OCC TECH NEWS
July 14, 2014
Over two centuries ago, on July 14, 1789, French Revolutionaries laid siege to the medieval fortress, the Bastille, in what is now commonly referred to as the Storming of the Bastille. That action marked the unofficial beginning of the French Revolution and eventually led to the unity of the French Nation. A year later, the new nation held the Fête de la Fédération to commemorate the anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille and the unity of the French people, which literally translates to "Celebration of the Federation." Since then, July 14 has been known as French National Day, or Bastille Day to us English folk.
To honor the occasion, Ubisoft has released not one, but two new trailers for Assassin's Creed Unity, which if you don't know, takes place in 18th century Paris during the French Revolution. The first trailer is CGI, providing a look "Inside The Revolution", while the second trailer is a "Revolution Gameplay Trailer".
Assassin's Creed Unity will release on October 28, 2014, for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Source: Press Release
For probably as long as humans have been able to look up and see other planets, we have been wondering how the planets came to be. For Venus and Earth it is generally accepted that they formed as the result of smaller objects colliding and coalescing into the planets we know today, but what about Mercury? The nearest planet to the Sun has some curious properties to it, including a very high concentration of iron, and now researchers at Arizona State University have an explanation for why.
Of the terrestrial planets in the Solar System, Mercury has the greatest concentration of metallic iron, with 65% of its mass being its iron core, compared to Earth's core making up 32% of its total mass. Also Mercury has a great many volatiles on it, such as water, lead, and sulfur, even compared to the Moon. This is particularly confusing as it indicates that the planet likely did not suffer a giant impact in the past, even though such an event would explain its lack of a mantle. The Arizona researchers though suggest that while Mercury never suffered a giant impact, like Earth and Venus did, it likely suffered many smaller, glancing impacts, which stripped off its core little by little.
The idea of glancing impacts is not new, but had always been discounted before, as the belief was that the object would be caught gravitationally, and ultimate be devoured by the larger body; proto-Venus or proto-Earth. According to the new theory and model though, glancing blows do not necessarily doom a body, and multiple could actually help preserve the dominate survivor of these impacts.
Source: Arizona State University
July keeps rolling right along, and today brings a few items for you to check out to start off the week. There is a look at the AMD Athlon 5350 and Gigabyte GA-AM1M-S2H motherboard combo, which could be a very solid option for those needing an entry level computer. We also have a review on the OCZ Vector 150 120GB SSD, and while it may be the low man on the Vector totem pole, it's still a Vector SSD. Rounding things out today is the TP-LINK AC1750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit ADSL2+ modem router for those desiring their own DSL modem who do not want to skimp on the features.
AMD Athlon 5350 and Gigabyte GA-AM1M-S2H @ Benchmark Reviews
OCZ Vector 150 120GB SSD @ LanOC Reviews
TP-LINK AC1750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit ADSL2+ Modem Router @ Madshrimps
July 13, 2014
Today, at EVO 2014, Namco Bandai announced Tekken 7 alongside a Teaser Trailer. While there have been several spin-offs in the 20-year fighting game franchise, it's been five years since the last main canonical game, Tekken 6. As of now, all we know is that it's using Unreal Engine 4, but Namco Bandai promises more info at its San Diego Comic-Con Fighting Panel on July 25, including the "full version trailer." The trailer below is the English-voiced version, but the Japanese-voiced version is available too.
There was no release window stated for Tekken 7, nor any mention of platforms. Previous Tekken games launched an arcade version first prior to the home consoles, so it'll be interesting to see if this does as well.
Source: Namco Bandai
After Mortal Kombat X was officially announced last month with a reveal trailer featuring Scorpion and Sub-Zero, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and NetherRealm Studios brought the game to E3 2014, showing off not only those two characters, but also four new fighters: D'Vorah, Ferra and Torr, Cassie Cage, and Kotal Kahn. Yesterday, at EVO 2014, everyone's favorite teleporting thunder god Raiden was officially revealed. Considering he's one of the franchise's mainstays alongside Scorpion and Sub-Zero, his inclusion is not that surprising, but it's still nice to get official confirmation. Even better is that the reveal came accompanied with a gameplay trailer, showing off his three variations (each character has three versions, which alter their move set), an electrifying X-Ray move, and his head-popping Fatality.
In order of their appearance in the video, Raiden's three variations are: Thunder God, specializing in Electrocution Kombos; Displacer, specializing in Teleportation; and Storm Lord, specializing in Lightning Traps.
Mortal Kombat X will be coming to PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 in 2015. Since I never posted them before, I attached the screenshots released during E3 2014; no Raiden screenshots have been released yet.
July 12, 2014
Earlier in the week, developer WayForward announced that Shantae: Risky's Revenge - Director's Cut will be coming to Steam on July 15 for $9.99. While the indie studio divulged a new game mode called "Magic Mode", even more information on the Director's Cut has been unveiled via an official trailer. "The pixel-based masterpiece remains intact, newly augmented with HD portrait artwork and extra challenge. New illustrations, Steam Trading Cards, Achievements, Emoticons, Controller Support, fully configurable controls with controller support, and an unlockable Magic Mode with alternate costume round out the package. This Director's Cut also introduces a re-imagined Warp System, perfect for speed runners and returning players alike!" The critically acclaimed platformer is rather unique, so definitely check out the trailer if you're not familiar with it.
While the Steam store page is still not live, WayForward did post a screenshot of the system specs, which you can find below. Unsurprisingly, they're pretty low by today's standards, so most PC gamers should have no problem maxing it out.
July 11, 2014
A high-priority update for Flash Player was released by Adobe earlier this week, which addressed an exploit revealed by Google engineer Michele Spagnuolo. Apple is making sure that users of its operating system upgrade their Flash Player web plug-in to the latest version that contains this update, as the company is now blocking older versions from functioning properly. In order to make use of Adobe Flash Player once again, users must upgrade their Flash Player web plug-in to version 126.96.36.199. For individuals running systems that are incompatible with Flash Player 14, Apple is requiring that Flash Player 188.8.131.52 be installed, which also contains the update that addresses the critical vulnerability.
Source: Mac Rumors
LUXA2, a division of Thermaltake and a leader in providing power, audio and holder solutions, has announced the latest addition to its Groovy audio series known as the Groovy Duo Live Wireless Speaker. This product contains a set of appealing identical speakers that can be used individually or together, providing the option of mono and stereo sound and fitting into any environment in which the speakers are used. Each speaker packs 3W of total output, a 900mAh li-polymer battery cell that provides up to eight hours of playback, line in for wired connectivity, and wireless connectivity from up to 30 feet away. The Groovy Duo is also compatible with the Groovy Audio Center App from LUXA2, which provides users with a 5-band equalizer, global cloud radio, and a playlist library.
The LUXA2 Groovy Duo Live Wireless Speaker features an MSRP of $99.99.
Source: Press Release
According to some examples of science fiction, one day we will have the ability to read minds through technology, for better or worse. According to researchers at Cornell University, at least emotions may not be as hard to read as we thought. Analysis has revealed what appears to be the existence of a standard code for processing emotions.
Traditionally it has been believed that the brain processes emotions in certain regions, and that a positive or negative emotion depends on the region. This new research indicates a very different process that does partially rely on sensory experience. Subjects were presented with pictures and tastes while undergoing functional neuroimaging. The imaging revealed that the brain generates special, sensory-dependent codes in the appropriate regions for the senses, and in the orbitofrontal cortices. This indicates that the emotional experience is not limited to certain brain regions and may even by linked to perception.
The subjects were also asked to score their emotional responses to what was presented to them. The researchers found that those who reported similar scores also had similar activity patterns in the orbitofrontal cortices, which suggests that the code used there for experiences of pleasure and displeasure, may be shared across people.
Source: Cornell University
The second week of July is nearly at an end, but we do have some items for you to check out before the weekend hits. There is a look at five different AMD Radeon R9 280X video cards to see which one your hard-earned cash should be buying. We also have a review on the ASRock FM2A88X Extreme6+ motherboard, which looks to be a fairly well appointed motherboard for those wanting to get a new AMD Kaveri APU. If all you want is a new home for your computer, then perhaps the Corsair Graphite Series 760T full tower case is the one for you. Wrapping things up today is a podcast covering the latest news and reviews from the week.
Round-Up: 5-way Radeon R9 280X Battle @ TechSpot
ASRock FM2A88X Extreme6+ @ Benchmark Reviews
Corsair Graphite 760T @ PC Perspective
Podcast #308 @ PC Perspective
July 10, 2014
Want your very own Evolve figurines? Well all you have to do is print them yourself. Instead of partnering with a third party manufacturer and making some extra coin, developer Turtle Rock decided to take a rather unique approach and provide 3D print files for free on its website for every revealed hunter and monster in the game. On each hunter and monster's page, there's now a link to grab its respective 3D file. The file is in the .STL (Standard Tessellation Language) file extension, which "dice[s] up the three-dimensional image information so the [3D] printer can easily process all the data."
If you don't own your own 3D printer, Turtle Rock provided a list of three sites that you can upload the files to at the link below. If you do decide to print them and paint them, Turtle Rock asks that you tweet a photo of them using the hashtag #4v1.
Evolve is coming to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on October 21.
Source: Official Site
CI Games announced that its upcoming third-person action-RPG Lords of the Fallen will be launching on October 28 in the United States and October 31 in Europe. The PC version is priced at £29.99 in Europe, while the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions are priced at £49.99. US pricing was not provided, but Amazon lists the console versions at $59.99, so I expect the PC version will be priced at $39.99. I sought confirmation, but have not heard back yet, nor is the Steam page live as of the time of this writing.
Along with the release date announcement came two new screenshots, which you can see attached below. The first features a giant creepy spider, while the second features the Champion boss, which was featured in the Challenge Trailer back in April.
Source: Press Release
Acer has announced a pair of Chromebooks powered by the Intel Core i3 processor, the first two to use the chips. The two Chromebooks are part of the Acer C720 series and feature 11.6" screens, 8.5 hours of battery life, 32GB of storage, and 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless. Both models use the Intel Core i3-40005U and differ only in the amount of RAM with one model using 2GB and the other 4GB. The Chromebooks are now available at a price of $349.99 for the 2GB model and $379.99 for the 4GB model.
Source: PC World
Adhesives are very useful tools, whether we are putting paintings or electronics on a surface, but sometimes we do not want to leave a residue behind or want to remove the object later. One possible solution is to apply the physics that allow geckos to walk upside-down on seemingly smooth surfaces. Researchers at Linköping University however have found that the physics involved are not permanent, and so may not be the best choice for all applications.
All molecules and atoms are attracted to each other by van der Waals forces. These are weak forces though, so you cannot expect to climb a wall just by pressing your hands against it. Geckos and spiders however have evolved special hairs that are able to get so close to a surface and with enough surface area that the van der Waals forces are able to resist gravity. The Linköping researchers decided to look into this more deeply and found that van der Waals forces do not hold indefinitely. Both the surface and the object suffer very small vibrations from molecules moving, and for the most part these are insignificant. Eventually though, these movements will fall in sync between the object and surface, which will cause them to detach from each other.
As the researchers point out, this is not a problem for geckos and other living, moving objects, but would mean you would not want to hang up anything relying on van der Waals for too long.
Source: Linköping University
Generally, Microsoft supports an operating system that it releases to consumers for a total of ten years. This support consists of mainstream support, in which Microsoft provides free security updates, non-security hot-fixes, performance enhancements, feature improvements, and design changes, as well as extended support, where the company only provides free security updates but charges for hotfix support. With Windows 7 nearing the five-year mark since it was initially released, mainstream support for the operating system is scheduled to end early next year. On January 13, 2015, all versions of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 will be moved into extended support, where the operating systems will stay until early 2020.
While performance enhancements, feature improvements, and design changes are soon to end for Windows 7, computer manufacturers are still offering the operating system to consumers and plan to continue doing so until the end of October of this year.
Android screen mirroring for Chromecast, which allows Android users to broadcast their smartphone display onto a television that has Chromecast, is a feature that was promised at Google I/O last month. As of today, Google has announced that it has brought the feature to select handsets. Currently, Android screen mirroring for Chromecast is supported on the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7 (2013), Nexus 10, Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung Galaxy S4 (Google Play Edition), Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Samsung Galaxy Note 10, HTC One M7, HTC One M7 (Google Play Edition), LG G3, LG G2, and LG G Pro 2. Users can begin screen mirroring by selecting the "Cast Screen" option through the navigation drawer within the Chromecast application.
While Google has provided the new feature to quite a bit of Android devices, the technology giant says that it will support even more devices in the near future.
While Yahoo Screen has been available for a variety of different products, including Android and iOS devices as well as Apple TV and Roku, Yahoo has not done much in bringing the service to other technology offerings. That has now changed, as Yahoo has just announced that Yahoo Screen is available for the Xbox 360. By using Yahoo Screen on the Xbox 360, users can sift through a vast amount of content including popular videos, channels, live news, and Yahoo originals, all with the use of the gaming console's controller. Yahoo Screen allows users of the Yahoo platform to truly experience the videos they love on their favorite console.
Source: Yahoo Screen
Yesterday, we got a brand new gameplay trailer for Abyss Odyssey that provided an in-depth look at the side-scrolling, Rogue-like, fighting game. Today, developer ACE Team released a new trailer, unveiling Versus Mode for PC. Versus Mode allows up to four players to battle it out in free-for-all or team-based competitive multiplayer using any character you've unlocked in the game (hero or enemy!). While it may resemble Smash Bros. at a quick glance, it is certainly a lot more akin to a true fighting game, with combos, special moves, and a life bar.
As of now, Versus Mode is local-only, but online play will be added in the future. The mode was apparently "squeezed-in during the final month of development." ACE Team plans on updating and enhancing Versus Mode over time with hopes of "grow[ing] some sort of competitive community around it," which would include more characters, special attacks, and of course, balancing; just as you'd expect from any fighting game.
Abyss Odyssey is launching July 15 on Steam, and pre-purchasing the game grants you the game's soundtrack and a 33% discount, bringing the price down to a mere $9.99. I already grabbed my copy! The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 release dates have not been announced.
Source: ACE Team
Back in October, when WayForward's Shantae: Half-Genie Hero was successfully funded on Kickstarter, many fans asked for Shantae: Risky's Revenge to be ported to PC and helped get the game greenlit on Steam Greenlight. Originally released in 2010 for the Nintendo DSi and ported to iOS in 2011, WayForward announced on Tuesday that Shantae: Risky's Revenge - Director's Cut will launch on July 15 worldwide via Steam for Windows, priced at $9.99. While we don't know all the details on what the "Director's Cut" actually adds and improves, WayForward did mention one new addition: beating the game will unlock a new game mode called "Magic Mode" in which Shantae is wearing the "Dancer Costume" seen in the iOS port, providing less magic consumption, but also less defense. It's supposed to present an added challenge for experienced players.
The Steam store page for Shantae: Risky's Revenge - Director's Cut has not gone live yet.
Source: Facebook  and 
Nobody enjoys sitting at red lights, waiting for the signal to change, but finding the optimal timing is difficult and complex. Models do exist that can achieve amazing resolution, but these come at the cost of efficiency and sometimes larger accuracy. Researchers at MIT though are proposing a new method that could optimize timings better than these models, cutting down on wait times significantly.
Typically cities will time their traffic lights by focusing on the primary arteries and just optimizing the times along those routes. This approach has the limitation of not considering the ripple effects on other roads, such as from drivers taking an alternate route, to avoid lights. As these models will consider individual driver behavior, it becomes prohibitively complex to grow them to consider all of these effects. The MIT researchers however found an efficient way to arrive at the optimal timings while avoiding the complexity. It starts with the high resolution technique to propose timings and then uses a lower resolution model to look at traffic flow.
To test this new approach, the researchers considered the traffic of Lausanne, Switzerland. The timings it produced resulted in a 22% reduction in average wait time for the city, according to simulations. Next the researchers want to expand the model to be able to adapt to changing traffic conditions.
Another week is nearly in the books, but not before we get to some reviews for you to check out. We have a look at the SilentiumPC Aquarius X90 mid-tower case, which is built with water cooling in mind. There's also the Rosewill Legacy W1 mini-ITX case, a fairly compact case that may be a more budget-friendly alternative to bigger names. If storage is what you need, then perhaps the Western Digital My Cloud Mirror is the product for you, as it's a more consumer-oriented version of its My Cloud EX2 device. Rounding out today's items is a look at various mice that would be perfect for laptop users who are always on the road.
SilentiumPC Aquarius X90 @ Madshrimps
Rosewill Legacy W1 @ Benchmark Reviews
Western Digital My Cloud Mirror @ PC Perspective
Mobile Arsenal: The Mouse @ ThinkComputers
July 9, 2014
Bitcoins.com, a popular website for information surrounding the digital currency, will be sold at a United States auction house known as Heritage Auctions on July 24, 2014. The opening bid for the website will be set at $185,000, but expectations are that the website will fetch somewhere around $750,000. The sale itself is being facilitated by Mark Karpeles, the CEO of the bankrupt Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange. Although Bitcoins.com was launched by Karples, it is owned and operated by Tibanne, which is the parent company of Mt. Gox. Proceeds of the sale will be used to not only support Tibanne, but also to compensate various investors that were burned with the collaspe of Mt. Gox. According to Karples, at least half of the final sales price will be paid to Bitcoin holders who lost substainal amounts of money with the collaspe of Mt. Gox.
One of the biggest surprises of E3 2014 came during Sony's Press Conference, when it was unveiled that Tim Schafer's Double Fine Productions is developing a remastered version of Grim Fandango for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. While the original Grim Fandango wasn't the commercial success LucasArts was hoping for back in 1998, it is one of the most highly acclaimed adventure games of all-time, and has somewhat of a cult following. With Disney shutting down the LucasArts development studio last year and liquidating old IPs, Schafer, who worked on the original game, took the opportunity to purchase the rights with help from Sony. With Sony helping out, don't expect to find the game making its way onto Microsoft and Nintendo consoles, but thankfully the PC is another story:
The news of a PC version isn't exactly surprising considering the original game was a PC exclusive, but it's nice to finally have official, concrete confirmation. No release date has been provided, though it does sound like it will be a simultaneous release for all platforms.
Source: Twitter via IGN
Many technologies depend on others in order to operate and advance. What may be the best example of such a supporting technology is the battery, and without some new discoveries, it may be limiting future mobile devices. Researchers at the University of California, Riverside though have developed a new means to produce anodes for lithium ion batteries cheaply, while still improving performance.
Traditionally lithium ion batteries have used graphite anodes, as the carbon material has the needed electrical properties and resilience. Silicon would be a better material for its electrical properties, but it is hard to produce in large quantities and is less resilient. The Riverside researchers had a new idea for producing silicon anodes after one of them looked at a handful of beach sand. Silicon dioxide, or quartz, is a primary component of many sands, and the researchers realized that it could be purified to pure silicon by heating it with salt and magnesium. This process of removing the oxygen produces very porous silicon nanoparticles, and that porosity is valuable for battery anodes, by increasing the surface area that electrons can access.
Thanks to the nano-silicon’s porosity, batteries built using it as the anode could have triple the lifespan, or better, than conventional batteries. So far the researchers have produced coin-sized batteries, but are trying to move to larger sizes, likes those in cellphones.
Source: University of California, Riverside
ACE Team's upcoming side-scrolling, Rogue-like, fighting game Abyss Odyssey will be releasing on Steam next week (July 15), so in preparation for that, the developer decided to release a brand new, seven-minute gameplay trailer. The video not only shows a lot of playable character Katrien (and some co-op with Ghost Monk), but also features a lot of developer commentary text pop-ups that explain various aspects of the game as they're introduced in the trailer. The voice acting of the NPCs seems a bit sub-par, but the gameplay looks outstanding, and in the end, that's what matters most.
Abyss Odyssey is launching July 15 on Steam, and pre-purchasing the game grants you the game's soundtrack and a 33% discount, bringing the price down to a mere $9.99. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 release dates have not been announced.
Source: Press Release
QuakeCon is the largest LAN party and gaming festival in North America in which attendees can bring their own computer. Individuals who attend QuakeCon 2014 will have an opportunity to take part in something even more special than gaming. Thanks to Bethesda Softworks, QuakeCon 2014 attendees will have the chance to donate blood to the American Red Cross in order to support the community. Known as "The Good Within Blood Drive," the event is inspired by the latest title from Bethesda Softworks and Tango Gameworks, The Evil Within. As such, participants who donate blood at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas, Texas on Friday, July 18 and Saturday, July 19, will receive an official The Evil Within chill pack for their generosity.
Source: Bethesda Blog
For many experiments and studies, scientists will consider ideal conditions to keep things simple. As reality is not ideal, sometimes adaptations will be made to the research to approach reality, and make the results more informative. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania however are suggesting that for many materials, instead of starting with a perfect crystal and adding defects, it would be better to start with an anticrystal, and add order.
Crystals are materials with well-ordered internal structures, whereas anticrystals are the opposite and are completely disordered. Realistic materials would be on the spectrum between these two extremes, and everything has many properties determined by their internal structures. According to the Pennsylvania researchers, many materials would be better described from the starting point of anticrystals with added order, than perfect crystals with added disorder. The researchers liken it to a deck of cards shuffled once being closer to a totally shuffled deck, than a totally ordered one.
As many properties of materials are determined by their structures, this research could have many great impacts, including leading to better plastics, glasses, and metal alloys. For example, shrinking the crystalline patterns of steel makes the alloy stronger, and this makes the anticrystal a better starting point for describing it.
Source: University of Pennsylvania
We have arrived at the middle of the week, and there are a couple of items for you to check out today. There is a look at the KingFast Encrypted USB flash drive, which features data encryption to help keep whatever files you have stored secure. It can be a valuable item to have, especially if you need secure files, so click the link to see how it all performs. Our other item for the day is a review on the Rapoo 8900P Advanced Wireless Mouse and Keyboard Combo, which is a pretty nice looking set for those who need a solid wireless mouse and keyboard.
KingFast Encrypted USB Flash Drive @ Madshrimps
Rapoo 8900P Advanced Wireless Mouse and Keyboard Combo @ ThinkComputers
July 8, 2014
Thermaltake, an industry leader in computer chassis, thermal solutions, and power supply units, has just introduced its latest air-cooling solution known as the Frio Silent Series. This series, comprised of the Frio Silent 12, Frio Silent 14, and Frio Extreme Silent 14 Dual, features solid copper heat pipes that come in direct contact with CPUs, aluminum fins optimized for rapid heat dissipation, and a low noise cable that can reduce noise levels by up to 38 percent. The Frio Silent 12 features a 120mm PWM fan that can operate up to 1400RPM while the Frio Silent 14 features a 140mm PWM fan that can operate up to 1200RPM. The Frio Extreme Silent 14 Dual comes with two 140mm fans that can operate up to 1200RPM, allowing for even more efficient heat dissipation.
Source: Press Release
Many smartphone users rely on the built-in factory reset option available through devices running the Android mobile operating system. AVAST has discovered that this widely popular choice for wiping a smartphone is quite ineffective at erasing critical data, which poses a security risk for users. According to AVAST, employees of the security company purchased 20 smartphones from eBay and used fairly generic off-the-shelf digital forensics software to restore data. The restored data from these 20 smartphones includes more than 40,000 photos, 750 emails and text messages, 250 contacts, and the identities of four previous owners of some of the devices. AVAST was even able to restore a fully completed loan application on one of the smartphones that it purchased for this research study.
Jude McColgan, the AVAST Mobile Division President, noted that most users think that they are doing a clean wipe and a factory install with the Android factory reset option, but are actually only wiping their smartphones at the application layer.