ptorrone writes "MAKE Magazine asks: is it 'Time For Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts 2.0?' What might the future of education be like if it were based on online & earned skill badges, and what could the future of traditional organizations for kids, like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, be like in a very modern, tech-savvy world? Social networks and the maker movement are the perfect intersection of where the kids of today are, but we don't see 'leaderboards' for skills yet; we only see them for video games. Is it time for Hacker Scouts?"
MrSeb writes "Japanese researchers have created a hand-held gun that can jam the words of speakers who are more than 30 meters (100ft) away. The gun has two purposes, according to the researchers: At its most basic, this gun could be used in libraries and other quiet spaces to stop people from speaking — but its second application is a lot more chilling. The researchers were looking for a way to stop 'louder, stronger' voices from saying more than their fair share in conversation. The paper reads: 'We have to establish and obey rules for proper turn-taking when speaking. However, some people tend to lengthen their turns or deliberately interrupt other people when it is their turn in order to establish their presence rather than achieve more fruitful discussions. Furthermore, some people tend to jeer at speakers to invalidate their speech.' In other words, this speech-jamming gun was built to enforce 'proper' conversations."
An anonymous reader writes "The Ann Arbor Public Schools defended their request for a $45 million bond for new computers by claiming that Apple eMacs aren't good enough for their Advanced Journalism class. A teacher told reporters that new PCs are needed to run WordPress, Google Docs, and Adobe InDesign CS6. WordPress and Google Docs are server-based applications that can be accessed with nearly any web browser. InDesign CS6 has not been released yet and its system requirements are unknown. As a web developer, I am impressed by the online newspaper published by the journalism class, but I question the need for new hardware. The district previously claimed that the old computers couldn't run its standardized testing software, although they far surpass the vendor's specifications. Does modern education really require cutting-edge computers, or are schools screaming 'think of the children' to win over tech-illiterate voters?" Whatever the answer to that question, exaggerated system requirements aren't the only driving force; the $45 million bond sought would not be dedicated only to replacing journalism program computers, note; it would also be used to fund other infrastructure upgrades, including some lower-tech updates, like new sound amplifiers in the district's classrooms. Ann Arbor schools' web site says that the district has (as of 2010, at least) 16,440 students. What are tech outlays like in the public schools where you live?
Pwnie Express is a cute name for this tiny (and easily hidden) group of Pen Test devices. Their website says, 'Our initial hardware offering, the Pwn Plug, is the first-to-market commercial penetration testing drop box platform. This low-cost plug-and-play device is designed for remote security testing of corporate facilities, including branch offices and retail locations. A security professional or service provider can ship this device to a corporate facility and conduct a security test over the Internet without travel expenses.' Hardware buffs will recognize this unit as a SheevaPlug, but the value-add is that it's preloaded with Ubuntu Linux and and a rich suite of intrusion/testing tools. The company's 'Founder and CEO and everything else' is Dave Porcello. The video is an interview with Dave, in which he shows off and demonstrates some Pwnie Express products.
An anonymous reader writes "Japanese company Air Danshin Systems Inc. has developed an innovative system that levitates houses in the in the event of an earthquake to protect them from structural damage. When an earthquake hits, a sensor responds within one second by activating a compressor, which forces an incredible amount of air under the home, pushing the structure up and apart from its foundation. The air pressure can keep the home levitating up to 3cm from the shaking foundation below. In the wake of last year's Fukushima disaster the company is set to install the levitation system in 88 houses across Japan."
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.
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."