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Power

Fusion Reactor Concept Could Be Cheaper Than Coal 315

Posted by samzenpus
from the some-day-soon dept.
vinces99 writes Fusion energy almost sounds too good to be true – zero greenhouse gas emissions, no long-lived radioactive waste, a nearly unlimited fuel supply. Perhaps the biggest roadblock to adopting fusion energy is that the economics haven't penciled out. Fusion power designs aren't cheap enough to outperform systems that use fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. University of Washington engineers hope to change that. They have designed a concept for a fusion reactor that, when scaled up to the size of a large electrical power plant, would rival costs for a new coal-fired plant with similar electrical output. The team published its reactor design and cost-analysis findings last spring and will present results Oct. 17 at the International Atomic Energy Agency's Fusion Energy Conference in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Input Devices

The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made 304

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-to-irritate-coworkers dept.
HughPickens.com writes Adi Robertson argues that IBM's Model M keyboard, soon to turn 30 is still the only keyboard worth using for many people. Introduced in 1985 as part of the IBM 3161 terminal, the Model M was initially called the "IBM Enhanced Keyboard." A PC-compatible version appeared the following spring, and it officially became standard with the IBM Personal System / 2 in 1987. The layout of the Model M has been around so long that today it's simply taken for granted, but the keyboard's descendants have jettisoned one of the Model M's most iconic features — "buckling springs," designed to provide auditory and tactile feedback to the keyboard operator. "Model M owners sometimes ruefully post stories of spouses and coworkers who can't stand the incessant chatter. But fans say the springs' resistance and their audible "click" make it clear when a keypress is registered, reducing errors," writes Robertson. "Maybe more importantly, typing on the Model M is a special, tangible experience. Much like on a typewriter, the sharp click gives every letter a physical presence."

According to Robertson, the Model M is an artifact from a time when high-end computing was still the province of industry, not pleasure. But while today's manufacturers have long since abandoned the concept of durability and longevity, refurbished Model Ms are still available from aficionados like Brandon Ermita, a Princeton University IT manager who recovers them from supply depots and recycling centers and sells them through his site, ClickyKeyboards. "For the very few that still appreciate the tactile feel of a typewriter-based computer keyboard and can still appreciate the simplicity of black letters on white keys, one can still seek out and own an original IBM model M keyboard — a little piece of early computing history," says Ermita. As one Reddit user recently commented, "Those bastards are the ORIGINAL gaming keyboards. No matter how much you abuse it, you'll die before it does.""
Graphics

NVIDIA Launches Mobile Maxwell GeForce GTX 980M and GTX 970M Notebook Graphics 29

Posted by Soulskill
from the where-efficiency-is-king dept.
MojoKid writes: When Nvidia launched their new GeForce GTX 980 and 970 last month, it was obvious that these cards would be coming to mobile sooner rather than later. The significant increase that Maxwell offers in performance-per-watt means that these GPUs should shine in mobile contexts, maybe even more-so than in desktop. Today, Nvidia is unveiling two new mobile GPUs — the GeForce GTX 980M and 970M. Both notebook graphics engines are based on Maxwell's 28nm architecture, and both are trimmed slightly from the full desktop implementation. The GTX 980M is a 1536-core chip (just like the GTX 680 / 680M) while the GTX 970 will pack 1280 cores. Clock speeds are 1038MHz base for the GTX 980M and 924MHz for the GTX 970M, which is significantly faster than the previous gen GTX 680M's launch speeds. The 980M will carry up to 4GB of RAM, while the 970M will offer 3GB and a smaller memory bus.

From eyeballing relative performance expectations, the GTX 970M should be well-suited to 1080p or below at high detail levels, while the GTX 980M should be capable of ultra detail at 1080p or higher resolutions. Maxwell's better efficiency means that it should offer a significant performance improvement over mobile Kepler, even with the same number of cores. Also with this launch Nvidia is introducing "Battery Boost" as a solution for games with less demanding graphics, where battery life can be extended by governing clock speeds to maintain playable frames, without overpower the GPU at higher than needed frame rates.
Displays

Sharp Developing LCD Screens In Almost Any Shape 60

Posted by Soulskill
from the looking-forward-to-my-dodecahedral-computer-display dept.
jfruh writes: Traditional LCD panels are rectangular because the tiny chips that drive each pixel of the display are fitted along the edge of the glass panel on which the screen is made. But in a new breed of screens from Sharp, the chips are embedded between the pixels so that means a lot more freedom in screen shape: only one edge of the screen needs to be a straight line, which could give rise to a host of new applications.
AI

One In Three Jobs Will Be Taken By Software Or Robots By 2025, Says Gartner 405

Posted by Soulskill
from the they-took-our-jobs! dept.
dcblogs writes: "Gartner predicts one in three jobs will be converted to software, robots and smart machines by 2025," said Peter Sondergaard, Gartner's research director at its big Orlando conference. "New digital businesses require less labor; machines will make sense of data faster than humans can," he said. Smart machines are an emerging "super class" of technologies that perform a wide variety of work, both the physical and the intellectual kind. Machines, for instance, have been grading multiple choice test for years, but now they are grading essays and unstructured text. This cognitive capability in software will extend to other areas, including financial analysis, medical diagnostics and data analytic jobs of all sorts, says Gartner. "Knowledge work will be automated."
Earth

Living On a Carbon Budget: The End of Recreation As We Know It? 652

Posted by samzenpus
from the cutting-down dept.
Lasrick writes Dawn Stover looks at unrealistic expectations and the distribution of limited energy resources: 'This is a question that should move from the fringes of the energy debate to its very heart. Economists and energy experts shy away from issues of equity and morality, but climate change and environmental justice are inseparable: It's impossible to talk intelligently about climate without discussing how to distribute limited energy resources. It's highly unlikely that the world can safely produce almost five times as much electricity by 2035 as it does now—which is what it would take to provide everyone with a circa-2010 American standard of living, according to a calculation by University of Colorado environmental studies professor Roger Pielke Jr. The sooner policy makers accept this reality, the sooner they can get to work on a global solution that meets everyone's needs. First, though, they need to understand the difference between needs and wants.' Not something most people even think about.
Displays

WSJ: Google X Display Team Works Toward Bezel-Free Modular Displays 56

Posted by timothy
from the mary-lou-can-do-no-wrong dept.
The Wall Street Journal reports in a paywalled article that a team under Pixel Qi founder and OLPC co-founder Mary Lou Jepsen at Google's skunkwork labs Google X is working on modular video displays that could be expanded by snapping them together "like Lego." Ars Technica, TechSpot, The Verge, and several others summarize the claims made by "three people familiar with the project"; here's a snippet from TechSpot's version: Even in the home and office, the use of multiple displays isn’t uncommon but just like with larger implementations often used for advertising purposes, screen bezels are always a problem. Bezels are less visible from a distance but up close, they pretty much ruin the experience. The scope and target audience for the project is unclear at this hour as we are told the project is currently in an early stage. One of the biggest challenges is figuring out how to stitch images together across screens, both electronically and through software.
Transportation

A Garbage Truck That Would Make Elon Musk Proud 174

Posted by Soulskill
from the does-it-have-rockets? dept.
curtwoodward writes: Ian Wright knows how to build high-performance electric cars: he was a co-founder at Tesla Motors and built the X1, a street-legal all-electric car that can go from zero to 60 in 2.9 seconds. But he only cares about trucks now — in fact, boring old garbage trucks and delivery trucks are his favorite. Why? To disrupt the auto industry with electrification, EV makers should target the biggest gas (and diesel) guzzlers. His new powertrain is very high tech, combining advanced electric motors with an onboard turbine that acts as a generator when batteries run low.
Displays

Experiment Shows Stylized Rendering Enhances Presence In Immersive AR 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the looks-like-the-real-thing dept.
An anonymous reader writes William Steptoe, a senior researcher in the Virtual Environments and Computer Graphics group at University College London, published a paper (PDF) detailing experiments dealing with the seamless integration of virtual objects into a real scene. Participants were tested to see if they could correctly identify which objects in the scene were real or virtual. With standard rendering, participants were able to correctly guess 73% of the time. Once a stylized rendering outline was applied, accuracy dropped to 56% (around change) and even further to 38% as the stylized rendering was increased. Less accuracy means users were less able to tell the difference between real and virtual objects. Steptoe says that this blurring of real and virtual can increase 'presence', the feeling of being truly present in another space, in immersive augmented reality applications.
Networking

Hacking USB Firmware 97

Posted by timothy
from the fun-profit-what's-the-difference dept.
An anonymous reader writes Now the NSA isn't the only one who can hack your USB firmware: "In a talk at the Derbycon hacker conference in Louisville, Kentucky last week, researchers Adam Caudill and Brandon Wilson showed that they've reverse engineered the same USB firmware as Nohl's SR Labs, reproducing some of Nohl's BadUSB tricks. And unlike Nohl, the hacker pair has also published the code for those attacks on Github, raising the stakes for USB makers to either fix the problem or leave hundreds of millions of users vulnerable." Personally, I always thought it was insane that USB drives don't come with physical write-protect switches to keep them from being infected by malware. (More on BadUSB here.)
Australia

How Hackers Accidentally Sold a Pre-Release XBox One To the FBI 67

Posted by timothy
from the we-call-this-the-low-priority-unit dept.
SpacemanukBEJY.53u (3309653) writes Earlier this week, an indictment was unsealed outlining a long list of charges against a group of men that stole intellectual property from gaming companies such as Epic Games, Valve, Activision and Microsoft. An Australian member of the group, Dylan Wheeler, describes how it was betrayed by an informant working for the FBI, which bought a hardware mockup of an Xbox One that the group built using source code stolen from Microsoft's Game Developer Network Portal. The device, which the FBI paid $5,000 for, was supposed to be sent to the Seychelles, but never arrived, which indicated the hacking collective had a mole.
Data Storage

Bangladesh Considers Building World's 5th-largest Data Center In Earthquake Zone 65

Posted by samzenpus
from the whole-lot-of-shaking-going-on dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news about a government plan to build a Tier IV data center in an earthquake prone district of Bangladesh. The Bangladesh Ministry of Information is considering the establishment of a Tier 4 data centre in Kaliakair, in the Gazipur region, an ambitious build which would constitute the fifth largest data centre in the world, if completed. And if it survives – the site planned for the project is prone to earthquakes. Earthquake activity in the environs is discouraging, with one nearby earthquake seven months ago in Ranir Bazar (3.8), and no less than ten within the same tectonic zone over the last three years, the largest of which measured 4.5 on the Richter scale.
Crime

DARPA Technology Could Uncover Counterfeit Microchips 35

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-scan dept.
coondoggie writes The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said this week one of its contractors, working on one of the agency's anti-counterfeit projects has developed and deployed what it calls an Advanced Scanning Optical Microscope that can scan integrated circuits by using an extremely narrow infrared laser beam, to probe microelectronic circuits at nanometer levels, revealing information about chip construction as well as the function of circuits at the transistor level.
Government

The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine 651

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.
An anonymous reader writes: You may recall Cody Wilson as the man behind the world's first 3D-printed gun. He built a company behind the ideals of DIY gun-making, and now he's come back with another device: the "Ghost Gunner," a CNC mill designed to create the lower receiver of an AR-15 rifle. "That simple chunk of metal has become the epicenter of a gun control firestorm. A lower receiver is the body of the gun that connects its stock, barrel, magazine and other parts. As such, it's also the rifle's most regulated element. Mill your own lower receiver at home, however, and you can order the rest of the parts from online gun shops, creating a semi-automatic weapon with no serial number, obtained with no background check, no waiting period or other regulatory hurdles. Some gun control advocates call it a "ghost gun." Selling that untraceable gun body is illegal, but no law prevents you from making one." Wilson's goal is still to render government gun regulation useless, even as debate rages on banning this kind of manufacturing.
Hardware Hacking

Arducorder, Next Open Source Science Tricorder-like Device, Nears Completion 56

Posted by Soulskill
from the scanning-for-life-forms dept.
upontheturtlesback writes: The Arducorder Mini, an Arduino-compatible pocket-sized handheld sensing tool and the next in line of open source science tricorder-like devices designed by Dr. Peter Jansen, is nearing completion. Where the previous models have included about a dozen sensors spanning atmospheric, electromagnetic, and spatial readings, an exciting video of the new prototype shows this model includes sensors for spectroscopy, low-resolution thermal imaging, and radiation sensing. The development is open with the project build logs and most recent source schematics, board layouts, and firmware available on github. This project is an entry in the Hack a Day Prize for a trip to space.
Build

Joey Hudy: From High School Kid to Celebrity Maker to Intel Intern (Video) 32

Posted by Roblimo
from the did-you-do-anything-this-slick-in-high-school? dept.
Timothy Lord met Joey Hudy at an Intel Dev Forum. Joey is possibly the youngest intern Intel has ever hired, but he's made a big splash in the 'Maker world', so having him around is probably worth it for the PR value alone. Joey is obviously pretty bright -- he's been called one of the 10 smartest kids in the world -- but let's face it: he's had a lot of luck to help him along. Not many high school kids get invited to White House science fairs and demonstrate their air cannons to the president. (Alternate Video Link)
HP

HP Introduces Sub-$100 Windows Tablet 182

Posted by timothy
from the race-to-bottom dept.
jfruh writes While Windows-based tablets haven't exactly set the world on fire, Microsoft hasn't given up on them, and its hardware partners haven't either. HP has announced a series of Windows tablets, with the 7-inch low-end model, the Stream 7, priced at $99. The Stream brand is also being used for low-priced laptops intended to compete with Chromebooks (which HP also sells). All are running Intel chips and full Windows, not Windows RT.
Media

Matchstick and Mozilla Take On Google's Chromecast With $25 Firefox OS Dongle 106

Posted by timothy
from the what-can-it-slurp dept.
An anonymous reader writes Matchstick and Mozilla today announced their open-source take on the Chromecast: a $25 Firefox OS-powered HDMI dongle. The streaming Internet and media stick will be available first through Kickstarter, in the hopes to drive down the price tag. Jack Chang, Matchstick General Manager in the US, described the device to me as "essentially an open Chromecast." He explained that while the MSRP is $25 (Google's Chromecast retails for $35), the Kickstarter campaign is offering a regular price of $18, and an early bird price of $12.
Power

Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power 488

Posted by Soulskill
from the fortunate-sun dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Incremental improvements have been slowly but surely pushing solar power toward mainstream viability for a few decades now. It's getting to the point where the established utilities are worried about the financial hit they're likely to take — and they're working to prevent it. "These solar households are now buying less and less electricity, but the utilities still have to manage the costs of connecting them to the grid. Indeed, a new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory argues that this trend could put utilities in dire financial straits. If rooftop solar were to grab 10 percent of the market over the next decade, utility earnings could decline as much as 41 percent." The utilities are throwing their weight behind political groups seeking to end subsidies for solar and make "net metering" policies go away. Studies suggest that if solar adoption continues growing at its current rate, incumbents will be forced to raise their prices, which will only persuade more people to switch to solar (PDF).
Microsoft

Microsoft Revives Its Hardware Conference 47

Posted by samzenpus
from the back-by-popular-demand dept.
jfruh writes Microsoft's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, or WinHEC, was an annual staple of the '90s and '00s: every year, execs from Redmond would tell OEMs what to expect when it came to Windows servers and PCs. The conference was wrapped with software into Build in 2009, but now it's being revived to deal with not just computers but also the tablets and cell phone Microsoft has found itself in the business of selling and even making. It's also being moved from the U.S. to China, as an acknowledgment of where the heart of the tech hardware business is now.

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