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Oct 27, 2011

DotA Guide: Balanar - The Night Stalker Introduction

DotA is the most popular custom made map for Warcraft III. To deliver players a better understanding of this complex and sometimes complicated game here is a hero guide.

Balanar is a strength hero that can be recruited at the Scourge Strength Tavern. Since 6.60, Icefrog started to buff this hero and make him a real killer during the night and a support hero during the day.

Let's take a second and learn more about the roots of this cool hero: "Beware, you who wonder the night. Each step you take leads you deeper in the hideous reign of the horrible ruler of the dark. Balanar, elite dreadlord who brought the total darkness of the Nether into this world, haunts these regions.

Your heart will pump harder, your legs will shake, and your mind will cloud as the presence of the stalker hunts you in the dark.

There's no chance to fight, no way to run, and no place to hide - darkness is everywhere! You can pray, you can cry, but the darkness won't be stopped - until you die."

Besides having some great stats, this hero is backed-up by an extraordinary set of skills.

Void (Shortkey V) - A great skill that you will mainly use for ganking and which hass a mini-stun stop town portals and channel spells. The spell deals 90/160/225/335 damage and it will slow the enemy hero for 4 seconds at night and 2 seconds at day time.

Crippling Fear (Shortkey F) - This is a must have skill if you're going to take your ganker and carry role serious. It's meant to be used at night when causes 40% miss and slows down by 4/8/12/16% while lasting 5/6/7/8 seonds. During the day it only lasts for 3 seonds while causing 10% miss.

Hunter in the Night (Shortkey G) - This is Night Stalker's signature skills, the one that everyone in the game fears. It's a passive skill that allows you to attack with 30/45/60/75% more fast and move 20/25/30/35% more swiftly.

Darkness (Shortkey R) - Because the night is such a good ally, Balanar's ultimate extends the night for 25/50/80 seconds. With the use of the Aghanim's Scepter, you'll be able to see the entire map!

Being a very adaptable hero, Balanar can take on the role a tanker, a ganker, a chaser or even as a carry. Depending on your team's requirements, you can fulfill any one of these roles, and without any difficulties.

There are lots of item combinations that can be used, this being such a versatile hero, but here are some I always like to keep in my inventory: Power Treats, Satanic, Aghanim's Scepter, Armlet of Mordiggian, Black King Bar.

If you have any other suggestions please let all the DotA fans know in a comment.

Official: Sony Buys Out Ericsson's Stake in Sony Ericsson

Speculations about the possible dissolve of the Sony Ericsson joint-venture have come and gone for years, but earlier this month sources close to the matter claimed that the move is imminent and scheduled for the end of the year.

Today, both companies announced they have come to an agreement to make the Sony Ericsson brand a thing of the past.

Ericsson and Sony Corporation has just announced that Sony will acquire Ericsson’s 50% stake in Sony Ericsson, which will wrest full control over the mobile phone business to Sony.

Furthermore, the reasons behind Sony's decision to take full control over the Sony Ericsson brand is the almost lack of interest from its Swedish counterpart, as well as the negative impact that its entire Xperia lineup had on the joint-venture's financial results.

In addition, Sony plans to integrate smartphones with its televisions, PCs, tablets and console gaming operations, in order to save costs and have a better development strategy.

Under agreement, Sony will pay Ericsson 1.05 billion EUR ($1.47 billion) for its 50% stake in Sony Ericsson.

“This acquisition makes sense for Sony and Ericsson, and it will make the difference for consumers, who want to connect with content wherever they are, whenever they want. With a vibrant smartphone business and by gaining access to important strategic IP, notably a broad cross-license agreement, our four-screen strategy is in place,” said Sir Howard Stringer, Sony’s Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President.

Following the transaction, Sony will also gain a broad intellectual property cross-licensing agreement previously owned by Sony Ericsson, including five essential patent families relating to wireless handset technology.

“We can more rapidly and more widely offer consumers smartphones, laptops, tablets and televisions that seamlessly connect with one another and open up new worlds of online entertainment. This includes Sony’s own acclaimed network services, like the PlayStation Network and Sony Entertainment Network,” concluded Stringer.

According to Sony, the transaction has been approved by both companies and is expected to close in January 2012.

Music and Entertainment on Nokia Lumia 800

Among the features that the new Nokia Lumia 800 will arrive on shelves with, we can count the entertainment options that Microsoft and Nokia packed with it. 

Windows Phone already came to devices with appealing multimedia capabilities, yet Nokia felt that they were not enough, and included some features of its own with the new handset.

Thus, those who will purchase the Nokia Lumia 800 will benefit from Nokia Music and Mix Radio, which will offer them access to millions of songs while on the go.

Those who would like to learn some more info on the new features should have a look at the video embedded above, which details the Music and Entertainment features of Nokia Lumia 800.

“With the best in mobile phone entertainment you get more than just click and play. You can create your own channels based on the artists you like, or let Mix Radio create a personalised experience based on the music you already have in your library,” Nokia explains.

AMD 28nm Radeon HD 7000 GPUs Entered Mass Production – Report

AMD is getting ready for the release of its next-generation Radeon HD 7000 graphics cards as reports suggest the company has already started mass production of these GPUs which are fabricated using TSMC advanced 28nm technology.

The official launch of these chips is expected to happen in the first quarter of 2012, according to DigiTimes, the same source that revealed the graphics cores have entered mass production.

If this report turns out to be true, then AMD won't be able to deliver on its promise of releasing the first Southern Islands parts by the end of this year.

The main problem faced by the Sunnyvale-based chip maker seems to be TSMC's inability to improve the yields of its 28nm fabrication process.

Furthermore, the foundry just started volume production of chips based on the 28nm node at the start of this week.

From the leaks that made it to the Web in the last couple of months, we know that AMD's upcoming Radeon HD 7000 graphics card series will be comprised of low- and mid-range solutions based on the VLIW4 architecture introduced with the Radeon HD 6900 GPU series as well as from high-end solutions in the HD 7900 range.

The latter series will use the Next Generation Core (NGC) architecture that we have covered in a series of previous articles. The key aspect of this architecture is that it will improve the performance and functionality of GPGPU computing.

The entry-level and mid-range Radeon HD 7000 GPUs will be known by the code name of Thames and Lombok, while the NCG HD 7900 series will use the Tahiti designation.

In addition to the new architecture, AMD has reveled a couple of weeks ago, that Tahiti GPUs will use a new cooling system that replaces the usual vapor chambers with a more advanced technology based on a liquid chamber design.

Nvidia Kepler GPUs to be Announced in December Says Report

Nvidia seems to be making great progress with its next-generation graphics cards based on the Kepler architecture as a recent report to make its appearance on the Web states that the chip maker is planning to announce these GPUs in December of this year.

The DigiTimes report doesn't explain what it understands when it says “announce,” but most probably this means that Nvidia will showcase such a GPU at an event or press conference.

Availability will most probably still remain scheduled for 2012, just as various Nvidia representatives, have said over the time.

Before Kepler arrives the GPU maker is expected to release a series of die shrinks of Fermi built using TSMC's 28nm fabrication process.

The first chips based on the Kepler architecture were taped out by Nvidia at the beginning of September.

Kepler is the code name used by Nvidia to refer to its next-generation graphics processing unit architecture, which, just like AMD's Southern Islands GPUs, will be manufactured using TSMC's 28nm fabrication process.

The new graphics core is expected to be more flexible in terms of programmability than the current Fermi architecture.

In the second half of 2010, Nvidia promised that Kepler, and its successor Maxwell, will include virtual memory space (allowing both the CPU and the GPU to use a unified virtual memory) and pre-emption support, as well as a series of other technologies meant to improve the GPU's ability to process data without the help of the system's processor.

According to previous Nvidia estimates, these changes, combined with the new manufacturing process, should deliver 3 to 4 times the performance per Watt of the Fermi architecture in double-precision 64-bit floating point operations.

In the consumer market, Kepler-based graphics cards will most likely carry the GeForce 600 designation.

Kingston Again Releases Flash Drives, DataTraveler 109

Kingston has exercised its ability to not be surprising at all by once again coming forth and launching a DataTraveler flash drive, or two of them in this case. 

Not that releasing a new device of this sort is a bad thing to do, but Kingston does tend to launch DataTraveler drives on a fairly regular basis, bordering on tradition at this point.

The two it now revealed are called DataTraveler 109 and have capacities of 8 GB and 16 GB.

In that order, they are selling at 7 Euro and 17 Euro, which more or less translate to $9.82 and 23.86 Euro, respectively.

“Kingston's DataTraveler 109 is a fashionable USB Flash drive that makes it fun to connect and share photos, music, videos and more with friends and family,” said Krystian Jaroszynski, product marketing manager Flash, Kingston Technology.

“Most USB Flash drives offer passive storage, which simply allows users to store and retrieve their data. urDrive offers engaged, active storage that allows users to easily access and organize files, view photos and even play music, all on the USB drive.”

Kingston made its DataTreveler 109 drives 39 x 12.35 x 4.55 mm in size (1.53 x 0.48 x 0.17 inches).

As anyone can easily tell, that is very compact indeed, especially for something that still manages to store 16 GB.

The one thing that is missing is support for SuperSpeed USB 3.0 transfer rates, though it isn't an overly great loss, since this isn't one of those 64 GB or bigger drives where it would take too long to copy things over USB 2.0.

Furthermore, the flash drives can be colored silver, blue, teal, black and pink, as well as orange and white, so as to appeal to as many tastes as possible.

Finally, Kingston pre-loaded the drives with the urDrive software combo, which we wrote about here (and even posted a video).

Gigabyte Outs Mini-ITX FM1 Motherboard for AMD Llano APUs

Gigabyte has quite an extensive range of FM1 motherboards available for users interested in building an AMD Llano-powered platform, but the Taiwanese company has recently added another such solution to its portfolio, the mini-ITX A75N-USB 3.0.

The motherboard is built on the same A75 Fusion controller hub (FCH) as it larger ATX or mATX brothers and it packs a complete set of features, including a PCI Express x16 expansion slots.

This is placed right near the board's left edge and should be able to come as a great alternative to the integrated graphics for those of you wanting to build a highly-portable gaming rig.

AMD's Hudson D3 chipset is located right above the CPU socket and Gigabyte's engineers have connected to it four SATA 6Gbps ports and four USB 3.0 interfaces, all four of them available in the back of the board.

A fifth SATA 6Gbps port has been routed to the back of the board to offer eSATA connectivity, where it's joined by a pair of USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port and 7.1-channel audio with S/PDIF out and 5.1 jacks.

The built-in AMD Llano graphics core can be used to drive one or more displays which can be connected to the Gigabyte board through the available DVI, or HDMI video outputs.

Other features include support for DDR3 memory running at frequencies up to 1866MHz, an Ultra Durable 3 design (which uses a 2oz copper PCB), Gigabyte's Dynamic Energy Saver technology, and support for up to 32 GB of system memory, meaning that its compatible with next-gen 16GB memory modules.

Power to the processor and DIMMs is provided by a 3+1 phase VRM with driver-MOSFETs, that should be able to provide enough power for any on AMD's Llano APUs.

Sadly, Gigabyte hasn't provided us with any information regarding pricing or availability.

Try Out the New Nokia City Scene for Nokia N9

Nokia N9, the first and only MeeGo-based smartphone from Nokia, comes to the market with a great design, and should be able to offer an appealing experience to its users courtesy of the various applications that developers have already built for it. 

Among them, we can also count software that comes from Nokia themselves, including the new Nokia City Scene, which was just made available from the Nokia Research Center.

With the new app, users will find it easy to explore the city through the small smartphone in their hands.

They can click on buildings to learn more on the stores and services available in them, and can also perform searches to find what they are looking for much easier that before.

“We combine Navteq drive imagery, 3D building models as well as terrain data, and used laser rangefinder data (LiDAR) to align everything,” Tuomas from the Nokia City Scene team notes in a recent blog post.

“The result is an N9 application that allows you to search and explore point of interest data from Nokia databases spiced up with check-in data from Foursquare and Facebook.”

Users can enjoy panoramic views of the places they are looking for, and will also be provided with panoramic street scenes. Buildings are clickable, and info can also be found directly on the building facade.

Basically, users will enjoy a 3D visual environment through the new Nokia City Scene for Nokia N9, which should feel more natural when compared to the conventional manner of displaying things on smartphones.

Moreover, the app comes with social networking capabilities: “Connect to your social networks to find friends' check-ins or share locations. Now featuring about a dozen US cities with coverage expanding both in the US and to Europe,” Nokia Beta Labs explains.

“The application lists your friends' Foursquare and Facebook check-ins so you can jump to where they've been. You can also share 'postcards' of locations complete with street address (maybe suggesting a place to meet for coffee later).”

At the moment, the app offers support only for a small number of cities in the U.S., but the number should grow in the near future. Some more info on the new mobile software is available in the video embedded below.

You can download the new Nokia City Scene for Nokia N9 via this link.

Porsche Design BlackBerry P’9981 Goes Official, Priced at $2000 (1425 EUR)

As we reported last week, Porsche Design and Research in Motion teamed up to release a co-branded product rumored to be a luxury adaptation of the Bold 9900.

It looks like the device has just been announced during their common launch event held at Burj Khaleefa, Dubai.

Dubbed BlackBerry P’9981, the luxury smartphone is built on Bold 9900's popularity, but using premium materials.

In this regard, the handset's front part is made of stainless steel (keypad included), while the back is completely covered with leather.

Porsche Design P’9981 runs a customized version of BlackBerry 7 operating system that includes an exclusive user interface, as well as special themes, ringtones and wallpapers.

Furthermore, the phone comes with a Porsche font and redesigned icons. According to Porsche Design the phone will have unique PINs starting with 2AA.

Although the phone is an adaptation of the Bold 9900, it comes with a downgraded 1 GHz single core processor, instead of the 1.2 GHz CPU.

On the back, the handset features a 5-megapixel camera with HD video recording capabilities. The smartphone also packs NFC technology, as well as 8GB of internal memory that can be expanded up to 40GB via microSD cards.

Porsche Design BlackBerry P’9981 will be available in Porsche Design Stores before the end of this year for about $2000 (1425 EUR).

Inno3D Prepares Custom GeForce GTX 570 Jericho Graphics Card

It's been quite some time since we last heard of Inno3D, but we just got word that the company is now preparing to launch a new graphics card based on the Nvidia GTX 570 design which was paired together with an in-house developed cooling solution.

The new graphics card will be known as the GTX 570 Jericho and it relies on a single 92mm fan and on a massive aluminum haetsink with five heatpieps in order to dissipate the heat produced when running.

This fan is PWM controlled and its speed can range from 1,000RPM to 4,200RPM depending on the temperatures recorded by the graphics core, and can also cope with the heat generated by an overclocked GTX 570.

According to Inno3D, noise also shouldn't be a problem as the Jericho cooler has an idle rating of just 18db, which makes it significantly quieter than Nvidia reference design.

No other information regarding the specifications of the GTX 570 Jericho was provided by Inno3D. This includes GPU and memory clock speeds, but judging by the redesigned cooler there's a strong chance that the graphics card will come factory overclocked.

As expected, pricing and availability are also unknown at this time.

Nvidia's GeForce GTX 570 is based on the company's GF110 GPU and it packs 480 stream processors, 60 texture units, 40 ROP units and a 320-bit wide memory bus that is connected to 1.25GB of GDDR5 video buffer.

The stock operating frequencies of the card are set at 732MHz for the GPU, while the memory works at 950MHz (3800MHz data rate).

According to a recent report, the GTX 570 will soon get a smaller brother, known as the GTX 560 Ti (448 Core) that will feature similar specs for a smaller price tag.

Fix Windows 7 SP1 ‘Error 633’ and Failed Dial-up Connections

Customers running Windows 7 RTM and Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) can have issues establishing a dial-up connection after they wake their computers from sleep or hibernation. 

Microsoft has officially confirmed the issue, and published KB 2618301, offering additional details to users impacted by this problem.

According to the software giant, in addition to Windows 7 RTM and SP1, Windows Server 2008 R2 RTM and SP1 are also affected.

Here is how Microsoft describes the symptoms encountered by customers:

“When you resume a computer that is running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 from sleep or from hibernation, you cannot establish a dial-up connection through a modem.

Additionally, you may receive the following error message: Error 633: The modem (or other connecting device) is already in use or is not configured properly.”

There’s a simple fix to take care of this issue, but it’s a temporary solution. Customers can restart their computers as a workaround. Alternatively, they can reset the modem they’re using before trying to establish the dial-up connection.

The Redmond company already identified the source of the problem, explaining that:

“This issue occurs because a flag is not reset after the device state is cleaned up when the computer is put to sleep or into hibernation. Therefore, the flag is in an inconsistent state when you resume the computer.

The flag is set when the computer is put to sleep or into hibernation. The flag indicates that the states of various internal structures for the modem device have to be cleaned up.”

An update designed to resolve the problem described in this article is already available from Microsoft.

Customers need to head over to the Microsoft Download Center and grab the refreshes offered by the software giant. I also included the download links below:
All supported x86-based versions of Windows 7
All supported x64-based versions of Windows 7
All supported x64-based versions of Windows Server 2008 R2
All supported IA-64-based versions of Windows Server 2008 R2

Asus Transformer Prime Kal-El Tablet Gets Pictured in Detail

Showcased for the first time at the AsiaD conference just a couple of days ago, the Transformer Prime tablet powered by Nvidia's Kal-El quad-core SoC has now starred in a new series of pictures that give us a better look at Asus' creation.

The images were posted on a Chinese website, which was removed by now, but fortunately Notebook Italia managed to save a copy before the page went offline.

This new set of pictures show us in greater detail the keyboard dock used for the Transformer Prime as well as its new look that reminds us of Asus' recently launched Zenbook laptops.

Just like in the case of Asus' Ultrabooks, the 10.1-inch Transformer Prime also features a slim profile (this time it measures just 8.3mm) and comes equipped with WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity and an SD card slot.

Initially, the Asus tablet will run the Android Honeycomb operating system, but an Ice Cream Sandwich update is expected to arrive until the end of the year.

Sadly, there's no info about pricing at this point in time, but more details should be revealed on November 9, when the tablet will be released.

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