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Aujourd’hui — 20 février 2019Technology - English

MSI MEG X299 Creation motherboard review

We review the top of the line X299 motherboard from MSI, the MSI MEG X299 Creation. A motherboard in dark accents that is chucked full with features, design and a strong VRM. An X299 motherboard can ...

Editorial: Apple is making us wait for a new iMac for no good reason

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Apple's flagship machine, the iMac, has not been updated since June 2017, and it's not because of a lack of technical improvements that could be made. Apple has chosen to sideline the iMac for reasons known only to itself, but now is the time for a significant update.

Ah, boss? I just overheard someone say they spotted the microphone!

You may recall a news story last summer, about USB fans which were handed out to journalists that showed how oblivious many people are when it comes to security.  The recent news about the microphone in Google's Nest Secure shows that the lesson still has not been learned, though there is certainly an extra level to this particular story.  Google recently announced that they would be activating the microphone embedded in the Nest Secure, something which they completely neglected to document that their home security system contained.

The Nest Secure consists of several sensors to detect a window or door opening, as well as a base with a speaker to sound alerts and a keypad to verify the user.  You would not reasonably expect such a thing to contain a microphone, let alone an undocumented one.   Google insists that they simply forgot to include it in the parts list and that this is all just an innocent misunderstanding.  They are also asking you to believe that the microphone has never been enabled and that there is no possible way that it might have been secretly recording conversations. 

As a point in Google's favour Ars Technica does point out that every other product Google sells has a microphone in it, and so it would be reasonable to suspect one was present in the Nest.   In a world where your TV spies on you, an update can brick your shoes and you can buy smart locks that will ensure you will never be able to go home again, just to mention a few, having your security system spying on you does not seem too far fetched.


“The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs. That was an error on our part.” According to the company, "the microphone has never been on and is only activated when users specifically enable the option.”

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

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Corsair ONE i160 Compact Gaming PC Review

Corsair has revamped their desktop lineup with the ONE i160 compact gaming PC. Sporting an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, Intel i9-9900K, and 32 GB of memory, this new system is more than just a bunch of high-end hardware. It's also absolutely tiny. Maybe, they should have called it Little Mac since it packs such a serious punch.

AMD Hiring Ten More People For Their Open-Source/Linux Driver Team

If you are passionate about Linux/open-source and experienced with the 3D graphics programming and/or compute shaders, AMD is looking to expand their open-source/Linux driver team by about ten people...

Use an iPhone to update the Nike Adapt BB sneakers, or you'll brick them

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NikeOwners of the Nike Adapt BB, self-lacing sneakers that can be tied and loosened via a smartphone app, are reporting their high-tech footwear has been bricked by the Android version of the app, an issue caused through a faulty delivery of new firmware.

Paradox Interactive launches new platform to enable easier modding across PC and Xbox One

Alongside Microsoft’s retroactive focus on backwards compatibility, the Xbox One is notable for embracing video game mods that were once exclusive to PC. It isn’t certain how the upcoming ninth generation of consoles will handle the feature, but developer Paradox Interactive is hoping to make the process significantly easier with its new Paradox Mods platform.

Paradox Mods is a new independent open modding platform launched in partnership with Microsoft, allowing creators to publish their mods to both Xbox One and PC, via GoG and the Paradox Launcher, in a single upload. This “direct pipeline” is intended to streamline the workflow with in-game and web interfaces that allow for easy distribution.

“Modding has been, and remains an important part of the Paradox community. As we have diversified the way we distribute our games, we want to make sure all our players can take part in the creation process,” said Anders Törlind, Product Owner for Paradox Mods.

Surviving Mars will be the first supported game, launching with over 30 mods from community members Silva, ChoGGi and more. PC and consoles users can easily browse the library of modifications via the “Mod Manager” on their Paradox account, selecting them for automatic download and install. Simultaneously, the simulator now supports keyboard and mouse on Xbox One.

“For Surviving Mars, we have worked with mod creators to support Paradox Mods with some of the best mods available, all in one place and downloadable in-game or simply using a web browser. We really look forward to unlocking the world of modding for all members of our community, regardless of what system they are using to play our games,” concludes Törlind.

More Paradox titles will be supported by the platform later in the year, but we’ve yet to establish which ones. The upcoming Age of Wonders: Planetfall is a likely candidate, with potential retroactive support for BattleTech and the Prison Architect series.

KitGuru Says: It’s always a good thing to have more mods, given that it tightens the community and breathes new life into games that would otherwise be regarded as stagnant. What games would you like to see come to Paradox Mods?

Bioware is making some changes to Anthem’s most questionable story mission

Anthem is already alive and kicking for PC players with an Origin Access Premier subscription. This early access period has already brought to light a number of issues with the game and fortunately, one of the biggest problems is already being addressed. Eventually in Anthem’s campaign, you hit a mission that involves completing a laundry list of challenges, bringing story progress to a screeching halt. Some changes are being made to make this process go over a little smoother.

The Challenge of the Legionnaires mission is required to progress through the main story. The idea is that you complete a list of challenges ranging from defeating a certain number of enemies in various ways, perform a certain number of combos, revive teammates a certain number of times, open a bunch of treasure chests, find collectibles amongst a few others. Once you’ve finished these challenges, you’ll be ‘deemed worthy’ enough to open up some tombs and progress in the main story.

At first, any progress towards these challenges wasn’t counted until you obtained the mission. So if you had already completed a number of these objectives through regular play, you would be forced to do it all over again. In a mid-week patch to Anthem, this has been changed, meaning progress towards these challenges will start being counted as soon as you hit level 3.

Beyond that, if you are in a party, only one person needs to open a treasure chest in order for it to count for everyone in the group. This particular change won’t appear in-game until Friday’s launch day patch.

KitGuru Says: I’m currently working my way through this very mission and while I can get on board with most of the combat challenges, being forced to hunt for treasure chests and collectibles is overly time consuming and not exactly fun. Hopefully this quest will get some additional changes post-launch, as it slows story progress down at a point where it finally feels like it is kicking into gear.  Have any of you been playing Anthem on PC this week? Have you gotten through this mission yet? 

Extensive Benchmarks Looking At AMD Znver1 GCC 9 Performance, EPYC Compiler Tuning

With the GCC 9 compiler due to be officially released as stable in the next month or two, we've been running benchmarks of this near-final state to the GNU Compiler Collection on a diverse range of processors. In recent weeks that has included extensive compiler benchmarks on a dozen x86_64 systems, POWER9 compiler testing on the Talos II, and also the AArch64 compiler performance on recent releases of GCC and LLVM Clang. In this latest installment of our GCC 9 compiler benchmarking is an extensive look at the AMD EPYC Znver1 performance on various releases of the GCC compiler as well as looking at various optimization levels under this new compiler on the Znver1 processor.

Apple Pay activated on 383 million iPhones, worldwide

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Apple Pay is continuing to grow as a major player in the mobile payments market thanks to its loyal users, Loup Ventures notes, estimating that 43 percent of all iPhone users around the world have enabled Apple Pay on their devices.

Anthem Review

A big song and dance about nothing.

BenQ Unveils PD3220U Professional Monitor with AQColor, TB3, HDR10, & KVM

BenQ has introduced a new professional-grade display aimed at designers. The BenQ DesignVue PD3220U monitor supports virtually all color gamuts currently used by professionals, and can even display images in two different color spaces at the same time in BenQ’s DualView mode. Meanwhile, like many advanced LCDs, the PD3220U features Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, a built-in KVM switch, and a hardware hotkey puck.

The general specifications of BenQ’s DesignVue PD3220U monitor are pretty typical by today’s standards. The display is based on a 31.5-inch 10-bit IPS panel featuring a 3840×2160 resolution, 300 nits typical brightness, 1000:1 static contrast, 5 ms response time, a 60 Hz refresh rate, 178° viewing angles, and an anti-glare coating. BenQ does not disclose the type of backlighting it uses, but it must be professional-grade given positioning of the device.


Like virtually all professional LCD panels, the one used by the PD3220U can reproduce 1.07 billion colors, but unlike many competing offerings this monitor can cover the sRGB, Adobe RGB, DCI-P3, and the Display P3 color spaces, hitting 95% on the latter two. Furthermore, the monitor supports HDR10 transport, as well as a specially-tuned Animation Mode (enhances dark areas without overexposing bright areas), Darkroom Mode (for darkened post-processing environments), and CAD/CAM Mode (enhances contrast). One interesting feature the monitor has is ability to display images in two color spaces side by side in DualView mode to speed up productivity. Furthermore, it also has a built-in KVM switch that enables to seamlessly use more than one computer with one or two displays.


To ensure maximum accuracy of color reproduction, the display supports BenQ’s proprietary AQColor technology, which BenQ yet has to detail. The DesignVue PD3220U comes factory calibrated, but BenQ does not mention DeltaE accuracy as well as color spaces used for calibration. The company also says nothing about 3D look-up tables (LUTs) for HDR10 as well as blending accuracy, but it is possible that this is because the monitor is yet to be made available and not all details have been finalized. Furthermore, with peak brightness at 300 nits it is unlikely that the monitor will ever be used for post-production of HDR-intensive content.

When it comes to connectivity, the DesignVue PD3220U has two Thunderbolt 3 connectors for daisy chaining (one of the ports supports 85 W power delivery and thus can feed most 15.6-inch class laptops), a DisplayPort 1.4 connector, and two HDMI 2.0 ports. The monitor also has a triple-port USB 3.1 hub (there is a Type-C port too). As an added bonus, the display features two 2W built-in speakers, and a headphone jack.

Specifications of the BenQ DesignVue PD3220U
  DesignVue PD3220U
Panel 31.5" IPS
Native Resolution 3840 × 2160
Maximum Refresh Rate 60 Hz
Response Time 5 ms GtG
Brightness 300 cd/m² (typical)
Contrast 1000:1
Viewing Angles 178°/178° horizontal/vertical
Backlighting ?
Pixel Pitch 0.1845 mm²
Pixel Density 138 ppi
Display Colors 1.07 billion
Color Gamut Support sRGB: 100%
DCI-P3: 95%
Display P3: ?
Adobe RGB: ?
Aspect Ratio 16:9
Stand adjustable
Inputs 1 × DisplayPort 1.4
2 × Thunderbolt 3
2 × HDMI 2.0
USB Hub Triple-port USB 3.1 hub
Launch Date Spring 2019

BenQ announced its DesignVue PD3220U fairly recently and it is expected that the product will hit the market in April. In the U.S., the display will cost $1,199.99, which is a pretty much expected price point for a professional-grade monitor.

Related Reading:

Source: BenQ (via Hermitage Akihabara)

Qualcomm intros Snapdragon X55 second gen 5G modem

mmWave and sub-6GHz spectral compatibility means downloads as fast as 7Gbps.

TuxClocker: Another GPU Overclocking GUI For Linux

Adding to the list of third-party GPU overclocking utilities for Linux is TuxClocker, a Qt5-based user-interface currently with support for NVIDIA graphics cards and experimental support for AMD GPUs...

Report: Intel Pentium Gold G5620 on the Way: First 4 Ghz Pentium

The Pentium processor has been around since the end of the 486 era, introduced in 1993 at a startling cost of $878 for the 60 MHz version, and $964 for 66 MHz (when purchased in quantities of 1000, that is). Now Intel is taking Pentium into uncharted waters for 2019, with the Pentium Gold G5620 reaching 4.0 GHz for the first time for a processor bearing the iconic brand.


Image via Tom's Hardware

According to reports from Tom's Hardware and AnandTech the Pentium G5620, listed early by retailers in Europe, is a 2-core / 4-thread part that will apparently be at the top of the new budget desktop CPU lineup. Alongside the Pentium G5620 there will refreshed Pentium and Celeron CPUs, as listed by Tom's Hardware:

"...the other processors listed include the G5420 (3.8 GHz, 2/4), G5600T (3.3 GHz, 2/4), G5420T (3.2 GHz, 2/4), the Celeron G4950 (3.3 GHz, 2/2), the Celeron G4930 (3.2 GHz, 2/2), and the Celeron G4930T (3.0 GHz, 2/2)."

We do not have an Intel announcement yet of course, so no details about architecture, process tech, or official pricing. March or April is the expected timeframe based on the listings, and with no official release dates we can only speculate on actual availability here in the U.S.

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How to do basic editing and detailed markup of PDFs on Mojave

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The more you need to edit or alter PDFs, the closer you come to needing third-party apps. Yet again, though, the Mac comes with PDF tools that are capable and useful -- so let's talk about how to use them.

Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 review — sliding the bezels away

The post Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 review — sliding the bezels away appeared first on Pokde posted by Vyncent Chan on Pokde.Net

Xiaomi's Mi MIX 3 may soon be overshadowed by the Snapdragon 855 devices just around the corner, but it is definitely one cool smartphone!

The post Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 review — sliding the bezels away appeared first on Pokde posted by Vyncent Chan on Pokde.Net

Apple reportedly set to combine Mac and iOS apps

Over the last couple of years, there have been several whispers surrounding Apple’s plans to tie macOS and iOS closer together. The wheels have been set in motion, with several iOS features making their way to Apple’s laptop and desktop platform. In the future though, Apple will reportedly aim for complete cross-compatibility with apps.

According to a recent report from Bloomberg, Apple is looking to allow developers to create apps that will work across iPhone, iPad and Macs. The ball has already started rolling, with iOS versions of Home, News, Voice Memo and Stocks landing on macOS Mojave.

This universal app platform will take a bigger step by 2021, with developers apparently set to get a new SDK that will make it possible for iPad apps to be ported over to macOS. An update to bring iPhone apps over will then follow later on. This new SDK will reportedly be unveiled at this year’s WWDC.

This wouldn’t be the first time that a Universal App platform has been attempted. Microsoft still uses UWP to this day for cross-platform games across Xbox One and Windows 10. UWP was also supposed to be a boon for the Windows 10 app store for desktop and mobile, although things on that front didn’t really pan out.

Apple hasn’t announced dates for this year’s WWDC just yet but the event normally takes place in June, so we should learn more on this then.

KitGuru Says: Something like this would give the Mac app store a much needed boost. The timing is interesting too, as Google is also making some efforts to get Android apps running on Chrome OS. 

OpenSUSE Leap 15.1 Reaches Beta Milestone

This week openSUSE Leap 15.1 reached the beta stage for this Linux distribution derived from the same sources as SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP1...

Arm Neoverse N1 & E1 Platforms Announced For Cloud To Edge Computing

Arm announced today their Neoverse N1 7nm platform catering towards cloud workload performance as well as the Neoverse E1 platform for high-efficiency infrastructure...

Call of Duty: Black Ooops 4 adds controversial loot boxes after four months of bliss

Contrary to Activision’s usual business choices, the publisher surprisingly allowed Treyarch to release Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 without controversial loot boxes. Sadly, 4 months of bliss has come to an end, as Operation Grand Heist introduces paid Reserve Crates.

The change isn’t entirely unexpected given that the series has a history with loot boxes, first introduced in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare in 2014 and carried through until WWII in 2017. Particularly, Black Ops 4’s Blackout mode faces heavy competition from EA’s rapidly growing Apex Legends, however unlike its competition Activision hasn’t revealed the probabilities of snatching the items contained in its newly introduced Reserve Crates.

Reserve Crates contain three items from Blackjack’s Reserve, costing 200 COD Points or £1.79 / $1.99 each. Reserve Cases can still be unlocked by playing Blackout for a couple of hours, earning the player 1 item from Blackjack’s Reserves.

Most of the items inside are cosmetic, split into different tiers of rarity such as the common Chain Link tag, “The Pursuit” Ruin Epic outfit or Mastercraft Kuromaku skin for the KN-57. Unfortunately, it also contains Signature Weapons that were introduced during the previous Operation Absolute Zero in December. It is possible to get duplicates but the “Reserve Guarantee,” previously known as the Re-Roll system, ensures that every third of the same item be swapped out for something brand new.

Of course, this has irritated much of the community that initially praised the season-based Contraband progression system. It is a particularly sore spot after Activision Blizzard has laid off a significant portion of its staff while executives continue to walk away with sizeable bonuses.

KitGuru Says: The main differences between Blackout and Apex Legends are that the latter is free-to-play and never once advertised itself under a different kind of monetisation. It’s understandable that players feel cheated into supporting a practice they disagree with. How do you feel about Reserve Crates?

The Nest Secure has a hidden microphone, and Google didn't tell owners for 18 months

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Owners of Google's Nest Secure system are upset about a microphone on the product suddenly being enabled for Google Assistant -- one that they weren't aware existed.

Arm Announces Neoverse N1 & E1 Platforms & CPUs: Enabling A Huge Jump In Infrastructure Performance

Anybody following the industry over the last decade will have heard of Arm. We best know the company for being the enabler and providing the architecture as well as CPU designs that power essentially all of today’s mobile devices. The last 7-5 years in particular we’ve seen meteoric advances in silicon performance of the mobile SoCs found in our smartphones and tablets.

However Arm's ambition goes widely beyond just mobile and embedded devices. The market for compute in general is a lot larger than that, and looking at things in a business sense, high-end devices like servers and related infrastructure carry far greater profit margins. So for a successful CPU designer like Arm who is still on the rise, it's a very lucrative market to aim for, as current leader Intel can profess.

Today’s announcement is all about enabling that server and infrastructure ecosystem. To that end we're covering in detail two new “platforms” that will be at the core of Arm’s infrastructure strategy for the next few years, the Neoverse N1 and E1 platforms.

TSMC’s Fab 14B Photoresist Material Incident: $550 Million in Lost Revenue

TSMC on Friday revealed more details regarding an incident with a photoresist material at its Fab 14B earlier this year. The contaminated chemical damaged wafers on TSMC’s 12 nm and 16 nm lines, and the company now expects the full impact of the event to reduce their revenue by a whopping $550 million in the first quarter.

TSMC said that a batch of photoresist it used included a specific element which was abnormally treated, creating a foreign polymer in the photoresist. The problem was detected late when the wafer yeilds were lower than expected. As it turns out, consequences of the photoresist incident at Fab 14B were more serious than initially calculated by TSMC. There are media reports claiming that between 10,000 and 30,000 wafers were affected and had to be scrapped, but TSMC has never confirmed either of the numbers.

According to media reports, the affected companies include HiSilicon/Huawei, NVIDIA, and MediaTek, but TSMC has not disclosed names of its customers that suffered from the incident. The only thing that TSMC does confirm is that it has already negotiated new delivery scheduled with its customers.

In any case, the cost of the wafers totals $550 million and they will be made up in Q2. In the meantime, TSMC is pulling in "certain production" from Q2, which will bring in $230 million in additional revenue in Q1. As a result, TSMC’s first quarter earnings are now expected to be between $7 billion and $7.1 billion, down from $7.3 - $7.4 billion predicted in mid-January.

In a bid to avoid similar situations in the future, TSMC will make inspection of incoming materials more thorough and will strengthen inline wafer inspection. The company also indicated that it will need better controls because of increasing complexity of leading-edge fabrication technologies.

Related Reading:

Source: TSMC

iPhone supply chain settling down, stabilizing after rough holiday quarter

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Apple's iPhone suppliers are starting to show what could be signs of stabilization following the weaker than anticipated iPhone sales in the holiday quarter, according to JP Morgan, but the company still has to deal with the prospect of the global smartphone market continuing to slow down.

Arctic Freezer 34 eSports DUO Review

We've reviewed a few different coolers from Arctic over the years, with the most recent being the Freezer 33 eSports. Today we look at the latest revision, the Freezer 34 eSports, featuring Arctic's...

Apple Watch 'Flight' spot highlights cellular functionality with airborne acrobatics

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Apple has released a new video for the Apple Watch Series 4 highlighting the freedom the cellular model provides to its users without requiring a nearby iPhone, by showing a runner whisked into the air and transported to the middle of a lake.

Valve withdraws non-video game content from Steam

With the established dominance of Steam, Valve has attempted to expand into multiple markets across the past few years to varying success. Moving forward, it looks as though the company wants to focus on its gaming efforts as it withdraws its movies on-demand section indefinitely.

Originally hosting documentaries such as Indie Game: The Movie back in 2013, Steam gradually expanded its library to include Hollywood titles such as Mad Max: Fury Road, John Wick and the movie that went on to inspire much of Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid, Escape From New York. While a handful of gaming-related content such as Deliverance: The Making of Kingdom Come remains, not to be confused with the graphic 1972 title also called Deliverance, Valve has removed its selection in order to refocus.

“In reviewing what Steam users actually watch, it became clear we should focus our effort on offering content that is either directly related to gaming or, is accessory content for games or software sold on Steam,” explains the blog post. “As part of this refocus, we have retired the Video section of the Steam Store menu with an expectation that video content is discovered via the associated game or software store page, or through search, user tags, recommendations, etc.”

Users that have already bought content from the Steam Store will be able to access it from their library, while content is slowly stripped from sale over the next few weeks. This is sure to annoy some who were hoping to build a formidable library of movies alongside their video games, but there are digital alternatives such as Amazon, iTunes and more.

KitGuru Says: Many Steam users found themselves asking Valve “why” when movies were originally introduced to the platform, with myself included. As interesting as it is to see the company diversify, it always felt a little out of place among the gaming and social features pushed by the platform. Do you feel as though Valve is making the right decision, backing away from on-demand movies?  

Analysts: seasonality and high inventory behind RAM price drop

PC DDR4 pricing back to where it was in Oct 2016. Further declines expected in Q1 and Q2.