We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!
Amazon may have a slight lead in the world of Android-based TV-centric mini-boxes with its Amazon Fire TV, but according to this story, Google is getting set to release just such a box itself. "According to documents obtained exclusively by The Verge, Google is about to launch a renewed assault on your television set called Android TV. Major video app providers are building for the platform right now. Android TV may sound like a semantic difference — after all, Google TV was based on Android — but it’s something very different. Android TV is no longer a crazy attempt to turn your TV into a bigger, more powerful smartphone. "Android TV is an entertainment interface, not a computing platform," writes Google. "It’s all about finding and enjoying content with the least amount of friction." It will be "cinematic, fun, fluid, and fast." ... What does that all mean? It means that Android TV will look and feel a lot more like the rest of the set top boxes on the market, including Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV, and Roku."
A few months back, we posted a video interview with some of the folks behind the Linux-friendly, x86-based MinnowBoard. TechCrunch reports the release of a more powerful version of the same all-in-one computer, now with a 1.91GHz Atom E3845 processor. According to the linked article, "The board's schematics are also available for download and the Intel graphics chipset has open-source drivers so hackers can have their way with the board. While it doesn’t compete directly with the Raspberry Pi – the Pi is more an educational tool and already has a robust ecosystem – it is a way for DIYers to mess around in x86 architected systems as well as save a bit of cash. The system uses break-out boards called Lures to expand functionality."
New submitter FikseGTS (3604833) writes "A Tesla Model S owner located a 4 pin connector on the left side of the Tesla Model S dashboard that turns out to be a disguised ethernet networking port. After crafting his owns patch cable to connect with the Tesla's port, a networking connection was established between the Tesla Model S and a laptop computer. The Model S is running a 100 Mbps, full duplex ethernet network and 3 devices were found with assigned IP addresses in the 192.168.90.0 subnet. Some ports and services that were open on the devices were 22 (SSH), 23 (telnet),53 (open domain), 80 (HTTP), 111 (rpcbind), 2049 (NFS), 6000 (X11). Port 80 was serving up a web page with the image or media of the current song being played. The operating system is modified version of Ubuntu using an ext3 filesystem. Using X11 it also appears that someone was able to somewhat run Firefox on both of the Model S screens. Is a jailbroken Tesla Model S on the way?" Some more details on this front would be appreciated, for anyone who has a Tesla they'd like to explore.
MojoKid writes: "Google's Project Ara, an effort to develop a modular smartphone platform, sounded at first as much like vaporware, but Google is actually making it happen. In an upbeat video, Dave Hakkens (the guy who created the Phonebloks design that appears to be the conceptual basis for Project Ara) visited the Google campus to see what progress is being made on the project. The teams working on Project Ara have figured out a key solution to one of the first problems they encountered, which was how to keep all the modules stuck together. They decided to use electro-permanent magnets. In terms of design, they've decided not to cover up the modules, instead making their very modularity part of the aesthetic appeal. 3D Systems is involved on campus, as they're delivering the 3D printing technology to make covers for the modules."
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Wood is great for building and heating homes, but it's the bane of biofuels. When converting plants to fuels, engineers must remove a key component of wood, known as lignin, to get to the sugary cellulose that's fermented into alcohols and other energy-rich compounds. That's costly because it normally requires high temperatures and caustic chemicals. Now, researchers in the United States and Canada have modified the lignin in poplar trees to self-destruct under mild processing conditions—a trick that could slash the cost of turning plant biomass into biofuels."
Obviously, the first performance enhancement you do on any computer you own is max out the RAM. RAM has gotten cheap, and adding more of it to almost any computer will make it faster without requiring any other modification (or any great skill). The next thing you need to do, says Larry O'Connor, the founder and CEO of Other World Computing (OWC), is move from a "platter" hard drive to a Solid State Drive (SSD). Larry's horse in this race is that his company sells SSDs, mostly for Macs. But he's a real evangelist about SSDs and computer mods in general, even if you buy them from NewEgg, Amazon or another vendor.
A big (vendor-neutral) thing Larry points out is that just because you have a Terabyte drive in your computer now doesn't mean you need a Terabyte SSD, which can easily cost $500. Rather, he says, all you need is a large enough SSD to contain your OS and software and whatever data you're working with at the moment, so you might be able to get by with a 120 GB SSD that costs well under $100. Clone your current main drive, stick in the new SSD, and if your need more storage, get another hard drive (or use your old one). Simple. Efficient. And a lot cheaper than buying a new computer, whether we're talking about home, business or even enterprise use. (Alternate video link.)
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "The single-celled organism slime mold, or Physarum polycephalum, is an extraordinary creature. It explores its world by extending protoplasmic tubes into its surroundings in search of food and it does this rather well. Various researchers have exploited this process to show how Physarum can find optimal routes between different places and even solve mazes. Now one researcher has worked out how to use these protoplasmic tubes as clock-like electronic oscillators. His experiment was straightforward. He encouraged the growth of protoplasmic tubes between two blobs of agar sitting on electrical contacts. He then measured the resistance of the tubes at various voltages. This turns out to be about 6 megaohms. But the results show something else too: that the resistance oscillates over a period of about 73 seconds. That's due to the tubes contracting as waves of calcium ions pass through them. So altering the period of oscillation should be possible by influencing the production of calcium ions, perhaps using light or biochemistry. Electronic oscillators are significant because they are basic drivers of almost all active electronic devices. But this guy's goal is bigger than this. The plan is to grow a "Physarum chip" that acts as a general purpose computer, a device that will need some kind of oscillator or clock to co-ordinate activity, just as in an ordinary processor, although speed will not be its chief characteristic."
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Amazon is serious about conquering the living room: the online retailer has launched Fire TV, a set-top box that not only allows viewers to stream content, but also play games. That streaming-and-gaming capability makes Amazon a threat to Apple, which rumors suggest is hard at work on an Apple TV capable of doing the same things. In addition, Fire TV puts the screws to other streaming hardware, including Roku and Google's Chromecast, as well as smaller game consoles such as Ouya (a $99, Android-based device). Much of Amazon's competitive muscle comes from its willingness to sell hardware for cheap (the Fire TV retails for $99) on the expectation that owners will use it to stream and download digital content from Amazon, including television shows and apps. Those developers who've developed Android games have an advantage when it comes to migrating software to Amazon's new platform. "Porting You Don't Know Jack was really like developing for Android, with the exception of the store and the new controller library," Jackbox Games Designer/Director Steve Heinrich told Gamasutra after the Fire TV announcement. "The store itself is the same as the Kindle version, which we've used many times now, and the way the controller works is very close to what we did for Ouya." While Fire TV could represent yet another opportunity for game developers looking to make a buck, it also raises a pressing question: with so many platforms out there (iOS, PC, etc.), how's an indie developer or smaller firm supposed to allocate time and resources to best advantage?"
First time accepted submitter ogcricket (3557713) writes with news about a new laptop designed by Andrew Huang and Sean Cross. "Earlier this year, the two Singapore-based engineers fashioned a laptop made almost entirely from open source hardware, hardware whose designs are freely available to the world at large. They called it Project Novena. Anyone could review the designs, looking for bugs and security flaws, and at least in theory, that meant you could be confident the machine was secure from top to bottom, something that’s more desirable than ever in the post-Edward Snowden age....The original idea was simply to encourage others to build their own open source laptops at home. But now the pair are taking the project a step further. Starting today, you can order your own pre-built Novena laptop through the crowd-funding site Crowd Supply, and it will ship out in the coming weeks. Much like Kickstarter, Crowd Supply is place where you can put up money to help fund a company and then get a product in exchange."
Lucas123 writes: "A presentation released today by Intel revealed images of the USB 3.1 Type-C cable and connectors, which is symmetrical and will no longer require a user to correctly orient the plug. Initially, the USB 3.1 Type-C specification will support up to 10Gbps data transfer speeds. The Type-C connectors resemble those of Apple's Thunderbolt cabling in that they are much smaller than today's USB SuperSpeed connectors. The receptacle opening is 8.3mm x 2.5mm.The first iteration will have a 5 volt power transfer rate, but it is expected to deliver up to 100 watts for higher power applications in the future."
Today Amazon launched 'Fire TV,' a new video streaming box designed to compete with devices like the Roku and Apple TV. The Fire TV runs Android on a quad-core Qualcomm 1.7 GHz processor with 8GB of internal storage and 2GB of RAM. It supports 1080p video output at 60fps and measures 4.5" x 4.5" x 0.7". The Fire TV is also explicitly designed to support gaming, and Amazon has concurrently launched their own game controller. The Fire TV's remote control includes a microphone and a button that lets you search TV show and movies by voice.
jones_supa (887896) writes "Wanting to focus their efforts on their most important strategic initiatives and ensuring that the company is not spread too thin, Canonical is shutting down Ubuntu One file services. With other services now regularly offering from 25 GB to 50 GB of free storage, the personal cloud storage space wasn't a sustainable place for Canonical. As of today, it will no longer be possible to purchase storage or music from the Ubuntu One store. The Ubuntu One software will not be included in the upcoming Ubuntu 14.04 LTS release, and the Ubuntu One apps in older versions of Ubuntu and in the Ubuntu, Google, and Apple stores will be updated appropriately.
The current services will be unavailable from 1 June 2014; user content will remain available for download until 31 July, at which time it will be deleted. For a spark of solace, the company promises to open source the backend code."
mdsolar (1045926) writes with this bit of news about the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant shutdown. From the article: "On Friday, the Vermont Public Service Board voted to authorize Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc., the operators of the Vermont Yankee electricity generating station ..., to close down their nuclear power plant by the end of this year. Because Entergy planned to shut the Vermont nuclear plant down prior to its licensed end-term, the board was required to approve the shutdown....
Entergy has reserved just over $600 million to date for decommissioning the Vermont nuclear plant, according to the Department of Public Service. This amount will not be adequate to meet the costs of full deconstruction, estimated at more than $1 billion according to the company's 2012 Decommissioning Cost Analysis report."
concertina226 (2447056) writes with this excerpt from IBTimes: "Apple has been granted a patent for interchangeable camera lenses — which could be used on the up-coming iPhone 6. The application was granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office in remarkably quick time, according to Patently Apple. Patent No. 8,687,299 has been granted to Apple today for 'Bayonet attachment mechanisms,' i.e. a bayonet mount that is able to securely attach lenses to an iOS device, such as an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. A bayonet mount is a fastening mechanism which is typically seen on cameras, used to attach lenses to the camera body. At the moment, there is no adjustable camera lens system in existence for smartphones, although there are lots of third party macro lens products that consumers can buy to clip onto their smartphone."
Nemo the Magnificent (2786867) writes "A friend of mine bought a Western Digital 'MyCloud' NAS server (non-RAID) a couple of weeks ago. WD implements the cloud service through its wd2go.com site. He reports that that site is down and has been since last Wednesday. No word on when it'll be back up. The only official announcements are daily repeats of this canned posting: 'Our My Cloud and My Book Live users are experiencing intermittent issues with WD servers that enable remote access when using these products. These issues include poor transfer speeds and/or inability to connect remotely. We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience and we are working very hard to resolve these issues and resume normal service as soon as possible. We thank you for your patience and will provide updates as they are available.'"
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "Intel and CircuitCo have revealed a smaller, faster, 2nd-gen MinnowBoard open SBC based on an Atom E3800 SoC and supported by both Android 4.4 and various standard Linux OSes. The MinnowBoard Max, which will ship in Q3 starting at $99, blows past the original MinnowBoard (Slashdot video) on price, performance, and energy consumption. The 3.9 x 2.9-inch Max's $99 starting price includes a 64-bit 1.46GHz Intel Atom E3815 (Bay Trail-T) CPU, 1GB RAM and 8GB SPI flash, and coastline ports for MicroSD, Micro-HDMI, GbE, dual USB, and SATA. Unlike the original MinnowBoard, the Max provides two expansion connectors: a low-speed header, with signals similar to the Arduino's Shield connector; and a high-speed connector, which can support mSATA and mini-PCIe sockets on expansion modules, among other interfaces. Although the Max's design supports CPUs up to Intel's quad-core 1.91GHz (10W TDP) E3845, only two choices shown initially at MinnowBoard.org, with the higher-end $129 model stepping up to a 1.33GHz dual-core E3825 plus 2GB RAM.."
Orlando (12257) writes "A story on Singularity Hub reports that "Researchers at the University of Michigan, led by electrical engineer Zhaohui Zhong, have devised a way to capture the infrared spectrum without requiring the cooling that makes infrared goggles so cumbersome." The method uses graphene and could one day lead to ultra light weight infrared vision technology."
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Shortly after 2.5-inch versions of Samsung's SSD 840 EVO drives hit the market, the company prepared an array of mSATA drives featuring the same controller and NAND flash. The Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA series of drives are essentially identical to their 2.5" counterparts, save for the mSATA drives' much smaller form factor. Like their 2.5" counterparts, Samsung's mSATA 840 EVO series of drives feature an updated, triple-core Samsung MEX controller, which operates at 400MHz. The 840 EVO's MEX controller has also been updated to support the SATA 3.1 spec, which incorporates a few new features, like support for queued TRIM commands. Along with the MEX controller, all of the Samsung 840 EVO mSATA series drives feature LPDDR2-1066 DRAM cache memory. The 120GB drive sports 256MB of cache, the 250GB and 500GB drive have 512MB of cache, and the 750GB and 1TB drives have 1GB of cache. Performance-wise, SSD 840 EVO series of mSATA solid state drives performs extremely well, whether using synthetic benchmarks, trace-based tests like PCMark, or highly-compressible or incompressible data."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Nate Swammer writes at Slashgear that with Facebook's purchase of Oculus for a cool $2 billion, the fervor surrounding virtual reality headwear quickly turned to disdain. Betrayal, confusion, and anger became the order of the day for contributors who gave Oculus $2.4 million through its Kickstarter campaign. But now that passions have cooled and looking at the issues dispassionately, the Facebook acquisition may turn out much better than anticipated for users. While many may have a fervent distrust for Facebook, this deal bodes well for Oculus, and by virtue, us.
First Oculus wasn't flush, and although Oculus may have had some hustle behind it, it may not have been enough. John Carmack, Oculus CTO, said via Twitter, 'I expect the FB deal will avoid several embarrassing scaling crisis for VR.' The headwear already famously suffered from a supply chain issue not long ago, which actually stopped it dead in its tracks. Next, in their official announcement of the Facebook deal, gaming was barely a blip on the radar. It wasn't until the very end that gaming was even mentioned, with the bulk of the post discussing 'culture' and driving virtual reality forward. There was little to indicate any big titles were coming for Oculus.
The fact is, Oculus needed help. Not technical assistance, but someone who could be their Sony, more or less. John Carmack says he has 'a deep respect for the technical scale that FB operates at. The cyberspace we want for VR will be at this scale.' Perhaps Facebook isn't the most popular choice, but they are the partner Oculus chose for their future says Swammer. 'Like Google purchasing Android in 2005, it all seems so strange right now [remember this story we discussed in 2009] — but we see how that turned out. If VR really is the next frontier, Facebook just staked their claim to a big slab of land in the heart of some virtual country they'll likely let us see someday — via Oculus.""
This is a conversation with Frank Muscarello, CEO and co-founder of MarkiTx, a company that brokers used and rehabbed IT equipment. We're not talking about an iPhone 3 you might sell on craigslist, but enterprise-level items. Cisco. Oracle. IBM mainframes. Racks full of HP or Dell servers. That kind of thing. In 2013 IDC pegged the value of the used IT equipment market at $70 billion, so this is a substantial business. MarkiTx has three main bullet points: *Know what your gear is worth; *Sell with ease at a fair price; and *Buy reliable, refurbished gear. Pricing is the big deal, Frank says. With cars you have Cars.com and Kelley Blue Book. There are similar pricing services for commercial trucks, construction equipment, and nearly anything else a business or government agency might buy or sell used. For computers? Not so much. Worth Monkey calls itself "The blue book for used electronics and more," but it only seems to list popular consumer equipment. I tried looking up several popular Dell PowerEdge servers. No joy. An HTC Sensation phone or an Acer Aspire notebook? Sure. With price ranges based on condition, same as Kelley Blue Book does with cars. Now back to the big iron. A New York bank wants to buy new servers. Their old ones are fully depreciated in the tax sense, and their CTO can show stats saying they are going to suffer from decreasing reliability. So they send out for bids on new hardware. Meanwhile, there's a bank in Goa, India, that is building a server farm on a tight budget. If they can buy used servers from the New York bank, rehabbed and with a warranty, for one-third what they'd cost new, they are going to jump on this deal the same way a small earthmoving operation buys used dump trucks a multinational construction company no longer wants.
In February, 2013 Computerworld ran an article titled A new way to sell used IT equipment about MarkiTx. The main differentiator between MarkiTx and predecessor companies is that this is primarily an information company. It is not eBay, where plenty of commercial IT equipment changes hands, nor is it quite like UK-based Environmental Computer, which deals in used and scrap computer hardware. It is, rather, the vanguard of computer hardware as a commodity; as something you don't care about as long as it runs the software you need it to run, and you can buy it at a good price -- or more and more, Frank notes -- rent a little bit of its capacity in the form of a cloud service, a direction in which an increasing number of business are moving for their computing needs. Even more fun: Let's say you are (or would like to be) a local or regional computer service company and you want to buy or sell or broker a little used hardware. You could use MarkiTx's price information to set both your buy and sell prices, same as a car dealer uses Kelley Blue Book. We seem to be moving into a whole new era of computer sales and resales. MarkiTx is one company making a splash in this market. But there are others, and there are sure to be even more before long. (Alternate video link.)
trawg writes: "Programming legend Michael Abrash has announced that he has joined the Oculus team to work on the Rift VR headset as Chief Scientist, and will be once again working with John Carmack to bring VR to life. His post covers a lot of ground, including the history of his quest for VR, and ends with his explanation of why he thinks the Facebook acquisition is ultimately a good thing — they have the engineering, resources and long-term commitment 'to solve the hard problems of VR.'" Abrash has long maintained a blog about VR tech — it's worth reading if the subject matter interests you.
Daniel_Stuckey writes: "In far-flung rural Alaska, where electricity can cost as much as $1 per kilowatt hour — more than 10 times the national average, according to the New York Times — a wind turbine encased in a giant helium balloon is about to break a world record. The Bouyant Air Turbine (BAT) is about to be floated 1,000 feet into the air in the name of cleaner, cheaper, and mobile energy. That single airborne grouper—it's sort of a hybrid of a blimp, a kite, and a turbine—will power over a dozen homes. The BAT is the brainchild of Altaeros, a company founded by MIT alumni, and, if everything goes according to plan, it's going to be the highest-flying power generator in history. Since winds blow stronger and more consistently the higher above the ground you go, and the hovering BAT harnesses that gale and sends electricity down to earth through the high-strength tethers that also hold the machine steady. "
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "In a statement soon after Facebook announced the acquisition of Oculus Rift, CEO Mark Zuckerberg suggested that the bulky Oculus headset had the potential to transform VR into the "most social platform ever." Whatever his reasons for shelling out $2 billion for the company, it's clear that Facebook is now a player in the augmented-reality space, which Google is also exploring in its own way. Yes, Google Glass serves a different function—overlaying maps and text over the wearer's view of the real world, rather than immersing people in a virtual environment—but the potential customer base for both devices is basically the same, and now Google has some real competition if it wants to transform Glass into some sort of gaming device. And despite some blowback from Markus Persson, it's likely that developers will continue to explore Oculus as a gaming platform, Facebook or no. Zuckerberg might be talking a good game about virtual realities far into the future (does he have to pay to promote his own posts on Facebook? Joke.), but this acquisition was likely a short-term play, as well."
An anonymous reader writes "After hiring the lead Btrfs developers and Linux kernel block maintainers last year, Facebook is beginning trial deployments of Btrfs. Facebook will start using the next-generation file-system within their web-tier and they will be among the first major public deployments of Btrfs."
wiredmikey writes: "Russian government officials have swapped their iPads for Samsung tablets to ensure tighter security, the telecoms minister told news agencies on Wednesday. Journalists spotted that ministers at a cabinet meeting were no longer using Apple tablets, and minister Nikolai Nikiforov confirmed the changeover "took place not so long ago." He said the ministers' new Samsungs were "specially protected devices that can be used to work with confidential information." This isn't the first time Russian powers have had concerns over mobile. In August 2012, Russia unveiled a prototype tablet with its own "almost Android" mobile OS that has the remarkably familiar feel of an Android but with bolstered encryption. In an even more paranoid move, this past July a Russian state service in charge of safeguarding Kremlin communications was looking to purchase an array of old-fashioned typewriters to prevent leaks from computer hardware."
An anonymous reader writes: "Mining new Bitcoins is computationally expensive — you can't expect to do much on your standard home computer. Many miners have built custom rigs to mine more efficiently, but it was only a matter of time until somebody went industrial. Dave Carlson's goal is to mine 10% of all new Bitcoins from now on. He's built literally thousands of units. They collectively use 1.4 million BitFury mining chips, which are managed by a bunch of Raspberry Pis. 'The current rigs each contain 16 boards, with each board containing 16 BitFury chips, for a total of 256 mining chips on each rig. Carlson said about 90,000 processor boards have been deployed, which would put the number of rigs at about 5,600. A new board [being designed] will have 756 chips on each rig instead of 256.' Carlson says his company spent $3-5 million to get everything set up. They current generate 7,000 — 8,000 Bitcoins per month, which, at current rates, would be worth over $4 million."
MojoKid (1002251) writes "NVIDIA's 2014 GTC (GPU Technology Conference) kicked off today in San Jose California, with NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang offering up a healthy dose of new information on next generation NVIDIA GPU technologies. Two new NVIDIA innovations will be employed in their next-gen GPU technology, now know by its code named 'Pascal." First, there's a new serial interconnect known as NVLink for GPU-to-CPU and GPU-to-GPU communication. Though details were sparse, apparently NVLink is a serial interconnect that employs differential signaling with embedded clock and it allows for unified memory architectures and eventually cache coherency. It's similar to PCI Express in terms of command set and programming model but NVLink will offer a massive 5 — 12X boost in bandwidth up to 80GB/sec.
The second technology to power NVIDIA's forthcoming Pascal GPU is 3D stacked DRAM technology.The technique employs through-silicon vias that allow the ability to stack DRAM die on top of each other and thus provide much more density in the same PCB footprint for the DRAM package. Jen-Hsun also used his opening keynote to show off NVIDIA's most powerful graphics card to date, the absolutely monstrous GeForce GTX Titan Z. The upcoming GeForce GTX Titan Z is powered by a pair of GK110 GPUs, the same chips that power the GeForce GTX Titan Black and GTX 780 Ti. All told, the card features 5,760 CUDA cores (2,880 per GPU) and 12GB of frame buffer memory—6GB per GPU. NVIDIA also said that the Titan Z's GPUs are tuned to run at the same clock speed, and feature dynamic power balancing so neither GPU creates a performance bottleneck."
An anonymous reader writes "An article at FiveThirtyEight looks at the likelihood of various occupations being replaced by automation. It mentions President Obama's proposed increase to the federal minimum wage, saying big leaps in automation could reshape that debate. '[The wage increase] from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour could make it worthwhile for employers to adopt emerging technologies to do the work of their low-wage workers. But can a robot really do a janitor's job? Can software fully replace a fast-food worker? Economists have long considered these low-skilled, non-routine jobs as less vulnerable to technological replacement, but until now, quantitative estimates of a job's vulnerability have been missing from the debate.' Many minimum-wage jobs are reportedly at high risk, including restaurant workers, cashiers, and telemarketers. A study rated the probability of computerization within 20 years (PDF): 92% for retail salespeople, 97% for cashiers, and 94% for waitstaff. There are other jobs with a high likelihood, but they employ fewer people and generally have a higher pay rate: tax preparers (99%), freight workers (99%), and legal secretaries (98%)."
An anonymous reader writes: "Scientists at the Nanyang Technological University have developed a solar cell that not only converts sunlight into electricity but also emits light as electricity passes through it. Tuning the composition of the solar cell enables it to emit different wavelengths of light (abstract), and because it is only about 1 micrometer thick, the material is semi-translucent and therefore could potentially be used in windows. The solar cell is comprised of the semiconducting mineral perovskite, which has been studied as a replacement for silicon in solar panels since 2009. Perovskite solar cells are not yet as efficient at energy conversion as silicon solar cells, but gains in this area of development coupled with cheaper manufacturing costs (10-20 cents per watt projected as opposed to 75 cents per watt with silicon solar panels and 50 cents per watt with fossil fuels) make perovskite a popular subject matter in the solar cell industry."
Lemeowski (3017099) writes "In a time where there's a 'gold rush' for 3D printing patents, there's one company that's doing everything it can to keep its 3D printers as open as possible. Jeff Moe, CEO of Aleph Objects, said in an interview with Opensource.com that his company's strategy is 'to not patent anything, but to establish prior art as soon as we can. So when we develop things we try to push it out there as soon as possible and hope to establish prior art if there isn't prior art already. That allows us to develop a lot more quickly.' The company makes the Lulzbot 3D printers, and goes to the extreme of publishing every last detail about its printers, Moe said, including syncing its internal file system that it uses to share files on the development of the machine to the public every hour so you can see what they're doing."
sfcrazy (1542989) writes with news that fancier Google Glasswear is coming soon "Google has signed a deal with The Luxottica Group, the world's largest eyewear company (controlling 80% of the eyewear market). Luxottica owns Ray-Ban, Oakley, Vogue-Eyewear, Persol, Oliver Peoples, Alain Mikli, and Arnette. The deal shows how serious Google is about Glass, contrary to the skepticism raised by high-profiled users like Robert Scoble who spelled doom for the device."
First time accepted submitter mandark1967 (630856) writes "With recent advances in working with different filaments (Wood filament, Nylon, etc) and price drops seen lately, I'm curious to know how many of you have decided to take the plung and get into 3D Printing. There are several kits available now or even assembled units that are in the same cost range as a 'gamer' video card (DaVinci 1.0 for $499, Printrbot Simple 2014 — $399, 3d Stuffmaker — $499).
I'm wondering if any of you have purchased a 3D printer and how you like it so far. I've been in the computer field since the 80's but never did CAD work before so I was very hesitant to take the plunge, fearing the steep learning curve of mastering programs like Blender or AutoCAD. What I found, however, was programs like TinkerCAD and 123Design made it very easy to learn basic CAD so I decided to pick up a 3D Printer last week. After a week or so of design work and printing out many items, I think I've picked up a few skills and I can actually see myself making a little money on the side creating and selling items. I don't think I'd trade my current job for one designing and printing items, but it is nice to have a little income on the side if I choose to do that."
SmartAboutThings (1951032) writes "Microsoft launched the Surface Pro 2 tablet in October 2013 with several hardware upgrades, like the new 1.6GHz Core i5-4200U processor specifically optimized for longer battery life and increased performance. Three months later, Microsoft decided to upgrade the CPU with a 1.9GHz Core i5-4300U unit that would be capable of taking these improvements even further. Although Redmond kept quiet about the improvement, tech savvy buyers were aware of the change. Now, according to some new reports, it seems that the company is still shipping the old models to buyers, despite the fact that Microsoft promised to deliver only upgraded models featuring the new CPU."
As reported by Beta News, Google has tried to answer some of the criticism that its Glass head-mounted system has inspired with a blog post outlining and explaining what it calls 10 "myths" about the system. Google's explanation probably won't change many minds, but in just a few years the need to defend head-worn input/output devices might seem quaint and backwards.
An anonymous reader writes "AMD privately shared with Phoronix during GDC2014 that they're developing a new Linux driver model. While there will still be an open (Gallium3D) and closed-source (Catalyst) driver, the Catalyst driver will be much smaller. AMD developers are trying to isolate the closed-source portion of the driver to just user-space while the kernel driver that's in the mainline Linux kernel would also be used by Catalyst. It's not clear if this will ultimately work but they hope it will for reducing code duplication, eliminating fragmentation with different kernels, and allowing open and closed-source driver developers to better collaborate over the AMD Radeon Linux kernel driver."
itwbennett (1594911) writes "Oppo Electronics has taken off the wraps on its first LTE phone, and it packs more technology than most if not all laptops. The Find 7 is a 5.5" phone and is the first to support 2560 x 1440 resolution [538 PPI] (by comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S5 has 441 PPI). 'Another striking and unique feature of the phone is its 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor,' writes blogger Andy Patrizio. 'This is Qualcomm's first chip to feature its Gobi True 4G LTE World Mode, supporting LTE FDD, LTE TDD, WCDMA, CDMA1x, EV-DO, TD-SCDMA and GSM4. Translation: this phone will work on LTE all over the world.'"
Actually, I do RTFA writes "We recently heard about the confiscation of a delivery of multimeters to SparkFun for infringing on Fluke's trademark. One common thread in the discussions was the theme that Fluke should have let that shipment through as a goodwill gesture to SparkFun and the Maker community. Well, Fluke did one better. They announced they were sending more than $30k worth of official multimeters to SparkFun for them to do whatever they want with. SparkFun is most likely going to give them away. A great example of win-win-win?"
An anonymous reader writes "A new history of splitscreen multiplayer looks at how the phenomenon went from arcade necessity to console selling point, and eventually evolved into today's online multiplayer networks like Xbox Live. The article digs up some surprising anecdotes along the way — like the fact that the seminal Goldeneye N64 deathmatch mode was very much an afterthought, given to a trainee who needed something to do. It's also interesting to think about where it's going in the future, with 4k displays on the horizon and handheld screens making inroads to living room gaming. 'I think you’ll see innovations this year that let people use their TV and mobile device in very interesting ways,' says Wipeout creator Nick Burcombe. 'It doesn't even need to be complex to recapture that social aspect – it just needs to involve more than one person in the same room. ‘Second Screen’ gaming could be multiplayer-based for sure, but it can also be used for new gameplay mechanics in single player too.'"
Zothecula (1870348) writes "Could it one day be possible to generate electricity from the loss of heat from Earth to outer space? A group of Harvard engineers believe so and have theorized something of a reverse photovoltaic cell to do just this. The key is using the flow of energy away from our planet to generate voltage, rather than using incoming energy as in existing solar technologies."
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Intel used the backdrop of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco to make a handful of interesting announcements that run the gamut from low-power technologies to ultra-high-end desktop chips. In addition to outing a number of upcoming processors—from an Anniversary Edition Pentium to a monster 8-core Haswell-E — Intel also announced a new technology dubbed Ready Mode. Intel's Ready Mode essentially allows a 4th Gen Core processor to enter a low C7 power state, while the OS and other system components remain connected and ready for action. Intel demoed the technology, and along with compatible third party applications and utilities, showed how Ready Mode can allow a mobile device to automatically sync to a PC to download and store photos. The PC could also remain in a low power state and stream media, server up files remotely, or receive VOIP calls. Also, in a move that's sure to get enthusiasts excited, Intel revealed details regarding Haswell-E. Similar to Ivy Bridge-E and Sandy Bridge-E, Haswell-E is the 'extreme' variant of the company's Haswell microarchitecture. Haswell-E Core i7-based processors will be outfitted with up to eight processor cores, which will remain largely unchanged from current Haswell-based chips. However, the new CPU will connect to high-speed DDR4 memory and will be paired to the upcoming Intel X99 chipset. Other details were scarce, but you can bet that Haswell-E will be Intel's fastest desktop processor to date when it arrives sometime in the second half of 2014. Intel also gave a quick nod to their upcoming 14nm Broadwell CPU architecture, a follow-on to Haswell. Broadwell will be the first Intel desktop processor to feature integrated Iris Pro Graphics and will also be compatible with Intel Series 9 chipsets."
kc123 writes "The UK government has announced plans to create the Alan Turing Institute intended to tackle problems in Big Data. The government will provide £42m over five years for the project. Turing was a pivotal figure in mathematics and computing. His codebreaking work led to the cracking of the German 'Enigma' codes. In December 2013, after a series of public campaigns, Turing received a posthumous royal pardon, for a conviction of homosexual activity in 1952."
An anonymous reader writes "OpenSUSE has shared features coming to their 13.2 release in November. The big feature is using Btrfs by default instead of EXT4. OpenSUSE is committed to Btrfs and, surprisingly, they are the first major Linux distribution to use it by default. But then again, they were also big ReiserFS fans. Other planned OpenSUSE 13.2 features are Wayland 1.4, KDE Frameworks 5, and a new Qt5 front-end to YaST."
An anonymous reader writes "Today at GDC Oculus has revealed the second developer kit of their virtual reality headset, the Oculus Rift DK2. The new unit has a 1080p OLED screen with low-persistence capabilities, positional tracking thanks to an IR LED array and compatible camera, and a bunch of other improvements over the DK1. Pre-orders start today for $350 and are expected to ship in July." The new model also eliminates the control box and adds a powered USB port. The experience is much better than the DK1 model according to the article: "The image is substantially sharper in the DK2 when moving your head, mostly thanks to low-persistence. I swear I could feel the difference between the DK1 and DK2 on my eyes. It’s hard to describe, but where the DK1 feels like looking through binoculars into another world, the DK2 feels like sticking your head out the window into another world. That’s not to say that the field of view is higher, but there’s something far more comfortable about using the DK2."
SternisheFan sends this news from CTV: "The Cubestormer 3 took 18 months to build but only needed 3.253 seconds to solve [a Rubik's cube], breaking the existing record. Unveiled at the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham, U.K., the Cubestormer 3 is constructed from the modular children's building-block toy but uses a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone with a special ARM chip addition as its brain. It analyzes the muddled-up Rubik's Cube and powers each of the robot's four 'hands,' which spin the cube until all sides are in order. Created by ARM engineer David Gilday and Securi-Plex security systems engineer Mike Dobson, Cubestormer 3's new record shaves just over two seconds off the existing record, set by Cubestormer 2, which the pair also built."
An anonymous reader writes "Sony has announced 'Project Morpheus,' their project to develop a virtual reality headset for use with the PlayStation 4. 'Using a combination of Sony's own hardware, combining personal video viewers with PlayStation Move controllers, PlayStation engineers experimented with multiple prototypes.' They've been working on it for over three years — here's a picture of the current incarnation. The headset will use 3D audio tech that changes as players move their heads. One of their big goals is to make it extremely simple to use. They intend the display to be 1080p with a 90-degree field of view."
concertina226 writes "There's less than a month to go before Samsung launches its new flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone worldwide on 11 April, and the new device has still not gone into mass production due to camera module manufacturing problems. The 16 megapixel camera module consists of six plastic pieces, one more piece than in the existing 13 megapixel camera modules in the Galaxy S4. The problem that Samsung is having is that even though the number of plastic pieces has gone up, the thickness of each piece has remained the same, so in order to fit the new camera module into the Galaxy S5, the lens makers will likely have to develop new technology to make thinner lenses. Not only that, joining six pieces together instead of five for the 13 megapixel camera modules increases the risk of optical faults surfacing at the lens manufacturers' plants dramatically."
An anonymous reader writes "My colleague at IEEE Spectrum, Eliza Strickland, looked at the home transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) movement. People looking to boost creativity, or cure depression, are attaching electrodes to their heads using either DIT equipment or rigs from vendors like Foc.us. Advocates believe experimenting with the tech is safe, but a neuroscientist worries about removing the tech from lab safeguards..."
judgecorp writes "A €2.9 million European Commission funded project aims to make data centers more efficient, and one of its ideas is to use second hand car batteries to power data centers. The GreenDataNet consortium includes Nissan, which predicts a glut of still-usable second hand car batteries in around 15 years, when the cars start to wear out. Gathered into large units, these could store enough power to help with the big problem of the electricity grid — the mismatch between local renewable generation cycles and the peaks of demand for power."
An anonymous reader writes "Last year Valve announced a new game controller that was trying to innovate on the designs that have been with us for over a decade now. The biggest changes were replacing analog sticks with circular touchpads and plopping a small touchscreen into the middle of the controller. Valve has now revamped their prototype hardware, and the touchscreen is nowhere to be seen. In its place are stop/play buttons (which appear similar to start/select buttons) and a bigger Steam logo button. They've also moved around the directional and ABXY buttons, reverting to a more traditional layout (picture). They'll be demonstrating the latest prototype next week at GDC."
An anonymous reader writes "Smithsonian Magazine has an article about one of the non-obvious effects of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown: dead organisms are not decomposing correctly. 'According to a new study (abstract) published in Oecologia, decomposers—organisms such as microbes, fungi and some types of insects that drive the process of decay—have also suffered from the contamination. These creatures are responsible for an essential component of any ecosystem: recycling organic matter back into the soil. Issues with such a basic-level process, the authors of the study think, could have compounding effects for the entire ecosystem.' The scientists took bags of fallen leaves to various areas around Chernobyl and found that locations with more radiation caused the leaves to retain more than half of their original weight after almost a year. They're now beginning to worry that almost three decades of dead brush buildup is contributing to the area's fire risk, and a large fire could distribute radioactive material beyond Chernobyl's exclusion zone."