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Microsoft

Microsoft Researchers Generate 3D Models From Ordinary Smartphones 48

New submitter subh_arya writes: Engineers from Microsoft Research have unveiled the first technology to perform 3D surface reconstruction from ordinary smartphone cameras. Their computational framework creates a connected 3D surface model by continuously registering RGB input to an incrementally built 3D model. Although the reconstruction results look promising, Microsoft does not plan to release an app anytime soon.
Bug

Backwards S-Pen Can Permanently Damage Note 5 157

tlhIngan writes: Samsung recently released a new version of its popular Galaxy Note series phablet, the Note 5. However, it turns out that there is a huge design flaw in the design of its pen holder (which Samsung calls the S-pen). If you insert it backwards (pointy end out instead of in), it's possible for it get stuck damaging the S-pen detection features. While it may be possible to fix it (Ars Technica was able to, Android Police was not), there's also a chance that your pen is also stuck the wrong way in permanently as the mechanism that holds the pen in grabs the wrong end and doesn't let go.
Cloud

Who Makes the Decision To Go Cloud and Who Should? 154

Esther Schindler writes: It's a predictable argument in any IT shop: Should the techies — with their hands on their keyboards — be the people who decide which technology or deployment is right for the company? Or should CIOs and senior management — with their strategic perspective — be the ones to make the call? Ellis Luk got input from plenty of people about management vs. techies making cloud/on-premise decisions... with, of course, a lot of varying in opinion.
Power

South Africans Revolutionize Concentrated Solar Power With Mini Heliostats 106

Taffykay writes: Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) offers significant benefits, but it's often prohibitively expensive. Paul Gauché from Stellenbosch University in South Africa hopes to change that with Helio 100, a series of 'plonkable' miniature heliostats that require no installation or concrete, and offer solar energy that's cheaper than diesel. The Guardian reports: "Helio100 is a pilot project with over 100 heliostats of 2.2 sq meters each, generating 150 Kilowatts (kW) of power in total – enough to power about 10 households. According to Gauché, the array is already cheaper than using diesel, the go-to fuel for most companies and businesses during regular power outages in the country.
Robotics

Robots Are Coming For Our Jobs, Just Not All of Them 319

szczys writes: There was a video published on YouTube about a year ago called Humans Need Not Apply which compared human labor now to horse labor just before industrialization. It's a great thought-exercise, but there are a ton of tasks where it's still science-fiction to think robots are taking over anytime soon. Kristina Panos makes a great argument for which jobs we all want to see taken by robots, others that would be very difficult to make happen, and some that would just creep everyone out.
Hardware

Video The IoT, the MinnowBoard, and How They Fit Into the Universe (Video) 25

The IoT is becoming more pervasive partly because processor costs are dropping. So are bandwidth costs, even if your ISP isn't sharing those savings with you. Today's interviewee, Mark Skarpness, is "the Director of Embedded Software in the Open Source Technology Center at Intel Corporation," which is an amazing mouthful of a title. What it means is that he works to extend Intel's reach into Open Source communities, and is also aware of how hardware and software price drops -- and bandwidth price drops at the "wholesale" level -- mean that if you add a dash of IPV6, even lowly flip-flops might have their own IPs one day.

This video interview is a little less than six minutes long, while the text transcript covers a 17 minute conversation between Mark Skarpness and Slashdot's Timothy Lord. The video can be considered a "meet Mark" thing, and watching it will surely give you the idea that yes, this guy knows his stuff, but for more info about the spread of the IoT and how the Open Hardware MinnowBoard fits into the panoply of developer tools for IoT work, you'll have to read the transcript.
Input Devices

Skylake Has a Voice DSP and Listens To Your Commands 99

itwbennett writes: Intel's new Skylake processor (like the Core M processor released last year) comes with a built-in digital signal processor (DSP) that will allow you to turn on and control your PC with your voice. Although the feature is not new, what is new is the availability of a voice controlled app to use it: Enter Windows 10 and Cortana. If this sounds familiar, it should, writes Andy Patrizio: 'A few years back when the Xbox One was still in development, word came that Kinect, its motion and audio sensor controller, would be required to use the console and Kinect would always be listening for voice commands to start the console. This caused something of a freak-out among gamers, who feared Microsoft would be listening.'
Data Storage

MIT's New File System Won't Lose Data During Crashes 168

jan_jes sends news that MIT researchers will soon present a file system they say is mathematically guaranteed not to lose data during a crash. While building it, they wrote and rewrote the file system over and over, finding that the majority of their development time was spent defining the system components and the relationships between them. "With all these logics and proofs, there are so many ways to write them down, and each one of them has subtle implications down the line that we didn’t really understand." The file system is slow compared to other modern examples, but the researchers say their formal verification can also work with faster designs. Associate professor Nickolai Zeldovich said, "Making sure that the file system can recover from a crash at any point is tricky because there are so many different places that you could crash. You literally have to consider every instruction or every disk operation and think, ‘Well, what if I crash now? What now? What now?’ And so empirically, people have found lots of bugs in file systems that have to do with crash recovery, and they keep finding them, even in very well tested file systems, because it’s just so hard to do.”
Android

Samsung May Release an 18" Tablet 177

A report at PC Magazine says that Samsung may soon field a tablet to satisfy people not content with the 7", 9", 12", or even slightly larger tablets that are today's normal stock in trade. Instead, the company is reported to be working on an 18.4" tablet aimed at "living rooms, offices, and schools." There's a lot of couching going on, but it sounds like an interesting idea: It's said to run Android 5.1 Lollipop and be powered by an octa-core 64-bit 1.6GHz Exynos 7580 processor. Other rumored specs include 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot with support for cards up to 128GB, and a large 5,700 mAh battery. The device also has an 8-megapixel main camera (and you thought people looked silly taking photos with their iPads) and 2.1-megapixel "secondary camera."
Transportation

Tesla Partners With Airbnb, Subsidizes Chargers 59

Fortune reports that Tesla and Airbnb have teamed up; certain Airbnb properties will get Tesla chargers as a perk. There are 12 locations already equippped with chargers, but expect to see more soon, because Tesla is willing to pay for some of them, at least in California. To get on the list from which Tesla is drawing takes more than an air mattress in a spare room: An existing Airbnb host who lists an entire home, has had more than more than five bookings, and has an average overall star rating of 4+ is eligible to receive a free Tesla charger, which cost $750. The host must pay for the installation, which costs between $200 and $900 depending on the layout of the home.
Advertising

Why Google Wants To Sell You a Wi-Fi Router 198

lpress writes: Last quarter, Google made $16 billion on advertising and $1.7 billion on "other sales." I don't know how "other sales" breaks down, but a chunk of that is hardware devices like the Pixel Chromebook, Chromecast, Next thermostat, Nexus phone and, now, WiFi routers. Does the world need another $200 home router? Why would Google bother? I can think of a couple of strategic reasons — they hope it will become a home-automation hub (competing with the Amazon Echo) and it will enable them to dynamically configure and upgrade your home or small office network for improved performance (hence more ads).
Security

Cheap Thermal Imagers Can Steal User PINs 100

Bismillah writes: A British infosec company has discovered that cheap thermal imaging attachments for smartphones can be used to work out which keys users press on -- for instance -- ATM PIN pads. The thermal imprint last for a minute or longer. That's especially worrying if your PIN takes the form of letters, as do many users' phone-unlock patterns.
Iphone

Apple Launches Free iPhone 6 Plus Camera Replacement Program 68

Mark Wilson writes: Complaints about the camera of the iPhone 6 Plus have been plentiful, and Apple has finally acknowledged that there is a problem. It's not something that affects all iPhone 6 Plus owners, but the company says that phones manufactured between September 2014 and January 2015 could include a failed camera component. Apple has set up a replacement program which enables those with problems with the rear camera to obtain a replacement. Before you get too excited, it is just replacement camera components that are on offer, not replacement iPhones. You'll need to check to see if your phone is eligible at the program website. (Also at TechCrunch.)
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: Do You Press "6" Key With Right Or Left Hand? 240

New submitter ne0phyte73 writes: In some countries and in some touch typing books key "6" is pressed with right hand and in some others with left. It's not a big issue until you have a split keyboard. Guys at UHK are putting it on the left side. Do you agree? What hand do you use to press "6"? Left hand here, but it's not a strong preference; I'll take a keyboard that omits Caps Lock wherever they put the 6.
Data Storage

Object Storage and POSIX Should Merge 66

storagedude writes: Object storage's low cost and ease of use have made it all the rage, but a few additional features would make it a worthier competitor to POSIX-based file systems, writes Jeff Layton at Enterprise Storage Forum. Byte-level access, easier application portability and a few commands like open, close, read, write and lseek could make object storage a force to be reckoned with.

'Having an object storage system that allows byte-range access is very appealing,' writes Layton. 'It means that rewriting applications to access object storage is now an infinitely easier task. It can also mean that the amount of data touched when reading just a few bytes of a file is greatly reduced (by several orders of magnitude). Conceptually, the idea has great appeal. Because I'm not a file system developer I can't work out the details, but the end result could be something amazing.'
Data Storage

Meet Linux's Newest File-System: Bcachefs 131

An anonymous reader writes: Bcachefs is a new open-source file-system derived from the bcache Linux kernel block layer cache. Bcachefs was announced by Kent Overstreet, the lead Bcache author. Bcachefs hopes to provide performance like XFS/EXT4 while having features similar to Btrfs and ZFS. The bachefs on-disk format hasn't yet been finalized and the code isn't yet ready for the Linux kernel. That said, initial performance results are okay and "It probably won't eat your data — but no promises." Features so far for Bcachefs are support for multiple devices, built-in caching/tiering, CRC32C checksumming, and Zlib transparent compression. Support for snapshots is to be worked on.
Displays

A New Take on Wearable Devices 29

minstrelmike writes: A company called Polyera is working on a wrist-worn device with a flexible, fabric-like screen that uses e-Ink technology and can go days without recharging. "Right now we design electronic devices that are built on rigid little bricks, so our devices end up looking like rigid little bricks. We wanted to make a fundamental technology that would completely open up the design capabilities. Now we're playing with materials that are more warm, and integrating electronics with materials that are more like leather than they are metal or glass." Their device is touch-sensitive and has much more usable screen space than most wrist-borne devices, which comes at the cost of being lower-resolution and grayscale.
Graphics

NVIDIA Launches $159 Mainstream Maxwell-Based GeForce GTX 950 85

MojoKid writes: NVIDIA is launching a new mainstream graphics card today, the GeForce GTX 950, based on the company's GM206 GPU. The GM206 debuted on the GeForce GTX 960, which launched a few months back. As the new card's name suggests though, the GM206 used on the GeForce GTX 950 isn't quite as powerful as the one used on the GTX 960. The company is targeting this card at MOBA (massive online battle arena) players, who don't necessarily need the most powerful GPUs on the market, but want smooth, consistent framerates at resolutions of 1080p or below. It's being positioned as a significant, yet affordable, upgrade over cards like the GeForce GTX 650 Ti, that are a couple of generations old. NVIDIA's reference specifications for the GeForce GTX 950 call for a base clock of 1024MHz and a Boost clock of 1188MHz. The GPU is packing 768 CUDA cores, 48 texture units, and 32 ROPs. The 2GB of video memory on GeForce GTX 950 cards is clocked at a 6.6GHz (effective GDDR5 data rate) and the memory links to the GPU via a 128-bit interface. At those clocks, the GeForce GTX 950 offers up a peak textured fillrate of 49.2 GTexels/s and 105.6 GB/s of memory bandwidth. At a $159 starting MSRP, in the benchmarks, the GeForce GTX 950 offers solid entry level or midrange performance at 1080p resolutions. It's a bit faster than AMD's Radeon R9 270X but comes in just behind a Radeon R9 285.
Robotics

Video HooperFly is an Open Source, Modular Drone (Video) 24

Tricopters, quadcopters, hexicopters. A HooperFly can be any of these, or an octocopter or possibly even a larger number than that. The HooperFly is a modular creation, and spokesman Rich Burton says the design is open source (and was showing off the HooperFly at OSCON), so the flier's configuration is limited only by your imagination. The main construction material is plastic tubing available from most building supply and hardware stores. The electronics? We didn't see schematics or code, but presumably they're out there. One thing for sure is that the HooperFly is good for making music videos like M.I.A. & The Partysquad's Double Bubble Trouble (NSFP; i.e. NotSafeForPrudes; has images of 3-D printed guns, flying copters, etc.) and the lyrical Peace Drone at Twilight. It looks like HooperFly lives at the intersection of technology and art, which is a good place to be -- not that there aren't plenty of HooperFly skateboard videos, too, because one of the first things it seems most skateboarders do when they get a camera-equipped drone is shoot a skateboard video and post it to YouTube. But beyond that, intrepid drone pilots can work with the HooperFly's autopilot features to do many beautiful (and hopefully legal) things.