OCC TECH NEWS
October 17, 2014
CBS is looking to steal market share from other video streaming services, as it has just launched its own digital subscription service known as CBS All Access. The new service offers on demand video and live streaming content that consists of CBS Television's current lineup, previous seasons, and classic shows. Primetime shows will be available the day after they air, and past seasons and more than 5,000 episodes of CBS Classics are available on demand. Users of CBS All Access can also stream local CBS Television stations live in 14 of the largest United States markets. President and CEO of CBS Corporation, Leslie Moonves, noted that "CBS All Access is another key step in the Company's long-standing strategy of monetizing our local and national content in the ways that viewers want it."
CBS All Access currently costs $5.99 per month and can be accessed through the CBS website and through the CBS App, which is available on Android and iOS devices.
Source: CBS News
Google has publically revealed through a tweet on its official Android Developers account that Google Play Games now supports Nearby Multiplayer. The technology enables two players to be synced together within the same game as long as they are physically near one another. Support for Nearby Multiplayer allows developers to create local competitive and cooperative experiences between two Android players that are close by each other, paving the way for mobile games to plant themselves as substantial offerings in the video game market. The feature is built into the Google Play Games API and is immediately available to developers who wish to take advantage of it.
Ubisoft has officially launched The Bot Squad: Puzzle Battles, a free-to-play strategy, tower defense hybrid for iOS and Android devices. The game features both offensive and defensive levels, with offense requiring you to maneuver your robot units around traps and blockers, while defense plays out like your typical tower defense game. There are dozens of robots to check out and you can level them up to build a stronger army. At launch, the game features a whopping 180 stages to complete, while Ubisoft has said post-launch support will continuously add additional stages, along with more puzzle modes and units.
The Bot Squad: Puzzle Battles is currently available on the App Store and Google Play.
The end of the week has arrived, and with it comes some items for you to look over before the weekend hits. We have a review on the Cooler Master Mizar gaming mouse, which features an ergonomic shape, seven buttoms, and an 8200DPI. There is also a look at the Maingear Pulse 15, a gaming laptop with an Intel Core i7, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M, and a 3K resolution. For those looking to ditch cable, there's an article looking at various hardware alternatives to access TV content. Wrapping things up is a podcast looking back at the latest news and reviews of the past week.
Cooler Master Mizar Gaming Mouse @ Benchmark Reviews
Maingear Pulse 15 @ TechSpot
Cutting the Cord: Part 1 Alternatives Boxes @ ThinkComputers
Podcast #322 @ PC Perspective
More many modern technologies, thin is in, but this example may be a bit extreme. Researchers at Columbia University and the Georgia Institute of Technology have discovered a 2D material that exhibits the piezoelectric effect. This effect links mechanical deformation to the creation of electrical voltages.
Molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) is part of a family of materials known as transition metal dichalcogenides, which are 2D semiconductors. In theory, they can all be piezoelectric because they all break central symmetry, but this is the first time one has been successfully tested. While MoS2 did demonstrate the effect though, it does not always. As a bulk material, it does not, but even when working with atomically-thin sheets, it does not always. There must be an odd number of layers to generate any electricity, because with an even number the layers' output voltages will actually cancel each other out. Also electricity was only generated when the material was deformed in a specific direction.
Even with all of these conditions, this is still an important discovery, as it suggests other piezoelectric materials that can be just atoms thick. Being so thin, the materials will be naturally flexible, making it possible to use these generators to power wearable devices.
Source: Columbia University
System software update 2.0, the latest firmware for the PlayStation 4, is set to bring exciting new features to owners of the Sony video gaming console. Firmware version 2.0 will offer a redesigned content area, improved filter and sort functions within the library, enhanced voice commands, the ability to change the background color of the home screen, and an 'Add to Library' button that allows games to be added to a player’s library without downloading them. The latest system software update will also usher in a USB music player, live broadcasting enhancements, SharePlay and YouTube support, additional themes, and a friend suggesting feature known as Players You May Know.
Scott McCarthy, the director of product planning and software innovation at Sony Computer Entertainment America, has revealed that more features surrounding version 2.0 of the PlayStation 4 firmware, which will be released this fall, have yet to be announced.
October 16, 2014
The yearly Halloween event for Killing Floor is Halloween Horror and is now available to play on Steam. Two new maps, Club Clandestine and Devil's Dollhouse, will be available and are filled with Halloween themed Zeds, including the new Toy Master mod. Players will be able to earn new achievements as well as achievements from previous Halloween events. Tripwire will be offering a number of special DLC bundles and will also offer reduced prices on all DLC. Killing Floor is free to play for the weekend as part of the Steam Free Weekend Weekend and is also on sale for $4.99.
Source: Tripwire Interactive
Google has submitted an application to the US Federal Communications Commission to conduct tests in California across a number of wireless frequencies. One of the frequencies is a "rarely-used millimetre frequency capable of transmitting large amounts of data," and could potentially be used as a wireless extension of the Google Fiber service. Is was not revealed exactly what the tests would be for, but this is a logical explanation according to some experts. Wireless engineer and consultant Stephen Crowley said, "You could look at it as a possible wireless extension of their Google Fiber wireless network, as a way to more economically serve homes. Put up a pole in a neighbourhood, instead of having to run fibre to each home."
Ubisoft has posted a new video for Assassin's Creed Unity that introduces us to the various characters in the game and their voice actors. In order of appearance, there's Dan Jeanotte as protagonist Arno Dorian, Catherine Bérubé as Elise de la Serre, Alex Ivanovici as Marquis de Sade, Brent Skagford as Napoleon Bonaparte, and Bruce Dinsmore as Maximilien de Robespierre.
Assassin's Creed Unity will release on November 11 in North America and November 13 in EMEA territories for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. A Season Pass is also available with eight hours of additional content, including Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China, a unique 2.5D reimagining of the franchise.
Source: Press Release and UbiBlog
As an avid PC gamer, this is not the kind of news you may want to hear. According to a post on Reddit, some Ubisoft engineers were going to visit a school and answer some questions, so naturally the poster invited suggestions for questions. Among the questions were some concerned with the performance and features of games released for PC and console. One of the questions got the answer that prior to release, the console manufacturers receive a copy of the game and then let Ubisoft know "what to keep and what to throw away." For 30 FPS versus 60 FPS gameplay, a Game Architect answered that while they do target 60 FPS, limitations force them to settle on 30 FPS. The poster then said, "He (the Game Architect) then implied that console makers are pressuring them into doing the same thing on PC."
While there may be more to this than these answers provide, the prospect that the console manufacturers are influencing PC versions of games negatively is not very reassuring. It is definitely worth giving the sources a read, if you are interested in this, to see the other questions and answers.
Sources: Reddit and TweakTown
Back in July, Ubisoft unveiled the Far Cry 4 Kyrat Edition, which includes the Limited Edition of the game, a Collector's Box, a Travel Journal, a Propaganda Poster, a Map of Kyrat, and a 7.9" Pagan Min Figurine. Today, Ubisoft posted an unboxing video that shows off the contents.
Far Cry 4 is set to release on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 on November 18.
COUGAR, a leading brand in eSports and computer peripherals, has just released the 600M gaming mouse. The new mouse, which is the company’s second gaming mouse after the award-winning 700M, provides an aesthetically appealing design, gaming specific features, and state-of-the-art technology. The COUGAR 600M contains premium components such as OMRON switches, an ADNS-9800 Sensor, and a premium quality soft touch surface, which all add to the quality feel that the 600M provides. The latest gaming mouse from COUGAR also comes with a 32-bit ARM processor, 512KB on-board storage, eight fully configurable buttons, and a floating key with an LED backlight that can display up to 16.8 million colors.
The COUGAR 600M is compatible with the COUGAR UIX System and COUGAR FUSION, which allows for easy configuration of all the device’s functions, mode synchronization, macro sharing, and more.
According to COUGAR, the 600M will be available for purchase before the end of the year.
Source: Press Release
We may not think about it when we turn a light on, but every light source only produces so many photons in a second. Depending on the application, this emission speed can be critical, such as in telecommunications where 10 billion photons need to be produced in the blink of an eye. Typical LEDs only produce 10 million photons in that much time, but researchers at Duke University have found a way to close the gap.
The Purcell effect describes how emissions from fluorescent molecules can be increased when the molecules are near an intense light source. To create that light source, the researchers sandwiched the molecules between a 75 n silver nanocube and a thin film of gold. When the cube size and gap are tuned properly, the researchers realized a 1000 fold increase in fluorescence speed for the LED.
That record-setting speed may be surpassed before long though, as the researchers believe that aligning the molecules could magnify the effect. Regardless, fast light sources like this could prove invaluable for telecommunications and even quantum cryptography.
Source: Duke University
October 15, 2014
Erich Schaefer and Travis Baldree have sure been around the block. Before teaming up to found Runic Games and develop the highly successful Torchlight series, the two worked on several projects. Schaefer co-founded Blizzard North and worked on the Diablo series, then left that to co-found Flagship Studios and made Hellgate: London. Baldree developed Fate at WildTangent, then worked with Schaefer on Mythos at Flagship Studios. Now the two are at it again, having left Runic Games in April to found Double Damage Games. Today, the studio announced its first game, Rebel Galaxy.
"Rebel Galaxy is an action-packed, swashbuckling space opera. You'll battle pirates, explore anomalies, befriend aliens, scavenge battle wreckage, mine asteroids, and discover artifacts. Choose your path as a roguish do-gooder, crafty space-trader or power-hungry privateer - or maybe a little of each! Buy larger and more powerful craft with your hard-earned credits, and outfit them with a variety of wicked weapons and defenses. Set in a galaxy of fantastic sights, and secrets to be found, Rebel Galaxy is above all a space epic of adventure, exploration, and combat."
Rebel Galaxy is slated to arrive in 2015 for PC (via Steam) and PlayStation 4, with Xbox One also a possibility.
Source: Press Release and Official Site
Teams around the world are working on technologies to enable quantum computers, and some teams are right next to each other. Two teams at the University of New South Wales have independently developed two quantum bit, or qubit systems, and have even set some records with them.
The fundamental units in quantum computers are qubits, which are particles put into a superposition. Superposition is a phenomenon that allows something to exist in multiple, exclusionary states at the same time, and from this quantum computers would be able to run algorithms far different than conventional computers. Superposition is fragile though, so qubits must be designed for great accuracy, and to achieve that here, both teams used pieces of pure silicon-28, which is nonmagnetic, unlike the mix of isotopes in modern electronics. One team put a phosphorus atom in their silicon, actually creating two qubits (the nucleus and the electron) while the other created an artificial atom that is very similar to MOSFETs, a kind of silicon transistor.
The ability to build a qubit in and from silicon is of great importance as it could allow current manufacturing methods and tools to construct quantum computers in the future. The phosphorus-atom qubit design also managed to survive for 35 seconds, which is impressive for any solid-state qubit, but is actually the record for silicon qubits.
Source: University of New South Wales
Whether your reason is simply for aesthetics or to tackle a particular terrain, if you plan on picking up Ubisoft's MMO-CarPG The Crew, you're going to want to customize your car. Ubisoft has released a new "Customization Trailer" that provides just a peek inside the game's car customization system.
The Crew is set to arrive on December 2 for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Xbox 360.
Source: Press Release
With the launch of Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth just one week away, Firaxis Games has shared the game's opening cinematic, entitled "The Chosen". "As part of an expedition sent to find a home beyond Earth, lead your people into a new frontier, explore and colonize an alien planet and create a new civilization in space."
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth is launching exclusively for Windows PC on October 24, with pre-orders netting the Exoplanets Map Pack.
Source: Press Release
If not for dopants, much of today's technology may not exist. Doping is the process of adding atoms to a material, to change its properties, and is critical for controlling the characteristics of semiconductors. After being placed in a material though, the doping atoms can move around, and ORNL researchers have finally caught them in the act.
Previous studies examining the diffusion of doping atoms had to use indirect macroscopic methods, and were limited to the surfaces of materials. By using a scanning transmission electron microscope though, the researchers were able to watch the as manganese and cerium atoms moved through the bulk of a piece of aluminum nitride. Just as theory predicted, though counter to normal expectations, the larger cerium atoms were observed to move while the smaller manganese atoms remained stationary.
By understanding how dopant atoms behave, this research could lead to better semiconductor devices, including LED lights. The color emitted by these lights is determined by the dopants, and their movement could affect when the LED fails.
Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory
The middle of the week is upon us, and with it comes a few items to help pass the time. We have a review on the NZXT S340 mid tower case, which offers a very stylish look and plenty of features to appeal to nearly anyone. There is also a look at the CONNECTEDEVICE COOKOO 2, an analog watch that can connect to your phone via Bluetooth for all kinds of display options. Wrapping up today's items is the final history of the computer, which focuses on how the CPU has changed and evolved in recent years.
NZXT S340 @ ThinkComputers
CONNECTEDEVICE COOKOO 2 Watch @ Madshrimps
History of the PC, Part 5: Computing goes mainstream, mobile, ubiquitous @ TechSpot
Nanoparticles are a technology that could one day become completely ubiquitous with uses in everything from medicine to cosmetics. Before that can happen though, we must first learn how they behave, including how they can penetrate human skin. Researchers at the University of Southampton have recently conducted the research to determine just how that behavior works.
Other studies have examined why some nanoparticles will enter the skin and others will not, but never quite had the level of control necessary to make definitive statements. This new research does though, as it controlled the surface charge, shape, and functionality of gold nanoparticles for its tests. The results indicate that nanorods with a positive charge are two to six times better at penetrating the skin than other nanoparticles. Coating them with penetrating peptides increased the penetration by up to a factor of ten, allowing the particles to reach into the dermis.
This work could be used to develop nanoparticles for topical drug delivery, but it could also be used to prevent nanoparticles from entering the skin. If a cosmetic were to contain potentially toxic nanoparticles, they could be prevented from entering the skin just by designing them to be unable to.
Source: University of Southampton
October 14, 2014
Electronic Arts and BioWare have released a new trailer for Dragon Age: Inquisition, entitled "The Hero of Thedas", with the entire thing created using actual gameplay. I think it's safe to say that graphically, Inqusition is the most beautiful and stunning RPG to date, and will likely not even be challenged until The Witcher 3. Of course, if you want to play it in all its glory, be sure to check out the PC requirements.
Dragon Age: Inquisition will launch on November 18 in North America and November 21 in Europe for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. The Standard Edition costs $59.99 for all platforms, while a Deluxe Edition is available for $69.99 and includes the following bonus content: Flames of the Inquisition Armor, Flames of the Inquisition Armored Mount, Skyhold Throne, Red Hart Halla, Bog Unicorn, and the digital soundtrack. Pre-ordering either version grants you some nice fiery weapons from the Flames of the Inquisition Arsenal.
Remember, you can currently pick up Dragon Age: Origins for FREE on Origin.
The Resident Evil film franchise will likely break the $1 billion mark worldwide when the sixth film is released in 2016, making it undoutedly the most successful video game film adaptation series of all-time. That sixth film, entitled Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, will mark the end of the film franchise that began way back in 2002, but not without a spin-off. However, that spin-off won't be another film, but rather a television series.
According to Variety, production company Constantin Films will be producing the series and plans on premiering it after The Final Chapter hits theaters. Constantin Films bought the film rights from Capcom back in 1997 and has been involved with every live-action Resident Evil film since.
Source: Variety via GamesIndustry.biz
Ubisoft has released a new trailer for Far Cry 4, and while it starts out rather serene, with a title like "Survive Kyrat", it unsurprisingly takes a turn toward bloodshed.
Far Cry 4 is set to release on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 on November 18.
Source: Press Release and UbiBlog
The highly anticipated survival horror game from the father of the survival horror genre, Shinji Mikami, has finally arrived. The Evil Within released today and with it, Bethesda has not only published an official Launch Trailer, but also the game's 30-second television spot. The latter is obviously not as gruesome.
The Evil Within is available for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
Source: Press Release
Google Express, which was formerly known as Google Shopping Express and offers same-day delivery service, has just launched in three additional cities. The service allows users to choose from morning, afternoon or evening delivery windows in Chicago, Boston, Manhattan, San Francisco, San Jose, West Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. Google Express has also added 16 new retailers over the last few months, and now allows alcohol to be purchased by individuals at least 21 years old within the Bay Area. All of these changes come at a price however, as Google Express now features a subscription fee of $10 per month or $95 per year. Customers who seldom use the service can alternatively pay $4.99 for individual orders, but membership does have its perks as it can be shared with a household member.
Interested consumers can try the first three months of a Google Express membership, which can be cancelled at any time, for free.
Source: Google Blog
Tesoro, a manufacturer of high-tech gaming products, has officially released the Ancile Z1. The Ancile Z1, which is named after the sacred shield of the Roman god Mars, is a hard gaming mouse pad that offers gamers high precision mouse control. The Tesoro Ancile Z1 features a unibody construction, a low friction surface, high texture density, and reflecting surface technology. The latest mouse pad from Tesoro also comes with a non-slip rubber base that keeps the product stationary while gaming.
The Ancile Z1 carries an MSRP of $29 and is currently available in the North American market from various retailers such as Tesoro Gaming USA, Newegg, Amazon, and NCIX.
Source: Press Release
I cannot say I expected this, as the time for a new Humble Bundle came around today. The company known for selling bundles of indie games and more with a pay-what-you-want model, has just launched the Humble Mozilla Bundle. Of course Mozilla does not develop games, it develops a browser. A browser that we can play games in, and with the bundle you can own up to eight different games, from Zen Bound 2 to FTL: Advanced Edition.
Once purchased, all of the games can be played in a modern browser, such as Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, or you can download DRM-free versions for Windows, Mac, or Linux. Most also come with Steam keys and Super Hexagon is even available on Android. Want to know more about the games before making a purchase? Demo versions can be played, from your browser, right on the Humble Bundle homepage.
As usual, part of each purchase can go to charity, and this bundle has three charities to donate to: the Mozilla Foundation, CodeNow, and the Make Education Initiative. Also there is going to be another game added to the bundle soon.
Source: Humble Bundle
It is a new day, and for those of you who had a three day weekend, hopefully it was an enjoyable time. We have a lot of reviews to get to today, including performance numbers for the NVIDIA GTX 980 in both 3-Way and 4-Way SLI. There is also a look at the Gigabyte Z97X-UD5H motherboard, which offers an affordable option with plenty of features. Deepcool's Maelstrom 240 all-in-one liquid CPU cooler gets put to the test to see how well it can keep your CPU from going up in flames. There is also a look at the COUGAR 700M gaming mouse, along with the Tt eSPORTS Team DK Edition gaming peripherals. Plenty more is on the slate too, including reviews the Fractal Design Core 2300 case, Alien: Isolation, the Corsair HX1000i PSU, and a contest, so check it all out below!
NVIDIA GTX 980 3-Way and 4-Way SLI Performance @ PC Perspective
Gigabyte Z97X-UD5H @ PC Perspective
Alien: Isolation Performance @ TechSpot
Fractal Design Core 2300 @ Benchmark Reviews
Deepcool Maelstrom 240 AIO Liquid CPU Cooler @ ThinkComputers
COUGAR 700M Aluminum Gaming Mouse @ Madshrimps
Tt eSPORTS Team DK Edition Gaming Peripherals @ ThinkComputers
Corsair HXi Series Fully Modular 1000W @ PC Perspective
ThinkComputers & Thermaltake Fall Giveaway! @ ThinkComputers
The prospect of a battery exploding is not something anyone likes to think about, but the possibility does exist. With lithium-ion batteries seeing more and more use in consumer electronics, airplanes, and electric vehicles, the danger is only growing. Researchers at Stanford University decided to do something about this and have created a smart battery that can alert a user, before a fatal short circuit.
At one end of a lithium-ion battery is a carbon anode, and at the other a lithium metal-oxide cathode. Between them is a polymer separator that keeps the electrodes apart, while allowing lithium ions to flow through it. If a dendrite were to form from the anode though, it could pierce the separator and reach the cathode, causing a short. What the Stanford researchers have done to avoid this is add a layer of copper right next to the separator. The copper will act like a third electrode, measuring the voltage between the anode and the separator. If a dendrite does grow from the anode and touch the copper, the voltage difference will drop to zero, and thus provide a warning of impending failure.
By changing the distance from the anode, it would be possible to tune how much lead-time a warning comes with. By placing it closer to the anode, shorter dendrites will be detected, long before they can reach the cathode, cause a short, and potentially a fire.
Source: Stanford University
October 13, 2014
In just a few short hours, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel will unlock on Steam, with the console versions launching tomorrow whenever their respective networks update. The game features four new heroes, two new weapon types, a new resource, low-gravity, jetpacks, and three gajillion guns. Of course, as we all know by now, no game launch can be complete without an official Launch Trailer:
Source: Press Release