MojoKid writes "The seemingly never-ending onslaught of new graphics cards as of late continues today with the official release of the AMD Radeon R9 270. This mainstream graphics card actually leverages the same GPU that powered last-year's Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition. AMD, however, has tweaked the clocks and through software and board level revisions updated the card to allow for more flexible use of its display outputs (using Eyefinity no longer requires the use of a DisplayPort). Versus the 1GHz (GPU) and 4.8Gbps (memory) of the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition, the Radeon R9 270 offers slightly lower compute performance (2.37 TFLOPS vs. 2.56 TFLOPS), but much more memory bandwidth--179.2GB/s vs. 153.6GB/s to be exact. AMD and its add in board partners are launching the Radeon R9 270 today, with prices starting at $179. The Radeon R9 270's starting price is somewhat aggressive and once again puts pressure on NVIDIA. GeForce GTX 660 cards, which typically performed lower than the Radeon R9 270 are priced right around the $190 mark. Along with this card, AMD is also announcing an update to its game bundle, and beginning November 13 Radeon R9 270 – R9 290X cards will include a free copy of Battlefield 4. NVIDIA, on the other hand, is offering Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Assassins Creed – Black Flag, plus $50 off a SHIELD portable gaming device with GTX 660 and 760 cards."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
rtoz writes "MIT researchers have found that adding genetically modified viruses to the production of nanowires will boost the performance of lithium-air battery used in electric cars. The key to their work was to increase the surface area of the wire, thus increasing the area where electrochemical activity takes place during charging or discharging of the battery (abstract). The increase in surface area produced by their method can provide a big advantage in lithium-air batteries' rate of charging and discharging. Unlike conventional fabrication methods, which involve energy-intensive high temperatures and hazardous chemicals, this process can be carried out at room temperature using a water-based process."
Daniel_Stuckey writes "At the start of this year, President Obama nicely summed up the grandiose promise of 3D printing — or rather, the hype surrounding it. In his State of the Union address the president suggested the fledgling technology could save manufacturing by ushering in a second industrial revolution. That shout-out inspired a spate of buzzkill blog posts pointing out — rightly enough — that despite its potential, 3D printing is still in its infancy. It's not the panacea for the struggling economy we want it to be, at least not yet. Apparently the naysayers weren't enough to kill the 3D-printing dream, because, with support from the federal government, MakerBot announced its initiative to put a 3D printer in every school in America. The tech startup and the administration are betting big that teaching kids 3D printing is teaching them the skills they'll need as tomorrow's engineers, designers, and inventors." Caveat: Makerbot no longer produces open hardware, and they are pushing proprietary Autodesk software and educational materials as part of the free 3D printer. Makerbot also launched a call for open models of math manipulatives on Thingiverse (you might remember them from elementary school) so that teachers have something useful to print immediately.
muterobert writes with an article about a new head mounted virtual retinal display (technology last covered ages ago). The folks over at Road to VR took a look at an engineering prototype; from the article: "The Avegant HMD uses a virtual retinal projection display consisting of a single LED light source and an array of micro-mirrors. This differs from normal screens in that with a VRD there is no actual screen to look at. Instead, a virtual image (in the optical sense) is drawn directly onto your retina. . ... 'At one point I was looking at a sea turtle in shallow coral waters. Sunlight was beaming down from the surface and illuminating the turtle's shell in a spectacular way — it was one of the most vivid and natural things I've ever seen on any display. The scene before me looked incredibly real, even though the field of view is not at immersive levels.'"
MojoKid writes "At APU13 today, AMD announced a full suite of new products and development tools as part of its push to improve HSA development. One of the most significant announcements to come out the sessions today-- albeit in a tacit, indirect fashion, is that Kaveri is going to pack a full 512 GPU cores. There's not much new to see on the CPU side of things — like Richland/Trinity, Steamroller is a pair of CPU modules with two cores per module. AMD also isn't talking about clock speeds yet, but the estimated 862 GFLOPS that the company is claiming for Kaveri points to GPU clock speeds between 700 — 800MHz. With 512 cores, Kaveri picks up a 33% boost over its predecessors, but memory bandwidth will be essential for the GPU to reach peak performance. For performance, AMD showed Kaveri up against the Intel 4770K running a low-end GeForce GT 630. In the intro scene to BF4's single-player campaign (1920x1080, Medium Details), the AMD Kaveri system (with no discrete GPU) consistently pushed frame rates in the 28-40 FPS range. The Intel system, in contrast, couldn't manage 15 FPS. Performance on that system was solidly in the 12-14 FPS range — meaning AMD is pulling 2x the frame rate, if not more."
MrSeb writes with this excerpt, linking to several pretty graphs: "For more than 30 years, the realm of computing has been intrinsically linked to the humble hard drive. It has been a complex and sometimes torturous relationship, but there's no denying the huge role that hard drives have played in the growth and popularization of PCs, and more recently in the rapid expansion of online and cloud storage. Given our exceedingly heavy reliance on hard drives, it's very, very weird that one piece of vital information still eludes us: How long does a hard drive last? According to some new data, gathered from 25,000 hard drives that have been spinning for four years, it turns out that hard drives actually have a surprisingly low failure rate."
mdsolar writes in with news about a new wind-energy project off the coast of Fukushima. "A project to harness the power of the wind about 20 kilometers (12 miles) off the coast of Fukushima, site of the March 2011 nuclear disaster, began generating power on an operational basis today. The project, funded by the government and led by Marubeni Corp. (8002), is a symbol of Japan's ambition to commercialize the unproven technology of floating offshore wind power and its plan to turn quake-ravaged Fukushima into a clean energy hub. 'Fukushima is making a stride toward the future step by step,' Yuhei Sato, governor of Fukushima, said today at a ceremony in Fukushima marking the project's initiation. 'Floating offshore wind is a symbol of such a future.'"
An anonymous reader writes "An Apple insider who asked not to be identified because the information is classified told Bloomberg that Apple's next iPhone models will come with curve displays and enhanced touchscreen sensors that can detect heavy and light touches. The two models -- 4.7-inches and 5.5-inches -- would be Apple's largest iPhones. Apple is still developing the two models and the person disclosed that Apple could launch the devices in the third quarter of next year."
MarkWhittington writes "Project M was a proposal at NASA's Johnson Spaceflight Center that would have put together a mission to deliver a bipedal robot to the lunar surface within a thousand days. The idea never got out of the conception stage, but two major components, a new type of lunar lander, now called Morpheus, and a robonaut continued on as separate projects. Morpheus is getting ready to conduct a second attempt at free flight tests at the Kennedy Space Center. The first attempt resulted in the destruction of the prototype vehicle. If the second round of tests is successful, NASA will have a spacecraft that could deliver 1,100 pounds of payload to the lunar surface. While a copy of Robonaut 2 is still undergoing tests on board the International Space Station, ABC News reports that a cousin of the mechanical person has been built with legs. It stands eight feet tall and weighs 500 pounds. With two major components of Project M nearing completion, could a robonaut become the next moon walker?"
An anonymous reader writes "While he acknowledged that technology needs to keep going forward, LeVar Burton didn't seem comfortable with the idea of using Google Glass. '"It disturbed me. I was skeptical... [and] I'm a person that's very open to technology." That's the reaction LeVar Burton, the man best known from Reading Rainbow and Star Trek: The Next Generation, first had when encountering Google Glass backstage at Engadget Expand. Burton, a self-described edutainment pioneer, acknowledges the disruptive power new technologies can have on media and culture — after all, he did help transform television into a worthy educational tool/babysitter with his PBS program. But even with that storied success, and his company's current inroads into digital with an iPad Reading Rainbow application, Burton still had a "knee-jerk" response when confronted with Glass. Although his celebrity status and the resulting paranoia could have something to do with it.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Matthew Philips writes at Bloomberg that US Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Geneva on Friday to begin negotiations with Iran over its nuclear weapons program and there is sudden optimism that a deal is in the offing. But the simple fact is that Iran would not be coming to the negotiating table without the US oil boom. Over the last two years, the US has increased its crude production by about 2 million barrels a day. According to a recent report from the Congressional Research Service (pdf), Iran's oil exports have been cut in half since 2011 (PDF), from 2.5 million barrels per day to a bit more than 1 million today. As a result, Iran has had to halt an equal amount of production. 'I think it's pretty clear that without the U.S. shale revolution, it never would have been possible to put this kind of embargo on Iran,' says Julius Walker. 'Without US production gains, I think we'd be looking at $150 a barrel.' Instead, international prices have hovered around $110, and are less than $100 in the US. According to data from Bloomberg, the combined carrying capacity of oil tankers leaving Iranian ports last month dropped 22 percent from September. 'They're having a very hard time finding buyers,' says Walker. If a deal gets done, the trick will be to ease Iranian oil back onto the broader market without disrupting prices. If not managed properly, flooding the market with Iranian crude could carry its own negative consequences by suddenly making fracked oil in the US unprofitable."
mdsolar writes in with news that plans to build two new reactors at the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant have been put on hold. "On Friday, Luminant, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings, suspended its application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build two new reactors at the plant. Its partner on the project, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, said it was focusing on getting its nuclear reactors in Japan back in operation. The majority of Japan's reactors were shut down because of safety concerns following a 2011 tsunami that caused a radiation leak at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex 150 miles north of Tokyo. Mitsubishi 'has informed us that they will materially slow the development of their design control document for their new reactor design by several years. In addition, both [Mitsubishi] and Luminant understand the current economic reality of low Texas power prices driven in large part by the boom in natural gas,' read a statement from Luminant."
Lucas123 writes "Researchers have already built robots that can use microorganisms to digest waste material, such as rotten fruit and vegetables, and generate electricity from it. This time, a group of scientists has taken that concept to a strange, new place: urine-powered robots. The scientists from the University of the West of England, Bristol and the University of Bristol constructed a system in robots that functions like the human heart, except it's designed to pump urine into the robot's 'engine room,' converting the waste into electricity and enabling the robot to function completely on its own. The researchers hope the system, which can hold 24.5 ml of urine, could be used to power future generations of robots, or what they're calling EcoBots. 'In the city environment, they could re-charge using urine from urinals in public lavatories,' said Peter Walters, a researcher with the University of the West of England. 'In rural environments, liquid waste effluent could be collected from farms.'"
cagraham writes "International engineering and construction firm Balfour Beatty is considering using drones in order to construct walls and monitor work sites, among other things. Beatty CIO Danny Reeves, speaking at the Fujitsu Forum, said drones could improve efficiency and safety on sites. He also talked of implementing sensors that would monitor worker's stress levels and bodily functions, and notify management when they became less effective, or mistake-prone, on the job."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Researchers have demonstrated a technique that produces inexpensive, functional electrical circuits that can be printed using about $300 worth of materials and equipment, including generic inkjet printers. The technique, developed by researchers from Georgia Tech, the University of Tokyo and Microsoft Research, allows circuits to be printed onto irregularly-shaped materials or almost anything able to go through the paper feed on a printer designed for consumers. The chief advantage of the technique is the ability to print circuits using silver nanoparticle ink rather than relying on the thermal-bonding technique called sintering, which is time-consuming and can destroy delicate base materials. Researchers were able to print new circuits in about 60 seconds on almost any material that could go through the printer, though resin-covered paper, PET film and glossy photo paper worked best, while sheets of canvas cloth and anything magnetic were ineffective. Once printed using silver ink on flexible base material, the circuits can be attached to existing hardware by simply laying or taping them in place and making connections using conductive tape or conductive glue. (Soldering would destroy the underlying material.)"
mdsolar writes with this bit of news from Green Tech Media "The German government has responded to the next big challenge in its energy transition – storing the output from the solar boom it has created — by doing exactly what it has successfully done to date: greasing the wheels of finance to bring down the cost of new technology. ... Now it is looking at bringing down the cost of the next piece in the puzzle of its energy transition — battery storage. ... KfW’s aim, according to Axel Nawrath, a member of the KfW Bankengruppe executive board, is to ensure that the output of wind and solar must be 'more decoupled' from the grid. ... This is seen as critical as the level of renewable penetration rises to around 40 per cent — a level expected in Germany within the next 10 years. ... According to Papenfuss, households participating in the scheme will spend between €20,000 and €28,000 on solar and storage, depending on the size of the system (the average size is expected to be around 7kW for the solar array and around 4kWh for the battery)."
sfcrazy writes "The newly incorporated CyanogenMod has secured a deal with Oppo to bring their N1 to the market preloaded with CyanogenMod. The special edition of the OPPO N1 has been customized to support all the unique features of the OPPO N1, and include extra CyanogenMod accessories."
MojoKid writes "One of the hallmark features of Google's Nexus 5 flagship smartphone by LG isn't its bodaciously big 5-inch HD display, its 8MP camera, or its "OK Google" voice commands. That has all been done before. What does stand out about the Nexus 5 is Google's new Android 4.4 Kit Kat OS and LG's SoC (System on Chip) processor of choice, namely Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 quad-core. Qualcomm is known for licensing ARM core technology and making it their own; and Qualcomm's latest Krait 400 quad-core along with the Adreno 330 GPU that comprise the Snapdragon 800, is a powerful beast. Google also has taken the scalpel to Kit Kat in all the right places, whittling down the overall footprint of the OS, so it's more efficient on lower-end devices and also offers faster multitasking. Specifically memory usage has been optimized in a number of areas. Couple these OS tweaks with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 and you end up with a smartphone that hugs the corners and lights 'em up on the straights. Putting the Nexus 5 through its paces, it turns out preliminary figures are promising. In fact, the Nexus 5 actually was able to surpass the iPhone 5s with Apple's 64-bit A7 processor in a few tests and goes toe to toe with it in gaming and graphics." Ars Technica has a similarly positive view of the hardware aspects of the phone, dinging it slightly for its camera but otherwise finding little to fault.
Lucas123 writes "Engineers at Duke University say they've constructed a device that can collect stray wireless signals and convert them into energy to charge batteries in devices such as cell phones and tablets. The WiFi collection device, made of cheap copper coils and fiberglass, can even aggregate energy from satellite signals and sound waves (abstract). The researchers created a series of five fiberglass and copper energy conductors on a circuit board, which was able to convert microwaves into 7.3V of electrical energy. By comparison, Universal Serial Bus (USB) chargers for small electronic devices provide about 5V of power. The device, the researchers say, is as efficient as solar cells with an energy conversion rate of 37%."
Zothecula writes "We tend to think of livestock farmers as 'one man and his dog,' but if AgResearch of New Zealand has anything to say, that pair may have to move over to include a robot. A team led by Dr. Andrew Manderson is developing AgriRover, an agricultural robot inspired by NASA's Mars rovers. It's a proof-of-concept prototype designed to show how robots can make life easier and more productive for livestock farmers."
An anonymous reader writes "After all the revelations about NSA's spying efforts, and especially after the disclosure of details about its Bullrun program aimed at subverting encryption standards and efforts around the world, the question has been raised of whether any encryption software can be trusted. Security experts have repeatedly said that it you want to trust this type of software, your best bet is to choose software that is open source. But, in order to be entirely sure, a security audit of the code by independent experts sounds like a definitive answer to that issue. And that it exactly what Matthew Green, cryptographer and research professor at Johns Hopkins University, and Kenneth White, co-founder of hosted healthcare services provider BAO Systems, have set out to do. The software that will be audited is the famous file and disk encryption software package TrueCrypt. Green and White have started fundraising at FundFill and IndieGoGo, and have so far raised over $50,000 in total." (Mentioned earlier on Slashdot; the now-funded endeavor is also covered at Slash DataCenter.)
Dave Knott writes "Just over one week ahead of the launch of the Playstation 4, Wired has posted an article with a full teardown of Sony's new device. In an accompanying video Sony engineering director Yasuhiro Ootori dismantles the PS4 piece by piece, describing each component and showing just what is contained inside the sleek black box."
Nerval's Lobster writes "By 2015, Americans' ability to access digital media at home and on mobile devices will raise the average volume of media consumed to the equivalent of nine DVDs worth of data per person, per day – not including whatever media they consume at work. That estimate adds up to 15.5 hours of media use per day per person, which breaks down to 74 gigabytes of data per person and a national, collective total of 8.75 zettabytes, according to a new report. Between 2008 and 2013, Americans grew from watching 11 hours of media per day to 14 hours per day – a growth rate of about 5 percent per year, lead author James E. Short wrote in the report. The increasing number of digital-data consumers and the shift from analog to digital media drove the total volume of data in bytes to grow 18 percent per year. That growth rate 'is less than the capacity to process data, driven by Moore's Law, [of about] 30 percent per year,' he added, 'but is still impressive.' Social media is growing even faster than other options – 28 percent per year, from 6.3 billion hours in 2008 to an estimated 35.2 billion hours in 2015. Companies expecting to catch the attention of either employees or customers will have to do so in the context of an increasingly media-swamped population. Digital data consumption will continue to rise, the SDSC projections estimate, possibly to more than an average of 24 hours per person per day – which is only possible assuming multiple simultaneous data streams running through the minds of Americans watching TV, browsing the Web and texting each other simultaneously, probably to ask why they never have time to just sit and talk any more."
An anonymous reader writes "HP has been the sole holdout on the Itanium, mostly because so much of the PA-RISC architecture lives on in that chip. However, the company recently began migration of Integrity Superdome servers from Itanium to Xeon, and now it has announced that the top of its server line, the NonStop series, will migrate to x86 as well, presumably the 15-core E7 V2 Intel will release next year. So while no one has said it, this likely seems the end of the Itanium experiment, one that went on a lot longer than it should have, given its failure out of the gate."
aurtherdent2000 writes "We humans enjoy not having knives inside of us. Robots don't know this (Three Laws be damned). Therefore, it's important for humans to explain this information to robots using careful training. Researchers at Cornell University are developing a co-active learning method, where humans can correct a robot's motions, showing it how to properly use objects such as knives. They use it for a robot performing grocery checkout tasks."
crookedvulture writes "The back and forth battle for PC graphics supremacy is quite a thing to behold. Last week, Nvidia cut GeForce prices in response to the arrival of AMD's latest Radeons. That move caused AMD to rejigger its plans for the new Radeon R9 290, which debuted today with a higher default fan speed and faster performance than originally planned. This $400 card offers almost identical performance to AMD's flagship R9 290X for $150 less. Indeed, it's often faster than Nvidia's $1000 GeForce Titan. But the 290 also consumes a lot more power, and its fan spins up to 49 decibels under load. Fortunately, the acoustic profile isn't too grating. Radeon R9 290 isn't the only new graphics card due this week, either. Nvidia is scheduled to unveil its GeForce GTX 780 Ti on November 7, and that card could further upset the balance at the high end of the GPU market. As AMD and Nvidia trade blows, PC gamers seem to be the ones who benefit." Additional reviews available from AnandTech, PC Perspective, Hot Hardware, and Tom's Hardware.
First time accepted submitter 192_kbps writes "Mike Clements, a long-haul trucker from West Jordan, Utah, built the largest amateur telescope ever with a whopping 70 inch primary mirror he purchased at auction. The entire telescope is 35 feet tall, 900 pounds, and he hopes to tour it in parks. As a hand-turned Dobsonian the telescope lacks the photographic capacity and tracking required for professional astronomy but the views must be breathtaking." (Are there other compelling candidates out there for "largest amateur telescope ever"? The 71" scope listed by nitesky.org appears to be dormant.)
alphadogg writes "The equipment is big and expensive, with the research costs at almost $500,000. But by just using retail components, Chinese professor Chi Nan has built her own Li-Fi wireless system that can use LED lights to send and receive Internet data. "I bought the lights from Taobao," she said, referring to the Chinese e-commerce site. The professor from Fudan University showed off the technology on Tuesday at the China International Industry Fair in Shanghai. Unlike traditional Wi-Fi routers that use radio signals, Chi's system relies on light to send and receive data wirelessly. Others scientists, especially in the U.K., have also been researching the technology, and dubbed it "Li-Fi". But rather than develop specialized hardware, Chi bought off-the-shelf retail parts to create her system."
First time accepted submitter neapolitan writes "PBS has a report on the difficulties of tracking the complications arising from surgical robotic systems, particularly the Da Vinci robotic surgery apparatus. The original study (paywall) notes that there is a large lag in filing reports, and some are not reported at all. It is difficult to assess the continued outcomes and safety without accurate reporting data."
slew writes "Although the robot technically cheats because it watches your hand and can recognize what shape you are intending to make and beat it before you even know what is happening. Apparently it takes about 60ms for you to shape your hand, but the robot can recognize the shape before it is completed, and only takes 20ms to counter your shape so the results appear to the human opponent to be virtually simultaneous. I wonder how difficult it would be to add lizard and spock to the mix.... ;^)."
angry tapir writes "A group of Microsoft researchers believe that using fuel cells to power data centers could potentially result in an 'over 20% reduction in costs using conservative projections', cutting infrastructure and power input costs. In addition, using fuel cells would likely result in a smaller carbon footprint for data centers. The researchers looked at the potential of using fuel cells at the rack level to power servers in data centers — although they note there is a long way to go before this could become a reality (not least of the small worldwide production level of fuel cells)."
An anonymous reader writes in with some exciting news if you are a storage array manufacturer with a lot of money to spend on hard drives."HGST Monday announced that it's now shipping a helium-filled, 3.5-in hard disk drive with 50% more capacity than the current industry leading 4TB drives. The new drive uses 23% less power and is 38% lighter than the 4TB drives. Without changing the height, the new 6TB Ultrastar He6 enterprise-class hard drive crams seven disk platters into what was a five disk-platter, 4TB Ultrastar drive."
angry tapir writes "A Kickstarter project is aiming to bring an inexpensive 9-inch portable monitor to the popular US$25 Raspberry Pi PC, which comes without a keyboard, mouse or monitor. The "HDMIPi" will include an LCD panel that will show images at a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. Computers can be hooked up to the monitor via an HDMI controller board that can be wired to the LCD. The display is being made by Raspi.TV and Cyntech."
MojoKid writes "Microsoft has several valid reasons why you should upgrade to Windows 8.1, which is free if you already own Windows 8. However, there's a known issue that might give some gamers pause before clicking through in the Windows Store. There have been complaints of mouse problems after applying the Windows 8.1 update, most of which have been related to lag in video games, though Microsoft confirmed there are other potential quirks. Acknowledging the problem, Microsoft says it's also actively investigating the issues and working on a patch."
An anonymous reader writes "Intel shipped open-source Broadwell graphics driver support for Linux this weekend. While building upon the existing Intel Linux GPU driver, the kernel driver changes are significant in size for Broadwell. Code comments from Intel indicate that these processors shipping in 2014 will have "some of the biggest changes we've seen on the execution and memory management side of the GPU" and "dwarf any other silicon iteration during my tenure, and certainly can compete with the likes of the gen3->gen4 changes." Come next year, Intel may now be able to better take on AMD and NVIDIA discrete graphics solutions."
First time accepted submitter renzema writes "I'm looking for a way to do near-site backups — backups that are not on my physical property, but with a hard drive still accessible should I need to do a restore (let's face it — this is where cloud backup services are really weak — 1 TB at 3-4mb downloads just doesn't cut it). I've tried crashplan, but that requires that someone has a computer on all the time and they don't ship hard drives to Sweden. What I want is to be able to back up my Windows and Mac to both a local disk and to a disk that I own that is not on site. I don't want a computer running 24x7 to support this — just a router or NAS. I would even be happy with a local disk that is somehow mirrored to a remote location. I haven't found anything out there that makes this simple. Any ideas?" What, besides "walk over a disk once in a while," would you advise?
codeusirae writes "RAF pilots were left 'blinded' by a barrage of images while flying at speeds of over 1,000 mph when a number of technical glitches hit their high-tech helmets. The visors were supposed to provide the fighter pilots with complete vision and awareness, but problems with the display produced a blurring known as 'green-glow,' meaning they were unable to see clearly.The green glow occurred when a mass of information was displayed on the helmet-mounted display systems, including radar pictures and images from cameras mounted around the aircraft."
New submitter chrisjz writes "What happens when you combine a virtual reality headset and a brainwave reading device? Here's a simulation showing off what's possible with current technology, using the Emotiv EPOC to read a person's brainwaves for movement in a virtual environment. Along with the Oculus Rift, a VR headset, and the Razer Hydra for hand tracking, this demonstrates another alternative to using omni-directional treadmills or full body tracking for movement and interaction in virtual reality. Consumer level brain computer interfaces are still primitive these days, but it doesn't seem too far off that we'll have virtual reality similar to what William Gibson envisioned in his novels or movies such as The Matrix has shown us."
First time accepted submitter Paddy_O'Furniture writes "Four prominent scientists have penned a letter urging those concerned about climate change to support nuclear energy, saying that renewables such as wind and solar will not be sufficient to meet the world's energy needs. Among the authors is James Hansen, a former top NASA scientist, whose 1988 testimony before the United States Congress helped launch discussions of global warming into the mainstream."
An anonymous reader writes "Almost three years ago, I started looking for a cloud storage service. Encryption and the "zero-knowledge" concept were not concerns. Frankly, after two weeks testing services, it boiled down to one service I used for almost 2 years. It was perfect — in the technical sense — because it simply works as advertised and is one of the cheapest for 500GB. But this year, I decided changing that service for another one, that would encrypt my files before leaving my machine. Some of these services call themselves 'zero-knowledge' services, because (as they claim) clear text does not leave your host: they only receive encrypted data — keys or passwords are not sent. I did all testing I could, with the free bit of their services, and then, chose one of them. After a while, when the load got higher (more files, more folders, more GB...), my horror story began. I started experiencing sync problems of all sorts. In fact, I have paid for and tested another service and both had the same issues with sync. Worse, one of them could not even handle restoring files correctly. I had to restore from my local backup more than once and I ended up losing files for real. In your experience, which service (or services) are really able to handle more than a hundred files, in sync within 5+ hosts, without messing up (deleting, renaming, duplicating) files and folders?"
SmartAboutThings writes "The original Surface Pro didn't have quite a good battery life and that's why Microsoft tried to fix this with the Surface Pro. After the Surface Pro 2 has hit general availability, Microsoft has silently pushed out a firmware update which, according to some new battery benchmarks run by Anandtech, made significant improvements to the battery life of the Surface Pro 2. After the new web browsing battery life test it was discovered that the Surface Pro 2 now manages better battery life than the ARM Surface 2, which is pretty impressive. With the firmware update, Microsoft was targeting over 8 hours, and AnadTech's benchmarks show Microsoft has succeeded, registering a 25% increase in battery life over the no-firmware version. The unpatched Surface Pro 2 lasted for 6.68 hours while with the firmware update installed, its battery life increased to 8.33 hours. The video playback test involved playing a movie until the battery died, and here, albeit smaller, improvements with the battery life have also been noticed: 7.73 hours compared to 6.65 hours."
An anonymous reader writes "The latest device in the OpenPhoenux open hardware family is the Neo900, the first true successor to the Nokia N900. The Neo900 is a joint project of the Openmoko veteran Jörg Reisenweber and the creators of the GTA04/Letux2804 open hardware smartphone at Golden Delicious Computers. Furthermore, it is supported by the N900 Maemo5/Fremantle community, the Openmoko community and the OpenPhoenux community, who are working together to get closer to their common goal of providing an open hardware smartphone, which is able to run 100% free and open source software, while being independet of any big hardware manufacturer." So far, their Indiegogo campaign has raised more than half of the €25,000 they're seeking.
mdsolar writes "An Arizona utility commissioner is asking for all the key players in a debate over a solar energy policy in the state to reveal any additional secret funding of nonprofits or public relations campaigns. The probe comes after Arizona Public Service, the state's largest utility, admitted last week that it had been secretly contributing to outside nonprofits running negative ads against solar power. As The Huffington Post reported Friday, APS recently admitted that it had lied for months about paying the 60 Plus Association, a national conservative organization backed by the Koch brothers, to run ads against current solar net-metering policy. APS is currently pushing the Arizona Corporation Commission to roll back the policy, which allows homeowners and businesses with rooftop solar energy systems to make money by selling excess energy back to the grid. Solar proponents say that the policy has facilitated a solar boom in the state, and that changing it could have a huge negative impact on future growth."
szotz writes "Keeping up the pace of Moore's Law is hard, but you wouldn't know it from the way chipmakers name their technology. The semiconductor industry's names for chip generations (Intel's 22nm, TSMC's 28nm, etc) have very little to do with actual physical sizes, says IEEE Spectrum. And the disconnect is only getting bigger. For the first time, the "pay us to make your chip" foundries are offering a new process (with a smaller-sounding name) that will produce chips that are no denser than their forbears. The move is not a popular one."
itwbennett writes "This brings to mind an earlier Slashdot discussion about whether we've hit the limit on screen resolution improvements on handheld devices. But this time, the question revolves around ever-faster graphics processing units (GPUs) and the resolution limits of desktop monitors. ITworld's Andy Patrizio frames the problem like this: 'Desktop monitors (I'm not talking laptops except for the high-end laptops) tend to vary in size from 20 to 24 inches for mainstream/standard monitors, and 27 to 30 inches for the high end. One thing they all have in common is the resolution. They have pretty much standardized on 1920x1080. That's because 1920x1080 is the resolution for HDTV, and it fits 20 to 24-inch monitors well. Here's the thing: at that resolution, these new GPUs are so powerful you get no major, appreciable gain over the older generation.' Or as Chris Angelini, editorial director for Tom's Hardware Guide, put it, 'The current high-end of GPUs gives you as much as you'd need for an enjoyable experience. Beyond that and it's not like you will get nothing, it's just that you will notice less benefit.'"
An anonymous reader writes "You thought Halloween was for treats. Not this time. Panasonic announced to its investors today that its plasma TV business would be over by the end of March 2014." Blacker blacks and brighter whites aside, there are some good reasons for the shift.
Sockatume writes "Sony has released a detailed FAQ for the PS4 system, which launches in coming weeks. Of particular note: although Bluetooth headsets will not be compatible, generic 3.5mm and USB audio devices will work; the console will require activation via the internet or a special disk before it will play Blu-ray or DVDs; media servers, MP3s, and audio CDs are not supported. The console's "suspend/resume" and remote assistance features are listed as unavailable for the North American launch, implying that they will be patched in before the console launches in Europe later in November."
Nerval's Lobster writes "It's not clear whether managers at Lenovo were too starstruck to say 'no,' or whether the once-respected PC maker is having so much trouble hiring technical help it genuinely intends to allow lowbrow-sitcom staple Ashton Kutcher serve as both celebrity spokesman and full-on product engineer. Lenovo announced that it had hired Kutcher as a product engineer who will 'work with the company's engineering teams around the world to develop and market the Yoga line of tablets by providing input and decision-making into design, specifications, software and usage scenarios.' Kutcher – former Calvin Klein underwear model, star of such quality entertainment as That '70s Show, Punk'd, current star of Two-and-a-Half Men and, most recently, portrayer of Steve Jobs in the biopic Jobs – has a successful track record of investing in tech companies, Lenovo's announcement said as partial explanation for the arrangement. Kutcher also studied biomechanical engineering as an undergraduate at the University of Iowa, which USA Today and other news outlets used to help bolster the idea that the star of Dude, Where's My Car? could function effectively as part of an engineering product-development team. Kutcher did list his planned major at the university as biomechanical engineering when he enrolled in 1996, but he dropped out during the 1997-98 school year. He did found A-Grade Investments, which has been involved in or funded tech companies including Spotify, Path, Airbnb and Uber, according to Lenovo."