After years of accusations of creating a 'chilled work environment,' Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko resigned this morning (PDF). His largest achievement was perhaps killing the Yucca Mountain waste repository, and he oversaw the certification of the AP1000 reactor. It is unknown whether a new chairman will be appointed from within the NRC. Quoting the Washington Post: "The reason for his resignation is unclear. He is stepping down before the release of a second inspector general report rumored to be into allegations of Mr. Jaczko's misconduct. NRC spokesman Eliot Brenner told The Washington Times that the report had no impact on the timing of Mr. Jaczko's resignation announcement. Mr. Jaczko's statement was vague, saying that it 'is the appropriate time to continue my efforts to ensure public safety in a different forum. This is the right time to pass along the public safety torch to a new chairman...' While his statement did not specifically touch on the embarrassing revelations of his tyrannical approach to the job or its impact on NRC staff, he did sound a defiant note by claiming the NRC was 'one of the best places to work in the federal government throughout my tenure.'" Today also marks the start of the annual nuclear industry conference.
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redletterdave writes "On Monday, Foxconn agreed to invest $210 million to help Apple build out a new production line for 'unspecified components.' The 40,000-square-meter plant plans to hire roughly 35,800 new employees to help assemble parts for either desktop and laptop computers, iPhones, iPads, iPods, or possibly even new products or devices. Apple projects the plant's annual output between $949 million to $1.1 billion, and also estimates the import and export value at roughly $55.8 million."
First time accepted submitter n7ytd writes "The Register has a piece today about overcoming one of the biggest challenges to migrating to cloud-based storage: how to get all that data onto the service provider's disks. With all of the enterprisey interweb solutions available, the oldest answer is still the right one: ship them your disks. Remember: 'Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway.'"
MrSeb writes "It seems Minority Report-style computer interfaces might arrive a whole lot sooner than we expected: A new USB device, called The Leap, creates an 8-cubic-feet bubble of 'interaction space,' which detects your hand gestures down to an accuracy of 0.01 millimeters — about 200 times more accurate than 'existing touch-free products and technologies,' such as your smartphone's touchscreen or Microsoft Kinect. Unfortunately Leap Motion (the company behind the Leap) is being very tight-lipped about the technology being used, but it's probably some kind of infrared LIDAR (radar, but using light), or perhaps a high-resolution version of Kinect (which only uses a 640x480 camera). It's available to pre-order for $70 — and developers can register for a free device + SDK."
An anonymous reader writes "It looks simple. I've got a laptop and a USB HDD for backups. With rsync, I only move changes to the USB HDD for subsequent backups. I'd like to move these changes to a more portable USB stick when I'm away, then sync again to the USB HDD when I get home. I figured with the normality of the pieces and the situation, there'd be an app for that, but no luck yet. I'm guessing one could make a hardlink parallel-backup on the laptop at the same time as the USB HDD backup. Then use find to detect changes between it and the actual filesystem when it's time to backup to the USB stick. But there would need to be a way to preserve paths, and a way communicate deletions. So how about it? I'm joe-user with Ubuntu. I even use grsync for rsync. After several evenings of trying to figure this out, all I've got is a much better understanding of what hardlinks are and are not. What do the smart kids do? Three common pieces of hardware, and a simple-looking task."
An anonymous reader writes "3 graduate students from University of Tokyo, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Tsukuba have developed a colloidal display — a clear projector screen that can control its transparency. Normally soap film will allow light to pass through, but the colloidal display does not. It mixes colloid into the solution and uses ultra sonic speakers to vibrate the surface of the soap film to achieve this. They have created several prototypes, such as 3D planar screen, to show how this technology can be useful."
An anonymous reader writes "Low-power processor maker ARM Holdings is stepping up rhetoric against chip rival Intel, saying it expects to take more of Intel's market share than Intel can take from them. With Intel being the No. 1 supplier of notebook PC processors, and ARM technology almost ubiquitously powering smartphones, the two companies are facing off as they both push into the other's market space. 'It's going to be quite hard for Intel to be much more than just one of several players,' ARMs CEO said of Intel."
colinneagle writes with an excerpt from Network World: "Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in London began trials of a Kinect-driven camera last week that would sense body position, and by waving his or her hands, the surgeon can sift through medical images, such as CT scans or real-time X-rays, while in the middle of an operation. During surgery, a surgeon will stop and consult medical images anywhere from once an hour to every few minutes. So the surgeon doesn't have to leave the table, the doctor will work with assistants, but sometimes, if you want things done to your satisfaction, you have to do it yourself. Dr. Tom Carrell, a consultant vascular surgeon at Guy's and St Thomas', described an operation on a patient's aorta earlier this month to New Scientist. 'Up until now, I'd been calling out across the room to one of our technical assistants, asking them to manipulate the image, rotate one way, rotate the other, pan up, pan down, zoom in, zoom out.' With the Kinect, he says, 'I had very intuitive control.'"
PhunkySchtuff writes "I'm seeking the collective's recommendations on a laptop with a numeric keypad that doesn't suck. For practicality reasons, an external USB keypad is less convenient than a built-in one. A keypad is required for entry of lots of numbers, and using the alpha keys with the Fn key to turn them into a keypad is not acceptable. Looking at the larger manufacturers, it seems that none of their business grade laptops (e.g. Lenovo's T-Series or similar quality levels) have numeric keypads. Looking at their laptops that do have keypads, invariably they are cheap, plastic and flimsy. Looking at Lenovo's offering with a Keypad, whilst it's a 15" screen, the vertical resolution is just 768 pixels, and the build quality of it leaves a lot to be desired. I need to find something that is built to the quality of a 'real' ThinkPad, or even a MacBook Pro, but has a full-sized keyboard with a numeric keypad and there doesn't seem to be anything like that on the market at the moment. This is a mystery to me as to why it would be the case as I'd imagine it's business users who need to use a keypad more than the average user, yet it is the consumer grade laptops that have keypads."
An anonymous reader writes "MIT researchers have developed a highly articulated robotic manipulator based on soft materials that can harden to reposition the device. The technique is known as jamming, and it relies on pouches filled with granular material like coffee grounds; when air is removed from the pouches, they become rigid. The researchers combined jamming actuators with cables to build a manipulator resembling an elephant trunk. They say the device is low-cost, capable of grasping a variety of objects, and can remain in a hardened state for extended periods of time using little energy."
CowboyRobot writes "Opening with the line, 'To me, a personal computer should be small, reliable, convenient to use and inexpensive,' Steve Wozniak gave his system description of the Apple-II in the May, 1977 issue of BYTE. It's instructive to read what was worth bragging about back then (PDF), such as integral graphics: 'A key part of the Apple-II design is an integral video display generator which directly accesses the system's programmable memory. Screen formatting and cursor controls are realized in my design in the form of about 200 bytes of read only memory.' And it shows what the limitations were in those days, 'While writing Apple BASIC, I ran into the problem of manipulating the 16 bit pointer data and its arithmetic in an 8 bit machine. My solution to this problem of handling 16 bit data, notably pointers, with an 8 bit microprocessor was to implement a nonexistent 16 bit processor in software, interpreter fashion.'"
Barence writes "Computer scientists have unveiled a computer chip that turns traditional thinking about mathematical accuracy on its head by fudging calculations. The concept works by allowing processing components — such as hardware for adding and multiplying numbers — to make a few mistakes, which means they are not working as hard, and so use less power and get through tasks more quickly. The Rice University researchers say prototypes are 15 times more efficient and could be used in some applications without having a negative effect."
New submitter kimtysirt sends this excerpt from a Bloomberg report about U.S. tariffs for Chinese solar panels: "The U.S. yesterday imposed tariffs of as much as 250 percent on Chinese-made solar cells to aid domestic manufacturers beset by foreign competition, though critics said the decision may end up raising prices and hurting the U.S. renewable energy industry. The U.S. Commerce Department ruled that Chinese manufacturers sold cells in the U.S. at prices below the cost of production and announced preliminary antidumping duties ranging from 31 percent to 250 percent, depending on the manufacturer. China criticized the action, saying the U.S. is hurting itself and cooperation between the world’s two largest economies. The decision is meant to provide a boost to the U.S. solar manufacturing industry, where four companies filed for bankruptcy in the past year."
MrSeb writes "Using BrainGate, the world's most advanced brain-computer interface, a woman with quadriplegia has used a mind-controlled robot arm to serve herself coffee — an act she hasn't been able to perform for 15 years. BrainGate, which is being developed by a team of American neuroscientists from Brown and Stanford universities, and is currently undergoing clinical trial, requires a computer chip to be implanted in the motor cortex of the patient, which it then transmits to a computer for processing. Like all brain-computer interfaces, the user must train the software — but once this is done, you simply think of a movement, and the software moves the robot accordingly. Moving forward, the researchers would like to miniaturize the system and make it wireless — at the moment, BrainGate users have a box attached to their head, and they're tethered to a computer — which is OK for robot arm use at home, but obviously doesn't grant much mobility. The work was partly funded by DARPA, with the hope of creating more advanced prosthetics for wounded war veterans." This comes on the heels of a 71-year-old man regaining motor function in his fingers after doctors rewired his nerves to bypass the damaged ones.
jones_supa writes "RunCore announces the global launch of its InVincible solid state drive, designed for mission-critical fields such as aerospace or military. The device improves upon a normal SSD by having two strategies for the drive to quickly render itself blank. First method goes through the disk, overwriting all data with garbage. Second one is less discreet and lets the smoke out of the circuitry by driving overcurrent to the NAND chips. Both ways can be ignited with a single push of a button, allowing James Bond -style rapid response to the situation on the field."