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Portables (Apple)

No New MacBook Airs as Apple Instead Makes Lower-End, $1,500 MacBook Pro ( 142

Alongside the two new MacBook Pros, Apple also unveiled a refresh for its popular MacBook Air lineup. The company is calling this: the MacBook Pro, same branding as the other two MacBook Pros. It's a lower-end version of the new MacBook Pros, with no "Touch Bar" (or the Touch ID) and is powered by a slightly slower processor. Starting at $1,499, this MacBook Pro model is slightly cheaper too, though. From an ArsTechnica report:Apple said it will continue selling the existing 13" MacBook Air, but the company made a point of comparing that model to this new lower-end Pro, putting it somewhere between the Air and the other Pros in the lineup. The new 13" MacBook Pro starts at $1,499 and will begin shipping today. The new higher-end Pros will start at $1,799 for the 13" model and $2,399 for the 15" model while shipping in two to three weeks. If you don't select any hardware upgrades, the low-end 13" Pro has a sixth-generation Intel Core i5 processor with dual cores clocked at 2.0GHz, Intel Iris Graphics 540, 8GB memory, and 256GB SSD. It is available in space grey and silver, and it can cost up to $2,599 if you select the highest CPU, memory, and storage upgrades. Those available upgrades include a 2.4GHz Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, and 512GB or 1TB of SSD storage. The new 13" laptop has a 2560x1600 Retina display, two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, and a headphone jack. It has the same Force Touch trackpad and redesigned keyboard as the higher-end models despite not integrating the Touch Bar and Touch ID.
Portables (Apple)

Apple Unveils New MacBook Pro Featuring OLED Touch Bar, Touch ID - Powered By Intel Skylake Processor ( 298

At an event on Thursday, Apple unveiled the new 2016 MacBook Pro. The redesigned MacBook Pro comes with "incredible extreme" all-metal body. The main attraction of the new MacBook Pro is an OLED touch strip at the top that Apple is calling the Touch Bar. The Touch Bar comes with a fingerprint scanner Touch ID that users can tap to log-in quickly to their computer as well as make online payments. The touch strip offers on-screen button that changes according to the application you're running. Schiller, Apple SVP, said it was time Apple gotten rid of the dedicated function keys. The new MacBook Pro is thinner and lighter than the existing model, and it is powerful too. It comes in two screen sizes: 13-inch, which weighs 3 pounds and measures 14.9mm -- down from 18mm from older MacBook Pro. The trackpad is larger too, Apple says, twice as larger than the older one. Also, it's Force Touch trackpad. ArsTechnica adds: Both laptops are still recognizably MacBook Pros, but in keeping with Apple's design priorities they've got slimmer profiles and smaller footprints. This is made possible in part by the move to USB Type-C ports like the one in the MacBook, all four of which support Thunderbolt 3. All four ports can be used to charge the system, too. Compared to the measly one port in the MacBook, the MacBook Pros are much more appealing to people who plug lots of stuff into their computers at once. Apple has also made the cowardly decision to retain the headset jack. Both systems include new Intel Skylake processors -- dual-core chips in the 13-inch Pro and quad-core chips in the 15-inch model, just like before. The 13-inch Pros ship exclusively with Intel Iris 540 GPUs, while the 15-inch models ship with Polaris-based AMD Radeon graphics at the high-end.The 13-inch model MacBook Pro starts at $1,799, whereas the 15-inch model starts at $2,399.

Microsoft Unveils Windows 10 Creators Update, Coming in Early 2017 ( 90

Microsoft today announced Creators Update for Windows 10. The company said Creators Update will release with a slew of new features at no charge in early 2017. From a report on Fortune: The Windows 10 Creators Update lets users on mobile devices take three-dimensional photos by scanning an object as they walk around it. It also allows for 3D graphics in Microsoft's popular PowerPoint presentation software, and a new "Paint 3D" application lets people edit photos and other designs in three dimensions. Terry Myerson, Microsoft's executive vice president for the Windows and devices group, said the update was tailored for gamers who are increasingly interested in augmented and virtual reality experiences. "Windows 10 will be your platform for gaming glory," he said at a product launch event in New York.

Benchmark Battle October 2016: Chrome Vs. Firefox Vs. Edge ( 134

Krystalo quotes a report from VentureBeat: It's been more than a year since our last browser benchmark battle, and the competition remains fierce. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge have all gained a variety of new features and improvements over the past year. It's time to see if any of them have managed to pull ahead of the pack. It appears that Edge has made the biggest gains since last year. That said, browser performance is improving at a very rapid pace, and it shouldn't be your only consideration when picking your preferred app for consuming Internet content. You can click on individual tests below to see the details:

SunSpider: Edge wins!
Octane: Edge wins!
Kraken: Chrome wins!
JetStream: Edge wins!
Oort Online: Firefox wins!
Peacekeeper: Firefox wins!
WebXPRT: Edge wins!
HTML5Test: Chrome wins!

You can also read all about the setup used for the benchmark tests here. VentureBeat used a custom desktop PC, featuring an Intel Core i5 4440 processor (6M Cache, 3.10 GHz), 8GB of DDR3 1600MHz RAM, a 500GB SATA hard drive (7200 RPM), an Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 graphics card, and a 24-inch widescreen LED monitor (1920 x 1080).
PlayStation (Games)

Mark Cerny, Chief PlayStation Architect, Explains the PS4 Pro ( 71

Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro, which launches next month on November 10th, is the company's most powerful console that will be capable of outputting 4K and HDR content, including movies, TV shows and games. In an effort to find out how developers will make use of the console and whether or not the PS4 Pro will in any way undermine the audience of the current PS4, The Verge sat down with Mark Cerny, Sony's chief PlayStation architect, and asked him some questions. The Verge reports: The PS4 Pro is 2.28 times more powerful than its predecessor, but not everything will run in native 4K
Instead of using an entirely new GPU, Cerny said the PS4 Pro is using a "double-sauced one." In effect, the new console has a second, identical GPU configured next to the original, more than doubling the processing power of the Pro. While the standard PS4 produces 1.8 teraflops, the PS4 Pro achieves 4.2 teraflops. This is how the device can achieve native 4K and, in some cases, what Cerny said are results "extremely close to 4K." For select software, including games like adventure title Horizon Zero Dawn and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, the PS4 Pro will use a crafty technique called checkerboard rendering to achieve 2160p resolution. Checkboard rendering changes the formation of pixels to achieve higher-fidelity graphics.

Standard PS4 games will play just the same unless devs patch them
For the more than 700 or so existing PS4 games, Cerny said the goal was to ensure those titles played smoothly no matter what. That's why the Pro incorporates an identical GPU. Because the new console has "the old GPU next to a mirror version of itself," Sony can support existing games with a simple trick: "We just turn off the second GPU," he said. Developers can patch these titles to boost graphics and performance in very subtle ways. But unless you have a 4K television, the difference will not be substantial.

Sony says it doesn't want games released solely for the PS4 Pro
When asked whether Sony would ever let a game run exclusively on the PS4 Pro, Cerny was blunt. "We're putting a very high premium on not splitting the user base in that fashion," he said. That doesn't rule out the possibility that, two or even three years down the line, a game comes out that relies so heavily on the hardware improvements of the Pro that it becomes unplayable on the standard PS4. Cerny wouldn't really speak much to that scenario, saying that Sony is asking developers to take advantage of the new console without leaving older hardware behind.
You can also watch Mark Cerny chat with PlayStation Blog's Sid Shuman about the creation of the PS4 Pro here on YouTube.
Operating Systems

Ubuntu 16.10 Released, Ready to Download ( 78

After six months of development, Ubuntu 16.10, the latest stable release of the world's most popular desktop Linux distro, is now available to download. The ISO image file of Ubuntu 16.10 is a little larger (up from 1.4GB to 1.5GB). OMGUbuntu talks about the new features (condensed): Ubuntu 16.10 is not a big update over Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, released back in April. If you were hoping it'd be a compelling or must-have upgrade you'll be sadly disappointed. There are a number of small improvements to the Unity desktop and the Compiz window manager that powers it. Improvements that help everything work that little bit faster, and that little bit smoother. Ubuntu 16.10 also performs better in virtual machines thanks to the new Unity Low Graphics Mode. An all-new version of the Nautilus file manager also features, and is packed with some significant UI and UX differences. Plus, as always, there's a newer Linux kernel to enjoy.
Portables (Apple)

Apple MacBook Refresh Could Bring E-Ink Enabled Keyboard ( 159

MojoKid writes from a report via HotHardware: Apparently Apple has been working on some unique upgrades to its MacBook line, and not just underneath the hood. One of the bigger feature upgrades could actually be in the keyboard. As previously rumored, the new MacBook Pro is likely to sport a secondary touchscreen display at the top of the keyboard. It will sit in place of where the Function keys used to reside and display different graphics and icons, depending on the program that's up and running. However, according to an anonymous reddit user named "Foxconninsider," Apple's also planning to launch a new version of its Magic Keyboard -- one that takes advantage of E-Ink technology. Similar technology was developed by a start-up company named Sonder, the same company Apple is in the process of acquiring. What the tipster describes is each key having its own E Ink display. That means individual keys and/or entire rows can change based on whatever app is loaded. In any event, we should know more soon -- Apple's expected to announce new MacBook products later this month.

Fedora 25 Beta Released With GNOME 3.22 and Linux Kernel 4.8.1 37

Reader prisoninmate writes: Fedora Project released of the Beta milestone of the upcoming Fedora 25 Linux operating system, due for release in mid-November. Powered by Linux kernel 4.8.1, the Fedora 25 Beta is shipping with the recently released GNOME 3.22 desktop environment, which is enabled by default on top of a Wayland 1.12 session for the Workstation Edition). Of course, you'll also find the latest software versions, including the LibreOffice 5.2.2 office suite, Flatpak 0.6.12, Mozilla Firefox 49.0 web browser, and LibVirt 2.2.0. Additionally, users will find the Mesa 12.0.3 3D Graphics Library for better and faster graphics support, OpenSSH 7.3p1 and OpenSSL 1.0.2j for improved security, Python 3.5.2, Samba 4.5.0, systemd 231, TigerVNC 1.7.0, and the latest Git snapshot of the upcoming X.Org Server 1.19.0 display server. Fedora 25 Beta Workstation is available for download now.
Open Source

Linux Mint Unveils New 'Mintbox Mini Pro' Desktop ( 70

It's been 18 months since the original Mintbox Mini launched, and this week saw the release of the new Mintbox Mini Pro (which costs just $100 more). BrianFagioli quotes BetaNews: That extra money gets you a faster processor, more powerful graphics, double the storage, twice the RAM, improved Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and an additional Ethernet port... This diminutive desktop is the same size as the previously-released Mintbox... Thankfully, it retains the same cute appearance and Linux Mint branding.
Their article calls it a "beautiful little computer that comes pre-loaded with Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon (64-bit)," and the Linux Mint blog promises this fanless device offers "better passive cooling thanks to an all-metal black housing" -- and comes with six different USB ports.

Microsoft Forms New AI Research Group Led By Harry Shum ( 43

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: A day after announcing a new artificial intelligence partnership with IBM, Google, Facebook and Amazon, Microsoft is upping the ante within its own walls. The tech giant announced that it is creating a new AI business unit, the Microsoft AI and Research Group, which will be led by Microsoft Research EVP Harry Shum. Shum will oversee 5,000 computer scientists, engineers and others who will all be "focused on the company's AI product efforts," the company said in an announcement. The unit will be working on all aspects of AI and how it will be applied at the company, covering agents, apps, services and infrastructure. Shum has been involved in some of Microsoft's biggest product efforts at the ground level of research, including the development of its Bing search engine, as well as in its efforts in computer vision and graphics: that is a mark of where Microsoft is placing its own priority for AI in the years to come. Important to note that Microsoft Research unit will no longer be its on discrete unit -- it will be combined with this new AI effort. Research had 1,000 people in it also working on areas like quantum computing, and that will now be rolled into the bigger research and development efforts being announced today. Products that will fall under the new unit will include Information Platform, Cortana and Bing, and Ambient Computing and Robotics teams led by David Ku, Derrick Connell and Vijay Mital, respectively. The Microsoft AI and Research Group will encompass AI product engineering, basic and applied research labs, and New Experiences and Technologies (NExT), Microsoft said.

No Man's Sky Under Investigation For False Advertising ( 261

No Man's Sky is one of the most talked about games this year. The game sees the protagonist explore the space and experience uncertain places. But its controversial promotional material may also have played an instrumental role in making the title a sleeper-hit success. Polygon reports: No Man's Sky's promotional material has come under fire since launch, and it's now the subject of an ongoing investigation. The U.K.-based Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) confirmed to Polygon that it's received "several complaints about No Man's Sky's advertising," which angry customers have criticized as misleading. "I can confirm we have received several complaints about No Man's Sky advertising and we have launched an investigation," the ASA told Polygon. A representative for the ASA declined to comment on the particulars of the investigation, but a thread on the No Man Sky's subreddit details some of the most prominent issues Steam users have with the game's store page, which they passed on to the organization. Screens and video on Steam suggest a different type of combat, unique buildings, "ship flying behaviour" and creature sizes than what's found in the actual game itself. The store page overall has also been criticized for showing No Man's Sky with higher quality graphics than can be attained in-game.

Microsoft and Sony Are Debating Over Whose Console Really Offers 'True 4K' ( 147

Sony's PlayStation 4, which will go on sales in two months, comes loaded with rendering pipeline and some proprietary upscaling techniques that can improve lower resolution base signals to take fuller advantage of a 4K display. Microsoft is seemingly upset with how Sony is marketing this, and it is not shying from telling people that no amount of upscaling can fill in those missing 4K pixels and the hardware inefficiency to produce native and "true 4K" images that the Project Scorpio, its gaming console that is coming next year can. Microsoft has also said that any game that it will launch during the Scorpio timeframe will "natively render at 4K." But the debate is anything from over because Microsoft keeps reminding everyone that the processor and GPU in its upcoming console is more powerful. As ArsTechnica explains: With Scorpio, Microsoft seems to be arguing that every first-party game at launch will be able to generate and render nearly 8.3 million pixels (four times as many as a 1080p game) at an acceptable frame rate (i.e., at least 30 times a second). That would be quite an achievement. As we noted back at E3, it currently takes pricey, high-end PC graphics cards like the Nvidia GTX 1080 or the AMD R9 Fury X -- cards that run $300 or much higher -- to "barely scrape by" with a native 4K, 30fps game. And those PC cards seem to have significantly more raw power than what is being claimed by Microsoft -- 9 and 8.4 teraflops, respectively, vs. a claimed 6 teraflops for Scorpio (and 4.2 teraflops for the PS4 Pro).Microsoft's head of Xbox planning, Albert Penello said, "I know that 4.2 teraflops is not enough to do true 4K." In an interview with Eurogamer, Penello adds:I think there are a lot of caveats they're giving customers right now around 4K. They're talking about checkerboard rendering and up-scaling and things like that. There are just a lot of asterisks in their marketing around 4K, which is interesting because when we thought about what spec we wanted for Scorpio, we were very clear we wanted developers to take their Xbox One engines and render them in native, true 4K. That was why we picked the number, that's why we have the memory bandwidth we have, that's why we have the teraflops we have, because it's what we heard from game developers was required to achieve native 4K.

Run Android 6.0 Marshmallow on Your PC With Android-x86 6.0 ( 90

This week saw the first stable release of Android-x86 6.0 (marshmallow-x86) -- and a new version of Remix OS for PC, a PC-optimized version of Android. Slashdot reader prisoninmate quotes Softpedia: Android-x86 6.0 has been in the works since early this year, and it received a total of two RC (Release Candidate) builds during its entire development cycle, one in June and another in August. After joining the Remix OS team, Chih-Wei Huang now has all the reasons to update and improve its Android-x86 system for the latest Android releases. Therefore, as you might have guessed already, Android-x86 6.0 is the first stable version of the project to be based on Google's Linux kernel-based Android 6.0 Marshmallow mobile operating system, and includes the most recent AOSP (Android Open Source Project) security updates too.

Under the hood, Android-x86 6.0 is using the long-term supported Linux 4.4.20 kernel with an updated graphics stack based on Mesa 12.0.2 3D Graphics Library, and offers support for Samsung's F2FS file system for SSD drives, better Wi-Fi support after resume and suspend, and initial HDMI audio support.


A Very Detailed Dissection of a Frame From DOOM ( 113

DOOM 2016 "cleverly re-uses old data computed in the previous frames...1331 draw calls, 132 textures and 50 render targets," according to a new article which takes a very detailed look at the process of rendering one 16-millisecond frame. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: The game released earlier this year uses the Vulkan API to push graphics quality and performance at new levels. The article sheds light on rendering techniques, mega-textures, reflection computation... all the aspects of a modern game engine.
Some of the information came from "The Devil is in the Details," a July presentation at the SIGGRAPH 2016 conferences on graphics by Tiago Sousa, id's lead renderer programmer, and senior engine programmer Jean Geffroy. (And there's also more resources at the end of the article, including a July interview with five id programmers by Digital Foundry.) "Historically id Software is known for open-sourcing their engines after a few years, which often leads to nice remakes and breakdowns," the article notes. "Whether this will stand true with id Tech 6 remains to be seen but we don't necessarily need the source code to appreciate the nice graphics techniques implemented in the engine."

Apple Announces Apple Watch Series 2 With GPS, Water-Resistance and Faster Performance ( 88

In addition to two shiny new iPhones, Apple has announced its second generation Apple Watch today, calling it the Apple Watch Series 2. The appearance is nearly identical to the original Apple Watch, with the exception of the new (optional) ceramic build material. The biggest changes can be found under the hood. The Verge reports: "The built-in GPS allows the device to perform mapping on its own, no phone required. The company also upgraded the processor in the device, now called the S2, and the display. The Series 2 has a dual-core processor Apple says is 50 percent faster than its predecessor, with double the graphics performance thanks to a new GPU. The display is now 50 percent brighter as well. The company also renewed its longstanding partnership with Nike with a special Nike+ version of the Apple Watch. It resembles a fusion of an Apple product with Nike's discontinued FuelBand fitness tracker, and it's designed for runners and workout junkies. The aluminum sport version of the Apple Watch Series 2 will start at $369, as will the Nike+ edition. The original Apple Watch is being rebranded as Series 1 and will start at $269, though it will come with the upgraded S2 dual-core processor. Preorders start on September 9th, while the watchOS 3 update will go live on September 13th."
Operating Systems

PC-BSD Follows a Rolling Release Model, Gets Renamed To TrueOS 132

prisoninmate quotes a report from Softpedia: By following a rolling release model, TrueOS promises to be a cutting-edge and modern FreeBSD-based operating system for your personal computer, designed with security and simplicity in mind -- all while being stable enough to be deployed on servers. TrueOS will also make use of the security technologies from the OpenBSD project, and you can get your hands on the first Beta ISO images right now. The development team promises to offer you weekly ISO images of TrueOS, but you won't have to download anything anymore due to constant updates thanks to the rolling release model. TrueOS will use LibreSSL instead of OpenSSL, offer Linux DRM 4.7 compatibility for supporting for Intel Skylake, Haswell, and Broadwell graphics, and uses the pkg package manage system by default. "TrueOS combines the convenience of a rolling release distribution with the failsafe technology of boot environments, resulting in a system that is both current and reliable. TrueOS now tracks FreeBSD's 'Current' brand and merges features from select FreeBSD developer branches to enhance support for newer hardware and technologies," reads today's announcement.

Players Seek 'No Man's Sky' Refunds, Sony's Content Director Calls Them Thieves ( 467

thegarbz writes: As was covered previously on Slashdot the very hyped up game No Man's Sky was released to a lot of negative reviews about game-crashing bugs and poor interface choices. Now that players have had more time to play the game it has become clear that many of the features hyped by developers are not present in the game, and users quickly started describing the game as "boring".

Now, likely due to misleading advertising, Steam has begun allowing refunds for No Man's Sky regardless of playtime, and there are reports of players getting refunds on the Play Station Network as well despite Sony's strict no refund policy.
Besides Sony, Amazon is also issuing refunds, according to game sites. In response, Sony's former Strategic Content Director, Shahid Kamal Ahmad, wrote on Twitter, "If you're getting a refund after playing a game for 50 hours you're a thief." He later added "Here's the good news: Most players are not thieves. Most players are decent, honest people without whose support there could be no industry."

In a follow-up he acknowledged it was fair to consider a few hours lost to game-breaking crashes, adding "Each case should be considered on its own merits and perhaps I shouldn't be so unequivocal."

Canon Unveils EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR ( 160

It's been a little more than 4 year since Canon unveiled the EOS 5D Mark III. Today, Canon took the wraps off its successor -- the EOS 5D Mark IV. The Mark IV features a 34-megapixel, full-frame CMOS sensor and Digic 6+ processor with support for capturing 4K video at 23.98, 24, 25 and 30 fps. In addition, it features a 61-point autofocus system, built-in digital lens optimizer, NFC, Wi-Fi and an ISO range of 100-32,000. The continuous shooting mode is set at 7 fps, compared to 6 fps on the 5D Mark III. It will also take both CompactFlash and SD cards, and there is GPS included in the body for geotagging images. Canon is selling the Mark IV in early September for $3,499 for the body only. They're also selling two new L-series EF lenses -- the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens and EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Standard Zoom Lens. President and COO, Canon U.S.A., Inc, Yichi Ishizuka said in a statement: "Canon's EOS 5D series of DSLR cameras has a history of being at the forefront of still and video innovation. And today, we add to this family of cameras the EOS 5D Mark IV -- the first in our 5D series to offer 4K video and built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity. In developing this new DSLR camera, we listened to the requests of current EOS users to create for them a modern, versatile camera designed to help them create and share beautiful still and video imagery." Here's a blast from the past: Canon's EOS 1Ds Mark II. Slashdot reader LoudMusic submitted this story back in 2004, highlighting the camera's "802.11a/g and wired networking capabilities."

Microsoft Details Its 24-Core 'Holographic Processor' Used In HoloLens ( 113

The processor powering Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality headset has been a mystery -- until now. During the annual Hot Chips conference in Cupertino, California, Microsoft revealed some juicy details about the secretive chip. PCWorld reports: "The HoloLens' HPU is a custom 28nm coprocessor designed by TSMC, The Register reports. The chip packs 24 Tensilica digital signal processor (DSP) cores. As opposed to more general-purpose CPU cores, DSPs are a specialized technology designed for rapidly processing data flowing in from the world -- a no doubt invaluable asset while rendering augmented reality environments in real time. Microsoft's HPU also contains roughly 65 million logic gates, 8MB of SDRAM, and 1GB of traditional DDR3 RAM. It draws less than 10W of power, and features PCIe and standard serial interfaces. The HPU's dedicated hardware is up to 200 times faster than performing the same calculations via software on the less-specialized 14nm Intel Cherry Trail CPU. Microsoft added custom instructions to the DSP cores that allow the HPU to churn through HoloLens-specific tasks even faster, The Register reports. The HPU can perform roughly 1 trillion calculations per second, and the data it passes to the CPU requires little additional processing."

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