RumorTT: EA preparing to layoff 500-1100 employees

Trace Hagan | Business, Financial & Legal | Apr 16, 2012 6:02 PM CDT

Let's first start this rumor off with a note: EA denies this rumor, however, its statements in regards to it seem to indicate that it is true.

A Mr. Derek Andersen from Startup Grind is claiming that he has confirmed with multiple sources inside Electronic Arts (EA) that the company is planning to layoff somewhere between 500 and 1100 employees. This equates to somewhere between 5% and 11% of the workforce could be on the chopping block. The layoffs were supposedly set for April 9, but have since been pushed back.

However, he claims that they are coming very soon. This year has been rough of EA: Star Wars hasn't matched goals and they were voted 'Worst Company In America' in a poll held by The Consumerist. Additionally, stock prices have fallen from $61 down to the current $16. Zynga has also cleaned out a large portion of EA's management.

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Crysis 3 is officially announced, coming Spring 2013

Trace Hagan | Gaming | Apr 16, 2012 3:29 PM CDT

It seems like the creators of the eye-candy that is Crysis have caved, at least somewhat, to demands that the series return to the jungle for this third installment. Instead of returning to the jungle, they have turned New York City into 7 unique environments dubbed the "7 Wonders." From raging rivers to urban rain forest, this new game is sure to have some incredible eye-candy, that is if your computer can run it!

Due to the new environments, new weapons have been developed. Prophet, the protagonist of the series, will be equipped with a lethal composite bow, an enhanced Nanosuit and devastating alien tech. An excerpt from the announcement of the game:

Players take on the role of 'Prophet' as he returns to New York, only to discover that the city has been encased in a Nanodome created by the corrupt Cell Corporation. The New York City Liberty Dome is a veritable urban rainforest teeming with overgrown trees, dense swamplands and raging rivers. Within the Liberty Dome, seven distinct and treacherous environments become known as the Seven Wonders. This dangerous new world demands advanced weapons and tactics. Prophet will utilize a lethal composite bow, an enhanced Nanosuit and devastating alien tech to become the deadliest hunter on the planet.

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A new Mac OSX Trojan exploits Word, not Java

Trace Hagan | Hacking, Security & Privacy | Apr 16, 2012 2:33 PM CDT

A second Mac OSX Trojan has been discovered, but is likely not to be as widespread as the Flashback Trojan due to the process by which it infects the computer. As opposed to the Flashback Trojan which could be caught simply by surfing the internet, this new Trojan requires users to download a malformed Word doc.

Similar to the Flashback Trojan, this new Trojan requires no entering of a username and password so it could catch Mac users off guard. This Trojan should be less widespread due to the fact that users have to download a malformed Word document file. Once opened, it exploits Word and opens a backdoor for hackers to steal information or install further code.

The security vulnerability is actually pretty old. It comes from June 2009, so as long as you keep your Microsoft software up to date, you should be safe from this Trojan. With all of the recent outbreaks of Trojans, it won't surprise me if they start coming more frequently with more capabilities to do destructive things.

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Western Digital releases new VelociRaptor hard drive, a 1TB, 10,000RPM monster

Trace Hagan | Storage | Apr 16, 2012 1:29 PM CDT

Today is a good day for storage geeks. Intel released their new 330 series solid state drives and Western Digital has released this monster of a drive. This new addition to the VelociRaptor line of hard drives brings a 1TB drive into the 10,000 RPM range. This is the single largest drive that operates at 10,000 RPM.

"WD is committed to providing customers with the best performing and most reliable SATA hard drives and our WD VelociRaptor family of drives underscores that promise," said Darwin Kauffman, vice president and general manager of WD's enterprise storage. "With ever-increasing demand for greater capacity, the new 1 TB WD VelociRaptor drive delivers the ultimate combination of speed and storage for the power user."

Features of the new drive include:

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Intel announces Intel solid-state drive 330 series for people on a budget

Trace Hagan | Storage | Apr 16, 2012 1:17 PM CDT

The new line of Intel sold-state drives dubbed the 330 series are built for consumers on a budget. Intel states that it blends performance, quality, and value. The new line is produced in 60 gigabytes (GB), 120GB and 180GB versions, which according to Intel are the most popular sizes for solid-state drives.

The highlights are as follows:

"An SSD is still the single best upgrade you can make to your existing PC, and the Intel SSD 330 Series gives users the latest Intel SSD technology at a price to meet their budget," said James Slattery, product line manager for client SSDs, Intel Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group. "Backed by Intel's rigorous testing process, the Intel SSD 330 Series offers our users the speed they need at a great price, backed by world-class manufacturing, reliability and tech support."

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Pottermore Web site opens for all

Trace Hagan | Internet & Websites | Apr 16, 2012 12:27 PM CDT

For all of the Harry Potter fans out there, Pottormore finally opens for all, sort of. You see, you can now register after providing some personal details to find out if you're magical or not, but that doesn't give you access. Your account has to be verified before you can access the site.

Unfortunately for us, the site's management has let it be known that the approval/verification process could be slow even though they plan to verify a steady stream of accounts. They make note that you may not gain access right away. Darn. Currently you will find e-books of all 7 books as well as the audiobook versions.

Once you do gain access, you will be able to have access to interactive tours of locations mentioned in the books and the virtual tools needed to practice your magical arts. The owners plan to add more features over the coming weeks and months. Additionally, after your registration is approved, you will be sorted into one of the four houses and be chosen by your wand.

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Google and AOL to sell upfronts like TV stations do

Trace Hagan | Business, Financial & Legal | Apr 16, 2012 10:34 AM CDT

If you're a fan of online video, you could be in for a new advertising treat: AOL and Google have announced plans to start selling upfronts. This common practice of television networks is where they sell shows and ad space for the upcoming season. This is a good way to clear advertising inventory and have predictable revenue streams.

Google is set to have these upfronts in May of this year. AOL has since announced that they are getting in on the action. AOL says that they will offer "guaranteed audience delivery for online video advertising campaigns bought across its properties." AOL will host advertisers on April 24 at a Digital Content Newfronts presentation.

Nikesh Arora, chief business officer at Google, highlighted YouTube's brand power. Google hopes to translate that into ad dollars. Arora said:

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Palit shows off GEFORCE GTX 680 JetStream, oh by the way, it sports 4GB of RAM

Anthony Garreffa | Video Cards & GPUs | Apr 16, 2012 6:25 AM CDT

Palit have already launched their GEFORCE GTX 680 JetStream, but did you really think they'd go back to their man cave and continue gaming on their high-end GPUs and not work on anything else? Ha!

Now we have the new JetStream which sports 4GB of RAM. The new GTX 680 JetStream 4GB joins the 4GB ranks being made up by Gainward and their Phantom 4GB as well as Galaxy's GTX 680 4GB. This new extra RAM definitely comes in handy for those insane resolution and anti-aliasing that you can use, as well as the triple-monitor Surround Vision setups.

The new GEFORCE GTX 680 JetStream standard model with 2GB comes with core speeds of 1150MHz and 6.30GHz on the memory. The 4GB variant sticks to the NVIDIA reference clocks of 1056MHz and 6.00GHz for the core and memory, respectively. It will still use the 6-pin plus 8-pin PCIe connectors. The card itself looks quite sexy with three fans, too.

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US military wants to give soldiers dual-focus cameras, probably won't call them T-101's

The on-going multiple wars that the United States are knee-deep in probably won't stop anytime soon, and will most likely only get worse from here on out if everyone we're being fed on the news is right: Iran, North Korea and those pesky "terrorists" that the U.S. government fund left, right and centre. But, the latest step that the United State Department of Defense is working on is something very interesting indeed.

The U.S. DoD have signed a contract with Innovega, a Washington-based firm for development and testing of its dual-focus contact lenses. The technology would make it possible to project a HUD (heads-up display) onto the center of each lens, while keeping it in-focus regardless where the wearer is looking.

This would really just give the soldier a game-like HUD, where he could view his health stats, armor, and XP - on a serious note, the soldier could see details like notes from superiors, real-time maps, satellite view, and more. We're already seeing the consumer level of this technology from Google in the form of their Project Glass.

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Autodesk Smoke 2013 for Mac is coming, costs just $3,495

Anthony Garreffa | Software & Apps | Apr 15, 2012 11:32 PM CDT

Autodesk have been tinkering with their video editing and post-shot visual effects tool, Smoke, and will release it later in the fall. Smoke 2013 brings a bunch of new features, such as a unified interface that mixes the traditional, editorial track-based editing with Autodesk's own interface elements.

A node-based compositing tool, ConnectFX, allows editors to insert advanced effects without having to jump to a separate interface. New specific tools make the jump to the 2013 edition of Smoke, including a Color Warper for pro color adjustment, a Master Keyer for faster chromakey editing for green screens and stereoscopic 3D editing, and a 3D visual effects workflow with real 3D effects for elements like logos and titles.

All media is also put into a central area, called the MediaHub. Hardware requirements have been actually lowered, and not increased for Smoke 2013, where users can also now take advantage of Thunderbolt-based external drives and video peripherals to get the same kind of editing one would receive from the high-end Mac Pro.

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