Killer Networks, Alienware and Logitech Summer Giveaway!

Subject: General Tech | July 20, 2016 - 11:36 AM |
Tagged: rivet, logitech g, logitech, killer networks, giveaway, contest, alienware

The temperature is heating up across the US and we're starting to lose our minds around here. As a result, we have convinced our friends at Killer Networks, Alienware and Logitech G to give some incredible hardware packages to our readers and fans!

How does an Alienware 15 Gaming Laptop with an MSRP of $1199 sound to you? Pretty nice, right? And if you aren't the lucky winner of that, how about one of five packages worth $390 each from Logitech that include a G633 headset, G810 keyboard and G502 mouse?

Winning is easy - you can enter through one or methods, each of which is worth its own entry. We are open to anyone, anywhere in the world, so enter away! Entries close at midnight ET on July 31st when we'll draw the winners at random.

Killer Networks, Alienware and Logitech Summer Giveaway!

A HUGE thank you goes out to our friends at River/Killer, Alienware and Logitech for supplier the goods for this contest! Good luck!

2D semiconductors anyone?

Subject: General Tech | July 19, 2016 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: 2d, molybdenum sulphide, moores law, graphene

Over at Nanotechweb is an article on some rather impressive research being done to create what are, for all intents and purposes, almost two dimensional.  The process used by the researchers created transistors made up of two three-atom thick MoS2 layers, both slightly overlapped with graphene, sandwiched between two one-atom think graphene layers.  The trick is in the use of graphene, itself unsuitable for use as a transistor but perfect for interconnects thanks to its conductance.  Read on to learn more about these researchers and the process they are working on, including a link to their publication in Nature.

nnano.2016.115-f1.jpg

"Researchers in the US have succeeded in chemically assembling the electronic junctions between a 2D semiconductor (molybdenum sulphide) and graphene, and have made an atomic transistor with good properties. They have also assembled the heterostructures into 2D logic circuits, such as an NMOS inverter with a voltage gain as high as 70."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Nanotechweb

Chinese Group Purchases Opera for $600 Million (50% Off!)

Subject: General Tech | July 19, 2016 - 02:38 AM |
Tagged: web browser, Opera, China

Opera is the smallest of the major browser vendors, estimated at about one-fifth the desktop market share of Mozilla's Firefox. That said, it had some fairly high-profile device wins, such as the Nintendo Wii and the Nintendo DS, and they're strong on other mobile devices, too. They had their own rendering technology until 2013, when they switched to Webkit and, when Google forked away from Apple and KDE into the Blink project, followed Google.

opera-2016-logo.png

Recently, a group of Chinese companies have announced that they will be purchasing a large chunk of the browser vendor for $600 million USD. Interestingly, this was after offering $1.2 billion just a few months earlier. This time, the Chinese group will receive less of the company, and thus will pay less for it. The original company, which will have 18 months to find a new name, will maintain ownership of three parts:

  • Opera Mediaworks
  • Opera Apps & Games (including Bemobi)
  • Opera TV

According to Engadget, the original, $1.2 billion dollar deal was canceled when some government organization disapproved of the deal. Looking at the three components that were omit, I cannot see why a regulation body would raise an issue, whether it be for national security or monopoly reasons. They seem pretty innocuous and small, but I guess the EU might take issue with consumer data privacy?

Either way, these three elements will remain, but everything else will go.

European Speedrunner Assembly 2016 Starts This Weekend

Subject: General Tech | July 19, 2016 - 01:25 AM |
Tagged: speedrun, esa, charity

Somehow, despite the European Speedrunner Assembly (ESA) being five years old, I just found out about it this year. Turns out that ESA 2016 is coming up this weekend. If you were a fan of Games Done Quick, this will also be a ~week-long, around the clock speed running event for charity. This one seems to run for The Save the Children Fund, although that could be an out-of-date announcement for the previous event.

europespeedrunner-2016-logo.png

The event starts with Tomb Raider II at 12pm EDT on Saturday, July 23rd, and goes until the end of a Super Mario 64 120-star relay race that starts at 2:31pm on Friday, July 29th. The event will continue offline until the 1st of August. Like Games Done Quick, which apparently inspired this event, the schedule has a wide variety of titles across several platforms. It should be interesting, regardless of when you get time to watch it.

Source: ESA Marathon

EVGA 17th Anniversary Event (with Contest)

Subject: General Tech | July 19, 2016 - 12:54 AM |
Tagged: evga

Sweet... seventeen? Looks we're a little late on this, but EVGA is hosting a 17th anniversary event. Jacob is live streaming gameplay at 3pm PDT (6pm EDT) today, tomorrow, the day after, and the day after that. During that time, they will be giving away four more bundles of PC hardware, and probably a bunch of game keys from EA. According to their website's previous winners, it looks like they're giving away two copies of Battlefront (with Season Pass), Need for Speed, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, Battlefield 4 (with DLC), and Mirror's Edge: Catalyst each day.

evga-2016-anniversary-banner.png

In terms of hardware, EVGA is handing out one bundle of two components per day and three grand prize bundles: one for USA, Canada, and Latin America; one for Asia and the Pacific region; and one for Europe, the Middle East, and India.

Today, they will give out an EVGA Z170 FTW motherboard and 16GB of DDR4 RAM during today's stream. The largest, non-grand prize giveaway will be on Thursday, however, where they will hand out an X99 Classified motherboard and a GTX 1070 SC graphics card, valued at a total of $820. I'm not sure which geographic regions on these prizes are eligible, although they do state the contest is, of course, void where prohibited. If it's like the grand prize, it seems to be pretty much worldwide.

Source: EVGA

Fnatic's Gear Flick Mouse, it won't judge you based on your handedness

Subject: General Tech | July 18, 2016 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: fnatic gear, input, gaming mouse, flick, ambidextrous

Many gaming mice on the market are designed for use with your right hand, with some manufactures offering a second, mirrored model but they are in the minority.  Ambidextrous mice tend to lack in features as symmetrical button placement is not necessarily a handy solution.  The Fnatic Gear Flick Mouse is marketed for use in either the left or right hand, however only the right side has buttons.  The shell of the mouse may feel comfortable but requiring a user to press buttons with their pinkie finger seems awkward.  For right handers, the use of a Pixart 3310 optical sensor offers good response on what is otherwise a very spares design.  You can read more about it at Kitguru.

Flick-Front-View.jpg

"We have already taken a look at the Rush Gear Keyboard recently but today we are taking a look at Fnatic’s mouse offering, the Gear Flick, featuring an ambidextrous design and all necessary features that most gamers would expect from a mouse. "

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Kitguru

Google may be abandoning their VR headset, but not VR entirely

Subject: General Tech | July 18, 2016 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: google, VR, daydream, rumour, Huawei

Detailed information on Google's Daydream VR Headeset was conspicuously absent from io16.  At that time it was still expected that Google was developing a VR headset to compete with the Rift and Vive which is why it seemed strange they merely mentioned it in passing.  Today rumours are spreading that Google may have abandoned that particular project on favour of improving mobile VR, taking advantage of Google Cardboard one might assume.  They are instead focusing on the software side, the Daydream VR platform designed to enhance VR capabilities on Android N will be improved and offered to vendors; Huawei was mentioned in the post on The Inquirer.  While it is still rumour at this point it certainly makes sense to stop spending money to develop competing hardware when they can focus on improving mobile software which any Android phone could use.

index.jpg

"While Daydream persists, Recode said that Google has cancelled plans to create its own VR headset as it does not want to compete with Facebook, Samsung, HTC and others."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Honey, I Shrunk The NES

Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2016 - 01:07 AM |
Tagged: Nintendo, nes, gaming, !console

Fans of the 90s (and late 80s) will be happy to know that Nintendo is bring back the Nintendo Entertainment System in the form of a modern and miniaturized package. The NES Classic Edition is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and offers up 30 built in classic NES games! It will be available for the holiday season at $59.99 sans old school RCA jacks and finicky cartridges!

nes-classic-edition.png

Nintendo has not provided details on the internals of the console, unfortunately, but it seems to be using a low power SoC that runs emulated versions of the games. That is to say that it is likely Nintendo is using modern components rather the original hardware. One clue is that Nintendo states that gamers will be able to use multiple suspend points on each game and will not have to worry about using continue passwords each time they load up a game. A poster over at Ars Technica suggests that Nintendo may be using the guts of an existing or new 3DS handheld console to power the NES Classic Edition, but we'll have to wait for someone to get thier hands on it to know for sure what is going on under the hood.

On the outside, the NES Classic Edition looks nearly identical to the NES many gamers (myself included) grew up with except for the controller ports being different and of course the physical size! There is even a cartridge slot cover though it is only there for aesthetics and does not actually open (it would have been awesome if it opened to reveal an SD card slot!). Around the back you will find the AC power input and an HDMI video output which is great to see in this age where hooking up an old school console can be a pain (or a chain of adapters heh). There is no word on what resolution the console will output at or if there will be any upscaling...

Speaking of controllers, Nintendo has brought back the old school rectangular gray controller from the original NES which it is calling the NES Classic Controller. This controller plugs into the NES Classic Edition console using the same proprietary port found on the bottom of Wii Remotes (because going with a USB port would have been too easy heh), and users can plug up to two NES Controllers into the console to play with a friend or plug the controller into a Wii Remote in order to play classic games found on the Wii and Wii U Virtual Consoles.

The NES Classic Edition comes with a single controller. Additional controllers will have a MSRP of $9.99. Alternatively, gamers can plug their Wii Classic Controller or Wii Classic Controller Pro game pads into the mini NES.

The bite-sized NES will come with 30 built in games. This number is sadly not expandable as there is no external memory or internet connection on the console (modders would have loved this thing...).

The list of games is as follows:

  • Balloon Fight
  • Bubble Bobble
  • Castlevania
  • Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
  • Donkey Kong
  • Donkey Kong Jr.
  • Double Dragon II: The Revenge
  • Dr. Mario
  • Excitebike
  • Final Fantasy
  • Galaga
  • Ghosts N' Goblins
  • Gradius
  • Ice Climber
  • Kid Icarus
  • Kirby’s Adventure
  • Mario Bros.
  • Mega Man 2
  • Metroid
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Pac-Man
  • Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream
  • StarTropics
  • Super C
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Tecmo Bowl
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

I am excited to see the Castlevania and Zelda games on here along with, of course, the Super Mario Bros. games. I do remember playing Dr. Mario and Ninja Gaiden as well, but there are several games that I have fond memories of playing that did not make the cut! For example, I remember playing a lot of Super Off Road, Duck Hunt (how do they not have this? I guess the old gun wouldn't work with new TVs so they would have to figure something else out though), RC Pro-Am which I loved, and a few others I can't remember the names of anymore).

I have no doubt that this is going to be an extremely popular seller and a great gift idea for the gamer in your life (or yourself! hehe). I wish that it had more games or at least ROM support so that it had a bit more life, but for what it is it is not a bad deal. After all, the original NES launched at $199.99 in 1985 which would make it almost $450 in today's dollars! For those interested, it should be up for pre-order at some point, but for now it is still notify only at Amazon US.

Are you excited for the tiny NES Classic Edition or is your trusty NES and cartridges collection still kicking? What were your favorite NES games growing up (if any)?

Source: Nintendo

RetroArch Announces Vulkan API Support (& Async Compute)

Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2016 - 06:58 PM |
Tagged: n64, dolphin, libretro, retroarch, vulkan, async shaders, asynchronous compute, amd

While the Dolphin emulator has a lot of mind share, and recently announced DirectX 12 support, they have only just recently discussed working on the open alternative, Vulkan. It looks like the LibRetro developer community will beat them with an update to RetroArch and the LibRetro API. The page for RetroArch 1.3.5 exists as of (according to Google) yesterday, but 404s, so it should be coming soon. It is still in experimental mode, but it's better than nothing.

retroarch-2016-plain-logo.png

Interestingly, they also claim that their Vulkan port of Angrylion makes use of asynchronous compute. It's unclear what it uses that for, but I'm sure it will make for interesting benchmarks.

ZoeMatrope Blends Shaders with Strobe Lights

Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2016 - 06:07 PM |
Tagged: Blender, ishikawa watanabe laboratory

This is definitely tangential to our typical coverage, but I came across an interesting research project from the Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory. A common trick that physicists use to measure rotating objects is to shine a strobe light at it. When the object seems to stop in space, your strobe light frequency is some multiple of the object's RPM (assuming the object doesn't have identical sections within a single cycle -- you'll need to go into fractions in that case).

This is another trick in the same family. Basically, they load a carousel of the same object with all possible material components. Then, in a darkened room, they flash a strobe light on it to instantaneously illuminate just the portions they want, at the intensity that it contributes to the final material. So, when you adjust the material on the computer, which they demoed with Blender, the object appears to adjust along with it, letting you see what it should look like in the real world. They can even apply a mask in front of it to allow some level of texturing.

zoematrope-2016-aparatus-utokyo.png

This should be useful for product design, once a library of materials are captured and stored in the CAD software. They claim that 3D printing allows it to be applied to any object, but I'd assume there's some limits regarding how structurally stable the object is. I'm imagining a technician wondering why their metal channel doesn't seem to be applied, only to turn on the light and see their intern knocked out on the floor with a bruise on their forehead. It all depends on what their apparatus is running at and how big it is. Ideally, they would be above the upper range of photosensitive epilepsy is about 30Hz, or 1800 RPM, but I don't have the required info to calculate how that maps to structural integrity of models.