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Creative Sound Blaster Drivers

11 June 2019


As noted earlier, there are known issues with Windows 10 version 1903, and one of them is incompatibility with certain Sound Blaster sound cards. Creative has begun releasing new drivers to address this, and their availability can be checked on this page of their site.



AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 19.6.1

11 June 2019


AMD has released the Adrenalin Edition 19.6.1 driver for the HD 7700, HD 8500 series and above on Windows 7 and 10. This driver provides support Xbox Game Pass for PC, as well as a range of bug fixes.



Site Update

10 June 2019


Having just upgraded to Windows 10 version 1903, I must admit that Microsoft has made the process much less annoying. All of my data, most of my settings - and surprisingly, all of my drivers - were retained. Some drivers did appear to have been "repaired" by Windows, as unnecessary additional driver components had been reinstalled/re-enabled, but my older drivers haven't been updated (e.g. I use a custom Bluetooth driver which enables the aptX codec). This is the first feature update that hasn't trashed my Windows 10 install. A range of minor, and seemingly random, changes did occur, including some of my custom Registry tweaks being removed, 8Gadgetpack requiring a repair, and of course, the telemetry being completely re-enabled. Everything is performing well, drive space is the same after a cleanup, and there are no new annoyances to report. So if you were holding off on upgrading, now appears to be a good time to do it.


Update: Some people are misinterpreting my report to mean the update is flawless. This can never be the case for any major software update; there are known issues with 1903. But I repeat that I've never seen a Windows 10 feature update cause so little disruption as this one - remember, my previous update (to 1809) required a complete reimaging of my drive to fix. Others also report a smooth transition, so your odds are greatly improved in my opinion if you wish to roll the upgrade dice.



VLC Media Player 3.0.7

7 June 2019


The free VLC Media Player has been updated to Version 3.0.7. This update improves Blu-ray and MP4 support, as well as providing security and bug fixes.



CCleaner 5.58

7 June 2019


A new Version 5.58.7209 of the free CCleaner system cleaning utility has been released. This update fixes issues with Easy Clean and Chrome browser cleaning, and removes the Google Toolbar software bundled into the installer.



Chrome 75.0

5 June 2019


Google has released Version 75.0.3770.80 of the Chrome browser. This update provides improvements, as well as security and bug fixes.



Firefox 67.0.1

5 June 2019


Mozilla has released Version 67.0.1 of the Firefox browser. This update introduces Mozilla's various services and products on in-browser screens and prompts. It also enables Enhanced Tracking Protection by default for new users, while existing users can turn it on by going to Options>Privacy & Security>Custom, ticking Cookies, and selecting 'Third-party trackers'.



iTunes

4 June 2019


Apple has announced that the iTunes app will be discontinued with the launch of iOS 13, likely in September 2019. Itunes' functions will be split into three separate apps: Music, TV and Podcasts. There are concerns regarding what will happen to music you already own, as well as playlists - Apple says that the Music app will allow access to these, including downloading them, and you can still purchase music to own within the Music app, as the iTunes store will reside there. However, Apple is not killing off iTunes for Windows; as reported by Wired: "Apple clarified Monday that iTunes for Windows would continue on its current state."



Nvidia GeForce 430.97 Hotfix

2 June 2019


Nvidia has released the 430.97 Hotfix graphics driver. This driver is for the GeForce 600 series and above under Windows 10. It addresses: crashing in Forza Horizon 4 when driving through tunnels; and a Code 43 error when installing the GeForce driver on Windows 10 May Update systems with Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs.



Site Update

2 June 2019


An update on The Linux Experiment: no progress; other things are currently taking up my time. I suppose this is all part of the experiment - when Windows is working smoothly, apathy takes over. But there's no room for apathy with Windows 7 EOL looming, so I'll get on it shortly.


Meanwhile, I've been asked if I regret buying an Intel i7 9700K CPU. I'll risk unpopularity with AMD fans by saying that I still have zero regrets choosing the 9700K. The new-gen Ryzen architecture looks to be very efficient and should perform very well. It's great to see Intel being pressured by a more agile company, well done AMD. But most of the Ryzen 3000 rumors proved to be way too optimistic, and now the same clickbait outlets that peddled those rumors are once again pumping out sensationalist nonsense. AMD's own Computex benchmarks, which provide a best-case scenario, show all of the Ryzen 3000 series roughly on par with a 9700K for single-threaded performance, and the 3700X & 3800X chips, the 9700K's closest price/performance competitors, beating the 9700K at best by 28-37% in multi-core, largely because the AMD chips use SMT while the 9700K doesn't - Cinebench is one of the few applications to totally saturate 16 threads. I suggest real-world benchmarks will show far less of a difference. Further, as I noted in the Hardware Confusion 2019 article, SMT/HT is a well-known vector for security vulnerabilities. For example, Linus Torvalds of Linux fame says "[disabling SMT] is what security-conscious people do anyway"; the security researchers who found the recent Intel side-channel vulnerabilities state "I hope our work encourages users to disable SMT in the BIOS or choose to spend their money on architectures not featuring SMT"; and SMT can even cause problems in games.


There are a range of other considerations which will differ from person to person, such as: the benefits of PCI-e 4.0; teething problems with a new architecture; the Intel CPUs having IGPs while the Ryzens include a fan; overall cooling & overclockability - Ryzen 3000 has much lower TDP, but may overclock less, while Intel announced a new Performance Maximizer auto-overclocking utility, etc. The bottom line is that the AMD Ryzen 3000 series is good news for all tech enthusiasts, but sensible people will ignore the fanboyish nonsense, and wait for independent, real-world, benchmarks and reviews to appear before deciding. Do your research, and you will come out smiling either way :)



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