Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Topre

Ultimate Topre

There are cars that get you from point A to point B, and then there are luxurious grand touring cars which will get you there with power, comfort, and style - for a price. Based on the cost alone ($269.99 MSRP!) it seems like a safe bet to say that the REALFORCE RGB keyboard will be a similarly premium experience. Let’s take a look!

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There is as much personal taste at issue when considering a keyboard (or dream car!) as almost any other factor, and regardless of build quality or performance a keyboard is probably not going to work out for you if it doesn’t feel right. Mechanical keyboards are obviously quite popular, and more companies than ever offer their own models, many using Cherry MX key switches (or generic ‘equivalents’ - which vary in quality). Topre keys are different, as they are a capacitive key with a rubber dome and metal spring, and have a very smooth, fast feel to them - not clicky at all.

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“Topre capacitive key switches are a patented hybrid between a mechanical spring based switch, a rubber dome switch, and a capacitive sensor which, combined, provide tactility, comfort, and excellent durability. The unique electrostatic design of Topre switches requires no physical mechanical coupling and therefore key switch bounce/chatter is eliminated.”

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Continue reading our review of the Topre REALFORCE RGB Keyboard!

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!

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"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."

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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.

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"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."

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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.

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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. 

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"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."

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Source: The Register

This is System Shock, not to be confused with System Shock

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2017 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: system shock 3, gaming, starbreeze

We have gone from no new System Shock to a pair of them, good news for fans of the series.  The Kickstarter reboot we already know about, with many mixed opinions about the move to the Unreal Engine, however the recently announced System Shock 3 is a totally different beast.  This sequel is being produced by Starbreeze and will not involve crowd sourcing.  Having migrated from a space station to starship it will be interesting to see what location is chosen for the third; as it is in early development they did not let Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN in on the secret.  We anxiously await examples of the art style and other details from Starbreeze and will let you know as they arrive.

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"Starbreeze are putting $12 million towards System Shock 3 [official site] in a publishing deal, the Swedes announced today. Publishing deals are rarely exciting enough for us to mention but this means ..."

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Let's get patching

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2017 - 12:11 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, patch tuesday

Patch Tuesday arrived, after a delay of a month thanks to a SMB bug which was announced just prior to our scheduled day of updating.  That particular SMB issue was patched by a third party and today you can get it directly from Microsoft if you decided to live dangerously during the shortest month of the year.  The list of fixes include the traditional Adobe Flash patch as well as numerous others which you should really get around to installing before the podcast tonight.  The Register were kind enough to provide links and a summary of what each patch is intended to repair, you can read about them all here.

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"These flaws range from a hypervisor escape in Hyper-V, remote-code execution via PDF and Office files and malicious SMB traffic, to the usual barrage of information leaks and privilege escalations."

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Source: The Register

Is it truly, Truly Ergonomic?

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2017 - 05:53 PM |
Tagged: Truly Ergonomic, kailh brown, mechanical keyboard

Ergonomic keyboards have come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and tend to be either loathed or loved.  Truly Ergonomic release the tenkeyless board you can see below, a bit of a change from the usual design which separates the keys on a much larger angle and incorporates Kailh Brown switches into the design.  At 234 x 327.6 x 38.1mm (9.2 x 12.8 x 1.5") it is of similar size to most TKL boards and much smaller than other ergonomic designs, especially if you chose to remove the wrist rest.  TechPowerUp tried it out and ran into some strange issues, troubles with USB 3.x connectivity and the ability to brick the keyboard requiring disassembly to return it to working condition.  On the other hand, their wrists were happy with the layout; read the full review here.

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"The Truly Ergonomic Keyboard in its current revisions 227 and 229 aims to get past the issues that plagued the predecessors to re-establish a loyal customer base. It features all new switches, updated firmware, support for niche keyboard layouts, full programmability and more in a form factor smaller than most keyboards."

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Source: TechPowerUp

Now that's dense storage; single atom storage

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2017 - 11:54 AM |
Tagged: nm, storage

As we are not going to see scanning tunnelling microscopes included in our home computers anytime soon this experiment is simply proof of the concept that data can be stored on a single atom.  That does not make it any less interesting for those fascinated by atomic storage techniques.  A single atom of holmium can be made to spin either up or down, signifying either a 0 or 1, and that spin state can be 'read' by measuring the vibration of a single iron atom located close by.  The holmium atoms used for storage can be separated by a mere nanometer without interfering with the spin of its neighbours.  The spin state only lasts a few hours but shows that this could someday be a viable storage technology.  You can read more at nanotechweb, who also have links to the Nature article.

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"Information has been stored in a single atom for the first time. The nascent binary memory was created by Andreas Heinrich at the Institute of Basic Science in South Korea and an international team."

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Source: Nanotechweb

Epic Games Releases Zen Garden Demo for WebAssembly

Subject: General Tech | March 13, 2017 - 08:02 PM |
Tagged: webassembly, ue4, mozilla, epic games

HTML5 was a compile target for Unreal Engine since Unreal Engine 3, but it was supposed to be a bigger push for Unreal Engine 4 then it has been. At the time, Mozilla was pushing for web browsers to be the main source of games. Thanks to Flash, users are even already accustomed to that use case; it’s just a matter of getting performance and functionality close enough to competing platforms, and supporting content that will show it off.

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That brings us to Zen Garden. This demo was originally designed to show off the Metal API for iOS, but Epic has re-purposed it for the recently released web browser features, WebAssembly and WebGL 2.0. Personally, I find it slightly less impressive than the Firefox demo of Unreal Tournament 3 that I played at Mozilla Summit 2013, but it’s a promising example that big-name engines are taking Web standards seriously again. You don’t get much bigger than Unreal Engine 4.

So yeah... if you have Firefox 52, then play around with it. It’s free.

Source: Mozilla