Playstation

PlayStation 4 Could Stream Games Over the Net

According to sources of The Wall Street Journal, Sony’s new gaming console will allow people to play games that are streamed in real time over the internet.

Streams will apparently involve games designed for the current generation PlayStation, the PlayStation 3. The speculation is that this might be an attempt to deal with backward compatibility.

That brings up the question of whether gamers will need to repurchase games they’ve already bought.

Last month, the Journal reported speculation that Sony would “likely” move to chips from Advanced Micro Devices, as opposed to the Sony-IBM-Toshiba-developed Cell chip that’s in its PS3 — something that would cause compatibility issues with existing games.

It’s also possible that this move will allow an even greater amount of flexibility with respect to game porting and device compatibility. CNET’s Rich Brown said this, “Imagine playing a core PlayStation…[game] on your console, then picking the game up exactly where you left off on your cell phone or tablet.”

Sony purchased the cloud-gaming company Gaikai in July of last year. The cloud service allows for a broader range of streaming options that typical smartphone games and could accommodate more processor-intensive applications. Gaikai created data centers specifically designed to run modern-day games — at any user specified settings — and then focused on delivering those games to users via the cloud.

No speculation yet as to how Sony might charge for its streaming service.

Looks like we’ll have to wait until February 20 to know for sure. Who’s excited about Sony’s event this Wednesday?

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Destiny Is Bungie's Next Big Franchise

Destiny: Bungie’s Halo Successor

Halo set an almost unrealistically high bar for its creator, Bungie, to achieve with its next title.

It left some of the team concerned about what they’d work on following the popular Halo franchise. Bungie co-founder Jason Jones told CNet, “After Halo, a bunch of us thought, ‘What comes next?”

The Bungie leadership team wanted to find something that would be worthy of the work they had achieved with Halo. They were looking to develop not just another game, but a new model for which games are played — something that would electrify the gaming community.

Jones believes that Bungie’s Destiny is just that. The game itself is a first-person shooter mixed with aspects of a massively multiplayer online role-playing game.

Players will develop and customize their characters with armor, clothing, weapons, vehicles, and spacecraft, items which will help to develop Destiny’s lore — a 10-year narrative arc.

The game itself will “always [be] connected.” It’s Bungie’s vision that players will meet online to socialize, fight, trade, and gamble. The world of Destiny will be one of a massive scale, a world that’s always evolving, always alive — the company is calling it a “shared world shooter.

It’s important for gamers to understand that Destiny isn’t Halo. Players will create their very own personalized characters, which will help to protect Earth’s last remaining city.

“Even in story mode, you will encounter other players on their own adventures, inhabiting and affecting the same world,” Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg said.

Jones said, “We’re really putting players at the center of the world and giving them control of their experience … From the ground up, we’ve built this game to be social and cooperative … We’ve learned a bunch of lessons from MMOs and Facebook games … but Destiny is a console shooter.”

Both of Destiny’s multiplayer modes have been designed to be seamlessly merged with its single-player experience. Players will naturally come together and simultaneously adventure through the world. They’ll pair up in the City’s Overwatch district, form bonds, and visit distant worlds.

Joe Staten, writer and design director at Bungie, said “The breadth and depth of Destiny’s world encourages me to find my own adventures … at its core, Destiny is a hopeful world,” a world that is expected to encourage players to forge their own personal legends.

Bungie is utilizing a new network technology that hasn’t been seen before. Players won’t have to push through loading screens in Destiny, there isn’t one element in the game’s design that takes the player out of the experience.

“We’ve developed [our technology] over the last ten years of working on online action games. Now when you put them all together, it turns you get something special. These technologies disappear into the background. There’s no sign they’re working, no progress bars, no UI spinners; you just sit back and play. The networking engine does everything behind-the-scenes [and] the player experience of Destiny just emerges … We think this may be the first time anyone has put these technologies together at this scale, in a game or anywhere else.”

“We’re about to create something big that no one expects. It’s going to kind of come out of nowhere and be really exciting.”

The world of Destiny is one of a post-apocalyptic Earth. Humanity has nearly been wiped out, but it was saved by an extraterrestrial protector, named The Traveler, an enormous silver globe which is left floating close above the planet’s last safe city. Humans have regained their footing and are now exploring cosmos within our own galaxy. Alien life forms are a constant threat and seek to squash humanity from existence, and it’s up to you, a Guardian, to stop threats and protect the planet from impending disaster.

Activison has no plans to charge a subscription fee for the game.

While the company hasn’t announced a release date, based on its 2013 guidance, it’s assumed that the first Destiny game (yes, there will be several) will be released sometime in 2014.

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linkedin

LinkedIn Employees Receive iPad Minis

So what does the CEO of one of the fastest growing companies in the United States buy his employees for Valentine’s Day? All shiny new iPad Minis of course.

LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner gave his company’s 3,458 full-time employees iPad Minis Wednesday to reward them for recent company success.

Krista Canfield, LinkedIn’s senior manager of corporate communications, announced the giveaway calling it a “small gesture of the company’s gratitude.” All of the employees will be receiving 32GB iPad Mini models.

At retail prices, the mass purchase of $429 iPads would have set the company back roughly $1.5 million.

Canfield said, “We wanted to acknowledge the hard work and accomplishments of all of our employees in 2012.”

If you’re a follower of LinkedIn activity on Twitter, you may have noticed some excited employees touting about their newest gift.

 

 

LinkedIn reported last week that its fourth-quarter adjusted earnings per share were 35 cents, with a revenue of $303.6 million, and a net income of $11.5 million, beating performance expectations by $25 million.

Not a bad bonus for a job well done. Now employees can catch up on all that LinkedIn activity. The company could also use the devices to distribute internal documentation more easily.

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nanotube

Carbon Nanotube Cupid

nanotube

[Credit: Brigham Young University]

Can’t find the right gift for that special someone this Valentine’s Day? Maybe you can talk the guys over at Brigham Young University (BYU) in to making a tiny carbon nanotube flower bouquet for your Valentine this year.

Researchers at BYU have developed a method of crafting nanotubes in to engineered structures. Microscopic iron “seeds” are placed onto a plate and a blast of excited gas causes a “miniature forest” of carbon nanotubes to spring up. Nanotubes, individually, measure approximately 20 atoms across and are composed of 99 percent air.

The nanostructure is initially very fragile, however by coating the tubes with “metals and other materials” they become much more stable which opens up other manufacturing opportunities.

“It’s a really fragile structure at this point – blowing on it or touching it would destroy it,” said BYU physics professor Robert Davis.

“One application is in the area of compressed gases like oxygen in the areas of health care, mining operations or scuba diving… Compressed gas systems can generate particles that need to be filtered out,” Davis said.

nanotube

[Credit: Brigham Young University]

The research team has also created a nano-BYU logo and precision micro-filters.

So, will you be getting your geek on this Valentine’s Day?

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microfluidics

Microfluidic Keyboard the Next Big Thing?

Ergonomics plays a huge part in interactive design. Whether you realize it or not, everything we interact with, especially our mobile gadgets, were designed with user interaction in mind. But isn’t something missing?

Tactus Technology has developed an interactive keyboard for touch screens. The technology uses microfluidics to manipulate the screen in such a way that physical keys pop up on the display. Microfluidics isn’t something new, the technology has been around since the late 70′s, but recently it has become cost effective to incorporate into consumer electronics.

So what’s happening inside? A panel behind the device’s screen has specially designed channels filled with a non-toxic fluid, controlling the pressure in these channels enables the system to form bubbles, or keys, on the screen. The keys appear when required and then depressurize when not needed, sending the screen back to its original flat surface.

microfluidics
(Credit: Tactus Technology)

Tactus says that the pressure will be user adjustable too, so that picky consumers can adjust the softness or firmness of the keys — although I suspect this is a feature that we won’t see on all devices that incorporate the technology.

Tactus cofounder Micah Yairi had this to say about the product, “The vision that we had was not just to have a keyboard or a button technology, but really to make a fully dynamic surface… So you can envision the entire surface being able to raise and lower depending on what the application is that’s driving it.” I’m envisioning extremely cool aircraft and spaceship interfaces…

Initially, this new feature will be incorporated in a static design function, meaning that the channels will be engineered for specific product graphical user interfaces (GUI). In other words, it won’t work with both portrait and landscape modes, or it will only be a function utilized by certain programs on specific devices.

So far, the company has only announced one partnership, touch display manufacturer Touch Revolutions, to incorporate the microfludic system, but they’re currently seeking more manufacturers interested in the technology. Nate Saal, Tactus VP, had said, “There are more and more touch screens being integrated in devices… from your mobile phone, cell phone, into refrigerators and appliances and I think those are all opportunities for Tactus to really improve the interface and usability of those devices.”

Lots of really interesting applications with this product. I’m looking forward to new partnership announcements.

What else could microfluidics be used for? Let us know in the comments below.

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Massive Open Online Courses

How It’s Done – Massive Open Online Courses

Massive Open Online Courses

Want to learn a new language, study artificial intelligence, or understand quantum mechanics? No matter what you’re interested in, there’s a growing community of free online educational resources available. They’re referred to as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and they’re becoming extremely popular.

Here’s a list of resources I’ve developed that cover everything from language development to string theory. Check ‘em out:

www.coursera.org — Coursera, which offers free university courses online, launched April 2012 and has already attracted two million members (a growth rate faster than Facebook), $22 million in venture capital, and 70,000 new students signing up every week. The company has partnered with over 33 universities to bring a very wide range of topics to the site.

www.khanacademy.com — The Khan Academy has an open library with over 3,900 micro lectures and tutorials in math, science, economics, computer science, the humanities, and test prep.

www.openculture.com — A very nice collection of resources that focuses on cultural and educational media.

www.codecademy.com — Want to design a website, or develop a mobile application? Codecademy is definitely something you should check out. They’ve been backed by big names like Richard Branson and for good reason, in just 72 hours of launching the site they generated 200,000 users. They’ve since surpassed 1 million users.

www.udacity.com — Born from a Stanford University experiment, Udacity pushes to reshape the way education is offered in the 21st century. The site now offers 20 university courses for free.

www.edx.com — Founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, edX offers a wide array of courses for free.

class.stanford.edu — Free Stanford courses. Check back frequently for new course announcements.

Language Only

These may not fall under MOOCs, but I think they can be just as valuable.

www.livemocha.com — Livemocha is one of the world’s largest online language learning communities. They support over 15 million users in over 195 countries. They do offer premium services, but the majority of their content is 100 percent free.

www.lingq.com — This is a relatively new language learning platform and community. Like Livemocha, they too offer premium services for a monthly fee however, their free service can be very useful.

Let me know if I missed anything. I always enjoy finding new resources.

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hoverboard

Authentic ‘Back to the Future’ Hoverboard Only $13,000

hoverboard
(Credit: Hollywood Parts)

Sure, Mattel released a “Back to the Future Part II” hoverboard replica, but why go for that when you can have the real thing? Yeah it might be a little more expensive, but hell; who needs a car when they can have a hoverboard? To umm… carry around…

For those of you who don’t remember, or haven’t seen “Back to the Future Part II” — for shame! — this is the board of Griff Tannen, Marty McFly’s nemesis.

If you’ve got $13,000 laying around and a healthy appetite for all that is geek, you can buy this bad boy from eBay seller cinemastuff818 (a.k.a. Hollywood Parts). The prop itself wasn’t the same board shot on screen; that was in fact the original prototype.

The board measures 36-inches and is constructed from wood, resin, and metal. That’s all fine and good, but where is the freaking case? Unfortunately the case isn’t offered as part of the auction.

Here’s the sellers original description:

This is an original prototype “Pit Bull” hoverboard made to be used by Griff Tannen in the second installment in the classic trilogy. The board is [36"] and made of solid wood. The body is painted black with red accents and features outrigger rocket blasters made of wood and resin, metal heat shields and three towing rings where the handles for his gang would be mounted. The circular discs on the bottom are the vaccu-form anti-gravity plates.  The rear foot pad component is missing from the top of the board. This… was one of the original hero prototype versions designed by the art department for Back to Future Part II.  We received this board from the original designer on the film that created the “Pit Bull” logo. Was not seen on screen [or] used on camera.

Here’s the clip from “Back to the Future Part II” where the board makes its debut:

So is this fine piece of Hollywood history worth $13,000?

(Via Geekologie)

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hologram

Holographic Holocaust Survivors – Just the Beginning

Hologram
(Credit: Paul Debevec/USC Institute for Creative Technologies)

The University of Southern California’s (USC) Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) has partnered with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, and design firm Conscience Display, to develop interactive holographic (hyper-photorealistic) displays that allow students and others the ability to converse with life-size digital versions of Holocaust survivors.

Paul Debevec, a professor of computer science at USC and an associate director of graphics research at ICT, said, “The effect that it gives is a lot more that that person is there in the room with you than that person was filmed some time ago somewhere else… I think it’s going to be considerably more engaging and immersive and moving than if they’re just up there on a video screen.”

Built upon light-stage technology developed by ICT, the team records interviews with multiple cameras to capture high-fidelity playback. ICT has been using the Light Stage system since 2000, but the technology has evolved significantly since then.

“Everything that we’re doing is getting retooled and to some extent reinvented specifically for recording the testimony of a survivor… to do it in a way that when we project it holographically, it’s a very absolute literal playback of exactly the way they said it, exactly the way they looked when they were doing it,” Debevec said.

This will be the first time that a Light Stage system will be able to holographically record a full body.

Pinchas Gutter — liberated from a Nazi death camp in 1945 — will be the first survivor recorded using the Light Stage system for this project. The team filmed Gutter in 3D in front of a green screen on Light Stage 6, a dome illuminated by over 6,000 LEDs and measuring 26 feet in diameter. The project team asked Gutter hundreds of questions and plan on interviewing other survivors chosen to participate in the development.

Debevec imagines that the holographic technique could eventually be used in other areas of interest potentially including scientist and political leader presentations. Imagine taking a trip to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, or the Museum of Science in Boston to interact with a holographic recording of Einstein, or better yet Stephen Hawking.

“If you’re sitting [at] the front, you see that person from the front. If you’re sitting to the right, you’ll see them to the right… Even as you just shift in your seat and move your head back and forth… the viewpoint will shift then, too, appropriately, and you’ll get an effect called motion parallax, which is even a more strong and visceral sense of the three-dimensionality than you get with binocular stereo,” Debevec said.


One thing I don’t quite understand is why the kids in the video are raising their hands…

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RIOT

Raytheon’s RIOT Tracks Your Every Move

RIOT

Raytheon’s Rapid Information Overlay Technology (RIOT) is intended to assist governments by providing a social network data analysis program enabling the development of a detailed picture of activity for targeted individuals.  RIOT isn’t new, but the following video obtained by the Guardian is.

Using the software it’s possible to construct a complete picture of someone’s life — their friends, places they’ve visited, where they might go, when they might go — in only a few minutes.

In this video obtained by the Guardian, Brian Urch, Raytheon’s principal investigator, explains that “exif header data” embedded on smartphones sometimes includes latitude and longitude data with photographs. Of course, the software doesn’t just retrieve that information. It scourers through everything that’s available.

The program takes this information and organizes it in a way so as to show not only the targets photographs, but also the locations they were taken.

Urch says in the video, “We’re going to track one of our own employees…Nick… We know where Nick’s going, we know what Nick looks like… now we want to try to predict where he may be in the future.”

RIOT can also display a spider diagram which shows associations and relationships between individuals online by determining who they’ve communicated with and how often they communicate. It mines data from Facebook and GPS data from Foursquare. RIOT compiles a list of the top ten places a person of interest visits, when they visit, and when they might visit them again.

Urch goes on to say, “So if you ever did want to try to get hold of Nick, or maybe get hold of his laptop, you might want to visit the gym at 6am on a Monday.”

RIOT’s associated patent states that Raytheon believes its software can determine of subjects constitute a security risk.

Ginger McCall of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) told the Guardian that, “Social networking sites are often not transparent about what information is shared and how it is shared… Users may be posting information that they believe will be viewed only by their friends, but instead, it is being viewed by government officials or pulled in by data collection services like the [RIOT] search.”

A spokesperson for Raytheon’s intelligence and information systems department said this about RIOT, “Its innovative privacy features are the most robust that we’re aware of, enabling the sharing and analysis of data without personally identifiable information [such as social security numbers, bank or other financial account information] being disclosed.”

However, a bit of conflicting information from 2010 claims that RIOT, according to vice president of Raytheon’s Information Security Solutions business, “readily scales to trillions of entities.” Yeah that’s right, trillions.

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PC

How It’s Done – Building the Perfect Gaming PC

PCs are still the most powerful platforms for gamers seeking breathtaking graphics and fluid game play, but what PC gaming really comes down to is dollars. Money ya’ll. If you’re on a budget, you might consider sticking to a console. Hold it! Just wait a minute. I can hear everyone losing their minds right now… Bare with me.

Yes, consoles are approaching a point where PC game play may very well be surpassed for the average Joe that doesn’t have a few thousand to drop on a custom build. Yes, console gaming can also be a very expensive habit, but in general, PCs are going to set a consumer back more than an Xbox or Playstation.

Now that that’s settled, let’s pop this juice box open, take a sip, and see just what’s out there to choose from. If you’re new to PC gaming, or just looking to upgrade, here’s a list of components for building an awesome gaming machine in 2013. (I’m not going to go in to specifics on how to build a computer, and I’m not covering minor components like a case, or power supply unit in this article.)

PC

 Processor (CPU)

I personally prefer Intel-based processors over AMD. I don’t have anything against AMD, in fact if you’re on a budget, AMD processors could work very well for you. They’re typically less expensive than Intel processors. My issue with AMD stems from stress testing results between the two manufacturers’ CPUs and per core efficiency results. There isn’t a doubt out there among hardware experts, if you’re building a high-end gaming PC, Intel is the top choice when it comes to a CPU. Here are my recommendations, in order of would-be builders’ budgets:

$$$         Intel i7-3770
$$           i5 2500K, i5 3570, or i5 5370K
$             AMD A10-5800K, or i3

Graphics Card(s)

You can drop a lot of money on high-end graphics cards, but unless you’re loaded I’d stay away from anything that’s higher than $500. I personally have no preference between ATI, or Nvidia. With the right configuration I think both can make excellent graphics cards.

$$$         Nvidia GTX 670/660 Ti
$$           Radeon HD 7850/7870
$             Nvidia GTX 650, or Radeon HD 6770

RAM

8GB should be plenty for most users. If you want to be an overachiever you can always grab 16, or 32GB.

$$$         32/16GB
$$           8GB
$             4GB

Storage

For maximum performance you can run all solid state drives (SSDs), but that could get a little pricey. I’d recommend using a SSD for your primary OS and games you’re currently playing, while using a standard hard drive (HD) with decent capacity for everything else.

Consider a 128GB SSD with maybe a 1TB hard drive for storage.

$$$         Multiple SSDs
$$           SSD primary with HD storage
$             Multiple HDs

Motherboard

The only real factors here are compatibility, expandability, and overclocking. Weigh your options and pick something that fits the build the best for you.

Summary

It really comes down to personal preference and budget. If you’re an AMD fan, or Intel supporter, more power to you. I have many friends that swear by AMD builds and wouldn’t ever consider using anything else. The same can be said about graphics cards, some love Nvidia and some are sold on ATI. It’s really up to you. The recommendations listed above reflect cost versus price and are based on industry reviews, consumer reviews, and performance tests.

Let me know in the comments below if you think I missed something. If you want to share that new build with everyone here at T3kd, post your specs below.

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