First time accepted submitter Sabine Hauert writes in with news about a robotic bartending system called Makr Shakr. "You're at a busy bar. You order your personalized cocktail through a smart phone app; a drink dispenser measures out the beverage according to your instructions and a Kuka robotic arm give it a shake (or stir), while another garnishes it with a slice of lemon; the made-to-order concoction is delivered to your waiting hand via a slick little ten-lane conveyor belt. The 'mixology system' tracks your order from start to finish: a large display behind the bar shows you the number of drinks ahead of yours in the queue, the current wait time, and lets you know when your drink is ready to be picked up. It also shows you what's popular to drink tonight among both the ladies and the gents in the crowd, and lets you influence drinking trends in real-time by incorporating your suggested tweaks on popular recipes."
MojoKid writes "AMD is announcing its Radeon HD 8970M. The mobile GPU is based on a design that has a few small feature changes that have led it to be unofficially labeled a Graphics Core Next (GCN) 1.1 part versus AMD's previous gen GCN 1.0 technology. AMD claims that the Radeon HD 8970M is significantly faster than NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 680M in a variety of tests, but high-end laptops that use AMD hardware are harder to find these days."
Google's I/O annual conference is ramping up at San Francisco's Moscone Center. Last year, in the conference keynote, the company took its biggest-yet dive into hardware when it introduced the Nexus 7 tablet, Google Glass, and the ill-fated Nexus Q. The secret is out on Glass, of course: this year, there's a pavilion inside the conference center where I'm sure they'll be showing off applications for it. (Quite a few of the people in the endless lines here are wearing their own, too.) Anticipating the announcements at I/O is practically its own industry, but it's easy to guess that there will be announcements from all the major pots in which Google has its many thousands of (tapping) fingers. Android, search, Chrome, mapping, and all the other ways in which the behemoth of Mountain View is watching what you do. You can watch the keynote talk (talks, really) streamed online from the main conference link above, but this story will be updated with highlights of the announcements, as well with stories that readers contribute. Update: 05/15 16:22 GMT by T : Updates below. Update: 05/15 19:02 GMT by T :Update details: Notes (ongoing) added below on maps, gaming, the Play store, Google+, and more. And, notable, Larry Page is (at this writing) on stage, with an unannounced Q & A session.
mattOzan writes "When data centers first opened in the 1990s, the tenants paid for space to plug in their servers with a proviso that electricity would be available. As computing power has soared, so has the need for electricity, turning that relationship on its head: electrical capacity is often the central element of lease agreements, and space is secondary. While lease arrangements are often written in the language of real estate, they are essentially power deals. 'Since tenants on average tend to contract for around twice the power they need, Mr. Tazbaz said, those data centers can effectively charge double what they are paying for that power. Generally, the sale or resale of power is subject to a welter of regulations and price controls. For regulated utilities, the average "return on equity" — a rough parallel to profit margins — was 9.25 percent to 9.7 percent for 2010 through 2012.'"
redletterdave writes "The FAA predicts 30,000 drones will patrol the US skies by 2020, but New Jersey drivers could see these unmanned aerial vehicles hovering above the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway much sooner than that. New Jersey lawmakers from both Republican and Democratic parties have introduced a number of bills to tackle the drones issue before the federal government starts issuing the first domestic drone permits in September 2015."
kkleiner writes "The first NeuroGaming Conference and Expo took place at the beginning of May to showcase the convergent technologies that are paving the way toward gaming with your mind. Tech news has been dominated with stories about Google Glass and the Oculus Rift, which was on display for attendees to test out. Other technologies that utilize EEG are opening up possibilities of a controller-free gaming experience into virtual realities with unlimited potential. 'Deeper questions surrounding the morality of neurogames will be sure to stir debate. As virtual reality technology inches closer to lifelike resolution, should gamers simulate themselves as characters engaged in acts of violence or criminal activity? It’s unpredictable what these games could uncover about the user as neurogames gain insight into a users’ psyche and how they respond to stimuli at a subconscious level. For instance, a game could uncover how its user particularly enjoys shooting at civilians in gameplay. Games might even become expert at diagnosing psychiatric disorders. As computers become exponentially more powerful, game resolution could fully mimic our ever-present reality.'"
mask.of.sanity writes "While Hollywood often fails to portray hacking, one researcher has made the art of exploitation look more like the big screen. Kinectasploit is hacking in the form of a first-person shooter that melds Microsoft's Kinect controls with 20 hacking tools including Metasploit, Snort, Nessus, John the Ripper and Ettercap. The work in progress can be downloaded from github."
MojoKid writes "For the past decade, AMD and Intel have been racing each other to incorporate more components into the CPU die. Memory controllers, integrated GPUs, northbridges, and southbridges have all moved closer to a single package, known as SoCs (system-on-a-chip). Now, with Haswell, Intel is set to integrate another important piece of circuitry. When it launches next month, Haswell will be the first x86 CPU to include an on-die voltage regulator module, or VRM. Haswell incorporates a refined VRM on-die that allows for multiple voltage rails and controls voltage for the CPU, on-die GPU, system I/O, integrated memory controller, as well as several other functions. Intel refers to this as a FIVR (Fully Integrated Voltage Regulator), and it apparently eliminates voltage ripple and is significantly more efficient than your traditional motherboard VRM. Added bonus? It's 1/50th the size." Update: 05/14 01:22 GMT by U L : Reader AdamHaun comments: "They already have a test chip that they used to power a ~90W Xeon E7330 for four hours while it ran Linpack. ... Voltage ripple is less than 2mV. Peak efficiency per cell looks like ~76% at 8A. They claim hitting 82% would be easy..." and links to a presentation on the integrated VRM (PDF).
Nate the greatest writes "It looks like those 4 month old rumors are true. Amazon has confirmed today that they have bought Liquavista, a Netherlands based screen tech company. There's no info yet on how much Amazon paid to Samsung, but previous rumors suggested that the asking price was under $100 million. Amazon also isn't talking about how they plan to use the electrowetting screen tech, but many are assuming that a Color Kindle is in the works."
MojoKid writes "Is the world really ready to shift from native apps to HTML5 Web apps? Probably not, at least not in North America yet, but developing nations may see it differently. That's the hope with Firefox OS, a web-based operating system that's (in theory) a lot more open. Of course, one needs only look at Microsoft's battle to get Windows Phone into a place of competition to realize that gaining market share is no easy task, which is why Mozilla will soon be handing out Firefox OS developer phones in order to bolster that. The company's goal is to get app builders to build for Firefox OS, so Mozilla is sending out free Preview handsets for folks to tinker with."
In the U.S., subsidized phones are the norm: for post-paid, long-term contract use, getting a low up-front price on a phone is one of the few upsides. New submitter Apptopia writes "After T Mobile mostly did away with subsidized phone plans, the other major carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint) are paying attention. Carriers lose money with phone subsidies for high-end smartphones (particularly Apple's iPhone). If they do away with the subsidy, you will have to pay full retail price for phones, but your monthly bill will be lower." If people had a better idea what they were paying for, though, manufacturers might fight harder on price. There are lots of well-reviewed, multi-band, unlocked phones on Amazon and DealExtreme from lesser-known companies, and Nokia's new Asha 501 (though limited in many ways, including availability, having just launched in India) shows that the "smartphone" label can apply even to a sub- $100 phone.
An anonymous reader writes "With the personal robotics revolution imminent, a law professor and a roboticist (called Professor Smart!) argue that the law needs to think about robots properly. In particular, they say we should avoid 'the Android Fallacy' — the idea that robots are just like us, only synthetic. 'Even in research labs, cameras are described as "eyes," robots are "scared" of obstacles, and they need to "think" about what to do next. This projection of human attributes is dangerous when trying to design legislation for robots. Robots are, and for many years will remain, tools. ... As the autonomy of the system increases, it becomes harder and harder to form the connection between the inputs (your commands) and the outputs (the robot's behavior), but it exists, and is deterministic. The same set of inputs will generate the same set of outputs every time. The problem, however, is that the robot will never see exactly the same input twice. ... The problem is that this different behavior in apparently similar situations can be interpreted as "free will" or agency on the part of the robot. While this mental agency is part of our definition of a robot, it is vital for us to remember what is causing this agency. Members of the general public might not know, or even care, but we must always keep it in mind when designing legislation. Failure to do so might lead us to design legislation based on the form of a robot, and not the function. This would be a grave mistake."
CowboyRobot writes "Two researchers at San Francisco State University has successfully implemented hardware acceleration for realtime audio using graphics processing units (GPUs). 'Suppose you are simulating a metallic plate to generate gong or cymbal-like sounds. By changing the surface area for the same object, you can generate sound corresponding to cymbals or gongs of different sizes. Using the same model, you may also vary the way in which you excite the metallic plate — to generate sounds that result from hitting the plate with a soft mallet, a hard drumstick, or from bowing. By changing these parameters, you may even simulate nonexistent materials or physically impossible geometries or excitation methods. There are various approaches to physical modeling sound synthesis. One such approach, studied extensively by Stefan Bilbao, uses the finite difference approximation to simulate the vibrations of plates and membranes. The finite difference simulation produces realistic and dynamic sounds (examples can be found here). Realtime finite difference-based simulations of large models are typically too computationally-intensive to run on CPUs. In our work, we have implemented finite difference simulations in realtime on GPUs.'"
cylonlover writes "Millions of years have evolution has resulted in plants being the most efficient harvesters of solar energy on the planet. Much research is underway into ways to artificially mimic photosynthesis in devices like artificial leaves, but researchers at the University of Georgia are working on a different approach that gives new meaning to the term 'power plant.' Their technology harvests energy generated through photosynthesis before the plants can make use of it (abstract), allowing the energy to instead be used to run low-powered electrical devices."
DeviceGuru writes "Embedded Linux pioneer LinuxDevices.com departed from the web earlier this week. The site became a collateral casualty of the aquisition of eWEEK by Quinstreet in February 2012, as part of a bundle of Ziff Davis Enterprise assets. Quinstreet immediately fired all the LinuxDevices staffers and ceased maintaining the site. A few days ago, the site's plug was finally pulled and it is now gone from the Web, save for a few pages on the WayBack Machine. For more than a decade, LinuxDevices played a pivotal role in serving and fostering an emerging embedded Linux ecosystem, and it was well respected by the embedded Linux community at the time it was acquired by QuinStreet. Unfortunately, the site did not mesh well with QuinStreet's B2B market focus. Fortunately, its spirit remains alive and well at LinuxGizmos.com, a site recently launched by LinuxDevices founder Rick Lehrbaum."
recoiledsnake writes "The first real world stats for Chromebooks show that they're struggling to have any traction in the marketplace. In its first week of monitoring worldwide usage of Google's Chrome OS, NetMarketShare reported that the percentage of web traffic from Chromebooks was roughly 2/100 of 1 percent, a figure too small to earn a place on its reports. The first Chromebooks went on sale in June 2011, nearly two years ago, with Acer reportedly selling fewer than 5000 units in the first six months and Samsung selling even fewer. In the past three years, Chromebook sales have been worse than even three months worth of WindowsRT sales. Perhaps users are heeding Stallman's warning on Chromebooks. We previously discussed reports of Chromebook topping Amazon sales, selling to 2000 schools and wondered whether QuickOffice on ChromeOS can topple Microsoft Office." I find ChromeOS good in some contexts (any place that a browser and a thin layer of Linux is all you need), but the limitations are frustrating — especially on hardware that can run a conventional Linux as well as Google's specialized one. We'll watch for developments in the Google hardware world at next week's I/O conference.
PC Mag is one of several outlets reporting that the Kickstarter-funded Ouya Android game console has been delayed by a few weeks; the new target date for launch is June 25. Says the article "The delay does not affect early backers, who are still on track to receive their devices by month's end. Helping to meet that demand will be $15 million in funding, led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers." Also at CNET.
New submitter Mathieu Stephan writes "Hello everyone! Some people told me that my latest project might interest you. I'm not sure you publish this kind of projects, but here it goes. Basically, it is a small platform that recognizes whistles in order to switch on/off appliances. It will be obviously more useful for lighting applications: just walk in a room, whistle, and everything comes on. The project is open hardware, and all the details are published on my website." The linked video is worth watching for the hidden-camera footage alone: it would be hard to not keep playing with this sensor.
crookedvulture writes "Seagate and Toshiba both offer hybrid hard drives that manage their built-in flash caches entirely in firmware. WD has taken a different approach with its Black SSHD, which instead uses driver software to govern its NAND cache. The driver works with the operating system to determine what to store in the flash. Unfortunately, it's Windows-only. You can choose between two drivers, though. WD has developed one of its own, and Intel will offer a separate driver attached to its upcoming Haswell platform. While WD remains tight-lipped on the speed of the Black's mechanical portion, it's confirmed that the flash is provided by a customized SanDisk iSSD embedded on the drive. The iSSD and mechanical drive connect to each other and to the host system through a Serial ATA bridge chip, making the SSHD look more like a highly integrated dual-drive solution than a single, standalone device. With Intel supporting this approach, the next generation of hybrid drives appears destined to be software-based."
FIRST robots? And a good look at what goes into making a competitive robot? For that, Timothy went to Sehome High School in Bellingham, Washington, where members of their Seamonsters robotics team (AKA FIRST Robotics Competition team # 2605; it's a team number, not a date) gave him a good look at their robot's guts, along with showing him how it's controlled and how they organize the 25+ people who work to build and run their robot(s). If you're thinking about joining or starting a FIRST team, this video is essential viewing for you. It's also essential if you just like the idea of robots competing with each other at pyramid-climbing and Frisbee-style disc-throwing. Go, bots, go! Update: 05/08 22:16 GMT by T : Correction: I didn't go to the high school — much simpler, I met the robot creators (and their disk-chucking robot) at LinuxFest Northwest, where they had an impressive demo room set up.
An anonymous reader writes "ARM licensee Allwinner sold more application processors for tablet computers in 2012 than Intel and Qualcomm put together, according to this EE Times article that references market researcher Strategy Analytics. Overall one in five tablet processors was provided by a Chinese vendor in 2012, according to the article, partly because they sell chips at half the price of similarly specified chips from better known vendors."
First time accepted submitter ememisya writes "Ever thought it might be a good idea to store encrypted data in a QRCode video? Using this technique one could easily store 10GB of data to be available anywhere in the world, and completely free."
An anonymous reader writes with an update on the rapid adoption of BitTorrent Lab's Sync tool. From the article: "BitTorrent on Monday announced an impressive milestone for its file synchronization tool Sync: users have synced over 1PB of data. The company says over 70 terabytes are synced via the tool every day. BitTorrent first announced its Sync software back in January and released a private alpha. Between then and April 23, when the company release a public alpha, users synced over 200TB worth of data. In other words, over the past 13 days users have synced over 800TB of data. At this rate, the service will pass 10PB before even hitting a stable release."
crookedvulture writes "Since their debut five years ago, Intel's low-power Atom microprocessors have relied on the same basic CPU core. That changes with the next generation, which will employ an all-new Silvermont microarchitecture built using a customized version of Intel's tri-gate, 22-nm fabrication process. Silvermont ditches the in-order design of previous Atoms in favor of an out-of-order approach based on a dual-core module equipped with 1MB of shared L2 cache. The design boasts improved power sharing between the CPU and integrated graphics, allowing the CPU cores to scale up to higher speeds depending on system load and platform thermals. Individual cores can be shut down completely to provide additional clock headroom or to conserve power. Intel claims Silvermont doubles the single-threaded performance of its Saltwell predecessor at the same power level, and that dual-core variants have lower peak power draw and higher performance than quad-core ARM SoCs. Silvermont also marks the Atom's adoption of the 'tick-tock' update cadence that guides the development of Intel's Core processors. The successor to Silvermont will be built on 14-nm process tech, and an updated microarchitecture is due after that."
An anonymous reader writes "The students at Royal College of Art in London have developed masks that can increase your sight and hearing senses. They allow you to choose one conversation or one visual among a cluster of sounds and visuals, then hear or see the one which you want to. There are two masks developed by them: Eidos Vision and Eidos Audio. Eidos Audio allows a wearer to hear a specific conversation in a crowd and could be developed as a hearing aid and help ADHD sufferers. Eidos Vision improves vision allowing wearer to see 'time trails' similar to a timelapse photography."
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."