Earlier this month, an article raised the question of who owns the giant data center being built in Altoona, Iowa. Today, the Des Moines Register has an answer, gleaned from "legislative sources." The giant facility, estimated to cost $1.5 billion when construction is complete, is to house a data center for Facebook. The article lists various attributes the site has to make it attractive for all that data, including access to transportation, extensive network infrastructure, and relatively low risk from natural disasters.
kkleiner writes "Willow Garage spinoff IPI has developed a visual system for its line of robotic arms that enable the machines to perceive a specific object in the midst of random ones. On-site videos show the 'sensing' robots analyzing stacks of random boxes, selecting certain ones, and tossing them to a human handler. The software is also used in an automated box unloader that requires no human supervision."
First time accepted submitter thejezus writes "A spy cabinet has been exposed on a public road in The Hague, the Netherlands (Google translate here). The cabinet was disguised as telecom-cabinet and was detected by the maintenance crew of Ziggo (a triple-play provider) because it was not listed as a property of the company. Upon opening, it was revealed the cabinet contained a camera and UMTS equipment. Later that day, the cabinet disappeared. 1984 much?"
theodp writes "In his latest essay, Rudolf Winestock argues that the movement to replace the mainframe has re-invented the mainframe, as well as the reason why people wanted to get rid of mainframes in the first place. 'The modern server farm looks like those first computer rooms,' Winestock writes. 'Row after row of metal frames (excuse me—racks) bearing computer modules in a room that's packed with cables and extra ventilation ducts. Just like mainframes. Server farms have multiple redundant CPUs, memory, disks, and network connections. Just like mainframes. The rooms that house these server farms are typically not open even to many people in the same organization, but only to dedicated operations teams. Just like mainframes.' And with terabytes of data sitting in servers begging to be monetized by business and scrutinized by government, Winestock warns that the New Boss is worse than the Old Boss. So, what does this mean for the future of fully functional, general purpose, standalone computers? 'Offline computer use frustrates the march of progress,' says Winestock. 'If offline use becomes uncommon, then the great and the good will ask: "What are [you] hiding? Are you making kiddie porn? Laundering money? Spreading hate? Do you want the terrorists to win?"'"
Blug_fred writes "For the first year the Digital Freedom Foundation (ex-SFI) is organizing Hardware Freedom Day. With 66 events worldwide split over 36 countries, they are not yet covering the whole world but it is a good start. So if you have always been wondering about hacking your own stuff, be it a piece of wood or some more complex electronic gears then it is time to join an open door day type of event. Sixty-six events is definitely less that the total number of hackerspaces around the world and you can check for other events happening in a hackerspace near you if none are celebrating today. Hopefully they will join the movement next year."
Ars Technica reviewer Lee Hutchinson says that Dell's Ubuntu-loaded 13" Ultrabook (the product of "Project Sputnik") is "functional," "polished," and (for a Linux laptop) remarkably unremarkable. "It just works," he says. Hutchinson points out that this is a sadly low bar, but nonetheless gives Dell great credit for surpassing it. He finds the Ultrabook's keyboard to be spongy, but has praise for most elements of the hardware itself, right down to (not everyone's favorite) the glossy screen.
An anonymous reader writes "The Blackstone Group has notified Dell's board that it has ended its bid for the company after performing 'due diligence' on Dell's books. The private equity firm gave two reasons for its withdrawal in a letter to the special committee of the board reviewing privatization offers: the 'unprecedented 14 percent market decline in PC volume in the first quarter of 2013' and 'the rapidly eroding financial profile of Dell.' IBM's recently announced intention of withdrawing from the x86 server market may have also spooked investors. Blackstone was one of two outside bidders that emerged after founder Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners announced a deal to take the company private for $24.4 billion. The remaining bidders did not comment on Blackstone's withdrawal; however, the Bloomberg piece notes that Dell's original deal with Silver Lake Partners contains language preventing the latter from backing out."
derekmead writes "Having completed intense review of the aircraft's flight systems and functionality, component reliability, two weeks ago Boeing completed testing on the last item on its list, the plane's battery housing. The FAA on Friday approved the new system. That means the 787, which Boeing has continued to build while new battery solutions were developed, will now be able to resume regular flights as soon as workers are able to carry out an overhaul of the planes that need the upgrade. 'FAA approval clears the way for us and the airlines to begin the process of returning the 787 to flight with continued confidence in the safety and reliability of this game-changing new airplane,' Jim McNerney, CEO of Boeing, said in a news release announcing the approval."
Nate the greatest writes "Rumor has it that the new high resolution E-ink screen on the Kobo Aura HD was originally intended for another ereader maker. Inside sources have told me that B&N had first claim on the initial production run of 300,000 6.8' screens, only B&N decided to pass. If this rumor is true then this was the screen that B&N would have used on their new ereader this year. Can you imagine what a Nook Glow HD would have been like? I think it would be the next best thing to a 7" Android tablet with an E-ink screen. It's a shame we might never see it." While flying cars are still on my wishlist, daylight readable screens for more portable devices are even higher up the list.
FrankPoole writes "According to CRN, IBM is in serious negotiations to sell its low-end x86 server business to Lenovo, which is looking to grow its server revenue. If the deal goes though, it will be the second time in eight years that Big Blue has exited a major hardware business and sold the operation to Lenovo. IBM sold its PC business to Chinese computer maker in 2005."
cylonlover writes "Lockheed Martin has been getting its feet wet in the renewable energy game for some time. In the 1970s it helped build the world's first successful floating Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) system that generated net power, and in 2009 it was awarded a contract to develop an OTEC pilot plant in Hawaii. That project has apparently been canceled but the company has now shifted its OTEC sights westward by teaming up with Hong Kong-based Reignwood Group to co-develop a 10 MW pilot plant that will be built off the coast of southern China."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Facebook has added real-time dashboards for measuring the efficiency of its data centers' internal power and water use. Two dashboards monitor the company's Prineville, Ore. (here) and Forest City, N.C. data centers (here), measuring both the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) and Water Usage Effectiveness of those facilities, in addition to the ambient temperature and humidity. So far, visitors to the Prineville and Forest City dashboards only see a limited snapshot of the Facebook data: the display only covers 24 hours, and is delayed by 2.5 hours on both sites. Facebook also hasn't disclosed how many servers the data represents, which could conceivably be used by competitors to get a sense of the social network's total computing power. The company said that once its data center in Luleå, Sweden, comes online, Facebook will begin adding data from that location, as well. Although Facebook said it provided the information out of a sense of openness, the data—showing PUEs of about 1.09 for both facilities as of press time—is a bit of a boast, as well; as recently as 2011, Uptime Institute said that the average data center's PUE was approximately 1.8. So far, Facebook hasn't said whether it will provide access to the dashboards via an API, so third parties can get a better sense of how Facebook is managing power and water use over time, and through various seasons of the year."
An anonymous reader writes "Google appears to be preparing the launch of a game center for Android with an unknown name. It looks like the new hub will sport a slew of features, including multiplayer support, in-game chat, lobbies, leaderboards, and achievements. The leaked information come to us courtesy of Android Police, which amusingly stumbled on the details by tearing apart the apk file for MyGlass, the Google Glass companion app that launched earlier this week. The feature list was hidden within, though it's not clear if this was done on purpose to build hype or entirely by accident." While on the topic of Google-branded Android hardware speculation, this wishlist at The Full Signal makes some feature-list pleas for the rumored Nexus 5.
adeelarshad82 writes "Marvel's Iron Man 3 will debut in select Japanese theaters later this month employing the 4DX system for the first time. Developed by South Korea's largest movie chain operator, the CJ Group, 4DX-equipped theaters deliver smells, seat motions, and additional effects such as strobe lights and fog, all in sync with events as they appear on the screen. Beyond South Korea, this full immersion approach to cinema is already in operation in countries such as Israel, Mexico, Brazil, and China."
An anonymous reader writes "Contrary to widespread thought, Google Glass will not be an advertising platform: 'Google Inc has lately told app developers that they are not allowed to present ads to Google Glass users and they are also not permitted to sell users' personal and private information for the fulfillment of advertising needs. The internet company has explicitly and openly said that the Glass platform should and must be clean and clear of any ads whatsoever, because the technology is designed to facilitate internet browsing and other related activities, therefore, the featured podium cannot be used to advertise products as it will cause the user experience to diminish.' Seems like Google is going for hardware-only revenue on this one." You're not supposed to resell the Glass hardware, either.
cylonlover writes "It hasn't even been released yet but the Leap Motion could already be considered something of a success – at least with PC manufacturers. Following in the footsteps of Asus, who announced in January that it would bundle the 3D motion controller with some of its PCs, the world's biggest PC manufacturer has joined the gesture control party. But HP has gone one step further, promising to build the Leap Motion technology into some future HP devices." (See this video for scenes of users scrabbling with their hands in empty air, and get ready for more of it.)
Zothecula writes "Since humans are responsible for much of the damage to coral reefs, it makes sense that we should try and help repair them. That's exactly what a team from the Herriot-Watt University's Centre for Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnology is attempting to do with the development of underwater "coralbots." Now anyone can add their support to this worthy effort with the launch of a Kickstarter campaign that will help make the robots a reality."
another random user writes with news that researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are reporting a breakthrough in battery technology. They say: "With currently available power sources, users have had to choose between power and energy. For applications that need a lot of power, like broadcasting a radio signal over a long distance, capacitors can release energy very quickly but can only store a small amount. For applications that need a lot of energy, like playing a radio for a long time, fuel cells and batteries can hold a lot of energy but release it or recharge slowly. ... The new microbatteries offer both power and energy, and by tweaking the structure a bit, the researchers can tune them over a wide range on the power-versus-energy scale (abstract). The batteries owe their high performance to their internal three-dimensional microstructure. Batteries have two key components: the anode (minus side) and cathode (plus side). Building on a novel fast-charging cathode design by materials science and engineering professor Paul Braun’s group, King and Pikul developed a matching anode and then developed a new way to integrate the two components at the microscale to make a complete battery with superior performance. With so much power, the batteries could enable sensors or radio signals that broadcast 30 times farther, or devices 30 times smaller. The batteries are rechargeable and can charge 1,000 times faster than competing technologies – imagine juicing up a credit-card-thin phone in less than a second. In addition to consumer electronics, medical devices, lasers, sensors and other applications could see leaps forward in technology with such power sources available."
Lucas123 writes "In June, Harvard's Clean Energy Project plans to release to solar power developers a list of the top 20,000 organic compounds, any one of which could be used to make cheap, printable photovoltaic cells (PVCs). The CEP uses the computing resources of IBM's World Community Grid for the computational chemistry to find the best molecules for organic photovoltaics culled the list from about 7 million. About 6,000 computers are part of the project at any one time. If successful, the crowdsourcing-style project, which has been crunching data for the past two-plus years, could lead to PVCs that cost about as much as paint to cover a one-meter square wall." The big thing here is that they've discovered a lot of organic molecules that have the potential for 10% or better conversion; roughly equivalent to the current best PV material, and twice as efficient as other available organic PV materials.
judgecorp writes "Samsung Taiwan has been accused of paying to have negative reviews of HTC products put online by students who recommended Samsung devices instead. The Taiwanese Fair Trade Commission is investigating Samsung's advertising agency in Taiwan, and Samsung Taiwan has responded by cancelling all Internet marketing."