Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2012 - 04:07 PM | PCPer Staff
Tagged: deals, deal of the day
Roku 2 XD Streaming Media Player for $89.97 with free shipping @ PC Richard (normally $99.99).
17.3" Toshiba Satellite L870D-BT2N22 AMD dual-core A6 Laptop for $449.99 with shipping based on location @ Toshiba Direct (normally $529 - use coupon code FALL870DA).
15.6" Dell Inspiron 15R Core i5 Ivy Bridge Laptop w/ 8GB RAM, 1TB Hard Drive for $549.99 with free shipping @ Dell (normally $799 - use $150 coupon code 52M3R113NS8KSB).
Dell XPS 8500 Core i7 "Ivy Bridge" Quad-Core Desktop w/ 8GB RAM, 2TB HDD & 1GB Radeon HD 7570 graphics for $749 with free shipping @ Dell (normally $999 - use $100 coupon code V48PR?HP99J3D?).
OCZ Agility 2 60GB SSD (OCZSSD2-2AGTE60G) for $29.99 with free shipping @NewEgg (normally $79.99 - use $25 mail-in rebate form).
240GB OCZ Agility 3 SSD (AGT3-25SAT3-240G) for $149.99 with shipping based on location @ CompUSA (normally $200 - use $20 mail-in rebate form).
500GB Western Digital Passport USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive for $54.99 with free shipping @ CompUSA (normally $89.99 - use coupon code: RYF72559).
20" HP W2072a LED-backlit LCD Monitor for $89.99 with free shipping @ HP (normally $109.99 - use coupon code: SVP471394).
Cisco Linksys RE1000 Refurbished Wireless-N Wi-Fi Range Extender/Bridge for $34.19 with free shipping @ Cisco (normally $89.99 - use coupon code: HSDISH5).
60" LG 60PA5500 1080p Plasma HDTV for $899.99 with free shipping @ Dell (normally $1,100).
Cisco WVC210 Wireless-G Security IP Camera for $123.49 with free shipping (normally $299.99 - use coupon code: HSDISH5).
Thoughts about Interface Design in General
I have been in several situations where a variety of people claim the gamepad is superior for gaming because that is what it was designed for. No elaboration or further justification is given. The controller is designed for gaming and is therefore clearly better. End of – despite often being start to – discussion in their minds.
Really it is a compromise between the needs of popular games and the environment of a couch.
Interface design is complicated. When you design an interface you need to consider: the expected types of applications; the environment of the user; what you are permitted to use; what tolerances are allowed; what your audience is used to; and so on, so forth. There is a lot to consider when you design an application for a user and I could make an educated guess that it is at least as hard to design the input device itself.
The history of keyboard design is a great example of tradeoffs in input devices.
Sometimes it is better to be worse...
The first wave of keyboards were interfaces to the mechanical typewriter. These keyboards were laid out in alphabetical order because as long as each key is accessible and the user could find the letter they wanted – who cares, right? We already have an order for the alphabet that people understands so the users should not have too much difficulty in finding the letter they need.
Another constraint quickly game to light: typists were too fast and the machines jammed.
The engineers now needed to design an input method which could keep up with the typist. Correcting the machine itself was somewhat futile so the solution was to make the typist as slow as possible. The most common letters in the English language were spread all over the place and – while possibly by fluke – the left hand is favored, as in made do more work, over the often dominant right hand.
The problem required making the most aggravating keyboard layout engineers could imagine. QWERTY was born.
Subject: General Tech | October 6, 2012 - 05:16 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, programming, IDE, adafruit
The popular, if elusive, Raspberry Pi had the original intent to be a cheap computer capable of introducing kids to programming. In furthering that goal, Adafruit has been working on a programming IDE (Integrated Development Environment) with a simple interface designed to be accessible to beginners. The so-called "WebIDE" is installed on the Raspberry Pi and then can be run on any other networked computers from within a web browser. It syncs your programming code with Github competitor Bitbucket as well.
The Raspberry Pi WebIDE is currently in alpha and can now be downloaded by the public for those Raspberry Pi users adventurous enough to test it out. Adafruit has put together an installation guide as well as made an install script available to simplify installation. The WbIDE acts like any other programming environment in that you can add and edit files as well as test code on the Raspberry Pi hardware. Hitting "Run" on a program will open up a terminal on the Pi and execute your program, allowing you to develop your code on the hardware it will be used on. Further, it has an automatic update feature for the IDE software itself.
Because of its in-development alpha status, the current release is likely to be somewhat buggy and rough around the edges. Adafruit recommends that only experienced users install it at this time. While there is no ETA on a final release, Adafruit has stated that "it is certainly our intention to get this solid and ready for all users, and we will let everyone know when we think it is at that point."
This definitely seems like a useful piece of software if you picked up a Raspberry Pi to learn programming. You can find the full Raspberry Pi WebIDE guide in PDF form on the Adafruit website.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 5, 2012 - 01:31 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, w700, tablet, ssd, Ivy Bridge, Intel, acer
First announced at Computex 2012, Acer is finally ready to share all the details (including pricing) on its upcoming Iconia W700 Windows 8 tablet.
For the uninitiated, the W700 is the top-end tablet in its Iconia W series. It will be based on an Intel Ivy Bridge Core i3 or Core i5 processor, 64GB or 128GB SSD, HD4000 graphics (intel processor graphics) and a battery that allegedly provides up to 8 hours of usage. That hardware is powering a 11.6” IPS display with 10-point multitouch and a resolution of 1920x1080. It further features a rear 5MP camera with autofocus and 1080p video recording and a front-facing webcam capable of recording 720p video.
The tablet also includes 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi as well as various sensors for map applications including a(n oddly named) “G-sensor,” accelerometer, and an E-compass. [No mention of a GPS chip though, so it’s unclear how useful the other map technology will be…]
External I/O includes three USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt port, micro HDMI port, headphone output jack, and DC power jack.
Because of the Ivy Bridge CPU, the tablet has ventilation slots along the top edge of the tablet. It is less than half an inch thick and weighs in at 2.3 pounds.
Also relevant is that the Acer Iconia W700 will have an accessory dock that will hold the tablet in portrait mode at 70 ° for reading or 20 ° for an angled touchscreen. The dock can also hold the W700 tablet in portrait mode for reading ebooks and the like. A Bluetooth keyboard and micro-HDMI to VGA adapter are also available as bundled accessories.
Engadget takes a tour of the Acer ICONIA W700 Windows 8 tablet.
As far as new information goes, the W700 will be available on October 26 (Windows 8’s release day). There will be several SKUs with different levels of hardware (ie. Core i3 vs Core i5). MSRPs of the W700 tablet will range from $799.99 to $999.99 depending on the particular hardware configuration. Further, if you are an Acer corporate customer, you will be able to get the W700 tablet with an extended two year warranty and Windows 8 Pro for $1,049.99. You can find read the full press release on the Acer website.
The prices do seem to be on the high end for a Windows 8 tablet, but ASUS’ leaked Windows 8 tablet prices are not far off.
Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2012 - 10:08 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, gtx 650ti, gpu, geforce
Earlier this year, specifications for an as-yet-unreleased GTX 650 Ti graphics card from NVIDIA leaked. At the time, the rumors indicated that the GTX 650 Ti would have hardware closer to the GTX 650 than the GTX 660 but still be based on the GK106 Kepler chip. It would have a 128-bit memory interface, 48 testure units, and 576 CUDA cores in 1.5 GPCs (3 SMX units). And to top it off, it had a rumored price of around $170! Not exactly a bargain.
Welll, as the launch gets closer more details are being leaked, and this time around the rumored information is indicating that the GTX 650 Ti will be closer in performance to the GTX 660 and cost around $140-$150. That certainly sounds better!
The new rumors are indicating that the reference GTX 650 Ti will have 768 CUDA cores, and 64 texture units, which means it has the full two GPCs (so it is only missing the one-half of a GPC that you get with GTX 660). and four SMX units. As a point of reference, the GTX 660 – which NVIDIA swears is the full GK106 chip – has five SMX units in 2 and a half GPCs.
The following image shows the layout of the GTX 660. The GTX 650 Ti will have the GPC on the far right disabled. Previous rumors suggested that the entire middle GPC would be turned off, so the new rumors are definitely looking more promising in terms of potential performance.
Specifically marked GK106-220 on the die, the GTX 650 Ti is based the same GK106 Kepler chip as the GTX 660, but with some features disabled. The GPU is reportedly clocked at 925MHz, and it does not support NVIDIA's GPU Boost technology.
Memory performance will take a large hit compared to the full GK106 chip. The GTX 650 Ti will feature 1GB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 1350MHz on a 128-bit memory interface. That amounts to approximately 86.4 GB/s bandwidth, which is slightly over half of the GTX 660's 144.2 GB/s bandwidth. Also, it's just barely over the 80 GB/s bandwidth of the GTX 650 (which makes sense, considering they are both using 128-bit interfaces).
The latest rumors indicate the GTX 650 Ti will be priced at around $140 with custom cards such as recently leaked Galaxy GTX 650 Ti GC on Newegg costing more ($149). These new leaked specifications have more weight than the previous rumors since they have come from multiple leaks from multiple places, so I am hoping that these new rumors are the real deal. If so, the GTX 650 Ti becomes a much better value that it was rumored to be before!
You can find more photos of a leaked GTX 650 Ti over at Chiphell.
Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2012 - 05:28 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: qualcomm, hsa, APU, amd, AFDS
The HSA Foundation announced today that Qualcomm would be joining as its newest Founder-level member. The mobile ARM System on a Chip company joins AMD, ARM, Imagination Technologies (the company who licenses out PowerVR graphics), MediaTek, Samsung, and Texas Instruments. Reportedly, the HSA Foundation has doubled its total members since its inception in June where it was announced at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit (AFDS 2012).
Senior Vice President of Engineering at Qualcomm Jim Thompson has stated that the company is joining the HSA Foundation in an effort to standardize aspects of heterogenous computing. Those programming and hardware standards will then be incorporated into devices running future Snapdragon ARM processors.
HSA Foundation President Phil Rogers welcomed the mobile communications giant to the organization by stating the following.
“It’s great to see an innovative company like Qualcomm, which has revolutionized the wireless communications market, placing their support behind HSA.”
It is unclear from the press release where Qualcomm and the HSA Foundation will go from here, but it is promising to see additional companies lending their expertise to further heterogeneous computing standards. Here's hoping that the HSA Foundation is the opposite of the PC Gaming Alliance and actually gets things done to further the technology. After all, AMD is betting the company on APUs and could likely benefit from a big HSA programming standard push and the low power computing prowess of the ARM chip designers in its ranks.
Podcast #221 - Intel Clover Trail, AMD's Trinity Desktop APUs, the Samsung 840 SSD with TLC, and more!
Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2012 - 02:56 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: trinity, TLD, ssd, Samsung, podcast, nand, clover trail, APU, a8, A10-5800k, a10, 830
PC Perspective Podcast #221 - 10/04/2012
Join us this week as we talk about Intel Clover Trail, AMD's Trinity Desktop APUs, the Samsung 840 SSD with TLC, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom Allyn Malvantano, and Scott Michaud
Program length: 1:21:21
Podcast topics of discussion:
- Week in Reviews:
- 0:49:00 This podcast is brought to you by alxTech
- News items of interest:
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2012 - 01:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: microsoft, win8, surface, google, Android, nexus 7, Samsung, Pegatron
Two companies which for the most part sold software only are making a name for themselves in the hardware sector, in two very different ways. Google's Android has become quite a player and the upcoming release of the Nexus 7 platform is anticipated by many mobile players because Google has no intentions of making its own phones. Instead they will make their money licensing the platform to a variety of established cellphone and tablet manufacturers, as they have in the past. According to what DigiTimes has heard, Microsoft is going in the exact opposite direction with Surface and will be continuing with the same plan as their tablet, which has already caused negative backlash from many of the major player in the market such as Acer. Designers of Microsoft Win8 based phones are required to use the same platform and interface in order to meet the requirements of Microsoft's licensing agreement which will make phones difficult to differentiate as competitors are very limited in the customization they can offer, at least on the software side. To make the market even more confusing, Microsoft is reaching out to Pegatron to manufacture their own branded Surface phone, which will find its self in direct competition with the phones from established players, the ones Microsoft is count on to license the portable version of Win8. It would be hard to come up with another way that Microsoft could make licensing their new OS even less attractive for OEMs and ODMs.
"Google and Microsoft both reportedly plan to extend the Nexus 7 and Surface tablet lineups to include smartphones as a means to further increase the penetration of their own platforms, but the two companies will implement the strategies in a different tune, according to industry sources.
Google aims to launch smartphones based on its Nexus 7 platform in cooperation with a number of smartphone branded vendors with Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Sony Mobile Communications and HTC likely to be potential partners, said the sources.
On the other hand, Microsoft is reportedly tapping ODM maker Pegatron for the production of WP8-based smartphones slated for launch in the first half of 2013, the sources indicated."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- How To Make Movies in Linux With OpenShot @ Linux.com
- Refined hack opens locked hotel rooms… with a magic marker @ ExtremeTech
- Home Automation and the 'Internet of Things' @ AnandTech
- ASUS RT-N66U Dual-Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit Router Review @ Legit Reviews
- Will Elpida be gobbled by a rival or get a multi-billion cash jab? @ The Register
- Red Dwarf Series 10 on Dave @ 9PM BST today
Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2012 - 11:06 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Thinkpad, production, OEM, Lenovo
In an interesting move, PC OEM Lenovo has announced that it will be moving a small portion of its production lines to the United States. The company will be opening the production line in its recently expanded 240,000 sq. ft. US distribution center to add capacity for a production line that will produce Think-branded computers. That includes Thinkpad notebooks, tablets, desktops, workstations, and servers. Lenovo CEO and Chairman Yuanqing Yang stated the following in the company’s press release.
“Lenovo is establishing a U.S. manufacturing base because we believe in the long-term strength of the American PC market and our own growth opportunities here.”
Lenovo believes that the new facility would create 115 new jobs. It has further stated that the move to US production of its OEM machines will enable the company to provide faster delivery to US-based companies and educational institutions. That might give Lenovo a small advantage when bidding against other companies for large contracted orders.
The result of a $2 million investment, the new production line is expected to open in early 2013. It will be located in Whitsett, North Carolina. Reportedly, hiring for the 115 new positions will begin later this year.
More information can be found on the company's website.
Personally, I think it’s a great thing to see manufacturing come to the US, even if it is not a huge number of new jobs – it’s a good start and if Lenovo sees potential it may move more of its production capacity over here.
Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2012 - 06:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Kickstarter, kick ass, Nexus, Nexus 2, gaming
The original Nexus: The Jupiter Incident can be hard to explain to those who believe the only RTS game style involves a base and focuses on harvesting resources in order to produce masses of cloned troops of different styles and tiers. It is similar to Homeworld in that it involves fleet battles and races with differing technologies and spaceships but that is where the similarity ends. There is no mothership nor do you collect resources to spawn more ships, instead you start with a set amount of ships and equipment to outfit those ships at the beginning of the mission and if you happen to lose a ship to enemy fire that ship is gone; if you are lucky you might get a replacement next mission. The ships can be outfitted with a variety of weapons and equipment, from shield destroying beam weapons to hull destroying missiles to close support fighters, your choices are limited only by the supplies available not the amount of money or resources you collected. The pace is much slower but then the missions are unforgiving and simply having a ship out of place could spell disaster for your entire squadron. At $10 on Steam if this sounds even slightly interesting you should pick it up!
The reason it is worth mentioning this 8 year old game is that the Most Wanted Entertainment and most of the original dev team have launched a Kickstarter program to fund the creation of the sequel, Nexus : The Gods Awaken. Keeping the original feel, as they put it "a game for Admirals, not Project Managers", and updating the game to modern specifications with the use of the Unreal Engine, perhaps not an exact match to the two tech demos released over the past few years, in fact perhaps even better. Ship design is planned to be modular which will allow greater customization of your task force as well as enabling the inclusion of larger, better designed space stations and capital ships. You will get full control over the design of your fighters, bombers and gunboats, which may make watching them die while protecting your ships a more personal experience than in the first game. You can also expect to see familiar faces and two new alien races, not to mention the one you already went up against but only if they get enough money to get this project off the ground.
Kickstarter is quickly becoming a way for game companies to finance the creation of a game without needing a large publisher behind them and when tied with a release on Steam it also reduces the need for a distributor. Many will loudly scream that this will lead to a fragmentation of the gaming industry as not everyone will hear about the release of a game, as well as leading to the release of games not destined to be blockbusters. You can safely ignore them, another Halo game should come out soon and they will stop paying attention and let those who like a game for what it is and not what the advertising says get on with supporting projects like this. If you feel the same, head to the Kickstarter site and toss them a few coins!
"The gameplay of Nexus is everything the discerning Space Admiral could desire. Alongside improvements and polish across the board to existing graphics and gameplay, there is also a wealth of new features to expand and enrich the gameplay to ever-greater heights.
The Psis are a new class of NPC, who can be added to the crew of certain ships. Each Psi has a unique power, allowing them to influence the course of battle, and turn a lost cause into a triumphant victory."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Borderlands 2 Gameplay Performance and IQ @ [H]ard|OCP
- Sleeping Dogs Gameplay Performance and IQ @ [H]ard|OCP
- Borderlands 2 @ LanOC Reviews
- Resident Evil 6 @ The Inquirer
- Tekken Tag Tournament 2 @ The Inquirer
- Borderlands 2 PhysX Performance Review @Hi Tech Legion
- Strung out on Borderlands 2 @ The Tech Report
- F1 2012 PC Review @ eTeknix
- Make Something Unreal Live Is “Genetics and Genomics” @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Feeding The Machine: Gas Guzzlers Demo @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- FIFA 13 PlayStation 3 @ Tweaktown
- FIFA 13 (PS3) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Mark of the Ninja Review (XBLA) @ Kitguru
- Resident Evil 6 Review (Xbox 360) @ Hardwareheaven