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Businesses

SolarCity Plans To Release New 'Solar Roof' Product Next Year (computerworld.com) 160

An anonymous reader writes: SolarCity, the American provider of energy services recently purchased by Tesla Motors for $2.6 billion, is planning to produce a new "solar roof" product next year. Computerworld reports: "Five million roofs are replaced each year in the U.S., so instead of simply swapping out old shingles with new ones, why not turn the whole roof into a solar power generator that's integrated with your home's electrical utility? That is SolarCity's plan for a new product it expects to begin producing next year, according to statements made during the company's second-quarter earnings call last week. During the call, SolarCity Chief Technology Officer Peter Rive alluded to a new product that would be produced at the soon to open Buffalo, N.Y., solar panel manufacturing facility. Then SolarCity co-founder and Chairman Elon Musk interjected and said the product would be a solar roof, 'as opposed to a [solar] module on a roof.' The solar roof also has the advantage that it doesn't 'cannibalize' any existing SolarCity product, such as solar panels installed atop roofs, Musk said." "If your roof is nearing end of life, you definitely don't want to put solar panels on it because you're going to have to replace the roof," Musk said. "So there's a huge market segment that's kind of inaccessible to SolarCity. So, why not have a solar roof that's better in many other ways as well," he continued. "We don't want to turn over all our cards right now, but I think people are going to be really excited about what they'll see."
Power

America's First Offshore Wind Farm In Pictures (businessinsider.com) 222

Last week, an anonymous Slashdot reader submitted a story from the Associated Press, detailing the United States' first offshore wind farm that is set to open off the cost of Rhode Island this fall. Business Insider issued a report today with some additional specifications and stunning pictures of the Block Island Wind Farm: "GE and Deepwater Wind, a developer of offshore turbines, are installing five massive wind turbines in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. They will make up the first offshore wind farm in North America, called the Block Island Wind Farm. Over the past several weeks, the teams have worked to install the turbines 30 miles off the cost of Rhode Island, and are expected to finish by the end of August 2016. The farm will be fully operational by November 2016." Fun fact: GE's offshore wind farm has turbines that are twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty. You can view the slideshow of images here.
AI

RealDoll CEO Aims To Make Its Sex Dolls Love You Back Via AI App (mirror.co.uk) 201

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Mirror.co.uk: Matt McMullen, CEO of RealDoll, revealed the next step in making the high-end sex toys will be to give them artificial intelligence to replicate humans more closely than ever. "We are building an AI system which can either be connected to a robotic doll OR experienced in a VR environment," he revealed as part of an AMA (ask me anything) on Reddit. "I think it will allow for an option that never existed before, and for some, may represent a happiness they [users] never thought they could have. We are designing the AI to be fun and engaging, more than focusing on whether it can fool you into thinking it's a person," he said. He later added, when someone asked if dolls will ever love us back: "I hope that we can at least simulate that," McMullen responded. "That's the goal." In addition to AI and VR, Teledildonics are coming to the sex industry as well. "Teledildonics is technology for remote sex where tactile sensations are communicated over a data link between the participants -- with Siri, Alexa, Cortana and other AI software," reports Mirror.co.uk. The company is "putting the finishing touches" on its AI app, with plans to release it within the next six months. Oh, and it's also working on releasing a RealDoll with a robotic head by the end of 2017 to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Botnet

'Smart' Electrical Socket Leaks Your Email Address, Can Launch DDoS Attacks (softpedia.com) 82

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Softpedia: There is an insecure IoT smart electrical socket on the market that leaks your Wi-Fi password, your email credentials (if configured), and is also poorly coded, allowing attackers to hijack the device via a simple command injection in the password field. Researchers say that because of the nature of the flaws, attackers can overwrite its firmware and add the device to a botnet, possibly using it for DDoS attacks, among other things. Bitdefender didn't reveal the device's manufacturer but said the vendor is working on a fix, which will be released in late Q3 2016. Problems with the device include a lack of encryption for device communications and the lack of any basic input sanitization for the password field. "Up until now most IoT vulnerabilities could be exploited only in the proximity of the smart home they were serving, however, this flaw allows hackers to control devices over the internet and bypass the limitations of the network address translation," says Alexandru Balan, Chief Security Researcher at Bitdefender. "This is a serious vulnerability, we could see botnets made up of these power outlets."
Businesses

Airbus Details Plan To Build Flying Taxis (autoblog.com) 70

CityAirbus is a new program from Airbus that aims to put commuters in the air to combat overcrowded cities. It sounds a lot like an airborne Uber, writes Brandon Turkus from Autoblog: "Passengers can use an app to book passage, head to their local helipad, climb aboard with a number of other passengers, and in the words of Airbus are 'whisked away to their destination.' Each ride would cost 'nearly the equivalent of a normal taxi ride for each passenger.' Beyond the advantages of avoiding traffic, Airbus claims its new conveyance will be faster, more sustainable, and, obviously, more exciting. Initially, the program would rely on a human pilot, but as with nearly every mode of modern transport, there would eventually be an autonomous version." The company has no timeline for when CityAirbuses will be ready for flight. They did note that the autonomous functionality will be the biggest challenge. "No country in the world today allows drones without remote pilots to fly over cities -- with or without passengers," writes Bruno Trabel from Airbus Helicopters. He leads the Skyways project, "which aims to help evolve current regulatory constraints." Project Vahana, a similar project that consists of an electric-powered, autonomous helicopter used for personal and cargo flights, will be tested in late 2017.
Android

iOS and Android Combined For Record 99% of Smartphone Sales Last Quarter (macrumors.com) 191

An anonymous reader writes: The research firm Gartner has crunched some numbers and found that Android and iOS accounted for a record 99.1% worldwide market share in the second calendar quarter of 2016, which is compared to 96.8% in the year-ago period. What some may view as even more shocking is that Android accounted for 86.2% of the market share in the second quarter, up from 82.2% a year ago. Meanwhile, iOS lost some ground as it dropped to 12.9% market share from 14.6% in the year-ago period. It's no surprise that Windows and BlackBerry have been losing market share. They dropped to 0.6% and 0.1% market share worldwide respectively. Just six years ago, BlackBerry and Symbian operating systems were industry leaders. Now, they're industry losers. Which third-party operating system has what it takes to take on the establishment?
Programming

The $5 Onion Omega2 Gives Raspberry Pi a Run For Its Money (dailydot.com) 124

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Daily Dot: Onion's Omega2 computer may give the Raspberry Pi a run for its money if the success of the Kickstarter campaign is any indication. The Daily Dot reports: "With an initial goal of just $15,000, over 11,560 backers have pledged the company $446,792 in hopes of getting their hands on this little wonder board. So why are thousands of people losing their minds? Simple; the Omega2 packs a ton of power into a $5 package. Billed as the world's smallest Linux server, complete with built-in Wi-Fi, the Omega2 is perfect for building simple computers or the web connected project of your dreams. The tiny machine is roughly the size of a cherry, before expansions, and runs a full Linux operating system. For $5 you get a 580MHz CPU, 64MB memory, 16MB storage, built-in Wi-Fi and a USB 2.0 port. A $9 model is also available with 128MB of memory, 32MB of storage, and a MircoSD slot. The similarly priced Raspberry Pi Zero comes with a 1GHz Arm processor, 512MB of memory, a MicroSD slot, no onboard storage, and no built-in Wi-Fi. Omega2 supports the Ruby, C++, Python, PHP, Perl, JavaScript (Node.js), and Bash programming languages, so no matter your background in coding you should be able to figure something out." You can also add Bluetooth, GPS, and 2G/3G support via add-ons or expansions. It looks promising, though it is a Kickstarter campaign and the product may not come into fruition.
Intel

AMD Says Upcoming Zen CPU Will Outperform Intel Broadwell-E (hothardware.com) 188

Reader MojoKid writes: AMD has been talking about the claimed 40% IPC (Instructions Per Clock) improvement of its forthcoming Zen processor versus the company's existing Excavator core for ages. Zen's initial availability is slated for late this year, with lager-scale roll-out planned for early 2017. However, last night, at a private press event in San Francisco, AMD unveiled a lot more details on their Zen processor architecture. AMD claims to have achieved that 40 percent IPC uplift with a newly-designed, higher-performance branch prediction and a micro-op cache for more efficient issuing of operations. The instruction schedule windows have been increased by 75% and issue-width and execution resources have been increased by 50%. The end result of these changes is higher single-threaded performance, through better instruction level parallelism. Zen's pre-fetcher is also vastly improved. There is 8MB of shared L3 cache on board now, a unified L2 cache for both instruction and data, and separate, low-latency L1 instruction and data caches. The new archicture offers up to 5x the cache bandwidth to the cores versus previous-gen offerings. However, after all the specsmanship was out of the way, AMD actually showcased a benchmark run of an 8-core Zen Summit Ridge procesor versus Intel's Broadwell-E 8-core chip, both running at 3GHz and processing a Blender rending workload. In the demo, the 8-core Zen CPU actually outpaced Intel's chip by a hair. Blender may have been chosen for a reason but this early benchmark demo looks impressive for AMD and its forthcoming Zen architecture.
Power

Solid-State Battery Could Extinguish Fire Risks (thestack.com) 53

An anonymous reader writes: "Researchers have designed a new type of battery that, unlike traditional models containing liquid or gel electrolytes, consists purely of solid chemical compounds and is non-flammable, representing a huge boost for improving battery safety," reports The Stack. "Responding to dangers linked to traditional lithium-ion batteries, the team based at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, has built a solid alternative which contains only solid-state electrodes and electrolytes." The battery is constructed with a layer of highly conductive lithium garnet, which works as a solid electrolyte between two electrodes. The researchers applied the material of the negative pole in viscous form, which allowed it to seep through the porous electrolyte layer. The team was able to temper the battery at 100C. "With a liquid or gel electrolyte, it would never be possible to heat a battery to such high temperatures," the study claims.
Android

Companies Can't Legally Void the Warranty For Jailbreaking Or Rooting Your Phone (vice.com) 128

Reader Jason Koebler writes: Manufacturers that threaten to void the warranties of consumers who jailbreak or root their phones are violating federal law.
Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, manufacturers cannot legally void your hardware warranty simply because you altered the software of an electronic device. In order to void the warranty without violating federal law, the manufacturer must prove that the modifications you made directly led to a hardware malfunction.
"They have to show that the jailbreak caused the failure. If yes, they can void your claim (not your whole warranty—just the things which flowed from your mod)," Steve Lehto, a lemon law attorney in Michigan, wrote in an email. "If not, then they can't."

Businesses

Cisco Reports Fourth-Quarter 2016 Earnings (cnbc.com) 30

Cisco has reported its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and they have exceeded analysts' expectations. CRN reported yesterday that the company will be laying off about 14,000 employees, representing nearly 20 percent of the company's global workforce, according to multiple sources close to the company. Instead, the company will be cutting only 5,500 positions, representing roughly 7 percent of its global workforce, beginning in the fiscal first quarter of 2017. CNBC reports: "The company reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of 63 cents a share on revenues of $12.64 billion, beating analyst expectations for 60 cents per share on revenues of $12.57 billion, according to a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate. The company said that 'today's market requires Cisco and our customers to be decisive, move with greater speed and drive more innovation than we've seen in our history.' Cisco said it expects to reinvest the cost savings from its restructuring plan into 'key priority areas such as security, IoT, collaboration, next generation data center and cloud.'"
Hardware

New Nokia Smartphones and Tablets Are Coming in Late 2016: Company Executive (pcworld.com) 58

An anonymous reader writes: The resurrection of the Nokia brand may happen in the fourth quarter of this year, which could make for some really nostalgic holiday gifts. According to Chinese site ThePaper (in Chinese), Nokia executive Mike Wang confirmed that three or four Nokia-branded Android devices are on the way for the fourth quarter of 2016. The comeback effort would include both phones and tablets. There is a chance, however, that the timeline could get pushed back depending upon how things progress. It wouldn't be a terrible shocker considering we're talking about a new company, HMD. It's composed of former employees from Microsoft, the old Nokia, and others who are banding together to resurrect the once-iconic brand. The best rumor we have is that the phones will have 5.2-inch and 5.5-inch Quad HD, OLED displays, a Snapdragon 820 SOC, 22.6MP back camera, and a metal build with water and dust resistance. No word on what a tablet would look like.
Intel

Intel's New Silicon Photonics Module For Data Centers Beams Info at 100Gbps Across 2km (zdnet.com) 31

An anonymous reader writes:Intel has announced it's launching silicon photonics, a product 16 years in the making, to enhance the use of optics for data center traffic management. It has a tremendous advantage over other silicon solutions, Intel executive vice president Diane Bryant said at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. Intel is "the first to light up silicon," she said, integrating the laser light-emitting material onto silicon. It uses silicon lithography to align the laser with precision, she said, creating a cost advantage because it's automatically aligned. It has a performance advantage because of the precision of lithography. The module Intel is introducing delivers 100 gigabits per second. With network traffic in the data center doubling every 12 months, electrons running over copper cable just won't cut it, Bryant said. However, the cost of fiber optics is growing, positioning silicon photonics as the next solution.The company adds that the silicon photonics module can deliver the data across two kilometers.
XBox (Games)

Microsoft Says Upcoming Project Scorpio Might Be the Last Console Generation (engadget.com) 264

Earlier this year, Xbox chief Phil Spencer expressed desires to see a steady stream of hardware innovation rather than a typical seven-year gap between different console generations, noting smartphone market as inspiration. In an interview with Engadget, Aaron Greenberg, Microsoft's Head of Xbox Games Marketing has hinted that the company's upcoming Project Scorpio is likely going to be the last generation of Xbox console you will ever need to purchase. From the report: I think it is ... For us, we think the future is without console generations, we think that the ability to build a library, a community, to be able to iterate with the hardware, we're making a pretty big bet on that with Project Scorpio. We're basically saying 'this isn't a new generation, everything you have continues forward and it works.' We think of this as a family of devices. But we'll see, we're going to learn from this, we're going to see how that goes. So far I'd say based on the reaction there appears to be a lot of demand and interest around Project Scorpio, and we think it's going to be a pretty big success. If the games and the content deliver, which I think they will do, I think it will change the way we think about the future of console gaming."
Intel

Intel To Manufacture Rival ARM Chips In Mobile Push 81

An anonymous reader writes: Chip maker Intel has entered an unlikely partnership with British semiconductor firm ARM in an effort to boost opportunities for its foundry business. The licensing agreement, which was confirmed at the Intel Development Forum in San Francisco, means that from 2017 Intel's Custom Foundry will manufacture ARM chips -- used by smartphone giants such as Apple, Qualcomm and Samsung. On the announcement of its latest earnings report, Intel was clear to highlight a shift in focus, away from the traditional PC market, to emerging areas such as the Internet of Things and mobile -- a sector dominated by one-time arch rival ARM. It seems that Intel has now decided to surrender to the latter's prominence in the field.
Businesses

Cisco Systems To Lay Off About 14,000 Employees, Representing 20% of Global Workforce (crn.com) 239

schwit1 writes from a report via CRN: Cisco Systems is laying off about 14,000 employees, representing nearly 20 percent of the network equipment maker's global workforce. San Jose, California-based Cisco is expected to announce the cuts within the next few weeks, the report said, as the company transitions from its hardware roots into a software-centric organization. Cisco increasingly requires "different skill sets" for the "software-defined future" than it did in the past, as it pushes to capture a higher share of the addressable market and aims to boost its margins, the CRN report said citing a source familiar with the situation. "The company's headcount as of April 20, 2016, was 73,104," reports CRN. "Cutting 14,000 employees would be the single largest layoff in Cisco's 32-year history."

UPDATE 8/17/16: Cisco has reported its fourth-quarter 2016 earnings and they have exceeded analysts' expectations.
Graphics

NVIDIA Drops Pascal Desktop GPUs Into Laptops With Mobile GeForce GTX 10-Series (hothardware.com) 42

MojoKid writes: NVIDIA's new Pascal core graphics architecture is being driven throughout the company's entire product portfolio, as is typically the case. Today, NVIDIA brings Pascal to notebooks with the introduction of the NVIDIA Mobile GeForce GTX 10-Series. What's interesting is that the first laptop-targeted GPUs are actually quite similar to their desktop counterparts. In fact, all three of the Mobile GeForce GTX 10-Series graphics processors NVIDIA is announcing today come sans the traditional "M" tacked on the end of their model numbers. As it turns out, the migration to a 16nm manufacturing process with Pascal has been kind to NVIDIA and the Mobile GeForce GTX 1080 and Mobile GeForce GTX 1060 have nearly identical specs to their desktop counterparts, from CUDA core counts, to boost, and memory clock speeds. However, the Mobile GeForce GTX 1070 actually has a few more CUDA cores at 2048, versus 1920 for the desktop GTX 1070 (with slightly lower clocks). By tweaking boost clock peaks and MXM module power requirements, NVIDIA was able to get these new Pascal mobile GPUs into desktop replacement class machines and even 5-pound, 15-inch class standard notebook designs (for the 1060). In the benchmarks, the new Mobile GeForce GTX 10-Series blows pretty much any previous discrete notebook graphics chip out of the water and smooth 4K or 120Hz gaming is now possible on notebook platforms.
Google

Malware That Fakes Bank Login Screens Found In Google Ads (fastcompany.com) 120

tedlistens quotes a report from Fast Company: For years, security firms have warned of keystroke logging malware that surreptitiously steals usernames and passwords on desktop and laptop computers. In the past year, a similar threat has begun to emerge on mobile devices: So-called overlay malware that impersonates login pages from popular apps and websites as users launch the apps, enticing them to enter their credentials to banking, social networking, and other services, which are then sent on to attackers. Such malware has even found its way onto Google's AdSense network, according to a report on Monday from Kaspersky Lab. The weapon would automatically download when users visited certain Russian news sites, without requiring users to click on the malicious advertisements. It then prompts users for administrative rights, which makes it harder for antivirus software or the user to remove it, and proceeds to steal credentials through fake login screens, and by intercepting, deleting, and sending text messages. The Kaspersky researchers call it "a gratuitous act of violence against Android users." "By simply viewing their favorite news sites over their morning coffee users can end up downloading last-browser-update.apk, a banking Trojan detected by Kaspersky Lab solutions as Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Svpeng.q," according to the company. "There you are, minding your own business, reading the news and BOOM! -- no additional clicks or following links required." The good news is that the issue has since been resolved, according to a Google spokeswoman. Fast Company provides more details about these types of attacks and how to stay safe in its report.
Intel

Intel Unveils Project Alloy 'Merged Reality' Wireless Headset (hothardware.com) 43

MojoKid writes: Intel CEO Bryan Krzanich took to the stage at the Moscone Center in San Francisco today to kick off this year's Intel Developers Forum. Kyrzanich unveiled a number of new projects and products including a product code-named "Project Alloy." The device is an un-tethered, merged reality Head Mounted Device (HMD) that combines compute, graphics, multiple RealSense modules, various sensors, and batteries into a self-contained headset that offers a full six degrees of freedom. Unlike the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, Project Alloy does not need to be wired to a PC or other device and it does not require externally mounted sensors to define a virtual space. Instead, it uses RealSense cameras to map the actual physical world you're in while wearing the HMD. The RealSense cameras also allow the device to bring real-world objects into the virtual world, or vice versa. The cameras and sensors used in Project Alloy offer full depth sensing, so obstacles can be mapped, and people and objects within camera range -- like your hand, for example -- can be brought into the virtual world and accurately tracked. During a live, on-stage demo performed by Intel's Craig Raymond, Craig's hand was tracked and all five digits, complete with accurate bones and joint locations, were brought into the the VR/AR experience. Project Alloy will be supported by Microsoft's Windows Holographics Shell framework.
The Almighty Buck

Too Many New Smartphone Models Released Each Year: Survey (livemint.com) 191

An anonymous reader writes: Consumers think smartphone makers are releasing too many new models each year, a survey showed on Tuesday. The survey conducted in six countries, commissioned by the environmental group Greenpeace, showed that more than half of those who responded would prefer to change their phones less frequently. Handset devices are one of the most frequently replaced electronics products. The top cellphone companies, Samsung and Apple, launch new flagship phone models at least once every year, showing off the latest display and mobile processor technologies. Phone makers typically upgrade their cheaper lineups as well. "Over half of respondents across the countries surveyed agree that manufacturers are releasing too many new models, many designed to only last a few years," said Chih An Lee, global IT campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia. "In fact, most users actually want their phones to be more easily dismantled, repaired and recycled."

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