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Saturday July 30, 2016

Android 7.0 Nougat Tipped For August Release

Is Nougat landing next month? @evleaks and testing build leaks would suggest so. With the new Nexus phones coming in the fall, this would also be a sensible timeframe for the latest (and hopefully greatest) Android to drop.

…there are further signs of an impending stable release, as one Nexus 6P owner on Reddit appears to have inadvertently received an over-the-air update to an internal Google testing build. Poster Brian Moyano received the 49MB OTA when attempting to revert back to the Marshmallow from the Nougat developer preview; instead of going back to Android 6.0.1, it pushed him to 7.0, build NRD90M. The "R" in that build number means it's on the "release" branch (as opposed to P for preview), suggesting it's almost ready for prime time.

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Bluetooth Headphones Overtake Traditional Headphones In Sales

Wireless headphones are apparently more popular than ever. Cheaper options and new technologies (e.g., Bluetooth low energy) are just some of the reasons that consumers are shifting to BT headphones, which are now outselling wired options, with Apple’s Beats leading the pack.

Bluetooth headphone purchases are on the rise, according to new data shared by NPD Group. In June, Bluetooth headphone revenue overtook non-Bluetooth for the first time, accounting for 54 percent of headphone dollar sales and 17 percent of unit sales in the United States. The overall headphone category saw seven percent year-over-year growth in pure dollar sales during the first half of 2016, but Bluetooth headphones saw double-digit growth during the same time period. A solid cost decrease helped spur Bluetooth headphone sales, with average selling prices down 5 percent. Nearly 30 percent of Bluetooth headphones sold during 1H 2016 were less than or equal to $50.

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USB-C Failing To Impress Notebook PC Vendors

If you’re in the market for a new notebook with USB-C ports, you may have to look harder. Most vendors aren’t in a rush to adopt the new design, which is easier to connect and delivers more power. The primary reason, of course, is that vendors would have to spend more money to implement it.

…USB Type-C interface has two issues that have been stopping it to become a mainstream technology in the notebook market. First is that the interface features electric current that is larger than one of the previous-generation interfaces, and could lead to interference and heat dissipation problems when adopting too many at once. Second is that the USB Type-C features a high-speed transmission, but in order to achieve its maximum speed, it requires an amplifier chip, a receiver chip and a special-spec transmission wire, which significantly raise product costs.

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Samsung PM1633a SSD Now Available: $10K For 15TB, $6K For 7TB

One of the world’s most expensive commercial solid-state drives is now available for purchase. According to Samsung, the PM1633a has a sequential read performance up to 1200 MB/s and sequential write performance up to 900 MB/s using the SAS-12Gbps interface.

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Back in March, Samsung only began to ship its PM1633a to select clients. We suspect that these clients are those that run large cloud data centers, and require such drives to run their specific workloads. Now,the manufacturer has started to ship its flagship SAS SSD to a broader range of customers. For example, the Samsung PM1633a 15.36 TB drive (MZILS15THMLS) is now offered by CDW for $10,311.99 as well as by SHI for $9,690 on preorder. Both retailers ask to contact them for actual availability, depending on when stock is available (which is not surprising, given the price of the SSD as well as its very special positioning). In addition, CDW also offers the PM1633a 7.68 TB (MZILS7T6HMLS) drive for $5,729.99, which ships within 11–13 days.

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Microsoft Removes Group Policies From Windows 10 Pro

After next week’s Anniversary Update, group policies will no longer be consistent between professional versions of W10. What this basically means is that Pro users now have less options than Enterprise or Education users. You are, for instance, out of luck if you wish to disable all Windows Store apps but are running W10 Pro.

The big one is the Turn off Microsoft consumer experiences policy. We have talked about the feature previously. It powers among other things the installation of third-party apps and extra links on Windows 10. So, if you did not want Candy Crush to be pushed to your operating system, you'd disable the policy to block that from happening. The change prevents Windows 10 Pro users from enabling the policy to block third-party application installations or links.

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Friday July 29, 2016

[H]ard|OCP Week in Reviews

Today is Friday and you know what that means! It is time once again for the [H]ard|OCP Week in Reviews! For anyone that might have missed them, we like to take a quick look back on the hardware evaluations and articles we posted earlier in the week. We kicked the week off with our evaluation of the Enermax Revolution X't II 750W Power Supply, followed by our review of the MSI X99A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM LGA2011-v3 motherboard.

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DOOM Update #2, Unto the Evil, PartyPlay, & Double XP Weekend

Ahead of the August 5th launch of DOOM's first DLC, Bethesda has released Update #2 for DOOM that, in addition to fixes and optimizations, features two new multiplayer modes, Sector and Exodus. For those of you interested, DOOM Update #2 release notes can be found here.

The free update kicks off with two new multiplayer modes, Sector and Exodus. Sector is a capture and hold mode while Exodus brings capture the flag to DOOM. We're also adding Hell modules and environments to DOOM SnapMap, plus new objects like Launch Pads, and last but not least, the campaign weapon wheel comes to SnapMap! And of course, the update will include tons of optimizations and improvements. Look for full release notes when the patch goes live tomorrow. Unto the Evil, DOOM's first DLC, launches August 5! We're thrilled to announce that our first premium multiplayer DLC will launch on August 5.

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Four-Year Investigation Into 38 Studios Results in No Criminal Charges

Not only are the taxpayers on the hook for the $75 million loan to 38 Studios that was never repaid, they also paid for a four year investigation into the incident that resulted in no charges against anyone. frown

"It is our collective duty and responsibility to uncover the facts and let the facts take us where they will take us," he said. "In order to prosecute any individual for a violation of any Rhode Island criminal statute, we have to establish probable cause that laws were broken. In this particular matter … we have found no probable cause to establish that a crime was committed. It is the investigative opinion of the Rhode Island State Police and the Department of the Attorney General that a bad deal does not always equate to an indictment."

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[H]ardware Round-Up II

Cases: Case Mod Friday @ ThinkComputers

Storage: Corsair Neutron XTi @ SSD Review

Crucial MX300 750GB SSD @ Big Bruin

Seagate BarraCuda Pro 10TB @ Legit Reviews

Synology DiskStation DS916+ 4-Bay NAS @ eTeknix

Video: PowerColor Radeon RX 480 RED DEVIL @ Guru3D

Does eSports Need Regulation?

The question of the day is "does esports need regulation?" I think that it does need some form of regulation if it ever wants to be taken seriously. Your thoughts?

Triple-A publishers are investing heavily in the space. And the prize pools are growing in size, with players competing for massive piles of cash. As these sums grow, so does the pressure and desire to win. To this end, we’ve seen reports of players using drugs such as ADHD medication Ritalin to aid focus, or utilizing software to hamper their opponents. Thus the question of whether pro-gaming requires regulation has arisen.

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BioWare Shutting Down Its Forums

There is an announcement in the Bioware forums today that says, come the 26th of next month, the majority of the company's forums will be closed. You will still be able to read them until the 25th of October but the servers will be taken offline after that. The forums for Dragon Age and Mass Effect are among the forums being shuttered. frown

So it is with a heavy heart that we will close our public forums on August 26, 2016. We will maintain some private boards, and may use these in future for beta feedback or other special projects. Because we know there is a lot of information on there you may want to keep, the public boards will remain in a read-only state until October 25, 2016. After that date, they will be taken down.

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Getting Caught Using A VPN In The UAE Will Cost You Over $500,000

I know that a $545,000 fine for using a VPN sounds bad at first but when you consider that, in United Arab Emirates, you can still get stoned to death for adultery. All of the sudden $500k doesn't seem so harsh.

Last week, UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued a new set of federal laws which include one forbidding UAE citizens from using VPNs to mask their digital footprints. As reported by International Business Times, anyone caught using a VPN or proxy server could end up cooling their heels in jail and will face a fine of between $136,000 - $545,000.

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[H]appy System Administrator Appreciation Day!

Today is the 17th annual System Administrator Appreciation Day! If you have a sys admin, buy him / her a beer, give them a pat on the back, a much needed hug, a kick in the ass, or all of the above to let them know you appreciate them. big grin

Let's face it, System Administrators get no respect 364 days a year. This is the day that all fellow System Administrators across the globe, will be showered with expensive sports cars and large piles of cash in appreciation of their diligent work. But seriously, we are asking for a nice token gift and some public acknowledgement. It's the least you could do.

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Sony Sued For Not Protecting Leaked Movie From Pirates

Sony is being sued for failing to meet contractual obligations which required the company to protect a movie (one of many) from being pirated. This all stems from the infamous Sony hack at the end of 2014.

In 2014, Sony was subjected to a massive cyberattack which resulted in the leak of huge quantities of data. The trove contained several movies, all of which appeared online for anyone to download for free. Now the owner of one of the titles is suing Sony, claiming that company failed in its obligation to protect the movie from Internet pirates.

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Raspberry Pi NES Classic Console Nintendo Should Have Made

When Nintendo announced its $60 retro gaming console earlier this month, more than a few of you expressed your displeasure over the fact that it wasn't [H] enough. Well, I think the console this guy built is the solution. big grin

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Gaming [H]eadlines

DOOM OS X & Linux Port Plans? @ Blue's News

Doom: The Board Game Coming @ Shacknews

New Pokemon Sun & Moon Screenshots @ VG24/7

Watch The $50,000 Magic: The Gathering Tournament @ GameSpot

Steam VR Weekend Sale

Steam's VR Weekend Sale is offering up to 80% off of a total of 175 VR games. If yu are interested, you'd better not wait too long, you only have until Monday, August 1st and 10AM PDT to get in on the deals.

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Verizon Offers 'Tech Support Pro' For $10 More a Month

Attention Verizon customers! You can now get "Tech Support Pro" for only $10 a month! Don't want to cough up an extra $120 a year for good tech support? No problem, you can just stick with the crappy overseas customer service that is open between 9a - 5p, and has agonizing one hour hold times for FREE!

Verizon this week unveiled a new premium tech support option that will cover every connected device in the home -- for an additional $10 per month. According to the company's announcement, "Tech Support Pro" is now being offered to both DSL and FiOS customers, giving Verizon customers a 24/7 customer support line providing help on everything from your laptop to your smart refrigerator. The service costs $15 per month if you bundle it with the FiOS Quantum Router (which alone costs $10/month to rent).

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[H]ardware Round-Up

Cooling: Corsair Pro LED Fans @ FunkyKit

Thermaltake Water 3.0 Riing RGB 240 @ eTeknix

ETC.: Hyper X Cloud Revolver Gaming Headset @ Techgage

Gaming: Fallout 4 Far Harbour @ Real Hardware Reviews

Video: GeForce GTX 1060, 1070 und 1080 @ HT4U

Sapphire Nitro Radeon RX 480 4GB @ Legit Reviews

Today Is The Last Day For The Free Windows 10 Upgrade

I don't know why I am posting this "reminder" that today is the last day to get Windows 10 for free. If you are a Windows user you've been nagged to death already by Microsoft. With that said, I feel it is my civic duty to at least remind you that you have until 5:59 AM EDT and 2:59 AM PDT on July 30th to have your installations complete. Although I have Windows 10 installed on a few computers here, I'll just be glad when the nagging finally stops on the PCs here that aren't running Windows 10.

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Study: Uber Has Yet to Reduce Drunk Driving Deaths

I know that Uber likes to talk about the supposed benefits of using its service, one of which is that it could lower drunk driving deaths but, according to a new study, Uber has had no impact on DUI related deaths at all (good or bad). Honestly, I'm not sure why they would try to make that claim in the first place. Regular taxi cabs have been around forever and they haven't lowered the rate of drunk driving deaths either.

Uber has tried to position itself as everyone’s favorite designated driver—like a superhero that fights drunk driving. But a new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology says that ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft have had no impact on the country’s overall rate of drunk driving fatalities, which claim around 10,000 lives a year, since they started in 2009. The researchers say it's partly because drunk people aren’t willing to pay for the cost of a ride.

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Robot Stacks 1,000 Bricks An Hour

I don't know why you need a robot that can build a house in two days. The robots of the future will just murder us and take our homes so there's no real need for a murderbot that can stack bricks and build houses.

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A new automated, truck-mounted robot can build a house in two days, moving four times faster than human construction workers. Hadrian X by the Australian company Fastbrick Robotics Limited can reportedly lay as many as 1,000 bricks per hour and, because robots don’t need lunch breaks, Hadrian X can work around the clock. The company’s impressive prototype demonstrated its abilities on a small-scale build inside a warehouse, which you can see in a time-lapse video after the jump.

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Creepy Patent of the Day

This strange patent is brought to you by the folks at Disney. Not only is the patent creepy, it looks stupid. Tracking that many people by the shoes they are wearing?

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Microsoft To Cut 2,850 More Jobs

Microsoft announced today that it will be cutting another 2,850 jobs over the next year. Counting the 1850 job cuts announced earlier this year, this brings the grand total of planned cuts to 4,700. Thanks to cageymaru for the heads up.

Microsoft Corp said it would cut about 2,850 more jobs over the next 12 months, taking its total planned job cuts to up to 4,700, or about 4 percent of its workforce. The company said in May it would cut 1,850 jobs in its smartphone business, most of them in Finland. Microsoft bought Finland-based handset maker Nokia in 2014 in an ill-fated attempt to take on market leaders Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

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Start Folding With The [H] Today!

This is your end of the week reminder that joining the best folding team on the planet (Team #33) is now easier than ever. We don't give you money to join and we can't promise you prizes or other incentives, we do this simply because it is our passion and that is why we've had the best folding community around...for years. So, if you want to make a difference with a group of people that honestly care about what they are doing, join team Team #33 today.

Folding is a wonderful way to help your fellow man using your spare CPU cycles and now, thanks to the Quick Setup V7 Guide for Windows, it is easier than ever to get started. Remember to put the number 33 in the "team" field and you’ll be folding with the [H]orde in no time! Thanks to all our team members for the wonderful job they are doing.

NVIDIA Sets Conference Call for Second-Quarter Financial Results

NVIDIA will host a conference call on Thursday, Aug. 11, at 2 p.m. PT (5 p.m. ET) to discuss its financial results for the second quarter of fiscal year 2017, ending July 31, 2016. The call will be webcast live (in listen-only mode). The company's prepared remarks will be followed by a question and answer session, which will be limited to questions from financial analysts and institutional investors. Ahead of the call, NVIDIA will provide written commentary on its second-quarter results from its CFO. This material will be posted to nvidia.com/ir immediately after the company's results are publicly announced at approximately 1:20 p.m. PT. To listen to the conference call, dial (877) 223-3864 in the United States or (574) 990-1377 internationally, and provide the following conference ID: 47401500. A replay of the conference call will be available until Aug. 18, 2016, at (855) 859-2056, corresponding with conference ID: 47401500. The webcast will be recorded and available for replay until the company's conference call to discuss financial results for its third quarter of fiscal year 2017.

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Western Digital Announces Financial Results for Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2016

Western Digital Corp. today reported revenue of $3.5 billion and a net loss of $351 million, or $1.34 per share, for its fourth fiscal quarter ended July 1, 2016. On a non-GAAP basis, fourth quarter net income was $208 million, or $0.79 per share. In the year-ago quarter, the company reported revenue of $3.2 billion and net income of $220 million, or $0.94 per share. Non-GAAP net income in the year-ago quarter was $356 million, or $1.51 per share.

The company generated $355 million in cash from operations during the fourth fiscal quarter of 2016, ending with total cash and cash equivalents of $8.2 billion. On May 4, 2016, the company declared a cash dividend of $0.50 per share of its common stock, which was paid to shareholders on July 15, 2016. For fiscal 2016, the company achieved revenue of $13.0 billion and net income of $257 million, or $1.06 per share, compared to fiscal 2015 revenue of $14.6 billion and net income of $1.5 billion, or $6.18 per share. On a non-GAAP basis, fiscal 2016 net income was $1.2 billion, or $5.09 per share, compared to fiscal 2015 net income of $1.8 billion, or $7.76 per share. The company generated $2.0 billion in cash from operations during the 2016 fiscal year and it returned $524 million in dividends and share repurchases combined.

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Thursday July 28, 2016

NVIDIA Settles GTX 970 Class-Action Lawsuits

It looks as though NVIDIA reached a preliminary agreement to settle a number of class action lawsuits over the GTX 970 3.5GB memory debacle. Card owners will get $30 each, lawyers will get $1.3 million.

Graphics card manufacturer Nvidia agreed to a preliminary settlement that will resolve claims in a group of proposed class action lawsuits that center around allegations that the company misled consumers about the performance and storage capabilities of its product. Nvidia says it will pay each buyer of the graphics card $30 and will pay an additional $1.3 million in attorneys’ fees, according to settlement documents.

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[H]ardware Round-Up II

ETC.: Alienware Aurora R5 @ HotHardware

The Best Keyboards @ TechSpot

ROCCAT Suora Frameless Mechanical Keyboard @ FunkyKit

Storage: SanDisk SSD PLUS 240GB @ Hardware Secrets

Video: Gigabyte GTX 1080 Xtreme Gaming @ Tech Report

AMD Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.7.3

AMD has released brand new Crimson Edition 16.7.3 drivers for all you Radeon owners out there. According to AMD, these drivers offer a 10% performance improvement for Rise of the Tomb Raider. Here's a list of known issues as well as resolved issues:

Fixed Issues:

  • Overwatch™ may experience an application crash on some Radeon™ RX 480 configurations when using AMD Crossfire mode.

  • Vulkan™ information in the Radeon Settings software information tab may display an incorrect version.

  • Radeon WattMan may retain settings of an overclock after it has failed. If you have failed an overclock with a system hang or reboot.

  • Hitman™ may experience graphical corruption when the game is set to use DirectX®12 API and using zoom with weapons.

  • Total War™: Warhammer may experience minor graphical corruption in some map textures on AMD Radeon R9 380.

  • Flickering may be observed in Rise of the Tomb Raider™ on some AMD Crossfire configurations using the DirectX®11 API.

  • Changing settings in Dragon Age Inquisition™ with the Mantle API may result in an application crash or driver recovery.

  • DiRT™ Rally may experience flickering terrain in some races when the advanced blending option is enabled in the games settings page.

  • Display may exhibit a minor flicker on Radeon RX 480 when Freesync is enabled on a games launch or exit.

  • Shadows may experience rendering issues in DOTA2™ when using the Vulkan™ API.

  • Textures may experience holes or gaps in DOOM™ when using the OpenGL API and three display AMD Eyefinity configurations.

  • Need for Speed™ may experience flickering on some light sources in AMD Crossfire mode.

  • Performing a task switch with two cloned displays during full screen gaming may cause flickering on the extended display.

Known Issues:

  • A few game titles may fail to launch or crash if the AMD Gaming Evolved overlay is enabled. A temporary workaround is to disable the AMD Gaming Evolved "In Game Overlay".

  • DOTA2™ may experience an application hang when using the Vulkan™ API and changing resolution or game/quality settings.

  • DiRT™ Rally may experience rain drop flickering in some races when using AMD Crossfire mode.

  • Displays may fail to revert to previous configuration on exit when using a profiled application launched with Radeon Settings and "Launch with AMD Eyefinity" toggled on.

  • Assassin's Creed® Syndicate may experience a game crash or hang when in game settings are set to high or greater.

  • Low frame rate or stutter may be experienced Wolfenstein®: The Old Blood™ on Radeon™ RX 480.

  • Radeon RX 480 graphics may experience minor flickering in SteamVR benchmark when using AMD Crossfire mode.

  • Corruption may be experienced in Rise of the Tomb Raider using the DirectX®12 API on some Hybrid Graphics configurations when performing a task switch.

  • Shader Cache may remain be enabled when set to "off" in Radeon Settings on some Hybrid Graphics configurations.

  • Radeon RX 480 graphics may experience intermittent stuttering in The Division™ when high game settings are used and vsync is enabled.

  • Battlefield™ 4 may experience intermittent crashes when using Mantle. As a work around users are suggested to switch to DirectX®11.

  • Creating two or three display portrait Eyefinity groups in Radeon Settings "quick setup" and then clicking "arranging displays" may cause an error.

  • Radeon Pro Duo may experience a black screen in Total War™: Warhammer with the games API set to DirectX®12 and V-Sync enabled.

  • World of Tanks™ may experience stuttering after performing a task switch in AMD Crossfire mode.

  • Rocket League™ may experience flickering when in AMD Crossfire mode.

  • DOTA2™ may experience lower than expected performance when in AMD Crossfire mode.

  • Ashes of the Singularity™ may experience an application crash with "crazy" in game settings and Multi-GPU enabled.

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