Cloud

Microsoft Serves Cloud From the Sea Bed (datacenterdynamics.com) 104

judgecorp writes: A Microsoft Research project to run a data center underwater was so successful the team actually delivered commercial Azure cloud services from the module, which was 1km off the US Pacific coast for three months. The vessel, dubbed Leona Philpot after a Halo character, is a proof of concept for Project Natick, which proposes small data centers that could be submerged for five years or more, serving coastal communities.
Cellphones

Apple Developing Wireless Charging For Mobile Devices (thestack.com) 133

An anonymous reader writes: Apple is currently working with partners in the US and Asia to develop wireless charging for iPhone and iPad. Mobile devices with wireless charging capabilities could be released as soon as next year. Apple has not released the specific details on the range that could be available, but as far back as 2010, Apple applied for a patent to use an iMac as a wireless charging hub for distances of 1 meter. In 2014 it applied for a patent on specialized housing for a mobile device with an integrated RF antenna, which would also allow for wireless charging by helping to eliminate the problem of metallic interference with charging signals. Apple would apparently be building on these ideas to create a new iPhone or iPad that could charge further away from the hub, while continuing to be used.
Displays

Drone Races To Be Broadcast To VR Headsets (thenewstack.io) 30

An anonymous reader writes: You just plug in the HDMI feed, and you're in the cockpit of the drone," the CEO of the new Drone Racing League tells Wired. "Everyone from Oculus on is expecting to have VR headsets in every home for entertainment consumption, and we're a natural use for it." In anticipation of a new mass entertainment, the Drone Racing League released new footage Thursday highlighting one of their complicated competition courses, "a concrete steampunk torture chamber with cast-iron columns and massive hulking turbines from another era" described as The Gates of Hell. "[T]hese young drone pilots are not just enjoying themselves, but also inventing a new sport," reports one technology site, asking whether we'll ultimately see "drone parks" or even drone demolition derbies and flying robot wars. In an article titled "When Video Games Get Real," they quote one pilot who says it feels like skateboarding in the 1990's, "with a small group of people pushing the envelope and inventing every day" — this time wearing virtual reality googles to experience the addictive thrill of flying.
Bug

FTDI Driver Breaks Hardware Again (eevblog.com) 268

janoc writes: It seems that the infamous FTDI driver that got famous by intentionally bricking counterfeit chips [NOTE: that driver was later removed] has got a new update that injects garbage data ('NON GENUINE DEVICE FOUND!') into the serial data. This was apparently going on for a while, but only now is the driver being pushed as an automatic update through Windows Update, thus many more people stand to be affected by this.

Let's hope that nobody dies in an industrial accident when a tech connects their cheap USB-to-serial cable to a piece of machinery and the controller misinterprets the garbage data.

Portables

Asus ZenBook UX305CA Shows What Skylake Core M Is Capable Of (hothardware.com) 158

MojoKid writes: ASUS recently revamped their ZenBook UX305 family of ultralight notebooks with Intel's 6th generation Skylake Core m series, which brings with it not only improved graphics performance but also native support for PCI Express NVMe M.2 Solid State Drives. The platform is turning out to be fairly strong for this category of notebooks and the low cost ZenBook ($699 as tested) is a good example of what a Skylake Core M is capable of in a balanced configuration. Tested here, the machine is configured with a 256GB M.2 SSD, 8GB of RAM and a 2.2GHz Core m3-6Y30 dual-core CPU. Along with a 13.3-inch 1080p FHD display and 802.11ac wireless connectivity, the ZenBook UX305 is setup nicely and it puts up solid performance numbers in both standard compute tasks and graphics. It also offers some of the best battery life numbers in an ultralight yet, lasting over 10 hours on a charge in real world connected web testing.
United States

Air Force Firewall Now Designated a Weapons System (gazette.com) 137

An anonymous reader writes with a report from the Colorado Springs Gazette that the U.S. Air Force Space Command has declared its first cyber "weapons system" operational. The weapon, deemed fully operational this month, is basically a big firewall designed to protect the Air Force's internal 1 million-user network from hackers. It will be a hot topic at the Rocky Mountain Cyber Symposium, which is expected to draw hundreds of computer experts to The Broadmoor for a four-day confab starting Monday." More from the article about why a firewall would be called a weapon: The biggest reason for the weaponization push is financial: When it comes to budget battles, weapons, even those with a keyboard and a mouse, get cash from Congress. "Designating something as a weapons system really does help us justify our funding," Col. Pamela Wooley, who commands the Alabama-based 26th Cyberspace Operations Group, which includes the new weapon.
Graphics

In Memoriam: VGA (hackaday.com) 406

szczys writes: VGA is going away. It has been for a long time but the final nails in the coffin are being driven home this year. It was the first standard for video, and is by far the longest-lived port on the PC. The extra pins made computers monitor-aware; allowing data about the screen type and resolution to be queried whenever a display was connected. But the connector is big and looks antiquated. There's no place for it in today's thin, design minded devices. It is also a mechanism for analog signaling in our world that has embraced high-speed digital for ever increasing pixels and integration of more data passing through one connection. Most motherboards no longer have the connector, and Intel's new Skylake processors have removed native VGA functionality. Even online retailers have stopped including it as a filter option when choosing hardware.
Power

There's a Wind Turbine On the Horizon With Blades the Size of Trump Tower 184

merbs writes: Imagine a stretch of open ocean, populated by a swath of wind turbines with skyscraper-sized blades, whipping into the gusts like enormous palm trees. The vision is partly terrifying, partly inspiring, and being taken entirely seriously by the federal government and one of our top research laboratories. [Sandia National Labs, in an effort led by the University of Virginia] has unveiled the preliminary design for a new offshore wind turbine with 650-foot turbine blades. That, as its announcement points out, is twice the size of an American football field. It's also roughly the size of Trump Tower in New York.
Government

Cable Lobby Steams Up Over FCC Set-Top Box Competition Plan (arstechnica.com) 167

An anonymous reader writes: Cable TV industry lobby groups expressed their displeasure with a Federal Communications Commission plan to bring competition to the set-top box market, which could help consumers watch TV on different devices and thus avoid paying cable box rental fees.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed new rules that would force pay-TV companies to give third parties access to TV content, letting hardware makers build better set-top boxes. Customers would be able to watch all the TV channels they're already paying cable companies for, but on a device that they don't have to rent from them. The rules could also bring TV to tablets and other devices without need for a rented set-top box. The system would essentially replace CableCard with a software-based equivalent.

Communications

Jailbreak Turns Cheap Walkie-Talkie Into DMR Police Scanner 82

An anonymous reader writes: Last Shmoocon, famous reverse engineer Travis Goodspeed presented his jailbreak of the Chinese MD380 digital handheld radio. The hack has since been published at GitHub with all needed source code to turn a cheap digital radio into the first hardware scanner for DMR digital mobile radio: a firmware patch for promiscuous mode that puts all talk groups through the speaker including private calling. In the U.S. the competing APCO-25 is a suite of standards for digital radio communications for federal users, but a lot of state/county and local public safety organizations including city police dispatch channels are using the Mototrbo MotorolaDMR digital standard.
Printer

Ask Slashdot: Economical Lego-Compatible 3-D Printer? 165

Wycliffe writes: There are plenty of high end 3d printers which allow high precision and large prints. There are also plenty of economical 3d printers but most of them don't have high enough precision for printing good Lego pieces. What is a good economical printer for printing small Lego pieces? Build size is not important as most Lego pieces are tiny but precision and quality prints are very important. What is a good, cheap 3D printer that can reliably print tiny Lego pieces? What is the best bang for the buck when you want a small printer and don't care about large prints?
NASA

SpaceX Successfully Tests Crew Dragon Landing Parachutes 91

SpaceX successfully tested out the parachute system it plans to use to land its Crew Dragon spaceship safely back on Earth today. By using a "mass simulator," SpaceX was able to replicate the weight and shape of the spacecraft. According to NASA, "Later tests will grow progressively more realistic to simulate as much of the actual conditions and processes the system will see during an operational mission."

The goal of the test was to evaluate the four main parachutes, but this test did not include the "drogue chutes" the full landing system will utilize. The aim is for the spacecraft to splash safely into the ocean carried down by parachutes to reduce its speed. Eventually, SpaceX intends for the spacecraft to land upright on solid ground by utilizing eight SuperDraco propulsion engines. SpaceX successfully landed its Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral in December. Earlier this month, a SpaceX Falcon 9 exploded upon landing on a drone ship.
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.

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