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Daimler Builds Massive Industrial Energy Storage Systems From Used EV Batteries ( 73

Lucas123 writes: German carmaker Daimler AG is building large battery storage systems for industrial use from the used lithium-ion batteries of its all-electric and hybrid vehicles. The first of Daimler's "2nd use battery storage units" will consist of 1,000 smart electric drive vehicle batteries and have a 13MWh of capacity. It is expected to be connected to the electrical grid in Lünen, Germany early next year. All of Daimler's battery storage units are currently planned to be greater than a megawatt in capacity, meaning they'll only be for commercial, not residential use, but the company said it does expect those batteries to be cost competitive with the ones Tesla announced earlier this year.

Google's Chromebit Micro-Computer Launches ( 60

An anonymous reader writes: Back in March, Google announced the Chromebit, a small computer crammed into an HDMI stick that runs Chrome OS. The device, built by Asus, has now launched for $85. It weighs 75 grams, runs on a Rockchip ARM processor, and includes a USB port. It has 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM, and connects via 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. According to Tech Crunch, the Chromebit is not particularly fast, but it's usable for basic tasks. "As long as the work only involves web apps (or maybe a remote connection to a more fully-featured machine), the Chromebit is up for the job and can turn any screen into a usable desktop."

Intel Launches 72-Core Knight's Landing Xeon Phi Supercomputer Chip ( 179

MojoKid writes: Intel announced a new version of their Xeon Phi line-up today, otherwise known as Knight's Landing. Whatever you want to call it, the pre-production chip is a 72-core coprocessor solution manufactured on a 14nm process with 3D Tri-Gate transistors. The family of coprocessors is built around Intel's MIC (Many Integrated Core) architecture which itself is part of a larger PCI-E add-in card solution for supercomputing applications. Knight's Landing succeeds the current version of Xeon Phi, codenamed Knight's Corner, which has up to 61 cores. The new Knight's Landing chip ups the ante with double-precision performance exceeding 3 teraflops and over 8 teraflops of single-precision performance. It also has 16GB of on-package MCDRAM memory, which Intel says is five times more power efficient as GDDR5 and three times as dense.

NVIDIA Jetson TX1 Performance Shines For GPU Computing ( 22

An anonymous reader writes: Following last week's announcement of the Jetson TX1 development board, NVIDIA is now allowing independent reports of performance for their $599 USD 64-bit ARM development board. Linux results published by Phoronix show very strong performance for the Jetson TX1 when looking at the Cortex-A57 speed relative to the Tegra K1 and older Tegra SoCs along with other ARM hardware like Calxeda and Raspberry Pi. The Jetson TX1 was generally multiple times faster than ARM hardware a few years old. The graphics performance was twice as fast as the year-old Jetson TK1 thanks to the Maxwell GPU. Compared to x86 hardware, in CPU-bound tasks the performance is comparable to an AMD Sempron/Phenom except when utilizing GPGPU computing where it's then faster than Intel Skylake and Xeon processors. The Jetson TX1 had a peak power consumption of 16 Watts and an average power use of under 10 Watts.

737 'Tailstrike' Caused By Typo On a Tablet ( 366

An anonymous reader writes: In August of last year, a Boeing 737 operated by Qantas experienced a tailstrike while taking off — the thrust wasn't great enough for the tail to clear the runway, so it clipped the ground. The investigation into the incident (PDF) has finally been completed, and it found the cause of the accident: the co-pilot accidentally entered the wrong plane weight data into the iPad used to make calculations about the takeoff thrust. "First, when working out the plane's takeoff weight on a notepad, the captain forgot to carry the "1," resulting in an erroneous weight of 66,400kg rather than 76,400kg. Second, the co-pilot made a "transposition error" when carrying out the same calculation on the Qantas on-board performance tool (OPT)—an iPad app for calculating takeoff speed, amongst other things. "Transposition error" is an investigatory euphemism for "he accidentally hit 6 on the keyboard rather than 7." This caused the problem: "For a weight of 76,400kg and temperature of 35C, the engine thrust should've been set at 93.1 percent with a takeoff speed of 157 knots; instead, due to the errors, the thrust was set to 88.4 percent and takeoff speed was 146 knots."

China To Spend $47 Billion In Bid To Become 3rd-Largest Global Chip Manufacturer ( 53

An anonymous reader writes: In an interview with Reuters, the head of China's Tsinghua Unigroup has revealed they will invest 300 billion yuan ($47bn) over the next five years with the ambition of becoming the world's third largest chip-maker. The state-backed company, also the technological investment arm of Tsinghua University, is in talks with an unnamed U.S. company (most likely Micron) though Zhao discounts the possibility of buying a controlling share as politically insensitive.

Louis Friedman Says Humans Will Never Venture Beyond Mars ( 378

MarkWhittington writes: Dr. Louis Friedman, one of the co-founders of the Planetary Society, is coming out with a new book, "Human Spaceflight: From Mars to the Stars," an excerpt of which was published in Scientific America. Friedman revives and revises a version of the humans vs. robots controversy that has roiled through aerospace circles for decades. Unlike previous advocates of restricting space travel to robots, such as Robert Park and the late James Van Allen, Friedman admits that humans are going to Mars to settle. But there, human space travel will end. Only robots will ever venture further.

The Intel 4004 Microprocessor Turns 44 60

mcpublic writes: Today is the 44th anniversary of the Intel 4004, the pioneering 4-bit microprocessor that powered the first electronic taxi meters. According to the unaffiliated (and newly renamed) Intel 4004 45th Anniversary Project web site, they have just re-created the complete set of VLSI mask artwork for the 4004 using scalable vector graphics, and updated their Busicom 141-PF calculator replica aimed at collectors and hobbyists. Included is some interesting historical perspective: Back in the early 1970s, there was no electrical CAD software, design-rule checkers were people, and VLSI lithographic masks were hand-crafted on giant light tables by unsung "rubylith cutters."

FCC Clarifies: It's Legal To Hack Your Router ( 85

Mark Wilson writes with an update to an earlier report that the wording of new FCC regulations could mean that it would be illegal to modfiy the software running on wireless routers by installing alternative firmwares. Instead, The commission has now acknowledged that there was more than a little confusion from people who believed that manufacturers would be encouraged to prevent router modifications. The FCC wants to make it clear that most router hacking is fine and will remain fine. With a few exceptions, that is. In a blog post entitled Clearing the Air on Wi-Fi Software Updates, Julius Knapp from the FCC tries to clear up any misunderstandings that may exist.

Police Body Cameras Come With Pre-Installed Malware 100

An anonymous reader writes: The old Conficker worm was found on new police body cameras that were taken out of the box by security researchers from iPower Technologies. The worm is detected by almost all security vendors, but it seems that it is still being used because modern day IoT devices can't yet run security products. This allows the worm to spread, and propagate to computers when connected to an unprotected workstation. One police computer is enough to allow attackers to steal government data. The source of the infection is yet unknown. It is highly unlikely that the manufacturer would do this. Middleman involved in the shipping are probably the cause.

Huawei Battery Upgrade Means Dramatically Faster Charging For Mobile Devices 75

Computerworld reports a welcome development for everyone with battery powered portable electronics, which might just have applications further afield, too (like electric cars): Huawei has developed a battery based on conventional lithium-ion chemistry but tweaked with the addition of graphite atoms bonded to the anode. From the article: That change means faster charging but not at the expense of usage life or a sacrifice in the amount of energy that can be stored in each battery, [the company] said. It was developed by Huawei research and development subsidiary Watt Lab and the company showed off two prototypes in videos posted online. One of the two batteries has a capacity of 3,000mAh (milliampere hours) -- about equivalent to the batteries in modern smartphones -- and can be charged to 48 percent of capacity in five minutes. The second has a much smaller capacity of 600mAh but reaches 68 percent of capacity in just two minutes.

BadBarcode Attack Forces Host System To Carry Out Commands ( 79

msm1267 writes: Researchers at this week's PacSec 2015 conference in Tokyo demonstrated how they were able to inject special control characters into a barcode, so that a barcode reader will 'press' host system hotkeys, and activate a particular function. The attacks, called BadBarcode, can be used against any keyboard wedge barcode scanner that supports ASCII control characters--many do. An attacker than then use control commands to open or save files, launch a browser or execute commands. Here are the presentation slides.

Self-Encrypting Drives Hardly Any Better Than Software-Based Encryption ( 73

itwbennett writes: The main security benefit of Self-Encrypting Drives (SEDs) is that the encryption key is not stored in the OS memory, but on the disk itself, which makes it less exposed to theft. However, some attacks that work against software-based encryption products also affect SEDs, including evil maid attacks and those that bypass Windows authentication. Once a SED is unlocked, it remains in that state until the power to it is cycled or a deauthentication command is sent. When the laptop is put in sleep mode the drive state is locked, but when it resumes from sleep, the pre-boot management software, which is already loaded in memory, unlocks the drive. [A team of] researchers devised three attacks to take advantage of this situation.

Gene Amdahl, Pioneer of Mainframe Computing, Dies At 92 ( 78

An anonymous reader writes: The NY Times reports that Dr. Gene Amdahl, who played a crucial role in developing the IBM System/360 series mainframes and formulated Amdahl's law, has died at the age of 92. "The 360 series was not one computer but a family of compatible machines. Computers in the series used processors of different speeds and power, yet all understood a common language. This allowed customers to purchase a smaller system knowing they could migrate to a larger, more powerful machine if their needs grew, without reprogramming the application software. IBM's current mainframes can still run some System/360 applications. ... Dr. Amdahl is remembered at IBM as an intellectual leader who could get different strong-minded groups to reach agreement on technical issues."

Quantum Dots Made From Fool's Gold Boost Battery Performance ( 18

Science_afficionado writes: A lot of attempts have been made to use nanocrystals to improve battery performance, but the results have been disappointing. The problem is that when the size of the crystals drop below a certain size they begin to react chemically with the electrolytes which prevents them from recharging. Now, however, a team of engineers from Vanderbilt University report in an article published in the journal ACS Nano that they can overcome this problem by making the nanocrystals out of iron pyrite, commonly known as fool's gold.

Ask Slashdot: What's Out There For Poor Vision? 197

hackwrench writes: I like to read on my computer, but when I resize text to be comfortably big, web pages and browsers handle it badly, and some applications don't offer an option to enlarge. Some applications even are bigger than the screen, which Windows doesn't handle well. Lastly, applications consist of bright backgrounds which feels like staring into a headlight. Windows' built in options like magnifier are awkward. What tools are there for Windows to increase text size, make things fit inside the screen, and substitute colors that windows use?
United Kingdom

Bank of England's Andy Haldane Warns Smart Machines Could Take 15M UK Jobs ( 291

New submitter Colin Robotenomics writes In an important new paper based on a speech at the trade union congress in London, Andy Haldane Chief Economist at the Bank of England and Executive Director of Monetary Analysis and Statistics has examined the history of technological unemployment and has given a thorough review of the literature and implications for public policy. The media will likely focus on the number of jobs that can be displaced and not necessarily Haldane's points on new jobs being created – both of which are highly important as is 'skilling-up'. His report reads in part: "...Taking the probabilities of automation, and multiplying them by the numbers employed, gives a broad brush estimate of the number of jobs potentially automatable. For the UK, that would suggest up to 15 million jobs could be at risk of automation. In the US, the corresponding figure would be 80 million jobs."
Hardware Hacking

Hacked Amazon Echo Controls a Wheelchair ( 23

An anonymous reader writes with a cool hack for making an electric wheelchair voice activated. Robotics Trends reports: "Amazon Echo, which is designed around your voice, answers to 'Alexa' and can tell you scores, read your book, play your music, or check your calendar. And if you have a smart home, Echo can control lights and other technology. Bob Paradiso, however, wondered if he 'could push Echo's utility a little further.' He certainly did. Paradiso turned an electric wheelchair into a voice-controlled wheelchair using Echo, a Raspberry Pi and Arduino Uno. Echo thinks it's turning lights on and off, but it's really controlling the wheelchair. Paradiso says, 'Alexa, turn on left 4' and the wheelchair spins. He then says, 'Alexa, turn on forward 4' and the wheelchair moves forward."

Getting Started With GNU Radio ( 42

An anonymous reader writes: Software Defined Radio must be hard to create, right? Tools like GNU Radio and GNU Radio Companion make it much easier to build radios that can tune AM, FM, and even many digital modes. Of course, you need some kind of radio hardware, right? Not exactly. Hackaday has one of their video hands on tutorials about how to use GNU Radio with no extra hardware (or, optionally, a sound card that you probably already have). The catch? Well, you can't do real radio that way, but you can learn the basics and do audio DSP. The next installment promises to use some real SDR hardware and build an actual radio. But if you ever wanted to see if it was worth buying SDR hardware, this is a good way to see how you like working with GNU Radio before you spend any money.

Bluetooth 2016 Roadmap Brings Fourfold Range Increase and Mesh Networking ( 29

An anonymous reader writes: The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced its roadmap for Bluetooth Smart in 2016, promising a fourfold range increase in the low-energy, IoT-oriented version of the protocol, along with dedicated mesh networking, a 100% increase in speed and no extra consumption of energy. The last set of upgrades to the protocol offered direct access to the internet and security enhancements. Since Bluetooth must currently contend with attacks on everything from cars to toilets, the increased range means that developers may not be able to rely on 'fleeting contact' as a security feature quite as much.