Intel's Cannon ball dropping in the Lake before the end of the year

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2017 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: Intel, cannon lake

Intel will be waiting for the water to warm up a bit before jumping in but they have promised that Cannon Lake will arrive before the end of 2017.  Unfortunately, The Inquirer were not able to pull out much more from Brian Krzanich, we still do not have a firm date nor any more details on the specifications.  Intel is showing off a device using the 10nm based CPU and tout a 25% reduction in power usage and will use a Qualcomm Adreno 540 GPU.  It is also compatible with Qualcomm's octa-core Kryo 280 CPU and Hexagon 682 DSP so we should see some interesting products come with the release of the new processor.

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"At CES in Las Vegas, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich confirmed that the Kaby Lake successor was still on track for a release this year and showed off the first 2-in-1 PC based on the 10nm architecture. "

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Source: The Inquirer

CES 2017: NVIDIA Announces GeForce Now for PCs

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2017 - 01:39 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, geforce now

NVIDIA has just announced GeForce Now, a cloud-streaming service for video games, will be coming soon to PCs. It will not be the same as GeForce Now for Shield devices, though. That service, like OnLive and other competitors, worked by providing users with a catalog of streaming titles for a monthly fee. Instead, in the new, PC version, users will connect to a standard Windows desktop and access games through their digital distribution accounts.

Basically, you are renting a fast PC. Bring your own games.

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From the art standpoint, which I continually bring up whenever cloud services are involved with delivering content, this side-steps many of the concerns that OnLive and others kicked up. Those sorts of services are basically run on the cable TV model, where content can be accessed under the conditions they outline, and, when it’s gone, it’s gone! NVIDIA is not attempting to make a full gaming platform, where exclusive titles are locked until they decide to remove them from existence (for legal or financial reasons). The software is left in the user’s control, and they are given 1TB of storage to do so with.

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Rise of the Tomb Raider on GeForce Now

As for the hardware, NVIDIA is advertising GTX 1080s as the GPU-of-choice for GeForce Now, but they also voiced intentions to separate performance tiers by price. As you rent progressively beefier systems, your credit of time will count down faster. This mixing-and-matching might be the reason why NVIDIA decided to go with a credit system, so users can stretch their time with slower PCs for games that don’t need top-end performance. It does lead to an interesting issue... the price.

NVIDIA quotes $25 for 20 hours of usage.

In terms of price, about $1.25/hr isn’t outrageous when you compare it to something like Amazon Web Services, although you can’t directly compare those systems to these. AWS GPU instances are based on Xeons with Kepler-era Tesla boards. Tesla GPUs are significantly more expensive than a GTX 1080, but Pascal is much newer than Kepler. Regardless, it’s entirely possible that this price is roughly in line with how much it would cost NVIDIA to provide the service.

At the same time, waving the cost in the user’s face will likely scare them away from using it. I would expect that, depending on what the average user does, it might encourage more people to try if it were a flat, monthly fee. It’s risky, because you’d have to price it carefully enough that light users of any given pay period will subsidize the heavy ones, but the sticker shock we get today seems like it might turn some people away.

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It’s an interesting attempt, though, that attempts to provide the same cloud services as competitors, only without attempting to control what you do with it. You know, besides keeping Windows and drivers up-to-date, which is more of a courtesy anyway. If it was cheaper and available outside of Mac and Windows, it might even be a way for people to ween themselves away from Windows, logging into a service rather than dual-booting or locally virtualizing for applications that don't run on their new OS. But, again, we don't even know if they can make it cheaper.

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: NVIDIA

CES 2017: NVIDIA Announces New SHIELD TV Media Streamer

Subject: General Tech | January 4, 2017 - 11:25 PM |
Tagged: UHD, streaming box, SHIELD TV, nvidia, media server, hdr, gaming, controller, CES 2017, CES

NVIDIA has announced the newly redesigned SHIELD TV with the promise of higher performance and enhanced functionality from the Android-powered media streamer. In addition to the updated industrial design the new SHIELD TV ships with a game controller in addition to a remote, adding value to what NVIDIA is calling "the world's most advanced streamer".

SHIELDTV1.jpg

NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang on stage to introduce the new SHIELD TV

NVIDIA is citing "major improvements" to the new version of the SHIELD TV in the following areas:

Highest Performance, 4K HDR Media Streamer – SHIELD delivers the richest visual experience with support for 4K HDR and 3x the performance of any other streamer on the market. With Amazon Video in 4K HDR, SHIELD offers the largest, most open catalog of media in stunning 4K – also supporting Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movie and VUDU. YouTube’s flagship TV app will also be available for SHIELD in the coming months, delivering immersive, 360-degree viewing experiences.

Amazing Games – SHIELD stands alone among media streamers, with the widest range of gaming capabilities and richest assortment of game content. GeForce NOW has been upgraded with Pascal performance and will soon add Ubisoft’s catalog of hits, including Watch Dogs 2, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, For Honor and countless others. Upcoming native game releases include The Witness, Tomb Raider and Shadowgun Legends.

AI in the Home – SHIELD is the first streamer to announce support of Google Assistant, optimized for TV and 100% hands-free. Coming soon, SmartThings Hub technology integration will instantly turn SHIELD into a smart home hub that can connect to hundreds of smart home devices. NVIDIA SPOT, an AI mic accessory makes SHIELD the central backbone of the AI home, extending intelligent control throughout the house.

SHIELD_TV.jpg

NVIDIA has stated that the features announced for the new SHIELD TV will come to existing SHIELD devices via an over-the-air update this month; though the new hands-free commands will require the updated SHIELD controller (now bundled with the new SHIELD TV), which will be sold separately.

Pre-orders for the new SHIELD TV are now available with units shipping later in January. There will be two configurations, with the SHIELD TV media streamer, which includes a game controller and remote, priced at $199; and the SHIELD Pro home media server, which comes with a controller, remote with headset jack, and 500GB of on-board storage, priced at $299.

SHIELD_TV_box.jpg

Full press release after the break.

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!

Source: NVIDIA

... and the mod of the year is ...

Subject: General Tech | January 4, 2017 - 02:55 PM |
Tagged: mod, gaming, Enderal, Call of Chernobyl

I am with RPS on this one, I voted for and fully expected the Skyrim total coversion Enderal to win Mod of the year at ModdersDB.  However by a slim 1% of the vote is is the Call of Pripyat total mod, Call of Chernobyl who took first place.  This mod can remove the story and allow you to wander through all the maps included in Shadow of Chernobyl, Clear Sky, and Call of Pripyat, along with the various wildlife and other Stalkers.  The mod also includes a variety of survival options, sleep deprivation and artifact degradation.  If own Call of Pripyat you can download the mod here to find out if it as good as they say or if this is another case of Russian hackers fiddling with votes.

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"Call of Chernobyl is a “freeplay” mod, which means it strips away most of the Call of Pripyat’s plot and linear progression in favour of the ability to roam anywhere and extra focus on the game’s survival elements."

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Sadly, this 'smart' hairbrush is not going to be the dumbest thing out of CES

Subject: General Tech | January 4, 2017 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: iot

Yes, you read that correctly.  The Kérastase Hair Coach from L' Oréal is an internet connected hairbrush with an accelerometer and a gyroscope inside to measure the quality of your brush stokes through your hair and The Register reports it will start to vibrate if if thinks you are being too brusque.  It also has a microphone so it can listen to you brushing and offer "insights into manageability, frizziness, dryness, split ends and breakage".  The internet connection is used to track weather, to warn you about humidity and other supposedly traumatic conditions for your hair.  You should expect to see even stranger IoT products over the next few days.

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"The annual godforsaken hypegasm that is the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has given an "innovation award" ... to a Wi-Fi-connected microphone-fitted allegedly "smart" hairbrush."

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Source: The Register

CES 2017: Logitech Announces G533 Wireless Gaming Headset

Subject: General Tech | January 4, 2017 - 12:01 AM |
Tagged: wireless, Pro-G, logitech, headset, headphones, gaming, DTS Headphone:X, CES 2017, CES, 7.1 channel, 40mm

Logitech's newest gaming headset is the G533, a wireless model that boasts superior sound quality, reliable wireless performance, and long battery life.

Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset_Image 1.jpg

"The Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset features professional grade wireless technology, patent pending Pro-G audio drivers and DTS Headphone:X 7.1 surround sound, for advanced audio performance and wireless convenience. The Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset also features a long battery life and high performance design, for comfort over long gameplay sessions."

The Pro-G drivers were previously found in the flagship Artemis Spectrum gaming headsets, which I was highly impressed by when I reviewed them a year ago. The new G533 model incorporates much of the same functionality as the wireless G933 headset, with advanced driver technology and DTS Headphone:X 7.1-channel surround effects.

Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset_Image 2.jpg

As to the wireless performance, Logitech states that their system is low-latency, completely lossless, and resistant to interference:

"Featuring advanced lossless digital audio transmission, the Logitech G533 delivers wireless convenience and incredible high fidelity sound at a range of up to 15 meters’. The headset maintains a strong connection, even in noisy Electro-Magnetic Interference (EMI) settings and when there are dozens of wireless signals in proximity."

Specifications for the G533 Wireless Gaming Headset from Logitech:


  • Headphones
    • Driver: Pro-G 40 mm
    • Frequency response: 20Hz-20KHz
    • Impedance: 32 Ohms
    • Sensitivity: 107dB SPL/mW
    • Charging Cable Length: 2m
    • Battery Life: 15 hours
    • Wireless Range: 15m
    • Size: 197 mm x 189 mm x 85 mm
    • Weight: 350 grams (12.5 oz)
  • Microphone
    • Pickup Pattern: Cardioid (Unidirectional)
    • Type: Pressure Gradient Electret
    • Condenser
      • Size: 4 mm
      • Frequency response: 100Hz-20KHz  
  • Warranty: 2-year limited hardware warranty

Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset_Image 3.jpg

The G533 Wireless Gaming Headset will retail for $149.99, with availability slated for this month.

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

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Source: Logitech

CES 2017: Qualcomm and ODG Announce AR Smartglasses Powered by Snapdragon 835

Subject: General Tech | January 3, 2017 - 09:10 PM |
Tagged: VR, SoC, snapdragon 835, qualcomm, processor, mobile, CES 2017, CES, AR

Qualcomm Technologies, Inc and ODG (Osterhout Design Group) have announced that the R-8 and R-9 smartglasses will be the first devices powered by the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC. ODG is a developer of "mobile headworn computing and augmented reality technologies and products", and these new models leverage the reduced size and thermal requirements of the new Snapdragon 835 processor.

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The R-8 smartglasses, seated next to a glass mug for scale

"The premium Snapdragon 835 processor was designed from the ground-up to support new and innovative products and experiences beyond mobile phones, and it’s great to see that the first announced Snapdragon 835 devices will be ODG’s smartglasses," said Raj Talluri, senior vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. "Thermal dissipation on a heavy compute but small device is very difficult so higher power efficiency is a must. The Snapdragon 835 processor, with our unique SoC design expertise on a 10nm process node, enables ODG to meet their design goals and develop lighter, smaller and sleeker smartglasses that take advantage of the new processor’s superior performance and power efficiency."

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The R-9 smartglasses

The Snapdragon-powered R-8 smartglasses are "lighter, smaller and sleeker than any other device in ODG’s portfolio", which should make their use a more attractive option for those interested in AR, VR, and Mixed Reality overlay capabilities. For their part the larger R-9 smartglasses are "based on ODG’s award-winning 50° FOV and 1080p Project Horizon platform". The company's previous smartglasses, the R-7, were powered by a Snapdragon 801 SoC.

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PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

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Source: Qualcomm

Leak alert - Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 835 runs Windows 10

Subject: General Tech | January 3, 2017 - 01:51 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, snapdragon 835, leak

Someone fired out a press release a little early and MSPoweruser spotted it in time to post it.  We now know the new 10nm ARM based design will include the new Kryo 280 CPU, Adreno 540 GPU, and a Hexagon DSP.  We do not have specific core counts or frequencies but you can't expect everything in a single leak.  Also new on this chip is the Qualcomm Haven Security Platform, offering you security baked right into the device which is a good thing when running Android.  The new design is touted as offering impressively reduces power usage,  a full day of talk time, five days of music playback, and 7+ hours of 4K video streaming; the Qualcomm Quick Charge 4 feature will supposedly charge five hours of battery life in five minutes.

Take a look at their post and the full PR right here.

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"According to the leaked press release, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 sports the Qualcomm Kryo 280 CPU (quad-core), Qualcomm Adreno 540 GPU, and Qualcomm Hexagon DSP to manage the different workloads. All of this combined together will result in a 27% increase in performance when compared to the previous generation."

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Source: MSPoweruser

CES 2017: Lenovo's Smart Assistant, Smart Storage, and Multimedia Controller

Subject: General Tech, Networking | January 3, 2017 - 03:01 AM |
Tagged: wireless keyboard, Smart Storage, smart home, Smart Assistant, Lenovo, connected, CES 2017, CES, Alexa, 500 Multimedia Controller

Lenovo is announcing a trio of new connected devices beginning with the Amazon Alexa-powered Smart Assistant.

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“The Lenovo Smart Assistant with Amazon Alexa is like having your own digital assistant at home. Featuring Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service, this voice-controlled high-definition speaker with far field microphones, is there to lend a hand whenever you need it. Want to know what the morning traffic is like? Forgot to order that book from Amazon? Longing to hear your favorite playlist? Simply ask Alexa. She has all the answers to help simplify your life. What’s more, she can even help remotely with the Amazon Alexa App, which is free to download for Android and iOS.”

The Smart Assistant offers high definition sound with a speaker system that combines a 5W treble and 10W bass speaker,  and the Harman Kardon Edition takes this further with a ported design for enhanced sound.

Next we have Lenovo’s Smart Storage, which provides up to 6 TB of connected storage over a wireless (or wired) home network.

Lenovo Smart Storage 2.jpg

“Despite this remote storage center’s compact size, the Lenovo Smart Storage comes with a big challenge: How will you and your family fill it? Capable of storing up to 6 TB of photos, movies, and other digital files, this dual-band WiFi storage system can connect wirelessly to almost any smart device you own, worldwide. You’ll maintain absolute administrative control, ensuring your data and content are secure and safe—and with Auto Sync enabled, your data will back-up automatically when within WiFi range. DLNA support also ensures you’ll be able to enjoy your movies and music on any device, anytime.”

Finally we have the Lenovo 500 Multimedia Controller, which combines a compact keyboard and touchpad in a small wireless control device for the living room.

Lenovo 500 Multimedia Controller-2.jpg

“Want to browse the web from your couch? Or turn on your favorite playlist from the dining table? We’ve got you covered with the Lenovo 500 Multimedia Controller. It’s not only a mouse and keyboard in one, it’s also a remote control optimized for your Windows operating system. With an ergonomic design and up to 8 months battery life, the versatile Lenovo 500 Multimedia Controller will make your life easier.”

The controller is designed for Windows PCs (support for Windows 7 through 10), and uses a nano USB dongle for its 2.4 GHz wireless connection. The touchpad DPI is adjustable for user preference, and the unit offers up to 8 months of battery life from a pair of AAA batteries. At 5.71 x 3.37 x 0.74 inches (and 141 grams) this is a pretty small device, but certainly larger than some of the smart TV remote keyboards certain models have shipped with.

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PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Lenovo

Mate, those optical switches are Bloody loud on that B840 keyboard of yours!

Subject: General Tech | January 2, 2017 - 03:09 PM |
Tagged: bloody, B840, gaming keyboard, input, A4Tech

The Bloody B840 is a bit of a chimera, having optical switches which incorporate a metal knob in each key to produce a click when a button is fully depressed like a mechanical keyboards keys.  Their LK Sound Creator Tech makes the keys similar to Cherry Blue in terms of travel distance and actuation force, but the actual keystroke is registered with the infrared beam that comprises the optical switch.  TechPowerUp is working on proper testing for keyboard response times, the tests they tried showed that the optical technology on the Bloody keyboard is technically faster to register a keypress, but not so much that they noticed it during use.  You can see their full review here.

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"Bloody is a new gaming peripherals brand A4Tech recently introduced. Today, we take a look at their new B840 keyboard with the new optical Bloody LK2 switch. It promises a long lifespan, extremely fast response times, and a clicky response, which is new for optical switches."

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Source: TechPowerUp!

Annoy the neighbours from the comfort of the couch; 3D printed remote controlled snowblower

Subject: General Tech | December 30, 2016 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: DIY, 3d printing

Snowblowers are noisy and not as effective as a shovel, but when it is remote controlled it certainly becomes an attractive solution.  Over at Hack a Day there is a link to a 3D printing project which gives you the plans to print out your own snowblower.  The project does encompass the entire machine, it might be prudent to look the project over and see if standard snowblower parts can be included in the build; especially if you already own one.  3D printing is growing in utility as well as popularity.

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"This year’s model features a slipper clutch — combined with a differential from a heavy RC truck — to forestall damage to the attachment if you happen to hit any rocks or ice chunks. The blades are also thicker and lack teeth in this iteration, as they would catch on anything hard and shatter the blade more often than not."

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Source: Hack a Day

Windows 10 "Game Mode" Library Spotted

Subject: General Tech | December 30, 2016 - 02:19 AM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

A new version of Windows 10 was leaked, and it apparently contains a file called “gamemode.dll”. Some people are speculating that this could be API hooks for applications to request higher priority with CPU and GPU resources, increasing performance. Microsoft gave a "no comment" to PC Gamer about the issue, but Windows Central cites anonymous sources claiming that this is the case, and it is either related or analogous to how the Xbox One multitasks.

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While I believe the DLL exists, of course, I’m skeptical about its function -- but I would bet that it’s true (given how sure everyone seems to be). Also, I’ve seen GPGPU compute times fluctuate wildly by leaving other windows open, so there is probably some overhead that the OS can reduce. It just seems weird that this has come out of nowhere.

We’ll probably find out soon, because the Creators Update (Windows 10 1703) is coming out in a few months. Whatever this DLL is, it seems targeted at that feature update.

You can also check out other features of the leaked 14997 build, listed by Paul Thurrott.

Kingston's value priced HyperX Cloud Stinger headset

Subject: General Tech | December 29, 2016 - 01:04 PM |
Tagged: gaming headset, Cloud Stinger, hyper x, kingston

Kingston's HyperX's Cloud Stinger headset is good for those who would only occasionally need a headset for gaming or a quick Skype call.  Built mainly of plastic and vinyl, it does contain 50mm drivers which offer decent bass response for gamers and action movie viewers.  The microphone offers reasonable sound reproduction and the noise cancellation feature operated acceptably when The Tech Report tested it.  If you are looking for a headset that is comfortable after extended wear or which can reproduce subtle melodies you should look elsewhere but for occasional gaming or travel duties this headset is worth investigating.

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"HyperX is making its hit gaming headsets more accessible with the $50 Cloud Stinger, a budget pair of cans that relies on a tried-and-true design and no gimmicks to promise a solid essential gaming experience. We put on the Stinger to see whether it left us buzzing."

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Frog Fractions 2 finally uncovered!

Subject: General Tech | December 27, 2016 - 01:19 PM |
Tagged: frog fractoins 2, gaming, kick ass

If you missed the wonderfully brilliant insanity which was Frog Fractions you can still play it over here, and you should!  It won't make sense at first and frankly you will still be befuddled at the end, but the trip is worth it, no matter how odd the task you are required to perform happens to be.  In order to play the second you must pick up Glittermitten Grove, as Frog Fractions 2 is now hidden within the game; the was released a while back but as of Christmas you can now find Frog Fractions 2 hidden within.  Cheers to Ars Technica for the news; have fun trying to figure out the new Frog Fractions and keep an eye out as it may appear in other places.

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"Crawford took Frog Fractions 2 in a different direction from Frog Fractions, explaining that its release would be a complex and hidden process—there might be multiple games that came together to form Frog Fractions 2, like some kind of weird Voltron; or the game might be released and hiding in plain sight for months before anyone discovers what it really is."

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Source: Ars Technica

Microsoft finally reaches step 1; admission

Subject: General Tech | December 23, 2016 - 12:54 PM |
Tagged: windows, microsoft, windows 10

Chris Capossela, Chief Marketing Officer at Microsoft, was on Windows Weekly recently and admitted, for the first time, that Microsoft may have gone a bit too far during their "Get Windows 10" extravaganza.  This shocking revelation supposedly occurred a short while after they released the version in which the red X in the popup window broke with their GUI's standard and no longer closed the window and cancelled the installation.  According to Slashdot this is the first time Microsoft have admitted to the use of excessive rendition techniques on Windows 7 and 8 users.

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"It's no secret that Microsoft has been aggressively pushing Windows 10 to users. Over the past year and a half, we have seen users complain about Windows 10 automatically getting downloaded to their computer, and in some cases, getting installed on its own as well. The automatic download irked many users who were on limited or slow data plans, or didn't want to spend gigabytes of data on Windows 10."

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Source: Slashdot

Ben Heck Show Virtual Boy Mod Complete

Subject: General Tech | December 23, 2016 - 02:12 AM |
Tagged: virtual boy, Nintendo

A few weeks ago, The Ben Heck Show tore down and repaired a Virtual Boy, with plans on making it smaller and head-mounted in a future episode. While I am a couple weeks late on sharing the second video, Ben Heck and Karen Corbeill have completed their mod, and the device is now attached to a face shield mount. They call the new device “Virtual Man”, which of course they did.

One of the best parts about The Ben Heck Show (and other DIY video worklogs) is the tricks that you’ll see. In this case, Ben Heck explains how a typical scanner can be used to get fairly accurate 2D measurements of devices, because the image is formatted in inches. (He still verifies with a caliper, though, especially since they can have slight distortion on one axis.) This could be quite useful, especially if I end up doing more animations like my Cherry MX switches.

UploadVR Tries Wireless Vive Accessory by TPCAST

Subject: General Tech | December 22, 2016 - 10:33 PM |
Tagged: VR, vive, pc gaming, htc

A little over a month ago, we reported on HTC’s announcement of the wireless upgrade kit for their Vive. It was created by TPCAST, which was a participant in HTC’s VR startup accelerator. The actual upgrade kits won’t ship until early 2017, but UploadVR was given some time with the wireless accessory. The video was shot in the UploadVR office, which makes this the first public usage outside of a controlled event as far as I am aware, but TPCAST was present.

htc-2016-tpcast-wireless-vive.jpg

Image Credit: UploadVR

It apparently works. The previewer didn’t have any real complaints about its performance versus wired, and they were satisfied with its tracking, despite doing flips and other maneuvers to try to break communication with the wireless bases. This is promising, as the 60 GHz signal, used by the wireless adapter, can be picky about anything except direct line-of-sight. That said, the video base station is designed to be placed on the ceiling, with a 160-degree FOV, so it shouldn’t be too obstructed in almost any scenario.

According to UploadVR, TPCAST claims that it adds less than 2ms of delay.

While we are on this topic, there have been rumors that HTC might announce (probably just announce) a replacement to the original VIVE unit. One possibility is that it is basically the same system, just with the wireless functionality built in, making this upgrade kit sufficient for first-generation adopters. That would probably be the only scenario, at least that I can think of, which doesn’t involve a bunch of angry 2016 buyers, though.

We’ll see when CES rolls around.

Source: UploadVR

Unity 5.6 Beta Supports Vulkan API

Subject: General Tech | December 22, 2016 - 06:54 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, Unity, vulkan

One of the most popular video game engines, Unity, has released a beta for Unity 5.6, which will be the last version of Unity 5.x. This release pushes Vulkan into full support on both desktop and mobile, which actually beats Unreal Engine 4 on the desktop side of things. Specifically, Vulkan is available for the Android, Windows, Linux, and Tizen operating systems. Apple users should be happy that this version also updates Metal for iOS and macOS, but Apple is still preventing vendors from shipping Vulkan drivers so you really shouldn’t feel too happy.

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At Unity’s Unity 2016 keynote, the company claimed about 30-60% better performance on the new API “out-of-the-box”. I do find this statement slightly odd, though, because Unity doesn’t really provide much access to “the box” without expensive source code up-sells. The most user involvement of the engine internals, for what I would assume is the majority of projects, is buying and activating a plug-in, and Vulkan would be kind-of crappy to hide behind a pay wall.

I mentioned that this will be the last Unity 5.x version. While the difference between a major and a minor version number tends to be just marketing these days, Unity is changing their major version to align with the year that it belongs to. Expect future versions, starting with a beta version in April, to be numbered 2017.x.

Unity 5.6 comes out of beta in March.

Source: Unity

Enderel, the total Skyrim conversion, is to get an expansion

Subject: General Tech | December 22, 2016 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: skyrim, Enderal, mod. expansion, gaming

If you have yet to try out the total conversion mod for Skyrim, Enderal: The Shards of Order you are missing out.  A world not quite as large as Skyrim but every bit as beautiful and full of lore is yours for free, all you need is Skyrim.  The skill trees are very different, paths are unlocked by meditation after levelling and they have added new balance to the game to prevent you from becoming easily overpowered by wandering around and bashing low level monsters.  In order to increase main skills like One Handed Weapons or secondary skills like Lockpicking, you need to purchase a training book in order to use the points gained from levelling, and they become very expensive.

Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN have been informed that the lead writer of Enderal, Nicolas Samuel and a few helpers, will be creating an expansion to the game, adding new quests and subplots.  Check out the mood trailer below.

"SureAI’s huge Skyrim total conversion Enderal: The Shards of Order [official site], which builds a whole new game upon Bethesda’s foundations, is getting an expansion of its own in 2017."

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Learn about the tech in Vive's Lighthouse

Subject: General Tech | December 22, 2016 - 12:58 PM |
Tagged: vive, valve, Lighthouse, alan yates

Curious about the tech behind Valve's Lighthouse room-scale VR positioning system for the HTC Vive?  Learn about it from Alan Yates, one of the leads on the project at Valve over at Hack a Day in a 40 minute video.  He discusses the various attempts at finding a way to make the positioning system work, from failed bearings to the eventual discovery of the optimal thickness for the mirror. If you can't wait for the second generation of Lighthouse, he also provides you with a way to get your hands on an ASIC on a breakout board which will help you build your own version.

steam-vr-lighthouse.jpg

"[Alan Yates] is a hacker’s engineer. His job at Valve has been to help them figure out the hardware that makes virtual reality (VR) a real reality. And he invented a device that’s clever enough that it really should work, but difficult enough that it wasn’t straightforward how to make it work."

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Source: Hack a Day