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Thorium: The Wonder Fuel That Wasn't

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the almost-there dept.

Power 204

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Bob Alvarez has a terrific article on the history and realities of thorium as an energy fuel: For 50 years the US has tried to develop thorium as an energy source for nuclear reactors, and that effort has mostly failed. Besides the extraordinary costs involved, In the process of pursuing thorium-based reactors a fair amount of uranium 233 has been created, and 96 kilograms of the stuff (enough to fuel 12 nuclear weapons) is now missing from the US national inventory. On top of that, the federal government is attempting to force Nevada into accepting a bunch of the uranium 233, as is, for disposal in a landfill (the Nevada Nuclear Security Site). 'Because such disposal would violate the agency's formal safeguards and radioactive waste disposal requirements, the Energy Department changed those rules, which it can do without public notification or comment. Never before has the agency or its predecessors taken steps to deliberately dump a large amount of highly concentrated fissile material in a landfill, an action that violates international standards and norms.'"

Flaws In Popular Solar Power Management Platform Could Crash the Grid

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the there-goes-the-sun dept.

Security 90

mask.of.sanity (1228908) writes "Criminals could potentially cause black-outs and mess with power grid configurations by exploiting flaws in a popular solar panel management system used by thousands of homes and businesses. The threat is substantial because, as the company boasts, its eponymous management system runs globally on roughly 229,300 solar plants that typically pump out 566TWh of electrical energy."

UN to Debate Use of Fully Autonomous Weapons, New Report Released

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the whit-a-push-of-a-button dept.

Government 180

concertina226 (2447056) writes "The United Nations will debate the use of killer robots for the first time at the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) this week, but human rights activists are calling for the robots to be banned. Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School's International Human Rights Clinic have published a new report entitled 'Shaking the Foundations: The Human Rights Implications of Killer Robots', which calls for killer robots to be banned to prevent a potential arms race between countries. Killer robots, or fully autonomous weapons, do not yet exist but would be the next step after remote-controlled armed drones used by the US military today. Fully autonomous weapons would have the ability to identify and fire on targets without human intervention, putting compliance with international humanitarian laws in doubt. Among the problems with killer robots highlighted in the report is the risk of criminal liability for a military officer, programmer or weapons manufacturer who created or used an autonomous weapon with intent to kill. If a robot killed arbitrarily, it would be difficult to hold anyone accountable."

$7 USB Stick Aims To Bring Thousands of Poor People Online

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the one-USB-per-child-project dept.

Android 201

dryriver sends this BBC report: "The USB flash drive is one of the most simple, everyday pieces of technology that many people take for granted. Now it's being eyed as a possible solution to bridging the digital divide, by two colourful entrepreneurs behind the start-up Keepod. Nissan Bahar and Franky Imbesi aim to combat the lack of access to computers by providing what amounts to an operating-system-on-a-stick. In six weeks, their idea managed to raise more than $40,000 (£23,750) on fundraising site Indiegogo, providing the cash to begin a campaign to offer low-cost computing to the two-thirds of the globe's population that currently has little or no access. The test bed for the project is the slums of Nairobi in Kenya. The typical income for the half a million people in the city's Mathare district is about $2 (£1.20) a day. Very few people here use a computer or have access to the net. But Mr Bahar and Mr Imbesi want to change that with their Keepod USB stick. It will allow old, discarded and potentially non-functional PCs to be revived, while allowing each user to have ownership of their own 'personal computer' experience — with their chosen desktop layout, programs and data — at a fraction of the cost of providing a unique laptop, tablet or other machine to each person.'"

Eavesdropping With a Smart TV

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the i'll-stick-with-a-dumb-tv,-thanks dept.

Television 93

An anonymous reader writes "A article on The Register titled talks about a demo that was given in London last month by NCC Group where they turned a modern TV into an audio bug. 'The devices contain microphones and cameras that can be utilized by applications — Skype and similar apps being good examples. The TV has a fairly large amount of storage, so would be able to hold more than 30 seconds of audio – we only captured short snippets for demonstrations purposes. A more sophisticated attack could store more audio locally and only upload it at certain times, or could even stream it directly to a server, bypassing the need to use any of the device’s storage.' Given the Snowden revelations and what we've seen previously about older tech being deprecated, how can we protect ourselves with the modern devices (other than not connecting them to the Internet)?"

Foam-Spraying Quadcopter Becomes a Flying 3D Printer

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the because-we-definitely-need-one-of-those dept.

Robotics 34

Zothecula writes "The swiftlet may not look much different than other little birds, but it has one unique ability – it builds its nest out of its own saliva. Inspired by the swiftlet, scientists at Imperial College London's Aerial Robotics Lab have created a robotic quadcopter that can extrude polyurethane foam while in flight. By targeting where that foam goes, it can build up simple structures, essentially becoming a flying 3D printer."

Court Orders Marvell To Pay Carnegie Mellon $1.5B For Patent Infringement

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the enforced-endowments dept.

The Courts 85

Lucas123 writes "A U.S. District Court has ruled that Marvell Technology must pay Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) $1.54B for infringing on two hard drive chip patents. Marvell was also ordered to pay interest at 0.14% annually, and 50 cents for each chip sold that uses the intellectual property. While Marvell did not comment on the case, CMU said it 'understands' that Marvell will again appeal the ruling and the school 'will look forward to the federal circuit court' upholding the lower court's ruling. The latest decision by a U.S. District Court in Western Pennsylvania ends for now a five-year legal battle between the two. In 2012, a jury found Marvell had violated CMU's patents, and the chip maker then appealed that ruling."

A 32-bit Development System For $2

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the computers-you-can-buy-with-a-$2-bill dept.

Hardware Hacking 138

An anonymous reader writes "If you are too cheap to buy a $20 Arduino or too elitist to not have at least a 32-bit processor, Dr. Dobb's shows you how to take a $2 chip, put it on a breadboard with a TTL serial (or USB) cable, and be up and running with a 32-bit C/C++ system. Even if you have to buy the breadboard and the cable, it is comparable in price to an Arduino and much more capable. The Mbed libraries (optional) make it as easy to use a 'duino, too."

The Struggle To Ban Killer Robots

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the shoot-to-kill dept.

Robotics 138

Lasrick (2629253) writes "The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is a year old; the same month is was founded, the UN's special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions called for a moratorium on the development and deployment of autonomous lethal weapons while a special commission considered the issue. The campaign is succeeding at bringing attention to the issue, but it's possible that it's too late, and if governments don't come to a common understanding of what the problems and solutions are, the movement is doomed. As this article points out, one of the most contentious issues is the question of what constitutes an autonomous weapons system: 'Setting the threshold of autonomy is going to involve significant debate, because machine decision-making exists on a continuum.' Another, equally important issue of course is whether a ban is realistic."

Why Hollywood's Best Robot Stories Are About Slavery

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the because-hollywood-hates-asimov dept.

Sci-Fi 150

malachiorion writes: "On the occasion of Almost Human's cancellation (and the box office flopping of Transcendence), I tried to suss out what makes for a great, and timeless Hollywood robot story. The common thread seems to be slavery, or stories that use robots and AI as completely blatant allegories for the discrimination and dehumanization that's allowed slavery to happen, and might again. 'In the broadest sense, the value of these stories is the same as any discussion of slavery. They confront human ugliness, however obliquely. They're also a hell of a lot more interesting than movies and TV shows that present machine threats as empty vessels, or vague symbols of unchecked technological progress.' The article includes a defense (up to a point!) of HAL 9000's murder spree."

First Transistors Made Entirely of 2-D Materials

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the powered-by-scotch-tape dept.

Hardware 137

ckwu (2886397) writes "Two independent research groups report the first transistors built entirely of two-dimensional electronic materials, making the devices some of the thinnest yet. The transistors, just a few atoms thick and hence transparent, are smaller than their silicon-based counterparts, which would allow for a super-high density of pixels in flexible, next-generation displays. The research teams, one at Argonne National Laboratory and the other at the University of California, Berkeley, used materials such as tungsten diselenide, graphene, and boron nitride to make all three components of a transistor: a semiconductor, a set of electrodes, and an insulating layer. Electrons travel in the devices 70 to 100 times faster than in amorphous silicon. Such a high electron mobility means the transistors switch faster, which dictates a display's refresh rate and is necessary for high-quality video, especially 3-D video."

Dropbox and Box Leaked Shared Private Files Through Google

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the everything's-secure-until-it-isn't dept.

Cloud 92

judgecorp writes: "People using shared storage providers such as Box and Dropbox are leaking data, a competitor has discovered. Links to shared files leak out when those links are accidentally put into the Google search box, or if users click links from within the documents. Dropbox competitor Intralinks stumbled across mortgage applications and bank statements while checking Google Analytics data for a Google Adwords campaign. Graham Cluley explains the problem in detail and suggests answers: for Dropbox users, it means upgrading to the Business version, which lets you restrict access to shared document links." Dropbox has posted an official response and disabled access to previously shared links. Box made a vague statement about their awareness of the issue.

Norway Is Gamifying Warfare By Driving Tanks With Oculus Rift

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the better-killing-through-technology dept.

The Military 106

Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "Look at Norway, where the Army has started using Oculus Rift to drive tanks with increased visibility, according to the Norwegian TV station tu.no. Four VR cameras are mounted on the sides of the tank to give the soldier inside donning the headset a full 360 degree view of what's going on outside, like X-ray vision. Using cameras to 'see through' a vehicle isn't a new concept; when the hatches are down tanks are notoriously hard to navigate. But the Oculus Rift dev kit is just a fraction of the price of traditional 360-degree camera equipment: Lockheed Martin's F-35 helmet for pilots can cost tens of thousands of dollars."

Sony Warns Demand For Blu-Ray Diminishing Faster Than Expected

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the can-we-just-have-emusic-for-video-already dept.

Data Storage 477

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.

Chernobyl's Sarcophagus, Redux

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the looking-back dept.

Earth 121

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."

AMD Designing All-New CPU Cores For ARMv8, X86

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the brand-new dept.

AMD 181

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."

Is Montana the Next Big Data Hub?

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the big-sky-big-cloud dept.

Data Storage 164

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.'"

Some Users Find Swype Keyboard App Makes 4000+ Location Requests Per Day

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the now-where-are-you dept.

Input Devices 191

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?

Can You Tell the Difference? 4K Galaxy Note 3 vs. Canon 5D Mark III Video

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the but-magic-lantern dept.

Cellphones 201

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?"

Ask Slashdot: Which VHS Player To Buy?

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the and-which-8-track dept.

Media 201

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?

SanDisk Announces 4TB SSD, Plans For 8TB Next Year

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the no-moving-parts dept.

Data Storage 264

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."

Sony Tape Storage Breakthrough Could Bring Us 185 TB Cartridges

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the pack-it-in dept.

Data Storage 208

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.'"

DreamWorks Animation CEO: Movie Downloads Will Move To Pay-By-Screen-Size

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the uh-huh dept.

The Media 347

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."

Red Hat Acquires InkTank, Ceph Maintainers

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the now-throw-some-money-at-openafs dept.

Linux Business 18

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).

Virtual Reality: Purpose Beyond Gaming

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the advertisers-will-invade-soon dept.

Displays 72

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?"

Ask Slashdot: How To Back Up Physical Data?

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the can't-sync-your-stone-carvings-over-dropbox dept.

Data Storage 245

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!"

Mini Gaming PCs — Promising, But Not Ready

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the call-me-when-it-fits-inside-a-chromecast dept.

AMD 83

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.'"

Decommissioning Nuclear Plants Costing Far More Than Expected

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the have-you-tried-selling-them-to-evil-masterminds dept.

Power 288

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.'"

US Nuclear Missile Silos Use Safe, Secure 8" Floppy Disks

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the not-the-onion dept.

The Military 481

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.""

AMD Beema and Mullins Low Power 2014 APUs Tested, Faster Than Bay Trail

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the make-'em-fight dept.

AMD 66

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."

Setback For Small Nuclear Reactors: B&W Cuts mPower Funding

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the invest-in-canned-air dept.

Businesses 165

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."

Minesweepers Robotic Competition Aims For a Landmine-Free World

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the sweep-and-clear dept.

Robotics 103

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."

The Koch Brothers Attack On Solar Energy

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the there-goes-the-sun dept.

Power 769

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.'"

Waste Management: The Critical Element For Nuclear Energy Expansion

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the put-that-anywhere dept.

Earth 281

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."

Security At Nuclear Facilities: Danger Likely Lurks From Within

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the only-trust-people-who-don't-work-there dept.

Security 72

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."

American Judge Claims Jurisdiction Over Data Stored In Other Countries

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the su-casa-es-mi-casa dept.

The Courts 226

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."

Texas Family Awarded $2.9 Million In Fracking Lawsuit

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the don't-mess-with-texas dept.

The Courts 146

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.'"

Man Builds DIY Cellphone Using Raspberry Pi

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the apple-already-sued-for-patent-infringement dept.

Hardware Hacking 83

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.

How Japan Plans To Build Orbital Solar Power Stations

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the start-up-and-build-down dept.

Space 230

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."

Consumers Not Impressed With 3D Printing

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the drip-coffee-and-widget-maker dept.

Printer 302

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."

DIY Wearable Pi With Near-Eye Video Glasses

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the up-close-and-personal dept.

Hardware Hacking 59

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."

Previously Unknown Warhol Works Recovered From '80s Amiga Disks

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the amiga-forever-kinda dept.

Amiga 171

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."

WRT54G Successor Falls Flat On Promises

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the too-good-to-be-true dept.

Networking 113

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."

Google's Project Ara Could Bring PC-Like Hardware Ecosystem To Phones

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the without-the-liquid-cooling-i-hope dept.

Cellphones 139

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."

Will the Nissan Leaf Take On the Tesla Model S At Half the Price?

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the need-more-juice dept.

Transportation 398

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."

Oklahoma Moves To Discourage Solar and Wind Power

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the who-needs-the-sun? dept.

Earth 504

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.''"

AMD Not Trying To Get Its Chips Into Low-Cost Tablets

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the not-interested dept.

AMD 87

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?"

Why Tesla Really Needs a Gigafactory

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the if-only-there-were-fast-swap-stations-everywhere dept.

Power 193

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."

Google's New Camera App Simulates Shallow Depth of Field

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the give-your-mom-an-easter-bokeh dept.

Input Devices 127

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."

For $20, Build a VR Headset For Your Smartphone

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the watch-movies-on-the-plane dept.

Displays 50

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.

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