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Input Devices

Stephen Hawking's New Speech System Is Free and Open-source 56

Posted by Soulskill
from the free-speech dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Stephen Hawking and Intel have worked together for the past several years to build a new communication system for those suffering from diseases that severely impair motor function. The system is called ACAT (Assistive Context Aware Toolkit), and it will be free and open source. Hawking's previous system had been in use for over 20 years, so the technological upgrade is significant. His typing rate alone has doubled, and common tasks are up to 10 times faster. ACAT uses technology from SwiftKey, a cell phone keyboard enhancement.

"Over three million people around the world are affected by motor neuron disease and quadriplegia and because the system created for Hawking is based on open-source software, it could potentially be adapted to suit many of them. Different functions can be enabled by touch, eye blinks, eyebrow movements or other user inputs for communication. Hawking and Intel hope that because the system is open and free it will be adopted by researchers who will want to use it to develop new solutions for those with disabilities."
Education

Chromebooks Overtake iPads In US Education Market 193

Posted by timothy
from the consume-produce dept.
SmartAboutThings writes In Q3 2014, IDC notes that Google shipped 715,500 Chromebooks to U.S. schools while Apple shipped 702,000 iPads. Thus, Apple's iPad has lost its lead over Google's line of Chromebook laptops in the U.S. education market as Google shipped more devices to schools last quarter. While analysts say [registration required] that this advantage for Google's Chromebooks can be attributed to their low cost, the presence of a physical keyboard has also been seen as an important factor.
Intel

Intel Processor Could Be In Next-Gen Google Glass 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the behind-the-glass dept.
An anonymous reader points out this story that Intel could be in charge of creating the chips for the new Google Glass. Intel is expected to supply the chips for a new version of Google's Glass device in 2015, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources. The Intel processor will replace one from Texas Instruments, which is used in the current version of Glass, which is a device that allows people to view the Internet or take pictures while wearing it on their heads. Intel hasn't commented yet. The Wall Street Journal said that Intel plans to promote Glass to hospital networks and manufacturers. Google watched the web-connected eyewear in 2012, but it carried a hefty price and was regarded as something that only nerds would wear.
Microsoft

Forbes Revisits the Surface Pro 3, Which May Face LG Competition 101

Posted by timothy
from the plusses-minuses dept.
Forbes writer Marco Chiappetta revisits Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 half a year after its U.S. debut, and finds the tablet-laptop hybrid has held up pretty well, but suffers some dings worth knowing about before jumping at holiday sale prices, pointing out a number of scenarios where a full-fledged notebook, even if it’s roughly the same size, will be the better choice. I’ve found that the Surface Pro 3 is ideal for users that will likely fire the machine up when sitting at a desk or when in a conference room-type environment that has a table. The Surface Pro 3’s performance is plenty good for everyday computing and office applications, and the screen is top notch. Using the Surface Pro 3 as a notepad with its stylus is also very useful. In fact, over the course of the device’s life, Microsoft has issued a number of firmware, driver, and OS updates that have improved the overall responsiveness and usefulness of the Surface Pro 3. For those who want a laptop, though for actual laptop use, the Surface is an awkward fit. However, a thin, tablet-convertible, touchscreen laptop may appear soon from LG, as well.
Upgrades

Ask Slashdot: Making a 'Wife Friendly' Gaming PC? 720

Posted by timothy
from the or-any-spouse-reallly dept.
shadeshope writes Having just gotten married, I find that for some inexplicable reason my wife doesn't like my huge, noisy, 'ugly' gaming PC being in the living room. I have tried hiding it in a TV cabinet: still too noisy. I have placed it in another room and run HDMI and USB cables, but the propagation delay caused horrible tearing and lag when playing games. Have any other slashdotters encountered this problem? I don't want to buy a console (Steam sales let me game so cheaply), or mess with water cooling. Ideally I would just hide it in the attic, is there some wireless technology that would be fast enough for gaming use? I have become quite attached to 'behemoth.' I have been upgrading him for years and he is the centre of my digital life. I run plex home theatre, media centre, steam, iTunes and air server. Will I have to do my gaming in the spare room? Once I have sorted this small problem going to try and make a case for the efficacy of a projector to replace the television..... it takes up less space, motorized screen could be hidden when not in use, etc.
Math

New Analysis Pushes Back Possible Origin For Antikythera Mechanism 62

Posted by timothy
from the spin-the-dials-backwards dept.
We've mentioned several times over the years the Antikythera Mechanism, the astounding early analog computer recovered from a Greek shipwreck in shape good enough to allow modern recreations. The device has been attributed to different Greek mathemeticians and thinkers, such as Archimedes, Hipparchus, and Posidonius, but as reader puddingebola writes, "Current research suggests its origin may be much earlier, and its working based on Babylonian arithmetical methods rather than Greek Trigonometry, which did not exist at the time. Puddingebola excerpts from the NYT article: Writing this month in the journal Archive for History of Exact Sciences, Dr. Carman and Dr. Evans took a different tack. Starting with the ways the device's eclipse patterns fit Babylonian eclipse records, the two scientists used a process of elimination to reach a conclusion that the "epoch date," or starting point, of the Antikythera Mechanism's calendar was 50 years to a century earlier than had been generally believed.
Power

Shale: Good For Gas, Oil...and Nuclear Waste Disposal? 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the triple-threat dept.
Lasrick writes: Chris Neuzil is a senior scientist with the National Research Program of the U.S. Geological Survey. He thinks the qualities of shale make it the perfect rock in which to safely and permanently house high-level nuclear waste. Given the recent discovery that water is much more of an issue than originally thought for the tough rock at Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Utah, the unique qualities of shale, along with its ubiquitous presence in the U.S., could make shale rock a better choice for the 70,000 metric tons of commercial spent fuel currently sitting above ground at nuclear power facilities throughout the country. France, Switzerland, and Belgium are all considering repositories in shale, but it hasn't been studied much in the U.S. "Shale is the only rock type likely to house high-level nuclear waste in other countries that has never been seriously considered by the U.S. high-level waste program. The uncertain future of Yucca Mountain places plans for spent nuclear fuel in the United States at a crossroads. It is an opportunity to include shale in a truly comprehensive examination of disposal options."
Earth

Renewables Are Now Scotland's Biggest Energy Source 235

Posted by samzenpus
from the going-green dept.
AmiMoJo writes Government figures revealed that Scotland is now generating more power from "clean" technologies than nuclear, coal and gas. The combination of wind, solar and hydroelectric, along with less-publicized sources such as landfill gas and biomass, produced 10.3TWh in the first half of 2014. Over the same period, Scotland generated 7.8TWh from nuclear, 5.6TWh from coal and 1.4TWh from gas, according to figures supplied by National Grid. Renewable sources tend to fluctuate throughout the year, especially in Scotland where the weather is notoriously volatile, but in six-month chunks the country has consistently increased its renewable output.
Handhelds

Apple and Amazon Launch Black Friday Price War 43

Posted by timothy
from the you-can-win-the-race-to-the-bottom dept.
An anonymous reader writes Forbes magazine points out that tablet computers are receiving some of the biggest discounts for this year's day-after-Thanksgiving sales. "With slowing growth in the tablet market and an increasing array of choices, some of the strongest bargains will come in that sector," they report, noting that Target is giving away a $140 gift card with purcahses of an iPad Air 2 (and a $100 gift card with the iPad Mini or first-generation iPad Air). But Amazon has already launched a counter-strike, posting big discounts online on Thanksgiving day for their entire line of Kindles, including a black-and-white Kindle for just $49, and their 6-inch color/high-definition HD6 for just $79.
United Kingdom

Edsac Goes Live, At UK's National Museum of Computing 37

Posted by timothy
from the sometimes-things-get-lost-in-the-mail dept.
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Britain's National Museum of Computing has flipped the switch on the venerable Edsac computer. The arduous task of reconstructing the 1949 behemoth, fraught with little in terms of the original hardware or documentation, was brought to fruition on Wednesday. As project lead Andrew Herbert is quoted as saying, "We face the same challenges as those remarkable pioneers who succeeded in building a machine that transformed computing." A remarkably shaky video of the event, replete with excellent views of the floor at the videographer's feet, can be found here."
Data Storage

Consortium Roadmap Shows 100TB Hard Drives Possible By 2025 215

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-the-future dept.
Lucas123 writes An industry consortium made up by leading hard disk drive manufacturers shows they expect the areal density of platters to reach 10 terabits per square inch by 2025, which is more than 10 times what it is today. At that density, hard disk drives could conceivably hold up to 100TB of data. Key to achieving greater bit density is Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) and Bit Patterned Media Recording (BPMR). While both HAMR and BPMR will increase density, the combination of both technologies in 2021 will drive it to the 10Tbpsi level, according to the Advanced Storage Technology Consortium (ASTC).
Power

Jackie Chan Discs Help Boost Solar Panel Efficiency 194

Posted by samzenpus
from the super-solar-cop dept.
wbr1 writes Apparently the pit pattern on a blu-ray disk is great at helping trap photons, rather than reflecting them. Applying this pattern to the glass in a solar panel can boost efficiency by 22%. Researchers at Northwestern tested this system with Jackie Chan discs. From the article: "To increase the efficiency of a solar panel by 22%, the researchers at Northwestern bought a copy of Police Story 3: Supercop on Blu-ray; removed the top plastic layer, exposing the recording medium beneath; cast a mold of the quasi-random pattern; and then used the mold to create a photovoltaic cell with the same pattern....The end result is a solar panel that has a quantum efficiency of around 40% — up about 22% from the non-patterned solar panel."
Power

WaveNET – the Floating, Flexible Wave Energy Generator 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the making-bernoulli-work-for-us dept.
Zothecula writes: Scotland's Albatern is putting a new, modular spin on renewable energy generation. WaveNET is a scalable array of floating "Squid" generator units that harvest wave energy as their buoyant arms rise and fall with the motion of the waves. Each Squid can link up to as many as three others, effectively creating a large, floating grid that's flexible in every direction. The bigger this grid gets, the more efficient it becomes at harvesting energy, and the more different wave movements it can extract energy from. Albatern's 10-year target is to have 1.25 kilometer-long floating energy farms pumping out as much as 100 megawatts by 2024.
Power

Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places? 516

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-not,-the-power-company-just-hates-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I live in a relatively large college town that's within easy driving distance of several major metropolitan centers. In many ways, the infrastructure around here is top-notch. The major exception is the electrical grid. Lightning storm? Power outage. Heavy winds? Power outage. Lots of rain? Power outage. Some areas around town are immune to this — like around the hospital, for obvious reasons. But others seem to lose power at the drop of hat. Why is this? If it were a tiny village or in the middle of nowhere, it would make sense to me. What problems do the utility companies face that they can't keep service steady? Do you deal with a lot of outages where you live? I'm not sure if it's just an investment issue or a technological one. It hasn't gotten better in the decade I've lived here, and I can imagine it will only get worse as the infrastructure ages.
Data Storage

Is LTO Tape On Its Way Out? 284

Posted by Soulskill
from the IT-no-longer-caught-on-tape dept.
storagedude writes: With LTO media sales down by 50% in the last six years, is the end near for tape? With such a large installed base, it may not be imminent, but the time is coming when vendors will find it increasingly difficult to justify continued investment in tape technology, writes Henry Newman at Enterprise Storage Forum.

"If multiple vendors invest in a technology, it has a good chance of winning over the long haul," writes Newman, a long-time proponent of tape technology. "If multiple vendors have a technology they're not investing in, it will eventually lose over time. Of course, over time market requirements can change. It is these interactions that I fear that are playing out in the tape market."

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