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Power

France Decrees New Rooftops Must Be Covered In Plants Or Solar Panels 247

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-at-least-fine-pastries dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A law approved in France Thursday now requires all new rooftops in commercial zones to be covered in plants or solar panels. "Green roofs have an isolating effect, helping reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a building in winter and cool it in summer. They also retain rainwater, thus helping reduce problems with runoff, while favoring biodiversity and giving birds a place to nest in the urban jungle, ecologists say." The law was actually watered down from its original version — businesses only have to cover part of their roof. In other solar power news, reader SpzToid notes that despite earlier worries, the European power grid handled the solar eclipse just fine
Transportation

Musk Says Drivers May Become Obsolete, Announces Juice-Saving Upgrades 341

Posted by timothy
from the dog's-not-that-shaggy dept.
Lucas123 (935744) writes During a discussion at a Nvidia conference, Elon Musk predicted that in the future, consumers will not be allowed to drive cars because it will be considered too dangerous. [Note: compare Lyft CEO Logan Green's opposite view] 'You can't have a person driving a two-ton death machine,' he said. Others agree. Thilo Koslowski, a vice president at Gartner, said instead of laws dictating drivers must cede control to their car's computer, we may someday someday just pass signs requiring drivers to activate auto-drive functionality for certain particularly treacherous stretches of roadway. Kowlowski said fully autonomous vehicles won't be ubiquitous for another 10 to 15 years, but the government could spur that on by offering tax incentives as it does today with all-electric vehicles and hybrids. Related news: it may not be fully autonomous driving, but Tesla S drivers are promised an upgrade a few months from now that gives a taste, with the addition of automatic steering features. And though it's perhaps anti-climactic as a solution to "ending range anxiety," Musk also announced today that Teslas will get in the next two weeks a software upgrade that will greatly upgrade the cars' routing software, integrating "near-realtime" lists of available supercharger stations, and keeping drivers apprised of whether one is within range.
Displays

First AMD FreeSync Capable Gaming Displays and Drivers Launched, Tested 63

Posted by timothy
from the play-on-this dept.
MojoKid writes Soon after NVIDIA unveiled its G-SYNC technology, AMD announced that it would pursue an open standard, dubbed FreeSync, leveraging technologies already available in the DisplayPort specification to offer adaptive refresh rates to users of some discrete Radeon GPUs and AMD APUs. AMD's goal with FreeSync was to introduce a technology that offered similar end-user benefits to NVIDIA's G-SYNC, that didn't require monitor manufacturers to employ any proprietary add-ons, and that could be adopted by any GPU maker. Today, AMD released its first FreeSync capable set of drivers and this first look at the sleek ultra-widescreen LG 34UM67 showcases some of the benefits, based on an IPS panel with a native resolution of 2560x1080 and a max refresh rate of 75Hz. To fully appreciate how adaptive refresh rate technologies work, it's best to experience them in person. In short, the GPU scans a frame out to the monitor where it's drawn on-screen and the monitor doesn't update until a frame is done drawing. As soon as a frame is done, the monitor will update again as quickly as it can with the next frame, in lockstep with the GPU. This completely eliminates tearing and jitter issues that are common in PC gaming. Technologies like NVIDIA G-SYNC and AMD FreeSync aren't a panacea for all of PC gaming anomalies, but they do ultimately enhance the experience and are worthwhile upgrades in image quality and less eye strain.
Government

To Avoid NSA Interception, Cisco Will Ship To Decoy Addresses 296

Posted by timothy
from the name-is-smith-john-smith dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this news snipped from The Register: Cisco will ship boxes to vacant addresses in a bid to foil the NSA, security chief John Stewart says. The dead drop shipments help to foil a Snowden-revealed operation whereby the NSA would intercept networking kit and install backdoors before boxen reached customers. The interception campaign was revealed last May. Speaking at a Cisco Live press panel in Melbourne today, Stewart says the Borg will ship to fake identities for its most sensitive customers, in the hope that the NSA's interceptions are targeted. 'We ship [boxes] to an address that has nothing to do with the customer, and then you have no idea who, ultimately, it is going to,' Stewart says.
Android

Google, Developers Demo Impressive Gaming and VR Apps For Project Tango Tablet 15

Posted by timothy
from the very-cool-piece-of-gear dept.
MojoKid writes Google's Project Tango Android tablet offers a new way to interact with the world through the use of 3D mapping and real-time depth sensing. Combined with custom software and hardware sensors, Project Tango devices are capable of performing over a quarter million 3D measurements per second to create a 3D model of the world we see. There are endless possibilities as Google notes. "What if you could capture the dimensions of your home simply by walking around with your phone before you went furniture shopping? What if the visually-impaired could navigate unassisted in unfamiliar indoor places? And there are obvious big advantages in gaming applications for positioning, augmented reality, etc. Google was offering a first-hand experience with virtual reality gaming using Project Tango at GTC in San Jose today, and the results are pretty impressive. The first demo involved Zombie Gunship Reality, which allows you to take aim at killer zombies from the relative safety of the air. Using an NVIDIA Tegra K1-powered Project Tango dev tablet, you're able to aim your weapon by moving the tablet around in front of you, which provides for a more immersive experience than just tapping/swiping away on the screen alone to move. Google also demoed how a Project Tango device could be used to create a 3D capture of a room or even an entire building, giving users a way to navigate through unfamiliar surroundings without the need for Wi-Fi or GPS hardware.
Media

Ask Slashdot: Building a Home Media Center/Small Server In a Crawlspace? 252

Posted by timothy
from the make-sure-you-can-retrieve-it-later dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I've decided it's time for me to build a separate machine specifically for use as a Media Center/Small Home Server. My wife and I haven't had cable TV in years, instead relying entirely on Netflix, other streaming sites, and hard copies we've bought over the years. Having just finished ripping our entire media collection (CDs, DVDs, and even our vinyls and VHS with the help of a capture card and some sweet digital voodoo) to a couple HDDs, I'm feeling froggy. Up until now we've been using WDTV Live, and it's been pretty snazzy, but I want to upgrade to a dedicated media machine instead of piggybacking off of my office computer. It'll be a Windows based machine utilizing Plex, and it's going in the crawlspace of the house. The crawlspace in question is unfinished, but I do have a dry concrete slab down there where I can put/mount/assemble something. Cooling won't be an issue obviously, and I am keeping a close eye on hardware specs with regards to moisture. It is still a crawlspace though. What would be a good setup to to house the hardware? Priorities being to safeguard against moisture, vermin, and dirt. Modified PC Tower? Rack? Build an enclosure? Something I haven't considered?

Please assume I'm stubborn and absolutely dead-set on putting it in the crawlspace to avoid the discussion devolving into the 'best' place to put a media machine."
Portables

Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Laptop To Support Physics Research? 385

Posted by timothy
from the budget-for-replacement-too dept.
An anonymous reader writes My daughter is in her third year of college as a physics major. She has an internship in Europe this summer, will graduate next year, and continue with graduate physics studies. Her area of research interest is in gravitational waves and particle physics. She currently has a laptop running Win7 and wants to buy a new laptop. She would like to use Linux on it, and plans to use it for C++ programming, data analysis and simulations (along with the usual email, surfing, music, pictures, etc). For all of the physics-savvy Slashdotters out there: what should she get? PC? Mac? What do you recommend for running Linux? For a C++ development environment? What laptop do you use and how is it configured to support your physics-related activities?
Power

Ask GM's Exec. Chief Engineer For Electric Vehicles Pam Fletcher a Question 229

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
Pam Fletcher was propulsion system chief engineer on the first Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and is now executive chief engineer for electrified vehicles at GM. A racing enthusiast, Pam developed racing engines for GM , McLaren, and NASCAR's Dale Earnhardt Sr.. Her current role has her running a multi-national department overseeing electrified vehicles company-wide. Fletcher has agreed to take a moment out of her busy day to answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Graphics

NVIDIA's GeForce GTX TITAN X Becomes First 12GB Consumer Graphics Card 110

Posted by Soulskill
from the impractically-powerful dept.
Deathspawner writes: When NVIDIA announced its GeForce GTX TITAN X at GTC, no one was surprised that it'd be faster than the company's previous top-end card, the GTX 980. But what did impress many is that the company said the card would sport a staggering 12GB of VRAM. As Techgage found, pushing that 12GB is an exercise in patience — you really have to go out of your way to come even close. Additional reviews available at PC Perspective and AnandTech. The latter notes, "...from a technical perspective, the GTX Titan X and GM200 GPU represent an interesting shift in high-end GPU design goals for NVIDIA, one whose ramifications I’m not sure we fully understand yet. By building what’s essentially a bigger version of GM204, heavy on graphics and light on FP64 compute, NVIDIA has been able to drive up performance without a GM204-like increase in die size. At 601mm2 GM200 is still NVIDIA’s largest GPU to date, but by producing their purist graphics GPU in quite some time, it has allowed NVIDIA to pack more graphics horsepower than ever before into a 28nm GPU. What remains to be seen then is whether this graphics/FP32-centric design is a one-off occurrence for 28nm, or if this is the start of a permanent shift in NVIDIA GPU design."
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: Good Keyboard? 451

Posted by Soulskill
from the must-fit-through-doors dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After five years of service, my keyboard is dying, and I'm starting to look for a new one. Since it's for my primary machine, and I spend a lot of hours there for both work and leisure, I'd like to invest in a high-quality replacement. What do you recommend? I've been using a Logitech G15, and it worked well enough — but not well enough for me to buy another. (I've also heard Logitech's build quality has been on the decline in recent years — has that been your experience, those of you who own their recent hardware?) My use cases include coding and gaming, so durability is a big plus.

I'd prefer something a bit less bulky than the G15, which has a raised area at the top for media controls and a tiny screen. I don't mind a thicker bottom bezel so much. I'm not a huge fan of ergonomic/split keyboards, but if you know a really excellent one, I wouldn't rule it out. Same with mechanical keyboards — love the action, but the noise is an issue. I don't need any particular bells and whistles, but don't mind them. As for a budget... as I said, it's for a heavy-use machine, so I don't mind investing in great hardware. (That said, if I'm spending $150+, it better automatically make sure all my semicolons are in the right place.) So, what keyboard has served you well?
Power

Deploying Solar In California's Urban Areas Could Meet Demand Five Times Over 437

Posted by Soulskill
from the full-conversion-mods dept.
Lucas123 writes: About 8% of terrestrial surfaces in California have been developed, ranging from cities and buildings to park spaces. If photovoltaic panels, along with concentrating solar power, were more effectively deployed in and around those areas, it could meet between three and five times what California currently uses for electricity, according to a new study. The study from the Carnegie Institution for Science, found that using small- and utility-scale solar power in and around developed areas could generate up to 15,000 terawatt-hours of energy a year using photovoltaic technology, and 6,000 TWh of energy a year using concentrating solar power technology. "Integrating solar facilities into the urban and suburban environment causes the least amount of land-cover change and the lowest environmental impact," post-doctoral environmental earth scientist Rebecca Hernandez said.
Robotics

SXSW: Do Androids Dream of Being You? 80

Posted by samzenpus
from the more-you-than-you dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes In 2010, Dr. Martine Rothblatt (founder of United Theraputics and Sirius Radio) decided to build a robotic clone of her partner, named Bina. In theory, this so-called "mindclone" (dubbed Bina48) can successfully mimic the flesh-and-blood Bina's speech and decision-making, thanks to a dataset (called a "mindfile") that contains all sorts of information about her mannerisms, beliefs, recollections, values, and experiences. But is software really capable of replicating a person's mind? At South by Southwest this year, Rothblatt is defending the idea of a "mindfile" and clones as a concept that not only works, but already has a "base" thanks to individuals' social networks, email, and the like. While people may have difficulty embracing something engineered to replicate their behavior, Rothblatt suggested younger generations will embrace the robots: "I think younger people will say 'My mindclone is me, too.'" Is her idea unfeasible, or is she onto something? Video from Bloomberg suggests that Bina48 still has some kinks to work out before it can pass for human.
Displays

Valve's SteamVR: Solves Big Problems, Raises Bigger Questions 124

Posted by Soulskill
from the like-why-do-i-need-three-dimensions-of-candy-crush dept.
An anonymous reader writes: When Valve debuted its SteamVR headset recently, it came as somewhat of a surprise — it certainly hasn't gotten the same level of hype as the Oculus Rift. But people who got to try out the new headset almost universally impressed with the quality of the hardware and software. Eurogamer has an article about the device expressing both astonishment at how far the technology has come in three short years, as well as skepticism that we'll find anything revolutionary to do with it. Quoting: "R demands a paradigm shift in the thinking of game designers and artists about how they build virtual space and how players should interact with it. We're only at the very beginning of this journey now. ... but this process will likely take years, and at the end of it the games won't resemble those we're currently used to. In short, they won't be Half-Life 3."

The author thinks simulation games — driving, piloting, and space combat — will be the core of the first wave, and other genres will probably have to wait for the lessons learned making sims good. He adds, "...the practical challenges are great, too — not least in persuading players to clear enough space in their homes to use this device properly, and the potential for social stigma to attach to the goofy-looking headsets and the players' withdrawal into entirely private experiences. I still think that these present major obstacles to the widespread adoption of VR, which even more practical and commercially realistic offerings like Morpheus will struggle against."
Intel

Intel Will Reportedly Land Apple As a Modem Chip Customer 77

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-partners dept.
itwbennett writes After so many years of spinning its wheels, Intel is reportedly about to make a big step into mobile by providing Apple with LTE modem chips for its hot-selling iPhone. The news comes courtesy of VentureBeat, which cites two separate sources of the plans. The story says Apple will begin using Intel's new 7360 LTE modem processor in place of a Qualcomm chip, which has been there for a few generations.
Intel

Tested: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Update W/ Intel Broadwell, Self-Encrypting SSD 87

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-it-out dept.
MojoKid writes Lenovo just revamped the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and in this third generation of the machine, they've adopted Intel's latest 5th generation Core Series Broadwell processors, along with a few other updates. In addition, they've retooled the keyboard and trackpad area, returning back to more traditional roots versus the second generation machine, which was met with some criticism due to its adaptive function key row and over-simplified, buttonless trackpad. Notable upgrades to this 3rd gen model are a faster Core i5-5300U processor and a self-encrypting Opal2 compliant SSD. Performance-wise, the new ThinkPad offers up some of the best numbers in utlrabooks currently, though battery life is a bit middle of the road, but still able to last over 8 hours under light, web-driven workloads.
Technology

The Internet of Things Just Found Your Lost Wallet 108

Posted by timothy
from the so-don't-lose-your-phone dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes Ever forgotten your wallet in a coffee shop or restaurant? Now there's a way to ensure it'll never happen again: Woolet, which its creators bill as a "smart wallet." It features a rechargeable battery, Bluetooth support, and the ability to synchronize with a smartphone app; if you walk 20-85 feet away from your wallet, the app will make a sound and guide you back to it. The platform's being financed on Kickstarter, and attracted attention from TechCrunch and some other places, but it begs the question: is this yet another example of connected devices run amok—shiny and interesting as a concept but not nearly useful enough for the population at large? What would it take for a connected device, whether a wallet or a smoke detector, to gain mass appeal?
Power

Why Apple Won't Adopt a Wireless Charging Standard 184

Posted by timothy
from the type-oughtta-be-enough-for-anyone dept.
Lucas123 writes As the battle for mobile dominance continues among three wireless charging standards, with many smartphone and wearable makers having already chosen sides, Apple continues to sit on the sideline. While the new Apple Watch uses a tightly coupled magnetic inductive wireless charging technology, it still requires a cable. The only advantage is that no port is required, allowing the watch case to remain sealed and water resistant. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, however, remain without any form of wireless charging, either tightly coupled inductive or more loosely coupled resonant charging. Over the past few years, Apple has filed patents on its own flavor of wireless charging, a "near field" or resonant technology, but no products have as yet come to market. If and when it does select a technology, it will likely be its own proprietary specification, which ensures accessory makers will have to pay royalties to use it.
Hardware Hacking

Maker Person Rich Olson Returns (Video) 42

Posted by Roblimo
from the not-everything-is-about-money dept.
In February we ran a video titled Rich Olson Embodies the Spirit of the Maker Movement. We aren't saying Rich is a superman, but more like everyman or, in this case, everymaker. He is a hobbyist who, like many others, shares his designs freely in the best spirit of open source. Today we have some more words from Rich that may help you if you are just starting to use a 3-D printer and similar tools either at home or in a makerspace. and a note: If you know someone we should interview, please email robinATroblimoDOTCOM.
Power

US Wind Power Is Expected To Double In the Next 5 Years 262

Posted by Soulskill
from the will-power-8-light-bulbs-instead-of-4 dept.
merbs writes: The U.S. Department of Energy anticipates that the amount of electricity generated by wind power to more than double over the next five years. Right now, wind provides the nation with about 4.5 percent of its power. But an in-depth DOE report (PDF) released yesterday forecasts that number will rise to 10 percent by 2020—then 20 percent by 2030, and 35 percent by 2050.
Input Devices

Austin Declared a Drone-Free Zone During SXSW 46

Posted by timothy
from the freak-out-at-the-freak-fest dept.
itwbennett writes Organizers of SXSW said this week that flying of drones is banned for safety reasons. 'The airwaves and/or frequency spectrums generally used in the remote control of drones are too congested during the popular event to ensure operation safe from interference,' they said in a statement. The Austin Police Department will be watching for drones in crowded or public areas and anyone flying one could have it seized, the organizers warned.