Hugh Pickens writes "Gregg Laskoski reports in U.S. News and World Report that virtually all of the retail gasoline price volatility that Americans experienced this past year was connected to significant problems at refineries. It was those refineries' vulnerability that subjected U.S. consumers to the year's highest average price ever, $3.63 per gallon. February delivered the BP refinery fire in Cherry Point, Washington that led to gasoline price spikes all along the Pacific coast, refinery problems in the Great Lakes region pushed Chicago gas prices to an all-time high of $4.56 per gallon, and over the summer, west coast refineries incurred outages, and California saw record highs in most markets, with Los Angeles gasoline's average price peaking at $4.72/gallon in October. Finally after Reuters reported that some 7,700 gallons of fuel spilled from Phillips 66's Bayway refinery in Linden, NJ, after Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey environmental protection officials said they were not made aware of a major spill at the Bayway plant, and the refinery failed to respond to inquiries from Reuters reporters. 'Too many times, history has shown us, the Phillips 66 response or lack thereof characterizes the standard practice of the oil industry. Refineries often fail or are slow to communicate problems that create significant disruptions to fuel supplies and spikes in retail gasoline prices. More often than not, scant information is provided reluctantly, if at all,' writes Laskoski. 'When such things occur is silence from refineries acceptable? Or does our government and the electorate who put them there have a right to know what's really going on?'"
Migrate from GitHub to SourceForge quickly and easily with this tool. Check out all of SourceForge’s recent improvements.×
An anonymous reader writes "Many cloud systems are available on the market like: dropbox, google, sugar sync, or your local internet provider, that offer some free gigabytes of storage. Is there anything out there which can combine the storage into one usable folder (preferably linux mountable) and encrypt the data stored in the cloud? The basic idea would be to create one file per cloud used as a block device. Then combine all of them using a software raid (redundancy etc) with cryptFS on top. Have you heard of anything which can do that or what can be used to build upon?"
DeviceGuru writes "A handful of innovative high-tech startups have recently emerged to create a new market: remote telepresence robots. With one of these robotic Avatars, you can wander around in the remote environment, chatting with coworkers and managers, attending meetings, and solving problems encountered through those interactions. InformationWeek's Telepresence Robot Smackdown compares five such bots — the MantaroBot TeleMe, VGo Communications VGo, Anybots QB, Suitable Technologies Beam, and Revolve Robotics Kubi — and includes short videos demonstrating each. As the article concludes, 'bear in mind that what we're witnessing here is the emergence of a new industry; and if Moore's Law applies here as it does to so many IT spheres, it won't be long before these gadgets are inexpensive, commonplace, and far more flexible and intelligent."
An anonymous reader writes "With CES all wrapped up, an article at CNET discusses a definite trend in the laptops on display from various manufacturers this year: touchscreens. Intel and Microsoft are leading the way, and attempting to grab the industry's reins as well: '... just to make sure the touch message was crystal clear, Intel issued an edict to PC partners during its CES keynote: all next-generation ultrabooks based on its "Haswell" chip must be touch.' With tablets and detachable/convertible computers coming into the mainstream, it seems the manufacturers have something to gain by condensing their production options. The article says, 'What does that mean to consumers? Your next laptop will likely be touch, whether you like it or not.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A group of geothermal power engineers have created three reservoirs from a single well in a place where none existed previously. This is a breakthrough for Enhanced Geothermal System technology — people who need power often can't choose a spot where there happens to be a geothermal reservoir, and EGS could allow us to create them where needed. 'Last fall, engineers pumped cold water into the ground, cracking open fissures in the deep rock, a process known as hydroshearing. They then sealed one reservoir from the other using a new technology. They injected ground-up recycled plastic bottles, which plugged up the cracks in one reservoir while millions of gallons of cold water were being pumped in to create another. Then the plastic diffused, leaving behind three reservoirs. ... The U.S. Department of Energy, which is covering half the $43.8 million cost of the Newberry project, says if the initial indications hold up, the Newberry project would mark the first time in the world that multiple geothermal reservoirs have been created on purpose from a single well in a new area.'"
Coldeagle writes "It looks as if CNET's parent company, CBS, has laid down the law: 'Just one day after CNet named the Dish "Hopper," a new TV recording system that's drawing rave reviews in the tech press, to an awards shortlist, the site's parent company stepped in and nixed the accolade. Because of a legal battle between CBS and Dish over the Hopper's ad-skipping technology, CBS laid down a ban: CNet won't be allowed to even review Dish products, much less give them awards.' Got to love modern day freedom of the press!"
Nerval's Lobster writes "The U.S. Department of Science has presented a difficult challenge to vendors: deliver a supercomputer with roughly 10 to 30 petaflops of performance, yet filled with energy-efficient multi-core architecture. The draft copy (.DOC) of the DOE's requirements provide for two systems: 'Trinity,' which will offer computing resources to the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), during the 2016-2020 timeframe; and NERSC-8, the replacement for the current NERSC-6 'Hopper' supercomputer first deployed in 2010 for the DOE facilities. Hopper debuted at number five in the list of Top500 supercomputers, and can crunch numbers at the petaflop level. The DOE wants a machine with performance at between 10 to 30 times Hopper's capabilities, with the ability to support one compute job that could take up over half of the available compute resources at any one time."
snydeq writes "Tech giants Apple, Google, and Microsoft were no-shows at CES this week in Las Vegas, which worked out just fine for Chinese vendors looking to establish a name for themselves with U.S. consumers. 'Telecom suppliers Huawei and ZTE, in particular, have set their sights on breaking into the U.S. market for smartphones and tablets. ... Whether these Chinese imports can take on the likes of Apple and Samsung remains to be seen, but as Wired quotes Jeff Lotman, the CEO of Global Icons, an agency that helps companies build and license their brands: "The thing that's amazing is these are huge companies, and they have a lot of power, but in the United States nobody has heard of them and they're having trouble gaining traction, but it's not impossible. Samsung was once known for making crappy, low-end phones and cheap TVs. Now they're seen as a top TV and smartphone brand."'"
IN WIN, has put a $399 MSRP (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price) tag on their top-of-the-line "limited edition" computer cases. Wow. Most of us probably won't buy one of these, considering that low-cost mid-tower cases can be had for $30, and the entire computer used to edit this video cost $399 (with the addition of some RAM and a better video card). But there is a market for Lamborghinis, and there is a market for computer cases that cost as much as a complete low-end computer. And CES (annoying sounds if you click the link) is a great place to look at them even if you don't really need a computer case that costs more than a minimum wage worker's entire weekly paycheck.
ananyo writes "The ribosome, the molecular machine that translates our genetic code to build the body's proteins, is a mechanical marvel. Now, chemists have invented a nanomachine that can achieve a similar feat. The artificial system is not about to displace nature's ribosome, a complex of proteins and RNA. It is much simpler, and only about about one-tenth of the size — and, it is achingly slow, destroys the code it reads and can produce only very short chunks of protein, known as peptides. It does, however, show that some of the tactics of biology's molecular machines can be adopted to make useful chemicals. The device relies on a rotaxane — a large molecular ring threaded onto another molecule that acts as an axle (abstract). The axle is lined with three amino acids, and a chain of three more amino acids hangs from the outer edge of the ring. Heating the device prompts the ring to move along the axle, adding amino acids one-by-one to the chain attached to the ring."
An anonymous reader writes "Earlier this week, reports surfaced that the Windows RT operating system had been jailbroken to allow for the execution of unsigned ARM desktop applications. Microsoft quickly issued a statement saying it does not consider the findings to be part of a security vulnerability, and applauded the hacker for his ingenuity. Now, a Windows RT jailbreak tool has been released."
crookedvulture writes "SSD prices are falling as drive makers start using next-generation NAND built on smaller fabrication processes. Micron and Crucial have announced a new M500 drive that's particularly aggressive on that front, promising 960GB for just $600, or about $0.63 per gigabyte. SSDs in the terabyte range currently cost $1,000 and up, so the new model represents substantial savings; you can thank the move to 20-nm MLC NAND for the price reduction. Although the 960GB version will be limited to a 2.5" form factor, there will be mSATA and NGFF-based variants with 120-480GB of storage. The M500 is rated for peak read and write speeds of 500 and 400MB/s, respectively, and it can crunch 80k random 4KB IOps. Crucial covers the drive with a three-year warranty and rates it for 72TB of total bytes written. Expect the M500 to be available this quarter as both a standalone drive and inside pre-built systems."
Consumer Electronic Show (warning - link landing page plays annoying sound) in Las Vegas to see the newest 42.001" LCD TVs, which are 0.001" bigger than last year's 42" models. And there are many boring Windows 8 devices, many of which both run Windows and can display the number 8. These items, along with keynotes from tech gurus like Bill Clinton (We're not making this up!) may be amazing to some news outlets, but not to Slashdot or to Our Man Timothy, who seeks out the new, the bizarre, and the unusual and -- without taking a dime from them -- lets their instigators talk to him about their wares. But it's got to be good stuff, not run of the mill incremental advances. Like the Good Night Lamp(tm), which was invented by Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, whose "work has been exhibited," says the goodnightlamp.com/team page, "at the Milan Furniture Fair, London Design Festival, The Victoria & Albert Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York." Now the Good Night Lamp people are showing off their product and trying to raise money through Kickstarter. But that's enough from us. We will now hand the microphone to Ms. Deschamps-Sonsino and let her tell you the rest.
redletterdave writes "The PaperTab, which looks and feels just like a sheet of paper, may one day overtake today's tablet. Developed by researchers at the Human Media Lab at Queen's University in Ontario, Canada, the PaperTab features a flexible, high-resolution 10.7-inch plastic touchscreen display built by Plastic Logic, the company borne from Cambridge University's Cavendish Laboratory, and relies on a second-generation Intel Core i5 processor to turn what looks like a sheet of white paper into a living, interactive display. Unlike typical tablets akin to Apple's iPad, the idea of PaperTab is to use one app at a time, per PaperTab. To make tasks easier, users would own 10 or more PaperTabs at once and lay them out to their liking; with multiple tablets to separate your applications, PaperTab relies on an interface that allows you to combine and merge elements from disparate applications with intuitive dragging, dropping, pointing, and folding."
adeelarshad82 writes "Oculus VR Rift is a one of the seventeen kickstarter projects to raise more than a million dollars in 2012 and a recently published hands-on shows exactly why it was so successful. Using Oculus VR Rift with the upcoming Infinity Blade and a modified version of Unreal Tournament 3, the analyst found that the 3D effect and head tracking provided a great sense of immersion. At one point while playing Infinity Blade, the analyst describes walking around the guards and watching their swords shift as he stepped, seeming like they were inches from cutting him. While he felt that the demo was impressive, he found that the software limitations made the whole experience a bit unrealistic. Needless to say that Oculus Rift is a long way from hitting stores but Oculus VR is getting ready to ship developer kits."