[H]ard News

Monday February 20, 2017

Stranger Things Case Mod

If you are not a Stranger Things fan, you may not get all the references, but even if you are not a familiar with the Netflix series, you will still want to check out the Stranger Mod. Props to Gustavo Carvalho of Brazil for the great work.


How a Site with Virtually No Traffic Received 49.5M Takedown Notices

Raise your hand. Who here thinks rightsholder groups submit individual thoughtful complaints to Google of actual infringing links for them to remove? Well, here's another one to fuel your suspicions that they don't. According to Alexa mp3toys.xyz's domain ranks 25 millionth most popular online, yet somehow they have received 49.5 Million takedown notices, well on its way to taking first place in this dubious honor. How does this happen?

Well, firstly, almost all of the takedown notices are coming from APDIF do Brasil, the Brazilian Association for the Protection of the Intellectual Rights of Phonograms. It appears as if someone in Brazil has been guessing links, typing them into the webpage, and guess what, they exist, and they have to report them. Never mind the fact that the site automatically creates a page for every typed in URL, and fills it with randomly scraped content, most of it seemingly from Youtube.

Having some fleeting familiarity with Brazil, I'd say this all comes down to Jeitinho Brasileiro, or the Brazilian Way. It's just how you cut corners and bend the rules and get things done in Brazil, and Brazilians find it to be an endearing enough part of their culture that they have given it a name. Are you getting paid by the piracy link you report? Find a webpage that will create piracy links on demand!

Check out, HardOCP's Greatest Hits:

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The problem here is that in real terms, none of these URLs exist until they’re requested. However, APDIF’s guesses are entertained by the site, which creates a random page of music for every search. The content on these auto-generated pages cycles, but it never relates to the searches being put in. As shown below, even TorrentFreak’s Greatest Hits Volume 77 is a winner


Previous Owners of Used "Smart" Cars can Still Control Them via the Cars' Apps

As we have covered countless times before, there are many security problems in the world of connected cars. Now there is a new one to worry about.

Apparently for fear of owners getting locked out of their cars by valet's or others accidentally resetting the cars connections, car makers have, by and large, omitted any user accessible option to reset connections to connected devices. While dealers usually have the ability to perform this reset, they do not appear to have this on their trade-in checklist as of yet, resulting in many cars being resold, and new owners unknowingly being spied on by previous owners. The researcher goes on to note, that this is not limited to cars, but is a common theme among IoT devices.

This will be a good thing to keep in mind, as I go shopping for a replacement car this summer.

Charles Henderson, the leader of IBM's X-Force Red security division presented on this risk at last week's RSA conference in San Francisco (you can read his essay on the subject here). His ultimate recommendation is this counsel of despair: unless you are very technologically savvy, you should only buy new cars, not used ones.

It's not just cars, either -- the problem extends to smart appliances, thermostats, and other devices. Renting a house, staying in a hotel room, or buying a house without replacing its appliances and HVAC systems also exposes you to risks from the previous users of the devices in it.


The Void Brings a Social VR Experience to the Masses

The Void is a new studio that is bringing a social VR experience to groups of four participants at shopping malls, wax museums, multiplex theaters, etc. Utilizing a footprint of 30 square feet, each Void complex is divided into smaller rooms to emulate a New York apartment for a scene, but may become an elevator for another. Groups of four don a simple VR helmet, backpack to hold the PC running the headset, and a plastic gun. Not being tethered to a point by wires adds to the experience immensely. Then they are thrust into the Ghostbusters movie world and have an opportunity to defeat the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man at the end.

Filmmakers like Steven Spielberg and Ivan Reitman love the movie like aspect of the Void. They say it tells a very visceral story that is repeatable. Seems that placing four people, such as friends, into a VR room in a social setting together takes away the nausea and other problems that consumers have complained about with VR. Instead of having to purchase each person a $400 - $800 headset, PC up to spec, and more to play; only a $20 ticket per person is necessary for a 10 minute run through the Ghostbusters VR experience. Madame Tussauds New York has sold more than 43,000 tickets, translating to nearly $900,000.

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Mr. Jensen, who has a background in visual effects and video games, met his fellow Void founders in late 2013. Mr. Bretschneider and Mr. Hickman had been working on a dream project called Evermore, a physical theme park they hoped to build in suburban Salt Lake City. Mr. Jensen was hired to help with a 3-D component. When the expansive Evermore proved too ambitious, they began exploring virtual reality.

The Void, shorthand for Vision of Infinite Dimensions, now has 75 employees. "It makes sense that we grew out of a theme-park idea," Mr. Hickman said, "The Void is kind of like an old-fashioned, walk-through attraction — a haunted house — overlaid with this amazing technology that allows us to create any world we want."

He added: "It seems simple, but it’s actually very complex. There is physical misdirection and psychological misdirection. Magic, basically."


Corsair Bulldog V2.0 Build at PCPer

"Rowdy" Ryan Shrout has this to say about the new Corsair Bulldog. "Short squat design." It comes with an AIO CPU cooler, 600w PSU, a Z270 motherboard, and specific fan set profiles. Ryan shows off how to go through the entire build, courtesy of Corsair.


V.A.T.S. in VR is Awesome

Fallout 4 is one of the few desktop games I have played in the last few years all the way through to the finish. And as you likely know, Bethesda is still stoking the game with "free upgrades" to keep folks interested. glixel is reporting that Fallout 4 will be playable from start to finish in VR soon.

We spoke with Howard again this week, who provided a brief update on the project, and it seems his team is on track to achieve what it set out to do. "Fallout is going great. There's a lot of work to be done, but it's super exciting. We are doing the whole game," he assured us. "You can play it start to finish right now, and the whole thing really works in terms of interface and everything."

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VR enthusiasts will be glad to know that your Pip-Boy is going to be right there on your wrist working as it should and will be very helpful in keeping control of the gameplay flow.

When we asked him about the challenges of porting a game designed as a "traditional" first person game to a virtual reality environment, he was unphased by the challenges. "I will say that Fallout works because of the interface," he explained. "The Pip-Boy is on your wrist and we've been able to present so that it works the way you expect. You look and there it is. The fact that the gunplay is a bit slower than in a lot of games has certainly helped us but we have V.A.T.S., so you can pause or slow down the world," he says, describing the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System that allows you to freeze real time combat and target specific areas of enemies before unfreezing the action and watching it play out. "I assure you, V.A.T.S. in VR is awesome. We love it."

I am surely up to give Fallout 4 another go in VR. Can't wait. Will it be the first Triple A title to make it to the HMD?


Play DOOM ON Your Porsche 911

You might remember the guy that showed us how to mod a toaster to play games with a couple years ago, well he is back and this time he has invested a bit more money into his controller device. Actually he has invested a lot more money into his controller device, so I do not expect to see a lot of us giving this a go. And I don't see this going over well with too many driver safety advocacy groups either, but screw those guys. Drive your Porsche 911 and play DOOM at the same time! Doesn't this seem more a game that would be better played on a Mustang?


Snap Starts Selling Spectacles Online.

Snap has started selling their Spectacles camera glasses online for $130. These were previously sold exclusively through a vendor machine in select cities. The glasses are directly interfaced with the SnapChat service, and allow users to upload a 10 second video to their account. The glasses light up to let your friends know that they are being recorded to avoid the Glasshole stigma. Best part is that they recharge when placed back into their case. Pretty nifty!

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Snap announced Monday morning that Spectacles will now be available on Spectacles.com.

The $130 Spectacles let you film "snaps" at the touch of a button. A wireless video camera embedded in the sunglasses captures 10 seconds of video and saves it to your Snapchat app. You can then edit and share the videos with friends and add to your Snapchat Story.


USB Killer Devices Get Upgraded

I think we all know that letting anyone has access to your system's USB ports is not a good idea, just ask the dead guy that used to run Iran's nuclear program. That aside, it looks as though USBKiller.com has a new USB Killer V3 of its "testing device" that has been upgraded and now delivers even more power to "test the surge protection circuitry of electronics to their limits - and beyond." The device is basically a system of capacitors that charge up then repeatedly discharge into the system at ~200VDC until the unit is removed or it is not longer able to get power. The company sells the USB keys in an "Anonymous Edition" as well. Be vigilant my friends. And if you happend to see a USB that looks like the ones below, you might have them plug it into their own device first, if you are thinking about letting anyone violate your USB port.

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If you are doubting the ability of these devices to kill or permanently damage your electronics, the company has put together a montage of destruction.

There are more than a few devices on the market that will physically block USB ports (and others) on your computer to make it a big harder to perform a drive-by USB key plugin.


Court Rules Kim Dotcom Can be Extradited to America

Kim Dotcom of Megaupload fame has lost a legal battle to avoid extradition to America to face fraud charges. He is alleged to have 13 pending charges against him including conspiracy to commit racketeering, copyright infringement, money laundering and wire fraud. He has announced that he is going to appeal the judgement. We will have to wait to see if he is "Coming to America."

He has lived a very lavish lifestyle even after the FBI raid that confiscated millions of dollars from his New Zealand mansion. He has made many videos of him on yachts, private jets, huge parties, etc. It shall be interesting to see if he actually gets extradited this time. The Court in New Zealand has already ruled that he isn't liable for the copyrighted material that was on his Megaupload service. I wonder if he will face those charges here regardless of their ruling? I remember Al Capone serving an 11 year sentence for tax evasion.

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U.S. authorities say Dotcom and three co-accused Megaupload executives cost film studios and record companies more than $500 million and generated more than $175 million by encouraging paying users to store and share copyrighted material. High Court judge Murray Gilbert said that there was no crime for copyright in New Zealand law that would justify extradition but that the Megaupload-founder could be sent to the United States to face allegations of fraud.


BioStar has its AMD Ryzen AM4 Motherboards Listed for Now

BioStar is ahead of the pack when it comes to talking Ryzen AM4 motherboards, so I am unsure whether or not these pages will remain live for long. BioStar has three of its X370 chipset motherboards listed on its site; X370GT7 Ver. 5.x, X370GT5 Ver. 5.x, X370GT3 Ver. 6.x. It also has two of its B350 chipset boards listed: B350GT5 Ver. 5.x, B350GT3 Ver. 6.x. The differences between the models are subtle at best, however audio is the "biggest" difference as well as what onboard video outputs are supported.

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AMD's new AM4 platform will accompany Ryzen. It brings all of the new tech that you'd expect, including DDR4 RAM, PCI-E Gen 3, USB 3.1 Gen 2, NVMe and SATA Express. AMD X370 is the high-end chipset for overclockers and tweakers who need robust platforms. This chip provides the ultimate low-level control to its users and delivers ultimate graphics card bandwidth.


NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080Ti Launch Rumor

The folks over at Nordic Hardware seem to have it on good authority that the next GPU released from NVIDIA will be the GTX 1080 Ti and will be launched in "late March." At least that is what Google Translate garnered from this Swedish language page. It would seem that an impending GTX 1080 Ti is also noted on the Halo Wars 2 box.

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From these rumored specs we can see that these guys are suggesting a scaled down Titanium X.


[H]ardware Round-Up III

GEIL Super Luce DDR4-3000 16GB Memory Kit Review @ Funky Kit

Pentium G4500 CPU by Intel Review @ Hardware Secrets

CRUCIAL MX300 2TB SSD REVIEW @ Overclocked Inside

ID-Cooling FrostFlow 240L CPU Cooler Review @ PC Gameware

Cougar Attack X3 RGB Tastatur im Kurztest (German) @ Technic3D

[H]ardware Round-Up II

The Samsung QLED TV Technology Explained @ TechARP

Gigabyte Radeon RX 480 G1 Gaming (German) 4G @ Hardware Mag

Carte graphique PNY GTX 1080 XLR8 OC Gaming (French) @ CowCotLand

Western Digital Red WD80EFZX 8TB Review @ aph networks

Creative Sound BlasterX Kratos S3 2.1 Speaker System Review @ Mad Shrimps

Creative Sound BlasterX Pro-Gaming Katana Desktop Soundbar Review @ eTeknix

AZIO MGK L80 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review @ TechGage

Cooler Master MasterPulse Pro RGB Headset review @ Guru3D

Logitech G533 Wireless Headset @ LanOC Reviews

GT Omega Racing EVO XL Office Chair Review @ Play3r

[H]ardware Round-Up

Rockit Cool Rockit 88 Processor Delidding Tool @ Hardware Asylum

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You can find all our delid content here.

AORUS GTX 1080 XTREME Edition Review @ Vortez

Scythe Mugen 5 CPU Cooler Review @ Play3r

SilverStone Redline RL06 PRO ATX Mid-Tower Review @ NiKKTech

A Look At CyberPowerPC’s GUA2400BST AMD VR Gaming PC @ TechGage

You can find all our past VR GPU performance coverage here.

be quiet! Straight Power 10 600w Power Supply Review @ Play3r

Sunday February 19, 2017

Blizzard Ending Support for Windows XP and Windows Vista This Year

Popular Blizzard titles that include StarCraft II and Diablo III will no longer run on anything older than Windows 7. Being that there have been three major Windows releases since Vista and most gamers have moved to 7, 8/8.1 or 10, Blizzard has no real reason to continue supporting XP or Vista anymore. Microsoft stopped bothering in 2009 and 2012, respectively.

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Blizzard has announced that it will end support for Windows XP and Windows Vista in World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm later this year. As Blizzard noted, the aforementioned games will no longer work on Windows XP and Windows Vista, therefore PC gamers will have to upgrade to a newer operating system." After these older operating systems are no longer supported, the games will not run on them, so we encourage any players who are still using one of the older OSes to upgrade to a newer version. We’ll be rolling out this change on a staggered schedule, and will post further notices as we get closer to making the change for each game."


Mark Zuckerberg’s Manifesto Is a Blueprint for Destroying Journalism

The Facebook CEO published a rather long-winded post last week about where he thought his company should be headed. A number of writers have already criticized it: some say he wants to save the world, while others say he merely wants to own it. The Atlantic here tackles a more specific possibility, that Zuckerberg is building a news organization without journalists. ("The Facebook of the future, he writes, will be ‘for keeping us safe, for informing us, for civic engagement, and for inclusion of all.’") What are your thoughts on Facebook becoming the de-facto source of news, considering they can’t even get trending stories right?

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Zuckerberg is making it clear that he wants Facebook to take over many of the actual functions—not just ad dollars—that traditional news organizations once had. Zuckerberg uses abstract language in his memo—he wants Facebook to develop "the social infrastructure for community," he writes—but what he’s really describing is building a media company with classic journalistic goals: The Facebook of the future, he writes, will be "for keeping us safe, for informing us, for civic engagement, and for inclusion of all."


Germany Bans Doll over Hacking Fears and Data Collection

Parents are being urged to return their "My Friend Cayla" dolls, as they are being regarded as "espionage devices" that record and (insecurely) send data back to their base of operations. While the company mentions that the recordings may be sent to third-party companies for targeted advertising, I don’t think they intended for the doll to be easily hacked: you could even make one "spew curse words and scare kids." Norway made the awesome video below to detail the problem, but they haven’t banned the product yet like Germany has.

…Cayla dolls were designed to pick up children questions, send them to an app on the parent's device, which translated the audio to text and searched for an answer online. According to German authorities, some of these conversations made their way further, as the app forwarded the audio recordings to the doll's vendor. The toy's terms and conditions state that the vendor uses these conversations to improve service, but also to share the audio recordings with third-party companies that can use it for targeted advertising. Furthermore, the toy itself has been hacked by security researchers, who showed that the communications between the Cayla doll and the parent's app were not sufficiently protected, allowing an attacker to intercept audio recordings, or relay custom audio to the toy, possibly scaring the child.


Can Netbooks Be Cool Again?

I found this one confusing. Aren’t 2-in-1 devices like the Surface (which are, in fact, very cool) and Chromebooks (which have made waves in the education sector) basically the spiritual successors of netbooks, meaning that they never really went away? I guess this may just be a clever advertorial for the GPD Pocket, a 7-inch computer that can fit in a jacket pocket, but I guess it is interesting to think about how far we’ve come with portables since 2007 (although a decade is about a millennium in tech years).

…netbooks…came with major compromises. One was the ubiquitous Intel Atom low-power processor, which sometimes struggled with handling basic computer multitasking. Windows felt slow and heavy compared to a good netbook-specific flavor of Linux, but if you needed to run a Windows-specific program, you’d be out of luck. (Yes, you could set up a dual-boot system. That requires more effort than most people want to put into a $400 laptop.) And even as netbooks grew in size, their keyboards were often cramped — my small fingers started to feel like a superpower, and I still had trouble with the original Eee PC. After a while, the netbook became one of those things I’d suggest with the cautious qualification that it wasn’t for everybody, like my favorite cheap whiskey or an early Man Man album.


Lawyers Could Be Next Profession Replaced by Computers

Having your case argued by a robot seems totally absurd, but automation does make plenty of sense for many legal duties that include document gathering and contract work. I am actually a huge proponent of this for governmental responsibilities bound by statute such as FOIA requests. In some cases, you are forced to pay gathering, research, and redaction fees, when most of those tasks are, well, robotic, and should mostly be in a database anyway that can be easily accessed and edited virtually. Best of all, software would actually know the law: you would be surprised at how many people at a district attorney’s office would rather violate state statute than do a little paperwork.

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…blue collar jobs aren't the only ones at risk. The legal profession — tradition-bound and labor-heavy — is on the cusp of a transformation in which artificial-intelligence platforms dramatically affect how legal work gets done. Those platforms will mine documents for evidence that will be useful in litigation, to review and create contracts, raise red flags within companies to identify potential fraud and other misconduct or do legal research and perform due diligence before corporate acquisitions. Those are all tasks that — for the moment at least — are largely the responsibility of flesh-and-blood attorneys. Increasing automation of the legal industry promises to increase efficiency and save clients money, but could also cut jobs in the sector as the technology becomes responsible for tasks currently performed by humans.


Google Discloses Another Unpatched Windows Vulnerability

Google’s Project Zero team has disclosed a vulnerability concerning the Windows GDI (Graphics Device Interface) (gdi32.dll) that allows an attacker to use EMF files to read the content of a user’s memory. The issue was originally reported back in November 16 but was never patched properly, so its details are now out in the wild. If Microsoft didn’t botch their security update this month, this may have been avoided, assuming the fix was part of that package. Another exploit that still needs to be addressed is the malicious SMB one that was unveiled a couple of weeks ago.

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Google gives companies 90 days after disclosure of vulnerabilities to fix the issue. If the time period elapses without a patch that is made available to the public, the vulnerability is disclosed to the public. Jurczyk reported the issue to Microsoft on November 16, 2016. Microsoft did not release a patch in time, which is why the system revealed the issue and the example exploit code. Good news for Windows users is that the issue should not be of major concern as it requires access to the machine to exploit the issue. Woody notes that an attacker would have to log on to the machine to execute a specially prepared EMF file to exploit the issue.


How AMD's Ryzen Will Disrupt the Gaming CPU Market

Eurogamer has offered some positive thoughts on the effect that Ryzen could have on gaming. While there is plenty of testing left to be done, it isn’t crazy to think that the new AMD chips may offer tremendous value, especially if they can be pushed like the competition. Ryzen does lack an integrated GPU, but that "downside," as you would imagine, is pretty darn moot. One thing I like, beyond the gaming aspect, is that Ryzen chips could be a cheaper but equally effective solution for video encoding.

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…how will gaming performance pan out, and secondly - just how is a much smaller company able to undercut Intel so massively? Has Intel really been ripping us off over the last decade? Potentially, there's much to get excited about in just how much performance we're getting for the money here—even for the budget gaming PC builder. At the absolute bottom end, the Pentium G4560 still looks unassailable, but assuming Ryzen can indeed match up to an Intel Broadwell processor, the entry-level Ryzen 3 1100 should offer superb gaming performance up there with a modern i5, even before we factor in the overclocking potential of the chip. There are also other factors to consider too - such as AMD's track record in providing gamer-friendly features on entry-level motherboards.


AMD Ryzen AM4 Motherboards Pictured in Full Detail

VideoCardz has assembled an extensive gallery of the AMD Ryzen motherboard lineup from ASRock, ASUS, GIGABYTE, and MSI. We’ve gotten glimpses of these motherboards before, but those of you who want to gawk at official product shots may do so now.

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SpaceX Launches First Rocket from Iconic Florida Pad

In another success for Musk’s rocket company, SpaceX has managed to launch a Falcon 9 from NASA’s 39A pad and land its first stage nearby. As you may know, Launch Complex 39 is famous for being the origin point of all six Apollo moon landings, as well as the first (and last) space shuttle flight.

This is SpaceX's tenth supply mission for the International Space Station, but the Dragon capsule on the rocket is carrying a special payload. It's hauling an experimental module, Raven that will test autonomous space rendezvous technology: its three-sensor array will track spacecraft visiting the station and help guide them safely to their intended destination. Expect launches from 39A and elsewhere to be relatively commonplace. SpaceX vowed that it would launch rockets every 2 to 3 weeks, and it's clearly making good on that promise so far.


Origami-Inspired Shield Absorbs Handgun Bullets

Brigham Young University engineers have crafted an incredible alternative to steel-based bulletproof barriers, which generally weigh close to 100 pounds and are impractical to lug around. Taking inspiration from origami, this shield not only weighs half as light but is fully effective in stopping bullets (of the 9 mm, .357 Magnum, and .44 Magnum variety, at least). They can also be expanded in about five seconds.

The barrier Howell and his colleagues designed is made of 12 layers of bulletproof Kevlar and weighs only 55 pounds (many of the steel-based barriers in current use approach 100 pounds). The BYU-built barrier uses a Yoshimura origami crease pattern to expand around an officer, providing protection on the side in addition to protecting them in the front. In testing, the barrier successfully stopped bullets from 9 mm, .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum pistols."Those are significant handguns with power," Howell said. "We suspected that something as large as a .44 Magnum would actually tip it over, but that didn’t happen. The barrier is very stable, even with large bullets hitting it."


Early Nintendo Switch Consoles Were Actually Stolen

An unboxing video and footage of the Switch’s UI were uploaded earlier this week by one lucky gamer who managed to snag the system two weeks before release. Many assumed it was the result of your typical retail slip-up, but Nintendo has revealed that the units were actually pilfered and sold by employees. While the system has been returned to Nintendo, the leaked materials are still up for anyone to watch.

A Nintendo representative provided the following statement to IGN: "Earlier this week, individuals claimed to prematurely purchase a small number of Nintendo Switch systems from an unspecified retailer. Nintendo has determined these units were stolen in an isolated incident by employees of a U.S. distributor, with one system being illegally resold. The individuals involved have been identified, terminated from their place of employment and are under investigation by local law enforcement authorities on criminal charges. Nintendo Switch will launch worldwide on March 3, 2017, and we look forward to everyone being able to discover the wonders of the new system for themselves at that time."


FCC Chairman Encourages Activation of FM Radio Receiver Built into Smartphones

While Ajit Pai will not be doing much about it (i.e., establishing a government mandate) because he is all about free markets, the FCC chairman thinks that smartphone makers should let people listen to FM radio over the air instead of forcing them to use streaming apps, which require Wi-Fi or cellular data. It is estimated that 44% of devices include FM chips but do not have them activated, and the majority of these are iPhones. Pai argues that FM radio is relevant for public safety, but is this really something to get fussed about?

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Pai cited a NAB study that found only 44% of the top-selling smartphones in the United States had activated FM receivers as of last year. The vast majority—94%—of the non-activated smartphones are iPhones, according to the study. "We could be doing a lot better," said Pai, who was appointed as FCC chairman last month. "It seems odd that every day we hear about a new smartphone app that lets you do something innovative, yet these modern-day mobile miracles don’t enable a key function offered by a 1982 Sony Walkman." The activation of FM receivers in iPhones would have several benefits, including battery life savings, less data usage, and most importantly, the ability to receive emergency alerts over radio without service.


Saturday February 18, 2017

Google Tests LTE Phone Calls on Project Fi

Those of you who have encountered call quality issues with Google’s Project Fi service may rejoice: the company has begun testing VoLTE, which means higher quality calls over data, faster data browsing during a call, and faster call setup. Unfortunately, the feature only works with T-Mobile’s networks for the time being, but I imagine they will expand it to AT&T and Verizon as well, being that they also have VoLTE-capable networks.

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Google [has] been testing Voice over LTE (VoLTE) network connections for some people who subscribe to its Project Fi wireless service. Getting access to VoLTE means that phone calls will use 4G LTE, allowing for better call quality and faster data connections for mapping apps and other services that consume data. "You can tell you’re making a VoLTE call because your signal indicator will continue to display LTE instead of falling to H (HSPA) when you make or receive a call," Project Fi community manager Alena wrote in a Google forum post.


Russian Site-Blocking Chief: Kids Shouldn’t Use the Internet

Some people think smartphones, tablets, and other devices can screw up the minds of children. This guy goes one step further and thinks everyone under the age of 10 should be banned from using the Internet, even though statistics show that a significant portion of kids are heavily invested in online media these days. Oh well, there’s always Legos and Mega Bloks ( those haven’t been banned yet in Russia, have they? ).

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…Alexander Zharov spoke on a number of issues, including online safety, especially for children. Naturally, kids need to be protected but the Rozcomnadzor chief has some quite radical ideas when it comes to them using the Internet. "I believe that a child under 10-years-old should not go online. To use [the Internet] actively they need to start even later than that," Zharov said. As that begins to sink in, with parents around the globe destroying their kids’ smartphones, tablets, and games consoles in agreement, Zharov hasn’t finished. "Some parents are proud of the fact that their three-year-old kid can deftly control a tablet and use it to watch cartoons. It is nothing good, in my opinion. A small child will begin to consider the virtual world part of the real world, and it changes their perception of reality."


Half-Life, Portal, Left 4 Dead Writer Leaves Valve

This follows Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw’s departure last year in January. Gee, I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that Valve isn’t much of a game company anymore? Just sitting there and watching Gabe light up cigars with $100 bills gets old quick, I guess.

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Erik Wolpaw, best known as one of the more prominent writers at Half-Life and Steam house Valve Software, is leaving the company, according to a tip received by Gamasutra that matches up with a Facebook post from Wolpaw and a Twitter post from fellow Valve expat Marc Laidlaw. It’s a notable departure for Valve. Wolpaw, who joined Valve in 2004, has credits including Half-Life 2: Episode One, Episode Two, Portal, both Left 4 Dead games and other highly-notable titles. Wolpaw’s resignation comes a little over a year after Laidlaw, also an influential Valve writer, revealed that he’d left the company. Laidlaw’s credits include many of the same games on Wolpaw’s resume.


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