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News Archives for March 2013

Hardware Roundup: Friday Edition

Posted: March 1, 2013 @ time: 07:01AM
Author: Nemo

It looks like a busy Friday leading into the weekend. In the roundup today there is another review on the OCZ Vector 256GB solid state drive for you to read. In cooling, we have a couple of heatsink reviews covering products from DeepCool and Noctua. SilverStone has managed to come up with a different design in some of its cases which have a motherboard orientation rotated 90 degrees from the standard configuration. The Raven 3 case maintains this unusual configuration while improving on its predecessors. Enjoy your reading this weekend!

Cases
SilverStone Raven 3 @ LanOC Reviews

Cooling
DeepCool IceBlade Pro V2.0 Heatsink @ Frostytech
Noctua Low Profile Heatsinks @ Bjorn3D

Input Devices
EpicGear Meduza Mouse & HybridPad Mousepad @ XSReviews

Mobile
Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX HD Smartphone @ Benchmark Reviews

Prebuilts
iBUYPOWER Revolt Gaming System @ ThinkComputers

Storage
OCZ Vector 256GB SATA III 2.5" SSD @ Madshrimps

Miscellany
Podcast #240 @ PC Perspective


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Math Gender Gap More Complicated than Thought

Posted: March 1, 2013 @ time: 08:29AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

A number of studies and educational resources have gone into closing the gender gap that shows male students outperforming their female counterparts in subjects such as math. As there is little to no physical explanation for this gap, people want to close it and are putting a fair amount of effort into doing so. Researchers at Brigham Young University though have found that the source of the gender gap may be more complicated than previously thought.

Most people would think that to identify if the gender gap exists they should simply give male and female students the same test and see who performs better. It turns out that while that does indeed reveal a gap, if you give the students a second test, the gap will disappear. The Brigham researchers had 24 elementary schools hold five-round contests the students participated in, and after the first round the score differences between the boys and girls disappeared. The researchers also found that when the teachers told the students, "It's not a race," thus reducing the pressure of the time constraint, the girls again performed as well as the boys.

The researchers suggest that while it may seem that girls shy away from competition, encouraging them to stick around will overcome any disparity between them and boys. Such a finding could have some very interesting impacts on how schools approach gender gaps in the future.

Source: Brigham Young University


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Steam Greenlight Spotlight: Stardew Valley

Posted: March 2, 2013 @ time: 03:57PM
Author: ClayMeow

Stardew Valley is an adventure RPG and country-life simulation rolled into one. It's a dose of Terraria and a dose of Farmville (but without the Facebook wall spam). Maybe it was my love of Terraria (sleeper hit of 2011) that drew me into this game, despite farming not being of particular interest to me. Though developer ConcernedApe doesn't list Terraria as an influence, it's quite obvious after watching the videos. But don't worry – this is no clone. Some of you may also see the influence of the Harvest Moon series, but I've never played those games, nor are they for PC, so I think Terraria and Farmville are more apt comparisons.

You control a boy or girl who has just moved to Stardew Valley to begin a new life. You'll get to customize your skin, hair, eye, and clothes colors, but aside from that, you start with nothing but an overgrown field. The goal of the game is to turn this land into a thriving farm. If you want to receive the coveted title of "Stardew Hero", you'll have to prove yourself worthy and beat out the competition in just two years (no mention of how that equates in real-world time). You'll gather resources, plant crops, fish, and more. However, the game doesn't end there – you can keep playing forever even after the competition ends.

But if farming simulations may not be your thing, don't worry, there's plenty more to do in Stardew Valley. Like Terraria, this is an open-world game. Not only do you have the whole overworld to explore, but there's also a vast, mysterious cave to traverse. It's in this cave where the game starts to look and act more and more like Terraria. Instead of explaining it to you myself, here's what ConcernedApe wrote about the cave system:

The Stardew Valley caves are uniquely generated each time you start a new character. Your progress in the cave is saved, so you don't have to worry about making it to the bottom in one day. As you dig deeper and deeper, you'll encounter new and dangerous monsters, different environments, valuable gemstones, raw materials for crafting and upgrading tools, and mysteries to be uncovered.

Within the cave (and maybe above it too?), you can come across a variety of ancient artifacts that you can then turn into the local archaeology office for reward. Since ConcernedApe says "strive to discover every artifact!", expect there to be an achievement tied to finding them all – and also expect that to be no small task.

If you prefer a little character interaction and narrative in your RPGs, Stardew Valley has you covered there as well. There are over 30 unique characters living in the Valley, with their own daily schedules, secrets, and of course problems they need help with. But what good is starting a new life if you cannot share it with a loved one? Stardew Valley will feature ten bachelors and bachelorettes looking for some loving. Date around, find the perfect match for you, and marry him or her (same sex marriages are confirmed as possible as well). After you do, your new spouse will live on the farm with you and help you with chores!

While it seems like I may have listed a lot of features already, I'm not done yet. What good is an RPG without character progression? As you progress in the game, you'll level up and earn points to distribute into six different areas of expertise: farming, mining, digging, fishing, foraging, and luck. You'll also learn new crafting and cooking recipes, with over 100 recipes awaiting your discovery. While some recipes will yield useful items like temporary stat boosts or furnaces, you'll also be able to craft a variety of decorative items to furnish your house.

As you can see, there is a lot to do in Stardew Valley, but I left out what many may feel is the best part – the game will feature drop-in/drop-out online and LAN co-op for up to four players! Help out on your friend's farm, have him or her help on yours, or work entirely together the whole time. And yes, if the NPCs don't do it for you, you'll be able to marry another player, though I guess you'd then lose the benefit of an NPC to help with chores. Stardew Valley is expected to release some time this year and cost around $10 USD.

Previous Spotlight: Hammerwatch. Favorite the OCC Steam Greenlight Spotlight Collection. And don't forget to visit the forum thread.


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Zotac Updates GeForce GTX 680 AMP! Edition

Posted: March 3, 2013 @ time: 07:04AM
Author: CheeseMan42

Zotac is changing the configuration of its GeForce GTX 680 AMP! Edition with a new cooling solution and an included copy of Assassin's Creed III. The new Dual Silencer cooling promises to help increase performance by keeping your card cooler than previous cooling options while running quieter as well. The AMP! Edition has a GPU speed of 1176MHz and 2GB of GDDR5 that runs at 6608MHz. The card also features a number of NVIDIA technologies including GPU Boost and Surround compatibility. An included download voucher for Assassin's Creed III will give users a copy of the popular game.


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Thermaltake Releases Urban S21 Case

Posted: March 3, 2013 @ time: 07:25AM
Author: CheeseMan42

The Urban S21 is a new mid tower case from Thermaltake with steel construction and a black exterior. A small transparent window is included on the side panel and up to five 120mm fans can be installed to provide your cooling needs. ATX and Micro ATX motherboards can be installed and CPU coolers up to 155mm in height can be installed while GPUs are limited to 320mm. Up to three 5.25" drives, one 2.5" drive, and six 3.5" drives can be installed.


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Hardware Roundup: Monday Edition

Posted: March 4, 2013 @ time: 05:08AM
Author: Nemo

Today's roundup includes a look at the Shuttle Barebone DS61 which looks nothing like the Shuttle LAN boxes of the past, but you will need to provide your own Ivy Bridge or Sandy Bridge CPU SODIMM RAM 2.5" storage drive and operating system to get up and running. We have two laptop cooling device reviews covering units from Rosewill and DeepCool. There's plenty more in the roundup to get you going this week including reviews of Seasonic Platinum Series Fanless 460W power supply, Steelseries Flux Luxury headset, the Fractal Design Define R4 mid-tower case and more.

Cases
Fractal Design Define R4 @ LanOC Reviews

Cooling
Cooling your laptop: Rosewill Cooling Pad @ Computer Ed
DeepCool M3 Notebook Cooling Pad @ Benchmark Reviews

Modding
Case Mod Friday: Project Steampunk’d TJ11 @ ThinkComputers

Notebooks/Tablets
Tablets of 2013: Nexus vs. Surface vs. iPad @ TechSpot

Power Supplies
Seasonic Platinum Series Fanless 460W Power Supply @ PC Perspective

Prebuilts
Shuttle Barebone DS61 @ Madshrimps

Speakers/Headphones
Steelseries Flux Luxury Headset @ XSReviews


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Capcom Releases Free Resident Evil 6 PC Benchmark Test

Posted: March 4, 2013 @ time: 07:53AM
Author: edwardquilo

Resident Evil 6 is steadily crawling its way towards its March 22 release date for the PC, and to help prepare gamers for the undead onslaught Capcom and NVIDIA are offering a standalone benchmark that's available to download for free. The test stresses PCs using what's called the Mercenaries mode from the console version, except in the benchmark there are a lot more targets for the characters Leon and Helena to shoot at. Suffice it to say, anything lower than an NVIDIA GeForce 8800GTS and Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 Ghz (or AMD Athlon X2 2.8 Ghz) will likely result in abysmal benchmark scores. To get halfway decent benchmark ratings you will need an Intel Core 2 Quad 2.6 Ghz (or AMD PhenomTM II X4 3 Ghz) and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 (or its AMD equivalent). 

Source: PC Gamer


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Spinning Supermassive Black Hole Reveals History

Posted: March 4, 2013 @ time: 08:10AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Black holes pose several interesting questions for researchers due to their apparent ability to grab hold of information, light, and matter, and never let any of it go. The truth is though that the information can escape, but you have to be clever with how to find it. Researchers at the European Space Agency and Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have recently managed to read some of the secrets of the supermassive black hole at the center of galaxy NGC 1365.

Due to the laws of gravity, black holes are actually somewhat easy to describe as all you need is its mass and spin, though of course how it interacts with the rest of the Universe can be very complex. The mass of these particular black hole has already been found to be several million solar masses, but its spin was a little fuzzy, which is why the researchers aimed the XMM-Newton and NuStar satellite telescopes at it. These observatories are both able to collect X-rays, such as those emitted by matter shortly before it falls into the black hole. By determining the distance of that matter from the black hole, the researchers were able to calculate its spin, and it is fast at relativistic speeds.

As a result of knowing the black hole's rate of spin, the researchers can determine how it must have grown to its current size. If the black hole and been feeding on mass that randomly entered it, that randomness would have slowed it down, but because it is rotating so quickly, it must have been fed by a relatively uniform stream of mass. As supermassive black holes have a great impact on the galaxies they are within, this information also tells us about the galaxy and its history.

Sources: European Space Agency and Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics


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Smartphone Sales to Exceed Feature Phone Sales for the First Time in 2013

Posted: March 4, 2013 @ time: 10:29AM
Author: EuroFight

The worldwide sales of smartphones are expected to surpass those of standard feature phones this year, for the first time ever. The main contributing factors for this being the falling cost of smartphones, as well as the growth of 4G mobile networks. This year, over 910 million smartphones are expected to be sold, which is just over 50% of the total shipments in the industry. By 2017, this figure is expected to increase to 1.5 billion sales.

The bulk of these devices will be bought in developing countries such as China, Brazil, and India as smartphones become more and more accessible to the population. According to the IDC, sales of smartphones in these countries are also expected to exceed sales of smartphones in the US this year. This news will likely be gladly received by the big smartphone manufacturers such as Samsung and Apple, who have seen sales of their smartphones explode in recent years.

Source: CNET.com


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Information Unexpectedly Preserved in Quantum Action

Posted: March 4, 2013 @ time: 10:43AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Ice cubes are crystals with a nice, defined internal structure, but when they melt into water, the information of that structure is lost to the chaotic motion of the molecules. This is how it is with many actions in classical mechanics, but is it also true of those in quantum mechanics? According to researchers at the Vienna University of Technology, no, sometimes a quantum system can remember its original state, even as it decays into disorder.

The quantum system in question is a special one called a Bose-Einstein condensate. What makes it special is that every atom within it takes on the same wave function, so in effect the condensate behaves as though it were a single, giant atom. Condensates only exist under special conditions, including low temperature, so when one warms it 'melts' into a more traditional material, but it does not directly transition from the order to disorder. Instead a condensate will pause at a somewhat stable prethermalized state, and at this state it still remembers what it was like to be a condensate.

Beyond this unexpected memory, this discovery is very intriguing because of how long the prethermalized state seems to last. Instead of depending on temperature or pressure, the lifetime of this state is determined by previously unknown of length scale, which could have great significance in quantum mechanics as a whole.

Source: Vienna University of Technology


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Seagate to Cease Production on 7200RPM 2.5-Inch Traditional HDDs

Posted: March 4, 2013 @ time: 01:30PM
Author: bp9801

Seagate is one of the largest and most well-known hard drive manufacturers around, but later this year some of its products are getting retired. The company recently announced it is ceasing production on all 7200RPM 2.5" hard drives by the end of 2013. Seagate will still offer 5400RPM 2.5" drives, but the 7200RPM models no longer make sense as the market shifts to alternatives products. Solid-state drives and solid-state hybrid drives (SSHD) offer far greater performance over a 7200RPM drive, which is something Seagate has noticed. Its third-generation SSHDs are set to arrive later this year, and is what Seagate will promote to users wanting the speed of an SSD yet the capacity of an HDD.

Even though Seagate won't be making any more 7200RPM 2.5" HDDs once the year ends, there should still be plenty of stock to go around for a while after. It may be a good idea to stock up at that point.

Source: X-Bit Labs


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Burning Graphene Micro-Supercapacitors

Posted: March 4, 2013 @ time: 02:52PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

It seems the world wants ever smaller technology as phones and tablets are made more and more powerful with every generation. Of course some technologies are not as easily miniaturized for use in these smaller platforms, including batteries and capacitors. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles however have developed a new way to create micro-supercapacitors that has great promise.

Personally, I have never used a LightScribe disc, though at least one of my burners supported the technology, but one of these researchers must have. The researchers adhered a piece of plastic to a DVD and then coated it in graphite oxide. When laser light strikes graphite oxide, a photo-thermal effect takes place and converts the compound into graphene, and as the LightScribe technology allows the laser to trace arbitrary patterns, the researchers were able to burn micro-supercapacitors onto the disk.

After less than 30 minutes, the researchers had successfully created over 100 micro-supercapacitors on the disk, using a commercially available LightScribe burner. Altogether, this technique represents a simple and cost-effective means to create graphene micro-supercapacitors, so we may one day see them used to store the energy for future devices.

Source: University of California, Los Angeles


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NVIDIA Releases New Beta Drivers

Posted: March 4, 2013 @ time: 03:36PM
Author: CheeseMan42

After the release of the latest drivers from NVIDIA that optimized performance for Crysis 3, NVIDIA got to work on the GeForce 314.14 beta drivers in anticipation of the next set of new games. Targeting games like SimCity, StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, and Resident Evil 6 these new drivers will boost performance up to 23%. Current games that will see an improvements include Sniper Elite V2 which saw a 20% improvement when played on a GeForce GTX 680. The drivers are available for download immediately and NVIDIA hopes to optimize the process for the future through the use of the GeForce Experience.

Source: NVIDIA


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Hardware Roundup: Tuesday Edition

Posted: March 5, 2013 @ time: 06:08AM
Author: Nemo

Our Tuesday roundup has another case from Fractal Design, this time we get a chance to check out the Node 304 Mini-ITX tower computer chassis. Kingston's 10th Anniversary HyperX DDR3-2400 16GB memory kit is also reviewed, along with a hybrid all-in-one/tablet from Sony. There are additional reviews in our roundup today and all you have to do  is follow the links posted below to find out all about these products.

Cases
Fractal Design Node 304 @ LanOC Reviews

Memory
Kingston HyperX 10th Anniversary DDR3-2400 16GB Memory Kit @ ThinkComputers

Notebooks/Tablets
Sony VAIO Tap 20 All-in-One Touchscreen Computer and Tablet @ PC Perspective

Speakers/Headphones
Thermaltake eSPORTS SHOCK One Gaming Headset @ Bjorn3D

Video
2012 AMD and NVIDIA Driver Performance Summary @ [H]ardOCP


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Serendipity Causes Astronomy Textbooks to be Rewritten

Posted: March 5, 2013 @ time: 08:06AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Usually scientific discovery comes after months and even years of effort, but every now and then someone just gets lucky and has something happen right in front of them. That happened last year when plans were changed for the twin Van Allen satellites that were put into orbit just days before. Typically satellites do not become fully operational after being sent up but are ramped up over months, but the researchers at Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of New Hampshire skipped ahead and caught someone no one had even theorized could happen.

First discovered fifty-five years ago, the Van Allen Belts are areas of intense radiation held in place by the Earth's magnetic field. The radiation is so intense that the belts must be studied for the safety of astronauts that may cross the belts, which is why the Van Allen satellites were created. They are not the first satellites to study the belts though, and one of their predecessors was about to be destroyed, so the researchers prematurely turned on sensors to have some overlap between the new and old satellites. It just so happened that shortly after that a solar storm filled the belts with more radiation and created a completely unexpected third belt.

Though the Van Allen belts have been studied for decades, no theory had predicted conditions that would lead to a third belt being formed, and because of that all future astronomy textbooks will have to be rewritten to reflect that. They will likely be rewritten again once theory explains why this happens.

Sources: Goddard Space Flight Center and University of New Hampshire


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3.5-inch Desktop Hybrid Drive Added to Seagate Range

Posted: March 5, 2013 @ time: 10:40AM
Author: EuroFight

On Monday, Seagate released its first 3.5" desktop hard disk featuring its hybrid drive technology. The drive combines NAND flash technology commonly used in SSDs with traditional magnetic disks to enable higher capacity drives that still provide a performance boost over standard hard disks. This also gives consumers faster disk access times, often comparable to full SSDs, while maintaining a low cost-per-megabyte.

This release is part of Seagate's recent refresh of its hard disk line, in which it also announced it will cease production of traditional 2.5" hard disks, in order to focus on hybrid drive technology. The introduction of the new 3.5" hybrid drive, in conjunction with the retirement of the 2.5" hard drive line may signify the beginning of an industry-wide transition towards hybrid SSD technology.

Source: PCWorld.com


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New Superconductor Made with Superlattice

Posted: March 5, 2013 @ time: 11:07AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

For as long as scientists have known superconductors exist, they have been experimenting with them to make them part of everyday technology. In some places they are, such as MRI machines and some Maglev trains, but their need of low temperatures inhibits them from being used in many situations. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Florida State University, and the University of Michigan however have recently created an artificial superconductor that may help others create room-temperature versions.

This new material is actually comprised of 24 layers that alternate between a layer of a pnictide superconductor and strontium titanate, an oxide. Pnictide supercondutors contain nitrogen atoms or other elements in the same periodic family. Combining these different compounds into a single material is very challenging because of their different molecular structures, which is why the resulting material is called a superlattice. The researchers succeeded though and created a superconductor that could potentially be used as a superconducting quantum interference device, as well as further our understanding of superconductivity.

Specifically it is the knowledge of how electrons behave at the interfaces within a superlattice that could lead to improved superconductors. There is reason to believe it is these interfaces that will lead to a new era for superconductivity research.

Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison


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Thermaltake Unveils the Level 10 M Gaming Headset

Posted: March 5, 2013 @ time: 11:36AM
Author: bp9801

Thermaltake has been slowly expanding its Level 10 product line, and today it's branched out into the world of audio. The company announced the new Level 10 M gaming headset today, which has once again been designed with help from BMW Group DesignworksUSA. The Level 10 M gaming headset features square ear covers hiding more conventional oval-shaped ear cups and 40mm Neodymium magnets to deliver the audio. The headset features bilateral connectivity, which means you can plug in the cable to either ear cup to suit your preference. An external in-line controller is included for precise volume adjustments. Currently, the headset is only offered in a stereo configuration, though a USB version with DTS 5.1 surround sound is planned to arrive later. Each headset comes with a three meter cable for plenty of give while gaming, plus the microphone can swing up and out of the way when you aren't yelling at your teammates.

Thermaltake's Level 10 M gaming headset is due to arrive in late May or early June for $150. The USB version should launch a bit later in August for $190. Black and white are the two colors currently announced, though red and green are planned, too.

Source: Thermaltake and Engadget


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Texas Instruments to Provide HP with ARM SoCs for Servers

Posted: March 5, 2013 @ time: 01:06PM
Author: EuroFight

Texas Instruments has agreed to provide ARM-based SoCs (System-on-Chips) to Hewlett-Packard as part of its plans to build low-power servers. The chips will be based around quad-core ARM Cortex A15 processors, and will include cores dedicated to particular tasks such as network processing and I/O. HP hopes that support from Texas will allow them to construct a new standard of low-power servers aimed at cloud and telecommunications networks.

HP is not the only server vendor that is experimenting with ARM-based servers, companies such as Dell are also working on bringing ARM technology into the server market. Chip manufacturer AMD has also expressed an interest in building ARM-based server chips, despite the current market being dominated by standard x86 processors. One of the reasons for this is that the x86 architecture is much better at handling database and similar tasks, while ARM chips are better at handling large volumes of search requests. 

Source: PCWorld.com


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Humble Bundle with Android 5 Launches

Posted: March 5, 2013 @ time: 01:41PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

With the Humble Bundle Mojam 2 having ended just two weeks ago, the company has released another Humble Bundle, this time a sequel to is Android bundle series: The Humble Bundle with Android 5. All games in the bundle are available in Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android versions, with no DRM and all but one comes with its soundtrack. As usual you can pay what you want for the bundle and decide how much money goes to the developers, to Humble Bundle itself, and to either the Electronic Frontier Foundation or Child's Play charities.

Included in the bundle at any price are Beat Hazard Ultra, a 'twin-stick shooter' that creates levels based on your music library, Dynamite Jack, which arms with you unlimited bombs as you try to escape, Solar 2, in which you start as an asteroid and try to build yourself up to a black hole, and NightSky HD, a physics puzzler. By beating the average price you also get Dungeon Defenders, an action, tower defense, RPG, and Super Hexagon, which has you trying to avoid incoming lines as the screen rotates and more.

As usual the bundle is available for purchase for two weeks, and if history is any indicator, we may see more games added to the beat-the-average group. Currently the average price is $6.18.

 

 

Source: Humble Bundle


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Thief Announced for PC and Next-Gen Consoles - Due in 2014

Posted: March 5, 2013 @ time: 02:07PM
Author: bp9801

Thief 4 is one of those games that's been talked about and hinted at for a while, but nothing definitive ever came from it. However, all of that changes today as Square Enix have formally announced Thief 4, or just Thief. In development at Eidos Montreal, Thief once again places gamers in the body of Garrett, who is out to steal just about anything in the "Gothic, industrial metropolis known simply as the City." Things are a little complicated in the City, as social tensions are high thanks to a plague and the tyrannical Baron. Attention must be paid to your surroundings if you're to survive, with multiple paths present throughout each level.

Game Informer has the exclusive scoop on Thief in its April issue, which should be arriving soon if you're a subscriber. In the meantime, you can check out the coverage trailer below to thoroughly whet your appetite. Thief is slated to arrive in 2014 for the PC and PS4, with other next-gen consoles also on the agenda.

Source: Game Informer


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Intel Holding Winter Giveaway

Posted: March 5, 2013 @ time: 02:11PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Intel is holding a giveaway featuring fifteen limited edition snowboards for prizes. A purchase of a qualifying Intel Core Unlocked processor will enable you to enter the contest. While supplies last, Intel is also giving away an Extreme Edition beanie.

Source: Intel


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Patriot Announces AERO Mobile Hard Drive

Posted: March 5, 2013 @ time: 02:22PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Patriot has announced a new wireless storage solution, the AERO mobile hard drive. The AERO is a portable storage unit that can stream to all of your new mobile gadgets, from smartphones to tablets. The Patriot Connect app is compatible with all major mobile operating systems and is available for free. Internet pass through allows up to five devices to share the same connection while accessing files. Senior Director of Product Management Mike Kroll said, “In regards to storage, this demands major product evolution and Patriot is on the forefront of design and innovation. With the launch of AERO, I am proud to say Patriot has the largest and most compelling mobile storage lineup; from full featured all-in-one solutions to the award winning Gauntlet Node wireless enclosure.” The AERO will be available early next month in capacities of 500GB and 1TB at a price of $159.99 and $199.99, respectively. It is compatible with 802.11 B/G/N Wi-Fi, features WPA2-PSK, WPA-PSK, and WEP encryption, and the rechargeable battery will provide up to six hours of streaming.


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Roadmap for Artificial Leafs Created

Posted: March 5, 2013 @ time: 03:02PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

While humanity has been struggling to capture the energy of the Sun, Nature has perfected its own method of doing so within every plant. For that reason, researchers have been trying to mimic plants for our solar power designs, and in some cases this includes replicating the purpose of photosynthesis; creating a fuel that can be stored. Now researchers at MIT have developed a detailed roadmap of the challenges to make an artificial leaf, which will hopefully lead to better forms of the technology in the future.

Instead of producing a more complicated carbohydrate, the artificial leafs being considered would separate the hydrogen and oxygen atoms in water, for storage and transport to whatever device can utilize the gases. The current designs are a combination of a solar panel and catalysts to help split the water, but are not very efficient. To help increase efficiencies, the researchers created the roadmap which identifies every imaginable challenge an artificial leaf may present, and does so in such a way that specific components of the device could be tested and optimized separately. That means one would not need to completely build a leaf to know if a new catalyst would be effective.

For an artificial leaf to be useful, it will have to be at least 10% efficient, which is more than double what MIT has previous created. The next step in the roadmap's research is to create a more efficient leaf though, so perhaps that minimum will be met.

 

 

Source: MIT


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Hardware Roundup: Wednesday Edition

Posted: March 6, 2013 @ time: 06:40AM
Author: Nemo

There often seems to be an area of weak coverage in our wireless setups, especially when trying to go through floors or multiple walls. Today, we have a review of a range extender from TP_LINK designed to boost wireless signals in those hard to reach areas. The PowerColor PCS+ HD 7870 Myst Edition video card is covered again in today's roundup. Neoseeker has a review of a pair of gaming mice from ROCCAT today as well. Be sure to check out the rest of the reviews by following the links below.

Cases
Rosewill Armor EVO E-ATX Computer Case @ Benchmark Reviews

Gadgets
5 Gadgets To Look Out For In 2013 @ ThinkComputers

Input Devices
ROCCAT Kone XTD & Kone Pure Gaming Mice @ Neoseeker

Networking
TP-LINK TL-WA850RE 300Mbps Universal Wireless N Range Extender @ Madshrimps

Storage/Hard Drives
ioSafe N2 - The Performance NAS is now Disaster-proof @ PC Perspective

Video
Powercolor HD 7870 Myst Edition @ Bjorn3D


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Broad-Spectrum Nanotube Photodetector Built

Posted: March 6, 2013 @ time: 07:26AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Many materials are being examined for their photoelectric properties, including carbon nanotubes, for potential use in optoelectronic devices and solar cells. Previous efforts with nanotubes however have had mixed results, but that has changed now. Researchers at Rice University and Sandia National Laboratory have created a broad-spectrum photodetector out of nanotubes that could revolutionize multiple kinds of technologies.

The previous work with nanotubes for optoelectronics focused on single nanotubes, which react with a limited number of wavelengths, and random networks of nanotubes that worked well, but were hard to explain. This work is a kind of middle-ground as all of the nanotubes are the same length, but vary in width, and with so many of them connected to two electrodes, the resulting carpet absorbs a lot of light. It actually captures infrared photons, ultraviolet photons, and every frequency of photon between, which is extremely impressive. All of this is also done at room temperatures and without a special vacuum.

Potentially we could see this technology used for advanced solar panels but also infrared cameras, which typically require low temperatures. By operating at room temperatures, we could see this used to create a more easily operated infrared light sensors for use by the military.

Source: Rice University


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Microsoft Fined $732 Million Over Browser Choice Lawsuit

Posted: March 6, 2013 @ time: 11:14AM
Author: EuroFight

The EU has fined Microsoft $732 million after it was deemed Microsoft failed to complete a 2009 settlement that required it to offer users a choice of web browsers. The lawsuit was originally filed by Opera Software, the company that develops the Opera web browser that accused Microsoft of forcing users to use Internet Explorer when Windows was installed. Opera Software went on to win this lawsuit, and eventually formed a settlement with Microsoft in late 2009.

Microsoft agreed to show users a screen showing four of the most popular Internet Explorer alternatives, in order to allow users to choose the browser they wanted. Microsoft did not, however, live up to this claim, as users of Windows 7 SP1 would not see this message between May 2011 and July 2012. For this reason, EU antitrust officials have fined Microsoft for breaching the terms of the settlement.

Source: PCWorld.com


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Controlling Light on a Superconducting Chip

Posted: March 6, 2013 @ time: 12:26PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

It may not be soon, but one day we will have superconducting computer chips within quantum computers, driving the most complex algorithms man has created. There is still a great deal of research to be done before that can become a reality though, but thankfully it is being done. Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara have recently built a superconducting chip with a useful feature; a superconducting switch.

While superconductors are most often associated with electrons, as the particles will flow without resistance along them, in this chip the superconductors were used to control photons, the quanta of light. To capture and hold photons, the researchers built a superconducting cavity and connected to it a superconducting switch. This switch could be opened and closed faster than the lifetime of a photon within a cavity and could also be left open indefinitely, like a shutter.

What makes the incorporation of the switch so important is that for the chip to be useful, it must be possible to send a single bit of data of a time, and no more, which is accomplished by closing the switch at the right time. The next step for this technology is to develop a way transfer photons between two cavities over a distance, with the ultimate goal being a reliable means to send a photon from Earth to an orbiting satellite.

Source: University of California, Santa Barbara


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Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter Launches with $900,000 Goal

Posted: March 6, 2013 @ time: 12:57PM
Author: bp9801

Planescape: Torment fans can rejoice, as a spiritual successor is on the way at long last. InXile Entertainment have launched a Kickstarter for Torment: Tides of Numenera, which sees many of the original Planescape designers return. The new game runs on Unity and is DRM-free for the PC, Mac, and Linux. It takes place in the world of Numenera; a land created by Planescape designer Monte Cook. Torment continues the legacy set by Planescape, even if the setting is completely different. It's still a single player game played from an isometric perspective, where choices and actions carry immense weight. There are NPCs who can join your character's journey along the way, each with their own motivations and desires. The dialog system and approach of Torment is similar to the original Planescape, too, so fans should feel right at home.

InXile is creating Tides of Numenera on four foundation pillars based on the experiences in Planescape: a deep, thematically satisfying story; a unique world; a personal narrative; and real consequences. The "philosophical underpinnings" drive the game from both a narrative and mechanical standpoint, where your actions and choices form your weapons. Monte Cook's Numenera is a fantastic world with "imaginative locations" where magic is something else entirely that should surprise gamers. The story is character-driven and epic in feel, although personal from a narrative view. Nontradtional companions and characters can join you on the way, but like I mentioned, each have their own motivations and desires. That personal story also means your choices shape how the game ends, with every action you make has a real consequence. No two playthroughs will ever be quite the same, and inXile isn't going to shove you down a predetermined path.

Since Torment: Tides of Numenera isn't a direct sequel, it isn't necessary to have played the original Planescape to understand what's going on. There will be some nods to it, but Torment is its own game set in the Ninth World of Numenera. Its rules are based on the ones created by Cook for Numenera, which is a table-top RPG successfully funded on Kickstarter last year, but it's adapted specifically for the computer. Combat is connected to the overall story and will be an "engaging and entertaining" part of the game. Like the original Planescape, most or maybe even all of the combat can be avoided.

Torment: Tides of Numenera has a $900,000 goal on Kickstarter, and as of now is less than $10,000 away from reaching it already reached it. Keep in mind it only went live in the past six hours or so. Like any good Kickstarter, there are plenty of tiers for all the donations. A minimum of $25 gets you a digital copy of the game and its manual, though the early bird $20 amount for the same items still has ~4,800 spots left. Other tiers include more items, with the $35 one adding in the game's soundtrack and digital art book, $45 including a digital copy of Wasteland 2, $65 features a boxed copy of the game and manual, plus digital versions, while beta access and your name in the credits are included at $80 (or $75 if you're one of the remaining ~1,500 at the early bird price). Bigger donations mean bigger prizes, like a full-color version of the Numenera corebook, the opportunity to write the history and description for an in-game item, design and name an NPC, a design call with Brian Fargo, and even a bust of an in-game character.

InXile Entertainment is still at work on Wasteland 2, and if you're worried about any problems with the two games, fear not. The studio's pre-production team will begin on Torment: Tides of Numenera while the rest of the staff wraps up Wasteland 2, which is perfect considering that pre-production team has long been finished. Torment: Tides of Numenera's Kickstarter ends on April 5, so be sure to get your donations in before then, especially if you want an early bird tier.

Source: Kickstarter


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Patriot Announces Supersonic Mini USB 3.0 Drive

Posted: March 6, 2013 @ time: 03:53PM
Author: CheeseMan42

The newest in portable storage from Patriot is the Supersonic Mini, an extremely small USB 3.0 drive capable of transfer speeds up to 80MB/s. The drive is housed in a rubber casing to ensure durability and to protect the drive from daily wear and tear. Product Manager of Flash Storage Meng Jay Choo said, “The Patriot Supersonic Mini is one of the smallest USB 3.0 form factors available and offers excellent speeds for large file transfers. Never again will you have to sacrifice performance for portability.” The Supersonic Mini will be available in early April at an MSRP of $19.99 and $29.99 for capacities of 16GB and 32GB, respectively.


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'Space Invaders' Galaxy Discovered?

Posted: March 6, 2013 @ time: 04:01PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Not quite. Researchers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have captured a rather unique image of a galaxy shaped like an enemy from the classic game, Space Invaders. This image is not the result of a galactic merger though, like other oddly shaped galaxies, but by the intense gravitational lensing of a galaxy cluster.

One of the consequences of the Theory of General Relativity is that gravity bends space and time around massive objects. If the mass is great enough, the warping of space can cause light to be bent around the object, producing a lensing effect. This lensing can be very useful for astronomers though because it can amplify the light from a galaxy so distant it would normally be invisible. In this case the lensing has distorted a galaxy so much that it is half mirrored, giving it the eyes and space of a Space Invaders enemy. This same galaxy is also visible, without the distortion in the same image.

Another interesting object caught in this image is a 'weeping' galaxy, if you will, though this is not related to the gravitational lensing. It appears the galaxy is passing through a dense volume of intergalactic gas, which is pulling chunks of the galaxy away. These chunks are being heated up in the process, causing them to glow with infrared light.

Sources: European Space Agency and NASA


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Futuremark Hosting Overclocking Contest

Posted: March 6, 2013 @ time: 04:12PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Futuremark is partnering with Galaxy and KFA2 to throw an overclocking contest in celebration of the release of the newest version of the 3DMark benchmark. The contest is running until April 3 and will offer a total of $16,000 in prizes. There will be a separate contest for each of the three benchmarks contained within the new 3DMark, Ice Storm, Cloud Gate, and Fire Strike. Each benchmark has a different set of rules and all have a $3,000 first prize. Three winners will be chosen at random each week to win a Galaxy GeForce GTX 650 Ti GC GPU.

Source: Futuremark


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Hardware Roundup: Thursday Edition

Posted: March 7, 2013 @ time: 05:40AM
Author: Nemo

In our roundup today we have a review of the TT eSports Theron gaming mouse designed in collaboration with Taiwanese StarCraft II pro-gamer Softball. We also get another look at the NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan video card. Swiftech is an established name in cooling and today we have a review covering its H220 self-contained liquid cooling system. We finish things off with a look at the performance and image quality of the Aliens: Colonial Marines gaming title.

Cooling
Swiftech H220 Water Cooling System @ ThinkComputers

Gaming
Aliens: Colonial Marines Performance and IQ @ [H]ardOCP

Input Devices
TT eSports x Softball @ XSReviews

Video
Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan @ TechSpot


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Video Games Improve Senior's Emotional Well-Being

Posted: March 7, 2013 @ time: 07:24AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Many people tend to associate video games with the younger generations, as we are the ones who grew up not only with arcades but also game consoles. Someday though we will be the older generation and based on a recent study, it may be a good thing for us to keep playing in our old age. Researchers at North Carolina State University studied the gaming habits of current senior citizens and discovered a correlation with their emotional and social well-being.

Throughout our lives it is important to have a positive sense of well-being, and as we get older it can be particularly important as it can help keep us active. The researchers decided to see if video games can help with that by surveying 140 persons over the age of 62 for their well-being and gaming habits. Within that group, 61% admitted to playing video games occasionally and 35% reported playing at least once a week. It turns out that all of the senior gamers, regardless of how often they gamed, showed higher levels of well-being, while those who do not game reported more negative emotions and levels of depression.

This study indicates that gaming may be a positive activity for successful aging, but the researchers are not going to leave it at that. Next they want to see if video games can improve mental health in older adults.

Source: North Carolina State University


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Samsung Invests 10.4 Billion Yen into LCD Manufacturer Sharp

Posted: March 7, 2013 @ time: 10:30AM
Author: EuroFight

Samsung has announced that it will be investing the equivalent of $111.5 million into display manufacturer Sharp, giving Samsung a 3% stake in the company. This investment will provide Samsung with a stable supply of LCD panels for use in its TVs. Sharp will invest $73.7 million of the investment into developing new LCD technology, as well as a further $34.5 million into other areas of its business over the next two years.

Samsung is not the only large company who has recently invested into Sharp. Qualcomm also agreed to invest up to $120 million into Sharp to fund development of next-generation MEMS (Microelectromechanical System) displays in December last year. Apple is also have said to have invested over $2 billion into Sharp after it ran into financial difficulty during the last quarter. The deals that have been struck with the company may be enough to keep the display manufacturer in business despite the current economic market and stiff competition from its Chinese and Korean rivals.

Source: Tom's Hardware


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Mimicking a Magnetic Field to Cool Electronics

Posted: March 7, 2013 @ time: 11:08AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Just as important as the CPU in your computer is what you use to keep it cool. If the chip gets too hot it can start to throw errors, which is bad for a personal computer and unacceptable for a server, which is why so much money is spent on cooling server farms. A team of researchers from multiple institutions including Elhuyar Fundazioa and Cambridge University have recently found a new way to apply a cooling method that may ease cooling costs.

Scientists have known about the magnetocaloric effect, which relates magnetic fields to a material's temperature and how it could be used for cooling devices for some time. Due to the required magnetic fields though, such a cooling method has been unusable within computers as the fields could disrupt operation. What the researchers have discovered is that it is possible to mimic the effect of a magnetic field on a material by straining it. That means it should be possible to cool a material using the magnetocaloric effect without risking any damage to the components around it.

Conveniently, this technology should exist at the same scale as modern electronics, so if it becomes possible to produce, it will fit right in with computer components. Technically it could also be scaled up for large-scale cooling, like refrigerators, but doing so would not be economical at that size.

Source: Elhuyar Fundazioa


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New Universal Laptop Charger from Cooler Master

Posted: March 7, 2013 @ time: 03:06PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Cooler Master has announced the latest addition to its line of miscellaneous electronic accessories, the SNA universal laptop charger. The SNA is available in charging capacities of 65W and 90W in a slim design, making it perfect for taking wherever you may be going. Ten tips are included to accommodate a large number of laptops and help eliminate the need for having multiple proprietary chargers. The 65W model will retail for $39.99 and the 90W will cost $54.99.

Source: Cooler Master


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Marker for Dyslexia Discovered

Posted: March 7, 2013 @ time: 03:49PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Dyslexia is a not uncommon learning impairment that affects one's ability to read. For decades researchers have been trying to understand what causes it and how to treat it, so the estimated 10% of society can overcome it. Researchers at Northwestern University have recently reported that they appear to have found a biological marker for the disorder.

Previous work has found that dyslexia, a disorder that specifically affects hearing, is related to one's auditory skills. What the Northwestern researchers have done is identify a relationship between a child's reading ability and how their brain encodes sounds. To find the relationship the researchers measured the children's automatic brain wave responses as they listened to speech sounds. The best readers showed greater consistency when encoding the sounds than the poorer readers, and the researchers believe the encoding stabilizes when a child successfully learns a sound's meaning.

Luckily the researchers also found a way to treat the dyslexic students by fitting them with assisted listening devices. These devices exclusively transmit their teacher's voice to their ears and block out other sounds, allowing the children to better focus on the sounds. After just one year the students no longer needed the devices to maintain their reading proficiency.

Source: Northwestern University


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Motorola to Cut Up to 1,200 Employees in US, China, and India

Posted: March 7, 2013 @ time: 11:55PM
Author: bp9801

Some not so good news for Motorola is on the way, as up to ten percent of its workforce in the US, China, and India could be cut soon. The company has been making reductions since last summer, and this upcoming batch is just another part of the overall plan. That ten percent accounts for about 1,200 employees across the three regions, which is never easy to deal with in the current economic landscape. The company did say it's helping its employees through the "difficult transistion," but what exactly that entails wasn't clarified. Motorola cited a combination of high costs and low sales as the reason for the cuts, though new devices on the horizon should hopefully alleviate those problems.

Source: Engadget


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Hardware Round: Friday Edition

Posted: March 8, 2013 @ time: 06:08AM
Author: Nemo

DeepCool is a name we are seeing more often in the realm of cooling products and OCC recently reviewed two products from DeepCool as part of our CPU Cooler roundup. Today, we get a chance to examine the DeepCool N9 Aluminum Notebook Cooler sporting a single 180mm manually variable speed fan to keep your laptop cool. We also have another Z77 chipset motherboard from ASRock in the lineup for those of you interested in a micro-ATX based system.

Cooling
DeepCool N9 Aluminum Notebook Cooler @ Benchmark Reviews

Gadgets
Amiigo: Fitness Bracelet For iPhone And Android @ ThinkComputers

Motherboards
ASRock Z77 Pro4-M LGA 1155 Motherboard @ [H]ardOCP

Miscellany
Podcast #241 @ PC Perspective


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Impossibly Old Star Made More Possible

Posted: March 8, 2013 @ time: 09:08AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

There are a myriad of old age jokes out there from having telephone number '1' to having to hunt dinosaurs for dinner. Now the classic 'older than dirt' joke has been given a new spin by HD 140283, the Methuselah star, as it comes in at about 14.5 billion years old, in our 13.8 billion year old Universe. Don't worry though, thanks to researchers at the Goddard Space Flight Center and their work with the Hubble Space Telescope that is actually a younger and more possible age than the 16 billion years old age the star had previously been given.

This star has been interesting to astronomers since before its age was calculated because of its great speed, eccentric orbit around the galaxy, and relative closeness at just 190.1 light years away. Unlike its orbit though, precisely calculating the star's age is quite difficult though, and in 2000 when this was done the result came back as 16 billion years old, which is simply impossible. Fortunately Hubble has now studied the star and greatly narrowed the margin of error and shed billions of years from its age by putting it at just 14.5 billion years old, with an error of +/- 0.8 billion years.

Hubble has had help though as our improved understanding of the inner workings of stars allows us to theoretically determine its age using information about its composition and similar characteristics. With luck one day we will be able to actually date the star firmly after the Big Bang.

Source: Goddard Space Flight Center


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NVIDIA Technology to be Used in PlayStation 4

Posted: March 8, 2013 @ time: 11:32AM
Author: CheeseMan42

NVIDIA will be releasing support for its PhysX and APEX software development kits for the upcoming Sony PlayStation 4. These software technologies are used for collision detection and simulation of rigid bodies, clothing, fluids, and particle systems. PhysX is primarily used to create physics based real-world effects for games while APEX allows for the creation of intricate environments for those effects. Product manager for PhysX Mike Skolones said, “Great physics technology is essential for delivering a better gaming experience and multi platform support is critical for developers,” and also added that, “With PhysX and APEX support for PlayStation 4, customers can look forward to better games.”


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Enermax Launches NAXN ADV Power Supply Series

Posted: March 8, 2013 @ time: 11:52AM
Author: CheeseMan42

Enermax has announced its latest power supply series, the NAXN ADV. These new units are 80 PLUS Bronze certified, offering up to 88% efficiency at up to 100% load. Featuring all flat cables, this new power supply will help to reduce system clutter and enhance airflow and cooling performance. A single 12V rail provides 42A for the 550W model and 50A for the 650W model. A double ball bearing fan helps to provide cooling while keeping noise to a minimum. The 550W model will cost $89.99 and the 650W unit will cost $99.99.


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Common Ancestral Father Older than Thought

Posted: March 8, 2013 @ time: 02:02PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

It can be interesting to examine your family tree and see what important people you may be related to. Unfortunately you cannot take your family trees all the way back as records are lost and memories are forgotten. Genetically though, you can take it further back and it turns out that some of our genes go further back than we thought, as reported by New Scientist.

Scientists discovered some time ago that all men and women have two common ancestors, which have since been named 'mitochondrial Eve' and 'Y-chromosomal Adam,' because of what we have inherited from them. As the Y-chromosome is inherited exclusively from the father, it is possible to trace back the different mutations of the gene to a single ancestor. Previous work has placed that common father about 142,000 years into the past, but more recent research has pushed this date back to about 338,000 years ago. This research was initiated by the discovery of Y-chromosomes too different from others to have come from any-nearer an ancestor.

Interestingly this means the ancestral Y-chromosome actually developed before modern humans did, as our species is only about 195,000 years old. It also pushes 'Y-chromosomal Adam' back further than 'mitochondrial Eve' who is believed to have lived between 190,000 and 200,000 years ago. (To be clear, these are simply the ancestors whose family lines have not been broken even until modern day and not the only male or female of their own time.)

Source: New Scientist


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Steam Greenlight Spotlight: Planet Explorers

Posted: March 10, 2013 @ time: 08:34PM
Author: ClayMeow

Planet Explorers is a voxel-based, open-world adventure RPG. If you're not familiar with the term "voxel", it's essentially a three-dimensional pixel. Just as pixels are represented as squares, voxels are represented as cubes. In the world of gaming, most people cite Minecraft as an example of a voxel-based game. Technically that's not true, as it actually uses texturized polygon cubes. This common misconception is due to Minecraft's blocky aesthetics, which is common in voxel-based games - again, because voxels are essentially cubes. So why then does Planet Explorers not look blocky? Well just as the square nature of pixels is indiscernible in a high resolution image, the same can be true with voxels. With processing power increasing practically every month, it's only natural that developers will start to take advantage of that. As developer Pathea Games says, "The voxel algorithms we're using take more power to calculate than the box form voxels, that's the reason there aren't too many of this type around, yet."

So is Planet Explorers simply a prettier Minecraft? Answering that question is a bit more complicated than it may seem. I have debated long and hard how to describe the game. If three-ways produced babies, this would be the offspring of Minecraft, Scribblenauts, and Spore. Developed with the Unity 3D engine and using a new OpenCL system, Planet Explorers allows you to change the terrain in much of the same way as Minecraft, but also allows you to create practically anything you can imagine in its robust creation editor reminiscent of Spore's editors. Pathea says you can build weapons, vehicles, and objects, but as of the current alpha version, only weapons (swords and guns) and vehicles were available - though I guess you could technically make other objects like furniture in the vehicle editor and just not give it wheels? I didn't try, but regardless, the video below shows the creation of a race track, so building objects other than weapons and vehicles will certainly be supported at release.

If you took the time to watch the video above, you'd see that the creation editor is Spore's editor times ten. Even if you have no 3D modeling experience, Planet Explorers' creation editor is very easy to understand and use. Best of all, sharing creations is easy, as saving creates an ISO file that can easily be sent to a friend or imported into your own game. But don't get the wrong idea; Planet Explorers offers a lot more than just building. There are three single-player modes and several multi-player modes planned. In single-player, you have Story Mode, Adventure Mode, and Build Mode. Pathea describes Story Mode as "the action-adventure-RPG-somewhat-4X segment, offering NPCs, missions, town building, farming, diplomacy, and of course, a storyline that you can follow or ignore." Adventure Mode gives you a procedurally generated map with random missions and eventually the ability to setup certain conditions (such as tower defense).

While this game would still be great with just single-player, multi-player will be supported in both co-op and versus modes via LAN or online! Many of the multi-player features are still up in the air, but both co-op and versus should come with multiple selections. The first co-op mode will be build mode since it's the easiest for Pathea to implement, but an adventure mode and tower defense mode are planned as well. Versus will feature 4v4 battles with modes such as base defense, capture the flag, and "something similar to DOTA."

As much as I've tried to describe the game as best as possible, nothing beats trying it for yourself. As I alluded to earlier, there is an alpha demo (version 0.52) that's completely free to download and play. It contains all the single player modes (though obviously not all the features or polish of a final version) as well as the aforementioned creation editors, including the ability to save your ISOs. There is a caveat though - the download is 1.5GB. But if your Internet is not capped, it's so worth trying out. If Pathea releases an update, you'll unfortunately have to download all the files again, but a launcher will be released with version 0.6, so you can always wait until then if that bothers you. Please keep in mind that due its advanced OpenCL, you need a GPU that supports DX10.1 or higher. The game also runs significantly better with more RAM and thus 64-bit systems.

Whether you check out the alpha demo or not, I hope you agree that Planet Explorers is certainly deserving of a Steam release. It's refreshing to see a voxel game that doesn't look like it was made in the 80s. If you really want to support it, it seems like a Kickstarter campaign is coming soon.

Previous Spotlight: Stardew Valley. Favorite the OCC Steam Greenlight Spotlight Collection. And don't forget to visit the forum thread.


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Hardware Round: Monday Edition

Posted: March 11, 2013 @ time: 03:58AM
Author: Nemo

Welcome to the start of another week of reviews from around the web. Today, we have a guide to building an ITX rig brought to us by Computer Ed. For hardware, we have a review covering the AZiO Levetron GM533U gaming mouse. There are also articles on a modding experience as well as an iPhone case for you to check out.

Input Devices
AZiO Levetron GM533U Gaming Mouse @ Benchmark Reviews

Mobile
Cygnett Aviator iPhone 4/4S Case @ Madshrimps

Modding
Case Mod Friday: Monochromos @ ThinkComputers

Miscellany
Building an ITX Rig @ Computer Ed


Complete Story


Black Hole Firewall Paradox Ended

Posted: March 11, 2013 @ time: 07:20AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Black holes are very curious objects to scientists as these very real structures have profound effects on the Universe, yet we are limited to primarily theory and thought experiments to understand them. A classic and invaluable kind of thought experiment is a paradox; a system which implies a fundamental inconsistency yet cannot easily be shown to be itself, inconsistent. Now the firewall paradox for black holes has been solved by researchers at the University of York and, as intended, the solution has improved our understanding of all black holes.

The firewall paradox gets its name from the idea that just above the event horizon of a black hole, high energy particles would exist and burn away anything being drawn into the black hole. The problem with this idea is that the physics behind such a firewall cannot be localized to the area around a black hole, according to General Relativity, and this could then lead to an inconsistency with quantum mechanics. If one particle in an entangled pair struck the firewall, the information of that particle would be released as radiation, reinforcing the firewall, and the other particle would be able to observe this, and that is unallowable, creating the paradox. In other words, if Alice were falling into the black hole and shouted what it looks like to Bob, he may hear it, which is forbidden.

The researchers solved the problem though by showing that for all black holes the formation of the firewall depends on the entanglement of the particles. The stronger the entanglement the longer it takes before the radiation can be emitted and firewall formed, with maximally entangled particles never forming a firewall. Returning to the shouting Alice, the shout will either never come or come so late that Bob is no longer there to hear it.

Source: University of York


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Xi3 Begins Taking Orders for 'Piston' Steam Box

Posted: March 11, 2013 @ time: 11:39AM
Author: EuroFight

Computer manufacturer Xi3 has begun to take orders for its 'Piston' Steam box. The basic system will cost $1,000 when it ships, however Xi3 is offering a $100 discount to anyone pre-ordering before March 17. The basic box will feature a 3.2GHz quad-core processor, 8GB of DDR3 RAM and a 128GB SSD. A 256GB SSD can also be added for an extra $340, and a 512GB drive for $750. The box is likely to feature up to 12 USB ports, two mini-DisplayPorts and a single HDMI/DisplayPort jack.

The Xi3 'Piston' was very well recieved on its debut at CES this January, but Xi3 declined to provide much information about the specifics. Surprisingly, the press release makes no mention of an affiliation with Steam, who originally helped Xi3 to bring the console to the market. The Steam platform is also not shown in any of the demonstrations Xi3 have given, instead, Xi3 have developed their own interface for playing games. Obviously, the box will still support Steam, but it appears to be unlikely that this will be the main platform for the system.

Source: PCWorld.com


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Graphene Successfully Demonstrates Long Predicted Phenomenon

Posted: March 11, 2013 @ time: 12:02PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Seventy years ago the founders of quantum mechanics were still around and working to see what all of the new math meant. Among them was Paul Dirac who constructed the atomic collapse theory that describes some interesting electron behavior in the presence of a super-heavy nucleus. For decades testing the theory has proven to be extremely difficult, but researchers at Berkeley Lab have successfully applied the unique properties of graphene to construct a similar system.

Thanks to the high speeds electrons can move at on a sheet of graphene, the researchers were able to construct an artificial atom by packing positively charged impurities close to each other within the graphene. Once the impurities, calcium atoms specifically, passed the critical density, electrons changed their flow around the atoms greatly. Instead of following a circular orbit like in a Bohr diagram, the electrons swung in, very near the nucleus, before spiraling back out. If this happened within a real atom, the system would emit a positron as the electron escapes the nucleus, but in graphene it was instead a positively charged hole that was created.

While the physics may seem too exotic to be important, this could actually impact the use of graphene in future electronics as impurities will be used to create special effects. The ability to affect electron paths and generate positive holes like this could be made useful at some point.

Source: Berkeley Lab


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Thermaltake Introduces Non-interference CPU Coolers

Posted: March 11, 2013 @ time: 03:20PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Thermaltake introduced its latest innovation in CPU cooling technology with the Non-interference Cooler series. The new NiC series is targeted at users that have RAM with bulky heat spreaders as these coolers give clearance over larger modules. The series features four different coolers, the F3, F4, C4, and C5 with a range of TDP from 160W to 230W. Up to five heatpipes transfer the thermal load through aluminum fins where the heat is dissipated using a 120cm PWM fan.


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