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Businesses

Amazon Robot Contest May Accelerate Warehouse Automation 56

Posted by samzenpus
from the goodbye-minimum-wage-worker dept.
moon_unit2 writes Amazon is organizing an event to spur the development of more nimble-fingered product-packing robots. Participating teams will earn points by locating products sitting somewhere on a stack of shelves, retrieving them safely, and then packing them into cardboard shipping boxes. Robots that accidentally crush a cookie or drop a toy will have points deducted. The contest is already driving new research on robot vision and manipulation, and it may offer a way to judge progress made in the past few years in machine intelligence and dexterity. Robots capable of advanced manipulation could eventually take on many simple jobs that are still done by hand.
Power

First Nuclear Power Plant Planned In Jordan 148

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-up dept.
jones_supa writes Jordan has signed an agreement with Russia's state-owned nuclear power giant Rosatom, that sets the legal basis for building the kingdom's first nuclear power plant with a total capacity of 2,000 MW. The agreement is worth $10 billion and it envisages the construction of a two-unit power plant at Amra in the north of the kingdom by 2022. The deal provides for a feasibility study, site evaluation process and an environmental impact assessment. Currently Jordan imports nearly 98% of its energy from oil products and crude and is struggling to meet electricity demand, which is growing by more than 7% annually due to a rising population and industrial expansion. The kingdom hopes that eventually nuclear power could provide almost 40% of its total electricity generating capacity.
AI

Do Robots Need Behavioral 'Laws' For Interacting With Other Robots? 129

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-let-your-quake-3-bots-duel dept.
siddesu writes: Asimov's three laws of robotics don't say anything about how robots should treat each other. The common fear is robots will turn against humans. But what happens if we don't build systems to keep them from conflicting with each other? The article argues, "Scientists, philosophers, funders and policy-makers should go a stage further and consider robot–robot and AI–AI interactions (AIonAI). Together, they should develop a proposal for an international charter for AIs, equivalent to that of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This could help to steer research and development into morally considerate robotic and AI engineering. National and international technological policies should introduce AIonAI concepts into current programs aimed at developing safe AIs."
Power

Energy Company Trials Computer Servers To Heat Homes 160

Posted by Soulskill
from the turn-the-thermostat-to-'crysis' dept.
New submitter MarcAuslander sends this Associated Press report: Eneco, a Dutch-based energy company with more than 2 million customers, said Tuesday it is installing 'e-Radiators' — computer servers that generate heat while crunching numbers — in five homes across the Netherlands in a trial to see if their warmth could be a commercially viable alternative for traditional radiators. The technology is the brainchild of the Dutch startup company Nerdalize, whose founders claim to have developed the idea after huddling near a laptop to keep warm after their home's thermostat broke and jokingly suggesting buying 100 laptops. Nerdalize says its e-Radiators offer companies or research institutes a cheaper alternative to housing servers in data centers. And because Nerdalize foots the power bill for the radiators, Eneco customers get the warmth they generate for free. The companies said the environment wins, too, because energy is effectively used twice in the new system - to power the servers and to heat rooms.
Power

Elon Musk's SolarCity Offering To Build Cities, Businesses Their Own Grids 185

Posted by timothy
from the low-voltage-lighting-helps-too dept.
Lucas123 writes Rooftop solar distributor SolarCity announced a new service where it will build a centrally-controllable power grid for cities, business campuses and even islands. Marketing its GridLogic service by calling attention to the recent uptick in natural disasters and the extended power outages that resulted from them, SolarCity said its "microgrids" are fully independent power infrastructures fed by solar panels with lithium-ion backup batteries (courtesy of Tesla). SolarCity claims its GridLogic program can provide electricity to communities and businesses for less than they pay for utility power and the facilities can still be connected to their area's utility power grid as an added backup.
Hardware Hacking

Hack Air-Gapped Computers Using Heat 122

Posted by timothy
from the oh-baby-you're-so-communicative dept.
An anonymous reader writes Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers have discovered a new method to breach air-gapped computer systems called "BitWhisper," which enables two-way communications between adjacent, unconnected PC computers using heat. BitWhisper bridges the air-gap between the two computers, approximately 15 inches apart that are infected with malware by using their heat emissions and built-in thermal sensors to communicate. It establishes a covert, bi-directional channel by emitting heat from one PC to the other in a controlled manner. Also at Wired.
Robotics

Bring On the Boring Robots 112

Posted by Soulskill
from the skynet-lulling-us-into-a-false-sense-of-security dept.
malachiorion writes: After a successful 6-month pilot, Savioke's 'butler bots' are heading to hotels around the country. These are not sexy, scary, or even technically impressive machines. But they were useful enough, over the course of their 2,000 or so deliveries, to warrant a redesign, and a larger deployment starting in April. Savioke's CEO had some interesting things to say about the pilot, including the fact that some 95 percent of guests gave the robot a 5-star review, and only the drunks seemed to take issue with it. Plus, as you might expect, everyone seemed to want to take a damn selfie with it. But as small as the stakes might appear, highly specialized bots like this one, which can only do one thing (in this case, bring up to 10 pounds of stuff from the lobby to someone's door) are a better glimpse of our future than any talk of hyper-competent humanoids or similarly versatile machines.
Portables (Apple)

Apple Doubles MacBook Pro R/W Performance 204

Posted by samzenpus
from the greased-lightning dept.
Lucas123 writes Benchmark tests performed on the 2015 MacBook Pro revealed it does have twice the read/write performance as the mid-2014 model. Tests performed with the Blackmagic benchmark tool revealed read/write speeds of more than 1,300MBps/1,400MBps, respectively. So what's changed? The new MacBook Pro does have a faster Intel dual-core i7 2.9GHz processor and 1866MHz LPDDR3) RAM, but the real performance gain is in the latest PCIe M.2 flash module. The 2014 model used a PCIe 2.0 x2 card and the 2015 model uses a PCIe 3.0 x4 (four I/O lanes) card. Twice the lanes, twice the speed. While Apple uses a proprietary flash card made by Samsung, Intel, Micron and SanDisk are all working on similar technology, so it's likely to soon wind up in high-end PCs.
Power

Costa Rica Goes 75 Days Powering Itself Using Only Renewable Energy 317

Posted by samzenpus
from the cleaning-things-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news about an impressive renewable energy accomplishment in Costa Rica. Costa Rica has achieved a clean energy milestone by using 100 per cent renewable energy for a record 75 days in a row. The feat was achieved thanks to heavy rainfall, which powered four hydroelectric plants in the first three months of the year, the state-run Costa Rican Electricity Institute said. No fossil fuels have been burnt to generate electricity since December 2014, in the state which is renowned for its clean energy policies."
AMD

Gaming On Linux With Newest AMD Catalyst Driver Remains Slow 178

Posted by samzenpus
from the molasses-in-the-winter dept.
An anonymous reader writes The AMD Catalyst binary graphics driver has made a lot of improvements over the years, but it seems that NVIDIA is still leading in the Linux game with their shared cross-platform driver. Tests done by Phoronix of the Catalyst 15.3 Linux Beta found on Ubuntu 15.04 shows that NVIDIA continues leading over AMD Catalyst with several different GPUs on BioShock Infinite, a game finally released for Linux last week. With BioShock Infinite on Linux, years old mid-range GeForce GPUs were clobbering the high-end Radeon R9 290 and other recent AMD GPUs tested. The poor showing wasn't limited to BS:I though as the Metro Redux games were re-tested too on the new drivers and found the NVIDIA graphics still ran significantly faster and certainly a different story than under Windows.
Robotics

ATRIAS Bipedal Robot Can Take a Beating and Keep Walking 31

Posted by timothy
from the whaddya-tell-a-robot-with-two-black-eyes? dept.
Zothecula writes The great tradition of designing robots inspired by the many beautiful forms of locomotion seen in the animal kingdom likely predates robotics itself, arguably stretching all the way back to Michelangelo's time. Standing on the shoulders of such giants is ATRIAS, a series of human-sized bipedal robots that remind us of other two-legged creatures like the ostrich or emu. It must be a great tension-reliever in the robotics lab to have a robot you can literally kick without knocking it off balance.
Power

France Decrees New Rooftops Must Be Covered In Plants Or Solar Panels 247

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-at-least-fine-pastries dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A law approved in France Thursday now requires all new rooftops in commercial zones to be covered in plants or solar panels. "Green roofs have an isolating effect, helping reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a building in winter and cool it in summer. They also retain rainwater, thus helping reduce problems with runoff, while favoring biodiversity and giving birds a place to nest in the urban jungle, ecologists say." The law was actually watered down from its original version — businesses only have to cover part of their roof. In other solar power news, reader SpzToid notes that despite earlier worries, the European power grid handled the solar eclipse just fine
Transportation

Musk Says Drivers May Become Obsolete, Announces Juice-Saving Upgrades 341

Posted by timothy
from the dog's-not-that-shaggy dept.
Lucas123 (935744) writes During a discussion at a Nvidia conference, Elon Musk predicted that in the future, consumers will not be allowed to drive cars because it will be considered too dangerous. [Note: compare Lyft CEO Logan Green's opposite view] 'You can't have a person driving a two-ton death machine,' he said. Others agree. Thilo Koslowski, a vice president at Gartner, said instead of laws dictating drivers must cede control to their car's computer, we may someday someday just pass signs requiring drivers to activate auto-drive functionality for certain particularly treacherous stretches of roadway. Kowlowski said fully autonomous vehicles won't be ubiquitous for another 10 to 15 years, but the government could spur that on by offering tax incentives as it does today with all-electric vehicles and hybrids. Related news: it may not be fully autonomous driving, but Tesla S drivers are promised an upgrade a few months from now that gives a taste, with the addition of automatic steering features. And though it's perhaps anti-climactic as a solution to "ending range anxiety," Musk also announced today that Teslas will get in the next two weeks a software upgrade that will greatly upgrade the cars' routing software, integrating "near-realtime" lists of available supercharger stations, and keeping drivers apprised of whether one is within range.
Displays

First AMD FreeSync Capable Gaming Displays and Drivers Launched, Tested 63

Posted by timothy
from the play-on-this dept.
MojoKid writes Soon after NVIDIA unveiled its G-SYNC technology, AMD announced that it would pursue an open standard, dubbed FreeSync, leveraging technologies already available in the DisplayPort specification to offer adaptive refresh rates to users of some discrete Radeon GPUs and AMD APUs. AMD's goal with FreeSync was to introduce a technology that offered similar end-user benefits to NVIDIA's G-SYNC, that didn't require monitor manufacturers to employ any proprietary add-ons, and that could be adopted by any GPU maker. Today, AMD released its first FreeSync capable set of drivers and this first look at the sleek ultra-widescreen LG 34UM67 showcases some of the benefits, based on an IPS panel with a native resolution of 2560x1080 and a max refresh rate of 75Hz. To fully appreciate how adaptive refresh rate technologies work, it's best to experience them in person. In short, the GPU scans a frame out to the monitor where it's drawn on-screen and the monitor doesn't update until a frame is done drawing. As soon as a frame is done, the monitor will update again as quickly as it can with the next frame, in lockstep with the GPU. This completely eliminates tearing and jitter issues that are common in PC gaming. Technologies like NVIDIA G-SYNC and AMD FreeSync aren't a panacea for all of PC gaming anomalies, but they do ultimately enhance the experience and are worthwhile upgrades in image quality and less eye strain.
Government

To Avoid NSA Interception, Cisco Will Ship To Decoy Addresses 296

Posted by timothy
from the name-is-smith-john-smith dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this news snipped from The Register: Cisco will ship boxes to vacant addresses in a bid to foil the NSA, security chief John Stewart says. The dead drop shipments help to foil a Snowden-revealed operation whereby the NSA would intercept networking kit and install backdoors before boxen reached customers. The interception campaign was revealed last May. Speaking at a Cisco Live press panel in Melbourne today, Stewart says the Borg will ship to fake identities for its most sensitive customers, in the hope that the NSA's interceptions are targeted. 'We ship [boxes] to an address that has nothing to do with the customer, and then you have no idea who, ultimately, it is going to,' Stewart says.
Android

Google, Developers Demo Impressive Gaming and VR Apps For Project Tango Tablet 15

Posted by timothy
from the very-cool-piece-of-gear dept.
MojoKid writes Google's Project Tango Android tablet offers a new way to interact with the world through the use of 3D mapping and real-time depth sensing. Combined with custom software and hardware sensors, Project Tango devices are capable of performing over a quarter million 3D measurements per second to create a 3D model of the world we see. There are endless possibilities as Google notes. "What if you could capture the dimensions of your home simply by walking around with your phone before you went furniture shopping? What if the visually-impaired could navigate unassisted in unfamiliar indoor places? And there are obvious big advantages in gaming applications for positioning, augmented reality, etc. Google was offering a first-hand experience with virtual reality gaming using Project Tango at GTC in San Jose today, and the results are pretty impressive. The first demo involved Zombie Gunship Reality, which allows you to take aim at killer zombies from the relative safety of the air. Using an NVIDIA Tegra K1-powered Project Tango dev tablet, you're able to aim your weapon by moving the tablet around in front of you, which provides for a more immersive experience than just tapping/swiping away on the screen alone to move. Google also demoed how a Project Tango device could be used to create a 3D capture of a room or even an entire building, giving users a way to navigate through unfamiliar surroundings without the need for Wi-Fi or GPS hardware.
Media

Ask Slashdot: Building a Home Media Center/Small Server In a Crawlspace? 253

Posted by timothy
from the make-sure-you-can-retrieve-it-later dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I've decided it's time for me to build a separate machine specifically for use as a Media Center/Small Home Server. My wife and I haven't had cable TV in years, instead relying entirely on Netflix, other streaming sites, and hard copies we've bought over the years. Having just finished ripping our entire media collection (CDs, DVDs, and even our vinyls and VHS with the help of a capture card and some sweet digital voodoo) to a couple HDDs, I'm feeling froggy. Up until now we've been using WDTV Live, and it's been pretty snazzy, but I want to upgrade to a dedicated media machine instead of piggybacking off of my office computer. It'll be a Windows based machine utilizing Plex, and it's going in the crawlspace of the house. The crawlspace in question is unfinished, but I do have a dry concrete slab down there where I can put/mount/assemble something. Cooling won't be an issue obviously, and I am keeping a close eye on hardware specs with regards to moisture. It is still a crawlspace though. What would be a good setup to to house the hardware? Priorities being to safeguard against moisture, vermin, and dirt. Modified PC Tower? Rack? Build an enclosure? Something I haven't considered?

Please assume I'm stubborn and absolutely dead-set on putting it in the crawlspace to avoid the discussion devolving into the 'best' place to put a media machine."
Portables

Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Laptop To Support Physics Research? 385

Posted by timothy
from the budget-for-replacement-too dept.
An anonymous reader writes My daughter is in her third year of college as a physics major. She has an internship in Europe this summer, will graduate next year, and continue with graduate physics studies. Her area of research interest is in gravitational waves and particle physics. She currently has a laptop running Win7 and wants to buy a new laptop. She would like to use Linux on it, and plans to use it for C++ programming, data analysis and simulations (along with the usual email, surfing, music, pictures, etc). For all of the physics-savvy Slashdotters out there: what should she get? PC? Mac? What do you recommend for running Linux? For a C++ development environment? What laptop do you use and how is it configured to support your physics-related activities?
Power

Ask GM's Exec. Chief Engineer For Electric Vehicles Pam Fletcher a Question 229

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
Pam Fletcher was propulsion system chief engineer on the first Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and is now executive chief engineer for electrified vehicles at GM. A racing enthusiast, Pam developed racing engines for GM , McLaren, and NASCAR's Dale Earnhardt Sr.. Her current role has her running a multi-national department overseeing electrified vehicles company-wide. Fletcher has agreed to take a moment out of her busy day to answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Graphics

NVIDIA's GeForce GTX TITAN X Becomes First 12GB Consumer Graphics Card 110

Posted by Soulskill
from the impractically-powerful dept.
Deathspawner writes: When NVIDIA announced its GeForce GTX TITAN X at GTC, no one was surprised that it'd be faster than the company's previous top-end card, the GTX 980. But what did impress many is that the company said the card would sport a staggering 12GB of VRAM. As Techgage found, pushing that 12GB is an exercise in patience — you really have to go out of your way to come even close. Additional reviews available at PC Perspective and AnandTech. The latter notes, "...from a technical perspective, the GTX Titan X and GM200 GPU represent an interesting shift in high-end GPU design goals for NVIDIA, one whose ramifications I’m not sure we fully understand yet. By building what’s essentially a bigger version of GM204, heavy on graphics and light on FP64 compute, NVIDIA has been able to drive up performance without a GM204-like increase in die size. At 601mm2 GM200 is still NVIDIA’s largest GPU to date, but by producing their purist graphics GPU in quite some time, it has allowed NVIDIA to pack more graphics horsepower than ever before into a 28nm GPU. What remains to be seen then is whether this graphics/FP32-centric design is a one-off occurrence for 28nm, or if this is the start of a permanent shift in NVIDIA GPU design."