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Top Stories for the Week of March 28, 2018

  • Episode 549
  • March 28, 2018

Here are the stories we're following for the week of Wednesday March 28, 2018

SpaceX and Tesla have deleted their Facebook pages.

SpaceX and Tesla have deleted their Facebook pages.

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has deleted the companies’ Facebook pages, joining some now-former Facebook users in their protest of the social media giant’s corporate behavior.

The move comes a week after revelations that Cambridge Analytica (a British data firm that contracted with the Donald Trump presidential campaign), retained private data from 50 million Facebook users; despite claiming to have deleted it.

New reporting on Cambridge Analytica has spurred massive public outcry from users and politicians, with even CEO Mark Zuckerberg calling it a "breach of trust."

At least two lawsuits have been filed as a result.

According to comments from Zuckerberg, this new #DeleteFacebook campaign doesn't appear to have any substantive impact on the platform's bottom line. He told The New York Times, "I don’t think we’ve seen a meaningful number of people act on that, but, you know, it’s not good."


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash

Intel has announced it is “discontinuing” the “Intel Graphics Update Tool for Linux.”

Intel has announced it is “discontinuing” the “Intel Graphics Update Tool for Linux.” But it may not be why you think!

The tool (which was known as “Intel Graphics Installer for Linux” for a while) was created in 2013 to give Linux users a reliable way to upgrade to the latest stable firmware, driver and other components for Intel graphics chips.

Owners of newer Intel hardware often had to use the tool in order to get the most from their GPU when using Linux.

Ubuntu and Fedora were the officially supported distros the tool targeted, but users of related distributions, including Linux Mint, have made use of it too.

At a glance, headlines like that make it sound as if Intel is pulling support for Linux, when in fact, it's quite the opposite.

Now Intel’s open source technology group say the tool is obsolete.

So why are they deprecating the software that makes it easy to upgrade the drivers? Well, it’s all thanks to “faster inclusion” of newer Intel graphics support that is directly within modern Linux distribution repositories.

There isn't a need for a new release because Ubuntu 17.10 and Fedora 27 both include support for the latest Intel graphics out of the box—and it appears as though both distros will be keeping pace with the stack going forward.

So, with no real purpose, the update tool is simply being retired.


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash

Watch what you say while using Microsoft products. The company's new service agreement says it can punish you for using "offensive language."

Watch what you say while using Microsoft products. The company's new service agreement says it can punish you for using "offensive language."

This will apply to Microsoft services such as Xbox Live, Skype, OneDrive, and others. In a document summarizing the upcoming change (which goes into effect May 1), Microsoft says: "In the Code of Conduct section, we've clarified that use of offensive language and fraudulent activity is prohibited."

Punishments can include account suspensions and Microsoft booting you off its products. The software giant also warns: "When investigating alleged violations of these Terms, Microsoft reserves the right to review Your Content in order to resolve the issue."

In other words, the company can search through your accounts for any evidence of the violations.

So far, Microsoft hasn't publicly commented over concerns the policy may be too heavy-handed. A ban on offensive language will probably have the biggest impact on Xbox Live, where gamers are known to troll each other.

Microsoft doesn't define what "offensive language" is, according to the new policy.

However, the company's code of conduct is designed to prohibit a whole range of problematic activities including spam, transmitting malware, online harassment, child exploitation, and anything illegal. The company's most severe punishments are probably reserved for the worst offenders.


Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson

A GTX 1070 is the recommended card for VR with the new HTC Vive Pro.

Because VR is so demanding, hardware makers have issued “Recommended” or “VR Ready” guidelines to help customers understand what kind of hardware they need for a good VR experience.

For the most part, the VR industry’s biggest players have agreed on the key parts of that recommended hardware. With the introduction of the Vive Pro, HTC is now suggesting the more powerful GTX 1070 as its “Recommended Spec” for the Vive Pro, differing from the GTX 1060 suggested for use with other major headsets.

Among other improvements, the Vive Pro brings a screen with 78% more pixels than the original Vive (1440×1600 vs. 1080×1200 per eye), which means that, for the same scene, a GPU powering the Vive Pro will need to do a non-trivial amount of extra work to draw all the pixels at the 90 FPS target framerate. Dropping below that target can cause visual artifacts and discomfort.

While HTC’s official Vive Pro page had initially listed the same Recommended GPU as the original Vive (the GTX 1060) for use with the Vive Pro, today the company updated the page to recommend NVIDIA’s GTX 1070, Quadro P5000, or AMD’s Radeon Vega 56. HTC tells Road to VR that the change was “based on NVIDIA’s testing.”

While the GTX 1070 or equivalent is now part of the “Recommended Spec,” a new “Minimum Spec” is listed, which still includes the GTX 1060. Additionally, the Vive Pro’s “Minimum Spec” differs from the original Vive’s “Recommended Spec” by requiring a USB 3.0 port (instead of 2.0), and dropping HDMI connectivity (now requiring DisplayPort 1.2 or newer).

The Vive Pro “Minimum Spec” also no longer lists Windows 7, instead now showing Windows 8.1 or Windows 10. It’s not yet clear if this means that the Vive Pro simply won’t work with Windows 7, or if HTC just advises against it.

While SteamVR’s new auto resolution function means that SteamVR content should automatically adapt to the Vive Pro’s increased rendering demand and allow the GPU to maintain framerate, it may come at the expense of reducing the rendering resolution when the headset is used in conjunction with a GTX 1060-class GPU.

The move from GTX 1060 to 1070 as the headset’s “Recommended Spec” isn’t a small change for consumers, as current prices on the 1070 (Currently ~$625 USD) are roughly twice as expensive as the 1060 (~$325).

This change could be the start of a trend of fragmentation among the “VR Ready” and “Recommended” VR specs, which has been relatively consistent among leading VR companies to date; though we do hope HTC and others will take steps to avoid consumer confusion.


Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson



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