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Education

How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms 359

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-outdated-is-a-strong-word dept.
theodp (442580) writes Electronics almost universally become cheaper over time, but with essentially a monopoly on graphing calculator usage in classrooms, Texas Instruments still manages to command a premium for its TI-84 Plus. Texas Instruments released the TI-84 Plus graphing calculator in 2004. Ten years later, the base model still has 480 kilobytes of ROM and 24 kilobytes of RAM, its black-and-white screen remains 96×64 pixels, and the MSRP is still $150. "Free graphing calculator apps are available," notes Matt McFarland. "But smartphones can't be used on standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT. Schools are understandably reluctant to let them be used in classrooms, where students may opt to tune out in class and instead text friends or play games. So for now, overpriced hardware and all, the TI-84 family of calculators remains on top and unlikely to go anywhere." So, to paraphrase Prof. Norm Matloff, is it stupid to buy expensive TI-8x milk when the R cow is free?
Robotics

Ireland To Host Robotic Sailing Championships 14

Posted by samzenpus
from the scrub-the-robot-deck dept.
First time accepted submitter dertynan writes The WRSC people are out to make sailors redundant. The World Robotic Sailing Championships (and International Conference) is in Galway, Ireland next week. Around eleven teams are participating in this autonomous sailing event, across a number of courses, over four days.
Input Devices

Japanese Firm Showcases "Touchable" 3-D Technology 41

Posted by samzenpus
from the feel-it-and-play-it dept.
skade88 notes an interesting new piece of tactile feedback technology unveiled in Japan. Officials of Miraisens, a high-tech firm based outside Tokyo, said the technology, which can be used to improve the gaming experience or allow someone to physically shape objects that exist only on a computer, will soon be available for purchase. "Touching is an important part of human communication, but until now virtual reality has lacked it," Chief Executive Natsuo Koda said. "This technology will give you a sense that you can touch objects in the 3-D world," said Koda, a former virtual reality researcher for Sony Corp. It works by fooling the brain, blending what the eye sees with different patterns of vibration created by a small fingertip device, said Norio Nakamura, the inventor of so-called 3D-Haptics Technology and chief technical officer at the firm. In one demonstration of a prototype head-mounted display, the company showed how the wearer can feel resistance by pushing virtual buttons.
Transportation

Reno Selected For Tesla Motors Battery Factory 157

Posted by samzenpus
from the start-it-up dept.
First time accepted submitter Mikenan writes Tesla has finally decided that it will build its battery "gigafactory" in Nevada, sources say. "That's a go, but they are still negotiating the specifics of the contract," a source within the Nevada's governor's office told CNBC Wednesday afternoon. The source noted that it could be a week before the deal is official. Nevada is planning a press conference Thursday in Carson City.
Cellphones

Samsung Launches Virtual Reality Headset For Galaxy Note 4 24

Posted by samzenpus
from the put-it-on-your-head dept.
An anonymous reader writes Samsung has launched a virtual reality headset called Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition. It uses the new Galaxy Note 4 for a screen and technology from Oculus VR. The headset comes with four visual settings that simulate experiences such as sitting in a theater or being on stage. Despite partnering with Oculus, the Gear VR won't run Oculus apps, but Samsung says porting titles over shouldn't be too hard. From the article: "This is Oculus' first consumer product and, bizarrely, it's on a Samsung device. Oculus VR CTO John Carmack personally led the mobile software development team at Oculus, and the software interface is all built in collaboration with Samsung. It's basic: Point a reticle in the middle of the screen at what you want to select and tap the touchpad to select it. The options are sparse and base level, and the only content management that exists right now is a store of sorts. It looks like the Google Play store to an extent, except it's floating in space.
Biotech

CPU's Heat Output to Amplify DNA Could Make Drastically Cheaper Tests 27

Posted by timothy
from the only-waste-heat-is-wasted dept.
MTorrice (2611475) writes "Researchers have harnessed that heat from a computer CPU to run the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify DNA in a blood sample. The team developed software that cycles the temperature of the CPU to drive PCR's three distinct steps.The method allowed them to detect miniscule amounts of DNA from a pathogenic parasite that causes Chagas disease. They hope their technique will lead to low-cost diagnostic tests in developing countries." (Always good to put waste heat to a practical purpose.)
Robotics

Robot Dramas: Autonomous Machines In the Limelight On Stage and In Society 31

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-only-asimov-was-around-to-see-it dept.
aarondubrow writes: We're entering an era where we'll increasingly coexist with robots and other intelligent machines — some of which may look like us. Not only is there a growing number of industrial robots (about 1.5 million today), there are 10 million Roombas in our homes, porter-bots in our hospitals and hotels, social robots in our nursing homes and even robot spectators at baseball games in Japan, tele-operated by remote fans.

Theater is not an arena that we typically associate with robots, however, artists, musicians and producers are often early adopters and innovative users of emerging technologies. In fact, robots got their name from the 1920 play, R.U.R., by the Czech playwright, Karel Capek. An article in the Huffington Post describes a panel discussion at the National Academy of Science in June that featured the producers of three recent plays that starred robots. The plays highlight our robot anxieties, while offering new visions for human-robot interactions in the future.
Power

Finland's Nuclear Plant Start Delayed Again 130

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-day dept.
mdsolar writes with news about further delays to Finland's Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor. "Areva-Siemens, the consortium building Finland's biggest nuclear reactor, said on Monday the start date of the much delayed project will be pushed back to late 2018 — almost a decade later than originally planned. Areva-Siemens blamed disagreements with its client Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) over the plant's automation system, the latest blow for a project that has been hit by repeated delays, soaring costs and disputes. "The delays are because the planning of the plant has taken needlessly long," Jouni Silvennoinen, TVO's project head, told Reuters on Monday. "We haven't examined the supplier's detailed schedules yet, but our preliminary view is that we could do better (than 2018)."
Operating Systems

Ask Slashdot: Linux-Friendly Desktop x86 Motherboard Manufacturers? 294

Posted by Soulskill
from the roll-your-own dept.
storkus writes: The release of Haswell-E and a price drop on Devil's Canyon has made me itch for a PC upgrade. However, looking around I discovered a pair of horror stories on Phoronix about the difficulties of using Linux on a multitude of motherboards. My question: if MSI, Gigabyte, Asus (and by extension Asrock) are out, who's left and are they any good? I'd like to build a (probably dual-boot, but don't know for sure) gaming and 'other' high-end machine with one of the above chips, so we're talking Z97 or X99; however, these stories seem to point to the problems being Windows-isms in the BIOS/UEFI structures rather than actual hardware incompatibility, combined with a lousy attitude (despite the Steam Linux distro being under development).
Power

Power Grids: The Huge Battery Market You Never Knew Existed 245

Posted by samzenpus
from the store-it-up dept.
ashshy writes Unlike the obvious battery needs for smartphones or electric cars, many consumers are unaware of the exploding need for enormous battery banks as modern power grids are bringing a whole new set of requirements. From the article: "'Our electricity grid was built a certain way, and that way is to have on-demand production,' Argonne National Laboratory battery researcher Jeff Chamberlain explained. 'So as I flip my light switch on at home, there's some little knob somewhere that turns the power up. There is no buffer. It's a very interesting production cycle compared to other consumer goods. It was built a certain way, and the grid is currently changing in two different ways. One is, first our demand is increasing. But another is, around the world human beings are trying to get off fossil fuels and that means using solar and wind. Well, we cannot turn up the sun or wind, or turn down the sun or wind according to our energy needs. So the more those technologies penetrate the grid, the more you need energy storage. You need a buffer. And that is a very difficult challenge that's similar to transportation because it's cost-driven,' Chamberlain said. 'But it's also different from transportation because we're not limited by volume or mass like we are in vehicles. We're working on energy storage systems that are stationary.'"
United States

Feds Want Nuclear Waste Train, But Don't Know Where It Would Go 258

Posted by samzenpus
from the put-that-anywhere dept.
mdsolar writes with news of a plan to move radioactive waste from nuclear plants. The U.S. government is looking for trains to haul radioactive waste from nuclear power plants to disposal sites. Too bad those trains have nowhere to go. Putting the cart before the horse, the U.S. Department of Energy recently asked companies for ideas on how the government should get the rail cars needed to haul 150-ton casks filled with used, radioactive nuclear fuel. They won't be moving anytime soon. The latest government plans call for having an interim test storage site in 2021 and a long-term geologic depository in 2048. No one knows where those sites will be, but the Obama administration is already thinking about contracts to develop, test and certify the necessary rail equipment.
Hardware Hacking

Update: Raspberry Pi-Compatible Development Board Cancelled 165

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-so-fast dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Anyone who might have been interested in the miniature Raspberry Pi compatible board mentioned here a month ago should know the board has been cancelled due to problems sourcing the Broadcom SoC. Given the less than welcoming response from the rpi community to the board's release, there is speculation as to why Hardkernel is having trouble buying the chip.
The Media

Anand Lal Shimpi Retires From AnandTech 152

Posted by Soulskill
from the much-respect dept.
An anonymous reader writes: If you've built a PC in the past 17.5 years, chances are you read some hardware reviews on AnandTech at some point. The site's creator, Anand Lal Shimpi, has announced that he is retiring from the tech writing business. He said, "AnandTech started as a site that primarily reviewed motherboards, then we added CPUs, video cards, cases, notebooks, Macs, smartphones, tablets and anything else that mattered. The site today is just as strong in coverage of new mobile devices as it is in our traditional PC component coverage ... To the millions of readers who have visited and supported me and the site over the past 17+ years, I owe you my deepest gratitude. You all enabled me to spend over half of my life learning more than I ever could have in any other position. The education I've received doing this job and the ability to serve you all with it is the most amazing gift anyone could ever ask for. You enabled me to get the education of a lifetime and I will never be able to repay you for that. Thank you."
Wireless Networking

Wi-Fi Router Attack Only Requires a Single PIN Guess 84

Posted by Soulskill
from the one-two-three-four dept.
An anonymous reader writes: New research shows that wireless routers are still quite vulnerable to attack if they don't use a good implementation of Wi-Fi Protected Setup. Bad implementations do a poor job of randomizing the key used to authenticate hardware PINs. Because of this, the new attack only requires a single guess at the hardware PIN to collect data necessary to break it. After a few hours to process the data, an attacker can access the router's WPS functionality. Two major router manufacturers are affected: Broadcom, and a manufacturer to be named once they get around to fixing it. "Because many router manufacturers use the reference software implementation as the basis for their customized router software, the problems affected the final products, Bongard said. Broadcom's reference implementation had poor randomization, while the second vendor used a special seed, or nonce, of zero, essentially eliminating any randomness."
Android

MIPS Tempts Hackers With Raspbery Pi-like Dev Board 88

Posted by timothy
from the do-what-thou-will dept.
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "In a bid to harness the energy and enthusiasm swirling around today's open, hackable single board computers, Imagination Technologies, licensor of the MIPS ISA, has unveiled the Creator C120 development board, the ISA's counter to ARM's popular Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black SBCs. The MIPS dev board is based on a 1.2GHz dual-core MIPS32 system-on-chip and has 1GB RAM and 8GB flash, and there's also an SD card slot for expansion. Ports include video, audio, Ethernet, both WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, and a bunch more. OS images are already available for Debian 7, Gentoo, Yocto, and Arch Linux, and Android v4.4 is expected to be available soon. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the board is that there's no pricing listed yet, because the company is starting out by giving the boards away free to developers who submit the most interesting projects."
Hardware

Dell's New Alienware Case Goes to Extremes To Prevent Overheating 149

Posted by timothy
from the pvc-and-tape-would-cost-less dept.
MojoKid writes Dell's enthusiast Alienware brand has always stood out for its unique, other-worldly looks (sometimes good, sometimes, not so good) and there's such a thing as taking things to the next level, this might be it. However, there's more to this refresh than just shock value. It's actually a futuristic aesthetic with a rather purposeful design behind it. Today Alienware gave a sneak peek at their completely redesigned Alienware Area 51 desktop system. This refreshed system is unlike any previous Alienware rig you've seen. With a trapezoidal shape to its chassis, Dell-Alienware says you can place the Area-51 against a wall and not have to worry about thermals getting out of the control. That's because there's a controlled gap and a sharp angle to the chassis that ensures only a small part of the system actually rests near the wall, leaving extra room for hot air to escape up and away. This design also offers users easy access to rear IO ports. Despite the unique design, there's plenty of room for high end components inside. The retooled chassis can swallow up to three 300W double-wide full-length graphics cards. It also brings to the table Intel's latest and greatest Haswell-E in six-core or eight-core options, liquid cooled and nestled into Intel's X99 chipset. No word from Dell on the price but the new Area-51 is slated to start shipping in October.
Printer

Robot Printer Brings Documents To Your Desk 64

Posted by Soulskill
from the surprised-this-is-a-thing-but-also-surprised-it-wasn't-a-thing-already dept.
mrspoonsi sends this news from the BBC: Fuji Xerox has developed a new robotic printer that can move around a lounge or office to bring documents to the person who printed them. The printer is designed to be used primarily in public places as a way to keep sensitive documents secure. Sensors on the machine prevent it from bumping into people on the way. However, some analysts argued that the idea was not cost effective when compared with other secure printing methods. Fuji Xerox — a joint venture between the two firms — has been testing the printer this month at a business lounge in Tokyo. Each desk in the lounge is given a unique web address from which to print. Users access the address and upload documents to be printed. Once the printer receives the job, it moves to the intended recipient who then has to display a smart card to activate printing.
Intel

Intel's Haswell-E Desktop CPU Debuts With Eight Cores, DDR4 Memory 181

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
crookedvulture writes: Intel has updated its high-end desktop platform with a new CPU-and-chipset combo. The Haswell-E processor has up to eight cores, 20MB of cache, and 40 lanes of PCI Express 3.0. It also sports a quad-channel memory controller primed for next-gen DDR4 modules. The companion X99 chipset adds a boatload of I/O, including 10 SATA ports, native USB 3.0 support, and provisions for M.2 and SATA Express storage devices. Thanks to the extra CPU cores, performance is much improved in multithreaded applications. Legacy comparisons, which include dozens of CPUs dating back to 2011, provide some interesting context for just how fast the new Core i7-5960X really is. Intel had to dial back the chip's clock speeds to accommodate the extra cores, though, and that concession can translate to slower gaming performance than Haswell CPUs with fewer, faster cores. Haswell-E looks like a clear win for applications that can exploit its prodigious CPU horsepower and I/O bandwidth, but it's clearly not the best CPU for everything. Reviews also available from Hot Hardware, PC Perspective, AnandTech, Tom's Hardware, and HardOCP.
Transportation

How the World's Fastest Electric Car Is Pushing Wireless Charging Tech 49

Posted by timothy
from the amping-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes With the first ever season of Formula E revving up in China next month, it's clear there's more to electric cars than Tesla. But the race cars hitting the track in Beijing don't have anything on the speed of Drayson Racing Technology's Lola B12 69/EV, which holds the record for the world's fastest lightweight electric car, and which uses the kind of power technologies that could one day have applications off the track too—like charging your phone wirelessly.
Intel

Research Shows RISC vs. CISC Doesn't Matter 161

Posted by timothy
from the just-a-couple-of-letters dept.
fsterman writes The power advantages brought by the RISC instruction sets used in Power and ARM chips is often pitted against the X86's efficiencies of scale. It's difficult to assess how much the difference between instruction sets matter because teasing out the theoretical efficiency of an ISA from the proficiency of a chip's design team, technical expertise of its manufacturer, and support for architecture-specific optimizations in compilers is nearly impossible . However, new research examining the performance of a variety of ARM, MIPS, and X86 processors gives weight to Intel's conclusion: the benefits of a given ISA to the power envelope of a chip are minute.

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