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IBM

Fifty Years Ago IBM 'Bet the Company' On the 360 Series Mainframe 169

Posted by timothy
from the y'-tell-the-kids-that-today dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Those of us of a certain age remember well the breakthrough that the IBM 360 series mainframes represented when it was unveiled fifty years ago on 7 April 1964. Now Mark Ward reports at BBC that the first System 360 mainframe marked a break with all general purpose computers that came before because it was possible to upgrade the processors but still keep using the same code and peripherals from earlier models. "Before System 360 arrived, businesses bought a computer, wrote programs for it and then when it got too old or slow they threw it away and started again from scratch," says Barry Heptonstall. IBM bet the company when they developed the 360 series. At the time IBM had a huge array of conflicting and incompatible lines of computers, and this was the case with the computer industry in general at the time, it was largely a custom or small scale design and production industry, but IBM was such a large company and the problems of this was getting obvious: When upgrading from one of the smaller series of IBM computers to a larger one, the effort in doing that transition was so big so you might as well go for a competing product from the "BUNCH" (Burroughs, Univac, NCR, CDC and Honeywell). Fred Brooks managed the development of IBM's System/360 family of computers and the OS/360 software support package and based his software classic "The Mythical Man-Month" on his observation that "adding manpower to a late software project makes it later." The S/360 was also the first computer to use microcode to implement many of its machine instructions, as opposed to having all of its machine instructions hard-wired into its circuitry. Despite their age, mainframes are still in wide use today and are behind many of the big information systems that keep the modern world humming handling such things as airline reservations, cash machine withdrawals and credit card payments. "We don't see mainframes as legacy technology," says Charlie Ewen. "They are resilient, robust and are very cost-effective for some of the work we do.""
Google

The Verge: Google Is Working on a TV Box Of Its Own 117

Posted by timothy
from the consume-consume-consume dept.
Amazon may have a slight lead in the world of Android-based TV-centric mini-boxes with its Amazon Fire TV, but according to this story, Google is getting set to release just such a box itself. "According to documents obtained exclusively by The Verge, Google is about to launch a renewed assault on your television set called Android TV. Major video app providers are building for the platform right now. Android TV may sound like a semantic difference — after all, Google TV was based on Android — but it’s something very different. Android TV is no longer a crazy attempt to turn your TV into a bigger, more powerful smartphone. "Android TV is an entertainment interface, not a computing platform," writes Google. "It’s all about finding and enjoying content with the least amount of friction." It will be "cinematic, fun, fluid, and fast." ... What does that all mean? It means that Android TV will look and feel a lot more like the rest of the set top boxes on the market, including Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV, and Roku."
Intel

Intel Releases $99 'MinnowBoard Max,' an Open-Source Single-Board Computer 97

Posted by timothy
from the embed-and-deploy dept.
A few months back, we posted a video interview with some of the folks behind the Linux-friendly, x86-based MinnowBoard. TechCrunch reports the release of a more powerful version of the same all-in-one computer, now with a 1.91GHz Atom E3845 processor. According to the linked article, "The board's schematics are also available for download and the Intel graphics chipset has open-source drivers so hackers can have their way with the board. While it doesn’t compete directly with the Raspberry Pi – the Pi is more an educational tool and already has a robust ecosystem – it is a way for DIYers to mess around in x86 architected systems as well as save a bit of cash. The system uses break-out boards called Lures to expand functionality."
Hardware Hacking

Tesla Model S Has Hidden Ethernet Port, User Runs Firefox On the 17" Screen 208

Posted by timothy
from the wardriving-in-style dept.
New submitter FikseGTS (3604833) writes "A Tesla Model S owner located a 4 pin connector on the left side of the Tesla Model S dashboard that turns out to be a disguised ethernet networking port. After crafting his owns patch cable to connect with the Tesla's port, a networking connection was established between the Tesla Model S and a laptop computer. The Model S is running a 100 Mbps, full duplex ethernet network and 3 devices were found with assigned IP addresses in the 192.168.90.0 subnet. Some ports and services that were open on the devices were 22 (SSH), 23 (telnet),53 (open domain), 80 (HTTP), 111 (rpcbind), 2049 (NFS), 6000 (X11). Port 80 was serving up a web page with the image or media of the current song being played. The operating system is modified version of Ubuntu using an ext3 filesystem. Using X11 it also appears that someone was able to somewhat run Firefox on both of the Model S screens. Is a jailbroken Tesla Model S on the way?" Some more details on this front would be appreciated, for anyone who has a Tesla they'd like to explore.
Cellphones

Google Project Ara Design Will Use Electro-Permanent Magnets To Lock In Modules 62

Posted by Soulskill
from the magnets-how-the-heck-to-they-work dept.
MojoKid writes: "Google's Project Ara, an effort to develop a modular smartphone platform, sounded at first as much like vaporware, but Google is actually making it happen. In an upbeat video, Dave Hakkens (the guy who created the Phonebloks design that appears to be the conceptual basis for Project Ara) visited the Google campus to see what progress is being made on the project. The teams working on Project Ara have figured out a key solution to one of the first problems they encountered, which was how to keep all the modules stuck together. They decided to use electro-permanent magnets. In terms of design, they've decided not to cover up the modules, instead making their very modularity part of the aesthetic appeal. 3D Systems is involved on campus, as they're delivering the 3D printing technology to make covers for the modules."
Power

Cheaper Fuel From Self-Destructing Trees 112

Posted by samzenpus
from the larch-powered dept.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Wood is great for building and heating homes, but it's the bane of biofuels. When converting plants to fuels, engineers must remove a key component of wood, known as lignin, to get to the sugary cellulose that's fermented into alcohols and other energy-rich compounds. That's costly because it normally requires high temperatures and caustic chemicals. Now, researchers in the United States and Canada have modified the lignin in poplar trees to self-destruct under mild processing conditions—a trick that could slash the cost of turning plant biomass into biofuels."
Hardware

An SSD for Your Current Computer May Save the Cost of a New One (Video) 353

Posted by Roblimo
from the breaking-the-i/o-speed-barrier dept.
Obviously, the first performance enhancement you do on any computer you own is max out the RAM. RAM has gotten cheap, and adding more of it to almost any computer will make it faster without requiring any other modification (or any great skill). The next thing you need to do, says Larry O'Connor, the founder and CEO of Other World Computing (OWC), is move from a "platter" hard drive to a Solid State Drive (SSD). Larry's horse in this race is that his company sells SSDs, mostly for Macs. But he's a real evangelist about SSDs and computer mods in general, even if you buy them from NewEgg, Amazon or another vendor.

A big (vendor-neutral) thing Larry points out is that just because you have a Terabyte drive in your computer now doesn't mean you need a Terabyte SSD, which can easily cost $500. Rather, he says, all you need is a large enough SSD to contain your OS and software and whatever data you're working with at the moment, so you might be able to get by with a 120 GB SSD that costs well under $100. Clone your current main drive, stick in the new SSD, and if your need more storage, get another hard drive (or use your old one). Simple. Efficient. And a lot cheaper than buying a new computer, whether we're talking about home, business or even enterprise use. (Alternate video link.)
Biotech

Single-Celled Organism Converted Into Electronic Oscillator For Bio-Computing 34

Posted by timothy
from the your-slurm-is-thinking dept.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "The single-celled organism slime mold, or Physarum polycephalum, is an extraordinary creature. It explores its world by extending protoplasmic tubes into its surroundings in search of food and it does this rather well. Various researchers have exploited this process to show how Physarum can find optimal routes between different places and even solve mazes. Now one researcher has worked out how to use these protoplasmic tubes as clock-like electronic oscillators. His experiment was straightforward. He encouraged the growth of protoplasmic tubes between two blobs of agar sitting on electrical contacts. He then measured the resistance of the tubes at various voltages. This turns out to be about 6 megaohms. But the results show something else too: that the resistance oscillates over a period of about 73 seconds. That's due to the tubes contracting as waves of calcium ions pass through them. So altering the period of oscillation should be possible by influencing the production of calcium ions, perhaps using light or biochemistry. Electronic oscillators are significant because they are basic drivers of almost all active electronic devices. But this guy's goal is bigger than this. The plan is to grow a "Physarum chip" that acts as a general purpose computer, a device that will need some kind of oscillator or clock to co-ordinate activity, just as in an ordinary processor, although speed will not be its chief characteristic."
Games

Amazon's Fire TV: Is It Worth Game Developers' Time? 88

Posted by timothy
from the how-to-achieve-play-anywhere? dept.
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Amazon is serious about conquering the living room: the online retailer has launched Fire TV, a set-top box that not only allows viewers to stream content, but also play games. That streaming-and-gaming capability makes Amazon a threat to Apple, which rumors suggest is hard at work on an Apple TV capable of doing the same things. In addition, Fire TV puts the screws to other streaming hardware, including Roku and Google's Chromecast, as well as smaller game consoles such as Ouya (a $99, Android-based device). Much of Amazon's competitive muscle comes from its willingness to sell hardware for cheap (the Fire TV retails for $99) on the expectation that owners will use it to stream and download digital content from Amazon, including television shows and apps. Those developers who've developed Android games have an advantage when it comes to migrating software to Amazon's new platform. "Porting You Don't Know Jack was really like developing for Android, with the exception of the store and the new controller library," Jackbox Games Designer/Director Steve Heinrich told Gamasutra after the Fire TV announcement. "The store itself is the same as the Kindle version, which we've used many times now, and the way the controller works is very close to what we did for Ouya." While Fire TV could represent yet another opportunity for game developers looking to make a buck, it also raises a pressing question: with so many platforms out there (iOS, PC, etc.), how's an indie developer or smaller firm supposed to allocate time and resources to best advantage?"
Hardware

Bunnie Huang's Novena Open Source Laptop Launches Via Crowd Supply 88

Posted by samzenpus
from the laptop-of-the-people dept.
First time accepted submitter ogcricket (3557713) writes with news about a new laptop designed by Andrew Huang and Sean Cross. "Earlier this year, the two Singapore-based engineers fashioned a laptop made almost entirely from open source hardware, hardware whose designs are freely available to the world at large. They called it Project Novena. Anyone could review the designs, looking for bugs and security flaws, and at least in theory, that meant you could be confident the machine was secure from top to bottom, something that’s more desirable than ever in the post-Edward Snowden age....The original idea was simply to encourage others to build their own open source laptops at home. But now the pair are taking the project a step further. Starting today, you can order your own pre-built Novena laptop through the crowd-funding site Crowd Supply, and it will ship out in the coming weeks. Much like Kickstarter, Crowd Supply is place where you can put up money to help fund a company and then get a product in exchange."
Intel

USB Reversable Cable Images Emerge 208

Posted by Soulskill
from the saving-you-3-annoying-seconds-a-couple-times-a-day dept.
Lucas123 writes: "A presentation released today by Intel revealed images of the USB 3.1 Type-C cable and connectors, which is symmetrical and will no longer require a user to correctly orient the plug. Initially, the USB 3.1 Type-C specification will support up to 10Gbps data transfer speeds. The Type-C connectors resemble those of Apple's Thunderbolt cabling in that they are much smaller than today's USB SuperSpeed connectors. The receptacle opening is 8.3mm x 2.5mm.The first iteration will have a 5 volt power transfer rate, but it is expected to deliver up to 100 watts for higher power applications in the future."
Android

Amazon Launches Android-Powered 'Fire TV' For Streaming and Gaming 180

Posted by Soulskill
from the bookstores-sure-sell-a-lot-of-stuff-these-days dept.
Today Amazon launched 'Fire TV,' a new video streaming box designed to compete with devices like the Roku and Apple TV. The Fire TV runs Android on a quad-core Qualcomm 1.7 GHz processor with 8GB of internal storage and 2GB of RAM. It supports 1080p video output at 60fps and measures 4.5" x 4.5" x 0.7". The Fire TV is also explicitly designed to support gaming, and Amazon has concurrently launched their own game controller. The Fire TV's remote control includes a microphone and a button that lets you search TV show and movies by voice.
Ubuntu

Canonical Shutting Down Ubuntu One File Services 161

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the at-least-we-get-code dept.
jones_supa (887896) writes "Wanting to focus their efforts on their most important strategic initiatives and ensuring that the company is not spread too thin, Canonical is shutting down Ubuntu One file services. With other services now regularly offering from 25 GB to 50 GB of free storage, the personal cloud storage space wasn't a sustainable place for Canonical. As of today, it will no longer be possible to purchase storage or music from the Ubuntu One store. The Ubuntu One software will not be included in the upcoming Ubuntu 14.04 LTS release, and the Ubuntu One apps in older versions of Ubuntu and in the Ubuntu, Google, and Apple stores will be updated appropriately.

The current services will be unavailable from 1 June 2014; user content will remain available for download until 31 July, at which time it will be deleted. For a spark of solace, the company promises to open source the backend code."
Power

Vermont Nuclear Plant Seeks Decommission But Lacks Funds 179

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the just-keep-it-running? dept.
mdsolar (1045926) writes with this bit of news about the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant shutdown. From the article: "On Friday, the Vermont Public Service Board voted to authorize Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc., the operators of the Vermont Yankee electricity generating station ..., to close down their nuclear power plant by the end of this year. Because Entergy planned to shut the Vermont nuclear plant down prior to its licensed end-term, the board was required to approve the shutdown....

Entergy has reserved just over $600 million to date for decommissioning the Vermont nuclear plant, according to the Department of Public Service. This amount will not be adequate to meet the costs of full deconstruction, estimated at more than $1 billion according to the company's 2012 Decommissioning Cost Analysis report."
Input Devices

Apple Patent Could Herald Interchangeable iPhone Camera Lenses 160

Posted by timothy
from the plug-and-shoot dept.
concertina226 (2447056) writes with this excerpt from IBTimes: "Apple has been granted a patent for interchangeable camera lenses — which could be used on the up-coming iPhone 6. The application was granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office in remarkably quick time, according to Patently Apple. Patent No. 8,687,299 has been granted to Apple today for 'Bayonet attachment mechanisms,' i.e. a bayonet mount that is able to securely attach lenses to an iOS device, such as an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. A bayonet mount is a fastening mechanism which is typically seen on cameras, used to attach lenses to the camera body. At the moment, there is no adjustable camera lens system in existence for smartphones, although there are lots of third party macro lens products that consumers can buy to clip onto their smartphone."
Cloud

Western Digital 'MyCloud' Is Down 5 Days and Counting 127

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the personal-cloud-is-really-working-out dept.
Nemo the Magnificent (2786867) writes "A friend of mine bought a Western Digital 'MyCloud' NAS server (non-RAID) a couple of weeks ago. WD implements the cloud service through its wd2go.com site. He reports that that site is down and has been since last Wednesday. No word on when it'll be back up. The only official announcements are daily repeats of this canned posting: 'Our My Cloud and My Book Live users are experiencing intermittent issues with WD servers that enable remote access when using these products. These issues include poor transfer speeds and/or inability to connect remotely. We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience and we are working very hard to resolve these issues and resume normal service as soon as possible. We thank you for your patience and will provide updates as they are available.'"
Intel

Intel Upgrades MinnowBoard: Baytrail CPU, Nearly Halves Price To $99 92

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the moar-power dept.
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "Intel and CircuitCo have revealed a smaller, faster, 2nd-gen MinnowBoard open SBC based on an Atom E3800 SoC and supported by both Android 4.4 and various standard Linux OSes. The MinnowBoard Max, which will ship in Q3 starting at $99, blows past the original MinnowBoard (Slashdot video) on price, performance, and energy consumption. The 3.9 x 2.9-inch Max's $99 starting price includes a 64-bit 1.46GHz Intel Atom E3815 (Bay Trail-T) CPU, 1GB RAM and 8GB SPI flash, and coastline ports for MicroSD, Micro-HDMI, GbE, dual USB, and SATA. Unlike the original MinnowBoard, the Max provides two expansion connectors: a low-speed header, with signals similar to the Arduino's Shield connector; and a high-speed connector, which can support mSATA and mini-PCIe sockets on expansion modules, among other interfaces. Although the Max's design supports CPUs up to Intel's quad-core 1.91GHz (10W TDP) E3845, only two choices shown initially at MinnowBoard.org, with the higher-end $129 model stepping up to a 1.33GHz dual-core E3825 plus 2GB RAM.."
Input Devices

Contact Lenses With Infrared Vision? 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-see-you-with dept.
Orlando (12257) writes "A story on Singularity Hub reports that "Researchers at the University of Michigan, led by electrical engineer Zhaohui Zhong, have devised a way to capture the infrared spectrum without requiring the cooling that makes infrared goggles so cumbersome." The method uses graphene and could one day lead to ultra light weight infrared vision technology."
Hardware

Samsung SSD 840 EVO MSATA Tested 76

Posted by samzenpus
from the looking-at-the-numbers dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Shortly after 2.5-inch versions of Samsung's SSD 840 EVO drives hit the market, the company prepared an array of mSATA drives featuring the same controller and NAND flash. The Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA series of drives are essentially identical to their 2.5" counterparts, save for the mSATA drives' much smaller form factor. Like their 2.5" counterparts, Samsung's mSATA 840 EVO series of drives feature an updated, triple-core Samsung MEX controller, which operates at 400MHz. The 840 EVO's MEX controller has also been updated to support the SATA 3.1 spec, which incorporates a few new features, like support for queued TRIM commands. Along with the MEX controller, all of the Samsung 840 EVO mSATA series drives feature LPDDR2-1066 DRAM cache memory. The 120GB drive sports 256MB of cache, the 250GB and 500GB drive have 512MB of cache, and the 750GB and 1TB drives have 1GB of cache. Performance-wise, SSD 840 EVO series of mSATA solid state drives performs extremely well, whether using synthetic benchmarks, trace-based tests like PCMark, or highly-compressible or incompressible data."
Displays

How Facebook and Oculus Could Be a Great Combination 151

Posted by Soulskill
from the goes-together-like-peanut-butter-and-facebook dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Nate Swammer writes at Slashgear that with Facebook's purchase of Oculus for a cool $2 billion, the fervor surrounding virtual reality headwear quickly turned to disdain. Betrayal, confusion, and anger became the order of the day for contributors who gave Oculus $2.4 million through its Kickstarter campaign. But now that passions have cooled and looking at the issues dispassionately, the Facebook acquisition may turn out much better than anticipated for users. While many may have a fervent distrust for Facebook, this deal bodes well for Oculus, and by virtue, us.

First Oculus wasn't flush, and although Oculus may have had some hustle behind it, it may not have been enough. John Carmack, Oculus CTO, said via Twitter, 'I expect the FB deal will avoid several embarrassing scaling crisis for VR.' The headwear already famously suffered from a supply chain issue not long ago, which actually stopped it dead in its tracks. Next, in their official announcement of the Facebook deal, gaming was barely a blip on the radar. It wasn't until the very end that gaming was even mentioned, with the bulk of the post discussing 'culture' and driving virtual reality forward. There was little to indicate any big titles were coming for Oculus.

The fact is, Oculus needed help. Not technical assistance, but someone who could be their Sony, more or less. John Carmack says he has 'a deep respect for the technical scale that FB operates at. The cyberspace we want for VR will be at this scale.' Perhaps Facebook isn't the most popular choice, but they are the partner Oculus chose for their future says Swammer. 'Like Google purchasing Android in 2005, it all seems so strange right now [remember this story we discussed in 2009] — but we see how that turned out. If VR really is the next frontier, Facebook just staked their claim to a big slab of land in the heart of some virtual country they'll likely let us see someday — via Oculus.""

Given its constituency, the only thing I expect to be "open" about [the Open Software Foundation] is its mouth. -- John Gilmore

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