OCC TECH NEWS
November 5, 2014
Back in February, Disney launched its own cloud movie service called Disney Movies Anywhere. At launch, the service allowed users to purchase Disney, Pixar, and Marvel films through its website, app, or through iTunes. Starting yesterday, the service now also supports Google Play purchases, allowing access via computers and Android devices, including Google's Chromecast. All past and present digital purchases will be accessible.
Rockstar Games has revealed an all-new First Person Mode for Grand Theft Auto V, exclusively for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. While a mod would have inevitably come to the PC version, it should prove a much superior and stable experience with it being officially supported. The new mode includes an optional first-person cover system, a new targeting system, a more traditional FPS control scheme, and thousands of new animations. Best of all, you can switch back and forth on the fly.
While the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions will be launching on November 18, the PC version of Grand Theft Auto V will arrive January 27, 2015. Oh, and the PC version has official 4K resolution support.
Source: Rockstar Games
Last week, Ubisoft released a trailer for Assassin's Creed Unity that teased us with an all-new feature, the time anomaly. Today, we get a "101 Trailer", which is broken up into seven parts: Intro, Paris, Arno, Co-op, Storytelling, Time Anomaly, and Outro. You can skip around to whatever section you'd like, or just sit back and watch the full seven-minute video. While the whole video is certainly worth a watch, at the very least you should check out the Time Anomaly section, which sees Arno jumping through an unstable time anomaly, transporting him to Occupied Paris in 1944. Man a machine gun atop the Eiffel Tower to take out German warplanes during World War II.
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.
A new browser extension is now available for Chrome to enhance the compatibility between Google Drive and the applications installed on your computer. Users will be able to edit files stored in their Google Drive directly without first having to download a copy to their machine. The process is simple to setup, "You'll need Drive for Mac or PC (version 1.18) and a full synchronization in order for it to work, and then the plugin for Chrome too." The functionality won't be limited to text files and spreadsheets but will also work with "advanced image and video editing software, accounting and tax programs, or 3D animation and design tools."
Source: Slash Gear
Zalman, a company known primarily for various cooling products, has filed for bankruptcy protection in the Seoul Central District Court and has had trading of its stock halted. Zalman and its parent company, Moneual, are under investigation after a whistle blower reported that several top executives at Zalman took loans of $2.98 billion from the company by using fabricated export data. If the accusations are true then this is a sad end for a company that made some great heatsinks and other products.
Source: Legit Reviews
Metamaterials are, by definition, interesting materials as their properties are not naturally possible. For example, some metamaterials have been created with negative refractive indexes, which can be used to create invisibility cloaks. Producing metamaterials typically requires a top-down approach, but researchers at Berkeley Lab have recently developed a way to self-assemble metamaterials.
Normally metamaterials are made with a lithography process that removes unwanted material, and such top-down methods are inefficient and costly. A bottom-up approach would be much better, but actually getting nanoparticle to self-assemble correctly is hardly easy. In fact, some believed one method of doing so is impossible, but that is actually the method the Berkeley researchers used. The researchers started with colloidal gold nanorods that will bond along longitudinal facets, creating pairs or dimers. The desired dimers for creating the metamaterial need to have the correct, broken symmetry, but the researchers need a way to separate out the pairs with the desired symmetry shift. What they did was use a laser to excite the plasmonic resonance of the particles, as those with the wrong symmetry would dissociate, due to the heat from the excitation.
Though the work was done with gold nanorods, it could be applied to other nanoparticles as well, opening up many possibilities. The normally impossible properties of metamaterials could be used to improve many technologies, and making them cheaper and easier to produce will only get them into devices sooner.
Source: Berkeley Lab
Google has just updated its Maps application for Android and iOS devices. The latest update for Google Maps includes the company’s material design, which has made its way to virtually all other Google applications, and also features easier access to a plethora of information about any place. Users can tap on an information sheet for any location in order to view photos, reviews, and more, and can even explore other places around them by tapping the Explore button. Google Maps also supports table reservations directly within the application itself, allowing users within the United States to reserve tables at restaurants found on OpenTable. Uber has also been integrated, with information about Uber services available directly within Google Maps while getting directions to a location.
Users of Google Maps will receive the update over the coming days as it rolls out to compatible devices.
Source: Google Maps Blog
Hydrogen is a fairly useful material, thanks to the number of compounds it is in and the ease with which it reacts. One hope for it is as a fuel for fuel cells, but before that can happen, we need an efficient means to produce hydrogen. Researchers at Rice University have recently created a new catalyst for pulling hydrogen from water, and this new material may have another use as well.
Molybdenum disulfide can be made into almost two-dimensional sheets, like graphene, but is three atoms tall. While a three-atom edge may not seem like much, it is actually a good catalyst for taking the hydrogen out of water. To that end, some groups have suggested using arrays of sheets to do just that, but the Rice researchers have developed a different plan. They have found a way to make porous sheets of molybdenum disulfide and with each pore comes more edge to react with.
This structure gives the material another application though, as a supercapacitor. Supercapacitors can quickly store and discharge electricity, making them of great interest for future energy technologies and energy-using devices.
Source: Rice University
SoundCloud is best known for offering music from undiscovered artists, remixes of popular songs, and unreleased material from established acts. A few months ago, audio and video advertisements were implemented into the service, and according to Alexander Ljung, the CEO of SoundCloud, users will have to wait until next year to be able to remove them from their listening experience. Ljung has revealed that an ad-free subscription service will launch in the first half of 2015, thanks to a licensing deal with Warner Music Group. Additional details about the premium version of SoundCloud were not revealed, but the Wall Street Journal noted that the service may be offered through several subscription tiers that would feature a range of prices.
While a premium version of SoundCloud is definitely on its way, the free version that supports advertisements will continue to be offered for the foreseeable future.
It is the middle of another week, with a few items to check out that should be of interest to you. First up is a review on the Crucial MX100 512GB SSD, which comes with 550MB/s read and 500MB/s write speeds, as well as a fairly affordable price. There is also another look at the Noctua IndustrialPPC and Redux fans that feature a new color scheme and some solid performance. Lastly the Samsung Galaxy Alpha smartphone gets put to the test to see how this smaller version of the Galaxy S5 stacks up.
Crucial MX100 512GB SSD @ ThinkComputers
Noctua IndustrialPPC and Redux Fans @ LanOC Reviews
Samsung Galaxy Alpha @ TechSpot
Every year about five billion button batteries, those that are found in hearing aids, toys, calculations, and more, are made and about 4000 children are taken to emergency rooms after swallowing one. While you may not expect such small batteries to be a serious danger, they can cause burns to the esophagus, tears in the digestive tract, and even death. Researchers at MIT, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital have come up with a novel way to preventing these injuries.
The threat the batteries pose is from water or saliva allowing a current to flow. That current can then produce hydroxide ions, which damages tissue, causing chemical burns. To defeat this, the researchers turned to quantum tunneling composite (QTC), which is an off-the-shelf material used in keyboards and touchscreens. What it does is block electrical currents, except when pressure is applied to it. This causes the conducting particles within it to be close enough together to allow a current to flow. The researchers tuned the QTC to need more force than a digestive tract will apply to conduct electricity. A battery coated in QTC will therefore not produce an electrical current, or hydroxide, if accidentally swallowed.
As QTC is already a fairly common material, and it just needs to coat the battery, it should not add much cost to battery production. The researchers are now working on scalable methods to create the coating and getting companies to use it.
Tesoro, a manufacturer of high-tech gaming products, has officially announced the Excalibur RGB LED backlit mechanical keyboard. The keyboard, which is a full color version of the previously released Excalibur LED backlit mechanical keyboard, features four levels of LED backlighting with dimming capability, and can be set to breathing mode, color loop mode, and two gaming modes. The Excalibur RGB provides gamers with a 1000Hz polling rate and the option to choose USB 6 N-Key Rollover or N-Key Rollover. Users can store five sets of profiles, 300 macro keys, and 2000 macro key presses per profile thanks to the 512KB of onboard memory. Longevity of the Excalibur RGB is ensured with the use of gaming grade mechanical switches that are engineered for 60 million key strokes.
The Tesoro Excalibur RGB LED backlit mechanical keyboard features an MSRP of $119, and will be available next month from Amazon, NCIX, Newegg, and Tesoro Gaming USA.
Source: Press Release
November 4, 2014
Dragon Age: Inquisition went gold on Friday, and now Electronic Arts and BioWare have released the final entry in the "Gameplay Features" video series. Entitled "Choice & Consequence", the trailer explains how the consequences of your choices as the Inquisitor can be both big and small, starting from the moment you choose your gender, race, and class.
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.
Source: BioWare  & 
Announced back in September, Resident Evil Revelations 2 will be bringing back fan favorite Claire Redfield in four episodic adventures. While the Launch Trailer showed off some gameplay footage, there's now some leaked gameplay footage from the Japanese demo, along with eighteen new screenshots.
Resident Evil Revelations 2 is planned for an Early 2015 episodic release for PC (via Steam), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
Source: Press Release and AllGamesBeta
While plasma televisions may be on their way out, it looks like a new type of television is ready to take their place, and it's expected to be the next big thing. Both Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics have announced that they plan to use quantum dot technology for their next generation of televisions. Sony is currently the only major electronics manufacturer selling quantum dot TVs. The reason is not actually related to plasma TVs, but rather OLED TVs, which continue to cost way too much to produce, which in turn makes it tough to find mass market appeal.
The appeal of quantum dot displays is that they provide superior quality over traditional LCDs, but at a fraction of the cost of OLED displays. "One industry analyst estimated a 55-inch quantum dot TV could be priced 30 to 35 percent more than a current LCD TV, while an OLED TV could be 5 times more expensive." The problem comes down to supply. Currently, there are only a few suppliers of quantum dot material, including Quantum Materials Corp and Nanoco Group PLC. The latter is partnering with Dow Chemical Co to build a South Korean plant that will start quantum dot production in the first half of 2015.
According to research analyst DisplaySearch, 1.95 million quantum dot TV shipments are expected next year, increasing to 25.5 million by 2020. While next year's number only accounts for 0.8 percent of the market, OLED TV shipments are only estimated at 600,000 in 2015 according to IHS Technology, with that increasing to 7.8 million by 2019. That being said, LCD TVs will continue to dominate the market for the foreseeable future, providing the best bang for buck.
It's taken nearly two years, but The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth has finally released for PC via Steam, PlaySation 4, and PlayStation Vita. And while it certainly has a lot in common with the original game, Rebirth is no mere remake. Just take a look at the "long, solid, healthy list" following the Launch Trailer:
- Over 500 hours of gameplay
- 4 BILLION Seeded runs!
- 20 Challenge runs
- 450+ items, including 160 new unlockables
- Uber secrets
- 10 Playable Characters
- 100+ enemies with new designs
- Over 50 bosses, including tons of new and rare bosses
- Rooms FULL OF POOP!
- Mystic Runes
- Upgradeable shops
- Integrated controller support for popular control pads
- Analog directional movement and speed
- Tons of feature film quality animated endings
- Poop physics
- Over 100 specialized seeds
- 2-Player local co-op
- Over 100 co-op characters
- Dynamic lighting, visual effects, and art direction
- Did we mention poop?
- All-new game engine @60FPS 24/7
- All-new soundtrack and sound design
- Multiple Save slots
- The ultimate roguelike
- A bunch of achievements
Source: Press Release
With Far Cry 4's highly anticipated release only two weeks ago, Ubisoft has decided now is a good time to delve a bit deeper into the game's story. Are you the son who has come to Kyrat to spread his mother's ashes or the lunatic who has murdered his way to the top of the mountain? Choices matter in Far Cry 4.
Kyrat is a remote region located high in the Himalayas: from vast plains and thick lush forests to snowy mountain peaks, players will travel through settings as diverse as they are detailed. However, these beautiful locations have been devastated by civil war. Long after Pagan Min’s rise to power the struggle between his army and the rebels continues. Even the Golden Path, the group opposed to Pagan Min’s dictatorship, isn’t free from internal conflicts as Sabal defends more traditional practices while Amita fights to open her country to modernity. Players will control Ajay, a young man whose ties to Kyrat’s history run deeper than he initially realises. He returns to his homeland to fulfil his mother’s last wishes, but the decisions made during his journey will have major consequences on the ongoing conflict.
Far Cry 4 is set to release on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 on November 18. A Season Pass is also available, featuring a co-op escape from the aforementioned prison.
Source: Press Release and UbiBlog
NVIDIA has worked with Ubisoft to create game bundles for three upcoming games paired with the latest GPUs from the company as part of the Pick Your Path promotion. Consumers that purchase a "GeForce GTX 980, 970, 780 Ti or 780, or a notebook with GeForce GTX 980M or 970M" will have their choice of The Crew, Far Cry 4, or Assassin's Creed: Unity. The games were likely chosen as they all feature NVIDIA GameWorks integration to deliver a "better gaming experience."
The Sun pours more energy onto the Earth than humanity could ever use, but capturing that energy and putting it to use is not very easy. Naturally many approaches have been developed, and one, concentrating solar power (CSP) has received an important boost. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, as part of the DOE's SunShot program, have created a new material for converting light into heat.
Concentrating solar power works by focusing sunlight onto a material, which absorbs the light and converts it into heat. That heat is then used to heat molten salt, which in turn boils water, creating steam to turn turbines. The absorbing material is obviously key to the process, as it has to be able to hold the energy, instead of radiating it away, and the longer it can survive, the better. Current materials need to be replaced each year, but what the California researchers have created should be able to last multiple years, while also surviving temperatures above 700 ºC and converting over 90% of the light into heat.
The material consists of silicon boride-coated nanoshells that vary in size from 10 nm to 10 micrometers. That range is what allows it to absorb so much light and survive such high temperatures.
Source: University of California, San Diego
Cooler Master has announced the availability of a pair of new cases, the Silencio 652S and Silencio 352. The 652S is a mid tower case with a solid black exterior that can hold up to nine traditional hard drives or ten SSDs. The case also has intake air filters for an included Silencio FP 120 fan and can accommodate a 120mm or 240mm radiator. The 352 is a mini tower designed for Micro ATX systems that can hold up to three 3.5" hard drives or four SSDs. A 240mm radiator can be installed in the front of the case and graphics cards up to 14 inches in length will fit. Both cases utilize sound dampening panels to keep noise to a minimum and are available immediately.
Source: Press Release
Android 4.4 KitKat was released just over a year ago when the Nexus 5 made its debut. Since then, the mobile operating system from Google has continued to grow and cover more devices than ever. According to the latest update to the Android Developers Dashboard, KitKat now covers 30.2 percent of all Android devices, based on the number of devices that visited the Google Play store during a seven day period. Compared to September, KitKat saw a 5 percent growth during the month of October, but still lacks far behind Jelly Bean which currently has 50.9 percent of the market.
As Android Lollipop makes its way to the market, the total number of KitKat devices will likely fall in the coming months.
Data security is of great importance in the modern world, with so much private information being transmitted every day. Many modern cryptographic schemes rely on such complex operations that massive computational resources would be needed to crack them. Researchers at MIT and Maynooth University have recently found that some of these schemes also allow for another kind of security, which could be used to better protect the data.
While computational complexity protects data by requiring prodigious amounts of time and resources to crack, information-theoretic security protects against extracting any useful information, even with unlimited computational power. Information-theoretic schemes are some complicated though, that they are not practical to use. However, the researchers have found that existing cryptographic schemes do have some information-theoretic guarantees. The researchers found this by examining the probability spaces that pieces of plaintext would become certain ciphertexts. By keeping the probability of the different ciphertexts near each other, it becomes much harder to infer what the original plaintext may be.
What this translates to is that while an entire message may not be information-theoretic secured, portions of it could be. Potentially one could design the scheme to make sure select portions are, such as social security numbers, ages, or other particularly important pieces of information.
If you are a fan of MOBAs like League of Legends or Dota 2, then Logitech has a new mouse coming to the market that should be of interest to you. Dubbed the G302 Daedalus Prime MOBA Gaming Mouse, this mouse is specifically designed to survive even the toughest gaming sessions. A metal spring button tensioning system allows for improved left and right click response, with up to five clicks per second registered by the G302. Intense, rapid-fire clicking shouldn't be an issue with this mouse, as Logitech designed it with the best eSports athletes in mind (and even tested it with the likes of Team SoloMid, Cloud9, CJ Entus Frost, CJ Entus Blaze, and Invictus Gaming). It also designed the mouse to survive 20 million clicks, which Logitech says translates to about 15 hours of gaming a day over two years.
The G302 features six customizable buttons that can be programmed with simple hotkeys or complex macros, four adjustable DPI settings, and Logitech Delta Zero sensor technology for perfectly captured movements. The Logitech G302 Daedalus Prime MOBA Gaming Mouse will be available later this month for $49.99.
In order to better serve the tens of millions of people who already utilize Prime, Amazon has just introduced Prime Photos. The latest addition to the Prime lineup provides free unlimited photo storage on Amazon Cloud Drive, allowing Prime members to keep their precious memories on a secure storage platform. Users can upload their photos from a variety of devices, including Android and iOS devices, Fire tablets and Fire phone, and Mac and Windows computers. Once uploaded onto Amazon Cloud Drive, the photos can be accessed from nearly any device, including Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and select LG and Samsung smart TVs. The Vice President of Amazon Prime, Greg Greeley, stated that "With free unlimited photo storage, we’re providing one more reason for members to use Prime every day." Greeley went on to say that "Prime has always allowed members to conveniently save time and save money, and now with Prime Photos they can save memories too."
Source: Business Wire
It is election day here in the United States, so hopefully everyone eligible has gone and done so. We do have some reviews to keep you occupied today too, including a look at the HIS R9 285 IceQ X2 OC 2GB video card with its custom cooler and factory overclock. There is also a review on the Samsung 850 Pro SSD and what the different speeds are like when the varying capacities are filled up. We even have a look at the AORUS Thunder K7 gaming keyboard, which is the gaming brand from Gigabyte and features Cherry MX Red switches, backlighting, and a detachable number pad. Wrapping things up today is the Icy Dock Black Vortex Hot Swap Module, which enables you to fit four 3.5" drives into a single 5.25" bay.
HIS R9 285 IceQ X2 OC @ Madshrimps
Samsung 850 Pro Full Capacity Roundup @ PC Perspective
Icy Dock Black Vortex Hot Swap Module @ ThinkComputers
AORUS Thunder K7 Gaming Keyboard @ Benchmark Reviews
NVIDIA has just released the GeForce 344.60 Game Ready driver, coming just in time for the release of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Besides fully supporting the recently released Call of Duty title with an application profile, the latest driver from NVIDIA includes version 6.5 of CUDA, version 184.108.40.206 of GeForce Experience, and version 9.14.0702 of PhysX System Software. The GeForce 344.60 WHQL Game Ready Driver, which can be downloaded from the NVIDIA website, is only available for Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 8.1.
Although HP has been absent from the gaming laptop market in recent years, despite its acquisition of Voodoo in 2006, the company has decided to release a new gaming laptop in order to gain additional market share. The new gaming laptop, called the Omen, is similar to other gaming laptops currently on the market in the sense that it offers excellent hardware inside of a compact, sleek, and relatively lightweight package. The Omen, which costs $1,499, features an Intel Core i7, an NVIDIA GeForce 860M, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, a 15.6-inch screen, and a red backlit keyboard with six programmable function keys. Customers can double the storage of the SSD for $100 more, and can also get the 4GB version of the GeForce 860M for an additional $100, making the cost of the HP Omen $1,699. All of this hardware comes encased within a black aluminum package that is 20mm thick and weighs 4.68 pounds.
The HP Omen is available immediately for purchase from BestBuy, the Microsoft store, and other online retailers, with the gaming laptop shipping to customers in the coming weeks.
If you follow national or international news, you are likely aware of the current Ebola epidemic in Western Africa. This virus has a fatality rate as high as 70% and there are currently no licensed vaccines or treatments. There are vaccines in development though, and researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have actually created one that can be inhaled.
There are several advantages to being inhalable, including simpler storing, transportation, and administration requirements. Just not having to deal with distributing syringes as well as needle safety and disposal is important. This vaccine has also already proven effective in non-human primates as it improved survival from 67% to 100% when it was challenged, versus just a 50% survival rate, when applied by injection.
With success in non-human tests, the next step is phase I clinical trials, which will test it in human subjects. The researchers are also looking into if it can be administered as thin films placed under the tongue of a non-human primate.
Source: University of Texas at Austin
In delivering on its promise to deliver a beta version of Skype Translator to Windows 8 users before the end of this year, Microsoft has revealed that it is now accepting signups for the real-time translation tool. The Skype Translator preview, which is only available for Windows 8.1 computers and tablets, provides real-time translation between participating parties, giving users an on-screen transcript while also reading translations aloud during video chats. While the preview itself only supports a few, unspecified languages at this time, instant message chats in 45 languages can be successfully translated. The list of languages that can be used with the real-time video translation capabilities found in Skype Translator is expected to grow in the near future.
Interested users can sign up for the preview version of Skype Translator through the Skype website.
November 3, 2014
The sixth faction for Ubisoft's Might & Magic Heroes VII has been selected by the community, and unsurprisingly, the Dark Elves of the Dungeon faction won out over the Demons of the Inferno faction. It would have been a lot more interesting if the vote was between Sylvan and Dungeon, pitting elves vs. elves, as fantasy fans clearly tend to flock to anything elven. Nevertheless, the Dungeon join the Sylvan as the voted-in factions.
As with the previous faction win, now members of the Shadow Council gets to select the Dungeon's line-up. This time things are a little different though, with the first vote lasting one week, and then the top two choices battling it out in week two with a brand new vote.
The Blade From the Shadows is the offense-oriented line-up, using its speed for hit-and-run attacks with Skirmishers, Nightmares, Assassins, and Black Dragons. Malassa's Thousand Faces is a balanced army that adds in some tougher units like Troglodytes and Striders alongside Stalkers and Medusas. The Shield of Darkness is the defense-oriented line-up, featuring Troglodytes, Striders, Manticores, Minotaurs, and Hydras.
The first vote ends in two days, and then you'll have another week until the final tally.
Source: Official Site  &