Lucas123 writes "Electrical engineers at Oregon State University (OSU) said yesterday that they have found a technique to use high-frequency sound waves to improve magnetic data storage.The data write-technology breakthrough could allow greater amounts of data to be stored on both hard disk drives and NAND flash-based solid-state drives (SSDs), they said. Typically, when magnetic recording material is temporarily heated, even for an instant, it can become momentarily less stiff and more data can be stored at a particular spot. But, the technique has proven difficult to effectively increase capacity because heating tends to spread beyond where it is wanted and the technology involves complex integration of optics, electronics and magnetics, the researchers said. With the new technique, known as acoustic-assisted magnetic recording, ultrasound is directed at a highly specific location on the material while data is being stored, creating elasticity that allows "a tiny portion of the material to bend or stretch." After the ultrasound is turned off, the material immediately returns to its original shape, but the data stored during the process remains in a dense form."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
First time accepted submitter BadassFractal writes "I'm in the market for a new large desktop monitor (or two) which I intend to use almost exclusively for programming and all sorts of software development-related work. I'm trying to keep the cost down reasonable, and I do enjoy as large of a resolution as possible. What do people 'in the know' out there use these days for that purpose? I'm thinking a 1920x1200 24" would be good, unless there's an affordable 2560xFoo option out there. I keep hearing about nameless Korean 27" screens, any thoughts on those?"
Many of us have plug-in external batteries of one sort to recharge our smart phones when we're away from power outlets. Or we have gigantic aftermarket batteries that make our phones so fat they barely fit in our pockets. So there is this company, Lilliputian Power Systems, that is just starting to market a tiny, butane-powered fuel cell they call the Nectar that plugs into your cell phone (or whatever) through a USB port and supposedly charges it for up to two weeks. That's a lot better than an add-on battery. It looks expensive, although the power "pods" aren't too pricey at $19.99 for two. But wait a minute: Why aren't fuel cells, not internal combustion engines, the "range extenders" in plug-in hybrid cars? A decade back, fuel cells were going to revolutionize our power delivery and consumption systems. A cell phone charger is cute, but is that really all we can get fuel cells to do?
An anonymous reader writes with a link to an article at Wired with some harsh words for Microsoft's new tablet: "The Surface Pro is not a repair-friendly machine. In fact, it's one of the least repairable devices iFixit has seen: In a teardown of Microsoft's tablet-laptop hybrid, the company gave it a rock-bottom score of just one — one! — out of 10 for repairability, lower even than Apple's iPad and the Windows Surface RT."
Lucas123 writes "Applying the same technology used for voice recognition and credit card fraud detection to medical treatments could cut healthcare costs and improve patient outcomes by almost 50%, according to new research. Scientists at Indiana University found that using patient data with machine-learning algorithms can drastically improve both the cost and quality of healthcare through simulation modeling.The artificial intelligence models used for diagnosing and treating patients obtained a 30% to 35% increase in positive patient outcomes, the research found. This is not the first time AI has been used to diagnose and suggest treatments. Last year, IBM announced that its Watson supercomputer would be used in evaluating evidence-based cancer treatment options for physicians, driving the decision-making process down to a matter of seconds."
fixpert writes "We hooked up Pinoccio (an Open Source, wireless Arduino-compatible microcontroller) to a Pololu 3pi Robot to create an unmanned rover that can be driven via the Web. We posted a quick video where you can see us driving our Web Rover in Nevada all the way from Brazil. We used the iPhone's built-in accelerometer as a super-intuitive interface for driving the bot. You can read all about the project — how we built it, what you need to make your own (including source code), and a simulator of the accelerometer interface that you can play with. We're hoping to make Pinoccio the perfect platform for Software Developers to learn how to hack on DIY hardware."
redletterdave writes "Days after the New York Times released a brutal review of Tesla's electric Model S sedan, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has fired back, claiming the Times article was completely bogus and misleading. In the article in question, Times writer John Broder took the Tesla Model S on a test drive from Washington to Boston, stopping at various service plazas in Delaware and Connecticut well within the projected 265-mile range of the car, as rated by the EPA. However, Broder's Tesla Model S, despite a heftier 85 kilowatt-hour battery for an extra 100 miles of range in 'ideal conditions,' died shortly before reaching its final destination. Broder blames the cold weather and heating issues for his abridged trip; Musk, however, claims the driver did not follow Tesla's instructions, which is why his trip was cut so short. 'We've taken great pains to ensure that the car works very well in the cold, which is why we're so incensed by this ridiculous article,' Musk said."
jfruh writes "The Kindle Fire HD is in theory a powerful device at a reasonable price — but its Android-based OS is so oriented towards Amazon's ecosystem that it can be tricky to unlock its full potential. Still, with a little savvy you can get underneath the covers, improving battery life, getting full access to cameras and other devices, and even listening to music you've purchased through iTunes."
toygeek writes "Which is cheaper: Running a server from home, or renting a VPS (Virtual Private Server)? We're trying to pinch pennies where we can, and my son Derrick suggested upgrading an extra PC we have and running his Minecraft server at home. Would it save enough money to be worth it? I wanted to share the results of my analysis with my Slashdot brethren." The upshot in this case? "Overall it is VERY cost effective for us to run the home server."
Hesh writes "The space-pirates themed Project Holodeck game is a VR game that is initially targeted for the Oculus Rift and will marry VR with a world so interactive and immersive that it feels like you can reach out and touch it. Ben Lang over at RoadToVR recently got a chance to sit down with the team and try it out. He came out extremely impressed with how immersive the experience was: '...at one point I needed to set the Razer Hydra controllers down to adjust my helmet and I nearly tried to set them down on a virtual table next to me. There was no table in real life — had I not quickly realized what I was about to do, I would have dropped the controllers straight onto the floor below.'"
An anonymous reader writes "When it comes to RAM, as every geek knows, 1 GB does not mean 1 billion bytes.. it means 2**30 (1,073,741,824) bytes. However, several decades ago "they" decided that GB, MB, and KB would be interpreted differently when it comes to disk drives; 1 GB means exactly 1 billion bytes. Ed Bott points out that Microsoft's marketers and Windows kernel developers aren't on the same page when it comes to these units: the marketers use the more generous decimal interpretation, while Windows measures and reports capacity using the binary (2**30) measure. Careful customers who bother to check what they've got have been known to get peeved by the discrepancy."
TechCrunch is one of the many outlets to report that Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet computer sold out on its first day of wide availability. Business Insider points to Reddit threads complaining that "selling out" was largely a product of not having all that many in stock to begin with, in some cases not even enough to cover pre-ordered devices.
The WSJ reports that Apple is "experimenting with designs for a watch-like device that would perform some functions of a smartphone, according to people briefed on the effort." An excerpt: The company has discussed such a device with its major manufacturing partner Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., one of these people said, as part of explorations of potentially large product categories beyond the smartphone and tablet. Apple's efforts come as companies have introduced various kinds of wearable gadgets, mainly designed to measure physical activity. More sophisticated devices face big technical challenges, but also are attracting investments from large technology companies. Foxconn, as Hon Hai is also known, has been working on a spate of technologies that could be used in wearable devices, one of these people said. In particular, the Taiwan-based company has been working to address the challenges of making displays more power-efficient and working with chip manufacturers to strip down their products."
Bomarc writes "Twice now I've been advised to 'flash the BIOS to the latest,' once by a (major) hard drive controller maker (RAID); once by an OEM (who listed the update as 'critical,' and has removed older versions of the BIOS). Both times, the update has bricked an expensive piece of equipment. Both times, the response after the failed flash was 'It's not our problem, it's out of warranty.' Given that they recommended / advised that the unit be upgraded, shouldn't they shoulder the responsibility of BIOS upgrade failure? Also, if their design had sockets rather than soldering on parts, one could R/R the faulty part (BIOS chip), rather than going to eBay and praying. Am I the only one that has experienced this type of problem? Have you been advised to upgrade a BIOS (firmware); and the upgrade bricked the part or system? If so, what did you do? Should I name the companies?"
An anonymous reader writes "Like the Roomba and other hackable consumer electronics, the Brookstone Rover 2.0 looks like a great value for hackers and robotics experimenters. Check out this teardown and another link within for lots of pics and info."
First time accepted submitter YurB writes "Matthew Garrett, a Linux kernel developer who was investigating the recent Linux-on-Samsung-in-UEFI-mode problem, has bricked a Samsung laptop using a test userspace program in Windows. The most fascinating part of the story is on what is actually causing the firmware boot failure: 'Unfortunately, it turns out that some Samsung laptops will fail to boot if too much of the [UEFI] variable storage space is used. We don't know what "too much" is yet, but writing a bunch of variables from Windows is enough to trigger it. I put some sample code here — it writes out 36 variables each containing a kilobyte of random data. I ran this as an administrator under Windows and then rebooted the system. It never came back.'"
eldavojohn writes "According to Bloomberg, drilling and fracking results in greenhouse gases second only to coal power plants in the United States. From the article, 'Emissions from drilling, including fracking, and leaks from transmission pipes totaled 225 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalents during 2011, second only to power plants, which emitted about 10 times that amount.' According to Mother Jones, we now have more giant methane fireballs than any other country in the world and we can now see once dim North Dakota at night from space."
MojoKid writes "A few weeks back, we discussed whether a new GPU like the GeForce GTX 660 could breathe new life into an older quad-core gaming system built in mid 2008. The answer concluded was definitely yes — but many readers asked to reconsider the question, this time using a lower-end dual-core Core 2 Duo. The Core 2 Duo CPU chip used was a first-generation C2D part based on Intel's 65nm Conroe core. It's clocked at 3GHz with 4MB of L2 cache and has a 1333MHz FSB. The CPU was paired with 3GB of DDR2-1066 memory. The long and short of it is, you can upgrade the graphics card on a six year-old dual core machine and expect to see a noticeable improvement in game performance — significant gains in fact, up to 50 percent or more."
Andy Prough writes "Apparently those wise folks at Fox have figured out America's reluctance to invest as much money in solar energy as Germany — the Germans simply have more sun! Well, as Will Oremus from Slate points out, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Solar Resource map comparison of the U.S. and Germany, nothing could be further from the truth — Germany receives as much sunlight as the least lit U.S. state — Alaska."
tsamsoniw writes "While research companies including IDC and Gartner deemed HP the PC leader for Q4 2012, Canalys has a different perspective. The analyst firm has declared Apple the top PC vendor for the past quarter, thanks in part to the booming success of the iPad and the iPad mini. By Canalys's reckoning, Amazon, too, now beats out the likes of Acer and Asus as leading PC vendors, having shipped 4.6 million Kindles in Q4."