OCC TECH NEWS
It's December, whcih can mean only one thing: the OverclockersClub 2013 Christmas Contest! That's right folks, the annual Christmas Contest has arrived at OCC, with a plethora of prizes up for grabs. There is, of course, a grand prize, and Bosco and the sponsors have truly outdone themselves. The grand prize computer features an Intel Core i7 4960X, three NVIDIA GTX Titans, an ASUS motherboard, a 240GB Kingston SSD, 16GB of Patriot DDR3 RAM, a Thermaltake Water 3.0 Performer cooler, and plenty more items. Sounds sweet, right? You know it does! There's more than just the system, like RAM from Mushkin, Kingston, and G.Skill; SSDs from Kingston; cases from Thermaltake and Fractal Design; peripherals from a variety of manufactuers; CPU coolers from Noctua; and really just far too many things to list in here.
There are some requirements to enter of course, but predominantly in the email you send to [email protected]. That email must contain your username, full system specifications, and your full mailing address with phone number. The phone number is particularly important, as the grand prize winner will be getting a call from Bosco himself on Christmas morning. You seriously do not want to miss that call, especially if you don't recognize the number! The 2013 Christmas Contest is open to everyone, but just be sure to enter by December 24.
Best of luck to everyone, and a Merry Christmas from all of us at OCC.
December 6, 2013
Black holes have been a part constant of science fiction for as long as I can remember, with storytellers using them as means to travel across the Universe and even to other universes. Of course, these concepts just exist within the realm of fiction. The reality of black holes though may be a bit weirder than expected, according to researchers at the University of Washington.
Quantum entanglement is an interesting phenomenon which links the quantum states of two particles. This means that the properties of one will dictate those of the other, when they are observed, no matter how physically separated the two particles are. What the researchers have done is considered what would happen if two black holes were entangled, and their conclusion is that a wormhole would form. The catch is that you would not be able to transport any information through the wormhole, because black holes do not allow light to escape. However, if you and a friend were to jump into the two black holes, what you would see and experience inside would be identical.
Perhaps this research will dash the hopes of some readers and writers, but it will likely increase our understanding of entangled quantum systems. Forming this theory required showing a relationship between quantum mechanics and classical geometry, which will be a useful tool for other researchers.
Source: University of Washington
December 5, 2013
Google is in the process of rolling out the ability to download e-mails and calendar appointments from its Gmail and Calendar services with the click of a button to give users access to their data offline. E-mails will be exported in MBOX and Calendar data will be in iCalendar format, two widely accepted and used formats for this type of data. The downloaded data can be used to move to another service in addition to having offline records. Calendar data can be exported immediately while Gmail download support will be rolled out over the next month.
Hackers managed to obtain more than two million passwords from popular online destinations such as Facebook and Gmail in a breach that began on October 21. The attack was carried out by using keylogging software on the users computers and 93,000 sites in total had passwords compromised. Users that had their accounts compromised were notified by the sites in question and were advised to change their passwords. Trustwave, the company that discovered the hack, has stated that there are more servers out there that haven't been found yet, indicating that the hack is likely ongoing. Be sure to keep your computers up to date and mix up your log in information for all of the sites that you frequent to help prevent or minimize the damage that could be done in attacks like these.
First introduced in the 1970s, fiber optics has provided the world with high speed communication, and is now part of the backbone of the Internet. Since its introduction, the capacity of the technology has increased by an order of magnitude about every four years, through the development of associated technologies. Recently though, that trend has slowed as researchers have hit a bottleneck, but those at EPFL have found a way to greatly improve throughput in one advancement.
A datum traveling through an optical cable is represented by the presence or absence of a light pulse. This is works well for digital data, which is stored as zeroes and ones, but to protect the integrity of the data, each datum must be enough separated from the others that they will not interfere with each other. That means there is a fair amount of empty space in an optical signal. What the EPFL researchers have done is demonstrate an efficient way to reduce the necessary distance between two data. By making the pulses rectangular, so they are equal intensity over a range of frequencies, it is much easier to keep prevent interference, that would otherwise corrupt data.
The idea of creating these 'Nyquist sinc pulses' in optical fibers is not new, but this is the first time it has been achieved with nearly perfect rectangular pulses, and without a complicated infrastructure supporting it. To deploy this solution in an optical fiber network one would just have to replace the transmitters in the system, not the cables, and the new ones would be using technology that has already matured.
Source: Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Func is no longer just a company that makes some stellar mouse pads, as it's released a mouse (the MS-3) and now a mechanical keyboard. The keyboard is called the KB-460, and it uses Cherry MX Red mechanical switches with individual key illumination. There's also full N-key rollover on the KB-460, so you won't have to worry about any commands getting missed during a frenetic gaming session. Customization is a key part of this keyboard, as Func not only allows you to adjust the backlighting level, but you can also re-assign the keys to whatever suits you best. Want certain keys remapped or disabled altogether? You can do that! There are five profiles to store your settings, with the 128KB of onboard memory keeping everything there regardless of where you take the KB-460.
The keyboard features a Func Mode (hold the Fn key and hit F12), which activates any re-assigned keys and disables the Windows button. Everything can be configured with the Setting Software, however if everything is already to your liking, you can just plug in the KB-460 and get right to typing/gaming. Func wants users to feel at ease with the KB-460, and to also customize it to their needs (hence the re-assigning function). There are a multitude of key layouts available for the KB-460; so US, UK, Nordic, French, German, and Russian users can have the exact keyboard they need. The vast majority of the pictures below are with the Nordic layout, however you can check out all six on the keyboard's website.
Each Func KB-460 has a 1.8 meter braided cable and two USB 2.0 passthrough ports, plus a palm rest. Retail price on the KB-460 is $99.95 at launch ($119.95 afterwards), with availability starting today.
Source: Press Release
There are many situations where you want to measure the distance to an object, such as surveying or controlling an autonomous car. A common tool for those situations is the lidar rangefinder, which reflects laser light off of objects to make the measurement. Researchers at MIT have recently made some clever advances to the system, enabling it to use significantly less light, which should have some interesting benefits.
A typical lidar system will repeatedly fire laser pulses at a position, until it gathers enough consistent data to be confident in the distance, and moves on to another position. The new MIT system however only accepts one photon before moving on, but records number of pulses it fired before receiving the photon. This allows it to generate a map based just on that data, roughly indicating the reflectivity of different objects. Of course, capturing only a single photon puts the system at risk of being fooled by a stray photon, from another source. To correct for that the researchers are applying a statistical trick that takes advantage of the fact that such photons follow a pattern known as Poisson noise. Instead of just filtering out the noise pixel-by-pixel, this system considers how much filtering was required in adjacent pixels, as they will likely have similar reflective properties, at the same depth.
Altogether, this new system should be able to generate a depth map with just a hundredth the number of photons a conventional lidar system uses, and generate an image with one nine-hundredth the number of photons. This should result in energy and time savings, and should prove useful in low-light situations.
It's nearly the end of the first week of December, and before it arrives there's a few items for you to look over. We have a review on the HIS R7 250 iCooler Boost Clock video card, which could be an ideal card for those on a tight budget who need something more powerful than integrated graphics. There's also a look at NVIDIA GRID on the SHIELD, which recently arrived in beta, to see how far cloud gaming has come and just what NVIDIA's take on it is like. Finishing things off is a new podcast examining all the happenings and reviews from this week.
HIS R7 250 iCooler Boost Clock 1GB GDDR5 @ Madshrimps
NVIDIA GRID Beta Testing on SHIELD - An Optimistic First Hands On @ PC Perspective
Podcast #279 @ PC Perspective
December 4, 2013
Valve is going all in with Linux, as it has officially joined The Linux Foundation. The Linux Foundation is a nonprofit group comprised of companies and individuals that promote and advance the open-source OS. Valve's upcoming SteamOS is Linux-based, and its new Linux Foundation membership further cements the investment in gaming on Linux. The membership does give the company some benefits, as Valve can help guide development through workgroups and member councils. Valve's Mike Sartain had the following to say on the move:
Joining the Linux Foundation is one of many ways Valve is investing in the advancement of Linux gaming. Through these efforts, we hope to contribute tools for developers building new experiences on Linux, compel hardware manufacturers to prioritize support for Linux, and ultimately deliver an elegant and open platform for Linux users.
No details were released on just what Valve paid to join, however corporate membership begins at $5,000 and goes to $20,000 for the lowest Silver tier. Platinum membership is a $500,000 deal, which grants a seat on the board. Right now Valve is the only pure game company in The Linux Foundation, although both Sony and AMD are members. Other members include IBM, Oracle, Cisco, Google, and Samsung, so there are some definite heavy hitters helping advance Linux. Considering how much Valve CEO Gabe Newell is a fan of Linux, it looks like gamers will soon have a worthy OS to use for their favorite hobby (and personal Steam Machine).
Source: Ars Technica
It's the middle of the week already, and there's a few reviews for you to check out to help get through today. We have a look at the new H Wireless headset from SteelSeries, which marks the company's first foray into wireless headsets for the PC. It's a rather slick looking headset, but looks are just part of the equation, so be sure to check out the review to see how it performs. There's also a look at the new Western Digital Black2 Hybrid drive, which combines an SSD and HDD into a single 2.5" drive. Finally there's the ADATA DashDrive HV620 external hard drive that ranges in capacities from 500GB to 2TB.
WD Black2 Hybrid Hard Drive @ TechSpot
ADATA DashDrive HV620 External Hard Drive @ Benchmark Reviews
SteelSeries H Wireless @ LanOC Reviews
For billions of years, plants have been breaking apart water molecules to store solar energy in chemical bonds. Humanity has been trying to achieve a similar feat for considerably less time, and one issue with many of our attempts is the use of the expensive and fragile material, indium tin oxide (ITO). Researchers at Duke University however, have found that films of copper nanowire could do the job as well or better, while being cheaper and more flexible.
Like it or not, ITO has proven to be a very valuable material, thanks to its conductivity and transparency, but the rarity of indium and complicated manufacturing processes make it less than ideal. This has made the search for a replacement material an important one, and copper nanowires could be it. Copper is roughly one thousand times more common than indium, making it considerably cheaper, but also copper nanowires are much cheaper to work with as they can be printed directly onto materials, such as glass or plastic. Also important is that films of copper nanowires are transparent and flexible. Even when coated with nickel or cobalt, metals useful as catalysts for separating water molecules, the nanowires allowed almost seven times more sunlight to pass through them than ITO.
Currently the nanowires have only been used for half of the water splitting process, but the researchers are working on that other half. Once that is achieved, we could eventually see copper nanowires being used to build fuel cells that will fit in backpacks and cars, or being components of OLED lights, displays, and smart glass.
Source: Duke University
Only a few days ago, OCZ filed for bankruptcy. It was sad news for many, since the company's SSDs have been a favorite for many PC builders. But it may not be the end of OCZ's line of SSDs, as it has been confirmed that Toshiba will acquire "OCZ's client and enterprise solid state drive business". And while doing that Toshiba will also be funding OCZ's purchase of NAND, so it can support its customers during the transitional period.
Toshiba will obtain every single part of OCZ, which includes its "proprietary controllers, firmware, and software, as well as the teams responsible for bringing those solutions to market." This is a huge gain for Toshiba's SSD department, since OCZ has extensive knowledge about SSDs and especially its own controller and firmware. Toshiba will also be acquiring OCZ's brand and sales channels, so maybe Toshiba will continue to sell products under the OCZ brand, but it is still unknown.
According to Ralph Schmidt, CEO of OCZ, the causes of OCZ's demise are credit issues, NAND supply issues, and a very competitive SSD market. The last few years the number of SSD manufacturers has grown tremendously, and it now consist of large players, such as Intel, Samsung, Corsair, and many more. Many of these large companies have very deep pockets, which enables them to pour large amounts of money into R&D and advertising. And it appears that it was too much for OCZ.
Source: Ars Technica
Mechanical keyboards are supremely popular in this day and age, with pretty much all of them using one of the many varieties of Cherry MX switches. Today Cherry has something new in store, as it's presenting the Cherry MX RGB switch. It's the first switch specifically designed to take advantage of multicolor LED illumination, as Cherry has applied SMD (Surface Mount Devices) LEDs directly to the circuit board to provide even lighting through the keycaps. This means 16.7 million colors can easily and readily be displayed with the new MX RGB switches, and with no odd illumination on certain keys. Cherry's product developer, Karl-Heinz Müller, explains the new switches thusly:
The illumination of keyboard symbols – especially in terms of their uniformity of illumination – is a technically highly complex and demanding task. The previous solution with the incorporation of 3 mm LEDs led to unsatisfactory results. With our newly developed MX RGB switch, key symbols can be evenly illuminated not only in the widest variety of brightness levels but also in up to 16.7 million different colors. Our new concept of light conductance was implemented through the use of new materials and several patent-pending technical solutions. This innovative, technical concept was implemented only in conjunction with manufacturing processes and sophisticated tool concepts constantly optimized over many years.
Cherry was able to get the even illumination by using a transparent case and a scattering surface lens. It allows for all 16.7 million colors to be displayed at high intensity, so no matter how dark your room is, you won't have an issue. Since the SMD LEDs are directly on the circuit board, production can be fully automated and at a cheaper price, which will hopefully translate to us consumers. The Cherry MX RGB switches will be available in Blue, Black, Red, and Brown varieties, so your favorite switch will soon be able to benefit from the new illumination. Each switch also uses Gold Crosspoint contacts for the utmost precision, as well as high speed, long life, and no dust/dirt build up thanks to their self-cleaning nature.
Corsair, as one of Cherry's partners, will be the first manufacturer to bring the MX RGB switches to market next year. The first products will be shown at CES 2014 in a little over a month, and I imagine those keyboards will be some of the most sought after ones on the market.
Source: Press Release
December 3, 2013
BitFenix has announced the addition of a pair of cases to its Colossus line of cases that was launched three years ago with the Colossus Full Tower. The two new cases are the opposite of the Colossus namesake in size, instead targeting the small form factor market. One case is geared toward Micro-ATX boards and the other accommodates the Mini-ITX form factor. The two cases share a number of design elements including support for long graphics cards and 240mm water cooling radiators, modular hard drive cages, cable management locations, and filtered intake fans. Both cases also offer lighting with three color choices and a pulse mode. Take a look at the video below for an extensive look at the new cases.
Source: Press Release
One of the weird aspects of quantum mechanics is that observing a system can change it, causing information to be lost. This is a challenge for quantum computers, which require information is stored in qubits for extended periods of time. Researchers at NIST and other institutions however have found actually protect the information in qubits by causing them to give up information.
Typically, once information is encoded into the quantum states of particles, forming a qubit, one would want to protect it from the environment and any interference that could cause that information to be lost. What the NIST researchers have done though is taken advantage of that interference to protect the information they want. The researchers used two ultraviolet lasers to entangle two beryllium atoms, forming a qubit, and had two partner magnesium ions nearby. With an ultraviolet laser and microwaves, the researchers caused the qubit to release information to the magnesium ions, but that information only concerned properties of the particles besides their entanglement. The magnesium ions were then cooled with multiple lasers, causing that information to be lost to the environment.
Eventually what happens is the qubit enters a ground state where only the desired entanglement is left, and it is protected from electromagnetic fields. Essentially, everything unwanted about the qubit was removed, so only what the researchers wanted was left, making it hard to destroy. The researchers found they could successfully entangle the correct state within milliseconds, 75% of the time, and with more time the accuracy grew to 89%.
There's a lot of good items for you to look over today, including a couple of Intel Z87 motherboards and Noctua coolers. The first Z87 motherboard is the Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H, which comes in at a lower price point than most but certainly isn't lacking for features. Next is the Biostar Z87X 3D motherboard, which is also a more budget-friendly motherboard that packs in a sweet audio solution. As for Noctua, well we have looks at both the NH-U14S and NH-D14 CPU coolers; the first is a single tower cooler while the second is the big daddy dual tower cooler. There's a review on the Lenovo Erazer X700 gaming PC for those who'd rather buy a fully assembled computer that doesn't skimp on the performance. We have a review on the new Moto X smartphone and also an AirPlay speaker from Wren for iOS devices.
Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H @ ThinkComputers
Biostar Z87X 3D @ Bjorn3D
Noctua NH-U14S @ Frostytech
Noctua NH-D14 @ PC Perspective
Lenovo Erazer X700 Desktop Gaming PC @ TechSpot
Wren V5AP AirPlay Speaker for Apple iOS Devices @ ThinkComputers
Moto X on Verizon Wireless @ LanOC Reviews
December 2, 2013
NVIDIA just keeps rolling right along, as earlier today it released version 1.8 of GeForce Experience. The new update features "game-changing Optimal Playable Setting functionality", as well as various improvements to ShadowPlay to help make it even better. Optimal Playable Settings can now go up to 3840x2160 resolutions; users can choose between Windowed, Borderless Windowed, and Fullscreen Mode; and there's a handy slider to adjust settings between Optimal, performance, quality, or anything in between. NVIDIA defaults to settings that should give you at least 40 frames per second, however you can move the slider to the left for 60FPS or move it to the right for lower FPS (yet better quality). Of course those FPS numbers can change depending on the game and your specific hardware, but it at least gives you a good baseline.
As for the ShadowPlay improvements, Windows 7 users can now record up to 20 minutes of Shadow Mode footage, just like Windows 8 users. Windows 7 Manual Mode also no longer restricts you to a single 3.8GB file, as now it can record across multiple files until you run out of space (if you so choose). NVIDIA's even added the ability to record game and VOIP audio at the same time, so now you can narrate your footage as it happens. All users have to do is just select the "In-game & microphone" option under Audio in GeForce Experience. Some of the other improvements include reduced stuttering while replaying footage, and the ability to capture footage at native resolutions and aspect ratios up to 1920x1080.
GeForce Experience 1.8 should automatically prompt you to download and install if you're using it already, otherwise you can grab it from GeForce.com.
Razer got its start with gaming mice but has since expanded its business to include all sorts of high-end peripherals, with the Kraken Forged Edition headphones as the latest addition. The hand assembled headphones are made from aircraft-grade aluminum with leather ear cups to provide for comfort during extended use. Countless hours of design and test have led to a pair of headphones that "deliver booming bass, clear mids and crisp highs for sound that’s optimized for music and pitch-perfect for gaming." Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan said, "These are the best headphones on the market for both music and gaming, period. We’ve made some incredible audio products in our time, and I’m proud to say that we have taken another huge step forward in terms of audio quality in a pair of headphones with phenomenal fit and finish."
Source: Press Release
Razer has been active in the eSports community for some time, sponsoring teams, players, and events. The company has now announced a new array of peripherals carrying the brand of Evil Geniuses, one of the teams sponsored by Razer. Limited edition versions of the Taipan mouse, Goliathus mouse pad, and Black Widow Ultimate keyboard will be available and represent the top of line products from Razer. Members of the Evil Geniuses team were involved throughout the design process to help create products that represent the team and its players. Evil Geniuses CEO Alex Garfield said, "Razer's enthusiasm for a custom line of Evil Geniuses products was a major factor in our decision to partner with them in the first place. It shows that there was an internal commitment at Razer to help us grow as a business." The Goliathus has an MSRP of $19.99, the Taipan will cost $89.99, and the Black Widow Ultimate will sell for $149.99. The Taipan and Goliathus are available now while the Black Widow is expected to be available the second week of December.
Source: Press Release
Self-healing polymers are pretty cool materials that have the ability to repair cracks, scratches, and cuts on their own. If an object has lost a major piece of itself though, the self-healing property will not be able to do much. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University however have developed a model for materials with the ability to regenerate bulk sections.
Regeneration is not a new concept for science, as many animals are able to regenerate severed limbs. This already-studied process helped the researchers identify the criteria for this work: initiation; propagation; and termination. To allow a material to sense when a portion of itself has been removed, the researchers added nanorods, of which the ones nearest to the new surface, move towards it. These nanorods then will cause polymerization reactions with molecules in a solution, to grow more of polymer. Through the computer model, the researchers also realized how to control the process, so as to stop it when necessary, and ensure the newly-grown material looks like the old one.
As this is currently just a computer model, it could be years before an actual regenerating polymer is created. For now though, the researchers will continue to work to optimize the model for when that polymer is ready to be made.
Source: University of Pittsburgh
It's officially December, and there's a few reviews for you to check out to welcome in the final month of the year. There's a new scalable NAS from Synology that could be the heart of your media server, either as your first step into the NAS world or an upgrade over an existing model. Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite gets reviewed to see how the e-reader line does with a backlit eInk screen. We finish today with a look at a couple of handy programs that can automatically download subtitles for movies and TV shows so you don't have to worry about it.
Synology DS1513+ Scalable NAS for SMB @ Madshrimps
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite @ Benchmark Reviews
Time Saver: 100% Hands Off Subtitle Downloads in Windows or Mac @ TechSpot
November 29, 2013
November is just about over and done with, and before it goes we have a few items for you to check out. We have a review on a Gigabyte Radeon R9 270X WF OC video card, which uses the company's Windforce 3X cooler and boosts the clocks by 50MHz. There's a look at the BitFenix Prodigy M case that's been tweaked a little to fit an mATX system instead of ITX, while still keeping all the original Prodigy features. Things finish off today with the Thermalright AXP-100 CPU cooler to help keep ITX systems from going up in flames.
Gigabyte AMD Radeon R9 270X WF OC (GV-R927XOC-2GD) @ Madshrimps
BitFenix Prodigy M @ Benchmark Reviews
Thermalright AXP-100 @ LanOC Reviews
November 28, 2013
Though not exactly news, here is a topical and interesting story from the Optical Society, which will be celebrating its one hundredth birthday in a few years. If you know someone that has undergone laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) or photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) surgery, of have undergone it yourself, you can actually thank the traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey.
In 1981, a group of researchers were working with an argon fluoride (ArF) excimer laser, which is capable of producing short pulses of ultraviolet light. Thanks to the high frequency and short bursts of the laser, they believed it should be possible to use the laser to cleanly cut tissue, without damaging cells around or behind it. Testing this hypothesis was proving difficult though, as the researchers could not immediately decide on a sample to use. During Thanksgiving dinner though, one of the researchers realized that a turkey bone with some cartilage would be perfect, as it is rigid and has a smooth surface. The next day the researcher brought in the bone, put it under the laser, and made multiple clean cuts in it. The researchers also used a green laser for comparison, and found it did considerably more damage to surrounding tissue than the ArF laser.
At first the team of researchers was finding it hard to share their results, but once they got out there, ophthalmologists and other surgeons approached. Earlier this year the team received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for their work that has corrected the vision of million, and may go on to help even more in other ways.
Source: The Optical Society
November 27, 2013
Though many people may only associate 3D photography with movies, it is a growing technology that will likely find use in many fields, such as medical imaging, sensors for cars, and gaming. Researchers at MIT have recently demonstrated a 3D camera that uses time-of-flight technology and can achieve a time resolution approaching femtoseconds.
Time-of-flight (TOF) technology is pretty straightforward as it simply relies on the fact that the speed of light is known, so by measuring how long it takes a light pulse to reflect off an object, one can determine the distance to that object. This is how Microsoft's new Kinect technology works. One problem with TOF cameras is that they do not work well with semi-transparent or translucent objects. The researchers have managed to overcome that issue by applying algorithms similar to those that sharpen photos taken by a shaky hand. Combined with some other tools, the $500 camera is able to reach towards femtosecond resolution, making it a 'nano-camera.'
Of course, at $500 this is not particularly cheap technology, but because of this camera's similarities to the new Kinect, prices could drop due to the games industry. Once that happens, the MIT researchers will have already produced a number of ways for people to utilize the technology.
It's the day before Thanksgiving in the U.S., and we have some reviews for you to be thankful for while awaiting the turkey dinner. We have an article examining the frequency variance of retail AMD Radeon R9 290X models and how there really should be a pre-defined clock for the base and turbo speeds. We also have a look at the new NZXT Source 530 case, which is a more budget-minded case that's brimming with features. There's a review on a Powerline kit from Rosewill to deliver an Internet connection using your home's internal wiring. We wrap things up with a review on the new Apple iPad mini to see if all the improvements make the price increase worth it.
Retail Radeon R9 290X Frequency Variance Issues Still Present @ PC Perspective
NZXT Source 530 Full Tower @ Neoseeker
Rosewill RPLC-200PKIT Powerline Adapter Kit @ Benchmark Reviews
Apple iPad mini Retina @ TechSpot
November 26, 2013
Have you ever noticed yourself picking up the expressions and mannerisms of others you spend a lot of time with? This is not uncommon and has some physiological basis. Researchers at Aalto University and Helsinki Institute for Information Technology have recently found that this linkage also occurs between two people playing video games together.
With facial electromyography to measure the reactions of facial muscles, and an EEG to measure brainwaves, the researchers pitted gamers against each other in a game called Hedgewars. This game features hedgehogs with artillery and the goal is to eliminate your opponent's hedgehogs first. When two human players were competing, the measurements indicated that their negative emotions became synchronized. Curiously, the more competitive the game, the more the positive emotions also became linked.
The researchers are not entirely sure why the linkage strengthened as the situation became more stressful, but it is possible this is to allow one to better anticipate their opponent, or to preserve any social bonds. The latter could definitely be true as the players were friends prior to playing the game, and would not have wanted to threaten that.
Source: Aalto University
Chromebooks seem to be the new craze in the laptop world. They are some of the bestselling laptops on Amazon, and they make plenty of headlines. Now Acer is ready to differentiate itself from the rest of the Chromebook makers. The company is introducing the first Chromebook with a touchscreen, and this is done without sending the price through the roof. The C720P, as it is called, will have an MSRP of "only" $300.
Now you may ask yourself the question whether a touchscreen is even necessary, since it is not really that prominent in the rest of the laptop market. But according to Arif Maskatia, CTO for Acer, "[the] new touchscreen C720P gives customers an intuitive way to browse sites online, enjoy apps, and do more with the Chromebook". So maybe this is the OS touchscreens have been waiting for.
Other than that, the laptop is not anything special. It has a 11.6 inch display with a 1366x768 resolution, an Intel Celeron 2955U processor, 2 GB of DDR 3 RAM, and a 32 GB SSD. Other features include Wi-Fi, USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports, a webcam, and an HDMI output. The battery is said to last up to 7.5 hours, which is decent, although not fantastic. The decent battery life might have been a trade off in order to keep the Chromebook light and thin. It weighs a little less than 3 pounds and is a mere 0.78 inches thick.
It will be sold at Amazon, Best Buy, and in Acer's online store starting early December.
Oh graphene, we hardly knew your high conductivity and two dimensional surface, and now you may be replaced. Well, at least in some scenarios, if researchers at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory are correct about a prediction concerning stanene, a two dimensional form of tin. The name comes from the Latin word for tin, stannum, and the suffix used in graphene.
This latest work originated from a search for topological insulators. These are a special class of materials that conduct electricity along their surface without a speed limit, but resist electrical currents through their volume. Several of these materials have been discovered before, but none have had the necessary properties for use at room temperature. Knowing to look in the lower-right portion of the periodic table, the researchers have found that two-dimensional tin with some fluorine atoms should be a topological insulator at temperatures as high as 100 ºC.
If stanene were used in electronics, such as the wiring within microchips, we could see a significant drop in power consumption and heat, as an electrical current would travel with 100% efficiency. Of course, there is a lot of work to be done before then, including confirming the researchers predictions, and then, if accurate, developing a reliable means to manufacture stanene, which will not be easy.
Source: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
There's just a couple of items for you to check out today, including another look at Western Digital's Black 2 Dual Drive. It combines a 120GB SSD and a 1TB HDD into a single 2.5" drive, which should be perfect for anyone who only has one hard drive slot in their laptop. The newest version of SiSoft Sandra has been released for the coming new year, and you can download it from our friends at NGOHQ. It provides pretty much all the information you could hope for on your computer, as well as some benchmarks to see how everything is working.
Western Digital Black 2 Dual Drive @ LanOC Reviews
SiSoftware Sandra Lite 2014 Released @ NGOHQ.com
November 25, 2013
Ferroelectric materials are a special class of materials that have the unique property of switching polarization when an electric field is applied. This property could see use in advanced forms of computing and memory storage, in part because electric fields are very easy to create. Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory however, have made a rather unexpected discovery while writing domains of switched polarization onto a ferroelectric material.
Normally one would expect that when writing domains to a material, they would simply be written where and as you want them to be. As the domains got closer together though, forming denser arrays, the domains started affecting each other. Sometimes a new domain would not form or it would form with an alternating, checkerboard pattern. Not only has this never been seen before, but at first the researchers thought this was impossible. Upon further examination, the researchers determined that this behavior was chaotic, which is typically seen over a length of time, and not over a distance in space.
With one domain able to affect those immediately next to it, and far away, this discovery could have impacts on memcomputing. This field of computing attempts to mimic neurons in our brains, which are able to both store and process information. Of course, far more research must be done before a computer operating on this domain interaction effect could be built.
Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory