mdsolar writes "'A U.N. nuclear watchdog team said Japan may need longer than the projected 40 years to decommission the Fukushima power plant and urged Tepco to improve stability at the facility. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency team, Juan Carlos Lentijo, said Monday that damage at the nuclear plant is so complex that it is impossible to predict how long the cleanup may last.' Meanwhile, Gregory B. Jaczko, former Chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said that all 104 nuclear power reactors now in operation in the United States have a safety problem that cannot be fixed and they should be replaced with newer technology."
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An anonymous reader writes "BitTorrent on Tuesday announced it has released its file synchronization tool Sync into open alpha. You can download the latest version now for Windows, Mac, and Linux over at labs.bittorrent.com. The company first announced its Sync software back in January, explaining at the time that it uses peer-to-peer technology to synchronize personal files across multiple computers and devices."
thecarchik writes "Most advocates and industry analysts expect lithium-ion batteries to dominate electric-car energy storage for the rest of this decade. But is Tesla Motors planning to add a new type of battery to increase the range of its electric cars? Tesla has filed for eight separate patents on uses of metal-air battery technology (for example, #20120041625). The metals covered for use in the metal-air battery are aluminum, iron, lithium, magnesium, vanadium, and zinc. Metal-air batteries, which slowly consume their anodes to give off energy, hit the news last month when Israeli startup Phinergy demonstrated its prototype battery and let reporters drive a test vehicle fitted with the energy-storage device. Mounted in a subcompact demonstration car, Phinergy's aluminum-air battery provides 1,000 miles of range, it said, and requires refills of distilled water (which acts as electrolyte in the cells) about every 200 miles."
kkleiner writes "Recently developed noodle-making robots have now been put into operation in over 3,000 restaurants in China. Invented by a noodle restaurant owner, each unibrow-sporting robot currently costs 10,000 yuan ($1,600), which is only three months wages for an equivalent human noodle cook. As the cost of the robot continues to drop, more noodle shops are bound to displace human workers for the tirelessly working cheaper robots."
DeviceGuru tipped us to the release of the latest single board computer from Beagle Board. It's been two years since the previous BeagleBone was released, and today they've released the BeagleBone Black (including full hardware schematics) at a price competitive with the Raspberry Pi ($10 more, but it comes with a power brick). Powered by a Cortex-A8, it has 512M of DDR3 RAM, 2G of onboard eMMC, two blocks of 46 I/O pins, a pair of 32-bit DSPs, the usual USB host/client ports, Ethernet, and micro-HDMI (a much requested feature). Support is provided for Ångstrom GNU/Linux, Ubuntu, and Android out of the box. Linux Gizmos reports where some of the cost savings came from: "According to BeagleBoard.org cofounder Jason Kridner, interviewed in a Linux.com report today, cost savings also came from removing the default serial port as well as USB-to-serial and USB-to-JTAG interfaces, and including a cheaper single-purpose USB cable. (Three serial interfaces are available via the expansion headers.) In addition, the power expansion header for battery and backlight has been removed."
derekmead writes "According to a new study (PDF) from Pew Charitable Trusts, China was the world leader in clean energy investment in 2012. The U.S., meanwhile, saw its grip loosen on many of the clean energy technologies it developed. According to the research, total clean energy investment totaled $269 billion worldwide last year, a decline from 2011's record high of $302 billion. However, clean energy investment in the Asia and Oceania markets grew by 16 percent to $101 billion. In terms of investment — which is an indicator that a country or region has offered compelling projects, struck a good regulatory balance, and has a strong economy — that makes Asia the epicenter of the global clean energy market. The Pew researchers thus labeled the U.S. clean energy sector as 'underperforming,' largely for a trio of reasons. First, China's boom and manufacturing prowess has taken investment away from the U.S.. Second, the U.S. regulatory environment for clean energy is horrifically unstable (as is the regulatory environment as a whole) as politicians battle over budget rhetoric. Finally, the U.S. has failed to capitalize on its innovation prowess and develop its clean energy manufacturing sector to its full potential." They do not count nuclear as clean, but including nuclear would only widen China's lead over everyone else (they almost have their first new AP1000 ready and are building lots more).
illiteratehack writes "10 years ago AMD released its first Opteron processor, the first 64-bit x86 processor. The firm's 64-bit 'extensions' allowed the chip to run existing 32-bit x86 code in a bid to avoid the problems faced by Intel's Itanium processor. However AMD suffered from a lack of native 64-bit software support, with Microsoft's Windows XP 64-bit edition severely hampering its adoption in the workstation market." But it worked out in the end.
coondoggie writes "IBM today said its researchers are developing a solar power system that concentrates solar radiation 2,000 times by using a human-blood supply modeled way of cooling and converting 80% of Sun's heat into useful energy. IBM says the system can also desalinate water and cool air in sunny, remote locations where such systems are often in short supply."
Lucas123 writes "While news stories have focused on the upcoming jump from 5Gbps to 10Gbps for USB SuperSpeed, less talked about has been the fact that it will also increase charging capabilities from 10W to 100W, meaning you'll be able to charge your laptop, monitor, even a television using a USB cord. Along with USB, the Thunderbolt peripheral interconnect will also be doubling it throughput thanks to a new controller chip, in its case from 10Gbps to 20Gbps. As with USB SuperSpeed, Thunderbolt's bandwidth increase is considered an evolutionary step, but the power transfer increase is being considered revolutionary, according to Jeff Ravencraft, president of the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF). 'This is going to change the way computers, peripheral devices and even HDTVs will not only consume but deliver power,' Ravencraft said. 'You can have an HDTV with a USB hub built into it where not only can you exchange data and audio/video, but you can charge all your devices from it.'"
MojoKid writes "The concept of gaming accessories may have just been taken to a whole new level. A company called Virtuix is developing the Omni, which is essentially a multidirectional treadmill that its creators call 'a natural motion interface for virtual reality applications.' The company posted a video showing someone playing Team Fortress 2 and using the Omni along with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. You can see in the video how much running and movement this fellow performs. With something like the Omni in your living room, you'd likely get into pretty good shape in no time. Instead of Doritos and Mountain Dew, folks might have to start slamming back Power Bars and Gatorade for all night gaming sessions."
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."