Visit The International Space Station With 'Mission:ISS', Free On The Oculus Store

Have you ever wanted to visit the International Space Station? Many people dream of going to space; few ever get the opportunity to fulfill that dream—until now. Although you may never experience the sensation of zero gravity, virtual reality makes it possible for everyone to visit the ISS, as of today.

Mission:ISS is a new interactive VR education experience for the Oculus Rift that uses Touch controllers and takes you to a “true-to-life simulation” of the International Space Station. Mission:ISS puts you in the shoes (and spacesuit) of an astronaut on the ISS and puts you to work doing things like receiving cargo capsules at the cargo dock. You also get to go on a space walk where you can see Earth in all its glory below you.

Mission:ISS was developed by Magnopus and published by Oculus. But it was actual space agencies that made the vision for Mission:ISS possible. Magnopus wanted to make Mission:ISS into an educational experience that schools could use to teach students about space and the history of the ISS. Oculus and Magnopus worked with NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency to recreate the ISS “in painstaking detail.” They also worked with real astronauts to ensure that the experience is authentic as possible. 

Oculus is pushing the idea of education via Mission:ISS further than ensuring the content is historically, scientifically, and visually accurate. The company is running a limited-time beta program that will facilitate access to Mission:ISS for high school kids in the U.S. You don’t need to be in high school to get access to the experience, though; Mission:ISS is available for free to anyone who owns an Oculus Rift with Touch controllers.

Even so, the 500-or-so people that have physically been to the ISS still have a leg up on us “landlubbers.” Oculus is shipping a Rift to outer space so the astronauts can experiment with “the effects of zero-gravity on human spatial awareness and balance.” That sounds like a fancy line item to justify sending a gaming PC to the folks who volunteer to isolate themselves in a tin can for months on end if you ask me.

Mission:ISS

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Ubisoft Celebrates 'The Division' One-Year Anniversary With Credits, XP Boost

Ubisoft announced that it will celebrate the one-year anniversary of Tom Clancy’s The Division from March 9-16. The company also shared a few details about the two expansions it has planned for the shooter’s second year, both of which will be free to download when they debut some time in 2017.

First, the celebration: From March 9-11, you’ll receive a 2x multiplier on high-value target rewards. On March 11, you’ll see a 2x multiplier on field proficiency caches, and from March 9-16 you’ll get 200 premium credits and a “premium celebration emote” as long as you’re still active in the game. Those premium credits, which are normally purchased with real dollars, will allow you to buy different “cosmetic and expression items” within the game.

Ubisoft’s plans for The Division go beyond this week-long extravaganza. The company also said in its blog post that it has two expansions planned:

The first unnamed expansion will be based on an event system that drives players to activities that feature modifiers, leaderboards, and unique vanity items that will only be available through these activities. In addition, [Massive Entertainment creative director Julian Gerighty] says the team has plans to include a loadout feature that will let players switch efficiently and quickly between their favorite gear combinations, as well as a system to mark a player’s feats.

Gerighty also noted that it will “reward players for different activities–long-term activities, short-term activities, and medium-term activities within the the game.”

Gerighty was less forthcoming about the second expansion. He did say that Massive Entertainment is “not going to be doing the classic main mission type of thing” and will instead focus on its efforts on reigniting the audience’s “engagement with the content.” Neither expansion has a firm release date. Given that Ubisoft and Gerighty call this “Year 2” of The Division, however, chances are good that both will be released some time later this year.

Ubisoft previously revealed an expansion called “Last Stand” that will bring a domination-style PvP element to the game’s Dark Zone. When the expansion debuts, you’ll be able to face off against other players on eight-member teams to duke it out for control over three different areas of the map. Not that we know when that will be, as the company didn’t share a planned release date for Last Stand back when it was announced in January.

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Biostar Goes Micro-ATX For Ryzen With Racing B350ET2 Motherboard

Biostar expanded its lineup of AMD Ryzen-compatible motherboards with the Racing B350ET2. The company said that this board and the Racing B350GT3 it announced in February are the first AMD AM4 B350 motherboards in the micro-ATX form factor. (Its other AM4 motherboards are all standard ATX.)

The B350ET2 is the low-end complement to the RGB lighting-capable B350GT3. It has fewer storage connectors and memory slots than its slightly more expensive sibling, and unlike the B350GT3 and its bundled Vivid LED fan, the B350ET2 doesn’t come with any other hardware. If you live in Asia, however, both motherboards come bundled with some “premium gifts” for the popular World of Tanks free-to-play online action game.

Here’s what Biostar said about the B350ET2 in its announcement:

BIOSTAR RACING B350ET2 sets itself apart from the competition by introducing 1.5V USB charger functionality and SATA POWER characteristics, perfect for iCafe owners who want to feature LED-equipped gaming headphones from the USB.

The new BIOSTAR RACING Series motherboards for AMD AM4 sockets support the latest AMD RYZEN 7 8-core processors and feature support for DDR4-2667 memory via the B350 chipset which offers plenty of connectivity for upgraders. BIOSTAR uses 100% solid capacitors on both motherboards for guaranteed durability and Hi-Fi audio for a great entertainment and listening experience.

Biostar didn’t announce a release date for the B350ET2 or the B350GT3, but it did say that their MSRPs are $79 and $109, respectively. You can learn more about Biostar’s other AM4 motherboards and other Ryzen-ready boards from Asrock, Gigabyte, MSI, and Asus, as well. And, if you want to shop around for an AM4 B350 board, you can check out our price list

Model Racing B350ET2 Racing B350GT3
Chipset AMD B350 AMD B350
Form Factor Micro-ATX Micro-ATX
CPU Support AMD A-series APU / RYZEN CPU / NPU for Socket AM4Maximum CPU TDP (Thermal Design Power) : 95Watt AMD A-series APU / RYZEN CPU / NPU for Socket AM4

Maximum CPU TDP (Thermal Design Power) : 95Watt
Memory Support Dual Channel DDR4 2,667 / 2,400 / 2,133 / 1,866MHz

2 x DDR4 DIMM Memory Slot

Max. Supports up to 32GB Memory

Dual Channel DDR4 2,667 / 2,400 / 2,133 / 1,866MHz

4 x DDR4 DIMM Memory Slot

Max. Supports up to 64GB Memory

Expansion Slot 1 x PCI-E x16 3.0 Slot(x16 for RYZEN CPU only, NPU/APU run at x8 speed)
2 x PCI-E x1 3.0 Slot
1 x PCI-E x16 3.0 Slot (x16 for RYZEN CPU only, NPU/APU run at x8 speed)

1 x PCI-E x16 2.0 Slot(x4)(share bandwidth w/ PCI-E x1 slot, when PCI-E x1 is occupied, PCI-E x16(x4) will run at x1 speed)

2 x PCI-E x1 2.0 Slot

Storage 4 x SATA3 Connector
Support SATA RAID: 0,1,10
4 x SATA3 Connector 
Support SATA RAID: 0,1,10
1 x M.2 Key M 32Gb/s Connector, support M.2 type 2242/ 2260/ 2280 SATA 6Gb/s & PCI-E Storage

* M.2 (32Gbps) : The bandwidth is depended on CPU, RYZEN is 32Gbps ; APU & NPU is 16Gbps.

USB 4 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Port

1 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Header

2 x USB 2.0 Port

2 x USB 2.0 Port(only 5V power, up to 1.5A)

2 x USB 2.0 Header

2 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Port

4 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Port

1 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Header

2 x USB 2.0 Header

LAN Realtek RTL8118AS – 10 /100 / 1,000 Controller

Support Super LAN Surge Protection

Realtek RTL8111H – 10 / 100 / 1.000 Controller

Support Super LAN Surge Protection

Integrated Video By CPU model

Supports DX12

Supports HDCP

By CPU model

Supports DX12

Supports HDCP

Audio Codec Realtek ALC887 8-Channel HD Audio

Support BIOSTAR Hi-Fi

Realtek ALC887 8-Channel HD Audio

Support BIOSTAR Hi-Fi

Release Date TBD TBD
MSRP $79 $109

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'Quake Champions' Trailers Show Off Blood Covenant Arena, Champion

Bethesda doesn’t want anyone to forget about Quake Champions. The company announced earlier this week that you can sign up for a closed beta of the upcoming FPS, and in the few days since, it’s published two new trailers showing off the Blood Covenant arena and a Champion named Nyx.

The Blood Covenant Arena trailer demonstrates what Bethesda described in a press release as a “modern re-imagining of the legendary” Camping Grounds (Q3DM6) arena from Quake III Arena. “All the favorite sections remain, including the long Jump Pad to the Rocket Launcher, the Quad Damage spawn, the Railgun ledge, and the tightly spaced battles in the Pillars,” Bethesda said. But the arena will also change things up a bit to keep you on your toes.

Quake Champions – Blood Covenant Arena Trailer

That trailer was published a day after Bethesda shared a look at Nyx, a Champion who can jump off walls and teleport around the arena. “If sly and stealthy is more your thing,” Bethesda said in the trailer’s description, “you might find yourself gravitating toward Nyx, whose active ability lets her sidestep danger and plan a careful attack.” Nyx seems to be all about slinking through the shadows and evading harm while angling for the perfect shot.

Quake Champions: Nyx Champion Trailer

Nyx was first revealed when Quake Champions was announced at E3 2016. The fast-paced shooter is being developed by iD Software and Saber Interactive, and we got our first taste of what it will play like at Quakecon in August 2016. We’ve already seen five of these Champions; 12 will be available to you if you participate in the game’s closed beta. Bethesda is sure to reveal more about the game’s arenas and Champions in the meantime.

If you don’t want to wait for the beta, you can play Quake Champions at Bethesda’s booth (#18007 and #20007) at PAX East in Boston this weekend.The game’s release date has not been revealed.

Name Quake Champions
Type First-person shooter
Developer id Software
Publisher Bethesda Softworks
Platforms PC
Where To Buy N/A
Release Date TBD

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How to update your PC's BIOS

A tiny BIOS chip lurks inside every computer, sitting on your motherboard to breathe life into your system when you press the power button. BIOS stands for basic input and output system, and the BIOS chip initializes all the other devices in your PC, like the CPU, GPU, and motherboard chipset.

A few years ago, motherboard manufacturers—in partnership with Microsoft and Intel—introduced a replacement for traditional BIOS chips dubbed UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface). Almost every motherboard shipping today has a UEFI chip rather than a BIOS chip, but they both share the same core purpose: preparing the system to boot into the operating system. That said, most people still call the UEFI the “BIOS” because of the familiarity of the term.

Why you should (or shouldn’t) upgrade your BIOS

Understanding your UEFI is important so you can understand how (and if) to take advantage of the feature updates and bug fixes that come with the BIOS updates offered by motherboard manufacturers.

amd ryzen 1800x build 7 Brad Chacos

New chip and motherboard platforms often receive numerous BIOS revisions early in their lifecycle, to work out bugs.

Your motherboard likely uses whatever firmware revision that the motherboard manufacturer was on back when it was built. Over the lifespan of a motherboard, manufacturers release new firmware packages or BIOS updates that will enable support for new processors and memory, or solve commonly reported bugs. The only real reason to update to a newer firmware revision, however, is to solve a bug in your UEFI or to swap in a CPU that’s newer than your motherboard.

Some people like to regularly check for and update their UEFI firmware packages just to stay up to date. This is a risky practice, given that the firmware updating process can potentially brick your motherboard in the same way that flashing a custom ROM on to Android phone can brick the device. It’s best not to update your UEFI firmware unless there is something specific that the updated firmware offers that you need.

That said, you probably want to stay on top of BIOS updates if you’re on a chip or motherboard platform that’s fresh out of the gates. Several motherboard BIOS updates were released over the first week that AMD’s disruptive new Ryzen chips were in reviewers’ hands, and each provided additional performance and system stability. Expect for those to continue as AMD works the bugs out of Ryzen.

update bios system info Brad Chacos

Before you upgrade your BIOS, make sure you’re actually installing a new version. The easiest way to find your BIOS version is to open up the System Information app by typing msinfo into the Windows search bar. In the window that opens your BIOS version should show up on the right, under your processor speed. Record your version number and date, then compare it to the latest version available on your motherboard’s support page on the manufacturer’s website.

How to upgrade your PC BIOS

When you boot up your PC, you’ll see text that informs you which button to press to enter the UEFI BIOS. Press it! (The exact button needed, and the design of every motherboard’s actual UEFI control panel differs, so these instructions will be more guideposts than step-by-step instructions.)

Nvidia’s Latest Game Ready Driver Adds Support For 1080 Ti, Wildlands Features, DX12 Enhancements

Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is available March 10, and if you’re planning to pick up one of the mighty beasts, you’re going to need version 378.78 of Nvidia’s GeForce Game Ready driver. The latest driver is the first public release with support for the company’s top gaming GPU, DX12 performance enhancements, and further game support for Nvidia’s advanced graphics technologies.

Even if you aren’t picking up one of Nvidia’s $700 graphics cards, you could probably stand to benefit from an upgrade to 378.78. Nvidia spent considerable effort refining Direct X 12 on GeForce GPUs. The company worked with game developers to improve performance in a handful of popular DX12-enabled games.

Nvidia’s marketing team will tell you the new driver improved performance in DX12 “by an average of 16% across five titles,” but take that claim with a grain of salt. The performance increase varies widely between games, and Nvidia’s statement is based on 4K performance, as the fine print on Nvidia’s table points out.

Rise of the Tomb Raider enjoys a dramatic 33% FPS increase when playing the game at 4K on max settings. But you likely wouldn’t play the game on those settings, because even though the performance went from 20FPS to 27FPS while running a GTX 1080, that’s still a low FPS for a PC game. And The Division’s 4% performance increase is negligible, as it went from 31.5FPS to 32.7FPS, which would be utterly imperceptible.

Nvidia said that the new driver improves Vulkan performance on GeForce GPUs, but it didn’t give any specific performance metrics to back that statement.

A GeForce Game Ready driver wouldn’t be a “game ready” driver if it didn’t include support for a new release title. GeForce Game Ready driver 378.78 includes support for Ubisoft’s new open-world shooter, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands. The latest entry in the Ghost Recon franchise leverages a variety of Nvidia’s GameWorks proprietary graphics technologies, such as Enhance Volumetric Lighting, HBAO+ Ambient Occlusion, and Nvidia Turf Effects.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands is also the latest title to receive support for Nvidia’s in-game photography system, Nvidia Ansel, which lets you snap high-resolution screenshots of the game’s scenery from any perspective.

Nvidia’s GeForce Game Ready driver 378.78 is available now. If you have GeForce Experience installed, the driver update should be ready for you. If you don’t use GeForce Experience, the driver is available from Nvidia’s website.

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1Password Raises ‘Capture The Flag’ Bug Bounty To $100,000

1Password Demo Vault1Password Demo VaultAgileBits, the company behind one of the most popular password managers, 1Password, announced that it increased its maximum bug bounty from $25,000 to $100,000. This big reward is part of a “Capture the Flag” type competition, where researchers have to obtain a plaintext file of “bad poetry” from 1Password’s password vault.

BugCrowd

BugCrowd is a crowdsourced bug bounty platform that allows companies to easily set-up programs to reward security researchers for their findings. This makes it easier for researchers to get paid for their work, and it also encourages them to further explore the security of various software tools. Companies such as Western Union, Pinterest, Heroku, Tesla, and Fiat Chrysler all use the BugCrowd platform.

1Password’s Capture The Flag

Some organizations create “Capture the Flag” challenges on BugCrowd to incentivize researchers to focus on specific areas. Normally, researchers are rewarded smaller amounts of money for random bugs they may find in vendors’ products. However, when the companies create a Capture the Flag challenge, they are better prepared and the challenge is more specific, which makes it more difficult for the researchers to break in. This is why the companies also tend to offer bigger rewards to the winners.

AgileBits had previously set up a $25,000 bug bounty for a Capture the Flag challenge in which researchers had to obtain a “bad poetry” flag from the encrypted password vault. Now the company has raised the reward to $100,000, which is four times as much as before, and is also the highest existing reward on the BugCrowd platform.

“Security is at the heart of what we do,” said Jeff Shiner of AgileBits.

“We owe it to our customers to do everything in our power to keep them and their information secure. This means using the ingenuity of real people to help us continually improve the security of 1Password. It was important for us to demonstrate how seriously we take this contribution and have increased the prize to prove it,” he noted.

Recently, a researcher found multiple vulnerabilities in a number of password managers, including 1Password. However, according to an update on March 1, all vendors have already fixed the bugs, which should include 1Password as well.

AgileBits also said that with recent events such as Cloudbleed, it’s becoming more and more important for companies to put more emphasis on security. Having a good bug bounty program can be one of the ways to do that, because they can help companies stay one step ahead of the attackers.

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