Monthly Archives: November 2015

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Apple’s A9X has a 12-core GPU and is made by TSMC

Enlarge / A die shot of the A9X. The ratio of GPU to CPU is becoming pretty insane. (credit: Chipworks via AnandTech)

Apple makes interesting chips for its mobile devices, but it doesn’t talk about them much aside from extremely high-level relative performance comparisons. That means it’s up to experts like the ones at Chipworks to open them up and figure it out, and they’ve partnered up with AnandTech to dig into the A9X in the iPad Pro.

The most significant news is about the GPU, which is a 12-core Imagination Technologies PowerVR Series 7XT design. The company doesn’t generally offer a 12-core design, as shown in the chart below, but the architecture is designed to be easily scalable and it wouldn’t be the first time Apple had gotten something from a supplier that other companies couldn’t get. The standard A9 in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus uses a 6-core version of the same GPU. Apple feeds that GPU with a 128-bit memory bus, something that it’s also included in other iPads to boost memory bandwidth and GPU performance.

Imagination’s chart for the Series 7XT GPU puts a hypothetical 12-core design in the same general performance neighborhood as an Nvidia GeForce GT 730M, a low-end discrete GPU that’s a bit slower than the stuff Apple is shipping in its high-end MacBook Pros. Our own graphics benchmarks place it a bit higher than that, but as some of you have pointed out, iOS may have a small advantage in some of these tests because of differences between the mobile OpenGL ES API in iOS and the standard OpenGL API used in OS X.

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Lexus LX: Jalopnik’s Buyer’s Guide

The Lexus LX is a Toyota Land Cruiser for Sheikhs. What do you need to know before you buy a Lexus LX? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in our Buyer’s Guide.

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Personal Finance Goals Take Time, So Prepare for the Wait

Personal Finance Goals Take Time, So Prepare for the Wait

When I first started getting my finances in order, it was kind of an exciting time. I was excited about kicking my debt to the curb; I was excited about saving for fun stuff like travel. Mostly, I was excited about being in control of my money. But after a while, it got boring.

Once I learned to be diligent about my money and learned to change my habits, there were no more actionable items on my personal finance to-do list. The only thing I could do was wait. Money After Graduation sums up this issue pretty well:

Eventually, after you get your finances under control, you cannot modify your behavior any further to get closer to your financial goals.

You just have to wait for the time to pass.

You can calculate the amount you need for financial independence, or figure out your debt-free date. Then you can automate your savings or debt payments. But after that? You just wait. And wait. And wait. It can take years until those payments translate into the tangible results you want. The waiting game to see the results of good financial habits might be one of the hardest aspects of taking care of your money. Because it’s boring. Because the initial rewards are few and far between. Because every step of the way you’ll wonder if progress is really happening or not.

To put it simply, the novelty of getting your money in order wears off after a while. Your financial journey is not always going to be an exciting one, but if you can keep your eye on the prize, you’ll get past the plateau, and your patience will pay off.

If you want to read more on this topic, head to Money After Graduation’s full post, below.

Financial Goals Take More Than Money, They Take Time | Money After Graduation

Photo by Pictures of Money.

The 2016 Audi TT’s Biggest Edge Is Still How Good It Looks

Longtime readers of this website may remember that when it launched a decade ago, Jalopnik announced itself to the world as a place that loved cars sometimes “just because of the curve of a hood.” And in a nod to compelling hood curvatures—as well as the site’s “exclusive sponsor” at the time—its logo contained the Audi RSQ concept from I, Robot.

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8000 Horsepower Does Not An Easy Burnout Make

More power doesn’t always make shredding tires easier.

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Inside (literally) wind turbines meant to work at the South Pole—and Mars

Enlarge / Roses are red, violets are blue, turbines use magnets to generate power which can be used to make light, and without light you are likely to be eaten by a grue. (credit: Northern Power Systems)

BARRE, Vermont—It started with Mars. In 1993, NASA gave a Small Business Innovation Research grant to Vermont-based Northern Power Systems (NPS) to build a very southern wind turbine—as in, a turbine that could reliably work at the South Pole.

NASA was interested in a wind turbine that could potentially provide power for human exploration of Mars, and the National Science Foundation was interested in some electricity at its South Pole station that didn’t require flying in fuel. NPS set about tackling both challenges in one fell swoop, designing a low-maintenance turbine using components that could survive the deathly Antarctic (or Martian) cold. A few years later, a 3 kilowatt turbine was spinning away at the South Pole.

Video: Ars visits Northern Power Systems to get our wind turbine learn on. Shot and edited by Jennifer Hahn. (video link)

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The Best Ways to Get a Bartender’s Attention (Without Being a Jerk)

The Best Ways to Get a Bartender's Attention (Without Being a Jerk)

Getting the attention of the bartender at your favorite watering hole can be a daunting task, especially after work or on the busy weekends when everyone’s out for a drink or three. To make it a little easier, we sat down with a couple of bartenders who have been slinging drinks for years to get the best tips. Here’s what they suggested.

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Whether you’re setting foot into a new bar, or you’re out with coworkers and friends, getting served can be tricky if you’re competing with dozens of other patrons. We’ll be blunt: There’s nothing you can do to skip the line, nor should you actually want to do that. But there are some things you can do to get prompt service, show your appreciation, and make the bartender more willing to come back when you approach the bar again. If you’re already a regular at your favorite establishment, you’ve already learned the ropes. For the rest of us, here’s what you need to know, straight from two friends of the site: Michael, whom you may know as mfusion, and “Diane,” a bartender who preferred to stay anonymous.

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First, What Not to Do

Before we dive into the things you can do to make sure you get good, repeat attention at the bar, let’s talk about a few behaviors you should avoid. Some of them are obvious, like not being an outright jerk, but that subtle sense of entitlement that a lot of people get because they’re the ones opening their wallet and they expect the person behind the counter to be their servant for the evening doesn’t help either. Leave it at the door, take a few deep breaths, and avoid these:

  • Keep your hands, money, menu, or anything else out of the air. Both of our bartenders chimed in on this separately. Snapping your fingers, waving your hands (unless you are legit behind a dozen people and can’t be seen unless you do), waving the menu in the air, whistling, yelling, or repeating “EXCUSE ME” when you’re in clear sight of the bar is going to get you ignored. Keep your money on the bar until someone’s there to take it—waving bills in the air like your bartender is a stripper makes you look desperate, not wealthy.
  • Don’t wait behind solid objects and expect to be seen. You think this would be clear, but Michael explained too many people stand behind the taps or sit behind a high part of the counter and then get frustrated when they’re not noticed. He reminds us, “I simply can’t see through solid objects.”
  • Don’t give the bartender a nickname, and don’t call her “barkeep.” You’re not on a first-name basis with the person pouring your drinks, and they’re not your buddy. Unless they give you their name—and you bet if you’re a good customer they will—don’t presume to call them by something you just made up, or call them “barkeep.” Unless you’re sipping mead at a Renaissance Festival, Michael reminds us, “We hate that word. This is a bar, not an inn.”
  • Don’t stand at the waitstaff service station. The service station is, well, for wait staff in the restaurant, or cocktail servers in the bar. They’re designed for people who have punched in orders (or for employees to punch in orders) and to grab drinks and go. Don’t stand there—you’re in literally everyone’s way.

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Once you’ve mastered the fine art of not doing any of these (seriously, it’s not difficult) you’re ready to move on. After we were through talking about some of the things you just shouldn’t do, our bartenders explained there are some other behaviors that’ll help you get seen, noticed, and taken care of.

Be Patient (a Little Friendliness Doesn’t Hurt Either)

First of all, be patient, especially if the place is busy. It’s easy to think that the bartender is serving everyone at the bar but you, but odds are they’re already working their way to you, as long as you’re actually at the bar. Michael says:

Really, I’m trying to get to everyone…plus the service station, plus keep an eye on what’s happening on the floor for potential fights or arguments, trying to figure out a way to ask the inappropriate couple dry humping in front of the lavatories to stop, and get way caught up long enough to take a break. We’ve got a lot going on at once!

Oh, and also, I swear that I’m not serving the women first. Maybe the ones you’re watching know something about politely getting attention that you don’t. Really, I’m a professional, I’m trying to get to juggle everyone at once.

Finally, be courteous. Even if you’ve been waiting a while, don’t huff and puff and say “finally, can I get a…” A little courteousness goes a long ways, as does a little understanding. When you finally do get the attention you want, treasure it and make the bartender want to come back to you again later. If you act like a jerk when you finally do get a bartender’s attention, you probably won’t see them again very quickly. On the other hand, Diane explains that a little kindness goes a long way:

I am much likely to pour a stronger drink, or give leftover milkshakes (alcoholic or not), leftover daiquiris, or a basket of free fries to the people that make my shift more enjoyable.

While you shouldn’t expect anything by being a decent human being, good people look out for each other, especially when one of them is having a rough time and the other shows a little kindness and respect in turn.

Stand Where You Can Be Seen (or Where the Bartender Has to Go)

We mentioned above that you should stand where you can be seen—and obviously not on the other side of a solid object. There’s more to that story though, as Michael explains:

Look for the soda gun. That’s where my well is. That’s where I make everything. That’s where I stop moving. That’s a good place to ask my name and then order a drink. If there are multiple bartenders, or you’re at a long bar, try to figure out where their well sections overlap, and stand there. Now you have twice the odds of getting someone’s attention.

If the bar atmosphere comfortable enough for you have your money on the bar in front of you, forearms on the bar, try to make the eye contact casual while being deliberate about it. A slight raise of the hand in the absolute direction while we’re looking at you will get attention. Like in the James Bond movies. (Seriously, Daniel Craig knows what’s up.)

In short, park yourself where your bartender needs to be at some point, and you’ll never be ignored. You’ll also be more likely to get your drink quickly, and, if you’re amicable, strike up a conversation with the bartender that’ll result in a better evening for everyone.

If you’re out on a weekend and the bar is packed, you might have a tougher time here. If you’re standing like two or three people deep from the counter, the bartender can’t get to you, so don’t just stand there waiting. Make an effort to nudge your way in and get a place at the counter. Stand facing the bar, looking at the shelf or the taps. If you’re standing with your back to the bar, chatting with friends, or staring at your phone, the bartender is less likely to approach you because they assume you’re busy—and there’s likely someone else actively looking at them waiting for their attention.

Be Ready When The Bartender Approaches

Okay, so the bartender leans in towards you and asks “What are you drinking?” Now’s your chance, don’t blow it.

Did you look blankly at the shelf, or flip over the drink menu, start to read, and say “uhhhhhh?” You blew it.

Be ready when the bartender approaches you, especially at a busy bar. Spend the time you have waiting to think about what you’re going to order, or peruse the cocktail menu if there is one. When your bartender arrives, the best thing you can do is be ready with your drink, and the drink of your friend, date, colleague, or whomever you’re there with. Holding that drink menu in your hand, or leaving it flipped over on the counter, can also signal to the bartender that you’re ready to go and you know what you want. Michael notes:

This is very important. Know what you want or at least have a relevant question when you do get our attention. Don’t stop us and then look at the menu.

Really, know what you want to drink. If ordering for a group, at least know the first two or three drinks. The indecisive ones better get their butts in gear though, I’ve got a serious cigarette break coming up.

Diane agreed, and pointed out that this extends to parties, and even tables when she has to attend them:

A closed menu will get my attention because then I know that the customer is most likely ready to order. If I have to work tables, stacked or grouped dishes will get my attention, because it is quick and easy to pre-bus a table and do a quick check on the guest. Also if a guest is just having a drink, an empty glass at the end of the table will make me think they want another and to go over and offer.

Oh also, if people send me on multiple trips to get them drinks, fries, or whatever I will get annoyed and avoid them for awhile. Only if they are asking one at a time, or if one person asks for something and I ask if anyone else needs something and they don’t speak up until I have left and returned, though.

Ideally you’re going to the bar because you want a drink, so you probably know what you’re in the mood for. If you’re not sure how to order at a bar, now’s a good time to learn how to drink like an adult, or choose a wine to drink. None of this means you have to walk in knowing what you want already, but you should have at least some idea of what you’d like to sip. Plus, if you’re going to spend time waiting for the bartender, you can at least use it productively.

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Tip Well, Especially On the First Drink

Finally, good tips are appreciated, especially in a field where you make the majority of your paycheck on tips. Both of our bartenders echoed this tip—tip well in general, but a decent tip on your first drink says a lot. Michael pointed out that a decent—but not ridiculous—tip on your first drink will remind the bartender where you are, and remind them who you are when you reappear at the bar. Diane went a bit further, and also reminded us that if you tip poorly, no one remembers like a bartender:

We are a money driven society, so obviously when someone leaves me a generous tip I am also going to remember them and be excited to see them again the next time I get to wait on them.

On the other hand, if I give people excellent service and they tip poorly I will remember. Tips are my paycheck, I am not going to waste my time on needy customers who tip poorly when I could be serving others that will actually tip me. If I am not busy I will give them the best service I can, but I focus my attention appropriately.

As for how much you should tip your bartender, well, let’s just say it’s probably more than you think you should tip. Still, most bartenders understand that their customers aren’t industry people, and don’t expect them to drop as much as their colleagues (sometimes 50% per drink) would.

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Of course, none of these will make sure the bartender drops everything each time you step up to the bar. If there are a dozen people at the bar, all there before you, try not to be a terrible person: wait your turn, be patient, and be kind. However, keeping these tips in mind will make sure that the bartender will slide over when you need them, you’ll get what you ordered more quickly, and everyone involved— you, the bartender, and that delicious drink in front of you—have a great night.

9 gifts for the ultimate tinkerer

Winter is coming. And with it also comes the need to show the loved ones in your life just how much you care for them by spending, spending, spending on gifts. Trouble is, there are just so many options to choose from. What you really need is someone…

Amazon is apparently making a video app for the new Apple TV after all

Enlarge / The new Apple TV. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Over the weekend, Amazon’s tech support team confirmed that Amazon is working on a Prime Video app for the new Apple TV. Amazon has become a major player in the streaming video field over the last two or three years, and the service’s absence on Apple’s newest streaming box is one of its biggest holes relative to competing boxes from the likes of Roku and Amazon itself. As of the end of October, Amazon officially had nothing to share about an Apple TV app, so this news is a welcome reversal.

This is notable partly because Amazon pulled the Apple TV and Google’s budget-friendly Chromecast from its store back in October. Though all of those devices just happen to compete with Amazon’s own hardware, the reason given at the time was that those boxes didn’t mesh well with Prime Video streaming service. In addition to the Fire TV and Fire TV stick, Amazon continues to stock the Roku lineup and a bunch of minor-league players that don’t support Prime Video but were apparently not important enough to delist.

Apple served as a gatekeeper for the third-generation Apple TV, so the move sort of makes sense for that box—the only way to stream Prime Video on that model is to use AirPlay from an iPhone or iPad running Amazon’s app, an experience that is subpar at best. But Amazon just happened to delist Apple’s boxes at the same time as Apple was releasing a new fourth-generation model with a full SDK and App Store. In other words, the only thing keeping Amazon from adding Prime Video support to the Apple TV was Amazon, since the company already offers an app for iOS and tvOS offers many of the same capabilities.

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AMD’s new Crimson drivers accused of burning up video cards

AMD announced its new Crimson drivers, replacing the Catalyst name and software, with great fanfare earlier this month. The first Crimson drivers are now out, and they appear to have a serious problem. There are widespread reports of cards overheating and perhaps even failing permanently.

It appears that the new driver is setting the video card fans to 20 percent and then leaving them there. Normally, the fan speed should increase as the GPU temperature goes up, but that is not happening with Crimson. Even during games and intensive workloads, the fans are sticking at 20 percent, allowing GPU temperatures to climb to more than 90° C. These high temperatures are causing poor performance due to thermal throttling, graphical glitches and crashes, and some users are reporting permanent hardware damage. Although the GPU itself throttles when it overheats, there’s speculation that other components on the cards, such as the VRMs, can still be damaged.

AMD has acknowledged the fan speed issue and says that a hot fix will be published today. This is unlikely to be any great comfort to those whose cards have bitten the dust, and it makes for an inauspicious debut for AMD’s new driver. This is, however, not a problem unique to AMD; in 2010, Nvidia published a driver update that had a similar fan controller issue that led to cards overheating and in some cases breaking entirely. Another Nvidia release in 2013 also yielded complaints of overheating and video card destruction.

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