Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | September 17, 2014 - 12:55 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, xbox, xbone, xbox one, controller, gamepad
A few months ago, Microsoft released 32- and 64-bit drivers for their Xbox One controller on Windows 7 and Windows 8. This was for wireless controllers attached by micro-USB to a PC. Now, Microsoft announced a new controller for Windows: the same controller, only bundled with the required cable. In fact, it can still connect wirelessly... to an Xbox One, not a PC.
The bundle will cost $59.95 (MSRP) and be available starting in November. As far as I can tell, the PC cannot update the Xbox One Controller's firmware; for that, you apparently need an Xbox One handy. It is possible that Microsoft will implement this, or already has and no-one is talking about it, but you might want to hold off until we know for a fact. One update adjusts analog stick sensitivity; this could be important, especially if you have multiple controllers at different patch levels. Yes, some PC games allow local multiplayer.
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Systems, Shows and Expos | September 12, 2014 - 11:20 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: idf, idf 2014, nuc, Intel, SFF, small form factor
A few years ago, Intel introduced the NUC line of small form factor PCs. At this year's IDF, they have announced plans to make even smaller, and cheaper, specifications that are intended for OEMs to install Windows, Linux, Android, and Chrome OS on. This initiative is not yet named, but will consist of mostly soldered components, leaving basically just the wireless adapters user-replaceable, rather than the more user-serviceable NUC.
Image Credit: Liliputing
Being the owner of Moore's Law, they just couldn't help but fit it to some type of exponential curve. While it is with respect to generation, not time, Intel expects the new, currently unnamed form factor to halve both the volume (size) and bill of material (BOM) cost of the NUC. They then said that another generation after ("Future SFF") will halve the BOM cost again, to a quarter of the NUC.
What do our readers think? Would you be willing to give up socketed components for smaller and cheaper devices in this category or does this just become indistinguishable from mobile devices (which we already know can be cheap and packed into small spaces)?
Subject: General Tech | September 12, 2014 - 12:10 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: gta5 gta online, delayed, delay, consolitis
We finally got the release date for Grand Theft Auto V PC... and it's delayed. But Scott, how can it be delayed if we just now have a firm date? Well, apart from Rockstar claiming that it will be available in the Autumn of 2014, which January 27th, 2015 is not, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions will be arriving on November 18th, 2014 (which is technically before December 21st). To this I say...
... I hear it's lovely in the winter...
... meh. It's fine. Unless something comes up, or I find out that the port is awful and broken, I will still buy it. As always, delaying the release of your game risks potential customers growing disinterested in the product. Perhaps they had the plot spoiled by a friend or a Let's Play. Alternatively, perhaps they gained interest in it because of a friend or a Let's Play before it was available for their platform, and forgot about it before it could be purchased.
Hopefully the extra time is put to good use.
Subject: General Tech | September 12, 2014 - 01:41 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Realsense 3D, idf 2014, 3D rendering, 3d printing
There was an interesting use of Intel's Realsense 3D technology displayed at IDF by a company called Volumental. By using a new product with the new style of camera it would be possible to make a 3D map of your body accurate enough to make clothing patterns from. The example offered were a pair shoes that could be ordered online with no concerns about the fit as the shoes would be perfect for you. That is just the beginning though, you would also be able to order a perfectly tailored suit online without ever needing to appear in person for a fitting. It could also lead to an even worse Fappening in the future; choose your online clothing supplier carefully. There is more here at The Inquirer.
"The proof of concept software, called Volume Voice[sic], accurately scans parts of the human body with Intel's Realsense 3D depth cameras, which will soon feature on Intel-powered laptops and tablets. Volumental's cloud-based platform will then allow individuals to create products that are tailored to their own bodies, for example, shoes that fit perfectly without the need to try them on before buying."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- TSMC forms IoT task force @ DigiTimes
- Intel launches digital signage turnkey solutions @ DigiTimes
- No TKO for LTO: Tape format spawns another 2 generations, sports 120TB bigness @ The Register
- Leak of '5 MEELLLION Gmail passwords' creates security flap @ The Register
- iPhone 6 Plus first impressions @ The Inquirer
- TP-Link AV500 Powerline @ HardwareHeaven
Subject: Mobile | September 16, 2014 - 12:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: acer, inspire switch 12, core m, 5Y10a
The Inquirer had a chance for some hands on time with the new Acer Aspire Switch 12 convertible tablet and keyboard. It is powered by the new Core M 5Y10a at 1Ghz, which does not require a fan and has 4GB of RAM and runs Win8. The screen specifications were not listed but their eyeballs suggest the screen is a full 1080p which is a great improvement from the usual 1366x768 on these convertible devices. They were not overly impressed by the quality of the keyboard or the process to attach or remove it from the screen but the sacrifice in aesthetics does help to keep the device very light and thin when the keyboard dock is attached. You can see their preview here, hopefully a full review will appear soon.
"The Aspire Switch 12 is the successor to the Taiwanese firm's previous affordable multi-mode device, the Aspire Switch 10. It boasts a slimmer design thanks to Intel's new 14nm fanless processor, has a 12.5in display and features five alternative viewing modes."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2014 - 01:49 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: spartan, microsoft, internet explorer 12, internet explorer, ie12, extension
But why would Internet Explorer need extensions? The first, and most obvious, answer is that Microsoft is trying to win back some enthusiasts to their browser (and its platforms). If Microsoft relaxes certification requirements for extensions, compared to Windows Store, it could also bridge the gap between native app and web app for enterprises, especially smaller businesses, a give them a platform without the burden of sideloading.
We might also see this being used by third parties to contribute to Internet Explorer development. In much the same way as Nokia experiments with WebCL by a Firefox extension, others could use Internet Explorer add-ons as a testing ground. In fact, according to their aforementioned 2008 paper, Microsoft Research already tested an OpenGL rendering stack in Xax.
We will probably find out more about the next IE soon.
Subject: Memory | September 15, 2014 - 02:17 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: kingston, hyperx predator, DDR4-3000, ddr4
Ah DDR3, it has been a long and fruitful partnership and it is good to know you won't be going anywhere soon but you now have a younger sibling that is attracting a lot of attention. DDR4 has arrived, with a base clock of 2133MHz and many kits with higher frequencies also appearing for sale. The ~$350, 16GB Kingston HyperX Predator kit which Legit Reviews just reviewed comes with two XPM profiles, one @ 3000MHz with timings of 15-16-16-39 and one @ 2666MHz at 14-14-14-36 and they also tested the kit @ 2133MHz with the previous timings. As you read through the review you will notice that the synthetic benchmarks show much more drastic differences than do the gameplay tests, similar to what was seen with DDR3. As with the previous generation it looks as though tighter timings trump frequency in the majority of cases.
"Now that the Intel X99 chipset has been released along with the Intel Haswell-E processor series we have entered the era of DDR4 memory. There are many DDR4 memory kits on the market and right now you can find 16GB to 64GB kits of DDR4 memory ranging in speeds of 2133MHz to 3333MHz. The sheer number of kits on the market for the platform launch is rather impressive and luckily there are a good number of Intel X99 based motherboards that are ready to support DDR4 memory frequencies well beyond the JEDEC standard clock frequency of 2133MHz."
Here are some more Memory articles from around the web:
- G.SKILL Ripjaws 4 16GB DDR4 3000 MHz Memory Kit Review @ Legit Reviews
- G.Skill 16GB 2400MHz RipJaws 4 Quad Channel DDR4 @ eTeknix
- Crucial 32GB 2133MHz Quad Channel DDR4 @ eTeknix
- DDR4 Roundup featuring Corsair, Crucial and G.Skill @ HardwareHeaven
- G.Skill Ares 8GB 2400MHz Dual Channel DDR3 @ eTeknix
Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 12, 2014 - 02:10 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: xl atx, Graphite Series 780T, corsair
Corsair's Graphite Series 780T is a large case at 602 x 288 x 637mm (23.7 x 11.3 x 25.1") capable of fitting even XL ATX boards. That gives you a total of 9 drive bays though only 6 can support a full sized 3.5" drive. It comes with three 140mm fans but is also capable of fitting several radiators of up to 360mm in some positions. While the size makes it appropriate for use as a small server the looks and layout also make it perfect for a high end enthusiast system with multiple GPUs. [H]ard|OCP were so impressed with the performance and feature set of this case that they gave it a Gold Award so you know this case is worthy of the Graphite name.
"Today we review a case from Corsair that will fit many more enthusiasts' needs, the Graphite Series 780T chassis with room for huge motherboards. This full tower comes with lots and lots of water cooling in mind, a built in fan controller, smartly designed hard drive and solid state drive housing, and has a Companion Cube-ish look."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Phanteks Enthoo Luxe Full-Tower Case Review @ Legit Reviews
- Corsair Graphite Series 780T @ eTeknix
- Corsair Graphite 780T @ Kitguru
- Corsair Graphite 780T @ techPowerUp
- DeepCool Steam Castle @ techPowerUp
- Deepcool Steam Castle Micro ATX Case Review @ Legit Reviews
- NZXT Phantom 240 Mid-tower Case Review @ Modders-Inc
- Thermaltake Urban T81 Review @ OCC
- Corsair Graphite 380T Mini ITX @ Benchmark Reviews
- For Those Who Like Their PCs Naked: Puget Test Bench EATX Version 1 Review @ Techgage
- Fractal Core 1100 Computer Case Review @ Madshrimps
- EK WaterBlocks EK-KIT L360 Water-Cooling Kit Review @ NikKTech
- Sub-$20 CPU Coolers: A Reader's Roundup @ Silent PC Review
- Scythe Mugen Max CPU Cooler Review @HiTech Legion
- SilentiumPC Grandis & Fera 2 CPU Cooler @ eTeknix
Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | September 16, 2014 - 11:29 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: ssd, slc, sata, mlc, micron, M600, crucial
You may already be familiar with the Micron Crucial M550 line of SSDs (if not, familiarize yourself with our full capacity roundup here). Today Micron is pushing their tech further by releasing a new M600 line. The M600's are the first full lineup from Micron to use their 16nm flash (previously only in their MX100 line). Aside from the die shrink, Micron has addressed the glaring issue we noted in our M550 review - that issue being the sharp falloff in write speeds in lower capacities of that line. Their solution is rather innovative, to say the least.
Recall the Samsung 840 EVO's 'TurboWrite' cache, which gave that drive a burst of write speed during short sustained write periods. The 840 EVO accomplished this by each TLC die having a small SLC section of flash memory. All data written passed through this cache, and once full (a few GB, varying with drive capacity), write speed slowed to TLC levels until the host system stopped writing for long enough for the SSD to flush the cached data from SLC to TLC.
The Micron M600 SSD in 2.5" SATA, MSATA, and M.2 form factors.
Micron flips the 'typical' concept of caching methods on its head. It does employ two different types of flash writing (SLC and MLC), but the first big difference is that the SLC is not really cache at all - not in the traditional sense, at least. The M600 controller, coupled with some changes made to Micron's 16nm flash, is able to dynamically change the mode of each flash memory die *on the fly*. For example, the M600 can place most of the individual 16GB (MLC) dies into SLC mode when the SSD is empty. This halves the capacity of each die, but with the added benefit of much faster and more power efficient writes. This means the M600 would really perform more like an SLC-only SSD so long as it was kept less than half full.
As you fill the SSD towards (and beyond) half capacity, the controller incrementally clears the SLC-written data, moving that data onto dies configured to MLC mode. Once empty, the SLC die is switched over to MLC mode, effectively clearing more flash area for the increasing amount of user data to be stored on the SSD. This process repeats over time as the drive is filled, meaning you will see less SLC area available for accelerated writing (see chart above). Writing to the SLC area is also advantageous in mobile devices, as those writes not only occur more quickly, they consume less power in the process:
For those worst case / power user scenarios, here is a graph of what a sustained sequential write to the entire drive area would look like:
Realize this is not typical usage, but if it happened, you would see SLC speeds for the first ~45% of the drive, followed by MLC speeds for another 10%. After the 65% point, the drive is forced to initiate the process of clearing SLC and flipping dies over to MLC, doing so while the host write is still in progress, and therefore resulting in the relatively slow write speed (~50 MB/sec) seen above. Realize that in normal use (i.e. not filling the entire drive at full speed in one go), garbage collection would be able to rearrange data in the background during idle time, meaning write speeds should be near full SLC speed for the majority of the time. Even with the SSD nearly full, there should be at least a few GB of SLC-mode flash available for short bursts of SLC speed writes.
This caching has enabled some increased specs over the prior generation models:
Note the differences in write speeds, particularly in the lower capacity models. The 128GB M550 was limited to 190MB/sec, while the M600 can write at 400MB/sec in SLC mode (which is where it should sit most of the time).
We'll be testing the M600 shortly and will come back with a full evaluation of the SSD as a whole and more specifically how it handles this new tech under real usage scenarios.
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | September 11, 2014 - 03:27 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: qualcomm, snapdragon 210, snapdragon, LTE, cheap tablet
The Snapdragon 210 was recently announced by Qualcomm to be an SoC for cheap, sub-$100 tablets and mobile phones. With it, the company aims to bring LTE connectivity to that market segment, including Dual SIM support. It will be manufactured on the 28nm process, with up to four ARM CPU cores and a Qualcomm Adreno 304 GPU.
According to Qualcomm, the SoC can decode 1080p video. It will also be able to manage cameras with up to 8 megapixels of resolution, including HDR, autofocus, auto white balance, and auto exposure. Let's be honest, you will not really get much more than that for a sub-$100 device.
The Snapdragon 210 has been given Quick Charge 2.0, normally reserved for the 400-line and up, refill the battery quickly when connected to a Quick Charge 2.0-supporting charger (ex: the Motorola Turbo Charger). Quick Charge 1.0 worked by optimizing how energy was delivered to the battery through a specification. Quick Charge 2.0 does the same, just with 60 watts of power (!!). For reference, the USB standard defines 2.5W, which is 5V at 0.5A, although the specification is regularly extended to 5 or 10 watts.
Devices featuring the Snapdragon 210 are expected for the first half of 2015.
Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2014 - 08:01 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows 9, threshold
In two weeks, Microsoft will be holding an event to communicate where Windows is going. It is expected that a public technical preview will launch either at the show, or immediately thereafter. The invitation reads, "Join us to hear about what's next for Windows and the enterprise." This seems to mean that the next version of their desktop OS, probably called Windows 9, will have a strong focus on enterprise features. Contrast this with Windows 8, which I feel comfortable saying wanted to win consumers away from iOS and Android tablets.
Image Credit: The Verge
Virtual desktops and the Start Menu's return were strong signs, too.
Pretty much the only announcement that they could make to get me excited would be sideloading for all versions (which would also remove developer certificate requirements for those apps). I know that it is seductive from a "gatekeeper against malware" point of view, but it decimates the whole reason for having a computer. The Windows Store requirements are just too terrible. No third-party browser engines? C'mon. Microsoft has expressed their continued support of these regulations at Build, but I can hope for a surprise. Seriously Microsoft, give users the option to install what they want, regardless of the API used.
Two weeks until we know. We might even have access by then.
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | September 17, 2014 - 01:04 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: mechanical keyboard, logitech, g910 orion spark rgb, g910
The newly announced Logitech G910 Orion Spark RGB mechanical keyboard is based on their own mechanical switch, developed in partnership with Omron, dubbed "Romer-G". It supports 16.8 million colors in the backlight under each individual key. Logitech will provide software to control this lighting and an SDK for developers to integrate custom functionality into their game. It includes nine macro buttons with three profiles.
The Romer-G switch is (at least currently) exclusive to this keyboard. It is designed with a very small actuation point, 1.5mm from the top of the key. This means that you finger will need to travel less distance, and thus take less time, before the action is registered. From a feeling standpoint, they have a soft spring and a tactile bump at the point of actuation, but no click. Logitech did not comment on whether the G910 contains o-rings to further dampen the sound.
The switches are designed for high durability as well, with an expected lifespan of 70 million keystrokes (compared to 50 million advertised by Cherry and 60 million for Razer). That said, mechanical switches are designed to be put in industrial and medical devices and left unmaintained for decades, so I am not sure how practical that advantage will be.
Their partner, Omron, also collaborates with Logitech on mechanical switches for mice.
The Logitech G910 Orion Spark RGB in planned to be released this November for $179.99.
Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2014 - 12:23 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Mojang, Minecraft, microsoft
Mojang AB, a company with about 22 employees, has been sold to Microsoft for $2.5 billion. Being that the studio is based in Sweden, I would expect that it was purchased with funds that would be taxed heavily if brought back into the States, so the large sum might not feel as large to Microsoft as if they were purchasing an American company. It should be noted that they did not require that the founders, Notch, Carl, and Jakob, stay on as employees -- and they aren't.
This, of course, leads to many concerns for die-hard Minecraft fans. First of all, what platforms (if any) will be deprecated? PlayStation? Mac? Linux? Java itself? Second, how will Microsoft change the franchise? Will they remain faithful? Will they reduce or remove third party content?
As for the founders? Only Notch seems to have commented on his next plans: participating in game making competitions and creating "small web experiments". Additionally, he says, "If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I'll probably abandon it immediately." Most of his blog post references issues between Mojang and its community, regarding the EULA, server and mod monetization, possibly the CraftBucket GPL issue, and so forth. Honestly, I like the idea that Notch would spend a significant amount of free time developing web demos. I think he would contribute a lot to Web standards, especially if he is happy doing it.
As for Microsoft? Clearly they are buying Minecraft because they are running out of Halo codenames.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 17, 2014 - 11:27 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: LIVA, ECS, case mods, case mod contest
ECS USA is holding a competition for North American users to design mods for the LIVA mini PC kit. The contest consists of three phases and round one, whose winners will advance to the second phase, ends on September 30th. If you want to enter in the contest, you will need to submit your first phase entry before then to be eligible for the second phase. Check out Morry's post for a second opinion.
What are the phases?
Round 1 (Ends September 30th): You will need to publish the "soft copy" of your design draft to Facebook. This will consist of six illustrations: Front, Rear, Left Side, Right Side, Top, and 45-degree 3D illustration. See the image below for an example. The top ten participants, based on Facebook likes, will be provided with a white LIVA mini PC kit to modify in Round 2.
Round 2 (Ends October 31st): The winners of Round 1 will, using the provided LIVA kits and your design draft, implement their customizations. Photographs of these modified cases will be sent to ECS (I assume by Facebook) for a team of judges to rank them first, second, third, or runner-up.
Round 3 (November 7th): Sit back, relax, and wait for the judges to select winners. The Champion will receive $1000 USD for their trouble, second place will get $500 USD, and third will get $300 USD. The honorable mentions will get various swags.
The contest is open to residents of the USA and Canada. Do it fast! It's less than two weeks and, as I understand it, the later you enter, the less time you will have to accumulate Facebook likes.
Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | September 16, 2014 - 09:49 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: ram, NVMe, IOPS, idf 2014, idf, ddr4, DDR
The Intel Developer Forum was last week, and there were many things to be seen for sure. Mixed in with all of the wearable and miniature technology news, there was a sprinkling of storage goodness. Kicking off the show, we saw new cold storage announcements from both HGST and Western Digital, but that was about it for HDD news, as the growing trend these days is with solid state storage technologies. I'll start with RAM:
First up was ADATA, who were showing off 64GB DDR3 (!) DIMMs:
Next up were various manufacturers pushing DDR4 technology quite far. First was SK Hynix's TSV 128GB DIMMs (covered in much greater depth last week):
Next up is Kingston, who were showing a server chassis equipped with 256GB of DDR4:
If you look closer at the stats, you'll note there is more RAM in this system than flash:
Next up is IDT, who were showing off their LRDIMM technology:
This technology adds special data buffers to the DIMM modules, enabling significantly higher amounts of installed RAM into a single system, with a 1-2 step de-rating of clock speeds as you take capacities to the far extremes. The above server has 768GB of DDR4 installed and running!:
Moving onto flash memory type stuff, Scott covered Intel's new 40 Gbit Ethernet technology last week. At IDF, Intel had a demo showing off some of the potential of these new faster links:
This demo used a custom network stack that allowed a P3700 in a local system to be matched in IOPS by an identical P3700 *being accessed over the network*. Both local and networked storage turned in the same 450k IOPS, with the remote link adding only 8ms of latency. Here's a close-up of one of the SFF-8639 (2.5" PCIe 3.0 x4) SSDs and the 40 Gbit network card above it (low speed fans were installed in these demo systems to keep some air flowing across the cards):
Stepping up the IOPS a bit further, Microsoft was showing off the capabilities of their 'Inbox AHCI driver', shown here driving a pair of P3700's at a total of 1.5 million IOPS:
...for those who want to get their hands on this 'Inbox driver', guess what? You already have it! "Inbox" is Microsoft's way of saying the driver is 'in the box', meaning it comes with Windows 8. Bear in bind you may get better performance with manufacturer specific drivers, but it's still a decent showing for a default driver.
Now for even more IOPS:
Yes, you are reading that correctly. That screen is showing a system running over 11 million IOPS. Think it's RAM? Wrong. This is flash memory pulling those numbers. Remember the 2.5" P3700 from a few pics back? How about 24 of them:
The above photo shows three 2U systems (bottom), which are all connected to a single 2U flash memory chassis (top). The top chassis supports three submodules, each with eight SFF-8639 SSDs. The system, assembled by Newisys, demonstrates just how much high speed flash you can fit within an 8U space. The main reason for connecting three systems to one flash chassis is because it takes those three systems to process the full IOPS capability of 24 low latency NVMe SSDs (that's 96 total lanes of PCIe 3.0!)!
So there you have it, IDF storage tech in a nutshell. More to come as we follow these emerging technologies to their maturity.
Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2014 - 11:38 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: FinFET, flexible
We've seen a few examples of OLEDs being used to create flexible displays but they are much slower than their unbending silicon rivals. With conductive ink and thread it is possible to make wearable technology but again the silicon components remain solid and immobile. Researchers in Saudi Arabia have been working on flexible technology which retains the speed of silicon transistors but is able to flex up to 0.5 mm which may sound large until you remember the size of a transistor. They have created these FinFETs by putting a thin layer of a polymer on top of the material they will be etching the transistors into and gently removing the polymer once the process has completed. This results in a FinFET which retains the power saving and performance attributes common to the 3D transistor but with the ability to bend. This won't be marketed for a while yet but in the mean time read all about it on Nanotechweb.
"Researchers at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudia Arabia are continuing with their experiments to transform traditional rigid electronic wafers made from silicon into mechanically flexible and transparent ones."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Tunnelling electrons make new type of transistor @ Nanotechweb
- IBM brings Watson Analytics to all with freemium model @ The Inquirer
- Seagate's triple-headed Cerberus could SAVE the DISK WORLD @ The Register
- Amazon Kindle vulnerability lets hackers take over your account @ The Inquirer
- be quiet! Straight Power 10 competition @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2014 - 11:39 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Starcraft II, WCS, blizzard, blizzcon, esports
The StarCraft II World Championship Series is Blizzard's official method of conglomerating numerous tournaments, including their own, into a canonized ranking system. Players get points for winning various Intel Extreme Masters, Red Bull Battle Grounds, DreamHack events, GSL seasons, and so forth. Beyond the prize money of each event, points are awarded to sort a global standings list. These points, beyond bragging rights, lead to an invitation to the year's final tournament at BlizzCon.
The system has drawn some criticism, however. One specific complaint is that players are allowed to partake in any region of their choosing. This seems to lead to tactical placement of players relative to other ones, rather than actual geography. Moreover, this allows players to join in servers that they are not anywhere near to, introducing lag in the online components. If I remember correctly, the rules stated that, unless both players chose to play on a server that was outside the region (ex: a South Korean server for two competitors in WCS America), the server would default to the region (America in the previous example). For 2015, Blizzard is requiring that all players must be legal residents of the region they choose to play in. The reasons for this decision do not seem to be publicly explained, but it should discourage the shuffling of players for logistical advantages.
The other, major change is that all participants of WCS 2015 need to qualify. Previously, if I (again) remember correctly, while points were reset, some placements in leagues carried over. This time, if a player is in any given league, they fought to get there from the very bottom. If anything, I expect this became necessary when the decision was made to change residency requirements.
WCS 2014 isn't over yet, though. It will close with BlizzCon on November 8th.
Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2014 - 12:04 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: mojang ab, Minecraft, microsoft, consolitis
First and foremost, I would like to remind everyone of the Twitch.tv and Google acquisition rumors. Things are not done until they are done and it could be significantly more complicated than it appears on the surface. And yes, I am speaking from the position of someone who was bitten and wrote a news post on the subject.
Regardless, discussion has been circulating that Mojang AB, creators of Minecraft, were in talks to sell their company to Microsoft for $2 billion dollars. First, this tells us that randomly generated diamond and gold is worth a fortune; second, it tells us that Mojang, like Oculus, is twice the company that Instagram was. I guess all it took was those OpenGL filter effects.
Joking aside, two billion dollars is a significant chunk of money, about a third of Computing and Gaming Hardware's annual revenue. Minecraft is definitely a valuable asset, especially with the licensed media and merchandise, and would be a good addition to a publisher's portfolio (along with their employees if convinced to stay on). It is not entirely without basis, either. Competing publisher, Activision-Blizzard, allegedly planned to spend $500 million on Destiny, although Bungie denies that, which Activision claims is the cost of launching a new franchise nowadays.
The most interesting part of the rumor, to me, is the Bloomberg report which claims that Notch initiated the discussions. He was quite outspoken against Microsoft for a while, especially with the licensing requirements for Windows Store. Apparently, current head of Microsoft's Computing and Gaming Hardware division, Phil Spencer, is friends with Notch and has been visiting him and Mojang AB.
But until something official is announced, this is all speculation. That said, Notch has been particularly quiet about the topic on Twitter. To me, that strongly suggests that something is up.
Subject: General Tech, Storage | September 12, 2014 - 01:08 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: sandisk, sdxc, sdhc, sd card, 512GB
Assuming your camera, card reader, or other device fully conforms to the SDXC standard, Sandisk has developed a half-terabyte (512GB) memory card. Beyond being gigantic, it can be read at up to 95 MB/s and written at up to 90 MB/s, which should be enough to stream 4K video. Sandisk claims that it is temperature proof, shock proof, water proof, and x-ray proof. It also comes with a lifetime warranty and "RescuePRO Deluxe" recovery software but, honestly, I expect people would just use PhotoRec or something.
It should be noted that the SDXC standard covers memory cards up to 2TB so it will probably not be too long before we see another standard get ratified. What is next? SDUC? SDYC? SDALLTHEC? Blah! This is why IEEE assigns names sequentially.
The SanDisk Extreme PRO UHS-I SDHC/SDXC 512GB memory card should be available now, although I cannot yet find them online, for $799.99 MSRP.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 18, 2014 - 10:11 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Red Hat, microsoft, Feedhenry
Red Hat just acquired Feedhenry for around €63.5 million to enhance their ability to support mobile apps. Feedhenry designs mobile apps on both the client and server side which run on Android, iOS, Windows Phone, QNX and HTML5 as well as integration with apps from companies such as Salesforce, SAP and Oracle. This purchase could help Red Hat become an attractive alternative for companies wishing to serve apps across all platforms and increased usage of Openshift and Openstack. The Inquirer also posted news on a extension to the price discount on Microsoft's licensing for mobile developers. They are still offering lifetime accounts for Dev Center for $19.99 for individuals and $99.99 for businesses, which compares favourably to the one time Android fee of $25 and even better against Apple's $99 per year. If they could just get their phones to play nicely with O365 this could well increase their market share for mobile phones.
"RED HAT HAS ACQUIRED Feedhenry, a designer of mobile apps for the enterprise market. The company sees the acquisition as a key driver to offer cross-platform support for its existing software products, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux Openstack 7, which it released earlier this year."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Micron cackles as it unveils its chameleonic FLYING DISK KILLER @ The Register
- Synology bakes word processor, groupware, into its NAS OS @ The Register
- Mathematica hits the Web @ The Register
- Scientists Twist Radio Beams To Send Data At 32 Gigabits Per Second @ Slashdot
- Can Certification Get You a Linux Job? @ Linux.com
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