Happy Sesquimillenial Linux Game, Valve and Steam

Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2015 - 09:21 PM |
Tagged: linux, pc gaming, steam

While the number of games doesn't exactly mean much in isolation, a large amount of them have been making their way to Linux recently. Valve's first-party library is an obvious addition, as they have been jaded with Windows since 8.x scared just about anyone interested in back catalog support with their “Desktop as an App” attempts to isolate the Win32 APIs. Other developers have been following suit, especially since engines are being designed cross-platform as of late.


Milestones can be interesting, though. In this case, Steam crossed the 1,500 mark in games for Linux that are hosted on its service. Some equate this to “there exists 1500 games for Linux”, which isn't quite right, but the distribution platform is definitely a behemoth in the industry. It is the default way to purchase many new titles, and is a Linux host for ARK: Survival Evolved and Shadow of Mordor.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find anyone who listed what the 1500th title was. Sorry!

Source: Phoronix

Microsoft Created a Private Linux Distro. Laugh It Up.

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2015 - 08:28 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, linux

Azure Cloud Switch is an operating system, which is based on Linux, that Microsoft has created for their data centers. This software will be installed on their network appliances, such as switches, to let them control the features that their data centers require. It also helps them interface hardware together, since they now control the software stack regardless of hardware vendor.


This is naturally making tech websites doodle on their calendars as the company uses Windows for just about everything. While basing a portion of their infrastructure in Linux is a sign that Microsoft is embracing open source, this is not the first time. Back in 2003, which is not a Linux-friendly year for the company, Microsoft used Linux-based infrastructure from Akamai to provide DDoS and malware protection. It worked. They have even been attributed as a top contributor to the Linux kernel in the past.

The OS is internal to Microsoft, but it is in affiliation with the Open Compute Project. I'm not sure if we will ever see the OS or its full source publicly.

Source: Microsoft

September Update of Xbox App for Windows 10 Released

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2015 - 07:29 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, xbox, pc gaming

The Xbox App for Windows 10 was touted as a major feature before launch, but you barely hear about it after. I will occasionally get a notification that I can record game footage, or a little pop-up after pressing the center button of my 360 controller. Other than that, I barely notice that it exists. A lot of the functionality is useful to manage their Xbox One or Xbox Live Gamertag (do they even call it that anymore?) but PC gamers barely have a reason to open it. Granted, I expect Microsoft hopes that will change after enough Xbox-aware games for Windows 10 hit market. It's early days.


Some currently use it though, and it has just received an update for them. Version 9.9.16003.00000 has added four new features, two of which implement automatic updates for friends and their activity feeds. The button to refresh is still present, which is always nice in case something goes wrong, but it shouldn't need to be pressed as the app should be pulling notifications from Microsoft's servers on its own.

The other two features are more interesting.

The Xbox App now supports “Console text entry”. This feature allows Xbox One users to type into the console's search boxes “and more” using Windows 10 devices, and, more importantly, their keyboards or keypads. A chat pad is being launched for the console soon, which plugs into the controller to give it a QWERTY keyboard, but supporting laptops is definitely nice.

The last feature is “Game progress comparison”. In the Achievements panel, you are able to click on the “compare” button to line up your achievement history next to your friends. As it turns out, Ryan has a higher score than me in Halo 3. That just won't do.

Microsoft has also announced that they will be providing a Beta app in the future, which will arrive later this month. You can pick it up from the Windows Store when it becomes available, if you want.

Source: Microsoft

Cooler Master Launches QuickFire XTi Mechanical Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2015 - 06:28 PM |
Tagged: cooler master, quickfire xti, mechanical keyboard

Once again, a mechanical keyboard with 104-key rollover claims to have 100% anti-ghosting, because that is expected from a marketing perspective. Once you have a key matrix that has each key isolated, which 104-key rollover strongly suggests, then ghosting cannot occur so “anti-ghosting” is meaningless. Unfortunately, keyboard companies are still compelled to advertise the feature on the box, but I hope our readers understand the difference.


Regardless, Cooler Master has launched the QuickFire XTi mechanical keyboard. It uses official Cherry MX switches, but not the Cherry MX RGB switches that were once exclusive to Corsair. Instead of 16 million colors in the typical human spectrum, it allows for 35 colors on the red-blue spectrum. This could be a problem for people who want yellow, white, or green keys, but acceptable if you'll keep it at colors in the range of red, blue, or magenta. I'm not particularly sure why they cut so much of the spectrum away, but it clearly made sense to them. The lighting can be animated, though.

Cooler Master is proud of their cable management, though. The cable is detachable with a micro USB head and braided. They also have a few different ways of routing the wire under the keyboard, allowing the cable to come out on the side that makes the most sense for your desk, which is particularly good for lefties.

The Cooler Master QuickFire XTi is available now for $150 USD. I've found it on Amazon for $123.86, though.

Microsoft Releases Windows 10 Preview 10547 to Fast Ring

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2015 - 05:05 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

As we approach the first major update to Windows 10, Microsoft has released another build to Fast Ring users. Oddly enough, Slow Ring users have not received a single build yet, and rumors have the release scheduled for the October / November time frame. This build is bigger than some previous ones that we've seen, addressing issues from the Start Menu, Edge, Tablet Mode, first-party apps, and more.


The headlining feature is an option to increase the number of tiles that are available on Start. Currently, you are allowed to have 512 tiles, but a switch will bump that up to 2048. This will obviously help users who have a lot of different applications, but I personally find myself using Search a lot more. I would like to see Microsoft support multiple instances of the same application, so you can select between common command-line arguments without having tiles on your desktop, bringing Search and Start to parity with it.

Object RTC in Microsoft Edge is interesting from a developer perspective, though. This standard allows real-time audio and video communication, which is commonly used for applications like video conferencing -- but that is not even its most important application. The base standard, Web RTC, allows websites to create network sockets, including peer to peer. Mozilla created a game, BananaBread, which uses this -- not for audio or video chat -- but for multiplayer synchronization without a server (except to connect the initial handshake). Unfortunately, implementations that I've used is also hostile to networks without UPnP support... maybe Microsoft will push that in a good direction.

Build 10547 is available now for Fast Ring users from Windows Update.

Source: Microsoft

Star Wars Battlefront Beta Will Be Public

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2015 - 03:56 PM |
Tagged: ea, Star Wars, Star Wars Battlefront, pc gaming

EA has announced a beta for Star Wars: Battlefront, which will apparently be open for everyone. This will take place in “early October” and contain three game modes, each of the two known ones with a single map. I expect that the third, unknown mode, Drop Zone, will also come with its own map, but it could technically reuse Hoth or Tatooine from Walker Assault and Survival, respectively.


If you are not a fan of online gaming, then EA is supporting single-player Survival mode. You will apparently require an internet connection, but it is unclear whether you need to have it active to play the offline mode, while you play it. Squadron Fighter mode will not be available in the beta, but Walker Assault has a bit of aircraft play, so you should get a taste of the controls (if you can ever find an available vehicle).

EA has also mentioned their Star Wars Battlefront Companion app. This will not be some kind of Commander Mode. It will apparently have a card game and social component. It will be available during the beta as a website, but the iOS and Android app will be “prior to the release of Star Wars Battlefront”.

The game will come out on November 17th, while the beta will be available in early October.

Source: EA

HP Split Imminent, and 30,000+ Employees Will Be Let Go

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2015 - 03:10 PM |
Tagged: layoffs, hp inc, hp, hewlett-packard enterprise

As we reported a while ago, Hewlett-Packard is planning to split into two. The move will separate the consumer products into “HP Inc” and enterprise products into “Hewlett-Packard Enterprise”. This makes sense, because enterprise clients know the full name, but many consumers probably do not. At the time, it was expected to result in 5000 jobs lost, resulting in 55,000 since the upper management focused on cutting expenses. Now, about a year later, and right before the split happens, we find out that 5000 is now well over 30,000, bringing the 55,000 figure to between 85,000 and 95,000.


Image Credit: Wikipedia

These are fairly severe cuts, but it depends on how you look at it. A typical corporate restructure is around 10% of employees as a rule of thumb. If you count the slow, rolling job cuts as a single restructure, then the Hewlett-Packard Company has cut about 25% - 30% of their workforce, albeit offset by some hiring and rehiring that naturally won't be reported on as much as cuts.

If you look at this deal as a single restructure however, then it is between 10-15%, which is somewhat normal. Personally, I would say that this is the slightly more honest way of reporting on the issue. These cuts are on the severe side, but I don't think it spells trouble for the companies (although it is terrible for the employees).

Source: Ars Technica

Are you leaving us so Zune?

Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2015 - 12:52 PM |
Tagged: zune, microsoft

Much to the dismay of a certain PCPer, Zune is passing off this mortal coil as yet another iTunes killer that turned out not to live up to the creators hopes.  As of November 15th Zune services will be retired which means no new music or streaming for owners of the MP3 player.  You will still be able to play music as long as it is not DRM protected, once the licensing servers go down the protected content will no longer be accessible in yet another glaring example of how DRM hurts those who pay for content far more effectively than it prevents theft.  The Register does have some good news for those dozens of people effected, Zune Music Pass subscriptions will be converted to Groove Music Pass subscriptions.


"Come November, Microsoft is killing off Zune – the very thing that was supposed to kill off the Apple iPod and iTunes. As you may be able to tell, that execution never came about."

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Source: The Register

Podcast #367 - AMD R9 Nano, a Corsair GTX 980Ti, NVIDIA Pascal Rumors and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2015 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: xps 12, video, TSMC, Steam Controller, r9 nano, podcast, pascal, nvidia, msi, hdplex h5, gtx 980ti sea hawk, fury x, Fiji, dell, corsair, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #367 - 09/17/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the AMD R9 Nano, a Corsair GTX 980Ti, NVIDIA Pascal Rumors 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!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

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

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

BitTorrent Sync 2.2 Introduces New Pricing Model, Bugfixes, and Performance Improvements

Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2015 - 02:28 AM |
Tagged: bittorrent, bittorrent sync, file sharing, backup files, file sync

BitTorrent, Inc. recently released a new version of its Sync application, Sync 2.2.1. This latest build introduces a new paid pricing model that is much more favorable towards personal users (more akin to the original alpha and beta versions), implements several bugfixes, and contains performance improvements over previous builds.

According to the developers, the pricing model changes in Sync 2.2+ are the result of user feedback on their forums, user surveys, and suggestions made via email and other channels. Sync will maintain the free and Pro tiers, but personal users will be getting more value. The biggest change for free users is the removal of the 10 folder limit – free licenses can create and access as many folders as they need. Sync Pro can be purchased for personal or business use. Personal use Pro licenses will no longer have access to Priority Support however it is a one time charge and there is no longer an annual subscription required. Business licenses for Sync Pro will continue to be based on an annual subscription and will retain access to Priority Support.

BitTorrent Sync 2_2_1.jpg

Only minor UI changes in the new build. Sync All has been renamed to Selective Sync and there are more buttons along the top bar, but otherwise it appears very similar to what you'd expect.

Of course, existing users can choose to keep their existing subscription(s) or switch to the new pricing model. More information on how to do that can be found in this FAQ. A detailed list of bugfixes and changes can be found here. Free users will notice that you can now see all of your connected devices. Users will also be able to see a list of locked files on a per-user basis now as well.

Sync Pro is now available for personal use for $39.99 and for business use at $39.99 per year per seat (up to 50 users). BitTorrent is offering a 25% discount until September 22, 2015 using the promo code 2.2launch.

I have been using Sync since the alpha builds, and it has been dutifully backing up all of my photos from my smartphone as well as periodically being used to sync files between my desktop and laptop. The free version has gotten a fair number of feature improvements along the way. So far, I have not felt the need to pay for the Pro version, but the removal of the yearly subscription requirement makes me much more inclined to check it out. The removal of the 10 folder limit for free users is huge though, as that artificial restriction likely turned off many users from trying out Sync. I am happy to see BitTorrent responding to user feedback.

See more BitTorrent Sync coverage at PC Perspective.

Fallout 4's instructional videos

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2015 - 02:13 PM |
Tagged: fallout 4

You can still enjoy the lead up to the release of Fallout 4 without pre-ordering the game.  Bethesda is slowly releasing videos which cover the SPECIAL system, Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck that define your character in the game.  So far we have seen Strength and today the Perception video was released.  We have a ways to go yet before the release, you could always look at adding mods to Fallout 3 or New Vegas to entertain yourself while you wait.


"Pretty fun, these ‘toons, aren’t they? For folks who can’t watch now or would rather have words, Perception once again governs shooty things. Higher Perception means your accuracy will be higher when using the bodypart-targeting VATS aiming mode, same as before."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:


PINs and Patterns are preferable after this Android 5 issue

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2015 - 12:49 PM |
Tagged: hack, smartphone, Android, security

You can see in the video that The Register linked to that this particular vulnerability is neither quick nor elegant but it is most certainly effective.  By entering an extremely long string of digits into the password field, accomplished with multiple copies and pastes, while the camera app is active you can cause the lock screen application to crash on all but the newest version of Android 5.  Unfortunately the effect of that crash is to drop you onto the phones home screen, thus allowing complete access to the phone.  If you are running a version of Android 5 you should consider switching to a PIN or pattern unlock, at least for the time being.


"If you've got an Android 5 smartphone with anything but the very latest version of Lollipop on it, it's best to use a PIN or pattern to secure your lock-screen – because there's a trivial bypass for its password protection."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: The Register

Keeping it simple with the Azio EXO-1 K gaming mouse

Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2015 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: input, AiZO, EXO1-K, gaming mouse

Not everyone can, or even wants, to spend $100 on a mouse which prices out a lot of the high end gaming mice on the market.  At $30 the AiZO EXO1-K might be a perfect solution for those customers, offering a mix of features with a low price.  Fans of glowing mice will like the LEDs, many gamers will be satisfied with the DPI range of 1250 - 3500 and six programmable buttons will be just enough for your average user.  Overclockers Club found the mouse a bit heavy and the movement was stiff initially but not hard to become accustomed to.  Only right handed people need apply at the moment, hopefully a leftie model will arrive eventually.


"This mouse, above all, you get what you pay for. It's not a $100 mouse that does everything but order pizza for you. It is not a cheap garbage mouse that only works half the time, either. What you get is a reliable, aesthetically pleasing, and simple gaming mouse. That being mentioned, this gives the mouse every bit of credit that some of the more expensive mice deserve as well."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk


Virtual Reality as an Art Form? Artists Compete Using VR at PAX Prime

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | September 15, 2015 - 01:07 PM |
Tagged: VR, virtual reality, Tilt Brush, PAX Prime 2015, paint, nvidia, art

A group of six artists from the gaming industry were brought together at this month's PAX Prime event in Seattle in a joint vebture between NVIDIA, Valve, Google and HTC. The idea? To use virtual reality to create art. The result was very interesting, to say the least.

Wearing HTC’s VR headset the artists had 30 minutes each to create their work using Tilt Brush. What is Tilt Brush, exactly?

"Tilt Brush uses the HTC Vive’s unique hand controllers and positional tracking to allow artists to paint in three dimensions. The software includes a remarkable digital palette, letting users draw GPU-powered real-time effects like fire, smoke and light."

The artists included Chandana Ekanayake from Uber Entertainment, Lee Petty from Double Fine Productions, Michael Shilliday from Whiterend Creative, Mike Krahulik from Penny Arcade, Sarah Northway from Northway Games and Tristan Reidford from Valve.

NVIDIA is hosting a contest to pick the winner on their Facebook page; so what's in it for you? "The artist with the most votes will win ultimate bragging rights, and voters will be entered to win a new GeForce GTX 980 Ti!" Not bad.

This is certainly a novel application of VR, but serves to illustrate (pun intended) that the tech really does provide endless possibilities - far beyond 3D art or gameplay immersion.

Source: NVIDIA Blogs

Intel is offering a much better deal than "Hack your car; go to jail"

Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2015 - 12:58 PM |
Tagged: security, Intel, hack

Intel is bucking the trend of FUD and overreaction when someone reveals a major flaw in a product that is on the market and are instead rewarding those who find ways to hack their automobiles.  As we have seen recently, remotely exploiting onboard software and causing a car to crash is no longer something only possible in the movies and it seems that Intel is far more interested in working towards secure solutions as opposed to the auto manufacturers reliance on lawsuits and security through obscurity.  Intel's Automotive Security Review Board is looking for bright minded individuals who will help bring PC style security to cars and is offering a free car (or cash equivalent) to the member who provides the best contribution.  Check out the links at The Register if you are interested.


"Intel is getting serious – dead serious, apparently – about car hacking. And nothing says serious like a prize giveaway. If you join Chipzilla's new Automotive Security Review Board and make all the right noises, you can win a free new ride."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: The Register

Stop your Android from dreaming of electric sheep

Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2015 - 02:45 PM |
Tagged: smartphones, Android

In the model used by Purdue University they found that 45.9% of your battery's charge is drained by apps which access resources while your screen is turned off and that 28.9% of that is because of bad programming in apps which refuse to let the CPU go back to sleep.  Being able to prevent the launch of the apps, or to ensure that they do properly release resources when finished could therefore extend your battery life.  They have modified Android framework to do so in this proof of concept available at GitHub, it is not an app yet so you will need to be familiar with the Android OS to test it out now.  Check out the their paper at The Register, modify your phone or simply wait for the app to be released.


"Too many Android apps are battery hogs when the screen is off, so researchers at Purdue University have released to a tool to shut them up."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: The Register

OMGChad Talks Steam Controller with Robin Walker

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | September 13, 2015 - 08:53 PM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Controller, steam

As far as I can tell, this video is not from a larger organization. I sent OMGChad a tweet to verify that he was at PAX as an independent YouTube personality, but I didn't get a response. I couldn't recognize the intro bumper, and it didn't seem to be in use on any of his other videos, or any other PAX video that I could find, but it seemed like a significant amount of work for a one-off. If someone in the comments knows anything, be sure to leave a note.

Update, Sept 14th, 2015: OMGChad has just responded to my tweet. He was there "for myself and @MindcrackLP". Again, it's a minor point, but it's something that I should get correct if possible.

As for the story, OMGChad talks with Robin Walker, the man who takes responsibility for all the hats in TF2, about the Steam Controller in Alienware's booth at PAX Prime 2015. After several delays, the input device is scheduled to launch on November 10th (which will be a busy day apparently). It has changed significantly over time, with early prototypes even playing around with a touch screen. The two touch pads, while markers on them have changed from concentric rings to a cross on the left and nothing on the right, were relatively close to their original concept.

Robin Walker goes over the main design decisions and what rationale led to them. For instance, the reason for the grips on the back is because they found that people were taking their thumbs off of the view stick for just a couple of actions, such as reload or “use”. He also discusses the dual-stage triggers, which have a button at the end for secondary actions (like a nitro boost at the end of your throttle). It is somewhat expected that a representative for a company selling a controller would highlight what makes their product unique, but it's nice to have that extra behind-the-scenes insight.


The Steam Controller will launch on November 10th for $49.99 USD ($59.99 CDN). There was an option to pre-order to get it early, but the early batch is over so -- let's be honest -- you don't need me to tell you what you already did.

Source: OMGChad

StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Release Date and Cinematic

Subject: General Tech | September 13, 2015 - 04:14 PM |
Tagged: starcraft 2, pc gaming, legacy of the void, blizzard

It has been more than five years since Wings of Liberty was released, which itself was a long-awaited continuation of the StarCraft story. The first game and its expansion had their narrative cut into six episodes, three each, that were released all at once. The three episodes of StarCraft II, on the other hand, were decoupled into the original game and two follow-ups. The third and final one, which focuses on the Protoss, will arrive on November 10th, 2015.

Representatives from Blizzard have said, multiple times, that Legacy of the Void will wrap up the story arc for the main characters. The story may continue, but we should get a solid conclusion. The release date announcement came with a cinematic trailer, above, showing the Protoss holding off against the Zerg. There doesn't seem to be much story in it at first glance, but Blizzard is quite subtle about meanings. Some questions, like who exactly they are fighting and why, might be addressed in the story.


So that's what it looks like to them...

This announcement aligned with the finals of WCS Season 3, which is the last season before Blizzcon. Apart from the two sister tournaments in South Korea, GSL and SSL, there is just one Blizzard-counted tournament remaining, which is DreamHack Open in Stockholm, Sweden. WCS Season 3 was won by Lilbow, a Protoss player from France, which propels him from 18th place to at most 8th Update Sept 13th @ 8:40pm ET (Part of the points were already accounted for apparently): 13th, minus a few positions once everyone's points are accounted for. Since the top 16 make it to the year's global finals at Blizzcon, this is enough buffer room to guarantee a spot at the tournament.

Source: Blizzard

Cooler Master Pitch Pro Earbuds are great when you are on the go

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2015 - 02:40 PM |
Tagged: audio, cooler master, CM Storm Pitch Pro, gaming headset

Cooler Master's CM Storm Pitch Pro earbuds come with a bit more options than many others that are for sale, the splitter and airplane connector are good inclusions for the traveller.  They use 10mm neodymium drivers which will have some trouble with bass but are about as big as is feasible for inserting into your ears.  As you might expect, Kitguru was not overly impressed with the inline microphone though it is certainly good enough for casual usage.  Check out their reveiw here.


"Back in 2013, Cooler Master launched the CM Storm Pitch gaming ear buds and at the time, they were positively received, we even gave them our ‘WORTH BUYING’ award. Now here we are two years later with Cooler Master launching the revamped CM Storm Pitch Pro ear buds. Are they worth a purchase?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: KitGuru

The humble MSI X99A GODLIKE Gaming motherboard

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2015 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: msi, X99A GODLIKE GAMING, LGA2011-v3, e-atx

Considering its name, the over $500 price tag attached to the MSI X99A GODLIKE GAMING motherboard should not come as too much of a surprise.  Capable of handling any LGA2011-v3 processor, including Xeons and supporting up to 128GB of DDR4 the board has a lot of potential.  The E-ATX form factor allows the inclusion of five PCIe 3.0 16x slots, 10 SATA 6Gbps ports, a pair of M.2 slots and a SEx port, though you are not going to have enough PCIe lanes to drive all of those at full speed simultaneously even with a Xeon.  THE NICs are provided by Killer and include WiFi as well as two LAN ports.  [H]ard|OCP were impressed by the overall stability and functionality of the board as well as the behaviour when overclocking but there were one or two things they thought might have been executed better, which you can read about here.


"MSI’s X99A GODLIKE has not only a pretentious name but more features than you can shake a stick at. The decision to use a game reference from a series that long since died out is a puzzling one. While we're not going to pretend to understand MSI’s marketing, it has built what may be one of the best "Red and Black" motherboards of all time. "

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Source: [H]ard|OCP