MojoKid writes "The story around AMD's upcoming Kaveri continues to evolve, but it's increasingly clear that AMD's 3rd generation APU won't be available for retail purchase this year. If you recall, AMD initially promised that Kaveri would be available during 2013 and even published roadmaps earlier in May that show the chip shipping in the beginning of the fourth quarter. What the company is saying now is that while Kaveri will ship to manufacturers in late 2013, it won't actually hit shelves until 2014. The reason Kaveri was late taping out, according to sources, was that AMD kept the chip back to put some additional polish on its performance. Unlike Piledriver, which we knew would be a minor tweak to the core Bulldozer architecture, Steamroller, Kaveri's core architecture, is the first serious overhaul to that hardware. That means it's AMD's first chance to really fix things. Piledriver delivered improved clock speeds and power consumption, but CPU efficiency barely budged compared to 'Dozer. Steamroller needs to deliver on that front."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
theodp writes "Writing in The Atlantic, Phil Nichols makes a convincing case for why educational technologies should be more like graphing calculators and less like iPads. Just messing around with TI-BASIC on a TI-83 Plus, Nichols recalls, 'helped me cultivate many of the overt and discrete habits of mind necessary for autonomous, self-directed learning.' So, with all those fancy iPads at their schools, today's kids must really be programming up a storm, right? Wrong. Nichols, who's currently pursuing a PhD in education, laments, 'The iPad is among the recent panaceas being peddled to schools, but like those that came before, its ostensibly subversive shell houses a fairly conventional approach to learning. Where Texas Instruments graphing calculators include a programming framework accessible even to amateurs, writing code for an iPad is restricted to those who purchase an Apple developer account, create programs that align with Apple standards, and submit their finished products for Apple's approval prior to distribution.'"
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Now, an EU-funded, £7.2 million ($11 million USD) collaborative project, called Strands, is underway in England to develop 4D, artificial intelligence for security and care applications. It aims to produce intelligent robo-sentinels that can patrol areas, and learn to detect abnormalities in human behavior. Could their project eventually replace security guards with robots? It looks possible. Strands, as Nick Hawes of the University of Birmingham said, will 'develop novel approaches to extract spatio-temporal structure from sensor data gathered during months of autonomous operation,' to develop intelligence that can then 'exploit [those] structures to yield adaptive behavior in highly demanding, real-world security and care scenarios.'"
Zothecula writes "NASA took the metaphorical training wheels off the Mars rover Curiosity on Tuesday, as the unmanned explorer took its first drive using autonomous navigation. It used its onboard cameras and software to select and drive over an area of ground that mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California couldn't see and vet beforehand. This capability allows the nuclear-powered rover to negotiate the most direct route to Mount Sharp rather than having to detour to find routes that can be seen directly by Curiosity before entering, so they can be analyzed by mission control."
Lasrick writes "The Japan Times has an opinion piece about the seriousness of the situation at Fukushima and the incompetence of Tepco. The article makes the case that it's time for the Japanese government to step in and take control of the plant to facilitate clean-up. Quoting: 'Japan has been very lucky that nothing worse has occurred at the plant. But luck eventually runs out. The longer Tepco stays in charge of the decommissioning process, the worse the odds become. Without downplaying the seriousness of leaks and the other setbacks at the plant, it is important to recognize that things could very quickly get much worse. In November, Tepco plans to begin the delicate operation of removing spent fuel from Reactor No. 4. There are 1,300 used fuel rod assemblies in a pool above the reactor. They weigh a total of 400 tons, and contain radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb. The spent-fuel pool, standing 18 meters above ground, was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami and is in a deteriorating condition. It remains vulnerable to any further shocks, and is also at risk from ground liquefaction. Removing its spent fuel, which contains deadly plutonium, is an urgent task.'"
Lucas123 writes "Anticipating it will make a 'big splash,' Intel is planning to release an product late this year or very early next that will allow users to 'overclock' solid-state drives. The overclocking capability is expected to allow users to tweak the percentage of an SSD's capacity that's used for data compression. At its Intel Developers Forum next month in San Francisco, Intel has scheduled an information session on overclocking SSDs. The IDF session is aimed at system manufacturers and developers as well as do-it-yourself enthusiasts, such as gamers. 'We've debated how people would use it. I think the cool factor is somewhat high on this, but we don't see it changing the macro-level environment. But, as far as being a trendsetter, it has potential,' said Intel spokesman Alan Frost. Michael Yang, a principal analyst with IHS Research, said the product Intel plans to release could be the next evolution of SandForce controller, 'user definable and [with the] ability to allocate specified size on the SSD. Interesting, but we will have to see how much performance and capacity [it has] over existing solutions,' Yang said in an email reply to Computerworld."
Nerval's Lobster writes "For quite some time, some economists and social scientists have argued that advances in robotics and computer technology are systematically wrecking the job prospects of human beings. Back in June, for example, an MIT Technology Review article detailed Erik Brynjolfsson (a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management) and a co-author suggesting that the evolution of computer technology was "largely behind the sluggish employment growth of the last 10 to 15 years." Of course, technological change and its impact on the workforce is nothing new; just look at the Industrial Revolution, when labor-saving devices put many a hard-working homo sapien out of economic commission. But how far can things go? There are even arguments that the technology behind Google's Self-Driving Car, which allows machines to rapidly adapt to situations, could put whole new subsets of people out of jobs."
cartechboy writes "As Nissan develops autonomous cars for its 2020 target date, the company's engineers are modeling the tech after behaviors seen in bumblebees and fish. Nissan actually tests self-navigation algorithms in seven small toy-looking robots called EPORO. The robots have 180-degree vision (modeled after bees) and monitor each others' positions, travel nose to nose and avoid collisions--just like a school of fish. Getting small robots to zip around without bumping into things might be the first step in getting cars to do the same."
An anonymous reader notes that Skype is reportedly working on a 3D version of its messaging application. As reported by the BBC, an unnamed senior executive says that rumors to this effect are true. However, don't get too worked up about sending your avatar to school or to work just yet: Microsoft's corporate vice-president for Skype, Mark Gillett, says that "the capture devices are not yet there. As we work with that kind of technology you have to add multiple cameras to your computer, precisely calibrate them and point them at the right angle. ... We have it in the lab, we know how to make it work and we're looking at the ecosystem of devices and their capability to support it in order to make a decision when we might think about bringing something like that to market." Also at SlashBI.
Joe Marine of No Film School has a short interview with two of the creators of the Black Betty, a deceptively old-school looking digital cinema camera. The Black Betty gets around one issue with the massive data processing and storage needs inherent to high-capacity, high-resolution video cameras by attacking it head-on. Rather than use the camera "merely" as a collection device, the creators have jammed into the machined aluminum case the guts of a Mac Mini, which means the camera not only has a powerful processing brain, but a built-in SSD drive, and can (in a pinch, or even by preference in the field) be used to edit and transmit the footage collected with the actual imaging system, which is based around the SI-2K Mini sensor, which shoots 1080p video at up to 30fps.
MarkWhittington writes "Tony Milligan is a teaching fellow of philosophy at the University of Aberdeen and is apparently concerned about helium 3 mining on the moon. In a recent paper he suggested that it should not be allowed for a number of reasons which include environmental objections, his belief that the moon is a cultural artifact, and that too much access to energy would be bad for the human race."
AmiMoJo writes "Japan's nuclear regulators have raised the level of severity of the radioactive water leak from a tank at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. It is now a level-3 serious incident. The revision from level 1 is based on estimates of the volume of radioactive substances leaked. The International Atomic Energy Agency supports the revision. They say the tank leak can be assessed separately from the Fukushima Daiichi crisis as a level 3 incident. Japanese experienced a level-3 nuclear event in 1997 with the fire and explosions at a fuel reprocessing plant in Tokai Village, Ibaraki Prefecture. 37 workers there were exposed to the leaked radioactive substances."
stomv writes "Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is to close in late 2014, about 20 years before its (extended) NRC operating permit expires in 2032. Vermont Yankee is a merchant plant, which means that it sells its energy and capacity on the open New England market. The three reasons cited by Entergy, the owner, for closing are: low natural gas prices, high ongoing capital costs of operating a single unit reactor, and wholesale market flaws which keep energy and capacity prices low and doesn't reward the fuel diversity benefits that nuclear provides."
ananyo writes "Facebook can lose a few users and remain a perfectly stable network, but where the national grid is concerned, simple geography dictates that it is always just a few transmission lines from collapse, according to a mathematical study of spatial networks. The upshot of the study is that spatial networks are necessarily dependent on any number of critical nodes whose failure can lead to abrupt — and unpredictable — collapse. The warning comes ten years after a blackout that crippled parts of the midwest and northeastern United States and parts of Canada. In that case, a series of errors resulted in the loss of three transmission lines in Ohio over the course of about an hour. Once the third line went down, the outage cascaded towards the coast, cutting power to some 50 million people. The authors say that this outage is an example of the inherent instability the study describes. But others question whether the team's conclusions can really be extrapolated to the real world. 'The problem is that this doesn't reflect the physics of how the power grid operates,' says Jeff Dagle, an electrical engineer at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, who served on the government task force that investigated the 2003 outage."
cartechboy writes "Two Ph.D. students from MIT have created a keyboard accessory, the Pavlov Poke, that shocks you every time you go onto Facebook. The project comes as a result of the students finding the waste over 50 hours a week combined on the social network (instead of working on their dissertations) So the pair created an Arduino-based keyboard hand-rest that shocks computer users who spend too much time checking the social network. The hack is 'intended to generate discussion' — not actually turn into a business." Inventor Robert Morris describes it as "something of a joke," but I'm sure there's a market out there.
jarold writes to point out an intriguing entry in the expanding smart-watch field: the Omate TrueSmart watch. Production of samples is about start on the watch after a successful Kickstarter campaign. Unlike some of the smart watches now out (or promised for soon), the TrueSmart is capable of making voice calls, sending texts, and using social media messaging without a separate smartphone or tablet. The specs are impressive, for something you wear on your wrist: Android 4.2.2 running on a dual core Cortex A7 and half a gig of RAM, 4GB of storage (expandable via micro-SD slot).
sfcrazy writes "Bad news for all ChromeCast users who were thinking of being able to stream local content to their HD TVs. Google has pushed an update for ChromeCast which has broken support for third-party apps like AirCast (AllCast) which allow users to 'stream' local files from their devices to ChromeCast connected TV sets."
iFixit's been breaking devices and voiding warranties for years now; latest on their chopping block is the new Moto X from Motorola, a phone hawked as much for its customizability and place of manufacture (the U.S.) as for anything else. You might expect a highly hyped, ultra-customizable phone to be made of high-end components and ultra-repairable as well. iFixit's teardown commentary has both some good and only-middlin' things to say about the innards, but very little bad. They call out the highly modular headphone jack, and say "a considerable amount of effort went in to the internal design of this device; the number of clips and contacts we've found so far is a great testament to that."
ilikenwf writes "For a cool $10,000,000.00, the prototype of a surveillance rock full of spy gadgets could be yours! More importantly, server backups from the gentleman's time at Lockheed are included, being the real valuable in this auction, as it contains schematics and such. The seller seems to think that the current xBee radio products are actually based on his work with Lockheed. The proceeds will go towards legal action the seller is apparently taking against his former employer." This may be the most unusual eBay product description I've ever encountered, and one of the most interesting, too.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Retuers reports that firefighters are battling to gain control of a fast-moving wildfire raging on the edge of Yosemite National Park that is threatening power and water supplies to San Francisco, about 200 miles to the west. 'We are making progress but unfortunately the steep terrain definitely has posed a major challenge,' says Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. 'Today we're continuing to see warm weather that could allow this fire to continue to grow very rapidly as it has over the last several days.' California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency, warning that the fire had damaged the electrical infrastructure serving the city, and forced the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to shut down power lines. The blaze in the western Sierra Nevada Mountains is now the fastest-moving of 50 large wildfires raging across the drought-parched U.S. West that have strained resources and prompted fire managers to open talks with Pentagon commanders and Canadian officials about possible reinforcements. Firefighters have been hampered by a lack of moisture from the sky and on the ground. 'The wind today is going to be better for firefighting, but we are still dealing with bone dry grass and brush,' says Tina Rose, spokeswoman for the multi-agency incident command. 'This fire is very dynamic.'"