Taco Cowboy writes "A self-proclaimed 'Human Rights Group' — the 'International Human Rights Clinic' from Harvard Law School — has teamed up with 'Human Rights Watch' to urge the banning of 'Killer Robots.' A report issued by the Human Rights Watch, with the title of 'Losing Humanity,' claimed autonomous drones that could attack without human intervention would make war easier and endanger civilians. Where's the 'Robot Rights Watch' just when you need 'em?"
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garymortimer writes "Photos provided by the animal rights group show the multicopter smoking on the ground, with its lithium polymer battery supply smoldering. Another photo shows the drone's video camera smashed. The drone, dubbed 'Angel,' was a Cinestar 8 octocopter estimated at $4,000. This wasn't the first time SHARK has been shot out of the sky. This is the fourth drone that the group has lost while investigating pigeon shootings. One drone landed on club property, and is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit."
ananyo writes "William 'Red' Whittaker often spends his Sundays lowering a robot into a recently blown up coal mine pit near his cattle ranch in Pennsylvania. By 2015, he hopes that his robot, or something like it, will be rappelling down a much deeper hole, on the Moon. The hole was discovered three years ago when Japanese researchers published images from the satellite SELENE1, but spacecraft orbiting the Moon have been unable to see into its shadowy recesses. A robot might be able to 'go where the Sun doesn't shine', and send back the first-ever look beneath the Moon's skin, Whittaker told attendees at a meeting of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program in Hampton, Virginia, last week. And Whittaker is worth taking seriously-his robots have descended into an Alaskan volcano and helped to clean up the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant."
Nerval's Lobster writes "At the end of October, Hurricane Sandy struck the eastern seaboard of the United States, leaving massive amounts of property damage in its wake. Data center operators in Sandy's path were forced to take extreme measures to keep their systems up and running. While flooding and winds knocked some of them out of commission, others managed to keep their infrastructure online until the crisis passed. In our previous interview, we spoke with CoreSite, a Manhattan-based data center that endured even as much of New York City went without power. For this installment, Slashdot Datacenter sat down with executives from IPR, which operates two data centers—in Wilmington, Delaware and Reading, Pennsylvania—close to Sandy's track as it made landfall over New Jersey and pushed northwest."
An anonymous reader writes "Stanford researchers have developed a new algorithm (Abstract only) that significantly improves the control and performance of neural prosthetics — brain-controlled computer interfaces for individuals suffering from spinal cord injury and neurodegenerative disease to aid interaction with computers, drive electronic wheelchairs, and control robotic arms and legs. With this algorithm, monkeys implanted with multielectrode arrays in motor regions of their brain controlled a computer cursor more quickly and accurately than ever before, including navigation around obstacles. Further, the system maintained this high performance across 4 years, demonstrating long-term reliability. These improvements in performance and robustness are crucial for clinically-useful neural prosthetics, and pave the way for success in clinical trails."
New submitter garbagechuteflyboy writes "The PengPod is the first dual-booting tablet; It's able to run both Linux and Android. Pengpod is now running the latest Plasma Active which gives this powerful Linux tablet features that were previously only available to iPad and Android tablets. PengPod is currently selling pre-orders on Indiegogo." garbagechuteflyboy adds links to articles about the dual-OS tablet at liliputing, at Ars Technica, and at PCWorld. "First dual-booting tablet" seems like a hard claim to back, but it's nice to see a tablet marketed with Plasma Active in mind.
Vigile writes "Nintendo has never been known to be very aggressive with its gaming console hardware and with today's release (in the U.S.) of the Wii U we are seeing a continuation of that business model. PC Perspective spent several hours last night taking apart a brand new console to reveal a very simplistic board and platform design topped off with the single multi-chip module that holds the IBM PowerPC CPU and the AMD GPU. The system includes 2GB of GDDR3 memory from Samsung and Foxconn/Hon-Hai built wireless controllers for WiFi and streaming video the gamepad. Even though this system is five years newer, many analysts estimate the processing power of Nintendo's Wii U to be just ahead of what you have in the Xbox 360 today."
An anonymous reader writes "Developers been working hard for the past few months to get Linux ported to the TI-Nspire calculator. The port is not yet fully stabilized nor quite ready for broad consumption and requires some user-level knowledge of Linux systems, but is definitely worth a try. Experimental support for root filesystem installed on USB mass storage is being worked on, so that Datalight's proprietary Flash FX/Reliance filesystem used by TI's OS isn't a limit anymore. This also means that the native TI-Nspire OS image is not replaced by the Linux system, and Linux can been booted on demand. Support for USB keyboard, X server, directFB, Wi-Fi (with the help of a powered USB hub) and text-based Internet browsing is progressively being added and tested."
cylonlover writes "Maya Cakmak, a researcher from Georgia Tech, spent the summer at Willow Garage creating a user-friendly system that teaches the PR2 robot simple tasks. The kicker is that it doesn't require any traditional programming skills whatsoever – it works by physically guiding the robot's arms while giving it verbal commands. After inviting regular people to give it a try, she found that with few instructions they were able to teach the PR2 how to retrieve medicine from a cabinet and fold a t-shirt."
An anonymous reader writes "I just learned that Salesforce charges $3000 per year for 1GB of extra data storage. That puts it in line with hardware storage costs from about 1993. We've all heard of telcos and ISPs charging ridiculous rates per MB when limits are reached — what's the most ridiculous rate that you've heard?"
Hugh Pickens writes "Josie Garthwaite writes that old electric car batteries degraded below acceptable performance levels for autos still have enough life to serve the grid for at least ten years with a prototype announced by GM and ABB lashing five Chevy Volt battery packs together in an array with a capacity of 10 kilowatt-hours — enough to provide electricity for three to five average houses for two hours. 'In a car, you want immediate power, and you want a lot of it,' says Alexandra Goodson. 'We're discharging for two hours instead of immediately accelerating. It's not nearly as demanding on the system.'" (Read on, below.)
An anonymous reader writes "Google's Nexus 4 sold out around the world very quickly this week, and while there was talk of very limited supply, apparently some key people managed to get their hands on it. That's right: the Nexus 4 has already been rooted."
New submitter lebijoutier writes "According to Slate, '[Patrick] Tresset, for one, discovered a novel way to stay mentally healthy with the help of drugs and still pursue what was once his life's work: He created robots that can draw portraits. Far from a mere novelty, his research is telling us more about both the creative process in humans and how we relate emotionally to machines. ... Most of us still don't have robots in the home, but for decades now, we've been waiting for machines to do our bidding. Tresset believes that it might be a good idea to imbue all personal robots with some sort of artistic skill to encourage an emotional bond — it might allow for more trust, perhaps, though you can also see how overly identifying with a machine might create some existential questions.' The article also has a fascinating video of five of his robots sketching a single human."
New submitter diabolicalrobot writes "The Robotics Institute at CMU has been developing systems to learn from humans. Using a Machine Learning class of techniques called Imitation Learning our group has developed AI software for a small commercially available off-the-shelf ARdrone to autonomously fly through the dense trees for over 3.4 km in experimental runs. We are also developing methods to do longer range planning with such purely vision-guided UAVs. Such technology has a lot of potential impact for surveillance, search and rescue and allowing UAVs to safely share airspace with manned airspace."
cylonlover writes "AdTrap is a new low-power, zero configuration device which promises to banish adverts from computers, tablets, and anything else connected to the local network. AdTrap's creators point out that their device works not only with full-sized PCs, but everything else connected to your home internet, such as Apple devices running iOS 6 – and without the need of third-party apps or jailbreaking. In addition to blocking web browser ads, AdTrap is also reported to remove ads from streaming devices like Apple TV and Google TV. A configurable 'whitelist' is offered too, so that users can allow adverts on websites of their choice."
c0lo writes "Engineers from Google's Books team have released the design plans for a comparatively reasonably priced (about $1500) book scanner on Google Code. Built using a scanner, a vacuum cleaner and various other components, the Linear Book Scanner was developed by engineers during the '20 percent time' that Google allocates for personal projects. The license is highly permissive, thus it's possible the design and building costs can be improved. Any takers?" Adds reader leighklotz: "The Google Tech Talk Video starts with Jeff Breidenbach of the Google Books team, and moves on to Dany Qumsiyeh showing how simple his design is to build. Could it be that the Google Books team has had enough of destroying the library in order to save it? Or maybe the just want to up-stage the Internet Archive's Scanning Robot. Disclaimer: I worked with Jeff when we were at Xerox (where he did this awesome hack), but this is more awesome because it saves books."
MrSeb writes "Engineers at NC State University (NCSU) have discovered a way of boosting the throughput of busy WiFi networks by up to 700%. Perhaps most importantly, the breakthrough is purely software-based, meaning it could be rolled out to existing WiFi networks relatively easily — instantly improving the throughput and latency of the network. As wireless networking becomes ever more prevalent, you may have noticed that your home network is much faster than the WiFi network at the airport or a busy conference center. The primary reason for this is that a WiFi access point, along with every device connected to it, operates on the same wireless channel. This single-channel problem is also compounded by the fact that it isn't just one-way; the access point also needs to send data back to every connected device. To solve this problem, NC State University has devised a scheme called WiFox. In essence, WiFox is some software that runs on a WiFi access point (i.e. it's part of the firmware) and keeps track of the congestion level. If WiFox detects a backlog of data due to congestion, it kicks in and enables high-priority mode. In this mode, the access point gains complete control of the wireless network channel, allowing it to clear its backlog of data. Then, with the backlog clear, the network returns to normal. We don't have the exact details of the WiFox scheme/protocol (it's being presented at the ACM CoNEXT conference in December), but apparently it increased the throughput of a 45-device WiFi network by 700%, and reduced latency by 30-40%."
sfcrazy writes "A very serious argument erupted on the Linux kernel mailing list when Andy Grover, a Red Hat SCSI target engineer, requested that Nicholas A. Bellinger, the Linux SCSI target maintainer, provide proof of non-infringement of the GPL. Nick is developer at Rising Tide Systems, a Red Hat competitor, and a maker of advanced SCSI storage systems. Nick's company recently produced a groundbreaking technology involving advanced SCSI commands which will give Rising Tide Systems a lead in producing SCSI storage systems. Now, RTS is blocking Red Hat from getting access to that code as it's proprietary. What's uncertain is whether RTS' code is covered by GPL or not — if it is then Red Hat has all the rights to get access to it and it's a serious GPL violation."
MrSeb writes "Alternative memory standards have been kicking around for decades as researchers have struggled to find the hypothetical holy grail — a non-volatile, low-latency, low-cost product that could scale from hard drives to conventional RAM. NAND flash has become the high-speed, non-volatile darling of the storage industry, but if you follow the evolution of the standard, you'll know that NAND is far from perfect. The total number of read/write cycles and data duration if the drive isn't kept powered are both significant problems as process shrinks continue scaling downward. Thus far, this holy grail remains elusive, but a practical MRAM (Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory) solution took a step towards fruition this week. Everspin has announced that it's shipping the first 64Mb ST-MRAM in a DDR3-compatible module. These modules transfer data at DDR3-1600 clock rates, but access latencies are much lower than flash RAM, promising an overall 500x performance increase over conventional NAND."