Government

Satellite Failure Behind GPS Timing Anomaly (itnews.com.au) 62

Bismillah writes: The recent 13-microsecond timing anomaly was caused by a satellite failure triggering a "software issue", the USAF 50th Space Wing has confirmed. Such an error is large enough to cause navigation errors of up to 4 km. Luckily, no issues with GPS guided munition were reported. Reader donaggie03 adds a link to the official explanation from Rick Hamilton, Executive Secretariat of the Civil Global Positioning System Service Interface Committee. From Hamilton's email: Further investigation revealed an issue in the Global Positioning System ground software which only affected the time on legacy L-band signals. This change occurred when the oldest vehicle, SVN 23, was removed from the constellation. While the core navigation systems were working normally, the coordinated universal time timing signal was off by 13 microseconds which exceeded the design specifications. The issue was resolved at 6:10 a.m. MST, however global users may have experienced GPS timing issues for several hours.
Education

Ask Slashdot: Learning Robotics Without Hardware? 78

An anonymous reader writes: I live in a Third World country with a more or less open Internet access. I'm thinking of learning robotics. I can access Github and other free software repositories, and I can read or watch online tutorials in English. My only problem is that we don't really have the money to buy robotics hardware. We can afford an Arduino or Raspberry Pi board but not the mechanical attachments. So is there any chance for me to learn robotics even if I don't have the hardware? Is it possible to program a robot using pure software simulation?
Power

Tesla Truck 'Quite Likely,' Says Elon Musk (bgr.com) 223

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Boy Genius Report: If you think Tesla's plan for world domination begins with the Model S and ends with the Model 3, you're sorely mistaken. While the Model 3 is of course the mass consumer vehicle Elon Musk is betting the company on, the Tesla CEO is certainly open to developing other types of vehicles in the future. During a recent interview in Hong Kong at the StartmeupHK Festival, Musk briefly touched on the potential for Tesla to build an electric truck. "I think it is quite likely we will do a truck in the future," Musk said. "I think it's sort of a logical thing for us to do in the future." While this might appear to be outside of Tesla's wheelhouse at first glance – the Model S is a luxury sedan, after all – the amount of money to be made in trucks is immense. To wit, the three best-selling vehicles in the U.S. in both 2014 and 2015 were all pickup trucks.
Power

Why the Calorie Is Broken (arstechnica.com) 108

New submitter ami.one writes: Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley explain how we are still using a century old method for measuring the calories in our food and the calories spent in different human activities. Essentially, there is a very big difference between burning stuff in a bomb calorie-meter and the extremely complex ways our body extracts energy from food. In fact, the exact process of digestion is yet to be understood sufficiently at a micro level, and years from being replicated to any close degree. Plus, the way our bodies spend calories for a given activity is hugely different from the way a car consumer gasoline and dependent on a number of parameters — some of which are not even known currently. Therefore, balancing calories in to Calories out is not so stupidly simple as it seems to the underweight layperson . Update: 01/28 22:09 GMT by T : Sorry for the duplicate post; it was a long night.
Facebook

Top Telcos Join Facebook Open Source Hardware Project (thestack.com) 18

An anonymous reader sends word about the latest telcos to join Facebook's Open Compute Project. The Stack reports: "A new wave of communications companies has joined Facebook's non-profit Open Compute Project (OCP), including AT&T, Verizon, Deutsche Telekom and South Korea's SK Telecom, as the movement seeks to share innovative hardware designs and drive down costs in the telecom arena. An OCP sub-section focused entirely on telecom requirements has been set up to look into servers and networking efficiency in the field. As one of the largest hardware buyers, telcos will provide a significant new market for the project, alongside its successful data center efforts.
Hardware Hacking

Collecting Private Flight Data On the World Economic Forum Attendees With RTL-SDR (qz.com) 88

An anonymous reader writes: Every year politicians and business men meet at the World Economic Forum in the small mountain town of Davos, Switzerland to discuss various topics and create business deals. This year Quartz, an online newspaper/magazine sent a journalist to the forum tasked with writing a unconventional story about the forum: he was asked to monitor the private helicopter traffic coming in and out of Davos from transponder broadcast of ADS-B data. Using an $20 RTL-SDR dongle, Raspberry Pi and ADS-B collinear antenna they monitored the flights over Davos. From the data they were able to determine the flight paths that many helicopters took, the types of helicopters used and the most popular flight times.
The Almighty Buck

High-Speed Firms Now Oversee Almost All Stocks At NYSE Floor (bloomberg.com) 138

An anonymous reader writes: Barclays, one of the biggest banking and financial services firms in the world, has sold its business on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to Global Trading Systems. This is significant because it marks a transition between human-based trading and high-speed trading. Now, humans on the NYSE floor have more of a supervisory role, making sure the automated systems don't go haywire. Barclays has been around for hundreds of years; GTS was founded in 2006. "There used to be dozens of specialist firms, as designated market makers were once known, at the NYSE floor. But profits from trading U.S. stocks dwindled, making it difficult to serve as market makers without automation. Although GTS, Virtu, IMC and KCG employ human traders at the floor, their businesses are driven by some of the industry's most sophisticated computer systems."
Power

Israel's Electric Grid Targeted By Malware, Energy Minister Says (timesofisrael.com) 37

itwbennett writes: While many are still debating how much risk there is of a catastrophic cyber attack on power grid and other critical infrastructure, Israel's Minister of Infrastructure, Energy and Water, Yuval Steinitz has good reason for warning 'of the sensitivity of infrastructure to cyber-attacks, and the importance of preparing ourselves in order to defend ourselves against such attacks.' On Tuesday Steinitz told attendees at CyberTech 2016 that the country's Public Utility Authority had been targeted by malware just one day earlier, and that some systems were still not working properly. Not long after news of the attack started to spread, Robert M. Lee, the CEO of Dragos Security, published his thoughts on the matter over on the SANS ICS blog.
Data Storage

Six Missing HDDs Contain Health Information of Nearly a Million Patients (corporate-ir.net) 87

Lucas123 writes: Health insurer Centene Corp. revealed that it is looking for six HDDs with information on 950,000 customers that went missing during a data project that was using laboratory results to improve the health outcomes of patients. The drives not only contain sensitive personal identification information, such as addresses, dates of birth and social security numbers, but they also contain health information. "While we don't believe this information has been used inappropriately," said Michael Neidorff, CEO of Centene.
Power

Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Energy Conservation Program (yahoo.com) 84

mdsolar sends news that the U.S. Supreme Court has issued a 6-2 ruling in favor of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's ability to create incentives for conserving energy and reducing demand on the power grid at peak times. The demand response program pays large electricity customers like retailers, schools and office buildings to reduce energy consumption on hot summer days and other times of peak demand. The reduction in power use means electric utilities don't need to turn on backup power plants, which cost more to run and boost electricity prices. ... The rule won wide praise from environmental groups because it curbed the need for utilities to build expensive and air-polluting power plants. The demand response program saved customers in the mid-Atlantic region nearly $12 billion in 2013, according to PJM Interconnection, which manages the wholesale power supply for all or part of 13 states. ... But the rule has meant millions in lost profits for utilities. Those companies argued that the program impermissibly targets retail customers.
AMD

AMD: It's Time To Open Up the GPU (gpuopen.com) 152

An anonymous reader writes: AMD has called for the opening up of GPU technology to developers. Nicolas Thibieroz, a senior engineering manager for the company, announced today the launch of GPUOpen, its initiative to provide code and documentation to PC developers, embracing open source and collaborative development with the community. He says, "Console games often tap into low-level GPU features that may not be exposed on PC at the same level of functionality, causing different — and usually less efficient — code paths to be implemented on PC instead. Worse, proprietary libraries or tools chains with "black box" APIs prevent developers from accessing the code for maintenance, porting or optimizations purposes. Game development on PC needs to scale to multiple quality levels, including vastly different screen resolutions." And here's how AMD wants to solve this: "Full and flexible access to the source of tools, libraries and effects is a key pillar of the GPUOpen philosophy. Only through open source access are developers able to modify, optimize, fix, port and learn from software. The goal? Encouraging innovation and the development of amazing graphics techniques and optimizations in PC games." They've begun by posting several technical articles to help developers understand and use various tools, and they say more content will arrive soon.
Hardware Hacking

OpenWrt Turns a $14 Card Reader Into the Smallest Wireless AP (livejournal.com) 42

An anonymous reader writes: The Zsun Wifi card reader is a tiny micro SD card reader with WiFi connectivity. While people managed to access the device's serial console a few months ago, the plan was to eventually run OpenWrt since it's based on the popular Atheros AR9331 WiSoC combined with 64MB RAM and 16MB SPI Flash. A team of Polish hackers have managed this feat, and have now posted instructions to install OpenWrt, as well as other documentation: for example, a description of the board's GPIOs.
United States

US Could Lower Carbon Emissions 78% With New National Transmission Network (smithsonianmag.com) 346

mdsolar writes with this story from Smithsonian magazine about how building a national transmission network could lead to a gigantic reduction in carbon emissions. From the story: "The United States could lower carbon emissions from electricity generation by as much as 78 percent without having to develop any new technologies or use costly batteries, a new study suggests. There's a catch, though. The country would have to build a new national transmission network so that states could share energy. 'Our idea was if we had a national 'interstate highway for electrons' we could move the power around as it was needed, and we could put the wind and solar plants in the very best places,' says study co-author Alexander MacDonald, who recently retired as director of NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado."
Facebook

Facebook Building World's 'Most Advanced' Data Center In Irish Village (thestack.com) 60

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook has announced it is building a new data center in Clonee, Ireland, a small village close to Dublin. The facility, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg claims will be one of the "most advanced and energy efficient data centers in the world," will be the social network's second outside of the U.S., and its sixth globally. The new center will be located just a 30-minute drive from Facebook's international headquarters in the country's capital. It is expected to cost €200 million and employ around 2,000 people during the construction phase. The company hopes to open the facility in early 2018.
Toys

To Solve a Rubik's Cube In 1 Second, It Takes a Robot 100

The Next Web features a quick look at an eyebrow-raisingly fast Rubik's Cube-solving robot, created by developers Jay Flatland and Paul Rose. How fast? The robot can solve a scrambled cube in one second (as long as you're willing to round down consistent solutions in "less than 1.2 seconds") which makes for some fun repeat views on YouTube. One speed-shaving element of the design: Rather than grip the cube with a robot hand, Flatland and Rose essentially made the cube an integral part of the system, by drilling holes in the cube's center faces, and attaching stepper motors directly. (Also at Motherboard).
Networking

Ask Slashdot: Affordable Hardware For Remote-Booting USB Devices? 81

phlawed writes: USB ports are everywhere. It is very convenient for powering low-power devices, and by using a run-of-the-mill phone charger you can easily get 10+ watts or so. In other words: everyone already has the generic power supply and power cable. No issue with voltage or polarity. Perfect for the hobbyist market.

Another ubiquitous power source (in the enterprise environment) is Power over Ethernet. Active PoE splitters for 12V output are available for ~6-7 USD and up on eBay. With PoE you get networking and power over the same wires, and booting your (possibly borked) PoE device is a matter of instructing the PoE source to cycle the power on that port. (Also, USB chargers with 12V input are available for less than 1 USD on eBay. They are likely all crap, though.)

I am looking for the combination of these two concepts in a compact, affordable, quality product. I found one product offering USB power from PoE. That product appears to have left out Ethernet and has a MSRP of 30 USD. Otherwise, I find PoE wall sockets for a MSRP of USD 100 or more. It appears excessive, given the cost figures of the pieces listed above.

So, if it does not already exist... anyone feel like running with this on your favorite crowdsourcing platform? Any experienced electronics people who can do a back-of-the-envelope calculation for cost of parts and assembly?
Input Devices

France Says AZERTY Keyboards Fail French Typists (arstechnica.com) 315

Ars Technica reports that the AZERTY keyboard layout used in France has a problem: it's not very good for writing French words, many of which require accents that can be accessed only awkwardly. An excerpt from the Ars story: In a statement released this week, the ministry lamented the fact that French keyboards, which use the AZERTY layout rather than the QWERTY layout familiar to English speakers, make it unnecessarily difficult to type common symbols and letters. While the 26 letters of the alphabet as well as common accented letters like é, à, è, and ù are generally represented similarly on an AZERTY keyboard, the ministry said that the @ symbol and the € symbol are inconveniently or inconsistently placed, as are commands to capitalize symbols like "ç". The trouble of finding how to properly capitalize accented letters is a big issue in written French, especially for legal texts and government documents where every letter of the names of people and businesses are capitalized. Often, an accent is the only distinguishing factor between two similarly spelled words.
Hardware Hacking

Atom-Based JaguarBoard To Take On Raspberry Pi (hothardware.com) 120

MojoKid writes: The tiny single-board PC movement that's leading the Internet of Things (IoT) market is largely dominated by ARM-based processors, and for good reason — they're cheap, low power and capable. However, what if you prefer to work with the x86 architecture? JaguarBoard looks strikingly similar to Raspberry Pi, which is arguably the most popular single-board mini PC. But unlike Raspberry Pi, JaguarBoard allows users to develop for x86, courtesy of its Intel Atom Z3735G (Bay Trail) foundation. The chip is a quad-core part clocked at 1.33GHz to 1.83GHz with 2MB of L2 cache, offering a fair amount of horsepower for IoT applications. In addition to an Atom processor, JaguarBoard also boasts 1GB of DDR3L memory, 16GB of eMMC storage, three USB 2.0 ports, 10/100M LAN port, HDMI 1.4 output, SDIO 3.0 socket, two COM ports, four GPIO pins, and audio ports. It's an interesting device that you could use strictly as a mini PC for general purpose computing, as an embedded system, a learning or research tool, or for whatever DIY projects you can conjure up. It's not the only hobbyist-appropriate x86 board, but those specs are pretty good for $45.
Hardware Hacking

Sys-Admin Dispenses Passwords With a Banana (thenewstack.io) 89

An anonymous reader writes: A network administrator in Denmark is requiring users to perform a finger press on a banana to receive their Wi-Fi passwords. "The banana is mounted and in production," he posted Thursday, sharing two pictures. The banana uses a special new circuit board from Makey Makey to form a connection between the banana and a cheap Raspberry Pi computer with a screen attached, according to one technology site. They note that it could also detect finger presses on a doughnut, an apple, or even Jell-o, and offer this quote from the sys-admin about his motivations. "It's fun... It'll make people smile. It beats a static WPA password in funnyness." And most importantly, "When people leave our office, they can't access our WI-Fi because there's no banana to touch." This guy deserves some kind of award, come July 29th.
Displays

Google May Be Developing Consumer Virtual Reality Hardware (roadtovr.com) 27

An anonymous reader writes: Google's 'Cardboard' virtual reality initiative has put low-cost smartphone VR viewers in the hands of millions, but the experience provided by these simple phone holders doesn't compare with dedicated mobile VR hardware like Samsung's Gear VR. Now it seems that Google may be ready to move from Cardboard viewers to dedicated VR hardware. Four new full-time job listings at the company's Mountain View, CA headquarters seek candidates for the company's virtual reality group who are experienced with designing and manufacturing 'high-volume' consumer electronics devices. Road to VR suggests that Google could be creating a mobile VR headset under its flagship Nexus brand. The postings come just as the company's Clay Bavor dropped other responsibilities to fully dedicate his time as Google's VP of Virtual Reality.

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