the_newsbeagle writes "Adrian Cheok, a professor of electrical engineering in Japan, wants to invent a "multisensory Internet" that will transmit not just information, but also experiences. To usher in this new age, he started by building a haptic system that enabled him to send a hug to a chicken via the Internet. Next came the 'huggy pajama' project, which allowed distant parents to send their kid a goodnight squeeze. Lately he's begun working on sending a taste over the internet with his 'digital lollypop' project."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
hackingbear writes "China Unicom, the country's second largest telecom operator, has replaced Cisco Systems routers in one of the country's most important backbone networks, citing security reasons [due to bugs and vulnerability.) The move came after a congressional report branded Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and ZTE Corp. security threats in the United States, citing bugs and vulnerability (rather than actual evidence of spying.) Surprising to us, up to now, Cisco occupies a large market share in China. It accounts for over a 70 percent share of China Telecom's 163 backbone network and over an 80 percent share of China Unicom's 169 backbone network. Let's wait to see who's the winner in this trade war disguised as national security."
An anonymous reader writes "Ubuntu for the Nexus 7 was released today and Ubuntu Member Benjamin Kerensa has provided photos and video of it in action." I wish the Nexus 7 had what most Android tablets lack: a full-size USB port (or SD card slot) to make such OS experimenting easier.
Hugh Pickens writes "Tricia Romano writes in the NY Times that over the last 10 years, purchasing a hearing aid had become even more difficult and confusing than buying a new car — and almost as expensive. 'I visited Hearx, the national chain where I had bought my previous aids. There, a fastidious young man spread out a brochure for my preferred brand, Siemens, and showed me three models. The cheapest, a Siemens Motion 300, started at $1,600. The top-of-the-line model was more than $2,000 — for one ear. I gasped.' A hearing aid is basically just a microphone and amplifier in your ear so it isn't clear why it costs thousands of dollars while other electronic equipment like cellphones, computers and televisions have gotten cheaper. Russ Apfel, an engineer who designed a technology now found in all hearing aids, says there is no good reason for the high prices. 'The hearing aid industry uses every new thing, like digital or a new algorithm, to raise prices,' says Apfel. 'The semiconductor industry traditionally reduces the cost of products by 10 to 15 percent a year,' he said, but 'hearing aids go up 8 percent a year annually' and have for the last 20 years."
Nerval's Lobster writes "The Green Grid, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making IT infrastructures and data centers more energy-efficient, is making the case that data center operators are operating their facilities in too conservative a fashion. Rather than rely on mechanical chillers, it argues in a new white paper (PDF), data centers can reduce power consumption via a higher inlet temperature of 20 degrees C. Green Grid originally recommended that data center operators build to the ASHRAE A2 specifications: 10 to 35 degrees C (dry-bulb temperature) and between 20 to 80 percent humidity. But the paper also presented data that a range of between 20 and 35 degrees C was acceptable. Data centers have traditionally included chillers, mechanical cooling devices designed to lower the inlet temperature. Cooling the air, according to what the paper originally called anecdotal evidence, lowered the number of server failures that a data center experienced each year. But chilling the air also added additional costs, and PUE numbers would go up as a result."
New submitter seawall writes "Paul Allen just opened the Living Computer Museum in Seattle. The 'Living' means many of the computers are actually running. There's a Xerox Sigma 9, which was introduced in 1971 and is quite similar to the computer that sent the first signal over Arpanet. There's also Tops-10 on original DEC hardware, an operating TOAD-1 system, and a DEC PDP-7 that's one of only four in the world."
Tator Tot writes with this quote from Chemical & Engineering News: "Using today's technologies and knowledge, a scale-up of fledgling algal biofuel production sufficient to meet even 5% of U.S. transportation fuel demand is unsustainable, says a report released last week by the National Research Council. The report examines the efficiency of producing biofuels from microalgae and cyanobacteria with respect to energy, water, and nutrient requirements and finds that the process falls short. The energy from algal biofuel, the report finds, is less than the energy needed to make it. In terms of water, at least 32.5 billion gal would be needed to produce 10 billion gal of algae-based biofuels, the report states. The study also finds that making enough algal biofuels to replace just 5% of U.S. annual transportation fuel needs would require 44–107% of the total nitrogen and 20–51% of the total phosphorus consumed annually in the U.S."
We recently discussed news of a UK court ruling in which the judge decided Apple must publicly acknowledge that Samsung's Galaxy Tab did not infringe upon the iPad's design, both on the Apple website and in several publications. The acknowledgement has now been posted, and it's anything but apologetic. It states the court's ruling, helpfully referring to "Apple's registered design No. 000018607-0001," and quotes the judges words as an advertisement. The judge wrote, "The informed user's overall impression of each of the Samsung Galaxy Tablets is the following. From the front they belong to the family which includes the Apple design; but the Samsung products are very thin, almost insubstantial members of that family with unusual details on the back. They do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design. They are not as cool." They go on to mention German and U.S. cases which found in Apple's favor. Apple's statement concludes, "So while the U.K. court did not find Samsung guilty of infringement, other courts have recognized that in the course of creating its Galaxy tablet, Samsung willfully copied Apple's far more popular iPad."
theodp writes "Conceding that he hadn't actually played with one, Apple CEO Tim Cook told Wall Street that Microsoft's Surface tablet is 'a fairly compromised, confusing product' in the company's 4Q earnings call. Cook joked, 'I supposed you could design a car that flies and floats, but it wouldn't do those things very well.' In Apple's 2Q earnings call, Cook also mocked the idea of touch on a laptop or desktop, quipping, 'You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not going be pleasing to the user.' Cook added, 'We've done tons of user testing on this, and it turns out it doesn't work. Touch surfaces don't want to be vertical.' So, is Cook just pulling a page from Steve Jobs' people-don't-read-anymore playbook, or is he unaware that children happily used vertical touch screens forty years ago on UIUC's PLATO System (more PLATO History)?"
An anonymous reader writes "LG held a big launch party today for its highly anticipated 84-inch Ultra HD TV. The launch was held at Video & Audio Center in the L.A. area, which sold six sets within two hours. The MSRP had been set at $19,999 but we now know the street price: $16,999. 'My wife would rather I waited,' said one of the buyers." The article claims a couple of times that "Ultra HD 4K" has ~4000 vertical lines of resolution, but that's not true: the (unimplemented?) 8K spec is the one with 4320 lines of resolution confusingly enough. In any case, that's a lot of pixels. Maybe this means we'll finally see computer monitors break through the "HDTVs are the dominant consumers of LCD panels" barrier of 1920x1080.
smackay writes "Virginia Tech's Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory is building a humanoid robot designed for dangerous rescue missions as part of the new DARPA Robotics Challenge. Lab founder/director Dennis Hong calls it the 'greatest challenge of my career.' The robot's name: THOR" From the article: "The task is massive: The adult-sized robot must be designed to enter a vehicle, drive it, and then exit the vehicle, walk over rubble, clear objects blocking a door, open the door, and enter a building. The robot then must visually and audibly locate and shut off a leaking valve, connect a hose or connector, climb an industrial ladder and traverse an industrial walkway. The final and possibly most difficult task: Use a power tool and break through a concrete wall. All these tasks must be accomplished under a set time limit."
sfcrazy writes "Andrew Wafaa, an ARM developer who is responsible for porting openSUSE to ARM, just got his hands on the Chromebook, and he managed to run openSUSE on it." Hopefully that means other distros can be soon ported to the Chromebook as well.
Says a story at Slash Datacenter: "Dell announced Oct. 24 that it had taken the next step into the low-power server market through the development of a second ARM-based server platform, which it will donate to the Apache Software Foundation for software development and app porting. The 'Zinc' concept runs the Calxeda EnergyCore chip, an ARM-based processor that the company hopes will eventually be featured in data centers running specialized workloads. It follows Dell’s earlier effort, dubbed 'Copper,' which it released in May. Neither server is commercially available, with Dell saying only that it would bring the hardware to market at an 'appropriate time.' Dell has said that it believes that the ARM-based server market is approaching an inflection point, and that it believes now is the right time to help foster development and testing of operating systems and applications for ARM servers. It’s a big step for the company, which has historically been an all-Intel shop, only occasionally buying processors from AMD." The ASF has access to the server (humming in a data center in Austin), and it's been busy: developers have "performed more than a dozen builds within the first 24 hours of the servers’ deployment, and on-going builds are being performed by the Apache Derby, River, Tapestry, and Thrift projects."
concealment writes "State-owned Baotou Steel Rare Earth (Group) Hi-tech Co. said in a statement released through the Shanghai Stock Exchange that it suspended production Tuesday to promote 'healthy development' of rare earths prices. It gave no indication when production would resume and phone calls to the company on Thursday were not answered. Beijing is tightening control over rare earths mining and exports to capture more of the profits that flow to Western makers of lightweight batteries and other products made of rare earths. China has about 30 percent of rare earths deposits but accounts for more than 90 percent of production. Beijing alarmed global manufacturers by imposing export quotas in 2009. It also is trying to force Chinese rare earths miners and processors to consolidate into a handful of government-controlled groups."
1sockchuck writes "Facebook has now adapted its Open Compute servers to work in leased data center space a step that could make the highly-efficient 'open hardware' designs accessible to a broader range of users. The Open Compute Project was launched last year to bring standards and repeatable designs to IT infrastructure, and has been gaining traction as more hardware vendors join the effort. Facebook's move to open its designs has been a welcome departure from the historic secrecy surrounding data center design and operations. But energy-saving customizations that work in Facebook's data centers present challenges in multi-tenant facilities. To make it work, Facebook hacked a rack and gave up some energy savings by using standard 208V power."