Sing the praises of this SteelSeries board in the key of mechanical

Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2011 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: mechanical keyboard, input, steelseries

Mechanical keyboards seem to be a hot topic, with round ups appearing to deal with all of the new boards coming out.  Hardware Heaven chose to focus on one particular product, the SteelSeries 6Gv2 Mechanical gaming keyboard, which thankfully didn't take 'gaming' to mean sticking extra buttons all along the side.  The Cherry Black MX designed keys are very common amongst these new mechanical keyboards though the n-key rollover, being able to hit an unlimited number of keys and have them properly register, is not something you find on all USB keyboards.  The 6Gv2 can handle multiple keys for you circle strafers and replacing the Windows key on the left hand side with a 'media key' that is disabled in games is a very nice touch.  Check out the full review at Hardware Heaven since there are some negative aspects to the design of this board.

HH_steelseries_6gv2.jpg

"For quite some time the gaming keyboard market has concentrated on products which add macro buttons, re-assignments, profiles, USB and audio pass-through and weighted key actions to enhance the gaming experience. In addition to this we see branded products such as the Razer StarCraft 2 gear and SteelSeries Medal of Honor products however few manufacturers have looked to release high quality mechanical keyboards for the gaming masses.

There have been a few though and these have clearly made an impact with gamers as we are regularly seeing manufacturers launch their own mechanical gaming models. One manufacturer which has historically offered mechanical keyboards for gamers is SteelSeries and they are now back with a new model, the 6Gv2 which we have connected to our system today."

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Don't you love it when Patch Tuesday hits double digits

Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2011 - 11:47 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, patch tuesday, security, windows, internet explorer, silverlight

Tomorrow will see the arrival of 9 critical security patches and 7 recommended ones, covering Windows, IE, Silverlight and Office.  The critical patches all resolve remote code execution vulnerabilities, the recommended vary from the same type as well as privledge escalation and denial of  service vulnerabilities.  WinXP through Win7 as well as server OSes will all be affected so be warned that your Tuesday and Wednesday might not be very fun.  Follow the link from The Register to see Microsoft's pre-release document for yourself.

Adobe, obviously not wanting to seem lazy, is also pushing out a patch for both Reader and Acrobat.

band-aid.jpg

"Microsoft is preparing a bumper Patch Tuesday for next week, with 16 security bulletins that collectively address 34 vulnerabilities.

Nine of the bulletins earn the dread rating of critical, while the other seven grapple with flaws rated as important. All supported versions of Windows will need patching on 14 June along with various server-side software packages and applications, including the .NET framework and SQL Server. Internet Explorer, which is affected by two bulletins, will also need some fiddling under the bonnet."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Mechanical Keyboards: Are they for you? Which one?

Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2011 - 04:15 AM |
Tagged: mechanical keyboard, cherry

There is a large amount of choice when it comes to PC components and input devices are no exception to that assertion. You are probably well aware of the multitude of choices when it comes to non-standard mice in terms of number of buttons and resolution of the optical and/or laser sensor. Keyboards have their own higher performance counterparts as well: not just in terms of how many web and media function buttons can be crammed on them, but also how the keys themselves register a press. Recently Tom’s Hardware reviewed a series of mechanical keyboards based on their switches and gave a lot of background information about what advantages and disadvantages each switch has.

logo_cherry.gif

Are you a mechanical keyboard virgin? Feeling the MX Blues?

(Logo from the Cherry Corporation)

My first couple keyboards were the old IBM model M buckle spring keyboards. Eventually when I got a later computer I moved on to the cheap keyboards and immediately missed my original mechanical keyboards. Years and a little shopping around later, I eventually settled on the Logitech G15v1 as my first attempt at a higher-end gaming keyboard. It was with the G15v1 that I experienced serious limitations to be had with some, particularly non-mechanical, keyboards: I am a left-handed gamer. The Logitech G15v1 was optimized for right handed gamers as a lot of arrow-key combinations with shift or control did not register by the keyboard; Logitech expected, when they designed the keyboard, that everyone’s mouse would be on the right of the keyboard, and thus the further away WSAD keys would be used. Consider playing as a Scout in Team Fortress 2 but not being able to jump sideways and only being able to crouch-walk in a straight line. While each keyboard is designed with a different set of jammable key combinations it was events like those that led me to go overkill and purchase a mechanical keyboard with NKRO attached via PS/2 port.

Do you have any keyboard stories? Comment below. Otherwise, check out Tom’s Hardware’s guide and review to mechanical keyboards.

The Next Generation is 3D HD SMARTBoards

Subject: General Tech, Displays | June 12, 2011 - 05:56 PM |
Tagged: SMART, 3d

SMART has been making interactive whiteboards for quite some time now. An interactive whiteboard is essentially a giant writing tablet similar to a Wacom. This tablet is also a projector screen which is often wall mounted but could be mounted on a cart. SMART Boards attach to PCs by USB and could attach to video and audio out if you purchase one with an attached projector and speakers rather than use your own. Recently SMART announced and released their fifth generation product line complete with a projector supporting HDMI input and active 3D technology.

35-planetsLesson.jpg

IT’S LIKE I CAN TOUCH YOU!

(Image by SMART Technologies)

While I can see this useful for companies that are doing 3D technology during their company, investor, and vendor meetings it seems a little bit unlikely that active 3D will appear in the classroom. It seems quite difficult for me to imagine twenty to forty students each with their own active shutter 3D glasses atop the investment of the 3D interactive whiteboard itself. Also while it might be to support the 3D functionality of the projector it seems quite odd to include HDMI functionality and barely exceed 720p resolution (1280x800) in your highest-end projector.

If an interactive whiteboard is in your interest but were holding out until you can pop things out at your audience the new SMART boards were available since May 25th in North America and May 30th internationally. Prices range between $3000 and $4000 US, computer not included. If you already have a digital whiteboard but want a 3D projector upgrade that will cost just north of 2000$.
Source: SMART

Demand For IT Workers Remains High In US Despite Economy

Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2011 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: US, technology, networking, IT

The US has seen a rather rapid rise in unemployment in the last few years as companies cut back on staff and computing costs. According to Computer World, Tom Silver has been quoted in saying “several years ago companies cut back pretty far, particularly in infrastructure and technology development.” Silver further believes that the tech unemployment rate is half that of the national unemployment rate due to companies needing to replace aging hardware, software, and deal with increased security threats. 65% of 900 respondents in a recent biannual hiring survey conducted by Dice.com found that hiring managers and head hunters plan on bringing even more new workers into their businesses in the second half of 2011 versus the first half.

Workers with mobile operating system, hardware, and ecosystem expertise and java development skills are the most desirable technology workers, according to Computer World. Although anyone with an IT background and recent programming skills have a fairly good chance of acquiring jobs in a market that is demanding now-rare talent. Employers are starting to be more confident in the economy and thus are more willing to invest in new workers. In an era where Internet security is more important that ever, skilled enterprise IT workers are becoming a valuable asset to employers, who are increasingly fighting for rare talent and incentivizing new workers with increased salaries.

Even though businesses are still remaining cautious in their new hiring endeavors, it is definitely a good sign for people with tech backgrounds who are looking for work as the market is ever so slowly starting to bounce back. For further information on the study, Computer World has the full scoop here.

Are you in or studying to enter into the IT profession? Do you feel confident in the US employers' valuation of their IT workers?

Dell Survey Suggests CEOs Believe Cloud Computing Is A Fad

Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2011 - 10:36 AM |
Tagged: networking, dell, cloud computing

A recent survey conducted during the first two days of the Cloud Expo by Marketing Solutions and sponsored by Dell suggests that IT professionals believe that their less technical CEOs believe cloud computing to be a "fad" that will soon pass. On the other hand, IT departments see the opportunities and potential of the technology. This gap between the two professions, according to Dell, lies in "the tendency of some enthusiasts to overhype the cloud and its capacity for radical change." Especially with a complex and still evolving technology like cloud computing, CEOs are less likely to see the potential benefits and moreso the obstacles and cost to adopt the methods.

The study surveyed 223 respondents from various industries (excluding technology providers), and found that the attitudes of IT professionals and what they felt their respective CEOs' attitudes were regarding "the cloud" were rather different. The pie graphs in figure 1 below illustrate the gap between the two professions mentioned earlier. Where 47% of those in IT see cloud computing as a natural evolution of the trend towards remote networks and virtualization, only 26% of IT believed that CEOs agreed. Also, while 37% of IT professions stated that cloud computing is a new way to think about their function in IT, "37 percent deemed their business leaders mostly likely to describe the cloud as having “immense potential,” contrasted with only 22 percent of the IT pros who said that was their own top descriptor."

Further, the survey examined what both IT professionals and CEOs believed to be obstacles in the way of adopting cloud computing. On the IT professionals' front, 57% believed data security to be the biggest issue, 32% stated industry compliance and governance as the largest obstacle, and 27% thought disaster recovery options to be the most important barrier, contrasted with 51%, 30%, and 22% of CEOs. This comparison can be seen in figure 2 below.

While the survey has handily indicated that enterprises' IT departments are the most comfortable with the idea of adopting cloud computing, other areas of the business could greatly benefit from the technology but are much more opposed to the technology. As seen in figure 3, 66% of IT departments are willing to advocate for cloud computing, only 13% of Research and Development, 13% of Strategy and Business Development, and a mere 5% of Supply Chain Management departments feel that they would move to cloud computing and benefit from the technology.

Dell stated that IT may be able to help in many more functions and departments by advocating for and implementing cloud computing strategies in information-gathering and data-analyzation departments. In doing so, IT could likely benefit the entire company and further educate their CEOs in cloud computing's usefulness to close the gap between the IT professionals' and CEO's beliefs.

You can read more about the Dell study here. How do you feel about cloud computing?

Source: Dell

Windows 8 UI: Wait, Windows 7?

Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2011 - 04:08 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, ImmersiveUI

Microsoft announced and demonstrated their Windows 8 interface a couple of weeks ago and since then there has been some love and some hate for it by various groups. The idea that the new paradigm for icons would display information from the program, particularly in such a fashion, better suits a tablet rather than a traditional desktop interface. Regardless, there would likely be some application for such an interface and you do not need Windows 8 to unofficially have it.

“Start”: must be Windows.

ImmersiveUI developer Sergio James Bruccoleri has released a video to show his pre-beta interface for Windows 7. In his demonstration he showed various websites and programs launched with a little bit of feedback in the tiles such as his Facebook name and Xbox Live gamertag with avatar. Bruccoleri has stated that a public beta is forthcoming with “effects and some cool stuffs.”

Would you find yourself adding this to your Windows desktop? If so, on what device?

Source: WinRumors

Is The Wintel Era Coming To an End?

Subject: General Tech | June 11, 2011 - 11:21 PM |
Tagged: wintel, microsoft, Intel, asustek

DigitTimes reports that the so called “Wintel” era is over. With Wintel representing the fusing of a Windows operating system on Intel x86 processors, Asustek Jonney Shih believes that the time period where Windows and Intel processors dominated the PC, tablet PC, and handset markets have passed. This is due in part to the rise of Android and ARM on the mobile front and increased mind share (and in some cases competitive market share) of the Mac OSX and iOS ecosystems on the PC and mobile platforms respectively. Shih further stated that the rising market share of once-smaller operating systems from competitors encourages healthy competition and innovation in the industry.

As mobile hardware advances to once-unprecedented levels of performance, Asustek sees the lines between what constitutes mobile handsets, ultra-portable computing devices and traditional computers breaking down. All these devices will soon start to coalesce into a new IT market where computing is more about productivity and entertainment more so than choosing differing classes of hardware as they will all be “good enough” machines.

DigiTimes states that the rise of the tablet PC will likely increase manufacturers abilities to try new things and sell numerous units; however, it will also impact and “significantly reshuffle the ranking of the whole IT market.”

With Microsoft currently commanding approximately 88.69% of the client OS market share (according to Net Market Share at time of writing), and Intel being the leading manufacturer of x86 CPUs, the “Wintel” relationship still has a good deal of weight to throw around and influence the market; however, on the mobile front the market is much more competitive with other operating systems and hardware advancing rapidly. Will the mobile market have an effect on traditional computing, and do you feel as though the Wintel era is coming to an end?

Source: DigiTimes

RAGE on, PC: PCGamer interviews John Carmack

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 11, 2011 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: john carmack, id, E3

John Carmack was and is one of the biggest faces in videogame engine development since Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake. He was at E3 to promote his company, iD Software’s, RAGE: their nearest upcoming release. While he was there, PCGamer managed to corner him for a 22 minute interview ranging from RAGE; to the current and future state of PC gaming; to the perceptive effect of input latency and how framerate affects it.

Look at how stable the framerate is!

Some points of interest from the interview include:
  • Texture resolution and memory limitations on consoles
  • Higher end PCs being approximately 10-fold higher performance than the consoles
  • Sandy Bridge is finally barely good enough for integrated graphics to be viable GPUs for games
  • DirectX and OpenGL APIs hold the PC back, looking forward to new movements to access GPU better
  • His interest focuses on the toolset to let the artists do more with less effort
  • PC Gaming is still viable but a minority
  • Input latency is longer than people expect, sometimes up to 100ms and beyond
  • The exciting yet not necessarily crucial nature of newer rendering technologies

John Carmack always has interesting interviews from his very down to Earth and blunt tone. If you have a free half hour and want to hear one of the best game programmers in the world talk about his trade, this is definitely an interview for you.

Source: PCGamer

Is the InFocus 55" a wall tablet? Do you want it anyway?

Subject: General Tech, Displays, Systems | June 11, 2011 - 03:31 AM |
Tagged: wall tablet, InFocus

InFocus is branding their 55-inch touch-screen TV with Windows 7 embedded as a “Wall Tablet”. The writers down at HotHardware seem to take offense to a 55-inch device being called a tablet and I must agree. My duration working in high schools and acquiring an education degree grew me well acquainted with SMART boards and this product definitely recalls those memories much more vividly than my experience playing around with tablet devices.

The problem with touch screens in schools is that every screen is treated like one thereafter.

(Video from BusinessWire)

It is quite obvious that InFocus spent quite a large amount of time developing their user interface to dress up Windows 7 as a more whiteboard friendly operating system. Their interface has a custom file browser with annotation capabilities, a custom web browser, a digital whiteboard application, and a video conferencing solution that can interface with open protocols such as Google Talk and more proprietary ones such as Cisco. The unit itself has a 720p video camera and a screen resolution of 1920x1080 with multiple touch recognition, something that most (but not all) SMART boards are incapable of.

It is highly unlikely that you will have one of these $6000 devices in your house unless you happen to require it for professional reasons. For those in the education, training, research, or corporate management fields: a device like this could make your life much easier particularly if you were already considering installing a mass of SMART boards for this purpose. They are expected to ship to interested customers in July.

Source: HotHardware