Bug

Some Reversible USB-C Cables/Adapters Could Cause Irreversible Damage 97

TheRealHocusLocus writes: Three Decembers ago I lauded the impending death of the trapezoid. Celebration of the rectangle might be premature however, because in the rush-to-market an appalling number of chargers, cables and legacy adapters have been discovered to be non-compliant. There have been performance issues with bad USB implementation all along, but now — with improved conductors USB-C offers to negotiate up to 3A in addition the 900ma base, so use of a non-compliant adapter may result in damage. Google engineer and hero Benson Leung has been waging a one-man compliance campaign of Amazon reviews to warn of dodgy devices and praise the good. Reddit user bmcclure937 offers a spreadsheet summary of the reviews. It's a jungle out there, don't get fried.
Intel

Intel Says Chips To Become Slower But More Energy Efficient (thestack.com) 242

An anonymous reader writes: William Holt, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Intel's Technology and Manufacturing Group, has said at a conference that chips will become slower after industry re-tools for new technologies such as spintronics and tunneling transistors. "The best pure technology improvements we can make will bring improvements in power consumption but will reduce speed." If true, it's not just the end of Moore's Law, but a rolling back of the progress it made over the last fifty years.
Books

Amazon's Thin Helvetica Syndrome: Font Anorexia vs. Kindle Readability (teleread.com) 124

David Rothman writes: The Thin Helvetica Syndrome arises from the latest Kindle upgrade and has made e-books less readable for some. In the past, e-book-lovers who needed more perceived-contrast between text and background could find at least partial relief in Helvetica because the font was heavy by Kindle standards. But now some users complain that the 5.7.2 upgrade actually made Helvetica thinner. Of course, the real cure would be an all-text bold option for people who need it, or even a way to adjust font weight, a feature of Kobo devices. But Amazon stubbornly keeps ignoring user pleas even though the cost of adding either feature would be minimal. Isn't this supposed to be a customer-centric company?
Bug

Have Your iPhone 6 Repaired, Only To Get It Bricked By Apple (theguardian.com) 347

New submitter Nemosoft Unv. writes: In case you had a problem with the fingerprint sensor or some other small defect on your iPhone 6 and had it repaired by a non-official (read: cheaper) shop, you may be in for a nasty surprise: error 53. What happens is that during an OS update or re-install the software checks the internal hardware and if it detects a non-Apple component, it will display an error 53 and brick your phone. Any photos or other data held on the handset is lost – and irretrievable. Thousands of people have flocked to forums to express their dismay at this. What's more insiduous is that the error may only appear weeks or months after the repair. Incredibly, Apple says this cannot be fixed by any hard- or software update, while it is clearly their software that causes the problem in the first place. And then you thought FTDI was being nasty ...
Security

MIT Reveals "Hack-Proof" RFID Chip (thestack.com) 52

JustAnotherOldGuy writes: A group of researchers at MIT and Texas Instruments claim that they have developed a new radio frequency identification chip that may be impossible to hack. Traditional RFID chips are vulnerable to side-channel attacks, whereby a hacker can extract a cryptographic key from the chip. The new RFID chip runs a random-number generator that creates a new secret key after each transaction. The key can then be verified with a server to ensure that it is correct. The group at MIT also incorporated protection against a power-glitch attack, an attack that would normally leave a chip vulnerable to an interruption of the power source that would in turn halt the creation of a new secret key. Texas Instruments CTO Ahmad Bahai stated, "We believe this research is an important step toward the goal of a robust, lo-cost, low-power authentication protocol for the industrial internet." The question is, how long will it be before this "hack proof" chip is hacked?
Power

Porsche Builds Photovoltaic Pylon, Offsetting Luddite Position On Self-Drive (thestack.com) 207

An anonymous reader writes: Porsche has just completed an impressive 25-meter high photovoltaic pylon. The construction, lonely in its current position and strongly resembling the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, comprises 7,776 solar cells and is capable of generating up to 30,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. From 2017 it will power the elite car manufacturer's new Berlin-Adlershof Porsche center. Porsche is keen to show a progressive stance on its new range of electric vehicles, considering that it has no intention of joining the movement towards self-driving.
Security

Push To Hack: Reverse Engineering an IP Camera (contextis.com) 35

New submitter tetraverse writes: For our most recent IoT adventure, we've examined an outdoor cloud security camera [the Motorola Focus 73] which like many devices of its generation a) has an associated mobile app b) is quick to setup and c) presents new security threats to your network. From the article: This blog describes in detail how we were able to exploit the camera without access to the local network, steal secrets including the home networkâ(TM)s Wi-Fi password, obtain full control of the PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) controls and redirect the video feed and movement alerts to our own server; effectively watching the watchers.
Ubuntu

Canonical Reveals the BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Tablet (omgubuntu.co.uk) 88

LichtSpektren writes: Several tech sites have now broke the news that Canonical has revealed their BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Tablet. Joey-Elijah Sneddon builds the hype: "A stunning 10.1-inch IPS touch display powered a full HD 1920×1200 pixel resolution at 240 ppi. Inside is a 64-bit MediaTek MT8163A 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal memory. A micro SD memory card is included, adding storage expansion of up to 64GB. Furthermore, the converged slate includes an 8-megapixel rear camera with autofocus and dual LED flash (and capable of recording in full 1080p), plus a front facing 3-megapixel camera for video chats, vlogs and selfies. Front facing Dolby Atmos speakers will provide a superior sound experience during movie playback. The M10 measure 246mm x 171mm x 8.2mm, weighs just 470 grams — lighter than the Apple iPad Air — and has a 7280 mAh battery to give up to 10 hours of use. ... Tablet mode offers a side stage for running two apps side-by-side, plus a full range of legacy desktop applications, mobile apps and scopes. LibreOffice, Mozilla Firefox, The GIMP and Gedit are among a 'curated collection of legacy apps' to ship pre-installed on the tablet. It will also be possible for developers and enthusiasts to install virtually any ARM compatible app available on Ubuntu using the familiar 'apt-get' command." A photo gallery can also be seen on his website here. The price is not yet announced, but the Android version of the same tablet is currently on sale for €229.
Medicine

To Respond To a Disease Outbreak, Bring In the Portable Genome Sequencers (ieee.org) 33

the_newsbeagle writes: Epidemiologists working on Zika virus could benefit from portable genome sequencers, like these used during the Ebola outbreak. In spring 2015, researchers conducted the first experiment in real-time genetic surveillance during an infectious disease epidemic. The researchers packed all their equipment in a couple of suitcases and set up a mobile lab in Guinea, where they used palm-sized sequencing devices to analyze viral RNA from 142 patients. Genomic data can illuminate the chains of transmission in an outbreak, and can help scientists develop diagnostics and vaccines.
Bug

IRS Computer Problems Shut Down Tax Return E-file System (foxnews.com) 164

Mr.Intel writes: The IRS stopped accepting electronically filed tax returns Wednesday because of problems with some of its computer systems. The outage could affect refunds, but the agency said it doesn't anticipate "major disruptions." A "hardware failure" forced the shutdown of several tax processing systems, including the e-file system, the IRS said in a statement. The IRS.gov website remains available, but "where's my refund" and other services are not working. Some systems will be out of service at least until Thursday, the agency said. "The IRS is currently in the process of making repairs and working to restore normal operations as soon as possible," the IRS said.
Medicine

Cheap At $40,000: Phoenix Exoskeleton Gives Paraplegics Legs to Walk With 37

Fast Company highlights the cheap-for-the-price Phoenix exoskeleton, created by University of California Berkeley professor (and Berkeley Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory director) Homayoon Kazerooni and a team of his former grad students at SuitX, a company Kazerooni founded in 2013. Set to sell for $40,000 when it goes on sale next month, the Phoenix sounds expensive -- except compared to the alternatives. For paraplegic patients, there are a handful of other powered exoskeletons, but they cost much more, and are engineered for more than the modest goals of the Phoenix, which allows only one thing: slow walking on level ground. That limited objective means that the rig is light (27 pounds), and relatively unobtrusive. Kazerooni says that he'd like the price to go down much further, too, noting that all the technology in a modern motorcyle can be had for the quarter of the price. A slice: [The] only driving motors in Phoenix are at the hip joints. When the user hits a forward button on their crutches, their left hip swings forward. At this moment, the onboard computer signals the knee to become loose, flex, and clear the ground. As the foot hits, the knee joint stiffens again to support the leg. This computer-choreographed process repeats for the right leg. As it happens, this hinged knee joint has another benefit. If the wearer hits something midstep, like a rock or a curb, a powered knee would blindly drive the leg forward anyway, likely leading to a fall. The hinge naturally absorbs such resistance and allows the wearer a chance to compensate.
Data Storage

Storing Very Large Files On Amazon's Unlimited Cloud Photo Storage 224

AmiMoJo writes: Last year Amazon started offering unlimited cloud storage for photos to customers who subscribed to its "Prime" service. Japanese user YDKK has developed a tool to store arbitrary data inside a .bmp file, which can then be uploaded to Amazon's service. A 1.44GB test image containing an executable file uploaded at over 250Mb/sec, far faster than typical cloud storage services that are rate limited and don't allow extremely large files.
Bug

Ask Slashdot: Fixing UVC Camera Issues Under Windows? 147

Khyber writes: I bought some cheap Chinese camera glasses with built-in microphones. These are (supposedly) UVC cameras manufactured in 2015. Under Windows XP, these cameras are seen perfectly fine and work as web cameras; even the microphones work. Under Windows 7, the camera appears to install just fine, however I get the 'This device can perform faster if you connect to USB 2.0' (which it is connected to) and when I try to load it up with any camera viewer such as manycam or any chat program's built-in previewer, I cannot receive any video from the camera. I can get audio from the camera microphones under Windows 7, so I am wondering if the camera device is having problems enumerating as a USB 2.0 device due to some change in Windows 7 (which it doesn't seem to have issues doing under XP,) or if the UVC driver for Windows 7 is missing something in comparison to the one used for Windows XP. Anybody else had issues getting newer UVC cameras to work in newer operating systems?
Government

MIT Inches Closer To ARC Reactor Despite Losing Federal Funding (computerworld.com) 179

Lucas123 writes: Experimenting with a fusion device over the past 20 years has edged MIT researchers to their final goal, creating a small and relatively inexpensive ARC reactor, three of which would produce enough energy to power a city the size of Boston. The lessons already learned from MIT's even current Alcator C-Mod fusion device — with a plasma radius of just 0.68 meters — have enabled researchers to publish a paper on a prototype ARC that would be the world's smallest fusion reactor but with the greatest magnetic force and energy output for its size. The ARC would require 50MW to run while putting out about 200MW of electricity to the grid. Key to MIT's ARC reactor would be the use of a "high-temperature" rare-earth barium copper oxide (REBCO) superconducting tape for its magnetic coils, which only need to be cooled to 100 Kelvin, which enables the use of abundant liquid nitrogen as a cooling agent. Other fusion reactors' superconducting coils must be cooled to 4 degrees Kelvin. While there remain hurdles to overcome, such as sustaining the fusion reaction long enough to achieve a net power return, building the ARC would only take 4 to 5 years and cost about $5 billion, compared to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), the world's largest tokamak fusion reactor due to go online and begin producing energy in 2027.
Input Devices

Low-Cost EEG Head-Sets Promise Virtual Reality Feedback Loops (thestack.com) 35

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from the University of Memphis have found that it's possible to use a low-cost EEG device such as the $300 Emotiv Epoc to understand how a user is feeling — opening up the path to genuine psycho-biological feedback in virtual/augmented reality scenarios. The Epoc has been used, in combination with the Razer Hydra, to give users control over VR/AR environments, but integrating emotional feedback into VR environments heralds many new possibilities in the fields of medical research, gaming — and, of course, marketing research.
Microsoft

Microsoft To Acquire SwiftKey Predictive Keyboard Technology Company For $250M (hothardware.com) 117

MojoKid writes: SwiftKey has been one of the more popular predictive keyboard offerings in the mobile space since it was first released in beta form on the Android market back in 2010. What made SwiftKey so appealing was its intelligent predictive texting technology. SwiftKey isn't a simple keyboard replacement. Rather, the software uses a combination of artificial intelligence technologies that give it the ability to learn usage patterns and predict the next word the user most likely intends to type. SwiftKey refines its predictions, learning over time by analyzing data from SMS, Facebook, and Twitter messages, then offering predictions based on the text being entered at the time. It is estimated that SwiftKey is installed on upwards of 500 million mobile devices. According to reports, Microsoft is apparently buying the UK-based company for a cool $250 Million. What Microsoft intends to do with SwiftKey is not clear just yet, but the company has been purchasing mobile apps at a good clip as of late.
Data Storage

Barracuda Copy Shutting Down (barracuda.com) 52

New submitter assaf07 writes: I received a notification [Monday] that Barracuda's excellent online storage option Copy will be shuttting down in May. A blog post by Rod Matthews, VP of Storage at Barracuda gives the usual business doublespeak excuse. Having used Google's Drive, Box, Dropbox, and Spideroak, I am very disappointed to lose Copy as its native Linux, Android, IOS, and Windows clients are/were wonderful.
Transportation

Morgan, Maker of Classic Handmade Sports Cars, Is Going Electric (arstechnica.com) 51

Ars Technica reports that Morgan, idiosyncratic maker of idiosyncratic cars, is about to make a move that might seem surprising, in light of the company's tradition of conservative design. "Yes," says the article, "you'll be able to buy a wood-framed electric car in 2019." From the article: The Morgan Motor Companyâ"best known for still using postwar styling and wooden body frames for some of its carsâ"will have a full hybrid and electric range within the next three years. The British car maker is going to invest $8.6 million (£6 million) to develop hybrid and electric powertrains for all the models in its range by 2019, working in conjunction with Delta Motorsport and Potenza technology.
Power

Utility Targets Bitcoin Miners With Power Rate Hike (datacenterfrontier.com) 173

1sockchuck writes: A public utility in Washington state wants to raise rates for high-density power users, citing a flood of requests for electricity to power bitcoin mining operations. Chelan County has some of the cheapest power in the nation, supported by hydroelectric generation from dams along the Columbia River. That got the attention of bitcoin miners, prompting requests to provision 220 megawatts of additional power. After a one-year moratorium, the Chelan utility now wants to raise rates for high density users (more than 250kW per square foot) from 3 cents to 5 cents per kilowatt hour. Bitcoin businesses say the rate hike is discriminatory. But Chelan officials cite the transient nature of the bitcoin business as a risk to recovering their costs for provisioning new power capacity.
Robotics

World's First Robotic Farm To Produce 11 Million Heads of Lettuce Per Year (inhabitat.com) 161

MikeChino writes: Japanese company SPREAD is preparing to open the world's first robot-controlled farm. The facility is designed to produce 11 million heads of lettuce each year, and it's expected to ship its first crop in Fall 2017. The new 47,300 square feet Vegetable Factory in Kansai Science City will also reduce construction costs by 25 percent and energy demand by 30 percent.

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