Cooler Master slims down the mechanical keyboard; check out the Quickfire

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2012 - 02:57 PM |
Tagged: input, mechanical keyboard, cherry mx blue

The recent move to mechanical keys has really opened up the keyboard market and choosing one is now about more than just a few backlights or media buttons.  Scott has done a great job in showing what is meant by a mechanical keyboard as well as the differences between the main types in a recent article.  One drawback to the mechanical keyboards is their size, they tend to be on the large side and are not the most easy portable of keyboards.  Benchmark Reviews found a keyboard that might offer the best of both worlds, Cherry MX Blue switches on a trimmed down shell.

CM_Storm_QuickFire_Rapid_Top.jpg

"Although mechanical keyboards have been making a comeback in recent years many of the design are quite bulky in comparison to their rubber dome counter parts. Looking to fill this area of the market Cooler Master designed the Storm QuickFire Rapid mechanical keyboard using the venerable Cherry MX Blue switches, fit into a comfortable 14" x 5" design. This makes the QuickFire Rapid perfect for LAN parties or mobile workers who may want a better typing experience than their laptops are able to offer. Benchmark Reviews will evaluate if the Cooler Master QuickFire Rapid is the perfect pint size keyboard or if corners were cut in order to meet size and price goals."

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Not everyone wants a giant phone ... some of us never understood "Going Metro"

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2012 - 12:12 PM |
Tagged: win8, windows 8, Metro

As many have done recently, The Tech Report downloaded the consumer preview of Windows 8 to try out the new interface from the perspective of a power user.  While many glowing reviews of the OS have come from those who love the idea that their computer could just become a big phone, those of us who do far more with PCs have run into issues.  One of the nastiest changes seems to be the complete removal of the Start button and breaking the registry hack that would restore it on the earlier beta version.  The obvious preference for a touch interface makes keyboard and mouse control awkward at times, though once you manage to start the program you are looking for the response is the same as it was on previous versions of Windows.  Not all was doom and gloom however, there are some positive points to designing a consistent touch interface which will work on your phone, tablet, laptop and desktop.

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"In his latest blog post, TR's David Morgan gets acquianted with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and explores how the Metro interface affects the traditional desktop."

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And now for a brief commercial break...

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | March 4, 2012 - 04:29 AM |
Tagged: ultrabook, Intel

Intel… really likes Ultrabooks.

Over the last year Intel has been attempting to push their Ultrabook platform in an attempt to promote the PC platform as both elegant and mobile. They only want to do what is best for the PC -- especially the ones which contain the most and the highest profit margin Intel parts. Is that really too much for the big blue to ask?

The real irony would be if this ad campaign increases Eyefinity sales…

Within the last year Intel has pushed Ultrabooks from as many different angles as they possibly can. They bargained with manufacturers to take the risk and develop these higher-end laptops. They set aside 300 million dollars toward technologies to further Ultrabooks in any way possible from batteries to software. Intel now completes their Ultrabook platform support triangle: they advertise the heck out of them.

So what do you see from this, a WOW or a FAIL?

Source: Youtube

GDC 12: Cry moar! Crytek to demo GFace, Warface, and more.

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 3, 2012 - 09:18 PM |
Tagged: GDC 12, GDC, crytek

Crytek unveils their large presence at Game Developers’ Conference (GDC 2012) occurring next week: what projects will be on the show floor and what projects will be discussed privately by appointment.

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) tends to be where most gamers get their overdose of gaming news. Much fewer gamers know of the Game Developers’ Conference which occurs about three months earlier. Especially over recent years, GDC coverage sometimes ends up more exciting than E3 with announcements being more technical and oriented to developers.

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A call out to interested developers.

Crytek published a press release on their website outlining their products. The release is quite cryptic in its wording, but more information should be available soon.

GFACE

GFACE, our recently announced social entertainment service, and its business development team is on the lookout for fun third-party social, casual, core free2play games that can complement our launch line up. Everyone interested in becoming part of GFACE should contact us at dev@gface.com to set up an appointment to learn more about the GFACE Social Media Publishing Platform to “Play.Together.Live.”

Warface

Crytek’s first freemium PC Online FPS Game Service Warface invites players to check out our PVE and PVP gameplay.

CryENGINE® 3

GDC attendees can participate in CryENGINE presentations every full hour. Topics that will be covered are next-generation DX 11 graphics and tools upgrades, Cinebox, creating characters for CryENGINE, AI Systems, UI Actions and Flow Graph and After Action feature set for Serious Games.

CryENGINE®3 Cinebox™ will also be on the showfloor and we’d love to show you more about it. For more information, please visit mycryengine.com or contact us at mycryengine@crytek.com

RTI

Real Time Immersive, Inc. (RTI) is a simulation and serious games studio established to support CryENGINE® licensees in the serious game and simulation market space. The team will be present on the show floor and show their latest developments.

Crytek uses their own vocabulary to categories projects which use their engine. Your project is a “Game” if it is a typical videogame such as Crysis or Mechwarrior Online. Your project is a “Serious Game” if you use their game technology for professional applications such as Lockheed Martin developing or demonstrating aircraft technology. Your project is a “Visualization” if you use game technology to demonstrate architecture or produce TV, film, and similar content in the engine.

I am most interested to find out more details about Warface and specifically find out what they could possibly be describing as a FPS Game Service with PVE gameplay. How about you? Comment away.

Source: Crytek

GDC 12: The bigger big picture, Steam Box to be announced?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | March 3, 2012 - 05:16 PM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Box, steam, GDC 12

It is rumored that Valve will announce a Steam hardware platform as early as GDC next week although that could be pushed back as late as E3 in June.

Steam has grown atop the PC platform and consists of over 40 million active user accounts. For perspective, the Xbox 360 has sold 65.8 million units to date and that includes units sold to users whose older Xbox 360s died and they did not go the cardboard coffin route. Of course the study does not account for the level of hardware performance each user can utilize although Valve does keep regular surveys of that.

BigPicture.png

A console with admined dedicated servers to kick the teabagging and griefing Steam punks.

Within the last couple of years, Valve has been popping in to news seemingly out of the blue. Allow me to draw your attention to three main events.

At the last GDC, Valve announced “The Big Picture” mode for their Steam software. The Big Picture is an interface for Steam which is friendly to users seated on a couch several feet away from a large screen TV. While “The Big Picture” has yet to be released it does set the stage for a great Home Theatre PC user interface for PC games as well as potentially other media.

SteamController.png

I must admit, that controller does not look the most ergonomic... but it is just a patent filing.

Last year, Valve also filed a patent with the US Patent Office for a video game controller with user swappable control components. Their patent filings show a controller which looks quite similar to an Xbox 360 controller where the thumbsticks can be replaced with touch pads as well as a trackball and potentially other devices. Return of Missile Command anyone?

Also a little over two years ago, Valve announced a partnership with Razer for their Sixense high-precision motion controllers. It is possible that Valve was supporting this technology for this future all along. While motion controllers have not proven to be successful for gaming, they are accepted as a method to control a device. Perhaps The Big Picture will be optimized to support Sixense and compatible devices?

The Verge goes beyond their claims that Valve will announce The Steam Box and has included specifications for a closed-doors prototype of the system. The system was rumored to be used to present to partners at CES contained an Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GPU.

SteamHW.png

You know if Microsoft had focused on Media Center for gaming rather than the Xbox...

It is very unclear whether Valve will attempt to take a loss on the platform in hopes to make it back up in Steam commissions. It is possible that Valve will just push the platform to OEM partners, but it is possible that they will release and market their own canon device.

I am interested to see how Valve will push the Home Theatre PC market. The main disadvantage that the PC platform has at the moment is simply marketing and development money. It is also possible that they wish to expand out and support other media through their Steam service as well.

At the very least, we should have a viable Home Theatre PC user interface as well as sharp lines between hardware profiles. A developer on the PC would love to know the exact number of potential users they should expect if they were to support a certain hardware configuration. Valve was always keen on supplying hardware profile statistics, and this is certainly a harsh evolution of that.

Source: The Verge

Another win for AMD and their non-standard product marketing

Subject: General Tech | March 2, 2012 - 01:01 PM |
Tagged: amd, playstation 4

AMD, NVIDIA and Intel have all been going after business that you might never have associated with them in the past.   Cellphones, high powered computing and system on a chip are all areas in which they are developing products and doing so successfully.  AMD has a double win to announce this morning as they are not only going to be providing the silicon for the graphics on the PS4 but will also be providing the GPU.  SemiAccurate goes into the details of what this chip ... or chips ... might be like as Sony has a history of designing very unique systems but have definitely soured on the Cell architecture.

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"Yes, you heard that right, multiple sources have been telling SemiAccurate for some time that AMD won not just the GPU as many are suggesting, but the CPU as well. Sony will almost assuredly use an x86 CPU for the PS4, and after Cell in the PS3, can you really blame them? While this may point to a very Fusion/Llano-like architecture we hear that is only the beginning."

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Source: SemiAccurate

Battle of the Mechses: Hawken vs. Mechwarrior Online?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | March 2, 2012 - 02:26 AM |
Tagged: Mechwarrior, Hawken, free to play

The mech combat genre has been mostly forgotten if you exclude the arcade-style and completely not-the-same-niche Mechassault or Gundam titles. While the occasional title does exist, the itch has not been scratched for fans of Mechwarrior. You could check out Mechwarrior: Living Legends because the PC platform is awesome -- but there is also a commercial war a brewing out of the blue between Hawken and Mechwarrior Online.

Hawken is an Unreal Engine 3-powered Free-to-Play mech combat title. From its promotional material it appears to be paced slightly quicker than a Mechwarrior game. The universe is not based on a preexisting franchise. Closed beta signups are occurring now and the full game should be released on December 12th.

Mechwarrior Online is another Free-to-Play mech combat title based on CryEngine 3. When the game is launched sometime this year, the universe will launch as that date in 3049. The game calendar will then be synchronized to our calendar for its lifespan. Speculation claims that the voice-over artist for the mech startup sequence is Carole Ruggier known for voice of Athena in the God of War franchise -- oh and she played the voice of the mech startup sequence in Mechwarrior 2 back in 1995. I have not been able to confirm these rumors but if they are true: they certainly nod to the fans.

Which are you most excited for? Hawken? Mechwarrior Online? Or are you going to stick with the perpetually free Mechwarrior Living Legends? Discuss away.

Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Microsoft

Introduction

Microsoft's juggernaut Windows operating system powers on with the company preparing Windows 7's successor in Windows 8. The new operating system (OS) was first released for public consumption during the last BUILD conference in the form of a "Developer Preview." This release was mainly intended for software developers to start to get a feel for the OS and its new features, but many consumers and technology enthusiasts also took a peek at the OS to get an idea of where MS was going with its next OS.

Coinciding with Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2012, Microsoft released the next iteration of the in progress OS, and this time it is aimed at getting consumer feedback. The aptly named Consumer Preview build is now available for download by anyone interested.

WinSetup14.PNG

Windows 8 Consumer Preview Desktop

The question many consumers and enthusiasts are likely asking; however, is what to do with the MS provided ISO, and what the safest and easiest method for testing the beta operating system is. One appropriate answer, and the method covered in this guide, is to use a virtual machine program to test the Windows 8 Consumer Preview inside a VM without needing to muck with or worry about effecting your existing system or settings. Installing to bare hardware will always be faster, but if you upgrade to Windows 8 CP from Windows 7, you will not be able to go back once the beta period is over. By installing Windows 8 Consumer Preview inside a virtual machine will allow you to test out the operating system in a secure environment, and if you have a recent machine with at least 4 GB of RAM, performance of the OS should be sufficient to get an idea of the new OS and whether you want to pursue a bare hardware full install.

I expect that many users are going to be curious about the new build as the Windows 8 OS has ignited several heated debates among enthusiasts concerning the direction Microsoft is going. The new Metro interface, removal of Start Menu, and the overhauled Windows logo are three of the major concerns users have raised, for example.

The specific program in question that we will be using is Oracle's VirtualBox software, which is a free VM host that is very easy to setup and use. Another alternative is VMWare, and the setup process will be very similar (though the exact steps and settings will differ slightly). This guide will show you how to go from the Windows 8 ISO to a fully functional installation inside a VirtualBox virtual machine. If you are familiar with setting up a new VirtualBox VM, you can safely skip those steps. I felt it prudent to go through the entire process; however, for those new to VirtualBox that wish to try out the new Microsoft OS.

Let's begin.

Continue reading our guide on installing Windows 8 Consumer Preview on a Virtual Machine!!

Ubisoft announces dropping DRM from Rayman Origins PC

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | March 1, 2012 - 08:10 PM |
Tagged: ubisoft, piracy, DRM

Ubisoft has been known to aggravate their fan base on the PC. Several off-hand comments have been made which claim that most PC users of their titles do so without paying. Ubisoft attempted to mitigate this alleged problem by aggravating their legitimate customers with progressively more annoying DRM and embargoing the PC platform.

Ubisoft’s sales have suffered massively as a result of these initiatives including a drop of 90 percent with the decline attributed to their in-house DRM. Despite their claims that their DRM was a success, Ubisoft is dropping DRM from their Rayman Origins PC release later this month.

drmsucks.jpg

DRM Sucks.

The Steam product page originally made no claims about 3rd Party DRM earlier this week which led to questions about whether Rayman Origins would be free of DRM outside of Steamworks. Those questions were answered when the product page was updated to directly state No 3rd Party DRM. The typical convention is that no mention of 3rd Party DRM implies that there exists no 3rd party DRM on the title. Whoever updated the product page, however, probably believes that some clarity is necessary with Ubisoft’s track record.

While I give credit to Ubisoft for trusting in their customers, Rayman Origins has been quite delayed from its counterparts on other platforms. I hope that sales of Rayman Origins for the PC are quite good and show Ubisoft that their customers are always right whether they believe they are paying or not.

Source: Steam Store

SeaMicro spurns Atom and cleaves to AMD

Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2012 - 02:09 PM |
Tagged: amd, seamicro, interconnect, purchase, HPC

There is more movement in the low power server market as AMD purchased SeaMicro for $334 million, an investment that may help them keep their share of the server market.  You might have thought that a company that arrived on the scene with a server based on 512 single core Atoms would either stick with Intel or even consider ARM but instead it was AMD which grabbed them.   It is an important move for AMD to retain competitiveness against Intel considering Intel's purchase of QLogic and its InfiniBand interconnect technology which could lead to entirely new server architecture.  Using SeaMicro's experience of connecting a large amount of individually weak processors into a powerful server AMD will be able to develop the SoC business that they have been pursuing for quite a while now.   Check out the full story at The Inquirer.

amdseam.jpg

"AMD's new CEO Rory Read was fired up about executing better in the server racket at the company's analyst day earlier this month and has wasted little time in stirring things up with the acquisition of low-power server start-up SeaMicro for $334m."

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Source: The Register