Microsoft has released its DirectX November 2008 update as part of the company's loosely followed bi-annual update schedule. The last DirectX update was served up in August.
A number of enhancements mostly of interest to developers come packaged in the November DirectX SDK, as well as a Direct3D 11 technical preview with associated components and tools. As far as gamers are concerned, we found little information as to what possible bugs and performance enhancements the new update addresses.
If you're experiencing unexplained wonkiness while gaming and have been unable to troubleshoot the problem, you may want to give the November update a spin. Otherwise, you'll likely receive the update as a pre-packaged install on a new game at some point.
And you thought only one person on the entire planet was well and truly pissed at EA for its repeated usage of DRM. However, that was only the beginning. Now, two more criminally dissatisfied customers have rallied their lawyers, hoping to pulverize the mega-publisher's pocketbook into penniless mush.
The first suit, filed by Pennsylvania resident Richard Eldridge, points the all-important blame finger at the Spore Creature Creator trial -- not the full game. According to the suit, the game "secretly" popped his machine's DRM cherry, a feature completely unmentioned in EA's End User License Agreement.
The other DRM-detractor, Dianna Cortez of Missouri, encountered SecuROM DRM in The Sims 2: Bon Voyage. Her computer was never the same after that day.
"After installing Bon Voyage, Ms. Cortez began having problems with her computer," reads the suit. "She had previously made backup Sims 2 game content on CDs, but her computer's disc drive would no longer recognize that content, reporting the CDs as empty. She could not access files that were saved on her USB flash drive or iPod, either."
She also calls EA's practices "immoral, unethical, oppressive [and] unscrupulous" -- a sentiment with which we're sure her fellow lawsuit-slingers would agree.
Now if the entire 0.2% hopped aboard the lawsuit express, we might be onto something. As is, however, EA's gold-encrusted big toe will be more than enough to squash these three valiant musketeers. If nothing else, we can only hope that EA will actually learn something from all this, but we're not counting on it.
While we’re very aware of Wolf Blitzer’s use of holograms in this last election, the Army is looking to make his attempt seem foolish. Recently the Army has gotten themselves in deep with some futuristic technology that could lead to quantum computing, holograms and even the ability to hunt evil in Azeroth.
Dr. John Parmentola, the Director of Research and Laboratory Management with the Army’s science and technology office said that they’re working on turning “science fiction into reality.” They’re doing so by creating holographic images that are supposedly photorealistic. They’ve even got one lined up to be the greeter at next month’s Army Science Conference.
They’re doing so by using what they’re calling “quantum ghost imaging.” This is a process where images are rendered by pairing photons that do not reflect or bounce off an object, but off of other protons that have.
Using this technology, they’re hoping to create realistic looking and acting human beings. “I actually interact with virtual humans in terms of asking them questions and they’re responding,” said Parmentola.
And as it turns out, their means of testing out the virtual humans is through World of Warcraft. “We want to use the massively multi-player online game as an experimental laboratory to see if they’re good enough to convince humans that they’re actually human,” stated Parmentola.
Some might argue that the mouse is currently a great tool for playing games of just about any genre, but Mgestyk Technologiespolitely disagrees. With the first (planned) public sale of a gesture control system, they seek to bring the Minority Report-like action straight to you.
Using only what’s been described as an “affordable 3D camera” and some proprietary software that will capture small hand gestures, they plan on challenging everyone’s favorite – the mouse. Understandably, some gamers might be reluctant to give up their Logitech or Razer in favor of holding their hands in front of a camera, there are undoubtedly some pretty notable foundations here.
In a video provided by Mgestyk there’s some pretty interesting footage demonstrating the technology that they've come up with. While yes, the reaction time between gesture and response may be a big higher than desired, there are plenty of people that have expressed interest. Mgestyk claims that they’ve got a waiting list for people looking to get their hands on the tech, and they aren’t willing to commit a release date or a price.
3D displays aren’t high on the list of things probable to be the next major form of home entertainment, but that hasn’t bothered JVC one bit. They’ve just announced their first 3D projector designed for home theaters, the DLA-RS2.
The projector won’t require any glasses; instead it uses D-ILA projection and stereoscopic video processing to present a 1080p 3D adventure.
Details are few and far between on the projector at the moment, but it has been confirmed that SENSIO 3D technology is at the heart, and it will provide a 30,000:1 contrast ratio. While the projector will require 3D content to make 3D images, it will be also compatible with DVD and Blu-ray discs until those become more common.
No word yet on the price, but it will be ready to take home sometime in 2009.
Long Zheng's I Started Something blog reports a welcome improvement in Windows 7's Complete PC Backup: in addition to backing up to local hard disks and DVDs, you can now back up to a network share. Complete PC Backup is the image (aka "bare metal restore") backup feature originally found in Vista's Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions (see our 2007 article to learn how it compares to other popular image backup/restore programs). This new feature brings Complete PC Backup's backup target options basically in line with those in the file/folder backup portion of the Backup and Restore Center, and makes it possible to use an NAS appliance as well as a folder share on another PC as a backup target.
It's important to realize that Complete PC Backup is a complementary technology to file and folder backup. Use it to back up your entire PC, and then use file and folder backup to backup data files that change after you create an image backup. Note that the NTBackup program (included in Windows XP and earlier versions) is not an image backup program, but a file and folder backup program only; it does not have a true 'bare metal' restore option.
I've used Complete PC Backup on a number of occasions to backup and restore Windows Vista systems, and I'm looking forward to this additional improvement in Windows 7's version (and I hope it will be available in all Windows 7 SKUs, by the way). What do you think? Join us after the jump and tell us.
To the victor go the spoils, so why then is Sony having such a tough time pushing its Blu-ray format on consumers now that HD-DVD has long been laid to rest following the high-definition format war? There's no single answer, and instead the explosion of digital downloads (thanks in large part to Netflix, who is intent on getting its streaming service on every device out there), upconverting DVD players, and high prices are all factors leading to a slower adoption rate than many might have thought.
Looking for a holiday surge and reacting to market conditions, high prices may soon become less of a factor. According to ABI Research, holiday season prices for Blu-ray players could hover in the $150-$200 range, despite previous market forecasts to the contrary. The price drops can already be seen, particularly in what ABI calls tier 2 players, models which have been available for 6-9 months. On Amazon, it's possible to pick up an earlier model player along with four Blu-ray movies for under $200, and more deals like it will probably surface within the next month.
Would you be willing to jump on the Blu-ray bandwagon if player pricing drops to the $150 range? Hit the jump and let us know.
Nividia today announced its Quadro FX 5800 videocard calling it "the most powerful professional graphics card in graphics history." To help justify such a big claim, Nvidia slapped a big 4GB frame buffer on the new videocard, more than any other videocard to date.
"The size and complexity of data is growing at an exponential rate," said Jeff Brown, general manager, Professional Solutions, Nvidia. "The challenge for today's professional is to make sense of the mountain of data by distilling it into a form they can comprehend, analyze, and use to make impactful decisions. At stake can be billions of investment dollars, or even people's lives. The Quadro FX 5800 has advanced features to allow massive datasets to be viewed beyond traditional 3D enabling professionals to make fast and accurate decisions."
Nvidia says its new videocard is a perfect match for oil and gas exploration, medical imaging, styling and design, and scientific visualization, all of which can benefit from the large amount of memory and up to 240 CUDA programmable parallel core. Other specs include a memory bandwidth of up to 102 GB/s, a fill rate claimed to exceed 52 billion texels per second, and geometry performance of 300 million triangles per second. The Quadro FX 5800 also boasts true 10-bit color, giving it the ability to enable billions of color variations instead of millions, according to Nvidia.
The Quadro FX 5800 is available now with an MSRP set at $3500. But if it helps, think of it as less than $1000 per GB of memory.
Microsoft last week released the fifth volume of its Security Intelligence Report (SIR) covering the period between January through June of 2008. The report, which purports to offer an "in-depth perspective on software vulnerabilities and exploits, malicious code threats, and potentially unwanted software," uses data derived from what Microsoft claims are hundreds of millions of Windows users, all of which is analyzed and laid out in a tidy 13MB PDF download.
According to the 150-page report, hackers are increasingly honing in on third party applications rather than attempting to attack Microsoft directly. Vulnerabilities in programs like RealPlayer, QuickTime, WinZip, and other non-operating system software provide hackers with a greater number of exploits requiring a low degree of complexity, the report claims.
"It is alarming to see that more than 90 percent of vulnerabilities disclosed in 1H08 affected applications, and nearly half of all industry vulnerabilities are rated as High Severity," Microsoft says in its report. "Additionally, 1H08 showed how threats are increasingly affecting a variety of vendors beyond Microsoft."
The report also notes several geographical trends in security threats. Among them, password stealers such are Win32/Bancos are most prominent in Brazil where the overall infection rate has risen an alarming 81.8 percent from 2H07 to 1H08. In the U.S., trojan downloaders, like Win32/Zlob, account for the largest single category of threat.
Should Japanese electronics maker Panasonic Corp. manage to purchase a controlling stake in its smaller rival Sanyo Electric, Panasonic, who is already the world's largest plasma TV maker, could become Japan's biggest electronics firm as well. For that to happen, the company would have to come to an agreement with Goldman Sachs, Daiwa Securities SMBC, and Sumitomo Misui Banking Corp, all of whom are major shareholders in Sanyo.
The acquisition would put Panasonic ahead of the pack in the global market for rechargeable batteries, a market that is expected to see significant growth amid increased sales in portable electronics and hybrid vehicles.
"This appears to be the kind of deal where you add one and one and get three, instead of two," said Masayoshi Okamoto, head of trading at Jujiya Securities. "Their battery operations would truly be world-class."
Sanyo is currently the world's largest supplier of lithium-ion batteries, ahead of both Sony and Panasonic. The company can also boast being the seventh largest solar cell producer world-wide, another increasingly popular market sector that would benefit Panasonic should the acquisition come to fruition.