Tag: personal computing

Microsoft offers developers a preview of its quantum computing kit

Developers hoping to get on the quantum computer train early can now get started with Microsoft's Quantum Development Kit, a free preview version of which was released today. The kit, which was first announced at Microsoft's Ignite conference in September, includes the Q# programming language, a quantum computing simulator that can simulate 30 logical qubits of power and a companion collection of documentation, libraries and sample programs that will help developers get a better foothold on the complex science behind quantum computing.

The simulator will allow developers to test programs and debug code with their own computers, which is necessary since there really aren't any quantum computers for them to test their work on yet. Microsoft is also offering a more powerful simulator -- one with over 40 logical qubits of computing power -- through its Azure cloud computing service. And because the kit is integrated into Microsoft's Visual Studio developer tool suite, many aspects of the new kit will be familiar.

"What you're going to see as a developer is the opportunity to tie into tools that you already know well, services you already know well," Todd Holmdahl, Microsoft's VP in charge of its quantum effort, said in a statement. "There will be a twist with quantum computing, but it's our job to make it as easy as possible for the developers who know and love us to be able to use these new tools that could potentially do some things exponentially faster – which means going from a billion years on a classical computer to a couple hours on a quantum computer."

Source: Microsoft (1), (2)


‘Evil Within 2’ trial gives you a taste of surreal survival horror

Free trials (aka demos) are good ways to get a feel for a game before you buy, but they could be particularly helpful for The Evil Within 2. How are you going to wrap your head around Shinji Mikami's surreal survival horror game based on second-hand info? You don't have to. Bethesda has released a free trial of Evil Within 2 for PS4, Xbox One and Windows PCs. The sample lets you experience a few chapters of detective Sebastian Castellanos' bid to rescue his daughter, including some open world experiences and character customization. Any progress you make can transfer to the full game if you decide to splurge.

The original Evil Within wasn't particularly impressive when it launched, but its sequel has generally fared better. The emphasis is more on the "survival" part than the "horror" this time, but reviewers have generally liked the more involving gameplay and open world aspects. In that sense, the trial is particularly fitting: it's a chance to check out a franchise that you might have ignored the first time around.

Via: Windows Central

Source: PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store, Bethesda (YouTube)


‘Street Fighter’ anthology brings online play to classic brawlers

The original Street Fighter turned 30 this year, and Capcom is marking it in style... if a little late. It's releasing a Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection in May 2018 that not only bundles many of the pre-3D titles (ranging from the first game through III 3rd Strike), but adds online multiplayer. Fire up II, II Turbo, Alpha 3 or III 3rd Strike and you won't have to gather rivals in the same room to show off your Ryu or Sakura skills.

This isn't the most comprehensive collection. What, no Street Fighter: The Movie? However, you might not mind so much given the broad platform support. The 30th Anniversary release will be available on the PS4, Switch, Windows PCs and the Xbox One, so there's a good possibility that you can play your preferred flavor of Street Fighter whichever way you like, including on the road.

Via: Kotaku

Source: Digital Eclipse (Twitter), Street Fighter (YouTube)


‘MechWarrior 5’ will revolve around co-op and user mods

Piranha Games is starting to open up on what MechWarrior 5: Mercernaries will entail after a year of teasing, and it's good news if you don't always want to play alone. The robot battler should launch in December 2018 with co-op play as a central feature -- up to four players can take on the game's central campaign. Your friends stand in for the AI teammates in your unit, which could be helpful when you absolutely need someone watching your back.

The title will also make a big deal of mod support through Steam Workshop, letting you tailor your own missions, planets and other aspects of the game. Not surprisingly, the game mostly hinges on running your own mercenary company. And if you're wondering: yes, there's a good chance the Clans play a role. The game starts in MechWarrior's 3015 timeframe and lasts for about 35 years, or right as the Clan invasion is in full swing.

There's still a lot we don't know about MW5, but for many its mere existence is important. It's the first MechWarrior game with a single-player mode in over 15 years, and the first new game in the series for over 4 years. For some, it isn't so much a sequel as it is a return to the franchise's roots.

Via: PC Gamer

Source: Piranha Games (YouTube), MechWarrior 5


Apple AI chief reveals more progress on self-driving car tech

After remaining tight-lipped for years, Apple is now more than eager to share how much progress it's making on self-driving car technology. AI research director Ruslan Salakhutdinov made a presentation this week that revealed more of what the company's autonomous driving team has been up to. Some of the talk was familiar, but there were a few new examples of how far the fledgling project had come.

To start, Apple has crafted a system that uses onboard cameras to identify objects even in tricky situations, such as when raindrops cover the lens. It can estimate the position of a pedestrian even if they're hidden by a parked car. Other additions included giving cars direction through simultaneous localization and mapping, creating detailed 3D maps using car sensors and decision-making in urgent situations (say, a wayward pedestrian).

It's still not certain if or how Apple will commercialize its self-driving know-how. At the moment, its next goal is to produce driverless employee shuttles. The company isn't currently expected to sell its own cars, but licensing its work to others would be unusual when Apple is well-known for preferring to develop everything in-house.

The talk in itself is notable. Apple has been slowly opening the kimono on its AI research, but it hasn't been clear on just how much it was willing to discuss. Salakhutdinov's chat shows that it's willing to offer at least some kind of consistent openness rather than maintaining its legendary secrecy. Not that it has much of a choice. Apple has struggled to attract AI talent in part because its secretive approach has been unappealing for researchers used to receiving academic and industry recognition. Presentations like this could keep Apple's AI team in the spotlight and reel in scientists who'd otherwise go to Facebook, Google or tech giants.

Source: Wired


Apple’s Jony Ive will return to his design management role

Apple's chief design officer, Jony Ive, is picking his old management duties back up again, 9to5Mac reports. Back in 2015, Ive was upgraded to chief design officer from senior VP and day-to-day management was taken over by Alan Dye and Richard Howarth. Earlier today, 9to5Mac noted that Dye and Howarth were no longer listed on Apple's leadership page and now word's out that Ive is back at the management helm. In a statement to Bloomberg, an Apple spokesperson said, "With the completion of Apple Park, Apple's design leaders and teams are again reporting directly to Jony Ive, who remains focused purely on design."

Apple has come under fire for some of its recent design choices, like the way its Pencil and Mouse charge, the lack of ports in the MacBook and, of course, that iPhone X notch. That may or may not have anything to do with Ive's return, but as 9to5Mac notes, the writing may have been on the wall. Dye and Howarth haven't really been in the spotlight much since becoming senior VPs while Ive has retained a fair amount of public exposure.

We've reached out to Apple for comment and we'll update this post when we hear more.

Via: 9to5Mac

Source: Bloomberg


Kaspersky Lab is closing its Washington, DC office

Kaspersky Lab Inc. has had a rough time with the US government this year and now Bloomberg reports that the company will be closing its Washington, DC office. However, while its government business seems to be dead in the water, Kaspersky still plans to sell to non-federal US customers and will be opening offices in Chicago and Los Angeles next year.

In July, the Trump administration removed Kaspersky from its list of approved IT vendors and in August reports surfaced that the FBI was trying to convince companies to ditch Kaspersky's products. These moves were a result of US government suspicions that Kaspersky funnels information from its customers to the Russian government. Best Buy pulled Kaspersky products from its shelves shortly thereafter and the US government ultimately banned federal agencies from using the company's security software in September.

While the UK's cybersecurity authority, the National Cyber Security Centre, also advised government agencies against using Kaspersky software, the company's vice president, Anton Shingarev said in a recent interview, "We are in talks with NCSC and are trying to figure out what's needed to deserve an opposite recommendation. In general, they support the idea of opening the source code of our software for independent audit." He also said that Europe's regulators are "fact-driven" while the US ban was based on "emotions" and "speculations." Kaspersky has repeatedly maintained that it does not share its information with the Russian government.

To quell concerns about the company, Kaspersky announced in October that it would open up its source code to third-party review. That's set to begin early next year.

Via: Bloomberg


NVIDIA’s ‘most powerful GPU’ ever is built for AI

NVIDIA's newest Titan GPU is now available for purchase, and the company says it's the "world's most powerful GPU for the PC" yet. The GPU-maker has launched the Volta-powered Titan V at the annual Neural Information Processing Systems conference. Volta is NVIDIA's latest microarchitecture designed to double the energy efficiency of its predecessor, and Titan V can apparently deliver 110 teraflops of raw horsepower or around 9 times what the previous Titan is capable of. This powerful new GPU's target? Scientists and researchers working on AI, deep learning and high performance computing.

Since Volta was designed to work on a mixture of computation and calculations and has features created specifically for deep learning, scientists can use the GPU to build their own desktop PCs if they don't need special servers. NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang said during the event:

"Our vision for Volta was to push the outer limits of high performance computing and AI. We broke new ground with its new processor architecture, instructions, numerical formats, memory architecture and processor links. With TITAN V, we are putting Volta into the hands of researchers and scientists all over the world. I can't wait to see their breakthrough discoveries."

Those scientists and researchers probably need the backing of their educational institutions and donors to build computers with Titan V, though. The GPU, which is now available from NVIDIA's website and retailers, will set them back $2,999.

Source: NVIDIA


‘Firewatch’ studio Campo Santo is building an Egyptian adventure

Campo Santo, the independent studio behind Firewatch, is working on a new game called In the Valley of Gods. It's a first-person adventure set in the 1920s that takes players through the abandoned, ancient deserts of Egypt. Here's how Campo Santo describes it:

"You play as an explorer and filmmaker who, along with your old partner, has traveled to the middle of the desert in the hopes of making a seemingly-impossible discovery and an incredible film."

In the Valley of Gods is due to hit PC in 2019, though the studio hasn't ruled out a launch on consoles.

Campo Santo's first game, Firewatch, was also a first-person adventure, and that approach served the studio well. The game found commercial and critical success in 2016, coming from a team of veteran developers and artists including Olly Moss, Sean Vanaman and Jake Rodkin.

Source: In the Valley of Gods


Why Qualcomm’s Tech Summit this week mattered

Qualcomm had so much news to share this year that it decided to throw a three-day "Tech Summit" in Hawaii for hundreds of press and analysts. In addition to unveiling the latest generation of its high-end mobile processor, Qualcomm also announced new Snapdragon-powered laptops from HP and ASUS, a new dedicated Hi-Fi audio DAC and a partnership with AMD. Speaking of partnerships, many of the companies that work with Qualcomm also attended the event to discuss the future of technologies like AI, 5G, AR and VR.

Given the battle Qualcomm is waging against Apple, as it fends off a potential takeover from rival Broadcomm, the Tech Summit has been as much a news announcement event as it was a show of force. Qualcomm isn't just a mobile chip maker, and it sure as hell wants you to know. Catch up on all you may have missed from the company's big event this week in under four minutes with this short video!