ZeniMax Awarded $500 Million USD in Oculus Lawsuit

Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2017 - 08:19 PM |
Tagged: zenimax, VR, Oculus, facebook

On May 1st, 2014, ZeniMax, who owns id Software and Bethesda Softworks, sued Oculus VR, claiming that it had some ownership of their virtual reality technology. This accusation occurred about a month after Facebook announced that they were acquiring Oculus for $2 billion USD. At least part of their claim was due to work that John Carmack did before he left id Software the year prior, in August 2013.

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Today, a North Texas jury awarded ZeniMax $500 million USD from Oculus. This figure is broken down as follows: $300 million against Oculus as a company, $50 million against Palmer Luckey as an individual, and $150 million against Brendan Iribe as an individual. The jury found John Carmack wasn’t responsible for any damages as an individual, so he’s clear of this whole issue.

Oculus and Facebook plan to appeal their judgments.

According to this decision, the jury believes that ZeniMax has some ownership over Oculus’ trademark and source code copyrights. They also believe that, again, according to the verdict, which is hosted by Ars Technica, Oculus violated a non-disclosure agreement that caused $200,000,000 in damages to ZeniMax, but will not continue to damage the company in the future. (See the few pages before Page 49, inclusive.) The personal judgments against Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe are due to the pair not acknowledging ZeniMax’s contributions to Oculus.

Update (February 2nd @ 12:30pm EST): As pointed out in the comments, that was an old tweet from 2014. I just came across it and somehow missed the date stamp. My mistake!

After this decision, John Carmack tweeted:

 

 

As always, lots of things can change during the appeals process. For now, it looks like both ZeniMax and John Carmack received a little vindication, though.

Source: Ars Technica

You load 58GB and what do you get? A prettier settlement Garvey says is facing a threat

Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2017 - 01:50 PM |
Tagged: gaming, fallout 4

Arriving soon on Steam for Fallout 4 owners is an texture update which is rather impressive in size.  Not only do you need the space to fit a game that will triple in size but the hardware requirements have gone up, at the least an i7-5820K, 8GB GTX 1080 or RX 490 8GB and  8GB of RAM is recommended.  You will be able to add the content on Steam and easily remove it if your box is not quite up to the task. Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN were also told next week is bringing new features to Mod content.  Follow the link for screenshots.

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"Can your box blast bonny Boston? Is your rig ready for the roof felt? Can your hog handle HD hats? Is your silicon-snorting framecrusher pumped for 60 reps of sand a second? Will your deck deck the decking? Read on for the system requirements."

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Microsoft's hot new idea for the server room; IR lasers

Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2017 - 12:51 PM |
Tagged: wireless, servers, firefly

Forget LiFi, Firefly uses infrared lasers to transmit data and torture acronyms.  Researchers out of Penn State, backed by Microsoft, are working on a way to get rid of the wiring in your server room and replace it with IR lasers and mirrors; hold the smoke.  By using multiplexed beams, they have created a proof of concept test which allows bi-directional data streams at 10 gigabits per second though there is some work to be done before it is ready for a full test.

The mirrors would be MEMs controlled, ensuring that the signal should theoretically be able to reach any receiver, even ones obscured by other equipment.  Anyone sick of cable management or looking for new ways to keep people out of the server room can take a peek at the link to the research that The Register posted.  On the other hand, the simple act of walking into your server room, setting down a box or even a leaf on the wind would be likely to cause downtime.  Could protective goggles might be the newest sysadmin fashion faux pas? 

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"Shown off at Photonics West 2017 in San Francisco, Firefly (acronymically tortured out of Free-space optical Inter-Rack nEtwork with high FLexibilitY, we kid you not) proposes FSO to provide multiple 10 Gbps inter-rack links."

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Source: The Register

Razer Announces Yellow Mechanical Keyboard Switch

Subject: General Tech | January 31, 2017 - 07:49 PM |
Tagged: razer, mechanical keyboard

Since they ended their reliance upon Cherry’s MX line of switches, Razer created / co-created their own line. Until this month, desktop keyboards contained one of two, color-coded entries: the Razer Green or the Razer Orange mechanical keyboard switches. The Green is designed to be similar to the Cherry MX Blue, with a 50cN activation force and a clicky response. The Orange, on the other hand, aims at the Cherry MX Brown, with a 45cN activation force and a bumpy response, without a click. As such, both of them have some sort of feedback at the point of activation.

(One cN weighs about as much as a gram on the surface of the Earth.)

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This month, Razer announced the Razer Yellow switch. They are claiming this one is linear and silent, with an activation force of 45cN. Comparing back to my table, you would see this fits right in with the Cherry MX Red switch, although Razer has, again, changed the design slightly, mostly around travel distance. I’m personally not really a fan of linear switches on keyboards, mostly because I type and I tend to bottom them out. Still, they are a beloved option for many, and now Razer provides the option.

The Razer Yellow switch is just available in the Razer Blackwidow Chrome V2 at the moment.

Source: Razer

NVIDIA Bundle launches today! For Honor or Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands

Subject: General Tech | January 31, 2017 - 12:57 PM |
Tagged: game, nvidia, GTX 1080, gtx 1070, For Honor, tom clancy, Ghost Recon Wildlands

Today NVIDIA offers a new free Ubisoft game for those picking up a GTX 1070, GTX 1080 or a system containing one or more of those cards.  You can choose either For Honor, an arena stlye game pitting Knights, Samurai and Vikings in hand to hand combat or Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands which will lie somewhere between Arma and Just Cause.  Neither game is yet released, For Honor arrives February 14th while Ghost Recon Wildlands doesn't launch until March 7th but you can get an early look at the game.

NVIDIA has also made the process to collect your game somewhat easier, as long as your GeForce and Ubisoft accounts are linked you can simply enter the code to chose your free game.  If you are one to avoid Uplay at all costs you could always give your code away as a gift.

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"We are also debuting a new easier way to redeem codes through GeForce Experience, it means customers no longer have to tolerate long sign up webpages but can simply enter their code within GeForce Experience itself and have their choice of game automatically added to their Uplay account."

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Source: NVIDIA

Basemark's VRScore PC, the World's First Comprehensive VR Benchmark

Subject: General Tech | January 30, 2017 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: Basemark, VRScore, VRTrek

Basemark's VRScore, which went into early access nearly a year ago is now officially available, with some versions arriving in the coming months.  There will be a total of five versions ranging from a simplified Free version to a Corporate Premium which allows system builders to automate their testing.  Most users will be interested in the Professional version, which offers customization and detailed analysis; similar to Basemark's current products or the difference between 3DMark free and paid for verions.  Even without a headest, the 4k 3D benchmark can offer you a glimpse into how your system would perform if you did purchase one.

The engine used in the benchmark is the latest CryEngine with support for DX11 and 12 and they have fully vetted the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and OSVR HDK2 for testing.  Not only do you get to see the world of Codename: Sky Harbor but if you purchase one of the corporate editions you get a physical headset latency tester, the VRTrek.  It measures the latency in both eyes simultaneously, providing benchmarkers with detailed analysis on the performance of the headset.

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You can read the full PR below the fold.

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Source: Basemark

Full Steam ahead! Cache your games in this DIY cache server

Subject: General Tech | January 30, 2017 - 12:42 PM |
Tagged: steam, cache, Nginx, ubuntu

There are tricks to managing your Steam library if you are running low on space or simply setting up something new, from tricking Steam by copying files manually or the new feature which allows you to move games from within Steam.  One other possible way to manage your time and bandwidth is to build yourself a small little webserver which caches any Steam game you have downloaded locally, so you can reinstall them without using up your bandwidth.  Those familiar with Riverbed appliances and the like will already be familiar with this process but many gamers may not be.  Ars Technica walks you through the build and teaches a bit about caching and basic webservers along the way; check it out you are not already well versed in setting up something similar.

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"But there’s an alternative to having to re-download all your Steam games from the Internet: you can set up a local Steam caching server, so that once you download something, you’ve got it on your LAN instead of having to reach for it across the net and incur usage fees."

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Source: Ars Technica

Toshiba Plans To Spin Off Storage Business, Sell 20% Of New Company

Subject: General Tech, Storage | January 29, 2017 - 05:09 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, nand, flash storage, flash memory, business

ZDNet is reporting that Toshiba is in a bit of a financial bind following losses from acquisitions and its Westinghouse division -- which saw massive losses and cost overruns in the US Nuclear market -- which could amount to billions of dollars. In an effort to offset some of those losses and preserve shareholder equity, Toshiba plans to spin off its memory business into a new company and then offer up to a 20% stake in that new company for sale. The new company would include its memory chip and SSD business though its image sensor division would stay with Toshiba and not be part of the spin off.

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Toshiba is the second largest memory manufacturer behind Samsung and it is one of the company's most profitable divisions making up the majority of its operating profit.

The company is hoping that other companies or investors will be interested in a piece of that business and that the company will be able to raise enough money from the sale of up to 20% of the spin off company to make up for the losses incurred in its US nuclear market ventures.

Toshiba plans to hold a shareholder meeting in March to seek approval for the plan stating that if it us unable to proceed with the plan and complete a sale to bring in cash by the end of its fiscal year (the end of March), “shareholder equity could be wiped out.”

It is interesting that Toshiba is once again having a bit of corporate drama and needing to restructure (it sold off its PC division in 2015). This could be a good opportunity for one of the smaller memory makers or even one of the spinning rust manufacturers to become more relevant in the flash storage space (and if having a stake got them access to IP for their own stuff even better though that would probably cost them a ton more!). Alternatively, the stake could be bought up by an a large company that just wants a profit machine to grow even larger (heh).

Hopefully the guys will discuss this bit of news on the podcast! What are your thoughts?

Source: ZDNet

Asus Enters Single Board Computer Market with Tinker Board

Subject: General Tech | January 29, 2017 - 12:53 AM |
Tagged: asus, tinker board, Rockchip, rk3288, cortex a17, Raspberry Pi, sbc, 4k, kodi, xbmc

Asus is jumping into the single board computer market with its 90MB0QY1-M0EAY0 Tinker Board. With a physical layout matching the latest Raspberry Pi 3, the Tinker Board offers up faster hardware including support for 4K H.264 video decode.

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The single board PC offers up the following I/O options:

  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1 x HDMI 2.0
  • 1 x Micro SD (UHS-1)
  • 1 x Micro USB (for power)
  • 1 x Audio (192 Hz / 24 bit)
  • 40 pin header (28 pin GPIO)
  • 1 x CSI (camera)
  • 1 x DSI (display)
  • PWM and S/PDIF solder points

Asus has opted to use a 32-bit ARM processor to power the device rather than the 64-bit SoC found in the Raspberry Pi 3. Specifally, Asus is using the Rockchip RK3288 which features four ARM Cortex A17 CPU cores clocked at 1.8 GHz and a Mali-T764 GPU. The SoC is paired with 2GB of LPDDR3 memory and wireless radios for 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0.

Compared to the Raspberry Pi, the Asus Tinker Board has twice the RAM and allegedly twice the processing power with GeekBench score of 3,925 versus the Pi’s 2,092. The Mali-T764 GPU is capable of 4K H.264 (and 10-bit H.265) video decoding which makes it better than the Pi which can only do 1080p in hardware. The cores are clocked faster on the Tinker Board but obviously do not support 64-bit instructions. The increase of system memory is perhaps the biggest boon for those looking to use it for a cheap desktop or media streamer. And for those using analog audio, Asus has included its own audio solution that is, at least on paper, much better than the Pi's.

The Asus SBC reportedly uses up to 5 watts of power with an average power usage of 2.25 watts when playing back a 1080p video with a HDMI display attached.

The Tinker Board at launch is compatible with Debian OS and Kodi media playback software.
The physical layout matches that of the Pi meaning it should be compatible with cases and is potentially a drop in replacement for products powered by a Pi so long as it can supply enough power.

It is currently available from British retailer Farnell for ‎£45.83 ($56.91) or ‎£55 ($68.30) with VAT. It does not appear to be avaiable on this side of the pond quite yet but you can import it if you want to get your hands on it.

More competition in the single board PC space is a good thing, but I do wonder how successful the Asus Tinker Board will be. It is faster, but it is also nearly twice as expensive as the Pi. A lot is going to depend on how well it is received by the software and modding communities and how well Asus supports that Rockchip processor with various Linux distributions and applications at launch and over time. The Pi’s VideoCore IV GPU is closed source and getting information from Broadcom is a pain, but at least it is a known quantity at this point and the boards using it (like the Pi) have the market share and community support to get things working with it. I am also curious how well the audio solution works and whether or not the Gigabit Ethernet port can actually hit gigabit speeds.

What are your thoughts on the Asus Tinker Board?

Source: Farnell

BPainter Add-on Extends Painting in Blender

Subject: General Tech | January 27, 2017 - 11:03 PM |
Tagged: Blender

These days, 3D content is created mostly by blocking out geometry, then painting materials onto it with stencils and stamps. For instance, if you wanted a rusty sign, you would start with a metal base, stencil on the logo, then paint, stamp, or stencil rust spots, scratches, and whatever else. When you’re done, you can then export the resulting, 2D textures. Previously, you would bounce back and forth between Photoshop and your 3D application, trying to remember which edge on your UV outline corresponds to which triangles on the model.

While this Blender Plug-in doesn’t have the same benefits as something like Substance Painter, and its library of PBR materials, BPainter can allow you to paint separate layers and channels on your 3D model. In other words, you can paint scratches and scuffs into the roughness channel, and colors into the albedo channel, directly on top of your model, which immediately shows you the results in your scene’s lighting. Again, this is less direct than “select steel from material library” “fill steel on object” “select rusted steel from material library” “paint rusted steel on object” but it’s a welcome plug-in none-the-less.

Unless one has been announced in the last week, there is currently no release date for BPainter. Their last plug-in, Asset Sketcher, was released under the GPL license.