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Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 27, 2014 - 02:22 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: tablet, HP 7 Plus, hp, cheap tablet, cheap computer
Years ago, HP purchased Palm with the intention of producing tablets based on WebOS. After a very short time on the market, the company pulled the plug and liquidated their stock for $99. These tablets, of course, sold instantly. Now, HP has developed an Android tablet which actually intends to be sold at that $99 price point.
Called the HP 7 Plus, this tablet has a quad-core SoC from Allwinner Technology, based on the low-power ARM Cortex A7 architecture. This is the architecture that you often see paired with Cortex A15 cores in their "big.LITTLE" arrangement. Complementing this processor is 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, a microSD slot, 640x480 front-facing and 2MP rear-facing cameras, and about five (5) hours of battery life. It is capable of Miracast over WiFi, which is an impressive feature for its price.
The operating system is Android 4.2.2, Jelly Bean. While this is not the most recent distribution of Android, it should definitely serve users looking for an under-$100 tablet. Seriously, this space is huge and often a crap shoot in terms of reliability. If HP released a decent device, it could be a winner.
The HP 7 Plus is apparently available now, but out of stock, for $99.99. I do not know whether they already released and sold out immediately, or if it is still waiting on its first shipment.
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | May 26, 2014 - 09:19 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: mouse, laser mouse, gaming mouse, evga
It has been a while since I reviewed hardware and, when I did, they were all keyboards. Being a southpaw, it is fairly difficult to review higher-end mice. When offered to review the EVGA Torq X10 Gaming Mouse, I noticed that it is a (nearly) symmetric design with nine (9) buttons: five (5) on the top, two (2) on the left for right-handed thumbs, and two (2) more, identical buttons on the right for left-handed thumbs.
Of course, the off-hand buttons can still be used for time-insensitive commands, like pinging the map of a strategy game. Personally, I tend to rebind mouse sensitivity to the pinky-buttons and rebind what is usually meant for DPI adjustments to pinging maps or, on games like Battlefield: Bad Company 2, fly up and down (for the UAV).
A quick unboxing shows the underside of the mouse, an accessory pouch made out of paper with a getting started guide and what looks to be sticker-based grips, a plastic bag of weights, and that metal thing beside the mouse is a torx screwdriver. This screwdriver is what will be used to customize the palm angle by turning its adjustment at the rear of the mouse.
While I have not yet plugged it in, I did play around with its grip adjustment. You probably will not notice its effects unless you are looking for it, but it does result in significant changes to the touch. I will discuss this, and its other features, more in my upcoming full review.
As for pricing, EVGA is currently accepting pre-orders through Newegg. The base version is available for $49.99 (pre-order price, $99.99 MSRP) with a "carbon fiber" version, an identical mouse outside of the surface material, also on pre-order for $69.99 (pre-order price, $129.99 MSRP). It is unclear whether they will ever make it up to their MSRP but, if they do, an almost half-price pre-order (with a free mouse pad if you pre-order, register your mouse, and upload your invoice, apparently) is pretty gigantic.
It is expected to ship in a month (late June). I hope to have at least a preliminary review, if not a full one, up with time left for pre-orders.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 26, 2014 - 09:00 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: radeon, R9, R7, eyefinity, amd
AMD has just launched their Catalyst 14.6 Beta drivers for Windows and Linux. This driver will contain performance improvements for Watch Dogs, launching today in North America, and Murdered: Soul Suspect, which arrives next week. On Linux, the driver now supports Ubuntu 14.04 and its installation process has been upgraded for simplicity and user experience.
Unless performance improvements are more important to you, the biggest feature is the support for Eyefinity with mixed resolutions. With Catalyst 14.6, you no longer need a grid of identical monitors. One example use case, suggested by AMD, is a gamer who purchases an ultra-wide 2560x1080 monitor. They will be able to add a pair of 1080p monitors on either side to create a 6400x1080 viewing surface.
If the monitors are very mismatched, the driver will allow users to letterbox to the largest rectangle contained by every monitor, or "expand" to draw the largest possible rectangle (which will lead to some assets drawing outside of any monitor). A third mode, fill, behaves like Eyefinity currently does. I must give AMD a lot of credit for leaving the choice to the user.
Returning to performance with actual figures, AMD claims "up to" 25% increases in Watch Dogs at 1080p or 28% at 1600p, compared to the previous version. The new CrossFire profile also claims up to 99% scaling in that game, at 2560x1600 with 8x MSAA. Murdered: Soul Suspect will see "up to" 16% improvements on a single card, and "up to" 93% scaling. Each of these results were provided by AMD, which tested on Radeon R9 290X cards. If these CrossFire profiles (well, first, are indicative of actual performance, and) see 99% scaling across two cards, that is pretty remarkable.
A brief mention, AMD has also expanded their JPEG decoder to Kabini. Previously, it was available to Kaveri, as of Catalyst 14.1. This allows using the GPU to display images, with their test showing a series of images being processed in about half of the time. While not claimed by AMD, I expect that the GPU will also be more power-efficient (as the processor can go back to its idle state much quicker, despite activitating another component to do so). Ironically, the three images I used for this news post are encoded in PNG. You might find that amusing.
AMD Catalyst 14.6 Beta Drivers should be now available at their download site.
Subject: General Tech | May 26, 2014 - 02:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming mouse, corsair, Raptor M45, Vengeance M65, Vengeance M95
The Tech Report have put together several mouse reviews into a single video, giving you a chance to hear about their features while watching a little gaming action at the same time. The low cost Raptor M45 is shown fragging bots in every Frog's favourite FPS, as is the slightly more expensive Vengeance M65. However UT2K doesn't really have enough keybindings to show off the 15 buttons on the Vengeance M95 and so a popular game in which clicks per second count is shown off. Check out the video review and consider offering feedback on the YouTube channel if that content is something you'd like to see more of.
"For our first full-length video review, we take a look at several Corsair gaming mice, the FPS-focused Raptor M45 and Vengeance M65 and the RPG-ready Vengeance M95."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Logitech Proteus Core G502 Gaming Mouse @ kitguru
- entey Lumenata Pro Gaming Mouse @ Benchmark Reviews
- Logitech G502 Proteus Core Tunable Gaming Mouse @ NikKTech
- Bloody Technology ZL5A Sniper Gaming Mouse Review @ Madshrimps
- In Need of Polish: Sentey Nebulus Gaming Mouse Review @ Techgage
- Func MS-3 R.2 Gaming Mouse and Surface 1030 r2 Mouse Pad Review @ Legit Reviews
- Tt eSports Level 10 M Hybrid Gaming Mouse Review @HiTech Legion
- Mionix NAOS & AVIOR 7000 @ techPowerUp
- Ozone Neon Precision Laser Gaming Mouse @ eTeknix
- Sentey Crimson Pro Gaming Keyboard @ Benchmark Reviews
- Coolermaster Quickfire XT Mechanical Gaming Keyboard @ eTeknix
- Tt eSPORTS Poseidon Z Mechanical Gaming Keyboard @ NikKTech
- Rosewill's Striker RK-6000 mechanical keyboard @ The Tech Report
- CMStorm's QuickFire Rapid-i mechanical keyboard @ The Tech Report
- Thermaltake eSPORTS Poseidon Z Gaming Keyboard Review @ Modders-Inc
- Tt eSPORTS Poseidon (Brown) Keyboard Review @HiTech Legion
- Cooler Master CM Storm Trigger Z Gaming Keyboard Review @ Madshrimps
Subject: General Tech | May 26, 2014 - 12:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: google, virtualization, linux, container, Linux Containerization
Google creates two billion Linux containers a week which astute readers will realize implies that they can be created much more quickly than a VM. That is indeed the case, these Linux containers are very similar to Solaris Zones, BSD Jails and other similar ways of sharing parts of an OS across multiple isolated applications as opposed to VMs in which each machine has it's own OS. Even with prebuilt images it is orders of magnitude slower to create a VM than to simply create a new container. With the involvement of a startup called Docker, Google has really changed how they handle their systems; read about the impacts at The Register.
"That tech is called Linux Containerization, and is the latest in a long line of innovations meant to make it easier to package up applications and sling them around data centers. It's not a new approach – see Solaris Zones, BSD Jails, Parallels, and so on – but Google has managed to popularize it enough that a small cottage industry is forming around it."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Servo Stock, The Future Of 3D Printers @ Hack a Day
- Gigabyte, Asustek step up gaming notebook competition against MSI @ DigiTimes
- How to Sort and Remove Duplicate Photos in Linux @ Linux.com
- Is Emulation the Best Feature of the Nvidia Shield @ eTeknix
- Netgear R6300 802.11ac Smart Wi-Fi Router @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | May 26, 2014 - 01:27 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: steam, raptr, origin, blizzard
Raptr is a service for PC gamers to adjust graphics settings, earn loyalty rewards, and "powers" AMD's Gaming Evolved app, which adds driver updating and Twitch streaming to the previous list of features. It has a sizable user base, tens of millions internationally, which allows them to rank PC games by popularity. While it is not a perfect sample space, it tracks both Steam and non-Steam games. The leaders might make you say, "LoL, WoW!"
I am fully comfortable with myself after that pun.
As you can probably guess, League of Legends is the most popular PC title, with 14.5% market share (with respect to time). WoW and Diablo III are almost a tie for second-and-third at 8.56% and 8.53%, respectively. DOTA II is next at 5.81% and The Elder Scrolls Online is fifth, with 3.78% of all game time.
Surprisingly, the tail is pretty long after that. In fact, the entire Top 20 takes up just 63% of play time, with the 21st place and lower, by definition, having less than a 0.73% share. This is a slow decline, leaving room for theoretically fifty games with Skyrim-level popularity. Several games just below the list are probably very close to one another.
I should also note that, since this is based on time, it probably skews toward long and intensive titles. This probably explains Diablo III, MMOs, and Minecraft as those games are played for hours if they are played at all. This really puts Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and, to a lesser extent, Battlefield 4 into perspective, with their series of short rounds.
Off the list since March is Titanfall, Rust, and Path of Exile. The first two are fairly surprising. Titanfall just launched and, it would seem, has not kept its players gaming habitually. Rust, on the other hand, is surprising because it is popular and, to my understanding, typically involves long play sessions.
At the very least, it puts context around Steam vs. Battle.net vs. Wargaming.net vs. Origin.
Subject: General Tech | May 23, 2014 - 10:27 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: internet of things, security, Intel
Karen Lomas is Intel's director of the Internet of Things, from smart buildings to fridges and watched and she sat down to discuss the security of these devices and the future of ubiquitous computing. Intel expects that by 2020 there will be 26 billion internet connected devices and if we do not start to think about how to secure them now it will have serious repercussions in the future. There is a balance which needs to be struck so that consumers will not avoid using these devices because of security concerns nor because they are too restrictive to easily be used. As befits a Friday the discussion comes in video form.
"THE INQUIRER and Intel held an Internet of Things (IoT) event in London this week, where we sat down with IT professionals from a range of industry sectors to discuss how the growing thirst for internet-connected devices can be used in business, and how this should be done."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- CastAR and Holographic Print Preview for 3D Printers! @ Hack a Day
- Apple rolls out Safari update with critical security fixes @ The Inquirer
- Redmond won't fix IE 8 zero day, says 'harden up' instead @ The Register
- Graphics card demand drops in 2Q14 partly because of changes in Bitcoin ecosystem @ DigiTimes
- Top 10 Open Source Linux and Android SBCs @ Linux.com
- Forget phones, BlackBerry's new Project Ion is all about THINGS @ The Register/A>
- Samsung joining virtual reality race with Galaxy headset @ The Register
- The Internet of Things needs a security model to protect user data @ The Inquirer
- Intel extends incentives to boost development of Intel-based tablets @ DigiTimes
- What's that crunching noise? Lenovo running over rivals' bones @ The Register
- QuakeCon BYOC Seat Giveaway @ Modders-Inc
- Gigabyte Aorus Press-Event @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | May 22, 2014 - 03:42 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: Z97 Gaming 7, z97, xiaomi, video, tegra k1, tegra, SATA Express, podcast, msi, Intel, in win 901, Broadwell, asmedia, amd, 16nm
PC Perspective Podcast #301 - 05/22/2014
Join us this week as we discuss the IN WIN 901 Chassis, MSI Z97 Gaming 7 Motherboard, R9 Price Drops and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the 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 Maleventano
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | May 22, 2014 - 01:58 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: tegra k1, nvidia, iris pro, iris, Intel, hd 4000
The Chinese tech site, Evolife, acquired a few benchmarks for the Tegra K1. We do not know exactly where they got the system from, but we know that it has 4GB of RAM and 12 GB of storage. Of course, this is the version with four ARM Cortex-A15 cores (not the upcoming, 64-bit version based on Project Denver). On 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, it was capable of 25737 points, full system.
Image Credit: Evolife.cn
You might remember that our tests with an Intel Core i5-3317U (Ivy Bridge), back in September, achieved a score of 25630 on 3DMark Ice Storm. Of course, that was using the built-in Intel HD 4000 graphics, not a discrete solution, but it still kept up for gaming. This makes sense, though. Intel HD 4000 (GT2) graphics has a theoretical performance of 332.8 GFLOPs, while the Tegra K1 is rated at 364.8 GFLOPs. Earlier, we said that its theoretical performance is roughly on par with the GeForce 9600 GT, although the Tegra K1 supports newer APIs.
Of course, Intel has released better solutions with Haswell. Benchmarks show that Iris Pro is able to play Battlefield 4 on High settings, at 720p, with about 30FPS. The HD 4000 only gets about 12 FPS with the same configuration (and ~30 FPS on Low). This is not to compare Intel to NVIDIA's mobile part, but rather compare Tegra K1 to modern, mainstream laptops and desktops. It is getting fairly close, especially with the first wave of K1 tablets entering at the mid-$200 USD MSRP in China.
As a final note...
There was a time where Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, said that the difference between high-end and low-end PCs "is something like 100x". Scaling a single game between the two performance tiers would be next-to impossible. He noted that ten years earlier, that factor was more "10x".
Now, an original GeForce Titan is about 12x faster than the Tegra K1 and they support the same feature set. In other words, it is easier to develop a game for the PC and high-end tablet than it was to develop an PC game for high-end and low-end machines, back in 2008. PC Gaming is, once again, getting healthier.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 21, 2014 - 03:33 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: zotac, zbox
Zotac has announced the ZBOX Sphere OI520 in two forms. The Plus version comes with 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 500GB hard drive while the standard version leaves the choice (and installation) up to the user. At the very least, that means it is user-serviceable. Its real draw is its "orb form factor" with decent, albeit laptop, performing components.
The ZBOX OI520, from behind.
Its actual system specifications are:
- Intel Core i5 4200U
- Intel HD Graphics 4400 (GT2)
- HDMI and DisplayPort
- Wireless AC (802.11ac), Gigabit Ethernet, and Bluetooth 4.0
- 3x USB 2.0, 4x USB 3.0, SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC Card Reader
- Supports up to 16GB of RAM (2xDDR3L)
- Supports one 2.5-inch HDD/SSD
- Apparently, no OS pre-installed.
Pricing and availability are not yet announced. Obviously, that will be the biggest factor in someone looking for a barebones PC, like this one. Also, Intel graphics support on Linux is not the most pleasant, kind-of famously. Zotac claims full support for Windows 7 and Windows 8, of course, but you will probably need to factor that price in if that is the direction you want to go.
Subject: General Tech | May 21, 2014 - 02:27 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: wolfenstein, id tech 5, gaming
Wolfenstein: The New Order uses the much maligned id Tech 5 engine made infamous by RAGE, which leads many to ask if it will have the same issues. The negative similarities are certainly there, a 10GB Day 1 patch, serious issues with one vendor's cards and once you start playing the game the 'texture pop' that was evident in RAGE return to either annoy or be ignored depending on your preference and a 60fps cap. With that out of the way you can look at the specs you need to play this game, the most noticeable of which is that you have to have a 64-bit OS, 32-bit versions need not apply. The minimum hardware is also rather restrictive, you need a Core-i7 or equivalent top end AMD processor, lesser silicon need not apply, as well as a GeForce 460 or ATI Radeon HD 6850, and 50GB free space.
The good news is that there are graphical settings this time which you can tweak, overriding the engine's 60 fps fetish but never peaking above that ceiling. [H]ard|OCP tested a XFX Radeon R9 290X Double Dissipation and a GTX 780 Ti at 2560 x 1600 without an issue though when testing the 280X and GTX 770 at the same resolution they noticed that Ultra settings were removed from the options on the NVIDIA product while the 280X had no issues with Ultra at all. Read the full story for all the gritty details and the rather disappointing conclusion.
For real fun head to the Fragging Frogs servers for some gaming, find the schedule on our Gaming Forum and see if you have what it takes to knife O-Dog or Lenny! It might be a good idea to introduce yourself first though!
"Wolfenstein: The New Order is out on PC. It utilizes the id Tech 5 game engine and sports fast paced first-person shooter gameplay. We look at some video card performance, make some comparisons, and look at image quality as well. Can this game overcome the stigma associated with RAGE since its the same engine?"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Multiplayer Elite to debut on May 30th @ The Register
- Best Games to Play While Sitting on the Loo with Nvidia Shield @ eTeknix
- Between The Devils And The Deep: Sunless Sea @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Snow Joke: Far Cry 4 Goes Mountain High In November @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Take It To The Bridge: Flagship Is A First-Person Space RTS @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Firaxis On How Civ: Beyond Earth Really Isn’t Alpha Centauri @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech | May 21, 2014 - 12:06 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, Bald Eagle, embedded, hsa
AMD has just introduced their powerful new embedded chip called Bald Eagle. Depending on the model of processor you purchase you get two or four Steamroller CPU cores, and up to eight GCN GPU cores based on the HD 9000 series. That gives the higher end chips enough juice to power up to four independent 3D, 4K, or HD displays which you can bump up to nine if you include an embedded Radeon E8860 discrete GPU in your system. The cores are all fully HSA compliant and will support ECC and non-ECC DDR3 at speeds of up to 2133MHz as well as support for PCIe Gen3 x16, PCIe Gen2 2x4 and USB and SATA as well. Check out more at The Inquirer.
"Bald Eagle also enables heterogeneous system architecture (HSA), which first appeared in AMD chippery in its desktop Kaveri APUs this January, and which allows the CPU and GPU to share the same system memory, vastly simpifying the programming challenge of getting GPUs to shoulder the parallel-processing chores that they excel at far better then CPUs."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Windows Phone Live: Microsoft's plans for enterprise on mobile @ The Register
- NVIDIA On Ubuntu 14.04 Has Some New Advantages Over Windows 8.1 @ Phoronix
- Antec EU Joint Giveaway @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | May 20, 2014 - 10:36 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: microsoft, Surface Pro 3
Microsoft is continuing it's so far ill advised attempt at selling hardware with the release of the Surface Pro 3. The Pro version continues to run Win8.1 and so should not encounter the compatibility issues that the Surface RT presented but at an MSRP of $800 it is nowhere near as inexpensive either. The 800g tablet is powered by a Haswell Core i7 processor and the 12" 2160x1440 display sports a 3:2 aspect ratio which Microsoft points out offers 6% more viewable content. It is also fairly tough as it was dropped from about waist height in the demo without suffering any damage. The other nice feature is the optional docking station which allows you to plug in peripherals and use the Surface as a display, or use the docking port to output to a 4K display. Check out more about the Surface Pro 3 and it's "full-friction" multi-position hinge at The Tech Report.
"Microsoft has just spilled the beans on its Surface Pro 3 tablet, and the details are really quite interesting. The company has taken a fresh approach to the Surface Pro this time around, with a stated goal of "removing the conflict" between the tablet and laptop form factors."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- China says an emphatic 'no' to Windows 8 as it looks to Linux instead @ The Inquirer
- Intel primes market for silicon photonics to lift data centre interconnect speeds @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft outs Surface Pro 3 with 12in HD screen, Core i7 and Windows 8.1 @ The Inquirer
- IBM accidentally invents new class of polymers @ The Register
- AMD said to acquire SATA Express IP from ASMedia for next-generation platform @ DigiTimes
- 4 Excellent Alternative Graphical Linux File Managers @ Linux.com
- Hey, who wants a 40TB all-flash Pure box? I dunno, you got $160k? @ The Register
- Intel to achieve 80% of 2014 tablet AP shipment goal @ DigiTimes
- Free Software Foundation slams Mozilla's decision to adopt Adobe DRM @ The Inquirer
- Real, hovering SPEEDER BIKE can be YOURS for cheaper than a house @ The Inquirer
- Compro TN4230 Outdoor PoE IP Camera @ eTeknix
- Arc Attack Shows Off Tesla Backpack which is Certainly Not a Weapon @ Hack a Day
Subject: General Tech | May 19, 2014 - 01:02 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: direcTV, att, AT&T
That silly AT&T is now acquiring companies other than the ones they shed off during the 1974 antitrust lawsuit. This time, it intends to acquire DirecTV in a deal valued at $48.5 billion USD, in stock. All said and done, the total transaction is valued at $67.1 billion. Currently, DirecTV sits at a market cap of 42.77 billion USD and the stock is trading in the range of 84 to 85 dollars per share. In this deal, shareholders will receive $95 per share, about 30% in cash and 70% in AT&T stock.
Owning the globe... trademark.
The deal also claims to have several benefits for consumers. AT&T pledges to add 15 million customer locations, mostly rural, with fiber and wireless local loop (microwave). They also pledge to follow FCC's Open Internet Order from 2010, for at least three years after closing.
Three years of Net Neutrality, fun.
Seriously, none of that has anything to do with DirecTV and it should be enforced, anyway. It is nice that Net Neutrality has become a buzz word, mostly in terms of people becoming aware to it, but an action would be significantly more helpful. Remember that we, at PC Perspective, host our own video streaming service for our podcasts and live events. We rely on our traffic reaching our audience.
But, of course, none of that has anything to do with DirecTV either. It is possible that they could give concessions to help the acquisition go through and, honestly, I am not too against this purchase, if viewed in isolation. Let's just hope that, like their split-up compromise, they don't immediately start undoing it when they think no-one's watching.
Subject: General Tech | May 18, 2014 - 11:36 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: twitch.tv, youtube
Well... crap. It looks like the YouTube arm of Google is in talks to purchase Twitch. Variety, while not my first choice of source for these issues, claims that the deal is basically done, excluding regulatory involvement, and valued at $1 billion USD in cash. These details are apparently disputed, however, by sources which claim that a deal is in progress but is no-where near the stage that Variety reports.
For us, this will probably suck. It seems like Twitch is much easier to deal with than YouTube when it comes to copyright issues, at least from my observation point. Beyond that, it is doubtful that Google will leave the service as an independent entity. It would not surprise me if Google transitions existing Twitch streaming contracts to YouTube Live and slowly dissolves what is left.
Speaking of what is left, no source seems to be clear on whether this deal is for all of Twitch Interactive, including Justin.tv. The company was rebranded just recently, mid-February of this year, to "Twitch Interactive". Previously, it was known as "Justin.tv", after its older sibling website.
What does our audience think? Can any good come from this?
Subject: General Tech, Displays | May 18, 2014 - 12:19 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: oculus vr, Oculus, facebook, google glass
Who would have thought that John Carmack would have opened the flood gates of talent to Facebook. Apparently, not only was he the first in a long list of people to join Oculus, a large chunk of his coworkers at id Software followed him over (if a Glassdoor review is to be trusted) in Februrary. Their latest grab is Adrian Wong, former senior hardware engineer for Google's Glass Explorer program.
Didn't see that one coming...
Clearly, something is happening at Oculus VR. This acquisition by Facebook is giving them a warchest to grab as much top talent as possible. Ironically, without Oculus, I doubt that most of these hires, if any, would happen. Without knowing the internal structure of Facebook and Oculus, it is hard to predict how much benefit the parent company can gather, but the acquisition could be paying for itself in raw talent.
The Oculus Rift DK2, announced at GDC, is currently a $350.00 pre-order and expected to ship in August.
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | May 17, 2014 - 11:53 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: cooler master, V1200 platinum, PSU, modular psu
The Cooler Master V1200 Platinum power supply (PSU) is, as the name suggest, capable of delivering 1200 watts of power to your gaming PC, with a platinum 80 PLUS efficiency rating. At half load, which is probably its best-case scenario, this unit is 93% efficient. Cooler Master also says that it is backed by a 7-year "extended" warranty, although they do not clarify what is "extended" about it. If they just mean "really long" and it comes standard, without weird restrictions, then that is obviously a long guarantee.
The PSU is also fully modular and single rail. You can set it up such that the only cables coming off of it are ones that are in use, an obvious bonus for cable management. Also, being single-rail, the +12V can support loads of up to 100A. Users do not need to plan ahead and balance components across separate cables because they all draw from the same pool. Users with Haswell-based machines will also be able to use all C0-to-C7 power states, although it has been out long enough that it should not be an issue for anyone, anymore.
Pricing and availability is currently unknown and varies by region.
Subject: General Tech | May 17, 2014 - 11:29 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ea, offline, shutting down
Because of how popular it once was, the GameSpy shutdown will affect numerous titles, many of which have been up and running for over a decade. Several games have fallen back on GamesRanger or Steam to perpetuate support, while others are going to sleep for a very long time. EA claims that, despite trying to come up with a solution, several of their titles will go offline on June 30th.
At least this spy would never stab me in... the back... nevermind.
In the following list, I will omit entries which are not for the PC, Mac, or Linux.
- (PC/Mac) Battlefield 1942, and expansions.
- (PC) Battlefield 2, and expansions.
- (PC/Mac) Battlefield 2142, and expansions.
- (PC) Battlefield Vietnam
- (PC/Mac) Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, and expansions.
- (PC/Mac) Command and Conquer: Generals, and expansions.
- (PC/Mac) Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3
- I assume Red Alert 3: Uprising was not listed because it was not online... apparently?
- (PC) Crysis
- (PC) Crysis 2
- (PC) Crysis Wars
- (PC) EA Sports 06
- (PC) F1 2002
- (PC) Global Operations
- (PC) James Bond: Nightfire
- (PC) Master of Orion III
- (PC/Mac) Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, and expansions.
- (PC) NASCAR Sim Racing
- (PC) NASCAR Thunder 2003
- (PC) NASCAR Thunder 2004
- (PC) Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2
- (PC/Mac/Linux) Neverwinter Nights, and expansions.
- (PC/Mac) Neverwinter Nights 2
- (PC) Star Wars: Battlefront
- (PC) Star Wars: Battlefront 2
It is possible that titles which support directly joining an IP address might, in fact, continue to work. That said, it might not work for every title. At least it is something to try if you and a group of friends wish to get an organized match going.
The part that confuses me, however, is that GameSpy is going offline at the end of the month. Why then does EA, after being unable to find a workable solution, have an extra month of service? You would think that a solution to provide an extra month would work ad-infinitum, unless they have paid for GameSpy's servers to stay open a little longer for their titles. Then again, who am I to complain about an extra month?
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 17, 2014 - 01:07 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Lawsuit, google, apple
If we all could just get along and get back to work...
On Friday, May 16th, Apple and Google (including the remains of its Motorola Mobility division) released a joint statement marking the end of all patent litigation between the two companies. The two companies have been in legal warfare for three-and-a-half years, now. The two companies will also "work together in some areas of patent reform". It is unclear what that actually means.
This decision does not seem to affect Apple's ongoing litigation with Samsung. Those two companies are still in a famous and fierce skirmish over mankind's greatest UX innovations, like slide-to-unlock and the little bounce that happens when you scroll to the end of a list too fast. Those are, honestly, the issues that we are facing. I have a suggestion for an area to reform...
... but that has been beaten to death for years, now. It, at least, shows a willingness to cooperate going forward. It also shows a slight bit more promise for products like Ubuntu on phones, Firefox OS, and even smaller initiatives. You can say what you like about the current litigation, but closing the road for independent developers with great and innovative ideas is terrible and bad for society. Unique smartphones could be made, each with slide-to-unlock, just like unique OSes can use icons and web browsers can use tabs.
Subject: General Tech, Storage | May 16, 2014 - 11:47 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Pioneer, bluray
By layering eight layers of 32GB Blu-ray media, Pioneer has achieved 256GB worth of storage on a single-sided optical disc. If you are more interested in storage than labels, the company acknowledges the obvious extension to double-sided media with 512GB of capacity. They also leave the door open for 1TB and larger discs by extending their signaling method to more than twelve layers.
Image Credit: Wikipedia
It suffices to say that this is a lot of storage. If cost can be kept low enough, optical media could once again be viable for archival and backup. Once a drive is purchased, and USB 3.0 makes it trivial to purchase a single drive for multiple computers, a single disc could bit-for-bit copy a full SSD and other, more modern amounts of data. Basically, it is much less work backing up in 256GB chunks than 4.7GB or 25GB ones.
If cost can be kept low enough is a serious point, though. BD-Rs retail for about $50/1.3TB (according to a few Newegg searches) and DVD-Rs are around the same ($25/500GB). This is not too far from hard drive territory (~100$/2 TB). Of course, hard drives are also faster, rewritable, and do not need to be inserted into a drive for reading and writing... because they are one. People are transitioning away from optical media to hard drives. Cost would need to be phenomenal to reverse that momentum.
4K and UHD video content was not discussed but, let's face it, your mind went there, too.
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