United States

Nuclear Energy: The Good News and the Bad News In the EPA Clean Energy Plan 121

Lasrick writes: Peter Bradford explains what the EPA's new Clean Power Plan has in store for nuclear energy. He provides an excellent explanation of the details of the plan, and how the nuclear industry benefits (or doesn't). "The competitive position of all new low-carbon electricity sources will improve relative to fossil fuels. New reactors (including the five under construction) and expansions of existing plants will count toward state compliance with the plan's requirements as new sources of low-carbon energy. Existing reactors, however, must sink or swim on their own prospective economic performance—the final plan includes no special carbon-reduction credits to help them."

Russian Scientists Create Cockroach Spy Robot 50

An anonymous reader writes: A team of scientists at the Kaliningrad-based Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University has unveiled a small cockroach robot which will be tasked with hunting out victims trapped under debris. The robot measures 10cm in length, and can move at up to 30cm/second. The device is fitted with light sensors, as well as contact and non-contact probes which allows it to move around without bumping into any obstacles. “We had to develop many things from scratch. For example, there’s a company in Austria that produces gearing for legs, but a unit for one robot would have cost us nearly $9,000 while our entire budget is $22,500,” said Danil Borchevkin, the university’s lead engineer.

Battery Advance Could Lead To a Cleaner Way To Store Energy 147

sciencehabit writes: With the continuing rise of solar and wind power, the hunt is on for cheap batteries that are able to store large amounts of energy and deliver it when it's dark and the wind is still. Last year researchers reported an advance on one potentially cheap, energy-packing battery. But it required toxic and caustic materials. Now, the same team has revised its chemistry, doing away with the noxious constituents—an advance that could make future such batteries far cheaper and simpler to build.
Hardware Hacking

1000-key Emoji Keyboard Is As Crazy As It Sounds 146

hypnosec writes: A YouTuber named Tom Scott has built a 1,000-key keyboard with each key representing an emoji! Scott made the emoji keyboard using 14 keyboards and over 1,000 individually placed stickers. While he himself admits that it is one of the craziest things he has built, the work he has put in does warrant appreciation. On the keyboard are individually placed emojis for food items, animals, plants, transport, national flags, and time among others.

Does It Make Sense To Hand Make Printed Circuit Boards? 196

An anonymous reader writes: A Hackaday author told the hackers that it isn't worth making your own PC boards anymore. Good tools, fast shipping, and cheap manufacturing capacity means that spending a day making a board that is much worse than a 'pro' board just isn't worthwhile anymore. The reaction was worse than when Kirk told the Star Trek fans to get a life. Although there have been some who agree, many of the readers have taken it as an affront to their very way of life.

Intel Launches SSD DC P3608 NVMe Solid State Drive With 5GB/Sec Performance 65

MojoKid writes: Intel just launched a new NVMe-based solid state drive today dubbed the SSD DC P3608. As the DC in the product name suggests, this drive is designed for the data center and enterprise markets, where large capacities, maximum uptime, and top-end performance are paramount. The Intel SSD DC P3608 is somewhat different than the recent consumer-targeted NVMe PCI Express SSD 750 series, however. This drive essentially packs a pair of NVMe-based SSDs onto a single card, built for high endurance and high performance. There are currently three drives slated for the Intel SSD DC P3608 series, a 1.6TB model, a 3.2TB model, and a monstrous 4TB model. All of the drives feature dual Intel NVMe controllers paired to Intel 20nm MLC HET (High Endurance Technology) NAND flash memory. The 1.6TB drive's specifications list max read 4K IOPS in the 850K range, with sequential reads and writes of 5GB/s and 3GB/s respectively. In the benchmarks, the new SSD DC P3608 offers up just that level of performance as well and is one of the fastest SSDs on the market to date.

Startups Push 3D Printers As Industry Leaders Falter 101

gthuang88 writes: Given the hype around 3D printing, you'd never guess that established leaders like 3D Systems and Stratasys have seen their stock fall by 75 percent in the last year. Big companies like HP, Amazon, and Boeing are getting into the field, too, but startups are still where a lot of the action is. Now Formlabs, a Boston-area startup, has released a new 3D printer that is supposed to be more reliable and higher quality than its predecessors. The device uses stereolithography and is aimed at professional designers and engineers. The question is whether Formlabs---and other startups like MarkForged, Voxel8, and Desktop Metal---can find enough of a market to survive until 3D printing becomes a more mainstream form of manufacturing.

Misusing Ethernet To Kill Computer Infrastructure Dead 303

Some attacks on computers and networks are subtle; think Stuxnet. An anonymous reader writes with a report at Net Security of researcher Grigorios Fragkos's much more direct approach to compromising a network: zap the hardware from an unattended ethernet port with a jolt of electricity. Fragkos, noticing that many networks include links to scattered and unattended ethernet ports, started wondering whether those ports could be used to disrupt the active parts of the network. Turns out they can, and not just the ports they connect to directly: with some experimentation, he came up with a easily carried network zapping device powerful enough to send a spark to other attached devices, too, but not so powerful -- at least in his testing -- to set the building on fire. As he explains: I set up a network switch, and over a 5 meters Ethernet cable I connected an old working laptop. Over a 3 meters cable I connected a network HDD and over a 100 meters cable I connected my “deathray” device. I decided to switch on the device and apply current for exactly 2 seconds. The result was scary and interesting as well. The network switch was burned instantly with a little “tsaf” noise. There was also a buzzing noise coming from the devices plugged-in to the network switch, for a less than a second. There was a tiny flash from the network HDD and the laptop stopped working. It is not the cheapest thing in the world to test this, as it took all of my old hardware I had in my attic to run these experiments. I believe the threat from such a high-voltage attack against a computer infrastructure is real and should be dealt with.

Nintendo Joins Khronos Group 46

jones_supa writes: Gamasutra reports that Nintendo has quietly joined Khronos Group, the consortium managing the OpenGL and Vulkan graphics APIs. The news was brought to Gamasutra's attention by a NeoGaf post, which notes that Nintendo's name was added to the list of Khronos Group contributing members earlier this month. As a Khronos Group contributor Nintendo has full voting rights and is empowered to participate in the group's API development, but it doesn't have a seat on the Khronos Group board and can't participate in the final ratification process of new API specifications.

NVIDIA Announces GeForce GTX 980 GPU For High-End Gaming Notebooks 90

MojoKid writes: NVIDIA is taking things is a slightly different direction today, at the ultra-high-end of their mobile graphics offering, introducing a "new" mobile GPU implementation, that's not really a mobile part at all, the GeForce GTX 980. Notice, there's no "M" on the end of that model number. NVIDIA is betting that the enthusiasts that are most likely to buy a notebook with a GeForce GTX 980 in it are savvy enough to understand the difference. Through some careful binning and optimization of the components that accompany the GPU, including the memory, voltage regulation module, and PCB, NVIDIA was able to take the full desktop GeForce GTX 980 GPU and cram it into mobile form factors. The mobile flavor of the GeForce GTX 980 features selectively binned GPUs that are able to achieve high frequencies at lower-than-typical voltages. And those GPUs are paired to 7Gbps GDDR5 memory and a heat sink with up to 2X the capacity of typical solutions. Notebooks powered by this GPU will be unlocked, and fully overclockable.The performance of the GeForce GTX 980 will also allow notebooks powered by the GPU to push multiple screens or power VR gear. NVIDIA was demoing a GTX 980-powerd Clevo notebook at an event in New York, connected to a trio of 1080P monitors, running GTA V at smooth framerates.

Ask Slashdot: Recommendations For a Reliable Linux Laptop? 237

An anonymous reader writes: I will be looking for a new laptop soon and I'm mostly interested in high reliability and Linux friendliness. I have been using an MSI laptop (with Windows 7) for the last five years as my main workhorse and did not have a single, even minor problem with the hardware nor the OS. It turned out to be a slam-dunk, although I didn't do any particular research before buying it, so I was just lucky. I would like to be more careful this time around, so this is a hardware question: What laptop do you recommend for high reliability with Linux? I will also appreciate any advice on what to avoid and any unfortunate horror stories; I guess we can all learn from those. Anti-recommendations are probably just as valuable, a lesson I learned when an HP laptop I bought (low-end, I admit) turned out to be notoriously fickle when it comes to Linux support. Since our anonymous submitter doesn't specify his budget, it would be good if you specify the price for any specific laptops you recommend.

Video Why Hardware Development Takes Longer in the West Than in China (Video) 65

This was originally going to be a second video about the Popup Factory Demo we talked about last Wednesday. But this section of Tim's lengthy interview with people from the Popup Factory seemed like it would be of broader interest to Slashdot people -- and your coworkers, bosses, and friends who may be involved in device production or prototyping. There are some hard words here, because David Cranor is talking about problems that go way beyond the usual perceived Chinese advantages such as low labor costs and a lack of environmental regulations.

Robots' Next Big Job: Trash Pickup 112

Nerval's Lobster writes: You've heard of self-driving cars, fast-moving robots, and automated homes. Now a research group led by Volvo, a waste-recycling company, and a trio of universities in the United States and Sweden want to bring much of the same technology to bear on a new problem: trash disposal. Specifically, the consortium wants to build a robot that will collect trash-bins from in front of peoples' homes, carry those bins to the nearest waste-disposal truck, and empty them. While that's a pretty simple (although smelly) task for a human being, it's an incredibly complex task for a robot, which will need to evaluate and respond to a wide range of environmental variables while carrying a heavy load. An uneven curb, or an overloaded bin, could spell disaster. Hopefully Volvo's experiment can succeed in a way that some of its other self-driving projects have failed. It's struck me, too, how the trash collection vehicles that come by my house are mostly piloted robots already; the humans are there to deal with problems and control the joysticks, but hydraulic arms lift and empty the garbage containers themselves.

Pokemon Go: What Nintendo Needs To Learn From Ingress 61

An anonymous reader writes: Pokemon Go marks Nintendo's biggest move into mobile yet: the augmented reality mobile game makes use of your location as well as your phone's camera to let you interact with pocket monsters in the real world. It's an audacious idea — with an accompanying trailer — but as one writer points out it will have to nail a lot of different systems to build up an active community in the same that developer Niantic has done for its previous game, Ingress. The author looks at Ingress to see where Nintendo and Niantic may draw inspiration, pointing out that the game's portal modding system could prove a great mechanism for allowing Pokemon evolutions. Expect plenty more Pokemon amiibo to interact with the upcoming wristband, too.

Hardware Projects (and Pranks) That Have Scared Observers 193

In the wake of the arrest of Ahmed Mohamed in Irving, Texas, for carrying to school an electronics project believed by a teacher to look like a bomb, Make Magazine has a timely reminder that Ahmed's project is one of many home-brew efforts that sparked (or could have sparked) extreme reactions. Make's list includes a few from tinkerers -- and pranksters -- that not only looked like bombs, but were fully intended to look that way. ("Back in 1967, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was arrested for building a metronome and storing it in a friend’s locker. He rigged a tin-foil contract sensor to the metronome in the locker, and set up the device to tick faster when his buddy opened the locker.") The article doesn't note the 2007 incident in Boston in which a guerilla advertising campaign for "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" raised fears of a terrorism and led to two arrests. Gawker has a slightly more pointed article about other students who have specifically brought home-assembled clocks to school, without being arrested.

Microsoft and Others Mean Stiff Competition For Apple iPad Pro 279

MojoKid writes: When Microsoft first announced the Surface Pro back in 2012, many Apple fans snickered. Here was Microsoft, releasing a somewhat thick and heavy tablet that not only had a kickstand, but also an odd cover that doubled as a keyboard. And to top things off, the device made use of a stylus. Steve Jobs famously said in 2010, "If you see a stylus, they blew it." But Microsoft forged ahead with the Surface Pro 2, and later with the Surface Pro 3. Not only were customers becoming more aware of the Surface but competitors were also taking note. We've seen Lenovo introduce the ideapad MIIX 700, which incorporates its own kickstand and an Intel Skylake-based Core m7 processor. And most recently, we've seen Apple pull a literal 180 on this design and platform approach, announcing the iPad Pro — a device that features a fabric keyboard cover similar in concept to the Surface Pro and a stylus. Dell and ASUS have also brought compelling offerings to the table as well. However, the big head-to-head competition will no doubt be between the Surface Pro 4, which is set to be unveiled early next month and Apple's iPad Pro when it finally goes on sale.

Google Releases Open Source Plans For Cardboard V2 Virtual Reality Viewer 26

An anonymous reader writes: After revealing an improved version of Cardboard, the super-low cost virtual reality smartphone adapter, Google has now also freely released the detailed design documents, encouraging people to use them for projects ranging from DIY fun to full blown manufacturing. The v2 version of Cardboard is easier to assemble, has larger lenses, a universal input button, and is bigger overall to support larger phones.

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Organize Your Virtual Desktops? 125

hyphenistic writes: As a programmer I find myself switching between multiple projects on a daily basis. Virtual desktops have been a big help in grouping my related programs together. I try to have a virtual desktop open for each project I'm working on. Although I've used Linux in the past my currently preferred desktop OS is Windows 10. For the most part I have found the new virtual desktops to be easy to use. My primary issue (regardless of OS) is that I really don't want my virtual desktops to interact with each other. In the past I have accomplished this with a separate login for each project but that brings the hassle of managing multiple sets of OS and application preferences. Can someone suggest a better method for organizing my virtual desktops?

Microsoft's Satya Nadella Shown Up By Confused Cortana Assistant 201

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was a little embarrassed at a Salesforce conference today when he tested the company's personal virtual assistant during a presentation. Slightly fluffing the question 'Show me my most at-risk opportunities', Nadella was dismayed to find Cortana offering him a Bing page with the search term 'Show me to buy milk at this opportunity'. Two further efforts to discover the exposure of his shares failed to achieve their aim, and eventually the CEO of Microsoft gave up. The fact that he stumbled over his first attempt at the question seemed to floor Cortana, which uses the 'Einstein' AI engine, and which has been more praised for its accurate speech recognition than its ability to understand what an array of interpreted words actually mean.

Intel Kills a Top-of-the-Line Processor 99

itwbennett writes: In June of this year, Intel announced a processor branded as Broadwell-C. Now, the company has confirmed that the part was cancelled but would not give an official reason. Why did Intel kill the Broadwell-C? ITworld's Andy Patrizio speculates that it's a 'combination of increased cost, lower yield and potential product cannibalization' — cannibalization of the company's newly-launched Skylake processor, which the Broadwell-C outperformed.