Hardware Hacking

Turning an Arduino Project Into a Prototype 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the so-your-cat-won't-electrocute-itself dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Those of us who fiddle with electronics are probably familiar with this scenario: you've just finished assembling a project using your Arduino/Raspberry Pi/whatever, and it works! You'd like to set it up for long-term use, but... it's just a mass of wires and LEDs and switches. Alexis Matelin has written up a brief but handy guide for turning that mess into a self-contained prototype. He goes from planning out your circuit to designing your schematic to making your board, then working on an enclosure and a battery holder. Matelin also links to a variety of resources for the individual steps involved. It's a straightforward guide written for amateurs. Those of you who have experience with building permanent micro-controller projects: what would you add?
Windows

How Windows 10 Performs On a 12-inch MacBook 241

Posted by Soulskill
from the burning-questions dept.
An anonymous reader writes: As Microsoft prepares for the launch of Windows 10, review sites have been performing all sorts of benchmarks on the tech preview to evaluate how well the operating system will run. But now a computer science student named Alex King has made the most logical performance evaluation of all: testing Windows 10's performance on a 2015 MacBook. He says, "Here's the real kicker: it's fast. It's smooth. It renders at 60FPS unless you have a lot going on. It's unequivocally better than performance on OS X, further leading me to believe that Apple really needs to overhaul how animations are done. Even when I turn Transparency off in OS X, Mission Control isn't completely smooth. Here, even after some Aero Glass transparency has been added in, everything is smooth. It's remarkable, and it makes me believe in the 12-inch MacBook more than ever before. So maybe it's ironic that in some regards, the new MacBook runs Windows 10 (a prerelease version, at that) better than it runs OS X."
Power

Wind Turbines With No Blades 164

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-finally-take-them-through-airport-security dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Wired has a profile of Spanish company Vortex Bladeless and their unusual new wind turbine tech. "Their idea is the Vortex, a bladeless wind turbine that looks like a giant rolled joint shooting into the sky. The Vortex has the same goals as conventional wind turbines: To turn breezes into kinetic energy that can be used as electricity." Instead of relying on wind to push a propeller in a circular motion, these turbines rely on vorticity — how wind can strike an object in a particular way to generate spinning vortices of air. Engineers usually try to avoid this — it's what brought down the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. But this Spanish company designed the turbine computationally to have the vortices occur at the same time along its entire height. "In its current prototype, the elongated cone is made from a composite of fiberglass and carbon fiber, which allows the mast to vibrate as much as possible (an increase in mass reduces natural frequency). At the base of the cone are two rings of repelling magnets, which act as a sort of nonelectrical motor. When the cone oscillates one way, the repelling magnets pull it in the other direction, like a slight nudge to boost the mast's movement regardless of wind speed. This kinetic energy is then converted into electricity via an alternator that multiplies the frequency of the mast's oscillation to improve the energy-gathering efficiency."
Open Source

Linino-Enabled Arduino Yun Shrinks In Size and Cost 42

Posted by timothy
from the sounds-yunny dept.
DeviceGuru writes: Arduino announced a smaller, cheaper Arduino Yun Mini version of the Arduino Yun SBC at the Bay Area Maker Faire [Friday]. The $60 Arduino Yun Mini SBC sacrifices a number of interfaces in order to reduce size, and gives the OpenWRT Linux based Linino distribution, which is also used by the original Yun, more control over the board's functions. Arduino also announced a new community web portal called my.arduino.org, plus an open source Arduino IDE-alpha development system that is entirely based on JavaScript, which will be available there by the end of the month.
Graphics

A Look At GTA V PC Performance and Image Quality At 4K 72

Posted by timothy
from the so-you're-saying-more-is-better dept.
MojoKid writes: Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto series has been wildly successful for many years now, offering some of the edgiest story lines, game play tactics and objectives the gaming industry has ever seen. With psychopathic main characters, you are left in the depraved communities of Los Santos and Blaine County, to walk a path few would dare choose in real life. And it's rather entertaining of course, that you're tasked with leaving a virtual world worse off than you found it, consequences be damned. But what does it take to run GTA V at 4K (3840X2160) resolution? This article takes a look at that, as well as how it scales over multiple NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 GPUs, along with some screen shots that look at image quality at Ultra HD resolution. It's safe to say one strong, high-end GPU will get the job done, but two in SLI or CrossFire are better of course, if you want to max out all IQ settings.
Input Devices

Mechanical 'Clicky' Keyboards Still Have Followers (Video) 147

Posted by Roblimo
from the clack-clack-clack-the-keyboard-types-on-down-the-track dept.
For a good number of years, the sound of the old IBM or other mechanical keyboard clacking away was the sound of programmers (or writers) at work on their computers. Then, according to Edgar Matias, president and cofounder of the Matias Corporation, computer companies started using membrane switches and other cheaper ways to make keyboards, which made a lot of people mutter curse words under their breath as they beat their fingers against keys that had to go all the way to the bottom of their travel to work, unlike the good old mechanical keyboards we once knew and loved.

Enter Edgar Matias, who started out making the half keyboard, which is like a chorded keyboard except that you can use your QWERTY typing skills with little modification -- assuming you or your boss has $595 (!) to lay out on a keyboard. But after that Edgar started making QWERTY and Dvorak keyboards for semi-competitive prices. FYI: No Slashdot person got a free keyboard (or extra money) for making this video, but I have a Matias keyboard, and in my opinion it's far better than the cheapie it replaced. A lot of other people seem to want "real" keyboards, too, which they buy from Matias or from other companies such as Unicomp, which makes keyboards just like the classic, heavily-loved IBM Model M. Again, I've owned a Unicomp keyboard (that I bought; it was not a giveaway) and it was excellent. Both companies put out quality products that are far easier on your hands and wrists than the $10 or $20 keyboards sold by big box electronics retailers.
Graphics

Oculus Rift Hardware Requirements Revealed, Linux and OS X Development Halted 227

Posted by Soulskill
from the sad-penguin dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Oculus has selected the baseline hardware requirements for running their Rift virtual reality headset. To no one's surprise, they're fairly steep: NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater, Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater, and 8GB+ RAM. It will also require at least two USB 3.0 ports and "HDMI 1.3 video output supporting a 297MHz clock via a direct output architecture."

Oculus chief architect Atman Binstock explains: "On the raw rendering costs: a traditional 1080p game at 60Hz requires 124 million shaded pixels per second. In contrast, the Rift runs at 2160×1200 at 90Hz split over dual displays, consuming 233 million pixels per second. At the default eye-target scale, the Rift's rendering requirements go much higher: around 400 million shaded pixels per second. This means that by raw rendering costs alone, a VR game will require approximately 3x the GPU power of 1080p rendering." He also points out that PC graphics can afford a fluctuating frame rate — it doesn't matter too much if it bounces between 30-60fps. The Rift has no such luxury, however.

The last requirement is more onerous: WIndows 7 SP1 or newer. Binstock says their development for OS X and Linux has been "paused" so they can focus on delivering content for Windows. They have no timeline for going back to the less popular platforms.
Businesses

Here Comes the Keurig of Everything 270

Posted by Soulskill
from the for-the-lazy-people-who-only-eat-4-things dept.
Tekla Perry writes: Keurig made a huge business out of single-serving coffee machines. Now, as more complex machinery shrinks in size and cost, many companies are trying to duplicate that success for other types of food and drink. Startups are introducing the Keurig of cocktails, the Keurig of Jell-O shots, and the Keurig of dinner (it makes stir fries, stews, and risottos). The question is: does having a single- or limited-purpose device make really make sense for consumables that aren't coffee? Counter space is not infinite, and most people want more variety out of their lunches, dinners, and nightcaps than they do for their morning pick-me-up. (Also, let's retire this metaphor before we get a Keurig for cats.)
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: What Is the Best Open Document Format? 200

Posted by timothy
from the when-plaintext-just-won't-do dept.
kramer2718 writes: I am working on a project that requires uploading and storing of documents. Although the application will need to allow uploading of .docx, doc, .pdf, etc, I'd like to store the documents in a standard open format that will allow easy search, compression, rendering, etc. Which open document format is the best? Since "best" can be highly driven by circumstances, please explain your reasoning, too.
Power

Wireless Charging Tech Adopted By Ford, Chrysler, and Toyota Goes Open Source 75

Posted by timothy
from the cautious-optimism dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The in-vehicle wireless charging technology adopted by Ford, Chrysler, Dodge, RAM, and Toyota has been released to the public domain without royalties or licenses. This technology that you probably never heard of before is in 12 vehicles; more vehicles than all the other wireless charging standards combined. The open standard web page shows schematics, app notes, and certification information to get companies to make compatible wireless charging products.
Intel

Intel NUC5i7RYH Broadwell Mini PC With Iris Pro Graphics Tested 80

Posted by timothy
from the why-pay-for-big-any-more? dept.
MojoKid writes: In addition to ushering in a wave of new notebooks and mobile devices, Intel's Broadwell microarchitecture has also found its way into a plethora of recently introduced small form factor systems like the company's NUC platform. The new NUC5i7RYH is a mini-PC packing a Core i7-5557U Broadwell processor with Iris Pro graphics, which makes it the most powerful NUC released to date. There's a 5th-gen Core i7 CPU inside (dual-core, quad-thread) that can turbo up to 3.4GHz, an Iris Pro 6100 series integrated graphics engine, support for dual-channel memory, M.2 and 2.5" SSDs, 802.1ac and USB 3.0. NUCs are generally barebones systems, so you have to build them up with a drive and memory before they can be used. The NUC5i7RYH is one of the slightly taller NUC systems that can accommodate both M.2 and 9.5mm 2.5 drives and all NUCs come with a power brick and VESA mount. With a low-power dual-core processor and on-die Iris Pro 6100-series graphics engine, the NUC5i7RYH won't offer the same kind of performance as systems equipped with higher-powered processors or discrete graphics cards, but for everyday computing tasks and casual gaming, it should fit the bill for users that want a low profile, out-of-the-way tiny PC.
Businesses

Is Big Data Leaving Hadoop Behind? 100

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-believe-the-hype dept.
knightsirius writes: Big Data was seen as one the next big drivers of computing economy, and Hadoop was seen as a key component of the plans. However, Hadoop has had a less than stellar six months, beginning with the lackluster Hortonworks IPO last December and the security concerns raised by some analysts.. Another survey records only a quarter of big data decision makers actively considering Hadoop. With rival Apache Spark on the rise, is Hadoop being bypassed in big data solutions?
Hardware

Russian Company Unveils Homegrown PC Chips 268

Posted by timothy
from the in-formerly-soviet-russia dept.
Reader WheatGrass shares the news from Russia Insider that MCST, Moscow Center of SPARC Technologies, has begun taking orders for Russian-made computer chips, though at least one expert quoted warns that the technology lags five years behind that of western companies; that sounds about right, in that the chips are described as "comparable with Intel Corp’s Core i3 and Intel Core i5 processors." Also from the article: Besides the chips, MCST unveiled a new PC, the Elbrus ARM-401 which is powered by the Elbrus-4C chip and runs its own Linux-based Elbrus operating system. MCST said that other operating systems, including Microsoft’s Windows and other Linux distributions, can be installed on the Elbrus ARM-401. Finally, the company has built its own data center server rack, the Elbrus-4.4, which is powered by four Elbrus-4C microprocessors and supports up to 384GB of RAM.
Data Storage

Enterprise SSDs, Powered Off, Potentially Lose Data In a Week 184

Posted by timothy
from the other-side-of-solid-state's-speed dept.
New submitter Mal-2 writes with a selection from IB Times of special interest for anyone replacing hard disks with solid state drives: The standards body for the microelectronics industry has found that Solid State Drives (SSD) can start to lose their data and become corrupted if they are left without power for as little as a week. ... According to a recent presentation (PDF) by Seagate's Alvin Cox, who is also chairman of the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (JEDEC), the period of time that data will be retained on an SSD is halved for every 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) rise in temperature in the area where the SSD is stored. If you have switched to SSD for either personal or business use, do you follow the recommendation here that spinning-disk media be used as backup as well?
Power

Transformer Explosion Closes Nuclear Plant Unit North of NYC 213

Posted by timothy
from the could-happen-to-anyone dept.
Reuters reports that a transformer failure and related fire have forced the closure of a generating unit of the Indian Point nuclear plant, about 40 miles north of New York City; another generator at the same facility was unaffected. Witnesses reported seeing an explosion, as well as (according to NBC News) a "huge ball of black smoke" when the transformer exploded, which led to the shut-down of the site's Unit 3. The Reuters article says the plant "has long been controversial because of its proximity to the United States' largest city. Indian Point is one of 99 nuclear power plants licensed to operate in the United States and which generate about 20 percent of U.S. electricity use, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission website.
Data Storage

Samsung's SSD 840 Read Performance Degradation Explained 65

Posted by timothy
from the failure-to-spin-is-actually-ok-in-this-case dept.
An anonymous reader writes with a link to TechSpot's explanation of the reason behind the performance degradation noticed by many purchasers of certain models of Samsung SSD (the 840 and 840 EVO), and an evaluation of the firmware updates that the firm has released to address is. From the piece, a mixed but positive opinion of the second and latest of these firmware releases: "It’s not an elegant fix, and it’s also a fix that will degrade the lifetime of the NAND since the total numbers of writes it’s meant to withstand is limited. But as we have witnessed in Tech Report’s extensive durability test there is a ton of headroom in how NAND is rated, so in my opinion this is not a problem. Heck, the Samsung 840 even outlasted two MLC drives. As of writing, the new firmware has only been released for the 2.5” model of the SSD 840 EVO, so users of the 840 EVO mSATA model still have to be patient. It should also be noted that the new firmware does not seem to work well with the TRIM implementation in Linux, as this user shared how file system corruption occurs if discard is enabled."
Power

MIT Report Says Current Tech Enables Future Terawatt-Scale Solar Power Systems 176

Posted by timothy
from the more-power-to-you dept.
Lucas123 writes: Even with today's inefficient wafer-based crystalline silicon photovoltaics, terawatt-scale solar power systems are coming down the pike, according to a 356-page report from MIT on the future of solar energy. Solar electricity generation is one of "very few low-carbon energy technologies" with the potential to grow to very large scale, the study states. In fact, solar resources dwarf current and projected future electricity demand. The report, however, also called out a lack of funds for R&D on newer solar technology, such as thin-film wafers that may be able to achieve lower costs in the long run. Even more pressing than the technology are state and federal policies that squelch solar deployment. For example, government subsidies to solar are dwarfed by subsidies to other energy sources, and trade policies have restricted PV module and other commodity product imports in order to aid domestic industry. Additionally, even though PV module and inverter costs are essentially identical in the United States and Germany, total U.S.residential system costs are substantially above those in Germany.
Intel

Fastest 4.5 Watt Core M 5Y71 In Asus T300 Chi Competitive With Full Core i5 CPUs 48

Posted by timothy
from the smaller-better-faster-cheaper dept.
MojoKid writes: Asus unveiled its latest addition to the Transformer series at CES in January, the Transformer Book Chi, which just recently began shipping. Available in three sizes, the new Transformer Book Chi Series features a 2-in-1 detachable design. The flagship Transformer Book T300 Chi offers a 12.5-inch screen, an Intel Core M processor, and a fanless cooling solution. The 2-in-1 detachable design employs a magnetic hinge that supports four usage modes: Attached, Detached, Flipped, and Tented. The T300 Chi measures about 0.65 inches when docked, making it slightly thinner than an Apple Macbook Air. Asus claims the T300 Chi is the world's thinnest Windows tablet, measuring just 0.28 inches thick. More interestingly, perhaps, is that Asus built this machine with Intel's fastest Core M chip, the Core M 5Y71. In the benchmarks, it competes well even with full-sized ultrabooks, though battery life does take a hit due to the system's mechanical limitations and smaller 31Whr battery. At prices from $400 to $900, this might be an interesting choice for anyone considering the new Surface 3, too.
Cloud

Dropbox Moves Accounts Outside North America To Ireland 135

Posted by timothy
from the which-is-technically-outside-of-north-america dept.
monkeyzoo writes: Similar to a previous announcement by Twitter, Dropbox has changed its Terms of Service for users outside of North America (USA/Canada/Mexico) such that services will now be provided out of Ireland. Will other companies follow this trend and leave the USA (and the jurisdiction of the NSA)? Note, the announcement states that North American users are not able to opt into the Irish Terms of Service.
Build

Going Beyond the 'Stock' Arduino with Justin Mclean (Video) 12

Posted by Roblimo
from the traveling-with-gun-and-camera-through-the-wilds-of-open-source dept.
Justin McLean is probably best-known for his work with Apache Flex. He also started playing with open source hardware before Arduino, and now works with systems like Fritzing, an open source hardware initiative that can take you all the way from initial concept to production-ready PCBs you can have made by a production house -- or make yourself if that's the way you roll. This can be an educational activity, a way to make prototype boards for potential Internet of Things products or even just a fun way to occupy yourself by making LEDs light up.