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Chinese Group Purchases Opera for $600 Million (50% Off!)

Subject: General Tech | July 19, 2016 - 02:38 AM |
Tagged: web browser, Opera, China

Opera is the smallest of the major browser vendors, estimated at about one-fifth the desktop market share of Mozilla's Firefox. That said, it had some fairly high-profile device wins, such as the Nintendo Wii and the Nintendo DS, and they're strong on other mobile devices, too. They had their own rendering technology until 2013, when they switched to Webkit and, when Google forked away from Apple and KDE into the Blink project, followed Google.

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Recently, a group of Chinese companies have announced that they will be purchasing a large chunk of the browser vendor for $600 million USD. Interestingly, this was after offering $1.2 billion just a few months earlier. This time, the Chinese group will receive less of the company, and thus will pay less for it. The original company, which will have 18 months to find a new name, will maintain ownership of three parts:

  • Opera Mediaworks
  • Opera Apps & Games (including Bemobi)
  • Opera TV

According to Engadget, the original, $1.2 billion dollar deal was canceled when some government organization disapproved of the deal. Looking at the three components that were omit, I cannot see why a regulation body would raise an issue, whether it be for national security or monopoly reasons. They seem pretty innocuous and small, but I guess the EU might take issue with consumer data privacy?

Either way, these three elements will remain, but everything else will go.

HiFiMAN's high end, high priced Edition X Planar Magnetic Headphones

Subject: General Tech | July 22, 2016 - 03:50 PM |
Tagged: audio, hifiman, Edition X, planar

As opposed to the more common dynamic driver, the Edition X uses lighter and more responsive planar drivers.  These tend to provide much better sound but also come with a very hefty price tag, in this particular case an $1800 one.  That puts these headphones soundly into the audiophile and professional market as opposed to being intended for gamers.  In testing TechPowerUp found these to be not quite as clear as the HE-1000 model but they were more comfortable.  If you are looking for high end headphones or just like window shopping you can read the full review here.

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"HiFiMAN's newest high-end headphone, the Edition X, bears a striking resemblance to their flagship HE-1000. It uses the same driver design without the fancy nano materials found in the $1200 more expensive HE-1000, but is, at $1799, still the second most expensive headphone in HiFiMAN's line-up."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: TechPowerUp

NVIDIA Partners with SMI for Eye-Tracking VR Rendering Tech

Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2016 - 12:31 PM |
Tagged:

NVIDIA is announcing a "new technique" for VR using eye-tracking technology from SMI, and with this NVIDIA's researchers are working to "match the physiology of the human eye to heighten visual fidelity in VR".

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Image credit: NVIDIA

NVIDIA provides this description and video demo of the new tech:

"The demo - which we’re bringing to the annual SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference in Anaheim, Calif., July 24-28 - is simple. Strap on a head-mounted display with integrated eye tracking. Look around the virtual scene of a school classroom with blackboard and chairs. Looks good, right?

Now gaze at the teacher’s chair, turn off the eye tracking and look around again. Only the area around the chair is rendered in detail. In your periphery the demo was rendering a less detailed version of the image — and you couldn’t tell."

NVIDIA further explains the technology:

"Human vision can be thought of as having two components: foveal and peripheral vision. The small region of your retina called the fovea is densely packed with cones — a type of photoreceptor cell — providing sharp and detailed vision. Peripheral vision covers a much wider field of view but lacks acuity.

This acuity difference has inspired foveated rendering systems, which track the user’s gaze and seek to increase graphics performance by rendering with lower image quality in the periphery. However, foveated rendering taken too far will lead to visible artifacts, such as flicker, blur or a sense of “tunnel vision.”

Our researchers used SMI’s prototype eye-tracking HMD to perform a careful perceptual study of what people actually see in their peripheral vision in VR. Our researchers then used those insights to design a new rendering algorithm that enables much greater foveation, or reduction in rendering effort, without any discernible drop in visual quality."

There's a lot more information about this new VR technology in NVIDIA's blog post (source), and the company also has a project page up for this "Perceptually-Based Foveated Virtual Reality" technique.

Source: NVIDIA

EA Continues to Give Away Battlefield 4 Expansion Packs

Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2016 - 09:03 PM |
Tagged: ea, origin, pc gaming

EA's “On the House” promotion is basically a 100%-off sale, with the intent of periodically bringing you back to their store. Whatever you acquire is free forever, but you only have a handful of days to claim it. Even if you're not interested in downloading it at the moment, it's good to poke in, press download, and just not actually download it until later. Maybe you'll buy something, too, while you're there. Either way.

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This time is Battlefield 4: Naval Strike. If you have Battlefield 4, but do not have the Premium subscription, then this is your chance to grab a portion of its exclusive content for free. As the name suggests, it includes four, navy-focused maps, a hovercraft, and a new game mode. If you've played 2142, you might remember the Titan mode, where you would capture missile launchers throughout the map to weaken a flying carrier, and eventually destroy it. Similar idea, but with an aircraft carrier.

Also, the Westwood-developed action RPG, Nox, is “On the House” as well.

Source: EA (Origin)

Podcast #409 - GTX 1060 Review, 3DMark Time Spy Controversy, Tiny Nintendo and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2016 - 12:21 PM |
Tagged: Wraith, Volta, video, time spy, softbank, riotoro, retroarch, podcast, nvidia, new, kaby lake, Intel, gtx 1060, geforce, asynchronous compute, async compute, arm, apollo lake, amd, 3dmark, 10nm, 1070m, 1060m

PC Perspective Podcast #409 - 07/21/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the GTX 1060 review, controversy surrounding the async compute of 3DMark Time Spy and more!!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Casper!

Hosts:  Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Josh Walrath

Program length: 1:34:57
  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:51:17 This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Casper!
  3. News items of interest:
  4. 1:26:26 Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Ryan: Sapphire Nitro Bot
    2. Allyn: klocki - chill puzzle game (also on iOS / Android)
  5. Closing/outro

The 8-Bit Guy Disc-usses Floppy Drives

Subject: Storage | July 19, 2016 - 01:49 AM |
Tagged: floppy drive, apple, commodore, IBM

This video, about floppy disks, is a little bit longer and in-depth than their previous one about cassette tapes. The 8-Bit Guy and friends (I'm pretty sure they don't call themselves that...) goes through how many tracks each floppy have, how many sectors they have, and how that varies per-manufacturer (including the technical reasons of how and why they are formatted incompatibly).

The 8-Bit Guy likes to go through a bunch of hardware, spanning the gamut of Atari, Commodore, Apple, IBM PC, and others, and explain their history. The most interesting part of this video, to me, was his explanation of why the Commodore floppy drive was so much larger than its competitors, and what it meant for performance.

Prefer your GTX 1060 to arrive packaged in a full system? Overclockers UK can do that with the Titan Neutron

Subject: Systems | July 19, 2016 - 06:57 PM |
Tagged: gtx 1060, gainward, GTX 1060 Dual, micro ATX, Overclockers UK, Titan Neutron

Gainward chose a confusing name for their new card, the GTX 1060 Dual, which seems to refer to either the two fans or the two slots it occupies; it is not a secret SLI version.  The Micro ATX system is built in a Raijintek Styx Classic case with a Core i5-6400, 8GB DDR-4 2400MHz and strangely a hybrid 1TB Seagate 7200rpm drive with and 8GB MLC cache.  On the other hand the packaging material includes some Haribo candies.  Kitguru tested it out for performance as well as sound, being a Micro ATX system after all and found that for the price of £900 it was not a bad deal at all.  Check out the  Overclockers UK Titan Neutron if you are on that side of the pond, or keep the specs in mind if you are shopping around over here in North America.

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"The exponential evolution of gaming graphics shows no signs of abating. We have already seen a plethora of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 cards (most recently from MSI), our first taste of the more modestly specified GTX 1060 comes installed in a complete system from Overclockers UK, the Titan Neutron Micro-ATX Gaming PC."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Source: Kitguru

Remember when Fallout was an isometric RPG? Want a Fallout 1.5?

Subject: General Tech | July 20, 2016 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: fallout resurrection, kick ass, fallout 1.5

The crew over at Resurrection Team have been working for a decade on a new Fallout game based on the Fallout 2 engine.  Originally released in Czech, they have recently released the English translation, for free for anyone to use as long as you have Fallout 2.  That should not be overly hard, GoG gave it away for free not too long ago and currently sell it for $10, Steam about the same.  The mod sounds fairly big, the original version had 2,471,214 text characters, 80 maps and 736 scripts. 

If you haven't already started downloading it, check out what Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN thought about it and see if that convinces you.

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"We’ve worked on Resurrection for more than 10 years. We worked for two-and-a-half years on the English translation after that. All of us have worked on Resurrection in our free time."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Mozilla to Publish First Rust-based Module in Firefox 48

Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2016 - 05:41 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, Rust, firefox

Mozilla has been working on the Rust language for several years now. It is designed to be extremely fast, memory-safe, and easy to parallelize on multi-core processors, doing so by having a compiler that's not afraid to tell you “Nope.” Mozilla (and others, like Samsung) want a language with those characteristics because it will make an extremely fast, yet secure, web browser (although there's a lot of single-threaded design choices tangled in the Web specifications).

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The first example will arrive next month for Windows, though (64-bit OSX and Linux already had it). Firefox 48 will replace a small portion of the code, originally written in C++, with a Rust-based equivalent. The affected component parses media files, getting values like track id, duration, resolution, and so forth. Because it's written in Rust, this ingestion should be resilient to memory-based vulnerabilities.

This probably will not be noticeable to end-users, but it's a few thousand less lines of code that Mozilla should need to worry about hijacking the browser. Mozilla is also planning on bringing URL parsing to Rust, and has already done so with Servo. You would think that the C++ code has been battle-hardened by now, but, I mean, 15-year-old open-source bugs do exist, hiding in plain sight.

Source: Mozilla

ZoeMatrope Blends Shaders with Strobe Lights

Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2016 - 06:07 PM |
Tagged: Blender, ishikawa watanabe laboratory

This is definitely tangential to our typical coverage, but I came across an interesting research project from the Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory. A common trick that physicists use to measure rotating objects is to shine a strobe light at it. When the object seems to stop in space, your strobe light frequency is some multiple of the object's RPM (assuming the object doesn't have identical sections within a single cycle -- you'll need to go into fractions in that case).

This is another trick in the same family. Basically, they load a carousel of the same object with all possible material components. Then, in a darkened room, they flash a strobe light on it to instantaneously illuminate just the portions they want, at the intensity that it contributes to the final material. So, when you adjust the material on the computer, which they demoed with Blender, the object appears to adjust along with it, letting you see what it should look like in the real world. They can even apply a mask in front of it to allow some level of texturing.

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This should be useful for product design, once a library of materials are captured and stored in the CAD software. They claim that 3D printing allows it to be applied to any object, but I'd assume there's some limits regarding how structurally stable the object is. I'm imagining a technician wondering why their metal channel doesn't seem to be applied, only to turn on the light and see their intern knocked out on the floor with a bruise on their forehead. It all depends on what their apparatus is running at and how big it is. Ideally, they would be above the upper range of photosensitive epilepsy is about 30Hz, or 1800 RPM, but I don't have the required info to calculate how that maps to structural integrity of models.

Google may be abandoning their VR headset, but not VR entirely

Subject: General Tech | July 18, 2016 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: google, VR, daydream, rumour, Huawei

Detailed information on Google's Daydream VR Headeset was conspicuously absent from io16.  At that time it was still expected that Google was developing a VR headset to compete with the Rift and Vive which is why it seemed strange they merely mentioned it in passing.  Today rumours are spreading that Google may have abandoned that particular project on favour of improving mobile VR, taking advantage of Google Cardboard one might assume.  They are instead focusing on the software side, the Daydream VR platform designed to enhance VR capabilities on Android N will be improved and offered to vendors; Huawei was mentioned in the post on The Inquirer.  While it is still rumour at this point it certainly makes sense to stop spending money to develop competing hardware when they can focus on improving mobile software which any Android phone could use.

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"While Daydream persists, Recode said that Google has cancelled plans to create its own VR headset as it does not want to compete with Facebook, Samsung, HTC and others."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Scythe's Fuma cooler, stocky and quiet but not ready for overclocking contests

Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 20, 2016 - 04:12 PM |
Tagged: scythe, fuma, heatsink

Scythe's Fuma heatsink is a fair size at 137x149x130mm with a weight of 920g, including the two 120mm fans, though shorter than many on the market.  That stock design could cause some problems if your RAM has impressively sized heatsinks but for most modules you should not have any issues and it does not impinge on your first PCIe slot.  In the tests Modders-Inc performed reasonably well when cooling an i7-4770k at stock speeds, unfortunately an overclock of 4.4GHz did see the cooler struggle and the CPU frequency was throttled back almost immediately.  For lesser loads the low RPM fans will be able to keep your temperatures reasonable and do so without creating much noise.  If you have a midranged CPU and want a quiet cooler in the $55 range, drop by to check out the full review.

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"Heatsink designs are driven by the fundamental principle that a larger surface area equates to better heat dissipation than a smaller area. Factoring in componential consent, modern aftermarket CPU tower heatsinks had to get creative to compensate and dial-in the efficiency needed, hence the rise of dual-tower cooler designs"

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: Modders Inc

Fnatic's Gear Flick Mouse, it won't judge you based on your handedness

Subject: General Tech | July 18, 2016 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: fnatic gear, input, gaming mouse, flick, ambidextrous

Many gaming mice on the market are designed for use with your right hand, with some manufactures offering a second, mirrored model but they are in the minority.  Ambidextrous mice tend to lack in features as symmetrical button placement is not necessarily a handy solution.  The Fnatic Gear Flick Mouse is marketed for use in either the left or right hand, however only the right side has buttons.  The shell of the mouse may feel comfortable but requiring a user to press buttons with their pinkie finger seems awkward.  For right handers, the use of a Pixart 3310 optical sensor offers good response on what is otherwise a very spares design.  You can read more about it at Kitguru.

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"We have already taken a look at the Rush Gear Keyboard recently but today we are taking a look at Fnatic’s mouse offering, the Gear Flick, featuring an ambidextrous design and all necessary features that most gamers would expect from a mouse. "

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Kitguru

EVGA 17th Anniversary Event (with Contest)

Subject: General Tech | July 19, 2016 - 12:54 AM |
Tagged: evga

Sweet... seventeen? Looks we're a little late on this, but EVGA is hosting a 17th anniversary event. Jacob is live streaming gameplay at 3pm PDT (6pm EDT) today, tomorrow, the day after, and the day after that. During that time, they will be giving away four more bundles of PC hardware, and probably a bunch of game keys from EA. According to their website's previous winners, it looks like they're giving away two copies of Battlefront (with Season Pass), Need for Speed, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, Battlefield 4 (with DLC), and Mirror's Edge: Catalyst each day.

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In terms of hardware, EVGA is handing out one bundle of two components per day and three grand prize bundles: one for USA, Canada, and Latin America; one for Asia and the Pacific region; and one for Europe, the Middle East, and India.

Today, they will give out an EVGA Z170 FTW motherboard and 16GB of DDR4 RAM during today's stream. The largest, non-grand prize giveaway will be on Thursday, however, where they will hand out an X99 Classified motherboard and a GTX 1070 SC graphics card, valued at a total of $820. I'm not sure which geographic regions on these prizes are eligible, although they do state the contest is, of course, void where prohibited. If it's like the grand prize, it seems to be pretty much worldwide.

Source: EVGA

European Speedrunner Assembly 2016 Starts This Weekend

Subject: General Tech | July 19, 2016 - 01:25 AM |
Tagged: speedrun, esa, charity

Somehow, despite the European Speedrunner Assembly (ESA) being five years old, I just found out about it this year. Turns out that ESA 2016 is coming up this weekend. If you were a fan of Games Done Quick, this will also be a ~week-long, around the clock speed running event for charity. This one seems to run for The Save the Children Fund, although that could be an out-of-date announcement for the previous event.

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The event starts with Tomb Raider II at 12pm EDT on Saturday, July 23rd, and goes until the end of a Super Mario 64 120-star relay race that starts at 2:31pm on Friday, July 29th. The event will continue offline until the 1st of August. Like Games Done Quick, which apparently inspired this event, the schedule has a wide variety of titles across several platforms. It should be interesting, regardless of when you get time to watch it.

Source: ESA Marathon

2D semiconductors anyone?

Subject: General Tech | July 19, 2016 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: 2d, molybdenum sulphide, moores law, graphene

Over at Nanotechweb is an article on some rather impressive research being done to create what are, for all intents and purposes, almost two dimensional.  The process used by the researchers created transistors made up of two three-atom thick MoS2 layers, both slightly overlapped with graphene, sandwiched between two one-atom think graphene layers.  The trick is in the use of graphene, itself unsuitable for use as a transistor but perfect for interconnects thanks to its conductance.  Read on to learn more about these researchers and the process they are working on, including a link to their publication in Nature.

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"Researchers in the US have succeeded in chemically assembling the electronic junctions between a 2D semiconductor (molybdenum sulphide) and graphene, and have made an atomic transistor with good properties. They have also assembled the heterostructures into 2D logic circuits, such as an NMOS inverter with a voltage gain as high as 70."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Nanotechweb