A week or so as a Witcher

Subject: General Tech | June 10, 2015 - 03:44 PM |
Tagged: gaming, The Witcher 3, CD Projekt RED

Techgage has spent a while in the open world of The Witcher 3 and are ready to share their experiences.  The open world is very open, you will find yourself wandering into areas you are not ready for without warning and at 50 hours in the reviewer is still seeing the occasional tutorial pop-up so they are nowhere near finishing.  You may find yourself abandoning a quest to do other side quests in order to become powerful enough to survive the encounter with the boss at the end of the quest you originally intended to do.  That is the heart and soul of a truly open game, which CD Projekt RED seem to have mastered.  Check out their review right here.

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"This land is deep in darkness, words do little to describe the hell that has befallen. War, pillaging, oppression, greed, politics and scandals. We are beyond the petty battles of good and evil, for all have monsters living within. With the stench of deceit in the air, what this world needs, is a Witcher."

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Source: Techgage

Now that's a Surface you can get excited about

Subject: General Tech | June 10, 2015 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: surface hub, microsoft

The Microsoft Surface that we were promised ages ago is finally being released in the form of the Surface Hub.  Two models will be available for pre-order at the start of July, a $7000 55" model and a $20,000 84" version with a delivery date in September.  The screens can recognize up to 100 touchpoints and are also designed with a stylus in mind so you can use it as a whiteboard or to add comments to your media in real time.  The device sports infrared, imaging and depth sensors which can be used to add to your meetings.  The smaller model is powered by Intel's HD4600 while the larger model contains an NVIDIA Quadro K2200.  Check it out at The Inquirer.

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"MICROSOFT HAS ANNOUNCED that an 84in Surface device will go on sale next month at the bargain price of $20,000. Microsoft announced the Surface Hub 55in and 84in touchscreen all-in-one devices in January, and said today that they will be available to order from 1 July."

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Source: The Inquirer

Need a little high end audio? Check out HiFiMAN's EF100 DAC and Amp

Subject: General Tech | June 9, 2015 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: audio, hifiman, EF100, DAC, tube

Just the look of the EF100 DAC from HiFiMAN gives you the notion that this is not an entry level peice of audio equipment, it is aimed at those who desire near studio quality audio but who lack the means to rent studio time or buy professional level equipment.  The $500 price tag is steep but you get what you pay for, a tube driven amplifier with C-Media CM102s inside with two analogue inputs, a mini-jack and RCA inputs. If this sounds like something you might need in your life check out TechPowerUp's review right here.

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"HiFiMAN has a reputation for producing great headphone amplifiers. Today, we take a look at their newest do-it-all headphone amplifier & DAC combo with an on-board T-amp. This all-encompassing device features a class A/B headphone amplifier with a tube input stage. Despite all its features, it sells for $499, which is quite impressive."

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Source: techPowerUp

Do you like WINE?

Subject: General Tech | June 9, 2015 - 03:57 PM |
Tagged: wine, linux

There is a tool that will be familiar to regular Linux users but perhaps not to those who have yet to spend time with the open source OS which is called WINE.  It was originally developed to run a limited selection of Windows applications in Linux but has since grown to support 22419 applications as of today.  If you want to try Linux especially if you feel limited by the amount of Steam games supported then you should check out the tutorial at Linux.com.  The hardware requirements for Ubuntu and WINE are very low, this is a perfect opportunity to get some old hardware up and running and give Linux a shot, while still being able to use most of the Windows applications you are used to.

On the other hand if you are familiar with Linux, you knew all this already.

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"To overcome this weakness, a compatibility layer called WINE was created. The name originally stood for Wine Is Not an Emulator (because everyone mistook the tool for a Windows emulator). The name is now simply Wine."

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Source: Linux.com

Skype for Web Beta in the US and UK

Subject: General Tech | June 8, 2015 - 01:48 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, skype

If you are on the go and need to make a Skype call from a machine you cannot install software on and your mobile device is out of juice or just not big enough, there is a new beta you can try out in the US and UK.  Head over to Skype.com or web.skype.com and log into your account, install a plug-in for the supported browsers which are IE, Chrome, Safari and Firefox and make your call.  The beta will be coming to everyone soon, a good idea since most usage scenarios would likely involve travellers calling home and you can check out the link to the blog post at The Register.

In addition The Inquirer let us know that the Skype for Windows desktop client will be updated to include the real time translation tool for all users.  The release may possibly coincide with the upcoming release of Windows 10, whether that OS will be ready or not is a different question.

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"Microsoft has released a beta web browser version of Skype in the US and UK, which will apparently be rolled out worldwide within the next few weeks."

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Source: The Register

Microsoft Will Support OpenSSH In Windows PowerShell

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2015 - 08:35 PM |
Tagged: windows, remote management, powershell, openssh, mac os x, linux

Citing both leadership and corporate cultural changes within Microsoft, the PowerShell team – led by Team Group Software Engineering Manager Angel Calvo – excitedly announced support for OpenSSH earlier this week. Specifically, the team (finally, after the third such attempt) got the go-ahead from Microsoft's leadership and plans are underway to natively support OpenSSH in PowerShell as well as to contribute to the OpenBSD project on behalf of Microsoft.

Details are scarce, but this is great news for system administrators and a nice extra feature for enthusiasts that like to dabble in those "other" operating systems (which is to say, pretty much every OS except Windows) and remotely access them over a secure SSH connection to perform maintenance or transfer files.

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Currently, Windows users need to use third party tools to support SSH clients and servers such as PuTTY (and PSCP) and Cygwin (not pictured).

Until now, users have had to rely on third party tools such as PuTTY, Filezilla, and Cygwin among others for their SSH, SCP, and SFTP needs. Accessing Linux machines using PuTTY is fairly straightforward, but going the other direction and trying to set it up so that you can access a Windows machine from a Linux machine over SSH could certainly be made easier and more stable. Native support for OpenSSH would mean both client and server support built into Windows and support for SSH, SFTP, and SCP protocols. 

From the MSDN blog and this twitter exchange, OpenSSH in Windows PowerShell is still in its infancy. It will not be launching with the rest of Windows 10 on July 29th, but with the level of customer interest hopefully pushing the refreshed Microsoft to make this a priority we may see it within the next year or two, and certainly before Windows 11!

Are you ready to get your native SSH on using PowerShell, or will you be sticking with your current third party implementations?

Source: Microsoft

Computex 2015: PowerColor Debuts Devil HDX Sound Card

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 6, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: sound card, powercolor, devil hdx, computex

PowerColor is best known as an add-in board (AIB) partner of AMD who has also branched out into cases and power supplies. This year, they have introduced a new product category: sound cards. The PowerColor Devil HDX connects via PCIe and can take up one or two slots, depending on whether the user wants to install its included (!!) daughterboard with analog (4 x 3.5mm) surround outputs and a microphone input. Without the daughterboard, the card has a quarter-inch headphone jack, two analog RCA jacks for stereo, an RCA SPDIF output, and an optical SPDIF output. The main card is covered in a full EMF shield, because it's inside a computer.

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The card includes switchable OP-AMPs, high quality capacitors, a Cmedia CM8888 audio processor, and a Wolfson WM8741 DAC. This configuration is capable of driving headphones with up to 600 Ohm impedance. The signal-to-noise ratio is a little better on the RCA jacks, because they're not amplified, but not by much. The RCA jacks are rated at 124 dB SNR, while the headphones are rated at 120 dB SNR with the supplied OP-AMPs. PowerColor wrote a driver interface, called “Xear”, which includes ASIO 2.2 support.

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The PowerColor Devil HDX doesn't have a release date but Tom's Hardware, who spoke with the company, said it should be “over the coming months”. They also said it will retail for $159, which is apparently $50 less than their competition.

Source: PowerColor

Valve Steam Controller Pre-order Is Dated... Twice.

Subject: General Tech, Systems | June 5, 2015 - 04:22 PM |
Tagged: valve, steam link, Steam Controller, steam

So, if a company says “a limited quantity of orders will be shipped on October 16th, weeks in advance of our official launch”... does that mean October 16th is its release date? What about its official launch date of November 10th? Also, why am I trying to make sense of time when the subject is Valve?

Either way, the new Steam Controller has been put up for pre-order and given a release date. The input device will sell for $50 USD, $59.99 CDN, or £40 GBP depending obviously on where you are. It also has a finalized design that is very similar to the Xbox layout, with thumbpads replacing the d-pad and right analog stick. Going to the device's Steam page will send you to a gaming retailer to make the pre-order (wat???). I get EB Games, because I'm Canadian, while Americans get GameStop, which is the same company anyway.

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Unlike previous Steam Controller designs, the left thumbpad is shaped like a cross, which I would like to see used as a d-pad because most PC controllers that I've used are either terrible at it, or are horrible at everything else. The video also uses the left thumbpad as a scroll mechanism, but I wonder what other functionality Valve allows because I have yet to find a single mouse driver that can do everything. For instance, Razer's is unable to record mouse scroll (up, down, left, or right) events in macros.

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The rear of the controller is very interesting. The main trigger is analog up to the end, which is a tactile switch. These can be bound to independent actions, although you will obviously need to have the maximum analog command play well with the click command. The given possibility is for first person shooters where you use the analog part to bring up your iron sights while you fire with the click. I could also imagine a racing game where the throttle is analog and clicking at the end activates a boost. There are also buttons in the grips for your ring and pink finger to activate. It also looks like there's shoulder buttons above the triggers, but I can't quite tell. This would basically yield six shoulder buttons, along with all of the face inputs, which is about the max that I could imagine.

The official launch is November 10th, but a pre-release run is shipping on October 16th. The Steam Link is supposedly also available at the same time for the same price, which is basically a streaming target for Steam on the TV.

Source: Valve

Windows 10 Build 10130 Coming to Slow Ring

Subject: General Tech | June 4, 2015 - 07:40 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows 10

Gabe Aul said on Twitter that Microsoft will release Windows 10 Build 10130 to members of the Insider Preview Slow Ring. He did not give a date, but noted that just one blocking fix is preventing the release. This build was released to Fast Ring users last week and had three known issues. Since then, two were patched via Windows Update, leaving just “Flyouts from Taskbar fail to fly out.” Presumably, this is the issue that they are hoping to fix before pushing the build to Slow.

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When the update is released to Slow Ring, it is accompanied by ISOs that can be used to clean-install a PC up to that point. While this delay is to force a segment of users to test the in-place upgrade functionality, I expect this also keeps enterprise evaluators on builds that are more polished. Installing Windows from an ISO might not convey the quality-difference of any two neighboring builds like selecting branches in Windows Update would subconsciously portray.

Microsoft seems to be at the merge and polish stage of Windows 10 development. Builds should start feeling more clean than new as the days roll forward toward July 29th. Major new features are probably going to be done in branches for later releases, similar to what we would consider “service packs”. That's just my assumptions, though.

Hacking an Oculus Rift for AR assisted repairs

Subject: General Tech | June 4, 2015 - 04:30 PM |
Tagged: oculus rift, linux, edison, AirOS

What do you get when you cross some bright young minds, Linux, an Oculus Rift, Leap Motion's gesture controller, a camera, as well as an Intel Edison board with an Arduino breakout board and Grove sensor?  You get second place in a NASA hackathon and an device which uses AR to help technicians locate a piece of equipment in need of repair and project instructions on how to do the repairs over top of their line of site, leaving hands free to actually perform the repair.  The usage scenarios seem similar to Epson's 3D glasses which we discussed a few weeks ago, though this team envisions another ability that their use of the Grove sensor provides.   The sensor can resolve light down to the 760-1100 nm range, meaning that with proper tools and interface a technician could perform extremely delicate repairs visually.  Check out more at Linux.com.

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"At the NASA Space App Challenge hackathon in April, Team AirOS won second place at the San Francisco event with an augmented reality (AR) headgear system that included a Linux-driven Intel Edison module hooked to an Oculus Rift."

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Source: Linux.com