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Cloud

Microsoft's Rumored CloudBook Could Be Your Next Cheap Computer (venturebeat.com) 206

An anonymous reader shares a report: In a few weeks, at its education-oriented software and hardware event in New York, Microsoft could unveil a sub-premium laptop -- something more robust than a Surface but not as fancy as a Surface Book. And rather than run good old Windows 10, the new product could run something called Windows 10 Cloud, which reportedly will only be able to run apps that you can find in the Windows Store, unless you change a certain preference in Settings. The idea is that this will keep your device more secure. However, that does mean you won't be able to use certain apps that aren't in the Store -- like Steam -- on a Windows 10 Cloud device, such as the rumored CloudBook. Microsoft is going after Google's Chromebooks that are very popular in the education space -- so much so that they are playing an instrumental role in keeping the entire PC shipments up.
AI

Russia Wants To Send A Gun-Shooting Robot To The ISS (mashable.com) 141

"Just in time for the rise in global military tensions, Russian officials have released video that's sure to calm fears all around: a death dealing humanoid robot that shoots handguns." An anonymous reader quotes Mashable: Posted to Twitter on Friday by Russia's deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin, the video shows the country's space robot FEDOR (Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research) accurately shooting twin pistols in a scene chillingly similar to images from The Terminator. But rather than being displayed as a not-so-subtle warning to the entire human population of the planet, Rogozin instead claims via Facebook that it's just a demonstration of the robot's dexterity and use of algorithms to execute tasks.
CNET quotes Russia's deputy prime minister as saying "We are not creating a Terminator, but artificial intelligence that will be of great practical significance in a lot of spheres." Russia plans to deploy the robot on the International Space Station by 2021, Mashable reports, adding "Hopefully, the robot's arrival on the ISS will come sans life-snuffing weaponry, which is pretty much the opposite of the intent behind creating a peaceful international space station shared by the world's super powers in the first place."
NES (Games)

Geek Builds His Own NES Classic With A Raspberry Pi (arstechnica.com) 130

"It turns out that the NES Classic Edition is just a little Linux-powered board inside a cute case," writes Andrew Cunningham at Ars Technica, "and it's totally possible to build your own tiny Linux-powered computer inside a cute case without spending much more than $60." An anonymous reader writes: Andrew used a $42 Raspberry Pi 3 Model B -- "it's relatively cheap and relatively powerful, and it can easily handle anything from the original PlayStation on down" -- plus an $8 case, and a microSD card. He also purchased a pair of gamepads -- there's several options -- and reports that "Putting our little box together is ridiculously easy, and you ought to have no problem with it even if you've never opened up a PC tower in your life."

"Making retro game consoles is a fairly common use case for the Pi, so there are a few different operating system choices out there," Andrew reports, and he ultimately chose the Linux-based RetroPie OS, which includes a number of emulators. Basically the process boils down to dropping a RetroPie boot image onto the SD card, putting it into the Pi, and then plugging it into your display and connecting your controllers -- plus configuring some menus. "The default quality of the emulation looks just as good as it does on the NES Classic Edition," and "the emulators for these older systems are all advanced enough that things should mostly run just like they did on the original hardware... I've been having a ton of fun with mine now that it's all set up, and its flexibility (plus the quality of those USB gamepads) has made it my favorite way to play old games, outpacing my Apple TV, the pretty but not-living-room-friendly OpenEmu, and the old hacked Wii I still have sitting around."

The hardest part may just be finding a PC with an SD card slot -- and of course, the resulting system gives you lots of flexibility. "By using the Raspberry Pi and freely available software, you can build something capable of doing a whole heck of a lot more than playing the same 30 NES games over and over again."
Displays

Religion Meets Virtual Reality: Christianity-Themed VR Demo Scheduled For Easter (nbcnews.com) 90

"Anyone looking to experience God in a brand new way will soon have his or her chance -- virtually," writes NBC News, reporting on "a new immersive faith-based virtual reality experience...part of a larger project created by L. Michelle Media called Mission VR." An anonymous reader writes: The company was founded "to create a signature virtual reality environment -- a faith world of sorts -- where dynamic, never before seen, Christian lifestyle stories and experiences could have a home." Demos have been timed to coincide with this weekend's Easter celebration, while the official launch happens later this spring. Viewers will apparently experience biographical stories combining VR applications and YouTube videos to showcase the power of belief. "Up until now, we've only been able to watch Christianity from a third person perspective -- preached sermons, music videos, interviews, even reality shows..." says the founder of Mission VR. "This is the future of Christian programming."
But one reverend told NBC that VR worlds could be dangerous because they "may take people from community and from the incarnational aspects of Christian life... [W]e always run a very serious risk that the medium overtakes the message... What we must do is guard against the use of technology through market logic where people become brands and all things spiritual become commoditized."
Hardware

Ask Slashdot: What Was Your First Home Computer? 857

We've recently seen stories about old computers and sys-ops resurrecting 1980s BBS's, but now an anonymous reader has a question for all Slashdot readers: Whenever I meet geeks, there's one question that always gets a reaction: Do you remember your first home computer? This usually provokes a flood of fond memories about primitive specs -- limited RAM, bad graphics, and early versions of long-since-abandoned operating systems. Now I'd like to pose the same question to Slashdot's readers.

Use the comments to share details about your own first home computer. Was it a back-to-school present from your parents? Did it come with a modem? Did you lovingly upgrade its hardware for years to come? Was it a Commodore 64 or a BeBox?

It seems like there should be some good stories, so leave your best answers in the comments. What was your first home computer?
Input Devices

RIP, Robert Taylor, The Innovator Who Shaped Modern Computing (sfgate.com) 37

"Any way you look at it, from kick-starting the Internet to launching the personal computer revolution, Bob Taylor was a key architect of our modern world," says a historian at Stanford's Silicon Valley Archives. An anonymous reader quotes the New York Times: The Internet, like many inventions, was the work of many inventors. But perhaps no one deserves more credit for that world-changing technological leap than Mr. Taylor. The seminal moment of his work came in 1966. He had just taken a new position at the Pentagon -- director of the Information Processing Techniques Office, part of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as Arpa -- and on his first day on the job it became immediately obvious to him what the office lacked and what it needed. At the time, Arpa was funding three separate computer research projects and using three separate computer terminals to communicate with them. Mr. Taylor said, No, we need a single computer research network, to connect each project with the others, to enable each to communicate with the others... His idea led to the Arpanet, the forerunner of the Internet.

A half-decade later, at Xerox's storied Palo Alto Research Center, Mr. Taylor was instrumental in another technological breakthrough: funding the design of the Alto computer, which is widely viewed as the forerunner of the modern personal computer. Mr. Taylor even had a vital role in the invention of the computer mouse. In 1961, at the dawn of the Space Age, he was about a year into his job as a project manager at NASA in Washington when he learned about the work of a young computer scientist at Stanford Research Institute, later called SRI International... Mr. Taylor decided to pump more money into the work, and the financial infusion led directly to Engelbart's invention of the mouse, a computer control technology that would be instrumental in the design of both Macintosh and Microsoft Windows-based computers.

Taylor had become fascinated with human-computer interactions in the 1950s during his graduate work at the University of Texas at Austin, and was "appalled" that performing data calculations required submitting his punch cards to a technician running the school's mainframe computers. Years later, it was Taylor's group at PARC that Steve Jobs visited in 1979, which inspired the "desktop" metaphor for the Macintosh's graphical user interface. And Charles Simonyi eventually left PARC to join Microsoft, where he developed the Office suite of applications.

Taylor died Thursday at his home in Woodside, California, from complications of Parkinson's disease, at the age of 85.
AMD

G.SKILL Hits 4500MHz With All-New Trident Z DDR4-4333MHz 16GB Memory Kit (betanews.com) 72

BrianFagioli quotes a report from BetaNews: G.SKILL is a respected RAM maker, and the company is constantly pushing the envelope. Today, it announced a new DDR4-4333MHz 16GB Memory Kit (2x8GB) -- the first ever. While that alone is very cool, the company is bragging about what it accomplished with it -- an overclock that hit 4500MHz using an Intel Core i5-7600K processor paired with an ASUS ROG Maximus IX Apex motherboard. Pricing and availability for this kit is unknown at this time. With that said, it will probably be quite expensive. What we do know, however, its that the insane overclock to 4500MHz is for real. This was achieved using timings of CL19-19-19-39 in dual channel, which resulted in read/write of 55/65GB/s and copy speed of 52GB/s.
Medicine

Scientists Win $2.6 Million For Star Trek Tricorder Device (vocativ.com) 44

The Qualcomm Foundation, along with the XPRIZE Foundation, "announced the winning team of its nearly four-year-long global competition to develop a functional, easily usable tricorder," reports Vocativ. The Pennsylvania-based Final Frontier Medical Devices team was the first place winner, receiving the top prize of $2.6 million, while Boston-based Dynamical Biomarkers nabbed $1 million. From the report: Led by Dr. Basil Harris, a Philadelphia emergency room physician, the team was mostly made out of family and friends Harris coaxed into volunteering their free time on the weekend. By contrast, Dynamical Biomarkers had 50 scientists and programmers, mostly paid, and was sponsored by the Taiwanese government and Taiwan-based cellphone company HTC. The device kit developed by Final Frontier, called DxtER, uses non-invasive sensors that collect data from the user and combines that with an AI frontloaded with information in the field of clinical emergency medicine to come with a diagnosis. The device currently operates on an iPad tablet, but future versions should work equally fine on a smartphone as well. The device, ideally, would allow patients to then send their readings to their doctors so they could collaborate on their health care. According to an interview Harris held with the Washington Post, DxtER can diagnose up to 34 medical conditions in its present design. The device developed by Dynamical Biomarkers could reach up to 50, team leader and Harvard Medical School professor Chung-Kang Peng, told the Post, given it surpasses the five-pound weight limit imposed by the competition guidelines.
Cellphones

Children As Young As 13 Attending 'Smartphone Rehab' As Concerns Grow Over Screen Time (independent.co.uk) 152

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Independent: Children refusing to put down their phones is a common flashpoint in many homes, with a third of British children aged 12 to 15 admitting they do not have a good balance between screen time and other activities. But in the U.S., the problem has become so severe for some families that children as young as 13 are being treated for digital technology addiction. One "smartphone rehab" center near Seattle has started offering residential "intensive recovery programs" for teenagers who have trouble controlling their use of electronic devices. The Restart Life Center says parents have been asking it to offer courses of treatment to their children for more than eight years. Hilarie Cash, the Center's founder, told Sky News smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices can be so stimulating and entertaining that they "override all those natural instincts that children actually have for movement and exploration and social interaction."
The Military

US Navy Bans Vaping On Ships (go.com) 230

The U.S. Navy announced today that it will no longer allow sailors to use electronic cigarettes on ships, following several reports of explosives and injuries. ABC News reports: Naval commanders said in a statement Friday that the temporary electronic cigarette policy aims to protect sailors and the fleet. It starts next month. Officials cited overheated batteries in vaping equipment as the problem. Explosions have led to fires, first-degree burns and facial disfigurement. During a recent eight-month stretch, 12 incidents put sailors out of work for a combined 77 days. Injuries also restricted some to light duty for a total of five months.
Hardware

FriendELEC Releases $40 NanoPi K2 Board That Competes With ODROID-C2, Raspberry Pi 3 (cnx-software.com) 80

DeathByLlama writes: The single board computer market, broken wide-open just a few years ago by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, continues to flourish today as FriendELEC releases their $40 NanoPi K2 board. This SBC packs a 1.5 GHz 64-bit quad core Amlogic S905 processor, and paired with 2GB of DDR3 RAM and the Mali-450MP GPU, it is able to stream 4K at 60 FPS. Add in gigabit ethernet, onboard Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, IR (and a remote!), eMMC compatibility, a familiar GPIO header, and a $40 price tag, and you end up with some stiff competition for other market leaders like Hardkernel's ODROID-C2 and Raspberry Pi's flagship Pi 3. The release is clearly in early phases with Ubuntu images and house-sold eMMC modules still on their way. It's amazing to see such strong competition in this market -- and with so many sub-$100, incredibly capable SBC options, which will choose?
Nintendo

Zelda: Breath of the Wild Is Now the Fastest-Selling Nintendo Launch Title of All Time (theverge.com) 47

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: It's no surprise that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the best-selling game on the Nintendo Switch, a console that just had its strongest U.S. opening ever for the company. But managing to sell more copies than consoles that can actually play it? That's what's happened in the U.S., amazingly -- Nintendo just announced that it sold 906,000 Switch consoles in March along with 925,000 copies of Breath of the Wild. The Wii U version moved almost 460,000 units on top of that, making for total sales of over 1.3 million. Breath of the Wild is now the fastest-selling Nintendo launch title of all time and the fastest-selling Legend of Zelda game ever. Nintendo says it thinks the Switch attach rate of more than 100 percent might be explained by people who bought a limited edition version to collect and a regular version to actually play, though another possibility is that some bought the game before they could find the console itself in stock.
Robotics

A New Survey Shows Consumers Are Not That Freaked Out By Tech (fastcompany.com) 52

Lippincott, a global creative consultancy, asked 2,000 "leading edge" consumers in the U.S. whether they were excited to welcome our robot overlords or terrified of them. A report on FastCompany adds: Some of their findings go against conventional wisdom, like the belief that consumers are scared about the future. Turns out 80 percent said they are excited about changes in technology. Some 78 percent feel more powerful and in control of their lives thanks to the support from smart machines, artificial intelligence, and robotics. There is some anxiety about the incursion of tech into our lives, with over 40 percent reporting that they are scared about changes to the economy, society, culture, and the government. Despite that, 64 percent of them still expect that the world will be better in 10 years than it is today.
Businesses

Apple May Invest Billions of Dollars In Toshiba's Memory Chip Business (bloomberg.com) 27

Toshiba shares recovered after Japan's national broadcaster reported that Apple is considering an investment of several billion dollars in its semiconductor unit, raising the prospect that the struggling electronics conglomerate will get a much-needed cash infusion. From a report: Toshiba has put its memory chips business up for sale to make up for a writedown of 716.6 billion yen ($6.56 billion) in its U.S. nuclear equipment operations. One option being considered is an investment accompanied by Toshiba holding shares, so that a majority of the semiconductor unit will be held by U.S. and Japanese interests, satisfying the respective governments, NHK said.
AI

AI Programs Exhibit Racial and Gender Biases, Research Reveals (theguardian.com) 384

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: An artificial intelligence tool that has revolutionized the ability of computers to interpret everyday language has been shown to exhibit striking gender and racial biases. The findings raise the specter of existing social inequalities and prejudices being reinforced in new and unpredictable ways as an increasing number of decisions affecting our everyday lives are ceded to automatons. In the past few years, the ability of programs such as Google Translate to interpret language has improved dramatically. These gains have been thanks to new machine learning techniques and the availability of vast amounts of online text data, on which the algorithms can be trained. However, as machines are getting closer to acquiring human-like language abilities, they are also absorbing the deeply ingrained biases concealed within the patterns of language use, the latest research reveals. Joanna Bryson, a computer scientist at the University of Bath and a co-author, warned that AI has the potential to reinforce existing biases because, unlike humans, algorithms may be unequipped to consciously counteract learned biases. The research, published in the journal Science, focuses on a machine learning tool known as "word embedding," which is already transforming the way computers interpret speech and text.

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