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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Microsoft

Now You Can Control Any Win 8 Kit With Your Eyes 60

Posted by samzenpus
from the look-and-click dept.
iComp writes "It's all gestures and eyeball-tracking at CES this year, with Tobii releasing a USB peripheral that adds control-by-sight to any Windows PC and Lenovo upgrading its Yoga to finger-watching. Tobii demonstrated its eyeball-tracking technology at CES last year, but this time it is announcing a 5,000 unit production run of a USB bar which can be stuck to the bottom of the monitor of any Windows 8 PC to start tracking eyeballs. Lenovo isn't even waiting that long. Although it is only tracking fingers, it's adding the capability to existing Yoga laptops courtesy of eyeSight Tech."
Hardware

USB 3.0 Getting a Speed Boost To 10 Gbps 144

Posted by samzenpus
from the greased-lightning dept.
cylonlover writes "The USB 3.0 Promoter Group has used CES 2013 to announce an enhancement to the USB 3.0 (aka SuperSpeed USB) standard that will see the throughput performance of USB 3.0 double from 5 Gbps to 10 Gbps. The speed boost will come courtesy of enhanced USB connectors and cables that are fully backward compatible with existing USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 devices. The 10 Gbps SuperSpeed USB update (pdf) is up for industry review during the first quarter of 2013, with completion of the standard expected by the middle of the year."
Education

2013 FIRST Robotics Competition Kicks Off 64

Posted by samzenpus
from the family-fun dept.
theodp writes "Saturday, the 2013 FIRST Robotics Competition kicked off, and — much like the Pinewood Derby — mentoring by adult engineers there doesn't hurt one's chances of winning. So, any advice for 'ordinary' high schools going up against the likes of FIRST Robotics Teams sponsored and mentored by NASA? FIRST Robotics Team 254's Lab at NASA Ames Research Center, for instance, includes 'an 80% size practice field as well as a small machine shop, workspace, computer lab and meeting space.' Not surprisingly, Team 254 won the 2011 FIRST Championship." We took our camera to the Michigan FRC championships last year, and had a great time.
Businesses

Can Fotobar Make Polaroid Relevant Again? 149

Posted by samzenpus
from the sit-and-print dept.
The years have not been kind to Polaroid. The company has gone through a couple of bankruptcies, and has tried to reinvent itself with a number of less-than-popular products including: an Android powered "smart camera," and a digital camera that incorporates instant printing. They hope to reverse their fortunes now by partnering with a startup called Fotobar and plan "to open a chain of retail stores where customers can come in and print out their favorite pictures from their mobile phones." The first is scheduled to open in February in Delray Beach, Florida, and the goal is to open 10 locations across the country before the year is out."
Input Devices

'Gorilla Arm' Will Keep Touch Screens From Taking Over 610

Posted by Soulskill
from the 2013-is-the-year-human-civilization-becomes-lopsided dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "With Windows 8, Microsoft has made a billion-dollar gamble that personal computing is taking a new direction and that new direction is touch, says David Pogue. It's efficient on a touchscreen tablet. But Microsoft expects us to run Windows 8 on our tens of millions of everyday PCs. Although touch has been incredibly successful on our phones, tablets, airport kiosks and cash machines, Pogue says touch will never take over on PCs. The reason? Gorilla Arms. There are three big differences between tablet screens and a PC's screen: angle, distance and time interval. The problem is 'the tingling ache that [comes] from extending my right arm to manipulate that screen for hours, an affliction that has earned the nickname of gorilla arm.' Some experts say gorilla arm is what killed touch computing during its first wave in the early 1980s but Microsoft is betting that Windows 8 will be so attractive that we won't mind touching our PC screens, at least until the PC concept fades away entirely. 'My belief is that touch screens make sense on mobile computers but not on stationary ones,' concludes Pogue. 'Microsoft is making a gigantic bet that I'm wrong.'"
Security

NVIDIA Releases Fix For Dangerous Display Driver Exploit 84

Posted by Soulskill
from the nothing-like-fixing-bugs-over-the-holidays dept.
wiredmikey writes "NVIDIA on Saturday quietly released a driver update (version 310.90) that fixes a recently-uncovered security vulnerability in the NVIDIA Display Driver service (nvvsvc.exe). The vulnerability was disclosed on Christmas day by Peter Winter-Smith, a researcher from the U.K. According to Rapid7's HD Moore, the vulnerability allows a remote attacker with a valid domain account to gain super-user access to any desktop or laptop running the vulnerable service, and allows an attacker (or rogue user) with a low-privileged account to gain super-access to their own system. In addition to the security fix, driver version 310.90 addresses other bugs and brings performance increases for several games and applications for a number of GPUs including the GeForce 400/500/600 Series."
Intel

Info On Intel Bay Trail 22nm Atom Platform Shows Out-of-Order Design 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-like-the-restroom-at-denny's dept.
MojoKid writes "New leaked info from Intel sheds light on how the company's 2014 platforms will challenge ARM products in the ultra light, low power market. At present, the company's efforts in the segment are anchored by Cedar Trail, the 32nm dual-core platform that launched a year ago. To date, all of Intel's platform updates for Atom have focused on lowering power consumption and ramping SoC integration rather than focusing on performance — but Bay Trail will change that. Bay Trail moves Atom to a quad-core, 22nm, out-of-order design. It significantly accelerates the CPU core with burst modes of up to 2.7GHz, and it'll be the first Atom to feature Intel's own graphics processor instead of a licensed core from Imagination Technologies."
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: Keeping Your Media Library Safe From Kids? 307

Posted by timothy
from the sound-of-eyes-getting-really-big dept.
Serenissima writes "I've spent many hours building my Media Library in XBMC and scraping all the DVD Covers and Fanart. And I love it, I can pull up movies on any computer or device in the house. I played a movie for my son the other day so I could get some cleaning done without him being underfoot. I noticed shortly after that the sound coming from the other room was from a different movie than I played for him. I snuck up and watched for a few minutes and saw him use a trackpad to navigate to the stop and play buttons of different movies in his folder. I know it's only a matter of time before he realizes he can see all of the movies. I don't want him to have nightmares because he saw the T-1000 stab someone in the face. The quickest solution I can think is a screen saver with a password. It's mildly inconvenient to me, but would stop him from accessing anything. However, I remember how much more I knew about computers than my parents when I was a kid, and I have a feeling he's going to surprise me one day. There's a lot of ways out there to stop it, the way we do it now is to not let him watch anything unless we're there (but there are only so many times I can watch the same kid's movie). How do YOU guys find yourself dealing with the convenience of running your own server while keeping your media safe from prying eyes?"
Hardware

Slashdot Asks: What would you like to see at CES? 102

Posted by timothy
from the car-stocked-with-food-and-blankets dept.
This year's Consumer Electronics Show has nearly arrived. Later today, I'll be hurtling (or perhaps just slogging) across the West Texas desert, bound for Vegas. CES is far too big an event to see very much of, no matter what: the endless aisles (highways!) of cheap laptop bags and e-cigarettes alone take up an incredible amount of floor space, but the good stuff takes up at least as much. The categories represented aren't necessarily new, but the trends vary each time: remote-controlled helicopters, from Parrot and others, have been been getting more capable for a few years running, along with 3D televisions, action cameras, ever-bigger displays, toys for kids, toys for adults, and the newest/slimmest/priciest/cheapest laptops and handhelds. Last year I had a chance to get close-up video views at Ubuntu TV and the successfully crowdfunded TouchFire keyboard, as well as interviews with John Ryan of Pixel Qi and Raspberry Pi instigator Eben Upton. I'll be on the lookout for some of my usual obsessions (open source in consumer products, bright LED-based projectors, interesting input devices), but what would you like to see up-close from this year's crop of exhibitors (sorry, it's a long list), and why?
Supercomputing

Three-Mile-High Supercomputer Poses Unique Challenges 80

Posted by Soulskill
from the hamsters-have-trouble-at-that-altitude dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Building and operating a supercomputer at more than three miles above sea level poses some unique problems, the designers of the recently installed Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) Correlator discovered. The ALMA computer serves as the brains behind the ALMA astronomical telescope, a partnership between Europe, North American, and South American agencies. It's the largest such project in existence. Based high in the Andes mountains in northern Chile, the telescope includes an array of 66 dish-shaped antennas in two groups. The telescope correlator's 134 million processors continually combine and compare faint celestial signals received by the antennas in the ALMA array, which are separated by up to 16 kilometers, enabling the antennas to work together as a single, enormous telescope, according to Space Daily. The extreme high altitude makes it nearly impossible to maintain on-site support staff for significant lengths of time, with ALMA reporting that human intervention will be kept to an absolute minimum. Data acquired via the array is archived at a lower-altitude support site. The altitude also limited the construction crew's ability to actually build the thing, requiring 20 weeks of human effort just to unpack and install it."
Medicine

Researchers Create Vomiting Robot To Analyze Contagions 65

Posted by samzenpus
from the upset-metal-stomach dept.
iComp points out an interesting project in Derbyshire, northern England. "Bioboffins at the Health and Safety Laboratory in Derbyshire, UK, have developed a robot that can projectile vomit on command as a tool for studying the spread of the highly infectious norovirus. Reuters reports that the hyperemetic droid has been dubbed 'Vomiting Larry' by its creator, researcher Catherine Makison, who describes it as a 'humanoid simulated vomiting system.' The goal of said vomiting system is to study the reach and dispersion of human vomitus, which is one of the primary ways that diseases such as norovirus can spread. Norovirus is a fairly common viral infection that is sometimes known as the 'winter vomiting bug' due to its increased prevalence in the colder months. Outbreaks are generally triggered when humans ingest contaminated food or water, but can continue when subsequent people come in contact with surfaces that have been contaminated by the initial patient's effluvium."
Intel

Intel To Debut Limited-Run Ivy Bridge Processor 86

Posted by samzenpus
from the low-energy dept.
abhatt writes "Intel is set to debut the most power efficient chip in the world — a limited edition 'Ivy Bridge' processor in the upcoming annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Only a select group of tablet and ultrabook vendors will receive the limited Ivy Bridge chips. From the article: 'Intel did not say how far below 10 watts these special "Y" series Ivy Bridge processors will go, though Intel vice president Kirk Skaugen is expected to talk about the processors at CES. These Ivy Bridge chips were first mentioned at Intel's annual developer conference last year but it wasn't clear at that time if Intel and its partners would go forward with designs. But it appears that some PC vendors will have select models in the coming months, according to Intel.'"
Image

Open-Hardware Licensed Handheld Software-Defined Radio In the Works 50 Screenshot-sm

Posted by timothy
from the good-speculation dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Chris Testa recently presented at TAPR Digital Communications Conference and annouced his development work on a hand-held software defined radio. Running uClinux on an ARM Corex-M3 coupled to a Flash-based FPGA, it will be capable of receiving and transmitting from 100MHz to 1GHz. Designed to be low power, Chris has designed the radio primarily with the Amateur 2m and 70cm bands in mind. Currently in early prototyping stage, Chris intends to release the design under the TAPR Open Hardware License."
Data Storage

'Hobbit' Creates Big Data Challenge 245

Posted by timothy
from the such-a-small-creature-makes-such-a-big-difference dept.
CowboyRobot writes "In the past five years there has been an 8x increase in the amount of content being generated per every two-hour cinematic piece. Although 3D is not new, modern 3D technologies add from 100% to 200% more data per frame. In 2009, Avatar was one of the first movies to generate about a petabyte of information. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was shot in a new digital format called High Frame Rate 3-D, which displays the movie at 48 frames per second, twice the standard 24-fps rate that's been in place for more than 80 years." But with digital storage transcending some other limitations of conventional projection techniques, it's not just framerate that directors are now able to play with more easily; it's the length of movies themselves, which stats suggest just keep getting longer.
Cellphones

Who Would Actually Build an Ubuntu Smartphone? 230

Posted by timothy
from the small-but-dedicated-band-of-belgian-craftsmen dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "When Canonical whipped back the curtain from its upcoming Ubuntu for smartphones, it set off a flurry of blogosphere speculation about the open-source operating system's chances on the open market. But which company would actually build such a device? Apple and Research In Motion and Nokia are all out of the running, for very obvious reasons. Motorola, as a subsidiary of Google, is also unlikely to leap on the Ubuntu bandwagon. While Hewlett-Packard has flirted with smartphones in the past, most notably after its Palm acquisition, the company doesn't seem too focused on that segment at the moment. That leaves manufacturers such as HTC, which currently offer devices running either Google Android or Windows Phone. But given Android's popularity, it might prove difficult for Canonical to convince these manufacturers to do more than release a token Ubuntu device—especially if Google and Microsoft apply counter-pressure."
Ubuntu

Quad-Core Stick PC Runs Ubuntu 72

Posted by timothy
from the these-are-getting-awesome dept.
New submitter asola writes with this cool piece of small (ha!) news from Liliputing: "This Freescale i.MX6-quad based stick will officially support Ubuntu in addition to Android. This is a first among the newfangled category of ARM-based stick PCs. This Ubuntu may very well have the hw accelerated Gstreamer plugins created by Freescale for the i.MX6 so full HD video playing will be available under Ubuntu as well."
AMD

AMD Tweaking Radeon Drivers To Reduce Frame Latency Spikes 105

Posted by Soulskill
from the stomping-bugs-with-extreme-prejudice dept.
crookedvulture writes "Slashdot has previously covered The Tech Report's exposure of frame latency issues with recent AMD graphics processors. Both desktop and notebook Radeons exhibit frame latency spikes that interrupt the smoothness of in-game animation but don't show up in the FPS averages typically used to benchmark performance. AMD has been looking into the problem and may have discovered the culprit. The Graphics Core Next architecture underpinning recent Radeons is quite different from previous designs, and AMD has been rewriting the memory management portion of its driver to properly take advantage. This new code improves frame latencies, according to AMD's David Baumann, and the firm has accelerated the process of rolling it into the official Catalyst drivers available to end users. Radeon owners can take some comfort in the fact that a driver update may soon alleviate the frame latency problems associated with AMD's latest GPUs. However, they might also be disappointed that it's taken AMD this long to optimize its drivers for the now year-old GCN architecture."
Patents

Patent Troll Targeting Users of Scanners; Wants $1000/Employee 227

Posted by Soulskill
from the scan-middle-finger-and-hit-send dept.
New submitter earlzdotnet writes "A new patent troll is in town, this time targeting the users of technology, rather than the creators. They appear to hold a process patent for 'scanning a document and then emailing it.' They are targeting small businesses in a variety of locations and usually want somewhere between $900 to $1200 per employee for 'infringement' of their patent. As with most patent trolls, they go by a number of shell companies, but the original company name appears to be Project Paperless LLC. Joel Spolsky said in a tweet that 'This is organized crime, plain and simple...' I tend to agree with him. When will something be done about this legal mafia?"
Displays

Apple Files Patent For "Active Stylus" For Use With Capacitive Touchscreens 112

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the smells-like-teen-wacom dept.
MojoKid writes "Apple may be looking to improve upon the stylus as we know it today. The Cupertino company filed a patent application with the USPTO for what it calls an 'Active Stylus,' which can be used on capacitive touch sensor panels like those found on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices. 'Unlike conventional styluses which work passively by blocking electric field lines between the drive and sense electrodes of a capacitive touch sensor panel, the styluses disclosed in the various embodiments of this disclosure can either act as a drive electrode to create an electric field between the drive electrode and the sense lines of a mutual capacitive touch sensor panel, or as a sense electrode for sensing capacitively coupled signals from one or more stimulated drive rows and columns of the touch sensor panel or both.' According to Apple, active styluses allow for more accurate input without driving up cost."
Mars

Stanford Team Developing Spiked Robots To Explore Phobos 49

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the target-practice-for-doom dept.
cylonlover writes "Robot hedgehogs on the moons of Mars may sound like the title of a B-grade sci-fi movie, but that is what Stanford University is working on. Marco Pavone, an assistant professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and his team are developing spherical robots called 'hedgehogs' that are about half a meter (1.6 ft) wide and covered in spikes to better cope with rolling and hopping across the surface of the Martian moon Phobos with its very low gravity."

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