Xamarin Acquired by Microsoft

Subject: General Tech | February 24, 2016 - 09:41 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, xamarin, Qt, .net, mono

Microsoft has purchased Xamarin, who currently maintain the Mono project.

This requires a little background. The .NET Framework was announced in 2000, and it quickly became one of the most popular structures to write native applications, especially simple ones. Apart from ASP.NET, which is designed for servers, support extended back to Windows 98, but it really defined applications throughout the Windows XP era. If you ever downloaded utilities that were mostly checkboxes and text elements, they were probably developed in .NET and programmed in C#.

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Today, Qt and Web are very popular choice for new applications, but .NET is keeping up.

The Mono project brought the .NET framework, along with its managed languages such as C#, to Linux, Mac, and also Windows because why not. Android and iOS versions exist from Xamarin, under the name Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android, but those are proprietary. Now that Microsoft has purchased Xamarin, it would seem like they now control the .NET-derived implementations on Android and iOS. The Mono project itself, as it exists for Linux, Mac, and Windows, are under open licenses, so (apart from Microsoft's patents that were around since day one) the framework could always be forked if the community dislikes the way it is developing. To visualize the scenario, think of when LibreOffice split from OpenOffice a little while after Oracle purchased Sun.

If they do split, however, it would likely be without iOS and Android components.

Source: Microsoft
Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Monoprice

It Begins

3D printing has been an interest of the staff here at PC Perspective for a few years now. Seeing how inexpensive it has gotten to build your own or buy an entry level 3D printer we were interested in doing some sort of content around 3D printing, but we weren't quite sure what to do.

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However, an idea arose after seeing Monoprice's new 3D printer offerings at this year's CES. What if we put Ryan, someone who has no idea how 3D printers actually work, in front of one of their entry level models and tell him to print something.

Late last week we received the Maker Select 3D printer from Monoprice, along with a box full of different types of filament and proceeded to live stream us attempting to make it all work.

And thus, the new series "Ryan 3D Prints" was born.

While I've had some limited 3d printing experience in the past, Ryan honestly went into this knowing virtually nothing about the process.

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The Maker Select printer isn't ready to print out of the box and requires a bit of assembly, with the setup time from unboxing to first print ultimately taking about 90 minutes for us on the stream. Keep in mind that we were going pretty slow and attempting to explain as best as we could as we went, so someone working by themselves could probably get up and running a bit quicker.

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I was extremely impressed with how quickly we were printing successful, and high-quality objects. Beyond having to take a second try at leveling the print bed, we ran into no issues during setup. 

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Monoprice includes a microSD card with 4 sample models you can print on the Maker Select, and we went ahead and printed an example of all of them. While I don't know at what resolution these models were sliced at, I am impressed with the quality considering the $350 price tag on the Maker Select.

This certainly isn't the end of our 3D printing experience. Our next steps involve taking this printer and hooking it up to a PC and attempting to print our own models with an application like Cura.

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Beyond that, we plan to compare different types of filament, take a look at the Dual Extruder Monoprice printer, and maybe even future offerings like the SLA printer they showed off at CES. Stay tuned to see what we end up making!

Corsair Releases VOID Surround Hybrid, White Wireless RGB Headsets

Subject: General Tech | February 23, 2016 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: wireless headset, VOID Wireless, VOID Surround, RGB, gaming headset, gaming headphones, Corsair VOID, corsair, 7.1 headset, 7.1 channel

Corsair has released a pair of gaming headsets in their VOID lineup, with the new VOID Surround Hybrid and a white version of the VOID Wireless RGB.

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The VOID Surround Hybrid Gaming Headset

"The VOID Surround Hybrid Stereo Gaming Headset brings Corsair’s most advanced gaming headset to the widest range of devices yet. VOID Surround’s mobile-compatible 3.5mm connector offers instant connectivity to virtually any audio source, as well as full headset capability with Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One (requires Xbox One Wireless Controller with a 3.5mm port or Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter)."

With the addition of a 3.5 mm analog input the Hybrid version of the VOID Surround can be used with virtually any device, though to experience surround effects the headset still needs to be connected via USB.

"For connection to a PC, VOID Surround includes a USB 7.1 Dolby headphone adapter, unlocking genuine Dolby Surround for deadly accurate positional audio, as well as a fully customizable EQ in the Corsair CUE (Corsair Utility Engine) software."

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The new white version of the VOID Wireless RGB headset

The new VOID Wireless RGB headset released is simply a new white color, so specs and features remain constant from the previous options. As to pricing, MSRPs for these headsets are $79.99 for the VOID Surround Hybrid, and $129.99 for the VOID Wireless RGB, making them more affordable than some of the competition at the high end of the market.

Here are the features and specs for both headsets from Corsair:

VOID Surround Gaming Headset Specifications

  • Genuine Dolby Headphone: Treat yourself to 7.1 channels of accurate and immersive surround
  • Universal Compatibility: The mobile-compatible connector works with PlayStation 4, Xbox One and mobile devices. The included USB Dolby 7.1 sound card unlocks genuine Dolby Surround for PC.
  • Embark on Marathon Gaming Sessions: Microfiber-wrapped memory foam ear pads enable extended play.
  • Unlock Legendary Audio: Oversized 50mm neodymium drivers bring the action to life with brilliant range and precision.
  • Crystal Clear Voice Communication:  The noise-canceling microphone on the VOID headset puts your voice in the spotlight—and nothing else
  • Microfiber/Memory Foam Earpads: Play in comfort for hours… and hours

VOID Wireless Dolby 7.1 RGB Gaming Headset – (White) Specifications

  • Legendary Audio, Zero Hassle:  2.4GHz wireless freedom up to 40 ft. + 16 hours of uninterrupted gaming
  • Epic Immersion and True Multi-Channel Audio: Genuine Dolby Headphone surround delivers lethally accurate 7.1 positional audio
  • RGB Lighting: Sync with other Corsair RGB devices—or light your own path
  • CUE Control: Instantly re-spec your gaming audio—EQ, Dolby and volume—with a single digital control.
  • InfoMic: Everything you need to know about your audio status—instantly.
  • Unlock Legendary Audio: Oversized 50mm neodymium drivers bring the action to life with brilliant range and precision
  • Microfiber/Memory Foam Earpads: Play in comfort for hours… and hours
  • Take Command: The advanced unidirectional noise-cancelling microphone makes you loud and clear

Corsair is also announcing a new feature for their Corsair Utility Engine software, called "VOID Visualizer": 

"Combining a digital Corsair VOID headset (VOID Wireless, USB or Surround) with any RGB-enabled keyboard (such as the K70 RGB or Strafe RGB) enables gamers to unleash a stunning multi-color graphic equalizer on their keyboard, turning it into a real-time display of the active audio or microphone signal. Compatible with VOID Surround, VOID RGB Wireless and VOID RGB USB headsets, VOID Visualizer can be enabled with just a few clicks in the Corsair Utility Engine."

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Amazon listings for the VOID Surround Hybrid and the white VOID Wireless RGB are already up, and both headsets should be available now wherever Corsair products are sold.

Source: Corsair

Survey Results on Mechanical Keyboard Preferences Released

Subject: General Tech | February 23, 2016 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: survey, mechanical keyboard, Go Mechanical Keyboard, gaming keyboard, Cherry MX

Keyboard enthusiast site Go Mechanical Keyboard recently conducted a reader survey to determine what their readers preferred in a mechanical keyboard, and the results (from 950 responses) provided some interesting data.

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The data (which the site has made available in its raw format here) includes results from favorite key switch to preferred form-factor, as well as brand and model preferences. The site created an impressive infographic to display the results, which is partially reproduced here. I'd recommend a visit to Go Mechanical Keyboard to see the full version, as well as links to prior year's surveys.

Getting to a few of the results, we'll start with the all-important mechanical key switches:

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Cherry MX Blue was the winner for favorite typing experience, with MX Brown switches actually winning both gaming and all-purpose categories. Of course, key switches are a very personal choice and these results are limited to the readers of one particular site, though that does not invalidate the results. The position of the MX Brown surprised me, as my impression had been it was less popular than a few of the other options out there. (I'm curious to see what our readers think!)

Next we'll look at the preferred form-factor (which is accompanied by a couple of other data points):

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Tenkeyless (TKL) slightly edges out the next highest result, which was the "60%" form-factor. Admittedly, I had not heard of this size prior to reading these results, and here's what I found from a quick search (I retrieved the following from the Deskthority Wiki):

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"60% keyboards omit the numeric keypad of a full-size keyboard, and the navigation cluster of a tenkeyless keyboard. The function key row is also removed; the escape key is consequently moved into the number row."

I'll skip ahead to the favorite overall keyboard results, which in no way could cause any disagreement or disparagement on the internet, right?

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The Vortex Poker 3 was the winner, a 60% keyboard (there's that form-factor again!) offered with a variety of MX switches. These keyboards run from about $129 - $139, depending on version. A model with Cherry MX Blue switches and white backlighting is listed on Amazon for $139.99, and versions with other key switches are also listed. The CM QuickFire Rapid, a tenkeyless design that sells for under $80 was second, followed by the Corsair K70, a standard 104-key design that sells for $129.

There was quite a bit more info on the full version of the infographic, and the source article (and site) is definately worth checking out if you're interested in mechanical keyboards. I'm curious to know what our readers prefer, too, so I'll be checking the comments!

Introduction

Gaming headsets are an ever-growing segment, with seemingly every hardware company offering their own take on this popular concept these days. Logitech is far from a new player in this space, with a number of headsets on the market over the years. Their most recent lineup included the top-end G930, and this headset has been superseded by the new G933 (wireless) and G633 (wired) models. We’ll take a look - and listen - in this review.

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With the new Artemis Spectrum headsets Logitech is introducing their new 40 mm Pro-G drivers, which the company says will offer high-fidelity sound:

"Patent pending advanced Pro-G audio drivers are made with hybrid mesh materials that provide the audiophile-like performance gaming fans have been demanding. From your favorite music to expansive game soundtracks, the Pro-G drivers deliver both clean and accurate highs as well as a deep rich bass that you would expect from premium headphones."

More than a pair of stereo headphones, of course, the Artemis Spectrum G933 and G633 feature (simulated) 7.1 channel surround via selectable Dolby or DTS Headphone:X technology. How convincing this effect might be is a focus of the review, and we will take a close look at audio performance.

While these two pairs of gaming headphones might look identical, the G933 differentiates itself from the G633 by offering 2.4 GHz wireless capability. Both headsets also feature two fully customizable RGB lighting zones, with 16.8 million colors controlled through the Logitech Gaming Software on your PC. But a computer isn't required to use these headsets; both the G933 and G633 are fully compatible with the XBox One and PlayStation 4, and with a 3.5 mm audio cable (included with both) they can be used as a stereo headset with just about anything including smartphones.

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Continue reading our review of the Logitech Artemis Spectrum G933/G633 headsets!!

Intel insists their clock is still running

Subject: General Tech | February 19, 2016 - 06:34 PM |
Tagged: Intel, delay, 10nm

Today Intel has insisted that the rumours of a further delay in their scheduled move to a 10nm process are greatly exaggerated.  They had originally hoped to make this move in the latter half of this year but difficulties in the design process moved that target into 2017.  They have assured The Inquirer and others that the speculation, based on information in a job vacancy posting, is inaccurate and that the they still plan on releasing processors built on a 10nm node by the end of next year.  You can still expect Kaby Lake before the end of the year and Intel also claims to have found promising techniques to shrink their processors below 10nm in the future,

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"INTEL HAS moved to quash speculation that its first 10nm chips could be pushed back even further than the second half of 2017, after already delaying them from this year."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Podcast #387 - ASUS PB328Q, Samsung 750 EVO SSD, the release of Vulkan and more!

Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2016 - 07:16 PM |
Tagged: x16 LTE, vulkan, video, ssd, Samsung, qualcomm, podcast, pb328q, opengl, nvidia, micron, Khronos, gtx 950, asus, apple, 840 evo, 750ti, 750 evo, 3d nand

PC Perspective Podcast #387 - 02/18/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the ASUS PB328Q, Samsung 750 EVO SSD, the release of Vulkan 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!

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

Program length: 1:34:18

  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:35:00 This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by Audible, the world's leading provider of audiobooks with more than 180,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature including fiction, nonfiction, and periodicals. For your free audiobook, go to audible.com/pcper
  3. News items of interest:
  4. 1:07:00 This episode of PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by Braintree. Even the best mobile app won’t work without the right payments API. That’s where the Braintree v.0 SDK comes in. One amazingly simple integration gives you every way to pay. Try out the sandbox and see for yourself at braintree­payments.com/pcper
  5. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  6. Closing/outro

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

Warren Spector Returns to Game Development

Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2016 - 07:15 PM |
Tagged: system shock, pc gaming, otherside entertainment, night dive studios

Warren Spector helped create several classic video games, including Wing Commander, Ultima, System Shock, Crusader, Thief, and Deus Ex. His most recent titles were Epic Mickey 1 and 2, which took the classic, mischievous Mickey Mouse and gave it fairly adult game mechanics. Following the release of Epic Mickey 2 in 2012, he departed from the games industry to teach at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Image Credit: His Twitter Avatar

Meanwhile, Otherside Entertainment was created from several Looking Glass Studios alumni. The company launched a crowd-funding campaign for a “spiritual successor” to Ultima Underworld, which they called Underworld Ascension. A year later, they announced that they purchased the rights to System Shock 3. It turns out that Warren Spector was interesting in joining this studio, because he just did yesterday (after being an adviser to them for years).

Yay!

According to his quote, via GamesIndustry.biz, he was lured by the opportunity to directly work on both titles. Warren Spector makes complex games, and adding his name to these revival projects should be exciting for those who miss the way PC gaming used to be. There really isn't much to say about this news; it's just promising to have one of the pioneers of PC gaming back in the industry.

A storage medium which will long outlast the readers and filesystem

Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2016 - 06:38 PM |
Tagged: laser, polarization vortex converter, voxel

Ever worry about long term storage of your valuable data but worry that tapes will rot, disks crash, flash die and optical media be cannibalized by the ink printed on them?  How about a process which should hold 360TB of data for 13.8 billion years at 190C and far longer at room temperatures?  Researchers in the UK have come up with a rather impressive technique for storing data for the long haul using lasers and optical media.  They are writing to fuzed quartz glass with femtosecond pulses of light to create three layers of voxels or an optical vortex if you prefer, which are created by the polarization of a vortex by firing that laser through nano-gratings.  Check out more at The Register.

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"Boffins in the UK’s Southampton University have devised a five-dimensional storage scheme using glass, femtolasers and a lifespan of billions of years, so they say."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Quantum Break Will Require Windows 10 (and DirectX 12)

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2016 - 11:47 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, pc gaming, DirectX 12

Last week, Microsoft announced that Quantum Break would arrive on the PC. At the same time, they listed the system requirements, which included the requirement of Windows 10. It will only be available on Windows 10 (outside of Xbox One). They also mentioned that the game would require DirectX 12, which made the issue more interesting. It wasn't that Microsoft was pushing their OS with first-party software, they were using an API that is only available in Windows 10, and it had the potential to make a better video game.

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Then they announced that it would only be available on Windows Store, which swings the pendulum back in the other direction. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

In all seriousness, we'll probably see games begin to deprecate DirectX 11 once DirectX 12 (or Vulkan) becomes ubiquitous. These new APIs significantly change how content is designed and submit to GPU(s), and do so in ways that seem difficult to scale back. Granted, I've talked to game developers and I've yet to have my suspicions validated, but it seems like the real benefit of the APIs will be when art and content can be created differently -- more objects, simpler objects, potentially splitting materials that are modified into separate instances, and so forth.

Quantum Break will come out on April 5th, along with a few other DX12-based titles.

Source: PC Gamer