alphadogg writes "A rugged server from NCS Technologies introduced on Friday can withstand drops, will work in extreme temperatures and can be deployed via parachute into crisis areas or war zones if needed. The Bunker XRV-5241 is a 1U rack server designed for organizations such as the military and first responders that need servers in rugged environments. The server has been tested to meet U.S. Department of Defense specifications for environmental, temperature and shock requirements." Hope they drop some hardened screens, too, to help with setup.
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
fsck! writes "My office recently installed a pair of huge plasma TVs to display some metrics and graphs. They only update every 15 minutes or so, and I couldn't help but wonder, why can't this be E-Ink? I searched all over the place but couldn't find anything bigger than 9.5" (Amazon's Kindle DX). I want a >30" E-Ink picture frame with USB or WiFi. Can the Slashdot community find anything greener than these energy sucking plasma TVs that seem to be everywhere?"
MikeChino writes "Instructables member Patrik has successfully transformed an old HP5150 inkjet printer into a DIY bioprinter. To do this he removed the plastic covers and panels and rewired the paper handling mechanism. Then he prepped ink cartridges to be able to handle biological materials by opening the lid, removing the ink, and washing it out with deionized water. For his first experiment, he printed a simple solution of arabinose onto filter paper."
Jeremiah Cornelius writes "Blogger Adam Howard at Port3000 has a post about Google's exposure of thousands of publicly accessible printers. 'A quick, well crafted Google search returns "About 86,800 results" for publicly accessible HP printers.' He continues, 'There's something interesting about being able to print to a random location around the world, with no idea of the consequence.' He also warns about these printers as a possible beachhead for deeper network intrusion and exploitation. With many of the HP printers in question containing a web listener and a highly vulnerable and unpatched JVM, I agree that this is not an exotic idea. In the meanwhile? I have an important memo for all Starbucks employees."
redletterdave writes "On Friday morning, BitTorrent launched the alpha test of a new, free public service called BitTorrent Sync, which allows users to securely back up and sync files over the Web using BitTorrent's platform. Unlike competing services such as Box or Dropbox, BitTorrent Sync doesn't store files on remote servers (which means that no third party has access to one's files), and also has no storage limits other than what your devices can hold."
cylonlover writes "Researchers at the University of Buffalo have created spherical silicon nanoparticles they claim could lead to hydrogen generation on demand becoming a 'just add water' affair. When the particles are combined with water, they rapidly form hydrogen and silicic acid, a nontoxic byproduct, in a reaction that requires no light, heat or electricity. In experiments, the hydrogen produced was shown to be relatively pure by successfully being used to power a small fan via a small fuel cell."
alancronin writes "Intel has been planning to make its Ireland base one of three global manufacturing sites for its 14nm chips since May last year, and its now been given the okay by Ireland's lead planning agency. The new $4 billion plant will create around 4,300 jobs for the region in Co. Kildare, where Intel already has around 4,000 on staff. The two-year plan involves redeveloping its existing operation, expanding and shifting to make its smaller, more efficient 14nm process. Intel's plans don't stop there, however. It still plans to roll out 10nm products sometime in 2015."
Timothy Lord starts this video with these words: "Sensors are a big deal at CES this year. They are small devices that track everything from the location of your pets to how many steps you have taken today." And so he chatted with Phillip Bolliger, founder of Swiss company Koubachi AG, which makes Wi-Fi sensors that help you give your plants the right amount of water and light and to keep them at the right temperature. As of this writing, the prices on their online store are in Euros, not dollars, but the sensors are now available through Amazon with U.S. pricing. Koubachi also has a free app for your iOS device, and a Facebook app for your computer or Android device, that will help you give your plants the right amount of fertilizer and other love even if you don't buy a Koubachi sensor.
Orome1 writes "Barracuda Networks has released firmware updates that remove SSH backdoors in a number of their products and resolve a vulnerability in Barracuda SSL VPN that allows attackers to bypass access restrictions to download potentially insecure files, set new admins passwords, or even shut down the device. The backdoor accounts are present on in all available versions of Barracuda Spam and Virus Firewall, Web Filter, Message Archiver, Web Application Firewall, Link Balancer, Load Balancer, and SSL VPN appliances." Here's Barracuda's tech note about the exploitable holes.
Titus Andronicus writes "fuse-exfat, a GPLv3 implementation of the exFAT file system for Linux, FreeBSD, and OS X, has reached 1.0 status, according to an announcement from Andrew Nayenko, the primary developer. exFAT is a file system designed for sneaker-netting terabyte-scale files and groups of files on flash drives and memory cards between and among Windows, OS X, and consumer electronics devices. It was introduced by Microsoft in late 2006. Will fuse-exfat cut into Microsoft's juicy exFAT licensing revenue? Will Microsoft litigate fuse-exfat's developers and users into patent oblivion? Will there be a DKMS dynamic kernel module version of the software, similar to the ZFS on Linux project? All that remains to be seen. ReadWrite, The H, and Phoronix cover the story."
Un pobre guey writes "'To understand the impact technology is having on middle-class jobs in developed countries, the AP analyzed employment data from 20 countries; tracked changes in hiring by industry, pay and task; compared job losses and gains during recessions and expansions over the past four decades; and interviewed economists, technology experts, robot manufacturers, software developers, entrepreneurs and people in the labor force who ranged from CEOs to the unemployed.' Their findings: Technology has consistently reduced the number of manufacturing jobs for 30 years; people with repetitive jobs have been easy to replace in the past, and task jugglers like managers and supervisors will be likely targets in the future; companies in the S&P 500 have expanded their business and increased profits, but reduced staffing, thanks to tech; and startups are launching much more easily these days. The response to the article includes the dutifully repeated bad-government-is-at-fault and don't-worry-it's-like-the-Industrial-Revolution memes. But what if this time it's different? What if delegating everything to machines is a radical and fundamental new change in the course of human history?"
SternisheFan sends news of researchers who encoded an MP3, a PDF, a JPG, and a TXT file into DNA, along with another file that explains the encoding. The researchers estimate the storage density of this technique at 2.2 petabytes per gram (abstract). "We knew we needed to make a code using only short strings of DNA, and to do it in such a way that creating a run of the same letter would be impossible. So we figured, let's break up the code into lots of overlapping fragments going in both directions, with indexing information showing where each fragment belongs in the overall code, and make a coding scheme that doesn't allow repeats. That way, you would have to have the same error on four different fragments for it to fail – and that would be very rare," said one of the study's authors. "We've created a code that's error tolerant using a molecular form we know will last in the right conditions for 10 000 years, or possibly longer," said another.
Wayne Rasanen's Decatxt chording keyboard may be new and exciting to him, and he says has a patent on it so apparently the USPTO found it novel and original, but it's not the first chording keyboard by many long shots. The idea has been around (at least) since 1968. And let's not forget Braille chording keyboards, as described in a 1992 IEEE paper. And if you have an iPhone and want to experiment with a virtual Braille chording keyboard, there's an app for that. Maybe we're just jaded. Or maybe we've known a lot of blind people who used one-handed Braille chording keyboards to type as fast with one hand as a sighted person using a QWERTY keyboard and two hands. So it's hard for us to get excited about a chording keyboard. Be that as it may, we wish Wayne Rasanen all the luck in the world as he brings his invention to market.
coop0030 writes "Open source hardware company Adafruit has announced a new tiny wearable electronics platform board called the Gemma. The Gemma is a tiny, 1-inch diameter and 4-mm thick package. It's powered by an Attiny85 and programmable with an Arduino IDE over USB. There are three available I/O pins, one of which is also an analog input and two of which can do PWM output. Gemma is currently wrapping up development, but should be available soon."
Zothecula writes "Given that most real-life superheroes don't have the budget of Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne, you would assume that their gadgetry wouldn't be quite on par with what we're used to seeing in the movies. German cyber weapons hobbyist Patrick Priebe, however, has built his own working laser gauntlet... just like the one made famous by a certain Iron Man."
kkleiner writes "No longer will they say, 'He's going to end up flipping burgers.' Now, robots are taking even these ignobly esteemed jobs. San Francisco based Momentum Machines makes a robot called the Alpha that can churn out 360 gourmet burgers per hour. The company plans on launching the first ever burger restaurant chain with a cook staff made entirely of robots. You think Americans are obese right now? Just wait."
mynamestolen writes "In order to read paper-based books many visually impaired people want to attach a webcam to a computer and attach the computer to a TV. Some Electronic Magnifiers are purpose-built to provide a similar solution. Different organisations around the world (such as in the UK) have help pages. But I have not been able to find a guide to set up my own system. So I'm asking Slashdot readers how to go about it. What is the best camera to use if I want to hold the camera in my hand and point it at book or magazine? What parameters should I adjust, either in the software or on the camera? Depth of view, refresh rates, contrast, color balance and resolution might be key problems. My system is Linux and getting drivers for a good camera might also be a problem."
Nerval's Lobster writes "For quite some time Mozilla has been working on Firefox OS, a lightweight mobile OS built in HTML5. Now it's whipped the curtain back from the first developer preview phones. The developer preview phones are unlocked, requiring the user insert their own SIM card. If those specs seem a little underpowered compared to other smartphones on the market, it's because Firefox OS is intended for lower-end smartphones; target markets include developing countries such as Brazil and China. (The first developer preview phones will be available in February.) The Firefox OS (once known as 'Boot to Gecko') is based on a handful of open APIs. The actual interface is highly reminiscent of Google Android and Apple iOS, with grids of icons linked to applications." The specs really aren't that bad; reader sfcrazy points out that they include the usual features baked into medium- and high-end phones these days: Wifi N, light and proximity sensors, and an accelerometer (though no mention of NFC).
Nerval's Lobster writes "Last week, Facebook announced Graph Search, a system for searching the social network's vast collection of users, photos, and 'Liked' interests. But how will Facebook power it? The Disaggregated Rack, which will separate compute, RAM, storage, and caching functions in order to remain flexible in the face of Graph Search's changing needs. By breaking up resources and scaling them independently of each other, Facebook can scale without needing to constantly open up new servers and upgrade new hardware."
Will the Open Compute Project’s Common Slot specification and Facebook’s Group Hug board commoditize the data center hardware market even further? Analyst opinions vary widely, indicating that time and additional development work may be necessary before any sort of consensus is reached. At the Open Compute Summit last week, Frank Frankovsky, director of hardware design and supply chain operations at Facebook, announced both the Open Slot specification and Facebook’s prototype Open Slot board, known as “Group Hug.” Group Hug’s premise is simple: disaggregate the CPU in a way that allows virtually any processor to be linked to the motherboard. This has never been done before with a CPU, which has traditionally required its own socket, its own chipset, and thus its own motherboard. Group Hug is designed to accommodate CPUs from AMD, Intel, and even ARM vendors such as Applied Micro and Calxeda.
Zothecula writes "Scientists based at Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, have set a new efficiency record for thin-film copper indium gallium (di)selenid (or CIGS) based solar cells on flexible polymer foils, reaching an efficiency of 20.4 percent. This is an increase from a previous record of 18.7 percent set by the team back in 2011."
Kim Dotcom's new "Mega" cloud service appears to be a hit. According to Dotcom over 1 million have signed up for their free 50 gigabytes of storage. Although that is about 1% of the Dropbox user base, it's not a bad start. From the article: "Mega quickly jumped up to around 100,000 users within an hour or so of the site's official launch. A few hours after that, Mega had ballooned up to approximately a quarter of a million users. Demand was great enough to knock Mega offline for a number of users attempting to either connect up or sign up for new accounts, and Mega's availability remains spotty as of this articles' writing."
hypnosec writes "Stephen Hawking's ability to communicate has been deteriorating over the years and as it stands, he is only able to communicate at the rate of 1 word per minute. Intel CTO Justin Rattner has revealed that they are working on an interface that will boost the scientist's speech to up to 10 words per minute. Beyond twitching his cheek, Hawking is also capable of other voluntary facial expressions which can be tapped to achieve faster communications with the help of a better character interface and a better word predictor."
hydrofix writes "The Wikimedia Foundation is preparing for the transition of its main technical operations to a new data center in Ashburn, Virginia. This is intended to improve the technical performance and reliability of all Wikimedia sites, including Wikipedia. The current target windows for the migration are January 22nd, 23rd and 24th, 2013, from 17:00 to 01:00 UTC. Since 2004, Wikimedia sites have been hosted in the main data center in Tampa, Florida, a location chosen for its proximity to Jimmy Wales at the time. In 2009, the Wikimedia Foundation's Technical Operations team started to look for other locations with better network connectivity and more clement weather. Located in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Ashburn offers faster and more reliable connectivity than Tampa, and usually fewer hurricanes."
An anonymous reader writes "After months of hype riding the coattails of the MegaUpload controversy, Kim Dotcom's new cloud storage site, Mega, is finally going live. After being available to early adopters briefly, it's now open to the public with 50GB of free storage and end-to-end encryption. Several outlets have posted early hands-on reports for the service, including Ars Technica and The Next Web. In an interview, Dotcom spoke about how Mega's encryption scheme benefits both the users and the company: 'The Mega business plan will be a distributed model, with hundreds of companies large and small, around the world, hosting files. A hosting company can be huge or it can own just two or three servers Dotcom says—just as long as it's located outside the U.S. "Each file will be kept with at least two different hosters, [in] at least two different locations," said Dotcom. "That's a great added benefit for us because you can work with the smallest, most unreliable [hosting] companies. It doesn't matter because they can't do anything with that data." More than 1000 hosts answered a request for expressions of interest on the Mega home page. Dotcom says several hundred will be active partners within months.' On top of that, the way it's designed will protect Mega from legal problems: 'It's all about the plausible deniability. Mega doesn't know what you're uploading. ... Mega isn't so much securing your files for you as it is securing itself from your files. If Mega just takes down all the DMCAed links, it will have a 100 percent copyrighted material takedown record as far as its own knowledge is concerned. It literally can't know about cases that aren't actively pointed out to it, complete with file decryption keys.'"
New submitter Hesh writes "Ibex, the first cross-platform VR desktop of its kind, was previously released for Linux, and has finally been updated to work on Mac OS X Mountain Lion. Running at a silky smooth 60fps, it is nearing final release and awaiting delivery of the developer Oculus Rift kits for final integration testing. A Windows version may be released in time. The source can be found on bitbucket for the Linux version and iPhone orientation sensor client while the Mac source is to follow soon at the same location."
An anonymous reader writes "3D printing is on its way toward becoming ubiquitous. Of course, if you have such a printer and want to print something, you need raw materials — the plastic filament that's fed into the machine. It's also likely that while you're learning the ropes, you'll print a bunch of terrible attempts at objects, and end up having to throw them out. Now, Wired is reporting on a device aiming to solve both of those problems. Tyler McNaney's 'Filabot' will break down failed projects as well as many other plastic items from traditional manufacturers, turning them into a filament you can then feed through a 3D printer. 'So far the plastics that work are HDPE, LDPE, ABS, NYLON. More to come on the different types that work.' McNaney sees it as a 'closed-loop recycling system on your desk.' The Filabot's Kickstarter campaign succeeded easily in 2012, and now he and his team are getting ready to launch."
An anonymous reader writes "Wired reports on a research paper from Google employees about the future of authentication on the web. 'Along with many in the industry, we feel passwords and simple bearer tokens such as cookies are no longer sufficient to keep users safe,' the authors write. Their plan involves authenticating just once, to a single device, and then using that to unlock all of your other accounts. "We'd like your smartphone or smartcard-embedded finger ring to authorize a new computer via a tap on the computer, even in situations in which your phone might be without cellular connectivity." Recognizing that this isn't something they can accomplish on their own, they've gone ahead and created a device-based authentication protocol that is 'independent of Google, requires no special software to work — aside from a web browser that supports the login standard — and which prevents web sites from using this technology to track users.'"
bmcage writes "Belgium wants to build an artificial energy storage island within 5 years. The island will store excess energy produced at night from the offshore wind farms already present in the North-Sea. From the article: 'Belgium is planning to build a doughnut-shaped island in the North Sea that will store wind energy by pumping water out of a hollow in the middle, as it looks for ways to lessen its reliance on nuclear power. One of the biggest problems with electricity is that it is difficult to store and the issue is exaggerated in the case of renewable energy from wind or sun because it is intermittent depending on the weather. "We have a lot of energy from the wind mills and sometimes it just gets lost because there isn't enough demand for the electricity," said a spokeswoman for Belgium's North Sea minister Johan Vande Lanotte.'"
crookedvulture writes "AMD has begun addressing the Radeon frame latency spikes covered previously on Slashdot. A new beta driver is due out next week, and it dramatically smooths the uneven frame times exhibited by certain Radeon graphics processors. The driver only tackles performance issues in a few games, but more fixes are on the way. In the games that have been addressed, the new driver delivers more consistent frame times and smoother gameplay without having much of an impact on the minimum or average FPS numbers. Those traditional FPS metrics clearly do a poor job of quantifying the fluidity of in-game action. Surprisingly, it seems AMD was largely relying on those metrics when testing drivers internally. The company has now pledged to pay more attention to frame latencies to ensure that these kinds of issues don't crop up again."
Don't yet have one of those million Raspberry Pis, but you're in the market for a tiny, cheap ARM computer? An anonymous reader writes with this snippet from geek.com: "VIA has decided it's time to update the APC (ARM PC) board with new components and the choice of two configurations. The new systems are called APC Rock and APC Paper. The hardware spec for both boards is exactly the same except for the fact the Rock ships with a VGA port whereas the Paper doesn't. The Rock also costs $20 less at $79, whereas the Paper is $99. The reason for the price difference is the fact that the Paper ships with a rather novel case whereas the Rock is a bare board. The Paper's case is made from recycled cardboard attached to an aluminum chassis to help with strength, meaning it will keep the dust off the components and make it easier to carry while keeping weight to a minimum."
An anonymous reader writes "Kim Dotcom on Thursday used Twitter to reveal some interesting new tidbits in regards to his upcoming Mega service, which will be hosted at the New Zealand-based domain Mega.co.nz. Two days before the service is to go live, Doctom says he plans to offer 50GB of free storage to all members and is also working on bringing over users' Megaupload files and data, but has so far run into legal issues." To say that Kim Dotcom has "run into legal issues" is like saying that Julian Assange is having a sleepover at the Ecuadorian embassy.
YokimaSun writes to point out a Kickstarter project that may warm the cockles of your heart: "Fans of emulation and homebrew have not had much to cheer about over the years; the recent generation of consoles has pretty much killed off any hacking by constant firmware updates. The days of PSP homebrew have died a death and consoles like the Caanoo, GP2x and even the mighty Openpandora never really lived up to the massive expectation. There is a glimmer of hope from a team of homebrew developers who have developed a new console called the GCW-Zero, a new open source handheld system which uses the OpenDingux Linux OS. The specs are impressive, with a Ingenic JZ4770 1 GHz MIPS processor, Vivante GC860, capable of OpenGL ES 2.0, 3.5 inch LCD with 320x240 pixels; 4:3 aspect ratio, 512 MB DDR2 and 16GB of internal memory which can via external memory card be extended by another 32GB. N64 and PS1 emulation and everything below should be at full speed in time."
fangmcgee writes "Rethink Robotics invented a $22,000 humanoid robot named "Baxter" that could give cheap offshore labor a run for its money and return manufacturing jobs to U.S. soil. Artificial intelligence expert Rodney Brooks is the brain behind Baxter. From the article: 'Brooks’s company, Rethink Robotics, says the robot will spark a “renaissance” in American manufacturing by helping small companies compete against low-wage offshore labor. Baxter will do that by accelerating a trend of factory efficiency that’s eliminated more jobs in the U.S. than overseas competition has. Of the approximately 5.8 million manufacturing jobs the U.S. lost between 2000 and 2010, according to McKinsey Global Institute, two-thirds were lost because of higher productivity and only 20 percent moved to places like China, Mexico, or Thailand.'"
redletterdave writes "Dell is reportedly working on a project codenamed 'Ophelia,' a USB stick-sized self-contained computer that provides access to virtually every major operating system — from the Mac OS, to Windows, to Google's Chrome OS, to cloud-based solutions from Citrix and Dell — all via the cloud. Powered by Android, Ophelia works just like a USB stick: Just plug it into any flat panel monitor or TV, and boom, you have a computer. Ophelia connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi, and can connect to keyboards and other peripherals over Bluetooth. Not only is the computer portable and power-efficient, but to make it truly accessible, Dell plans to sell the device for just $50."
gbrumfiel writes "Experts believe that the many thousands who fled from the Fukushima nuclear disaster received very low doses of radiation. But that doesn't mean there won't be health consequences. Nature magazine traveled to Fukushima prefecture and found evidence of an enormous mental strain from the accident. Levels of anxiety and PTSD-like symptoms are high among evacuees. Researchers fear that, in the long run, the mental problems could lead to depression and substance abuse among those who lost their homes. In other words, even if no one develops cancer as a direct result of radiation, the health effects could still be very real."
Nerval's Lobster writes "AMD, Intel, ARM: for years, their respective CPU architectures required separate sockets, separate motherboards, and in effect, separate servers. But no longer: Facebook and the Open Compute Summit have announced a common daughtercard specification that can link virtually any processor to the motherboard. AMD, Applied Micro, Intel, and Calxeda have already embraced the new board, dubbed 'Group Hug.' Hardware designs based on the technology will reportedly appear at the show. The Group Hug card will be connected via a simple x8 PCI Express connector to the main motherboard. But Frank Frankovsky, director of hardware design and supply chain operations at Facebook, also told an audience at the Summit that, while a standard has been provided, it may be some time before the real-world appearance of servers built on the technology."
hypnosec writes "Korean scientists have developed a 'fluid-like' polymer electrolyte used in lithium-ion batteries that would pave way for flexible batteries and flexible smartphones. The discovery was made by a joint team of researchers that was led by Professor Lee Sang-young of Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology. The new electrolyte, though flexible, is made of solid materials hence making the batteries more stable than the lithium-ion batteries used today." Paper, but full text is paywalled.
angry tapir writes "Two U.S. power companies have reported infections of malware during the past three months, with the bad software apparently brought in through tainted USB drives, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT). The publication (PDF) did not name the malware discovered. The tainted USB drive came in contact with a 'handful of machines' at the power generation facility and investigators found sophisticated malware on two engineering workstations critical to the operation of the control environment, ICS-CERT said."
crookedvulture writes "Solid-state drives became much more affordable in 2012. The median price for 240-256GB models fell by about 44% over the course of the year and now sits around 83 cents per gigabyte. Lower-capacity drives also got cheaper, albeit by smaller margins that kept median prices from dipping below the $1/GB threshold. Surprisingly, most drives actually got more expensive over the fourth quarter, despite Black Friday and other holiday sales. This upswing was driven largely by OCZ's decision to back off its strategy of aggressively discounting drives to gain market share, allowing its rivals to raise prices, as well. Although some new models arrived with next-generation 19- and 20-nm NAND that should be cheaper to produce, those drives didn't debut at lower prices. We may have to wait a while before SSD makers pass the savings along to consumers."
Orome1 writes "DefenseCode researchers have uncovered a remote root access vulnerability in the default installation of Linksys routers. They contacted Cisco and shared a detailed vulnerability description along with the PoC exploit for the vulnerability. Cisco claimed that the vulnerability was already fixed in the latest firmware release, which turned out to be incorrect. The latest Linksys firmware (4.30.14) and all previous versions are still vulnerable."
zacharye writes "The Sunday evening Wall Street Journal article claiming that Apple had cut its iPhone 5 display orders drastically for the March quarter made quite a splash. The way WSJ wrote its piece seemed to support the original Nikkei claim about Apple cutting its iPhone 5 display orders in half from the originally planned order of 65 million units. This would be a massive adjustment. But Apple uses the same new display type for both iPhone 5 and the latest iPod touch. Neither WSJ nor Nikkei addressed this, however — both seemed to be referring to just iPhone 5 displays. The math just doesn't add up."
CowboyRobot writes "InformationWeek has collected what it considers to be the five dumbest ideas presented at this year's CES. The list includes: 'The HapiFork is an electronic fork that tracks how many mouthfuls of food you consume during a given meal, how many seconds pass between bites, and how long the meal took to complete.' Also on the list is the iPotty, which is about what you would guess from the name. And for balance, the list of the seven standout technologies includes 3M's 84-inch touchscreen display and Parrot's $300 'AR Drone 2.0, a gravity-defying spectacle that puts yesteryear's remote-control helicopters to shame with its ability to dive, spin and whirl through the air.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "Gregg Laskoski reports in U.S. News and World Report that virtually all of the retail gasoline price volatility that Americans experienced this past year was connected to significant problems at refineries. It was those refineries' vulnerability that subjected U.S. consumers to the year's highest average price ever, $3.63 per gallon. February delivered the BP refinery fire in Cherry Point, Washington that led to gasoline price spikes all along the Pacific coast, refinery problems in the Great Lakes region pushed Chicago gas prices to an all-time high of $4.56 per gallon, and over the summer, west coast refineries incurred outages, and California saw record highs in most markets, with Los Angeles gasoline's average price peaking at $4.72/gallon in October. Finally after Reuters reported that some 7,700 gallons of fuel spilled from Phillips 66's Bayway refinery in Linden, NJ, after Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey environmental protection officials said they were not made aware of a major spill at the Bayway plant, and the refinery failed to respond to inquiries from Reuters reporters. 'Too many times, history has shown us, the Phillips 66 response or lack thereof characterizes the standard practice of the oil industry. Refineries often fail or are slow to communicate problems that create significant disruptions to fuel supplies and spikes in retail gasoline prices. More often than not, scant information is provided reluctantly, if at all,' writes Laskoski. 'When such things occur is silence from refineries acceptable? Or does our government and the electorate who put them there have a right to know what's really going on?'"
An anonymous reader writes "Many cloud systems are available on the market like: dropbox, google, sugar sync, or your local internet provider, that offer some free gigabytes of storage. Is there anything out there which can combine the storage into one usable folder (preferably linux mountable) and encrypt the data stored in the cloud? The basic idea would be to create one file per cloud used as a block device. Then combine all of them using a software raid (redundancy etc) with cryptFS on top. Have you heard of anything which can do that or what can be used to build upon?"
DeviceGuru writes "A handful of innovative high-tech startups have recently emerged to create a new market: remote telepresence robots. With one of these robotic Avatars, you can wander around in the remote environment, chatting with coworkers and managers, attending meetings, and solving problems encountered through those interactions. InformationWeek's Telepresence Robot Smackdown compares five such bots — the MantaroBot TeleMe, VGo Communications VGo, Anybots QB, Suitable Technologies Beam, and Revolve Robotics Kubi — and includes short videos demonstrating each. As the article concludes, 'bear in mind that what we're witnessing here is the emergence of a new industry; and if Moore's Law applies here as it does to so many IT spheres, it won't be long before these gadgets are inexpensive, commonplace, and far more flexible and intelligent."
An anonymous reader writes "With CES all wrapped up, an article at CNET discusses a definite trend in the laptops on display from various manufacturers this year: touchscreens. Intel and Microsoft are leading the way, and attempting to grab the industry's reins as well: '... just to make sure the touch message was crystal clear, Intel issued an edict to PC partners during its CES keynote: all next-generation ultrabooks based on its "Haswell" chip must be touch.' With tablets and detachable/convertible computers coming into the mainstream, it seems the manufacturers have something to gain by condensing their production options. The article says, 'What does that mean to consumers? Your next laptop will likely be touch, whether you like it or not.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A group of geothermal power engineers have created three reservoirs from a single well in a place where none existed previously. This is a breakthrough for Enhanced Geothermal System technology — people who need power often can't choose a spot where there happens to be a geothermal reservoir, and EGS could allow us to create them where needed. 'Last fall, engineers pumped cold water into the ground, cracking open fissures in the deep rock, a process known as hydroshearing. They then sealed one reservoir from the other using a new technology. They injected ground-up recycled plastic bottles, which plugged up the cracks in one reservoir while millions of gallons of cold water were being pumped in to create another. Then the plastic diffused, leaving behind three reservoirs. ... The U.S. Department of Energy, which is covering half the $43.8 million cost of the Newberry project, says if the initial indications hold up, the Newberry project would mark the first time in the world that multiple geothermal reservoirs have been created on purpose from a single well in a new area.'"
Coldeagle writes "It looks as if CNET's parent company, CBS, has laid down the law: 'Just one day after CNet named the Dish "Hopper," a new TV recording system that's drawing rave reviews in the tech press, to an awards shortlist, the site's parent company stepped in and nixed the accolade. Because of a legal battle between CBS and Dish over the Hopper's ad-skipping technology, CBS laid down a ban: CNet won't be allowed to even review Dish products, much less give them awards.' Got to love modern day freedom of the press!"
Nerval's Lobster writes "The U.S. Department of Science has presented a difficult challenge to vendors: deliver a supercomputer with roughly 10 to 30 petaflops of performance, yet filled with energy-efficient multi-core architecture. The draft copy (.DOC) of the DOE's requirements provide for two systems: 'Trinity,' which will offer computing resources to the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), during the 2016-2020 timeframe; and NERSC-8, the replacement for the current NERSC-6 'Hopper' supercomputer first deployed in 2010 for the DOE facilities. Hopper debuted at number five in the list of Top500 supercomputers, and can crunch numbers at the petaflop level. The DOE wants a machine with performance at between 10 to 30 times Hopper's capabilities, with the ability to support one compute job that could take up over half of the available compute resources at any one time."