Excited about an interview with the developers of the XCOM reboot? Your age is showing

Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2011 - 11:58 AM |
Tagged: xcom, gaming, 2k games

With great fear and much hope, many of the 30+ gamers are awaiting 2K Games' reboot of the XCOM game.  The fear comes for the game being a first person shooter in the style of Mass Effect and not the proper turn based strategy game it once was.  However the developer that Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN interviewed, Jonathan Pelling, described a story line of invasion and alienation which might lend a different kind of depth to the series, something that has been lacking from more recent versions like UFO:Aftermath.  The trailer also implies that research will be important to the game, as you start to reverse-engineer alien technology, but let us hope it is more indepth than a scientist handing you a new gun before a mission.

In case you don't feel old enough remembering the original XCOM, RPS also points out that "The Might & Magic series is twenty-five years old."

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"Recently we had a chance to look at 2K’s intriguing reboot of XCOM – and a full XCOM preview is coming up soon – but first there’s an interview which explains a bit about the world, and the intention to tell a story about the origin of the XCOM alien invasion in the setting of 1960s America.

In the depths of a bunker packed with strange humanoids that communicated almost entirely using the words “like”, “totally” and “hella” we spoke to something that claimed to be Jonathan Pelling, Creative Director at 2K Marin, developers of XCOM. Here’s what he had to say…"

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Llano's dance card is available, pick a date with your favourite new AMD APU tomorrow

Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2011 - 11:29 AM |
Tagged: x79, release, llano, Intel, brazos, APU, amd

DigiTimes has announced that the 32nm Llano we've all be waiting for will be arriving tomorrow with the A75 chipset in tow.  A pair of A8s and a pair of A6's should be available for you over the next few weeks, with a refresh of less powerful A4 APUs set for the Fall/Winter of 2011.  The last quarter will also see AMD flesh out their lineups of A8 and A6 CPUs and the first arrival of the E-series for their Brazos platform. 

You'll have to wait a while longer for Scorpius, it is not scheduled to hit until the beginning of 2012, which means Intel's X79 chipset will be out along with a few new i3 and i5 models and even a new Celeron.

 

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"CPU maker AMD is set to announce its latest 32nm A series APU codenamed Llano on June 30 with motherboard makers including Asustek Computer, Gigabyte Technology and Micro-Star International (MSI) all having announced products based on AMD's A75 chipset, according to sources from motherboard players.

In early July, AMD will initially supply its FM1-based A8-3850, A8-3800, A6-3650 and A6-3600 APUs with A6-3500, A4-3400, A4-3300, A8-3870, A8-3820, A6-3670 and A6-3620 APUs set for launch in the fourth quarter along with E2-3200. In September, AMD will also announce E-450 and E300 for its Brazos platform.

For the high-end Scorpius platform, AMD will announce the AM3+-based FX-8150, FX8100, FX6100 and FX4100 by the end of September with FX8170, FX8120, FX6120 and FX4140 set for the first quarter of 2012.

For chipsets, AMD will launch A75 (Hudson D3) and A55 (Hudson D2) together with its A series APU, and is set to launch a chipset codenamed Hudson D4 in February 2012.

On the other hand, Intel is also prepared to launch its high-end X79 chipset after September along with 11 upgraded CPUs including Core i5-2320, Core i3-2120T, Core i3-2130 and G540.

The sources pointed out that AMD is targeting Llano at the entry-level and mainstream markets, competing mainly against Intel's Core i3 and Pentium, while E-450 and E300 will target Intel's G440, 540 and 530 series."

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Source: DigiTimes

Badaboom, the once NVIDIA only transcoding accelerator, now works with Sandy Bridge

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2011 - 11:34 AM |
Tagged: transcoding, quick sync video, nvidia, Intel, badaboom

When we first met Elemental Technologies Badaboom video transcoding accelerator it would only work with NVIDIA CPUs.  Ryan tested version 1.1 of the program, taking various movies and recorded TV and transcoding it into formats able to play on Blackberrys, iPhones, YouTube and a wide variety of other formats. 

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The testing showed nice improvements when utilizing an NVIDA GPU and the ability to use multiple GPUs, each able to do their own transcoding simultaneously would help anyone who needed a couple of Blu-ray movies transferred to their mobile device in a hurry.  The quality of the transcoding was of high quality and Ryan did not see any of the issues that were present when using AMD's Avivo, as there is little point in quickly transcoding video if it ends up painful to watch.

We hadn't heard much else about Badaboom until today, when it was announce that version 2.0 will support Intel's new Quick Sync Video as well as NVIDIA's cards.  We don't have any benchmarks to show you how effective Sandy Bridge parts will be at accelerating transcoding but you can see the long list of pre-processing filters and learn a bit about Intel's media SDK on this page at Intel.

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"Intel Quick Sync Video, built right into 2nd generation Intel Core processors, is breakthrough hardware acceleration that lets the user complete in minutes what used to take hours. Create DVDs or Blu-ray discs, cover video files for your media plater, and convert video for upload to your favorite social networking sites - all in a flash.

Badaboom uses Intel Quick Sync Video technology to transcode video files in just minutes. Why do videos need to be transcoded? In order for a video to play back on a device such as a smartphone or a tablet, it needs to be formatted to correct specifications. With so many different devices out there, odds are low a video from a camcorder will automatically play on all of them. That's where Badaboom comes in: it transcodes video files to play on hundreds of the most popular devices available today-and it does so quickly and easily."

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Source: Intel

Windows 8 build leaked from D9 conference; screenshots.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 27, 2011 - 09:12 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, leak

Update: 6/28/2011 - One of our commenters suggested that the screenshots were fake. Upon looking at ZDNet's sources -- it appears as if at least the first screenshot is fake (the tile screen) as well as their onscreen keyboard (which we did not link to). The other screenshots we linked follow a completely different aesthetic to the other screenshots on the fake portfolio (shape and color of close button, for instance) so they in fact appear to be genuine. Fooled me. -Scott

So Windows 8 was shown off at the All Things Digital D9 conference and surprise it was leaked. Naturally Microsoft did not show all aspects of the Windows 8 build at the conference; they must leave some cards hidden that are either not yet ready or otherwise not designed to be shown. Ziff Davis got a hold of someone who either had a leaked build of Windows 8 or otherwise access to screenshots that Microsoft did not intend to show. And what good are screenshots that are not in a slideshow?

Care to take a spin around the leek?

So we start off with the well-known start overlay with the typical tiles including weather, calendar, Computer, email, and Internet Explorer. The next image makes us feel immediately guilty for exactly a half of a second. The new interface extends all the way to the installer where you read the EULA and enter your personalization information. The windowing look and feel has changed with Windows 8 at least temporarily exaggerating the close button and minimizing the, well, minimize and full screen buttons. The ribbon UI is also seen exploding all across the interface including the file browser. Installations, at least of Windows software, are more integrated into the operating system. Lastly, the task manager is getting a facelift which may or may not be a bad thing.

What do you think of the leaked build? What would you do differently if you were Microsoft? (Registration not required to comment.)

Source: Ziff Davis

Crysis 2: DirectX 11 free update released

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | June 27, 2011 - 04:44 PM |
Tagged: dx11, crysis 2

Last Wednesday we reported on the announcement of the Crysis 2 DX11 patch and high resolution texture pack upcoming for the 27th of June. Looking at the calendar it appears as if your graphics card just ran out of time to rule the roost. Clocking in at 546 megabytes for the DirectX 11 update and 1695 megabytes for the high resolution texture pack the new updates are not small especially since that does not include the size of the 1.9 patch itself. The big question is whether these updates will push the limits of your computer, and if so, is it worth it?

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Can you run me now? … Hello?

VR-Zone benchmarked the new updates on an Intel Core i7-965 system paired with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580. We believe they accidentally mislabeled their Extreme Quality benchmark with their Ultra Quality benchmark as the ultra is the more intensive of the two settings; also, ultra should have the biggest difference between DX9 and DX11 settings as DX11 effects are not enabled at the extreme settings. ((Update: 6/28/2011 - That's exactly what happened. VR-Zone fixed it; it is correct now.)) Under that assumption you are looking at approximately 40 FPS for a 1080p experience with that test system and all the eye-candy enabled. That is a drop of approximately 33% from its usual 60 FPS under extreme settings.

But how does it look? Read on for all of that detail.

Source: VR-Zone

If you are going to get a discreet sound card then go all out with the ASUS Xonar Xense kit

Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2011 - 03:55 PM |
Tagged: xonar, xense, audio, asus

The ASUS Xonar Xense Premium Gaming Audio Set is more than just a soundcard you pick up to take a bit of load off of your CPU, it is an audiophile class sound card with replacable op-amps.  The list of supported technology reads like a sound techs dream, Dolby Headphone, Dolby Prologic IIx, Dolby Digital Live, Xonar GX2.5 and ASIO 2.0. and it can process up to 192kHz/24bit bit stream.  There is nothing minimalist about the software controls that come with the card, you have significantly more control over your audio than with just about any other sound card and the screenshots that Think Computers posted show a fairly intuitive interface.  The only potential drawback is the Sennheiser PC350 Xense headset that the card ships with, which Think Computers was not overly impressed with. 

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"When you first see the ASUS Xonar Xense’s EMI shield, you get a sense that this isn’t anordinary soundcard. The non-ironic conclusion is, you’re right. ASUS has put together another great soundcard and bundled it with a great pair of headphones, the Sennheiser PC350 Xense Edition. The Xonar Xense offers a myriad of inputs and outputs, and can chug out high definition audio up to 192kHz/24bit without breaking a sweat. It easily is one of the coolest pieces of hardware you can add to your rig. Need more convincing? Continue reading to check out all of the details of the ASUS Xonar Xense."

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Linux has been having power management problems and this is why

Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2011 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: linux, ASPM, battery

The recent release of the 2.6.38 Linux kernel has lead to many complaints from mobile users who find their battery life noticably reduced.  Phoronix noticed the issue a while back but until now had not completed enough investigation to be able to pinpoint the cause.  With the arrival of a power monitor they are now willing to point a finger at Active-State Power Management for PCI Express and BIOS compatibility as the cause.  While the desktop users enjoy an increase in speed in certain applications that require their PCIe lanes to be going full out, mobile users notice the drain on the battery as the PCIe lanes take as much power as they can whether they need it or not.  For mobile users whose top priority is power savings, it is recommended that you stick with a pre-2.6.35 kernel as there are also power issues related to that build.  Phoronix does offer a possible solution for some users in their article if you do need to use the latest build.

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"Mobile users are urged to seriously consider these results, and possibly even avoid the Natty Narwhal...I hate to say it, especially in an Ubuntu review, but the mobile edge goes to Windows for now...There are also compelling reasons for folks to avoid [Ubuntu 11.04] at all costs. Linux gamers should see substantial improvements, while mobile users suffer a dramatic loss in battery life," were among the critical comments that Tom's Hardware had in their Ubuntu 11.04 review as they were referencing the power regressions I discovered nearly two months ago within the mainline Linux kernel. As I mentioned on Sunday, the Phoronix Test Suite stack and I have now nailed this major power regression in the Linux 2.6.38 kernel that is affecting a significant number of mobile Linux users. Here is what is happening and a way that you should be able to workaround the serious regression should it affect your computer system(s)."

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Source: Phoronix
Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Samsung

Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)

The Nexus S 4G is a Google phone through and through. Following Google’s first hardware venture into the handset market, the Nexus One, this phone is how Google envisions the Gingerbread (Android 2.3) platform. Manufactured by Samsung, the Nexus S originally debuted as a GSM unlocked phone and on T-Mobile in the US earlier this year. Now, for the debut on CDMA networks, Samsung and Sprint have teamed together to add a 4G, WiMAX modem.

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Because it is a Google tuned experience, the Nexus S 4G software is extremely polished, and provides a great user experience. Being the first phone to ship with Gingerbread, and still being one of the few phones shipping with it at this point in the game, it provides the absolute best small form-factor experience that Android is capable of.

Hit this link to keep reading our review of the Samsung Nexus S...

So... looks like Mozilla is a home-user company. Yep.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 25, 2011 - 02:09 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, enterprise

For enterprise users looking to introduce Firefox to their business: you may wish to reconsider. Businesses are notorious for being substantially behind in version numbers, occasionally (or a lot) trading even security for compatibility. Mozilla had a staggered release schedule: a minor version number was little more than a security update; a major version number was a fairly-large overhaul. Enterprise users were able to upgrade minor version numbers and be reasonably assured that compatibility would be maintained. There were no such assurances for a major version number, thus requiring rigorous testing before applying. Mozilla has ended their policy of supporting back versions with security updates and are also moving between full versions much more rapidly, causing dissension amongst enterprise users.

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Moving the world forward, not backwards, and always twirling towards freedom.

Ed Bott took the opportunity to prod Mozilla during his Thursday evening column. He contends that shutting out enterprise will assist in the impending implosion of Firefox and allow Microsoft and Google to pick up the pieces. I seriously disagree with that statement and applaud Mozilla for staying focused on their goal. True, Mozilla will be vastly less attractive to the enterprise; however, if Microsoft did not have Windows and Office to push with Internet Explorer, would search ad revenue and donations cover the long-term development cost incurred supporting enterprise users? And really, I would have thought Ed Bott of all people (ok, except maybe Paul Thurrott) would respect a company that can make a decision like Mozilla just did and stick by it after covering Microsoft for so long.

Source: ZDNet

Thankfully John Isner and Nicolas Mahut's match is not still going

Subject: General Tech | June 24, 2011 - 06:31 PM |
Tagged: friday, forum, eliza effect

Upgrading anything on your PC is great fun but it can also invites great pain into your life as you give the sadistic side of your 'puter a chance to mess with your head.  Even if the upgrade is external, your internet connection for instance, there is still a chance that somewhere, somehow, the PC will find a way to make you miserable.  Here in the the PC Perspective Forums, we don't see this as a reason to leave forehead prints in your desk, we consider it a learning experience, and we do it to ourselves on purpose ... or possibly accidentally?  It is not just PCs ether, our mobile devices are getting smart enough to mess with us as well and the customer support can be worse. 

If you are looking for something more than jsut sharing tech advice, you can blow people away or blow their arguments away.  If you are feeling more altruistic you can Fold@Home and try to save lives or pick up a BOINC project or 12 and contribute to our scientific knowledge.  Then again if you want to be entertained while you learn, we didn't quite make the length of a double podcast but Epsiode 159 of the PC Perspective Podcast runs 1:27:10.