Nerval's Lobster writes "One could argue that the University of Illinois' "Blue Waters" supercomputer, scheduled to officially open for business March 28, is lucky to be alive. The 11.6 petaflop supercomputer, commissioned by the University and the National Science Foundation (NSF), will rank in the upper echelon of the world's fastest machines—its compute power would place it third on the current list, just above Japan's K Computer. However, the system will not be submitted to the TOP500 list because of concerns with the way the list is calculated, officials said. University officials and the NSF are lucky to have a machine at all. That's due in part to IBM, which reportedly backed out of the contract when the company determined that it couldn't make a profit. The university then turned to Cray, which would have had to replace what was presumably a POWER or Xeon installation with the current mix of AMD CPUs and Nvidia GPU coprocessors. Allen Blatecky, director of NSF's Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure, told Fox that pulling the plug was a 'real possibility.' And Cray itself had to work to find the parts necessary for the supercomputer to begin at least trial operations in the fall of 2012."
First time accepted submitter bobthesungeek76036 writes "On March 26th, Larry Ellison and always with fashionable haircut John Fowler announced the new line of SPARC servers from Oracle. Touted as the fastest microprocessor in the world, they put up some impressive SPEC numbers against much more expensive (and older) IBM hardware. Is the industry still interested in SPARC or is it too late for Larry to regain the server market that Sun Microsystems had many moons ago?" El Reg has a pretty good overview of the new hardware; the T5 certainly looks interesting for highly threaded work loads (there's some massive SMT going on with 16 threads per core), but with Intel dominating for single-threaded performance and ARM-based servers becoming available squeezing them for massive multi-threading, is there really any hope in Oracle's efforts to stay in the hardware game?
Lucas123 writes "It may be a movie about a stone age family, but DreamWorks said its latest 3D animated movie The Croods took more compute cycles to create than any other movie they've made. The movie required a whopping 80 million compute hours to render, 15 million more hours than DreamWorks' last record holder, The Rise of the Guardians. The production studio said between 300 and 400 animators worked on The Croods over the past three years. The images they created, from raw sketches to stereoscopic high-definition shots, required about 250TB of data storage capacity. When the movie industry moved from producing 2D to 3D high-definition movies over the past decade, the data required to produce the films increased tremendously. For DreamWorks, the amount of data needed to create a stereoscopic film leaped by 30%."
sl4shd0rk writes "Hispalinux, which represents Spanish Open Source developers and users, has filed a complaint against Microsoft with the European Commission. 14 pages of grief cited Windows 8 as an 'obstruction mechanism' calling UEFI Secure Boot a 'de facto technological jail for computer booting systems... making Microsoft's Windows platform less neutral than ever.' On March 6 of 2012 the Commission fined Microsoft 561 million Euros for failing to offer users a choice of web browser, and there was also a 2004 ruling which found the company had abused its market position by tying Windows Media Player to Windows itself. Relations appear to remain more tense towards Windows in Europe, so there may be some hope of making UEFI more Linux-friendly. UEFI has been implicated in the death of Samsung laptops running Linux."
theodp writes "GeekWire reports on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' pending patent on remote displays that communicate with base stations and operate on wireless power. Reducing devices to mere screens with minimal storage that receive pre-rendered content (e.g., bitmap images), the patent application explains, eliminates the need for bulky batteries or processors, and employing techniques like electromagnetic or electrostatic induction allows one to cut the cord completely. Such remote displays, Amazon suggests, could find a home on college campuses (tablets), in your car (windshield displays or DVD players), and even on your face (eyeglasses)." There's already a (not wirelessly powered) device similar to the one described in the patent.
garymortimer writes "As a harbinger for the Paramount film 'Star Trek — Into Darkness', starting in May in Europe's cinemas, last night a swarm of 30 mini-helicopters equipped with the LED lights drew the Star Trek logo into the skies over London. The choreography for the show was developed by Ars Electronica Futurelab from Linz (Austria). Quadrocopter maker Ascending Technologies GmbH from Munich (Germany) provided the aircrafts."
derekmead writes "3D-printing gun parts has taken off, thanks to the likes of Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed. While the technology adds a rather interesting wrinkle to the gun control debate, the ATF currently is pretty hands-off, ... 'We are aware of all the 3D printing of firearms and have been tracking it for quite a while,' Earl Woodham, spokesperson for the ATF field office in Charlotte, said. 'Our firearms technology people have looked at it, and we have not yet seen a consistently reliable firearm made with 3D printing.' A reporter called the ATF's Washington headquarters to get a better idea of what it took to make a gun 'consistently reliable,' and program manager George Semonick said the guns should be 'made to last years or generations.' In other words, because 3D-printed guns aren't yet as durable as their metal counterparts, the ATF doesn't yet consider them as much of a concern."
gramophone records (the black vinyl discs in Grandma's attic) were made by cutting grooves directly into an acetate disc, then making a mold from that "master" and "pressing records." Nowadays, of course, we use digital recording software on our computers or even on our mobile phones. Vinyl? Strictly for fogies and maybe a few audiophiles who think analog recordings have a depth and warmth that CDs and MP3s lack. Naturally, SXSW is a haven for these folks, and among them Tim Lord found Wesley Wolfe and two German compatriots from vinylrecording.com, busily demonstrating their vinyl recording system, which is sort of the gramophone record equivalent of print on demand. Lots of background music in the video makes the voices a bit hard to hear; some might prefer the transcription -- although those who do will lose out on watching the vinyl recording machine in action. Either way. Or both. Up to you.
Nerval's Lobster writes "French oil conglomerate Total has inaugurated the world's ninth-most-powerful supercomputer, Panega. Its purpose: seek out new reservoirs of oil and gas. The supercomputer's total output is 2.3 petaflops, which should place it about ninth on today's TOP500 list, last updated in November. The announcement came as Dell and others prepare to inaugurate a new supercomputer, Stampede, in Texas on March 27. What's noteworthy about Pangea, however, is that it will be the most powerful supercomputer owned and used by private industry; the vast majority of such systems are in use by government agencies and academic institutions. Right now, the most powerful private supercomputer for commercial use is the Hermit supercomputer in Stuttgart; ranked 27th in the world, the 831.4 Tflop machine is a public-private partnership between the University of Stuttgart and hww GmbH. Panega, which will cost 60 million Euro ($77.8 million) over four years, will assist decision-making in the exploration of complex geological areas and to increase the efficiency of hydrocarbon production in compliance with the safety standards and with respect for the environment, Total said. Pangea will be will be stored at Total's research center in the southwestern French city of Pau."
An anonymous reader writes "Archos have finally released their much anticipated touchscreen gamepad in the USA. The console boasts a Arm Cortex Dual-core A9 1.6GHz cpu, 1024MB Ram, 8GB internal storage and uses the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS. The Gamepad has 14 physical buttons and dual analog thumb-sticks as well as a touchscreen which means the latest 3D Android games should work great and for fans of emulation the traditional gamepad design and buttons will make N64/PS1 emulators work great on the gamepad." CNET UK was unimpressed, calling it "a bitter disappointment"; IGN was more optimistic, especially at its sub-$200 price.
hypnosec writes "UEFI guru Matthew Garrett, who cleared the Linux kernel in Samsung laptop bricking issues, has come to rescue beleaguered users by offering a survival guide enabling them to avoid similar issues. According to Garrett, storage space constraints in UEFI storage variables is the reason Samsung laptops end up bricking themselves. Garrett said that if the storage space utilized by the UEFI firmware is more than 50 percent full, the laptop will refuse to start and ends up being bricked. To prevent this from happening, he has provided a Kernel patch."
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Gosia Wonzniacka reports that farmers in Fresno County, California, supported by university experts and a $5 million state grant, are set to start construction of the nation's first commercial-scale bio-refinery to turn beets into biofuel with farmers saying the so-called 'energy beets' can deliver ethanol yields more than twice those of corn per acre because beets have a higher sugar content per ton than corn. 'We're trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to shift our transportation fuels to a lower carbon content,' says Robert Weisenmiller. 'The beets have the potential to provide that.' Europe already has more than a dozen such plants, so the bio-refinery would resurrect a crop that has nearly vanished. The birthplace of the sugar beet industry, California once grew over 330,000 acres of the gnarly root vegetable (PDF), with 11 sugar mills processing the beets but as sugar prices collapsed, the mills shut down. So what's the difference between sugar beets and energy beets? To produce table sugar, producers are looking for sucrose, sucrose and more sucrose. Energy beets, on the other hand, contain multiple sugars, meaning sucrose as well as glucose, fructose and other minor sugars, called invert sugars. To create energy beet hybrids, plant breeders select for traits such as high sugar yield, not just sucrose production. America's first commercial energy beet bio-refinery will be capable of producing 40 million gallons of ethanol annually but the bio-refinery will also bring jobs and investment, putting about 80 beet growers and 35,000 acres back into production."
New submitter FuzzNugget writes "A recent catastrophic hard drive failure has caused me to ponder whether the trade-off between security and convenience with software-based OTFE is worthwhile. My setup involves an encrypted Windows installation with TrueCrypt's pre-boot authentication, in addition to having data stored in a number of TrueCrypt file containers. While it is nice to have some amount of confidence that my data is safe from prying eyes in the case of loss or theft of my laptop, this setup poses a number of significant inconveniences." Read on below; FuzzNugget lists some problems with this set-up, and seeks advice on a simpler system for backing up while keeping things locked down.
An anonymous reader writes "You see those stories popping up every now and then — new Dreamcast game released, first SNES game in 15 years etc — but an in-depth feature published today takes a look at the teams behind the retro revival, and looks at why they do what they do. Surprisingly, there seems to be a viable audience for new releases — one developer says his games sell better on Dreamcast than they do on Nintendo Wii. Even if the buyers vanished, the retro games would still keep coming though: 'I wager I'd have to be dead, or suffering from a severe case of amnesia, to ever give this up completely,' says one developer." Update: 03/23 18:28 GMT by T : If you want to play original classic games on new hardware, instead of the other way around, check out Hyperkin's RetroN 3, which can play cartridges from 5 classic consoles.
Nerval's Lobster writes "IBM announced this week that it has developed a way to manufacture both logic and memory that relies on a small drop of 'ionic liquid' to flip oxides back and forth between an insulating and conductive state without the need to constantly draw power. In theory, that means both memory and logic built using those techniques could dramatically save power. IBM described the advance in the journal Science, and also published a summary of its results to its Website. The central idea is to eliminate as much power as possible as it moves through a semiconductor. IBM's solution is to use a bit of 'ionic liquid' to flip the state. IBM researchers applied a positively charged ionic liquid electrolyte to an insulating oxide material — vanadium dioxide — and successfully converted the material to a metallic state. The material held its metallic state until a negatively charged ionic liquid electrolyte was applied in order to convert it back to its original, insulating state. A loose analogy would be to compare IBM's technology to the sort of electronic ink used in the black-and-white versions of the Kindle and other e-readers. There, an electrical charge can be applied to the tiny microcapsules that contain the 'ink,' hiding or displaying them to render a page of text. Like IBM's solution, the e-ink doesn't require a constant charge; power only needs to be applied to re-render or 'flip' the page. In any event, IBM's technique could conceivably be applied to both mobile devices as well as power-hungry data centers."
Nate the greatest writes "Bloomberg is reporting early this morning that Liquavista, Samsung's cutting edge electrowetting screen tech research firm, is up for sale. Details are still thin but Bloomberg's unnamed source indicates Amazon is looking to buy Liquavista for somewhere under $100 million. This rumor confirms earlier reports that Amazon had launched a new holding company in the Netherlands and was going to use it to buy Liquavista. There have also been rumors circulating screen tech conferences for the past 5 or 6 months that Samsung was interested in selling the company. No one in the industry really understands why Samsung would want to do that, but I think the latest demo video from Liquavista explains it. This screen tech simply isn't as good as current LCD or OLED screens, and Samsung might be looking to cut their losses."
New submitter rwise2112 writes "German engineering company Bosch said Friday that it is abandoning its solar energy business, because there is no way to make it economically viable.'We have considered the latest technological advances, cost-reduction potential and strategic alignment, and there have also been talks with potential partners,' Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner said. 'However, none of these possibilities resulted in a solution for the solar energy division that would be economically viable over the long term.'"
girlmad writes "Intel's Pentium processor was launched 20 years ago today, a move that led to the firm becoming the dominant supplier of computer chips across the globe. This article has some original iComp benchmark scores, rating the 66MHz Pentium at a heady 565, compared with 297 for the 66MHz 486DX2, which was the fastest chip available prior to the Pentium launch."
judgecorp writes "With Samsung and (reportedly) Apple already making smartwatches, Google has now joined the party, according to a (paywalled) report in the Financial Times. The Google Watch is apparently being made by the Android group, and could have some synergy with Google's other wearable tech — the Glass spectacles. The distinctive thing in Google's patent seems to be having two displays — one for public data and a flip-up one for more private stuff."
skade88 writes "Apple now owns and runs enough renewable energy power plants that 75% of their world wide power needs come from renewable sources such as wind, solar, geothermal and hydro. From the Apple Blog Post: 'Our investments are paying off. We've already achieved 100 percent renewable energy at all of our data centers, at our facilities in Austin, Elk Grove, Cork, and Munich, and at our Infinite Loop campus in Cupertino. And for all of Apple's corporate facilities worldwide, we're at 75 percent, and we expect that number to grow as the amount of renewable energy available to us increases. We won't stop working until we achieve 100 percent throughout Apple.'"
judgecorp writes "The first Raspberry Pi Awards have picked the best projects built by schoolchildren using the Raspberry Pi. The winners included a team of 8 to 11 year olds, who built a door-answering machine for elderly or disabled people, and a team of 12 to 16 year olds, who made an automated pill dispenser for forgetful patients. Other categories included adults, who built a wireless home power consumption system."
interval1066 writes "I've generally made it a practice to blow the dust out of my devices 1) when I remember to do so 2) after about 3 or so years of use 3) when I can get inside the case. My monitor is very thin and difficult to open. When I did finally crack it open I didn't really notice a whole lot of dust, but I blew the thing out anyway and put it back together, and it's doing ok, as far as I can tell. I'd be interested in knowing other Slashdotters' experiences with maintaining their devices in this way and where possible. And I actually extending the life of my devices, or am I just wasting my time?"
sciencehabit writes "If you've pondered whether to sink a cool couple of grand into a fancy new three-dimensional TV but didn't want to mess around with those dorky glasses, you may want to sit tight for a few more years. Researchers at Hewlett Packard Laboratories in Palo Alto, California, report that they've come up with a new 3D technology that not only doesn't require viewers to wear special glasses, but it also can be viewed from a wide variety of angles. The advance could propel the development of mobile 3D devices as well as TVs."
necro81 writes "The cooling system at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, responsible for keeping the spent fuel pools at an appropriate temperature, lost power early on March 18th. During the blackout, the temperature in the spent fuel pools gradually increased, although TEPCO officials indicated the pools could warm for four days without risking radiation release. Power was restored earlier this morning, and the pools should be back to normal temperature in a few days. During the repairs, the charred remains of a rat were found in a critical area of wiring, leading some to believe that this rodent was the cause of this latest problem. At least it wasn't a mynock — then we'd really be in trouble."
judgecorp writes "The first Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, worth £1 million, has been shared by five founders of the Internet and the World Wide Web. In addition to Sir Tim Berners Lee and Vint Cerf, the other recipients are Cerf's colleague Bob Kahn, creator of the Mosaic browser Marc Andreessen, and a much less well known Frenchman, Louis Pouzin, aged 82. Working at Bell Labs, Pouzin invented the datagram protocols on which Cerf and Kahn based the TCP/IP protocols. The judges originally planned the prize for a maximum of three winners, but that had to change, thanks to the collaborative nature of the Internet. All the recipients praised their colleagues and pointed out that engineering is always a team effort: 'Fortunately we are still alive,' joked Pouzin. 'It is forty years since we did the things for which we are being honoured.' Awarded in the U.K., the prize is an international effort to create an engineering counterpart to the Nobels. The judges considered entries from 65 countries."
MojoKid writes "NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang kicked off this year's GPU Technology Conference with his customary opening keynote. The focus of Jen-Hsun's presentation was on unveiling a new GPU core code named 'Volta' that will employ stacked DRAM for over 1TB/s of memory bandwidth, as well as updates to NVIDIA's Tegra roadmap and a new remote rendering appliance called 'GRID VCA.' On the mobile side, Tegra's next generation 'Logan' architecture will feature a Kepler-based GPU and support CUDA 5 and OpenGL 4.3. Logan will offer up to 3X the compute performance of current solutions and be demoed later this year, with full production starting early next year. For big iron, NVIDIA's GRID VCA (Visual Computing Appliance) is a new 4U system based on NVIDIA GRID remote rendering technologies. The GRID hypervisor supports 16 virtual machines (1 per GPU) and each system will feature 8-Core Xeon CPUs, 192GB or 384GB of RAM, and 4 or 8 GRID boards, each with two Kepler-class GPUs, for up to 16 GPUs per system. Jen-Hsun demo'd a MacBook Pro remotely running a number of applications on GRID, like 3D StudioMax and Solidworks, which aren't even available for Mac OS X natively."
An anonymous reader writes "In what seems like a surreal mixture of life imitating art, the Golf Channel has taken the wraps of a new camera drone. The hover camera appears to have 8 independent rotors supporting what looks like a gyro-stabilized HD camera. Though it is far from silent, the new drone will be on the course this week at the PGA Tour event taking place at Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Florida. No word on whether or not Lord Vader will be using these to monitor rebel activity on Hoth."
New submitter KernelMuncher writes "Curricula and research projects related to drones are cropping up at both large universities and community colleges across the country. In a list of 81 publicly-funded entities that have applied for a certificate of authorization to fly drones from the Federal Aviation Administration, more than a third are colleges... Schools — and their students — are jockeying for a position on the ground floor of a nascent industry that looks poised to generate jobs and research funding in the coming years. 'We get a lot of inquiries from students saying, "I want to be a drone pilot,"' says Ken Polovitz, the assistant dean in the University of North Dakota's John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences."
MatthewVD writes "How hard can it be to find an electric car charger? So hard that New York Times reporter David Broder had to drive in circles and drain his Tesla's battery. Charging infrastructure has been ultimate chicken or egg problem for electric cars adoption but finally, there's a good test case. In Estonia, drivers need to travel only 37 miles to reach a CHAdeMO quick charger. There are 165 of the direct current plug-in chargers, that can charge a car's lithium battery in 30 minutes for an average cost of $3.25. The question now is, will the electric vehicles follow?"
An anonymous reader writes "Tom's Hardware has published a lengthy article and a set of benchmarks on the new "Haswell" CPUs from Intel. It's just a performance preview, but it isn't just more of the same. While it's got the expected 10-15% faster for the same clock speed for integer applications, floating point applications are almost twice as a fast which might be important for digital imaging applications and scientific computing." The serious performance increase has a few caveats: you have to use either AVX2 or FMA3, and then only in code that takes advantage of vectorization. Floating point operations using AVX or plain old SSE3 see more modest increases in performance (in line with integer performance increases).
An anonymous reader writes "Next Saturday from 8:30PM to 9:30PM EST is 'Earth Hour' (0:30 to 1:30 UTC on Sunday). Millions of people will be participating by shutting off their lights for an hour to show they care about the environment. However, according to this article in Slate, Earth Hour is simply 'vain symbolism,' and it won't actually save any energy — quite the opposite. Quoting: 'Notice that you have not been asked to switch off anything really inconvenient, like your heating or air-conditioning, television, computer, mobile phone, or any of the myriad technologies that depend on affordable, plentiful energy electricity and make modern life possible. If switching off the lights for one hour per year really were beneficial, why would we not do it for the other 8,759? Hypothetically, switching off the lights for an hour would cut CO2 emissions from power plants around the world. But, even if everyone in the entire world cut all residential lighting, and this translated entirely into CO2 reduction, it would be the equivalent of China pausing its CO2 emissions for less than four minutes. In fact, Earth Hour will cause emissions to increase. As the United Kingdom's National Grid operators have found, a small decline in electricity consumption does not translate into less energy being pumped into the grid, and therefore will not reduce emissions. Moreover, during Earth Hour, any significant drop in electricity demand will entail a reduction in CO2 emissions during the hour, but it will be offset by the surge from firing up coal or gas stations to restore electricity supplies afterward.'"
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Thomas K. Grose reports that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that greenhouse gas emissions in the US have fallen 8 percent from their 2007 peak to 6,703 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent, due largely to the drop in coal-fired electricity which in 2012 generated 37.4 percent of US electricity, down from 50 percent in 2005. But don't celebrate just yet. A major side effect of that cleaner air in the US has been the further darkening of skies over Europe and Asia as US coal producers have been shipping the most carbon-intensive fuel to energy-hungry markets overseas. US coal exports to China were on track to double last year and demand for US metallurgical coal, the high-heat content coking coal that is used for steelmaking, is so great in Asia that shipments make a round-the-world journey from Appalachia as they are sent by train to the port of Baltimore, where they steam to sea through the Chesapeake Bay, then south across the Atlantic Ocean and around Africa's Cape of Good Hope to reach Asian ports. The Tyndall Center study estimates that the burning of all that exported coal could erase fully half the gains the United States has made in reducing carbon emissions and if the trend continues, the dramatic changes in energy use in the United States — in particular, the switch from coal to newly abundant natural gas for generating electricity — will have only a modest impact on global warming, observers warn. 'Without a meaningful cap on global carbon emissions, the exploitation of shale gas reserves is likely to increase total emissions,' write Dr John Broderick and Prof Kevin Anderson. 'For this not to be the case, consumption of displaced fuels must be reduced globally and remain suppressed indefinitely; in effect displaced coal must stay in the ground (PDF).'"
MojoKid writes "We hear about green deployment practices all the time, but it's often surrounding facilities such as data centers rather than retail stores. However, Walgreens is determined to go as green as possible, and to that end, the company announced plans for the first net zero energy retail store. The store is slated to be built at the corner of Chicago Avenue and Keeney Street in Evanston, Illinois, where an existing Walgreens is currently being demolished. The technologies Walgreens is plotting to implement in this new super-green store will include solar panels and wind turbines to generate power; geothermal technology for heat; and efficient energy consumption with LED lighting, daylight harvesting, and 'ultra-high-efficiency' refrigeration."
Hesh writes "The University of Southern California has launched a website that contains the blueprints for many of their custom VR headsets as well as new mods to the much anticipated yet unreleased Oculus Rift. Some are helping push DIY VR forward through custom sensor mounts to support, for example, stereo cameras and others add more functionality like new eye cups to help increase the already large FOV of the headset. This is truly an exciting time for VR; by GDC, developers will already have Rifts in hand and tinkerers can 3D-print their own designs now as well!"
An anonymous reader writes "The Obama Administration has put forth a proposal to collect $2 billion over the next 10 years from revenues generated by oil and gas development to fund scientific research into clean energy technologies. The administration hopes the research would help 'protect American families from spikes in gas prices and allow us to run our cars and trucks on electricity or homegrown fuels.' In a speech at Argonne National Laboratory, Obama said the private sector couldn't afford such research, which puts the onus on government to keep it going. Of course, it'll still be difficult to get everyone on board: 'The notion of funding alternative energy research with fossil fuel revenues has been endorsed in different forms by Republican politicians, including Alaskan senator Lisa Murkowsi. But the president still faces an uphill battle passing any major energy law, given how politicized programs to promote clean energy have become in the wake of high-profile failures of government-backed companies.'"
An anonymous reader writes "An article at TechCrunch bemoans the naysayers of ubiquitous video camera headsets, which seems like a near-term certainty whether it comes in the form of Google Glass or a similar product. The author points out, rightly, that surveillance cameras are already everywhere, and increasingly sophisticated government drones and satellites mean you're probably on camera more than you think already. 'But there's something about being caught on video, not by some impersonal machine but by another human being, that sticks in people's craws and makes them go irrationally berserk.' However, he also seems happy to trade privacy for security, which may not be palatable to others. He references a time he was mugged in Mexico as well as a desire to keep an eye on abuses of authority from police and others. 'If pervasive, ubiquitous networked cameras ultimately make public privacy impossible, which seems likely, then at least we can balance the scales by ensuring that we have two-way transparency between the powerful and the powerless.'"
waderoush writes "How many electronic gadgets did you own in 2005? How many do you own today? The answer is almost certainly a lot fewer. Counter to the dominant trend in consumer technology since the 1920s — and despite predictions of a coming 'Internet of things' — there may actually be *less* electronic stuff in our homes and offices today than ever before. That's thanks largely to the rise of multipurpose wireless devices like smartphones and tablets, which are now powerful enough to replace many older, dedicated devices like point-and-shoot cameras, music players, digital voice recorders — even whole home entertainment systems. To prove the point, here are before-and-after photos from one San Francisco household (mine) where the herd of digital devices has been thinned from about three dozen, eight years ago, to just 15 today."
redletterdave writes "Apple is facing a potential class action suit in San Francisco's California Northern District Court after an owner of its MacBook Pro with Retina display accused the computer company on Wednesday of 'tricking' consumers into paying for a poor-quality screen, citing an increasingly common problem that causes images to be burned into the display, also known as 'image persistence' or 'ghosting.' The lawsuit claims only LG-made screens are affected by this problem, but 'none of Apple's advertisements or representations disclose that it produces display screens that exhibit different levels of performance and quality.' Even though only one man filed the lawsuit, it can become a class action suit if others decide to join him in his claim, which might not be an issue: An Apple.com support thread for this particular problem, entitled 'MacBook Pro Retina display burn-in,' currently has more than 7,200 replies and 367,000 views across more than 500 pages."
Dropbox announced today that it is acquiring Mailbox, an iOS email client designed to take better advantage of a touch interface. The app launched last month, and the Mailbox team says they're already delivering more than 60 million emails daily. Demand for the service continues to grow, so they were exploring their options to expand. They said, "We can’t wait to put Mailbox in the hands of everyone who wants it. This means not only continuing to scale the service, but also including support for more email providers and mobile devices. Add to that a host of new features and we’ve got a LOT of work to do, certainly more than our current team of 14 can handle. We need to grow and we need to grow thoughtfully, with top-notch people who share our goals and values. Enter Dropbox, the team from San Francisco who helps over 100M people bring their photos, docs, and videos with them anywhere. They’re a profoundly talented bunch who build great tools that make work frictionless, and Mailbox fits Dropbox’s mission like a glove. Plus, they’ve got a ton of experience scaling services and are experts at handling people’s data with care. In short, Dropbox is our kind of company."
eldavojohn writes "Just like the many stories surrounding alleged 'Wi-Fi sickness,' research is now showing that windfarm sickness spreads by word of mouth instead of applying universally to windfarms. Areas that had never had any noise or health complaints were suddenly experiencing them after 2009 when anti-wind groups targeted populations surrounding windfarms. From the article, 'Eighteen reviews of the research literature on wind turbines and health published since 2003 had all reached the broad conclusion that there was very little evidence they were directly harmful to health.' While there's unfortunately no way to prove that someone is lying about how they feel, it's likely a mixture of confirmation bias, psychosomatic response, hypochondria, greed and hatred of seeing windmills on the horizon that drives this phenomenon."
An anonymous reader writes "Tony Tamsai, Nvidia's senior vice president of content and technology, has said that providing hardware for use in the PlayStation 4 was on the table, but they walked away. Having provided chips for use in both the PS3 and the original Xbox, that decision doesn't come without experience. Nvidia didn't want to commit to producing hardware at the cost Sony was willing to pay. They also considered that by accepting a PS4 contract, they wouldn't have the resources to do something else in another sector. In other words, the PS4 is not a lucrative enough platform to consider when high-end graphics cards and the Tegra line of chips hold so much more revenue potential."
Nerval's Lobster writes "The fastest supercomputer in the world, Oak Ridge National Laboratory's 'Titan,' has been delayed because an excess of gold on its motherboard connectors has prevented it from working properly. Titan was originally turned on last October and climbed to the top of the Top500 list of the fastest supercomputers shortly thereafter. Problems with Titan were first discovered in February, when the supercomputer just missed its stability requirement. At that time, the problems with the connectors were isolated as the culprit, and ORNL decided to take some of Titan's 200 cabinets offline and ship their motherboards back to the manufacturer, Cray, for repairs. The connectors affected the ability of the GPUs in the system to talk to the main processors. Oak Ridge Today's John Huotari noted the problem was due to too much gold mixed in with the solder."
An anonymous reader writes "After running uninterrupted for 3737 days, this humble Sun 280R server running Solaris 9 was shut down. At the time of making the video it was idle, the last service it had was removed sometime last year. A tribute video was made with some feelings about Sun, Solaris, the walk to the data center and freeing a machine from internet-slavery."
yanom writes "My school gave me several circa-2006 computers with no operating system. I fixed them up, and now they run Lubuntu fairly well, making them great internet/LibreOffice/general Linux workstations. I've been wanting to donate them to local nonprofits where they'll go to good use — for example, I've already given several to a local church for them to use in their afterschool care/tutoring program. However, I'm having trouble finding other places where these machines could go to good use. How should I best conduct this search? How can I find nonprofits that could benefit from these workstations?"
Hesh writes "With the impending arrival of the first batch of Oculus Rift VR headsets to developers, Rod Furlan put up a very detailed guide on how to build your very own headset with off-the-shelf parts and a few hours of spare time based off of the original design of the headset from the forums where it all started. This is a very exciting time for VR, and DIY headsets will allow everyone to try out new tricks and form factors while finally being able to test with a whole new world of compatible software that is about to be released very soon."
Celarent Darii writes "In what looks like good news for the American Space program, NASA has restarted production of plutonium. According to the article, after the closure of Savannah Rivers reactor NASA purchased plutonium from Russia, but since 2010 this was no longer possible. The native production of plutonium is a step forward for the space program to achieve the energy density for long term space exploration."
SXSW and ran into a small display for Lynx Laboratories, a startup that makes this claim about its Lynx A camera: "If you can use a point-and-shoot Nikon, you'll find the Lynx even easier to use. Instead of outputing 2D images, it produces 3D models of whatever you point it at. It's faster and cheaper than existing solutions today." There's a two-minute demo at the end of the video in which Lynx Founder and CEO Chris Slaughter shows how it works, and (at least in his hands) it looks extremely easy. The company is a University of Texas spinoff that "has received prestigious awards including the 1st Place Idea2Product (I2P) Texas, 1st Place I2P Global, Top 10 Dell Innovators and National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research Funding." Naturally, they're hoping to raise money through Kickstarter as well. They're looking for $50,000 and as of 13 March 2013 it looks like they've raised $88,548 of it. There are obviously other ways to make 3-D images and models. But Lynx seems to have made a novel device, and the images it makes can be picked up directly by a number of 3D printer software packages. The Lynx-A also does motion capture, which could really speed up rotoscoping and other techniques that make video games and other animations look more lifelike than pure animation. That's totally different from static 3D modeling but might be more interesting to more people, at least in a commercial sense.
An anonymous reader writes "Anandtech compares the Boston Viridis, a server with Calxeda's ARM server technology, with the typical Intel Xeon technology in a server environment. Turns out that the Quad ARM A9 chip has it weaknesses, but it can offer an amazing performance per Watt ratio in some applications. Anandtech tests bandwidth, compression, decompression, building/compiling and a hosted web environment on top of Ubuntu 12.10." At least in their tests (highly parallel, lightweight file serving), the ARM nodes offered slightly better throughput at lower power use, although from the looks of it you'd just be giving money to the server manufacturer instead of the power company.
MojoKid writes "AMD has just announced a new family of Elite A-Series APUs for mobile applications, based on the architecture codenamed 'Richland.' These new APUs build upon last year's 'Trinity' architecture, by improving graphics and compute performance, enhancing power efficiency through the implementation of a new 'Hybrid Boost' mode which leverages on-die thermal sensors, and offering AMD-optimized applications meant to improve the user experience. AMD is unveiling a new visual identity as well, with updated logos and clearer language, in a bid to enhance the brand. At the top of the product stack now is the AMD A10-5750M, a 35 Watt, 3.5GHz quad-core processor with integrated Radeon HD 8650G graphics, 4MB of L2 cache and a DDR3-1866 capable memory interface. The low-end is comprised of dual-cores with Radeon HD 8400G series GPUs and a DDR3-1600 memory interface."