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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Input Devices

Researchers Create Mid-Air Haptic Feedback System For Touch Displays 62

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the annoys-small-animals dept.
Bismillah writes "University of Bristol researchers have come up with a way to make touch screens more touchy-feely so to speak, using ultrasound waves to produce haptic feedback. You don't need to touch the screen even, as the UltraHaptics waves can be felt mid-air. Very Minority Report, but cooler." The researchers built an ultrasonic transducer grid behind an acoustically transparent display. Using acoustic modeling of a volume above the screen, they can create multiple movable control points with varying properties. A Leap Motion controller was used to detect the hand movements.
Power

Fusion Reactor Breaks Even 429

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the wait'll-the-hippies-learn-it's-nuclear dept.
mysqlbytes writes "The BBC is reporting the National Ignition Facility (NIF), based at Livermore in California, has succeeded in breaking even — 'During an experiment in late September, the amount of energy released through the fusion reaction exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel — the first time this had been achieved at any fusion facility in the world.'"
Robotics

Cyborg Cockroach Sparks Ethics Debate 512

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the lightly-sand-the-carapace dept.
sciencehabit writes "A do-it-yourself neuroscience experiment that allows students to create their own 'cyborg' insects is sparking controversy amongst scienitsts and ethicists. RoboRoach #12 is a real cockroach that a company called BackyardBrains ships to school students. The students fit the insect with a tiny backpack, which contains electrodes that feed into its antennae and receive signals by remote control — via the Bluetooth signals emitted by smartphones. A simple swipe of an iPhone can turn the insect left or right. Though some scientists say the small cyborg is a good educational tool, others say it's turning kids into psychopaths." Fitting the backpack requires poking a hole in the roach's thorax and clipping its antennae to insert electrodes.
Cellphones

LG Announces Mass Production of Flexible OLED Phone Displays 123

Posted by samzenpus
from the try-and-break-it dept.
Zothecula writes "LG today announced that it is to start mass producing flexible OLED display panels for smartphones. The company says that its technology uses plastic substrates rather than glass, and claims that a protective film on the back of the display makes it 'unbreakable' as well as bendable."
United States

US Now Produces More Oil and Gas Than Russia and Saudi Arabia 416

Posted by samzenpus
from the black-gold dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Claudia Assis writes that the US will end 2013 as the world's largest producer of petroleum and natural gas, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia with the Energy Information Administration estimating that combined US petroleum and gas production this year will hit 50 quadrillion British thermal units, or 25 million barrels of oil equivalent a day, outproducing Russia by 5 quadrillion Btu. Most of the new oil was coming from the western states. Oil production in Texas has more than doubled since 2010. In North Dakota, it has tripled, and Oklahoma, New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah have also shown steep rises in oil production over the same three years, according to EIA data. Tapping shale rock for oil and gas has fueled the US boom, while Russia has struggled to keep up its output. 'This is a remarkable turn of events,' says Adam Sieminski, head of the US Energy Information Administration. 'This is a new era of thinking about market conditions, and opportunities created by these conditions, that you wouldn't in a million years have dreamed about.' But even optimists in the US concede that the shale boom's longevity could hinge on commodity prices, government regulations and public support, the last of which could be problematic. A poll last month by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that opposition to increased use of fracking rose to 49% from 38% in the previous six months. 'It is not a supply question anymore,' says Ken Hersh. 'It is about demand and the cost of production. Those are the two drivers."'"
Cellphones

Leaked Manual Reveals Details On Google's Nexus 5 177

Posted by timothy
from the leaked-with-big-old-air-quotes dept.
Features of Google's next Nexus phone have finally been outed, along with confirmation that the phone will be built by LG, as a result of a leaked service manual draft; here are some of the details as described at TechCrunch: "The new Nexus will likely be available in 16 or 32GB variants, and will feature an LTE radio and an 8-megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilization (there’s no mention of that crazy Nikon tech, though). NFC, wireless charging, and that lovely little notification light are back, too, but don’t expect a huge boost in longevity — it’s going to pack a sealed 2,300mAh battery, up slightly from the 2100mAh cell that powered last year’s Nexus 4. That spec sheet should sound familiar to people who took notice of what happened with the Nexus 4. Just as that device was built from the foundation laid by the LG Optimus G, the Nexus 5 (or whatever it’s going to be called) seems like a mildly revamped version of LG’s G2."
Cellphones

No Love From Ars For Samsung's New Smart Watch 236

Posted by timothy
from the too-little-too-early dept.
Despite the number of companies shipping or promising them, smart watches aren't the easiest sell, and Ars Technica's review of Samsung's entry illustrates why. Despite all the processing power inside, the watch is "sluggish" even for the kind of at-a-glance convenience features that are touted as the reason to have a phone tethered to an (even smarter) phone, and for the most part seems to weakly imitate features already found on that phone. There are a few features called out as cool, like a media control app, but for the most part reviewer Rob Amadeo finds little compelling in the Galaxy Gear.
Businesses

Microsoft Makes Another "Nearly Sold Out" Claim For the Surface Line 262

Posted by timothy
from the superficial-seems-about-right dept.
Microsoft made some confident sounding claims about sales of its first-generation Surface tablets before it became clear that the tablets weren't actually selling very well. So make what you will of the company's claim that the second version is "close to selling out." As the linked article points out, the company has "fallen short of offering any real explanation as to just how “close” to selling out the Surface 2 and Pro 2 really are – nor have they indicated how many were on hand to order in the first place."
Robotics

Boston Dynamics Wildcat Can Gallop — No Strings Attached 257

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-hear-that-sound-run dept.
Boston Dynamics has been making eye-catching (and sort of creepy) military-oriented robots for several years, and we've noted several times the Big Dog utility robot. The newest creation is the untethered, gas-powered Wildcat; this is definitely not something I want chasing after me. (Not as fast as the previous, tethered version — yet.)
Education

The Era of Young Innovators: Looking Beyond Universities To Source Talents 86

Posted by timothy
from the yeah-but-can-you-sign-a-contract? dept.
New submitter billylo writes "Tech heavy industries are constantly looking for new sources of innovations. But where are the best place to find them? Increasingly, businesses are looking beyond universities and source ideas from savvy high schoolers. Cases in point: High school programming team finished in the Top 5 of MasterCard's NXT API challenge (3rd one down the list) last weekend in Toronto; Waterloo's Computing Contest high-school level winners [PDF] tackled complex problems like these [PDF]; the FIRST robotics competition requires design, CAD, manufacturing and programming all done by high schoolers. Do you have other good examples on how to encourage high schoolers to become young innovators? Do you have any other successful examples?"
XBox (Games)

Microsoft Exec Says Xbox One Kinect Is Not Built For Advertising 75

Posted by timothy
from the more-to-come-next-time-around dept.
MojoKid writes "Among the various SNAFUs and PR misfires related to the Xbox One release earlier this year, one item that had people upset was that Kinect would be used for advertising--or worse, that the Xbox One Kinect was actually designed with advertising in mind. The source was a UI designer who was expounding the capabilities of the Kinect and how it could be used to deliver interactive ads and used for native advertising. However, Microsoft Director of Product Planning Albert Penello threw cold water on much of it. 'First--nobody is working on that,' he said. 'We have a lot more interesting and pressing things to dedicate time towards.' He also stated that if Microsoft were to engage in something along those lines, users would definitely have control over it, meaning that Kinect would not be spying on you; you would have to engage with Kinect for anything to happen."
Wireless Networking

Ask Slashdot: Best Open Source Project For a Router/Wi-Fi Access Point? 193

Posted by timothy
from the what's-the-nsa's-least-favorite dept.
An anonymous reader writes "My wireless router just died. I have an old netbook lying around that has a wired network interface and a wireless one. The wireless card is supported in master mode by Linux, FreeBSD, and OpenBSD. What does Slashdot recommend I use to turn it into a router/wireless access point? DD-WRT? pfSense? Smoothwall? Fedora/Ubuntu/OpenBSD with a manual configuration? I'm not afraid of getting my hands dirty and I know what I'm doing, but I want as close to zero maintenance as possible."
Graphics

Nvidia Removed Linux Driver Feature For Feature Parity With Windows 237

Posted by timothy
from the leveling-the-playing-the-field dept.
RemyBR writes "Softpedia points to a Nvidia Developer Zone forum post revealing that the company has removed a specific Linux feature as of the v310 drivers due to the Windows platform. A BaseMosaic user on Ubuntu 12.04 noticed a change in the number of displays that can be used simultaneously after upgrading from the v295 drivers to v310. Another user, apparently working for Nvidia, gave a very troubling answer: 'For feature parity between Windows and Linux we set BaseMosaic to 3 screens.'"
Power

Owner of Battery Fire Tesla Vehicle: Car 'Performed Very Well, Will Buy Again' 232

Posted by timothy
from the go-ahead-touch-the-cornballer dept.
cartechboy writes "The Tesla Model S fire that, to date, is either electric car Armageddon or 'no big deal' has been fun Internet theatre combined with a dose of crowd-sourced battery-pack pseudo-expertise. Now the actual car owner (and Tesla investor) weighs in with his take, which is, basically, 'nothing to see here and yes, I can't wait to get back into a Tesla.' Owner Robert Carlson wrote an email in response to contact by Tesla's vice president of sales and service, Jerome Guillen, saying he found the car had 'performed very well under such an extreme test. The batteries went through a controlled burn which the Internet images really exaggerates.' Carlson had no comment on the guy who videoed his car fire, who is now Internet infamous for shooting video in portrait mode." You can read Elon Musk's take, along with Carlson's correspondence.
Linux

Linux-capable Arduino TRE Debuts At Maker Faire Rome 47

Posted by timothy
from the increasing-power dept.
DeviceGuru writes "At the Maker Faire Rome this week, Arduino announced a next-generation Arduino single board computer featuring a dual-processor architecture, and able to run a 'full Linux OS', in contrast to the lightweight OpenWRT Linux variant (Linino) buried inside the Yun's Atheros WiFi module. The Arduino TRE features a 1GHz 32-bit TI Sitara AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 SoC for running Linux software, plus an 8-bit Atmel ATmega MCU for AVR-compatible control of expansion modules (aka shields). The TRE's Sitara subsystem includes HDMI video, 100Mbps Ethernet, and 5 USB 2.0 ports, and is claimed to provide up to 100X the performance the Arduino Leonardo and Uno boards. Interestingly, the TRE's development reportedly benefited from close collaboration between Arduino and the BeagleBoard.org foundation."
Intel

Steam Machine Prototypes Use Intel CPUs, NVIDIA GPUs 187

Posted by Soulskill
from the as-long-as-i-can-play-quake-3-on-my-tv dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Valve has revealed their first Steam Machines prototype details. The first 300 Steam Machine prototypes to ship will use various high-end Intel CPUs and NVIDIA GPUs while running their custom SteamOS Linux distribution. The Intel Haswell CPU + NVIDIA GPU combination should work well on Linux with the binary drivers. Using a range of CPUs/GPUs in the prototypes will allow them to better gauge the performance and effectiveness. Valve also said they will be releasing the CAD design files to their custom living room console enclosure for those who'd like to reproduce them." Valve is careful to point out that these specs aren't intended as a standard: "[T]o be clear, this design is not meant to serve the needs of all of the tens of millions of Steam users. It may, however, be the kind of machine that a significant percentage of Steam users would actually want to purchase — those who want plenty of performance in a high-end living room package. Many others would opt for machines that have been more carefully designed to cost less, or to be tiny, or super quiet, and there will be Steam Machines that fit those descriptions."
Intel

Intel Launches 'Galileo,' an Arduino-Compatible Mini Computer 130

Posted by Soulskill
from the catholic-church-not-a-fan dept.
MojoKid writes "Although Intel is Chipzilla, the company can't help but extend its reach just a bit into the exciting and growing world of DIY makers and hobbyists. Intel announced its Galileo development board, a microcontroller that's compatible with Arduino software and uses the new Quark X1000 processor (400MHz, 32-bit, Pentium-class, single- core and thread) that Intel announced at the IDF 2013 keynote. The board makes use of Intel's architecture to make it easy to develop for Windows, Mac, and Linux, but it's also completely open hardware (PDF). Galileo is 10cm x 7cm (although ports protrude a bit beyond that), and there are four screw holes for secure mounting. Ports include 10/100 Ethernet, USB client/host ports, RS-232 UART and 3.5mm jack, mini PCIe slot (with USB 2.0 host support); other features include 8MB Legacy SPI Flash for firmware storage, 512KB embedded SRAM, 256MB DRAM, 11KB EEPROM programmed via the EEPROM library, and support for an additional 32GB of storage using a microSD card."
Robotics

MIT Researchers Unveil Self-Assembling Robot Swarm 55

Posted by Soulskill
from the resistance-is-futile dept.
MIT research scientist John Romanishin, along with professor Daniela Rus and postdoc Kyle Gilpin, have demonstrated a swarm of modular robots with the ability to self-assemble into larger shapes. The individual robots are small and cubical, but they contain a flywheel capable of spinning at 20,000 rpm. By spinning up the flywheel and then braking abruptly, the robots use angular momentum to jump into different positions. Magnets on the edges of the cube guide them into alignment. The researchers hope to be able to shrink the cubes even further, but they think a "refined version of their system could prove useful even at something like its current scale. Armies of mobile cubes could temporarily repair bridges or buildings during emergencies, or raise and reconfigure scaffolding for building projects. They could assemble into different types of furniture or heavy equipment as needed. And they could swarm into environments hostile or inaccessible to humans, diagnose problems, and reorganize themselves to provide solutions." The cubes could also be packed with sensors, batteries, or other technologies.
Robotics

Unmanned 'Terminator' Robots Kill Jellyfish 149

Posted by samzenpus
from the it-can't-be-reasoned-with dept.
First time accepted submitter starr802 writes "Scientists from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon, South Korea, have developed a 'jellyfish terminator' robot set out to detect the marine coelenterate and kill it. Scientists started developing the robots three years ago after South Korea experienced jellyfish attacks along its southwest coast, where they clogged fishing nets and ate fish eggs and plankton, Discovery News reports. The Jellyfish Elimination Robotic Swarm or JEROS has two motors that let it move forward, backwards and rotate at 360 degrees." In related news, the Oskarshamn nuclear plant in southeastern Sweden was shut down recently after moon jellyfish overwhelmed the screens and filters in cooling pipes."
Data Storage

SSHDs Debut On the Desktop With Mixed Results 154

Posted by timothy
from the getcher-bits-in-a-row dept.
crookedvulture writes "Seagate's solid-state hybrid drives have finally made it to the desktop. The latest generation of SSHDs debuted with a 2.5" notebook model that was ultimately hampered by its slow 5,400-RPM spindle speed. The Desktop SSHD has the same 8GB flash payload and Adaptive Memory caching scheme. However, it's equipped with 2TB of much faster 7,200-RPM mechanical storage. The onboard flash produces boot and load times only a little bit slower than those of full-blown SSDs. It also delivers quicker response times than traditional hard drives. That said, the relatively small cache is overwhelmed by some benchmarks, and its mechanical sidekick isn't as fast as the best traditional hard drives. The price premium is a little high, too: an extra $30 for the 1TB model and $40 for the 2TB variant, which is nearly enough to buy a separate 32GB SSD. Seagate's software-independent caching system works with any operating system and hardware platform, so it definitely has some appeal. But dual-drive setups are probably the better solution for most desktop users."
Hardware Hacking

Tour Houston's Texas-Sized Hackerspace (Video 1 of 2) 57

Posted by timothy
from the power-tools-make-me-quiver-with-joy dept.
That things are bigger in Texas is sometimes more than just a cliche. A few weeks ago, on the way to LinuxCon, I stopped by what is certainly the biggest hackerspace that I've ever seen; is it the biggest in the world? Whatever the answer is to that, Houston's TX/RX Labs is not just big — it's busy, and booked. Unlike some spaces we've highlighted here before (like Seattle's Metrix:CreateSpace and Brooklyn's GenSpace), TX/RX Labs has room and year-round sunshine enough to contemplate putting a multi-kilowatt solar array in the backyard. Besides an array of CNC machines, 3-D printers, and both wood- and metal-working equipment, TX/RX has workbenches available for members to rent. (These are serious workspaces, made in-house of poured concrete and welded steel tubing.) Member Steve Cameron showed me around, but TX/RX Labs is so large that we broke the tour into two parts, with the other one set to display next week.
Bug

Tesla Model S Catches Fire: Is This Tesla's 'Toyota' Moment? 388

Posted by timothy
from the electric-boogaloo dept.
cartechboy writes "A Tesla Model S was involved in an accident in Washington state on Tuesday, and the car's battery pack caught fire (with some of it caught on video). The cause of the accident is pretty clear, and Tesla issued a statement that the vehicle hit 'a large metallic object in the middle of the road.' Whether that collision immediately set off a fire in the Model S's battery pack isn't known, but a report from the Regional Fire Authority of Kent, Washington went into detail on the battery pack fire saying the car's lithium-ion battery was on fire when firefighters arrived, and spraying water on it had little effect. Firefighters switched to a dry chemical extinguisher and had to puncture numerous holes into the battery pack to extinguish it completely. Aside from the details of how the battery fire happened and was handled, the big question is what effect it will have on how people view Teslas in the near and middle-term. Is this Tesla's version of 2010's high profile Prius recall issue where pundits and critics took the opportunity to stir fears of the cars new technology?"
Hardware

Finding a Tech Museum For Your Beloved Retired Computer(s) 78

Posted by timothy
from the do-you-need-a-receipt? dept.
First time accepted submitter Daniel Dern writes "There may be a better home than your basement or recycling for those beloved computers you once built and/or used — like one of the many tech-collecting/displaying museums. My ComputerWorld article, '9 museums that want your legacy tech,' looks at nine institutions that might — be sure to ask, don't just drop on their doorsteps after hours — want some of them. (Probably not everything you've got, alack.)" Look soon for a Slashdot video visit to the Goodwill Computer Museum, one of the collections mentioned.
Power

Charge Your Mobile Device With Fire 126

Posted by samzenpus
from the burn-it-up dept.
Iddo Genuth writes "If you love to go on camping trips and want to charge your mobile phone, tablet or even camera there is a new solution on the way which can do that anywhere day or night and all you need to do is light a little fire and have a few drops of water. The FlameStower efficiently captures excess heat from a gas burner or campfire to charge almost any USB-powered device: cell phones, GPS units and even cameras by using the thermal deferential between the fire and water and the whole thing is already collecting money on Kickstarter (and if you are really handy you can even make a DIY version yourself)."
Data Storage

Dead Drops P2P File Sharing Spreads Around Globe 174

Posted by Soulskill
from the will-someday-enable-a-revolution-in-dystopia dept.
Lucas123 writes "After beginning as an art project 3 years ago in Manhattan to thwart government online spying and offer a physical depiction of our digitally-connected society, a trend of embedding USB thumb drives in walls has caught on and spread to every continent but Antarctica. Dead Drops, as the anonymous P2P files sharing network is called, now has more than 1,200 locations worldwide and has morphed as participants have become more creative in not only where they place the drives, but how they share files, including creating WiFi locations. The thumb drives, which range in size from a few megabytes to 60GB, have allowed people to share music, video, personal photos, poetry, political discourse, or artwork anonymously. Dead Drops creator, German artist Aram Bartholl, said the project is a way to 'un-cloud' file sharing."
Japan

Japan's Nuclear Refugees, Still Stuck In Limbo 78

Posted by Soulskill
from the moving-at-the-speed-of-bureaucracy dept.
mdsolar tips this story at the NY Times: "Every month, Hiroko Watabe, 74, returns for a few hours to her abandoned house near the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant to engage in her own small act of defiance against fate. She dons a surgical mask, hangs two radiation-measuring devices around her neck and crouches down to pull weeds. She is desperate to keep her small yard clean to prove she has not given up on her home, which she and her family evacuated two years ago after a 9.0 earthquake and a tsunami devastated the plant five miles away. Not all her neighbors are willing to take the risk; chest-high weeds now block the doorways of their once-tidy homes. 'In my heart, I know we can never live here again,' said Ms. Watabe, who drove here with her husband from Koriyama, the city an hour away where they have lived since the disaster. 'But doing this gives us a purpose. We are saying that this is still our home.' While the continuing environmental disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has grabbed world headlines — with hundreds of tons of contaminated water flowing into the Pacific Ocean daily — a human crisis has been quietly unfolding. Two and a half years after the plant belched plumes of radioactive materials over northeast Japan, the almost 83,000 nuclear refugees evacuated from the worst-hit areas are still unable to go home."
Power

Japanese Start-up Plans Hydrogen Fuel Cell For 2014 55

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the 1996-here-we-come dept.
angry tapir writes "A Japanese start-up says it has finessed a technology that could finally make consumer-grade fuel cells a reality. If successful, the company, Aquafairy, would create a business where many much larger companies have failed. Prototypes of the company's hydrogen fuel cell technology are on show this week at the Ceatec exhibition in Japan where the company's president, Mike Aizawa, said he hopes the first products will be on sale next year."
Power

New Threat To Seaside Nuclear Plants, Datacenters: Jellyfish 123

Posted by Soulskill
from the filming-is-underway-on-jellyfishnado dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "One of the largest nuclear-power plants in the world was forced to shut down temporarily Sept. 29, after pipes that bring Baltic Sea water in to cool the plant's turbines became clogged with tons of jellyfish. The sudden influx of common moon jellyfish overwhelmed the screens and filters that keep flotsam and most sea life out of the Oskarshamn nuclear plant in southeastern Sweden. The plant was forced to shut down its No. 3 reactor – the largest boiling-water reactor in the world, which generates 1,400 megawatts of electricity when it is jellyfish-free and running at full power. The reactor stayed down until early Oct. 1, after the jellyfish had been cleared out and engineers approved the cooling system as invertebrate-free. It's not easy to overwhelm the cooling system for a nuclear power plant, but Oskarshamn's is unusually resilient. There is a separate intake- and cooling system for each reactor, all of which were designed for the brackish, polluted water in that area of the Baltic Sea. Most datacenters are too far inland to worry about jellyfish in their cooling water, though green-IT-promoters Vertatique estimated that a 5,000-sq.-ft. datacenter would consume almost 9 million gallons of water for cooling. That means ocean-side datacenters that use sea water for cooling (such as Google's datacenter in Hamina, Finland — also on the Baltic Sea) are just as susceptible to jellyfish attacks as nuclear power plants."
Hardware

Bypassing US GPS Limits For Active Guided Rockets 126

Posted by timothy
from the use-for-good-not-for-evil dept.
Kristian von Bengtson writes with a link to a short guest post at Wired with an explanation of how his amateur rocket organization Copenhagen Suborbitals managed to obtain GPS receivers without U.S. military limits for getting accurate GPS information at altitude. Mostly, the answer is in recent relaxations of the rules themselves, but it was apparently still challenging to obtain non-limited GPS hardware. "I expect they only got the OK to create this software modification for us," von Bengston writes, "since we are clearly a peaceful organization with not sinister objectives – and also in a very limited number of units. Basically removing the limits is a matter of getting into the hardware changing the code or get the manufacturers to do it. Needless to say, diplomacy and trust is the key to unlock this."
Input Devices

Captain Cyborg Is Back! Kevin Warwick Predicts the Future 57

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the all-hail-the-new-flesh dept.
richi writes "Kevin Warwick: His name raises extremes of opinion. For more than a decade, this highly controversial cybernetics professor has been making waves. His high-profile experiments — and even higher-profile claim that he's the first living cyborg — earned him column inches and unflattering nicknames. In this Forbes interview, 'Captain Cyborg' talks about exploding motorcycles, wireless power, and fish and chips."
Robotics

Students Build Ship Inspecting Robot 47

Posted by samzenpus
from the ballast-bot dept.
First time accepted submitter Hallie Siegel writes "A team of students from ETH Zurich and ZHdK have developed a prototype for a robotic ship inspection unit that is capable of conducting visual inspections of ship ballasts. Ballast inspection – which involves navigating hard-to-reach spots with no line of sight, often in the presence of intense heat, humidity, and hazardous gases – is normally done by human inspectors, and represents a significant cost to ship-owners who must pay for dry-docking and who face lost income when they cannot operate their ships during the inspection period. Because robotic ship inspection can occur while the ship is in operation, it could significantly reduce dry-dock time. The Ship Inspection Robot (SIR), which was developed in conjunction with Alstom Inspection Robotics and which uses magnetic wheels to navigate the I-beams and other awkward obstacles found inside ship ballast, is relatively compact and does not require any cables for power or communication, and thus offers significant mobility improvements over other robotic ship inspection prototypes. Project leaders anticipate that a per unit production cost could be as low as €4K, enabling shipping companies to operate several units in parallel as an additional time-saving measure."
Input Devices

The Difference Between Film and Digital Photography (Video) 182

Posted by Roblimo
from the photographer-matters-more-than-the-camera dept.
Sally Wiener Grotta and her husband Daniel wrote some of the first books and articles about digital photography. Sally was an award-winning photographer in film days, and has maintained her reputation in the digital imaging age. In this interview, she talks about how to buy a digital camera -- including the radical idea that most people really don't need to spend more than $200 to take quality photos. (We had some bandwidth problems while doing this remote interview, but the sound is clear so we decided to run it "as is" rather than try to remake the video and lose the original's spontaneity.)
The Almighty Buck

Central New York Nuclear Plants Struggle To Avoid Financial Meltdown 270

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-the-lights-on dept.
mdsolar writes "As recently as four years ago, nuclear power companies were planning to spend billions of dollars to build a new reactor in Oswego County, alongside three existing nuclear plants. Then the bottom fell out. Natural gas-burning power plants that benefit from a glut of cheap gas produced by hydrofracking cut wholesale electricity prices in half. Now the outlook for nuclear power plants is so bleak that Wall Street analysts say one or more Upstate nuclear plants could go out of business if conditions don't change. Two Upstate nukes in particular — the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego County and the R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant in nearby Wayne County — are high on the watch list of plants that industry experts say are at risk of closing for economic reasons."
Cellphones

EU Committee Votes To Make All Smartphone Vendors Utilize a Standard Charger 415

Posted by Soulskill
from the which-will-surely-go-into-effect-in-a-timely-manner dept.
Deathspawner writes "The EU has been known to make a lot of odd decisions when it comes to tech, but one committee's latest vote is one that most people will likely agree with: Standardized smartphone chargers. If passed, this decision would cut down on never having the right charger handy, but as far as the EU is concerned, this is all about a reduction of waste. The initial vote went down on Thursday, and given its market saturation, it seems likely that micro USB would be the target standard. Now, it's a matter of waiting on the EU Parliament to make its vote."
Robotics

Robotic Boat Hits 1,000-Mile Mark In Transatlantic Crossing 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-only-christopher-columbus-had-an-arduino-and-GPS dept.
toygeek writes "'Scout,' a 4-meter-long autonomous boat built by a group of young DIYers, is attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean. It is traveling from Rhode Island, where it launched on 24 August, to Spain, where all being well it will arrive in a few months' time. Scout has now gone about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) of its planned 3,700-mile (5,900 kilometer) journey. Should it complete this voyage successfully, its passage will arguably belong in the history books."
Input Devices

What Valve's Announcements Mean for Gaming 182

Posted by Soulskill
from the steam-team's-dream-stream dept.
Now that we have the full picture of Valve's efforts to bring PC gaming to the living room (SteamOS, dedicated hardware, and a fresh controller design), people are starting to analyze what those efforts will mean for gaming, and what Valve must do to be successful. Eurogamer's Oli Welsh points out that even if Steam Machines aren't able to take the market away from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, they put us a step closer to the final console generation. "Valve has hopefully sidestepped the most depressing aspect of console gaming: the enforced obsolescence that makes you consign your entire games collection to a dusty cupboard every five years." GamesRadar notes that Valve's approach is fundamentally different from that of the current console manufacturers because it's about putting more power into the hands of the users. "The takeaway from SteamOS, then, is that openness breeds innovation. Valve's putting the very source code of its operating system in the hands of everyone who wants it just to see what happens. Comparatively, Microsoft is pushing its Windows Store, turning Windows into an increasingly closed platform (i.e. one that charges costly development licensing fees and restricts access to certain content providers)." Everyone's curious to see how the controller will perform, so Gamasutra and Kotaku reached out to a number of game developers who have experimented with prototypes already. "[Dan Tabar of indie studio Data Realms] said the configuration map for the controller allows you to do 'pretty much anything.' For example, developers can slice up a pad into quarters, each one representing a different input, or even into eight radial sections, again, each section representing whatever you want, mapping to key combinations, or to the mouse." Tommy Refenes, co-creator of Super Meat Boy, wrote an in-depth description of his experience with the device. He summed up his reaction by saying, "Great Start, needs some improvements, but I could play any game I wanted with it just fine."
Input Devices

Valve Announces Steam Controller 317

Posted by Soulskill
from the long-awaited-innovation dept.
Today Valve unveiled their third and final announcement about living room gaming: a Steam controller. The company made the determination that existing gamepads simply weren't good enough for bringing PC games to the living room, so they made their own. Instead of having directional pads or thumb sticks, the Steam controller has two circular trackpads. The trackpads are also clickable, and Valve claims they provide much higher fidelity than any previous controller trackpad. Valve also eschewed the traditional 'rumble' feedback mechanism: "The Steam Controller is built around a new generation of super-precise haptic feedback, employing dual linear resonant actuators. These small, strong, weighted electro-magnets are attached to each of the dual trackpads. They are capable of delivering a wide range of force and vibration, allowing precise control over frequency, amplitude, and direction of movement." The center of the controller holds a clickable touchscreen. "When programmed by game developers using our API, the touch screen can work as a scrolling menu, a radial dial, provide secondary info like a map or use other custom input modes we haven't thought of yet." The design also breaks up the common diamond-shaped button layout, instead putting the A B X Y buttons at the corners of the touchscreen. The controller is designed to be hackable, and Valve will "make tools available that will enable users to participate in all aspects of the experience, from industrial design to electrical engineering." The controller is being beta tested concurrently with the Steam Machines they announced on Wednesday, so you can expect them to be on sale in 2014.
Businesses

Tesco: 3D Printing Will Come To Supermarkets 'Within a Few Years' 81

Posted by Soulskill
from the yes-i'd-like-to-print-4,000-lego-bricks-please dept.
TinTops writes "The IT chief of supermarket giant Tesco has said he believes there is a market for 3D printing in large supermarkets, and that it will be 'good for customers.' Mike McNamara told V3: 'I think it will help Tesco as a company, I don't think it will be a bad thing. It'll be a great thing for customers, we'll have 3D printing in our stores. As retailers you'll always adapt. So new things come along — the internet came along, we adapted to that one. We kind of have the internet version two with smartphones now, which has been a bigger impact than the wired internet, we'll adapt to that, we'll adapt to 3D printing, we'll adapt to RFID. You live, you change.' McNamara thinks 3D printers will be commonplace in stores before they start showing up in significant numbers at people's homes. This could 'give shoppers a new reason to visit shops for quick access to niche items.'"
Microsoft

Microsoft Shows Off Its Vision For Gesture-Controlled PCs 139

Posted by Soulskill
from the wave-your-hands-in-the-air-like-you-just-don't-care dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft has demoed a prototype gesture-controlled PC using an augmented version of its Kinect motion sensing system. The rig detects 16 gestures and can be used to navigate Windows 8. Microsoft said it wants gestures to complement what is possible using mouse and keyboard, rather than replacing them, and the system favors simple gestures made just above the keyboard, rather than more elaborate Minority Report-style gestures. '[A] window is maximized by clenching a fist to "grab" it and then opening the hand while moving towards the top of the keyboard. Performing the same series of gestures in reverse minimize the window. Repeating the gesture while moving the hand to the left or right edge of the keyboard docks the window with the left or right edge of the screen. The same series of gestures while moving the hand to the top left and right corners of the keyboard will throw the window to the left or right of screen, but not dock it with the edge. Bringing hands together in the middle of the keyboard and then moving them to the keyboard's left and right edge with palms down and fingers splayed will show the desktop. Repeating the gesture restores the original view.'"
Power

New Solar Cell Sets Record For Energy Efficiency 165

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-closer dept.
Lucas123 writes "After three years of work, German and French researchers have achieved a new world record on converting sunlight to energy through a photovoltaic cell, achieving a 44.7% rate of efficiency, which was measured at a concentration of 297 suns. The efficiency rating means the solar cell collects 44.7% of the sun's spectrum's energy, from ultraviolet to the infrared spectrum, which is converted into electrical energy. The team of researchers said the technology places them on the path to achieving their roadmap of 50% efficiency in solar energy conversion."
Security

Malware Now Hiding In Graphics Cards 125

Posted by timothy
from the batteries-graphics-cards-and-lcd-screens dept.
mask.of.sanity writes "Researchers are closing in on a means to detect previously undetectable stealthy malware that resides in peripherals like graphics and network cards. The malware was developed by the same researchers and targeted host runtime memory using direct memory access provided to hardware devices. They said the malware was a 'highly critical threat to system security and integrity' and could not be detected by any operating system."
Open Source

The MinnowBoard is a Low-Cost, Open Hardware Single-Board Computer (Video) 84

Posted by Roblimo
from the open-source-software-is-followed-by-open-source-hardware-like-summer-follows-spring dept.
Out in the Northeast Texas town of Ft. Worth, a company called CircuitCo started making something they called the BeagleBoard -- an open source hardware single-board computer for educators and experimenters. Now, with help and support from Intel, they're making and supporting the Atom-based MinnowBoard, which is also open source, and comes with Angstrom Linux to help experimenters get started with it. David Anders is the Senior Embedded Systems Engineer at CircuitCo. Slashdot's Timothy Lord met David at LinuxCon North America 2013 in New Orleans and made this video of him talking about the recently-released MinnowBoard and the more mature BeagleBoard.
Networking

Undiscovered Country of HFT: FPGA JIT Ethernet Packet Assembly 452

Posted by timothy
from the fifo-with-a-vengeance dept.
michaelmalak writes "In a technique that reminds me of the just-in-time torpedo engineering of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, a company called Argon Design has "developed a high performance trading system" that puts an FPGA — and FPGA-based trading algorithms — right in the Ethernet switch. And it isn't just to cut down on switch/computer latency — they actually start assembling and sending out the start of an Ethernet packet simultaneously with receiving and decoding incoming price quotation Ethernet packets, and decide on the fly what to put in the outgoing buy/sell Ethernet packet. They call these techniques 'inline parsing' and 'pre-emption.'"
Input Devices

Bill Gates Acknowledges Ctrl+Alt+Del Was a Mistake 665

Posted by timothy
from the tilde-backspace-left-arrow-was-taken dept.
theodp writes "If he'd had his druthers, Bill Gates told a Harvard audience, Ctrl+Alt+Del would never have seen the light of day. However, an IBM keyboard designer didn't want to give Microsoft a single button to start things up, and thus the iconic three-finger-salute was born."
AMD

AMD Unveils New Family of GPUs: Radeon R5, R7, R9 With BF 4 Preorder Bundle 188

Posted by samzenpus
from the latest-and-greatest dept.
MojoKid writes "AMD has just announced a full suite of new GPUs based on its Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture. The Radeon R5, R7, and R9 families are the new product lines aimed at mainstream, performance, and high-end gaming, respectively. Specs on the new cards are still limited, but we know that the highest-end R9 290X is a six-billion transistor GPU with more than 300GB/s of memory bandwidth and prominent support for 4K gaming. The R5 series will start at $89, with 1GB of RAM. The R7 260X will hit $139 with 2GB of RAM, the R9 270X and 280X appear to replace the current Radeon 7950 and 7970 with price points at $199 and $299, and 2GB/3GB of RAM, and then the R9 290X, at an unannounced price point and 4GB of RAM. AMD is also offering a limited preorder pack, that offers Battlefield 4 license combined with the graphics cards, which should go on sale in the very near future. Finally, AMD is also debuting a new positional and 3D spatial audio engine in conjunction with GenAudio dubbed 'AstoundSound,' but they're only making it available on the R9 290X, R9 280X, and the R9 270X."
Hardware

Valve Announces Hardware Beta Test For 'Steam Machine' 271

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-it-while-it's-hot dept.
Valve's second major living-room-gaming announcement landed today: they have produced a prototype model of their first "Steam Machine." They've made 300 units, and they'll be sending the machines to users in a very limited beta test. Valve hastens to add that this device isn't the only Steam-focused hardware: "Entertainment is not a one-size-fits-all world. We want you to be able to choose the hardware that makes sense for you, so we are working with multiple partners to bring a variety of Steam gaming machines to market during 2014, all of them running SteamOS." They haven't released specs, but they guaranteed the prototypes will ship this year. They explicitly permit using it in any way — swapping parts, changing the OS, installing any software, etc. "The specific machine we're testing is designed for users who want the most control possible over their hardware. Other boxes will optimize for size, price, quietness, or other factors."
Android

Amazon Launches Kindle Fire HDX Tablets 88

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the a-little-faster dept.
New submitter casab1anca writes "In classic Amazon fashion, without much fanfare, a bunch of new tablets just popped up on their homepage today. The new range, dubbed HDX, is available in the usual 8.9" and 7" versions, with improved hardware and software, but perhaps equally interesting is the revamped 7" Fire HD from last year, which goes for just $139 now." Compared to the Kindle Fire HD, the new models feature a jump in display density (216 PPI to 323 PPI for the 7" and 254 to 339 PPI for the 9"), a switch from a dual-core TI OMAP Cortex-A9 (at 1.2/1.5GHz) to a quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon, and a bump from 1G to 2G of RAM. On the software side, Android has been upgraded from 4.0 to 4.2.2 and Amazon added a few new features to their applications. Businessweek has an interview with Jeff Bezos running today too (starting a bit down the first page).
AMD

The Chip That Changed the World: AMD's 64-bit FX-51, Ten Years Later 259

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the the-day-unix-workstations-died dept.
Dputiger writes "It's been a decade since AMD's Athlon 64 FX-51 debuted — and launched the 64-bit x86 extensions that power the desktop and laptop world today. After a year of being bludgeoned by the P4, AMD roared back with a vengeance, kicking off a brief golden age for its own products, and seizing significant market share in desktops and servers." Although the Opteron was around before, it cost a pretty penny. I'm not sure it's fair to say that the P4 was really bludgeoning the Athlon XP though (higher clock speeds, but NetBurst is everyone's favorite Intel microarchitecture to hate). Check out the Athlon 64 FX review roundup from 2003.
Businesses

Why Is Microsoft Setting More Money On Fire With Surface 2? 616

Posted by timothy
from the producers-was-a-prequel dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Never mind that sales of the original Surface totaled a pitiful $853 million in its first few months of release, or that the tablet failed to make Microsoft an up-and-coming player (or any kind of player, really) in the mobile-device wars: Microsoft's now rolling out Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, which feature upgraded specs and accessories but no radical adjustments to the first generation. Why would Microsoft pour good money after bad? The answer could be outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who late last year released a memo suggesting that Microsoft was evolving into a 'devices and services' company. 'There will be times when we build specific devices for specific purposes, as we have chosen to do with Xbox and the recently announced Microsoft Surface,' he wrote. 'In all our work with partners and on our own devices, we will focus relentlessly on delivering delightful, seamless experiences across hardware, software and services.' That meant Surface (then on the cusp of release) was clearly a harbinger of the company's future direction — and canceling the project after the first generation would have been a stinging refutation of Ballmer's strategy. By spending the money and resources on a second device generation, Microsoft manages to save a little bit of face, albeit at considerable cost. But imagine the hilarity that'll ensue if this second generation goes down in a huge ball of flames like the first."

Maybe Computer Science should be in the College of Theology. -- R. S. Barton

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