The TR Podcast 86: A portal to raw potatoes and hot graphics

The Tech Report Podcast Date: April 24, 2011

Time: 1:25:54

Hosted by Jordan Drake

Co-Hosts: Scott Wasson, Cyril Kowaliski, Geoff Gasior

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Show notes

We’ve got an eclectic mix of topics in this episode of the TR Podcast, starting with some listener mail. Hoping to enter the DirectX 11 world, Mike wonders if a simple graphics upgrade or an entire system overhaul is necessary to get him ready for the fall gaming season. After Mike’s question is answered, Jordan digresses from the agenda to crow about his newly built gaming PC based on the latest TR system guide’s Utility Player configuration. Then, it’s on to the latest in PC gaming, including a panel discussion of Portal 2, another round of excited Battlefield 3 chatter, and debate about id Software’s upcoming Rage.

Our gaming talk behind us, we move on to the latest reader poll, which queries TR visitors about the “rawest” deal in the tech world right now. We wrap things up with a showdown of two mid-range GPUs, followed by a lightning round of miscellaneous tech stories.

Send in listener mail, and we’ll answer on the podcast. –

Follow us on Twitter – ScottJordanGeoffCyrilThe Tech Report

Listener mail:

Upgrading to Direct X 11 – from Mike – (0:01:33):

“My current pc rig is built off of one of your utility player builds from a couple years ago, it has a Phenom II X4 940, 4 gbs of DDR2, a 4890 gpu, and a 1 tb caviar black system drive. I also have a 650 watt modular Corsair PSU. I’m gaming on a 46″ HD tv at 1080p via HDMI. I want to dive into the direct X 11 pool by upgrading my gpu later this year to something like a 6870 or a gtx 560 ti when they hopefully drop below the $200 price point. My question is: will upgrading just my gpu and keeping all of my other current hardware give me enough horsepower to play newer games like Battlefield 3 and Skyrim with smooth frame rates and high graphics settings? Or will my older hardware like the DDR2 hold my system back on these games and does it warrant an entire system upgrade to a sandy bridge rig?”

Tech discussion:

    Jordan’s new gaming PC (0:07:56)

    A roundtable discussion of Portal 2 (0:14:25)

    12 minutes of Battlefield 3 gameplay (0:24:38)- Read more

    Rage previews reveal new details (0:27:13)- Read more

    Prey 2 to feature open-world bounty hunting (0:35:52)- Read more

    Poll: Rawest tech deal? (0:40:03)-The pollGLaDOS@home ARGZ68 chipset

    XFX’s Radeon HD 6950 1GB takes on Zotac’s GeForce GTX 560 Ti AMP (0:57:45)- Read more

    Razer Switchblade to be commercialized in China (1:10:00)- Read more

    Razer motion controller gets release schedule, price (1:11:19)- Read more

    Apple sues Samsung for ‘copying’ the iPhone and the iPad (1:14:03)- Read more

    ARM: Smartphones, tablets may become our main computers (1:18:40)- Read more

    New touchscreen tech promises pressure sensitivity (1:21:19)- Read more

    Unfazed by Sandy Bridge setback, Intel posts record revenue (1:23:47)- Read more

That’s all, folks! We’ll see you on the next episode.

Comments closed
    • WildNelson
    • 8 years ago

    Love the podcast. Long time listener here, but can I make a quick suggestion? At the beginning you should go around and have everyone introduce themselves, so new listeners know which voice goes with which name.

    Oh and thanks for the great Portal talk! Can’t wait to play it.

      • jdrake
      • 8 years ago

      A grand idea Nelson – we will try that on the next episode.

      Glad you like the podcast:-)

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 8 years ago

    Okay, I kinda lol’d when Scott was imitating his friend Andy cheering, “YEAH! I got 8 potatoes!”

    Edit: regarding the whole iPhone-tracking issue:

    In my opinion, it’s not as big of a deal as people are making it out to be. If you have a warrant out for your arrest, some police agencies and the FBI have the capability to track you with even just a normal cellphone. Accordingly, here’s a pro tip: just don’t break the law.

    It’s possible that information Apple gets from that practice is something they worked out with AT&T in terms of planning where to add more cell towers. At any rate, I’m not so self-concerned or egocentric to think that they would lavish MY personal location information with extra attention. It probably sits in a data center somewhere for years and gets used once on a blue moon for a demand-usage simulation model.

    • Silus
    • 8 years ago

    I loved the excuses for Portal 2…
    So for other games the concept is “gameplay and graphics” are part of the whole package and one cannot dissociate one from the other, so if the graphics are sub-par the game just isn’t as good. For Portal 2, graphics are ok, not that good, but what matters is the gameplay……

    Not to mention the consolitis in Portal 2, not even the don’t turn off you console message, but the fact that there are portions where there are invisible walls that don’t let you fall to your death…plus the locked FoV command. For other games, this is a clear sign of consolitis, yet for Portal 2, it’s not ?

    And criticizing Rage for the graphics, while praising Portal 2 for its graphics is beyond insane…

    Can you at least admit to being so utterly biased that you can’t form a coherent opinion ?

      • sweatshopking
      • 8 years ago

      to be fair, scott did say that rage looked excellent. Jordan was the skeptic. On the rest of it though, I agree. valve gets a free pass on pretty much everything, because it’s valve.

      • Aphasia
      • 8 years ago

      On the other hand, the lesser graphics of Portal 2 had much fetter feeling for me than Crysis2, so I guess graphics can be somewhat dissassociated from gameplay. Or rather that if the Story is incredible, you dont really mind its not the latest gwizbang graphics features as long as its good enough to support the story and envelop the mind. On the other hand, if the story isnt good, you want at least the good looks, else its really nothing in the game.

      As for consolitis.. If the message doesnt impact gameplay or story, who cares. There are more important things to put the money on. As for Invisable walls and Fov, thats the artists prerogative, no matter what has actually been going on before on PC. There really isnt anything stopping chaning fov on a console either. Except for maybe the difference in drawable objects on screen at the same time which might impact performance.

      The non remappable keyboard keys and inability to disable a gamepad without actually unplugging your normal joystick from a game, thats more what I would call a sign of consolitis.

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    Well Scott, since you say you are not happy with the iOS tracking, an say it might prompt you to change OS’. check out wp7, it unlike android (better than apple) and apple, does not track. [url<][/url<]

      • Damage
      • 8 years ago

      I sure both of WP7’s users are overjoyed.

        • sweatshopking
        • 8 years ago

        well, me and the other guy are pretty happy with it. You’re right that it’s had a slow uptake, but I think with nokia, we might see better adoption. personally, i prefer it to iOS or android, despite it’s “small” user base.

        And for the record, sarcasm aside, your own point was that one of the competitors would come forward, and they have.

          • Damage
          • 8 years ago

          True, true.

          • d0g_p00p
          • 8 years ago

          While the wp7 OS is very nice and the hardware I used it on (HTC) was fast and snappy it’s going to be like any other MS mobile device and fail miserably. The turning for MS in the mobile space will come when Windows 8 on ARM is out. That is when I think a big change will happen. That is when we will start to see your phone being your main computer. Having your phone run the same OS as your desktop computer is going to be huge. MS knows this as well or else they would not be devoting resources to have W8 run on ARM devices nativity.

      • glynor
      • 8 years ago

      I finally listened to this podcast today (I’ve been busy with a new baby), and I wanted to comment on the tracking thing anyway…

      Microsoft confirmed that WP7 [b<]is[/b<] actually tracking you as well, they're just doing it differently. Unlike the incorrect information in this podcast, WP7 devices are actually sending this data to Microsoft any time you use an application that accesses location data. I realize this podcast was recorded before all of the details about this issue came out... So, let's review: 1. The iPhone does [i<]not[/i<] send any personally identifiable location data to anyone over the network without your explicit permission. It does send anonymous and encrypted location data to Apple (if you've approved the "feedback" option when you first set up the phone) which they use to improve the "A" part of their A-GPS system. However, this data is not the same as the file on the phone, it is anonymized and encrypted and cannot be tied to any particular device or user. The local file on the phone is not actually technically a tracking of your phone's location, but is a "cached map" of nearby cell towers and WiFi hotspots downloaded from Apple, which can include locations up to 100 miles away from your phone's current location, and which is inaccessible to any application on the device. 2. Android does essentially the same thing, except that the location cache is properly cleared out after a short period of time (Apple apparently arbitrarily set theirs to just have a max size of 2MB, rather than a time limit, which is being fixed). That's good. However, Google also transmits your location data on a regular basis back to Google where they do god-knows-what with it. Google is an advertising company and this is valuable data. On the good side, Google doesn't directly tie this data to your device's GUID. However, it is tied to a device-specific hash code. Whether this has can be reversed to identify individual phone owners is unclear. Unlike Apple's broken implementation (which they've pledged to fix), Android does correctly disable this if you disable all location services on the phone. However, you must do it globally and then essentially can't use any location services at all. 3. WP7 does not keep an on-device location cache. Instead, [url=<]they regularly transmit your phone's exact coordinates via the Internet[/url<], with a unique identifier tied to your device, to Microsoft where they do god-knows-what with it. In Microsoft's case, I'd say they probably aren't up to anything nefarious. They're probably just doing the same thing as Apple, and caching it server-side rather than device side. However, in this case you have absolutely no control over what happens to this data. Personally, I think the way Apple is doing this is the most consumer friendly way. It was implemented in a "fast and dirty" way, which they should be ashamed of, but at least it isn't ever transmitting personally-identifiable data to anyone without your express consent. I'm also curious... Do technically-smart people really use their iPhones without enabling the encrypted backups in iTunes? I'm baffled by this. In the podcast, Scott said that "it is on your computer and it is not password protected", and also mentioned that Cyril used the tracking application that started all of this hoopla. This is only true, and that tracking application thing only works, if you haven't encrypted your backups! It didn't work on my system. While it isn't shocking at all that my mom would use her iPhone without enabling the encryption on the backups until I turned it on for her, it baffles me that people who should "know better" would leave this simple option disabled. If someone has that kind of access to your unencrypted iPhone backup, you'd honestly have much bigger problems than them simply tracking where you were (within 100 miles) with your phone! They could read all of your email, text messages, look at your entire browsing history, pull data out of apps, and pretty much rummage through anything you have on your phone with simple DD commands. If you don't have your backups encrypted, shame on you. Shame on Apple for making the encryption opt-in rather than opt-out, but I imagine that has a lot to do with the support calls they'd get when people forgot the password they set last year when they first set up their phone and now they need to restore a backup.

    • codedivine
    • 8 years ago

    Btw good job on the title Jordan 🙂

      • jdrake
      • 8 years ago

      I’m afraid I can’t take any credit for our title this episode – we create each title by committee at the end of the recording session – it’s usually Scott or Cyril’s idea that we run with.

    • codedivine
    • 8 years ago

    Gaming discussions on the podcast are always fun, keep them coming. The razer motion controller looks interesting, will certainly look forward to the coverage on TR.

      • travbrad
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah, I like these gaming discussions because games can be very subjective. It’s good to hear from more than one viewpoint.

      While I’m impressed by RAGE’s engine (tech5), I’m not really that excited about the game itself, because all of id’s recent games have had generic gameplay. I’d love to be wrong though.

      Great podcast as always.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 8 years ago

    Unfortunately, I can’t listen to this podcast until I scrounge up the money to buy Portal 2.

      • Cyril
      • 8 years ago

      You should be fine… we avoided spoilers in the podcast.

        • jdrake
        • 8 years ago

        HA! Wait till you hear the next episode – now that I’ve finished the game…

      • travbrad
      • 8 years ago

      I was trying to hold off till there was a Steam sale for it, but this Podcast is testing my willpower. 🙂

    • DancinJack
    • 8 years ago

    I’ve been eagerly anticipating this.

    Whatever type of screen and input system Apple uses is fantastic. The sensitivity and reaction with that screen is awesome. I’m sure some of it is iOS, but it’s still pretty great. Talking about the iPhone 4.

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