Slashdot Deals: Deal of the Day - Pay What You Want for the Learn to Code Bundle, includes AngularJS, Python, HTML5, Ruby, and more. ×

Sensor Networks In San Francisco Finds Parking Spots 209

MrSeb writes "You've heard of smart cars, and now, rolling out in San Francisco, is a smart parking system that promises to eliminate the arduous process of finding a parking spot. SFpark is a network of magnetic sensors that have been installed under 8,200 street parking spaces, along with additional information from parking garages and parking meters. These sensors are all linked together in a mesh network, and ultimately link back to a central command center. Drivers can access this parking data via the SFpark website or smartphone app, and see in real-time where parking spaces are available. At any one time, a third of cars on the road in urban areas are looking for parking spots, consuming more fuel, creating more pollution, and causing more accidents. With SFpark, you can see at a glance where there's a parking spot — but in the future, you'll be able to hit a button and have your smartphone direct you to the nearest parking spot."

Crab Robot Helps Remove Stomach Cancer 83

redletterdave writes "Singaporean researchers have created a miniature robot with a pincer and a hook that can remove early-stage stomach cancers without leaving any scars. Mounted on an endoscope, it enters the patient's gut through the mouth. It has a pincer to hold cancerous tissues, and a hook that slices them off and coagulates blood to stop bleeding. With the help of a tiny camera attached to the endoscope, the surgeon sees what's inside the gut and controls the robotic arms remotely while sitting in front of a monitor screen. The robot has already helped remove early-stage stomach cancers in five patients in Hong Kong and India, using a fraction of the time normally taken in open and keyhole surgeries that put patients at higher risk of infection and leave behind scars."

Microsoft Releases Kinect For Windows 130

nk497 writes "Microsoft has released Kinect for Windows, featuring a new "near mode" that lets the gesture control tech be used as close as 40cm. The Kinect for Windows hardware will retail at $249 — well above the price of the version for Xbox 360 consoles. Microsoft defended the price difference, saying sales of games and Xbox Live subscriptions help subsidize the console version. The new version will support Windows 7 and the Windows 8 developer preview, as well as Windows Embedded 7 devices."

Mitt Romney, Robotics, and the Uncanny Valley 501

Hugh Pickens writes "Brian Fung writes in the Atlantic that one of Romney's electoral problems is that he occupies a kind of uncanny valley for politicians, inexplicably turning voters off despite looking like the textbook image of an American president. Just as people who interact with lifelike robots often develop a strange feeling due to something they can't quite name, something about Romney leaves voters unsettled. As with the robotic version of the uncanny valley, the closer Romney gets to becoming real to a voter, the more his likeability declines. 'The effect is almost involuntary, considering the substantial advantages Romney enjoys from appearance alone,' writes Fung. 'But in person, his polished persona gives way to what appears a surprisingly forced and inauthentic character.' Political commentator Dana Milbanks adds that although Romney is confident and competent, in casual moments his weirdness comes through — equal parts 'Leave It to Beaver' corniness and social awkwardness. 'Romney's task now is to work his way out of the uncanny valley toward a more compelling style of humanity,' concludes Fung. 'But every day he lingers in it, the hill grows steeper.'"

The Science of Human-Robot Love 88

MrSeb writes "Since Slashdot first covered lovotics back in July 2011, its creator — Hooman Samani — has been busy working on a couple of new applications for his fledgling scientific sphere of human-robot love: Kissenger and Mini-Surrogate. Kissenger is a robot with highly-sensitive and motor-actuated lips, which you can use to transmit a kiss to another Kissenger robot (held by a friend or loved one) over the internet. Mini-Surrogate is basically a real-world avatar that adds a physical element to video conferencing. Both are primarily for human-human use, but it's easy to imagine a Kissenger hooked up to an AI or video game. Likewise, the next Elder Scrolls game could come with a Mini-Surrogate, so that you can communicate with your in-game wife while you're knee-deep in fireballed orc."

Why the Raspberry Pi Won't Ship In Kit Form 240

An anonymous reader writes "A post at the Raspberry Pi blog shows an image containing the device's SoC and memory chip to help explain why the tiny PC won't ship in kit form. Clearly, the chips are so small, and the solder blobs required so tiny, that most people would mess up doing it by hand. Add to that the fact one chip has to sit on top of the other, and if you're a millimeter out, your chips are fried." The post also addresses the use of closed source libraries for graphics acceleration.

Megaupload Lawyer Says User Data Will Be Held For Two Weeks 94

First time accepted submitter AlistairCharlton writes "Users' data on the seized Megaupload website will be saved for two further weeks, according to the website's lawyer, despite being shut down by US authorities. From the article: 'Megaupload lawyer Ira Rothken reportedly told tech blog that users' data would be saved for at least another two weeks, after it was previously thought that the data would be deleted by Thursday, 2 February.'"

Facebook's Oregon Data Center Uses As Much Power As Entire County 208

1sockchuck writes "The first phase of the Facebook data center in Oregon uses 28 megawatts of utility power, local officials said this week. That's not extraordinary for a facility of that size in most data center hubs. But it stands out in Crook County, Oregon where all the homes and business other than Facebook use 30 megawatts of power. The economics of Facebook's presence in Oregon are outlined in a new study, which asserts that the Prineville facility has brought tens of millions of dollars into the local economy. The second phase of the Facebook project is now underway, and the local utility grid is being expanded to add capacity." The study claiming economic benefits was commissioned by Facebook (reader beware).

Installation of Blue Waters Petaflop Supercomputer Begins 86

An anonymous reader writes "The National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois is finally getting the troubled Blue Waters supercomputer installed. After IBM walked away from the project after 3 years of planning, Cray stepped in to pick up the $188 million contract. Now, in around 9 months time, Blue Waters should be fully operational and achieve performance of 1 petaflop or more. As for the hardware... who wouldn't want access to 235 Cray XE6 cabinets using AMD 16 core Opteron 2600 processors with access to 1.5 petabytes of memory (4GB per chip) and 500 petabytes of local storage."

Megaupload User Data Could Be Destroyed Soon 260

New submitter writes "According to the Associated Press, user data from the recently-closed file-hosting site Megaupload could be destroyed as soon as Thursday. Apparently Megaupload paid another company to actually store the data. 'But Megaupload attorney Ira Rothken said Sunday that the government has frozen its money. A letter filed in the case Friday by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said storage companies Carpathia Hosting Inc. and Cogent Communications Group Inc. may begin deleting data Thursday. ... The letter said the government copied some data from the servers but did not physically take them. It said that now that it has executed its search warrants, it has no right to access the data. The servers are controlled by Carpathia and Cogent and issues about the future of the data must be resolved with them, prosecutors said." There's also been talk of a lawsuit against the FBI over users' lost files.

Rockbox Developers Talk Open Source Firmware 179

angry tapir writes "I recently caught up with some of the key developers of Rockbox: An open source firmware replacement for the stock firmware shipped on MP3 players. The project, which has been active for over a decade, currently supports products from more than half a dozen manufacturers, including Apple, Arhcos, iRiver and Toshiba. It involves extensive reverse engineering to figure out how the devices' stock firmwares operate, as well as the challenge of developing for greatly varied targets. You can read the interview here (or the full Q&As with the project's founder and some of the developers involved in it)."

Siri Competitor Evi Arrives, But Already Overloaded 233

mikejuk writes "Evi, a new rival to Siri, Apple's voice-driven personal assistant, has made its debut on both the iPhone and Android. And people are so keen to that Evi's servers are overloaded — so be prepared for a wait for answers." The app costs 99 cents for iOS users, but it's free on Android.

DARPA Targets Computing's Achilles Heel: Power 100

coondoggie writes "The power required to increase computing performance, especially in embedded or sensor systems has become a serious constraint and is restricting the potential of future systems. Technologists from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are looking for an ambitious answer to the problem and will next month detail a new program it expects will develop power technologies that could bolster system power output from today's 1 GFLOPS/watt to 75 GFLOPS/watt."

New Spark Tablet To Come Loaded With KDE's Active Plasma Interface 114

mpol writes "KDE's Plasma Active introduced last Saturday its own 7" tablet. According to Aaron J. Seigo, 'It's the first tablet computer that comes with Plasma Active pre-installed.' The Spark, with its 7" screen, is built around a Cortex A9 with a Mali-400-gpu, 512MB RAM and an SD-card slot. It will have a 800x480 screen resolution and will cost around 200 Euro. It is actually a rebrand of the Zenithink ZT-180 C71, which comes with Android by default. On a personal note, Aaron J. Seigo will no longer be sponsored by Qt Development Frameworks to work on Qt and KDE. He will, however, stay involved with KDE and Free Software, he says."