Stardock Releases Sins: Rebellion Beta 2, Adds Advent Players

Subject: General Tech | April 6, 2012 - 03:42 AM |
Tagged:

Earlier this week, Stardock officially released the new Beta 2 update of the Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion 4X RTS game. Most popular for SOASE and Impulse (which has since been sold off -- they are now offering their games on Steam), Stardock has been working on the Sins standalone sequel for more than a year now. Over the past year or so, the company has push out enough teasers to drive me crazy with lust, so when the beta was finally public I jumped in with the credit card faster than The Flash.

Titan.jpg

The TEC Rebels' Titan Class Ship

Unfortunately, the first few beta updates only allowed gamers to play the TEC (Trader Emergency Coalition) and not the other two alien races. The newly released Beta 2 is now being pushed out via a Steam update and will allow gamers to play the Advent and TEC (and both sub-classes of each, Rebels and Loyalists). The game also features several bug fixes and performance improvements. Other notable changes include balance improvements, (unfortunately) the slight Titan ship nerfing, and the addition of an introduction movie sequence at the start of the game.

Sins of a Solar Empire Rebellio 2012-04-06 02-28-11-15.png

The Advent Eradica Titan Class Ship

I have not gotten a chance to play very much of the new beta 2 yet, but the first thing I noticed was an additional capital ship for the TEC Loyalists (and possibly the other classes) that is positioned as a support craft and is capable of sending out boarding parties. Pretty neat, the game overall also seems to be a bit snappier, especially when moving between menus and such. I’m more of a TEC guy than an Advent player, but I do love crushing them in battle so I’m glad to see the Advent added to the game. The only big race left is the Vasari at this point, which suggests that the game is that much closer to final release. I am cautiously optimistic that Sins: Rebellion is going to be a game worthy of my $30 bucks. Below is a video of the new introduction movie, and the full change log for the Beta 2 release can be found over at Stardock’s Forums.

Have you played the beta yet, and if so what do you make of it?

Source: Stardock

Java Vulnerability Exposed OS X Machines To Flashback Trojan

Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2012 - 10:47 PM |
Tagged: apple, OS X, Java, trojan, flashback, botnet

Recently, word of a java bug that allowed malware -- namely a trojan known as “Flashback” -- to sneak onto OS X machines started making its way around the Internet. This piece of malicious code even managed to get its claws into Apple’s OS X operating system. Bit-Tech reports that a Russian anti-virus company known as Dr.Web has identified more than 550,000 OS X computers as taking part in a botnet -- a network of computers executing malicious code in unison, which can be used to DDoS websites, assist in harvesting information, and recruit new members to the nefarious network.

Apple Macbook Air 11 Inch.png

Located primarily in the United States, Canada, and the UK the Flashback trojan infected a number of computers and granted immediate access to the attackers. They estimate 56.6% of the infected computers were located in the US while 19.8% were in Canada and 12.8% where stationed int he UK. This makes for a very widespread infection, and it has taken Apple a few weeks to push out a patch.

If you are reading this on a Mac, don’t panic. Be sure to apply the recent Apple update, and double check that your Java version you are running is Java 6 update 31. Even if you are on a Windows machine, make sure you are using the latest version of Java to keep you as secure as possible. Identifying if you are already affected is a bit tricky, but Digital Trends has posted instructions on how to find out if you are infected and provided links to several methods of virtual bug spray to get rid of the malware.

While this does not suddenly mean OS X is a buggy wasteland full of vulnerabilities as some articles have suggested, it is a gentle (and rather horrid for those that are infected) reminder to be safe out there on the Internet and that a little anti-virus combined with safe browsing habits can go a long way to keeping you safe whether you are a Windows, Mac, or Linux user. Even if it is AV that you only run every now and then and doesn’t run all the time, it can provide a bit of piece of mind by letting you know your system is clean. Also, if you have to use Java, keep it updated along with all your other programs.

Source: Bit-Tech

Podcast #196 - The new iPad, the OCZ Vertex 4, AMD FX-6200 CPU and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2012 - 04:32 PM |
Tagged: Vertex 4, ssd, podcast, ipad, Intel, gpu, FX-6200, cpu, amd, 680

PC Perspective Podcast #196 - 04/05/2012

Join us this week as we talk about the new iPad, the OCZ Vertex 4, AMD FX-6200 CPU 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 Malvantano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:10:16

Program Schedule: 

  1. Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper 
  5. 0:01:45 The New iPad (2012) Review: Pixel Power
  6. 0:07:00 SilverStone Strider Gold Evolution 1000W Power Supply Review
  7. 0:09:00 OCZ Vertex 4 512GB SSD Initial Review - Vertex Returns to its Indilinx Roots (Firmware Progression Testing)
  8. 0:25:00 AMD FX-6200 CPU Review: A Small Bulldozer Refresh
  9. 0:37:00 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  10. 0:38:50 IOLO U-NO-LOL. Ed Bott not amused by system optimizer ad
  11. 0:40:10 PC bill of materials articles creeps lower.
  12. 0:42:15 The fine waterline between genius and madness; toilet water PC cooling
  13. 0:46:15 NVIDIA urges you to program better now, not CPU -- later.
  14. 0:52:50 OCZ isn't the only one with a new drive today, Hitachi now offers a 4TB Ultrastar
  15. 0:57:00 This week: FX-6200, GTX 680 SLI and Surround Performance Testing, Z77 motherboards, MAINGEAR SHIFT system review
  16. 1:00:00 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: While GTX 680s are MIA still, HD 7970s are as low as $529
    2. Jeremy: Flying Car or Tricorder ... I can't decide
    3. Josh:  I really enjoy this game.
    4. Allyn: Koolance GTX 680 water block (in stock, oh wait, never mind, it *was* in stock an hour ago)
  17. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  18. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  19. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  20. Closing

Source:

Wireless Headsets and PC Cases Added To Vengeance Lineup

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | April 5, 2012 - 03:47 PM |
Tagged: vengeance, headset, gaming, corsair, case

Corsair announced today that a new wireless headset and gaming PC case would be joining the ranks of the existing Vengeance lineup of headsets and keyboards. Making their initial debut at PAX East this weekend, the new Vengeance 2000 wireless headset and Vengeance C70 Case will be available for purchase later this year.

The Vengeance 2000 is Corsair’s latest headset that takes the brushed aluminum, 50mm drivers, and microfiber ear cups of the Vengeance 1500, adds some blue and white accents and then cuts the cord. In pace of the USB cord, Corsair utilizes 2.4 GHz wireless to deliver 5.1 and 7.1 virtual surround sound up to 40 feet away and with a battery life of 10 hours. The headset further features a noise canceling microphone and battery that can be recharged via micro USB cable.

V2000_left.png

From the wording of the press release, it sounds like the charging cable will only act as a power cable -- meaning it will not make the headset wired. The wireless 2.4GHz radio may be problematic for gamers living in areas with lots of 2.4GHz interference (like an apartment building with lots of WiFi devices and microwaves), and in that case the wired Vengeance 1500 would be a better choice. (We are attempting to verify the wireless only aspects and will update the article if we receive a response). Update: Corsair has clarified to us that the headset is always wireless -- the USB cable is only used for charging and firmware flashing.

Arriving with two carrying handles and an ammo box aesthetic, the Vengeance C70 is ready for the war against heat with space for up to 240mm radiators (they suggest the H100) on the top and bottom or 10 total case fans. The case further features a steel front panel, eight PCI-E slots, and two removable hard drive cages with space for three 2.5” or 3.5” drives (for a total of six hard drives). The PCI-E slots and other internals use standard Philips head screws.

C70_G_handlesUP.png

The Vengeance C70 will be available in three colors: Military Green, Arctic White, Gunmetal Black. The external of the the case features large mesh grills over the fan areas. The front of the case features a honeycomb mesh for up to two fans, three 5.25” drive bays, and -- along the top -- two large buttons for power and reset with the power being the large red button (which would be difficult to resist pressing all the time). It also houses microphone and headphone jacks, and two USB 3.0 ports. All three C70 cases have two carrying handles on the top that fold down into recessed parts of the case when not being used.

C70_all3.png

The two new Vengeance entrants will be available this summer. The C70 will be available for purchase soonest -- as early as May -- with an MSRP of $139 USD. Meanwhile, the Vengeance 2000 wireless headset has an MSRP of $149 USD and will be available in June. More information on Corsair’s entire Vengeance gaming lineup is available here.

Source: Corsair

Now that is an unholy alliance; Intel, Apple and Qualcomm go after Samsung

Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2012 - 03:14 PM |
Tagged: apple, Samsung, Intel, qualcomm

Apple is getting some help in its legal quest to force Samsung out of the mobile phone business, even though Samsung is one of their major suppliers.  Both Intel and Qualcomm's legal teams have sifted through Samsung's source code and are offering more potential infringements for Apple to use in their case.  Qualcomm helped develop the 3G standard and so possess quite a bit of intellectual property that pertains to the use of 3G, while Intel owns an immense amount of telecom and chip patents which Samsung may have infringed upon.  The Register speculates on just why Qualcomm and Intel would offer their legal teams to Apple, as well as pointing out the obvious irony of Apple attacking its memory and screen manufacturer.

evil.jpg

"CHIP VENDORS Intel and Qualcomm have agreed to help Apple in a lawsuit against Samsung by providing source code, according to one of Apple's lawyers.

Apple's seemingly never ending battle with Samsung over smartphone patents will get helping hands from Intel and Qualcomm as the firms hand over source code to support Apple's case. According to Andrew Fox, Apple's lawyer, Intel's and Qualcomm's legal teams have sifted through the source code and agreed to provide it to Apple."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Anonymous hacks China, climbs hacker food chain.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | April 5, 2012 - 04:14 AM |
Tagged: China, hack, Anonymous

China has been the target of numerous successful hacking attempts by Anonymous over the last week. Many sites were defaced and in some cases data such as accounts and e-mail addresses were compromised.

Anonymous has ramped up their activism over the last six months beyond their usual DDOSing and intrusion of US government and corporate websites. Last autumn Anonymous threatened to expose members of Mexican drug cartels although that initiative faded away without too much controversy later in the year. This year they have instead assaulted the Chinese Government.

anonymous-raid.png

This could get just as messy as the drug cartels.

Much of the defacing attempts broadcast, in both English as well as Chinese, messages about the Chinese Government and their practices. One such message states:

Your Government controls the Internet in your country and strives to filter what it considers a threat for it. Be careful. Use VPN for your own security. Or Tor.

The attacks have been sustained for over a week at this point. 486 compromised sites have been listed on Pastebin as of March 30th. There does not appear to have been any public response from the Chinese Government at this point.

What sticks out to me the most is how widespread the attack on Chinese online infrastructure appears to have been despite China’s traditional focus towards cyber security. Regardless of who you are, or what you have previously been capable of, you need to take security seriously as true security is extremely difficult.

Source: ZDNet

CM Storm QuickFire Pro: Full NKRO over USB?

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | April 4, 2012 - 04:51 PM |
Tagged: cooler master, mechanical keyboard

Cooler Master announces the Cooler Master Storm QuickFire Pro mechanical keyboard available soon in four different CHERRY flavors. They claim full N-Key Rollover (NKRO) through USB, which is a first to my knowledge.

Higher-end keyboards seem to be growing further and further in fashion as of late.

Cooler Master jumped into the mechanical keyboard market with their QuickFire Rapid release in late 2011. The Rapid was available in Cherry MX Blue and Cherry MX Red switches. The Rapid was a Tenkeyless design, sparing you the width of a number pad if you do not wish to have one.

cm-storm.jpg

Of course only the Pro keyboard would have a numpad… only accountants use it or something.

Cooler Master has obviously found that the Rapid a successful product as they will launch a sister design allegedly sometime this month. The Storm QuickFire Pro is a partially backlit full-sized keyboard. The Rapid Pro will be available in Cherry MX Blue, MX Brown, MX Black, and MX Red switch designs. If you are curious about the differences between keyboard switches then check out my explanation in the Rosewill RK-9000v2 review.

The most interesting feature of this keyboard is their claim of full NKRO through USB. Traditionally in order to press every button down on a keyboard you are limited to using a PS/2 connection. Recent research at Microsoft increased the USB limit to approximately 18 keys from the usual 6kro. I would be curious to see someone put that keyboard through Aquakey to verify those claims.

The QuickFire Pro is expected to have an MSRP of $99.99. If they are like other keyboard manufacturers, that likely depends on the switch used.

Fancy a peek at the Diablo III beta?

Subject: General Tech | April 4, 2012 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: gaming, diablo iii

While we cannot offer you a way to get into the beta, it is possible to show off a game play movie made by Slashdot, or two.  The release of this gaming is fast approaching with just over a month to the May 15th release date ... assuming no more delays occur.  From the video we learn that the developers have made the stats autolevel so that players do not have to worry about breaking their character with poor stat choices.  Many skills will be tied to the equipment you are wearing and so will not be a permanent choice, swapping your equipment will change your skills.  Hopefully Slashdot is right when they state the developers spent a lot of time toning down the tedium and raising the level of fun.

hackandslashdot.png

"It's been almost four years since Diablo 3 was announced, and its development began years earlier. Its predecessors helped define the action RPG genre, so anticipation is high among fans of the franchise. The game has undergone closed beta testing since September, and a lot has changed since then. Now that Blizzard has settled on May 15th as a release date, we thought this would be a good time to take a look at the state of the game as it currently exists. These two videos show actual gameplay of the various classes, explain the skill and rune systems, take a look at the auction house, and go over many of the other changes since the beginning of development."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Source: Slashdot

OCZ isn't the only one with a new drive today, Hitachi now offers a 4TB Ultrastar

Subject: General Tech | April 4, 2012 - 01:07 PM |
Tagged: ultrastar, sata 6Gbs, hitachi, 7K4000, 4TB

There aren't any benchmarks yet to see what the new Hitachi Ultrastar 7K4000 4TB HDD but with the similarities to the 3TB model some assumptions can be made.  The 7200RPM drive contains five 800GB platters and a 466Gbits/in2 areal density with a 64MB cache and a rated sequential transfer rate of up to 171MB/sec.  They also managed to increase the energy efficiency of the drive somewhat, using 24% less watts per GB while offering 33% more storage.  The Register reported on both this drive as well as the 4TB Thunderbolt edition which was recently released.

hgst_7k4000.jpg

"Hitachi GST has laid a nice Easter egg: a 4TB enterprise disk drive and a first at this capacity level. It's HGST's second 4TB product.

This 3.5-inch drive technology first surfaced in September when Hitachi GST launched its 4TB G-Drive external Thunderbolt product. Now it has updated its Ultrastar line, jumping from the 3TB 7K3000 to this 7K4000 product."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

NVIDIA urges you to program better now, not CPU -- later.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | April 4, 2012 - 04:13 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, Intel, Knight's Corner, gpgpu

NVIDIA steals Intel’s lunch… analogy. In the process they claim that optimizing your application for Intel’s upcoming many-core hardware is not free of effort, and that effort is similar to what is required to develop on what NVIDIA already has available.

A few months ago, Intel published an article on their software blog to urge developers to look to the future without relying on the future when they design their applications. The crux of Intel’s argument states that regardless of how efficient Intel makes their processors, there is still responsibility on your part to create efficient code.

nvidiainteltf2.jpg

There’s always that one, in the back of the class…

NVIDIA, never a company to be afraid to make a statement, used Intel’s analogy to alert developers to optimize for many-core architectures.

The hope that unmodified HPC applications will work well on MIC with just a recompile is not really credible, nor is talking about ease of programming without consideration of performance.

There is no free lunch. Programmers will need to put in some effort to structure their applications for hybrid architectures. But that work will pay off handsomely for today’s, and especially tomorrow’s, HPC systems.

It remains to be seen how Intel MIC will perform when it eventually arrives. But why wait? Better to get ahead of the game by starting down the hybrid multicore path now.

NVIDIA thinks that Intel was correct: there would be no free lunch for developers, why not purchase a plate at NVIDIA’s table? Who knows, after the appetizer you might want to stay around.

You cannot simply allow your program to execute on Many Integrated Core (MIC) hardware and expect it to do so well. The goal is not to simply implement on new hardware -- it is to perform efficiently while utilizing the advantages of everything that is available. It will always be up to the developer to set up their application in the appropriate way.

Your advantage will be to understand the pros and cons of massive parallelism. NVIDIA, AMD, and now Intel have labored to create a variety of architectures to suit this aspiration; software developers must labor in a similar way on their end.

Source: NVIDIA Blogs