Planescape: Torment, the 'it just works version'

Subject: General Tech | March 29, 2017 - 03:03 PM |
Tagged: gaming, planescape, GOG

Planescape: Torment is an RPG that has a special place in a lot of peoples memories as one of the games stood out as being the best example of its genre.  GOG have sold it for a while now, allowing people to revist the game or experience what exactly it is all the older gamers are reminiscing about.  The problem has been that in order to make it run on newer machines with screens with resolutions somewhat better than 640x480 you needed to apply a lot of mods and hope for a bit of luck as things would often go horribly wrong.  Today the Beamdog Enhanced Edition was announced, though places like Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN have already had a chance to play it.

The graphics are upscaled to the resolution of your desktop but not overly polished so you will definitely notice this is not a modern game.  On the other hand the quests are still there and it is not like many recent games feature a tour through the Outer Planes?  You can grab it at GOG for 30% off if you already own the original, or pay $20 otherwise.  You should also check out the changelog RPS captured from the webpage, there are some rather amusing notes found within for those who have played the game before.

pst7s.jpg

"Not played PST before? PSTEE is all the invitation you need. Native high-res support, scaleable UI, a few helping hands and most of all it just works. Played PST before? Well, like me, the last time round you probably did it modded, and as such PSTEE, though a smoother ride, won’t feel particularly revelatory. If it’s your first time back since 1999, however, rest assured that it treats your memories well."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Get ready to meet your Creator. The next major Win10 update draws nigh

Subject: General Tech | March 29, 2017 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: windows 10

Ars Technica takes you on a walk through the upcoming Creators Update for Windows 10, which will start being installed on machines in just under two weeks.  Starting with the good, there are some interesting new features, such as Edge now being able to display EPUB titles natively even if you will not have the ability to mark up those pages as you can websites.  It also sees the inclusion of Windows Holographic API, though as of yet nothing apart from MSPaint seems to benefit from this addition.  Game Mode will also appear for users, with support for both win32 and UWP applications, though you will have to adjust settings in the non-UWP to enable the new feature.

There is a long list of other changes, for both better and worse, which you can check out in the full article.

oobe-privacy.png

"The next big update to Windows 10 is nearly upon us: Windows 10 version 1703, known as the Creators Update, will be published to Windows Update next Patch Tuesday, on April 11th."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Ars Technica

Tencent Purchases 5% of Tesla Motors

Subject: General Tech | March 29, 2017 - 03:04 AM |
Tagged: tesla, tencent

Five percent of Tesla Motors has just been purchased by Tencent Holdings Limited. For our audience, this could be interesting in two ways. First, Tesla Motors is currently home to Jim Keller, who designed several CPUs architectures at AMD and Apple, including AMD’s K8, Apple’s A4 and A5, and AMD’s recent Zen. Second, Tencent has been purchasing minority chunks of several companies, including almost half of Epic Games, five percent of Activision Blizzard, and a few others, but the move into automotive technologies is somewhat new for them.

tesla-2016-logo2.png

From Tesla’s perspective, Tencent could be strong leverage into the Chinese market. In fact, Elon Musk tweeted to Bloomberg Business that they are glad to have Tencent “as an investor and advisor. Clearly, this means that they consider Tencent to be, in some fashion, an adviser for the company.

Personally, I’m curious how Tencent will affect the energy side of the company, including their subsidiary, SolarCity. I don’t really have anything to base this on, since it’s just as “out of left field” for Tencent as automotive technologies, but it’s something I’ll be occasionally glancing at none-the-less.

Source: Ars Technica

Dubai Future Accelerator Program Backs zSpace

Subject: General Tech | March 28, 2017 - 09:54 PM |
Tagged: zspace, VR, AR

A few weeks ago, we posted about an education company that joined the Khronos Group’s OpenXR Working Group for VR and AR APIs. As I mentioned at the time, I have a personal interest in education technologies, due in part to my background before joining PC Perspective. While the education field is in need of more than just technology, companies like zSpace are building infrastructure to deliver information in new and more varied ways, which will hopefully reach more students (and reach the rest more deeply).

As for the news: after the previous post, zSpace followed up to let us know that they’ve been accepted into the Dubai Future Accelerators (DFA) program. This is a fairly large (hundreds of millions of dollars, USD) investment fund that primarily focuses on their amount of innovation. The fund has a handful of “challenge” areas, such as health and water / electricity, that are considered for the “public good” and thus eligible. I’m guessing zSpace qualified under “Knowledge and Human Development Authority” but their press release doesn’t elaborate.

Previously accepted companies, according to Forbes, are Honeywell and Hyperloop.

I'm not sure how much of our audience is focused in the education / IT sector, so let us know in the comments if you found this follow-up relevant to you. (PC Perspective allows anonymous comments, so you don't have to jump through too many hoops to leave your opinion.)

Source: zSpace

Teasing a little information out of AMD about Vega

Subject: General Tech | March 28, 2017 - 01:04 PM |
Tagged: amd, Vega, rumour, HBM2

The Inquirer have posted a tiny bit of information about AMD's upcoming Vega and as any rumours about the new GPU are hard to find it is the best we have at the moment.  AMD's claim is that the second generation HBM present on the 4GB and 8GB models could offer equivalent memory bandwidth to a GTX 1080 Ti, which makes perfect sense.  The GTX 1080 Ti offers 484 GB/s of memory bandwidth while AMD's R9 series first generation HBM offers 512 GB/s.  The real trick is filling that pipeline to give AMD's HBM2 based cards a chance to shine and which depends on software developers as much as it does the hardware.  As well, The Inquirer discusses the possible efficiency advantages that Vega will have, which could result in smaller cards as well as an effective mobile product.  Pop over to take a look at the current rumours, here is hoping we can provide more detailed information in the near future.

AMD-Vega-Radeon-Next-Generation-GPU-1920x1080.jpg

"AMD HAS TEASED more information about its forthcoming Vega-based graphics cards, revealing that they will come with either 4GB or 8GB memory and hinting that a launch is imminent."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Blizzard Announces StarCraft Remastered and a Patch

Subject: General Tech | March 28, 2017 - 02:55 AM |
Tagged: starcraft, pc gaming, blizzard

On the night of the GSL Season 1 finals, and the week of StarCraft’s 19th birthday, Blizzard made a couple of announcements associated with the game. First, the game will receive a patch (1.18a) with an official observer mode, improved support for Windows 7, 8.1, and 10, support for the UTF-8 character set, and a couple of bug fixes.

It will also be made free. Anyone can download and play it.

But... if you want a graphical upgrade, Blizzard also announced the (not free) StarCraft Remastered edition. This will arrive in the summer, and it will include new audio and artwork, bringing the early-Windows 9x graphics up to 4K (with 1080p cutscenes). The gameplay will be the same, to the point of even being cross-play compatible with the original game’s multiplayer. The addition of Battle.net skill-based matchmaking will apparently be exclusive to owners of the Remastered edition, though.

The 1.18a patch will arrive in a couple of days, making the original (non-Remastered) game free. The Remastered edition will arrive in the summer, but no word on price yet.

Source: Blizzard

Is picking up Bloody's B820R gaming keyboard a bright idea?

Subject: General Tech | March 27, 2017 - 01:32 PM |
Tagged: bloody, B820R Light Strike RGB Animation, gaming keyboard, input, LK Optic Switch

We have seen a handful of Bloody keyboards on the market, with their unique take on switches.  They use an LK Optic Switch as opposed to a mechanical switch, it detects keypresses when an  photosensors detect an interruption in the beam emanating from the infrared LEDs within the keyboard.  The other difference in the design comes from the RGB feature, instead of being integral to the key they are actually installed in the body of the keyboard.  Benchmark Reviews have become somewhat expert at Bloody keyboards, check out what they thought of this model in their full review.

B820R-4-1.jpg

"In this article for Benchmark Reviews, we’ll take a closer look at the Bloody B820R Light Strike RGB Animation Gaming Keyboard, and determine if this latest offering has what it takes to set itself apart from the rest of the mechanical keyboard market."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Enable Flash for a $5 FedEx coupon?

Subject: General Tech | March 27, 2017 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: security, flash, fedex, coupon

FedEx seems to be indicating they are not quite ready for Adobe Flash to go away, by offering certain customers a $5.00 coupon to enable it.  This was likely triggered by the mass migration of browsers from Adobe's much beleaguered media program; Chrome only loads Flash content after user intervention and both Edge and Firefox will soon discontinue support as well.  The offer is for FedEx Office Print customers but you can certainly take a peek yourself if you want to try it, though The Register cautions against abusing it lest we all lose the benefit.  There is a link to download Flash on FedEx's website but if you do decide to update or install Flash we would suggest you head straight to Adobe to get it.

FedEx.jpg

"The offer's being made to users of FedEx Office Print, the custom printing tentacle of the transport company. FedEx Office Print lets customers design posters, signs, manuals, banners and even promotional magnets."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

The clean cut Gigabyte GA-AB350-Gaming 3

Subject: General Tech | March 24, 2017 - 06:27 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, AB350-Gaming 3, b350, amd, ryzen

The design of the Gigabyte GA-AB350-Gaming 3 is quite spartan, but don't let that fool you as it is heavily infected with RGB-itis.  This brand new AMD motherboard is a hair thinner than your average ATX motherboard, at 305x230mm but that doesn't mean the board is lacking in features.  There is a single x16 PCIe 3.0 slot, and a sole x4 PCIe 2.0 slot with three  x1 PCIe 2.0 slots for additional cards.  Of the six SATA ports, only four can be used if you install an M.2 SSD, a reasonable pool of drives for most.  There is HDMI 1.4 and DVI connectors on the back, along with a half dozen USB 3.1 ports on the back of which two are Gen 2 and four Gen 1.  Check out the full review at Modders Inc.

ab350g319.jpg

"AMD is back with a new CPU line-up that brings competitive performance once again against Intel’s current generation of processors at a lower price. In true AMD fashion, the AM4 motherboard line offers the same value alternative as well, offering the latest features similarly found on the latest generation Intel processors natively including USB 3.1 Gen 2, M.2 NVMe support …"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Modders Inc

Rosewill expands into audio with a pair of earbuds

Subject: General Tech | March 24, 2017 - 03:37 PM |
Tagged: rosewill, EX-500, EX-700, earbuds, audio

Earbuds do not seem as popular as gigantic RGB sporting over the ear headsets, but there are still a few who prefer a more subtle approach to mobile audio.  The Rosewill EX-500 and 700 look similar but hide some differences inside.  The EX-500 uses a ceramic driver and a 10 mm dynamic driver while the EX-700 has a balanced armature driver and an 8mm dynamic driver.  That means there is a difference in impedance, 33 Ohm and 26 Ohm respectively though both retain a range of 20-40 kHz.  TechPowerUp tried both of these $40 earbuds out, read on to see what differences they found in the audio.

closeearpiececomp.jpg

"The recently launched Rosewill EX-500 and EX-700 aim to take on the usual brands that dominate the price range by offering high-quality craftsmanship coupled with a nice accessories pack and - of course - better sound. We listen closely to see whether they can hold up on these promises."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: TechPowerUp

Have a 3D printer? Why not set up a Kinect based 3D scanner to go with it?

Subject: General Tech | March 24, 2017 - 01:36 PM |
Tagged: kinect, 3d scanning, microsoft

You may have seen a similar project in the past, if not this might be something you should check out.  If you have seen it, the process has matured somewhat and the quality of the imaging has improved.  In addition to the Kinect and a decent PC, you will need to install the The Kinect SDK and Kinect Explorer, along with Reconstruct Me, AutoDesk 123D Catch  and Skanect.  Drop by Techware Labs to read through the setup instructions and see if this project catches your imagination, or if there are updates to the process your own Kinect scanner might benefit from.

ReconstructME-software.jpg

"How many times have you sat there and thought about getting a 3D Scanner? If you are in to 3D printing then it’s probably a lot. If you go online and look for a 3D scanner you will find a lot of them with extremely high price tags. From $120 - $32,000. Seems a bit crazy on the high end but you are paying for the resolution. The idea behind a 3D scanner is that you use a laser that bounces back to a camera to tell it the contours of the model. Well what does a Kinect do? It scans a body for motion tracking using lasers and a camera. BINGO, there is a 3D scanner waiting to be used."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

That's not ominous; so called crimeware installed in 10 industrial plants

Subject: General Tech | March 23, 2017 - 12:43 PM |
Tagged: security, siemens, crimeware

This story at The Register raises more than a few concerns, the first of which being that Dragos, the industrial cybersecurity firm which detected the infection called it crimeware.  This is a lovely term for the media to try to explain why computer security is important but carries little valuable information for those wondering exactly this breach entails.  We are all well aware that malware and viruses are used for criminal purposes; not for the benefit of the users who get infected.

It gets better, the infected code was first detected in 2013 and was flagged a false positive.  This infected software has been installed on the Siemens programmable logic controllers of at least 10 industrial plants and in some cases for at least four years.  The insecurity of Internet of Big Things is much scarier than the issues with the IoT, a hacked camera can ruin a person or families day, a hacked power grid has ruined the day of entire countries.

"The cyber-nasty is packaged as software to be installed on Siemens programmable logic controllers (PLC), we're told. At least 10 industrial plants – seven in the US – were found running the infected software, a study by industrial cybersecurity firm Dragos claims."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

X-Factor versus Delta Force; does your DX version matter right now?

Subject: General Tech | March 22, 2017 - 02:31 PM |
Tagged: gaming, dx11, dx12

We are finally starting to see a diverse enough field of games capable of running in both DX11 and DX12 which makes it much easier to see performance pattern differences.  [H]ard|OCP tested out Rise of the Tomb Raider, Hitman, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, BF1, The Division, Sniper Elite and AotS on AMD's RX480 and NVIDIA's GTX 1080 and 1080 Ti.  In almost all cases the difference between the two APIs were negligible and neither offers significant performance benefits to owners of these cards.  The one exception was Sniper Elite 4 which did see some performance deltas, especially on the RX480.  Check out the full review to see for yourself.

1854.directx12v5.png

"We play latest games with DX12 support and find out which is faster, DX12 or DX11? We use the latest drivers from NVIDIA and AMD to find any advantages in this GPU focused review. We’ll get to the bottom of the question, "Should I be running this game in DX12 or DX11 in order to get the best real world gaming performance?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Is your Joy-Con joyless? The fix is in

Subject: General Tech | March 22, 2017 - 01:07 PM |
Tagged: Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, Joy-Con

The Nintendo Switch seems to be rather popular around these parts but it would seem that not all is wonderful in the land of Zelda.  There have been a slew of reports that the Joy-Cons which Nintendo shipped initially have wireless connectivity issues which interfered with users abilities to use them.  Some enterprising minds cracked the controller open and added a wire to enhance the range and reliability of the Joy-Con's connection.  Ars Technica reports that Nintendo is now offering a fix to customers who are experiencing this issue, they will pay for the shipping back and forth to the repair depot and at least in one case the turnaround was five days.  The fix is a piece of metal-coated conductive foam which should allow you to enjoy your new toy; Nintendo have modified the new models they are shipping to ensure new customers do not run into this problem.

Tantrum.jpg

"Opening up the fixed controller showed that Nintendo didn't have to do much to correct the connection issue. The only apparent difference is a small piece of black foam sitting on top of the corner of the controller board that houses the Bluetooth antenna trace."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Ars Technica

A call to ARM in the server room

Subject: General Tech | March 21, 2017 - 12:23 PM |
Tagged: server, SBSA, arm

As we mentioned last week, Qualcomm's new Centriq 2400 Platform will run Microsoft server operating systems on ARM chips, however there are those who believe it is already too late for that to save Microsoft's hold on the data centre.  A few years ago ARM started work on developing what they called Server Base System Architecture, essentially creating a standardized way in which any OS can communicate effectively with an ARM chip, the same sort of standardization which originally won the server room for x86 based chips.  With ARM's DynamIQ Technology, which Josh discusses in depth, just around the corner their hardware is also becoming more attractive.  Pop by The Register for more details on this possible industry sea change.

centriq2400.PNG

"Cutting to the heart of it, it doesn't actually matter if Microsoft releases Windows Server for ARM. Windows isn't the future and even Microsoft knows it. The upcoming availability of SQL server on Linux is all the proof we need that the game is over and, in the data centre at least, Microsoft didn't win."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

HyperX's Alloy FPS, available in a wide variety of your favourite flavours of Cherry

Subject: General Tech | March 20, 2017 - 03:55 PM |
Tagged: hyper x, HyperX ALLOY FPS, Cherry MX

If you are a gamer with a very specific definition of what a proper key switch is then check out HyperX's new Alloy.  You can choose between Cherry MX Blue, Brown, or Red switches, depending on your particular preference.  The design is not particularly ostentatious, the bezel has been lowered to fully expose the keys, handy for those who like to swap caps as well as aiding in cleaning.  The Tech Report gave this keyboard high marks at the $100 MSRP and even higher at the $80 price tag it is frequently available at.

bezels.jpg

"HyperX's Alloy FPS keyboard delivers a no-nonsense typing experience with Cherry MX switches. We put this pared-down mechanical keyboard under our fingers to see whether HyperX struck the right balance of solidity and simplicity."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Hack a Day Prize kicks off today for those with creative spirits and skills

Subject: General Tech | March 20, 2017 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: hackaday prize, contest

The 2017 Hack A Day Prize kicks off today and for anyone thinking of joining, or who has a project they have started or are thinking of starting then you should sign up as there is a huge list of prizes.  In addition to the grand prizes are prizes awarded in five different categories, the first of which is for project design, you don't need a physical product to win this category, a best design plan with details on how the project could help change the world from the better will walk away with the first prize.  The design purpose also matters, your plan might not compete in the IoT category but could soar in the wheels, wings, and walkers or assistive technology portions of the contest.  Check out the rules and regulations and pop a bookmark into your browser to see what the winners and runners up have created!

Capture.PNG

"We have over $250,000 in cash going out to hundreds of entries this year. The Grand Prize of $50,000 is joined once again this year by the Best Product Prize of $30,000. Four other entries will place second through fifth and receive $20k, $15k, $10k, and $5k respectively."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Hack a Day

Microsoft is making friends again, no new Win 7/8 updates for new chips

Subject: General Tech | March 17, 2017 - 01:11 PM |
Tagged: ryzen, kaby lake, microsoft, Windows 7, windows 8

KB4012982 describes the error you will see if you attempt to update Windows 7 or 8.x on 7th generation Intel processors, AMD Bristol Ridge and newer or Qualcomm "8996" and more recent models.  Microsoft has implemented the hardware based obsolescence which they had discussed several months ago when they stated that new chips would need Windows 10 to run.  This move will of course be heralded as brilliant and no one could possibly find this upsetting in the least, especially not in this Reddit thread.  It is a good thing Microsoft does not have a near monopoly in the market and that anyone who does not support this decision can choose from a wide variety of easily implemented alternatives.

Expect there to be workarounds, the vast majority of Enterprise customers have no interest in moving their infrastructure to Windows 10, nor the budget available to do so if they wanted.

Capture.PNG

"Microsoft has started the process of built-in obsolescence to current hardware by blocking updates of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 to Intel 7th Generation (Kaby Lake), AMD Ryzen and Qualcomm Snapdragon 82x processors."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Reddit

The power of CUE: CORSAIR's New Tenkeyless K63 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2017 - 01:30 PM |
Tagged: K63, corsair, mechanical keyboard, input, CUE, cherry mx red

Corsair have released a new mechanical keyboard for those aching for something new to type on.  The K63 has an MSRP of $80 and comes with Cherry MX Red switches to go with the red back lighting.  They chose to leave the numpad off of this model but did include media buttons at the top as well as a Windows key lock to prevent you from accidentally hiding the game you were playing.  Read the full PR below the post.

K63_04.png

FREMONT, CA –March 16th - CORSAIR, a world leader in enthusiast memory, PC components and high-performance gaming hardware today announced the new K63 mechanical gaming keyboard. Continuing the CORSAIR legacy of top-quality, high-performance gaming keyboards, the K63 combines tenkeyless design, precision CHERRY MX Red mechanical keyswitches, a full complement of media keys and per-key red LED illumination. What’s more, K63 offers all this at a price that puts mechanical performance within reach of gamers wanting to step up their game to the next level. The result is a perfect combination of mechanical precision, advanced gaming features and a space-saving design that makes it ideal for compact desktops or gamers on-the-go.

Packing the best of CORSAIR keyboards into a new compact size, the K63 boasts a host of features ready to match the most demanding games. Beneath its sleek exterior and gold-contact CHERRY MX Red key switches, per-key red LED backlighting vibrantly illuminates each key. With the power of CORSAIR Utility Engine (CUE) software, every key’s lighting can be controlled individually, allowing for virtually unlimited lighting customization and control. CUE software also allows for near endless programmability, with every key individually reprogrammable with alternative commands, custom macros or dynamic lighting effects.

Dedicated volume and multimedia controls located at the top of the keyboard offer easy access to audio adjustments in-game, while dedicated Windows Key Lock and brightness adjustment buttons allow gamers to keep distractions to a minimum at crucial moments. Precision and accuracy are nothing without control, and the K63 delivers when it matters most. 100% Anti-ghosting with full key rollover ensures that every press of the keyboard is registered, no matter how many keys are pressed simultaneously, or how fast you press them.

CORSAIR K63 Specifications

  • 100% CHERRY MX Red mechanical keyswitches: Gold-contact CHERRY MX mechanical gaming keyswitches deliver the ultimate performance and competitive advantage.
  • Per-key red LED backlighting and large font keycaps: Brilliant red LED backlighting enhances the experience with dynamic and virtually unlimited lighting adjustability.
  • Compact, tenkeyless design: Great for travel, and you’ll have more room for your mouse.
  • Dedicated volume and multimedia controls: Control to adjust media on-the-fly, without interrupting your game.
  • 100% Anti-ghosting with full key rollover: No matter how fast your in-game actions are, your keystrokes always register the way you intended.
  • The power of CUE: Fully programmable with CUE to assign macros to any key and create dynamic lighting effects.
  • Windows Key Lock mode: Stay focused and prevent accidental Windows and Context Menu key presses.

Availability, Warranty and Pricing
The CORSAIR K63 is available immediately from the CORSAIR worldwide network of authorized retailers, and distributors and is backed by a two-year warranty and the CORSAIR worldwide customer support network.

Source: Corsair

Industrial strength hacking

Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2017 - 12:51 PM |
Tagged: iot, scary, scada, security, ics

The Register posted a cheerful article today, discussing the security of the other Internet of Things, which they have dubbed the Internet of Big Things.  Botnets formed out of compromised toasters, refrigerators and webcams is one thing; taking over power stations and industrial equipment is quite another.  Citizens of the Ukraine know the dangers all too well, having had their power grid taken offline once in 2015 and again more recently by nefarious means.  Take a read through to learn about how vulnerabilities in systems such as the Industrial Control System and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition could be used to cause significant harm, as well as a search engine reassuringly named Shodan. 

SHODAN.jpg

"The Internet of Big Things exists because it makes perfect sense to have accessibility to equipment from afar. Industrial systems are complex, specialist items and for many such systems it’s common for there to be only a handful of qualified maintenance staff in the country, continent or world."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register