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Micromotors Race About By Turning Water Into Hydrogen Gas 85

MTorrice writes "Microscopic particles of aluminum and gallium rocket around using water as their fuel. The particles, which are 20 micrometers in diameter, are asymmetric: A chemical reaction on the back side of the particle forms hydrogen gas bubbles that propel the motor forward. Over the past several years, bioengineers have built micro- and nanosized rockets that zip through liquids, fueled by chemical reactions between the materials that make up the rockets and their environments. The engineers hope someday these tiny motors could help deliver cargo, such as drugs, in people. Unfortunately, many of these motors require toxic hydrogen peroxide as fuel source, limiting their use in the body. To overcome that constraint, the new micromotors harness a well-known reaction between aluminum and water to produce hydrogen gas."

Doctorow on the War on General Purpose Computing 360

Cory Doctorow has posted the content of his talk delivered at Google this month on what he calls the coming civil war over general purpose computing. He neatly crystallizes the problem with certain types of (widely called-for) regulation of devices and the software they run — and they all run software. The ability to stop a general purpose computer from doing nearly anything (running code without permission from the mothership, or requiring an authorities-only engine kill switch, or preventing a car from speeding away), he says boils down to a demand: "Make me a general-purpose computer that runs all programs except for one program that freaks me out." "But there's a problem. We don't know how to make a computer that can run all the programs we can compile except for whichever one pisses off a regulator, or disrupts a business model, or abets a criminal. The closest approximation we have for such a device is a computer with spyware on it— a computer that, if you do the wrong thing, can intercede and say, 'I can't let you do that, Dave.'"

Solid State Quantum Computer Finds 15=3x5 — 48% of the Time 262

mikejuk writes "The Shor quantum factoring algorithm has been run for the first time on a solid state device and it successfully factored a composite number. A team from UCSB has managed to build and operate a quantum circuit composed of four superconducting phase qubits. The design creates entangled bits faster than before and the team verified that entanglement was happening using quantum tomography. The final part of the experiment implemented the Shor factoring algorithm using 15 as the value to be factored. In 150,000 runs of the calculation, the chip gave the correct result 48% of the time. As Shor's algorithm is only supposed to give the correct answer 50% of the time, this is a good result but not of practical use."

Can Android Revolutionize Spacecraft Design? 110

An anonymous reader writes "NASA's Ames Research Center is working on a new project designed to drastically cut the cost of launching and operating small satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The project, known as PhoneSat, will see the Android powered Nexus One and Nexus S phones command their very own small scale spacecraft this year in a first of its kind research mission."

Amazon, Apple Expected to Strut Their Small-Tablet Stuff Soon 115

After a few years of rumors and hints, All Things Digital says that a smaller iPad will debut in October. And Amazon may be trying to steal their thunder with a revamped Kindle tablet: Nerval's Lobster writes with a report at SlashCloud that "Amazon could be readying a new set of Kindle tablets for unveiling in early September. That's the widespread speculation following the online retailer's invitations to media for a Sept. 6 event in Santa Monica, Calif. Even by the coy standards of most tech companies' event invitations, Amazon's is notably bereft of detail. It will take place at 10:30 AM PST at Barker Hangar, a noted (and quite large) event space. But the timing of the event is auspicious: with Apple rumored to be unveiling a smaller iPad in the near future, and the holiday shopping season a few months away, early September could prove the ideal time for Amazon to whip back the curtain from a new tablet and dominate the media conversation, at least for a few days."
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: Best *nix Distro For a Dynamic File Server? 234

An anonymous reader (citing "silly workplace security policies") writes "I'm in charge of developing for my workplace a particular sort of 'dynamic' file server for handling scientific data. We have all the hardware in place, but can't figure out what *nix distro would work best. Can the great minds at Slashdot pool their resources and divine an answer? Some background: We have sensor units scattered across a couple square miles of undeveloped land, which each collect ~500 gigs of data per 24h. When these drives come back from the field each day, they'll be plugged into a server featuring a dozen removable drive sleds. We need to present the contents of these drives as one unified tree (shared out via Samba), and the best way to go about that appears to be a unioning file system. There's also requirement that the server has to boot in 30 seconds or less off a mechanical hard drive. We've been looking around, but are having trouble finding info for this seemingly simple situation. Can we get FreeNAS to do this? Do we try Greyhole? Is there a distro that can run unionfs/aufs/mhddfs out-of-the-box without messing with manual recompiling? Why is documentation for *nix always so bad?""

NIST Publishes Draft Guidelines For Server BIOS Protection 141

hypnosec writes "The U.S.'s National Institute of Standards and Technology has come up with a set of proposed guidelines for security of server BIOSes— the mechanism on which most modern day computers rely during boot up. Recently quite a few instances of malware have been known to persistently infect computer systems, and cannot be removed even on OS re-installs. NIST is proposing a set of measures through which the BIOS can be made more secure and resistant to such firmware manipulating attacks. Mebromi is one such Trojan. NIST published the draft guidelines [PDF] earlier this week and has proposed four different features through which the server BIOSes can be made more secure: authenticated update mechanism; secure local update mechanism (optional); firmware integrity protections; and non-bypassability features."

Serious Problems With USB and Ethernet On the Raspberry Pi 202

First time accepted submitter rephlex writes "The USB controller used in the Broadcom BCM2835 (which is the SoC the Raspberry Pi uses) has buggy drivers which have been causing problems for many of its users. In addition to this, the Pi can only supply an unusually low amount of current to its USB devices, just 140 mA approximately, and using a powered hub to sidestep this limit exacerbates the issues caused by the USB drivers. Even Ethernet is affected as the Ethernet controller used on the Raspberry Pi is connected to the SoC via USB. This has resulted in packet loss and even total loss of network connectivity in certain situations. Attempts have been made in the past to fix the buggy USB drivers as there are other devices which use this problematic controller. None of these attempts seem to have achieved very much."
Hardware Hacking

Video Voyage to the ATX Hackerspace in Austin, Texas (Video) 47

The place is big. It has lots of bats. And the people there not only make things, but play games and just plain hang out. Some are making a TARDIS they hope to take to Burning Man. Others are college student roboteers, working on their entry in a regional IEEE robotics contest. They're cutting, shaping, drilling, soldering, programming, talking, and generally having a great time. Timothy says they're Texas-friendly, too, so go ahead and stop on by if you're in the neighborhood. They're open 24/7, too, so whenever you have an urge to make something, ATX Hackerspace is ready to help you satisfy that urge.

Robot Learning To Recognize Itself In Mirror 133

First time accepted submitter Thorodin writes in with a story at the BBC about scientists at Yale who have built a robot that they hope will be able to recognize itself in a mirror. "A robot named Nico could soon pass a landmark test - recognizing itself in a mirror. Such self-awareness would represent a step towards the ultimate goal of thinking robots. Nico, developed by computer scientists at Yale University, will take the test in the coming months. The ultimate aim is for Nico to use a mirror to interpret objects around it, in the same way as humans use a rear-view mirror to look for cars. 'It is a spatial reasoning task for the robot to understand that its arm is on it not on the other side of the mirror,' Justin Hart, the PhD student leading the research told BBC News. So far the robot has been programmed to recognize a reflection of its arm, but ultimately Mr Hart wants it to pass the "full mirror test". The so-called mirror test was originally developed in 1970 and has become the classic test of self-awareness."

CPUs Do Affect Gaming Performance, After All 220

crookedvulture writes "For years, PC hardware sites have maintained that CPUs have little impact on gaming performance; all you need is a decent graphics card. That position is largely supported by FPS averages, but the FPS metric doesn't tell the whole story. Examining individual frame latencies better exposes the brief moments of stuttering that can disrupt otherwise smooth gameplay. Those methods have now been used to quantify the gaming performance of 18 CPUs spanning three generations. The results illustrate a clear advantage for Intel, whose CPUs enjoy lower frame latencies than comparable offerings from AMD. While the newer Intel processors perform better than their predecessors, the opposite tends to be true for the latest AMD chips. Turns out AMD's Phenom II X4 980, which is over a year old, offers lower frame latencies than the most recent FX processors."
Hardware Hacking

'Wiki Weapon Project' Wants Your 3D-Printable Guns 570

Sparrowvsrevolution writes "Earlier this month, University of Texas law student Cody Wilson and a small group of friends who call themselves 'Defense Distributed' launched an initiative they've dubbed the 'Wiki Weapon Project.' Their goal: to raise $20,000 to design and release blueprints for the world's first entirely 3D-printable gun. If all goes according to plan, RepRap users will soon be able to turn the project's CAD designs into an operational firearm capable of shooting at least one standard .22 caliber bullet, all in the privacy of their own garage. Wilson and his handful of collaborators at Defense Distributed plan to use the money they raise to buy or rent a $10,000 Stratysys 3D printer and also to hold a 3D-printable gun design contest with a $1,000 or $2,000 prize for the winning entry — Wilson says they've already received gun design ideas from fans in Arkansas and North Carolina. Once the group has successfully built a reliable 3D-printed gun with the Stratysys printer, it plans to adapt the design for the cheaper and more widely distributed Reprap model. The group had already raised more than $2,000 through the fundraising platform Indiegogo, but the site took down their page and froze their funds on Tuesday. They're continuing to seek donations through their website via Paypal and Bitcoin."

Satellite Uplinks For the Masses 49

kgeiger writes "Intellectual Ventures has spun out Kymeta to develop and mass-produce their mTenna product line. mTennas are based on metamaterials like the invisibility cloaks discussed on Slashdot and elsewhere. Metamaterials enable beam-steering that ensures an mTenna remains in contact with satellites even during motion. Kymeta will use 'established lithographic techniques' to make them. IMHO, these antennas may be as big a leap for mobile computing and remote communications as the invention of fractal antennas was for mobile phones."
Hardware Hacking

Revisiting the Macintosh ROM Easter Egg 98

eldavojohn writes "NYCResistor has published photos of what they call 'Ghosts in the ROM' after dumping Apple Mac SE ROM images from a roadside Motorola 68000-era Macintosh and looking at all the data (they mention an Easter egg reference to this from 1999). They go into some nice detail about the strategy for extracting this data from a discarded unit and noticing structure. There's also other data that they weren't able to identify, which causes one to wonder how many other Easter eggs are lying about in various ROM chips and what modern Easter eggs must be shipping with software/hardware today."
Data Storage

Baserock Slab Server Pairs High-Density ARM Chips With Linux 51

Nerval's Lobster writes with a report at Slash Datacenter that a portion of the predicted low-power-ARM-servers future has arrived, in the form of Codethink's Baserock Slab ARM Server, which puts 32 cores into a half-depth 1U server. "As with other servers built on ARM architecture, Codethink intends the Baserock Slab for data centers in need of extra power efficiency. The Slab supports Baserock Linux, currently in its second development release (known as 'Secret Volcano'), as well as Debian GNU/Linux. While Baserock Linux was first developed around the X86-64 platform, its developers planned the leap to the ARM platform. Each Slab CPU node consists of a Marvell quad-core 1.33-GHz Armada XP ARM chip, 2 GB of ECC RAM, a Cogent Computer Systems CSB1726 SoM, and a 30 GB solid-state drive. The nodes are connected to the high-speed network fabric, which includes two links per compute node driving 5 Gbits/s of bonded bandwidth to each CPU, with wire-speed switching and routing at up to 119 million packets per second."

ToorCamp: Adventures In an American Hacker Camp 20

jcatcw writes "While a tech camping event might sound like an oxymoron, hackers, makers, breakers and shakers assembled at the northwestern tip of the USA for ToorCamp and dispelled the notion that all hackers avoid sunshine and the great outdoors. As you would expect from a hacker conference, there were workshops like the one for lock picking and a plethora of presentations from "hacking computers to brain hacking, from brewing soda to fighting robots, from civil rights to lightning guns." Then unique aspects of this cool hacker camp get more bizarre . . like the laser that was so bright it required FAA clearance to deploy it, the ShadyTel community 'payphone,' the Temple of Robotron, an RFID implantation station, bike jousting, dancing robots and of course campfires. Need an even stranger adventure that's also in the ToorCon family of hacking conferences? There's the upcoming WorldToor, the first ever hacker conference in Antarctica."
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: Single-Handed Keyboard Options For Coding? 147

First time accepted submitter dubbreak writes "I was recently injured in a car accident which will limit the use of hand for six weeks or so. I'll be taking a little time off, but deadlines march on, and I'll need to be (semi) productive after my initial recuperation. What is you experience with single handed keyboards or other input option that require one hand at most? The current project is mainly C#, so I've need to be able to type brackets, semicolons and parentheses quick and painlessly."

Sources Say ITU Has Approved Ultra-High Definition TV Standard 341

Qedward writes with this excerpt from Techworld: "A new television format that has 16 times the resolution of current High Definition TV has been approved by an international standards body, Japanese sources said earlier today. UHDTV, or Ultra High Definition Television, allows for programming and broadcasts at resolutions of up to 7680 by 4320, along with frame refresh rates of up to 120Hz, double that of most current HDTV broadcasts. The format also calls for a broader palette of colours that can be displayed on screen. The video format was approved earlier this month by member nations of the International Telecommunication Union, a standards and regulatory body agency of the United Nations, according to an official at NHK, Japan's public broadcasting station, and another at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. Both spoke on condition of anonymity."

Logitech Releases Washable Keyboard 205

MrSeb writes "Logitech has released its first washable keyboard. We're not just talking about 'splash proof' either — you can take the K310, immerse it in up to 30cm of water (12in), and give it a good scrub. The only limitation is you can only use standard washing up liquid — oh, and Logitech says you should try to keep the USB connector out of the water, too. Once you've washed the keyboard, simply leave it to dry. The user guide says it takes eight hours to air dry, and that you shouldn't use a hair dryer. There are actually drainage holes on the backside of the K310, to help speed things along. This isn't the first washable keyboard — HP and Kensington have both had models on the market for a while — but the K310 does seem to be the first reasonably attractive, consumer-oriented washable keyboard. It goes on sale at the end of the month for $40."

Phony Laser Security System Proves Perception Is Reality 243

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Softpedia reports that Global Link Security Solutions are offering a product that doesn't actually do anything to alert an owner of a break-in to their home or business, but it displays "one hell of a laser show in an attempt to scare potential crooks into thinking that they have no chance of breaking in without triggering the alarm." According to the security firm, LaserScan has four lines of protection: a number of lasers that move along the walls and floors (video), an LED which indicates that there's a "link" to a satellite, a beeping alert, and a sticker placed on the front door. Although the company claims that none of their current customers has reported break-ins since the system has been installed, security guru Bruce Schneier highlights that the product only works if the product isn't very widely known."