Facebook nears two billion monthly users

Facebook’s profits have jumped in the first three months of the year, as the social network closes in on two billion users, according to its latest results.

The US tech giant said profits increased 76% year-on-year to just over $3bn (£2.4bn) in the period.

That was helped by higher advertising revenues, particularly on mobile.

It also said the number of people using Facebook on a monthly basis had increased to 1.94 billion, higher than experts had predicted.

“We had a good start to 2017,” said Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg.

However, the company has come under sustained pressure in recent weeks over its handling of hate speech, child abuse and self-harm on the social network.

On Wednesday, Mr Zuckerberg announced it was hiring 3,000 people for its “community operations team” to review content on the site.

Ad slowdown

Facebook also faces challenges from slowing growth in ad revenue, which accounts for almost all of its income.

Chief financial officer David Wehner said ad revenue growth would come down significantly over the rest of 2017, as Facebook hits a limit on the number of ads it can squeeze onto users’ pages.

“It’s now clear that last year’s stellar results from Facebook represented the peak of online advertising growth, as Facebook had warned,” said Martin Garner, an analyst at CCS Insight.

Mr Garner said the company needed to start showing it could make more money from its other products, including Video, Instagram, Whatsapp, Messenger, and virtual reality.

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This Google Docs phishing scam is trying to get into your email

If you’ve received a suspicious invitation to share a Google Doc with you today, don’t click through the link! 

Google Docs users, including yours truly, are receiving unexpected invites to view shared files. The invitation looks like a standard Google Doc invite, but it is actually a fake posing as one in an effort to get into your email.

I received an invitation from a contact who has never shared a Google Doc with me before, whom I don’t communicate with regularly, and has no known reason to send me a Google Doc, to give you an idea of what set off my  alarms. 

Google is aware of the issue, and is encouraging users not to click through and to report the email as a phishing attempt within Gmail. You can do so by clicking on the drop down menu in the upper right-hand corner of an email, then selecting Report Phishing. 

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How Live TV Services Compare To Each Other

It’s easier than ever to watch TV as a “cord cutter.” You can buy specific shows on iTunes, subscribe to Hulu to watch new episodes the day after they air, sign up for Netflix to binge watch entire seasons roughly a year after broadcast, or use some combination of services to ensure you always have something to watch. The only thing missing was live TV–and now a bunch of services are trying to fill that gap.

Perhaps the best known are DirecTV Now, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, Sling TV, and YouTube TV. All have the same basic premise: letting you watch sporting events, news broadcasts, and other live videos. Almost everything else about the services, from where they are available to how much they cost, is different. Here’s what you should know about each one before you decide to commit to any particular service.

DirecTV Now

DirecTV Now is AT&T’s stab at a live TV service. It has two distinct advantages over the other members of this list: a recognizable brand, given the roughly 21 million people who subscribe to DirecTV’s satellite offerings, and the option to bundle it with other AT&T services. DirecTV Now starts at $35 per month, but paying for it alongside an AT&T Plus Unlimited Data Plan (which actually offers 22GB of wireless data before the company starts to slow down your connection) knocks $25 per month off that price. That offer can be mighty tempting if you already pay for AT&T’s wireless.

AT&T also doesn’t count DirecTV Now against the data limits associated with other wireless service plans. Aside from raising questions about how this is fair to other services, this also means that if you plan to watch a lot of live TV on a mobile device, you don’t have to worry about DirecTV Now using up all your data. But be warned: You can’t even learn how much DirecTV Now costs or what channels are available in your area without creating an account with the service. This requires you to agree to its terms and conditions, privacy policy, and to receive promotional emails.

If you’re interested in DirecTV Now anyway, you can sign up for a one-week free trial at its website. The service is said to offer access to more than 120 channels, depending on where you live, and you can add premium services like Cinemax, HBO, and Starz for an additional fee. It’s compatible with Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast devices. You can also stream via modern versions of Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Safari.

Hulu With Live TV

Just announced today, Hulu with Live TV is an expanded version of Hulu’s existing service. Now, instead of being restricted to new episodes of specific shows the day after they air, you can use the service to watch live TV. It’s a natural step for Hulu–the inability to watch live sports or news segments was one of the main things preventing the service from replacing traditional TV. Unfortunately, the service is a lesson in compromise.

Hulu with Live TV offers fewer channels–“more than 50,” depending on your location–than many of its competitors. It also costs a bit more than competitive services, especially if you bundle DirecTV Now with the AT&T Plus Unlimited Data Plan, with its $40 per month price tag. You’re also restricted to just two accounts with the basic plan; other services on this list offer anywhere between three (Sling TV) and six (YouTube TV). It has a DVR, unlike DirecTV Now, but its 50 hour capacity is smaller than the unlimited storage-slash-saving offered by YouTube TV and PlayStation Vue.

Hulu does have the advantage of supporting many devices, offering access to a limited commercials plan of its normal service, and allowing you to add more storage, support for more simultaneous devices, or Showtime access to your service. (No HBO, though, which means no Westworld.) We suspect Hulu with Live TV is more about convincing existing Hulu subscribers to upgrade than getting Sling TV or YouTube TV users to switch.

PlayStation Vue

One thing you’ll notice with many of these services: They don’t offer PlayStation 4 support. Perhaps that comes down to focusing on other platforms, but it might also have something to do with PlayStation Vue, which is Sony’s take on live TV. Much like AT&T’s decision not to count DirecTV Now usage against data limits, Sony’s ability to offer PlayStation Vue as the PS4’s only live TV service might be considered an unfair advantage, especially considering that more than 60 million units of the console have been sold. That’s a lot of multimedia devices going to waste.

You’ll also note that PlayStation Vue is by far the most expensive service available. Its basic “Access” plan starts at $40 per month–just like Hulu with Live TV–and the other “Core,” “Elite,” and “Ultra” plans cost $45, $55, or $75 per month, respectively. Each one adds more content: Access is billed as “popular live TV,” Core adds sports, Elite adds movies, and Ultra bundles all of that with access to Showtime, HBO, and other premium channels. (Standalone channels, such as HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax, can also be purchased or bundled with each other for lower monthly fees.)

PlayStation Vue supports a variety of platforms. Besides the PS4 and PS3, it’s also available on Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, and Chromecast devices. You can stream simultaneously on five devices–but note that you can only stream on one PS4 or PS3 at a time, so if you were hoping to use two consoles at once, you’re out of luck. Using the mobile versions of the service also requires you to set up a “home location” with a non-mobile device. Don’t sign up for PlayStation Vue while you’re traveling; you’re just going to end up with a bill and a lot of frustration.

Sling TV

Sling TV is the most configurable, and perhaps cheapest, of these services. You choose from one of two options when you sign up: Sling Orange, which offers access to 30 networks for $20 per month, and Sling Blue, which offers access to 45 networks for $25 per month. Then you choose from a variety of add-ons that cost between $5 and $10 per month and allow you to watch shows from more sports, comedy, news, or lifestyle channels or premium offerings like HBO, Showtime, Starz, and Cinemax. You can also add non-English channel packs for roughly the same price.

This means you have more control over exactly what channels you want. Are you a sports buff who also cares about what happens on the next season of Game of Thrones and likes to watch Italian shows? Then you just have to choose Sling Blue, add HBO and Italiano Mini, then install Sling TV on all your compatible devices. If none of that appeals to you, just go with Sling Orange and ignore the add-ons. Whereas other services push you towards plans with the option of a few extra features, Sling TV comes closest to living up to its promise of saving you from the TV bundles.

It’s also compatible with a large number of devices, from smartphones and desktop computers to set-top boxes and the Xbox One console, so chances are good that you’ll be able to watch Sling TV without having to worry about what hardware you own. In our experience, however, that breadth of focus can introduce its own problems. Local channels are frustratingly limited, you can’t use the Cloud DVR service to record everything you want, and the PC app stopped working properly every time Nvidia released new drivers. One could perhaps characterize Sling TV as a jack of all trades and master of none.

YouTube TV

Finally we come to YouTube TV. The service debuted in April with 39 channels, support for up to six accounts, unlimited cloud DVR, and a bundled YouTube Red subscription to offer ad-free videos on the main YouTube platform, all for $35 per month. (You can, as has become a trend, add premium channels like Showtime for an extra $11 per month.) YouTube TV currently supports Android, iOS, and Chromecast devices, as well as the latest version of Chrome. The only rub: You can sign up for the service only if you live in the few U.S. metropolitan areas where it’s available.

Those locations are Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area. If you live anywhere else in the U.S.–or in another country–the only thing you can do with YouTube TV is sign up to be notified when it expands to your area. All of this makes YouTube TV a quintessentially Google service: It offers free cloud storage, emphasizes Google’s target platforms, and is currently restricted to a few locations with the promise to expand in the future. Here’s to hoping this one doesn’t get dropped like Google Fiber did back in August 2016.

If you live in one of those areas, however, YouTube TV might be enticing. The unlimited storage is welcome, support for up to six accounts makes it easy to keep everyone’s taste in TV separate, and bundling YouTube Red can remove all those obnoxious ads from YouTube without making you feel guilty for using an ad-blocker. Yet the service is currently defined more by its limitations–from its relatively paltry list of supported devices to its limited availability to its meager channel access–more what it does right. Maybe that will change with the new, faster YouTube framework.

Comparing Them All

Unless the decision is made for you, whether it’s because of the lack of services for the PS4 or geographic limitations, there’s no clear winner here.

DirecTV Now can be the cheapest service, and it has the most channels, but it’s also the hardest to experiment with and becomes significantly less appealing if you don’t want to have anything to do with AT&T. Hulu with Live TV is currently in beta, so it might change as time goes on, but right now it feels more like an add-on to the core Hulu service than a compelling alternative to other services. PlayStation Vue is your only option if you have a PS4, and only DirecTV Now has more channels, but it’s also expensive. Sling TV is expansive but can spread itself too thin. YouTube TV seems more like YouTube dipping its toe into the live TV waters than a bona fide service that’s going to stick around for the long term.

Choosing from among these services depends on your priorities, but at least now you have a little more information to help with your decision.

Service DirecTV Now Hulu with Live TV PlayStation Vue Sling TV YouTube TV
Base Price (Monthly) $35
$50
$60
$70
$40 $40
$45
$55
$75
$20
$25
$35
Add-Ons (Monthly) N/A Enhanced Cloud DVR: $15
Unlimited Screens: $15
Enhanced Cloud DVR + Unlimited Screens: $20
N/A Cloud DVR: $5 N/A
Premium Channels (Monthly) Cinemax: $5
HBO: $5
Starz: $8
Showtime: $9 -Cinemax: $15
-Epix: $4 (Included with $55 and $75 plans)
-Epix + Showtime: $14 ($12 for PlayStation Plus members)
-Fox Soccer Plus: $15 ($13 for PlayStation Plus members)
-HBO: $15
-HBO + Cinemax $22 ($20 for PlayStation Plus members)
-Machinima: $2
-4 Extras Deal: $10
-Arabic Mini: $10
-Best of Spanish TV: $5
-Brazilian Mini: $15
-Caribe: $5
-Chinese Mini: $5
-Cinemax: $10
-Comedy Extra: $5
-Deutsch Mini: $5
-Espana: $5
-Francais Mini: $5
-HBO: $15
-Heartland Extra: $5
-Hindi Mini: $5
-Hollywood Extra: $5
-Italiano Mini: $10
-Kids Extra: $5
-Lifestyle Extra: $5
-Mexico: $5
-News Extra: $5
-Showtime: $10
-Sports Extra: $10
-Starz: $9
-Sudamerica: $5
Fox Soccer Plus: $15
Showtime: $11
Platforms Amazon Fire TV
Android
Apple TV
Chromecast
Chrome
Internet Explorer
iOS
Safari
Amazon Fire TV (TBD)
Android
Apple TV
Chromecast
Chrome (TBD)
Internet Explorer (TBD)
iOS
Roku (TBD)
Safari (TBD)
Samsung TVs and Blu-ray players (TBD)
Xbox One
Amazon Fire TV
Android
Android TV
Apple TV
Chromecast
Chrome
Internet Explorer
iOS
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
Roku
Safari
Air TV
Amazon Fire TV
Android
Android TV
Apple TV
Channel Master
Chromecast
Chrome
Internet Explorer
iOS
LeEco
LG
MacOS
Roku
Safari
Windows
Xbox One
Xiaomi
Android
Chromecast
Chrome
iOS
Local Channels Yes (Limited) Yes (Limited) Yes (Limited) Yes (Limited) Yes (Limited)
Cloud DVR No Yes, 50 hours or 200 hours with add-on Yes, shows are kept for 90 days Yes, 50 hours or 100 hours if participated in beta Yes, unlimited
Bundles Bundle with AT&T Plus Unlimited Data Plan to save $25 per month Includes limited commercials plan for core Hulu service Discounts on premium channels are offered to PlayStation Plus members None Includes a subscription to YouTube Red, which removes ads from YouTube
Simultaneous Streams Two devices Two devices, or more with Unlimited Screens Five devices, no more than one PS3 or PS4 at a time -Sling Orange: No
-Sling Blue: Three devices
-Sling Orange + Sling Blue: Four devices
Three devices

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Asus ROG Maximus IX Extreme Motherboard Comes With Preinstalled Monoblock Cooler


Asus announced the immediate availability of the ROG Maximus IX Extreme motherboard. In addition to features found on high-performance Z270 gaming motherboards such as support for 6th and 7th generation Intel Core desktop processors, DDR4 support up to 4,133MHz, dual PCIe 3.0 x16 slots for SLI and CrossFireX, Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 Type-A/C, and an Intel Optane-ready M.2 socket, this motherboard also includes an integrated monoblock developed in conjunction with Bitspower.

Unlike the EK monoblocks unveiled last week that are designed specifically for Asus’ ROG motherboards, this integrated monoblock is engineered to not only cool both the processor and VRM circuitry, but the integrated M.2 heatsink, as well. This is important because these components are traditionally cooled by utilizing the excess airflow provided by your CPU air cooler. Lack of airflow to these components can lead to overheating and system instability. The Bitspower monoblock remedies that problem by placing active cooling directly on these components.   

On the inside of the water block, you’ll find embedded temperature and flow-rate sensors as well as a built-in leak detector. These are designed to monitor your system in real time to automatically shut the system down in the event of a leak.

The Bitspower monoblock, IO cover, logo, and RGB headers are able to display a range of RGB lighting effects such as breathing, strobing, pulsing, music effect, rainbow, and more. The RGB lighting can even be set to change color to reflect CPU temperature and load. The Maximus IX Extreme even has color-coded and LED-illuminated 3.5mm audio connectors.  

The Asus ROG Maximus IX Extreme also boasts a number of exclusive features, including a pre-mounted I/O shield, strengthened SafeSlot PCI Express slots, SafeDIMM memory slots, and a copper-plated PCB edge. Asus’ Extreme Engine Digi+ is composed of NexFET MOSFETs, MicroFine alloy chokes, Digi+ PWM controller, and 10K black metallic capacitors.

Finally, there are a total of 12 fan connectors on this motherboard that are strategically placed for use with water cooling components such as fans and water pumps. There are also headers on the motherboard for additional flow rate and temperature sensors for end users who want to run a secondary water cooling loop.

The motherboard is available now at “leading resellers” in North America with an MSRP of $629.

CPU Support Intel Socket 1151 for 6th and 7th Gen Core i7, i5, i3, Pentium, Celeron CPUs
Chipset Z270
Memory 4 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR4 4,133, 4,000, 3,866, 3,800, 3,733, 3,600, 3,500, 3,466, 3,400, 2,666, 2,400MHz memory
Multi-GPU
Support
Nvidia 2-Way SLI Technology
AMD 3-Way CrossFireX Technology
Expansion Slots 2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (Single at x16, dual at x8/x8)
1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16
1 x PCIe 3.0 x4
Storage 1 x M.2 Socket 3, with M key, type 2242/2260/2280 storage devices support (both SATA & PCIE mode)
1 x M.2 Socket 3, with M Key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (both SATA & PCIE mode)*2
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology
Intel Rapid Storage Technology supports
Intel Optane Memory Ready
LAN / WiFi Intel I219V
Anti-surge LANGuard
ROG GameFirst IV
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Supports MU-MIMO
Bluetooth V4.1*5
Audio ROG SupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC S1220
– Impedance sense for front and rear headphone outputs
– Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
– High quality 113 dB SNR stereo playback output and 110 dB SNR recording input
– SupremeFX Shielding Technology
– ESS® ES9023P
– Supports up to 32-Bit/192kHz playback
USB Ports ASMedia USB 3.1 controller:
1 x USB 3.1 front panel connector port(s)
Intel USB 3.1 controller:
2 x USB 3.1 port(s) (2 at back panel, )
Intel Z270 Chipset:
6 x USB port(s) (4 at back panel, )
ASMedia USB 3.0 controller:
2 x USB port(s) (2 at back panel, )
Intel Z270 Chipset:
4 x USB 2.0 port(s)
ROG Exclusive Features Clear CMOS button
ROG RAMCache II
ROG CPU-Z
ROG CloneDrive
Pre-mounted I/O Shield
MemOK! Button
Slow Mode
ReTry Button
Safe Boot Button
Start Button
Reset Button
LN2 Mode
GameFirst IV
ROG Aura
Extreme Engine Digi+
Mem TweakIt
KeyBot II
UEFI BIOS features:
– O.C. Profile
– Tweakers’ Paradise
– ROG SSD Secure Erase
– Graphic Card Information Preview
ROG RAMDisk
Extreme Tweaker
USB BIOS Flashback
Special Features Asus Dual Intelligent Processors 5-Way Optimization by Dual Intelligent Processors 5:
– 5-Way Optimization tuning key perfectly consolidates TPU, EPU, DIGI+ VRM, Fan Expert 4, and Turbo App
SafeDIMM slot
Asus Exclusive Features:
– MemOK!
– AI Suite 3
– Ai Charger
Asus Q-Design:
– Asus Q-Code
– Asus Q-LED ()
– Asus Q-DIMM
– Asus Q-Connector
Gaming Aesthetics:
– 3D printing friendly
Overclocking Protection :
– Asus C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Rear I/O 1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
2 x USB 3.1 ()Type-A + Type-C
6 x USB 3.0 (blue)
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
1 x Clear CMOS button(s)
1 x USB BIOS Flashback Button(s)
5 x LED-illuminated audio jacks
Internal I/O 1 x AAFP connector
2 x Aura RGB Strip Headers
1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s)
2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x M.2 Socket 3 with M key, type 2242/2260/2280 storage devices support (SATA & PCIE 3.0 x 4 mode)
1 x M.2 Socket 3 with M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (SATA & PCIE 3.0 x 4 mode)
1 x TPM connector(s)
8 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
2 x Chassis Fan connector(s)
2 x W_PUMP+ connector
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x 4-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x 4-pin EZ_PLUG Power connector(s)
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s) (Q-Connector)
1 x Slow Mode switch(es)
1 x Thermal sensor connector(s)
1 x EZ Plug connector(s) (4-pin Molex power connector)
1 x Power-on button(s)
1 x Reset button(s)
1 x BIOS Switch button(s)
1 x Clear CMOS button(s)
1 x 5-pin EXT_FAN(Extension Fan) connector
1 x USB BIOS Flashback button(s)
1 x LN2 Mode jumper(s)
1 x ROG extension (ROG_EXT) header(s)
1 x Safe Boot button
1 x ReTry button
1 x T_Sensor Connector
2 x W_Pump+ Header
1 x EXT_Fan header
1 x W_IN header
1 x W_OUT header
1 x W_FLOW header
1 x USB 3.1 front panel connector
1 x MemOK! Button
1 x RSVD Switch
1 x 9 pin Monoblock sensor
8 x Radiator Fan Headers
BIOS 2 x 128 Mb Flash ROM, UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI3.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 3.0, ACPI 5.0, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash 3, CrashFree BIOS 3, F11 EZ Tuning Wizard, F6 Qfan Control, F3 My Favorites, F9 Quick Note, Last Modified log, F12 PrintScreen, F3 Shortcut functions and ASUS DRAM SPD (Serial Presence Detect) memory information.
OS Windows 10 64-bit
Windows 8.1 64-bit
Windows 7 32-bit
Windows 7 64-bit
Form Factor Extended ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 10.7 inch ( 30.5 cm x 27.2 cm )
Price $629

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How Logitech brings sophistication to PC gaming accessories

Gaming hardware these days seems to be louder than ever, with exaggerated designs and enough RGB lighting to make the Vegas strip look dull. Thankfully, that doesn’t apply to all gaming hardware, with Logitech being one of the few companies pushing hard against the tide.

The Logitech G413 is perhaps one of the best representations of a gaming peripheral with a minimalistic and sophisticated styling. Just a few years ago, the Logitech G910 Orion Spark was one of the loudest peripherals to hit the market with RGB lit faceted keys and a palm rest that favored FPS gaming.

Since then, Logitech’s newer designs, like the G610 and G810, look almost like traditional keyboards. A toned-down G910 Orion Spectrum followed soon after, and now most recently, the G413 is Logitech’s thinnest and most sophisticated keyboard yet.

Image 1 of 4

The infamous Logitech G910 Orion Spectrum

Image 2 of 4

The dramatically simpler Logitech G810

Image 3 of 4

The toned down Logitech G910 Orion Spectrum

Image 4 of 4

The minimalistic Logitech G413 Carbon

“We’re noticing here is a breed of gamer who is getting to the point in their life where they do want something else than some of the more expressive designs,” Logitech G design director Will Carey says.

“Call them what you will and there’s always a place for that, but you also need to cater to people who are over 40-years-old and have a different set of expectations and needs,” Carey says. “They’re not gaming every day and want something that fits into their lives.”

That’s not to say Logitech is stepping away from serving younger gamers. Rather, Logitech G aims to include all gamers and meet more of them where they are – which is more often an office environment these days.

Gaming mice have come a long way since the Logitech MX518

Carey and his team also see and hear from gamers who want a higher level of sophistication since what was expected four years ago. The changing tastes of gamers, as Carey explains, has risen along with the quality bar for everything else we buy. 

“If you look at people’s reference point from the cars, the clothes, the consumer electronics they buy, you can’t deny the quality bar is rising and they want specific things,’ Carey says. “And, that’s what you are seeing being brought into some of our products.” 

Logitech G’s intense focus on design is still a relatively new concept for the company. Just four years ago, design was done externally until Bracken Darrell became the new CEO of Logitech and ushered in a design-led approach.

The Logitech Pro Gaming Mouse from start to finish

Now, design is the first step of Logitech G’s product development process. Chris Pate, portfolio manager at Logitech G, laid out a half dozen early clay models of the Logitech Pro Gaming mouse before us during a recent visit to Logitech’s Newark, California offices.

“We wanted to basically take the design of the G102 and update it for the Logitech G Pro Gaming Mouse to include elements from the G303,” Pate elaborates. 

“Although it would seem like a simple, straightforward design,” he says, “we have a ton of different iterations of prototypes that are hand sculpted, 3D printed, hard models and even functional models we can test.”

From left to right: the Logitech G1, G102, G303 and Pro Gaming Mouse

The entire design process for the Pro started off a little differently. Logitech called in a product UX researcher to establish the exact curvature and height needed make it comfortable but still relevant for gaming. 

This leads to the first batch of mockups from which the team decides which aspects of the design they like. The next stage involves carving blocks of foam into general shape models.

“The curves won’t be exactly right but they’ll show those to us and we’ll look at renderings at the same time, and we’ll pick a general direction from that,” Pate explains. “We’ll test how people respond to that shape, pick a direction, take that one and expand upon it.”

The Logitech G403 and all its prototypes

This process of iterating and narrowing goes on for a few more rounds before the Logitech G team also brings in eSports gaming professionals into the process with lab testing. Essentially, the company has a room set aside to observe players’ practice with the prototype peripherals.

This might give you the picture of gamers playing while others in lab coats observe and mark down findings onto their clipboards, and that’s basically what happens – minus the lab coats. In the Logitech G team’s experience, it’s much easier and truthful to watch how people feel about a product rather than ask them to articulate it in words.

“You ask people how they feel about it, and they’ll be like, ‘oh yeah, that feels really good and comfortable,’” Pate says. “And, then you’ll watch them play like this, they don’t actually hold it the way they showed you.”

“It’s not that people are liars,” he continues. “It’s just when they answer the question they don’t necessarily understand how to put that into context of how they do things.“

A jumbo-sized cutaway of Logitech’s Rommer-G switch

Carey admits he’s only been on the Logitech G project since the end of last year. However, in a few months, he feels the important part of his job is to meet users where they are. 

“It’s really important to have an amazing engineering team and technical talent, but it’s really about humanizing that experience and making it relevant to people’s everyday needs,” Carey says. “Augmentation of human control is really what we’re in the business of, and extending your capabilities to control digital worlds beyond what we know today.”

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Valve Releases Steam Support Stats To Show Improvement In Customer Service

It’s no secret that most PC gamers use Steam to buy games as well as to house their growing library of titles, but sometimes problems arise when using Steam or playing a game. Some of these issues require help from Valve’s customer support team. As the company continues to improve its customer service, a.k.a. Steam Support, it’s also making the process a bit more transparent by showing some statistical information on the number of requests for help it receives every day.

The Steam Supports Stats page features one main graph that shows the total number of requests, which is shown in blue, as well as the amount of requests that still require a response (shown in red). In the last 90 days, as early as February 2, the difference between the total amount of requests and those still waiting for a response were slim; of the 77,989 requests for help that day, only 25,605 received a response, with a massive backlog of 52,384 tickets still waiting for help. However, the gap between the total number and open requests significantly increased over the past few months. Yesterday, Steam Support received 65,615 requests, and it was able to respond and solve most of the issues with only 7,460 queries left to answer. That’s 58,155 issues solved in one day.


Aside from the graph, there’s some additional information that further expands on the many types of requests that goes into Steam Support. According to Valve, the vast majority of requests usually involve refunds for a game. Other major issues that come in are in regards to recovering an account, technical issues with a game or with Steam, and questions on purchases and billing. Valve also added a typical wait time for each of issues. Refund requests are usually solved between 1-2 hours while problems with purchases or billing can take between two hours to almost two days.

By no means is Steam Support perfect, but at least it’s more efficient in how it receives and solves tens of thousands of requests that come in every day. Valve’s post on the subject mentioned that it improved the service overall by using better tools to help with any requests, overhauled the support site and hired additional staff to help out with problems. The company will continue to improve the service in many ways, but transparency through the Steam Support Stats seems to be a step in the right direction. If you want to provide any additional feedback about Steam Support, you can always write a comment in the Steam Discussions forum.

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Ubisoft Offers Free Trial For 'The Division' From May 4-7

March marked the one-year anniversary of the release of The Division, Ubisoft’s third-person shooter in which players fight their way through New York City after the outbreak of a deadly virus. Massive Entertainment, the studio developing the game (the group is under Ubisoft’s umbrella), has more plans for the game’s second year. However, it wants more people to check out the game through a free-to-play session planned for the next four days.


The event will give you access to the Standard Edition of the game from May 4-7. During this time, you can check out the main campaign, participate in co-op missions, or compete against other players in the Dark Zone. If the free trial convinces you to buy the game, you can purchase either the Standard or Gold (which includes the Season Pass) editions at a discounted $20 or $31.50, respectively. (The Gold edition on Xbox One will cost a bit more at $36.) You can take a look below at the free event’s start and end times for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

As part of the one-year anniversary celebration, Massive also revealed a few more details about its plans for Year Two of The Division, which comes in two free expansions. The first batch of content will feature a new type of event system that includes modifiers for additional challenges and leaderboards so you can compare your skills to other players. As a reward for completing the event, you’ll receive some vanity items. You’ll also get the ability to quickly switch between gear loadouts and “a system to mark a player’s feats.” As for the second expansion, the developers were a bit more mum on the subject, but we at least know that it won’t feature additional story-based content.

Release dates for both expansions haven’t been announced, but they’re likely to come out sometime this year. If you do purchase the Gold edition, you’ll still get access to the previous three paid expansions to the game. With so much focus on free upcoming expansions, however, the likelihood of more paid content in the future is slim.

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