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News Archives for December 2011

Hardware Roundup: Thursday Edition

Posted: December 1, 2011 @ time: 05:18AM
Author: Nemo

We have several hardware items to examine as we approach the end of another week. Leading off today is a budget-level case as Neoseeker looks at the BitFenix Outlaw mid-tower case. We have two CPU coolers in the lineup today with the Frio OCK air cooler from Thermaltake and the Antec Kuhler H20 920 liquid cooler. Continuing on down the list we have an opportunity to examine another Corsair power supply as well as another OCZ solid state drive. Wrapping up the hardware items is the QNAP TS-419P II NAS server.

Cases
BitFenix Outlaw Case @ Neoseeker

Cooling
Thermaltake Frio OCK Universal CPU Cooler @ PC Perspective
Antec Kuhler H20 920 @ XSReviews

Power Supplies
Corsair HX1050 1050 Watt Power Supply @ [H]ardOCP

Storage / Hard Drives
OCZ's Octane 512GB solid-state drive @ Tech Report
QNAP TS-419P II NAS Network Storage Server @ Benchmark Reviews

Miscellany
Contagion (2011) Cinema @ TweakTown
Cue Mr. Collins, Mr. Phil Collins @ Tech Report
TR's web comic: Snakes and ladders @ Tech Report
We're thanks-giving away an MSI X79 mobo and GTX 580 video card @ Tech Report


Complete Story


Poorer Graphene makes Better Sensors

Posted: December 1, 2011 @ time: 12:25PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

An interesting twist of chemistry has been discovered at the University of Illinois College of Engineering. Scientists hope to use graphene, a single-atom thick plane of carbon, in gas sensors because of its strength and characteristics often found in nanostructures existing on a macro-scale.

The new research has found that imperfections in the graphene can improve its detection capabilities. All gas detectors work by a material’s electrical resistance changing as gas particles fall on it. What the imperfections do is provide areas for the gas particles to attach to and make their effect more apparent. Some molecules attach at a single point, so resistance is little affected, as a current can just flow around the point. By making an entire line of imperfections though, the change in resistance will have to be noticed. You can think of it like a pot hole in the road and a speed bump. A pot hole can be driven around, but a speed bump you cannot avoid.

Perhaps this research can be combined with the graphene foam from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to make even more advanced gas sensors.


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Getting Graphene into Organic Chemistry

Posted: December 1, 2011 @ time: 12:25PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Despite being made of carbon, graphene is not very reactive, but that will not stop scientists from trying things. Researchers at Rice University used a lithographic technique to convert areas on a piece of graphene into graphane, which hydrogen atoms will attach to. With the hydrogen attached, fluorophore is deposited on the entire sheet. Fluorophore will normally fluoresce, but graphene prevents the process to do so. Graphane does not though, so when the sheet was looked at using fluorescence quenching microscopy (FQM) Rice’s Owl mascot was looking back at the researchers.

The researchers next subjected the sheets to diazonium salts, which will attack and the carbon-hydrogen bonds. The salts left behind a new bond though, which allows for more oganic functions to be performed on the graphene-graphane hybrid sheet. It may be years before a device can be made to use this, but such devices will be able to perform almost all organic chemistry a scientist would want.


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Detecting Bombs with Graphene Foam

Posted: December 1, 2011 @ time: 12:25PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Graphene is a single-atom thick sheet of carbon, but sometimes it is not a sheet of graphene we want. At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute they wanted graphene foam, where the sheets make up the walls. The use for this creation is to overcome a major issue with nanostructure-based gas detectors; the whole ‘nanostructure’ part specifically. The process to make the appropriate nanostructure to detect gases is quite difficult, and the result is often so fragile it would not survive long in a commercial detector. The graphene foam though is flexible and rugged enough to survive commercial use, while still offering the benefits of a nanostructure-based system.

When tested the graphene foam was found to be 10 times more sensitive to gases than current commercial detectors, in similar environments. The graphene was actually much more sensitive, as it could detect concentrations of ammonia and nitrogen dioxide as low as 20 parts per million. Of course, graphene, in any form, is not yet ready for mass production, but when that time comes, law enforcement, defense organizations, and many other areas that require gas detection capabilities, will have a powerful tool to use.

 

Perhaps this foam can be given imperfections to increase sensitivity like those from the University of Chicago College of Engineering to make super-sensors of some kind.


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Viral Update

Posted: December 1, 2011 @ time: 12:25PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Focusing on smartphones in this update, and because of the information available today, I felt like posting this a day early.

The CarrierIQ issue was first found mid-November, but it is getting some new life in the media this week. This piece of mobile-phone software exists on many smartphones of different brands and operating systems (Android, iOS, and Blackberry) and, on the surface, doesn’t seem too bad. It collects some metrics to give your service provider, so they can improve their service. Of course, what’s above and below the surface are very different. This software, which can be hidden from the user and difficult to remove, can collect keystrokes, location data, apps being used, and web addresses visited.

On some phones the software can be turned off, but not all, and on Android phones, manually removing the software can require root access. The software developer states they do not collect information except for what directly relates to improving handset performance and quality. Still, the abilities this software has would likely be tempting to many malware writers. (A search of CarrierIQ gives many sources of further information.)

Also, from North Carolina State University comes a security analysis of multiple Android based smartphones. Specifically the researchers looked to see how pre-loaded apps can introduce backdoors on the phone, which hackers can utilize. These applications are meant to improve user-experience such as notifying a user to missed calls or text messages. The researchers found the vanilla Android phones had, "no real problems," but HTC’s Legend, EVO 4G, Wildfire S, Motorola’s Droid X, and Samsung’s Epic 4G were not so lucky. Of those, the EVO 4G had the most vulnerabilities.

This was discovered earlier in the year and the manufacturers were notified immediately. For these phones, the best way to stay safe is to install the security patches they get and only install apps you trust.


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PCI Express 4.0 Standard Approved by PCI-SIG

Posted: December 1, 2011 @ time: 02:57PM
Author: bp9801

We still have not seen any PCI Express 3.0 cards, but that is not stopping PCI-SIG (the ones controlling the PCI standard) from approving the PCI Express 4.0 standard. PCI Express 4.0 will allow for 16 gigatransfers per second (GT/s) as the bit rate, which basically doubles what PCIe 3.0 can do. The new PCIe 4.0 standard should be announced in 2014 with enterprise and mainstream markets getting products in 2015 and 2016, respectively. PCI-SIG determines that PCIe 4.0 can be manufactured in mainstream silicon process, run copper interconnects, and maintain the same power level as PCIe 3.0 cards. All of that sounds pretty impressive considering PCIe 4.0 doubles what PCIe 3.0 can do, but we will not be seeing any PCIe 4.0 products for a while. PCIe 3.0 still has to come out first, but when the PCIe 4.0 cards hit, PCI-SIG says the new ones will be backwards compatible.


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Bethesda Releases New Details Concerning Skyrim Updates and Creation Kit

Posted: December 1, 2011 @ time: 03:11PM
Author: bp9801

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been out for nearly three weeks and has effectively swept the world by storm. Or should that be by dragon? Either way, Skyrim is an immensely popular game, and Bethesda is commited to improving our enjoyment even further. This week has seen the launch of the 1.2 patch, which is now out on all systems, but Bethesda has more in store for us. For starters, the Creation Kit will be released in January, which are the same development tools Bethesda used to create Skyrim. The Creation Kit will allow for even greater mods to be constructed than what are already available, plus Bethesda revealed the Steam Workshop will be integrated into the Creation Kit. This means gamers will have free and easy access to mods created using the Creation Kit, and provides an easy way for you to upload your own mods. You can even flag mods to be downloaded and installed automatically whenever you launch Skyrim. Bethesda knows there are other mod sites out there as well, and encourages gamers to use whichever method they prefer.

Concerning patches, the 1.2 patch fixed a lot of problems gamers were having with Skyrim, but also introduced some other problems. Some gamers no longer have magic resistance calculated properly on their character or any NPC in the game, plus a few are even seeing dragons fly backwards. Bethesda will release a small update next week to fix those problems, and will release full update notes when it is ready. The team will continue to release regular updates for Skyrim after the holidays, and mentions PC gamers will be getting them first because of the relative ease of releasing patches through Steam. PS3 and 360 gamers have to wait for Sony and Microsoft to approve the patches, so they will get it a bit later. Bethesda plans on releasing a ton of updates, both full and incremental, to address any problems or exploits encountered by gamers. Code side fixes are being prioritized first, while quest and balance issues will be fixed starting in January.


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Corsair Vengeance Going Mobile

Posted: December 1, 2011 @ time: 04:58PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Corsair has announced that it is bringing its high performance Vengeance line of memory to laptop users. The memory will operate at either 1600MHz or 1866MHz, and will work great with laptops sporting Core i5 and Core i7 processors from Intel. The memory won't require any BIOS adjustments to run at these speeds, and should work right out of the box. The kits will be available in either 4GB or 8GB, and will be built on the DDR3 SODIMM form factor.


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Chrome Gains Browser Market Share

Posted: December 1, 2011 @ time: 05:32PM
Author: CheeseMan42

The November numbers are in for internet browser market share, and Firefox continues to lose ground to Chrome. Chrome was up 0.56%, Firefox is down 0.37%, IE gained 0.01%, Safari is down 0.43%, and Opera lost 0.01%. Internet Explorer still rules the market at 52.64%, Firefox is in second at 22.14%, and Chrome now sits at 18.18%. Chrome has been on the rise for months now, and should overtake Firefox in under six months at its current pace. There was significantly more volatility in the mobile browser market, with Safari seeing a significant drop off, while Opera Mini saw a sharp increase. Just for reference, I install Chrome on every computer I use, and recently switched from the Android browser to Opera Mini. I would recommend both of them.


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NZXT Unveils Phantom 410 Midi-Tower Chassis

Posted: December 2, 2011 @ time: 03:06AM
Author: premiumgfx

NZXT today unveiled its latest chassis named the Phantom 410. The Phantom 410 is based on the original Phantom chassis by NZXT, but is more compact, and also includes a side panel window. The new chassis supports ATX, microATX and mini-ITX motherboards, along with three hidden 5.25" drive bays and six 3.5" drive bays. A removable hard drive cage enables the Phantom 410 chassis to house video cards up to 40cm in length (or up to 30.5cm long video cards with hard drive cage). Cooling is provided by three pre-installed fans, although up to five additional fans can also be installed, including a unique tilting fan on the hard drive cage. The I/O panel features two USB 3.0 ports and standard audio ports, while the top of the chassis has a fan speed controller. Support is included for 240mm or 280mm radiators in the roof of the case. The NZXT Phantom 410 chassis measures 215x520x532mm (WxHxD) and will be available on December 9 for around US$135 (€99.90) from caseking.de. The Phantom 410 will come in red, black and white variants.


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Hardware Roundup: Friday Edition

Posted: December 2, 2011 @ time: 04:31AM
Author: Nemo

Today's roundup has a few items for your perusal as we head into the weekend. Thermaltake has the Isurus in-ear gaming headset as part of its Tt eSports product lineup and we're given a chance to check them out. If you're locking into building a LGA 1155/Z68 chipset system we have an ASRock motherboard for you to read about. We also have a guide on setting up a network for your next LAN party as well as a review on the Phanteks PH-TC14PE CPU cooler.

Cooling
Phanteks PH-TC14PE CPU Cooler @ TweakTown

Motherboards
ASRock Z68 Extreme 7 Gen 3 LGA 1155 Motherboard @ PC Perspective

Networking
Configuring a LAN party network @ LanOC Reviews

Speakers/Headphones
Tt eSPORTS Isurus In-Ear Gaming Headset @ XSReviews

Miscellany
Podcast #180 @ PC Perspective


Complete Story


Flipping Quantum Coins

Posted: December 2, 2011 @ time: 01:51PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Poor Alice and Bob; they had been together so long, but now they’re breaking up. With no trust and a lot of miles between them, how can they decide who gets what? A coin flip would seem fair but not when both people are unable to view the flipped coin at the same time. So what they decide to do is Bob flips his coin and locks the results in a safe, before sending it to Alice. Alice then sends the result of her coin flip to Bob, who replies with the key to the safe. Now both people can see the results of both coin flips and neither could have cheated. This scenario is an analogy for a possible method of secure quantum communication.

Older methods of protecting quantum communication had been susceptible to cheaters, but not this. If Alice were to crack the safe open before sending her result to Bob, to guarantee her winning, the observation would be observable by Bob, due to quantum mechanics. So long as what is in the safe is entangled with something Bob still has, Alice observing it would trigger a change in what Bob can observe.

Researchers at the University of Calgary and at the SAIT Polytechnic (not named Alice and Bob) successfully demonstrated this technique across the 5 Km distance between them. Unfortunately, the flipping of quantum coins that far apart is not perfect, so cheating is still possible. However, cheating would not guarantee success and still presents the risk of getting caught, so the method is still relatively secure.

Don’t worry; I’m sure Alice and Bob will get back together before too long. There are still a lot of quantum mechanical phenomena to explain.


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Broadening the Search for Life on Exoplanets

Posted: December 2, 2011 @ time: 01:51PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

For the millennia humans have been looking to the heavens, the assumption has been made that we are right in the universe. Because we cannot see the curvature of the Earth, it must be flat. Because we do not feel ourselves moving, the stars and planets must be circling us. Because there is life on Earth, life must require an Earth-like home. These first two points have already been corrected and now this third one may soon be too.

Researchers at Washington State University are proposing a new system to categorize exoplanets, the planets found outside our solar system. The current system only considers how similar a planet is to Earth, and while the new design preserves this index, it also adds the Planetary Habitability Index (PHI). An explanation for why this new index is needed can be found orbiting Saturn; Titan. This moon is bathed in hydrocarbons, yet studies have found it may be habitable. Of course a human, and most other life on Earth, couldn’t survive there because we require water, but new kinds of life could develop for those conditions.

What the PHI would do is examine the chemistry we find on an exoplanet (believe it or not but we do have the ability to measure the chemistry of another planet’s atmosphere) to determine if it could support any kind of life. With the possibility of thousands of new exoplanets being found in the coming years, the use of this index could not be more apparent.


Complete Story


Secure Quantum Network Proved Robust by 21 Months of Use

Posted: December 2, 2011 @ time: 01:51PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Secure communication with modern computers relies on mathematics so intense, it is effectively impossible for a hacker to break it without the key. How the encryption system works is to multiply the data by a large prime number. There is no known way to predict prime numbers, so cracking the encryption would require testing every smaller number. For modern computers this would take more time than the age of the Universe, but for quantum computers, this is not the case. Already an algorithm exists to efficiently crack encryption with a quantum computer, so how would a quantum network transmit information securely?

Quantum key distribution (QKD) is one possible method and takes advantage of observation destroying quantum states. The states, in this case, are the orientations of a photon. For now, you can picture the photon as a compass; the needle is either vertical (↑) or horizontal (→), or at a diagonal (↗ or ↘). If Alice and Bob (told you they’d get back together) want to transmit information to each other, Alice, starts by randomly sending a bit to Bob, with one of those orientations. Now Bob has to decide what orientations he is measuring, because ↑ and → are only recorded correctly if he measures rectilinearly, and the diagonal bits (↗ or ↘) would be randomly 0s or 1s, and similarly ↑ and → would be random when Bob measures on a diagonal. Alice continues to send random bits like this, changing the orientation and the reference for what is 0 and 1 each time.

With all the random bits sent and measured, Bob tells Alice, without any quantum mechanics involved, what he measured each time; a 0 or 1. Alice replies with if he is right or wrong for each bit, and Bob, knowing how he measured it each bit, then knows how each bit was sent. (The only way he would be right is if he measured the same way she sent it.) They both now throw out whenever he was incorrect, and what’s left makes the shared key between them, for secure communication.

This method is secure because every time a photon is measured, the photon is disturbed in such a way that either Alice or Bob can notice it. Any would-be eavesdroppers are immediately discovered.

Now researchers know this method can work in real life. From March 2009 to January 2011, a QKD network was used by Swiss scientists at ID Quantique and the scientists at CERN. The only times the network was disrupted, an external event like a power outage caused it, and not a fault of the network or QKD system itself.


Complete Story


Freezing Water More Complicated than Thought

Posted: December 2, 2011 @ time: 01:51PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Everyone is taught early on in school that water turns to ice at 32 F or 0 C, but, as with many things taught early on in school, this is not completely true. Researchers at the University of Utah have found water can reach -55 F or -48 C before it must freeze into ice. Though computer models had to be used to arrive at this absolute freezing temperature, liquid water has been found at -40 F in clouds and -42 F in experiments.

Whenever a material changes from a liquid to a solid it tries to form a crystalline structure and when something cools too quickly, the result is an amorphous structure, like that of glass. For these internal structures to form though, a seed must be present to grow from. Most water we encounter is filled with impurities that will act as seeds, but pure water requires the spontaneous formation of a structure within the liquid. This is only guaranteed to happen at -55 F (-48 C).

Above this temperature something called ‘intermediate ice’ forms. These are water molecules which have taken on a structure similar to that of pure ice, but not quite. Intermediate ice also forms when water is frozen so quickly as to create low-density amorphous ice.

Water, one of, if not the most important substance on Earth is also one of the weirdest. Just remember, as winter comes and you see ice and snow outside, to be thankful the impurities in the water you see means the temperature can be as high as a relatively balmy 32 F, or 0 C.


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Notch Steps Down as Lead Developer on Minecraft

Posted: December 2, 2011 @ time: 02:00PM
Author: bp9801

Minecraft has been an immensely popular game ever since it launched in an alpha stage, and now it is available in an official capacity. The man behind all of it is Markus Persson, better known as Notch. Minecraft has been his baby, but like any good parent, he knows when it is time to let go. Now that Minecraft has had an official release, Notch will step down as the lead developer. Duties will fall to Jens Bergensten (Jeb), who has been working with Notch for over a year. Notch says he and Jeb are in sync with the direction of Minecraft, and feels confident leaving the game in Jeb's capable hands. Notch is going to take a bit of break to refresh his mind, and then come back to Minecraft and a new project he will reveal later on.


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More PS Vita Information Revealed - Custom Game Soundtracks and 720p Video Support

Posted: December 2, 2011 @ time: 02:28PM
Author: bp9801

The Sony PlayStation Vita may still be a few months away from launch outside of Japan, but today we learn some new information concerning the upcoming handheld. Sony is in negotiations with Adobe to add Flash support to the PS Vita's web browser, but since Adobe recently announced it would stop supporting Flash on mobile devices, Sony looks to be facing an uphill battle. Videos on the PS Vita will display in 720p, but 1080p support will not be included at launch. A future update could add in 1080p, but since the Vita only has 544 pixels of vertical resolution, the videos will have to be scaled down.

Games will be able to support custom soundtracks, which requires you to use the Vita's Media Player. You can start listening to music in the Media Player, switch to a game, and then have the music play in the background. Sony said game sound effects should still play without anything special needing to be done, and you will be able to use a custom soundtrack for every game. The PS Vita will also have PSP backwards compatibilty that is achieved through hardware and software, but not many details were divulged on that.

Lastly, earlier this week a GameStop leak revealed the prices for the PS Vita memory cards. The price is rather high for a proprietary card that resembles an SD card, but Sony explains why it did not just use an SD card. Sony wants to make sure every PS Vita owner is on equal footing, and since SD cards have different speed ratings, Sony did not want a gamer to have a slower transfer rate than one of their friends. Sony is also concerned with the security of SD cards, so a proprietary format was chosen. Sony also explained the PS Vita memory cards are not simply to store save game data, but also for DLC, patches, game data, and more.

The Sony PlayStation Vita launches on February 22nd, 2012, in North America, Europe, Latin America, and Australia.


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New Mass Effect 3 Video Shows Off Heavy Melee Attacks for Two Classes

Posted: December 2, 2011 @ time: 10:56PM
Author: bp9801

Mass Effect 3 may be a few months away from release, but that does not mean there is a lack of information on it. Today, BioWare have launched a new episode of BioWare Pulse that showcases the new heavy melee attacks for two of the classes. The Engineer's melee attack is a high-damage hit that includes fire damage to easily slice through armor. Adepts use their biotic ability to punch enemies and send them flying through the air just like in kung-fu movies. Each class will also be getting some new abilities to help make combat a little easier. Engineers can lay down a sentry turret in the middle of a fight to help take down enemies. Opposing Engineers can do the same, but you can actually hack their turret provided your Shepard is an Engineer as well. Vanguards, one of the favorite classes in the game, get a new ability called "Nova." It is another high risk, high reward ability like the returning Charge, but activating Nova will lower your barrier and then unleash them as a powerful shockwave to damage anything nearby. It looks as cool as it sounds, but it also leaves you vulnerable for a counterattack from anyone not caught in the blast.

The new Krogan shotgun "Grawl" is also shown, and it is one of the most accurate shotguns in the game. It fires a cone of spikes that embeds itself in bad guys while also leaving them with a bleed effect to bring down their health after the initial attack. It looks like it will make for one fun weapon when we can get our hands on Mass Effect 3.

Mass Effect 3 launches on March 6th, 2012, for the PC, PS3, and 360. The video below also details the contents of the N7 Collector's Edition.


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Beta Registration for Microsoft Flight Now Open

Posted: December 2, 2011 @ time: 11:09PM
Author: bp9801

Microsoft's Flight Simulator series has been one of the more popular flight sims since its introduction many years ago. The last entry was Flight Sim X in 2006, but Microsoft put the series on hiatus soon after. Now, Microsoft is ready to reboot the series with the simply named Microsoft Flight. The company has announced it is accepting registrations for the upcoming beta starting in January. If you're a fan of the series or flight sims in general, this would be a good chance to try out the latest from Microsoft. The team will go through all the submissions over the next few months and will respond to qualifying entries throughout the beta phase. Missions in Microsoft Flight will range from waypoint challenges to aerobatic displays, plus there will be some light, story-based missions where you may locate missing people or carry cargo/passengers. It looks like Microsoft Flight focuses on smaller propeller planes versus the jet-powered aircraft of past titles.

No release date for Microsoft Flight has been announced, but the beta starts in January. Feel free to register for the beta here.


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New 3DMark11 Record Set

Posted: December 4, 2011 @ time: 09:17AM
Author: CheeseMan42

A new record has been set in 3DMark11 by overclocker Vince "K|NGP|N" Lucido. The new record of X12,554 breaks the previous record by around 300 points. The record was set using the E779 X79 CLASSIFIED motherboard and CLASSIFIED GeForce GTX 580 ULTRA, both from EVGA, on the 11X Extreme preset settings for 3DMark11. The CPU was pushed to 5.3GHz, while the video cards hit 1300MHz core and 2400MHz memory frequencies. Vince used custom liquid nitrogen heatsinks for both the CPU and GPU that he manufactures himself, and are available for purchase on his website.


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2011 OCC Christmas Contest

Posted: December 4, 2011 @ time: 06:14PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

As another year is coming to an end, the OCC 2011 Christmas Contest is beginning. This year there are 20 sponsors and the grand prize is an Intel i7-965 Extreme rig. The full list of prizes can be found at the forum thread. All forums members with over 20 posts and whose accounts are over 30 days old are allowed to enter for the grand prize for the rest of the prizes you just have to have a membership. Check the forum thread for how to enter! The winners will be selected Christmas Eve after 6 PM PST.

What are you waiting for? Check out that thread and enter already! Good luck everyone.


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Hardware Roundup: Monday Edition

Posted: December 5, 2011 @ time: 04:53AM
Author: Nemo

Welcome back to another week of reviews from around the Web. This is always an exciting time of the year and nothing gets the holiday spirit cranking like the annual OCC Christmas Contest. If you haven't visited the forums yet, you really need to check this out! There are so many goodies in the roundup today it's hard to know where to begin. First, let's take another look at the MSI GTX 560 Ti-448 1280MB Twin Frozr III Power Edition video card. Patriot's Pyro SE 120GB solid state drive would make a good stocking stuffer this year as would the SilenX EFX-12-12 120mm case fan (you can check out the OCC review of the SilenX 80mm and 140mm fans here). There are reviews on notebooks, media players, motherboards and more in our roundup today, so be sure to follow the links below for all the reviews.

Cooling
SilenX EFX-12-12 120mm Fan @ Bjorn3D

Gadgets
Griffin Beacon for iOS @ ThinkComputers
SilverStone SST-EC03 USB 3.0 PCI-E Card @ Benchmark Reviews

Gaming
Super Mario 3D Land Nintendo 3DS @ TweakTown

Input Devices
Steelseries 7G: Heavyweight Keyboard @ Computer Ed

Media Players
Sitecom MD-272 HDD TV Media Player 2TB @ Madshrimps

Motherboards
ASUS Sabertooth X79 (Intel X79) Motherboard @ TweakTown

Notebooks
ASUS U36SD-XA1 Notebook Review: The Battery That Never Dies @ PC Perspective

Storage/Hard Drives
Patriot Pyro SE 120GB Solid State Drive @ TweakTown

Video
MSI GTX 560 Ti-448 1280MB Twin Frozr III Power Edition Overclocked @ TweakTown

Miscellany
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010) Blu-ray Movie @ TweakTown


Complete Story


Public Windows 8 Beta Could be Coming in February

Posted: December 5, 2011 @ time: 08:09AM
Author: edwardquilo

2012 is promising to be a year with a lot of Windows 8-related activities. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is headlining the CES with a keynote address on Redmond's touch-enhanced OS, and rumors abound that the public will also be given access to the Windows 8 Beta shortly after CES concludes. According to Read Write Web, the public beta will be available in the latter part of February. There was no mention as to which features would make it into the build, as the Windows 8 engineers are still deciding on which components to include. A slick touch interface(optional), faster boot times and a quicker, streamlined OS installation are just a few of Windows 8's interesting new attractions. As such, if this rumor proves to be accurate, we'll finally have some first-hand experience at some of the enticing features Microsoft has been teasing us with for the last few months, and that's a good thing for those itching to take a peek at what Windows 8 has to offer. 


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MIT Knows When You Run a Red Light

Posted: December 5, 2011 @ time: 11:29AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

In 2008, 7000 people died in car crashes, and of those deaths, over 700 at crashes in which a driver ran a red light. Researchers at MIT want to shrink those numbers with an algorithm to predict when a driver is going to run a light. Algorithms to do this already exist, but they do not have an accuracy of 85%.

Before we can get this in our garages though, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) systems will have to be implemented in cars. This technology is being explored by the Department of Transportation and many car manufacturers such as Ford. A V2V system allows cars to talk to each other so the vehicles and drivers can know better the distance between them, their speeds, and their directions. Benefits from such a system include gas mileage, by minimizing the need for minor speed adjustments, and safety with systems like MIT’s.


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New Star Wars: The Old Republic Video Features Jedi Consular versus Imperial Agent

Posted: December 5, 2011 @ time: 01:14PM
Author: bp9801

Star Wars: The Old Republic is basically two weeks away from launching. It is the first MMORPG from BioWare, but it is set in the Knights of the Old Republic universe the studio popularized with the series of the same name. SWTOR is set several hundred years after the events of Knights of the Old Republic II, and this being BioWare, has a much larger focus on story than your average MMORPG. I'm sure you've seen some of the gameplay videos and may have even participated in some of the beta events, so you should know by now if you are going to get Star Wars: The Old Republic or not. Some of you may even have picked your first class, but for others, you may need a little help to decide what to play as. Well, today BioWare has released a new video showing a Jedi Consular squaring off against an Imperial Agent. The Agent is a good long-range class, but the Jedi Consular can throw immense rocks from a distance to help even the odds. The video should help you get a better idea of what class you want to play as, as well as show off some of the in-game battles and story aspects.

Star Wars: The Old Republic launches on December 20th for the PC.


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New Graphene Discovery Could Lead to New Encoding Method

Posted: December 5, 2011 @ time: 01:18PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

In 2005 researchers discovered a combination of carbon and calcium is a superconductor at 11.5 K. Researchers at the London Center for Nanotechnology, a partnership of University College London and Imperial College London, have been continuing research into this combination.

When passing calcium atoms beneath a sheet of graphene, a single-atom thick sheet of carbon, the new electrons were reacting not as expected. The anticipation was for the electrons to spread out evenly, but instead they formed charge density waves. Under an electron microscope, the waves appeared as stripes on the graphene, and they could be used for storing data. For example, vertical stripes could represent a 0 while horizontal stripes represent a 1. Regardless of how they may be used, researchers have been investigating possibilities with stripes and are very pleased to find them in the two-dimensional plane of graphene.


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Rumored Wii U Specs Turning Heads

Posted: December 5, 2011 @ time: 02:30PM
Author: F13Bubba

Out of the big three console makers, Nintendo was the first company to announce a next-gen console, the Wii U, back in April. The company also had a prototype showcased at E3 in June, but we didn't know much about the system specifications; until now. Specifications for the next generation Nintendo console were supposedly leaked to Wii U daily, and if the source turns out to be correct, we'll have another console war on our hands. The first thing about the new console that jumps out is the processor; an IBM made quad-core PowerPC processor running at 3GHz, a chip that is "very similar" to the 3.2GHz processor you find in the Xbox 360. Other points of interest include 768MB of eDRAM, which is built onto the same die as the CPU, and an unknown 40-nm GPU, supplied by AMD. All of this is very interesting, but a few details jump out for the wrong reasons. For instance, IBM has previously hinted that the Wii U would utilize a Power7 variant of its Power processor architecture, and not a PowerPC chip as stated in the specs. There is, however, a Power7 chip that runs at 3-Ghz, so the article may have had a typo or misprint. There is also an issue with the memory listed, mainly that eDRAM is extremely expensive, and would beef up the size of the console considerably. As an example, the Xbox 360 has 10MB of eDRAM, and the Wii has 3, so it is more likely that the 768MB will be the main memory of the console, and have something closer to 32MB of eDRAM. In either case, a console running these specs would be considerably faster than the current offerings from Sony or Microsoft, so get ready for an interesting year for consoles.


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Lighting the Way to New Technologies

Posted: December 5, 2011 @ time: 02:52PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Researchers at MIT have devised a new way to measure the properties of a solid material. To understand how any material will interact with another one must understand how the electrons behave. Traditionally this is determined by shining a light onto the material to see how the electrons react at a specific point. To get information on the entire material, it is shifted slightly and the process repeats. This can take a very long time, which is why the MIT researchers were looking for something new.

Though electrons are single particles with a single charge, they do act like bar magnets and the direction of the 'magnet' is called spin. The new method takes advantage of that spin by shining a circularly polarized laser at the material. An electron’s spin determines in what direction it will drive and how fast it will move due to the laser. Pulsing the laser allows the researchers to determine, the energy, momentum and spin of the electrons it hit in three dimensions.

This technique was developed to analyze topological insulators but may impact far more. Topological insulators are curious material which conduct electricity on their surface, but are insulators inside. They have the potential to reduce the heat put out by electronics because their resistance is not greatly affected by impurities. Regular metals will see their resistances increase with impurities, and their resistance will cause the metal to heat up.

This technology could also be used to create a new kind electromagnetic storage where light is used to flip a bit, instead of an electronic interaction. The fact that light can selectively push away electrons of particular spins, leaving a current of other spins, can be very useful in the future. The potential for this new technique, like topological insulators, is still being discovered as researchers envision new futures.


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Battlefield 3's Next Patch Fixes a Little Bit of Everything

Posted: December 5, 2011 @ time: 02:59PM
Author: bp9801

EA and DICE keep on improving Battlefield 3, since every game is bound to have something that needs fixing. Sometimes a patch will fix one set of things, then expose some entirely new things that need to be patched. In the case of Battlefield 3, EA will soon issue a massive 2GB patch that fixes a little bit of everything. You will be able to change the color of the in-game HUD to something more visible (useful for the colorblind) and reassign cycle weapons, plus no longer die in some extreme cases, like running and vaulting over an obstacle into water. There are also plenty of tweaks and bugfixes, like moving of a tank spawn on the Caspian Border map so the tank is no longer destroyed when a tree falls on it. The Tactical Light has been tweaked so it no longer blinds you over a long range, AT mines now are active for 20 seconds after a player dies to avoid infinite mines, decreased accuracy for all weapons on fully automatic firing (burst fire is now more accurate), and an increased mortar reload time and travel time for the shells.

The full list of changes can be viewed at the source or on Battlelog if you own Battlefield 3, and the patch should hit around 8am GMT tomorrow morning.


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Making UV Light More Easily

Posted: December 5, 2011 @ time: 03:00PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Ultraviolet light gives you a tan, is used in the lithography process to produce many computer components, and cannot be seen by the human eye. It is also very hard to produce efficiently because of its small wavelength. To directly produce UV light would require the source is the size of the wavelength, which is just very hard to work with. Researchers at the University of Michigan have found a way to get around this requirement using a nonlinear process.

In optics, a nonlinear material is one which does not emit the same light that enters it. Instead it produces a different harmonic of light. Going up by one harmonic means if the source light is 800 nm (near-infrared), the resulting light would be 400 nm (violet). In this case the wavelength is actually a fourth, instead of a half. This allows a much simpler, more efficient, and cheaper infrared light source to be used to produce UV light.


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New Defense Grid DLC Features GLaDOS

Posted: December 5, 2011 @ time: 05:46PM
Author: bp9801

It seems GLaDOS has tired of Aperture Science and is moving on to a different environment to administer new tests. Defense Grid: The Awakening will be getting some new DLC called You Monster that features GLaDOS. There will be eight new maps and 35 challenge missions where GLaDOS will send wave of monsters at you while monitoring your progress. It will be interesting to see just what GLaDOS has in store for us in a tower defense game, but I am sure she has something devious cooking up. Nothing about GLaDOS says she has to play fair, so expect her to change the rules of Defense Grid at her discretion.

Defense Grid: You Monster launches on December 7th.


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Trine 2 Release Date Announced - December 7th for the PC and Mac, Console Versions Later

Posted: December 5, 2011 @ time: 07:39PM
Author: bp9801

Trine released back in 2009 for the PC, Mac, PS3, and 360. It combined fantasy action with some great physics work, where you had control of three different characters to defeat both enemies and the environment. The challenges and puzzles required some thinking to solve, but you could approach them in any number of ways. Trine also sold pretty well and even won some awards, so you can bet a sequel was underway. Today, we learn that Trine 2 will release on December 7th for the PC and Mac, while PS3 and 360 gamers will have to wait until the 20th (PS3) and 21st (360). Trine 2 was supposed to have released earlier this year, but it kept being delayed. Now, it will soon be here, and just in time for the holidays too.

Trine 2 will cost $14.99 and releases on December 7th for the PC and Mac. The PS3 version will follow on December 20th with the 360 version on the 21st.


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Hardware Roundup: Tuesday Edition

Posted: December 6, 2011 @ time: 05:24AM
Author: Nemo

There are plenty of items to check out in today's roundup, so let's get started with the CM Storm Trooper full-tower chassis. Liquid cooling units are an easy way to introduce water cooling into your system design and today we get the opportunity to examine the EPIC 180 liquid cooler from Maingear. We also have a roundup of hybrid storage solutions that includes the Seagate Momentus XT 750GB. We have a couple of 16GB quad-channel memory kits from Geil and Patriot, a network storage device from IOCELL along with a water cooled GTX 580 video card from PNY to round out the mix today.

Cases
Cooler Master Storm Trooper Case @ TechSpot

Cooling
Maingear EPIC 180 Liquid CPU Cooler @ TweakTown

Gaming
Batman: Arkham City Gameplay Performance and IQ @ [H]ardOCP

Memory
GeIL EVO CORSA PC3-19200 16GB Kit @ TweakTown
Patriot Division 4 DDR3-1600 Quad Channel Memory @ Neoseeker

Storage/Hard Drives
Hybrid Storage Roundup: Seagate Momentus XT vs. OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid vs. Intel Z68 @ PC Perspective
IOCELL NetDISK 351UNE Network Storage Device @ Benchmark Reviews

Video
Liquid Cooling the PNY GeForce GTX 580 @ [H]ardOCP

Miscellany
The TR Podcast 101: Scott really hates the Kindle Fire @ Tech Report


Complete Story


Kepler-22b: The Newly-Discovered Planet that May Support Life

Posted: December 6, 2011 @ time: 06:17AM
Author: edwardquilo

A newfound planet called the Kepler-22b is an alien world that's almost like our own planet Earth. Confirmed by NASA's deep-space exploring Kepler spaceship and discovered by the Kepler space telescope, scientists believe the planet's surface lies close to an agreeable temperature of 72 degrees. Kepler-22b resides in the habitable zone of its host star, which makes it an ideal distance to support the existence of liquid water. While the Kepler-22b is 600 light years away and its radius 2.4 times bigger compared to Earth, its star bears a resemblance to our solar system's sun. "We're getting closer and closer to discovering the so-called 'Goldilocks' planet," says NASA director Pete Worden. Two promising planet discoveries were made previously, although these were later disputed, as both were eventually declared unfit for sustaining life. With the Kepler-22b's just-right temperatures though, this discovery marks an important step in what could be the confirmation of possible extra-terrestrial life. 


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Another Silicon Replacement Appears

Posted: December 6, 2011 @ time: 12:16PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Silicon has been at the heart of our electronics for decades, but all good things must come to an end. In the case of silicon, the end is well known though, as there are physical limits we cannot push past, without comprising the capability of the electronic we want to make. A commonly talked about replacement is graphene, a one-atom thick plane of carbon, but now another challenger is appearing; molybdenum disulfide or molybdenite. Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne has recently created a molybdenite based integrated circuit to prove it can surpass silicon.

While layers of silicon are limited to be no thinner than two nanometers thick (any smaller and it will oxidize), molybdenite can be just three atoms thick and still function in a chip. Molybdenite transistors can also be turned on and offer faster than silicon transistors, and allow for a more complete standby mode.

Increased performance at smaller scales while consuming less power; sounds pretty good. As with many new technologies though, they are more capable than some may first suspect. Molybdenite can also be used in flexible electronics and the material itself isn’t very uncommon in the Earth.


Complete Story


Good Old Games Massive Holiday Sale Nearly Upon Us

Posted: December 6, 2011 @ time: 01:57PM
Author: bp9801

Good Old Games has quite the selection of classic game titles, plus it will start to offer some newer ones as well. This is the holiday season though, and that means it is time for some holiday sales. GOG.com's holiday sale is nearly here, and to kick things off, it will be offering The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings at 40% off. GOG will also throw in a copy of The Witcher: Enhanced Edition at no extra cost, so this is a good time to try out one of the best RPG series around. That sale will only last for 48 hours starting on Thursday, December 8th, but then on Saturday the 10th, GOG.com will be offering game codes for a variety of games. Masters of Orion I + II and Realms of Arkania I + II are the main ones, plus there will be codes for other games up for grabs. All you need to do to get a code is follow GOG.com on Facebook or Twitter, or be signed up at the site's forums. Monday, December 12th, will have Empire Earth: Gold Edition be given away for free to anyone who adds it to their cart until Wednesday, December 14th. Monday will also have nearly every game on GOG.com drop in price by 50% until January 2nd, 2012. All in all, this sounds like a great way to pick up some classic games for a cheap price this holiday season.


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Rabbit in the Fog

Posted: December 6, 2011 @ time: 01:58PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Researchers at Osaka University have developed a 3D projection system that you can walk around and even pet. Projectors shine images onto a stream of fog, as the water mist scatters the light, allowing us to see a rabbit floating in the air. Of course, a 3D-virtual-floating-purple rabbit isn’t enough for the Japanese, so the researchers integrated an IR system so users can interact with the projection, provided they are wearing IR lights.

 

The hope is to use this technology in medicine by showing patients organs as the doctor explains what they will be doing.


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Bethesda Aware of Issue Some PS3 Gamers Experience with Skyrim

Posted: December 6, 2011 @ time: 03:07PM
Author: bp9801

The latest patch for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim hit consoles and PC last week, but it seems the problems some PS3 gamers are having still were not fixed. Namely, the PS3 version of Skyrim can suffer from some pretty horrible framerate lag, which can drop all the way down to zero to render the game unplayable. This is a major problem for any PS3 gamer with the issue, because they cannot play the game once that happens. The issue seems to stem from numerous save files over a long playthrough, say the 50 hour plus range, and the PS3's smaller memory size. The issue could affect 360 and PC Skyrim players as well, but the PS3 has a lot less memory than either of the other two platforms. Bethesda has updated its blog post saying it is aware of the issue and has contacted some PS3 gamers to get a better understanding of the problem. The upcoming 1.3 patch is too far along in development to address it, but future patches will, hopefully, alleviate the problem for PS3 gamers.


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Graphene to Pick Up Brain Signals

Posted: December 6, 2011 @ time: 03:08PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Many people, from science fiction writers and readers, to actual scientists and medical doctors, are interested in seeing electronics that are compatible with living organisms. One reason for the interest is to integrate prosthetics into a person’s nervous system, to enhance control. Researchers at Technische Universitaet Muenchen have recently published the results of an experiment with graphene.

Graphene is effectively a two-dimensional piece of carbon with extraordinary properties. Using vapor deposition and standard etching processes, the researchers were able to make 16 graphene solution-gate field-effect transistors on copper foil. The current through these transistors is affected by their environment, so signals between brain cells can be detected.

The experiment was only a proof of concept, so we cannot expect cyborgs on the street yet, but there is great promise in this technology. Already its performance is comparable to that of ultra-low noise silicon devices, which have the benefit of decades of development. The next steps will be to improve the noise performance further and to get this technology working on other substrates, such as those already used in implants.


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Cooler Master Releases Mobile Accessories

Posted: December 6, 2011 @ time: 04:14PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Cooler Master is broadening its reach into a new market, mobile accessories, to go along with current markets such as cases and cooling. The Wake Up Folio is a cover for the iPad 2, and will protect both the screen and the case from scratches and other marks. Closing the cover will also put the iPad to sleep, providing an interesting power saving feature. The Wave Stand is an aluminum stand able to accommodate a multitude of tablets for a variety of viewing angles. The Power Fort 5600mAh is a mobile battery pack that can be charged through a USB connection. The Power Fort will then be able to charge your smartphone or tablet while on the go when you find yourself unable to get to a wall outlet. All of these accessories are available for purchase at the Cooler Master online store.


Complete Story


Violent Games Affect Brain Function

Posted: December 6, 2011 @ time: 04:20PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Before getting to the news, this research does not really come down on either side of the ‘Are video games bad for kids?’ debate.

Researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine have recently released their findings into how violent video games can affect a young man’s brain. Starting with 28 men, aged 18-29, who had little exposure to violent video games, two groups of 14 were formed. One group served as the control and did not play video games for two weeks, while the others played a shooting game for 10 hours at home for one week, and did not play the next week. Before the experiment began, and after one and two weeks had passed, the researchers performed fMRI scans on the men to measure the activation of certain areas of the brain.

The men who had played the video games for a week had shown reduced activation in parts of the brain linked to emotional control and aggressive behavior. This was found after the week of gaming, but the exam the following week showed activation levels returning to those of the control group, though still not the same.

This indicates there is a long-term effect on brain functions by violent video games. However, this research does not explicitly link violent behavior to video games. Continued gaming could possibly lead to behavioral changes, but such a conclusion is beyond this study.


Complete Story


Antec Offers USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 Connector

Posted: December 6, 2011 @ time: 04:25PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Antec has announced that users that have purchased a P280 or Eleven Hundred series case that don't have a need for USB 3.0 are in luck. Antec will provide an internal USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 connector free of charge to those that find themselves with a motherboard that doesn't support the latest generation of USB. This will allow those users to take advantage of the two USB 3.0 ports found on the case itself. The connector can be obtained by contacting Antec support through the website or by calling 1-800-22ANTEC in the US. Users need only to provide proof of purchase for either case to receive the connector.


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New Xbox 360 Dashboard Update Launching in Next Few Hours

Posted: December 6, 2011 @ time: 05:19PM
Author: bp9801

I know some of the Xbox 360 owners out there have been waiting for the latest dashboard update to hit, but it looks like it will miss today's scheduled launch. Early this morning, Xbox Live's Major Nelson announced the new Xbox 360 dashboard update has been "slightly delayed," with an announcement coming later concerning the launch. A little bit ago, Major Nelson announced the update should be rolling out to the first batch of Xbox Live members over the next few hours, so it seems the delay was not that long of one. This update, in case you need a reminder, will add a heavy dose of Metro styling to the Xbox 360 dashboard, making it look similar to Windows Phone 7. There are always a wealth of new features included in every new dashboard update, but some of the services (Verizon and Xfinity) have been pushed back to a later date. Hopefully with the new dashboard now starting to roll out, we should see more updates concerning the status of those services.


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MLG 2011 Pro Circuit is Biggest Season in E-Sports History

Posted: December 6, 2011 @ time: 06:36PM
Author: bp9801

The 2011 Pro Circuit has just finished for Major League Gaming, and with it comes some good news. MLG has announced it had more than 3.5 million unique stream viewers, setting the record for the most viewers in an e-sports season. The championships were held the weekend of November 18th, in Providence, Rhode Island, and there was an all-time high of 241,000 peak concurrent online viewers. That included fans from 175 countries, which is yet another e-sports record. You can view some more stats in the included picture, but some of the highlights include: an average watch time of over three hours per visitor, 20,000 in-person spectators at the event in Anaheim, California, and more male viewers ages 18 to 24 than several TV networks in an average quarter hour. Overall, those are some pretty nice numbers for MLG, and just shows how e-sports are growing in the United States.


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LG Unveils Xnote Z330 13.3" Ultrabook

Posted: December 7, 2011 @ time: 04:47AM
Author: premiumgfx

LG has unveiled the thinnest ultrabook in its line-up dubbed the Xnote Z330. The new ultrabook packs in a Core i5 (1.6GHz) or Core i7 (1.7Ghz) processor, 4GB of RAM and a 120GB or 256GB SSD for storage. This hardware coupled with LG's "Rapid Start Technology" enables a 10 second boot time on Windows 7. The Xnote Z330 also features Intel HD graphics displayed by a 13.3" High Definition LED screen. Connectivity is covered by Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, along with USB 3.0 and HDMI out ports. The LG Xnote Z330 measures 315x215x14.7mm, weighs in at 1.2kg and has a rated battery life of six hours. LG did not release details regarding the availability or pricing of the Xnote Z330.


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Hardware Roundup: Wednesday Edition

Posted: December 7, 2011 @ time: 06:16AM
Author: Nemo

If you're looking to complete your Christmas wish list, we have a couple of articles that might be of interest to you. First up is an article covering three of the favorite cases from 2011. We also have a Christmas 2011 system guide for you to read. In video, we get another shot at the Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 DiRT 3 Special Edition video card. In addition, today's roundup includes a pair of power supplies, a review of the ROCCAT Kova+ Max Performance gaming mouse and more.

Cases
The Best Cases of 2011 @ ThinkComputers

Input Devices
ROCCAT Kova+ Max Performance Gaming Mouse @ TweakTown

Power Supplies
SilverStone Nightjar ST50NF Power Supply @ [H]ardOCP
XFX ProSeries 1000W Power Supply @ TweakTown

Video
Sapphire HD6870 @ Bjorn3D

Miscellany
The Five Stages of Griefing: Death of the Consoles @ PC Pespective
SteelSeries Desmo Digital Eyewear @ Benchmark Reviews
TR's Christmas 2011 system guide @ Tech Report


Complete Story


Crowd-sourcing Optimizing Software Developed

Posted: December 7, 2011 @ time: 12:23PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Crowd-sourcing is a technique for information gathering and discovery that has really evolved as Internet connectivity has increased. Sites like Wikipedia rely on it to provide the information others look for, but just because it is being used by many, does not mean it is being used as well as it could be.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University have developed software to optimize the information gathered from crowd-sourcing. When information is posted on a site, someone on the site’s staff have to check it to make sure the information is valid and not offensive. This task can become extremely difficult and tedious as more information comes in. The software has the ability to recognize which sources provide the best information and which are lacking. When the information is lacking, questionable, or inappropriate, the appropriate moderator can be automatically alerted to check it or improve it.


Complete Story


Improved Insulation Invented

Posted: December 7, 2011 @ time: 06:32PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

For half the world temperatures are falling as we move deeper into the winter season. Keeping warm for many of us means turning the heater up (or starting another folding client), but this is not as economical as it could be. For smaller heating bills, homeowners can have insulation added to their house for a onetime cost, but the method is not ideal for some. Using 15 cm of polyurethane foam is not very practical when the building was not built with such an addition in mind. This can require putting a façade on the building which would then require deeper windows sills and possibly extended roofs.

There is another insulation method which could be used, but the current version is quite expensive. Luckily researchers at Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft have developed a cheaper though still affective form of vacuum isolation panels (VIP). Just 2 cm of their VIP is as good at insulating a structure as the 15 cm of foam. Traditional VIP insulation requires expensive films to make the product air tight, but the newly developed film used by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is both cheaper and faster to produce.

Future research will be to simplify the production process further and test the VIP’s lifespan. After all, no one would want the insulation on their house to fail. The films used and production processes involved have already been patented and the market price of the insulation can be expected to drop as production increases.


Complete Story


Thecus Unveils Value Line of NAS

Posted: December 7, 2011 @ time: 06:35PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Thecus has announced that it will be releasing the V line, short for value, of Network Attached Storage (NAS) systems. This new line aims to give users a choice between power and value, allowing for different systems for different situations. The V line will continue to feature Intel processors and the NAS software developed by Thecus for its other products. The N8900V provides an eight port NAS with an Intel G620 processor. The N12000V and N16000V feature quite a bit more power in the form of an Intel Xeon E3-1225 Quad Core processor. These systems will also feature a SAS controller, USB 3.0, 10Gb Ethernet, and even HDMI support. An impressive array of software will provide even more utility, especially for the enterprise user.


Complete Story


Wax and Acid to Heat a Home

Posted: December 7, 2011 @ time: 06:47PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

For people living in areas with little power, or families too poor to afford fuel, cold nights can be both common and uncomfortable. Researchers at Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering and Technology in Chittoor India have devised a novel way to heat these homes after dark. The method takes advantage of materials changing phase, as materials melt when they absorb energy and solidify when they release it.

Using a mixture of paraffin wax and stearic acid, the researchers created beads which will melt under the sun and freeze at night. This material should be able to help homes stay warm without requiring the burning of wood or fossil fuels. Altering the proportions of the wax and acid can keep costs down in India where the wax is much more expensive than the acid.


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