mdsolar writes with this story of a company that uses solar energy to recover crude oil. Royal Dutch Shell has teamed with a sovereign investment fund from Oman to invest $53 million in a company that manufactures solar power equipment designed for increasing oil production. Glasspoint Solar Inc. installs aluminum mirrors near oil fields that concentrate solar radiation on insulated tubes containing water. The steam generated from heating the water is injected into oil fields to recover heavy crude oil. This concept of enhanced oil recovery. involves high pressure injection of hot fluids to recover heavy crude oil. The use of renewable energy like solar power makes great economic sense, as the fuel cost associated with this enhanced oil recovery technology is practically zero. Shell hopes to employ this technology in its oil fields in Oman. The company hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with enhanced oil recovery operations. A large-scale successful implementation of this technology could be a game changer for major consumers like India and the U.S.. Both have substantial oil reserves, but are unable to tap them due to high costs involved in heavy oil recovery.
DeviceGuru writes: The Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF), which maintains the open source Robot Operating System (ROS), has announced its first formal support for an ARM target. The organization will add support for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, a smartphone-oriented, quad-core, Cortex-A15-like system-on-chip running up to 1.7GHz. The Linux version of ROS for Snapdragon 600 will be available in Q4 of this year, with the Android version due in the first half of 2015. The OSRF will test, refine, and fully integrate support for the ARM instruction set architecture into ROS development efforts. OSRF will also perform ongoing maintenance to support ROS on the Snapdragon 600.
Lucas123 writes: SanDisk has announced the world's highest capacity SD card, a 512GB model that represents a 1,000-fold increase over the company's first 512MB card that it shipped a decade ago. The SanDisk Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I memory card has a max read/write rate of 95MB/s and 90MB/s, respectively. The card is rated to function in temperatures from -13 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit. The 512GB model retails for $800. The card also comes in 128GB and 256GB capacities.
The new battery factory that Tesla has announced it will build in Nevada comes with some nice perks: specifically, with a package of tax incentives, road construction, and legislative protection from the kind of dealer cartels that have hindered Tesla's ability to sell cars in some other states. A Bloomberg wire story gives some details about the size of the deal that Nevada made to attract the company: The biggest chunk of the deal, Tesla's sales tax exemptions, is worth an estimated at $725 million. In addition, the company would save more than an estimated $300 million in payroll and other taxes through 2024. ... Among the bills approved in both houses was a provision phasing out and eliminating 1970s-era tax credits for insurance companies, which backers said would free up about $125 million over five years beginning in 2016 for transferable tax credits to Tesla. The package would also gut a pilot program approved just last year giving tax credits to the film industry, freeing up about $70 million for Tesla. ... Lawmakers also agreed to buy right of way to build a road connecting I-80 and U.S. 50, a project estimated to cost $43 million that will improve access to the industrial park from other regions of the state.
Lucas123 writes Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said his company's Gigafactory battery plant, the world's largest, will be "self contained" and run on solar, wind and geothermal energy. The obvious problem with renewable sources is that they're intermittent at any given location, but on a larger scale they're quite predictable and reliable, according to Tom Lombardo, a professor of engineering and technology. Lombardo points out that Tesla isn't necessarily going off-grid, but using a strategy of "net metering" where the factory will produce more renewable energy than it needs, and receive credits in return from its utility when renewables aren't available. So why can't other manufacturing facilities do the same? Is what Tesla is doing not necessarily transferable to other industries? Sam Jaffe, principal research analyst with Navigant Research, believes Tesla's choice of locations — Reno — and its product is optimal for using renewable and not something that can be reproduced by every industry.
An anonymous reader writes: Richard Yao, one of the most prolific contributors to the ZFSOnLinux project, has put up a post explaining why he thinks the filesystem is definitely production-ready. He says, "ZFS provides strong guarantees for the integrity of [data] from the moment that fsync() returns on a file, an operation on a synchronous file handle is returned or dirty writeback occurs (by default every 5 seconds). These guarantees are enabled by ZFS' disk format, which places all data into a Merkle tree that stores 256-bit checksums and is changed atomically via a two-stage transaction commit.. ... Sharing a common code base with other Open ZFS platforms has given ZFS on Linux the opportunity to rapidly implement features available on other Open ZFS platforms. At present, Illumos is the reference platform in the Open ZFS community and despite its ZFS driver having hundreds of features, ZoL is only behind on about 18 of them."
MojoKid writes Intel Execs out at IDF this week in San Francisco have let slip some actual benchmark run results on Intel's just-released Broadwell Core M processor platform. Intel has gone into detail on Broadwell's architecture and features previously and has discussed power consumption and performance expectations. However, now we finally have some cold, hard numbers, rather than just percentage comparisons versus previous generation Intel platforms. Intel was demonstrating a 12.5-inch Broadwell-based, Core M 5Y70-powered Windows tablet live and the benchmark runs look promising, with 3DMark scores in the 50K range. The Cinebench results shown place the CPU on par with full-fledged Core i5 notebook variants in the 15 Watt power envelope, but powered by the new 4.5 Watt Broadwell Y Core M processor that will be employed mostly in 2-in-1 hybrid devices and high end tablets.
An anonymous reader writes: All the EV attention these days is going to Tesla and other sedan manufacturers, but this article makes the case that it's far more important to switch our buses over to electric power than our cars. "Last year, according to the American Public Transportation Association, buses hauled 5.36 billion passengers. While usage has fallen in recent years, thanks in part to the growth of light rail and subway systems, buses still account for more rides each year than heavy rail, light rail, and commuter rail combined—and for about half of all public transit trips." This, while managing around 4-5 miles per gallon of gas, and public buses usually average about 50,000 miles per year. The electric buses themselves are significantly more expensive, but the difference is made up dramatically lower fuel costs. And there will be difficulties: "The range—up to 30 miles—limits Proterra buses to certain routes, so it's hard for an agency to go all in. Drivers have to be trained to brake and accelerate differently, and to maneuver into the docking stations. And Doran Barnes of Foothill Transit notes that some of the cost advantage of using electricity instead of diesel can dissipate. Electric cars can be charged at night, when power prices are low. But buses have no choice but to recharge in the middle of the day, when utilities often impose higher peak usage rates."
Whatever it is that Apple's going to announce a few hours from now, it seems Amazon has decided it's probably not going to send people rushing to buy its Fire phone. Amazon's cut the price of the phone from $199 to 99 cents. At that price, the Fire phone comes with free Amazon Prime membership, too -- but also a 2-year contract with (exclusive carrier) AT&T. Writes ExtremeTech: Whether that’s going to be enough to stimulate sales is an open question — $450 unlocked is still a tough sell for a device that is overmatched by products like the cheaper Nexus 5, or the recently unveiled $500 second-gen Moto X.
In August, adoption data from advertising agency Chitika claimed that total Amazon Fire Phone sales were paltry, representing just 0.015-0.02% of phones in use, or fewer than 30,000 phones. That number will have doubtlessly ticked up slightly since then, and it’s true that Amazon’s partners, like AT&T, have aggressively pushed the phone in online stores.
MojoKid writes Intel took the wraps off its Xeon E5 v3 server line-up today and the chip, based on Intel's Haswell-EP architecture, is looking impressive. Intel's previous generation Xeon E5 V2 chips, which were based on Ivy Bridge, topped out at 12 cores per socket. The new Xeon E5 v3 processors, in contrast, are going to push as high as 18 cores per socket — a 50% improvement. The TDP range is pushing slightly outwards in both directions; the E5 V2 family ranged from 50W to 150W, whereas the E5 V3 family will span 55W — 160W in a single workstation configuration. The core technologies Intel is introducing to the E5 V3 family pull from the Haswell architecture, including increased cache bandwidth, improved overall IPC, and new features like AVX2, which offers a theoretical near-doubling of floating point performance over the original AVX instructions. Full support for DDR4 DRAM memory is now included as well.
An anonymous reader writes I am currently a combat veteran in the care of the VA Hospital. A lot of veterans here suffer from PTSD and other injuries related to combat and trauma. As part of the healing process, the VA finds it good that we take up hobbies such as art or music, and they supply us kits and stuff to put together and paint. This is great, but many of us younger veterans have an interest in robotics and electronics. Do you know of some good and basic robotic and electronic kits that can be ordered or donated to Veterans out there? Any information would be appreciated.
AmiMoJo writes In his press conference, Elon Musk stated that the factory will produce all of its own energy using a combination of solar, wind, and geothermal. Engineering.com looks at the feasibility of the plans. Spoiler alert: it looks possible, though some storage will be required. Fortunately, if there is one thing the Gigafactory won't be short of it's batteries. From the article: "The numbers don’t lie. The site could realistically produce more than 2900 MWh of renewable electricity each day ... 20% more than it needs. These are conservative estimates on production and worst-case estimates on consumption, and it’s clear that there’s enough renewable energy to run the plant with some to spare."
sfcrazy writes Developer Vratislav Podzimek has announced the next-gen partition manager for Fedora, blivet-gui. It is eventually going to replace GParted, the most popular GUI based partition manager, found in all major distros. The new tool is named blivet-gui after the blivet python library (originally Anaconda's storage management and configuration tool). The need of a new partition manager stems from the fact that none of the existing GUI partitioning tools supports all modern storage technologies. Fedora's Anaconda base supports all, though, and is hence chosen as the back-end for this new tool. The application is only a few months old but is already looking nice and useful. Features like RAID and BTRFS support are being worked on. Vojtech Trefny is the other developer working with Vratislav on blivet-gui. Here's the announcement.
An anonymous reader writes with this news from Government Attic: "The FAA has released a set of cease and desist letters sent in 2012 and 2013 to people operating drone vehicles for a variety of purposes including: tornado research, inspecting gas well stacks, aerial photography, journalism education, and other purposes. Drone cease and desist letters sent during 2014 are available from the FAA upon request." The text of the letters (bureaucratically polite, but bureaucratically firm) often starts with notes indicating to the UAV operators to whom they were sent that the FAA became interested in them because it "became aware of" their web sites, or even because someone tipped them off about an article in a community newsletter. The letters go on to outline the conditions under which the FAA allows the operation of unmanned aircraft, and specifically notes:
Those who use UAS only for recreational enjoyment, operate in accordance with Advisory
circular 91-57. This generally applies to operations in remotely populated areas away
from airports, persons and buildings, below 400 feet Above Ground Level, and within
visual line of sight. On February 6, 2007 the FAA published UAS guidance in the Federal
Register, 14 CPR Part 91 / Docket No. FAA-2006-25714 I Unmanned Aircraft
Operations in the National Airspace System. Toward the end of the docket it says,
''The FAA recognizes that people and companies other than modelers might be flying UAS
with the mistaken understanding that they are legally operating under the authority of AC
91-57. AC 91-57 only applies to modelers, and thus specifically excludes Its use by
persons or companies for business purposes."Update: 09/07 02:16 GMT by T: Pray forgive the OCR that turned "persons" into "pecions" and "circular" into "arcular"; updated to fix those. Update: 09/08 11:07 GMT by T: Correction: Carl Malamud is not affiliated with Government Attic as this story originally described: sorry for the error.
MojoKid writes: Intel's next-generation Broadwell Y (now known as the Core M processor) is set to ship on schedule for the end of the year. The company, occasionally flagged with criticism of its delays on the chip and with its IDF show rampingup next week, is sharing more detail on the upcoming speeds, feeds, features and performance characteristics of its new 14nm mobile platform. Intel's Broadwell-Y lineup initially consists of three chips with apparently very little difference, except for clock speed. Base idle frequencies tip-toe along at 800MHz to 1.1GHz, with max turbo frequencies up to 2.6GHz for the dual-core chips that Intel is announcing today. All parts are able to hit a very low 4.5 Watt TDP (Thermal Design Power) power envelope. Intel is also claiming clock-for-clock gains at the CPU level but also a 40 percent gain in graphics performance, versus the previous generation low power Haswell architecture. Larger, premium tablets and 2-in-1 devices are expect to start shipping at a trickle in Q4, with a larger volume ramp in Q1.
An anonymous reader writes: Even though 4k displays are just making their way into consumer affordability, manufacturers are already pushing beyond. Dell has previewed a computer monitor it calls a "5k" display. The resolution is 5120x2880, stuffing 14,745,600 pixels on a 27" screen. For comparison, that's more than seven times the amount of pixels in a 1920x1080 display. Pixel density is 218 PPI, roughly the same as a 15" Retina MacBook Pro. ExtremeTech suggests, "As far as we're aware, no one is actually making 5120×2880 panels, especially not at 27 inches diagonal – so what we're probably looking at is two 2560x2880 panels squished together as a 'tiled display.'" Unfortunately, it's pricy, expected to cost around $2,500. But hopefully it will help drive 4k display prices even further toward mainstream availability.