Web Log Update

New Technology and the Datacenter – Part One

April 15th, 2013

While there is still the lingering image of flying cars and cities in the sky as symbols for the ideal future, recent advances in personal technology are clear evidence that the future is now. Our familiarity with and utilization of these inventions on a daily basis may dull one’s sense of awe, but the devices we use are the science fiction of yesteryear. When one finds time to stop and think, it is easy to be amazed by the tools we have at our command, or excited about the potential of both them and their successors in our daily lives.

 

Specifically, the advent of the tablet is a most prominent step in efficiency. At Cyber Wurx, we have begun to utilize Google’s Nexus 7 around the facility to keep in contact with each other and stay updated on incoming service requests; even when we are away from our workstations, we can stay aware of what pressing issues are incoming so that we can react swiftly. We have direct access to our desktops over wireless through helpful applications like Slashtop. Our internal applications, available to us via tablet or smartphone, help us maintain inventory, process shipping requests and communicate with our customers as efficiently as possible.

However, there have been plenty of recent developments and discussion on new electronics that bring these useful and convenient devices into the realm of what we imagine as cyborg technology. What we mean to say is, we are steps closer to the fictionalized ideal of what cyborg technology resembles, aesthetically and in functional use, so much though that it seems like a real possibility in our lifetimes.

These technologies, which augment our daily lives and our perceptions of reality, allow us to be more aware of our environment on a technological level. They are relevant to us because we believe they will help us do our jobs better as datacenter technicians, or that they may mature into new and exciting options that will also potentially meet and exceed those expectations. Wearable computers, HMDs (head mounted displays), HIDs (human interface devices), and other types of personal tech are leading us toward the ideal of ubiquitous computing. Because of that, we have a strong interest in trying out new tools and figuring out how they may help us help our customers.

The New Advent of Linux Gaming – Part Three

March 17th, 2013

With the Steam Store offering over 100 Linux compatible games, there is both supply and demand. On top of this, talk of the Steam Box is also a hot topic, the plans for which include a Linux-based OS. The merging of console with computer seems to be a road we have yet to cross successfully as a gaming community, and this may be the first successful step into a new paradigm, opening console players up to the plethora of PC-based games – effectively and immediately expanding the market for those games. With that power behind them, they can possibly vie for developer attention specifically for their product.

However, the advent of Linux-based gaming will face some challenges before it sails with the flying colors Windows PCs have long taken for granted, and consoles have long been able to dodge.

The simple reason for the incompatibility between Windows games and Linux has to do with the 3D engines used in Windows games, specifically, Direct 3D. Because it is Windows-only, and many games have been programmed to run with that particular set of parameters, there would be quite a bit of work to do to convert to an API that is open source, like OpenGL.

So now, the task is to start in OpenGL. While OpenGL has been around for decades, it has constantly been competition with Direct3D, which is. Of the games that have used it, several are legendary: The Quake series, Baldur’s Gate, and more recently, Portal and Portal 2. While there has been back and forth for preferences between these engines for years, lethargy has been cited as a reason to not switch between one and another for game companies already used to a particular renderer.

On top of this, a Linux OS generally requires a little more time, maintenance, and knowledge than does your more mainstream operating systems. While it may not be a forethought on the minds of a Windows or OSX user, as compatibility with previous processor types is included in the current releases of those operating systems. On top of that, those systems generally have cross-compatibility with different processors, whereas many Linux distributions may require you to use compatibility modes in order to use programs designed to work with a specific type of processor. So, if you choose to take this leap, choose a Linux distribution with backwards compatibility, or choose an installation with the highest rate of compatibility to the games that you wish to play.

We will leave this discussion with some final questions: do PC users feel they need the newest operating system anymore? Or even the newest hardware? Does the usefulness, familiarity, and the overall effectiveness of older Windows installations outweigh the desire to upgrade to Windows 8 or Linux?

Do you have any feedback or opinions on this issue? Visit us over at Facebook and weigh in – we are curious as to what you think. What do you game on? Do you think you’ll change to a new OS or a brand new box anytime soon?

The New Advent of Linux Gaming – Part Two

February 26th, 2013

With the introduction of touchscreen smartphones and other portable technologies being introduced to the general public, the basic interface that people interact with to access the internet, as well as their own data, has changed. This has led to the development of many simplified interfaces, as well as responsive web design, as folks stray away from the keyboard and mouse as their main daily input/output tools, using instead the tip of their finger or occasionally the stylus. Windows, in particular, has taken this direction to heart with its release of Windows 8 across the technology spectrum.

Tablet technology and touch screens have different demands than what desktops are meant to do. So, developing an OS that is emulated between devices to unify a brand and an aesthetic may have seemed like a good idea, but in practice seems to be alienating the common computer user and purchaser, as well as the tablet owner. So the change seems to be an important mark in the timeline of the of the Windows-based PC User, and specifically, the PC gamer.

Outside of interface over-complexity, the Windows game store seems like another attempt to hedge in games to Windows compatibility only, the crossover instead being developed for XBox to Windows instead of branching out to more OS options. This proprietary attitude has been Window’s MO since pretty much forever. With the success of Steam, having to compete with a built-in Windows game store is pretty intimidating, and threatens to further split up the social gaming nexus.

Even further, with Windows getting in on the proprietary hardware angle with the development of the Surface, (and arguably, the XBox, but that’s a longer conversation) there is a large concern for computer hardware companies losing large amounts of business, as the model for PC (versus Apple since the 2000s) has been a much more highly customizable one, with hardware not being handled as directly by Microsoft. However, examining the business model for Apple, it makes sense for them to venture into that realm – it just causes concerns for companies like Dell, HP, Acer, ASUS, etc.

Thankfully, even beyond the problems created by little walled gardens each larger brand seems to be making for itself, this does not mean we will see a decline in gaming on the desktop computer, which has become in many ways, healthier and heartier than ever before. The development of these game stores and communities like Steam has been, in many ways the unifying factor in PC gaming community and has allowed for a far wider distribution of smaller, more independent games, allowing for unexpected gems to much more easily rise to greatness in a way big box stores just cannot support. So this trend, along with the negative reaction to the new Windows, gives Bioware, Steam, and Gabe Newell a very big soapbox to preach from for Linux.

Part 3 next week!

The New Advent of Linux Gaming – Part One

February 19th, 2013

Over the past decade, Linux-based operating systems have been gaining ground as the most prevalent choice for hosting in a datacenter. However, among consumers, Windows and Mac OS have continued to be the the primary chosen interface preferred to access their personal technology. As such, software and development enterprises, specifically for gaming, have been geared for the systems that garner the most users, and specifically towards the users willing to invest financially in not only the OS, but the games themselves.

Keeping up with software and hardware changes has been, and can be, an expensive investment over time, and the various computer software industries seems to have been of the general opinion that the investment required to develop their products to be Linux compatible (a purposefully free OS distribution) is not profitable. It is believed that the more commonly available operating systems are already used by their entire potential user base, so spending money on compatibility is a waste of resources. This has been particularly true for computer gaming, as the demand for increasingly dynamic and complex games, and more of them, has increased over time.

So what would a game company do when one of these globally accessible and accepted operating systems throws a curveball?

Well, when you’re Gabe Newell, you probably pitch a fit and try to encourage a paradigm shift with the release of Steam for Linux, now officially out of beta.

More next week! Check back for Part 2.