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Portables (Apple)

Apple Doubles MacBook Pro R/W Performance 204

Posted by samzenpus
from the greased-lightning dept.
Lucas123 writes Benchmark tests performed on the 2015 MacBook Pro revealed it does have twice the read/write performance as the mid-2014 model. Tests performed with the Blackmagic benchmark tool revealed read/write speeds of more than 1,300MBps/1,400MBps, respectively. So what's changed? The new MacBook Pro does have a faster Intel dual-core i7 2.9GHz processor and 1866MHz LPDDR3) RAM, but the real performance gain is in the latest PCIe M.2 flash module. The 2014 model used a PCIe 2.0 x2 card and the 2015 model uses a PCIe 3.0 x4 (four I/O lanes) card. Twice the lanes, twice the speed. While Apple uses a proprietary flash card made by Samsung, Intel, Micron and SanDisk are all working on similar technology, so it's likely to soon wind up in high-end PCs.
Power

Costa Rica Goes 75 Days Powering Itself Using Only Renewable Energy 316

Posted by samzenpus
from the cleaning-things-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news about an impressive renewable energy accomplishment in Costa Rica. Costa Rica has achieved a clean energy milestone by using 100 per cent renewable energy for a record 75 days in a row. The feat was achieved thanks to heavy rainfall, which powered four hydroelectric plants in the first three months of the year, the state-run Costa Rican Electricity Institute said. No fossil fuels have been burnt to generate electricity since December 2014, in the state which is renowned for its clean energy policies."
Power

France Decrees New Rooftops Must Be Covered In Plants Or Solar Panels 247

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-at-least-fine-pastries dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A law approved in France Thursday now requires all new rooftops in commercial zones to be covered in plants or solar panels. "Green roofs have an isolating effect, helping reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a building in winter and cool it in summer. They also retain rainwater, thus helping reduce problems with runoff, while favoring biodiversity and giving birds a place to nest in the urban jungle, ecologists say." The law was actually watered down from its original version — businesses only have to cover part of their roof. In other solar power news, reader SpzToid notes that despite earlier worries, the European power grid handled the solar eclipse just fine
Transportation

Musk Says Drivers May Become Obsolete, Announces Juice-Saving Upgrades 341

Posted by timothy
from the dog's-not-that-shaggy dept.
Lucas123 (935744) writes During a discussion at a Nvidia conference, Elon Musk predicted that in the future, consumers will not be allowed to drive cars because it will be considered too dangerous. [Note: compare Lyft CEO Logan Green's opposite view] 'You can't have a person driving a two-ton death machine,' he said. Others agree. Thilo Koslowski, a vice president at Gartner, said instead of laws dictating drivers must cede control to their car's computer, we may someday someday just pass signs requiring drivers to activate auto-drive functionality for certain particularly treacherous stretches of roadway. Kowlowski said fully autonomous vehicles won't be ubiquitous for another 10 to 15 years, but the government could spur that on by offering tax incentives as it does today with all-electric vehicles and hybrids. Related news: it may not be fully autonomous driving, but Tesla S drivers are promised an upgrade a few months from now that gives a taste, with the addition of automatic steering features. And though it's perhaps anti-climactic as a solution to "ending range anxiety," Musk also announced today that Teslas will get in the next two weeks a software upgrade that will greatly upgrade the cars' routing software, integrating "near-realtime" lists of available supercharger stations, and keeping drivers apprised of whether one is within range.
Government

To Avoid NSA Interception, Cisco Will Ship To Decoy Addresses 296

Posted by timothy
from the name-is-smith-john-smith dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this news snipped from The Register: Cisco will ship boxes to vacant addresses in a bid to foil the NSA, security chief John Stewart says. The dead drop shipments help to foil a Snowden-revealed operation whereby the NSA would intercept networking kit and install backdoors before boxen reached customers. The interception campaign was revealed last May. Speaking at a Cisco Live press panel in Melbourne today, Stewart says the Borg will ship to fake identities for its most sensitive customers, in the hope that the NSA's interceptions are targeted. 'We ship [boxes] to an address that has nothing to do with the customer, and then you have no idea who, ultimately, it is going to,' Stewart says.
Media

Ask Slashdot: Building a Home Media Center/Small Server In a Crawlspace? 252

Posted by timothy
from the make-sure-you-can-retrieve-it-later dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I've decided it's time for me to build a separate machine specifically for use as a Media Center/Small Home Server. My wife and I haven't had cable TV in years, instead relying entirely on Netflix, other streaming sites, and hard copies we've bought over the years. Having just finished ripping our entire media collection (CDs, DVDs, and even our vinyls and VHS with the help of a capture card and some sweet digital voodoo) to a couple HDDs, I'm feeling froggy. Up until now we've been using WDTV Live, and it's been pretty snazzy, but I want to upgrade to a dedicated media machine instead of piggybacking off of my office computer. It'll be a Windows based machine utilizing Plex, and it's going in the crawlspace of the house. The crawlspace in question is unfinished, but I do have a dry concrete slab down there where I can put/mount/assemble something. Cooling won't be an issue obviously, and I am keeping a close eye on hardware specs with regards to moisture. It is still a crawlspace though. What would be a good setup to to house the hardware? Priorities being to safeguard against moisture, vermin, and dirt. Modified PC Tower? Rack? Build an enclosure? Something I haven't considered?

Please assume I'm stubborn and absolutely dead-set on putting it in the crawlspace to avoid the discussion devolving into the 'best' place to put a media machine."
Portables

Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Laptop To Support Physics Research? 385

Posted by timothy
from the budget-for-replacement-too dept.
An anonymous reader writes My daughter is in her third year of college as a physics major. She has an internship in Europe this summer, will graduate next year, and continue with graduate physics studies. Her area of research interest is in gravitational waves and particle physics. She currently has a laptop running Win7 and wants to buy a new laptop. She would like to use Linux on it, and plans to use it for C++ programming, data analysis and simulations (along with the usual email, surfing, music, pictures, etc). For all of the physics-savvy Slashdotters out there: what should she get? PC? Mac? What do you recommend for running Linux? For a C++ development environment? What laptop do you use and how is it configured to support your physics-related activities?
Power

Ask GM's Exec. Chief Engineer For Electric Vehicles Pam Fletcher a Question 229

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
Pam Fletcher was propulsion system chief engineer on the first Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and is now executive chief engineer for electrified vehicles at GM. A racing enthusiast, Pam developed racing engines for GM , McLaren, and NASCAR's Dale Earnhardt Sr.. Her current role has her running a multi-national department overseeing electrified vehicles company-wide. Fletcher has agreed to take a moment out of her busy day to answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: Good Keyboard? 451

Posted by Soulskill
from the must-fit-through-doors dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After five years of service, my keyboard is dying, and I'm starting to look for a new one. Since it's for my primary machine, and I spend a lot of hours there for both work and leisure, I'd like to invest in a high-quality replacement. What do you recommend? I've been using a Logitech G15, and it worked well enough — but not well enough for me to buy another. (I've also heard Logitech's build quality has been on the decline in recent years — has that been your experience, those of you who own their recent hardware?) My use cases include coding and gaming, so durability is a big plus.

I'd prefer something a bit less bulky than the G15, which has a raised area at the top for media controls and a tiny screen. I don't mind a thicker bottom bezel so much. I'm not a huge fan of ergonomic/split keyboards, but if you know a really excellent one, I wouldn't rule it out. Same with mechanical keyboards — love the action, but the noise is an issue. I don't need any particular bells and whistles, but don't mind them. As for a budget... as I said, it's for a heavy-use machine, so I don't mind investing in great hardware. (That said, if I'm spending $150+, it better automatically make sure all my semicolons are in the right place.) So, what keyboard has served you well?
Power

Deploying Solar In California's Urban Areas Could Meet Demand Five Times Over 437

Posted by Soulskill
from the full-conversion-mods dept.
Lucas123 writes: About 8% of terrestrial surfaces in California have been developed, ranging from cities and buildings to park spaces. If photovoltaic panels, along with concentrating solar power, were more effectively deployed in and around those areas, it could meet between three and five times what California currently uses for electricity, according to a new study. The study from the Carnegie Institution for Science, found that using small- and utility-scale solar power in and around developed areas could generate up to 15,000 terawatt-hours of energy a year using photovoltaic technology, and 6,000 TWh of energy a year using concentrating solar power technology. "Integrating solar facilities into the urban and suburban environment causes the least amount of land-cover change and the lowest environmental impact," post-doctoral environmental earth scientist Rebecca Hernandez said.
Power

US Wind Power Is Expected To Double In the Next 5 Years 262

Posted by Soulskill
from the will-power-8-light-bulbs-instead-of-4 dept.
merbs writes: The U.S. Department of Energy anticipates that the amount of electricity generated by wind power to more than double over the next five years. Right now, wind provides the nation with about 4.5 percent of its power. But an in-depth DOE report (PDF) released yesterday forecasts that number will rise to 10 percent by 2020—then 20 percent by 2030, and 35 percent by 2050.
Data Storage

Endurance Experiment Kills Six SSDs Over 18 Months, 2.4 Petabytes 204

Posted by timothy
from the die-die-die dept.
crookedvulture writes Slashdot has previously covered The Tech Report's SSD Endurance Experiment, and the final chapter in that series has now been published. The site spent the last 18 months writing data to six consumer-grade SSDs to see how much it would take to burn their flash. All the drives absorbed hundreds of terabytes without issue, far exceeding the needs of typical PC users. The first one failed after 700TB, while the last survived an astounding 2.4 petabytes. Performance was reasonably consistent throughout the experiment, but failure behavior wasn't. Four of the six provided warning messages before their eventual deaths, but two expired unexpectedly. A couple also suffered uncorrectable errors that could compromise data integrity. They all ended up in a bricked, lifeless state. While the sample size isn't large enough to draw definitive conclusions about specific makes or models, the results suggest the NAND in modern SSDs has more than enough endurance for consumers. They also demonstrate that very ordinary drives can be capable of writing mind-boggling amounts of data.
Earth

New Solar Capacity Beats Coal and Wind, Again 356

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-comes-the-sun dept.
Lucas123 writes Solar energy installations beat both wind generated and coal-fired energy for the second year in a row, according to a new report from GTM Research. While solar only makes up about 1 percent of U.S. energy, in 2014, it added nearly as many new megawatts as natural gas, which is approaching coal as the country's primary energy source. Solar capacity grew 32 percent from 2013 to 2014 and GTM is predicting it will grow 59% YoY this year. Just two years ago, in 2012, coal represented 41% of new energy capacity and solar only 10%. Last year, coal was down to 23% of new electrical capacity. Solar capacity growth last year represents a 12-fold increase over the amounts being installed in 2009. Key to solar adoption has been falling costs across market segments and states.
Businesses

Reactions to the New MacBook and Apple Watch 450

Posted by Soulskill
from the wrist-not-hip-enough dept.
As the dust settles from Apple's press conference yesterday, there have been a broad variety of reactions around the web. Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic says Apple's $10,000 watch demonstrates the company has lost its soul. "The prices grate. And they grate not because they’re so expensive, but because they’re gratuitously expensive. ... To many commentators, this is unsurprising. It’s good business sense, really. Apple has made its world-devouring profits by ratcheting up profit margins on iPhones. There is no better target for these massive margins than the super-rich. But high margins do not a luxury brand make." Others suspect the high-end watches are targeted more at rich people in China.

As for the less expensive watches, perhaps they're around not so much to become a new major sales category for Apple, but rather to drive more iPhone sales. Meanwhile, the redesigned MacBook may signify a bigger change for the laptop industry than people realize: "We don’t need all those other ports, Apple says. We are living in a wireless world now, where we can connect most of our peripherals without cords." The new MacBook has also fueled speculation that Apple could be working on a more powerful tablet, something that could compete with Microsoft's Surface Pro line.
Networking

Does USB Type C Herald the End of Apple's Proprietary Connectors? 392

Posted by timothy
from the u-stands-for-physically-incompatible dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Verge has an interesting editorial about the USB Type C connector on the new Macbook, and what this might mean for Apple's Lightning and Thunderbolt connectors. The former is functionally identical to USB Type C, and the latter has yet to prove popular in the external media and "docking" applications for which it was originally intended. Will Apple phase out these ports in favour of a single, widely-accepted, but novel standard? Or do we face a dystopian future where Apple sells cords with USB Type C on one end, and Lightning on the other?