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Firefox OS Smartphones Launching, But Will Anyone Buy One? 127

Nerval's Lobster writes "Mozilla and its hardware partners have begun launching the first Firefox OS smartphones, starting with Spain's Telefonica releasing the ZTE Open later this week. A lightweight mobile OS based on HTML5, Firefox OS (once known as 'Boot to Gecko') offers a user interface instantly familiar to anyone who's used Google Android or Apple iOS: in addition to home-screens of individual apps arranged on a grid, features include messaging, email, built-in social-networking, maps, and the Firefox Web browser. There's also Firefox Marketplace, an online storefront of HTML5 apps; early apps include Twitter, Facebook, AccuWeather, and a handful of games. But can Firefox OS make any headway in a mobile-device crowded with options? At this February's Mobile World Congress, Mozilla claimed that some 17 operators around the world have committed to the Firefox OS initiative, including China Unicom, Sprint, MegaFon, and the Telecom Italia Group. But many of those operators released rather ambiguous statements about whether they would launch an actual Firefox OS smartphone. Tony Cripps, principal device analyst at Ovum, wrote in a research note earlier this year that 'the real acid test for Firefox OS and its long-term prospects is the quality of the software itself and the user and developer experiences that it fosters.' In other words, Mozilla and its partners need to produce some quality devices, paired with a variety of spectacular apps. Some early reviews of the ZTE Open weren't good, to put it mildly, with The Verge citing: 'unremarkable hardware' and a 'laggy' OS. But that doesn't mean future phones can't go toe-to-toe against anything else on the market, provided Mozilla and its partners provide solid support and marketing."

Why Apple and Samsung Still Get Along, Behind the Courtroom Battles 125

After suing each other for the last few years in various courts around the world, you'd think that if Apple and Samsung were human beings they would have walked away from their rocky relationship a while back. The Wall Street Journal explains (beside the larger fact that they're both huge companies with complex links, rather than a squabbling couple) why it's so hard for Apple to take up with another supplier. Things are starting to look different, though: "Apple's deal this month to start buying chips from TSMC is a milestone. Apple long wanted to build its own processors, and it bought a chip company in 2008 to begin designing the chips itself. But it continued to rely on Samsung to make them. ... TSMC plans to start mass-producing the chips early next year using advanced '20-nanometer' technology, which makes the chips potentially smaller and more energy-efficient."

RoboCup 2013: Team Water Is Middle Size League World Champion 16

An anonymous reader writes with a bit of sports commentary on the just-concluded RoboCup 2013 soccer matches: "Previously achieved results are no guarantee for the future, as was demonstrated once again in the final match of the Middle Size League. Team Tech United Eindhoven had reached the final unbeaten and without a single goal against them, but the Chinese team Water turned out to be the stronger party in the final." It's hard to stop watching video of soccer-playing robots.

Google Street View Backpack Now Available To Volunteers 108

It's not just for obscure Japanese islands anymore: reader NobleSavage writes with news that "If you're a tourism board, non-profit, university, research organization or other third party who can gain access and help collect imagery of hard to reach places, you can apply to borrow the Trekker and help map the world." You can also help map the world (albeit without the very neat Trekker backpack cam) without an application process via OpenStreetMap. But if you had access to a panoramic camera like this, what places or spaces would you want to capture? I hope there will be street view imagery of Petra, but I don't see any yet.

Jetstream Retrofit Illustrates How Close Modern Planes Are To UAVs 205

cylonlover writes with this Gizmag excerpt: "In April of this year, a BAE Systems Jetstream research aircraft flew from Preston in Lancashire, England, to Inverness, Scotland and back. This 500-mile (805 km) journey wouldn't be worth noting if it weren't for the small detail that its pilot was not on board, but sitting on the ground in Warton, Lancashire and that the plane did most of the flying itself. Even this alteration of a standard commercial prop plane into an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) seems a back page item until you realize that this may herald the biggest revolution in civil aviation since Wilbur Wright won the coin toss at Kitty Hawk in 1903."

Making Your Datacenter Into Less of a Rabid Zombie Power Hog 52

Nerval's Lobster writes "Despite the growing list of innovative (and sometimes expensive) adaptations designed to transform datacenters into slightly-less-active power gluttons, the most effective way to make datacenters more efficient is also the most obvious, according to researchers from Stanford, Berkeley and Northwestern. Using power-efficient hardware, turning power down (or off) when the systems aren't running at high loads, and making sure air-cooling systems are pointed at hot IT equipment—rather than in a random direction—can all do far more than fancier methods for cutting datacenter power, according to Jonathan Koomey, a Stanford researcher who has been instrumental in making power use a hot topic in IT. Many of the most-publicized advances in building "green" datacenters during the past five years have focused on efforts to buy datacenter power from sources that also have very low carbon footprints. But "green" energy buying didn't match the impact of two very basic, obvious things: the overall energy efficiency of the individual pieces of hardware installed in a datacenter, and the level of efficiency with which those systems were configured and managed, Koomey explained in a blog published in conjunction with his and his co-authors' paper on the subject in Nature Climate Change . (The full paper is behind a paywall but Koomey offered to distribute copies free to those contacting him via his personal blog.)"

D-Wave Large-Scale Quantum Chip Validated, Says USC Team 141

An anonymous reader writes "A team of scientists says it has verified that quantum effects are indeed at work in the D-Wave processor, the first commercial quantum optimization computer processor. The team demonstrated that the D-Wave processor behaves in a manner that indicates that quantum mechanics has a functional role in the way it works. The demonstration involved a small subset of the chip's 128 qubits, but in other words, the device appears to be operating as a quantum processor."

DARPA-Funded Software Could Usher In the Era of Open-Source Robotics 17

malachiorion writes "The best thing to come out of the DARPA Robotics Challenge, so far, isn't the lineup of nifty rescue bots being developed by teams around the world, or even Boston Dynamics' incredible Atlas humanoid. It's the pumped-up version of Gazebo, the free, open-source robotics simulation software whose expansion and further development is being funded by DARPA. This article has a look at how the software was used in the recent virtual leg of the competition, as well as how it could change the way robotics R&D is conducted (and create more roboticists, with its low-cost, cloud-based architecture)."
Hardware Hacking

In Praise of Hackerspaces 68

snydeq writes "Open centers of grassroots innovation, hackerspaces offer opportunities to source talent, create goodwill, and push technology forward, writes Open Software Integrators' Phil Rhodes. 'I had the good fortune to be able to attend Maker Faire North Carolina this weekend in Raleigh, N.C. ... At this local Maker Faire, I was struck by the number of hackerspaces represented. The energy, buzz, and activity around their booths was captivating,' Rhodes writes. 'Amid all this buzz, it dawned on me that everyone should be excited about hackerspaces and what they represent, both for their local communities and the world. Although the hackerspace movement is growing rapidly, many people are still not familiar with them, where they are located, or what they do. So let's examine the hackerspace world and explore why you should give a crap about it.'"
Input Devices

Apple Files Patent For New Proprietary Port 282

rwise2112 writes "Apple proposes a solution to multiple port requirements within limited space: the two in one port. The port is described as a 'Combined Input Port,' where two different interfaces could be in one port. The input port includes an outer wall defining a receiving aperture, a substrate positioned within the receiving aperture. One set of contacts is configured to communicate with a first connector and the second set of contacts is configured to communicate with a second connector. Looks like another addition to the special Apple cable lineup."

Microsoft Research Adds 'Mood Detection' To Smartphones 110

angry tapir writes "Researchers at Microsoft Research have produced a prototype software system that can be used on smartphones to infer a user's mood. The 'MoodScope' system produced by researchers uses smartphone usage patterns to determine whether someone is happy, calm, excited, bored or stressed and could potentially add a new dimension to to mobile apps (as well as, as the researchers note, open up a Pandora's Box of privacy issues). The researchers created a low-power background service for iPhones and Android handsets that (with training) can offer reasonable detection of mood and offers and API that app developers could hook into."

Cute Japanese Robots To Be Launched Into Space 90

astroengine writes "This summer, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) plans to launch two amazingly cute yet advanced, white-helmeted robots into space. Then an astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) will attempt to converse with one of them. Robot astronaut Kirobo and backup robot Mirata were created as part of the Kibo Robot Project, a collaboration among Robo Garage, Toyota, the University of Tokyo and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency JAXA. They aim to send the robots with the JAXA mission to the ISS on Aug. 4."
Input Devices

Microsoft XBox One Kinect Will Not Work On Windows PCs 198

symbolset writes "Ars is reporting that Microsoft XBox One Kinect will not work on Windows PCs. It uses a proprietary connector and an adaptor will not be available. If you want Kinect for your PC you will need to buy a 'Kinect for Windows' product. Although the Kinect 1.0 for XBox 360 also had a proprietary connector it came with a USB adaptor for compatibility with older versions of the 360 that lacked the new proprietary port and PC compatibility was quickly hacked up by third parties."

Firsthand Impressions of Now-Delayed NVIDIA SHIELD 74

NVIDIA's Android-based gaming gaming handheld called SHIELD was to start shipping today to customers who had pre-ordered it. Reader MojoKid writes "Unfortunately, in its last round of QA work, NVIDIA uncovered a problem with a third-party component used in SHIELD and will be pushing the launch date out into July. NVIDIA is, however, allowing some members of the press to talk a bit about their experiences with a couple of Tegra 4-optimized games — namely Real Boxing and Blood Sword: Sword of Ruin — and also about an AR Drone controlled by SHIELD with a bird's eye view. The AR Drone streams video from its on-board HD camera to the SHIELD device as you fly. Just launching the thing high into the air and peering into trees or over the houses in the neighborhood is really cool."

Review: Oracle Database 12c 147

snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Riyaj Shamsudeen offers an in-depth look at Oracle Database 12c, which he calls a 'true cloud database,' bringing a new level of efficiency and ease to database consolidation. 'In development for roughly four years, Oracle Database 12c introduces so many important new capabilities in so many areas — database consolidation, query optimization, performance tuning, high availability, partitioning, backup and recovery — that even a lengthy review has to cut corners. Nevertheless, in addition to covering the big ticket items, I'll give a number of the lesser enhancements their due,' writes Riyaj Shamsudeen. 'Having worked with the beta for many months, I can tell you that the quality of software is also impressive, starting with a smooth RAC cluster installation. As with any new software release, I did encounter a few minor bugs. Hopefully these have been resolved in the production release that arrived yesterday.'"

Foxconn's Robot Workforce Now 20,000 Strong 213

itwbennett writes "Slashdot readers will recall Foxconn's plans to staff its factories with an army of 1 million robot workers to offset rising labor costs. Well, now we have an update on those plans. Speaking at the company's shareholder meeting on Wednesday, Foxconn CEO Terry Gou said that there are 20,000 robotic machines currently at work in Foxconn factories. Ultimately, these robots will replace human assembly workers and 'our [human] workers will then become technicians and engineers,' Gou said."

Eye Surgery By Magnetically Guided Microbots Moves Toward Clinical Trials 47

Sabine Hauert writes "According to robotics researcher Simone Schürle from ETH Zurich's Multi-Scale Robotics Lab (MSRL), the OctoMag is a magnetic manipulation system that uses electromagnetic coils to wirelessly guide micro-robots for ophthalmic surgery. With this system, mobility experiments were conducted in which a micro-robot with a diameter of 285 um (about four times the width of a hair) was navigated reliably through the eye of a rabbit, demonstrating the feasibility of using this technology in surgical applications."

HP Confirms Backdoor In StoreOnce Backup Products 45

wiredmikey writes "Security response personnel at HP are 'actively working on a fix' for a potentially dangerous backdoor in older versions of its StoreOnce backup product line. The company's confirmation of what it describes as a 'potential security issue' follows the public disclosure that malicious hackers can use SSH access to perform full remote compromise of HP's StoreOnce backup systems. The SHA1 hash for the password was also published, putting pressure on HP to get a fix ready for affected customers. SecurityWeek has confirmed that it is relatively trivial to brute-force the hash to obtain the seven-character password. The HP StoreOnce product, previously known as HP D2D, provides disk backup and recovery to small- to midsize businesses, large enterprises, remote offices and cloud service providers."

Cray X-MP Simulator Resurrects Piece of Computer History 55

An anonymous reader writes "If you have a fascination with old supercomputers, like I do, this project might tickle your interest: A functional simulation of a Cray X-MP supercomputer, which can boot to its old batch operating system, called COS. It's complete with hard drive and tape simulation (no punch card readers, sorry) and consoles. Source code and binaries are available. You can also read about the journey that got me there, like recovering the OS image from a 30 year old hard drive or reverse-engineering CRAY machine code to understand undocumented tape drive operation and disk file-systems."
Open Source

Rise of the ARM Clones 78

An anonymous reader writes "Clones of the ARM processor intellectual property are again becoming available for free from the open source hardware community. ARM was rigorous in shutting cloners down in the past but the clones are rising again under codenames Amber, Storm and Atlas, albeit of older instruction set architectures."