GabriellaKat writes "Via El Reg: 'Apple is trying to patent wireless charging, claiming its magnetic resonance tech is new and that it can do it better than anyone else. This would be cool if its assertions were true. Apple's application, numbered 20120303980, makes much of its ability to charge a device over the air at a distance of up to a meter, rather than requiring close proximity. The Alliance For Wireless Power, which also touts long-range juicing, will no doubt be comparing Apple's designs to its own blueprints.'"
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An anonymous reader writes "Here's a photo walk through of how Raspberry Pi boards are made at a Sony factory in South Wales, UK. The factory says that the multiple automated and manual checks have meant that only two of the 150,000 boards made there have been shipped with defects."
hattig writes "US researchers say they have developed a new type of lighting that could replace fluorescent bulbs. The new light source is called field-induced polymer electroluminescent (Fipel) technology. It is made from three layers of white-emitting polymer that contain a small volume of nanomaterials that glow when electric current is passed through them. The developer is promising cheap, hard-to-break, mercury-free, highly efficient bulbs from 2013."
Nate the greatest writes "One of the stranger ereader/smartphone hybrid devices ever to grace the pages of a tech blog is now officially never dead. Polymer Vision, creator of the Readius ereader, has been shut down by its parent company. This company launched in 2004 with the goal of bring an ereader with a foldable 5" E-ink screen to market. They shipped an initial production run of about 100 thousand units before going bankrupt in 2009. Wistron bought the company out of receivership and has been paying to develop the screen tech. PV has made a number of prototypes over the past few years, but they never made it out of the lab. The closest we came to ever seeing one was a render of a smartphone design which could expand to the size of a tablet."
another random user writes with an interesting use of 800C heating elements to keep flash working longer. It's long been known that heating NAND to temperatures around 250C can restore life, but doing so was practically impossible. From the article: "Engineers at Macronix have a solution that moves flash memory over to a new life. ... They redesigned a flash memory chip to include onboard heaters to anneal small groups of memory cells. Applying a brief jolt of heat to a very restricted area within the chip (800 degrees C) returns the cell to a 'good' state. ... According to project member HangTing Lue, the annealing can be done infrequently and on one sector at a time while the device is inactive but still connected to the power source. It would not drain a cellphone battery, he added." It's still a long way from commercialization, but if it works on a small scale...
I recently retired my ancient AthlonMP rig for something a bit more modern, and in the upgrade got a new DVD±RW drive. Since I have the new rig and a lot more disk space, the time has come to re-rip my ~450 disc CD collection into FLAC (I trust active storage more than optical discs that may or may not last another twenty years). The optical drive I had in my old rig was one recommended by Hydrogen Audio or somewhere similar for ripping CDs, and can grab an hour long album in about five minutes. My new drive, unfortunately, takes about fifteen to do the same. With the number of discs I have to churn through and the near-instaneous encoding, it's somewhat annoying. After searching the Internet high and low for advice I came up empty handed, and so I ask Slashdot: are there any SATA DVD burners that don't suck at ripping CDs? Read on for more details if you wish.
An anonymous reader writes "Quoting liliputing: 'PengPod plans to start shipping 7 and 10 inch tablets with support for Linux as well as Google Android in January. The company, founded by Neal Peacock, has been raising money to help support software development for the tablets — and Peacock just wrote in to let us know the project has surpassed its initial $49,000 fundraising goal. In other words, the campaign will be fully funded and backers that pledged $120 or more should get their tablets starting in January if all goes according to plan.'" And, unlike many ARM SoCs, the kernel for the Allwinner A10 powering it is developed openly.
theodp writes "Don't believe everything Steve Jobs and Tim Cook tell you, advises The Verge's Sean Hollister. Gunshy of touchscreen laptops after hearing the two Apple CEOs dismiss the technology (Jobs: 'Touch surfaces don't want to be vertical.' Cook: 'You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not gonna be pleasing to the user.'), Hollister was surprised to discover that Windows 8 touchscreen laptops actually don't suck and that the dreaded 'Gorilla Arm Syndrome' did not materialize. 'The more I've used Windows 8, despite its faults, the more I've become convinced that touchscreens are the future — even vertical ones,' writes Hollister. 'We've been looking at this all wrong. A touchscreen isn't a replacement for a keyboard or mouse, it's a complement.' Echoing a prediction from Coding Horror's Jeff Atwood that 'it is only a matter of time before all laptops must be touch laptops,' Hollister wouldn't be surprised at all if Apple eventually embraces-and-extends the tech: 'Microsoft might have validated the idea, but now Apple has another chance to swoop in, perfecting and popularizing the very interface that it strategically ridiculed just two years ago. It wouldn't be the first time. After all, how many iPad minis come with sandpaper for filing fingers down?'"
An anonymous reader writes "Mitsubishi was the last hold-out in the big-screen rear-projection display business after Samsung left the category in 2009. Now Mitsubishi has dropped the dinosaur. Every big-brand CE manufacturer got their start in the big-TV business via rear projection sets from CRT to DLP to LCoS, eventually replacing them with modern-day flat screens. Mitsubishi did develop LCD flat-screens for a time, but dropped out of that market to focus on rear DLPs after Samsung gave it a monopoly. The author, a CE editor, takes a nostalgic and amusing look at her 15 years with three Mitsu rear pros, the only big-screen TV she's known."
An anonymous reader writes "When I was younger, engineering and science offices didn't have computers yet. It was the tradition: Piled Higher and Deeper desks, and overloaded bookcases. I ended up doing other things, and haven't been in a regular office for a couple of decades. Now I'm older, spending a lot more time with the screen, and finding my aging butt and back aren't as pliable for the long hours of reading papers. And while looking at rather expensive chairs, etc for a solution, what I'm remembering is we used to be able to lean back, feet up, while reading the stapled print-outs — makes a change from hunched-over writing and typing. So I'm what wondering is this: Are We There Yet with tablets? You guys would know — What makes a good tablet for reading, sorting, annotating, and searching PDFs, etc? Hardware and software — what tablets have gotten this really right?"
McGruber writes "The Wall Street Journal has an article about Theresa Christy, a mathematician who develops algorithms for Otis Elevator Company, the world's largest manufacturer and maintainer of people-moving products including elevators, escalators and moving walkways. As an Otis research fellow, Ms. Christy writes strings of code that allow elevators to do essentially the greatest good for the most people — including the building's owner, who has to allocate considerable space for the concrete shafts that house the cars. Her work often involves watching computer simulation programs that replay elevator decision-making. 'I feel like I get paid to play videogames. I watch the simulation, and I see what happens, and I try to improve the score I am getting,' she says."
hypnosec writes "The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced that the cheaper variant of the Raspberry Pi — the Model A — has entered production phase. Model A of the credit-card sized computer has been stripped of its Ethernet port and a USB port, leaving just one USB port. This model comes with 256MB RAM, but as it is less complex compared to its predecessor it will consume less power, thus opening up quite a few new usage scenarios. The Foundation has posted the first image of the $25 Model A on its site and noted 'We're anticipating that those of you who buy the Model A will be using it for different applications from Model B owners.'"
sfcrazy writes "Ouya has stuck to its deadlines. The team has posted an update on the official blog that the units will start shipping on the scheduled date of December 28th. These units are for those developers who backed the project on Kickstarter. There is some surprise for developers with this console. 'What we didn't tell you was that the advance dev consoles you ordered are pretty special – you'll know what I mean when you open yours. They're rare drops. :P,' says the official post."
dcblogs writes "The U.S. Dept. of Energy has set a goal to develop battery and energy storage technologies that are five times more powerful and five times cheaper within five years. DOE is creating a new center at Argonne National Laboratory, at a cost of $120 million over five years, that's intended to reproduce development environments that were successfully used by Bell Laboratories and World War II's Manhattan Project. 'When you had to deliver the goods very, very quickly, you needed to put the best scientists next to the best engineers across disciplines to get very focused,' said U.S. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, on Friday. The Joint Center for Energy Storage Research isn't designed to seek incremental improvements in existing technologies. This technology hub, according to DOE's solicitation (PDF), 'should foster new energy storage designs that begin with a "clean sheet of paper" — overcoming current manufacturing limitations through innovation to reduce complexity and cost.' Other research labs, universities and private companies are participating in the effort."
Zothecula writes "Researchers at the University of Warwick have created a cheap plastic composite that can be used even with low-end 3D printers, to produce custom-made electronic devices. The material, nicknamed 'carbomorph,' is both conductive and piezoresistive, meaning that both electronic tracks and touch-sensitive areas can now be easily embedded in 3D-printed objects without the need for complex procedures or expensive materials."
Volanin writes "I have been using Linux for the last 15 years both at home and at work (mostly GNOME and now Unity). Recently, I gave in to temptation and bought myself a Macbook retina 15". As you can read around, Linux still has no good support for this hardware, so I am running it inside a virtual machine. Running in scaled 1440x900 makes the Linux fonts look absolutely terrible, and running in true 2880x1800 makes them beautiful, but every UI element becomes so tiny, it's unworkable. Is there a desktop environment that handles resolution independence better? Linux has had support for SVG for a long time, but GNOME/Unity seems adamant in defining small icon sizes and UI elements without the possibility to resize them."
dryriver sends this quote from a BBC report: "Imagine treating your phone like a piece of paper. Roll it up. Drop it. Squish it in your backpack. Step on it — without any damage. Researchers are working on just such handsets — razor-thin, paper-like and bendable. There have already been prototypes, attracting crowds at gadget shows. But rumors abound that next year will see the launch of the first bendy phone. Numerous companies are working on the technology — LG, Philips, Sharp, Sony and Nokia among them — although reports suggest that South Korean phone manufacturer Samsung will be the first to deliver. Samsung favors smartphones with so-called flexible OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology, and is confident that they will be 'very popular among consumers worldwide.' Their screens will be 'foldable, rollable, wearable and more, [and] will allow for a high degree of durability through their use of a plastic substrate that is thinner, lighter and more flexible than conventional LCD technology,' says a Samsung spokesperson.'"
eldavojohn writes "This holiday season I will return to the land of my childhood. It is flat and desolate with the nearest major city being a three hour car drive away. Although being able to hear the blood pulse through your ears and enjoying the full milky way is nice, I have finally convinced my parents to get "the internet." It's basically a Verizon Jetpack that receives 4G connected to a router. My mom says it works great but she has complained of it cutting in and out. I know where the tower is, this land is so flat and so devoid of light pollution that the tower and all windmills are supernovas on the horizon at night. Usually I use my rooted Galaxy Nexus to read Slashdot, reply to work e-mails, etc. I would like to build an antenna for her 4G device so they can finally enjoy information the way I have. I have access to tons of scrap copper, wood, steel, etc and could probably hit a scrap yard if something else were needed. As a kid, I would build various quad antennas in an attempt to get better radio and TV reception (is the new digital television antenna design any different?) but I have no experience with building 4G antennas. I assume the sizes and lengths would be much different? After shopping around any 4G antenna costs way too much money. So, Slashdot, do you have any resources, suggestions, books, ideas or otherwise about building something to connect to a Jetpack antenna port? I've got a Masters of Science but it's in Computer Science so if you do explain complicated circuits it helps to explain it like I'm five. I've used baluns before in antenna design but after pulling up unidirectional and reflector antenna designs, I realize I might be in a little over my head. Is there an industry standard book on building antennas for any spectrum?"
cylonlover writes "Exploring the regions of deep space beyond Mars means sending probes where solar power isn't practical. Since the 1960s, NASA has equipped its Apollo missions and unmanned explorers with Radioisotope Thermal Generators (RTGs). These have worked very well, but they run on plutonium 238, which is currently in short supply. Therefore, the Los Alamos National Laboratory is developing a new small nuclear reactor for spacecraft that uses uranium instead of plutonium to power Stirling engines and generate electricity. At the Nevada National Security Site's Device Assembly Facility near Las Vegas, engineers from Los Alamos, the NASA Glenn Research Center and National Security Technologies LLC conducted a Demonstration Using Flattop Fissions (DUFF) experiment that produced 24 watts of electricity using a pair of free-piston Stirling engines."
Readycharged writes "A generation's childhood dreams have come true with the creation of a working 'robot in disguise' Transformer which, when operated by remote control, morphs from a luxury sports car to a missile hurling robot in seconds. Japanese inventor Kenji Ishida is planning to make 10 lucky (and undoubtedly rich) purchasers owners of these toys in the run up to Christmas, having first displayed them at the Maker Faire in Tokyo during the first week of December. For those willing to wait a few years, Ishida plans to have created a life size, drivable model by 2030."