And you thought the majority of today’s first-person shooters were only easy on the eyes. As it turns out, playing a fast-moving, state-of-the-art action game might be less like a warm glass of milk for your poor peepers, and more like a monolithic can of Monster.
According to a study conducted by Daphne Bavelier of the University of Rochester in New York, a few rounds of games like Call of Duty or Unreal Tournament may be enough to improve your eyes’ contrast sensitivity. Translated into the hip vernacular you kids have grown so accustomed to: Capping fools, punks, or whatever these are could save you from dying in a fire.
“People who used a video-game training program saw significant improvements in their ability to notice subtle differences in shades of gray, a finding that may help people who have trouble with night driving,” noted the study.
While undoubtedly cool, the study’s results were far from expected. Apparently, contrast sensitivity doesn’t typically undergo significant change without an alteration to the optics of the eye -- glasses or surgery, for example.
The games played by each group, for those interested, were Call of Duty 2 and Unreal Tournament 2004 for the “action” group, and The Sims 2 for the non-action group. The first group saw a 43 percent improvement in contrast sensitivity, while the second saw none – possibly due to blindness or some other malady that our cruel universe has chosen to afflict upon those who are not truly hardcore.
Don’t sit too close to the screen, huh? Oh how the tides have turned.
Imagine charging your iPod or cellphone just by jumping on the treadmill and getting your heart pumping faster. Sounds far fetched, but according to researchers at the School of Material Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, it's also feasible. The researchers say they can convert low-frequency vibrations, like body movements or the beating of a heart, into electricity by using zinc oxide nanowires to conduct the electricity.
"This research will have a major impact on defense technology, environmental monitoring, biomedical sciences, and even personal electronics," said lead researcher Zhong Lin Wang.
The nanowires are piezoelectric, meaning they generate electric energy when subjected to mechanical stress. They can be grown on metals, ceramics, polymers, and clothing. By developing them into production, Wang and company say they could be used by military troops to run electronic devices. Wang also pointed out the possibility of powering biosensors implanted under the skin. All it takes to generate energy is movement.
No announcement has been made on when to expect commercial development, however there's no lack of funding for the work, which includes the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation.
According to Google, if you’ve got valuable documents out on their Google Docs suite of applications, you shouldn’t worry your pretty little head off. According to them, the alleged issues are smoke and mirrors.
In an official blog post by Jonathan Rochelle, Google Docs’ Product Manager, he explains, “At Google, we treat the privacy and integrity of our users' data with the highest priority. We quickly investigated, and we believe that these concerns do not pose a significant security risk to our users. If you want the details, read on...”
The blog post continues to meticulously break down and debunk the issues that the analyst, Ade Barkah, had brought to their attention.
Though, Google did admit that earlier this month a glitch in Docs caused some user documents to be exposed to those without proper permissions. The problem occurred amongst users that had previously shared documents, but reportedly affected less than 0.05 percent of the documents.
At this month’s GDC AMD and Havok teamed up to show off the latest advances in their development of OpenCL, a new programming language that will allow physics processing to swap from the CPU to GPU on the fly.
The concept behind OpenCL is simple; it’s a system that will allow the load from physics processing to shift from different pieces of hardware on the fly. For example, if a gamer has a high end GPU but a slower processor, OpenCL can detect this and move a bulk (if not all) of the physics processing to the GPU, alleviating some of the stress from the CPU. And this system works vice versa, for slower GPUs but high end CPUs.
What’s even better is that OpenCL will work across all platforms. While PhysX currently only works with Nvidia GPU’s, OpenCL will work with AMD and Intel processors, as well as Nvidia and ATI GPUs. So, no more concerns about compatibility!
Sadly, at GDC the demo that was on display was only on an individual piece of hardware, the switch between CPU to GPU wasn’t shown. AMD was clear to state that their demo was only a proof-of-concept, and that the development process is still ongoing.
In what could become a growing trend among colleges, the University of Virginia will no longer run any campus computer labs. The University came to the decision based in part on only four freshmen out of 3,117 enrolled in 2007 showing up without a PC of their own, most of which were laptops, according to data from the school's Information Technology & Communication department.
That wasn't the case just a short decade ago, when 74 percent of incoming freshman owned a PC, only 16 percent of which were laptops. With 99.9 percent of today's incoming freshman owning a PC, the University of Virginia feels it's the right time to shut down its labs, even though usage remains high. School vice president James Hilton said it costs about $300,000 per year to run the campus computer labs, although the amount it will save will depend on what it costs to provide alternative access to community printers, specialized software, and othe services.
Have school computer labs become obsolete? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
I love Twitter. I think it’s a lot of fun, it’s a great way to keep track of those that you find most interesting, and now it appears that it will help you let the world know just what you’re up to… while you’re on the road!
According to Gear Live, Twitter will be implemented into OnStar by using text-to-speech conversion to help you update your status on the go. “While in your vehicle, you can use OnStar to submit and retrieve tweets (messages) via your Twitter account. Using OnStar’s Voice-Activated Hands-Free Calling system, and having your voice converted into text, you can provide updates which would appear in the ‘What are you doing?’ section of your Twitter homepage. It is also possible to listen to a tweet that was sent to you by someone else after it has been converted into voice. You can send and receive tweets without having to type or read anything.”
It’s expected that this can be a great tool for asking the world where the best cup of coffee in downtown San Francisco is, and waiting to hear the responses (for example). Moreover, it’s a great way to just let your followers know what you’re up to without having to endanger those around you. Eliminating the danger of feverishly typing out your 140-character updates while steering with your knees is mighty slick.
The economy is tanking and so is the market for film DVDs. All slumps warrant that businesses make the most of their resources. Warner Bros has resolved to do exactly that: it is going to milk old movie titles in its archive for some extra cash. The film studio has begun selling 150 old movies as part of its new DVD-on-demand service. Movie buffs can choose between made-to-order DVDs and digital downloads.
It plans to add 20 movies and TV shows to its DVD-on-demand service every month. The new service will let Warner Bros squeeze some extra cash from its film archive without having to worry about the demand. As DVDs will only be produced when demanded, there is no risk of superfluous production.
Each made-to-order DVD will set you back by $19.95 (exclusive of shipping charges). If you have altogether abolished the old-fashioned habit of purchasing DVDs, you can download these movies for $15 per title.
Nvidia is said to be eying a stake in VIA Technologies. VIA, which manufactures x86-based CPUs, is planning to sell 300 million new shares through private placement. Sources have revealed Nvidia and VIA are holding parleys. However, there is no official word on the names of those interested in buying a stake in VIA. According to Taiwanese website Digitimes, the price of the new shares will range between $0.27 and $.35. Intel has plans of invading Nvidia’s turf with its yet-to-be-released Larrabee GPU. Therefore, a stake in VIA might help Nvidia keep the scales even.
Our own Will Smith uses Twitter to announce new articles and content on Maximum PC, my wife and I use Twitter to keep track of our kids and their friends, and "Britney Spears" uses it to entertain and inform her fans. Why the quote marks? A weekend article in The New York Timesreveals what Cnetsays "we all sort of knew already" - Twitter is full of ghostwritten entries.
Some of the sports figures, celebrities, and politicians who use ghostwriters on Twitter and other Web 2.0 social network sites include Britney Spears (although her staff is now signing their own entries), 50 Cent, Candidate/President Barack Obama, Kanye West, Ron Paul, and others. However, the Times also gives credit where due to to celebrities who write their own tweets like Shaquille O'Neal and Lance Armstrong (who one-handed a recent tweet about breaking his collarbone).
Join us after the jump to sound off about celebrity social-network ghostwriting.
Noticeably absent from the momentous solid state drive (SSD) market is Western Digital, whose Raptor hard drives have often been used as a performance comparison when benchmarking the fastest SSDs. Following a $65 million cash acquisition of SiliconSystems, a supplier of SSDs for the embedded systems market, look for Western Digital to soon jump into the foray.
"We are delighted to have the SiliconSystems team join WD," said John Coyne, president and CEO of WD. "The combination will be modestly accretive to revenue and margins as a result of SiliconSystems' existing position as a trusted supplier to the well-established $400 million market for embedded solid-state drives. SiliconSystems' intellectual property and technical expertise will significantly accelerate WD's solid-state drive development programs for the netbook, client and enterprise markets, providing greater choice for our customers to satisfy all their storage requirements."
Western Digital says it has immediately begun integrating its acquisition, starting with SiliconSystems now becoming known as the WD Solid-State Storage business unit.
In a related Q&A regarding the acquisition, WD says it plans to "retain substantially all of the approximately 100 employees" working for SiliconSystems. However, WD was more coy when it came to offering an ETA for marketing SSDs, saying that it only announces new products when they begin shipping.