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Engineers mess up causing Microsoft Azure downtime

Due to gaps in the deployment policies produced by engineers, Microsoft's Azure cloud service was taken offline during a period of time throughout November 2014. This information has been discovered thanks to a detailed mea culpa analysis by Microsoft themselves.

 

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Jason Zander, Azure team member, conducted a final root cause analysis (RCA) and published it recently, claiming that the engineers intended to push software changes to improve performance and reduce processor load of the services' front-end system. However an outage was caused, meaning customers being unable to connect to Azure's storage, virtual machine, website, Active Directory or management portal functions.

 

The coding succeeded well in improving performance in the testing phases, however the full roll-out was discovered to encounter two main issues. Usually Microsoft deploys these updates in waves, slowly increasing the updated infrastructures bit by bit rather than a full roll-out. However an engineer saw this update as a low risk exercise after a small testing phase and pushed it to everyone in one hit. Thanks to this blunder and subsequent outage, Microsoft are heavily enforcing staged deployments from now on.

Continue reading 'Engineers mess up causing Microsoft Azure downtime' (full post)

NVIDIA's GeForce 347.09 driver supports Elite: Dangerous and new MGS

NVIDIA has released a new beta driver in the form of the GeForce 347.09, with the company releasing it as a "Game Ready" driver for two big releases this week: Elite: Dangerous and Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes.

 

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The former, Elite: Dangerous, is worth noting as it's the first time the company has released a new driver the concentrates on a crowdfunded game like this. Elite: Dangerous isn't some massive AAA title like Call of Duty or Battlefield, but to the fans, it is. It's great to see NVIDIA releasing a driver ready for Elite: Dangerous. MGS V: Ground Zeroes on the other hand, we have full support for it with NVIDIA explaining "ensures you'll have the best possible gaming experience for Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and Elite: Dangerous."

 

NVIDIA has also provided an application profile for Project CARS, as well as some new 3D Vision and 3D Compatibility Modes for various games, including Alien: Isolation, Far Cry 4 and Elite: Dangerous. If you want to download the new NVIDIA GeForce 347.09 Beta drivers, grab them right here.

Time for Google Maps? TomTom makes it's way into Fiat 500X cars

According to a press release issued yesterday, TomTom's navigation technology will be featured in the 'Uconnect' infotainment systems installed in new Fiat 500X cars being sold throughout Europe, starting early 2015.

 

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These Uconnect systems will come pre-installed with TomTom software including their traffic, speed camera, weather and 'places' services. TomTom will also see their navigation systems featured in these new production models, reportedly offering highly accurate traffic services, which are said to receive over 100 million kilometers of real-time traffic measurements daily.

 

TomTom's Vice President of Automotive, Jan-Maarten de Vries, commented that "We [TomTom] are delighted to extend our relationship with Fiat," further stating that "by adding TomTom's LIVE services and software including accurate traffic information, the latest road closure information and better routes, Fiat empowers drivers with more advanced knowledge of the road ahead, to help make journeys faster."

Continue reading 'Time for Google Maps? TomTom makes it's way into Fiat 500X cars' (full post)

AMD's new Catalyst Omega drivers allow 5K monitor support

AMD has just taken the wraps off of its new Catalyst Omega driver suite, which provides additional performance and a bunch of new technologies and features. The features built into the Omega drivers is extensive, but one of those stand out features is support for 5K displays.

 

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5K you ask? What is 5K? 5K is 5120x2880, a mammoth resolution, which AMD now supports through its Omega drivers, even at 60Hz. 5K is achieved by using two DisplayPort 1.2 outputs, which some Radeon cards don't have, so you'll have to make sure you have two DP outputs before you think about buying that Dell UP2715k monitor.

 

5120x2880 is an incredible resolution, even overshadowing what 4K is capable of at 3840x2160 as it is an insane 14.7 million pixels, providing 218 pixels per inch, or PPI.

Windows 8 features hidden explorer shell options

Windows 8 hidden features and Easter eggs are still being discovered, recent reports have claimed to find a hidden Explorer shell option in Windows 8 and 8.1 - allowing users to automatically organize and open programs alongside exiting the shell if needed.

 

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Reports also claim that no additional programs, tweaks or registry settings are required to use these features.Interested in utilizing this for yourself? Follow these simple steps.

Continue reading 'Windows 8 features hidden explorer shell options' (full post)

Apple iOS 8.0/8.1 usage now accounts for 60 percent of mobile devices

Apple iOS 8.0 and 8.1 is now installed on 60 percent of iPhone smartphones and iPad tablets, according to figures recently released by Apple. The November figure is an 8 percent increase since October, when just 52 percent of users had installed iOS 8.0/8.1 - as Apple continues to try to get users to upgrade.

 

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There are still 35 percent of users running iOS 7 - which captured 78 percent adoption at its peak - but there are some significant hurdles users must deal with when trying to upgrade to the newest version of iOS. iOS 8 requires anywhere from 4.7GB up to 6.9GB of free space, so some users have found they need to begin uninstalling apps. In addition, the Over The Air download can be a major drag for users on slower connections.

 

Aside from those logistical issues, some iPhone 6 Plus owners complained of problems when they upgraded to iOS 8.0.1.

Valve moves to block key resellers - limiting Steam gift rules

Valve has just updated their rules for trade of Steam gifts, said to hinder key re-seller businesses looking to on-sell keys in the form of gifts. New game purchases as a gift will be stored in the buyer's inventory for 30 days before it can be sold or traded - meaning that if you're looking to buy a new game and sell it on, or maybe lend a helping hand to a mate, maybe you should forget about it.

 

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Tony Paloma from Valve has just announced this new ruling, stating: "All new games purchased as a gift and placed in the purchaser's inventory will be untradable for 30 days. The gift may still be gifted at any time. The only change is to trading. All new games purchased as a gift and placed in the purchaser's inventory will be untradable for 30 days. The gift may still be gifted at any time. The only change is to trading."

 

This is a bold move by Valve, basically barring any re-seller websites looking to make a living out of key trading - but on the other hand it's a nice move in the fact that many people get burned year after year, purchasing dodgy keys only to have them revoked without refund. Major websites like G2a or Kinguin have not commented on the change as of yet, but they are expected to be hit hardest by these changes.

Continue reading 'Valve moves to block key resellers - limiting Steam gift rules' (full post)

Adobe warns of critical Flash Player flaw, recommends immediate update

Adobe has alerted the public of an urgent update that has just been pushed - designed to patch a major vulnerability that is being exploited by hackers. This isn't the first time that we've seen reports like this issued in 2014, we're happy to see Adobe quickly on the ball to neutralize these threats.

 

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The issue comes through arbitrary code execution due to a but in how a de-referenced pointer to memory is handled and has been rated as a critical issue. Adobe's new update covers Windows, Linux and OS X platforms, claiming that they are now provided with "additional hardening" against the flaw known as CVE-2014-8439 which was uncovered and patched in the past.

 

Exploit kits are designed to deliver Malware to website visitors through methods of deception or taking advantage of vulnerabilities. Kafeine discovered this Flash flaw in October this year, with this method becoming implemented in two more exploit kits named Astrum and Nuclear. Microsoft users have received an automatic patch update, through security advisory 2755801 and Chrome has applied this update personally. OS X users should update their Flash Player to version 15.0.0.239.

Next-gen 3DMark will reportedly include DirectX 12 vs Mantle test

It looks like 2015 and 2016 could be the big fight between APIs, and while DirectX 12 might reign supreme, I think that Mantle won't just roll over and die as quickly as most think. Futuremark are getting right into the middle of it, teasing its next-gen 3DMark and its "Farandole" benchmark.

 

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Farandole will pit DirectX 12 and Mantle against each other, which will be joined by a lighting test named Balboa. Balboa will reportedly be a global illumination test, which should be interesting. Furthermore, DX12 and Mantle are both very capable APIs, with both APIs capable of delivering 7.5 times the amount of draw calls to a GPU than DirectX 11.

 

Computex 2015 will see the launch of the new "Balboa" lighting text, which will be rendered in DX11. After that, we will see Mantle vs. DX11 and in 2016, we'll see the big battle: DX12 versus Mantle.

Apple will embed Beats to iOS, coming to iPads and iPhones near you

Apple will pre-load the Beats subscription music service into iOS sometime next year, launching the app on all iPhones and iPads. This is an important effort for Apple, as iTunes song and album downloads are on the decline, and marks the company's first major effort in subscription music.

 

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Apple wants to rely on Beats to put pressure on Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, and other competitors fighting in the online music subscription space. The company acquired Beats for $3 billion and many analysts were unsure what the company would do with the Beats subscription service. However, Apple wants to develop the online music offering to find new revenue to counter dropping iTunes music sales.

 

Ensuring apps are pre-installed on smartphones and tablets is a good method to reach new potential subscribers - and Beats has an estimated 110,000 subscribers - so there is plenty of room for long-term growth.

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