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 18, 2014
Google is extending a try-on program to select potential customers for its Google Glass devices. Users that wish to test the glasses before spending $1,500 to own a pair can receive a try-on kit that includes Google Glass devices in multiple colors with the caveat that the devices are non-functional. The kit is purely to evaluate how the glasses will look and feel. Google will place a $50 hold on your credit card that will be returned when the units are returned within 10 days.
Source: 9 to 5 Google
It's not often that a four-year-old game gets new DLC, but that's exactly the case with the music-fueled arcade shooter Beat Hazard. Beat Hazard already had endless replayability thanks to a plethora of modes and each song providing a different experience, but the new Shadow Operations Unit DLC takes it even further. Not only does the DLC add nine new ships, each with different firing patterns and abilities, but it also adds the ability to import your own designs! Simply import any .png file for the ship art and then use the in-game editor to craft your ship, even setting up "Shadow Missions" to challenge friends. Using Steam Workshop, you can upload your creation for others to use or download new ships that others have uploaded.
Even if you don't feel like creating your own or downloading other creations, the nine new ships offer a slew of new gameplay styles to try out. Detailed in the images below, the nine ships are Razorburn, Dragon Fire, Speedy, Star Runner, Mosquito, Juggernaut, The Collector, Slick, and Death Blossom. Aside from each one playing differently, they also each have three Shadow Missions to complete and their own separate leaderboards.
Beat Hazard: Shadow Operations Unit has already released on Steam with a special promotional 10% discount through April 24, making it just $4.49 instead of the usual $4.99. The Beat Hazard Mega Bundle, which contains the base game, Ultra DLC, iTunes & m4a file support, and the new Special Operations Unit DLC is currently a Daily Deal, going for $8.49 (50% Off). If you have any interest in twin-stick shooters, I highly recommend you pick it up.
Source: Press Release and Steam
We have arrived at the end of another week, complete with several items for you to check out before the weekend hits in full. There's a review on the AMD A10-7850K Kaveri APU, which sees if it could be the new king when it comes to integrated graphics. We also have a look at the BitFenix Comrade mid-tower case to see how the company's budget entry fares. Kingston's DataTraveler microDuo gets put to the test on both PCs and mobile devices, thanks to its full sized and micro USB ports. Lastly we have a look at some of the best laptops around for productivity, since there are times when it's good to get work done instead of gaming.
AMD A10-7850K Kaveri @ LanOC Reviews
BitFenix Comrade Mid-Tower @ Benchmark Reviews
Kingston DataTraveler microDuo USB Drive @ ThinkComputers
Best Laptops for Productivity @ ThinkComputers
Last week, publisher Focus Home Interactive released a combat trailer for Spiders' fantasy RPG Bound by Flame, which explained that the game's protagonist is a mercenary possessed by a Flame Demon with access to three skill trees: Warrior, Ranger, and Pyromancer. What it didn't explain was that you can customize said hero right from the start, choosing the "gender (which will affect some of the dialog, particularly with companions and potential romances), facial features, ethnicity and hairstyles." In addition, as touched upon in the aforementioned trailer, you'll also be able to find and craft armor to further change your appearance throughout the game, even down to minute details like shoulder pads and knee pads.
Lastly, the choices you make during the game can affect your appearance as well, particularly whether you accept or reject your Flame Demon's influence. Perform heroic actions, rejecting the inner demon, and you'll maintain some humanity. Allow yourself to be consumed by the demon's will and you'll become increasingly demonic and less human. The screenshots below show that these changes can be quite drastic.
Bound by Flame will be launching May 9, 2014, on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
Source: Press Release
For untold eons, humanity has wondered if we are alone in the Universe. Though we have not yet found alien life, we have been looking for places it may reside. Recently researchers from multiple institutions have found the first Earth-sized planet within the habitable zone of its sun.
The habitable zone covers the range of orbits about a star where the temperature is not too cold to freeze water into ice, or boil it off. Naturally our interest in the habitable zones come from the reliance life on Earth has on liquid water and an assumption that other life in the Universe also requires it. The host star for this planet is Kepler-186, the planet is named Kepler-186f, and both are located 500 light years away in the constellation Cygnus. The star is actually an M1-type dwarf star, which makes it cooler than the Sun, and is over five hundred thousand times dimmer than the stars we can see with the naked eye. It also has other planets in its orbit, these are much closer to it though and therefore much hotter.
Finding the planet required putting multiple observatories to work, including the Kepler spacecraft and the two terrestrial telescopes, Gemini North and Keck II. Kepler detected the planet by measuring the small dip in brightness it causes as it transits in front of the star. As many objects could cause such dimming, the other telescopes were employed to closely examine the system within 400 million miles of the star, to ensure that only a planet in the habitable zone could be the cause. Combining the data with calculations gives the researchers 99.98% confidence in this conclusion.
Source: Gemini Observatory
April 17, 2014
The OpenSSL security flaw known as Heartbleed has been one of the most influential web security issues in recent history. The flaw may now affect the Tor network, the popular secure networking service, thereby reducing its total operating capacity. Nodes that are affected by Heartbleed could cause a compromise within Tor, allowing an attacker to view information that relates directly to Tor. One of the initial developers of Tor, Roger Dingledine, has suggested that the nodes that are affected by Heartbleed be kicked off of the secure network. If this suggestion is implemented, Tor would lose roughly 12 percent of its exit and guard capacity.
As of now, no action has been taken to remove the Tor nodes that are affected by Heartbleed.
Source: the Guardian
Facebook has announced a new feature that is coming to mobile devices for users of the social networking service. The new feature, titled Nearby Friends, allows Facebook users to see when friends are physically near them, allowing individuals to meet up for conversation or events. Nearby Friends can provide a precise location between Facebook users, making it easy to locate others that are close by. While the feature itself must be enabled by both parties in order for it to work properly, Facebook users can set which friends are able to see if they are nearby. The feature is optional and can be turned on and off at any time however.
Nearby Friends will be available for Android and iOS users located in the United States within the coming weeks.
Source: Facebook Newsroom
The latest version of the popular Linux distro Ubuntu, 14.04 LTS, is available as of today. The long term support version known as Trusty Tahr will be supported by Canonical for five years and features a number of improvements. Among the included features are the use of Linux Kernel 3.13, LibreOffice 4.2.3, and an improved interface for the Unity UI. Canonical CEO Jane Silber added "the 14.04 LTS release offers a solid, intuitive experience which is easy to manage. It is a viable and affordable alternative for those organisations considering a switch from Microsoft, and specifically those replacing XP or Windows 7 as they come to the end of life".
Source: Beta News
Ars Technica has published some research it did into the habits of Steam users in a report called Steam Gauge. Ars collected public data to analyze the playing and purchasing habits and some of the findings should be of no surprise to anyone that has experienced a Steam sale. The study found that 37% of games owned on Steam have never been loaded, remaining unplayed and in the users backlog. I would estimate that I personally have at least 100 games that I have yet to play, all the result of Steam sales and Humble Bundles. The data was compiled using some PHP/MySQL coding, an Amazon EC2 server, and public Steam profiles. The top two most owned games were the free to play Valve titles Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2 with 25.93 million and 20.30 million users, respectively. For more on the study follow the link below.
Source: Ars Technica
Bulk metallic glasses are curious materials that can possess great strength while being very durable and can take on shapes typical metals cannot. Finding metallic glasses is a long process though as it involves creating and testing each one. Researchers at Yale University however have combined two techniques that can dramatically speed up this process from one material a day to almost 3000.
Bulk metallic glasses are special alloys, often made of three or more elements that have been heated and cooled in such a way as to cause their molecular structures to be disordered. This results in the material having special properties that can be very valuable. Only being able to find one a day though limits their potential though, but with parallel blow forming and combinatorial sputtering, that should change. Parallel blow forming is a process that creates bubbles in alloys, which can be used to measure pliability while combinatorial sputtering though is a way to produce thousands of alloys all at once. Together the researchers are able test thousands of alloys at once, immensely speeding up the process.
With traditional methods, it is estimated that testing all 20 million possible bulk metallic glasses would take 4000 years, but with this method the work could be completed in just four. Those metallic glasses already discovered are used in sporting goods like watches and golf clubs, but metallic glasses could have applications in biomedical technologies, such as implants, as well as consumer electronics.
Source: Yale University
This past weekend, the EU Facebook page for TECMO KOEI Games casually posed the question, "How many of you are a PC gamer here? #TKfamily". Of course this lead to hundreds of fans asking for everything from Ninja Gaiden to Dead or Alive to Dynasty Warriors to be brought to PC. It now seems that KOEI wasn't simply posing a question, but rather teasing a future announcement. Today, KOEI announced that Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition will be coming to Steam next month, with US and EU regions specified.
The Complete Edition, which includes the original version and the Xtreme Legends expansion, is currently available on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. While there's no PC trailer (yet?), you can watch the PlayStation Launch Trailer courtesy of GameSpot:
Source: TECMO KOEI America
Deep Silver and Piranha Bytes have released a teaser trailer for the upcoming RPG Risen 3: Titan Lords. While it's purely cinematic, it does show a much darker and gritty theme than Risen 2, which should be welcome to those somewhat disappointed with that game's pirate theme.
Risen 3: Titan Lords is set to release in August 2014 for Windows PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
Source: Official Site
Last week, Cyanide Studios posted a developer blog entry discussing Styx: Master of Shadows' titular protagonist. Today, publisher Focus Home Interactive released four new screenshots from the game, highlighting some stealth and climbing abilities of our goblin anti-hero. In the first screenshot, we see Styx hiding around a corner waiting to strike a large troll. The second screenshot shows him scaling high above a crowd after presumably dispatching an enemy. Taking a cue from other stealth games like Splinter Cell, Styx can carry lifeless bodies away to hide them where they won't be seen, as shown in the third screenshot. And the fourth screenshot – well, I'm not sure what to make of that. Maybe Styx has a gentler side, or maybe that cute little chick is about to be his next meal.
Styx: Master of Shadows is currently in development for PC with an expected release date of this year.
Source: Press Release
An immense amount of energy pours onto the surface of the Earth from the Sun every day, so naturally we are trying to find ways to harness it. In the future it may be that our windows will be converting some of that energy into electricity. Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have recently developed a special quantum dot that addresses one issue preventing those windows from becoming a reality.
Quantum dots are nanoscale semiconductor crystals that can be tuned to have specific optical properties. By adding them to glass a luminescent solar concentrator (LSC) can be created, as the dots will absorb some of the light that passes through the window and then re-emit it as a different color. This light will then travel through the glass until it reaches a solar panel at the edge, which converts it into electricity. One of the issues with such an LSC is that the quantum dots will absorb some of the light they emit, which causes some energy to be lost. The LANL researchers addressed this by creating quantum dots with separated components for absorption and emission. This allows it to emit a color of light that the dots will not absorb.
When tested the LSC the researchers built demonstrated almost no energy loss due to re-absorption. It also achieved a good harvesting efficiency of 10% of photons that could be absorbed, without compromising the sample's transparency.
Source: Los Alamos National Laboratory
April just keeps moving right along, and luckily we have several reviews to keep up with it. There's a look at the SilverStone Raven Z RVZ01 mini-ITX case, which could be the perfect stealth case for a fully equipped gaming PC. We have a couple different CPU coolers to check out too, like the Noctua NH-U12S and the Raijintek Pallas. Both are on the smaller side of air coolers, although the Raijintek certainly qualifies as low profile. Finally the Kingwin KF-252-BK internal hard drive hot swap rack gets put to the test, which could be an inexpensive means to adding some hot swap drives to your system.
SilverStone Raven Z RVZ01 Mini-ITX @ TechSpot
Noctua NH-U12S @ LanOC Reviews
Raijintek Pallas Low Profile @ Frostytech
Kingwin KF-252-BK Internal Hard Drive Hot Swap Rack @ Tweaknews
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 protect 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