Submission + - Microsoft Mulling Smaller Windows 8 Tablets->

Nerval's Lobster writes: "Microsoft might want a piece of the mini-tablet market. The company lowered the minimum screen resolution for Windows 8 tablets, from 1,366 x 768 pixels to 1024 x 768 pixels. “This doesn’t imply that we’re encouraging partners to regularly use a lower screen resolution,” it wrote in an accompanying newsletter. “We understand that partners exploring designs for certain markets could find greater design flexibility helpful.” As pointed out by ZDNet’s Ed Bott—cited by other publications as the journalist who first noticed the altered guidelines—that lowered resolution “would allow manufacturers to introduce devices that are in line with the resolutions of the iPad Mini (1024 x 768) and the Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7 (both 1280 x 800).” Whatever the contours of the smaller-tablet market, it’s certainly popular enough to tantalize any potential competitor. But if Microsoft plunges in, it will face the same challenges that confronted it in the larger-tablet arena: lots of solid competitors, and not a whole lot of time to make a winning impression. There are also not-inconsiderable hardware challenges to overcome, including processor selection and engineering for optimal battery life."
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Submission + - Laser Fusion's Brightest Hope->

szotz writes: The National Ignition Facility has one foot in national defense and another in the future of commercial energy generation. That makes understanding the basic justification for the facility, which boasts the world's most powerful laser system, more than a little tricky. This article in IEEE Spectrum looks at NIF's recent missed deadline, what scientists think it will take for the facility to live up to its middle name, and all of the controversy and uncertainty that comes from a project that aspires to jumpstart commercial fusion energy but that also does a lot of classified work. NIF's national defense work is often glossed over in the press. This article pulls in some more detail and, in some cases, some very serious criticism. Physicist Richard Garwin, one of the designers of the hydrogen bomb, doesn't mince words. When it comes to nuclear weapons, he says in the article, “[NIF] has no relevance at all to primaries. It doesn’t do a good job of mimicking validates the codes in regions that are not relevant to nuclear weapons."
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Submission + - A Crash Course on Data Centers->

Pieroxy writes: Everyone is talking about "cloud", AWS and other hosting solutions where basically all the hardware details are hidden from you. But what if you want to manage your own hardware? What should you be aware of when visiting a datacenter? Criteo's engineering blog got an interesting introduction about datacenters, with some pointers on books and articles you should read to get started.
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Submission + - Frame capture tools produce new insight on game benchmarking->

crookedvulture writes: "A revolution is unfolding in the world of game benchmarking. Instead of using FPS averages that obscure brief but perceptible moments of stuttering, reviewers are increasingly moving to more representative metrics based on frame times. Their efforts are being bolstered by Nvidia, which has developed a suite of tools that allows for a deep analysis of the contents of the individual frames sent to the display. These "FCAT" tools will be freely distributable and modifiable, and some portions will be open-source. Examining the data they generate has produced new insight into how modern graphics cards really perform in games. The display output analysis made possible by the FCAT tools exposes "runt frames" that can make up only tiny slivers of the screen, rendering FPS averages especially meaningless. It also suggests that disruptions in smoothness can be measured both early in the pipeline, using Fraps, and later on, where FCAT takes into account frame metering technologies that can massage the flow of frames to the display."
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Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Is there any true Open Source ARM SOC?

An anonymous reader writes: After the unbelievably bitter experience that RPB proved to be (... so, I "talk" to the video card via a... "mailman"?! Hell no! I configure the video card via memory mapped registers) and some puzzling results of my investigation regarding the matter, I decided to ask the /. community: Is there any true Open Source ARM SOC? Preferably available on some sort of developer board? By true Open Source I mean all the gory details are made available for free (registers, bus timings and signaling, ports, ROM dumps, etc). Or is it that the IBM PC was the last truly open platform?
Data Storage

Submission + - Animation sophistication: The Croods required 80 million compute hours to create->

Lucas123 writes: It may be a movie about a stone age family, but DreamWorks said its latest 3D animated movie "The Croods" took more compute cycles to create than any other movie they've made. The movie required a whopping 80 million compute hours to render, 15 million more hours than DreamWorks' last record holder, "The Rise of the Guardians." The production studio said between 300 and 400 animators worked on "The Croods" over the past three years. The images they created, from raw sketches to stereoscopic high-definition shots, required about 250TB of data storage capacity. When the movie industry moved from producing 2D to 3D high-definition movies over the past decade, the data required to produce the films increased tremendously. For DreamWorks, the amount of data needed to create a stereoscopic film leaped by 30%.
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Submission + - Spanish Open Source Group Files Complaint Over Microsoft EUFI Boot-> 1 1

sl4shd0rk writes: Hispalinux, which represents Spanish Open Source developers and Users, has filed a complaint against Microsoft with the European Commision. 14 pages of grief cited Windows 8 as an "obstruction mechanism" calling EUFI Secure Boot a "de facto technological jail for computer booting systems ... making Microsoft's Windows platform less neutral than ever". on March 6 of 2012 the Commission fined Microsoft 561 million euros for failing to offer users a choice of web browser as well as a 2004 ruling which found M$ has abusted it's market position by tying Windows Media Player to Windows itself. Relations appear to remain more tense towards Windows in Europe so ther may be some hope of making EUFI more Linux friendly. EUFI has been implicated in the death of Samsung Laptops running Linux
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Submission + - Bezos Patenting 'Dumb' Tablets, Glasses, Windshields 2 2

theodp writes: GeekWire reports on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' pending patent on remote displays that communicate with base stations and operate on wireless power. Reducing devices to mere screens with minimal storage that receive pre-rendered content (e.g., bitmap images), the patent application explains, eliminates the need for bulky batteries or processors, and employing techniques like electromagnetic or electrostatic induction allows one to cut the cord completely. Such remote displays, Amazon suggests, could find a home on college campuses (tablets), in your car (windshield displays or DVD players), and even on your face (eyeglasses).

Submission + - NYC's Bloomberg On Drones: "Scary" But Inevitable-> 1 1

redletterdave writes: "New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg was asked in a radio interview about the domestic use of drones by the government: 'We're going into a different world unchartered, and like it or not, what people can do or governments can do is different, and you can to some extent control [that], but you can't keep the tides from coming in. We're going to have more visibility and less privacy. I don't see how you stop that. It's not a question of a question of whether I think it's good or bad — I don't see how you stop that.'"
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Submission + - World's Most Powerful Private Supercomputer Will Hunt Oil, Gas->

Nerval's Lobster writes: "French oil conglomerate Total has inaugurated the world’s ninth-most-powerful supercomputer, Panega. Its purpose: seek out new reservoirs of oil and gas. The supercomputer’s total output is 2.3 gigaflops, which should place it about ninth on today’s TOP500 list, last updated in November. The announcement came as Dell and others prepare to inaugurate a new supercomputer, Stampede, in Texas on March 27. What’s noteworthy about Pangea, however, is that it will be the most powerful supercomputer owned and used by private industry; the vast majority of such systems are in use by government agencies and academic institutions. Right now, the most powerful private supercomputer for commercial use is the Hermit supercomputer in Stuttgart; ranked 27th in the world, the 831.4 Tflop machine is a public-private partnership between the University of Stuttgart and hww GmbH. Panega, which will cost 60 million Euro ($77.8 million) over four years, will assist decision-making in the exploration of complex geological areas and to increase the efficiency of hydrocarbon production in compliance with the safety standards and with respect for the environment, Total said. Pangea will be will be stored at Total’s research center in the southwestern French city of Pau."
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Submission + - Drone swarm creates Star Trek logo in London Sky->

garymortimer writes: "As a harbinger for the Paramount film “Star Trek – Into Darkness”, starting in May in Europe’s cinemas, last night a swarm of 30 mini-helicopters equipped with the LED lights drew the Star Trek logo into the skies over London. The choreography for the show was developed by Ars Electronica Futurelab from Linz (Austria). Quadrocopter maker Ascending Technologies GmbH from Munich (Germany) provided the aircrafts."
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Submission + - 'Energy Beet' Power is Coming to America

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Gosia Wonzniacka reports that farmers in Fresno County, California, supported by university experts and a $5 million state grant, are set to start construction of the nation's first commercial-scale bio-refinery to turn beets into biofuel with farmers saying the so-called 'energy beets' can deliver ethanol yields more than twice those of corn per acre because beets have a higher sugar content per ton than corn. "We're trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to shift our transportation fuels to a lower carbon content," says Robert Weisenmiller. "The beets have the potential to provide that." Europe already has more than a dozen such plants, so the bio-refinery would resurrect a crop that has nearly vanished. The birthplace of the sugar beet industry, California once grew over 330,000 acres of the gnarly root vegetable (PDF), with 11 sugar mills processing the beets but as sugar prices collapsed, the mills shut down. So what’s the difference between sugar beets and energy beets? To produce table sugar, producers are looking for sucrose, sucrose and more sucrose. Energy beets, on the other hand, contain multiple sugars, meaning sucrose as well as glucose, fructose and other minor sugars, called invert sugars. To create energy beet hybrids, plant breeders select for traits such as high sugar yield, not just sucrose production. America's first commercial energy beet bio-refinery will be capable of producing 40 million gallons of ethanol annually but the bio-refinery will also bring jobs and investment putting about 80 beet growers and 35,000 acres back into production. "This project is about rural development. It's about bringing a better tax base to this area and bringing jobs for the people," says farmer John Diener,"

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Less Volatile Encryption?

FuzzNugget writes: A recent catastrophic hard drive failure has caused me to ponder whether the trade-off between security and convenience with software-based OTFE is worthwhile. My setup involves an encrypted Windows installation with TrueCrypt's pre-boot authentication, in addition to having data stored in a number of TrueCrypt file containers.

While it is nice to have some amount of confidence that my data is safe from prying eyes in the case of loss or theft of my laptop, this setup poses a number of significant inconveniences:

1. Backup images of the encrypted operating system can only be restored to the original hard drive (ie.: the drive that has failed). So, recovery from this failure requires the time-consuming process of re-installing the OS, re-installing my software and re-encrypting it. Upgrading the hard drive where both the old and new drives are still functional is not much better as it requires decryption, copying the partition(s) and re-encryption.

2. With the data being stored in large file containers, each around 100-200GB. It can be come quite burdensome to deal with these huge files all the time. It's also a particularly volatile situation, as the file container is functionally useless if it's not completely intact.

3. As much as I'd like to use this situation as an opportunity to upgrade to an SSD, use with OTFE is said to pose risks of data leaks, cause decreased performance and premature failure due to excessive write operations.

So, with that, I'm open to suggestions for alternatives. Do you use encryption for your hard drive(s)? What's your setup like and how manageable is it?

Submission + - IBM Dipping Chips in 'Ionic Liquid' to Save Power->

Nerval's Lobster writes: "IBM announced this week that it has developed a way to manufacture both logic and memory that relies on a small drop of “ionic liquid” to flip oxides back and forth between an insulating and conductive state without the need to constantly draw power. In theory, that means both memory and logic built using those techniques could dramatically save power. IBM described the advance in the journal Science, and also published a summary of its results to its Website. The central idea is to eliminate as much power as possible as it moves through a semiconductor. IBM’s solution is to use a bit of “ionic liquid” to flip the state. IBM researchers applied a positively charged ionic liquid electrolyte to an insulating oxide material—vanadium dioxide—and successfully converted the material to a metallic state. The material held its metallic state until a negatively charged ionic liquid electrolyte was applied in order to convert it back to its original, insulating state. A loose analogy would be to compare IBM’s technology to the sort of electronic ink used in the black-and-white versions of the Kindle and other e-readers. There, an electrical charge can be applied to the tiny microcapsules that contain the “ink,” hiding or displaying them to render a page of text. Like IBM’s solution, the e-ink doesn’t require a constant charge; power only needs to be applied to re-render or “flip” the page. In any event, IBM’s technique could conceivably be applied to both mobile devices as well as power-hungry data centers."
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Submission + - Now Google Is Making A Smart Watch Too!->

judgecorp writes: "With Samsung and (reportedly) Apple already making smart watches, Google has now joined the party. The Google Watch is apparently being made by the Android group, and could have some synergy with Google's other wearable tech — the Glass spectacles. The distinctive thing in Google's patent seems to be having two displays — one for public data and a flip-up one for more private stuff. ."
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Submission + - Kids Build Pill Dispenser to Win Raspberry Pi Award->

judgecorp writes: "The first Raspberry Pi Awards have picked the best projects built by schoolchildren using the Raspberry Pi. The winners included a team of 8 to 11 year olds, who built a door-answering machine for elderly or disabled people, and a team of 12 to 16 year olds, who made an automated pill dispenser for forgetful patients. Other categories included adults, who built a wireless home power consumption system."
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Submission + - Fukushima cooling knocked offline by...a rat

necro81 writes: The cooling system at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, responsible for keeping the spent fuel pools at an appropriate temperature, lost power early on March 18th. During the blackout, the temperature in the spent fuel pools gradually increased, although TEPCO officials indicated the pools could warm for four days without risking radiation release. Power was restored earlier this morning, and the pools should be back to normal temperature in a few days. During the repairs the charred remains of a rat were found in a critical area of wiring, leading some to believe that this rodent was the cause of this latest problem. At least it wasn't a mynock — then we'd really be in trouble.
Open Source

Submission + - Affordable, High-End, Audio-Responsive, Hackable LED Light->

Gibbs-Duhem writes: SaikoLED is a little company in the US that after 5 years of engineering, feedback, and installation experience is launching a pretty awesome open source and open hardware audio-responsive RGB+W Arduino-based LED light for a starting price of $79. The light is being launched using a new crowdfunding platform, also launched today, called Crowd Supply where you can donate now if you like.

There is a wide variety of really neat stuff in the technical blog which is also being used as a repository for general Arduino and LED Lighting know-how. Some examples which generally include both media and code are autonomous audio responsive mode, a deriviation for how to convert from HSI colorspace to RGB+W optimally, how to get 4 channels of 16-bit PWM on any ATmega32u4 based device (including Arduino Leonardo), a color changing surface that can be used as either a beautiful table for artwork or as a neuroscience tool to study the function of flicker phosphenes in generating geometric hallucinations, how to get arbitrary color correction functions using HSI colorspace, cool shades that make neat patterns on walls, and a start to extensive documentation about how the device works from a low level to a high level. On top of it all, they plan to run events like the myki Challenge and donate a portion of their lights to schools and hackerspaces if they get funded.

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Submission + - Israel patrols its borders with 10 autonomous off-road vehicles->

An anonymous reader writes: Since 2008 the Israeli Ministry of Defense has been operating up to 10 Guardian UGV autonomous off-road vehicles to patrol its borders. They look like armor plated jeeps, but are packed with tech allowing them to function independent of an operator.

Typically a Guardian UGV will be programmed to follow a set route continuously monitoring the surrounding area as it goes. If it spots something out of the ordinary it phones home and awaits further instructions. Alternatively, two guys with laptops can dial in and control the UGV directly. One has control of the vehicle movement while the other can position cameras and monitor an area using the built-in radar system.

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