cylonlover writes "Maya Cakmak, a researcher from Georgia Tech, spent the summer at Willow Garage creating a user-friendly system that teaches the PR2 robot simple tasks. The kicker is that it doesn't require any traditional programming skills whatsoever – it works by physically guiding the robot's arms while giving it verbal commands. After inviting regular people to give it a try, she found that with few instructions they were able to teach the PR2 how to retrieve medicine from a cabinet and fold a t-shirt."
An anonymous reader writes "I just learned that Salesforce charges $3000 per year for 1GB of extra data storage. That puts it in line with hardware storage costs from about 1993. We've all heard of telcos and ISPs charging ridiculous rates per MB when limits are reached — what's the most ridiculous rate that you've heard?"
Hugh Pickens writes "Josie Garthwaite writes that old electric car batteries degraded below acceptable performance levels for autos still have enough life to serve the grid for at least ten years with a prototype announced by GM and ABB lashing five Chevy Volt battery packs together in an array with a capacity of 10 kilowatt-hours — enough to provide electricity for three to five average houses for two hours. 'In a car, you want immediate power, and you want a lot of it,' says Alexandra Goodson. 'We're discharging for two hours instead of immediately accelerating. It's not nearly as demanding on the system.'" (Read on, below.)
An anonymous reader writes "Google's Nexus 4 sold out around the world very quickly this week, and while there was talk of very limited supply, apparently some key people managed to get their hands on it. That's right: the Nexus 4 has already been rooted."
New submitter lebijoutier writes "According to Slate, '[Patrick] Tresset, for one, discovered a novel way to stay mentally healthy with the help of drugs and still pursue what was once his life's work: He created robots that can draw portraits. Far from a mere novelty, his research is telling us more about both the creative process in humans and how we relate emotionally to machines. ... Most of us still don't have robots in the home, but for decades now, we've been waiting for machines to do our bidding. Tresset believes that it might be a good idea to imbue all personal robots with some sort of artistic skill to encourage an emotional bond — it might allow for more trust, perhaps, though you can also see how overly identifying with a machine might create some existential questions.' The article also has a fascinating video of five of his robots sketching a single human."
New submitter diabolicalrobot writes "The Robotics Institute at CMU has been developing systems to learn from humans. Using a Machine Learning class of techniques called Imitation Learning our group has developed AI software for a small commercially available off-the-shelf ARdrone to autonomously fly through the dense trees for over 3.4 km in experimental runs. We are also developing methods to do longer range planning with such purely vision-guided UAVs. Such technology has a lot of potential impact for surveillance, search and rescue and allowing UAVs to safely share airspace with manned airspace."
cylonlover writes "AdTrap is a new low-power, zero configuration device which promises to banish adverts from computers, tablets, and anything else connected to the local network. AdTrap's creators point out that their device works not only with full-sized PCs, but everything else connected to your home internet, such as Apple devices running iOS 6 – and without the need of third-party apps or jailbreaking. In addition to blocking web browser ads, AdTrap is also reported to remove ads from streaming devices like Apple TV and Google TV. A configurable 'whitelist' is offered too, so that users can allow adverts on websites of their choice."
c0lo writes "Engineers from Google's Books team have released the design plans for a comparatively reasonably priced (about $1500) book scanner on Google Code. Built using a scanner, a vacuum cleaner and various other components, the Linear Book Scanner was developed by engineers during the '20 percent time' that Google allocates for personal projects. The license is highly permissive, thus it's possible the design and building costs can be improved. Any takers?" Adds reader leighklotz: "The Google Tech Talk Video starts with Jeff Breidenbach of the Google Books team, and moves on to Dany Qumsiyeh showing how simple his design is to build. Could it be that the Google Books team has had enough of destroying the library in order to save it? Or maybe the just want to up-stage the Internet Archive's Scanning Robot. Disclaimer: I worked with Jeff when we were at Xerox (where he did this awesome hack), but this is more awesome because it saves books."
MrSeb writes "Engineers at NC State University (NCSU) have discovered a way of boosting the throughput of busy WiFi networks by up to 700%. Perhaps most importantly, the breakthrough is purely software-based, meaning it could be rolled out to existing WiFi networks relatively easily — instantly improving the throughput and latency of the network. As wireless networking becomes ever more prevalent, you may have noticed that your home network is much faster than the WiFi network at the airport or a busy conference center. The primary reason for this is that a WiFi access point, along with every device connected to it, operates on the same wireless channel. This single-channel problem is also compounded by the fact that it isn't just one-way; the access point also needs to send data back to every connected device. To solve this problem, NC State University has devised a scheme called WiFox. In essence, WiFox is some software that runs on a WiFi access point (i.e. it's part of the firmware) and keeps track of the congestion level. If WiFox detects a backlog of data due to congestion, it kicks in and enables high-priority mode. In this mode, the access point gains complete control of the wireless network channel, allowing it to clear its backlog of data. Then, with the backlog clear, the network returns to normal. We don't have the exact details of the WiFox scheme/protocol (it's being presented at the ACM CoNEXT conference in December), but apparently it increased the throughput of a 45-device WiFi network by 700%, and reduced latency by 30-40%."
sfcrazy writes "A very serious argument erupted on the Linux kernel mailing list when Andy Grover, a Red Hat SCSI target engineer, requested that Nicholas A. Bellinger, the Linux SCSI target maintainer, provide proof of non-infringement of the GPL. Nick is developer at Rising Tide Systems, a Red Hat competitor, and a maker of advanced SCSI storage systems. Nick's company recently produced a groundbreaking technology involving advanced SCSI commands which will give Rising Tide Systems a lead in producing SCSI storage systems. Now, RTS is blocking Red Hat from getting access to that code as it's proprietary. What's uncertain is whether RTS' code is covered by GPL or not — if it is then Red Hat has all the rights to get access to it and it's a serious GPL violation."
MrSeb writes "Alternative memory standards have been kicking around for decades as researchers have struggled to find the hypothetical holy grail — a non-volatile, low-latency, low-cost product that could scale from hard drives to conventional RAM. NAND flash has become the high-speed, non-volatile darling of the storage industry, but if you follow the evolution of the standard, you'll know that NAND is far from perfect. The total number of read/write cycles and data duration if the drive isn't kept powered are both significant problems as process shrinks continue scaling downward. Thus far, this holy grail remains elusive, but a practical MRAM (Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory) solution took a step towards fruition this week. Everspin has announced that it's shipping the first 64Mb ST-MRAM in a DDR3-compatible module. These modules transfer data at DDR3-1600 clock rates, but access latencies are much lower than flash RAM, promising an overall 500x performance increase over conventional NAND."
Penurious Penguin writes "Via LXer, an article from PCWorld describes the A13-OLinuXino, produced by OLIMEX. Similar, but distinct from the Raspberry Pi, the Linux-powered OLinuXino is touted as 'fully open,' with all CAD files and source-code freely available for both personal and commercial reuse. Its specs include an Allwinner A13 Cortex A8 1GHz processor, 3D Maili400 GPU, 512MB RAM, all packed into a nano-ITX form and fit for operation in industrial environments between -25C and 85C. The device comes with Android 4.0, but is capable of running other Linux distros, e.g., ArchlinuxARM."
holy_calamity writes "France now has a dedicated cellular data network just for Internet-of-Things devices, and the company that built it is rolling out the technology elsewhere, says MIT Technology Review. SigFox's network is slower than a conventional cellular data network, but built using technology able to make much longer range links and operate on unlicensed spectrum. Those features are intended to allow the service to be cheap enough for low cost sensors on energy infrastructure and many other places to make sense, something not possible on a network shared with smartphones and other consumer devices."
Zothecula writes "Researchers at the CNRS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory (a collaboration between France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology) are developing software that allows a person to drive a robot with their thoughts alone. The technology could one day give a paralyzed patient greater autonomy through a robotic agent or avatar."