It's getting crowded in the server room already and Qualcomm wants in

Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2015 - 12:16 PM |
Tagged: server, qualcomm

AMD and Intel have been fighting it out in the server room for a while and have had to shift their tactics towards more efficient processors which merely sip at power compared to the first decade of this century.  Coming from the other direction IBM and ARM design teams have been increasing the power of their chips and their ability to work together to match AMD and Intel's performance while still trying to maintain a lead on power efficiency.  Now, according to what DigiTimes has been hearing, Qualcomm is ready to take advantage of its ARM license to officially move into the server market.  Their initial design will sport 24 cores, provide support for VM environments and will be Linux compatible.  Keep an eye on Xilinx and Mellanox Technologies as they were the companies who have announced plans to release products based on Qualcomm's designs.

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"Qualcomm, which announced plans to begin developing ARM-based chips for servers in November 2014, has started delivering server-use CPU samples to potential clients and has also set up a company in Guizhou, China to promote the CPUs exclusively."

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Source: DigiTimes

New Valve Steam Controller Software and Factory Video

Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2015 - 08:37 AM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Controller

Valve updated the Steam Controller software, driven mostly by community feedback, statistics, and direct enhancements from lead users. This update allows users to bind media key inputs to the desktop so that the controller can adjust volume, play, pause, and skip when it is not being used to game. They also added context menus for hotkeys, so they can be accessible from the controller without each action taking up a whole button. It sounds like an analogy for the Q command rose in games like Battlefield, just in your input device drivers (and customizable).

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There were two other features that caught my eye. First, controller profiles will soon be sharable for non-Steam games (if you add them to your Steam library). This may or may not be useful for titles from Blizzard or Riot Games. Would sharing profiles really help these games be playable with a controller? Either way, there are certainly some titles that will benefit from this, especially those purchased on GoG. The other addition is “Controller HUD.” Basically, when enabled, it shows the pressed inputs on screen. It sounds like Valve intended this to be a debug mechanism for creating profiles, but it could be very useful for video streamers (especially speedrunners).

Lastly, and this is purely for entertainment value, Valve published a video of their factory. Someone decided that it would be hilarious to stick Aperture Laboratories on various machines. It's pure promotional fluff... but cool fluff.

Source: Valve

Logitech G Announces Arx Control Challenge for Developers

Subject: General Tech | December 10, 2015 - 08:47 PM |
Tagged: software development, logitech g, logitech, developers, contest

Logitech G has announced their Arx Control Challenge, a global contest for game developers to create the best Arx Control app with the chance to win $5,000 in cash and Logitech G gear.

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"Logitech G is looking for next-level innovators — skilled developers with a passion for gaming and creating. We are releasing the ARX Control Software Development Kit so you have the chance to invent on the cutting-edge. Give it your all and you could win cash, gear and acclaim.

The Challenge begins December 9, 2015. Submit your app before February 29, 2016 to put your creation in the running.

THE PRIZE IS YOURS, IF YOU CAN PROVE YOURSELF.

1st Place:

  • $5,000 USD cash prize
  • Professionally produced spotlight video for your app
  • Worldwide exposure on Logitech G’s global social media channels
  • Three full sets of Logitech G gaming gear

2nd and 3rd Place:

  • Worldwide exposure on Logitech G’s global social media channels
  • One full set of Logitech G gear"

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So what exactly is Arx Control?

"Arx Control is a new app from Logitech G that works with Logitech Gaming Software (LGS), giving you access to a wide range of in-game display information on your mobile device, including in-game intelligence, vital system performance statistics and media controls. 

The Logitech® G410 Atlas Spectrum TKL Mechanical Gaming Keyboard and the Logitech® G910 Orion Spark RGB Mechanical Keyboard both feature an adjustable dock that supports most iOS® and Android™ devices, providing easy access to your Arx Control data.

The Arx Control dock can also be pulled out and placed anywhere on your desk for easy viewing. Using Logitech G’s Arx Control SDK, game developers can create customized apps to deliver content special to their games.

Major developers like Valve Software are working with Logitech to take advantage of the ARX Development kit to create advanced integration for their most popular games."

The Arx Control challenge starts now and runs through Feb. 29, 2016. Complete rules and more information is available here.

Source: Logitech G

Wired and wireless together in some sort of Chimera-like mouse

Subject: General Tech | December 10, 2015 - 03:56 PM |
Tagged: IOGear, chimera m2, gaming mouse, wireless mouse, input

Yes, IOGear has merged wired and wireless connectivity into a strange hybrid of gaming mouse, the Chimera M2.  There are even two sensors, an optical for when you are connected via a wire and a low powered IR sensor for when you are not.  You get up to 2000DPI when plugged in and up to 1600 when you are in the so called 'office mode'.  Overclockers Club found the mouse comfortable in their hands and were impressed with the ~$40 price tag.  Check out the full review for more information and a peek at the trick that the charge has as well.

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"I also am not really a fan of wireless mice because I hate when things die on me, as I am too lazy to plug them in. But I have not recharged this mouse in the two weeks I have been using it, and I just went down to one battery light today. The plus is that if I do run low, I can plug directly into the mouse and charge while using it, so no worries there anymore. If I had to pick one quarrel with this mouse, it would not be the mouse itself, but the fact I don’t know what the battery lights are measured at."

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Update your AntiVirus software and you won't have to worry

Subject: General Tech | December 10, 2015 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: security, avg, Kaspersky, mcafee

To reverse the usual order, the good news is that AVG fixed the issue a while ago, as have Intel, owner of McAfee, as well as Kaspersky.  The bad news is that this exploit is rather nasty and was completely avoidable with a bit of forethought.  Of all the programs to follow a predictable pattern, AV software is the last one you would want to see do so.  There is a tool over at github to allow you to check your own vulnerability.  Personal machines should be good to go but as The Register mentions, at least one Enterprise level AV program is vulnerable and those definitions are often updated along a different path that consumer level products. 

Chances are you are safe, but you should probably double check.

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"In March, researchers at security firm enSilo found a serious flaw in popular free antivirus engine AVG Internet Security 2015. They found that the software was allocating memory for read, write, and execute (RWX) permissions in a predictable address that an attacker could use to inject code into a target system."

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Source: The Register

Humble Bundle for Neo Geo 25th Anniversary

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2015 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: snk, pc gaming, humble bundle

The Neo Geo was created by SNK as an arcade and commercial video game system. The hardware made its way into an (expensive) home console in 1990, with almost every arcade game available for it. This was back in an era where new arcade cabinets overshadowed consoles in quality. Granted, the Neo Geo doesn't quite fit in that pigeonhole, especially when you look at games at the end of its product cycle. Its draw, as an arcade cabinet, was its ability to store multiple games simultaneously.

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1990 is now 25 years ago, and Humble Bundle has a huge collection of their titles for the next handful of days. These franchises include Art of Fighting, Fatal Fury, King of Fighters, Metal Slug, Sengoku, and more. They are all PC ports, of course. While some titles haven't been announced yet, most of them are available DRM-free on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Web (Chrome and Firefox). The two (current) exceptions are The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match Final Edition and The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match, which are both Windows-only Steam keys.

The bundle lasts until Tuesday, December 22nd at 2pm EST (UTC - 5).

Now that's a Golf game!

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2015 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: gaming, no goblin, 100ft robot golf

Developers No Goblin have come up with a golf game that actually looks like a lot of fun to play and if Tiger Woods is in there somewhere he will end up smooshed under the foot of a 100' tall robot.   Instead of taking a pro golfer in funny pants you instead romp through the world as an incredibly destructive giant mech with a penchant for whacking everything around them, up to and including a golf ball.  Is there a skyscraper in the way of your shot?  No worries, wander over and smash it down before hitting the ball.  A competitor getting ahead of you?  Why not handicap them, in a rather literal sense!  Check out the video below or head over to Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for a link to the game page.

"100ft Robot Golf – there’s a fantastic game name for you. Pretty much everything it is can be deduced from that name. The second game from Roundabout folks No Goblin, it’ll see giant golfbots playing on – and smashing through – courses across cities, mountains, and moons."

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Sure ... it's the filesharing that takes up all the bandwidth

Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2015 - 12:43 PM |
Tagged: bandwidth, streaming, fud

The next time you hear someone harping about how the tubes are clogged with filesharing, either legal or illegal, as the reason why your internet is slow or dropping out you should reference this chart.  According to Sandvine, who would tend to know this sort of thing, just over 65% of all traffic is media streaming.  Chances are that the vast majority of that traffic is legal, coming from Netflix, YouTube, Spotify and the wide variety of other online content providers.  Indeed, chances are you pay to use that service so when your connection degrades and you contact your ISP about it make sure to have this handy as a reference. 

If those companies want to charge you for a service they should actually provide it and not try to blame their lack of infrastructure or insight on something else.  Unfortunately they will probably ignore the data and the only result of knowing this will be a sharp increase in your blood pressure.  Still, knowing is half the battle so head to re/code for a look at the charts they have compiled into this article.

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"Here’s the latest breakdown from broadband services company Sandvine of “fixed access” — for the purposes of this piece, read it as “home broadband” — Internet usage during peak evening hours. That big red bar in the middle is the one to focus on."

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Source: re/code

These 3 Systems Will Leave You Shocked...

Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2015 - 08:41 AM |
Tagged: system shock, pc gaming, otherside entertainment, night dive studios

Otherside Entertainment is a relatively new game studio, founded in 2014, that is working on a crowdfunded fantasy RPG called Underworld Ascendant. Apparently, they are also working on System Shock 3.

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Well, at least a teaser page says the words “System Shock 3” and has a copyright notice from Otherside Entertainment. I believe that it is fairly reasonable to jump to the aforementioned conclusion with the provided information. The rights to Systen Shock are currently in the hands of Night Dive Studios, which has been reviving old (~90s-era) PC games. They are also in the news for a few screenshots of the upcoming Turok and Turok 2 remaster.

One of the most interesting parts about all of this is that Otherside Entertainment was founded by the founder of Blue Sky Productions, later renamed Looking Glass Studios, who co-developed System Shock 2 with Irrational Games. More Looking Glass alumni than just the founder are at Otherside too, but I don't know how many were from that era and team.

WebGL Leaves "Preview" with Unity 5.3

Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2015 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: webgl, Unity

WebGL is a Web standard that allows issuing OpenGL ES 2.0-based instructions to compatible graphics cards, which is just about everything today. It has programmable vertex and fragment (pixel) shaders with a decent amount of flexibility. Engines like Unity have been looking toward using this technology as a compile target, because Web browsers are ubiquitous, relatively user friendly, and based on standards that anyone could implement should a work of art benefit from preservation.

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Image Credit: Mozilla

Until Unity 5.3, this feature was in “preview” levels of support. This upcoming release, scheduled for today according to their roadmap, drops this moniker. It is now a build target with official support.

To run WebGL applications that are built in Unity, the vast majority of features target recent versions of Firefox, Chrome, and Edge for Windows 10 Version 1511. (The November Update for Windows 10 added the ability to lock the mouse cursor, which is obviously useful for mouse and keyboard titles.)

We're still a long way from web browsers being equivalent to game consoles. That said, they are catching up fast. You could easily have an experience that shames the last generation, especially when WebGL 2 lands, and you don't have to worry about what happens in 10, 40, or even hundreds of years as long as society deems your art worthy for preservation. I do hope that some artists and serious developers take real advantage of it, though. Shovelware could obscure its power and confuse users, and we know they will be pretty much first out of the gate.

Source: Unity