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News Archives for March 2014

Valve Unleashes Steam Family Library Sharing

Posted: March 1, 2014 @ time: 04:54AM
Author: gebraset

Valve has announced that the Steam feature that allows the sharing of game libraries, known as Family Library Sharing, is now out of beta and available to all members of Steam. The feature enables gamers that utilize the Steam service to share their library of games with other users on a specific computer. Steam users must be online while games are accessed and shared, and up to 10 devices may be authorized at one time. The feature can only share entire libraries however, and not individual games, and there are some limitations. For example, games that require a subscription or an additional third-party key are unavailable to share with others.

Steam users that have Steam Guard enabled can access the newly available feature through the settings menu of the software

Source: Steam


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PopCap Split into HD and Mobile Divisions; Peggle 2 Ports and New IP On The Way

Posted: March 1, 2014 @ time: 10:47AM
Author: ClayMeow

According to Gary Clay, Senior Franchise Marketing Manager of Plants vs. Zombies and Peggle at PopCap Games, "PopCap is now structured in the way we have standard PopCap mobile development and then PopCap HD, which is entirely focused on bringing games to PC and console." The 40-person PopCap HD team is currently working on three projects: porting Peggle 2 to additional platforms (it's currently only available on Xbox One), developing new content for Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, and a new IP that may "not necessarily" be an existing PopCap franchise.

Source: Digital Spy
 


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Last Six Months Turn Payday 2 Developer Starbreeze Profitable After 15 Years of Loss

Posted: March 1, 2014 @ time: 11:19AM
Author: ClayMeow

Swedish developer Starbreeze Studios "accumulated a total loss of SEK 94 million (approximately USD$14.4 million)" from 1998 to June 2013. In just the past six months, the studio "generated a profit before tax of SEK 104 million (approximately USD$16 million)," thanks in large part to strong sales from Payday 2 and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Along with the original Payday: The Heist, Starbreeze now has "three games that generate royalties every single day."

Starbreeze CEO Bo Andersson Klint stated rather matter-of-factly, "I would like to think that is what they call a turnaround." In addition to the great earnings report, Starbreeze has also signed a new 20-month agreement with publisher 505 Games that allows the studio to develop and refine Payday 2 "so that it becomes the best co-operative gaming experience available on the market, with many more add-on packages and other exciting events planned."

And speaking of add-ons, Payday 2 was just updated with free DLC entitled The Death Wish, which adds a new difficulty level, two new enemy types, four new masks, a free melee weapon in honor of the 350,00 member mark, and 35 new achievements. You can watch the trailer below:

Source: IGN and Steam


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Disney Launches Cloud Movie Service 'Disney Movies Anywhere'

Posted: March 1, 2014 @ time: 09:52PM
Author: bp9801

Digital movies have become increasingly popular over the years, so it should be no surprise that the Walt Disney Company wants to capitalize on that trend. Disney recently announced Disney Movies Anywhere, which is a cloud service for people to buy and watch Disney, Pixar, and Marvel movies (and presumably Lucasfilm down the road). The movies are bought and stored online, with access provided on a multitude of devices. You can use the Disney Movies Anywhere website to browse and buy on your computer, or grab the app from the iTunes Store to get movies on your iPhone, iPod, iPad, or Apple TV. Disney Movies Anywhere uses the company's proprietary KeyChest instead of UltraViolet, which should allow for more providers in the future than just iTunes (something that Disney is exploring at the moment). More than 400 titles are available for purchase, so there's undoubtedly something for everyone, from Marvel's The Avengers to Toy Story 3, Frozen, or pretty much any other Disney-owned movie you can think of.

Source: Reuters


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HTC to Shut Down Its Movies Service in the UK

Posted: March 2, 2014 @ time: 08:35PM
Author: gebraset

HTC Watch is a service that has been offered by HTC for some time, offering movie rentals and purchases on mobile devices. Last year, HTC announced that it was shutting down the service in multiple European countries, expressing a realignment of business strategy as the sole reason. Now, users of the service located in the United Kingdom have been notified via email that the service will be unavailable for them starting March 31, 2014. Movies that have been purchased by users located within the United Kingdom must be downloaded to a compatible device before the shutdown occurs, or the movie will be inaccessible for viewing.

Besides the emails regarding the shutdown of the service, no other notifications have been provided by HTC concerning its HTC Watch service.

Source: Engadget


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SOE Details EverQuest Next Landmark's Free-to-Play Business Model

Posted: March 2, 2014 @ time: 09:49PM
Author: ClayMeow

David "Smokejumper Georgeson, Director of Development for the EverQuest Franchise at Sony Online Entertainment (SOE), outlined SOE's five-phase plan for EverQuest Next Landmark, the "world-building" portion of free-to-play MMORPG EverQuest Next. Landmark is currently in Phase 1, which Georgeson refers to as the "Founder's Pack" era. The game is currently in Alpha, but the only way to gain access is to purchase either the $99.99 Trailblazer Pack or $59.99 Explorer Pack.

Phase 2 is going to start "in the latter part of Alpha," and kick off SOE's microtransactions. SOE plans on starting small with just character outfits and resources. Outfits are merely cosmetic, while buying resources will essentially be a "time shortcut to let people build more easily." The latter is already stirring controversy amongst players who would rather resource gathering remain solely a gameplay mechanic.

Phase 3 is where the real "time shortcut methods" are added, and is intended to be an ongoing phase, with the start also being around the end of Alpha. As a "theoretical example" of what a time shortcut would entail, Georgeson explained, "Let's say you have to craft a recipe in order to make a 'power up my pick' potion so you can gather resources more quickly. The time shortcut option would be available as a button on your Collections sheet, so you could just buy that potion effect immediately instead of needing to craft it first." He ensures us that shorcuts will not affect game balance and they can always be avoided if you want to spend the time and effort.

Phase 4 is where Landmark's real selling point (no pun intended) begins – the introduction of SOE's Player Studio. Player Studio is SOE's marketplace for player-created goods, allowing players to buy and sell templates. Georgeson also later stated that resources will not be able to be sold via Player Studio because of "nasty international tax laws," though you can still sell them out of in-game Market Stalls. Player Studio should be introduced "early during Closed Beta."

Lastly is Phase 5, occurring at the end of Closed Beta, which will involve the addition of some "bigger-ticket [microtransaction] items." These will include "cosmetic pets, sound/music packs for your claims, name/gender changes, extra claim flags, and more." However, in a later reply, Georgeson explains that almost everything can be earned within the game, with only a few cosmetic items (like outfits) being microtransaction-only.

So there you have it – the five-phase business plan for EverQuest Next Landmark. However, everything is of course subject to change, and Georgeson is clear that there will likely be additions and subtractions as it moves forward. Georgeson explains that SOE is fully invested in the free-to-play model and understands that it means the studio has "to entertain you before you decide whether to pay [..] or not."

Source: Official Forums


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Hardware Roundup: Monday Edition

Posted: March 3, 2014 @ time: 08:30AM
Author: bp9801

We're into the month of March already, and there's plenty to keep you occupied this Monday. There's a review on the ASUS Maximus VI Formula motherboard, which features plenty of high-end components and a pretty hefty price tag to boot. We also have some peripherals for you to check out, like the Tt eSPORTS MEKA G-Unit Illuminated mechanical keyboard and the full suite of Corsair Vengeance gear from Digital Storm. If storage is what you need, then the Toshiba 1TB 2.5" SSHD is for you, as it pairs 8GB of NAND flash with a 1TB 5400RPM HDD. We finish off with a chance to win a Nomad ChargeKey cable.

Motherboards
ASUS Maximus VI Formula @ PC Perspective

Storage/Hard Drives
Toshiba 1TB (MQ01ABD100H) 2.5" SSHD @ Madshrimps

Keyboards/Mice
Tt eSPORTS MEKA G-Unit Illuminated Mechanical Keyboard @ ThinkComputers
Corsair Vengeance Gaming Gear From Digital Storm! @ Bjorn3D

Miscellany
Win a Nomad ChargeKey! @ ThinkComputers


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Social Media can Impair Rationality

Posted: March 3, 2014 @ time: 10:03AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Perhaps I am just an old soul, but I tend to get my news and information by more traditional means, while many people around me are kept informed by social media. It is definitely true that social media has the ability to quickly disseminate information, but what happens once we have that information? According to researchers at the University of Copenhagen, we cease to act rationally due to social proof.

Humans are social beings, so we are constantly looking for social cues of one form or another, to inform our actions and opinions. It used to be that you would have to look at people or a crowd of people to collect social information. Now with Twitter, Facebook, and other social media systems, we can rapidly acquire large amounts of social information in an instance. When combined with social proof, this can lead to some awkward situations. Social proof is the phenomenon where someone trusts those around him or her, assuming that these other people possess greater knowledge. Of course that may not be the case, but with the power to see up-votes, retweets, etc. immediately, social proof can have a significant impact on us, as we trust the crowd instead of verifying the information.

Last year a rumor spread so rapidly on Twitter that it caused the value of the Euro to drop a small, but meaningful amount, even though that rumor was false. What might be the impact next time a rumor spreads, and no one bothers to check it?

Source: University of Copenhagen


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Samsung to Include Plenty of Freebies for Galaxy S5

Posted: March 3, 2014 @ time: 10:09AM
Author: gebraset

The Samsung Galaxy S5, which was announced by Samsung at the Mobile World Congress last month, will now ship with plenty of freebies, according to Samsung. Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone will include over $500 worth of credits, freebies, and subscriptions when the phone ships in April of this year. Some examples of the freebies that are being offered for the Samsung Galaxy S5 include three months of Bitcasa 1TB storage, three months of Evernote Premium, three months of premium account service for LinkedIn, six months of The Wall Street Journal, and one year of premium service for Run Keeper. Samsung is marketing the included freebies as Galaxy Gifts, and is hoping that the bundled package will entice customers to purchase the latest flagship smartphone offered by the company.

Source: CNET


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Microsoft Continues Push for Windows XP Upgrades

Posted: March 3, 2014 @ time: 10:25AM
Author: gebraset

Although Microsoft has already announced that support for Windows XP will cease to exist come April 8, 2014, as well as the unavailability of Microsoft Security Essentials at the same time, the company is continuing its efforts of getting users off of the aging operating system. Microsoft has announced that users of Windows XP are going to be offered a free data migration tool from Laplink, due to a partnership between both companies, known as PCmover Express for Windows XP. The application will transfer emails, files, music, videos, user profiles, and settings from a Windows XP computer to a Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 machine.

Microsoft has also announced that users of the Home and Professional editions of Windows XP, starting on March 8, 2014, will receive a notice about official support ending via Windows Update.


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ADATA Announces SSD Firmware Update

Posted: March 3, 2014 @ time: 12:51PM
Author: CheeseMan42

ADATA has announced the availability of a firmware update for solid state drives based on the LSI SandForce 2200 SSD controller. ADATA SSD models that will be impacted by the update include SX910, SX900, SP900, SP800, S511, S510, and S396. Firmware version 5.2.5 "optimizes TRIM completion behavior and SATA stability, and improves disk recovery in instances of unsafe or improper shutdown." Users should navigate over to the ADATA website and select their SSD from the dropdown to obtain the update.

Source: Press Release


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Samsung Announces Chromebook 2 Laptops

Posted: March 3, 2014 @ time: 01:01PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Samsung released the initial Chromebook in 2012, and having bought one very soon after release I was very satisfied with my purchase. Samsung today announced the Chromebook 2 as an encore, and a pair of models will be available in April. An 11.6" model will weigh just 2.43 pounds at an MSRP of $319.99 and the 13.3" model will weight 3.09 pounds at a cost of $399.99. Both laptops will be powered by Samsung Exynos 5 Octa processors with the 11.6" powered by a 1.9GHz CPU and the 13.3" featuring a 2.1GHz chip. Each laptop will also have 4GB of DDR3L RAM, 16GB of solid state storage, one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 port, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. The smaller laptop has a battery life of eight hours and the larger will be slightly longer at eight-and-a-half hours. The smaller laptop will have a resolution of 1366x768 while the larger screen will boast a full 1080p resolution.

Source: Ars Technica


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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Video Game Arriving April 29

Posted: March 3, 2014 @ time: 01:08PM
Author: ClayMeow

Activision has announced that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 video game will arrive in North America on April 29, 2014 for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, and 3DS. Those who pre-order the PlayStation or Xbox versions of the game from GameStop will receive the exclusive Web Threads Suit Pack. Activision included PC in the list of eligible pre-order bonus platforms, but GameStop does not have the PC version currently listed, plus the PC version will only be available digitally in North America, so I cannot say with 100% certainty that the PC will get that pack. The first game is available on Steam, so it's likely this one will arrive there as well (and hopefully with the pre-order bonus).

The Web Threads Suit Pack contains four Spidey suits available at launch: Iron Spider Suit, Cosmic Spider-Man Suit, Venom-like Black Suit, and Spider-Man Noir Suit. Each suit offers unique combat bonuses, but specifics were not provided. Check out the image attached below to see what each suit looks like.

Source: Facebook [1] and [2]


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Capcom Announces 'Edition Select Mode' for Ultra Street Fighter IV

Posted: March 3, 2014 @ time: 01:39PM
Author: ClayMeow

With Ultra Street Fighter IV being the fifth entry in the Street Fighter IV (SFIV) series, there are bound to be players that haven't been happy with their favorite characters being changed just for balancing purposes with the introduction of new characters. Well, Capcom is going to placate those users with the addition of Edition Select Mode, which allows players to choose any character from any version of SFIV (Vanilla SFIV, Super SFIV, Super SFIV AE, Super SFIV AE ver. 2012, and Ultra SFIV).

The only caveat is that it appears Edition Select Mode will only be available in offline play. The official announcement doesn't say that, but an entry on Capcom's Japanese site seems to indicate that point, if the translations are accurate. The reasoning is because of the aforementioned balancing issues. Nevertheless, if you have a friend to play with locally, it should provide for some interesting match-ups.

Source: Capcom Blog


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Top-Down Images of All Fifteen Titanfall Maps Leaked

Posted: March 3, 2014 @ time: 02:12PM
Author: ClayMeow

Titanfall launches in North America on March 11, but a lot of information has leaked out since the Titanfall Beta ended a couple weeks ago. While the beta only featured two maps (Fracture and Angel City), the game's full roster of fifteen maps has been leaked in the form of top-down images. These images not only show the overall top-down view of the maps, but also point out "key locations" in each one. The environments are certainly varied, with both indoor and outdoor locales, though curiously not one snowy environment... DLC, anyone?

Source: All Games Beta


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Important Step to Bringing Photonics to Computers

Posted: March 3, 2014 @ time: 02:17PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

The march of progress for electronics has been following Moore's Law for some time now, faithfully doubling the number of transistors on a chip every two years. That march may be halted in the future though, as power consumption and other factors limit our ability to shrinking the components further. One alternative to electronics that could pick up the march is photonics, and researchers have recently made a great step towards that end, as reported by the Optical Society.

Researchers have been building photonic devices for some time, but these devices are often custom built, using processes and techniques that prevent mass production. Now researchers have managed to build a modulator and tunable filter using IBM's advanced CMOS process. This same process has been used to create silicon electronics for years, and this is the first time the researchers are aware of it being used to create silicon photonics that rival electronics for energy efficiencies. The modulator can be used to translate an electrical signal to an optical one while the tunable filter can select a single frequency from multiple.

The researchers believe these devices could be used for chip-to-chip communications, where the chips could take advantage of the 10 times higher bandwidth density of the optical devices. As one optical link can carry multiple frequencies, it can carry multiple, discrete channels, whereas electrical signals each require their own wire. The work is to be presented at the OFC Conference and Exposition in San Francisco from March 9-13.

Source: The Optical Society


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Dishonored II Reveal Coming at E3 2014?

Posted: March 3, 2014 @ time: 02:27PM
Author: ClayMeow

If the leaked image is accurate, a Dishonored II "full reveal" is coming at E3 2014 – as if there was any doubt the highly acclaimed stealth action-adventure game Dishonored would be getting a sequel. The image, which appears to be of a PowerPoint slide, doesn't say much except for the title Dishonored II, the E3 2014 reveal date, and a hashtag of "#DarknessOfTyvia", which may indicate that the full game name is "Dishonored II: Darkness of Tyvia." Either way, the good news is that the Arkane Studios logo can be seen in the lower-left corner, which means it's a good bet the Dishonored developer is returning for the sequel.

E3 2014 takes place June 10-12, 2014, so we may have a while until we learn more, but hopefully there's at least a teaser trailer released before then.

Source: All Games Beta


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Kickstarter Hits Pledging Milestone

Posted: March 3, 2014 @ time: 06:34PM
Author: gebraset

Announced by Kickstarter, the incredibly popular crowdfunding platform has received a total of $1 billion in pledges by 5.7 million people for various creative projects. At the beginning of this year, the platform announced that it had roughly $480 million in pledges coming from around 3 million people during last year, with 2013 bringing in almost half of the $1 billion announced today. Kickstarter has announced some interesting facts behind the service, revealing that pledges have occurred from 224 countries across the world, that the most popular day for pledges is Wednesday, that the first half of any given month receives the most money in pledges, and that the United States Is the most generous support for projects. With the growth that Kickstarter is experiencing, it should be interesting to see the amount of startups that turn to the crowdfunding platform for product and service support.

Source: Kickstarter


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Sprint Sued by the US Government

Posted: March 3, 2014 @ time: 06:58PM
Author: gebraset

In an interesting legal case, the United States government has filed a complaint against Sprint for charges that occurred for wiretaps. When the United States requests information that can be used in investigations by authorities, it is usually gathered from wiretaps. Companies, such as Sprint, have to pay for the equipment that enables the wiretapping to occur, and are reimbursed by the United States government at a later time. The government claims that Sprint overcharged agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI, more than $21 million that is directly related to equipment bought by the company. Sprint, according to the complaint, improperly inflated its charges by 58 percent over the course of approximately three and a half years, spanning from January 1, 2007 to July 31, 2010.

Sprint is officially stating that the invoices submitted to the government for reimbursement of incurred charges are all lawful. Even so, the government is seeking triple damages along with unspecified civil fines.

Source: CNET


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Blizzard Announces 'Technical Alpha' for Heroes of the Storm

Posted: March 3, 2014 @ time: 08:42PM
Author: ClayMeow

Blizzard's MOBA Heroes of the Storm was playable at BlizzCon 2013, but soon others will get to play it on their own PCs. After a lot of internal testing, Blizzard has announced that the first public testing phase will begin soon. The purpose of this initial phase, which Blizzard is calling the "Technical Alpha", is to help the developer "better examine how [its] infrastructure and tech will function across a much broader spectrum of machines and connection types." Heroes of the Storm is very much a work in progress, with a lot of the features not even implemented yet, not to mention placeholder sounds, interface elements, and even graphics. Nevertheless, there will be absolutely no Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), which means you can share videos, screenshots, and any impressions you have with the world.

Access to the Technical Alpha will be extremely limited at the start, but expand over time as Blizzard has always done with its alpha and beta tests. Currently, only players in the United States will be eligible, and signing up is as simple as checking the Heroes of the Storm opt-in box found on the Beta Profile Settings page of your Battle.net Account. If you're a Blizzard fan and/or MOBA fan, what are you waiting for?

Source: Official Site


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Web Version of Skype Available Worldwide

Posted: March 4, 2014 @ time: 08:24AM
Author: gebraset

Skype has announced that Skype for Outlook.com, which was rolled out to select markets last year, is now available worldwide. The video chatting service allows Outlook.com users to voice and video chat their contacts, along with the usual instant messaging function. Skype for Outlook.com does require a plugin in order to work properly, but with the latest version supporting PC users, along with Mac users that utilize the Safari web browser, compatibility should not be an issue. Outlook.com users that make use of the web version of Skype can even chat with their contacts in high-definition, provided that both parties have compatible messaging clients, high definition displays, webcams, and broadband Internet.

Source: Skype Blog


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Rocksteady Returns for Batman Arkham Finale, Batman: Arkham Knight

Posted: March 4, 2014 @ time: 08:34AM
Author: ClayMeow

If a recent "accidental" listing on UK retailer GAME is accurate, it seems last week's leak about Rocksteady's next Batman game may be true. VideoGamer.com grabbed a screenshot before the listing was removed, which provides some interesting tidbits about the next game in the Batman Arkham franchise.

The franchise's fourth entry is entitled Batman: Arkham Knight and was listed as "the explosive Finale in the Batman Arkham Series." The series is indeed returning to Rocksteady and one of the biggest additions will be a driveable Batmobile, uniquely designed by Rocksteady for the game. The game's central villain this time around seems to be Scarecrow, who "returns to unite Gotham's most feared villains," including Penguin, Two-Face, and Harley Quinn. Considering the Scarecrow scenes in Arkham Asylum were arguably the best part of the game, I'm certainly excited to see how Rocksteady makes him the focus of the story, barring a twist of course. Meanwhile, pre-ordering the game allows players to play as Harley Quinn across four exclusive challenge maps.

Batman: Arkham Knight is listed for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One with an expected release date of this year. More info will probably come shortly with the rumored Game Informer magazine cover reveal.

Source: VideoGamer


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First Look at Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham Knight in April 2014 Game Informer; Official Trailer Released

Posted: March 4, 2014 @ time: 09:11AM
Author: ClayMeow

Yes, all the rumors were true – Rocksteady's next entry in the Batman Arkham series, Batman: Arkham Knight, has been confirmed and revealed as the April 2014 Game Informer cover story. While most of the information currently available was leaked earlier today by UK retailer GAME via VideoGamer.com, at least we have solid confirmation, along with a better look at the Batmobile we'll get to drive. According to Game Informer, "An entirely new area of Gotham City, far larger than Arkham City, has much wider streets to accommodate the new driving gameplay that is designed to integrate smoothly with Batman's gliding and grappling traversal."

Arkham Knight takes place one year after the events of Arkham City, and will be the final Arkham game – though hopefully not the final Batman game Rocksteady and WB work on. Below is the four-minute Announce Trailer entitled "Father to Son":

Batman: Arkham Knight is set to release later this year for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One – no "previous-gen" to hold the game back!

Source: Game Informer and Official Site


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Increasing the Efficiency of Thermally Induced Magnetic Switching

Posted: March 4, 2014 @ time: 09:26AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Though flash-based SSDs are growing in popularity, a great number of systems still rely on magnetic hard drives to store data. So many in fact that processing and storing the data on the all of the drives now accounts for a significant fraction of the world's energy consumption. Researchers at the University of York though have recently made a discovery that could reduce energy costs, without increase monetary costs.

Writing data to a magnetic drive usually requires applying a magnetic field to it, which uses a fair amount of energy. Some time ago all-optical thermally induced magnetic switching (TIMS) was discovered, for some rare-earth-transition-metal alloys call ferrimagnets. As the name suggests, it is possible to switch the magnetic state of those alloys using a laser pulse. As the laser pulse uses less energy than the magnetic field, the result would be a more efficient drive. The catch is that the alloys are prohibitively expensive. What the York researchers have discovered is a synthetic ferrimagnet comprised of two ferromagnetic materials, with a non-magnetic spacer sandwiched between.

Without the reliance on rare metals, this discovered could help bring all-optical TIMS to storage technology, cutting energy costs.

Source: University of York


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Hardware Roundup: Tuesday Edition

Posted: March 4, 2014 @ time: 11:49AM
Author: bp9801

We have a nice collection of reviews for you today, including two items for the audio crowd. The first is the BitFenix Flo gaming headset, which can work on both PCs and mobile devices to deliver the proper sound you need. The second audio product is the SilverStone Ensemble EB03 headphone amplifier for those who need a bit of a boost for their headphones or headsets. We also have a couple of other items, like the Enermax Liqtech 120X liquid CPU cooler to help provide self-contained water cooling on a budget. There's even a look at the Western Digital My Cloud EX2, which features dual drive bays and features geared towards the home NAS market.

CPU Cooling
Enermax Liqtech 120X Liquid CPU Cooler @ Madshrimps

Storage/Hard Drives
Western Digital My Cloud EX2 - Redundant Cloud Storage on a Smaller Scale @ PC Perspective

Speakers/Headphones
BitFenix Flo Gaming Headset @ Bjorn3D
SilverStone Ensemble EB03 Headphone Amplifier @ Benchmark Reviews


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RadioShack Reports Troubled Financial Results

Posted: March 4, 2014 @ time: 12:21PM
Author: gebraset

In the latest press released available from RadioShack, the company has notified the public that it has performed rather poorly during the fourth quarter of last year in regards to its finances. RadioShack saw a 19 percent decrease in total net sales and operating revenues compared to last year, as well as a consolidated gross profit that was 6 percent less than 2013. Overall, the company announced that its operating loss for the fourth quarter of last year was $166.1 million, and its net loss was $191.4 million. RadioShack is blaming the results on a holiday season that brought in lower store traffic than normal, as well as a soft mobility market.

Due to the announcement of poor financial performance, RadioShack has revealed that it will be closing up to 1,100 stores, basing the decision on store performance, lease life, area demographics, and location.

Source: Press Release


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Sony Announces 6 Million PlayStation 4 Consoles Sold

Posted: March 4, 2014 @ time: 12:49PM
Author: gebraset

Sony has revealed that it has now sold 6 million PlayStation 4 consoles within the markets that the next generation gaming console is currently available in. The sales figures are up roughly 700,000 from the last report made by Sony on February 18, 2014, in which the company informed the public that 5.3 million PlayStation 4 consoles were sold. The increase in sales can be heavily attributed to the PlayStation 4 being released in Japan on February 21, 2014.

As both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One make their way into more markets and gain popularity while doing so, it will be interesting to see which gaming console sells the most units throughout this year.

Source: Reuters


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Murdered: Soul Suspect Possessing PCs and Consoles on June 3

Posted: March 4, 2014 @ time: 01:01PM
Author: ClayMeow

Supernatural detective thriller Murdered: Soul Suspect has finally been given an official release date – June 3, 2014 in North America and June 6, 2014 everywhere else. The game is priced at $49.99 USD for Windows PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360, while the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions cost $59.99. Pre-ordering in the US at Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop, Target, or Walmart includes an "interactive digital strategy map" that is accessible via computer or tablet and shows "the location of hundreds of in-game items including quest givers, collectibles, and Easter Eggs." The game is also available on Steam, though it's unclear whether pre-ordering directly from Steam will net you the pre-order bonus (it's not currently listed).

Murdered: Soul Suspect puts you in the shoes of Ronan O'Connor with a rather unique task – solving your own murder from the ghostly afterlife. Trapped in a limbo world called Dusk, only bringing your killer to justice will help you find peace, though there are various optional side quests you can complete as well. Both bp9801 and myself awarded Murdered: Soul Suspect Best Adventure Game of E3 2013, so this is definitely one game adventure fans should be excited about.

Source: Press Release


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Microsoft Launches Website to Inform Users of Running Windows XP

Posted: March 4, 2014 @ time: 01:04PM
Author: gebraset

A new website has been launched by Microsoft, which informs users if they are or are not running Windows XP. The website is designed to help users, who are interested in the upgrade options available to them as support for Windows XP ends, identify what operating system their computer is utilizing. The company is also incorporating notifications to inform users of end of life support for the aging operating system, along with free migration software. Microsoft has designed the site in the Modern user interface, which is the style that Windows 8 and 8.1 makes use of. Additionally, the website informs users about Windows 8 upgrade avenues if they are not running Windows XP, and makes no mention of Windows Vista or Windows 7.

Interested users can visit the new website at AmIRunningXP.com in order to figure out if they are running Windows XP.

Source: DailyTech


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Roku Launches New Streaming Stick

Posted: March 4, 2014 @ time: 01:19PM
Author: gebraset

Initially announced in early 2012, the Roku Streaming Stick was meant to provide the same features that were available in Roku set top boxes at the time, within a smaller form factor. Sadly, the device was priced the same as Roku set top boxes and used MHL for its connection, making adoption of the device slow to say the least. Roku has redesigned the Streaming Stick, upgrading its applications to the latest available, incorporating HDMI instead of MHL, and reducing its price to $50. While the Roku Streaming Stick is currently priced $15 higher than Google Chromecast, it features much more available content for streaming over its competitor.

Source: Engadget


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South Park: The Stick of Truth and Titanfall Get Launch Trailers

Posted: March 4, 2014 @ time: 02:18PM
Author: ClayMeow

Ubisoft's highly anticipated, oft-delayed, mature RPG South Park: The Stick of Truth released today, so with that comes the (obviously NSFW) official launch trailer:

Meanwhile, the equally highly anticipated first-person shooter from Electronic Arts and Respawn Entertainment, Titanfall, launches a week from today, but its official launch trailer was also released:

Source: South Park: The Stick of Truth Official Site and Titanfall Official Site


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Square Enix Lays Off 27 People at Thief Developer Eidos Montreal

Posted: March 4, 2014 @ time: 03:03PM
Author: ClayMeow

Layoffs are unfortunately an inevitable part of the gaming industry following a major release. With Thief launching last week, that inevitability has struck developer Eidos Montreal. Publisher Square Enix confirmed the layoffs of 27 people today to IGN, explaining that "unfortunately it's something that every major studio has to do in order to ensure you have the right set up for current and future projects." Square Enix is trying to re-locate as many of those people as it can within its other studios, but has also reached out to outside studios in Montreal to arrange a career day.

Reviews for Thief were mixed, but generally favorable.

Source: IGN


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Better Optimizing Thin Film Solar Cells for Lower Cost

Posted: March 4, 2014 @ time: 03:10PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

For many people, the thought of solar power brings to mind arrays of silicon panels or massive reflectors, aiming light to a point. These are not the only examples of solar power technology though, and one of them may be seeing a drop in cost soon. Researchers at the University of North Carolina recently found a way to optimize the design of thin film solar cells that could reduce the amount of amorphous silicon used by an order of magnitude.

The best thin film solar cells today use a layer of amorphous silicon roughly 100 nm thick, and it captures most of the solar energy that falls on it. What the researchers design uses a 10 nm thick layer and absorbs 90% of available solar energy. This was achieved by examining the absorption of semiconductor materials in light-trapping techniques, like those of a thin film solar cell. The researchers found that absorption is maximized when the light-trapping efficiency and absorption efficiency match. From this they designed a layered, rectangular design which could potentially be used to improve the performance of thin film solar cells based on materials other than silicon.

One of the challenges to manufacturing and cutting the cost of thin film solar cells is the deposition of the semiconductor material. By reducing the amount needed by an order of magnitude, the cells could be produced faster and more cheaply.

Source: North Carolina State University


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F300 Barebones Mini-PC Launched by Giada

Posted: March 4, 2014 @ time: 04:11PM
Author: tpsreport

Giada has recently launched the F300 mini-PC for the digital signage market, but it could be a good home theater PC, too. The F300 is powered by a passively cooled Intel Core i5-4200U Haswell processor clocked at 1.8 GHz (up to 2.7 GHz with Intel Turbo Boost) and an integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400. However, this is a barebones system with no memory or hard drive, but "customers just need to easily unscrew two screws, and then lightly pull away the shelf" to open the casing. 

With the case open, installation of components is possible, such as a 2.5" hard drive into the single SATA 6Gbps slot or RAM into the single SO-DIMM slot for up to 16GB of DDR3L-1600 memory. Also included is a SIM card slot, three mini PCI Express slots, and three cables for 3G, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth cards. On the front are two USB 3.0 ports, an IR sensor for remote controls, a microphone and headphone jack, and an SD card reader. The back also provides two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports, two COM ports, Gigabit Ethernet, and two DisplayPort 1.2 ports that can support audio as well as "up to 4 ultra-HD mosaic screens with max resolution of 3200x2000."

Pricing and availability of the Giada F300 mini-PC is unknown.

Source: Tom's Hardware


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OCZ Launches New PCIe SSD

Posted: March 4, 2014 @ time: 04:34PM
Author: CheeseMan42

The Z-Drive 4500 is the latest PCIe based solid state drive from OCZ and it is built using 19nm MLC NAND flash. The 4500 series will be available in capacities of 800GB, 1.6TB, and 3.2TB providing a large range of storage options to meet a variety of needs. The PCIe interface allows for even greater performance than conventional SSDs, with read and write speeds up to 2.9GB/s and 2.2GB/s, respectively. In addition to the extreme bandwidth availability the 4500 series also offers 252,000 read and 76,000 input/output operations per second. Everything is powered by the OCZ Virtualized Controller Architecture and LSI SandForce SF-2582 controller in conjunction with the new Windows Accelerator software that provides flash management and caching solutions for Windows Server applications.

Source: Press Release


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Kingston Announces New Flash Drive Targeted at Android Devices

Posted: March 4, 2014 @ time: 04:43PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Kingston has announced a new flash drive, the DataTraveler microDuo, that combines the USB and micro USB form factors to create a versatile, small form factor solution. The inclusion of the micro USB connector and USB On-The-Go make the microDuo a perfect candidate to help expand the storage of compatible Android tablets and smartphones. The full size USB connector allows for easy transfers to other devices that aren't as restricted as mobile devices. Flash memory business manager Jean Wong said, "DT microDuo is a great companion device to mobile phones or tablets as it lets users back up files on the go thus freeing up space, or share files between devices with ease." The DataTraveler microDuo will be available in capacities of 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB.

Source: Press Release


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Japan to Treat Bitcoin as a Commodity, Regulating and Taxing Transactions

Posted: March 4, 2014 @ time: 09:11PM
Author: ClayMeow

A week after Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox shut down, Japan's major financial newspaper Nikkei is reporting that the Japanese government is proposing new rules to regulate and tax bitcoin transactions, "defining the virtual currency as a commodity rather than a currency." Bitcoin trades via online exchanges, purchases made with bitcoins, and revenue made from bitcoin transactions will all be taxed. In addition, banks will be prohibited from handling bitcoins and security firms will be prohibited from brokering bitcoin trades.

Japan is not the first, nor will it likely be the last, country to concern itself with the bitcoin market. Russia has already declared the use of bitcoins illegal, while the United States is currently considering "legal options for regulating virtual currencies such as bitcoin."

Source: Reuters


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Sci-Fi Horror Game SOMA Gets New Trailer and Status Update

Posted: March 5, 2014 @ time: 09:31AM
Author: ClayMeow

Alien: Isolation is not the only science-fiction survival horror game currently in development. Frictional Games, the Swedish indie developer behind the critically acclaimed Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Penumbra series, is currently working on a sci-fi survival horror game of its own, entitled SOMA. Today, Frictional Games has posted a new trailer that showcases some of the scenery and voice over work, along with a status update on the PlayStation Blog.

SOMA isn't expected to release until 2015, with the studio about a week away from an alpha version that represents just over half of the full game. Because SOMA is story-driven and doesn't rely on a "core gameplay loop", completion of a playable alpha that actually gives a good sense of the game took a bit longer than it would for some other games. In describing the activities players will partake in, Frictional Games said, "You'll search for notes, solve puzzles, hide from dangers, explore unsettling places, take part in strange events and sometimes just run away. All of these come together with the graphics and soundscape to create a larger whole." Since the atmosphere, narrative, and themes are slowly built up over time, a fairly "large chunk of the game" was required before proper testing could be done. Frictional Games has set five goals for SOMA that it hopes to test and refine through the alpha testing, but before we get to that, here's the new trailer:

The first goal for SOMA is "the feeling of playing a narrative." As I mentioned earlier, SOMA is a story-driven game, so Frictional Games is making sure puzzles never get in the way of the narrative. If you think about the earlier Tomb Raider games, where you find a tomb and you know you're in a "puzzle section," Frictional Games wants to avoid that.

The second goal is "a coherently crafted world." By that, Frictional Games means that SOMA must be steeped in some sense of reality. Unlike Amnesia, where you had supernatural occurrences that could just be explained by "magic," the studio is trying to build SOMA as "proper sci-fi." This means things like realistic technology, sensible puzzles, etc.

The third goal is "gameplay with plenty of variation." Frictional Games wants players to focus on how the game looks, sounds, and feels rather than figuring out some underlying design. This means that the studio will attempt to "keep things fresh and avoid repeating [itself]." Since it's a survival horror game, players can't become too comfortable.

The fourth goal is "deep, disturbing themes that make you think." SOMA isn't simply about scaring you, but rather making you question "what it means to be a sentient being." Frictional Games doesn't want to tell you how to think, but allow you to draw your own conclusions.

Lastly, the fifth goal is "a pervasive sense of horror." SOMA isn't simply about providing a few scares here and there, with Frictional Games instead wanting "this blanket of oppression and fear wrapped around the entire experience." As I said before, players should never feel too comfortable, and the studio certainly doesn't want players to ever be able to "predict upcoming events" because it happened to repeat some pattern too often.

SOMA is coming to PC and PlayStation 4, but "is still a year or so away from its 2015 release." Frictional Games does promise "to reveal a big secret about SOMA" soon though.

Source: PlayStation Blog and Official Site


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Better Understanding of How Metallic Glass Fails

Posted: March 5, 2014 @ time: 09:43AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Typically crystals are thought of as being beautiful stones used in jewelry, but many more materials are crystals, including metals. As molten metal cools, its atoms will align into a structure that gives it certain properties, but it is possible to force the atoms to not align properly, producing a metallic glass. Due to the amorphous structure, metallic glasses can have special properties, including great ductility, and researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Universitat de Barcelona, and Tohoku University are working to improve those properties.

Unlike the glass of a window pane, metallic glasses can be quite flexible, but they will still reach a point where they fracture. Instead of fracturing, the researchers want the metallic glass to fail like other, more ductile materials. To learn how to do that the researchers examined shear bands, which form in a material to relieve the stress applied to it, using nanoindentation. The idea behind nanoindentation is simple enough, as it involves pressing a needle into the material, with all of the force concentrated at the tiny tip. The researchers did this repeatedly to find where and when the shear bands formed.

By controlling the formation of shear bands, it should be possible to control how a metallic glass will fail, and thus a way to shape the material's properties. The researchers have already found that there are multiple types of initiation sites for shear bands, which is counter to the assumption that only one exists.

Source: Los Alamos National Laboratory


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Hardware Roundup: Wednesday Edition

Posted: March 5, 2014 @ time: 10:05AM
Author: bp9801

It's the middle of the week, and there's several items for you to check out to get through the day. We have a review on the Logitech G430 headset, which has 40mm drivers, surround sound via a USB adaptor, and a pretty snazzy exterior. There's also a look at Silicon Power's Stream S03 USB 3.0 Portable HDD that comes in either 500GB or 1TB sizes for those needing some extra storage. We have a rather interesting gaming review that focuses on various free-to-play games to see how they handle different systems. Finishing things off today are the craziest network messes ever, which should make most people stare in amazement at the tangled mass of wires.

Gaming
Benchmarking Free to Play: World of Tanks, Dota 2, PlanetSide 2, and League of Legends Tested @ TechSpot

Speakers/Headphones
Logitech G430 @ LanOC Reviews

Storage/Hard Drives
Silicon Power Stream S03 USB 3.0 Portable HDD @ Madshrimps

Networking
The Craziest Network Messes Ever! @ ThinkComputers


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X2 Products Launches Its First Thermal Grease, Thermica

Posted: March 5, 2014 @ time: 10:20AM
Author: tpsreport

X2 Products has released its first thermal grease, called X2 Thermica, which can be applied to CPU/GPU heat sinks and water blocks, and will operate between temperatures of -50 °C to 200 °C. The formula was "designed to maximize heat transfer" so it's made of 10% Silicon compounds, 45% Carbon compounds, and 45% metal oxide compounds to achieve >5W/m-K thermal conductivity. The X2 Thermica is available for $6.99 and comes in a 0.5g syringe that's sufficient for up to two processor cooler installations.

Source: Product Page


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BlackBerry Reassures BBM Users of Advertisements

Posted: March 5, 2014 @ time: 11:07AM
Author: gebraset

Although BlackBerry will be implementing advertisements within the BlackBerry Messenger service, it is reassuring users that the advertisements will not be located within actual chats. Jeff Gadway, BBM product and brand marketing chief, revealed that creators of BBM channels will be able to push sponsored posts and invites to subscribers. Gadway also announced that users of the BBM service will likely see three different types of advertisements, which differ slightly from each other. Featured placements will appear within the landing page for featured channels, and will be used by channels to gain new subscribers. Sponsored invites will target individuals based on age, interests, location, and other data and will allow channels to invite individuals based on this information. Sponsored posts will appear within updates from BBM Contacts and BBM Channels, offering updates from other channels.

While the advertisements will not be found within actual chats, users can only disable sponsored posts by filtering updates and will have no choice on being targeted by featured placements and sponsored invites.

Source: CNET


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Kindle Fire HDX Receives DISH Anywhere Application

Posted: March 5, 2014 @ time: 11:15AM
Author: gebraset

Although previously only available to Android and iOS devices, the DISH Anywhere application has been updated and is now available for Amazon Kindle Fire HDX tablets. DISH has stated that the latest update to DISH Anywhere shows its continued dedication to the mobile market, and allows users to watch all available content offered across any mobile device. The application allows users that own the DISH Hopper and SLING DVR to view live, recorded, and on demand content on smartphones and tablets. Users can access the content over Wi-Fi or a mobile data network, while having the ability to manage their DVRs, set recordings, and view program guides through DISH Anywhere.

Source: Press Release


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Ubisoft's Child of Light Gets a Co-Op Trailer

Posted: March 5, 2014 @ time: 11:30AM
Author: ClayMeow

Releasing on April 30, 2014 for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Wii U, Child of Light is perhaps Ubisoft's most unique game to date. Set in the magical world of Lemuria, Child of Light is a side-scrolling platformer and turn-based RPG rolled into one. Thanks to the in-house game engine UbiArt Framework, it also has a very unique hand-painted look and feel.

While predominantly a single-player experience, the game does feature local co-op, where one player controls the main protagonist Aurora and another controls her firefly companion Igniculus. The "Co-Op Trailer" published today shows off how it works:

Source: Ubisoft Blog


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Yahoo Ditches Third Party Logins

Posted: March 5, 2014 @ time: 01:21PM
Author: gebraset

Yahoo has begun the process of eliminating third party logins from its website and services, requiring users to have and utilize a Yahoo ID in order to access various services owned and operated by the company. Yahoo announced that to access Yahoo Sports Tourney Pick'Em up for example, users have to use their Yahoo login and cannot access the service using Facebook or Google credentials. The same Yahoo ID focus will be implemented soon with other services offered by Yahoo, including Flickr and Fantasy Sports. Yahoo states that by only allowing a Yahoo login to access various services owned by the company, it is able to provide a more personalized experience for users.

Source: CNET


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Facebook Messenger Released for Windows Phone

Posted: March 5, 2014 @ time: 01:34PM
Author: gebraset

While Facebook announced that its messaging software, known as Facebook Messenger, was going to be unavailable for Windows users as of March 3, 2014, the company was working diligently to prepare the software for Windows Phone devices. Today, Microsoft is announcing that Facebook Messenger is available for immediate download through the Windows Phone Store. Facebook Messenger for Windows Phone provides access to all Facebook friends automatically, and enables users to see which contacts are online, send private messages, group chat, and use pictures as well as stickers in conversations. While contacts are available automatically with the installation of Facebook Messenger, additional contacts can be imported.

Source: Windows Phone Blog


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Batman: Arkham Knight Story Details Emerge

Posted: March 5, 2014 @ time: 01:41PM
Author: ClayMeow

Batman: Arkham Knight was officially announced yesterday, along with an outstanding announcement trailer, but details were sparse. Today, Game Informer posted a video entitled "Revealing The Story Of Batman: Arkham Knight" that sheds some light on the game. One of the biggest surprises is that the "Arkham Knight" moniker does not refer to the Dark Knight himself, but rather "a brand new villain." Hush had been teased last month on the Batman Hush Facebook page (though the teaser is now gone), but it sounds like it may actually be someone we've never seen before in any medium. In the video below, it's stated that Arkham Knight is seen "holding a gun, but looks like Batman," but Rocksteady wasn't ready to divulge much more.

As stated yesterday, Arkham Knight takes place one year after the events of Arkham City. There is a chemical weapon threat by Scarecrow that causes Gotham to be evacuated, though of course hundreds of gang members have moved in. It wouldn't exactly be a Batman Arkham game without a bunch of gang members to beat up on, now would it?

Before I go any further, I'd be remiss if I didn't provide a spoiler warning – IF YOU HAVE NOT FINISHED BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY, SPOILERS AHEAD, INCLUDING THE VIDEO AND THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE.

Okay, now that you've been warned about SPOILERS...

 

In the video above, game director Sefton Hill explained, "One thing we really wanted to respect were the events of Arkham City." This means that Joker is indeed dead. Rocksteady will not be bringing him back to life, he is "dead, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead." Meanwhile, "Harley is distraught [...] and seeking revenge," as she blames Batman for Joker's death. Also, no Harley is not pregnant.

While further details on the story are being kept under wraps, senior script writer Martin Lancaster said that the ending is "bold." This is the finale of the Batman Arkham games and both he and Hill think fans will be satisfied with the ending.

Source: Game Informer


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Path of Exile: Sacrifice of the Vaal Has Officially Launched

Posted: March 5, 2014 @ time: 02:03PM
Author: ClayMeow

Path of Exile's first mini-expansion, Sacrifice of the Vaal, was announced nearly three weeks ago, and after two weeks of teasers before the details were finally spilled this past Friday, its finally live! Sacrifice of the Vaal brings about a lot of changes and additions to the game, with the full patch notes found here. The one thing it doesn't change is developer Grinding Gear's commitment to its free-to-play business model – a model that should be studied and followed by any other studio going the free-to-play route.

If you've never given Path of Exile a try, now is a perfect time to hop in.

Source: Official Site


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Titanfall Season Pass and Digital Deluxe Edition Unveiled

Posted: March 5, 2014 @ time: 02:37PM
Author: ClayMeow

It was fairly inevitable in this day and age that first-person shooter Titanfall was going to receive the Season Pass treatment. Titanfall has "three planned content packs" that will be included in the Season Pass as soon as they become available. As of now, "each content pack will contain new Maps," while additional content has yet to be determined. The game ships with fifteen maps. Individually the content packs will cost $10, with the $24.99 Season Pass saving you $5. But that's not all – PC gamers get to enjoy a further discount!

EA has announced the Titanfall Digital Deluxe Edition exclusively for Origin PC gamers. The Deluxe Edition includes the base game and the Season Pass for just $79.99 and is already available for pre-order. If you happened to already pre-order the Standard Edition, you can contact EA Help to upgrade. The Season Pass will be available for purchase March 11 for Xbox One and March 25 for Xbox 360. It's already available for purchase on PC via Origin, though why any PC gamer would buy the base game and Season Pass separately instead of the Digital Deluxe Edition at this point is beyond me.

Titanfall goes live March 11, but you can watch the launch trailer here.

Source: Official Site


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Observing how Glassy Surfaces Flow

Posted: March 5, 2014 @ time: 02:51PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Glasses can be rather odd materials and part of the reason for that is to do with how they transition from a solid to a liquid. There are temperatures at which they are clearly a solid and clearly a liquid, but in between it can be hard to tell. Researchers at the University of Waterloo have recently found the answer to a twenty-year-old debate concerning the surfaces of glassy materials.

About twenty years ago, it was discovered that at temperatures a glass should be a solid, the surfaces of some were flowing like liquids. Since then researchers have been working to find how this is possible. Though most people will associate glasses with windows, many materials, including metals and polymers can be glasses, as the term refers to a disordered molecular structure. For this work, the researchers were working with a glass of polystyrene. Thin slices of the glass were stacked to form staircase-like steps just 100 nm high. The researchers then observed and measured how the steps changed shape over time, and thanks to the simple 2D profile of the surface, they were able to numerically model it.

With this understanding of glasses, researchers can consider how nanostructures made of a glass will change over time. This could impact the use of thin film coatings and how small some nanoscale devices and circuitry can be made.

Source: University of Waterloo


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