A big question college students should be asking is, "What IT and electronics knowledge will be most in demand five or six years from now?" In these fast moving niches, an answer is almost impossible to come by. But what if you were one of the people who supplied raw components to the electronics industry? Wouldn't you have a better handle than most on what kind of devices and components are becoming more popular among prototypers and engineers? And wouldn't watching those trends possibly give you at least a little insight into what the future might hold? Randy Restle, Director of Applications Engineering at component supplier Digi-Key Corporation, carefully tracks orders and tries to determine what's hot and what's not. His reason for doing so is to figure out what Digi-Key should stock in coming months and years. But his insights can also be used to decide what you might want to study or -- if you're already working in the field -- what products you or your company should consider developing. Digi-Key also has an online video library where they feature new products and give ideas of what you can do with them. Even if you're not an engineer or electronics hobbyist, it's fun to see what's available but may not have hit the mass market quite yet.
judgecorp writes "Intel has put back the delivery of its 14nm Broadwell desktop chip by a quarter because of a manufacturing issue that leaves it with too high a density of defects. The problem has been fixed, says CEO Brian Krzanich, who says, 'This happens sometimes in development phases.'" The good news is that it is just a defect density issue. A first round of tweaks failed to increase yield, but Intel seems to think a few more improvements to the 14nm process will result in acceptable yield.
cartechboy writes "Electric vehicle batteries have three problems — they're big, heavy, and expensive. But what if you could shift EV batteries away from being big blocks under the car and engineer them into the car itself? Research groups at Imperial College London working with Volvo have spent three years developing a way to do exactly that. The researchers are storing energy in nano structure batteries woven into carbon fiber--which can then be formed into car body panels. These panel-style batteries charge and store energy faster than normal EV batteries, and they are also lighter and more eco-friendly. The research team has built a Volvo S80 prototype featuring the panels where the battery panel material has been used for the trunk lid. With the materials used on the doors, roof and hood, estimated range for a mid-size electric car is around 80 miles."
MojoKid writes "NVIDIA is holding a tech event currently in Montreal to showcase a number of the tools and technologies the company has developed to foster state of the art in game development. NVIDIA's VP of Content and Technology, Tony Tomasi took a moment to show off Faceworks, and the 'Digital Ira' face that they've demoed at various events over the last year or so. This particular demo was a little different, however, in that it was running on Logan test kit. If you're unfamiliar, Logan is the codename for one of NVIDIA's next-gen mobile SoCs, which features a Kepler-based GPU, like current GeForce GTX 600 and 700 series parts. The demo ran perfectly smooth and the quality of imagery was as good as we've seen on any other platform to date, console, PC or mobile. Incidentally, the demo was running on an Ubuntu Linux OS."
DeviceGuru writes "Suitable Technologies is offering $50 rentals of its Beam mobile telepresence robot, allowing 50 robotics enthusiasts to remotely attend the RoboBusiness conference in Santa Clara, Calif. on Oct. 23-25. The Ubuntu- and ROS-based Beam will be available to the first 50 applicants, letting them explore the show at up to 1.5 meters/sec and interact with others via video conferencing. The bots will be allowed everywhere on the show floor as well as in conference rooms, and the show will be open late to accommodate remote users from distant time zones. The Beam is a good choice for remotely exploring conferences, saving users the cost and time of traveling to an event, says Suitable Tech; for example, RoboBusiness registration costs $1,595, not including hotel and travel. A list of the conference's keynotes, which include one by Christ Urmson, director of Google's Self-Driving Cars project, is available here."
mdsolar sends this news from the Associated Press: "The number of safety violations at U.S. nuclear power plants varies dramatically from region to region, pointing to inconsistent enforcement in an industry now operating mostly beyond its original 40-year licenses, according to a congressional study awaiting release. Nuclear Regulatory Commission figures cited in the Government Accountability Office report show that while the West has the fewest reactors, it had the most lower-level violations from 2000 to 2012 — more than 2½ times the Southeast's rate per reactor. The Southeast, with the most reactors of the NRC's four regions, had the fewest such violations, according to the report, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. The striking variations do not appear to reflect real differences in reactor performance. Instead, the report says, the differences suggest that regulators interpret rules and guidelines differently among regions, perhaps because lower-level violations get limited review."
ananyo writes "ITER, the multibillion-euro international nuclear-fusion experiment, is on track to generate power by 2028. But some of the science that was supposed to happen along the way is going to be dropped to keep the vision alive. The plans form the main thrust of recommendations by a 21-strong expert panel of international plasma scientists and ITER staff, convened to reassess the project's research plan in the light of the construction delays. The plans were discussed this week at a meeting of ITER's Science and Technology Advisory Committee. The meeting is the start of a year-long review by ITER to try to keep the experiment on track to generate 500 MW of power from an input of 50 MW by 2028, and so hit its target of attaining the so-called Q10, where power output is ten times input or more. ITER initially aims to produce a Q10 for a few seconds, and then for pulses of 300–500 seconds, and work up over the following decade to output ratios of 30 times more power out than in, with pulses lasting almost an hour. Eventually the aim is to develop steady-state plasmas, which will yield information relevant to industrial-scale fusion-power generation. It is experiments relating to the understanding of longer-pulse and steady-state ITER plasmas that are most likely to be delayed beyond 2028."
itwbennett writes "Until now Sony has done a pretty good job of keeping future Playstation 4 owners happy. But last week they finally hit a rock when Game Informer posted an article about headset compatibility. At launch, USB headsets that work with the PS3 won't work with the PS4. Sony says that eventually there will be a system update that addresses the problem but for now, even your Sony-branded USB headset won't work. If you use a Bluetooth headset (as most PS3 owners do) the news is even worse. Bluetooth headsets will not be supported and no update is planned to address this. ITworld's Peter Smith is shedding a tear for his $250 Turtle Beach PX5 headset."
MojoKid writes "Imagination Technologies has announced the first CPU based on its new version of the MIPS architecture. The new P5600 chip (codenamed Warrior) is a 32-bit CPU based on the MIPS Series 5 architecture and is designed to challenge companies like ARM in the embedded and mobile markets. Major features of the new chip include: support for 40-bit memory extensions, or up to 1TB of RAM, a 128-bit SIMD engine (Single Instruction, Multiple Data), and Hardware virtualization (MIPS R5 can virtualize other machines in hardware). The P5600 core is being touted as supporting up to six cores in a cache-coherent link, most likely similar to ARM's CCI-400. According to IT, the chip is capable of executing 3.5 DMIPs/MHz in CoreMark, which theoretically puts the P5600 on par with the Cortex-A15."
Lasrick writes "Roberto Bissio has an excellent piece in a roundtable on biomass energy, pointing out that small scale biomass energy projects designed for people in poor countries aren't really a solution to climate change. After pointing out that patent protections could impede wide-spread adoption, Bissio adds that the people in these countries aren't really contributing to climate change in the first place: 'Why? Because poor people, whose carbon emissions these technologies would reduce, produce very little carbon in the first place. As I mentioned in Round One, the planet's poorest 1 billion people are responsible for only 3 percent of global carbon emissions. The 1.26 billion people whose countries belong to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development account for 42 percent of emissions. The rich, if they reduced their emissions by just 8 percent, could achieve more climate mitigation than the poor could achieve by reducing their emissions to zero. The rich could manage this 8 percent reduction by altering their lifestyles in barely noticeable ways. For the poor, a reduction of 100 percent would imply permanent misery.'"
Thorfinn.au writes "Even though the data density of digital information storage has increased tremendously over the last few decades, the data longevity is limited to only a few decades. If we want to preserve anything about the human race which can outlast the human race itself, we require a data storage medium designed to last for 1 million to 1 billion years. In this paper a medium is investigated consisting of tungsten encapsulated by silicon nitride which, according to elevated temperature tests, will last for well over the suggested time."
itwbennett writes "Using radio signals, MIT researchers can pinpoint someone's location — through a wall — with accuracy of +/- 10 centimeters. Fadel Adib, a Ph.D student on the project, said that gaming could be one use for the technology, but that localization is also very important. He said that Wi-Fi localization, or determining someone's position based on Wi-Fi, typically requires the user to hold a transmitter, like a smartphone for example. 'What we're doing here is localization through a wall without requiring you to hold any transmitter or receiver [and] simply by using reflections off a human body,' he said. 'What is impressive is that our accuracy is higher than even state of the art Wi-Fi localization.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Cadillac has officially unveiled its Tesla S alternative, but at $5,000 more than the Tesla, it may not be the cheaper option you've been looking for. 'Cadillac is touting the ELR's 8-inch touchscreen powered by its CUE infotainment system — which two years in is still a buggy mess — along with a range of safety and convenience features, including lane departure warning, forward collision alert, and a 24-hour concierge service to answer questions. There's also a "regen on demand" feature that allows the driver to boost the brake regeneration, slowing the vehicle and recouping energy by pulling on the flappy paddles behind the steering wheel. GM's bean counters are quick to point out that depending on what federal and state tax incentives buyers are eligible for, the net pricing could be as low as $68,495, but that's still a tough sell considering you're basically getting a Volt with more presence and less practicality.'"
Lucas123 writes "This past week at Ft. Benning, weaponized robot prototypes from four robotics companies — Northrop Grumman, HDT Robotics, iRobot Corp. and QinetiQ — demonstrated their abilities to traverse rugged terrain, fire machine guns and take out pop-up targets from a distance of 150 meters. 'They're not just tools, but members of the squad. That's the goal,' said Lt. Col. Willie Smith, chief of Unmanned Ground Vehicles at Fort Benning. For example, the Northrup Grumman's CaMEL (Carry-all Mechanized Equipment Landrover) can run for 24 hours on three-and-a-half gallons of fuel, and can be equipped with a grenade launcher, an automatic weapon and anti-tank missiles. The CaMEL also can identify targets from three-and-a-half kilometers away, using a daylight telescope or thermal imaging. The robots have also demonstrated their ability to be air dropped behind enemy lines or into remote terrain."
schwit1 writes "Like something out of a Robert Heinlein novel, students at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have built a metal rocket engine using a technique previously confined to NASA. Earlier this month, the UCSD chapter of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) at the Jacobs School of Engineering conducted a hot fire test for a 3D-printed metal rocket engine at the Friends of Amateur Rocketry launch site in California's Mojave Desert. This is the first such test of a printed liquid-fueled, metal rocket engine by any university in the world and the first designed and printed outside of NASA."
MojoKid writes "Over the past few years, a handful of mobile graphics companies have emerged but the top dog, by far, has been Imagination Technologies, with Qualcomm, Nvidia and ARM all picking up significant businesses of their own as well. But now, there's a new kid on the block — a company with a tiny, highly customized GPU, a number of recent design wins, and a strong product portfolio. Vivante got started in 2004 and started licensing its GPU designs in 2007. The company's early wins have been in Eastern markets, but this past year, it's begun to show up in devices intended for the West, including the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 and Google's Chromecast. Vivante has taken a different approach to core design from most of the other companies that play in this space. All modern GPUs are explicitly designed to be modular and scalable. Typically what that means is that a company like Nvidia or AMD defines a single compute unit that can be duplicated throughout the GPU design. Vivante's GPUs are modular as well, but with a much finer level of granularity. Each of the three shaded blocks (3-D Pipeline, Vector Graphics Pipeline, 2-D Pipeline) can be segmented or stacked into various configurations. A GPU core, in other words, could contain more ultra-threaded shaders, or additional vector graphics engines, up to 32 cores in total. One of the advantages of this tiny, modular architecture is that you can clock the cores like gangbusters. According to Vivante, the 28nm high performance silicon variant of the Vivante architecture can clock up to 1GHz at full speed, but fall back to 1/64th of this in power saving mode, or roughly 16MHz."
formaggio writes "Team Austria was just announced the overall winner of the 2013 Solar Decathlon for their beautiful LISI House. With its elegant and innovative moving curtain facade, a simple form, and a strong emphasis placed on creating a seamless space that combines outdoor and indoor living, the stunning net-zero home is a versatile enough for life in both sunny California or the team's more temperate native land."
Lucas123 writes "Consumers appear more willing to use a self-driving car from a leading technology company, such as Google, over an auto manufacturer like Ford or Toyota, according to a new study from KPMG. Based on polls of focus groups, technology companies scored highest among consumers, with a median score of 8 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as the highest level of trust. Premium auto brands received a score of 7.75, while mass-market brands received a score of 5. Google is the brand most associated with self-driving cars, according to the study, while Nissan lead the mass auto producers in recognition for autonomous technology; that was based on its pledge in August to launch an affordable self-driving car by 2020. 'We believe that self-driving cars will be profoundly disruptive to the traditional automotive ecosystem,' KPMG stated." I suspect that when autonomous cars start arriving for ordinary buyers, there will be a lot of co-branding, as there is now for various car subsystems and even levels of trim.
An anonymous reader writes "Neal Stephenson's ambitious sword fighting Kickstarter Clang has run into financial troubles, and part of the reason is down to new controller that was required — the extra investment reportedly scared away investors. Sometimes though, games can help usher in a whole new type of controller, and create new ways to play. From Pong's easy dials, which helped bring the video game into the home, to Ape Escape's twin thumbsticks and Doodle's Jump savvy use of the accelerometer on the iPhone, some games have hit the critical mass necessary to establish a new input as a way to play. So what's next?"
Nerval's Lobster writes "One of the 600 3D-printed objects on display at a new London Science Museum exhibit is a Terminator-lookalike prosthetic arm designed by a 3D printing research group at the University of Nottingham, to demonstrate how printers can create both strong structural pieces, multi-directional joints and electronics to power touch sensors as part of a single process. "It's a mock-up but it shows circuits that sense temperature, feel objects and control the arm's movement," according to Richard Hague, director of the university's Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing Research Group. The design is a step up in complexity from Robohand, an open-source engineering project launched in 2011 to design printable prostheses for those who have lost fingers or hands. The project posted many of its designs, including a full set of anatomically driven mechanical fingers, online for free download. Other manufacturers are exploring how robotics can best intersect with the human body and its need for replacement parts: pieces from 17 manufacturers went into "The Incredible Bionic Man," a full-body robotic prostheses assembled from artificial organs, limbs and other parts to demonstrate the current state-of-the-art for a Smithsonian Channel documentary due to air Oct. 20. The robot is 6'7, and able to stand and take a step with assistance; it contains a functioning heart, kidney, arms, legs, eyes and other parts. It also has a prosthetic, mobile face designed as a replacement for people who have lost noses or other features to accidents or disease."
sciencehabit writes "One unintended effect of the U.S. federal shutdown is that helpful press officers at government labs are not available to provide a reality check to some of the wilder stories that can catch fire on the Internet. They would have come in handy this week, when a number of outlets jumped on a report on the BBC News website. The National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, it reported, had passed a 'nuclear fusion milestone.' NIF uses the world's highest energy laser system to crush tiny pellets containing a form of hydrogen fuel to enormous temperature and pressure. The aim is to get the hydrogen nuclei to fuse together into helium atoms, releasing energy. The BBC story reported that during one experiment last month, '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.' This prompted a rush of even more effusive headlines proclaiming the 'fusion breakthrough.' As no doubt NIF's press officers would have told reporters, the experiment in question certainly shows important progress, but it is not the breakthrough everyone is hoping for."
Lucas123 writes "A solar power array that covers three square miles with 3,200 mirrored parabolic collectors went live this week, creating enough energy to power 70,000 homes in Arizona. The Solana Solar Power Plant, located 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, was built at a cost of $2 billion, and financed in large part by a U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee. The array is the world's largest parabolic trough plant, meaning it uses parabolic shaped mirrors mounted on moving structures that track the sun and concentrate its heat. A first: a thermal energy storage system at the plant can provide electricity for six hours without the concurrent use of the solar field. Because it can store electricity, the plant can continue to provide power during the night and inclement weather."
PengPod is running a crowdfunder to create a GNU Linux/Android tablet, the PengPod 1040. This is their second such product; the first was mentioned on Slashdot last year. PengPod has pledged to make all source and tools used to build the images available, so users can build their own OS top to bottom to guarantee that it's free of NSA tracking. The PengPod has previously found some success as a low-cost touch platform for industrial/commercial control systems and is partnered with ViewTouch, the original inventors of the graphical POS to offer PengPod1040s as restaurant register systems. The feature that the developers seem keenest to emphasize is that the PengPod is built to run conventional desktop Linux distros without special hacking required; Android is the default OS, but it's been tested with several others (including Ubuntu Touch) listed on their Indiegogo page.
adeelarshad82 writes "Acer officially announced its new Chromebook, C720. The C720 is 30% thinner (at 0.75 inches thick) and lighter (at 2.76 pounds) than Acer's previous Chromebook, C7. The C720 Chromebook has an 11.6-inch anti-glare widescreen, with a 1,366-by-768 resolution. Acer claims seven second boot times and up to 8.5 hours of battery life. The C720 comes with 4GB of DDR3L memory and uses an Intel Celeron 2955U processor based on Haswell technology. The system also has 16GB of local SSD storage along with 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi to get to Google's cloud-based storage. Like previous Chromebooks, the C720 Chromebook is constantly updated with the latest version of the Chrome OS and built around the Chrome browser." One thing this machine lacks is the most intriguing feature of the new ARM-based (and lower-power) Chromebook 11 from HP: charging via Micro-USB.
itwbennett writes "PC maker Lenovo accidentally posted manuals on its website showing an Android laptop called the IdeaPad A10. Lenovo spokesman Chris Millward said the company had planned on making an official announcement for the device, and that 'the product has not been canceled. It will be going out to the market.' Launch dates and pricing to come, but specs show that it could be a budget product."
Lucas123 writes "Engineers at Disney Research in Pittsburgh have developed an algorithm that creates the illusion of a 3D surface on touch screens. Using electrical impulses, the touch screen technology offers the sensation of ridges, edges, protrusions and bumps and any combination of those textures. While Disney is not alone in developing tactile response touchscreens, its researchers said the traditional approach has been to use a library of 'canned effects,' that are played back when someone touches a screen. Disney's algorithm doesn't just playback one or two responses, but it offers a set of controls that make it possible to tune tactile effects to a specific visual artifact on the fly. 'Our algorithm is concise, light and easily applicable on static images and video streams,' the researchers stated." This summer Disney unveiled AIREAL, a system designed to give tactile sensations to people using motion control devices.
An anonymous reader writes "A day after TEPCO workers mistakenly turned off cooling pumps serving the spent pool at reactor #4 at the crippled nuclear plant comes a new accident — 6 workers apparently removed the wrong pipe from a primary filtration system and were doused with highly radioactive water. They were wearing protection yet such continuing mishaps and 'small mistakes' are becoming a pattern at the facility."
ananyo writes "Fusion unleashes vast amounts of energy that might one day be used to power giant electrical grids. But the laboratory systems that seem most promising produce radiation in the form of fast-moving neutrons, and these present a health hazard that requires heavy shielding and even degrades the walls of the fusion reactor. Physicists have now produced fusion at an accelerated rate in the laboratory without generating harmful neutrons (abstract). A team led by Christine Labaune, research director of the CNRS Laboratory for the Use of Intense Lasers at the Ecole Polytechnique in Palaiseau, France, used a two-laser system to fuse protons and boron-11 nuclei. One laser created a short-lived plasma, or highly ionized gas of boron nuclei, by heating boron atoms; the other laser generated a beam of protons that smashed into the boron nuclei, releasing slow-moving helium particles but no neutrons. Previous laser experiments that generated boron fusion aimed the laser at a boron target to initiate the reaction. In the new experiment, the laser-generated proton beam produces a tenfold increase of boron fusion because protons and boron nuclei are instead collided together directly."
An anonymous reader writes "More than 90% of nuclear regulators are being sent home due to the Federal Government shutdown, as the agency announced today that it was out of funds. Without Congressional appropriations, the nuclear watchdog closes its doors for what appears to be the first time in U.S. history. CNN reports that while a skeleton crew remains to monitor the nation's 100 nuclear reactors, regulatory efforts to prevent a Fukushima-like incident in the United States have ceased."
iONiUM writes "Samsung today unveiled the Galaxy Round phone with a curved 5.7" display. It comes with a hefty $1,000 USD price tag. This is a follow-up to the 55" curved TVs it began selling in June, and is most likely an intermediate form in the development of fold-able phones. Considering the recent LG announcement of mass OLED flexible screen production, it seems we are getting close to flexible phones. One question I wonder: will Apple follow suit? So far there has been no indication they are even attempting flexible/bendable screens."
First time accepted submitter eekee writes "The targets are high, but so is the goal: releasing Verilog source code for a GPU implementation. The source will be open source, LGPL-licensed, and suitable for loading onto an FPGA. The first target is for a 2D GPU with PCI interface; perhaps not terribly interesting in itself, but the first stretch goal is much more exciting: full OpenGL and Direct3D graphics." Unlike the Open Graphics Project, this is starting from a working 2D accelerator and mostly working 3D accelerator cloning the features of the Number Nine Ticket to Ride hardware. If they get a meelion bucks they'll overhaul the chip to support something other than PCI (although you can bridge between PCI and PCIe) and implement a modern programmable rather than fixed-function chip. Also unlike OGP, they do not appear interested in producing hardware, instead focusing entirely on the core itself for use in FPGAs (anyone want to dust off the OGD1 design?)
beckman101 writes "Two years ago the Gameduino brought retro-style gaming to the Arduino. This week its successor launched on Kickstarter, still fully open-source but with a video that shows it running some contemporary-looking demos. Plus, it has a touch screen and a pretty decent 3-axis accelerometer. Farewell to the retro?"
crookedvulture writes "The first reviews of AMD's Radeon R7 and R9 graphics cards have hit the web, revealing cards based on the same GPU technology used in the existing HD 7000 series. The R9 280X is basically a tweaked variant of the Radeon HD 7970 GHz priced at $300 instead of $400, while the R9 270X is a revised version of the Radeon HD 7870 for $200. Thanks largely to lower prices, the R9 models compare favorably to rival GeForce offerings, even if there's nothing exciting going on at the chip level. There's more intrigue with the Radeon R7 260X, which shares the same GPU silicon as the HD 7790 for only $140. Turns out that graphics chip has some secret functionality that's been exposed by the R7 260X, including advanced shaders, simplified multimonitor support, and a TrueAudio DSP block dedicated to audio processing. AMD's current drivers support the shaders and multimonitor mojo in the 7790 right now, and a future update promises to unlock the DSP. The R7 260X isn't nearly as appealing as the R9 cards, though. It's slower overall than not only GeForce 650 Ti Boost cards from Nvidia, but also AMD's own Radeon HD 7850 1GB. We're still waiting on the Radeon R9 290X, which will be the first graphics card based on AMD's next-gen Hawaii GPU." More reviews available from AnandTech, Hexus, Hot Hardware, and PC Perspective.
A few weeks ago, on his way to LinuxCon, Timothy stopped by the biggest hackerspace he'd ever seen. 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 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.) There's also a classroom full of donated workstations, lounge space, a small collection of old (but working) military trucks, and a kitchen big enough for their Pancake Science Sunday breakfasts. Labs member Steve Cameron showed me around. You saw Part One of his tour last week. Today's video is Part Two.
dcblogs writes "Gartner says new technologies are decreasing jobs. In the industrial revolution — and revolutions since — there was an invigoration of jobs. For instance, assembly lines for cars led to a vast infrastructure that could support mass production giving rise to everything from car dealers to road building and utility expansion into new suburban areas. But the "digital industrial revolution" is not following the same path. "What we're seeing is a decline in the overall number of people required to do a job," said Daryl Plummer, a Gartner analyst at the research firm's Symposium ITxpo. Plummer points to a company like Kodak, which once employed 130,000, versus Instagram's 13. The analyst believes social unrest movements, similar to Occupy Wall Street, will emerge again by 2014 as the job creation problem deepens." Isn't "decline in the overall number of people required to do a job" precisely what assembly lines effect, even if some job categories as a result require fewer humans? We recently posted a contrary analysis arguing that the Luddites are wrong.
linuxwrangler writes "NSA's new Utah data-center has been suffering numerous power-surges that have caused as much as $100,000 damage per event. The root cause is 'not yet sufficiently understood' but is suspected to relate to the site's 'inability to simultaneously run computers and keep them cool.' Frustrating the analysis and repair are 'incomplete information about the design of the electrical system' and the fact that "regular quality controls in design and construction were bypassed in an effort to fast track the Utah project."" Ars Technica has a short article, too, as does ITworld.
judgecorp writes "The millionth Raspberry Pi microcomputer has been made in the Foundation's Welsh factory. Total sales so far are 1.75 million, including the initial stock made in China." (Do you have one? If so, what are you using it for?)
An anonymous reader writes "NVIDIA was caught removing features from their Linux driver and days later Linux developers have caught and confirmed AMD imposing artificial limitations on their graphics cards in the DVI-to-HDMI adapters that their driver will support. Over years AMD has quietly been adding an extra EEPROM chip to their DVI-to-HDMI adapters that are bundled with Radeon HD graphics cards. Only when these identified adapters are detected via checks in their Windows and Linux Catalyst driver is HDMI audio enabled. If using a third-party DVI-to-HDMI adapter, HDMI audio support is disabled by the Catalyst driver. Open-source Linux developers have found this to be a self-imposed limitation and that the open-source AMD Linux driver will work fine with any DVI-to-HDMI adapter."
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.
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.'"
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.
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."
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."'"
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."
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.
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."
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.)
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?"