New submitter mmmmdave writes "My parents love to Skype with my kid. My kid loves to mash laptop buttons and drool on the screen. And because we don't want to spend forty minutes every night holding the laptop outside of baby arms' length, we're looking to build some sort of wall-mounted monitor + webcam thingy. I'm sure there's a much cheaper option than sticking an iPad on the wall; what's more, non-touchscreen is probably better, so my daughter can't hang up the calls. Any ideas?"
lukehopewell1 writes "A Penn State robotics student has gone to the effort of building a working, automated turret from the video game series Portal. Powered by a webcam, Arduino boards and hacked up USB-missile launchers, this is one serious piece of kit that is just as adorable as its in-game counterpart. "
Hugh Pickens writes "Tim Heffernan writes that when 'The Fifty,' as it's known in company circles, broke down three years ago, there was talk of retiring it for good. Instead, Alcoa decided to overhaul their 50,000-ton, 6-story high forging press, now scheduled to resume service early this year. 'What sets the Fifty apart is its extraordinary scale,' writes Heffernan. 'Its 14 major structural components, cast in ductile iron, weigh as much as 250 tons each; those yard-thick steel bolts are also 78 feet long; all told, the machine weighs 16 million pounds, and when activated its eight main hydraulic cylinders deliver up to 50,000 tons of compressive force.' The Fifty could bench-press the battleship Iowa, with 860 tons to spare, but it's the Fifty's amazing precision — its tolerances are measured in thousandths of an inch—that gives it such far-reaching utility. Every manned US military aircraft now flying uses parts forged by the Fifty, as does every commercial aircraft made by Airbus and Boeing making the Jet Age possible. 'On a plane, a pound of weight saved is a pound of thrust gained—or a pound of lift, or a pound of cargo,' writes Heffernan. 'Without the ultra-strong, ultra-light components that only forging can produce, they'd all be pushing much smaller envelopes.' The now-forgotten Heavy Press Program (PDF), inaugurated in 1950 and completed in 1957, resulted in four presses (including the Fifty) and six extruders — giant toothpaste tubes squeezing out long, complex metal structures such as wing ribs and missile bodies. 'Today, America lacks the ability to make anything like the Heavy Press Program machines,' concludes Heffernan, adding that 'The Fifty' will be supplying bulkheads through 2034 for the Joint Strike Fighter. 'Big machines are the product of big visions, and they make big visions real. How about a Heavy Fusion Program?'"
Velcroman1 writes, quoting Fox News: "For sale: manufacturing and office facility with 411,618 square feet, state of the art electrical, air, and power distribution systems — and a troubled past. As part of its bankruptcy proceedings, Solyndra is reportedly very close to landing a buyer for its mammoth, high-tech production plant in Fremont, Calif. The listing agent recently gave Fox News a tour of what the new owners will get for their multi-million dollar investment. Now the once-bustling offices, conference rooms, and cubicles are eerily quiet as the facility is 'decommissioned,' according to Greg Matter with Jones Lang LaSalle realty. One wonders about the conversations held, and emails written, in the corner office formerly occupied by CEO Brian Harrison."
Nate the greatest writes "I'm sure you've heard about the color E-ink screen which was rumored to be used on the next Kindle. As of today, E-ink no longer has that market niche to themselves. Plastic Logic held a press conference in Russia this morning where they unveiled a new color screen that uses their plastic-based screen tech. The resolution is low (75ppi), but if the video is any sign, then this might be a better screen than the 9.7" Triton color E-ink screen used on the Jetbook Color. And that's not all Plastic Logic showed off this morning; they also developed a frontlight for their screen, and they can play video at 12 frames per second. But best of all, they cut one of their screens in half just to show that it could still work."
McGruber writes "The Rochester (NY) Democrat-Chronicle has the interesting story of the Eastman Kodak Co.'s Californium Neutron Flux Multiplier, which was housed in Building 82 of Kodak Park in Rochester, NY. The multiplier contained 3½ pounds of highly enriched (weapons-grade) uranium. Kodak used it to check chemicals and other materials for impurities, as well as for tests related to neutron radiography, an imaging technique. From the article: 'When Kodak decided six years ago to close down the device, still more scrutiny followed. Federal regulators made them submit detailed plans for removing the substance. When the highly enriched uranium was packaged into protective containers and spirited away in November 2007, armed guards were surely on hand. All of this — construction of a bunker with two-foot-thick concrete walls, decades of research and esoteric quality control work with a neutron beam, the safeguarding and ultimate removal of one of the more feared substances on earth — was done pretty much without anyone in the Rochester community having a clue.'"
An anonymous reader writes "It was inevitable that Intel launching the 22nm Ivy Bridge processors would lead to Apple using them in its laptops and desktop machines. While Apple never leaks details early, someone using pre-release hardware has managed to upload details of the new machine to Geekbench's database. We can definitely expect a Core i7 Ivy Bridge MacBook Pro and iMac later this year."
MrSeb writes "A group of American researchers from MIT, Indiana University, and Tufts University, led by Erin Treacy Solovey, have developed Brainput — a system that can detect when your brain is trying to multitask, and offload some of that workload to a computer. Using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), which is basically a portable, poor man's version of fMRI, Brainput measures the activity of your brain. This data is analyzed, and if Brainput detects that you're multitasking, the software kicks in and helps you out. In the case of the Brainput research paper (PDF), Solovey and her team set up a maze with two remotely controlled robots. The operator, equipped with fNIRS headgear, has to navigate both robots through the maze simultaneously, constantly switching back and forth between them. When Brainput detects that the driver is multitasking, it tells the robots to use their own sensors to help with navigation. Overall, with Brainput turned on, operator performance improved — and yet they didn't generally notice that the robots were partially autonomous. Moving forward, Solovey wants to investigate other cognitive states that can be reliably detected using fNIRS. Imagine a computer that increases the size of buttons and text when you're tired, or a video game that slows down when you're stressed. Your Xbox might detect that you're in the mood for fighting games, and change its splash screen accordingly. Eventually, computer interfaces might completely remold themselves to your mental state."
First time accepted submitter toomuchtogrok writes "Imagine charging your phone as you walk, thanks to a paper-thin generator embedded in the sole of your shoe. This futuristic scenario is now a little closer to reality. Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed a way to generate power using harmless viruses that convert mechanical energy into electricity. The scientists tested their approach by creating a generator that produces enough current to operate a small liquid-crystal display. It works by tapping a finger on a postage stamp-sized electrode coated with specially engineered viruses. The viruses convert the force of the tap into an electric charge."
An anonymous reader writes "I used to travel with a book and some clothes in a backpack, and now my entire life fits into my briefcase. I have a laptop, a tablet, and a cell phone with access to all of my documents through Dropbox, and all the books I own are on my kindle. Aside from having about four grand in electronics, the bag has everything of value that I own. If that bag is stolen while I'm traveling, it will be more trouble than if my apartment burns down (while I'm not in it). What can I do to secure my life-in-a-briefcase?"
Brietech writes "'Behold the FIBIAC! It's loud! It computes! It uses actual punch cards!' The FIBIAC is a simple, stepper-motor based, (mostly) 3D-printed electromechanical computer. The program is stored on a loop of paper punch-cards, and the machine uses three, 3-digit electromechanical counters for storage (which could be expanded to support more complicated programs) Watch a video of it computing the Fibonacci sequence, or jump on Thingiverse and build your own."
MojoKid writes "Microsoft can't do anything to magically make hard drives stop failing when parts go bad, but Redmond is rolling out a new NTFS health model for Windows 8 with a redesigned chkdsk tool for disk corruption detection and fixing. In past versions of the chkdsk and NTFS health model, the file system volume was either deemed healthy or not healthy. In Windows 8, Microsoft is changing things up. Rather than hours of downtime, Windows 8 splits the process into phases that include 'Detect Corruption,' 'Online Self-Healing,' 'Online Verification,' 'Online Identification & Logging,' and 'Precise & Rapid Correction.'"
dartttt writes "Florian Echtler has developed an open-source driver for the Microsoft Surface 2.0 touch screen. According to him, the open source implementation works surprisingly well on Ubuntu 11.10. The process requires you to boot Linux on your Surface 2.0 in the first place. However, it can be done by just booting Ubuntu from a USB hard disk without modify anything on the original Win7 installation."
sl4shd0rk writes "Apparently the USPS is enacting a ban on the international shipment of all devices containing Lithium Ion batteries. The ban is expected to lift in January of 2013. It seems like this would drive more business away from the already floundering USPS financial situation. The article focuses on the shipment of items out of the U.S., but doesn't mention whether the same ban will apply to purchasing these items on eBay from overseas sources."
An anonymous reader writes "Willow Garage has announced the launch of the Open Source Robotics Foundation. 'It's always been the intention of Willow Garage to create an independent body that can take our initial work in open source robotics and see it grow beyond the confines of a single organization,' said CEO Steve Cousins."