An anonymous reader writes "John Carmack, co-founder of id Software, is using his spare time to develop a modern virtual reality headset. After purchasing such a device last year, Carmack became frustrated with how slowly the technology has progressed over the past twenty years. So, he decided to push it forward himself. PCGamer reports that he's been showing off his prototype behind closed doors at E3 this year, and has an interview with him about the problems with VR and the technical challenges he needs to overcome. They even get a look at the prototype itself, which is currently held together with duct tape."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "Slashdotters may remember the Solar Impulse — the world's first 100% solar-powered airplane — from last year when it made its public debut. Today the airplane made news again as it successfully completed the world's first solar-powered intercontinental flight — a pivotal step that paves the way for the plane's first trip around the world in 2014."
ananyo writes with a story about more concrete plans for a reduced or nuclear-free energy future for Japan. From the article: "It's official: nuclear power will have a much smaller role in Japan's energy future than was once thought. Since the meltdowns and gas explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station in March 2011, all of Japan's remaining reactors have been shut down for inspections and maintenance. The government offered a glimpse of their future, and that of the country's nuclear power in general, when it published an outline of four ways to satisfy Japan's future energy demands. One scenario recommends using a market mechanism to determine the nuclear contribution. Under the other three, nuclear power would supply at most one-quarter of Japan's energy by 2030 — and in one case, none at all. The scenarios come from a 25-person advisory committee to the industry ministry. The sharp reductions in the nuclear power part of the country's energy mix mean that Japan will struggle to reach the 31% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions that it had planned by 2030 (PDF)."
kkleiner writes "Wouldn't it be awesome if our tablets and smartphones could have buttons that morphed out of the touchscreen, and then went away again when we didn't need them? It sounds like magic, but now it is reality. Created by Tactus Technology, a Fremont, California-based start-up, Tactus is a deformable layer that sits on top of a touchscreen sensor and display. 'The layer is about 0.75mm to 1mm thick, and at its top sits a deformable, clear layer 200 nm thick. Beneath the clear layer a fluid travels through micro-channels and is pushed up through tiny holes, deforming the clear layer to create buttons or shapes. The buttons or patterns remain for however long they are needed, just for a few seconds or for hours when you’re using your iPad to write that novel. And because the fluid is trapped inside the buttons, they can remain for however long without additional power consumption. They come or go pretty quickly, taking only a second to form or disappear.'"
1sockchuck writes "Netflix has launched its own content delivery network to manage data delivery for its streaming video service. ISPs can choose to host caching appliances in their data centers, or peer with Netflix at Internet Exchanges. 'Netflix will provide either form of access at no cost to the ISP,' it said. As part of Open Connect, Netflix is sharing its hardware appliance design and the open source software components of the server. Does this mean Armageddon for the CDNs currently serving Akamai? Not really, according to analysts, citing the leverage Netflix had in dealing with providers."
snowdon writes "The race for low-latency in finance and HPC has taken a major turn. A bunch of engineers from Australia have 'thrown away the air conditioning' in a traditional switch, to get a 10G fibre-to-fibre latency of less than 130ns! Way faster than more traditional offerings. This lady (video) would tell you that it's equivalent to just 26m of optical fibre. Does that mean we just lose money faster?"
MrSeb writes with the scoop on Asus's new Transformer tablet/laptop devices: "If you've ever looked at an Asus Transformer and wished that it was slightly bigger, had an x86 processor, and ran Windows, I have good news: At Computex in Taiwan, Asus has unveiled just that. Dubbed the Transformer Book, this isn't some wimpy Atom-powered thing either: This Transformer will ship with a range of Ivy Bridge Core i3/5/7 processors and discrete Nvidia graphics. Like its Android-powered predecessors, the Transformer Book is a touchscreen tablet computer that plugs into keyboard docking station, effectively becoming a laptop (or ultrabook, if you prefer). Rounding out the specs, the Transformer Book will come in a range of models (11.6, 13, and 14 inches), your choice of SSD or HDD, up to 4GB of RAM. All three models will have an IPS display capable of full HD (1920×1080). There's a webcam on the front of the tablet portion of the Transformer, and a 5-megapixel shooter on the back. There's no mention of wireless connectivity, but presumably there's Bluetooth and WiFi; on the wired side, there seems to be only a single micro-HDMI socket (on the tablet), and a USB socket (on the keyboard/dock). On the software side, the Transformer Book will of course run Windows 8. It all sounds great — but Asus kept one tiny tidbit out of its presentation: battery life." Aside from the Nvidia graphics (which, from the looks of it, can be disabled for the on-chip output), perhaps this could be the first "tablet" capable of running fully Free Software? (UEFI evil aside).
garymortimer writes with news of the test flight of a hydrogen powered UAV. From the article: "Phantom Eye's innovative and environmentally responsible liquid-hydrogen propulsion system will allow the aircraft to stay on station for up to four days while providing persistent monitoring over large areas at a ceiling of up to 65,000 feet, creating only water as a byproduct. The demonstrator, with its 150-foot wingspan, is capable of carrying a 450-pound payload."
Nerval's Lobster writes "NoSQL databases sometimes feature a concept called document storage, a way of storing data that differs in radical ways from the means available to traditional relational SQL databases. But what does 'document storage' actually mean, and what are its implications for developers and other IT pros? This SlashBI article focuses on MongoDB; the techniques utilized here are similar in other document-based databases."
angry tapir writes "ARM chips made with an advanced, 20-nanometer manufacturing process could appear in smartphones and tablets by as soon as the end of next year, the head of ARM's processor division said Monday. The more advanced chips should allow device makers to improve the performance of their products without reducing battery life, or offer the same performance with longer battery life."
chrb writes "Nintendo has announced that its new Wii U console will feature a social network called the Miiverse in which users can video chat, see what others are playing, share game content and swap tips." And with a nod to Zawinski's Law, "The redesigned Wii U GamePad features dual sticks, a touch screen that supports finger and stylus interaction, motion and gyroscope sensors, and the ability to act as a TV remote. The Wii U GamePad has its own dedicated Web browser and can share images and video to a TV so that everyone can enjoy the shared content."
An anonymous reader writes "The Raspberry Pi received an extraordinary amount of pre-launch coverage. It truly went viral with major news corporations such as the BBC giving extensive coverage. Not without reason, it is groundbreaking to have a small, capable computer retailing at less than the price of a new console game. There have been a number of ventures that have tried to produce a cheap computer such as a laptop and a tablet but which never materialised at these price points. Nothing comes close to the Raspberry Pi in terms of affordability, which is even more important in the current economic climate. Producing a PC capable of running Linux, Quake III-quality games, and 1080p video is worthy of praise." Beyond praise, though, this article details the hooking-up and mucking-about phases, and offers some ideas of what it's useful for.
An anonymous reader writes "Here's a scenario: you are on a vacation trip for a couple of weeks — on the road. Lots of pictures — 2-300 per day. Maybe some text files with short notes etc. You have a camera with Eye-Fi, a PC, and a phone with WiFi and 3G. Files ends up on the PC (mobile storage), phone provides Internet connectivity. Now, if you wanted to upload all files pretty much as you go — given spotty access to Internet over G3 and WiFi — what would be the best way to do that automatically; set-it-and-forget-it style? I would like them to end up on my own server. rsync script? ownCloud? Some BitTorrent setup? Other? I'm thinking of interrupted file transfers due to no network, re-starts etc. And I would not want to lose any files; including scenarios where files gets deleted locally — that should not result in files getting automatically deleted on the server as well. Sure; I could perhaps use something like Dropbox but that would take the fun out of it."
NicknamesAreStupid writes "Product Design & Development reports another breakthrough in small scale solid oxide fuel cells. This methane-fueled cell achieves about 50% efficiency at around 2kW, enough to power an average home. It does so by efficiently recycling its heat to perpetuate the process. Of course, this is not practical for most homes, which only have natural gas that contains nearly one fifth impurities. However, that could change if gas suppliers refined their product."
aonsquared writes "In a previous Slashdot story, I demonstrated a voice-controlled robotic arm using the open-source speech decoder Julius. This time, I have managed to port the system to a Raspberry Pi to control the same robotic arm, and as usual, posted the tutorial and source code. Some negative reviews of the Raspberry Pi are starting to appear, and they're missing the educational point of this device — I'm hoping this will counter the naysayers, and help inspire a new generation of hackers, as well as also bring open-source speech recognition the same attention as proprietary solutions (i.e Siri) are getting!"