software validation and regulatory approval." Tesla CEO Elon Musk warned when releasing the feature that he thought the first version would be ready around the end of the year for a demonstration, but he didn’t even say when he expected the regulatory approval to be ready, which Tesla also warns that it depends upon jurisdiction.


Nintendo Is Repairing Joy-Cons with a Piece of Foam

In what looks like the simplest repair job ever, the desynching issues plaguing left Joy-Cons are being fixed with a single piece of foam. Based on this band-aid, RF interference was at the heart of the issue, which is what the (conductive) foam blocks out. Nintendo has announced that it was a "manufacturing variation" and that future controllers should no longer have this problem.

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…it's likely a piece of conductive foam, which is foam that's been specially treated with nickel, copper or both so it can shield electronics from RF interference. (It's often used in portable electronics when there isn't space for a traditional shield.) Unless we're totally mistaken, this piece of foam is sitting directly on top of the Joy-Con's antenna traces, too, which suggests that it's protecting the antenna from interference. (Another possibility: the foam may be keeping the ribbon cables for the joystick and/or trigger button, which run through that space, from touching the antenna.) I even tried removing the foam, and sure enough: The controller stops working properly when it's not there. Seems like an open-and-shut case.


Senate Votes to Kill FCC's Broadband Privacy Rules

It looks like ISPs have been given the green light to sell your browsing history without permission. The Senate has voted to roll back the FCC’s five-month-old decision to require customer approval before sharing web-browsing history, geolocation, financial details, and other sensitive information with third parties. Some say that "Americans will become victims of massive ongoing surveillance from their ISPs."

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…critics of the rules say they are expensive to ISPs and subject them to tough privacy regulations not imposed on web-based companies like Google and Facebook. The FCC's sister agency, the Federal Trade Commission, can bring privacy complaints against web-based companies that aren't ISPs, but the FTC doesn't create privacy regulations, instead typically taking action on a case-by-case basis when companies violate their own privacy promises.


Apple Responds to Hacker’s Threat to Wipe Hundreds of Millions of iPhones

It was reported on Tuesday that a hacker group claimed access to as many as 559 million Apple email and iCloud login credentials, which they threatened to wipe unless Infinite Loop would pay them $75,000 in cryptocurrency or $100,000 worth of iTunes gift cards. My first thought was why they would do that when the Fappening 2 turned out so well, but luckily, Apple claims it is all total BS, although there are certainly many compromised logins out there and users should update their passwords regularly.

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Though Apple has not officially confirmed the authenticity of the data that the hackers say they have, an Apple spokesperson told Fortune in an emailed statement that, if the list is legitimate, it was not obtained through any hack of Apple. "There have not been any breaches in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud and Apple ID," the spokesperson said. "The alleged list of email addresses and passwords appears to have been obtained from previously compromised third-party services." A person familiar with the contents of the alleged data set said that many of the email accounts and passwords contained within it matched data leaked in a past breach at LinkedIn.


US Believes North Korea is Behind $81 Million Dollar Banking Theft

US Federal Prosecutors are gearing up for an inquiry into North Korea's involvement in last years $81 million dollar Bangladesh heist. If you're unfamiliar with the Bangladesh heist, let me tell you...It was insane.

Threat actors created a bit of malware that allowed them to interact directly with the SWIFT interbank messaging system. With the malware in place, cyber criminals were able to mark all transactions as valid, manipulate data, and delete fraudulent transactions. The bank of Bangladesh reported that it took nearly four days to stop unauthorized payments due to printer and software issues. Those issues were later attributed to malicious code targeted at those systems to keep them from tracking and reporting the transactions that were taking place. This was a very coordinated attack. Luckily, it contained typos.

Investigators began suspecting North Korea as the perpetrator after a very specific piece of code was discovered that was also used in the Sony Pictures breach.

Richard Ledgitt has this to say:

"If that linkage from Sony actors to the Bangladesh Bank actors is accurate, that means that Nation States are now robbing banks. That's a big deal."


Dell's Jaw-Dropping 8K Monitor Now Available to Order

Would you pay $5,000 for a monitor? I wouldn’t, especially one that isn’t OLED. But if you are totally nuts (or merely rich), you may want to consider Dell’s new 8K monitor. Measuring at about 32", the screen features a resolution of 7680x4320 at 280ppi. How do 4K flicks look upscaled to 8K, anyway?

Dell's exquisitely detailed UltraSharp 32 8K monitor is now up for grabs — if you just so happen to have a spare $5,000 lying around, that is. Now on sale direct from Dell, the (decidedly unsexy sounding) UP3218K may cost an arm and a leg (and another leg), but it promises an insane amount of detail and excellent color accuracy. The display itself is packed inside of a relatively staid exterior typical of Dell monitors. At 31.5 inches, the 7680x4320 resolution comes out to 280ppi. Aside from packing a crazy 33.2 million pixels into that space, Dell is touting the UP3218K color accuracy as one of its strong points.


Wells Fargo Introduces Cardless ATMs

No card? No problem. Wells Fargo is delving deeper into digital by letting customers withdraw money using just their smartphones. The way it works is that you will generate a code using their mobile banking app, which you would punch into the ATM alongside a "personal identification code" (I assume this is a new PIN you set up, but I’m not sure). Being that thieves will no longer have anything to skim, this move is also expected to reduce data theft.

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…the San Francisco-based bank decided to apply the smartphone technology to all of its 13,000 cash machines after piloting the idea in select locations across the country. Bank of America Corp and JPMorgan Chase & Co are among the big banks that have announced digital upgrades to their ATM infrastructure, but Wells Fargo is the first U.S. bank to roll out cardless machines across its entire network. The 20 million customers on Wells Fargo's mobile banking app will be able to request an eight-digit code to enter along with their personal identification code at an ATM to retrieve cash. "The new feature allows customers to withdraw cash at any time, even when they don't have their cards on them," Velline said.


"Dig Once" Bill Could Bring Fiber Internet to Much of the US

I can’t think of any obvious downsides to this proposition, so I wouldn't mind seeing this voted and passed. "Dig Once" would basically have construction workers add plastic pipes for housing fiber cables whenever they build or upgrade roads, sidewalks, etc. Needless to say, the point is to make it easier to spread speedy internet access.

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…construction workers would install conduits just about any time they build new roads and sidewalks or upgrade existing ones. These conduits are plastic pipes that can house fiber cables. The conduits might be empty when installed, but their presence makes it a lot cheaper and easier to install fiber later, after the road construction is finished. The idea is an old one. US Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) has been proposing dig once legislation since 2009, and it has widespread support from broadband-focused consumer advocacy groups. It has never made it all the way through Congress, but it has bipartisan backing from lawmakers who often disagree on the most controversial broadband policy questions, such as net neutrality and municipal broadband.


Corsair’s "Category-Defying" Gaming PC Is Here

While prebuilt systems are of lesser interest to many of us, here is Corsair’s first attempt at a gaming desktop. All I have to say is that their designers have been watching way too much Tron: Legacy. I’ll buy one if it comes with Olivia Wilde. (It is also reminiscent of the Logitech G line, with the neon blue.)

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The device was built with gamers and PC-upgrading enthusiasts in mind, but it's not meant to be taken apart. Although you can remove the tower's top, which is attached to the fan, Corsair says the One wasn't designed to be a "user serviceable system." A company spokesperson tells Engadget that the One's dis-assembly and re-assembly is "a lot more involved than a traditional CORSAIR DIY product -- that's why we sell it as a fully built system, and not a DIY kit." To that end, the company is also offering a two-year warranty, and will provide rapid-warranty replacement for faulty parts, as well as service centers for in-warranty upgrades.


Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Schematics Leak

The Galaxy S8 is not even out yet, but I guess it is already time to shift the hype from that to its bigger brother, the Note 8. All eyes will be on this one just to see if it will be another PR disaster, but genuine fans of the phablet phone may be pleased to know that the seventh iteration should house a Snapdragon 835/Exynos 9 chip and come with 6GB RAM. And as alluded by the schematic, the Note 8 will have a grand, nearly bezel-less display that should feature a 4K resolution—maybe as dense as 4428 x 2160 pixels.

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…we can see an S-Pen silo, a USB-C port and regular 3.5mm audio jack at the bottom, a SIM/microSD slot at the top, and a Bixby button on the left, underneath the volume buttons. At the front, we can see the face-scanning and selfie cameras, too. This is pretty much the Galaxy S8 setup, or what we know about it from all the leaked renders and videos, so it would be pretty exciting to learn in what chassis size has Samsung might have managed to shoehorn the eventual 6.4" 4K Infinity Display of the Note 8.


NASA Takes First Steps toward High-Speed Space "Internet"

In order to keep astronauts sane with high-quality Netflix and YouTube, NASA is testing speedy internet between the ISS and Earth with the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD). As you could probably assume, the space agency is going to use lasers for data transmission, and such tests will show them how to best go about it.

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Laser communications, also known as optical communications, encodes data onto a beam of light, which is then transmitted between spacecraft and eventually to Earth terminals. This technology offers data rates that are 10 to 100 times better than current radio-frequency (RF) communications systems. Just as important, laser communication systems can be much smaller than radio systems, allowing the spacecraft communication systems to have lower size, weight and power requirements. Such capability will become critically important as humans embark on long journeys to the moon, Mars and beyond.


Leaked Destiny 2 Poster Reveals September Release Date

Based on much of the commentary I have seen so far, the real news for me is how many people hate Destiny. Those of you who have played it can tell me why it sucks so badly, but that isn’t going to stop me from checking out the sequel, which is supposedly coming out on PC. At least the soundtrack will be good, right? (Wait, I forgot that they fired Marty.)

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A leaked Destiny 2 poster has revealed an 8th September 2017 release date for the game. Images of the poster emerged on Italian website Lega Network today apparently sourced from GameStop Italy. There's another image of the poster on Imgur. Sources have indicated to Eurogamer the poster is indeed legitimate. The poster also indicates that PS4 will get beta access before other platforms. We've heard this beta is set for June.


OneDrive "Runs like a Dog" on Windows OS Rivals

Microsoft is being accused of perverting their OneDrive web app so it performs far more slowly on Linux, ChromeOS, and other Windows rivals. The supposed evidence is that users see an increase of performance once they change their browser’s user-agent string to IE or Edge. Uh, I think that just means OneDrive’s code for Firefox, Chrome, and other non-MS browsers is terrible—although that in itself is worthy of complaint, I guess.

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Plenty of Linux users are up in arms about the performance of the OneDrive web app. They say that when accessing Microsoft's cloudy storage system in a browser on a non-Windows system – such as on Linux or ChromeOS – the service grinds to a barely usable crawl. But when they use a Windows machine on the same internet connection, speedy access resumes. Crucially, when they change their browser's user-agent string – a snippet of text the browser sends to websites describing itself – to Internet Explorer or Edge, magically their OneDrive access speeds up to normal on their non-Windows PCs.


Apple Reimagines the iPhone as a MacBook Touchpad

The fruit company’s latest idea is to turn an iPhone or iPad into a touchscreen MacBook. In one example, the former would be docked into a special laptop and act as the processor, graphics card, memory, and storage for the entire device. The handset would also function as the trackpad. I’ll just steal from the comments and suggest that Apple build a laptop with a touchscreen.

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As published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, Apple's application for an "Electronic accessory device" describes the company's take on an oft-attempted, but never fully realized idea. Specifically, the IP covers a "thin" accessory, a kind of "headless" device that contains traditional laptop hardware like a large display, physical keyboard, GPU, ports and more, but is incapable of functioning without a host. In this case, an iPhone or iPad would slot into the laptop-esque piece of kit to fill the role of CPU.


Vudu's Mobile App Rips Digital Copies of Your Blu-Rays

If you are too stupid to rip your own movies, Walmart has the perfect solution for you. Their Vudu movie app now lets you digitize many DVDs or Blu-rays just by scanning the disc and paying a small fee. The article claims that this service "makes sense" because most people don’t have disc drives anymore.

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Walmart's Vudu streaming arm has unveiled the "first mobile offering" to convert nearly 8,000 movies on DVD and Blu-ray to digital HD files, it says. It's an expansion of the company's existing desktop conversion service, but lets you convert your physical library using the mobile Vudu app instead. As before, the price to convert files you already own is $2 for either a Blu-ray disc to HDX or a DVD to SD, or $5 to up-res a DVD to HDX (hint: your TV might do the latter already). To use it, you just scan your disc using the Vudu app, then download the digital file to your TV, console, set-top box, phone, tablet or, (ironically) Blu-ray player.


Wednesday March 22, 2017

Facebook Now Lets You Broadcast Live Video From a PC

In a move that some say is intended to take on Twitch, Facebook is now allowing live video streams from computers. Previously this feature was limited to mobile users. While this feature has been available to Pages for a while, now it has been opened up to all user accounts.

Great, just great. Now I'll have even more live video streams to annoy me in my Facebook feed. To me it takes a special level of exaggerated sense of self to think people actually want to sit on Facebook and watch you play a video game, but I'm just an old grumpy guy I guess.

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Users will be able to simply broadcast straight from a built-in webcam. More advanced streamers can use external camera hardware or streaming software to make high-quality broadcasts with multiple cameras, on-screen graphics, and title cards.

By opening up computer-based streaming to everyone, it’s clear that Facebook is hoping to take live videos more seriously by making it possible for all its users to create more professional and robust broadcasts.


Encrypted Media Extensions DRM Proposed to Become New Web Standard

Here is one that is certain to become controversial. W3C, the World Wide Web Consortium has formally put forward the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) as a proposed standard. The standard aims to help protect copyrighted streaming media content online, and by becoming a web standard, can likely achieve much broader adoption than current DRM techniques that don't work on all systems or devices. On the other hand critics are sure to point out the risk of further harming fair use, and limiting the playback capabilities on less common platforms, especially since an annual fee of $2,250 for smaller organizations, and $77,000 for larger corporations is proposed for those wanting to utilize the standard.

$77,000 per year is nothing for the Googles and the Apples of the world, for a little open source media center project which relies on volunteer programmers, $2,250 per year could be completely over the top prohibitive.

Member organizations will have until April 19th to register their opinions on the proposal. The W3C has received three formal objections to date:

  • It does not provide adequate protection for users

  • It will be hard to include in free software

  • It doesn't legally protect security researchers

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It has been a long and winding road getting to the point where the W3C has formally proposed a standard that allows controls to be placed on content – something that many internet engineers remain philosophically opposed to. But despite the lengthy efforts to address a plethora of concerns, the formal notice still goes out of its way to note that "publication as a Proposed Recommendation does not imply endorsement by the W3C membership."


Smart Doorbell Bug Causes Massive Privacy Freakout

Earlier in the month, a Reddit user noticed some odd traffic from his Ring branded smart doorbell and intercom going to a server related to Baidu in China. When this story was picked up by IoT For All, and reported as a huge vulnerability, it understandably set off quite a bit of concern among Ring's users. Ring did an admirable job of addressing this problem. As it turns out a bug in the software was at random intervals sending tiny millisecond long snippets of audio to a Chinese server. Fixes were issued, and a third party security audit firm confirmed that it appeared to be a bug, it had been fixed, and that the millisecond snippets of audio were too small to actually be able to be used for any malicious intent. It does however highlight whether or not users have had it with IoT devices.

Is there a backlash against IoT and the cloud brewing? Personally I take the old school enterprise approach. I don't mind having "smart" devices on my network, but I don't want them communicating with the public network or any cloud. I don't mind running a home server with software to manage these devices myself, and if I want to access it from outside my home, opening my own port and forwarding it on my router, but I absolutely don't want any cloud based device in my home. I think it would be great if people stopped being lackadaisical when it comes to entrusting their data to cloud providers, but I don't believe that is going to happen anytime soon. Convenience is king, and ignorance is bliss.

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Ring denies the charge that it uses any off-the-shelf systems from China, which usually indicates a lower-quality device. "We take extensive measures to build quality products that are secure," Ring CTO Roth said in his statement first posted on Reddit. Ring didn't respond to further questions about why the traffic to China was happening in the first place beyond that it was only a bug. Wikholm suspects it might have been some leftover test code from a Chinese chip vendor.

"There’s a stigma of anything going to China is bad," Wikholm said. "But a lot of this stuff is made and maintained in China."


GOG Galaxy Client Receives Cloud Saves and More

GOG's Galaxy client has received a feature that every digital game hoarder has dreamed for; cloud saves! Not just cloud saves for a few titles in their catalog; every title gets them! No more reinstalling Windows after a crash or hardware upgrade and losing all of your progress in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. Installation of the client isn't even necessary to download the cloud saves! This is coming with Update 1.2 which is a part of the beta client. There are a ton of more features being added to the client such as the ability to customize and disable unnecessary functions, hibernation mode that lowers CPU usage, new chat protocol, in game overlay with a fps counter, and more. Grab the client here and check out the rest of the new features.

Personally I love classic DRM free gaming, but I'm always finding new ways to lose my game saves. This update should do the trick as far as maintaining progress in those games.

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Another major feature going live with 1.2 brings users the ability to customise Galaxy’s own features to their liking, turning what they want off and on as needed. GOG says this prevents bloating the client for those who don’t require advanced features.

Behind-the-scenes improvements include a hibernate mode that drops CPU usage when playing a game and a decrease in battery life usage when the client is idling. Other additions include a bandwidth limiter, fps counter, screenshot capturing, achievement rarity, in-game overlay, download scheduling and more.


Even Tech Savvy Organizations can Fall for Phishing Schemes

The Department of Justice yesterday unsealed an indictment against a Lithuanian man who successfully swindled $100 million out of two American tech companies. (Here, have the verge link too, because reading bureaucrat can be tiring.) The 48 year old Latvian man reportedly opened a business in eastern Europe with the same name as a major PC hardware vendor in China, and then proceeded to, through deceptive emails, convince two major multinational U.S. tech firms to make payments to his account totaling $100 million. Why he didn't immediately buy bearer bonds and and take off for a non-extradition treaty country is beyond me. I guess he wasn't a master mind after all.

What stands out to me is that I often hear people express sentiments ridiculing scam victims, and stating how this wouldn't happen to them, they are either too smart or too experienced to fall for these tricks, or to click on bad links in emails, or open attachments etc. etc. and because of this they don't need to take standard precautions like always running their machine in a limited user account, keeping UAC enabled, running AV, etc.

If this story illustrates anything, to me it seems that is that anyone can fall for these things. Maybe not in their most alert and vigilant state, but all it takes is being in a rush one day, or being tired after a night of poor sleep or just having an off moment and making a mistake, one that you should know better than to make. I feel the take-away should be, if sophisticated major tech companies can fall for a phishing scheme, so can you, so buckle up, and take every layer of security, no matter who you are.

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What’s more important is that representatives at both companies with the power to wire vast sums of money were still tricked by fraudulent email accounts. Rimasauskas even went so far as to create fake contracts on forged company letterhead, fake bank invoices, and various other official-looking documents to convince employees of the two companies to send him money.

Rimasauskas has been charged with one count of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, and aggravated identity theft. In other words, he faces serious prison time of convicted — each charge of wire fraud and laundering carries a max sentence of 20 years.


U.S. Supreme Court Considers Foreign Patent Rights Case

Impression Products v. Lexmark International is a case that is being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court as it has far reaching implications in regards to foreign patent rights. Lexmark International sells printers and ink cartridges domestically and internationally. The ones that are sold internationally have a label on them that says they are restricted to a single use. Impression Products bought a large supply of the empty cartridges from a reseller and refilled them. They then began importing them back into the U.S.A. which did not go over well with Lexmark.

Lexmark has successfully argued in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that this violates current patent law. The purpose of the patent law as currently written is to allow companies to sell products in various locales around the globe for different prices. This allows software for example to be purchased by poorer countries at a reduced price while maintaining higher prices in more affluent countries to maximize revenue.

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The U.S.Government isn't agreeing though. Patent exhaustion prevents the patent owners from having control over products after the first authorized sale. Conditions can be attached to the initial sale such as who can buy it and even dictate the use of the product, but then the patent rights are exhausted. Also items such as books can be resold by libraries due to patent and copyright laws that date back hundreds of years. The U.S. government considers this to be a monopolistic situation.

Interesting case as the ruling will set a precedent that will undoubtedly be used for software, medications, chips, etc in the future. How do you feel about the case? Should Lexmark be allowed to monopolize the market by restricting the use of their used printer cartridges? If I buy a pack of refilled cartridges from an international seller am I going to be in trouble with the law? Lots of change could come from this case if the Supreme Court takes it on.

Justice Stephen Breyer, the court's patent expert, said "any monopolist, including a patent monopolist, would love to be able to go to each buyer separately and extract from each buyer and user the maximum amount he would pay for that particular item."

"Dentists would pay more for gold perhaps than someone who wants to use gold for some other thing. Okay? They'd like that. But by and large, that's forbidden under many laws, even though it does mean slightly restricted output, and it also means a lower profit for the monopolist," Breyer said. "This precedent is very hard for you to get around."


VR & AR Headset Market Expected to Grow 58% Annually, Reaching 99.4 Million Units

Businesswire is reporting on an IDG market report, suggesting that the virtual reality and augmented reality headset market will grow an average of 58% year over year reaching 99.4 million units by 2021.

2021 may sound like "the future" portrayed in some dark, post-apocalyptic sci-fi game (hello Deus Ex) but it's only 4 years off. I feel fairly certain I will be contributing to this 58% year over year growth with my own wallet in that time span.

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"2016 marked an important step for the AR and VR headset market with product finally arriving in end users' hands and on their heads," noted Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC's Augmented and Virtual Reality team. "While there was clear demand coming primarily from technology enthusiasts, what became readily apparent were the use cases for enterprise users across multiple verticals and for consumers with gaming and content consumption. This sets the stage for the multiple aspects of the market that device makers, platforms and content providers, and developers will be addressing in the months and years to come."


Fallout 4 VR Confirmed for E3 2017

At E3 in 2016 Bethesda promised a Fallout 4 VR launch in 2017. Now we know that it will be coming at E3 this year. Reportedly it is "the most incredible thing you've seen in your life." Hyperbole aside, it does sound like it could be pretty awesome. Support from big AAA tiles I'm actually interested in has been one of the things I personally have been waiting for in order to take the dive into VR. That, and higher resolution headsets without a screen door effect. Whether or not they stick with teleportation movement, or something else will be interesting to see as well.

Still, with some 170 hours already invested in Fallout 4 at this point, and having finished all the main story lines, I'm not convinced that the addition of VR would be enough to suck me back in. It would have been nice if the VR and standard editions had launched simultaneously. I think getting to that point will be an important milestone for mass VR adoption. As awesome as the VR versions of these games may be, I suspect most fans of a franchise won't be willing to wait more than a year and a half after initial launch to play the latest installment of a series, and once they have already played it, are much less likely to go back once a VR version is available and play it again.

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While Hines doesn't say whether or not Fallout 4 VR will be playable at the conference, I'd wager something will be given the fact Howard has previously suggested it can be played "from start to finish right now", even if there's still work to be done. In an interview last year, Howard said movement was, at that stage, governed by teleportation, but that he and his team were "experimenting with a few other techniques."


Twitter Software Helps Find, Ban Users Advocating Violence

With U.S. and European governments pressuring social media giants to take a more active approach to taking down illegal, harassing and violent content, Twitter has announced a new software based approach. In a report aimed at shining light on the process of how accounts are taken down, they noted that they suspended some 377,000 accounts during the final six months of 2016, 74% of which were identified through internal automated software. By contrast, last year Twitter reported only about 1/3 of accounts taken down were identified through automated software.

It's not all positive news though. Twitter also noted that in the last six months of 2016 they had received 88 court orders and other legal requests to take down accounts of legitimate registered journalists and news outlets, 77 of which were from Turkey. Twitter did not take action in the "great majority" of these requests, outside of Turkey and Germany. Twitter filed legal objections whenever possibly, but in Turkey, none of these objections prevailed.

All of this comes at the same time as Google has been struggling with unfortunate placement of sponsor content on extremist sites and videos. Twitters attempts highlight that it is possible to find a majority of this content through algorithmic means, but "a majority" may not be enough, when it only takes one instance to thoroughly piss off your sponsors, which begs the question: When you have a global user base larger than can be effectively moderated by any size of workforce, and algorithmic methods are imperfect, as they will always be, how do you solve the problem?

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In Turkey, Twitter said it withheld 15 tweets and 14 accounts in response to court orders. Examples included gory images after militant attacks, the company said.

In Germany, Twitter said it took down one Tweet posted by a soccer magazine "for violating an individual's personal rights in response to a court order."

Twitter said it was providing copies of the underlying court orders to Lumen, a research project affiliated with Harvard University that collects and studies cease and desist letters and other court orders about online content.


Amazon Expands Counterfeit Removal Program

Amazon has expanded it's counterfeit removal program by enlisting the help of third party companies that sell products on Amazon. Starting in April, any third party brand that registers their logo and intellectual property with Amazon will become empowered to flag counterfeit products for immediate removal from the e-commerce website. The brand registry is completely free of cost and has been in a testing phase for awhile. Amazon benefits from the relationship with a commission on third party sales while also selling fulfillment and advertising services to third parties.

Third party sellers have reaped the benefits of selling on Amazon. At least 100,000 third party sellers have generated $100,000 in sales on the platform. I hope this gets rid of some of the fake accounts that spring up when a new product comes out. They pretend to sell the same item as Amazon and the legitimate third party sellers for 25% less. It's a scam that needs some form of moderation on Amazon's part also.

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Shoppers, brands or Amazon itself can flag counterfeit goods via the brand registry, which the company developed in 2016. Amazon is also offering brands a program called "Transparency," which lets them label packages with a code so shoppers can cross-check their purchase against official information. Faricy said efforts against counterfeit products are at an early stage. "I don’t think it’s the kind of thing where you ever feel like there’s a clear ending," he said. "It’s a journey."


[H]ardware Round-Up

GIGABYTE AORUS GA-AX370-Gaming 5 Review @ Vortez

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Ryzen Vs Intel GTX 1080 Ti Showdown @ eTeknix

Supermicro C7Z270-CG Motherboard Review @ OCaHolic

Glyph 2TB AtomRAID Portable SSD Review @ SSD Review

7+ AMD Ryzen tips and tricks @ AMD Wallpapers

Silverstone ES02-USB 2.4GHz Wireless PC Remote Control Kit Review @ Modders Inc.

be quiet! Pure Base 600 Review @ OCaHolic

Das Keyboard 4 Professional @ Tech Power Up

Cougar Megara In-ear Gaming Headset Review @ Play3r

GAMDIAS Hermes RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review @ TechARP

SteelSeries Arctis 7 Wireless Gaming Headset Review @ Legit Reviews

OPSEAT Master Series Gaming Chair @ LanOC Reviews

Silverstone SST-SF02 Noise Absorbing Foam Review @ Modders Inc.

Test alimentation Enermax Revolution DUO 500 watts (French) @ CowCotLand


I was going to post this video yesterday, but I had to consult our attorneys first in order to make sure we were not indicted for assault with a deadly weapon. That said, Corsair has jumped on the RGB bandwagon with its VENGEANCE RAM, and it looks to have done a good job with it as well. An interesting aside, since all this RGB business has broken out on enthusiast computer hardware platforms, I have now been instructed by the boss of the house to keep my office doors shut at night.

CORSAIR®, a world leader in enthusiast memory, high-performance gaming hardware and PC components, today announced the immediate availability of CORSAIR VENGEANCE RGB DDR4 memory. VENGEANCE RGB brings vibrant RGB lighting to the DIMM slot, with high luminosity RGB LEDs integrated into every module, all controlled by CORSAIR LINK. CORSAIR VENGEANCE RGB's wire-free integration enables software RGB lighting control without additional wires (patent pending) for a sharp, clean look and providing an instant visual upgrade to any system build.


Vulkan Multi-GPU Support - Not Just for Windows 10

The Vulkan Working Group in Khronos has confirmed that Windows 10 is not required for Multi-GPU support. They admit that the wording contained in the original statement was easily misinterpreted. Khronos states that WDDM is just one of the options that they were releasing as a package of extensions for the development community to try and give feedback on for possible future incorporation into the final Vulkan standard. What they expect the development community to embrace is LDA mode as it is available on Win 7, Win 8 and Win 10. In other words, Khronos is giving developers as many tools as possible to make a decision on what works best for them.

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The good news is that the Vulkan multi-GPU specification is very definitely NOT tied to Windows 10. It is possible to implement the Vulkan multi-GPU extension on any desktop OS including Windows 7, 8.X and 10 and Linux.

Some of the Khronos GDC presentations mentioned that for Vulkan multi-GPU functionality, Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) must be in Linked Display Adapter (LDA) mode. That was not a very clear statement that has caused some confusion. And so it is worth clarifying that:

  1. The use of WDDM is referring to the use of Vulkan multi-GPU functionality on Windows. On other OS, WDDM is not necessary to implement the Vulkan multi-GPU extension.

  2. On Windows, the use of LDA mode can make implementing Vulkan multi-GPU functionality easier, and will probably be used by most implementations, but it is not strictly necessary.

  3. If an implementation on Windows does decide to use LDA mode, it is NOT tied to Windows 10. LDA mode has been available on many versions of Windows, including Windows 7 and 8.X.

    Khronos always strives to make its specifications as cross platform as possible. Of course, what products ship on which OS is up to the implementers of each specification, but Khronos is already aware of vendor plans to ship multi-GPU functionality on platforms other than Windows 10, including Linux.


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