First time accepted submitter g7a writes "I've been given the task of testing new hardware for the use in our servers. For memory, I can run it through things such as memtest for a few days to ascertain if there are any issues with the new memory. However, I've hit a bit of a brick wall when it comes to testing hard disks; there seems to be no definitive method for doing so. Aside from the obvious S.M.A.R.T tests ( i.e. long offline ) are there any systems out there for testing hard disks to a similar level to that of memtest? Or any tried and tested methods for testing storage media?"
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New submitter alancronin writes "Computer and IT giant Dell said today it will acquire privately held Wyse Technology, a company that specializes in what it calls 'cloud client computing.'"
dartttt writes, quoting Ubuntu Vibe: "Dmitry Grinberg has successfully booted Ubuntu 9.04 on an 8 bit micro machine with 6.5 KHz CPU and 16 MB RAM. Grinberg did this experiment on a ATmega1284p, 8-bit RISC microcontroller clocked at 24MHz and equipped with 16KB of SRAM and 128KB of flash storage. Since the RAM was too low, he added 30-pin 16MB SIMM to the machine and a 1 GB SD card to host Ubuntu image. ... To get the world's slowest Linux Computer running, he had to write an ARMv5 emulator which supports a 32bit processor and MMU. A similar machine can be made very easily and everything should come in about $20." There is source code available, but it's under a non-commercial use only license. Just how slow is it? "It takes about 2 hours to boot to bash prompt ('init=/bin/bash' kernel command line). Then 4 more hours to boot up the entire Ubuntu ('exec init' and then login). Starting X takes a lot longer. The effective emulated CPU speed is about 6.5KHz, which is on par with what you'd expect emulating a 32-bit CPU & MMU on a measly 8-bit micro. Curiously enough, once booted, the system is somewhat usable. You can type a command and get a reply within a minute." If you like watching a whole lot of nothing, there's a video of the boot process below the fold.
theodp writes "Wired's Cade Metz has the scoop on the move away from U.S. network equipment stalwarts, calling it of the best-kept secrets in Silicon Valley. 'Cloud computing is an arms race,' writes Metz. 'The biggest web companies on earth are competing to see who can deliver their services to the most people in the shortest amount of time at the lowest cost. And the cheapest arms come straight from Asia.' Or, as Joyent's Howard Wu puts it, 'It's kind of like buying couches. If you buy one, you go to a retail store. If you buy 10,000 couches, you go straight to the factory.'"
judgecorp writes "The decision on the next generation of even-smaller SIM cards for phones and other devices has been delayed by standards body ETSI, and the issue (which should have been settled this week) is nowhere near resolution. Apple wants to trim the existing micro-SIM further, Nokia wants to move to something like a micro-SD card which may involve patents. Meanwhile RIM has complained about Apple's approach."
Malvineous writes "Don't have $1500 to drop on a USRP? A Linux kernel developer has discovered that a Realtek digital TV tuner chip has an undocumented mode that turns it into a software-defined radio, with a frequency range of 64-1700MHz. The going rate for one of these USB devices can be as low as US$11. If you're unfamiliar with software-defined radio and have 20 minutes to spare, Balint Seeber has a great video introduction."
MrSeb writes "Today is World Backup Day! The premise is that you back up your computers on March 31, so that you're not an April Fool if your hard drive crashes tomorrow. How do Slashdot users back up? RAID? Multiple RAIDs? If you're in LA, on a fault line, do you keep a redundant copy of your data in another geographic region?"
New submitter Ben_R_R writes "The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has created a camera that can 'see' radioactive contamination by detecting gamma rays emitted by radioactive cesium and other substances. The camera has been tested in the disaster evacuation zone around Fukushima. The image captures levels of radiation in six different colors and overlays the result over an image captured with a wide angle lens."
fishmike writes with this excerpt from a Reuters report: "American high school students are terrible writers, and one education reform group thinks it has an answer: robots. Or, more accurately, robo-readers — computers programmed to scan student essays and spit out a grade. The theory is that teachers would assign more writing if they didn't have to read it. And the more writing students do, the better at it they'll become — even if the primary audience for their prose is a string of algorithms. ... Take, for instance, the Intelligent Essay Assessor, a web-based tool marketed by Pearson Education, Inc. Within seconds, it can analyze an essay for spelling, grammar, organization and other traits and prompt students to make revisions. The program scans for key words and analyzes semantic patterns, and Pearson boasts it 'can "understand" the meaning of text much the same as a human reader.' Jehn, the Harvard writing instructor, isn't so sure. He argues that the best way to teach good writing is to help students wrestle with ideas; misspellings and syntax errors in early drafts should be ignored in favor of talking through the thesis."
MrSeb writes "Late last week, Jen-Hsun Huang sent a letter to Nvidia employees congratulating them on successfully launching the highly acclaimed GeForce GTX 680. After discussing how Nvidia changed its entire approach to GPU design to create the new GK104, Jen-Hsun writes: 'Today is just the beginning of Kepler. Because of its super energy-efficient architecture, we will extend GPUs into datacenters, to super thin notebooks, to superphones.' (Nvidia calls Tegra-powered products 'super,' as in super phones, super tablets, etc, presumably because it believes you'll be more inclined to buy one if you associate it with a red-booted man in blue spandex.) This has touched off quite a bit of speculation concerning Nvidia's Tegra 4, codenamed Wayne, including assertions that Nvidia's next-gen SoC will use a Kepler-derived graphics core. That's probably true, but the implications are considerably wider than a simple boost to the chip's graphics performance." Nvidia's CEO is also predicting this summer will see the rise of $200 Android tablets.
New submitter AcMNPV writes "A news release from UCLA describes a new process for producing biofuels using microorganisms, electrical current and carbon dioxide (abstract). Quoting: 'Liao and his team genetically engineered a lithoautotrophic microorganism known as Ralstonia eutropha H16 to produce isobutanol and 3-methyl-1-butanol in an electro-bioreactor using carbon dioxide as the sole carbon source and electricity as the sole energy input. Photosynthesis is the process of converting light energy to chemical energy and storing it in the bonds of sugar. There are two parts to photosynthesis — a light reaction and a dark reaction. The light reaction converts light energy to chemical energy and must take place in the light. The dark reaction, which converts CO2 to sugar, doesn't directly need light to occur. "We've been able to separate the light reaction from the dark reaction and instead of using biological photosynthesis, we are using solar panels to convert the sunlight to electrical energy, then to a chemical intermediate, and using that to power carbon dioxide fixation to produce the fuel," Liao said.'"
MrSeb writes "Ken Schweller, a computer scientist and psychologist, and also the chairman of the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa, has a vision: He wants to put wireless Android tablets in the hands of bonobo apes. The Great Ape Trust Sanctuary is home to seven bonobos, including the world-famous Kanzi, and two orangutans. So far the Sanctuary has focused almost exclusively on language, with the bonobos and their keepers communicating through lexigrams on a touch-screen TV. Now Schweller wants to go one step further and outfit the bonobos with wireless tablets running custom Bonobo Chat software, allowing the apes to communicate with their keepers (and other bonobos!) from anywhere in the Sanctuary, and to remotely control devices such as vending machines, doors, and the RoboBonobo. If all this wasn't weird (cool?) enough, the RoboBonobo is even outfitted with a water cannon (so the telepresent apes can play "chase games" with humans) and Schweller is trying to fund the whole thing with Kickstarter. If you're a big fan of apes (or Darwinism), be sure to donate."
wiredmikey writes "As the Federal Government aims to make use of the massive volume of digital data being generated on a daily basis, the Obama Administration today announced a 'Big Data Research and Development Initiative' backed by more than $200 million in commitments to start. Through the new Big Data initiative and associated monetary investments, the Obama Administration promises to greatly improve the tools and techniques needed to access, organize, and glean discoveries from huge volumes of digital data. Interestingly, as part of a number of government announcements on big data today, The National Institutes of Health announced that the world's largest set of data on human genetic variation – produced by the international 1000 Genomes Project (At 200 terabytes so far) is now freely available on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. Additionally, the Department of Defense (DoD) said it would invest approximately $250 million annually across the Military Departments in a series of programs. 'We also want to challenge industry, research universities, and non-profits to join with the Administration to make the most of the opportunities created by Big Data,' Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy at OSTP noted in a blog post. 'Clearly, the government can't do this on its own. We need what the President calls an 'all hands on deck' effort.'"
MrSeb writes "LG has just announced it has begun mass production of the world's first flexible, plastic e-ink display, with finished devices expected to hit Europe next month. LG says these plastic displays are half the weight (14g) and 30% thinner (0.7mm) than the hard, heavy, prone-to-cracking glass-laminate e-ink displays found in e-book readers like the Kindle and Nook. The press release says the plastic display survives repeated 1.5-meter drop tests and break/scratch tests with a small hammer, and that it's flexible up to 40 degrees from the mid point. Technology-wise, it's not very clear how LG's e-paper actually works. The press release suggests LG is using a conventional TFT process, which hints that they've cracked Electronics on Plastic by Laser Release (EPLaR). EPLaR is basically a technique of embedding electrophoretic ink capsules in a plastic substrate, but using existing TFT manufacturing processes, rather than building a whole new factory (unlike E Ink, which makes displays for the Kindle and other e-book readers). If this is the case, then other LCD manufacturers like Samsung and Sharp could start producing e-ink displays as well, hopefully driving prices down and further improving the display technology."
DudeTheMath writes "Here in the Sunshine State (Florida), solar should be a no-brainer. However, large oaks that require permits to trim partially shade my roof. I'd like to (inexpensively) 'pre-qualify' my roof for effective panel area. Googling for 'home solar testing' gets me equipment for checking the efficiency of an existing PV installation. Do any makers know what I can do on my own in terms of placing a few individual cells and, over a year, measuring and recording their output, so I can get an idea whether solar would be cost-effective for me?"
Lucas123 writes "While magnetic tape is about as boring as technology gets, it's still the cheapest storage medium and among the fastest in sequential reads and writes. And, with the release of LTO-6 with 8TB cartridges around the corner and the relatively new open linear tape file system (LTFS) being embraced by movie and television markets, tape is taking on a new life. It may even climb out of the dusty archives that cheap disk has relegated it to. 'Over the last two years, disk drives have gotten bigger, they've gone from 1TB to 3TB, but they haven't gotten faster. They're more like tape. Meanwhile, tape is going the other direction, it's getting faster,' said Mark Lemmons, CTO of Thought Equity Motion, a cloud storage service for the motion picture industry."
Amazon's Kindle Fire has been out long enough to build up a hefty stock of returned units; reader DeviceGuru writes "If you're quick, you might be able to snag a refurbished unit for $139 at Amazon. The company introduced the Fire at the end of 2011 at the loss-leader price point of $199, though it's rumored to cost around $210 to build. So at $139, you'd be getting the Android-powered tablet well below cost. Step one: buy refurbed Kindle Fire. Step two: root it and enjoy!" For this price, I'd be out trying to hog a few of these, if they had GPS and at least one camera. Update: 03/29 19:37 GMT by T : Reader Eldavojohn points out that this was a short-lived opportunity, now past.
judgecorp writes "After many delays, the Raspberry Pi computer has arrived in Britain, but has been stopped by the need for a CE approval sticker to say it meets European regulations. The Raspberry Pi Foundation expects the sticker to be a formality, and says it failed to apply because it thought the Pi did not qualify as a 'finished end product.'"