harrymcc writes "On August 3, 1977, Radio Shack announced its TRS-80 microcomputer at an event in New York City. For the next several years, it was the world's most popular PC — but it never got the respect it deserved. (I still wince when I hear 'Trash-80.') Over at TIME.com, I'm celebrating the anniversary with some reflections on the machine and why it was so underappreciated."
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cylonlover writes "There are plenty of different 3D printers to choose from these days, from the popular Makerbot Thing-O-Matic to the budget-priced Solidoodle. These all have one drawback, however, in that they aren't exactly portable. Most need to be disassembled to be moved, and even the fully-assembled Cubify printer isn't really built for travel. But now, two MIT students have developed the PopFab, a machine that does 3D printing and more, all while fitting inside a small suitcase. With different heads, the machine could also be used for milling, vinyl cutting, drawing, and much more, to create a wide variety of objects. The creators have also tested its portability by traveling with it as a carry-on suitcase to Saudi Arabia, Germany, and within the U.S."
ptorrone writes "Open-source hardware company Adafruit has released a Linux Raspberry Pi distro for hardware hacking and teaching electronics. This distro comes with SPI, I2C, & OneWire WiFi. It also has some things to make overall hacking easier, such as sshd on startup (with key generation on first boot) and Bonjour (so you can simply ssh raspberrypi.local from any computer on the local network). The distro is called Occidentalis v0.1. Rubus occidentalis (the black raspberry) is derived from Raspbian Wheezy, and is available for download here."
As data centers become more common and more advanced, there's been a movement to automate and consolidate control of data center components, and an industry is starting to grow around it. "While VMware pushes a programmable data model based on its technologies, vendors such as Puppet Labs are making the case for a more platform-neutral approach. Puppet Labs has developed a declarative language for configuring systems that can be extended across the data center: the organization recently announced the creation of an open source project in conjunction with EMC, called Razor, to accomplish that goal. There’s already open source project known as Chef, created by Opscode, with a similar set of goals. In a similar vein, Reflex Systems, a provider of virtualization management tools, is trying to drum interest in VQL, a query language that the company specifically developed for IT pros."
First time accepted submitter zonky writes "Tokelau has become the first country in the world to go 100% solar power generation, moving away from their entirely diesel power supply, which formerly supplied the energy needs of the 1400 residents of their small south pacific Island Nation. From the article: 'All three atolls in the South Pacific dependency, a New Zealand territory, will have their own solar power system by the end of October, despite a slight delay switching on the first system.'"
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from an article at Geek.com "A team of computer scientists at Harvard University have developed a piece of software that allows anyone to 3D print their own action figures at home. Not only will the models carry the likeness of the character, they will also be fully articulated. The software can take an animated 3D character and figure out where best to place its joints. In what is referred to as reverse rendering, the software first looks at an animated character's shape and movement and identifies the best joint points (original paper, paywalled). It then adjusts the size of the different parts of the model so as to allow a real joint to work once printed. Optimizations are then carried out to produce a model as close as possible to the on-screen version, but at the same time workable as an actual real-world, articulated 3D model." The bad news: Harvard is patenting everything and wants to commercialize it on a proprietary basis. The good news: An anonymous reader pointed toward the paper in full.
ananyo writes "South Korea's oldest nuclear reactor is set to restart after a four-month closure, despite strong opposition from local residents and activists. The Kori-1 reactor in Busan was shut down on 13 March, after it was revealed that the reactor and its emergency generator had temporarily lost power during routine maintenance the month before, causing the coolant temperature to rise. The power failure did not cause an accident, but a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna discovered that senior engineers from Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, which runs the reactor, had neglected the safety problems for more than a month after the loss of power. In June, after a safety check, the IAEA gave the green light for Kori-1 to resume operation. Korea's Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) approved the restart on 4 July, but activists and local residents remain strongly opposed to restarting the reactor. At first, the Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy, which oversees energy policy, had said that the restart would be delayed to alleviate anxiety. But the government changed its mind as a result of a nationwide heatwave that has put a strain on the country's electricity supply in recent days."
An anonymous reader writes "After my collision the world went blank but I didn't see angels and harps because the highway and the crash situation were imaginary, created inside Ford's Virttex (virtual text track experiment cockpit simulator). Functioning much like a simulator for pilots, this domed virtual world on pitching and sliding stilts has been used to test car cockpits and instruments since 2001. It played a role in the development of recent center stacks such as MyFord Touch. In recent years, Ford used Virttex driver distraction research to learn more about what causes driver inattention and what countermeasures Ford can embed into cars to keep people like me from becoming another Darwinian statistic. It also gives Ford a leg up on the competition — Ford says it's the only automaker in the U.S. with a virtual reality simulator of this magnitude."
will_die writes "The Commodore 64 came out 30 years ago and to celebrate this the BBC went and got two groups of kids to try out an old system, complete with tape drive. It's sure to bring a few grins to people who had one of these old systems. From the article: 'The Commodore's ability to display 16 colours, smoothly scroll graphics and play back music through its superior SID (sound interface device) chip - even while loading programs off tape - helped win over fans, but it did not become the market leader until the late 1980s.'" Last spring a modern version of the C64 was released.
derekmead writes "A new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory finds that solar holds more potential to generate more power (PDF) than any other clean energy source. The NREL broke things down into four groups: urban and rural utility-scale photovoltaics (giant solar plants, basically) as well as rooftop solar and concentrated mirror arrays. Between those technologies, which are all already on the market, the NREL reckons there's a proven potential for solar to hit a capacity of 200,000 gigawatts in the United States alone. For some perspective, 1 gigawatt is what a single nuclear power plant might generate, and it's more than most coal plants. A gigawatt of capacity is enough to power approximately 700,000 homes."
Virtual reality headsets have historically been very disappointing. While the concept has been fun and interesting, the technological realities never quite lived up to expectations, and hardware developers largely gave up on research into this kind of device. However, it's been long enough that display technology has caught up to our ambitions. So, where are our VR headsets? Well, hobbyist Palmer Luckey asked that same question, and when he couldn't find a good answer, he decided to build one himself. He and his team have built a prototype, and they just launched a Kickstarter campaign to distribute developer kits. The campaign blew past its $250,000 goal in hours. What's interesting about this particular campaign is that Palmer took the Oculus Rift to various development studios and managed to get enthusiastic endorsements from some big names, including Cliff Bleszinski, Gabe Newell, and John Carmack.
The name — MidAtlantic Retro Computing Hobbyists — might make you think this is a bunch of nerds who get together to enthuse over long-obsolete computer hardware and ASCII computer games. And that's exactly what it is. There are farmers who gush over antique tractors, drivers who love antique cars, and music lovers who dote on old phonographs. So why not old computers? Many people in the computer industry seem to have asked that question, so there are lots of computer museums around. MARCH was just the group Slashdot ran into at HOPE. Their website has lots of links that will help you connect with fellow antique computer buffs (assuming you are one), wherever you may be. See here a member showing off the MacGyveresque process that is booting BASIC and playing a game on a reproduction Apple I. Update: 08/01 15:20 GMT by U L : Evan Koblentz (the guy in the video) commented with a bit more information on MARCH (including info on the discussion list and computer museum).
postermmxvicom writes "I have a friend who is a mechanic, but enjoys tinkering with software and hardware as a hobby. I want to get him a gift that will either broaden his horizons or deepen his understanding in these fields. He is proficient at soldering components and removing them from circuit boards. His programming experience is with a wide variety of scripting languages. He recently used teensy and arduino boards and an accelerometer to add some bells and whistles to a toy car he made. He also used his knowledge to help a friend find and correct weaknesses in his shareware (that would have let 'customers' share more freely than intended). He is fascinated that people can create chips to modify existing hardware. Do you know of any good books or kits (or even tools of the trade) that would appeal to a hobbyist and allow him to grow? Is there anything that might also play off of his handyman/mechanic abilities?"
retroworks writes "J.D. Tuccille of the conservative think tank Reason Foundation discusses last week's news about the first working 3D-printed gun. According to the original article, the partly plastic '.22-caliber pistol, formed from a 3D-printed AR-15 (M16) lower receiver, and a normal, commercial upper' fired 200 rounds without any sign of wear and tear. Tuccille takes the discovery in the direction of politically topical gun control. '...the development makes it clear that a wide range of bans, restrictions and prohibitions are becoming increasingly unenforcable.' But in my mind, this example of additive-manufacturing technology raises even more questions about patent law enforcement. Will 3D printing be to the Anti-gray-market-alliance what online porn became to neighborhood blue laws?"
jones_supa writes "To accompany Windows 8, Microsoft has released some interesting keyboard and mouse devices, all of which are wireless and use Bluetooth. The Wedge Touch Mouse is an artful product shaped as an angular wedge, being compact enough for travel too. Wedge Mobile Keyboard follows the style of laptop keyboards and includes a snap-on cover. Sculpt Touch Mouse is more like a classic mouse, but features a four-way touch-scroll strip. Finally, we have Sculpt Mobile Keyboard, which is a lighter version of a classic curved keyboard. All four are on the expensive side, but at first blush seem high-quality."