Blizzard's New Battle.net Launcher Feels Slick...

Subject: General Tech | September 3, 2014 - 12:31 AM |
Tagged: blizzard, battle.net

There has been a new Battle.net launcher in the works for quite some time now, about thirteen months. Blizzard is finally rolling it out to users of StarCraft II. Loading up the game a couple of days ago, I was transitioned to the new system. I must say: it looks and feels pretty slick.

blizzard-battlenet-real01.jpg

First, the main pages have a glass-like blur atop a background image for its window chrome. It has a borderless window style with a simple, one-pixel frame. When focused, it lights up a little central region at the top, rather than an entire strip of it. Personally, I find that this looks a little bit better than even Steam's most recent update -- but that is just being picky. Blizzard definitely thought about how it would look, and it shows.

The games are currently limited to World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, and Hearthstone. This leaves the shop quite limited, except for a few in-game mounts, pets, and services attached to WoW. Beyond the store, the layout is definitely intuitive and clean, despite only playing StarCraft II. And who knows, it might encourage me to branch out a little bit (but probably not).

blizzard-battlenet-01.jpg

The app is also designed to function as a messenger client. When playing StarCraft II, I found it quite weird to have a chat and instant messenger client built into each of their games, which needed to be running for it to be useful. Obviously, it is much easier to have Battle.net run in the background 24/7 than, say, Diablo III or StarCraft II, so this should make their messenger application more useful. This is a fairly obvious statement. The part that feels weird is how it doesn't seem to integrate with any of the game's chatrooms. I would have expected that I could interact with the chat groups of Blizzard's various games, but that is not that case. It seems like I still need to launch into StarCraft II, or whatever, to go about doing that. This, as stated, feels weird... almost like they have not got around to it yet.

Blizzard's new Battle.net launcher is available for download basically the next time you launch StarCraft II.

Source: Blizzard

Steam Adds App Types: Film, TV, Video, Plugin, and Music

Subject: General Tech | September 2, 2014 - 10:50 PM |
Tagged: steam os, steam, htpc

In a recent Steam Beta update, Valve added a few new entries to its EAppType structure. Previously, the options were invalid, game, application, tool, demo, media, DLC, guide, driver, config, shortcut, and "depotonly". The recent update adds five new ones: film, TV series, video, plugin, and music.

Steam-eapp-additions.png

These additions could mean that Steam is intending to distribute film, TV, video, plugins, and music; alternatively, it could just allow users to integrate existing catalogs into the same interface. Of course, this is coming from someone with just about zero knowledge of Steam's internal structure. Someone who is more familiar with Steam might be able to say that I am stupid and this specific enum structure is only used the interface with the catalog or the store. I do not know.

What I am confident in saying is that Valve is serious about making Steam a full home theater PC platform. At LinuxCon, prior to the announcement of SteamOS, Gabe Newell discussed the family ownership (and sharing) of music and movie libraries right alongside his discussion of video games. Whether they want to deal with media company relations is a different story, however.

But let's not get too caught up in media for a second. What is a "plugin"?

This entry was what really caught my eye. Could Valve be designing a plugin architecture for the Steam client? Its built in web browser (or third-party browsers if Valve allows)? Or could it be a method of delivering user content for other apps on their system (similar to how DLC has its own type). If it is a Steam Client or SteamOS plugin, what would that even entail? I am definitely curious.

NVIDIA Announces GAME24: Global PC Gaming Event

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | September 2, 2014 - 02:51 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, game24, pc gaming

At 6PM PDT on September 18th, 2014, NVIDIA and partners will be hosting GAME24. The evemt will start at that time, all around the world, and finish 24 hours later. The three main event locations are Los Angeles, California, USA; London, England; and Shanghai, China. Four, smaller events will be held in Chicago, Illinois, USA; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Mission Viejo, California, USA; and Stockholm, Sweden. It will also be live streamed on the official website.

nvidia-game24-2014.png

Registration and attendance is free. If you will be in the area and want to join, sign up. Registration closes an hour before the event, but it is first-come-first-serve. Good luck. Have fun. Good game.

Source: NVIDIA

NETGEAR Announces Nighthawk X4 AC2350 Router

Subject: General Tech, Networking | September 2, 2014 - 05:31 AM |
Tagged: nighthawk x4, netgear, mu-mimo, 802.11ac

Today, NETGEAR has announced the Nighthawk X4 802.11ac router. It is dual-band, with up to 1733 Mbps of bandwidth (four channels of 433 Mbps) on 5.0 GHz and up to 600 Mbps (three channels of 200 Mbps) on 2.4 GHz. Compared to the Nighthawk X6, released earlier in the year, the X4 is design for fewer users who demand more performance.

netgear-nighthawkx4-01.jpg

The first thing that stood out for me was its processor...s. The router contains two of them. Its main CPU is a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon-based (Update - Sept 2nd @ 5:20pm EDT: "Snapdragon-based" is unclear and misleading. It has "Snapdragon DNA with dual Krait cores". It is from their Qualcomm Internet Processors (IPQ) line, as mentioned in the following sentence.) ARM processor, clocked at 1.4 GHz. It is from their Qualcomm Internet Processors (IPQ) line, so it is not directly comparable to an SoC from their mobile line-up. NETGEAR also added a second, dualcore processor, clocked at 500 MHz, that is dedicated to deal with WiFi-related tasks as an "offload".

The reason why I found this interesting was that, not too many years ago, routers did not advertise their processor and RAM. There was once a niche who would create their own routers out of old PCs and an x86-compatible firmware (like OpenWRT). The push was to cheap routers with high bandwidth ratings. When I asked NETGEAR at what point did the industry decide to take the internal hardware seriously, their response was that about 73% of customers are repeat buyers. They upgraded their router because they were not happy with the performance that they were getting. Users have changed. HD video is going to numerous devices all over the home at the same time as games and downloads do their thing. The extra performance is necessary to keep the potential bandwidth in line with its usage.

netgear-nighthawkx4-02.png

One feature about this router that NETGEAR was promoting is Dynamic QoS. Using the extra processing power, mentioned in the two paragraphs above, the device identifies applications and allocates bandwidth accordingly. One example that they gave is YouTube versus Netflix. While both stream, Netflix will only grab what it needs while YouTube will load as quickly as possible to buffer ahead. If resources are tight, and Netflix is attempting to coexist with YouTube at any given time, the router will throttle the YouTube stream to provide it with at least enough bandwidth to stream, but not buffer, like, ten times faster than real time and choke out Netflix into a lower bit rate. If necessary, it will also prioritize the larger screen (TV) with the higher bit rate Netflix connection, where it will be more noticeable (than the smaller screen of a tablet, for instance).

And yes, QoS has been present in routers for more than a dog's age. They claim that it is typically a feature that users turn on, dislike, then turn right back off again. They believe that their new implementation will actually win you over.

netgear-nighthawkx4-03.jpg

The router will also feature two USB 3.0 ports and an eSATA connection. It will allow networked PC backup to an external hard drive and streaming media (photos, music, and videos) to TVs by DLNA.

The NETGEAR Nighthawk X4 AC2350 (R7500) is available now for $279.99.

Source: NETGEAR

Volition to Release Saint's Row IV Mod Kit

Subject: General Tech | August 31, 2014 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: Saints Row IV, mod, pc gaming

I just finished discussing how Grand Theft Auto IV's mod community thrives almost in spite of not having an official toolkit. Apparently, at PAX 2014, Volition announced that Saint's Row IV's official development kit will be released to the public. This follows their announcements of Saint's Row 4: Re-elected, an updated version for PS4 and Xbox One, and Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell, a spin-off of Saint's Row IV for the PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, and Windows PC, that claims to place the Third Street Saints in a Disney-esque musical set in Hell.

As usual, I encourage as many developers as possible to release their development tools to the community. If you have a good game, and the community believes they could make it even better, that could help you. This seems obvious but has some development costs and (irrational?) fear of eating into DLC sales. On the other hand, it could help promote your product and its DLC, spin-offs, and so forth... see above.

Source: Joystiq

Watch_Dogs Mod for Grand Theft Auto IV

Subject: General Tech | August 31, 2014 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: watch_dogs, watch dogs, pc gaming, mod, GTA4

If you are not in our IRC chat room, at irc.pcper.com in the #pcper channel, then you could be missing out. We often promote the forums, especially when they review components or host a LAN party, the chatroom is populated just about 24/7. A couple of days ago, KngtRider, IRC regular and owner of Nitroware, an Australian computer hardware news and review website, dropped me a link to a Grand Theft Auto IV mod that adds Watch Dogs elements. You can see the main features in the video below.

The level to which Grand Theft Auto games have been modded is surprising, especially since the tools are community-developed (unless I am completely mistaken). In this mod, the player is able to hack into cameras, ATMs, lights, and even blackout the area around his or her character. The developers even add in a custom HUD, the new wanted level system, and take down attacks.

While I did not try it, the video is impressive. For more information, check out the Kotaku article.

Source: Kotaku

Creative Introduces Sound Blaster E5 Portable USB DAC and Headphone Amp

Subject: General Tech | August 30, 2014 - 08:44 AM |
Tagged: usb, Portable Audio, headphones, Headphone Amp, DAC, D/A Converter, Cirrus Logic

Creative has added a new member to their portable Sound Blaster "E" series lineup with the E5. 

SoundBlaster_E5.png

This new multi-function DAC and headphone amp features a reference-grade D/A converter chip from Cirrus Logic, the CS4398, which supports up to 24-bit/192kHz PCM audio (and technically DSD 2.8MHz/5.6MHz, though this does not seem to be implemented here). In addition to the realistic analog reproduction possible from a high quality chip like the CS4398, the Sound Blaster E5 provides amplification via a Texas Instruments TI6120A2, which Creative says gives the E5 a "best-in-class 600 ohm headphone amplifier".

Another aspect of the E5 that sets it apart from the previous E1 and E3 models is the inclusion of optical digital input/output, to go along with USB and dual 3.5mm headphone jacks. The two 3.5mm jacks can simultaniously drive two pairs of headphones, and on the back of the unit there are additional 3.5mm jacks for microphone input, line input/output, and these double as optical input/output via mini TOSLINK. (This might be geared for portable use, but would serve as a fine external sound solution for desktops as well!)

feature_10.jpg

The input stage of the E5 uses another Cirrus Logic chip, the CS5361, enabling high quality recording options from various sources at up to same 24-bit/192kHz. While supporting external microphones (as well as line/optical input) the E5 also has "built-in beamforming CrystalVoice microphones for audio recording and calls". And while the E5 is employing Creative's SBX sound processing chip, this DSP can be switched off with a button on the side of the device - a welcome option for serious music listening from high-resolution source material.

feature_04_high.jpg

The Sound Blaster E5 also supports digital input from iPhone and "select" Android phones (listed compatible devices include the Samsung Galaxy S4/S5, Galaxy Note 2/3, and Nexus 5/7). For portable use the E5 has a built-in rechargeable 3200mAh lithium polymer battery, which Creative says will provide up to 8 hours of playback per charge.

The Sound Blaster E5 will be available in October for $199 at Creative's online store (and likely various other retail outlets).

Source: Creative

New Haswell's aren't just for the desktop, they go in the server room too

Subject: General Tech | August 29, 2014 - 09:55 AM |
Tagged: Intel, Haswell-EP, E5-2600v3, hp, proliant

HP is releasing numerous new systems that will be running the Haswell-EP E5-2600v3, a tower format ML350 and the rack-mount DL360 and DL380 systems as well as a BL460c blade server and two brand new entry level models, the racked DL360e and DL380e.  These systems will be optimized heavily to take advantage of a proprietary PCI Express workload accelerator, HP Smartcache, HP DDR4 SmartMemory and Flexfabric adapters.  We won't see pricing until the release date of September 8 but until then you can check out the some of the stats at The Register.

hp-dl380-gen9-540x334.jpg

"The Gen9 Proliant systems will be made available on 8 September, HP said at the London launch event, and will be based on Intel's upcoming Xeon E5-2600v3 processors, which the chipmaker has yet to release."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Podcast #315 - AMD Radeon R7 SSD, Haswell-E Rumors, Radeon R9 285, and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 28, 2014 - 10:47 AM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, radeon r7 ssd, Haswell-E, r9 285, haf stacker, coolermaster, Broadwell, nuc, zotac, zbox pico

PC Perspective Podcast #315 - 08/28/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the AMD Radeon R7 SSD, Haswell-E Rumors, Radeon R9 285, 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:22:59
 

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

 

ASUS Quietly Refreshes Its Transformer T100 Tablet With New Hardware and Color Options

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | August 28, 2014 - 10:30 AM |
Tagged: Windows 8.1, transformer t100, Intel, Bay Trail, Atom Z3775, asus

Following rumors earlier this summer, ASUS has quietly refreshed its Transformer T100 tablet. ASUS is now offering T100 tablet versions in multiple colors with a faster Intel Bay Trail processor as well as a version that retains the original SoC but adds a 500GB hard drive to the keyboard dock. I have been keeping an eye on the T100 since it first launched almost a year ago at IFA 2013, and have been eagerly waiting for the rumored refresh. Fortunately, that wait is now over because the updated Transformer T100s are finally starting to appear and be available for purchase on retailers' websites (first at Tiger Direct, then Amazon, and others now).

ASUS T100 Red Windows 8 Tablet.jpg

The T100 is now available in red and white as well as the original gray. The red and white SKUs feature a higher end Bay Trail SoC while the updated gray SKU comes with a 500GB mechanical hard drive nested inside the keyboard dock. The table below lists the model numbers for the new tablets. I should note that there are conflicting specifications at different retailers for the model numbers listed, which makes this under-the-radar refresh so frustrating, but after a bit of digging I believe the specifications to be accurate and any conflicting information to simply be errors on the part of those retailers.

New ASUS Transformer T100 Tablet SKUs (T100 Refresh)
Model Numbers Processor Internal Storage Color Price (Amazon) Price (MSRP)
T100TA-C1-WH(S) Intel Z3775 64GB eMMC White $394.99 $399
T100TA-C1-RD(S) Intel Z3775 64GB eMMC Red $388.99 $399
T100TA-C1-GR(S) Intel Z3775 64GB eMMC Gray $329.99 $399
T100TA-H2-GR Intel Z3740 64GB eMMC + 500GB HDD Gray $449.99 $?
T100TA-H1-GR Intel Z3740 32GB eMMC + 500GB HDD Gray $369.00 $399

The new colors are nice (I'm partial to the red T100), but the upgraded processor is the truly interesting bit about this Windows tablet (which won PC Perspective's "Best Hardware of 2013" award). The original T100 launched with an Intel Atom Z3740 SoC an the refreshed Transformer T100 uses a higher clocked Atom Z3775. The Z3775 is a higher-end Intel Bay Trail processor with four Silvermont CPU cores clocked at 1.46GHz that can boost to as high as 2.39GHz. The HD Graphics GPU retains the same base clockspeed as the Z3740 but has a higher turbo frequency of 778MHz (versus 667MHz on the Z3740). The table below lists the specifications of the two chips. The new SoC has significantly higher CPU clocks and a decent boost to potential GPU horsepower (thermals permitting).

Intel Atom SoC Z3740 Z3775
CPU Cores 4 x "Silvermont" Cores 4 x "Silvermont" Cores
CPU Clockspeeds (Base/Boost) 1.33GHz / 1.86GHz 1.46GHz / 2.39GHz
HD Graphics GPU Clockspeeds (Base/Boost) 311MHz / 667MHz 311MHz / 778MHz
L2 Cache 2MB 2MB
Memory Support 4GB 1066MHz 4GB 1066MHz
SDP 2W 2W
Process Node 22nm 22nm
Tray Price $32.00 $35.00

The refreshed T100 has an MSRP of $399 USD for the red and white versions with 64GB eMMC storage and gray SKU with 32GB internal storage and 500GB keyboard dock though retail prices are slightly less than that at the time of writing. The Transformer T100 with 64GB eMMC and additional 500GB hard drive has a retail price of around $450 but the MSRP is unknown.

ASUS T100 White WIndows Tablet.jpg

If you have been holding off, now is a good time to pick up an updated version for a small price premium (or an older version at a discount!). However, if you already own a T100, the relatively minor update will is a hard to justify upgrade (you would likely be better off waiting on Cherry Trail-based devices with better battery life or other improvements as possible upgrades).

WinXP Service Pack 4, but from a third party

Subject: General Tech | August 28, 2014 - 10:15 AM |
Tagged: windows xp

Would you trust a third party developer to provide you with a new service pack for Windows XP?  There is currently a beta version of SP4 developed by one 'harkaz' that you can download and install by following the link at The Inquirer on 32-bit versions of XP with at least SP1 installed.  There are updates to .NET, MCE and a variety of hotfixes in the Service Pack so the majority of the patches are already officially available as individual updates from Windows Update, just rolled into one easy to install package.  The one major change is the POSready registry setting which will allow machines to get the updates intended for Windows XP Embedded which is supported until 2019.  Check it out, if you dare.

windows_xp_logo.jpg

"The developer, who is known as "harkaz", has been working on the service pack since last September. It will work on any version of Windows XP with at least Service Pack 1 applied and can easily be slipstreamed into installation media for fresh installs."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Broadwell Intel NUCs Being Developed. Rumored Q1 2015?

Subject: General Tech, Systems | August 27, 2014 - 05:27 PM |
Tagged: Intel, nuc, Broadwell

The Intel NUC is their small computing form factor, packing what is equivalent to an Ultrabook into a chassis that is smaller than a CD spool. The first release came with Ivy Bridge and it was refreshed with Haswell about a year later. FanlessTech has got a hold a... semi-redacted (?)... slideshow presentation that outlines various models and features. Six models are expected, spread out between Q4 2014 (Haswell), Q1 2015 (Broadwell Core iX), and Q2 2015 (Broadwell Celeron).

Note that a typical Intel NUC contains fans, although the company has released a fanless Bay Trail-based model (and third parties have made their own, custom cooled models based on the form factor). I expect that FanlessTech covers it for those two reasons; it does not mean that these models will be passively cooled. In fact, the product matrix claims that none of these new products will be.

Intel-NEW_NUC_3.png

The six models are broken into three code names.

Both Maple Canyon and Rock Canyon cover the Core i3 and i5 processor segments. Both include NFC, an optional 2.5" drive, four external USB 3.0 ports, LAN, a SATA 3 port, and so forth. They begin to diverge in terms of display outputs, however. Rock Canyon, which is targeted at home theater, home office, and gaming, includes one mini HDMI (1.4a) and one mini DisplayPort (1.2) output. Maple Canyon, on the other hand, includes two mini DisplayPort (version unknown, probably also 1.2) connections. While I do not have a slide for Maple Canyon, replacing the mini HDMI for a mini DisplayPort suggests that it will be targeted more at kiosks and other situations where monitors, rather than TVs, will be used.

Intel-NEW_NUC_4.png

One Haswell Core i5-based Maple Canyon NUC is expected for Q4 2014. Maple Canyon with Broadwell Core i3, Maple Canyon with Broadwell Core i5, Rock Canyon with Broadwell Core i3, and Rock Canyon with Broadwell Core i5 are all expected in Q1 2015. All models will accept up to two DIMMs of memory (16 GB max).

Intel-NEW_NUC_7.png

Only one Pinnacle Canyon model is listed. It will be based on Broadwell Celeron, allow up to 8 GB of memory (1 DIMM), and include four USB 3.0 ports (external). Its display configuration is significantly different from Rock Canyon and Maple Canyon, however. It will have one, full-sized HDMI (1.4a) and one VGA output. It will launch in Q2 2015.

For more information, check out the slides at FanlessTech.

Source: FanlessTech

Watch Notch Make a Doom Renderer in Dart and WebGL

Subject: General Tech | August 27, 2014 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: Notch, webgl, dart, doom

Notch, creator of Minecraft, is developing a rendering engine for Doom in Dart and WebGL (I assume as a hobby). I am a little late to the party, and he has been developing for the last couple of hours now. If you were curious about what it looks like to watch someone develop a 3D rendering engine, this could be your chance. He also interacts with the chatroom, which should be more interesting.

notch-doom-dart-webgl.png

Dart is an open-source programing language that was released by Google in 2011. It compiles to Javascript, but also can be used to make applications via a modified Chromium browser with a direct Dart virtual machine (VM). It can also be run within a command-line.

Watching people program is picking up in popularity. While you would think that this is even more boring than watching people play video games, and you might be right, it could still gain an audience. Epic Games has been working to develop Twitch streaming capabilities directly within Unreal Engine 4's editor, to allow indies (or even large developers) to interact with fans and colleagues.

If interested, check out Notch's stream at Hitbox.tv.

Source: Hitbox.tv

AMD Never Settle Space Edition

Subject: General Tech | August 27, 2014 - 11:12 AM |
Tagged: star citizen, never settle, gaming, fragging frogs, amd, alien isolation

With the release of the new GPUs from AMD comes an addition to the Never Settle bundle, aptly named Never Settle Space Edition.  In addition to the games already available on the Never Settle Forever those who buy the new R9 285 will be able to choose from Alien: Isolation, Star Citizen, Space Run and Habit.  You can see a model of the ship that seems to come with Star Citizen at HEXUS.

The Fragging Frogs will be logging in tonight to get in some gaming action after the Podcast, you can see what is planned and make suggestions in this thread on our Forums.

febdb564-5bc4-43ac-bec1-e957de23bc19.jpg

"To coincide with the launch of the AMD Radeon R9 285 graphics cards AMD will augment the Never Settle choices and re-name the bundle as the 'Never Settle Space Edition'. With the newly announced additional quartet of space games AMD graphics card purchasers will have a choice of 31 games to pick though, depending upon what GPUs they buy."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: Hexus

Chrome officially hits the 64-bit era

Subject: General Tech | August 27, 2014 - 09:34 AM |
Tagged: chrome, 64-bit

The new version of Chrome can now supports 64-bit if you so choose to install that version of Google's browser.  The ability to address more memory is not the only benefit to this new version, it is also optimized for the P9 codec used for Youtube HD which The Inquirer was told now processes 15% more quickly and they agreed that it felt generally faster when using the new browser to surf.  The new version should also offer improved protection from memory layout vulnerabilities so it is certainly worth using on your 64 bit machine.

chrome-64-bit.jpg

"GOOGLE'S 64-BIT EDITION of the Chrome web browser for Windows has been declared stable with the release of Chrome 37."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Scratching the Surface 2 (in the Price Tag). $100 Off.

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | August 26, 2014 - 06:10 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, surface, Surface 2

While the Surface Pro 3 has just been released, the latest Windows RT version is still the Surface 2. It is powered by Tegra 4 and contains 2GB of RAM. It also cannot run anything, unless it comes from Windows Store, it is a Windows Update, or it is a website that runs in Internet Explorer 11. If what you are looking for is Microsoft Office 2013 RT (included), Netflix, Halo: Spartan Assault, and so forth, then all Surface 2 models are currently reduced in price by $100 at the Microsoft Store.

microsoft-surface2.jpg

Of course, the launch of the Surface Pro 3 without a corresponding Surface 3 suggests that this sale is a way to clear up-to year-old stock for a product refresh. In January, there were rumors circulating that a Surface 3 would appear with a Tegra K1 processor. Of course, with the first two RT-based Surface tablets containing Tegra SoCs, that could just be pattern recognition (rather than concrete information). Other rumors claim that Microsoft is interested in Qualcomm's chips, if only for a "mini" variant.

Either way, you can get a Tegra 4-powered tablet for $349 USD (32 GB), $449 USD (64 GB), or $579 USD (64 GB with LTE from AT&T). Previously, they were $449, $549, and $679, respectively.

What is your favourite summer rodent?

Subject: General Tech | August 26, 2014 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: usb, peripherals, input, gaming mouse, gaming keyboard, controller

The Tech Report delves into their favourite peripherals available on the market in this article, covering displays, keyboards, mice and all the other goodies you can attach to your PC.  The brand new G-SYNC 1440p monitor from ASUS of course makes an appearance but there is much more covered than just your display.  A half dozen wired keyboards and three wireless ones made the grade along with a similar number of mice and even controllers are ranked to give you an informed choice about the current market.  They even delve into external audio and storage options so if you have a few unused USB ports head on over and see if you can't find something to fill them

rat7-transform.jpg

"In this second edition of the peripheral staff picks, we've reworked the display section with the latest 4K and G-Sync monitors in mind. We've also updated the other sections to account for price fluctuations, changes in product availability, and findings from our latest round of reviews. The result should be, we hope, a more informative and up-to-date resource for your back-to-school shopping needs."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

The mysterious September Windows release

Subject: General Tech | August 26, 2014 - 11:10 AM |
Tagged: windows, microsoft, threshold, win9

Something new will be announced by Microsoft in September but no one seems to know exactly what Threshold is.  It could be a work in progress version of Windows 9: The Button's Return, but then again it could be something completely different.  The rumours and speculation are rampant, as the current 982X build carries the name "Windows Technical Preview", similar to what Win8 was labelled before release but not specific enough to discourage enthusiasts from theorizing that it could be something else.  Also adding to the fuel is a new feature in Windows Update which will allow in place upgrades of your build of Windows, perhaps similar to the Windows Vista to 7 upgrade which caused much confusion.  You can follow the links from Slashdot to get your fill of the current guesses or wait until September 30th when Microsoft finally spills the beans.

windows-9-threshold.jpg

"Nobody seems to know for sure whether 'Threshold' and 'Windows 9' will be one and the same or separate operating systems, reports Woody Leonhard in his roundup of insights on Microsoft's forthcoming OS plans, expected September 30. 'Many people think the terms are synonymous, but longtime Chinese leaker Faikee continues to maintain that they are two separate products, possibly headed in different directions.

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

Google Will Not Buy Twitch.tv... Amazon Did.

Subject: General Tech | August 25, 2014 - 03:49 PM |
Tagged: amazon, twitch, twitch.tv, google

Well this is a surprise (and I think a pleasant one). We were under the impression that YouTube, the video distribution arm of Google, was planning to purchase Twitch for $1 billion USD (pending regulatory approval). Today, it was made official: Amazon would be purchasing the video streaming platform. Twitch's CEO, Emmett Shear, published an open letter to their community with a message of thanks and a confirmation of Amazon's acquisition.

18-Mmm-amazon.png

I guess "eSports" is ready for... Prime time.

Twitch did not mention their value, but don't worry -- Amazon published a press release. The retail and infrastructure giant will pay $970 million in cash. The entire deal is expected to finalize "in the second half of 2014". Since we are already in the second half of 2014, that means any time between now and New Year's (assuming "Calendar 2014").

On the copyright front, I believe this is a major step forward. We originally feared that YouTube, and its parent company, Google, would impose a similar system to their own upon Twitch, to appease copyright owners. This is a problem because YouTube's copyright complaint system is plagued with abuse. I hope that Amazon and Twitch will be more friendly to potential, unproven infringers than YouTube has demonstrated itself to be.

Lastly, Amazon has a big, existing business in web infrastructure and online content delivery. Whether you look from the angle of Prime Video or Amazon Web Services (EC2, CloudFront, etc.), the company can handle sending bits from one place to another. They seem to be a good fit on on that front.

If there was any doubt that Amazon wants to be a big part of the gaming industry, it is gone.

Source: Amazon

Hack your Chromecast for extras and protection

Subject: General Tech | August 25, 2014 - 09:16 AM |
Tagged: chromecast, root, streaming, hulu, Netflix

Chromecast and some of its alternatives have been covered previously on PC Perspective, not just their capabilities but also ways to gain more control over your content stream. The market is quite saturated making it hard for a new user to pick which peice of hardware to pick up though thankfully many are inexpensive and you can actually afford to try more than one.  The news from Hack a Day this morning makes Chromecast a little more attractive, especially for those with a technical inclination and a love of rooting devices.  With a Teensy 2 or 2++ dev board, a USB OTG cable, a USB flash drive and just a few minutes you will be able to modify your DNS settings so you can watch geographically locked programming as well as load custom apps which might protect your ears from a certain type of torture.

chromecast.jpg

"Now the Chromecast has been rooted, allowing anyone to change the DNS settings (Netflix and Hulu users that want to watch content not available in their country rejoice), and loading custom apps for the Chromecast."

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Source: Hack a Day