Earlier today, we reported on the news that Rock Band’s 4 Fig campaign had ended and only managed to amass 52 percent of the whopping $1.5 million target. Since then, Harmonix has released a final update explaining why they believe the crowdfunding campaign wasn’t a successful venture and said:
“How do we feel about the end of the campaign? Disappointed, obviously. There’s no shortage of people at Harmonix who love Rock Band, and some of us got extra excited at the prospect of bringing back RBN, and even more about getting the chance to expose RB to a brand new audience.”
“But at the same time we learned exactly what we needed to learn: there doesn’t seem to be enough of an audience to make Rock Band for PC a viable project for us right now. We’re committed to supporting and improving RB4 on consoles. To be clear, we raised nearly $800,000 via backers and investors; it’s an impressive showing of support from our community and for our brand. But as an independent developer we have to be careful about how much money and development time we risk on a project we’re not sure has a big enough audience, and crowdfunding allowed us to (among other things)* judge the market fit for Rock Band PC.”
According to Harmonix, the main reason for failing to reach the funding target was due to a lack of enthusiasm in the PC market. At first glance, this seems a little bit rash and trying to blame consumers for not investing. There’s a huge array of reasons why PC players were sceptical of backing the project. Firstly, the $1.5 million target is quite substantial and might have deterred people from backing smaller amounts. Even though Harmonix is now an independent company and no longer associated with Viacom/MTV, it’s difficult to shake off the past business arrangements. By this, I mean consumers don’t perceive Harmonix as a cash strapped company struggling to pay for development costs. On another note, why did the company decide to use Fig instead of Kickstarter?
To be fair, Harmonix has directly addressed the key questions about their funding campaign in the latest update and it’s well worth reading before making your own opinion.
Thank you to RobotBrush for providing us with this information:
The solar cells were created by researchers at MIT, who while they state they are years away from commercial products, the proof-of-concept means that soon your phones and even your clothes could soon be powering all your gadgets. The process involves a vacuum chamber and avoids the use of solvents, something that differs from the traditional approach of high temperature and chemicals in solar cell production.
The researchers were able to demonstrate how light and thin their solar cell was by placing it atop a soap bubble, the bubble then remained intact. The problem with the cell though is it may be too small, making it maybe a little too prone to blowing away in the wind or after a heavy breathe.
Would you like to see solar panels integrated into more things? Your house windows or your roof, why not your watch or the back of your phone? The possibilities are endless!
Apple is known for their hardware, from their iPods and iPads to their desktop Macs and portable Macbooks. One thing they release time and time again is their iPhones, with each generation getting a slightly reworked design and hardware upgrades to tempt users into purchasing the next device they release, it could soon be the case that you see something that looks a little bit more dated with something managing to find information referencing the much rumoured iPhone 5se.
The iPhone SE, with the 5 being dropped from its name, is said to be a new mini iPhone with the same dimensions as the iPhone 5s. With a little help from keen-eyed people, it’s now been found that the phone would feature a few changes.
Firstly the phone will feature its sleep/wake/power button on the side of the phone, a twist from the traditional top of phone approach used by most modern phones. Initial schematics also show that while the iPhone will feature curved edges there will also be a small “camera bump”. Even with these changes, the phone looks similar to the iPhone 5s in design and features, albeit it with more than likely some hardware upgrades.
It is expected that the device will be revealed on the 15th March, with a release following only a few days after. With minimal pre-order time and back to basics size option, some people may be tempted to give up their increased screen size for the ease and comfort offered by the small device.
Modern PCs come in many sizes from huge full size ATX towers to tiny cases which can fit into the palm of your hand. In the last few years, ITX motherboards and efficient low power processors have helped to make downsize HTPCs and LAN rigs. As a result, companies are moving towards smaller solutions to try to enter the living room space.
MSI has just announced the Cubi N which is the smallest mini PC of its kind. The system supports Intel’s Braswell family of CPUs and utilizes a fanless design. In terms of dimensions, the chassis measures 112mm x 116mm x 45mm (HxLxD).
The Braswell architecture is built on a 14nm manufacturing process and consumes less than 15W, a 30% reduction compared to the previous generation. On another note, the system is capable of outputting 4K video content and utilizes a modular design to house an optional 2.5″ disk drive; in the default setup, there is an integrated mSATA drive.
Other notable mentions include a 3 in 1 card reader, Intel® 3165 802.11AC, optional BT 4.0, four USB 3.1 ports, an HDMI output, and D-Sub out. The basic setup contains 4GB DDR3L which can be upgraded to a maximum of 8GB, and an Intel® Celeron N3150 Processor.
The MSI Cubi N will be globally available by the of October 2015.
If you haven’t noticed, Google has recently launched a new logo with the aim of integrating all its services into one banner and to also add compatibility for the multitude of devices which are available on the market today. One aspect which is compelling is the comparable size of the corporation’s new logo which stands at a tiny 305 bytes which is far lower than the colossal 14,000 bytes of its old design.
But, why was the old logo so large and why should I care? The evidence is surprisingly interesting than it might sound. Firstly, the old logo implemented a complicated Serif font which used Bezier curves, this meant that 6 letters had a combined total of 100 anchor points which added a total of 6KB or 6,380 bytes, although when compressed the total size which plummeted to 2KB or 2,145 bytes.
As you can see below, comparing a simplified version of the new logo with that of the previous one really conveys the difference, for example, the new logo can be constructed entirely of circles except for the lower case “g”, below are the stats concerning the new logo
10 circles (2 each for the capital G and lower case g, 2 for each O, and 2 for the e)
5 rectangles (2 for the capital G, 1 for the lower case l, 2 for the e)
1 shape made with 7 anchor points (the descender on the lower-case )
It seems the search giant is aiming for more minimalist design which is far less complicated than the old approach. It is also worth noting that Google pumps around substantial amounts of data every second of every day, even a lower size logo would make a difference to its servers and also to the end consumer, think data caps etc. A logo is there to primarily and quickly be identifiable to the consumer, it’s there to instantly catch the corner of the eye and, therefore, the design can be simpler, after all, now that Google have built up their brand to such a huge extent, it’s difficult to miss them.
Thank you quora for providing us with this information
Reports have indicated that a four person team inside Google X labs have switched from testing batteries back in 2013 to actually looking into technology for creating a new and improved version.
The group is said to be led by former Apple battery expert, Dr. Ramesh Bhardwaj, and formed back in 2012. One concept the group is said to be looking into is solid-state batteries, which are made by replacing the liquid chemicals with a solid current-inducing alternative. This is said to lead to smaller and safer batteries which can be produced in thin layers.
While the batteries are being designed for powering mobile devices, Google is said to also be looking into using the battery concept to power human body implants. Google is also not the only company to be working on futuristic batteries, but whoever comes up with the long-lasting, affordable, safer and smaller alternative to the current ones will be able to dominate the consumer market.
Thank you Phonearena for providing us with this information
A group of scientists from the university of Sungkyunkwan in South Korea have apparently developed a new technology which converts sound waves into electrical energy. With this concept, smartphones will be able to charge from any sound source, from talking to music and even highway traffic noise.
“The sound that always exists in our everyday life and environments has been overlooked as a source. This motivated us to realise power generation by turning sound energy from speech, music or noise into electrical power.” Dr. Sang-Woo Kim, a researcher involved in the project, stated.
The current outcome involves a prototype that converts around 100 decibels to 50 millivolts of electricity. This is done with a pad which absorbs sound waves and causes zinc oxide wires mounted between electrodes to compress and release, creating an electrical current that can be used to charge a battery.
While the generated electricity so far isn’t enough to power a whole phone, Dr. Kim stated that different materials can be used in the future to get better results. The current prototype however can already be beneficial for small, low-power sensors and implantable devices.
Have you ever wondered just how small a life form can get? Well, you are about to get the answer to that question. Scientists appear to have captured the first detailed microscopy images of an ultra-small bacteria.
The group of scientists who photographed the images are from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley. They believe that this is “about as small as life can get”. However, existence of ultra-small bacteria has been debated for two decades.
The cells are said to have a volume of 0.009 cubic microns, meaning that around 150,000 of these bacteria fit on a tip of hair. The scientists have also found that The bacterial cells have densely packed spirals that are probably DNA, a very small number of ribosomes, hair-like appendages, and a stripped-down metabolism that likely requires them to rely on other bacteria for many of life’s necessities.
“These newly described ultra-small bacteria are an example of a subset of the microbial life on earth that we know almost nothing about,” says Jill Banfield, a Senior Faculty Scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division and a UC Berkeley professor in the departments of Earth and Planetary Science and Environmental Science, Policy and Management. “They’re enigmatic. These bacteria are detected in many environments and they probably play important roles in microbial communities and ecosystems. But we don’t yet fully understand what these ultra-small bacteria do,” he added.
The scientists procured samples of the bacteria by using a new portable cryo plunger, which froze groundwater to absolute zero (which is -457.6°F or -272°C) in order to keep the cells intact during transportation.
Though there are a lot of unanswered questions to these newly discovered minuscule life-form, they would most probably fill a lot of gaps in biology.
Thank you Phys.org for providing us with this information
ECS (Elitegroup Computer Systems) are no stranger to the PC hardware game despite not being instantly recognisable by most as a PC hardware vendor. In fact, they are the fifth largest motherboard manufacturer in the world, producing hardware for some of the biggest PC brands such as Acer, Zoostorm, IBM and Compaq, and have been around since 1987. Although their bread and butter has been motherboards for years, they have occasionally deviated from this, releasing everything from graphics cards to SOC (System on a Chip) computers. Speaking of which, today’s review is all about their latest SOC offering; the ECS Liva Mini-PC!
The mini PC/net-top market that followed the brief fad of netbooks never really seemed to take off – by the time everyone had realised that netbooks were generally awkward to use and fairly underpowered the tablet market had began to take off, with manufacturers realising that netbooks wouldn’t survive the test of time. Interestingly, the net-top has had a recent resurgence of interest in recent times, with Android based net-tops offering low-cost media centres to Windows and Linux-based net-tops promising business users a cheap office worthy PC that uses a fraction of the power. ECS has come out swinging here, taking aim straight at the budget net-top market, providing the user with everything (with the exception of OS) needed to turn this little box of tricks into whatever PC they require, while undercutting rival offerings which often need extra components such as RAM or SSD’s first to function.
Chess has long been a standard game thrown in with many operating systems. Windows and Mac have had chess apps for decades. But what if early PCs had chess? One that required a ridiculously small amount of storage space?
BootChess might just have been that, had it been around then. The game uses just 487 bytes – not megabytes or even kilobytes, just bytes. It uses ASCII characters to form its ‘graphics’ and upper- and lower-case characters to represent white and black.
Despite being so small, its development is quite a feat – the earlier record holder, 1K ZX Chess, was 1024 bytes and held the title for over 33 years.
We’ve recently reported on Apple Pay coming to your mobile phone through their technology advancements, now news has come to light that a credit card processing service for small firms called Square is looking to bring it to the wider audience. The original list of participating Apple Pay stores was completely dominated by big names, leaving the small fish in some hot water.
In basic terms, Square is described as a mobile credit-card reader that allows a small business to process payments without needing a terminal. Originally seen as a competitor to Apple Pay, Square’s founder Jack Dorsey has publicly stated that his companies service is designed to function as “a [cash] register, and this register accepts all these forms of payments”, not a competitor to Apple’s newly announced technology. Adding to this, he is planning to integrate Apple Pay compatibility into his existing model with development said to commence in 2015.
CNN reported that this change will require a hardware update into Square’s existing technology, which currently serves as a module that plugs into smartphones. However, we’ve come to learn that most smartphones with NFC capabilities will quite possibly allow Square’s Apple Pay integration to work flawlessly without touching any hardware upgrades. If you’re a small business and are planning to use Apple pay, it’s about time you grabbed yourself a Nexus 5 or later model phone.
This is some good news for small business owners for sure, once again opening up another portal for their customers to pay with ease. We’re waiting with baited breath to see if, when and how Apple Pay takes off in the mainstream market.
Interactive change has come to peripherals – the Swiftpoint GT has been reportedly constructed in a bid to change the way we look at mice design which has followed common trends since it’s inception in 1964. Said to ensure your fingers can ‘become the mouse’, this product is marketed as a step into the future for computing interface technology. It’s being talked up a lot – can it live up to the hype?
The Swiftpoint GT is a compact and convenient mouse which combined natural touch gestures through a blue booth connection to your computer. Designed to offer two modes, point-and-click and touch gesture, this product has been developed in order to combat against the commonly seen Repetitive Strain Injury, Occupational Excessive Syndrome and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome seen within office workers, tech enthusiasts and professional gamers of today’s age.
The new design is said to be better for your body, allowing you to grip the mouse like a pen regardless of your hand size. Also claiming to increase your Microsoft Power Point, Word and Excel efficiency, the claims of this product get more and more outlandish as we read on.
Coming in at 23 grams and measuring 5.6cm x 4.3cm x 3.3cm, the Swiftpoint GT requires a smaller amount of operable space, due to its intended usage nature. This is marketed as an extensive positive when compared to small and somewhat clumsy Bluetooth mice of today, giving living giants like myself (6ft 5inch) the all-too-common hand cramps associated with poor design.
We’ll share with you a product release video below, please let us know your thoughts. I’d certainly like to test one, but I don’t think it’s going to make it into my Dota2 or CS:GO matchmaking games just yet. Short of making you a morning coffee, this mouse can apparently do it all.
Aside from desktop and enterprise hard drives and SSDs, not many people are aware that Seagate also have a NAS product line that covers every market sector including the SMB market. With the recent announcement that they are updating their NAS hard drive lines to include 5 and 6TB models, Seagate have updated their NAS line with two new products for the SMB market.
The new NAS range includes five systems which are built for environments with up to 50 users and with capacities and prices ranging from £199 for 2TB of storage up to £1,839 for a six bay 30TB system. The five units are broken down into groups known as Seagate NAS and Seagate NAS Pro.
The cheaper NAS line feature two and four bay systems with capacities of up to 16TB based around a Marvell 1.2GHz dual-core CPU, 512MB RAM, with two USB 3.0 ports and dual Gigabit LAN topped off with Seagate’s own OS 4 NAS operating system.
The second line which caters for the higher end of the SMB market is known as NAS Pro and this line coincides with the debut of Intel’s latest C2000 dual-core processor clocked at 1.7GHz. Sat alongside the C2000 CPU, Seagate pack each NAS Pro system with 2GB RAM, two USB3.0 and one USB2.0 port, dual Gigabit LAN and their latest NAS OS 4 operating system.
There is no work on when the systems will be available to buy at this moment in time, however full details on the two system lines can be found over on Seagate’s website: Seagate NAS &Seagate NAS Pro.
When looking at bulk storage and consequently network storage, the generic blueprint that virtually every vendor follows is a desktop or rackmount system with an even number of drive bays, each with the capacity to hold the largest drives that can be bought on the market today – which come in a 3.5″ format, although we do find a few situations where 2.5″ SSDs are used based on the application of the storage array. Whilst this blueprint is perfectly fine, on the consumer end of the market where we are not always looking at jaw dropping capacities and performance, a typical 4-bay system is not exactly the easiest of things to tuck away under the desk or in the closet and then we have to factor in the cost of getting up and running. 3.52 drives are the only way to go if you want large amounts of storage on hand, but if you want a more modest setup with a system the doesn’t end up acting like a foot rest under your desk, there are barely any options out there to choose from.
2.5″ drives are, for the most part, forgotten about when it comes to mass storage. Unless you are talking about solid state drives, we generally find people taking the 3.5″ route, without even considering 2.5″ spinning platters, which are left for the entry-level notebooks and budget ultra-SFF systems and this is reflected [as highlighted above] in the NAS market from bottom to top. Wanting to break away from this generalised blueprint, Synology have made an ambitious move to shrink down their popular DS414 line of systems into a tiny, baby-NAS like package which runs solely on 2.5″ drives, making the presence of a NAS in the home a lot more subtle than before.
With a top end raw capacity of only 4TB, Synology’s DS414slim is not going to be a storage monster for those who have tons of films, music and photos to store, but for the average Joe who is looking for a tidy, compact system to blend in with their minimalist desktop setup with a nice and reasonable storage capacity of 3TB (when in RAID5), the slim does start to sound like an interesting investment. It’s size is not a sign that we are working on skeleton features either. Whilst we only find a pair of USB3.0 ports and a pair of GbE ports alongside four drive bays, the number of software features that are at your disposal are virtually the same as those found on a full-on NAS such as the DS414 which this is related to. By the time we factor in the lower cost of drives; around £55 / $76 each for one of Western Digital’s 1TB Red drives which are build primarily for the consumer NAS market and what you can have here is a tidy little system that offers just as much as its larger siblings.
Whether or not this move turns out to be a successful move by Synology comes done to the build, features, ease of use and ultimately the performance. After all there is not point in getting such a tiny system if the performance is not worth the cost.
Packed in to the relatively tiny box, Synology provide a power adaptor with regional mains plug, a pair of patch leads, a set of screws, a quick installation guide and something a little bit different – a base on which the unit sits.
Drones are apparently not only becoming more common, but a lot smarter and smaller it seems. According to latest news, some research teams are currently looking into nature for answers in order to tackle the problems when designing new and improved drones.
From flying through narrow spaces to picking up objects, drones have plenty to learn from birds and other animals in the wild. However, the precision when looking at a flying drone depends entirely on its flight control. And where to get a better tutor than a which is born with the ability to fly.
This is the aim of some US-based groups scattered around the country. One of these groups is based in Harvard and is looking into creating a millimeter-sized drone which can manoeuvre in small, narrow and hard to reach areas. The drone at hand is reportedly inspired by flies or other winged insects, hovering in the air for extended periods of time. The team tasked with this project is hoping to gain a more detailed insight into insect population and even help in areas such as pollinating plants in the future.
Other groups such as the ones based in UNC Chapel Hill, Johns Hopkins University, or the University of California, are tasked with finding a way to create drones which can handle and perceive the elements of hot and cold or rain and heavy gusts of wind. The main objective for the latter teams is to come up with a wind-proof drone, having the hawk moth as the primary source of inspiration.
Micro-ATX motherboards and all things on the smaller form factor have been a big highlight in the past year or so, with Mini-ITX taking the market by storm and manufacturers somehow managing to cram all of the much needed, and wanted components into this much smaller sized boards. Fast forward to the present day and we see the same thing happening all over again with Z87 and Gigabyte, as they have managed to produce a board based around the new chipset, branded under the G1-Killer branding, much like we saw with the Z77 M3 board which we loved by the way.
For those out there wanting 4-way SLI and a full ATX form factor, Gigabyte have a board just for you; the G1.Sniper 5, but for those wanting a much smaller footprint, they have graced us with the G1.Sniper M5. This particular board is set to pack all of the grunt that its big brother incorporates, without any of the drawbacks, and that can be said for improved audio, overclockability, design and overall key features. Of course it doesn’t have the ability for quad SLI, but that’s why they have its big brother sharing the limelight to cater for that market.
As we work out way through the large stack of Z87 motherboards that we have here, we wanted to make sure that this board was one of the first, because if it’s anything like the Z77 G1.Sniper M3 was, then it’s going to be a complete animal and may give you a few shocks on the way, as small doesn’t necessarily mean underpowered of lacking features, in fact, quite the opposite.
Before we check out the performance though, we need to make our way through the packaging and accessories before we take a look at the board itself and all of its features including its shiny new BIOS that has been implemented. Once this is out of the way, we can get down to the nitty gritty and see how it performs at stock speeds as well as pushing it as far as we can under our testbed conditions, and then of course to see how it performs once it’s been pushed to its limits, so lets not delay and get straight into it.
The packaging is part of a new design that Gigabyte have implemented across the range with a sneak peek view of the cooling around the CPU socket. Inside we find the usual user guides, driver CD and casebage sticker, as well as a SLI bridge, 4 SATA data cables and rear I/O panel shield plate. An added extra as defined on the box is the Gigabyte OP-AMP upgrade kit which consists of an OP-AMP chip and removal tool as shown in the picture below.
Moving onto the board we have a Micro-ATX form factor board consisting of a black PCB and green components spanning across the slots and coolers. The design is similar to what we’ve seen on G1.Sniper boards in the past and G1-Killer branding is featured across the board. From a first glance, you can see that a lot of key features are included on the board, even though it uses a small form factor.
The CPU socket includes two passive heatsinks which are joined via a heatpipe. Black caps are used to provide stability and durability to the processor and its power comes from a single 8-pin ATX power connector, just tucked away at the top of the board. The green on the Gigabyte/Ultra Durable branded cooling isn’t too over the top and works really well with the black PCB that Gigabyte have used.
More G1-Killer branding is on the low-profile cooling solution that covers the Intel Z87 chipset and once again features a subtle green banding to coincide with the theme of the board.
Heading up the board we find four DIMM slots that support 32GB of DDR3 ranging from speeds all the way up to 2400MHZ + for those wishing to overclock. Also nearby is the ATX 24-pin power connector, USB 3.0 header and some overclocking functions. These include a debug LED, voltage measuring points, BIOS switches, reset and power buttons and a reset CMOS button for overclockers and troubleshooting alike.
Taking a look at the expansion slots, we’ve got a single PCI-Express x1 slot and three PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots which will run at x8/x8 while the third slot runs at x4 speeds independently. Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFireX is supported but only 2-way on each of these technologies.
On the edge of the board we find a total of six SATA ports all running at SATA 6Gb/s speeds thanks to the Intel Z87 Express chipset as standard with no need for any addon chip from ASMedia or Marvell.
At the opposite end of the board is a feature very much related to gamers and audiophiles with a glimpse at the Sound Core 3D audio, encompassed in a gold shielding to stop interference as well as having an EMI-like shield around the audio components. The removable OP-AMP can also be seen and Gigabyte are selling upgrade kits separately depending on your listening styles and habits.
Looking across the bottom of the board we have the usual suspects with a variety of system fan headers, two USB 2.0 headers and the typical front panel connectors for LEDs and switches on your chassis. Nothing out of the ordinary and not a great deal going on, but for a Micro-ATX board, what did you expect?
In typical eTeknix fashion, we finish things off with the rear I/O and can see two USB 2.0 connectors with a PS2 mouse/keyboard combo port just below it. Next to this is a DVI, two HDMI and a DisplayPort output with four USB 3.0 ports just next to it. Above this is a Gigabit LAN port that uses the Intel controller from the chipset. Audio wise we find an optical SPDIF with five gold connector audio jacks, which of course all use the Creative Sound Core 3D audio that we just spoke about.
Chipmaker; Freescale Semiconductor wanted to make a chip that can be implanted into a human body, and by doing so they’ve created the world’s smallest ARM-powered chip model; the Kinetis KL02.
The KL02 is as small as 1.9 x 2mm. Despite the insanely tiny footprint, the fully loaded multi-controller unit has a processor, RAM , ROM, Clock and I/O controller. It uses 32k flash storage, 4K memory, a 32bit processor, a 12-bit analog to digital converter and a low power Universal Asynchronous receiver/transceiver in a single die shrink, which allows devices to be made tiny enough that one can use it as swallow-able computers. Freescale said that they’ve been working with customers and partners to make this happen, but they can’t say anything further as the product is not announced officially.
In all honesty, devices as tiny as this can not only help doctors and even surgeons to understand their patients but users can also use it to keep a track on their health. If this is perfected as swallow-able computers, the possibility of it are endless.
As of now, Freescale is working with health and wellness clients such as Fitbit and the Omipod insulin pump which uses the company’s chips. The KL02 as of now is meant to be used with stuff like Nike+ where it can be used to wirelessly report your steps.
Steve Tateosian, Freescale’s Global manager, said,”We come across hundreds of micro-controllers embedded in the devices we use throughout the day. For example, you may come across them when your alarm wakes you up, you brush your teeth, make your coffee, unlock your car door, open your garage, put down the car window, pay the parking meter, tell the time on your watch, measure your heart rate, distance, and pace. While running you may listen to your music player with several controllers inside, including in the ear buds themselves.”
The multi-controller is available for retail but the KL02 is specifically designed only in response to a customer’s request.