Altopia

Usenet services have been around for decades, and Altopia is among the oldest on the market. The company was set up in 1995 by a university system admin who wanted to create a useful, uncensored newsgroup service for students.

Since then, it’s gone on to become a commercial service for different industries. While it may not be as big or sophisticated as other platforms out there, the firm puts ethics first. It aims to promote freedom of expression so that customers can make their thoughts known, and it protects customer privacy (while cooperating with law enforcement agencies and copyright holders).

Altopia, as a platform, is powered by open source software such as Linux, Apache, PostgreSQL, BIRD and Keepalived, and it has made a pledge to contribute code back to the community. More than anything, it’s a service that puts old-school technologists and companies first.

Performance

As we always stress in our Usenet reviews, retention is an important consideration when it comes to picking the right service. Compared to other providers, Altopia offers a significantly lower retention rate. For text articles and single-part binaries, there are only 550 days of retention. Multi-part binaries (two to fifteen parts) are at the same rate, while binaries consisting of 15 parts or more disappear after a mere 14 days.

Going for an insecure Usenet service would be a bad decision, obviously, but fortunately, Altopia puts customer security and privacy at the forefront. The company gives all users SSL encryption like many other providers on the market, requiring TLS 1.0 or better (and noting that SSL 3.0 and SSL 2.0 are considered insecure, although port 666 can be used if you want to go the SSL 3.0 route).

Speed and UI

Altopia offers a completely unthrottled service. There aren’t any speed limits or caps on downloads, meaning you can max out your connection. As well as this, you can link the platform up to other newsreader services for greater flexibility.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the user interface, Altopia does look somewhat outdated. There’s no sophisticated browser app here, and instead you need a degree of tech knowledge to operate the platform. That’s not to say it’s overly difficult, but it’s fiddly, to say the least.

Customer service and pricing

As is the case with rivals like Newsgroupdirect, you can receive incentives if you get other people to sign up to Altopia. All they have to do is purchase an account and mention your email address or ID. You’ll then receive a free month of service, and multiple free months can be obtained if you’re particularly diligent in recruiting.

Another great thing about the platform is that it offers a risk-free guarantee to customers. If you feel like you’re not satisfied with the service after the first two weeks, you can email support@altopia.com to request a full refund. There’s a limit of one refund per customer per year to stop attempts at cheating the system. 

All of the company’s price plans operate on a monthly basis, and as previously mentioned, SSL encryption is offered free to every user. The cheapest option costs $6 (£4.70) a month, giving you unlimited speed and usage, with two connections. Plans differ based on the amount of connections you need, with the most expensive plan running to $18 (£14) a month. With that particular subscription, you get 20 connections.

Final verdict

There’s no denying the fact that there are more powerful, more user-friendly newsgroup services out there. But at the same time, Altopia isn’t trying to compete with them directly. Instead, it’s an old-school Usenet provider aimed at people who have the knowledge and skills to get the most out of a traditional newsgroup service.

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How to tell if someone has read your text

We show you how to tell if someone has seen your message in iOS or Android

We show you how to tell if someone has seen your message in iOS or Android using delivery reciepts


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If you’ve sent an important text message and the recipient is taking ages to reply, you might get the urge to find out whether that recipient has read it and is simply ignoring you or whether they’re actually really busy and haven’t checked their phone yet. Here, we show you how to tell when someone has seen your message in iOS and Android.

How to tell if someone has read your text on Android

In order to tell whether someone has read a message you’ve sent them, you’ll need to have been using an internet-based messaging app to send it, rather than the built-in messaging application.

When we say internet-based, we’re talking about the likes of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, as well as Google’s downloadable Messages app.

These apps come with sent, delivered and read indicators that’ll help you know whether your message actually got through to their phone successfully, and in turn whether they’ve actually seen it.

In WhatsApp, for example, one tick means that your message was successfully sent, two grey ticks mean that it was delivered to the recipient’s phone and two blue ticks means that they read it. In group messages, the two ticks will only appear when all of the participants have received and read the message.

This applies to WhatsApp on iOS, too.

You can find out more about WhatsApp’s read receipts here.

Similarly, Facebook Messenger shows the recipient’s profile picture in a tiny circle beneath the message to indicate that they’ve seen it, for example. If they’ve yet to see it but it’s been delivered successfully, it’ll be a blue tick instead.

How to tell if someone has read your text on iPhone

Unless you used WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger (see above for information on both of those) or iMessage when you sent your message on iPhone, you won’t be able to tell if someone has read your text message unless you ask them in person or over the phone.

You can tell if your message has been sent via iMessage in Apple’s messaging app because it’ll be blue. If it’s green, it’s an ordinary text message and doesn’t offer the read/delivered receipts. iMessage only works when you’re sending messages to other iPhone users.

Even then, you’ll only see that they’ve read your message if they’ve turned on the ‘Send Read Receipts’ option in Settings > Messages.

If they have got the Send Read Receipts option turned on, you’ll be able to see that they’ve read your message just underneath the message itself. It’ll say ‘Read’, and then the date (day if it was within the past week or time if it was today)  that they read it.

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AMD confirms that Vega graphics cards will arrive in the next two months

AMD has confirmed that the first of its next-generation graphics cards featuring Vega technology will be available within the next two months.

The company previously indicated that the initial Radeon RX Vega offerings were ‘expected’ to ship in the second quarter of this year – meaning before the end of June – and AMD has now confirmed this with a message on social media.

A Polish Facebook user asked a question about when Vega would be ready, and AMD replied: “When it is ready… And it will be this quarter.”

The company also showed off a Vega GPU ‘effortlessly’ dealing with processing 8K video in Adobe Premiere Pro CC, according to Wccftech.

So, exciting times are rushing swiftly towards us, and it seems like it’s a certainty that we’ll see these beefy new Vega GPUs – which are likely to be a potent combination with the recently unleashed Ryzen CPUs – either next month, or in June.

Cream of Computex?

As we’ve heard before, though, it’s more likely to be June, coinciding with Computex – which starts on the last day of May, and runs into the first week of June – being the likely launch platform.

That would give some breathing space between the launch of the RX 500 series graphics cards (that have only advanced the current-generation Polaris tech) which has only just happened, and the release of Vega.

Still, you never know in the world of technology; we might just see an earlier launch for the next-gen GPU.

As we saw when the first details about Vega were unveiled at CES back at the start of the year, it boasts a next-generation compute engine, high-bandwidth cache and HBM2 video memory (which sports twice the bandwidth per pin compared to HBM). AMD says that in comparison to GDDR5 video RAM, HBM2’s overall footprint is 50% smaller.

This isn’t all about hardware, though, because AMD is also expecting to achieve speedier performance in games by collaborating directly with publishers and developers like Bethesda, which will be optimizing its big-name games for both Vega and Ryzen alike.

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Thai man kills baby on Facebook Live then takes own life

A Thai man filmed himself killing his baby daughter on Facebook Live, before taking his own life, Thai police say.

The 21-year-old hanged his daughter, and then himself, at a deserted hotel in Phuket on Monday, reportedly after an argument with his wife.

Facebook sent condolences to the family for the “appalling” incident and said that the content had now been removed.

The company pledged a review of its processes after footage of a US killing stayed online for hours this month.

Relatives of the Thai man saw the distressing footage and alerted the police – but the authorities arrived too late to save the man and his daughter.

The footage shows the man tying a knot around his daughter’s neck, before dropping her from a rooftop. He then retrieves the body.

Social media anger

The Facebook Live post was widely reported by Thai media, and went viral on social media, BBC Thai editor Nopporn Wong-Anan reports.

In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said: “This is an appalling incident and our hearts go out to the family of the victim. There is absolutely no place for content of this kind on Facebook and it has now been removed.”

The footage is still on video sharing website YouTube. The company has not yet commented.

Thai social media users reacted with anger, while offering condolences to the family of the girl, our correspondent says.

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Devastated relatives of the child, including the mother, picked up the body of the girl and her father from hospital on Tuesday.

Following the US killing, Facebook said it was “constantly exploring ways that new technologies can help us make sure Facebook is a safe environment”.

“We prioritise reports with serious safety implications for our community, and are working on making that review process go even faster,” blogged one of its executives last week.


Analysis: Leo Kelion, BBC technology desk editor

This latest atrocity comes less than a fortnight after a US man bragged on Facebook Live about his murder of a 74-year-old man in Cleveland, having also posted a video of the killing to the social network.

The platform’s chief, Mark Zuckerberg, subsequently acknowledged he had “a lot of work” to do after it emerged the murder clip had remained online for more than two hours despite Facebook having received complaints in the meantime.

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Prior to that, Facebook Live broadcast the death of a Chicago man who was shot in the neck and head last June, and then in July a woman streamed the death of her boyfriend after he was shot by police in Minneapolis.

There have also been reports of sexual assaults, animal abuse and teenage suicide having been shown.

For its part, Facebook is trying to find ways for its review team – which employs thousands of people – to react to such content more quickly.

In addition, the firm has developed software to prevent such footage being reshared in full on its service at a later point.

And it is also exploring the use of artificial intelligence to automatically flag videos and photos that need to be reviewed rather than waiting for other users to report them.

What it hasn’t discussed is the idea of scrapping Facebook Live altogether.

With Twitter and YouTube, among others, offering rival live-streaming products, doing so could put it at a disadvantage.

But as a result, there will inevitably be further outrages and criticism because Facebook Live’s popularity makes it all but impossible for the firm to keep a human eye over each broadcast.


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Cooler Master MasterWatt Maker 1200 MIJ PSU Review

Murata Manufacturing is a giant company that designs, manufactures, and supplies advanced electronics. Its products are not budget-oriented. Rather, they boast high quality and enjoy an overwhelmingly positive reputation.

Before now, Murata was already involved in the AC-DC power supply market. But it previously only manufactured server type, open frame, LED lighting power modules, and enclosed front-end PSUs. This is Murata’s first time designing and building a desktop PSU, and we’re anxious to see the final result. We just hope this isn’t a one-off effort, and that Murata hits the PC power supply segment with more models moving forward. It goes without saying, but more OEMs means more choices for companies like Cooler Master.

Increased competition typically makes good power supplies more affordable, though in this case we’re looking at a really expensive PSU. Hopefully the MasterWatt Maker 1200 MIJ lives up to the expectations set by its $1000 price tag.

Cooler Master claims that over 160,000 hours were spent by 40 Murata engineers on the project that led to this PSU’s creation. Initially, the platform was supposed to be fully digital. In the end, though, they went with an analog platform sporting some digital parts.

This is a strange design choice for a power supply purported to be the best of its generation and an example for future implementations. In our opinion, fully digital platforms are the future of PSUs because they facilitate tighter load regulation and higher efficiency. At the same time, a digital platform is able to balance significantly more variables than an analog one thanks to all of the analog-to-digital converters a modern MCU offers. In conjunction with a capable processor, the architecture can achieve notably improved performance under transient loads.

The only major downside of digital circuits is their higher cost, which should start falling as the PSU industry embraces them more broadly. Complexity tends to increase as well, and that could affect reliability over time. But once there is enough cumulative experience manufacturing digital platforms, we believe that reliability will reach the levels of today’s best analog platforms, too.

Specifications

Efficiency is as good as it gets based on the 80 PLUS organization’s scale. Nonetheless, in the fresh ETA certification which is based on a much stricter methodology the PSU doesn’t do so well, because of the decreased efficiency on the 5VSB rail and the low PF. Normally it should be rated as ETA-A but because it didn’t meet the 5VSB and PF limits it was dropped to the next category. 

Moreover, fully modular cabling is used, and the suite of protection features includes everything you could hope for.

Cooling is handled by a 135mm Silencio fan that uses a loop dynamic bearing. Cooler Master shared a schematic with us, and, according to its data, the LDB looks to be a fluid dynamic bearing derivative. CM claims that this type of bearing should last for at least 160,000 hours, which would be more than 18 years of consecutive 24×7 operation.

The MasterWatt Maker 1200 MIJ’s dimensions are huge, starting with its 224mm depth. The plain MasterWatt 1200 Maker PSU is already large at 200mm-deep. We don’t have any problems with large PSUs, though. In fact, we don’t really care for compact, high-density power supplies since they’re typically also loud. With that said, a PSU this long will undoubtedly complicate the installation process, and it simply won’t fit in some enclosures.

Power Specifications

Rail 3.3V 5V 12V 5VSB -12V
Max. Power Amps 25 25 100 3.5 0.5
Watts 130 1200 17.5 6
Total Max. Power (W) 1200

The minor rails provide up to 130W of maximum combined power, while the +12V rail delivers up to 100A if needed. Finally, the 5VSB rail is strong enough with its 17.5W capacity. We like seeing PSUs rated for more than 3A at 5VSB.

Cables & Connectors

Modular Cables
Description Cable Count Connector Count (Total) AWG
ATX connector 20+4 pin (700mm) 1 1 18-22
4+4 pin EPS12V (690mm) 1 1 16
4+4 pin EPS12V (810mm) 1 1 16
6+2 pin PCIe (760mm) 4 4 16
6+2 pin PCIe (610mm+120mm) 4 8 16-18
SATA (550mm+110mm+110mm+110mm) 4 16 18
Four-pin Molex (550mm+110mm+110mm+110mm) 2 8 18
Four-pin Molex (450mm+90mm+90mm+90mm) / FDD 1 4 / 1 18-22

The number of PCIe connectors that this PSU offers is amazing, even in its 1200W category. Moreover, you get plenty of SATA and four-pin Molex connectors, while the two EPS connectors ensure compatibility with all high-end motherboards. Given its capacity and cable count, the MasterWatt Maker 1200 MIJ can serve as the foundation for a potent gaming system or workstation with multiple graphics cards installed.

Cooler Master’s cable length is satisfactory, though we would like to see more distance between the SATA and peripheral connectors (at least 15cm). The EPS and PCIe connectors use thicker wires for lower voltage drops, while the other connectors employ typical 18-gauge wires.

Power Distribution

Since this PSU features a single +12V rail, we do not have anything to say about its power distribution.

MORE: Best Power Supplies

MORE: Power Supplies 101

MORE: How We Test Power Supplies

MORE: All Power Supply Content

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What Waymo hopes to accomplish with its autonomous car ride-hailing program

Autonomous cars are all the rage these days, and plans to turn self-driving cars into ride-hailing fleets are nothing new. 

What is new is a pilot program from Waymo that is actually using self-driving cars to tote people around in Phoenix. Though Waymo isn’t the first company to do something like this, putting regular people into self-driving cars is still a big deal. So what does Waymo hope to learn from the program?

In IT Blogwatch, we fasten our seatbelt. 

So what is going on? Peter Henderson has the background:

Alphabet Inc’s Waymo…will begin testing a self-driving car program for hundreds of families in Phoenix, Arizona and is buying 500 Chrysler minivans to do so.

[This] is the first public trial of Waymo’s self-driving cars. The vehicles include human operators…behind the wheel, in case intervention is required and to take feedback.

Sounds interesting. How will the program work? David Streitfeld has the details:

Those accepted into the program…will summon a car with an app and then go about their business. They will be encouraged to use the vehicles to go anywhere they would normally go at any hour — the office, the movies, the supermarket, even a late-night search for ice cream.

Waymo is not charging those involved in the trial…it is casting a broad net for all types of people in an effort to accumulate…data about how driverless cars will be used in practice.

So why Phoenix — and why now? Eric D. Lawrence and Marco della Cava fill us in:

A range of automotive and technology companies have said they aim to produce self-driving cars for ride-hailing programs by around 2020…But Waymo’s Arizona initiative shows it’s getting a lot closer to the goal.

By licensing its hardware and software to would-be ride-hailing companies, Waymo can…recoup its multiyear investment in the science while ride-hailing start-ups can eliminate the most expensive part of their business model: the driver.

Phoenix was selected as the test market because…people are very dependent on their cars to get around.

But what about people who actually want to participate in the program. How do they apply? Dominik Bosnjak has that info:

Anyone…in or around Phoenix who would like to try riding in one of Waymo’s self-driving minivans can register their interest on the company’s official website. The registration form requires users to share…basic data about their daily trips and general preferences regarding self-driving solutions…everyone…selected to participate in the initiative will be notified about their opportunity in due time.

And what is Waymo’s end goal here? The company’s CEO, John Krafcik, tells us himself:

With this program…we’ll learn things like where people want to go in a self-driving car, how they communicate with our vehicles, and what information and controls they want to see inside…Early riders will play an important role in shaping the way we bring self-driving technology into the world.

Exciting times. But could anything go wrong? Brian imagines the worst-case scenario:

Waymo open the door! We’re here! “I’m sorry passenger… I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

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How to share games on Steam

Steam’s Family Sharing functionality lets you share your game library with friends and family – here’s how to do it.

Beat the system and share your Steam game library between friends and family


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Steam is the go-to platform for gaming on a PC, boasting an incredibly large selection of both AAA and indie games along with a social element that allows friends to join one another in their favourite games.

However, Steam doesn’t allow users to be logged in to more than one location at a time, making sharing games a fairly difficult process. Don’t be disheartened though, as Steam Family Sharing should help alleviate some of these issues and allow you to share your game library with friends and family.

Here, we explain the pros and cons of Steam Family Sharing, and then explain how to share games on Steam using the functionality.

Read next: How to set up Steam Link and game on TV

Steam Family Sharing: Pros and cons

So, what exactly is Steam Family Sharing, and what does it allow you to do? In its simplest form, Steam Family Sharing was developed so that family members – two children, for example – could both play games bought on the platform without having to pay out for the game twice. It makes sense, especially when some of the high-end games on Steam can go for upwards of £50 a pop.

While the name suggests the functionality is limited to family members, those of you that want to share your game library with friends are free to do so. In fact, you can share your game library with up to 10 different users.

Although there is a catch, for both friends and family that want to play your games.

Your shared library can only be accessed by one user at a time. This means that you can’t have two people playing games from the same library at the same time, and users that want to play an online game together will still have to buy multiple copies of the game. It’s not ideal for online games, but could save a bit of cash for smaller, story-focused games.

But what if one person is playing and another logs on? If you’re the owner of the game in question, other users are given give minutes to save and quit before being booted out of the game. Owners always get priority, of course. It’s not the same the other way around though, as users can’t boot off the owner if they’re already playing the game.

Read next: Best HTC Vive games of 2017

How to share Steam games using Family Sharing

If the fact that only one person can play Steam games at a time isn’t enough to put you off Steam Family Sharing, here’s how to set it up.

  1. The first step is to enable Steam Guard, Steam’s built-in security feature, if you haven’t already. If you’ve already got Steam Guard enabled, skip onto step 2. If not, open Steam and head to Steam > Settings > Account. From here, select Manage Steam Guard Account Security and the feature should then be toggled on.
  2. Once Steam Guard has been enabled, it’s time to set up Sharing on Steam. Simply open Steam > Settings menu and select the Family tab. From here, you should be able to see a list of all Steam accounts that have logged in using your PC. If the Steam user you want to share with isn’t already a part of this list, get them to log in and log back out on your PC – it should then appear on the list.
  3. Next, simply check the box next to the user(s) that you want to allow access to your library and click OK. The users in question should then be able to access your library when gaming on your PC – but what if they want to game on a different PC?
  4. To allow users access your games from their own PCs, you’ll first need to authorise the device in question. It’s a simple process, but requires you to log in to the PC in question. Once logged into Steam, simply head to Steam > Settings > Family and click Authorise This Computer.

And that’s it! Authorised family members and friends should then be able to access your Steam game library. Just remember that only a single person can use it at any given time before you offer it to your squad!

Read next: Best upcoming games of 2017

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