Sunday, 9 August 2015
Things got crazy towards the end of Steve Ballmer’s time as Microsoft CEO. One of his dumbest moves was buying Nokia.
Some say the decision cost him his job. That wasn’t all. Last month Microsoft wrote down US$7.6 billion it spent buying Nokia.
Until the acquisition, Google, Facebook, Amazon and, most of all, Apple dominated technology news reports and discussion.
They still do. Yet Microsoft is relevant again. In a way the Nokia episode helped the company get back on track, in part by being the catalyst for a much-needed change of leadership. It also helped the company’s top brass focus on where the business is and where it can go.
From the sidelines Ballmer saw Apple win revenue, margin and respect while Microsoft appeared to drift towards irrelevance.
His last roll of the dice was an ill-judged attempt to remake Microsoft in Apple’s image. Hence the talk of “software and devices”.
In itself that was not a stupid strategy. But it ignored Microsoft’s strengths and weaknesses.
Great phones, late to market
Buying Nokia was meant to catapult Microsoft into the phone market. Microsoft phones are great. In many respects the Windows Phone operating system is better than Android. I used one for a couple of years, but they were too late.
Microsoft then bet on phone and tablet-like touch screens being dominant. It went too far too fast.
Instead of a steady-as-she-goes update to Windows 7 Microsoft went in boots and all with tablet-like touch screen technology for Windows 8.
The move was meant to be disruptive. In the event Microsoft was disrupted.
Buying Nokia was a disaster. Many of the 25,000 employees at the phone maker have lost their jobs. There are empty factories and ghost towns in Nokia’s native Finland.
It didn’t go any better for Microsoft. Almost every dollar it spent has gone down the gurgler.
However, Microsoft was big enough to weather that storm. A new boss, a new direction and a new confidence mean any lasting damage is now safely behind the company.
Microsoft should have known better. Large scale technology company mergers seldom deliver the promised gains. Most destroy value. There are as much about ego or distracting attention with big gestures as about creating fresh opportunities. Savvy investors run a mile when they hear the termsynergy.
Microsoft’s Nokia acquisition is the latest in a long string of large-scale technology deals that failed to deliver on promised benefits. Think Oracle and Sun Microsystems.
This year Microsoft wrote down US$7.6 billion on the deal. In effect that means the Nokia mobile phone business is now worthless, a decade ago dominated the market. Blame the iPhone.
For the course of 2015 so far I've been running an LG 34UC97 monitor as my workstation display, taking in its glorious 34-inch size and 3440x1440 resolution. Since my review of the LG 34UC97 back in December 2014, the
We're seeing a new 21:9 display released each month, and we're getting closer to the one that will rule them all: a 34-inch monitor with a native resolution of 3440x1440, but with NVIDIA's G-Sync technology. We should see that released next month, and you can bet your old display we'll have one of those to review very soon.
Until then, I've noticed that no sites are really covering UltraWide resolutions in their benchmarks. Well, we are starting today. We will be running all of our future cards in four resolutions: 1920x1080, 2560x1440, 3440x1440 and 3840x2160. But before then, we're going to do a couple of articles to bring you up to speed on various video cards running 3440x1440, and how they perform in our benchmark suites.
We're starting off with NVIDIA's line up of cards, where we have tested the GeForce GTX 780, GTX 980, GTX 980 Ti and the Titan X. After this article, we'll look at SLI results with all of those cards, and then we'll move onto the AMD side of things (with single, and multi-GPU setups).
Gaming at 3440x1440 is just utterly beautiful, with the 21:9 aspect ratio really adding to the experience in some games. I'm mostly a Battlefield 4 player and the additional horizontal pixels are glorious, especially when you mix it with a 95-degree FOV with the in-game settings.
What We're Using
As for our system, we have worked with be quiet!, GIGABYTE and Kingston on our new system that we wrote a build guide for here. It's quite the system, with the breakdown in specifications below:
- CPU: Intel Core i7-5830K (stock clocks)
- Cooling: be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE X99-SOC Champion
- RAM: Kingston 32GB (4x8) HyperX Fury DDR4-2666 (HX426C15FBK4/3)
- Storage: Kingston HyperX Predator 480GB M.2 PCIe SSD
- Display: LG 34UC97 (34-inch UltraWide 3440x1440 21:9)
- PSU: be quiet! Dark Power Pro 1200W
- Case: be quiet! Silent Base 800
- OS: Windows 7 Ultimate x64
- Drivers: GeForce 353.30
Grand Theft Auto V
Metro: Last Light
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
So there we have it, some of the latest cards from NVIDIA benched at 3440x1440 with some surprising results. Even the older GTX 780 holds its own, especially in something like Battlefield 4 where we have 59FPS average. This is absolutely acceptable for a 60Hz panel, which is what we were testing on, to hit 59FPS average. With a few tweaks to the in-game visual settings, you could hit 60FPS minimum on an older card in Battlefield 4.
On the reference GTX 980, we're seeing an average of around 60FPS (or so) on all of our games. With some adjustments to the in-game settings, you'll see 60FPS minimum, and that's on the reference GTX 980. If you were to pick up a custom GTX 980 from the likes of ZOTAC, MSI or ASUS, the performance is only going to be better.
Next up, we're going to test out these cards again in SLI and then once SLI results are finished, we'll swap out all of our NVIDIA hardware for the AMD side of things and run the benchmarks again. Then we'll have an article comparing the top two cards from both sides against each other, as well as a run down of all of the cards performance.
Intel's Xeon processors have powered servers and other enterprise PCs for years, but if you wanted their performance and security features for on-the-go computing, you were stuck having to buy notebooks by boutique builders like Eurocom that stuffed the desktop chips into massive laptops.
The chip giant has apparently seen a need in the mobile workstation market for a better solution, as the company hasjust announced that it will be delivering Xeon-based notebook processors for the first time this fall. The Xeon Processor E3-1500M v5 family will be based on the new Skylake 14nm architecture and will be shipping in high-powered laptops starting this fall.
While Intel has powerful CPUs for notebook computing -- like the Core i7-4940MX Extreme Edition -- the E3-1500M will offer buyers more enterprise-friendly features to go along with top-tier performance. These include error-correcting code memory, which can fix potential data corruption errors automatically, as well as the company's vPro technology for enhanced security and remote management. Workstations featuring the Xeon mobile processors will include Thunderbolt 3 interface technology, and Intel promises certifications for design and content-creation software that will be run on the notebooks.
What the company hasn't mentioned are the specs for the E3-1500M v5 processors, thoughwe know that Skylake should bring the usual faster performance (including integrated graphics, which workstation users won't be relying on anyway) and improved battery life that each new iteration of Intel's Core processors delivers. Considering the power-hungry apps that will be used with these Xeon chips, the increased battery life will be critical, though expecting hours and hours of juice might be expecting too much for this class of CPU. More details are expected on Skylake CPUs at the upcoming Intel Developer Forum, so stay tuned.
Late yesterday, Intel announced that it would be releasing the first-ever workstation-grade Xeon CPUs for laptops. The company is "not quite ready to unveil all the details" including the exact specifications and TDPs of the chips and when they'll be available, but right now we know that they'll be based on the same Skylake architecture as the high-end desktop chips that Intel unveiled earlier this week. The Xeon E3-1500M v5 family also supports the same high-end features as its desktop counterparts, including error-correcting code (ECC) memory and the vPro business management features.
Perhaps most interestingly, Intel's press release says that every workstation that ships with one of these Xeons will include Thunderbolt 3 and, therefore, USB Type-C ports that support the full 10Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 transfer speed among the connector's other benefits. Thunderbolt 3 is available for consumer Skylake chips, but it requires an external controller—either Intel has baked Thunderbolt support into the mobile Xeon's chipset, or using the external controller is mandatory if you use the Xeon CPUs.
These Xeon chips are interesting, but don't expect to squeeze your octa-core desktop workstation into a laptop just yet.
Intel ships two basic types of Xeon processors—the E5 and E7 families are based on tweaked, supercharged versions of Intel's flagship processor architectures. Consider the various Haswell-E chips, which came out later than the standard consumer Haswell chips but added fancy features like DDR4 support and gobs of CPU cores (everything from six-core Core i7 chips to 18-core Xeons). The E3 family includes support for ECC RAM and management features but are based on the same architecture as current consumer chips (hence Skylake) and have historically topped out at four cores.
So while fans of those lower-key additions may be excited about the prospect of mobile Xeons, those hoping to go beyond four cores in a laptop should temper their expectations. It's possible that Intel plans six- or eight-core mobile Skylake chips, but those chips tend to have power and cooling requirements that are difficult to meet even in a bulky mobile workstation.
EDMONTON - Comic book characters come to life at the 22nd annual Animethon this weekend.
The Japanese Animation or anime themed convention runs August 7-9 at MacEwan University’s City Centre Campus.
The longest running anime convention in Canada features more than 80 live programs, panel discussions on a variety of topics, video game tournaments, special guest appearances by voice actors, improvisation groups, and a performance by the popular Japanese rock band Flow.
“Edmonton has a very passionate cosplay and anime community that keeps growing with each year,” said Vicky Lau, director of public relations for Animethon.
With more than 8,400 people attending last year’s event, organizers hope to see 9,000 guests come through the doors this year.
The average age of attendees is 14 to 25, Lau said.
Amanda Botelho, 16, and her two friends, Rowan Atchison, 16, and Kira Yany, 17 have been attending Animethon for the past two years.
“We just come for the love of anime,” Amanda said. “I grew up watching it because my grandma would go and buy me Sailor Moon, and I just really loved it, and still do.”
Over the weekend cosplayers will be seen walking through the halls of MacEwan and on the streets of downtown Edmonton.
“Those who come to the convention don’t have to dress up, but it’s a lot of fun to dress up as your favourite characters,” Lau said.
Attendees spend weeks if not months preparing for conventions like this. Spending hours upon hours perfecting their character’s look.
“I spent about three days and 60 hours making my costume,” Rowan said.
Organizers have noted changing trends in Japanese pop culture and try to keep up with it.
“You’re always meeting new people, and making new friends. You bond over the common interest,” Rowan said.
MANCHESTER United kicked off the new Premier League season with a 1-0 victory over Tottenham on Saturday
Walker prodded the ball into his own net in the 22nd minute as the Spurs defender tried to deny United captain Wayne Rooney an easy scoring opportunity at a sunlit Old Trafford.
It was one of very few chances in a scrappy match, with Spurs’ hopes of an equalizer coming mainly in the closing minutes with two shots from attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen."It was a very difficult game because you have seen two teams that want to press, so every player at the ball had a very small (amount of) time to play,” Van Gaal told BT Sport. “We didn’t keep the ball too much ... but we created a few chances.”
As for his new signings, the Dutchman said: “It’s always difficult, it’s the first time they play at Old Trafford... but I Iiked the performance.”
Spurs coach Mauricio Pochettino made no secret of his feelings about the game’s turning point after 22 minutes.
“Very frustrated, disappointed, because until this moment we played much better, created some chances, we dominated the game,” he said. “And with one mistake, we give the opportunity to score.”
United started with four new players, with Sergio Romero in goal after Van Gaal decided that Real Madrid target David de Gea was not in the right frame of mind to play.
Fullback Matteo Darmain, along with midfielders Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay all made convincing debuts and Romero improved after some early signs of nerves.
Tottenham made by far the better start and could easily have been ahead after five minutes. Striker Harry Kane sent a clever chip over the United defense but Eriksen could only send his cushioned volley over the bar from close range with Romero at his mercy.
Spurs were repeatedly caught out by the offside rule as they tried to get behind United’s back four, but still looked the most likely team to score before gifting United its opener.
The visitors only had themselves to blame after a sloppy pass by Nabil Bentaleb gave the ball away in midfield. Ashley Young sped down the right flank before crossing for the unmarked Rooney, who had keeper Michel Vorm to beat. As the United striker hesitated, Walker arrived just in time to spear the ball away from Rooney’s feet, past a despairing Vorm and into the corner of the Spurs net.
The goal gave a United a lift and although there were no further scoring chances before the break, Van Gaal’s side began to move the ball around with more assurance.
Another of new United’s new signings, midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, replaced Michael Carrick on the hour mark of what was turning into a fairly scrappy encounter.
Tottenham waited until the final 10 minutes before pushing with any real conviction for an equalizer.
United defender Chris Smalling made a superb tackle to snuff out the danger from Nacer Chadli and Eriksen tried his luck with an angled drive that drew a good save from Romero.
Eriksen followed up by rifling in a powerful shot from outside the area in the 89th minute, but Romero was quick to make a block.
The final whistle came as a relief for United fans, who saw their club lose 2-1 at home to Swansea on the opening day last season.
“The most important thing today was the victory,” Rooney said. “After what happened last season, getting off to a bad start at home - we had a bad run of results after that - today was all about the three points. And we’ve gone out there and done that.”
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