Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Nintendo

Price and Other Official Information

Since our last Nintendo Switch post, the company had their full reveal event, which confirmed the two most critical values: it will launch on March 3rd for $299.99 USD ($399.99 CDN). This is basically what the rumors have pointed to for a little while, and it makes sense. That was last week, but this week gave rise to a lot more information, mostly from either an interview with Nintendo of America’s President and COO, Reggie Fils-Aimé, or from footage that was recorded and analyzed by third parties, like Digital Foundry.

From the GameSpot interview, above, Reggie was asked about the launch bundle, and why it didn’t include any game, like 1 - 2 - Switch. His response was blunt and honest: they wanted to hit $299 USD and the game found itself below the cut-off point. While I can respect that, I cannot see enough people bothering with the title at full price for it to have been green-lit in the first place. If Nintendo wasn’t interested in just eating the cost of that game’s development to affect public (and developer) perceptions, although they might end up taking the loss if the game doesn’t sell anyway, then at least it wasn’t factored into the system.

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Speaking of price, we are also seeing what the accessories sell at.

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From the controller side of things, the more conventional one, the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, has an MSRP of $69.99 USD. If you look at its competitors, the DualShock 4 for the PlayStation 4 at $49 and the Xbox Wireless Controller for the Xbox One at the same price, this is notably higher. While it has a bunch of interesting features, like “HD rumble”, motion sensing, and some support for amiibos, its competitors are similar, but $20 cheaper.

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The Switch-specific controllers, called “Joy-Con”, are $10 more expensive than the Pro Controller, at $79.99 USD for the pair, or just $49.99 USD for the left or right halves. (Some multiplayer titles only require a half, so Nintendo doesn’t force you to buy the whole pair at the expense of extra SKUs, which is also probably helpful if you lose one.) This seems high, and could be a significant problem going forward.

As for its availability? Nintendo has disclosed that they are pushing 2 million units into the channel, so they are not expecting shortages like the NES Classic had. They do state that demand is up-in-the-air a bit, though.

Read on to find out about their online component and new performance info!

Another Beautiful, Profound Breach of Nintendo Trademarks

Subject: General Tech | January 19, 2017 - 01:13 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, ue4, Nintendo

Once again, one of CryZENx’s videos found its way into my YouTube recommendations list. This one outlines progress on their recreation of various Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time elements in Unreal Engine 4. While the graphics have been updated significantly, such as using inverse-kinematics for foot positioning, they have also remade the original pause menu, which wraps around the camera like a box (with no top or bottom).

If anyone is wondering, inverse-kinematics is an animation tool that focuses on goals, as opposed to individual rotations. Instead of bending a knee by X degrees and bending the hip by Y degrees, you say that the foot of the skeleton must be at some point, and the skeleton adjusts to make that happen. This is obviously much easier for animators to visualize in many situations, especially when trying to align to objects that you know will be in range of the skeleton, but not exactly where.

I’m not exactly sure how Nintendo hasn’t struck their Patreon and YouTube pages yet, given their reaction to other fan materials. I’m glad it’s up, though. They’re quite impressive homages to the games they love.

Source: CryZENx

Looking for quality desktop speakers? Perhaps Audioengine's HD3 would fit the bill

Subject: General Tech | January 18, 2017 - 07:25 PM |
Tagged: audio, speakers, Audioengine HD3, Audioengine

We have seen a lot of headset reviews but lately there have not been many reviews of desktop speakers which some of us still use.  CPCR have offered up a change of pace for those looking for some new stereo speakers with their review of Audioengine's HD3 powered desktop speakers.  They contain a Burr Brown PCM5102 DAC as well as a OPA2134 amp if you do happen to have a set of high impedance headphones you might have occasion to utilize.  Those components do come at a cost, the MSRP is $399, but if that doesn't immediately scare you off you should take a look at their full review.

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"When it comes to premium desktop computer speakers, few manufacturers on the market match the level of Audioengine when it comes to sound quality. Over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to review the Audioengine A2+ and the Audioengine A5+ which were outstanding speakers that are simply unmatched by other computer speaker manufacturers..."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

If you haven't tried Mechwarrior: Living Legends, here is a good excuse

Subject: General Tech | January 18, 2017 - 06:20 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Mechwarrior: Living Legends, crysis wars, mod

Mechwarrior: Living Legends is a total conversion mod for Crysis Wars, which you can grab free of charge from this site, they use the Crysis Wars demo to provide the assets so you do not need to purchase the game.  It will dump you and up to 32 players on a multiplayer map with a side arm and a desperate need to get a vehicle.  The vehicles range from smaller tanks and VTOLs to a wide variety of Battlemechs.  Development had stalled somewhat until this week when it was announced that Version 0.8 is now available.  You should pop by to download and install it so you can give this game a shot; even if you end up disliking it you will get your moneys worth.

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"Almost a decade ago, a talented team started working on what was to become the favorite game for many of us. Version 0.7.1, released in 2013, was to be the final version of MechWarrior: Living Legends by Wandering Samurai Studios."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Practice safe programming

Subject: General Tech | January 18, 2017 - 05:39 PM |
Tagged: security, mostly harmless, google play, andriod

Fallible is a security firm which developed an automated tool for reverse engineering Android apps and used it to take a look at a large portion of the top apps on Google Play.  They found quite a few things that really should not have been there, including keys to Amazon Web Services which would grant them the ability to start and stop instances under the developers account.  In total they found 2500 apps with at least some sensitive information contained within them, in many cases those keys were necessary for the proper functioning of the app but in some cases they were secrets which did not need to be there.  Follow The Register's advice and think long and hard before hard coding keys into any apps you might be developing.

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"A security firm has reverse engineered 16,000 Android apps on Google's Play store and found that over 304 contain sensitive secret keys."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Pegatron passing much of its production to ASRock?

Subject: General Tech | January 17, 2017 - 06:03 PM |
Tagged: asrock, Pegatron, rumours

ASRock was hit hard by the downturn in PC sales over 2016, they shipped less than four million motherboards over the whole year.  The rumour over at DigiTimes is that thanks to the tiny profit margin garnered from orders by Asustek Computer and small white-box builders in China ASRock will no longer be bidding for work from those sources.  Instead their parent company, Pegatron, will be shifting most of their own motherboard and GPU design and production to ASRock along with the services they previously provided to system integrators.  This will shift their focus away from Apple, and should provide a boost to the overall business in addition to their new lines of Intel and AMD motherboards.

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"For 2017, orders from SI clients and the launch of Intel's Kaby Lake platform are expected to boost the company's performance. The company has launched new Z270-based motherboards, looking to expand its presence in the mid-range to high-end sector. Motherboards using AMD's new chipsets are also expected to launch after March which should also benefit the company's profits."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Awesome Games Done Quick 2017 Sets New Donation Records

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2017 - 07:18 PM |
Tagged: speedrun, pc gaming, gdq

About a day and a half ago, Games Done Quick finished up their AGDQ 2017 event with a pacifist run of the PC indie title, Undertale. Over the course of the previous week, the marathon brought in over 2.2 million dollars for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. (As I write this, the current amount is $2,218,130.30 USD, which might still go up a little with late donations.)

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This total smashed the previous record, set two years ago at AGDQ 2015, of 1.576 million USD. Moreover, this was the first Games Done Quick event to bring in more than a million dollars on the last day. Based on last year’s totals, it looked a bit like Games Done Quick was going to plateau at about 1.2 to 1.5 million per event, which is amazing, but this new record points to potential that I’m not even sure Games Done Quick knew existed.

I’d be interested to see what the organizers attribute the increase to. The schedule was intended to be a departure from typical with a few interesting decisions, such as shelving Super Mario 64, ending with Undertale instead of a classic JRPG, and making the blocks less obvious. At the same time, the partnership with Namco Bandai, particularly the huge prize pool on the last day, drew a lot of $125-and-up donations, leading to the comment tracker crashing in the setup block. (It crashed a few times on the last day.) Whatever the cause was, something worked, and we’ll need to see how SGDQ 2017 and AGDQ 2018 live up to these new expectations.

Speaking of which, SGDQ 2017 will be in Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 2nd through July 9th.

The age of Ultor, Speedlink's new mechanical keyboard

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2017 - 07:15 PM |
Tagged: Speedlink, ultor, mechanical keyboard, RGB, Kailh

Speedlink's Ultor mechanical keyboard has a minimalist look thanks to the lack of a frame but they did include LEDs, blue under all but the WASD keys which are white.  They also chose to include macro keys which is uncommon on a board without a numpad by adding them as a secondary function to the Home, End, Insert, Delete, Page Up and Down keys. The mechanical switches under the keys are Kailh Red, the colour of gamers as opposed to typists.  They are currently quite expensive here in North America, in the UK Kitguru spotted it for sale at £79.91.

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"While many peripheral makers are currently chasing down the RGB trend, there is still plenty of room in the market for a standard mechanical keyboard. Today, we are taking a look at the Speedlink Ultor, a mechanical keyboard offering up red switches, macro support and more, all wrapped up in a frameless, 10-keyless design."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Kitguru

What's up with WhatsApp

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2017 - 06:13 PM |
Tagged: whatsapp, fud, facebook, encryption

By now you will have seen a headline screaming something about the security of Facebook's WhatsApp messaging service, ranging from somewhere between a backdoor purposefully inserted into the app to a complete denial of any security risk at all.  The actual issue is much larger than WhatsApp and address a security issue with all applications which depend on public key encryption. 

Many applications utilize public keys for their encryption, the encryption relies on keys unique to the sender and receivers devices and which use the public key to verify the authorization of a new device.  If your accounts key was permanently attached to a specific piece of hardware you would need a separate account for each device you used, which would be quite onerous.

The issue is that the Open Whisper Signal protocol is configured by WhatsApp in a way which makes the data vulnerable to a man in the middle attack.  If you can managed to block the transmission of a message, then take over one of the authorized devices accounts or phone numbers and trigger the generation of a new private key via a public key request to Facebook then you will be able to read messages until people realize what is going on.  This is not impossible but far from easy to accomplish, and effects any similar encryption system, not just WhatsApp.

Perhaps more worrying is Facebook's ability to take advantage of this, as they can generate a new public key to read messages, if they so choose.  If you are concerned about this, you can enable the Show Security Notifications setting under Settings -> Account -> Security to be notified whenever a contact's security code has changed.  The Register links to several articles which delve into the technology as well as the media's reactions here, if you are interested.

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"The problem – which is "endemic to public key cryptography" – was raised in April last year, and at the time WhatsApp said it wasn't a serious enough design flaw to spend time fixing."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Microsoft Confirms Windows 10 Creators Update Game Mode

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2017 - 12:17 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, pc gaming

A few weeks ago, Windows Insiders noticed GameMode.dll was added to the Windows 10 preview builds. It was speculated by Windows Central, based on their anonymous sources, that it would allow the user to increase performance for games. Now, in an Xbox blog post, Mike Ybarra of Microsoft confirmed the existence of this feature. It will arrive with the Creators Update and, yes, it is intended to “optimize your Windows 10 PC for increased performance in gaming”.

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That’s about all of the detail that is mentioned explicitly in the blog post. It does make a passing reference to “Windows Insiders will start seeing some of the visual elements for Game Mode this week, with the feature being fully operational in builds shortly thereafter”. While we don’t need to wait too long to actually find out, this snippet suggests that user involvement will be required. This might be a launcher or something else entirely.

On his Twitter, he also added that Game Mode will work for both Win32 and UWP games. Assuming this isn’t a mistake, and it’s stated quite bluntly albeit on Twitter, it looks likely that Game Mode’s UI won’t be an extension of Windows Store and it will work for any game. It will probably reside elsewhere, like an Xbox App or something, but we don’t really know yet.

The Windows 10 Creators Update arrives this spring. While its version number is 1703, rumors have it set for an April release date.

Source: Microsoft