First time accepted submitter totally_mad writes "The New York Times reports that Google has acquired Boston Dynamics, a company that is primarily a concept robot maker for the military. The robot wars appear to be heating up between the big corporations, with Amazon recently announcing plans to have 30-minute home deliveries using drones. Perhaps Boston Dynamics', or now Google's, Cheetah will outrun the drone!"
Slashdot Deals: Cyber Monday Sale Extended! Courses ranging from coding to project management - all eLearning deals 20% off with coupon code "CYBERMONDAY20". ×
New submitter Kenseilon writes "Extremetech reports that the recent price hike of Litecoins has triggered yet another arms race for the *coinminers out there, leading to a shortage of AMD graphics cards. While Bitcoin mining is quickly becoming unfeasible for GPU rigs with general purpose graphics cards, there are several alternative currencies with opportunities. The primary candidate is now Litecoin, which has the aim of 'being silver if Bitcoin is gold' Swedish Tech site Sweclockers also reports [in Swedish] that GPU manufacturer Club3D have told them that miners are becoming a new important group of potential customers. However, concerns are being raised that this is a temporary boom that may hurt AMD in the long run, since gamers, their core consumer group, may not be able to acquire the cards and instead opt for Nvidia."
An anonymous reader writes "The company making the VR headset that has John Carmack and many others in the gaming industry excited has just received another $75 million in funding to make it happen. Netscape founder Marc Andreessen is joining the company's board, along with fellow investor Chris Dixon. Dixon had seen a prototype earlier this year, but it wasn't good enough to spark his interest. After recently seeing how the device has progressed since then, he was blown away, comparing it to early demos of the iPhone. 'The dimensions where you need to improve this kind of VR are latency, resolution and head tracking, and they have really nailed those things.' Now that the device is in good shape, Oculus is going to work on turning it into a product they can produce and ship for gamers."
New submitter ghack writes "NuScale power, a small nuclear power company in Corvallis Oregon, has won a Department of Energy grant of up to $226 million dollars to enable deployment of their small modular reactor. The units would be factory built in the United States, and their small size enables a number of potential niche applications. NuScale argues that their design includes a number of unique passive safety features: 'NuScale's 45-megawatt reactor, which can be grouped with others to form a utility-scale plant, would sit in a 5 million-gallon pool of water underground. That means it needs no pumps to inject water to cool it in an emergency - an issue ... highlighted by Japan's crippled Fukushima plant.' This was the second of two DOE small modular reactor grants; the first was awarded to Babcock and Wilcox, a stalwart in the nuclear industry."
itwbennett writes "Two reports out this week, one a new 'codex' released by 451 Research and the other an updated survey into cloud IaaS pricing from Redmonk, show just how insane cloud pricing has become. If your job requires you to read these reports, good luck. For the rest of us, Redmonk's Stephen O'Grady distilled the pricing trends down to this: 'HP offers the best compute value and instance sizes for the dollar. Google offers the best value for memory, but to get there it appears to have sacrificed compute. AWS is king in value for disk and it appears no one else is even trying to come close. Microsoft is taking the 'middle of the road,' never offering the best or worst pricing.'"
cartechboy writes "How many Nissan Leafs does it take to power an office building? The answer, it turns out, is six. Nissan is the latest Japanese automaker to explore electric "vehicle-to-building" setups, this time with impressive results. The company started testing its latest system at the Nissan Advanced Technology Center in Atsugi City, Japan, during the summer. It found that just six Leafs plugged in to the building's power supply allowed it to cut peak-hour electricity use by 2 percent. Annualized, that's a savings of half a million yen (about $4,800 US) in electricity costs. How it works: The building pulls electricity from the plugged-in vehicles during peak-use hours, when power is most expensive, and then sends the power back to recharge the cars when grid prices fall. Nissan says the system is set up to ensure the cars are fully charged by the end of the workday. (Is this a devious secret way to make sure workers stay until a certain time?) Next up: Why not just do this using batteries--never mind the cars?"
astroengine writes "A coolant system glitch on the International Space Station has forced several of the orbital outpost's modules offline as astronauts and ground control manage the problem. The crew are not in danger and ground control teams are currently working to see how best to troubleshoot. The issue, that occurred early on Wednesday, focuses on one of the space station's two external ammonia cooling loops, along which the station's electrical systems use to regulate their temperatures. The loop 'automatically shut down when it reached pre-set temperature limits,' said NASA in a statement. It is thought that a flow control valve in the ammonia pump itself may have malfunctioned."
Dan Rosenbaum is the editor and publisher of Wearable Tech Insider, which means he covers wearable technology every day. He's obviously a good person to chat with if we want to learn what's going on in the wearable tech world. So we did just that. The overall sense we got is that wearable tech is less of a gimmick than it was a few years ago, but isn't necessarily something all of us need quite yet. One note here: Dan is not a Google Glass fan. Watch the video (or read the transcript) to find out why.
gbrumfiel writes "For the past two decades, about 10 percent of all the electricity consumed in the United States has come from Russian nuclear warheads. Under a program called Megatons to Megawatts, Russian highly-enriched uranium was pulled from old bombs and made into fuel for nuclear reactors. NPR News reports that the program concludes today when the last shipment arrives at a U.S. storage facility. In all nearly 500 tons of uranium was recycled, enough for roughly 20,000 warheads."
DeviceGuru writes "AirTame has developed an AirPlay-like protocol and HDMI dongle for 1080p video streaming and screen mirroring from PCs to PCs and TVs, and has substantially exceeded its $160,000 Indiegogo funding goal. AirTame streams from Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs to other PCs via apps at both ends, and to TVs via the HDMI dongle, and also offers a multicast mode for broadcasting to multiple PCs and TVs for use in classrooms or conferences. But at least initially, there won't be support for Android or iOS devices in the mix, due OS restrictions. The company says it plans to release AirTame's software, API, and protocol source code under a dual-license enabling free use with GPL-like restrictions, and paid use for commercial applications requiring proprietary modifications."
An anonymous reader writes "There is a lot of advice about backing up data, but it seems to boil down to distributing it to several places (other local or network drives, off-site drives, in the cloud, etc.). We have hundreds of thousands of family pictures and videos we're trying to save using this advice. But in some sparse searching of our archives, we're seeing bitrot destroying our memories. With the quantity of data (~2 TB at present), it's not really practical for us to examine every one of these periodically so we can manually restore them from a different copy. We'd love it if the filesystem could detect this and try correcting first, and if it couldn't correct the problem, it could trigger the restoration. But that only seems to be an option for RAID type systems, where the drives are colocated. Is there a combination of tools that can automatically detect these failures and restore the data from other remote copies without us having to manually examine each image/video and restore them by hand? (It might also be reasonable to ask for the ability to detect a backup drive with enough errors that it needs replacing altogether.)"
Nerval's Lobster writes "The so-called "Internet of Things" has rapidly become a buzzword du jour, with everyone from tech-giant CEOs to analysts rhapsodizing about the benefits of connecting everyday objects and appliances to the Web. Despite all the hype, some significant obstacles remain to fulfilling that vision of a massively interconnected world. For starters, all the players involved need to agree on shared frameworks for building compatible software—something that seems well on its way with the just-announced AllSeen Alliance, which includes Sharp, Cisco, LG Electronics, Qualcomm, Panasonic, D-Link, and the Linux Foundation (among many others). In theory, the AllSeen Alliance's combined software and engineering resources will result in open-source systems capable of seamless communication with one another. The Alliance will base its initial framework on AllJoyn, an open-source framework first developed by Qualcomm and subsequently elaborated upon by other firms. Applications and services that support AllJoyn can communicate "regardless of manufacturer or operating system and without the need for Internet access," according to the Alliance, whose Website offers the initial codebase. "Open source is the ideal, neutral staging area for collaboration that can provide the interoperability layer needed to make the Internet of Everything a reality," read a Dec. 10 note on the Linux Foundation's official blog. "When everyone jointly develops and uses the same freely available code, companies can develop innovative services on top of it and get them to market faster." However, not all companies interested in exploring the Internet of Things have joined the AllSeen Alliance. For example, Intel isn't a partner, despite having recently created a new division, the Internet of Things Solutions Group, to explore how to best make devices and networks more connected and aware."
hypnosec writes "Researchers have developed and open-sourced a low-cost 3D metal printer capable of printing metal tools and objects that can be build for under £1,000. A team of researchers led by Associate Professor Joshua Pearce at the Michigan Technological University developed the firmware and the plans for the printer and have made it available freely. The open source 3D printer is definitely a huge leap forward as the starting price of commercial counterparts is around £300,000. Pearce claimed that their technology will not only allow smaller companies and start-ups to build inexpensive prototypes, but it will allow other scientists and researchers to build tools and objects required for their research without having to shell out thousands, and could be used to print parts for machines such as windmills." It's a modified RepRap; looks like we're getting closer to the RepRap being able to print all of its parts.
cagraham writes "The WSJ, combing through Amazon's Q3 earnings report, found that the company is currently using 1,400 robots across three of their fulfillment centers. The machines are made by Kiva Systems (a company acquired by Amazon last year), and help to warehouses more efficient by bringing the product shelves to the workers. The workers then select the right item from the shelf, box it, and place it on the conveyor line, while another shelf is brought. The management software that runs the robots can speed or slow down item pacing, reroute valuable orders to more experienced workers, and redistribute workloads to prevent backlogs."
szczys writes "Bil Herd was the designer and hardware lead for the Commodore C128. He reminisces about the herculean effort his team took on in order to bring the hardware to market in just five months. At the time the company had the resources to roll their own silicon (that's right, custom chips!) but this also meant that for three of those five months they didn't actually have the integrated circuits the computer was based on."
Zothecula writes "Industrial robots have proven useful in reducing production costs in large factories, with major enterprises enlisting their services to execute repetitive tasks. The Factory-in-a-Day project, which kicked off in October, aims to also make robotic technology beneficial to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), by developing adaptable robots that can be integrated with workplace systems within 24 hours."
walterbyrd writes "A team of engineers at Microsoft Research have developed a high-tech bra that's intended to monitor women's stress levels and dissuade them from emotional over-eating. The undergarment has sensors that track the user's heart rate, respiration, skin conductance and movement — all of which can indicate the type of stressful emotions that lead to over-eating, according to Microsoft researchers. The data is sent to a smartphone app, which then alerts users about their mood."
First time accepted submitter prajendran writes "James Hansen, the former director of the Goddard Institute of Space Sciences, has been a strong defender of using nuclear energy to replace coal and renewable energy. He and three other researchers had written a letter, arguing just this. In this interview with rediff.com, an Indian news site, he was asked to address some concerns surrounding the issue, especially given the strong feelings generated by it. It may not be Hansen's best interview, but it did bring out his passionate side."
dcblogs writes "IDC expects that anywhere from 25% to 30% of all the servers shipped next year will be delivered to cloud services providers. In three years, 2017, nearly 45% of all the servers leaving manufacturers will be bought by cloud providers. The shift is slowing the purchase of server sales to enterprise IT. The increased use of SaaS is a major reason for the market shift, but so is virtualization to increase server capacity. Data center consolidations are eliminating servers as well, along with the purchase of denser servers capable of handling larger loads. The increased use of cloud-based providers is roiling the server market, and is expected to help send server revenue down 3.5% this year, according to IDC."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Lindsay Abrams reports at Salon that the Obama administration is offering wind farms 30 years of leeway to kill and harm bald and golden eagles. The new regulations, which were requested by the wind industry, will provide companies that seek a permit with legal protection, preventing them from having to pay penalties for eagle deaths (PDF). An investigation by the Associated Press earlier this year documented the illegal killing of eagles around wind farms, the Obama administration's reluctance to prosecute such cases and its willingness to help keep the scope of the eagle deaths secret. President Obama has championed the pollution-free energy, nearly doubling America's wind power in his first term as a way to tackle global warming. Scientists say wind farms in 10 states have killed at least 85 eagles since 1997, with most deaths occurring between 2008 and 2012, as the industry was greatly expanding. Most deaths — 79 — were golden eagles that struck wind turbines. However the scientists said their figure is likely to be 'substantially' underestimated, since companies report eagle deaths voluntarily and only a fraction of those included in their total were discovered during searches for dead birds by wind-energy companies. The National Audubon Society said it would challenge the decision."
stox tips an article from Nobel Week Dialogue about the biggest problem of the nuclear power industry: it's not fun anymore. The author, Ashutosh Jogalekar, expands upon this quote from Freeman Dyson: "The fundamental problem of the nuclear industry is not reactor safety, not waste disposal, not the dangers of nuclear proliferation, real though all these problems are. The fundamental problem of the industry is that nobody any longer has any fun building reactors. Sometime between 1960 and 1970 the fun went out of the business. The adventurers, the experimenters, the inventors, were driven out, and the accountants and managers took control. The accountants and managers decided that it was not cost effective to let bright people play with weird reactors." Jogalekar adds, "For any technological development to be possible, the technology needs to drive itself with the fuel of Darwinian innovation. It needs to generate all possible ideas – including the weird ones – and then fish out the best while ruthlessly weeding out the worst. ... Nothing like this happened with nuclear power. It was a technology whose development was dictated by a few prominent government and military officials and large organizations and straitjacketed within narrow constraints. ... The result was that the field remained both scientifically narrow and expensive. Even today there are only a handful of companies building and operating most of the world's reactors. To reinvigorate the promise of nuclear power to provide cheap energy to the world and combat climate change, the field needs to be infused with the same entrepreneurial spirit that pervaded the TRIGA design team and the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs."
MojoKid writes "A leaked Intel roadmap for solid state storage technology suggests the company is pushing ahead with its plans to introduce new high-end drives based on cutting-edge NAND flash. It's significant for Intel to be adopting 20nm NAND in its highest-end data center products, because of the challenges smaller NAND nodes present in terms of data retention and reliability. Intel introduced 20nm NAND lower in the product stack over a year ago, but apparently has waited till now to bring 20nm to the highest end. Reportedly, next year, Intel will debut three new drive families — the SSD Pro 2500 Series (codenamed Temple Star), the DC P3500 Series (Pleasantdale) and the DC P3700 Series (Fultondale). The Temple Star family uses the M.2 and M.25 form factors, which are meant to replace the older mSATA form factor for ultrabooks and tablets. The M.2 standard allows more space on PCBs for actual NAND storage and can interface with PCIe, SATA, and USB 3.0-attached storage in the same design. The new high-end enterprise drives, meanwhile, will hit 2TB (up from 800GB), ship in 2.5" and add-in card form factors, and offer vastly improved performance. The current DC S3700 series offers 500MBps writes and 460MBps reads. The DC P3700 will increase this to 2800MBps read and 1700MBps writes. The primary difference between the DC P3500 and DC P3700 families appears to be that the P3700 family will use Intel's High Endurance Technology (HET) MLC, while the DC P3500 family sticks with traditional MLC."
walterbyrd sends this news from Techworld: "A Microsoft storage patent that was used to get a sales ban on products from Google-owned Motorola Mobility in Germany has been invalidated by the German Federal Patent Court. Microsoft's FAT (File Allocation Table) patent, which concerns a 'common name space for long and short filenames' was invalidated on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the Federal Patent Court said in an email Friday. She could not give the exact reasons for the court's decision before the written judicial decision is released, which will take a few weeks."
sfcrazy writes "A team of extremely creative people have created a really inexpensive bullet time set-up using Raspberry Pis — and the whole set-up costs less than a professional DSLR camera. The rig looks more like the LHC at CERN using nearly half a kilometre of network cables, 48 Raspberry Pis fitted with cameras and PiFace Control. The rig worked perfectly — in terms of doing what a bullet time set-up should do. Raspberry Pis achieved the Hollywood's 'frozen time' effect at a much lesser cost."
cartechboy writes "Does the Tesla Model S suck down power even when the car is switched off? Recently, a tweet to Elon Musk with an article saying so sparked the Tesla CEO's attention. He tweeted that it wasn't right and that he'd look into the situation. Then a few hours later, he tweeted that the issue had to do with a bad 12-volt battery. Turns out Tesla had already called the owner of the affected car and sent a service tech to his house to replace that battery — and also install a newer build of the car's software. Now it appears the 'Vampire Draw' has been slain. The car went from using 4.5 kWh per day while turned off to a mere 1.1 kWh. So, it seems to be solved, but Tesla may either need to fix some software, or start sending a few new 12-volt batteries out to the folks still experiencing the issue."
Kristian vonBengtson writes "Wanna build your own space capsule capable of doing an atmospheric re-entry on a suborbital mission? Well, here are some production hints and a visual guide." The initial stages begin with sketches on paper before moving to 3D design software. He writes, "A whole bunch of sketches were done to get some kind of initial idea of the size, subsystems layout and how to actually produce the capsule while keeping an open structure for further development and potential changes. One of the main concerns was the small size and the ability to easy install and replace avionics. This led to the decision that all external side panels will have to accommodate being taken on and off – no welding, only on the main structure." Afterward, he moves on to show the final metal cuts and how the pieces are put together via bolts and welding.
itwbennett writes "Broadcom Chairman and CTO Henry Samueli has some bad news for you: Moore's Law isn't making chips cheaper anymore because it now requires complicated manufacturing techniques that are so expensive they cancel out the cost savings. Instead of getting more speed, less power consumption and lower cost with each generation, chip makers now have to choose two out of three, Samueli said. He pointed to new techniques such as High-K Metal Gate and FinFET, which have been used in recent years to achieve new so-called process nodes. The most advanced process node on the market, defined by the size of the features on a chip, is due to reach 14 nanometers next year. At levels like that, chip makers need more than traditional manufacturing techniques to achieve the high density, Samueli said. The more dense chips get, the more expensive it will be to make them, he said."
£10 BlinkStick kit (£15 pre-assembled), you get a programmable multi-color LED that's about the size of a flash memory key. Deceptively simple -- it's essentially one giant pixel, after all, which might not sound exciting when you have millions of them on a dense display surface. But that LED light is something you can use as a signal for alarms, or to tell you that you have a message from one app while another is at full-screen, or practically anything else that you can devise software to notice and react to. I get the sense that Juskevicius would prefer that people get the kit version, to help spur interest in actually soldering some hardware rather than just plugging it in. If you're allergic to paying in other than U.S. dollars, the BlinkStick is also available from Adafruit Industries. Watch the video below to see it in action.
curtwoodward writes "For some reason, we're still plugging in electric-powered devices like a bunch of savages. But technology developed at MIT could soon make that a thing of the past, at least for hybrid cars. A small Boston-area company, WiTricity, is a key part of Toyota's growing experiment with wireless charging tech---something the world's largest car maker says it will start seriously testing in the U.S., Japan and Europe next year. The system works by converting AC to a higher frequency and voltage and sending it to a receiver that resonates at the same frequency, making it possible to transfer the power safely via magnetic field. Intel and Foxconn are also investors, and you might see them license the tech soon as well."
doom writes "Ian Sample at the Guardian UK does a really thorough write-up of what's going on with the Fukushima Clean-up. From the article: 'Though delicate and painstaking, retrieving the fuel rod assemblies from the pools is not the toughest job the workers face. More challenging by far will be digging out the molten cores in the reactors themselves. Some of the fuel burned through its primary containment and is now mixed with cladding, steel and concrete. The mixture will have to be broken up, sealed in steel containers and moved to a nuclear waste storage site. That work will not start until some time after 2020.'"
sl4shd0rk writes "It seems you can be arrested in Georgia for drawing 5 cents of electricity from a school's outdoor receptacle. Kaveh Kamooneh was charged with theft for plugging his Nissan Leaf into a Chamblee Middle School 110V outlet; the same outlet one could use to charge a laptop or cellphone. The Leaf draws 1KW/hour while charging which works out to under $0.10 of electricity per hour. Mr Kamooneh charged his Leaf for less than 30 minutes, which works out to about a nickel. Sgt. Ernesto Ford, the arresting officer, pointed out, 'theft is a theft,' which was his argument for arresting Mr. Kamooneh. Considering the cost of the infraction, it does not seem a reasonable decision when considering how much this will cost the state in legal funds. Does this mean anyone charging a laptop or cell phone will be charged with theft as well?"
nk497 writes "Consumer hard drives don't fail any more often than enterprise-grade hardware — despite the price difference. That's according to online storage firm Backblaze, which uses a mix of both types of drive. It studied its own hardware, finding consumer hard-drives had a failure rate of 4.2%, while enterprise-grade drives failed at a rate of 4.6%. CEO Gleb Budman noted: 'It turns out that the consumer drive failure rate does go up after three years, but all three of the first three years are pretty good,' he notes. 'We have no data on enterprise drives older than two years, so we don't know if they will also have an increase in failure rate. It could be that the vaunted reliability of enterprise drives kicks in after two years, but because we haven't seen any of that reliability in the first two years, I'm skeptical.'"
sfcrazy writes "The creator of the most sought after 'Android' of the world has been secretly working on creating a robotics division within Google. The search engine giant has acquired over seven robotics companies recently to create the robotics unit which is being headed by none other than Andy Rubin himself. Andy made the disclosure in an interview given to the New York Times." Their initial goal is to automate the woefully manual process of electronics manufacturing.
OldJuke writes "Called the YotaPhone, the device pairs a traditional LCD color touch-screen on one side with a black-and-white, electronic-paper display on the other, allowing users to continuously view data in real time without having to constantly wake up their phones and drain their batteries. General interaction will be done through the LCD screen, but the e-paper display allows an image to be displayed at all times — from maps, airline boarding passes and family photos to Twitter messages and emails — but only uses power when the picture changes. BBC News interviewed the company's leader, Vlad Martynov, for a hands-on demonstration."
TheRealHocusLocus writes "Extreme bandwidth is nice, intelligent power management is cool... but folks should be spilling into the streets in thankful praise that the next generation miniature USB connector will fit either way. All told — just how many intricate miracle devices have been scrapped in their prime — because a tiny USB port was mangled? For millennia untold chimpanzees and people have been poking termite mounds with round sticks. I for one am glad to see round stick technology make its way into consumer electronics. Death to the trapezoid, bring back the rectangle! So... since we're on roll here... how many other tiny annoyances that lead to big fails are out there?" The new connector will be smaller too.
theodp writes "'The desktop or laptop is now in decline,' writes John Sall, 'squeezed from one side by mobile platforms and from the other side by the cloud. As a developer of desktop software [by choice not necessity], I believe it is time to address the challenges to our viability. Is software for the desktop PC now the living dead, or zombieware.' While conceding there's some truth to truisms about the death of the desktop, Sall believes there's still life in the old desktop dog, 'We live in a world of computing where dreams come true,' Sall concludes. 'The mainframe bows to the minicomputer. The minicomputer bows to the personal computer. The personal computer bows to the tablet and smart phone. It seems as if these will soon bow to the smart watch or smart glasses. But at each step along the way, some applications find their best home – and other applications as well as new applications find the more convenient and smaller home better...So let's keep our desktops and laptops, our PCs and Macs. They are amazingly good at what they do.'"
MojoKid writes "There's a great deal riding on the launch of AMD's next-generation Kaveri APU. The new chip will be the first processor from AMD to incorporate significant architectural changes to the Bulldozer core AMD launched two years ago and the first chip to use a graphics core derived from AMD's GCN (Graphics Core Next) architecture. A strong Kaveri launch could give AMD back some momentum in the enthusiast business. Details are emerging that point to a Kaveri APU that's coming in hot — possibly a little hotter than some of us anticipated. Kaveri's Steamroller CPU core separates some of the core functions that Bulldozer unified and should substantially improve the chip's front-end execution. Unlike Piledriver, which could only decode four instructions per module per cycle (and topped out at eight instructions for a quad-core APU), Steamroller can decode four instructions per core or 16 instructions per quad-core module. The A10-7850K will offer a 512-core GPU while the A10-7700K will be a 384-core part. Again, GPU clock speeds have come down, from 844MHz on the A10-6800K to 720MHz on the new A10-7850K but should be offset by the gains from moving to AMD's GCN architecture."
symbolset writes "Zach Whittaker over at ZDNet covers an IDC report. In it the 2013 9.7% forecast decline in PC shipments is advanced to 10.1%. Further, IDC's longer-term forecast turns quite grim: contracting 23% from 2012 levels by 2017. There is also a projection of future Windows tablet sales, and a statement that total Windows tablet sales for 2013 are expected to be 'less than 7.5 million units.'"
First time accepted submitter wick3t writes "The Neo900 fundraising campaign has already achieved the milestone of 200 pre-orders which means that mass production is now feasible. This follows a successful first prototype that was showcased at the OpenPhoenux-Hard-Software-Workshop 2013. Their next target is 1000 pre-orders as they aspire to reduce the production costs of each device." For those not familiar, the Neo 900 is an offshoot of the OpenMoko GTA04 designed for use in the popular Nokia N900 case (and, yes, they're fixing the weak usb port).
ckwu writes "As a way to generate renewable electricity, researchers have designed methods that harvest the energy released when fresh and saline water mix, such as when a river meets the sea. One such method is called pressure-retarded osmosis, where two streams of water, one saline and one fresh, meet in a cell divided by a semipermeable membrane. Osmosis drives the freshwater across the membrane to the saltier side, increasing the pressure in the saline solution. The system keeps this salty water pressurized and then releases the pressure to spin a turbine to generate electricity. Now a team at Yale University has created a prototype device that increases the power output of pressure-retarded osmosis by an order of magnitude. At a full-scale facility, the estimated cost of the electricity generated by such a system could be 20 to 30 cents per kWh, approaching the cost of other conventional renewable energy technologies."
Zothecula writes "Last August, it looked as if NASA's Kepler space telescope was as good as scrap due to the failure of its attitude control system. Now the space agency proposes what it calls the K2 mission concept, which may fix the problem by using the Sun to regain attitude control and allow Kepler to resume its search for extrasolar planets."
sandbagger writes "The Large Hadron Collider is the world's biggest science experiment. When spinning, it reportedly generates up to six gigs of data per second. Today's six-terabyte tape cartridges fill rapidly when you're creating that amount of material. The Economist reports that despite the advances in SSDs and hard drives, tape still seems to be the way to go when you need to store massive amounts of digital assets."
theodp writes "'The night watchman of the future,' explains the NY Times' John Markoff, 'is 5 feet tall, weighs 300 pounds and looks a lot like R2-D2 – without the whimsy. And will work for $6.25 an hour.' California-based Knightscope has developed a mobile robot known as the K5 Autonomous Data Machine as a safety and security tool for corporations, as well as for schools and neighborhoods. 'But what is for some a technology-laden route to safer communities and schools,' writes Markoff, 'is to others an entry point to a post-Orwellian, post-privacy world.'"
judgecorp writes "Fujitsu has launched a laptop which authenticates users using the veins of their palm. The contactless technology is hard to deceive and — since it detects haemoglobin in the veins, is not so likely to be breakable using the gruesome method of cutting off a hand."
DeviceGuru writes "DM&P Group has begun shipping a $39 Arduino compatible boardset and similar mini-PC equipped with a new computer-on-module based on a new 300MHz x86 compatible Vortex86EX system-on-chip. The $39 86Duino Zero boardset mimics an Arduino Leonardo, in terms of both form-factor and I/O expansion. The tiny $49 86Duino Educake mini-PC incorportates the same functionality, but in a 78 x 70 x 29mm enclosure with an integrated I/O expansion breadboard built into its top surface. The mini-PC's front and back provide 2x USB, audio in/out, Ethernet, and COM interfaces, power input, and an SD card slot. The hardware and software source for all the boards, including the computer-on-module, are available for download under open source licenses at the 86Duino.com website."
An anonymous reader writes "On Cyber Monday, millions of Americans will take to the Internet in search of the newest gadgets to bestow upon their loved ones. Most of these 'gifts' are trojan horses that will spy on their recipients, prevent them from doing what they want with their device, or maybe even block access to their favorite books or music. The Free Software Foundation is proud to introduce a map through this minefield: our 2013 Giving Guide. The Giving Guide features gifts that will not only make your recipients jump for joy; these gifts will also protect their freedom."
Zothecula writes "When was the last time you heard about a sea turtle getting stuck in a shipwreck? Never, that's when. Although that's partly because stuck turtles rarely make the news, it's also due to the fact that they're relatively small and highly maneuverable. With that in mind, the European Union-funded ARROWS project has created U-CAT – a prototype robotic sunken-ship-exploring sea turtle."
JDG1980 writes "OCZ, a manufacturer of solid-state drives, says it will file for bankruptcy. This move is being forced by Hercules Technology Growth Capital, which had lent $30 million to OCZ under terms that were later breached. The most likely outcome of this bankruptcy is that OCZ's assets (including the Indilinx controller IP) will be purchased by Toshiba. If this deal falls through, the company will be liquidated. No word yet on what a Toshiba purchase would mean in terms of warranty support for OCZ's notoriously unreliable drives."
An anonymous reader writes "Google has launched the Google Voice Search Hotword extension for Chrome, bringing the 'OK Google' feature to the desktop. You can download the new tool, currently in beta, now directly from the Chrome Web Store. Android users with version 4.4 KitKat will recognize the feature: it lets you talk to Google without first clicking or typing. It's completely hands-free, provided you're already on Google.com: just say 'OK Google' and then ask your question." Quick, someone wire Pocketsphinx up to Firefox, or integrate Simon into Krunner.
muterobert writes "The Oculus Rift has competition, and it's incredible. The InfinitEye has a 210 degree field of view (compared with the Oculus Rift's 90) and surrounds your peripheral vision in the game completely. Paul James from RoadToVR goes in-depth with the team behind the new device and finds out how high-FOV Virtual Reality really works. Quoting: 'At the present time, we are using 4 renders, 2 per eye. Left eye renders are centered on left eye, the first render is rotated 90 left and the second looks straight ahead, building two sides of a cube. Right eye renders are centered on its position, the first is rotated 90 degree right and the second looks straight ahead, two sides of another cube. We then process those renders in a final pass, building the distorted image.'"