I’m sitting on the stairs to the San Jose Civic Auditorium’s balcony alongside Tommy Tallarico, self-proclaimed “veritable games industry icon” and co-creator of the popular Video Games Live (VGL) concert series. It’s an hour and change before the first show of the night—the first back-to-back doubleheader in the tour’s three-year history—and the audience is beginning to fill the space of the once-empty lobby with the boasting of gaming conquests and click-click-clack of sweaty fingers against plastic guitar frets.
Tallarico is in the middle of running through the list of countries VGL has appeared in since it hit its start button for 11,000 eager gamers at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl in 2005. The show’s worldwide travels could rival Carmen Sandiego for flyer miles. Tallarico’s describing his geeky Rainbow Tour when an usher walks up.
“Are you guys a part of the show?”
Go Behind the Scenes with Video Games Live after the jump!
This past weekend, legion of sweaty nerds – 60,000 strong – invaded the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle to celebrate video games, table top gaming, and nerdcore at the fifth annual Penny-Arcade Expo. Maximum PC was on site for all three days of the event to witness (and take part in) the spectacle and immerse ourselves in unabashed mass geek-out. And just as we did with Comic-Con, we’ve brought back a massive photo gallery of the 128 standout cosplayers from the convention, comprised mostly of video game and anime characters. And if you were that dude adorned in armor made entirely of Magic: The Gathering cards, you’re our hero.
From baseball's Mitchell Report to track star Marion Jones being stripped of her Olympic medals, the awareness of drug use in competitive sports is at an all-time high. So high, in fact, that even professional gaming can't stay ducked under the radar.
Casting aside for the moment whether or not gaming qualifies as a 'sport,' there's no debate to the amount of money being made in professional gaming. Major League Gaming gives up to $100,000 a tournament in prize money, and the other U.S. based major league, the newly minted Championship Gaming Series, has awarded as much as $500,000 in tournaments. The tally gets even higher when expanding to a global view.
And whether or not you count professional gaming as a sport, with that much money at stake, is anyone surprised that accusations of drug use have started to be thrown? According to GamePlayer, an Australian lead gaming site, some of the commonly abused substances include marijuana, amphetamines, Dexamphetamine and Methylphenidate (Ritalin), Caffeine, and FpsBrain.
In a followup to the story, GamePlayer pinged Alex Walker, the director of the Australian World Cyber Games Tournament, who readily acknowledged that players are abusing drugs in order to enhance their performance. Walker notes seeing "a number of players at national tournaments who came in "baked" purely so they could play better."
As professional gaming grows in popularity, drug use could potentially become an even bigger problem. But at the current profit margin, gaming leagues can ill afford to implement drug testing, and DailyTech notes that a strict drug enforcement policy that includes marijuana could be met with a backlash among gamers.
Thoughts on the subject? Hit the jump and let us know.
Has the time come to say goodbye to Abit? According to Hexus.net, the Taiwanese technology company and one-time enthusiast favorite will exit the motherboard market at the end of 2008.
"HEXUS.channel has confirmed this as fact from sources close to South East Asian distributors," the news and review site writes. "all of which will be notified by their Abit sales contacts from today onwards."
This isn't the first time Abit has been rumored to shut down or leave motherboards behind. Faced with bankruptcy, Abit was acquired by Taiwanese manufacturer Universal Scientific International (USI) back in May of 2006, and rumors this past year of Abit's demise swirled so strongly that the company issued a public denial.
Old school enthusiasts might recall Abit as one of the premier motherboard makers geared towards overclockers, a reputation which arguably took a hit when the company inked a deal to sell Fatal1ty branded products just months before the acquisition. For fans both old and new, Hexus reports Abill will honor RMAs and warranties for three years subsequently.
With Nehalem Core i7 nearing release, that means you can expect to find good deals on what's soon to be last generation hardware. But if you're looking to jump onto the Core 2 bandwagon on the cheap, you needn't wait for Core i7. Intel has updated its processor pricing list and added a new Celeron D model.
Taking its place as the second least expensive quad-core processor in Intel's lineup is the 45nm Q8200 priced at $224 (only the Q6600 costs less). Two and a quarter C-notes buys you four 2.33GHz cores running on a 1333MHz frontside-bus, but only 4MB of L2 cache.
For those content with two cores, the 45nm E5200 priced at $84 is now the least expensive Core 2 Duo processor in Intel's lineup. The E5200 comes clocked at 2.5GHz on an 800MHz frontside-bus with 2MB L2 cache.
And finally, making its debut is the Celeron D 450. Priced at a low $53, the 65nm 450 runs at 2.2GHz on an 800MHz frontside-bus with 512K of L2 cache.
Tom's Hardwarereports that AMD is set to launch the new ATI HD 4600 series of video cards on September 10. The HD 4600 is designed to compete with the GeForce 9500 series of video cards, and is expected to replace the ATI HD 3800 series.
HD 4670 versus HD 4650
The HD 4600 series, like the GT 9500 GT, provides best performance when used with GDDR3 memory, but will also be available with DDR3 and DDR2 memory. Cards based on the RV730XT GPU will be known as the HD 4670 (available in 1GB and 512MB RAM versions), while cards based on the slower RV730 Pro GPU will be known as the HD 4650 (available with 512MB of RAM).
Both GPUs will offer PCI Express 2.0 support, DirectX 10.1 support, physics and dynamic geometry acceleration, 24x CFAA technology, 128-bit memory bandwidth, HDCP support for full-quality HD playback, and CrossFire support. The HD 4670 has a power requirement of only 70 to 80 watts, while the HD 4650 requires only 50 to 55 watts, making them ideal for home theater systems.
Want to see more pictures of actual HD 4670 hardware? Join us after the jump for links.
Dell’s second quarter results fell short of expectations as its year-over-year earnings fell by 17%. Its second quarter earnings stood at $616 million as opposed to $746 million last year. But Dell’s CFO Brian Gladden doesn’t see the dip in profits as a cause for concern. He labeled the second quarter as a “great growth quarter” and imputed the fall in earnings to the money spent on driving growth in Europe. Although the company’s revenue in the second quarter was up by 11% compared to the preceding year, Wall Street pundits are unsatisfied by the results. Dell is focusing on strengthening its retail presence around the globe and expects to profit from it in the long-run. Are you bullish or bearish about Dell’s prospects? Have your say.
The past few months we've watched SSDs gain momentum and attract the focus of both manufacturers and consumers. From larger capacities to faster performance, traditional hard drives suddenly find themselves on the verge of obsolesence. Or do they?
One of the biggest concerns surrounding SSDs continues to be long-term reliability, but there might even be a bigger stumbling block. Because many SSDs use industry-standard NAND flash chips designed for handheld gadgets, physical security becomes a potential issue. Jim Handy, director of semiconductor research and consulting firm Objective Analysis, points out there's nothing to prevent a hacker from unsoldering NAND chips from an SSD and extracting the data using a flash chip programmer. "There's really nothing sophisticated about this process," Handy said.
But that's not the only method. A hacker could use an ultraviolet laser to wipe out lock bits (encryption locks) from fuses on chip that secure SSDs. The data can then be read without any special software.
Is Jim Handy right to be concerned? Hit the jump to post your thoughts.
All that experience in court looks to be paying off for Microsoft. After all, how else could you explain receiving $20.75 million from the very company whose patents you're using. Confused? Let's backtrack.
In 2002, Immersion took exception to the rumble effects in Microsoft's controllers for the Xbox and sued the Redmond giant for patent infringement. Microsoft ultimately settled with Immersion, agreeing to pay $26 million to end the litigation, but not without a clause. Before agreeing to pay the sum, Microsoft stipulated that if Sony should ever license Immersions force feedback technology for it's PS3 controllers, Immersion would have to pay a portion of the settlement.
Immersion did end up settling with Sony last year, and that's good news for Microsoft. It took some legal wrangling to get it done, but Immersion has finally agreed to pay Microsoft and make good on the clause.
"We are pleased to have reached a resolution to our legal dispute with Immersion that includes a $20.75 million payment to Microsoft," said Steve Aeschbacher, associate general counsel for Microsoft. "We are gratified that we have successfully resolved our claims under the 2003 settlement we negotiated with Immersion, which provided benefits to both companies and specific rights to Microsoft."
And Microsoft has every reason to be pleased. Legal costs aside, the payment whittles down the company's initial $26 licensing settlement to just over $5 million.
Windows Live Hotmail’s 260 million users worldwide can look forward to a multitude of new features that were recently unveiled by Microsoft. Hotmail wave 3 promises a speed boost of over 70% during sign in, and will enable dynamic storage that will grow at a rate of 250 MB per month. Microsoft is also reportedly working to address the user interface problems which have plagued the service since the roll out of wave 2. Hotmail users currently have the option of picking between the well loved “classic” or the “full” user interface which reportedly suffers from a low adoption rate. This low adoption rate has kept the classic version alive, and made it difficult for Microsoft to roll out new features. Hotmail wave 3 looks to merge the layout of the “classic” with the functionality of the “full”, an approach they are hoping will finally please everyone. This is something that is desperately needed to help attract and retain users currently considering competing services such as Gmail or Yahoo. Improved integration of Live contacts, calendar, and instant messaging help to round out the initial batch of leaked features. The press release doesn’t make any mention of the long rumored POP support or any Skydrive integration, but hopefully these features are still in the works. No public beta has been announced yet, but the “coming soon” headline suggests it probably isn’t that far off.
Are you a former or current Hotmail user? Will these new features keep you with the service or send you running back? Hit the jump and let us know what you think.