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Here's another one Tim spotted at Maker Faire Bay Area 2014: A Rubik's Cube solver made by 12-year-old Saurabh Narain. He's in 7th grade -- and started soldering in 2nd grade and messing with Linux in 3rd grade. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Tim asked. "An engineer..." (not that you couldn't have guessed). There may be faster Rubik's Cube solvers, and there may be slicker-looking ones, but Saurabh's is a lot more elegant, if you define engineering elegance as getting the most accomplished with the fewest possible parts, using the simplest possible design. And both of the fancier Rubik's Cuber solvers linked to in this paragraph were made by adult engineers, while Saurabh is 12. Can you imagine what he'll be like at 18? Or 28? Not that he's alone; there are lots of other engineering prodigies out there. The next 10 or 20 years are going to be amazing if we encourage young people to go into STEM, and even 5% of them are as smart as Saurabh. (Alternate Video Link)
jones_supa sends word that Apple has launched an exchange program for European iPhone USB power adapters. The company says its A1300 adapters were bundled with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S models, and were also sold on their own from Oct. 2009 to Sept. 2012. The reason for the recall is that the adapters "may overheat and pose a safety risk." No further details are provided (a YouTube video shows a teardown of the device).
MojoKid (1002251) writes Samsung unveiled its latest flagship tablet, the Galaxy Tab S, at an event in New York City tonight, and the new device is thin, lightweight, and sports a killer Super AMOLED display. Samsung boasts that the Galaxy Tab S's 2560x1600 display has 73% better color reproduction than conventional LCD displays and can match colors up to 94% of "nature's true palette" with deeper blacks and a 100,000:1 contrast ratio. The 10.5-inch device weighs just 467g and measures a mere 6.6mm in thickness (and there's an 8.4-inch version, too). Under the hood, the Galaxy Tab S features Android KitKat 4.4, 3GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of storage with a microSD slot that supports up to 128GB. The front camera is 2.1MP and the rear 8MP camera has an LED flash. No word on the exact processor on board just yet, other than it's a quad-core SoC. It's likely a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 though an Exynos variant or perhaps even Tegra 4 wouldn't be beyond the realm of possibility.
the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "The equipment that neuroscientists use to record brain signals is plenty expensive, with a single system costing upward of $60,000. But it turns out that it's not too complicated to build your own, for the cost of about $3000. Two MIT grad students figured out how to do just that, and are distributing both manufactured systems and their designs through their website, Open Ephys. Their goal is to launch an open-source hardware movement in neuroscience, so researchers can spend less time worrying about the gear they need and more time doing experiments."
Lucas123 (935744) writes Starbucks today announced that after beta-testing wireless charging in several locations, it will roll it out to all of its cafes in the U.S. Unfortunately, the Powermat wireless chargers they chose to use doesn't support the overwhelming number of mobile devices that are enabled for wireless charging using the Qi standard. Of the 20 million consumer devices estimated to have shipped in 2013 with wireless charging capabilities, nearly all were built with the Qi specification, according to IHS. The majority of the Qi technology was built into devices such as the Google Nexus 4 and 5 smartphones, Google's Nexus 7 second-generation tablet and a number of models in Nokia's Lumia smart phone range. The battle between the three wireless charging consortiums is expected to continue to adversely impact adoption of the technology.
By day John Hawley is a mild-mannered open hardware evangelist for Intel. But after hours he is the master of K-9, a robot dog he works on a little at a time. Yes, this is a Whovian thing, which is why John's K-9 looks so much like the Doctor's. But K-9 is also a pretty good dog on his/her own. No vet bills, no constant hunger, no barking at feral cats in the middle of the night, obeys every command... so maybe Dr. Who and John Hawley have the right idea when it comes to canines. Except.... aww.... my dog, Terri the Terrorist Terrier, just licked my hand. What a sweetie! Terri may not take orders from a hand-held remote, but she has a lot of other fine characteristics, including affection. K-9 is very cute in a squared-off, mechanical way, though. Hard to resist, despite a lack of soft fur and no tongue for licking his/her master's hand. (Alternate Video Link)
New submitter fffdddooo (3692429) writes I know it's something that people used to ask every few years, but answers get old so quickly. I'm an electronics teacher, and I'm wondering if it's possible to find some oscilloscope (and why not spectrum analyser?) for recommending to my students, to be able to work at home. I'm thinking of something near $50-$70. Two or three years ago, I'm sure the answer was No, but nowadays? The same reader points out two options spotted on Amazon: one that's "very cheap but Khz" (it's also a kit that requires assembly), and another that aims to be capable of 20MHz, 2-channel operation. What's out there, he'd like to know, that's not junk?
FrankPoole (1736680) writes According to a CRN investigative report, Cisco has been spending millions of dollars over several years to secretly purchase Juniper Networks' products, including new QFabric and MX series routers, for use in its 'competitive analysis lab,' where the products are tested and reverse engineered. According to the report, some of the Juniper products purchased by Cisco were still in beta and not yet commercially released. In addition, CRN discovered that a main source for Cisco to obtain these Juniper products was, ironically, a company called Torrey Point Group, a fast-growing VAR that was awarded Juniper's Part of the Year in 2011.
Nerval's Lobster writes: So far, the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset has found its most widespread use in gaming. But as the device rises in prominence, more companies are testing its capabilities as a work tool. Bloomberg is one of those companies, having designed software that allows Oculus-equipped traders and financial pros to view dozens of virtual "screens," each one packed with data. The platform is clearly aimed at those Masters of the Universe who stack their real-world desks with four, six or eight screens—the better to take the pulse of the markets. Think of it as a traditional Bloomberg terminal on steroids. "This is a mockup of how virtual reality can be applied in the workplace," Nick Peck, a Bloomberg employee responsible for creating the software, told Quartz. "I really wanted to explore how virtual reality could solve one of the most basic problems we hear about: limited screen real estate." A virtual-reality Bloomberg terminal isn't the only practical application proposed by Oculus Rift users: earlier this year, the Norwegian Armed Services began testing whether the hardware could be used to drive tanks, on the supposition that off-the-shelf cameras and a headset built for virtual gaming could prove cheaper than custom-built military equipment.
pacopico writes: HP Labs is trying to make a comeback. According to Businessweek, HP is building something called The Machine. It's a type of computer architecture that will use memristors for memory and silicon photonics for interconnects. Their plan is to ship within the next few years. As for The Machine's software, HP plans to build a new operating system to run on the novel hardware. The new computer is meant to solve a coming crisis due to limitations around DRAM and Flash. About three-quarters of HP Labs personnel are working on this project.
samzenpus (5) writes Andrew "bunnie" Huang holds a Ph.D in electrical engineering from MIT and is one of the most famous hardware and software hackers in the world. He is a contributing writer for MAKE magazine, and has worked on a number of projects ranging from autonomous robotic submarines to peel-and-stick electronics. We recently covered one of his latest projects, an open source hardware laptop called Novena which features entirely NDA-free components. Bunnie has agreed to take a break from his work and hack away at any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
muterobert (2927951) writes with an update on the full immersion VR system from Project Holodeck (now renamed Survios). The system combines an Oculus DK2 with external sensors to make a fully immersive 8x'8' space "Ben Lang from Road to VR goes hands on and heads in with virtual reality technology company Survios' newest version of untethered VR system 'Prime 3'. He moves around the virtual space, holding and reloading weapons as you would in real life. 'At one point while playing, I was wielding the shotgun with two hands, with the table of weapons was on my right side. Several zombies were approaching and I needed a bit more fire power. I dropped the shotgun, reached over with my right hand to grab the tommy gun off the table, then virtually tossed it from my right hand to my left hand (because I'm a lefty), then pulled my pistol out of the holster with my right hand and continued to shoot both weapons.'" The article has a video, and it almost makes me think it's what being in the metaverse would be like.
Vigile writes: NVIDIA announced its latest dual-GPU flagship card, the GeForce GTX Titan Z, at the GPU Technology Conference in late March with a staggering price point of $2999. Since that time, AMD announced and released the Radeon R9 295X2, its own dual-GPU card with a price tag of $1499. PC Perspective finally put the GTX Titan Z to the test and found that from a PC gamer's view, the card is way overpriced for the performance it offers. At both 2560x1440 and 3840x2160 (4K), the R9 295X2 offered higher and more consistent frame rates, sometimes by as much as 30%. The AMD card also only takes up two slots (though it does have a water cooling radiator to worry about) while the NVIDIA GTX Titan Z is a three-slot design. The Titan Z is quieter and uses much less power, but gamers considering a $1500 or $3000 graphics card selection are likely not overly concerned with power efficiency.
25-year electronics veteran Conrad Lee noticed that commodity multi-channel security DVRs have both more channels than a typical household needs and more capabilities than their makers advertise -- at least, with some creative re-use of their video feeds. With a home-grown controller hooked up to an otherwise unused video channel, a run of the mill security DVR can be used as a command center for household items, like lights, locks, thermostats, cameras, or whatever else you think of) by means of controls both old-fashioned (the ubiquitous X10 devices, some of which you probably have stashed in a drawer) and new (Z-wave). He showed off his system at last month's Maker Faire -- take a look (video below) at what his clever hardware re-use makes possible, and at Lee's controller. It means giving up one (relatively) inexpensive channel, to gain capabilities that would cost quite a bit more in a ready-built system, like smart-phone control and pan/tilt control for cameras. (Alternate Video Link)
New submitter turning in circles (2882659) writes 'Carbon based fuel cells require carbon doped with other elements, normally platinum, for oxygen reduction reactions. Urine contains carbon with an exciting splash of nitrogen, sulfur, potassium, silicon, and so on, and you don't have to manufacture it: the stuff just comes out by itself. In an article published this week in an open journal, researchers from Korea reported a new nanomaterial for fuel cells, which they dub "Urine Carbon." Upon drying, and then heating at 1000C, and rinsing of salts, the resulting Urine Carbon porous nanostructures outperformed Carbon/platinum in electrodes.'
An anonymous reader writes "South African makerstore OpenHardware.co.za has designed and built a new RepRap-derivative 3D printer which it plans to sell for less than R5000 ($470). The first completed units are being put together now, with an eye to shipping late June. Store owner Peter van der Walt says that he designed Babybot — which has a print area equivalent to a RepRap Prusa Mendel-style machine — in order to reduce build and support costs. He's been selling various RepRap designs in kit form for two years, but as they become more popular is struggling to keep up with demand and handle returns. By sourcing more materials locally — he also designs his own controller boards — he's looking to beat the likes of RS Components and large shopping chains which have begun shipping the likes of Cubify in the country."
Last month, at Maker Faire Bay Area 2014, Timothy Lord spotted a guy wearing a very large piece of headgear that included two crossed wrenches. The guy turned out to be Mike Szczys, Managing Editor of hackaday.com, which says, "The Hackaday Prize will send one person into space for building the next evolution of hardware." That's certainly of interest to the hardware hacker/maker crowd. How they're going to arrange the space flight (probably one of those "just above the atmosphere" hops) isn't specified, but even so the contest is an interesting idea, and the Hack A Day site seems to have some interest hacks and tutorials on it. So go ahead and enter the contest -- and don't forget to take your camera with you on your flight into space, because we'll want to see pictures! (Alternate Video Link)
redletterdave (2493036) writes "Elon Musk has said repeatedly he wants to 'do something controversial' with Tesla's collection of electric car patents, but he finally offered specifics at the UK launch of his Tesla Model S on Sunday. The Tesla Motors CEO said he would like to open up the designs for his Supercharger systems — the free fast-charging stations designed to quickly refuel Tesla's electric cars — to create a standard for other car makers to use. Musk previously said he didn't want Superchargers to become a 'walled garden.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Wireless security researcher Michael Ossmann asked himself: 'Could I make the gadgets that the agency uses to monitor and locate mobile phones, tap USB and Ethernet connections, maintain persistent malware on PCs, communicate with malware across air gaps, and more, by just using open source software and hardware?' In this podcast he shares his insights on what to use — and how — to duplicate hardware devices found in the ANT catalog."
An anonymous reader writes "For the first time in eight years, Sony has overtaken Nintendo on the total number of game consoles sold. Sony sold 18.7 million consoles in the last financial year, compared to Nintendo sales of 16.3 million. Sony's PlayStation 4 has emerged as the bestselling 'new-gen' console. But demand for Nintendo's Wii U — with its touchscreen controller — has lagged far behind the original Wii, which was the most popular hardware of the last generation."
An anonymous reader writes in with the story of how MIT's fusion energy experiment is alive and well even though its federal funding was axed. "'In the end, it is about picking a winner and a parochial effort to direct money to MIT,' said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington-based watchdog group. 'It's certainly a case of lawmakers bucking the president and putting their thumb on the scale for a particular project.' MIT enlisted the support of a wealthy Democratic donor from Concord and the help of an influential Washington think-tank co-founded by John Kerry. These efforts were backed by lobbyists, including a former congressman from Massachusetts, with connections to the right lawmakers on the right committees. The cast also included an alliance of universities, industry and national labs, all invested in the fusion dream. 'It's ground-breaking research that could lead an energy revolution,' [Senator Elizabeth] Warren said. 'This was not about politics. This was about good science.' The revival of MIT's project, whatever its merits, clearly demonstrated what the combination of old-fashioned Washington horse-trading and new-fangled power — both nuclear and political — can do."
msm1267 (2804139) writes "If enterprises are indeed moving services off premises and into the cloud, there are four letters those companies' IT organizations should be aware of: IPMI. Short for Intelligent Platform Management Interface, these tiny computers live as an embedded Linux system attached to the motherboards of big servers from vendors such as IBM, Dell and HP. IPMI is used by a Baseboard Management Controller (BMC) to manage Out-of-Band communication, essentially giving admins remote control over servers and devices, including memory, networking capabilities and storage. This is particularly useful for hosting providers and cloud services providers who must manage gear and data in varied locations.
Noted researchers Dan Farmer, creator of the SATAN vulnerability scanner, and HD Moore, creator of Metasploit, have been collaborating on research into the vulnerabilities present in IPMI and BMCs and the picture keeps getting uglier. Last July, Farmer and Moore published some research on the issue based upon work Farmer was doing under a DARPA Cyber Fast Track Grant that uncovered a host of vulnerabilities, and Internet-wide scans for the IPMI protocol conducted by Moore. Farmer released a paper called 'Sold Down the River,' in which he chastises big hardware vendors for ignoring security vulnerabilities and poor configurations that are trivial to find and exploit."
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers from Columbia University's Network Security Lab discovered a flaw affecting millions of Smart TVs supporting the HbbTV standard. The flaw allows a radio-frequency attacker with a low budget to take control over tens of thousands of TVs in a single attack, forcing the TVs to interact with any website on their behalf — Academic paper available online."
Lucas123 writes: 'Scientists developing smart robotic prosthetics say the lines between robots and humans is beginning to blur and that someday soon people will be able to improve their body. For example, robotic prosthetics, using a built-in computer, 100 sensors, and 17 motors, can take natural cues from a user's residual limb, giving him or her the dexterity and grace to play a piano. Robotic exoskeletons have helped people suffering from paralysis walk again and the U.S. military is just weeks away from testing a new exoskeleton. And, more than six years ago, a University of Arizona researcher who had successfully connected a moth's brain to a robot predicted that by 2022 we'll be using "hybrid" computers that run a combination of technology and living organic tissue. "By utilizing technology, you're able to improve your body beyond anything you could do in the past," said Daniel Wilson, an engineer with degrees in machine learning and robotics from Carnegie Mellon University.'
Vigile (99919) writes "Since the introduction of Intel's Ivy Bridge processors there was a subset of users that complained about the company's change of thermal interface material between the die and the heat spreader. With the release of the Core i7-4790K, Intel is moving to a polymer thermal interface material that claims to improve cooling on the Haswell architecture, along with the help of some added capacitors on the back of the CPU. Code named Devil's Canyon, this processor boosts stock clocks by 500 MHz over the i7-4770K all for the same price ($339) and lowers load temperatures as well. Unfortunately, in this first review at PC Perspective, overclocking doesn't appear to be improved much."
jfruh (300774) writes "Blue River Technology built a robot named LettuceBot that uses computer vision to kill unwanted lettuce plants in a field. Rather than build their creation from scratch, they built off of the Robot Operating System, an open source OS that, in the words of one engineer, 'allowed only a few engineers to write an entire system and receive our first check for service in only a few months.' With ROS robots starting to appear everywhere, including the International Space Station, it looks like open source may be making huge strides in this area."
malachiorion writes: "Remember when, about a month ago, Stephen Hawking warned that artificial intelligence could destroy all humans? It wasn't because of some stunning breakthrough in AI or robotics research. It was because the Johnny Depp-starring Transcendence was coming out. Or, more to the point, it's because science fiction's first robots were evil, and even the most brilliant minds can't talk about modern robotics without drawing from SF creation myths. This article on the biggest sci-fi-inspired myths of robotics focuses on R.U.R, Skynet, and the ongoing impact of allowing make-believe villains to pollute our discussion of actual automated systems."
MojoKid (1002251) writes 'Microsoft confirmed a development rumor that's been swirling around its next-generation console ever since it announced Kinect would become an optional add-on rather than a mandatory boat anchor. Lifting that requirement will give game developers 10 percent additional graphics power to play with and help close the gap between the Xbox One and PS4. The story kicked off when Xbox head Phil Spencer tweeted that June's Xbox One dev kit gave devs access to more GPU bandwidth. Further, another Microsoft representative then confirmed that the performance improvement coming in the next version of the Xbox SDK was the result of making Kinect an optional accessory. No matter how Microsoft may try to spin it, cancelling Kinect isn't just a matter of giving game developers freedom, it's a tacit admission that game developers have no significant projects in play that are expected to meaningfully tap Kinect to deliver a great game experience — and they need those GPU cycles back.' Also on the Xbox capabilities front: Reader BogenDorpher (2008682) writes 'In August of last year, a Microsoft spokesman confirmed that the Xbox One controller will be compatible for PC users sometime in 2014. That time has finally come. Windows gamers can now use the Xbox One controller to play games on their computer. If a game supports a USB gamepad or the Xbox 360 controller, it will also support the Xbox One controller.'
Jabrwock (985861) writes 'One of the biggest limitations on lithium battery-powered electric cars has been their range. Last year Israeli-based Phinergy introduced an "aluminum-air" battery. Today, partnering with Alcoa Canada, they announced a demo of the battery, which is charged up at Alcoa's aluminum smelter in Quebec. The plant uses hydro-electric power to charge up the battery, which would then need a tap-water refill every few months, and a swap (ideally at a local dealership) every 3,000km, since it cannot be recharged as simply as Lithium. The battery is meant to boost the range of standard electric cars, which would still use the Lithium batteries for short-range trips. The battery would add about 100 kg to an existing Tesla car's battery weight.'
Nerval's Lobster writes: 'Following up on news that ActiveLink is building heavy-duty exoskeletons for work in nuclear plants, IEEE Spectrum reports that MIT researchers are experimenting with Supernumerary Robotic Limbs (SRLs) that attach to either the shoulder or waist. The SRLs are capable of lifting objects and bracing against solid surfaces. From the article: "The SRL watches what you're doing with your arms to decide how to move. It does that by monitoring two inertial measurement units (IMUs) that the user wears on the wrists. A third IMU sits at the base of the robot's shoulder mount, to track the overall orientation and motion of the SRL." In the future, we will all have the ability to become Doctor Octopus (minus two robo-limbs, of course).'
The Fuel 3-D website has a blurb that says, "The world’s first handheld point-and-shoot, full color 3D scanner. Our planned list price is $1500 but by placing your advanced order now you pay only $1,250. Fire up your creativity!" We've thought about getting a 3-D scanner ever since we first messed with a 3-D printer, but we've thought more about something in the sub-$300 price range than in $1000+ territory. But that's just us. There is no doubt a healthy market for 3-D scanners to use in commercial applications where $1250 (or even $1500) is hardly worth noticing. Ah, well. Maybe we need to look at the The DAVID website which describes their device as an "Incredibly Low-Cost 3D Scanner for Everyone!" Their 3-D starter kit is only $529 from a randomly-selected U.S. reseller, which isn't too bad compared to the alternatives. But waiting for prices in this market niche to come down is another possibility, and it's one a whole lot of individuals -- including us -- and smaller companies will probably choose. (Alternate Video Link)
Hallie Siegel writes: "The European Commission and 180 companies and research organizations (under the umbrella of euRobotics) have launched the world's largest civilian research and innovation program in robotics. Covering manufacturing, agriculture, health, transport, civil security and households, the initiative – called SPARC – is the E.U.'s industrial policy effort to strengthen Europe's position in the global robotics market (€60 billion a year by 2020). This initiative is expected to create over 240,000 jobs in Europe, and increase Europe's share of the global market to 42% (a boost of €4 billion per year). The European Commission will invest €700 million and euRobotics will invest €2.1 billion."
This is something that caught Tim Lord's eye as he cruised the 2014 Bay Area Maker Faire: A 360 4K-resolution video camera. It's not out yet for retail sale, but if you look at the Centrcam website you can see a number of videos their cameras have shot, including some high-motion ones that they say, truthfully, are excellent to watch full-screen. The people who came up with this aren't college students who have never done any professional design work. Rather, they're "the same team that engineered and built the Apple iPhone cameras." So it's no wonder they have made something pretty cool that has already been used to make videos for Fox Sports, National Geographic, and the U.S. Army, among others. Their Kickstarter blurb is pretty cool, too. It is one of the most detailed ones we've ever seen. It's sad that they only got $607,628 of their $900,000 funding goal, considering all the work they've put into their product, along with the great presentation. They didn't know this would happen at the time this video was shot at the Maker Faire; their Kickstarter time window didn't close until four days ago. But there are other ways to fund a startup, and we hope they manage find one -- because we would eventually like to get our hands on one of their cameras and test it for ourselves, possibly with a little help from some of the Bradenton Riverwalk Skatepark regulars. (Alternate Video Link)
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Last year, Intel launched two new processor families based on the Haswell and Ivy Bridge-E based Core i7 architecture. Both chips were just incremental updates over their predecessors. Haswell may have delivered impressive gains in mobile, but it failed to impress on the desktop where it was only slightly faster than the chip it replaced. Enthusiasts weren't terribly excited about either core but Intel is hoping its new Devil's Canyon CPU, which launches today, will change that. The new chip is the Core i7-4790K and it packs several new features that should appeal to the enthusiast and overclocking markets. First, Intel has changed the thermal interface material from the paste it used in the last generation over to a new Next Generation Polymer Thermal Interface Material, or as Intel calls it, "NGPTIM." Moving Haswell's voltage regulator on-die proved to be a significant problem for overclockers since it caused dramatic heat buildup that was only exacerbated by higher clock speeds. Overclockers reported that removing Haswell's lid could boost clock speeds by several hundred MHz. The other tweak to the Haswell core is a great many additional capacitors, which have been integrated to smooth power delivery at higher currents. This new chip gives Haswell a nice lift. If the overclocking headroom delivers on top of that, enthusiasts might be able to hit 4.7-4.8GHz on standard cooling."
An anonymous reader writes "The last time we saw Valve's prototype VR headset, which they said was built to the spec that could be found in a consumer product by 2015, it was a using an 'inside-out' tracking approach where a camera mounted on the VR headset tracked markers placed all over the walls and ceiling of the demo room. This week, at a VR meetup in Boston, Valve had a new prototype to show, featuring an 'outside-in' tracking approaching where a single camera trackings IR-LEDs built into the case of the VR headset, much like the forthcoming Oculus Rift DK2. Valve's latest prototype is thought to be using two 1080p displays in portrait orientation, compared to a single 1080p display in the Oculus Rift DK2."
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Crucial has been on a tear as of late. In the last few weeks alone, the company has released a couple of new series of solid state drives, one targeting the enthusiast segment (the M550) and the other targeting data centers (the M500DC). Today, Crucial is at it again with the launch of the brand new MX100 series. The Crucial MX100 series of solid state drives is somewhat similar to the M550 in that they both use the same Marvell controller. The MX100, however, is outfitted with more affordable 16nm NAND flash, and as such, the drives are priced aggressively at about .43 per GiB. However, these MX100 series of drives are still rated for 550MB/s sequential reads with 500MB/s (512GB), 330MB/s (256GB), or 150MB/s (128GB) and random read and write IOPS of 90K – 80K and 85K – 40K, respectively. The drives carry a 3-year warranty and are rated for 72TB total bytes written (TBW), which equates to 40GB written per day for 5 years. Performance-wise, these new lower cost SSDs, are on par with some of the fastest SSDs currently on the market but starting at $79.99 for the 128GB drive, they're relatively rather cheap."
An anonymous reader writes "Nick Pitton, the developer behind the Spirited Away Boiler Room VR experience, has released his second project: the bus stop scene from Studio Ghibli's famous movie My Neighbor Totoro, once again in virtual reality for the Oculus Rift. Pittom 'hand-painted' the textures in Photoshop to recreated the painted-background feel of the movie. For the characters (Totoro and the Catbus) he used a cel-shaded approached to approximate the animated look from the movie. For his next project, he plans to recreate the ship and characters from the acclaimed anime Cowboy Bebop."
TechCrunch is among the many outlets which carry news (based on a release from MIT professor Daniela Rus) of robots that take advantage of materials engineered to change shape with the application of heat. With carefully planned creases and slits "printed" into flat sheets of plastic, heat-induced deformation can be channeled to create complex three-dimentional shapes, something between origami and Shrinky-Dinks. The creases can also be used to create moving parts in the finished product, and -- as with papercraft -- folding, overlapping and other techniques can increase the stiffness or otherwise give useful properties to the robot bodies formed. From the article: "This project could also produce a variable resistor by opening or closing an electric component and even create metallic muscles that contract when heated or current is applied. It’s obviously still in very early stages right now but Rus and her team will exhibit the technology at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation this year and maybe, one day, our cake-like robotic servants will rise up and bake us."
New submitter janvlug (3677453) writes "[As of Saturday, May 31], the OpenPandora case and hardware design files have been released for non-commercial use. The OpenPandora is a hand held Linux computer with gaming controls, but essentially it is an all-purpose computer. The OpenPandora offers the greatest possible degree of software freedom to a vibrant community of users and developers."
SlappingOysters (1344355) writes "Grab It is reporting that Apple will stream its 2014 WWDC keynote live at 10am PST on June 2. The site speculates that a recent update to showcase title and previous keynote star Real Racing 3 could confirm a rumoured microconsole announcement. The App Store has seen a dramatic rise in the quality and frequency of AAA spin-off titles over the last year, giving Apple a good platform to make a move into this emerging space."
Tekla Perry (3034735) writes "Former Sun executives and employees gathered in Mountain View, Calif., in May, and out came the 'real' stories. Andy Bechtolsheim reports that Steve Jobs wasn't the only one who set out to copy the Xerox Parc Alto; John Gage wonders why so many smart engineers couldn't figure out that it would have been better to buy tables instead of kneepads for the folks doing computer assembly; Vinod Khosla recalls the plan to 'rip-off Sun technology,' and more."
An anonymous reader writes "After only one year in operation, Google's Moto X factory in Fort Worth, TX, is scheduled to close at the end of 2014. The decision to close apparently has nothing to do with Google's decision to sell Motorola Mobility to Lenovo and everything to do with poor sales numbers and high labor and shipping costs in the U.S. The factory had, at one point, employed 3,800 people. Their ranks now number at about 700. Moto E and Moto G, newer and cheaper iterations of Moto X, have sold in more profitable numbers overseas, so Google's original rationale of building phones nearer to the largest customer base to decrease time between assembly and delivery to end user will unsurprisingly force the closure of the U.S.-based factory and transfer labor overseas as well."
An anonymous reader writes "What got you into hacking? This is a question that Jennifer Steffen, IOActive CEO, often asks hackers she meets on conferences around the world. More often than not, the answer is movies: War Games, Hackers, The Matrix, and so on. But today, it is the real life hacking that is inspiring the movies of tomorrow. 'Hackers are doing epic stuff,' she says, and they are now inspiring movies and comics. So, what got you started? And what makes a good hacker today?"
Meet David. Tim Lord ran into him at the 2014 Maker Faire Bay Area. He didn't have a display, and he wasn't obviously trying to sell anything or promote a Kickstarter campaign. He was just walking around with a panel full of LEDs that he wears as a backpack while riding his bike, which beats the heck out of regular bike taillights, even the blinky flashy ones a lot of us have these days. So good on you, David. This is your three minutes of Slashdot fame -- and please note, people, that you can now fast-forward through any preroll ads longer than 30 seconds, so you won't get bombed with multi-minute ads to watch a three minute Slashdot video. (Alternate video link)
An anonymous reader writes "The SparkFun team took a tour of a factory in China that manufactures LEDs. They took lots of pictures showing the parts that go into the LEDs, the machines used to build them, and the people operating the machines. There's a surprising amount of manual labor involved with making LEDs. Quoting: 'As shipped on the paper sheets, the LED dies are too close together to manipulate. There is a mechanical machine ... that spreads the dies out and sticks them to a film of weak adhesive. This film is suspended above the lead frames ... Using a microscope, the worker manually aligns the die, and, with a pair of tweezers, pokes the die down into the lead frame. The adhesive in the lead frame wins (is more sticky), and the worker quickly moves to the next die. We were told they can align over 80 per minute or about 40,000 per day.'"
DeviceGuru writes: "An open-spec COM that runs OpenWRT Linux on a MIPS-based Ralink RT5350 SoC has won its Indiegogo funding. The $20, IoT-focused VoCore measures 25 x 25mm. How low can you go? Tiny computer-on-modules (COMs) for Internet of Things (IoT) applications are popping up everywhere, with recent, Linux-ready entries including Intel's Atom or Quark-based Edison, Ingenic's MIPS/Xburst-based Newton, Acme Systems's ARM9/SAM9G25 based Arrietta G25, and SolidRun's quad-core i.MX6-based MicroSOM. Now, an unnamed Chinese startup has raised over six times its $6,000 Indiegogo funding goal for what could be the smallest, cheapest Linux COM yet."
cartechboy writes: "Most automakers have made the jump from hydraulic power steering to electronic power steering to help conserve fuel. By using an electric motor instead of a hydraulic system, less energy is drawn from the engine. Many luxury automakers have also introduced adaptive steering with the electronic power steering systems, but now Ford is looking to bring this feature to the masses. Adaptive steering builds on the existing speed-sensitive function of the electronic power steering system by altering the steering ratio and effort based on driver inputs and settings. The system uses a precision-controlled actuator placed inside the steering wheel. It's an electric motor and gearing system that can essentially add or subtract from the driver's steering inputs. This will make the vehicle easier to maneuver at low speeds, and make a vehicle feel more stable at high speeds. The system (video) will be offered on certain Ford vehicles within the next 12 months."
An anonymous reader writes "After the HD revolution, display manufacturers rolled out gimmick after gimmick to try to recapture that burst of purchasing (3-D, curved displays, 'Smart' features, form factor tweaks, etc). Now, we're finally seeing an improvement that might actually be useful: 4K displays are starting to drop into a reasonable price range. Tech Report reviews a 28" model from Asus that runs $650. They say, 'Unlike almost every other 4K display on the market, the PB287Q is capable of treating that grid as a single, coherent surface. ... Running games at 4K requires tons of GPU horsepower, yet dual-tile displays don't support simple scaling. As a result, you can't drop back to obvious subset resolutions like 2560x1440 or 1920x1080 in order to keep frame rendering times low. ... And single-tile 4K at 30Hz stinks worse, especially for gaming. The PB287Q solves almost all of those problems.' They add that the monitor's firmware is not great, and while most options you want are available, they often require digging through menus to set up. The review ends up recommending the monitor, but notes that, more importantly, its capabilities signify 'the promise of better things coming soon.'"
jfruh (300774) writes "Amazon is pushing hard to be as ubiquitous in the world of cloud computing as it is in bookselling. The company's latest pitch is that even your highest-performing databases will run more efficiently on Amazon Web Services cloud servers than on your own hardware. Farming out your most important and potentially sensitive computing work to one of the most opaque tech companies out there: what could possibly go wrong?"