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News Archives for May 2012

Hardware Roundup: Tuesday Edition

Posted: May 1, 2012 @ time: 05:52AM
Author: Nemo

We have a couple of cooling items in the roundup today. We'll start off by looking at the Noctua NH-L12 low profile heatsink that is only 93mm tall, counting the top-mounted 120mm NF-F12 PWM fan fan. We also have an installation guide to the Thermaltake Frio OCK CPU cooler. The CM Storm Trigger is another mechanical keyboard from Cooler Master, and this one sports full red back lighting, macro keys and more. We have a look at Gigabyte's X79-UD3 socket 2011 motherboard, the Thermaltake Smart M650w power supply and the Gainward GeForce GTX 680 Phantom to round things out.

Cooling
Noctua NH-L12 Low Profile Heatsink @ Frostytech
How To: Install the Thermaltake Frio OCK CPU Cooler @ ThinkComputers
UPDATED - Top 5 Heatsink Chart on Frostytech @ Frostytech

Input Devices
Cooler Master Storm Trigger @ LanOC Reviews

Motherboards
Gigabyte X79-UD3 Motherboard @ Madshrimps

Power Supplies
Thermaltake Smart M650w @ XSReviews

Video
Gainward GeForce GTX 680 Phantom @ TechSpot


Complete Story


Sunlight to Treat and Prevent Heart Attacks

Posted: May 1, 2012 @ time: 10:19AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

With high-fat foods and a general lack of exercise, more and more people are likely to suffer a heart attack in the United States. Of course keeping a better diet and even a moderate amount of exercise can keep us healthy, but if a heart attack still occurs, what can be done to minimize damage? According to researchers at the University of Colorado, Denver, the patient can be exposed to sunlight, or other intense light sources, to keep the damage as minimal as possible.

What does sunlight have to do with heart attacks? Nothing directly, but with a trip through the circadian rhythm, it has a lot to do with the heart. The circadian rhythm is a link between the body and time of day. Certain processes occur only when the sun is out and others only at night. The researchers discovered that one of the proteins activated by sunlight, called Period 2, is crucial to minimizing the damage of a heart attack. During the attack, the heart stops receiving oxygen, which it normally uses for fuel. To survive, the heart transfers over to using glucose for fuel, and the faster this happens, the less damage there will be. Period 2 is needed for this change to happen and so because sunlight activates the protein, it can save the heart, and the patient, during a heart attack.

The next steps in this research will be to better understand the link between light and heart metabolism, as well as determining how light may be best used to treat patients. For example, how much light is needed and can light from bulbs work in place of sunlight.


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Grim Dawn Closer to Kickstarter Goal - 17 Days Remaining to Reach It

Posted: May 1, 2012 @ time: 11:29AM
Author: bp9801

The Kickstarter page for Grim Dawn keeps rolling along, with the team a little shy of $230,000. Crate Entertainment has set a goal of $280,000, and with 17 days remaining, you will have time to support the game. The reward tiers for supporting have been expanded, so now there are even more options depending on how much you can donate. At first there was a co-op reward tier for the smallest donation, but Crate has added co-op tiers for the Digital Collector's Bundle and Digital Deluxe Edition (plus an Early Access Edition for $35 and higher). The co-op for the Collector's Bundle starts at $64, where you receive everything in the bundle plus an extra copy of Grim Dawn. The Digital Deluxe co-op starts at $98 and also includes an extra copy. This way you can still get the reward tier you want and give an extra copy to a friend or family member.

On Reddit today, Crate Entertainment developer Arthur Bruno is hosting a Q&A session where everyone is welcome to ask him whatever they want. Bruno goes by the name Medierra on the Grim Dawn forums (and Reddit), and this is a great opportunity to find out more information on the game, development in general, or anything else you may want to ask. If nothing else, reading all the responses should give you a good idea on what to expect when Grim Dawn launches. There is still time to visit the Kickstarter and donate, so get out there and support the independent studios!


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Integrated Circuit Produces Entangled Photon Pairs

Posted: May 1, 2012 @ time: 11:45AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Quantum computers represent the ultimate future of computers and come in many flavors. All quantum computers rely on using quantum particles, but the specific particle used can vary from ions to photons. Researchers at the University of Toronto have made a very big step in bringing optical quantum computers not only to reality but to the public.

Complex optical tools are needed for optical quantum computers because pairs of photons have to be entangled. These tools are large and require specialized lab equipment such as optical tables that dampen vibrations from the environment. What the researchers created is an integrated circuit with the ability to create entangled photons. This will minimize the effect of vibrations and brings the size down to something that could be found in a home.

Another important factor of this design is its ability to connect to other components needed for an optical quantum computer. Eventually we may find all of the optical equipment needed for such a computer built into a single chip. While such an achievement is still in the future, it is considerably closer to the present than it was.


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Bethesda Teases Dawnguard - First DLC for Skyrim

Posted: May 1, 2012 @ time: 01:30PM
Author: bp9801

The folks over at Bethesda have finally revealed some information on the new The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim DLC. An image has appeared on the Bethesda Blog introducing Dawnguard, the first DLC for Skyrim. There is not a whole lot else posted with the image other than saying it will arrive for the Xbox 360 this summer and more information will be revealed at E3. If you recall, Bethesda previously said the first two DLC for Skyrim will be Xbox 360-exclusive for a month each, so if Dawnguard arrives in the middle of June then PC and PS3 gamers should expect it in the middle of July. As for the image, well, you can check it out below to see the Nord's glowing red eyes. Dawnguard could be a return of the Mythic Dawn from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, especially since the town of Dawnstar has a questline about the cult. E3 2012 occurs June 5th through the 7th, so we have just about a month remaining for some concrete information.


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One Material, Many Nanolaser Colors

Posted: May 1, 2012 @ time: 01:54PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Since they were first made, lasers have been growing in use and capability. They have also been growing smaller, from large gas-based devices that fill an optical table down to semiconductor diodes inside of optical drives and laser pointers. Making different colored lasers and making them smaller is very difficult though because only certain materials will produce a certain light. Now researchers at Brown University have discovered a material that can be grown to produce any visible color.

The material is used to create quantum dots, designer nanocrystals, of different sizes. The size of the dots determines what color light they produce, with 4.2 nm creating red light, 3.2 nm corresponding to green light, and 2.5 nm produces blue light. Varying the production time of the nanocrystals controls the size the dots grow to.

The solution the quantum dots are made in is similar in viscosity to nail polish, and the researchers spread it onto a piece of glass. The solution evaporates to leave the dots in a highly ordered pattern on the glass, which is then sandwiched between two mirrors. This creates a Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Laser (VCSEL) that uses as much as 1000 times less power than similar lasers.

The researchers believe this can be used to make advanced displays with relatively little cost. This is because it is the same process to make the different color pixels. Also a multitude of shapes can be made into displays with this technology, because the quantum dots just need to be painted onto the surface and then the mirrors placed around them.


Complete Story


Hackers Behind Mac Flashback Made Thousands Per Day

Posted: May 1, 2012 @ time: 05:33PM
Author: CheeseMan42

According to Symantec, the group behind the Mac Flashback malware was making roughly $10,000 per day through the use of the botnet created by the malware. The botnet had spread to nearly 700,000 computers at its peak, and those computers were generating revenue for those in control of the system. The Mac Flashback exploit was loaded into Chrome, Firefox, and Safari and targeted searches done through Google. The malware allowed the search to be hijacked and redirected to a different page, depriving Google of the ad revenue and instead putting it into the pockets of the hackers. Symantec also noted that Apple had a particularly slow response time in fixing the exploit, waiting nearly two months after the fix had been issued by Oracle to release it to users.


Complete Story


Blizzard Announces Fees for Diablo 3 Auction House

Posted: May 1, 2012 @ time: 06:06PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Blizzard has finally announced the fees that will be associated with the in-game auction house in the upcoming RPG Diablo 3. Items such as armor, weapons, and accessories will be charged a flat fee of $1 per transaction while items such as gems and gold will net Blizzard 15% of the transaction, but only if they are sold through the real money auction house. A 15% fee will also be applied to all items in the gold only auction house, a move that may help to stem in-game inflation. If you want to transfer the money to a service such as Paypal, that will add on another 15%, in addition to any Paypal fees. Money used from the account to purchase other Blizzard items will not be subject to this tax. Each auction will only be open for 48 hours, and will carry a maximum sale price of $250.


Complete Story


Reducing LED Droop by Changing Crystal Orientation

Posted: May 1, 2012 @ time: 06:23PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Many people have high hopes for LEDs being a replacement for traditional incandescent light bulbs. This is because the power applied to LEDs is almost completely put to generating light, while the power for light bulbs goes to both light and waste heat. Unfortunately, LEDs droop in efficiency at the high currents needed for lighting homes. Researchers in California and Japan though appear to have found a solution and are reporting their results at the Optical Society of America’s Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO).

The exact reason for the efficiency droop is still debated but this did not deter the researchers from working on one theory. The semiconductors in LEDs are constructed by sandwiching together flat layers and it is possible that this orientation creates electric fields that inhibit the emission of light. The researchers tilted the crystal structure of the semiconducting layer to disrupt the electric fields. This resulted in LEDs with some of the lowest measured efficiency droops recorded.

Another benefit to this change in structure is a reduced size to the LED. This could lead to reduced manufacturing costs for the LEDs, which is important because the substrate used for these LEDs is fairly expensive. Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara are working on ways to bulk produce the substrate, which should help reduce costs.


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Crytek Reneges on Used Games Comment

Posted: May 1, 2012 @ time: 07:56PM
Author: bp9801

Remember the other day when Crytek's director of creative development said next-gen consoles that could block used games is "awesome"? Well now the director is reneging his previous comments to hopefully avoid further backlash. Rasmus Hoejengard has said his opinions do not reflect those of Crytek at large and "was not intended to be taken seriously." This sounds like disaster control mode to smooth things over so soon after the reveal of Crysis 3, and hopefully Hoejengard avoids further complications, serious or not. Used game sales are a hot topic right now, especially in light of the rumors that Sony and Microsoft will block used games in the next-gen systems. Some developers are against used games so it would make sense for the next consoles to block them, but I imagine Sony and Microsoft would risk alienating retailers, other developers, and gamers if the technology is included.


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Hardware Roundup: Wednesday Edition

Posted: May 2, 2012 @ time: 05:14AM
Author: Nemo

We have an interesting mix of hardware items in the roundup today ranging from cases to video cards so let's start in the middle and see what we have. SilverStone leads off the lineup with a review of its Nightjar ST50NF 500W fanless power supply for those looking to built a truly quiet home theater PC. Many HTPCs are built in small form factor cases where space is at a premium and can make good useof a low-profile CPU cooler such as the Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme which uses a traditional Zalman flower design that incorporate twin heatpipes. Antec's venerable Three Hundred chassis gets an upgrade and reappears as the Three Hundred Two mid-tower case. Creative has released its new flagship sound card in the form of the Recon3D Fatal1ty and we have a review that thoroughly exams its performance. We also have another look at the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690  video card along with a review of the Lenovo C325 all-in-one PC.

Cases
Antec Three Hundred Two Mid-Tower Case @ Madshrimps

Cooling
Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme Low Profile Heatsink @ Frostytech

Power Supplies
SilverStone Nightjar ST50NF 500W Fanless Power Supply @ PC Perspective

Prebuilts
Lenovo C325 All-in-One PC @ ThinkComputers

Sound Cards
Sound Blaster Recon3D Fatal1ty Sound Card @  [H]ardOCP

Video
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 Video Card Features @ Benchmark Reviews


Complete Story


Defeating Side-Channel Attacks

Posted: May 2, 2012 @ time: 10:21AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

There is an ongoing war in the computing world between the hackers and security researchers. The researchers make a new defense and the hackers create a new offense in response. The battle goes back and forth, always creating new and clever ideas. For example, side-channel attacks which indirectly steal information from a system.

While the ultimate goal of a hacker is to compromise the information on someone’s computer, there are built in systems that prevent this. For example, modern operating systems do not allow one program to access the memory storage of another. Side-channel attacks get around that defense though by taking advantage of it. Instead of trying to access the memory reserved for other programs, a side-channel attack constantly loads its own information into memory and records how long it takes. These data allow the hacker to infer what other programs are doing on the machine. Some side-channel attacks actually monitor the power draw of systems to determine the same information.

Researchers at MIT have devised a clever way to obscure what a program is doing by using multiple encryption methods. Instead of having a program just run a computation and output the results, the researchers break the computation up into smaller modules. The data passed to the first module is processed and encrypted, before being sent to the next module. The second module processes its input but does not decrypt the data. It also adds its own layer of encryption, but the final output is actually the unencrypted results of the original computation. Remember, side-channel attacks do not actually view the results of a computation, so the unencrypted output is still safe. The purpose of the encryption is to add a layer of processing which masks what is happening from the side-channel attack.

For the normal computer, this kind of protection is not greatly needed, but with cloud computing growing in popularity, it may be necessary for protection.


Complete Story


Check Out How to Use the Steam Workshop for Portal 2

Posted: May 2, 2012 @ time: 10:22AM
Author: bp9801

It was just last Friday when the Portal 2 Perpetual Testing Initiative DLC trailer appeared, which featured Cave Johnson discussing what we can do to help Aperture. The PTI DLC features an easy-to-use level editor where anyone can create as many intricate (or diabolic) puzzles as they wish and then upload them to the Steam Workshop. Once on the Steam Workshop, any Portal 2 owner can download and try out your level(s), so this is a good way to show off your creativity. Recently, a video showing how to use the Steam Workshop for Portal 2 was released, and it covers all the details you want to know. You can see how to find maps, download them, and even rate them once you finish. Cave Johnson is featured in the video, although his dialog appears to jump in randomly during the levels. Hopefully that is just a bug of the beta version and is not representative of the final product.

The Portal 2 Perpetual Testing Initiative DLC will launch on May 8th for the PC and Mac. There is no cost to download, so remember to refresh Steam if the download does not start next Tuesday.


Complete Story


Are Robots Responsible for Mistakes?

Posted: May 2, 2012 @ time: 10:24AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Robots are becoming more common in the world. Some day we may see them in our homes, cooking and cleaning, but right now we find them on the battlefield going into dangerous situations instead of a living human. What happens if an error or technology glitch occurs, causing the robot to hurt somebody? Can the machine be held responsible for the results of malfunctions? Apparently a robot can be.

Researchers at the University of Washington used a robot to track people as they try to complete a scavenger hunt. If the person finds at least seven items on the list, and points them out to the robot, they get $20. However, the robot would tell them they only found five items, and thus do not win the award. Even though it is a machine, the subjects would actually argue with the robot about how many items they found.

The researchers explain that as robots become more human-like, with the ability to hear and respond to a real person, people start assigning human qualities to them. Some 65% of the subjects blamed the robot for the miscount, to some degree. If something was to go wrong and robots were to hurt humans, how much blame can be put onto the machine? That is what the researchers urge others to consider as robot warriors are used more and more in real combat.


Complete Story


ODAC Digital to Analog Converter Available Soon

Posted: May 2, 2012 @ time: 03:32PM
Author: CheeseMan42

In the past few months, I have become increasingly interested in high quality sound equipment that could be hooked up to my PC to enhance sound quality. Most of my searching took me to expensive headphones, amplifiers, and DACs. After listening to the audio setup of the Sennheiser booth at CES, I became even more interested. I stumbled upon the Objective2 headphone amplifier created by NwAvGuy and shortly after that found that he was hard at work on the Objective DAC. The design for the ODAC was finished last month, and according to retailer JDS Labs, it should be available sometime this month. The blog post features extensive testing information that compares the O2 and ODAC to units that cost several times as much, and the performance of the cheaper devices is extremely close to the more expensive alternatives. JDS Labs is only one retailer that will carry the device, and it will have three options of ODAC available for purchase, an assembled PCB board, a standalone DAC, and a O2 and ODAC combo. If you want to learn more about quality audio equipment or just want to share your collection, join the discussion in the forums.


Complete Story


Using Supercomputers to Improve Fuel Efficiency

Posted: May 2, 2012 @ time: 03:52PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee are about to get a very large and powerful present, an update to the Jaguar supercomputer. The new system will be called Titan and it will be twice as powerful as the current fastest supercomputer, the K computer in Japan. Researchers are hoping to tackle a number of significant problems, including improving the efficiency of the internal combustion engine. Theses devices were developed more than 100 years ago and are extremely inefficient, losing energy to heat and utilizing less than one third of available energy. This means that you are getting far less from that gallon of gas that goes into your car than you could. Researchers like Jacqueline Chen are already using the Jaguar supercomputer to run their simulations and calculations, but even the 3.3 petaflop supercomputer struggles with the complexity. With the upgraded 20 petaflop capacity of Titan, research into alternative fuels and new engine technologies could produce long lasting impacts on the way we use energy.


Complete Story


No E3 Announcement from Valve this Year

Posted: May 2, 2012 @ time: 04:07PM
Author: bp9801

In an expected move, Gabe Newell has stated there will be no announcement from Valve at E3 this year. Unlike last year where Valve did not attend E3, the studio will be there to show off Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and the 10 foot UI for Steam. The first two are, of course, currently in beta testing on Steam, while the last will enable people using large HDTVs to easily read everything on Steam at a 10 foot distance. So there will not be any news on Half-Life 2: Episode Three, Half-Life 3, Portal 3, or Left 4 Dead 3 (notice a trend?), but Valve will be at E3 to present the known projects. Hopefully this means we will get a solid release date for Dota 2 and CS:GO (aside from sometime this summer). Still, I think some people may be disappointed by the lack of any major announcements at E3, but who is to say Gabe Newell and Valve do not change that stance?


Complete Story


Two Part Botnet Defense Developed

Posted: May 2, 2012 @ time: 04:40PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Botnets can be a serious problem as they maliciously spam people and attack parts of the Internet’s infrastructure. Researchers at Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI) in Mumbai, India have developed a method of detecting botnets and individual computers that have been infected.

This defense strategy has two parts, one that exists on individual computers and another that monitors an entire network. The smaller module uses heuristics to identify suspicious programs on the computer. Malware activity can be distinguished from legitimate programs in several ways, including speed, as software can perform operations faster than humans. When a potential bot is detected, the program notifies the network-scale monitor, which analyzes the data being sent to and from that machine to determine if the computer is indeed infected.

This two-step approach should be able to protect against many botnets, including some that have not yet been discovered, thanks to the heuristic monitoring. It also may cut down on the number of false positives current security methods have.


Complete Story


Refamiliarize Yourself with Agent 47 in Newest Hitman: Absolution Trailer

Posted: May 2, 2012 @ time: 06:07PM
Author: bp9801

When Hitman: Absolution launches later this year for PC, PS3, and 360, it will give us a deeper look into the psyche of Agent 47. Square Enix and IO Interactive would like everyone to remember just who Agent 47 is, especially considering the last Hitman game released in 2006, so today there is a new trailer giving us a chance to refamiliarize ourselves with Agent 47. The new Hitman: Absolution trailer shows some of the actions Agent 47 can perform as well as the type of world being built by IO Interactive. A brand-new game engine called Glacier 2 is powering Absolution and it is already looking great in the trailer below. Yes, it is all in-game footage so you get a good idea of how it will look. Agent 47 has not lost any if his abilities, although some of his moves are not exactly subtle. The trailer is not safe for work due to blood, violence, and language, so just be sure to keep the headphones handy.

NSFW


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MIT and Harvard Launch 'edX' Online Course Platform

Posted: May 2, 2012 @ time: 06:24PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Harvard University and MIT have recently launched a new online course platform called 'edX.' It has been designed with many purposes, from simply giving access to the universities caliber of instruction to the Internet community, to furthering education research for the betterment of all universities. The students of edX are not just students but may be subjects too (and there is nothing wrong with that).

Online classes are not exactly new, as universities across the country have been using them to either supplement their residential course or completely replace the classroom environment. From the point of view of these two universities though, the edX courses will only supplement their own, and will not give students course credit. However, it will be possible for an edX student to apply for certification. This certification will not be from MIT or Harvard, but will still prove a level of mastery has been achieved.

With the potential of thousands of students in a single class, the potential to study how people learn will not be wasted. Information will be gathered on how the courses are used and how the students interact, to potentially develop better teaching methods. These methods, after careful scrutiny, can then be tested on the students to see if they really do help the learning process.

MIT and Harvard invite other universities to join edX and to facilitate this are making the edX platform open source. This will allow anyone and everyone to modify the code to edX to either benefit the edX platform or to create something new. Regardless of what software changes the platform sees, and what partners join the program, this will undoubtedly be a major learning tool for thousands of people across Earth.

 


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Hardware Roundup: Thursday Edition

Posted: May 3, 2012 @ time: 04:12AM
Author: Nemo

Today's roundup finds us looking at a pair of mid-tower cases that both tout cooling ability as one of the main selling points. We'll look first at the Raidmax Seiran which comes in black, red and white and comes standard with a single 180mm side fan for only $64.99US. If your tastes are a bit more refined, for about $100 more the understated design of the Corsair Graphite Series 600T chassis may be more to your liking and it can also be had as the Special Edition White Graphite Series 600T. Moving on to video components, we have a review on the HIS Multi-View+Sound display adapter that allows you to connect an additional display via an HDMI connection. We also have a look at the Zalman CNPS10X Optima heatsink.

Cases
Corsair Graphite Series 600T Mid-Tower Case @ [H]ardOCP
Raidmax Seiran Mid Tower Case @ ThinkComputers

Cooling
Zalman CNPS10X Optima Heatsink @ Frostytech

Video
HIS Multi-View+Sound Adapter @ Madshrimps

Miscellany
Biggest Tech Failures of The Last 10+ Years @ TechSpot


Complete Story


Overclocked Sandy Bridge Runs Cooler Than Ivy Bridge CPUs

Posted: May 3, 2012 @ time: 04:28AM
Author: edwardquilo

Intel's Ivy Bridge lineup has been making headlines with its latest 22nm processors, but many people who overclocked these found the temperatures to be significantly hotter than last year's Sandy Bridge CPUs. This puts the new Ivy Bridge at a severe disadvantage as the cooler Sandy Bridge chips allow for better overclocking headroom. Intel has stated in a recent report that the Ivy Bridge's 22nm die shrink does increase thermal density, but adds that "this is as designed and meets quality and reliability expectations for parts operating under specified conditions." As such, overclocking enthusiasts itching to get their hands dirty with the latest Ivy Bridge CPUs might want to invest heavily on a great cooling setup or just delay buying until Intel comes up with a better batch on its next stepping.


Complete Story


Hardware Roundup: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 Edition

Posted: May 3, 2012 @ time: 07:49AM
Author: Nemo

NVIDIA teased us and then announced the GTX 690 dual-GPU video card at GeForce LAN in Shanghai last weekend and now the restrictions have been pulled from the review sites and we have all the latest performance numbers for you to examine. The GTX 690 featrures two GK104 GPUs at a base clock speed of 915MHz. The other numbers include 3072 CUDA cores, 64 ROPs, 128 Texture units, and 4GB of GDDR5 that connects via a 512-bit interface. That's all just a start, though as our OCC review checks out gaming and overclocking performance as well. Go ahead and enjoy the reviews. You know you want one!

NVIDIA GTX 690 @ OCC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 Launch @ Neoseeker
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 Review - Dual GK104 Kepler Greatness @ PC Perspective
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690: The Dual-GPU Beast Arrived! @ Bjorn3D
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 Benchmark Performance @ Benchmark Reviews


Complete Story


Folds and Wrinkles to Improve Solar Cell Efficiency

Posted: May 3, 2012 @ time: 09:03AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Though interest in solar panels is greatest now, solar absorbers have existed longer than man. Every leaf on a tree is the product of hundreds of millions of years of experimentation to find the best way to capture photons. Researchers at Princeton University, Engineering School are borrowing from the design of leafs and have made incredible advances in plastic photoelectric cells.

Plastic solar panels work just like silicon solar panels do but instead of using silicon they use plastics, or polymers. While these organic materials can be made more cheaply than silicon and are more resilient, they are not as efficient as the semiconductor. The Princeton researchers appear to have found a way to close the efficiency gap between the two materials by putting folds and wrinkles on the surface.

Just as on leafs, these surface features act as waveguides to the captured light. When light strikes a leaf or the new solar panels, instead of being either absorbed or reflected, it can become trapped until the cell can absorb it. This allowed the cell to reach 10.6% efficiency, which is not necessarily spectacular but is getting to the 10-15% efficiency range believed to be needed for commercial development. However the solar cell has able to absorb long wavelength light six times better than most other cells.

Perhaps the greatest discovery of this research is that it is not limited to plastic solar cells. These surface features should improve the efficiency of any solar cell they are imprinted on.


Complete Story


Rumors Say Microsoft Will Launch $99 Xbox 360 with Two-Year Contract

Posted: May 3, 2012 @ time: 09:56AM
Author: bp9801

Rumors are certainly a funny thing. They come in all shapes and sizes with varying degrees of actually coming true, but many of them are simply false. Typically when you hear "rumor" and "Microsoft" in the same sentence, you instantly think of the Next Xbox. This is not the case today, as the newest rumor pegs Microsoft as launching a $99 Xbox 360 on a two-year contract. The system would sell in Microsoft Stores and be a 4GB model with a bundled Kinet sensor, Xbox Live Gold, a two-year warranty, and potentially streaming content from cable or sports providers. A two-year contract is typically associated with a cell phone and not a game console, but I could see this one becoming true. There would be an early-termination fee as well, although the amount was not mentioned at this time.

Supposedly Microsoft will charge $15 a month for the subsidized 360, which comes out to $459 over the course of the two years. This is a little more than the cost of a 4GB console, Kinect sensor, and two years of Xbox Live Gold on its own ($420), so it will be interesting to see who goes for the two-year contract option.


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Working on Liquid Solar Cells

Posted: May 3, 2012 @ time: 10:40AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

When developing solar cells researchers and engineers have to strike a balance between efficiency, flexibility, and cost. Generally, the more efficient the material the less flexible and more expensive it is. The cheaper and more flexible the material the less efficient it is. These relationships are true for the time being, but researchers are hard at work to change them.

Researchers at the University of Southern California have been working on liquid solar cells and recently made an important discovery. Liquid solar cells are actually solutions of nanocrystals which produce electricity when light shines on them. These crystals can be made very cheaply and be painted onto any transparent material, like glass or plastic. The catch is the nanocrystals normally have organic ligands attached, to prevent them from sticking together in solution. These ligands resist the electric current produced by the crystals though.

To overcome the resistance of the organic ligands, the researchers developed synthetic ligands which still stabilize the solution but do not resist electricity as much. Liquid solar panels are still years away from being commercial products, but this is an important step towards realizing that future.


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Steam Adds Remote Download Function in Latest Beta; Full Launch Soon

Posted: May 3, 2012 @ time: 10:45AM
Author: bp9801

When Valve launched its mobile version of Steam, many people were wondering just when they could purchase a game and also have it start downloading on their computer. Currently you can purchase a game on mobile Steam, but then have to start the download on your computer. A little inconvienent if you wanted to start playing the game as soon as you got home, but that will soon change. Valve is launching a beta version of the remote download function, with a full version expected to launch soon. However, a little snafu rose where some users could not manage their downloads or even boot the games once downloaded. It sounds like Valve has corrected the issue, which means you can remotely manage your account from your phone or another computer. If you are at another computer, you will be able to start the download on your main system to be ready to play when you get home from work or school.


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The Elder Scrolls Online Confirmed - Set 1,000 Years Before Skyrim

Posted: May 3, 2012 @ time: 11:03AM
Author: bp9801

The rumors have finally been proven true after all these years, as The Elder Scrolls Online has been officially confirmed. ZeniMax Online will be handling the duties for the MMO and have been working on it for the last five years. The Elder Scrolls Online will be set 1,000 years before the events of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which should put it squarely in the Second Era of TES history. There will be three main factions in the MMO and you will be able to journey across all of Tamriel. That means you can see Skyrim, Morrowind, Elsweyr, Valenwood, High Rock, and all the other provinces, which makes The Elder Scrolls Online an impressively large MMO. The number of races you can play as is currently unknown, but hopefully that will be revealed shortly. The main enemy will be Molag Bal, who wishes to turn all of Tamriel into a terrible nightmare filled with daedra.

The Elder Scrolls Online is expected to launch in 2013, so MMO fans will have to wait a little while longer. Hopefully ZeniMax Online knows what it is doing and can deliver an MMO worthy of The Elder Scrolls name. Bethesda Game Studios is not working on the MMO, so it should be free to work on single player installments in the future. Feel free to discuss your thoughts in the comments below or in this thread.


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New Design Improves Thermoelectric Semiconductor

Posted: May 3, 2012 @ time: 11:18AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Many processes are imperfect and waste energy by generating unwanted heat. Car engines and electronics are two examples. As just improving efficiency is not always easy, researchers are working on thermoelectric materials that convert heat differences into electricity. Researchers at Boston College and MIT have recently found a way to significantly improve the efficiency of one of these materials.

Silicon germanium, SiGe, is a semiconducting alloy that has been used for its thermoelectric properties for years. Some NASA missions actually use it in their radioisotope thermoelectric generators. The researchers applied a technique used in the thin-film semiconductor industry called 3D modulation-doping strategy which increased electrical conductivity while decreasing thermal conductivity.

Ideally a thermoelectric material will conduct electricity well, but not heat. The reason heat cannot be allowed to flow well is because a temperature difference is needed to generate an electric current. If the heat is able to quickly diffuse through the material, there will no longer be a temperature difference.

While the increase in performance is important, the process also reduced the amount of germanium used in the alloy by 30%. Germanium is not cheap, so this kind of reduction helps make the thermoelectric material more economically viable.


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Notch Blasts EA's 'Indie' Bundle

Posted: May 3, 2012 @ time: 07:27PM
Author: bp9801

If you happen to load up Steam, you will no doubt see the EA Indie Bundle for sale. This bundle packages five games (and one expansion) for the low price of $21, which is 70% off the normal price. However, EA's use of the term "indie bundle" is causing some problems with members of the game industry, like Notch. Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson laments EA's usage of the "indie bundle" term by saying "EA is methodically destroying" the gaming industry. Notch sees indie games as saving the industry, and judging by how popular indie bundles are, he is on to something. Websites like Humble Bundle, Indie Royale, and Indie Gala offer unique indie games at a name your own price, which helps to get the word out about some otherwise unheard of games and helps support the developers. Notch makes it clear he has no problems with the games in EA's bundle, but says he has a problem with EA marketing it. This is not a way to raise money for a cause, but simply EA trying to cash in on the newest trend.


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Bringing Holograms to Videoconferencing

Posted: May 3, 2012 @ time: 07:28PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Videoconferencing is kind of cool. The ability to actually see the person you are talking to allows you to pick up on nonverbal cues and, for some people, is more comfortable than talking to a disembodied voice. Still, talking to a flat screen is not the same as talking to someone standing in the room, so researchers at Queen's University have created a cylindrical display system for projecting 3D holograms.

By using a 3D projector, acrylic cylinder, a convex mirror, and some Kinects, the researchers built the TeleHuman and BodiPod systems. TeleHuman is a videoconferencing system that creates a 3D image a person can walk around. If for some reason you want to see the other person’s back, just walk around the cylinder and see. The BodiPod system is for the display and manipulation of 3D human anatomy model. With gesture controls a user can peel away layers to the body while voice commands can be used to zoom in on specific organs.

 


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EA Wants Our Opinion on Origin

Posted: May 3, 2012 @ time: 09:52PM
Author: bp9801

EA is trying to do all it can to improve its image, especially in light of a recent consumer vote. Some of you may use EA's Origin service for certain games, like Mass Effect 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic, or Battlefield 3, but there are some problems with the service itself. Compared to Valve's Steam service, EA pales in the amount of features and support, but it seems EA is trying to fix that. EA is asking for user opinion on Origin and just what we would like to see change with the service. The publisher wants to know what your favorite feature of Origin is and also one thing that could be improved or added to make it better. You can post your comments on the EA Origin page, which is currently over 1,000 responses so far. EA will host a live question and answer session on May 8th at 10am PST and will provide instructions on how to RSVP. Now is your chance to tell EA your thoughts on Origin and hopefully see it improve.


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Hardware Roundup: Friday Edition

Posted: May 4, 2012 @ time: 03:28AM
Author: Nemo

The GeForce GTX 690 hit the review sites yesterday and we have a follow on review of the dual-GPU card today. We also have a pair of motherboards in the lineup that include a Gigabyte AM3+ board based on the FX990 chipset and an overview of the Intel DZ77GA-70K motherboard. The Raspberry Pi low-cost computing device was originally intended to kindle interest in programming among students, but at $35 this device has proved overwhelming popular amongst computer enthusiasts everywhere and we get an opportunity to look at it and set what it takes to set one up.

Motherboards
Gigabyte 990FXA-UD5 Motherboard @ Neoseeker
Intel DZ77GA-70K Motherboard Overview @ Benchmark Reviews

Prebuilts
Raspberry Pi Review & Initial How-To Setup Guide @ TechSpot

Storage/Hard Drives
Western Digital VelociRaptor 1TB Hard Drive @ Bjorn3D

Video
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 Dual GPU Video Card @ [H]ardOCP

Miscellany
Podcast #200 @ PC Perspective


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Company of Heroes 2 Set in WWII Russia

Posted: May 4, 2012 @ time: 04:44AM
Author: edwardquilo

Relic Entertainment's vicious World War II strategy game finally has a sequel in the works, Company of Heroes 2. The just-announced title puts keyboard commanders in the Eastern Front campaign of WW2, controlling Russian soldiers over snowy battlefields. Using an updated version of Relic's Essence 3 engine, the game's frigid weather actually adds a major element to the gameplay with the deep snow slowing down Soviet soldiers' progress on foot.

The Russian campaign promises to build upon the brutal elements of the original COH with more destructible environments and a line of sight system called "True Sight" - areas of a map turn grey as a fog of war prevents troops from seeing beyond the haze, enemies remain camouflaged in smoke, or camp out undetected in buildings. Company of Heroes 2 will also have a multiplayer component, and is scheduled for release sometime in 2013. 


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Old Phase Change Material May Become New Phase Change Memory

Posted: May 4, 2012 @ time: 08:00AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Phase change memory is an upcoming technology that may become the standard medium for solid state data storage. Researchers are still looking for what would be the best material to use, and they have to carefully balance cost with effectiveness. Now researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found that a phase change material we have been using for about twenty years could be considerably faster and last longer than modern Flash memory.

Germanium, antimony, and tellurium comprise an alloy called GST (antimony’s atomic symbol is Sb). This material is cheap to make and is actually used in rewritable optical media, such as CD-RW and DVD-RW disks. It is used in these media because when it changes phase its optical properties and electrical properties change too.

Despite its common use, researchers have not understood the mechanics of how the material changes phase. This is because the change takes place in just nanoseconds. The Johns Hopkins researchers were able to slow down the process and with what they learned, they believe GST could be used for phase change memory that will operate 100 times faster than Flash and sustain 100,000 rewrites.


Complete Story


View The Elder Scrolls Online Announcement Trailer

Posted: May 4, 2012 @ time: 03:30PM
Author: bp9801

Yesterday came a major reveal when ZeniMax Online took the wraps off of The Elder Scrolls Online. The world will finally get to experience The Elder Scrolls on a much larger scale in 2013, as all of Tamriel will be open to exploration. Today we have the official announcement trailer for The Elder Scrolls Online that sets up the story of the MMO. The narrator says the Imperial throne sits empty and the Dragonfires are unlit, which means Tamriel can fill into chaos. The trailer shows what look to be three metal dragons coming together to form a circle, which could signify the three factions that will appear in The Elder Scrolls Online. The folks over at Game Informer will be revealing more information throughout the month, and today have the game's first screenshot.

In the screenshot, a couple of characters are fighting a pair of storm atronachs. Storm atronachs are powerful daedra that are immune to normal weapons and shock magic, resistant to poison, can reflect spells back at you, and generally like to ruin your day. The two characters fighting the atronachs look to be a warrior and mage, but the warrior appears to be wielding an Akaviri sword. Now, the Akaviri and people of Tamriel have long had a general dislike, with the Akaviri launching some invasions into Tamriel and Tamriel invading Akavir at least once. The Elder Scrolls Online should be set in the Second Era, which could be around 2E 431 when Tamriel's Emperor Potentate Savirien-Chokah was assassinated. This would certainly coincide with the narrator in the announcement trailer, but it could just be some conjecture on my part. Still, it will be interesting to see just how far off I am once Game Informer reveals more information.


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Record Breaking All-Optical Switch Made

Posted: May 4, 2012 @ time: 03:38PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Photonics are a kind of technology that uses photons, the quanta of light, as electronics uses electrons. As photons travel at the Universe’s speed limit and do not need a medium to move, photonics can perform operations very quickly while using little power. Several components will have to be made and/or improved before we can see photonic computers on the market. Researchers at the Joint Quantum Institute, University of Maryland, and NIST have recently made an exceptional optical switch that could potentially lead to photonic transistors.

This switch holds a quantum dot in a resonant cavity which is contained in a waveguide that blocks all but a small frequency range of light. The researchers were able to direct the movement of an information-carrying beam with a second control beam. When the information beam enters the cavity with the quantum dot, it is normally deflected, but if the control beam enters the cavity simultaneously the dot reacts and allows the information beam to pass through.

Optical switches have been made before, but this one uses five times less power than the previous record; 90 attojoules (90*10-18 J). With the light at the near-infrared wavelength of just 921 nm, this translates to just 140 photons being needed to operate the switch. The switch is also very fast, needing only 120 picoseconds (120*10-12 s) to change.

While this is an important step for photonics it is not quite an optical transistor. The switch is not able to modulate a light beam with only a weak control pulse. Also it has to be cooled to just 40 K. Still, this is a great accomplishment and could lead to more. Though 140 photons were needed for this setup, in theory the design needs only 6 photons to manipulate the switch. Perhaps that will be achieved next.


Complete Story


GOG.com Expands Selection; Offers 50% Off Rebellion Titles

Posted: May 4, 2012 @ time: 06:57PM
Author: bp9801

If you head over to GOG.com this weekend, you will notice some new additions and a sale. The new additions are: Thief: Deadly Shadows, Anomaly: Warzone Earth, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, and Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. All four are presented DRM-free and all cost ten dollars or less. Thief and Anomaly also include some extras with your purchase, so you get even more for your dollar. GOG.com is also having a 50% off sale this weekend on various titles from Rebellion. Sniper Elite V2 just launched the other day, so now is your chance to pick up the original Sniper Elite to see the game that started it all. The Empire Earth series is also on sale this weekend, allowing you to experience the vast history of the world through diplomacy or warfare. The Ground Control series is more of a real-time tactics game that lets you control your own hi-tech army. You can also pick up Evil Genius to control a criminal mastermind bent on world domination. These games and more (like Lords of the Realm and Lords of Magic) are only on sale this weekend, so you need to act fast!


Complete Story


Another Method to Break the Speed of Light Developed

Posted: May 4, 2012 @ time: 06:59PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Of all the laws of science, this is probably among the most fun: If there exists a law, there exists a violation to the law. (And yes, even this has violations.) Researchers at NIST have recently found a new method to create superluminal pulses.

A consequence of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity is that no information can travel faster than the speed of light. While this would seem to indicate that nothing can travel at superluminal speeds, there is a loophole to it. An uninformed signal can exceed light speed without issue, and the NIST researchers have developed a better way to make these signals.

Light pulses can be visualized as a bell curve. The leading tail of the curve cannot exceed the speed of light, but it is possible to shift the peak of the curve forward or back. As the peak is already travelling at the speed of light, shifting it forward breaks the speed limit. This is done by using a second beam of light that interferes with the original beam. The interference causes the leading tail to amplify while the back of the curve is damped out. This has been accomplished by other research groups already, but the NIST work creates less noise in the superluminal light pulses.

The next step for the researchers will be to measure the quantum discord between the original light beam and the superluminal beam it becomes. Quantum discord is the difference in quantum information between two related systems. Depending on what the results of that are, these superluminal light pulses may be useful for the transmission and processing of quantum information.


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Corsair Announces Case Fans

Posted: May 4, 2012 @ time: 07:10PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Corsair has recently expanded its product line into gaming accessories such as mice and keyboards, and it can now add case fans to the list. The Air Series will feature two models, one targeted toward high airflow and the other at high static pressure. The AF120 and AF140 are ideal for intake and exhaust fans to be placed throughout the case. Common mounting points include the front, rear, side, and top of the case. The AF120 has both Quiet and Performance editions, with a tradeoff of more noise for more airflow. The AF140 only comes in Quiet, and has more airflow than both of its smaller counterparts. The SP120 comes in Quiet and High Performance variants, with a design that allows the high pressure air to be directed. These fans are targeted towards mounting on radiators and heatsinks. The AF120 and SP120 fans have an MSRP of $16.99 while the AF140 has an MSRP of $18.99.


Complete Story


Machine Learning for Massive Music Search Engine

Posted: May 4, 2012 @ time: 07:37PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have created a game-powered machine learning system to correctly label the music on the Internet. That is all of the music on the Internet, not just the popular stuff.

The current method for identifying what genre a piece of music involves having paid professionals listen to the music. With new media constantly being uploaded, there are not enough professionals to keep up, and not enough money to pay all of them. This system is meant to replace them though and to be much faster.

The system learns about different kinds of music by using the Herd It game on Facebook, which would be a variant of crowd-sourcing. Machine learning means this system will adapt itself to the information it collects. If it finds a lack of information on jazz, for example, it will change the game’s questions to get the answers it needs. When the system scans music files then, it will compare them against the information it has, to determine the genre or subgenre of music.

Ultimately this could be used to catalog all of the music on the Internet, which would then allow a search engine to analyze the entire collection. This could open up a great deal of the musical world to listeners as all music will be included in the search, instead of just the popular tracks.


Complete Story


Watch Diablo III's 'It's Not Safe' TV Spot

Posted: May 4, 2012 @ time: 07:49PM
Author: bp9801

Either Blizzard wants to break the Internet or just likes getting its fans riled up for May 15th. A new Diablo III video went live earlier today, which is the "It's Not Safe" TV spot. This is another 30 second commercial, like the "Evil is Back" one, that shows off some of the in-game cinematics. In it, we see fire fall from the sky as the text says "The End of Days will Begin." Pretty ominous words, but then again this is a Diablo game. As is the case with Blizzard's videos, the CG work is top-notch and shows off just enough to get you interested in the game's story. Being a 30 second commercial, there really is not enough time to show off any gameplay so that will have to wait until closer to launch. Right now we are about ten days away, so there is not much more to go before the return of Diablo.


Complete Story


NVIDIA GeForce Experience Beta Arrives June 6

Posted: May 5, 2012 @ time: 12:20AM
Author: bp9801

Back when NVIDIA announced the GTX 690, it also announced GeForce Experience. This is a nifty little tool that will automatically determine the optimal graphics setting for any game out there thanks to an NVIDIA supercomputer. This supercomputer has settings stored for virtually any type of NVIDIA graphics card and CPU combination, so it helps to take the guesswork out of setting graphics options. No matter the card you are using, from a laptop GPU to a GTS 250 to a GTX 690, NVIDIA will determine the settings that work best for your computer and automatically apply those to whichever game you launch. All you have to do is hit the "Optimize" button, which then connects to the supercomputer, determines the best setting for you, and applies it so you can jump right into the game with it already looking the best possible. GeForce Experience will be available for you to use on June 6th when it arrives in beta form.


Complete Story


PowerColor Announces Two New AMD Video Cards

Posted: May 6, 2012 @ time: 10:09AM
Author: CheeseMan42

PowerColor has announced a pair of new video cards based on the AMD HD7800 Series, an HD7850 and the HD7870 GHz Edition. The HD7850 features a core speed of 860MHz while the HD7870 clocks in at 1GHz. Both cards feature 2GB of GDDR5 RAM at 1200MHz. These cards fit into the PCI-Express 3.0 connector and have a variety of display connections, including HDMI, DisplayPort and Dual Link DVI. Full support of AMD technologies such as Eyefinity 2.0, HD3D, PowerTune and ZeroCore also comes standard.


Complete Story


iOS App Success Hard to Come By

Posted: May 6, 2012 @ time: 10:37AM
Author: CheeseMan42

The Apple App Store has hundreds of thousands of apps for the various devices powered by the iOS. Some of the top developers are making plenty of money, but the majority of developers are struggling just to break even. A survey conducted by marketing firm App Promo found that 59% of apps don't break even, while several other estimates place the number at 80% or higher. There are a number of factors that can contribute to the lack of success including the sheer number of apps making it difficult to even be found and revenue of just 70 cents for a 99 cent app. Some developers also feel that the search system to find apps is lacking and could use some serious improvement, and others felt that a demo system might help to convince consumers that an app would be worth a $5 or $10 purchase.


Complete Story


Hardware Roundup: Monday Edition

Posted: May 7, 2012 @ time: 04:47AM
Author: Nemo

We're back to start a new week of reviews and news from our affiliates. First up are a pair of CPU coolers with the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo leading the way followed by the Gaia heatsink from Xigmatek. We also picked up a review on the Patriot Viper Xtreme Division 4 16GB quad-channel memory kit and we have a review on the Intel DZ77GA-70K Z77 motherboard. That leaves us with coverage of a couple of overclocking  events and a look at DotA 2 game play.

Cooling
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo Heatsink @ Frostytech
Xigmatek Gaia @ XSReviews

Gaming
Gaming Friday: DotA 2 @ ThinkComputers

Memory
Patriot Viper Xtreme Division 4 DDR3-1866 16GB Quad Channel Memory Kit @ ThinkComputers

Motherboards
Intel DZ77GA-70K Motherboard Benchmark Tests @ Benchmark Reviews

Trade Shows/Conventions
Kingston HyperX Event Antwerp @ Madshrimps
Tones OC Academy IV @ Madshrimps


Complete Story


Affordable Plastic-Based Ultrabooks on the Way

Posted: May 7, 2012 @ time: 05:07AM
Author: edwardquilo

Ultrabooks are a great step forward for Windows mobile computing in terms of portability, but because of its aluminum form factor it's not exactly wallet-friendly. That might change in the next few months, as it has been reported that cheaper plastic-based Ultrabooks are en route. These upcoming lightweight laptops will be a using a variety of plastic and aluminum materials, with the casing built on a fiberglass-like plastic. Intel has indicated that these alternative materials are just as effective as a metal chassis during torque test demonstrations. According to Intel's Taiwan head Jason Chen, we could be looking at prices ranging from $599 to $699 for these relatively affordable Ultrabooks, which are estimated to arrive at the second half of 2012. 


Complete Story


Are You Addicted to Facebook? There's a Test for That

Posted: May 7, 2012 @ time: 08:58AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Though I am not on Facebook, I have seen some odd behavior related to it. I have known people to put off important work to play a game or check for new postings. I have even known someone who told me something in confidence post a related comment I made to Facebook. (Apparently one can keep a secret and still publicly post a remark directly related to the secret.) Researchers are very interested in the ways Facebook alters behaviors and mindsets because it appears to be creating addictions. Now researchers at the University of Bergen have created the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale.

As with every other phenomenon, one cannot study it without having some way to measure it. This test allows researchers to determine if someone is indeed addicted, which will then allow the researchers to collect data to find a pattern amongst the addicts. Already we know most Facebook addicts are anxious and socially insecure. Facebook feels safer to them because it does not require face-to-face interactions. Women are at greater risk of becoming addicted because of the social nature of Facebook.

The test considers six criteria and has people rate them on a scale from very rarely, through sometimes, to very often.

  • You spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook or plan use of Facebook.
  • You feel an urge to use Facebook more and more.
  • You use Facebook in order to forget about personal problems.
  • You have tried to cut down on the use of Facebook without success.
  • You become restless or troubled if you are prohibited from using Facebook.
  • You use Facebook so much that it has had a negative impact on your job/studies.

Scoring "often" or "very often" on four or more of these suggests you may be addicted.


Complete Story


Analyst Says Microsoft and Sony Should Cut Hardware and Software Prices

Posted: May 7, 2012 @ time: 12:17PM
Author: bp9801

With all the rumors flying around on next-generation consoles, one analyst believes Microsoft and Sony should cut the prices on current-gen hardware and software. The analyst says many gamers are already looking towards the next-gen systems, so the timing is perfect to reduce prices on the current-gen. This would mean more sales all around, because if someone was on the fence on whether or not to buy a console, a reduced price could push them over the edge. The analyst said the $99 Xbox 360 with a two-year contract is a good start, but says "a straight price cut would be more effective." What's more is the analyst thinks software prices should also be cut, with a $50 starting point for "most" titles. The age of the hardware no longer necessitates $60 games, but the royalty fees would have to be reduced in order for the lower price to take hold. Lower prices all around would certainly help the industry, especially in anticipation of low sales numbers for April.


Complete Story


Looking to Explain Iron Superconductors

Posted: May 7, 2012 @ time: 12:44PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Superconductors are cool, literally and figuratively. These materials will conduct electricity with little or no resistance, which allows massive amounts of energy to be transmitted without any loss or very low power signals to be sent and received correctly. Making a material act as a superconductor however requires chilling it to very low temperatures. Traditional superconductors need to reach down to near absolute zero while high-temperature superconductors need to be more than hundred degrees below zero, centigrade. Scientists are constantly working to find room-temperature superconductors but the work is hindered by the fact that we do not understand what causes superconductivity.

The dominant theory for high-temperature superconductivity involves Cooper pairs. These are pairs of electrons which defy normal logic in order to flow without resistance. One would expect electrons to fly away from each other instead of pairing up, and usually they do fly away. One theory for why they do not in Cooper pairs is that the electrons are aligned in such a way as to overcome their repulsion. Even though electrons are negatively charged points in space, they still have a magnetic moment, which makes them polar like a bar magnet. If the moments are pointing in opposite directions, the electrons might be able to pair up. Proving this though is difficult.

Researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory have recently made an important discover with regards to this theory and iron superconductors. Iron high-temperature superconductors were only discovered in 2008, and previously only copper, high-temperature superconductors were known to exist. Copper does not lend itself to testing this theory but iron, with its multiple magnetic electrons in their own energy bands, does.

The researchers had to invent a way to measure the alignment of the electrons while also measuring their conductivity, but once they had, they found the theory is not incorrect. The electrons did conduct better when they were aligned in opposite directions, as well as parallel and anti-parallel to their direction of motion. This does not mean the alignment is what directly causes Cooper pairs and superconductivity, but it is linked to them. Potentially this research could lead to the discovery and possibly the designing of future superconductors.


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