Windows

A Naysayer's Take On Windows 10: Potential Privacy Mess, and Worse 103 103

Lauren Weinstein writes: I had originally been considering accepting Microsoft's offer of a free upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10. After all, reports have suggested that it's a much more usable system than Windows 8/8.1 — but of course in keeping with the 'every other MS release of Windows is a dog' history, that's a pretty low bar. However, it appears that MS has significantly botched their deployment of Windows 10. I suppose we shouldn't be surprised, even though hope springs eternal. Since there are so many issues involved, and MS is very aggressively pushing this upgrade, I'm going to run through key points here quickly, and reference other sites' pages that can give you more information right now. But here's my executive summary: You may want to think twice, or three times, or many more times, about whether or not you wish to accept the Windows 10 free upgrade on your existing Windows 7 or 8/8.1 system. Now that we're into the first week of widespread availability for the new version, if you're a Windows user and upgrader, has your experience been good, horrible, or someplace between?
Android

OnePlus Announces OnePlus 2 'Flagship Killer' Android Phone With OxygenOS 148 148

MojoKid writes: The OnePlus 2 was officially unveiled [Monday] evening and it has been announced that the smartphone will start at an competitively low $329, unlocked and contract free. The entry level price nets you a 5.5" 1080p display, a cooler-running 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1 SoC paired with 3GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a 13MP rear camera (with OIS, laser focusing and two-tone flash), 5MP selfie camera, and dual nano SIM slots. If you don't mind handing over an extra $60, you'll receive 4GB of RAM to back the processor and 64GB of internal storage. Besides beefing up the internal specs, OnePlus has also paid some attention to the exterior of the device, giving it a nice aluminum frame and a textured backplate. There are a number of optional materials that you can choose from including wood and Kevlar. Reader dkatana links to InformationWeek's coverage, which puts a bit more emphasis on what the phone doesn't come with: NFC. Apparently, people just don't use it as much as anticipated.
AMD

AMD Starts Rolling Out New Linux Driver Model, But Many Issues Remain 61 61

An anonymous reader writes: With the upcoming Linux 4.2 kernel will be the premiere of the new "AMDGPU" kernel driver to succeed the "Radeon" DRM kernel driver, which is part of AMD's long talked about new Linux driver architecture for supporting the very latest GPUs and all future GPUs. Unfortunately for AMD customers, there's still much waiting. The new open-source AMDGPU Linux code works for Tonga/Carrizo GPUs but it doesn't yet support the latest R9 Fury "Fiji" GPUs, lacks re-clocking/DPM for Tonga GPUs leading to low performance, and there are stability issues under high-load OpenGL apps/games. There's also the matter that current Linux users need to jump through hoops for now in getting the code into a working state with the latest kernel and forked versions of Mesa, libdrm, new proprietary microcode files, and the new xf86-video-amdgpu user-space driver.
AMD

AMD Forces a LibreOffice Speed Boost With GPU Acceleration 143 143

New submitter samtuke writes: AMD processors get rated and reviewed based on performance. It is in our self-interest to make things work really, really fast on AMD hardware. AMD engineers contribute to LibreOffice, for good reason. Think about what happens behind a spreadsheet calculation. There can be a huge amount of math. Writing software to take advantage of a Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) for general purpose computing is non-trivial. We know how to do it. AMD engineers wrote OpenCL kernels, and contributed them to the open source code base. Turning on the OpenCL option to enable GPU Compute resulted in a 500X+ speedup, about ¼ second vs. 2minutes, 21 seconds. Those measurements specifically come from the ground-water use sample from this set of Libre Office spreadsheets.
Android

The Android L Update For Nvidia Shield Portable Removes Features 115 115

An anonymous reader writes: For those of us who still remember the Hobson's choice with the 3.21 update of the PS3 firmware, the most recent update to the Nvidia Shield Portable is eerily similar. The update, which is necessary to run recent games and apps that require Android 5.0 APIs, removes some features from the device, and removes the games that were bundled with the device, Sonic 4 Episode II and The Expendables: ReArmed. Nvidia has stressed that it is an optional update, but how many users have been told for months that the update was coming, some of whom may have bought the device after the update was announced, only to find out now they won't receive all the functionality they paid for? How is it still legal for these companies to advertise and sell a whole product but only deliver part of it?
Graphics

Open-Source Mesa 3D Library/Drivers Now Support OpenGL 4 30 30

An anonymous reader writes: The Mesa 3D project that is the basis of the open-source Linux/BSD graphics drivers now supports OpenGL 4.0 and most of OpenGL 4.1~4.2. The OpenGL 4.0 enablement code landed in Mesa Git yesterday/today and more GL 4.1/4.2 patches are currently being reviewed for the Intel, Radeon, and Nouveau open-source GPU drivers.
Upgrades

"Ludicrous Speed" For Tesla's Model S Means 0-60 MPH In 2.8 Seconds 171 171

Automobile Magazine, writes reader Eloking, reports that the highest-end of the Tesla line has just gotten a boost upward, thanks to a new "Ludicrous Speed" mode: In combination with a newly optional 90-kWh battery pack, this new mode brings 0-60 mph acceleration down to 2.8 seconds (from a quoted 3.2 seconds for the P85D model). This larger battery pack is offered as an upgrade from the existing 85-kWh model, creating new 90, 90D, and P90D models. It doesn't come cheap, though: this isn't just a firmware update to download. For P90D owners, the upgrade costs $10,000 (including the larger battery); P85Ds can be upgraded for half that price.
AMD

Air-Cooled AMD Radeon R9 Fury Arrives For $100 Less With Fury X-Like Performance 77 77

MojoKid writes: When AMD launched the liquid-cooled Radeon Fury X, it was obvious the was company willing to commit to new architecture and bleeding edge technologies (Fiji and High-Bandwidth Memory, respectively). However, it fell shy of the mark that enthusiasts hoped it would achieve, unable to quite deliver a definitive victory against NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 980 Ti. However, AMD just launched their Radeon R9 Fury (no "X" and sometimes referred to as "Fury Air"), a graphics card that brings a more compelling value proposition to the table. It's the Fury release that should give AMD a competitive edge against NVIDIA in the $500+ graphics card bracket. AMD's Radeon R9 Fury's basic specs are mostly identical to the liquid-cooled flagship Fury X, except for two important distinctions. There's a 50MHz reduction in GPU clock speed to 1000MHz, and 512 fewer stream processors for a total of 3584, versus what Fury X has on board. Here's the interesting news which the benchmark results demonstrate: In price the Fury veers closer to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980, but in performance it sneaks in awfully close to the GTX 980 Ti.
GUI

Speed-Ups, Small Fixes Earn Good Marks From Ars For Mint 17.2 69 69

Ars Technica reviews the newest release from Linux MInt -- version 17.2, offered with either the Cinnamon desktop, or the lighter-weight MATE, which feels like what Gnome 2 might feel in an alternate universe where Gnome 3 never happened. Reviewer Scott Gilbertson has mostly good things to say about either variety, and notes a few small drawbacks, too. The nits seem to be minor ones, though they might bite some people more than others: Mint, based on Ubuntu deep down, is almost perfectly compatible with Ubuntu packages, but not every one, and this newest version of Mint ships with the 3.16 kernel of Ubuntu 14.04, which means slightly less advanced hardware support. (Gilbertson notes, though, that going with 3.16 means Mint may be the ideal distro if you want to avoid systemd.) "This release sees the Cinnamon developers focusing on some of what are sometimes call "paper cut" fixes, which just means there's been a lot of attention to the details, particularly the small, but annoying problems. For example, this release adds a new panel applet called "inhibit" which temporarily bans all notifications. It also turns off screen locking and stops any auto dimming you have set up, making it a great tool for when you want to watch a video or play a game." More "paper cut" fixes include improved multi-panel options, graphics-refresh tweaks, a way to restart the Cinnamon desktop without killing the contents of a session, graphics-refresh tweaks, and other speed-ups that make this release "noticeably snappier than its predecessor on the same hardware."
Encryption

OpenSSL Patches Critical Certificate Forgery Bug 45 45

msm1267 writes: The mystery OpenSSL patch released today addresses a critical certificate validation issue where anyone with an untrusted TLS certificate can become a Certificate Authority. While serious, the good news according to the OpenSSL Project is that few downstream organizations have deployed the June update where the bug was introduced. From the linked piece: The vulnerability allows an attacker with an untrusted TLS certificate to be treated as a certificate authority and spoof another website. Attackers can use this scenario to redirect traffic, set up man-in-the-middle attacks, phishing schemes and anything else that compromises supposedly encrypted traffic. [Rich Salz, one of the developers] said there are no reports of public exploits.
Microsoft

New Leaked Build Is Evidence That Windows 10 Will Be Ready By July 29 302 302

Ammalgam writes: A new pre-released build of Microsoft's latest Operating System Windows 10 leaked to the internet today. The build (10151) shows a more refined and significantly faster user interface than previous versions of the product. Microsoft seem to be focused on last minute refinements of the UI at this point and the product looks almost ready for prime time. A picture gallery of Windows 10 build 10151 can be found here.
Networking

Scientists Overcome One of the Biggest Limits In Fiber Optic Networks 62 62

Mark.JUK writes: Researchers at the University of California in San Diego have demonstrated a way of boosting transmissions over long distance fiber optic cables and removing crosstalk interference, which would mean no more need for expensive electronic regenerators (repeaters) to keep the signal stable. The result could be faster and cheaper networks, especially on long-distance international subsea cables. The feat was achieved by employing a frequency comb, which acts a bit like a concert conductor; the person responsible for tuning multiple instruments in an orchestra to the same pitch at the beginning of a concert. The comb was used to synchronize the frequency variations of the different streams of optical information (optical carriers) and thus compensate in advance for the crosstalk interference, which could also then be removed.

As a result the team were able to boost the power of their transmission some 20 fold and push data over a "record-breaking" 12,000km (7,400 miles) long fiber optic cable. The data was still intact at the other end and all of this was achieved without using repeaters and by only needing standard amplifiers.
Windows

Ask Slashdot: Are Post-Install Windows Slowdowns Inevitable? 517 517

blackest_k writes: I recently reinstalled Windows 7 Home on a laptop. A factory restore (minus the shovelware), all the Windows updates, and it was reasonably snappy. Four weeks later it's running like a slug, and now 34 more updates to install. The system is clear of malware (there are very few additional programs other than chrome browser). It appears that Windows slows down Windows! Has anyone benchmarked Windows 7 as installed and then again as updated? Even better has anybody identified any Windows update that put the slug into sluggish? Related: an anonymous reader asks: Our organization's PCs are growing ever slower, with direct hard-drive encryption in place, and with anti-malware scans running ever more frequently. The security team says that SSDs are the only solution, but the org won't approve SSD purchases. It seems most disk scanning could take place after hours and/or under a lower CPU priority, but the security team doesn't care about optimization, summarily blaming sluggishness on lack of SSDs. Are they blowing smoke?
AMD

AMD Radeon R9 Fury X Launched, Independent Benchmarks, HBM Put To the Test 103 103

MojoKid writes: AMD officially launched the Radeon R9 Fury X based on their next generation Fiji GPU and HBM 3D stacked DRAM memory. Fiji is manufactured using TSMC's 28nm process. At its reference clocks of 1050MHz (GPU) and 500MHz (HBM), Fiji and the Radeon R9 Fury X offer peak compute performance of 8.6 TFLOPs, up to 268.8 GT/s of texture fill-rate, 67.2 GP/s of pixel fill-rate, and a whopping 512GB/s of memory bandwidth, thanks to HBM. Its compute performance, memory bandwidth, and textured fill-rate are huge upgrades over the previous generation AMD Hawaii GPU and even outpace NVIDIA's GM200, which powers the GeForce Titan X and 980 Ti. To keep the entire assembly cool, AMD strapped a close-loop liquid cooler onto the Fury X. There's a reason AMD went that route on this card, and it's not because they had to. There will be air-cooled Fury and Fury Nano cards coming in a few weeks that feature fully-functional Fiji GPUs. What the high-powered liquid-cooler on the Fury X does is allow the use of an ultra-quiet fan, with the side benefit of keeping the GPU very cool under both idle and load conditions(around 60C max under load and 30C at idle), which helps reduce overall power consumption by limiting leakage current. The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X performed very well in the benchmarks, and remained competitive with a similarly priced, reference NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti, but it wasn't a clear win. Generally speaking, the Fury X was the faster of the two cards at 2560x1440. With the resolution cranked up to 3840x2160, however, the Fury X and 980 Ti trade victories.
Windows

Windows 10 Will Be Free To Users Who Test It 281 281

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft has been making a big push to change its business model for Windows — likely due to the low/no cost updates you can get for competing operating systems. The company surprised everyone when it said legit copies of Windows 7 and 8 would be supplied with free upgrades, but now they're extending that even further: anyone who tests the Windows 10 Technical Preview will get a free upgrade to the full version of Windows 10 when it comes out. In a blog post, Microsoft's Gabe Aul said, "As long as you are running an Insider Preview build and connected with the [Microsoft account] you used to register, you will receive the Windows 10 final release build and remain activated. Once you have successfully installed this build and activated, you will also be able to clean install on that PC from final media if you want to start over fresh."
Programming

ECMAScript 6 Is Officially a JavaScript Standard 80 80

rjmarvin writes: The ECMAScript 6 specification is now a standard. ES6 is the first major revision to the programming language since 1999 and its hallmark features include a revamped syntax featuring classes and modules. The Ecma General Assembly officially approved the specification at its June meeting in France, ECMAScript project editor Allen Wirfs-Brock announced.
XBox (Games)

Microsoft Announces Customizable Xbox Elite Wireless Controller 99 99

MojoKid writes: Today, Microsoft announced that later this year, it will be releasing what could be the "ultimate" Xbox and Windows game controller. Called Xbox Elite Wireless, this gamepad has a dramatically overhauled D-pad and four paddles underneath. Other features that make this gamepad special: there are trigger locks, the ability to customize thumbstick sensitivity, along with the level of travel for the top triggers. In addition, it also sports swappable components, like the paddles, etc. Pricing has been announced at $149 and given just how advanced this gamepad is over the original, it's understandable but still pretty steep.
Input Devices

Logitech Introduces G29, G920 Racing Wheels For PS3, PS4, Xbox One and PC 67 67

MojoKid writes: If you're an ardent PC racing fiend, chances are that you either own or have heard of Logitech's G27. The G27 has been a popular gaming peripheral (it supports the PC, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3) that not only includes a steering wheel and three pedals (accelerator, brake, clutch), but also a six-speed "H" pattern gearbox. Today, Logitech is finally introducing successors, the G29 Driving Force Racing Wheel and the G920 Driving Force Racing Wheel for PS3 and PS4, as well as PC and Xbox One racers, respectively. Both wheels are equipped with dual-motor force feedback, 900-degree (2.5 turns to lock) steering, helical gearing, and anti-backlash hardware. Logitech is also hoping to impart a premium feel to its new controllers courtesy of a hand-stitched leather wheel, stainless steel paddle shifters, and steel ball bearings to stand up to abuse. Like its predecessor, the G29 and G920 both come with a separate, floor-mounted three-pedal unit to keep your feet busy when blasting around the Nürburgring. Unfortunately, the six-speed shifter unit that used to come standard in the box with the G27 is now an optional accessory. The G29 will be available this July, while the G920 won't arrive at retailers until October.
Media

MediaGoblin 0.8.0 "A Gallery of Fine Creatures" Released 32 32

paroneayea writes: GNU MediaGoblin has released version 0.8.0 dubbed "A Gallery of Fine Creatures". This release includes a number of improvements including an upgrade to GStreamer 1.0, improved video thumbnailing, and preliminary Python 3 support. Additionally, an improved Social API support making use of the Pump API means that existing pump.io clients like Pumpa and Dianara are now compatible with MediaGoblin. This coincides with work underway by MediaGoblin developers working with the W3C Social Working Group to build a general federation standard, of which a draft submission to the group is already in progress.