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?"
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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."
circletimessquare writes "Everyone in the modern world has thrown away at least one thing that was perfectly good except for an easily fixed defect, because it's just easier to buy a new one. In the Netherlands, in the name of social cohesion, and with government and private foundation grants, there is a trend called the Repair Cafe (Dutch). People bring in broken items: a skirt with a hole in it, an iron that no longer steams, and they fix each other's stuff and meet their neighbors. Now that's an idea worth keeping."
surewouldoutlaw writes "Remember that scene in Fantasia where Mickey turns all the brooms into an army of workers? Well, Disney isn't quite there, yet. But scientists with the company's research lab at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh have been able to turn virtually any surface, including liquid water and the human body, into a multi-touch interface. The new system is called Touché, and it is as awesome as it sounds."
scharkalvin writes with this excerpt from the American Radio Relay League's site: "'For the second time since 1992, Heathkit Educational Services (HES) has shuttered its doors. Rumors of the legendary kit-building company's demise were posted on QRZ.com, with several readers bringing the news to the attention of the ARRL. In August 2011, Heathkit announced it was returning to the kit building business, and in September, that it would once again be manufacturing Amateur Radio kits. ... On LinkedIn, a popular networking site, HES Chief Executive Officer Lori Marciniak listed her employment ending at Heathkit as of March 2012. Likewise, Heathkit's Marketing and Sales Director Ernie Wake listed his employment ending in April 2012. An unsubstantiated report on Wikipedia states that "[in] December 2011, Heathkit Educational Systems laid off most employees and in March 2012, the company indefinitely suspended operations."' It looks like Heathkit is gone for good. Their plans on re-entering the kit market died with the current economy."
angry tapir writes "HP has unveiled an all-in-one thin client capable of being powered by an Ethernet cable. The t410 AiO supports the Type 1 Power over Ethernet (PoE) standard, which means it is capable of drawing its power from a network connection, although it can be powered by standard AC power. It uses an ARM-based processor and has an integrated 18.5-inch monitor, and it is capable of being used for virtual desktops through Windows RDP, VMware View and Citrix ICA."
First time accepted submitter kmoser writes "Like most people, I have a couple of surge protectors for sensitive/important electronics, and even a UPS for a couple of items like computers. But I don't have surge protector on all outlets, and these consumer-grade devices don't cover things like 220 volt appliances. Add to that the fact that I live in a lightning-prone area and it's only a matter of time before one of my expensive devices has a major meltdown. I've looked into full-home surge protectors that install next to the fuse box but the prices vary widely and I have no idea how reliable they are or what brands are good. An electrician friend tells me they can still blow out, and when they do they're difficult to replace if they were installed behind a wall. Can anybody shed some light on the best options for protecting all the electronics in my house with a single surge protector?"
jones_supa writes "Barton George, director of marketing for Dell's Web vertical reveals information about 'Project Sputnik', a laptop tailored for developer needs in web companies. 'We want to find ways to make the developer experience as powerful and simple as possible. And what better way to do that than beginning with a laptop that is both highly mobile and extremely stylish, running the 12.04 LTS release of Ubuntu Linux,' George ponders. He also gives a quick list of packages that the default installation could include. The machine will base on the XPS13, assessing a couple of its main hardware deficiencies along the way." According to the article, this is a "6 month project to investigate an Ubuntu laptop. If successful, we have big plans for the effort." It's unclear how closely they are working with upstream, but there's mention of Canonical as a commercial partner so this may mean Dell is working to ensure some of their hardware Just Works (tm) with Ubuntu. The software side is so far just a customized install with developer tools preinstalled. Ars remains skeptical about Dell's strategy for GNU/Linux support, which may be warranted given their track record.
rrossman2 writes "With the birth of our son (who is now just over two), we have snapped and accumulated a ton of pictures — on Panoramio, Picasa, Facebook, etc. What is the best option for bulk printing the photos to a physical format? We all know how fast technology advances, as well as how fast sites come and go; I want a way to have these pictures for my son when he is older... just like my grandfather has photos of himself from World War II, my parents have photos of me when I was little, etc. Are there any affordable services that you can upload the photos to that print and deliver long-lasting pictures? How well do today's photo ink jets last, and what's the best type of paper? I do have a cheaper Samsung color laser printer, but color lasers don't make the most color-rich prints, and using normal photo paper you can find in big box stores doesn't work out too well, as the laser toner seems to peel off on the rollers and gum things up. (Is there a good long lasting paper that seems to work well with laser printers?) I can see what's going to happen in the future: all of the digital photos people take now are going to either end up on a website that won't be around in 20+ years, or get stuck on disks or flash memory that won't last, or for which interfacing with the media will become difficult or impossible."
angry tapir writes "Micron has said that DDR4 memory — the successor to DDR3 DRAM — will reach computers next year, and that the company has started shipping samples of the upcoming DDR memory type. DDR4 is more power-efficient and faster than DDR3. New forms of DDR memory first make it into servers and desktops, and then into laptops. Micron said it hopes that DDR4 memory will also reach portable devices like tablets, which currently use forms of low-power DDR3 and DDR2 memory."