Lucas123 writes "On the news that Linus Torvalds's SSD went belly up while he was coding the 3.12 kernel, Computerworld took a closer look at SSDs and their failure rates. While Torvalds didn't specify the SSD manufacturer in his blog, he did write in a 2008 blog that he'd purchased an 80GB Intel SSD — likely the X25, which has become something of an industry standard for SSD reliability. While they may have no mechanical parts, making them preferable for mobile use, there are many factors that go into an SSD being reliable. For example, a NAND die, the SSD controller, capacitors, or other passive components can — and do — slowly wear out or fail entirely. As an investigation into SSD reliability performed by Tom's Hardware noted: 'We know that SSDs still fail.... All it takes is 10 minutes of flipping through customer reviews on Newegg's listings.' Yet, according to IHS, client SSD annual failure rates under warranty tend to be around 1.5%, while HDDs are near 5%. So SSDs not only outperform, but on average outlast spinning disks."
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MojoKid writes "News from Intel (and Google) today includes an announcement that more Chromebooks are on their way to market packing Intel's Haswell processors. The new chips are designed to consume less power, thus preserving battery life for an all-day charge, while still offering better overall performance. Google notes that there are schools in over 20% of school districts across the country that now use Chromebooks, and with prices for some of the machines dipping as low as $199, deploying fleets of these machines in academia is an attractive option. What's interesting is the alignment between Intel and Google now, which should cause folks in Redmond to smart a bit, as yet another major competitor to the Windows operating system seems to clearly be coming into focus. Intel-Google partners including Acer, ASUS, HP, and Toshiba will be rolling out Chromebooks based on Haswell soon, and they'll collectively be sporting more variety of form factors."
awarrenfells writes "After a shareholder vote, Michael Dell is expected to buy out and take Dell Inc. private. This move comes in the wake of plans to move Dell into position as an enterprise computing provider, but some analysts state this move may have come too late, much of the target market being taken by IBM and HP already." Nerval's Lobster provides some more details at Slash Cloud: "[T]he final buyout price was $13.75 a share, which includes a 13-cent-a-share “special dividend.” All told, that puts the deal’s price at $24.9 billion. In order to reach this point, Dell and Silver Lake had to fend off activist investor Carl Icahn and investment firm Southeastern Asset Management, which made their own combined play for a restructured capitalization. In a series of public letters, Icahn argued that Dell’s privatization proposal undervalued the company, and—at least until the beginning of September—made it very clear that he was willing to fight things out in court. By convincing the shareholders that his plan is the best route forward, Dell avoids what could have devolved into a very protracted and messy battle. Michael Dell wants to focus the majority of the company’s efforts on services, essentially remaking it into a tech firm more along the lines of IBM."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Apple's iPhone 5S features a fingerprint scanner embedded in the home button. Of course, fingerprint-scanning technology isn't new: Bloomberg Terminals feature a built-in fingerprint reader to authenticate users, for example, and various manufacturers have experimented with laptops and smartphones that require a thumb to login. But the technology has thus far failed to become ubiquitous in the consumer realm, and it remains to be seen whether the new iPhone — which is all but guaranteed to sell millions of units — can popularize something that consumers don't seem to want. Security experts seem to be adopting a wait-and-see attitude with regard to Apple's newest trick. 'I'd caution right away, let's see how it tests and what people come up with to break it,' Brent Kennedy, an analyst with the U.S. Computer Emergency and Readiness Team, told Forbes. 'I wouldn't rely on it solely, just as I wouldn't with any new technology right off the bat.' And over at Wired, technologist Bruce Schneier is suggesting that biometric authentication could be hacked like anything else. 'I'm sure that someone with a good enough copy of your fingerprint and some rudimentary materials engineering capability — or maybe just a good enough printer — can authenticate his way into your iPhone,' he wrote. 'But, honestly, if some bad guy has your iPhone and your fingerprint, you've probably got bigger problems to worry about.'"
crookedvulture writes "Bay Trail has its first convertible design win. Intel's newest SoC will be available in Asus' Transformer Book T100, which combines a 10.1" Windows 8.1 tablet with a keyboard dock that includes a gesture-friendly touchpad and USB 3.0 connectivity. The tablet is powered by an Atom Z3740 processor with quad cores clocked at up to 1.8GHz—600MHz slower than the Z3770 chip benchmarked by the press. The screen has a relatively low 1366x768 resolution, but at least the IPS panel delivers wide viewing angles. Asus clearly intends the T100 to be an entry level device; the 32GB version is slated to sell for just $349, and the 64GB one will cost only 50 bucks more. Those prices include the keyboard dock and a copy of Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013. They also bring Windows 8 convertibles down to truly budget territory, completing the collision between tablets and netbooks."
An anonymous reader writes "The New York Times reports, 'For eight decades, Manson Whitlock kept the 20th century's ambient music going: the ffft of the roller, the ding of the bell, the decisive zhoop ... bang of the carriage return, the companionable clack of the keys. From the early 1930s until shortly before his death last month at 96, Mr. Whitlock, at his shop in New Haven, cared for the instruments, acoustic and electric, on which that music was played. Mr. Whitlock was often described as America's oldest typewriter repairman. He was inarguably one of the country's longest-serving. Over time he fixed more than 300,000 machines, tending manuals lovingly, electrics grudgingly and computers never. "I don't even know what a computer is," Mr. Whitlock told The Yale Daily News, the student paper, in 2010. "I've heard about them a lot, but I don't own one, and I don't want one to own me."'"
jones_supa writes "The sudden death of a solid-state drive in Linus Torvalds' main workstation has led to the work on the 3.12 Linux kernel being temporarily suspended. Torvalds has not been able to recover anything from the drive. Subsystem maintainers who have outstanding pull requests may need to re-submit their requests in the coming days. If the SSD isn't recoverable he will finish out the Linux 3.12 merge window from a laptop."
Vigile writes "Today at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, the company officially released the Atom Z3000 series of SoCs (Bay Trail) based on the Silvermont architecture. Unlike previous Atom designs, the Z3000 and Silvermont is a completely re-architected product from the ground up and is no longer based on legacy processors. Changes include a move to an out-of-order x86 architecture with drastically improved single threaded performance but the removal of Intel's HyperThreading technology. Dual-core modules with 1MB of shared cache can be paired up to create a quad-core SoC that also includes upgraded graphics design. Intel is no longer depending on PowerVR for a GPU and has integrated a 4 EU (execution unit) Intel HD Graphics design that is very similar to the one used in Ivy Bridge. As a result, as tested at PC Perspective in both Windows 8.1 and Android 4.2.2, the Bay Trail part is as much as 4x faster in single threaded tasks and 3.5x faster in gaming and graphics. Power consumption remains nearly the same as it did with Clover Trail (Atom Z2760) but with improved power gating and support for Connected Standby, Intel's new Atom looks and feels completely different than any before it." MojoKid notes that Intel also announced an "open" SoC architecture (where open involves you giving Intel tons of money).
New submitter Johnny G. Mills writes "During a gamejam (an event to quickly develop and build an interesting game), two members of Sassybot Studio used a projector, Microsoft Kinect, and two moving boxes to create a simulator for defusing a bomb. They used me as a test subject, and thought Slashdot would enjoy this convergence of tech and gaming. 'The wires generated in Bomb Defuse Simulator 2013 are created procedurally to provide the player with a random challenge each time the game is played. ... The controls in the game are split up into physical input and Xbox controller input. With physical input the player moves around the bomb to see what is happening. This is literally done by walking around the real environment ... In our case we projected onto cardboard boxes to prove the concept. In theory this concept can be applied to larger and more unconventional objects. Doing so will challenge the game designer with utilizing the real space in order to create a game in virtual space.'"
SmartAboutThings sends this excerpt from Technology Personalized: "Intel has started shipping the fourth generation Haswell chips for tablets, which brings power-efficient processors and hence much better battery life to Windows tablets. According to IDG, Intel has now started shipping new low-power, fourth-generation Core i3 processors, including one that draws as little as 4.5 watts of power in specific usage scenarios. These new Haswell processors could go into fanless tablets and laptop-tablet hybrids, bringing longer battery life to the devices. This is a great news for Windows lovers, who have had to sacrifice performance for battery life (and vice versa) until now. Now, with almost 50% better battery life as promised by Intel for Windows tablets, the OEMs have no real need to come out with Windows RT based tablets and hybrids anymore."
Lucas123 writes "At Disrupt this week, Ossia Inc. demonstrated for the first time its wireless charging technology that founder Hatem Zeine said has a 30-foot radius and, like WiFi, can charge through walls and 'around corners.' The technology, still in prototype phase, uses the same spectrum as other wireless standards, such as WiFi and Bluetooth. The Cota wireless charging system includes a charger and a receiver — either a dongle device or chip-tech integrated into a product, such as a smartphone or battery. While it has yet to be miniaturized, Zeine said the wireless technology will eventually be small enough to fit into a AAA battery or any portable electronic device. While the technology has wider industrial implications, as a consumer product, a charging unit will likely sell for around $100, he said."
crookedvulture writes "Seagate has begun shipping hard drives based on a new technology dubbed Shingled Magnetic Recording. SMR, as it's called, preserves the perpendicular bit orientation of current HDDs but changes the way that tracks are organized. Instead of laying out the tracks individually, SMR stacks them on top of each other in a staggered fashion that resembles the shingles on a roof. Although this overlap enables higher bit densities, it comes with a penalty. Rewrites compromise the data on the following track, which must be read and rewritten, which in turn compromises the data on the following track, and so on. SMR distributes the layered tracks in narrow bands to mitigate the performance penalty associated with rewrites. The makeup of those bands will vary based on the drive's intended application. We should see the first examples of SMR next year, when Seagate intends to introduce a 5TB drive with 1.25TB per platter. Traditional hard drives top out at 4TB and 1TB per platter right now."
Alfred Poor, long-time display technology expert and senior editor for aNewDomain, has some insight here, which he shares with us in today's video. There's obviously a lot more to discuss about TV technology advances (such as 3d) that we didn't get to today, so look forward to another discussion on this topic in two or three weeks.
Koookiemonster writes "Our company has many projects, each one with a folder on a Samba drive (Z:\). Our problem is syncing only the programmers' current projects (~30 at any time) between Z:\ and their C:\Projects\-folder on five Windows 7 laptops. If we sync the whole Z:\-drive, our projects folders would be filled with too many subfolders, making it difficult to navigate. The folders contain OpenPCS projects (PLC) and related files (Word, Excel, PDF documents); a common project folder is 50 MB. Is there any easy to use, low-budget sync software with scripting, so that we could e.g. only sync folders that exist locally?" (Read more details, below, of what Koookiemonster is looking for.)
DeviceGuru writes "On the eve of the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, AMD unveiled what it calls an ambidextrous embedded roadmap, based on a series of new system-on-chip (SoC) and accelerated processing unit (APU) products built from both ARM and x86 CPU cores. Planned for launch in 2014 are an ARM Cortex A57-based 'Hierofalcon' SoC, a 'Bald Eagle' APU using a new 'Streamroller' x86 CPU, a multi-core x86 'Steppe Eagle' APU, and an 'Adelaar' discrete Embedded Radion GPU. 'There are different customer needs in different segments of this market, from low-power to high-performance, Linux to Windows, and x86 to ARM,' commented Arun Iyengar, VP and general manager, of the AMD Embedded Solutions division." Update: 09/10 16:54 GMT by T : As Slash DataCenter notes, this roadmap includes an SoC aimed specifically at datacenters.
cold fjord writes "ZDNet reports, 'Seagate on Monday took the wraps off a hard drive designed for tablets that brings 7x the storage capacity of a 64GB device with the same performance as a Flash drive. The drive, the Seagate Ultra Mobile HDD, uses software to boost performance. The idea is that Android tablet manufacturers will use the Seagate drive, along with the company's mobile enablement kit and caching software, to up the storage. The 2.5-inch drive is 5 mm thin and weighs 3.3 ounces. As for capacity, the drive has 500GB---enough for 100,000 photos and 125,000 songs.' More at The Wall Street Journal."
mikejuk writes with some robot eye candy, in the form of this excerpt: "If you think its cool to video the unboxing of your latest mobile phone — think again. Unboxing a robot has a lot more going for it and reaches a whole new level of sci-fi realized. The Atlas robot is a standard humanoid robot to be used by competitors in the DARPA Robotics challenge. Built by Boston Dynamics, it is in the same line as Petman and BigDog. It is now being delivered to the labs that will take part and the temptation to make an unboxing video has been irresistible They arrive in plain of wooden crates as if they were auto parts. Next it is unwrapped and lifted out of its packing case using a crane. It looks black and threatening — just like a sci-fi movie but watch the videos and see."
theodp writes "Throwing some cold water on the buzz surrounding the Galaxy Gear Smartwatch launch, The New Yorker's Matt Buchanan questions how smart a watch can really be. Calling offerings like the Galaxy Gear useful but not the stuff of dreams and revolutions, Buchanan writes, 'So there remains a strange undercurrent of hope that somebody-Apple-will figure out, soon, some grander vision for wearable technology, transforming it from something that people have vaguely imagined into something people intensely desire. It did it for smartphones, once, and again, for tablets. The question that Apple has been charged with, since nobody has definitively answered it yet, is whether the lack of an invention that truly carries us beyond the last five hundred years of wrist-mounted technology is the result of a failure of imagination or simply a fact of nature-that a watch will always just be a watch, no matter how smart it might think it is.' So, will you be an early adopter and drink Samsung's or Sony's smartwatch Kool-Aid, wait to see what Apple comes up with, or hold out for a Windows Forearm Pad 8?"
MojoKid writes "Tesla CEO Elon Musk has more on his mind that just cars and 4,000 MPH Hyperloop transportation systems. He also tweeted his intention of developing a hand-manipulated holographic design engine and designing a rocket part with only hand gestures, finally printing the part in titanium." And now Musk has posted the video he promised showing off the design process: "Musk showed a wireframe of the rocket part, and he was able to rotate the 3D object on a screen with one hand, and with a second hand, he zoomed in and out, moved it around the screen, and spun the object around and "caught it"--all in the air. He moved on to manipulating an actual 3D CAD model and interacting with the software; you can see that he used a Leap Motion controller. Next, he shows off a 3D projection, a freestanding glass projection (Ironman style), and interacts with the model using the Oculus Rift. Finally, he prints the part in titanium with a 3D metal printer. Note that we don't actually see him design anything; the models he works with are already made. Still, it's exciting to see new ways of doing things come to life on screen."
An anonymous reader writes "Using a Lego Mindstorms set, a Mac, and optical character recognition, Austrian professor Peter Purgathofer created a makeshift ebook copier. From the article: 'It's sort of a combination of high tech meets low. The scanning is done by way of the Mac's iSight camera. The Mindstorms set does two things: Hits the page-advance button on the Kindle (it appears to be an older model, like the one in the picture above), then mashes the space bar on the Mac, causing it to take a picture.' Purgathofer calls the creation a 'reflection on the loss of long established rights.' Check out the Vimeo video for a demonstration."
jjslash writes "CPU cooling units are an often-overlooked but always important side of PC building, whether you're looking to overclock or you simply want a cool-running, silent system. It's also easy to get lost if you aren't an enthusiast who keeps tabs on the best options. TechSpot has rounded up 10 high-end CPU coolers (read: huge heatsinks) including top units from Noctua, Thermalright, Xigmatek, Silverstone and Thermaltake. If you're willing to spend the cash, they rate the Noctua NH-U14S as the best overall pick. For a tighter budget, the Thermalright offerings provide the best bang for your buck."
colinneagle writes with word of work done by researchers at Arizona State University, Delaware State University and GFS Technology Inc., who find that the multiple-picture sequence security option of Windows 8 suffers from various flaws -- some of them specific to a password system based on gestures, and some analogous to weaknesses in conventional passwords entered by keyboard. "The research found that the strength of picture gesture password has a 'strong connection' to how long a person spent setting up that password gesture. The most common gesture combination is three taps, meaning it took about 4.33 — 5.74 seconds to setup. Passwords with two circles and one line took the longest average input time of about 10.19 seconds. After studying why people choose certain categories of images, the most common gesture types and direction patterns in PGA passwords, the researchers developed an attack framework that is 'capable of cracking passwords on previously unseen pictures in a picture gesture authentication system.'"
UnknowingFool writes "For consumers who had hoped that Microsoft would greatly upgrade their recent entries into the tablet market, leaks and rumors have said that both machines will receive modest hardware changes. Surface Pro 2 will sport new Haswell processors which will increase battery life to 7 hours. RAM is expected to increase from 4GB to 8GB. Surface (formerly RT) will get Tegra 4 processors. The only other confirmed change will be new kickstands that have 2 positions instead of one."
mdsolar sends this quote from Bloomberg: "More than 50 years into the age of nuclear energy, one of the biggest growth opportunities may be junking old reactors. Entergy Corp. (ETR) said Aug. 27 it will close its 41-year-old Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in 2014, making the reactor the fifth unit in the U.S. marked for decommissioning within the past 12 months, a record annual total. Companies that specialize in razing nuclear plants and hauling away radioactive waste are poised to benefit. Disposal work is 'where companies are going to make their fortune,' Margaret Harding, an independent nuclear-industry consultant based in Wilmington, North Carolina, said in an phone interview. Contractors that are usually involved in building reactors ... 'are going to be looking very hard at the decommissioning side of it.' [T]he U.S. nuclear fleet of 104 units is shrinking, even as Southern Co. and Scana Corp. build two units each. ... During a reactor decommissioning, the plant operator transfers radioactive fuel rods to cooling pools and, ultimately, to so-called dry casks for storage. Workers clean contaminated surfaces by sandblasting, chemical sprays and hydrolasing, a process that involves high-pressure water blasts, according to King. 'You do get to a point that you need someone to come in that has the equipment and the technology to actually dismantle the components,' she said. 'That typically is hired out.'"
Lucas123 writes "A fire that engulfed portions of a major Hynix memory FAB in Wuxi, China earlier today did not do as much damage as reports originally claimed and the company said it expects to be back in production soon. According to a Hynix statement, the fire occurred during equipment installation at around 16:50 Korean time and it was extinguished in under two hours. The company said while published photos showed the FAB facility surrounded by smoke and engulfed in flames, 'the damage is not as severe as it seems as the smoke created was because the fire was concentrated in the air purification facilities that are linked to the rooftop of the fab.' The company also said that there is no material damage to the fab equipment in the clean room, and Hynix expects to resume operations in a short time period, so overall production and supply volume should not be 'materially affected.' Even so, the spot price of DRAM is expected to leap as a result of the news."
jones_supa writes with news that HDMI 2.0 is out. From Engadget "The folks at HDMI Licensing are announcing HDMI 2.0 officially. Arriving just in time for the wide rollout of a new generation of Ultra HDTVs, it adds a few key capabilities to the standard. With a bandwidth capacity of up to 18Gbps, HDMI 2.0 has the ability to carry 3,840 x 2,160 resolution video at 60fps. It also has support for up to 32 audio channels, 'dynamic auto lipsync' and additional CEC extensions. The physical cables and connectors remain unchanged." Just like HDMI 1.4, the specification is only available to HDMI Forum members.
kkleiner writes "Boston-based Harvest Automation has made good on its mission to bring robots into the world of agriculture by introducing Harvey, a bot tasked with the rather modest job of moving plants around in nurseries and greenhouses because people aren't keen on doing the laborious work. At a price point of $30k each, two bots would cost the same as three unskilled human laborers who earn about $20k annually not to mention medical bills due to injury. Harvey's job may not be flashy, but considering the potted plant industry is valued at $50 billion, the bot's little impact could translate into significant money."
DeviceGuru writes "SolidRun refreshed its line of tiny 2 x 2 x 2-inch mini-PCs with four new community-backed models based on 1.2GHz multi-core Freescale i.MX6 SoCs. The CuBox-i devices support Android 4.2.2 and Linux, offer HDMI, S/PDIF, IR, eSATA, GbE, USB, WiFi, and Bluetooth interfaces (depending on model). All the models offer 1.2GHz clock speeds, OpenGL/ES 2.0 3D support, and video acceleration for 1080p video, while the two higher-end ones supply more robust GPUs that add OpenCL 1.1 support."
cartechboy writes "Lets just say Elon Musk may need to go battery shopping, like, big-time. Here's some little-understood Tesla math that could turn the global market for cylindrical lithium-ion cells upside down by 2015. It turns out the massive Model S battery takes almost 2,000 times the number of cells a basic laptop does. Assume Tesla just doubles production from its current 21K cars/year to 40K cars/year. (Something it expects to do by 2015). At that point, Tesla would require the *entire* existing global capacity for 18650 commodity cells. That assumes no other growth, no next gen model, nada. What should Elon do? Better get on the horn to Panasonic and Samsung."
MojoKid writes "Low-power parts for hand-held devices may be all the rage right now, but today Intel is taking the wraps off a new high-end desktop processor with the official unveiling of its Ivy Bridge-E microarchitecture. The Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition processor is the flagship product in Intel's initial line-up of Ivy Bridge-E based CPUs. The chip is manufactured using Intel's 22nm process node and features roughly 1.86 billion transistors, with a die size of approximately 257mm square. That's about 410 million fewer transistors and a 41 percent smaller die than Intel's previous gen Sandy Bridge-E CPU. The Ivy Bridge-E microarchitecture features up to 6 active execution cores that can each process two threads simultaneously, for support of a total of 12 threads, and they're designed for Intel's LGA 2011 socket. Intel's Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition processor has a base clock frequency of 3.6GHz with a maximum Turbo frequency of 4GHz. It is easily the fastest desktop processor Intel has released to date when tasked with highly-threaded workloads or when its massive amount of cache comes into play in applications like 3D rendering, ray tracing, and gaming. However, assuming similar clock speeds, Intel's newer Haswell microarchitecture employed in the recently released Core i7-4770K (and other 4th Gen Core processors) offers somewhat better single-core performance."
mask.of.sanity writes "Hundreds of thousands of internet-accessible devices manufactured Chinese telco ZTE have been found with default or hardcoded usernames and passwords. The devices were discovered in analysis of the huge dataset from the Internet Census run this year. ZTE topped the charts, accounting for 28 percent of all affected devices worldwide. Only one manufacturer has responded to the researcher's bid to supply the data in efforts to stop production of insecure devices."
MojoKid writes "The story around AMD's upcoming Kaveri continues to evolve, but it's increasingly clear that AMD's 3rd generation APU won't be available for retail purchase this year. If you recall, AMD initially promised that Kaveri would be available during 2013 and even published roadmaps earlier in May that show the chip shipping in the beginning of the fourth quarter. What the company is saying now is that while Kaveri will ship to manufacturers in late 2013, it won't actually hit shelves until 2014. The reason Kaveri was late taping out, according to sources, was that AMD kept the chip back to put some additional polish on its performance. Unlike Piledriver, which we knew would be a minor tweak to the core Bulldozer architecture, Steamroller, Kaveri's core architecture, is the first serious overhaul to that hardware. That means it's AMD's first chance to really fix things. Piledriver delivered improved clock speeds and power consumption, but CPU efficiency barely budged compared to 'Dozer. Steamroller needs to deliver on that front."
theodp writes "Writing in The Atlantic, Phil Nichols makes a convincing case for why educational technologies should be more like graphing calculators and less like iPads. Just messing around with TI-BASIC on a TI-83 Plus, Nichols recalls, 'helped me cultivate many of the overt and discrete habits of mind necessary for autonomous, self-directed learning.' So, with all those fancy iPads at their schools, today's kids must really be programming up a storm, right? Wrong. Nichols, who's currently pursuing a PhD in education, laments, 'The iPad is among the recent panaceas being peddled to schools, but like those that came before, its ostensibly subversive shell houses a fairly conventional approach to learning. Where Texas Instruments graphing calculators include a programming framework accessible even to amateurs, writing code for an iPad is restricted to those who purchase an Apple developer account, create programs that align with Apple standards, and submit their finished products for Apple's approval prior to distribution.'"
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Now, an EU-funded, £7.2 million ($11 million USD) collaborative project, called Strands, is underway in England to develop 4D, artificial intelligence for security and care applications. It aims to produce intelligent robo-sentinels that can patrol areas, and learn to detect abnormalities in human behavior. Could their project eventually replace security guards with robots? It looks possible. Strands, as Nick Hawes of the University of Birmingham said, will 'develop novel approaches to extract spatio-temporal structure from sensor data gathered during months of autonomous operation,' to develop intelligence that can then 'exploit [those] structures to yield adaptive behavior in highly demanding, real-world security and care scenarios.'"
Zothecula writes "NASA took the metaphorical training wheels off the Mars rover Curiosity on Tuesday, as the unmanned explorer took its first drive using autonomous navigation. It used its onboard cameras and software to select and drive over an area of ground that mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California couldn't see and vet beforehand. This capability allows the nuclear-powered rover to negotiate the most direct route to Mount Sharp rather than having to detour to find routes that can be seen directly by Curiosity before entering, so they can be analyzed by mission control."
Lasrick writes "The Japan Times has an opinion piece about the seriousness of the situation at Fukushima and the incompetence of Tepco. The article makes the case that it's time for the Japanese government to step in and take control of the plant to facilitate clean-up. Quoting: 'Japan has been very lucky that nothing worse has occurred at the plant. But luck eventually runs out. The longer Tepco stays in charge of the decommissioning process, the worse the odds become. Without downplaying the seriousness of leaks and the other setbacks at the plant, it is important to recognize that things could very quickly get much worse. In November, Tepco plans to begin the delicate operation of removing spent fuel from Reactor No. 4. There are 1,300 used fuel rod assemblies in a pool above the reactor. They weigh a total of 400 tons, and contain radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb. The spent-fuel pool, standing 18 meters above ground, was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami and is in a deteriorating condition. It remains vulnerable to any further shocks, and is also at risk from ground liquefaction. Removing its spent fuel, which contains deadly plutonium, is an urgent task.'"
Lucas123 writes "Anticipating it will make a 'big splash,' Intel is planning to release an product late this year or very early next that will allow users to 'overclock' solid-state drives. The overclocking capability is expected to allow users to tweak the percentage of an SSD's capacity that's used for data compression. At its Intel Developers Forum next month in San Francisco, Intel has scheduled an information session on overclocking SSDs. The IDF session is aimed at system manufacturers and developers as well as do-it-yourself enthusiasts, such as gamers. 'We've debated how people would use it. I think the cool factor is somewhat high on this, but we don't see it changing the macro-level environment. But, as far as being a trendsetter, it has potential,' said Intel spokesman Alan Frost. Michael Yang, a principal analyst with IHS Research, said the product Intel plans to release could be the next evolution of SandForce controller, 'user definable and [with the] ability to allocate specified size on the SSD. Interesting, but we will have to see how much performance and capacity [it has] over existing solutions,' Yang said in an email reply to Computerworld."
Nerval's Lobster writes "For quite some time, some economists and social scientists have argued that advances in robotics and computer technology are systematically wrecking the job prospects of human beings. Back in June, for example, an MIT Technology Review article detailed Erik Brynjolfsson (a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management) and a co-author suggesting that the evolution of computer technology was "largely behind the sluggish employment growth of the last 10 to 15 years." Of course, technological change and its impact on the workforce is nothing new; just look at the Industrial Revolution, when labor-saving devices put many a hard-working homo sapien out of economic commission. But how far can things go? There are even arguments that the technology behind Google's Self-Driving Car, which allows machines to rapidly adapt to situations, could put whole new subsets of people out of jobs."
cartechboy writes "As Nissan develops autonomous cars for its 2020 target date, the company's engineers are modeling the tech after behaviors seen in bumblebees and fish. Nissan actually tests self-navigation algorithms in seven small toy-looking robots called EPORO. The robots have 180-degree vision (modeled after bees) and monitor each others' positions, travel nose to nose and avoid collisions--just like a school of fish. Getting small robots to zip around without bumping into things might be the first step in getting cars to do the same."
An anonymous reader notes that Skype is reportedly working on a 3D version of its messaging application. As reported by the BBC, an unnamed senior executive says that rumors to this effect are true. However, don't get too worked up about sending your avatar to school or to work just yet: Microsoft's corporate vice-president for Skype, Mark Gillett, says that "the capture devices are not yet there. As we work with that kind of technology you have to add multiple cameras to your computer, precisely calibrate them and point them at the right angle. ... We have it in the lab, we know how to make it work and we're looking at the ecosystem of devices and their capability to support it in order to make a decision when we might think about bringing something like that to market." Also at SlashBI.
Joe Marine of No Film School has a short interview with two of the creators of the Black Betty, a deceptively old-school looking digital cinema camera. The Black Betty gets around one issue with the massive data processing and storage needs inherent to high-capacity, high-resolution video cameras by attacking it head-on. Rather than use the camera "merely" as a collection device, the creators have jammed into the machined aluminum case the guts of a Mac Mini, which means the camera not only has a powerful processing brain, but a built-in SSD drive, and can (in a pinch, or even by preference in the field) be used to edit and transmit the footage collected with the actual imaging system, which is based around the SI-2K Mini sensor, which shoots 1080p video at up to 30fps.
MarkWhittington writes "Tony Milligan is a teaching fellow of philosophy at the University of Aberdeen and is apparently concerned about helium 3 mining on the moon. In a recent paper he suggested that it should not be allowed for a number of reasons which include environmental objections, his belief that the moon is a cultural artifact, and that too much access to energy would be bad for the human race."
AmiMoJo writes "Japan's nuclear regulators have raised the level of severity of the radioactive water leak from a tank at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. It is now a level-3 serious incident. The revision from level 1 is based on estimates of the volume of radioactive substances leaked. The International Atomic Energy Agency supports the revision. They say the tank leak can be assessed separately from the Fukushima Daiichi crisis as a level 3 incident. Japanese experienced a level-3 nuclear event in 1997 with the fire and explosions at a fuel reprocessing plant in Tokai Village, Ibaraki Prefecture. 37 workers there were exposed to the leaked radioactive substances."
stomv writes "Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is to close in late 2014, about 20 years before its (extended) NRC operating permit expires in 2032. Vermont Yankee is a merchant plant, which means that it sells its energy and capacity on the open New England market. The three reasons cited by Entergy, the owner, for closing are: low natural gas prices, high ongoing capital costs of operating a single unit reactor, and wholesale market flaws which keep energy and capacity prices low and doesn't reward the fuel diversity benefits that nuclear provides."
ananyo writes "Facebook can lose a few users and remain a perfectly stable network, but where the national grid is concerned, simple geography dictates that it is always just a few transmission lines from collapse, according to a mathematical study of spatial networks. The upshot of the study is that spatial networks are necessarily dependent on any number of critical nodes whose failure can lead to abrupt — and unpredictable — collapse. The warning comes ten years after a blackout that crippled parts of the midwest and northeastern United States and parts of Canada. In that case, a series of errors resulted in the loss of three transmission lines in Ohio over the course of about an hour. Once the third line went down, the outage cascaded towards the coast, cutting power to some 50 million people. The authors say that this outage is an example of the inherent instability the study describes. But others question whether the team's conclusions can really be extrapolated to the real world. 'The problem is that this doesn't reflect the physics of how the power grid operates,' says Jeff Dagle, an electrical engineer at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, who served on the government task force that investigated the 2003 outage."
cartechboy writes "Two Ph.D. students from MIT have created a keyboard accessory, the Pavlov Poke, that shocks you every time you go onto Facebook. The project comes as a result of the students finding the waste over 50 hours a week combined on the social network (instead of working on their dissertations) So the pair created an Arduino-based keyboard hand-rest that shocks computer users who spend too much time checking the social network. The hack is 'intended to generate discussion' — not actually turn into a business." Inventor Robert Morris describes it as "something of a joke," but I'm sure there's a market out there.
jarold writes to point out an intriguing entry in the expanding smart-watch field: the Omate TrueSmart watch. Production of samples is about start on the watch after a successful Kickstarter campaign. Unlike some of the smart watches now out (or promised for soon), the TrueSmart is capable of making voice calls, sending texts, and using social media messaging without a separate smartphone or tablet. The specs are impressive, for something you wear on your wrist: Android 4.2.2 running on a dual core Cortex A7 and half a gig of RAM, 4GB of storage (expandable via micro-SD slot).
sfcrazy writes "Bad news for all ChromeCast users who were thinking of being able to stream local content to their HD TVs. Google has pushed an update for ChromeCast which has broken support for third-party apps like AirCast (AllCast) which allow users to 'stream' local files from their devices to ChromeCast connected TV sets."
iFixit's been breaking devices and voiding warranties for years now; latest on their chopping block is the new Moto X from Motorola, a phone hawked as much for its customizability and place of manufacture (the U.S.) as for anything else. You might expect a highly hyped, ultra-customizable phone to be made of high-end components and ultra-repairable as well. iFixit's teardown commentary has both some good and only-middlin' things to say about the innards, but very little bad. They call out the highly modular headphone jack, and say "a considerable amount of effort went in to the internal design of this device; the number of clips and contacts we've found so far is a great testament to that."
ilikenwf writes "For a cool $10,000,000.00, the prototype of a surveillance rock full of spy gadgets could be yours! More importantly, server backups from the gentleman's time at Lockheed are included, being the real valuable in this auction, as it contains schematics and such. The seller seems to think that the current xBee radio products are actually based on his work with Lockheed. The proceeds will go towards legal action the seller is apparently taking against his former employer." This may be the most unusual eBay product description I've ever encountered, and one of the most interesting, too.