Next to the "atomic pen", having your name written on a grain of rice is laughably large. That's because the text size to beat - which, by the way, isn't beatable - measures just 2 x 2 nanometers, or about the equivalent of 40,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.
"It's not possible to write any smaller than this," said Masayuki Abe, a researcher involved in the project.
Abe is part of a research team at Osaka University who recently demonstrated the atomic pen inscribing nano-sized text. The pen was built based on a previous discovery in which silicon atoms at the tip of an atomic force microscope probe will interchange with the tin atoms in the surface of a semiconductor sample when in close proximity. Using this method, the researchers arranged individual silicon atoms one at a time to write the letters "Si," a task which took the team about an hour and a half.
But there's more at stake here than invisible vandalism. Researchers say the atomic pen could lead to advances in atomic scale technology, eventually making it possible to build a PC small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.
November's shaping up to be a busy month, and it has nothing to do with Thanksgiving. On the desktop front, Intel's Core i7 platform is rumored to launch on November 17th, and in the mobile sector, MSI looks to launch its Wind U120 with built-in 3.5G before December rolls around, according to DigiTimes.
The new netbook will feature the usual assortment of components - Atom N270 processor clocked at 1.6GHz, 1GB of RAM, 120GB hard drive, and Windows XP - tucked underneath your choice of a white or black shell and will run about $550. MSI has been working with Taiwan-based telco Vibo Telecom to implement 3.5G functionality in the U120 and will look to do the same with local telecom providers in Europe.
What you won't find on the new netbook is a touchscreen. Asus is rumored to be readying a touchscreen version of its Eee PC line, but MSI cites high costs as a prohibiting factor for its Wind. Bummer.
A Google Apps malfunction was reported on Thursday leaving education edition users without access to various services, including Gmail. It turns out the loss of access was tied to an unannounced change in the layouts of start pages which redirected to a non functional iGoogle address. Google spokesmen Andrew Kovacs stated that "this was an isolated bug". "I don't want to minimize this, but was this an issue where people could not access their data? No." Google hasn’t publically stated how many of the over one million businesses and 10 million users were impacted by the bug, but apparently it was only reported by a handful of users. Kovacs went on to state that "Basically, the broader perspective with an approach to communication is to be transparent. With these hosted applications we are held to a higher standard since we are so transparent with our communication." This made me wonder. With all the negative back lash companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon receive when cloud services crash, is all the bad press really fair? Do we really have the right to expect 100% uptime?
Early batches of Dell's Inspiron Mini 9 notebooks had customers scratching their heads over what appeared to be a case of paying for a larger size solid state drive but receiving a smaller one instead. How else would you explain paying for a 16GB SSD only to find 4GB of usable space in the default shipping state?
The answer, says Dell, is a partitioning SNAFU. The confusion stemmed from Dell using a 4GB Ubuntu image for new installs regardless of the SSD size, causing some customers to "freak out" before discovering the unused and unpartitioned remaining space. The problem has since been addressed, but if you own an early model with the incorrect partition scheme, running the included system restore DVD partitions the entire drive and makes the world right again.
Much has been made in the media over Spore's DRM scheme, which now limits gamers to five activations (recently pushed up from three activations amid an intense internet backlash). By and large, Electronic Arts has caught most of the criticism for saddling Spore with a modified version of SecuROM, arguably the most hated form of DRM in the gaming community. But should some of the ire be directed at Will Wright as well?
"It was something I probably should have tuned into more," Wright told Jim Reilly from Kotaku.com. "It was a corporate decision to go with DRM on Spore. They had a plan and the parameters, but now we're allowing more authentications and working with players to de-authenticate, which makes it more in line with iTunes. I think one of the most valid concerns about it was you could only install it so many times. For most players it's not an issue, it's a pretty small percentage, but some people do like wiping their hard disk and installing it 20 times or they want to play it 10 years later."
Take from that what you will. While it sounds like Wright has been drinking some of John Riccitiello's Kool-Aid, who recently downplayed DRM with claims that it's only an issue for 0.2 percent of gamers, at least Wright acknowledges the other side of the coin, which is that gamers tend to be enthusiasts who frequently change around their system.
Does EA deserve all the blame on this one? Hit the jump and let us know what you think.
AMD posted better-than-expected earnings on Thursday and proved to its chief rival Intel that they may be down, but not out. The company which has been losing money for some time now managed to make a respectable 13 cents per share which far outstripped analyst expectations of a 39 cent loss. This is good news for AMD, but the semi conductor giant isn’t out of hot water just yet. The company still posted a $67 million dollar loss, though when you compare this to the $396 million it shed in the same quarter last year it suddenly doesn’t seem so bad.
Not surprisingly, sales and margins improved mostly on the back of its graphics chip division which has made significant gains in market share at the expensive of Nvidia. Revenues rose to $1.78 billion again pulling ahead of analyst expectations of a meager $1.48 billion. AMD has stated that it expects fourth quarter earnings to be flat, and given its current processor lineup vs. Intel, not losing any further market share will indeed be a challenge. The recent announcement that will split the company in two won’t take effect until year end. AMD stock is currently trading at $4.21 down almost 50% since the beginning of the year.
Nvidia owners with an SLI setup who have dreamed of running multiple monitors have been left in the cold for quite some time now. Stretching your real estate out onto a second monitor forced GeForce owners to disable SLI and reconfigure settings from scratch each time. This could take up several minutes and in some extreme cases, even a reboot. ATI owners on the other hand have had the ability to run crossfire on multi monitors for quite some time now and even Nvidia’s Quadro lineup has a fix in place. The day of reckoning is at hand however for GeForce owners and the wait for a fix may soon be over. According to leaked drivers which were previewed by VR-Zone an update from Nvidia may put the issue to bed once and for all. Screen shots and even a download link to the driver shows SLI multi monitor support in action.
Version 180.10 which Nvidia dubs “Big Bang II” could be rolling out soon and these drivers show that significant progress has been made on the issue. The site currently only offers the 64 bit version and this “leaked” copy features a few limitations which are important to know. Currently only clone mode is available for the second monitor, and 3D applications will match the resolutions on both displays regardless of compatibility. Additionally, these features come with roughly a 5% performance hit acording to 3DMark. Additional program specific conflicts are also being discussed in forums, and Nvidia (understandably) isn’t saying much.
The company has not confirmed the authenticity of these drivers or given any official release date on “Big Bang II”. The suggested launch date of September has obviously come and gone and ForceWare version 178.24 debuted just last week. Since driver releases are traditionally a minimum of one month apart, I highly doubt we will see anything new before late November or sometime in December at the earliest.
It may have taken Asus a year to get there, but the ultraportable Eee PC has finally been spotted for an ultra-affordable price tag. For a copper Lincoln shy of $300, Best Buy is currently selling the Eee PC 900A with an Intel Atom N270 processor clocked at 1.6GHz on a 533MHz frontside bus. Other goodies nestled inside the netbook include 1GB of DDR2 memory, a 4GB solid-state drive, 8.9-inch WSVGA widescreen display, integrated graphics, WiFi, and three USB 2.0 ports all running on Linux.
Kudos to Asus for finally offering a model priced in line with its specs, though Asus isn't the only guilty culprit to avoid doing so up to this point. Despite the immense popularity of netbooks in general, many models regardless of vendor have nipped at the heels of traditional laptops in terms of price, which generally offer more power, more storage space, and, well, more of everything. Asus new 900A puts some much needed distance between the two sectors, which is great for anyone looking to pick up a mini-notebook. Then again, no matter what the price, cynics it's still a mini-notebook under the hood.
(Yes, PC gaming news has been kind of WAR-heavy lately. For those who don't play WAR, and can only wonder what it's good for, skip to the bottom of this article for something fun.)
Warhammer Online may be on a collision course with Blizzard's 18-wheeler, WoW: Wrath of the Lich King, but Mythic doesn't plan to flinch out of this game of information super highway chicken.
"Let’s start with what we know is some truly exciting news. I’m happy to announce that in December, the Black Guard and the Knight of the Blazing Sun will officially be part of WAR," said Mythic CEO Mark Jacobs in his first Warhammer State of The Game.
"When they were cut from the game launch plans earlier this year, I said that the Black Guard and the Knight would be part of WAR only when they were great and deserved their place alongside all of WAR’s other compelling classes."
"I also said that we would not charge any additional fees for this new content or put it in a separate expansion pack; that’s not how we operate. We’ve kept to that plan and with the introduction of these two classes, Mythic shows that once again we are happy to keep giving players more value for their subscription dollars than any other MMORPG developer."
New classes? For free? Sure, the classes were set to be in the original game, but we're pretty ok with this.
As per usual, the NPD Group kept its giant, cyclopian eye glued to videogame sales for the month of September*. However, as per never before, the Group also decided to compile its weekly retail PC game sales into a colossal monthly communion, full of surprises and intrigue.
Hot Wheels: Beat That set the standard for September, issuing forth a challenge to all other games. 17 games did, in fact, beat that, with at least two unquestionably better games also beating it, but in reverse.
Spore and Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning took top honors, selling 406,000 and 274,000 units respectively. NPD, sadly, did not divulge digits for any more of the 20 games listed.
It should also be noted that NPD only covers retail sales, so any sales generated by Steam, Direct 2 Drive, or other such outlets do not count.
PC Game Sales (September)
1. Spore / EA Maxis / $50 (Average) 2. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning / EA Mythic / $49 (Average) 3. The Sims 2 Apartment Life Expansion Pack / EA Maxis / $30 (Average) 4. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Collector's Edition / EA Mythic / $80 (Average) 5. Spore Galactic Edition / EA Maxis / $79 (Average) 6. World Of Warcraft: Battle Chest / Blizzard / $37 (Average) 7. Crysis Warhead / Crytek (Publisher: EA) / $29 (Average) 8. The Sims 2 Double Deluxe / EA Maxis / $30 (Average) 9. World Of Warcraft / Blizzard / $20 (Average) 10. Spore Creature Creator / EA Maxis / $10 (Average) 11. World Of Warcraft: Burning Crusade / Blizzard / $28 (Average) 12. Civilization IV: Colonization / Firaxis / $29 (Average) 13. Warcraft III Battle Chest / Blizzard / $39 (Average) 14. Civilization IV / Firaxis / $27 (Average) 15. The Sims 2 IKEA Home Stuff Expansion / EA Maxis / $20 (Average) 16. Diablo Battle Chest / Blizzard / $39 (Average) 17. StarCraft Battle Chest / Blizzard / $20 (Average) 18. Hot Wheels: Beat That / Activision / $15 (Average) 19. Crysis / Crytek (Publisher: EA) / $38 (Average) 20. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky / GSC Game World / $39 (Average)
Jump past the break for overall software sales, with games included. (Exciting preview: Apple fails.)