ATX Hackerspace was there showing off robots and giving out soldering lessons and blinkies, without a single corporate pitch.) Under the same tent, I met with Jeff McAlvay, co-creator of Board Forge, which Jeff hopes will make small-run circuit board creation as easy and accessible as small-scale 3-D printing has become in the last few years. ("Think MakerBot for electronics.") The prototype hardware McAlvay had on hand looks -- in fact, is a 3-D printer, albeit one lower-slung than the ones that make plastic doo-dads. That's because the Board Forge's specialized task of assembling circuit boards requires only limited vertical movement. It's using the open-source OpenCV computer vision software and a tiny camera mounted on a movable head to accomplish the specialized task of selecting and placing components onto the boards. The tiny electronic components are lined up in strips on one side of the device, where that smart head can grab them for placement. The brains of the operation include an Arduino-family processor for basic controls, and a Raspberry Pi for the higher-level functions like computer vision. The projected cost for one of these machines — about $2000 — should put instant-gratification machine-aided circuit creation in reach of schools and serious hobbyists, but there's plenty of work before it's set for sale to the public; look for a Kickstarter project in the next few months.
An anonymous reader writes "A popular Seattle bar and restaurant has posted a notice on its Facebook page warning patrons that wearing Google Glass will not be tolerated. 'Ass kicking will be encouraged for violators,' wrote Dave Meinert, owner of the 5 Point Cafe, perhaps in a mock aggressive tone. GeekWire reports that Meinert raised privacy concerns in an interview with a local radio station: 'People want to go there and be not known and definitely don't want to be secretly filmed or videotaped and immediately put on the Internet.' A subsequent FB post includes more Meinert musings on Google Glass: 'They are really just the new fashion accessory for the fanny pack & never removed Bluetooth headset wearing set,' along with unflattering photos of a pair of early adopters."
An anonymous reader writes "The first release of Contiki, the open source operating system, was announced ten years ago today on Slashdot. From its inception, Contiki has been all about connecting 'unexpected things' to the Internet, including things like Lego bricks and Apple II computers. Today, Contiki is still going strong and is now being used in the Internet of Things, where it is connecting things like thermostats to smartphone apps throughout Europe."
Blug_fred writes "The Digital Freedom Foundation is proud to announce the first celebration of Hardware Freedom Day on Saturday April 20th, 2013. While registration has opened about a month ago and early registrants will receive free banners, posters and swags as long as they register before Friday 15th, anyone who registers is of course welcome to celebrate the Day! So get your hackerspace into order, your team members ready and showcase your best 'Get Into Hacking workshop' to entice your neighbours to start. Still not lucky enough to be part of a hackerspace structure? Then use that day to meet people who will be willing to join you in the project!"
New submitter ghops spotted Engadget's coverage of an interesting gaming machine at SXSW, writing: "Multimorphic shows off the P3, an innovative multi-game pinball platform. With a 27" 'touchscreen' LCD in the lower playfield and modular shot layouts comprising the upper playfield, the P3 delivers a 'one machine, many games' system where the physical pinball can interact with graphics on the screen as it rolls towards traditional, physical objects (ramps, loops, targets, etc) on the upper playfield. The system will ship with two games, one designed by famed pinball designer Dennis Norman, and it's an open platform allowing anybody to develop their own shot layouts and/or software. Because of its ball tracking technology, it can even play itself!"
Nate the greatest writes "Remember that really cheap 5" ereader that everyone was talking about back in October? It turns out that the price was too good to be true. Txtr, maker of the beagle ereader, has confirmed today that the beagle will be coming to the US market in the near future. But it's not going to cost $13. Instead this ereader will cost $69. It seems that txtr isn't having much luck selling the beagle to telecoms (where it was going to be marketed as a smartphone companion device), so they have instead decided to try to sell it in the retail trade, where it will have to directly compete against the Kindle. That is going to be a problem because the beagle is much less capable than the Kindle, even though it costs the same. The beagle won't work without a companion Android app which is needed to transfer files to the beagle over Bluetooth. That app requires Android 4.0 or above."
New submitter captioning writes "The Los Angeles Times reports on Throw Trucks With Your Mind, a multiplayer first-person 'gunless shooter' that uses an inexpensive, wireless EEG (electroencephalograph) headset to measure players' brainwaves and move virtual objects on screen. Depending on the strength of players' beta waves (emitted while concentrating), players toss small items like crates or catapult objects like trucks. Players can also draw things toward them by relaxing (and emitting alpha waves). Greater relaxation results in more power as well, so players learn quickly to be careful when attracting trucks. The success of Throw Trucks could lead to stronger demand for neural feedback games worldwide."
DeviceGuru writes "Videos from four keynote talks and two-dozen sessions at the Embedded Linux Conference 2013 in San Francisco last month are now available for free viewing, courtesy of the Linux Foundation, which held the event. The videos cover a wide range of embedded Linux development, deployment, and marketing topics. One particularly interesting session was Andrew Chatham's presentation on Google's self driving cars."
holy_calamity writes "Companies large and small are working to create the first "killer app" for Google Glass, the wearable display to go on sale later this year, reports MIT Technology Review. Evernote is among large companies that got early access to prototypes and has been testing ideas for some time, but is staying quiet about its plans. Meanwhile new startups with apps for Glass are being created and funded, although uncertainty about whether consumers will embrace the technology has steered them towards commercial and industrial ideas, such as apps for for doctors and maintenance technicians."
recoiledsnake writes "This article notes, 'A new technology built into Google Glass, dug up by New Scientist, takes Google Glass from interesting to down right creepy. Google Glass can now pick a person out of crowd based on their fashion style. The system, InSight, developed in partnership with Google, will take a nice little moment to assess the clothing in frame, and then point out exactly where your friends are in busy settings like a bar, concert, or sporting event. It could probably point you out in a protest, or shopping mall too.' We previously discussed the disorienting effects on the wearer of the device."
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to make the Pentagon disclose whether military drones are being used in U.S. airspace to spy on U.S. citizens. This follows Rand Paul's filibuster on the floor of the Senate in which he demanded answers from the Obama administration as to whether drone strikes on U.S. soil were a possibility. (Senator Paul received an amusingly brief response (PDF) to his 13-hour question.) From the article: 'A requirement buried in a lengthy appropriations bill calls on newly confirmed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to disclose to Congress what "policies and procedures" are in place "governing the use" of military drones or other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) domestically. The report is due no later than 90 days after the bill is signed into law. The vote on the bill, which was overwhelmingly supported by Republicans and opposed by Democrats, comes as concerns about domestic use of drones have spiked. ...The House's language stops short of requiring Hagel to disclose whether he or his predecessor have taken the step of approving the targeting of any U.S. citizens for surveillance.'"
crookedvulture writes "Slashdot has already covered the four main flavors of Cherry MX mechanical key switches: red, black, blue, and brown. Now, there's a green MX variant that emulates the feel of the buckling spring switches in old-school IBM Model M keyboards. The green switches combine tactile feedback, an audible click, and a stiff spring that requires 80g of actuation force. They're a stiffer version of the MX blues that more closely matches the characteristics of IBM's buckling spring design. Previously reserved for use with space bars, the green switches have now taken over an entire Cooler Master keyboard. And, unlike the old Model M and contemporary copycats, the new CM Storm Trigger has modern conveniences like an integrated USB hub, LED backlighting, and programmable macros." I've had my hopes raised and then dashed by some other keyboards whose makers promised Model M feel, so I'll believe it when I feel and hear it.
mikejuk writes "Microsoft Research is currently having a Techfest at Redmond where it is showing off a lot of new work. The latest work on the Kinect uses the same sort of machine-learning approach to distinguish between an open hand and a clenched fist. Although there are no details, its general method was to use a large number of images of people's hands and supervised training to distinguish between open and closed hands. The learning algorithm is based on a forest of decision trees, which is the same general method used to implement the skeleton tracking. Being able to detect an open or closed hand might not seem to be much of an advance, and certainly not as good as a multi-gesture touch screen interface, but it is enough to allow the user interface to distinguish a "pick up" or "grip" gesture. So you can move the hands within an image, close both hands to grip the image points and move apart to zoom. You can't get the software at the moment, but it has been promised for the next version of the Kinect SDK for Windows along with the long awaited 3D scanner Kinect Fusion."
An anonymous reader writes "In as little as a few days, the British-made Surrey Training, Research, and Nanosatellite Demonstrator (STRaND-1) satellite will begin transitioning its key systems over to a completely stock Android Nexus One smartphone that's been bolted to the bottom of it. The mission is designed to test the endurance of off-the-shelf consumer hardware, and to validate Android as a viable platform for controlling low-cost spacecraft. STRaND-1 managed to beat NASA's own 'PhoneSat' mission to the punch, which will see a Nexus One and Nexus S launched into space aboard the April test flight of the Orbital Sciences Antares commercial launch vehicle, the prime competitor to SpaceX's Falcon 9."
Qedward writes "Virgin Atlantic is preparing for a significant increase in data as it embraces the Internet of Things, with a new fleet of highly connected planes each expected to create over half a terabyte of data per flight. IT director David Bulman said: 'The latest planes we are getting, the Boeing 787s, are incredibly connected. Literally every piece of that plane has an internet connection, from the engines, to the flaps, to the landing gear. If there is a problem with one of the engines we will know before it lands to make sure that we have the parts there. It is getting to the point where each different part of the plane is telling us what it is doing as the flight is going on. We can get upwards of half a terabyte of data from a single flight from all of the different devices which are internet connected.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that at about 11:45 am today, Kentucky Republican Rand Paul took the floor of the Senate to launch one of the chamber's rarest spectacles: a genuine filibuster. Paul says he is 'alarmed' at the lack of definition over who can be targeted by drone strikes. He called Attorney General Eric Holder's refusal to rule out drone strikes to kill an American on U.S. soil 'more than frightening,' adding, 'When I asked the president, can you kill an American on American soil, it should have been an easy answer. It's an easy question. It should have been a resounding, an unequivocal, "No." The president's response? He hasn't killed anyone yet. We're supposed to be comforted by that.' Any senator can opt to hold the floor to speak on any matter, but the practice of speaking for hours on end is rare, especially in the modern-day Senate, where the chamber's rules are used more often to block legislation or to hold show votes on trivial matters. Paul has since been joined in his symbolic effort by Republicans Sens. Mike Lee (Utah), Ted Cruz (Tex.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Saxby Chambliss (Ga.). He has also gotten some bipartisan support from Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.). Paul suggested that many college campuses in the 1960s were full of people who might have been considered enemies of the state. 'Are you going to drop a Hellfire missile on Jane Fonda?'"
crookedvulture writes "Seagate's has revealed its next-generation hybrid drives, and for the first time, there's a 3.5" desktop model in the mix. The new family of so-called SSHDs includes standard and slim notebook variants with 500GB and 1TB capacities, plus 1TB and 2TB desktop versions. All of them combine mechanical platters with 8GB of NAND in a dual-mode SLC/MLC configuration. The SLC component is largely reserved to cache host writes, while the MLC portion is filled with frequently accessed data to speed read performance. Despite MLC NAND's lower write endurance, Seagate claims the SSHDs have more than enough headroom to last at least five years with typical client workloads. More impressively, the mobile SSHDs are supposed to be faster than the old Momentus XT hybrid even though they have slower 5,400-RPM spindle speeds. The mobile models are slated to start selling shortly at $79 for 500GB and $99 for 1TB, while the 1TB and 2TB desktop flavors are due in late April for $99 and $149, respectively. Unlike other NAND caching solutions, Seagate's tech requires no software or drivers, making it compatible with any OS."
New submitter FoolishBluntman sends this quote from CNN: "An unmanned drone came within 200 feet of a commercial jet over New York, triggering an FBI appeal to the public for any information about the unusual and potentially dangerous incident. The crew of Alitalia Flight 608 approaching John F. Kennedy airport on Monday reported the sighting. 'We saw a drone, a drone aircraft,' the pilot can be heard telling air traffic controllers on radio calls captured by the website LiveATC.net. ... The unmanned aircraft, described by the FBI as black and no more than three feet wide with four propellers, came within 200 feet of the Boeing jetliner. The FBI said it was looking to identify and locate the aircraft and its operator. A source with knowledge of the incident says investigators interviewed the pilot and others on the Alitalia plane."
Kittenman writes "The BBC magazine has an article on human trust of robots. 'As manufacturers get ready to market robots for the home it has become essential for them to overcome the public's suspicion of them. But designing a robot that is fun to be with — as well as useful and safe — is quite difficult.' The article cites a poll done on Facebook over the 'best face' design for a robot that would be trusted. But we still distrust them in general. 'Eighty-eight per cent of respondents [to a different survey] agreed with the statement that robots are "necessary as they can do jobs that are too hard or dangerous for people," such as space exploration, warfare and manufacturing. But 60% thought that robots had no place in the care of children, elderly people and those with disabilities.' We distrust the robots because of the uncanny valley — or, as the article puts it, that they look unwell (or like corpses) and do not behave as expected. So, at what point will you trust robots for more personal tasks? How about one with the 'trusting face'?" It seems much more likely that a company will figure out sneaky ways to make us trust robots than make robots that much more trustworthy.
New submitter Dputiger writes "Nvidia's latest GTX Titan puts a renewed focus on multi-monitor gaming, but how does it compare against other cards at half the price? 'The games we tested fall into two general camps. Arkham City, DiRT 3, and Serious Sam: BFE are all absolutely playable on the GTX 680 or 7970 in a single-card configuration, even with detail settings turned all the way up. Shogun 2, Metro 2033, and Crysis 3 aren’t. In Shogun 2 and Metro 2033, however, the Titan maintains a playable frame rate at High Detail when the other two cards are stumbling and stuttering. Crysis 3 was the one exception — in that game, all three cards remained playable at High Detail, and dropped below that mark once we increased to Very High Detail and added 4x SMAA.' Field of view adjustments, the impact of bezels, and single-card performance at multiple detail levels are all covered, as is the price of multi-screen setups."