An anonymous reader writes "Jeff Atwood at Coding Horror is trying to figure out why the battery life for devices running Windows is so much worse than similar (or identical) devices running other operating systems. For example, the Surface Pro 2 made great strides over the original Surface Pro, increasing web-browsing battery life by 42%, but it still lags far behind Android and iOS tablets. The deficit doesn't get any better when Windows is run on Apple hardware. Atwood says, 'Microsoft positions Windows 8 as an operating system that's great for tablets, which are designed for casual web browsing and light app use – but how can that possibly be true when Windows idle power management is so much worse than the competition's desktop operating system in OS X – much less their tablet and phone operating system, iOS?' Anand Lal Shimpi is perplexed, too. Atwood is now reaching out to the community for answers: 'None of the PC vendors he spoke to could justify it, or produce a Windows box that managed similar battery life to OS X. And that battery life gap is worse today – even when using Microsoft's own hardware, designed in Microsoft's labs, running Microsoft's latest operating system released this week. Microsoft can no longer hand wave this vast difference away based on vague references to "poorly optimized third party drivers." ... I just wish somebody could explain to me and Anand why Windows is so awful at managing idle power.'"
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Lucas123 writes "A new project between NYU and start-up HEVO Power will disguise wireless charging stations in manhole covers. The wireless charging stations are aimed at providing fleets of delivery vehicles with power in parking spaces around the city. Next year, Toyota plans to test a wireless charging Prius in Japan, Europe. And, U.S. Auto electronics giant Delphi is developing technology for electric vehicles that could be used industrywide. The charging stations could be embedded in asphalt or pads that lay on garage floors. Wireless charging, however, still has many obstacles to overcome, including the time it takes to recharge a vehicle, cost to deploy the technology and power loss during electrical transfer."
Via Phoronix comes news that the new DRM driver for the Freedreno driver for Qualcomm Snapdragon Adreno graphics is gaining a few new features in Linux 3.13: "After a year of working on the 'Freedreno' Gallium3D user-space driver and getting that up to speed for Qualcomm Adreno/Snapdragon support, for the past few months he's been working on a complementary kernel driver rather than relying upon Qualcomm's Android-focused kernel layer. ... The work that Rob has ready for Linux 3.13 with this Qualcomm DRM graphics driver is DRI PRIME support, support for render nodes, updated header files, plane support, and a couple of other changes."
jrepin writes "Everywhere you look, change is afoot in computer networking. As data centers grow in size and complexity, traditional tools are proving too slow or too cumbersome to handle that expansion. Dinesh Dutt is Chief Scientist at Cumulus Networks. Cumulus has been working to change the way we think about networks altogether by dispensing with the usual software/hardware lockstep, and instead using Linux as the operating system on network hardware. In this week's New Tech Forum, Dinesh details the reasons and the means by which we may see Linux take over yet another aspect of computing: the network itself."
An anonymous reader writes "Smart watches have arrived, and Google Glass is on its way. As early-adopters start to gain some experience with these devices, they're learning some interesting lessons about how wearable computing affects our behavior differently from even smartphones and tablets. Vint Cerf says, 'Our social conventions have not kept up with the technology.' Right now, it's considered impolite to talk on your cellphone while checking out at the grocery store, or to ignore a face-to-face conversation in favor of texting somebody. But 20 years ago, those actions weren't even on our social radar. Wearable devices create some obvious social problems, like the aversion to Glass's ever-present camera. But there are subtler ones, as well, for which we'll need to develop another set of social norms. A Pebble smart watch user gave an example: 'People thought I was being rude and checking the time constantly when I was really monitoring incoming messages. It sent the wrong signal.' The article continues, 'Therein lies the wearables conundrum. You can put a phone away and choose not to use it. You can turn to it with permission if you're so inclined. Wearables provide no opportunity for pause, as their interruptions tend to be fairly continuous, and the interaction is more physical (an averted glance or a vibration directly on your arm). It's nearly impossible to train yourself to avoid the reflex-like response of interacting. By comparison, a cell phone is away (in your pocket, on a table) and has to be reached for.'"
MojoKid writes "The LG G2 is the follow-up to LG's Optimus G Pro. It's also one of the few smartphones on the market right now powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 quad-core SoC. The G2 sports a 5.2-inch 1080p display, 2GB of RAM and up to 32GB of on board storage. However, the 2.26GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 chip on board also has Qualcomm's Adreno 330 GPU that even gives NVIDIA's Tegra 4 a run for its money in gaming and graphics performance. Though the G2 has a rather unorthodox volume rocker and power button assembly on the back of the phone, once you get used to the location, it's actually a pretty comfortable control system. What's pretty impressive though is the G2's performance combined with its 3000mAh battery that offers a solid balance of horsepower and battery life and rivals flagship phones like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Apple's iPhone 5S."
An anonymous reader writes "All Power Labs in Berkeley, California has produced and sold over 500 machines that take in dense biomass and put out energy. What makes the machines special is that instead of releasing carbon back into the atmosphere, it's concentrated into a lump charcoal that makes excellent fertilizer. The energy is produced cheaply, too; many of the machines went to poor nations who normally pay much more per kilowatt. '[T]he PowerPallets are still relatively simple, at least as far as their users are concerned. For one, thing Price explained, much of the machine is made with plumbing fixtures that are the same everywhere in the world. That means they're easy to repair. At the same time, while researchers at the 50 or so institutions that have bought the machines are excited by opening up the computer control system and poking around inside, a guy running a corn mill in Uganda with a PowerPallet "will never need to open that door and never will," Price said.'"
itwbennett writes "OCZ, one of the first commercial solid-state drive (SSD) makers has been blaming a shortage of NAND for its woes for some time now, but things have taken a precipitous turn for the worse: 'For its second fiscal quarter ended August 31, 2013, revenue was $33.5 million, a huge drop compared to revenue of $55.3 million for the first quarter of 2013 and revenue of $88.6 million for the second quarter of 2012. The net loss for this quarter was massive, $26 million, a doubling of the $13.1 million loss in the same quarter last year.' The company has burned through cash, its stock collapsed, and now so have sales. Meanwhile, other SSD makers are doing well. So what is happening here?"
barlevg writes "Since the birth of film, shooting subjects of darker complexion has been a technical challenge: light meters, film emulsions, tone and color models, and the dynamic range of the film itself were all calibrated for light skin, resulting in dark skin appearing ashy and washed-out. Historically, filmmakers have used workarounds involving "a variety of gels, scrims and filters." But now we live in the age of digital filmmaking, and as film critic Ann Hornaday describes in the Washington Post, and as is showcased in recent films such as "12 Years a Slave," "Mother of George" and "Black Nativity," a collection of innovators have set to work developing techniques in lighting, shooting and post-processing designed to counteract century-old technological biases as old as the medium itself."
First time accepted submitter szczys writes "Quinn Dunki spent decades developing software before she fabricated her own 6502-based computer. Here she talks about crossing between software and hardware (or the other way around) and why this is easier today than it has been in the past."
mspohr writes "The NY Times has an interesting story about a pair of researchers who 'discovered that they could freeze, or crash, the software that monitors a [power] substation, thereby blinding control center operators from the power grid.' These two engineers wrote software to test for vulnerabilities in the control systems of electrical power grids which use a protocol called DNP3 to communicate with sub-stations. They first tested an open source implementation of the protocol and didn't find any problems. They were worried that their software test wasn't adequate so they started testing proprietary systems. The broke every single one of the 16 proprietary systems they tested initially and found nine more systems vulnerable in later testing. They were able to install malware and also found firewalls ineffective. The pair reported this to the Department of Homeland Security's Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team, I.C.S.-C.E.R.T. and didn't get much of a response. It's scary that our electrical grid is so vulnerable and there doesn't seem to be much urgency to get it fixed. A few patches have been issued, but who knows if the systems have been updated?"
Phopojijo writes "A monitor redraws itself top to bottom because of how the electron guns in CRT monitors used to operate. VSync was created to align the completed frames, computed by a videocard, to the start of each monitor draw; without it, midway through a monitor's draw process, a break (horizontal tear) would be visible on screen between the two time-slices of animation. Pixels on LCD monitors do not need to wait for above lines of pixels to be drawn, but they do. G-Sync is a technology from NVIDIA to make monitor refresh rates variable. The monitor will time its draws to whenever the GPU is finished rendering. A scene which requires 40ms to draw will have a smooth 'framerate' of 25FPS instead of trying to fit in some fraction of 60 FPS." NVIDIA also announced support for three 4k displays at the same time. That resolution would be 11520×2160.
CowboyRobot writes "Former high-frequency trader Jacob Loveless gives an in-depth description of the math and technology involved in HFT. From the article: 'The first step in HFT is to place the systems where the exchanges are. Light passing through fiber takes 49 microseconds to travel 10,000 meters, and that's all the time available in many cases. In New York, there are at least six data centers you need to collocate in to be competitive in equities. In other assets (foreign exchange, for example), you need only one or two in New York, but you also need one in London and probably one in Chicago. The problem of collocation seems straightforward: 1. Contact data center. 2. Negotiate contract. 3. Profit. The details, however, are where the first systems problem arises. The real estate is extremely expensive, and the cost of power is an ever-crushing force on the bottom line. A 17.3-kilowatt cabinet will run $14,000 per month. Assuming a modest HFT draw of 750 watts per server, 17 kilowatts can be taken by 23 servers. It's also important to ensure you get the right collocation. In many markets, the length of the cable within the same building is a competitive advantage. Some facilities such as the Mahwah, New Jersey, NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) data center have rolls of fiber so that every cage has exactly the same length of fiber running to the exchange cages.'"
Digi-Key Corporation, carefully tracks orders and tries to determine what's hot and what's not. His reason for doing so is to figure out what Digi-Key should stock in coming months and years. But his insights can also be used to decide what you might want to study or -- if you're already working in the field -- what products you or your company should consider developing. Digi-Key also has an online video library where they feature new products and give ideas of what you can do with them. Even if you're not an engineer or electronics hobbyist, it's fun to see what's available but may not have hit the mass market quite yet.
judgecorp writes "Intel has put back the delivery of its 14nm Broadwell desktop chip by a quarter because of a manufacturing issue that leaves it with too high a density of defects. The problem has been fixed, says CEO Brian Krzanich, who says, 'This happens sometimes in development phases.'" The good news is that it is just a defect density issue. A first round of tweaks failed to increase yield, but Intel seems to think a few more improvements to the 14nm process will result in acceptable yield.
cartechboy writes "Electric vehicle batteries have three problems — they're big, heavy, and expensive. But what if you could shift EV batteries away from being big blocks under the car and engineer them into the car itself? Research groups at Imperial College London working with Volvo have spent three years developing a way to do exactly that. The researchers are storing energy in nano structure batteries woven into carbon fiber--which can then be formed into car body panels. These panel-style batteries charge and store energy faster than normal EV batteries, and they are also lighter and more eco-friendly. The research team has built a Volvo S80 prototype featuring the panels where the battery panel material has been used for the trunk lid. With the materials used on the doors, roof and hood, estimated range for a mid-size electric car is around 80 miles."
MojoKid writes "NVIDIA is holding a tech event currently in Montreal to showcase a number of the tools and technologies the company has developed to foster state of the art in game development. NVIDIA's VP of Content and Technology, Tony Tomasi took a moment to show off Faceworks, and the 'Digital Ira' face that they've demoed at various events over the last year or so. This particular demo was a little different, however, in that it was running on Logan test kit. If you're unfamiliar, Logan is the codename for one of NVIDIA's next-gen mobile SoCs, which features a Kepler-based GPU, like current GeForce GTX 600 and 700 series parts. The demo ran perfectly smooth and the quality of imagery was as good as we've seen on any other platform to date, console, PC or mobile. Incidentally, the demo was running on an Ubuntu Linux OS."
DeviceGuru writes "Suitable Technologies is offering $50 rentals of its Beam mobile telepresence robot, allowing 50 robotics enthusiasts to remotely attend the RoboBusiness conference in Santa Clara, Calif. on Oct. 23-25. The Ubuntu- and ROS-based Beam will be available to the first 50 applicants, letting them explore the show at up to 1.5 meters/sec and interact with others via video conferencing. The bots will be allowed everywhere on the show floor as well as in conference rooms, and the show will be open late to accommodate remote users from distant time zones. The Beam is a good choice for remotely exploring conferences, saving users the cost and time of traveling to an event, says Suitable Tech; for example, RoboBusiness registration costs $1,595, not including hotel and travel. A list of the conference's keynotes, which include one by Christ Urmson, director of Google's Self-Driving Cars project, is available here."
mdsolar sends this news from the Associated Press: "The number of safety violations at U.S. nuclear power plants varies dramatically from region to region, pointing to inconsistent enforcement in an industry now operating mostly beyond its original 40-year licenses, according to a congressional study awaiting release. Nuclear Regulatory Commission figures cited in the Government Accountability Office report show that while the West has the fewest reactors, it had the most lower-level violations from 2000 to 2012 — more than 2½ times the Southeast's rate per reactor. The Southeast, with the most reactors of the NRC's four regions, had the fewest such violations, according to the report, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. The striking variations do not appear to reflect real differences in reactor performance. Instead, the report says, the differences suggest that regulators interpret rules and guidelines differently among regions, perhaps because lower-level violations get limited review."
ananyo writes "ITER, the multibillion-euro international nuclear-fusion experiment, is on track to generate power by 2028. But some of the science that was supposed to happen along the way is going to be dropped to keep the vision alive. The plans form the main thrust of recommendations by a 21-strong expert panel of international plasma scientists and ITER staff, convened to reassess the project's research plan in the light of the construction delays. The plans were discussed this week at a meeting of ITER's Science and Technology Advisory Committee. The meeting is the start of a year-long review by ITER to try to keep the experiment on track to generate 500 MW of power from an input of 50 MW by 2028, and so hit its target of attaining the so-called Q10, where power output is ten times input or more. ITER initially aims to produce a Q10 for a few seconds, and then for pulses of 300–500 seconds, and work up over the following decade to output ratios of 30 times more power out than in, with pulses lasting almost an hour. Eventually the aim is to develop steady-state plasmas, which will yield information relevant to industrial-scale fusion-power generation. It is experiments relating to the understanding of longer-pulse and steady-state ITER plasmas that are most likely to be delayed beyond 2028."