puddingebola writes with a New York Times article about how mundane PC equipment — not just more esoteric and eyebrow-raising network monitoring equipment from Blue Coat — makes its way to Syria: "Large amounts of computer equipment from Dell have been sold to the Syrian government through a Dubai-based distributor despite strict trade sanctions intended to ban the selling of technology to the regime, according to documents obtained by The New York Times. The disclosure of the computer sales is the latest example of how the Syrian government has managed to acquire technology, some of which is used to censor Internet activity and track opponents of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad."
symbolset writes "Though there were some troubles and worries along the way, Datawind has delivered to India's government the full allocation of 100,000 (1 lakh) 'Aakash 2' Android tablets from their first order. Priced at about $40, these tablets aren't the sort Americans would rave about: 330 MHz, 256MB RAM and so on. But for the last 2,000 units for the same price Datawind supplied Aakash 3 1GHz, 1GB RAM, 4GB Android tablets with SDHC and 3G mobile — for the same price. Such is the progress in mobile today. There was some doubt whether Datawind could deliver, so kudos to them."
An anonymous reader writes "Soon anyone will be able to head out to the store and buy a 3D printer: 'Staples, one of the leading office supply retailers in the U.S. announced it would begin selling 3-D Systems' entry level personal 3-D printer, The Cube. This is quite simply the single largest 3-D printer retail move to date by any 3-D printer manufacturer.' 'The Cube is one of a number of 3-D printers designed with traditional consumers in mind. Specifically, this unit can print items up to 5.5 inches tall, wide and long in one of 16 different colors. The retail bundle includes 25 free design templates to get users started but the real fun is designing and building something all your own.'"
waderoush writes "Consumer Reports calls extended warranties 'money down the drain,' and as a tech journalist and owner of myriad gadgets — none of which have ever conked out or cracked up during the original warranty period — that was always my attitude too. But when I met recently with Steve Abernethy, CEO of San Francisco-based warranty provider SquareTrade, I tried to keep an open mind, and I came away thinking that the industry might be changing. In a nutshell, Abernethy says he's aware of the extended-warranty industry's dreadful reputation, but he says SquareTrade is working to salvage it through a combination of lower prices, broader coverage, and better service. On top of that, he made some persuasive points – which don't seem to figure into Consumer Reports' argument – about the way the 'risk vs. severity' math has changed since the beginning of the smartphone and tablet era. One-third of smartphone owners will lose their devices to drops or spills within the first three years of purchase, the company's data shows. If you belong to certain categories — like people in big households, or motorcycle owners, or homeowners with hardwood floors — your risk is even higher. So, in the end, the decision about buying an extended warranty boils down to whether you think you can defy the odds, and whether you can afford to buy a new device at full price if you're one of the unlucky ones."
ananyo writes "A robot as small as a housefly has managed the delicate task of flying and hovering the way the actual insects do. The device uses layers of ultrathin materials that can make its wings flap 120 times a second, similar to the rate that a housefly manages. The robot's wings are composed of thin polyester films reinforced with carbon fibre ribs and its 'muscles' are made from piezoelectric crystals, which shrink or stretch depending on the voltage applied to them. Weighing in at just 80 milligrams, the tiny drone cannot carry its own power source, so has to stay tethered to the ground. It also relies on a computer to monitor its motion and adjust its attitude (abstract). Still, it is the first robot to deploy a fly's full range of aerial motion, including hovering (there's a video in the source)."
SternisheFan sends this excerpt from MIT's Technology Review: "The first comprehensive and large scale smart grid is now operating. The $800 million project, built in Florida, has made power outages shorter and less frequent, and helped some customers save money, according to the utility that operates it. ... Dozens of utilities are building smart grids — or at least installing some smart grid components, but no one had put together all of the pieces at a large scale. Florida Power & Light's project incorporates a wide variety of devices for monitoring and controlling every aspect of the grid, not just, say, smart meters in people's homes. ... Many utilities are installing smart meters — Pacific Gas & Electric in California has installed twice as many as FPL, for example. But while these are important, the flexibility and resilience that the smart grid promises depends on networking those together with thousands of sensors at key points in the grid — substations, transformers, local distribution lines, and high voltage transmission lines. (A project in Houston is similar in scope, but involves half as many customers, and covers somewhat less of the grid.) In FPL's system, devices at all of these places are networked — data jumps from device to device until it reaches a router that sends it back to the utility — and that makes it possible to sense problems before they cause an outage, and to limit the extent and duration of outages that still occur. The project involved 4.5 million smart meters and over 10,000 other devices on the grid."
FrankPoole writes "The Iomega brand name will soon be officially laid to rest. Lenovo and EMC, which jointly own the storage company, will replace the Iomega name on all NAS products with 'LenovoEMC.' Lenovo and EMC entered into a joint venture last year, with Lenovo buying partial ownership of Iomega. But because the company name is associated with cheap, consumer storage and ZIP drives, Lenovo is giving Iomega the boot."
crookedvulture writes "Intel has revealed fresh details about the integrated graphics in upcoming Haswell processors. The fastest variants of the built-in GPU will be known as Iris and Iris Pro graphics, with the latter boasting embedded DRAM. Unlike Ivy Bridge, which reserves its fastest GPU implementations for mobile parts, the Haswell family will include R-series desktop chips with the full-fat GPU. These processors are likely bound for all-in-one systems, and they'll purportedly offer close to three times the graphics performance of their predecessors. Intel says notebook users can look forward to a smaller 2X boost, while 15-17W ultrabook CPUs benefit from an increase closer to 1.5X. Haswell's integrated graphics has other perks aside from better performance, including faster Quick Sync video transcoding, MJPEG acceleration, and support for 4K resolutions. The new IGP will support DirectX 11.1, OpenGL 4.0, and OpenCL 1.2, as well." Note: Same story, different words, at Extreme Tech and Hot Hardware.
Zothecula writes "In the ProDesk3D, 3D printing outfit botObjects has come up with not only the first full color desktop 3D printer, but thanks to its anodized aluminum body, unquestionably one of the prettiest. The company's goal was to think about how 3D printers might look in 5 years, aiming to put clear water between the ProDesk3D and its "kit-like contemporaries." To print in color, it uses a cartridge system capable of mixing five base colors of PLA."
itwbennett writes "Force feedback in video games (when the game controller shakes and vibrates in response to an experience in the game) has been around for a while now. But a research project on display at the Computer Human Interaction conference in Paris this week takes it a step further, administering small electric shocks."
kkleiner writes "A recent report (PDF) from International Energy Agency delivers some dire news: despite 20 years of efforts toward clean energy and a decade of growth in renewable energy, energy production remains as 'dirty' as ever due to worldwide reliance on fossil fuels. With the global demand for energy expected to rise by 25 percent in the next 10 years, a renewed effort toward cleaner energy is desperately needed to avoid detrimental effects to the environment and public health. The report says, 'Coal technologies continue to dominate growth in power generation. This is a major reason why the amount of CO2 emitted for each unit of energy supplied has fallen by less than 1% since 1990. Thus the net impact on CO2 intensity of all changes in supply has been minimal. Coal-fired generation, which rose by an estimated 6% from 2010 to 2012, continues to grow faster than non-fossil energy sources on an absolute basis.'"
zacharye writes "The concept of wearable tech is really buzzing right now as pundits tout smart eyewear, watches and other connected devices as the future of tech. It makes sense, of course — smartphone growth is slowing and people need something to hold on to — but the early 'Explorer' version of Google's highly anticipated Google Glass headset has major problem that could be a big barrier for widespread adoption: Awful battery life." Also, a review of the hardware. The current Glass hardware heads south in less than five hours, which doesn't seem too short relative to similarly powerful devices, but since it is meant to be worn all the time you'd think it would have a large enough battery to make it at least 8 or 10 hours.
coondoggie writes "If smartwatches and other ultra-small devices are to become the text generators of the future, their diminutive keyboards are going to have to be way more useful for, um, big fingered typists. Carnegie Mellon researchers may have the answer to that problem. Called ZoomBoard, the text entry technique is based on the iconic QWERTY keyboard layout." The zoom board paper (PDF) has details. Entering a letter becomes a multi-step process; first you mash the general area of the keyboard containing the letter you want, and eventually it becomes large enough to hit. Test subjects managed to hit 9.3wpm after practice, versus 4.5 wpm for people trying to peck on a teeny-tiny virtual keyboard. They were inspired at least in part by the venerable Dasher input method.
symbolset writes "The Atlantic recently ran an in-depth article about energy resources. The premise is that there remain incalculable and little-understood carbon fuel assets which far outweigh all the fossil fuels ever discovered. The article lists them and discusses their potentials and consequences, both fiscal and environmental. 'The clash occurs when renewables are ready for prime time—and natural gas is still hanging around like an old and dirty but reliable car, still cheap to produce and use, after shale fracking is replaced globally by undersea mining of methane hydrate. Revamping the electrical grid from conventionals like coal and oil to accommodate unconventionals like natural gas and solar power will be enormously difficult, economically and technically.' Along these lines, yesterday the U.S. Geological Survey more than doubled their estimate of Bakken shale oil reserve in North Dakota and Montana to 7.4-11 billion barrels. Part of the push for renewables over the past few decades was the idea that old methods just weren't going to last. What happens to that push if fossil fuels remain plentiful?"
gnujoshua writes "You may recall that last Fall, the LulzBot AO-100 3D printer was awarded the use of the Free Software Foundation's Respects Your Freedom certification mark. Today, the FSF announced certification of the ThinkPenguin TPE-N150USB, Wireless N USB Adapter, which uses the Atheros ARAR9271 chip. The FSF's RYF certification requirements are focused on the software (not the hardware designs) of a product, which in this case was primarily the device firmware and ath9k-htc module in the Linux-libre kernel. (Disclosure: I work for the FSF.) There's also a cool story that is within this story... which is that the firmware for the Atheros AR9271 chipset was released as a result of a small device seller (ThinkPenguin) striking a deal with a large electronic device manufacturer (Qualcomm Atheros) to build a WLAN USB adapter that shipped with 100% free software firmware. This deal was possible largely because two motivated Qualcomm Atheros employees, Adrian Chadd and Luis Rodriguez, made the internal-push to get the firmware released as free software."
Vigile writes "One of the drawbacks to high end graphics has been the lack of low cost and massively-available displays with a resolution higher than 1920x1080. Yes, 25x16/25x14 panels are coming down in price, but it might be the influx of 4K monitors that makes a splash. PC Perspective purchased a 4K TV for under $1500 recently and set to benchmarking high end graphics cards from AMD and NVIDIA at 3840x2160. For under $500, the Radeon HD 7970 provided the best experience, though the GTX Titan was the most powerful single GPU option. At the $1000 price point the GeForce GTX 690 appears to be the card to beat with AMD's continuing problems on CrossFire scaling. PC Perspective has also included YouTube and downloadable 4K video files (~100 mbps) as well as screenshots, in addition to a full suite of benchmarks."
crookedvulture writes "AMD has revealed more details about the unified memory architecture of its next-generation Kaveri APU. The chip's CPU and GPU components will have a shared address space and will also share both physical and virtual memory. GPU compute applications should be able to share data between the processor's CPU cores and graphics ALUs, and the caches on those components will be fully coherent. This so-called heterogeneous uniform memory access, or hUMA, supports configurations with either DDR3 or GDDR5 memory. It's also based entirely in hardware and should work with any operating system. Kaveri is due later this year and will also have updated Steamroller CPU cores and a GPU based on the current Graphics Core Next architecture." bigwophh writes links to the Hot Hardware take on the story, and writes "AMD claims that programming for hUMA-enabled platforms should ease software development and potentially lower development costs as well. The technology is supported by mainstream programming languages like Python, C++, and Java, and should allow developers to more simply code for a particular compute resource with no need for special APIs."
hypnosec writes with word that the OpenWRT team a few days ago released the final version of the project's newest iteration, version 12.09 (codenamed "Attitude Adjustment"). "The final version doesn't support Linux 2.4, because of which the distribution wouldn't run on old router models, for example the Linksys WRT54G models, which have 16MB of RAM and CPUs clocked at 200MHz. The distribution is now based on Linux 3.3 and there is good news for the Raspberry Pi fans as the distribution now supports the credit card-sized computer, along with Ramips routers."
kkleiner writes "For the last 30 years, automation has enabled U.S. manufacturing output to increase and lift profits without having to add any traditional jobs. Now, in the last decade, nearly a third of manufacturing jobs are gone. As manufacturing goes the way of agriculture, the job market must shift into new types of work lest mass technological unemployment and civil unrest overtake these beneficial gains."
Indiana University has replaced their supercomputer, Big Red, with a new system predictably named Big Red II. At the dedication HPC scientist Paul Messina said: "It's important that this is a university-owned resource. ... Here you have the opportunity to have your own faculty, staff and students get access with very little difficulty to this wonderful resource." From the article: "Big Red II is a Cray-built machine, which uses both GPU-enabled and standard CPU compute nodes to deliver a petaflop -- or 1 quadrillion floating-point operations per second -- of max performance. Each of the 344 CPU nodes uses two 16-core AMD Abu Dhabi processors, while the 676 GPU nodes use one 16-core AMD Interlagos and one NVIDIA Kepler K20."
AchilleTalon writes "As many of you may know, there are two main competitors on the Windows platform for embedded software development, namely IAR and Keil. By embedded development, I mean development for microprocessors like the well known 8051 and the likes, not mobile platforms which include a complete OS in first place. I am seeking for alternatives to IAR and Keil in the OSS world. Even if I can find pieces of code here and there, I haven't found yet a fully integrated development platform. Does it exist? What do you use?"
mikejuk writes "The Carnegie Mellon University Biorobotics Lab demonstrates how the snakelike robots can aid search and rescue operations in collapsed buildings. The video appeared more or less at the same time as the current real disaster in Dhaka, Bangladesh where an 8-storey building collapsed, trapping some three thousand people. Bangladesh rescue teams, helped by members of the community, have so far worked with small tools and their bare hands to bring out survivors. Having a snake robot that could provide pictures from within the building would lead to speedier and more effective rescue operations."
symbolset writes "Outbound Intel CEO Paul Otellini created quite a stir when mentioning that touchscreen laptops would reach a $200 price point. CNET is now reporting in an interview with Intel chief product officer Dadi Perlmutter that these touchscreen laptops will run Android on Intel Atom processors at first. 'Whether Windows 8 PCs hit that price largely depends on Microsoft, he said. "We have a good technology that enables a very cost-effective price point," Perlmutter said. The price of Windows 8 laptops "depends on how Microsoft prices Windows 8. It may be a slightly higher price point." ... Perlmutter didn't specify what the Android notebooks will look like, but it's probable they'll be convertible-type devices. He also noted that he expects the PC market to pick up in the back half of the year and heading into 2014 as new devices become available."
An anonymous reader writes with this snippet from ExtremeTech: "Researchers at the University of Washington's aptly named Ubiquitous Computing Lab can turn any LCD monitor in your house into a touchscreen, with nothing more than a $5 sensor that plugs into the wall and some clever software." The system works by measuring changes that your hand creates in the electromagnetic signature of the monitor. Surprisingly, it offers some pretty fine-grained detection, too: "full-hand touch, five-finger touch, hovering above the screen, pushing, and pulling." The "$5 sensor" part is mostly theoretical for now to those of us who don't live in a lab, though; on the other hand, "co-author Sidhant Gupta tells Technology Review that the $5 sensor uses off-the-shelf parts, and the algorithms are included in the paper, so it would be fairly easy for you — or a commercial entity — to recreate the uTouch system."
daltec writes "The $250,000 American Helicopter Society Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition prize, unclaimed since 1980, is now closer than ever to being won. With flights up to ten feet in altitude and lasting over 65 seconds, the prize's strict requirements (thought by many to be impossible to satisfy) have all been met — but not on the same flight. Two teams — AeroVelo in Canada and Gamera II at the University of Maryland — are tantalizingly close to claiming the prize. The Gamera team will be making its latest attempt this weekend."
An anonymous reader writes "Btrfs is the next-gen filesystem for Linux, likely to replace ext3 and ext4 in coming years. Btrfs offers many compelling new features and development proceeds apace, but many users still aren't sure whether it's 'ready enough' to entrust their data to. Anchor, a webhosting company, reports on trying it out, with mixed feelings. Their opinion: worth a look-in for most systems, but too risky for frontline production servers. The writeup includes a few nasty caveats that will bite you on serious deployments."
o2binbuzios writes "Due to an office move, I have a chance to do a clean-sheet design for an integration room at a fairly large VAR ($100M+ ). I'm looking for some ideas or best practice to support 100-120 square meters (~50 x 30 ft). I'm particularly interested in ideas around efficient workflow, ways to manage cabling and electrical, and 'environmental' solutions that make it a pleasant place to work. There will be a central bench with 6-8 stations (3-4 per side) with engineers and techs who may be configuring stacks of up to 10 devices at a time that could range from servers, to network elements, to SAN & NAS devices and more. I've been looking for a paper that seems like it must exist — but I'm happy to gather good ideas one at a time or in bunches here on Slashdot."
concealment writes "Sparkler Filters up north in Conroe [Texas] still uses an IBM 402 in conjunction with a Model 129 key punch – with the punch cards and all – to do company accounting work and inventory. The company makes industrial filters for chemical plants and grease traps. Lutricia Wood is the head accountant at Sparkler and the data processing manager. She went to business school over 40 years ago in Houston, and started at Sparkler in 1973. Back then punch cards were still somewhat state of the art." See kottke.org for an eye-popping view of one of the "programs" — imagine debugging that.
coondoggie writes "When it comes to fixing broken systems, especially in remote locations, engineers could soon turn to a new mobile robotic system IBM is developing that could help them more easily find the broken equipment, offer up information about the system and provide real-time visual support from supervising experts. The mobile maintenance, repair and operations prototype includes an application that lets a supervisor monitor an engineer's progress towards the maintenance site, and a robotic arm coupled with a camera system, a microphone and laser pointer."
An anonymous reader writes "Hui Zhang and Shangui Zhao describe China's decision to move ahead with nuclear power. Following the Fukushima Daiichi accident, China slowed its rapid expansion of nuclear power and undertook a major reevaluation of safety practices. The government has now resumed approval of new nuclear power projects, and is cautiously moving forward. Good description of safety issues that remain." They are suspending in-land construction, and are aiming at 58GWe instead of 80GWe of generation capacity by 2020. It's still more than the 40GWe they planned to build under their 2007 plans.
An anonymous reader writes "Today AMD has officially unveiled its long-awaited dual-GPU Tahiti-based card. Codenamed Malta, the $1,000 Radeon HD 7990 is positioned directly against Nvidia's dual-GPU GeForce GTX 690. Tom's Hardware posted the performance data. Because Fraps measures data at a stage in the pipeline before what is actually seen on-screen, they employed Nvidia's FCAT (Frame Capture Analysis Tools). ... The 690 is beating AMD's new flagship in six out of eight titles. ... AMD is bundling eight titles with every 7990, including: BioShock Infinite, Tomb Raider, Crysis 3, Far Cry 3, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Hitman: Absolution, Sleeping Dogs, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution." OpenGL performance doesn't seem too off from the competing Nvidia card, but the 7990 dominates when using OpenCL. Power management looks decent: ~375W at full load, but a nice 20W at idle (it can turn the second chip off entirely when unneeded). PC Perspective claims there are issues with Crossfire and an un-synchronized rendering pipeline that leads to a slight decrease in the actual frame rate, but that should be fixed by an updated Catalyst this summer.
cylonlover writes "Teaching a robot how to deal with real-world problems is a challenging task. There has been much progress in building robots that can precisely repeat individual tasks with a level of speed and accuracy impossible for human craftspeople. But there are many more tasks that could be done if robots could be supplied with even a limited amount of judgment. A robotics group led by Professor Sylvain Calinon at the Italian Institute of Technology is making progress in solving this problem and has developed a robot whose purpose in life is to help a person build an IKEA table."
mdsolar writes "'A U.N. nuclear watchdog team said Japan may need longer than the projected 40 years to decommission the Fukushima power plant and urged Tepco to improve stability at the facility. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency team, Juan Carlos Lentijo, said Monday that damage at the nuclear plant is so complex that it is impossible to predict how long the cleanup may last.' Meanwhile, Gregory B. Jaczko, former Chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said that all 104 nuclear power reactors now in operation in the United States have a safety problem that cannot be fixed and they should be replaced with newer technology."
An anonymous reader writes "BitTorrent on Tuesday announced it has released its file synchronization tool Sync into open alpha. You can download the latest version now for Windows, Mac, and Linux over at labs.bittorrent.com. The company first announced its Sync software back in January, explaining at the time that it uses peer-to-peer technology to synchronize personal files across multiple computers and devices."
thecarchik writes "Most advocates and industry analysts expect lithium-ion batteries to dominate electric-car energy storage for the rest of this decade. But is Tesla Motors planning to add a new type of battery to increase the range of its electric cars? Tesla has filed for eight separate patents on uses of metal-air battery technology (for example, #20120041625). The metals covered for use in the metal-air battery are aluminum, iron, lithium, magnesium, vanadium, and zinc. Metal-air batteries, which slowly consume their anodes to give off energy, hit the news last month when Israeli startup Phinergy demonstrated its prototype battery and let reporters drive a test vehicle fitted with the energy-storage device. Mounted in a subcompact demonstration car, Phinergy's aluminum-air battery provides 1,000 miles of range, it said, and requires refills of distilled water (which acts as electrolyte in the cells) about every 200 miles."
kkleiner writes "Recently developed noodle-making robots have now been put into operation in over 3,000 restaurants in China. Invented by a noodle restaurant owner, each unibrow-sporting robot currently costs 10,000 yuan ($1,600), which is only three months wages for an equivalent human noodle cook. As the cost of the robot continues to drop, more noodle shops are bound to displace human workers for the tirelessly working cheaper robots."
DeviceGuru tipped us to the release of the latest single board computer from Beagle Board. It's been two years since the previous BeagleBone was released, and today they've released the BeagleBone Black (including full hardware schematics) at a price competitive with the Raspberry Pi ($10 more, but it comes with a power brick). Powered by a Cortex-A8, it has 512M of DDR3 RAM, 2G of onboard eMMC, two blocks of 46 I/O pins, a pair of 32-bit DSPs, the usual USB host/client ports, Ethernet, and micro-HDMI (a much requested feature). Support is provided for Ångstrom GNU/Linux, Ubuntu, and Android out of the box. Linux Gizmos reports where some of the cost savings came from: "According to BeagleBoard.org cofounder Jason Kridner, interviewed in a Linux.com report today, cost savings also came from removing the default serial port as well as USB-to-serial and USB-to-JTAG interfaces, and including a cheaper single-purpose USB cable. (Three serial interfaces are available via the expansion headers.) In addition, the power expansion header for battery and backlight has been removed."
derekmead writes "According to a new study (PDF) from Pew Charitable Trusts, China was the world leader in clean energy investment in 2012. The U.S., meanwhile, saw its grip loosen on many of the clean energy technologies it developed. According to the research, total clean energy investment totaled $269 billion worldwide last year, a decline from 2011's record high of $302 billion. However, clean energy investment in the Asia and Oceania markets grew by 16 percent to $101 billion. In terms of investment — which is an indicator that a country or region has offered compelling projects, struck a good regulatory balance, and has a strong economy — that makes Asia the epicenter of the global clean energy market. The Pew researchers thus labeled the U.S. clean energy sector as 'underperforming,' largely for a trio of reasons. First, China's boom and manufacturing prowess has taken investment away from the U.S.. Second, the U.S. regulatory environment for clean energy is horrifically unstable (as is the regulatory environment as a whole) as politicians battle over budget rhetoric. Finally, the U.S. has failed to capitalize on its innovation prowess and develop its clean energy manufacturing sector to its full potential." They do not count nuclear as clean, but including nuclear would only widen China's lead over everyone else (they almost have their first new AP1000 ready and are building lots more).
illiteratehack writes "10 years ago AMD released its first Opteron processor, the first 64-bit x86 processor. The firm's 64-bit 'extensions' allowed the chip to run existing 32-bit x86 code in a bid to avoid the problems faced by Intel's Itanium processor. However AMD suffered from a lack of native 64-bit software support, with Microsoft's Windows XP 64-bit edition severely hampering its adoption in the workstation market." But it worked out in the end.
coondoggie writes "IBM today said its researchers are developing a solar power system that concentrates solar radiation 2,000 times by using a human-blood supply modeled way of cooling and converting 80% of Sun's heat into useful energy. IBM says the system can also desalinate water and cool air in sunny, remote locations where such systems are often in short supply."
Lucas123 writes "While news stories have focused on the upcoming jump from 5Gbps to 10Gbps for USB SuperSpeed, less talked about has been the fact that it will also increase charging capabilities from 10W to 100W, meaning you'll be able to charge your laptop, monitor, even a television using a USB cord. Along with USB, the Thunderbolt peripheral interconnect will also be doubling it throughput thanks to a new controller chip, in its case from 10Gbps to 20Gbps. As with USB SuperSpeed, Thunderbolt's bandwidth increase is considered an evolutionary step, but the power transfer increase is being considered revolutionary, according to Jeff Ravencraft, president of the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF). 'This is going to change the way computers, peripheral devices and even HDTVs will not only consume but deliver power,' Ravencraft said. 'You can have an HDTV with a USB hub built into it where not only can you exchange data and audio/video, but you can charge all your devices from it.'"
MojoKid writes "The concept of gaming accessories may have just been taken to a whole new level. A company called Virtuix is developing the Omni, which is essentially a multidirectional treadmill that its creators call 'a natural motion interface for virtual reality applications.' The company posted a video showing someone playing Team Fortress 2 and using the Omni along with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. You can see in the video how much running and movement this fellow performs. With something like the Omni in your living room, you'd likely get into pretty good shape in no time. Instead of Doritos and Mountain Dew, folks might have to start slamming back Power Bars and Gatorade for all night gaming sessions."
Earlier this month, an article raised the question of who owns the giant data center being built in Altoona, Iowa. Today, the Des Moines Register has an answer, gleaned from "legislative sources." The giant facility, estimated to cost $1.5 billion when construction is complete, is to house a data center for Facebook. The article lists various attributes the site has to make it attractive for all that data, including access to transportation, extensive network infrastructure, and relatively low risk from natural disasters.
kkleiner writes "Willow Garage spinoff IPI has developed a visual system for its line of robotic arms that enable the machines to perceive a specific object in the midst of random ones. On-site videos show the 'sensing' robots analyzing stacks of random boxes, selecting certain ones, and tossing them to a human handler. The software is also used in an automated box unloader that requires no human supervision."
First time accepted submitter thejezus writes "A spy cabinet has been exposed on a public road in The Hague, the Netherlands (Google translate here). The cabinet was disguised as telecom-cabinet and was detected by the maintenance crew of Ziggo (a triple-play provider) because it was not listed as a property of the company. Upon opening, it was revealed the cabinet contained a camera and UMTS equipment. Later that day, the cabinet disappeared. 1984 much?"
theodp writes "In his latest essay, Rudolf Winestock argues that the movement to replace the mainframe has re-invented the mainframe, as well as the reason why people wanted to get rid of mainframes in the first place. 'The modern server farm looks like those first computer rooms,' Winestock writes. 'Row after row of metal frames (excuse me—racks) bearing computer modules in a room that's packed with cables and extra ventilation ducts. Just like mainframes. Server farms have multiple redundant CPUs, memory, disks, and network connections. Just like mainframes. The rooms that house these server farms are typically not open even to many people in the same organization, but only to dedicated operations teams. Just like mainframes.' And with terabytes of data sitting in servers begging to be monetized by business and scrutinized by government, Winestock warns that the New Boss is worse than the Old Boss. So, what does this mean for the future of fully functional, general purpose, standalone computers? 'Offline computer use frustrates the march of progress,' says Winestock. 'If offline use becomes uncommon, then the great and the good will ask: "What are [you] hiding? Are you making kiddie porn? Laundering money? Spreading hate? Do you want the terrorists to win?"'"
Blug_fred writes "For the first year the Digital Freedom Foundation (ex-SFI) is organizing Hardware Freedom Day. With 66 events worldwide split over 36 countries, they are not yet covering the whole world but it is a good start. So if you have always been wondering about hacking your own stuff, be it a piece of wood or some more complex electronic gears then it is time to join an open door day type of event. Sixty-six events is definitely less that the total number of hackerspaces around the world and you can check for other events happening in a hackerspace near you if none are celebrating today. Hopefully they will join the movement next year."
Ars Technica reviewer Lee Hutchinson says that Dell's Ubuntu-loaded 13" Ultrabook (the product of "Project Sputnik") is "functional," "polished," and (for a Linux laptop) remarkably unremarkable. "It just works," he says. Hutchinson points out that this is a sadly low bar, but nonetheless gives Dell great credit for surpassing it. He finds the Ultrabook's keyboard to be spongy, but has praise for most elements of the hardware itself, right down to (not everyone's favorite) the glossy screen.
An anonymous reader writes "The Blackstone Group has notified Dell's board that it has ended its bid for the company after performing 'due diligence' on Dell's books. The private equity firm gave two reasons for its withdrawal in a letter to the special committee of the board reviewing privatization offers: the 'unprecedented 14 percent market decline in PC volume in the first quarter of 2013' and 'the rapidly eroding financial profile of Dell.' IBM's recently announced intention of withdrawing from the x86 server market may have also spooked investors. Blackstone was one of two outside bidders that emerged after founder Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners announced a deal to take the company private for $24.4 billion. The remaining bidders did not comment on Blackstone's withdrawal; however, the Bloomberg piece notes that Dell's original deal with Silver Lake Partners contains language preventing the latter from backing out."
derekmead writes "Having completed intense review of the aircraft's flight systems and functionality, component reliability, two weeks ago Boeing completed testing on the last item on its list, the plane's battery housing. The FAA on Friday approved the new system. That means the 787, which Boeing has continued to build while new battery solutions were developed, will now be able to resume regular flights as soon as workers are able to carry out an overhaul of the planes that need the upgrade. 'FAA approval clears the way for us and the airlines to begin the process of returning the 787 to flight with continued confidence in the safety and reliability of this game-changing new airplane,' Jim McNerney, CEO of Boeing, said in a news release announcing the approval."