In an exclusive Transatlantic Skype conversation with Slashdot editor Timothy Lord recorded on Feb. 22, Raspberry Pi project leader Eben Upton talks about the state of Raspberry Pi, and tells us that yes -- finally -- they now have distributors in the U.S. and other countries instead trying to ship every unit from the U.K. Even better, instead of buying a batch of boards, selling them, and only then ordering another batch, the new distribution agreements mean they can keep a steady flow of orders coming in and going out. One slight downer is that people who have donated to the project may not get their Pi(s) right away; the distributors have spoken for all of the current order. Eben talks about this, and about how Raspberry Pi is going to take care of contributors, starting at about 4:15 in the video. You can also look at an in-person interview Tim did with Eben in January -- or wait until the end of today's video for a list of other Raspberry Pi videos.
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "If you're sick of playing Angry Birds, or don't like touchscreen controls, there is now an alternative if you don't mind some construction. mbed have posted full instructions and a parts list for creating your very own USB slingshot, adding a physical element to playing the game. You need a decent branch for the slingshot, a microcontroller, USB connector, accelerometer, and a rubber stretch sensor. The C++ code is provided, and as a weekend project I can see this being pretty satisfying to create."
Lucas123 writes "IBM today claimed to have been able to reduce error rates and retain the integrity of quantum mechanical properties in quantum bits or qubits long enough to perform a gate operation, opening the door to new microfabrication techniques that allow engineers to begin designing a quantum computer. While still a long ways off, the creation of a quantum computer would mean data processing power would be exponentially increased over what is possible with today's silicon-based computing."
MrSeb writes with this news from Extreme Tech: "In a move that will shock and disgust bleeding-edge technophiles everywhere, Asus has announced at Mobile World Congress 2012 that its new Transformer Pads — the high-end Infinity Series — will use the recently-announced dual-core Qualcomm S4 SoC. The critically acclaimed Transformer Prime, the Infinity Series' predecessor which was released at the end of 2011, used the quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3. Why the sudden about-face? Well, the fact that quad-core processors don't really have a use case in mobile devices is one reason — but it doesn't hurt that the Krait cores in the S4 are significantly faster than the four Cortex-A9 cores in the Tegra 3, too. The S4 is also the first 28nm SoC, while Tegra 3 is still on 40nm, which means a smaller and cheaper package, and lower power consumption to boot. The S4 is also the first SoC with built-in LTE, which was probably a rather nice sweetener for Asus." The Snapdragon S4 "Krait" CPU is still a bit shrouded in mystery as far as hard specs (Qualcomm has never been one to release docs), but it appears to be similar to the Cortex-A15 in performance; how they stand up to Intel's new Medfield designs remains to be seen.
MojoKid writes about some interesting news from AMD. From the article: "Advanced Micro Devices plans to use resonant clock mesh (PDF) technology developed by Cyclos Semiconductor to push its Piledriver processor architecture to 4GHz and beyond, the company announced at the International Solid State Circuits Conferences (ISSCC) in San Francisco. Cyclos is the only supplier of resonant clock mesh IP, which AMD has licensed and implemented into its x86 Piledriver core for Opteron server processors and Accelerated Processing Units. Resonant clock mesh technology will not only lead to higher clocked processors, but also significant power savings. According to Cyclos, the new technology is capable of reducing power consumption by 10 percent or bumping up clockspeeds by 10 percent without altering the TDP." Unfortunately, aside from a fuzzy whitepaper, actual technical details are all behind IEEE and other paywalls with useless abstracts.
crookedvulture writes "Asus is showing off a bunch of new devices at the Mobile World Congress in Spain, including a budget Transformer model and an Infinity Series graced with a 10", 1920x1200 display. In addition to the tablets, there's the novel PadFone hybrid. This Snapdragon-powered smartphone has a 4.3" screen with a generous 960x540 resolution. If you want more screen real estate, the PadFone slides into the back of a tablet docking station that offers a 10", 1280x800 display alongside an auxiliary battery. That combo can in turn be plugged into an external keyboard with a full-sized SD slot, USB port, and other perks. The only problem is those auxiliary components are thicker and heavier than Asus' standalone tablets, which offer the same functionality, sans smartphone."
ananyo writes "Bits of data travelling the internet have a tough commute — they bounce back and forth between optical signal lines for efficient transmission and electrical signal lines for processing. All-optical routers would be more energy efficient, but their development has been hindered by a lack of optical memory devices. Now, researchers have developed just such a device (journal article abstract), paving the way towards a faster, more energy-efficient internet. The devices are based on optical cavities that can be switched between light-transmitting and light-blocking states to construct digital signals. Researchers have been working on such devices for several years, but previous versions used too much power and could not retain data long enough. The new memory cells use just 30 nanowatts of power, 300 times less than previous designs, and can retain data for one microsecond — long enough to support processing." (See also this paper on all-optical swtiches by four of the same authors.)
waderoush writes "You can forget all the talk about 'smart' and 'connected' TVs: nobody, not even Apple, has come up with an interface that's easy to use from 10 feet away. And you can drastically curtail your hopes that Roku, Boxee, Netflix, and other providers of free or cheap 'over the top' Internet TV service will take over the world: the cable and satellite companies and the content owners have mounted savvy and effective counterstrikes. But there's another technology that really will disrupt the TV industry: tablet computing. The iPad, in particular, is the first 'second screen' device that's good enough to be the first screen. This Xconomy column argues that in the near future, the big-screen TV will turn into a dumb terminal, and your tablet — with its easy-to-use touch interface and its 'appified' approach to organizing content — will literally be running the show in your living room." Using a tablet as a giant remote seems like a good idea, and a natural extension of iPhone and Android apps that already provide media-center control. Maybe I'm too easily satisfied, but the 10-foot interface doesn't seem as hopeless as presented here; TiVo, Apple, and others been doing a pretty good job of that for the past decade.
MojoKid writes "According to new reports [note: source article at DigiTimes], global HDD production capacity is getting ready to increase to 140-145 million units in the first quarter of 2012, or about 80 percent of where it was prior to when the floods hit Thailand manufacturing plants. HDD production was sitting around 175 million units in the third quarter of 2011 before the floods, after which time it quickly dropped to 120-125 million units. Since then, there's been a concerted effort to restore operations to pre-flood levels."
judgecorp writes "Nordic nations are all pitching for business from data centre owners, based on their countries' excellent network provision, plentiful electricity from renewable sources, and a climate where servers can be kept cool cheaply, using the ambient air temperature, with no need for chillers. A Swedish delegation is visiting California to lure other players to follow Facebook into Sweden. Meanwhile, Iceland now has a new multi-tenant data centre to join the existing Thor site, and Denmark has a container-park data centre for its financial industry."
An anonymous reader writes "A look back at two articles from 1995, touting high end computers and 'must haves.' How times have changed... ...'Memory (RAM): We seem to have convinced most manufacturers to adopt eight megabytes as standard, compared with four megabytes in 1994. Don't buy less than eight. The difference in performance between an eight megabyte machine and a four-megabyte machine can be dramatic.'"
Damien1972 writes "Conservationists have converted a remote-controlled plane into a potent tool for conservation. The drone — an HK Bixler equipped with cameras, sensors and GPS — has been used to map deforestation, count orangutans and elephants, and get a bird's eye view of hard-to-access forest areas. During their 4 days of testing in Sumatra, the drone flew 30 missions without a single crash. A mission, which typically lasts about 25 minutes, can cover 50 hectares. The drone, full equipped, costs less than $2,000."
retroworks writes "Great piece in The Atlantic by Kyle Wiens of IFIXIT.org, who visited and photographed the Molycorp Mountain Pass rare earth facility in California's Mojave Desert. The mine is the only source of rare earths in North America, one of the only alternatives to the mineral cartels in China, and one of the only sources for the key metals such as tantalum needed in cell phones. There is of course actually one other source of rare earth metals in the USA — recycled cell phones. Is the best 'state of the art' mining as good as the worst state of the art recycling? If the U.S. Department of Energy subsidizes the mine, will China open the floodgates and put it out of business? Or will electronics be manufactured with alternative materials before the mine ever becomes fully scaleable?"
itwbennett writes "Don't believe recent claims made by a blogger that non-functioning batteries in the Tesla Roadster cause the electric cars to be bricked, says IDC analyst Sam Jaffe. 'Here's the primary fact that the blogger in question doesn't understand: the Tesla battery pack is not a battery,' says Jaffe. 'It's a collection of more than 8,000 individual batteries. Each of those cells is independently managed. So there's only two ways for the entire battery pack to fail. The first is if all 8,000 cells individually fail (highly unlikely except in the case of something catastrophic like a fire). The second failure mechanism is if the battery management system tells the pack to shut down because it has detected a dangerous situation, such as an extremely low depth of discharge. If that's the case, all that needs to be done is to tow the vehicle to a charger, recharge the batteries and then reboot the battery management system. This is the most likely explanation for the five 'bricks' that the blogger claims to have heard about.'"
YokimaSun writes "Sony has today released the PSVita in the U.S. and Europe. The console comes with features such as dual touch pads at the front and rear, dual cameras at the front and rear, dual analog sticks, a 5-inch OLED screen, GPS, six-axis motion sensors and a three-axis electronic compass. The PSVita is Sony's attempt at stealing the thunder away from the 3DS but also bringing back the gamers lost to the likes of Android and iOS Devices. The PSVita in Japan sold massively on its first release week but since has struggled and sold less than the PSP. With this in mind sites like Amazon have been offering many different deals to entice people to buy the console. Can Sony stop homebrewers from taking over this console?"