Some of us have fond memories of turn based games

Subject: General Tech | January 4, 2012 - 01:44 PM |
Tagged: gaming, jagged alliance

Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN were lucky enough to get their hands on Jagged Alliance - Back in Business, a game that was on its way to surpassing Duke Nukem Forever's record for longest game in development.  The new incarnation of the beloved turn based squad combat game is, as many fans are aware, in real time with a pause button to allow you to issue commands.  On the other hand it seems that the game is exactly like JA2 in that RPS recognized every tree, fence hole and building from JA2 ... and those who played it through multiple times will likely recognize them too.  One of the biggest changes, at least for the version they played with, is the lack of fog of war; when you hit a map you can see every single enemy and their moves, even without line of site.  As it turns out the enemy AI is even dumber than you thought.  Check out the full preview here.

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"I’ve been playing an early version of Jagged Alliance – Back In Action, the upcoming remake of one of my most beloved games. I keep my copy of Jagged Alliance 2 atop a giant stack of Soldier of Fortune magazines, which stands between an ashtray containing a smouldering over-sized cigar, some satellite surveillance photos of a dictator’s villa, a few scattered dogtags (some with bulletholes through them) and a pile of empty shell casings. I don’t know why I keep a lot of that stuff but I guess it reminds me how much of a man I am. Can Back In Action do the same?"

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Intel giveth to the server room and taketh from the desktop

Subject: General Tech | January 4, 2012 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: Intel, cpu, core i3, core i5, core i7

As reported yesterday, there are quite a few new server chips arriving in 2012 but today the news is not so happy for bargain shoppers who were not planning on picking up an Ivy Bridge based system.  Intel will no longer be shipping out Core i5-661 & 660, Core i3-530, Pentium E5700 or Celeron E3500s and will stop producing them by the summer.  On the Sandybridge side six Core i7 models are being cut as are six Core i5 models.  As well the Pentium G960, Pentium E6600/E550 and Celeron E3300 will see their line end in the summer of 2012.  While this does make space for the new desktop processors Intel is releasing soon it means anyone planning on building a lower cost system with these parts should consider doing so soon.  DigiTimes lists all the models slated for retirement here.

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"To pave the way for the upcoming launch of 22nm Ivy Bridge processors in April 2012, Intel has notified its hardware partners of its schedule for stopping the supply or production of over 25 existing desktop CPU models, according to industry sources in Taiwan."

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Source: DigiTimes

Intel moves on the server room with 40 processors due for release

Subject: General Tech | January 3, 2012 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: Intel, server, cpu, Romley, Ivy Bridge-H2, xeon e3, xeon e5

The server room will be getting an update over the next year thanks to Intel releasing numerous CPU models based on different architectures.  First up comes Romley with a total of seven 8-core Xeons, a half dozen 6-core Xeons including both the E5-1660 and 1650 as well as the E5-2640 and relatives, five 4-core Xeons and a single dual core CPU.  That will take us until close to summer.  By then Intel will be working on eleven different Ivy Bridge-H2 series CPUs including the Xeon E3-1290v2 as well as seven more higher end processors including Xeon E5-2470, which will take us towards the end of 2012.

In addition to the regular lineup, DigiTimes also lists four low power Xeons which will arrive in 2012 including the 8-core Xeon E5-2650L.

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"Intel is set to launch 40 new processors including those for its upcoming Romley platform, in the first half of 2012 with the company to release 20 models each quarter, according to sources from server players."

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Source: DigiTimes

Proposed Internet Blackout Seeks To Convince Congress To Drop SOPA

Subject: General Tech | January 2, 2012 - 06:24 PM |
Tagged: terrible idea, tech, SOPA, Internet, bill

Let me say right off the bat, that personally I'm very much against the idea of SOPA due to how easily the system could be abused and the degree to which innovation would be stiffed all in the name of "stopping piracy." Fortunately, I'm not the only one against the Stopping Online Piracy Act, and many of the opponents include Internet giants Google, Facebook, Ebay, and Twitter.

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While money being paid to congressmen may speak louder than a few tech enthusiasts writing to voice their opposition, when no one is able to perform Google searches, update their Twitter, or check their Facebook you can bet that the thousands of Americans are going to go nuts and is surely to get the attention of the everyday-person.  And when those same sites show their users who to blame, people are going to react.  (Seriously, have you been around someone when their internet has gone out for a day and they haven't been able to get on Facebook!?).  According to CNET, various top Internet sites have an ace up their sleeve and are prepared to blackout their sites such that visitors will be greeted with censorship logos naming SOPA and the government for the lack of user content and users' social networking fix.

"When the home pages of Google.com, Amazon.com, Facebook.com, and their Internet allies simultaneously turn black with anti-censorship warnings that ask users to contact politicians about a vote in the U.S. Congress the next day on SOPA, you'll know they're finally serious" says Declan McCullagh.

If SOPA passes, there will effectively be no internet, so maybe it is time to institute some MAD (mutually assured destruction) by encouraging sites to go with, as Mr. McCullagh puts it, their nuclear option and motivate people to let Congress know just how bad of an idea SOPA is.  After all, if SOPA passes how would you get your YouTube laughs, or even more importantly your PCPer fix!?  Have you called your Congressmen yet (nudge, nudge)?

Source: CNET

Finally a trip to the Southern Isles; AMD's new HD 7970

Subject: General Tech | January 2, 2012 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: tahiti, HD 7970, 28nm, southern islands

With 2,048 stream processors, 3GB of GDDR5 memory, and DVI,  HDMI and a pair of mini-Displayport outputs the new HD 7970 can support six displays and might even have the power to do it well.  Internal reviews, which are to be taken with your daily allowance of NaCl, suggest a 70-90% jump in performance when compared to the previous generation of AMD GPUs.  This all comes at a cost however, with a ~$700 price tag being predicted for the base model and unfortunately that is likely what you will get.  Even though AMD opened up the specifications for their manufacturers, allowing them to set whatever clock speeds and cooling solutions they desired it seems that most companies opted to go with the reference model, at least for now.   The other cost is power; the new 28nm process allows extremely low powered idling but as the card requires both an 8 pin and a 6 pin PCIe power connector you can be assured the card will use a lot of power when going full out, especially if you utilize the automatic 33% overclock that is enabled by the Powertune application mentioned by The Inquirer in their article.

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"CHIP DESIGNER AMD has released the Radeon HD 7970 based on its Tahiti GPU chip.

AMD's Radeon HD 7970 is the first graphics board design based on its 28nm Southern Islands Tahiti GPU. The chip, which AMD claims has 4.3bn transistors, has been significantly changed from the previous Northern Islands generation Cayman Radeon HD 6970, has more on-chip cache and the firm claims it has greater overclocking headroom."

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Source: The Inquirer

Quickly -- before the credit card bills get in: Steam Encore

Subject: General Tech | January 1, 2012 - 08:24 PM |
Tagged: steam, Space Quest

The holidays are quickly coming to a close; like Times Square, I hope you had a ball. If you were unable to take advantage of the Steam deals as they occurred over the last two weeks, you are in luck: it is deja vu day. If you did not receive Batman, Skyrim, L.A. Noire, Saint’s Row, and various other PC titles in your stocking then this might just be the perfect time to snatch one or two up. Get saddled up for the long winter months until The Darkness 2 and Jeremy’s favorite: Syndicate, the first person shooter, are both released in February.

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But wait, there’s more! Oh, you need to wait for Steam servers... right.

What is this you tell me? You do your banking online and you need to pass?

How about a free smile instead? If you were once a fan of classic adventure titles such as those from Sierra -- you will likely enjoy spending a little time cleaning up space one overflown toilet at a time. Just a couple of days ago Space Quest II has been remade by Infamous Adventures as a free download on either the Mac or PC platforms. A few of the most hilarious deaths imaginable for free? Roger, wilco!

Source: Steam Store

Mozilla Starts Asking For Donations from Users

Subject: General Tech | December 30, 2011 - 11:42 AM |
Tagged: mozilla, firefox, donations, browser

Mozilla, the company behind the popular open source Firefox web browser recently struck a quite lucrative deal with Google for providing the big G with a default search box and google search start page.  Apparently, 900 million (over three years) is not enough for the company; however, as they have started asking for user donations of at least $10.

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According to their new story page, "We believe the Web is a place where anyone can come to build their dreams."  The non profit states in the accompanying video that they are more than just a web browser, they are a global community fighting to keep the web a good, innovative place.  And that, they argue is why they need your support; to make the web a "force for good by making a donation today."

Personally, this feels like a cross between late night PBS broadcasts as a kid and Wikipedia's pleas for donations.  Sure, if you are a big fan of Firefox it couldn't hurt to support them; however, I don't think they are going anywhere any time soon.  What are your thoughts on this as a user?

Source: Mozilla

Richard Huddy is now Intel Inside. Well I'll be d'AMD.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 28, 2011 - 05:04 PM |
Tagged: Intel

There are a few individuals in the video game industry who attract news articles when their employers change; Richard Huddy is one. Experience with 3DLabs and executive positions at NVIDIA and ATI/AMD firmly suggests that he is in touch with graphics processing. Huddy completes his tour of the current PC GPU triangle by signing on with Intel. Given said GPU background, it would be interesting to speculate what plans Intel has for their presence in the graphics market -- and some already are.

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Matrox… isn’t a part of that triangle…

KitGuru speculates that Intel realizes their attempts in developing graphics accelerators, such as Larrabee and their integrated GPUs, are lackluster; I personally believe that is a fairly safe speculation to make. Hiring the person who has dealt with developer relations throughout Europe for NVIDIA and worldwide for AMD would give you a good sense of what directions you need to be heading as a company. KitGuru also speculates that Intel desires to be placed in the consoles -- while developing a console GPU would be desirable for Intel as there would be no pressure to get huge numbers in random benchmarks, I doubt that is a core focus of Intel. If I was to speculate, and I am, my personal expectation would be to keep up with AMD and NVIDIA in the GPGPU war as well as tablet GPUs.

If you were to speculate: what do you think Intel’s motives are? Sane or crazy -- if it's legal, comment away!

Source: KitGuru

Atom cannibalizes our market! Move it to someone else’s!

Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 28, 2011 - 02:33 AM |
Tagged: intel atom, Intel, atom

Intel’s Atom processors were created as a tier below their Celeron product line. Netbooks, then running VIA Nano processors, have started to gain popularity since their introduction in late 2007. Intel’s Atom processors took the place of the VIA parts since that time. In 2009, Intel has stated that they have seen approximately twenty percent of their sales of notebook processors replaced with sales of their cheaper Atom processors. Intel still maintains the Atom processor line, but apparently with new goals in mind.

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Up and ATOM!!!

According to Digitimes, the demand for Intel’s Atom processors has declined recently. Intel, in response, decided to market that tier of parts to embedded and server customers for use in network-attached storage devices and very low-end servers. Intel is also rumored to have plans to shrink the process size of Atom in 2013 to 22nm and again shrink process size to 14nm in 2014. The upcoming 32nm Atom processor is expected by the second quarter of 2012.

Source: Digitimes

April Thunderbolts. Do they bring May flowers?

Subject: General Tech | December 27, 2011 - 03:49 PM |
Tagged: thunderbolt

A little standard known as Thunderbolt has made its way around the industry for its high bandwidths and promise of transporting data optically rather than electrically. Intel, the creator, eventually needed to drop optical communication from the spec with a return loosely planned but firmly believed. For the last year, Apple was the only source for Thunderbolt-capable computers; starting in April, several PC manufacturers are expected to participate in adopting Intel’s technology.

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Apple blossoms

Intel weighed in on the adoption of the standard in a statement to their partners.

To speed up the standardization of Thunderbolt, Intel is cooperating with Apple and Apple is the sole vendor currently to have PC products featuring Thunderbolt technology. As demand for the technology has seen obvious growth, Intel is ready to release the technology for public use.

While I am not too fond of the more proprietary platforms, several technologies await better external busses: high-speed storage and dockable processing accelerators such as external video cards are two very good examples. We will also at some point need to break free from electron transistor-based computing methods; optical integrated circuits based on photonic crystals appear to be a logical albeit distant next step. Advancements in optical bus technology for Thunderbolt, now, would be applicable for the advancement of that technology when it becomes ready, much later.

What would you do with a faster external bus? The crazier the prediction, the better.

Source: Digitimes