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News Archives for September 2012

Square Enix Announces Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII and 25th Anniversary Ultimate Box Collection

Posted: September 1, 2012 @ time: 12:31AM
Author: bp9801

Metal Gear is not the only game series celebrating a quarter century, as Final Fantasy's 25th anniversary celebration is going on this weekend in Japan. The end of July brought word of a big Final Fantasy XIII announcement, and Square Enix has delivered. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was announced  and it will launch sometime in 2013. Lightning Returns features "a brand-new story, world, characters, and enhanced gameplay system," with Lightning as the sole playable character. She can roam freely in the game's world, much like older titles sans a group. Lightning Returns is set hundreds of years after Final Fantasy XIII-2 in a world called Novus Partus, which has four islands connected by a monorail. The art direction draws inspiration from "gothic, mechanical, and fantasy," which fit in nicely with the overall Final Fantasy theme.

The new game features a doomsday countdown in the corner of the screen that is constantly ticking down. The world in Lightning Returns ends after 13 days, and any action Lightning takes, even using the monorail, will speed up the clock. You must be swift in your actions and accomplish all before the clock expires, although it is not known how the in-game time reflects real world time.

Lightning is the only player-controlled character, but we have a nearly endless varity of options to customize her looks and combat style. The combat system in Lightning Returns is a mix of FFXIII and XIII-2, with real-time control of Lightning's movements and attacks, and time-based moves that hasten the doomsday countdown. A real-time blocking system is being added to make battles more active and timing based. Dying during the middle of a battle starts a prompt asking if you want to undo the mistakes, however accepting it will speed up the countdown. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is the final chapter of the Lightning saga that started with FFXIII in 2010 and continued with this year's FFXIII-2.

Another announcement was made during the celebration, although this one may only concern Japan. Square Enix unveiled the Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Ultimate Box Collection, which features pretty much every numbered Final Fantasy game. The original PlayStation versions of Final Fantasy I, FFII, FFIV, FFV, FFVI, FFVII, FFVIII, and FFIX, the PS2 versions of FFX, FFXI, and FFXII, the PS3 version of FFXIII, and the PSP version of FFIII are all included. The boxset also contains an anniversary celebration montage DVD, an art book titled Crystal Artworks, a Final Fantasy XIV code for an in-game set of "mogu mogu" earrings, a miniature replica of the 25th Anniversary logo, and a two-disc CD collection of some of the series' music. The Ultimate Box Collection will be available December 18 in Japan, but currently no other location is listed.


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First List of Windows 8 Games Revealed by Microsoft

Posted: September 1, 2012 @ time: 01:01AM
Author: bp9801

We are getting closer to the launch of Windows 8, the latest operating system from Microsoft. The new OS brings a lot of different features and abilities to the table, including integration with Xbox Live. As such, Microsoft's Major Nelson recently revealed the first wave of Xbox games heading to Windows 8, including a few W8 exclusives. You can read the full list of titles at Major Nelson's blog, but some of the standouts include: PAC-MAN Championship Edition DX, BlazBlue Calamity Trigger, Pinball FX 2, and Dragon's Lair. Many of the games will be available when W8 arrives on October 26, with more releases scheduled throughout the rest of the year and into next.

The games will be available in the Xbox Games app on Windows 8 and in the W8 Store, and you can play them on any W8 desktop, laptop, and tablet. Every game includes Xbox achievements, while most have support for leaderboards, multiplayer modes, connecting with friends, and more. All of these titles will certainly be an improvement over the usual staple of stock Windows games, although it will be interesting to see if they will be free or paid.


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Thermaltake Introduces Armor Revo Gene Case

Posted: September 1, 2012 @ time: 07:01AM
Author: CheeseMan42

Thermaltake has announced its latest mid-tower computer case, the Armor Revo Gene. The case has both black and white color options with a wing shaped front bezel and windowed side panel. The top of the case features a hard drive docking station, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, and audio in and out jacks. Mount points for both ATX and Micro ATX motherboards are included, and there is enough space to accommodate CPU coolers up to 175mm in height and GPUs up to 315mm long. Four 5.25" and five 3.5" drive bays provide plenty of options for hard drives and other components, with tool-less installation, and the CableClear cable management system will allow users to tidy up their case. The case also includes space for up to five case fans to help air circulate.


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Editorial: Steam Greenlight - From Novel Idea to Train Wreck in Sixty Seconds

Posted: September 1, 2012 @ time: 05:26PM
Author: ClayMeow

When Valve announced Steam Greenlight in early July, it seemed like a great idea – put the power of the Steam submission process into the hands of the consumer. Developers and publishers would be able to post their game and use the platform to convince the Steam community that their game was worthy of being on the world's leading digital distribution platform. The system seemed to work so well with Steam Workshop for both big AAA titles (The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim) and smaller indie titles (Dungeons of Dredmor). Greenlight is modeled after that system, so what could go wrong? And after all, anything Valve has a hand in typically turns to gold, right? Well if everything was all rainbows and roses, I probably wouldn't have written this article.

When I was mulling over titles for this piece, I thought of calling it "Valve Clearly Underestimates the Stupidity and Immaturity of the Human Race", because let's face it, that's what happened. But the current title is equally apt, though "sixty seconds" may be a bit of an exaggeration – maybe it was more like sixty minutes. When Greenlight finally went live on Thursday, August 30, it seemed great and just as expected. There were only roughly thirty games that had been pre-approved by Valve to be available on Greenlight immediately upon launch of the system. I could easily browse the games and rate up the ones I wanted to see on Steam! And then it happened – within minutes, the game submissions started pouring in, but unfortunately not the way Valve intended, nor probably predicted.

Valve failed to see what many of us have known for far too long – most people are complete morons. Greenlight suddenly got flooded with fake submissions, copyright infringements, games people wanted on Steam but had no rights to sell, and yes, even porn. Basically, Greenlight became a troll's paradise. Valve started issuing one-day and one-week bans to many offenders (like someone who jokingly posted Half-Life 3), but Valve's moderators simply couldn't keep up – hours after the system went live, there were hundreds upon hundreds of submissions (the current tally is roughly 700). There is absolutely no approval process to get a game onto Greenlight, as the system is supposed to be policed by the community. This is certainly happening to a degree (there's a downvote button and report button), but even the community is having a difficult time sorting through the system to uncover the "real" games from the fakes. It didn't help matters that the Greenlight infrastructure was incomplete at launch, with no access to your favorites list, no way to sort by popularity, nor any way to remove the games from your standard view without voting thumbs up or thumbs down. Favorites can now be accessed, but the other issues have yet to be addressed.

And therein lies the problem with the current state of Greenlight – Valve is simply not responding fast enough. It's like the company rushed it to market without proper testing, which is a very un-Valve thing to do. Valve is currently conducting beta testing for its new Steam Community changes, yet doesn't think to do the same with Greenlight? Huge oversight. The discussion boards are filled with suggestions (some good, some bad), but who knows if Valve has seen any of them. Probably the best suggestion I've seen is the implementation of a nominal ($1-$5) submission fee. That should, in theory, weed out some of the fakes, though sadly there are still some rich trolls in the world that won't see that as an impediment.

All the apparent trolling aside, the system itself is seen as flawed by many. As alluded to earlier, many people would downvote a game simply to remove it from their "list of games to rate", not necessarily because they were against the game being available on Steam. There really needs to be a "neutral" option. You also have people simply downvoting games because it's not a genre they play or they don't feel games originally developed for mobile devices should be on Steam. The latter shouldn't be determined by them and clearly they didn't notice Hero Academy going on sale on Steam last month, a game that originated for iOS devices. Then you have people simply downvoting for bad graphics, like bad graphics equal bad gameplay. What would have happened if Limbo had to be submitted over Greenlight? Would people downvote it for not having any color?

But should there even be an option to downvote a game? No. I highly doubt the Valve moderators are even looking at the number of downvotes, but if they are, they shouldn't be. If you look at upvotes and downvotes at their core, upvotes are essentially users saying they would probably purchase the game, while downvotes are users saying they wouldn't. In retail/e-tail, since when does the number of people not buying your product mean anything? The only number that matters is how many people would buy your product, as that equals sales, which directly affects profit. If a game has 5,000 upvotes, it shouldn't matter whether it has 100 downvotes or 10,000 downvotes – 5,000 sales is 5,000 sales. You already have a report button for fakes, copyright infringers, etc., so again, there really is no point in allowing downvoting – without requiring any actual feedback to help developers improve their product, it's simply inviting trolling.

I'm holding out hope that Valve corrects Greenlight's flaws and reduces the number of fake submissions, but for now, it's tough for me to recommend that any of you actually attempt to use the system. That's a shame, because there are truly some very well-deserving games currently on there. Greenlight has immense promise, but it'll take a lot of work. It has the potential to be a great tool for struggling indie developers and as someone who is planning a career in the video game industry (I'm finishing my Master's in Digital Game Design & Development this year), I really hope it reaches that potential. If any of you have checked out Greenlight, feel free to share your thoughts below or in our forum!
 


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Torchlight II Gains Steam Workshop Support

Posted: September 1, 2012 @ time: 08:32PM
Author: bp9801

Fresh off the announcement of Torchlight II's release date and the launch trailer comes another big piece of news. Travis Baldree, president of Runic Games, revealed Torchlight II includes support for Steam Workshop. Mod tools for the game have been confirmed previously, but Steam Workshop provides a simple method to deliver  the mods. Baldree said there was really no reason for Steam Workshop support to not be added to TL2, which is something I wish every other Steamworks game would embrace. Runic will launch some of its own mods for the Workshop to get the ball rolling, so it will be interesting to see what those will be like. Baldree even hinted that he might create a mod that adds cursed weapons back to the game, as those were something he was in favor of but no one else at Runic. Custom armor and weapons will be easier to create in Torchlight II compared to the first, as Baldree stated the items are sized to the character's class.

Runic will release some DLC for Torchlight II, but all of it is likely to be free and automatically download when the game is started. Baldree said the team wants to release at least one free DLC a month "to remind people we're still around," which is great to hear. The freebies may be something like item sets or events, but nothing is confirmed just yet. We will just have to wait and see, when Torchlight II arrives on September 20.


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The International 2 Reports 400,000 Viewers on Day One

Posted: September 2, 2012 @ time: 09:41AM
Author: CheeseMan42

Valve is currently hosting The International 2 at Pax Prime in Seattle, Washington. The International 2 is a Dota 2 tournament with a $1 million prize going to the first place team. On the first day of the tournament, Valve reported that there were as many as 400,000 simultaneous viewers in addition to the thousands in attendance at the event. At the end of day two, defending champions Na'Vi fought their way to the winner bracket finals against LGD Gaming, which hasn't dropped a game yet in the tournament. In addition to being the defending champs, Na'Vi is the lone non-Chinese team left in the tournament. The matches are about to start up as I am writing this and can be seen on the official website with English, Chinese, and Russian video streams. I have been watching it on and off throughout the weekend and even though I started out having no clue what was going on, I have been picking up a lot as the weekend has gone on.


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Black Mesa Finally Launching September 14

Posted: September 2, 2012 @ time: 10:58AM
Author: ClayMeow

Set to completely recreate the original Half-Life with the Source engine, Black Mesa has been in the works since shortly after Half-Life 2 released in 2004. Just when everyone was thinking the mod had joined the vaporware ranks, new screenshots emerged in June with the promise that it was still in the works. Today, Project Leader Carlos "cman2k" Montero posted a community update letting everyone know that Black Mesa will finally be released to the public on September 14, 2012 and the main site now prominently displays a countdown clock. However, the September 14 release of Black Mesa will not be the complete Half-Life experience, at least not yet:

On September 14th you will see the first release of Black Mesa! This will include our re-envisioning of Half-Life all the way up to Lambda Core. We believe this is a great way to provide a complete-feeling 8-10 hour experience with a solid ending, make our fans happy and help us make the best overall game possible.

We are still working hard on Xen and BMDM, but instead of making you wait we are giving you Black Mesa as soon as it's ready!

For those that have never played the original Half-Life, this is your opportunity to experience the birth of one of gaming's greatest franchises, all in the comfort of modern graphics and physics.


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Straight From PAX - All 120 Torchlight II Skills

Posted: September 2, 2012 @ time: 12:30PM
Author: ClayMeow

A little over two weeks ago, we got our first look at Torchlight II's new skill panes, but only got to see the details of one skill, Bramble Wall. With developer Runic Games showing off Torchlight II at PAX, it was only a matter of time before all the skills got leaked. Jerich, a member of RGF, a Runic Games fansite, snapped photos of all 120 skills with his iPhone. Some of the images are a bit blurry, but still legible. Going through 120 images is definitely not the most convenient thing, but I'm sure someone will transcribe all the data into a Wiki or skill calculator soon enough. For your convenience, I've downloaded all the images, zipped them up, and uploaded them to filedropper for an easy 25.6MB download, instead of simply attaching them all here. Please keep in mind that it's quite possible some of these skills will get tweaked by the time the game goes live, but this should still give you a good feel for the various builds possible for each of the four classes – for example, the Engineer and Outlander classes can certainly be played as summoners, which wasn't fully apparent during the beta.

As was unveiled three days ago, Torchlight II will launch on September 20th and will now include Steam Workshop support. And if you haven't done so yet, be sure to watch the Official Launch Trailer.


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Sennheiser Adds HDVA 600 Amp to Lineup

Posted: September 2, 2012 @ time: 12:58PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Sennheiser is one of the biggest names in high end headphones, and one thing that really makes these headphones stand out is an amplifier. Sennheiser has just announced the HDVA 600 analog headphone amplifier, specifically targeted at users of the HD 600 and above headphones. This amp joins the digital HDVD 800 amp that was introduced a few months back. A snazzy looking case features a window to allow users to take a look at the electronics that power the amplifier. The HDVA 600 will retail for $1,600 and the HDVD 800 will sell for $2,000. Both are expected to be available in the United States in the fall, and will "be on display at CanJam at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver, CO between October 12th and 14th."


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Borderlands 2 Mechromancer Class Arriving October 16

Posted: September 2, 2012 @ time: 09:18PM
Author: ClayMeow

Back in April, it was unveiled that a fifth class for Borderlands 2, known as the Mechromancer, would be available for download, free to anyone who pre-orders the game. It was originally stated that the Mechromancer would be available 60-90 days after release. Recently, in the GameSpot interview seen below, Gearbox Software President Randy Pitchford stated that they would probably beat the 60-day deadline, but didn't want to give any definite date. I guess he was just waiting to make the announcement at PAX.

Earlier today at PAX, Pitchford said that the Mechromancer will be available for download "by October 16th." That's not simply beating the 60-day prediction, that's demolishing it! Pitchford says "there may be a little fudge factor there," but the date is essentially confirmed, meaning it comes out a mere 28 days after the full game releases. As previously mentioned, the Mechromancer will be free to anyone who has pre-ordered Borderlands 2. For those coming late to the party, she will cost $9.99 or 800 Microsoft Points. And don't forget, Gearbox is also working on four add-on campaigns, with a season pass currently available.

Although I posted the GameSpot interview in our forum thread, since I never posted it in the news here, I figured I'd attach it below for your viewing pleasure. If you want a first look at the Mechromancer class, tune in to around the 55:20 mark, which also includes an extremely brief peek at her pet robot, Deathtrap, at the very end. Although the character model is in the game, it is untextured and the skill tree is incomplete. Nevertheless, it's worth checking out because Pitchford talks about the class in great detail. Her three skill trees are "Little Big Trouble", "Best Friends Forever" and "Ordered Chaos". Best Friends Forever is geared toward new players who may not be accustomed to first-person shooters, making it a great way to introduce someone to the game. For example, the first skill is called "Close Enough", which makes it so that any bullets that miss their target have a chance to ricochet off walls toward a nearby enemy at the cost of decreased damage. On the flip side, the Ordered Chaos tree is designed for advanced players, providing the Mechromancer class with something for everyone.

Borderlands 2 launches on September 18 for the PC, PS3, and 360.


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PowerColor Wants to Pimp Your Rig

Posted: September 3, 2012 @ time: 05:51AM
Author: CheeseMan42

PowerColor has announced the Pimp My Rig contest, a quest to find the slowest rig on Earth. This contest will award users that can get the lowest scores, rather than the highest scores, in the chosen benchmark of 3DMark 2003. The contest will be split into two rounds with the first running from today to September 16 and the second from September 17-23. In the first round users must join one of the communities and compete against the users there. The four communities are TechPowerUP, HardwareLuxx, HardwareHeaven, and Chiphell. In the second round, the winners from each of the communities will go head to head to determine the lowest score. Winners of the first round will receive a HAF XM, QuickFire Rapid, and Sentinel Advanced 2 from Cooler Master, an FX8150 from AMD, and a 990 FX Extreme 3 motherboard from ASRock. The winner of the second round will get a PowerColor HD7990 Devil13 6GB video card.


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Assassin's Creed 3 to Offer New Content Every Month

Posted: September 3, 2012 @ time: 06:03AM
Author: edwardquilo

Ubisoft will be giving stealth-loving fans more reasons to log-in to Assassin's Creed 3 after its release, as the publisher will be rolling out new content and challenges every month. "As you progress in the game and level up your character, you access these files and videos. Every month you'll have new challenges to unlock new content that will continue the storyline throughout the year," Ubisoft's Damien Kieken said. The monthly add-ons will be focused on the multiplayer aspect of Assassin's Creed 3, with the game's environments bringing a deeper impact on gameplay, such as blizzards causing poor visibility or the ability to use nearby objects(such as bottles or axes) for impulse weapons. Ubisoft previously removed the cloak on Wolfpack and Domination, two multiplayer modes which respectively involved taking down waves of enemies in co-op and a versus mode with four players. 


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StarCraft 2 WCS European Finals to be held September 15-16

Posted: September 3, 2012 @ time: 06:12AM
Author: CheeseMan42

DreamHack has released a trailer for the StarCraft 2 World Championship Series European Finals that will take place from September 15-16 at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden. The trailer shows all of the National champions and other qualifiers from each of the smaller tournaments that have been held throughout the year. It also revealed that there were over 2 million unique viewers for those European qualifiers. The 32 players will be competing for a share of the $60,000 prize pool and one of the six slots for the WCS in Shanghai. Looking through the player list, Stephano is probably the favorite due to his strong performances in all major tournaments he enters, even enjoying success against Korean players. Casters for the tournament include Artosis, Tasteless, Apollo, and Kaelaris.


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Optimizing Web Applications Between Servers

Posted: September 3, 2012 @ time: 06:51AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Databases are a really useful tool thanks to the ease with which information can be retrieved. This allows different online services to know what is in stock or what plane tickets are available very quickly. However, databases are meant to store information, not process it, so determining the logistics of something cannot be easily done by the same servers that store the database. Thankfully researchers at MIT have developed a system to automatically optimize some operations for these servers and with great results.

The current approach is to have information called from the database, sent to a different server for processing, and if more information is needed later on, then more information has to be sent. Travel time and bandwidth limitations add up though, so making database servers process some data on their own seems like a good idea, but they are not designed for that. This is where the MIT system, called Pyxis, comes in as it automatically determines what processes would be best run on the database server and on the processing server. It also includes connections so that if the database server does get bogged down, it can push more onto the other server.

The researchers have already benchmarked a Pyxis-optimized system and found dramatic improvements as the processing was three times faster and required half the bandwidth of the more traditional system design. Currently it is only capable of optimizing Java programs like this, but more language support can be added without having to change the optimization algorithms.


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Could AMD's Top-end Trinity APU Cost only $130?

Posted: September 3, 2012 @ time: 07:14AM
Author: edwardquilo

It's been too long since AMD went toe-to-toe with Intel in terms of matching CPU price/performance ratio, but these reported pricing leaks from AMD's upcoming Trinity APU lineup looks promising, to say the least. Spending $130 on an Intel chip usually warrants a lowly dual-core Core i3, but retailer BLT indicates that an overclockable 3.8GHz quad core Trinity A10 APU (with Radeon HD 7660D graphics) will also cost the same amount. For those looking for even more value, $60 could net you a dual-core A4-5300 APU. The Trinity APUs will all feature graphics based on the Radeon HD 7000-series, which comes with improved video playback and comprehensive DirectX 11 graphics functionality. Of course, even if these rumors turn out out to be true, Intel might be ready for a counterattack with a few timely Ivy Bridge price adjustments too. Along with an infinitely better on-board graphics solution, AMD's Trinity APUs will hopefully provide users a viable alternative to Intel's more dominant Ivy Bridge offerings.


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Cardiac Device with Wireless Power Fits on Pin Head

Posted: September 3, 2012 @ time: 10:15AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

There are millions of people who are now living better lives, or living only because of medical implants like pacemakers. These millions of people also know their implants are not maintenance free as new surgery is required to replace batteries which can account for half the volume of the implant. This requirement of relatively large batteries is a critical flaw for these devices, but researchers at the Stanford School of Engineering appear to have found a solution.

Wireless power is nothing new, even for in-development medical implants. The problem is skin and flesh are very poor conductors, so the stuff between the implant and the transmitter block a lot of energy to the point of making the approach useless. That did not stop the Stanford researchers though as they developed a new model and found that, at the proper frequency, it is possible to penetrate the body with radio waves. That frequency is at 1.7 GHz which is high enough to let the receiving antenna be quite small (lower frequencies can also penetrate the body, but you do not want long antennas in the body).

At that high of a frequency, the antenna is small enough that the entire device for capturing the energy can fit on the head of a pin at just 0.8 mm in radius. This design also successfully beat the problem of antenna orientation, because being off by just a few degrees can cause power to drop considerably. The researchers have now applied for the patent on the antenna design and from there, we will see what the medical world does with it.


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Paragon Studios and City of Heroes Being Shut Down by NCsoft

Posted: September 3, 2012 @ time: 01:05PM
Author: bp9801

Some sad news surfaced over the weekend as City of Heroes and Paragon Studios are being shut down. NCsoft decided it was time to shut down the first superhero MMORPG amidst a company focus realignment, even though the game went free-to-play last year. The team at Paragon have already begun to set things up to close City of Heroes before the end of the year. The studio will have more information in the next several weeks on when it will be shut down and what to look forward to to celebrate the game's eight year run. No more purchases can be made at the Paragon Market and all current subscriptions are immediately canceled. Paragon Studios thanks all of its employees for their hard work and dedication over the years, and says any company will have no regrets about hiring the Paragon staff. The studio also thanks all of its fans for years of support and to not focus on why City of Heroes and Paragon are closing. Instead it should be a celebration of everything the team accomplished with the superhero MMO and to send it off with one final bang.


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New Job Listing at Valve Suggests Hardware Development

Posted: September 3, 2012 @ time: 02:45PM
Author: bp9801

Earlier in the year, there were some rumblings that Valve would start making computer hardware. In an interview, Gabe Newell said there was a possibility for the studio to create hardware if it needed to further innovation, which is a rather open-ended statement when you look at it. A little after that interview came a report of a Steam Box console to compete with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but then nothing more came of that. However, there is a new job listing at Valve that heavily suggests hardware is in development or soon will be. The Industrial Designer job wants someone with at least six years of experience "shipping world-class, high-tech hardware products." The job listing includes the following:

Valve is traditionally a software company. Open platforms like the PC and Mac are important to us, as they enable us and our partners to have a robust and direct relationship with customers. We’re frustrated by the lack of innovation in the computer hardware space though, so we’re jumping in. Even basic input, the keyboard and mouse, haven’t really changed in any meaningful way over the years. There’s a real void in the marketplace, and opportunities to create compelling user experiences are being overlooked.

If that is not a confirmation of hardware development, then I do not know what is. Valve could be at work on something as simple as a new mouse and keyboard, like the listing states, or something far more involved. Whether that is the rumored Steam Box or something else entirely is unknown at this point, but hopefully we do not have long to go to find out.


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Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes is Not Project Ogre

Posted: September 3, 2012 @ time: 09:04PM
Author: bp9801

Last week, Hideo Kojima announced Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, the newest entry in the series. The new MGS is an open-world title, and because of that there was some speculation Ground Zeroes is the mysterious Project Ogre. Nothing was mentioned at the announcement of MGSGZ that it is Project Ogre, but still there were rumblings. However, earlier today Hideo Kojima clarified everything by saying Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes is not Project Ogre and that he is "sick & tired" of everyone asking him. When he is ready to officially unveil Project Ogre, he will, but in the meantime MGSGZ is not it. It is possible Project Ogre could be Metal Gear Solid 5 considering there is no number attached to Ground Zeroes, but we just have to wait and see.

The main focus, for the time being, is Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, which had a fairly lengthly gameplay video shown at PAX Prime. The Fox Engine looks fantastic, although the rainfall gives everything a slight sheen. Still, it is looking pretty great and should be a welcome treat for PS3 and 360 gamers when it arrives next year.


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Gearbox Turns Brothers In Arms: Furious 4 into a New IP - Reveal Later This Year

Posted: September 4, 2012 @ time: 12:51AM
Author: bp9801

Gearbox Software is one of the most visible companies around, with president Randy Pitchford leading the charge. During PAX Prime, Pitchford provided a status update on Brothers In Arms: Furious 4, or rather the game formerly known as Brothers In Arms: Furious 4. The game has evolved, Pitchford revealed during the "Inside Gearbox Software" panel, with it becoming a brand new IP. The developers kept pushing the gameplay loop, and the more they pushed, the more the game turned away from Brothers In Arms. The game is now something entirely different and "unshackled" from the Brothers In Arms series, but Pitchford is not ready to fully unveil the new title just yet. We have to wait until a community day in Dallas, Texas, later this year for that to happen, but I am sure everyone is curious about the new IP. Brothers In Arms: Furious 4 was already going to be a diversion from other entries when it was announced last year, but now we do not have to worry about that.


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Hardware Roundup: Tuesday Edition

Posted: September 4, 2012 @ time: 03:32AM
Author: Nemo

We have quite a bit in store for you to read today so we'll begin with another review of the MSI GTX 660 Ti Power Edition OC video card that was released a couple of weeks ago. We have a couple of solid state drives from Plextor and Crucial for you to check out as well as a hard drive docking station from Thermaltake. Our colleagues at Neoseeker have a review on the Patriot Viper 3 8GB DDR3-2133 memory kit and we also picked up reviews on the Thermaltake Dracco headset and the Ebode BT Sound BTS30 speaker. There's plenty more for you to read today, so be sure to hit the links below for all the latest from our affiliates.

Cases
AZZA Genesis 9000 Full Tower Case @ ThinkComputers

Input Devices
Gigabyte Aivia Krypton Mouse and Mouse Pad @ Bjorn3D

Memory
Patriot Viper 3 8GB DDR3-2133 @ Neoseeker

Motherboards
GIGABYTE Z77X-UP5 TH @ Bjorn3D

Networking
TP-LINK N750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router (TL-WNDR4300) @ Madshrimps

Notebooks/Tablets
Lucid Logix VirtuMVP for Notebooks First Look: Integrated And Discrete Join Forces @ PC Perspective

Speakers/Headphones
Thermaltake Dracco: Putting the Bling On Your Head @ Computer Ed
Ebode BT Sound BTS30 Speaker @ Madshrimps

Storage/Hard Drives
Plextor M5 Pro SSD @ XSReviews
Thermaltake BlacX 5G SATA/USB Docking Station @ Benchmark Reviews
Unboxing the Crucial M4 mSATA 256GB Solid State Drive @ ThinkComputers

Video
MSI GTX 660 Ti Power Edition OC Video Card @ [H]ardOCP

Miscellany
How to Access Region-Locked Online Content From Anywhere @ TechSpot


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Latest Razer Blade Gets Outfitted with More Potent Gaming Hardware, Costs Less than Predecessor

Posted: September 4, 2012 @ time: 06:18AM
Author: edwardquilo

The Razer Blade isn't going to be the world's ultimate gaming laptop in terms of sheer performance, but it certainly makes up for it by being surprisingly portable and functional, gaming-wise. With the second-generation Blade, Razer seems to have taken user feedback to heart and improved on the sexy form-factor's innards. "We've been listing to gamers and made a chart of all the pros to keep, and all the cons to address. Every single one of them," declared Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan. Together with Razer's multitouch LCD Switchblade interface, the remarkably thin 0.8-inch aluminum chassis stays on, while almost every component gets an upgrade: an unannounced Core i7 processor coupled with graphics using NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 660M 2GB DDR5, 64GB of speedy SSD SATA III for faster Windows bootup and a 500GB 7200RPM hard disk, along with 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3 RAM. The Blade's refreshed sound system is also 250% louder, and apparently produces no distortion.  Owners of the previous-gen system get a $500 discount off the new Razer Blade's $2,499 sticker price, the latter of which is considerably lesser than its predecessor's original cost.

 

 


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Lasers Trigger Cells and Molecules to Attach to Hydrogel

Posted: September 4, 2012 @ time: 06:54AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Researchers are constantly working on creating new ways to assemble micrometer scale objects to enable a variety of devices and technologies, including biological sensors and other medical devices. These devices are more complicated than just a shape though, so there must be a way to attach certain molecules and cells to the surface of the objects. Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology have developed 3D-photografting which lets them do just that.

The researchers took a hydrogel, a loose network of macromolecules with large pores between the molecules, and using a laser they broke bonds at specific points on along it. This allows reactions to occur at those locations, and molecules and living cells to attach. It is similar to giving a plant a trellis on which to grow and could be used to create scaffolding for cells to attach to and grow on.

Potentially this technology could be used to create not only medical devices but also photovoltaics. Increasing the amount of surface area on an object allows more photovoltaic material to be attached to it for harvesting light.


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Resident Evil 6 Demo Lands September 18 for PS3 and 360

Posted: September 4, 2012 @ time: 01:01PM
Author: bp9801

Fans eagerly awaiting the next Resident Evil game should be happy to hear that Capcom will release the Resident Evil 6 demo on September 18. The demo will only be available on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but hopefully a PC one will follow closer to that version's release. Xbox 360 owners who picked up a copy of Dragon's Dogma have been able to enjoy the RE6 demo for a while now, but soon everyone else can. The public demo is believed to be the same as the private demo, which means it should have sections featuring Chris Redfield, Leon Kennedy, and Jake Muller to give you an idea of how each character plays. Plenty of zombies and new enemy types await you in the demo, as does the new ability to move and shoot at the same time. Resident Evil 6 arrives on October 2 for the PS3 and 360, while the PC version still has no announced date.


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Waste Silicon Given New Purpose

Posted: September 4, 2012 @ time: 03:07PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Semiconductor production requires extremely pure wafers of silicon, so with such high standards it is not surprising there is some silicon that cannot be used. Instead of disposing of this silicon though, researchers at Rice University have a way to make it into flexible and efficient batteries. The key is the coating used which keeps the normally fragile material from breaking.

Modern lithium ion batteries use graphite to absorb the lithium ions but silicon is known to be as much as 10 times better at absorbing the ions, so it would be ten times better at storing energy. The reason silicon is not used in batteries though is that it swells so much when it absorbs the ions that it can break, which not only deteriorates the performance of the battery, but can actually damage it. The researchers have solved this by creating silicon nanowires from waste silicon wafers and coating them in copper and a flexible electrolyte. This electrolyte made it possible for the nanowires to be harvested from the wafer without breaking them.

When tested, the silicon nanowires were able to produce 150 milliamp hours per gram with little degradation over 50 charge/discharge cycles. The researchers are working to improve those numbers and to eventually test this design in more standard battery configurations. Hopefully they will succeed as their method to produce the nanowires is relatively simple and could easily be scaled up for production.


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The Steamworks versus Games for Windows Live Debate Rages On

Posted: September 4, 2012 @ time: 03:32PM
Author: ClayMeow

When it was unveiled that the Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition for the PC would feature Games for Windows Live (GFWL) protection instead of Steamworks, many people were up in arms. Though both services have their fans (and critics), I think it's safe to say that the majority of PC gamers prefer Steamworks, myself included. But what about a developer's perspective? Last week, Christian Svensson, Corporate Officer and Senior Vice-President at Capcom, shed some light as to why his company tends to favor GFWL over Steamworks:

1. 95% of system calls are identical to Xbox Live. That is to say, if you have an Xbox 360 version, you're 95% of the way to having a working PC SKU, and the calls that are different, aren't wildly different. No additional integration required.

2. What this also means is feature for feature mapping with console. No gaps.

3. Native development support, if needed, in Japanese, in Japan's time zone. For getting anything done with teams in Japan, this is essential.

4. SSA remains secure.

I doubt it will change the mind of GFWL critics, but it does provide some insight into the decision. I think it's fairly clear that point one is the main reason GFWL was used for Dark Souls and as much as I would have personally preferred Steamworks support, I can't really fault developer From Software from taking the easier GFWL route. Capcom, on the other hand, isn't completely abandoning Steamworks. According to another one of Svensson's posts, "I <3 Steam as a service and at some point, I'll have news to share regarding that fact." Hopefully we'll find out what the Steam-related Capcom news is soon. Could it be Lost Planet 3? Resident Evil 6? Or maybe it's an as-yet-unannounced title. Time will tell.


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New Fuel Cell Catalyst Design Reduces Platinum and Increases Performance

Posted: September 4, 2012 @ time: 04:37PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

One of the potential replacements of combustion-based power systems is hydrogen fuel cells. These devices generate an electric current from fuels such as hydrogen but are limited in that they require expensive materials including platinum. This is why researchers are working to develop new materials to replace or minimize the use of platinum without comprising performance, which is what researchers at IBN have achieved.

The researchers created a nanocomposite material that replaces the inner volume of the normally solid platinum catalyst with a gold-copper alloy. Only the outer surface is made of platinum, which is still more expensive than the alloy. Because the molecules of the alloy are smaller than platinum though, it pulls the platinum atoms closer together. This compression has the effect of actually improving the efficiency of the catalyst from 0.109 amps per milligram for commercial platinum catalysts, to 0.571 amps per milligram.

There are still several challenges to overcome before fuel cells can really take off as a mainstream power source, but reducing the cost of such devices is a step in the right direction. Increasing the efficiency of the device at the same time is a real bonus too and hopefully it can be pushed even further.


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Intel to Reveal Haswell Chips Next Week

Posted: September 4, 2012 @ time: 05:06PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Intel plans to introduce the Haswell chips at the Intel Developer Forum next week, representing the 4th Generation Core chips. Intel is taking aim at the ARM dominated tablet market and plans to cut power use by more than half of current Ivy Bridge processors. The least power hungry Ivy Bridge chips use about 17 watts of power, and the first Haswell chips will use only 10 watts, a 41% savings. Intel plans to make future iterations of Haswell even more efficient, though still not close to the two watt power usage of some ARM chips. The new Haswell processors are expected to be available in the second half of 2013.


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Spinach and Silicon for Solar Power

Posted: September 4, 2012 @ time: 05:31PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

When thinking about solar power, some may think it is this new technology that has been developed most extensively in recent times as a clean energy source. The truth is though that solar power has been in development for millions and even billions of years. Nature has been harnessing the power of sunlight for longer than man has existed, and researchers know that and are trying to take advantage of that.

Photosystem 1 (PS1) is a protein involved in photosynthesis that can convert sunlight to electrical energy with almost 100% efficiency; almost three times higher than the maximum efficiency possible with typical semiconductor solar cells. This protein also can continue function after it has been harvested from plants like spinach, but not always for long and is difficult to integrate with our technology. Researchers at Vanderbilt University overcame this though by doping the silicon substrate PS-1 was placed on. This is to prevent the protein from pulling electrons from the silicon to fill holes formed by the useable electric current.

The biohybrid solar cell the researchers created was able to generate 850 microamps per square centimeter and 0.3 V. That may not sound like much but represents nearly two and a half times better performance than previous biohybrid solar cells. With further work the researchers are confident they can improve the cells' performance even further and give new meaning to the phase 'green energy.'


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Steam Greenlight Updated - One-time Fee of $100 Now Required

Posted: September 4, 2012 @ time: 06:38PM
Author: ClayMeow

You may have seen my editorial on Steam Greenlight the other day. In a nutshell, day one of Steam Greenlight's launch was a complete mess. Fake games cluttered what should have otherwise been a great way for indie developers to showcase their games to the public. So how does one prevent that from happening? By charging a fee. Steam Greenlight received an update today that introduces a one-time $100 fee. Before you scoff, this is not a money-making ploy by Valve, as all the proceeds will be donated to Child's Play. Anyone who has already posted to Greenlight will not have to pay unless they want to make future submissions. This should certainly go a long way in keeping Greenlight dedicated to the developers that truly want to see their games on Steam.

The other part of the update isn't as big, but should improve usability. Next time you log into Steam and visit the Greenlight page, you'll notice a much more manageable list of games to rate. That is because you'll only be presented with twelve games to rate, labeled as "Your queue". You can always generate a new random queue or even customize your queue to display genres you're most interested in, but it certainly makes the system a lot cleaner. In addition, when you actually click on one of the games, you're presented with a simple question: "Would you buy this game if it were available in Steam?" Your choices are "Yes" and "No thanks / Not interested". I would have still preferred to have a "Maybe" option, but at least it's clearer than the previous thumbs up and thumbs down. Once you make your choice, a button will appear that says "Next game in queue", allowing you to quickly go to the next game rather than having to backtrack to the main page like you had to do prior to the update.

This update is a great step to improving the Greenlight experience. There is still some work to be done – like not displaying "No" votes in your "Games you've voted for" list, or at least providing filters so we can just view the games we liked – but at least this update is showing that, not only is Valve listening to the community, the company is doing something about it. Feel free to discuss Steam Greenlight in our current forum thread.


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Borderlands 2 Mechromancer Fully Textured

Posted: September 4, 2012 @ time: 07:25PM
Author: ClayMeow

Just the other day, I posted that the Borderlands 2 Mechromancer DLC will be released October 16th, while including a video showing off an untextured Mechromancer model from earlier in the week. Well, it so happens that a fully textured Mechromancer was shown during the Gearbox Software PAX Panel. The skill tree is also a bit fuller, but still incomplete. Enjoy this quick first look at Gaige, the Mechromancer:


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New Trailer Appears for Zone of the Enders HD Collection

Posted: September 5, 2012 @ time: 01:07AM
Author: bp9801

Earlier this year we learned a new Zone of the Enders game was in the works and when the HD Collection of the first two games would release in Japan. There is still no announced release date for North America or Europe, but Japan will be able to enjoy the HD Collection on October 25. To get everyone ready for the re-release, a new video has been unveiled for Zone of the Enders HD Collection that shows a little over seven minutes of the opening cutscene. There is some gameplay and anime scenes mixed in as well, but unfortunately the voices are all in Japanese. Non-Japanese speakers will just need to follow along, but either way the video should get you eager to control an Orbital Frame once again. I just hope something definitive is said soon about the release outside Japan.


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Ubisoft Officially Removes Always-On DRM from PC Games

Posted: September 5, 2012 @ time: 01:25AM
Author: bp9801

This piece of news should be one of the best things you hear all day, as Ubisoft has officially dropped always-on DRM from its PC games. The studio apparently quietly dropped it months ago, but only went public with it today. All future Ubisoft games will require a one-time activation after installation, with no limits to how many installs you can make or the amount of PCs you install the game on. This is a massive turnaround from its earlier stance, where it called the DRM a "success" and viewed it as a necessary means to combat piracy. All of that is apparently out the window now, as Ubisoft's worldwide director for online games, Stephanie Perlotti, explains, "We have listened to feedback, and since June last year our policy for all of PC games is that we only require a one-time online activation when you first install the game, and from then you are free to play the game offline."

Ubisoft's DRM policy was one of the most despised around, as an Internet connection was required constantly and there was a limited number of activations. The DRM servers could also be affected, so if it went down then you could not play the game you purchased, even single player ones. Sometimes the outages were due to a server upgrade, but now it looks like PC gamers will not have to worry about any of that for any future Ubisoft title. Single player games, like the upcoming Assassin's Creed III, can be played offline and on as many machines as you want, while multiplayer games and online services still require an Internet connection, obviously. Still, this is a big about-face for one of the staunchest supporters of DRM, and can be celebrated by PC gamers everywhere.

Update: The full interview with Ubisoft is now published at Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Piracy numbers to support the 93-95% rate are still not mentioned by Perlotti, but she did say the number varies by territory. The claim of the DRM being a success was "unfortunate," but no comment was made on the data to support it, again. Michael Burke, Ubisoft corporate communications manager, said the company has been listening to feedback from PC customers, which resulted in the always-on removal. He did not acknowledge any damage to Ubisoft's reputation from the DRM, but stated the customers were not happy about "some of the policies."

The interview is rather lengthy, but it is well worth the read. Neither Perlotti or Burke go into specifics about the efficiency of DRM, but they do understand how not dicussing it damages the argument. Perlotti also talks about launch delays for PC versions of multiplatform games, and said the company needs to do a better job at relaying information. The studio wants to tailor the game to its specific platform and some, like the PC, require more time to perfect, which it will let us know if that happens. She did give us a ray of hope for the future since Far Cry 3 launches on the same day for all platforms and Assassin's Creed III releases on the PC a few weeks after the console, so maybe things will improve for all games. There is plenty more to read about in the interview, so hit up the source to see it all!


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Hardware Roundup: Wednesday Edition

Posted: September 5, 2012 @ time: 04:29AM
Author: Nemo

Today's roundup includes a review on the Corsair K60 and Corsair K90 mechanical keyboards, both of which we reviewed earlier this year. In storage, we have another Corsair product with a look at the Corsair Neutron Series 240GB solid state drive. Neoseeker has also posted up a review on the Patriot 32GB Class 10 EP Pro SDHC flash memory card. Closing out the list today is an article on the single rail vs. multi-rail power supply conundrum. Enjoy!

Input Devices
Corsair K60 and K90 Mechanical Keyboard @ PC Perspective

Power Supplies
Settling the Debate: Multi Rail Vs. Single Rail Power Supplies @ ThinkComputers

Storage/Hard Drives
Corsair Neutron Series 240GB SSD @ [H]ardOCP
Patriot 32GB Class 10 EP Pro SDHC @ Neoseeker


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New Tools for Utility Situational Awareness

Posted: September 5, 2012 @ time: 06:32AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Everything is becoming more connected, from our phones to our cars, but also our utilities. It used to be that utilities, like power and water, used internal networks that were completely disconnected from the Internet and its dangers, but not anymore. More and more these networks are connecting and sharing information with each other, but at the risk of intruders. The software for home computers can help protect these networks, but new tools are needed and now researchers at the Idaho National Laboratory have created a new suite of tools designed for large networks.

This suite includes tools, like Sophia, to monitor all traffic with the network and give situational awareness to the workers. Sophia is such a tool that monitors all communication in a network, but makes no judgment on the kind of communication. If someone were to install a new machine, Sophia would know and alert the appropriate people, but would do nothing to stop communication with the new machine.

Sophia and the remainder of the security suite are already being tested by power companies which are provided feedback. These industry testers have all enjoyed using the software as it provides so much information, but is easy to use. Perhaps we will see the suite out of the testing phase soon and being used to secure more utilities.


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StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Beta Starts Today

Posted: September 5, 2012 @ time: 12:35PM
Author: bp9801

Good news for the StarCraft faithful, as the StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm beta begins today. Blizzard announced a few weeks ago the beta would be beginning soon, and it has delivered. The studio has sent out the first wave of invites to the multiplayer-only beta, so be sure to check your email to see if you made it in. More invites will be going out before long, although the studio notes that opting in on your Battle.net account does not guarantee a selection. Certain fansites will also be able to hand out keys, which Blizzard will reveal details on those sites later on. The Heart of the Swarm beta is not under an NDA, so anyone who made it in is free to talk about it. There will undoubtedly be live streams and screenshots galore for you to check out during the beta, so everyone can at least see the new units that way. There is no set end date for the HotS beta, but Blizzard will let all the particpants know when it is near.


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Quantum Teleportation Achieved Across 143 Km

Posted: September 5, 2012 @ time: 01:22PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Quantum teleportation is a real phenomenon that has been achieved many times before, but it is very different from the teleportation technology of many science fiction stories. Instead of transporting mass and matter some distance, this phenomenon teleports quantum state. You are not moving particle A to where particle B is; you are instead making particle B look exactly like particle A. This has obvious uses for transmitting information and now researchers at the University of Vienna with an international team have teleported a quantum state between the Canary Islands of La Palma and Tenerife, a distance of 143 Km.

Quantum teleportation is related to quantum entanglement in that it requires the states of multiple particles be linked perfectly. If we had two Schrodinger Cats and could say that if one were alive the other must be dead, then they are entangled. To continue this analogy to explain teleportation we need another, living cat and enough cat food to feed one cat. First give the cat food to one of the original two Schrodinger Cats, let's say cat B. After enough time has passed for the cat to eat it, assuming the cat is alive, move the cat food and give it to the new, living cat, we will call cat C (so the unfed Schrodinger Cat is cat A). If cat B is alive, it ate the food and left nothing for cat C to eat. This means both cat A and cat C will be dead. If instead cat B were dead, which means cat A is alive, then cat C would get to eat and live as well. The cat food has teleported the state of cat A to cat C, like a photon teleports the state of particle A to particle B.

While 143 Km may seem impressive now, the researchers are aiming for even greater distances as they wish to connect satellites to the Earth using quantum teleportation. Once this is accomplished we could start seeing the beginnings of a quantum Internet with the benefits of quantum security and quantum processing built in.


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Assassin's Creed III Director Says AAA Games are Dying Out

Posted: September 5, 2012 @ time: 09:56PM
Author: bp9801

It seems like there is no shortage of statements on the current state of gaming, and today is no different. Assassin's Creed III creative director Alex Hutchinson believes AAA games are becoming fewer in number, with AC3 as one of the last. Some studios have turned to smaller projects while independent developers have risen. Many indie games feature compelling gameplay while offering excellent value, especially when you factor in the sheer number of indie bundles. Certain indie games even have incredibly small staff, with a few people or even just one person working day and night to deliver the product. Big AAA games that have multiple studios working on them, like Assassin's Creed III, are not that common anymore, according to Hutchinson. He says it is the "last of the dinosaurs," which may be a true statement in the coming years. There are still AAA titles on the horizon, but there are also plenty of indie games in development, too.


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New Far Cry 3 Island Survival Guide Shows Off the Darker Side

Posted: September 6, 2012 @ time: 12:46AM
Author: bp9801

Last week we were treated to the first Official Island Survival Guide video for Far Cry 3, where ex-CIA operative Agent Huntley introduced us to the Rook Islands. Today we have the next installment, which shows off the darker side of the island. Titled Psychopaths, Drugs, & Other Dangers, Agent Huntley certainly wants us well aware of all the crazies we can encounter in Far Cry 3. We will discover the truth behind the human trafficking and drug use on the Rook Islands, how to strategically use outposts to survive, and, to prove the video is not entirely dark, we get tips on how to hunt and craft in FC3. This island certainly lives up to its lawless reputation, so just be sure to keep your head on a swivel while exploring. You do not want to lose it when an enemy is in a drug-fueled haze.

Far Cry 3 arrives on December 4 in North America and November 29 in Europe for the PC, PS3, and 360.


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Hardware Roundup: Thursday Edition

Posted: September 6, 2012 @ time: 03:39AM
Author: Nemo

If your video card did not come with an after-market style cooling solution you might want to check out the Arctic Accelero Hybrid VGA cooler we have in the list of reviews today. We also picked up a pair of headset reviews covering the Tt eSports Chao Dracco and the Cooler Master CM Storm Sonuz units. There is also an editorial article arguing against expensive solid state drives which we get to pair with a review of the OCZ Agility 4 256GB drive.

Cooling
Arctic Accelero Hybrid Graphics Card Cooler @ Bjorn3D

Gaming
Interview: 2Dawn Games on its upcoming shooter 'Ravaged' and life as an indie studio @ TechSpot

Speakers/Headphones
Tt eSports Chao Dracco @ XSReviews
Cooler Master CM Storm Sonuz @ Neoseeker

Storage/Hard Drives
OCZ Agility 4 256GB Solid State Drive @ ThinkComputers

Miscellany
Video Games Do Not Want to Be Art? @ PC Perspective
Editorial: An Argument Against Expensive Solid State Drives @ Benchmark Reviews
 


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Boost Windows 7 Performance with Sandisk's 32GB ReadyCache

Posted: September 6, 2012 @ time: 05:33AM
Author: edwardquilo

Want to jumpstart your Windows 7 PC performance? Sandisk has announced an affordable solution to speeding up load times, through a cache-only 2.5-inch drive equipped with 32GB of NAND flash storage. The SanDisk ReadyCache runs alongside your existing hard disk and doesn't require anything other than using a spare SATA III connection and the installation of its software - it works by maintaining the files you access often as a cache into the SSD, so there's no need to reinstall Windows 7 or manually migrate files. Compared to your HDD's normal operating speed, Sandisk reports up to 12x faster bootups and application launches. Currently on sale for $59.99 at Amazon at Newegg, SanDisk's ReadyCache SSD could be just the turbocharge your desktop PC needs. 


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Studying Oxygen Vacancies in Fuel Cells

Posted: September 6, 2012 @ time: 06:27AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Fuel cells are a somewhat popular topic when it comes to clean sources of electricity. A hydrogen fuel cell will generate an electric current with the only waste being water, a decidedly clean waste product. Unfortunately they are quite expensive devices and can wear out over time because the electrochemical reactions they use can eventually degrade their performance. Now researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have studied one of the effects of these reactions and their results could improve future designs and materials for fuel cells.

Within a fuel cell, electrons are not the only particle moving as oxygen ions also flow through areas where oxygen atoms use to be. These vacancies are believed to affect the performance of the fuel cell, as they affect the oxygen ion current, but vacancies are difficult to study. Normally microscopes are used to find what is there instead of what is not, but the ORNL researchers thoroughly examined the structure involved and discovered how to detect the vacancies with an electron microscope.

This is an important study for the development of fuel cells as it allows for more deliberate and directed actions, when it comes to testing new materials. Instead of just making a new material and testing it to see if it works well or not, researchers will be able to take the tools of this study and determine why one material is better than another, which is a step towards designing materials that are better than others.


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Amazon Announces Kindle Paperwhite and Fire HD; Updates Others

Posted: September 6, 2012 @ time: 12:13PM
Author: bp9801

Amazon held a press conference just moments ago where many were expecting the unveiling of a new Kindle Fire, e-readers, and more. The conference has just wrapped up, so what did Amazon show off? Well, the retail giant certainly did not disappoint, as it introduced the new Kindle Paperwhite that features a sharper display, lighting from the front, and capacitive touch, an updated Kindle Fire with a new processor, double the RAM, and a new price, the Kindle Fire HD with more storage and a massive screen resolution, and the $69 Kindle, which is nearly the same as last year's $79 model, just more affordable.

The Kindle Paperwhite has a display with 25% more contrast, 62% more pixels, and 212ppi. The font style and size can be easily adjusted with the capacitive touchscreen, but the real star is the frontlighting. Four years of research and development went into the lighting system, which projects the light onto the display and is nano imprinted for even distribution. The touchscreen also controls the lighting level, as there are no buttons at all on the Paperwhite. The e-reader is 9.1mm thick, but it packs a battery capable of eight weeks of life with the light on. 

The Kindle Fire has received an update with a new processor, double the RAM (1GB now), better battery life, and 44% better performance. However, the main attraction is that Kindle Fire HD, which comes in two sizes: a 7" and an 8.9". The 7" is nearly the same as the old, except for a larger 1280x800 resolution, while the 8.9" features a massive 1920x1200 resolution at 254ppi, an 8.8mm thickness, and weighs only 20 ounces. It packs a TI OMAP 4470 processor that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos claims is better than NVIDIA Tegra 3, dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus (a first for a tablet), and two wireless antennas that can alternate to find the best signal. Multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) technology is built into the Kindle Fire HD and the two antennas are 2.4GHz and 5GHz. WiFi is supposedly 41% faster than the iPad 3, which is key for a device built for streaming. The touch sensor is laminated for 25% less glare and sharper text, plus there is a front-facing HD camera for video chats.

Storage space on the Kindle Fire HD starts at 16GB, with the OS only taking up 2GB on both it and the Fire. The tablet still has cloud streaming as its main source of content, and Amazon has added new features for Whispersync. Audiobooks and games are now stored with Whispersync, so you never have to worry about losing your spot in either. Audiobooks let you listen to the book and then pick up reading where you left off. Games are stored in Whispersync so you never lose any progress, not even for any unlocked levels. There is a new Kindle FreeTime mode with parental controls so you can easily keep track of what your kids read, watch, or play. All of your music is stored in the cloud, and those dual antennas help get rid of buffering for seamless streaming.

You can pre-order the Kindle Paperwhite today for $119 or $179 for the 3G version, and both ship on October 1. The $69 Kindle ships on September 14. The old Kindle Fire, dubbed the Kindle Fire SD internally by Amazon, will be available on September 14 for $159, while the Kindle Fire HD ships on November 20 at $199 for the 7" 16GB model and $299 for the 8.9" 16GB. There will be a Kindle Fire HD with 4G LTE for $499, which features 32GB of storage, the 8.9" display, access to AT&T's 4G LTE network, and a $50 yearly fee. That yearly fee nets you 250MB of data each month (AT&T charges $14.99 per month for that), 20GB of cloud storage, and $10 appstore credit. It will ship on November 20 just like the other Fire HD models.

That is an insane amount of Kindles for some pretty affordable prices, with the only question being, "which to buy?" The pictures below are of the 8.9" Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Paperwhite.


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According to Sony VP Boyes, Gaming is Like the Food Industry

Posted: September 6, 2012 @ time: 01:32PM
Author: ClayMeow

There's a lot of talk about whether the emergence of mobile and tablet gaming marks the end of traditional gaming platforms. Just three weeks ago, Epic Games basically said just that – that mobile gaming was competing with console gaming and would soon compete with the PC as well. After all, why spend a couple hundred on a console and another $60 on a game when you can use a phone or tablet you probably already own and spend far less on each game? Adam Boyes, VP of Publisher Relations for Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA), thinks that notion is a bit ridiculous. I had the privilege of attending the 2012 NY Games Conference yesterday, where in a keynote speech, he likened gaming to the food industry. In the food industry, you have vending machines, fast food, and sit-down restaurants. All of them coexist peacefully because they all offer something different for different situations.

Boyes says gaming is the same way. Mobile gaming is like vending machines – they offer bite-size gaming on the go. Most people play in 5-30-minute bursts. Tablet gaming and portable gaming (PS Vita and 3DS) are like fast food. They offer significantly more than vending machines, but are still quick on-the-go platforms that you may devote maybe 1-2 hours on at a time. And then lastly, we have console and PC gaming, which constitute the full-service, sit-down restaurants. If a person wants a full, enriching gaming experience, they sit down on their couch or chair, crank up their surround sound or throw on a headset, and fire up their console or PC. Like the food industry, there's no reason to think gamers want just one of those experiences every single time they feel like playing a game.

While it may seem odd at first to compare gaming to the food industry, I think Boyes' analogy is very apt. There's no reason all gaming platforms can't coexist peacefully. Mobile devices and tablets are still not capable of producing the hardcore gaming experiences you can get on the consoles and PC, and although the PS Vita may offer comparable graphics to the PS3, playing on a 5" screen is simply not the same as playing on a television or monitor.


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Torrent Download Sites Monitored by Copyright Enforcement Authorities

Posted: September 6, 2012 @ time: 02:07PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

To be honest, this really should not be a surprise to anyone. A recent research paper has looked at how torrents can be and are being monitored. As torrents are often associated with pirated media, it is not unexpected that groups would try to monitor their use, but exactly how this is done is curious to researchers.

Earlier research has shown that indirect monitoring methods can be and have been used to collect IP addresses of torrent downloaders, but now researchers are considering direct monitoring methods. Indirect monitor simply collects information from the torrent's swarm while direct monitoring can be involved. This could mean the monitoring client announces itself for a peer list to create outgoing connections or that it sits there and waits for incoming connections. Either way, the researchers believe they were able to identify monitors as the information they provided, when asked, was inconsistent.

The information the researchers collected about monitoring is not enough for them to conclusively state if copyright enforcement companies are indeed directly monitoring torrents. However they did find that only the top 100 torrents on The Pirate Bay were actually being monitored and public domain files were never monitored. Also, the information a torrent monitor collects, is likely not enough to go after an alleged pirate in a court of law. Instead this monitoring is probably to determine the scale of potentially illegal download activity.


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Killzone Trilogy Arrives October 23 - Includes Killzone HD

Posted: September 6, 2012 @ time: 03:51PM
Author: bp9801

PlayStation 3 owners will be in for a treat next month, as Sony announced the Killzone Trilogy arrives on October 23. This new addition to Son'y Collection lineup includes all three Killzone games and the multiplayer map packs for KZ2 and KZ3 for just $40. The original Killzone game has received the HD treatment, as it runs in 720p with improved visuals. Hopefully that means the game will run better overall, as the PS2 version suffered from bouts of incosistent framerates. Killzone HD has full Trophy support as well, for those who can never have enough Trophies. Stereoscopic 3D support will be included, but it is not know if all three will benefit or just the second and third games. Likewise for PS Move, but Sony should have more information soon. Killzone HD will also be available as a standalone title on the PlayStation Network, so gamers who already own the PS3 games will not beed to buy the Trilogy.


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Super-Stretchy Hydrogel Created

Posted: September 6, 2012 @ time: 04:06PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

For many materials, their ability to stretch and expand under compression and tension is a defining characteristic. Cartilage is like this and now researchers at Harvard University have created a hydrogel with the potential to be an artificial cartilage or spinal disk. It also could see use in soft robotics.

Hydrogels are in an interesting class of material which has a great deal of water in them and molecules with loose bonds between each other. Polymers, by comparison, typically have quite strong bonds between their molecules. This particular hydrogel is actually made from two common polymers which, on their own, are not very stretchy. However, when they are combined at the proper ratio, they form a network of bonds that will only pull apart slightly, while the hydrogel is stretched over a distance as much as 21 times its original length. When the hydrogel is allowed to relax, what bonds were broken will actually reform and heal, enabling the material to be stretched again.

The hydrogel also is biocompatible, which is important if it is ever to be used as artificial cartilage or some other implant. It is not limited to that one use though as artificial muscle could benefit from this stretchiness and it could even be utilized as a covering for wounds. Only time and further research will tell us what it is capable of.


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Synology Releases DS413j NAS

Posted: September 6, 2012 @ time: 04:50PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Synology has added a new product to its line of network attached storage devices. The DS413j is a four-bay DiskStation that can provide up to 16TB of space, and is designed for homes and offices. It should appeal to users that need some network storage that don't have the need, or budget, for larger rackmount systems. It is powered by the DiskStation 4.1 operating system that has a number of great features. Cloud Station allows users to sync files up to 5GB in size, Video Station gives users the ability to "manage and view videos locally and remotely," and Photo Station provides a photo sharing website. The DS413j provides access to users on Windows, Mac OS X, iOS devices, Android, Xbox 360, and PS3.


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Corsair Neutron SSDs Hit the Market

Posted: September 6, 2012 @ time: 05:13PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Corsair announced the Neutron series of SSD at Computex in June, and the drives are finally available for purchase. The fourth generation of Corsair SSD has already received much critical acclaim according to Senior VP and General Manager of PC Components at Corsair Thi La, "Top industry journalists have already given our Neutron SSDs rave reviews for delivery outstanding all-around performance." The Neutron and Neutron GTX are powered by the LM87800 controller from Link_A_Media Devices, a departure from the SandForce line of controllers that have been popular among SSD manufacturers. The Neutron GTX is capable of read and write speeds up to 555MB/s and 500MB/s, respectively, while the Neutron can reach 555MB/s and 370MB/s for the same operations. Both models are available now in capacities of 120GB and 240GB, with a 480GB model expected sometime this month. The 120GB Neutron will cost $119.99 while the 240GB will be $209.99, and the Neutron GTX features prices of $139.99 and $249.99.


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New Tool for Mining Social Media

Posted: September 6, 2012 @ time: 05:32PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

After a long enough time of knowing someone, one can get pretty accurate at predicting their friend's opinion. Now with so many people putting so many of their opinions online through blogs and social networking sites, it is possible to mine these posts and predict how a stranger would respond to something. Of course mining that much information is a very daunting task for any human, which is why computers are being taught to do this, and researchers at Concordia University have recently made a new tool for digging through the mass of data.

The greatest barriers to overcome for such software are related to informally-written language. Humans can have a tendency to digress from their point and throw in irrelevant information and even if the information is irrelevant, the sentences could be so poorly written that identifying their intent is unclear. Software has to be able to identify occurrences of these issues and respond appropriately, which BlogSum, the researchers' new tool, does with greater accuracy than its predecessors. Even when tested against human subjects, BlogSum was superior.

The ability to automatically analyze a blog post and then generate an accurate summary could prove very useful for a great many people. Researchers who use the Internet as a sample source of course would benefit, but also we may see such tools implemented in search engines, to bring up more appropriate results when requested.


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