OCC TECH NEWS
August 18, 2014
Last month, Capybara Games announced that it was bringing its side-scrolling, time-traveling shooter Super Time Force to Steam this Summer. Today, Capy announced that Super Time Force Ultra (STFU) will be launching on Steam on August 25 with bonus content that includes: "50 new Helladeck challenge levels, inter-dimensional Ultra Force powers, and three super-awesome, super-secret new characters." Here's the official Steam Trailer:
Source: Official Site via Facebook
Whether you're a World of Warcraft addict or never touched the game in your life, it's hard not to be amazed by the cinematics Blizzard always produces for the game. With World of Warcraft's fifth expansion, Warlords of Draenor, launching on November 13, Blizzard unveiled the opening cinematic during Gamescom last week.
Warlords of Draenor is currently available for pre-order in three flavors: Standard Edition at $49.99; Digital Deluxe Edition at $69.99; and retail Collector's Edition at $89.99. All pre-orders grants the ability to boost one character to level 90, allowing you to access all end-game content immediately.
Source: Press Release
Back at the beginning of the month, Klei Entertainment announced that its turn-based tactical espionage game Invisible, Inc. would be coming to Steam Early Access on August 19. At the time, there was no new trailer nor Steam page, and while the latter is still missing, we do finally get to enjoy a new trailer:
Invisible, Inc. will be available tomorrow, August 19, on Steam Early Access. Right now you can grab Klei's previous stealth-based game Mark of the Ninja at 80% off until tomorrow.
Source: Klei Entertainment via Facebook
Although the Amazon Fire Phone was announced just two months ago and was released shortly afterwards, Amazon has just pushed out a software update for the phone’s operating system. The latest update for the Fire Phone brings the Fire OS to version 3.5.1, and with the new version comes various fixes and updates. Some of these include Quick Switch, application grid folders, carousel pinning, enhanced carousel email, improved video sharing, and 11 frame lenticular photos. Amazon has also improved the battery life of its Fire Phone, with the latest Fire OS update providing dozens of updates that address the issue.
Fire Phone owners can update their device by navigating through the settings menu, or by downloading the update on a computer and transferring the file onto their phone via the included USB cable.
A product listing page over the weekend on the Best Buy website appears to have revealed the price and specifications of the upcoming Moto 360 Smart Watch. The watch was listed at $249, slightly above "less-fashionable square" offerings from Samsung and LG with prices of $199 and $229, respectively. According to the listing, Texas Instruments is making a return to mobile devices by providing the SoC that will power the Android based device. The listing also revealed that the watch will have a 1.5" 320x290 LCD, 512MB of RAM, a pedometer, and a heart rate sensor. Nothing more has been revealed, but a September 4 Motorola event could shed some more light on the device.
Source: Ars Technica
When it was announced that Facebook was purchasing Oculus VR, Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson decided that he was no longer interested in developing a version of the game for the virtual reality headset. Using the reasoning of "Facebook creeps me out," Notch decided to move on, but fans of the Oculus Rift and Minecraft could be in for some good news. A Twitter post by Notch has renewed speculation that the game could be on its way to the Oculus Rift and has even drawn a response from Oculus CTO John Carmack who said, "say the word, ship the source, and i'll make sure It runs well on you-know-what..."
Source: PC Gamer
It's 2014, so a Season Pass for a major AAA title was to be expected. Today, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE) and Monolith Productions unveiled the Season Pass for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, though curiously failed to mention a price. But most surprising is that it contains exclusive content that seemingly won't be available outside of the Season Pass – a "Guardians of the Flaming Eye" Orc Warband mission, where "players will face Sauron's elite Defenders before the Black Gate and earn the Rising Flame rune." In addition to that exclusive mission, the Season Pass also includes: early access to the "Trials of War" challenge series; two new story missions, "Lord of the Hunt" and "The Bright Lord"; and additional future content, such as runes and skins.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is releasing on September 30 in North America and October 3 in Europe for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
Source: Press Release
Symantec has been a part of the security sector for quite some time, and it goes without saying that number of offerings have continued to grow as technology changes have occurred over time. Although it currently has 50 million people that currently pay for a consumer version of Norton security, the company is looking to severely trim down its current lineup of products. Norton has revealed that it will replace Norton AntiVirus, Norton Internet Security, Norton 360, Norton 360 Multi-Device, and Norton 360 Premier Edition with the new Norton Security, which is set to debut on September 23, 2014. The new suite is set to offer antivirus and anti-malware protection, botnet detection and blocking, intelligent cloud-based detection, and browser security without an add-on. Gerry Egan, the senior director of product management for Norton at Symantec, noted that the new Norton Security will even offer a virus-free guarantee if the company runs into something that it simply cannot handle.
No pricing information is currently available for the new Norton Security, but there will be two levels of service. The cheaper version will be known simply as Norton Security and will provide customers with protection for up to five devices, including Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. The more expensive version will be known as Norton Security with Backup and will not only cover up to 10 devices, bit will also include cloud-based storage.
Guacamelee! is one of my favorite Metroidvania side-scrollers of all-time; so much so that I played it to completion again on Steam after having already attained the Platinum Trophy on PS Vita. In July, developer DrinkBox Studios released Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition (STCE) on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Wii U, which added new levels, enemies, and more. Today, out of nowhere, DrinkBox announced that Guacamelee! STCE will be coming to Steam on August 21, complete with everything from the console version, along with Steam workshop integration, a Costume shop, Steam trading cards, and a tease of "some cool future updates."
Guacamelee! STCE will be priced at $14.99, with a temporary launch discount of 10% off during the first week. Owners of Guacamelee! Gold Edition on Steam will receive a 66% off loyalty discount, dropping the price to just $4.99. Now if only DrinkBox would provide us an update on Severed!
Source: Press Release and Steam
Many people likely associate the image of a table covered with beakers, flasks, burners, and at least one microscope with a chemistry laboratory, but that is likely to change in the future. Many groups around the world are working on creating lab-on-a-chip systems that will condense chemical testing equipment onto something the size of a computer chip. Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz have recently created a chip with the ability to identify single molecules by combining electrical and optical measurement techniques.
The chip utilizes a nanopore that acts as a smart gate, to control the flow of molecules into a channel. The nanopore also allows the researchers to make electrical measurements as the molecules crosses it. For DNA passing through the nanopore, the electrical measurements would actually be able to determine the genetic sequence of the DNA, by fluctuations of the current. Once in the channel, the molecule is also exposed to a beam of light, and changes to the light's intensity indicates the size and optical properties of the molecule, as well as the flow speed through the channel.
When the researchers tested their chip with a mixture of influenza viruses and nanobeads of similar diameter, tagged with fluorescent labels, they found that they were able to distinguish between the two particle types using their electrical and flow properties with perfect accuracy. They were even able to count the number of virus particles, which would be very useful for analyzing samples.
Source: University of California, Santa Cruz
Community Health Systems is one of the nation’s leading operators of general acute care hospitals in the United States, with a total of 206 hospitals in 29 states. As such, the hospital operator holds and maintains millions of records, and unfortunately has just announced that some of those records have been compromised by a group based in China. According to Community Health Systems, patient names, addresses, birthdates, telephone numbers, and Social Security numbers of 4.5 million people were compromised in an attack that centered itself on attacking systems through highly sophisticated malware. Although the attack occurred in April and June of this year, Community Health Systems failed to realize that the theft had taken place until just last month.
While a computer security company was able to figure out that the attacks were performed by a group located in China, the name of the group has not been disclosed despite federal law enforcement authorities within the United States reportedly being aware of the group’s identity.
BIOSTAR, a manufacturer of motherboards, graphics cards, and industrial computing systems, has just announced its latest all-in-one board that features a system-on-a-chip, the J1800TH. The J1800TH makes use of the mini-ITX form factor as well as Intel’s Bay Trail chipset, allowing it to provide optimized performance through a low power consumption and fan-less design. Value is one of the main components of the BIOSTAR J1800TH, as it supports many innovations such as a moisture proof PCB, ESD protection, eXtreme Durable Capacitors, and USB 3.0, just to name a few. With the BIOSTAR J1800TH being as efficient and compact as it is, it is suitable in a variety of business applications including digital signage, kiosks, point of sales units, and thin clients.
Source: Press Release
SiSoftware has recently released the third service pack for Sandra 2014, an award-winning utility, which includes remote analysis, benchmarking, and diagnostic features for PCs, servers, mobile devices and networks. The latest service pack incorporates many updates and fixes that target various aspects of the program, including the built-in scheduler, video shader compute, processor benchmarks, and a graphics processor benchmark. The CUDA SDK has also been updated to version 6.5, due to recent WHQL video drivers now supporting it as well as Visual Studio 2013.
Service pack 3 for Sandra 2014 comes just under three months after service pack 2 was released for the utility by SiSoftware.
Source: Press Release
Google has officially acquired Jetpac, a company that provides and maintains a mobile application known as City Guides that recommends destinations based off of analyzed Instagram photographs. The technology offered by Jetpac extracts information from photos that are publically available, and is able to provide customized geographic information through its application. Although Google did not mention exactly how it plans to incorporate the technology offered by Jetpac, the search engine giant will more than likely mesh the analytical technology into its current suite services, as the Jetpac team is set to join Google’s Knowledge team shortly. Jetpac noted on its website that it is excited to work on its existing projects with various team members at Google.
Since the Jetpac team will soon join Google, all applications currently available from the company will be taken off of the App Store on September 15, 2014.
Some people may not always think about it, but impurities are important to our way of life. The changes impurities can cause in many materials has enabled and improved many technologies we have come to rely on. Now researchers at Rice and Osaka universities have found how much impurities can disrupt graphene, a material many hope will be central to future technologies.
Graphene is an atom-thick sheet of carbon with special electrical properties, including great electron mobility. Of course for those properties to be useful in future technologies, they must persist, but the researchers have found that they can be greatly affected by impurities from the environment. The researchers grew a sheet of graphene and transferred it to an indium phosphide substrate for this research. When femtosecond laser pulses struck the graphene, the indium phosphide reacted by emitting terahertz radiation that passed through the graphene. Using a spectrometer, the researchers were able to detect imperfections as small as an oxygen molecule, as they affect the electric field of the graphene, and disrupted the terahertz radiation.
Of course the knowledge of how much graphene can be affected by imperfections is going to impact the development of technologies that may use it. One potential technology may be to actually adapt this experiment's design as a highly sensitive gas sensor.
Source: Rice University
A new week is starting, and with it comes a few items for your viewing pleasure. We have a review on the Corsair Carbide Air 240 case, the company's newest member of the uniquely designed series that uses with a micro-ATX or mini-ITX motherboard. There's also an overview of the recent Gigabyte Extreme Overclocking Competition held at the Helibronn Tech University in Germany. Wrapping things up for today is a look at six popular Linux desktop environments so you have a better idea of what to use if you're thinking of switching to the open-source OS.
Video Perspective: Corsair Carbide Air 240 @ PC Perspective
The Linux Desktop: 6 Popular Linux Desktop Environments @ TechSpot
Gigabyte Extreme Overclocking Competition 2014 @ Madshrimps
Graphene is an amazing material with its special mechanical, electrical, and optical properties, making it of key interest to many. The hope is to one day use it in a variety of devices such as advanced sensors and higher speed and efficiency electronics. Now researchers at the National Physical Laboratory have discovered that the edge of graphene has some interesting properties that could influence some future applications.
One of the main reasons graphene is studied so much is that electrons can move along it at great speed and with little resistance. Such electron conduction would be very useful for many devices, but the NPL researchers have discovered that the edge of graphene conducts differently. While the bulk of the plane conducts electrons, the edges instead conduct the positively charged holes left behind by excited electrons. Effectively this makes the interior of a graphene sheet n-doped with the edge p-doped, and while both can conduct electricity, the differences are important for designing devices.
With side-gates the researchers were able to tune the conduction of the edges without affecting the center. The researchers also discovered that the differences in conduction were most pronounced after the graphene had been cleaned, but faded over time, suggesting it is the result of defects that were filled by airborne molecules.
Source: National Physical Laboratory
August 16, 2014
There have certainly been games with a rodent protagonist, but they tend to be side-scrolling platformers. How many games let you embody a mouse in a third-person action-adventure game? Ghost of a Tale does just that. And did I mention that protagonist Tilo is as adorable as it gets? He's bipedal while walking, but when he sprints, he gets down on all fours and scampers just like a real mouse. He can also wear armor; some ridiculously big armor that clearly slows him down. Again, adorable.
Built using the Unity engine, Ghost of a Tale is already looking quite good, especially with Tilo's animations. However, developer Seith is quick to point out that gamers should temper their expectations:
People expecting the scale of Skyrim or the action of Dark Souls are not going to find it. Instead they’ll find a small game with elements of exploration, action, stealth, adventure, and I hope the charm and heart which I think so many bombastic AAA games lack nowadays.
Ghost of a Tale will be releasing for PC and Xbox One sometime in 2015, but Seith makes one thing clear: "Ghost of a Tale is primarily a PC game."
Source: Official Site via PC Gamer
It's never easy going from 2D, 640x480 pixel art to full-blown 3D, but Phoenix Online Studios has seemingly done a pretty good job at it with Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition. Some fans of the original may be a little upset that all the voice acting was redone, but it's hard to deny that visually, this remake is stunning, especially with the highly detailed environments. Check out the Gamescom Trailer below:
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition is scheduled for a August/September release on PC and Mac, with an iPad version coming at a later date.
Source: Phoenix Online Studios via PC Gamer
EVERCOOL, a professional and well-known cooler and fan brand, has just released its latest product known as the BT-100. The BT-100 is a portable Bluetooth speaker that incorporates plenty of technology into a relatively small, but certainly well designed, black capsule. Besides delivering crisp audio through its two 40mm driver units, the BT-100 is capable of taking incoming phone calls while music is playing, as it features NFC function support along with a built-in omnidirectional microphone. The BT-100 features up to eight hours of music playback time with its included 450mAh lithium battery, and can be charged via a microUSB cable in approximately three hours.
Source: Press Release
August 15, 2014
Clockwork Empires is a steampunk colony-building sandbox game from Dungeons of Dredmor developer Gaslamp Games. If it sounds familiar, that's because it was first announced nearly two years ago! While the game has been in "Earliest Access" for a little while now, Clockwork Empires has finally arrived on Steam Early Access today. If you're not familiar with the game, Gaslamp has released a trailer entitled "Staving Off Starvation", which happens to be "Part 11 of The Prudent Bureaucrat's Guide to Colonization," providing a glimpse at the game and what it'll take to survive. Now if only the studio released the first ten parts...
To go along with the "Starvation Avoidance" theme, there's also a quickstart guide available on the official site to get you rolling. Do keep in mind that, while it has been updated from "Earliest" to "Early" Access, it truly is just that – there's not even saving. That's scheduled to be added early next week, if everything goes according to plan.
Clockwork Empires is exclusive to PC and available on Steam for $29.99. Gaslamp has stated that the price will neither raise nor lower once the game is out of Early Access (not counting sales, of course).
Source: Steam and Official Site
If you've been keeping your eye on Far Cry 4, you're probably already familiar with the lush greens of Kyrat and snowy white mountains of the Himalayas. But there's another region in Far Cry 4 that's quite different. Shangri-La is a spiritual world where the "rules of reality don't apply, but the consequences are very real." With the terrain painted red and a sky of yellow, Shangri-La is a mythical land accessible through "one of the thangkas (traditional weavings depicting the history of Kyrat) found throughout the country." Oh, and a white tiger fights alongside you, while you're armed with just a bow and a blade; though the bow can slow time.
While Shangri-La is its own entity, as you complete missions in that land, you unlock new skills in the main areas. The UbiBlog post linked below provides an in-depth description of the area and the encounters players will come across, including enemies that can teleport mid-attack. While Shangri-La may seem a bit out of place in a games that strives for semi-realism – lending itself more to a standalone experience a la Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – Ubisoft's decision to include it in the base game was not made lightly.
"Shangri-La is one of the founding myths of Kyrat," [Creative Director Alex] Hutchinson explains. "While we were developing the game, we thought: We're going to invent this country. A country isn't just the land. It's also the history of the place and what its inhabitants believe in."
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
Normally one would expect that an object can be described as the sum of its parts, depending on what specific property you are describing. For protons, many believed that their spin was the combination of the spins of the particles that make it up, but in the 1980s experiments showed this was not the case. Since then researchers have been working to solve the proton spin crisis, and those at MIT have some new evidence.
According to the standard model, protons are made of two up quarks and one down quark, which do add up to the positive charge of the larger particle. Adding the spins of the quarks up does not result in the spin of the proton though, so researchers have been searching for where the additional spin must come from. One theory is that the bonds between the quarks occasionally break, and this allows pairs of quarks and antiquarks to briefly appear and annihilate, contributing to the proton's spin while they exist. To test this, the researchers collided a number of protons, which produced some W bosons. These bosons would have the spin of any antiquarks that were present when the proton collided, thereby allowing the researchers to determine how great an influence the quark-antiquark pairs have on proton spin.
As it turns out, the spin of the antiquarks is only marginal and not enough to solve the crisis. All is not lost though, in a larger sense, as the information collected gives a much better understanding of how up-flavored antiquarks behave and come to exist. This will aid future studies into the crisis as well.
Ubisoft has published an 11-minute uncut gameplay video of Assassin's Creed Unity, showing off a single player assassination mission from start to finish, narrated by Creative Director Alex Amancio. In the interest of full disclosure, I was going to simply watch just enough of it to be able to post about it...but wound up being completely sucked in. To say this will likely wind up the best Assassin's Creed game to date is no huge stretch. I know graphics aren't everything, but ditching last-gen has truly resulted in a beautiful, dense, immersive game like none before it. And the "Free-run Down" mechanic is a huge improvement.
Assassin's Creed Unity will release on October 28, 2014, for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. I've also attached nine new screenshots below.
Source: Press Release and UbiBlog