Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 17112 Breaks Windows Mixed Reality

Microsoft released Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 17112 to the Insider fast ring, but if you have a Windows Mixed Reality headset, you should opt out. The company warned that this release has an issue that causes crashing and poor frame rates, which could cause discomfort.

Microsoft’s Windows 10 Insider Program offers users a chance to test out the latest Windows features before the general public. Microsoft offers two channels for the Insider Program: You can hop on the Slow ring, which gives you access to builds that are nearly ready for prime time. Or you can hop on the Fast ring, which puts you at the forefront of public testing. The Windows 10 Insider Program is in effect Microsoft’s beta program, and as such, each time you install a new insider build you run the risk of encountering problems.

In this case, the company deemed Build 17112 stable enough for desktop use, but Windows MR users should steer clear.

Microsoft said that it is aware of an issue with Windows Mixed Reality in the newest Fast ring release that causes the platform to operate at an abysmal frame rate that could trigger severe motion sickness. The company said that the Windows MR environment renders at 8 to 10 fps on this build—if it runs at all. Microsoft also said that you could encounter one or more crashes that cause Windows MR to stop functioning.

If you’re enrolled in the Windows 10 Insider Fast ring, and you have a Windows MR headset that you wish to continue to use, you can opt out temporarily to skip this release. To stop receiving preview builds, go to Settings, Update & Security, and then Windows Insider Program. Here you’ll find a button called “Stop Insider Preview Builds,” which has an option to “Pause updates for a bit.” 

Oh, And It Might Break The Microsoft Store, Too

The list of known issues in Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 17112 makes us wonder why Microsoft even rolled this build out in the first place. The build addresses several bugs, but it comes with more severe bugs in tow. In addition to Build 17112 breaking the Windows Mixed Reality platform, the new build also comes with a chance that it could break the Microsoft Store. Microsoft said that the Microsoft Store could “disappear altogether” upon installing the latest Fast ring release. Microsoft has a workaround to bring the store back.

Even more alarming is the fact that Microsoft received reports that a “small number of devices” fail to load the OS after receiving the update and going through a manual reboot. The company said that these systems go into a boot loop sequence that could require a bootable ISO or USB stick to recover. You can try disabling fast boot, but if that fails, you must repair your OS install.

You Won’t Be Missing Much

If you’re a member of the Insider Fast ring and opt out of the latest preview build, you won’t be missing much. The new release includes several bug fixes, but they don’t appear to be for critical problems, and it doesn’t include any new features to which you wouldn’t already have access.

Microsoft’s release notes indicate that the company corrected a bug that launched the Xbox app after taking an in-game screenshot. It also corrected several issues involving hard drives, such as the EFI and Recovery partitions showing up in Defrag & Optimize Drives, optimization of hard drives, and a bug in File Explorer that would list more free space than is actually available.

Microsoft also addressed a handful of stability issues, such as a bug that would cause Edge windows to go black when you separate a tab from the rest of the browser and move it around in a specific way. The bug fix list also indicates that ShellExperienceHost should no longer trigger hibernating devices to awaken when you have active live tiles pinned to start.

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Cougar Releases Glass-Clad Panzer-G Chassis

Cougar released the Panzer-G mid-tower chassis, a new case that sports smoked glass panels and a ruggedly styled frame to create an aesthetic that’s neither conservative nor overly flashy.

When you think of armor, you wouldn’t normally think of glass, but that juxtaposition is pretty apt for Cougar’s new Panzer-G. Glass covers its left, right, top, and front sides, leaving the edges of its frame as the only place where any kind of styling can really occur. Like other cases that bear the Panzer name, the Panzer-G has a symmetrical frame that resembles metal crossbars. Exposed hex screws are part of the small details that add to the case’s industrial look. The glass front panel may not allow as much airflow as a mesh one would, but it does expose the three orange LED-lit fans behind it, and those are pretty much the only source of color on this black-on-black case.

Moving to the internals, the case supports ATX motherboards up to 267mm in depth, GPUs up to 400mm in length, and standard-size ATX power supplies. Hard drives aren’t stored in a drive cage on the Panzer-G. Instead, two 3.5” drives and two 2.5” drives can hang vertically on the back of the motherboard tray, while two more 2.5” drives can sit on the floorplate.

For cooling, the Panzer-G has a similar configuration to many mid and mini-towers that we’ve seen recently. At the front, three 120mm or two 140mm fans with a radiator can be installed. The top of the case can accommodate the same configuration. Finally, the back and bottom of the case can each mount a single 120mm fan with radiator.

The Panzer-G is nowhere near as interesting as the recently reviewed Conquer, but that was an exception compared to the the products that Cougar usually makes. However, as far as glass-clad mid-towers go, the Panzer-G still has more style than some of the plain glass boxes we’ve seen.

The Cougar Panzer-G is available now on Newegg at $120.

Product Corsair Panzer-G
Type Mid Tower
Motherboard Support ATX up to 267mm, mATX, Mini-ITX
Dimensions (W x D X H) 208 x 565 x 520mm
Space Above Motherboard Unknown
Card Length 400mm
Power Supply Format PS/2
Weight Unknown
External Bays X
Internal Bays 2 x 3.5″, 4 x 2.5″
Card Slots 7
Port / Jacks 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, Mic In, Audio Out
Other X
Front Fans 3 x 120mm (included, LED) or 2 x 140mm
Rear Fans 1 x 120mm
Top Fans 3 x 120mm or 2 x 140mm
Side Fans X
Dampening X
Price $120

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Trapped Ion Quantum Computers Become Viable With Large Speed Increase

A team of researchers from the University of Oxford were able to drastically increase the speed of trapped-ion logic gates, making it more practical to build a real trapped-ion quantum computer.

Trapped-Ion Quantum Computers

Researchers have been working on multiple types of universal quantum computers since the ’90s. The most popular include superconducting quantum computers (developed by IBM, Google, and Rigetti), silicon quantum computers (researched by the University of New South Wales and Intel), topological quantum computers (researched by Microsoft), and trapped ion quantum computers, such as those researched by the University of Oxford.

All of these types of quantum computers have their pros and cons. The most practical ones seem to be the superconducting kind, so far, as they are the furthest ahead in number of logical qubits and performance.

Potential seen by ions transverse to the trap's main axis - Credit: University of OxfordPotential seen by ions transverse to the trap’s main axis – Credit: University of Oxford
Ions, or charged atomic particles, can be confined through electromagnetic fields. The qubits of a trapped ion quantum computer are stored in the stable electronic state of each ion. Then lasers are applied to entangle qubits or do other operations on them via logic gates.

New Speed Record For Trapped Ion Logic Gates

The logic gates of the trapped-ion quantum computers, which manipulate and perform operations on the qubits, have historically been much slower than their superconducting counter-parts. However, trapped ion quantum computers have much more stable qubits, surpassed only by topological quantum computers.

Researchers from the University of Oxford were able to increase the speed of trapped ion logic gate operations without compromising accuracy. Trapped ion quantum computers tend to have much lower error rates than superconducting qubits because the trapped ion qubits can be easily replicated

In the announcement, the University of Oxford researchers said:

Trapped ions move like a pendulum during the gate operation, but when this process is sped up they become sensitive to a number of factors that cause errors. By making use of a technique that precisely shapes the force on the ions such that the gate performance becomes robust to these factors, we were able to increase the speed by a factor of 20 to 60 compared with the previous best gates – 1.6 microseconds long, with 99.8% precision.

The researchers believe that they have now reached a point where the speed of the logic gates and the fidelity of the qubits is high enough that work can begin to build viable trapped ion quantum computers.

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Ryzen Embedded Powers Smach Z Handheld Gaming PC

The Smach Z, a crowd-funded handheld gaming console with a long history of delays, has been redesigned with AMD’s recently announced Ryzen Embedded processors. With full compatibility for both Windows and Linux, the not-quite-console promises to make PC gaming mobile.

The Smach Z’s story didn’t begin recently. Its Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns date back to 2016, and its developer’s roots can be traced back to the Steamboy of 2014. That project didn’t take off, but the idea of designing a handheld console that can run PC games never faded.

When it was announced, the Smach Z was to be powered by an AMD Merlin Falcon RX-421BD chip. That’s an embedded APU based on AMD’s previous-generation CPU and GPU architectures. The Smach Z didn’t make its initially intended launch date of April 2017, however, and late last year the developers announced that the console was delayed until Q1/Q2 2018.

That decision seems to have been warranted, because the Smach Z is now back with some new and significantly more powerful hardware inside it. From AMD’s presentation material for the new Ryzen Embedded processors, we know that the Smach Z is now powered by a Ryzen Embedded V1000 chip. Given the power and heat requirements of the device’s form factor, only the chips with 12-25W TDPs are compatible: the V1202B and the V1605B. (See specs below.)

The V1605B is a huge step up from the V1202B, with twice as many CPU cores and more than twice the number of GPU compute units. The specifications place the V1605B near the Ryzen 5 2500U mobile CPU, while the V1202B is comparable to the Ryzen 3 2200U. Fortunately for its backers, the Smach Z development team told us the device is using the former. We haven’t tested any of these parts, but AMD’s own performance numbers place the V1605B far above Intel’s i5-8250U, graphics-wise, so it should be able to provide serviceable gaming performance.

On to the device itself. The Smach Z still looks much like the original Steamboy concept. It has circular touchpads on each side of the screen, a thumbstick on the left side, a button pad on the right side, and two trigger switches on each side of the top edge. If you don’t like the touchpads, you can place what the developers call Z-pads in their place. These come in various button configurations. The Smach Z is targeting five hours of gaming time with the built-in battery. That’s a pretty lofty goal, so it’s good that there’s going to be an attachable battery pack that can double the onboard capacity.

The system will run a Linux-based OS by default, but to be able to play Windows games, you’ll need to install your own version of Windows. The cost of that license–and, potentially, the additional storage required to make up for Windows’ install size–should be factored into the Smach Z’s total cost. The developers also say that the Smach Z’s controls might not be suited for navigating Windows, too, so booting straight into Steam’s Big Picture mode is likely ideal.

The Smach Z’s original Kickstarter campaign is over, but you can still back the project on Indiegogo. Bear in mind that all the benchmarks shown there still pertain to the Smach Z’s original–and much slower–AMD Merlin Falcon RX-421BD processor. The Smach Z is no longer being developed with this chip and all production units will have the Ryzen Embedded V1605B. The Smach Z development team told us that the device is currently undergoing final fixes and tweaks, and will soon head into the manufacturing phase with the goal of starting shipment in May. Mass shipment is planned to follow in July.

The cheapest purchase option on Indiegogo that contains the actual device is the $490 option. This is the basic Smach Z with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. There’s a more expensive $690 option that comes with the Smach Z Pro, which is listed with 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and 4G LTE connectivity. The even more expensive $890 option brings the device’s RAM and storage up to 16GB and 256GB, respectively. This is odd given that the device is heavily marketed towards PC gamers. We also don’t know yet which frequency bands the Smach Z Pro’s LTE hardware will support.

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Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Pixel 2

With news from MWC coming thick and faster over the past week, we’ve been getting our hands on all the new models and seeing how they stack up to their biggest rivals.

So with that in mind we’re going to see how the newly announced Samsung Galaxy S9 looks next to the Pixel 2.

Price and Availability

The Samsung Galaxy S9 is available to pre-order now and will release on the 16th of March this year. Pre-ordering will allow you to get the phone a week earlier on the 9th of March.

The standard S9 will set you back £739/$719 while the S9+ costing £869/$839. The S9 while is substantially more expensive than the base model, it will feature a bigger screen, dual cameras, a larger battery and increased storage.

The Pixel 2 is on sale for £629/$599 for the 64GB model and £729/$779 for the 128GB version.

Design and Build

The S9 has been described as an ‘incremental’ upgrade from the S8, so on the design and build front there isn’t much to say. You could confuse the two phones at a glance.

The bezels on the face are slightly smaller, but apart from that it’s pretty identical to the S8 – you’ll have to turn the phone around and look at the back for the obvious differences.

The dual cameras are the big giveaway, and the placement of the fingerprint scanner which has shifted below the camera.

The Pixel 2 does struggle when compared to the S9 in the looks department, the front of the phone contains some very large bezels. These do house stereo front facing speakers which give great sound quality, but do make the phone look a little cheap in comparison to Samsung’s flagship.

The build on both phones is excellent, as you would expect when parting with the best part of £1,000 for a device. They both feel like solid, premium products – but the S9 certainly wins out in the looks department.

Screen

The screen on the S9 measures at 5.8in, while on the S9+ boasts a 6.2in display.

Quad HD+ resolution makes everything on the screen look gorgeous and crisp, with the colours popping out brightly thanks to the SuperAMOLED technology.

The Pixel 2 screen is 5in high, with the XL version being 5.8inc.

The screen is an OLED with 1920 x 1080 resolution and 441ppi. The screen looks great, with the 2 XL offering a higher resolution display as well. They really do stand out among smartphones and are beaten only by, you guessed it, the panels found on Samsung’s phones.

However, it’s always important to keep the price in mind here as the S9 is about 30% more expensive. There is value in that extra 30%, but it’s obviously subjective in it’s importance to you personally.

Processor, memory and storage

Both the S9 and the S9+ are powered by the new Exynos 8910. The octa-core chip is also receiving a bump in speed with the faster four cores ramping up to 2.7 GHz. However, the US and Chinese markets will get an S9+ with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845.

The S9 will feature 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, while the S9+ gets a beefy 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage.

Both phones will be able to expand their storage capacity up to 400GB via the microSD slot as well.

The Pixel 2 features the Snapdragon 835, the favourite from last year, including 4GB of RAM and a 64GB of internal storage which you can also expand with a microSD.

Both of these phones are going to have blistering performance either way, so unless you’re trying to remotely control a spaceship, you’re not going to come into any issues with speed and performance.

Cameras

As development in other areas of smartphone technology starts to slow down, we’re seeing a whole lot of attention put on improving the cameras, and the S9 certainly doesn’t disappoint here.

The S9 still features the Super Speed Dual Pixel camera which is still 12Mp. However, it has a mechanical aperture like a dedicated DSLR. This will automatically adjust between f/2.4 down to f/1.5 depending on how much light is available to the sensor.

The S9+ comes with a second lens which isn’t present on the regular model. This additional lens is a 13Mp telephoto with an f/2.4. Both of these cameras have optical image stabilisation which allows for a lot of versatility in your photo and video taking.

The S9+ can also record in super slow motion, at 960fps at 720p.

The camera on the Pixel 2 is fantastic, and a big improvement on the already brilliant Pixel. Both the Pixel 2 and the 2 XL feature the same camera, so you won’t have to buy a bigger phone to get the best out of the camera, which is a nice change.

The Pixel 2 sports a single 12.2Mp sensor with f/1.8 and optical image stabilisation, and can record 4k video at 30 FPS.

Software

The S9 features Android 8 Oreo, the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system. Samsung has it’s own twist on it as ever, but still it’s only tweaks from the interface and functionality found on the S8.

The software is where the Pixel 2 really shines. It also contains Android 8 Oreo out of the box, and the functionality of the entire phone is lighting fast and very intuitive. The general design of the phone is proof of Google’s access to vast amount of data that they’ve put to good work. They know exactly how to design something to be super efficient, user friendly and make it seem effortless at the same time.

SHOULD I BUY SAMSUNG GALAXY S9?

The S8 set the benchmark of last year, and S9 is really a small upgrade – but how can you improve on the best phone of 2017?

A lot of Samsung’s development effort has been put into the camera, and this can be seen across the market – as manufactures desperately try and innovate their phones. Samsung are certainly a few steps ahead when it comes to the hardware and camera design.

While the Pixel 2 certainly struggles in comparison in terms of features, which you might expect considering the price difference, using the phone is a real joy and is something that Google have really nailed on the software side.

You honestly can’t go wrong with either of these phones, you won’t be disappointed by either – if you really want the best and most stylish looking phone, the solid all rounder, then you’lll prefer the S9. However, you pay a lot for the top of the market, and the Pixel 2 in comparison offers outstanding value for money, and in our opinion, a better user experience with the software too.

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Razer Naga Trinity

Ask anyone who has spent a lot of time in an MMO what their mouse of choice is, and chances are they’ll tell you to pick up a Razer Naga, or a similar mouse. And 5 years after the release of the original Naga, Razer has iterated upon this now-classic design yet again with the Razer Naga Trinity.

Available for $99 (£99, AU$169), the Razer Naga Trinity might seem expensive to some, but the 5G mouse sensor and interchangeable side plates make this a very versatile gaming mouse.

Ultimately, if you play a lot of MMOs or MOBAs, you’re getting a lot of mouse for your money – especially if you switch between genres regularly.

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Design

As someone who has been using Naga-style mice for the last 5 years or so, and especially as someone who has been using a knockoff mouse for the last year, this writer was comforted and impressed by the way the Razer Naga Trinity not only fit comfortably in his hand, but the interchangeable side plates are a godsend. 

One of the biggest selling points of the Razer Naga Trinity over the previous Naga iterations is the fact that you can change the side plate depending on the game you’re about to play or the task you need to perform. Sure, there’s the classic Naga 12-button layout that every WoW veteran will fawn over, but you can switch that out for a more traditional 2-button layout for FPS gaming or general computing, or even a MOBA-themed layout with 7 buttons that will help you rule the jungle.

Even though it doesn’t feature the ability to fully customize the lighting on each zone of the mouse like some other high-end gaming mice, the Razer Naga Trinity does feature RGB lighting, and the little customization that it is capable of is intuitive enough through Razer’s Synapse software. Just don’t expect to be able to turn it into some multi-colored monstrosity if you’re into that kind of thing.

The only thing we found lacking about the Razer Naga Trinity’s design is the lack of any kind of customizable weight system. It does have a nice feel out of the box, and lands about in the middle of the road at 0.26 pounds (120g).  It’s not necessarily a deal breaker, but at its asking price, it’s a feature that’s sorely lacking.

These sideplates aren’t just useful however, they’re extremely easy to switch between as well. They’re magnetic and come off and attach with ease. And while you might think they’ll run the risk of falling off in the middle of your gaming session, we find that they stay in place and even in the middle of a hectic Mythic Dungeon in World of Warcraft. Our MMO keys don’t move around, and we even forgot that it was so precariously attached.

Performance

Aesthetics aside, the Razer Naga Trinity is a fantastic mouse, even if it is missing some quality of life features. The 5G optical sensor on top of the utility that the genre-specific side buttons offer is a great value proposition for anyone who is looking for an MMO mouse.

The 5G optical sensor on its own offers a stunning maximum sensitivity of 16,000 counts-per-inch (CPI) which means that you’ll never need to worry about looking down at your mouse angrily in the middle of a raid because your mouse isn’t performing up to snuff.

The side buttons, however, aren’t mechanical so they sometimes fail to register button presses, due to their stiffness. However, that an issue you can get over you break the buttons in or get used to pressing them harder. 

The bigger issue with these side buttons, especially compared to some past iterations of the Naga, is that there aren’t any bumps that will help guide players in the middle of frantic combat, which can lead to casting the wrong spells at the wrong time.

However, the impressive 5G mouse sensor, when combined with the customizability of the Razer Naga Trinity is a great package, nitpicky complaints aside.

Verdict

The Razer Naga Trinity is a great choice for anyone who is a fan of MOBAs or MMOs, and can genuinely improve performance in these games. It’s kind of a niche mouse, especially at its asking price of $99 (£99, AU$169), but it’s well worth the price of admission if you’re the kind of gamer who can benefit from all the extra buttons. Bonus points if you like to jump between genres regularly.

When you take the Razer Naga Trinity as a full package, customizable side plates and all, it’s a unique and worthwhile addition to your gaming setup. We just wish that Razer added in some quality-of-life fixes like customizable weight and more distinct thumb buttons.

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Memcached Amplification Attacks Are Already Breaking DDoS Records

Earlier this week, Cloudflare announced that it had started to see some significant distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against its customers, reaching up to 260 Gb/s in bandwidth. Now Akamai has announced that one of its customers also experienced a record-breaking DDoS attack of 1.3 Tb/s, surpassing even last year’s attack against Dyn, which took out multiple internet services.

Memcached-Enabled DDoS Attacks

As Cloudflare recently explained, attackers have found a way to send spoofed requests to vulnerable memcached servers that also have UDP support enabled. Due to how memcached works, the servers then respond to the requests with much larger packet sizes. The servers send those packets to the target IP (chosen by the attackers), which ends-up overwhelming that targets’ systems and interrupting its proper functioning.

Cloudflare saw attacks of up to 260 Gb/s against its customers. These were significant, but nowhere near the much larger attacks in the 1 Tb/s range we saw last year. On the other hand, one of Akamai’s customers seems to have experienced a memcached amplification attack that was five times larger than the 260 Gb/s attack Cloudflare saw earlier, reaching a peak of 1.3 Tb/s.

New DDoS Record

According to Wired, the impacted Akamai customer was GitHub, which uses Akamai for protection against DDoS attacks and for its content delivery network services. Akamai seems to have learned from last year’s Mirai botnet attack, which peaked at 623 Gb/s, because this time it was much better prepared to handle DDoS attacks in the Tb/s range. Akamai was able to mitigate and then stop the 1.3 Tb/s attack less than 10 minutes after it started.


Akamai warned that it’s still early days for attackers using the memcached amplification DDoS technique and that we could be seeing much larger attacks in the future. The memcached amplification technique allows attackers to scale up their requests by over 50,000 times, so it shouldn’t take long until other malicious actors adopt it.

Akamai believes that the attacks could be largely mitigated if memcached server operators can rate limit traffic from source port 11211 and prevent traffic from entering and exiting their networks, but it noted that this could take time.

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