WordPress Fix Plugin Cache Directory Issues, WP Super Cache

This guide covers issues with WordPress cache plugins and site migration. By default WordPress doesn’t have it’s own caching system. Popular plugins for this are W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, and WP Fastest Cache. The basics of how each plugin handles caching is similar enough. This guide is going to cover WP Super Cache but should be relevant for all.

This issue occurred when I was migrating my site. I was moving my WordPress install from one server to another. The operating system, directory structure, and files were exactly the same as before. This  particular move involved going from one cPanel server to another. For this guide, I will use example.com for the domain and /home/example/public/ for the directory.

Because the server was setup exactly the same, I just assumed it would work. I’ve done many WordPress installs and migrations. Each one was relatively similar. Take a full backup of the site, including all files and databases. Then copy the files and database to the new server. Update the wp-config.php file to use the new database settings. And poof, you’ve got a copy of your site.

This time, everything worked from my WordPress migration, except the cache plugin. WP Super Cache showed the error, “Error: Your cache directory (/home/example/public/wp-content) did not exist and couldn’t be created by the web server.” Then it recommends checking the permissions. Ending the message with “Cannot continue… fix previous problems and retry.” So of course, the first thing I did was update the permissions.

At this point, please please take a backup of your site. If you’ve got automatic backup, then good job and skip down to Change File Permissions. If not, please take a manual backup at this time. It’s good practice to regularly backup your website files and database. All the content of your WordPress site is valuable! Also, if something goes wrong you can easily revert to a backup. You’ve been warned!

WP Super Cache Error: Your cache directory /home/example/public/wp-content did not exist. Cannot continue... fix previous problems and retry.

WP Super Cache Error: Your cache directory /home/example/public/wp-content did not exist. Cannot continue… fix previous problems and retry.

Change File Permissions for WordPress wp-content Folder

You need software installed to access the files of your WordPress site. I prefer to use FileZilla for my (S)FTP needs but any FTP client will work. Using (S)FTP software, navigate to where your WordPress site is installed. For the example its /home/example/public. This is the root of my example site. Your root will be different. It’s where all the files for your WordPress site are located.

Once you’re at the site root, right click the “wp-content” folder. A drop down menu appears. At the bottom of the list is “File permissions…”, click that. A new permissions box pops up. In the Numeric value input type: 775. Then Check “Recurse into subdirectories.” Under that pick the ratio “Apply to directories only.” Finally, hit OK. Wait for it to finish, which could take longer depending how big your site is.

Here is the breakdown of actions we just did. I’m also going to include the commands in case you want to do this using SSH. That is more advanced though, so ignore those commands if you are inexperienced:

  • Change directory to the root /home/example/public – cd /home/example/public
  • Set permissions of /home/example/public/wp-content –  chmod 755 wp-content
  • Set permissions of all directories bellow wp-content folder –  chmod 755 -R wp-content (added recursive command, you could just run this instead of previous command)

The last step takes longer depending on how many folders are stored under wp-content. In other words, if you’ve got a log of plugins or media library uploads. It has to read all the directories and change each one. The console of your FTP client will scroll telling you this information. Once it’s done scrolling, you’ve successfully changed all the permissions.

Updating wp-cache-config.php & advanced-cache.php Files to Fix WP Super Cache

Just changing permissions did not work for me. I had to do some other tweaking to my WordPress install. Upon researching the topic, many suggested updating two files. They suggest modifying the wp-cache-config.php and advanced-cache.php files. But, this is only helpful if you’ve changed the file structure. Perhaps, you moved to a new hosting provider and they use a different file structure than you’re previous. Like in the the example root. It would go from /home/example/public to /var/www/example/public. If this is the case for you, then follow these steps, if not jump down to Deleting wp-cache-config.php & advanced-cache.php Files.

  • Navigate to your WordPress site root and then the wp-content directory
  • Copy the wp-cache-config.php & advanced-cache.php files to your local computer
  • Open both files in a text editor
  • Search for the old WordPress install directory, like for example /var/www/example/public
  • If you got search hits for this then you do actually need to update to your new server’s file path. If you go no hits then go to the last step, Deleting wp-cache-config.php & advanced-cache.php Files.
  • Use find and replace functionality. Search for your old site’s structure and replace with the new. For example, search for “/var/www/example/public” and replace with “/home/example/public”. Save both files.
  • Upload them back to your server using (S)FTP.

In theory this could fix the issue. Refresh the WordPress admin. If the cache plugin error is gone, then congrats your WP cache plugin is fixed. If the error priests, then keeping reading.

Deleting wp-cache-config.php & advanced-cache.php Files to Fix WordPress Cache Plugin

This is the last solution to fix a WordPress cache plugin problem. You’ve gone through all the other steps. You’ve changed the permissions of the wp-content folder. Your new server is setup exactly the same as the old. Essentially, your file structure did not change in the migration like myself. Then follow these steps:

  • First, disable your cache plugin from the WordPress admin. In my case it’s WP Super Cache. Just search for the word “cache” if you’re not sure and disable that plugin.
  • Using FileZilla, or any (S)FTP account, navigate to the wp-content folder. Then, delete wp-cache-config.php and advanced-cache.php files.
  • Refresh your (S)FTP client to double check those files are gone.
  • Refresh your WordPress site or admin section.
  • Last, enable your cache plugin again. Like WP Super Cache, W3 Total Cache, WP Fastest Cache, etc..
WordPress admin plugins with WP Super Cache highlighted

WordPress admin plugins with WP Super Cache highlighted

Basically, we are turning the caching plugin off. Deleting the common cache files: wp-cache-config.php and advanced-cache.php. Then, turning the same WP cache plugin back on. Reactiving the cache plugin recreates those common files.

The wp-cache-config.php & advanced-cache.php will be brand new. The cache settings will be changed to the defaults. Obviously, you’ll need to update your cache settings. But, deleting those files is what fixed my problems. Following these final steps eliminated the WP Super Cache error from my admin. Once I got my cache settings back to my liking and poof everything my WordPress caching plugin worked again. Feels good.

Let me know in the comments if this worked for you! Thank you for reading.

Posted in Code, PHP, Software, WordPress

Setting Sail with Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves LogoIt’s time to channel your inner pirate, form a crew, and set sail with Sea of Thieves. It’s a new game that revolves around sailing, piracy, adventure, and of course treasure! I was able to experience this first-hand playing the the Sea of Thieves stress test that ended on March 3rd. I’m going to be writing a few articles about this game but I should note that this is based on the beta so things can change for the release.

Starting from the very beginning, you choose between a variety of pirate personas. They range from young to old, male or female, scared, peg legged. You can’t actually choose the traits you want but you can generate a new batch of pirates if none are up to par. Make sure to choose wisely because you only get one chance to set your character, it’s permanently tied to your account going forward.

Next, you’ll pick which ship you want and the size of your crew. In the beta their are only two ships to pick from: Sloop or Galleon. The Sloop is smaller and more agile but limited to a crew size of two or solo. The Galleon is large and packed with cannons that can support up to four sailors. Don’t worry about this selection because you can always go back and start on a different ship or with a different crew.

At this point you’ll want to invite your friends using the Xbox app on Windows or through Xbox live on console. You can also get matched up with fellow players to fill out your ship if playing alone. It’s also possible to join an existing crew that’s already hitting the high seas. The game does not let you decide this though so you’ll spawn in at a multitude of locations depending on what ship and crew you selected.

Setting Sail with Sea of Thieves

Let’s assume the game spawns you at the first outpost. You’ll start off in essentially a small pirate town. There are NPCs who will gladly talk with you, sell you stuff, and eventually give you clues and maps for finding treasure. Besides the NPCs you’ll also find a variety of barrels across the island full of bananas, planks, and cannon balls. It’s smart to pick up as many of these resources as you can. Once you’re loaded up it’s time to head to the docks where your ship awaits!

On your ship you can control the sails, anchor, steering wheel, and canons. On the side of the ship are ladders to get up and down if you’ve fallen off. You can climb up the mast to the crow’s nest to get an amazing view of your surroundings. Besides these things above, you can also go below deck to see storage barrels, an ammo chest, and cosmetic chest. Becoming familiar with your ship now really pays dividends when you inevitably run into trouble!

Once you and your crew have come aboard the real adventure begins. It’s time to lift up the anchor by interacting with it and waiting for your character and the other pirates to manually pull it up. You’ll also want to pick someone to be the captain and get to searing the ship. If you look up at the mast you’ll see the white streaks of the wind blowing. Depending on where you are heading you’ll need to adjust the sails to take full advantage of the wind power. It’s possible to do all the jobs on a Sloop and take it slow but I’d recommend having a friend or two help you out if you’re manning a Galleon.

At this point you might be asking, “Where do I go from here?”, but the good news is there is no right answer to that question! Sea of Thieves is a vast world ripe for adventure and looting. Especially at the start of the game you might as well organically adventure around the nearest islands you see. You never know what you might encounter but there are usually clues and riddles to help guide you.

Stay tuned for my other articles discussing the art direction of the game as well as PvP interactions.

Posted in Games, Sea of Thieves Tagged with: , , , , , ,

GeForce GTX 1080 Ti launches

Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti graphics card

Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti graphics card

The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti officially launched March 10, 2017 at a MSRP of $699. This is the latest Nvidia graphics card in the GeForce 10 series based on Pascal microarchitecture. It uses a cut down chip from the TITAN X but delivers similar performance due to it’s higher clock speeds.

Nvidia releases the “Ti” version of cards as it approaches the end of the series. No doubt this is the last graphics card in the GeForce 10 series and it saved the best for last!

GTX 1080 Ti “35 percent faster than a GTX 1080”

The company’s website markets the GTX 1080 Ti as the “World’s Fastest Gaming GPU” which is a big statement coming from Nvidia. The card was reveled late February at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang made the big reveal saying, “It’s time for something new, something that’s 35 percent faster than a GTX 1080, something that’s faster than TITAN X.” It’s hard to imagine that kind of performance but Nvidia reigns supreme at squeezing the efficiency out of it’s silicon.

What’s even more shocking is the price. With a MSRP of $699 the GTX 1080 Ti is almost half the cost of the TITAN X at it’s launch. Also the Founders Edition does not come with a price increase so you’ll be paying the same no matter when you decide to buy. Simply put, for $699 you can get the performance of a TITAN X or better!

The release of the GTX 1080 Ti also ushered in a price cut for the GTX 1080 to $499.99 and the GTX 1070 $349.99 as well. Of course these are the recommend retailer prices and not mandatory so you might end up paying a little more depending on where you buy it. At the time of writing this the GTX 1080 Ti is sold out on Nvidia’s offical site and retailers. Newegg is showing some GTX 1080 prices were lowered but only handful of models are at MSRP. I found some refurbished GTX 1070 from Newegg for $349.99 but all the new cards were more expensive.

Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti

Posted in Hardware, NVIDIA Tagged with: , , , ,

Ryzen 7 1800X, 1700X, and 1700 CPUs launch

AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard

AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard

Ryzen 7 1800X, 1700X, and 1700 processors were released March 2nd. These are the latest high-performance processors released by AMD based on the Zen microarchitecture. Hardware manufacturers also launched new motherboards equipped with AM4 sockets and new chipsets to take advantage of features like native DDR4 memory, USB 3.1 Gen 2 and NVMe.

This is the first major microarchitecture launch for AMD since Bulldozer in 2011. That family of processors also included Piledriver, Steamroller, and most recently Excavator generations. Although APUs were strengthened considerably in Excavator none of AMD’s CPUs could compete when it came to intense single-core performance that enthusiasts and gamers required. This resulted in Intel’s dominance in the high-performance processor space for the last six years.

Ryzen 7 sets world record for 8-core Cinebench benchmark

Thie release of Ryzen 7 CPUs is AMD’s answer to Intel’s i7 lineup. A defining feature of Ryzen 7 processors is they all sport 8-cores and 16 threads. This is huge because a majority of Intel chips are stuck on quad-core with a few octa-core that are expensive. Essentially, AMD is bringing 8-core processors to the masses at a price most can afford. Ryzen 5 chips were also announced to be released Q2 of this year.

It’s obvious the strategy for AMD is more cores but that was not very successful for Bulldozer and Excavator CPUs so what’s changed in Zen and Ryzen? The Zen microarchitecture dramatically increased it’s instructions per clock or IPC. This measures how many instructions per hertz can be computed by a processor. Originally, AMD was aiming for a 40% increase from Excavator to Zen but at AMD Ryzen Tech Day it was announced that Zen was actually performing 52% better than Excavator in benchmarks.

Benchmarks should always be taken with a grain of salt but when it comes to rendering and multi-core applications the Zen microarchitecture performs very well. The AMD Ryzen 7 1800X actually captured the world record for the Cinebench – R15 benchmark the day it launched. The AMD Ryzen 7 1800X beat out an Intel Core i7 5960X that’s clocked 680 MHz higher and costs $570 more!

Gaming benchmarks show a different story though. Video games especially depend on single-core performance because so few games really make use of every core in a processor. While AMD did make great improvements in IPC it’s still beaten out by Intel in this category and this shows in benchmarks for games. Another factor is Ryzen, AM4, and the motherboard chipsets are all brand new and could use optimization in both hardware and software.

All these chips come unlocked to allow for overclocking through the BIOS or AMD’s software. New “Wraith Coolers” were also released that provide cooling specifically designed for Ryzen chips.

Overall the AMD Ryzen 7 processors provide a good price-performance ratio. At the time of writing this you could buy a 1700 for $329.99, 1700X for $399.99 and the Ryzen 7 1800X for $499.99 though it’s back ordered on both Newegg and Amazon. This is just the start for CPUs released with Zen microarchitecture. Ryzen 5 processors are due out Q2 and there will also be APUs and server chips down the line.

Here are the specifications for Ryzen 7 & Ryzen 5 processors:

PRODUCT LINE MODEL CORES THREADS BASE CLOCK (GHZ) BOOST CLOCK (GHZ) INCLUDED COOLER TDP4 (WATTS) ON SALE
RYZEN 7 1800X 8 16 3.6 4.0 N/A 95 Now
RYZEN 7 1700X 8 16 3.4 3.8 N/A 95 Now
RYZEN 7 1700 8 16 3.0 3.7 Wraith Spire 65 Now
RYZEN 5 1600X 6 12 3.6 4.0 Wraith Spire 95 Q2
RYZEN 5 1500X
Posted in AMD, Hardware, Processors Tagged with: , , ,

BLU R1 HD is the best Android phone of 2016 for price & features

BLU R1 HD home screen

BLU R1 HD home screen

The BLU R1 HD is the best Android phone of 2016 for price and feature set. Specs include a 1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek processor, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB of internal storage, 4G LTE all behind a 5-inch Gorilla Glass 3 display. Don’t worry about filling up the internal storage because the phone features a MicroSD slot that can accommodate 64 GB cards. The standout feature is it’s dual SIM slots though.

All this can be purchased for $60 through Amazon Prime with “Lockscreen Offers & Ads” included and without for $110. That’s right, this phone is subsidized by Amazon to show non-intrusive ads in the notification area when locked. Of course you can pay more to get the ad-free version or with some tech skills root the  phone and remove them yourself!

BLU R1 HD — Bold Like Us

BLU  or “Bold Like Us” is a relatively new phone manufacturer based in Miami, Flordia. They’ve produced other value Android phones and feature phones like the PURE XR, LIFE ONE X2, and VIVO line. All their phones come GSM unlocked to let users choice which carrier they want to use. Sometimes they let you choose two carriers thanks to the inclusion of the dual SIM slots. Although their phone’s are priced competitively they seem to offer decent hardware and up-to-date software with the more recent versions of Google’s Android operating system.

The phone was released on Prime Day, July 12 2016, and  since then has become the number one (#1) best seller in Unlocked Cell Phones on Amazon. Their is also a lesser model with half the RAM and storage but only slightly cheaper at $49.99 & $99.99 respectively. Honestly, it’s worth an extra ten bucks to get double the RAM and internal storage.

If you are the market for a new Android phone then look no further! I’ve been using it almost daily since July and have had nothing but positive experiences with it. It’s a snappy phone with plenty of speed for games and intense apps. The outside is strudy and thanks to Gorilla Glass 3 it’s quite scratch resistant on the screen. At a price you can’t beat this could become your primary phone or serve as a great backup phone. I could see international business travels would also be interested in this phone because of it’s dual SIM slots.

 

Posted in Android, Hardware, Phones Tagged with: , , , ,

AMD announces Ryzen processor based on “Zen” architecture

AMD Ryzen processor logo

AMD Ryzen processor logo

Yesterday AMD announced Ryzen, their latest generation high-performance processors, at the “New Horizon” fan event. This is the first CPU based on “Zen” microarchitecture which has been under development for the last four years. Besides new silicon chips, AMD also released technology dubbed “SenseMI” that makes use of sensors and artificial intelligence to deliver even better voltage, clock frequency, and cooling.

Hardware specs of the featured Ryzen CPU include 8-cores, 16-threads, 95-watt TDP all running at 3.4 GHz without boost. AMD claims performance gains of “greater than 40 percent in instructions per clock” which could equalize or inch out Intel’s current offerings.

The fan event showed off benchmarks and 4K gaming demos pitting the AMD Ryzen against Intel’s Core i7-6900K. According to the AMD press release, “Blender- and Handbrake-based image rendering and video transcoding demos showed that the new CPU can match or outperform the Intel Core i7 6900K.” These benchmarks and demos should be taken with a grain of salt but AMD did release the Ryzen Blender demo for users to download and test out themselves.

Zen-based Ryzen processors & SenseMI

Zen microarchitecture was originally shown at E3 2016 using the code name “Summit Ridge”. Details have been sparse since then leaving enthusiasts to question if they should continue to wait or opt for Intel chips. Luckily for them this announcement cements the official launch of Ryzen/Zen for the first quarter of 2017 (Q1 2017). Generally, the highest performing processors are released first followed by consumer desktop and notebook variations and ending with server and extreme models.

AMD touts “multiple architectural advances combined with platform and processing technologies” for Zen. President and CEO Dr. Lisa Su elaborated further saying, “The ‘Zen’ core at the heart of our Ryzen processors is the result of focused execution and thousands of engineering hours designing.”  Zen’s performance is bolstered by “SenseMI” technology which was also announced yesterday.

SenseMI is not a singular technology but rather “comprised of five components” according to AMD. Those components are: “Pure Power, Precision Boost, Extended Frequency Range (XFR), Neural Net Prediction, and Smart Prefetch.” The first three components revolve around embedded and integrated sensors for optimal voltage, clock frequency, clock speeds, and cooling capability. The last two utilize artificial intelligence, algorithms, and software, “that learns to predict what future pathway an application will take based on past runs.”

The success of these new Zen-based CPUs is key for AMD’s future and to challenge Intel’s dominance in the microprocessor space. No doubt the performance and price of Ryzen/Zen could very well make or break AMD in the consumer desktop market.

Posted in AMD, Hardware, Processors Tagged with: , , , ,

Install FOX Sports GO App for Fire TV and Activate

FOX Sports GO LogoInstall and activate the FOX Sports GO app on your Fire TV to access live sports programming. Football, basketball, racing and other sports will be available to watch. The app allows you to stream FOX Sports, FS1, FS2, or your regional FOX Sports Network. You will need access to a cable or satellite subscription. Alternatively, a streaming service that supports the “TV Everywhere” apps can also activate. For example, PlayStation Vue provides this access.

There a few different ways to install the app on Fire TV. First, you could use the voice search button on the remote. Hit the search button and say “FOX Sports” to find it. Or use the Amazon download box to the left. This will directly fetch the app through your browser. It will automatically be installed to your Fire TV. Make sure you’re logged into the same Amazon account on both.

You could also manually find the app on your Fire TV. Browse to the Apps in the left menu and find the “Featured Cable Subscription Apps” category. It’s free to download the Fox Sports GO app but you must activate it! A service provider (like cable or online streaming) is required to activate Fox Spots Go.

Launch the FOX Sports GO apps by selecting the logo shown above and pressing the center button on the remote. You may also have to click “Open” if you are taken to the app’s information screen. Once it loads you’ll see a white screen with different live sports streams and a grey menu to the left. Notice the sports streams thumbnails have small lock icons next to them. If you tried selecting one now it would not work. All streaming is locked down until you activate with your subscription information.

Download FOX Sports GO app for Fire TV

Go to Settings in the left menu by hitting the down button on the remote and then center click on the remote. Now select the “Sign In” box by hitting the right button and center clicking on the box. A new screen loads up that prompts you to, “Sign in on your desktop or mobile device at https://www.foxsportsgo.com/FireTV And Enter: KC36Z..” which loads the web page to activate.

Sign in on your desktop or mobile device at https://www.foxsportsgo.com/FireTV

On the activate web page it tells us to, “Enter the activation code displayed on your TV screen.” My activation code started with KC36Z. Your activation code will be completely different because it’s unique to everyone. Enter your unique code shown on the Fire TV into the Activation Code box and click Submit.

Activate FOX Sports GO with your subscription information

FOX Sports GO Activate "Enter the activation code displayed on your TV screen."

Find your cable, satellite, or streaming subscription info. Select your service provider from the logos or click “More TV Providers” to see the entire list. I was using PlayStation Vue. I had to drill down into more providers and then search a list for the name. Once you click the name it will redirect you. Every provider has their own page. It will ask you to login in through their system. Lastly, you’ll be redirected back to the FOX Sports GO Activate page where it displays the conformation message, “Success! You have successfully activated Fox Sports GO.”

FOX Sports GO Succes

Some amount of time will pass before  your Fire TV updates. After a few seconds your Fire TV will automatically change screens back to the settings pages letting you know it’s been activated. Now instead of a “Sign In” box it will say “Sign Out”. That’s it for the activation! Go back to the “Live TV” option in the menu to view the live streams available. You’ll notice there are no more lock icons in the thumbnails.

The specific Fox sports channels you get depend entirely upon the subscription package from your cable, satellite, or streaming service. Generally everyone would get the national Fox Sports channels like FS1, FS2, and your local Fox affiliate. Other channels you could get include your regional FOX Sports Network, FOX Soccer Plus, FOX College Sports (FCS) or FOX Deportes. In my case I used PlayStation Vue in Austin, TX and got Fox Sports Southwest as my regional FOX Sports Network.

Fox Sports GO Live Now Toronto FC vs Montreal Impact, Washington at TCU, Spurs at Mavericks, Stars, FC Southwest

Posted in Android, Apps, Fire TV, FOX Sports GO, Guide, TV Tagged with: ,

Apple releases new iPhone 7 sans headphone jack

Apple iPhone 7 "This is 7."

Apple iPhone 7 “This is 7.”

Apple released it’s new phones but unlike past versions the iPhone 7 is designed without the headphone jack. The decision to drop the 3.5 mm headphone jack is part of Cupertino’s overall design aesthetic of making devices smaller at the expense of hardware ports. Apple’s Lightning EarPods are included along with an adapter for 3.5 mm jack.

For the curious, you can use the EarPods on devices with a Lightning port after they’ve been updated to iOS 10, though I’m not sure why you’d want to. Using wired audio through the Lightning connector means you cannot be charging or connecting to a computer because it can’t do any of those simultaneously! It’s a stunning omission but by default the new iPhone 7 cannot charge and be connected to EarPods or any wired headphones at the same time.

Rumors about the change to the audio port surfaced well before Apple’s official announcement on September 7 in San Francisco. Earlier in the year a redesigned MacBook was released which consolidated almost all of the ports into single USB Type-C port but the 3.5 mm headphone jack survived. Could Apple really keep a headphone jack in a redesigned MacBook but not the new iPhone?

iPhone 7 Lightning Port & EarPods

Instead, Apple is pushing it’s propitiatory Lightning port for wired audio consumption. It released it’s own EarPods with Lightning Connector that retail for $29.00 and got some audio manufacturers on board early to have new Lightning specific devices ready for the iPhone 7. For a cool $199.95 you can pickup the JBL Reflect Aware that are advertised as a “Lightning connector sport earphone” featuring Noise Cancellation and Adaptive Noise Control.

Here’s a list of what’s included with the purchase of an iPhone 7 or Plus:

  • iPhone with iOS 10
  • EarPods with Lightning Connector
  • Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter
  • Lightning to USB Cable
  • USB Power Adapter
  • Documentation

All this might have left you scratching your head. Why would Apple make the decision to drop the standardized 3.5 mm headphone jack? Besides Apple’s design aesthetic an answer also came from Phil Schiller, Apple VP, is quoted as saying “the reason to move on [is] courage.” So there you go, Apple removed one of the most ubiquitous audio connections ever on the basis of “courage.”

Posted in 10.0, Apple Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Steam 2016 Summer Picnic Sale Starts

Steam Summer Sale Ice Cube with Valve Logo in the Desert

Steam Summer Sale Ice Cube with Valve Logo in the Desert

The Steam Summer Picnic Sale began June 23rd after much anticipation. This sale features over 13,000 plus titles on discount and is considered to be one of the largest of the year behind the Winter Sale. Like most of of Vavle’s big sales you gain collectable trading cards that can be crafted into badges before the sale ends on July 4th at 10am PST.

Doom and Grand Theft Auto V are both top selling games discounted by 40% priced at $35.99. Other top games include Fallout 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Stardew Valley, Dead by Daylight, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Steam Summer Picnic Sale 2016

Steam Summer Picnic Sale 2016

Hardware was also prominently displayed on the homepage along side games which is a first for a major sale. Vavle’s own Steam Controller and Steam Link products along with the HTC Vive VR system and some bundles were featured.

Posted in Games, Steam Tagged with: ,

Silicon Valley’s Pied Piper Tech Explained

Silicon Valley intro logoHBO’s hit show Silicon Valley returns with Season 3 soon so I decided to take a deeper look at the technology behind the notorious Pied Piper. If you watch the show then you’ll be familiar with terminology like algorithm, compression, and “middle-out” being thrown around pretty consistently without much explanation. While the show is technically very accurate and does capture the startup turmoil around the San Francisco Bay Area it’s still a television show that for the sake of dialog and plot lines takes some liberties with the actual product that is Pied Piper.

For the most part Silicon Valley does a good job handling the technical jargon and believably of characters. Gilfoyle and Dinesh present legitimate technical issues as the developers and designers of Pied Piper and constantly banter about the best approach to take to solve said issues. But when it comes down to it, the characters don’t explicitly talk about what kind of a product Pied Piper is going to end up being. The vagueness surrounding Pied Piper is no doubt intentionally done by the show’s creators to keep techies intrigued just enough without giving away possible future plot lines.

Silicon Valley early seasons and Pied Piper’s website

First, lets look at the facts presented by the show. In the first season Richard is a programmer who creates an algorithm for compressing music as a side project. At this point it’s mostly just back-end code that through command line can crunch music down similar to how MP3s are created. Eventually, Richard meets Erlich who incubates the startup and along with the help of Gilfoyle and Dinesh win the TechCrunch Disrupt with a record-breaking Weissman Score of 5.2 by pulling together an minimal viable product (MVP) of Pied Piper intended for music streaming.

Besides the actual show the other official source of information comes directly from Pied Piper’s website, which is a real thing you can view for yourself here. The main tagline from the site is “A Middle-Out Compression Solution Making Data Storage Problems Smaller” which is prominently  displayed below the logo. Then it has the question I’m trying to answer: “What is Pied Piper?” with some fluff answers about bloated corporations and being small and focused. But then the first real answer: “business-facing compression company” and then in even bigger words, “As such, we are in the process of deploying an integrated, multi-platform functionality of all applications of our algorithm”. Still vague but with some interesting clues.

“Middle out doesn’t restrict itself to h.264 two dimensional grid or time bound patterns at all” - Gilfoyle

“Middle-out doesn’t restrict itself to H.264 two dimensional grid or time bound patterns at all” – Gilfoyle from Season 2 Episode 2

Jargon breakdown of two conflicting Pied Piper narratives

Let’s breakdown the wording presented from the website. Starting with “business-facing” that implies B2B (business-to-business) services which would no doubt be licensing the algorithm to other companies for their own use behind the scenes. But at the same time they talk about “multi-platform functionality” as if they are building their own consumer applications for iOS/Android/Windows users. Then there is the mystical “middle-out” which is simply a made up buzz word coined by a technical advisor to the show.

Not surprisingly, Silicon Valley and the website present two conflicting narratives about Pied Piper. In one it’s a just a business facing coding algorithm that would be perfect for data/cloud storage. The other is a consumer focused application for streaming music and videos with great efficiency. Honestly, I don’t even think the creators really even know which it truly is.

Posted in Silicon Valley, TV Tagged with: , , , ,