Cellphones

Ars: Samsung Gear VR Is Today's Best Virtual Reality 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the jury-still-out-on-today's-best-actual-reality dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Samsung took a distinctly different tack from Oculus VR in developing virtual reality tech. Whereas Oculus has a dedicated device, Samsung simply has a high-tech piece of headgear that you strap a Galaxy Note 4 phone into. A review popped up at Ars Technica after a month using the device, and they say it works surprisingly well. Quoting: "Though the weight of the two units is comparable, the Gear VR benefits from a strap system that distributes that weight on the upper forehead and the back of the skull rather than through an elastic death grip around the eye area."

They still say a purchase is hard to justify, simply because the content selection is lacking. But as that improves, the price tag will become worth it. "Simple, minimally interactive virtual reality experiences like The Deep, BluVR, and Titans of Space have become go-to apps when passing the Gear VR around a party for friends to check out. It's incredible just sitting in place and following along with your gaze as sea life or entire planets fly by in sharp, well-rendered, 360-degree glory."
Input Devices

Apple Awarded Gesture-Control Patent 105

Posted by Soulskill
from the nothing-is-obvious-to-the-uspto dept.
mpicpp points out a report that Apple has been awarded a broad patent for gesture control of a computer interface (8,933,876). The company inherited the patent after their acquisition of motion-sensor company PrimeSense in 2013. (PrimeSense's technology is used in Microsoft's Kinect gesture control system.) Here's the patent's abstract: A method, including receiving, by a computer executing a non-tactile three dimensional (3D) user interface, a set of multiple 3D coordinates representing a gesture by a hand positioned within a field of view of a sensing device coupled to the computer, the gesture including a first motion in a first direction along a selected axis in space, followed by a second motion in a second direction, opposite to the first direction, along the selected axis. Upon detecting completion of the gesture, the non-tactile 3D user interface is transitioned from a first state to a second state.
Businesses

PC Shipments Are Slowly Recovering 130

Posted by Soulskill
from the tablets-not-magic-panacea,-film-at-11 dept.
mrspoonsi sends this news from TechCrunch: Over the past two years, the growing popularity of mobile devices has eaten into PC sales. A new report by Gartner, however, shows that shipments may continue to enjoy a very slow but steady uptick this year as tablet sales hit a peak. The research firm found that worldwide PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2014 grew one percent year-over-year, the first increase since 2012. In the U.S., PC shipments increased 13.1 percent year-over-year, the fastest increase in four years, thanks to holiday purchases. Inexpensive laptops (about $200 to $300), thin and light notebooks, and laptops with a detachable screen helped drive growth. Lenovo continued to be the number one PC maker in terms of shipment volume, with a 19.4 percent marketshare.
Security

Wireless Keylogger Masquerades as USB Phone Charger 150

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-case-you-were-running-out-of-attack-vectors-to-worry-about dept.
msm1267 writes: Hardware hacker and security researcher Samy Kamkar has released a slick new device that masquerades as a typical USB wall charger but in fact houses a keylogger capable of recording keystrokes from nearby wireless keyboards. The device is known as KeySweeper, and Kamkar has released the source code and instructions for building one of your own. The components are inexpensive and easily available, and include an Arduino microcontroller, the charger itself, and a handful of other bits. When it's plugged into a wall socket, the KeySweeper will connect to a nearby Microsoft wireless keyboard and passively sniff, decrypt and record all of the keystrokes and send them back to the operator over the Web.
Data Storage

The Importance of Deleting Old Stuff 177

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-don't-need-meeting-notes-from-2006 dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Bruce Schneier has codified another lesson from the Sony Pictures hack: companies should know what data they can safely delete. He says, "One of the social trends of the computerization of our business and social communications tools is the loss of the ephemeral. Things we used to say in person or on the phone we now say in e-mail, by text message, or on social networking platforms. ... Everything is now digital, and storage is cheap — why not save it all?

Sony illustrates the reason why not. The hackers published old e-mails from company executives that caused enormous public embarrassment to the company. They published old e-mails by employees that caused less-newsworthy personal embarrassment to those employees, and these messages are resulting in class-action lawsuits against the company. They published old documents. They published everything they got their hands on."

Schneier recommends organizations immediately prepare a retention/deletion policy so in the likely event their security is breached, they can at least reduce the amount of harm done. What kind of retention policy does your organization enforce? Do you have any personal limits on storing old data?
Data Storage

The Next Decade In Storage 93

Posted by Soulskill
from the filling-those-50TB-hard-drives-faster-than-you-expect dept.
Esther Schindler writes: In this article, Robin Harris predicts what storage will be like in 2025. And, he says, the next 10 years will be the most exciting and explosive in the history of data storage. For instance: "There are several forms of [Resistive RAM], but they all store data by changing the resistance of a memory site, instead of placing electrons in a quantum trap, as flash does. RRAM promises better scaling, fast byte-addressable writes, much greater power efficiency, and thousands of times flash's endurance. RRAM's properties should enable significant architectural leverage, even if it is more costly per bit than flash is today. For example, a fast and high endurance RRAM cache would simplify metadata management while reducing write latency."
Hardware

EnOcean Wireless Sensors Don't Need Batteries (Video) 46

Posted by Roblimo
from the almost-like-heinlein's-gramps-schneider-in-magic-inc. dept.
'The EnOcean technology is an energy harvesting wireless technology used primarily in building automation systems; but is also applied to other applications in industry, transportation, logistics and smart homes,' says Wikipedia. There's also a Siemans spinoff company called EnOcean, and today's video is an interview with its president, Jim O'Callaghan. But EnOcean technology is the real star here. The idea is that energy-efficient sensors can be powered by energy harvesting, i.e. drawing energy from their surroundings, including such low-level sources as light, temperature changes, and pressure, which can be the pressure of your finger on a switch or even changes in barometric pressure. The EnOcean Alliance has a professionally-produced video that describes their technology and notes that self-powered wireless sensors not only save energy but save miles of wire between sensor nodes and controllers, which means it's possible to install more sensors sensing more parameters than in the past. (Alternate Video Link)
Cloud

Would You Rent Out Your Unused Drive Space? 331

Posted by timothy
from the how-plausible-is-your-denial? dept.
Press2ToContinue writes "There is a new idea out there, proposed by Shawn Wilkinson, Tome Boshevski & Josh Brandof, that if you have unused disk space on your HD that you should rent it out. It is a great idea and the concept may have a whole range of implementations. The 3 guys describe their endeavor as: "Storj is a peer-to-peer cloud storage network implementing end-to-end encryption would allow users to transfer and share data without reliance on a third party data provider. The removal of central controls would eliminate most traditional data failures and outages, as well as significantly increasing security, privacy, and data control. A peer-to-peer network and basic encryption serve as a solution for most problems, but we must offer proper incentivisation for users to properly participate in this network."
Power

For the First Time In 3 Years, Investments In Renewable Energy Increased 134

Posted by Soulskill
from the renewed-interest-in-renewables dept.
Lucas123 writes: Driven largely by oil price weakness, 2015 could be the best year to date for investments in renewable energy technology, according to several new reports. According to Bloomberg Energy Finance, new funding for wind, solar, biofuels and other low-carbon energy technologies grew 16% to $310 billion last year. It was the first growth since 2011 (PDF), erasing the impact of lower solar-panel prices and falling subsides in the U.S. and Europe that hurt the industry in previous years. Demand for solar power grew 16% year-over-year in 2014, representing 44 gigawatts of capacity purchased during the year. Worldwide solar demand in 2015 is projected to be 51.4GW, compared with 39GW in 2014. Government policies will continue to improve for renewables — solar, in particular — given that anti-dumping duties imposed on Chinese modules by the U.S. last year are expected to be removed this year, Deutsche Bank said.
Intel

Intel 5th Gen Core Series Performance Preview With 2015 Dell XPS 13 97

Posted by Soulskill
from the separating-fact-from-marketing dept.
MojoKid writes: Intel's strategically timed CES 2015 launch of their new 5th Gen Core Series processors for notebooks was met with a reasonably warm reception, though it's always difficult to rise above the noise of CES chatter. Performance claims for Intel's new chip promise major gains in graphics and more modest increases in standard compute applications. However, the biggest bet Intel placed on the new Broadwell-U architecture is performance-per-watt throughput and battery life in premium notebook products that are now in production with major OEM partners. A few manufacturers were early out of the gate with new Core i5 5XXX series-based machines, however, none of the major players caught the same kind of buzz that Dell received, with the introduction of their new XPS 13 Ultrabook with its near bezel-less 13-inch WQHD (3200X1800) display. As expected, the Core i5-5200U in this machine offered performance gains of anywhere from 10 to 20 percent, in round numbers, depending on the benchmark. In gaming and graphics testing is where the new 5200U chip took the largest lead over the previous gen Core i5-4200U CPU, which is one of the most common processors found in typical ultrabook style 13-inch machines.
Security

Forget Stuxnet: Banking Trojans Attacking Power Plants 34

Posted by Soulskill
from the subprime-malware-lending dept.
New submitter PLAR writes: Everyone's worried about the next Stuxnet sabotaging the power grid, but a security researcher says there's been a spike in traditional banking Trojan attacks against plant floor networks. The malware poses as legitimate ICS/SCADA software updates from Siemens, GE and Advantech. Kyle Wilhoit, the researcher who discovered the attacks, says the attackers appear to be after credentials and other financial information, so it looks like pure cybercrime, not nation-state activity.
Power

CES 2015: WakaWaka Sheds Light On Technology, Profit, and Philanthropy (Video) 17

Posted by timothy
from the beats-candles-6-ways-to-sunday dept.
Camille van Gestel and co-founder Maurits Groen started solar-centric manufacturer WakaWaka with an explicit aim other than making money, though he's certainly not opposed to making some along the way. So it's not a non-profit, but van Gestel calls WakaWaka, which was named in a roundabout way after the Shakira song, a "purpose-driven company," with that purpose being -- no exaggeration needed -- to cast light on the world. They're doing just that, with the aid of recycled materials, low-power LEDs, and efficient solar cells. As a result, one of the portable light products that the group has created has become one of the most valued possessions among people displaced by the war in Syria, and more are lighting up villages in Haiti and elsewhere. I talked with Van Gestel at this year's CES, where the company's picked up a pair of CES Innovation Awards, and he has some advice for people who'd like to turn their technical skills to philanthropic endeavors, especially ones that involve hardware or technical infrastructure. Some of it can be summed up as "Spread the wealth, but don't do it for free." Between ongoing feedback gathered from users, a buy-one-give-one style distribution system, and requiring participation by recipients, he says WakaWaka has been able to reach people with their solar lighting products in a way that's much more valuable than just dumping hardware on them, and along the way has gotten a lot of feedback from the buyers whose purchases subsidize the company's non-profit activities. (Alternate Video Link.)
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: Options For Cheap Home Automation? 189

Posted by timothy
from the fan-blows-out-the-candles dept.
New submitter goose-incarnated writes I'm looking at cheap and simple home automation. Unfortunately I'm not too clued up on what my options are. There are such a wide array of choices, none of which seem (to me) to be either cheap or simple. I'd like to: Turn switches on/off (lights, wall sockets, general relays, etc); Read the status of on/off switches; Read analog samples (for example, temperature sensors); 'Program' switches based on analog samples/existing switches (for example, program a relay to come on at 30C and go off at 25C, thereby controlling the temperature); Similarly, program switches to go on/off at certain times; Record the samples of analog or digital inputs for a given time . I'd like to do the above using smartphone+bluetooth (for when I'm in the vicinity of the room), or smartdevice+WiFi (for when I'm in the house, somewhere), or even in a pinch, using HTTP to access a server at home from 600km away (which is what I'm willing to do). I'm definitely not willing to stream all my requests/data/responses through a third-party so third party cloud subscription solutions, even if free, are out of the question. Finally (because I know the Slashdot crowd likes a challenge :-)), I'd like something that is easily reprogrammable without having to compile code, then reflash a device, etc. What languages for embedded devices exist for home automation programming, if any. A quick google search reveals nothing specially made for end-users to reprogram their devices, but, like I said above, I'm clueless about options.
Security

Asus Wireless Routers Can Be Exploited By Anyone Inside the Network 68

Posted by timothy
from the coming-from-inside-the-building dept.
An anonymous reader writes A currently unpatched bug in ASUS wireless routers has been discovered whereby users inside a network can gain full administrative control, according to recent research conducted by security firm Accuvant. Although the flaw does not allow access to external hackers, anyone within the network can take administrative control and reroute users to malicious websites, as well as holding the ability to install malicious software. The vulnerability stems from a poorly coded service, infosvr, which is used by ASUS to facilitate router configuration by automatically monitoring the local area network (LAN) and identifying other connected routers. Infosvr runs with root privileges and contains an unauthenticated command execution vulnerability, in turn permitting anyone connected to the LAN to gain control by sending a user datagram protocol (UDP) package to the router. In relevant part: The block starts off by excluding a couple of OpCode values, which presumably do not require authentication by design. Then, it calls the memcpy and suspiciously checks the return value against zero. This is highly indicative that the author intended to use memcmp instead. That said, even if this check was implemented properly, knowing the device’s MAC address is hardly sufficient authentication,” said Drake. Here are the technical details at GitHub.
Portables

Ask Slashdot: High-Performance Laptop That Doesn't Overheat? 325

Posted by Soulskill
from the chestnut-roasters dept.
AqD writes: Last year we started to replace business/multimedia-grade laptops with gaming laptops at work, after several years of frustration with overheating and throttling issues that plagued our laptops from Acer, ASUS, Dell, Lenovo, and basically every brand you can find on market, making it impossible to write code and run db/test environment all on the same laptop.

The first new batch comes from Clevo because their gaming laptops don't look like gaming laptops, and they offer 3-6 disk slots which we badly need. The result is acceptable, however, not quite as good as I had expected. Mine has i7-4700mq CPU which is more or less equivalent to an older i7 on the desktop, but its temperature is raised to 70-80C while turbo boost is on, even with the best thermal paste. My friend's i7-4801mq is worse — it could never stay at the advertised 3.6GHz for more than a few seconds before it burns up over 90 and starts to throttle. Its benchmark result is nearly identical to the 4700mq because of heat problems. And it's only 3.6GHz! The best i7 CPU on a desktop could easily run closer to 5GHz with 6 cores / 12 threads running!

So what should we choose next time? We're not looking for something cool or slim or light. We need real laptops which can at least run prime calculation at advertised turbo boost speed, full cores/threads for an entire day. A nice bonus would be manual fan control plus easy access to the fan for cleaning.
Data Storage

Samsung Unveils First PCIe 3.0 x4-Based M.2 SSD, Delivering Speeds of Over 2GB/s 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the upgrades-that-require-other-upgrades dept.
Deathspawner writes: Samsung's SM951 is an unassuming gumstick SSD — it has no skulls or other bling — but it's what's underneath that counts: PCIe 3.0 x4 support. With that support, Samsung is able to boast speeds of 2,150MB/s read and 1,550MB/s write. But with such speeds comes an all-too-common caveat: you'll probably have to upgrade your computer to take true advantage of it. For comparison, Samsung says a Gen 2 PCIe x4 slot will limit the SM951 to just 1,600MB/s and 1,350MB/s (or 130K/100K IOPS), respectively. Perhaps now is a bad time to point out a typical Z97 motherboard only has a PCIe 2nd Gen x2 (yes, x2) connection to its M.2 slot, meaning one would need to halve those figures again.
Programming

Learn Gate-Array Programming In Python and Software-Defined Radio 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-and-learn dept.
Bruce Perens writes Chris Testa KB2BMH taught a class on gate-array programming the SmartFusion chip, a Linux system and programmable gate-array on a single chip, using MyHDL, the Python Hardware Design Language to implement a software-defined radio transceiver. Watch all 4 sessions: 1, 2, 3, 4. And get the slides and code. Chris's Whitebox hardware design implementing an FCC-legal 50-1000 MHz software-defined transceiver in Open Hardware and Open Source, will be available in a few months. Here's an Overview of Whitebox and HT of the Future. Slashdot readers funded this video and videos of the entire TAPR conference. Thanks!"
Power

Wireless Charging Standards Groups Agree To Merge 65

Posted by Soulskill
from the combining-their-powers dept.
jfruh writes: The world where our gadgets all charge wirelessly has been delayed by several factors, one of which is that there are three industry groups promoting rival technological standards. That problem is now a little closer to a solution, as the Alliance for Wireless Power and the Power Matters Alliance announced a plan to merge.
NASA

NASA's Robonaut 2 Can't Use Its Space Legs Upgrade 58

Posted by Soulskill
from the safety-mechanism-to-prevent-it-from-killing-all-humans dept.
BarbaraHudson writes: Robonaut 2, now in orbit on board the International Space Station, has run into problems with the software controlling its new legs. From the article: "The machine ran into a few technical errors. According to NASA, the ground teams deployed Robonaut's software and received telemetry from the robot, but were unable to obtain the correct commands for the leg movement, which are vital to performing every day tasks aboard the International Space Station. Ground teams have begun assessing how to move forward with this issue, though it is unclear if they currently have a fix in mind."
Education

DuinoKit Helps Teach Students About Electronics (Video) 61

Posted by Roblimo
from the you-don't-even-have-to-know-how-to-solder dept.
This is something Timothy Lord ran across a few months ago at a Maker Faire near Atlanta: The DuinoKit. Think of it as a fancier (and pricier) version of the venerable Radio Shack Electronic Learning Labs and you won't be far off. Plus, as the name DuinoKit implies, it's based on an Arduino, which means that right off the bat it packs a lot more learning punch than the Radio Shack kit. DuinoKit was financed by a KickStarter campaign that asked for $19,500 and raised $57,478 from 250 backers. And for those of you who worry about being called nerds because you're carrying a DuinoKit around, you can relax. It comes in a 'Secret Agent Carrying Case.' Really. Read their What is the DuinoKit? Web page carefully and you'll see. (Alternate Video Link)