OCC TECH NEWS
We here at OverclockersClub.com are a rather generous bunch, especially our head honcho Bosco. For a while now we've had a different kind of contest running, where all active members have to do is post their computer specifications and country of origin to be entered. Just don't try to cheat the system either, as Bosco pulls the logs for all current systems listed on OCC. The prizes are variable, as Bosco will send out a piece of hardware to the winners based on what their computer needs most. There's also no end to the contest, as it simply runs for as long as there are people who need an upgrade. Past winners have received everything from video cards to solid state drives, with recent winners also getting a new AMD FX CPU and Kingston memory. Bosco also has a couple more SSDs to add into the mix, so be sure to hit up the contest thread if you haven't entered already.
Winners are announced in the comments thread, which is also where you can ask any questions you may have. If your name is chosen as a winner however, be sure to send Bosco a PM so he can get your shipping details. Best of luck to everyone!
April 16, 2014
Terminal Reality, the studio behind the action hack-and-slash series BloodRayne, shut down in December of last year, but it appears the franchise isn't dead. Arc System Works, the developer and publisher most famous for the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series, issued a press release and launched a teaser site that seems to indicate it's developing and/or publishing a new BloodRayne game with the acronym BRCS.
The site contains a black and red image of what is clearly Rayne, though taking on quite a different look than in previous games. The necklace, ribbons flowing from her hair, and the sword all point to it definitely being her though, which you can see in the image I ripped from the site below. The site also contains the following two lines:
She who fights with monsters might take care lest she thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
A full reveal is planned for next Wednesday, April 23. It is unclear whether original publisher Majesco Games is involved with this new entry, or if the company sold the rights to Arc System Works.
Source: Press Release and Teaser Site
In February, Sony revealed that it had sold 5.3 million PlayStation 4 video game consoles worldwide. Just last month, Sony yet again reported PlayStation 4 sales numbers, noting that it had sold six million on a global scale. Now, Sony has announced that since the next-generation console's launch it has sold a total of seven million PlayStation 4 game consoles worldwide as of April 6, 2014. Sony also revealed that software sales for the PlayStation 4 were impressive, with 20.5 million copies being sold through the PlayStation Store and retail locations around the world.
Source: PlayStation Blog
Personal documents that were once only available on individual Kindle libraries can now be accessed via Amazon Cloud Drive, following an announcement made by Amazon through an email to its customers. These files include items that were sent to a Kindle device, such as pictures, news articles, Microsoft Word documents, and more. While Amazon will automatically convert the personal documents into formats that can be read on Kindle devices, just like before, it will now keep a backup of the original files, thus preserving the native format.
Amazon users will be able to access their important Kindle personal documents on Amazon Cloud Drive seamlessly, as no user involvement is needed in regards to the change.
MSI has announced a trio of forthcoming motherboards, the GAMING 3, GAMING 5, and GAMING 7. The boards borrow the USB Audio Power feature from ITX GAMING motherboards, providing stable 5V power over USB for USB headsets and USB DACs. On board sound is provided by a Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 2, giving external audio power without the need for an additional card. A six month premium license for Xsplit Gamecaster is also included for users that wish to stream their gaming adventures.
Source: Press Release
As mentioned earlier in the month, Hidden Path Entertainment's Defense Grid 2 was playable at PAX East on both PC and Xbox One this past weekend. For those of you that weren't lucky enough to attend, Hidden Path released an Official PAX East Preview Trailer for the game, which provides a brief glimpse of the gameplay. Other than a new tower type and alien, it looks very much like the original Defense Grid, but that's not necessarily a bad thing – after all, why mess up one of the best tower defense games ever made? Also, don't forget that one of the major new features is the addition of two-player co-op, which isn't shown in the trailer.
Defense Grid 2 is expected to arrive later this year for PC (Windows, Mac, and Linux) via Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Source: Hidden Path Entertainment
Right now there is considerably more photons passing through us than we can see, because the receptors in our eyes only respond to a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Semiconductors likewise only react to light of certain frequencies, which can be frustrating when you want to detect more light than is in that range. Researchers at Georgia State University have found a way to tune those frequencies though, which could open up many possibilities.
Electrons, like many objects, need so much energy to start moving. In a conductor the required energy is very, very low while in an insulator it is very high. Semiconductors are somewhere in the middle, so when a photon strikes a semiconductor, it has to impart enough energy to get an electron moving to create a detectible current. This means detecting photons of lower frequencies and energy typically requires special semiconductors, but the Georgia researchers have found a way around this. Instead of changing the semiconductor, the researchers have added another light source. This extra light primes the semiconductor with enough energy so that even a lower energy photon can kick an electron, and create a current.
The device the researchers built was able to detect photons with wavelengths as great as 55 micrometers, which is significantly longer than the 4 micrometers the device would normally detect. Potentially this technique could be used for advanced sensors that can detect certain gases as well as building solar panels that absorb more of the spectrum.
Source: Georgia State University
In 2011 an earthquake and resulting tsunami struck Japan and so damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that it lost the ability to cool the cores, which led to a meltdown. That event caused many around the world to consider the safety of current nuclear power plants, and how to make them safer in the future. Researchers at MIT have devised a new design for nuclear power plants that has the potential to remove earthquakes and tsunamis as a threat, by moving the plants far off-shore.
The idea of building a nuclear power plant off shore is not new as Russia is currently building a plant on a barge. The novel aspect of MIT's idea is to put the plants miles off shore, where the deepness of the ocean will the plant from earthquakes and tsunamis, just as how off shore oil and gas platforms are protected. The oceans offer more than just that protection though as nuclear power plants require large amounts of water to cool their reactors. On land this limits their locations to expensive shorefront areas. Also as the plants are mobile, they could be built and decommissioned at a central facility, like naval ships, which would improve standardization, and could reduce costs by using only steel, instead of both steel and concrete.
Currently this idea is just that, an idea, but is to be presented at the Small Modular Reactors Symposium being held this week. Of course offshore power plants need not be 'small' but could be built to rival the largest 1000 megawatt facilities you can find on land.
It's the middle of the week, and we have a nice selection of reviews for you to check out. There's a look at the ASUS A88X-Pro FM2+ motherboard, which has some fairly unique features and color scheme to set it apart from other motherboards for AMD's APU line. We have another take on the CM Storm Havoc gaming mouse with its 8200DPI, eight programmable buttons, and Omron Micro Switches. An all-in-one PC from Acer gets put to the test, however this setup is running Google's Android OS for a different take on the home computer. Lastly we have a review on the Diamond Wireless Range Extender WR300NSI to see how well it can help boost your home's wireless signal.
ASUS A88X-Pro @ Benchmark Reviews
CM Storm Havoc Gaming Mouse @ ThinkComputers
Acer TA272 HUL All-in-One: Android Invades the Desktop @ TechSpot
Diamond Wireless Range Extender WR300NSI @ ThinkComputers
April 15, 2014
In Cyanide Studios' RPG Styx: Master of Shadows, players take on the role of the titular Styx, a "goblin anti-hero, master assassin and part-time thief." Back in February, we learned that Styx is seeking the "Amber" from a mystical tree atop the Tower of Akenash, but there's a lot more to it than that. Communication & Community Manager Camille posted a "character introduction" for Styx on the developer blog, which provides some more details and background information.
Styx is 250 years old and the first known goblin. But apparently he didn't start out as a goblin – "Styx was an orc shaman, respected by all, a powerful mage, erudite and passionate about life's forces." His passion pushed him toward studying the aforementioned Amber, which ultimately lead to his demise. His addiction to Amber not only changed his appearance, but also causes him mental anguish and torment. That is why he is seeking out to steal the source of Amber, the heart of the World Tree atop the Tower of Akenash. Luckily for him, while he's addicted to the substance, he can use its "significant powers" to aid him in his quest.
It's interesting to see Cyanide take this approach of a goblin once being an orc. While many games have often separated the two races, Tolkien often used the terms interchangeably in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, so it makes sense. In any case, you can check out some sketches and 3D models below.
Source: Styx Developer Blog
Last month, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare received its first free DLC, the Garden Variety Pack, which added a new game mode, new map, and 24 new ability upgrades. Today, Garden Warfare got its second free DLC, Zomboss Down, which brings the beloved plants and zombies to the Wild West. Zomboss Down includes a brand new map, Cactus Canyon Gardens and Graveyards, eight new playable characters, over 200 customization items, and an increased character level cap from 20 to 30. The DLC is currently available for both Xbox One and Xbox 360.
Source: Press Release
The Toshiba Satellite P55T will be available next week with an MSRP of $1,499.99 and is one of the first laptops to feature a 4K display. The display resolution of 3840x2160 uses four times the number of pixels as 1080p screens and puts the screen ahead of other high end laptops like the Razer Blade and Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus. The laptop is rounded out by an Intel i7 quad core CPU, AMD Radeon R9 M265X, 16GB of DDR3, and 1TB hard drive.
Source: Computer World
Amazon is reportedly set to announce its first smartphone in the near future, and BGR has obtained the first pictures of the unannounced device. Amazon is hoping that a unique user experience will help to set the phone apart from others on the market. Amazon isn't breaking any new ground from an appearance standpoint, with features comparable to smartphones available from Samsung, HTC, and Apple. It is reported to use a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 2GB of RAM, and a customized version of Android. The key feature to set this phone apart is a 3D display that doesn't require the use of glasses or a special screen. A number of cameras will be used to analyze the position of the users face and eyes to adjust the screen as needed.
Silicon is a very useful material thanks to its semiconducting properties, but for some applications it has some issues. Or, more accurately, we have some issues getting it to work well for certain applications. One such application is using porous silicon to create hydrogen, but researchers at Penn State have found a solution.
Hydrogen is a very useful gas as it wants to react with a number of other elements and materials, and those reactions can release useable energy. The semiconducting properties of silicon make it well suited for generating hydrogen from water, but it will work best if the silicon is porous. Producing porous silicon is difficult and expensive though, as it requires etching away silicon, producing a lot of waste. The Penn researchers however have found a fairly quick and easy way to produce porous silicon from silicon tetrachloride, a relatively cheap silicon source. The key is to break the strong bonds between the silicon and chlorine atoms, which the researchers achieved with a sodium potassium alloy. This resulted in porous silicon with potassium chloride and sodium chloride in the pores, which could be removed with heat-treatment and water.
While porous silicon could have uses in sensors and other technologies, it can be used to produce hydrogen from water just with sunlight. When the light strikes the silicon, an electron can be excited, which causes the water to reduce and release hydrogen gas that can be captured and used as needed.
Source: Penn State
Starting today, users of Gmail on the web now have it a little bit easier when it comes to emailing photos that were taken using a smartphone. Gmail now has a dedicated icon for photo attachments, labeled as Insert Photo, which allows users of the email service to select photos that are located within Google Photos albums. Along with individual photos, full albums can be shared too, provided that they are located on Google Photos. After choosing a photo to send to email recipients, users can also resize their snapshots within the email composition window.
Users who would like to make use of the new features just have to make sure that Auto Backup is enabled and that Gmail on the web is utilized.
Source: Official Gmail Blog
LUXA2, a Taiwanese based designer and manufacturer of award winning portable accessories, has launched its new aluminum headset holder, the E-One. The E-One, which expands the LUXA2 holder solution range, is a diamond cut all aluminum headset holder that helps organize desk space and provide physical protection for headsets. The E-One prevents headband damage by using rubber along with holder that conforms to the shape of any headset. Scratches and tugged wires are also prevented with storing a headset on the E-One, and its rubber soles help the headset holder to maintain its position while in use.
The LUXA2 E-One has a suggested retail price of $34.99.
Source: Press Release
As our electronics become smaller and faster, they also become hotter, which is becoming a problem as that heat will limit performance and/or the lifespan of the device. Quite naturally researchers are working on ways to move the heat away from the circuitry more efficiently. Those at the Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Texas at Austin, and Raytheon Company have recently found a new thermal interface material (TIM) that is a bit different than you may expect.
Two of the factors that influence a TIM's efficiency are its conductance and its contact to the heat source. Many have been looking at better conductors, to move heat away faster, but the Georgia researchers decided to investigate materials that make better contact. In this case that material was a polymer. Typically polymers are insulators, but some can be made to conduct heat by adding aligned crystalline structures to them, giving the heat a path to follow. As the polymer in question, polythiophene, is a conjugated polymer, it has a high thermal stability, allowing it to survive at 200 ºC, unlike other polymers.
While the process used to make the material is not yet fully understood, the researchers are confident it can be scaled up for commercial use. It will be interesting to see how it compares to some conventional TIMs, as some of the best have only 1% contact with a device, compared to the 80% this polymer once achieved in other research. It was that research which led the Georgia researchers to consider polythiophene for this use.
Source: Georgia Institute of Technology
April 14, 2014
World of Darkness was originally revealed in 2006 as an MMORPG based on the Vampire: The Masquerade universe, with full production kicking off in 2009. But five years later, developer CCP is finally pulling the plug. The news of the cancellation comes after CEO Hilmar Petursson told Rock, Paper, Shotgun two months ago that World of Darkness would adopt an open-world, sandbox style similar to that of DayZ and Rust. Today, Petursson was singing a different tune, saying that the studio's "efforts were falling regretfully short."
World of Darkness was being produced by CCP's Atlanta office and the cancellation will result in layoffs of 56 employees, though some will be offered roles within the company. However, the Atlanta office will not be shutting down, and instead the remaining team will "focus on developing games within the Eve universe," which currently consists of Eve Online, Dust 514, and Eve Valkyrie.
Those critics that argue video games are not art, need only to watch the new trailer for Ubisoft's Child of Light. Using the proprietary UbiArt Framework, Child of Light's hand-painted environments are breathtaking. The trailer highlights the varied landscapes of the world of Lemuria.
Child of Light is releasing on April 30 for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Wii U, priced at $14.99.
Google has announced the acquisition of start-up drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace for an undisclosed amount. Google hopes to use the drone technology for "delivering Internet service to underserved areas, particularly in the developing world." The solar powered drones can stay airborne for up to five years and are currently used in applications such as search-and-rescue aid. Google said in a statement regarding the acquisition, "It's still early days, but atmospheric satellites could help bring internet access to millions of people, and help solve other problems, including disaster relief and environmental damage like deforestation."
Corsair has announced the PC Domination, Spring 2014 system building and tuning contest, running until May 5, 2014. There are a total of ten categories to compete in, offering something for all levels of systems. Available prizes include a wide range of Corsair products including mechanical keyboards, Dominator memory, cases, and liquid coolers. The primary competition categories are CPU, GPU, and system building. Further information about the contest can be found at the Corsair website.
Source: Press Release
One of the fears shared by all users of mobile electronics is running out of power, and having to wait and wait for it to recharge. For now we have few options but to keep a charger handy, get a larger battery, and/or keep a second battery ready, if possible. Researchers at Tel Aviv University and the start-up StoreDot may have a new option for the future as they have created a battery that can fully charge in 30 seconds.
This new battery uses nanodots, which are bio-organic semiconductors made of peptides and have special electrochemical properties. By adding them to a battery they can increase both electrode capacity and electrolyte performance. Being organic and natural, they can also be produced very easily and cheaply. To demonstrate their capability, the researchers built a prototype battery for the Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone, and fully charged it in half a minute at a recent Microsoft conference.
While the public may be especially interested in nanodots for their batteries, they can also be used to build sensors and displays with better color reproduction. Presently the prototype charger is about the size of that for a laptop, but the researchers are working to shrink it and bring it to market for late 2016.
Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University
DrinkBox Studios, the Toronto-based indie studio behind Mutant Blobs Attack and Guacamelee!, has unveiled its latest game, Severed. While it certainly has a similar aesthetic styling to Guacamelee!, the gameplay is quite different. Severed is a first-person dungeon crawler set in a "mysterious highly stylized surreal world." The game gets its name because the heroine of the story has her arm severed and you'll gain new powers by severing the body parts of enemies and attaching them to yourself. DrinkBox is calling it a cross between Mega Man, Infinity Blade, and Mike Tyson's Punch-Out, while there's also a dose of The Legend of Zelda thrown into the mix as well.
While the influence of Mega Man is apparent with the limb-attachment, Severed also takes a Mega Man-like approach to its open-ended world design, allowing players to explore any area they want from the start. Like Mega Man, you can go down one path to try and aquire one piece of gear that will help you in another area, but if that path proves too difficult, you can switch to a different area with hopefully better results. The Infinity Blade influence comes in the form of the combat, which is first-person, gesture-based swipe attacks – yes, Severed is first and foremost designed for touchscreens. The Punch-Out influence comes from how all the enemies require different strategies and have different tells, while The Legend of Zelda influence comes in the form of how magic spells are used along with physical attacks, while also doubling as an exploration tool, such as unlocking doors.
Severed is planned for a Spring 2015 release, but the platforms have not been determined yet. Mobile devices are a given due to its touchscreen interface, while the PlayStation Vita, 3DS, and Wii U are all strong possibilities. Drinkbox will also be testing to see if the gestures can be translated to non-touch devices, including PlayStation Move, Kinect, and Project Morpheus. Drinkbox expects a roughly eight-hour experience, though it's too early to tell. Due to the non-linear, open-ended nature of the game, there should be decent replayability regardless. As the trailer above and concept screens below show, Severed may be quite the visual spectacle.
If you're curious, the music in the trailer and the original soundtrack for the game is "from Juno nominated band YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN and kulintang ensemble Pantayo."
Source: Press Release and Destructoid
Quantenna Communications has announced that sometime next year it plans to launch a new Wi-Fi chipset that will provide throughput of 10Gbps. This is possible due to a new 8x8 MIMO chipset that the company is working on, which will work with older Wi-Fi standards such as 802.11 a/b/g and n. Some of the newest routers that are currently on the market feature 3x3 MIMO chipsets, such as the Linksys WRT-1900AC that delivers 1.3Gbps, while newer 802.11ac routers that have been announced feature a 4x4 MIMO chipset, such as the ASUS RT-AC87U that delivers 1.7Gbps. The new chipset by Quantenna will bond multiple channels found on the 5GHz frequency band to provide a single channel that is 160MHz wide; current 802.11ac routers are able to achieve an 80MHz wide channel by using the same technology.
Quantenna has revealed alongside of this announcement that it does not plan to introduce any 8x8 MIMO chipsets into battery powered devices or USB Wi-Fi adapters. The company plans on the chipset being used in enterprise environments and consumer networking.
The Heartbleed security flaw, which has been one of the most influential web security issues in recent history, has hindered many websites since its initial revelation. Even though the code was supposedly an accident and not intentional, it has affected a large number of websites that make use of OpenSSL. One network provider that has been hindered by Heartbleed, Akamai, provided a patch to its systems recently that was supposed to address the security flaw entirely. The company has gone back on that claim now as Willem Pinckaers, a security researcher, has uncovered that the patch released by Akamai for its systems only addressed half of Heartbleed. According to Pinckaers, and confirmed by Akamai chief security officer Andy Ellis, the patch that was released for the Akamai network only covered three out of six critical values found in an RSA key.
In order to protect customers following this news, Akamai is rotating SSL certificates that are vulnerable. In the meantime, the company is working on a patch that will address Heartbleed in its entirety, thereby protecting one-third of the Internet's traffic that the network provider processes.
Cellulose is the most abundant organic polymer on Earth thanks to its use in plant life. This makes it a wonderful resource to use, but finding useful applications can be difficult. Researchers at Oregon State University though have found a way to convert cellulose into a carbon material that is suitable as an electrode for supercapacitors, and other technologies.
Starting with cellulose, which can be in the form of filter paper, the researchers heat it and expose it to ammonia. This causes the cellulose to convert into an N-doped nanoporous carbon membrane. The resulting membrane is actually so porous that a single gram of the material can have a surface area of roughly 2000 square meters. Large surface area is invaluable in supercapacitors, as that is where the charge builds up and is stored.
After discovering this safe, easy, and cheap process of producing the membrane, the researchers were actually surprised no one had reported finding it before. Its discovery could affect a number of technologies, but just inexpensive supercapacitors could rock the automobile world by making electric and hybrid vehicles more efficient, faster charging, and perhaps safer as well.
Source: Oregon State University
We are into the middle of April already, and we have a few items for you to check out to start the week off. The Cooler Master Elite 110 Mini-ITX case gets reviewed to see how well a small cube case can handle nearly any hardware you want to throw at it. We also have a look at the Nokia Lumia Icon on Verizon Wireless, which is the new flagship Windows Phone 8 on the carrier. Finally we have a chance for you to win a Raidmax Agusta case and RX1000-AE power supply.
Cooler Master Elite 110 Mini-ITX @ Benchmark Reviews
Verizon Wireless Nokia Lumia Icon @ LanOC Reviews
Win a Raidmax Agusta Case & RX1000-AE Power Supply @ ThinkComputers
April 12, 2014
This morning's leak is true: Firaxis Games is working on Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth, "a new science-fiction-themed entry into the award-winning Civilization series." As the cinematic announcement trailer below shows, human's time on Earth is ending, so you must embark to discover a home beyond Earth, exploring and colonizing an alien planet. Planets will be procedurally generated, and "your relationship with the [alien creatures], and your technology choices will have a profound affect on the evolution of your faction" through three affinities: Supremacy, Purity, and Harmony. Supremacy players embrace technology and build bionic commandos, Purity players preserve humanity in its current form, and Harmony players study the alien geneseed and genetically modify their people. Each affinity affects the way your faction looks, along with the structures, wonders, and units you can create.
PC Gamer interviewed two of the Beyond Earth's lead designers, Will Miller and David McDonough, providing some extensive detail on just about every aspect of the game. Everything from the different biomes to the victory conditions to the influences affecting the game design – way too much for me to write about here. If you're a fan of the Civilization series and/or Alpha Centauri, you'll definitely want to read the interview (Source 2).
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth is expected to arrive on PC this fall!
Source: PC Gamer  and 
Unveiled during Microsoft's E3 2013 Press Conference, Capybara Games' BELOW was initially thought to be an Xbox One exclusive. However, a couple days ago, Capy unveiled that it'll now be hitting Steam as well. BELOW is a Roguelike exploration game played from a unique top-down perspective using tilt-shift photography. The Roguelike nature means randomly generated environments, brutal difficulty, and permanent death. Not much else is known just yet, but apparently there will be some sort of multiplayer aspect even though it's a largely single-player game. Capy is best known for Critter Crunch and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP.
The reveal that the game would be coming to Steam was done rather unceremoniously via a new video and a simple Steam logo on the official site.
There is no ETA as to when the game will arrive on Steam and Xbox One, but a demo will be playable at PAX East this weekend.
Source: Capybara Games and Official Site