OCC TECH NEWS
June 25, 2014
Learning languages can be very difficult, which is why we see so many techniques and technologies developed to assist people. Braille too can be hard to learn, but researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have put technology enhanced gloves to work to help teach it.
The gloves have small motors sewn into the knuckles and were first created years ago, to teach people how to play piano. To teach people Braille, the researchers had the study participants type out a phrase in Braille, after the sequence of letters was played out by the gloves, with audio cues indicating the letters being typed. Next the participants were asked to play a game for thirty minutes and to ignore the gloves. The audio cues played for everyone, but only half of the participants received the vibrations while playing. After completing the game, the participants were asked to type out the phrase again and those without the vibrations during the game failed to improve, while the other half improved by a third. Some of the participants in the experimental group were even perfect the second time. None had any experience with Braille or Braille keyboards prior to the study.
All of this was accomplished using passive haptic learning, which takes advantage of the observation that vibrations can be used to teach people motor skills, without them having to be attentive to their hands. This discovery could have many implications, especially as many Braille is often neglected in schools, leading to only a tenth of the 40 million blind people in the world, to know the language.
Source: Georgia Institute of Technology
June 24, 2014
NVIDIA has announced that its GPUs are being used by multiple vendors to create 64-bit ARM development systems for high performance computing (HPC). Designed with energy efficiency in mind, the ARM chips were intended to be used with micro-servers and web servers. The use of NVIDIA GPUs and the CUDA 6.5 parallel programming platform has allowed these CPUs to break into the HPC market where the power efficiency could be a welcome change. Users will be able to migrate current HPC applications to the new systems be recompiling them for the ARM architecture and the applications will be able to take advantage of the massive computing potential of NVIDIA Tesla K20 GPUs. Pat McCormick, senior scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, said "We are working with NVIDIA to explore how we can unite GPU acceleration with novel technologies like ARM to drive new levels of scientific discovery and innovation." A number of systems will be available this year from Cirrascale, E4 Computer Engineering, and The Eurotech Group.
Deep Silver has announced that Saints Row IV National Treasure Edition will be heading to North and South America on July 8, which will include the base game plus the entire collection of DLC. "This includes 29 mission and content packs and all the awesome weapons, homies, outfits and stuff you've desperately been pining for!" With the plethora of DLC for the game, there are probably quite a few people that were holding off for such a version. At $29.99, this is a great deal for console games, but PC gamers are better off taking advantage of the current Steam Summer Sale to grab the Saints Row Franchise Pack at 75% off for a mere $18.74! That not only nets you Saints Row IV and all its DLC, but also Saints Row: The Third and all its DLC, along with Saints Row 2.
Seriously, is there anything better than Steam Sales?
Source: Official Site
For many security techniques, the reason data is protected is not because it is impossible to access, but very, very difficult to. At least that is what people believe until someone finds a quick way to get information. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have done just that by identifying a method to access memory address information many expect to be protected.
The researchers are also going to demonstrate weaknesses in the Android Zygote system, which is meant to accelerate application launches. It has the side effect of giving applications largely identical memory layouts, so the expected effort required to counter ASLR to attack these apps is greatly lessened. This issue will be demonstrated in Google Chrome and VLC Media Player at Black Hat as well.
When Deep Silver officially unveiled Metro Redux back in May, the publisher simply gave us a vague "Summer 2014" release window. Today, Deep Silver announced that Metro Redux will launch on August 26 in the United States and August 29 in Europe. The boxed copy of Metro Redux contains both Metro 2033 Redux and Metro: Last Light Redux, while the titles are available separately via digital download. If you already own the original games on Steam, you can get 50% off pre-purchases of the Redux versions. Two new screenshots were also released, which can be viewed below.
Source: Press Release and Official Site
There is plenty to cover on today's docket, so let's dive right in. We have another look at the Intel Core i7-4790K Devil's Canyon chip, the newest revision to the 4th Gen Core CPUs. To run your new i7-4790K, perhaps the EVGA Z97 Classified motherboard, with its high-end looks and premium features, is the one for you. Switching over to the AMD side of things, we have a review on the A10-7850K Kaveri APU to see how far it can take your gaming. If all you want is a new video card, then take a look at the ASUS GTX 760 Striker Platinum to see if it fits your desires and your budget. We have other items for you to check out too, so whether you need a new case, keyboard, or just a mouse pad, be sure to hit them all up below.
Intel Core i7-4790K Devil's Canyon @ TechSpot
AMD A10-7850K (Kaveri) @ Bjorn3D
ASUS GTX 760 Striker Platinum @ LanOC Reviews
EVGA Z97 Classified @ PC Perspective
Enermax iVektor @ ThinkComputers
Corsair Vengenace K65 Compact Mechanical Gaming Keyboard @ Bjorn3D
ROCCAT Siru Gaming Mouse Pad @ ThinkComputers
Sprint has announced nationwide availability of its HD Voice technology, which is supported on cellular phones that an estimated 16 million Sprint customers own and operate. The technology is supported on 33 prepaid phones and 28 postpaid phones that are currently offered by Sprint. Customers who are able to use Sprint HD Voice are greeted with a more natural-sounding voice as well as minimized background noises thanks to noise-cancelling technology.
In addition to this announcement, Sprint activated 28 more LTE markets which brings its nationwide 4G LTE coverage to 471 cities. Sprint Spark, the company’s enhanced LTE network that is designed to provide enhanced wireless capacity, coverage, and data speeds, was also activated in three new markets.
Source: Converge! Network Digest
Corsair has just announced that a larger capacity Force Series LX SSD is now available for purchase. While the 128GB and 256GB models have been available to consumers for roughly the last month, a new 512GB model has been incorporated within the Force Series LX lineup. Besides the obvious increase in available storage space, hardware specifications for the drive remain the same as smaller versions, featuring a Silicon Motion controller, a SATA 3 interface, and file transfer speeds of up to 560MB/sec read and 450MB/sec write. The new Corsair Force Series LX 512GB SSD comes with a three year warranty and is available from authorized retailers for $259.99 MSRP.
Source: Press Release
Google has announced that it is launching a new domain registration service known as Google Domains. The new service will offer customers 100 email addresses on the domain for free, as many as 100 subdomains, and will make use of Google DNS servers for quick response times. Google Domains will not charge consumers extra for setting an address private, and the service will support new address registrations as well as transfers. Website creations tools such as Shopify, Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix have all signed up as partners as well. The search engine giant has decide to create its own domain registration service because of research that its small business division recently conducted, which revealed that 55 percent of small businesses still lack a website.
Currently, Google Domains is only available to those who receive an invitation to participate, but Google is hoping to make the service available to the masses in the near future.
The development of multi-core CPUs changed the technology world, as suddenly computers could become more powerful, without having to push to ever higher clock speeds. Multi-core designs do introduce some interesting complications though, which can make adding more and more cores very difficult. Researchers at MIT however, have built prototype chips with 36 cores to demonstrate a solution for efficiently connecting the cores.
Modern multi-core CPUs pass all information along a single wire called the bus, so when two cores need to send or receive data, one is granted exclusive access. As core counts increase, this approach will stifle performance, so the researchers have been looking into networks that mimic the Internet, for communication between cores. With this 'network-on-chip' approach, each core is directly connected to those adjacent to it and can pass information along, when two distant cores need to communicate. One potential issue with this approach though is that the cores' local caches could lose coherence, with one core not realizing another has the most recent version of some data. To address this, there is a second series of wires between each core that send packets of data, tracking when a core requests information. This router-like solution allows cores to know about requests for data and be ready for them, and with hierarchical priorities, chronological ordering can be achieved.
To prove the practicality of this technology, the researchers intend to test their 36-core prototypes by running a modified version of Linux with them. Once armed with some performance numbers, blueprints for the chip will be released as open-source code.
June 23, 2014
So often the two things we desire come in conflict with each other, with one example being the need for something strong and light. For large structures, this can be and has been accomplished by using geometries that are open to the air without sacrificing stiffness. Translating this to a microscale has been a challenge for many years though, but researchers at MIT and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have recently 3D printed such a special structure.
As the geometry of the structure could be determined mathematically, we have known how a microscale, ultrastiff structure would look for over a decade. The problem has been finding a way to assemble such a small structure. One group, also at MIT, suggested an assembly system that would rely on robots to build the structure from flat panels, but the robotics have not been developed yet. Instead these researchers used projection microstereolithography, which is a 3D printing process that can print with very high precision. The resulting sample structures were able to hold a load 160,000 times their own weight, and roughly 400 times more than a counterpart of similar density.
These stiff, strong, and light microstructures could prove invaluable in systems destined for space, where weight is critical. They could also see use in batteries, as a means to lower the weight of our portable devices.
Although it has been a little over two months since the initial discovery of Heartbleed, which at the time affected around 600,000 systems, it still continues to pose a threat to users worldwide. Robert Graham from Errata Security noted that there 309,197 servers still vulnerable to the OpenSSL bug, which if exploited, can leak account login details. What is surprising is that last month around the same amount of servers were still vulnerable to the attack, which indicates that people have stopped attempting to patch affected systems. While the amount of affected systems will surely decrease over time due to lifecycle replacements, Robert Graham still expects to find thousands of systems still vulnerable even a decade from now.
Source: Errata Security Blog
The Microsoft Surface Pro 3, which was just made available to consumers last Friday, has received a full teardown from the electronic repair site known as iFixit. The website rates various gadgets on their reparability, noting how easy they are to repair on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the most difficult and 10 being the easiest. The Microsoft Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2, which preceded Microsoft's latest tablet offering, received a reparability rating of 1 due to various factors. The trend continues with the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 as it has received the same rating, with iFixit noting that some serious adhesive is present that holds multiple components in place within the device. Due to this, along with the display being comprised of a fused glass panel and LCD that iFixit claims is extremely difficult to remove and replace, it is no wonder why the latest Surface tablet received the rating that it did.
While Ubisoft and its subsidiary Blue Byte Software launched the freemium, browser-based The Settlers Online in 2012, there hasn't been a proper The Settlers game since 2010 (The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom). Today, Ubisoft UK announced a return to the franchise with The Settlers: Kingdoms of Anteria. Like the previous games, Kingdoms of Anteria will combine city building and real-time strategy. "You will build up a prosperous economy and lead your champion through dangerous adventures in order to create a wealthy, bustling and glorious kingdom."
Aside from the CGI Announcement Trailer above, not much else is known of the game, with the official site simply having a newsletter subscription to learn more when new information is released. The Settlers: Kingdoms of Anteria will presumably be a PC-exclusive like its predecessors.
Source: All Games Beta and Official Site
First announced on April Fools' Day, Techland's Hellraid spin-off Hellraid: The Escape is indeed real and coming to iOS for $2.99 / €2.49 on July 10. That price grants you the entire game along with free future updates – there are no in-app purchases. The game takes place in Hellraid's dark fantasy universe where the player is "trapped in a magic prison having only their cunning as their weapon." Hellraid: The Escape is a puzzle game rather than a first-person action-RPG like its big brother. But it certainly has better visuals than most mobile puzzle games you've probably played thanks to the latest iteration of Unreal Engine 3.
Hellraid: The Escape is compatible with iPad 2 and newer, iPhone 4S and newer, and iPod Touch 5th Generation.
Source: Press Release
Thermaltake has announced the release of the Poseidon ZX mehcanical keyboard through the Tt eSports line. The keyboard uses a tenkeyless design, reducing the footprint to 80% of the area of a standard keyboard. The mechanical keys feature blue backlighting and N-key rollover using a USB connection. The brightness of the backlighting is adjustable and a key has been included to disable the Windows key functionality while in game.
Source: Press Release
ADATA has announced a new memory card that pairs the form factor of a Compact Flash card with a SATA interface. The ISC3E CFast card is compatible with the CFast 2.0 and SATA 3.1 specifications and offers read and write speeds up to 435MB/s and 120MB/s, respectively. ADATA believes the new memory card will be an excellent choice for industrial applications as it "is highly shock and vibration resistant, withstand extreme temperatures from -40 ºC to +85 ºC, and the MTBF is up to 2 million hours." It will be available in capacities ranging from 4GB to 128GB.
Source: Press Release
Normally when one envisions a computer or calculator, an electronic device comes to mind. The ability to process information and perform options with it however is not limited to silicon transistors and copper wires. Researchers at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena have recently built a calculator that uses chemistry and sugar to arrive at solutions.
In electronic computers, transistors are used to build logic gates that represent Boolean operators like AND, OR, and NOT. The potential differences of the data coming in, is how the system determines what the output should be. In the researcher's sugar computer, this process is replicated using a fluorescent dye and a fluorescence quencher. If both a present, there will not be a fluorescence signal, which would be analogous to a 1 in binary. To get a 0, sugar can be added to the mix, as it will react with the quencher, preventing it from suppressing the dye.
To prove that it works, the researchers gave their sugar computer the calculation 10+15 to answer, which it did, after forty minutes. The researchers have no designs to compete with electronics, but instead demonstrate a chemical system that could be applied for medical diagnostics by directly performing logical functions on bodily fluids.
Source: Friedrich Schiller University Jena
We have arrived at the final full week of June, and there are a few items to check out to start this Monday off right. Gigabyte's G1.Sniper M5 motherboard gets put to the test to see how this high-end Intel Z87 board could be the basis for your new system. We have a review on the Edifier Luna Eclipse 2.0 speaker system, which features a compact design that should still be able to pump out the tunes. Finally the first Android phone from Nokia, the Nokia X, gets reviewed to determine whether or not it is a hit or if you should just consider Nokia's Windows Phone offerings.
Gigabyte G1.Sniper M5 @ Madshrimps
Edifier Luna Eclipse 2.0 Speaker Set @ Madshrimps
Nokia X @ TechSpot