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Android

Nvidia Shield Tablet Gets Android Lollipop Update, Half Life 2 EP1 and GRID 58

Posted by timothy
from the oopmh-and-grace dept.
MojoKid writes Nvidia's Shield Tablet is only a few months old, but Nvidia is already updating the device with a freshly minted OS, a refreshed Shield Hub and access to the company's newly upgraded GRID Game Streaming service. A number of new Tegra K1 optimized games are arriving as well, as well as a new game bundle which includes Half Life 2 Episode 1. The SHIELD Tablet Android Lollipop update will feature Android's new "material design" interface and improved app performance, according to Nvidia. The update will also come preloaded with a new version of Nvidia's own Dabbler drawing and painting app (Dabbler 2.0). In addition to a new interface inspired by Lollipop's design language, Dabbler 2.0 will offer full support for layers and it'll allow users to share their sessions over Twitch. Previously, accessing the Nvidia's GRID beta meant streaming games from a GRID server cluster on the west coast, but Nvidia is expanding the service with server clusters located in Virginia, Europe and Asia. For the best possible user experience, streaming games from the cloud must incur minimal latency, and adding more servers in strategic locations not only affords Nvidia greater capacity, but minimizes latency as well. Nvidia says the GRID service will be available in North America this month, Western Europe in December and Asia sometime next year. The company's GRID service gives gamers access to 20 top titles currently, including Batman Arkham City, Borderlands 2 and Psychonauts, among others, and Nvidia is planning to add new games every week.
Power

Comet Probe Philae Unanchored But Stable — And Sending Back Images 132

Posted by timothy
from the overengineering-is-the-best-kind dept.
An anonymous reader writes with an update to the successful landing of the ESA's comet probe Philae, which (as mentioned yesterday) had problems attaching to the surface of the comet's Rosetta: "BBC now reports that Philae is stable on the surface. Although no source claims so, we can all imagine a faint humming of 'Still Alive' coming from the probe." Not just stable, but sending pictures while it can. From the article: The probe left Rosetta with 60-plus hours of battery life, and will need at some point to charge up with its solar panels. But early reports indicate that in its present position, the robot is receiving only one-and-a-half hours of sunlight during every 12-hour rotation of the comet. This will not be enough to sustain operations. As a consequence, controllers here are discussing using one of Philae's deployable instruments to try to launch the probe upwards and away to a better location. But this would be a last-resort option. New submitter Thanshin notes that the persistent Philae bounced a few times, and actually performed 3 landings, at 15:33, 17:26 & 17:33 UTC.Thanshin adds links to a handful of relevant Twitter feeds, if you want to follow in something close to real time: Philae2014; esa_rosetta; and Philae_MUPUS (MUlti PUrpose Sensor One).
Intel

Intel Claims Chip Suppliers Will Flock To Its Mobile Tech 91

Posted by samzenpus
from the most-wanted dept.
MojoKid writes It has been over six years since Intel first unveiled its Atom CPUs and detailed its plans for new, ultra-mobile devices. The company's efforts to break into smartphone and tablet sales, while turning a profit, have largely come to naught. Nonetheless, company CEO Brian Krzanich remains optimistic. Speaking to reporters recently, Krzanich opined that the company's new manufacturing partners like Rockchip and Spreadtrum would convert entirely to Intel architectures within the next few years. Krzanich has argued that with Qualcomm and MediaTek dominating the market, it's going to be tougher and tougher for little guys like Rockchip and Spreadtrum to compete in the same spaces. There's truth to that argument, to be sure, but Intel's ability to offer a competitive alternative is unproven. According to a report from JP Morgan, Intel's cost-per-wafer is currently estimated as equivalent to TSMC's average selling price per wafer — meaning TSMC is making money well below Intel's break-even. Today, Intel is unquestionably capable of building tablet processors that offer a good overall experience but the question of what defines a "good" experience is measured in its similarity to ARM. It's hard to imagine that Intel wants to build market share as an invisible partner, but in order to fundamentally change the way people think about Intel hardware in tablets and smartphones, it needs to go beyond simply being "as good" and break into territory that leaves people asking: "Is the ARM core just as good as the Intel chip?"
Data Storage

Data Center Study Reveals Top 5 SMART Stats That Correlate To Drive Failures 142

Posted by samzenpus
from the about-to-go dept.
Lucas123 writes Backblaze, which has taken to publishing data on hard drive failure rates in its data center, has just released data from a new study of nearly 40,000 spindles revealing what it said are the top 5 SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) values that correlate most closely with impending drive failures. The study also revealed that many SMART values that one would innately consider related to drive failures, actually don't relate it it at all. Gleb Budman, CEO of Backblaze, said the problem is that the industry has created vendor specific values, so that a stat related to one drive and manufacturer may not relate to another. "SMART 1 might seem correlated to drive failure rates, but actually it's more of an indication that different drive vendors are using it themselves for different things," Budman said. "Seagate wants to track something, but only they know what that is. Western Digital uses SMART for something else — neither will tell you what it is."
Cloud

Amazon Goes After Oracle (Again) With New Aurora Database 102

Posted by samzenpus
from the brand-new dept.
Sez Zero writes with news about the latest from Amazon Web Services. "Once again Amazon Web Services is taking on Oracle, the kingpin of relational databases, with Aurora, a relational database that is as capable as 'proprietary database engines at 1/10 the cost,' according to AWS SVP Andy Jassy. Amazon is right that customers, even big Oracle customers who hesitate to dump tried-and-true database technology are sick of Oracle’s cost structure and refusal to budge from older licensing models. Still there are very few applications that are more “sticky” than databases, which after typically contains the keys to the kingdom. Financial institutions see their use of Oracle databases as almost a pre-requisite for compliance, although that perception may be changing."
Earth

Denmark Faces a Tricky Transition To 100 Percent Renewable Energy 488

Posted by Soulskill
from the it-ain't-easy-being-green dept.
HughPickens.com writes Justin Gillis writes in the NYT that Denmark is pursuing the world's most ambitious policy against climate change, aiming to end the burning of fossil fuels in any form by 2050 — not just in electricity production, as some other countries hope to do, but in transportation as well. The trouble is that while renewable power sources like wind and solar cost nothing to run, once installed, as more of these types of power sources push their way onto the electric grid, they cause power prices to crash at what used to be the most profitable times of day. Conventional power plants, operating on gas or coal or uranium, are becoming uneconomical to run. Yet those plants are needed to supply backup power for times when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. With their prime assets throwing off less cash, electricity suppliers in Germany and Denmark have applied to shut down a slew of newly unprofitable power plants, but nervous governments are resisting, afraid of being caught short on some cold winter's night with little wind. "We are really worried about this situation," says Anders Stouge, the deputy director general of the Danish Energy Association. "If we don't do something, we will in the future face higher and higher risks of blackouts."

Environmental groups, for their part, have tended to sneer at the problems the utilities are having, contending that it is their own fault for not getting on the renewables bandwagon years ago. But according to Gillis, the political risks of the situation also ought to be obvious to the greens. The minute any European country — or an ambitious American state, like California — has a blackout attributable to the push for renewables, public support for the transition could weaken drastically. Rasmus Helveg Petersen, the Danish climate minister, says he is tempted by a market approach: real-time pricing of electricity for anyone using it — if the wind is blowing vigorously or the sun is shining brightly, prices would fall off a cliff, but in times of shortage they would rise just as sharply.
Earth

Fukushima Radiation Nears California Coast, Judged Harmless 114

Posted by timothy
from the dispersion-is-awesome dept.
sciencehabit writes After a two-and-a-half year ocean journey, radioactive contamination from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has drifted to within 160 kilometers of the California coast, according to a new study. But the radiation levels are minuscule and do not pose a threat, researchers say. The team found a high of just 8 becquerels of radiation per cubic meter in ocean samples off the coast. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for drinking water allow up to 7400 becquerels per cubic meter.
Cloud

Germans Can Get Free Heating From the Cloud 148

Posted by timothy
from the not-just-free-water dept.
judgecorp writes The idea of re-using waste server heat is not new, but German firm Cloud&Heat seems to have developed it further than most. For a flat installation fee, the company will install a rack of servers in your office, with its own power and Internet connection. Cloud&Heat then pays the bills and you get the heat. As well as Heat customers, the firm wants Cloud customers, who can buy a standard OpenStack-based cloud compute and storage service on the web. The company guarantees that data is encrypted and held within Germany — at any one of its Heat customers' premises. In principle, it's a way to build a data center with no real estate, by turning its waste heat into an asset. A similar deal is promised by French firm Qarnot.
Input Devices

Worrying Aspects of Linux Gaming 265

Posted by Soulskill
from the year-of-linux-on-the-console? dept.
jones_supa writes: Former Valve engineer Rich Geldreich has written up a blog post about the state of Linux Gaming. It's an interesting read, that's for sure. When talking about recent bigger game ports, his take is that the developers doing these ports just aren't doing their best to optimize these releases for Linux and/or OpenGL. He points out how it took significant resources from Valve to properly optimize Source engine for Linux, but that other game studios are not walking the last mile. About drivers, he asks "Valve is still paying LunarG to find and fix silly perf bugs in Intel's slow open source driver. Surely this can't be a sustainable way of developing a working driver?" He ends his post by agreeing with a Slashdot comment where someone is basically saying that SteamOS is done, and that we will never get our hands on the Steam Controller.
Education

Eben Upton Explains the Raspberry Pi Model A+'s Redesign 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the straight-from-the-horses-mouth dept.
M-Saunders writes It's cheaper, it's smaller, and it's curvier: the new Raspberry Pi Model A+ is quite a change from its predecessor. But with Model Bs selling more in a month than Model As have done in the lifetime of the Pi, what's the point in releasing a new model? Eben Upton, a founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, explains all. "It gives people a really low-cost way to come and play with Linux and it gives people a low-cost way to get a Raspberry Pi. We still think most people are still going to buy B+s, but it gives people a way to come and join in for the cost of 4 Starbucks coffees."
Build

Raspberry Pi A+ Details Leaked 141

Posted by Soulskill
from the A+-would-pi-again dept.
mikejuk writes Despite trying to keep it secret, a major Raspberry Pi retailer has published some details of the upcoming model A+ Raspberry Pi thanks to a product page that went live early. The board layout looks different and is much smaller than the model A or B+. Judging from the photograph, the A+ board encompasses the four standard mounting holes, which makes it approximately 56x65mm — the model B+ is 56x85mm.

The key improvement is the new 40-pin GPIO socket, which makes the model A+ fully compatible with the HAT expansion standard. This means that any new HAT expansion cards should now work with the A+. It also has what's likely a connector for the yet-unreleased Raspberry Pi touchscreen. Another welcome change is the micro SD slot. One downside of the A+ is that it still has only a single USB 2 connector.
Technology

There's No Such Thing As a General-Purpose Processor 181

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-ghosts dept.
CowboyRobot writes: David Chisnall of the University of Cambridge argues that despite the current trend of categorizing processors and accelerators as "general purpose," there really is no such thing and believing in such a device is harmful.

"The problem of dark silicon (the portion of a chip that must be left unpowered) means that it is going to be increasingly viable to have lots of different cores on the same die, as long as most of them are not constantly powered. Efficient designs in such a world will require admitting that there is no one-size-fits-all processor design and that there is a large spectrum, with different trade-offs at different points."
Technology

Amazon's Echo Chamber 112

Posted by Soulskill
from the let's-build-a-robot-that-will-help-people-buy-things dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The announcement this Thursday of another dubious piece of hardware from Amazon led Dustin Curtis to write an article critical of Amazon's hardware strategy, saying the company just doesn't understand what makes a device good or bad. Curtis says, "With Amazon.com, it can heavily and successfully promote and sell its products, giving it false indicators of success. It's an echo chamber. They make a product, they market the product on Amazon.com, they sell the product to Amazon.com customers, they get a false sense of success, the customer puts the product in a drawer and never uses it, and then Amazon moves on to the next product. Finally, with the Fire Phone, customers have been pushing back.

The media strategy that seems to be driving Jeff Bezos to make mobile consumption devices (with Amazon's media stores and Prime video/music) is flawed. No one makes money selling media for consumption anymore. That market is quickly and brutally dying. The media market is now so efficient that all profit is completely sucked out of the equation by the time you get to the consumption delivery system, to the point that it is barely possible to break even."
Databases

Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Data Warehouse Server System? 147

Posted by timothy
from the index-cards-and-an-actual-warehouse dept.
New submitter puzzled_decoy writes The company I work has decided to get in on this "big data" thing. We are trying to find a good data warehouse system to host and run analytics on, you guessed it, a bunch of data. Right now we are looking into MSSQL, a company called Domo, and Oracle contacted us. Google BigQuery may be another option. At its core, we need to be able to query huge amounts of data in sometimes rather odd ways. We need a strong ETLlayer, and hopefully we can put some nice visual reporting service on top of wherever the data is stored. So, what is your experience with "big data" servers and services? What would you recommend, and what are the pitfalls you've encountered?
Robotics

Robot Makes People Feel Like a Ghost Is Nearby 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the g-g-g-g-ghost?!?! dept.
sciencehabit writes: In 2006, cognitive neuroscientist Olaf Blanke of the University of Geneva in Switzerland was testing a patient's brain functions before her epilepsy surgery when he noticed something strange. Every time he electrically stimulated the region of her brain responsible for integrating different sensory signals from the body, the patient would look behind her back as if a person was there, even when she knew full well that no one was actually present. Now, with the help of robots, Blanke and colleagues have not only found a neurological explanation for this illusion, but also tricked healthy people into sensing "ghosts," they report online in Current Biology (abstract). The study could help explain why schizophrenia patients sometimes hallucinate that aliens control their movements.
Input Devices

Amazon's Echo: a $200, Multi-Function, Audio-Centric Device 129

Posted by timothy
from the jarvis-is-on-the-other-line-with-eliza dept.
An anonymous reader writes Amazon today quietly unveiled a new product dubbed Amazon Echo. The $200 device appears to be a voice-activated wireless speaker that can answer your questions, offer updates on what's going in the world, and of course play music. Echo is currently available for purchase via an invite-only system. If you have Amazon Prime, however, you can get it for $100. I've put in a request for one; hopefully we'll get a hands-on look at the Echo soon. It looks useful and interesting for random searches, and for controlling devices, but one small speaker (interesting driver arrangement notwithstanding) doesn't bode well for "fill[ing] any room with immersive sound," as Amazon's promo materials claim.
Power

Ask Slashdot: Minimizing Oil and Gas Dependency In a Central European City? 250

Posted by timothy
from the neighbor's-wifi-problem-solved dept.
An anonymous reader writes I live in a big city in central Europe. As most of you know from recent news, most of Europe's (and quite a bit of China's) gas supply comes from Russia and is very likely to be cut off several times during the next few winters (China's time will come in later years). What many might not know is that not just our natural gas supply, but also our petrol ('gas' for the Americans in the audience) often comes partly from Russia and some of our electricity comes from gas powered stations. Most of our leaders, at least in Germany and Hungary, are in bed with the Russians and likely won't do anything about fuel security. I live in an building with a south-facing roof and I own the roof space but I don't have enough land here to put a wind turbine or something similar on. Can anyone make good suggestions for ways to cut down my dependence on unreliable power supplies? Extra points for environmentalism, but I am even willing to pay more to be sure the heating is there in winter and my server keeps running.
Displays

French Health Watchdog: 3D Viewing May Damage Eyesight In Children 99

Posted by timothy
from the this-time-with-feeling-but-not-depth dept.
dryriver (1010635) writes with this clipping from the BBC: A French health watchdog has recommended that children under the age of six should not be allowed access to 3D content. The Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (Anses) added that access for those up to the age of 13 should be 'moderate'. It follows research into the possible impact of 3D imaging on still-developing eyes. Few countries currently have guidelines about 3D usage. According to Anses, the process of assimilating a three-dimensional effect requires the eyes to look at images in two different places at the same time before the brain translates it as one image. 'In children, and particularly before the age of six, the health effects of this vergence-accommodation conflict could be much more severe given the active development of the visual system at this time,' it said in a statement.
Businesses

PC Cooling Specialist Zalman Goes Bankrupt Due To Fraud 208

Posted by timothy
from the cooling-down-on-a-big-scale dept.
An anonymous reader writes Zalman's parent company Moneual's CEO Harold Park, and vice presidents Scott Park and Won Duck-yeok, have apparently spent the last five years producing fraudulent documentation relating to the sales performance of Zalman. These documents inflated sales figures and export data for Zalman's products. The reason? Bank loans. By increasing sales and exports Park and his associates were able to secure bank loans totaling $2.98 billion. Someone has finally realized what has been going on, though, triggering Zalman's shares to be suspended on the stock market and the company filing for bankruptcy protection. The questions now turn to how this practice was allowed to continue unnoticed for so long and how the banks will go about getting their near $3 billion back.
Power

Enzymes Make Electricity From Jet Fuel Without Ignition 78

Posted by samzenpus
from the spreading-the-power dept.
An anonymous reader writes University of Utah engineers say they've developed the first room-temperature fuel cell that uses enzymes to help jet fuel produce electricity without needing to ignite the fuel. These new fuel cells can be used to power portable electronics, off-grid power and sensors. A study of the new cells appears online today in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Catalysis. "The major advance in this research is the ability to use Jet Propellant-8 directly in a fuel cell without having to remove sulfur impurities or operate at very high temperature," says the study's senior author. "This work shows that JP-8 and probably others can be used as fuels for low-temperature fuel cells with the right catalysts."

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