A kid friendly 3D printer

Subject: General Tech | June 16, 2014 - 03:22 PM |
Tagged: 3d printing, Printeer

Kids these days get all the cool toys, not just G.I. Joe's with missiles that actually fire and portable gaming devices capable of more colours than light and dark green.  Mission Street Manufacturing's Printeer is a way to get kids interested in 3D printing and creating their own masterpieces, though at an estimated $550 it will likely be limited to schools and clubs as opposed to having their own printer.  The interface is a drawing program on an iPad, something that will be quite familiar to most children but now they will have the opportunity to print out their creations.  The printer is transparent as you can see from the picture at Engadget which allows these young makers to watch their creation made right in front of their eyes, a great way to get them excited about making things and a lot more fun than ShrinkyDinks!

printeer.jpg

"If Mission Street Manufacturing's Printeer hits its crowdfunding goal, though, children will have a 3D printer they can truly call their own. All you need to create a plastic masterpiece with Printeer is an iPad and a basic ability to draw. There's no scary-looking CAD programs or other intermediary tools."

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Source: Engadget

ADATA Announces CFast 2.0 "Industrial Memory Cards"

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Mobile | June 16, 2014 - 01:54 AM |
Tagged:

CFast is a standard, based on the merging of CompactFlash with SATA, for memory cards to have SSD-like performance. It has been around for a while, CFast 2.0 having been released in Q4 2012, but with very limited adoption. You could count the number of camera models which use it on a single hand. Still, ADATA is entering that market with a lineup of memory cards, with quite a bit of variety.

adata-logo.jpg

The ADATA ISC3E will come in SLC (one stored bit per memory cell) and MLC (two stored bits per memory cell) models. Capacities will range from 4GB to 64GB (SLC) or 4GB to 128GB (MLC). Speeds are fairly low, compared to modern SSDs. SLC is rated at 165 MB/s read and 170 MB/s write, while MLC can read at 435 MB/s and write at 120 MB/s. They support ECC and S.M.A.R.T.

Of course, this is kind-of interesting in terms of its small, removable form factor. Beyond that, it seems to be a few years back in terms of SSD technology. For the high resolution (or high frame rate) camera use case, read and write speeds really do not matter, except when you transfer your media off of your device (which the MLC version is clearly better suited for). Otherwise, as long as your write speed is consistently above what the camera can output, going bigger will be wasted overhead. ADATA suggests using these CFast 2.0 cards in POS terminals and kiosks but, at that point, would you really need small and removable memory?

ADATA has not released pricing and availability.

Source: ADATA

Steam Deals: Splinter Cell Blacklist Is ~$10, Thief Is ~$15

Subject: General Tech | June 15, 2014 - 02:19 AM |
Tagged: thief, steam sale, steam, splinter cell blacklist

Update: Uh, apparently GOG's DRM-Free Summer Sale (note: everything on GOG is DRM-Free) has not yet ended. Those deals are definitely worth your time to check out.

While I missed writing about GOG's Summer Sale (okay, at the time of this publishing, theres a few hours left), I can at least alert our readers about these two deals. Splinter Cell: Blacklist, released late last summer, is almost two-thirds off at $10.19 USD (normally $29.99). Also on sale is Thief, released in late February, for about half price at $14.99 USD (normally $29.99). If you purchased these games and wanted a little more content to them, each title's downloadable content is on sale for an equivalent markdown.

SteamLogo.png

Image Credit: Klow from CombineOverwiki

While not as unforgiving as Splinter Cell: Conviction, a UPLAY account is required to activate Blacklist. You do not, however, need to be continuously logged in to it in order to play its single player mode. I believe that Thief, on the other hand, just uses Steam for its DRM.

Source: Steam

E3 2014: SteamBoy Project Is Not a Valve Product

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 15, 2014 - 01:51 AM |
Tagged: x86, SteamOS, Steam Machine, Steam Controller, steam, mobile, handheld, E3 14, E3

To be doubly clear, if the title was not explicit enough, this announcement is not made by Valve. This company is called, "SteamBoy Machine team". If not a hoax, this is one of the many Steam Machines which are expected to come out of the SteamOS initiative. Rather than taking the platform to a desktop or home theater PC (HTPC) form-factor, this company wants to target the handheld PC gaming market.

steamboy-hero.jpg

Image Credit: SteamBoy Machine team via The Escapist

If it comes out, that is a clever use of SteamOS. I can see Big Picture Mode being just as useful on a small screen as it is on a TV, especially with its large font and controller navigation. The teasers suggest that it will use the haptic feedback-based touchpads which Valve are expected to base the Steam Controller on. It will also include a 5-inch touchscreen.

The Escapist got into contact with the team and received a few more specs:

  • Quad-Core CPU (x86)
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB built-in storage

Even if this company does not make good on their expectations, companies will now be considering portable SteamOS devices. This is the sort of outside-the-box thinking that Valve was pushing for when they wanted to create an open platform. Each party will struggle to win in their personal goals, yet they can also rely on the crowd (other companies or individuals) to keep up in areas where they do not want an edge.

Philosophy aside, the company is targeting 2015 with a "Standard Edition" supporting WiFi and 3G. It would make sense to have a WiFi-only model, but who knows.

Source: Escapist

AMD Restructures. Lisa Su Is Now COO.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Chipsets | June 13, 2014 - 06:45 PM |
Tagged: x86, restructure, gpu, arm, APU, amd

According to VR-Zone, AMD has reworked their business, last Thursday, sorting each of their projects into two divisions and moving some executives around. The company is now segmented into the "Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom Business Group", and the "Computing and Graphics Business Group". The company used to be divided between "Computing Solutions", which handled CPUs, APUs, chipsets, and so forth, "Graphics and Visual Solutions", which is best known for GPUs but also contains console royalties, and "All Other", which was... everything else.

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Lisa Su, former general manger of global business, has moved up to Chief Operating Officer (COO), along with other changes.

This restructure makes sense for a couple of reasons. First, it pairs some unprofitable ventures with other, highly profitable ones. AMD's graphics division has been steadily adding profitability to the company while its CPU division has been mostly losing money. Secondly, "All Other" is about a nebulous as a name can get. Instead of having three unbalanced divisions, one of which makes no sense to someone glancing at AMD's quarterly earnings reports, they should now have two, roughly equal segments.

At the very least, it should look better to an uninformed investor. Someone who does not know the company might look at the sheet and assume that, if AMD divested from everything except graphics, that the company would be profitable. If, you know, they did not know that console contracts came into their graphics division because their compute division had x86 APUs, and so forth. This setup is now more aligned to customers, not products.

Source: VR-Zone

Roll your own Rift for half the price of retail

Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2014 - 01:46 PM |
Tagged: OpenVR, oculus rift, DIY

Owning an Oculus Rift is enough to make your gamer friends turn green with envy but what if it was an open sauce Rift you built yourself?  The specs for this build specifies two one 5.6″ 1280×800 LCDs which will give you resolution on par with the Facebook owned version and the casing is 3D printed which offers you a chance to personalize your own model.  The steps for setting up the hardware are available by following the link from Hack a Day as well as a link to the source code on GitHub.  The price is right and you not only get a working VR headset you get the credit for building it as well!

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"The Oculus Rift is a really cool piece of kit, but with its future held in the grasp of Facebook, who knows what it’ll become now. So why not just build your own? When the Oculus first came out [Ahmet] was instantly intrigued — he began researching virtual reality and the experience offered by the Oculus — but curiosity alone wasn’t enough for the $300 price tag."

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Source: Hack a Day

Welcome to The Machine

Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2014 - 12:42 PM |
Tagged: memristor, hp, the machine

HP is thinking of the long term as evidenced by their estimate of 2016 as the release date for the first viable DIMMs using memristors.  Their plans are much larger than a new type of memory, they are planning a scalable architecture dubbed The Machine which will take advantage of the high speed and lower power needs of memristors to develop a new type of system which will need to use photonic interconnects to keep up with the memristors.  They see this scaling from tiny devices and mobile phones with 100TB of storage to supercomputers whose speeds will make a mockery of the current record holder, the Fujitsu K.  Of course many of the claims The Register heard HP make should be taken with a grain of salt, after all the memristor was originally predicted to hit the market a year ago.  It is something to look forward to, who doesn't want faster, denser and more power efficient storage?

hpmemristorroadmap.jpg

"The beleaguered IT giant plans to rejuvenate itself with a set of advanced technologies that, when combined, make a device called "The Machine" that can be as small as a smartphone and as large as a 160-rack supercomputer, the company announced at its HP Discover event in Las Vegas on Wednesday."

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Source: The Register

There are Zombies on the Holodeck

Subject: General Tech | June 11, 2014 - 02:21 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Survios, oculus rift, razer hydra

With E3 2014 in full swing there are a lot of demos and trailers whetting our appetite and if the past is any proof, setting us up for disappointment as release dates move and features get dropped.  You can immediately scroll down to the long list below but first you really should take a look at Survios, once called Holodeck and then Prime, which uses an Oculus Rift, Razer Hydra, and PlayStation Move to immerse you in a zombie survival game; literally in first person.  The movie showing off the gameplay that Slashdot has linked to doesn't quite do justice to what the game will be like while wearing a Rift but the display behind does intimate just how much fun this style of gaming will be once it begins to mature.

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"Ben Lang from Road to VR goes hands on and heads in with virtual reality technology company Survios' newest version of untethered VR system 'Prime 3'. He moves around the virtual space, holding and reloading weapons as you would in real life. 'At one point while playing, I was wielding the shotgun with two hands, with the table of weapons was on my right side. Several zombies were approaching and I needed a bit more fire power. I dropped the shotgun, reached over with my right hand to grab the tommy gun off the table, then virtually tossed it from my right hand to my left hand (because I'm a lefty), then pulled my pistol out of the holster with my right hand and continued to shoot both weapons.'"

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Source: Slashdot

Docker is headed for the big time

Subject: General Tech | June 11, 2014 - 12:33 PM |
Tagged: google, virtualization, linux, container, Linux Containerization, docker, Red Hat, ubuntu

Docker has put the libcontainer execution engine of their Linux Containerization onto Github, making it much easier to adopt their alternative virtualization technology and modify it for specific usage scenarios.  So far Google, Red Hat and Parallels have started adding their own improvements to the Go based libcontainer; adding to the Ubuntu dev team already at work. This collaboration should help containerization become a viable alternative to virtual machines and hopefully be included as a feature in future Linux distros.  Read more over at The Register.

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"Docker has spun off a key open source component of its Linux Containerization tech, making it possible for Google, Red Hat, Ubuntu, and Parallels to collaborate on its development and make Linux Containerization the successor to traditional hypervisor-based virtualization."

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Source: The Register

E3 2014: Alienware Alpha Announced with HDMI In and Out

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | June 11, 2014 - 02:44 AM |
Tagged: Steam Machine, E3 14, E3, dell, alienware alpha, alienware

While "Steam Machines" are delayed, Alienware will still launch their console form-factor PC. The $550 price tag includes a black Xbox 360 wireless controller (with receiver) and Windows 8.1 64-bit. Alienware has also designed their own "Console-mode UI" for Windows 8.1, which can be navigated directly with a controller. It will ship Holiday 2014.

Apparently PC-based consoles equate to dubstep and parkour.

About the "Console-mode UI", it will apparently be what the user sees when the Alpha boots. The user can then select between Steam Big Picture, media, and programs. They also allow users to boot into the standard Windows 8.1 interface.

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As for its specifications:

  Base Model ($550) Upgrade Options
Processor Haswell-based Intel Core i3 Core i5, Core i7 (user accessible)
GPU "Custom" Maxwell-based, 2GB GDDR5
(see next paragraph)
(none) (not user accessible, soldered on)
System Memory 4GB at 1600 MHz 8GB (user accessible)
HDD 500GB SATA3 1TB or 2TB (user accessible)
Wireless Dual-band 802.11ac (user accessible)
I/O
  • HDMI Out
  • HDMI In
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Optical Audio
  • 2x USB 3.0 (rear), 2x USB 2.0 (front)
Included
Accessories
  • Xbox 360 Wireless Controller
  • Xbox 360 Wireless Accessories USB Adapter

The GPU is not specified, or even given a similar part to refer to. PC World claims that it will be comparable to the performance found on the two next-gen consoles. Since the 750 Ti has around 1.3 TeraFLOPs of performance, this GPU is probably near that, or slightly above it. PC Gamer says that it will be based on mobile Maxwell, so it might be similar to an current or upcoming laptop GPU.

One thing that has not been addressed is the HDMI-in port. We know that it supports passthrough for low latency, but we do not know what it will do with the input video. Alienware has several of these set up at their booth on the show floor, so we might hear more soon. While its specifications are a bit on the light side, particularly on the default amount of RAM (although that is easily and cheaply upgraded), its $550 price, which includes a wireless controller and its adapter, is also pretty good.

Source: Alienware