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Ars Technica reports that HP is back in the $100 tablet market, and this time with a tablet that's intended to be priced there instead of just a fire sale. The new offering lacks Bluetooth and GPS, among other features you might wish for in a tablet, and the screen is surrounded by a hefty bezel, but manages a pretty good list of features. Ars summarizes: "For $100, you can't expect much of the spec sheet. The HP 7 Plus has a 7-inch 1024x600 IPS display, a 1GHz quad-core Cortex A7 processor (made by a company called "Allwinner"), 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, 802.11 b/g/n, a microSD slot, and a 2800 mAh battery. The biggest downside HP could have fixed at this price point is the software: it's only running Android 4.2.2. Android versions are free, HP." Having an avaialble microSD slot beats some more expensive options, too.
TechCrunch's video introduction (not intended as a full review) to the recently introduced Microsoft Surface Pro 3 has mostly good things to say about the device. Reviewer Alex Wilhelm compares it to his MacBook Air, and though he's not sure that the Surface is a better fit for all-day typing than the 11" Air (slightly larger, slightly heavier than the Surface), he says the Surface does a good job of integrating input options (both finger and stylus input) that the Air -- and most laptops -- just don't have. The Washington Post's Hayley Tsukayama also compares the Surface to the Air, rather than to an Android or Apple tablet, writing, "It's heavy for a tablet, sure, but light for a laptop at 1.7 pounds. And while it doesn't have the array of ports that laptops do, you can make do with the two that it does have, a mini-display port that's good for presentations and a USB 3.0 that's good for, well, everything else. You will probably need a hub to get everything you want of this, though. (Or you could go to using Bluetooth accessories, which the Surface Pro 3 will also support.)" Ars Technica has an informative hands-on review as well, but one which parts from these by emphatically describing the Surface as a tablet, not a laptop; Ars reviewer Peter Bright gives high marks for many aspects of the design and materials, though he says his experience with the included pressure-sensitive pen was "problematic." (His initial sample pen had to be replaced, and even when it did work, it lacks tilt sensing.) Troubling for anyone who would prefer to use it as a laptop, Bright says the Surface 3 is better than its forebears but still an awkward fit for using on an actual lap, and that despite the improvements Microsoft's made it therefore isn't quite the system he's looking for.
Iddo Genuth (903542) writes "Forget about 4K displays, are Ultra Widescreen 'cinematic' displays the real deal? Earlier this year LG announced its new 34UM95 – a 34-inch Ultra Widescreen monitor with a cinematic 21:9 aspect ratio and a generous 3440 x1440 resolution — a recent hands-on review suggests that this monitor might be the new productivity king, for those who simply can't stand that annoying bezel between their multiple monitors. Linus Sebastian had a chance to play with the new LG 34UM95, and although he seems to start as a skeptic (after all, how really useful can a 21:9 display be right?) he ended up his review fully converted, with no going back. We still think that pro graphic users will not rush to switch over their EIZOs and NECs for this baby, but video editors, gamers, programmers and basically anybody who loves multitasking, might be very tempted — what do you think?"
According to The Wall Street Journal, Google may be planning to commoditze 3-D scanning by building the tech of its Project Tango project (essentially, thus far, a phone-sized handheld with 3-D sensing capabilities) into tablets. The Register speculates: "Given that Google has already announced the Project Tango smartphone, it seems likely that it would extend the technology to tablets, and the seven-inch form factor would tie in nicely with the existing Nexus 7 design. ...Google is hoping that developers can build applications to use the scanning capabilities of the Tango hardware. Suggested topics include providing guides for visually impaired people, building gaming maps based on actual rooms, and possibly augmenting Google Maps with interior details – Street View becoming Home View perhaps?" Setting aside what brand it might bear, how would you employ a portable 3-D scanner?
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "A breakthrough has been made in SSD technology that could mean drastic performance increases due to the overcoming of one of the major issues in the memory type. Currently, data cannot be directly overwritten onto the NAND chips used in the devices. Files must be written to a clean area of the drive whilst the old area is formatted. This eventually causes fragmented data and lowers the drive's life and performance over time. However, a Japanese team at Chuo University have finally overcome the issue that is as old as the technology itself. Officially unveiled at the 2014 IEEE International Memory Workshop in Taipei, the researchers have written a brand new middleware for the drives that controls how the data is written to and stored on the device. Their new version utilizes what they call a 'logical block address scrambler' which effectively prevents data being written to a new 'page' on the device unless it is absolutely required. Instead, it is placed in a block to be erased and consolidated in the next sweep. This means significantly less behind-the-scenes file copying that results in increased performance from idle."
MojoKid (1002251) writes "The PC market is changing rapidly as tablets supplant some laptops, new players such as the Chromebook disrupt the old WIntel model, and innovations in processors and graphics allow for ever-smaller PCs such as Intel's NUC (Next Unit of Computing) PC. Gigabyte recently introduced a rather unique product that combines the tiny 4.5-inch square form factor of Intel's NUC PC platform together with a mini DLP projector. The Gigabyte Brix Projector measures 4.24 x 4.5 x 1.93 inches (WxLxD) but manages to fit in an Intel Core i3-4010U (1.7GHz) processor with built-in Intel HD 4400 graphics and support for up to 16GB of 1600MHz RAM. Finally, an mSATA slot inside the chassis also supports up to a 256GB SSD. The system's DLP (LED backlight) projector itself offers a resolution of 864x480 with an aspect ratio of 16:9 and a purported image size of 7 to 85 inches. It promises 75 ANSI lumen brightness, a contrast ratio of around 900:1, and 3LED (RGB) technology. It's not an HD setup but the potential use cases are interesting. A follow-on version capable of 1080p output would be even more useful for gaming and HD video."
cartechboy writes: "Automakers are scrambling to increase vehicle fuel economy every year as regulations increase, so when an automaker finds a way to possibly increase fuel economy by 10 percent with one new part, that gets some attention. Today that automaker is Toyota, and the part is a new semiconductor. Toyota's power control units (PCU) in its hybrids use semiconductors to govern the flow of electricity between the battery and the electric motor. Unfortunately, they're also an electrically restrictive component. Toyota says the PCU accounts for a quarter of the total electrical power losses in a hybrid drive system, and semiconductors alone make up a full fifth of the total. Reduce electrical losses through a semiconductor, and you can make your hybrid system (and therefore your car) more efficient. Toyota has done this, in theory at least, using a new silicon carbide material for its semiconductors, rather than a standard silicon unit. The future could be shaped by individual parts, and this new semiconductor tech is one piece of that puzzle."
An anonymous reader writes "Engadget reports that Samsung is working on virtual reality technology to compete with the Oculus Rift. Their work is fairly far along, and it's expected to be announced this year. It's being built to function in tandem with Samsung's flagship mobile devices, most likely their upcoming Galaxy phones and tablets. From the article: 'We're told it has an OLED screen, as good or better than in the second Rift dev kit; it's not clear how the headset connects to your phone/tablet, but we're guessing it's a wired connection rather than wireless. ...This is a device meant for use with games. What type of games? Android games! Sure, but which ones? That's certainly the question. Great games make the platform, and VR games are especially tough to crack given the newness of the medium. One thing's for sure: most major games won't work on VR as direct ports.' The report also suggests Samsung is targeting a lower price point than its competitors. True or not, it will hopefully help drive down prices for all upcoming VR tech." Meanwhile, DARPA is experimenting with the Oculus Rift for cyberwar visualization.
mdsolar writes: "[Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke said] Australia bore a responsibility to assist with the safe disposal of radioactive waste, given the ample space the country possesses. 'If Australia has – as we do – the safest remote locations for storing the world's nuclear waste, we have a responsibility to make those sites available for this purpose,' he said. Hawke based this conclusion on a 25-year-old report made by Ralph Slayter, whom the former prime minister appointed as Australia's first chief scientist back in 1989. According to Slayter's report, some of the remote reaches of the Northern Territory and Western Australia could provide apt dumping grounds for radioactive waste."
When I bumped into Abram Thau at Metrix Createspace in Seattle's Capitol Hill, he showed me a few printed figurines, including a Storm Trooper (of the Star Wars variety), and I thought at first that he had printed them as duplicates of similar-sized commercial products. Not so: It turns out these are made-from-life, specifically from cos-players who have stood on Abram's human-suitable turntable (powered by a chicken rotisserie motor hooked to a 3-D printed pulley) while he scanned them in. Thau's apartment is practically shouting distance from Metrix, but that pulley was made on a large Deltabot filament printer in the corner of his living room. (A living room usefully cluttered with tools, bottles of resin, projectors in various states of repair, and more printed objects.) More interesting still, Thau's figurines are produced with a home-built resin printer. Resin is messier to work with than the filament feedstock of RepRap/Makerbot style printers (and the resin itself has a slight odor), but it allows different results. Overhanging pieces are possible without requiring elaborate support pieces built into the mesh, and the resulting product can be noticeably smoother than typical filament printing, though all 3-D printing techniques are getting better. Thau didn't buy one of the commercially available resin printers, though (like FormLabs's), but instead decided to build his own out of scavenged and off-the-shelf components. Budget concerns and improvisation rule the day (Thau is also a grad student, studying to be a middle school teacher): That means there's a book holding up the projector which is vital to curing the resin, and the printer's case is recycled from a previous one. The results look as good as the affordable commercial ones I've seen, and he's excited to teach others to make their own. Third-party resin makers and a robust market in used projectors mean that other hobbyists can follow his lead and turn their friends into figurines. (Alternate video link)
AmiMoJo writes: "A Japanese court has ordered the operator of the Ohi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan, not to restart two of its reactors, citing inadequate safety measures. The plant's No. 3 and 4 reactors were halted for regular inspections last September. Local residents filed a lawsuit asking that the reactors be kept offline. They said an estimate of possible tremors is too small, and that the reactors lack backup cooling systems. The operator, Kansai Electric Power Company, has insisted that no safety problems exist."
First time accepted submitter steam_cannon (1881500) writes "The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA.gov) is planning to release a major 96% reserve downgrade to the amount of oil and gas recoverable from the Monterey Shale formation, one of the largest oil/gas reserves in the United States. After several years of intensified exploration the Monterey oil shale play seems to have much less recoverable oil and gas then previously hoped. This is due to multiple factors such as the more complex rippled geology of the shale and over-hyped recovery estimates by investors. By official estimates the Monterey Shale formation makes up 2/3 of the shale reserves in the US and by some estimates 1/3 of all crude reserves in the US. Not a drop in the bucket. Next Month the EIA.gov will be announcing cutting it's estimates for Monterey by 96%. That's a huge blow to the US energy portfolio, trillions of dollars, oil and gas the US might have used for itself or exported. Presently the White House is evaluating making changes to US oil export restrictions so this downgrade may result in changes to US energy policy. As well as have a significant impact on US economy and the economy of California."
bauhausinteraction writes "A team from the Bauhaus-University and Native Instruments Developers built and programmed a fully functional interactive Lego Sequencer / Tangible Groove Machine that sends control data to the Maschine drum sequencer to make music. The thing was built within 24 hours as an unofficial weekend collaboration between bauhausinteraction and NI at the MidiHack 2014 in Stockholm. A standard webcam is mounted underneath the baseplate. The image is processed by a Python Script using the OpenCV Library to track the bricks. The tricky bit was to not track the user's hand, but we succeeded at that as well.
The information about brick color, position, and orientation is derived from the image and then converted into OpenSoundControl (OSC) messages. Those are sent over a network connection to a computer running Native Instruments Maschine to play back the sounds. Of course, this would work with other sound generators as well, since the whole thing simply spits out OSC-Messages and MIDI — but hey: if the guys from Native are there, you'd better use their Maschine stuff. Being real Masterbuilders, of course we used only unmodified, standard Lego Parts and no Kragle* for the construction. (*see the Lego Movie for reference.)"
Science_afficionado (932920) writes "A new type of supercapacitor that can hold a charge when it takes a lickin' has been developed by engineers at Vanderbilt University. It is the first 'multi-functional' energy storage device that can operate while subject to realistic static and dynamic loads — advancing the day when everything from cell phones to electric vehicles will no longer need separate batteries. These devices could make it possible to design electrical devices that are not limited by plugs and external power sources."
malachiorion writes: "When it comes to robots, most of us are a bunch of Jon Snow know-nothings. With the exception of roboticists, everything we assume we know is based on science fiction, which has no reason to be accurate about its iconic heroes and villains, or journalists, who are addicted to SF references, jokes and tropes. That's my conclusion, at least, after a story I wrote Popular Science got some attention—it asked whether a robotic car should kill its owner, if it means saving two strangers. The most common dismissals of the piece claimed that robo-cars should simply follow Asimov's First Law, or that robo-cars would never crash into each other. These perspectives are more than wrong-headed—they ignore the inherent complexity and fallibility of real robots, for whom failure is inevitable. Here's my follow-up story, about why most of our discussion of robots is based on make-believe, starting with the myth of robotic hyper-competence."
An anonymous reader writes "Wired has an in-depth report on the development of the Oculus Rift, telling the story of the tech and its creators from conception to present. Quoting: 'That's because Oculus has found a way to make a headset that does more than just hang a big screen in front of your face. By combining stereoscopic 3-D, 360-degree visuals, and a wide field of view—along with a supersize dose of engineering and software magic—it hacks your visual cortex. As far as your brain is concerned, there's no difference between experiencing something on the Rift and experiencing it in the real world. "This is the first time that we've succeeded in stimulating parts of the human visual system directly," says Abrash, the Valve engineer. "I don't get vertigo when I watch a video of the Grand Canyon on TV, but I do when I stand on a ledge in VR." ... The hardware problems have been solved, the production lines are almost open, and the Rift will be here soon. After that it's anybody's guess. "I've written 2 million lines of code over the past 20 years, and now I'm starting from a blank page," Carmack says. "But the sense that I'm helping build the future right now is palpable."'"
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "The study of proteins has become one of the hottest topics in science in the last 20 years, and not just for biologists. Researchers have been measuring the electrical properties of proteins for some time, discovering that some of them act like switches in certain circumstances. That's potentially useful but without a robust theoretical model of how these properties arise, nobody has been able to incorporate proteins into real devices. Now electronics engineers have developed the first model that reliably describes the real electrical behaviour of proteins and how it changes when they bond to other molecules. It even predicts the behaviour in new situations. That should make it possible to use proteins in the same way as other electronic components such as transistors, diodes and so on. That's leading to an entirely new field of science called proteotronics in which proteins work seamlessly with other components in electronic devices. First up, an electronic nose based on the olfactory receptor OR-17, a protein found in rats, which behaves like an electronic switch when it detects the presence of aldehydes such as octanal."
Luminary Crush (109477) writes "To date, the bulk of fusion research has been channelled towards a plasma containment and stabilization method. This is the approach used by ITER's tokamak reactor, the cost of which could exceed US$13.7 billion before it's online in the year 2027 (barring further delays). Researchers at LPP Fusion, in a project partially financed by NASA-JPL, are working in a different direction: focus fusion, which focuses the plasma in a very small area to produce fusion and an ion beam which could then be harnessed to produce electricity. It is small enough to fit in a shipping container, can double as a rocket engine, and would cost US$50 million to produce the working 5 MW prototype. To reach the next hurdle and demonstrate feasibility, LPP Fusion has started an Indiegogo campaign to raise $200K."
mdsolar (1045926) writes with news that global warming may make it more difficult to use modern power sources that rely upon being near large bodies of water for cooling. From the article: "During the 1970s and 1980s, when many nuclear reactors were first built, most operators estimated that seas would rise at a slow, constant rate. ... But the seas are now rising much faster than they did in the past ... Sea levels rose an average of 8 inches between 1880 and 2009, or about 0.06 inches per year. But in the last 20 years, sea levels have risen an average of 0.13 inches per year... NOAA) has laid out four different projections for estimated sea level rise by 2100. Even the agency's best-case scenario assumes that sea levels will rise at least 8.4 inches by the end of this century. NOAA's worst-case scenario, meanwhile, predicts that the oceans will rise nearly 7 feet in the next 86 years. But most nuclear power facilities were built well before scientists understood just how high sea levels might rise in the future. And for power plants, the most serious threat is likely to come from surges during storms. Higher sea levels mean that flooding will travel farther inland, creating potential hazards in areas that may have previously been considered safe." The article has charts comparing the current elevation of various plants with their estimated elevations under the various NOAA sea level rise estimates.
An anonymous reader writes "Just when people got used to good smartphones costing $200 with a 2-year contract, they also started to realize that those 2-year contracts were bad news. Still, it's often more palatable than fronting $600 for good, new hardware. But that's starting to change. Cell phone internals are getting cheap enough that prices for capable devices have been creeping downward below $200 without a contract. We ran into something similar with the PC industry some years back — previous-gen chips had no trouble running next-gen software (excluding games with bleeding-edge graphics), and so the impetus to keep getting the latest-and-greatest hardware disappeared for a lot of people. That revolution is underway now for smartphones, and it's going to shake things up for everybody, including Apple and Samsung. But the biggest effects will be felt in the developing world: '[F]or a vast number of people in a vast number of countries, the cheap handset will be the first screen, and the only screen. Their primary interface with the world. A way of connecting to the Internet where there are no telephone lines or coaxial cables or even electricity. In nations without subsidized cell phone contracts or access to consumer credit, the $50-and-you-own-it handset is going to be transformative.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The Tux3 file-system that's been in development since 2008 as the public replacement to the patent-blocked Tux2 file-system is now under review for inclusion into the Linux kernel. Tux3 tries to act as a 'light, tight, modern file-system. We offer a fresh approach to some ancient problems,' according to its lead developer, Daniel Phillips. Tux3 strives for minimal resource consumption but lacks enterprise-grade reliability at this point. Tux3, at the end of the day, tries to be 'robust, fast, and simple' with the Linux FS reportedly being as fast as other well known file-systems. Details on the project are at Tux3.org."
An anonymous reader writes "It's a common trope in sci-fi that when AIs become complex enough to have some form of consciousness, humans will be able to communicate with them through speech. But the rate at which we transmit and analyze data is infinitesimal compared to how fast a computer can do it. Would they even want to bother? Jeff Atwood takes a look at how a computer's timescale breaks down, and relates it to human timeframes. It's interesting to note the huge variance in latency. If we consider one CPU cycle to take 1 second, then a sending a ping across the U.S. would take the equivalent of 4 years. A simple conversation could take the equivalent of thousands of years. Would any consciousness be able to deal with such a relative delay?"
coondoggie writes: "The U.S. Office of Naval Research this week offered a $7.5m grant to university researchers to develop robots with autonomous moral reasoning ability. While the idea of robots making their own ethical decisions smacks of SkyNet — the science-fiction artificial intelligence system featured prominently in the Terminator films — the Navy says that it envisions such systems having extensive use in first-response, search-and-rescue missions, or medical applications. One possible scenario: 'A robot medic responsible for helping wounded soldiers is ordered to transport urgently needed medication to a nearby field hospital. En route, it encounters a Marine with a fractured leg. Should the robot abort the mission to assist the injured? Will it? If the machine stops, a new set of questions arises. The robot assesses the soldier’s physical state and determines that unless it applies traction, internal bleeding in the soldier's thigh could prove fatal. However, applying traction will cause intense pain. Is the robot morally permitted to cause the soldier pain, even if it’s for the soldier’s well-being?'"
jfruh writes: "AMD has never been able to match Intel for profits or scale, but a decade ago it was in front on innovation — the first to 1GHz, the first to 64-bit, the first to dual core. A lack of capital has kept the company barely holding on with cheap mid-range chips since; but now AMD is flush with cash from its profitable business with gaming consoles, and is preparing an ambitious new architecture for 2016, one that's distinct from the x86/ARM hybrid already announced."
First time accepted submitter Dufflepod (3656815) writes "After yet another hardware purchase last week, I realized with some alarm just how drastically an enterprising burglar could increase the crapulence quotient of my life if they ever made off with my hardware. The house is alarmed, but much to my annoyance it isn't always set when people go out for any length of time. Ideally I want to 'alarm' the expensive items among my various PCs, UPS, NAS box, test equipment, and some of the sundry other gadgets & gizmos I require to stroke my inner geek. Over the past few days I have spent hours Googling for every combination of "anti-theft perimeter alarm radius motion detector vibration wireless" etc etc.. I have found various possible solutions, though the cost of some of them does make my eyes water (eg SonicShock @ €150/box). Has anyone out there decided to bite-the-bullet and protect their kit with decent alarms, and do you have any suggested 'do's & don'ts'?" So how would you secure valuable items, as opposed to securing the entire place?
anzha (138288) writes "After sponsoring a NASCAR racer, DogeCoin's community has wondered, 'What next?' The answer is literally 'To The Moon!' RevUp Render is sponsoring a DogeCoin promoting micro rover challenge, the Lunar Iditarod. The micro rovers, called DogeSleds, are the size of an smart phone and will be first qualified and then raced here on Earth. The top three competitors will be placed on a Google Lunar X PRIZE team's lunar lander to conduct a short, nine meter race on the moon itself. Registration opens on May 21st and closes July 31st for the first race. The first quarterly race will take place September 5th through September 7th. The event will be public and in the San Francisco Bay Area. All teams, international and American, are welcome, but be forewarned, all fees are in...dogecoin!"
angry tapir (1463043) writes "Embracing the widely used JSON data-exchange format, the new version of the PostgreSQL open-source database takes aim at the growing NoSQL market of nonrelational data stores, notably the popular MongoDB. The first beta version of PostgreSQL 9.4, released Thursday, includes a number of new features that address the rapidly growing market for Web applications, many of which require fast storage and retrieval of large amounts of user data."
An anonymous reader writes "The aviation industry has taken a tentative step toward electric power with the successful maiden flight of the Airbus E-Fan. The manufacturer known for the massive A380 jetliner began testing this small experimental aircraft last week, with the ultimate aim of lowering the huge carbon dioxide emissions from commercial flights. The E-FAN is powered by 120 lithium-polymer batteries, and can fly at speeds up to 136mph. Measuring just 19 feet from nose to tail, the compact aircraft show that Airbus probably isn't ready for commercial zero emissions flight just yet, but it does highlight the potential benefits."
MojoKid (1002251) writes "OCZ was recently acquired by Toshiba and has been going through its product stack, revamping its SSD portfolio with fresh re-designs based on Toshiba NAND Flash memory for not only increased performance but better cost structure as well. OCZ has now replaced their RevoDrive family of PCIe SSD cards with an almost complete re-designed of the product. The RevoDrive 350 is based on the same OCZ VCA 2.0 (Virtualized Controller Architecture) technology as the previous generation but is now enabled with a PCI Express X8 card interface and up to 4 LSI SandForce SD-2282 SSD processors, along with 19nm Toshiba NAND Flash. The good news is, not only is the new RevoDrive 350 faster at 1.8GB/sec claimed bandwidth for sequential reads and 1.7GB/sec for sequential writes, but it's also significantly more affordable, at literally half the price of the previous gen RevoDrive 3 when it first launched. In the benchmarks, the new PCIe card excels at read throughput, regularly hitting its 1.8GB/sec claimed bandwidth, especially with sequential workloads. Write performance is solid as well and the drive competes with the likes of some higher-end and more expensive SLC NAND-based PCIe cards like LSI's WarpDrive and Intel's SSD 910."
coop0030 (263345) writes "Becky Stern at Adafruit has created a guide on how to create an open source NFC ring or other wearable to mod and unlock your Android phone. From the tutorial: 'Unlock your phone by just picking it up! No more pesky password or gesture PIN, just scan an NFC tag! This guide covers creating an NFC ring, putting an NFC tag in your nail polish, modding your Android installation to read tags from the lockscreen, and creating an automation toolchain to unlock the phone when the desired tag is scanned.' There is also a video that demonstrates how it works."
finalcutmonstar (1862890) writes "With net neutrality dying a slow painful death, it is no surprise that in an investor call yesterday Comcast executive VP(and Darth Vader impersonator) David Cohen predicts bandwidth caps within the next 5 years. The cap would start at 300 GB and cost the customer subscriber an extra 10 USD for 50 GB. But, Cohen stated that 'I would also predict that the vast majority of our customers would never be caught in the buying the additional buckets of usage, that we will always want to say the basic level of usage at a sufficiently high level that the vast majority of our customers are not implicated by the usage-based billing plan.'" Update: 05/15 13:58 GMT by T : Correction: Cohen is actually talking about data transferred, rather than stored (as headline originally had it), as reader MAXOMENOS points out.
itwbennett writes: "In an emailed statement, Samsung offered its 'sincerest apology' for the sickness and deaths of some of its workers, vowing to compensate those affected and their families. So far there have been 26 reported victims of blood cancers who worked in Samsung's Gi-Heung and On-Yang semiconductor plants. Ten have died. Other alleged workplace-related illnesses include miscarriages, infertility, hair loss, blood disorders, kidney troubles and liver disease."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Adrienne LaFrance reports at the Atlantic that if you've tried listening to any of the old CDs lately from your carefully assembled collection from the 1980's or 1990's you may have noticed that many of them won't play. 'While most of the studio-manufactured albums I bought still play, there's really no telling how much longer they will. My once-treasured CD collection — so carefully assembled over the course of about a decade beginning in 1994 — isn't just aging; it's dying. And so is yours.'
Fenella France, chief of preservation research and testing at the Library of Congress is trying to figure out how CDs age so that we can better understand how to save them. But it's a tricky business, in large part because manufacturers have changed their processes over the years and even CDs made by the same company in the same year and wrapped in identical packaging might have totally different lifespans. 'We're trying to predict, in terms of collections, which of the types of CDs are the discs most at risk,' says France. 'The problem is, different manufacturers have different formulations so it's quite complex in trying to figure out what exactly is happening because they've changed the formulation along the way and it's proprietary information.' There are all kinds of forces that accelerate CD aging in real time. Eventually, many discs show signs of edge rot, which happens as oxygen seeps through a disc's layers. Some CDs begin a deterioration process called bronzing, which is corrosion that worsens with exposure to various pollutants. The lasers in devices used to burn or even play a CD can also affect its longevity. 'The ubiquity of a once dominant media is again receding. Like most of the technology we leave behind, CDs are are being forgotten slowly,' concludes LaFrance. 'We stop using old formats little by little. They stop working. We stop replacing them. And, before long, they're gone.'" You can donate CDs to be tested for aging characteristics by emailing the Center for the Library's Analytical Science Samples. I haven't had much trouble ripping discs that were pressed in the 80s (and acquired from used CD stores with who knows how many previous owners), but I'm starting to get nervous about not having flac rips of most of my discs.
An anonymous reader writes "You might recall the Debian port that is coming to OpenRISC (which is by the way making good progress with 5000 packages building) — Olof, a developer on the OpenRISC project, recently posted a lengthy status update about what's going on with OpenRISC. A few highlights are upstreamed binutils support, multicore becoming a thing, atomic operations, and a new build system for System-on-Chips."
chicksdaddy writes: "Dan Geer, the CISO of In-Q-Tel, has proposed giving embedded devices such as industrial control and SCADA systems a scheduled end-of-life in order to manage a future in which hundreds of billions of them will populate every corner of our personal, professional and lived environments. Individually, these devices may not be particularly valuable. But, together, IoT systems are tremendously powerful and capable of causing tremendous social disruption. 'Is all the technologic dependency, and the data that fuels it, making us more resilient or more fragile?' he wondered. Geer noted the appearance of malware like TheMoon, which spreads between vulnerable home routers, as one example of how a population of vulnerable, unpatchable embedded devices might be cobbled into a force of mass disruption. Geer proposes a novel solution: embedded systems that do not have a means of being (securely) managed and updated remotely should be configured with some kind of 'end of life,' past which they will cease to operate. Allowing embedded systems to 'die' will remove a population of remote and insecure devices from the Internet ecosystem and prevent those devices from falling into the hands of cyber criminals or other malicious actors, Geer argued."
joe5 writes "Many experts suggest that battery technology is really the key to the future of transportation. Its certainly the key to unlocking Tesla for even further growth. Today, a Japanese startup called Power Japan Plus unveiled a new battery chemistry that could significantly improve transportation batteries. In testing, the recycle-able cell has completed more than 3,000 charge/discharge cycles with virtually no performance degradation, meaning that it could conceivably last the lifetime of a car. They company won't yet provide too many details due to pending patents, and won't even say who its first customer is — but the chemistry requires 'specific and proprietary changes to the nanostructure of the carbon crystals.'"
Lucas123 writes: "The USB SuperSpeed+ spec (a.k.a. v3.1) offers up to 10Gbps throughput. Combine that with USB's new C-Type Connector, the specification for which is expected out in July, and users will have a symmetrical cable and plug just like Thunderbolt but that will enable up to 100 watts of power depending on the cable version. So where does that leave Thunderbolt, Intel's other hardware interconnect? According to some analysts, Thunderbolt withers or remains a niche technology supported almost exclusively by Apple. Even as Thunderbolt 2 offers twice the throughput (on paper) as USB 3.1, or up to 20Gbps, USB SuperSpeed+ is expected to scale past 40Gbps in coming years. 'USB's installed base is in the billions. Thunderbolt's biggest problem is a relatively small installed base, in the tens of millions. Adding a higher data throughput, and a more expensive option, is unlikely to change that,' said Brian O'Rourke, a principal analyst covering wired interfaces at IHS."
DroidJason1 writes: "Microsoft has unbundled the Kinect from the Xbox One. The unbundled system's price now matches the PlayStation 4. Microsoft is touting 'your feedback' as the reason for this move. Any Xbox One functionality that relies on voice, video, gestures, etc, will not work without a Kinect, and users will be able to purchase a standalone Kinect later this year."
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Over the past nine months, we've seen the beginnings of a revolution in how video games are displayed. First, Nvidia demoed G-Sync, its proprietary technology for ensuring smooth frame delivery. Then AMD demoed its own free standard, dubbed FreeSync, that showed a similar technology. Now, VESA (Video Electronics Standard Association) has announced support for "Adaptive Sync," as an addition to DisplayPort. The new capability will debut with DisplayPort 1.2a. The goal of these technologies is to synchronize output from the GPU and the display to ensure smooth output. When this doesn't happen, the display will either stutter due to a mismatch of frames (if V-Sync is enabled) or may visibly tear if V-Sync is disabled. Adaptive Sync is the capability that will allow a DisplayPort 1.2a-compatible monitor and video card to perform FreeSync without needing the expensive ASIC that characterizes G-Sync. You'll still need a DP1.2a cable, monitor, and video card (DP1.2a monitors are expected to ship year end). Unlike G-Sync, a DP1.2a monitor shouldn't cost any additional money, however. The updated ASICs being developed by various vendors will bake the capability in by default."
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.'"
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."
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."
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.'"
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)?"
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."