OCC TECH NEWS
Alright folks, it's December, which means OverclockersClub's Christmas Contest is under way! It is starting a bit later this year because our head honcho, Bosco, hasn't been feeling too great, but nevertheless our Christmas Contest has arrived. We have a ton of great prizes to give away this year, with cases, memory, solid state drives, flash drives, CPU coolers, fans, and oh so much more to give out. Prizes from Thermaltake, Kingston, BitFenix, OCZ, DimasTech, Corsair, REEVEN, Tesoro, be quiet!, Phanteks, XTracGear, and Patriot are all up for grabs, and we're even throwing in some games from yours truly.
All you need to do to enter is send an email to [email protected] (subject of "OCC 2014 Christmas Contest") with your user name; full system specifications; and full contact information, which includes your name, mailing address, and phone number. Your email must have all those elements to it or else you'll be disqualified, so be sure everything is correct before hitting send. The contest is open worldwide and to everyone, including OCC staff.
The OCC 2014 Christmas Contest runs until December 31, so be sure to get your entries in by then! Good luck to everyone who enters, and a very happy holidays from all of us at OCC.
December 17, 2014
NVIDIA has just released the latest beta of its GeForce Game Ready drivers, version 347.09. The latest drivers, which of course do not feature WHQL certification due to being in a beta state, include a number of performance improvements for Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and Elite: Dangerous, and also include a GeForce Experience application profile for Project: Cars. Version 347.09 beta of the GeForce Game Ready drivers also includes PhysX System Software version 9.14.0702 and GeForce Experience 18.104.22.168.
The NVIDIA GeForce 347.09 Beta Game Ready drivers are available for immediate download from the NVIDIA website.
Dish has revealed that it has integrated Netflix into the Hopper, officially making the company the first pay-TV provider within the United States to offer Netflix through its exclusive DVR. While this announcement certainly does nothing for cord cutters, it does help individuals who do not currently own a smart television or a dedicated streaming device but still want access to Netflix, the world’s leading subscription service for television episodes and movies. Dish customers can now access Netflix through the Hopper by simply pushing the blue button on their Dish remote, then selecting the Netflix icon. In the future, according to Dish, content featured on Netflix "could be integrated into the search functionality across live, recorded, and Video On Demand programs for both the Hopper as well as Dish’s forthcoming OTT service."
ASUSTOR, a leading innovator and provider of network storage solutions, has just announced the launch of its 50T and 51T series NAS devices. The latest high performance NAS devices from ASUSTOR, which are comprised of models AS5002T, AS5004T, AS5102T, and AS5104T, provide a comprehensive storage solution for technology enthusiasts. The 50T series includes an Intel Celeron 2.41GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of DDR3L RAM, while the 51T series features an Intel Celeron 2.0GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of DDR3L RAM. All models within the 50T and 51T series include three SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, two USB 2.0 ports, two eSATA ports, one HDMI 1.4a port, and one S/PDIF port. Additionally, all models include an infrared receiver, support for RAID volume management, and support for hard disk hot swapping and online RAID migration.
The ASUSTOR 50T and 51T, which are currently only available in two and four-bay models, come with a three-year warranty and can be purchased from global retailers immediately. According to ASUSTOR, eight and 10-bay models of the 50T and 51T will launch in the near future.
Source: Press Release
Ubisoft has begun rolling out the fourth patch for Assassin's Creed: Unity to Xbox One and PS4 gamers, with PC gamers getting the update later this week. The patch targets frame rate issues and weighs in at a whopping 6.7GB as it "involves replacing and updating portions of the Paris city map where we are seeing issues. This explains the large size of this title update (6.7 GB). However, since a large portion of the patch replaces existing files the net increase to the game's overall size will be less than 6.7 GB." The Dead Kings expansion and Club Competitions continue to be put off while Ubisoft works on getting the game to work properly. Some Xbox One users have found that they have to download a 40GB update rather than the announced 6.7GB update. Ubisoft has confirmed the problem stating, "Unfortunately, an issue with the patch downloading process is replacing the entire game instead of just the parts affected by the patch. This is obviously not the expected behavior, and we apologize that many of you will have to wait longer than expected to complete this download."
Central to our myriad of devices are semiconductor junctions that transfer charge between materials. To do so efficiently, only certain pairs of materials can be used and their crystalline structures must be properly aligned. At least that is what we thought was the case, but researchers at North Carolina State University have found an exception to this rule that could have powerful implications.
What the researchers found is that the crystalline-structure restrictions do not appear to apply to 2D semiconducting materials. When they stacked a layer of molybdenum sulfide and a layer of tungsten sulfide, they found that the stack was as efficient at transferring charge when the layers were randomly stacked as when they were precisely aligned. Though only these two materials were worked with, the researchers believe this may apply to all 2D semiconductors.
Considering how expensive and difficult it is to precisely stack these layers, finding it is not necessary could drop the cost of many technologies.
Source: North Carolina State University
The middle of the week is upon us, with several items for you to check out. We have a review on the AMD Radeon R7 240GB SSD, which looks to stay competitive with the likes of OCZ and others. There is also a look at the SilverStone SX600-G SFX 600W power supply, which is a small form factor model that comes with an ATX attachment place so it can work in style and size of case. The ROCCAT Tyon gaming mouse gets put to the test to see if its 8200DPI laser sensor, configurable LED lighting, and 12 programmable buttons can find a home on your desk. For those in need of a new laptop, perhaps the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, with its unique hinge and powerful components, is the one for you. Lastly, since it is the holiday season, we have a wish list of products to consider.
AMD Radeon R7 240GB SSD @ Madshrimps
SilverStone SX600-G SFX 600W @ PC Perspective
ROCCAT Tyon Gaming Mouse @ Benchmark Reviews
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro @ TechSpot
ThinkComputers Holiday 2014 Staff Wish List @ ThinkComputers
Some of the best things in life do not come easily, and that is also true of materials science. Every now and then though, new discoveries can make things easy. Researchers at Rice University have recently found a way to very efficiently produce graphene using a laser and an inexpensive plastic.
Graphene is an atom-thick sheet of carbon that looks like chicken-wire, because of how the atoms arrange themselves into hexagons. At least that is the case for pure graphene. The laser-induced graphene (LIG) the Rice researchers created is actually a 20 micron-thick foam comprised of graphene flakes, filled with defects. These defects though, rings made of five and seven carbon atoms, are actually good in this instance because they can hold electrons. This makes it an ideal material for use in microsupercapacitors, which could one day come to replace batteries with high energy densities and great charge and discharge rates. Even after 9000 charge cycles, the prototype supercapacitors did not suffer significant degradation.
Making the LIG was as simple as firing a laser at polyimide flexible plastic sheets, which is called Kapton and can purchased in huge rolls. The laser writing process itself can be done in air and at room temperature, so the process could be easily scaled up for mass production and even integrated into a roll-to-roll manufacturing.
Source: Rice University
December 16, 2014
Google and Verizon have entered into a partnership that will allow the two companies to share patents in an effort to "reduce the risk of future patent litigation." The deal that the companies have entered into takes the shape of a "long-term patent cross-license agreement covering a broad range of products and technologies." Head of Patent Transactions at Google Kirk Dailey described the arrangement saying, "This cross license allows both companies to focus on delivering great products and services to consumers around the world. We're pleased to enter into this agreement with an industry leader like Verizon, and we welcome discussions with any company interested in a similar arrangement."
Source: Market Watch
Take Two has released a trailer teasing the upcoming addition of heist missions to Grand Theft Auto Online. Heist missions had previously been restricted to single player mode and the addition of heists to online mode took longer than initially expected. GTA Online producer Imran Sarwar described the delay saying "One of the challenges is that unlike a heist in Story Mode, every player needs to feel central to the action at all times, and that’s much more challenging than it appears." Heists will be organized by a heist leader and will see varying levels of teamwork as "some missions have all players working as one unit, some require players to take on specific tasks like hacking or crowd control, while others require players to split into smaller teams to complete separate high value objectives."
Source: PC Gamer
Metal alloys are crucial to our daily lives as so much is dependent on the various properties, from corrosion protection to improved strength, of those composite materials. Currently many are investigating high-entropy alloys, which are comprised of five or more metals, with roughly equally distributions. These materials can have very desirable properties, and researchers at North Carolina State University and Qatar University have recently found one with the highest known strength-to-weight ratio of all metals.
This new alloy is made of lithium, magnesium, titanium, aluminum, and scandium. It has a low density, comparable to aluminum, but its strength comes in above that of titanium alloys. Such a combination is obviously very powerful, with its strength-to-weight ratio matching that of some ceramics, without the brittleness. We could potentially see this alloy being used in vehicles and prosthetics.
More work still needs to be done to understand the alloy's characteristics, and how to best process it. The researchers also want to see if the scandium could be replaced or removed, as it is a very expensive metal.
Source: North Carolina State University
MSI, one of the world's largest information technology manufacturers, has released a full-height Radeon R5 230 graphics card. The latest graphics card from MSI, model R5230-1GD3H, features a red PCB with a single-slot, passive heatsink that cools both the GPU and the memory. The Radeon R5 230 features 1GB of 64-bit DDR3 memory clocked at 1GHz, 160 stream processors, and GPU core clock speeds of 625MHz. The outputs featured on the MSI R5230-1GD3H include dual-link DVI, HDMI 1.4a, and D-Sub. Although specific pricing was not released by MSI, the Radeon R5 230 is expected to cost under $50 once it arrives at retailers.
Amazon has announced that HBO GO is now available on its streaming media set-top box, the Fire TV, and that support for the service is coming to its Fire TV Stick this spring. HBO GO subscribers who utilize Amazon Fire TV now have instant and unlimited access to every episode of every season of the best HBO shows, movies, comedy, sports, and documentaries. According to Amazon, "HBO has produced some of the most groundbreaking and award-winning TV shows and movies, and we are excited to bring this amazing content to our customers, all of which is accessible via voice search on your Fire TV remote." Unfortunately, Comcast and Charter are not supporting HBO GO on Amazon Fire TV at this time, and customers who find that they do not have access to the service are being urged to contact Comcast and Charter for information on availability.
Source: The Verge
Bose, a leading audio manufacturer, is apparently looking to build and launch its own streaming music service in the near future. The news comes after the company posted a job opening on its corporate website, which states that Bose is actively looking for a Senior User Experience Designer of Cloud Music Services. According to the job opening, the individual who fulfills this position will "lead design and prototyping of our next generation streaming music platform and ecosystem of products." Bose also lists within the posting that "We will move quickly and have an immediate and lasting impact on Bose’s streaming music products."
While it is not yet known how Bose will market its own streaming music service, the company faces a large amount of competition from other high-end services such as Deezer Elite, Neil Young's Pono, and TIDL.
Protecting our identities and credit cards has become ever more important over the years, especially as we hear about large-scale security breaches. There are many new technologies that offer improved protection, like smart cards, but they still have flaws. As reported in Optica researchers in the Netherlands have developed Quantum-Secure Authentication, which leverages quantum mechanics to protect credit cards, and could be tamper proof.
Instead of relying on a magnetic strip or chip to store information, QSA uses nanoparticles painted onto a card. These nanoparticles will scatter any light that strikes them, creating a pattern, but it is not just any, normal light source used here. The photons have to be quantum in nature, so that they can enter a superposition as a result of the nanoparticles. Superposition is a quantum mechanical phenomenon whereby one object can exist in multiple, mutually exclusives states at the same time, such as being in multiple places at the same time. If the superposition is observed, such as to copy it, the pattern collapses, making it impossible to learn what the pattern was, and later reproduce it. Also, because superposition is used, fewer the photons can be used to scan the card, potentially just one, which lends to the method's security.
Another advantage to Quantum-Secure Authentication is that it is already realistic, because the technology it uses is simple and cheap. This could help it be adopted in credit cards and much more, such as ID cards for entering buildings and even cars.
Source: The Optical Society
December 15, 2014
Hacking group Guardians of Peace are responsible for the large scale hacking and information release targeted at Sony. Targets have included personal employee data, unreleased movies, and the PlayStation Network. The group has already released 200 GB of data and is planning to release an even larger and more damaging set of information as part of a "Christmas present." The group detailed the upcoming leak saying, "The gift will be larger quantities of data. And it will be more interesting. The gift will surely give you much more pleasure and put Sony Pictures into the worst state. Please send an email titled by ‘Merry Christmas’ at the addresses below to tell us what you want in our Christmas gift." The hackers have also reached out to Sony employees, giving them an opportunity to opt out of having their information released by sending an e-mail to the group.
Google has announced the first pair of services to integrate with the Nest thermostat, acquired about a year ago. Voice control has been added through the Google app, giving users the ability to set the temperature through any device that has the app. Google Now support has also been added, and will start to heat or cool your home while you are on the way so it is at your desired temperature upon your arrival. It will be interesting to see what other services Google will be able to integrate with the Nest thermostat.
One of the many uses of modern, mobile electronics is for fitness tracking, like measuring steps and how far someone has run. What has not quite made it to mobile devices is pulse and blood-oxygen saturation levels, because the technology needed for measuring the latter is both rigid and expensive. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley however have developed a new device that uses flexible organic electronics, which can be significantly cheaper.
The conventional monitoring devices work by measuring the amount of red and infrared light that passes through a finger or earlobe. Oxygen-rich blood cells absorb infrared light, while oxygen-poor cells absorb red light. By measuring the variances over time, it is possible to get the person's pulse. Instead of using infrared light, the Berkeley device uses green light, from a green OLED deposited on a piece of plastic, along with a red OLED and light sensors. It turns out that the absorption difference between red and green light is comparable to that of red and infrared light, so this approach is still viable.
One of the advantages to organic electronics is their flexible nature, which enables this monitoring device to conform to the user's body. Also they are so cheap that they could be disposable, like adhesive bandages are, after use.
Source: University of California, Berkeley
A new week is upon us, with plenty of items to dive into to start it off right. There is a review on the In Win D-Frame Mini case, which is a Mini-ITX version of the rather unique case. We also have the Cougar 700K mechanical gaming keyboard, with its macro keys and backlighting that is sure to help it find a home. The MSI GT72 2QE Dominator Pro gaming laptop gets put to the test to see if it should be your new desktop replacement. If you are in need of a new phone, there's a comparison of the Droid Turbo and Moto X 2014. We have a few other items as well, with an article examining the different type of mechanical keyboard switches, another looking back at some of the more memorable overclocking-friendly CPUs, and a podcast.
In Win D-Frame Mini @ ThinkComputers
Cougar 700K Mechanical Keyboard @ Benchmark Reviews
MSI GT72 2QE Dominator Pro Gaming Notebook @ PC Perspective
Droid Turbo vs Moto X 2014 @ LanOC Reviews
Mechanical Keyboard Switches Explained and Compared @ PC Perspective
Most Memorable Overclocking-Friendly CPUs @ TechSpot
Podcast #329 @ PC Perspective
Indiegogo, the largest global fundraising site that helps individuals, businesses, and non-profits raise money online to make any idea a reality through crowdfunding, has announced that it has removed its fees for personal fundraising. While Indiegogo generally charges a fee of 4 percent to campaigns that reach their target, those crowdfunding for volunteer efforts and worthy causes can now keep all of the money raised. Users of Indiegogo Life can set up campaigns that are focused on animals, celebrations, education, emergencies, faith, medical needs, memorials, sports, and volunteer efforts, and keep all of the funds that are raised due to the removal of fees previously charged by Indiegogo.
Microsoft has officially released a patch that removes the faulty KB3004394 update, which was pushed to the public on December 10 through Windows Update. The problematic update does not affect Windows 8 and 8.1 users, but causes various issues for Windows 7 users, including the inability to install programs, Windows Defender launch failures, various errors with User Account Control, and problems with running VirtualBox. The KB3004394 update may even prevent Windows 7 users from installing future updates released by Microsoft. Users of Windows 7 are being urged to download the latest patch which will remove the faulty KB3004394 update automatically, or to uninstall it from their machines manually.
Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, has noted that the social network is actively looking at options that would allow users to sympathize with a post that someone makes, such as when a sad event occurs. According to Zuckerberg, "Giving people the power to do that in more ways with more emotions would be powerful, but we need to figure out the right way to do it so it ends up being a force for good, not a force for bad and demeaning the posts that people are putting out there." The news come from a public question and answer session in Menlo Park, where Zuckerberg expressed the ability to vote on a post, labeling it good or bad, simply is not socially valuable and does not help Facebook users share the important events that occur in their lives. It was also noted within the event that Facebook has long considered adding a "Dislike" button for its users, but has ultimately decided to simply keep the "Like" button for now due to the reasons aforementioned.
Source: USA Today
Sometimes when humans talk to each other, we miss a word or two, but that is okay because we can often still interpret the meaning. Computers however lack that ability, so a single bit being off can destroy the meaning of a message. Researchers at MIT however, have developed a theory that could protect against just that.
Part of the reason human communication can miss some words is because we are good at figuring out the minimum amount of information required for meaningful communication, given the context. For computers this would be compression, and it can be achieved with the sender and receiver sharing a codebook, in which possible messages are assigned a unique code. While the complete code is needed to be certain of what the message is, there is a minimum number of symbols needed to accurately guess at the complete message, using probabilities. This new theory allows for the sender and receiver to still communicate even if they disagree on these probabilities, and even if their codebooks are slightly different.
With this theory, it may be possible to devise new communication protocols that are more flexible and reliable than modern ones.
December 14, 2014
Last month, NeocoreGames added Cooperative Mode to the Steam Early Access version of its tower-defense, action-RPG hybrid Deathtrap. Now the studio is releasing a series of videos focusing on various features in the game, and it decided to start with one of the cornerstones: Traps.
Deathtrap is available via Steam Early Access for $19.99. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions will come at a later, undisclosed date.
Source: Press Release
Flying Wild Hog's kid-friendly, side-scrolling platformer JUJU has arrived on PC (via Steam), PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. But just because it's bright, colorful, and filled with likeable cartoon characters, don't go thinking it's just for kids. If the studio's previous games, Hard Reset and Shadow Warrior, are any indication, be prepared for some challenging puzzles and combat. JUJU is a game for adults that just happens to be great to play alongside a child. Of course no release would be complete without a launch trailer, and Flying Wild Hog has graced us with two: Water World and Candy World.
JUJU is priced $19.99 for PC and $14.99 for consoles, with a 10% discount on Steam, dropping the price to $17.99. There's also a Deluxe Edition on Steam priced at $26.99 after the 10% discount, which includes the base game, digital artbook, and original soundtrack in 320kbps CBR MP3 and FLAC formats.
Source: Press Release
First-person puzzler The Talos Principle has arrived on Steam with a 10% discount available until December 18, dropping the price to $35.99 from $39.99. While developer Croteam is best known for the over-the-top first-person shooter series Serious Sam, it seems the studio hit it out of the park with The Talos Principle, garnering strong praise from critics and gamers alike. Of course, no release would be complete without an Official Launch Trailer:
A free companion mini-game called Sigils of Elohim is also available on Steam, iOS, and Android, allowing players to unlock items for The Talos Principle.
Source: Press Release
December 12, 2014
Many people would tell you that a distraction makes it harder to study, as your attention is split. While that makes sense, it is only half the story as one must also recall what is learned. Researchers at Brown University decided to investigate how distractions influence learning and recalling, and an interesting discovery.
For their study, the researchers had 48 volunteers reach for targets on a computer screen, while the virtual world would bend by 45º. Some of the volunteers were also asked to count symbols as they move across the screen, while others were told to just ignore them. When asked to demonstrate the reaching skills they learned, some were also asked to count the symbols again. This experiment found that the group that never experienced the symbols recalled the task the best, as did those that experienced the highest number of symbols at both the learning and recalling stages. Those who experienced any other combination, such as seeing the symbols at one stage but not the other, did worse. A second study with 50 subjects indicated that the distractions do not need to be identical, but just to the same degree.
More work is now being done to better understand how attention can influence learning, but already some applications are being predicted. The researchers believe rehabilitation techniques could benefit from this, as patients learning to walk will one day be walking in areas full of distractions.
Source: Brown University
It is the end of the week, with a few items to help you start the weekend off right. There is a review of the AORUS Thunder M7 MMO gaming mouse, which features sixteen programmable buttons, an 8200DPI laser sensor, and Omron switches for durable performance. We also have a look at the E-CEROS Revolution 2, with its 2048x1536 IPS, 9.7" touchscreen. Wrapping up this week is a case mod that takes an Xbox 360 case and turns it into a full-fledged gaming PC, without any gear sticking out.
AORUS Thunder M7 MMO Gaming Mouse @ Benchmark Reviews
E-CEROS Revolution 2 @ Madshrimps
Case Mod Friday: Ex-Box PC @ ThinkComputers
Last September, Microsoft held an incredibly limited attendance event at which it pulled the wraps off Windows 10, its latest operating system that is currently under development. The event was mainly focused on business applications and experiences, though many interesting features were revealed to the technology industry during the unveiling. Microsoft has announced that a second event for Windows 10 is coming soon, which will focus more on the consumer experience, according to an individual familiar with the plans of the company. The event, titled "Windows 10: The next chapter," will take place on January 21, 2015 and will be held in Redmond, Washington.
According to Internet Retailer, Apple is the second largest online retailer in the United States. As such, it only makes sense that Apple has just announced that it is now accepting PayPal through its online retail store, which is good news for customers, since previously the company only accepted PayPal payments through its application and content stores. Apple is even promoting the ability to pay for an item in equal monthly installments over a maximum of 18 months with no interest, through a program known as PayPal Credit. The availability of paying with PayPal through Apple’s online store is being offered to residents of the United States and the United Kingdom.