Pulkit Chandna

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Posts by Pulkit Chandna

Google Chrome: Draining Laptop Batteries Since At Least 2010

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Low Battery WarningFirst discovered in 2010, battery-draining bug yet to be fixed

It seems Microsoft has quietly slipped into the habit of commissioning at least one study every year that compares the power-consumption habits of major web browsers and declares the latest version of the company’s very own Internet Explorer to be the most power-efficient browser of them all. Although one can’t take such comparisons seriously, there may be some truth to them after all, especially where the lackluster performance of Chrome is concerned.

There is a serious bug in Chrome that causes the browser to wake up the CPU as many as 1,000 times per second even when idle, thanks to the system clock tick rate being set to 1.00ms by Chrome. This is many times more than the 64 times per second usually observed with the Windows default clock tick rate of 15.625ms. Believe it or not, this bug has been known to Google for many years now but has yet to be addressed. According to a Chromium bug report, dated September 29, 2012 (the bug first surfaced in 2010), the issue boils down to there being “no system clock tick interval management.”

The bug report also quotes Microsoft on this whole issue of the clock tick being decreased to 1ms: "If the system timer interval is decreased to less than the default, including when an application calls timeBeginPeriod with a resolution of 1 ms, the low-power idle states are ineffective at reducing system power consumption and system battery life suffers.System battery life can be reduced as much as 25 percent, depending on the hardware platform. This is because transitions to and from low-power states incur an energy cost. Therefore, entering and exiting low-power states without spending a minimum amount of time in the low-power states can be more costly than if the system simply remained in the high-power state."

Thankfully, Google is now trying to fix this issue and the bug has been assigned internally.

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Still Committed to Small-screen Windows Tablets, Lenovo Insists

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Lenovo Miix 8

Company recently diverted ThinkPad 8 inventory meant for the States to other markets

On Thursday, a report quoting a Lenovo spokesman claimed that the Chinese PC vendor had decided to stop selling sub-10-inch tablets in the States “due to lack of interest” and was going to divert any remaining inventory of the ThinkPad 8, which debuted in January with a starting price of $449, to countries like Brazil, China, and Japan where demand for such 8-inch tablets continues to remain strong. The company has now issued a statement clarifying that the withdrawal of the ThinkPad 8 should not be construed as an exit from the market for sub-10-inch Windows tablets in the States.

“We will continue to bring new Windows devices to market across different screen sizes, including a new 8-inch tablet and 10-inch tablet coming this holiday,” the company said in a press release Friday. “Our model mix changes as per customer demand, and although we are no longer selling ThinkPad 8 in the U.S., and we have sold out of Miix 8-inch, we are not getting out of the small-screen Windows tablet business as was reported by the media. In short, we will continue to sell both 8 and 10 inch Windows tablets in both the U.S. and non-U.S markets.”

This means those contemplating buying a small-screen Windows tablet will have one less vendor to choose from for the foreseeable future — not an ideal situation considering there’s not a lot to choose from anyway.

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Frustrated FiOS Subscriber’s Video Exposes Severity of Verizon’s Netflix Throttling

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Netflix Throttling by Verizon

New York-based Verizon user finds Netflix to be nearly 10x faster with a VPN than without it

Netflix and Verizon are now locked in a blame game over the sluggish performance of the former’s video streaming service on the latter’s network. This despite Netflix (grudgingly) agreeing to pay Verizon to ensure the smooth delivery of its streaming video content to the ISP’s subscribers. Regardless of who’s to blame, it’s paying customers of both companies who are being made to suffer for no fault of theirs. One such end user caught in the crossfire, New York-based entrepreneur Colin Nederkoorn, posted a video exposing the severity of the issue. The video has since gone viral, having amassed over 400,000 views on YouTube.

The video shows a couple of Netflix streaming speed tests performed by Nederkoorn, first using nothing but his 75 Mbps Verizon FiOS connection and then using a VPN (VyprVPN to be precise). In the first instance, the results are truly awful, with Nederkoorn only managing 375 Kbps with “severe” buffering. Once he switches to a VPN, however, there is an almost 10x increase in streaming speed.

“It seems absurd to me that adding another hop via a VPN actually improves streaming speed,” Nederkoorn wrote in a post on his blog. “Clearly it’s not Netflix that doesn’t have the capacity. It seems that Verizon are deliberately dragging their feet and failing to provide service that people have paid for [as is alleged to be the case by Netflix and Level 3, one of the Internet backbone providers contracted by the former to deliver its video content]. Verizon, tonight you made an enemy, and doing my own tests have proven (at least to me) that you’re in the wrong here.”

Please note, the results reflect the experience of one user and haven’t been verified by us.

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Seagate Quietly Begins Shipping 8TB HDD Samples

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Seagate Enterprise Capacity Hard Drives

Pleased with initial feedback on ‘customer development units’

Seagate on Thursday reported its financial results for the fiscal fourth quarter and year ended June 27, 2014. The company exited the quarter with some decent numbers, reporting gross margin of 28 percent and net income of $320 million on quarterly revenue of $3.3 billion. But if we ever feel the urge to cast our mind back to the fourth quarter of company’s fiscal 2014, it’s more likely to be on account of the insanely large capacity enterprise hard drives it began shipping during the period than those numbers.

The quarter not only saw the introduction of a 6TB enterprise HDD from the storage maker but, as the Cupertino-based company revealed during its latest quarterly earnings call, it also began shipping out sample units of an 8TB drive it had alluded to during its previous quarterly earnings call.

“We have also delivered 8 terabyte customer development units to major customers and cloud service providers and the initial customer feedback has been very positive,” said Seagate’s CEO and chairman Steve Luczo on the call. “While it’s still early in the development of our Kinetic object-based storage platform, we are in deep technical discussions with a very broad-base of enterprise customers. We believe our focus on developing key values for object-based storage will make the Kinetic platform a differentiated offering in the cloud storage marketplace.”

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Microsoft’s Cortana Voice Assistant Correctly Predicts World Cup Winner

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Cortana in action during the World CUp

The voice assistant was spot on with 15 out of 16 knockout match predictions

The quadrennial soccer extravaganza that is the FIFA World Cup just got over in Brazil, with the Germans beating the Argentinians for the title by scoring the only goal of the match in the second half of extra time. But they weren’t the tournament’s only winners. The final also saw Microsoft’s Windows Phone voice assistant Cortana cap off an overall brilliant tournament by once again correctly predicting the winner prior to kick off.

During the knockout matches she was spot on with all her predictions, save for the Brazil-Netherlands third place playoff, where her mojo deserted her and she ended up favoring hosts Brazil instead of the actual winners, the Dutch.

Here’s an excerpt from a post on the Bing Blog explaining how the predictions work: “The process of predicting outcomes of sporting events is unlike voting show predictions [another thing Cortana does], as popularity and some sentiment signals do not play similar roles in determining who wins a contest.  Rather, the actions and performances of a handful of individuals solely determine who wins, loses, or ties.  For the tournament, our models evaluate the strength of each team through a variety of factors such as previous win/loss/tie record in qualification matches and other international competitions and margin of victory in these contests, adjusted for location since home field advantage is a known bias.  Further adjustments are made related to other factors which give one team advantages over another, such as home field (for Brazil) or proximity (South American teams), playing surface (hybrid grass), game-time weather conditions, and other such factors.  In addition, data obtained from prediction markets allows us to tune the win/lose/tie probabilities due to the ‘wisdom of the crowds’ phenomenon captured by the people wagering on the outcomes. You can read more about the model on the Next Blog here.”

Image Credit: Bing Germany

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