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Author Archives: Eric Hale

A new reality

A while back, I wrote about a VR demo built by students from North Carolina State University. We’ve been checking it out over the last couple of months and are very impressed. This workload will definitely heat up your device! While the initial results look promising, this is still an experimental workload and it’s too early to use results in formal reviews or product comparisons.

We’ve created a page that tells all about the VR demo. As an experimental workload, the demo is available only to community members. As always, members can download the source as well as the APK.

We asked the students to try to build the workload for iOS as a stretch goal. They successfully built an iOS version, but this was at the end of the semester and there was little time for testing. If you want to experiment with iOS yourself, look at the build instructions for Android and iOS that we include with the source. Note that you will need Xcode to build and deploy the demo on iOS.

After you’ve checked out the workload, let us know what you think!

Finally, we have a new video featuring the VR demo. Enjoy!

vr-demo-video

Eric

The XPRTs embrace virtual reality

Durham, NC – Virtual reality (VR) continues to open new and exciting worlds of possibility, but how do consumers know if their tech can handle its computing demands? The XPRTs have long provided the tools everyone needs to inform purchases, and now they’re turning to VR. For more, see the video at https://youtu.be/liqJyKsDp-c.

Principled Technologies (PT) and the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community, which PT administers, recently sponsored a senior project at the NC State Computer Science Department Senior Design Center. PT advised NC State team members Christian McCurdy, Gregory Manning, Grayson Jones, and Shon Ferguson in the development of a prototype virtual reality evaluation tool.

“Developing the VR benchmark with XPRT tools as guidelines taught us to test for a more real-world scenario instead of trying for numbers that consumers might not understand,” said student Grayson Jones.

Learn more about the XPRTs and try the VR demo at http://www.principledtechnologies.com/benchmarkxprt/vr-demo.

About Principled Technologies, Inc.

Principled Technologies, Inc. is the leading provider of technology marketing and learning & development services. It administers the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community.

Principled Technologies, Inc. is located in Durham, North Carolina, in NC’s Research Triangle Park Region. For more information, please visit www.principledtechnologies.com.

Company Contact

Eric Hale
Principled Technologies, Inc.
1007 Slater Road, Suite #300
Durham, NC 27703
ehale@principledtechnologies.com

About the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community

The BenchmarkXPRT Development Community is a forum where registered members can contribute to the process of creating and improving the XPRTs. For more information, please visit www.BenchmarkXPRT.com.

About the NC State University Computer Science Department Senior Design Center

The Senior Design Center brings together Computer Science seniors and sponsor companies to work on a specific project for a semester. This collaboration provides valuable hands-on experience for the students and important project results for the companies sponsoring them. For more information, please visit https://sdc.csc.ncsu.edu.

Experience is the best teacher

One of the core principles that guides the design of the XPRT tools is they should reflect the way real-world users use their devices. The XPRTs try to use applications and workloads that reflect what users do and the way that real applications function. How did we learn how important this is? The hard way—by making mistakes! Here’s one example.

In the 1990s, I was Director of Testing for the Ziff-Davis Benchmark Operation (ZDBOp). The benchmarks ZDBOp created for its technical magazines became the industry standards, because of both their quality and Ziff-Davis’ leadership in the technical trade press.

WebBench, one of the benchmarks ZDBOp developed, measured the performance of early web servers. We worked hard to create a tool that used physical clients and tested web server performance over an actual network. However, we didn’t pay enough attention to how clients actually interacted with the servers. In the first version of WebBench, the clients opened connections to the server, did a small amount of work, closed the connections, and then opened new ones.

When we met with vendors after the release of WebBench, they begged us to change the model. At that time, browsers opened relatively long-lived connections and did lots of work before closing them. Our model was almost the opposite of that. It put vendors in the position of having to choose between coding to give their users good performance and coding to get good WebBench results.

Of course, we were horrified by this, and worked hard to make the next version of the benchmark reflect more closely the way real browsers interacted with web servers. Subsequent versions of WebBench were much better received.

This is one of the roots from which the XPRT philosophy grew. We have tried to learn and grow from the mistakes we’ve made. We’d love to hear about any of your experiences with performance tools so we can all learn together.

Eric

Exploring virtual reality

We’ve talked a lot in recent weeks about new technologies we are evaluating for the XPRTs. You may remember that back in June, we also wrote about sponsoring a second senior project with North Carolina State University. Last week, the project ended with the traditional Posters and Pies event. The team gave a very well thought‑out presentation.

NCSU VR blog pic 1

As you can tell from the photo below, the team designed and implemented a nifty virtual reality app. It’s a room escape puzzle, and it looks great!

NCSU VR blog pic 2

The app is a playable game with the ability to record the gameplay for doing repeatable tests. It also includes a recording that allows you to test a device without playing the game. Finally, the app lets you launch directly into the prerecorded game without using a viewer, which will be handy for testing multiple devices.

The team built the app using the Google Cardboard API and the Unity game engine, which allowed them to create Android and iOS versions. We’re looking forward to seeing what that may tell us!

After Posters and Pies, the team came to PT to present their work and answer questions. We were all very impressed with their knowledge and with how well thought out the application was.

NCSU VR blog pic 3

Many thanks to team members Christian McCurdy, Gregory Manning, Grayson Jones, and Shon Ferguson (not shown).

NCSU VR blog pic 4

Thanks also to Dr. Lina Battestilli, the team’s technical advisor, and Margaret Heil, Director of the Senior Design Center.

We are currently evaluating the app, and expect to make it available to the community in early 2017!

Eric

 

The XPRT Spotlight Black Friday Showcase helps buyers find the perfect gift

Durham, NC—Principled Technologies unwrapped a free holiday shopping tool that gives consumers side-by-side comparisons of the season’s most coveted smartphones, laptops, Chromebooks, tablets, and PCs. The XPRT Spotlight Black Friday Showcase helps shoppers find the perfect gift by gathering the product and performance facts they need in one convenient place.

Principled Technologies tests the devices in the Spotlight using the industry standard BenchmarkXPRT tools: WebXPRT, MobileXPRT, TouchXPRT, CrXPRT, BatteryXPRT, and HDXPRT. In addition to the benchmark results, the side-by-side comparisons include photographs, device specs, and prices of all products.

The XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight debuted earlier this year, making it easier for consumers to shop for a new laptop, smartphone, tablet, or PC. Recent devices in the spotlight include the Google Pixel, Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Transformer Mini, Acer Swift 7, OnePlus 3, and Dell XPS 13. More devices come on line weekly; see the full list on the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight page.

Vendors interested in having their devices featured in the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight can visit the website for more details.

About Principled Technologies, Inc.

Principled Technologies, Inc. is a leading provider of technology marketing and learning & development services. It administers the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community.

Principled Technologies, Inc. is located in Durham, North Carolina, USA. For more information, please visit www.PrincipledTechnologies.com.

Company Contact

Eric Hale
Principled Technologies, Inc.
1007 Slater Road, Suite #300
Durham, NC 27703

Airborne

I’m old enough that I’ve never really understood the whole selfie thing. However, it’s clearly never going away, and I’m fascinated–although a little creeped out–by the development of selfie drones. It’s amazing that we have so quickly reached the point where you can buy a drone that will literally fit in your pocket.

As an example of how sophisticated these devices can be, consider Zero Robotics Hover Camera Passport.  It’s capable of capturing 4K UHD video and 13-megapixel images, it can track faces or bodies, and it includes sensors, including sonar, to measure the distance from air to ground. All in a package that’s about the size of an old VHS tape.

A while back we talked about the new ways people are finding to use technology, and how the XPRTs need to adapt.  While I don’t think we’re going to be seeing DroneXPRT any time soon, we’ve been talking about including the technologies that make these devices possible in the XPRTs. These technologies include machine learning, computer vision, and 4K video.

What new devices fascinate you? Which technologies are going to be most useful in the near future? Let us know!

Eric

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