Happy Global Operations Day

Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2012 - 05:48 PM |
Tagged: Counter-Strike, global operations, steam, gaming

Somehow, after years of it existing as a free mod and then a part of a bundle not only are their people that still want to play Counter-Strike, they are willing to pay for the pleasure.  If you want to enjoy Counter-Strike Global Operations then you ought to get playing soon, before the hacks become available to everyone and the language in the chat hits rock bottom.  In fact, if you have purchased the game on Steam there is a good chance that it will be the game of choice after the PC Perspective Podcast tonight.  If you are on the fence, GameSpot put up a quick overview of the game here.

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"Global Operations, a putative Counter-Strike killer by Barking Dog Studios, is kind of like having to eat a banana split with your hands--just because it's a little sloppy doesn't mean it isn't still good. The game is primarily a team-based tactical shooter, combining Counter-Strike's system for cash rewards and equipment purchases, Rogue Spear's real-world settings and large weapon selection, and Return to Castle Wolfenstein's character classes and objective-based maps. For good measure, the developers have added some innovative ideas of their own to this mix. The game did ship in an unpolished state and suffers from demanding bandwidth requirements and a severe lack of servers. However, these problems are generally overshadowed by the simple fact that when everything comes together, Global Operations is one of the deepest and most satisfying multiplayer tactical shooters currently available."

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Gaming

Source: GameSpot

TSMC makes the future of 28nm a little brighter

Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2012 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, 28nm

If you like NVIDIA and AMD's current 28nm process GPUs and future APUs, you should be very happy to hear that TSMC's current 28nm process is topping 80% yield.  This means that the vast majority of silicon coming out of TSMC is good and the supply shortages we have had to become accustomed to are a thing of the past.  This also bodes well for the upcoming AMD APUs which will most likely be using TSMC 28nm silicon.  As well, DigiTimes has good news about the new Fab 15 which should vastly expand TSMC's production capability.

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"Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) 28nm processes have topped a yield rate of 80%, the Chinese-language Commercial Times cited unnamed equipment suppliers as saying in a recent report. Meanwhile, the foundry's new 12-inch fab - Fab 15 - will have a capacity of more than 100,000 12-inch equivalent wafers in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the report.

Installed capacity at TSMC's Fab 15 thus far in the third quarter has expanded by about 300% sequentially, the report indicated. Fab 15 is identified as the major wafer fab where TSMC's foundry capacity for 28nm processes will be located.

TSMC will be able to satisfy all demand from its major clients including Qualcomm, Nvidia and AMD by the fourth quarter of 2012 as it manages to boost output of wafers processed using 28nm technology, the report believes."

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Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Microsoft Opens Registration for $14.99 Windows 8 Pro Upgrades

Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2012 - 12:51 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, Windows 7, upgrade, microsoft

If you are finding it difficult to delay the purchase of that shiny new computer until after Windows 8 comes out, Microsoft has a solution for you. Thanks to the Windows Upgrade Offer, you can buy a new PC now and be eligible to upgrade to Windows 8 for $14.99.

Starting June 2nd 2012, if you purchase a new PC with Windows 7 you are eligible for a discounted upgrade to Windows 8. This ensures that you are able to run the latest Microsoft operating system even if you buy a new PC before it is released. Eligible PCs include any OEM machine pre-installed with the following operating system SKUs using a valid product key:

  • Windows 7 Home Basic
  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Windows 7 Professions
  • Windows 7 Ultimate

This does include OEM machines with System Builder (COEM) versions of Windows 7, which means if you buy a system put together by a DIY builder, you are still eligible for the discounted pricing. One caveat is that computers with Windows 7 Starter are not eligible for the discounted Windows 8 pricing.

Further, there is a maximum of five upgrades per customer and one per machine, so at most you could get five upgrades to Windows 8 at the $14.99 price when you purchase five or more new PCs.

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The $14.99 price gets you a downloadable upgrade version of Windows 8 Pro. This version can be used on any computer with a previous version of Windows installed to upgrade from. In that respect, it is just like any other upgrade version of Windows 8 and could be given to someone else if you wanted to stick with Windows 7 on your new PC. Microsoft is further willing to provide a physical copy of the upgrade, but it will cost you an additional fee (exact fee not stated).

The other limitation is that this upgrade version comes without the add-on pack that includes Windows Media Center. If you want that feature, you will have to pay for it at an undiscounted price.

The promotional period ends January 31, 2013 which is the same day that the $39.99 promotional upgrade price for everyone else ends. (No word yet on whether there will also be student promos like Windows 7 had, however.)

Microsoft’s registration page recently went live. If you are interested in getting the discounted pricing, you will need to register for the deal and provide purchase information and the product key for version of Windows that came pre-installed on your computer. Once Windows 8 is officially released on October 26, 2012 Microsoft will email you a download link and product key.

Windows 8 is somewhat controversial release but at least Microsoft is pricing it attractively.

Source: Microsoft

Hot Chips is coming and IBM has already spilled its beans

Subject: General Tech | August 21, 2012 - 03:27 PM |
Tagged: IBM, power7+, Intel, amd, hot chips

While it doesn't get the news coverage that Intel and AMD's chips do, IBM's Power series has been with us for a while and they seem really excited about the new Power7+ chip that they are about to drop.  They are so excited that they didn't even wait for the Hot Chips conference where many manufacturers will be revealing their new silicon.  For instance, the new chip will carry 32MB of L3 cache, AES and SHA-2 acceleration and models running from a modest 4 cores at 3GHz, a 4GHz 8 core model and a possible 4 core model topping 5GHz if The Register got their maths right.  Check it all out here; with more likely to come at Hot Chips next week.

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"The Hot Chips 24 conference hosted by Stanford University is next week, and IBM, Oracle, Advanced Micro Devices, Fujitsu, and Intel are expected to talk tech relating to just-announced or impending processors. But Big Blue seems unable to contain its enthusiasm for the Power7+ chip that it will talk about alongside its next-generation zNext processors for its System z mainframes."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Welcome to the New SkyDrive (Finally!)

Subject: General Tech | August 21, 2012 - 11:38 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, skydrive, microsoft, cloud storage

Earlier this month, Microsoft gave its webmail service an overhaul and rebranding from Hotmail to Outlook.com. In our preview of the service, I noted that while Outlook.com is integrated with SkyDrive, the company's cloud storage web interface was still using the same old UI. Fortunately, the company has taken the need for an updated interface for SkyDrive to heart and has given SkyDrive the same Modern-UI facelift as Outlook.com. Welcome to the new SkyDrive.

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Skydrive is now broken up into two main panels with an action bar along the top. It looks very similar to Outlook.com in that respect. The left panel contains a search box as well as links to your Skydrive folders, shared items, groups, and connected computers (with the SkyDrive app installed). The right panel is where the folders and files are displayed.

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The "Recent docs" link in the left panel does just what the name implies: opens a list of the most recently accessed documents. The "Shared" link displays a list of all the files and folders that are being shared with you. The "Groups" link opens a page in the right panel where you can create and manage sharing groups. You can create a group of people in your family with which you share out photos in certain folders, for example. Basically, it just makes it easier to share with multiple people.

Along the top is a bar with links. In the top-left corner is a Skydrive button that brings up the same Metro/Modern UI tiles that link to other Microsoft services.

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Along that same blue action bar are links to create, upload, share, and manipulate your SkyDrive data. The "Create" link allows you create a new folder or document. Using Microsoft's web apps (in the future it may integrate with the remote-accessible versions of Office 2013 but for now it's the same old Office Web Apps), you can further create new Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote documents.

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You can further use the upload button to not only add files but multiple files at a time (finally!). Unfortunately, it is still not possible to select and upload folders but the ability to select multiple files for uploading is a step in the right direction. Technically, it has been possible to upload multiple files before now, but it required you to use Internet Explorer. In order to upload entire folders, you will need to use the SkyDrive application. The "Share" button is fairly self-explanatory and works the same as it always has. You can send files in an email, post to Facebook, or get a link that you can then send to anyone you want to have access to the file(s) or folder. Finally, the Folder Actions button provides a drop-down menu that provides the following options for the selected items: download, embed, order prints, delete, move, and view properties.

Folder_Actions_Menu.jpg

In all, the action buttons have been simplified and are large enough that they should be easy to see and hit on mobile devices with touchscreens. It is much easier to navigate around as well. When you log into the SkyDrive site, it defaults to the "Files" tab and presents you with a collection of thumbnails listing folders and files. If the file is a photo or if it is a folder that contains photos, the icon will be a "live tile" that displays an icon of the photo or the photos it contains respectively (it cycles through multiple photos in a mini-slideshow). On the other hand, if there are no photos inside the folder, the icon will simply be a solid color with the file/folder name in text in the bottom-left corner of the rectangular tile. To the right of the name is a number that represents the number of files or sub-folders inside.

In my SkyDrive folder list, the tiles appear to be a bit messy as not all folders are live tiles. And when they are not live–and just a large solid colored rectangle– it results in a lot of wasted space (and relatively small text). Alternatively, there is also a more traditional details list view that presents files similar to Windows Explorer (and the traditional SkyDrive interface).

Skydrive_Folders_List.jpg

You can view photos within the SkyDrive web interface and open documents with the Office Web Apps service, but for any other files you will have to download them in order to open and view them. Just like the Outlook.com interface, you can enable the messaging sidebar to talk with your friends on the various social networks. In the bottom-left corner, Microsoft shows the amount of storage space you have remaining in your SkyDrive. If you click on "Manage Storage" beneath the remaining storage number, you get a new Metro options menu. Here you can opt into the new office web apps, disable people tagging, upgrade storage, and set the default file format to either Microsoft Office Open XML or OpenDocument Format which is nice to see.

SkyDrive_Manage_Storage.png

Overall, the new SkyDrive interface is a nice improvement offering a cleaner interface and simplified navigation. It now fits in nicely when transitioning between SkyDrive.com, Outlook.com, and the People and Calendar apps. When navigating around the SkyDrive site, it feels much more responsive than it used to, and the ability to add multiple files without needing to use Internet Explorer is a feature I've been waiting for (for a long time). Not being able to add folders is a bummer, and in that respect using the SkyDrive Windows app is still easier, but in general the new SkyDrive will make accessing my files from a remote computer using the website a more enjoyable experience!

Have you tried out the overhauled SkyDrive web interface yet?

Source: Microsoft

Does every rapper need a headset now? Ludacris' new Soul line of gaming headsets

Subject: General Tech | August 20, 2012 - 05:39 PM |
Tagged: ludacris, gaming headset, soul sl150, soul sl300, audio

While Dr. Dre partnered with Monster to create his Beats line, Ludacris went to a company called Signeo to design his headsets.  While priced similarly to Dr. Dre's offerings, [H]ard|OCP starts the review by pointing out that there are already many counterfeit models on the market and Signeo does not offer serial number verification like Monster does to ensure that you did get what you paid for.  Aesthetically [H] found the headsets to be very similar to the Beats line but preferred the audio quality of the Soul headsets.  They do warn the SL150's do let ambient noise in, so if you want noise cancellation you should pay the extra for the SL300 model.

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"Rapper Ludacris is the latest celebrity to endorse a line of trendy headphones and ear buds. Will his name and manufacturer Signeo's product design come to signify quality audio products with cutting edge looks or are these just two more pairs of glossy plastic headphones with exaggerated bass beats?"

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Audio Corner

Source: [H]ard|OCP

HP isn't out of the tablet business yet

Subject: General Tech | August 20, 2012 - 03:51 PM |
Tagged: hp, tablet, webOS

According to what The Register has heard HP and webOS are headed back into the tablet business.  After HP relinquished their hold on webOS and made it open source, as well as the PSG stop developing the TouchPad, it was thought that HP was done with tablets.  A new branch of HP has been recently created, bearing the name Mobility Global Business Unit, which has spawned numerous questions about their plans.  Will they design an ARM based tablet or look to another supplier?  Will they use webOS or perhaps MeeGO as the operating system, which will run on ARM?  So far we have more questions than answers so hopefully HP will publish an official announcement some time in the near future.

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"If you thought HP's decision to spin off its webOS division into a new subsidiary signaled the end of its adventures in the mobile market, think again. According to reports, the PC maker is reshuffling its Personal Systems Group to launch a new business unit aimed at getting HP back in the tablet race."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Register
Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Cooler Master

Introduction, Design And Features

quickfire4.jpg

The gaming keyboard market seems to rigorously follow a common rule of consumer products - more is more. If a keyboard is for gamers it should include lots of fancy gaming related features, and the more that are included, the more hardcore the keyboard. Macro buttons, customizable back-lighting and LCD screens are all features of modern gaming keyboards–and you don’t see many companies going the other direction.

But there are products that buck the trend. One of them is the CMStorm QuickFire Rapid, a mechanical gaming keyboard that became available in North America earlier this year. Unlike most competitors, the QuickFire rapid cuts features instead of adding them. Back-lighting? Macro keys? You’re kidding me, right? This keyboard doesn’t even include a numpad.

Cooler Master (the company behind CMStorm) has not cut out the features that matter, however. This keyboard comes with Cherry MX keys (the blue variant, in this case) and also supports PS/2 connections for full NKRO. For those who’ve seen the light of day recently, this gobbly gook means the QuickFire Rapid scans key activation individually and therefore can detect new key activations even when other keys are still depressed. It’s a feature hardcore gamers love because of their tendency to press multiple keys simultaneously.

Cutting back on unneeded features has a notable side effect–it reduces price. Currently this keyboard is available for $79.99 at retail or as low as $65 on Amazon.com. Only Razor’s bare-bones version of the BlackWidow keyboard sells for less, and it only beats the QuickFire by $5 dollars.

So can you really buy a decent gaming keyboard for $65, and will you miss the numpad? Let’s find out.

Continue reading our review of the CMStorm QuickFire Rapid Keyboard!!

So much for your Linux powered Retina system

Subject: General Tech | August 17, 2012 - 04:27 PM |
Tagged: retina display, macbook pro, linux

While the hardware is certainly attractive, a Core i7 3615QM, 8GB DDR3-1600, a GT 650M and of course, the Retina display at 2880x1800, the new MacBook Pro is not for Linux users ... at least not yet.  The issues Phoronix have seen with Thunderbolt on Linux also seem to extend to the MacBook Pro as a whole.  No matter what distribution they tried, the display either did not work or it mangled the image to an unusable state as you can see below.  Even worse, when Phoronix managed to at least connect to the machine in a way they could monitor it, they saw much greater power usage than with OSX.

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"If you are planning to buy one of the new Apple MacBook Pro notebooks with a Retina Display for use under Linux, hold off on your purchase. Running the Retina MacBook Pro with Linux isn't a trouble-free experience and after using even the latest development code and jumping through various hoops, Linux on the latest Apple hardware is still less than an ideal experience. Linux support will improve for the Retina MacBook Pro in the coming months, but it's not likely to see any proper "out of the box" experience until next year."

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Source: Phoronix

Podcast #214 - 2 GTX 670 Cards, AMD's HD 7950 with Boost, Microsoft Surface rumors and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 16, 2012 - 06:39 PM |
Tagged: powertune, podcast, Intel, HD7950, gtx 670, amd, 7950, 670, 660ti

PC Perspective Podcast #214 - 08/16/2012

Join us this week as we talk about two GTX 670 Cards, AMD's HD 7950 with Boost, Microsoft Surface rumors and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventanto

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 1:06:12

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Reviews:
    1. 0:01:45 AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB Boost Review
    2. 0:15:30 MSI GeForce GTX 670 Power Edition
    3. 0:24:55 Galaxy GeForce GTX 670 GC 4GB
    4. 0:28:10 Samsung Series 5-550 Chromebook Review
  2. 0:29:34 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  3. News items of interest:
    1. 0:32:30 MS Surface to be $200??
      1. Lenovo Thinkpad/Ideapad Windows 8 Pro and RT tablets
    2. 0:37:30 Corsair Acquires Raptor Gaming
    3. 0:39:30 NVIDIA Fiscal reports
    4. 0:44:00 Random videos:
      1. UT2004 LAN Party
      2. Crytek 3 Tech Demo
    5. 0:47:50 GTX 660 Ti shows up for sale at CompUSA
    6. 0:49:00 Samsung Exynos 5 Dual Core SoC. ARM Cortex A15 CPU and ARM Mali T604 GPU
    7. 0:51:20 Intel RST Windows 8 compatibility
  4. Closing:
    1. 0:53:20 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
      1. Ryan: Diamond VStream Wirless USB to HDMI
      2. Jeremy: Wireless power for the price of a penny
      3. Josh: 512 GB SSD for cheeeeeap. Or sorta cheap.
      4. Allyn: iPazzPort 2.4GHz Mini Wireless Fly Air Mouse Keyboard with IR Remote
      5. Tim: Skydrive UI rehaul
      6. Scott: FEDEX tracking info sucks...
  1. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  2. http://pcper.com/podcast
  3. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper and http://twitter.com/joshdwalrath
  4. Quakecon coverage at pcper.com/workshop. Hope to see you there!
  5. Closing/outro