Plus: Hero Forge, the web-based tool for creating and printing custom tabletop miniatures
By Jason Imms on January 17, 2014 at 9:08 am
Welcome to the Friday Tech Roundup! Contained herein is your weekly dose of some of the best tech news from across the Internet, rounded up for your edification and entertainment. Read on for all the details of Chrome 32′s new noisy tabs and Chrome OS-like Windows 8 experience, AMD’s Mantle API, and Winamp’s triumphant return.
AMD Catalyst 14.1 drivers rumoured to include Mantle API
Mantle is coming, and is rumoured to be landing in the 14.1 release of AMD’s Catalyst drivers later this month. AMD’s Mantle API is an intended rival for Direct3D and OpenGL, and is optimised to work with the Graphics Core Next GPU architecture found in all current AMD videocards, and in both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Traditionally, porting a game from one console platform to another required either a multiplication of effort due to the vastly different system architectures used in the console platforms, or the use of a high-level industry-standard programming interfaces at the cost of optimisation. This meant that console ports to PC rarely made full use of the available grunt, due to being designed to work on relatively underpowered consoles first. Mantle purportedly provides a 45% increase in performance over DirectX in Battlefield 4, and could spell a resurgence of AMD uptake in the PC gaming community if more multiplatform games are developed using the Mantle SDK.
Chrome 32 identifies noisy tabs, kind-of brings Chrome OS to Windows 8
Google has released Chrome 32 after a sizeable beta period, which is a major update to the popular browser, providing some fancy new features to users. The handiest new feature is three new tab icons that are used to identify tabs that are making noise, using the system’s webcam, or casting to a television – no more will autoplaying ads plague us, as the offending tabs can be identified at a glance and closed. Chrome 32 also includes a new Chrome OS-style Windows 8 mode. If users choose to launch Chrome in Windows 8 mode, instead of a less-functional version of Chrome, they will be presented with something akin to Chrome OS, complete with its own window manager and an integrated app launcher.
Llama’s ass doesn’t remain whipped for long – Winamp is back
Winamp and Shoutcast have been pulled back from the brink thanks to their acquisition by digital audio business, Radionomy. The media player and radio platform were purchased from AOL for $5-10 million according to TechCrunch’s “reliable source,” which also resulted in AOL taking on a 12% stake of Radionomy as part of the deal. The deal is interesting when weighed against AOL’s original acquisition cost for Nullsoft, owner of Winamp and Shoutcast, which clocked in at $80 million. Radionomy intends to offer Winamp as it is today, and ShoutCast will be added to Radionomy’s existing stable of radio streaming services.
The ChefJet 3D food printer prints complex candy and chocolate
Shown off at CES 2014, the ChefJet and ChefJet Pro 3D food printers are set to be the most advanced 3D food printers on the market when made available to consumers in the second half of 2014. The machines work by spreading a fine layer of sugar onto the print surface, and then painting a mixture of water and alcohol onto the sugar in a layer-wise manner, in order to selectively wet and harden the sugar substrate. The process is very similar to that used in common fused deposition modelling machines, but has been optimised to work with edible materials. The end result is some complex candies and chocolates that taste familiar, but look entirely alien. Check out the detailed interview with The Sugar Labs’ Kyle Von Hasseln from Will over at Tested.com below.
Hero Forge set to make custom tabletop miniatures a reality for all
3D printers have long been looked at as the future for customised tabletop miniatures, however the resolution of currently available consumer-grade printers simply isn’t up to the task of producing detailed miniatures at the tabletop scale. Hero Forge is a Kickstarter project that hopes to provide the ability for users to customise their miniatures using a simple browser-based tool to select from a range of individual components, and then have the results printed using the amazing printers over at Shapeways. These Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) printers are capable of printing fully articulate and interlocking pieces, which allows for moving parts like swinging chains and working cogs. Hero Forge is looking to raise USD$95,000, with less than USD$15,000 and 33 days to go at the time of writing.