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Lucas123 (935744) writes "Sony has warned investors that it expects to take a hit on expected earnings (PDF), due in part to the fact that demand for Blu-ray Disc media is contracting faster than anticipated. In two weeks, Sony will announce its financial results. The company expects to post a net loss. Sony's warning is in line with other industry indicators, such as a report released earlier this year by Generator Research showed revenue from DVD and Blu-ray sales will likely decrease by 38% over the next four years. By comparison, online movie revenue is expected to grow 260% from $3.5 billion this year to $12.7 billion in 2018, the report states. Paul Gray, director of TV Electronics & Europe TV Research at market research firm DisplaySearch, said consumers are now accustomed to the instant availability of online media, and 'the idea of buying a physical copy seems quaint if you're under 25.'" Especially when those copies come with awful DRM.
Lasrick (2629253) writes "With the news that a multinational consortium is to the halfway point in constructing a huge stainless steel hangar that will sit over the ruined site of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, Dan Drollette looks in the archives of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and compares notes on the sarcophagus that was built 25 years ago, and the one that is being built now. 'No one really knows what went into the "concrete cube;" even the amount of concrete claimed to have been used is suspect, as it would form a volume larger than the sarcophagus, wrote nuclear engineer and author Alexander R. Sich in his 11-page article, "Truth was an early casualty."' Let's hope this new sarcophagus lasts longer."
crookedvulture (1866146) writes "AMD just revealed that it has two all-new CPU cores in the works. One will be compatible with the 64-bit ARMv8 instruction set, while the other is meant as an x86 replacement for the Bulldozer architecture and its descendants. Both cores have been designed from the ground up by a team led by Jim Keller, the lead architect behind AMD's K8 architecture. Keller worked at Apple on the A4 and A4 before returning to AMD in 2012. The first chips based on the new AMD cores are due in 2016."
rye (208438) writes "Montana is positioning itself as the next hub for big data and cyber security. With companies like Symantec and IBM investing heavily in high-tech development, the opening of University of Montana's new Cyber Innovation Laboratory, and statewide competitions such as this weekend's Montana Cyber Triathlon (which had the coolest trophy ever), the momentum is strong. Cheap labor, cheap space and the Northern Tier backbone (with stretches over 600 miles across the width of Montana) are all contributing to the new tech growth. Even Congress is jumping on the bandwagon: Montana Rep. Steve Daines, a member of the House Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security, recently said 'Technology has removed geography as a constant.'"
New submitter postglock (917809) writes "Swype is a popular third-party keyboard for Android phones (and also available for Windows phones and other platforms). It's currently the second-most-popular paid keyboard in Google Play (behind SwiftKey), and the 17th highest of all paid apps. Recently, users have discovered that it's been accessing location data extremely frequently, making almost 4000 requests per day, or 2.5 requests per minute. The developers claim that this is to facilitate implementation of 'regional dialects,' but cannot explain why such frequent polling is required, or why this still occurs if the regional function is disabled. Some custom ROMs such as Cyanogenmod can block this tracking, but most users would be unaware that such tracking is even occurring." Readers in the linked thread don't all seem to see the same thing; if you are a Swype user, do you see thousands of location requests, none, or something in between?
Iddo Genuth (903542) writes "Photographer and videographer Alec Weinstein was in the market for a new smartphone. He realized that the new Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Note 3 both have 4K video recording capabilities and decided to compare those to his 1080p 5D MKIII pro DSLR camera – the results are extremely interesting — Can you tell the difference between a Canon 5D MKIII shooting 1080p video and a Samsung Galaxy Note III smartphone shooting 4K video?"
stkpogo (799773) writes "I have several old VHS tapes that I'd like to digitize but my old VHS machine died years ago. What's a good VHS player to get so I can make nice clean digital videos from my old tapes before they're gone? I have a few TV -> USB adapters." How would you go about this, especially with tapes (like old home movies) you might be worried about sticking into a low-end VCR? And with what number of tapes does it make sense to outsource the digitizing?
Lucas123 (935744) writes "SanDisk has announced what it's calling the world's highest capacity 2.5-in SAS SSD, the 4TB Optimus MAX line. The flash drive uses eMLC (enterprise multi-level cell) NAND built with 19nm process technology. The company said it plans on doubling the capacity of its SAS SSDs every one to two years and expects to release an 8TB model next year, dwarfing anything hard disk drives can ever offer over the same amount of time. he Optimus MAX SAS SSD is capable of up to 400 MBps sequential reads and writes and up to 75,000 random I/Os per second (IOPS) for both reads and writes, the company said."
jfruh (300774) writes "Who says tape storage is out of date? Sony researchers have announced a breakthrough in magnetic tape tech that increases the data density per square inch by a factor of 74. The result could be 185 TB tape cartridges. 'By comparison, LTO-6 (Linear Tape-Open), the latest generation of magnetic tape storage, has a density of 2 gigabits per square inch, or 2.5 TB per cartridge uncompressed.'"
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Jeffrey Katzenberg, the head of Dreamworks Animation, speaking at the Milken Global Conference in California, opined that the future pricing model for movie downloads will revolve around screen size. In his view, larger screens will incur larger download prices. As he says, 'It will reinvent the enterprise of movies.' Unclear is how physical dimensions, rather than just resolution matrix, will be determined. Will we soon be saying 'hello' to screen spoofing?" Can you fake the physical dimensions reported in the EDID block when the connection is using HDCP? Aside from the implication that this would mean more DRM (and seems pretty unworkable, but with the rise of locked bootloaders on even x86 hardware...), the prices he predicts seem alright: "A movie screen will be $15. A 75-inch TV will be $4. A smartphone will be $1.99."
An anonymous reader writes "Red Hat announced their pending acquisition of Inktank this morning. Sage Weil and a team of researchers at University of California Santa Cruz first published the architecture in 2007. Sage joined DreamHost after college and continued development on Ceph until DreamHost spun off a Inktank, a company focused solely on Ceph. In Sage's blog post on the acquisition, he says 'In particular, joining forces with the Red Hat team will improve our ability to address problems at all layers of the storage stack, including in the kernel.' Sage goes on to announce that Inktank's proprietary management tools for Ceph will now be open sourced, citing Red Hat's pure open source development and business models.
Ceph has seen wide adoption in OpenStack customer deployments, alongside Red Hat's existing Gluster system." Ceph looks pretty cool if you're doing serious storage: CERN has a 3 Petabyte "prototype" cluster in use now (Only tangentially related, but still interesting, is how CERN does storage in general).
An anonymous reader writes "Virtual reality tech is getting a ton of attention for what it can do to video games. But the technology itself isn't limited to games — just as Kinect was hijacked and used for myriad other purposes, so will VR be broadly adapted. This article goes into some of the applications: 'An elderly woman in a retirement home recently used an Oculus to explore a garden and walk stairs again. This simple environment brought her to tears. Work is also being done to help PTSD sufferers deal with their trauma by replicating the scene within virtual reality and there is great interest in using a similar approach for other conditions like amnesia, Alzheimer's and dementia. ... It's now possible for museum spaces and schools to teleport students to specific moments in history, to allow them to experience being executed by a guillotine, take tours of space or even explore the depths of the ocean.' What other VR uses can you foresee?"
An anonymous reader writes "After many years I now have a backup of all my digital data in (at least) two physical locations. But what do people recommend to back up my physical data? And then how to prove my identity? I call it the 'gas leak problem,' because a gas leak in my town caused an explosion that leveled a house. If it had been my house, it would have destroyed all my paperwork that proves who I am. If I'd come home from work and found my house was now a pile of rubble, how would I prove I lived there, knowing my key no longer fits the smoldering lock? If I'd left my wallet at home, my bank cards would have been destroyed so I couldn't withdraw money or book into a hotel. Or if I'd left my phone at the office, I wouldn't know anyone's number to call, or get anyone to vouch for me. What preventative steps can you take? Since having this nightmare, I've exported my phone's VCF file to an online repo, made online notes of all my bank account numbers and passport ID, I keep ICE numbers with me at all times (separate from phone/wallet), and I've hidden a spare mobile phone and house key in a box in a nearby field. But there must be more to do!"
An anonymous reader writes "Ars has reviewed an AMD-powered mini gaming rig made by Gigabyte. The box itself is small and solid, and it runs a pretty beefy video card for its size. The manufacturer even claims Linux support, though the device ships with Windows 8.1. Unfortunately, reality lags a bit behind their plans — Ubuntu boots OK, but driver support is a mess. SteamOS won't run at all. The box is also limited by a mediocre CPU, which is itself limited by heat and power constraints. The review says the machine was 'intriguing and frustrating in equal measure' because 'its ambition is rarely matched by its execution.' It concludes: 'With some time and some different components, a little desktop that can deliver a great gaming experience will surely follow.'"
Lasrick writes: "This article takes a look at cost estimates of nuclear power plant decommissioning from the 1980s, and how widely inaccurate they turned out to be. This is a pretty fascinating look at past articles in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that consistently downplayed the costs of decommissioning, for example: 'The Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Rowe, Massachusetts, took 15 years to decommission—or five times longer than was needed to build it. And decommissioning the plant—constructed early in the 1960s for $39 million—cost $608 million. The plant's spent fuel rods are still stored in a facility on-site, because there is no permanent disposal repository to put them in. To monitor them and make sure the material does not fall into the hands of terrorists or spill into the nearby river costs $8 million per year.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Sean Gallagher writes that the government built facilities for the Minuteman missiles in the 1960s and 1970s and although the missiles have been upgraded numerous times to make them safer and more reliable, the bases themselves haven't changed much and there isn't a lot of incentive to upgrade them. ICBM forces commander Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein told Leslie Stahl from "60 Minutes" that the bases have extremely tight IT and cyber security, because they're not Internet-connected and they use such old hardware and software. "A few years ago we did a complete analysis of our entire network," says Weinstein. "Cyber engineers found out that the system is extremely safe and extremely secure in the way it's developed." While on the base, missileers showed Stahl the 8-inch floppy disks, marked "Top Secret," which is used with the computer that handles what was once called the Strategic Air Command Digital Network (SACDIN), a communication system that delivers launch commands to US missile forces. Later, in an interview with Weinstein, Stahl described the disk she was shown as "gigantic," and said she had never seen one that big. Weinstein explained, "Those older systems provide us some, I will say, huge safety, when it comes to some cyber issues that we currently have in the world.""
MojoKid (1002251) writes "AMD has just announced their upcoming mainstream, low-power APUs (Accelerated Processing Units), codenames Beema and Mullins. These APUs are the successors to last year's Temash and Kabini APUs, which powered an array of small form factor and mobile platforms. Beema and Mullins are based on the same piece of silicon, but will target different market segments. Beema is the mainstream part that will find its way into affordable notebook, small form factor systems, and mobile devices. Mullins, however, is a much lower-power derivative, designed for tablets and convertible systems. They are full SoCs with on-die memory controllers, PCI Express, SATA, and USB connectivity, and a host of other IO blocks. AMD is announcing four Beema-based mainstream APUs today, with TDPs ranging from 10W – 15W. There are three Mullins-based products being announced, two quad-cores and a dual-core. The top of the line-up is the A10 Micro-6700T. It's a quad-core chip, with a max clock speed of 2.2GHz, 2MB of L2, and a TDP of only 4.5W. In the benchmarks, the A10-6700T quad core is actually able to surpass Intel's Bay Trail Atom platform pretty easily across a number of tests, especially gaming and graphics."
mdsolar (1045926) writes with news that funding for the mPower, a Small Modular [Nuclear] Reactor, has been cut due to the inability to find investors interested in building a prototype. From the article: "The pullback represents a major blow to the development of SMRs, which have been hailed as the next step forward for the nuclear power industry. ... All told, B&W, the DOE, and partners have spent around $400 million on the mPower program. Another $600 million was needed just to get the technology ready for application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for licensing. ... B&W plans to continue low-level R&D on the mPower technology with a view to commercial deployment in the mid-2020s, said CEO James Ferland. But without a major shift in the business environment and in investor perceptions of the risks and rewards associated with nuclear power, that seems fanciful."
Hallie Siegel (2973169) writes in with news of a robotic competition with some serious goals. "Dr. Alaa Khamis writes: 'Detection and removal of antipersonnel landmines is, at present, a serious problem of political, economical, environmental and humanitarian dimensions in many countries across the world. It is estimated that there are 110 million landmines in the ground right now; one for every 52 inhabitants on the planet. These mines kill or maim more than 5,000 people annually. If demining efforts remain about the same as they are now, and no new mines are laid, it will still take 1100 years to get rid of all the world's active land mines because current conventional methods of removal are very slow, inefficient, dangerous and costly. Robotic systems can provide efficient, reliable, adaptive and cost effective solutions for the problem of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination. Minesweepers: Towards a Landmine-free World was initiated in 2012 as the first international outdoor robotic competition on humanitarian demining by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society – Egypt Chapter, which won the Chapter of the Year Award in IEEE Region 8 that year. It aims to raise public awareness of the seriousness of landmines and UXO contamination and the role of science and technology in addressing these; it also aims to foster robotics research in the area of humanitarian demining by motivating professors, engineers and students to work on innovative solutions for this serious problem."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "The NYT writes in an editorial that for the last few months, the Koch brothers and their conservative allies in state government have been spending heavily to fight incentives for renewable energy, by pushing legislatures to impose a surtax on this increasingly popular practice, hoping to make installing solar panels on houses less attractive. 'The coal producers' motivation is clear: They see solar and wind energy as a long-term threat to their businesses. That might seem distant at the moment, when nearly 40 percent of the nation's electricity is still generated by coal, and when less than 1 percent of power customers have solar arrays. But given new regulations on power-plant emissions of mercury and other pollutants, and the urgent need to reduce global warming emissions, the future clearly lies with renewable energy.' For example, the Arizona Public Service Company, the state's largest utility, funneled large sums through a Koch operative to a nonprofit group that ran an ad claiming net metering would hurt older people on fixed incomes (video) by raising electric rates. The ad tried to link the requirement to President Obama. Another Koch ad likens the renewable-energy requirement to health care reform, the ultimate insult in that world. 'Like Obamacare, it's another government mandate we can't afford,' the narrator says. 'That line might appeal to Tea Partiers, but it's deliberately misleading,' concludes the editorial. 'This campaign is really about the profits of Koch Carbon and the utilities, which to its organizers is much more important than clean air and the consequences of climate change.'"
Lasrick (2629253) writes "As part of a roundtable on the risks of developing nuclear power in developing countries, Harvard's Yun Zhou explores the reprocessing of spent fuel. Zhou points out that no country in the world has come up with a permanent solution to nuclear waste in either of its two forms: the spent fuel that emerges directly from reactor cores and the high-level radioactive waste that results when spent fuel is reprocessed. Zhou points out that China and France have just announced a joint effort to establish a reprocessing plant, but that option isn't really practical for the developing world."
mdsolar (1045926) sends this excerpt from the Stanford Report: "Insider threats are the most serious challenge confronting nuclear facilities in today's world, a Stanford political scientist says. In every case of theft of nuclear materials where the circumstances of the theft are known, the perpetrators were either insiders or had help from insiders, according to Scott Sagan and his co-author, Matthew Bunn of Harvard University, in a research paper published this month by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 'Given that the other cases involve bulk material stolen covertly without anyone being aware the material was missing, there is every reason to believe that they were perpetrated by insiders as well,' they wrote. And theft is not the only danger facing facility operators; sabotage is a risk as well ... While there have been sabotage attempts in the United States and elsewhere against nuclear facilities conducted by insiders, the truth may be hard to decipher in an industry shrouded in security, [Sagan] said. The most recent known example occurred in 2012 – an apparent insider sabotage of a diesel generator at the San Onofre nuclear facility in California. Arguably the most spectacular incident happened at South Africa's Koeberg nuclear power plant (then under construction) in South Africa in 1982 when someone detonated explosives directly on a nuclear reactor."
New submitter sim2com writes: "An American judge has just added another reason why foreign (non-American) companies should avoid using American Internet service companies. The judge ruled that search warrants for customer email and other content must be turned over, even when that data is stored on servers in other countries. The ruling came out of a case in which U.S. law enforcement was demanding data from Microsoft's servers in Dublin, Ireland. Microsoft fought back, saying, 'A U.S. prosecutor cannot obtain a U.S. warrant to search someone's home located in another country, just as another country's prosecutor cannot obtain a court order in her home country to conduct a search in the United States. We think the same rules should apply in the online world, but the government disagrees.'
If this ruling stands, foreign governments will not be happy about having their legal jurisdiction trespassed by American courts that force American companies to turn over customers' data stored in their countries. The question is: who does have legal jurisdiction on data stored in a given country? The courts of that country, or the courts of the nationality of the company who manages the data storage? This is a matter that has to be decided by International treaties. While we're at it, let's try to establish an International cyber law enforcement system. In the meantime."
New submitter martinQblank writes "CNN reports: A Texas family whose home was within a two-mile radius of 22 natural gas wells — one of which was less than 800 feet away — has been awarded $2.9 million by a jury. The family, who suffered from a variety of ailments (including nosebleeds, rashes, migraines and more), was advised by a doctor to leave their ranch immediately and see a physician specializing in environmental health. The defendant in the case, Aruba Petroleum, disagreed with the jury's decision, as did other attorneys who are familiar with the energy sector — calling in a 'knee-jerk' reaction. Additionally the company noted that they had complied with all applicable environmental regulations. The family itself? Still in favor of oil and natural gas extraction: 'We are not anti-fracking or anti-drilling. My goodness, we live in Texas. Keep it in the pipes, and if you have a leak or spill, report it and be respectful to your neighbors. If you are going to put this stuff in close proximity to homes, be respectful and careful.'"
Photographer and software engineer Dave Hunt has posted an article about his most recent project: a DIY cellphone based on a Raspberry Pi (he calls it a PiPhone). It has a touchscreen dialing interface for making calls, and it's built with off-the-shelf components. The total bill of materials clocks in at about $158: $40 for the rPi, $35 for the 320x240 touchscreen, $15 for the LiPo battery, $48 for the GSM module, and about $20 for miscellaneous other minor parts. Hunt says, '[The GSM/GPRS module] allow us to send standard AT commands to it to make calls, hang up, send texts, data etc. Overall a very clever module. Towards the bottom of the white PCB, you can see the SIM Card, which allows the module to associate with my local GSM network, and it’s using a regular prepaid SIM card, bought in my local phone store for €10. Below the GSM module, you can see the on.off switch and a DC-DC converter, which converts the 3.7volts from the LiPoly battery to 5volts needed by everything else.' He points out that the phone is not terribly practical, but it's a neat project. Hunt has done several others, including turning the Raspberry Pi into a controller for time-lapse photography. He'll be publishing the code he wrote for the PiPhone next week.
the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "Solar power stations in orbit aren't exactly a new idea — Asimov set one of his stories on such a space station back in 1941. Everyone thinks it's a cool idea to collect solar power 24 hours a day and beam it down to Earth. But what with the expense and difficulty of rocketing up the parts and constructing and operating the stations in orbit, nobody's built one yet. While you probably still shouldn't hold your breath, it's interesting to learn that Japan's space agency has spec'd out such a solar power station."
Lucas123 (935744) writes "Putting a 3D printer beside the coffee maker in every home, as some manufacturers hope will happen someday, is a long ways from reality as consumers today still don't understand how the technology will benefit them, according to a new study. The study, by Juniper Research, states that part of the problem is that killer applications with the appropriate eco-system of software, apps and materials have yet to be identified and communicated to potential users. And, even though HP has announced its intention to enter the 3D printing space (possibly this fall) a massive, mainstream corporation isn't likely to change the market."
coop0030 (263345) writes "Noe & Pedro Ruiz at Adafruit have created a pair of open source near-eye video glasses combined with a Raspberry Pi. Their 3D Printed design turns a pair of 'private display glasses' into a "google glass"-like form factor. It easily clips to your prescription glasses, and can display any kind of device with Composite Video like a Raspberry Pi. They have a video demonstrating the glasses, a tutorial on how to build them, along with the 3d files required to print it out."
First time accepted submitter mooterSkooter (1132489) writes "Magnetic Imaging tools were used to recover a dozen images produced by Andy Warhol on his Amiga computer. I would've just stuck the disks in and tried to copy it myself." Read more about it from the Frank Ratchye Studio for Creative Inquiry, which says "The impetus for the investigation came when [artist Cory] Arcangel, a self-described “Warhol fanatic and lifelong computer nerd,” learned about Warhol’s Amiga experiments from the YouTube video of the 1985 Commodore Amiga product launch. Acting on a hunch, and with the support of CMOA curator Tina Kukielski, Arcangel approached the AWM in December 2011 regarding the possibility of restoring the Amiga hardware in the museum’s possession, and cataloging any files on its associated diskettes. In April 2012, he contacted Golan Levin, a CMU art professor and director of the FRSCI, a laboratory that supports “atypical, anti-disciplinary and inter-institutional” arts research. Offering a grant to support the investigation, Levin connected Cory with the CMU Computer Club, a student organization that had gained renown for its expertise in “retrocomputing,” or the restoration of vintage computers."
New submitter JImbob0i0 writes: "Back in January, Linksys/Belkin made a big deal about their new router, the WRT1900AC, which they claimed was a successor to the venerable WRT54G, and how they were working with OpenWRT. They released it this week, but their promises have fallen far short. You need to apply patches (which don't apply cleanly) and compile yourself in order to get it to work... so long as you don't need wireless support. There has not been much response from Linksys on the mailing list to criticism of the improperly formatted patch dump and poor reviews as a result."
An anonymous reader writes "Now that Google's modular phone effort, Project Ara, looks a bit less like vaporware, people are starting to figure out its implications for the future of cellphones. One fascinating possibility is that it could transform the cellphone purchasing process into something resembling desktop computer purchasing. Enthusiasts could search out the individual parts they like the best and assemble them into cellphone Voltron. People who just want a decent phone with no hassle could look at pre-built offerings — and not just from Apple, Samsung, and the like. It could open up a whole new group of phone 'manufacturers.' Of course, this comes with drawbacks, too — if you think fragmentation is bad now, imagine trying to support thousands of different hardware combinations."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Ask most people why they won't consider an electric car, and they talk about range anxiety. And I can easily imagine why 84 miles of range isn't enough. Now it sounds like Nissan is listening, as well as watching Tesla's success. The company plans to boost the Leaf electric car's driving range with options for larger battery packs. Not long ago Nissan surveyed Tesla Model S owners, and they probably heard loud and clear that longer driving range is very, very important. So it looks like the Leaf might get up to 150 miles of range, possibly by the 2016 model year. The range increase will come from a larger battery pack, possibly 36 or 42 kWh, and more energy-dense cells. Either way, clearly Nissan is looking to expand the appeal of the world's best-selling electric car, and increasing its driving range is pretty clearly a key to doing so. I just wish Nissan would ditch the weird styling while they're at it."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Paul Monies reports at NewsOK that Oklahoma's legislature has passed a bill that allows regulated utilities to apply to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to charge a higher base rate to customers who generate solar and wind energy and send their excess power back into the grid reversing a 1977 law that forbade utilities to charge extra to solar users. 'Renewable energy fed back into the grid is ultimately doing utility companies a service,' says John Aziz. 'Solar generates in the daytime, when demand for electricity is highest, thereby alleviating pressure during peak demand.'
The state's major electric utilities backed the bill but couldn't provide figures on how much customers already using distributed generation are getting subsidized by other customers. Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. and Public Service Co. of Oklahoma have about 1.3 million electric customers in the state. They have about 500 customers using distributed generation. Kathleen O'Shea, OG&E spokeswoman, said few distributed generation customers want to sever their ties to the grid. 'If there's something wrong with their panel or it's really cloudy, they need our electricity, and it's going to be there for them,' O'Shea said. 'We just want to make sure they're paying their fair amount of that maintenance cost.' The prospect of widespread adoption of rooftop solar worries many utilities. A report last year by the industry's research group, the Edison Electric Institute, warns of the risks posed by rooftop solar (PDF). 'When customers have the opportunity to reduce their use of a product or find another provider of such service, utility earnings growth is threatened," the report said. "As this threat to growth becomes more evident, investors will become less attracted to investments in the utility sector.''"
jfruh (300774) writes "While Intel is going after low-end Android tablets in a big way chipmaking x86 rival AMD is taking a more judicious approach, looking to focus on the high end. 'This idea of contra revenue is foreign to us,' said AMD's CEO, referring to Intel's strategy of selling chips at a loss to boost market share. But will Intel's vast resources keep AMD in its niche?"
Hodejo1 (1252120) writes "Tesla has already put over 25,000 cars on the road with more to come and, presumably, most will still be running well past the 8-year battery warranty. What would happen if it is time to replace the battery pack on an old Model S or X and the cost is $25K? Simple, it would destroy the resale value of said cars, which would negatively affect the lease value of new Tesla automobiles. That's a big part of the real reason why Tesla is building its own battery factory. They not only need to ensure enough supply for new cars, but they have to dramatically bring down the price of the replacement batteries low enough so owners of otherwise perfectly running old Teslas don't just junk them. The Tesla Roadster was not a mass produced vehicle, so the cost of replacing its battery is $40K. The economies of scale of a gigafactory alone will drop battery costs dramatically. Heavy research could drop it further over the next decade or so."
New submitter katiewilliam (3621675) writes with a story at Hardware Zone about a new feature that Google's working on for Android phones' built-in cameras: the illusion of shallow depth of field in phone snapshots, which typically err on the side of too much in focus, rather than too little. Excerpting: "The Google Research Blog [note: here's a direct link] revealed that there's quite a fair bit of algorithms running to achieve this effect; to put it in a nutshell, computer vision algorithms create a 3D model of the world based on the shots you have taken, and estimate the depth to every point in the scene."
An anonymous reader writes "Not everyone can drop a few hundred dollars on a VR headset, but that doesn't mean they can't experience VR! For those with the time and a bit of handiwork skill, this DIY guide from guest writer Ohaple will show you how to make a smartphone-based VR headset for as little as $20. Along the way, you'll learn the hardware and software basics of a VR headset." This project screams for a ready-made commercial version; does anyone know of existing purpose-built headgear? As one of the comments on the linked tutorial says, Poppy seems close, but lacks an LED for tracking.
1sockchuck (826398) writes "Microsoft will invest $1.1 billion to build a massive new server farm in Iowa, not far from an existing data center in West Des Moines. The 1.2 million square foot campus will be one of the biggest in the history of the data center industry. It further enhances Iowa's status as the data center capital of the Midwest, with Google and Facebook also operating huge server farms in the state."
First time accepted submitter Amtrak (2430376) writes "MIT has created designs for a nuclear plant that would avoid the downfall of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The new design calls for the nuclear plant to be placed on a floating platform modeled after the platforms used for offshore oil drilling. A floating platform several miles offshore, moored in about 100 meters of water, would be unaffected by the motions of a tsunami; earthquakes would have no direct effect at all. Meanwhile, the biggest issue that faces most nuclear plants under emergency conditions — overheating and potential meltdown, as happened at Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island — would be virtually impossible at sea."
First time accepted submitter DeathByLlama (2813725) writes "Years ago I made the switch from DD-WRT to Tomato firmware for my Linksys router. I lost a couple features, but gained one of the best QoS and bandwidth management systems I have seen on a router to date. Admins can see graphs of current and historical bandwidth usage by IP, set minimum and maximum bandwidth limits by IP range, setup QoS rules, and see and filter graphs and lists of current connections by usage, class or source/destination — all from an elegantly designed GUI. This has allowed me to easily and intelligently allocate and adjust my network's bandwidth; when there is a problem, I can see where it's coming from and create rules around it. I'm currently using the Toastman's VPN Tomato firmware, which has about everything that I would want, except for one key thing: support for ARM-based routers (only Broadcom is supported). I have seen other firmware projects being actively developed in the last few years, so in picking a new 802.11ac router, I need to decide whether Tomato support is a deal-breaker. With solid bandwidth management as a priority, what firmware would you recommend? Stock Asuswrt? Asuswrt-Merlin? OpenWRT? DD-WRT? Tomato? _____?"
storagedude (1517243) writes "Flash storage costs have been dropping rapidly for years, but those gains are about to slow, and a number of issues will keep flash from closing the cost gap with HDDs for some time, writes Henry Newman at Enterprise Storage Forum. As SSD density increases, reliability and performance decrease, creating a dilemma for manufacturers who must balance density, cost, reliability and performance. '[F]lash technology and SSDs cannot yet replace HDDs as primary storage for enterprise and HPC applications due to continued high prices for capacity, bandwidth and power, as well as issues with reliability that can only be addressed by increasing overall costs. At least for the foreseeable future, the cost of flash compared to hard drive storage is not going to change.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The field of soft robotics is fast growing and may be the key to allowing robots and humans to work side-by-side. 'Roboticists are prejudiced toward rigid structures, for which algorithms can be inherited from the well-established factory robot industry. Soft robots solve two huge problems with current robots, however. They don't have to calculate their movements as precisely as hard robots, which rely on springs and joints, making them better for navigating uncontrolled environments like a house, disaster area, or hospital room. They're naturally "cage free," meaning they can work shoulder-to-shoulder with humans. If a soft robot tips over or malfunctions, the danger is on par with being attacked by a pillow. The robot is also less prone to hurt itself.'"
sciencehabit writes: "Fossil fuels power modern society by generating heat, but much of that heat is wasted. Researchers have tried to reclaim some of it with semiconductor devices called thermoelectrics, which convert the heat into power. But they remain too inefficient and expensive to be useful beyond a handful of niche applications. Now, scientists in Illinois report that they have used a cheap, well-known material to create the most heat-hungry thermoelectric so far (abstract). In the process, the researchers say, they learned valuable lessons that could push the materials to the efficiencies needed for widespread applications. If that happens, thermoelectrics could one day power cars and scavenge energy from myriad engines, boilers, and electrical plants."
theodp (442580) writes "As Google Glass goes on sale [ed: or rather, went on sale] to the general public, GeekWire reports that Bill Gates has already snagged one patent for 'detecting and responding to an intruding camera' and has another in the works. The invention proposes to equip computer and device displays with technology for detecting and responding to any cameras in the vicinity by editing or blurring the content on the screen, or alerting the user to the presence of the camera. Gates and Nathan Myhrvold are among the 16 co-inventors of the so-called Unauthorized Viewer Detection System and Method, which the patent application notes is useful 'while a user is taking public transportation, where intruding cameras are likely to be present.' So, is Bill's patent muse none other than NYC subway rider Sergey Brin?" A more cynical interpretation: closing the analog hole. Vaguely related, mpicpp pointed out that Google filed a patent for cameras embedded in contact lenses.
Lasrick writes: "Meghan McGuinness of the Bipartisan Policy Center writes about the Electric Grid Cybersecurity Initiative, a collaborative effort between the center's Energy and Homeland Security Projects. She points out that over half the attacks on U.S. critical infrastructure sectors last year were on the energy sector. Cyber attacks could come from a variety of sources, and 'a large-scale cyber attack or combined cyber and physical attack could lead to enormous costs, potentially triggering sustained power outages over large portions of the electric grid and prolonged disruptions in communications, food and water supplies, and health care delivery.' ECGI is recommending the creation of a new, industry-supported model that would create incentives for the continual improvement and adaptation needed to respond effectively to rapidly evolving cyber threats. The vulnerability of the grid has been much discussed this last week; McGuinness's recommendations are a good place to start."
An anonymous reader writes "Amazon Web Services has cut its prices on 40-plus consecutive occasions, at times leading the charge, at other times countering similar moves by Microsoft and Google. This article at CRN includes some interesting behind-the-scenes trivia about how Amazon keeps costs down, including some interesting speculation — for example, that perhaps the reason Amazon's Glacier storage is so cheap is that maybe it might be based at least partly on tape, not disk (Amazon would not comment). The article also explains that the company will only pay for its employees to fly Economy, and that includes its senior executives. If they feel the need to upgrade to Business or First Class, they must do so from their own pocket. And instead of buying hardware from an OEM vendor, AWS sources its own components – everything from processors to disk drives to memory and network cards — and uses contract manufacturing to put together its machines."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Bloomberg reports that humans are taking the place of machines in plants across Japan so workers can develop new skills and figure out ways to improve production lines and the car-building process. "We need to become more solid and get back to basics, to sharpen our manual skills and further develop them," says Mitsuru Kawai, a half century-long company veteran tapped by President Akio Toyoda to promote craftsmanship at Toyota's plants. "When I was a novice, experienced masters used to be called gods (Kami-sama in Japanese), and they could make anything."
According to Kawai, learning how to make car parts from scratch gives younger workers insights they otherwise wouldn't get from picking parts from bins and conveyor belts, or pressing buttons on machines. At about 100 manual-intensive workspaces introduced over the last three years across Toyota's factories in Japan, these lessons can then be applied to reprogram machines to cut down on waste and improve processes. In an area Kawai directly supervises at the forging division of Toyota's Honsha plant, workers twist, turn and hammer metal into crankshafts instead of using the typically automated process. Experiences there have led to innovations in reducing levels of scrap and shortening the production line and Kawai also credits manual labor for helping workers improve production of axle beams and cut the costs of making chassis parts. "We cannot simply depend on the machines that only repeat the same task over and over again," says Kawai. "To be the master of the machine, you have to have the knowledge and the skills to teach the machine.""
theodp (442580) writes "On Friday, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston sought to quell the uproar over the appointment of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the company's board of directors, promising in a blog post that Rice's appointment won't change its stance on privacy. More interesting than Houston's brief blog post on the method-behind-its-Condi-madness (which Dave Winer perhaps better explained a day earlier) is the firestorm in the ever-growing hundreds of comments that follow. So will Dropbox be swayed by the anti-Condi crowd ("If you do not eliminate Rice from your board you lose my business") or stand its ground, heartened by pro-Condi comments ("Good on ya, DB. You have my continued business and even greater admiration")? One imagines that Bush White House experience has left Condi pretty thick-skinned, and IPO riches are presumably on the horizon, but is falling on her "resignation sword" — a la Brendan Eich — out of the question for Condi?"
An anonymous reader writes "The Associated Press reports that Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has put up a $250,000 reward for 'information leading to an arrest and conviction in a startling attack mounted nearly a year ago on telephone lines and the power grid in Silicon Valley.' Besides cutting power lines, the attackers also cut AT&T fiber-optic phone lines, thereby denying some people access to 911, and fired shots into a PB&E substation, knocking out 17 transformers in Silicon Valley and causing $15 million in damage. As of this post, the perpetrators are still unidentified and continue to elude the FBI. Meanwhile, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Thursday was brought before the Senate Energy Committee to explain why the FERC disseminated via insecure media a sensitive document describing where all the nation's power grids are particularly sensitive to a physical attack. FERC responded with assurances that databases are currently being scrubbed and procedures being implemented to safeguard critical data."
An anonymous reader points out work at the University of Bristol into interactive, 3-D displays created by projecting light on misted water. "These personal screens are both see-through and reach-through. The see-through feature provides direct line of sight of the personal screen and the elements behind it on the tabletop. The reach-through feature allows the user to switch from interacting with the personal screen to reaching through it to interact with the tabletop or the space above it. The personal screen allows a range of customisations and novel interactions such as presenting 2D personal content on the screen, 3D content above the tabletop or supplementing and renewing actual objects differently for each user."