Economy got you down? No longer able to make those day-long trips to your local computer store of choice for all the latest and greatest software tools? Tired of paying top-dollar for programs that don't quite have the functionality you want? Well get ready. It's freeware and open-source week at Maximum PC. We're going to spend the next week showing you the best (and cheapest) software we've been able to find across different themes: graphics design, system optimization, games, and office/productivity.
Just because it doesn't come in a box doesn't mean that these titles are any less powerful than their retail counterparts. The graphics category exemplifies that fact, offering programs that are every bit as good as their hundred-dollar Adobe counterparts. But just for good measure, we threw in our favorite free Adobe graphics program too. Check out that, and the rest of our exclusive list, after the jump!
When an MMO begins to feel its bones a creakin', and decides it's time to curl up and die from natural causes (read: WoW), one of the first phenomena an outside observer will witness is the server merge. Generally a result of sudden population deflations from formerly-packed games, when servers collide, the game in question has probably seen better days. Age of Conan, sadly, is one such game.
"I can today confirm that we are actively working on an approach to merge servers, both in Europe and North America," announced AoC director Craig Morrison. "It's important for us to ensure the best gameplay experience for you all, and more healthy populations on each and every server will make sure we maintain healthy communities for the game in the future."
But AoC's troubles don't end there. Funcom, the loincloth-tacular MMO's publisher, may soon be dressing like its scantily clad (but undeniably manly) hero. As of now, Funcom's stock is sitting at a two-year low -- trading for a mere $5.
So, moral of the story? Never, ever prefix your game's title with "Age of..."
Tiberium, EA's second attempt at bolstering the frail, emaciated FPS genre with its popular Command & Conquer license, sucks. Or at least it did -- until EA gave it the old "It's not us; it's you" speech while pointing to a particularly splintery portion of the chopping block.
"The game had fundamental design challenges from the start," said EA LA's Mike Verdu. "We fought to correct the issues, but we were not successful; the game just isn't coming together well enough to meet our own quality expectations as well as those of our consumers."
"The quality bar has been raised," he added. "Now we need to step up our focus on great design and execution, catching any problems early and correcting them quickly."
Additionally, a portion of EA LA's elite team now finds itself jobless, but EA corporate "will make every effort to place affected individuals on projects within the studio – and where that isn't possible, to connect them with opportunities in other teams at EA."
As game development costs continue to surge upward, we can't help but fear we'll see more mid-development games unceremoniously dashed against the curb, with no chance for a reinvigorating adjustment or two.
Are there any other troubled games you think might soon be circling the drain?
"Here's the problem right now; the person who is savvy enough to want to have a good PC to upgrade their video card, is a person who is savvy enough to know Bittorrent to know all the elements so they can pirate software. Therefore, high-end videogames are suffering very much on the PC."
"Right now, it makes sense for us to focus on Xbox 360 for a number of reasons. Not least PCs with multiple configurations and piracy."
And finally, when questioned about a PC port for our jump-suit clad selves of the future:
But along with giving me one extra reason to cry myself to sleep at night -- as well as driving a nice, fat stake into GFW's termite-infested coffin -- Bleszinski's comments raise an interesting question: What's worse? Tearing open a game box only to find the sour scent of DRM sulking its way into your nostrils, or never being given the chance to purchase (or "rent," for the more bitter among you) a game at all?
There's a major disappointment resonating from Redmond, and really, you're the only one that can do anything about it. you see, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer doesn't like "not being No. 1," but that's exactly the position his company takes in the search arena. If that's to change - and Ballmer believes Microsoft may be the only company with a fighting chance - he says it will take several more years and lots of cash.
It's going to take us a while," Ballmer said during a speech at the Churchhill Club. "It's a five-year task. We've got a lot to do."
Ballmer went on to say that the Microsoft will have to figure out a way to fundamentally change both the experience and economics of the search industry, claiming his company has "taken some steps in that direction." Of course, we're sure Google would have a different outlook, but ultimately it's you, the web searcher, who decides the outcome. So if you refuse to use Live Search because it sucks compared to Google, at least consider switching so Ballmer can sleep more soundly at night at not having to be not No. 1.
As far as moral victories in the browser wars go, Apple's Safari web browser can now claim one of them. The Safari 4 beta scored a perfect 100/100 on the brutal Acid3 web standards test, becoming the first browser to pass all four conditions of the test (browser must use default settings, animation has to be smooth, score must end on 100/100, and must produce a pixel perfect copy of the reference rendering).
In theory, this would make Safari the dominant browser, with Opera 9.52 scoring 84 points, Firefox 3.0.3 at 71 points, and IE7 and IE8 posting rather dismal scores at 14 and 21 points respectively. Somewhat marring Safari's achievement is that whole market share thing, in which Microsoft's Internet Explorer, despite lagging way behind the competition in Acid3's testing, still dominates by a wide margin.
The question is, do you care about the Acid3 test?
NBC has lost many battles over the past few years, but it looks as though it might actually win the war over its copy protected media. Executives from the company claim to have found a “template” for protecting their videos from piracy, and it appears as though it’s actually working. You may have noticed lately that copy protected content from NBC and others have been slowly drying up from video swapping sites like YouTube, Dailymotion, Veoh and even Soapbox. And as a result, NBC has been very vocal about the fact that it is generally satisfied with the new systems these services have put in place. As proof NBC cites its recent successes in controlling content from the both the Olympic Games and select Saturday Night Live clips. Clearly NBC views YouTube and other similar services as the primary battleground in protecting their content and attributes a large percentage of online video piracy to being committed out of convenience. According to Rick Cotton NBC’s general council; "What has happened up to now is the ability to access and download infringing content has been trivially simple, and the lesson it teaches people is that if it's that easy it can't be wrong,". NBC however seems to recognize that it needs to find alternatives to these services or risk pushing users to harder forms of piracy such as Bit Torrent. Arguably its full length episodes at both nbc.com and hulu.com do just that. Only time will tell if NBC’s main beef was truly over controlling its content, or simply locking it down to traditional distribution models.
Does the end of copy protected media on sites like YouTube put the death nail in user submitted video? Hit the jump and let us know what you think.
He fears that this will considerably hamper the connectivity of the internet. He has suggested that internet be urgently switched to a new system. That new system is already in use in Japan for linking thousands of earthquake sensors and has been around for almost a decade. The IPv6 as it is called can provide an inexhaustible 340 trillion, trillion, trillion addresses.
There’s no secret that GPUs have some extreme muscle behind them, and a team of researchers at Michigan Technological University are harnessing this power to better understand the most complicated of real-life systems.
The project, lead by Roshan D’Souza is supercharging agent-based modeling, a powerful and computationally massive forecasting technique, with the goal of modeling complex biological systems such as the human immune response to the tuberculosis bacterium.
Mikola Lysenko, the computer science student that wrote the software demonstrated the ability of the program. A demo showing an impressive swarm of bright green immune cells surrounding and containing yellow tuberculosis bacterium was the product of millions of real-time calculations. D’Souza claims “I've been asked if we ran this on a supercomputer or if it's a movie.”
D’Souza’s only real concern is being able to do more with the technology, “We can do it much bigger,” he says. He hopes to model how a tuberculosis bacterium infection could spread from the lung to a patient’s lymphatic system, blood and vital organs.
Agent-based modeling is something that will be used to revolutionize medical research. Dr. Gary An, a surgeon specializing in trauma and critical care at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine is pioneering its use. He’s doing so by modeling another matter of life and death, sepsis. These infections, which consist of billions of agents (including cells and bacteria), have had too complex of a model to map – until now.
While admittedly most of us will need our own supercomputer to decipher the medical jargon used to simply describe the actions of the GPU powered agent-based modeling, there’s no doubt that the results will be astonishing. And it appears that they’re not the only ones taking advantage of this supreme power.
According to a recent study conducted at the University of Leigh in Bethlehem, PA, chances are good that if you email, you’re a liar. The study, which involved 48 MBA students, consisted of giving them $89 to divide between themselves and an unknown party. Their only means of communication allowed were either email or pen-and-paper.
The study found that the students that communicated using email lied about the amount of money they had to split a whopping 92% of the time. On average the emailers gave only $29 and reported only a $56 pot. Those using pen and paper scored a bit better, but not by much. They lied only 64% of the time.
Those conducting the test say “There is a growing concern in the workplace over e-mail communications, and it comes down to trust. You're not afforded the luxury of seeing non-verbal and behavioral cues over e-mail. And in an organizational context, that leaves a lot of room for misinterpretation and, as we saw in our study, intentional deception.”
Another similar test was conducted with 69 full-time MBA students. This test showed results that the more familiar those emailing with each other are, the less deceptive the lies. “But they would still lie, regardless of how well they identified with each other,” the study said