Ever wanted to open up a can of spray paint and write kick ass all over the front doors of the Maximum PC HQ? Well, now you can have your chance. A new tech demo has been released by a company called Earthmine who primarily specializes in geomapping, but decided it might be interesting to show case the early version of their new street-view technology in an interactive demonstration.
Users have the ability to select from the buildings it has indexed, and using paintbrushes, rollers, and other instruments of artistic destruction, create virtual urban art. The usefulness of this application is somewhat limited, but it does help to showcase the underlying technology, which will allow them to create full 3D maps of cities rather than just pasting together panoramic views. This will make browsing much more seamless. It certainly appears to be a pretty compelling offering when compared to the choppiness of Google Street View.
In addition to the web interface, a mobile edition is also being developed that will allow users to hold up their phones in real life, to view how buildings have been tagged in the Wild Style version of their neighborhood. The first version is expected to hit iPhones later in the summer when the new geolocation API’s are released. Want to learn more about Wild Style City? View the You Tube demonstration.
Things recently dropped by Valve’s new TF2 item system, according to players: duplicates, duplicates, and the ball. And while jumping through achievement-based hoops in order to earn new gear may not have been optimal, at least it made sense. The same couldn’t be said for random drops – at least initially. Thankfully, Valve has decided to pull back the curtain and give us the nitty-gritty on the little orange men who run its drop system. Here’s what the developer said:
"[The] new system watches the amount of time that players are playing TF2, and gives them a chance to find items at regular intervals," wrote Valve's Erik Johnson. "They aren't guaranteed to get the item at those points, but they have a pretty good chance."
How are these “regular intervals” decided upon, though? Johnson explained:
“When we were tuning this system we first looked at the average amount of time that players spend playing TF2 daily. From there, we set the goal of most players having around 20 items in their inventory after a couple of weeks of play. If you're someone who plays a lot of TF2, you're going to get items a lot faster than that.”
Also, if you thought Valve’s hot streak had finally ended with the drop system’s shaky start, fear not. As usual, Valve plans on tinkering with the thing’s inner workings until every rusty bit is replaced with solid gold. Planned improvements include item trading (bye bye duplicate items), more rare items, and some kind of way for players to “influence the system so they can work directly toward getting specific items” that’s not called achievement-grinding. Currently, Valve’s goal is to bring all of those upgrades into the mix before the next class pack.
Well, sounds like there’s no longer anything to complain about here. Back to pacing a hole in the floor and muttering about Half-Life 2: Episode 3, then.
In the beginning, Gas Powered Games created RTS/RPG hybrid Demigod, and all seemed pretty good. However, fittingly enough for something called Demigod, the game’s launch was far from perfect. Servers gasped and sputtered under the weight of literally hundreds of thousands of pirates, and legitimate customers just got a big, fat Out of Order sign for all their troubles. Thankfully, publisher Stardock promised a few goodies to those who weathered the storm, and now, the developer’s delivering.
First up, Stardock’s mailing out discount coupons that knock 50% off the price of a second copy of Demigod. You know, for friends or family. Something like that. At the very least, that’ll grant you the opportunity to tell said recipient of your miserly gift about how, back in the day, you paid full price for Demigod and walked 15 miles through unstable servers to play it. And you liked it.
There’s a catch, however: the clock’s ticking on this coupon, and it finishes “early next week.” Really though, it’s not like you’re making a tough decision or anything. Demigod, Demigod, or Demigod – which is it gonna be?
Don’t start badgering Stardock into apologizing for their apology just yet, though. Next week, the publisher’s sending out a second batch of apology coupons, this time good for 20% off any game from its Impulse download platform. Should neither coupon be enough to douse the flames of your fury, Stardock’s also promising more deals down the road for regular Demigod players.
And if you still aren’t satisfied, just look at it this way: Stardock didn’t have to do any of this.
Google has long been an advocate of saving energy where possible, and now they’re bringing that same policy to their users with the recent introduction of the Google PowerMeter, a gadget that allows you to track your home’s power consumption.
The gadget will track your juice use by pulling information from your power company, just so long as it’s one of their partners. Their partners include: San Diego Gas & Electric (California), TXU Energy (Texas), JEA (Florida), Reliance Energy (India), Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (Wisconsin), White River Valley Electric Cooperative (Missouri), Toronto Hydro–Electric System Limited (Canada), and Glasgow EPB (Kentucky).
Currently the feature will only be handed out a small group of customers with each utility company, but this is purely for testing. They plan on making it more available once this process is taken care of.
If you’re interested in finding out more, be sure to check out the PowerMeter home page here.
Earlier this week Hitachi Ltd. and Hitachi Vehicle Energy Ltd. announced a new battery that they claim has the world’s highest power density.
The new lithium-ion battery has 4,500W/kg power density, a number that clocks in at about 1.7 times the output of their current batteries. The increase in power allows for smaller size, and is thanks to a new manganese cathode and a unique battery structure. The structure employs thinner electrodes, a new power collection method, and more effective configurations.
Hitachi plans to make this technology available for notebooks and cell phones once the automotive industries have had a chance with it, but there’s no official word as to when we could see this technology implemented on a grand scale.
It’s expected that Microsoft’s search engine rebrand will soon make its official debut.
The official announcement for Kumo is expected to come at the D: All Things Digital Conference next week, where CEO Steve Ballmer is currently scheduled to appear onstage.
With the rebranding Microsoft hopes to gain a new foothold in the search engine market that they currently only have an 8.2 percent market share in. They’ve got some pretty stiff competition as well, considering that Google’s search engine market share is a whopping 64.2 percent.
We like where this is going. NEC this week introduced the first USB 3.0 host controller chips for PCs and other digital gadgets, which should help accelerate the technology coming to market.
Checking in at 10X the speed of USB 2.0, NEC's µPD720200 chip ups the data transfer ante to 5Gpbs, while also maintaining full backward compatibility with previous generation USB protocols, NEC promises.
The USB Implementers Forum finalized the specifications for the USB 3.0 standard almost six months ago, which in addition to offering faster data transfer rates, will also provide more power output. That means you'll be able to recharge your MP3 player and other gizmos quicker than before.
Samples of NEC's chip will be available in June for $15 each, with production expect to hit one million units by September.
AMD already offers a handful of chips built on a 45nm manufacturing process, but if what motherboard makers are telling news and rumor site DigiTimes turns out to be true, the No. 2 chip maker will fully embrace 45nm for its desktop parts next quarter. These include dual-core Phenom II X2 500 series and Athlon II X2 200 series in June, followed by quad-core Athlon II X4 600 series and triple-core Athlon II X3 400 series in September.
In addition, AMD has a few new CPUs on tap for an end of Q2 / beginning of Q3 release. DigiTimes says we'll see the Phenom X2 550 and 545 both launch by the end of the second quarter, and the quad-core Phenom II X4 945 (95W) and 8xx (95W), triple-core Phenom II X3 7xx (95W), quad-core Athlon II X4 630 and 620, triple-core Athlon II X3 435 and 425, and dual-core Ahtlon II X2 250, 245, and 240 all in the third quarter. This in addition to 10 low-power CPUs.
Mozilla announced it will start giving away Jetpacks to users, but you can't use them to fly around your neighborhood or to stir up general mayhem. So what exactly can you do with it?
Oh. Well that's cool too, we suppose. Apparently, Jetpack will be the tool for building the next generation of add-ons, and according to Mozilla, they can be written "in under a dozen lines of code." But it's not just developers who should be excited.
"More importantly, from a user-perspective, Jetpack will allow new features to be added to the browser without a restart co compatibility issues, resulting in little to no disruption to the online experience," Mozilla added.
Brian Toder, former defense lawyer for Jammie Thomas, dropped a bombshell earlier this week when he asked to be removed from the case. He did so saying he was owed nearly $130,000 "that will never be recovered, coupled with the likelihood that a similar, additional amount will be incurred if ordered to continue representation of defendant."
Stepping in to take Toder's place is a trio of former Harvard University classmates who feel confident they can take on, and defeat, the RIAA.
"We are going a for a jury verdict of zero," said Kiwi Camara, one the three Texas lawyers who replaced Brian Toder on Wednesday. "We are going to convince a jury that the RIAA should not bring these cases."
Doing so will be anything but easy. With a retrial scheduled to begin in just three weeks on June 15, the trio said they will not seek a delay, and instead plan to attack the RIAA's litigation strategy, Wired reports.
"We think the jury is going to reject this strategy," Camara said. "The RIAA strategy here is not to try any of these cases."
Brian Toder wished Thomas well in her ongoing fight.