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Power

The Aging of Our Nuclear Power Plants Is Not So Graceful 436

Posted by samzenpus
from the tests-of-time dept.
Lasrick writes "This is a very thoughtful article on nuclear power plant aging: how operators use early retirement of plants to extract concessions from rate-payers and a discussion on how California's 'forward-looking planning process' has probably mitigated disruption from the closing of San Onofre."
Education

Surgeon Uses Google Glass and iPad To Capture Live Procedure and Stream It 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the cool-yet-gross dept.
MojoKid writes "Google (and many other tech manufacturers lately), have been evangelizing the mantra that technology is here to enhance and improve our lives, not get in the way; in the truest sense to 'serve humanity.' Recent events and breakthroughs in the healthcare industry, which make use of leading-edge technology, illustrate this vision better than any marketing or ad campaign could ever possibly hope to. Dr. Rafael Grossman strapped on his Google Glass eyewear to become the first 'Glass Explorer Surgeon.' The procedure involved is called Gastrostomy, a process by which a surgeon inserts a feeding tube into a patient's abdomen. In this case, the good doctor performed the procedure endoscopically, such that he was able to display the entire procedure and the view of it directly as it was being performed. The opportunities for remote medical consultation, mentoring and even real-time guidance are obvious with the sort of technology that products like Google Glass bring to the table. It's always nice to hear stories of how not only 'quality of life' is improved but how lives are actually saved as a result of these magnificent inventions we create."
Microsoft

Server Farms Flourish In Iowa: Microsoft Plows $700M More Into Des Moines 103

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
1sockchuck writes "A big chunk of the Azure cloud will be living on the plains of Iowa. Microsoft will invest another $700 million to expand its Iowa data center campus near Des Moines, marking the third major server farm for the state this year. Facebook recently announced a new data center in Altoona. The same day, Google said it would put another $400 million into its facility in Council Bluffs. Why Iowa? Aggressive tax incentives and a central location to bridge the distance between these companies' east and west coast server footprints."
United Kingdom

65 Years Ago, Manchester's 'Baby' Ran Electronically Stored Program 103

Posted by timothy
from the blue-sapphire-anniversary-if-you're-wondering dept.
hypnosec writes that the first ever practical implementation of the stored program concept took place 65 years ago, "as the Manchester Small Scale Experimental Machine aka 'Baby' became the world's first computer to run an electronically stored program on June 21, 1948. The 'Baby' was developed by Frederic C. Williams, Tom Kilburn and Geoff Tootill at the University of Manchester. 'Baby' served as a testbed for the experimental Williams-Kilburn tube – a cathode ray tube that was used to store binary digits, aka bits. The reason this became a milestone in computing history was that up until 'Baby' ran the first electronically stored program, there was no means of storing and accessing this information in a cost-effective and flexible way."
Businesses

Best Buy Recalls MacBook Pro Batteries 56

Posted by Soulskill
from the to-be-rebranded-as-iGrills dept.
redletterdave writes "A recent line of complaints from MacBook Pro users forced big box retailer Best Buy to finally issue a recall notice for 5,100 MacBook Pro replacement batteries after the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advised customers to 'immediately stop using the recalled battery.' Both the CPSC and Best Buy received 13 individual instances of the MacBook Pro battery catching fire, with one incident resulting in 'a serious burn to a consumer's leg.'"
Input Devices

A Simple DIY Game Controller For People With Physical Challenges 36

Posted by Soulskill
from the accessibility-is-king dept.
capedgirardeau writes "Caleb Kraft of the well-known Hack-A-Day site noticed that game controllers and alternate keyboards for people with physical challenges were very expensive. Simple switches for buttons that could be made for a few dollars were running $60 or $70 apiece. Working with a young man he knew who loves gaming and has muscular dystrophy, Caleb created a do-it-yourself controller for people with physical challenges using a 3-D printer, a super-cheap micro-controller board and some simple keyboard emulation software. He is freely releasing all the 3-D printer files and tutorials to make his and other controllers on a new site, The Controller Project. He also encourages people to check out The AbleGamers Foundation"
Transportation

Tesla To Build Its Own Battery-Swap Stations 377

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-somebody-please-make-this-for-phone-batteries dept.
New submitter lfp98 writes "Just a month after the collapse of independent battery-swap company Better Place, the uniquely successful maker of luxury electric cars, Tesla, has announced it will provide its own battery-swap capability for its Model S sedans. The first stations will be built adjacent to Tesla's charging stations on the SF-to-LA route, and a swap will take no longer than filling a gas tank. From the article: 'A battery pack swap will cost between $60 and $80, about the same as filling up a 15-gallon gas tank,' Musk said. 'Drivers who choose to swap must reclaim their original battery on their return trip or pay the difference in cost for the new pack.'"
Data Storage

New Technique For Optical Storage Claims 1 Petabyte On a Single DVD 182

Posted by samzenpus
from the that's-a-long-movie dept.
melios writes "Using a two-light-beam method a company claims to have overcome Abbe's Law to dramatically increase the storage density for optical media, to the 9 nm scale. From the article: 'The technique is also cost-effective and portable, as only conventional optical and laser elements are used, and allows for the development of optical data storage with long life and low energy consumption, which could be an ideal platform for a Big Data centre.'"
Businesses

A Look At Quantum Computer Manufacturer D-Wave and Its Founder 96

Posted by samzenpus
from the road-ahead dept.
First time accepted submitter tpjunkie writes "Many slashdot readers will remember D-wave's announcement in 2007 of its quantum computer, an announcement met with skepticism and a good amount of scorn. However, today the company has sold quantum computers to such companies as Lockheed Martin and Google, and their computers have gone from a handful of qubits to 512 in their most recent offerings. Nature has a story including an interview with the company's founder Geordi Rose, and a look at where the company is headed and some of the difficulties it has overcome."
Firefox

Foxconn Betting Big On Firefox OS 94

Posted by timothy
from the ok-but-where's-the-ice-weasel-phone? dept.
jfruh writes "Foxconn is firmly identified in the public mind as the company that manufactures iPhones and iPads. But the company is looking to forge its own identity, and sees Firefox OS as the means to do so. To that end, Foxconn is hiring thousands of developers to help work on the open source phone OS and Foxconn's own suite of cloud services."
Displays

Ask Slashdot: Does LED Backlight PWM Drive You Crazy? 532

Posted by timothy
from the it's-how-they-send-messages dept.
jones_supa writes "I would like to raise some discussion about a hardware issue that has increasingly started to bug me: backlight flicker, from which many LED-backlit monitors suffer. As you might know, the backlight and its dimming is driven by a pulse width modulated square wave, essentially flicking the LEDs on and off rapidly. Back in the CRT days a 100Hz picture was deluxe, due to the long afterglow of the display phosphor. LEDs, however, shut off immediately and my watering eyes and headache tell that we should be using frequencies in multiple kHz there. Unfortunately we too often fall behind that. As one spark of hope, the display review site PRAD has already started to include backlight signal captures to help assessing the problem. However with laptops and various mobile gadgets, finding this kind of information is practically impossible. This issue sort of lingers in the background but likely impacts the well-being of many, and certainly deserves more attention." So do LEDs bother your eyes? I think CRTs gave me headaches far more often than has any form of flat panel display, at least partly because of the whining noise that CRTs emit.
Handhelds

Next SurfaceRT To Come With Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, LTE 157

Posted by timothy
from the market-is-a-harsh-mistress dept.
recoiledsnake writes "Following up on our previous discussion of Microsoft selling discounted SurfaceRT tablets to schools (which fueled speculation about the future of Surface RT), Bloomberg is now reporting that Microsoft is fast at work on the next Surface RT which will replace the current Tegra 3 with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chip which has stellar benchmarks against the likes of the upcoming Tegra 4, Apple A6X, and Exynos processors, especially in the GPU and graphics department. Since the SoC comes with 3g/LTE, this might be the first Surface to support integrated cellular data. There are also indications that there could be an 8" version, and that the new versions might be revealed alongside the Windows 8.1 preview bits at the upcoming BUILD conference, starting on June 26."
Star Wars Prequels

The Plight of Star Wars Droids 245

Posted by Soulskill
from the george-lucas-doesn't-care-about-metal-people dept.
malachiorion writes "Does George Lucas hate metal people? I know, sounds like standard click-bait, but I think I present a relatively troll-free argument in the piece I wrote for Slate. We stuck to the Star Wars canon, pointing out the relatively grim state of affairs for droid rights, and the lack of any real sympathy for their plight from the heroes, or, it would seem, George Lucas. C-3PO is more correct than he might realize, when the says that droids 'seem to be made to suffer.'"
Google

Google Patents Image-Capturing Walking Sticks 117

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the all-the-better-to-see-you-with dept.
theodp writes "GeekWire reports that Google has patented an image-capturing walking stick, which can boldly go where no Google Street View Car can. The walking stick has embedded cameras and location sensors, and a switch at the bottom that causes the device to snap pictures whenever the stick hits the ground. The patent also covers using canes and crutches in a similar fashion."
Robotics

Cat-like Robot Runs Like the Wind 69

Posted by Soulskill
from the played-by-peter-weller's-cat dept.
DeviceGuru writes "Researchers at the Biorob lab at Switzerland's École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), have announced a cat-like robot that is claimed to be the fastest quadruped robot under 30 kilograms. The Cheetah-cub Robot, which runs real-time Xenomai Linux on an x86-based RoBoard robot control board, mimics the biomechanics of a cat to increase the speed and stability of it quadroped legs, helping it achieve speeds of 1.42m/s. The goal of the still-early-stage project is to encourage research in biomechanics, with an aim toward building faster robots for search and rescue, or ground exploration. More info is available on EPFL's Cheetah page."
Programming

Revisiting Amdahl's Law 54

Posted by Soulskill
from the looking-for-new-loopholes dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A German computer scientist is taking a fresh look at the 46-year old Amdahl's law, which took a first look at limitations in parallel computing with respect to serial computing. The fresh look considers software development models as a way to overcome parallel computing limitations. 'DEEP keeps the code parts of a simulation that can only be parallelized up to a concurrency of p = L on a Cluster Computer equipped with fast general purpose processors. The highly parallelizable parts of the simulation are run on a massively parallel Booster-system with a concurrency of p = H, H >> L. The booster is equipped with many-core Xeon Phi processors and connected by a 3D-torus network of sub-microsecond latency based on EXTOLL technology. The DEEP system software allows to dynamically distribute the tasks to the most appropriate parts of the hardware in order to achieve highest computational efficiency.' Amdahl's law has been revisited many times, most notably by John Gustafson."
Graphics

NVIDIA To License Its GPU Tech 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the sea-change dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Today in a blog post, NVIDIA's General Counsel, David Shannon, announced that the company will begin licensing its GPU cores and patent portfolio to device makers. '[I]t's not practical to build silicon or systems to address every part of the expanding market. Adopting a new business approach will allow us to address the universe of devices.' He cites the 'explosion of Android devices' as one of the prime reasons for this decision. 'This opportunity simply didn't exist several years ago because there was really just one computing device – the PC. But the swirling universe of new computing devices provides new opportunities to license our GPU core or visual computing portfolio.' Shannon points out that NVIDIA did something similar with the CPU core used in the PlayStation 3, which was licensed to Sony. But mobile seems to be the big opportunity now: 'We'll start by licensing the GPU core based on the NVIDIA Kepler architecture, the world's most advanced, most efficient GPU. Its DX11, OpenGL 4.3, and GPGPU capabilities, along with vastly superior performance and efficiency, create a new class of licensable GPU cores. Through our efforts designing Tegra into mobile devices, we've gained valuable experience designing for the smallest power envelopes. As a result, Kepler can operate in a half-watt power envelope, making it scalable from smartphones to supercomputers.'"
Displays

Oculus Rift Raises Another $16 Million 104

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
Craefter writes "It seems that the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset caught the attention of investors after its showing at E3 this year. Spark Capital and Matrix Partners were able to push $16 million at Oculus VR in the hopes that the product will live up to the hype. The HD unit looks a bit more slick than the ski-goggles-with-a-tablet-glued-to-it prototype, but the device would look even more appealing if the next-gen consoles would commit to supporting it. (We all know how well the PS3's 'wave-stick' did as an afterthought.) That said, major titles like the 9-year-old Half-Life 2 and the 6-year-old Team Fortress 2 are getting full support for the device. Hopefully some developers are looking into support for the Oculus Rift as a launch feature, rather than an addition years after the fact. IA bit like the EAX standard from Soundblaster. That worked out well too."
Cellphones

With an Eye Toward Disaster, NYC Debuts Solar Charging Stations 115

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-always-sunny-in-new-york-city dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "When hurricane Sandy pummeled New York City last fall, it left a sizable percentage of the metropolis without electricity. Residents had trouble keeping their phones and tablets charged, and often walked across whole neighborhoods to reach zones with power. Come the next disaster, at least a few citizens could communicate a little easier thanks to 25 solar-powered charging stations going up around the city. The stations—known as 'Street Charge' — are the result of a partnership between AT&T, Brooklyn design studio Pensa, and portable solar-power maker Goal Zero (with approval by the city's Parks Department). The first unit will deploy in Brooklyn's Fort Green Park on June 18, followed in short order by others in Union Square, Central Park, the Rockaways, and other locations. Each station incorporates lithium-ion batteries in addition to solar panels; charging a phone to full capacity could take as long as two hours, but the time necessary for a partial charge is much shorter. But a couple of charging stations also won't help very much if half the city is without power: In order to help mitigate the effects of the next hurricane, New York City major Michael Bloomberg has put forward a $20 billion plan for seawalls, levees, and dozens of other improvements. 'Sandy exposed weaknesses in the city's telecommunications infrastructure — including the location of critical facilities in areas that are susceptible to flooding,' reads one section of the plan's accompanying report. The city will harden the system 'by increasing the accountability of telecommunications providers to invest in resiliency and by using new regulatory authority to enable rapid recovery after extreme weather events.'"
Open Source

Jon 'Maddog' Hall On Project Cauã: a Server In Every Highrise 151

Posted by timothy
from the cafeterias-and-slaughterhouses-too dept.
Qedward writes with an excerpt at TechWorld about a new project from Jon "Maddog" Hall, which is about to launch in Brazil: "The vision of Project Cauã is to promote more efficient computing following the thin client/server model, while creating up to two million privately-funded high-tech jobs in Brazil, and another three to four million in the rest of Latin America. Hall explained that Sao Paolo in Brazil is the second largest city in the Western Hemisphere and has about twelve times the population density of New York City. As a result, there are a lot of people living and working in very tall buildings. Project Cauã will aim to put a server system in the basement of all of these tall buildings and thin clients throughout the building, so that residents and businesses can run all of their data and applications remotely."

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