CERN Releases 300TB of LHC Data to the World

Do you remember the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) run by CERN? The device that people feared would create a black hole? In a move that’s rarely done, the organisation has now released terabytes of data onto the web for everyone to use.

The large release is explained by Kati Lassila-Perini, a physicist working on the Compact Muon Solenoid detector, who explained the data release simply by saying “Once we’ve exhausted our exploration of the data, we see no reason not to make them available publicly”. That simple, they’ve done what they can with the data and they want to see what others can do, hoping that it can benefit others by “inspiring high school students to the training of the particle physicists of tomorrow”.

If you want to view the data it’s easy enough to get your hands on from here, but CERN has also provided a bunch of tools to help you analyse the data (both raw data from the detectors within the LHC and the datasets they created). Not stopping there they’ve even provided a custom CERN Linux environment ready for use on a virtual machine, alongside scripts and apps that you can find on Github.

While the data is from 2011, that doesn’t stop it being amazing information that normally you could only read in press releases and journals. So who is going to study the universe and particles this weekend?

Billion Dollar F-35 Strike Fighter’s AI Could be Hacked

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lighting II strike fighter is currently in development and designed to be the US military’s next major step forward in aircraft technology. There’s already been some criticism regarding the project’s immense cost and claims that the jet has numerous design flaws. Figures suggest the F-35’s cost is around $400 billion. The Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) is an incredibly advanced software package which monitors altitude, enemy tracking, diagnostics and much more. This system alone costs a staggering $16.7 billion although it’s certainly one of the most important aspects on the F-35.

Despite the huge investment, a recent Government Accountability Office report suggests the system is open to vulnerabilities. Apparently, part of the computer code isn’t secure and can be hacked. The report also discussed the difficulty in deploying the system. The ALIS tool is plugged into a jet which sends data to 1,600 pound server racks. Each F-35 requires:

“ server connectivity and the necessary infrastructure to provide power to the system”

Not only that, there’s no alternative backups in case any system failures occur and the report states:

“If either of these fail, it could take the entire F-35 fleet offline,”

This could easily delay the F-35’s deployment for a significant amount of time and it’s an embarrassing situation for the US military. The loopholes really put the aircraft at risk and could have severe consequences. Only time will tell, if the F-35 project is cancelled or the ALIS system improves. I wouldn’t be surprised to see F-35 jets without the software system go into production.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Library Management Software May Be Open to Ransomware Attacks

When it comes to software, schools are either on top of it or a little behind. The reason being is mostly the budgets they have to deal with, one piece of software that is often ignored by schools, which tend to have to work on the “if it isn’t broken we don’t need to replace it” policy, is the Library management software. If people are using any of Follett’s old library management software, they may want to change that approach and update soon as it’s been revealed that the software may be open to ransomware attacks.

The vulnerability was discovered by Cisco’s Talos group and found that users could remotely install backdoors and ransomware code to the JBoss web server element of the library management system, leaving users with either a large bill or no access to their libraries information.

Follett has not sat idly by with them already releasing a patching system to fix the flaws that expose the system and it even picks up any unofficial files which may have been snuck on to compromise the servers. Working with the Talos group, Follett is seeking to inform customers about the security risk and how to address the issue, potentially removing the threat and damage it could do before someone manages to make any money off of your local schools’ library.

Get Your System Back From Petya Without Paying a Penny!

When it comes to security threats and risks, the community as a whole is at its best when it has a common goal. An example of this was two weeks ago when a new ransomware was found going by the name Petya. Petya didn’t act like normal ransomware but instead decided it would go after your master boot record, often locking people out their entire system until they received their password after paying a nice little fee. That was until some clever people got together to create some tools to get your system back from the ransomware without paying a single penny!

The original web tool came from the twitter account @leostone and lets you retrieve your file by providing it with a selection of data from the infected hard drive. Getting the data may seem like something difficult but a separate researcher went and created a tool titled Petya Sector Extractor that can find and retrieve the required data in seconds.

By removing the hard drive and plugging it into another computer, these tools can work together to retrieve the password required to unlock your master boot record from the clutches of Petya. The sector extractor tool is hosted by Bleeping Computer, a computer self-help forum, and reports that not only does the technique work but has also provided a step-by-step tutorial for anyone who isn’t 100% regarding how to return all their family photos at zero cost.

Adobe Releases Emergency Update to Fix Flash Ransomware Exploits

Adobe’s flash plugin has rapidly become extremely unpopular with web users due to its buggy nature and propensity to make browsers hang. As a result, HTML5 is the modern standard for viewing video content or animations which has made Adobe’s flash superfluous. Despite this, Flash can still be used to display adverts or video streams via certain services. The plugin’s reputation is abysmal and various companies including Google have snubbed Flash in recent months. On Thursday, Adobe released an emergency update after researchers discovered an exploit could deliver ransomware to PCs.

The company implored users to install this update as a matter of urgency because ‘drive-by’ attacks were causing havoc. Respected security software maker, Trend Micro warned Adobe about this phenomenon known as ‘Cerber’ in March. This particularly nasty form of ransomware employs a ‘voice tactic’ which reads a ransom note to create a sense of panic. Unfortunately, Adobe’s response wasn’t that swift if the reports regarding Trend Micro’s warnings are correct. This isn’t going to do Flash’s reputation any favours and I can’t see it being used for much longer in consumer applications. The majority of users required Flash to watch YouTube content. Thankfully, this isn’t the case any more and Google automatically sets to plugin to HTML5.

The most important thing to remember from this story is to either uninstall Flash altogether or update to the latest version. Ransomware can be extremely worrying for users who aren’t familiar with how PCs operate and it’s imperative for company’s to stamp out any exploits. I do feel the future of Adobe Flash looks very bleak and I can’t imagine many people are going to miss using it. HTML5 is better for consumers in every possible way and an evolution of better software.

What kind of experience have you encountered using Adobe Flash?

Check Out The Raspberry Pi Powered “GameBoy Zero”

Who remembers when the original Game Boy was released? Released by Nintendo back in 1996, the Game Boy was the first handheld gaming device for a lot of people and in recent years, people have looked to emulate the system. While being able to play with your smartphone like it was a GameBoy is nice and all, what about upgrading your Game Boy to play something a little more modern?

The Game Boy Zero may look like a Game Boy with two extra buttons, but in reality, it’s a lot more. Featuring a new colour LCD screen the Zero is actually powered by a Raspberry Pi which runs an emulator, giving you access to all kinds of  games using software called Emulation Station, giving you games all the way from the original platform and the MegaDrive to the GameBoy advance.

By modifying a Game Boy cartridge the creator, Wermy, managed to conceal a micro SD to SD card adapter, meaning you can easily update and change-up the software the Game Boy Zero plays. With two extra buttons (for the X and Y Buttons) and even two (slightly concealed) buttons on the back to act as the L and R buttons, the creation is anything but unimpressive.

TSA Spent $47,000 on a Random Lane Picker

Governments and companies often contract out work to help create app’s and software to make systems. The problem is that the app’s and software comes at a price, it would now seem that the TSA spent quite a bit on a random lane picker.

It’s being reported that the TSA spent $47,400 on a piece of software that would help TSA staff pick lanes to separate and ease up congestion at Airport terminals, as shown in the video below.

The information comes as part of a freedom of information request revealed by Kevin Burke, revealing a contract with IBM totaling $336,413.59. Included in this documentation was a document relating to “randomizer software”.

The deal could have included more than just the software, with the iPad’s and tablets used for the software possibly also included in the deal. People are hoping this is the case, with the software being considered entry-level programming. The app itself was a random number generator, assigning people to the right or left lane (1 or 2) at airport security.

It’s got to be embarrassing that such a simple piece of software would come at such a high cost, all while governments are being scrutinized for their spending, higher taxes and budget cuts. The app is no longer in use, with the process of being randomly allocated lanes also being removed from their processes.

AutoDesk to End Perpetual License Sales on July 31st

Game developers, visual artists, interior designers and other professions have relied on AutoDesk software packages to create professional content since the dawn of computers. In particular, AutoCAD has been widely used by architects to draft out property plans and construct an accurate 3D model. It’s one of the most useful applications ever created and become the industry standard for computer aided design. Unfortunately, the company, Autodesk has decided to follow in Adobe’s footsteps and end perpetual license sales on July 31st. This means companies and creative individuals will have to pay a subscription to access the software. Autodesk announced these changes on their website and released a brief statement which reads:

“For Autodesk products worldwide, we are phasing out perpetual licenses of our software. Our current subscription offerings will continue to evolve with options that allow you to access multiple products and to share licenses as you do today with perpetual licensing.”

Here is the entire list of products affected by this change:

Autodesk Design & Creation Suites:

Autodesk® 3ds Max® Entertainment Creation Suite Standard
Autodesk® Building Design Suite Premium
Autodesk® Building Design Suite Standard
Autodesk® Building Design Suite Ultimate
Autodesk® Entertainment Creation Suite Ultimate
Autodesk® Factory Design Suite Premium
Autodesk® Factory Design Suite Standard
Autodesk® Factory Design Suite Ultimate
Autodesk® Infrastructure Design Suite Premium
Autodesk® Infrastructure Design Suite Standard
Autodesk® Infrastructure Design Suite Ultimate
Autodesk® Maya Entertainment Creation Suite Standard
Autodesk® Plant Design Suite Premium
Autodesk® Plant Design Suite Standard
Autodesk® Plant Design Suite Ultimate
Autodesk® Product Design Suite Premium
Autodesk® Product Design Suite Ultimate

Individual products:

Autodesk® Alias® AutoStudio
Autodesk® Alias® Concept
Autodesk® Alias® Design
Autodesk® Alias® SpeedForm
Autodesk® Alias® Surface
Autodesk® AutoCAD® Raster Design (Final date to purchase is March 20, 2016)
Moldflow Adviser Standard/Premium/Ultimate
Moldflow Insight Standard/Premium/Ultimate
Moldflow Synergy
Nastran
Nastran in-CAD
Vault Office
Vault Workgroup
Vault Professional
VRED
VRED Design
VRED Professional
VRED Render Node
VRED Server
Autodesk® CFD
Autodesk® CFD Advanced
Autodesk® CFD Design Study Environment
Autodesk® CFD Motion
Autodesk® Infrastructure Map Server
Autodesk® Infrastructure Map Server 5 Activations
Autodesk® Moldflow Design
Autodesk® Simulation Mechanical
Autodesk® Studio Wall
Autodesk® TruComp
Autodesk® TruComposites
Autodesk® TruContour
Autodesk® TruMulti-Tool
Autodesk® TruLaser

Other Products with projected end of sale in 2017

Autodesk® Advanced Steel
Helius Composite
Robot Structural Analysis
VRED Presenter

This is a really disappointing move, and I’ve never been too keen on software companies allowing you to use their applications via a subscription model. Admittedly, it’s useful in some situations when people only require the tools for a limited period, and it’s much cheaper to buy a month’s access. However, there needs to be freedom to use either business models and not force companies to pay a hefty monthly fee.

Visual Studio Will Now Include Xamarin

Microsoft recently brought out Xamarin, software based on letting people create programs using C# and .NET operating systems which can then be ported to both iOS and Android. This meant that using the Microsoft based languages you could develop software for a variety of phones. It’s now been revealed that if you are interested in using the software, all you will need is Visual Studio.

With this announcement you can enjoy Xamarin for free as part of Visual studio, and not just any Visual studio but every single version of the development software. With Visual studio offering a free community edition you could soon find the development tools available as part of the free suite of tools, with no restrictions either.

With the original releases of Xamarin featuring a restriction on the free version of the software, limiting just how large the software you created could be before requiring a paid license. Enterprise-orientated features of Xamarin will be restricted to Visual Studio Enterprise subscription users.

If you were looking at using it for OS X or iOS development you’ll need to have access to an OS X machine. In another step for Microsoft, the Xamarin SDK will be made open source and released on Github for all to see and use, including the Xamarin Forms library for creating quick and easy user interfaces.

MSI Z170A GAMING M5 (LGA1151) Motherboard Review

Introduction

Since the release of Intel’s Z170 chipset, MSI has unveiled a fantastic, feature-rich motherboard range which caters to contrasting user demands. For example, the Z170A GAMING PRO CARBON is an excellent choice for consumers wanting a stylish black colour scheme and great reliability at an affordable price point. In contrast to this, the MSI Z170A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM Edition‘s gorgeous aesthetic design makes it one of the most innovative LGA1151 motherboards on the market. Of course, the iconic dragon styling on many MSI products have become a popular choice among the core gaming demographic. This red and black theme compliments mainstream hardware and retails at very competitive prices across various performance tiers.

The MSI Z170A GAMING M5 is a mid-range motherboard sporting an attractive design and impressive specification. More specifically, the product is capable of housing two PCI-E M.2 storage devices and has support for USB 3.1 Gen2 connectivity. Not only that, the motherboard includes a one year premium XSplit license and Nahimic audio enhancements. As you might expect, many of MSI’s leading technologies are incorporated such as DDR4 Boost, Game Boost and much more. Given this particular model’s astonishing software suite and military class components, I expect to see it rival higher priced offerings rather well. Could this be the best value Z170 motherboard thus far for high-end users? Let’s find out!

Specifications

Packing and Accessories

MSI always does a phenomenal job when it comes to packaging design and the Z170 GAMING M5 is no different. The bold colours and stunning product snapshot contrasts extremely well. This is one of the most eye-catching motherboard boxes I’ve seen and showcases the motherboard’s beautiful appearance.

On the opposite side, there’s a brief synopsis of the motherboard’s key selling points such as support for 3-way crossfire, 2-way SLI and Audio Boost 3.0. This is presented in a slick manner and doesn’t alienate the end-user with technical jargon.

In terms of accessories, the motherboard comes with a user’s guide, driver’s disk, metal case badge, I/O shield, SLI bridge, registration details, basic installation guide and four SATA cables. Please note, the press sample I received was previously used by another media so there’s only 3 SATA cables displayed in the photograph. Rest assured, the retail version will include four and be packaged without the need for an elastic band.

How To Disable Windows 10 Lock Screen Adverts

Windows 10 has caused a debate amongst users, both those who have adopted the new operating system and those who have decided to stay with the older operating systems. One of the most contested things about Windows 10 was its adverts, including those found in its start menu. They even added adverts to solitaire (shown above). People aren’t too keen on the adverts and if you don’t like the ones that appear on your lock screen you can disable them by following the guide below.

It should be noted that the adverts that have appeared on users lock screens only appeared earlier this year, advertising Windows or Xbox games from the Windows Store. People dislike the ads for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that they appear as if they are just normal apps you have on your PC, they don’t even look like advertisements most of the time. The adverts are provided as part of Spotlight, a feature designed to customise your lock screen. If you prefer you didn’t get adverts, you can follow the guide below to remove them.

First things first, you need to go to the settings page and find the option titled Personalization (should have a monitor icon next to it). Once you get to the options you need to select Lock Screen on the left-hand side, something will open that looks innocent and gives you the option to change your lock screen image. Selecting Picture is all you need to do to disable the adverts.

Seems simple right? The catch is that when Microsoft have another ad for you in a weeks time, by default when it’s pushed to your computer Spotlight will re-enable (see why people are getting annoyed yet?).

To disable the recurring Spotlight you need to disable the “Get fun facts, tips, tricks, and more on your lock screen” option that can be found at the bottom once you’ve changed your selection from windows spotlight.

Thanks to Digital trends for pointing out these tips to everyone, and even going so far as to point out that if you check out the start tab of the Personalization screen, you can even disable the Start menu ad’s by disabling the “occasionally show suggestions” option.

Microsoft isn’t making many friends with their decisions to include ad’s (intrusive ones included) in their operating system and isn’t helping it by hiding the choice to disable them behind obscure names and enabling features whenever they want.

Google Makes Photography Tools Free

Google has lots of software under its belt, one of which was the mobile editing app Snapseed. They gained control of this back in 2012 when it acquired the German Developer Nik, creator of Snapseed and several other photography tools. In its latest move with the software, Google has made the photography tools it acquired free.

The photography tools are part of the Nik Collection, a grouping of desktop plug-ins aimed at helping photographers with their images. Below is a list of the tools which integrate with Lightroom, Aperture, and Photoshop:

  • Analog Efex Pro
    • “Explore the look and feel of classic cameras, films, and lenses.”
  • Color Efex Pro
    • “A comprehensive set of filters for color correction, retouching, and creative effects.”
  • Silver Efe Pro
    • “Master the art of black-and-white photography with darkroom-inspired controls.”
  • Viveza
    • “Selectively adjust the color and tonality of your images without complicated masks or selections.”
  • HDR Efex Pro
    • “From natural to artistic, explore the full potential of HDR photography.”
  • Sharpener Pro
    • “Bring out hidden details consistently with the professional’s choice for image sharpening.”
  • Dfine
    • “Improve your images with noise reduction tailored to your camera.”

You can grab the collection from here for free, and if you purchased it (for the previous price of $149) this year you will automatically be rewarded. While the move suggests there will no future support for the tools, the fact that everyone can use them will surely only improve interest in the product and services the company provides.

Images courtesy of Ivan Slade and Saurabh Paranjape

FCC May Have Caused Manufacturers To Lock Down Routers Afterall

Last year we reported that the FCC (US Federal Communications Commission) may be moving to outlaw the practice of adding custom software to routers. The misunderstanding was cleared up with the FCC saying that they wouldn’t ban the practice, enabling people to customise their routers with their own software and tweaks in safety. It would now seem though that one manufacturer has done just that in response to the FCC’s new rules.

TP-Link is one of the largest routers manufacturers, offering hardware choices to people all over the world. Libre Planet, however, found that they may also be the first to start locking down their firmware, their evidence being the support conversation that shows TP-Link are starting to lock down the installation of open source and custom firmware on their devices.

TP-Link state that they are doing this in order to comply with FCC regulations regarding customizations on wireless routers, the very thing we were told wouldn’t happen! The result could be that third-party software, many of which are open-source, would become illegal if you attempted to place them on your router, something many do due to the support, features and quick security updates often found in open source software.

Do you customise your router’s software? Do you think it’s a good idea for people to be able to do this or is it a better idea to ensure everyone uses the same software?

Software Behind Futurama and Princess Mononoke Is Going Open Source

When it comes to software these days there are always options for you to choose from. The big decision is often based on your budget. If you were interested in making your own anime then you might be in luck as the software some great shows is going open source.

Toonz is a company that develops several pieces of software and even without knowing it you have probably seen it in use. Their main piece of software is an animation tool that helps with cleaning up drawings, composing and animating images and has been used on some big names.

It was thanks to Toonz software that we have Futurama and Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. The problem was often though that software of such high calibre needs maintenance and, therefore, a license cost (rumoured to be upward of $10,000 per each license). The program though has been brought out as part of a deal with Dwango, a term of the sale though is that the tool will become open source.

The new tool, OpenToonz, will feature functions developed by Studio Ghibli and the new tool looks to have “research labs and the animated film industry actively cooperating with each other”. The cost of the product will instead be recovered through training, support and customization services, leaving everyone from a teenager at home to a company to explore the software as they wish.

Malware Could Be Using Legitimate Signature Certificates

When it comes to installing software on your computer, we often have to take it on faith that the software is safe to use. As an extra precaution, the latest step is to allow companies to use “certificates”, digital signatures that show that a trusted company created the software. A group known for creating malware may have found a way around this system though as some of their nasty programs are using legitimate signature certificates.

By using legitimate signature certificates your computer trusts the software and installs it without further hassle, the problem being that the software is less than safe and, in fact, is just malware (or malicious software). According to Symantec, the group known as Suckfly has used no less than nine different singing certificates from nine different companies since 2014.

Categorising the found malware into groups, Symantec found that 11 of the identified tools could be used for backdooring into your system. While others could be used to log and find out your information, some even checked your network traffic to find out what could be used to access your system through port scanning software.

With so many certificates being stolen and used for signing malware, and it becoming a common practise amongst malware creators, could we see the need for another way of finding and checking software is legitimate if these techniques are so easily bypassed?

 

Kindle Users Must Update To Keep Using Online Services

When people think of e-books most will associate the word with the Kindle, Amazons e-reader. The reason being is that the kindle has become the symbol of e-readers, with the electronic ink making the original device easier to read than a traditional screen and the latest version including everything from Netflix to Angry birds. If you own a kindle though you may want to update otherwise you won’t be able to use their online services.

Revealed by Amazon, anyone using an outdated version of kindles software will need to update by March 22nd, 2016 or they will lose the ability to download books from the cloud, access the kindle store or even use other services provided by the device.

Failure to install the update by this date will provide users with the following message:

Your Kindle is unable to connect at this time. Please make sure you are within wireless range and try again. If the problem persists, please restart your Kindle from the Menu in Settings and try again

If you find this message on your kindle after March 22nd you will have to do a manual update to regain access to kindles services. Below you have a list of the version that each type of kindle will need to be at in order to keep using the services.

Kindle 1st Generation (2007) 1.2.1 Use Wireless
Kindle 2nd Generation (2009) * 2.5.8 Use Wireless
Kindle DX 2nd Generation (2009) * 2.5.8 Use Wireless
Kindle Keyboard 3rd Generation (2010) ** 3.4.2 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle 4th Generation (2011) 4.1.3 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle 5th Generation (2012) 4.1.3 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle Touch 4th Generation (2011) ** 5.3.7.3 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle Paperwhite 5th Generation (2012) ** 5.6.1.1 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle Paperwhite 6th Generation (2013) No Update Needed No Update Needed
Kindle 7th Generation (2014) No Update Needed No Update Needed
Kindle Voyage 7th Generation (2014) No Update Needed No Update Needed
Kindle Paperwhite 7th Generation (2015) No Update Needed No Update Needed

For more information regarding how to update or how to find out your software’s current version, please check out Amazon’s post here.

BBC Among Sites That Ran Malicious Adverts

When you go to a website, you are often met by an onslaught of advertisements. For everything from custom-built PC’s to the latest diet trend, advertisements are everywhere. Sadly they may not be the only thing appearing on your computer with the use of malicious adverts appearing more and more often. In the recent onslaught though even the BBC was caught running malicious adverts on their site.

Major websites were hit by the “malvertising” attack which sees malicious adverts uploaded to third party advertising companies which then give these adverts out to other sites. The harmful “malverts” included your everyday malware and even file-encrypting ransomware, a type of software that is making and appearance more and more these days.

Trend Micro first reported on the malverts on Monday, only to have a similar post held off till Tuesday from MalwareBytes Labs while they contacted several advertising networks in the hope of getting the malicious adverts removed.

With large groups like the BBC, Newsweek, MSN and the New York Times all being exposed to the malicious adverts it may be a good time to check that your anti-virus software is up t o date and do a thorough scan of your system.

Fancy Making Your Own Game? Cryengine Bundle Could Help

Ever feel like making your own game? Well with the news that the Cryengine is now free to use, you could start doing just that and Humble bundle are looking to help you by giving you a bunch of assets for cheap with proceeds going to charity.

As with most bundles, there are three tiers for the Cryengine bundle. The first tier features everything you need to create your very first game, with plants, shrubs and trees joining environmental props and a paintball first person shooter project to get you started with the engine.

The second bundle you get once your donation goes over the average and features some vehicles, weapons, audio tools and the nature and animal pack for Ryse.

Finally, you have the upper tier of the bundle, featuring a starter project for a survival game, some extra vehicles, characters and city scenery. You even get two Ryse packs, featuring the world building and roman pack which contains building and characters from Ryse: son of Rome.

With so much content, you could build your own survival game combining the best of two worlds, with legionnaires going up against your well-armed modern day character or perhaps flip the table and see how long a well-armed legionnaire would survive in the modern city?

The world is yours to create, and with the money going towards the children’s miracle network, a charity where gamers help support hospitals all over, you can’t help but grab the bundle.

Cooler Master Releases MasterKeys Pro Series Keyboards

Cooler Master released their newest series of keyboards, the MasterKeys Pro series. The new MasterKeys Pro is available in two versions so you get just the size you need, want, and prefer, whether you like a full sized keyboard or rather a TKL without the num pad. Both versions feature the same functions and customizability, so pick which is best for your gaming needs. The full-sized version is called the MasterKeys Pro L and the TKL version is called the MasterKeys Pro S.

The Cooler Master MasterKeys Pro has a minimalistic design, but don’t let that fool you. The keyboard features full RGB backlighting with multiple effects and full customizability. On top of the extra bright LEDs, you find the Cherry MX switches of your choice, whether that might be red, brown, or blue switches.

It appears like a very simple keyboard when looking at it, but the MasterKeys pro is anything but simple. It is built with a 32-bit ARM processor which increases the possibilities when it comes to on-the-fly macro recording as well as general features. Most keyboards rely on software solutions to handle things and you can use Cooler Master’s software tool to configure and set up your keyboard to match your needs, but you don’t have to. You can do everything software-free too via the on-the-fly system built into the MasterKeys Pro keyboards.

“The MasterKeys Pro offers multiple lighting modes. Presets include Color Wave, Breathing, and other responsive effects. You can choose between red, brown, or blue switches to match your tactile preference,” said Kevin Yang, Peripherals Product Manager. “And you get all the features, whether you prefer a full size keyboard or a tenkeyless design. In addition to easy-to-use software, we are working on a Software Development Kit (SDK) to truly help Make It Yours.”

Cooler Master needed to completely redesign the interior of the MasterKeys to fit both the original Cherry MX switches as well as the much bigger and brighter LEDs used here. The end result looks stunning and should provide you with a stable partner for your online battles. The sleek lines, refined symmetry, and a heavy-weight quality build will help you keep things clean and simple. Speaking of clean and simple, the full-sized L version comes with hidden positioning grooves on the bottom of the keyboard, giving you 180° cable management and the ability to keep your keyboard and desktop sleek and organized regardless of arrangement preference.

The keys themselves have a soft-to-touch and long-lasting UV coating for a great experience and long-lasting effect that won’t result in missing letters and discolored keys.

Both the MasterKeys Pro L and MasterKeys Pro S are available in Europe from today, March the 15th, for a recommended retail price of €169 and €139 respectively. If all that peeked your interest, then you should check out our full review of the MasterKeys Pro S for an in-depth analysis and verdict.

Volkswagen’s US Chief “Stepping Down”

Volkswagen (VW) is a well-known car manufacturer, or more recently due to the revelation that their cars had a system in place to produce “lower emissions” if it was tested at the time. The latest in a string of events for the company, the head of the United States branch of the company, Michael Horn, is stepping down.

With the revelation that at least 30 people knew about the illegal practise of fixing text results and the result being that certain cars are having to be pulled from the market before a “fix” can be implemented, losing the head of a branch isn’t a good sign for the company.

It should be noted that Horn isn’t listed in any of the investigations being carried out regarding this matter, and VW is still saying that senior management didn’t know about the software update that would cause it to produce “better” results for emission tests.

Following on from the concept that they could “fix” the cars that were producing illegal amounts of nitrogen oxide (including removing the illegal software update), the chief of California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) stated that it “may not be possible” to actually fix these vehicles.

With more and more cars being pulled and banned from sale due to the illegal software, one can only imagine the impact these vehicles are having both on the company and the environment.

Microsoft Bringing SQL Database Software To Linux

Microsoft is well-known for three things, their hardware (such as the Microsoft Surface series), their operating systems and their software. The problem being is that a lot of these are closely tied together, their hardware uses their operating system and normally come pre-installed with their software. You can get their operating systems or software alone, but putting their software on another operating system tends to work quite badly (or if you are using the Mac version of Windows Office, you may be missing some of the features available on Windows). This is set to change with Microsoft announcing that their SQL database software will be coming to Linux soon.

For clarification, at least, some of Microsoft’s SQL server’s core capabilities will be coming to Linux, with what parts being heavily influenced by demand and feedback. With Microsoft looking to build their own Linux distro and even opening up their .NET framework for Linux and Mac OSX users, maybe we could see a more and more open approach regarding their software.

With open source software being a big part of companies and governments, Microsoft may be looking to not only get community support in increasing their software capabilities but possibly winning back some of the markets that are going to open source solutions.

Windows 10 May Be Removing Programs Without Telling You

Windows 10 is designed to be the next step for Microsoft’s operating system, with internet functions built-in alongside apps and new gaming technologies designed to help users make the choice to move that little bit easier. With Windows 10 now a recommended update you would expect that some users would be hopeful of the new operating system, something that may not be the case if it keeps removing programs from your system without telling you.

So the major benefit of the internet is that you can quickly update your system, no longer do you have to wait weeks for the latest security patch or game update as you can quickly update anything you need or download something entirely new within hours or even minutes. It may come as a surprise then with groups like LifeHacker noticing that some programs they have on their system seem to be removed after doing an update. In this case, they found the system information tool Speccy had been removed, giving you only an empty file icon and a question of why?

The current theory is that it is removing outdated apps and drivers when it does an update, a good theory but still one that should worry people. Hopefully, this is not an intentional feature, otherwise, users could soon find their programs and software removed from the system, finding out only days later when they need them the most.

I’ve yet to upgrade to Windows 10 personally, and with “features” like this, I can’t say I will be anytime soon.

AMD Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.2.1 Released

AMD have been pushing hard to improve their software experience, as well as improving the frequency of graphic driver updates, helping them better compete with the relentless release of Nvidia’s Game Ready drivers. So far, their new system has been a big improvement and today is no exception, as AMD push the release of the latest Radeon Software Crimson Edition.

Version 16.2.1 is marked as a “non-WHQL” release, so basically a beta release. However, the driver comes with the CrossFireX profile for the latest AAA release, Far Cry Primal. On top of that big profile release, you can also expect some game specific bug fixes for Fallout 4 as well as Rise of the Tomb Raider.

FreeSync users have cause to celebrate too, we hope, as AMD is also including a bug fix for choppy display on systems that use both FreeSync and CrossFire at the same time, which I’m sure you can imagine is a frustrating issue for a system that’s meant to provide a smoother visual experience.

Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.2.1 Highlights

    • Crossfire Profile available for
      • Far Cry Primal

Resolved Issues

    • A black screen/TDR error may be encountered when booting a  system with Intel + AMD graphics and an HDMI monitor connected
    • Choppy gameplay may be experienced when both AMD Freesync and AMD Crossfire are both enabled
    • Display corruption may be observed after keeping system idle for some time
    • Fallout 4 – Flickering may be experienced at various game locations with the v1.3 game update and with AMD Crossfire enabled
    • Fallout 4 – Foliage/water may ripple/stutter when game is launched in High/Ultra settings mode
    • Fallout 4 – Screen tearing in systems with both AMD Freesync and AMD Crossfire enabled if game is left idle for a short period of time
    • Fallout 4 – Thumbnails may flicker or disappear while scrolling the Perk levels page
    • Far Cry 4 – Stuttering may be observed when launching the game with AMD Freesync and AMD Crossfire enabled
    • FRTC options are displayed on some unsupported laptop configurations with Intel CPU’s and AMD GPU’s
    • Radeon Settings may sometimes fails to launch with a “Context Creation Error” message
    • Rise of the Tomb Raider – Corruption can be observed at some locations during gameplay
    • Rise of the Tomb Raider – Flickering may be experienced at various game locations when the game is left idle in AMD Crossfire  mode under Windows 7
    • Rise of the Tomb Raider – Game may intermittently crash or hang when launched with very high settings and AA is set to SMAA at 4K resolution
    • Rise of the Tomb Raider – Lara Croft’s hair may flicker in some locations if the Esc key is pressed
    • Rise of Tomb Raider – A TDR error may be observed with some AMD Radeon 300 Series products after launching the “Geothermal Valley” mission
    • The AMD Overdrive  memory clock slider does not show original clock values if memory speeds are overclocked
    • World of Warcraft runs extremely slowly in quad crossfire at high resolutions

Known Issues

    • A few game titles may fail to launch or crash if the Gaming Evolved overlay is enabled. A temporary workaround is to disable the AMD Gaming Evolved “In Game Overlay”
    • Star Wars: Battlefront – Corrupted ground textures may be observed in the Survival of Hoth mission
    • Cannot enable AMD Crossfire with some dual GPU AMD Radeon HD 59xx and HD 79xx series products
    • Fallout 4 – In game stutter may be experienced if the game is launched with AMD Crossfire enabled
    • XCOM 2 – Flickering textures may be experienced at various game locations
    • Rise of the Tomb Raider – The game may randomly crash on launch if Tessellation is enabled
    • Core clocks may not maintain sustained clock speeds resulting in choppy performance and or screen corruption

If you want to download the latest AMD Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.2.1 drivers, you can hit up the official AMD site right here.

Microsoft’s Unified Gaming Platform Hits More Trouble

Microsoft has long been keen on repairing what can only be described as a damaged relationship with the PC gaming community. After a slew of initial releases, Microsoft’s game for Windows Live has soured many experiences of games the company is directly involved, made worse by the lack of features (and sometimes playability at all) when the service was taken down. Windows 10 looks to save them from this past but the initial signs all point to trouble.

One of the key selling points of Windows 10 is DirectX12, a new system designed to make games run not only faster but smoother with all the benefits of the latest generation of software. With “apps” being downloaded through the Windows 10 App store, sometimes with exclusive releases of big games like Gears Of Wars: Ultimate Edition, the limitations on these releases suddenly becomes frightening for PC gamers.

According to recent reports from Guru3D, when testing the latest Ashes of the Singularity beta disabling the vsync setting wouldn’t actually disable the feature. This is because of the technology used to display games in Windows 10, the windows display driver model 2.0.

You may not notice the problem though as programs downloaded from the store don’t expose an executable file, something that a lot of software uses to help mold their experience. Ever use Steam’s big picture mode or Fraps? They both use executable files from your programs to run, meaning using them with Windows 10 games may be more difficult than expected.

Microsoft has said how much they want to bring PC gamers back to trusting their development and platforms. With items like this happening and the quiet (and disastrous) release of Gears Of War Ultimate Edition on their store, they may be harming rather than helping their reputation with the gaming community.

Computer Science Now a Core Subject in Chicago Schools

Chicago has a history of making large moves with the latest technology. From installing cables to help avoid power cuts to trains with no drivers, Chicago doesn’t want to stop there and has now become the first state that recognises Computer Science as a core subject.

Computer science is a debated subject, with pressure from governments and companies to help boost people’s knowledge of the technology they use every single day. Chicago public schools will now consider the classes as a core requirement, meaning that the 107 schools in the state which currently teach the course will be only the start.

In order to make sure the Computer Science course is there to help, the school district is working with not just companies but also Code.org, the group behind the hour of code initiative. With President Obama putting aside around $4 billion to help fund computer science courses across the U.S., and personally learning to write some code, Computer Science is quickly becoming more than an idea for schools.

With governments and companies like Apple running classes, it is quickly becoming clear that the need for people to understand not just how to use computers, but how they work and what they do is growing as we use more technology on an everyday basis. Combine that with schools opening up eSports courses to help promote teamwork and logical thinking, sometimes you almost wish you were back in school.

Multiple Motorola Devices Will Not Be Upgraded to Lollipop

These days we are being told that we need to install or swap out software and hardware all the time to keep it up to date. With everything from Windows Updates recommending a whole new operating system to a “security update” locking up your iPhones. When I decided to try out Windows Mobile (when it was first released) I liked the OS, except that it didn’t support anything. To my surprise (or not as the case was) they decided that my handset would be one of the ones that wouldn’t get the Windows 8 Mobile upgrade, leaving my phone outdated and out supported. It would seem that Motorola made the same decision with the Droid Ultra, Maxx and Mini editions regarding the latest Lollipop update.

On their forums Motorola posted the following:

“We apologise that we will not be upgrading DROID Ultra/Mini/Maxx to Android Lollipop, as we had hoped. We know how important software upgrades are to our customers, and we’re very sorry that we are unable to provide the upgrade.”

In an attempt to bring back any customers upset by this those with the Ultra/Mini or Maxx handsets can upgraded to the DROID Turbo 2 for $524 or the DROID Maxx 2 for $334.

The worst part about all of this is that the upgrade was promised and now instead of delivering on that promise they want you to pay for a new handset. No doubt this is going to upset anyone with one of the mentioned headsets, are you one of those people and if so how do you feel about this?

Windows 10 Mobile Preview Updated

Microsoft is keen on producing a unified front for their operating systems, both their laptop and PC OS and the one they’ve deployed for Windows 10 Mobile phones. With the Pentagon upgrading their computers to Windows 10 to the operating system becoming a recommended update, we’ve heard only a little about the mobile OS, that was until the latest preview.

The latest preview features improvements to both the Edge browser, the spiritual successor to Internet explorer, to Cortana’s music playing features. Like many apps you can now download, Cortana can listen to music and search for the name and artist of the song, which means no more remembering or noting down lyrics for that google search later in the day.

Edge has been updated with several usability upgrades and fixes, but one of the biggest changes was the download prompt has been “improved”,  meaning you now have a better chance of cancelling those unwanted downloads.

The latest build does come with a small known issue, the voicemail notification and delivery system doesn’t actually work. While you can still check your voicemail, you will have to do so manually.

With fixes addressing everything from phone rebooting errors to not being able to hide the navigation bar in certain 8.1 phone apps, the latest build seems to be a step forward in order to at least make people interested in the mobile OS as a choice when buying a new phone.