Recently, I was flipping through the latest Electronic Gaming Monthly when I came across an ad for Too Human. The ad itself was nicely produced, essentially screaming "This game is about killing robots," with hero Baldur standing confidently before a heap of his slain foes. The plethora of robo corpses that cluttered the page wasn't what interested me, though. Instead, it was a small quote by Friedrich Nietzsche that drew my focus. After that, my first thought was, "Well, now I need to read up on Nietzsche to fully understand the point that Dyack and co. are trying to make with their game. Cool!"
But, by that same token, I've met and spoken with plenty of people who, after a long, exhausting day at the office, want nothing more than a little catharsis. With their brain already floating in a hazy cloud of near-unconsciousness, they don't want to think. Games as art? Who needs 'em? Some people just want to have fun.
So, which side of the line do you call home? Do you F5 Brainy Gamer all day long while extolling the virtues of story in games? Or did you think Metal Gear Solid 4 was a pretentious pile of crap -- treading on territory reserved for literature and film? Thought-provoking or mindless fun? Which do you prefer?
Today's Roundup has a little something for everyone. With a story about one of the artsiest designers out there packing up shop and heading for the PC, some big news concerning the most cathartic series in all of gaming, and a use for games that's neither art nor entertainment, no one will walk out of this theater with a dissatisfied frown. Jump past the break for the full thing.
Programs like LogMeIn and other similar remote access software can be a boon when you need to access a file on your home machine while you're at work, but happens if there's a temporary power outage? You could drive back home to turn on your PC and grab the file while you're there, but according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Intel's developing a better solution that will allow people to power up their computers and retrieve files over the internet.
Called Remote Wake, the technology will reportedly work only on PCs using a "recently introduced chipset from Intel" and require a software install on the remote system. The technology is said to enable home computers to wake up from sleep mode for incoming VoIP calls and allow users to remotely access live TV shows, webcam feeds, photos, videos, and music.
"This is an extension of a technology that's been around in the server world for several years," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc. "On servers, you have something that's called a service processor that's always awake and can do things like monitor the system, do reboots, and run diagnostics. You'd have complete remote access to your home PC. You could do that now, but the computer has to be turned on all the time, and sleep mode can interfere with remote operations."
The technology is expected to become available as early as next week.
Rambus hoped to make strides with its RDRAM technology, and while it never did take off, it's only a matter of time before a new technology shakes up the random access memory market. Engineers and physicists from Germany think they'll be the ones to do it and have demonstrated what looks to be the quickest prototype yet of an advanced form of RAM, one which challenges the fundamental speed-limit for the process.
Called magnetoresistive random access memory, MRAM uses a faster and more energy efficient version of today's modules, which store a digital 1 or 0 as the level of charge in the capacitor. By comparison, MRAM stores the same information by changing the north-south direction of a tiny magnet's magnetic field, with each variable magnet positioned next to one with a fixed field. To read the stored value, a current runs through the pair to discover the direction of the variable magnet's field.
There are different types of MRAM technologies, and the one most manufacturers are hedging their bets on is called spin-torque MRAM, which involves spinning electrons to flip the magnetic fields. In what could see the technology emerge in as little as just a few years, German researchers have now built a spin-torque system from tiny pillars just 165nm tall that looks to be dramatically faster than any other. The top of the pillar acts as a variable magnet that stores the data, with fixed magnets occupying the bottom. When a current passes through, the electrons reach the pillars' other end and flip the variable magnet region's field to match.
NewScientistTech has much more on the topic, and we want to hear what you think about the emerging RAM technology by posting below.
When you do something really well in the corporate world, it’s often easier for a bigger company to just acquire you, rather than try to out do you. Just look at Alienware and Dell or Voodoo and HP. Now, Logitech has acquired Ultimate Ears for $34 million in cash.
Ultimate Ears has a loyal following of touring musicians, sound engineers and mainstream music lovers. An estimated 75 percent of today’s touring rock musicians now use the Ultimate Ears custom-fit in-ear monitor while performing. Pricing for the company’s consumer products begins around $40, while pricing for custom products can be as much as $1200.
“Ultimate Ears is a perfect fit for Logitech and our audio business,” said Gerald P. Quindlen, Logitech president and chief executive officer. “Since its inception, Ultimate Ears has been driven by innovation, close ties to its customers, and the desire to enable an immersive audio experience. Logitech’s success has been built on using a deep understanding of our customers to create innovative products that let people immerse themselves in their pursuits – whether they are listening to music, gaming, watching a video or otherwise enjoying their digital lifestyle. We look forward to using our worldwide distribution network and operational efficiencies to help more people discover this superior listening experience.”
We can hope that they adapt some of Ultimate Ears technology into some really great headsets for computers too!
It's been a rough ride for Nvidia as of late, who not only has had to contend with a suddenly competitive ATI, but also finds itself battling a bad batch of mobile GPUs (which might turn out to be a bigger problem than initially stated). The struggles have turned financial with the graphics chip maker reporting a net loss of $120.9 million in the second quarter, or 22 cents a share. This is in stark contrast to one year ago when the company posted a profit of $172.7 million, or 29 cents a share.
The quarter's results include a $196 million charge Nvidia took to cover warranty, repairs, and other costs associated with an "abnormal failure rate" among its mobile GPUs. Nvidia executives are hopeful for a somewhat better third quarter, saying they expect revenue to grow "slightly."
"We didn't lose any share, the market just got soft on us," said chief executive Jen-Hsun Huang. And while Huang admitted that the second quarter results are "disappointing," the company still saw its shares rise by 10 percent after announcing a $1 billion boost to its stock buyback program.
The last thing you want to see while hanging from a wire high above a crowd of spectators is Microsoft's Blue Screen of Death lingering in mid-air, but that's exactly what happened to Li Ning, one of China's sporting greats. The incident took place during the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, and as Ning geared up for the torch lighting climax inside the Bird's Nest, stadium projectors beamed the BSOD onto the roof where it was clearly visible for all to see.
The BSOD came as an unfortunate side effect to using specialized theatrical computer controlled lighting equipment to light up the Bird's Nest, making the process not only automated, but susceptible to software failures. But hey, at least Windows was only running the light show and not the high wire act!
Technology has always left the laws of the land playing catch up when it comes to regulating new things. A new law under consideration in California would allow cyber bullies who use text messages or the Internet to harass their fellow students to be suspended or expelled under a bill that is close to passing the state Legislature. The bill applies to bullying through messaging, cell phones, pagers, computers or other electronic communication devices.
Almost from the very beginning the internet has had it’s own form of bullies in the shape of Trolls and other jerks that feel brave based on the sense of anonymity (real or perceived) that being online gives them. Whether these Trolls are ‘griefing’ a multiplayer games or flaming a forum it has been up to the admins of these services to police their domain which boils down to cleaning up the Troll dung and banishing them by whatever means at their disposal.
This type of behavior in recent years has begun to see overlap with the more traditional schoolyard type bullies. Advanced cell phones with photo and video capabilities and text messaging and internet access make it all too easy for embarrassing situations to become immortalized online forever. This can make life hell for these kids at an age when they are most vulnerable.
They admonished the detractors of the proposal for objecting to the AWS-3 spectrum auction. The two Congressmen don’t believe that the TDD technology that will be used for the Pan-American wireless broadband network will jeopardize services in the AWS-1 region. T-Mobile had objected to any auction in the 2155-2180 MHz spectrum range as it holds AWS-1 spectrum. The duo also supports the proposed auction as it is worried about U.S loosing the broadband-penetration wars to other countries.
Free Wireless broadband certainly seems a step in the right direction. However, the question is whether suppression of pornographic material would encroach upon the right to freedom of speech.
Toms Hardware reports that Intel’s "Extensible Host Controller Interface (xHCI) draft specification revision 0.9 in support of the USB 3.0 architecture, also known as SuperSpeed USB" is now available. This is a good indicator that we might see the first USB 3.0 demonstrations at next week’s IDF in San Francisco.
xHCI draft specification provides hardware component designers, system builders and device driver developers with a description of the hardware/software interface between system software. It is being made available under RAND-Z (i.e. royalty free) licensing terms to all USB 3.0 Promoter Group and contributor companies that sign an xHCI contributor agreement.
It doesn’t appear that the new spec will be backward compatible past USB 2.0. I find it hard to believe that USB 1.1 devices will be out of luck, so I plan to keep an eye on that aspect. USB 3.0 at 600 MB/s will offer a ten-fold increase in the bandwidth of USB 2.0 at 4.8 Gb/s. That is pretty impressive if it approaches it’s spec yield. USB 2.0 spec rate is 480 Mbit/s but typical USB PC-hosts rarely exceed sustained transfers of 280 Mbit/s.
Will you be wanting USB 3.0 on your future system?
Microsoft demonstrated its newly-unveiled Unwrap Mosaic video editing research project this week at SIGGRAPH. Unwrap Mosaic enables users to add shapes ("artifacts") to home video. As Gizmodo describes it, you can use it to put "a handlebar mustache on Grandma."
If that makes Unwrap Mosaic sound no more sophisticated than a spray-paint can in the hands of a tagger, consider Geek.com's summary:
[Unwrap Mosaic] is best described as the Photoshop of video editing tools. With UM you can literally take a video and change the appearance of the objects it contains. The demonstration video shows this in action with the male star having a moustache, bushy eyebrows and rosy cheeks added. The result looks natural, moving realistically with the face, and the first-time viewer would think he’d had a moustache all along.
Don't go banging down the doors at your local "Software-R-US" store or start surfing for your own copy of Unwrap Mosaic just yet, though. It's still a research project, but you can learn more at the Microsoft Research website. Unwrap Mosaic is just one of 13 different presentations that Microsoft is offering at SIGGRAPH 2008.
Are you looking forward to the chance to use photo-editing tools on your videos? Worried about a further blurring of the line between reality and "virtual reality"? Sound off after the jump!