OCC TECH NEWS
August 19, 2014
It's The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and it's 35 minutes of actual gameplay. Do I need to say more? Okay, fine, I'll say a little more; as if you didn't already hit Play. The gameplay video is the one that was shown at Gamescom last week. According to CD Projekt RED, a whopping 15,000 fans came to its booth to watch the demo, with a lucky 12,000 walking away with a t-shirt.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is coming to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on February 24, 2015.
Source: Press Release and Official Site
Dark fairy tale platformer Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries arrived on Kickstarter at the beginning of the month and is already nearly 75% funded with fifteen days to go. The game was playable at Gamescom last week, and today developer GRIN posted some stats about the event, along with a new video featuring some first impressions. 10,000 flyers were handed out, 5,000 posters were given away, 1,780 gamers played the demo, and 36 lucky backers were greeted and rewarded with an undisclosed "special present."
Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries is planned for a Q1 2015 release on PC with Closed Beta to begin next month. If you'd like to support the project, the minimum Kickstarter pledge is $15, which grants you the full game upon release along with the Toy Soldier Editor; Steam key or DRM-free via GOG.com. Closed Beta access starts at $50 and up, while Alpha access starts at $100 and up. The Kickstarter campaign ends Thursday, September 4, 2014, at 5:55PM EDT.
Source: Kickstarter Update
The latest motherboard from manufacturer ECS is the Z97-PK and it is based on the Intel Z97 Express chipset. ECS describes the board as the "unmatched motherboard" for use with the Intel 20th anniversary Pentium processors that were announced at Computex 2014. Referring specifically to the G3258 processor, which features an unlocked multiplier, ECS has overclocked the chip to 4.7GHz using the new motherboard which it claims is "much higher than similar products from other motherboard manufactures."
Source: Press Release
Alien: Isolation puts you in control of Amanda Ripley, searching for answers about what happened to her mother, Ellen Ripley, the protagonist in the original Alien movie. There's really not much to say about this Official Gamescom CGI Trailer entitled "Improvise" other than, it's totally badass:
Alien: Isolation is coming to PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 on October 7.
Source: Creative Assembly
One of the biggest challenges with quantum computers is finding a way to store quantum information for extended periods of time. There are many different approaches being studied right now for preserving the information, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Now researchers at the Vienna University of Technology have combined two of these techniques and managed to extend the stability of the information.
One of the techniques being developed encodes the quantum information onto nitrogen atoms inside of diamonds, which protects them from external forces. Another technique encodes information onto photons trapped in a resonator. The researchers have combined these two concepts by using a microwave resonator to encode information onto multiple nitrogen atoms. This actually keeps the quantum information coherent for longer than it would normally by causing all of the nitrogen atoms to be coupled with the resonator. This mass coupling prevents the atoms from losing coherence, keeping the quantum information accessible for longer.
By opening the door to hybrid quantum technologies this way, it is hard to predict what new technologies may be created in the future. Of course quantum computers will see a benefit, but the potential of this research could be greater than longer memory storage.
Source: Vienna University of Technology
If you're a PC gamer, it probably doesn't come as a surprise that the majority of PC game sales in 2013 were digital. What may be a bit surprising is that digital made up a whopping 92% of all game sales globally. And apparently that number is expected to increase in the years to come. The numbers come from analyst DFC Intelligence, which told us back in January that PC gaming was on the rise, and then reported in April that the PC games market actually surpassed the console games market in terms of revenues.
I think it's safe to say that the prominence of digital distribution in the PC games market attributed to that, no doubt helped by insane sales and bundles. There's also the rise of free-to-play games ripe with alluring microtransactions, which consoles are still slow to adopt. Of course it also doesn't hurt that a large majority of PC games do not even get retail releases these days; and for those that do, the majority of them still require you to redeem a Steam/Origin/Uplay key, rendering the disc pretty useless. If it wasn't for Collector's Editions filled with physical goodies, digital sales would likely be even higher.
So have you ditched the discs and gone all-digital?
Source: PCR via PC Gamer
Although Flappy Bird was taken down from the App Store and Google Play earlier this year by its creator Dong Nguyen, the game was supposedly going to make a comeback this month. Apparently, a new game that shares the mechanics of Flappy Bird is going to be released by Nguyen instead. The new game, known as Swing Copters, is a vertical scrolling title in which players must navigate a small character with a propeller attached to its head through gates and swinging hammers. Players attempt to avoid obstacles by tapping on the screen in order to change the direction of the character as it flies.
Swing Copters looks just as difficult as Flappy Bird was, and with it being available on August 21, 2014, gamers will soon be able to see if they can beat the high scores of others. The game will be free and ad-supported, though the ability to remove advertisements will be available as an in-game purchase for 99 cents.
Source: Touch Arcade
The first step on the road to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Crytek co-founder Avni Yerli realizes that the studio's reputation has likely been damaged in light of its recent troubles, which culminated in the company selling the Homefront IP to Koch Media. Yerli told MCV that the transition to an online company took longer and cost more than originally anticipated, but that the studio is now confident it can move forward with a solid foundation laid out. "[F]or Crytek it is about focusing on our core competency, which is making really high quality games. When we deliver those games we will hopefully be back on track, and people will see Crytek in the way that it deserves to be seen."
Of course, saying and doing are two completely different things. Crytek has two or three new games on the docket (that we know of), depending on your definition of "new": Arena of Fate, HUNT: Horrors of the Gilded Age, and the PC version of Ryse: Son of Rome. Of those, I think HUNT is clearly the most promising of the bunch, providing a unique premise and setting. On the flip side, Arena of Fate is "yet another MOBA" and Ryse is a port of a game that got rather mixed reviews. Time will tell how things play out for Crytek.
Razer, a world leader in connected devices and software for gamers, has teamed up with Counter Logic Gaming, a longtime eSports partner and premier North American organization, to launch the ultimate gaming keyboard. The keyboard, known as the Counter Logic Gaming Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth, is the companion to the limited edition Counter Logic Gaming DeathAdder mouse released last year. Razer has implemented a two-tone black and white body with illuminated keys that correspond to Counter Logic Gaming‘s white coloring, matching the styling of the aforementioned mouse. Only the best technology and features have been included with its latest gaming keyboard, as it includes 10 key roll-over anti-ghosting, fully programmable keys with on-the-fly macro recording, audio-out and mic-in jacks, USB pass–through, and a braided fiber cable. The Counter Logic Gaming Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth even incorporates Razer’s latest mechanical switches that have a projected lifespan of up to 60 million keystrokes, thanks to gold plated contact points and an ultra-precise manufacturing technique.
The Counter Logic Gaming Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth is available immediately for purchase and costs $149.99.
Source: Press Release
Unless you are exceptionally careful about what information is on the Internet, there is a good chance you have been presented with a recommendation based on your online activities. Of course we all know that services and websites collect information from emails, video views, and product views, but how exactly do they generate the recommendations? That is what researchers at Columbia University want to know, and so they have developed XRay to provide greater transparency on the Internet.
Approaching the problem of how our information is used is tricky, because much of the Internet operates like a black box. Without the ability to view the processes involved in generating the recommendations, XRay has to rely on black-box correlations between inputs and outputs. At first the researchers worked with theoretical results, which were encouraging, but only theoretical, so they soon started running experiments on Gmail, Amazon, and YouTube and refining the design. Eventually XRay achieved complete success with each experiment, matching theoretical predictions in complex cases, which suggests it can scale up well.
Though the current system has only been run on Gmail, Amazon, and YouTube, it should be service-agnostic, so any site that tracks you could be studied with XRay. Thus far it has revealed that it is possible to target sensitive topics and that there does appear to be abuse of the recommendation systems. You can see examples results at XRay's website: XRay: Transparency for the Web.
Source: Columbia University
A new day has begun, with plenty of items for you to check out on this Tuesday. We have a review on the Corsair Carbide Spec 01 case, a highly affordable case that still packs in plenty of features for gamers on a tight budget. If you are instead looking for a way to keep your CPU cool, then perhaps the Cooler Master Nepton 280L all-in-one liquid cooler can get the job done. For storage needs, there's the Angelbird SSD wrk 512GB using a Silicon Motion 2246EN controller instead of the more common SandForce controller. Speaking of storage, we have a review on the Thecus N2310 Soho/Home NAS Server, which is a two-bay model perfect for starting your home server. Lastly the ROCCAT Ryos MK Pro mechanical keyboard gets put to the test to see if it should be your next purchase.
Corsair Carbide Spec 01 Gaming Case @ Madshrimps
Cooler Master Nepton 280L AIO Liquid CPU Cooler @ ThinkComputers
Angelbird SSD wrk 512GB @ PC Perspective
Thecus N2310 Soho/Home NAS Server @ Madshrimps
ROCCAT Ryos MK Pro Mechanical Keyboard @ Benchmark Reviews
Pillars of Eternity Kickstarter backers that pledged $110 or more during its nearly $4 million campaign will now be able to join the Backer Beta. The Backer Beta is only available through Steam, but does not affect your redemption choice for the final product, so feel free to grab it even if you want DRM-free at launch. As of now, it's only available for Windows, but Mac and Linux versions should be arriving in the coming weeks. The first release of the Backer Beta, which went live yesterday, is the build that was shown off during Gamescom.
What's quite unique about this Backer Beta is that there is no "direct connection to the critical path/main story of Pillars of Eternity"; it truly is all about testing and gathering feedback. This should be welcome news to any backer who was wary of having the story spoiled for them during these early stages. The Backer Beta includes the village of Dyrford and its surrounding wilderness and dungeon environments. Players can choose between four difficulties (Easy, Normal, Hard, or Path of the Damned) and optional modes (Expert and Trial or Iron), and have access to all character races and subraces, all classes, and all starting cultures and backgrounds when creating their character. Aside from exploration, conversing with NPCs, and loot-grabbing, players will also be able to experiment with crafting and enchanting, hiring adventurers, and camping.
Obsidian has posted a lengthy list of areas in which the team would love feedback to be focused on: classes, races, attributes, equipment, crafting and enchanting, conversations and quests, combat, and the user interface. I advise anyone who plans on playing the Backer Beta to read what questions specifically Obsidian would like to see addressed for each topic; and it'll probably help to read the list of "Known Issues" as well. If you pledged $110 or more, simply go to your Account Profile Products page to generate your Steam key. If you're not a backer, you have until August 22 to pledge before crowdfunding ends, at which point you'll no longer have access at the reduced pre-launch price.
Pillars of Eternity is scheduled for full launch Winter 2014, assuming there are no speed bumps along the way.
Source: Kickstarter Update
Corsair, a worldwide leader in high-performance PC hardware components, has just announced the Commander Mini. The new product by Corsair is a control unit that allows users to connect and control multiple lights, fans, and other Corsair devices with an intuitive software interface. The Corsair Commander Mini incorporates a plethora of ports for plugging devices into, including six fan control connectors, four Corsair Link Digital ports, four temperature probe inputs, and a port for connecting Corsair Link LED lighting strips. Corsair Link Dashboard software allows users to precisely monitor their systems, as it is able to make efficient use of all of the included interfaces, providing information on coolant temperature, ambient temperature at multiple points, the speed of case fans, and the speed of fans integrated into compatible system components. Thanks to the Commander Mini, users can then take this information and use the software to manage fan speeds individually, set up customized cooling profiles, or program fans to respond to changes in ambient or component temperature.
The Corsair Commander Mini carries an MSRP of $59.99, comes with a two-year warranty, and is available immediately from the Corsair website.
Source: Press Release
Lead has quite a history as the soft metal once saw many uses, such as water pipes to additives for gasoline and paint, but is now restricted to just a few, due to its potential health hazards. That is also why we see so many recycling programs specifically for lead, to keep it from getting somewhere it should not, and to reduce the amount that needs to be acquired. Now researchers at MIT have devised another recycling program that could see lead repurposed for use in solar cells.
Perovskites are a family of compounds that share similar structures, and organolead halide perovskite is being looked at for use as solar cells. Some of these cells have already exceeded 19% efficiency, which makes them almost competitive with the silicon-based solar cells you can find today. The catch is the use of lead, especially as the solar cells would require more lead to be mined. The MIT researchers however have developed a process to take the lead from car batteries and use it for solar cells. As the lead compound would actually be a thin film, they predict that the lead of a single car battery would be enough to make enough solar panels to power 30 homes.
Along with providing another reason to recycle car batteries, this could also help bring the cost of solar cells down. The process is low temperature and requires fewer steps than conventional solar cells to produce, making it potentially easier to scale up cheaply.
Rumors are yet again circulating surrounding Google implementing a solid subscription model into YouTube. The new service, which is slated to be known as YouTube Music Key, will offer ad-free music, audio-only playback, and offline playback for $9.99 per month, which includes a 30-day free trial for new customers. A subscription to YouTube Music Key will likely incorporate Google’s current music subscription service, Google Play Music All Access, though the service is expected to be rebranded to Google Play Music Key. By combining both services together, Google could present quite a value for potential customers who are looking for yet another option within the music subscription category.
It is not currently known when YouTube Music Key will come to fruition, but it’s likely to occur in the near future as Google already has control of the domain for the rumored service.
According to a new report filed by the United States Government Accountability Office, attempts to hack computers in the United States have gradually increased over the years, with government computer security violations up 35 percent from 2010 to 2013. It was also noted within the report that the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which regulates commercial nuclear power plants and other uses of nuclear materials, has been successfully hacked three times over the past three years. The attacks were done by unspecified foreigners and a third unknown individual, and were successful thanks to a malicious email attachment as well as phishing emails. According to David McIntyre, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman, the computer security team at the commission is able to detect and thwart most hacking attempts.
August 18, 2014
Last month, Capybara Games announced that it was bringing its side-scrolling, time-traveling shooter Super Time Force to Steam this Summer. Today, Capy announced that Super Time Force Ultra (STFU) will be launching on Steam on August 25 with bonus content that includes: "50 new Helladeck challenge levels, inter-dimensional Ultra Force powers, and three super-awesome, super-secret new characters." Here's the official Steam Trailer:
Source: Official Site via Facebook
Whether you're a World of Warcraft addict or never touched the game in your life, it's hard not to be amazed by the cinematics Blizzard always produces for the game. With World of Warcraft's fifth expansion, Warlords of Draenor, launching on November 13, Blizzard unveiled the opening cinematic during Gamescom last week.
Warlords of Draenor is currently available for pre-order in three flavors: Standard Edition at $49.99; Digital Deluxe Edition at $69.99; and retail Collector's Edition at $89.99. All pre-orders grants the ability to boost one character to level 90, allowing you to access all end-game content immediately.
Source: Press Release
Back at the beginning of the month, Klei Entertainment announced that its turn-based tactical espionage game Invisible, Inc. would be coming to Steam Early Access on August 19. At the time, there was no new trailer nor Steam page, and while the latter is still missing, we do finally get to enjoy a new trailer:
Invisible, Inc. will be available tomorrow, August 19, on Steam Early Access. Right now you can grab Klei's previous stealth-based game Mark of the Ninja at 80% off until tomorrow.
Source: Klei Entertainment via Facebook
Although the Amazon Fire Phone was announced just two months ago and was released shortly afterwards, Amazon has just pushed out a software update for the phone’s operating system. The latest update for the Fire Phone brings the Fire OS to version 3.5.1, and with the new version comes various fixes and updates. Some of these include Quick Switch, application grid folders, carousel pinning, enhanced carousel email, improved video sharing, and 11 frame lenticular photos. Amazon has also improved the battery life of its Fire Phone, with the latest Fire OS update providing dozens of updates that address the issue.
Fire Phone owners can update their device by navigating through the settings menu, or by downloading the update on a computer and transferring the file onto their phone via the included USB cable.
A product listing page over the weekend on the Best Buy website appears to have revealed the price and specifications of the upcoming Moto 360 Smart Watch. The watch was listed at $249, slightly above "less-fashionable square" offerings from Samsung and LG with prices of $199 and $229, respectively. According to the listing, Texas Instruments is making a return to mobile devices by providing the SoC that will power the Android based device. The listing also revealed that the watch will have a 1.5" 320x290 LCD, 512MB of RAM, a pedometer, and a heart rate sensor. Nothing more has been revealed, but a September 4 Motorola event could shed some more light on the device.
Source: Ars Technica
When it was announced that Facebook was purchasing Oculus VR, Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson decided that he was no longer interested in developing a version of the game for the virtual reality headset. Using the reasoning of "Facebook creeps me out," Notch decided to move on, but fans of the Oculus Rift and Minecraft could be in for some good news. A Twitter post by Notch has renewed speculation that the game could be on its way to the Oculus Rift and has even drawn a response from Oculus CTO John Carmack who said, "say the word, ship the source, and i'll make sure It runs well on you-know-what..."
Source: PC Gamer
It's 2014, so a Season Pass for a major AAA title was to be expected. Today, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE) and Monolith Productions unveiled the Season Pass for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, though curiously failed to mention a price. But most surprising is that it contains exclusive content that seemingly won't be available outside of the Season Pass – a "Guardians of the Flaming Eye" Orc Warband mission, where "players will face Sauron's elite Defenders before the Black Gate and earn the Rising Flame rune." In addition to that exclusive mission, the Season Pass also includes: early access to the "Trials of War" challenge series; two new story missions, "Lord of the Hunt" and "The Bright Lord"; and additional future content, such as runes and skins.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is releasing on September 30 in North America and October 3 in Europe for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
Source: Press Release
Symantec has been a part of the security sector for quite some time, and it goes without saying that number of offerings have continued to grow as technology changes have occurred over time. Although it currently has 50 million people that currently pay for a consumer version of Norton security, the company is looking to severely trim down its current lineup of products. Norton has revealed that it will replace Norton AntiVirus, Norton Internet Security, Norton 360, Norton 360 Multi-Device, and Norton 360 Premier Edition with the new Norton Security, which is set to debut on September 23, 2014. The new suite is set to offer antivirus and anti-malware protection, botnet detection and blocking, intelligent cloud-based detection, and browser security without an add-on. Gerry Egan, the senior director of product management for Norton at Symantec, noted that the new Norton Security will even offer a virus-free guarantee if the company runs into something that it simply cannot handle.
No pricing information is currently available for the new Norton Security, but there will be two levels of service. The cheaper version will be known simply as Norton Security and will provide customers with protection for up to five devices, including Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. The more expensive version will be known as Norton Security with Backup and will not only cover up to 10 devices, bit will also include cloud-based storage.
Guacamelee! is one of my favorite Metroidvania side-scrollers of all-time; so much so that I played it to completion again on Steam after having already attained the Platinum Trophy on PS Vita. In July, developer DrinkBox Studios released Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition (STCE) on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Wii U, which added new levels, enemies, and more. Today, out of nowhere, DrinkBox announced that Guacamelee! STCE will be coming to Steam on August 21, complete with everything from the console version, along with Steam workshop integration, a Costume shop, Steam trading cards, and a tease of "some cool future updates."
Guacamelee! STCE will be priced at $14.99, with a temporary launch discount of 10% off during the first week. Owners of Guacamelee! Gold Edition on Steam will receive a 66% off loyalty discount, dropping the price to just $4.99. Now if only DrinkBox would provide us an update on Severed!
Source: Press Release and Steam
Many people likely associate the image of a table covered with beakers, flasks, burners, and at least one microscope with a chemistry laboratory, but that is likely to change in the future. Many groups around the world are working on creating lab-on-a-chip systems that will condense chemical testing equipment onto something the size of a computer chip. Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz have recently created a chip with the ability to identify single molecules by combining electrical and optical measurement techniques.
The chip utilizes a nanopore that acts as a smart gate, to control the flow of molecules into a channel. The nanopore also allows the researchers to make electrical measurements as the molecules crosses it. For DNA passing through the nanopore, the electrical measurements would actually be able to determine the genetic sequence of the DNA, by fluctuations of the current. Once in the channel, the molecule is also exposed to a beam of light, and changes to the light's intensity indicates the size and optical properties of the molecule, as well as the flow speed through the channel.
When the researchers tested their chip with a mixture of influenza viruses and nanobeads of similar diameter, tagged with fluorescent labels, they found that they were able to distinguish between the two particle types using their electrical and flow properties with perfect accuracy. They were even able to count the number of virus particles, which would be very useful for analyzing samples.
Source: University of California, Santa Cruz
Community Health Systems is one of the nation’s leading operators of general acute care hospitals in the United States, with a total of 206 hospitals in 29 states. As such, the hospital operator holds and maintains millions of records, and unfortunately has just announced that some of those records have been compromised by a group based in China. According to Community Health Systems, patient names, addresses, birthdates, telephone numbers, and Social Security numbers of 4.5 million people were compromised in an attack that centered itself on attacking systems through highly sophisticated malware. Although the attack occurred in April and June of this year, Community Health Systems failed to realize that the theft had taken place until just last month.
While a computer security company was able to figure out that the attacks were performed by a group located in China, the name of the group has not been disclosed despite federal law enforcement authorities within the United States reportedly being aware of the group’s identity.
BIOSTAR, a manufacturer of motherboards, graphics cards, and industrial computing systems, has just announced its latest all-in-one board that features a system-on-a-chip, the J1800TH. The J1800TH makes use of the mini-ITX form factor as well as Intel’s Bay Trail chipset, allowing it to provide optimized performance through a low power consumption and fan-less design. Value is one of the main components of the BIOSTAR J1800TH, as it supports many innovations such as a moisture proof PCB, ESD protection, eXtreme Durable Capacitors, and USB 3.0, just to name a few. With the BIOSTAR J1800TH being as efficient and compact as it is, it is suitable in a variety of business applications including digital signage, kiosks, point of sales units, and thin clients.
Source: Press Release
SiSoftware has recently released the third service pack for Sandra 2014, an award-winning utility, which includes remote analysis, benchmarking, and diagnostic features for PCs, servers, mobile devices and networks. The latest service pack incorporates many updates and fixes that target various aspects of the program, including the built-in scheduler, video shader compute, processor benchmarks, and a graphics processor benchmark. The CUDA SDK has also been updated to version 6.5, due to recent WHQL video drivers now supporting it as well as Visual Studio 2013.
Service pack 3 for Sandra 2014 comes just under three months after service pack 2 was released for the utility by SiSoftware.
Source: Press Release
Google has officially acquired Jetpac, a company that provides and maintains a mobile application known as City Guides that recommends destinations based off of analyzed Instagram photographs. The technology offered by Jetpac extracts information from photos that are publically available, and is able to provide customized geographic information through its application. Although Google did not mention exactly how it plans to incorporate the technology offered by Jetpac, the search engine giant will more than likely mesh the analytical technology into its current suite services, as the Jetpac team is set to join Google’s Knowledge team shortly. Jetpac noted on its website that it is excited to work on its existing projects with various team members at Google.
Since the Jetpac team will soon join Google, all applications currently available from the company will be taken off of the App Store on September 15, 2014.