Stories of Mel; a Portal 2 mod of decent length and better pricing

Subject: General Tech | July 1, 2015 - 03:49 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Portal 2, Stories of Mel

Stories of Mel is a Portal 2 mod which takes place between the two games, with a length that sounds similar to the original game.  There is new music, voice acting and even a redesigned Portal gun all available for free for owners of Portal 2 on Steam.  The embedded video below gives you a sense of the ambience you can expect from the game without giving away many hints as to the content.  If you already have the Portal games then head over to Steam to pick up the mod, which installs as a separate game and if you don't then you owe it to yourself to pay the ~$30 to pick up both games.  Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has links for Steam as well as the projects homepage if you want to show your thanks.

"Mel brings a new protagonist with a new companion sphere, boasting over 300 new voiced lines, an hour of original music, and 22 levels that its creators say may take anywhere from four to twelve hours to complete depending on how well you think with portals. It looks quite pretty. And it’s entirely free (if you own Portal 2, natch), available direct through Steam."

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WiFi Password sharing, a little known Windows Phone feature is about to hit the big time

Subject: General Tech | July 1, 2015 - 03:25 PM |
Tagged: Wi-Fi Sense, _optout, windows 10

Wi-Fi Sense has been a feature on phones running Windows 8.1, entering in your password on the phone would allow a computer logged in with the same Microsoft account to connect to your own wireless, with the password stored and encrypted on a Microsoft server.  It looks as though this feature will be available on all Windows 10 devices, sharing your wireless passwords with all of your Outlook, Skype and even Facebook contacts if you enable it.  This is certainly handy for when visiting as you will not need to ask for the wireless password at a friends house but does raise some security concerns.  If you happen to have Outlook contacts on your work machine which are not necessarily co-workers, they would be able to access your corporate network, as unfortunately would their contacts and even worse so could anyone who had compromised any of those accounts or machines.  The password is encrypted and not easy to access directly and the application does seem to limit access to WAN, somehow blocking access to the LAN even with proper credentials.  As The Register rightly points out, if a password is the totality of your access management protocols, you are already doing it wrong but this is something all users should be aware of.

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"A Windows 10 feature, Wi-Fi Sense, smells like a security risk: it shares Wi-Fi passwords with the user's contacts."

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Source: The Register

A new type of switch on the Matias Tactile Pro

Subject: General Tech | June 30, 2015 - 03:56 PM |
Tagged: input, matias, tactile pro 4

The Matias Tactile Pro is made by a mysterious entity called The Keyboard Company but is branded as Matias.  It uses their own type of switches which they mention are ALPS inspired and MadShrimps found them to be almost as loud as a typewriter but without the ringing noise present in their previous switches.  This is a working keyboard as opposed to a gaming keyboard, worth looking at if you spend a lot of time typing or if you have a close office neighbour you want to drive insane.

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"The Keyboard Company has just started to bring in the Matias Tactile Pro and has lots of stock for potential enthusiast buyers. The newer v4 version is featuring re-engineered Matias Click switches compared to v3 and are meant to eliminate the ringing sound of the previous Fukka."

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Source: Mad Shrimps

A fun day in the world of fibre connectivity

Subject: General Tech | June 30, 2015 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: fibre optics

Two records were recently made with fibre optic connections, one for speed and one for length.  Researchers at Huawei and Proximus, who operate out of Belgium, recently transmitted data over a 1,040km fiber link at 1.4Tbps using Proximus' optical backbone.  Even more impressive for the network geeks out there was the spectral efficiency of the transmission, at 5.7 bits per second per Hertz, a new record for these researchers to be proud of.

Not to be out done, and putting Ryan's Ethernet run to shame, is a link that spanned 12,000 km (7,456 miles) without a repeater.  Certainly not at the speeds in the aforementioned link but a huge step in extending the reach of fibre based networks without the problems associated with simply increasing the strength of the signal.

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"Proximus and Huawei have successfully trialled a super-channel optical signal, flinging out information at up to one terabit per second (Tbps)."

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Source: The Register

Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging

Lexar is Micron’s brand covering SD Cards, microSD Cards, USB flash drives, and card readers. Their card readers are known for being able to push high in the various speed grades, typically allowing transfers (for capable SD cards) much faster than what a typical built-in laptop or PC SD card reader is capable of. Today we will take a look at the Lexar ‘Professional Workflow’ line of flash memory connectivity options from Lexar.

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This is essentially a four-bay hub device that can accept various card readers or other types of devices (a USB flash storage device as opposed to just a reader, for example). The available readers range from SD to CF to Professional Grade CFast cards capable of over 500 MB/sec.

We will be looking at the following items today:

  • Professional Workflow HR2
    • Four-bay Thunderbolt™ 2/USB 3.0 reader and storage drive hub
  • Professional Workflow UR1
    • Three-slot microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-I USB 3.0 reader
  • Professional Workflow SR1
    • SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-I USB 3.0 reader
  • Professional Workflow CFR1
    • CompactFlash® USB 3.0 reader
  • Professional Workflow DD256
    • 256GB USB 3.0 Storage Drive

Note that since we were sampled these items, Lexar has begun shipping a newer version of the SR1. The SR2 is a SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II USB 3.0 reader. Since we had no UHS-II SD cards available to test, this difference would not impact any of our testing speed results. There is also an HR1 model which has only USB 3.0 support and no Thunderbolt, coming in at a significantly lower cost when compared with the HR2 (more on that later).

Continue reading for our review of all of the above!

Samsung Publishes Battery Enhancement Tech with Silicon

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 26, 2015 - 04:53 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, battery

When I was in my Physics program, there was a running joke that the word “Nano” should be a red flag when reading research papers. This one has graphene and nanoparticles, but it lacks quantum dots and it looks privately funded by a company, so we might be good. Kidding aside, while I have little experience with battery technology, they claim to have surrounded silicon anodes for lithium batteries with a layer of graphene.

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Image Credit: Samsung via Nature

This addition of graphene is said to counteract an issue where silicon expands as it is used and recharged. The paper, which again is the first source that I have seen discuss this issue, says that other attempts at using silicon adds vacant space around the anode for future growth. If you can keep the material at the same volume over its lifespan, you will be able to store more electricity in smaller devices. I wonder why Samsung would want something like that...

Source: Nature

Windows Hololens is headed to space

Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2015 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, hololens

The new Windows Hololens will be headed to the ISS to let the NASA ground crew see through the eyes of astronauts onboard and even to annotate the view in real time.  Instead of using cameras and audio instructions, an astronaut could look at a peice of equipment and the engineer on the ground could overlay a visual of what repairs or changes would need to be completed, or text annotations giving details of the equipment.  One can only hope that the public might one day get a chance to see the ISS through the eyes of someone onboard.  The Inquirer also mentions several other projects the Hololens will be used in, from virtual tours of Mars to use in an underwater training facility to make the illusion of being in orbit even more convincing and valuable as training for future astronauts.  These devices will be wonderful for gaming but there are many other applications that they will be used for.

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"Early demonstrations of Hololens included scenarios involving NASA researchers walking virtually on the surface of Mars through a sister project called OnSight, but now the idea has been extended to real-life interaction with ISS astronauts."

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Source: The Inquirer

Podcast #355 - AMD R9 Fury X, Sapphire Nitro R9 390, Batman: Arkham Knight and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 25, 2015 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, fury x, Fury, Fiji, nvidia, gtx 980ti, maxwell, gm200, batman, arkham knight, gameworks, r9 390, sapphire, nitro, Intel, Braswell, Cherry Trail, Lenovo, thinkcentre

PC Perspective Podcast #355 - 06/25/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the AMD R9 Fury X, Sapphire Nitro R9 390, Batman: Arkham Knight 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
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  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Sebastian Peak, and Allyn Malventano

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

The rumours of ECS's withdrawl were greatly exaggerated

Subject: General Tech | June 25, 2015 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: msi, rumour

In response to the news yesterday that ECS would be withdrawing from the DIY motherboard market, Sunny Yang, President of ECS released a statement denying any accuracy to that rumour.  He cites their participation in Computex where they showed off some of their new LEET gaming motherboard in addition to the LIVA mini-PC which received far more attention from the press.  They will still have a lot of struggling to do to take market from ASRock, Gigabyte and ASUS, not to mention MSI.  Here is to hoping their new products stand out and that their Dragon gaming Ethernet solution really does help with latency.

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Source: ECS

Warner Bros. Suspends Arkham Knight PC Sales

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | June 24, 2015 - 10:10 PM |
Tagged: batman, wb games, consolitis, gameworks, pc gaming, nvidia, amd

Over the last few days, the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight has been receiving a lot of flak. Sites like PC Gamer were unable to review the game because they allege that Warner Brothers would not provide pre-release copies to journalists except for the PS4 version. This is often met with cynicism that can be akin to throwing darts in an unlit room with the assumption that a dartboard is in there somewhere. Other times, it is validated.

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Whether or not the lack of PC review copies was related, the consensus is that Arkham Knight is a broken game. After posting a troubleshooting guide on the forums to help users choose the appropriate settings, WB Games has pulled the plug and suspended the game's sales on Steam until the issues are patched.

TotalBiscuit weighs in on the issues with his latest "Port Report".

No-one seems to be talking about what the issue is. Fortunately or unfortunately, I don't have the game myself so I cannot look and speculate based on debug information (which they probably disabled from the released game anyway). I could wildly speculate about DX11 limits from the number of elements on screen, but that is not based on any actual numbers. They could be really good at instancing and other tricks to keep the chunks of work being sent to the GPU as large as possible. I don't know. Whatever the issue is, it sounds pretty bad.

Source: WB Games