NV Updater (Nvidia Driver Updater) 0.4.0.1 released to customize Nvidia driver installations

We reviewed NV Updater, a tool to customize installations of Nvidia drivers by blocking certain unwanted components from being installed with the driver, in February 2020.

The developer of the application released version 0.4.0.1 recently and with it a good selection of additional components that administrators may block from being installed.

Nvidia is notorious for adding components to its driver; some of these may not be needed others not wanted by users. Additionally, the regular driver installation process lacks options to disable the majority of components that get installed during driver installation.

A classic example is the installation of the Nvidia Shield controller driver. If you don’t own a Shield, you don’t have any use for that driver. Same is true for other components such as 3D drivers, ShadowPlay, or Telemetry.

It has been our recommendation from the start to only install the Nvidia components that you need on your devices, e.g. only the Nvidia graphics driver and to do clean installs. Third-party programs like NVSlimmer, NVCleanstall, or TinyNvidiaUpdateChecker assist users in the process.

NV Updater

nv updater 0.4

The latest version of NV Updater is available on the project website. It is compatible with all recent versions of Microsoft’s Windows operating system and offered as a 1 Megabyte archive. Just extract the archive on the system after the download and run the installer to install it. The program checks for the existence of Nvidia cards and will exit if none is detected.

The interface displays all available options; at its core, it is an update checker that will automatically customize drivers before the driver gets installed on the system. First thing you may want to do is change the update check interval (every six hours). You may also disable checks for NV Updater update checks.

Once done, check the components that you don’t want to be installed on your system when a new driver is installed. The latest version introduces support for the following components:

  • NvCamera – Ansel
  • HDAudio – HDAudio
  • PPC – USB Type-C Port device driver
  • Display.NView – nView
  • Display.Update – Display driver automatic updater
  • MSVCRT – Visual C++ runtime components
  • NGXCore – NGXCore
  • nodejs – Node.js
  • NvAbHub – AbHub
  • NvBackend – Nvidia Backend
  • NvVAD – Virtual Audio Driver
  • NVWMI – WMI provider
  • Update.Core – Update core

Note that some of these may be required for some functionality. You may need to experiment with component removals to get it right on your system.

Previously, you already could configure NV Updater to remove components such as GeForce Experience, Telemetry, ShadowPlay, Shield Wireless Controller Driver, NvContainer or Physx.

Closing Words

The update to version 0.4.0.1 introduces new components that users may remove from Nvidia drivers so that these are not installed on their devices. NV Updater is a good option for Windows users who want more control over the installation process. It lacks options to process a manually downloaded driver at the moment; NVSlimmer may be the better option in that case as it allows you to do that.

Now You: Do you customize your driver installations?

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USB Condoms are a thing now

If you connect your devices to anything public, be it wireless or wired Internet, or USB power charging stations, it is best to assume that these are not safe. While you can protect your data in several ways, e.g. by using a VPN when you need to access the Internet while connected to a public or untrusted network, it is sometimes the case that simple things are overlooked.

In November 2019, Los Angeles’ District Attorney’s Office published an advisory to travelers about the potential dangers of public USB ports. These ports could be used for an attack that has been called juice-jacking.

Juice Jacking basically allows attackers to steal data or infect devices that unsuspecting people plug into specifically prepared USB power stations. The Distrcit Attorney’s Office recommended that travelers use AC power outlets directly, use portable chargers, or charge devices in cars instead of using public USB chargers.

usb condom

While that is sound advice, it may not be possible sometimes to use these alternatives. That’s where the Original USB Condom comes into play. The USB Condom is a device that is attached to the charging cable so that it sits between the device’s charging cable and the public USB charging station.

The Original USB Condom prevents accidental data exchange when your device is plugged into a foreign computer or public charging station with a USB cable. The USB Condom achieves this by blocking the data pins in the USB cable and allowing only power to flow through.

The main idea behind the electronic device is that it blocks the data pins so that data cannot flow; this does not affect the charging capabilities so that devices may be charged as if they were connected directly to the charging station.

The device is available for $6.99 over at Syncstop. It is currently out of stock (as of early December 2019), but the site revealed that it expects the USB Condom to be restocked later this week.

The Original USB Condom is not the only device designed to block data transfers when connecting devices via USB to charging stations. A quick search returned PortaPow devices that block data transfers as well as others.

If you know someone who is traveling a lot, or spending lots of time in public places using public USB chargers at times, it may be a useful present.

Now You: Do you connect your devices to public charging stations / wireless networks?

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Intel started to remove old downloads from its Download Center

If you are using devices with Intel hardware, you may want to head over to the company’s download center website right now to download drivers and other files for that hardware before Intel removes it.

The company added notices to lots of files offered on the site, e.g. BIOS updates like this one, that reveals that it plans to remove these downloads from the site on November 22, 2019.

End Of Life – This download, BIOS Update [RL86510A.86A] P21, will no longer be available after November 22, 2019 and will not be supported with any additional functional, security, or other updates.

The product has reached end of life according to Intel and the company recommends that users remove the product or discontinue using it.

All versions are provided as is. Intel recommends that users of BIOS Update [RL86510A.86A] P21 uninstall and/or discontinue use as soon as possible.

The message is displayed even if no newer version of a download is offered by Intel. In other words: Intel wants customers to upgrade motherboards and devices to newer hardware components.

intel remove download center files

The removal does not affect aging old (in computing terms) hardware only either. This particular BIOS update was released in October 2018 and it is going to be removed as well from the company website.

Not all BIOS files are removed from the Download Center site but the removal criteria have not been revealed by Intel.

The removal affects numerous hardware components including motherboards, network drivers, and graphics adapters. Twitter user foone noticed in mid-September 2019 that Intel removed drivers selectively from its site.

The issue was first reported on the vogons forum and the thread includes some suggestions on obtaining drivers and BIOS files for Intel hardware. One of the options include using a 2014 Archive.org mirror of Intel’s FTP site. Additional links are provided in the thread.

Closing Words

The motivation behind the removal is unclear.  Intel announced plans some time ago to revamp its website and it is possible that the removal of what might look to Intel as dead weight received the okay during meetings.

The removal is problematic for a number of reasons. Old hardware may still be in use and it requires old drivers. There are still C-64 and Amiga computers used for instance, and the same is likely true for devices running older Intel hardware.

It may also be difficult to understand why a company like Intel (or any other large organization, e.g. Mozilla, Microsoft or HP) would remove files (or information) from company websites that require little maintenance or storage.

Now You: are you affected by the removal?

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Quick overview of the 2019 Microsoft Surface event

Microsoft revealed seven new products on today’s Surface event; five of which will come out this year, two next year. The coverage of the event is overwhelming and many sites post five, ten or even more articles that cover individual products or impressions.

This overview provides you with the most important information in a single, straightforward way.

Highlights:

  • Microsoft Surface Duo: Android-powered mobile device with two screens that can rotate 360 degrees.
  • Microsoft Surface Pro X: A new Surface device powered by a Qualcom/Microsoft processor called SQ1 and runs Windows on ARM.
  • Microsoft Surface Neo: A new Surface device featuring two 9 inch displays that rotate 360 degrees.

Let’s get started.

Surface Pro 7

A refresh of the Surface Pro lineup, now available in the seventh generation. Powered by Intel 10th generation processes the device will give customers several options when it comes to the components.

The base model starts with 4 Gigabytes of RAM, 128 Gigabytes of storage and a core i3 process; other models offer up to 16 Gigabytes of RAM, 1 Terabyte of storage and an Intel core i7 process.

Design has not changed all that much but the seventh generation of the Surface Pro has a USB-C port. There are some new color options and type covers and pens are sold individually as usually.

Availability: October 22 starting at $749.99

Surface Pro X

A new device in the surface family that is powered by a newly designed processor called Surface SQ1 that is been developed by Microsoft and Qualcomm. It runs Windows on ARM and Microsoft promises that it is good for up to 13 hours of battery life. The device supports fast charge and has built-in LTE support.

It features a 13-inch PixelSense (2880×1920) display and works like a two-in-one with a detachable keyboard.  The device weights about 1.7 pounds and Microsoft added several new features to the device. The Type Cover has been redesigned so that it may now be used to hold and charge the new Surface Slim Pen. Surface Pro X supports removable SSD storage (M.2).

Availability: starting November 5th, 2019 starting at $999. Preorders start today according to Microsoft.

Surface Laptop 3

The next iteration of Surface Laptop comes as a 13.5 inch and 15 inch model. The smaller model is powered by Intel 10th generation processes while the 15 inch model is powered by custom AMD Ryzen processors and not Intel chips.

The 13.5 inch PixelSense screen has a resolution of 2256 x 1504, the 15 inch screen a resolution of 2496 x 1664.

The devices features a removable hard drive, a 20% larger trackpad, 1,3mm key travel instead of 1.5mm in Surface Laptop 2 for “near-silent typing”, and an USB-C port. Microsoft promises up to 11.5 hours of battery life from all models and fast charging (80% in one hour).

Consumers get Windows 10 Home, commercial customers Windows 10 Pro on the devices.

Availability: October 22, starting at $999 and $1199 respectively.

The 2020 devices

surface duo neo

The devices are not finalized yet but Microsoft showcased prototypes of the devices. The company revealed little about hardware and made no mention of price at this point in time.

Surface Duo

Surface Duo probably the biggest announcement of the entire event. It is Microsoft’s re-entry in the mobile market and looks on first glance like a smaller copy of the Surface Neo.

It is a foldable device with two 5.6 inch displays that rotate 360 degrees and expand to a 8.3 inch tablet. The device is powered by a Snapdragon 855 process and runs Android.

The two displays unlock several new modes of operation, e.g. using one display as a keyboard or game controller, and it is possible to run apps side-by-side.

Availability: 2020

Surface Neo

The dual-screen Surface Neo may remind some of Microsoft’s Courier concept from 2008. The device is powered by a new version of Windows that Microsoft calls Windows 10X. It has two 9 inch displays that are can rotate 360 degrees just the devices of the surface Duo can. And just like the Android-powered device, the screens may be used in various modes to get the most out of the device.

Availability: 2020

Now You: what is your take on these devices?

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Raspberry Pi 4 is out in all its glory

The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, a new version of the popular tiny computer featuring major hardware upgrades, is available now starting at $35. The first version 4 release of the Raspberry Pi upgrades nearly all components when compared to version 3 models that are also still available.

The new computer comes with a powerful 1.5 GHz quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex A72 CPU that promises about three times the performance of previous versions.

Other improvements include two USB 3.0 ports on the device (next to two USB 2.0 ports), support for dual monitors at resolutions of up to 4K, full-throughout Gigabit Ethernet, up to 4 Gigabytes of LPDDR4 SDRAM, and 4Kp60 HEVC hardware decode support.

raspberry pi 4

The new Raspberry Pi 4 Model B supports Ethernet, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections, and uses USB-C for the power connector instead of the USB micro-B connector that older versions used. The switch gives the device the power it needs to better cope with demands.

The video output has seen an upgrade as well. The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B computer features a pair of type-D HDMI connectors instead of the type-A connectors that previous model used.

Software-wise, the Raspberry Pi 4 comes with an updated operating system that is based on Debian 10 Buster. Among the many improvements that the new operating system brings are updated applications and interface.

You are probably wondering about Model A. There is no Model A; the company behind the product used Model A to describe lower-cost versions of the Raspberry Pi. There is no Model A because it has not (yet) found a way to offer such a device at “significantly less than $35”.

The device starts at $35 in the base version with 1 Gigabyte of RAM; add $10 for the 2 Gigabyte variant and $20 for the 4 Gigabyte variant of the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B.

A range of accessories is also available. While you can get started using the mini-computer in its purest form, most users may want to get a case for the device. Cables to connect the device to displays, mouse and keyboard, a power supply, and a microSD card with software to install the operating system, are also required.

Some retailers offer bundles that include everything to get started. A budget set may include the new Raspberry Pi model, a case, power supply, and a microSD card. More advanced bundles may come with mouse and keyboard, HDMI cables, and even special purpose hardware such as extra space to connect hard drives to the device for use as a storage server.

You may purchase an official Desktop Kit that includes the 4 GB version of the Raspberry Pi 4, the official case, power supply unit, mouse and keyboard, HDMI cables, a beginners guide, and a pre-installed 16 Gigabyte microSD card for $120; that’s everything you need to get started. Third-party bundles may even be cheaper (or more expensive depending on what is included).

Availability of the 1 Gigabyte model is good; the 4 Gigabyte version of the Raspberry Pi 4 is sold out currently, at least in Germany. I recommend that you get the 4 Gigabyte model as it will offer better performance.

Closing Words

If you are new to the Raspberry Pi, you probably wonder what you can do with such a device. The short answer is: pretty much anything you want. You may use it as a computer running Linux when you connect it to a display, may use it as a media player, emulation station to play retro games on the TV, as a server, e.g. print server, web server, NAS, or game server, for robotics, as a camera, radio, or home automation.

Check out the official release announcement here.

Now You: Do you own a Raspberry Pi?

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