An anonymous reader writes "New York City is planning an upgrade to its aging pay-phone infrastructure. A pilot program will next month install 32-inch touchscreens in 250 phone booths throughout the city. The screens will display "local neighborhood information, including lists of nearby restaurants, store sales in the area, traffic updates, landmark information and safety alerts — in multiple languages.' They will facilitate the 311 service, and also allow people to file complaints or request city information. The good news is that these screens won't cost the taxpayers anything. The bad news is that they will be supported by advertising. The plan is to eventually support Skype calls and email, and to integrate Wi-Fi hotspots."
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tsu doh nimh writes "A series of hacks perpetrated against so-called 'smart meter' installations over the past several years may have cost a single U.S. electric utility hundreds of millions of dollars annually, the FBI said in cyber intelligence bulletin first revealed today. The law enforcement agency said this is the first known report of criminals compromising the hi-tech meters, and that it expects this type of fraud to spread across the country as more utilities deploy smart grid technology."
MojoKid writes "In preparation for the arrival of their 3rd Generation Core processor products based on their Ivy Bridge microarchitecture, Intel has readied a new chipset dubbed the Z77 Express. New socket 1155 Ivy Bridge processors offer 16 lanes of PCI Express 2.0 or 3.0 connectivity on-die and they feature integrated dual-channel, DDR3 memory controllers with maximum officially supported speeds of up to 1600MHz. The processors are linked to the Z77 chipset via Intel's FDI (Flexible Display Interface) and 20Gb/s DMI 2.0 interfaces. The chipset itself is outfitted with 8 more PCIe 2.0 lanes, six ports of SATA (II and III), an integrated Gigabit MAC, and digital display outputs for up to three displays. Making its debut for the first time in an Intel chipset is also native USB 3.0 support with four USB 3.0 and ten USB 2.0 ports built in."
retroworks writes "Digitimes Reports that 'Intel is set to push a tablet PC product codenamed StudyBook to target emerging markets. ... The StudyBook tablet PC will feature a 10-inch panel with Intel's Medfield platform and adopt dual-operating systems and will target the emerging markets such as China and Brazil. .. The StudyBook tablet PC will be released in the second half of 2012. ... Intel also hopes to push the product into regular retail channels priced below US$299.' Will this be another 'OLPC' disappointment, or is it starting to look very tough for the traditional school book industry?"
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Navy is paying a company six figures to hack into used video game consoles and extract sensitive information. The tasks to be completed are for both offline and online data. The organization says it will only use the technology on consoles belonging to nations overseas, because the law doesn't allow it to be used on any 'U.S. persons.'" Should be a doddle.
An anonymous reader writes "Amazon doesn't show off prototypes unless it is pretty confident about the tech, so you may be surprised to find the next Kindle is probably going to have a front-lit display. The lighting tech comes from a company they purchased back in 2010 called Oy Modilis. It specialized in such lighting and has patents related to whatever Amazon decided to use. The display is meant to be lit in a blue-white glow, and if it's anything like Flex lighting probably won't impact battery life too much. The question is, does anyone really want or need a light for their Kindle?"
An anonymous reader writes "I was looking at multimedia players from brands such as SumVision, Noontec and Western Digital. They all seem to be some device which accepts a USB hard-drive and commands from an IR remote control, and throws the result over HDMI. I have my own idea of what a hardware multimedia player should do (e.g. a personalized library screen for episodes, movies and documentaries; resume play; loudness control; etc.). I also think it will a good programming adventure because I will have to make the player compatible with more than a few popular codecs. Is this an FPGA arena? Or a mini-linux tv-box? Any advice, books or starting point to suggest?" There certainly have been a lot of products and projects in this domain over the years, but what's the best place to start in the year 2012?
CowboyRobot writes "Stanford's CPU DB project (cpudb.stanford.edu) is like an open IMDB for microprocessors. Processors have come a long way from the Intel 4004 in 1971, with a clock speed of 740KHz, and CPU DB shows the details of where and when the gains have occured. More importantly, by looking at hundreds of processors over decades, researchers are able to separate the effect of technology scaling from improvements in say, software. The public is encouraged to contribute to the project."
CowboyRobot writes "The National Weather Service has begun testing the way it labels natural disasters. It's hoping that the new warnings, which include words like 'catastrophic,' 'complete devastation likely,' and 'unsurvivable,' will make people more likely to take action to save their lives. But what about their digital lives? Recommendations include: Keep all electronics out of basements and off the floor; Unplug your hardware; Buy a surge protector; Enclose anything valuable in plastic. If the National Weather Service issued a 'complete devastation' warning today, would your data be ready?"
A week ago, we posted news of the delay that the Raspberry Pi Foundation faced because of a requirement that their boards be tested to comply with EU regulations. Now, the word is in, and the Raspberry Pi passed those tests without needing any modifications. From their post describing the ordeal: "The Raspberry Pi had to pass radiated and conducted emissions and immunity tests in a variety of configurations (a single run can take hours), and was subjected to electrostatic discharge (ESD) testing to establish its robustness to being rubbed on a cat. It’s a long process, involving a scary padded room full of blue cones, turntables that rise and fall on demand, and a thing that looks a lot like a television aerial crossed with Cthulhu."
HizookRobotics writes "The official announcement should be out very soon, but for now here's the unofficial, preliminary details based on notes from Dr. Gill Pratt's talk at DTRA Industry Day: The new Grand Challenge is for a humanoid robot (with a bias toward bipedal designs) that can be used in rough terrain and for industrial disasters. The robot will be required to maneuver into and drive an open-frame vehicle (eg. tractor), proceed to a building and dismount, ingress through a locked door using a key, traverse a 100 meter rubble-strewn hallway, climb a ladder, locate a leaking pipe and seal it by closing off a nearby valve, and then replace a faulty pump to resume normal operations — all semi-autonomously with just 'supervisory teleoperation.' It looks like there will be six hardware teams to develop new robots, and twelve software teams using a common platform."
zacharye writes with this snippet from BGR: "Nearly a dozen suspects have been arrested and charged with crimes related to the theft and sale of AMOLED display technology under development at Samsung. Yonhap News Agency on Thursday reported that 11 suspects either currently or formerly employed by Samsung Mobile Display have been arrested. One 46-year-old researcher at Samsung is believed to have accepted a payment of nearly $170,000 from an unnamed 'local rival firm' in exchange for trade secrets pertaining to proprietary Samsung technology used in the company's AMOLED panels..."
asavin writes "The founder of Marshall Amplification, Jim Marshall OBE, has died at the age of 88. A tribute to the man known as the Father of Loud was posted on his official website, praising the man whose name became iconic for electric guitarists." Reader LizardKing points to the Guardian's coverage of Marshall's passing, and adds : "A former drummer, Jim Marshall initially became involved with guitar amplification as an importer of Fender equipment, until he eventually decided to branch out and make his own amps. The trademark Marshall sound evolved alongside the requirements of such luminaries as Pete Townshend and Eric Clapton. The Marshall stack has since become a ubiquitous symbol of live rock music in particular — so much so that some bands perform in front of veritable walls of Marshall branded speakers. In addition to his lead guitar amplifiers, Jim will also be remembered for his great bass amps (as used by Lemmy Kilmister in particular) and the much sought after Guv'nor distortion pedal."
Hugh Pickens writes "Alasdair Wilkins writes that when a squirrel encounters a rattlesnake in the wild, it does something very peculiar to survive its brush with the predator — something is so peculiar that scientists are building robotic squirrels just to try to understand the behavior. A live squirrel does two things when it sees a rattlesnake. It starts moving its tail in a flagging motion and actually heats up the temperature of its tail. Because rattlesnakes can see in the infrared wavelengths, they should be able to see both the tail move and heat up. The question is which of these two signals is important and just what message it's supposed to send to the rattlesnake. To that end, engineers at UC Davis have built robosquirrels, which allow the biologists to simulate the two squirrel behaviors one a time and the research so far suggests it's the heated tail, not the flagging motion, that the snake responds to, making it one of the first known examples of infrared communication between two distinct species. 'Snakes will rarely strike at a flagging adult squirrel — and if they do they almost always miss,' says Rulon Clark, assistant professor of biology at San Diego State University and an expert on snake behavior. 'In some cases, it seems the rattlesnakes just decide it's best to cut their losses after dealing with these confusing critters,' adds Wilkins, 'as sometimes the snakes just leave the area completely after encountering these flagging, tail-heating squirrels.'"
MrSeb writes "According to researchers at MIT and the University of Pennsylvania, one day in the not too distant future you'll be able to design, print and build your own robot. 'Our vision is to develop an end-to-end process; specifically, a compiler for building physical machines that starts with a high level of specification of function, and delivers a programmable machine for that function using simple printing processes,' MIT Professor Daniela Rus says. The team points to the high expense currently to design and produce functioning robots. By simplifying the process, it would bring robotics to a much wider audience. With an automated process, more time could be spent on teaching the intricacies of robotics or getting to the task at hand rather than the laborious process of building the robot itself. Two paper prototypes have been built so far: an insect-like robot for exploring dangerous areas, and a gripper device for the handicapped."