Bruce Perens writes "I found myself alone in a room, in front of a deep square or rectangular pool of impressively clear, still water. There was a pile of material at the bottom of the pool, and a blue glow of Cherenkov radiation in the water around it. To this day, I can't explain how an unsupervised kid could ever have gotten in there."
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An anonymous reader writes "One of the major themes of the ongoing presidential election in the United States has been the perceived need to bring product manufacturing back to the United States. A recent announcement from Lenovo is going to play to this point; the PC manufacturer said today that it's building a U.S. location in Whitsett, North Carolina. The new facility is small, with just over 100 people and is being built for a modest $2M, but Lenovo states that it's merely the beginning of a larger initiative." It makes sense: their U.S. HQ is a stone's throw away in RTP.
crookedvulture writes "Over the past few years, AMD's desktop processors have struggled to keep up with Intel's. AMD has slashed prices to make its chips more appealing, but Intel has largely held firm. Three years of historical data shows that Intel CPU prices have remained stagnant, especially for models that cost $200 and up. AMD chips, on the other hand, tend to fall in price steadily after they first hit the market. Some drop by up to 43% in the first year. This trend is a byproduct of the unhealthy competitive landscape in the desktop CPU arena, and it's been great for Intel's gross margin. Unfortunately, it's not so good for consumers."
nk497 writes "When Paul Otellini announced Ultrabooks last year, he predicted they would grab 40% of the laptop market by this year. One analyst firm has said Ultrabooks will only make up 5% of the market this year, slashing its own sales predictions from 22m this year to 10.3m. However, IHS iSuppli said that Ultrabooks have a chance at success if manufacturers get prices down between $600 to $700 — a discount of as much as $400 on the average selling price of the devices — and they could still grab a third of the laptop market by 2016."
Gunkerty Jeb writes "Researchers working on the 'physically unclonable functions found in standard PC components (PUFFIN) project' announced last week that widely used graphics processors could be the next step in online authentication. The project seeks to find uniquely identifiable characteristics of hardware in common computers, mobile devices, laptops and consumer electronics. The researchers realized that apparently identical graphics processors are actually different in subtle, unforgeable ways. A piece of software developed by the researchers is capable of discerning these fine differences. The order of magnitude of these differences is so minute, in fact, that manufacturing equipment is incapable of manipulating or replicating them. Thus, the fine-grained manufacturing differences can act as a sort of a key to reliably distinguish each of the processors from one another. The implication of this discovery is that such differences can be used as physically unclonable features to securely link the graphics cards, and by extension, the computers in which they reside and the persons using them, to specific online accounts."
FatLittleMonkey writes "You may recall Cody Wilson's project to create a 3D printed gun, mentioned previously on Slashdot. Well, the Defense Distributed project has suffered a decidedly non-technical setback, with printer manufacturer Stratasys revoking the lease and repossessing the printer (presumably prying it from plastic models of Cory's cold dead hands). According to New Scientist, the manufacturer cited his lack of a federal firearms manufacturer's license as their reason for the repossession, adding that it does not knowingly allow its printers to be used for illegal purposes." Homemade firearms are not (in the U.S.) per se illegal on a federal basis, though states have varying degrees of regulation. It would be helpful if anyone more conversant with firearms law than me can point out what law or laws this project might be breaking.
For the homebrew hardware nerds out there who also homebrew beer: "BrewPi is an open source fermentation controller that runs on an Arduino (for now) and a Raspberry Pi. It can control your beer temperature with 0.1 degree precision, log temperature data in nice graphs and is fully configurable from a web interface." Source code. The article has lots of photos and screenshots. The project involves rewiring the compressor's electrical connection through a PID controller, and includes both a fancy OLED display on the fridge and support for logging statistics and control over the web. If you've ever had the joy of gradually crash-cooling a lager (not too fast, not too slow), the software includes settings to effect gradual temperatures changes in the fermenting wort. Certainly fancier than a Johnson controller and a probe attached to a fermenter with a strip of insulating tape.
An anonymous reader writes "Looking for an inexpensive means to capture audio from a dynamically moving crowd, I sampled many MP3 players' recording capabilities. Ultimately the best bang-for-the-buck was refurbished SanDisk Sansa Clip+ devices ($26/ea) loaded with (open source) RockBox firmware. The most massively multi-track event was a thorium conference in Chicago where many attendees wore a Clip+. Volunteers worked the room with cameras, and audio capture was decoupled from video capture. It looked like this. Despite having (higher quality) ZOOM H1n and wireless mics, I've continued to use the RockBox-ified Clip+ devices ... even if the H1n is running, the Clip+ serves as backup. There's no worry about interference or staying within wireless mic range. The devices have 4GB capacity, and RockBox allows WAV capture. They'll run at least 5 hours before the battery is depleted (with lots of storage left over). I would suggest sticking with 44kHz (mono) capture, as 48kHz is unreliable. To get an idea of their sound quality, here is a 10-person dinner conversation (about thorium molten salt nuclear reactors) in a very busy restaurant. I don't know how else I could have isolated everyone's dialog for so little money. (And I would NOT recommend Clip+ with factory firmware... they only support 22kHz and levels are too high for clipping on people's collars.)" This video incorporating much of that captured audio is worth watching for its content as well as the interesting repurposing.
An anonymous reader writes with this story from Wired: "When the African Robotics Network announced their $10 robot design challenge this summer, co-founder Ken Goldberg was careful not to share too many expectations, lest he influence contestants' designs. But he never imagined one of the winning entries would prominently feature a pair of Spanish lollipops. The challenge, hosted by AFRON co-founders Goldberg and Ayorkor Korsah, emphasized inexpensive designs to help bring robotics education to African classrooms." Winners include "the lollipop-laden Suckerbot and traditional (roaming) category first prize winner Kilobot, a Harvard-spawned three-legged, vibrating, swarming robot."
mcpublic writes "For years the Computer History Museum has been quietly collecting and displaying the computational relics of yesteryear. Now, finally the New York Times Arts Section shines the spotlight on this most nerdy of museums. Speak Steampunk? You can find a working replica of Babbage's Difference Engine in the lobby of the museum's Mountain View, California home. Of course, the vast majority of the collection is electronic, and though 'big iron' is king, that hasn't stopped dedicated volunteers from bringing back to life pioneering 'mini' computers like the 1960 PDP-1 and the first video game software ever: Spacewar!"
An anonymous reader writes "Scientists at the Tokyo University of Science have developed a way to create sugar batteries that store 20% more energy than lithium-ion cells. Before it can be used as the anode in a sodium-ion battery, sucrose powder is turned into hard carbon powder by heating it to up to 1,500 degrees celsius in an oxygen-free oven." Except that swapping batteries might be a bit tricky, I can think of a perfect application for these.
An anonymous reader writes "Today, Intel is launching its next-generation Clover Trail platform. The new Intel Z2760 is a dual-core, quad-threaded device clocked at up to 1.8GHz, with support for up to 2GB of RAM and graphics provided courtesy of a single PowerVR SGX545 core. Chipzilla expects to see wide adoption from multiple partners, with a host of tablets expected to launch simultaneously with Windows 8. The new SoC is closely related to Medfield, Intel's 32nm smartphone platform that ExtremeTech reviewed earlier this year, but there are a few differences between the two."
eldavojohn writes "News outlets are reporting that AMD has partnered with BlueStacks to bring Android apps to AppZone Player, something that will apparently allow the more than 500,000 mobile apps to run on your PC. From their announcement: 'What's special about the player on AMD-based products? There are many challenges with running apps that were originally designed for phones or tablets on a PC that in most cases has a larger screen and higher resolution display. To solve this, BlueStacks has designed and optimized the player for AMD Radeon graphics and in particular, our OpenGL drivers found in our APUs and GPUs so you get a great 'big-screen' experience. Additionally, the apps are integrated into AppZone, our online showcase and one-stop-shop for apps accelerated by AMD technology.' Unfortunately this appears to only work on AMD-based PCs (although nowhere does it say that it won't work on Intel CPUs or non-Radeon GPUs). Also no word on how they overcame the difference between a mouse and touchscreen (think pinch to zoom)."
Barence writes "AMD's APUs combine processor and graphics core in the same chip. Its latest Trinity chips are more powerful than ever, thanks to current-generation Radeon graphics and the same processing cores as AMD's full-fat FX processors. They're designed to take down Intel's Core i3 chips, and the first application and gaming benchmarks are out. With a slight improvement in applications and much more so in games, they're a genuine alternative to the Core i3." MojoKid writes with Hot Hardware's review, which also says the new AMD systems "[look] solid in gaming and multimedia benchmarks, writing "the CPU cores clock in at 3.8GHz / 4.2GHz for the A10-5800K and 3.6GHz / 3.9GHz for A8-5600K, taking into account base and maximum turbo speeds, while the graphics cores scale up to 800MHz for the top A10 chip."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Sorry, everybody: terabit Ethernet looks like it will have to wait a while longer. The IEEE 802.3 Industry Connections Higher Speed Ethernet Consensus group met this week in Geneva, Switzerland, with attendees concluding—almost to a man—that 400 Gbits/s should be the next step in the evolution of Ethernet. A straw poll at its conclusion found that 61 of the 62 attendees that voted supported 400 Gbits/s as the basis for the near term 'call for interest,' or CFI. The bandwidth call to arms was sounded by a July report by the IEEE, which concluded that, if current trends continue, networks will need to support capacity requirements of 1 terabit per second in 2015 and 10 terabits per second by 2020. In 2015 there will be nearly 15 billion fixed and mobile-networked devices and machine-to-machine connections."
DeviceGuru writes "Suitable Technologies today unveiled a telepresence robot based on technology from Willow Garage, a robotics research lab. Beam (as in 'Beam me up, Scotty' — no, really!) implements a video chat function on a computer you can remotely drive around via Internet-based control. Beam, which stands 62 inches tall and weighs 95 pounds, adheres to four operational imperatives, which are intended to mimic human interaction and behavior: reciprocity of vision (if I see you, you must see me); ensuring private communication (no recordings of what goes on); transparency of technology (keeping the interaction natural); and respect social norms (don't push or shove Beam!). But the big question is: Does Beam also adhere to Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics? Let's hope so!"
crookedvulture writes "High-PPI displays are becoming increasingly popular on tablets and notebooks, but Windows 8 may not be ready for them. On a 13" notebook display with a 1080p resolution, the RTM version of Win8 scales up some desktop UI elements nicely. However, there are serious issues with Metro, which produces tiles and text that are either too small or too large depending on the PPI setting used. That setting, by the way, is a simple on/off switch that tells the OS to 'make everything bigger.' Web browsing is particularly problematic, with Internet Explorer 10 introducing ugly rendering artifacts when scaling pages in both Metro and desktop modes. Clearly, there's work to be done on the OS side to properly support higher pixel densities."
Nerval's Lobster writes "It's proven a busy month for mobile-device releases. First Nokia whipped back the curtain from the Lumia 820 and 920, its first Windows Phone 8 devices. The very next day, Amazon unveiled its new line of Kindle devices, including the Kindle Fire HD. Not to be outdone, Apple executives took to a stage in San Francisco the next week to show off the iPhone 5, complete with a larger screen and faster processor. But September's not over yet, and the releases keep coming: Barnes & Noble has launched a pair of HD tablets, the Nook HD and Nook HD+, designed to maintain the bookseller's toehold in the tablet space. The question is whether the Nook, even with upgraded hardware and new services, can successfully punch above its weight against the iPad and Kindle Fire, which are widely perceived as the dominant devices in the tablet market." Nook HD specs (Android 4.0, Dual 1.3Ghz Cortex-A9, 1G RAM), and HD+ specs (1.5GHz Coretex-A9 and a larger screen). Nate the greatest writes with a job posting that may indicate B&N is defecting to Windows 8, or at least hedging their bets.
MrSeb writes "Reverse engineering company Chipworks has completed its initial microscopic analysis of Apple's new A6 SoC (found in the iPhone 5), and there are some rather interesting findings. First, there's a tri-core GPU — and then there's a custom, hand-made dual-core ARM CPU. Hand-made chips are very rare nowadays, with Chipworks reporting that it hasn't seen a non-Intel hand-made chip for 'years.' The advantage of hand-drawn chips is that they can be more efficient and capable of higher clock speeds — but they take a lot longer (and cost a lot more) to design. Perhaps this is finally the answer to what PA Semi's engineers have been doing at Apple since the company was acquired back in 2008..." Pretty picture of the chip after using an Ion Beam to remove the casing. The question I have is how it's less expensive (in the long run) to lay a chip out by hand once instead of improving your VLSI layout software forever. NP classification notwithstanding.
An anonymous reader writes "Raspberry Pi was designed for education. As any popular product is bound to, Raspberry Pi has been criticized a lot for things like lack of a box, absence of supplied charger or even WiFi. Raspberry Pi has a much more fundamental flaw, which directly conflicts with its original goal: it is a black box tightly sealed with patents and protected by corporations. It isn't even remotely an open platform." The author thinks that patents on ARM are a serious threat to the openness of the platform (among other things like the proprietary GPU blob needed to boot). But even the FSF doesn't go that far. Wired had an editorial with the foundation justifying "selling out a little to sell a lot" that has a lot of info on the choices they had to make to hit their cost target.