OCC TECH NEWS
July 16, 2014
The ability to controllably route information is fundamental to electronic computers, and is similarly necessary for future quantum computers. Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science have recently created the world's first photonic router, capable of routing photons based on photonic signals.
The router works by switching the state of an atom caught in a trap. In one state, the atom will allow photons coming from the right to pass on, but will reflect photons coming from the left. When it reflects a photon though, its state will flip and now photons from the left will pass on while photons from the right are reflected, and trigger another switch. The photons from the right and left are coming from optical fibers, which have been coupled to ultra-high quality, miniature optical resonators.
As photons are capable of carrying quantum information and relatively protected from interactions that would destroy the information, this system could prove invaluable for quantum computers. Next the researchers want to work on other kinds of devices, such as quantum memory or logic gates, and see if they too can be made to function only with photons.
Source: Weizmann Institute of Science
For any website with video content, views are critical for not only sharing the content but generating ad revenue. Obviously the videos must be interesting, but so too must their thumbnails, to encourage people to click and watch. Neon Labs, a Carnegie Mellon University startup company has recently signed an agreement with IGN Entertainment, so the startup's thumbnail-selection software can find the best images.
Researchers from many institutions have found that our preferences can be influenced by visual perception, without our knowing. The Neon Labs software applies this knowledge to scan a video stream for the thumbnail that will encourage the most engagement. In some cases the algorithms can lead to 100% more engagement over the images humans may select. For IGN though, the clickability increased by 30%, on average, which is still impressive. It also took over the significant amount of work required to select thumbnails, making it a "huge win" for the company.
Source: Carnegie Mellon University
July 15, 2014
Google has just announced that it has recently appointed Alan Mulally, a veteran corporate executive of the automotive and aviation industries, to its Board of Directors. The specific role that Mulally will play for Google will be as a member of Google’s Audit Committee, where he looks forward to assisting Google in its mission to enhance the lives of people around the world. The Chief Executive Officer of Google, Larry Page, noted that he is pleased that Mulally is joining Google and that he will bring robust business and leadership experience to the technology giant.
Mulally has had quite a career, serving as Executive Vice President of the Boeing Company and President and Chief Executive Officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Inc. from March 2001 to September 2006, as well as being the President and Chief Executive Officer of Ford Motor Company from September 2006 to June 2014. It will certainly be interesting to see what he can do for Google as the company continues to advance as a global technology leader.
Source: News from Google
While Skype group calls have been free for the majority of the service’s users since April of this year, tablet owners have had to continue paying a premium in order to get multiple people to participate in voice and video calls. That is no more however, as Microsoft has announced that owners of Windows tablets, such as the Surface, are now able to make group calls for free via Skype. Users of Windows tablets and Windows 2 in 1 devices will now be able to be in a group call with up to 10 people, with the three most talkative individuals being visible at the same time.
Since Microsoft made group calling a free feature for existing platforms capable of running Skype back in April, the company has revealed that it has seen group video calling increase fourfold. Popularity of the feature will likely continue to grow due to this announcement.
HighPoint has announced the addition of support for LTO 5 and 6 Tape drives to its RocketStor 6328 Thunderbolt 2 RAID adapters and RocketRAID Series HBAs. Tape drive support adds to a multitude of features provided by the devices including hardware RAID, SAS expansion, and SATA port multiplication. The RocketStor 6328 is the first Thunderbolt 2 hardware RAID adapter and is compatible with OSX 10.8.6 and later. The RocketRAID 4500 series was designed with high performance digital media in mind, including applications in 3D and 4K resolutions.
Source: Press Release
For decades we have been using electronics that operate on the charge of electrons, and while the technology has been serving us very well, it is approaching its limits. A potential replacement is spintronics, which utilize another property of electrons known as spin and spin current. Among the many benefits of spintronics is the possibility of great speed, and now researchers at the University of Illinois have found a way to create spin currents at that great speed.
A normal electrical current, like those used in electronics, is made of electrons with spins pointing in random directions. A spin current is formed when those spins line up, but causing that to happen is not easy. Normally it requires creating a voltage difference across a structure, but the Illinois researchers were able to produce a current using heat instead. Within a metallic ferromagnet are three energy reservoirs, and by creating a temperature difference between two of them, the researchers were able to generate a spin current. The two reservoirs are electrons and magnons, and the temperature difference caused the spin angular momentum of the magnons to be transported to the electrons.
Unlike the more traditional means of producing a spin current, this thermally-driven method created the current in trillionths of a second, or picoseconds. Naturally this great speed would be very welcome for fast magnetic memory devices.
Source: University of Illinois
July is continuing right along, and so our are reviews as we have a few for you to look over today. If you are in the market for a new motherboard and want no shortage of features or PCIe slots, then the ASUS Z97-WS is the one for you. It's the latest in the company's workstation motherboards, and it is certainly one you won't want to miss if you need all the major features on a motherboard. For anyone just wanting to keep their CPU from bursting into flames, we have another look at the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 to see if it can do the job. Finally, we have the second part of the beginner's guide to the Linux command line.
ASUS Z97-WS @ PC Perspective
be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 @ ThinkComputers
The Beginner's Guide to Linux, Part II @ TechSpot
After ACE Team published an in-depth Gameplay Trailer and Versus Mode Trailer last week for Abyss Odyssey, the side-scrolling, Rogue-like, fighting game is now ready to launch in mere hours. And of course, no launch would be complete without an official Launch Trailer. If you're not familiar with the premise of the game, this trailer does a good job explaining it.
Abyss Odyssey releases today on Steam, which means you have just a couple hours to claim the 33% pre-purchase discount. The PlayStation 3 version should also launch today when the PSN Store updates, while the Xbox 360 version should launch tomorrow when the XBLA Store updates.
Source: ACE Team
Though flash-based SSDs may be replacing magnetic hard drives in many of our machines, the traditional HDD is still a common piece of computer hardware. The technology is approaching a limit however, as bits can only be so small before writing one bit risks disrupting those around it. Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology have developed a more efficient way of writing magnetic bits though, that could increase speeds tremendously.
Typically flipping a bit requires a local magnetic field, causing the magnetic properties of the hard disk material to change from one state to another. The two states can be read as either zero or one, for binary data. Instead of using a magnetic field though, the Eindhoven researchers use ultrafast lasers to trigger a spin current. Spin is an intrinsic property of many particles, including electrons, and its direction determines the direction of the particle's magnetic field. A spin current is just a flow of electrons all with the same spin. To produce the current, the researchers fired ultrafast laser pulses at a material made of two magnetic layers, with a neutral layer in between. When the laser strikes the top layer, the electrons in it try to move through the material, and take with them the spin of the top later. This spin then exerts a force on the bottom layer, causing it to flip its magnetic state.
The changes in magnetic state of the bottom layer take around 100 femtoseconds, which is approximately 1000 times faster than modern technology can achieve. While that is definitely impressive for write speeds, because of the use of lasers, this technology could also be used in future optical computers, for data storage.
Source: Eindhoven University of Technology
July 14, 2014
LinkedIn has announced that it has acquired Newsle, a social service that allows users to receive alerts when updates such as tweets and status messages are posted by people that they choose to follow. In a blog post, LinkedIn notes that Newsle has advanced quite a bit over the years in terms of natural language processing and machine learning algorithms, and that both companies share the same goal of wanting to provide professional insights to help people be better at what they do. By implementing Newsle staff members into its own business, LinkedIn will be able to provide its users with even more information surrounding people within their social network.
While terms of the deal were not publically revealed, Newsle will continue to be available to its users while LinkedIn goes through the process of implementing the alert service into its social networking platform.
Source: Official LinkedIn Blog
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced the availability of a new model of the credit card-sized computer with the Raspberry Pi Model B+. The new model boasts an additional two USB 2.0 ports, lower power consumption, an extra 14 GPIO pins, and a new component layout with an additional mounting hole. The B+ uses the same processor and still has 512MB of RAM and is a "final evolution of the original Raspberry Pi," according to the Foundation. The Model B will continue to be manufactured for users that have a desire to continue to use it, and the Model B+ will maintain the $35 price point.
A new gaming headset that features strong styling and ultimate comfort has been released by Tt eSPORTS, the leading expert in professional e-Sports gaming peripherals. The new headset, known as the VERTO, is designed for gaming and casual use, offering balanced stereo sound as well as solid build quality. The Tt eSPORTS VERTO headset offers premium components like a stainless steel outer-headband, protein leather ear pads, and a bendable and pivotable omni-directional microphone. The VERTO has been designed to be travel friendly as well, as it features a removable cable design, two separate cables for computer and mobile use, and a fold flat design.
The Tt eSPORTS VERTO headset is available in select stores and carries an MSRP of $79.99.
Source: Press Release
Synology has released a follow up to the DS214play Network Attached Storage device, the DS415play. Building on the two-bay design of the DS214play the DS415play adds an additional two bays and continues to support hardware video transcoding to deliver 1080p video to media streaming devices. The NAS can stream to a wide array of devices including Apple TV, Roku players, computers, and mobile devices powered by Android, iOS, and Windows. Powered by the DiskStation Manager 5.0 OS, the device has multimedia capabilities encompassing audio, video, and photos. The DS415play can hold up to 20TB of disk space with read and write performance up to 110MB/s and 100MB/s, respectively. The DS415play is now available and carries an MSRP of $539.99.
Source: Press Release
Flash memory has impacted many people and technologies, thanks to its speed, stability, and density. While it may be a champion memory technology at the moment, there are new technologies looking to supplant it. Among these is Resistive Random Access Memory (RRAM), which researchers at Rice University have recently made more appealing to the industry.
This new memory type works by putting a resistive material between two wires. When a great enough voltage is applied to the wires, the electricity will form a conducting path through the normally resisting material. Those pathways do not need to be permanent though, allowing RRAM to be rewriteable, and because of how small its cells can be, it can have 50 times the data density of flash. Though many materials can be used for RRAM, the Rice researchers are working with silicon dioxide, which is already a very well understood material, and one with many advantages over its competitors. These include the ability to be manufactured at room temperature, a high on-off ratio, low power consumption, and nine-bit capacity per cell. The recent research has increased silicon dioxide's potential by revealing that porous silicon dioxide requires thirteen times less energy to create pathways in and does not require special edge fabrication methods.
Some predict that RRAM could start coming to market and competing with flash in a few years, thanks to its greater speed and density. Now that it has been shown that a device edge structure is not needed, companies have already started trying to license the technology.
Source: Rice University
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 18.104.22.168. For individuals running systems that are incompatible with Flash Player 14, Apple is requiring that Flash Player 22.214.171.124 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.