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Amazon Echo and Alexa can now read books to you

By: Jeff Williams | More News: Audio, Sound & Speakers | Posted: Jan 17, 2016 9:03 pm

An update to the Amazon Echo now lets Alexa read you a nice story. And this new feature has a chance of replacing you as the head minstrel, reading bedtime stories to your kids.

 

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This update comes completely free to all owners of the Echo, and works rather simply. Just ask Alexa to "read "insert book name here" and she'll start exploring the depths of that particular novel. Unfortunately her voice isn't quite so natural sounding as of yet, but it's quite the innovation, especially if you'd rather listen to that while engaged with other activities. She's able to read any book in your Kindle library.

 

The interesting thing is how this will conflict with another Amazon company, Audible, which serves up actual narrated audio-books. Granted, Alexa isn't quite as sultry and smooth as some of the great narrators used for Audible books, but given time we could see a rise in the popularity of using a well-developed AI to do such things instead. Siri even sounds a lot more natural now, even if some of her responses are pre-programmed.

Continue reading 'Amazon Echo and Alexa can now read books to you' (full post)

13TB SSD is massive, has massive price-tag to along with it

By: Jeff Williams | More News: Storage | Posted: Jan 17, 2016 7:02 pm

A company called Fixstars, from Japan, has released one of the largest SSD's to date. It has 13TB of space in it's 100x70x15mm case. Just imagine being able to have your entire Steam library plus every document you ever created, easily and quickly accessible?

 

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For comparison, it can hold up to 823 hours of H.256 compressed 4K video. What a dream that would be. But this gigantic SSD is about $18,000 total, if we go by the current price of NAND per gig. To actually find out the price, you'd have to ask for a quote as it's actually intended for the enterprise or data-center markets. The current largest amount of NAND you can buy is from 4.6TB from SanDisk or Intel. So this is a major leap forward.

 

Looking at the specs it looks like it uses Toshiba's 15nm MLC NAND and a SATA 3.0 interface for speeds of up to 580MB/s read and 520MB/s write. That's not too shabby. The endurance should also be a bit more than the average considering the market it's in and the potential for higher over-provisioning due to the massive amounts of space available. There's no word on what controller it uses, but for enterprise it'll have to be a reliable one with good garbage collection and I/O performance. Anyone want to go halfsies on this one?

Activision being sued by children of Black Ops 2 Angolan rebel chief

By: Jeff Williams | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Jan 17, 2016 5:02 pm

Activision generally makes a good game, though that's always up for debate. Part of that might include a little artistic license when portraying real-world based characters. And now Activision is being sued by the family of an Angolan rebel chief that was portrayed in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

 

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Three of Jonas Savimbi's surviving children don't agree with how their father was portrayed in Black Ops 2, saying that he was not quite the "barbarian" they showed him as in the game. And as a result of their dissatisfaction with the way that their father's memory was handled, they're seeking €1 million in damages,

 

In life, Jonas Savimbi was the leader of a guerrilla insurgency against the Angolan government to liberate it. He's the founder, and was the leader, of the National Union of the Total Independence of Angola. Ronald Reagan himself even saw him as a freedom fighter as opposed to placing the other, more extreme, term on his name.

Continue reading 'Activision being sued by children of Black Ops 2 Angolan rebel chief' (full post)

Blood Bowl 2 World Cup gets $35,000 worth of prizes

By: Jeff Williams | More News: Gaming | Posted: Jan 17, 2016 3:06 pm

Cyanide Studios and Game Workshop are hosting their World Cup for Blood Bowl 2 this year and registrations are now open. And to sweeten the deal, they've teamed with ASUS for some very interesting prizes.

 

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Everyone who enjoys Blood Bowl 2 can participate but only the top 64 players will be able to move forward to the play off's. It's easy to enter, just register on the public league or join a private league that's governed by the official Blood Bowl 2 community.

 

The grand prize is $10,000 worth of cold hard cash, probably even in the gold depicted in the photo. But aside from that there are actually some good gaming related prizes. Three gaming PC's, of which two are laptops and enough accessories to replace everything you have. And you might be one of the lucky fellows to win a few good Steam games too.

Continue reading 'Blood Bowl 2 World Cup gets $35,000 worth of prizes' (full post)

Monster Hunter Online will be powered by AMD's TressFX technology

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Gaming | Posted: Jan 17, 2016 12:29 pm

Chinese gaming giant - which now happens to own League of Legends - will have AMD's TressFX technology powering Monster Hunter Online.

 

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Not only that, but AMD will be bringing over a number of performance optimizations, too. Tencent Games will release a patch later this month for Monster Hunter Online, injecting AMD's TressFX technology. According to AMD, there are a bunch of new features headed to Monster Hunter Online, including TressFX, Eyefinity, Radeon Software updates, and more. Here's the full list:

 

  • AMD TressFX for natural hair and fur: The TressFX in MHO will bring monsters to life with natural-looking fur making them seem more realistic while delivering a more immersive gaming experience.
  • AMD Eyefinity technology for multi-display gaming: Allows gamers the option to create their dream display setup so that they could survey the landscape to find the best target, or ratchet up the intensity in action-packed battles.
  • Radeon Software updates for Improved performance: AMD Radeon Software updates will improve performance as well as stability, ensuring players get the best experience in MHO.
  • Forward+ rendering optimization for more realistic lighting: These optimizations render various light sources, and then cull and store only those visible to the user, delivering exceptional-looking scenes without performance degradation.

Xbox One won't receive background music feature until later this year

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Gaming Consoles | Posted: Jan 17, 2016 10:26 am

While PC gamers have been able to do this for something like 20+ years now, Xbox One fans will eventually be able to play music in the background - but it won't come "before Summer", unfortunately.

 

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The news about background music on the Xbox One is coming from Xbox boss Phil Spencer, who was asked on Twitter. Spencer responded saying that background music wouldn't hit the Xbox One "before Summer, sorry to say".

Apple has reportedly delayed the release of the Apple Watch 2

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Wearable Computing | Posted: Jan 17, 2016 8:24 am

It looks like Apple will not be unveiling the successor to its first wearable in a few months, with the Apple Watch 2 to arrive later in the year.

 

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It looks like the original 18-month refresh cycle for Watch is true, and there won't be much changed from the original wearable. According to TechCrunch's Matthew Panzarino, Apple Watch 2 will include newer casings and improved battery life, but it won't arrive in the March-April timeframe that has been previously rumored.

 

Panzarino still says that Apple might unveil new "design partnerships" for Watch 2 in March, and new accessories to keep the momentum of Apple Watch chugging along. He also added that we might see a minor update to Apple Watch with a FaceTime camera early this year, but it will not be a "full Watch 2.0". Panzarino added that he talked with Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin, who said that there's no evidence that Apple would be releasing a full-fledged Apple Watch 2 anytime soon.

Our first taste of the score from Batman v Superman is here!

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Audio, Sound & Speakers | Posted: Jan 17, 2016 6:34 am

Warner Bros. is definitely not shy when it comes to revealing details about the most expensive movie ever made: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

 

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The studio has just released a tease of one of the tracks from the score of Batman v Superman, called "Their War Here". Personally, I think this will be the music we'll hear during the flashback scene where Bruce Wayne is running through Metropolis when Superman and Zod were fighting in Man of Steel.

 

The official soundtrack for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice drops on March 18, one week before the movie hits theaters. It'll arrive digitally, on CD, a 2-disc deluxe CD, and on a Limited Edition 3-disc deluxe vinyl. As for the full track listing, check it out:

 

"Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice" Tracklist

 

  • Beautiful Lie
  • Their War Here
  • The Red Capes Are Coming
  • Day Of The Dead
  • Must There Be A Superman?
  • New Rules
  • Do You Bleed?
  • Problems Up Here
  • Black and Blue
  • Tuesday
  • Is She With You?
  • This Is My World
  • Men Are Still Good (The Batman Suite)
  • Blood Of My Blood (Bonus Track)**
  • Vigilante (Bonus Track)**
  • May I Help You, Mr. Wayne? (Bonus Track)**
  • They Were Hunters (Bonus Track)**
  • Fight Night (Bonus Track)**

 

** On deluxe versions only.

AMD's high-end Polaris 'most revolutionary jump in performance so far'

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Video Cards | Posted: Jan 17, 2016 4:38 am

We are beginning to find out more and more about AMD's enthusiast-powered Polaris GPUs, thanks to a chat between RTG boss Raja Koduri, and VentureBeat.

 

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During the chat, Koduri said: "We have two versions of these FinFET GPUs. Both are extremely power efficient. This is Polaris 10 and that's Polaris 11. In terms of what we've done at the high level, it's our most revolutionary jump in performance so far. We've redesigned many blocks in our cores. We've redesigned the main processor, a new geometry processor, a completely new fourth-generation Graphics Core Next with a very high increase in performance. We have new multimedia cores, a new display engine".

 

He added: "In summary, it's fourth generation Graphics Core Next. HDMI 2.0. It supports all the new 4K displays and TVs coming out with just plug and play. It supports display core 4.3, the latest specification. It's very exciting 4K support. We can do HAVC encode and decode at 4K on this chip. It'll be great for game streaming at high resolution, which gamers absolutely love. It takes no cycles away from games. You can record gameplay and still have an awesome frame rate. It'll be available in mid-2016".

 

So what have we taken away from this? We now know about AMD calling their new GPUs by 'Polaris 10' and 'Polaris 11'. We knew about HDMI 2.0 arriving with the fourth-gen GCN core, which brings AMD's enthusiast cards up to where NVIDIA has been for around 18 months now. 2016 is going to be the most exciting year for GPUs, especially with HBM2 arriving with up to 32GB and 1TB/sec of memory bandwidth.

HoloLens is 'totally wireless' with 'up to 5.5 hours' of battery life

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Virtual & Augmented Reality | Posted: Jan 17, 2016 2:11 am

With all of the talk about the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift being held back by cables, Microsoft has announced that HoloLens will be a "totally wireless" device, thanks to the inclusion of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.

 

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During an event in Tel Aviv, Microsoft Technical Evangelist Bruce Harris said that any universal Windows 10 applications will run natively on HoloLens and that for the HoloLens to reach its full potential, developers will need to make 3D apps to draw people in. Harris said that a wired version of HoloLens would not be happening.

 

When it comes to the battery life side of HoloLens, Harris explains it will be "very much like a laptop". In other words, we're going to be looking at around 5.5 hours of basic use, and 2.5 hours of intensive use. Microsoft has managed to get battery life on HoloLens to around 5.5 hours by making the field of view smaller, with Harris explaining that it's similar to a 15-inch monitor at 2 feet away. When costs begin to come down, Microsoft will increase the FOV in future iterations of HoloLens headsets.

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