Lasrick writes "Princeton's Mark Gubrud has an excellent piece on the United States killer robot policy. In 2012, without much fanfare, the U.S. announced the world's first openly declared national policy for killer robots. That policy has been widely misperceived as one of caution, according to Gubrud: 'A careful reading of the directive finds that it lists some broad and imprecise criteria and requires senior officials to certify that these criteria have been met if systems are intended to target and kill people by machine decision alone. But it fully supports developing, testing, and using the technology, without delay. Far from applying the brakes, the policy in effect overrides longstanding resistance within the military, establishes a framework for managing legal, ethical, and technical concerns, and signals to developers and vendors that the Pentagon is serious about autonomous weapons.'"
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An anonymous reader writes "Last year, sci-fi author Neal Stephenson and a team of game developers set out to make video game swordfighting awesome. They set up a Kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of hardware and software tech that would make replace console controllers with something more realistic. Now, production on that tech and the game in which they showcase it has been halted. In an update on the Kickstarter page, Stephenson explains how they've sought other investments without success. The project is 'on pause,' and the team asks for patience. He says, 'The overall climate in the industry has become risk-averse to a degree that is difficult to appreciate until you've seen it. It is especially bemusing to CLANG team members who, by cheerfully foregoing other opportunities so that they could associate themselves with a startup in the swordfighting space, have already shown an attitude to career, financial, and reputational risk normally associated with the cast members of Jackass. To a game publisher crouched in a fetal position under a blanket, CLANG seems extra worrisome because it is coupled to a new hardware controller.'"
Rambo Tribble writes "As detailed by Ars Technica, Intel has introduced the Minnowboard, an SBC touted as more powerful and more open than the Raspberry Pi. At $199, it is also more expensive. Using an Atom processor, the new SBC boasts more capacity and x86-compatibility. 'It's notable that the MinnowBoard is an open hardware platform, a distinction that Arduino and BeagleBone can claim but Raspberry Pi cannot. Users could create their own MinnowBoards by buying the items on the bill of materials—all the design information is published, and CircuitCo chose components that can be purchased individually rather than in the bulk quantities hardware manufacturers are accustomed to, Anders said. Users can also buy a pre-made MinnowBoard and make customizations or create their own accessory boards to expand its capability. And being an open hardware platform means that the source code of (almost) all the software required to run the platform is open.'" Update: 09/20 22:31 GMT by T : Look soon for a video introduction to the MinnowBoard, and — hopefully not too long from now — a visit to their Dallas-area production facility.
mdsolar writes in with a story about the fallout from a nuclear plant closing on a small town in Maine. "In a wooded area behind a camouflage-clad guard holding an assault rifle, dozens of hulking casks packed with radioactive waste rest on concrete pads — relics of the shuttered nuclear plant that once powered the region and made this fishing town feel rich. In the 17 years since Maine Yankee began dismantling its reactors and shedding its 600 workers, this small, coastal town north of Portland has experienced drastic changes: property taxes have spiked by more than 10 times for the town's 3,700 residents, the number living in poverty has more than doubled as many professionals left, and town services and jobs have been cut. 'I have yet to meet anyone happy that Maine Yankee is gone,' said Laurie Smith, the town manager. 'All these years later, we're still feeling the loss of jobs, the economic downturn, and the huge tax increases.'"
cold fjord writes with this excerpt from Wired: "Most of what humanity knows about the outer planets came back to Earth on plutonium power. ... The characteristics of this metal's radioactive decay make it a super-fuel. ... there is no other viable option. Solar power is too weak, chemical batteries don't last, nuclear fission systems are too heavy. So, we depend on plutonium-238, a fuel largely acquired as by-product of making nuclear weapons. But there's a problem: We've almost run out. 'We've got enough to last to the end of this decade. That's it,' said Steve Johnson, a nuclear chemist at Idaho National Laboratory. And it's not just the U.S. reserves that are in jeopardy. The entire planet's stores are nearly depleted. ... what's left has already been spoken for and then some. ... Political ignorance and shortsighted squabbling, along with false promises from Russia, and penny-wise management of NASA's ever-thinning budget still stand in the way of a robust plutonium-238 production system." The plutonium shortage has been deepening for a long time, leading to some creative solutions. The Wired article alludes to the NASA project underway to create more, but leans toward gloom.
An anonymous reader writes "The openSUSE Linux distribution looks like it may be the first major Linux distribution to ship the Btrfs file-system by default. The openSUSE 13.1 release is due out in November and is still using EXT4 by default, but after that the developers are looking at having openSUSE using Btrfs by default on new installations. The Btrfs features to be enabled would be the ones the developers feel are data-safe."
vinces99 writes "It's becoming more common to have robots sub for humans to do dirty or sometimes dangerous work. But researchers are finding that, in some cases, people have started to treat robots like pets, friends or even as an extension of themselves. That raises a question: If a soldier attaches human or animal-like characteristics to a field robot, can it affect how they use the robot? What if they 'care' too much about the robot to send it into a dangerous situation? Julie Carpenter, who just received a doctorate in education from the University of Washington, wanted to find out. She interviewed Explosive Ordnance Disposal military personnel – highly trained soldiers who use robots to disarm explosives – about how they feel about the robots they work with every day. What she found is that troops' relationships with robots continue to evolve as the technology changes. Soldiers told her that attachment to their robots didn't affect their performance, yet acknowledged they felt a range of emotions such as frustration, anger and even sadness when their field robot was destroyed. That makes Carpenter wonder whether outcomes on the battlefield could potentially be compromised by human-robot attachment, or the feeling of self-extension into the robot described by some operators."
crookedvulture writes "Nvidia has already produced a gaming handheld based on its quad-core Tegra 4 SoC. Today, the company announced plans to build a 7" Tegra Note tablet that uses the same chip. Rather than selling the tablet itself, Nvidia will make the device available through parters like EVGA and PNY. Asking price: $199. That seems a little steep given the Tegra Note's 1280x800 display resolution, which delivers a much lower PPI than the 1080p panel in the latest Nexus 7. But the Tegra Note does have some perks, including front-facing speakers, Micro HDMI output, microSD expansion, and an optional stylus. The tablet also boasts a fancy camera that taps into the Tegra chip's photography engine. Nvidia promises to keep the device updated with the latest versions of Android, too. You can expect to see the Tegra Note for sale worldwide in the next few months."
iONiUM writes "Today the new Blackberry Z30 was announced today (release coming in the next 'few weeks'). It has a 4.97" 16:9 screen running at 720x1280. The CPU also got an upgrade, at 1.7Ghz. The news claims that the battery is a 2880maH with up to 25 hours of use. I'm not really convinced this is enough of a differentiation between the Z10 to save Blackberry, and as someone who owns a Z10 and Q10 (but uses an S3 instead), I don't see how this addresses any of the real issues Blackberry is facing, the biggest being a lack of apps."
Vigile writes "Multi-display gaming has really found a niche in the world of high-end PC gaming, starting when AMD released Eyefinity in 2009 in three-panel configurations. AMD expanded out to six-screen options in 2010 and NVIDIA followed shortly thereafter with a similar multi-screen solution called Surround. Over the last 12 months or so, GPU performance testing has gone through a sort of revolution as the move from software measurement to hardware capture measurement has taken hold. PC Perspective has done testing with this new technology on AMD Eyefinity and NVIDIA Surround configurations at 5760x1080 resolution and found there were some substantial anomalies in the AMD captures. The AMD cards exhibited dropped frames, interleaved frames (jumping back and forth between buffers) and even stepped, non-horizontal vertical sync tearing. The result is a much lower observed frame rate than software like FRAPS would indicate and these problems will also be found when using the current top-end, dual-head 4K PC displays since they emulate Eyefinity and Surround for setup."
Damek writes "The OpenZFS project launched today, the truly open source successor to the ZFS project. ZFS is an advanced filesystem in active development for over a decade. Recent development has continued in the open, and OpenZFS is the new formal name for this community of developers, users, and companies improving, using, and building on ZFS. Founded by members of the Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OS X, and illumos communities, including Matt Ahrens, one of the two original authors of ZFS, the OpenZFS community brings together over a hundred software developers from these platforms."
itwbennett writes with a link to a story you'll need to mentally upgrade from "expected to" to "just happened" about IBM's $1 billion dollar investment in Linux officially announced Tuesday morning at LinuxCon (the WSJ broke the story yesterday), by IBM VP Brad McCredie. IBM, says the linked article, will use all that money "to promote Linux development as it tries to adapt Power mainframes and servers to handle cloud and big data applications in distributed computing environments. The investment will fund Linux application development programs for IBM's Power servers and also be used to expand a cloud service where developers can write and test applications for Power servers before deployment. It will also facilitate software development around IBM's new Power8 chips, which will go into servers next year." It's not the only time that IBM has recently tossed around the B-word, and as Nick Kolakowski notes at Slash BI, it's also not the first time IBM has put that much money into Linux.
moon_unit2 writes "MIT Technology Review has a story about BMW's new collaborative final-assembly-line robots. The move could be significant in the ongoing automation of work, as robots have previously been incapable of doing such jobs, and too dangerous to work in close proximity to humans. Robots like the ones at BMW's South Carolina plant will also cooperate with human workers, by handing them a wrench when they need it. Perhaps the next big shift in labor could be robot-human collaboration."
Nate the greatest writes "Rumors are circulating that Barnes & Noble is going to release their new hardware soon. Two different sources inside B&N have confirmed that a launch is imminent, with one saying B&N will launch both a tablet and an ereader. The other says that a new tablet is coming. I tend to think that the first source is probably right because product pages for several accessories leaked in early August. The pages referenced 2 different new models. Also, B&N recently announced plans to continue to develop both new ereaders and tablets, though they've changed their minds so much that I don't know if that announcement is worth anything."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Damage from an explosion and fire in SK Hynix's Wuxi, China DRAM fabrication plant will drive up global memory prices for PCs, servers, and other devices, according to new reports. Most of the damage from the Sept. 4 fire was to the air-purification systems and roof of the plant, according to announcements from parent company SK Hynix, which predicted the fab would be back to full production in less than a month. The Wuxi plant makes approximately 10 percent of the world's supply of DRAM chips; its primary customers include Apple, Samsung, Lenovo, Dell and Sony. SK Hynix is the world's second-largest manufacturer of memory chips, with a market share of 30 percent, lagging behind Samsung Electronics with 32.7 percent. In an update published Friday, market-research firm DRAMeXchange reported that damage from the fire, smoke and power outages left at least half the plant inoperable or at reduced capacity. The plant is designed to isolate damage in case of disaster so that at least one of its two parallel production facilities can remain online. The facility itself restarted production Sept. 7, according to a statement from the company."
First time accepted submitter MrMagooAZ writes "An interesting article about a questionable reaction by FEMA in response to the flooding in Colorado. It seems a small firm was working free of charge with County officials to use drones to map the area and provide near-real-time maps of the flood damage. When FEMA took control of operations one of their first acts appears to have been to not only ground the drones, but threaten the operators. 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help you?'" The drone model in question has permits from the FAA to be flown around even. The drones were replaced with manned craft that, due to the terrain, where unable to fly low enough to make useful maps.
Zothecula writes "Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found a way to harvest energy from sunlight more efficiently, with the help of so-called plasmonic nanostructures. The new findings suggest that plasmonic components can enhance and direct optical scattering, creating a mechanism that is more efficient than the photoexcitation that drives solar cells. The development could therefore provide a real boost to solar cell efficiency and lead to faster optical communication."
An anonymous reader writes "A new report out of Oxford has found that the next 20 years will see 45% of America's workforce replaced by computerized automation. 'The authors believe this takeover will happen in two stages. First, computers will start replacing people in especially vulnerable fields like transportation/logistics, production labor, and administrative support. Jobs in services, sales, and construction may also be lost in this first stage. Then, the rate of replacement will slow down due to bottlenecks in harder-to-automate fields such engineering. This "technological plateau" will be followed by a second wave of computerization, dependent upon the development of good artificial intelligence. This could next put jobs in management, science and engineering, and the arts at risk.' 45% is a big number. Politicians have been yelling themselves hoarse over the jobs issue in this country for the past few years, and the current situation isn't anywhere near as bad. At what point will we start seeing legislation forbidding the automation of certain industries?"
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Researchers recently spent some time forcing dogs and robots to hang out together, in order to better understand the social qualities of interactive robots. The scientists had two objectives: to find out whether canines would interact with a robot and also to see whether they would ascribe social qualities to a non-living, non-human-like being. Dogs were divided into two groups: one would have a social interaction with the robot while the other would have an asocial interaction. They were allowed to watch their owners interact with the robot before meeting it themselves, which was then followed by a session wherein the canine subjects had to obey gestural cues from either a robot or a human. The robot purposely did not look human, save for its arms and gloved hand, as the researchers wanted to explore sociality apart from anthropoid features. As it turns out, dogs were interested in the robots, especially if the robots themselves were social and they saw owners interact with the robot, but ultimately were not as responsive or successful in following cues as they would otherwise be with humans."
MojoKid writes "Kirk Skaugen, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the PC Client Group at Intel, while on stage, at IDF this week snuck in some additional information about Broadwell, the 14nm follow up to Haswell that was mentioned during Brian Krzanich's opening day keynote. In a quick demo, Kirk showed a couple of systems running the Cinebench multi-threaded benchmark side-by-side. One of the systems featured a Haswell-Y processor, the other a Broadwell-Y. The benchmark results weren't revealed, but during the Cinebench run, power was being monitored on both systems and it showed the Broadwell-Y rig consuming roughly 30% less power than Haswell-Y and running fully loaded at under 5 watts. Without knowing clocks and performance levels, we can't draw many conclusion from the power numbers shown, but they do hint at Broadwell-Y's relative health, even at this early stage of the game."
judgecorp writes "Twelve men have been arrested over an attempt to take control of computers at a Santander bank branch in London using a stealthily planted KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) switch installed by a bogus maintenance engineer. The men were caught by the Metropolitan Police's Central e-Crimes Unit."
puddingebola writes "Perhaps influencing Microsoft's $7.2 billion acquisition, the New York Times is reporting that Nokia had an Android phone in development. From the article, 'A team within Nokia had Android up and running on the company's Lumia handsets well before Microsoft and Nokia began negotiating Microsoft's $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia's mobile phone and services business, according to two people briefed on the effort who declined to be identified because the project was confidential. Microsoft executives were aware of the existence of the project, these people said.' Perhaps Nokia feared they had put too many eggs in one basket? Whatever the case, the project is most likely dead at this point."
coop0030 writes "Adafruit has a new tutorial that will show you how to use your Raspberry Pi as a WiFi access point that blocks ads by default for any devices using it. This is really neat in that it would work for your Android or iOS device, your Xbox 360, TiVo, laptop, and more without needing to customize any of those devices other than to use your Raspberry Pi as the access point for WiFi. Using an ad-blocker can be useful for conserving bandwidth, helping out low-power devices, or for keeping your sanity while browsing the web!"
jfruh writes "Some melancholy news from the Hot Chips symposium last week: NAND memory, which powers the solid-state drives that have revolutionized storage, has broken the $1 per gigabyte barrier and isn't getting any cheaper. 'They will always be ten times the cost of a hard drive,' says analyst Jim Handy. There are newer technologies in development, but they won't be able to beat NAND on price for years."
DoctorBit writes "A team of researchers funded in part by the NSF has just published a paper in which they demonstrate a way to introduce hardware Trojans into a chip by altering only the dopant masks of a few of the chip's transistors. From the paper: 'Instead of adding additional circuitry to the target design, we insert our hardware Trojans by changing the dopant polarity of existing transistors. Since the modified circuit appears legitimate on all wiring layers (including all metal and polysilicon), our family of Trojans is resistant to most detection techniques, including fine-grain optical inspection and checking against "golden chips."' In a test of their technique against Intel's Ivy Bridge Random Number Generator (RNG) the researchers found that by setting selected flip-flop outputs to zero or one, 'Our Trojan is capable of reducing the security of the produced random number from 128 bits to n bits, where n can be chosen.' They conclude that 'Since the Trojan RNG has an entropy of n bits and [the original circuitry] uses a very good digital post-processing, namely AES, the Trojan easily passes the NIST random number test suite if n is chosen sufficiently high by the attacker. We tested the Trojan for n = 32 with the NIST random number test suite and it passed for all tests. The higher the value n that the attacker chooses, the harder it will be for an evaluator to detect that the random numbers have been compromised.'"
Lucas123 writes "On the news that Linus Torvalds's SSD went belly up while he was coding the 3.12 kernel, Computerworld took a closer look at SSDs and their failure rates. While Torvalds didn't specify the SSD manufacturer in his blog, he did write in a 2008 blog that he'd purchased an 80GB Intel SSD — likely the X25, which has become something of an industry standard for SSD reliability. While they may have no mechanical parts, making them preferable for mobile use, there are many factors that go into an SSD being reliable. For example, a NAND die, the SSD controller, capacitors, or other passive components can — and do — slowly wear out or fail entirely. As an investigation into SSD reliability performed by Tom's Hardware noted: 'We know that SSDs still fail.... All it takes is 10 minutes of flipping through customer reviews on Newegg's listings.' Yet, according to IHS, client SSD annual failure rates under warranty tend to be around 1.5%, while HDDs are near 5%. So SSDs not only outperform, but on average outlast spinning disks."
MojoKid writes "News from Intel (and Google) today includes an announcement that more Chromebooks are on their way to market packing Intel's Haswell processors. The new chips are designed to consume less power, thus preserving battery life for an all-day charge, while still offering better overall performance. Google notes that there are schools in over 20% of school districts across the country that now use Chromebooks, and with prices for some of the machines dipping as low as $199, deploying fleets of these machines in academia is an attractive option. What's interesting is the alignment between Intel and Google now, which should cause folks in Redmond to smart a bit, as yet another major competitor to the Windows operating system seems to clearly be coming into focus. Intel-Google partners including Acer, ASUS, HP, and Toshiba will be rolling out Chromebooks based on Haswell soon, and they'll collectively be sporting more variety of form factors."
awarrenfells writes "After a shareholder vote, Michael Dell is expected to buy out and take Dell Inc. private. This move comes in the wake of plans to move Dell into position as an enterprise computing provider, but some analysts state this move may have come too late, much of the target market being taken by IBM and HP already." Nerval's Lobster provides some more details at Slash Cloud: "[T]he final buyout price was $13.75 a share, which includes a 13-cent-a-share “special dividend.” All told, that puts the deal’s price at $24.9 billion. In order to reach this point, Dell and Silver Lake had to fend off activist investor Carl Icahn and investment firm Southeastern Asset Management, which made their own combined play for a restructured capitalization. In a series of public letters, Icahn argued that Dell’s privatization proposal undervalued the company, and—at least until the beginning of September—made it very clear that he was willing to fight things out in court. By convincing the shareholders that his plan is the best route forward, Dell avoids what could have devolved into a very protracted and messy battle. Michael Dell wants to focus the majority of the company’s efforts on services, essentially remaking it into a tech firm more along the lines of IBM."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Apple's iPhone 5S features a fingerprint scanner embedded in the home button. Of course, fingerprint-scanning technology isn't new: Bloomberg Terminals feature a built-in fingerprint reader to authenticate users, for example, and various manufacturers have experimented with laptops and smartphones that require a thumb to login. But the technology has thus far failed to become ubiquitous in the consumer realm, and it remains to be seen whether the new iPhone — which is all but guaranteed to sell millions of units — can popularize something that consumers don't seem to want. Security experts seem to be adopting a wait-and-see attitude with regard to Apple's newest trick. 'I'd caution right away, let's see how it tests and what people come up with to break it,' Brent Kennedy, an analyst with the U.S. Computer Emergency and Readiness Team, told Forbes. 'I wouldn't rely on it solely, just as I wouldn't with any new technology right off the bat.' And over at Wired, technologist Bruce Schneier is suggesting that biometric authentication could be hacked like anything else. 'I'm sure that someone with a good enough copy of your fingerprint and some rudimentary materials engineering capability — or maybe just a good enough printer — can authenticate his way into your iPhone,' he wrote. 'But, honestly, if some bad guy has your iPhone and your fingerprint, you've probably got bigger problems to worry about.'"
crookedvulture writes "Bay Trail has its first convertible design win. Intel's newest SoC will be available in Asus' Transformer Book T100, which combines a 10.1" Windows 8.1 tablet with a keyboard dock that includes a gesture-friendly touchpad and USB 3.0 connectivity. The tablet is powered by an Atom Z3740 processor with quad cores clocked at up to 1.8GHz—600MHz slower than the Z3770 chip benchmarked by the press. The screen has a relatively low 1366x768 resolution, but at least the IPS panel delivers wide viewing angles. Asus clearly intends the T100 to be an entry level device; the 32GB version is slated to sell for just $349, and the 64GB one will cost only 50 bucks more. Those prices include the keyboard dock and a copy of Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013. They also bring Windows 8 convertibles down to truly budget territory, completing the collision between tablets and netbooks."
An anonymous reader writes "The New York Times reports, 'For eight decades, Manson Whitlock kept the 20th century's ambient music going: the ffft of the roller, the ding of the bell, the decisive zhoop ... bang of the carriage return, the companionable clack of the keys. From the early 1930s until shortly before his death last month at 96, Mr. Whitlock, at his shop in New Haven, cared for the instruments, acoustic and electric, on which that music was played. Mr. Whitlock was often described as America's oldest typewriter repairman. He was inarguably one of the country's longest-serving. Over time he fixed more than 300,000 machines, tending manuals lovingly, electrics grudgingly and computers never. "I don't even know what a computer is," Mr. Whitlock told The Yale Daily News, the student paper, in 2010. "I've heard about them a lot, but I don't own one, and I don't want one to own me."'"
jones_supa writes "The sudden death of a solid-state drive in Linus Torvalds' main workstation has led to the work on the 3.12 Linux kernel being temporarily suspended. Torvalds has not been able to recover anything from the drive. Subsystem maintainers who have outstanding pull requests may need to re-submit their requests in the coming days. If the SSD isn't recoverable he will finish out the Linux 3.12 merge window from a laptop."
Vigile writes "Today at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, the company officially released the Atom Z3000 series of SoCs (Bay Trail) based on the Silvermont architecture. Unlike previous Atom designs, the Z3000 and Silvermont is a completely re-architected product from the ground up and is no longer based on legacy processors. Changes include a move to an out-of-order x86 architecture with drastically improved single threaded performance but the removal of Intel's HyperThreading technology. Dual-core modules with 1MB of shared cache can be paired up to create a quad-core SoC that also includes upgraded graphics design. Intel is no longer depending on PowerVR for a GPU and has integrated a 4 EU (execution unit) Intel HD Graphics design that is very similar to the one used in Ivy Bridge. As a result, as tested at PC Perspective in both Windows 8.1 and Android 4.2.2, the Bay Trail part is as much as 4x faster in single threaded tasks and 3.5x faster in gaming and graphics. Power consumption remains nearly the same as it did with Clover Trail (Atom Z2760) but with improved power gating and support for Connected Standby, Intel's new Atom looks and feels completely different than any before it." MojoKid notes that Intel also announced an "open" SoC architecture (where open involves you giving Intel tons of money).
New submitter Johnny G. Mills writes "During a gamejam (an event to quickly develop and build an interesting game), two members of Sassybot Studio used a projector, Microsoft Kinect, and two moving boxes to create a simulator for defusing a bomb. They used me as a test subject, and thought Slashdot would enjoy this convergence of tech and gaming. 'The wires generated in Bomb Defuse Simulator 2013 are created procedurally to provide the player with a random challenge each time the game is played. ... The controls in the game are split up into physical input and Xbox controller input. With physical input the player moves around the bomb to see what is happening. This is literally done by walking around the real environment ... In our case we projected onto cardboard boxes to prove the concept. In theory this concept can be applied to larger and more unconventional objects. Doing so will challenge the game designer with utilizing the real space in order to create a game in virtual space.'"
SmartAboutThings sends this excerpt from Technology Personalized: "Intel has started shipping the fourth generation Haswell chips for tablets, which brings power-efficient processors and hence much better battery life to Windows tablets. According to IDG, Intel has now started shipping new low-power, fourth-generation Core i3 processors, including one that draws as little as 4.5 watts of power in specific usage scenarios. These new Haswell processors could go into fanless tablets and laptop-tablet hybrids, bringing longer battery life to the devices. This is a great news for Windows lovers, who have had to sacrifice performance for battery life (and vice versa) until now. Now, with almost 50% better battery life as promised by Intel for Windows tablets, the OEMs have no real need to come out with Windows RT based tablets and hybrids anymore."
Lucas123 writes "At Disrupt this week, Ossia Inc. demonstrated for the first time its wireless charging technology that founder Hatem Zeine said has a 30-foot radius and, like WiFi, can charge through walls and 'around corners.' The technology, still in prototype phase, uses the same spectrum as other wireless standards, such as WiFi and Bluetooth. The Cota wireless charging system includes a charger and a receiver — either a dongle device or chip-tech integrated into a product, such as a smartphone or battery. While it has yet to be miniaturized, Zeine said the wireless technology will eventually be small enough to fit into a AAA battery or any portable electronic device. While the technology has wider industrial implications, as a consumer product, a charging unit will likely sell for around $100, he said."
crookedvulture writes "Seagate has begun shipping hard drives based on a new technology dubbed Shingled Magnetic Recording. SMR, as it's called, preserves the perpendicular bit orientation of current HDDs but changes the way that tracks are organized. Instead of laying out the tracks individually, SMR stacks them on top of each other in a staggered fashion that resembles the shingles on a roof. Although this overlap enables higher bit densities, it comes with a penalty. Rewrites compromise the data on the following track, which must be read and rewritten, which in turn compromises the data on the following track, and so on. SMR distributes the layered tracks in narrow bands to mitigate the performance penalty associated with rewrites. The makeup of those bands will vary based on the drive's intended application. We should see the first examples of SMR next year, when Seagate intends to introduce a 5TB drive with 1.25TB per platter. Traditional hard drives top out at 4TB and 1TB per platter right now."
Millions of Americans bought their first HDTVs between four and seven years ago, because that's when prices for 40" - 50" sets started dropping below $700. Those sets are obviously between four and seven years old now. Are new ones so much more wonderful that it's time to get a new HDTV? Not necessarily. Alfred Poor, long-time display technology expert and senior editor for aNewDomain, has some insight here, which he shares with us in today's video. There's obviously a lot more to discuss about TV technology advances (such as 3d) that we didn't get to today, so look forward to another discussion on this topic in two or three weeks.
Koookiemonster writes "Our company has many projects, each one with a folder on a Samba drive (Z:\). Our problem is syncing only the programmers' current projects (~30 at any time) between Z:\ and their C:\Projects\-folder on five Windows 7 laptops. If we sync the whole Z:\-drive, our projects folders would be filled with too many subfolders, making it difficult to navigate. The folders contain OpenPCS projects (PLC) and related files (Word, Excel, PDF documents); a common project folder is 50 MB. Is there any easy to use, low-budget sync software with scripting, so that we could e.g. only sync folders that exist locally?" (Read more details, below, of what Koookiemonster is looking for.)
DeviceGuru writes "On the eve of the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, AMD unveiled what it calls an ambidextrous embedded roadmap, based on a series of new system-on-chip (SoC) and accelerated processing unit (APU) products built from both ARM and x86 CPU cores. Planned for launch in 2014 are an ARM Cortex A57-based 'Hierofalcon' SoC, a 'Bald Eagle' APU using a new 'Streamroller' x86 CPU, a multi-core x86 'Steppe Eagle' APU, and an 'Adelaar' discrete Embedded Radion GPU. 'There are different customer needs in different segments of this market, from low-power to high-performance, Linux to Windows, and x86 to ARM,' commented Arun Iyengar, VP and general manager, of the AMD Embedded Solutions division." Update: 09/10 16:54 GMT by T : As Slash DataCenter notes, this roadmap includes an SoC aimed specifically at datacenters.
cold fjord writes "ZDNet reports, 'Seagate on Monday took the wraps off a hard drive designed for tablets that brings 7x the storage capacity of a 64GB device with the same performance as a Flash drive. The drive, the Seagate Ultra Mobile HDD, uses software to boost performance. The idea is that Android tablet manufacturers will use the Seagate drive, along with the company's mobile enablement kit and caching software, to up the storage. The 2.5-inch drive is 5 mm thin and weighs 3.3 ounces. As for capacity, the drive has 500GB---enough for 100,000 photos and 125,000 songs.' More at The Wall Street Journal."
mikejuk writes with some robot eye candy, in the form of this excerpt: "If you think its cool to video the unboxing of your latest mobile phone — think again. Unboxing a robot has a lot more going for it and reaches a whole new level of sci-fi realized. The Atlas robot is a standard humanoid robot to be used by competitors in the DARPA Robotics challenge. Built by Boston Dynamics, it is in the same line as Petman and BigDog. It is now being delivered to the labs that will take part and the temptation to make an unboxing video has been irresistible They arrive in plain of wooden crates as if they were auto parts. Next it is unwrapped and lifted out of its packing case using a crane. It looks black and threatening — just like a sci-fi movie but watch the videos and see."
theodp writes "Throwing some cold water on the buzz surrounding the Galaxy Gear Smartwatch launch, The New Yorker's Matt Buchanan questions how smart a watch can really be. Calling offerings like the Galaxy Gear useful but not the stuff of dreams and revolutions, Buchanan writes, 'So there remains a strange undercurrent of hope that somebody-Apple-will figure out, soon, some grander vision for wearable technology, transforming it from something that people have vaguely imagined into something people intensely desire. It did it for smartphones, once, and again, for tablets. The question that Apple has been charged with, since nobody has definitively answered it yet, is whether the lack of an invention that truly carries us beyond the last five hundred years of wrist-mounted technology is the result of a failure of imagination or simply a fact of nature-that a watch will always just be a watch, no matter how smart it might think it is.' So, will you be an early adopter and drink Samsung's or Sony's smartwatch Kool-Aid, wait to see what Apple comes up with, or hold out for a Windows Forearm Pad 8?"
MojoKid writes "Tesla CEO Elon Musk has more on his mind that just cars and 4,000 MPH Hyperloop transportation systems. He also tweeted his intention of developing a hand-manipulated holographic design engine and designing a rocket part with only hand gestures, finally printing the part in titanium." And now Musk has posted the video he promised showing off the design process: "Musk showed a wireframe of the rocket part, and he was able to rotate the 3D object on a screen with one hand, and with a second hand, he zoomed in and out, moved it around the screen, and spun the object around and "caught it"--all in the air. He moved on to manipulating an actual 3D CAD model and interacting with the software; you can see that he used a Leap Motion controller. Next, he shows off a 3D projection, a freestanding glass projection (Ironman style), and interacts with the model using the Oculus Rift. Finally, he prints the part in titanium with a 3D metal printer. Note that we don't actually see him design anything; the models he works with are already made. Still, it's exciting to see new ways of doing things come to life on screen."
An anonymous reader writes "Using a Lego Mindstorms set, a Mac, and optical character recognition, Austrian professor Peter Purgathofer created a makeshift ebook copier. From the article: 'It's sort of a combination of high tech meets low. The scanning is done by way of the Mac's iSight camera. The Mindstorms set does two things: Hits the page-advance button on the Kindle (it appears to be an older model, like the one in the picture above), then mashes the space bar on the Mac, causing it to take a picture.' Purgathofer calls the creation a 'reflection on the loss of long established rights.' Check out the Vimeo video for a demonstration."
jjslash writes "CPU cooling units are an often-overlooked but always important side of PC building, whether you're looking to overclock or you simply want a cool-running, silent system. It's also easy to get lost if you aren't an enthusiast who keeps tabs on the best options. TechSpot has rounded up 10 high-end CPU coolers (read: huge heatsinks) including top units from Noctua, Thermalright, Xigmatek, Silverstone and Thermaltake. If you're willing to spend the cash, they rate the Noctua NH-U14S as the best overall pick. For a tighter budget, the Thermalright offerings provide the best bang for your buck."
colinneagle writes with word of work done by researchers at Arizona State University, Delaware State University and GFS Technology Inc., who find that the multiple-picture sequence security option of Windows 8 suffers from various flaws -- some of them specific to a password system based on gestures, and some analogous to weaknesses in conventional passwords entered by keyboard. "The research found that the strength of picture gesture password has a 'strong connection' to how long a person spent setting up that password gesture. The most common gesture combination is three taps, meaning it took about 4.33 — 5.74 seconds to setup. Passwords with two circles and one line took the longest average input time of about 10.19 seconds. After studying why people choose certain categories of images, the most common gesture types and direction patterns in PGA passwords, the researchers developed an attack framework that is 'capable of cracking passwords on previously unseen pictures in a picture gesture authentication system.'"
UnknowingFool writes "For consumers who had hoped that Microsoft would greatly upgrade their recent entries into the tablet market, leaks and rumors have said that both machines will receive modest hardware changes. Surface Pro 2 will sport new Haswell processors which will increase battery life to 7 hours. RAM is expected to increase from 4GB to 8GB. Surface (formerly RT) will get Tegra 4 processors. The only other confirmed change will be new kickstands that have 2 positions instead of one."
mdsolar sends this quote from Bloomberg: "More than 50 years into the age of nuclear energy, one of the biggest growth opportunities may be junking old reactors. Entergy Corp. (ETR) said Aug. 27 it will close its 41-year-old Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in 2014, making the reactor the fifth unit in the U.S. marked for decommissioning within the past 12 months, a record annual total. Companies that specialize in razing nuclear plants and hauling away radioactive waste are poised to benefit. Disposal work is 'where companies are going to make their fortune,' Margaret Harding, an independent nuclear-industry consultant based in Wilmington, North Carolina, said in an phone interview. Contractors that are usually involved in building reactors ... 'are going to be looking very hard at the decommissioning side of it.' [T]he U.S. nuclear fleet of 104 units is shrinking, even as Southern Co. and Scana Corp. build two units each. ... During a reactor decommissioning, the plant operator transfers radioactive fuel rods to cooling pools and, ultimately, to so-called dry casks for storage. Workers clean contaminated surfaces by sandblasting, chemical sprays and hydrolasing, a process that involves high-pressure water blasts, according to King. 'You do get to a point that you need someone to come in that has the equipment and the technology to actually dismantle the components,' she said. 'That typically is hired out.'"
Lucas123 writes "A fire that engulfed portions of a major Hynix memory FAB in Wuxi, China earlier today did not do as much damage as reports originally claimed and the company said it expects to be back in production soon. According to a Hynix statement, the fire occurred during equipment installation at around 16:50 Korean time and it was extinguished in under two hours. The company said while published photos showed the FAB facility surrounded by smoke and engulfed in flames, 'the damage is not as severe as it seems as the smoke created was because the fire was concentrated in the air purification facilities that are linked to the rooftop of the fab.' The company also said that there is no material damage to the fab equipment in the clean room, and Hynix expects to resume operations in a short time period, so overall production and supply volume should not be 'materially affected.' Even so, the spot price of DRAM is expected to leap as a result of the news."