Robotics

Killer Robots In Plato's Cave 91

Posted by samzenpus
from the what's-in-a-name? dept.
Lasrick writes Mark Gubrud writes about the fuzzy definitions used to differentiate autonomous lethal weapons from those classified as semi-autonomous: "After all, if the only criterion is that a human nominates the target, then even The Terminator...might qualify as semi-autonomous." Gubrud wants a ban against autonomous hunter-killer weapons like the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile and the canceled Low-Cost Autonomous Attack System, and vague definitions surrounding autonomous and semi-autonomous weapons that will allow weapons that should be classified as autonomous but aren't. Existing definitions draw a "distinction without a difference" and "will not hold against the advance of technology." Gubrud prefers a definition that reduces autonomy to a simple operational fact, an approach he calls "autonomy without mystery." In the end, Gubrud writes, "Where one draws the line is less important than that it is drawn somewhere. If the international community can agree on this, then the remaining details become a matter of common interest and old-fashioned horse trading."
Japan

Transforming Robot Gets Stuck In Fukushima Nuclear Reactor 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the bend-me-shape-me dept.
An anonymous reader writes with more bad news for the people still dealing with the Fukushima nuclear accident. "The ability to change shape hasn't saved a robot probe from getting stuck inside a crippled Japanese nuclear reactor. Tokyo Electric Power will likely leave the probe inside the reactor housing at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex north of Tokyo after it stopped moving. On Friday, the utility sent a robot for the first time into the primary containment vessel (PCV) of reactor No. 1 at the plant, which was heavily damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan. 'The robot got stuck at a point two-thirds of its way inside the PCV and we are investigating the cause,' a Tokyo Electric spokesman said via email. The machine became stuck on Friday after traveling to 14 of 18 planned checkpoints."
China

Report: Chinese Government Plans To Put 3D Printers In All Elementary Schools 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the class-printer dept.
InfiniteZero writes The Chinese government has a new plan to install a 3D printer in each of its approximately 400,000 elementary schools over the next two years. Education is probably one of the areas that will benefit the most from 3D printers in the long run. The problem though is getting the machines into the schools in the first place. With prices generally ranging from $400 to $3,000 for typical desktop 3D printers, they are not cheap, and with budgets within many school districts running dry, both in the United States and overseas, the unfortunate fact is that many schools simply can’t afford them, not to mention the materials and time it takes to train teachers to use them.
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: Best Medium For Storing Data To Survive a Fire (or Other Disaster) 445

Posted by samzenpus
from the burning-down-the-house dept.
First time accepted submitter aka_bigred writes Every year as I file my taxes, I replicate my most important financial data (a couple GB of data) to store an offline copy in my fire-rated home safe. This gets me thinking about what the most reliable data media would be to keep in my fire-rated home safe.

CDs/DVDs/tapes could easily melt or warp rendering them useless, so I'm very hesitant to use them. I've seen more exotic solutions that let you print your digital data to paper an optically re-import it later should you ever need it, but it seems overly cumbersome and error prone should it be damaged or fire scorched. That leaves my best options being either a classic magnetic platter drive, or some sort of solid state storage, like SD cards, USB flash drives, or a small SSD. The problem is, I can't decide which would survive better if ever exposed to extreme temperatures, or water damage should my house burn down.

Most people would just suggest to store it in "the cloud", but I'm naturally averse to doing so because that means someone else is responsible for my data and I could lose it to hackers, the entity going out of business, etc. Once it leaves my home, I no longer fully control it, which is unacceptable. My thought being "they can't hack/steal what they can't physically access." What medium do other Slashdot users use to store their most important data (under say 5GB worth) in an at-home safe to protect it from fire?
Power

Google Battles For Better Batteries 44

Posted by Soulskill
from the using-drones-to-hunt-energizer-bunnies dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Wall Street Journal reports that Google's X research lab has joined the quest for better batteries. The company has at least 20 projects that depend on batteries, from Google Glass to self-driving cars and drones. Thus, it makes sense for them to try developing new battery technology. "At Google, Dr. Bhardwaj's group is trying to advance current lithium-ion technology and the cutting-edge solid-state batteries for consumer devices. ... In a February presentation to an industry conference, Dr. Bhardwaj described how solid-state, thin-film batteries could be used in smartphones and other mobile devices that are thinner, bendable, wearable and even implantable in the human body. ... For the contact lens, the technology is safer because it doesn't use flammable electrolyte liquid, Dr. Bhardwaj's presentation explained."
Security

LG Split Screen Software Compromises System Security 187

Posted by Soulskill
from the low-grade dept.
jones_supa writes: The Korean electronics company LG ships a split screen tool with their ultra wide displays. It allows users to slice the Windows desktop into multiple segments. However, installing the software seriously compromises security of the particular workstation. The developers required administrator access for the software, but apparently they hacked their way out. The installer silently disables User Account Control, and enables a policy to start all applications as Administrator. In the article there is also a video presentation of the setup procedure. It is safe to say that no one should be running this software in its current form.
Input Devices

Finding an Optimal Keyboard Layout For Swype 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the designed-for-2015 dept.
New submitter Analog24 writes: The QWERTY keyboard was not designed with modern touchscreen usage in mind, especially when it comes to swype texting. A recent study attempted to optimize the standard keyboard layout to minimize the number of swype errors. The result was a new layout that reduces the rate of swipe interpretation mistakes by 50.1% compared to the QWERTY keyboard.
Data Storage

220TB Tapes Show Tape Storage Still Has a Long Future 229

Posted by Soulskill
from the 11.73-libraries-of-congress-per-pony dept.
alphadogg writes: IBM and Fujifilm have figured out how to fit 220TB of data on a standard-size tape that fits in your hand, flexing the technology's strengths as a long-term storage medium. The prototype Fujifilm tape and accompanying drive technology from IBM labs packs 88 times as much data onto a tape as industry-standard LTO-6 systems using the same size cartridge, IBM says. LTO6 tape can hold 2.5TB, uncompressed, on a cartridge about 4 by 4 inches across and 2 centimeters thick. The new technologies won't come out in products for several years.
Bug

Google Lollipop Bricking Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 Devices 179

Posted by timothy
from the upgrade-is-not-always-the-right-word dept.
First time accepted submitter Zape (303550) writes The Lollipop update has turned sour for me and several other Nexus 7, Gen 2 (and Nexus 5) owners. It seems that I'm not alone in having my tablet boot to the Google Logo since a couple of days after updating to Android 5.0.2. Now Nexus 5 owners are reporting a reboot loop in Android 5.1. My device, like many others, is a couple of months out of warranty, but worked great until the latest OTA update from Google. They branded it, and they updated it, but Google claims it is between the buyers and ASUS, the manufacturer.
Power

The Myth of Going Off the Power Grid 281

Posted by Soulskill
from the tell-that-to-my-hamster-wheel-colony dept.
Lasrick writes: Dawn Stover uses Elon Musk's announcement that Tesla will soon be unveiling plans for a battery that could power your home as a starting point to explore the idea that "going off the grid" is going to solve climate change. "The kind of in-house energy storage he is proposing could help make renewables a bigger part of the global supply. But headlines announcing that a Tesla battery 'could take your home off the grid' spread misconceptions about what it takes to be self-sufficient — and stop global warming." Stover worries that shifting responsibility for solutions to climate change from governments to individuals creates an 'every-man-for-himself' culture that actually works against energy solutions and does little to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, "smart grid" technology would be much more efficient: "With a smarter grid, excess electricity generated by solar panels and wind turbines could be distributed to a network of on-the-grid home and car batteries. Some utilities have also experimented with using home water heaters as an economical substitute for batteries."
Hardware Hacking

Another 'Draw Your Own Circuits' System at SXSW (Video) 27

Posted by Roblimo
from the is-this-an-easy-way-to-connect-the-'rear'-speakers-in-your-home-theater-system? dept.
While Timothy Lord was at SXSW, he chatted with Yuki Nishida of AgIC and learned about the company's conductive ink products. But AgIC wasn't the only company at SXSW showing off conductive ink. You could also meet the Electroninks people and see their Circuit Scribe product, which had a Kickstarter campaign a while back that raised $574,425.

This kind of product seems to be attractive to the kind of people who fund Kickstarter projects, and this bunch seems to have good resumes and some interesting, well thought-out products. There is apparently room in the 'draw circuits and learn electrical basics' market for both AgIC and Electroninks -- and probably for another dozen competitors, too.
Intel

US Blocks Intel From Selling Xeon Chips To Chinese Supercomputer Projects 229

Posted by Soulskill
from the demands-recall-of-intel-inside-stickers-too dept.
itwbennett writes: U.S. government agencies have stopped Intel from selling microprocessors for China's supercomputers, apparently reflecting concern about their use in nuclear tests. In February, four supercomputing institutions in China were placed on a U.S. government list that effectively bans them from receiving certain U.S. exports. The institutions were involved in building Tianhe-2 and Tianhe-1A, both of which have allegedly been used for 'nuclear explosive activities,' according to a notice (PDF) posted by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Intel has been selling its Xeon chips to Chinese supercomputers for years, so the ban represents a blow to its business.
Intel

Intel's Core M Performance Is Erratic Between Devices 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the bring-back-the-turbo-button dept.
An anonymous reader writes: AnandTech noticed some odd performance disparities with Intel's Core M CPU, a chip designed to bring high-powered processing to thin, fan-less devices. After investigating, they found that how OEMs build their laptops and tablets has a far greater effect on Core M performance than it does for other chips. "When an OEM designs a device for Core M, or any SoC for that matter, they have to consider construction and industrial design as well as overriding performance. ... This, broadly speaking, gives the OEM control over several components that are out of the hands of the processor designers. Screen size, thickness, industrial design, and skin temperature all have their limits, and adjusting those knobs opens the door to slower or faster Core M units, depending on what the company decides to target.

In the Core M units that we have tested at AnandTech so far this year, we have seen a variety of implementations with and without fans and in a variety of form factors. But the critical point of all of this comes down to how the OEM defines the SoC/skin temperature limitations of the device, and this ends up being why the low-end Core M-5Y10 can beat the high-end Core M-5Y71, and is a poignant part of our tests. Simply put, if the system with 5Y10 has a higher SoC/skin temperature, it can stay in its turbo mode for longer and can end up outperforming a 5Y71, leading to some of the unusual results we've seen so far."
Google

Has Google Indexed Your Backup Drive? 121

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-out-there dept.
itwbennett writes Depending on how you've configured the device, your backup drive may have been indexed by Google, making some seriously personal information freely available online to anyone who knows what they're looking for. Using a few simple Google searches, CSO's Steve Ragan discovered thousands of personal records and documents online, including sales receipts with credit card information and tax documents with social security numbers. In all cases, the files were exposed because someone used a misconfigured device acting as a personal cloud, or FTP (File Transfer Protocol) was enabled on their router.
Displays

Virtual Desktop Makes Windows OS Oculus Rift-Capable 47

Posted by timothy
from the with-a-little-help dept.
An anonymous reader writes Virtual Desktop is a free program that makes the Windows operating system compatible with the Oculus Rift VR headset. To the surprise of some, plugging the Oculus Rift into a computer doesn't result in a native view of the OS, meaning that users have to put on and take off the headset as they move from one VR-specific app to the next. If you want to use typical Windows programs—like Photoshop, Firefox, or Microsoft Office—no dice! That's where Virtual Desktop comes in, enabling the entire Windows desktop, and any application that can run on it, to be seen through the Oculus Rift. It also works as a bridge between VR-specific applications, allowing you to move from one to the next without ever taking off the headset. The latest version released today includes voice commands for launching VR games, global monitor mirroring, performance improvements, and is built against the latest Oculus Rift SDK.