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The Courts

Fight Over Arduino Name Pits Originators Against Contract Manufacturer 33

Posted by timothy
from the in-a-name-is-money dept.
szczys writes "Arduino is a household name in hobby electronics. But now there are two companies calling themselves Arduino and as you've probably guessed this is going to play out in the courts. How can this be? One company started the Arduino movement and used the other company, a contract manufacturer, to actually make the hardware. This went on for a few years before the trademark was actually granted. Elliot Williams did some digging to help figure out how this all might shake out."
Operating Systems

Linux Might Need To Claim Only ACPI 2.0 Support For BIOS 129

Posted by timothy
from the and-you-can-taqiya-that-to-the-bank dept.
jones_supa writes Some of us remember the story of why Linux kernel responds "False" when ACPI BIOS asks if the operating system is Linux. We have found yet another case where mimicking the Windows behavior instead of writing to the spec is the right choice if you just want your machine to work properly. The ACPI spec defines the _REV object as evaluating to the revision of the ACPI specification that the OS implements. Linux returns 5 for this, because Linux actually tries to implement ACPI 5.0, but Windows returns 2 (ACPI 2.0), possibly due to legacy reasons. Linux kernel expert Matthew Garrett discovered that still a fair amount of brokenness appears when 5 is returned as the revision, including a Dell machine which left the sound hardware in a misconfigured state. He is proposing a kernel patch which simply reports _REV as 2 on all x86 hardware.
Data Storage

Endurance Experiment Kills Six SSDs Over 18 Months, 2.4 Petabytes 204

Posted by timothy
from the die-die-die dept.
crookedvulture writes Slashdot has previously covered The Tech Report's SSD Endurance Experiment, and the final chapter in that series has now been published. The site spent the last 18 months writing data to six consumer-grade SSDs to see how much it would take to burn their flash. All the drives absorbed hundreds of terabytes without issue, far exceeding the needs of typical PC users. The first one failed after 700TB, while the last survived an astounding 2.4 petabytes. Performance was reasonably consistent throughout the experiment, but failure behavior wasn't. Four of the six provided warning messages before their eventual deaths, but two expired unexpectedly. A couple also suffered uncorrectable errors that could compromise data integrity. They all ended up in a bricked, lifeless state. While the sample size isn't large enough to draw definitive conclusions about specific makes or models, the results suggest the NAND in modern SSDs has more than enough endurance for consumers. They also demonstrate that very ordinary drives can be capable of writing mind-boggling amounts of data.
Chrome

Google's Pricey Pixel Gets USB-C and a Lower Price 139

Posted by timothy
from the dang-I-say-dang dept.
The Register reports that Google's high-end Chromebook Pixel has gotten a few spec bumps, and a lower price. It's still a touchscreen with a resolution of 2,560 × 1,700, but now that screen is backed by 8GB RAM (rather than 4) as a base configuration, and the system is equipped with a Broadwell Core i5 chip, rather than the Ivy Bridge in the first rev. The price has dropped, too; it may still be the most expensive Chromebook, but now it's "only" $999 on the low end, which is $300 less than the first Pixels cost. ($1300, though, gets an i7, 64 gigs of SSD instead of 32, and 8GB of RAM. Perhaps most interesting is that it adds USB type C, and (topping Apple's latest entry) it's got two of them.
Education

BBC Returns To Making Computers For Schools 106

Posted by timothy
from the as-it-ever-was dept.
Raging Bool writes According to the BBC News website, the BBC is returning to producing comparatively inexpensive computers for schools. Readers of sufficient age will remember the BBC Model B with great affection. But won't this be in competition with other pre-existing devices such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi? The BBC says not: "The BBC does not see Micro Bit as a rival to similar devices such as Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Galileo and Kano, but rather hopes it will act as a 'springboard' to these more complex machines." I hope they're at least consulting with Eben Upton.
Earth

New Solar Capacity Beats Coal and Wind, Again 356

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-comes-the-sun dept.
Lucas123 writes Solar energy installations beat both wind generated and coal-fired energy for the second year in a row, according to a new report from GTM Research. While solar only makes up about 1 percent of U.S. energy, in 2014, it added nearly as many new megawatts as natural gas, which is approaching coal as the country's primary energy source. Solar capacity grew 32 percent from 2013 to 2014 and GTM is predicting it will grow 59% YoY this year. Just two years ago, in 2012, coal represented 41% of new energy capacity and solar only 10%. Last year, coal was down to 23% of new electrical capacity. Solar capacity growth last year represents a 12-fold increase over the amounts being installed in 2009. Key to solar adoption has been falling costs across market segments and states.
Cloud

Google Nearline Delivers Some Serious Competition To Amazon Glacier 71

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-the-clouds dept.
SpzToid writes Google is offering a new kind of data storage service – and revealing its cloud computing strategy against Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. The company said on Wednesday that it would offer a service called Nearline, for non-essential data. Like an AWS product called Glacier, this storage costs just a penny a month per gigabyte. Microsoft's cheapest listed online storage is about 2.4 cents a gigabyte. While Glacier storage has a retrieval time of several hours, Google said Nearline data will be available in about three seconds. From the announcement: "Today, we're excited to introduce Google Cloud Storage Nearline, a simple, low-cost, fast-response storage service with quick data backup, retrieval and access. Many of you operate a tiered data storage and archival process, in which data moves from expensive online storage to offline cold storage. We know the value of having access to all of your data on demand, so Nearline enables you to easily backup and store limitless amounts of data at a very low cost and access it at any time in a matter of seconds."
Hardware Hacking

Watch an Original NES Run Netflix 80

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-and-play dept.
sarahnaomi writes with this story about a NES running Netflix. I don't know how you get Netflix to play on an original Nintendo, but it's been blowing my mind for the last 18 hours or so. Netflix posted the video with painfully little explanation. I have tried in many ways to get in touch with the Netflix developers who did what you see above, but no one is getting back to me, so here are some wild speculations."
Hardware

The 2015 Vintage Computer Festival East is April 17-19 (Video) 23

Posted by Roblimo
from the they-don't-make-them-like-they-used-to dept.
The Vintage Computer Festival East is where you go to see working computers from the forties through the eighties. It's held at the Information Age Learning Center (InfoAge) in Wall, New Jersey, a site that is full of electronics history on its own. In addition to displays (including a number of items for sale), there are sessions on topics ranging from "Keyboard Restoration" to "Fixing what's hopelessly broken." Event volunteer Evan Koblentz, today's interviewee, says that most of the several hundred people the event draws every year come from the United States, but there are always at least a few international visitors. And if New Jersey isn't your thing, there are other Vintage Computer Festivals you might want to attend. To get current news about these events, you might want to sign up for the VCF email list.
Open Source

Why We Need Free Digital Hardware Designs 78

Posted by samzenpus
from the open-it-up dept.
jrepin writes Free software is a matter of freedom, not price; broadly speaking, it means that users are free to use the software and to copy and redistribute the software, with or without changes. Applying the same concept directly to hardware, free hardware means hardware that you are free to use and to copy and redistribute with or without changes. But, since there are no copiers for hardware, is the concept of free hardware even possible? The concept we really need is that of a free hardware design. That's simple: it means a design that permits users to use the design (i.e., fabricate hardware from it) and to copy and redistribute it, with or without changes. The design must provide the same four freedoms that define free software. Then "free hardware" means hardware with an available free design.
Businesses

Open Source Hardware Approaching Critical Mass 64

Posted by Soulskill
from the nuclear-metaphors dept.
angry tapir writes: The Open Compute Project, which wants to open up hardware the same way Linux opened up software, is starting to tackle its forklift problem. You can't download boxes or racks, so open-source hardware needs a supply chain, said OCP President and Chairman Frank Frankovsky, kicking off the Open Compute Project Summit in San Jose. The companies looking to adopt this kind of gear include some blue-chip names: Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Capital One are members. The idea is that if a lot of vendors build hardware to OCP specifications, IT departments will have more suppliers to choose from offering gear they can easily bring into their data centers. Standard hardware can also provide more platforms for innovative software, Frankovsky said. Now HP and other vendors are starting to deliver OCP systems in a way the average IT department understands. At the same time, the organization is taking steps to make sure new projects are commercially viable rather than just exercises in technology.
Mars

Dry-Ice Heat Engines For Martian Colonists 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the until-we-get-a-gas-station-up-and-running dept.
LeadSongDog writes: Heat engines using the "Leidenfrost effect" can exploit the gas expansion as CO2 sublimates to drive turbines. "The technique has exciting implications for working in extreme and alien environments, such as outer space, where it could be used to make long-term exploration and colonisation sustainable by using naturally occurring solid carbon dioxide as a resource rather than a waste product. If this could be realised, then future missions to Mars, such as those in the news recently, may not need to be ‘one-way’ after all.

Dry ice may not be abundant on Earth, but increasing evidence from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) suggests it may be a naturally occurring resource on Mars as suggested by the seasonal appearance of gullies on the surface of the red planet. If utilised in a Leidenfrost-based engine dry-ice deposits could provide the means to create future power stations on the surface of Mars. " The research was published in Nature Communications, and one of the researchers published an explanatory article at The Conversation.
Businesses

Reactions to the New MacBook and Apple Watch 450

Posted by Soulskill
from the wrist-not-hip-enough dept.
As the dust settles from Apple's press conference yesterday, there have been a broad variety of reactions around the web. Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic says Apple's $10,000 watch demonstrates the company has lost its soul. "The prices grate. And they grate not because they’re so expensive, but because they’re gratuitously expensive. ... To many commentators, this is unsurprising. It’s good business sense, really. Apple has made its world-devouring profits by ratcheting up profit margins on iPhones. There is no better target for these massive margins than the super-rich. But high margins do not a luxury brand make." Others suspect the high-end watches are targeted more at rich people in China.

As for the less expensive watches, perhaps they're around not so much to become a new major sales category for Apple, but rather to drive more iPhone sales. Meanwhile, the redesigned MacBook may signify a bigger change for the laptop industry than people realize: "We don’t need all those other ports, Apple says. We are living in a wireless world now, where we can connect most of our peripherals without cords." The new MacBook has also fueled speculation that Apple could be working on a more powerful tablet, something that could compete with Microsoft's Surface Pro line.
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: Video Storage For Time Capsule? 169

Posted by timothy
from the what-would-vint-cerf-do? dept.
New submitter dwywit, anticipating World Backup Day, writes I've been asked to film this year's ANZAC services in my town. This is a big one, as it's the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign, and dear to our hearts here in Oz. The organisers have asked me to provide a camera-to-projector setup for remote viewing (they're expecting big crowds this year), and a recording of the parade and various services throughout the morning. Copies will go to the local and state library as a record of the day, but they would also like a copy to go into a time capsule. I have two issues to solve: 1. a storage medium capable of lasting 50 or 100 years and still be readable, and 2. a wrapper/codec that will be available and usable when the capsule is opened. I have the feeling that a conversion to film might be the only way to satisfy both requirements — it's easy enough to build a projector, or even re-scan the images for viewing. Has anyone got a viable alternative? Cloud storage isn't an option — this is going underground in a stainless steel container. See also this similar question from 2008; how have the options changed in the meantime?
Networking

Does USB Type C Herald the End of Apple's Proprietary Connectors? 392

Posted by timothy
from the u-stands-for-physically-incompatible dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Verge has an interesting editorial about the USB Type C connector on the new Macbook, and what this might mean for Apple's Lightning and Thunderbolt connectors. The former is functionally identical to USB Type C, and the latter has yet to prove popular in the external media and "docking" applications for which it was originally intended. Will Apple phase out these ports in favour of a single, widely-accepted, but novel standard? Or do we face a dystopian future where Apple sells cords with USB Type C on one end, and Lightning on the other?
Intel

Intel Announces Xeon D SoC Line Based On Broadwell Core Architecture 76

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-it-out dept.
MojoKid writes Intel is targeting big core performance and intelligence in a microserver form factor with its new Xeon D family of processors, the company's first ever Xeon-based System-on-Chip (SoC) design. The Xeon D line Intel is announcing today is built on their 14nm process technology and combines the performance and features of its traditional Xeon chips with the size and power savings of an SoC. According to Intel, Xeon D delivers up to 3.4x faster performance node and up to 1.7x better performance per watt compared to the company's Atom C2750. The Xeon D is the third generation of the family and it's actually based on Intel's Broadwell architecture. Intel unveiled two new Xeon D processors today, the D-1540 (8 cores, 16 threads, 2GHz, 45W TDP) and D-1520 (4 cores, 8 threads, 2.2GHz, 45W TDP). These chips have memory controllers capable of addressing up to 128GB. They also feature an integrated platform controller hub (PCH), integrated I/Os, and two integrated 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports. Again, all of this is based on Intel's Broadwell core CPU architecture, so performance per watt should be strong.
Displays

PrintDisplay: DIY Displays and Touchscreens Anyone Can Print 14

Posted by samzenpus
from the print-and-watch dept.
Zothecula writes For years now, we've been promised miraculous new flexible touchscreen displays, but the deployment of such technology in big consumer products, like say the LG G Flex, hasn't started any revolutions just yet. That could soon change thanks to a team of computer scientists from Germany's Saarland University who have developed a technique that could allow anyone to literally print their own custom displays, including touchscreens."
Power

MH370 Beacon Battery May Have Been Expired 178

Posted by timothy
from the for-want-of-a-nail dept.
New submitter Limekiller42 writes Malaysia's transport ministry released its preliminary report on the disappearance of MH370 that disappeared almost a year ago during flight and has yet to be located. The report states that the maintenance records for the solid state flight data recorder underwater locater beacon [indicate that its battery] expired in December of 2012 and there is no evidence it was replaced prior to aircraft going missing.
Graphics

Another Upscaled Console Game: Battlefield Hardline 225

Posted by timothy
from the just-extrapolate dept.
jones_supa writes Video game developer Visceral Games has confirmed the actual resolution that the coming Battlefield Hardline will run on when it is launched on the Xbox One and on the PlayStation 4. An official message from the Twitter account of the studio explains that gamers will get a 720p resolution on the Microsoft console and Sony platform gamers will get the game running in 900p. 60 frames per second is promised for both consoles, but many fans are still expressing their disappointment that neither of the two versions will be able to properly deliver the native 1080p resolution of the consoles. When development started, Visceral Games and publisher Electronic Arts said they were aiming to use the power of the modern consoles to push the game engine as far as it would go, but they clearly couldn't fit that target without cutting corners. This is similar to what happened with Titanfall, which renders into an 1408x792 framebuffer on Xbox One.
Power

Energy-Generating Fabric Set To Power Battery-Free Wearables 40

Posted by timothy
from the static-cling-is-powerful dept.
An anonymous reader writes A team of researchers in Korea and Australia have developed a flexible fabric which generates power from human movement – a breakthrough which could replace batteries in future wearable devices. The effect of the fabric's nanogenerators mirrors static electricity with the two fabrics repeatedly brushing against each other and stealing electrons from the one another – this exchange creates energy from the wearer's activity without the need for an external power source. During testing, the researchers demonstrated the nanogenerator powering a number of devices such as LEDs, a liquid crystal display, as well as a keyless car entry system embedded in a nanogenerator 'power suit'.